“The dangers of damaged Waystone Towers, the shimmersea and shadowtides, the winds of Noctis and the moons of Hysh.”
A treatise on navigation in the Prime Dominion, by Lost Uzzog of the skyship Cleavermaw
Navigation in the Prime Dominion is fraught with danger for newcomers to the region. While there are many hidden hazards, there is also pattern and logic to be found, as expected in Hysh, but one must know where to look for them. And for those new to Hysh, there are additional problems to contend with.
The primary source of danger is Noctis itself, the famed black sun which stabilizes the region. The local weather patterns are entirely created and dominated by the relative position of Noctis, as can be seen from the enclosed sample pages from my Almanac. The year in the Prime Dominion is exactly 45 weeks (315 days) long, dictated by the orbital rhythm of the darkening orb itself.
Where Noctis travels, winter travels with it. As Noctis passes away spring and summer follow. Autumn heralds Noctis’ return, and with it dark skies, strong winds and fierce tides. A ship’s captain must beware the winter winds, for they all blow toward the black sun and they get stronger and faster the nearer one approaches. A not-insignificant number of ships have been lost by incautious commanders trying their luck too near that dire sphere.
The storms abate in spring and autumn regions but the winds still blow hard toward Noctis. In summer, and the temperate zone around Iscarion, the winds are lighter and much less treacherous. There are some local anomalies that cause strange calms, or near permanent storms and riptides. These should be marked on your charts if you have reliable copies.
Celennar and the ethereal moons
Hysh’s moons ALWAYS appear to be full when viewed from within the Realm. Hysh is the source of light illuminating them, so to the people in Hysh they appear to be reflecting light straight back at them (while the angle they are at compared to Hysh will affect how they appear to other realms).
If Celennar has, I think, a nine week orbital cycle this means the true moon is hidden from view for four and a half weeks of each lunar-month, as it passes beneath the surface of Hysh. Luckily for the Prime Dominion it can still be seen from the Lux Umbra for some of this time. Otherwise it would only be invisible as soon as the whole of it passed below the Realm’s plane. Celennar is also eclipsed once each month, as it passes near the Shadow Realm of Ulgu.
As the Realm of Hysh is so big, Celennar will appear to get bigger as it orbits nearer to the viewer, and appear smaller when it is far away. It orbits at an angle so it will also get higher and lower in the sky as it passes. To a viewer in the Prime Dominion on the edge of the Realm, in Haixiah, it will seem HUGE and close as it rises on the near side, and visible in full daylight. But it will appear to be tiny and distant when it sets on the far side, and only visible in the almost-twilight that passes for night here. The realm itself might be turning relative to Celennar’s path, so the rise and fall points might change over the course of many years. I have not been in this Realm long enough to be sure.
The shimmersea and the shadowtides
The sea of liquid light that fills the void between the floating metalith islands of the archipelago that form the Prime Dominion is another strange phenomenon a traveller new the the area will need to become accustomed to. Conventional sea-going vessels can float on it and navigate in a way sea-captains will feel is familiar but one must be aware it is as far from normal water as it is possible to imagine. The light waxes and wanes, and occasional rents or tears appear on its surface. Known as shadowtides, these fissures grow and shrink in unfathomable rhythmic patterns (possibly connected to the movements of Noctis, but I have not been able to quantify them). Sailing into a shadowtide will be catastrophic for a surface vessel: this cannot be overstated.
Skyvessels, however, can make use of the shadowtides to slip from the Lux Flumen, above the surface of the Shimmersea, to the Lux Umbra, the penumbral underworld of the Prime Dominion (or vice versa). This ‘other side’ is frequented by, shall we say, those less encumbered by morals or manners.
Falling in the shimmersea is a disconcerting experience. The liquid light is warm and will burn, if you stay in it too long, but it is not an instantly fatal danger. The undead suffer worse than the living as far as I have been able to ascertain. Even the unfocused light of Hysh is unkind to the magics that sustain them, but it isn’t like standing in the beam of a Luminark.
There are ten Waystone Towers scattered around the Prime Dominion. They are clearly marked on most maps and charts and they can be used to get your bearings by checking the relative positions of three or more towers. Each has a unique signature when located with a thaumaturgic, or aetheric, compass once you have tuned the device to remove the overpowering noise of the Perimeter Inimical and balanced it for the location of Noctis. Neither of these measures should be ignored as your compass will be next to useless without them.
Not all Waystone Towers can be trusted – they were made by the aelfs, so they are probably ancient. Some have been damaged or broken by powerful magics over the centuries, and others are either corrupted or faulty as they appear to shift or their bearings are displaced. I am trying to mark these on my charts but they should be double-checked as often as possible.
Navigation within the Prime Dominion should be easy for anyone who has the skill and fortitude to survive the hazardous journey through Haixiah to get here. But there is much to learn in a short time in order to avoid the most common hazards here. An inexperienced commander will not last long and the numerous shipwrecks that pepper the islands tell that tale in grim detail.