She flips through the stack of papers in front of her.
“Lawrence...Lawrence. Ah, here we go.” She pulls out a sheet of paper from the middle of the stack. “Let’s see. You passed the physical, though you barely met the minimum requirements.”
She says as she peers at me over the sheet of paper. Her emerald eyes feel like coals on my skin. I look to the floor and run a hand through my hair — my fingers catching a loose curl or two in its pass through the thick auburn waves.
“And it seems you passed the written portion by the same, slim margin.” She says, as she peers over the paper once again. “There’s only a few more steps left and we’ll send you on your way.” She puts the results of my exam down and pulls out another sheet of paper.
“A bit young, isn’t it? Oh well.” She scrawls the answer down on the paper in front of her, “Former occupation?”
“Place of birth?”
“Shepherd’s Stead.” I answer.
“Never heard of it.”
“It was kind of small,” I admit. “And kind of far away. Out by the Drachenweald.”
“Yeah, it was taken, though. About ten years back.”
“Ah, sorry to hear.” She makes a note about that on the sheet, “Where do you live now?”
“Alfden.” I answer.
She notes that as well. Her feathered pen dancing circles on the white sheet of paper in front of her.
“Do you have family?” She asks.
“Yes.” I answer.
It takes me a second or more to realize that she wasn’t looking for a simple affirmation, as she sat still with her pen frozen above the page and looking at me expectantly with her bright green eyes.
“Ah, sorry.” A wave of heat rushed to my cheeks. “Both my mother and father are still around.”
“Adam Lawrence, and Lily Lawrence.”
She jots those down.
“Yes; two older brothers and one sister. My oldest brother’s name is Cain, and the middle of us is Gawain.” Her pen flourishes once again, “My sister’s name is Morgan.”
“All with the same surname?”
She jots that down.
“Any of them associated with the Guild?”
“My sister. She joined about ten years back, though we haven’t heard anything from her for a while.”
She nods. After her pen stops she hands it to me and puts the questionnaire down. She then pulls out three packets of papers from the bottom left drawer of her desk.
“Next, we’ll have you sign a few things.” She says.
She places the packets of papers on the desk in front of her, and tucks a strand of her long, strawberry colored hair behind her ear.
“Please, read through this.”
She hands me the packet on top. The words were written in a small, flowing font. It was beautiful in a sense; the way the words melded and danced together on the page.
“The first.” she begins before I even have a chance to read through the first paragraph, “States that by signing on with us you are required to perform certain things, such as taking arms in defense of any town that you happen to be near and happen to be subject to an attack by monsters. Is that okay with you?”
“Of course.” I answer without hesitation.
She reaches over the desk with her thin, pale arms and points to a dash at the bottom of the page.
“Then please initial here.”
A.L. I sign, and turn over the page.
“This page states that as a new member of the guild you are required to bring in at least five wood class monster class cores every other week starting from the day of your induction. That’s today. So your first delivery will need to be before June 14th, understand? If so please initial here.”
She points to another dash on the paper.
“The other paper is your copy.” She says, as he pulls the signed contract across the table.
I set aside that for the moment and begin reading through the next paper.
“This one states that by signing on with the Guild you receive a variety of benefits that help you do your work. These include, and are not limited to, the ability to freely travel between any of the continents where the guild has a presence; Albion, Eden, Hyperborea, Lemuria, and Mu.”
She lists the continents off one by one, including a couple that I had never heard of before, and before I could ask a question she continued on.
“As well as the ability to sell monster cores to any Guild building, as well as take up lodging at any branch, should there be lodging available, do you understand?”
I have no interest in going to any of the other continents at the moment, it was nice, however, to know that I was able to. Perhaps my sister had gone to one of them, I think briefly. Perhaps she wasn’t gone forever. I find the dash on my own and initial it.
“Here’s your copy.” The receptionist said as she slid the paper beneath it over the copy of the other one. “And then finally.” She begins before I even have a chance to read the first sentence, “this one states that you acknowledge that you are joining the guild out of your own freewill.” She points to the first chunk of text, “If so initial here.”
I do so.
“And, after that there’s the final section.” She points to the next chunk of text. “This one states that by signing on with the Guild you waive the rights of your family to seek compensation in case of your injury or death. Do you agree.”
I scribble my initials down, and she takes her copy and leaves me with mine.
“That’s all for paper work, all that’s left is to give you a couple of things.”
She picks up the signed paper and taps their edges against the desktop a couple of times to make sure they’re lined up, before she slides open the top left drawer and places them inside. The desk jolts as she slams it shut and slides open to the top right and pulls out three objects.
The first was a piece of cut wood, about the length of my middle finger and the width of half of my palm. One edge of it was pointed, and the other was squared. On the right corner of the squared side, a jute string was pulled through a round, punched hole. The second item was a seemingly normal leather journal. I had seen the occasional Guild member that passed through Shepherd’s Stead to explore the nearby Drachenweald looking through its pages.
The last item, however, really caught my attention. It was a dagger. The guard at its hilt was formed in the shape of a tiny gilded dragon’s skull, with its mouth open in a perpetual roar Pointed teeth snarling. The silvery, single edged blade burst through its open maw as if it had been stabbed through the back of its head. It shimmered in the light that poured through the southwards facing windows behind her desk. My own dagger — an ugly thing beaten into the rough shape of a blade from a discarded horseshoe I had pulled from the soil and begged the smithy of Alfden to form into a weapon, pulled at my belt. My hand ran over its rough hilt sticking out from the hide sheathe beneath my cloak. The receptionist places all three of these items on the desk in front of us. She picks up the dagger with her left hand and extends her right.
