Mr. Collins’s triumph, in consequence of the /ginvite, was complete. The power of displaying the grandeur of his GM to his wondering visitors, and of letting them see her civility towards himself and his pocket healer, was exactly what he had wished for; and that an opportunity of doing it should be given so soon, was such an instance of Lady Catherine’s condescension, as he knew not how to admire enough.
“I confess,” said he, “that I should not have been at all surprised by her Guild Master’s asking us on Sunday to drink Honeymint tea and spend the evening at power leveling. I rather expected, from my knowledge of her affability, that it would happen. But who could have foreseen such an attention as this? Who could have imagined that we should receive an invitation to get a run through (an invitation, moreover, including the whole party) so immediately after your arrival!”
“I am the less surprised at what has happened,” replied Sir William, “from that knowledge of what the manners of the great really are, which my situation in game has allowed me to acquire. About the leadership of a good guild, such instances of elegant breeding are not uncommon.”
Scarcely anything was talked of the whole day or next morning but their planned forays to low level dungeons. Mr. Collins was carefully instructing them in what they were to expect, that the sight of such rooms, so many mobs, and so splendid a run through from a GM, might not wholly overpower them.
When the ladies were emptying their bags in preparation for the looting, he said to Elizabeth—
“Do not make yourself uneasy about your apparel. Lady Catherine is far from requiring that superiority of gear in us which becomes herself and her daughter. I would advise you merely to put on whatever of your gear is superior to the rest—there is no occasion for anything more. Lady Catherine will not think the worse of you for being not in epics. She likes to have the distinction of rank preserved.”
While they were preparing, he came two or three times to their vent channel, to recommend their being quick, as Lady Catherine very much objected to be kept waiting for anything. Such formidable accounts of her ladyship, and her manner of living, quite frightened Maria who had been little used to GMs of a raiding guild, and she looked forward to getting a run through with as much apprehension as her GM had done to his first battleground.
As the summoning stones did not yet allow higher level characters to use them (though it was rumored such would come in a future patch), they had a pleasant walk of about half a mile across Westfal. Every zone has its beauty and its prospects; and Elizabeth saw much to be pleased with, though she could not be in such raptures as Mr. Collins expected the scene to inspire, and was but slightly affected by his enumeration of the zone, and his relation of how long it had taken him to quest through it his first time.
When they descended into the Defias hideout Maria’s alarm was every moment increasing, and even Sir William was not perfectly calm. Elizabeth’s courage did not fail her. She had heard nothing of Lady Catherine that spoke her awful from any extraordinary talents or miraculous virtue, and the mere stateliness of gold or guild rank she thought she could witness without trepidation.
From the entrance, of which Mr. Collins pointed out, with a rapturous air, the fine proportion, they followed through an ante-chamber, to the room where Lady Catherine was waiting. Her GMship, with great condescension, gave them all a buff; and as Charlotte had settled it with Mr. Collins that three lowbies did not need any more than one higher level character to run them through, it was performed in a proper manner, without any of those explanations and pauses which he would have thought necessary.
In spite of being a GM in his own right, Sir William was so completely awed by the grandeur surrounding him, that he had but just courage enough to make an emote of thanks; and Mariah, frightened almost out of her senses, hit her autorun key and pulled the first room of mobs. Elizabeth found herself quite equal to the affair, and merely waited for dead bodies to loot. Lady Catherine was a tall, fat boomkin, with strongly-marked features, which might once have been handsome. Her air was not conciliating, nor was her manner of receiving them such as to make her visitors forget their inferior rank. She was not rendered formidable by silence; but whatever she said was spoken in so authoritative a tone, as marked her self-importance, and brought Mr. Wickham immediately to Elizabeth’s mind; and from the observation of the day altogether, she believed Lady Catherine to be exactly what he represented.
After pulling a few mobs, they were all sent to gather the loot, Mr. Collins droning on about how beneficial even a few greens would be to them at this level, and Lady Catherine kindly informing them that that her own fortune had been made through her own efforts at level.
The runthrough was exceedingly fast, and there was all the xp and all the articles of loot which Mr. Collins had promised; and he praised his GM’s ability with delighted alacrity; and every thing he said seconded by Sir William, who was now enough recovered to echo Mr Collins, in a manner which Elizabeth wondered Lady Catherine could bear. But Lady Catherine seemed gratified by their excessive admiration, and gave most gracious smiles, especially when anything useful dropped. The party did not supply much conversation. Elizabeth was ready to speak whenever there was an opening, but Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins between them made such things impossible.
