starships with clipped wings
"Those Drylanders have nothing going for them but their Amber and their independence. And their Sandships, of course. Their pride and joy. After what they've lived through, I don't begrudge them. So let them celebrate! Let them enjoy...the Bloody Wheel will overtake them soon enough." - a non-Drylander, circa 7500History In the year 2048 AC came the disaster known as the Fall of the Pillar. Due to reasons that could never be fully investigated, the Pillar of Wings suffered a series of magical explosions that ended up triggering a massive fissure in the foundation that swallowed the building hole. The Pillar was from a time before the Cataclysm, and due to a magical system that was beyond understanding but still useful, was automatically able to power the Aither Fleet. The starships. Without their source of power, the starships fell from the sky and left the people of that region, the Dry Docks (named jestingly for the fact that there was no water for miles around, despite being the source of their greatest fleet of ships) without any means of travel, and with the majority of their city swallowed beneath the sand. For roughly eight-thousand miles in any direction, there stretched the Lake of Devastation, a dry lake bed that had been spilled during the war of the heavens and was now a desert. Sand that had been disturbed by the explosion was scattered everywhere. Beyond hope, however, two of the starships happened to land just a few miles from the ruins of their city. The people of the Drylands are hardier than most, and more often than others they have cause to spit in the eye of Death. Courageous explorers and some of their best mages made the difficult trek to the ship and set about salvaging what they could. With magic and science and determination, they were able to re purpose the starship into a sandship. Using this first sandship, they wandered across the Lake of Devastation in search of more wrecks they could convert. Even to this day, finding a new remnant of the Aither Fleet is cause for great rejoicing. Now the sandships are a constant reminder of the indomitable spirit of the Drylanders and the ability to recover from near-total disaster. In the winter, when the sun is low and cool, the sandships will set sail across the Lake of Devastation. Humming with energy and heavy with stores of Amber, they make their way to the mainland and the other Kingdoms for trade and commerce. In the Spring, they return to the greatest feasting of the Drylander year...the Spring Harvest. As the climate prevents them from growing any kind of sustainable crops, they choose to celebrate the returns of Amber trade, of which they own the entirety, as the fruits of their labors. It is not uncommon for children to race the burning sands to meet the ships, laughing and teasing the ones who can't stand the temperature and end up rushing back to safety. Ask any Drylander what the sight of a sandship fills them with, and they will tell you; Pride, joy, and hope. Power Generation With the Pillar lost, the mages had to look elsewhere for fuel. They found it seared to the hull of the beached starships...crusted stardust. Inside the engines of the mighty ships they found glimmering residue left from the magic that once propelled them through the heavens. The mages carefully gathered this together and began to experiment. Eventually, they were able to create a magical field that they bound to the outside of the boat. This energy field constantly ruptures the sand it touches, causing the particles to be in constant motion. This in turn disturbs and fluidizes the sand...as long as the field is active the sand behaves like water, allowing the heavy wooden boats to float on the surface. The stardust, while not as powerful as the Pillar, naturally tries to return to the sky, and provides the lift needed to keep the boat from sinking into the liquidized sand. Propulsion While magic ensures that the sand remains liquid beneath the vessel, there still remains the problem of propulsion. The Drylanders solved this with a series of anchors and sails. Large, symmetrical sheets of canvas are attached to a mast. These catch the force of the winds, which only grow stronger the farther out they sail from the center of the lake. In order to turn the ships, a crew of varying size, dependent on the vessel, will rush to one side and lower long oars that end in pointed hooks. These catch the sand outside of the magical field where it is still solid, causing the ship to turn towards the side that the oars are lowered on.
"We lost the sky, but we never stopped flying."