"Burning Stones" are ordinary looking stones with magical properties, found only in the vicinity of volcanos. When hit strongly enough they release heat, depending on size, type of the stone and the force it was hit with. They are useful for travellers, especially in regions were other burning material is rare.
Appearance. Burning Stones are coming mainly in two qualities, the light, multicoloured version - these stones seem to have sharp edges all over their entire surface - and the very heavy, deep black, sleek variety. Both are indistinguishable from normal not magical stones and only magically inclined persons can tell them apart.
Both types release their magic, turning it into heat, if hit to a certain basic degree. The harder the hit is, the more heat is released at one time and the quicker the stored magic is exhausted.
The differences between the two stone types are as follows:
The Light Stones (Magather Stones)
The light version has colours from an off white over a light yealm beige or umarillon over elken to the darker browns, orange , cinna and red browns in all variations up to nearly fyrite pink brown variety. Looking like they are lather or spume frozen in stone, they are called sometimes Magather Stones in contrary to the normal non-magical lather or froth stones. The sizes vary from very tiny ones up to rocks of two peds in diameter and more. Sometimes they cover a whole flank of a volcano, but because it is very difficult to distinguish them from normal stones, it is not really known, how many exist.
The Magather Stones need only little force to release the heat. So transport can sometimes be a problem. If such a stone slips through your hands and falls to the ground, it will probably go off at once. Though it is not always the case, in general stones with a lighter colour will go off more easily and are storing not much magic, while darker stones need a stronger hit to initiate and last longer, if one is comparing stones of the same size.
The Black Stones (Drake Eggs)
The heavy black stones are quite rare, and though some big, round ones which can have up to a ped in diameter are found in the nearer vicinity of a volcano, most are found in these special underground tunnels in volcanos, called lava tubes. Though they are quite rare, nearly all of them have magical properties quite contrary to the fluffy variety and on top, the magic imprisoned there is much more concentrated.
Black stones are also called "Drake Eggs", because of their sometimes rounded form, though the form is more spherical than oval. They have by no means an overall sleek surface, but are edgy and rough at parts, though the main impression is that of a shimmering black jewel. Some are not oval or spherical at all, but it seems they were parts of a bigger "Egg". Most times they are storing less magic than the round forms.
Black Stones are the most precious of the Burning Stones. As already mentioned, they are quite rare. They need - compared to the Magather Stones - quite a hard hit to be initiated, but then release a bigger amount of heat over a much longer time.
Compared with a Magather Stone of the darkest kind and the same size and if hit to release about the same amount of heat in an hour a Drake Egg will last about thousand times longer than a Magather Stone.
An important feature of the Burning Stones is their ability to initiate the release of a stone through the presence of an already ignited "Burning Stone". So if only small stones are available, it is possible to initiate one and just putting the others around it, they will give off their heat with the speed as the first initiated one does. However, smaller stones of the same weight as a bigger stone don‘t contain as much magic as the single stone.
These stones are burning without a flame, the Magather start to lighten up, depending on how much heat they release at a time. They change colour in an unpredictable way, glowing, and it seems as if they get slightly bigger. The Drake Eggs however show no visible effect, just the billowing of the heated air is seen.
Once burnt out, the stones are looking just like normal ones.
Territory. Burning Stones are only found in the vicinity of volcanos. In Santharia there are only three places known, where they can be found. These are the volcanos Hèckra and Argor in Northern Santharia and the Norong‘Sorno in Southern Santharia.
While near the two northern volcanos mainly the Magather Stones can be found today, and due to agriculture and a thriving land around only on the slopes of the volcanos, the southern Norong‘Sorno and the adjacent Lands of Pain are the place, where nearly all Burning Stones which are sold stem from.
Probably the above is true for all other volcanos found on Caelereth, though the author can‘t affirm this only for the Celeste Mountains. However, it is said, that the stones found there are not of the high quality of those of the higher Norong‘Sorno.
Usages. "Burning Stones" are traditionally only located by clerics of Foiros or their apprentices. Often a "Gifted One" of that god is discovered because of his ability to find these stones. However, a Ximaxian Fire or Xeuá Mage is probably able to do it as well, but he/she better avoids to be seen while doing it, for it is an old privilege of the cleric.
The Magather Stones are quite common in the areas around the volcanoes, especially the Norong‘Sorno. Great amounts are also shipped to Aeruillin, especially to Shan‘Zarathan and Shan‘Thai. However, because they need to be transported very carefully and accidents where a whole batch goes off are not uncommon, the transport cost surpass soon their value. Drake Eggs however are selling well over the whole of Santharia and to the neighbouring shores, as far as to the Isles of Quios, Denilou and Doranthakar. They are especially welcome in northern lands where the temperatures are low and heating throughout the year is necessary and not few are shipped to the Kanapan Peninsula.
Next to the salt the burning stone represent the main income source for the southern Shendar tribe, who oregularly hire a priest of the temples in Strata or Thalambath to locate for them the stones in the Lands of Pain.
Both varieties are used manifoldly:
They are the only "burning material" where wood and other combustible stuff are not available or expensive.
But more often small, cheap ones are taken to set fire on other fuel like wood. If hit hard, they release their heat in a short time, but burn hot and are able to initiate every piece of wood. Especially travellers cherish it who are forced to camp outside on rainy days. There such a slightly bigger stone helps to dry out the wet wood, so that when it is finished, the wood burns more easily.
Especially important and valued is their use for smithies who are manufacturing high quality blades and the glass producing gnomes. No fire of wood or other material is able to burn so hot as black Drake Eggs, especially the spherical ones, which have to be hit hard. This is preferable done with the sharp edge of a knife out of steel. The smithies are those who are buying the biggest Drake Eggs, for they are the only ones who need their properties and are able to pay for it.
Heating Large Buildings
Due to their flameless burning, Burning Stone are regarded as safer as wood and preferred for heating the Great Library of Santhala as other big buildings out of wood as well. The Santharian King residing in New-Santhala receives every autumn a Drake Egg of a size big enough to heat his throne room during the whole winter.
At last, Magather Stones are used as decoration. Mostly the white, otherwise quite useless variety due to its low quality is hit slightly and emits an unpredictable colourful light. Some people, mostly young couples, even go to such lengths as to interpret the colour of the light which is emitted as being of relevance for their life or their relation, especially when lit on a special day. I can only warn from that abuse of the stones.
History/Origin. Both kinds of stones have their origin in volcanoes. Those found outside have probably formed during an explosion of a volcano an represent ejected fluid material which was still hot when it reached the ground around the volcano.
Clerics of Foiros say, as is the common belief as well, that the magic of Foiros' fire itself is trapped in the stones while they are forming from the fluid lava to their present form, that only as long as they are hot when hitting the ground the magic is conserved.
It is said that whole stone fields on the slopes of volcanoes, formed by lava flowing down a side, have magical properties, but that it is impossible to "harvest" these stones, because any attempt to break pieces loose will result in an immediate release of the heat.
Ximaxian Mages however have their own interpretation. They claim that the fire element within the cár'áll is concentrated in the stones while forming and the earth elements gather in dense formation around it, so that the fire energy can break through when the stone is cracked.
Rumours go, that somewhere in the Manthrian province experiments are going on to "refuel" those stones with magical energy to imprison the fire cár'áll again in the inner part of the stones to an even higher concentration than before. But that would stand in contradiction to the old rights of Foiros priests to gather and sell the Burning Stones, so not much attention should be payed towards this.
Information provided by Talia Sturmwind