Also called the Bitterstone, Xazuran is a mineral which is found dissolved in some lakes and streams which flow from mountains, usually those which are fed by hot springs. When it is in its solid form, it is a deep xazure coloured crystal. It is used to make dye, and is also highly poisonous.
Description. Xazuran is invisible when dissolved in a stream or lake - its natural state. When in its solid form it is a clear, deep xazure blue coloured crystal. The mineral is hard but dissolves easily, and when it is dissolved it gives of a slight odour of bile. It also tastes very bitter - hence its common name - although it is not reccommended that one test this out oneself, as it is poisonous.
Territory. Xazuran is found dissolved in the water of some streams with thermal origins, for example the Bitter Creek near Holt in the Manthrian province of Santharia. Some places at the base of the Norong'sorno in the province of Truban have some hot-water springs in which Xazuran can be found, and the area called Bitterstone in the Heath of Jernais, in the shadow of the volcanic Mount Hèckra, is so named because of a lake which has particularly high concentrations of the mineral.
Usage. Xazuran is most commonly used in dyeing. When dried into crystal form and then remixed with seawater, it makes a pure, bright xazure dye.
The mineral is extracted from its source by taking pans of water from the stream or lake and letting the water evaporate. The mineral does not seem to be able to follow the water, and is left as a bright blue residue in the bottom of the pan. The crystals thus left are then dissolved in a much smaller amount of heated water, until no more can be dissolved. This is the base for the dye, and when combined with one of a variety of mordants, can be used to colour cloth. With other ingredients and various other mordants it can be used as part of a range of colours, from greens to purples.
Dangers. When it is dissolved in a stream or pool, Xazuran merely gives the water a bitter taste, or in higher concentrations (as found, for example, in a stagnant pool) it causes a painful burning in the stomach and nausea for a a few days, depending on the amount of it in the water. When concentrated however, whether in liquid or solid form, Xazuran is quite poisonous.
Whether accidental or otherwise, swallowing a concentrated form is hardly ever fatal, as it is most usually regurgitated quickly after it has been drunk, but can result in a long sickness. The first part of the illness is a screaming sickness, characterised by an intense burning, stabbing pain in the stomach, which causes the unfortunate soul to scream for Queprur’s mercy. If enough was drunk, the pain can be in other areas of the body, most usually the various orifices, including eyes. The screaming sickness is usually gotten over within a month, but other effects are permanent. These usually always include a smaller stomach, which leads to the poisoned person always looking emaciated and thin, and can sometimes include bulging eyeballs, the inability to toilet, and yellowy-orange coloured skin.
If a person does not swallow the mineral, but handles it without high quality gloves on, they will notice a burning, itching sensation of the skin, most usually leading to a painful, puffy itching rash. If rubbed into the eyes, it can cause blindness.
Sadly these illnesses are quite common, especially among children and travellers, as the mineral is such a pretty colour. Those who work with Xazuran are commonly thought to have an enhanced protection against the mineral's adverse effects, but their "luck" with avoiding these ill effects is actually due to high quality protective gear coupled with a thorough knowledge of the dangers of Xazuran and how to avoid them.
History. It is not well-known when or how this mineral was originally discovered, but it is probable that it was discovered in much the same way in each place. Streams which contain this mineral are often very bitter tasting. When water is taken from a stream and is found to be bitter, it is discarded. If the water was poured away on to rock, it might form a small pool and evaporate, leaving the blue Xazuran crystals behind. Also, in summer, pools containing high levels of Xazuran often have crusts of the mineral clinging to the rock or soil above the water line, where some of the water has evaporated.
Xazuran the mineral was originally called simply "Bitterstone". The name Xazuran was first applied to it after the advent of the Archmage Xarl Bluestride, who was well known to prefer robes coloured with the dye produced from this mineral. The name comes from the word "azura" which is the ancient Centouraurian word for bright blue, plus "Xarl", the first name of the famous mage.
Information provided by Grunok the Exile