20: A Leaf at a Time
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"What are we looking at?" Danika questioned.

MatchlessMinion darted over to the only bare spot in the lot full of clover and pointed to a tiny seedling that had sprouted in the center of it.

It looked like a radish sprout or something to Danika, but she made a guess based on his excitement, "Is that our new guild hall tree?"

"Yeah!" he replied happily.

"Why didn't she use the growth spell?" Danika questioned.

Shrubbery stepped out of her tree behind them and replied herself, startling Danika and Aishin both. "We can't use that spell unless you want it to have a completely random shape. I have to control its growth with other skills. Right now I'm teaching my tree to feed it energy slowly even when I'm not logged in."

Since almost all of them had seen the dryad grow a tree from a support post into something bigger than a fortress before in mere minutes, Danika hadn't expected this long wait while their tree grew.

"It's so exciting, being here for the growth of the guild's hall!" Icieth Occino, their new ottermin member exclaimed excitedly.

Shrubbery smiled at her and announced, "Anytime any of you visit and you see the bare soil around it, lay just enough of the seaweed around it to cover the bare patch, which will expand slowly as the tree gets taller."

She scooped up some of the seaweed and demonstrated. Danika decided that she was going to check from her phone before logging in each day.

"Post the instructions on the guild board," Aishin suggested.

"Ah, right, of course," Shrubbery agreed.

"Hey? Do you think it's alright if I invite a few friends to join Endless Song too?" Icieth asked hopefully.

Everyone looked at ZipZing questioningly. Danika turned to look at Aishin. He blinked at her and then said softly, "You're the leader?"

"Only because I haven't revived yet," Danika protested. She lowered her voice and added, "And adding people doesn't risk affecting my job as much as it might yours."

Aishin surprised her by petting her and flashing a smile. "I'm sorry," he murmured. "Let's spend the rest of this week teaching you the other three skills I'd like to keep, and gathering another set of familiar bonding materials just in case. And then I'll reincarnate, which is supposed to reset that now, and take the position like you wanted in the first place."

Danika gasped and straightened where she sat on his hands. "That's too much!" she protested. "You'll have to start completely over if you do that!"

"I won't," Aishin argued. "I'll have you to teach me and I'll learn faster."

"Maybe she doesn't want to have to introduce people to her level one boyfriend," Nao1 suggested coyly.

"I don't care about that!" Danika protested.

Aishin flashed a wider grin and told Icieth firmly, "Sure, it's alright if you invite people you enjoy playing with to join us.

"Transferring leadership just like that?" MatchlessMinion questioned dryly.

Aishin said cooly, "You know we pushed her into it originally, and the game has a way around the costs we used as an excuse now."

"I don't really mind it that much," Danika protested a bit weakly.

MatchlessMinion glanced at her, and then nodded to Aishin. "Fair enough."

"I don't know," Nao1 objected seriously. "Do you even have time to play guild leader?"

Aishin replied quickly, "Dan- I mean, ZipZing is nearly as busy. If you want someone who's less busy, we should give it to MatchlessMinion or Shrubbery."

MatchlessMinion waved his hands and replied firmly, "Nope! We have our own things too!"

"It is a valid concern though, as often as things have come up that required ZipZing's confirmation," Ryullusion pointed out quietly as he circled the rotting seaweed gingerly. Everyone turned to look at him and he protested quickly, "I'm definitely not nominating myself."

"Buy more titles and the House system, and have all the things that need the guild leader now require three titled members to approve, or something along those lines," Silvam suggested. She held up her hands as though to stall a protest and added quickly, "I know that's a pretty big investment, but since the guild will have more members, it'll be necessary eventually anyway."

"Nobody's arguing," MatchlessMinion pointed out dryly. "That'd be fine, I'll vote for that."

Danika laughed, but Shrubbery was the one who answered MatchlessMinion and Nao1's confused expressions, "Technically, you don't get a vote. You insisted on leaving the decision to ZipZing."

"Okay, I'll vote for that too," Danika agreed. She looked at Aishin and pointed out, "Then you won't have to reincarnate."

Aishin pouted at her briefly, and followed it up with a silly tongue sticking out expression that almost nobody used outside of emotes. "Really don't want a level one familiar huh?" he teased.

Danika huffed and crossed her arms. "I really don't care," she insisted. "If that's what you want to do, it's totally fine, but you don't have to."

"Thanks," he replied with a grin.

Shrubbery insisted that they all talk about the design of the guild tree for awhile, but eventually Danika suggested, "Let's wait for Kit? I mean, it might be silly, but I'd like it if she could feel like even if things have to change, Endless Song is still here waiting?"

"Yeah, that's a good idea," Shrubbery agreed, and her expression brightened.

"And you don't want to be the guild leader," MatchlessMinion complained with a toss of his little hands.

Danika widened her eyes and pouted at him with a nearly tearful expression that made Aishin snort. "Won't you give me a title if I give this one up?" she questioned with false sadness.

"Eww! Never make that face again!" MatchlessMinion demanded. "Yes, fine, you can have a different title!"

Aishin suggested with amusement and a glance at the guild remembrance statuary, "Maybe to start with, we should try to buy a title for each of the founding members?"

"I don't need one," Nao1 declared quickly.

"Neither do I," Ryullusion spoke up again.

Danika suggested, "For now, why don't we use the same criteria we've been using, and try to select members who will keep the costs low?"

"You have something against me don't you," MatchlessMinion grumbled.

"It was your idea in the first place," Danika protested.

MatchlessMinion winked at her, and she rolled her eyes.

They discussed some wild ideas for the hall while they waited for Kit, including an entire room full of water in case they had aquatic members later.

Icieth approached ZipZing when she left Aishin's hands after awhile and whispered, "Hey, is your name really Dan? I totally thought that you were a girl!"

Danika laughed helplessly.