Chronicles of Calelira: Entry Three
(March 12, 2019)
Crystallum is a good topic to start on for explaining Calelira magic because it's so damn versatile and important to everything from spellcasting to healing and medicine to allowing sapience in the first place. It's a warm, humming, glowing blue substance that comes in two forms: a powder (loose crystallum) and crystalline (clustered crystallum). Both have different properties and different use cases based on these properties.
Clustered crystallum is how crystallum is often found naturally. Like the name suggests, they're radiant, angular blue crystals that grow three or four to a spot. They're easy to chip (but not to shatter) and shine bright, especially at grazing angles. Their most notable physical feature is their low, pulsing hum, especially when agitated or moved.
Loose crystallum is crystallum that's been ground into a fine powder, almost like large grains of sand. A pile of the stuff tingles in the paws. It still glows the fine blue of clustered crystallum, but not as brightly, nor does it retain its hum.
Magically, clustered and loose crystallum have very different properties and uses, specifically in the way they can retain spell and spirit energy. With clustered crystallum, the crystal structure creates something of a feedback loop that prevents the energy of a cast spell or a loose sapient spirit from escaping effectively. This means one can enchant an amulet or a pocketwatch with a chunk of clustered crystallum embedded in it and gain the effects of that spell passively. Naturally, it won't be as strong as if a mage were actively casting ice resistance on you, but it's something.
Similarly, if a loose spirit were forced into clustered crystallum, it'd be trapped in there until forced out by another spell. The Kuras were rather fond of this; those convicted of petty crimes often had their spirits separated from their bodies by force and stored in crystallum; soul gems are noticeably more loud in their humming thanks to the energy activity. It's still possible to get these spirits out of their crystal prisons today, though finding bodies for them may prove a challenge.
Loose crystallum just doesn't have the structure to keep something held in it indefinitely. Best it can do is amplify a spell's energy, but even that's tenuous. Loose crystallum's main purposes are for allowing sapience by way of a spirit binding to a body and healing and regeneration.
You might be wondering how loose crystallum can allow a spirit to bind to a body when it doesn't have the strength of clustered crystallum, and that's because sapience doesn't require a death grip on the spirit. A sapient's body has a small amount of loose crystallum in its bloodstream, and this allows the spirit to at least get its bearings and take over the sapient. This internal crystallum supply is what mages use to amplify and power their spells.
This is also why spirit slip is a thing; it only barely works in the first place, and the crystallum is weakened over time by the harsh chemical composition of blood. When the crystallum is too degraded for a spirit to hold onto, it slips from the body and death occurs, the same way as if the spirit is forced out of the body. (If a sufficient amount of blood is spilled, this causes the crystallum to lower in concentration, also causing spirit slip. Spirits will also naturally exit a body too damaged to function.)
(Before you ask, no one has successfully made a dead body viable for a spirit again by replenishing its internal crystallum supply.)
Loose crystallum really shines as a way to heal injuries. You might mistake some of that sparkling mineral water as snake oil, but when it comes to healing, it has no parallel. Applying it to minor wounds and burns relieves pain and heals completely within minutes. Larger wounds will feel better and heal a bit faster too. It can't regenerate limbs or heal broken bones or anything really insane, but other than that, it's a Rejuvenation mage and clumsy explorer's best friend.
Finally, crystallum has a way of making plants and fruits grow in conditions they very well shouldn't. The Kuras used crystallum lamps for their entire underground food supply, and the areas surrounding manmade crystallum pools in Etaewin's capital city are thick with vines and soft grass, and yes, very healthy fruit trees as well. This is despite it being in the middle of desert with fairly frequent sandstorms.
There are finer points to crystallum's uses, but they're better suited for later Chronicles entries. To summarize, clustered crystallum is particularly ideal for keeping spirits out of your hair and for sticking into pendants for passive spell effects, and loose crystallum is what makes sapience possible and promotes growth and healing among plants and those with a pulse.
Your humble narrator,