Rod of Quiends
The Rod of Quiends is an ancient artifact, apparently the product of a fairly advanced civilization, though it has been conclusively demonstrated that it is not a product of the Avazian culture, being apparently too recent to have been constructed by the Avazians. Because of its age, mystery, and location, it has been attributed to the Nitenmangrey culture—but then, so has just about everything else.
The history of the Rod of Quiends is somewhat obscure. It was discovered near the village of Shepenor sometime around -800 EC, where it was briefly used as the scepter of a local Hive-Lord. Because of its obvious intended function as a measuring tool, the Rod eventually became used a the standard of length in the Chesix System Of Measures (despite its strange unsuitability to the task). After being bounced around from research-institution to research-institution, it eventually was moved to the Aminfarances Institute of Science and Technomancy in -120 EC. It should be noted that despite the Rod's importance in Chesix measurement, it is quite possible that the measurement system predates the discovery of the Rod, and the length-standard was adjusted to accord with the Rod (slightly) because of its great importance.
The name of the Rod is something of a mystery, since nobody named "Quiends" was ever involved in its discovery or research, so far as we know. Nor can it be because of the village of Quiends near Shepenor (where the Rod was discovered), as that village did not even get the name "Quiends" until at least 60 years after the Rod had been found and named (in fact, the name of the village appears to derive from the name of the Rod, not the other way around). Prior to around -700 EC, the village was just a small cluster of huts and was called by the locals, "that small cluster of huts over yonder." There are many other explanations, each more ludicrous than the last. But really, the most plausible explanation for the name is almost too simple: the Rod was named for its "quiet ends," as described below.
Although a certain raving madman has had the temerity to claim that the Rod of Quiends originated on the backward island of Kebro-shepenor in the hands of the primitive Kev, such ridiculous assertions must be rejected out of hand. The barbaric inhabitants of that impoverished land could never even understand the technology to forge an ordinary metal rod, let alone one of such distinction as the Rod of Quiends. Moreover, the claimant is a known charlatan and fraud—or else completely delusional, and possibly both.
The Rod of Quiends is approximately 2.2 nanits long and cylindrical, with a diameter approximately 1/8 its length (approximately 3 inanits long). It is made of a hard metallic substance of unknown provenance, and is prominently marked along its length with circular markings of varying prominence, and flat polished ends. Its design makes it obvious that it is intended as a measuring tool (indeed, some markings on the Rod have been conclusively shown to be numerals—though not always the ones expected, based on their position), which is what earned it its honored status as the standard of length.
Perhaps the most renowned property of the Rod of Quiends is the fact that nothing else seems to be quite the same length as it. Even when measured and cut with the greatest precision, any object measured against it always seems to wind up just a bit too long or too short. The difference is rarely great, but always enough to be visible to a careful observer without any special equipment. So when we say that the Rod of Quiends is the standard of length, it's really the clear Quartzoid rods produced (with the greatest possible precision) by the scientists at the Institute that wind up being the practical standard. Fortunately, these rods, at least, appear to be fairly consistent at turning out to be about 0.8% too long (i.e., about 1.75 kinanit too long, or around 23 linanit—bear in mind that these measurements are made, perforce, by eye and estimation), and that's actually closer than just about anything else that has tried to be the same length as the Rod. It is not known why the Rod should exhibit such behavior; a few theorists have proposed that there is some mechanism akin to Awal shrinkage at work, but if so it is quite different from any Awal shrinkage phenomenon so far observed. Contrary to common assertions of the ignorant, the Rod does not "emit mysterious obith waves" or any other known radiation or energy field.
A lesser-known fact about the Rod of Quiends is that objects struck by its ends do not resonate anywhere near as much as one would expect. Banging the Rod of Quiends full-force on the loudest, best-tuned Obovox in the world would produce only a very faint sound. No fully satisfactory explanation has ever been offered for the Rod's "quiet ends," but they appear to be responsible for its name, as mentioned above.
Recently it was discovered (quite by accident, while the Rod was being shown on a traveling exhibition) that brandishing the Rod causes drowsiness in some animals (this explains some of the difficulty in researching it: we now know why so many researchers kept nodding off in mid-experiment). The effect is particularly pronounced in domesticated animals such as sheep.
--clsn 21:35, 9 Feb 2005 (EST)