Going into the bowels of the crystal spars, you finally come upon what has been called the Goblin Engine, the Great Furnace, the Low Road. If you were less mechanickally inclined you might mistake it for a living thing, a dragon—it lies serpentine, coiled in circles, thick as houses but belching heat & fire. Instead, you are left to marvel at the hubris & skill of the goblins. If it were our world, you might call it a locomotive, but of ludicrous scale. There is nearly five miles of mismatched cars—some bristle with cannons, muzzles the size of your head; others are little more than cages, packed with goblins, squeezed like sardines. Others are palaces build of teakwood & glitter. Scattered about are many, many furnaces, trailing supply cars; this one has spires like a cathedral going a hundred cubits into the air, full of smashed stained glass, & behind it are cars full of smoking rocks. At the front there is a propeller, & behind that a car of tubes & glass, feeding black oil to it. The rear has seven haphazardly placed rocket nozzles farting repulsive steam, & they are feeding cords of wood, bones, books into a boiler for it. Goblins scurry about it, some tied on by cords of rope, others not, & even as you watch some are yanked away by their cords as a car jumps in its tracks, others are smashed between. Life is not just cheap among the goblins, it is freely spent as well.
The structure you are berthed in is like a tulip of hide. A wagon when it first was in use perhaps a hundred years ago, the wheels have been knocked off & replaced with sleigh treads, grooved with the rails. The roof is open, & each of the folds of leather can be moved like a petal, allowing you to be open to the world, or to serve as a roof. There is a fire pit, little more than a bucket shoved in a hole in the floor. Next to it stands another bucket of logs wrapped in paper, smelling strongly of chemicals. There are no cabins, but there are piles of cornhusks & blankets, not too coarsely used. It is only after some time in the rudely canvassed tent that you realize the support struts are not wood but terribly ancient & discoloured bones, & that the sleigh treads you saw were massive tusks.
Your stomach lurches as the Goblin Engine begins to move with a terrible, constant speed. Outside a din of hammering & whistling, of wheels & slides on metal, of clicking & clacking & furious works never lets you forget where you are, as if you could. The barks, squaks, & screams of goblins is forever plaguing you, as is the flapping, scampering sound of their bodies as they swarm back & forth across your car at odd hours.
The journey takes but four days. Usually, when you unfurl the flaps of the yurt, petal-like, all you see is rushing darkness, & the sounds of the Engine echo with implications of vastness. Sometimes, towers jut out of the darkness, burnished with torchlight. The Engine is within a bubble of red light generated by its many fires, but outside of that light all is darkness. Sometimes chittering laughs can be heard, as though some giant fiend were chuckling miles away. At last on that final day, when you peel back the central leather shades, you see a hint of something—something almost like a city & a giant. As you approach, you see it is a city-sized tableaux, seemingly hanging in the darkness, & the Engine plummets into the guts of it.