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A Training Day for the Thyphatia’s First Wingby LoZompatore from Threshold Magazine issue 15
Preparations for a jump to a distant world
This article is an elaboration of mine of the adventure hook “Journey to Spillworld” described on pages 105 and 106 of Dawn of the Emperors (DotE).
Events of Wrath of the Immortals (WotI) for Thyatis and Alphatia will begin in spring, AC 1004 with an increase in troublemaking by rogue Thyatian warriors and Alphatian wizards and then escalate in the following months into a diplomatic crisis where Glantri is also involved.
The events described in this article happen immediately before this troubled period, at the end of a time of cooperation between the two empires following a peace treaty signed in the city of Helskir in AC 1002. The events leading up to this peace treaty are described in detail at the end of module M5 Talons of Night (M5) and are also hinted at in the adventure hook “War hawks over Helskir” on pages 105 and 106 of DotE DM’s Manual.
Way Above the Scar Mesa, Vatermont, 18th, 1004 AC
In the class: Scope of the Expedition to Spillworld
“...and this fairly well explains why the Effective Speed of the Magical Recipient in the Void equals the constant of Ruizawirri divided by the Arcane Entangling Parameter raised by the number of Hurdles to the Unimpeded Linear Travelling!
“And with this proof I conclude my little introductive lecture on the basics of void travelling1.
“I’m glad you listened with such an attentive disposition, I almost feel that the Encouraging Vines of Constriction I cast on the class were not actually necessary. Anyway I’ll dispel them in a moment, your next teacher told me that she prefers to keep you vigilant in other ways. Quite a singular approach, isn’t it?
“Well, I’d really like to enjoy your company further but I’m called to undelayable duties in my summer tower on Ambur. Lady Laryanna will take good care of you for the rest of your little excursion up to the Skyshield. Farewell, and do not forget my teachings.”
With a dazzling flash the old wizard Gallhenail the Restive disappeared and the vines slowly dissolved into puffs of smoke, leaving behind a quite shocked class. And the complaining from the class started almost immediately.
“This is an insult! An outrage! How could this crazy Alphatian ever be allowed to cast spells on us?”
“Hold your horses, sir! Lord Gallhenail honored us with his personal appearance and you - as a barely tolerated Thyatian guest on this ship - should only be grateful he did not use thorned vines to cover your body….”
“Grateful, is that so? Bah! You Alphatians are always ready to become the lackeys of any weirdo with flickering fingers, that’s the truth! You lack the most basic sense of honour.”
“By any chance, sir, are you talking about the same Thyatian honour that brings you so often to tear up the peace treaties you signed and to backstab the allies you don’t need anymore?”
“Enough is enough! Just let me break these vines and you’ll be challenged to the death, here, at once!”
But, faster than it sparkled, the quarrel was substituted by a sudden sense of calm and peace.
“Lord Aldawin of Pition and Etzera the Troubled, they told me you were among the hot-heads here, even if I must admit I placed my bet on Joli and Ulitius there. Oh, but I see both of you were gagged by the vines, I suppose you irritated your teacher, am I right?
The speaker was a slender, yet muscular middle-aged woman dressed in the new green and yellow uniform of the Joint Fleet. She stood on the doorstep with a wry smile, a patch covering her left eye under a shock of raven-black hair. She casually held in her left hand a large amulet, as big as a fist, shaped like a white dove2.
Suddenly none of the audience felt any desire to further discuss and complain. They looked at the bitter enemies of four decades sitting there among them and, maybe for the first time in their lives, they felt no resentment at all.
The students, a score of Thyatian and Alphatian humans and demi-humans of the most diverse ages and lineages, were selected to become the bulk of the crew for the Thyphatia, the greatest voidship ever built on Mystara.
The woman on the doorstep exploited these moments of perplexed silence to continue her speech:
“So, let’s forget about these petty squabbles. And do not worry, class, your colleagues on the Dawning Dream state that the marks on your skin caused by the vines will vanish in a couple of days. Most of the marks, at least.
“Let me introduce myself. I am Laryanna of Apitah and I will be your commanding officer from now on. My full personal title is First Wing Captain Lady Laryanna of Apitah, Lady Knight of Eltima, which is the small estate in Hattias which I administer in the name of the Emperor. But you can just call me ‘boss’ and it will be okay.
“Please do not be misled by my Eastern appearance, by my Alphatian inflection and by the Thyatian gladius here on my side. I am a former decorated officer of the Retebius Air Fleet and now I am part of the Knights of the Air. And I am also an experienced War Mage of Alphatia from Eagret Academy. I was born in Thothia, then my family moved and I grew up not far from the Scar Mesa, during the interesting times of the Tylion IV campaigns3. Later on I found myself stranded on the wrong side of the front a couple of times too many - I guess you know the petty skirmishes at Nordmannvik and at the Ashton Woods4 - and so I ended up seeing way more bloodshed than I like to remember. Oh, and I had the rare privilege to fight with and against both of you, Alphatians and Thyatians. And, also, from both of you I managed to earn favor and respect. There is a precise reason I was chosen to lead your group so, please, do not believe I will tolerate any disrespect based on lineage. Any questions on that?”
“Well, Lady Laryanna, with all due resp….”
“Ok, I’m happy this issue has been solved so quickly. Let’s go ahead with our lesson, then.
“As you know you have been selected by your commanders to form the First Wing of the Thyphatia, the main carrier vessel of our expedition to the many planets of Spillword. All of you are experienced veterans from the ranks of the two Imperial Air Fleets. Our expedition will not be able to field additional skilled air-knights, at least until the rookies get some experience.
“To you - to us - will be placed the burden of protecting our scouts and support ships from external aggression. We will also be asked to act as explorers, messengers and ambassadors, if needed. Anw we must do it in an entirely new environment, as the astronomers of Ambur insist on telling us.
“Our fleet is going to cross the boundary of Mystara’s air shell and plunge into the cold, airless Void which stretches beyond, until after a few days we’ll reach a magical wormhole, a gate which shows the faraway crowded planetary region of Spillworld. Once there, we’ll explore it and establish outposts and colonies before coming back to the Scar Mesa with our load of glory, wealth, new allegiances and information to be shared by the two Empires.
“We don’t know which kind of perils await us in the Void, inside the turbulent wormhole or among the floating celestial bodies of Spillworld. That’s why we need the most diverse competencies: from Thyatians, Alphatians, other human and non-human cultures. And that’s why we must work together to become a strong and unified team.”
“Ehm.. boss… which magical process is the origin of the wormhole? That wacky wizard who just gave us that wacky lesson was apparently in love with the sentence: ‘Master the causes of magic and you’ll master the consequences of magic!’ as he shouted it at us at least twenty seven times. So, who - what - created the wormhole?”
“Lady Timairie, I strongly suggest that you not explicitly insult the honour or the capabilities of Lord Gallhenail, at least not before the vines are fully dissolved. As you see their grip on your body has tightened and they are growing some nasty spines. Spell customization, a common hobby among Alphatian Archmages during the XIXth century5. Now you’ll probably be the last one to be freed and the whole class will have to wait for you.
“Anyway, as it seems we have some more time to spare, this is what I know about the whole matter. The gate opened seven years ago, the astronomers of Ambur discovered it almost immediately but the information was not deemed important by the Alphatian government until a couple of years ago. Norwold colonization, then the impending millennium, then the crisis with the Thyatians6 and the peace conference7, you know.
“The sages of Ambur and of the rest of the Empire used these years of neglect to thoroughly study the wormhole and detail the worlds that were visible through this tear in the fabric of space. They provided us with a wonderfully coloured and annotated map of what was visible in the wormhole but, with respect to the real nature and origin of this phenomenon, their discoveries were close to zero.
“The truth is that no one knows how and why these wormholes form. Some sages believe that the magical tunnels are nothing but the way used by planets to communicate and exchange living species. Assuming that planets could be considered intelligent beings, of course8. Others believe that all the points of the Multiverse are connected by an underlying network of such wormholes which open and close with a predictable - albeit extremely difficult to calculate - periodicity9. Others relate the wormholes to the will of sume superior being like the Immortals or the Elemental Masters. And, maybe, the truth is that all these mechanisms could be in place at the same time.
“Our knowledge about void travelling greatly increased in the last few decades, mostly thanks to Alphatian and Heldannic10 explorers who - after many millennia - became the first who managed to venture into the empty space surrounding our world. But I must admit that the joint Thyatian - Alphatian expedition to the Arch of Fire in Norwold, well, this represented the major breakthrough. It happened almost exactly four years ago, and many things changed in the world since then.
“But , oh, I see that the last vines just dissolved right now. As the whole class is free now I guess we had better leave this room and move to where the real lesson will be. Please follow me as we reach the upper deck. I’ll continue briefing you along the way. We’ll also have a couple of educational stops along the way”
The class moved quietly along a winding set of rooms and corridors full of busy airmen and golems. None of them seemed to pay attention to the score of knights, orders to “prepare for the border approach” were shout across the ship, prompting people to secure goods and bring unknown equipment to the upper decks.
