Brilliant orange sparks flew from a yellow-stained chimney at the front of the engine, along with a great, thunderous clapping sound that announced that the great iron machine had finally come to life. This was the beginning of a new era.Trains are revolutionary magicmechanical vehicles which can outpace most living beings within Umqwam. They are quickly and dramatically changing the world as they connect settlements and even far off nests.
Trains rely on ool engines to operate. Ool, being heavily spirit-infused stone, is repelled by patternbelts. A circular cut of ool is then placed within an enclosed metal ring. A ward, attached to a lever, will then be pushed into the ring, causing the ool to be repelled and move to the other side of the ring— where it encounters the ward again and returns, repeating this cycle until the stone is worn away. As ool is fragile, tiny chips will fly off when it is quickly repelled in this fashion. A slit on the ring's top allows for these chips to escape, as allowing them to remain will only speed up the stone's wear— this is where the signature "sparks" from an engine's chimney originate. The ring will rock back and forth as it operates, allowing for a series of hinged cylinders attached to its sides to turn a collection of wheels at the bottom of the engine. These wheels are grooved so that they can follow tracks laid for them.
Beasts of Iron
As trains were invented in Vitaw, library cars— containing rows of guarded bookshelves, and research cars— quiet spaces full of paper, pens, and some equipment— are common as well.
Only two operators are needed to occupy the engine, allowing for one to safely see to the engine or rest as the other keeps an eye out for danger. As such, there is only a small cabin with a small opening allowing access to the engine. A lever allows the operators to push and pull the ward out to any degree they require— giving them the ability to adjust the speed of the train. A second can be used to pull down a metal bar over the engine car's wheels— stopping it quickly in emergencies. A headlight sits in the front, comprised of a magical light and a reflective backing to strengthen its brightness. At the back of the engine is a sturdy iron hook, which can be used to attach cars behind it. Above the cabin rests a large bell, which is attached to a rope that leads inside the cabin.
At the back of the engine car is an upwards hook, over which a ring at the front of another car can be attached— allowing it to be pulled by the engine. These extra cars, in turn, have hooks at their ends— allowing for a great number of others to be attached and pulled along. Larger engines are required for longer trains, however. Extra cars can be of many different designs, and used for a variety of purposes. Most common among these are cargo— simple boxes with sliding side-facing doors— and passenger— more elaborate, containing seating and windows, accompanied by dining cars for long trips. These are then painted in a variety of colors— most commonly green, as that pigment is the most readily available in Vitaw. Cars used by the Qatiip will often sport liveier details.
Ease of transport for both people and goods, opening work to people from farther away, connecting and allowing for far off farmland, mines, and settlements— trains have touched and changed so much of Umqwam in just a short while.
A New World
The connection of far-off settlements proved a great boon for their information network, and the number of essays produced within the studious nation increased dramatically— doubling within only the first year. The Qatiip in Yowan— the first (and so far only) nest to be connected by rail to the home nest of Vitaw— saw opportunity for entertainment. It is not uncommon to find one riding a train for the simple pleasure of doing so. So many had attempted to climb atop passenger cars that special open-roofed two-floor cars were created to sate their appetite for thrills. Bandits throughout Umqwam see trains as moving targets— golden opportunities just waiting to be picked off. Some even set up camps alongside railways for quicker access— something that has led to saawkamut commonly being hired as protection.
Reactions to these revolutionary vehicles as they spread throughout the world are as varied as the people that experience them. The people of Vitaw met trains with overflowing enthusiasm— to the point where the first line had to be shut down after a particularly curious man had tried to hold on to the underside of the engine car.
I just had to see how it worked!
Not all have greeted the new mode of transport with open arms, however. The Kuqatay — a splinter group from the long past war-filled days of Vitaw— destroyed a line that had been offered as a gift of friendship, despite allowing its construction in the first place.
Others, such as the Sotikaaput see the contraptions as an assault on tradition and reason— and have outlawed the construction of tracks on their soil. Regardless of whether they are accepted by all or not— they are here to stay in Umqwam.
Walkin' does yer body good, you ain't gettin' exercise on a train are ya?
OpportunityTrains, being great, expensive machines, are seen as ripe targets for bandits and Ootii raiders. As a result, saawkamut are commonly hired to protect them, with some becoming permanent residents.
My heart stops when I ain't movin'.
Rails & StationsMost railways are constructed by Vitaw engineers— hoping to broaden their network of information. Some will continue to maintain them— especially within their own borders— but foreign governments will often take control of those within their own lands. These tracks are built of long 6"-1' tall iron strips which are connected every five feet with a wood or stone crossbeam that the tracks are bolted into. At crossroads, forks, and other diverging paths, tracks will include magically-activated mechanisms for changing direction.
Train stations have become community hubs wherever they have been built, with numerous people coming and going throughout each day. As places where foreigners may first set eyes upon one's nation— one may wish to make a good first impression. Some stations have become architectural marvels, such as the famous Great Egg. Naturally, those trading food, or goods such as travel-ready bags, or even fake tickets spring up around them. Entire towns have even sprung from a station's construction, in some cases.