Sometimes an idea is terrible. Sometimes it’s preposterous. But sometimes it demands to be considered despite all that..
“You’re not going to try [Fracturing] yourself again are you?” Lisa asked, turning to regard Tessa with a wary gaze.
“No, no, no! Nothing like that,” Tessa assured her.
“Do you have another god soul in your inventory somewhere?” Lisa asked.
“Sadly fresh out of the those too,” Tessa said.
“Let’s hear this idea then,” Lisa said. She looked like she was ready to tackle Tessa on the chance that Tessa was planning to do something profoundly unwise.
It wasn’t an entirely unreasonable reaction. When she considered her idea, Tessa had to admit that there was more than a little risk in it.
“We already know how we can rebuild our bodies,” Tessa said. “When we got killed by the chain monster in the [High Beyond] we had to rebuild ourselves completely at the [Heart Fire].”
“We were ghosts then,” Lisa said. “And our bodies had been pretty much obliterated.”
“Yes, and allow me to say I have no interest in repeating that,” Tessa said. “What we also know though is that bits of the [Heart Fire] can be carried back to a body to restore it from the fatal damage it took.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right, the first time we died during the [Wraithwing] attack you ran back to your body instead of respawning at the [Heart Fire],” Lisa said.
“Not the wisest or safest thing I’ve ever done, but it did give us some good info,” Tessa said. “In this case, that the [Heart Fires] can not only build a new body from scratch, they can also modify existing bodies too.”
“To be fair, in both cases all that we know is that they can do that with dead bodies,” Lisa said.
She stood up and offered a hand to Tessa. They’d each caught their breath and if they lingered in the cellar for too long it was entirely possible that the Misery Worm would respawn and they’d have yet another fight to deal with.
“Fundamentally, dead bodies are pretty similar to live ones,” Tessa said, as they wandered over to the loot pile that [Miser Wyrm] had left behind.
“I am fully aware of the irony of a [Vampire] saying this, but I think living bodies have some fairly crucial differences from dead ones,” Lisa said. She accepted the staff from the loot pile that Tessa handed over to her but passed on the necklace since it wasn’t enchanted with any stats relevant for a caster.
“I can’t argue with that, though I will note that according to [Broken Horizon] lore, [Vampiric Undeath] is a trait which is entirely separate from [Death]. If anything, you’re more alive than I am now since you’re cells aren’t dying quite like a baseline [Humans] are.”
“That’s not helping your case very much though, is it?” Lisa said.
“There’s really only one thing that’s going to prove the theory out,” Tessa said.
“You’re going to jam your hand into the [Heart Fire] and see what happens, right?” Lisa said.
“Ah, yeah, my hand, that’s definitely what I should do,” Tessa said. “Cause lighting myself entirely on fire would be overkill and kind of silly.”
“You really want Pillowcase’s body back that much?” Lisa asked, a faint puzzled look in her eyes.
“I mean, there are definitely perks to being in this body,” Tessa said, running her fingers down the outside of Lost Alice’s arms. “But I want to have the choice to be whichever ‘me’ I need to for whatever situation I’m in.”
“Well, we could try to avoid situations like this one,” Lisa said. “I’m not unhappy with the idea of keeping you out of danger.”
“I wouldn’t be either, if I thought it was a viable option,” Tessa said.
“And that’s where I can’t argue can I?” Lisa said. “I mean, we can avoid doing stuff like taking on old random monsters we find – and we probably should – but this world isn’t built for safety.”
“Is it a bad sign that I’m happier to be in peril with you, than I can remember being at any time in the last year that I lived in safety?” Tessa said. “And that’s not just taking into account my Earthly life. Looking back at how Pillowcase spent the last year, I think being here with you is a hundred times better than what she had too.”
Lisa let a brief chuckle escape her lips.
“I can’t picture how that could be true. I believe you. Really. I just can’t…”
She turned and held her hand out, offering Tessa the last of the loot, a pair of matching gold rings, each enchanted to boost the wearer’s base magic rating.
“They’re a matched set,” Tessa said. She couldn’t see their stats directly, but the runes etched inside the bands were simple enough to parse.
“Yeah. I think they’re the rare drop from this encounter,” Lisa said.
“One for me and one for you then?” Tessa said.
“You’d be stronger with both,” Lisa said.
“No, I think this is the strongest choice I can make,” Tessa said, and slid one of the rings onto Lisa’s ring finger. “We tackle things together, right?”
“You and me, till the last boss falls,” Lisa said, replicating Tessa’s gesture.
“And then we do it all over again,” Tessa said, kissing Lisa lightly on the tip of her nose. Before Lisa could disagree, Tessa pulled her back up the stairs and into the bright, midday sun.
“We know there are two [Heart Fires] in town,” Lisa said. “Which one were you thinking of using?”
“You’re onboard with me trying?” Tessa asked.
“I have some reservations, but it is an interesting idea, and you’ve probably got the best chance of any of us of pulling it off,” Lisa said. “It might even level you up in [Void Speaker].”
“Huh, I hadn’t thought of that,” Tessa said. “Can you see what level I’m at now? I thought I heard the level up announcement message when I [Fractured] the Worm but we were still kind busy so I missed the rest of what it said.”