Moving to the upper deck: Composition of the Fleet
Laryanna continued her speech as they moved to the center of the ship.
“The fleet is close to completion down on the Scar Mesa, so the crash course on this support ship is all you’ll have before we’ll be on route to the wormhole that will lead us to Spillword. The Voidpiercer you are now on is the fastest flying ship of the fleet, it will always be in the vanguard of the formation and, likely, you’ll dock with it often. Please take advantage of the time you are spending on it to familiarize yourselves with its deck plans.
“We are currently moving to the central section of the middle deck, where your steeds are lodged. This ship is able to support a full wing of air-knights - twenty knights with their steeds. Please notice that only the Voidpiercer has such a large capacity after the Thypathia herself. The other escort ships - The Dawning Dream and the Pointless Titan - are just two light Man-of-War vessels and can accommodate a maximum of ten mounted knights each, so be careful to home in the right ship after a mission.
“The Thypathia, of course, will usually harbour our mounted Wing along with the Second and Third Wings and the Reserve Wing of the rookies. She is the largest carrier of her class in the whole Alphatian Empire, maybe in the whole of Mystara.
“The Thyphatia was hastily laid down two years ago to fight back the Thyatian invasion of Norwold but the Rapture11 and the Treaty of Helskir came before her completion. Her role was changed after the opening of the wormhole to Spillword. Now the ship is undergoing the last adjustments before her official launch, scheduled within a couple of months. By that time we should be able to negotiate the void and maneuver as a single unit.
“The whole fleet of four ships will man around 2300 people among humans, demi-humans and, well, ‘others’ plus some 100 flying steeds and 200 common horses. Most of the crews will be made by people with multiple skills and at least some fighting or magical ability. We hope this little army will be enough to face most of the difficulties we’ll meet in the exploration of the flying rocks of Spillword. And, when some obstacle show themselves as too hard to be overcome, let’s just hope our ships are fast enough to flee.”
“Excuse me, lady… ehm, boss! What is the proportion among Alphatians and Thyat…”
“Dear Sir Koath, I’m not going to reveal how many Alphatians, Thyatians, Thothians or Norsemen or Brunians are embarked on the fleet, discover it by yourself if you care. Anyway I assure you we have the right blend of people. We are going to represent the human race on alien worlds, hopefully this will be enough should the aliens try to destroy or enslave us.
“Well, as you see we have reached the stables of the ship. You’ll recognize your personal mounts. Notice you all were selected among pegasus-riders or hippogriff-riders. There was simply not enough room on the ships for larger flying beasts - griffons, wyverns and dragons. If we manage to find some of them during our voyage we’ll see if they may be enlisted into our fleet.
“Oh, I almost forgot. Here is Sir Dalpheus, our trusted Master Caretaker of the Mounts. You’ll meet him more often than your comrades while on the Thypathia. As you see, he is a pegataur, a guarantee the basic needs of flying mounts and common horses are properly met. We’ll have twenty of his race dispersed among the fleet, acting as messenger and caretakers for the mounts. In case of need they’ll act as a supplementary Wing, one of the little tricks of our flexible force, but in normal operations please do not ask for assistance from them, we’ll have to count on ourselves.”
“Lady Laryanna, just let me add that we are also going to give your squires a proper training on how to look after the quadrupeds - some of them were in such an uncomfortable condition that I’m wondering how they managed to restrain themselves from unsaddling you knights and just enjoying your fall from the heights!”
“Please, Dalpheus, take patience, the knights come from years of wars and campaigning in Norwold and the Isle of Dawn. They were too busy covering themselves with glory to pay much attention to their faithful steeds. But don’t worry, I’ll take note of your complaint and I’ll make sure that when you provide the training to the squires all my class will attend, too. Is it clear, ladies and gentlemen?” Again, the dove amulet swung swiftly in Laryanna’s hand.
The class was silent; none uttered a word.
“No answers! Right, then we have an agreement. I’m so glad we are so close to becoming a real military unit of this expedition. Now, let’s go to the upper deck, the mounts will follow you shortly but you have a very important meeting you cannot miss.”
Meeting with the Admiral: Properties of the skyshield
The class followed on the upper deck, the knights found themselves outdoors for the first time since their boarding on the Scar Mesa. It was late morning, but the Voidpiercer was floating in dark blue surroundings. Right above the deck the sky was black and, over the masts, some stars were faintly visible. Mystara was very far away below, covered in a blue glaze and the horizon was definitely round. Clouds and other ground features were barely discernible12.
“First Wing, we are now at the very boundary between our world and the external Void. This is what the sages call the Skyshield. You are watching our beloved Mystara from a sheer elevation of 80’000 feet. I guess this is slightly more than your average cruise altitude, am I right?”
“This is simply not possible, Milady” Lady Chay spoke quietly and slowly in her typical Ochalean inflection but she intentionally avoided using the addressing term suggested by her officer “As we all experienced many times before, as soon as we reach one third of this elevation then strong, gusting winds will appear and force us to lower altitudes. Even magic starts behaving strangely and flying spells are not of much help13.”
“Lady ebony-tresses here is right, ‘boss’. Moreover it is a matter of fact that air at the ‘buffering elevations’ is already very cold, thin and turbulent, while here we are as comfortable as if suntanning on Bluenose Beach. I guess our surroundings are just an illusion! By chance, did you manage to hire the services of Sanruul of Hue14? I heard he was going to impress the world with his Persistent and Surrounding Omni-Sensorial Illusory Scenario of Astonishing Detail.”
“Lord Ghendlir and Lady Chay, let me answer these questions for you” A short, almost diminutive, old man dressed in a high officer uniform of the Alphatian Navy entered the circle of knights assembled on the empty bridge. The man looked at every face, one by one, with a friendly smile on his tanned, wrinkled face. A pair of short moustaches and a hat too large for his head completed the image of a thoroughly inoffensive individual, someone totally unprepared for a risky and dangerous mission to the uncharted void.
“First Wing! Attention! Lord Admiral Cadman Mc Larseem on the bridge!” Shouted Lady Laryanna, surprised like the others by the sudden appearance of the officer. “Sir, we we expected your review at noon, but we are ready for the inspection right now, if you so like.”
“At ease. There will be enough time for the inspection later, Lady Laryanna, I just wanted to see my crew on the job while it is still unaware of being scrutinized by a senior officer. I hope you’ll forgive this little trick I set up with the approval of Captain Syldra. I’m really glad she agreed: a curious and inquisitive attitude is a must for the commander of the vanguard exploration ship of our little fleet.”
“And now, back to the questions, I guess the best way to show you this is not an illusion is with a practical demonstration associated with a little of emotional content, which is always useful for a better memorization.”
While the Admiral was delivering this speech he calmly approached the balustrade of the bridge and, by his last word, he jumped outside with a single nimble movement.
The shocked knights and other alarmed airmen rushed to the balustrade but no trace of the falling body of the Admiral was found. Laryanna stood on the back, silently smiling. And then, suddenly, from the opposite side of the bridge, a roaring voice addressed the crowd.
“As I just proved to you by passing under the hull, the ship is truly suspended in air. And now, you’ll see the Skyshield from above. Commander Syldra! Full zenithal speed! Let’s jump into the Void!”
The ship started moving up and entered a strange region of glowing air, while the immediate surroundings of the ship seemed to be unaffected. But the attention of the knights and the rest of the crew was monopolised by the shape assumed by the Admiral: a fiery gold dragon was towering on the starboard. A mighty breath of fire at a safe distance above the masts stressed the real nature of the dragon.
“Behold Eodross, Champion of the Skies! This is the true nature of our Admiral!” participated Laryanna “and of the Captains of the ships of our fleet as well. They are all dragons. They accepted the challenge of guiding us through the void up to Spillworld, and to act as a neutral and respected authority over the endless squabbles of Thyatians and Alphatians.”
“Precisely, Lady Laryanna. Your Emperors put their trust in us and we are not going to disappoint such distinguished representatives of your race. Our experience of the Void is at your service and, while in human form, we will guide the ships as your commanding officers. Should the need arise, our true form will act as a suitable backup to the military power we will be able to project. Another little secret of our flexible fleet.
“Anyway, as we are talking about tactics and dragons, we have already crossed the Skyshield. As you see the stars have become much more visible and the globe below us is dimly glowing with flickers of light. Now all the air of Mystara is below us, except for the sphere surrounding us. Because, you see, the Voidpiercer is now enclosed in a little Skyshield of its own,a bubble detached from the main Skyshield of our world which was ‘persuaded’ to surround our ship and wrap around it.
“A very special member of our crew is responsible for this effect, which grants us a safe and comfortable reserve of warm, calm, breathable air for the whole duration of our travel. A major breakthrough with respect to the inefficient and primitive systems of keeping a clean reserve of air which were adopted in the other voidships.
