“Iris, please!” begged Dani, gripping the older girl’s hand in both of hers.
Iris frowned at her before saying, “Haven’t we been inside enough? I helped you with guitar for an hour before band practice. We could go for a run or play basketball.”
“The basketball court is indoors as well.” stated Mila.
“And I promised Kayla that we’d play with her. She’s working hard to finish her courses early today!” exclaimed Dani.
“Why not get some of the others to help? James and Brandon are already in game.” suggested Iris.
“Daddy’s character is waaaay stronger than Luxa or Dreamdust.” replied Dani with a pout.
“How do you know Trixie isn’t level fifty already?” teased Iris.
Dani rolled her eyes and said, “There aren’t any levels in Ancient Tribes of Earth.”
“Oooh. No wonder I’ve been taking so long to level up.” replied Iris with a smirk.
“Mila, how long will Kayla take to finish her coursework?” I loudly inquired after turning back to the game.
“At least an hour, master.” replied Mila.
“Why not go do something with Iris first, and then drag her back for gaming?” I suggested.
“Neither of our characters have skills as good as Kayla’s. We need extra game time.” complained Dani.
“I tried, Iris.” I told her, glancing over my shoulder.
“Daddy! You were taking her side!?” asked Dani, sounding shocked.
“I was simply trying to find a mutually beneficial alternative.” I replied.
Dani pleaded with Iris for another couple minutes before Iris gave in. As I managed my guild and conversed with numerous guild mates, I considered my daughter’s character. Trixie, Iris’ character, was focused in electrical attacks similarly to how I focused on fire magic with Ignus, so she was getting her skill up relatively quickly. Dani’s Luxa was all over the place. She picked up some crafting skills, such as painting and architecture, while also trying to learn several types of weapon forms, every type of elemental magic, two types of enhancement magic, and a large variety of social skills. Before she made her character, I had warned her that every last base skill had multiple branches unlocked through combining skills. She would take far, far longer to get anywhere without focusing some, but she still couldn’t decide on just one thing.
I looked forward to seeing what crazy combinations she would make if she stuck with her current paths, but I worried that she’d grow frustrated. Dani had likely been inspired in her choices by my story of Raine holding off a demon lord single-handedly, but Raine had the greatest number of skills in the household. She also had more hours logged than any of us and was very focused on the incredible multitude of crafting skills. Well, Aaliyah was likely to be the true record holder, having designed the game. I wouldn’t be surprised if Aaliyah gave her character the effective experience of every player combined, simply trying to be a closer approximation of her real life self.
Raine had a tremendous number of advantages over most players that helped her gain skill ranks. Even before joining the guild, she had a great reputation for her crafting prowess and could level skills without losing time on traveling, since she did so many commissions with materials provided by the commissioner. She also seemed to have everything memorized, so she never had to check her crafting logs to see how something was made. Her incredible reflexes and superhuman awareness helped her achieve a one hundred percent success rate in creating the most perfect example of the item her skill would allow on every given thing she crafted, granting her huge bonuses on leveling the skill. In addition, Raine’s workshop allowed her to do certain types of crafting simultaneously, since some skills such as cooking had wait periods between steps. My daughter was superhuman, but she couldn’t compete on Raine’s level. Even if Raine loaned her the workshop, Dani probably wouldn’t have the incredible sense of timing needed to multitask as Raine did. I didn’t feel Dani fully appreciated how great of an undertaking her choices were, since Ancient Tribes of Earth was so unlike the games she played before.
I watched as Iris and Dani set off on a gathering quest and a kill quest in the same direction. Did either of them have high enough herbalism to even gather dragon lotus? Did they realize the plant got its name due to needing ambient energy from water dragons to grow? I was tempted to warn them, but this could be a good learning experience. Considering for a moment if they were likely to look at my screen, I decided to stalk them, so I’d be close enough to help if needed. I stopped my character seconds later, sighed, and headed back into the guild hall. If they died, I could gather a group to help them reclaim their gear. I had a bad habit of being overprotective with Dani. I did my best to fight the urges. Alma and I trained her to be very capable in the real world, and she could surely handle herself in a game.
“I’m ready!” exclaimed Kayla, bounding into the room. She looked around, gasped, and pointed at Iris’ screen. “You started without me!”
“Kayla, stop by the guild hall before you chase after them. I’ll give you a couple potions to help catch up.” I promised.
“Thank you, James!” she exclaimed, literally jumping into her seat.
“Be careful with the furniture.” I warned.
She sheepishly looked over at me and said, “Sorry, James.”
I looked back to my screen and smiled. Dani was easily as rambunctious at Kayla’s age. Everywhere we traveled, she’d sprint all over, trying to take in as much as possible. Well, unless there was someone with whom she thought she could flirt. Jemal didn’t know how easy he had it. Dani’s species made human teens seem calm and reasonable. I sighed, feeling old as thoughts of the years I spent away flooded my mind.
“Ready and waiting, sir” announced Kayla, making her character, Dreamdust, salute.
I had Ignus return the salute and handed over the potions. Raine would make me more as soon as I mentioned I was low. She saluted again after the trade, drank a potion, and ran off, clipping the door on the way out. Another day, another adventure. I smiled.