The building had a heavy stone portico supporting a second floor porch. The double doors stood open, indicating that the Hall was open for business.
The three adventurers entered a large room, divided by a low counter. People were moving about behind the counter while others were waiting in the front area on benches that lined the walls. Carved stone faces decorated pillars. As they walked towards the counter, one of the faces spoke.
"Welcome to Union Hall, home of the Adventurer's Union, created by adventurers for adventurers. I am a magic mouth, here to help you to help yourself.
If you would like to begin your career with the Union, please say one.
If you would like to update your records or reactivate your membership, please say two.
If you would like to change your membership options, please say three.
If you would like to deactivate your membership, please say four.
If you would like to lodge a complaint or make a suggestion, please exit the building and enter the next building over where you can speak at the Forum.
If you would like to hear these options again, please say nine."
"One," the three of them said in unison.
"I'm sorry," said the face. "I can only help one person at a time. Please try again."
Malut stood back and Faith waved Is'kel forward to go first. She found that approaching another face gave her the same introduction so she said,"One," to it.
"Welcome to the Adventurer's Union. Please state your full name, race and class."
"Faith Fayrehold, human, monk."
"Do you have any past experience in adventuring or have you been trained at an approved Union facility?"
"Do you have any documents supporting your experience or training?"
"Would you like to become an esteemed Union member today? Esteemed members get first opportunity for the highest paying jobs and valuable magic items to help you complete your tasks more efficiently and with less bloodshed. Esteemed members also get access to all areas of the Union Forum, thinktank of the adventuring community."
"How much does it cost?"
"Esteemed members pay a monthly fee of one hundred platinum."
"No thank you."
"You can upgrade your membership choices at any time by visiting one of the magic mouths in this facility. Can I help you with anything else today?"
Faith wasn't sure. Was that all?
"No thank you."
"Thank you for your patience. Please have a seat and one of our administrators will be with you shortly."
She joined Is'kel on one of the benches and soon Malut sat with them as well. It was a busy day in the Union Hall and they couldn't help but overhear a few of the consultations happening at the desks on the other side of the counter.
"You should replace them, they were defective," said the half-elf wearing heavy plate mail.
"Mr. Eserath, there are some locks that cannot be picked by magic. The description clearly states that the Bell of Opening will open any lock that is able to be picked," the human woman explained patiently. "I cannot replace them."
"You listen to me, missy," the half-elf raised his voice. "I pay good platinum to be an esteemed member around here and that should count for something! Now, you gave me bells that wouldn't unlock a door. I had to go back and tell that fellow over in House Kundarak that I couldn't fix his troll problem because I couldn't get in the stinking door after I'd spent hours fighting my way in. I have lost a paying job over this. I am not asking you to replace my lost wages or experience, only the defective, stinking bells!"
"Mr. Eserath, our magical items are created for us by the most esteemed wizards in the Twelve. They are not defective, they simply do not work on some locks that no magic will unlock." The woman made a motion to a minotaur standing in the corner. He walked over to the desk. "Did you try looking in the area for a key?"
"Why should I have to use a key when I have magical bells of opening? Does that make any sense at all? I wasted five bells and five hours of my life," Mr. Eserath was shouting now. "All I want is for you to replace my bells! And I think you can if you want to keep me as a paying member around here."
"It's time to go," growled the minotaur.
"I'm not going anywhere until I get my bells of opening back! I have a right to be here, I am a paying member!" The minotaur picked up the half-elf and hoisted him over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and carried him to the door. "Fine! You can just cancel my membership!"
An angry halfling was sitting across the desk from a bored-looking human man.
"Of course you can do something about it! Revoke his Union membership. Or at least suspend it."
"Mr. um... Blake. Grease is an approved spell. Can you prove it was used intentionally to injure you and your party?"
"He cast it on a sloping path on the side of a mountain! Then he stood there laughing when we all fell! The mission failed and I won't accept a job where he's there again. That sort of unprofessional behavior is uncalled for."
The human sorted through some pieces of parchment on his desk.
