1712 Kingsmouth Fire Edit
In the autumn of 1712, a great fire ravaged Kingsmouth and destroyed many of the township's buildings. The flames spread quickly - explosively - throughout the harbour and up to town.
A year before the fire, a stranger had broken into Solomon Priest's old house and tried to steal confidential Illuminati files. He was caught and dragged out of town screaming insults and curses against the Illuminati and its members. This stranger was an unknown element; the secret organisation had taken no chances and decided to keep an eye on him for a while.
After his eviction from Kingsmouth, Illuminati agents had followed cautiously as he moved south from town to town along the coast, then towards the Spanish colonies. They eventually lost track of him and abandoned the pursuit.
When the arson investigators learned of this man they were already grasping at straws. He was as good a clue as any; like bloodhounds, they set out to recover the stranger's trial.
Sure enough, people in nearby colonies and townships told stories of a foul tempered and arrogant stranger by the name of Beaumont who had passed by a year before. He had told anyone who'd listen about the "bastards up in Kingsmouth who had banished me twice for no reason!" He had even promised that, some day, he would get his revenge.
The reference to being banished twice baffled the investigators. This fellow wasn't very old and few people had ever been thrown out of town. Yet, elder members of the secret society knew of a man called Beaumont who had been in Kingsmouth four decades past, a man who had shown an invasive interest in the Illuminati and their knowledge of the occult.
Clearly, there was more to this Beaumont than first met the eye. It suddenly became all the more imperative to find him.
It was only by chance that they did. Several weeks after the fire, one of the investigators who had tracked Beaumont in 1711 saw a man who resembled the elusive stranger among those clearing debris in the charred ruins. He made it look like he was helping, but closer observation gave him away. Beaumont was looking for something.
It seemed he had stayed in Kingsmouth after setting the town ablaze - after watching the destruction, suffering and chaos he had caused. In their midst, he had watched insolently as the investigators scurried from one cul-de-sac to another.
Only minutes after spotting him, several of the Illuminati's most powerful men hurried to apprehend him. This time he wouldn't be dragged out of town, but straight to the gallows.
But Beaumont slipped out of their hands once again. It was like he vanished into thin air; no one knew where he went. All their efforts had been in vain and the last laugh was his, not the Illuminati's. Weeks went by, but there was no trace of the stranger and eventually the town council had to give up the chase.
The dead would not be avenged, the unknown man would not be found, and eventually the memory of his name would be buried beneath the decades that went by since the great fire. However, it was not the last anyone heard of Beaumont, though more than a hundred years would pass before he resurfaced in Kingsmouth again.
At first, they were - as always - quick to blame the Templars, claiming their arch rivals were disgruntled by the power and influence the Illuminati had obtained on the new continent. The Templars reacted with outrage and denied any involvement.
For a while, tensions between the two organisations ran higher than normal. The Illuminati used both magical and conventional ways of searching for anything that could pin the blame on their nemesis, but no manner of investigation produced any solid evidence.
Next, they looked within, scrutinising every new adept or anyone who had caused them trouble in the recent past. After searching tediously through whatever archives and town records that remained, they finally found something.
But the normal citizens of Kingsmouth cared little for the tragedies of the Illuminati. Friends and family were dead, their homes were in ashes and everything they owned was gone from this world. The deceased weren't even put in holy ground, but buried near town, in a mass grave. Kingsmouth was completely unprepared for such a devastating event. The people screamed for justice and demanded it be meted out immediately. So long as someone - anyone - was punished, they could go on with their lives.
Eager to calm the angry mob, the town officials quickly found two harbour workers guilty of arson and hanged them from the gallows in the town square. They were not locals, they had no family and neither of them was particularly clever. Considered expendable, they were used as scapegoats.
While the public outcry was stifled by the conviction, the Illuminati covertly continued the investigation to find the real perpetrator.
All key structures, such as the church, the town hall, the tavern, the wharf and most of the housing, burnt to the ground or were severely damaged. On top of that, many men, women and children perished in the flames or from the thick, noxious smoke.
In the aftermath, several people claimed to have seen a man - maybe two - throw burning torches into a harbour warehouse, then flee the scene. Seconds later, the flames engulfed the docks and spread like wildfire.
The town council, and therefore the Illuminati, was convinced this was an attack aimed specifically at them. After all, Kingsmouth was a town built by and for the organisation, and the majority of the damaged buildings were either very important to the Illuminati or the personal property of its members. Archives of important documents - secret documents - were reduced to cinders and invaluable occult artifacts were lost forever.