The First Age of Flight, known as the Age of Flight to those who lived during it and later called the First Age for short, was a time period that lasted for about four hundred years from the founding of Sanctaphrax in the First Great Migration to the invention of the varnish that enabled the creation of skycraft by Tweezel in 60 ᴇ.ʏ. It was characterised by the widespread use of sky ships for trade, travel, and warfare. The twin cities of Sanctaphrax and Undertown were the main homes of civilisation during the First Age of Flight. The elite class of this era was comprised mainly of Undertown leaguesmen and Sanctaphrax academics of the fourthling race. However, after stone-sickness struck near the end of the First Age of Flight, everything changed. Cloud Wolf, the Quint Trilogy, The Stone Pilot, The Sky Chart, and the Twig Trilogy all took place in the First Age of Flight.
Beginning of the First Age of Flight
The First Age of Flight commenced after the First Great Migration, an event in which many individuals from the Deepwoods headed east through the Twilight Woods. There they found the Stone Gardens and the flight rocks that grew there. The utilisation of these rocks for transport purposes led to the First Age of Flight. One of the rocks in the Stone Gardens was far larger than the others. The settlers built the city of Sanctaphrax on this rock, and attached it to the land by the Edgewater River using a chain, the Anchor Chain. These settlers became the First Scholars, the earliest of the academics.
Formation of Undertown
Years later, many more people from the Deepwoods emigrated towards Sanctaphrax in search of a better life in the Second Great Migration. They founded the city of Undertown beneath the floating rock. The Undertowners, who had all fled from homes plagued with slavery, created a law that slavery was illegal .
The Early First Age of Flight
The First Scholars built various buildings dedicated to studying differing types of weather. They also built the Palace of Lights for the Most High Academe to live in . The Blackwood Chamber inside the palace recorded the events of the early First Age. The First Scholars built the Sanctaphrax Tunnel, a tunnel through the stonecomb of Sanctaphrax, and established two laboratories, the Ancient Laboratory and the Great Laboratory. The Great Laboratory was the centre of study for the first earth-scholars, while the early sky scholars stayed on the surface. The Ancient Laboratory was built by the scholars so they could experiment with various ideas.
As time passed, the Sanctaphrax Rock grew larger. The buoyancy of it was soon dangerously large, and the rock threatened to break free of the chain which secured it to the ground. To resolve this situation, a scholar named Quode Quanx-Querix formed a group called the Knights Academic. The Knights Academic were trained in the Knights Academy to acquire stormphrax from the Twilight Woods, the only substance heavy enough to counter the buoyancy of the rock. This quest was named stormchasing after the Great Storm which produced the stormphrax. Quode Quanx-Querix himself set off on a stormchasing voyage and soon returned with the first shards of stormphrax.
The scholars working in the Ancient Laboratory suddenly become obsessed with the idea of creating life. The attempt went catastrophically wrong, and they created the Rogue Glister. The scholars closed the tunnel leading to the Ancient Laboratory off, trapping the Rogue Glister. However, this failed experiment created further problems. A long and terrible winter, the First Endless Winter, descended onto Sanctaphrax. Quode Quanx-Querix journeyed to Open Sky to seek the cause. He found that a cloudeater had been drawn to the Edge and was trapped in a carapace of ice. Its attempts to flee caused the cloudeater to expel cold air in the direction of Sanctaphrax. Quode Quanx-Querix found that releasing stormphrax into the cloudeater‘s mouth freed it from the ice and therefore stopped the winter.
The Leagues of Undertown were formed when an Aurelius Ventilix, the Professor of Wind, wanted to have the entire Academy of Wind clad in cliff-marble. This desire came because many other schools in Sanctaphrax had decorated a lot of their buildings with the prized material. Aurelius Ventilix formed the Leagues in order to have unparalleled access to the cliff quarries and the marble they produced. The Academy of Wind soon became the most glamorous building in Sanctaphrax, especially at night when many glisters were attracted to it. This spectacle was even causing animals to navigate using its brilliant glow. However, the multitude of glisters attracted to the building caused extreme emotions in the inhabitants, eventually causing them to kill each other. After this, cliff-marble was soon removed from all buildings, except for the West Wall of the Knights Academy.
