The Iron Gods
Torch takes its name from the violet flame that burns atop its central hill. The fires ignited spontaneously in 4602 AR, and for nearly a year they lanced into the sky, forming a purple column of fire that could be seen for miles around. At the time, the Technic League was experiencing a period of upheaval in Starfall, and its agents were unable to investigate the rumors of the column of fire to the south. By 4604, the flames had died down to a man-sized bonfire, leaving the top of the hill blasted and blackened. Several industrious locals soon discovered the flame’s heat possessed two unusual qualities-it was hot enough to smelt skymetal ores and work with difficult materials like adamantine, and the fires themselves radiated a strangely directional heat. A chunk of wood thrown a dozen feet over the fires would instantly burst into flame, yet a piece of paper set a foot from the bonfire’s edge wouldn’t even smolder. This unique combination of traits made the fire a perfect forge. After a few sudden flare-ups resulted in the tragic incineration of several smiths and their partially completed forges, the townsfolk learned how to interpret the flares and flashes that presaged such an eruption. Rather than build permanent structures around the fire, they came to rely upon portable workshops transported up the hill via wagon or carriage, so that when the fire began one of its unpredictable surges, the smiths could retreat to safety to wait for the blast of fire to recede. In this way, Torch has sustained itself. By the time the Technic League sorted its internal politics out and sent representatives to investigate in 4612, its agents found a burgeoning village growing around the base of the hill. After a cursory examination of the fire, representatives from the Technic League met with the village’s leaders and worked out a deal-as long as Torch sent a monthly tribute of gold north to Starfall, the Technic League would not maintain an official presence in the region. In this way, the League turned what could have been competition (since at the time it still lacked the resources to effectively manage a remote site) into a source of income. Over the decades that followed, Torch grew steadily, yet has never truly prospered, because the Technic League constantly revises the amount of the tribute it requires. Frustrations with and resentments against the Technic League rightly have grown in Torch, yet the League’s been careful to never tax the town to the point of rebellion, keeping them in an uncomfortable but relatively stable place between freedom and oppression.