“But I’d really like Lady Laryanna to tell you the details of this story, as she had a pretty important role in uncovering the secret of this magic and bringing it to the humans. And now, if you will excuse me, I have some navigational details to discuss with Captain Syldra. The knights have the rest of the morning to train on the first void maneuvering exercise, then we’ll have the formal review at noon. Lady Laryanna, please inform the First Wing and the off-duty airmen on how we manage to create the air bubbles. So long, Void explorers!”
As the dragon approached the quarterdeck turning back into a human to talk with the waiting captain of the Voidpiercer, Laryanna assembled the crowd to provide the details requested by her Admiral.
On the upper deck: How the Skyshield was tamed
“Well, as we are waiting for the mounts to be brought on the upper deck by Sir Dalpheus and your squires, I guess the right thing to do is to tell the story from the start.
“While in class I was telling you about a joint Alphatian-Thyatian expedition to the Arch of Fire in Norwold, which happened on the year of the Millennium15. Actually, I was part of the Thyatian wing of Knights of the Air who took part in the expedition. Everything I saw is still clear in my mind as if it happened just yesterday.
“We left from the northern Isle of Dawn heading west from a place called Finnegar’s Watch16, I guess some of you know about this golden throne at the top of a lone mountain. Our assignment was to explore the western slopes of the Icereach Range, just outside the claimed borders of the kingdom of Norwold, which we were forced to fly over.
Once close to our destination, and not far from the Arch of Fire, our party got embroiled in a skirmish between a small army of fire giants and some barons of Norwold - including Claransa and Fergus and Broghann17 and a few others.
“The barons were trying to clear out an endangered village sieged by the giants who apparently, were retaliating against the deeds of the local noblemen, a recently dead cleric called Kwyll18. Before you interrupt me again with the same old story of Alphatians and Thyatians: most people in Norwold do not have a single drop of Alphatian blood in their veins. They just sweared their fealty and allegiance to the King of Norwold, a title more theoretical than real. All the barons involved in the fight were Brunians, and I do not have a clue about the birthplace of that Kwyll.
“All of this happened well before the Peace Conference of Helskir, our expedition was not obliged to intervene in any way but, hey, there were humans in the wilderness endangered by hostile humanoids. So we lent a hand to the barons of Norwold.
“Ok, we were grounded by bad weather. We also needed some supplies. And a guarantee for safe passage back over Norwold, but the barons were indeed really happy of our help!
“Once defeated, the fleeing fire giants retreated to a mountaintop closer to the Arch of Fire, in a place hitherto unexplored by Alphatians or Thyatians.
“There, on a barren cliff facing a full view of the majestic arch of lava connecting the two volcanoes, we found the ruins of an ancient Thothian temple. The fire giants fled close to the temple, close enough to awake the many undead guardians of the complex, and then they quickly fled jumping into a river of lava, where we could not follow. They set up a nice trap for us, I must say.
“A gruelling battle ensued, and I lost many friends and an eye there. But the combined martial and magical might of both groups proved enough to defeat those undead. Once the temple was free to be explored, my companions were able to decipher the name of this place as “Tokoramses’ Watch”19. It was some kind of observatory for fire-related phenomena built by the mythical Thothian20 pharaoh Tokoramses V, the Far Traveller. Not that we know anything about him at that time.
“Well, there we found also a vast crypt enshrining an odd-looking ship and loads over loads of crumbling sheets of written papyrus. An ancient voidship and the captain’s log. Our group had an ‘agreement’ with the Norwold barons over the integrity of the sheets and the opportunity to make a copy of all the documents also for the Thyatians. We also took some parts of the ship with us, just in case.
“And so, in Thyatis and Sundsvall and Sclaras and Ar and in many other places a small army of sages, scholars, engineers, elementalists and astronomers studied all that could possibly be studied on these findings. A lot of information was lost, some was stolen, other bits mysteriously disappeared or turned into garbled scrawls before a thorough study could be performed21. But, in the end, we knew enough about the voidship to infer its working principle. It also explained why such voidships cannot be built by the Alphatians alone since their arrival on Mystara22.
“The reason was that, in order to properly fly into the Void, the cooperation of an air elemental and a fire elemental was necessary. The two beings had to stay together in the same engine room of the same ship and use the opposing nature of their very elemental essences as the motive power of the vessel. This cooperation grants extremely good speed rates in the void, is immune to mechanical wearing and is less affected by magic dispelling.
“Moreover the air elemental is able to easily persuade the Skyshield to bend forming bubbles around Skyships and creatures while the fire elemental provides additional - and literal - firepower to the ships. The advantages of this method of propulsion are really too many to leave it untested.”
“This is unbelievable, boss! Both elementals will try to destroy each other at first sight. And with it, also the ship where they were summoned.”
“Sir Garisil, if someone told me this story a couple of years ago I would have agreed with you. But I actually saw the two elementals, acting as intertwined whirlwinds of air and fire, spiralling inside the large magical metallic shell that turns their energy into motive power. They do not touch each other and do not seem to show any wish to kill or destroy. Elementalists say that the magical energy released is so much that they have to damp it in many ways otherwise the chamber will explode. This very ship is powered by Wuuou and Karakt’t, our esteemed Elemental Chief Engineers from the Plane of Air and the Plane of Fire. Their title was never used more appropriately, by the way!”
“Ok, I’m not questioning your words, boss, but how is it possible to put two opposing elements into the same box and expect they do not violently react? This is against the basic rules of elemental magic! Any seven-year-old student in any countryside school of magic knows this by heart!”
“Skepticism is a good thing, Sir Garisil, except when it become a nuisance to your superior officers. Anyway, the Thothians discovered a spell that can do the trick. I assume this is some kind of ‘elemental charm’ or ‘illusionary mask’ magic that masque the real nature of the other elemental being to the recipient, preventing it from attacking its companion. A copy of this spell was found in the ancient temple, and this revolutionized our understanding of the elemental worlds. The scroll with the original spell is still under intense study at the University of Aasla and in the city of Retebius.23”
“Yes, boss, but how is it possible to persuade such beings to stay in our world? Common lore is full of tales of dangerous elementals who escaped the bounds of their conjurers and started a bloody rampage against everyone and everything around:”
“Lady Chay, this is because the elementals are not here against their own free will. We’ll leave these barbaric methods to rogue wizards without any sense of decency. Wuuou and Karakt’t are actually under regular contract for five years in our fleet. They will receive a regular ‘pay’ - at least, what could be considered a valuable thing in elemental terms - which is suitable to their senior officers’ rank. Moreover they will have maximum authority over their field of competence, they’ll have their rest turns and also the right to be addressed as Lord or Lady when spoken to. The same is true for the other elemental couples in the rest of the fleet. There is no reason not to be civil with people coming from different Planes of Existence.”
“Sorry.. ehm... boss, you said that our air elemental is able to bend the shield around the world to wrap ships and people and other things. How this is possible? Is the shield affected by air elemental magic? I guess it is so, as we are very high in the sky, but we aren’t in the world of the air elementals, right? This thing really puzzles me.”
“The Thothian papyruses explained that the Skyshield is actually a living thing. It is a layer of spherical creatures connected together - scholars call them air proteans24. Such proteans vary in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a horse or so but they are so transparent that is impossible to discern them from thin air without the aid of magical vision.
“This life form adapted to live both in our world and in the Elemental Plane of Air, and they are fairly common in both places. That’s why the air-proteans are affected by the magic from our Wuuou. I must admit that she - because Wuuou is a female elemental, and very touchy about this subject - became very skilled in convincing these runts into doing whatever she likes.
“We don’t know for sure if the proteans are intelligent beings, I believe their behaviour is close to that of a flock of sheep who stay together for protection, and maybe the elemental acts like a shepherd - or possibly, like his dog - but I might be utterly wrong on this. The air-proteans feed on the humidity of air and on energy from the sun and, indeed, they are magical creatures.
“They definitely prevent air from Mystara from dispersing into the Void and they also slowly purify it from toxic and poisonous substances. We noticed a limited ability for the proteans to move in order to close a rip in their layer or to merge with another layer of air-proteans. And, of course, if properly ‘persuaded’ they are able to wrap around a body trying to cross their layer and to keep winds, pressure and temperature at fairly reasonable levels inside the air bubble they create. Should we lose our air elemental’s conditions, the air inside the bubble would rapidly become uncomfortable for us, to say the least.
“So said, the important thing you must always, always keep in mind is this: as soon as you are in the Void, the air elementals in our ships will provide you with a shell of breathable air, even when you leave the fleet. The air reserve in these personal bubbles is not infinite but it should last for the tasks we are expected to perform.
“The personal bubble you are in will connect back to the bubble of the ship as soon as you come back. Special instructions could be sent to the proteans by the air elemental in case you wish to explore a world with an atmosphere, so that you will not lose your air shell when coming back to the ship. But such details can be handled at a later time should the need arise.
