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Elanthian Gems

Deathstone
Value: Uncommon.
Appearance:

Deathstone is an opaque, pure black stone that reflects very little light. Through some trick of the eye, deathstone crystals seem to reduce the fire of faceted gems placed near them. Since deathstone absorbs light in this fashion, it cannot truly be faceted, and simple cabochons are most popular in jewelry.

Location:

The best-known source of deathstone is Teras Isle, but other mines do exist. All are under dwarven control, and they are scattered widely across Elanith.

Lore:

The Faendryl have discovered that, if treated properly, deathstone has certain powers that can aid in the workings of necromancy or in casting curses. It is said that even those who are not sorcerers can sometimes use deathstone to ward off the undead, but it is also said that the undead may gain control over the living person through the magical channel, and attempting the feat is an inherently risky and desperate venture. It is an ill-luck stone, and it has no healing properties.

Deathstone's only purpose in divination is to foretell catastrophe for the diviner. Given its associations, many diviners balk at this, saying that deathstone actually invokes catastrophe rather than foretelling it.

As the name suggests, there are no nice reasons to give deathstone to someone else. Giving someone a piece of deathstone jewelry implies that you hope ill or death will come to the person. Certain groups of assassins use this as a fear tactic, placing pieces of deathstone in a victim's home before finally committing the murder.

Some suggest that deathstone is affiliated with Onar, but, notably, none of those who do so are themselves aligned with the Patron of Assassins. (Not that Onar's worshippers are likely to admit their allegiances, but typically their kills are accompanied with more subtlety and efficiency.) Others, noting the remarkable arcane differences between deathstone and other variants of quartz despite their mundane similarities, believe that deathstone is a creation of Fash'lo'nae.

According to dwarven legend, deathstone was first found by a large dwarven family who exulted with delight over their remarkable discovery. As they settled into mining the vein, however, dark thoughts began to creep into the minds of the dwarves, and each dwarf began to wonder whether his relatives might not cheat him of his share of the fascinating jewel or poorly handle the raw stone. Tension built over months until it erupted in a bloody massacre, and, in the violence of their battle, the roof of the tunnel collapsed, trapping them all. It is said that another group of dwarves tunneled into the area months later to find rotting corpses scattered all over the chamber. The final dwarf had etched the record of their struggle upon the pure, smooth face of the deathstone vein. While some modern-day dwarves discount this tale, common dwarven superstition still holds that deathstone can be mined only in order to be sold and that a horrible fate will come to those dwarves who keep it.


Despanal
Value: Extraordinarily rare.
Appearance:

Despanal is actually a transformation of alabaster, which becomes despanal after it has been exposed to an intense degree of uncontrolled sorcerous magic. Like alabaster, it is sometimes translucent and sometimes opaque, but it is more commonly found than alabaster in an opaque form. Despanal is a striking dark red stone that may be shot with veins of black, wine purple, or gold. It is significantly more sought-after by jewelers in its gold-streaked form than in either of the others, and the others are sometimes termed "dark despanal" or "dead despanal" to reflect this lack of value.

Location:

Despanal can be found in Rhoska-Tor, beneath Old Ta'Faendryl, in New Ta'Faendryl, near the Demonwall in the Turamzzyrian Empire, and in other locations where significant deposits of alabaster have been exposed to strong sorcerous magic. Some reports also suggest that despanal may be found in the lands of the Erithi, but the Erithi are notoriously close-mouthed about their home's riches and refuse to discuss the matter at length.

Lore:

Despanal is nicknamed "banshee stone" because it was first discovered in Rhoska-Tor after the destruction of Maelshyve. It has a variety of properties related to sorcery, but it is most notable for assisting summoners in bringing demons between worlds. Using despanal is a two-edged sword, as it increases the demon's power without increasing the summoner's control. Despite its lack of value in jewelry, dark despanal is more sought-after for by practitioners of the arcane, because gold-streaked despanal is less magically active than the other two.

Despanal has no healing properties. When ground finely, however, despanal powder makes a startlingly effective poison.

