Corvan Quills Item in Erisdaire | World Anvil

Corvan Quills

It bothers me how such a marvelous piece of work would normally be considered as the highest possible quality, yet the masses immediately distrust those who are seen to use a black quill as their instrument of writing. Not even a Corvan quill, any black feather... as though the ones from swans come from innocent purity instead of ill-tempered pests.
Humans are very strange.
— Thelun Arkady, Journal Excerpt
  These simple quill pens are unusual in two aspects, their color and durability, and notable for one more detail: despite having writing tips which last for years of earnest writing, few Imperials seek to own one. Corvan quills are made from an unusually large and black feather, both shaft and vanes, and are reputed to feel slightly heavy in the hand of the writer. The exact origins of the feathers used for the pen is unknown, which only drives the air of mystery around them. However, it is the origin of the crafters which causes people to avoid these pens: the tieflings of the Kiroa region.

Tieflings have a reputation for bringing misfortune, and they have never really attempted to fight against this perception. As a general case concerning their culture, Imperials believe them to be only slightly-removed from devils and other unsavory origins. Other cultures also have an uneasy relationship, as the tieflings are not exactly eager to pursue an improvement of their reputation. So it has come to be these particular quill pens are called "Devils' Pens" within Imperial lands, and their position of dominance on Erisdaire means the name has stuck more than their original one.


The tale begins long ago, when the tieflings managed to secure their freedom and dispersed into the frontiers of Erisdaire. Among them were a few who wanted to understand the circumstances and details of their origin, left unknown for many generations, and said to be rooted in forbidden arcane magic. Undaunted by this, a sect of tieflings organized specifically to pursue the truth as far as they could, calling themselves the Corvan Order. Originally they worked with hollow reeds, or sharpened pieces of stone to hold ink. Once they discovered the 'feather pens' used by other cultures, the Corvan Order decided to use what knowledge they had to improve upon the process.

Thus it was many years before members of the Order were noticed to carry jet-black feather pens with them in wooden carrying cases, treating those pens as one might their most precious belongings. At that time, inquiries into the origins were met with suspicion, deflection, or simply a lack of answer. The Corvan Order did not enjoy a pleasant reputation, even among tieflings, due to their pursuit of arcane knowledge. Legends say when they finally allowed an outsider to the Order to witness the process from start to finish, the outsider used one of the new quills to open their veins onto the desert sands so no others would know what they discovered. Skeptics have scoffed, noting this is not an uncommon fate for people in tales told about tieflings... but as the Corvan Order does not dispute the story, even skeptics admit there must be some grain of truth to the legend.

The Corvan Order still endures into the current age of the world, though their number is not extensive when compared to the Myrisic Sages or Imperial Arcanists. Nevertheless, the tradition of creating the Corvan quill continues, with the Order sometimes allowing others to own one. Most of these cases, the quills are bestowed as gifts after an individual offers significant aid to the Order. Other times, the quills are given to an individual studying arcane magic, as a symbol of respect for their achievements. Accepting one openly is seen as a bad omen, however, so it is uncertain exactly how many quills actually exist at a given moment.

Manufacturing process

No, you can't just cut the tip and be done... that is, you can. But it'll never write well, and you'll only get frustrated.
— Carrack Arsame, Corvan scribe
  Even ordinary quill pens take a time to process for writing, and Corvan quills have a few extra steps to their creation in order to create something which lasts. The feathers have the vanes trimmed away enough to give the writer enough to grip comfortably, then the points are thrust down into heated sand and left for a period of time. After this, a small knife is used to trim the end of the feather to a tip and then flattened to allow ink to gather at the tip. Once this has been done, the opposite end of the feather's shaft is clipped open with the same knife, which will allow ink to be drawn up into the feather when dipped into the inkwell.

Corvan quills have one more step which has been said to be the source of its durability. Once the pen has been prepared, a thin wooden stick is inserted into the tip and the shaft is coated with a formula of unknown composition. This causes the writing tip to harden to a point it can as easily write on raw hides as it can paper or vellum. Rumors say it can even inscribe characters into stone, but this is not seriously recommended by anyone owning a Corvan quill. Most Corvan quills are sold in conjunction with a small penknife made from fine steel, to handle the hardened tips better.
Hot sand


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