Who’s up for a little fantasy industrial processes? Hardhollow Steel is this week’s entry, the sturdy, keen-edged, possibly magical steel alloy that everybody across the Speaking Lands idolizes.
This durable alloy is renowned throughout Ipeiros as the pinnacle of metallurgy and swordcraft. Weapons and tools made of hardhollow steel are highly valued, used as gifts between crowns and gratuities to seal trade agreements. Its prolific reputation has made ‘hardhollow’ a byword for strength and durability even among those who have never held a Hardhollow blade in their hand. Figures of legend such as Peshak the Rider and King Silenos are often described as bearing Hardhollow swords, even if those figures predate the discovery of the alloy.
The Hardhollow process was developed three centuries ago by orks living in the kobold–dwarven city of Hardhollow. That underground city is now nothing more than ruins, as fighting over the secrets of the steel’s manufacture destroyed the peace established between the city’s kobolds and dwarves. Three steelworkers emerged from the collapse: the kobold mayor, a dwarven trade magnate, and the orkish apprentice whose masters originated the process.
There might still be three traditions of steelmaking if the ork hadn’t hunted down the others, slaying both them and their own apprentices, for their crimes against his own masters. Today there are fewer than fifty craftmasters who can produce Hardhollow steel. Most but not all are orks; all of them guard their secrets jealously.
The industrial process requires tungstite ores and vanadium-salt quenching water rarely found outside Toriel. The refining and alloying process is lengthy and demanding, requiring a long list of heating, cooling, admixing, and quenching, all at precise times. Production of Hardhollow steel has never been prodigious, which only makes existing pieces all the more valuable.
Hardhollow steel is exported widely, especially through the cities of Ellamthorn Lake. It was the first trade good requested by the Ivory traders when they arrived from across the Rushing Sea. While it is moderately more common in Toriel proper and its neighbors, the combination of utility, reputation, and portability has carried these blades to every corner of the Speaking Lands.
There’s only three name-dropped entries in this week’s offering that we haven’t seen before. Which one will we check out next time?