Aurivy let out a long sigh after we finished our last round of the game. “Okay, so, what’s next?” She glanced around at the rest of us, a small grin on her face.
“I’m… not sure?” I asked, looking around at the others. “I mean, I’ve already checked out anything I wanted to, and there’s still seven days left of the Meeting, right? Anyone have any ideas?”
“Well, aside from just going around and playing whatever games we can?” Bihena asked with a shrug of her shoulders. “It’d be a good way to earn points. And we can never go wrong with having an abundance of points.”
“I’ve already played some of the games…” Aurivy pouted as she said that. “Most of them are really hard. Like, a ton of buttons, and one wrong move you lose hard. Was able to earn some points dancing with Balu, and a little bit on some other games before you showed up.”
“I was playing this on my own most of the time before everyone else came along.” Bihena said, patting the stage for the Keeper Sim game. “You can configure it to play against a system opponent instead of another player, so I was doing that for a bit. Could play around with it for a bit more, since you’re able to earn points by winning against the system.”
That made me glance over to her in surprise. “And they let you keep getting the points?” I had expected that she’d only be able to get the reward once, before she had to move on to something else.
“It’s a bit more than that.” Terra spoke up, walking to the other side of me. “Every time she wins, her opponent will become progressively more difficult. Likewise, the rewards for victory get larger to match the skill level. If a high ranking Keeper were to play this game, they would usually be able to play up until their opponents were of a similar skill to themselves. At that point, they might win between ten thousand to a hundred thousand points for a single victory.”
The way she said those numbers as if it wasn’t a huge sum of points made me grumble a bit. However, there was little I could do about the fact that they were simply used to dealing in larger sums. Hence, I shook my head and looked at the others. “Alright, I’ll make everyone a deal. Whoever gets the most points by the time we head back will be able to get their own world, and will be able to use the points they earned to start it up.”
Bihena and Aurivy’s eyes seemed to light up at that, while Terra chuckled and relayed my message to the rest of the group. Since Udona already had her own world, this would give the others a chance to earn theirs, as well. As for Ashley, if by some chance she managed to win the contest, she’d be able to design her own world, as opposed to Desbar which was my design.
Without another word, Bihena stepped back up to the stage. The remaining three player podiums disappeared, showing that she was now playing solo. Similarly, Aurivy rushed out of towards the stairs leading down to the first floor. Which left only Terra standing next to me.
“So, what are your plans for the next seven days?” Terra asked as she walked over, patting a hand against my shoulder.
“Well… I was hoping you’d be able to help me with that?” When she looked at me with a curious expression, her eyebrows raised, I continued. “I want to look into guilds. I heard about the benefits for them, and thought it might be a good idea to join one myself.”
“Oh?” Terra seemed surprised at that. “Earth’s never been in a guild. At least, not from any of the versions of it still in my records. The last few Keepers were either disinterested, or never made it far enough for it to be worthwhile. So, what guild are you looking to join? The Gilded Branch?”
I shook my head at the question as the two of us began to walk down the stairs. “No. While I do like the idea of having a big group backing me up, I think with them I’d be a bit too worried that they’d request my points for things like prizes in the regular meetings. You can see how much they spend on those prizes every month, so I can’t help but be cautious there.”
“What I want is a smaller guild. Back when I attended my first meeting, there was a group that approached me, asking if I’d like to join them. I remember… one of them was named Dalar. He seemed like the leader of their group.”
Terra closed her eyes for a moment, seeming to focus before she nodded. “Right, those guys. A small guild like that isn’t a bad idea. So, you’re wanting to see the Guild Recruitment building, then?”
“Wait, there’s a Guild Recruitment building?” I asked in shock, having explored the place quite thoroughly with Irena earlier. “How come I didn’t see that before?”
“Because it wasn’t there before.” She answered simply, leading me out of the building. “In the Meeting Room, a building will only appear when someone wants something it offers. People come here wanting to have fun, and the Entertainment building appears. They want good food, the restaurant shows up.”
As she said, a new building was rising from the ground in an empty plot of land not far from us. A few people had gathered around, waiting to see what it was. “Most people who come to these meetings are either already part of a guild, or have no interest in joining one. As such, it’s pretty rare for the Guild Recruitment building to appear before the third or fourth day.”
