4 Black Rose
"And it's done!"
Astrid gave a thumbs up when she exited the Lamont town hall, where players could establish new guilds. That day, the guild Noctis Noir was created with Astrid as the guildmaster and Lyria as the second-in-command. Amelie and Luna became the guild managers.
The rest cheered upon hearing Astrid's announcement.
"Let's go see our headquarters," Astrid said as she opened her menu tablet.
"How do we access it though?" Lyria asked.
"It works the same way as teleport, except you use a special item to activate the teleportation." A golden key materialized on Astrid's hand. "This key is given to all members of the guild. It's bound to the player the same way the menu tablet is. So, you don't have to worry about losing it."
Lyria tried summoning the key. It materialized on her hand. "Oh! I see."
"This is cool." Luna tried it next.
"So pretty!" Amelie stared at the shiny key.
"Shall we teleport?" Astrid asked.
They all warped to the instance field that contained their humble guild headquarters. At its present state, it appeared to be a normal family home constructed with wood. The building was on a floating island. Below the island was a sea of clouds. It was a breathtaking sight.
"This view is amazing," Lyria said as she stared at the horizon.
"What happens if I jump?" Luna asked as she stared at the clouds below.
Astrid gave it some thought. "You don't receive any damage when you're in this instance field, so perhaps you get teleported somewhere? I don't really know."
"Geronimo!" Amelie ran and jumped off the island.
"Amelie!" The rest shouted and ran to the edge of the island. Once they looked down, Amelie was nowhere to be found.
"Where'd she go?" Luna asked.
Lyria was in shock. "Oh my gosh. Did she just fall right through the clouds?"
Suddenly, the front door opened and Amelie waved at them. "Hey girls! This interior is great!"
"Amelie! How did you get there?" Luna turned around.
The princely mage angrily raised a fist. "It's Chris! Stop calling me Amelie!"
"She probably got teleported," Astrid said.
"In that case, I'll try it out too!" Luna jumped off the edge. "Oh yeah!" She passed through the clouds below.
"Shall we, Lady Astrid?" Lyria asked the assassin with a smile.
Astrid smiled. "Let's go."
They both jumped down together. Once they passed through the clouds, they fell onto their beds inside the guild headquarters. All of them laughed.
"That was fun!" Astrid said with a huge smile.
"Oh wow," Lyria said when she saw the building's interior, which looked like a log house. "Not bad. Kinda small for now, but it gets bigger if we upgrade, right?"
"Yeah. There are a lot of upgrading options here," Astrid replied as she looked through the manual. "We'll need gold and materials though."
"This place is so homey. I like it." Amelie took a rest on the blue couch in the living room with Rune on her lap.
"Oh yeah! There are beds here too! I can just live in this world!" Luna cheered. "Woohoo!" She jumped on the bed and pressed her cheek on the soft cushion. "This is amazing."
Astrid got off the bed and went to examine the large vault. "This must be the guild vault and storage. We can pool in money here." She pressed a button on the vault out of curiosity. A screen popped out that had 'history' as its heading. "It also has a security feature too. It keeps a record of who withdraws and deposits items. Very nice."
Lyria walked into the kitchen. "Sweet. Now we can cook stuff here. There's even a fridge that can hold two hundred items."
"It's like having our own home." Amelie stretched and took a nap on the couch.
Luna was still rolling around on the bed. "I'm loving these beds. They're so soft."
"If we're going to be staying here from now on, we'll have to keep a stock of food," said Lyria."I do have a lot of pumpkins, which is enough to last us for a month, but I think you'll all get sick of eating just pumpkin."
"Should we go hunting?" Astrid asked.
"Let's just go to the free marketplace. I have to sell these pumpkins anyway. I'll leave a few inside our fridge." Lyria went over to the fridge and stuffed some pumpkins in.
"Are you coming with us, Luna?"
Luna rolled on the bed. "Nah. I'll stay here and watch over the place with Amelie. My body doesn't seem to want to leave this bed."
Amelie slept soundly on the couch with Rune still on top of her. Astrid thought it was probably best not to disturb her.
After Lyria shut the fridge door, she gave a thumbs up. "Alright. Let's go!"
