12: Expanding Song
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MatchlessMinion asked, "Do you think Silvam has more than one player? Maybe Kit knows someone else?"

"I don't think so," Danika answered with less certainty than she expected.

Kit was flustered by their reactions and complained, "You guys don't like her, or uh, him I guess?"

"I like Lin Hao, although he's kind of annoying to play with as Silvam I guess. I feel like she's always hanging back and watching instead of getting involved," Danika admitted.

"She's a troll, she likes to say just enough to tease you about how much she knows," MatchlessMinion grumped.

Shrubbery suggested, "Maybe she likes messing with ZipZing because this is outside of work, but is normally helpful? I mean, she is a Jade Hand. Healing and helping, laughing and learning, I think?"

Kit interjected, "She's just quiet and efficient, and I've only ever heard her say nice things about any of you."

Danika winced and replied, "Unlike us? Sorry."

MatchlessMinion rubbed an ear and changed the subject. "But why did you wish Silvam was here anyway?"

Danika waved her little clawed hands and explained, "He said that the reason the snow leopard guardian was so strange was because something went wrong in her threat detection routines and she was always in an active guarding mode, even when no one was anywhere near her mountain."

She received three questioning looks in return, and added, "It just seems like it could be related to how the snow leopard cub was always paying attention to everything?"

"I guess that sounds reasonable enough?" Shrubbery ventured.

Kit said quietly, "He was always paying attention to everything too." When they all turned to look at her, she added, "The baby."

Danika didn't know what to say.

Ryullusion logged in and provided a distraction for all of them, as they contacted him. Their guild message board became rather busy for a moment.

Kit posted: "Hi. We're all in Fogton right now."

Danika asked: "Have you heard of the song called 'Little Dragon's Notorious Tale', or is it available through your skills?"

Ryullusion posted at the same time: "Someone just asked if they could join our guild? What should I tell them?"

MatchlessMinion answered before Danika: "If they seem serious about it, tell them to go ahead."

"I want to ask Aishin first," Danika posted a moment later.

Ryullusion answered her question with, "Haven't heard it that I recall, I'll check."

MatchlessMinion turned and stared at her, while Shrubbery asked, "Why wouldn't we just accept anyone like we used to?"

"Like we used to?" Kit questioned.

"In a different game," MatchlessMinion explained.

"But we all know about Underneath, so anyone who joins will find out pretty quickly," Danika pointed out uncertainly.

"Oh," Shrubbery replied in a subdued tone. "I hadn't thought of that."

Kit rubbed her face and complained, "Maybe it's because I'm tired this morning, but I don't understand. What's wrong with us knowing about the band?"

"Maybe nothing," Danika replied, which only seemed to increase Kit's confusion.

"He's bringing them here to meet us, so you'd better decide," MatchlessMinion warned.

Danika looked and saw that Ryullusion had written: "I think she seems serious about it? I'll bring her there so you can interview her. The song is available to play, as currently popular."

"Interview?" Danika questioned.

MatchlessMinion rolled his eyes and crossed his arms. "Yeah, that's what major guild's do before adding you. They usually have level limitations, and evaluate your skills and equipment, and have rules about mission participation.

"We could say we only add fans of Underneath,"  Shrubbery suggested.

Danika thought of Aishin's reaction to Xander and his enthusiasm for Underneath and rejected the idea immediately. "No! Imagine having a whole guild full of fans, wouldn't that make it like they were all at work even during their play time?"

"Should we reject fans of them then?" MatchlessMinion questioned with a thoughtful expression.

Danika frowned, and hurriedly messaged Aishin. It was possible that he still wouldn't have a good connection, or even that he was already sleeping by now, but she really didn't want to decide this without having his opinion.

"You've never thought of discussing it with him before?" Shrubbery asked when Danika said that aloud.

"Discussing what?" Ryullusion asked, as he entered the garden.

The cute ottermin trailing behind him looked around in amazement. She glanced back over the low wall at the city koi ponds just across the street, with the public tea house beyond them, and exclaimed, "Wow! This place is awesome! I had no idea that there was anywhere like this within the human capital."

Danika gazed at the cute character with her wide enthusiastic eyes, and knew that there was no way that they were actually going to refuse her request to join the guild, but she tried to obliquely answer Ryullusion while at least putting up a token of resistance. "When we decided to create the guild, Aishin and I never thought of discussing rules for adding future members."

"An otter was just wandering around in the desert and suddenly wanted to join Endless Song?" MatchlessMinion asked suspiciously.

Danika blinked in surprise. The chinchillamin sounded incredulous and slightly hostile, even though he'd been the first to suggest accepting a few minutes ago. She couldn't tell if he was actually worried about something or trying to give her an excuse to refuse.

"Practically everybody is spending time in the desert," the ottermin pointed out. "But I was actually wandering the western ocean, which is amazing by the way, and the great bard personally told me that Endless Song would be a wonderful guild for me! It was so cool!"

"The great bard?" Kit questioned.

"Sea Song Tione?" Danika guessed. "He's a dolphin?"

"Yes! Oh, and my name's Icieth Occino. Sorry I didn't say that first," the ottermin replied nervously. "But hasn't a guild as notorious as Endless Song already had lots of applicants?"

Danika hesitated at the word notorious, and MatchlessMinion didn't help as he snickered and mouthed it at her.

Icieth glanced between them with a confused expression and then looked at Ryullusion questioningly.

Ryullusion raised an eyebrow expressively at them, and Danika answered quickly, "Only one other that I know of. No, maybe two now if SilentSky counts? He hasn't joined yet though, he's still in his waiting week."

Aishin's little bat arrived with a reply for her, and she snatched it greedily out of the air. The little bat departed hurriedly as Danika read: "I'll support whatever you decide. Nao1 insists that they must be cute, and Saaki says we should require that they bring Shrubbery a shrubbery, but just ignore those guys."

MatchlessMinion demanded, "Well?"

Danika laughed and read the message aloud.

"So what's your decision captain?" MatchlessMinion asked sweetly. When Danika looked at him he added, "We'll support whatever you decide too you know."

"Cute, is covered," Kit pointed out with a giggle.

"I can get a shrubbery," Icieth volunteered.

"I don't need a shrubbery," Shrubbery protested.

"I totally don't mind collecting one," Icieth insisted.

"I still don't know what kind of rules we should make, or if we should have any about who can join. But I think it's okay for Icieth Occino to join us, if you're all agreed?"

Everyone immediately nodded, except Icieth, who clapped her paws happily instead.