Despanal is rarely used in divination by most seers, as it tends to twist the results not only to display but to invoke the worst possible outcome in any possible situation -- self-fulfilling prophecies are not a possibility but a certainty when trying to divine with despanal implements.

Most of the elven cities presume that Despana's magic created despanal, resulting in the name, but the Faendryl believe that their sorcery was responsible for its creation rather than Despana's. Outside Ta'Faendryl, despanal is not usually an appropriate gift to anyone who does not practice the sorcerous arts, though it is acceptable to purchase and wear despanal oneself. Among the Faendryl, a gift of despanal is a compliment to the recipient's skill and power, even if the other person is not a sorcerer. Most of the sylvan folk make a point of avoiding the stone entirely.


Diamond
Value: Extremely rare to extraordinarily rare, depending upon the variety.
Appearance:

The easiest way to recognize a diamond, according to the dwarves, is to attempt to scratch it with another rock; unless you use another diamond or a magically hardened substance, it is impossible to scratch true diamond. The elves dismiss this technique in favor of magical recognition, as, not living underground, they are less likely to encounter true diamond and have no desire to accidentally put a scratch on a lesser stone that might resemble diamond. While the most commonly found diamonds are colorless with a very faint yellow tinge, diamonds do come in every hue of the rainbow. Most of the shades are faint, but there are exceptions; one of the most notable is the diamond variety known as maernstrike. Maernstrike diamonds are actually iridescent, producing a fiery play of brilliant color that is truly unlike any other gem. Two other unusual varieties are the star-of-Tamzyrr diamond and the dragon's-tear diamond. Star-of-Tamzyrr diamonds have a lesser fire than other diamonds, but display a peculiar sky blue star with hundreds of delicate rays when turned to catch the light. Dragon's-tear diamonds display shades of scarlet and cerulean in their pervasive fire, but show not a trace of any other color in the spectrum. There is also a variety of vivid pink diamond that is mined by the Khanshael beneath Dhe'nar lands, but it rarely leaves the hands of the dark dwarves.

Location:

Various diamonds may be found all over Elanthia, but some are geographically limited, such as star-of-Tamzyrr diamonds (which are found only in the southern part of the Turamzzyrian Empire), maernstrike diamonds (which are found only in elven lands), and large yellow diamonds (which are found only in the arctic north near Icemule Trace.) The legendary diamond mines at Kherram Olt Dzu are the finest in Elanith, if not the finest in the world.

Lore:

Worshippers of Eorgina associate all hues of diamond with that goddess, but black diamonds are pervasively known as Eorgina's sign -- a truth that is particularly strong among the elves, where legends of the Li'aerion Artisans still endure. Few elves will wear black diamonds unless they mean it to indicate that they share Eorgina's views and ideals, for, while they do not worship the Arkati, they do recognize their presence and power, and those unwilling to serve Eorgina have no wish to attract her eye.

Virtually every culture has something different to say about diamond, but all Elanthian races save the sylvans hold it in high esteem. (This is not an impressive exception, since the sylvans have never had much use for gems, preferring unadorned silver or mithril in metalwork jewelry.)

Diamonds are useful as focuses in all varieties of magical working save one -- that of sorcery. Diamonds innately resist having more than one variety of mana channeled through them at a single time. Using diamonds in attempts to enhance sorcery will often hinder spells rather than enhancing them. At best, the stones are inert; at worst, they explode. Still, the Faendryl find them attractive, and there is no danger of explosion if the diamond is not deliberately included in the spell.

Although the Erithi rarely wear diamond jewelry, preferring the elegance of agate and jade, they do recognize that this jewel possesses greater power to enhance the mental arts of transference than any other stone. The greatest savants of the Eloth Dai create teleportation talismans of remarkable power from owl feathers with diamond beads upon their shafts. These talismans are attuned to their creators and resist use by anyone not of the Eloth Dai.

