Gulnus Bonegem stood at the head of the table in the makeshift conference room. The building that had served as the headquarters for the lifters guild since before he was borne had never had a need for this type of meeting room in the past. They had private offices were officials could meet with lifters or clients in a more intimate setting. And the huge warehouse where goods could be stored as well as massive meetings where the entire guild could attend. But this seven man committee seemed cramped in the largest of offices.
“Well” he asked again? “Does anyone want to voice their opinion on this matter for the record”? The old Dwarf eyed each member of the Board of Decisions in turn.
“I will” Zaiho stood. “This guild is one of the city’s most valuable resources. We cannot stand by idly and watch them eliminate it. It provides us a certain level of security, without it what guarantees do we have? I say we threaten to walk if they consider dismantling the lifeblood of our city…The lifters guild. Thank you”!
With a wave to the other members Zaiho took his seat. He was tall for a human almost twice as tall as Gulnus. Perhaps that is why he didn’t care for him? No, actuality it was the way he talked at people always preaching like he was running for office. Not even a full year in the guild Gulnus was shocked when he heard he was nominated for this position, even more so when he actually got the votes. Bribes & favors move the lifts up & down he thought.
“Well while I appreciate the sentiment son do you have the slightest idea what is going on out there? The wizards have removed anyone not in line with their way of thinking. If we were to walk, don’t you think they could use their magic to run the lifts? Not to mention that while I love all our lads most of them don’t have sense to get out of the rain. Where would they go to earn a decent wage in this wizard run city? Use your head boy; it’s not always about your agenda.
Zaiho didn’t raise his eyes the entire time Gulnus spoke. While he chose his words to try & inspire his committee members the harsh reality of Gulnus’ rebuttal hit him like a ton of bricks.
Gulnus continued “we will continue to operating as we have been the last few months, until we get word from our new government or lead lifter Versel returns to address the issue. I have been informed by the wizards that he will determine the structure of our organization”.
Gulnus waited for a reactions while there were several looks of concern & and supplies no one spoke. “Very well then this matter is tabled for now. Mathias would you like to give us a service & financial report”?
Mathias had started in the lifters guild as a young man over 40 winters ago. However an unfortunate accident had cost him the use of his left arm. He did however manage to continue to serve the guild as office clerk. Handling lifter scheduling & operating expenses were among his areas of expertise.
“Yes, the last few months have been tough on us. With restricted dock access there has been less cargo using the lifts. That means our men have had less work & less revenue coming in. However thanks to the red brothers our lifts have never been in better condition. That means our outgoing maintenance expenses have also been at a minimum. This last month our workload has increased; we are now operating at 50% of our original demand & climbing. However our outgoing expenses are only 30% of what we needed in the past to operate at this level.
There was a murmur at the table as the members looked to each other for the explanation. Gulnus spoke up “besides saving on maintenance, how have we cut operating cost”?
“Well to put it bluntly sir we didn’t, it was primarily the work of dock master Vormite. When the red brothers constructed the docks it was a mad dash to bring in every ship as fast as possible. We brought up every load as soon as we could & everyone was happy to have things moving again. When dock access became restricted Vormite took the time to create a more organized cargo & inventory structure. His organization allowed them to unload ships with fewer men then he needed in the past. I gave him the lift capacity for all fourteen of our lifts. He makes sure when the cargo is unloaded that it is presorted and labeled for each specific lift. With the weight of each cargo load maximized for its assigned lift we have less wasted trips. He also communicates with me ahead of time when he knows a specifically large or heavy load is coming. That allows me to schedule extra lifters in advance which speeds up freight as well. I know we always strive to operate at full capacity but this lull allowed for a total overhaul in operations. And I believe Vormite has proven you can operate the docks as a successful business in spite of having no guild status. I believe we should”.
All at once the conference room was flooded with shouts & cheers from outside. Gulnus shouted “table that thought” as he & the rest of the board members headed outside to see what was going on. He could hear the lifters making bets as he made his way through the crowd of onlookers. Breaking through the wall of people he could finally see the cause of the commotion. Lead lifter Versel had returned & was apparently in the middle of some kind of a wager. He was pulling a lift typically reserved for 8 men. He had a break operator to ensure the cargo remained safe should he fail but he was the lone lifter on a load registered at over a ton. At first glance he seemed to be struggling, the lifters involved in the competition trying there hardest to disrupt his rhythm. But Gulnus had worked alongside Versel for over a month. His struggles were fake, probably a ploy to set up a double or nothing scenario in the future.
Looking about the crowed Gulnus noticed a couple more of the red brothers alertly watching the onlookers as they pretended to be interested in the events at hand. He also spotted something else the wizards from the tower seemed anxious. Cautiously watching the reds until one of them looked there way. They were certainly trying to avoid line of sight from them whenever possible. Gulnus disliked the wizards while he was not from a noble dwarven house he knew what was happening between the two groups. He was at the Broken Barrel the night Versel defeated Giblet. While not a true fan of dragons Gulnus had to admit he & his brothers had always kept their word. That along with everything they have done to defend & improve city of Stormhaven could hardly be ignored. If the wizards are afraid of them, well that’s one more reason to follow them.