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Luminary Lore, Chapter 10: The Council

"Transitioning from a centralized system to one that's autonomous and governed by the community itself could mark the beginning of a new chapter..."

bitpixi9 min read
<span style="white-space: pre-wrap;">The Council HQ in Lobby 42</span>
The Council HQ in Lobby 42

Emerging from the ancient forest, the group reentered the buzz of Neon City, with their minds still echoing with the dragon W.H.'s wisdom. As they re-adjusted to the urban rhythm, a familiar figure leaned against a floating chrome-detailed car.

It was Pit Bixi, with a grin and a twang in her voice. "Well, butter my biscuit, if it ain't my favorite crew of mighty adventurers," Pit gestured, her accent thick as molasses. "Had myself an adventure, chasin' down what I thought was a phantom signal in the grid. Turned out ta be a wild neon paint rave in an abandoned lot. Got myself a souvenir though," she laughed, holding up a brightly painted egg.

Aisling, intrigued, stepped closer. "That's quite the keepsake. Does it do anything special?" she asked.

Pit's eyes sparkled. "Oh, this little thing? It's infused with a bit of rave magic. Holds the power to brighten the darkest corners, literally and metaphorically. Nifty lil' thing, ain't it?”

Aisling nodded. "Sounds like the kind of clear vibes we could use on our side. We're actually heading towards The Council, you know," she revealed, "We've gained insights that could be crucial in the fight against the Green Shadow Syndrome. Any chance we could catch a ride with you? Your fleet seems like it could get us all there. My car is only a two-seater, unfortunately."

Pit pushed off from the car, "Well, I can't say I'm not intrigued. My job's got me heading in that general direction anyway—got some data to collect in them there rainforest simulators by the tundra. Hey, your proposition must be something fierce if it's drawing you all the way to The Council's door."

Ethan chimed in and sheepishly asked her, "You think The Council's ready for what we’ve got to say?"

Pit responded with a confident chuckle. "Honey, they will have to be. The world’s not standing still. Plus," she added, her tone sobering, "with the green shadows growing bolder and the city's whispers growing louder, it's clear we need all the help we can get. I'm all for aiding your cause."

As the engines of Pit's fleet hummed to life, Aisling, Ethan, Ezio, and Swan caught a ride with the charismatic mechanic and embarked towards The Council, city lights streaking past in a vibrant blur, until buildings started showing further apart as they neared the enigmatic tundra-scape.

Ezio, charms dangling from his deer antlers, was growing visibly nervous. "I have old associates within The Council's walls," he confided, his voice low, "and it's best I'm not seen just yet. But I want to stay informed. Whatever insights or decisions come from this meeting, I need to know. I can act as a messenger, relaying everything back to W.H. So I'll wait outside," Ezio proposed, positioning himself as a crucial link back to their enigmatic ally. This showed commitment to their cause, despite the personal risks involved in even being this close to The Council.

As they neared closer, reality warped. The spherical building before them defied convention, with architectural twists in an Escheresque defiance, leading Swan to muse, "A literal labyrinth of governance, designed to keep the uninitiated at bay, or perhaps, a reflection of The Council's convoluted deliberations..."

Exiting the fleet of cars, the group, sans Ezio, made their way towards the entrance. Pit engaged the vehicles' security systems before joining Aisling, Ethan, and Swan. Upon entering the headquarters, they were not met by a traditional reception but instead were greeted by a robot Lynx Luminary named Javi, whose sleek fur shimmered with silver metallic fibers. "Welcome, esteemed visitors," Javi's voice, synthesized, yet surprisingly warm, greeted them. "I am here to assist with your registration and direct you to the correct lobby before your meeting. May I have the nature of your visit?" After Ethan explained their mission, Javi processed their request. "Your meeting has been scheduled. Please proceed to Lobby 42 at the designated time, where another artificial intelligence will allow you to enter towards the stairway and the elevator for your room. Follow the blue lights; they will guide you."

