As I wade through the murky waters of Book Two, (Breach), I thought I’d share a bit of worldbuilding with y’all. These are some of my notes on hematite, the “dispelling stone,” ie: the substance that sentinels ingest in order withstand magic.
In addition to granting increased speed and strength, hematite will drastically shorten a sentinel’s lifespan.
The metal is ingested either as a powder mixed with warm liquid, or as small, easily swallowed pellets. (The latter are used when traveling.) Immediate effects can include: a feverish feeling all through the body, a rush of energy, tunnel vision, increased heart rate, and/or slightly distorted hearing. A wave of nausea immediately follows as the body attempts to reject the poison. Once the nausea passes, the user feels remarkable, with some reports of elation, euphoria, or general happiness and sense of well-being. The initial increase in adrenaline can make users exceedingly talkative or restless, with some users reporting feelings of invincibility.
Hematite use is mostly confined to sentinels. However, since it is a powerful substance with numerous benefits, (in some folks’ eyes), it can be found as a street drug known as “ruthless.” Ruthless is generally sold as a powder, and often cut with other substances in order to increase yield. Ruthless users are prone to fights and brawls – giving the drug its name. Despite this, death rates are not very high, due to the fact that ruthless is rarely pure hematite. The danger of addiction, however, still looms large.
Hematite withdrawal begins as a restlessness, an inability to hold still, an “itch” that some describe as mental, others physical. Later feelings can include: headaches, general “all over” aches, nausea, depression/feelings of hopelessness, sweating, shaking, chills, inability to hold down food/water, severe anxiety, physical weakness. These symptoms can begin gradually or suddenly, depending on many factors. (Stress often aggrandizes them, as does illness or injury.) The symptoms get worse as time progresses, often very quickly.
Hematite ingestion will instantly make these symptoms vanish. Ironically, those who stop ingesting hematite immediately, without easing out of it, might perish from the intensity of the symptoms, (ie: be unable to eat/drink, retain water from sweating, retain food from throwing up, or will take their own lives to end the mental & physical pain.) To successfully come out of hematite addiction, one must gradually lower the dosage over the course of at least three to six months. However, the urge for a “burn” will never completely go away. Those who have been taking hematite for more than about fifteen years will never be able to live without it; the withdrawal will be unbearable.