charged bolt

"Your Mama said you started another fight at school."   Liron smiled defiantly, the beginnings of a bruise already apparent on his left cheek. "I punched him just like you showed me, Pappy!"   Tulgar fought to hide a smile. The youth's enthusiasm for his lessons was admirable, but no good would come of encouraging violence for its own sake. "Those lessons are for self defense, my little warrior. Not for bullying your classmates."   "He started it!" Liron shoved his fists in his pockets. "He called me a liar! Mama says you stopped the war."   "Prevented a war. It never started."   "But he said Kalia Furstek stopped it, not you!"   "She did all the talking." Tulgar shrugged his shoulders. "But she needed time to get ready. I gave it to her."   "Tell me!" Liron sat at Tulgar's feet, brown eyes at attention.   "Well..." Tulgar pretended to think. "Did I ever tell you that I can control the weather?"
  Available in both bow and crossbow variants, charged bolts are specialized arrows with elemental rune magic carefully applied to the shaft. The arrows themselves are designed for speed and distance at the expense of precision, and so rely upon thin vanes to provide basic stability rather than a more traditional fletching. This is the official reason they are referred to as bolts rather than arrows.

Mechanics & Inner Workings

Liron leaned forward. "You mean you could just shoot a rain bolt into the air and it would rain?"   "Pretty much." Tulgar's eyes danced with mischief. "Do you know what we used to shoot the rain bolts, to make sure they got high enough for a good rain?"   "What?"   "A rain bow."   Liron rolled his eyes, smiling. "Pappy!" He shook his head, fine brown hair sliding to cover his eyes. He tucked the errant strands behind his ears. "But how did you stop the Heathen Crusades? Tell me!"   "No." Tulgar held up a finger to stop Liron's protest. "It's past your bedtime. And besides, your Mama said you have Divination homework tonight. Something about dreamwalking?"   "You'll show me?" Liron lept to his feet. "I'll get ready right now! Come on, Pappy! It's time for bed!"
  Charged bolts were developed by the Arcturians during the War of Generations. Originally intended to combat the snow squirrels constantly invading their walled cities, the bolts were also discovered to hold additional uses such as causing rain storms to help combat the forest fires caused by the fire bolts.   The elemental runes on charged bolts begin the discharge cycle upon experiencing a sudden acceleration or deceleration. Typically this is met by launching from a bow or crossbow, although they have been known to trigger due to particularly rough roads or from landing after falling from a great height. Portal Travel will also trigger the bolts to discharge, likely for the same reason directional spells tend to react unpredictably when traveling through portals.   As a result charged bolts are generally prepared locally rather than imported, and are most commonly found in Arcturia. They are also considered a weapon for use in defense, as they are much safer to launch from behind stable fortifications. Cavalry no longer attempt to use charged bolts.   Once the discharge process has been triggered the elemental magic applied to the bolts will gain power across several seconds before suddenly discharging. The length of time between activation and discharge is carefully calibrated to best compliment the anticipated flight time based upon the type of launch weapon. Other types of siege-weapon charged ammunition types were considered when developing charged arrows, but these proved so volatile that efforts were abandoned, and so only bolts are in active use today.  
Bolt Type Features and Uses
Fire Bolt The first bolt variant tested, fire bolts remain the most popular. They are especially useful as signal flares, but can also be used similar to flaming arrows. The resultant fires tend to burn hotter and longer than their less arcane cousins, and some are even runed to explode.
Water Bolt Water bolts can be used to cause rain storms or induce instability to large bodies of water. Ice bolt varieties can cause snow when shot into the sky, or freeze their target solid whether it be a lake, a river, or a person.
Earth Bolt While they exist, earth bolts are not particularly popular. Attacking armies with access to Geomancy have found that when shot at stone and earth fortifications they permit for easier identification of weak points. Earth bolts are generally harmless if accidentally discharged, although it is recommended not to store them near metal.
Lightning Bolt If shot into the air lightning bolts mimic the behavior of their namesake. They can also be aimed at opposing armies to cause a chain lightning effect, which is particularly devastating against opponents wearing metal armor without sufficient padding.
Air Bolt Two varients have found popular use. The more volatile variety sets off a sonic boom, useful to disoriente opponents (especially those with more acute hearing), but more commonly popular for scaring off large animals. A milder signaling variant, also called a "whistling arrow," simply makes a whistling noise once shot. Attempts are in progress to develop a third variant capable of causing localized wind phenomenons, but the correct combinations and order of runes has not yet been identified.
Liron squinted, leaning precariously over the bulwark. "I can't see them! I need a spyglass."   Looking up in surprise as the mentioned spyglass appeared in his hand, he caught a chuckle from Tulgar. "It's a dream, little warrior," Tulgar answered to his bewildered gaze. "The rules are different. Now. Aim the glass towards that line of smoke in the distance."   Following his Pappy's recommendation Liron inhaled suddenly. "There's so many of them!" He panned the spyglass along the horizon, taking in the full strength of the Heathen Crusaders. "I've never seen an army so big! How did you stop them, Pappy? They're almost here!"   "We just needed to buy time for Kalia to gather the people she needed and meet us here in Smirnyal. She had some fancy ideas for a treaty, turned them into the Arcturian-Heathen Accord! We just had to do our part to convince the Heathens it was a good idea." Tulgar looked past Liron, his gaze distant, as he relived the memory.   Liron dropped the spyglass as Tulgar shoved a crossbow into his chest, the glass fading to nothing before it hit the ground. "Here. You don't have the muscle strength for a bow yet, but these are better anyway." Liron watched intently as Tulgar demonstrated how to ready the bolt before allowing him to guide his hands and aim the crossbow into the air. "Aim for that cloud over there. That's a good one for what we need."   Liron steadied his breath before pulling the trigger, watching the arrow arc into the sky before discharging its enchantments into the cloud. He felt himself jump, giddy with excitement, at the results." You made it snow?"   "The wind really kicked up after nightfall, so we ended up with a real blizzard. We kept the ice bolts flying for three days. By the time Kalia got here, those Heathens were already wondering why they left their warm homes to come bother us in the frozen north." Tulgar pointed Liron's attention to the sudden appearance of a large barrel of ice bolts. "Why don't you shoot a few more? We have all night."   Liron's grin would have been visible to the opposing Heathen Crusaders, if any had been looking in his direction. "Best. Homework. Ever."
Item type
Ammunition
Related Technologies
Related ethnicities

CAUTION! Handle with Care

Use caution when handling and transporting bolts. Avoid any sudden changes in speed of motion.   Charged bolts are a banned item at the Portal Exchange. Portal Travel WILL trigger the arrows. Anyone caught attempting to transport charged bolts through the Portal Exchange will be prosecuted, if they survive the experience.


Cover image: Nature Forest Trees by jplenio

Comments

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Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
20 Dec, 2020 18:37

A rain bow XD I love the prose sections - they really add to the article, and I feel as though I'm learning like Liron! :D These bolts seem really useful, though I can definitely see why it's not allowed to transport them through portals. XD

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
20 Dec, 2020 21:40

Absolutely well written! The snippets of IC prose really helps give context for the entire thing and brings the item to life.

20 Dec, 2020 22:36

Thank you! I have been having fun with Prose lately, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Author of Fillimet, bright fantasy land of possibilities
7 Jan, 2021 21:03

I loved the story woven into this article, and the bolts themselves are super cool!

Cathedris, the world of God-Husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
7 Jan, 2021 23:44

Thank you! I have been having fun adding Prose.

Author of Fillimet, bright fantasy land of possibilities
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