In the world of Aries, there were three ways of selling items. The first was the auction house. For a small fee, players could register their items and put it on sale for a maximum of three days. They could go back to check if the items were sold and receive the payment. The second was the trading board. Each town had a trading bulletin board in its square where players could view ads of items being sold. Those interested would contact the players themselves and later meet up to trade. The last was setting up a stall in a town's free marketplace. Not every town had a free market. Lamont was one of the few towns that had one. It was also one of the biggest ones.
"Pumpkins sell like hotcakes," Lyria said happily with a huge grin.
"Woah. Sold them all already?" Astrid was busy checking out the items for sale when she was approached. "That was fast."
"Did you buy any ingredients yet?"
Astrid laughed nervously. "Not yet. I got distracted by the armor for sale."
"Let's go buy some potatoes."
"I think I saw some sold over there."
Astrid led the way. As they walked over to the stall, she spotted the white haired mage from the other day. He was flanked by a knight and a priestess, both appearing to be of high level.
"They're from the Black Rose guild, right?" Astrid overheard a nearby player.
Astrid heard of their guild before. They were one of the top guilds in Aries, excelling in teamwork and player versus player combat. Their guild often raided dungeons and showed up top in the rankings. Some of their members even got featured in Aries' monthly magazine.
"Lyria? Is that you?" The short haired priestess recognized Lyria within the crowd.
"Pio! It's been so long. How are you?" Lyria said happily.
Astrid's jaw dropped upon seeing the unexpected reunion.
"I knew it was you!" Pio was as happy as Lyria.
"I didn't know you joined Black Rose."
"Remember Yaya? She took me in as her student."
"No way! Yaya did? I'm happy for you, Pio!"
Pio's companions stood behind her quietly. Astrid did the same. Just as the short moment of silence became a little bit awkward, someone spoke.
"Are they your friends, Pio?" the knight asked.
Pio nodded. "Yeah."
The knight laughed. "I see. Nice to meet you! I'm Sed. Go on, introduce yourself, Garth."
The mage yawned. "I'm Garth." Astrid did her best not to stare too much at him.
"I'm Lyria. Nice to meet you too."
"Did you join a guild as well, Lyria?" Pio asked.
"Yeah. Actually, we just created it today. It's called Noctis Noir."
Pio looked genuinely happy. "Woah! Congratulations! Who's your guildmaster?"
Lyria placed her hands on Astrid's shoulders and pushed her forward. "Astrid is our guildmaster."
Astrid was a little embarrassed to have everyone's eyes on her. "Lyria is our second-in-command."
Sed smiled. "Is that so? Well, I hope our guilds can form an alliance. If you need help, call us anytime! We'll be glad to provide assistance to Pio's friends." He held out his hand in front of Astrid. "A handshake of diplomacy."
Astrid took the handshake. "Thanks. We appreciate it."
"We have to get going now. Yaya and Jasmine are waiting for us. See you around!"
"Bye, you two!" Pio waved.
Garth did a slight bow before turning to leave.
Astrid was still in a daze after they disappeared from sight. The past few minutes felt like a strange dream. "Lyria, what just happened?"
"We just allied with one of the strongest guilds in Aries! That's what happened." Lyria cried tears of joy.
"Anyway, let's go buy the ingredients before we forget our purpose of coming here."
"Welcome back!" Luna greeted Astrid and Lyria when they went back inside the guild headquarters. She was still on the bed, this time with a copy of that month's issue of Aries Unlimited, the monthly magazine.
"Where'd you get that copy?" Lyria asked as she stuffed the ingredients into the fridge.
"Apparently, it's delivered to us through our guild mailbox. We don't have to go buy our own copy anymore."
Amelie was standing in a corner changing poses every few seconds.
"What's with Amelie?" Astrid asked.
"I said my name is Chris not Amelie! How many times do I have to tell you girls?" Amelie said while she was posing.
Luna shrugged. "She discovered the camera function on the menu tablet, so now she's taking selfies like crazy."
Lyria filled Amelie and Luna in on their encounter with the Black Rose members.
"That's great! I can't believe this." Luna had a wide grin. "Nice going!" She gave a thumbs-up.
"I'd love to meet them!" said Amelie, who finally wrapped up her little photo shoot.