As they prepared to follow Javi's instructions, Pit spoke up, her tone mixing regret with encouragement. "Well, darlings, seems like this is where our roads split. I'm off to dive into the heart of them rainforest sims by the tundra, as I got some oracle data that's callin' my name. Remember – every step you take is one step closer to the change you want to see. And who knows?" she added with a wink, "Maybe this little magic egg will light my way in a dark moment."

The group bid a heartfelt goodbye to Pit, grateful for her invaluable assistance, and then proceeded to navigate the labyrinth of corridors lit by a trail of blue lights. Their destination was Lobby 42, and the atmosphere was thick with anticipation as they walked.

Upon arrival, they were greeted by Masha, a sophisticated humanoid robot who served as the guardian of Lobby 42 and its elevator. The place was like a cushy futuristic airplane lounge and courthouse combination, peppered with bioluminescent plants, vertical banners with crests, and monitors showing fluctuating trading rates. Masha conducted a security scan of the team, then confirmed their clearance through the velvet ropes while offering optional information booklets about the building. Her voice chimed melodiously, "Now please proceed to Floor 96, Room 8."

As the elevator doors slid silently closed, the group felt a slight hum as they ascended swiftly. Small screens embedded in the walls displayed scrolling news and updates about the council's recent decisions and ongoing projects. Stepping out from the corridor, they found a large, imposing door that slid open as they approached, revealing the council chamber beyond in Room 8.

The welcoming committee from The Council, composed of three members, met the group with an air of practiced stoicism—a routine reception for what was, in their eyes, yet another delegation seeking dialogue. Positioned prominently before each council member were holographic nameplates, identifying them as "Abu", "Azeem", and "Acrollam". The three council members in that particular room faced Ethan, Aisling, and Swan who moved through the initial formalities with an air of determination, their request for access to the Nexus Point and inquiries about the trade reform delays at the forefront of their agenda.

As the conversation drifted towards the challenges facing their futuristic economies, the transformative potential of decentralized finance came to the forefront. "Transitioning from a centralized system to one that's autonomous and governed by the community itself could mark the beginning of a new chapter in prosperity and equity," Abu reflected.

Azeem added, "Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, or DAOs, represent the next step in our evolution. By embracing this model, we foster a system where decisions are made collectively, ensuring that every voice is heard and every need addressed."

Acrollam enriched the conversation with their perspective, "The road to adopting a DAO model is indeed complex. There are intricacies involved in ensuring security, consensus mechanisms, and equitable participation. It's natural that project targets could slip forward a few notches of time."

"This seems to be the piece W.H. wanted to know about and Ezio could deliver to him, so please take note," Ethan whispered to Aisling. It became evident that the transition to a DAO structure was at the heart of the delays they were experiencing.

As the group continued their discussions with the Council, Azeem interrupted – "Before we proceed further, there's one more critical matter to your query. Access to the room housing the Nexus Point is currently governed by the newly implemented DAO. And at this time, for lack of other fair methods, the DAO has devised a unique method to grant access—it requires solving riddles."

Aisling, taken aback, responded, "Riddles? That’s an unusual approach. I suppose it ensures only those truly committed can gain access."

Swan, rubbing his hands together asked, "What kind of riddles are we talking about here?"

Abu answered, "The riddles are custom designed to test each of your wits and understanding like a captcha, to make sure there's no dark shapeshifting going on. Are you ready to face the challenge?"

The group exchanged determined looks, nodding in unison. Acrollam then presented the first riddle, "I operate where 0 can be 1, harnessing the dance of particles unseen. With my power, I solve in seconds what takes others centuries. What am I?"

Swan, after a moment's thought, exclaimed, "Quantum computation!"

Acrollam smiled warmly. "Correct. Well done, Swan."

Azeem, clearly enjoying the process, offered the second riddle, "You will always find me in the past. I can be created in the present, but the future can never taint me. What am I?"

Ethan, with a spark of realization, replied, "History!"

"Indeed, Ethan. Precisely," Azeem acknowledged with a nod to the young human.

