Suspended Breath Building / Landmark in Istralar | World Anvil

Suspended Breath

Below us, I see Death in all her most inglorious forms.   I see men fall to abhorrent beings from the deepest hells, their final screams cut short. I see the tender violence of solitary firefights, messy and raw. Always ending in one standing alone, never quite sure what to do with the body at their feet.   I see the slow choking and burning of those trapped in wreckage or within clouds of acrid gas - their bodies are left unmarred, but their deaths are some of the most terrible.
— battlefield healer
  Long has the conflict between the Medimian Empire and the Aletheian Empire dragged on. Though it officially began in the year 5623, tensions had been rising long beforehand - initial conflicts at the border had been ongoing for some 30 years, with small firefights and rising numbers of enemy troops sighted at the Aletheian border 2 years prior to the outbreak of war. With as much warning as that gave, both countries had time to innovate.   Medimia has largely shown their hand, three years into full-scale war. They practice Aegrotus Dilectum to recruit on a near-unprecedented scale, use disturbing chemical weapons such as Heavensfall, and unleash the horrors of their Amethystine Regiment across the battlefield. Accompanied with their infernal contracts and devilish aids, they have dominated the offence, giving Aletheia little room to push back. The loss of Emperor Asterion of Aletheia to their might could have been a lethal blow, even.   But Aletheia is not a nation known for its willingness to give up, and Emperor Aneirin 'Cyne' of Aletheia has quickly adapted to the rapidly-shifting battlefield. Medimian assaults meet impassable shields and strike-teams that dart behind their own offences. Medimian devils find the blades of divine champions and the snares of illusion-clad magic-binding traps awaiting their strikes. And most importantly - Aletheian troops, when injured, are whisked safely out of the reach of the enemy's magics. No necromancy can be practiced without a body to practice it upon.   This is the purpose of the Suspended Breath: a mobile hospital able to traverse the skies.

Purpose / Function

Magic brings most of the death in its footsteps. A few muttered words, and five people - people, with their lives and families held tight at the forefront of their minds - drop dead. I stare, helpless, at the bodies. We could not have saved them.   We will save the next.
— battlefield healer
  The Suspended Breath has two main purposes. The first is that it is a fully-equipped hospital set to fly - under heavy invisibility shielding - over the battlefield. The second is that it is also a portal hub, with gateways set up to Celesthem Temple among other major locations. As the building is spread out over four floors, it just about has room to manage both functions.  

The Hospital

The hospital spans two and a half floors of the immense flying structure, marking it as one of the smaller hospitals available in Aletheia. One entire floor is dedicated to battlefield care - beds line the floor in close quarters, with sheet-clad structures only being used to conceal those in need of privacy. The soldiers enjoy the open space, with those well enough to jest often sharing stories or playing music to lighten their comrades' moods. They know this is a temporary reprieve for most of them - the battlefield will reclaim them in time, perhaps permanently. Few make trouble.   The most common potions, scrolls, medical instruments, and wands are stored here. The rate at which they run out shocks newer staff - they quickly learn that it is better than the alternative.   The other floor provides speciality treatment and quarantine facilities. Medimia is not above using biological warfare; rapidly-spreading illness is detected on arrival, and those exposed are treated in sealed rooms before being sent to their beds. Anyone that can't be treated here is sent off to other hospitals and withdrawn from active duty.   The final area of the hospital is for those who do not make it. Despite all precautions otherwise, the morgue remains the most busy area in the Suspended Breath.

Healing on Istralar

The majority of Istralar's healers are mundane, and rely on the use of magic flora and fauna to power their healing creations. These are often unwieldy to transport - a cleric or oracle with the power to heal everybody within a certain radius can drastically outclass a common nurse, who may only be able to hold six potions in their bag. Powerful mages are even more sought-after. They can change the course of war on their own.   The Breath provides both access to supplies and usually contains at least one magical healer. Thousands more lives are able to be spared from this alone: no more do battlefield medics need to fear running out at a crucial moment. It is said that the gods are watching the Breath, for even mundane healers have found themselves picking up tricks of divine magic over their tenure.   The Breath's head healer, Priestess Sostrate Asclepia, was reportedly trained by High Priestess Aetha Tinuval herself. Celesthem Temple was happy to lend all they could to the war efforts - including Priestess Sostrate's considerable talents.

