At the height of its power, the ancient Asargam Empire had a knowledge of magic so expansive and a mastery of technology so developed, they thought they could even challenge the gods. The pride of their military was the Vimãna, a flying fortress, that enabled them to traverse the oceans quickly and to spread their power effectively to other continents than their own. It could also be used to create a beachhead as shown in the landing on the continent of Auchulpa. Though being a flying ship the Vimãna could almost only traverse water and could only move inland when the areas surface was relatively even and smooth.
Research and construction
The Vimãna was the first flying ship constructed by the Asargam Empire. From what little we know it was very effective and probably more flying ships were in planning, but never completed. The Asargam fleet was being expanded ever since the latter third of the Era of the Trees as
Emniyama used to be a source for what is called 'sudãla śbeta' in the few Asargam writings that survive. It was a crystal of some sort, probably reddish or violet in colour. Some assume it is a form of quartz, but Asargam science made it usable in such a way that it could be used to make things float in the air under certain circumstances. Like almost everything Asargam engineering and magic could accomplish, the crystal's functionality as well as the Vimãna itself is a mystery. Some sources mention it, though, giving a more or less detailled impression of the vehicle and on how the crystals were used.
They call their ship Vimóna and it does not touch the sea it navigates. It is built of metal and stone, a ship that is a fortress. Like the gods they traverse the air, emulating, but not equalling them. It goes fast with its walls and halls, four crystal towers flank it, their colour opposite of the ocean's.Notes on Asargam, collected by Ólus Létor Gemellus from an unnamed Tamôl source
From this account can be seen, that the Vimãna was comparable in size to a fortress. It does not allow to infer the exact size of the ship though, only that it was quite substantial. Also we can only make assumptions on the materials of which the Vimãna was built. The author, Gemellus, always uses 'stone' when a material was hard and came from the earth. It could be any kind of natural stone, but also bricks or cement. Metal, too, is a very general term, though we can assume that it was a sort of metal that does not rust on sea. But it is Gemellus from whom we get an impression of the colours the crystals had. From other notes he made in his collection we also know, that they must have been translucent, because elsewhere he describes crystals as having a quality similar to that of glass.
A more detailled account of the crystals and how they worked is found in Vayazzan sources:
The flying hall they brought from across the ocean is like a carriage. Yet it is not drawn on land by Hawun Tawuka and not by Sunqallwa in the sea. It has four stones pulling it as a logger has his working animal pull the trees. Yet the stones keep the hall from the ground so it does not tear open the water's or the soil's surface. What is it, that they found? How can a stone fly? Why does it work like a draught animal? Again they bring their hall filled with warriors. It was here only last month.Notable events of the twelfth year of the Qatu senate, Anonymous
With what is translated as 'hall' here, the sea elves of the kingdom of Vayazza used to describe the main family's building in the many small settlements across the settlement area of the Vayazza people during the Era of the Trees. It was often a long house with a main hall in the center and two wings flanking it. The center main hall was used as a public part of the house, while the wings housed private rooms. These halls were often 120 to 150 feet in length, which is comparable to the bigger war ships of our era and presumably comparable to Asargam's war ships as well. So the comparison with a 'hall' is most likely to show how many warriors it could house compared to the regular war ships. What is more interesting is the description of the four crystals, which seem to have been connected to the main body of the Vimãna by some kind of rope or chain rather than being towers fixed to it as Gemellus' account indicates. The four crystals, here called stones, must have hovered in the air and the body of the Vimãna was suspended from them.
One rather unusual account of the Vimãna is a stone carving from Auchulpa made by a Thujha. Lacking a script, the Thujha nonetheless documented what happened around them and came back to these depictions, telling tales about the event they were connected to. From this carving we can see what the Vayazza account implied: The four crystals were separate from the ships main body. The upper deck appears like the shape of a fortified city with walls and towers. There are also shapes indicating flags or sails. In case they show sails, this would mean that the Vimãna used the power of the wind, either for propulsion or for navigation.
With all these sources combined, we can with certainty say that the Vimãna was a huge, heavy battleship that was airborne and could move at relatively high speeds. The Vayazza source says it appeared twice within one month. A regular trip between Emniyama and Auchulpa normally took four to five weeks, so the Vimãna must have been twice as fast as a regular ship at least if it managed to bring new soldiers from the Asargam heartland in such a short amount of time. The stone carving shows the ship as having fortifications, so it could be used not only as a transport for troops but also as an offensive vessel from the top of which projectiles could be shot. This is also seen more easily in two other sources on two battles in which the Vimãna was used.
We only know about four expeditions in which the Vimãna was actually used. The Vayazza source above mentions two of these deployments. The first account describing the advent of the Vimãna described the actual use of the ship in more detail, but says even less about its appearance than the second account does. It goes as follows:
They arrived again, with even greater forces than before, the men from the east. Their fleet brings destruction and forces us from our beloved sea. Their ships are mighty but one stands out. It is a ship as big as none of theirs and none of ours. It touches not the sea but carries more bolts and arrows and pitch-bags than any other. The coast is burning under its fires, it alone destroyed a dozen war ships. It is the mightiest of all and though it is not hindered by the water, it does not move on land.
