Outside of the Council hall, The party had been going on all night, and would continue into the following day. Colorful streamers and purple flamed fireworks had been produced and the Torch council had declared today would forever be remembered as “Relighting Day!” As a new holiday, it would be celebrated with violet streamers of fabric and paper.. food and song as well as the rekindling of old relationships that had died out. It would serve as a day when all the people of torch would remember what almost happened, and be thankful for the violet stream that shoots up into the sky in the center of their town.
Meanwhile, a much more somber gathering was happening in the Town Hall. The council chamber itself had two doors on either side, and was quiet as one by one, the councilors of Torch entered the building and moved to take their seats around a large stone table. It was a massive, black veined stone ediface that had five settings, one for each councilor of their district.
The First to enter was the youngest of the new councilors. Bazlundi Otterbie was a woman in her early 20’s and the dark skinned daughter of a crusader from Mendev. When she entered the hall, her beaded locks clicked behind her as she moved gracefully into the room. She had a proud and noble bearing from her father, and had negotiated her family from near ruin, to a position of prominence among the artisans and craftsman of Torch, securing a seat on the council.
The next to Enter Was Dolga Freddert. As one of the oldest on the council, The Dwarf was now widely credited for helping to keep Torch together during Konnir’s disappearance and the crisis. Some whispered that her connections ran much deeper and were much more entangled then anyone realized. On the surface however, Dolga always kept up her gruff, no nonsense exterior. She had come to the first meeting of the Council since the crisis dressed in a shining suit of ceremonial Chain armor, and had her hammer strapped to her back. Over her armor was the violet and green robes of office that marked her as one of the council.
Following the dwarf, was the High Artificer of Brigh, Joram Kyte. His leather apron and rugged Artificers clothes had been replaced by the heavy ceremonial robes of office he wore as a member of the Clergy. Even then, they clicked and clinked as several gears hanging from his belt and around his neck rattled against each other with every movement of his aged body. He had on a carefree smile, which like everything else he did, was carefully crafted to serve the situation and his clockwork goddess.
Next, the missing Council member, Khonnir Baine hobbled into the room, leaning heavily upon a cane that made him appear much older then he actually was. There were some who whispered that his harrowing experience beneath torch had nearly killed him, but he had made every effort to prove otherwise. His robes were immaculate and resplendent, but his normally clean shaven face was starting to grow some uncharacteristic stubble. He hobbled over to his seat with some effort and nodded to the other council members who looked on with obvious concern.
Lastly, the leader of the council was an older woman named Serantha Olandir, her hair was tied into a long braid that extended down her back and her fierce eyes regarded the room with a radiant intensity all their own. 2 years ago, her husband had been leader of the council, but a mugging near Silverdisc hall had gone bad, and since then she had dedicated her life to cleaning up torch and Shaping its politics for the better.
She was escorted by the Captain of the Guard, Aaronlu Langer. She was a warrior known for her cunning, her ferocity, and her dedication to the well being of the town. She had previously worked as a bodyguard and a sell sword for the Olandir Family, but ever since her husband’s Death, Serantha trusted no other Captain of the Guard except Aaronlu. It was widely known that Garmen, before his untimely disappearance, had offered a sizable bounty on any information, or dirt on the Captain of the Torch Bearer’s, but had come up empty.
Each councilor had a wooden block that was covered with ornate carvings upon which to sit. It was whispered that these blocks had been made by the original tribe of Kellid who had first settled on this place, before Torch had come into existence. It was rumored that their shaman had used these blocks to pass judgment on other tribes that would come to them, and now they were finding such use all over again. Each councilor moved their block out far enough to sit down, and gently moved in front of the table. Some of them, such as Dolga, were less graceful then others, but after a moment the entire council were seated.
Serantha began as she gently lifted a ceremonial Glaucite hammer and tapped it upon the stone table, calling the meeting to order. Her musical voice lifted up, “So, is it True?… is he dead?”
“Yes.” Nodding Slightly, Khonnir Baine replied. “I have it on good Authority That Garmen Ulreth will no longer trouble this Council, or the people of Torch.”
There was a small collective sigh, as the other councilors released a breath they had not even realized was being held. Dolga was the first to speak as she nearly spat out the words.
“Good Riddance, I say.”
The young Councilor Bazlundi looked over at Khonnir as she spoke, “Yes, but now that begs the question. What of his holdings?”
Khonnir motioned dismissively and gave a reassuring nod. “I have someone I trust, a family member that I would like to take over his holdings. They will put them to much better use serving the community, I think. Perhaps convert it to an Inn, or have it remain as a casino to attract traveler’s coins.”
Serantha, leader of the council took a slow breath but nodded. “There will undoubtedly be questions and an investigation regarding his disappearance, but everyone here knows my feelings on the matter. Garmen was a slime who probably engineered the death of my husband, so I will not any shed tears. That being said, If it comes to light that you engineered his demise Khonnir, then I shall hold you accountable according to the law. Otherwise, I am keen to grant your request, and see to his holdings, as no Legitimate Heir will likely come forward and admit ownership of such a nefarious estate. What say the rest of you?”
One by one, the council nodded their agreement, and when the attention focused back around to Serantha she also joined the others. “Agreed, if there is no further discussion then we grant your request. Return to this council with a report about the final disposition of his holdings, otherwise you are free to conduct them in a way that benefits Torch however you see fit.”