The Portals

It is rare for arcane magic to be well-accepted by any populace in Istralar. The elf-gates used by The Kingdom of the Galasthin Elves are powered by the will of their elven gods - but those at the Suspended Breath claim no such illustrious origin.   Instead, they are a rare combination of oft-opposing forces; whilst the Keepers of Divinity are largely the ones supplying the Breath, it was the research of Thrinda Flametongue that Emperor Aneirin used to construct the initial plans for the portal room, citing prior work on his own private property, and it was the Guild of Mages that collaborated to create the portals as part of the construction of the Breath. Some also suspect that the Eagle's Shadows have been involved with the project; the timelines, otherwise, do not match up.   There are five portals, in total, with each leading to a different landmark of Aletheia: to Celesthem Temple in the north, to Eosine Temple in the west, to Saint Apolline's Grace in the east, to the Theodoran House of Healing in the south, and - for emergencies - to the Aletheian Palace's infirmary. Having the landmarks being scattered so widely among Aletheia's most significant cities cements the Breath's role as a tactical asset as well as a beneficial one - though the Emperor has forbidden its use in war aside from its intended purpose as a rescue station, citing ongoing plans for other constructions more dedicated to conflict.


We are not soldiers. None of us wish to be fighting the war these brave souls wage. And yet we rest in the sky above said war, sitting ducks for any enemy with the ability to raise their eyes.   We must trust that the gods will not allow our shields to fail.
— battlefield healer
  Considering the Breath was adapted from plans for a stationary and very much grounded structure, it has needed many alterations along the way. Chief of these is the building's defence system, followed up by the mechanisms by which it is able to fly.  


  The most significant defence that the Breath has is its invisibility field. This functions much like the spell invisibility sphere, but exceeding all parameters of the original spell - the entire structure is invisible, and any who enter the structure whilst aware of its presence at that point are also made invisible in turn. When smaller airships bring the injured up to the Breath - or when individual flyers do - they must await the Breath, rather than the other way around, unless they have some way of penetrating the invisibility field without dispelling it entirely.   They must also watch out for the flying structure's forcefield. Functioning like a wall of force, the Breath is surrounded by a sphere of force that prevents stray arrows, bullets, or missiles from penetrating and destroying the hospital. As it flies above a battlefield, this has been one of the most vital defences in terms of keeping the inhabitants protected.   Other defences are less-publicised; few are aware of the magic-dampening aura the building emits to hide the other spells it emits until they attempt to cast Detect Magic on the Breath from the outside.  


  The building, somewhat obviously, flies. How it does this is not obvious to most: an arcane engine sits on the first floor, integrated with a complex series of mechanisms put together by the best engineers throughout Aletheia. The system draws power from a few different sources; its primary source is solar energy, with the secondary backup being elemental energy drawn from willingly-contracted air elementals.   In an antimagic situation, the building carries enough fuel to power standard mechanical airship engines for a few hours - enough to abscond from the magic-absent areas, hopefully, or to make a safe landing in case of emergency.   When grounded, the building is capable of extending its support struts down into the earth. Long-term, this would allow the building to be converted into an actual building; one of the topics slated for the war's end is a debate on where exactly the Suspended Breath should set its final resting place.   It is also capable of extending an airship bridge. This is regularly done - smaller aircraft often fly down to the battlefield to collect the injured from behind the front lines, and traverse the skies back up to the Breath. Individual flyers, such as recent warrior Ashlyn Alarian, are also able to enter through this access point.


