It wasn’t much longer before Balu had sent me a message indicating that she was ready to head over as well. By that time, Kathy and Aurivy were acting like the best of friends, and Bihena had even come out from her room.
“So.” Kathy began, her feet clicking against the floor excitedly next to the couch. “What do you all do for fun here? Do you just manage the world all day, or watch… whatever your world calls that media?” She asked, pointing to the TV. It seemed like she realized that it was for entertainment, and had something like it either on her world or on her previous one.
“Little of column A, little of column B.” Aurivy grinned, sitting up on the back of the couch to be closer to Kathy’s eye level. “Mostly, if we get bored, we play some of the games in the system.”
Kathy’s eyes widened immediately. “There are games in the system?! Why haven’t I ever seen them!? Show me, show me!” She practically jumped in the air, immediately turned to face Aurivy directly.
Just in time for a golden door to appear along the wall, and Balu to walk through. “Friendly neighborhood Starkiller, reporting for duty!” She called out as she entered the room, immediately drawing everyone’s attention.
“Oooh, who’s she?” Kathy asked, her attention shifted to the fluffy white bunny girl.
“Kathy, Balu. Balu, Kathy.” I did a quick set of introductions. “Aurivy, keep Kathy entertained for a little while. I’ve got some business with Balu to handle.”
“Aye aye, captain!” Aurivy shouted with a mock salute. As I led Balu away, I could hear Aurivy beginning to tell Kathy about the system’s entertainment package. It was a bit surprising that she had never heard of it, but she had mentioned that her companions weren’t a very fun sort.
“Sorry, we could do this a different time if you’re busy.” Balu offered with a small smile, clutching a notebook in one hand.
“No, I invited you over.” I shook my head. “I promised Kathy that I’d invite her when I had some free time, but preparing for Savage took most of my focus.”
“Yeah, I was surprised to see that you got out so fast!” Her eyes widened when she said that, no small amount of shock present. “Wait, did his monsters spawn right in the center of a popular town or something? Those invasions always end quickly…”
“Close…” I thought back to what happened. “The forest outside of a city, on the most populated continent in the world.”
“Ahh, that would explain it. Got a bit lucky, then. Well, sometimes it’s lucky. It is when dealing with fast-spreading monsters, at least. Anyways, what was the information you wanted to sell the guild?”
I gave a small smile, opening the door to my room and letting her in. Normally, when we had guests over, I would block off this room. But this time, I was in here with her personally, and this was the closest thing I had to an office. Should probably fix that sometime. “I know what type of monster he uses, and roughly how it works. If the Keeper you bought the information from last time knew, he really didn’t tell you.”
“Oh?” She had an understandably skeptic look on her face at that, moving to lean against the wall as she pulled out a pen.
“He uses slimes.” When I said that, her eyes began to widen in understanding. “They multiply because they devour local organisms and take their form. As for their almost hivemind-like communication, that’s because they typically have others hidden nearby as scouts. The first attack that I was a part of, one of my people noticed that a bird in a nearby flock was ‘infected’.”
“Presumably, the scouts would then send the information back to the main cluster, which would spread it to the others. They’re also able to negate rune magic, but from what I understand that shouldn’t be too uncommon.”
Balu nodded her head ever so slightly. “Most worlds have contingencies for rune magic, whether to defend themselves or for when they attack. But this slime stuff… that’s pretty big. Knowing that someone is using a slime-type creature means that there are a number of different ways to fight it. And if he’s this invested into his monster at this point… Well, he’s a Monster Keeper, and they don’t typically think far enough ahead to discard a monster when it’s found out.”
“So, what is it worth?” I asked, knowing that this would probably give me at least as much as the invasion itself had.
“I’ll have to ask… Give me just a minute!” After saying that, Balu closed her eyes tight in focus.
Feeling like she was probably having a mental conversation with her guild, I moved to sit on the bed to wait. It took about ten minutes of her standing there, her cheeks twitching every now and then, before she opened her eyes.
“Okay! So, Savage is only a first rank Keeper. However, as he is a Monster Keeper, the information related to his creature is in high demand. Furthermore, this is critical information which contains the creature type, and method of propagation. I’ll need your System Companion… her name was Terra, right? I’ll need Terra to verify that all of this is correct. But if it is, it should be worth seventeen hundred points.”
As soon as she was done talking, I couldn’t help but let out a small grin. Not at the number, but… “It’s correct.” Terra’s voice spoke up from behind Balu, causing the small girl to let out a shriek as she turned around.
