This is the second book in a series which aims to preserve the knowledge gained by artisans of the early Fifth Age. A thorough grasp of the processes and techniques described in my earlier work, 'Book of the Elemental Shield', is necessary to comprehend the concepts involved in the more technical chapters of this book.
Some years following the original discovery of the elemental ore, further investigation was performed by a metallurgist called Vitruvius in collaboration with a freelance mage. Over the course of two years they did many tests on the ore and refined metal, aiming to optimise the process by which the metal was extracted from its impure ore. From the data they gathered, they discovered the optimum temperature and carbon/ore ratio for the production of elemental metal of the highest quality. The quality of the resulting metal was assessed on the basis of its ultimate tensile strength, hardness (as compared to a standard diamond-tipped probe), magical absorption capacity per unit mass, grain size and elastic deformation modulus. Their most significant discovery in this period, however, was the novel technique of 'priming' the ore.
At the time, the significance of priming was not fully appreciated. However the records kept by Vitruvius state that his apprentice, in an unsuccessful attempt to animate a small ingot of elemental metal as part of a student prank, accidentally instilled his entire consciousness into the primed ingot. An unfortunate side-effect of this process was to reduce the apprentice's body to a dead shell. Attempts to return his consciousness to his body were regrettably unsuccessful.
Vitruvius discovered that the mental energy was firmly bound to the elemental metal that no dissipation was detectable. Similar experiments with un-primed bars initially yielded comparable results, but the mental energy quickly left the bars and dissipated within such a short period that no practical applications seems feasible. However the primed elemental metal showed considerably more promise.
Researchers have continued to use the terminology defined by Vitruvius for this field of study. In his own notebooks, Vitruvius referred to his preparation technique as 'priming', and he referred to his apprentice as 'Idiot'.