Red Matter (Rm), or colloquially, 'Areum', is a rare, high atomic number element that possesses unique, poorly understood but semi-observable properties and behaviors, most notably in its use as the catalyst for few capable species to perform magic, which cannot be done without it. It has an atomic number of 124 and an atomic mass of 302.
Antiquity and Early Middle Ages
The exact circumstances of Red Matter's discovery are unknown, but written records dating from the mid 11th century speak of a crimison 'aether' that when condensed into liquid allowed a 'chosen few' to perform miracles. One such individual in this category is the famous ancient wizard Merlin.
Red Matter must be contained within a receptacle in order to be utilized, preferably a specially designed one to increase focus and precision of the spellcasting. Containment methods at this time were crude and limiting, as early wands were fashioned out of materials such as wood and bone, sealed with substances such as tar, tree sap and animal bodily fluids which were not entirely effective in containing Red Matter. Leakages were common, resulting in the power of the user diminishing over time if the core was not replenished. This was exacerbated by the fragility of the channeling devices and the prohibitively expensive and arduous nature of obtaining the material. Red Matter at this time was an exotic substance only found in the colder regions of the planet, which were largely inaccessible to most societies. Because effective sealants and refrigeration did not exist, transportation of the red matter without evaporation was also extremely difficult. Finally, impurities in cores themselves also were detrimental to magical energy projection.
The Age of Sail
Wizarding societies began to form due to greater prevalence of magic during the Age of Sail, during which expanding empires fielded large fleets of ships that heralded the beginning of an era of exploration, international trade and warfare. Red Matter, though still very difficult to obtain, could now be shipped from location to location providing their containers were sealed, thus not allowing the liquid to dissipate into the atmosphere despite turning into gas.
In the early 1500s, an unnamed mage became notorious among magical communities for his reviled practice of creating animal-human hybrids. He was exiled from his homeland, but found refuge in the faraway continent of Australia, which was largely uninhabited by advanced civilization. The resultant conversion of the island's natives eventually culminated in the creation of the sentient species Anthro-feralis which to this day have very trace amounts of Rm within their biology.
During the era where piracy plagued the seas, magical pirate crews would often raid ships carrying Rm from mining sites, either to replenish their slowly depleting supplies, or to increase their own power and capabilities. Thus, nations across the seas would constantly compete with each other in order to secure Rm deposits, which became as valuable if not more than gold. This was done for a number of reasons: with the intention to increase their power and magical influence via their state-sanctioned wizards, for scientific research and study, or to confiscate the exotic material in a bid to wage holy war against the supernatural heretics.
Rm to some extent was used as both a justification to invade and to maintain control over territories acquired by European powers in the colonial Americas. Having not reached the technological level to refine or obtain red matter themselves, Native Americans were easily subjugated by European wizards, who were backed up by already technologically superior militaries and the introduction of disease. However, colonial states did not always remain in this state; by the late 18th century, the Thirteen British Colonies on the eastern coast of North America had enough stored Red Matter and wizards of their own to put up an adequate resistance against, and eventually win, a war of independence against the British Empire to become the United States of America.
Red Matter has an extremely low boiling point, evaporating and dispersing into gaseous form at temperatures of only 21°C (69.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Red Matter is only effective for channeling magical energy in a solid or liquid state, as vaporization appears to nullify the effects.
Red Matter is currently the highest atomic mass element known to man, and all attempts at synthesizing it artificially have been unsuccessful as of 2029. It is theorized that the bizarre nature of the element itself allows for an island of stability to be maintained despite its high atomic mass suggesting that it should rapidly undergo decay. Red Matter exhibits no unusual properties and is not radioactive, emitting no alpha, beta or gamma wavelengths and by all measures appearing inert until handled by a wizard.
Instrumentation readings taken of the substance upon contact with a magically gifted individual yield no conclusive answers, as readings are inconsistent and nonsensical, as if randomized. This however actually is useful for its purpose of facilitating quantum computing in magi-tec computers.
Rm must be kept pure when used to conduct magical energy. Impurities in the core will result in at best, weakening of the magical energy cast, and at worst, depending on how compromised the material is, extreme malfunctions or erratic applications of the intended magical act performed.