Herbs and minerals
Joined: 12 Aug 2011
Posted: 13 May 2015 at 19:53
Rarer than iron, but more durable, the Dwarves of the Second Age named this metal after the Artefores (their gods), who they say revealed its secrets to the Dwarves of the First Age.
Some Elven theologians tell that the land of Illyria was once a living, feeling entity upon from whom all other races drew succour. In time, they say, the abuses of these ungrateful races caused the world to grow cold and hard and dead, until, as now, it became a dull, lifeless slab of earth and stone. These orange-red gemstones, they say, are the last traces of the blood of the earth, the living essence which once flowed through it. Other races sometimes ask if this is a mere myth, or if it is actually true; the theologians say that the question is meaningless.
Drawn from the deepest mines, this rare blue-white metal is a vital component in the creation of runic inscriptions. While many pigments and powders can be used to inscribe common, domestic runes, for wards that are expected to cover an entire settlement more specialist ingredients are required to inscribe runes, and Deepsilver is the key component.
In the last days of Alda Amar, a brotherhood of mages dedicated themselves to the recovery of Pyrstone for the empire's defences. For this, they were both reviled and revered. Their efforts allowed the empire to cast great Abjurations to shield their people from Orcish curses. But the brotherhood could only find the stones by seeking out the funeral sites of ancient communities of mages. The cremations of these potent magicians, imbued with magics of a strength not seen since the dawn of the Second Age, led to concentrations of magic being absorbed by these stones, the wise rulers of Alda Amar believed. It is from this that these stones, flecked in silver and gold and copper hues, are known as Pyrestones.
This deep green gemstone is named Trove as a direct translation of its Kobold name. It is commonly sought after by these querulous greenskins, apparently for personal adornment, but for most races its value derives from its magical uses.
From whatever angle each Rainbowstone is viewed, it always looks the same â€“ one colour at its centre, and others colours in concentric circles radiating out. However the stone is turned, the colours shift so that it looks the same for the viewer. If the stone is broken open (which renders it useless for magical purposes) all of the colour fades away, leaving chunks of dull, opaque crystal. As the crystal is only found in surface layers of soil at some ancient sites, it has been suggested that Rainbowstones are completely artificial, having been made by magicians around the dawn of the Second Age.
Crystals of unusual purity, perfectly transparent yet with dots of light seeming to dance within them, Clarestine gems are much sought after for their uses in protective magics. Common superstitions say that to carry such a crystal will protect from accidental injury at work. Illyria's foremost mages have more grandiose uses for the crystals.
In the current Age, Elven priests often conduct ceremonies of mourning â€“ not for individual deaths or tragedies, but for the world itself, for all the ignorance and cruelty which besets the lands. Yet these formal rituals are but shadows of the great, spontaneous mournings of ancient times, and it is said that many Elven hermits, at the end of the First and dawn of the Second Ages, mourned with such purity and passion that their tears could cure the sick, delay the effects of mortal ageing, or protect a person from injury. Where these hermits lived, near to ancient temples, their tears often fell to the ground and, legend says, froze there. And so today, in the soil around these ancient temples, people might hope to find these opaque crystals, resembling ice but warm to the touch, which are called Elven Tears. Some wear them as personal charms, as protection against injury or illness, but some mages have found more dramatic protective purposes for these.
Svelaugh Sand can be scraped from underground seams in tiny quantities, a bright yellow powder which can be baked into solid forms. Extremely rare, some profligate rulers have ordered robes to be made, dyed from this sand, as it can stain cloth an outstanding yellow colour. Legend tells that in the first age, when Dwarven herdsmen guided their flocks through huge underground caverns, these herdsmen carried rods baked from this sand. Today, its use is primarily in weaving animal-related enchantments.
This purple-blue gemstone is associated with the element of Air. Brittle and light-weight, it is sometimes used in jewellery, but is mostly sought out by mages.