Late First Age of Flight
Hundreds of years later, sky-scholars reigned in Sanctaphrax while earth-scholarship had all but died out. The newly elected Most High Academe, Linius Pallitax, sought to reunite the two factions, but his attempts took a back seat when he rediscovered the Ancient Laboratory. There, he unknowingly created the Gloamglozer. It escaped the Ancient Laboratory and burned down the Palace of Shadows, and Linius died from injuries sustained in the flames. As before, the creation of life in the Ancient Laboratory was followed by an endless winter, this time the Second Endless Winter. An eminent Knight Academic called Philius Embertine discovered Quode Quanx-Querix’s treatise and the method of ending the winter. Quintinius Verginix, a squire at the Knights Academy, acted on this knowledge and ended the winter with the same method as before.
However, the Knights Academy had been seriously depleted because of the Battle of the Knights Academy against the Gatekeepers, and in the following years no stormchasing quests were successful. This meant that there was an insufficient amount of stormphrax to counter the buoyancy of the rock. A disgraced Knight Academic called Vilnix Pompolnius emerged with a solution; to build more chains. He used phraxdust to strike a deal with the Leagues of Undertown which allowed them to build chains for Sanctaphrax, while not poisoning the city. However, the phraxdust came from stormphrax stolen from the treasury, meaning that the situation was not getting any better. The sky pirate captain Twig Verginix resolved this by bringing back stormphrax. After this, the chains were no longer necessary, so Vilnix was deposed.
Arrival of the Mother Storm
Soon after the crisis was averted, Sanctaphrax academics were beginning to notice signs of strange weather, including mind storms. The cause was eventually discovered to be the Mother Storm, which was returning to the Edge. However, the Sanctaphrax rock was blocking its path to Riverrise, and so it had to be released by cutting the anchor chain. A new Sanctaphrax rock was discovered in the Stone Gardens, and the academics began work on it under the leadership of Cowlquape Pentephraxis.
- "The age of flight has ended. "
- —Glade Harrier's last words after his sky ship crashed into the Deepwoods
Cowlquape was soon betrayed by Vox Verlix, who took over his title. Vox designed the layout of New Sanctaphrax, deciding on building one large tower, known as the Tower of Night, instead of many smaller ones. It was split into two layers, the upper floors for sky-scholars and the lower floors for earth-scholars. However, the sky-scholars, under the leadership of Orbix Xaxis, betrayed Vox and cast him into Undertown. Meanwhile, a disease known as stone-sickness had spread among the flight rocks, rendering them unusable. This plight even affected the New Sanctaphrax rock.
The sky-scholars thought that the energy of a Great Storm would heal the rocks, and they threw out the earth-scholars, who took refuge in the sewers of Undertown. The sky-scholars renamed themselves to the Guardians of Night. Stone-sickness meant trade with the Deepwoods was impossible, Vox devised a way of trade on foot. He designed the Great Mire Road, which led from Undertown to the Deepwoods. However, the shrykes who built it for him betrayed him and took control of the road.
As the effects of stone-sickness spread, even the sky pirates were eventually affected, and they scuttled their ships in the Mire, creating the Armada of the Dead. There, they survived by raiding the Great Mire Road.
The New Sanctaphrax rock soon began to sink in the sky. The Guardians of Night believed that if it were to touch the ground, stone-sickness would never be healed. Orbix Xaxis enlisted the help of Vox Verlix, who built a huge ironwood scaffold called the Sanctaphrax Forest to prevent the rock from reaching the ground. Amberfuce, his chancellor, hired an army of goblins, led by General Tytugg, to enslave the Undertowners to build it for him. However, the goblins betrayed Vox and he fled to the Palace of Statues.
The end of the First Age
There are several differing places where the First Age of Flight could be considered to end. The generally accepted point is in 60 , with the invention of varnish, as this leaves no gap between the First and Second Ages.
