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Illumination 2 page 23

Illumination 2 page 23 published on 59 Comments on Illumination 2 page 23

I think it’s safe to say that this might be a useful Vision for Michelle!

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Ditto. A really great page, and your subtle irony in that one little thing destabilizing a sorcery concealment was a medallion is not unappreciated. Wish I had the money at the moment to patron you, as I’m now speculating whether theft was the dragons’ intention. Destroying the smith seems counterproductive to acquiring medallions compared to a motivation like pride at ‘hiding.’
Continuing along that theme I’m making the prediction that Sam is going to play a pivotal role by being bestowed a reverse medallion letting him express his true self.

It’s simple to explain.
If we (the dragons) cannot have it (Medallions and hiding), then NO-ONE can.

Or they just wanted the shiny medallions for their treasure hoards.

If that was the case then why destroy the smiths, the means of crafting more?

Non human intelligences might not be inclined to the same decision making processes humans would. There is also precedent in human nomadic cultures not to particularly care about leaving infrastructure intact for another ‘harvest.’ Far as pirates are concerned building another ship and pressing another crew is someone else’s problem.

That’s assuming the conflict really boils down to something that simple, which is extremely unlikely. We’ve only ever seen the conflict from the sphinx’ point of view, and from a history which wholly vilifies the dragons– without confirmation that Jim’s theory that ‘dragons was mad jealous!’ is wholly true, it’s pretty disingenuous to just dismiss the whole conflict on such shallow grounds.

I get the feeling that there was probably some bad blood between the Sphinxes and the Dragons to begin with, possibly to the point that the sphinx blacksmiths decided to exclude them from the list of species getting medallions, or it’s possible that they excluded species with a more recent reputation of actively hunting and eating humans, in an attempt to try to reduce the possibility of humans adding “medallion with engraving of mythical creatures” to things to look for because someone got caught in the middle of a murder spree.

Of course, one of the many things dragons are known for is a heightened sense of pride, so being rejected on the basis that the makers were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to control their base urges probably stung quite a bit

I’d wager that the Dragons argued for fighting the humans. Bring us to heel and all that. And then the Sphinx’s offered another way – hide, (Cowards!), live among them (Among the lesser things?!), be at peace. The Dragons are destroying the means to hide, to force the fight they want to see, the war they want to prosecute.

My theory is that the Sphinxes weren’t really the good guys everyone has made them out to be. Like the Dragons felt entitled to boss everyone around cause they were the biggest and the strongest, but the Sphinxes felt entitled to boss everyone around cause they were the smartest and had the most magical power, like the conflict between the two was like Rome being invaded by the Mongols. With the Dragons being the militant Mongols and the Sphinxes being the decadent and entitled Roman aristocracy .

So….. Does this mean medallions are made from the Phoenix egg? What happens if it hatches? I’m quivering with excitement over here!

The phoenix who created what became the Phoenix Egg which the Finns were tasked to protect, was reborn before Medallions were first created.
WHO that phoenix is, remains unknown as does whether or not that phoenix has been reborn since. There is conjecture by the population of the LA that Phoenix is a phoenix, but no-one knows for sure, and this has not been clarified here, or on Patreon.

I think the “egg” is simply what was left of it after the phoenix was reborn and left thru one of the holes (it was mentioned it’s not really an egg some strips back).. because of the magic, it won’t cool down and thus the heat and magic mix is used to melt metal and thus forge the medallions, as a self-heated crucible.

But I may be wrong about some or all the above

And for Cory – amazing and revealing page!

I’m pretty sure that this has been explicitly stated somewhere, earlier in this arc, but I’m not in the mood to go looking right now.

Sorcery and magic in general, especially when dealing with large amounts of energy and incredibly complex enchantments, is a difficult thing to deal with. The Sphinxes are still perfecting the process, using select species as test subjects while attempting to distribute completed medallions as fast as possible to the general magical population. Many safety measures and experimentation in making the medallions function properly as well as last are put in place, delaying medallion manufacture for many species.
Dragons, as the most visible and most proud of the magical races, are possibly the most threatened by the human population, and are desperate for a way to hide. Instead of seeing the Sphinx’s measures as wise and cautious, they, through the lens of their fear and desperation, will see this as an act of passive aggression: basically, using humans as a roundabout way of wiping out the dragons for whatever reason, while hoarding the medallions for themselves and a select few others. Thus, the dragons begin what they believe is a war for survival against and vindictive enemy, while the Sphinxes attempt to defend themselves from what they perceive as unprovoked aggression.

That idea might work if the dragons simply stole the smiths as well as the Medallions which had been created to date.
But instead, they were taking the Medallions and DESTROYING the smiths.

