Created by Gnorian inventor Stujuck Bilge in the aftermath of the Year of Darkness, Bilge Powder is a plant fertilizer that enriches the target soil with essential nutrients required for the healthy growth of crops. The powder is sprinkled on the desired soil. The applier must then till the soil, and it will sink in and become consumed by the plant’s roots. The invention of Bilge Powder was influential because it was the first man-made fertilizer that could be cheaply produced - it also made the plants grow more rapidly, allowing for more to be harvested in one season. Crops fed with the powder are generally more tasteful, as well.
Description. Bilge Powder is a light brown plant fertilizer that enriches the target soil with essential nutrients required for the healthy growth of crops. It is a very fine powder, and when mixed with water will give it a milky, pale blue hue. The powder is typically contained in brown cloth sacks weighing 1-pygge each, and transported by horse-drawn wagon.
Method of Production.
The production of Bilge Powder is a very complex and dangerous endeavour, and
entails a series of alchemical reactions between solid and liquid elements;
first, the producer must combine a powdery substance (called ammun by Stujuck)
with a liquid named nitrios - a strange substance that burns to the touch - in a
glass phial. A violent reaction will take place, and the result will be a
handful of very fine white powder.
Then one must similarly combine chips of a special brown mineral called nomite, with another burning liquid called sirius. Another, similar powder is produced, but somewhat coarser and grainier, and it is brown. The two powders are mixed in a saucer, or a bowl, and a small amount of water is added. Then, it is left standing for several hours. At the end of this period, it is officially Bilge Powder and safe to feed plants.
Ammun and nomite can typically be purchased in any marketplace or apothecary; nitrios and sirius must be created manually, as they cannot be transported or contained safely. Sirius is created by crushing a Xazuran stone into a fine powder, then applying orm fluid onto the powder. Nitrios is created similarly, but with the orm fluid applied to Malthanune in powdered form.
It is important to note that the two aforementioned burning substances are extremely dangerous and are only to be handled by professionals. Some may be tempted to create their own fertilizer because of the low cost required, but it is nearly impossible to produce without a mastery of alchemy and can result in severe injury.
Areas of Production. Bilge Powder is, naturally, mainly produced by individual gnomes based in or around the city of Gnorath. However, there are also several guilds and groups that are dedicated to the production of the fertilizer. Individually made Bilge Powder is preferred, though, because of the care that is put in to the product; guild-produced Bilge Powder is usually made with less diligence, and the focus is not on quality, but on quantity.
Currently, no formal trade agreements are formed around this product, but it is a coveted commodity of farmers in most Santharian provinces, especially Truban. It is usually traded for luxury items such as art pieces, and furniture like tables and chairs. The powder is typically contained in 1-pygge sacks, and transported by horse-drawn wagon.
Usage. Bilge Powder is used to promote the healthy and speedier growth of plants, namely, crops harvested for food. To apply the powder to a plant, one simply places an amount in a container of sorts - for example, a bowl – and then sprinkles it on the soil at the desired location. It will sink into the soil and be absorbed by the plant’s roots. Alternatively, the fertilizer can also be mixed with water and applied in the same manner.
The fine white powder provides the plant with what is written in Stujuck's journal as "the three primary components of a plant's nutrition; similar to the meats and vegetables in our diet," while the brown powder provides a known element called magnus, which he says "triggers the subject's innate ability to produce its own food through the use of water and sunlight."
It is recommended that Bilge Powder be used only in moderation, for if the soil is subjected to the compound in rapid succession it will begin to develop a resistance against it, and the fertilizer will become useless. For best effect, apply Bilge Powder at the time of planting, and near the time of harvesting, of the desired crop; this will ensure that the soil will not have the opportunity to build up a resistance, but will be provided with the nutrients needed.
History. Bilge Powder was first produced by a Gnorian inventor by the name of Stujuck Bilge in the aftermath of the terrible Year of Darkness, a year in which plant growth was nearly impossible in most parts of the continent due to the vast amounts of snow and extremely low temperatures. As such, agriculture suffered, and very little crops were produced, which resulted in a devastating famine; had it not been for the food stockpiled several years previously (which was conducted by the Arch-Alchemist of Gnorath at the time, Gnor the Unifier), many more gnomes would have succumbed to extreme hunger. Its invention was a godsend to the Erpheronian population, and was rapidly introduced to the rest of the continent through trade.
Over the years, despite meticulous documentation by its creator, the product has been left relatively untouched; the original formula is still effective and in heavy use today. Although, modern alchemists have been debating over the introduction of iron into the compound – as of yet, though, it has been refused, and traditional organic fertilizers, such as dung, can be used to compensate for the lack of the mineral.
Somewhere around 1420 a.S., there were a number of incidents reported of the fertilizer spontaneously exploding, killing or severely harming the user. The reports were later discounted as a hoax by a group of Daran alchemists in an attempt to try and blemish the powder’s reputation in order to promote their own fertilizer formula; a slightly modified version of Bilge Powder itself, dyed to a blue-white colour with increased amounts of sirius. Ironically, these changes caused the several batches that had managed to sell to catch flame if handled roughly.
Lore and Legend. Due to its somewhat arcane nature to the commoner, some consider Bilge Powder to be a miracle sent from Jeyriall, Goddess of the Harvest. Some individuals ritually bathe in a solution of Bilge Powder, water and animal blood, considering it to be an act of purification. The animal blood is said to resemble mortality, the water symbolizing life’s necessities, and the powder symbolizing the divine and extraordinary.
Some incidents have been reported of a reaction between the three substances, causing blotches and itchy boils on the skin. Despite health issues and general public distaste, these individuals uphold their ideals and a small cult is beginning to form in the city of Gnorath. The name and hierarchy is unknown, but the number of followers is reported to be several dozen and counting.
There are also those on the other side of the debate, arguing that Bilge Powder is an "unnatural" invention that has interfered with natural life. They believe that the power to augment a living being with man-made substances is unholy and only bad will come of it in the end. The debate between the two beliefs is mostly superstitious and religious, although there are some scholars who support one side or the other.
Due to the belief that Bilge Powder is unholy, rumors have spread throughout the kingdom of Santharia, and has caused some of the public to warily handle the product. Some farmers, while envious of the luck of their peers for being in possession of the fertilizer, are also afraid of it because of its supposedly supernatural effects. By many arguing against the product, it is considered one of the "Black Inventions" that were created by agents of Coór, the God of Chaos, and that mortal beings interrupting with the natural flow of nature will eventually bring upon the doom of the world; the End of Days, or the Armageddon.