Iron Gods - Mike Korupp
Torch - Khonnir Baine
Beloved town counciler of Torch
Khonnir Baine originally went by the name of Pauldris Gray when he lived in Starfall, where he kept busy working as a low-ranking assistant to the Technic League for many years. He knew going into the job that the League was unconcerned with matters of morality, but as time went on and he grew more and more involved with their activities, he came to realize that the League was the cause of—rather than attempting to stop—many of the inequalities and atrocities he saw every day in the streets of Starfall. Yet by this point, he was too far enmeshed in League affairs to simply abandon his post without repercussion. It wasn’t until he confronted an alchemist rival named Ghartone over that alchemist’s plans to use a young orphan girl as a resource in the creation of an alchemical homunculus that events forced his hand. He killed—or believed he killed—Ghartone in order to save the girl, a Kellid named Val, and then fled with her to the south, after setting fire to the lab in hopes that the League would assume both he and Ghartone had perished in a tragic accident. As he was leaving, he also rescued Weyun, an elderly, android slated for vivisection.
After several months living in hiding in the city of Chesed, Khonnir learned that Ghartone had survived the blast and that now Khonnir had a bounty on his head. To keep his profile low, Khonnir took his new name and disguised himself by shaving his beard and dying his hair. He took similar steps to hide Val’s identity, cutting her hair short while continuing to give her an education far beyond what a typical child growing up in Numeria could ever hope to receive. Even so, the life of a vagabond weighed heavily on them. It held no appeal for Khonnir, and he felt a growing responsibility to do better by Val. They worked their way south along the Sellen, hiding themselves among the constant f low of crusaders heading to Mendev. Eventually, Khonnir heard of the town of Torch and abandoned the river life entirely to seek out new lives there for himself and his adopted daughter. Soon after, Weyun died of old age, and weeks later Harkness was born in Weyun’s old body.
Khonnir’s skill and knowledge, combined with his charitable personality, swiftly made friends of nearly everyone in town. Over the next few years, he grew more and more confident that the Technic League and his old rival Ghartone had given him up for dead, and he built a successful business, shared new techniques for smelting and recasting skymetal, and even improved the town’s water supply. Despite repeatedly downplaying his contributions, Khonnir eventually found himself unanimously voted to the Town Council—an outcome he fears might one day lead Ghartone and the Technic League to his doorstep—but one which gives him and Val the greatest opportunity for sustained success. During this time, he also adopted two other wards, Susie and Arim Shadowbleeder.
Because he is one of the town’s most learned leaders, citizens and fellow council members alike turned to Khonnir for advice when the violet flame atop Black Hill went out. His investigations led to the discovery of a heretofore unknown set of caves beneath Black Hill, accessed via a short underwater swim at the source of the Seven Tears. After several groups of investigators went missing, Khonnir led his own expedition into the caves, returning with reports of strange creatures and monstrous vermin. More worrisome, though, is evidence that the caves do indeed extend deeper in the direction of the extinguished flame. His recovery of a damaged robot from the caves further aroused fears and nervous speculation about the nature of what might be going on below the city. Khonnir returned to the caves for a second expedition, but he has not yet returned, and the citizens of Torch now worry that whatever dire fate met the first few explorers has now seized one of their most beloved leaders.