They are quite the prideful race, so it may just be that they were completely unwilling to rely on a member of a species that they have decided is their enemy. Raiding their labs is all well and good, but being reliant on them is unacceptable.

Plus, look at the wording here. They are speaking of “smiths” not as PEOPLE, but as LOCATIONS. The dragons MIGHT just be stealing individual smiths, and then burning the smithy’s to the ground.

You misunderstood me.
I was not suggesting smiths were people.
Like you, I KNOW that a smith can refer to either people or a building and contents. And in the case of this page, it is the latter meaning.
So I was asking why the dragons did not simply take EVERYTHING. Why only take the Medallions and destroy the smiths.

I thought a ‘smith’ was always a person, and ‘smithy’ (or forge) was the building. You might ‘go to a smith’s’ because it’s the building owned by the smith, but I’ve never heard of ‘going to a smith’ to mean the building or business.

That’s actually an accurate casting box. I’ve seen bronze cast that way.

Meta moment prediction. Whatever medallions Michelle makes are about the size of a quarter and pressed rather than cast.

What we’ve seen so far makes me think that the metal needs to be smelted in the egg. It was stated last page to still be hot, it’s made of almost pure magic from a phoenix. the top shows what appears to be molten metal leaking from the egg, etc. probably casting was the best way they had at the time to turn molten metal into a form that fit their needs. Now, I don’t know much about metalworking, so it may be that I am wrong here, but it seems that pressing may be kind of pointless in that situation. you’re going to be pouring molten metal anyway, why add the extra step.

The first Medallions were made like coins being minted. Coin sized cast blanks, struck with a specific design on a die using a drop hammer.
We can see the ruins of such a drop hammer mint and some dies in the centre bottom panel.
It takes more time to sculpt 30 moulds so the moulds themselves hold the species image for casting, than it takes to sculpt the dies of the 17 known mythical species which have Medallions.
And then you are stuck with that set of moulds.
Where as with a drop hammer mint, you can change the dies as and when needed.

The species we have seen to date in the comic, which have had Medallions crafted for them are Sphinx, Gryphon, Nemean Lion, Bohemian Lion, Chechen Wolf, Bugbear, Satyr, White Stag, Peryton, Glaistig, Faun, Centaur, Pegasus, Jub-Jub Bird, Ouzelum Bird and Nixie/Nokk.
In Reader Commissions there are another 4 species, Kokko, Crocotta, Nachtkrapp, and Hippogriff

In the mid left frame of the Vision, that is only the Medallions blanks that are being cast.
In the centre bottom, you see the ruins of a drop hammer mint and some of the species dies for the coin shaped Medallions. Quoting from my post over on Patreon about this: “Carefully looking at the Medallion dies in the wreckage, the Sphinx is clearly visible in the centre, upper right to it is a Satyr, to the left of it is a Nixie. No Gryphon die is clearly visible, though.”

What has me intrigued about the castings though is who comes up with the idea for the sculpted jewellery style Medallions, such as Merial’s Nixie, Greg’s Satyr, and Myra’s Bugbear.

Theres many different ways to make small metal jewelry items.

I assume that cast and stamped was one way- But lost wax, investment casting was probably used by some individual artisans to make medallions as well.

Thats usually a “one man shop” technique, as you don’t need help handling a larger crucible for production pours, and can do the entire process yourself.

Might also be that some of the craftsmen felt they wanted to make nicer/higher quality blanks to take to the enchanting room…Assuming the enchanting was done all at once when you had a nice pile of blank medallions to complete.

Theres not really enough information yet for me to speculate any further though.


We still don’t REALLY know who came up with the way to make Medallions. The assumption is that it was Wosret and Jocasta, and Ravi.
We don’t know if the way to make them was shared to other sphinxes before or during the Great War.

All we DO know is that Medallions definitely existed after the Great War. The presumption from this and the previous page is that the creation of Medallions was what sparked the Great War.

I can think of a possible why, for the more artisticly styled Medallions to have been created during the Great War. If smiths were no longer safe for finishing Medallions due to attack by Dragons, then a completely new design of Medallion would be needed. One which did not need a drop hammer mint at a smith.

If we assume the medallions are stamped from rough blanks, then yes.

I’ve been working with metal for most of my life, so I can see this as how they made rough blanks in bronze and silver through casting.
I wondered why they were using an open box, puddle cast until I saw the stamping gear and dies.
Biggest issue with open box is usually bubbles or other casting flaws- But if they are roughly hammered down first, annealed, and then stamped, most of the casting flaw problems aren’t an issue.