In elven heraldry, diamonds are the royal jewel of House Illistim. As well as bestowing the heraldic honor upon their own people, monarchs of Ta'Illistim will often bestow diamond jewelry upon those who particularly please them, a sign of royal favor that may be extended under rare circumstance outside the race of elves. One case of such an occurrence came upon Eoantos 13 of 5103 in the city of Ta'Illistim. After announcing that the Aelotoi would have the right to hold full citizenship in the elven cities, Queen Myasara presented Braedn, ambassador of the Aelotoi people, with a maernstrike diamond pendant crafted in the sign of a peacock to represent her esteem for him.

Beneath the ground, diamonds are not particularly uncommon, but dwarves have a great love for diamonds. They feel that the gem is an excellent expression of the dwarven spirit -- unimpressive at first, but sparkling with a fire like no other once cut -- and diamonds are the traditional dwarven courting gift. Some dwarves give rings when expressing their passion this way, but larger pieces of jewelry are more common, such as bracelets, circlets, beard ornaments, and necklaces. While diamonds are mined in many parts of Elanith, the marvelous diamond mines at Kherram Olt Dzu are really without parallel. The fame of the Oltregek Clan as gem-miners began with their discovery of diamonds at Kherram Olt Dzu, and it has only increased ever since.

Once a miner parts with a diamond, and once it has been cut and polished, another culture's interest in diamonds becomes particularly apparent. While gnomes traditionally delight in all "sparklies," they are especially drawn to diamonds, an interest that crosses almost all cultural boundaries within the race. Nylem rogues ensure that no jeweler's strongbox remains safe when it contains a selection of diamonds, resulting in many gem sellers who desperately offload diamonds before the gnomes discover that a new shipment has arrived. The Withycombes take great pride in gem cutting, and, as they value the sparkle of a gem above all its other qualities, they prefer diamonds above all other gems. Among the Vylem bloodline, the adolescent gnome queens take great pride in bedecking themselves with the gems in imitation of their chosen patron.

The most disconcerting use of diamonds in gnomish culture (to outsiders, at least) is doubtlessly the coming-of-age ritual of the Felcour bloodline, in which the young gnome is given a knife and challenged with defending himself against a hardened warrior. Under rare circumstance, the diamond does not come into play, but the young gnome is not expected to prevail. Typically, the warrior beats the adolescent brutally into unconsciousness, and then someone implants a jagged shard of diamond beneath the young gnome's skin and stitches the wound closed. When the shard works its way out again, the gnome brings it back to the warrior and is deemed an adult from that day henceforth. Some groups of Felcour use the same diamond over and over again to induct their adolescents, while others permit the youth to retain the diamond shard afterward. One particularly savage group is distinguished by requiring the young gnome to hold the shard of diamond while a trained battlechanter shatters it with his voice. This leaves a particularly distinctive scar on the hand that these Felcour call "the second bloodmark."

Star-of-Tamzyrr diamonds were named when Selantha Anodheles, first Empress of the Turamzzyrian Empire, scorned all other gems to wear these jewels in her crown during her coronation. By wearing diamonds on her brow, in the eyes of her people, Selantha called on the power of the diamonds to enhance her keenness of thought. Selantha herself was not noted for superstition, being a practical, deadly sort of woman, but it enhanced her reputation for intelligence. The crown itself was a foot-high marvel of white gold worked into twisted, diamond-inlaid flame shapes. For safety, the crown is worn only at the highest court occasions.According to the traditions of human healers and mages, diamonds strengthen particular bodily functions depending upon where they are worn. It is said that wearing a diamond above the pulse in your wrist will increase your physical strength, wearing diamonds at your earlobes will increase your perceptiveness, wearing a diamond pendant over your heart will inspire you creatively, wearing a diamond on your ankle will make you surefooted, and wearing a diamond ring will inspire passion within you -- which is why human tradition requires that diamonds be given when courting or wedding. The ring is the most common marital diamond gift because, when compared to other pieces of jewelry, rings are extraordinarily difficult to steal, and they are attractive at even a small size -- an important consideration when finances are a concern.

