Tales From Mist World
Mist World, as its name suggests, is a world covered by mist. The only land visible on Mist is the mountains and plateaus that rise out of the never ending grey sea. On mist world only the land above fifteen hundred feet of elevation is clear of the mist. These are the places where humans make their homes. From some you can see distant other lands rising from the mist. While others are nothing but lone islands with not for company. So why did humans build on these islands you ask? The answer is simple, for safety. The mist held great dangers to the humans. Never being able to see where that danger may come from drove humans to the heights for protection. There are stories and legends of daring souls venturing between the lands through the mist, but most of those stories end in tragedy not victory. No one knows who first discovered lift gas. I tend to believe it was a young lad on one of those far distant islands, who longed for the company of others.
We do know it was the discovery of lift gas that allowed the first airship to be created. Of all the countries on this world, almost all of them lay claim to the first airship. Whoever and wherever it was created it opened the world to those lonely places. The airships gave man the ability to travel between the lands in relative safety. Those early days of flight were filled with peril. The early airships relied on the wind for travel. They would fill the envelopes with lift gas and cast themselves to wind adding gas as needed and venting it to the sky so they could come down to earth once again. As a child, my school took us to a museum. There I saw the oldest painting of an airship. The painting depicted not the triumphant landing, but a disastrous failure. It showed the ship as the wind pushed it off the plateau as it descended.
After years and years of plying the winds airships received a great boon in the form of electricity. First airships used the wind to make electricity to power their movement. Then a new lift gas was created. This lift gas became excited when electricity was introduced to the envelope. Excited lift gas has magnitudes more lift. This meant airships no longer had to carry endless supplies of lift gas. The final piece of the puzzle came about by accident. The first solar sail happened for good or ill to King Hasting the Fried. He is called the Fried because his sky eel cloak turned poor King Hastings to a crispy critter the first time he wore it in the sun. The news of the Crispy King Hasting traveled around the world with every airship.
What was most important to the airships was that Sky Eel leather made electricity in sunlight. Within a year airships grew sails at least the airships that could afford them. Sky Eels are hard to catch. An adult eel is between four and six feet long and two feet across with a wing span that can reach greater than eight feet. They can contract the bodies down much smaller than expected, or expand them greatly. Their leathery wings should not be able to keep them in the air. In truth, they don’t. Sky Eels are the original airship. The eels have segregated sacks that fill with a gas the eel creates. As it flies in the sun the gas becomes excited by the electricity the eels control this internal lift perfectly, and use their large wings to propel them through the air. Poor King Hasting’s Sky Eel skin cloak was a gift of great wealth. For few sky eels, had been hunted successfully.
Over the years many different methods have been tried in hunting the eels. The first successful method used bows and arrows with a thin line. The airships would position themselves near the eels and fire as fast as they could. The arrows would punch through the eel and hopefully, the eel’s lift sack. The eel would fall tethered to airship to be hauled up when the harvesting was thru. The eels though decided they didn’t like that. Within five years the eels avoided airships normally with great success. New methods were tried, some worked other not so well. To this day any successful Sky Eel fisher is not a poor man.
Humans being humans, they turned the airship’s to weapons waging wars in the sky. The early pirates raided the Sky Eel fishers, plundering their cargo. In response, the rulers created the Air Corps and since they had this wonderful new Air Corps inevitably they made war on each other. For more than four hundred years there was war in the skies of Mist World. Countries rose and fell with the airships they built. Eight hundred years ago, one of those kingdoms became an empire conquering country after country with its’ mighty dreadnaughts of the sky. For more than three hundred years the Dolain Empire ruled the skies of Mist. In the end, it took every country and all the resources they could muster to bring down the Dolain Empire.
Of the Dolain Empires Dreadnaughts none remained. The Lorina was destroyed while docked. It is believed that commandos snuck aboard and detonated all of her munitions, scattering pieces of the once great ship for miles into the mist. The second Dreadnaught, The Karenna, was attacked and lost while in route to be refitted. She was greatly damaged protecting the convoy she was part of. Her captain drove off or destroyed all the attackers. Then transferred as much of his crew as he could to other vessels. When last seen, she was losing altitude as her crew tried to effect repairs. The Karenna was never to be seen again. The third Dreadnaught, The Forever, was sabotaged. When her crew took her out of port the airship shot into the sky. Less than fifty of her more than two thousand crew members escaped to lifeboats. Some say it floated into space never to be seen again. A man I met had another theory, one I believe. His theory was that the Forever flew so high the crew couldn’t breath and died. Then drifted with the wind until she plummeted to the mist below. His argument was if they could sabotage her lift to go up, then down was definitely within their abilities, and he pointed out they would have wanted to recover or salvage her if they could. I have always been amazed that all three of the empires dreadnaughts were destroyed in the same year.
With the destruction of the last dreadnaught the Dolain Empire soon fell. New countries rose from the ashes of the empire. Though there are sometimes small skirmishes between nations. The last great war happened more than seventy-five years before our story takes place. Mist World is a world at peace. That is if you don’t count the never-ending tide of Pirates. Mist World seems to have been made for pirates by the gods. Being able to hide in the mist when battle isn’t going your way, or the Air Corps ships spot you, has led many a good Air Captain down a bad road. Throw in countries turning a blind eye to pirates who raid countries they dislike and Mist World is a true gem for those Sky bandits.