Friday, March 9, 2012

Spectral Brine (Wermspittle)

Dangerous Work
Working with the White Powder, and the sorts of things it leaves behind is a highly dangerous operation. Volatile chemicals and delicate processes involving heating and cooling and re-heating under precise conditions are just the start, after one has acquired the raw matter to work with, such as what an apprentice might recover from a Wet Spot or Sallow Stain. Or even a Loathsome Mass. Though that is often far too dangerous an undertaking for the average apprentice to attempt, no matter how badly they are beaten or cursed or compelled by spells. However such things are gathered, the work of the distiller is fraught with peril and frustration as they must process the raw materials into those compounds that their masters find useful and salable.

Sinfully Wasteful
Not all the salts and weird, tarry waste-products produced in the distillation of Black Liquors and other compounds are suited to the specialized needs of the Corruption Trade, nor the gonne-smiths and powder-grinders who work with Achromic Powder and Salt-Shot. Some of the residues left-over from the various processes are too dangerous to just dump, though some do that very thing, often to their short-lived regret. It is not a very regulated industry. No one bothers about 'best practices,' or wastes overmuch time cleaning-up behind themselves--there are plenty of empty places out in the Abandoned Sections and the Burned Over District. Often the clandestine distillers move from place to place, leaving behind worse things than Wet Spots or Loathsome Masses in their wake.

Hundreds of new compounds that might revolutionize industry have been discarded and poured down the drain in the pursuit of the terrible White Powder and the known, reliable derivatives that those who control the Corruption Trade demand. There is no interest in producing anything other than the White Powder or the Black Liquors. Anyone caught experimenting with their master's product gets disappeared. 

Spectral Brine
One of the things left behind by these operations is the so-called Spectral Brine. Blackly luminous in the way that most salt-water is not, Spectral Brine is the by-product of reducing the accumulated ectoplasmic debris caught within the cheap tin traps set-out around the distilleries and labs of those involved in the Corruption Trade. The creation of White Powder arouses restless spirits, draws poltergeists and attracts ectovores like Ordrang. No one  knows why. Those who work with these materials must take precautionary measures, or else find themselves caught up in a whole mess of trouble. Very few exorcists or karcists work for the Corruption Trade. Those that do are more than a little suspect and often not only deeply troubled, but of dubious merit or ability. So far the stamped-tin traps introduced into the markets by refugees from Surlonna and Dalbriz have been a godsend to the distillers.

But, as with all such things and doubly in Wermspittle, the tin traps that capture and accumulate the stray bits of ectoplasm that roll off of the fluids involved in the distillation process and keep the lesser spirits and minor dead out of the way also leave the distillers with a surfeit of contaminated ectoplasm to deal with, ectoplasmic filth that rivals the nasty stuff surrounding an Ungezeifer. No one is sure who started the practice, but the distillers drain their traps into the dregs of their rendering baths and the scraped-off green grit left behind from the way the fluids degrade and corrode copper and other metals. The rancid ectoplasmic matter is left to mingle and mix with the alchemical waste fluids and debris. Once the mixture fills a barrel or other container, it is sealed and rolled out to a dumping ground, such as one of the middens or cess-pits some landlords have established in order to avoid paying the so-called  'dung tax' imposed by the Sewer Militia.

Sometimes the barrels and tanks of strange chemicals sink quietly to the bottom of the muck and mire. More often they rupture, and vile, black slicks of Spectral Brine leak to the surface, giving impetus and pseudo-life to a host of quivering, jellid horrors, not the least of which are the Gobbling Grouts, Faecomentals and Noctisludge...and possibly dozens if not hundreds of other, lesser-known things that have been given some vestige of life and autonomy and allowed to go off to prey upon the refugees and Unfortunates in the Shanty Camps all because of the waste products of the Corruption Trade colliding with the cess-pits of greedy and irresponsible land lords. Sometimes people really are their own worst enemy...

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