I work more in steel than casting cuprous alloy, but I find this sort of thing fascinating. :)


Background question: Do medallions work on dragons? It’s already been established that the size of a mythical creature is no obstacle to a medallion giving them a human form.

The medallion would obviously have to be made for dragons. That may or may not require the cooperation of an exemplar dragon. Once it’s made, the medallion must be activated by the will of the wearer. Will draconic pride allow them to masquerade as anything else, let alone a mere human?

Not quite, Lynx-Eye.
Recall what happened to Colin in Illumination chapter 1. On a Mythical creature who is NOT already being hidden by a human shaped spell, merely TOUCHING an unused Medallion for the first time will cause the spell in a Medallion suited to that creature’ species, to instantly generate the human shaped shell upon that Mythical creature.
It takes will power and practice to HOLD a form under stress. We saw how that can fail in One Eyed Bear. The car in the Maize.
And as for midforms, that takes time and practice in using a Medallion.

But Colin’s medallion had already been used by other gryphons (like great-great Aunt Winnifred). It’s reasonable to assume that it would work as expected. Any medallions made for dragons would be activated for the very first time, ever. It’s reasonable to assume that there might be some calibration, or at least a certain level of consent, involved in the enchantment process for a brand new medallion.

Technically, the medallion Colin received belonged to an ancestor of his–presumably, a Griffon of some configuration. Remember when Madam Wu offered a rare medallion to Anthony? Yes, it caused the magic holding his human form in place to break, but she offered him a medallion meant for a specific mythical creature. In that same chapter, she informed him that a certain medallion was meant for a different type of creature than the one he assumed.

I think the context clues we have been given show that medallions are definitely made to be used by certain mythical beings, otherwise manticores would just buy a blank medallion and be able to pass for human.

You misunderstood my reply to Lynx-Eye.
He’d made the assertion that the Medallion must be activated by the will of the wearer.
My reply shows the inaccuracy in the assertion.

The Medallion Colin was given was unused, in the sense that it did not have a current wearer.

The Nokk Medallion which Vadona used to Test Anthony was rare only in the sense that it was blank. Tim, like everyone else thought that blank Medallions were older than the ones with species markings still visible. As we are now learning, ALL Medallions come from the same time period, and likely the same decade.

So I guess it was the humans they meant in the last page, but I appreciate that that was a ‘simply solved’ (relatively speaking) problem and not a lecture on how humans are evil. There was a problem with us coexisting, but we’ve known that from the start of the comic; the real problem on this page are the dragons, who don’t want them to make medallions for whatever reason. That absolutely explains why the ‘monster’ races don’t have medallions, at least; the Sphinxes just didn’t have time to make them. So it’s not like there’s a problem with those species having medallions, which i was a bit worried about XD

I also hope that Sam can have some kind of medallion now! And Anthony, he’s going to be so happy XD

To add to your post, probably the “monster” species are the ones that weren’t in immediate contact with sphinxes, since if you think about it there’s no big difference between a gryphon and a manticore that should prevent the latter from having a medallion.
This also means that one of the biggest power dividers in mythical society boils down to pure luck…

Not just having trouble contacting the sphinxes, it may take time to develop the medallion set-up for each individual race. For example, we know that harpies don’t have medallions. Harpies are generally thought of as a Greek creature, as are one major lineage of sphinxes, with the other living in Egypt, which is just across the Mediterranean. In fact, the “wild” harpies we’ve seen are living right between them. it seems likely that harpies where lower on the priority list on account of living on remote islands, so they never got around to developing them before the war made research and development a bit harder.

That thinking of needing to be in immediate contact with the Sphinxes, breaks on the first group shown in the Vision.
There are 2 current Monster species shown in it.
Lamia and Aellean Harpy.
So there seems to be some other reason as to why the 17 known species got Medallions, and all the others missed out.

Does this mean that species that couldn’t get in contact with Sphinxes have no medallion by default? This should exclude American and Australian critters, and severely limit Subsaharan and Far Eastern ones.

By that thinking, then the Lamia and Aellean Harpy should have had Medallions.
There was a Lamia and an Aellean Harpy in the first group in the Vision seen by Michelle.
But on the SkinDeep Wiki, Lamia and all Harpies are classed as Monsters, and do not have Medallions.

This vision seems to start with the past, some unspecified time before the Great War, when the sphinxes were figuring out the need and the method for making medallions.
(I have to speculate that the first medallion-makers may have had someone cast dangerous and unstable sorcery on them so they could have hands to make the medallions with.)
The last part of the vision leaps to Jocasta’s present and beyond, with dragons waging war on sphinxes.

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