Daera is rare, but visually unremarkable. Typically occurring in nobly pellets about the size of a human fist, it is dark brown, somewhere between red-brown and black-brown, described by some as being about the colour of highly fertile soil. It is of little interest to jewellers, but considerable interest to mages.
Flektrine is a red gemstone, with tiny grains of gold naturally embedded within it. It is not unattractive, catching the light prettily, but the superstitious say that it is unlucky to keep it in the home as it increases the chance of house fires. Mages rarely comment on such superstitions, but frequently store their Flektrine supplies submerged in cold water.
This green-blue gemstone has had various uses throughout history. Werzelnak Scrumptrick, the legendary Gnome Brewer of the Second Age, was said to stir his vats with a staff encrusted in Almhurin. King Sigurd's chamberlain insists that the king's clothes be washed in a tub with an Almhurin gem set at its base. And the leaders of the Lannigolds each drink only from cups with Almhurin-studded rims, which they say keep them safe from poison attempts.
In deep underground rivers, a silver scum sometimes forms upon the surface of quiet pools. It looks like algae, except that it is a brilliant white and shiny. It behaves in all ways as a metal, except that it floats on water. Scooped up from the water, it can be worked (with some difficulty) to form jewellery, but it is most sought after by mages.
Shards of obsidian can be mined from the earth, generally for use in exotic weaponry. A deep black colour, with purple and white accents, this stone can be shaped to hold a good edge, and is popular in many cultures for ceremonial and sacrificial weaponry.
Deep blue if viewed in dim light, transforming to a brilliant gold as sunlight falls across it, Goldstone seems to be an impossible stone: if weighed, it is heavier than gold, but if dropped it falls through the air no faster than a feather; placed in a small amount of water, it causes the water to expand and grow, as if being created from nothing; placed in a small fire, the flames will flare and roar at many times their previous heat.
Hard as diamond, cut and worked by gem cutters exactly like diamond, these gems are clearly diamonds. Except that they are as black as midnight. Few wish to have Night Diamonds about their person. Some have reported the gems talking to them; many notable owners of Night Diamond jewellery have gone mad or killed themselves. The Blood Thorn Queen, whose cursed followers became the Dark Elves, was said to have the largest ever Night Diamond mounted atop her staff. In the far south, across the Ocean, are rumours of an Eternal Emperor whose crown is encrusted with Night Diamonds and whose empire is forever blighted.
As iron ore runs in veins through common rock, so Iceheart runs in veins through deep layers of ice. Paler than iron, it is also lighter, and although it is too brittle to forge weapons from it directly, iron weapons can be augmented with Iceheart, often in order to make them lighter.
These irregular, glowing crystals were once highly prized by the Elves of the great empire of Alda Amar. Legend tells that their arch mages hoped that they could release pure Mana from the stones, but that they never perfected the technique; instead, they developed potent spells which relied upon these for their augmented force.
In the Second Age, the elite armies of the Dwarves fought with swords forged of Silversteel. Stronger than iron, with an edge that never dulls, weapons augmented with Silversteel tips, edges or blades are always of exceptional quality. Resembling iron in colour, Silversteel can be polished until it reflects as well as any mirror, and legends tell of armies wearing Silversteel Plate armour whose enemies would be dazzled by the sunlight flashing on their armour.
Pale Cedar Wood
Though various types of Cedar are common across Illyria, it is only the rare Pale Cedar whose saplings, if harvested at exactly the right age, can give a slender core of wood much sought after by some master bowyers.
While most view the lemon tree as a source of exotic fruit, master bowyers are keen to find the perfect lemon bough, of the correct length, curve and age, for the construction of specialist bows.
In the Second Age, many human communities regarded the Larken tree as sacred, and conducted Naming ceremonies for new-born children beneath its boughs. But as the communities were savaged by successive Orc attacks, the men and women sought new rituals and protections, and came to regard the Larken tree as out-dated, and potentially dangerous; they began to believe that children named beneath the Larken tree were cursed, that the tree piled up the sufferings of one generation upon the next. So, by the present age, the Larken trees were unregarded relics of a former time. But, though the full grown Larkens are hard, dry, gnarled trees, with bitter berries, the wise folk know that the core of a young, supple Larken can be harvested and stripped down for a range of specialist uses, including the crafting of light bows.