Now it goes again, but the soldiers stay. They have fortified a hill, overseen by that mighty ship. Can we beat them before it returns?
Notable events of the twelfth year of the Qatu senate, Anonymous
This first account of the Vayazza shows the first appearance of the Vimãna in Auchulpa. The Asargam Empire pushed to conquer more land in the west and first sent its fleet and tried to get a foothold on the shore of the continent. But only with the help of the Vimãna could they actually build a bridge head. This account shows the ship as being quite capable in offensive warfare and obliterating fleets and coastal settlements. The superiority of the Vimãna is not surprising as it was heavily armoured and facilitated attacks from an elevated position. The pitch bags described are fire bombs, often used to keep siege weapons from city walls or fortifications. As seen in the other account, the Vimãna also carried armed forces.
A second Vayazza source, probably a political lament, is quite fragmentary but is of a date that is later than the destruction of Taqarru, the city then ruled by the Qatu senate. So this is either the third deployment of the Vimãna to Auchulpa or the Vimãna stayed in Auchulpa for a longer period of time after its return and took an active role in the Asargam Empire's troops invasion of the Vayazza kingdom.
[lacuna] is lost and the High King dead. Defeated [lacuna] north. The great Vayazza ask for shelter from the mightiest flying ship. [lacuna] Thus we are exiled to the alien North with neighbours once so far. Might one day the gods' power break this mightiest of ships and [lacuna] ours [lacuna].fragment found on a shred of paper used for a book cover, the author's name is in a lacuna, dated 7358 of the Era of the Trees
The last mention of the Vimãna is in a war song of the Raijonneen commemorating the battle against the Asargam armies in the Thujha resistance fight. This source bears no date, but can assumed to be later than the other sources as the Thujha lived further inland and came into conflict with the Asargam forces only after the Vayazza kingdom was almost completely conquered and its people had fled north.
The 'flying castle' clearly refers to the Vimãna. These parts of the song show that it brought two armies before, successfully fighting the Vayazza and the Thujha. Now a third army has been brought from Asargam to press against the Thujha, who have seeked out the Raijonneen for help. What is described here as 'bringing honour in their time of need' is a euphemistic expression for the Raijonneen recieving a payment to work as mercenaries for the Thujha and winning the fight for them. This battle was indeed decisive and had the Asargam military retreat to the coast, leaving the Thujha alone for 28 years.[...]
IV. March forth, make haste, the battle awaits, again that famed flying castle has brought an army to our shores!
The Paijatsa have fallen to their first and second army, the Tusa retreated as well.
March forth from our goddess's home, show them we have her boon and dye the soil in her favourite colour!
They killed thousands of elves, hundreds of Joun with fire and iron.
Onward now! Hurrya is our fire, her suite cheers us on. Harden our skin, harder than their swords and spears!
Thus we returned to our halls, victorious and proud, while the Asakam can only guard their ships.
Drink and feast and pray, oh brothers who brought honour to those who came to us in their time of need and to our own walls!
[...]Song of the Great Asakam Battle to honour our pledge to the Tusa (stanza 4 and parts of stanza 7)
Depictions of the Vimãna in Samthô sources
In this rubbing of a stone carving of the Thujha supposedly found at Mount Nukko we see a narrative around the battle of the Thujha against the Asargam Empire with their Vimãna. It's style indicates it was made in the late-classical phase of Thujha stone carvings as it shows a whole narrative within one carving, which is indicative of the classical phase and the outline in round, making it a typical example of the later part of that phase. The upper part shows the advent of the Asargam soldiers - a battle of many against few. A river, trees on a hill and three stylised stones hint at the place where the battle took place, though today these symbolic indicators are not understood any longer and no exact place can be pointed out. On the bottom right the Asargam fighters are alive, weapons and fire indicate war and battle. The Thujha never depict their own dead, thus the fallen soldiers are represented by the broken Thujha clubs. The bottom left part shows the Raijonneen involvement in the battle. Foreign dead can be depicted and are shown here. The Raijonneen appears faceless with flames bursting out of his face and head, indicating the spiritual possession of the Raijonneen. On the upper left a Thujha is depicted, presumably being in some form of shelter. The Vimãna is in the very center as it is the main object around which the narrative revolves. It is shown with two of the four crystals connected with heavy chains to the flying fortress from which Asargam soldiers emerge using a ramp.
The rubbing is in the possession of Aius Nábus Fabílila, but it's provenance is unknown.
The sketch at the beginning of the article shows what Aius Nábus Fabílila, the most preeminent contemporary Tarrabaenian scholar on antiquity imagines the Vimãna to look like. It is from his book 'The Arts and Crafts of the Ancient Asargam'. He has - from numerous sources he found over the years - put together the most accurate reconstruction of the Vimãna we know today. His sketch shows only one crystal, but one of his comments on the right acknowledges that there were actually four. In this later edition of his book he had the sellers he could reach out to black out problematic or false passages in his comments.
Apart from not showing all four crystals the drawing shows a full front view of the Vimãna with the masoned barracks and towers on top, the sails used for steering, numerous crenels for a naval attack, the lower part constructed of welded metal planks which holds the gate to deploy the soldiers stationed on the Vimãna. The two ballistae on the sides represent the ships built-in weaponry.