28 October 2023

The Great Wheel of the Far North (GLoGtober 7 '23)

Last of Glass Candles GLoGtober '23, challenge #7 is from their own list - "A post about a weird train." Here endeth my run at GLoGtober for 2023!

The technologies of the Forge clan are misunderstood. Outsiders think their discussions of agitating water and fire elementals by proximity to one another are their crude ways of describing steam technologies. In fact it is more like 'cats-in-a-sack' drive.

The pinnacle of their works is the Great Wheel. A towering framework, a pyramid on sleds with a roaring, spinning disk in the centre. Within the disk, an unlikely prize - a fire elemental that is fascinated by artifice and adores clambering around inside the labyrinth within the disk. The outside of the disk is grooved with treads that bites into the glaciers and tundra and hurls the train along.

Behind are great sleds with lesser sleds and wagons tied down under rickety frames on which catch dries, travellers loaf and sight-seers perch for the view. The Great Wheel grinds along throughout the year, shuttling nomadic communities around on the great ice-fields, bringing fishers from the rivers to the sea, herdsmen across the tundra and above all towing the workshops and stores of the clan in an endless trading circuit.

The Great Wheel itself is attended by a dedicated group of artificers from the Forge clan, some old conjuring hands who commune with the fire elemental, danger-addicts who maintain the ever-spinning parts, and apprentices come to learn from the others at this culmination of their craft.

The train is a perpetual nomads conclave, the default seat of government of the Forge clan since more likely than not the largest concentration of the clan elders will probably be on-board at any given time.

d6 groups onboard just now
1. forge mages with acolytes and arcane equipment
2. skimmer crews with their ice-sleds
3. herdsfolk with their herd
4. nomads with dwellings, packbeasts, families
5. workers and crafters, processing some of the cargo in transit
6. dungeon-divers with packs of equipment en route to a site

The Great Wheel descends on a location like an anteater come to a nest, disgorging tribesfolk and warrior bands, cracking open dungeons, uprooting wizard towers and breaching fortresses that what lies within can be hauled out and carried away back to the icefields.

d6 raw plunder being carried
1. raiders with hand-carried winnings from raids
2. a whole ship, dragged from the sea
3. a mine, dismantled
4. quarried materials, for a new fortress
5. a great beast, being butchered and rendered down on the move
6. a wizards tower, wrenched whole from it foundations

It is said with some encouragement the spirit of the wheel can do more than simply drive it. Witnesses say they have seen it form a great humanoid shape and fling things - barrels of pitch, rocks and even grappling hooks to drag things to it. Mostly those who witness this and live to tell the tale recall the unnerving joyful yells of the creature, cheery 'yaaahhhgs' ringing our across the tundra as it visits chaos wherever it has arrived.

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