Herdsmen taking their animals out to forage in the woods are vigilant to steer their beats away from patches of Berbane. The soft, tender leaves are deceptively poisonous, and can be a serious risk to livestock. Symptoms of Berbane poisoning include miscarriages, vomiting, and aggressive dementia. These same properties make the herb of great interest to other folk, of course â€“ ranging from vindictive rivals seeking to poison neighbours' beasts, to magicians seeking to transfer these effects into spells.
In ancient times, herbalists would cultivate large patches of Ysan bushes, both for the scent of the leaves and the soothing properties of its berries' juices. Now, the secrets of this cultivation have been lost, and those seeking berries, either for medical or veterinary use, often seek out ancient patches of woodland, where they hope that some bushes might still thrive.
The Mabri tree is common in the warmer climates in Illyria, and a common superstition holds that a woman who wishes to become pregnant can increase her chances of conception through eating this tasty fruit. Educated mages, however, note that it is not the common fruit which have special powers, but rather the one in one thousand which is perfectly formed, without blemishes or imperfections. Less skilled gatherers would never recognise the perfect specimens amongst the many others, and so collection of suitable Mabri fruit is a specialist job.
To identify and harvest Punfruit takes a skilled collector. It is said that no two fruit look the same, that they can grow in a thousand possible soils, and that they have a thousand possible flavours. Indeed, they often resemble other fruit entirely, seeming the same but with very different flavours. This renders them useless for a chef or cook, who would want a more reliable taste, but these clearly magical fruit can be of considerable interest to mages.
Baleberries are a common, slightly bitter fruit, which can cause considerable discomfort and social embarrassment if eaten. Children often dare each other to eat 'Windyberries'. Mages and village wise folk alike, however, are interested in the berries for more serious reasons. Mages are unconcerned with puerile humour, and view these berries differently, although to them, only the berries of the oldest Bale bushes are of interest. For a village's wise folk, however, the berries have a more domestic purpose, a concentrate of the juice being useful in preventing conception.
Ebony is a black wood, sometimes used in embellishing furniture and other domestic items for the use of the wealthy. Its deep colour and lustre is often considered quite beautiful. But master weaponsmiths hold that a perfect piece of Ebony, judged by its grain and sheen, can imbue a weapon with almost supernatural powers. These perfect pieces of wood are rare, but often sought after.
That rain might drip from a tree's leaves after rain is no surprise. What is unusual, is that rain will drip from the leaves of some Dyallom trees before it rains. The secret to which drip and which do not is contained in the galls (growths) found on some trees' branches. If the tree has a gall, its leaves will drip with rain before a storm; if there is no gall, then the tree cannot foretell the rain. Since ancient times, people have harvested the galls â€“ some to divine the future weather, some to summon rain during a drought, others for more destructive magical purposes.
Warpwood, contrary to its name, is not a timber, but a fungus. It is commonly held that Warpwood is corrupted timber, that cursed trees transform into a dark grey, leather-like mass. In truth, Warpwood starts as a fungal shoot, taking hold in the bark of a healthy tree; it then consumes the tree, eating away at the wood, replacing this with itself. And so in time it spreads out to consume and replace all of the healthy wood, until there stands in the jungle a great dark fungus, in the shape of a tree, with the bark of the consumed tree peeling away like rotting skin. The resulting giant fungus is not apparently useful. However, the young shoot of Warpwood, in the few days after it has planted itself in a tree, is considered magically potent.
The Ironstem plant is amazingly hardy. Thriving in the coldest and most desolate reaches of Illyria, it is strong enough to force its shoots up through solid ice, and its roots down into solid rock. Attempts have been made to use this strength in crafting weapons, but the stems rot if they become moist at above freezing temperatures. Unusually large examples of the roots are sought after by some mages.
