|“||Me? Hahaha… I am a non-blood.||„|
|~ Grey Mask revealing that he is a non-blood.|
|“||No. I will destroy your soul and everyone else's in here. You are nothing but witnesses.||„|
|~ Grey Mask reveals his true plans for the trapped players, dismissing them as nothing more than witness, showing no remorse.|
|“||Take them to the prison. I must finish preparations for shutting down the game.||„|
|~ Grey Mask as he captures the protagonists and is about to shut down the game and kill all the players.|
Russell Barnes, also known as "Grey Mask," is the main antagonist of the fourth Sapphirefoxx comic series Maker's Game. He is a non-blood man who found out about sorcerers a long time ago and learned magic. However, he wished to become a real sorcerer himself. To fulfill this purpose, he created the NVR game, Age of Adventurers.
Russell Barnes is an adult man with fair skin, brown hair, and brown eyes. When he hacked Star Reach Studios, he wore a black hoodie and blue jeans along with his mask.
As Grey Mask, he wears a grey-colored mask that he uses to cover his face and identity, along with a black armor and black cloak that covers his entire body, and a quiver for holding arrows that he uses with his crossbow.
Russell Barnes first appeared in page 1 (although it was unrevealed who he was), where it is set back in 1999, Russell encountered Logan Reyes who had been injured by a fire, and realizing he just found something valuable, he decided he cannot let anyone else find out and murdered Logan. Russell eventually learned about sorcerers and used the knowledge of what he found to teach himself magic.
Age of Adventurers
Later, in pages 10–11, where the year is now 2016, Russell sets up a power outage, so he can use the distraction to disguise himself as Grey Mask so he can hack the Age of Adventurers server directly to prevent players from logging out and giving himself total control of the game. In page 14, as Russell asked his employee for the status on the hacker, he is suggested that they turn off AoA, but Russell refrains from doing so that he can carry out his plans undisturbed, under the pretense of possible public outrage. In pages 47–48, it's revealed that Grey Mask has taken over the Source Zone, the spot for the admins to control the games, and has been holding the admins captive to prevent them from getting in his way. He reappears in pages 72–73, after Nick kills the Wanted Player CherryBlossom, Grey Mask and his minions arrive to take her away, and when Nick demands gold for the kill, Grey Mask divides the money equally between Nick, Yuzuki, Hikaru, and Leon, and afterwards, takes his leave with CherryBlossom as his prisoner.
In pages 156-162, Russell Barnes returns from work to his home, where he finds out that his son, Henry, logged into AoA. Russell logs into AoA using a preset that matches his wife, Stacey's appearance, hoping that Henry would listen to him if Henry believed it was his mom. When he logs on, he gets an alert from the captured admins, who warns him about "Grey Mask." Russell feigns innocence to gain the admins' trust and goes to look for Henry. In pages 181-186, Russell encounters the protagonists while looking for Henry, and asks them for information. After he disables some NPCs, he is exposed as an admin to the group and reveals what happened at Star Reach Studios, gaining their trust, and takes his leave to go find Henry.
He returns as Grey Mask in pages 218-223, due to being unable to find Henry earlier, he decided to take a more violent approach, ordering his minions to destroy the town and kill anyone that tries to leave. When Yuzuki tries to attack him, she only manages to deal one damage and is killed by Grey Mask. He then proceeds to kill Leon and Hikaru for showing the attitude towards him, and threatens to do the same with Chris, but Chris doesn't badmouth him, which makes Grey Mask act merciful. When asked about his goals, he claims that after he gets what he wants, he'll let everyone go, and tricks Chris into working for him and upgrades his armor before taking his leave.
In pages 251-258, Grey Mask appears after Chris kills the Wanted Player, Steelclaw. After capturing Steelclaw, Chris's party comes by and sees that he is working with Grey Mask. He watches as Chris fights his friends, Chris kills Hikaru, but Yuzuki and Leon manage to kill him, afterwards Grey Mask sarcastically applauds the two for killing Chris, because Chris will simply respawn, but then, Chris is marked as a Wanted Player, and it's revealed that the Wanted Players are all sorcerers. Chris tries to fight back against Grey Mask, but is overpowered and captured by Grey Mask. Grey Mask warns the party to not get in his way again, but when Yuzuki shows him attitude, he shows how he can make things worse, by turning Yuzuki into a male version of herself, and summons a rain in the area before taking his leave.
