As ususal, a light wooden platform had been erected right at the western exterior wall of a shop. However, it became increasingly less visible as the townsfolk kept pouring out of the streets. Due to his rather close workshop, Jack managed to get a place with only one or two rows of people obstructing his view. Public gatherings were normally held once each month, usually to proclaim a change in tax rates, yet another petty law amendment or a new council member. The last gathering however had happened a mere week ago, and thus the citizens were eager to hear what caused this gathering on such an uncommon date. And indeed, the crowd silenced as the humble frame of the council leader, Kilian Demoste, crept towards the lectern and shuffled through the scripts that laid on the desk, more eager than ever seen before. At the far end of the platform, a selection of other council member sat on sombre oak chairs, clad in the traditional dark crimson garnments. They looked rather excited, which almost looked out of the ordinary. Oddly enough, Bernard sat on one of the chairs. Among them was Sir Wobblington as well, patting the cloth on his shoulder, which surely disguised a certain, freshly forged lorica pauldron, while looking gratefully at Jack in the meantime.
Kilian finally managed to find the right piece of paper and cleared his throat in an attempt to halt the mumbling that had arisen during the waiting period.
„Dear citizens! I hereby proclaim the 287th public gathering. There is...“ one of the council members had stood up, tapped Kilian on the shoulder and was now whispering something.
„Pardon me, it is the 317th public gathering. Someone spilled gravy on my manuscript.“
In the rear part of the throng, someone shouted: „It was probably Prokrion, the glutton!“
A man with a hulking stature among the line of chairs reddened. Kilian ignored the insult and coughed again.
„Anyway, there is important information that cannot be withheld any longer! Townsfolk, we stand on the brink of a new age! A discovery of astonishing significance has been made, which shall bring wealth and prosperty upon the lands, beginning from our beloved town! Rejoice!“
Doubtful expressions emerged all around, and Jack joined them. Wealth and prosperity for everyone? There was only that much to take from the bare earth, and it certainly was not enough for a claim of this magnitude.
„Enough of mere words, let them follow action! Meet the great explorer himself and marvel at his discovery.“, Kilian closed and stepped back from the desk. Bernard raised from his chair and casually came forward, carrying two small beams of wood. Somehow he seemed stronger and way more self-confident than a few weeks ago.
„Dear ladies and gentlemen, here you can see two sticks of wood, as simple as they could be. But behold!“
He then put a hand on one of the pieces of wood, his face in deep concentration.
Some moments passed, then a minute.
Suddenly the expression of focus turned into success, and with a widening smile, Bernard held the stick far above it´s head. The taciturn crowd gazed, and so did Jack. There was hardly anything visible until a cloud passed by the sun and thus diminished the bright daylight. A collective gasp went through the crowd, and Jack´s hand instinctively twitched towards his pocket, where he almost would have placed a dagger before he had left his home.
On the smooth wooden surface, a strange mark was glowing. It had not quite the right blue hue, but nevertheless it awfully remembered Jack of the swirling nightmare of his dream.
The mark was perfectly round,as far as he could see it. Neatly outlined against the background, it resembled a blue-glowing circle whose light became slightly dimmer towards the center.
Jack steadied his breath and awaited the following words. As marvelous as it was, this could not be all.
Bernard then took the other stick and pressed it against the strange mark. When he removed his hand, the two wooden bars were neatly joined, and stunningly, one of them slowly started rotating around the now hidden glowing sign. Now multiple people quickly stumbled back and called out exclamations like „Witchcraft!“, „Impossible!“ and „What wicked powers are at work here?“, and Jack could only sympathize with them. Meanwhile, Bernard kept smiling at the stupefied group of people.
Kilian then stepped forward again and Bernard handed him the rotating wood construction.
„Citizens, this is the beginning of a new age. Bernard has indeed discovered a new craftsmanship that shall be spread across the lands and bring glory to our beloved town. I hereby urge every villager to reduce their day work to a minimum and instead take courses in this new craft and assist in unraveling its secrets! Help this town to be the bell that heralds a new age! As long as there are no proper instructors, Bernard will lead the education. Applications may be submitted as of now and will be processed as fast as possible, but the amount of apprenticeship will be greatly limited as meantioned.
Thank you for your attention.“
Kilian then bowed slightly and withdrew from the desk. A habit developed during many years of political life let the impactful speech end with words that were hardly appropriate.
The crowd was visibly filled with mixed feelings. Most people were still processing the speech and now looked around confusingly, some however had apparently grasped the range of possibilites that this chance offered and thus stormed towards the group of council member. Jack though was undecisive, on the one hand the possibilities of this new kind of craft fascinated him, on the other hand the picture of the terrifiying whirlwind still stuck in his mind. He staggered between the two choices and tended towards having a day or two of thought before making the decision of wether or not he should accept the offer. Then however Sir Wobblingtons voice sounded from behind.
„Quite impressive news, I´m sure you´ll agree.“ Jack turned around and faced him. „I suspected that there would be a rush for apprentice positions, so I put you on top of the list. A master craftsman like you surely takes every chance to improve his range of skills! You are lucky, the courses will start in the „Obsidian Fist Inn“at dawn. No need to thank me.“
Just as Jack opened his mouth to respond, the surrounding townsfolk noticed the council member that had sneaked through their lines and bombarded him with questions and applications and thus Jack quickly lost sight of him. He saw that every attempt to part the crush of people would be futile and thus made his way towards the verge of the now madding crowd, jokingly cursing Sir Wobblington.
Well, at least he did not have to bother with the decision any more.