flash rod

Flash rods are a category of relic which are found relatively regularly throughout the Sora. Scholars posit that they are a defensive weapon or security device based on the nonlethality of the devices, though many who have used them contend they can be used quite readily for offensive purposes. They have been uncovered on a number of realms in all regions of the Sora, typically during excavations for constructing new buildings in large settlements. This has led most scholars to theorize that whatever long-gone civilization or civilizations left them behind saw them as innocuous enough to keep in their own cities.  

Physical Description

As with all relics, flash rods vary greatly in appearance. However, they all fall into a general design. They are most frequently a thick rod or bar constructed from orinth, between 30 cm to 150 cm in length and 5 cm to 10 cm in diameter. At one or both ends sit a translucent bulb which has the texture of glass but is very difficult to damage. A viscous, blue-gray liquid sits inside the bulb which, if exposed to the air, quickly evaporates, leaving behind a sticky residue. The rod has a switch, button, or other trigger somewhere on it, most commonly at the center of the rod, though also frequently found at the base of one-bulbed rods. The rod often has some sort of ornamentation either engraved, etched, or filigreed onto it. This ornamentation often glows when the rod is activated, giving rise to the most common theory that the ornamentation is runes of some sort rather than merely decorative.  


Flash rods create bursts of light so extremely bright that even a brief viewers can cause blindness and disorientation. The burst begins roughly one second after the user triggers the rod, emanating from the bulb(s) on the end, lasting for only a few fractions of a second. Anyone in the area who is looking in the general direction of the flash rod when it is activated are invariably blinded by the brightness of the light, though the briefness of the exposure usually prevents it from being permanent. This blindness typically lasts for between a minute and ten minutes, though those with a high tolerance to light may recover quicker. Even those who view the light peripherally, or those looking directly at it who manage to close their eyes, can be affected, though rarely as strongly, usually experiencing disorienting spots in their vision for several minutes.   The effective range of a flash rod is highly variable. Most are fairly short range for such a bright light, usually extending no more than 15 m, though a few have been discovered which are powerful enough to reach up to 100 m. Viewers beyond the effective range typically see a strong (though not uncomfortable) light, comparable to daylight at noon.   Most flash rods which have been found have a limited number of uses, though there is no reliable way to determine how long they will last. It is rare to get more than a dozen uses out of any specific flash rod. However, there are at least three known cases of flash rods which have seen well over a dozen uses, with one numbering close to a hundred uses. As with most relics, the method to recharge a flash rod (if such a thing is even possible) is unknown.  

Method of Action

Unlike many other relics, the mechanism by which flash rods operate is at least somewhat understood. The liquid inside the bulb breaks down to release pure elemental light. That is where the understanding ends, however. The catalyst which causes the breakdown, the composition and manufacture of the liquid, the method by which the reaction is halted, and the determining factors for the range are all open questions. However, the fact that scholars have deciphered at least some portion of its functionality has caused great hope that the rest of its secrets are not far behind.

Cover image: by Denis Khusainov


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