“Second Stars?” Rip asked. “Is that a reference to something.”
Tessa’s brilliant idea for a name for their fledgling guild hadn’t been the wild hit she’d imagined it would be. Or hope it would be. Or something. In truth she’d just been struck by the name as a spur of the moment though and had been delighted when it turned to be available.
“Peter Pan, right?” Lady Midnight said.
Tessa and Lisa were still wandering through the east side of [Dragonshire], getting the lay of the land, and enjoying each other’s company on what was a startlingly pleasant day.
The shock and jangled nerves of their fight with the Misery Worm had faded away in the sunlight far quicker than Tessa had assumed it would, in part probably because they had a new idea to latch onto and, in part, because Pillowcase and Lost Alice brought a form of mental tenacity that Tessa and Lisa had never had the need to develop in their more mundane lives.
“Yeah,” Tessa said. “It’s a play on ‘second star on the right and straight on till morning’, which if my memory serves are the directions to Neverland.”
“Aren’t we kind of in Neverland already though?” Rip asked.
The party was still spread out, the others investigating their own corners of [Dragonshire]. It shocked Tessa to her core that none of them had yet managed to pick a fight with anything or cause any mayhem. Neither Lisa nor herself had mentioned the Misery Worm yet, and she wasn’t sure if admitting that they’d managed to stumble into trouble first was a good idea. The others already seemed to think she was a magnet for bad ideas, maybe it was best to keep the confirmation of that theory as limited as possible?
“What can lead you somewhere can also lead you back though,” Lisa said.
“Assuming we want to go back,” Rip said.
That was concerning, but hardly something Tessa wasn’t already aware of. Since a group chat wasn’t the best place to pry into Rip and Matt’s personal lives, Tessa tabled her questions about what their home life was like and listened to what they were willing to talk about.
“I kind of like it,” Matt said. “I mean we are sort of the ‘Second Stars’ of the show right? The headliners are all those people at the level cap who are out there liberating cities and things like that. We’re the second stringers, and that’s okay. It’s a lot less pressure, isn’t it?”
“It definitely is,” Obby said. “I’m not saying we can sit back and let the high levels take care of everything, but it is nice not to be the only ones who could with the problems that were piling up on us in the [High Beyond].”
“Speaking of that,” Lisa said. “Any sign of the [Hungry Shadows] following us yet?”
“Not yet, but it is still day time,” Starchild said. “It seems more likely we’ll have an issue with them tonight if they made it through when we did.”
“Why would they wait that long to attack us?” Rip asked. “Wouldn’t they have struck last night?”
“They pulled back from fighting us,” Tessa said. “They’ve definitely got some kind of plan in mind. The trick will be figuring out what that is based on the moves they make.”
“If there are any here at all,” Lady Midnight said. “We’ll want to be careful about jumping at…well, shadow, too much. Paranoia is a common traumatic stress response, and it’s okay, but leaning into it’s not going to help us in the long run.”
“That’s a good point,” Tessa said. “I don’t know how the rest of you are doing, but I know Pillowcase has helped the Tessa part of me a lot in processing what we’ve been through. If this all starts feeling like too much, that’s an entirely sane response, and I’d like everyone to feel free to call for a break. I’ve got no problem huddling up and hiding out for safety and recuperation.”
“Same from me,” Lisa said. “There’s a lot of things we can do that we’re skipping now because levels are so handy to get, but things like crafting, and item refining, and reputation questing can all be done in complete safety and really help out, even at max level.”
“Those are things a Guild will make easier as well,” Starchild said.
“That’s true, we’ll unlock a lot of extra possibilities and options as a guild,” Lisa said.
“But it’s okay if we want to keep leveling, right?” Rip asked.
“Oh yeah,” Obby said. “We’re already spread out a bit in levels, and most of the significant fights in this area will have a level cap on them anyways, so having more gaps won’t really slow us down.”
“How long do [Tabbywiles] usually live?” Rip asked.
Tessa was puzzled by the change of topic, but the Lore Nerd in her rose to the challenge anyways.
“They reach adulthood a little later than humans, at 20 rather than 18, and tend to live a little longer too, around 95 years rather than 90 for humans,” she said, her mind a wonderful repository for information that she’d thought would never do her any real good.
“I think someone on the dev team was a cat lover and wanted a world were the kitties would live really long lives, but not be lonely,” Lisa said.
“What about [Metal Mechanoids]?” Matt asked.
“They’rew new to the [Fallen Kingdoms] so none have died of old age yet,” Tessa said. “The Consortium ones tend to be ‘decommissioned’ after a new model is developed, so every five to ten years, but a [Metal Mechanoid] body is designed to last for centuries, especially if given proper care. [Clothworks], like Pillowcase, are a similar story but their design life time is shorter, just a bit over a century.”
“What brought on those questions?” Obby asked.
“Just thinking how much time we have to worth with,” Rip said. “I guess if we wanted the long term package being an [Elf] would have been the best choice?”
“Yes and no?” Tessa said, “Elves sort of live forever, but their life cycle is weird. They basically ‘die’ once a year on their birthday but then wake up the next day as themselves, but with a new perspective on the previous year, like they’d spent a separate whole year reflecting on it. There’s bigger cycles and personality shifts that happen every decade and every century.”