Whatever else happens - I'm glad for one thing.   I'm glad the Suspended Breath exists. For as much war and trauma I have seen... it would be a thousand times worse without it.
— battlefield healer
  As previously mentioned, the Breath was the culmination of the effort of multiple organisations working on a regional scale. It is the first structure of its class - a flying creation with limited access and methods of hiding in open space.   Naturally, its creation spawned much discussion. At first, the idea of a mobile fortress was raised in reference to bombarding the enemy from above. The military theory was that the front lines would have some aerial protection, but further back would not - and if a mobile fortress could be sufficiently hidden, directly attacking the enemy nation's towns would be well within their capability. Emperor Asterion was still in the process of discussing this when his untimely death shook the nation.   After his coronation, Emperor Aneirin vetoed the idea almost immediately. It was not his wish to go down in history as an emperor of warfare; he did not wish to permanently change the face of war, nor send thousands of helpless civilians to their graves. The idea to turn the Breath into a peaceful hospital was proposed by High Priestess Aetha Tinuval, and none could find any meaningful complaint. Having such a station would prevent countless deaths. Construction began in the later months of 5625 and, with great magical aid from the realm's most powerful magicians, was completed shortly before the end of 5626 - however, it was considered an oddity for its swift construction time and deployment, and reportedly would not be able to be replicated without far longer to work.   The smaller crafts that serve the Suspended Breath are individual airships of a more standard build - they are part of Aletheia's fledgling air fleet, as modelled on existing ships such as those of the Tengeriin Fleet. The research and development of these models, and the Breath itself, are part of Emperor Aneirin's ongoing efforts to expand Aletheian military capabilities into new areas without decreasing quality of life for his citizens. Whilst some critique this strategy as overly soft, the advance into aircraft provides enough of a boon that the change has caused little strife overall.
Presiding Healer
Sostrate Asclepia
Founding Date
Alternative Names
the Flying Hospital, the Breath of Life, the Breath
Parent Location
Owning Organization

Navigating the Suspended Breath

As it's spread out over four floors, newcomers often find navigating the odd floating building to be a challenge. A guide has been placed here for your convenience.
  • Floor 1 - Machinery & Morgue
  • Floor 2 - General Treatment
  • Floor 3 - Portal Entryway, Magical Scanning, & Staff Areas
  • Floor 4 - Specialist Treatment & Quarantine
It was not us who started this war. Not we on the ground, and not they with whom we fight.   But this is not a fight we cannot afford to lose, no matter our opinions on those in charge. Watch them die as we recover - they have nothing of this sort. Their leaders do not care.   We cannot allow that to be our fate.
— battlefield healer


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Jul 2, 2021 18:43

I love the take on the prompt - who says the landmark/building can't move!   Great work as always, Han :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Jul 2, 2021 19:03 by Avalon Arcana

This is such a cool idea1 It obvious how much thought you put into this, It's amazing.

You should check out the The 5 Shudake, if you want of course.
Jul 3, 2021 00:21 by Lenna Richards

I also did a moveable building (ya mean to tell me that Howl's Moving Castle ain't a building?!?!?) Excellently written. I love the quotes... a death that leaves an unmarred body, I know that that is always terrifying. Silent deaths, unshown deaths... they are haunting.

"Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?" —J.R.R. Tolkien
Jul 5, 2021 23:17 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

I love the name 'The Suspended Breath'. It evokes so many different images for me.   'Despite all precautions otherwise, the morgue remains the most busy area in the Suspended Breath.' Oh :c   Really great article. I love all the thought you've put into this.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Jul 12, 2021 08:19 by AS Lindsey (Pan)

That name is fantastic. Also, I think we can excuse it being one of smaller hospitals around seeing as it can, you know, fly.

Jul 19, 2021 04:58 by Lillian Galewen

God, I feel so lucky to be able to play a character in your amazing world. Everything is just so interesting and the whole world feels so alive and vibrant around us. All the little bits like this we get to learn here that we may never get to know about in character just make it all the more amazing and create more wonder about the things we may find in the future.   I really cannot wait to find out more about the various issues our characters are dealing with, how we are going to fix what is happening and even what stories and legends our characters may leave behind when they are done. Being able to play in your world is really the highlight of my week and want to learn more and more.

Jul 20, 2021 23:42 by Han


welcome to my signature! check out istralar!
Feb 14, 2024 13:59 by spleen

that opening quote immediately set the tone for the rest of the article. all of the quotes add so much

Have a wonderful day!