Did you ever look up to watch the clouds?
That's a rhetorical question, of course: most people have, especially when it comes to those really thick cumulus clouds that drift against the sky, ponderously yet majestically. You can't help looking, really. Kids do it all the time, to look for faces or shapes: more adults than one would think do it, too, when they think nobody's watching. It's just that the clouds look so blessed solid, even when you know that they're just water vapor that's decided to be communal. You'd think that you could stand on those clouds and get the view of your life.
The racial memory of humans never ceases to impress angels.
These artifacts, despite the name, resemble nothing more than a large ship's sailing wheel mounted upon a long pole. When activated, they have the ability to make cloud-stuff solid - more or less. Each level of the artifact will allow a cloud to support up to half a ton of ... well, the word doesn't translate well into English. Suffice it to say that the material in question is what makes vessels and artifacts special: call it 'gossamer' and be done with it.
Being more made of rougher clay, humans cannot thus normally avail themselves of this unique form of transportation... but those with Symphonic Awareness can see gossamer, and can even learn how to incorporate it into their bodies. In game terms, the ability to take advantage of Rudders (but not use them directly) is an 'Attunement' worth 5 points.
Rudders not only stabilize cloud-stuff: they can direct it, as well. This mostly allows the riders to use the prevailing winds to best effect, but a skilled user may tack and sail on the many cross breezes that layer the atmosphere. Pilot (Cloud-ship) defaults to Perception -4: a successful use allows for three-dimensional changes equal to (CD) degrees. Multiple Rudders may be used for finer control: add all CDs together for the angle change, but the main Piloting roll is at -1 for every two extra Rudders.
Cost: 12 per level. Any artifact may be given the Feature: "can be mounted on cloud-stuff" for 5 points.
Essence Cost and Disturbance: none. Apparently, even the Symphony can have its fancy struck.
Rudders can't be used anymore, alas; humans can now journey above the clouds, which makes hiding the artifacts ... problematical. But they had their day, once. Before the Fall, Heaven used them to create vast fleets of cloud ships, wandering the globe to safely observe and rejoice in the infinite complexity of the Creation below them. It is not for nothing that humanity has traditionally placed angels as dwelling on clouds.
After the First Incursion, well, the cloud ships were no longer entirely safe for idle pleasures - but they could be used for more martial tasks. The wars in the skies were epic in their scope: entire weather fronts would be one vast battleground as Heaven and Hell met and did battle for the souls of humanity. It is also not for nothing that humans shiver at thunder.
At its peak, the Meeting of Sea and Sky was one of the busiest Guilds in Heaven. Run jointly by Servitors of Wind and the Waters, the scene inside was invariably one of barely controlled chaos, as hundreds of angels busily coordinated armadas of research and war above six continents. It was a point of pride for the Meeting's sky captains to come periodically to talk of the latest voyage, compare battles and drop off mementos of their journeys on Earth (and, for the more daring ones, the Marches).
Today, the physical Guildhall still exists, but much reduced. The atmosphere there today is about as close to somber as one can get in Heaven: while there is still a small amount of travel in the Ethereal plane, the glory days are behind the Meeting. Many of the captains still visit, though, and will tell their stories to any that would listen. Indeed, it seems sometimes that they seem to be waiting for something. Perhaps for a time when man will not be looking up at the clouds - or at least not be surprised to see armed angels sailing them...
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