"I see. Well, we did investigate your claim and Mr. Wolfwhistles' statement was that he did not cast grease at that time. He claims the barbarian in the group cast it from a magical item to implicate him, then slid in his own grease puddle.. He states that while he did find it amusing, he did also jump down and cast a dimension door, allowing the rest of the party to pass through and extricate themselves from the ravine."
"He did it, I know he did it!"
"I am sorry Mr. Blake but there's nothing more I can do. This incident will be recorded in your file and in Mr. Wolfwhistle's file for future reference."
"Unbelievable!" sputtered the halfling. "This is why I don't pay to become an esteemed member! You won't even take action against proven saboteurs."
"Do have a good day, Mr. Blake."
"This isn't over! I'll make sure every single adventurer on this continent knows how Wolfwhistle is! And you know what else? He wouldn't even cast a blur or haste spell for us. I'm going to the Forum!"
The halfling glanced at the minotaur who was watching the scene from his post in the back of the room, then he stalked out of the front door.
A pleasant-looking dwarf woman approached the counter and called out, "Fayrehold?"
"Me." Faith followed the dwarf to a desk near the back of the room.
"Hello, dear. I'm Evelyn Darkstone and I'm your Union representative. Let's get your paperwork done, shall we?"
Evelyn had short, dark brown hair, bright blue eyes and a soft face with rounded features. She consulted a parchment in her hand.
"Your application says you have prior training or experience?"
"Yes, I completed the Korthos Island program," Faith offered. She pulled out a scroll that Master Garant had given to her before she boarded the ship for Stormreach. Evelyn unrolled it and studied it carefully, her eyes flicking back and forth for several minutes.
"Yes, this is all in order. You completed the program very quickly I see. Good for you, dear."
She picked up small metal instrument, dabbed it on a sponge of ink on her desk and stamped the parchment in several places. Then she picked up a quill and signed the bottom.
"Here you go, present that to your trainer to get your experience updated and reactivate your Union rune. Now, you weren't interested in becoming an esteemed member of the Union?" Evelyn's blue eyes were wide, as if she couldn't believe such a thing.
"I, um, am a little short on money right now. I'll probably upgrade once I get some jobs completed."
"Oh, that's good, dear. Well, as a junior Union member you will have access to the foyer and the balcony at the Union Forum next door but not the Great Hall. You can listen if you would like, you just can't participate. Now will you need housing?"
"Alrighty then, let me see what's available."
She picked up a heavy tome from the front counter and brought it back to the desk.
"I need that, Evelyn," said the human administrator who was now reviewing paperwork with Is'kel.
"And so do I, George. I'm not keeping it all day, so keep your beard on."
She returned to the desk muttering about busybodies who think they are so all-fired important all the time not having the sense of a kobold as she flipped through the pages. Faith suppressed a laugh.
"It looks like I have a few things available right now. Now dear, Union housing is utilitarian, just so you know. No luxuries like running water or lights. You pretty much just get four walls and a cot to sleep on. We don't charge extra for the rats or bugs."
Evelyn giggled at her little joke. That made her laugh every time.
"So, I've got an empty double in the Upper Harbor, overlooking the Founders Fountain. It's fairly clean and above ground- it has a second floor entrance which requires some climbing. I've got one space in a fourplex here in the Market, back in the Tenements. It's a basement apartment. Current residents are a little rough; the last fourth in that flat hasn't returned in a few months. After two months absence, housing is freed up for other adventurers so that spot is available. And I've got one space left in a room down in the Jester's Haunt. You have to enter through the Rusty Nail tavern and it can get somewhat loud in the wee hours. What do you think?"
Faith didn't like the idea of the tavern room or the tenements, so she asked for the harbor room overlooking the fountain.
"Nice choice, dear. That's what I'd pick if I could jump high enough to get up to it."
She made a few marks in the tome then walked over to the man's desk and dropped the book with a loud thump.
"There you go, George. All yours," she said sweetly.
The man gave her an irritated look as she returned to her desk.
"Alrighty, we've got your paperwork and your housing done. Now it's time for the fun part! As an official Union member you get a powerful tool to help you navigate and communicate," Evelyn told Faith as she rummaged around in a crate behind her. She pulled out several small round metal boxes, each had a clasp dangling off of it.
