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Authors: Brent Weeks

Tags: #Fantasy

The Burning White (160 page)

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L
UXIN AND
L
IFESPAN

General Effects.
At this point, it has been established beyond question that drafting shortens the lives of those who do it, and almost all scholars accept that this is not because those who draft are intrinsically more fragile, but because of the act of drafting itself. The reasons for this are unknown, but the more luxin drafted, the shorter the drafter’s life. It is believed that the body will heal some amount of the damage drafting does. Thus, a drafter who drafts minimally daily will be able to draft far more cumulatively than one who attempts to draft a great deal in a short period of time. The Chromeria encourages drafters to honor Orholam’s gift of our lives by drafting in moderation, except in emergencies.

Various Colors and Lifespan.
It’s been noted that, even as drafters of the various colors tend to evince particular personality traits, so too do those who draft certain colors seem to live longer. Only one color has been proven to the Chromeria’s satisfaction to never be safe to use: chi always kills its practitioners, almost always within five to ten years. As Life is one of Orholam’s Seven Great Gifts and being party to the wanton destruction thereof cannot be within Orholam’s will, the Magisterium successfully enjoined the Chromeria to cease teaching chi-drafting three hundred forty-two years ago.

As for the rest, debate rages on the exact causal connections, but it has been noted that superviolet drafters tend to break the halo earlier, while at the opposite end of the spectrum, paryl drafters may live to a full natural span. Lightsplitting paryl drafters may, indeed, live much longer than most munds. However, this last is uncertain, given their overall small numbers and the fact that many of those recorded as such belonged to the Order of the Broken Eye, where names were often handed down to give the illusion of immortality to enhance the Order’s reputation and intimidate opponents.

ON THE OLD GODS

Sub-red
: Anat, goddess of wrath. Those who worshipped her are said to have had rituals that involved infant sacrifice. Also known as the Lady of the Desert, the Fiery Mistress. Her centers of worship were Tyrea, southernmost Paria, and southern Ilyta.

Red
: Dagnu, god of gluttony. He was worshipped in eastern Atash.

Orange
: Molokh, god of greed. Once worshipped in western Atash.

Yellow
: Belphegor, god of sloth. Primarily worshipped in northern Atash and southern Blood Forest before Lucidonius’s coming.

Green
: Atirat, goddess of lust. Her center of worship was primarily in western Ruthgar and most of Blood Forest.

Blue
: Mot, god of envy. His center of worship was in eastern Ruthgar, northeastern Paria, and Abornea.

Superviolet
: Ferrilux, god of pride. His center of worship was in southern Paria and northern Ilyta.

ON TECHNOLOGY AND WEAPONS

The Seven Satrapies are currently experiencing an age of great leaps in understanding. The peace since the Prisms’ War and the following suppression of piracy has allowed the flow of goods and ideas freely through the satrapies. Affordable, high-quality iron and steel are available everywhere, leading to high-quality weapons, durable wagon wheels, and everything in between. Though traditional forms of weapons like Atashian bich’hwa or Parian parry-sticks continue, now they are rarely made of horn or hardened wood. Luxin is often used for improvised weapons, but most luxins tend to break down after long exposure to light, and the scarcity of yellow drafters who can make solid yellows (which don’t break down in light) means that metal weapons predominate among mundane armies.

The greatest leaps are occurring in the improvement of firearms. In most cases, each musket is the product of a different smith. This means each man must be able to fix his own firearm and that pieces must be crafted individually. A faulty hammer or flashpan can’t be swapped out for a new one, but must be detached and reworked into appropriate shape. Some large-scale productions with hundreds of apprentice smiths have tried to tackle this problem in Rath by making parts as nearly identical as possible, but the resulting matchlocks tend to be low quality, trading accuracy and durability for consistency and simple repair. Elsewhere, the smiths of Ilyta have gone the other direction, making the highest-quality custom muskets in the world. Recently, they’ve pioneered a form they call the flintlock. Instead of affixing a burning slow match to ignite powder in the flashpan and thence into the breech of the rifle, they’ve affixed a flint that scrapes a frizzen to throw sparks directly into the breech. This approach means a musket or a pistol is always ready to fire, without a soldier having to first light a slow match. Keeping it from widespread adoption is the high rate of misfires—if the flint doesn’t scrape the frizzen correctly or throw sparks perfectly, the firearm doesn’t fire.

Thus far, the combination of luxin with firearms has been largely unsuccessful. The casting of perfectly round yellow luxin musket balls is possible, but the small number of superchromatic yellow drafters able to make solid yellow luxin creates a bottleneck in production. Blue luxin musket balls often shatter from the force of the black powder explosion. An exploding shell made by filling a yellow luxin ball with red luxin (which would ignite explosively from the shattering yellow when the ball hit a target) was once demonstrated to the Nuqaba, but the exact balance of making the yellow thick enough to not explode inside the musket but thin enough to shatter when it hit its target is so difficult that several smiths have died trying to replicate it, probably barring this technique from wide adoption.

Other experiments are doubtless being carried out all over the Seven Satrapies, and once high-quality, consistent, and somewhat accurate firearms are introduced, the ways of war will change forever. As it stands currently, a trained archer can shoot farther, far more quickly, and more accurately.

ON CHROMERIA PROHIBITIONS

Tattoos.
From a time when factionalism ran high, before all the noble houses had intermarried so much, before single families existed with a kaleidoscope of skin tones within single generations.

At the time, for a number of reasons, the Parians had been more isolated and were more uniformly dark-skinned, which gave numerous drafting advantages that some of them interpreted as being expressions of Orholam’s favor on them as the people who had united under Lucidonius first.

Colored lenses could be lost or unavailable when needed, and were initially prohibitively expensive, so lighter-skinned drafters had taken to tattooing blocks of their own colors on their skin so they’d always have a source available. But color tattoos didn’t work nearly as well for darker-skinned drafters, which included most of the Parians, who were the politically dominant force at the time.

Rather than lose their advantages, several of the most powerful families united to argue that wights were hiding incarnitive magic behind tattoos. They successfully rammed through a prohibition on tattoos, conveniently ignoring that naturally very dark skin could hide incarnitive magic and luxin-packing just as well.

Incarnitive luxin.
A term for luxin when it is incorporated directly into one’s body. This is forbidden by the Chromeria as debasing or defiling Orholam’s work (the human body itself) with man’s work and is seen as a slippery slope to trying to fully remake the body and become immortal. In certain cases, the luxiats have turned a blind eye to more minor or prosthetic uses.

Pets

Dogs
: Being highly susceptible to will-casting, dogs are not allowed on the Jaspers. Ships carrying dogs that so much as dock without permission face a small fine, while disembarking with a dog may result in seizure of the ship and striping for shipowner and the dog’s owner and death for the dog.

Cats
: As they are necessary to control the populations of mice and rats, cats are allowed on the Jaspers. That they’re highly resistant to will-casting also plays a part. The Beneficent Hiram D., the renowned will-caster of Blood Forest, testified on the matter before the Magisterial High Court, saying, ‘Cats shrug off all attempts at either being mastered or cajoled to do what they don’t wish to do, either amused or profoundly insulted that a human would even make the attempt. Before investigating this matter on your lords’ instigation, I wasn’t afraid of cats. Now I am.’

Other
: Other animals are allowed, prohibited, or subject to taxation in accordance with how domitable they are. Horses, for example, must display a registered brand, pass yearly inspection, and pay a duty, making them a luxury item beyond even the already heavy expenses of keeping them fed and stabled on an island.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One more small, silly scene just for those of you who can’t stop until the very last page:
www.brentweeks.com/shawarma-scene
—Brent

THE END

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