A mile high, rimmed by air, cities go vertical and so do the people
As the song says, there is a distant early warning. Ignored at first, finally the kings and their advisers heed the signs and prepare the people and their cities to abandon the ground, rip themselves from the surface, and ascend upward to safety a mile high.
Those not privileged to ascend remained behind. Most of those perished but a few clans manage to survive of whom many were transfigured into new races by the fury of Shadow that seems to be responsible for the dark cataclysm.
The sky rumbles and the ground trembles. Gashes rip the realm asunder, lava flows, ash spews forth, and bizarre creatures climb from the fissures and descend from holes in the sky. The realm is taken from the grip of mankind who now lives on their finite surfaces in tall buildings and spires.
Resources are a premium, water is worth more than gold, and flight is paramount for the people have need to pay visits to the ground to harvest water and other needed resources.
Many decades have passed and only the eldest remember the ascension. A new generation is alive and establishing control–a generation of people who rarely see the ground. To them, visits to the lava hardened ground of barbarian and beast makes them feel vulnerable. Endless horizons and evil around every rock are unwelcome feelings for those accustom to the barrier of altitude and air. Claustrophobia is unknown and the feeling of confinement is thought of as security.
Flight is power. Those with the ability to gather resources have wealth at their fingertips. The ownership of a giant hawk or a zeppelin provides a privateer with job security.
Farming is a long gone profession. Other than gardeners on terraces, there is very little ground to till so that demographic void is filled by thieves and brigands who make their home in the dark guild halls beneath the surface of the city in the rocky heart below. Every realm has two kings, a royal emperor and a guild boss and sometimes the two are in cahoots perpetuating one another’s power.
With very little domain to control, kings do not have to have a lot of knights and warriors to maintain control of land or a spread out populace. They need air navies and city garrison’s and the rest of the king’s resources can be spent on developing his fleet of air ships that are as adept at gathering resources as they are at fighting for wars rarely exist. The warriors fighting consist of attacking barbarians on the ground for water holes, prolonged wars are a thing of the past.
The sky cities are few and very far between meaning they have limited contact with each other and they rarely encroach upon each other though it is not unheard of. A floating sky city’s area of harvesting rarely overlaps another and thus ground barbarians are the main competition for the sky city.
The need for flight has necessitated the need to elevate the status of folk who have the means to create flying machines and summon and train flying beasts. These people are the highest class of artisans and adepts inventing great flying vessels through secret engineering skills and befriending airborne beasts of burden through ancient spells and songs. These folk have their own guilds and societies that hoard their secrets and pass them along to their young.
If the citizens have a deep faith, it is in the gods of the aviary realms. If they have a superstition, it is that doing bad things can cause a city to fall to the ground and people who break certain taboos are shunned and even thrown over the edge to avoid the curse of breaking the levitational forces that hold them up. The greatest fear of a sky city dweller is that some day, the magic that holds them safely aloft were to fail. Thus the temples of levitation are revered and anyone who would seem to defile one is quickly persecuted.
Such is the psychology and the sociology of the dwellers of the sky cities. We see such civilizations in “Firebrands of Ayon” and “Theatre in the Ruins” in the series Flames of Palamarr. Surely we will see more of them as the series continues and the two lost travelers of Limbo continue to seek a way back to their own realm of ground living folk.
Books featuring sky-born city themes to date:
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– by J.Wade Harrell,