"Loose the chains my friends. Master Carsons, full power to the manna sails if you please! I wish to be properly sky borne as swiftly as possible!"
Riding the currents and flows of Manna throughout the world, high above cities and civilization, these are the answer of a Wastonian genius by the name of Zilfan Tuddleson to the invention of locomotion. Though they may not move quite as swiftly, nor carry as much cargo, they are not limited by geography. Unlike naval vessels or locomotives, they may travel the swiftest, straightest route between any two points, not limited by the availability of water or the geography of the land around them. Sky-Ships are the preferred method of transit for the wealthy and the means often employed for moving exceedingly valuable goods of moderate volume. They are generally the least risky method of travel, for tho piracy does exist in the skies as well as it would and does at sea, the natural dangers are far less than on land or at sea. Fewer creatures and beasts can accoust a Sky-Ship. and fewer logistical issues can be used against it (such blocking rail lines with a bunch of debris for locomotives).
Sky-Ships are a true marvel in and of themselves, designed similarly, at first glance, to old fashioned wooden sailing vessels, though notably lacking any actual masts. Instead little ten foot pegs protrude from the hull on both sides and the top deck, sets of three, even spaced. These pegs are oak or maple, some sort of proper hardwood, but with a bronze core. This core is the conductive base, carefully connected via copper piping, three quarters of an inch in diameter, to the actual Magicore Reactors themselves. Most Sky-Ships run with two reactors, though some of the biggest, known as Monolith class, use three. Via a complex set of magnets and conductive nodes, along with the years of training of the pilots, the Magicore reactors will be utilized, tapped into, the energy they are generating from the manna they draw in, that massive amount of continual energy being drawn back out to power the vessel through these nodes. These nodes are often referred to as 'manna sails' because when powered, there is a visible whirling sheen of elemental power, just visible even in the materium, as if a sheet, billowing in as if a 'wind' is pushing it in the intended direction of travel. These sails respond to the pilot's control panel and wheel, similar to a sailing ship's wheel, but with mechanized controls on a panel below to control height, pitch, tilt and more. These controls naturally have a redundant set of backups inside the ship's main control room, the 'cloudbowl' as the iron reinforced room is oft known.
Manna sails shimmer with every color of elemental energy, however they will respond to the controls and complexities of their handling, flaring with one type of energy or another as appropriate based on efficiency of the mannas around in the currents all about them, and what the pilot is trying to accomplish. For example, if attempting to climb swiftly, the lower manna sails in particular, will flare to life, the silvery grey of Aeir dominating the color palatte for a time whilst the vessel swiftly ascends. To descend swiftly, the heavy loamy brown of Domhan will swiftly flare to dominate the top 'sails'. The manna sails will also show these flares in color whenever riding a known "manna slipstream". These are basically like strong ocean currents, they are directional thick flows, oft also referred to as 'leylines', the veins from which manna of each elemental type scatters about the world. These veins are like the superhighways of Sky-Ship travel, and reasonably well charted, though only in commonly traveled airspace centered around and between heavily settled areas. Those charts swiftly become less reliable, and eventually, far enough from any civilized regions, not reliable at all.
Utilizing the constant energies spat forth by the Magicore reactors, the complex magnetized system of manna shards in orbit around the tacturnium core, as it constantly pulses with sheer energy as the manna is released from the shards, and more manna is drawn in and purified by their crystaline structures, every second, over and over in a continual reaction. This energy is directed through very complex arcane weavings and mechanical elements, through carefully warded and constructed copper tubing to feed the manna sail nodes, which is how the vessel generates power and momentum for motion.
The manna sail system, controlled from the pilot's control panels, dictates propulsion as described above. The controls allow the pilot to dictate speed, climbing and descent, and direction, along with how much power they wish to feed into those commands.
Weapons & Armament
Sky-Ships generally, even at their smallest, will have private guards on board, and armaments. Cannon, much like on the high seas, are preferred. Obsidian tipped Ballista bolts, exceedingly expensive, are generally kept on board as well. These are rare, any vessel not likely to have more than ten such bolts total, split amongst their two or three deck ballista. These bolts have a special property, for Obsidian interrupts manna naturally, temporarily (for minutes at a time) capable of disabling manna sails should one strike the node. Obsidian is basically resistant to manna, it acts as a block to the flow of manna, the only known substance that entirely is immune to magick, though with enough time and volume of manna trying to forcibly interact with it, or through it, it will eventually fail. This is why they are temporary at best. However even temporarily losing a manna sail can be catastrophic in a fight where maneuvorability is everything.
Armor and defense
Generally they are well armored and reinforced, with steel framework behind the wooden exterior, and oft the wooden hulls are rune-etched for protection.
Communication Tools & Systems
All Sky-Ships carry a communication device known as a Magnegraph. This small device, over relatively short distances up to two miles, can communicate with eachother. They function kind of as a type writer. One enters the intended coordinate code of the recipient device, if any. If no code is entered, the message typed will print on any Magnegraph in range.
These vessels oft have a range around them, a field that that will display on a polished mirror in the cloudbowl to the navigation officer, and anything that is also moving in range will appear as a black spot on that mirror, showing its movement and direction. This range is generally only two or three miles, so men and women with telescopes are still vital and utilized, keeping watch for weather, other sky-ships, unexpected terrain in case they are flying to low, and other beasties or the like one might accidently cross.
Additional & auxiliary systems
Every Sky-Ship has two Magicore Reactors (the largest have three, because they require two to be running to be at full power), as a redundancy. Basically if the primary has to shut down or does go down for any reason, the secondary is there and will be kickstarted by the engineer, all systems swiftly switched to draw power from that secondary reactor. The larger classes of ship, once at proper skyborne altitude (2.5 miles or higher), can cruise with but one, but to climb or descend, or have full agility and nimbleness in their turns, they need two.
Hangars & docked vessels
Sky-Ships, due to the nature of Magicore Reactors, never truly touch the ground. They at best hover about 70 feet off the ground, even if the reactors are powered down, and they would drift if unsecured. Sky-Ports look a lot like naval docks, but with the docking systems built to extend from raised platforms, the ships chained to the docks themselves when making port. The chains used will be rune-etched in nature, an enchantment to keep the vessel from drifting, rising or descending, so these docks will have bays to dock in stacked in tiers up to some 200 feet up.
Even the cheapest Sky-Ships run north of 25000 gold suns, and those are basically for the extravagantly wealthy to show off. Commercially and Militarily, based on size, run between 40000 and 175000 gold suns.
Scarce, every nation uses them, some more than others. Not as common as naval vessels or locomotives.
Varies, the smallest can be as small as some 60 feet, the largest easily in 250 feet
Varies, the smallest can be merely some 120 feet long from bow to stern. The largest can be up to 500 feet
Dependent on how many decks below the outer top deck the vessel has, each will be nine feet in height from floor to ceiling. Singles are the smallest, and Monolith class vessels will have as many as six.
75 tons on the smallest end, up to nearly a 1000 tons for monolith class vessels. Similiar to naval ships, but lessened due to a lack of actual physical sails, masts and rigging.
Unlike their naval counterparts, which can top out at 80-100 miles a day, a Sky-Ship can cover in excess of 200 miles in a day at full power, though 150-175 miles a day is the average cruising speed once properly skyborne
Complement / Crew
Crews can be as small as 20, getting up to 400-500 for Monolith class
Cargo & Passenger Capacity
Dependent on size, anywhere from 10 to 200 passengers (non-crew/staff), and anywhere from but 140 tons of cargo at the smaller ends, all the way up to some 2500 tons for things like the Monolith class