What Are Moonglobes?
Naica crystals, or moonglobe crystals, are a form of selenite that, when heated and blown into globes, then polished just right, will absorb sunlight and emit it. The moonglobes can be used to light the interior of all kinds of buildings. Small ones are often carried by travelers and used to provide lighting in tents and campsites. Another unique property of the moonglobes is that they can be recharged by leaving them outside in the sunlight. The length of time it takes them to be recharged depends on the size of the moonglobe. The length of time that the globes will hold a charge depends on the thickness of the interior trunk and the number of branches on it. Only Naica crystals have this light-absorbing and emitting property.
Ideally, the globes should be shaped and then polished in such a manner that the selenite crystals extrude into a form that looks very much like a tree trunk with branches. The more branches there are and the thicker the trunk, the more energy the globe can absorb. This dictates both how long the moonglobe can function without being exposed to sunlight to recharge as well as how bright the light being emitted is.
Moonglobes can only be used as a light source and cannot be used as any sort of power source.
Other names: Mooncrystals, witch balls, spirit balls, light globes.
Legend: Many of Aereth’s residents believe that the globes can also ward off hexes and evil. The more tendrils within the globe, the more entangled the hex or evil will be, therefore preventing it from reaching its intended target. Folks on Aereth tend to hang moonglobes in their windows to prevent evil or hexes from getting inside. Moonglobes will recharge if hung in a window – as long as it is clear, plain glass – but it takes longer than recharging outdoors.
All Naica crystal caves lie on ancient faults above underground magma chambers whare are approximately 2-3 miles below the cave. The magma heated the groundwater, which was saturated with sulfide ions. Cool, oxygenated surface water contacted the mineral saturated heated water, but the two did not mix because of their different densities. The oxygen slowly diffused into the heated water and oxidized the sulfides into sulfates that precipitated as anhydrite. When the overall temperature of the cave dropped below 132º F, the hydrothermal and sedimentary anhydrite crystals dissolved, and gypsum crystals formed. The hydrated sulfate gypsum crystallized at an extremely slow rate. Other elements specific to Aereth with light-absorbing and emitting properties were also incorporated. The end result is the fantastic and massive Naica crystals that can be formed into moonglobes.
The Moonglobe Trade
There are several steps along the way to get a raw Naica crystal from the earth to the market as a moonglobe. The crystal-bearing caves have to be located, the Naica must be mined, the raw crystals are sold to the Guilds where they are melted, blown, cut, and polished, then shops and markets have to buy them to sell to consumers. This is one of Aereth’s healthiest economies, and nations that have several Naica mines are usually very wealthy.
Locating a naica cave takes training and skill. On Earth, these men and women would be highly skilled geologists. On Aereth, they are usually called naica-seekers. This skill is usually taught by one generation to another and not shared outside a family or clan. It is a highly prized knowledge.
Once a naica cave has been located, a few small crystals are brought out and roughly polished to make sure they contain the right properties. After that, the process of turning the cave into a mine begins. Entrances have to be shored up and equipment brought in.
The process of mining naica is brutal. The owners of the mines want the largest crystals possible cut and brought out. The biggest ones can be processed into several moonglobes of various sizes. However, the caves themselves tend to be very hot, and the deeper one travels into them, the higher the air temperature. Some of the naica mines have a recorded air temperature of 136º F with 97-99% humidity. Few people will voluntarily work in the mines. In most cases, slave and prison labor is used. In fact, some crimes are punishable by being sent to the naica mines.
Even slaves and prisoners are outfitted with special wyvern hide overalls that will hold snow for a period of time so that they can survive working the mines more than one trip.
The next step in the process is selling the naica to the Moonshapers Guilds for processing. Like the families who train naica-seekers, the Guilds jealously guard their trade secrets. Each stage, prepping (initially cutting the crystal to fit into the smelters), melting and blowing, cutting, and polishing is a specialty. No one person can perform every step of the process.
The preppers must take each raw naica crystal and carefully cut it into sections. The sections will likely not be uniform in size because the preppers will find sections of the raw crystal that do not have enough of the light-forming elements in it. The sections that are lower-grade will still be sent for processing but will be flagged as unpure, meaning they will have a shorter lifespan and be sold cheaply to the end consumer. The higher-grade sections will go to the smelters and blowers that work with the best crystals.
The smelters and blowers are two separate people that work together toward the end product. Smelters have to know at what temperature to melt each size of the crystal. They also have to know how long it must stay in the smelters before it ready for the next step. When the crystal section is at the right temperature and consistency, the blowers step in and, much like a glass-blower, begins the process of carefully blowing the melted crystal into the right shape and size. It is also this step that forms the light-tree inside the globe that determines how long it can hold a sunlight charge and how much light it will emit.
Once each blown crystal has cooled, the globe is sent for cutting and polishing. These experts carefully cut imperfections from the exterior, gradually refining the shape into a perfect globe. After that, a polisher begins the long, labor-intensive job of polishing the globe so that the “light tree” inside it is easily seen, and light will reach it for recharging as well as being clear enough not to impede light emissions.
The final step is grading the globes based on the quality of their light-trees and sorting them for sale to merchants who will then take them to sell in their shops. Some merchants simply buy from the guilds and then sell them to various shops and markets.