“Please do not ask me to further delve into the subject; the Elementalists of the fleet will be more than happy to provide other details once we have left for Spillworld. There will be plenty of time for theoretical discussions on the subject.
“I see your steeds were moved on the deck. Prepare yourselves for your first ride into the Void and listen to the recommendations of Master Dalpheus about the mounts. I’ll give you further instructions in a while but now I have to report to the Admiral. ”
Void knights: Thoughts from the quarterdeck
As the knights reached their squires and the pegataurs prepared to saddle up, Lady Laryanna moved to the quarterdeck, where the Admiral was still talking with Captain Syldra - the gold dragon Shaeldrintel disguised as an elvish elder woman, slightly overweight. When asked to mask their real identity the dragons selected rather ordinary appearances, she thought. Nothing inspirational for the crew, indeed, but maybe they will compensate with their personalities.
“Sirs, the First Wing properly received the introductory instructions and, in a few minutes, they will be ready for its maiden flight. I gave order to the support officers to assist us in the training and they’ve already taken position outside the Voidpiercer. All potential quarrelling among the Knights were quelled by the magical charm that was assigned to me, as the Admiral correctly predicted.
“Excellent, Lady Laryanna, at rest. My personal launch will also assist you in the operations in the Void. Syldra, would you mind taking care of this matter? Thank you.”
“Of course, Admiral, it will be my pleasure to relate your orders to the Glittergale crew. Excuse me.” As Syldra left the quarterdecks Laryanna noticed both dragons were smiling. Almost immediately the Admiral came to the point.
“And so, Laryanna, what do you wish to ask me in private? One cannot become the admiral of an expedition to the uncharted Void without identifying when one of his officers is tormented by some inner conflict.”
“Uh...Sir… well… Thank you. I do not wish to waste your precious time but… er… as you know I was present at Tokoramses’ Watch: there I read about Nebta25 and I was also among the members of the secret expedition of the Pointless Titan to these ruins. A whole Thothian complex of ancient temples built on a pitch black asteroid, hanging from a fixed point in the sky way above the sands of Ylaruam. And guarded by one of your kind. Nekapiroth the Atramentous would have never allowed free passage if Captain Terdienth did not vouch for us introducing our party as acting under the approval of Windreach26.
“Admiral, I am a Thothian, I can read the ancient inscriptions on our temples. Our visit in Nebta was reduced to the minimum time needed to take the missing information we needed about Void travelling but I managed to have a glimpse at the stories told by the hieroglyphs there. The Thothians knew of the wormhole, they came from the wormhole. And they helped the ancient Alphatians and even the Thyatians in crossing it and reaching Mystara.
“And then I talked with the Norwold barons who went to the great Library of Edairo shortly before the Rapture, the same that were involved in the rescue mission of the two Emperors27. We helped many of these barons at Tokoramses’ Watch and, since then, we… well.. stayed in touch. The nobles told me that in Edairo they read fragments of crumbling documents where the Alphatians, the Thothians and the Thyatians are collectively called ‘the Star People’28.
“Most surprisingly, the Thyatians came to Mystara through a magical chariot of fire, and they were welcomed by the Thothians! There are ancient legends about the early Thyatians who were enslaved by an unknown powerful enemy, who deported them from Norwold to Davania, many centuries before they reached their current homeland. I wonder if this enemy was actually Thothia, as if things got worse shortly after the initial welcoming of the Thyatians29.
“And then, Sir, I must tell you the part that mostly shames me, for I broke a solemn oath. I will accept any punishment you wish to deliver but I beg you to listen to my report until the end. I know very well that I was sworn to secrecy about my experiences in Nebta, but I had the sensation that the barons had something more to tell me. So I told them about the asteroid and the Thothian ruins. They were really impressed by the discoveries we made and started wondering about the use of such a facility and the powers of the ancient Thothians30.
“Then, three of the barons called Claransa, Fergus and Geoffrey asked for a private talk with me. I don’t know why they made this decision: maybe out of the same mix of guilt and curiosity I was feeling at the moment or, maybe just to return me the favour. Whatever their reasoning, they decided to break their own oath of silence and recounted a very strange journey they had a few years ago. Their fleet - common seagoing vessels, not designed for air or void travelling - was sucked into a huge maelstrom while sailing in Norzee31.
“The maelstrom brought the ships into a huge bubble of space filled with air where they found the ruins of the ancient Alphatian homeworld. There they met the descendants of those who were left behind when Ancient Alphatia was destroyed.
“Comparing their tale with the available information about our destinations, my belief is that the maelstrom actually was connected to the wormhole, and it discharged the fleet somewhere into Spillworld, where the worlds of the mighty empire of Ancient Alphatia were located. Where the homeworld of the Thothians, the Thyatians, the Glantrians, the Ochaleans32 and the Immortals’ know who else are located.
“Sir. I had the strong feeling that dragons already knew all of this. That’s why they guard the temple of Nebta. And somehow in Windreach the dragons decided to help us in this mission. You want us to find our ancestors, don’t you? If I am going to risk my life and that of all the knights under my command - provided you still want me as an officer in your fleet - I believe I need to know who I am going to fight, and why.”
The Admiral stood in front of Lady Laranna, his smile not diminished by a bit. His lips moved swiftly and subtly, pronouncing arcane words in the ancient language of dragons. When he switched back to the Alphatian language his words had an eerie metallic echo in Laryanna’s ears.
“Captain Laryanna, you will not be punished for your insubordination and you will be allowed to keep your position in the fleet. But, from now on, I will place a geas on you, and you will be magically forbidden to report in any way anything you learnt in Norwold, in Nebta and in this conversation with me. The geas will be relieved at the end of your mission in Spillworld.
“And now, about the scope of our voyage. The Emperors are aware of the information you so cleverly accumulated, as are the dragons. There is increasing evidence that the Alphatians and the Thyatians come from the same world. The proportion of magic users born in Thyatis City is not so different to that in Sundsvall, with the difference that such gifted people among Thyatians usually do not receive a formal training in the use of magic, or are intentionally moved to the fringes of the Empire to stay out of the way. Have you ever wondered why the top Thyatian archmages are encouraged to move to the island of Sclaras? If the population does not see them around and does not spot their towers dotting the countryside, then it could more easily be persuaded that martial and mundane skills are predominant among the Thyatians. And yet, I assure you that the proportion of top Thyatian archmages is identical to that of the Alphatians33.
“There is also an ancient human legend stating that the first Thyatians, Kerendans, Hattians were led by a commander named ‘Lord Thyatis’, whose mentor was Alphaks34. Alphaks I, the cursed last emperor of Ancient Alphatia who led his world to destruction. Apparently, this ‘Lord Thyatis’ disowned his old master following the war with the Followers of the Air and led a group of refugees to Mystara using the great chariot of fire you already mentioned. This happened two thousands years ago. There are more than a few living dragons who were young at that time35 but, unfortunately, they have somewhat fuzzy memories of the event36. We only know for sure that the wormhole to Spillword was open at that time, and that Nebta was still manned by the Thothians.
“Our theory is that the Thothians helped the Thyatians and, possibly, also the Alphatians, in reaching Mystara through the open wormhole. And they did so because, according to other human legends, they too were part of the same people! The Thothians just moved to Mystara from Spillworld a millennium earlier, at the previous opening of the gate37. We believe they could have been a splinter group of settlers from Ancient Alphatia who was left stranded on Mystara for some time, before they were able to develop powerful enough magic in order to recontact their homeworld.
“Then there was the Cape Alpha affair. Many of our people were alive at that time and the real course of the events can be retraced. The wormhole opened again one thousand years ago, bringing to Mystara a number of Void-faring pirates called the Pyritheans38 and another group of human colonists likely related to the ancient Thyatians39. The Pyritheans were stranded in northern Davania, established a dominion there among the ruins of the Milenian Empire and slowly became the people of Emerond. The other settlers followed the same ancient route of Lord Thyatis’ migration and reached Norwold. There they established the colony of Cape Alpha, and looked for assistance from their kin in Thyatis City. Unfortunately, a treaty had already been signed with the Alphatians about Norwold’s neutrality, and the settlement of Cape Alpha was destroyed. Most of the would-be settlers moved to the Thyatian Empire, mixing with the existing populations.
“Our expedition is going to Spillworld to shed some light in all of this. Is Ancient Alphatia really a part of Spillworld? Were the Alphatians, Thyatians, Kerndians, Hattians, Espans, Thothians, Ochaleans, Yasuko, Emerondians, Pyritheans, Beltharians, Gammarians40 and others all part of a unique people? It looks like the Immortals wished to fill Mystara with distinctive human stocks taken from the same part of the galaxy, maybe as an attempt to accelerate the repopulation of the world after the catastrophe of the Great Rain of Fire.