Once the building had finished forming, a ray of light fell down from the sky to create the sign for it. When people saw the words on the sign, most shrugged their shoulders, wandering away. Some, however, seemed excited, and rushed inside. Terra laughed lightly at that. “People wanting to advertise their own guilds. Now that they know there’s someone here looking to join a guild, they want to take advantage of it to rope in a new member.”
“Ah…” I nodded my head briefly as the two of us walked in. Inside the building, stalls were quickly erecting themselves around the people who had entered first, the names of their guilds on the front of the stalls. However, the two of us just continued on, not paying attention to them. Because, on the other side of the large, single floor of this area, was a wall filled with information.
“This is the Guild Information Board.” Terra said as she waved towards the wall. “Here, you can see the names of all the different guilds, as well as their numbers, and the Keeper in charge for contact purposes. However, if you want more information on a guild, you’ll need to find the person representing them.” Saying that, she motioned towards the stalls behind us.
I began to look over the list, seeing so many names that I didn’t know. There were easily over a hundred guilds listed, but many of them had numbers only in the single digits. If I knew Dalar’s Keeper title, perhaps I could just contact him directly, but I only knew him by his actual name.
This would probably be a good time to have an information guild on hand. I mused with a small smile, before shaking my head. I turned back to look at the names on the various stalls, and cross referenced their names with the names on the board. Most of them were small guilds, but there was one larger guild among them, with over eighty members.
Turning around, I moved to the first of the stalls, which belonged to a small guild name Fables. It was registered with seven members, and the person at the stall was a woman with wings attached to her arms, similar to a harpy.
“Hello!” She spoke up eagerly when I approached, and I noticed that the sounds from the outside faded away. “Thanks for taking the time to speak with me. Is there anything you’d like to know about my guild that could help you make your decision?”
“Does your guild have any goals, or special rules I’d need to know about?” I knew that I could likely just leave a guild if I didn’t like them later on, but I’d rather not waste my time when I could find a guild that was a better fit for me.
“Hmm… our main goal is to help one another out, I suppose.” The woman said, giving the question some thought. “The guild is mainly just a group of friends, like a lot of smaller guilds. Though, there is one thing that we can be proud of!”
Seeing that I wasn’t interrupting her, she hastily continued. “Several of our members are able to win Force Attack Tickets in the games here. So, if a situation comes up where you are in danger, they can use their ticket to attack the world invading you! You might not know this, but if the world that’s invading you is conquered, the invasion is cancelled and the invading forces are immediately registered as members of your own world.”
“Wouldn’t that only work if I was the same rank as whoever has the ticket?”
“Uhm… yes?” She laughed nervously when I pointed that out. “But, as long as you’re at the second rank, that’s not a problem! And, it doesn’t take long to reach that point.”
I shook my head with a small smile. “Give me a chance to discuss with the others and look at my options.” I saw a pout forming on her face as I stepped away, moving to the next stall. This was the one for the larger guild, going by the name of Truth Ascendant.
The man inside the stall here appeared to be human, wearing a businesslike suit and nodding to me. “Greetings.” He seemed to be a very professional person, which made me pretty sure that this wasn’t just a ‘group of friends’.
Sure enough, it didn’t take long for me to finish my conversation with him and move on. The goal of their guild was to break the system, and to find the true meaning of the number of Keepers. I had no interest in being a part of a guild that was attempting to destroy an omnipresent, omnipotent system that existed in every layer of reality. Doing so could only end badly.
Aside from them, the other eight guilds were all like the first, small groups of friends that looked out for each other. But, it was also that same similarity that made it difficult to make a decision on who to join. I could start my own guild, but the only person that I know who isn’t already in a guild is Kathy, and a two person guild seems a bit small.
“Hey!” As I was walking out of the last stall, I heard someone calling out towards me. Thinking it was another recruiter that had just arrived, I glanced over. The voice belonged to a woman, a brunette human that came up just to my shoulder. “We met last year, didn’t we?”
It took me a moment to recall, but soon I realized that she was actually a part of Dalar’s guild. “I think so. Dalar’s group, right?”
“Why does everyone think he’s the leader…” She asked in a grumbling tone. “But yeah, he’s with my guild. I take it that you’re the person looking to join a guild today?”
When I gave a slow nod, she walked over towards an empty space on the wall, and another stall began to form around her. This time, the words Lasting Bonds appeared as the guild name. Referencing it with the wall, it was a small guild of only six people. “So, reintroductions.” She said with a small smile. “My name is Sarah, title EverLasting, and the guild leader of Lasting Bonds.”