List of Airships
- Dhu Gillywack (Gnomes)
- The Ilyan Cloud (Loenthra)
- The Foehn's Promise (Loenthra, human style influences)
- The Dawn Rose (Chronomages, currently leased to the Vaalor)
- The Falcon ("Droughtman's Prize", privately owned)
- The Firebird (Humans)
- The Revenge
- Leaf On the Wind (Illistim, wrecked)
- The Coruscated Pearl (Illistim, royal barge of the Argent Mirror)
- The Silver Feather (Illistim, first multi-passenger airship)
Veniom was first discovered by The Rooted Earth society of House Illistim, a group of mages who specialized in the study of elemental earth magic. Impure veniom ore has weight lightening properties, and early levitation effects were exploited with purified forms of the metal, such as the capelet of "The Child Argent" Lahrair Illistim. It was not until the Loremaster Alerreth Nellereune Illistim invented a process for highly refining the metal that it was possible to suspend vast loads of cargo with veniom plating. In subsequent centuries, these "airships" became the dominant mode of heavy cargo transport, being far more cost effective or safer than teleportation and gate magics.
Alerreth highly purified the veniom ore, "combining the lighter-than-air metal with charged energies" to make it suitable for airship construction, according to Museum Alerreth in Ta'Illistim. There were "particular magics" involved in transforming the "lighter-than-air" property into sufficient buoyancy for large vessels. Early Illistim airships resembled traditional sea vessels, with captain's wheels, sails, and figureheads, such as one of Caladsal Illistim who was Argent Mirror when House Ashrim was destroyed. Though common by now, it is a relatively new technology, by Elven standards.
Caladsal was a descendant of Alerreth, and a patron of the airship industry. He was not only the inventor of veniom enrichment, but also the fundamentals of airship technology itself. "The Silver Feather" was commissioned by him as the first multi-passenger airship, which he piloted within feet of the domes of Ta'Illistim Keep to demonstrate its precision. The old airship depot was later renovated and converted into the museum named after him.
Alerreth invented the first steerage globe, which is used to harness the powers of veniom to control navigation. While direction could be influenced by sails and wind, for example, it would still be necessary to control levitation and navigate in three dimensions. Steerage globes use sealed alchemical gasses, which transmit energy through crystal shards. Modern steerage involves binding with the captain, piloted largely by thought alone, without the need of overt magic. However, these techniques are guarded secrets of the Artificers, the branch of the Illistim state charged with regulating and operating the airship fleet. They will only train pilots for exorbitant fees or a long period of contractual service.
There are airships in the service of other Elven city-states, notably Houses Loenthra and Nalfein, which were traditionally sea ports with a powerful merchant class. Merchant ships were known to cross the DragonSpine to western Elanith prior to the formal opening of trade relations with the Elven Nations. There were also airships used in the Second Nalfein-Turamzzyrian War, when the "Leaf On the Wind" was wrecked, revealing Irinara Illistim's secret aid of Nalfein refugees and soldier transport. Another Nalfein airship was used by exiles in 5114 Modern Era under the command of Nysina, in league with Elithain Cross, to assassinate Earl Berniah Kestrel of Chastonia whose younger brother was the Royal Magister. The plans for constructing Elven airships were used, and replicated, so that the forces under Althedeus were able to construct their own fleet from hidden bases in the mountains. They were used to drop urnon golems, and were shot down with pylons.
Private airships are not uncommon, at least for those wealthy enough to afford them. They can only be operated by a trained pilot, and the Elves regulate who is allowed to fly in their airspace. However, there is no such thing as a purely "privately" owned airship, at least for House Illistim. These ships may be "examined" at any time by the Argent Mirror, and so all of them must carry a removable throne. The Nalfein may well regard the assassin airship as stolen property.
Museum Alerreth was originally built as a depot to bring airship travel within the city of Ta'Illistim itself. It was the first construction project of Argent Mirror Caladsal Illistim, a descendant of Alerreth Nellereune, who was a patron of the nascent industry in general. She wished to improve sky access to the average Illistim, essentially a mode of public transport. Unfortunately, the Sea Elf War wrecked the original intent, making it a security threat. The infrastructure of the airship industry moved out of the city, and never returned, even after the threat of war settled down. Though some reports say the depot was commissioned in -1,562 Modern Era (47,545 Illistim), this date is wrong, off by almost exactly two thousand years.
The depot was re-purposed several times through its history. It was once a music hall, an indoor market place, and even a hospital for wounded soldiers under the policies of Irinara. It was most recently a secondary storage facility for the Library Aies, but was closed for several hundred years and fell into disrepair. The Illistim abhor an eyesore, whatever their historical conceits. Concerns of "structurally unsound" were raised, which led in turn to a demolition order.
The Trustees of the Library Aies attempted to save the building as a work of historical preservation. The Argent Mirror Myasara was eventually convinced by their arguments, and so ordered a major renovation project in 5,110 Modern Era (54,217 Illistim), in conjunction with opening Ta'Illistim Green as a public space between major city landmarks. Part of this arrangement was severing the site from the auspices of Library Aies, making Museum Alerreth its own entity, with its own council of overseers on behalf of the state. The Overseers of the Museum Alerreth hold the museum in trust for the citizens of Ta'Illistim. Caylio Javilerre was particularly notable in these respects.
While the museum has a permanent collection of artifacts which were donated by various prominent families of the royal court, there are also temporary exhibits on the top floor which come on loan from other institutions. The Hanesyddol Museum of Ta'Loenthra was most recently exhibited a showcase entitled: "Glyptics, Seals and Intaglios: Selections from the Hanesyddol Museum of Ta'Loenthra." It contains a wide range of symbolic artifacts, ranging from ancient Vylem relics of Eorgina worship, to a signet ring of the Faendryl Patriarch Unsenis Ignaas that was made prior to the Battle of Maelshyve. The museum covers Elven history in general, not only Illistim or airship history.
The museum entrance is dominated by a giant verdigris medallion hanging over the promenade, which houses an enormous horologe within the lozenge. It hangs against the enormous glass wall of the building, which gives a wide view of the city Ta'Illistim. While the ceiling would have originally been open for airship purposes, this has been replaced with glass panels, which are small and rectangular to give the sky a mosaic quality of being built from compositional elements.
Behind the Scenes
The concept of veniom skyships dates back to the early I.C.E. Age, where "xenium" was bluish-silver alloy that nullified the force of gravity irrespective of mechanical load. It was supposedly a mixture of titanium, arinyark ("ahnver"), and "other, more dangerous materials." However, veniom is not an alloy, but a purified metal. In the Shadow World setting it was primarily used for the undersides of airships, with the exception of Eidolon, which was a whole city in Emer that levitated above the ground. (What became the Ilyan Cloud was originally intended to be a skyship that would fly to Eidolon.) They were by far the fastest mode of transport, other than teleportation or portals, able to fly in excess of 80 miles per hour. However, there was also the dragon skyship of Melgorehn, which was mechanical.
In the older concept of skyships, there were inherent risks, which are no longer mentioned. The "flows of essence" used to be more prominently related to weather effects, most notably in the form of Flow storms, but also for interacting with the jet stream, magnetosphere, and forming impenetrable "essence barriers" similar to the ones in the Voln monastery. Stronger essence flows supposedly played havoc with the anti-gravity properties of xenium, which could lead to severe turbulence, or even a complete levitation failure. It was imperative that skyship navigators avoid these flows, rendering some lands virtually inaccessible by this method. The Navigators were their chief rivals, or overpriced consultants. Teras Isle was discovered by hot air balloon, which was originally supposed to be an airship crash.