Table 1: Spillworld Wormholes
Some possible passages through the periodical wormhole linking Mystara to Spillworld
Wormhole Closure Date
Passage from Spillword to Mystara
Passage from Mystara to Spillworld
Alphaks’ meteor to Darokin / Glantri
Norwold / Qeodhar fleet to Ancient Alphatia
Combined Alphatian / Thyatian fleet (Thypatia and support ships)
Raiders of the Pyrithian Archipelago (Emerondians)
Thyatian colonists of Cape Alpha
Followers of the Air (progenitors of Alphatians, Ochaleans and Yasuko)
Followers of the Flame led by Lord Thyatis (progenitors of Thyatians, Kerendans, Hattians)
Blackmoorish explorers (before the GROF)
Blackmoorish refugees (after the GROF)
“If we do ever find any answers to these questions then the history of Mystara will take a different turn. If we can show that Thyatians and Alphatians are part of the same people maybe we could put an end to all of the wars.
“And that’s why we need a strong and competent escort for our mothership. Captain Laryanna, now that your curiosity has been satisfied, I guess it would be quite time to resume the training of your soldiers.”
The last few words of the Admiral switched back to the usual tone and Lady Laryanna suddenly woke up from her dazed state of conscience.
“Thank you Sir, I concur. Time to start the training in the Void. Excuse me but my duty awaits.”
“Turn them into a real team, Laryanna. Those cocky imperial troublemakers do not have a clue on the real perils of our long journey. And the safety of our expedition lays mostly in their hands. Good luck and teach them something they’ll remember!”
The Admiral stood on the quarterdeck, as Laryanna moved to the main bridge, shouting orders to knights and airmen alike.
“Ok, knights! Thanks to the air bubbles you’ll notice no big differences between the usual flight you are accustomed to. But this is a tricky feeling, as in the Void there are no air currents and there is no true “down” to fall into. You cannot use gusts of wind to dive or dodge an enemy attack, there is no possibility to hide in the clouds or among the rocky spurs of a ridge.
“Oh and if, by chance, you lose grasp on your steed or if the steed dies, you’ll tumble forever in the Void with very little hope of being rescued before all breathable air in your bubble is depleted, or before dying of starvation. Assume your poor air-proteans will provide you with, maybe, a week worth of fresh air in the bubble but, as you consume it at a faster rate than they are able to purify it, and considering that very little water and food is available in the bubble, the end - your end - is already written.
“This is a way more agonizing death than splatting on the ground at terminal speed so, please, try at all costs to avoid this!
“But fear not! No one is going to lose their life this way during this training day: the Admiral’s own launch from the Thyphatia will act as a rescue vessel for the many knights I assume will get stranded today. Although I really beg you to surprise me by keeping the formation and by executing just what will be told to you.
“Now, a few words about communication. Words cannot travel the Void. You shout and not one of your companions will hear you. Some sound-based spells do not work either, but I’ll leave those to a later time in the training. You can speak with some hope of being heard only if you manage to touch the air bubble of your companion with your own air bubble. But, as you guess, this is not a common occurrence while engaged in a frenzied dogfight.
“The transmission of thought could be a brilliant solution to this problem but, unfortunately, we did not manage to find enough air-combat-trained telepaths on both Empires to fill the ranks of our Wings. That’s why we installed these fancy, colored, highly-reflective banners on your saddles. They represent common orders and replies such as ‘swoop’, ‘regroup’ ‘Yes’, ‘No’ and so on. We established a pretty nice code by merging Alphatian and Thyatian air navies’ signals that should do the trick. And that you must learn as soon as possible, starting from this very first lesson.
“And finally: always, always remember rule number one of mounted flight: The power to fly and establish the direction of movement lays in your steed, not in you. You can only persuade the mount to do what you wish.
“So, back in the saddle, knights! You’ll leave the Voidpiercer in groups of two, I’ll call your names from my list. Dame Ritayna and Sir Oxameron, the Captains of our Second and Third Wings, are here to assist us in the training. They are already placed outside the ship, you’ll easily spot them at the port and starboard bow. Approach the officer which shows you a raised banner. Your first exercise is to form a line between the two Captains. As we’ll still be inside the Voidpiercer air bubble this should not be a difficult task at all.
“As soon the line is completed we’ll move outside the air bubble and you’ll be enclosed by your own air-protean shield and we’ll get to the heart of our training.
“So let’s begin! First pair: Sir Kohat and Lady Timairie! Ready to leave the ship. Next pair: Lord Ghendlir and Sir Adra-Huti!”
Epilogue: The secret of the Thyphatia
Admiral Mc Larseem - Eodross the Gilded - allowed himself some sharp freethinking while listening to the initial part of Laryanna’s lesson. He watched the knights leaving the deck and then the air bubble, engaging in a set of predetermined maneuvers. The knights, the airmen, the pegataurs and, basically, everybody else in the fleet were preferably chosen from among those without a family of their own. If this was not possible, then the closest relatives were enlisted in the fleet, too. The Thyphatia was going to be crowded with children and maids and elder people.
Those who questioned the presence of such a large group of non-fighting personnel in a military expedition were told that this solution would give such a diverse crew a greater motivation to join forces for the protection of their loved ones.
An inquisitive soul would have also discovered that the proportion between males and females in the fleet was roughly equal, quite an odd thing for the standard composition of Thyatian and Alphatian ships. Other suspicious details could potentially include the large greenhouses and the thorough library of magical scrolls of the Thyphatia, the great number of masonry and carpentry equipment distributed among the ships, or the ‘civil works specialization’ of the dwarvish team of siege engineers led by Wulgum the Stonecrafter. In the organized chaos of the final preparations no one still managed to figure out the whole picture and place the right questions to the commanding officers.
For the Emperors expected the fleet to leave and never come back. The Thyphatia is nothing but a colony ship aimed to establish an independent settlement among the planets of Spillworld.
Dragons have a long memory and never forgot how to master the Void, so they know very well the nature of the wormhole leading to Spillworld. The gate is periodical, it stays open for no more than a decade every thousand years. Its closure is expected within the next three years; once closed, Spillworld and Mystara will disappear from each other’s skies and the connection between them will be broken. Any attempt to cross the abyss of space separating these worlds has failed, even with Voidships, even with teleportation magic. It looks like Spillworld is located very far from Mystara. The best estimates of the dragons evaluate an almost incomprehensible distance, perhaps a third of a galaxy away41.
Only very long lived beings such as dragons could reach Spillworld and then wait there for the next re-opening so as to come back to Mystara a thousand years later. Those who faced this ordeal brought back a description of what lies on the other side of the wormhole - remnants of civilizations who once were great on Mystara or on Spillworld and crossed the bridge across the Void to establish their forgotten colonies on the other side.
And now it was the time of the Thyatians and Alphatians. Mystaran dragons themselves would take advantage of this expedition to establish their own outpost: a warm and safe room above the Thyphatia’s magical engine would provide shelter to more than two dozen dragon eggs of all colours. This was part of the agreement the two Emperors secretly established in Windreach in exchange for the help of the dragons in leading the fleet.
Eodross was among those who listened to the passionate speech by Emperor Thincol and Empress Eriadna at the Parliament of Dragons - an honour appointed to very few humans and that, most likely, represented the highest point of the life of the two rulers. Eodross still remembered the details of the dream the two Emperors had during the Rapture.
Both of them referred to the same experience: the dragons had their methods to verify it was not induced by magic and it was not a falsehood agreed to in advance in order to impress the audience. Instead, they discovered that the dream was more likely some kind of common mystical experience, maybe a warning sent by the Immortals themselves.
Immediately after the Rapture, the two Emperors and their retinue found themselves in a unknown nightmarish land where everything was dark and dead42. There they were forced to work together to survive. The place was definitely not on Mystara nor on the Prime Plane, for no sun, moon or stars were visible, only a perpetual dusk gave some light to the cold, black, rugged landscape filled with dead vegetation. The flesh of the stranded humans was rotting and worm-filled but all of them were nonetheless alive. Roaming monsters and other servants of Entropy harassed them aiming to destroy their souls or use them as slaves. Those entropic beings always referred to the place as to the Isle of Night, as Night himself was the master of that Plane of Existence.
In spite of the hardships and the impossibility to communicate with Mystara, the two Emperors joined forces and established a safe haven for their people against the evil beings. Early explorations showed that the island the humans were stranded on was shaped like a miniature version of the Isle of Dawn, a sign that in someway the place was connected with Mystara. So the Emperors instilled a seed of hope in the castaways by firmly stating that rescue missions would surely be attempted by their own people.
Moreover it was discovered that people could have children in that strange environment - rotting, zombie-like children like their parents, but life could indeed take roots in that wrecked place. The two emperors fell in love with each other, married, and had a numerous lineage. A town was established, then a city, then further settlements and, finally, the kingdom of Thyphatia took shape. Until the death of the long-lived Thincol and Eriadna, the kingdom was prosperous and vital, at least by the horrible standards of the place43.
