Chapter 7 - Employee Enrichment

Elric and Eft knelt on the floor. The older goblin shook a little, Elric reached a hand over and patted his shoulder. The cold stone sucked the heat from Elric and he briefly wondered if kneeling was even necessary. Glancing up at the massive double doors and the two imposing guards, he figured it was a conversation for another time.

The doors cracked open after only a minute of waiting. Elric helped Eft stand, thankfully they allowed the goblin to keep his cane this time. They were both here at the request of Ventus, but the clopping hooves of Francis greeted them. Behind the demon, Garly walked slowly through the door.

As Garly passed by Eft, he reached out a hand. Eft took it and they shook briefly with each leaning into the handshake. Garly whispered, “It’s been fun old friend. Good luck.” With those words Eft shrank a little and leaned on his cane more. Garly gave a simple nod to Elric and walked away from the two.

“You gonna be ok?” Elric said as he leaned down to help Eft walk.

“All my fault,” Eft whimpered a little as he struggled to walk forward.

Francis had turned away and waited inside the door for them reach it. Even the guards seemed to be looking away from them, more than usual. Ever since the attack, he now kept an emergency teleport prepared. Elric pondered if he could manage a teleport fast enough to spare Eft.

They followed Francis through the room of light, as they passed into the ball of light, they saw an old goblin sitting at a desk. The goblin looked up as they walked in.

“I apologize I’m not in dragon form. It makes paperwork difficult to fill out.” Ventus said. He scribbled down a few more items on a piece of paper. A pair of hovering pens mimicked his movements. With a wave of his hand a couple of chairs appeared on the opposite side of the desk. “Sit, there are some documents for you both to review.”

When Eft was ten feet away, he fell to his knees. Elric reached down to help him stand but he waved the mans hands away.

“Please lord, do not place blame on Garly. It was my fault. I recognized Marcanous. Somehow they tracked me down.” Eft said. Tears coming from his eyes, his nose threatening to unleash a stream of snot, held back by sniffing motions.

“Eft, loyal Eft.” Ventus said. The temperature in the room rose a little and shadows behind Ventus looked like they grew wings. Before he could continue, Eft interrupted.

“Please take my life, make me suffer, it is I who is at fault.”

“No.” Ventus said. The room went quiet but the temperature still rose. Elric started pooling power for a teleport. Ventus continued after a long pause, “It was my fault. Now please sit and I’ll explain.”

Elric and Francis helped Eft stand. After they helped the goblin into a chair, Elric took the other. Francis disappeared in a small cloud of ash.

“Eft, the gift I gave you, contained a bit of her soul. When I tracked down the group I saw their power was great enough to bring back even the dead.” Ventus paused and gathered up the papers he had been working on. Stacking them together he placed them on a corner of the desk. “I trapped a bit of her soul to prevent any resurrection. Instead of keeping it safe in a secured location, I out of weakness allowed you to take it. It was a momentary lapse in judgement.”

Eft slowly pulled a leather cord from around his neck. A worn piece of leather at the end dangled as he slowly gathered the cord, then placed it on the desk.

“I, I,” Eft struggled for a moment to talk. “It was my,”

“Don’t,” Ventus hissed and for a moment the goblin form shook and shadows lengthened behind him. “It was my choice, it was my lapse. Can’t change it now.”

“Why punish Garly?” Eft said.

For a moment Ventus didn’t blink. The silence in the room held everyone until a low deep growl started within the dragon. Elric’s instincts kicked in. He cast his teleport spell as he reach out and touched Eft. The destination, right outside of the Mortis Operandi complex.

The growl got louder as the dragon realized what Elric tried to do. Eft sat there listening to a sound that scared him the first time he heard it. Eft’s ears warmed up and almost turned a slight red.

“Don’t you laugh at me! I’ve known Garly for years, and he didn’t deserve to be punished.” Eft stood up with balled fists that trembled. He didn’t appear to notice that Elric had tried to cast a spell on them.