"I have news for you too," Luna said as she pulled out the magazine. "The magazine has the details of the World Guild War event. Apparently, the event starts two weeks from now. If we're going to join this, we need our guild points to reach three thousand."
"Can we make it?" Lyria asked Astrid.
Astrid pulled out her menu tablet and checked their guild points. "As of now, we're at 490. They automatically add 200 points when you start a guild. The rest of the numbers are calculated based off our levels and the number of members. I think we can make it, but we're going to have to work hard."
"What affects that number anyway?"
"Leveling up adds 2, defeating a boss adds 10, adding a new member adds 10, and defeating a player in PvP adds 20. Misconduct and players leaving the guild decrease those points."
"Looks like our best chance is through PvP, but we're probably going to lose at our current state." Luna sighed.
"I'm pretty sure I'm going to die in PvP," Amelie said with a smile.
Astrid nodded and folded her arms. "We'll have to focus on increasing our levels first."
"We can complete quests together," Lyria suggested. "It's faster that way."
"And the second news..." Luna flipped the pages of the magazine. "Check out who got featured in the magazine." She held up the magazine. The page had a photo of one of the crusaders they met while fighting the wyvern.
"It's Lyngvi!" Lyria covered her mouth. "He looks so cool here!"
"Read it closely."
Lyria did as Luna instructed. "He's... actually a famous singer in the real world? Wait! I get it now. The singer Vi in the real world is the same Vi in this world! No way..." It was too much for Lyria to take in. All her life, she had been a huge fan of Vi. She never thought she would have the chance to meet him in person. It was a dream come true.
"Imagine allying with their guild!" Luna squealed.
They both looked at Astrid who was busy sorting out her items for selling. She was mumbling to herself about prices and quality.
"Hey Astrid..." Lyria suddenly appeared at Astrid's left.
"We have a little request for you..." Luna appeared at Astrid's right side.
"Please ally with Knights Alliance!" They both said simultaneously and clapped their hands together.
Astrid raised a brow. "Wait what? What do you expect me to do? Just go up to them and ask?"
"Isn't that what Sed did?"
"Sed is part of Black Rose, whose guild level we might not even reach. It's rather unusual for an unknown guild to just ask a guild the same level as Black Rose to form an alliance. Why not just make friends with them? Keep talking whenever you see each other. Maybe they'll ask for an alliance."
"Oh yeah! Let's do this!" Luna threw a fist up in the air.
Lyria sighed. "I wish we bumped into them often though."
"If you can take note of the places they frequent, then you can keep 'accidentally' bumping into them there," Astrid said without taking her eyes off the items she laid out on the table.
"That sounds like stalking."
"You can think of it as 'increasing your chances' rather than stalking."
Luna was all pumped up and raised two fists up into the air. "Alright! I'm going to train hard and catch up to Tank's level, so he'll notice me!"
Lyria placed her hands on her cheeks while blushing. "Me too! I'll work hard to become a great priestess so I can support Vi."
Astrid finally turned her head and faced the two maidens in love. "I'm glad to hear that you're all motivated. Perhaps we should discuss our training schedule right now."
"It's not going to be a crazy tight schedule, right?" Amelie asked.
Astrid's grin turned into a creepy one. "That's right. It's not going to be easy. We're going to train hard and participate in that competition like a decent and respectable guild."
Luna was suddenly afraid. "Astrid's grin is scaring me!"
Amelie raised her hand. "Can we get day offs?"
Astrid thought about it. "If we manage to get ahead of schedule, then sure. Our best chance of gaining levels and guild points at the same time is doing dungeons where there are a few bosses. At our current level, there are only two dungeons we can enter with good chances of survival. That's Minotaur and Cerberus."
"We just got killed at Cerberus!" Luna exclaimed.
"At full party, we can slowly clear the dungeon by luring monsters one by one, but that will take too long. We need to go at a faster pace if we want to reach the guild point requirement in time for the event. We'll grind at Minotaur."
"I'll go prepare my blue potion stock for tomorrow," Lyria said and disappeared into the next room.
"I'm good with Minotaur," said Luna. "At least Amelie doesn't get mobbed as much in that dungeon."
"I'm Chris!" Amelie shouted. "Get it right!"