Test of Metal by Matthew Stover

Description : Test of Metal
THE METAL ISLAND

TRUTH AND DARE

At the farthest reach of a world that is ocean, there is one small island, and this island is made of metal. The metal has the appearance of age-tarnished silver, or perhaps of burnished pewter, though it can be made more resilient than tool steel and harder than diamond. This metal is not armor, nor paving, nor is it built into structures for shelter. This metal is instead the grass, and the trees, their leaves and their fruit. It is the moss that clings to boulders and the algae in the tide pools, as though some eccentric god had, on a whim, decreed that every material thing on this island be transformed to metal in a single instant. This metal shines in the sun, sings in the winds, and gleams on moonless nights as though gathering starlight against the dawn.

The only living thing on the Metal Island was one lone man, naked on the metal beach, resting on doubled knees, his head lowered as though in meditation or prayer.

The island’s metal does not occur in nature, in any form on any world, from the highest heavens to the deepest hells. This metal is called etherium, and it is arguably the most valuable substance in the Multiverse. Etherium is magic.

Not magical. Many things are magical. In the jigsaw world of Alara, a horse can’t piss without splashing something magical. Most magical things are powered by mana; nearly any kind of magical operation is simply a directed use of mana. Etherium is not magical. It is not a device powered by, or used to direct, mana.

Etherium is magic.

The energies bound into etherium transcend mana...
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