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For three years it was the greatest invention of the modern age.

And then?

Well, then it started a world war.
Foundry, in its early days, represented something incredible. It was the product of some of the greatest young minds, from the greatest young nations of the world, all working together. It would prove to the rest of the globe that they had moved on, were creating things now instead of destroying them, and it was a shining, thrilling invention that would persuade the world into forgetting about both nations' past atrocities.

Even more, it was the pioneer bridging of a long-stood, festering gap between Ethana and Beourjen. A transcontinental railway system would further trade and integration between the two and both nations welcomed it, albeit tentatively. In 1514 Beourjen's High Commander Alexei Duxtour declared that Foundry would 'change the world, and bring about new and stronger relations between our countries'.

Premature declarations seldom age well.

The Coalition

The development represented a turn for both nations in their students chosen for the project as well. Of the two Ethanian students Wesley Marghen was Cravven, his family originating from the Imperium. Ethana during this time still held some prejudices against Cravven families in general, and so his being chosen for the project represented a step forward from said prejudices.

On the Beourjen side, Lennik Balassar invoked the Brickard rites upon being chosen for the project. The original agreement for the coalition was that it would be composed of two citizens from each nation; Balassar was able to circumvent this with the argument that Leidevelt, his assistant and for whom he invoked the rites, was not a full citizen. Duxtour, whose House and finances were mutually dependent on Balassar's, had no choice but to oblige. Thus the project became a mark of orvon integration into Beourjen society as well.
While there had been a more primitive version of the steam engine locomotive already developed by the Aveaan Empire, Foundry's initial claim to fame was that its speed outranked that of a horse; the fastest method of travel at the time, and still today in most areas. Foundry had an average speed of 46 mph and could reach upwards of 65 mph going east down the side of Mount Finnison in the Traddeck Mountains.
by midjourney

The Foundries

The students were given financing to set up space wherever they wanted, and to both their leaders' chagrin, they chose a mold-ridden, dilapidated warehouse in Ethaeras' foundry district. Ultimately, the railway's freightlines would begin only two blocks from this warehouse and so their choice proved to be a sound decision; at the time it was widely regarded as frivolous.

Rising Tensions

The issues regarding Foundry and the transcontinental railway as a whole boil down to a few interlacing factors: ownership, taxation, and the legality of arcanists. It began initially as an issue with transportation taxation itself—Ethana was taxing Beourjen passengers and making a higher profit off the passenger railway—which then extended to dispute over Ethana's use of arcanists in relation to the railway.

The conflict morphed into a series of destructive retaliations between both sides over the next few years, from increased policing by the Beourjens to Ethana drastically inflating their export prices to Beourjen accusing them of stealing and claiming disproportionate ownership of the railway. It finally reached a head in early 1517 when Foundry No. 4 left Ethaeras Station carrying an Ethanian army regiment.

Storm and spectral arcanists were brought on to increase Foundry's speed and efficiency. They were effective and popular with the Ethanians, but expensive, and speeding the trains up even further than they already ran proved to be perilous.

Foundry No. 4 was used primarily for freight, and on this occasion was supposed to be delivering long-delayed shipments of coal to the city of Chamberv. Many of the city's factory owners and such had come to the station for the train's arrival to sort out inventory and delay reimbursements, and the unexpected busyness at the station turned what Ethana had intended to be an ambushing but controlled siege into an all-out slaughter.

The Explosion

Duxtour declared war on Ethana the following day, however Foundry would remain at the Chamberv station for the first four months of the war. The following spring, another regiment arrived at Chamberv station on Foundry No. 3. About half of the initial regiment stationed at Chamberv took No. 4 back along the freight line to Ethaeras.

In the year before the war began Beourjen had executed approximately a hundred arcanists, both fugitive passengers and those employed by Ethana. Knowing the Ethanians would eventually take the freightline back, they had piled all the bodies on the tracks near the Traddeck Mountains, and in one of the howling blizzards that often wracked the area, the Ethanians aboard Foundry didn't see the pile of bodies until it was too late.

The nature of the explosion itself isn't entirely understood, but the arcanium frozen within the bodies reacted when the train hit and caused an explosion that could be heard as far as Chamberv. The wreckage itself was buried in an ensuing avalanche caused by the explosion, and Foundry No. 4 still remains there.
Ethaeras Foundy No. 4

Power/Fuel Type
Build Date
2-4-0 tank
Ethaeras University and BC Academie Railway Coalition
Plia Corser
Flynn Tavidera
Lennik Balassar
Wesley Marghen
Foundry was designed by a team of five university students after Beourjen High Commander Duxtour approached Adarius Tiergarn IV about a possible railway project that would run directly from one capital to the other. It was an ambitious and expensive endeavor especially for the BC after the arcanic purges—this is perhaps why Duxtour approached Tiergarn in the first place—but it would provide myriad benefits to both nations' economies once completed.

The Train

The students designed Foundry with surprising ease over the brief course of a summer, and it was in service by Calyprii of that year. Construction of the railway itself had begun months earlier and had finished four weeks prior in Auraet. By the end of that year six trains had been manufactured, carrying both passengers and freight between the capitals.

The Beourjen-Ethanian War
Military Conflict | Jul 3, 2022

Traddeck Mountains
Even before Ethana brought arcanists on to influence the trains, the section of railway just north of the Traddeck Mountains was hazardous. Strong winds would berate the sides and there was limited to no visibility at any hour of the day. Hailstorms and avalanches are common there especially in late winter; bringing arcanium use into play was only a lure for more chaos. In those first three years before the war, two of the original Foundry trains were destroyed by riskiness on the Ethanians' part. This section of the railway does still see occasional use, but necessary precautions are more heavily enforced.

I was drafted in, hmm, Jzaavret? Ostlaet, maybe? And the train wasn't running publicly at that point, but they had us soldiers take No. 6 down to Chamberv. That was the one train the Confederacy had ended up with at the start of the war.

What sick irony it was to sit in that train and see the smoking ruins of Chamberv.
— Kestern Leidevelt

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Cover image: by Unknown Author


Author's Notes

I know nothing about trains but I did my best.

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