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Library: Kara the tinkerer.

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Author: ewige
Date:Aug 21 2011

Once upon a time, in a village deep in a mountain valley, lived a tribe of
elves.  These were an industrious group of elves, long ago having been cut off
from civilization by the high mountains surrounding them.  A large lake high
on the mountain top, spilled down in a long stream, providing fresh water and
fish to the residents of the valley.  This enabled the elves to maintain a
completely self-sufficient society.  Most of the elves, being a long-lived
race, remembered the world outside the valley, and had no desire to ever
leave.  However, amongst the elves was a young orphan named Kara.  This is her
story.

Kara had been a single child of a reclusive couple who lived at the far end of
the valley.  Her parents had the dubious honour of being the guardians of the
irrigation system that directed the water from the lake to the crops
throughout the rest of the valley.  While this was an incredibly important
job, as it almost never rained in the valley, it was also a fairly foul job. 
Living almost underneath the waterfall left everything covered in mold and
mildew.  Cloth would rot within weeks.  Hanging the laundry out to dry was
nigh impossible.  The spray from the waterfall covered almost the entire
back-end of the valley.  

Since the time the elves moved in, they had set up an enormous brass collector
system at the bottom of the waterfall to provide water to the surrounding
farms.  Elves are not overly partial to mining per se, and as such, the
collector system was created to last, in rust-proof brass.  But, as with all
things, nothing lasts forever.  Over the years, the amount of copper sulphide
and sheer erosion from the water falling on the brass works had taken its
toll.  The occasional breakage in the pipes would result in either flooding
and ruin of crops, or the water flowing out of the valley through an
underground river, causing massive drought, and the ruin of crops.  After a
few such incidents, it was decreed by the village elders, that one family must
be stationed at the collector in order to instantiate instant repairs for the
survival of all.  It was to the couple chosen as the collector watchers, that
Kara was born.

Growing up, far in the valley from the rest of the elves her age, Kara spent
her childhood years with her father, as he tinkered and repaired the
collector, learning all there was to know about brass-works.  One of the first
things she learned, was that there was no more brass to be had.  With all the
passes in the mountains long closed up, there were no new materials for
maintenance.  Any time something went wrong, shortcuts had to be taken, making
the infrastructure more and more precarious.  Her father, seeing the end
result of continuing down this road made a trip to the village to explain the
situation to the elders.

Kara had never left their house at the far end of the valley and was
incredibly excited to see the rest of the valley.  The trip took the better
part of two days to get there.  Arriving just as the sun rose,  Kara was
enthralled with the sights and sounds of the village.  The villagers however,
were less than enthralled with her.  Whereas Kara knew only the life of
working with brass, and constant water, the clothes of her family were thick
ugly leathers, to withstand the heat of melting down old pipes and forming new
ones.  The thick leather typically was greenish in colour from the mold that
grew with the combination of heat and water the so pervaded their existence. 
Her hair was tied back in two buns on top of her head to keep it from singing
on molten brass.  Her head, normally covered in a think leather hat to keep
her hair from rotting, was removed for the outing, showing her almost black
hair, caused from a lifetime of darkness, foreign amongst the fair-haired
elves.

Subjected to ridicule, not only from the youth of the village, but also from
the careless housewives with no thought to the feelings of others, what should
have been a visit from those who were entrusted with the safety of the
village, were instead mocked and belittled.  Treated at best as unwelcome
curiosities, they made their way to the council chambers.

The next few hours, while her father was in council, trying to convince the
elders of the direness of their situation, she was left outside on a small
wooden bench, the object of a village lacking in entertainment for decades. 
It was at this moment that Kara decided she had to leave this valley at any
cost.

The council heeded the words of her father, and magically contacted a gnomish
village not too far distant.  Beseeching the gnomes for aid, an agreement was
met, whereby the gnomes, would visit in a flying machine, to deliver some
brass, in exchange for various goods and services from the elves.  

