The railroad in Vanter - year 67
Alan Kenzie came to Rivertown as a young teen with Perkin's construction team back in Year 12, as a response to a letter written by Dan McElvaney, one of the original founders of Rivertown. In Year 21 he was assigned to work the lava fields as one of a set of rotating forgemen. He liked it there so much he built a house and married a mountain girl, settling down to be the official keeper of the Vanter Forgeworks. However, just in the valley beyond the bend of the river, another mountain man was already making his claim - and he didn't want to give up! Alan battles for years against Adam Carlyle, a man of seemingly infinite energy and full of odd ideas.. but the place wouldn't have been the same without the both of them... Adam's innovation and Alan's steadfastness - have made Vanter the thriving community it is. And Adam's niece, Frannie - will take it even further into the Future....
Year 34 - A letter from Alan Kenzie, Vanter Forgeworks, to Joseph DeCroix, Sheriff of Rosered Iron Mining Community, delivered in the hand of Zari Dee.
I hate to write to you again about it, but I have had about enough of Adam Carlyle. Ever since he came down here from the Mountains, he has been a pain in my side, guess which one. First, he claims the Forgeworks are his own - and I am the usurper, and next he literally goes around like he owns everything here! McElvaney sent me here to do a job, and I'm trying, but he fights me at every turn. The man Carlyle is smart, I give him that - but I would have you arrest him in a heartbeat for some of the things he has done. If he wasn't now supporting his brother's wife and baby girl, I'd have you do it as soon as possible. I had hoped perhaps having them live here in town would give him a sense of belonging, too - but in fact it seems to have given him the idea that he can tinker anywhere he wants to in the town. He has built roads, added new pens for animals and even extended two of my roofs to 'better keep out the rain.
For the first complaint, he is using up any iron he finds to make these railway things - and putting them in front of my forge furnaces. We fight constantly about whose furnace is whose - and about access to the lava pits. He built his house on the other side of the river, and has completely blocked access to half of the lava pits. He wrote to Dan McElvaney and the Barracks Council claiming to be the sole owner of 'Carlyle Forge'.. and has put up signs. He also wrote to Kori Paltry to charter a guild here. Perhaps through the guild we can lay some sort of ground rules. He does highly value the idea of the post office, though - and has been giving me all of these messages to have carried. I believe he has written a few others in your town, as well, asking them to come join the guild and work in our mines.
In the meantime, I continue to run the post office through Vanter and have invited another Mountain man, Oaken Wright, to come and make his homestead here. Adam's sister-in-law is one of his cousins, and a shirt-tail relation to my wife, as well. Ora has pretty much thrown up her hands at him, though - says he is one of those that you can't tell what they'll do next. Oaken says a lot of the Mountaineers are moving down now that the trade has picked up, and especially the unconventional ones, like Adam and even himself. The Wright family is one of the largest in the Mountain Territories, from all the way at the top of Presentation, the highest mountain in the chain. Oaken says it is 'good for the blood' to move out into new territories, learn things and experiment with living in new areas. Perhaps with his understanding of the Mountain traditions, he can keep the peace with Carlyle, somewhat.
We are building a school and some extra housing between Inga Carlyle's house and the river. Adam keeps digging more and more fields and planting whatever seeds he can find. He says he doesn't want us to be caught out by a bad winter, and that there might be one coming. I don't understand what he is 'reading' in the water. Deep underground sometimes he will call me to a spring or pool and wait for me to see it, but I really can't tell what it is I should be looking for. It is a shame Branden died in the mining accident in Rivertown - he was a good and reasonable man, none of these experiments and premonitions. Adam is often not reasonable.. but he IS busy, and Vanter will benefit from his hard work if I can keep from strangling him over the little things. I asked Oaken if we could find him a wife and make him settle down some.. but the man laughed. He told me Luck herself probably wouldn't be able to keep up with him. I'm still trying to figure out what means, as well.
And that brings me to my second complaint. Adam has done a very good job at his farm collecting pigs, cows and sheep. However, he seems to think one sheep is as good as another, and has been 'trading' them back and forth between the pens here. He breeds them with wheat from any field that is within reach, and now the pens are full of black, grey, blue, red and yellow sheep! In a way it is good and in a way it is bad. This is another thing Oaken has tried to explain to both of us. In the mountains, the sheep run free and scatter wide. Here, we keep them penned up to keep them out of the lava pools and avoid tragedy. Every time I go to shear some wool a sheep runs out and I have to chase it. It is exhausting, to say the least.
