This page was designed as a reference for the players and GM of The Myriads of August, the PBeM in which this version of the air force figures.
While individual airmen are allowed to use idiosyncratic weapons, everyone in the air force is trained to excel with four basic weapons. The first of these is the short composite bow, which has the force, range, and reloading speed of the English longbow, without the size. The air force's arrows are fletched with one of the three feathers purple, to identify them. For close-in air to air combat (or ground combat) airmen use a spear/hook/axe pole weapon, something like the Lochaber Axe (for more information on which, see the weapons page for this group of medievalists or this entry in a online encyclopedia of medieval weapons). And for general ground combat, there's the sword. Airmen are also encouraged to learn and teach each other various other forms of combat: unarmed is big currently.
The fourth of the weapons mentioned above are rifles. The air force trains with rifles off in shadow, so this aptitude is somewhat less apparent.
The air force is most conspicuous to the populace of Amber in the patrols it runs. Airmen patrol in groups of three, mixed Velantian and human. There is generally a patrol visible somewhere in the sky, and they will come to earth to assist in situations where they notice someone could use a hand, though only two airmen at a time.
The air force is evident to some degree in Shadow because Iris contracts out brigades to fight in battles and actions she finds worthy. This is mainly for the purpose of keeping the men honed to battle.
The grounds of Treeview start just over the ridge of the mountians, peak, and then slope jaggedly down to where the fort is built up against and within the rock. Next follows a gently sloping plateau covered by grassy meadows where the kirlians graze, and by a small lake fed from springs within the mountains. The estate ends at an abrupt cliff, below which is Arden. The little-travelled back road to Westwood Academy runs through the meadows, past the first wall of Treeview.
The fort at Treeview has enchantment built into it so that no Trump can be made of anything within the first wall, no large amounts of people can be pulled though a personal trump connection, and teleportation to anywhere within the first wall is impossible. There are assuredly other protections, but experimentation to figure out what they are is (understandably) vehemently discouraged.
Marshall of the Amber Air Force
*Ranks preceeded by asterisks will be put into use when the air force expands
There is only ever one Marshall of the Amber Air Force. Currently, the position is held by its first and only occupant, the Royal Duchess Iris, who originated the whole thing. For more on Iris, see her page.
When the air force was merely a charter and an idea, Iris went looking among the members of the royal family for help running it. No one was interested. However, the air force hasn't suffered for it: Iris's second-in-command is the wise and competent Velantian Sorrel. Chief Marshall Sorrel was the best (and also the oldest) Velantian commander at Iris's side during the liberation of the Velantian people, and she chose to go on with Iris to Amber after the final victory. Her many years have given her a deep understanding of the ways of sentients; they've also slowed her down enough that Iris can ride her into battle (if necessary) without getting woozy due to sudden changes in direction.
There are two Air Marshalls currently. Hugh Lawrence is a solid military man, with blond hair and a soup-strainer moustache. He's not especially talkative. He has a wife, and two little girls; they live in Treeview.
The other Air Marshall is Eilen Kayaktis. She's tall, slim, Rebman... And the haughtiest person in Amber. The surreptitious joke is that the Unicorn has never been seen around Treeview because it can't stand her withering glance. In reality, she's perfectly fine to get along with so long as you accept that her iciness is nothing personal. Strangely, she hasn't been back to Rebma in living memory.
Making a trump of anyone below the rank of Air Marshall is against the law, except with special written dispensation from Iris. It can be safely assumed that the top four in the Air Force all have trumps of each other, Random, Castle Amber, and Treeview.
The Velantians originated in E. E. "Doc" Smith's
Lensman books, and first appear in Galactic Patrol, the
first/third book of the series. Worsel, the Velantian spoken of
below (quotes from Galactic Patrol), becomes a major character in the series, and is one of the
four best minds in the universe for awhile. I highly recommend
"Doc" Smith, on Velantians
Masses of Catlats have jumped the marooned Patrolmen Kinnison and
vanBuskirk, intent on dragging Kinnison into a hole in a cliff and
eating him. The Gerard-like vanBuskirk is holding onto Kinnison
and is spanning the hole in the cliff, braced against the terrible
pull of the aliens. Worsel is answering their mental distress
Typical Velantian behavior:
The Velantians are a race of somewhat dragon-shaped sentients who communicate via telepathy. They range from about 25 to 40 feet long as adults. They have six prehensile eyes and six arms, and are quite strong. They're able to handle immense changes in momentum-- G's that could knock even an Amberite unconscious-- without a second thought, and thus can be seen on occasion careening across the sky like pinballs in some invisible machine. They're warm-blooded, and omnivorous like cats: preferring meat, but augmenting it with greens. They give birth to ususally one kid at a time. For a more detailed description, see the sidebar.
Having six eyes and multiple other appendages, the Velantians have naturally developed a mind to match. They can compartmentalize their minds, and do widely varying things at the same time. For example, a Velantian can put together a clock, write in his diary, and carry on two different conversations all at the same time, without trouble. The best Velantians can even let most of their minds be taken over by something else while they watch from a hidden compartment until they've learned what they need to know.