Elric stunned blinked his eyes and feeling sheepish. The teleport had failed, he realized he should have known Ventus would protect against that. Wouldn’t want someone teleporting away with some treasure.

“I apologize,” Ventus said after he stopped laughing. “I am not blaming Garly, only myself. Garly is retiring by his own choice. Even after I assured him there would be no more attacks.”

“Retiring,” Eft and Elric said at the same time.

“Yes, he has been wanting to take a break, try and visit his tribe.” Ventus stifled a laugh and huffed a little cloud of smoke that streamed from the goblins nose. “He even asked me to take another form so we could speak eye to eye, but I know my natural form gives people fear.”

“If you can manage all business in this form, why ever do business as a Dragon?” Elric said.

“Holding this form takes energy, so I only use it for important meetings with my best employees.” Ventus turned and looked at Eft. Eft was still processing a previous statement but he shivered when he noticed Ventus looking at him.

“So who’s the new floor manager?”

“Thats what I’m waiting to find out.” Ventus slid a piece of paper across the table to Eft.

“I don’t know…”

“If you want time to consider it, you can have till end of the day.” Ventus swirled his right index finger in the air. Francis was immediately next to the desk and bowing slightly. “Please take Eft to a location to review the contract I have presented to him.”

Eft still stunned didn’t offer any resistance to Francis helping him out of the chair and leading him out of the room. Once they were gone, Ventus looked at Elric and got his attention by tapping on the desk. Elric’s gaze snapped from where Eft and Francis had disappeared, back to his boss.

“Two things. First I wish to reward you for your actions yesterday.” Ventus said.

“Not really interested in coin, you know why I’m here.” Elric replied. He tapped a finger on the desk twice.

“While I appreciate what you did, I cannot give you that. Even one resurrection would be too costly for this, let alone three.”

“I’m not interested in memento’s.”

“After recent events I’ll not be giving any out anyways.”

“You don’t have to reward me, lets work together to finish my contract. Once that happens, I’ll be happy, and hopefully my service will do the same for you.”

“I’m going to give you some coin. I know you are not interested in it, but I recommend you hang onto it for when you leave my employ. It will help in rebuilding a life with your family.” Ventus lifted a little bag and pushed it across the desk.

Elric nodded and accepted the bag placing it within a pocket. As he stood up to leave, Ventus lifted a hand with two fingers held up.

“Second thing,” Ventus said. “I believe Marcanous got a good look at you. When you go out on service calls, talk to Sandra about a disguise. I don’t think they know where this facility is located and I’ve taken steps to ensure they can’t teleport back in. However it doesn’t mean they won’t find other ways to get in.”

“I understand.” Elric said then he turned to walk away. He stopped after ten feet to look back at Ventus. “Is Garly really retiring?”

“Yes, he will be missed.”

“When is he leaving?”

“Tomorrow night, I’ll fly him to his old village if it is still there.” Ventus said and turned his head back to paperwork that magically appeared on the desk.

Sensing he was dismissed, Elric stepped out of the room of light. Francis was there waiting for him. In Francis’s hand was a rolled of piece of paper that looked familiar. Eft was no around.

Francis held a hand in the direction of the doors and lead Elric towards them. As they approached the massive doors opened up and the guards stepped aside. Francis stopped before he went though the doors.

“In two days time at the fourth bell please meet back here for a conversation about expiration dates on trap items. The master was intrigued with the idea and how we could implement it.” Francis said.

Elric stopped for a moment, turned and looked at Francis.

“Why didn’t he ask just now?”

“He wanted to give you time to prepare a summary and implementation process.”

Elric nodded, turned back around and started walking towards his room. The doors slowly closed behind him. Right before they closed completely shut, Francis yelled, “He loves a good flow chart or graph!”

Confused Elric stopped and looked back but the doors were already closed. With a sigh he hurried up the tunnel, this time heading towards Garly’s office. Silently he prayed to all the gods that Garly or Eft knew what a ‘flow chart’ was.

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