Miner's Bane is a fungus, believed to be of magical origin, unleashed as a weapon of war against Orcish iron mines in the Second Age. It fastens itself on to, and consumes, not living or dying mater, but rather metal ores. It was meant to eat into the iron ore of Orcish mines, but soon spread to Dwarven mines and beyond. Now, a thousand years later, dozens of mines are infected.
While the coldest weather kills most plants, it is in the winter that Snowbells bloom. Most are withered by frost, tattered by wind, but when a perfect specimen can be found, whole and intact, these have power in weaving destructive magics.
In the dank and foetid places of Illyria, green-black mushrooms squat, resembling toads in shape and size. A perfect specimen, picked when it has reached full size and before it has started to rot away, can be used for a range of ritual purposes, having mind-altering effects, and also ha related magical uses.
Found in small, rare patches across the temperate zones of Illyria, Furzion is a delicate plant, easily succumbing to diseases and frequently consumed by a range of animals. Its strength, however, is in its rapid growth, as the plant's runners grow more swiftly than any other known plant in Illyria. Reproducing either by runners or seeds, its rare seed pods are much sought after by mages. But with the plant developing at an accelerated pace, the pods form and burst in just half an hour, leaving only a brief opportunity for an expert to find and gather a pod.
The cultivation of flowers is not a common Orcish pass-time, but it is an ancient Orc custom to transplant thorny Vistrok plants to line the entrances to their mines, as they believe that the plants will encourage the ground to give up its hoard of iron more readily. Wiser folk are suspicious of this simple belief, and mages confirm that although the plants are associated, magically, with iron, simply replanting a few plants will have no effect. Such mages are keen, however, to find examples of the plant's grey flowers, picked just as they first come into bloom, as the buds first start to open.
Rockweed is considered a pest by farmers, who will clear it from their fields as fast as possible. But this is not for the usual reasons: this is not a weed that strangles or over-run the farmer's crops. Rather, it has the peculiar property of binding the soil together, making it harder to plough. Some farmers claim that if a field becomes infested, more stones appear in the soil, as if the weed were somehow spawning new rocks. Wise mages do not dismiss such claims: more often a mage will ask that, if possible, the roots which seem to be encircling newly formed rocks should be collected for use.
Just as some flowers follow the sun, so the rare Suntree grows in the same way. Carefully examining the trunk of a sapling, it is possible to see what growth occurred in summer or winter, as the plant grew up inclined more or less towards the equator. This extreme sensitivity makes the wood magically interesting, and in particular mages value specimens which, due to having grown in entirely shaded environments, with no direct sunlight to deflect their growth, have grown perfectly straight. The two meter tall trunk of a perfectly straight sapling is a rare treasure to such mages.
Brownback moss is valued by farmers in areas where the soil is thin. It takes root on bare rock, and transforms the surface of the rock into thin soil. Over many years, a thriving patch of moss can wear away rocks and add to the available soil. The plant takes its name from its tendency, just before it dies, to turn from a lush green to a red-brown. Mages note that, if harvested just at the point where its colour turns, the moss has magical potential.
The Silverthorn plant is a rare, hardy shrub which grows to be about a meter tall. When it is young its primary stems, its trunks, are covered in sharp thorns, and when the shrub is full grown these become encases in pith and bark. However, if the shrub is knocked or grasped, it exhibits an unusual defence mechanism: its thorns push outwards to pierce anyone who might be pushing against it or holding it, later retracting once more. The thorns of the plant are typically a pale grey, but in some cases adult plants produce thorns which are genuinely shiny, like silver. It is from these silvery thorns that the plant takes its name, and it is these that mages value. Collecting the rare thorns can, however, be a painful experience.