“Stop doing that!” She shouted, flailing her arms at her sides. “And… okay. Sorry, but it’s procedure. A lot of people try to sell false information. And while it’s possible for a system companion to lie, they know that doing so endangers the future of their Keeper. Since her job is basically to watch out for you, it means that they’re really unlikely to lie, unless you just get the worst of companions.”
While she was saying that, Balu began writing down the information that I had given her. Watching that, I couldn’t help but ask. “Just curious, but if someone were to buy that information, how much would it cost them?”
“Three thousand points.” She answered without even thinking about it, before letting out a small squeak, covering her mouth with one paw. “Sorry…”
I simply gave a small nod, smiling at the answer. “It’s alright. You’re an information guild, with quite a lot of internal expenses, I imagine. If you didn’t make a profit off the information you deal, how would your guild manage to hold those monthly meetings?”
Balu seemed to freeze up at that, slowly nodding her head. “Right… sorry. Speaking of which, are you going to be at the next one?”
“Plan to. From my understanding, I won’t have a match to worry about this month.”
“Shouldn’t. You won’t even know who your opponent is for a few weeks, I think.” She said after a moment of thought. “Anyways, this information should help a lot. Now we can offer better strategies to deal with Savage, as well as suggest specialized items on the market that can take his slimes out quickly.”
“There are anti-slime weapons?” I blinked in surprise at the thought of that. “I really need to take a better look at the market.”
“Don’t bother.” She responded with a wry smile. “There’s so much junk on there that you’ll never find what you’re looking for unless you know what to look for. There are third rank Keepers that haven’t even found the techniques section yet, I think. I remember the last time I had to point out to someone that they could buy stuff like that off the market, and he practically exploded. Hundreds of years he spent making his own technique… just to see that a near identical copy was already up there.”
I let out a light laugh at that, imagining the scene. It was painful to think about, but still funny. “I’m sure. I’d probably be the same way. Speaking of which… after you guys go back, I think I’ll take the first step on that energy path you gave me last time. My world sight should be strong enough now.”
Balu looked confused at that, her brows furrowing as she tried to remember what I was talking about. “Oh! The false divinity path! Right, sorry. Yeah, you’re running a game world, so you should have enough energy to get most of the way there already. Have you thought about what domain you want to give yourself? Unlike normal companions, a mortal with false divinity only receives a single domain. Even if that domain can be shared with a true god.”
“Given it some thought, and… not really sure yet. I’ve gotta figure out what works best for me, and then I’ll decide when the time comes. Last thing I want is to build up for one domain, and then find out I’m either not that good with it or just don’t really like it so much.”
Balu thought about that for a moment, before nodding. “Alright. But, the sooner you start preparing, the better. If you can train your divine energy to carry a bit of the domain you want, then when you become a false god, your divine energy will be more strongly aligned to that domain.”
I was a bit surprised to hear that, but it did make sense. I had only recently learned that divine energy could even be trained like that in the first place, through things like the knight’s special weapon. There might be an option for something similar with bards, given that they also work based on a person’s own divine energy.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” I told her with a small nod. “If I can figure out what domain I want and settle on it, I’ll do the training.”
“Alright, now that that’s settled, shall we go see what fun they’re getting into out there without us?” Balu asked with a wide grin, not even waiting for me to answer before she turned around, running past Terra to head out towards the living room.
I rolled my eyes, standing up from the bed. As I moved past Terra, her tail reached out and gently captured my wrist while she turned to walk with me. “Really don’t know what domain you want?”
I gave a small chuckle at that, shrugging my shoulders. “I’m debating between a few right now. Like she said, it’s a permanent decision, and I want to make sure that I pick something that I won’t regret.”
Terra closed her eyes when she heard that, but nodded her head with a small smile. “Makes sense.”
By the time that we got out to the living room, we saw Aurivy and Kathy playing something that looked like a modified version of Hangman in reverse. One of them picked a word, and the other one had to try and draw it. Didn’t sound like too hard of a game… until you realize that the two people playing it are from entirely different worlds, with drastically different cultures and items.
“What’s a car?!” Kathy cried out, it seeming to be her turn. “Last time you said truck, then bus, now car? Definition! I demand a definition!”
Aurivy grinned, sticking her tongue out. “Car, noun, a road vehicle, typically with four wheels and powered by an engine.”
“A vehicle!” Kathy attached significant importance to that word, and began drawing. However, what she drew… did not look at all like a car. Instead, it looked like a mobile bed with four wheels and a metal frame, a steering wheel at the front. “Done!”
“No… you’re really not.” Aurivy said, clutching her sides as she desperately held back a laugh. “I mean… maybe? I’d love to see a car like that, though. It looks really comfy to ride in.”
Kathy fell down to the floor, deflated. “I want to play a different game. Can we go back to the card one?”