After their death both Emperors found themselves in Helskir, raised back to life through two pounds of their own spiced flesh that were recovered by a rescue party of Mystarans. Surprisingly, the whole Rapture, which seemed to last for decades on the Isle of Night lasted only a couple of days on Mystara. Both Emperors fully kept their memories of the life they had in that nightmarish world and since then, they started looking at each other with a new sense of respect.
This is what they reported to the dragons. But it was not all. The Emperors told of the prophecies from the Serpent Peninsula44, something the dragons were aware of as well. Starting four years ago45, an increasing number of seers living in those tropical swamps started having visions of doom and destruction for the two Empires.
The visions were not always coherent among themselves, but they all showed a great war among the human nations of Brun, Alphatia and other places.
Sometimes this war ended with the utter destruction of Thyatis, or of Alphatia. Sometimes the war engulfed most of the northern hemisphere, lasting for decades, until the human race in that part of the world was brought to the brink of extinction46. Sometimes great magical catastrophes suddenly destroyed prosperous cities and whole regions, leaving scores of dead behind47. Both Emperors independently embarked on a solemn pilgrimage to the most venerable seers of Tanakumba and were rewarded with a confirmation to the visions they had already received48.
Actually the content of these visions changed slightly when the Emperors were rescued from the Rapture and managed to attend the peace conference in Helskir. But then even the clerics of several Alphatian and Thyatian Immortals added their warnings of impending doom to the voices of the seers. Too many people were speaking about the same awful future awaiting most of Mystara, that they couldn’t be ignored.
And so the Emperors devised their contingent solution: the expedition through the wormhole which, so providentially, opened not far from the Mystaran moons. Just when critical knowledge on void travelling became available to the humans, the mystical dream showed that the Alphatians and the Thyatians could prosper together. Ana a huge airship - a carrier swiftly renamed Thyphatia, like the kingdom on the Isle of Night - was already close to completion in the Alphatian shipyards. These were undoubtedly signs from the Immortals, not to be ignored. And the dragons agreed with the two human rulers.
The true scope of the Thyphatia’s fleet - beyond all the exploration, the research on the origins of Thyatians and Alphatians and the test of Void travelling - was to establish a new, independent kingdom where the best traits of Thyatians and Alphatians could be preserved. A backup in case the feared war looming in the future would destroy one - or both - civilizations.
The Emperors were informed the gate would close soon and isolate the colonists so, they chose to give the recently rediscovered Periapt of Pax to the expedition, to ensure the Alphatians and Thyatians would work together to survive as a unified people in that faraway place49. They asked the dragons to select a suitable keeper for the amulet, and so Laryanna was chosen.
By recalling her name to memory, Eodross emerged again from his winding thoughts and, again, he became Admiral Cadman Mc Larseem. He concentrated back on the aerial exercise of the First Wing. There were still orders to be given on the Voidpiercer and then the official review of the Air Knights at the end of their training. Many little tasks to ensure the success of the expedition, and the survival of a common dream. Time to get back to work.
Appendix: Travelling in the Void
Table 2: Travelling Speed in the Void
Speed in the Void by using the combined Air / Fire elemental engine
Skyshield or uppermost air layer
Skyshield or uppermost air layer
Planet Sphere of influence (see Table 3 below)
Normal Speed x 1000
Planet Sphere of influence
Sun Sphere of influence (100 times Mystara - Sun distance)
Normal Speed x 1 million
Sun Sphere of influence (100 times Mystara - Sun distance)
Galactic Disk or Central Bulge
Normal Speed x 1 billion
Galactic Disk or Central Bulge
Normal Speed x 1 trillion
Normal Speed x 1 quadrillion
Table 3: Celestial Body Sphere of Influence (SOI)
Size of the Sphere of Influence (SOI) in miles
Time to be crossed (at 120’000 miles per day) from the external border to the inner Skyshield
3 days and 4 hours
4 days and 18 hours
16 days and 12 hours
(*) Based on the assumption that Damocles is a semi-sphere approximately half the size of Mystara as described here: http://pandius.com/dmcls_qa.html
(**) The entire system of moons of the gas giants in included into their Sphere Of Influence, so, even if crossing times are pretty large, there is still plenty of adventuring potential by stopping at the various satellites orbiting around the gas giants.
(***) Although a rocky small planet, Charon’s Sphere of Influence is very large due to its distance from the Sun. The long time needed to cross Charon’s SOI in order to reach its surface could add to the risk and difficulties met in reaching this remote world.
Example of a journey through the Void:
The Thyphatia has a nominal speed of 180’ (60’) so it may cover up to 120 miles a day while within the Skyshield50. As the Skyshield hovers at 80’000 feet (slightly more than 15 miles) above ground, it is reached in 3 hours. This figure could easily double to 6 hours if adverse winds and magical repulsion from the Skyshield (to be tamed by the air elementals in the fleet) is taken into account.
Once outside the Skyshield, its speed receives a sudden burst of a thousand times, being able to move at 120’000 miles per day. The burst itself is not perceived by the crew except for the increased movement with respect to reference points.
With this speed, the Thyphatia may reach the skyshield of Patera (at 51500 miles above the Skyshield) in approximately 10 hours and the surface of Matera (at 206’000 miles above the Skyshield) in approximately 41 hours. Travel within the skyshield of Patera and at a few miles from the surface of Matera happens again at the reduced speed of 120 miles a day.
The border of Mystara’s sphere of influence (approx 570'000 miles from the Skyshield) is reached in 4 days and 18 hours from the departure of the Skyshiled. This is also where the wormhole entrance to Spillworld is located. By assuming a few lateral maneuvers to match the wormhole entrance, the whole journey from Mystara’s Void to the magical gate could take around a week. This part of the travel is not free from risks as rakasta raiders from Patera, Heldannic Knights hidden in the asteroid fields surrounding Mystara51, and other foes could menace the fleet. The support ships and the Wings of Knights of the Air are supposed to protect the Thyphatia during this dangerous crossing.
Once in the wormhole the fleet will leave Mystaraspace and enter Spillworld, where worlds could be as close as the Mystraran moons are to their planet, or as separated as the planets of the Mystaran solar system.
Let’s say the fleet chose not to enter the gate and aim for the external Solar System of Mystara, instead.
If so, another sudden speed burst would affect the ships as soon as they leave the outer border of Mystara’s sphere of influence. Now the distance covered by the Thyphatia is 120 million miles per day.
Depending on the position of the planets with respect to Mystara, the border of their Sphere of Influence (where speed drops again to 120’000 miles per day and further days of travelling are needed to reach the Skyshield of every planet) can be reached according to table 4 below:
Table 4: Celestial Body Journey Times
Minimum time to reach the outer border of its Sphere of Influence (SOI) from Mystara outer SOI
Maximum time to reach the outer border of its Sphere of Influence (SOI) from Mystara outer SOI
5 hours and 12 minutes
9 hours and 36 minutes
18 hours and 36 minutes
3 days and 6 hours
4 days and 20 hours
6 days and 15 hours
8 days and 4 hours
Outer limit of Sun SOI (100 times the distance between the Sun and Mystara)
Once the fleet reaches the outer limit of Mystara’s sun’s Sphere of Influence (approx. 5 + 77 = 82 days after the departure) then the real interstellar voyage begins. A third speed burst brings Thypathia’s movement to 120 billion miles per day.
From the sun’s SOI external border, the fringe of the cometary cloud located at approximately 1 light-year from the sun can be reached in 49 days. The outer border of the SOI of the closest star, (M-Alpha Centauri, at 4.3 light years from Mystara) can be reached in 208 days.
The farthest known inhabited star - M-Altair - at 15.7 light years52, can be reached in 758 days (2 Mystaran years and 3 Mystaran months).
Total travel time from the surface of Mystara to the external border of M-Altair’s Sphere of Influence is 5 + 77 + 758 = 840 days. Once there, movement drops again to 120 million miles per day and further time needs to be spent to reach the Sphere of Influence of the single planets orbiting this star.
An educated guess of a total travelling time of 924 days (33 Mystaran months) before reaching the surface of some planet in the M-Altair inner solar system may not be so far from the truth.
The use of wormholes may strongly reduce this time, instantly bringing the ship close to the desired destination, especially for faraway targets.
Appendix: Ship Statistics
Sidebar: Colonists from Spillworld
According to module M5, page 22 (clues in the Great Library of Edairo, fragments #3 and #8) the Alphatians, the Proto-Thyatians and the Thothians (actually, the Nithians) come from the Void outside of Mystara. In particular, the Alphatians and the Proto-Thyatians were part of the same people from Old Alphatia, while the Nithians stayed in touch at least with the Alphatians (see notes below). From here comes the assumption that they all came from the same place and used the same method of travelling (the wormhole from / to Spillworld) in order to reach Mystara during different time periods (see Table 1 for a possible timeline).
See the supplement HWR2 Kingdom of Nithia (HWR2), DM’s booklet page 2: “...other planes and planets were opened to the incursions of the Nithian mages and priests (Some of the most ancient Nithian scrolls hint that the Alphatians were invited to colonize the Known World by the Nithians. Others refer to the Nithians aiding the Followers of Air in the struggle that destroyed Old Alphatia).”
