They stopped in front of the town meeting hall, an ancient building of carved stone lit with many small crystal lamps and home to the town’s beacon, as well as the central foci. Above the large steel double doors was carved in ornate, flowing letters the name of the town, Twillanya, along with the province it was part of, Bolaya, back when there was an actual kingdom in the east. So long had it been since Twillanya was part of a nation that notions of kingdom and empire were relegated to the realm of folklore and legend, rather than memory. The town had stood alone as long as any of the elders had lived, which was many turnings indeed, but the edifice of the building had never been altered, mostly because in Twillanya it was preferred for things to remain as they always had been.
“After you,” Ty said, and pulled open the door. Aphella nodded and stepped past him into the foyer. The inside of the hall was lit brightly by white crystals set in spheres of glass, spaced along the wall in such a way that Aphella and Ty seemed to cast several short, dim shadows all around them on the smooth white marble floor. Above and between these lamps set a compendium of art, dating back, like the building itself, far into the reaches of time. Statues and statuettes of carved stone and ivory stood beside ink paintings on drawn hide, most depicting gods or scenes from myth. Aphella cast a glance at a familiar piece, of a man carrying a shield and spear that was carved from an especially large piece of ivory. She had been told that her great-grandmother, the same woman to carve her now shattered focus, had made it when the light began to wear on her, as a way of remembering Aphella’s great-grandfather.
“Come on,” Ty said, nodding toward the end of the foyer, which contained a trio of heavy doors, overlaid with a design copper that had been allowed to tarnish to a dull green. Aphella had never been able to figure out what exactly the design was intending to portray. Long twisting lines of ever-shrinking thickness wound in and out of each other as they passed down the length of the doors, terminating in a mass near the floor. Soft diamond shapes were attached to them, looking like a spearhead or section from a knife, and pointed away in different directions until they were lost at the tangle of green lines at the bottom.
Aphella took a breath as Ty put his hand on the iron handle of the center doors, which led to meeting place of the town elders when they cared to be formal. Most days it sat empty, and the elders resolved matters by themselves or a few together while they went about their own business. The door swung inward and Ty quickly stepped inside. He bowed his head and held out his free right hand, a formality Aphella had never seen given to herself.
All five of the town elders were inside, reclining at a long stone table. Each wore a long spider silk robe and hide cloak, and each robe had embroidered on the breast the symbol of the elder’s office. Hamon the warder had sword and shield, Shaenyll the time keeper wore an hourglass, Arda the light bringer had a crystal lamp, and Sabon the mason and iron master had a hammer. Warka, the youngest of elders, having only been raised to her position twenty great turns earlier, sat smiling closest to the door. The pair of horns on her robe, which symbolized her office as master of agriculture, were bright compared to the old silk threads of the other elders. At the center of all five sat Zyteus, the mayor and shop master, Ty’s father. His face showed no emotion, even at he looked as his son.
Across from them two men sat. One Aphella recognized as one of the riders that had saved her from the dreadtusks. His eyes barely glowed, and he wore his grey hair short. He wore a long jacket that did little to hide his sizable frame, and at his side was a longsword. Aphella thought the man that sat just past the dim-man was the lightweaver that had held himself back from the charging beasts. His eyes were bright, and his hair was as white as snow, though did not otherwise have the look of the elders who had seen centuries of turning. In many ways he appeared young, with a youthful, though angular face.