Rodorsceaft: Pillar of Heaven
Travel and Transportation
The Mechanists developed the technology to build these giant flying clockwork monstrosities during the late days of the Solarian Empire. Now, they hold a near-monopoly on their operation, since only the Mechanists possess the technology to build one.
Airships are clockwork machines, driven by enormous adamantine springs. They must be wound at special winding stations that the dwarves have constructed along the major travel routes. An airship has a range of approximately 200 leagues between windings, depending on ambient weather and direction of travel. (I.e. an airship can just make the trip from ground to lowest branches, but can make the return trip with ease.)
Airships vary in size and carrying capacity by their builder’s preference. Likewise, they vary in luxury. The Mechanists outright refuse to sell either completed hulls or schematics to any other comers, jealously guarding their monopolies. It is for this reason that airships are also crewed exclusively by Mechanist dwarves, with only the odd gnome here and there. The only airships that are operated by non-Mechanists are those that have been captured by pirates, notably the Skydevils. While some royals are wealthy enough to have crewed airships on permanent retainer, and Mysidia maintains a small airship strike force, these are contract arrangements with the Mechanists only.
There do exist three long-range airships, which use gas bags to augment their range. These long-range airships are large, heavily defended and are the only non-magical means available for crossing the Barrens.
The work-bird of the trees, chocobos are ubiquitous as beasts of burden. Though few are capable of flight, they are able to bear heavy loads and most can even glide for short distances when necessary.
Chocobos are commonly used both as mounts and as pack animals or on draw teams. They fill in for horses, donkeys, ponies and other single-hooved ungulates wherever the latter would be used.
It is worth noting that the groundling civilizations have access to and routinely use horses. However, horses and other large hooved animals are unsuitable for travel along the Spiral Path, so they are very rare in the branchlands.