Mana Powered Mine Carts
Off the Rails
Deep under the Onyx Valley Ruins are long buried tunnels and unstable paths. A decade ago these tunnels were unstable and no one wanted to go through them. These days the paths are mostly clear and the tunnels are well supported through mundane and magical means.
Most importantly the floors have been cleared and smoothed for the use of mana powered mine carts. These carts don't need rails like standard carts and propel themselves down the tunnels, guided by a driver.
These carts began life as regular vehicles drawn by horses, but were modified through the use of magic to be able to propel themselves and power flames to light the way in the dark underground spaces. A young mage was responsible for creating these wonderous vehicles and she is also credited with helping in the enormous task of reinforcing and fixing the tunnels for the carts to travel in.
Originally intended to be pulled by horses or donkeys the carts were lowered through a hole in the ruins called the Drop In. The first horses that were lowered showed some of the fatal flaws in the well intentioned plan: the horses were terrified of the process to get down to the tunnel entrances, and wouldn't go into the dark abyss even when asissted by torch light.
The mage went away and pondered on the problem before returning and spent days drawing runes on the carts and brewing alchemical solutions to pour on the carts. She started with 10 and ended up with 2 working models.
The resources and time required to make these carts seem to be a large investment, but it's easily made because of the value of cargo they will carry: people. The main tunnel under the ruins extends an impressive distance north, under a mountain range and intersects with the Helmfirth Mines. These mines are home to hundreds of haldae forced to labour in the depths for the kingdom of Argentia. The tunnels were reinforced and the carts were crafted to rescue these people and take them to freedom and safety.
Along with the main tunnel are decoy tunnels that are rigged with traps to discourage anyone from trying to follow the carts back to their origins. Where the Onyx Ruin tunnels intersect with the Helmfirth Mines is also disguised under several layers of runic magic held together with a large mana stone.
Onyx Valley Ruins
Located in a valley surrounded by tall mountains and forests, the Onyx Valley Ruins are named for their dark towers and black crumbling walls. Most people steer clear of it, but there are rumours of activity in the ruins. Stories tell of ghosts and monsters that call the ruins home like similar loctions in Costrus. However, the truth might be less frightening than these baseless rumours...
Apparently she tried everything to make 'em not need fuel but one experiment almost levelled the entire ruins. It would have been impressive if it hadn't been so destructive.
There's plenty of grave thistles around here, so that's what we use to make the fuel. The recipe is simple and the carts are really efficient, but you need to make sure there's enough fuel to get you there and back and extra just in case the load is heavier than expected.
Marsin is the worst driver, he goes too fast and he's reckless with his fuel consumption...but, he does more trips in a year than anyone else, and rescues more of our kind than I think any of us ever expected to save.
The driving is pretty easy, you use the lever on the left to control your speed. Use the reins, yes I know there's no horses just trust me on this, you use the reins like there is a horse and it controls the left and right. The torches and lanturns along the way light up along the way, I'm not sure how that works, but it does, so just follow the lanturns. If the tunnel goes dark stop, and press this button here. It'll open a communication channel with the Drop In and we'll send out a rescue cart. Just don't stress too much, you'll do a few months of supervised trips before we send you out on your own.