In pages 263-267, Grey Mask's true intentions are revealed, as he has been capturing sorcerers by marking them as Wanted Players and scanning their blood to find an Emerald bloodline, which is found through Chris. Grey Mask reveals his origin as a non-blood who found out about sorcerers and how he learned magic, but wanted to become a real sorcerer. So when AoA came out, he found the perfect opportunity to get his wish, and he revealed that he intends to accomplish his goal by soul transferring, and the fact that he never intended to let anyone leave AoA, and reveals that he intends to kill the souls of everyone in AoA, with artificial souls replacing them in real life. Afterwards, he hooks Chris to a machine to extract his soul in about 8 hours time.
In pages 275-285, he confronts Hikaru, Yuzuki, and Leon when they break into the Source Zone to rescue Chris. He reduces their healths to critical level, kills the dragon that brought them to the Source Zone, locks them up with the admins, and tells them to enjoy the last hour of their lives. However, Nick has also snuck into the Source Zone and frees his friends and the admins. When Grey Mask hears that the admins escaped, he leaves the room Chris is in to recapture the admins, allowing Chris's friends to free him and give Chris a Magebloom. When Grey Mask returns to see that Chris has been freed, Chris uses his regained magic to fight Grey Mask and successfully kills him. However, he respawns and summons five Level 100 Colossus to confront Chris's group and the freed sorcerers, killing Yuzuki and Leon; Chris tries to fight Grey Mask, but Grey Mask restrains Chris so that he can't use magic. However, CherryBlossom moves Chris's finger for him and everyone is able to escape before they get crushed by a Colossus, much to Grey Mask's anger.
In pages 299-300, Grey Mask rages at having lost his sorcerer prisoners and lash out at one of his minions. He decides to lure Chris to him by using an artificial soul of Chris in the real world to convince Chris's girlfriend, Isabelle into playing AoA. Even though she's paranoid about it, Grey Mask successfully makes her log in to the game. In pages 308-309, Grey Mask arrives to capture Isabelle after she was killed. He quickly kills the player who killed Isabelle, bruises Isabelle's left eye and captures her. Then, he sends an announcement to all players in Mysteria. He reveals that he captured Isabelle and tells Chris to come and get her within two days or he will start torturing her until Chris comes or he decides to move onto another sorcerer, stating that when he's done with her, she will wish she was dead for real.
In pages 319-320, Russell contacts Chris to secretly gain information about his and his friends' plan against Grey Mask the next day. Chris reveals that he is thinking of distracting Grey Mask, and have Nick steal his tablet while Chris distracts him. Russell declines on the idea of going with Chris, claiming that he cannot put too much at stake for Chris's girlfriend.
In pages 335-342, Grey Mask is at the Yogorian Ridge with Isabelle as his prisoner. As he talks with Isabelle whether Chris is willing to risk his life to save her, he gets bored and decides to rape Isabelle, but then, Chris arrives as Cynthel, claiming that he came to give himself up. Chris makes a deal with Grey Mask, stating that he will give up his body willingly in exchange for Isabelle's freedom. However, Grey Mask laughs at Chris's statement, asking if Chris really thought Grey Mask would agree to it, and says that they can go to the afterlife together. But then, Chris reveals that he actually transformed his real body into his character avatar, and therefore, could use magic and blasts Grey Mask with an electric attack. Then, Chris's party all attack him at once, temporarily stunning Grey Mask. However, as Nick moves in to take Grey Mask's tablet, Grey Mask disables stun effect and prevents Nick from getting the tablet and orders his Colossi to attack the heroes. As he stands bragging about how he's "invincible" in AoA, it's revealed that the Chris that was with the group is actually a construct, whom the real Chris created in case the original plan failed. The real Chris grabs Grey Mask by the neck and throws his tablet to Hikaru, who is able to despawn the Colossi and reduce Grey Mask to Level 1, allowing Chris to kill Grey Mask again. Following Grey Mask's death, Hikaru notes that Grey Mask may still have access to the Source Zone, so Hikaru is told to restrict Grey Mask's access to it.
In pages 358-359, Grey Mask sends another announcement to all the players, claiming that he will free everyone if they capture Chris, and also gives information on his friends, telling everyone to do whatever it takes to find them. In pages 362-36, it's revealed that Grey Mask was somehow able to log out of his account and possibly have multiple accounts in case he was defeated. He is also revealed to have engaged a "Red Protocol" that will kill anyone who tries to enter the Source Zone, and deleted all the Death Bosses.
In pages 363-364, Russell is contacted by the protagonists and feigns amazement when they tell him that they managed to take Grey Mask's tablet. Russell asks the protagonists to bring the tablet to a meeting point at the Red Rocks north of Zentranis.