Whether the Nithians were just observers or took part in the war on Old Alphatia, the Hollow World (HW) set (DM’s Manual, pages 13-14, BC 1000 entry) states that they definitely moved the Proto-Thyatians from their original location in the Northern Reaches to Davania around BC 1000.
This means that the Proto-Thyatians reached Mystara shortly after the Alphatians (just a few months or years later) and established a short-lived “Kingdom of Thyatis” in the Northern Reaches, close to the Nithian colonies. A good location could be the area around Landfall, whose name would then acquire a rather different meaning. This proximity could be a hint that the Nithians had a role in the Proto-Thyatian migration to Mystara, especially if we assume that Lord Thyatis repudiated his mentor Alphaks I after the fall of Old Alphatia and fled the dying world with part of his followers.
The Nithians would not have many reasons to let an enemy settle close to their borders. More likely, the Proto-Thyatian faction surrendered in Old Alphatia and were offered asylum by the Nithians who, at the same time, were helping the Alphatians settle elsewhere.
Shortly after the arrival of the Proto-Thyatians, the Nithians decided to establish a colony on Davania, as per HW note. The young Kingdom of Thyatis was dismantled (either by Nithian aggression or in order to save the Proto-Thyatians from the increasing numbers of warlike gnolls infesting the region at that time) and its inhabitants moved to Davania, possibly as slaves or as free people shortly after being enslaved by the treacherous Nithians (in the latter case some Alphatian interference could be inferred).
The magical “fearsome chariot of fire” mentioned in fragment #3 and used by the Proto-Thyatians to reach Mystara could have been used also to easily move colonists to Davania, bypassing the extremely dangerous Sea of Dread where at that time the Behemoth who decimated the Traldars was lurking. Maybe the “fearsome chariot of fire” is still hidden somewhere in southern Davania, possibly inside one of the mythical “Mount Thyatis”, “Mount Kerendas” or “Mount Hattias” cited in DotE (page 4, DM’s Manual) as places on the far southern continent from which the three Thyatians tribes took their names.
As, according to M5, “Lord Thyatis” was apparently a leader of the refugees from Old Alphatia, so there could have also been a “Lord Kerendas” and “Lord Hattias” acting as his lieutenants during the migration to Mystara and leaders of their own sub-groups of refugees...
BECMI Immortal Set rules by Frank Mentzer
BoWI - Book of Wondrous Inventions by Bruce Heard
CoM - Champions of Mystara boxed set by Ann Dupuis
CM1 - Test of the Warlords by Douglas Niles
CM7 - The Tree of Life by Bruce Heard
DA3 - City of the Gods by Dave Arneson and David Ritchie
DotE - Dawn of the Emperors Boxed Set by Aaron Allston
Dragonlord Trilogy books by Thorarinn Gunnarsson
HW - Hollow World Boxed Set by Aaron Allston
M1 - Into the Maelstrom by Bruce Heard and Beatrice Heard
M2 - Vengeance of Alphaks by Skip Williams
M5 - Talons of Night by Paul Jaquays
PWAII - Poor Wizard’s Almanac II by Ann Dupuis
Threshold Magazine issue #9
TM2 - The Eastern Countries Trail Map
VotPA - Voyage of the Princess Ark by Bruce Heard
WotI - Wrath of the Immortals boxed set by Aaron Allston
http://pandius.com/dmcls_qa.html by Agathokles
http://bruce-heard.blogspot.it/2012/06/alphatian-province-of-haven.html by Bruce Heard
http://www.pandius.com/starvany.html by Bruce Heard
https://www.facebook.com/groups/mystara.reborn/# Mystara Reborn Facebook discussion group
http://pandius.com/nrwldreg.html by Zendrolion
1The magical-babble above actually summarizes the rules for magical movement in the Void described on page 33 of Champions of Mystara: Designer’s Manual and also hinted at on page 35 of module M4.
2The white dove amulet is the Peaceful Periapt of Pax, a Major Artifact of the Sphere of Thought described on page 44 of module M5. Among its powers there are the spells “Calm Others” and “Mass Charm” both of which were used on the class of restive Thyatians and Alphatians.
The wielder (Lady Laryanna) already became Lawfully aligned as a penalty for using the artifact and the Periapt is currently draining a total of 10 years of life taken from some random subjects in the class to recharge from the use of its powers. Lady Laryanna was not of Lawful alignment before she became the keeper of the Artifact and so she did not turn into a rigid, fanatical Lawful paladin (which is another side effect of the Periapt specifically for Lawful keepers).
3Tylion IV is the father of the current Alphatian Empress and former Alphatian Emperor, as detailed in DotE. He managed to briefly conquer most of the Isle of Dawn during the Spearpoint Assault against Thyatis in AC 959 but was quickly forced to retreat by the lack of support among the Alphatians and by the Thyatian counter-attack.
4Both skirmishes are shown on TM2 -Eastern Countries Trail Map supplement. Nordmannvik battle was fought in the northern Isle of Dawn in AC 972, while the battle of the Ashton Woods was fought in the central Isle of Dawn in AC 991.
5IX century AC according to the Thyatian calendar.
6Reference here is to the War of the Crown of Norwold described in modules CM1 Test of the Warlords (CM1) and M2. Here it is assumed the war ended in stalemate at the end of AC 999.
7Reference here is to the peace conference to be held between Thyatis and Alphatia after the War of the Crown to set the claims over Norwold by the two powers. The events connected to this peace conference are described in module M5. From information available in the Poor Wizard’s Almanacs (PWAs) it is possible to infer that the conference itself is held in the city of Helskir at the end of AC 1002. The Periapt of Pax is used during the conference to assure a successful ending to the talks and an end to the war between the two Empires.
8Mystara is actually a huge intelligent living being (a megalith called Urt) according to BECMI Immortal Set.
9The Rainbow Path from CM7 The Tree of Life (CM7) could be part of this network, for example.
10Reference here is to the Heldannic exploration following the discovery of the Star of Vanya artifact around AC 950 (see for example here: http://www.pandius.com/starvany.html ) and to the travels of Haldemar of Haaken into the Void in AC 965 described in the Voyage of the Princess Ark (VotPA) Parts 7 and 8.
11Here and in the following the term ‘Rapture’ refers to the abduction of the Emperors of Thyatis and Alphatia and their retinues described in module M5. The abduction happened in AC 1002 at the hands of followers of the Immortal Night (Nyx), who wished to prevent the Emperors from attending the Peace Conference between the two empires in Helskir. During the abduction the two Emperors were moved to another Plane of Existence, lived their whole lives together and died of old age while on Mystara just a few days elapsed (see below at the end of this article for details). Their remains were rescued and resurrected on Mystara. The whole experience was interpreted as a mystical dream by the two Emperors and that’s why it was called the ‘Rapture’.
12This is a realistic depiction of the land and sky as seen from 80’000 feet altitude, where the Skyshield is located. For a view taken of the real Earth at a similar altitude see for example here: http://static1.businessinsider.com/image/507aedebeab8ea841b000000-685-391/earth.png?maxX=940
13As described in Champions of Mystara (CoM) Designer’s Manual (page 30), the Skyshield slowly deflects any approaching vessel and most flying creatures, falling back to an altitude of 20’000 feet.
14Hue is a small village in the northern part of the Alphatian kingdom of Haven added by Bruce Heard shown in the map attached to his article here: http://bruce-heard.blogspot.it/2012/06/alphatian-province-of-haven.html
15AC 1000 according to the Thyatian calendar, AC 2000 according to the Alphatians’s.
16This is a reference to the adventure hook “Knights of the Air“ described on pages 100-101 of DotE DM’s Manual.
17Claransa the Seer, Fergus the Justifier and Broghann of the Steppes, the pregenerated PCs from CM1 and other CM modules.
18Kwyll is a dead NPC cleric in the adventure hook of module CM1 “The dungeon of Kwyll”. As his dungeon is filled with fire-loving creatures it is assumed that the dungeon is located close to the Arch of Fire. In this article it is also implied that Kwyll received a dominion from King Ericall of Norwold but that he lost it pretty much as soon as his experiments enraged nearby giants and other monsters.
20Tokoramses V is actually an ancient Nithian pharaoh but, due to the effects of the spells the Immortals placed on the memory of the fallen Nithian Empire, Lady Laryanna (and pretty much anybody else) believes he is from Thothia.
21These are some of the effects of the curse the Immortals placed on the memory of the Nithian Empire, which always prevent mortals from knowing too much about this ancient civilization.
22Reference here is to VotPA Part 7 where Prince Haldemar explains that he is the first Alphatian able to reach the Void after a long time, as this science has been lost for a long time in the Empire.
23Both cities are going to be destroyed or heavily damaged during the war between Thyatis and Alphatia described in WotI so the knowledge of this spell could again be lost to the Mystarans within a few years, except for the people of the expedition to Spillworld.
