Within the city square of Xanjara, a golden-haired kitsune jumped up onto the fountain’s edge. When she spoke, her voice carried over the calls that various people had been making to form groups. “Assembling the Life’s Dream!” She shouted out, her brown eyes lively as she surveyed the crowd.
“I answer the call!” One voice spoke up, a human male with darker skin and blue eyes, possessing a lithe build as he walked towards the fountain, smiling towards the kitsune.
This was a summons that they had rehearsed previously, and soon others began to ‘answer’. Every five minutes, she would repeat her summons, and more people would surround the base of the fountain, standing before her. Some weren’t truly a part of her ‘group’, yet had joined to see what was going on. Seeing that there was no proper explanation being given, those loners soon broke off into their own groups.
Within fifteen minutes, dozens of people were standing around her. “Alright!” She finally jumped down, clapping her hands together as her tail swayed behind her. “Looks like this is everyone that’s able to log in right now. Everyone, register friends!”
There was a laugh from the crowd as they began exchanging their game names with one another so that they could build their friends list. The leader of this group, the kitsune named Nuado, smiled happily as she watched the exchange. She waited until everyone was done before nodding. “Alright, let’s head to the library!”
Of course… none of them knew exactly where that was, so everyone simply stared at Nuado. She cleared her throat, walking over to the guard patrolling the city square. “Kind sir, could you direct us to the library?” Even though the NPC clearly had only a limited sentience, she was incredibly polite, as if speaking with a proper official.
It only took a moment for the guard to nod, before carrying on with his patrol. Pumping her fist into the air, Nuado turned around to face the group. “Alright. Fairy, please share the path with my friends here.”
Once their destination had been shared, the group of forty set off in unison. Those who walked at the back sent wary glances behind them, waiting until they were sure that they had left the main crowd behind. Only afterwards did they clap their hands, another rehearsed signal that it was safe to speak.
“So, what are we going to the library for?” The dark-skinned human, who had given the name Dresler, asked Nuado.
“Of course, it’s to find out how to form a guild!” She answered as if it was obvious. Some of the other members nodded their heads in acceptance, though Dresler seemed skeptical still.
“Couldn’t you find that information easily?”
Nuado let out a huff, rolling her eyes as she continued walking. “Well, yeah! But where’s the fun in that? We wanted to play this game together, not just have me carry everyone around by my tail. No cheating, no abuse, no special favors. We do this the fun way!”
Dresler simply chuckled as he heard that, shaking his head. “Sure. Are you positive that the information is in the library at all?”
“Nope!” She glanced towards him with an amused grin. “But if the information is anywhere, it will be in the library! Worst case scenario, we spend a night learning the lore of this game. Our fairies should record any information we read through, even if we ourselves aren’t aware that we found a hint. At the very least, they should be able to tell us where the hint was.”
“Well, I’m okay with that either way.” The human shrugged his shoulders, seeing the library gradually drawing closer as they approached. “Either we get what we want, or we learn other information we want. Who knows, maybe there will be quest hints in the books as well.”
“See, now that’s the spirit!” When Nuado opened the doors of the library, she cast a glance back towards the rest of the group. “Remember, everyone has to keep their voices down. We don’t know if there are any rules regarding volume, and I don’t want to see any of you getting kicked out.”
Those following her nodded their heads, moving in to discover that the library was surprisingly not empty. Nuado actually paused as she caught sight of the pair sitting at a nearby table. One a human with a thin build and black hair, the other a felyn with deep red hair that looked incredibly bored.
The human was just standing up, gathering what looked like a pile of parchment from the table as they entered. When he turned to see their own group, he blinked in confusion. “Ah, sorry. We’ll get out of your hair. Library’s all yours now.” He smiled amiably, stepping aside to let the group walk past.
Nuado gave a thankful nod, leading her group past as she heard the footsteps of the pair leaving the library. “Familiar face?” Dresler asked, noticing how Nuado seemed to have paid special attention to the two of them.
“Huh? Oh, sorry, I was just caught a bit off-guard that there was already someone here. Nothing to worry about.” She waved a hand dismissively. “Anyways, everyone split up and see what you can find. We’ll probably be here for a little while.”
I really need to get a workshop. I thought to myself as I left the library with Hela. Just as I was getting ready to leave, a big group shows up to occupy the library? However, at least Hela seemed to be glad that we were getting out of there.
“So, where to now? You’ve got… no coins left to your name, so there’s not much you can do until you sell that scroll, right?” She glanced towards my hands, even though I had already placed everything within my invisible inventory space.
