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[COLOR="White"]Caleb shifted stoically under the weight of his pack, as he stood upon the deck of the "Storm Queen". The mild autumn seasonal breeze felt cool upon his cheek, and his copper coloured hair blew slightly in the wind. It had been a pleasant crossing from Nujhelm, and at last, his destination was within eyeshot.

He had left Nujhelm (where he had spent the entirety of his youth) for the first time little more than three days ago, and was excited at the prospect of finding work in Minoc. He had always dreamt of being a blacksmith, and a Grandmaster at that. Metals were seldom found where Caleb had been raised, as much of the construction was fashioned of marble and sandstone, to keep the almost perpetual heat at bay. Expensive silks were also the norm in Nujhelm, as the weather was far too warm for aught else, and mail clad visitors were a rarity.

Caleb absently patted at a small pocket in his doublet, and was pleased to hear the rustle of his letter of introduction. Caleb's wealthy sire had arranged at no small cost to himself a position for Caleb within the Miners Guild of Minoc. Caleb now had Guild approval to become a prospector within the mountains that surrounded the rather rustic city to the north of Britannia. The town of Minoc was booming with industry, and much wealth could be had for those who dedicated themselves to hard work and trade.

Coming out of his reverie, Caleb shielded his jade green eyes with a hand. Upon the shores of the bay of lost hope, the frontier town of Minoc could be seen in the distance. Dockworkers could be observed loading crates of cargo upon the many ships at anchor, and colourful pennants and banners could be seen flapping in the breeze from where Caleb stood upon the deck of the ship. The shouts of a foreman could be heard from across the water, exhorting the common labourers to more heroic efforts.

At the bow of the ship, dolphins could be seen at play, and the glorious morning sun shone high in the cloudless skies, a fortuitous omen, Caleb mused.

As the ship sped toward the docks, a small rowboat came up alongside the larger ship, and the harbourmaster took the helm to steer the Storm Queen safely into port. Caleb noticed that the captain had seemed more than a little disgruntled, but had accepted the custom with good grace. Finally, as Caleb's excitement mounted, the captain ordered lines thrown and secured to the docks. Experienced dockmen caught the lines, and tied the ship to the cleets with practised ease, and within minutes, the ship slowed to a halt.

At last the plank was lowered, and Caleb waited for the passengers of rank to disembark. Soon enough, it was his turn, and he once again felt hard cobblestones beneath the soles of his fine leather boots. He strolled down the main path into the town proper, and he set out to find a hot meal, (a welcome change from the chowder, and salted pork, which was the main fare upon the ship) a hot bath, and a place to rest. And then the day after, rested and refreshed, he would present himself to the Guildmaster of Minoc, which, for the forseeable future, would be his surrogate home.

~ To be continued. ~
[COLOR="White"]Caleb halted for a moment outside the entrance to the Miners Guild headquarters. He had concerns that he did not appear respectable enough to present himself to the Guildmaster. He wore his finest leather boots, of course, and a clean doublet and trousers. He wondered for a moment if he should have appropriated a hat, perhaps with a feather, as they seemed to be the recent trend. It probably wouldn't matter, he reasoned. He patted his hair into place, and pushed open the door to the headquarters. With a deep breath of air, he stepped inside.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Time passes. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Caleb sat upon a fine chair in the waiting room, his backpack at his feet beside him. A rather matronly woman occupied the desk at the centre of the room, scribbing on a neatly organised parchments, but otherwise silent. Occasionally she would smile patiently at Caleb, but no words had been exchanged. Almost an hour had passed, and still no word from the Guildmaster. Calebs trepidation mounted. "The Guildmaster certainly seems to be in no hurry to see me," thought Caleb.

At last, as Caleb had started to nod off in the chair, a door opened at the back of the room. Out stepped the Guildmaster, who conferred quietly with the woman at the desk for a moment, then crossed the room to stand before Caleb. He stuck out a plump hand, and Caleb stood quickly to return the shake. [/COLOR]

"Ah, master Caleb. I apologise most sincerely for the delay. I am Gideon, the Guildmaster of the Mining Cooperative here in Minoc. Follow me, please, and we shall have this business over shortly. Mary, would you bring some coffee for the young master?" [COLOR="White"]asked Gideon, as he motioned for Caleb to follow. Caleb quickly shouldered his backpack, and followed the heavyset man through the door into his office.

Caleb looked around. The office was neatly kept, and potted plants decorated the room, one in the corner, and one on the desk. There were bottles of ink and parchment, and a candle lit the area. There were other candelabras situated in the corners of the room, all polished brass, rather than expensive gold, and Caleb was impressed. A curtain was thrown back to admit sunlight into the room. [/COLOR]

"Please, have a seat, Caleb. Again, I apologise for keeping you waiting." The Guildmaster motioned for Caleb to sit in a chair at the desk, and crossed the room to stand before a lit fireplace, his hands clasped behind his back. "Now then, I trust your journey to Minoc was a pleasant one, master Caleb?" asked the Guildmaster pleasantly. Mary entered inobtrusively and placed a hot mug of coffee upon the desk for Caleb, who nodded his thanks, as she quietly withdrew.

"Indeed, sire. The winds were most favourable." responded Caleb, who sipped tentatively at the hot coffee, still feeling rather self-conscious. The Guildmaster smiled warmly at Caleb. "Good, good. I presume you have a letter of introduction?"

Caleb nodded and produced the letter of introduction that he had kept in the pocket of his doublet, and placed it gently upon the desk, with the red ribbon still intact. "I'm certain that all will be in order, so I shall forgo wasting precious time, Caleb. Let us get to the meat of the matter. Your father has purchased the right for you to prospect Mount Kendall and the Eastern Mines, including the surrounding foothills and streams, with a one tenth of profit to be surrendered to the Mining Cooperative monthly. The Mining Cooperative also has exclusive rights to purchase any metal you should happen to acquire before any other individual or organisation, should there be demand. Do you understand these conditions, master Caleb?"

Caleb stated that yes, he did understand the terms to his contract with the Mining Cooperative, and the Guildmaster seemed most pleased. "Splendid," continued the Guildmaster. "Now that you have been inducted into the Guild, The Mining Cooperative is able provide you with the tools you may require to prospect Mount Kendall at a discounted price. Mary, my secretary, will see that you are equipped on your way out. Welcome to the Mining Cooperative, master Caleb." [COLOR="White"]intoned the Guildmaster.

Caleb stood, sensing that the interview was over. He thanked the Guildmaster enthusiastically for both his time, and the excellent coffee, and parted with a vigorous handshake. As he stepped outside to purchase his tools, Caleb whistled a happy tune. He was now free to make his fortune.

~To be continued.~