Danika hurriedly communicated with her guild mates, and after a couple of board exchanges, Aishin reminded her that they had the mirror from her garden. She pulled it out and laughed when she saw their tiny faces crowded around it waiting for her. She explained what the merchant had said in more length, and her idea to post everything they had discovered so far to the forums under the posts about Nabatea's predicament.
They discussed it briefly and decided that it was a good idea. "After all, we don't have to star in every big event," Aishin said laughingly.
"And this Inchy Antyr not only protested that he could only work on small portals, but that the materials would have to be paid for in advance, which sounds like supporting evidence that anyone will be able to find out soon," Ryullusion leaned in and added.
MatchlessMinion bounced up into view for a split second, and then vanished. After a moment the mirror changed hands and the perspective shifted so that she could see his face. "Be sure to advertise that Endless Song can be hired for difficult tasks though. You'll be providing new information for free anyway!"
"Okay," Danika agreed cheerfully.
Naoki pushed into view and demanded, "And when they do apply, charge them a lot!"
"A titled member needs to visit Song Solvin and instruct her then," Danika pointed out.
"Edwardian is here with us, he's just quiet today," Aishin assured her. "We'll have him do that before we have Saaki bring us back."
"Alright," Danika replied.
She posted the information they had, the list of materials an enchanter would need to repair the portals, and the fact that the modified genies' racial skill would let them transport people as long as they had a habitable space enchanted item that they could wear. She listed examples like the cages and the stone spaces Logical Heart had created. After a minute she added a little guiltily, "There's a rumour that there are space enchanted items to be found within the desert."
She didn't know if any such rumour already existed, but if people had a hint that the lamps were out there somewhere, someone would find them. Then even more genies would be able to transport people in and out of the buried capital.
Saaki was only just ahead of the wave of people who'd been gradually moving inward from the edge of the desert when he returned.
Danika had spent her remaining time collecting little cactus seeds from surrounding plants, and forcing them to grow in a circle around the spot where the traveling merchant had vanished into the sand. She figured that it would make a decent marker for where the capital lay beneath the desert.
Endless Song gathered in its entirety for the first time in a long time, as dozens, if not hundreds of players swept through the desert. The line of people moved erratically, some dashing ahead, others moving in coordinated groups.
Danika spotted a few figures that were familiar, here and there. In the distance a living book shaped mage levitated among his party. A large scaled dog paced beside a small girl. A scynthean succubus hovered beside a figure dressed all in black.
A huge polar bearmin was making a beeline toward Endless Song, as though he knew them. He came to a halt just outside the cactus circle, and stared down at the sand, and then looked up at them suspiciously. "Are you blocking the entrance?" Ruxlo demanded.
Danika was distracted by the frost that glittered on his fur, despite the desert heat, and MatchlessMinion replied first. "Of course not you idiot!?" She wanted to scold him for the insult he used on Ruxlo, but he continued quickly, "Our guild leader just marked out the city's location for you all! Endless Song has been contributing new information about the problem on the forums almost as soon as we're discovering it too!"
Shrubbery winked at her over the chinchillamin's head.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I just assumed with so many people from the same guild standing over it," the bearkin apologized. "I'm a knight, but I specialize in ice magic so I can handle the desert heat, and I have a friend inside Nabatea who's really good at math. Now that they know how deep they are, she was able to calculate what angle and distance I should be from her, so that I can help set up the new surface entrance location. According to her calculations, it should be within that circle."
"Wow, nice, things are really moving fast! I assume dwarves already on the surface will be joining you soon then?" Danika asked.
"I don't know," Ruxlo admitted. "But if you don't mind, I'll construct an ice fort for those who have the skills to construct the tunnel off to one side here?"
"Won't it melt pretty fast?" Naoki questioned.
"Not as long as I'm maintaining it, and I've got the whole day free," Ruxlo replied cheerfully.
They lingered to watch him begin creating the ice fort about 10 large paces in front of where he said the new entrance would be. It wasn't quite as magical as Danika had expected. The bearkin pulled out a familiar looking enchanted gem, and created the walls with the small stream of infinite water.
