Aether-gold

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Aether-Khemists collecting aether-gold.

Aether-gold, or Breath of Grungni, is a lighter-than-air metal that can be found throughout the skies of every Mortal Realm.[1a]

In its natural state, aether-gold is less dense than air and floats above the cloudline as a caustic and sparkling gas or vapour. Through alchemical reaction, it can be transmuted into liquid fuel, or solid bars that resemble mundane gold, but stronger, brighter, and more malleable.[3a][4b][5a]

Origin

While the true nature and origin of aether-gold are ultimately unknown[Note1], many legends of the Age of Myth say that the exertions Grungni experienced during his Grand Works were such that the metal-dust shed by his hammer mingled with his breath to form air-borne clouds of aether-gold. Others say that the creation of aether-gold was Grungni’s folly and the reason he would ultimately leave the Pantheon of Order.[6a][1a]

Hazard

Raw aether-gold is extremely caustic, highly dangerous, almost radioactive, and very hazardous to one's health. In order to use aether-gold, the Kharadron Overlords must keep the substance contained, hence their use of sealed buoyancy endrins and their heavily armoured environment suits.[7a][4b]

Even a slight aether-gold exposure to skin can cause chemical burns and a terrible maddening paranoia. Soulbounds are noted to be immune to aether-gold induced madness.[8a]

Manufacturing Cycle

The tenuous quality of aether-gold make it both very difficult to locate and susceptible to being swept vast distances across the skies by magical storms and other natural phenomena.[3a]

Aether-Khemists are able to grade the quality of aether-gold by smell whilst also using a variety of technology to locate the Breath of Grungni. For their part, Aetheric Navigators not only map the aether-gold currents but also the hazards that guard them.[1c][3b]

Staking a Claim

To claim an aether-gold deposit, the Kharadron drive great struts of rune-marked iron into nearby land to form a latticed tower. The runic symbols on the structure glow with a faint trace of aethermantic magic to form a unique marker that combines the personal sigil of the prospector, often the sky-fleet's Admiral, and the seal of his home port. This beacon, which emits a strong geomantic signature that can be tracked by Aether-Khemists, ensures that a sky-port's claim upon an aetherstream is sacrosanct.[10a]

Even with such beacons, sky-ports rapidly cordon off any newly found vein with flotillas of heavily armed Ironclads and Frigates.[3a]

Extraction

As the perimeter is secured by heavily armed skyvessels, specialised dredger-vessels - notably colossal Aetherhulks, Cloud-dredgers and Sky-Trawlers - begin gathering up the aether-gold.[3a][3c] The Kharadron's pragmatism is such however that even sky-fleets entirely composed of warships can operate limited mining operations.[1a]

To mine aether-gold, the Kharadron Overlords use many contractions, including:[4c]

Under the direction of Aether-Khemists, the aether-gold is siphoned through hoses into expandable tanks in the aft hold. Meanwhile, Logisticators observe the collection process and calculate the worth of the cargo.[4d][3d]

Transport

Once extracted, the raw aether-gold is stored within the holds of skyvessels or, in larger operations, within titanic hulks known as Krontankers. Countless convoys transport the mined material in a steady stream away from the mining zone, heading back to the sky-port from which the sky-fleets originated. The voyage back is also highly perilous, for even within the armour-plated holds of skyvessels the siren call of the substance attracts sky creatures.[1a]

An Aether-gold Refinery under attack.

Refinement

For more information see: Aether-gold Refinery

If the aetherstream is significant enough, floating Aether-gold Refineries held aloft by endrin-arrays are assembled to accelerate the process of extraction and purification.[3a]

These aether-gold refineries are used to condense, distil and refine raw aether-gold. Monitored by metallurgists from the Endrineers Guild and Aether-Khemists Guild, the transmutation process begins with the liquefaction of gaseous aether-gold. The substance is then poured into moulds to form aether-gold ingots.[4d][4e][4f]

Experimentation

The Kharadron Overlords perform all manner of scientific experiments upon the Breath of Grungni, mixing it with other minerals and subjecting it to a variety of conditions, temperatures and chemicals in order to catalogue the unusual effects that aether-gold can produce.[3a]

Uses

While the Kharadron craft and trade all manner of materials, even their most mundane products are, in one way or another, reliant upon the transformative power of processed aether-gold.[3a]

Technology

For more information see: Aethercraft
  • Power: Aether-gold powers the sky-ports and the skyvessels as well as holding them aloft.[1a]
  • Weapons: The gas can be compressed and fired as beams of energy, a lethal cloud or even to supercharge melee weapons.[1b]
Kharadron beer.

Brewery

The Kharadron Overlords regulate their brewing process using aether-powered pumps and seals. Their brewery-stations also use aether-gold to fuel their churning stills. Brewed in large sealed vats, the beer usually picks up hints of aether-gold during the fermentation process, giving many Kharadron beers nigh magical properties and a particular golden hue.[9a][3a]

The magical properties of kharadron beverage vary according to the recipe used by the Brewsmith, Brewmaster and Brewmaster-General. These Kharadrons spend years perfecting the recipe of their beer, carefully tasting, testing and rebalancing the flavours to create unique mixtures.[9a]

Following is a list of known properties that kharadron beers can take due to exposure to aether-gold:

  • Lighting a fire in the belly of the drinker, making them more proficient at fighting.[9a]
  • Fortifying the body and spirit of the drinker.[9a]
  • Drawing out the Jade magic in all living things to infuse ciders with healing properties. Drinking such a beer accelerates one's natural healing.[9a]

Beliefs

Many consider aether-gold magical, although not the Kharadron Overlords who mine it relentlessly and use it to power their technology and fuel their society itself. Despite this, kharadron legends still talk of how Grungni created the substance and even that it may have been why he left the Pantheon.[1a]

A map of an aetherstream.

Aetherstreams

For more information see: Aetherstreams

Aetherstreams are rich veins of Aether-gold sought after by the fleets of the Kharadron. They inevitably draw the attention of sky creatures and of many rivals of the Kharadron Overlords. The Disciples of Tzeentch and the Grotbag Scuttlers both prize the magical qualities of aether-gold, though neither of them has mastered the processes of refining and weaponising it.[3a]

Quotes

Aether-gold – the breath of Grungni, some call it. Rich seams run through these clouds. Through the whole realm, really. Without it, our ships wouldn’t fly. Our cities would fall from the skies. Our people – our society – would crumble, as that of our ancestors did. It’s everything.

~ Captain Brondt to Owain Volker.[2]

Notes

  • Note1: Even though one source mentions the provenance of aether-gold[6a], there is a clear intention to leave the origin of aether-gold mysterious and open to interpretation. This is mostly shown by the non-mention of its origin in the two Kharadron battletomes, even if both have entire sections dedicated to the substance.[1a][3a]

Sources