24Proteans (or amoebe) are described in BECMI - Immortal Set (DM’s Manual, pages 46 and 47) as an ubiquitous life form on the Prime Plane which is also very diffused on the Astral and Outer Planes. Proteans are extremely adaptable and resilient creatures and tend to colonize every Plane of Existence they happen to enter. Given the relatively frequent connections between the Prime Plane and the Elemental Planes, here it is assumed that Prime Plane proteans adapted long ago to the Elemental Planes, becoming the Air-proteans (and corresponding breeds on the other three Planes). A sort of “reverse-colonization” brought the Air-proteans to Mystara, where they can still thrive. Air-protean’s magical powers acquired during the adaptation to the Elemental Plane of Air are assumed to be the basis of the Skyshield properties.
25The ruined Nithian complex of Nebta - a temple on an asteroid hovering above Mystara and guarded by a huge onyx dragon - was first introduced at the end of the article “Ecology of the Megaliths and the Norn Cycle” by LoZompatore on Threshold Magazine - issue #9. The following information in this article slightly expands on this fanon location.
26The hidden mountain city of Windreach in the Wyrmsteeth Range (Norwold) is the capital of the Nation of Dragons, the sum of all the dragons’ dominions throughout Mystara, as detailed in the Dragonlord Trilogy. It is also the seat of the Parliament of Dragons, the “world government” of Mystaran dragons. Its location, even its very existence, is usually unknown to mortals, but high level characters should be able to get permission by the dragons to enter this place (see for example the Dragonlord Trilogy itself, or the mission to the Wyrmsteeth by a group of adventurers looking for allies against the Heldannic Knight’s invasion of Norwold in PWAII - events of Yartmonth 3 on page 194). Here it is assumed that Lady Laryanna is distinguished enough to know of this place.
27Reference here is to the events of module M5.
28See module M5, page 22, clues in the Great Library of Edairo. Fragment #8 states: “The Isle of Dawn has long been a nexus for contact with other worlds: first came the spider people to the high jungles and then the folk from the star kingdoms to form the dominions of Alphatia, Thyatis and Thothia (Visitors from the Beyond)”
29The unknown enslavers were actually the Nithians, as per HW boxed set (DM’s Manual, pages 13-14, BC 1000 entry) but mortals have difficulty remembering all the information about Nithia due to the Spell of Oblivion which the Immortals cast on Mystara, preventing the rise of another Nithian culture on the world. Connecting to the previous notes, it is possible to assume that relationships between the Nithians and the Proto-Thyatians started well, but then deteriorated following some sort of conflict or, maybe, a turmoil in the ruling class of one of the two people - or possibly both. The Nithians were at the apex of their power and the Proto-Thyatians were no match for them, so they were defeated and enslaved.
30It could be assumed that the complex of Nebta was used by the Nithians as the main staging area for their exploration into the Void. The Nithians could also have gained control of both ends of the wormhole leading to Spillworld when it opened around BC 1000.
31The story told by the three barons summarizes the events of module M1 Into the Maelstrom (M1).
32According to DotE, the Ochaleans are nothing but another breed of Alphatian.
33Compare, for example, population figures for metropolitan Thyatis and Alphatia in TM2 “Imperial Geopolitics” table and the number of 36th level mages in both empires from DotE. Metropolitan Alphatia has an official population of 5’800’000 people, but a note on TM2 says that the real numbers are likely three times higher. A conservative guess would place the real figures at two times higher than the official population. This would mean a total population of 11’600’000 people. It is also well known that there are at least 1000 magic users of 36th level in metropolitan Alphatia, meaning at least one 36th level mage for every 11’600 people. Metropolitan Thyatis has an official population of 3’200’000 people and around 250 magic users of 36th level in Sclaras. This would mean at least one 36th level mage every 12’800 people.
34Fragment 11 of module M5 page 22 states: “Although the treachery of the Thyatians can be traced to king Thyatis’ mentor Alphaks, I believe that Alphatia first transgressed the treaty of Edairo by constructing a trading post for fur trappers on what they called Cape Alpha in the Great Bay (the testimony of Archduke Dugald, from the Trial of Norwold, dated after the crowning of the first Thyatian Emperor)”
35According to the Dragonlord Trilogy (Dragonking of Mystara book) the oldest living dragon as of AC 500 is Saerna, who was born shortly before BC 3200. If 4000 years is the maximum age for a dragon then an event happened 2000 years ago would still be remembered by several middle to old age dragons as of AC 1000.
36This is another effect of the Spell of Oblivion cast by the Immortals on Mystara.
37According to HW boxed set (DM’s Manual page 12) Nithian civilization begin its rise after BC 2000. In this article it is supposed that the foundations of Nithian culture were established by spacefaring colonists who came from Spillword through the BC 2000 opening of the wormhole and then were left stranded on Mystara for the next 1000 years (establishing a unique civilization in the meantime) when the wormhole suddenly closed.
38The Pyritheans and the Emerondians were first introduced in VotPA Part 13. Pyritheans are space pirates based on an ‘archipelago’ of asteroids, while the Emerondians are a splinter group of Pyritheans who became stranded on Mystara long ago. In this article it is assumed that the Pyritheans came from Spillworld through the wormhole around AC 0 to prey on Mystara; some of them became isolated on the planet when the wormhole closed and became the Emerondians.
39This is to explain why the Thyatians established a trading post in the peninsula of Alpha in Norwold shortly after the peace Treaty of Edairo was signed. The idea is that these colonists actually came from Old Alphatia, where groups related to the Thyatians are still located as of AC 1000 (for example the Sky Raiders operating in Delthan air space described on pages 24 - 25 of module M1, who were descendants of the followers of Alphaks).
40The Yasuko are apparently related to Ochalese according to PWAII page 26, while the Beltharians and Gammarians inhabit Old Alphatia as described in module M1.
41This is a hint to the approximate location of the Galactic Federation of DA3 City of the Gods (DA3) (page 3) from where the spaceship Beagle crash landed on Mystara. Maybe the Beagle, while exploring Spillword at the time, accidentally crossed the open wormhole in BC 4000 (the ‘freak energy vortex’ cited on page 6 of WotI: “The Immortal’s Fury” book) and entered the uncharted - and extremely remote - Mystaran space. This would explain the difficulties the Beagle met in trying to contact the rest of its culture for a rescue mission.
42See M5 page 40 for further details on the Plane of Existence of the Isle of Night.
43M5 does not say that the kingdom of Thyphatia on the Isle of Night flourished while the two emperors were alive, but this seems a reasonable assumption given the skills and powers of the two allied leaders. M5 describes the Isle of Night 400 years after the abduction of both Emperors, when the inhabitants of Thyphatia are enslaved by Night’s minions and forced to build purposeless monuments (it is from here that one of the Voidships of the fleet to Spillword gets its name of “Pointless Titan”).
44See CoM: “Explorer’s Manual” for information about the seers of Yavdlom.
45Visions began in AC 1000 following the crisis among the Immortals in Pandius which starts the events of the Wrath of the Immortals as described in WotI: the Immortal’s Fury pages 8-10.
46This is the possible ending of module M5 if the PCs fail to rescue the two Emperors in the Isle of Night or the Peace Conference in Helskir does not achieve an agreement. See M5 page 41 (“Endings” section for details).
47Reference here is to the catastrophic events of AC 1006 - AC 1009 hitting the Known World and Alphatia during WotI.
48The idea of the Emperors performing a solemn procession to Yavdlom to get information about the future of their empires was first introduced in the Facebook “Mystara Reborn” group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/mystara.reborn/# (post of 24 September 2016 about Yavdlom started by Bruce Heard)
49The disappearance of the Periapt of Pax from Mystara could be among the causes contributing to the war between the two Empires during WotI. The assignment of the Periapt to the expedition to Spillworld could possibly be architected - or at least encouraged - by the Immortals of Entropy to accelerate the crisis on Mystara.
50Distance travelled every day is calculated as per page 21 of Champions of Mystara: Designer’s Manual. The Thyphatia is not a fast vessel, its speed being 75% of the average Alphatian Yacht or Man-of-War, which usually have a nominal speed of 240’ (80’). It is also way slower than an Heldannic Warbird, which has a characteristic speed of 360’ (120’). The whole fleet of the Thypathia will travel at Thypathia’s speed, except when single ships are dispatched to special missions alone.
51Rakasta raiders of the Void were introduced in VotPA part 7, while Heldannic Voidships among asteroid fields were introduced in VotPA part 8.
52See BECMI Immortal Set, DM’s book page 6. There is a short list of the stars closest to the PCs homeworld (Mystara), which are identical to real world stars of some importance. It is not explicitly specified that such stars are inhabited but, as many more stars exist in the real world closer to the ones mentioned in the Immortal Set, then it is possible to suppose that the list on page 6 actually refer to stars where a civilization of some sort was established. Altair is the farthest star of this list.