Chapter 3 - New Hire Orientation

Thermosa Elric Jorgerson Nauften the third awoke on a bed. Before sitting up or opening his eyes, he extended his senses. There was a strong magical aura above him and one below. Faintly like background noise, there was a weaker magic aura all around him. Sensing no magic users nearby, he opened his eyes and sat up.

The small room he was in wasn’t very big. The lack of a door and bars on the window was a good sign. He was wearing his cloths and still had his dagger. In a corner he saw his backpack. The bed was only a couple of feet off the ground and set in the middle of the room. As he turned around, he saw an old goblin sitting on a bench behind him.

“Oh a goblin, figures,” Thermosa Elric Jorgerson Nauften the third said.

“Oh, a racist human. how quaint,” the old goblin replied in a mocking version of Thermosa’s voice. They both looked at each other in silence for a minute.

Thermosa or Elric as he preferred to be called closed his eyes and sighed. Slowly he pulled his dagger from it’s sheath and laid it across his hands, palms up. Slowly he put his hands and the dagger within reach of the Goblin.

“I apologize for my rude comment. I allowed my doubts about taking this job to cloud my sense. Please take my weapon and strike me so I may suffer equally for the pain I caused.” Elric said with his eyes closed. He hoped the goblin wouldn’t stab him, but his flippant comment deserved nothing less.

“How about we start over?” The old goblin suggested.

“My name is Thermosa Elric Jorgerson Nauften the third and I’m truly pleased to meet someone with better manners than I.” Elric said. The old goblin smiled a little at this statement.

“Ah, Thermosa Elric,” the old goblin started to say.

“Elric, otherwise we will be here all day.” Elric interrupted.

“Very well, my name is Eft.” Eft continued, “Eft NoToes, but everyone calls me Eft. I’m here to facilitate your integration with day to day duties.”

Eft stood up from the stool he had been sitting on. With a flick of his wrist, a ring on his right hand glowed and the stool turned into a cane. The old goblin did not acknowledge the widening of Elric’s eyes at this transformation. Simply, Eft hobbled to the doorway and stepped through.

“We’ll talk on the way, I’m not as fast as I used to be.” Eft said once he was through the door.

Elric almost ran to his backpack and quickly opened it up. His spell book, couple of magical bags, another dagger, and 4 wands gave him some comfort. He almost giggled with glee but a cough from outside the room interrupted his celebration.

“… the town is a few hours ride away. The stable has horses you can check out if you want to visit.” Eft said. His slow pace gave him plenty of time to review rules and policy with new hires.

“Wait we can go to town?” Elric said.

“Yes, we are not captives,” Eft replied then thought a moment, “well most of us are not captives. There are a few demons and creatures who would terrorize the countryside for fun if we allowed it.”

“Does he hunt people down then?”

“No. Those that are here of their free will, choose to be here.”

“What if I changed my mind and just left.”

“If you seek to terminate your employment, you can. You just won’t get paid.”

“I thought we were working for a dragon. Also wasn’t a compelling spell cast on me?”

Eft stopped and looked up at Elric’s eyes.

“The compulsion spell was to ensure you don’t share the secrets of our products. Nor the true location of the workshop. Ventus, our boss, found out decades ago that slave labor only got so far. He has profited much more through voluntary and paid labor. People who like their job tend to excel.”

“Voluntary? People willingly work for free.”

“Yes,” Eft sighed as he always did when new hires got to this part. “Myself and a many others work for free. We do get a small stipend but none of us ever pull from it. The coin sits in a vault waiting for the day I decide to retire.”

“Why,” Elric started to say but Eft interrupted him.

“We have generous quarters, the meals are good, the work is fun, and all our needs are met.” Eft said. “Now, recently we introduced a new warranty plan for our products.” He turned and started hobbling back along the hallway. Even though he didn’t see Elric, he could feel the new mage’s eyes roll.

The hallway joined with a main hallway. This was fifteen feet wide and as high. Elric had to stop his hand from going to his dagger as he saw all kinds of creatures walk down the hallway. Lizard men, Goblins, Kobolds, even a minotaur. His jaw dropped open when he saw the most beautiful women ever standing looking at him and Eft. Her full lips were slightly parted and her hips swayed as she stepped forward.

“Well hello stranger,” the woman said in a deep velvety voice.

Elric’s clothing felt a little tight and he could feel sweat build up on his forehead. The thumping of his heart threatened to drown out all other sound.

“Elric, this is Sandra,” Eft said as he tapped his cane on the floor a few times. The third tap, he hit Elric’s foot with it. “She is our henchman resource specialist.” Sandra coughed a little before Eft corrected himself, “henchperson resource specialist.”