Sharproot is one of the most violent purgatives in Illyria. The root of the plant is used by physicians to induce vomiting, cure constipation, and so on. Mages, however, want only the most potent of roots. To find a Sharproot plant out on the plains can take time, as it is a short, round clump, overshadowed and concealed by typical plains grasses. But having found and dug up a plant, the gatherer must still test it for its strength. The simplest method of testing the potency of the plant is to lick the root, and if one is not violently sick within minutes then it simply isn't good enough for magical use. Some gatherers use tame animals to test the potency of the root, which makes the job less unpleasant for them but does strain their abilities in animal training.
Amidst the oldest forests of Illyria, the most ancient oaks hide a secret which weaponsmiths are keen to tease out of them. When the old oaks are dying, their hollow husks typically rot away, but in places there remain shards of oak wood of incomparable toughness. Even in their still living state, this wood is as tough as a soft stone, and when dried it is as hard as iron. The skill is for those gathering the wood to not only identify promising oaks, but then to carefully cut hafts of oak, pruning these out in shapes which will be of use to weaponsmiths with minimal work; it is a time consuming process.
Rahan Palm Wood
It is a rare wood that will retain its flexibility and strength in the harsh, dry, hot conditions of the desert. Many woods will become brittle. But the wood of the Rahan Palm seems to thrive in these harsh conditions, becoming, if anything, more supple and more durable in desert conditions. This makes it valuable for a range of uses, including tent poles and spear shafts, and gatherers take care to fell trees that are neither too old nor too young, selecting only those in their prime.
Queen's Hair Leaves
The leaves of the rare Queen's Hair plant can be separated out to form a gauzy material resembling raw cotton or un-spun wool, and like cotton and wool it can be used to stuff quilts or pad garments. Some, however, consider it superior to both of these alternative materials, as it resists being packed down, springing easily back to an uncompressed form and resisting attempts to rip it.
The desert Spidertree grows in a tangle of curled branches, with huge, skeletal leaves: in place of the large leaves found in jungle plants, this tree produces only the outlines of leaves, a network of fibres rather than broad leaves. A mass of such skeletal leaves, seen from a distance, resembles a giant spider's web, from which the tree gets its name. The resemblance to a spider's web goes deeper, however: the fibres of these leaves, woven together to form cloth, is extremely tough, and resistant to tearing; indeed, piercing the fabric in one place causes the cloth to knot together, making the cloth able to substantially slow the penetration of sharp objects which rely on speed rather than weight â€“ such as arrows.
Brascan grass grows in clumps in shady areas, producing fatty seeds. The seeds can be crushed to yield an oil which can be used either for cooking or, less obviously, in armour making. The process of boiling leather in water and oil, and then waxing it, creates a toughened leather armour, and Brascan Seed Oil is a vital component in this process.
Giant Palm Leaves
This rare jungle tree has huge, thick leaves, notable not only for their size, but also their extreme toughness. Light weight and extremely hard to cut. Some armoursmiths have experimented with using this as a material with which to make armour: some say that it is useless, saying that the leaves crumble in the cold and become unbearably sweaty if worn in hot, wet climates; others have noted that, correctly treated, the leaves will last for years and remain supple in hot, dry climates.
On certain nights, lights can be seen flickering across the desert, dancing on mountain ledges. These are flowers, which bloom not petals but fire. Each petal is a flame half as tall as an adult human. If the flower is picked, then the flame will continue to burn, through the autumn, winter and spring. Princes and rich merchants have long sought these out, as a single flower, left in a chamber, will warm the room throughout the coldest winter; of course, the flowers will not survive a year, and so must be replaced each summer, and picking and transporting these is specialist work. Mages are less interested in the domestic uses of the plant, indeed preferring to keep these blossoms far away from their work areas, as they say that these magical plants can destabilise their magics and impede their enchanting. That is not to say that they do not covet the flowers: a magical plant that can destabilise rivals' magics is clearly of interest to many magicians.
Joined: 09 Nov 2013
No-one has ever admitted to finding any of the above.
|Forum Jump||Forum Permissions
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot create polls in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum