What, you're worried about getting seasick? We don't even sail on the sea! Our name means AIR fleet!
Travelling across the Tulaant Steppe
is a tall order for any would-be trader or adventurer, for whilst the gnomes of Soniuch Zan
are friendly enough, those living upon the harsh Steppe are quite the opposite. Tribal warfare is not uncommon, and any trader without guide or protection is simply free game.
Some seek to avoid the Steppe by bypassing it to the West. However, there lies the treacherous Talmian Range - rumoured to be Istralar's tallest mountains, caused by the mighty collision of Xin Jiyu and Valathe during the First Divine War. Whilst the tribal warfare of the Steppe is dangerous, the monsters lurking amongst the Talmian peaks are perhaps more so - creating an environment few might survive.
This leaves two potential methods of travel. Either traders and adventurers can take ships from the many port-towns on the continent's east, risking piracy or disastrous storms... or they may seek out one of the Tengeriin Fleet, a joint venture between the gnomes of Soniuch Zan and their dwarven comrades from within the Talmian Range. These airships travel through the skies of Xin Jiyu (and occasionally beyond), providing a safe and reliable method of transportation for those not wishing to suffer a painful death along the roads.
The fleet was first constructed by the gnome engineer Foltrix Whirlcogs
after an ill-fated trip to Sunadar
. Despite the relatively short distance between his homeland and the human settlement, a series of bandit attacks and bloodthirsty forest creatures plagued their journey. After his husband had taken a fatal dose of poison from one particularly nasty creature, Foltrix had had enough, and called for their return to Soniuch Zan - only for him to be slain on the return by a bandit who believed Foltrix to be lying about his condition. Penniless and angry, Foltrix began work on a better method - one that wouldn't rely on the whims of mages and their teleportation spells.
Word of his progress soon spread throughout the northern reaches of Xin Jiyu, and he began to receive offers of help from the neighbouring countries. Most notably, the dwarven workshop of Krylkamiz - famous for their embracing of strange materials and progress on copying elf-gate technology (something they were forced to stop under threat of destruction by the nearby Kingdom of the Galasthin Elves
) - contacted Foltrix with their own ideas. They arranged a workshop for him within the Talmian Range and allowed him access to their material supplies and workshops, and provided his gnomish engineers with all they'd need. With the two teams working so closely in sync, and with all of the magical support they could get from the mages of Soniuch Zan, it was not long before the first airship was complete.
It did take multiple iterations before they were able to successfully fly a ship from the Talmian Range to Soniuch Zan, however, and the wreckage of failed flights still litters the path. As the airships neared flight-readiness, both workshops constructed - with the permission of their countries - docks for them, to ensure landing would be a simple task and to allow easy loading onto each ship. When the project had expanded and passengers had begun to be ferried between the Talmian Range and Soniuch Zan, neighbouring countries - with the notable exception of the Kingdom of the Galasthin Elves
- opened their own airship docks, beginning the expansion of trade routes to the skies.
There have, on occasion, still been issues - whilst the ships are mostly flawless mechanically, the skies are not free from flying foes, and some of the more powerful tribes have made dark pacts to bring down these new ships. Additionally, stowaways or hostile takeovers have left some ships arriving 'empty' at their destinations - much to the bafflement of those at the docks. To combat this, powerful adventurers and guards are often brought onto trips as a form of security. It is rumoured that the Talmian dragon guardian has also been known to aid those in peril, though this should not be relied upon, for his whims are not easy to predict.