“Let me see your hand.” She says.
I put my hand in her’s as if I were about to give her a handshake. She rolls her eyes and flips my wrist over so that my palm is facing upwards. She slides the blade across my palm. There was no pain. Instead I feel a cold line form on my palm between my thumb and pinkie finger, and then a welling warmth pushing through the cold. She plucked up the wooden plate and pressed it against my palm. The dark colored wood drank deeply of my blood. After a second or so she pulled it off and placed it face up on the desk top. She muttered some incantation in a language I didn’t quite understand.
Black strands of smoke curl up from the wood, as deep divot words began to form on its surface.
NAME: Abel Lawrence
“This is your Identification Tag.” She says, “It says who you are, and where you come from. It allows you to travel freely on any Guild ship, and allows you to use the services outlined in the second contract. And if you show it to some villagers, some might even help you out. If you lose it, it’ll cost 4 silver to replace. The same as your registration fee.”
I nod, and as she speaks she reaches for the journal laying on the desk as well. She opens it up to the back of the front cover. I keep my hand held open. She presses it into my palm much like the tag before it. It drinks whatever blood was still wetting my palm before the slender cut seals itself.
The blood staining the leather begins to form into letters, and then words and numbers as she whispers a different incantation over it.
CONTRIBUTION POINTS: 0
NOVICE MANA MANIPULATION 3
NOVICE HERBLORE 1
APPRENTICE ANIMAL HANDLING 2
APPRENTICE SURVIVALIST 1
“You already know how to manipulate mana?” She asks, looking up from the journal, “Did someone teach you?”
“My grandfather. When I was younger.”
“Oh? Was he a member of the Guild as well.”
“What was his name?”
“Arthur Lawrence.” I answer. “He was a great man. He died trying to hold off the Takeover of Shepherd’s Stead.”
“Arthur Lawrence?” She drums her manicured fingers against the wooden desk top, “That name sounds familiar.” She shrugs “Regardless, it’ll be a helpful skill to have.” She closes the journal, “Allows you to learn all kinds of things, if you put your mind to it.”
She slides both the tag and the journal across the table.
“This journal is perhaps your most important item.” She says, “Aside from it telling you your information like that, it also acts as a way for us at the guild to send requests. If a request comes in that we think might be a good fit for you, it’ll be sent to your journal. Don’t lose it.” She leans back in her chair. “There’s a 15 plat charge for a replacement. Whenever you get a request the journal’ll get your attention.”
My journal seemed pretty thin, as I start thumbing through the empty pages and counting them as she spoke. I counted ten at first. Then on a second count, I got nine. On a third, eleven. And on one last one I got a total of fifteen pages. I look up from it and towards her; confusion contorting my face. The receptionist shoots me a coy smile.
“Are you worried about running out of pages? Don’t. You’ll always have enough.” She states with confidence, “Don’t ask me how it works, I don’t know either.”
I flip through the pages nonetheless.
“Before we finish up here.” She says as she wipes the small red sliver from the blade on a cloth that she had pulled from the desk, “There’s something that you ought to know.”
“What’s that?” I ask.
I stash the tag in my pocket, and pull up my satchel from the ground and put the journal in it.
“Well, it’s not something official, but it’s easy for new members to get disheartened pretty quickly.”
“What do you mean?”
“With your skill set, you’ll probably be asked to do some pretty mundane things.” She said, “And for many new Guildsmen this kills the motivation to do much, and they usually end up dropping out. So I thought I’d warn you, and tell you something.”
“That everything you do, no matter how small, mundane or worthless it might seem at the time,” She said, straitening herself in her seat, “Whether it be delivering a letter or gathering grass for a farmer’s animal, or something equally as droll, everything you do is to help with the Reclaimer’s Guilds’ ultimate goal; pushing back the monster threat, and reclaiming our lost lands.”
She rolls her back against the arch of the chair. I hear a few pops as she repositions herself and continues.
“That said, if you do want more exciting work, get more skills.”
“How would I go about getting more skills?”
“Have someone train you. Do things for yourself until you figure it out. Whatever you learn will appear on the front page on that journal and in our records, so we know what requests to give you whenever they come in; well, anyways that’s all you need to know.”
The receptionist pushes herself off of her chair and stands, and I do the same. She extends her hand once again, and I place mine face up so that my palm was facing upwards. She rolls her eyes and turns my wrist over so that our hands cupped together.
“You do know what a handshake is, don’t you?” She says.
Laughter slightly parts her lips and lights up her eyes.
“Of course I do.”
I grasp her hand and we shake.
“Abel Lawrence, welcome to the Reclaimer’s Guild.”
Atoria is known as the Doomed Continent in the world of Avalon. Most of it's surface is overrun by monstrous creatures who harbor a deep hatred for human kind, leaving an 150 mile stretch of land the only habitable place for people. Pushed to the point of extinction on the continent, the haggard humanity creates the Reclaimer's Guild. This is the story of the people of Atoria. Those that are fighting to reclaim their lost heritage, and those that are trying to survive.