“Then you’ve got [Adventurers] who are functionally immortal,” Lisa said. “I mean as a [Vampire] I’m not exactly going to grow old and grey, but given that we can recreate our bodies from scratch it’s probably not surprising that none of us really age.”
“If you follow the in game clock and the accelerated day/night cycle, I think Glimmerglass is close to 300 years old now,” Tessa said.
“Wait, what?” Rip asked. “We’re immortal?”
“Uh, you’ve died before,” Matt said. “We all have. Why is that surprising?”
“I thought that didn’t count or something,” Rip said.
“It was never an issue, or really highlighted in the game,” Tessa said. “And, I guess we don’t know how that translates to here yet?”
“Can’t we just ask Glimmerglass?” Matt said.
“Or any other high level character,” Lady Midnight said.
“I guess?” Tessa said, feeling silly for not remembering that they had a ready source for answers to questions like that.
The answer turned out to be ‘yes’, Glimmerglass was, 288, which was a bit old for an [Adventurer] of her level but not unusually so. Tessa felt a pang of guilt at abandoning her for all those years. By all rights, Glimmerglass should have been max level long ago and kitted out in at least the 2nd or 3rd tier of end game raiding gear. That Glimmerglass didn’t hold that against Tessa did nothing to alleviate the guilt pangs.
“You know, I think I’m starting to come around on Second Stars,” Rip said. “If we’re immortal then that makes us like the Peter Pan. Neverland is our home and the stars are guides that we use to go where we want.”
“That was basically my idea,” Tessa said. “And we can be the stars to help bring other people who are Lost to someplace better.”
“Have you read the original Peter Pan?” Lady Midnight asked. “Neverland’s kind of scary and Peter’s sort of a monster.”
“Not to point out the obvious, but this place is kind of scary, and, some of us are sort of monsters too,” Lisa said.
“Eh, works for me then,” Lady Midnight said.
“We should have a meeting tonight, or maybe before we head out to go over the general guild mechanics stuff and the bylaws and expectations,” Tessa said. “For now though we can probably just go with a flat structure where everyone’s basically equal.”
“Nope!” Lady Midnight said. “This idea was yours and Lost Alice’s. You two get to the guild leaders. I have tried to run a guild before and I am bad at it.”
“Rip Shot and I are new here too,” Matt said.
“Anyone want to have a vote for who should be the guild leaders?” Obby said. “I nominate the two who came up with it. All in favor?”
“They’ve got my vote,” Rip said, sounding inordinately pleased with herself.
“Mine as well,” Starchild said and then amended herself to say, “Ours as well.”
“I’m obviously in favor of that,” Lady Midnight said.
“Then it looks like we’re unanimous,” Obby said. “Congratulations to our new guild leaders.”
“But we didn’t get to vote,” Lisa said.
“Were you planning to leave Tessa to run the guild by herself?” Obby asked.
“No, of course not,” Lisa said.
“And it’s a safe bet that you weren’t going to leave her going solo on it either right?” Obby said, directing the comment to Tessa.
“Yeah, okay,” Tess said, shaking her head with a mirthful smile and a roll of her eyes that she shared with Lisa. “Thank you then, all of you.”
“I think we should be thanking you,” Lady Midnight said. “When Starchild and I first met you, our party with in the midst of disintegrating and it looked like we’d be going it alone from then on.”
“I grew up in a [Druid’s Circle],” Starchild said. “I have to confess, I’m used to there being people around who supported each other, but after my early partying experience with outsiders I was worried that wasn’t how [Adventurers] worked. I’m glad that you’ve proved that idea wrong.”
“We should do something to celebrate!” Rip said. “Can we have a party tonight? Oh, yeah, when we get back from hunting those ghost things. We can divvy up the loot and trade the junky bits for some of the food the [Cooks] are working on!”
“Usually you’d sell the junk equipment to someone like Mr. Pendant, or use it for your own crafting and then take the money you get and just buy food,” Tessa said. “But I like your idea better. Just because they’re focusing on crafting rather than battle, doesn’t mean the other [Adventurers] should have as good a set of gear as we can get for them.”
“You know you say trade the loot for food,” Lisa said. “But I’m thinking bribe some of them to join the guild directly. That gets us great food all the time.”
“And that is exactly why we want the two of you as our [Guild Masters],” Obby said.
“Yeah, you listen to us and then make our ideas better,” Rip said.
“Many brains are better than one,” Tessa said.
She’d seen that in her professional life but only very rarely. Most of the managers who preferred that style of teamwork tended to be able to find better jobs than the thankless work her company demanded of its employees. Getting to manage a team the way she’d always wanted to be treated was a like a dream come true in that sense.
“So all we need to do now is make this guild real,” Lisa said.
“What do we need to do for that?” Rip asked.
“I’m about to submit the request,” Lisa said. “All your names will be on it as [Founders], all you need to do is click ‘Ok’ on the confirmation message that pops up and as soon as we have five signatures we’ll be officially recognized.”
Tessa knew they’d have six acknowledgements as fast as her party could click to confirm them.
What she hadn’t expected was that a screen would appear in front of her.