When Dani’s Luxa started to dance around the altar as depicted on the cave wall, a hauntingly beautiful song started playing with a rhythm matching her steps. Iris and Kayla were chanting the words from the altar as their characters circled it behind Dani.
The wall beyond seemed to melt away, soaking into the ground, revealing a large, carved room with another door beyond. A quest appeared on their screens after they searched around the room, asking them to find a way into Llarneth’s Keep.
Watching between the screens I wondered how long the girls would take deciphering the clues in the hall. I had faith in Dani’s abilities, of course, but her lack of experience in the game and my world’s myths might inhibit her. Kayla was probably decent with riddles. She seemed the type that would enjoy them. I wasn’t sure if Iris would be too keen on them, especially since she wasn’t as into the game as the rest of us.
“Daddy, any ideas?” asked Dani after a few minutes.
“Yes, but I’m not there on my character. We don’t want Aaliyah claiming you cheated, right?” I teased.
She rolled her eyes and then smiled at me. “I should go tell mom what we’ve discovered, unless Mila’s showing her.”
“You caught me.” admitted Mila.
“What’s mom think this means?” inquired Dani as she pointed to one of the depictions.
“That’s a unicorn, and that mean man is making something with its horn.” explained Kayla. “This one looks like something made from a dragon’s tooth.”
“Is Raine home? She’s the guild crafter, right?” asked Iris, waiting for Kayla to nod. “She can probably make what we need.”
“Dragons are so pretty.” commented Dani in a wistful tone. She had met Alma’s family a few times and enjoyed her time with them. At least, she probably was thinking of them and not the one which recently attacked her group. She jumped as Raine appeared next to her, staring at the screens.
I had heard the front doors open and immediately close, but I wasn’t expecting her. How far was she when she still heard them talking?
“Wh-where are y-you?” inquired Raine.
“I thought you were on a job.” I mentioned.
“I-I finished.” she mumbled.
“She’s also gotten another fantastic review. Mr. Common is quite impressed with how quickly she reorganized his coin collection and thought the new displays are remarkable.” added Mila in a neutral tone.
“Excellent.” I replied with a smile. “How many coins were there?”
“Three th-thousand seventy-f-four.” replied Raine in a whisper.
“So how long did that take you to plan out? Half a second?” I teased.
Raine shook her head.
“I actually had images from the collection’s previous displays and designed the new displays based off them with the improved security features. She installed them and moved the coins.” explained Mila.
“Well, I’m glad he’s happy.” I assured them.
“We found a cave!” exclaimed Kayla. “Then Dani did this dance thing while Iris and I chanted, and it opened! There was music and everything!”
“But now we’re stuck.” complained Iris. “We need some sort of items as keys.”
Raine nodded and seemed to be studying the designs. She asked the three to change their views as she watched, then she said, “I-I’ll deliver.”
“Really? It’s quite a walk.” I warned her.
Raine shrugged and said, “I w-want to come.”
“You’ll join us!? Really!?” exclaimed Dani as she hopped out of her seat. She ran over to Raine, who was nodding, and hugged her, petting her hair. “You’re the best!” She glanced at me and quickly said, “Don’t worry daddy, you’re the best daddy.”
“Thank you.” I told her with a smile.
Raine apparently understood the instructions at a glance, because she was quickly combining materials and forging… something. I really had no clue what at first.
“Did you just make a new anvil?” I inquired when she cracked open a mold.
She nodded and said, “I’ll n-need to make k-key molds there.”
I almost asked how she’d smelt the materials, but Raine knew far more about the crafting in the game than I did. She surely had everything covered.
Kayla created a tracking marker after Dani invited Raine to the group. The distance which seemed so far with the three girls running took mere minutes for Raine to traverse, chugging only two speed potions.
When she got down there, she put together a workshop from the items she had whipped together. Dani, Iris, and Kayla gathered around Raine’s chair, watching as she started measuring the key slots and making her molds from them.
“How did you get a unicorn horn?” asked Kayla, sounding worried. “You didn’t… kill it… Did you?”
“I… t-traded for it.” replied Raine.
“What about the dragon tooth?” asked Iris.
“K-knocked it out.” stated Raine.
I knew knocking out a tooth was possible, but I hadn’t realized Raine pulled that off on a dragon. She might have a skill boost for it from crafting, though I wouldn’t be surprised if she was simply that skilled. I knew from experience that she didn’t mind blowing however many potions was needed for a valuable crafting material, since she constantly made the potions in bulk.
The girls continued asking Raine about the ingredients, how she attained them, and what she was doing with them. Raine kindly answered their questions as she masterfully continued her craft.
Alma casually walked into the room just as the second key was being crafted. She kissed my head and then took a seat on my lap.
“You stopped replying in the game.” she told me.
“Sorry. I find this,” I told her, waving at Raine’s screen, “distracting.”
“Remember what happened last time we fell into a cave?” she asked me, staring into my eyes and smiling.
I was tempted to ask her whether she meant in game or the time we fell through the ice into the lost ruins of Anaskera. I was quite thankful that day for being virtually impervious to being cold. Alma probably meant in game, but I wasn’t too worried. There were guilds hunting the last demon lord, and I was glad to let them deal with it. My guild hogged enough of the glory from that quest.
Dani and Kayla each took a key with their characters, and Iris counted down for them to insert the keys together.
“It’s opening!” excitedly whispered Dani, practically bouncing.
Even Iris seemed excited. The doors swung open to reveal a beautiful foyer which seemed made of ice.
“Master, the applicant has arrived.” stated Mila.
I sighed, lifted my wife, and kissed her before setting her in my chair. Her violet eyes watched me as a playful smile appeared on her lips. I had a great many wonderful memories of where that smile could lead, but I turned and walked, ignoring my urge to postpone things.
“Thank you, Mila.” I told her as I walked to the front doors. I was certain Mila would provide me a replay later upon request. Work came first.