First came the merchant's guards, then the rest of his entourage of sycophants. They crowded around him, as the fat little bastard sat there looking pleased as he could be. But it was what he sat on that caught my eye. At first, I wasn't sure what I was looking at. It looked like a bubbling, rolling mass of metal that had formed into a cushion for his highness' arse even as it bubbled along the ground.
Bloody sorcery. You can't trust that. You can't trust a man who won't walk on his own to feet.
Appearance and Operation
Quicksilver Spheres are vehicles of semi-liquid metal, made to transport the few who can afford the extraordinary expense required to create one. In its dormant state, the Spheres resemble a perfectly solid sphere of shining metal marred only by the protrusion of a sharp crystal sticking out at the top. While the metal is always the same, the exact coloration and dimensions of the crystal vary slightly, though the highest quality resonance crystals come in easily recognizable amber-golden hues.
To activate the Sphere, the rider touches the crystal with another one made to match it, and in response the metal becomes liquid, falling to the ground with the crystal at its center. While active, the crystal glows softly and the liquid metal bubbles and shifts ever so slightly in tune with the crystals resonance. The liquid metal reflects light brilliantly, with the slightest illumination causing a rainbow sheen to dance across the surface.
Not all Spheres are made out of the same base metal. Particularly ostentatious and wealthy patrons commission spheres that gleam like bronze, silver or gold in place of the liquid iron.
The metal yields slightly to the touch and sitting on it is strangely comfortable, as the material remains reasonably fluid and provides a cushion for the rider to sit. A sphere is only good for a single rider (in a pinch, maybe two). To ride a Sphere, the operator sits in front of the crystal and places one hand on the control-crystal, at which point they can mentally command the liquid metal to move. The Quicksilver Sphere bubbles and seeps across terrain at a comfortable pace, able to traverse inclines and slopes as long as they are not too acute.
The Spheres are not the fastest, the most practical or even the most reasonable way to travel but few things are as effective displays of wealth as being carried across town on a shimmering, flowing bed of liquid metal.
The sphere is powered by an enchanted crystal, set at the center of the sphere. The better the Crystal, the more energy it will generate and the faster the liquid will respond to the commands of its user. Chipped, flawed or damaged crystals introduce a noticeable delay between issued commands and movement of the vehicle. Should it ever be destroyed or sufficiently damaged, the Sphere will fail and the metal disperse then begin to solidify. Passengers are advised to extricate themselves from the pool before it does so.
Tales persist of crystals marred with more subtle flaws or even sabotage, causing the Sphere to come alive with malice. The poor soul in the story is either swallowed whole by his luxury or ripped part as it spirals beyond control. Every theurg who makes them have assured their patrons that these are nothing but the tales of common, superstitious folk and they have nothing to worry about.
Nothing at all.