When they had finished, there was little to be done but to hear Lady Catherine talk, which she did without any intermission, delivering her opinion on every subject in so decisive a manner, as proved that she was not used to have her judgement controverted. She inquired into Charlotte’s gearing concerns familiarly and minutely, gave her a great deal of advice as to the management of them all; told her how everything ought to be regulated, and instructed her as to the care of her gems and her enchants. Elizabeth found that nothing was beneath this great lady’s attention, which could furnish her with an occasion of dictating to others. In the intervals of her discourse with Mrs. Collins, she addressed a variety of questions to Maria and Elizabeth, but especially to the latter, of whose connections she knew the least, and who she observed to Charlotte was a very genteel, reserved kind of girl. She asked her, at different times, how many guild members she had, whether they were more or less serious about raiding than herself, whether any of them were likely to run heroic modes, whether they were geared, where they had been educated, what number of bank tabs her GM kept, and what had been her the reason for the guild name? Elizabeth felt all the impertinence of her questions but answered them very composedly. Lady Catherine then observed,
“Your guild is entailed on Mr. Collins, I think. For your sake,” turning to Charlotte, “I am glad of it; but otherwise I see no occasion for entailing guilds away from the people in them. Do you fish and cook, Elizabeth?”
“Oh! then—some time or other we shall be happy to have you ply those skills. First aid is also not to be neglected, though many people will. Do any of your guild mates employ all the secondary tradeskills?”
“One of them does.”
“Why did not you all learn? You ought all to have learned. Everyone in my guild is required to do so, and we do not provide them the means. Do you play the AH for income?”
“No, not at all.”
“What, none of you?”
“That is very strange. But I suppose you had no opportunity. Your guild cannot be getting many BoE drops.”
“What BoE drops we do get are used within the guild.”
“Has your guild banker left you?”
“We never had any guild banker.”
“No guild banker! How was that possible? I never heard of such a thing. Your other officers must work very hard.”
Elizabeth could hardly help smiling as she assured her that was not the case.
“Then, who cares for the guild? Who attends to you? Without dutiful officers, you must be neglected.”
“Compared with some guilds, I believe we were; but such of us as wished to make gold never wanted the means. We were always encouraged to run dailies, and had all the aid that was necessary. Those who chose to be idle, certainly might.”
“Aye, no doubt; but that is what a good officer will prevent, and if I had known your officers, I should have advised them most strenuously to be more active. I always say that nothing is to be done in game without steady and regular instruction, and nobody but an officer can give it. It is wonderful how many guilds I have been the means of supplying in that way. I am always glad to get another GM on the right track. Are any of your guild mates raiding in non guild groups, Elizabeth?”
“Yes, ma’am, all.”
“All! What, all of them at once? Very odd! And you doing the same and not very geared. The newer 80’s must not be very well geared?”
“Yes, the newest has barely one or two epics. Perhaps she is undergeared to be much raiding. But really, ma’am, I think it would be very hard upon new 80’s, that they should not have their share of experience and loot, because the older may not have the means or inclination to raid seriously. The newest 80 has as good a right to the pleasures of raiding at the first. And to be kept back on such a motive! I think it would not be very likely to promote guild affection or experience in raiding.”
“Upon my word,” said her ladyship, “you give your opinion very decidedly for so untried a raider. Pray, what is your GearScore?”
“With several guildmates undergeared,” replied Elizabeth, smiling, “your ladyship can hardly expect me to own it.”
Lady Catherine seemed quite astonished at not receiving a direct answer; and Elizabeth suspected herself to be the first creature who had ever dared to trifle with so much dignified impertinence.
“You cannot be more than 4500, I am sure, therefore you need not conceal your Score.”
“I am not 4400.”
When the power leveling was over, the level 80’s all set to the task of a running heroics. The lower level plays were left to quest or queue for randoms as they liked. Their PUGs were superlatively stupid. Scarcely a syllable was uttered that did not relate to one of them needing to l2play, except when Elizabeth told a rather mouthy hunter to shut up. A great deal more passed in the guild heroic. Lady Catherine was generally speaking—stating the mistakes of the four others, or relating some anecdote of herself. Mr. Collins was employed in agreeing to everything her ladyship said, thanking her for every loot role he won, and apologising if he thought he won too many.
When Lady Catherine had played as long as she chose, the groups were broken up and various people began logging off for the night. Everyone left in the guild chat were able to hear Lady Catherine determine what sort of loot they were to have drop on the morrow. As soon as Lady Catherine had logged off for the night, Elizabeth was called on by Mr. Collins to give her opinion of all that she had seen at <Rosings>, which, for Charlotte’s sake, she made more favourable than it really was. But her commendation, though costing her some trouble, could by no means satisfy Mr. Collins, and he was very soon obliged to take her ladyship’s praise into his own hands.