Giantmen traditionally believe that a spirit inhabits every diamond. Dark-hued diamonds are believed to be inhabited by female spirits, while pale diamonds are inhabited by male spirits. It is considered unwise to wear diamonds unless you are a cleric or otherwise trained in spiritual magic, and it is seen as particularly dangerous for people of a fertile age to wear diamonds opposite their own gender, as the diamond's spirit will battle with the potential parent's spirit and cause deformity in his or her children.

Samarak the Grim, first chieftain of the Grot'karesh Hammer Clan, would often describe women who had earned his respect as being "as wily as a black diamond's fire!" Upon at least five recorded occasions, he presented women in his newly formed clan with a distinctive ornament that he called "a black spirit amulet," using it each time as a way to reward someone who had aided the newly forming clan with a significant feat of spiritual magic. Each one was made from a magnificent, tear-shaped black diamond set in a disk of silver, and leather bands spanned the disk in such a way that it could be bound about the head, woven into the hair, or worn as a choker with equal ease. No one ever knew where Samarak obtained these diamonds. The Jastevian priestess Anshosar, who lives in Kilanirij and advises the current chieftain of the Grot'karesh, currently wears one of the black spirit amulets. The whereabouts of the other four (or more, if more than five were distributed) are unknown.


Diopside
Value: Very common.
Appearance:

Diopside is a green stone that varies in hue from a dark forest color to a shade that is nearly black. Almost all sufficiently thin pieces of diopside will display a faint four-rayed star if held to the light. The larger a piece of diopside is, the less the star shows, resulting in a stone that may actually lose value with size.

Location:

Diopside outcroppings exist all over Elanthia. It is not quite as common a stone as its price reflects, but it is not a popular jewelry stone among any race, due in large part to its fragility. As well, diopside is particularly prevalent near the Demonwall, which has given it a distasteful reputation among human cultures.

Lore:

Sometimes called "poor man's emerald", diopside is the cheapest gem with a true green color. The dwarven name for diopside translates roughly to "earthweed."

An old joke claims that no one bothers to mine diopside -- the dwarves just kick it on their way past, and the gnomes scurry after them to pick up the pieces.

Upon rare occasion, someone will discover a piece of diopside that displays a six-rayed star rather than a four-rayed star. Examination suggests that these diopsides are crafted by exposure to sorcery, but, while it is rumored that the Erithi know a technique for producing diopsides like these, none of the races native to the continent of Elanith know how to replicate the process. Followers of Marlu treasure such diopsides and say that they are created by the presence of the Demon Lord.

Diopsides can enhance spells related to demonology, but only to a very slight degree -- diopside, being a cheap, common gem, is simply not pure enough in its composition to have any serious effect upon spellcasting.


Dreamstone
Value: Infrequently found.
Appearance:

Dreamstone is an opaque stone with a satiny sheen. Tiny, swirling trails of brilliant color cover its surface, interrupted routinely by patches of shimmering white. There are white, pink, red, green, and black varieties.

Location:

The legendary dwarven city of Kalaza held a remarkable dreamstone mine, but it was buried and sealed after the coming of the Red Rot, and the dreamstones lie somewhere in the darkness with the dead of Kalaza. Today, the best dreamstone mine is on Teras Isle, but other islands on both sides of Elanith have since proven to hold deposits of dreamstone as well.

Lore:

An old dwarven legend recounts that, although Lorminstra had agreed to return certain souls into life, her clerics were unable to find the dead bodies and aid them fast enough to enact her will, and that Lorminstra turned to Eonak for aid. Eonak crafted a huge bell of mithril with a clapper of black dreamstone, and Lorminstra cast her will into it. Whenever an adventurer dies, the mithril bell will ring, and those who are properly sensitive may learn of the death by sensing its toll. Clerics and savants are most noted for this ability, but it has been noted and recorded in people from every walk of life, most of whom have chosen an adventuring life themselves.

Dreamstones are remarkably suited to enhancing latent telepathy and telepathic spellcasting, although they convey a direct verbal component much more strongly than other kinds of telepathy.

The communication-enhancing properties of dreamstone were first discovered by the dwarves, but they were first fully utilized by the elves when the dwarves came to assist in the Undead War after the destruction of Vaalor's forces at the Battle of ShadowGuard. Dreamstone meant that battles could be coordinated by elves wearing dreamstone amulets rather than through drums and banners, and the incredible enhancement in communication was directly responsible for halting the advance of Despana's forces.

