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Lorelei is a type of psychoactive crystal exclusively mined upon the Imperial Industrial World of Kalidar, which is why it is also referred to as "Kalidarian Lorelei" by specialists. As a psychoactive material, refined Lorelei may be used to fabricate tools and weapons that benefit the psykers of various Imperial organisations such as the Adeptus Astra Telepathica, the Inquisition or the Librarians of the Adeptus Astartes. As the Adeptus Mechanicus is currently unable to synthesize equivalent materials, the Imperium of Man relies on mining natural deposits of the crystals on Kalidar.

Fabrication

Lorelei occurs naturally both on the surface and deeper within Kalidar's mantle. Kalidarian Lorelei is believed to have been created through the extreme environmental conditions present on Kalidar. Located in the Kalidar System, the Desert World is constantly bombarded by the rays of its blue-white star due to its thin atmosphere. Kalidar's strong magnetosphere and absence of cloud-cover allow these rays to reach almost unhindered to the planet's surface.

In the distant past, Kalidar was also hit by a sizable meteorite whose energy upon impact prompted an exothermic reaction. On Kalidar, Lorelei therefore comes in two forms: "newer" crystals that were spawned by the intense solar radiation and "older" crystals that form deposits and veins in Kalidar's rock and were affected by the meteorite impact. Both forms are mined on Kalidar, the latter through conventional mining operations, the former by sifting through the desert's sand with gigantic machines called "sand-haulers."

After its harvest, the first step in refining the crystals is to smelt the Lorelei to get rid of other elements that reduce its purity. As Lorelei has a melting point of 1,137 degrees Celsius, this action requires a lot of energy, which requires its transportation to one of Kalidar's many processing plants. First through manual scraping, then after passage through a centrifuge, the molten Lorelei is progressively refined until it reaches a purity grade of more than 99%. Only once this level of purity has been attained can the Lorelei be processed any further.

Like other ores and minerals, the liquid Lorelei is cast into pellets. A rapid cooling of the material allows the workers to disrupt the crystalline matrix of the Lorelei and thus render it safe for transport. This is a vital step as otherwise the Lorelei pellets would still possess their psychoreactive proprieties and this could lead to several disruptive incidents on the way to its next stage of refinement.

Once the inert Lorelei pellets have arrived at their destination, they are remelted and psychically cleaned and purified before being cast in the desired shape. The liquid is then allowed to cool very slowly -- a process than can take up to two Terran years -- to allow the Lorelei to reform the psychoconductive crystalline matrix which will amplify the wielder's powers.

Only once all the crystalline matrixes have reformed is the item checked, rechecked, blessed and sanctified before being used as a component in a new device by a particular Imperial organisation. Lorelei crystals are used to manufacture psychoreactive objects such as Force Weapons and Nemesis Force Weapons, as well as defensive gear like the Psychic Hoods often worn by Space Marine Librarians.

The Ghosts of Kalidar

While the psycho-conductive matrix of a Lorelei crystal considerably strengthens the power of a psyker, naturally-occurring Lorelei crystals also have an overt effect on non-psykers. In large quantities or over a prolonged period of exposure, the Lorelei begins to affect the subject's mind, a phenomenon locally known as "the Ghosts of Kalidar".

In the first stage of the affliction, the subject experiences visions which often take the form of deceased relatives and friends. The primitive native population of Kalidar, the so-called sandscum, believe that these "ghosts" are exactly what they claim to be: the spirits of the departed that still roam the soil of Kalidar. The sandscum have also discovered an antidote to the affliction: bearing amulets of raw and properly charged Lorelei crystals which prevent the wearer from seeing the hallucinations.

Without such precautions, the visions get increasingly worse. During the Kalidar War, several tank-crews fell prey to these visions, inadvertently maneuvering their war engines into patches of quickdust which claimed both their lives and their machines. In the most extreme cases, Lorelei can even induce poltergeist activity or outbursts of mass hysteria that can end in violence and death, as exemplified by the tragic fate of the Hive Kimeradon Constructor Team.

Trivia

The Loreley (or Lorelei, or Loreleï) is a notorious cliff of slate rock on the right bank of the Rhine River near the town of Sankt Goarshausen in Germany. The cliff marks one of the most dangerous portions of the Rhine where the river turns while simultaneously becoming more narrow. Plagued by sandbanks and strong currents that form strong swirls, the waters "murmur," a sound that is amplified by the sheer cliff, thus creating an echo.

In the Middle Ages, local folklore had it that dwarves mined the Loreley or that some other spirits were responsible for the numerous shipwrecks. It was only at the beginning of the 19th century that the Loreley was personified by the romantic German poet Clemens Brentano (1778-1842).

In his ballad of 1801, the Lore Lay, the Loreley becomes a beautiful woman whose beauty is such that no man may resist her. Many of her suitors die trying to prove themselves to her or commit suicide after having been rejected by her. Because of this, Loreley is accused of witchcraft and put on trial by the local bishop.

Since the only man she ever loved has abandoned her, Loreley begs the bishop to condemn her to the pyre, but being a man, the bishop cannot resist her charms. Enraptured by her beauty, the bishop commutes her death-sentence to a life of seclusion within a monastery.

Desperate to escape life, Loreley tricks the three knights guarding her into leading her to the cliff from which she throws herself, drowning in the waters of the Rhine. In German literature, the Lore Lay is generally understood as a vulgarisation of the myth of the nymph Echo in the Roman poet Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Sources

  • Baneblade (Novel) by Guy Haley
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