Sunday, June 23, 2019

Soul Shells

Soul shells are the harvested and specially treated shells of the juvenile nautilus. Traditionally, the shells of adults were used, but the greater size and fragility makes them difficult to keep on one’s person, so the palm-sized juvenile is preferred today.

After drying out, the shell is submerged in fertile soil infused with gold dust and liquor. After laying for a month, it is dug up and treated with petrifying agents and acids. The result is a thin stone shell. The juvenile is more useful here, as their shells have a lower surface area without loss in thickness, making them more durable.

The resulting item is capable of capturing and containing a soul for a short time after death. By holding the opening over the mouth of a dying subject, closing off the nose, and applying pressure until the final breath of the subject, the soul, instead of flying off, is stored within the shell. It must then be stoppered with a specially fitted cork containing a lead barrier. If the shell was crafted correctly and the cork forms an airtight seal, the soul can remain in the shell for several days with minimal loss of memory and sanity.

The soul can then be restored to its original body after whatever trauma dealt to it has been repaired, simply by inserting the shell into the mouth immediately after removing the stopper. The event of decapitation, dissolution, the inability to recover the whole body or some other form of death that renders the original body unusable, other alternatives remain.

The soul may be reincarnated into the body of an animal, which must be killed by suffocation. The soul retains their memories, but must use the faculties and instincts of their new host. With a suitably intelligent animal, such as a dog or ape, this might be an acceptable second life. Some wizards attempted to create homunculi for this purpose. This was deemed barbaric, and they were whipped, racked, vivisected, hung, drawn, quartered and cut into tiny cubes for their crimes.

Of course, you could also kill another person and use their body to resurrect your friend but, you’d never do that. Right?

The creation of a soul shell remains frightfully costly not only because of the price of reagents, necessary expertise and extensive monopolies, but because of the rarity of the  nautilus, which was fished nearly to extinction shortly after the technique was developed. This also led to a large market in amateur and fake shells, subsequent pogroms and a long series of show trials. Needless to say, they are dreadfully expensive and supplies are always limited. Stolen ones go for 100gp on the black market (25% chance of a fake, 25% chance of a convincing fake), and legitimate ones start at 200gp at auction. Most couldn’t afford one if all the money they earned in their lives had been saved. What price do you place on your life?