The mental capabilities of the Velantians are not entirely clear, due in a large part to their modesty. However, it seems to be the case that in Amber their mental range is a little farther than a scream could be heard... Around a mile, perhaps. In Velantia, the range of the best minds is vast. They've also apparently left behind the ability to attack mentally; all any Velantian in Amber has been known to do with telepathy is communicate. They can "talk" to even those humans without psychic capabilites by picking up the words the human wishes to get across. The strength of the desire of the human to communicate influences from how far away the Velantian will notice that there's a message to be picked up. As for the talking itself, it can be done on the public band, where anyone in range can pick it up, or sent to a select group of minds, where the possibility of it being "overheard" depends on the number of people involved, the distance between them, and the strength of their minds. Most "talk" "sounds" conversational no matter where the two beings are located physically, but at the edges of someone's range talk tends to "sound" fainter.
A highly useful consequence of having telepathic airmen who can divide their attention casually is that they can use a small portion of their minds to continually "relay" other peoples' thoughts. Thus information can pass through the entire airforce in a matter of seconds. Humans can appear to be as telepathic as Velantians due to relaying of their thoughts. News can reach a commander from miles away, if there is a chain of Velantians in range of each other between the two points.
In personality, the Velantians tend to be like giant sky otters. However, they are intelligent, are diligent and focused when they work, and have plenty of sense. On the other hand, they do tend to have an annoying cultural tendency to be airily overly modest in conversation.
Iris first came across the Velantians on a sortie down the Black Road. Later, during her ronin wanderings, she returned to Velantia and found them suffering greatly from the depredations of a repulsive alien species that entered their shadow via the Black Road. The Delgonians, lead by the Overlords of Delgon, gained sustenance and pleasure from the pain of tortured beings-- preferably intelligent, strong beings such as the Velantians. They were able to lure Velantians to them using insidious powers of hypnotism and mind control.
Iris took up the Velantian cause out of gratitude and interest. Working with Sorrel and other Velantian generals, she managed to discover tactics that could be used against the Delgonians. In a series of quick, nasty, slashing campaigns they managed to wipe out the Delgonian centers of power and free the Velantian people from their enslavement. To Iris's knowledge, not a single Delgonian survived. She is regarded as a legendary hero in Velantia now, and in 500 years or so she and her generals will probably have reached Arthurian status.
The Velantians were among Iris's first choice for species to use in the air force. After a few visits where it was determined they remained useful in Amber, Iris recruited several hundred to join her. She has encouraged them to be social with the humans of Amber, and thus Velantians on leave can be found nearly everywhere. Some Velantians have been granted extended leaves to attend Westwood or, more popular, Salem. There are as yet no Velantians in North Breakers, as they do not hear, and their dance and "singing" are pretty far from Amber's.
Velantia is a world harsher than Amber. The Velantians did not just happen to become consummate fighters: it was necessary for survival in a world where the very bushes try to dismember and dissolve them. The jungles of Velantia are a constant battleground, where only the rocks do not fight; even the Velantians, the highest form of life on the planet, do not go to the deepest parts of the jungles. The plains of Velantia are less "alive". The animals of Velantia, are, naturally, quite nasty merely to survive the attacks of the plants. Mental abilites and attacks are common amongst them.
The Velantians have developed a society roughly on the same advancement level as that of Shadow Earth, though they are far less populous. They tend to live in villages and small cities. Their science is more advanced in physics, psychology, and other such introspective stuff, and less in chemistry and engineering. Large-scale wiring and cameras, for instance, are unknown; electricity is routed with force fields. Velantian scientists are currently working on better shield generators than the rudimentary ones in existence at the moment.
Ten hours in Amber is about eight in Velantia. This helps discourage the men from taking all their leave there. There is a trump gate to Velantia in a strong area of Treeview, leading to a outpost fort built on Iris's extensive grounds there. (There is a trump gate back to Amber in a similar position in the fort there.) Different brigades of airmen rotate through guarding this outpost; legally, it's Amberite soil. It's a pretty cushy assignment most the time, though occasionally the jungle plants sally forth and attack.
The kirlians are a sort of mighty qi'rin/pegasus cross that Iris found in shadow so that the humans of the air force have a way to take to the skies. The creatures also act as Amber's military air transports: they can carry two fully armored and equipped men for a reasonable distance. With only one relatively light rider, they can stay in the air for hours. They are hugely strong.
They are a little bigger than a horse, though with shorter legs. Neither fish nor fowl, in pelt alone they are a combination of all three classes of animals: they have scales and feathers on their wings, and scales and hair on their bodies. For reference, their hides are somewhat like those of Falkor, the luck dragon from the movie The Neverending Story. The most remarkable thing about their hides, though, is that they change color depending on the amount of light. In sunlight, kirlians are bright white. In the night, they turn a glossy black so they don't stand out. In twilight or stormy conditions, they are various shades of grey. Iris suspects that the kirlians were originally a magically created species that at some point went wild.
In their home shadow, kirlians fill the niche that in our shadow is filled by moose; they eat watery grasses and tubers, and live in relatively open, marshy areas. Their feet are wide, built to support them in muddy conditions. Their muzzles are broad and flattish, and they have catfish-like whiskers which they use for much the same purpose as catfish-- tasting and feeling out savory edible things in murky waters. Unlike moose they live in herds, with one keeping watch in the air while the rest graze. They are generally quiet except for whuffling, but do bugle to warn of danger.
In personality kirlians tend to be placid and equable-- except in the case of mother kirlians. Coming between a mother kirlian and her kit is a dangerous and stupid thing to do.
Kirlians will accept carrots and apples as treats, but they really adore sugar cane and beets. Rumors that they are fed the hearts of their enemies are untrue; it's just beets. They will accept most horse food, and graze on grass as a second choice to marsh plants.