Of Dragons and Legends
No real dragon has walked the earth nor flown in the skies for over a thousand years (or, to be more precise, if they have nobody has ever seen one) and they are now thought to be extinct.
This is hardly surprising if the tales are to be believed, for all the legends mark them as the most violent and bloodthirsty creatures ever to have existed.
A dragon, so the legends claim, would kill man and beast alike, merely for the pleasure of watching it die. Even other dragons enjoyed no immunity from their predations for they were highly territorial, excessively aggressive, and almost certainly cannibalistic.
In truth such a creature should never have existed, and in any rational universe they would certainly never have evolved in the first place. Indeed, this very fact has been used by many a theologian as proof positive of the existence of the gods.
Given their aggressive and predatory nature dragons where almost always in conflict, either with humans or with other dragons, and an awful lot of dragon blood got spelled over the centuries. Of course most of this simply seeped into the earth and decayed away, much like the blood of any other creature.
Dragons however were strange innately magical creatures and, very rarely, if the conditions were precisely right, the blood just might set to form a dragon blood crystal (in much the same fashion that tree sap can set to form amber).
Dragon blood crystal is a quartz-like crystal ranging in colour from deep purple to jet-black. The crystals are always extremely small (rarely more than a 1/4 oz in weight), probably because they are extremely brittle and tend to break at the slightest shock.
Even in their raw state dragon blood crystals are quite pretty, but if cut and set by a skilled jeweller they can become astonishingly beautiful. This combined with their rarity means that gem quality crystals can be at least as expensive as diamonds.
Most crystals however are not suitable for jewellery, but they still have considerable value for their inherent magical properties.
Dragon blood crystals do not actually do anything directly. Instead they act as a kind of magical battery, collecting and storing magic for future use.
To use a crystal the magician must first "charge" it up from a mana source of some kind. This could be anything (the ambient magical field, some arcane machine, the magicians’ life force, whatever) depending on how your preferred magic system works. The crystal is then "linked to" or incorporated into a magical artefact on order to power the magic.
Without a power source of some kind no magical artefact can work, so these crystals are essential for the creation of "always on" type items (such as Spirit Beacons). You simply incorporate a crystal into the design, charge it up, and the item will work as long as the crystal has power. Note that you will of course have the recharge the crystal from time to time.
I can’t really claim full credit for this item, since mana storage device are a mainstay of several magic systems. However, I do think it adds an interesting atmosphere to the magical world as well as a kind of internal logic to the magic system. So, for what it’s worth, here it is.