“Elric, you’ll get used to the aura in time. Do note I’m in a committed relationship and anything you infer is purely from the innate aura my species extrudes.” Sandra said. She pulled her cloak around her to cover up any possible skin that was exposed.

Eft produced some nose plugs and without waiting for comment from Elric, he stuffed them into Elric’s nostrils. Elric, caught by surprised didn’t struggle until after the objects were wedged in. His hand grasped his dagger as he realized Eft was still in the hallway with him.

Eft and Sandra took a step back. Each with their hands up in a non-threatening gesture. Elric stood there with rage visibly filling him up, his right hand started glowing blue. Almost as if a switch was turned Elric blinked a few times and he relaxed. The glow disappearing from his hand.

“I’m sorry, I’ve never encountered one of your kind before.” Elric said with a nasally voice. He  bowed his head in Sandra’s direction. He went to pull out his knife but Eft placed a hand on his shoulder.

“It happens with almost every new hire. We have to test your resistance to such things. Some of the products use a similar effect.” Sandra said as she forced a smile.

“You could have warned me?” Elric said. Mentally he ran through the possible scenario’s and all of them ended with him dead if he tried to do anything. Defeated his pragmatic side took over. “Do they all require scent or will I need a blindfold as well?”

“The product manifest will alert you to such dangers.” Eft said.

Several seconds of silence passed as they stood there awkwardly. Occasionally a worker would rush on by through the main hallway. A seven foot tall cloven hoofed demon strolled by, Elric couldn’t help but turn his head.

“Was testing my response the sole reason for Sandra’s introduction?” Elric asked as his head turned and followed the demon out of sight.

“No. I need you to sign something. Also I wanted to let you know that I’m here to help facilitate your integration into the company.” Sandra said then pulled out a scroll tube from a side pouch. She pulled the paper out of the tube. She handed the empty tube to Eft so she could unfurl the scroll and review it.

Eft removed the bottom cap on the tube. Once the cap was removed the tube unrolled into a two foot by two foot square metal sheet. Placing the bottom cap in the center he turned the cap clockwise. The sheet went rigid. Eft removed his hands and the sheet hovered in the air.

With flourish Sandra produced a pen and placed it on the makeshift table. She also placed the scroll on it and as soon as the paper touched the metal it lay flat. Elric reached for the pen.

“Please review the document and note the pen uses your blood when you sign.” Sandra said.

“And this is,” Elric said looking over the document.

“Simple policy regarding death, dismemberment, irreversible curse, and maybe uncontrolled polymorph.” Sandra recited from memory. “Our business is creating items that do terrible things, up to and including death. It is a dangerous workplace.”

“What about items that are remediable?” Elric said as he carefully read each line.

“Section 3.1 regarding recompense.”

“M.O will only contribute a maximum of 500 gold in purchasing applicable remedies. Only 500 gold? I’d be lucky if that covered an antidote.”

“You are more than welcome to contribute into a Health Saving account.”

“I’m not getting paid by gold,”

“Ah, discussions of pay in public is frowned upon. In the future I recommend negotiating monetary compensation as part of your agreement. How long did you contract for?”

“Five years,” Elric deflated, shrinking almost a whole inch. Sandra and Eft’s eyes widened in surprise but both quickly recovered before Elric noticed.

“At a future date, please meet with me to talk about our employee assistance program. Also we can set you up with an account to deposit outside earnings into for the events covered on the paper.”

Elric lifted the pen and held it like it was going to bite him. Bite him it did as soon as he started writing his name at the bottom of the paper. A thin red line that quickly dried into a black line flowed from the pen. When he was done he handed the pen to Sandra and sucked on a finger.

“Thank you and welcome to Mortus Opperundi. Remember our henchperson resource staff is here to facilitate any needs that help you stay productive.” Sandra paused for a moment then added, “Within legal and policy limits, if you need a copy of our code of conduct I can make sure one is provided.”

Sandra turned to walk away but stopped and quickly spun around.

“I almost forgot,” she reached into a pocket and pulled out a small stone. Soundlessly she held it out to Elric.

“What is this?” Elric tried to ask but no sound came out of his mouth. Eft looked like he was trying to say something as well but it was silent. Elric took the stone and put it into one of his magical pouches.

“We find sound can travel in the dorms. These help ensure everyone gets a good nights sleep.” Sandra said and then walked away.

Once Sandra was too far away to hear, Eft finally spoke. “Yeah but it doesn’t help with the smells.”

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