The practical end of stone-flight
For several years in the late 40's , stone-sickness ravaged the fleets of the leagues, until they were entirely wiped out. This meant that all flight was in the hands of the sky pirates, who thought they could stay safe by keeping away from New Sanctaphrax. However, on the third day of the fourth quarter of 51 , the Cloudbreaker became the first sky pirate ship to succumb to the disease. At the next full moon, the pirates assembled at Wilderness Lair and decided to scuttle their entire fleet, forming the Armada of the Dead. A total of thirty ships went down, with only a few captains deciding to try and keep flying. This meant that there were no longer enough airborne ships to facilitate any contact between Undertown and the Deepwoods.
The discovery of wood-flight
In 60 , Tweezel invented varnish, which made sumpwood skycraft viable flying vessels. This marks the start of the Second Age of Flight, and is usually noted as the end of the First. This year is also when the Edgedemon perished of stone sickness. It was the last known ship to fly continuously after the formation of the Armada of the Dead.
The final airborne sky ship
The last dying breath of the First Age came in 86 , when the Skyraider attacked the Tower of Night. The ship had never been infected with the sickness, as it had sailed without contact contact with any carriers from 36 - 52 , and after that it was left abandoned at Wilderness Lair for 34 years. It was retrieved by Twig Verginix, Rook Barkwater and a crew of banderbears, who flew it for less than a day, before the flight-rock crumbled and the ship was blown into open sky above Undertown.
Before stone-sickness, the Edge’s economy was based on sky ships as the method of transportation and Undertown as the centre of manufactured goods production. Sky ships would journey into the Deepwoods, obtain raw materials, and then return to Undertown to sell them for profit. In Undertown, the raw materials would be made into manufactured goods that could not be made in the Deepwoods. However, there were some exceptions to this rule. For example, the slaughterers manufactured their own highly valued leather products in the Deepwoods. The Leagues of Undertown dominated the pre-stone-sickness economy of the Edge. They had near-total control of both the shipping of materials and the production of goods, enabling them to fix prices. However, they were opposed in this by the sky pirates, who undercut the League’s prices and even raided the League’s ships directly. The academics of Sanctaphrax also played a major role in the pre-stone-sickness economy. They were the only ones capable of harvesting the critical flight-rocks, so they were rewarded well by the leaguesmen and were able to live a lavish lifestyle.
After the strike of stone-sickness, the economy of the Edge changed drastically. The Great Mire Road was the only trade route left between Undertown and the Deepwoods, the Leagues of Undertown collapsed and lost all economic significance, and the sky pirates were reduced to minor raiders. The shrykes gained new economic significance. They taxed all merchants travelling on the Great Mire Road, and they prohibited direct trade between Undertowners and Deepwooders. By acting as intermediaries, they were able to reap enormous profits from both groups. The Deepwoods remained the source of raw materials, but the Foundry Glades emerged as a large centre of manufacturing in addition to Undertown.
Many of the remote settlements in the Deepwoods had very little technology but used traditional methods instead. Undertown and Sanctaphrax, on the other hand, relied on newer, more advanced technologies and the use of stormphrax.
Use of stormphrax was limited and primitive during the First Age of Flight. It was almost solely used to weigh down Sanctaphrax to prevent it from floating away. It was considered sacred by the sky-scholars. However, on two occasions it was used to cure sick cloudeaters to end the First Endless Winter and the Second Endless Winter. During the First Age of Flight, the only method of retrieving stormphrax was stormchasing, so supplies were very low. Phraxdust was undiscovered for most of the First Age of Flight, but Vilnix Pompolnius unwittingly created some in 18 ᴇ.ʏ. The Professor of Light discovered how to create phraxdust later, in 35 ᴇ.ʏ. The only use of phraxdust in the First Age of Flight was to purify the Edgewater River in Undertown, so its citizens could have drinking water despite the pollution of its factories and foundries.
Factories and Foundries
The Leagues of Undertown controlled the heavy industry in Undertown. The Undertown Foundries was the most industrialized quarter of Undertown. Factories were fuelled by wood from the Deepwoods and were responsible for the pollution of much of the air and the Edgewater River.
Toxic waste was either dumped in the Mire, which through the centuries became a muddy wasteland or pumped in the Edgewater River.