“From what I can see, you’re a level 9 [Void Speaker] now,” Lisa said. “Which is pretty amazing because you were level 7 when we went in there.”
“That seems odd,” Tessa said. “I didn’t put the numbers together before, but the level gap between me and the [Miser Wyrm] should have meant that my [Minor Death Bolts] did basically nothing to it. What level are you up to now?”
“I’m level 15 now,” Lisa said. “Close to 16 in fact. Around 15.9 or so. Up from the beginning of 14 before that fight.”
“We were definitely too low to handle that,” Tessa said. “Weren’t we?”
“Apparently not,” Lisa said. “Your attacks took it down fair and square. There didn’t seem to be any special mechanics there. Apart from what you did with the [Fracture], but you attacked before you [Fractured] it and those attacks hit as hard as your later ones.”
“Are my [Void Speaker] levels stacking with my [Soul Knight] ones?” Tessa asked.
“I don’t think so,” Lisa said. “Your health total is right for a 9th level caster.”
“Maybe the level disparity is calculated off the highest level I have?” Tessa said, though it was more Pillowcase’s observation.
“Pillowcase is level 13, right?” Lisa asked.
“The last I could see her stats, yeah,” Tessa said. “Could [Soul Knight] be leveling up too?”
“That would sort of explain things,” Lisa said. “You hit that thing with about two dozen attacks. A level 22 tank would have taken less than half that to take the Worm down and that’s with a tank’s weak dps. Adjust that for a 9 level difference from 22 to 13, add in that most jobs do more damage than tanks, so [Void Speaker] probably hits harder than [Soul Knight] and maybe you were hitting at Pillowcase’s level but my gut feeling is that few levels beyond 13 would be more believable.”
“That’s good news if so,” Tessa said. “It still wouldn’t put me in Obby’s league, but if we run with a full team of eight, having Obby as main tank, and me as the off-tank won’t be a bad setup.”
“That’s assuming you can pull off this whole magical girl transformation thing,” Lisa said. “And I notice you’re not leading us back to the [Great Hall]?”
“It occurred to me that messing with a [Heart Fire] might have some odd side effects,” Tessa said. “Since our fellow [Adventurers] are all out getting in their own piles of trouble at the moment, something tells me the [Heart Fire] at the [Great Hall] may be seeing some use today.”
“I wish that wasn’t so horribly predictable,” Lisa said.
“As terrible as this sounds, this probably isn’t a bad time for people to die off by the bushel,” Tessa said.
“Sadly true,” Lisa said. “We’re getting settled in here still. Any trouble that people run into that kills someone will be taken more seriously by everyone else.”
“And there hasn’t been a lot of dying here lately, and there has been a lot of fighting basically everywhere else, so hopefully that means the [Hounds of Fate] are all busy out there somewhere and people can learn the routes for their death runs now rather than figuring it out if and when the Consortium shows up and we have bodies stacking up like cordwood.”
“I take it you’ve been watching for the quickest paths back to the [Great Hall] for our inevitable death runs?” Lisa asked.
“Yep. Same as you, right?”
“I’ve been trying to scope out when it’ll be faster to go to the chapel on this side of the river too,” Lisa said.
“It is so nice doing this with someone who’s got a clue,” Tessa said. “Seriously I would have paid buckets of gold to bribe you into our guild back in the day.”
“That’s a really interesting idea,” Lisa said, slowing to a stop in the middle of the road as she mulled over whatever it was that had occurred to her.
“You’re still worth the buckets of gold, but I have to admit that even Glimmerglass isn’t that loaded these days,” Tessa said. “Or at least I think she isn’t? I was pretty tapped out when I stopped playing. Maybe she’s been doing side projects on her own since then though?”
“What? No. I don’t want you to pay me,” Lisa said. “I meant the guild.”
“Glimmerglass should still be an officer in my old guild but from what BT said, she’s probably the only one still in it. And you’ve already got a guild don’t you? With Cease All and those folks?”
“That’s on my other alts,” Lisa said. “I never got a guild invite for Lost Alice. Which means I’m perfectly free to start a new guild. Here. With you.”
“You would want to do that?” Tessa asked, barely able to parse the idea.
When she’d last played her guild had meant everything to her. They’d been the support she hadn’t had anywhere else. When that guild had fallen apart, the loss had broken something in her. Part of her wanted more than anything to forge a replacement for what she’d had, but was terrified to try.
“I would, if you would?” Lisa asked. “I mean, we don’t have to. We won’t have a guild bank or anything here, and running a guild can be a huge hassle, and…”
“And I would love to be part of one with you,” Tessa said, her doubts pushed aside by certainty that together she and Lisa could do better than recreate Glimmerglass’s old guild.
“We’ll have to decide a lot of things before we officially register,” Lisa said. “Like who we’ll allow in, and what we’ll kick them out for.”
“And a name,” Tessa said.
“That’s always the hard part. So many of the good ones are already taken.”
“Can you check to see if something’s taken before we try to register it?” Tessa asked.
“Then how about…”