After the destruction of Maelshyve, Illistim mages discovered a way to imprint the peculiar properties of dreamstone upon a small globe of rock crystal, creating the first common crystal amulet. For over ten thousand years, only the elves controlled the secret of crafting a communication amulet that was not composed of pure dreamstone, and they guarded the secret closely. When attempting a quite different experiment, however, a dwarven mage of the Gulroten Clan stumbled across a viable method for imprinting the dreamstone essence not only upon crystal, but upon a variety of other gems as well, and he spread the word until the dominance of the elves in this realm was no more.

Among the elves, a gift of a dreamstone means, "I wish I understood you better." If a husband gives a dreamstone to his wife, or a wife to her husband, then it is both an admission of marital trouble and an expression of the desire to overcome that trouble. The one exception is a black dreamstone, which is an expression of despair and of a separation that will only cease in death.


Emerald
Value: Extremely to extraordinarily rare.
Appearance:

The rich, intense hue of a high-quality emerald has captivated interest through the ages. Tiny inclusions and fissures often mar emeralds, preventing them from growing to any large size, but dwarven miners delight in finding the rare specimen that escapes the hazards of its creation. Some fine specimens display a beautiful six-rayed star.

While most emeralds show a faint blue or yellow tinge, rather than displaying a pure green, there is a variant of emerald called the dragonfire emerald. As light falls through a properly-cut dragonfire emerald, some of its facets display an intense reddish-gold color, while the others are the same deep, piney shade that one would expect of a proper emerald. Dragonfire emeralds are particularly beautiful when displayed in golden imflass settings, and they are particularly prized by the Ardenai. Since emeralds can be particularly fragile, there is actually a specific jewelers' cut called the "emerald cut", which reduces mechanical strain with its beveled edges while allowing the intense hue to be properly seen through the rectangular or square upper surface.

Location:

N/A

Lore:

Emeralds are often used in stone-tending as charms against poisons, particularly snakebite. They can also be used to avert panic and seizures. In Aldora, emeralds are avoided as jewelry stones for precisely this reason -- in a place where stone-tenders are so common, routinely wearing an emerald suggests that the gem was prescribed to help combat an ailing will.

When used as a tool in divination, emeralds are used to predict the best or worst outcome of a possible situation or decision. This should not be mistaken for emeralds having any power in divination, for diviners often utilize many things as tools that possess no innate magical link to divination. Magically, emeralds possess power over the element of earth, raising mountains or stilling quakes when correctly bespelled.

In the county of Torre, devotees of Aeia hold that the emerald is her sacred stone -- a gem as beautiful as the gardens she creates. Outside Torre, others associate the emerald with Imaera, many saying that the jewel was created by Eonak to remind the dwarves of the beauty of his wife's kingdom. However, Luukosian followers also prize emeralds, particularly those with a strong golden-yellow tint to their green color. To complicate matters of symbolism further, lore holds that Koar's eyes are an intense green hue, and a legendarily rare type of emerald -- the Eye-of-Koar emerald -- bears his name.

Emerald was the heraldic jewel of Ta'Ashrim. As well as granting the right for an emerald to be displayed in a traditional elven crest, Ashrim monarchs often gave beautiful pieces of jewelry wrought from pearls and emeralds to those elves who pleased them particularly well.

Legend holds that some amount of Lorminstra's power was placed into the Griffin Sword. A similar legend holds that Luukos also placed some of his power into a physical object -- a perfect, golden-green emerald as large as a giantman's fist, which, instead of a star, was marked with a line of light like the line on a cat's-eye moonstone -- a serpent's-eye emerald. The stone was mentioned briefly in the memoirs of a guard to Southern Sentinel Marcus Calquinor -- the guard claimed that he saw a vision of a snake-eyed priest bearing the emerald in the hour of Marcus's assassination. The precise whereabouts of the stone, if it truly does exist, are unknown.

 



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