The discovery of flight-rocks in Stone Gardens began the First Age of Flight. The rocks would sink when heated, and cooling would cause them to rise. Control of that buoyancy made sky ships possible. Sky ships came in various sizes, and some used flight-rocks or rubble to maintain buoyancy. Sails provided the necessary speed and a complicated system of levers that controlled sails and weights could be used to balance the ship. This invention increased mobility, made the transportation of goods across the Edge easier and cheaper and led to more accessibility of remote areas of the Edge.
The earliest scholars of the Edge studied the natural phenomena of the Edge. They originally founded and built the floating city of Sanctaphrax. Early on, a minor fraction of scholars began studying the sky and it's phenomena. A small sect, the First Scholars attempted to create life in the Ancient Laboratory, but the experiments were discontinued after the creation of the Blood-Red Glister. Two main schools evolved: the sky-scholars and the earth-scholars, also known as the librarians. The latter studied the flora and fauna of the Deepwoods while the former studied the phenomena of the sky. Over time, sky-scholarship became more fashionable. First, open hostility emerged over the question of controlling the floating rock's increasing buoyancy. Earth-scholars tried to understand the rock's properties while the sky-scholars proposed to weigh Sanctaphrax down with stormphrax. Objections about this violation of the Third Law of Bouyancy from the earth-scholars were ignored and the stormphrax that Quode Quanx-Querix brought from the very first stormchasing mission was stored in the Treasury Chamber, the old Great Laboratory.The librarians were violently expelled from Sanctaphrax in the so-called Great Purges. Years later, under Linius Pallitax as the Most High Academe, a friendly approach to earth-scholarship was promoted. However, the academics, having become arrogant and superficial, remained hostile, and, under Hax Vostillix, new purges began. The sky-scholars predictions of a Great Storm approaching that would supply the stormphrax needed to weigh down the Sanctphrax rock, which had become increasingly buoyant in the Second Endless Winter, proved false. Only an ancient barkscroll from the Great Library provided the solution of flying out to Open Sky with stormphrax to heal the sick cloudeater that was the cause of the Second Endless Winter.
New problems emerged when experimentation with stormphrax began. Only Vilnix Pompolnius managed to create phraxdust, while all of the other experimenters were killed in the attempt. Further experimentation used up the stormphrax and the floating rock increased in buoyancy, so new chains were forged to anchor Sanctaphrax, which led to more pollution and an increasing need for phraxdust's purifying properties. Only new supplies of stormphrax were able to solve this cyclical problem, a problem the original sky-scholars had not seen coming.
The Sanctaphrax rock would prevent the healing Mother Storm from completing it's needed journey to Riverrise. This was why, against all objections from sky-scholars, Twig cut the Anchor Chain and Sanctaphrax floated into Open Sky.
New Sanctaphrax was built and sky-scholarship continued to flourish. However, stone-sickness brought the new challenge of healing the floating city. Once again, two groups emerged. On the one side, the Guardians of Night believed that the lightning of a Great Storm would heal the rock, but not if it ever touched the ground. On the other side, the librarians believed that the cure would come from the Deepwoods through study. The librarians revived earth-scholarship, were cast out of the Chantry Palace on New Sanctaphrax and fled to the Sewers of Undertown, where they established a new Great Library, the Great Storm Chamber Library. They also sent expeditions to the Deepwoods and founded Lake Landing Academy at the Free Glades.
Earth-Scholars dedicated their years of their life to one topic, studying it intently. The resulting treatises were collected and organised in the Great Library of Sanctaphrax. Vast amounts of information about the most diverse phenomenons were collected over time and studied by the librarians for further research. The earth-scholars were organized in a strict hierarchy, dominated by the High Librarian. For many years, the High Librarian was also the Most High Academe of Sanctaphrax.
Sky-Scholarship was a vast field of research. Factions of academics devoted their whole life to the study of one weather phenomenon like rain, mist or dusk. Knowledge was shared with the apprentices in schools where the students had study tables and recite formulas and calculations as well as learn cloudcraft, a sign language to describe cloud formations. Barkscrolls were also used, although it was more common to consult the experts of one field about an issue. The sky was divided into four parts: Open Sky, High Sky, Middle Sky and Low Sky. High Sky was the centre of the academics' attention because that was where environmental and meteorological phenomena were formed. Sanctaphrax was an ideal place for the study of the sky, itself located in the Middle Sky and equipped with devices such as the Loftus Observatory, the mistsifters' twin towers to analyze sourmist particles, and sky-ships, phenomena could be studied up close. The sky and particularly stormphrax were considered sacred while other subjects, for example prowlgrins, were considered 'beasts of the earth' and not worth the devotion or even attention of a sky-scholar.
Fashion was an important element of life during the First Age of Flight, with clothing making up a large industry in Undertown, as well as in the Deepwoods. The was a huge variety in the kinds of clothing worn by people of different races and professions throughout the Edgeworld.
The leagues were known for their particularly lavish taste in clothing, usually choosing to wear bright, expensive garments to show off their wealth. Their fashionable robes were coloured using costly dyes, and bedecked in jewels. They also sometimes wore finger-spikes and carried leagues-canes, for attacking those who crossed them.
Leaguesmen tended to wear 'high hats'; tall tricorn hats, which showcased their importance. A taller hat meant a more powerful leaguesman. These were also decorated with bright embroidery. Many of these hats were so tall that they needed to be supported by a hat-tipper with a forked hat-pole. This also showed the leaguesman's wealth, because he could afford to pay a servant simply to prop up his hat.
Sky Pirates were an impressive sight with their polished breastplates and heavy coats adorned with rows of gold buttons. Equipment hung from different hooks and pegs and most sky pirates had a sword or sabre with them at all time. When onboard, the sky pirates often wore their parawings folded on their back.
The sky pirates's clothing was functional and often battered and scarred from many battles fought and the harsh weather conditions, but some sky pirates, like Thunderbolt Vulpoon preferred pompous clothing.
Many male fourthling sky pirates had one oiled braid and sideburns.
In Sanctaphrax, members of different schools could be distinguished by the colour of their robes. Academics from the Viaduct Schools wore a bright blue ("viaduct blue"), the School of Light and Darkness different shades of grey, the Academy of Balm rose, the Academy of Dawn a deep orange, mistsifters red and the College of Cloud fashioned yellow and black striped undergarments. Academics in higher positions wore robes of higher quality that were sometimes embroidered with marsh-gems.
The Deepwoods folks lived in traditional buildings according to their own history, lifestyle and traditions.
Much of this was implemented in the more modest parts of Undertown which mostly consisted of smaller houses cramped together and narrow alleyways. The poorest lived in slums polluted by the factories they surrounded. Other parts, like the Western Quays were for rich leaguesmen and some sky-pirates who owned opulent palaces. Early Sanctaphrax started out with modest building like the Great Library, but especially the rise of sky-scholars led from utilitarian architecture to higher and higher towers and pretentious additions like the Central Viaduct. The culmination was reached when the Academy of Wind, determined to beat all other schools, coated the entire building in cliff-marble which resulted in the the violent deaths of many academics.
Map of the Edge in the First Age of Flight
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- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Facebook Q&A with Paul Stewart
- ↑ Clash of the Sky Galleons, Introduction
- ↑ The Curse of the Gloamglozer, Introduction
- ↑ The Curse of the Gloamglozer, Chapter 1: The Shadow Palace
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 The Curse of the Gloamglozer, Chapter 15:Linius's Story
- ↑ The Curse of the Gloamglozer, Chapter 8: The Treasury Chamber
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 The Winter Knights, Chapter 20: The Winter Knights
- ↑ Clash of the Sky Galleons, Chapter 1: Edge Wraiths
- ↑ The Curse of the Gloamglozer, Chapter 18: The Curse of the Gloamglozer
- ↑ The Winter Knights, Chapter 2: The Chorus of the Dead
- ↑ The Winter Knights, Chapter 16: The Cloudslayer ii The Academy Baracks
- ↑ The Winter Knights, Chapter 21: Cloudeater
- ↑ Stormchaser, Chapter 2: The Caterbird's Story
- ↑ Stormchaser, Chapter 22: The Heart of Sanctaphrax
- ↑ The Slaughterer's Quest, Chapter 1: Supper at Dawn
- ↑ Beyond the Deepwoods, Chapter 1: The Snatchwoods
- ↑ Midnight Over Sanctaphrax, Chapter 13: Mutiny
- ↑ The Sky Chart, Chapter 1