Faith's mind was reeling. She had taken in so much in a single day. She was used to spending weeks in the same quiet patterns and suddenly she felt there was more to learn than she'd ever realized! She felt exhausted.
"I'm going to check the union board for jobs," said Thysmac who left the table.
Malut followed him over to a black board with carved trim that was mounted beside the bar and they both scrutinzed it.
"I didn't see that board before. What are they doing?" Faith asked Twila.
"Oh, that's the union board, didn't they tell you about it? It's enchanted. You can only see it if you have an active union rune. All the current jobs available are listed on it and all of the people available for jobs show up on it, if they check in. C'mon, I'll show you."
The girls walked over to the board. Their table was immediately claimed by a halfling and a human; the tavern had people waiting for seats. Faith noticed as they got closer that there were several colored gems set into the bottom of the frame and the board itself seemed to be made of a very thin sheet of black obsidian. It was almost transparent. As she got closer, she could see rows of gold writing on the board which changed every so often. She had seen similar boards in the lighting rail stations in Breland, displaying the time and destination for each train.
"House Orien makes these for the Union, aren't they fantastic?" asked Twila.
"How does it work?" Faith asked, staring at the text that was slowly scrolling down the board.
"OK, if you touch this sapphire here, the board shows you available jobs," Twila pointed out the button-like gem at the bottom of the frame. "If there's more than fit on a screen, it moves every so often to show you the new ones, see?"
"You see here is the name of the person offering the job, a short description, what types of people they need (like fighters or clerics) and sometimes it tells you what the pay will be. A lot of times the pay is whatever treasure you recover while you are doing the job. These numbers here tell you what level of expertise they are looking for. Sometimes you can get away with being lower than what they want, but that can be dangerous so you try to stick to jobs at your level."
"What level are we? One?"
"Yep, so far. Every job we do builds our skills and adds to our experience so when you go check in with your trainer, they'll update your records and you can take higher level jobs. The higher level jobs usually offer more money and experience."
"Can you move out of the way? I need to post a job right now," a short orange-haired man limped past them to speak to the priest at the far side of the bar. He touched the priest on the shoulder and said something to him, too quiet for Faith to hear.
The priest pulled out a piece of parchment and wrote down a few lines. The man nodded and handed him a few coins.
"I'll be down near the harbor, Brother Malden. I need someone now so just send whoever applies down to see me," said the man. Then he limped out the door.
Brother Malden nodded and walked over to the board. He held up the parchment in one hand, waved his other hand across it and it disintegrated. Faith, Twila, Thysmac and Malut all watched with great interest as a new line appeared on the job board.
Baldar the Bold : Guard the Cannith Crystal : Korthos Island : Overnight Duty : Classes- Any : Levels 1-3 : Pay- Items, no cash.
"Let's take it!" exclaimed Twila. "Our first job! We might as well take the overnight shift since we don't have a hut tonight."
"I'm so tired," said Faith. "I'm not sure I can stay up all night."
"Psht, don't worry about it. I'm an elf. We don't sleep anyway, we just meditate. I'll do the watching and you sleep and I'll wake you if anything happens. We can do this, Faith!" Twila encouraged her.
"Ok, what do I do to apply?" asked Faith.
"Do this," said Twila. She touched her neck then tapped the job listing on the board. A tiny spark of light flew from her fingers. Faith did the same thing. Thysmac and Malut, who had been watching all of this, did the same thing too.
"Hey, this is our job!" said Twila. "We need it."
"I need it too," said Thysmac.
"You two couldn't even read that listing, could you? You're just taking this job because we want it!"
Malut said nothing but walked over to Brother Malden at the bar. Brother Malden said something and pointed toward the door. Malut headed out.
"Oh no you don't!" said Twila. "Faith, he's taking our job, come on!"
Everyone followed Malut across the square through the softly falling snow to where the orange-headed man was sitting next to a ramshakle building.
"We're here about the job," said Twila quickly, pushing in front of the others and dragging Faith with her.
Baldar looked over the group.
"You'll do, I guess," he said.
"Which of us will do?" asked Twila, worried that he was only talking to the guys.
"All five of you, we'll need a good group," answered Baldar. "Here's the job.
You all know about that blighted dragon and the cultists and how it's snowing and all that, right? Well the only thing keeping the ice and snow out of the village proper and the harbor is a Cannith Crystal. It's a magical power source that generates a field that keeps the worst of the ice out of the village. Without it, the harbor would freeze up so ships can't get in or out and we'd all freeze.
We had more than a dozen Cannith Crystals, but the sahuagin and their brainwashed cultists keep breaking them. They are insane! Our very last crystal is mounted in the storeroom behind me. We don't know how they are getting in at night, but they are. We cannot afford to lose this crystal! You understand how important this is?"
They all nodded.
"We keep guards on this crystal night and day. A few days ago, two cultists broke in and attacked me and my partner Vogel. I ended up with a broken ankle and Vogel is still resting, he was nearly killed. The Bauerson boys were on the schedule for tonight, but they told me they can't make it. Something going on up at the crypt, apparently. So I have to hire replacement guards and you're it.
Now, no one's bothered the crystal in a few days so I'm not expecting trouble but you need to be prepared because you never know when they will strike.
Go on in and stay alert. This is our last crystal; if it's broken, Korthos village will be buried in ice in about a week at best. Protect the crystal and stay put until a replacement guard comes to relieve you in the morning. Got it?"
"Got it," they answered in unison. There was one gruff voice that surprised them, though. They turned to see the dwarf, Kalvenor, standing just behind them. Suddenly Baldar's comment about "five of you" made sense.
"Baldar, you know I can protect the crystal myself," Kal said. "Send these kids away."
Twila and Faith looked at each other in alarm. Where would they spend the night?
"Kal, my orders are to send a party of three to six in there to guard and with everyone here being low level including you, I'm sending in a full party. If you don't like it, you can skip this job," Baldar bristled a little at being told what to do.
"No, no, I'll take it. Not many assignments out here can get me the experience I need to graduate this program and I need to get off this rathole island as soon as possible," Kal said pleasantly, as if he were complimenting the place instead of insulting it. "I'll babysit the greenhorns and guard the crystal, makes no real difference I guess."
Baldar's face flushed red with anger. Without a word, he walked past Kalvenor, handed to key to the storeroom to Malut and stomped off.