By the time he had the basic outline complete, others had begun to crowd the area. A mixed team of mostly dwarven and gnomish craftsmen soon began ordering bystanders into service. A gryphon rider delivered the first large enchanted bags full of stone.
Endless Song helped out a bit, but then quietly made their escape before Kit's summoned instance of the traveling merchant was permanently entangled with the incoming players and their last minute purchases. They moved deeper into the desert, by unspoken agreement.
Danika was ridiculously tired and her mind kept throwing up random questions. As Kit and the merchant passed their baby back and forth between them, did the child appear and vanish from the arms of the merchant's other instances? Would the glass village and Nabatea need to farm the turtles that helped bring water to the oasis in the center of the desert?
Aishin carried her for awhile and then told her, "You know, ZipZing, all of us being here together for the expansion is really cool, but it's OK for you to go and sleep?"
Everyone turned towards her at his words, and the group came to a halt. "He's right. I could really go sleep for a few hours too," Shrubbery agreed quickly. "The desert will still be here when we come back, right?"
"Of course!" Danika replied laughingly. But then she added more cautiously, given how many unexpected things had already happened, "As far as I know it's here for good."
The game system in 'Living Jade Empire' truly seemed to be growing into something as adaptable and ever changing as life. Danika looked at everyone gathered together, she wanted to keep enjoying this time, but she felt like gold flickers of the Sandman's sand kept twinkling at the edges of her vision. It was difficult to tell against the shimmering sun on the desert beneath the clear, deep, blue sky.
"Can we take a picture first?" she asked suddenly.
"Don't we need another person with screenshots activated for that?" Shrubbery questioned.
"Nope, we can do it. It just costs a Karma point for an auto timer," Aishin assured her.
"I use that mode all the time," Edwardian volunteered.
Danika laughed. He was the last person she'd have guessed to be regularly taking selfies within 'Living Jade Empire'. She glanced at Ryullusion and changed her mind, perhaps the second to last.
Aishin said, "Everyone line up then?"
"Wait," Danika protested, and zipped upward. She spun in place, high above her guild, looking to see if there were any distinct landmarks nearby. She dropped back down like a falling star, and came to a halt just above MatchlessMinion. "Let's go over to that rise. You can see the pyramid temple oasis in the distance from there."
This comment drew a string of questions and excitement from the others, until they reached the top of the dune. "Oops, let's hurry!" Kit exclaimed. "I have to log out and go play from home now."
Everyone quickly huddled together. Aishin set the frame with its timer and hurried to where Danika hovered. Kit vanished within seconds of the screenshot. Danika blushed, making her wings sparkle pinkly, and turned and zipped forward to kiss Aishin's cheek before she followed Kit offline.
Her phone announced that a message had arrived before she was quite asleep, and she opened it and grinned. Shinichi had already sent her a copy, and instructed her bossily to rest well. She grinned and slid into sleep with that picture of 'Endless Song' bright in her memory.
Saaki had conjured a small flame, Naoki had posed cutely beside him. Kit, the traveling merchant, and their baby were a little triangle behind MatchlessMinion, who held up both little hands and laughed. Shrubbery stood on one side of Aishin, who was holding ZipZing in front of him, and Ryullusion stood close beside his other side. Edwardian brandished a large golden coin, that perhaps coincidentally marked the spot where the pyramid rose in the distance.
When she woke up during the early afternoon, she thought that it would have been nice to have had other friends who weren't in the guild there, like Sea Song Tione, SaltySiamese, and… She suddenly realized that she still didn't know the name of the King of Cats. His identity as the snow leopard seemed to be gone.
Danika didn't cheat and ask her celestial dragon assistant to tell her, even though it was tempting. Instead, she checked for new messages from Shinichi first, ate something quick while she replied, and then she logged back in to 'Living Jade Empire' to begin her next adventure.
Support "Data Dragon Danika"
I'm not actually a frog... but frogs are cool! They have tiny little hands! And some frogs can even fly (glide)! ...and my name isn't actually Gus, but I've been wearing it long enough that it is?
Since beginning to lose my vision, I've been writing to replace the creating I used to do as drawing and painting.