"These are wayfinders. Do you know what a wayfinder does?"
Faith shook her head. Evelyn picked up a rosy metal one with designs chased on it and pushed a small button on the top. The lid popped open, much like pocket watches Faith had seen on the wealthier men in Breland. Evelyn leaned over the desk to show it to her.
"Now, don't touch it yet. Once you touch it, it's yours. This wayfinder can show you a map of where you are and where you've been. If you are linked with a group of adventurers, it can sometimes show you where they are and allow you to send messages to them. You can only have one and it's yours forever, however if you let your Union membership lapse, it will be pretty much worthless."
Faith looked at it and saw only a disc of black obsidian. "I don't see anything," she admitted.
"Oh, you won't until it binds to you, dear. Now, which one would you like? I decorate these myself," she proudly lined up five different wayfinders. The one in her hand was a simple one, made of a pinkish metal with swirled designs etched into the case. The next one was silver and studded all over with small green crystals, featuring one purple crystal in the center. A simple bronze one was painted with a portrait of a dragon. One of them seemed to be... furry. On closer inspection it was actually covered in a light tan hide. The last one she displayed was glowing slightly and bluish runes were painted on it.
"These are lovely," Faith complimented her but really wished for something unobtrusive and plain, like the one that was being offered to Is'kel at the other desk. She studied the options for a moment.
"May I have one of those?" Is'kel asked her representative. He looked disapproving. She walked over to get a better look at the wayfinders.
"No, Miss Qua'den, those are not Union-approved wayfinders. Please come back to this desk." Then to Evelyn he said, "Were you not reprimanded for altering official Union equipment last month?"
"No, I was not," Evelyn replied hotly. "I was told I could not charge extra for them. But if I want to give them freely, I am allowed. Hmph."
Is'kel was looking longingly at the green and purple studded wayfinder and Evelyn quickly put it into her hand.
"There you go, dear," she looked triumphant. George covered his face with his palm.
"Oh, thank you but I'll go take the one I'm assigned," Is'kel sadly placed the sparkly wayfinder back on the desk. "It is very beautiful."
She returned to her assigned desk and tried to pick up the simple bronze wayfinder. It moved away from her hand as if a magnetic force repelled it. Is'kel looked surprised.
"You must take that atrocity," George indicated the sparkly wayfinder on Evelyn's desk. "It is now bound to you. I hope you don't plan to be stealthy with that beacon at your waist."
Is'kel looked thrilled. "It's mine? Oh, thank you!"
She fumbled a little with the clasp and soon had it attached to her belt. It caught the light and sparkled like green fire at her waist.
"I'd like that one," Faith took the elegant rose-colored wayfinder from Evelyn. It twitched a little, as if a jolt of electricity had gone through it. Faith opened the lid and amazingly, she could see a map clearly on the disk.
Evelyn was tickled that her custom wayfinders were being appreciated. She beamed as she showed Faith how to use hers.
"To send someone a message, push this small button on the side, say the name of the person, then your message. Be sure to double check it before you send it as the wayfinder gets a tiny bit confused sometimes about what you said. The second button on this side will display any Union registered notes about your current mission. The last button displays the map again. Easy peasy!"
Evelyn tapped a note on her desk then Faith's wayfinder. A tiny yellow arrow appeared on the corner of the display.
"I've put the address of your housing into your wayfinder so that you can find it. Just follow that arrow but remember, don't use your wayfinder while walking! Especially in the upper harbor. More people go over the cliff that way...
Now the last thing to review with you is our relationship with Kundarak Bank. The bank offers a limited amount of storage for Union adventurers at no cost. You may place just about anything in your bank and retrieve it from any bank location. I recommend that you take advantage of this benefit- you adventurers are always on the move and can't always carry everything with you. Also, be sure to check out the Union store of magical items, over in the Citadel of the Twelve. Only Union members are allowed to shop there.
Welcome to the Adventurer's Union, dear, you are officially an adventurer of Xen'drik now. You must visit a trainer regularly to update your rune and remain in good standing. Good luck and may the Flame guide you!"
She propelled Faith to the waiting area with a hand firmly placed on Faith's lower back and called out, "Zughan!"