In pages 394-404, the protagonists arrive at the Red Rocks and gives Russell the tablet. After a moment of pretending to work on the tablet, Russell reveals himself to be Grey Mask by killing Hikaru, and that AoA and the NVR were all merely created for Russell's goal. He also reveals that he is the one that was able to log out, and that by exploiting the trust between the admins, he was able to recapture them. Chris tells Isabelle to run, and he and his friends take on Russell. Russell has the upper hand, killing Leon, Yuzuki, and Nick, until only Chris is left. As Chris deals 5 million damage to Russell, he reveals that he disabled his character's ability to die. As Chris starts to run low on mana, Russell manages to catch him, only to learn that "Chris" is really Isabelle in disguise. However, Russell decides to seek an easier way and instead swaps accounts with Isabelle, which in turn, make Isabelle turn into Russell and vice-versa. As the transformation completes, Russell reveals that the NVR has a memory scan function and uses it to get access to Isabelle's spells and restrain her. As the real Chris comes back, Russell fools Chris into thinking that he beat "Russell" (actually Isabelle transformed into him). Chris reveals that he got a note to destroy Russell's tablet, so Russell hands the tablet to Chris, who destroys it. Then, Chris's friends are teleported from the graveyard to back at the Red Rocks. Then, a portal to Logan appears, and the protagonists and Russell go through the portal, leaving the real Isabelle behind.
In pages 406-417, the protagonists and Russell are taken to the Wilds, where they meet Logan, who reveals his relations to Russell, and how Russell created AoA by using Logan's preserved body and few of his soul fragments, and that without Logan, the systems of AoA would not be able to function. Logan also reveals how he's been helping the players all along as the Death Bosses, mageblooms, and the baby dragons were all his creations. As Logan opens a portal to the Source Zone to re-enable the logout buttons, Chris asks "Isabelle" if she's looking forward to getting their own apartment, to which "Isabelle" does not know anything about, allowing Chris to realize that "Isabelle" is really Russell and attacks him. After subduing Chris, Russell voices his intent to kill off the protagonists and escape back into the real world, but Logan realizes it's Russell and changes Russell back into himself.
However, in response, Russell activates Black Protocol, in which if Logan's game avatar is killed, Logan's soul fragments will perish, and AoA will shut down, killing everyone trapped inside. As Russell starts inflicting damage on Logan, the protagonists start backing up Logan as they work to lower Russell's health, to which Russell only brags that if they kill him, he'll just respawn. As the heroes and Russell continue to fight, Logan tells the heroes to weaken Russell to below 5 percent health, as Russell inflicts a serious damage on Logan and command the system to log him out after Logan dies. As Logan is down to 3 percent health, Nick sneaks up behind him and cuts his arm off.
After that, Nick holds down Russell, allowing Leon to cut off Russell's other arm. As the heroes are ready to kill Russell, Logan tells them to leave him alive as he has a way to stop Russell from respawning. Russell states that he can never be stopped, only for Logan to remove Russell's soul from his body, leaving him completely helpless. Nick suggests smashing Russell's soul and killing him, but Logan wishes for Russell to be punished for his crimes as Yuzuki agrees. Afterwards, Logan heals Chris and gives him Russell's soul to hand over to the authorities when they're back in the real world.
ImprisonmentIn page 430, it is revealed that when Chris woke up in the real world, he had Russell's soul with him, which he turned over to the DSC. Director Zephys revealed that the SPF are raiding Russell's house and underground lab, and they already found more than enough evidence to put Russell away for life. On charges of: 1 count of murder of a sorcerer, 364,763 counts of non-blood kidnapping and attempted murder, 36 counts of sorcerer kidnapping and attempted murder, and a laundry list of other severe offenses, the authorities assure the protagonists that Russell will never see the light of day again. It's also revealed that after Chris turned over Russell's soul, the SPF arrested his body, and replaced him with a construct that will "die of a heart attack" after the real Russell is judged guilty and sentenced to life, ending his threat to non-bloods and sorcerers for good.
Russell Barnes is a selfish and power-hungry man who will do anything to get what he wants. He is also heartless and willing to commit murder, as seen in the first page, he killed an injured man to keep his discoveries a secret, and was willing to kill the souls of the 250,000 people trapped in AoA once he got what he wanted, merely dismissing them as witnesses to his crime and showing no remorse in the thought. He can deceptive and cunning, as he managed to trick Chris into working for him in exchange for freedom. He also shows no qualms of betraying those that work for him, as when Chris was revealed to be a Wanted Player, Grey Mask quickly turned on Chris.
- He is the first major antagonist in a Sapphirefoxx comic book series.
- He is one of the few non-bloods who know how to use magic.