Corpse Amber

Ah, now... it's not as though the dead are bothered by my harvesting the amber. And just look at what it can do!
- Marilan Antraxes, alchemist
  Most everyone avoids the Towers of the Damned for fear of contracting the terrible laughing pins, but arcanists of a certain moral bent note that excretions produced by a magical disease might well have magical properties. Those bold and curious enough chip bits off of the towers for purposes of magical experimentation.

Properties

Physical Characteristics

Freshly mined chunks look like semi-translucent rocks in colors ranging from yellow to brown. It is fairly hard, but can be scratched with a knife, requiring only simple tools to extract it from a tower. Chunks can be polished to lustrous smoothness, and the resulting gems almost seem to glow. Like natural amber, it can contain inclusions -- the most grisly being bits of the victims of the laughing pins, expelled as the disease dissolved them from within in their final moments.

Properties

Corpse amber warms quickly in the hand.   If heated sufficiently, it first becomes malleable and then melts into a viscous fluid. Those who work with it say that it smells oddly of cloves and ozone as it warms.   If charged with magic in very particular ways, it develops glittering inclusions that then settle, resulting in a layer that looks like flake gold. This form is often found in magical amulets and other arcane jewelry.

Geology & Geography

Corpse amber occurs nowhere except in amber towers that result from an outbreak of the laughing pins after a red blizzard. Several arcanists have attempted to artificially create new material from a piece they mined, but these experiments have thus far been unsuccessful so far as anyone knows. In at least one case, the arcanist succeeded only in contracting the amber creep himself.

Origin & Source

It is created by the bodies of those who have been infected with the laughing pins.

History & Usage

Everyday use

None. Most are horrified that it is used by anyone for anything.

Manufacturing & Products

Most frequently used as magic-enhancing stones or an oil with multiple arcane uses, it has also been employed in a few creative applications. Perhaps the most notable of these is the Amber Sword carried by the notorious villain Eltane.

Hazards

It is feared by the general populace as a potential vector for the laughing pins, though this has not been conclusively proven.

Distribution

Trade & Market

It takes a particular type to want to use (or be seen using) corpse amber in any form. Arcanists wishing to give a dark or menacing impression and hedonistic young nobles are the most likely candidates to sport corpse amber items.   It is nevertheless very pricey, as there simply aren't that many people wiling to chip bits off amber towers. It cannot be found in markets and must be purchased privately, even when it is not outright illegal to sell.

Law & Regulation

In some areas, such as Vessun, it is against the law to trade in corpse amber or items made with it.

Value
Very expensive.
Rarity
Very rare. Only mined in small quantities by a few bold or desperate people.
Odor
None until heated, at which point it smells of cloves and summer storms.
Taste
The wizard known only as Tallgrim was brave enough to taste the material and recorded that it reminded her of vanilla and rotten meat.
Color
Shades of yellow, orange, and brown.
Common State
Solid

Comments

Please Login in order to comment!
11 Jul, 2018 11:34

Iiiiiiiiii like it!   I would like to see what some actual uses of it are! Like what that sword does and why that's note-worthy (other then the sheer morbidity of :) ) or is it just the most morbid jewelry ever? Which is also cool, but might be worth pointing out in that case!   But yeah. thumbs up!

11 Jul, 2018 12:18

Thanks for the feedback! Yeah, I'm making all of this up as I go along, so details are still sparse. But I promise as soon as I figure out the answers to your questions, I'll share. But hey, I'm theoretically writing up the villain Eltane tomorrow, so maybe I'll come up with something. XD

11 Jul, 2018 12:23

Hopefully, the questions help you figure out what details to fill out and where :)   "I replaced my heart with corpse-amber, as I did my love for this land with hatred. Also, it gave me super-powers"   Good luck with both prompts! :)

15 Jul, 2018 19:28

Congrats on your feature in World Anvil's Summer Camp Roundup for Week 2!