Their business concluded, Kara and her father left the village to return home.
 Upon this return journey, Kara expressed her displeasure at the treatment and
lack of respect given from the village to whom they worked daily to protect. 
She harangued her father incessantly until he finally spoke and explained to
her that the good of the many out weighed the good of the one; that not all
the villagers were mean or small minded, but should they fail in their task,
all would suffer, even the innocent. He went on to say however, that as the
gnomes were coming in a flying ship, if she was so unhappy here, she was more
than welcome to leave with the gnomes.  Seizing upon that idea, Kara was in
fine spirits for the remainder of the trip and counted down the days till the
arrival of the gnome airship.

The day of the arrival of the airship, things turned from bad to worse.  While
she stood outside, scanning the skies for a sign of a majestic ship, she did
not for even a moment, anticipate the sheer speed, with which a gnomish
airship, caught on fire by a lightning strike, could plummet from the skies in
a bee-line towards her house.  Within moments, several tons of red-hot brass,
several burning gnome-corpses, two dead parents, and some burning lumber were
all that was left of her family, her home, and her ticket out of the valley.

While Kara was reasonable distraught, and perhaps put out of sorts by the
ordeal, she was not without focus.  Without home or family, she had no reason
to stay whatsoever.  Although not familiar with the wood and cloth airships of
the gnomes, she was quite familiar with water and hot brass, and the idea of
making a steam powered vehicle to cross over the mountain range took hold of
her mind.  She knew she only had two days at most before somebody from the
village was sent to bring the goods for the gnomes and find out what happened.
 She planned on being long gone by then.

Using all the skill she learned from her father, she fashioned a simple brass
boiler from the brass lying about in the wreckage.  working without fail
through the night, she salvaged a wooden propeller from the remains of the
airship, creating hastily crafted gears from spare pipe pieces, she fashioned
herself a serviceable craft.  The craft consisted of an oven containing
enchanted magma, forever burning hot, a tank of water suspended above, to
store the water to generate the steam over the magma.  This was then captured
in an enclosure, and funneled out through pipes towards a fly-wheel, pushed by
the steam pressure, turning the massive airship propeller, now mounted
horizontally above a chair attached to two skids.

Unfortunately for Kara, she was quite good with brass and steam, but not so
good with aerodynamics or aeronautical engineering.  Although the craft didn't
have to travel far to cross the mountains, it did have to get enough power to
break inertia and gain enough momentum to pass over the mountain range.  Two
aborted test flights quickly made her realize, that the amount of water
necessary to power her craft over the mountains, was also so heavy, that she
would need more water to fuel her craft enough to lift the sheer weight of the
heavy brass and copious amounts of water.

Thoroughly disappointed and dejected, she sat upon her erstwhile flying
machine and stared in disgust at the village water collector and reservoir,
contemplating her future as a thrall to village she didn't care for, nor them
for her.  When she struck upon an idea most fine.  By running a few hoses from
the reservoir to her craft, she would be able to break the inertial barrier
with her initial load of water, and have a few moments to drain more water
into her tank as she gained altitude, giving her the extra needed fuel to
reach the crest of the mountains.

Putting her plan into action, though risky, she was able to successfully raise
her craft to the edge of the mountain peaks, before landing heavily onto the
snow capped mountain top.  Her craft, now useless resting before her, she
leaned over it, staring down into the valley as the sun rose on the 2nd day,
lighting the arrival of the elves from the village.  Having witnessed the
flight upwards of the strange brass craft, the elves were scanning the
mountain tops looking for it.  She quickly backed away, pushing backwards off
her craft, accidentally causing the craft to slide over the side of the
mountain.  Watching in horror, she saw her craft tumble downwards, careening
off the sides of the mountain, smashing to pieces, until the main boiler tank
crashed into the reservoir, obliterating the walls of the cistern, and causing
a torrential flood, that quickly washed away the elven delegates and all they
had with them.  Kara watched in growing joy as the tide of water spread
outwards, flooding the valley and destroying all the crops of those she'd come
to dislike.  Turning her back on the now extinct elven village, she adjusted
her welding goggles on her forehead, tossed her leather cap aside, and started
her walk down the mountain to see the world outside the valley for the first
time.


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