You walk across the square to City Hall, where, thankfully, the line of people waiting to get in seems to have dissipated. His long stride bringing him to the head of the group, Gendry pushes open the door to the Council Clerks office before anyone can point out that the sign on it reads ‘Out to Lunch’. The inside of the office is dark, quiet, and relatively cramped. The room is dominated by a large oak desk, piled high with papers and ledgers, with two chairs behind it, and barely enough room for the five of you to squeeze in and stand in front of it. A smaller door exits on the north side of the room. The larger of the two chairs behind the desk is empty, the smaller one is occupied…
…by Faelana, who is sorting through a stack of papers and writing comments in a large notebook open before her.
Shuddup exits the training hall after redesigning the machine in his head half a dozen times to catch sight of the party entering the clerks office. He takes off after them as quickly as his little legs will carry him.
Gendry does a double-take on seeing Faelana at the clerk’s desk, and turns to Lyra. “Umm…you didn’t tell me your mom was the clerk?” He backs out the door, “How ’bout we leave the negotiating to you then.”
He steps outside, and seeing Shaddup running up, pulls a handful of slightly-linty sausages out of his pouch. “Here, I saved you some lunch…”
Shuddup pauses long enough to notice his gently rumbling stomach and accepts the sausages grinning sheepishly, “Thank you. Did you say your father turned you into a minotaur? How did that happen? My cousin Winifred, Gond rest her soul, once made a machine to transfer consciousnesses between two bodies using a crystal array she picked up at s great price from a wandering psion. She was really close to perfecting it before she stopped talking to everyone and started hoarding nuts…”
The door chimes as the door closes behind the minotaur. Half a minute later, the door chimes as Lyra steps outside. “Mother said the office is closed, and that we should form an orderly queue outside until lunch is over in ten minutes. Mother doesn’t really … negotiate.” Lyra sighs. “She might be a little more helpful with the paperwork if we tell her we’re fetching spell components for Professor Aumry, though. The only thing she’s more obsessed about than raising me into a proper lady — is magic.”
Amara sniffs, playing with her necklace.
“Great…I guess we’ll just act like a bunch of Brits then.” Gendry queues up by the door, and does his best to look intimidating (not hard for a seven foot tall minotaur), lest anyone try to cut in line ahead of them.
Donovan waits in line behind Gendry, leaning impatiently against the wall, for what seems like forever. Finally, figuring that ten minutes have passed—not that he has any way to tell time—he steps around the minotaur and opens the door. “Excuse me, Madame Beragaion, is your lunch quite finished? I’m delighted to see you here—I didn’t know the Council was hiring a new Clerk—but I’m afraid your daughter, myself, and our companions are in rather urgent need of papers so that we might escort the child Amara to her nuncle’s tower outside the city gates.” He walks in and lays his own proof of citizenship on the desk.
Faelana completes what she was writing and looks up. “First, I need a completed set of customs forms for each of you.” She produces a stack of papers for each person. “For papers to go through the gates, you and your companions will need a valid adventuring charter. It requires proof of citizenship, a completed and notarized citizenship application, or a completed and notarized noncitizen adventurer addendum for all parties, as well as all associated fees to be paid in full. Those applying for citizenship must also register for the militia, or complete an exemption form.” She adds more papers to the stack. “Each form must be completed in triplicate. Falsifying information on any official document is punishable by fines of up to ten thousand gold pieces.”
Amara wanders off towards a nearby alley, looking intently at something.
“Wait. Militia exemption form? I thought the adventuring charter automatically exempted one from militia duty?” Donovan shakes his head, takes the stack of papers, and looks around at the others. “Do you know someone with access to a copy or dictation spell?”
Lyra takes one of the stacks of forms and whispers to Donovan “Mother probably does. She’s been doing magical research for .. seventy years? At least 50. It’s why she left Evereska. I have NO idea why she’s behind the clerk’s desk, though.”
Lyra walks over to the desk and grabs a pencil from a cup near the front of the desk. “Mother, what did you mean by fees? Isn’t the council encouraging settlers and adventurers?”
Faelana straightened a stack of papers. “They are. However, the council wishes to retain certain … expectations … after the initial growth period. As such, waivers are available for import tariffs of livestock, seeds, and certain categories of trade goods, contingent on a valid application of citizenship. There is also a waiver available for the citizenship application fee itself.”
Amara hums to herself.
Faelana hands another stack of papers to Lyra, with the personal property import tariff waiver, the citizenship application fee waiver, and the adventuring charter fee waiver. As an afterthought she adds an arms permit and magic permit. She creates another stack of papers and pushes it towards Donovan.
“Yes, a valid adventuring charter is one of the ways to qualify for militia duty exemption. Paragraph twelve, subsections six through ten detail the conditions for maintaining the validity of the charter after issuance.”
Donovan sits on the edge of the desk and begins filling out papers. “Yeah, I know, as long as the charter is in effect, no other employment within the city of Phlan is allowed. And where is the usual clerk?” Donovan looks up. “Its fine if you feel that you’re supposed to mess with your daughter, but I’ve been advtersisting the rules around here for over a year. Both the adventuring charter and the citizenship application are supposed to grant immediate exemption from all taxes. Likewise…” he says, looking at the application, “the magic and arms permits are already included in the application, we don’t need separate ones…”
He looks over at Lyra, then back to Faelana. “You’re just messing with your daughter, aren’t you? If you have some objection to her registering as an adventurer, you’re better off voicing them plainly than trying to bog her down with fake paperwork…”
Gendry walks inside and crawls his clumsy “G” on a paper that Donovan hands him, then walks out into the alley wondering where Amara went to…
Faelana keeps her expression carefully neutral. “The Clerk should be returning shortly, but in the meantime, I am the Under-clerk on duty. As for my daughter, given her age, my objections, if any, matter little.” She finishes straightening the papers displaced by Donovan. “Call it a test of determination.”
