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In my world, there is a material called amaranthine. This material is effectively energy condensed into an unstable crystalline form (via a series of processes that aren't relevant to this question).

Amaranthine in its raw form is incredibly dangerous:

  • Detonates if the surface of a sample below 1,700° C is cracked
  • Produces a toxic gas if a heated crystal is exposed to certain catalysts (such as water)
  • Suppresses magic nearby; the larger the quantity, the larger the area
  • Drains energy from living organisms nearby; the larger the quantity, the larger the area and the more potent the effect

Amaranthine, however, has amazing properties when successfully worked that make it one of the most coveted materials:

  • Able to produce any number of colors through proper additives to the forge (jewelry)
  • Practically impervious to harm (armor, walls, doors, safes, etc.)
  • Capable of penetrating almost any defense (weapons)
  • Resistant to all forms of natural or magical energy discharges such as a fireball spell or lightning

Mining and working amaranthine is, of course, no simple feat. Only elves can resist the magic-suppressing and energy-draining effects of the raw material (but they can't use magic in the first place, so it's a moot point) and, for historical reasons, there aren't a lot of elves around, let alone ones able and willing to work with the material. Thus, states/societies/countries that possess the personnel to both mine and forge amaranthine are fiercely protective of that resource and do everything they can to conceal mines, smithies, and trade routes.

Converting raw amaranthine into a worked product is hazardous, so procedure is paramount. Early in the process, a sample must be bathed in molten iron for several hours and allowed to cool and solidify. This process helps stabilize the amaranthine sample, but also renders the iron unusable (it gets "poisoned" by the amaranthine), producing 450 kg of slag for every 1 kg of workable amaranthine. This stabilized amaranthine isn't as prone to detonation as its raw form, but it does happen, and the threat doesn't disappear entirely until the forging process is complete.

This question is specifically aimed at the design of a smithy that must combine secrecy with protection against the various threats of the raw materials.

How should an aspiring warlord, established state, or entrepreneurial society design a secret smithy capable of safely working with amaranthine?

Additional notes:

  • Amaranthine in its pre-crystalline form interferes with electricity. Thus, modern means of detection (satellites, etc.) are not a concern for secrecy.
  • Worked iron can be used to contain the magic-suppressing and energy-draining effects of raw amaranthine, but doing so causes the iron to heat. Too much contained material can cause the iron to melt.
  • I have considered both above- and underground designs for a smithy, but cannot settle on which would be more effective, efficient, and safe, so I leave it to you to argue which is better.
  • The process of converting raw material into a final product neutralizes the dangers identified above.
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    $\begingroup$ If it is impervious to harm, how can it be dangerous if cracked? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Jan 16 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ The magic suppressing aspect could be useful, but less so if all you have is "rabbit out of a hat" type magic. The utility would depend on what sort of uses magic has in your world. $\endgroup$ – Willk Jan 16 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch Dangerous as a raw material, impervious to harm as a worked product. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 16 at 19:56
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    $\begingroup$ How does the material know if it is raw or not? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Jan 16 at 19:58
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch The forging/refining process stabilizes it so that it doesn't kill you when you use it. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 16 at 19:59
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With your description, you don't need a proper smithy to work the amaranthine. Throwing it into a giant pot of solid iron would be enough if you want to be super lazy.

This is because you mentioned that, amaranthine can be treated by being bathed in motel iron for several hours. and that iron can be used to surpress the draining effects but this causes it to melt.

Throwing it into a pot of iron means that the Amaranthine will melt the iron itself and once it has been properly converted, will no longer have the ability to do so. So throw it into some pots that can be buried underground or in the back, come back in a few hours and your already set.

The only other issue would be transportation, but bathing it in oil or an inert gas (Nitrogen) would be a very simply way to prevent it from releasing toxic gas. The entire magic/life drain can be prevented by just using elves and having multiple people nearby to offset the life drain, before putting it in the iron pot.

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  • $\begingroup$ 1) The energy-drain effect is equally applied to all nearby, so there's no offsetting it. 2) It takes a lot of raw amaranthine to cause the iron to melt. 3) You still need to work the material, so a smithy is, in fact, needed. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 17 at 5:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre Can you explain how the material needs to be worked? Right now, I'm picturing that its like the Japanese forging process where you are folding the material to help remove impurities and align the crystals. $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee Jan 17 at 5:29
  • $\begingroup$ The material needs to be shaped. Can't just chuck a lump of amaranthine into a vat of molten iron and pull out a ring. Really, any typical way of working with metal works with heated amaranthine, realizing that striking it wrong causes it to crack and detonate. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 17 at 5:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre A Crystalline structures can't exactly be shaped without destroying the structure in the first place. But the issue is what is the difference between RAW amaranthine and its processed/safe version. You mention the threat of the explosion disappears when the forging is complete. Then you can just pour it into a cast and use sand paper made out of amaranthine dust to sand it into shape once it will no longer explode. $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee Jan 17 at 5:57
  • $\begingroup$ Amaranthine has crystalline properties, but also behaves like a metallic ore. Processing the raw material diminishes the crystalline behaviors (brittleness, for example) and enhances the metallic qualities, allowing it to be shaped. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 17 at 13:17
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Are you sure that converting it into an inert form is the best use of Amaranthine? You are basically decommissioning a nuclear-biological-chemical combo warhead (with just a hint of cobalt thorium G added for that extra area denial) just to make some trinkets.

But if you insist that is the best use, then instead of smithing I would rather get the pre crystalline form packed into a ceramic mould which would be then dipped into either molten iron or if the state of iron doesn't matter into a water-cooled bed of small iron balls (it is not clear from the description whether the process requires molten iron or is it merely an effect of magical heating of the material). I assume that Amaranthine doesn't strictly require direct contact with iron for the process to work as the centre of the sample doesn't come into contact with surrounding material in the original process. If direct contact is required, the mould could be open from the top side. Resulting

All this could be done with minimum use of the magic resistant workforce - moulds could be prepared offsite, packing of the material could be done by semi-skilled labourers - either disposable or as a time-share task (think firemen extinguishing the burning reactor at Chernobyl: run in, work for 60 seconds, run away). Any further operation could be done remotely using an arrangement of pulleys and cables.

And by the way, the interference with electricity is exactly how new sources and processing plants could be located.

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  • $\begingroup$ The pre-crystalline form is raw energy; there's no way to work with it. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 18 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre 'raw energy' has no physical form - it's basically the same ting as light. The raw ore must have some physical form - otherwise it couldn't be mined - and Lumberjack is suggesting to use that itself as a weapon (even if transport would be major problem) $\endgroup$ – Nicolai Jan 18 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Nicolai The pre-crystalline form is energy. It gets converted to a crystalline form under certain circumstances. That is the raw ore that gets worked. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 18 at 15:02

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