Khonnir quietly nodded his thanks to the other councilors and then looked very seriously. “Now that the matter of Garmen has been dealt with, I would like to discuss something of great import. First however, I need to insure this conversation does not leave the room.” He gently touched a rune that had been carved on the surface of the table, and it glowed for a moment with violet energy. It was joined by runes drawn all over the walls, ceiling and even windows. All of them glowed and revealed a barrier of arcane energy that blocked any attempts to listen in on their deliberations. This was only something done in the most severe circumstances, so the other councilors looked on gravely.
Once Serantha was satisfied the proper precautions had been taken, she opened the conversation with a question. “This is about the Champions of Brigh, isn’t it? And about what they found under Black Hill.”
This time it was Joram Kyte’s turn to answer, his voice was frail and subdued as he nodded his balding head. “Yes, The champions of Brigh have uncovered several significant discoveries. It now falls to us on how to deal with them.”
Bazlundi shook her head as her dreadlocks clicked in response and her voice was tinged with growing concern. “There are already rumors flying. What did they find under there?”
Khonnir answered the question after giving the runes one last check. “They found several things, including an entrance to Nar Voth, the Under realms. And more, they found the remains of a massive star-ship. Apparently, a damaged fusion generator has been sending its pulse up towards the surface, and emerging at the top of black hill as the great Torch. It slowly builds up until release, and vents the energy in a massive discharge to keep from exploding. The Emergency Venting was deactivated by the Android Mayanda, so she could harness its power for her old Master. An entity she refers to as Hellion.”
The council Chamber grew deathly quiet as they all took it in. Finally Councilor Bazlundi broke the silence. “If the Technic League catches wind of this, we’re dead! They will send a military governor, and the council will be dissolved.”
Khonnir nodded in agreement. “Yes, the Council will be dissolved, swiftly followed by ourselves. Some of you know the secrets of my former life, but it will be a moot point if the League comes here in search of the remains under black Hill. Everything you have heard about their ruthlessness and cruelty is true. If the League is brought here searching for that ship, Torch as we know it will die.”
When she finally spoke, Serantha’s voice was barely more then a fierce whisper. “I have not endured this long, just to see Torch taken by The Black Sovereign and his Technic League Lackeys.” Dolga nodded in fierce agreement. “Nor I.”
Khonnir nodded his head once, and Serantha’s voice acquired a touch of wry amusement. “I’ve known you for too long, Khonnir. You would not have mentioned the ruins under black Hill, if you didn’t have a plan. It’s clear as day that the League must never discover the Secret of Black Hill, so lets not play coy and tell us what you propose.”
he shrugged thoughtful and gently took up one of the pens from the massive table in front of them, tapping it once or twice. “It would be easy to seal off the entrance by letting it be known that an access point to Nar Voth has been found. No one wants to actually go into the darklands, except for adventurers and the insane. In reality, we seal the entrance to the dark Lands, but the entrance to the Caverns under black Hill will have a hidden access point. Guards will be positioned out of sight from the outside, and to the rest of the town, whatever is hidden under the Hill will be forgotten. Meanwhile, we repair, we restore, and convert the crashed vessel into a place where those who hide from the Technic League can gather and conduct research in secret. It will be a place were Andriods, the robot folk who are fleeing from the Technic League can find shelter and freedom. Lastly it will be a place where our trusted agents can bring technological wonders for research, and hopefully, one day… replication. I suggest we convert these ruins into a base of operations for our benefit and perhaps our eventual resistance. After all, if the Technic League will destroy us anyways if they discover its existence, then we have nothing to lose by using it."
The entire council went utterly silent as they struggled with the scope of Khonnir’s suggestion. Finally Bazlundi broke the silence. “How could we keep such a secret? Sooner or later the League would find out, and we would all be killed.”
Khonnir shook his head. “The secret of Torch had remained a secret to the town for hundreds of years before Mayanda, Hellion’s prophet, descended into the cave. People don’t want to know how precarious their life is, balanced on a lance of purple energy. It is in their best interest to forget, and so they will. The secret of Torch shall return to obscurity, and it will be one more mystery of Torch, only to be revealed when the Technic league has fallen, may that day be within my lifetime.”
Finally, Serantha, leader of the Council spoke up. “That brings up another question. What of this Mayanda? If her master sent her below the hill, then already there is someone or something, who knows our secret.”
Khonnir nodded in agreement. “Yes, this is true. But instead of contacting the League, Mayanda was sent with a company of scrap soldiers to infiltrate the town, and steal the energy from the Torch. If this Hellion had reveald the ship’s existence, despite her failure, the Technic League would already be swarming this place… The fact that the League has not come searching for it already, speaks that They may not be working together. My hope is that somehow these two forces are working in opposition. But As knowledge of Torch is out there, we must discover the nature of this Hellion and if possible it must be neutralized to keep our secret."
Serantha saw where this was going and gently rubbed her forehead. “So… The Champions of Brigh?”
Khonnir nodded in response. “The Champions of Brigh.”
After another minute of consideration, Serantha looked to the other councilors and spoke softly. “Very well. I propose that we offer the Champions of Brigh a generous commission to travel to the home of this “Hellion” Entity, and discover his nature and purpose. Furthermore, if they are able to neutralize any threat he represents, they will be well rewarded in coin and treasure by this body. What say the rest of you?”
One by one each of the councilors nodded in agreement.