X is for…eliXir

Okay, okay I know it’s cheating by not having a word which actually begins with X itself but there are only a total of seven words starting with X in my dictionary (I just checked) and as I have written nothing in my WIP about xylophones, xenon, x-rays or xylem (though I could easily have done so as xylem pertains to plants and roots) you’ve ended up with elixir. Also I wonder how many others doing this challenge will cop out and have a word beginning with say ex rather than x itself?

Anyway, EXcuses over with, lets move on. Why elixir?

Well, as I have already blogged in my c post about crystonal, the magic compound used by the elflings to prolong their lives, it made sense to EXplain some of the research I did, particularly for Book 2 which delves into what is actually in the compound to give them a prolonged life.

At first I just imagined a compound made up of crushed gem stones. This idea stemming from the fact that such crystals are believed to contain healing powers if used in the correct way. Now, whether one subscribes to this way of thinking is immaterial. Does rose quartz attract love? Amethyst induce calm? Does citrine bring wealth? And if you place certain crystals on certain chakras can you heal certain ailments? I don’t know. I collect them because they are pretty and I love the colours.

However none of these stones are rumoured to give longevity of life (shockingly!) and so I got to wondering, Okay what is it in crystonal which causes this phenomenon? (Look at me talking about this compound as if there is scientific fact behind it! Ha ha!)

It was really only when I got to the end of Book 1 and into Book 2 I thought seriously about it. This was because the crystonal, after hundreds of thousands of years of never been misused, (because elflings are just not like that, they are innocent!), they begin to explore its powerful properties in a few different ways. I cannot say how or why though because you know by now I’m trying not to do plot spoilers.

So anyway my brain got to thinking: There has to be an ingredient, a natural ingredient, in it which prolongs life. So I simply Googled ‘elixir of life’ (what on earth did writers do before the internet? They actually would have to pre-know stuff!)

And this is what  found:

“The ancient Chinese believed that ingesting long-lasting precious substances such as jadecinnabar or hematite would confer some of that longevity on the person who consumed them”  

I zoned in on cinnabar as I’d never heard of it and it turns out it’s the common ore of mercury. Well who knew? (Probably loads of people actually, like chemists and geologists, but I’m neither of those so I didn’t know.)

So there I had a very tenuous link. An ancient myth linked to some science. Perfect. And so it was cinnabar became the ‘secret’ ingredient for crystonal and I continued researching into it.

Two problems though. First: Mercury is poisonous. Many of these substances, far from contributing to longevity, were actively toxic. Jiajing Emperor in the Ming Dynasty died from ingesting a lethal dosage of mercury in the supposed “Elixir of Life” conjured by alchemists”

Hmmm, well yes but to humans, not elflings! Ha, phew. Easily explained away.

Not so easy to explain is secondly: cinnabar is not found in Britain as we are not a volcanic island. Well not any more, and not when ‘Prophecy of Innocence’ is set. So how did I navigate this problem? Well I didn’t.

I have to be allowed some artistic licence!

Tomorrow’s Y post continues in the same vein as today’s. I do hope you can join me for what will be the penultimate post in this A-Z blog trip through my WIP.

Thanks for reading and sticking with me until near the end. If you have done so from the start then you certainly have longevity 😉




Filed under Designing, General Rambliings, Plot Development, Writing

6 responses to “X is for…eliXir

  1. That’s cool the way you worked the cinnabar into the elves world. I have a few crystals, and am slowly learning what they are used for. LIke you, I just think they are pretty! 🙂

  2. I continue to be impressed by the amount of research you have put into your story! Verisimilitude is so important to the telling of any tale and it really seems like you’re taking that part of it seriously. (Despite the unfortunate lack of x-rayed xylophones.)

  3. Pingback: Y is for… Youth | Writeaway

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