It could all be solved by making a much larger pen somewhere outside the city - but then what will we do about the wolves? And what about lightning? We lost three sheep to lightning this year, just zapped and cooked mutton! Also, Adam lost three cows he had gathered from the forest when part of their pen was struck by lightning and they escaped in the night. He spent the better part of the next month hunting far and wide and finally has found two of them.
As for his taking produce out of the fields - he puts things back, carrots, potatoes and pumpkin seeds in the oddest of places. Again, in a way it is good, he calls it 'biodiversity' and that it ensures we will always have some of everything even if an area burns or is hit by a Creeper. However, at the same time it is also somewhat confusing to come out to your fields and find a mishmash of every sort of thing growing.
Yesterday morning I arrived at the post office to find a crudely drawn map on the wall, hung up in leather frames. I knew Adam had been there, and given his 'gift' to the town. He has been learning this mapping technique with Abe Hendricks up at Pennock Farm. One day, they say, everyone will have a map in their city - perhaps a map of the whole world. Now that the Earthquake has destroyed North City though, how much is there to map? If you have any suggestions for going forward, I would like to hear about them.
Postmaster, Vanter Forgeworks
village of Vanter, circa year 46
Risa Dee's banners for the Wright family and two for Thomas Claymore
There was no more blue dye to be found in the town, but there was some blue wool - so Risa made an approximation for the second banner, and unknowingly helped draw Frannie and Thomas together...
Part II : Year 54
Thomas Claymore, kilnmaster, letter to his father George Claymore, at Rosered
I have settled down in Vanter, after that meeting with Jorin Dee last month. He was so enthusiastic about his new home, and I can see why, well beyond the pretty girl he has settled down with and their two small children. Vanter is a forgemaker's dream - it lives up to the Legend we have been hearing in every way. There is simply fuel everywere, without cutting down trees or mining coal! If you have a whole stack of ore, or sand, or stone - just toss a bucket of lava in the furnace and come back after a good meal and it is finished!
Please tell Mother I have moved into a nice little house here across from the school, and it is tight from the weather. There is plenty of food here, and although the weather has been stormy, it has not caused us too much trouble in the mines. I have been down to the mineshaft Jory told me about, and it is the deepest structure I have ever seen. We have been pulling string, redstone and gold out of it, as well as bucket after bucket of lava. I can feel there must be a treasure chest down there somewhere, as well, but we have yet to find one.
Oaken, one of the miners here, found gold and over thirty pieces of iron just in the short time I have been here. I think Jorin has found more string than I have ever seen in the world. His wife, Risa, is Alan Kenzie's daughter. She has been making banners for each of the families here, from the plentiful wool and dyes in the area. Now you can stand from the road on the hill from Rosered and see which houses are the Kenzies, which the Dees, and which belongs to Wright.
She made two different but similar ones for me. I questioned this, but as soon as I had hung them up outside my door the girl next door was analyzing them and asking ME questions. She is such a curious thing. Her name is Frannie, and she is the niece of Adam Carlyle, who lives down the bay. You can see how alike they are - never stopping hardly for breath and always tinkering. I wish I could draw better to send you pictures of some of the things they have made here. Frannie has been collecting materials for something they call a 'railroad', and I have been pulling as much of the old rail out of the mineshaft for her as I can. She swears with a little redstone and gold we can make it work 'just like the ancient times'... long before the Earthquake, when people could push buttons and end up halfway across the world in minutes.
Adam has been cutting out the hillside to make room for his guildhall. When he mentioned secret tunnels and rooms I have to admit I was intrigued myself. Within a few days I found myself caught up in their plans, helping out and seriously enjoying myself. And when I turn around sometimes, the girl Frannie is staring at me. It feels like we are in on some secret joke, that is about to become even more. In fact, I think if she doesn't laugh in my face, I'm going to propose. I can't imagine a day without her. She has so many ideas, for the guild, for an inn, for the post office and maps and the World in general, I feel we could work on them every day and not get them all done. Wish me luck!