Whiskers reappears, curling around Amara’s leg, her fur standing on end and delivering small static shocks with every rub against the little girl.
Donovan finishes filling out the applications for citizenship and asylum for Gendry, citizenship application for Shaddup, and the adventuring charter registration for the five of them. He looks at Lyra and hands over the charter for her signature, “You doing okay with all of those? I think I have everything actually necessary squared away for the others. Including immigration documents for the minotaur and the gnome—I figure Amara won’t need them since she’s a minor and already has family here.” Once Lyra has signed, he wanders outside to get the others’ signatures. “Hold the line, will you Lyra? I’m just going to get the others to sign this and then we can get out of here…”
Shuddup scans over the documents then signs his name in precise Gnomish lettering.
The Head Clerk, a red-haired woman—her hair done in very tight cornrows—whose dark-circles under the eyes and numerous care-lines make her age almost impossible to determine, walks in, another large stack of papers in her arms. She dumps the papers in Faelana’s lap, the beginnings of a smile—equal parts relief and cruelty—playing about her lips. “Everything going well?” she asks as she drops herself heavily into her seat, with no attempt at decorum. She tugs uncomfortably at the collar of her blouse, though you suspect that the polished, metal corset-like thing she is wearing over it is the real source of her discomfort, and looks around at the people standing about the room with piles of papers in their hands. “What have you been doing while I was out?”
Faelana immediately begins sorting through the new stack of paperwork. "A few more applications for citizenship, an adventuring charter, and one application for asylum.
Gendry turns to see Donovan approaching, rolls his eyes in that very disturbing way that only a cow can, and scrawls a few more "G"s in the indicated places. Hearing a purring noise, he turns back to see Amara’s cat reappear. “Ok,” he says to her, “what is it with your toys and pets disappearing? Do they just turn invisible or are they actually going somewhere?”
Amara giggles, “That tickles Whiskers!” She picks the kitten up, placing it on her shoulders. The cat purrs and licks her ear. Amara giggles some more. “Ooh that’s a good secret!”
When Gendry asks her question, Amara replies, “My friends go to get me things Mr. Cow. Then they come back with presents and secrets!” She giggles again and twirls.
“Can we go shopping now?” Amara asks.
Donovan looks at Amara, “Do you know how to write, Amara?” He kneels down to show her the documents. “If you can, we need you to sign your name here…” he points to a few different lines. “If not, just a picture is fine. Once we’ve all finished putting our names on this, we should be able to go shopping.”
Lyra cracks open the door and sticks her head out. “Are we almost finished?” Her face lights up when she sees the kitten on Amara’s shoulder. “Oh, Whiskers is back! Whoosa cute widdle ge….kitteh”
Amara draws a little handprint on the documents.
Donovan collects all the papers and walks back into the Clerk’s office. “Here you go Deb. Need anything else?”
The head Clerk (Deborah) takes the stack of documents and gives them only a cursory inspection. “Umm-hmm…” she mutters to herself, “a minotaur who is a known pirate, another gnomish Gondsman, the new under-clerk’s daughter, a minor, and…” she looks up, “Donovan. You know that accepting an adventuring charter invalidates your employment as herald, correct? We’ll need the gnome to register any contraptions he may have brought with him, as well as any he creates in the future, with the chief technologist at the Training Hall…just to make sure he’s not creating anything that could be catastrophically harmful to Phlan, its economy, or its citizens.”
She shuffles through the papers again. “The citizenship, amnesty, and asylum requests look to be in order. Given the minotaur’s proclaimed background, we would like him to make immediate report of any attempts made to contact by the buccaneers operating out of Stormy Bay, as a contingency of his being granted amnesty, and the Council may have additional requests to make of him should such contact be established. The girls’ papers all seem to be in order…” She pulls a long roll of parchment and a stamp out of a drawer in her desk, unrolls it, records your names at the bottom, and then pours some wax from a candle onto it and stamps it. “Here is your official charter. You’ll need to present this to the guards at the gate any time you wish to enter or leave the city through the slums gates. Please make sure a member of your group has this at all times.”
She hands the rest of the stack of papers to Faelana, “Please file these…” then turns back to your group. “The charter gives you permission to bear arms and employ magic within the walls of New Phlan, however you will still be subject to legal action should you bring harm to any of citizen. Good luck, and have a nice day…”
Gendry, hearing people talking about ‘the minotaur’, pokes his head back into the office. “What’s that?” He walks in. “So, you want me to let you know if I’m contacted by other pirates? And, presumably, spy on them if they do get in touch?” He chuckles, “Dad would looove that…”
He pauses, thinking for a moment, “Ok. No problem at all.”
Amara starts tugging on Donovan’s shirt. “Can we go shopping now? Huh? Can we?”
Donovan sighs audibly, “Alright, Amara, let’s go.” He takes charter from Deb and heads out the door, making a bee-line for the Parkside Gate. He looks in his purse as he walks. “So, what do you want to go shopping for? Until we get that advance from your uncle I’m not exactly flush with cash…”
“I want to buy a candle for grandmother,” Amara explains. “It will make her feel better…”