The final riddle was posed by Abu, "I witness cosmic battles, orbit planets, and craft the ebb and flow of tides, marked by the scars of ancient impacts. What am I?"

Aisling, her eyes lighting up, declared, "A moon! C'mon. That one was easy."

Abu clapped his hands gently, "Excellent, Aisling. You've all passed."

The Council member gestured back towards the elevator area. "Your journey continues upward," he announced. "To Floor 100. The Nexus Point awaits you there." As the group ventured into the hallway, a realization suddenly dawned on Swan. "Wait... Floor 100. That reminds me. Ethan has the Lumina Key, but we are missing 10 artifacts," he announced, a tinge of worry in his voice. The group exchanged glances as they fumbled with the elevator switches. The quest for the yeye artifacts had been long and fraught with challenges, each artifact a step closer to their goal. The idea that they were short of the complete set... was a disheartening setback.

Ethan tried to lighten the mood. "Maybe they're just really good at hiding. You know, like the ultimate game of cosmic hide and seek?" Aisling looked to be pondering Swan's concern more deeply. It was then that Javi, the Lynx Luminary who had greeted them at the headquarter's entrance, approached on a screen inside of the elevator with an air of solemnity. "The Council has been made aware of your predicament regarding the yeye," Javi began, capturing their full attention. "They must inform you that 10 of the artifacts were destroyed in an unfortunate blunder, accidentally being sent to the burn address. This information was kept from the general knowledge to prevent any panic or despair among those involved in the collection process."

The revelation hit them like a wave. But then, Javi continued, "However, it's important to note that the original count of 100 artifacts was based on the total created. With 10 being no longer recoverable, the DAO has recalibrated the requirement as 90, now representing 100% necessary to access Earth. The Council recognizes your efforts and considers your collection complete."

Swan's eyes widened in astonishment. The journey had been so focused on the accumulation of the artifacts, and on reaching that elusive total, that the possibility of already having enough never crossed his mind.

Swan clapped Ethan on the back, a broad grin spreading across his face. "Looks like the universe had a shortcut in mind for us after all. Who knew? It seems our next step is clear. We prepare for Earth. There are so many things I want to experience there... starting with trying out an actual corndog at a baseball game," he said with a chuckle.

Aisling's expression turned somber. "Ethan," she began softly, revealing a depth of emotion seldom seen. "I've always longed to experience Earth in a real body and feel what that's like." Her words were more than just a statement; they were a confession of a desire long suppressed under layers of duty and responsibility. It was a moment of vulnerability, as she shared her deep longing with Ethan, her closest companion.

Caught up in his excitement about Earth, the Core, Swan's smile faltered as he sensed the shift in mood. A wave of embarrassment washed over him when he realized he hadn't considered Aisling's feelings. Though quickly regaining her composure, Aisling said, "But Swan, he wants more than just a visit. He could live there and be part of Earth's story. The Labyrinths are my home," she said, her gaze dropping to the floor.

Ethan, taken aback by Aisling's selflessness, felt a tug at his heart. "This isn't easy, Aisling," he confessed, his voice heavy with uncertainty. "Are you sure about this?" He understood the magnitude of her sacrifice and the impact it would have on them all. The thought of parting ways filled him with a profound sense of loss, compounded by the knowledge that while he might return to the Labyrinths, she would not have the freedom to leave.

"I'll miss you more than words can say, in a form that we will never know." Ethan continued, his voice catching in his throat. "But this isn't goodbye, not really." He held Aisling tightly, as if trying to imprint her presence into his memory, the weight of their farewell hanging heavily in the air. The vision of Swan and himself journeying to Earth while Aisling remained behind in the Labyrinths felt heavy, but Ethan recognized that Aisling's safety and well-being were paramount. He wouldn't want her to become mortal. He wanted her to live forever.

Meanwhile, Swan had deeply expressed wanting to become mortal. It was a desire that Ethan struggled to understand fully, yet he respected Swan's determination. And with his organizational talents, Swan would ensure the completion of the New Renaissance download—a task Ethan's father would have hoped for. Without it, the worlds would suffer.

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