The original settlers of Light’s Hollow had come to the valley with only a single lantern to ward off the darklings.
The lantern was small and inefficient, carried on a wagon that was pulled with four oxen. There had been only two glimwardens to keep it fed and two engineers to keep it running as they’d made the journey west from Tor Ellsum. Their caravan, some fifty people in total, was a single spark floating away from the bonfire, trying to find some place to catch so that another fire of civilization could start.
They eventually found a river which they could not easily cross, and because they had gone far enough, they settled down and founded their town with little fanfare. The land was slowly turned toward human purposes as it was cleared, plowed, and seeded. Trees were cut down in the nearby woods to make houses where people could work or live. The ball of hava at the heart of the lantern grew in size until eventually the lantern sat in the center of its own large building, now with a full squadron of glimwardens to keep it fed and a cadre of engineers to keep it running. The small spark that had drifted away from Tor Ellsum found dry tinder and started a blaze.
This is not to say that this small community was free from trials and tribulations. In the winter of the second year, the lantern went out for a harrowing three days. A quarter of the people in Light’s Hollow died in the darkling attacks, including two of the five glimwardens, before the engineers could get the lantern working again. Eight years later, a terrible drought caused a famine that claimed many lives. Twenty years after the founding of Light’s Hollow, a fire destroyed four businesses and nearly consumed the building that housed the town’s lantern. If these incidents had been closer together, the town might have fallen into a downward spiral from which there was no escape, but they were spread out enough that these calamities left only scars.
A first generation begot a second and the second begot a third. The lantern grew in size, making more land safe for farming and settlement. The glimwardens killed the darklings near town and kept the lantern fed with their hearts. Eventually a second lantern was constructed, doubling the available area and making the town more secure. If one of the lanterns went out, there would be a haven for the farmers to flee to and a base of operations for any efforts to restore the failed lantern to life. The second lantern marked the beginning of a long period of peace and prosperity, one that saw the construction of more lanterns and a rising population, not just growing families, but immigrants from the east, those fleeing disasters or seeking a simpler life than the great cities could provide.
By the time the fifth lantern was built, Light’s Hollow had entered into a period of stability. The frantic energy of the early generations had faded away, as had the burgeoning growth of the middle generations. The city still grew, but its pace was now slower, more measured. The focus was no longer on claiming more land, but on making the land better. The streets were properly paved, the public gardens were well-manicured, and the city began to take on some of the same systems of rules that their ancestors had fled from. Two more lanterns were added, over the course of centuries instead of decades, bringing the total to seven, seven shining lights arranged like a hexagon, with the Chancellor’s Lantern sitting in the middle, surrounded by the other six.
Our story begins not at the center, but at the outskirts, not with the noise and movement of the city’s eleven thousand souls, but with a single young boy with golden hair standing at the very border between the shining lights of civilization and the dark, wild woods.