Silkstone is a light blue mineral with a mundane exterior but a downright magical interior. When treated with a special solution, including salts, distillations of alcohol, and various aceeds (see Alchemy), the inside becomes soft and silky. It can then be used for a very special cloth which has gained a reputation for being a powerful Earth reagent. The complex and secretive art of crafting Silkstone into cloth is known as "Silkstone-Spinning". Both the stone and the cloth are produced mainly by the Santharian Zirghurim Dwarves in the Zirkumire Mountains of the Ximax area. Silkstone is also used as a powerful Earth reagent.
Description. Silkstone is a rough, glittering stone which comes in nodule form. It has a sky-blue exterior and a shining white interior. Though its exterior is hard, rough, and generally only used for poor-quality jewelry, the white interior is much more useful. When refined, the tough, porous interior becomes light and threadlike. When mixed with a solution containing various salts and solutions found almost exclusively in the Zirkumire Mountain area, the material turns light and silky. As of the time of this writing, the Zirghurim dwarves have only shared the most basic ingredients, not their secret components. Though the cloth is light and soft, it is also tough and durable. There are two different grades of the cloth:
This grade is the finest, softest, cloth. It is regarded to be a very prestigious form of clothing by both human Earth mages and the dwarves of Ximax. This is the most easily dyeable cloth. Whatever dye is applied to it becomes a stronger, richer, colour. It is more expensive than Rock Toccon.
The second grade of Silkstone cloth is a soft light cloth. Though not as fine as Rock Silk, it is still fit for mages and lesser nobles. Its hefty expense prevents many from acquiring even the lesser form.
Earth Mages commonly wear Silkstone garments as both a form of portable reagent and a source of great prestige. When a mage wearing the garments casts a spell where the power of Earth must be increased, the caster must only concentrate on a suitable image - for example, a growing boulder, and the Silkstone will cause the spell's power to be increased by several degrees. Silkstone can be used as a fairly potent reagent for any Earth spell, but is particularly well-suited to transformation and transmutation spells.
Method of Production.
There are several steps to Silkstone production. After mining and separation of
interior/exterior, Silkstone is carted off to a special processing area where it
will be treated with a mixture of salt, liquids, and catalysts. The ingredients
vary, depending on the grade of cloth to be produced. We do know that for Rock
Silk, the abdomens of giant cobs (spiders)
are required. Both forms of the cloth require a certain mixture of
ash-salt. The processing step is the most expensive
and important, but we can give no further details.
After processing, the material will be light and fluffy. This substance must be spun, quite like the spinning process for sawis wool, to produce fine thread. It is then sewn together. Rock Silk must be stitched with small, tight stitches, while Rock Toccon allows a slightly looser stitch.
Areas of Production. Silkstone is generally found in the Zirkumire Mountains. It is harvested by the Zirghurim clan of dwarves that live there, though they do not keep the majority of it. They have found far greater profit in shipping the finished cloth to Ximaxian spinstresses and reliable weavers for use by the mages there. It is considered to be vastly superior to moss garments and rockwool. Ximaxian Earth mages are the most common purchasers of this cloth, though many dwarven mages also appreciate robes fashioned of Silkstone cloth. In any form, it is popular with Ximaxians because of its usefulness as a reagent.
History of the Industry. As the dwarves tell it, Silkstone was discovered by a dwarven couple residing in the depfts Mount Hlahujit (Flame-wombed) in the Magic Sickle Range. A dwarven miner, Troz DraTrom, brought home an oddly-coloured ore nodule one day from the north face of his assigned tunnel. Thinking it might be a strange sort of geode, he split it apart on his workbench only to discover the pearly interior in beautiful contrast to the sky-blue outside. In his haste to show his wife Mazra the novelty, he came running into her bathing chamber, slipped, and dropped it into her tub. Combined with the various minerals and solutions she had been soaking in, the interior became light and 'fluffy'.
Mazra, a seamstress for the clan, was curious enough to experiment with the substance. Folklore says she first attempted to make a 'cozy' for her cha-kettle, but was so taken with the silky feel of the spun 'thread' that she then made a vest for herself. Upon her wearing it into a private audience with the Gornegron of the clan, and his subsequent announcement to the Hlahujit cavern, the activity on the north face of the mine increased dramatically. Dwarven alchemists worked with Mazra to attempt to replicate the mixture of her bath which had had such a marvelous effect upon the stone, and in fact improved it, making the resulting fibers even stronger and more flexible. Silkstone was put into production shortly thereafter.
It is unclear exactly who discovered that both the raw stone and the spun cloth enhanced Earth spells, but it was undoubtedly originally a dwarven mage, for it was only after this discovery that Rock Silk and Rock Toccon became so incredibly popular aboveground. Other Thergerim clans may or may not know the secret of production; it is certain that no other race does.
Lore and Legend. Cloth made from Silkstone is considered to be a gift from the Gods, specifically Urtengor, or as the dwarves would have it, Trum-Baroll. It is considered to be the finest of all clothes for an Earth wizard, and so is highly prized by mages of the Earth Tower in Ximax.
The exterior, despite having little intrinsic value, is an attractive colour and is used for inexpensive jewelry. It is believed by the common folk to have virtues of its own, related to the element of Earth, and so sells well to (human) farmwives and labourers. Pieces of Silkstone - even the exterior - are far more expensive outside the Ximaxian peninsula, where a great deal of superstition and exaggerated reverence has sprung up around its abilities.
There is an expression in the Magic Sickle area: "Slick as Rock Silk" - used to refer to someone who has a quick tongue or a way to get out of difficult situations. It is usually said admiringly.