Inside Vanter Forgeworks Guildhall
Upstairs there are three bedrooms for students and a lounge/study area as well.. there is a private meeting room with a secret backdoor entrance and a hidden vault!
Inside Vanter Forgeman's Rest Tavern and Inn
Upstairs are three inn rooms, two single and one double. Behind the 'bar' there is a chest in the floor to store food and money in.
Part III : Year 67
Frannie Claymore writing to Marika Otrio, Porter Jackson School, Rivertown
I have made a successful test of the railroad! Please come down tomorrow and send your shipment via rail to Vanter. Once you send it, ring the bell, and I will hear it on my end. Iyaga Jackson says he will listen for the bell from our side, as he is the closest to the station.
Please also bring these updated maps to the Bank office on your next trip to see Mr. Pembry. He said he would never see the day the Vanter Highlands was mapped - but that day has come. I've taken Uncle Adam's drawings and added all of the changes over the years, including a bit of the Overmountains, sketched in by Ned Hendricks up at Pennock Farm.
There is another family that has moved up here, a man by the name of Garvey? I have no idea where his wife is from, she is unlike anyone I have ever seen. She has brought down some of the most intricate weavings, as well. Risa is in awe, and has been studying a few of Orna's banners that look just like animals. Erik says he was born East of Rivertown, and that his wife has come from the Far North. Just how far, I do not know. I also don't know how he manages with the cold and snow up there. I begin to freeze just as soon as I pass Pennock Farm, but together they have built a huge overlook in the mountains, partially inside the mountain itself. He boasts he can see halfway across the Bay, from the very top. Every time I see it I wonder if it can really be real, up there in the sky. Carl calls it 'the Sky Castle', and now he wants to build his own house up on a hill.
You asked if we have seen any Ender Men in the area? I will report we have not. The last time anyone could recall seeing one was a few years after the Fever - up by WestSea, standing in the hills as if they were watching for something. It was after we started the guildhall, but before Carl was born. I think they stayed there for several weeks, taking blocks of earth and stone in their 'hands' and disappearing with them. Luckily, no one was hurt and we kept the children away from them.
Alisa still thinks her son Hogan's strength has been sapped by them, somehow - or some remnant of the Fever that persists in the area. The poor boy can barely carry a thing - he is lucky to button his own clothes and walk from one house to another. It could be worse, though, Martin Thomas' daughter in Amularia is nearly fully grown and seems to be getting worse. If what you are seeking with your studies can help them it will be a miracle.
Once we get this railroad operating between the cities travel for trade and school will be so much faster. It is already hard for me to believe that we used to travel all the way around the lowlands to get to East Rivertown from here, when West Rivertown was straight across the gorge. Seeing the maps in Cod Bay helped me see it was possible - if only some safe road could be stretched across the air and a person sent along in a box they could not fall from one side to the other. Uncle Adam's works with the mine carts and Mr. Pembry's idea for putting a 'clock' inside a rail has inspired this new accelerator rail that I am using. You will see it when you push the button, how it lights up and then activates the cart to take off at great speed. Carl keeps asking if he will go to the University in the morning and be home by nightfall? I think that is very possible. In fact, I think if we could connect more cities in the coming years one person could travel from Cod Bay to WestSea in a single afternoon.
I do hope you can find what you are looking for in the North. I am sorry I cannot accompany you, perhaps when Carl is older. But truth be told, there might be another addition to our family before the year is out. I am not entirely certain yet, but all of the signs are there, again. I don't know if Thomas will be pleased or scared out of his wits. When I see the shipment tomorrow I will send back redstone and iron for your maps. Tell Porter I will deposit what is left of his gold, split 50/50 with Oaken, as they were both equal investors, in the Cod Bay bank, but up until then it will be held in the Guildhall vaults, as I have not been one for travelling as of late.
Frannie Carlyle Claymore
Frannie's improvements on the maps in the post office, showing both the 'old road' to the East and her new railroad South to Rivertown, as well...
Vanter Forgeworks town in Year 67
Clayton (Clay) Claymore is born in Year 68, to Frannie and Thomas Claymore. Carl, their first son, was was born in Year 57
Original Story : 'McElvaney Enterprises', c. 2020 Marie Lamb