Aeris: Adventures in the Sky Age
From the view at the top of the Grand Magetower of Elincia, it would seem that the Golden Age of Aeris never ended. The city gleams with shining parapets, forever unblemished by wind or rain as globes of magical light bathe their walls in a continuous golden glow. The tall spires gently slope down from their highest point in the center of the city, until they finally give way to the grand facades of merchant houses, temples and workshops. Between them, the streets teem with the constant bustle of a thriving populace. Craftsmen, merchants and street vendors ply their wares amidst a throng of interested buyers. Miraculously, all this activity somehow manages never to diminish the city’s splendor. In the blue skies above, sunlight streams between the occasional puffy white cloud. And amidst those clouds is the breathtaking sight of airships, sails and windvanes pulled taut in the breeze as they approach or depart the city. Amidst the towers, the smaller forms of hippogriff riders dart around, carrying the business of the city or ferrying passengers. The various smells of a city occasionally waft up, but are swiftly dashed away by the strong breeze.
If one were to continue to gaze out at the vista from the Grand Magetower, one would soon notice that the spread of buildings drops off very suddenly at the edge of the city – and there is only sky beyond. The city’s majesty would only be increased by the realization that the city is actually floating, so high up that the clouds float by both above and below! It would then become clear that the airships are actually descending to dock at the edges of the floating city, sturdily moored to the edge of the great sheet of earth as crews busily load and unload all manner of goods.
However, the stunning view from the top of the Grand Magetower is in many ways an illusion. Not visible from the Magetower is the underbelly of the great city, where a hive of openings and squalid buildings hang from the stone and earthen base of the city as it tapers down to a central point. This city looks and feels much different from the shining city above, as dirty laborers pad across winding catwalks and swarthy traders loiter near their dimly lit shops. Small, weather-beaten airships are moored to the undercity by tenuous threads of rope, and the bulky forms of griffons and wyverns lie clinging to the cliffside, awaiting their passengers’ return.
Also not visible from the Magetower is a clear picture of the ground below. Far below, in fact, so far that it is not visible even from the underbelly of the city. A full mile beneath the city, shrouded in mist and fog, lies the surface of Aeris. Once a vibrant garden teeming with life, the surface of Aeris now lies desolate, an inhospitable wasteland obscured by an ever-present fog. Somewhere far below the city lies an enormous crater, a tangible reminder of the time when Elincia tore itself from the earth and ascended into the skies to escape the devastation of its world. Only death surrounds this remnant of a time long past, a land devoid of all life except, some whisper, incomprehensible beasts and magical horrors adapted to survive in the ruins of the old world.
It was the magic, without a doubt. That much power, harnessed seemingly without consequence – there had to be a catch. Much like the principles of alchemy or physics, all the world’s advanced understanding of magic likely pales in comparison to the vast unknown expanse that lies beyond the ordered realm of magical knowledge. Even the most learned scholars are still clueless as to what actually caused the cataclysm or why. The people of Aeris have learned not to question what happened. Instead, they focus their new lives and challenges in a world fundamentally changed yet still undeniably fantastical. In this new Sky Age, most of the Golden Age’s magical wonders remain in some form or another – none more magnificent than the central magecores that keep each city afloat, power its infrastructure, and control the nearby weather. But the citizens of Aeris no longer fully embrace their wondrous creations, for lurking in each person is the faint, gnawing fear that if they allow magic to remain unchecked, the horrors of the cataclysm will one day return.