Blitzenspitz

Blitzenspitz is an unusual location in Northern Losel and the name may refer to either the village (The Village of Blitzenspitz) or the mountain (Blitzenspitz).  The more poetically minded who dislike sibilant syllables call the mountain by its fancier name, “Thunderspire.”

Blitzenspitz (the mountain) is a tall, conical rock rising several thousand feet above the floor of a grassy plain.  The village stands at the base of this mountain.  The top of the mountain is always shrouded in thunderclouds and frequent claps of thunder are heard around the mountain at all times. The primary industry in the Village of Blitzenspitz is the harvesting of lightning, a fascinating and unique process.
Several shafts have been dug into the sides of Blitzenspitz.  Here, miners seek the rare blitzen crystals.  These crystals can be used to store the energy from a bolt of lightning and Blitzenspitz is the only known source of these crystals, so the villagers and their lord guard the mines carefully.  Once gathered from beneath the earth, the crystals are mounted into cunningly made silver and copper sockets that are stored inside of clear glass jars with a pair of short copper rods protruding from the lid. These ‘lightning jars’ are then carried to the top of the mountain by lightning harvesters who employ long poles with copper tips connected by wires to the jar to ‘capture’ a blast of lightning and ‘imprison’ it in the jar.  These lightning harvesters wear heavy suits of leather without any metal buckles or fasteners of any kind; despite these precautions, hundreds are killed by unpredictable bolts of lightning every year. The jars are carefully packed in straw padded bags or pouches and transported back to the village for eventual sale. Unlicensed lightning collectors, if caught, are hung with iron chains and tied onto tall poles on the top of the mountain where the lightning serves as their painful and messy method of execution. Some claim that if one can insert a crystal under the skin of a condemned man and stitch up the wound, the crystal will be charged in a particularly potent manner when retrieved.

The crystals, when filled with energy, glow with a white light. There are many uses for the energy; apparently many mages purchase the jars to power spells or charge magical devices.  Some healers claim that the energy can be used to heal as well as harm (although I would be reluctant to undergo any of these experimental therapies).  Persistent but unconfirmed rumors mention ancient devices that can be powered by the energy in the crystals; these are strange and dangerous devices that can give the user the power to cast thunderbolt spells like the most powerful of wizards… but this author is certain that those stories are just bullshit.

Not every crystal can be successfully charged.  A few simply shatter or melt when any attempt is made to charge them. Others can be charged and recharged multiple times without a problem.  The mine bosses of Blitzenspitz are usually pretty successful in grading the crystals and differentiating those which are not suitable for a single charge from those which can be used multiple times, although mistakes are often made and good crystals are declared to be flawed junk (and thrown on the scrap heap) while bad crystals are sometimes mistaken for crystals of the first water and sold for inflated prices. The best practice is to buy a crystal that is already charged (which will prove it is of at least adequate quality) and then attempt to have it recharged or trade it in after use.

Blitzenspitz has, traditionally, been ruled by the VanDurn family. Everyone who wants to buy powered crystals must pay a high tax to the VanDurns.  The VanDurns, in turn, license the harvesters and the dealers and guard the village and the mines.  The current ruler, Octavo VanDurn XIV, is a virtual recluse in his ancient and crumbling castle. He hasn’t been seen outside the castle in years, but rumors persist that he (or his agents) obtain a large number of jars of the glowing crystal every week; what they do with the power in the jars is unknown.

Lightning harvesters are well paid for their dangerous work, but spending so much time on the peak of Blitzenspitz is not without disadvantages. The few harvesters who are not blasted to bits or burned to a cinder often become a bit peculiar in their habits as the years go on, frequently becoming subject to bouts of paranoia or depression.  In addition, most who have spent a large amount of time collecting lightning will gradually find it harder and harder to touch metal without painful (and, in some cases, dangerous) bursts of static energy.  Utensils, buttons, buckles and other common items are made wood, bone, horn, clay, etc., whenever possible. Some common objects, like brass door knobs or pewter tankards, are actually illegal in the village. Most lightning harvesters use carved ivory plaques instead of coins of gold or silver or will have a trusted family member handle the money for them.  Lightning harvesters can usually be easily identified by the way in which their hair stands straight out from their heads, like the puff-ball of a dandelion, and the faint whiff of ozone that seems to linger in their vicinity.



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