“Pretty much.” I agreed with a brief nod. “It’ll give me a good chance to see how much these sell for. Hopefully, I can get more than the six copper it took to buy the parchment and ink… if not, I’ll need to gather all of the ingredients myself from now on, and mix it all…”
Hela shuddered at that idea, clearly imagining herself staying with me throughout that process. “Okay… if that happens, sorry, but I’m going to be off doing my own thing while you pick flowers. No offense?”
“None taken.” I’d have probably made the same decision myself, in her position. After all, it took me fifteen minutes just to draw out one scroll when I had everything prepared. During that time, Hela had basically done nothing but sit there and watch. I don’t think I’d have the patience to keep doing that all the time.
It didn’t take us long to find our way back towards the general shop, which seemed like a decent place to sell a low level spell scroll. I approached the counter to address the shopkeeper, pulling out my completed scroll and showing it to her. “I’d like to sell this, please.”
She accepted the parchment from me, unfurling it on the counter. “One low quality firebolt scroll. I can offer you eight copper coins for this.”
I let out a breath of relief when I heard that price, nodding my head in acceptance. “By chance, do you know how much it would cost to rent a room somewhere? Either a workshop, or even an inn room would suffice.”
The woman rolled the scroll up as she listened to my question, leaning down to place it beneath the counter on her side. Only once she stood up did she speak. “Room prices vary based on location. The cheapest inn room allows you to stay for two copper coins a night. The cheapest workshop can be rented out for one silver coin per month.” As she was explaining that, she passed me the eight coins for the scroll, which I immediately put into my inventory.
I had fifteen copper to start, so we’re probably going with sets of one hundred for currency. Before we left, I bought a new vial of ember ink, thankful that it would still leave me with enough money to purchase an inn room for the night. That would give me the space that I needed to do more scribing, at the very least. Though, hopefully I would get a faster way to earn money soon.
Three tables had been filled to capacity in the library, Nuado leaning over one of her books as she read, her lips moving as she focused on every line. It was clear that she was taking this seriously, and not just to create their guild. Whether it was her, or most of their group, learning new lore like this was their passion.
Most of them didn’t even have books out that would logically have clues about forming a guild. Nuado’s was a documentary about the rise of a figure known as the Mad King, whereas the halfling sitting next to her was reading what looked to be a book about nobility. In fact, only a few of them had actually gone to find books related to the local policies.
One such person was a lycan boy, looking to be just at the end of his teenage years. “Found it.” He spoke quietly, just loud enough to alert the rest of the group. Several reluctant eyes glanced up to look at him. “In order to establish a guild, the guild leader must be at least level ten. After acquiring the signatures of ten other members, they take a payment of ten silver coins to the relevant official.”
“And who’s that?” Dresler asked, having a war documentary in front of him. It seemed that there weren’t any obvious works of fiction within the library, no doubt a sad side-effect of the limited AI which had written the books.
“It depends on the guild’s purpose.” The lycan answered with a shrug. “If you want your guild to be focused on exploring and fighting monsters, you register with the adventurer’s guild. If you want it to be a merchant company, you go to the merchant’s guild. Each guild type has special buffs, so it should be important to know where you have to go at the start.”
“Okay, but who do we go to.” Nuado asked, her own attention fixated on the boy, causing him to smile happily.
“Closest thing for us would be the adventurer’s guild that I see. It’ll give us a movement speed buff on roads so we can get around more quickly.”
The kitsune leader gave a small nod at that, looking back down to her book. “Okay… everyone… you can finish whatever you were reading, and then we are going out to hunt whatever unfortunate monsters exist outside this city.”
A light laugh echoed through the otherwise silent library. Nuado’s group knew that she favored reading over combat any day of the week. If she was given the chance, she’d lock herself in the library until she had read every book on their shelves, then probably spend a few more months writing a couple of her own.
That’s just how their resident goddess was.
Outside the city, a fierce battle raged. The cries of player and monster alike sang through the air. However, this was not simply a battle of man versus beast. The monsters that occupied the territory outside of the city were large, black rodents. Their bodies were easily two feet long, though where they should have been plump with fat they were instead thin, their ribs visible.
Dire rats in dire straits, forced to feed on whatever they could find. Any time a player drew near, they attacked in a swarm, aiming to devour that player. What they no doubt were not expecting, though, is that the players came in even larger swarms. For every rat that appeared, four players charged over to kill it.
However… these players were not all working together. There were only so many monsters to go around, and far too many people to fight them. What should have been the opening day massacre of low level monsters turned into a battle royale, players striking out at one another whenever they thought that their ‘prey’ was being taken away. Beneath the full moon, players thoroughly ‘enjoyed’ themselves by partaking in a bloody brawl that they could not properly enjoy in the real world. At least, not without being branded as a psychopath.