Stardust

Stardust is a reflective, neutrally colored, iridescent powder, typically as fine as gold dust or confectioner's sugar. It is also the Philisophic Mercury, the pure and physical manifestation of flux and transformation.

Most often obtained by the ritual to disenchant a magic item, stardust can be used as the sole material component of any ritual or spell, in large enough quantities and is required in some of the most powerful. It has also been had (though few know it) by sapient sacrifice*, from the deepest mines** and hottest furnaces, refined from the heartwood of the eldest Banyan Trees, as gifts from various Astral entities, and from the stars themselves. The earliest possesors of pure stardust, sages say, were the first star pact warlocks, supposedly making some great deal to obtain a sample and techniques to create more. What those early warlocks bargained away is uknown.

Stardust is extremely valuable, both by volume and mass. Typically carried in glass stoppers, large quantities are typically clumped (most often by mixing with mercury or molten gold, settling, and repurifying) into grains to make it easier to handle. It is very nearly the perfect carrier of great wealth - unforgeable, fungible, and universally useful to the wealthy, powerful, or wise.

Philosophers speculate that stardust is present in every living creature, particularly sapiants and especially in the personally powerful. They cite the increased difficulty (and price, often in stardust itself) of raising those mighty from the dead, hence the expression "worth his dust" to praise someone of great prowess (or sarcastically to belittle someone as profoundly arrogant).

*Thankfully, this technique is lost to the world at large.
**Delving deep enough to find the unmistakable Stardust ore (though it sometimes appears in meteorites) inevitably attracts unusual subterranean attention. The rare Dwarf clans who do so intentionally mine heavily armed and sap their tunnels to collapse if need be.

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