K'Dasj

Easily the most precious resource of all Shandar, K'dasj is a wondrous material capable of giving the gift of spell casting to attuned people, but causing also a severe addiction. To people who are not predisposed to the substance, continous consumption of K'dasj will lead to death.  

Physical Characteristics

K'dasj has a very distinctive look regardless of its state, a faint pink glowing substance streaked by purple stains that gave the material fatal side effect its nickname, the Purple Death. When in its solid state, the streaks are unmoving, usually twisting inside and around the rock-like substance.

Leaving solid K'dasj at direct contact with sunlight for a few hours will melt it, resulting in a relatively low viscosity liquid, still glowing, with the purple streaks now moving freely, never stopping even when the liquid remains undisturbed.  

Discovery and Origins

The origins of K'dasj are uncertain and a matter of debate between Shandar's scholars. Discovered by a mining venture led by Thyrnel Gadenbrash in 359AB, the material was found after Thyrnel pushed the miners to dig deeper than usual, frustrated by not being able to find any mithril vein as they hoped to. Depth seems to factor into the presence of raw K'dasj, as all the veins subsequent discovered were in deep excavations, but other than that scholars have no clue in figuring out what might have caused the formation of the material. Some think that it's some sort of altered mithirl, as the two materials are often found in close proximity, others propose that K'dasj has something to do with the Unending Planes, and it was created in a way not too dissimilar from the creation of warped lands.  

Magic and Addiction

Nowadays, for the most part, scholar's debates on the origin of K'dasj are seen as a waste of time by most people, which prefer to concentrate on the practical uses of the material's liquid form.   True Magic is very rare in Shandar, but the discovery of K'dasj allowed many more people access to spell casting. It was found not long after the first discovery of the material, that if one ingests K'dasj in its liquid form they might develop the ability to connect to the Unending Planes to draw energy to perform feats of magic. The price for such power, however, is a severe addiction that requires the person to consume K'dasj daily or risk painful withdrawal effects that eventually cause death. So far noone that has stopped consuming K'dasj has been known to survive.   Being gifted however does not mean that one can suddenly become a powerful magic user. K'dasj merely opens the channel to the Unending Planes, then it's up to the person how to use the energy. For most people study and dedication to the craft are still required to be able to properly cast arcane spells, although some others seem to have a much more instinctive predisposition towards the subject and are able to instinctively create magic effects, albeit still having to slowly unlock more potential with time and training.  

Purple Death

Not everyone has the gift however, and people lacking the predisposition to K'dasj will encounter a terrible fate if they keep consuming it. K'dasj is in fact lethal for roughly 70% of the population, the so called non gifted, and the addiction that follows the first ingestion will make sure that very few that take the drug will survive. Death by K'dasj use is described as incredibly painful, sapping the victim's energy until they eventually wither and die, usually within one to two months after the first dose.   The moniker Purple Death comes from the fact that as the disease spreads through the body, the person's features slowly change: dark purple streaks, very much like the ones on the material itself, appear on the skin, wrapping the whole body, slowly shifting and swirling like some sort of very dense fluid. The person is also affected by insatiable hunger. Consuming any amount of food will not satiate the victim. Instead they progressively lose weight, until they become very much like skin-wrapped skeletons.   Usually K'dasj victims are too weak to be dangerous, however it is known of some that resorted to cannibalism when they could not procure any other kind of food, eating the recently deceased or even attacking and killing random people.  

Trade and Contraband

Legal trade of K'dasj is regulated differently depending on the local government laws. Generally normal people stay away from the substance, the fear of Purple Death being stronger than any desire to use magic. Poverty however makes many take extreme measures in order to survive, and many of the more underprivileged try their luck with K'dasj hoping to have the gift and change their lives. For this reason there is a high demand for the substance from people that are now in need of constant supply of K'dasj. The governments usually eagerly jump on the profit making machine of K'dasj extraction and trade, but there are instances where the trade has been declared outright illegal.   Regardless of the legality of K'dasj trade, black markets and contraband have always been a reality that governments had to deal with. Addicted people too poor to be able to afford legally traded K'dasj, turn to the criminal organizations that gladly provide the substance for other means of payment: work, favors, or any other kind of shady deeds they might require.   With the years, trade of K'dasj has become the backbone of entire governments economies, making enterprising people very rich, but also causing wars for control over contested K'dasj rich territories, uprisings in nations where K'dasj was banned, and more assassinations that any other form of material wealth has ever caused in history.  

K'dasj and Religions

Divine spell casting, in contrast with the arcane type, has always been possible for the faithful chosen by their Shiars, so K'dasj was always treated more or less with neutrality by churces and other religious institutions, albeit usually with some sort of sense of superiority, sometimes pity, towards people that had to resort to K'dasj in order to use magic.   Recently however a religious sect called Church of the Pure Souls started to gain traction in the Rhylian Empire among the non gifted people, usually of higher social status, that look with disdain at the effects of K'dasj over people and the power gained by a select few in control of its trade. A splinter group of the Church of The Resplendent Mother, The Pure Souls declared the use and trade of K'dasj a heresy as only the very few Chosen of the Mother are deemed worthy of the gift of magic.   Although still relatively small, the Pure Souls are gaining more and more followers, even some amongst the ruling class, creating every day more tension in the government of the Empire.
Type
Ore/Mineral
Common State
Solid in nature, liquid when consumed
I remember the first time I saw raw K'dasj, as the miners rushed me to the cave where they found the vein, their voices excited for the discovery. The tunnel was dark, the only light coming from the torch I held above my head, a kind concession of the foreman, as most of the miners didn't really need light to see, and the only areas illuminated by the torches where the ones where people had to actually see in colors, like the offices or the main digging caves.
As we passed a bend in the tunnel and made our way into the cave, a sudden bright pink glow assailed my eyes, forcing me to close them for a few moments. Opening them again I realized I didn't really need my torch anymore, as I gazed at a breathtaking scene. Somewhat similar to the northern lights that illuminate the night skies, thousands of delicate veins of K'dasj painted the cave dome of pink and purple.
It was beautiful, and at the time I was sure we had found a gift from the Shiars.
I was wrong.
— From the diary of Thyrnel Gadenbrash, first discoverer of K'dasj, found dead by Purple Death a few weeks later


Cover image: Dark Hills by Nele Diel

Comments

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Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
7 Dec, 2020 00:58

Wow, this is a really interesting concept for a material. I love that it has such a low melting point that it will melt in sunlight, and your description of what it looks like sounds beautiful. The Purple Death would definitely put me off trying my luck at K'dasj though. I don't think magic is worth the risk!

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
Sage darquill
Diego Malatesta
7 Dec, 2020 10:08

Thanks Emy! :D   Yeah, I had to create a very nasty side effect since this is going to be used as a D&D setting, otherwise can you imagine all the players suddenly becoming magic users for free? :P

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
7 Dec, 2020 12:04

Hahaha... I'm sure some will still try! :D

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
Sage darquill
Diego Malatesta
7 Dec, 2020 13:47

They can... at their own risk >:)

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