Free Preview – Volcano of Fire

The Pillars of Haramon

You sit at a long table in the command pod atop one of the twin Pillars of Haramon. The room is filled with the hum of voices. A small robotic bird, unseen by those in the room, hovers in one corner.

The man at the head of the table has three blue-diamond stars pinned to his chest, indicating his rank as chief of the council. Next to him sits a visiting Lowland general, his face as hard as the rock walls of the command pod. Around the table, other important figures from both the Highlands and the Lowlands sit nervously.
volcano look insideBeing the newest member of the Highland Council, you have yet to earn your first star, but you have big plans to make your mark.

“Quiet please,” the chief says. “We’ve got important matters to discuss.”

The chief’s scars are visible, even from your seat at the opposite end of the table. These scars are proof of the many battles and expeditions he has taken part in over his long career and are proof of the dangers of living in the Highlands where the rock under your feet is the slipperiest material imaginable. Black glass.

“Supplies of tyranium crystals have run desperately low,” the chief says. “Without tyranium, workers can’t move safely around the slopes and that means no progress on the trade routes being built between the Lowlands and the Highlands. If our truce is to last, trade is critical.”

As you listen to the chief talk, you stare out of the large windows that overlook the slopes below. Further down Long Gully, the second pillar rises from the smooth black slope. A colony of red-beaked pangos squabble with each other for nesting spaces in the cracks near its summit.

To the south are the patchwork fields of the Lowlands, the blue ribbons of the river delta and the turquoise sea. Petron’s smallest moon has just risen, pale pink in the morning light, just above the horizon.

“We need to mount an expedition to locate a new source of crystals, and soon,” the chief says. “Led by someone we trust.”

He turns and looks in your direction. “Someone who knows how to slide on black glass and has the ability to lead a team. Someone with a knowledge of mining and brave enough to take chances when necessary. Are you up for it?” the chief asks, catching you off guard.

“Me?” Sure you’ve been a troop leader in the Slider Corps and spent a little time in mining school, but leading an expedition into new territory? That’s quite a responsibility.

The Lowland general stands, rests his hairy knuckles on the table before him, and leans towards your end of the table. “We need someone who is respected by both the Lowlanders and the Highlanders. Someone both sides trust to ensure an equal share of any discoveries.”

“That’s right,” the chief says. “It was you who helped start the peace process. You are the logical choice.”

Your part in this story is about to begin. You are being asked to undertake a dangerous mission, one that is important to your community. But are you really qualified? You are young. Surely others would be more suitable. Maybe you should suggest someone more experienced lead the expedition, then you could go back home and live a safe life growing hydro or hunting pangos.

It is time to make your first decision. Do you:

Agree to lead the mission?

Or

Suggest someone else lead the mission?

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