- "Then I saw it from afar, beautiful in its cold, unglowing evilness which was not like any lyrium I'd ever met. Even from there I could feel it: the bad intention, the desire to corrupt all that was good. I need it." ―Deceased apostate
Black lyrium is an extremely rare, potent and dangerous form of raw lyrium found in The Fade, more specifically in the Black City.
- "If 'Rage' is a fitting demon to compare with red lyrium, 'Pride' is the one I would use to describe black. An unnatural evil emanates from it, calling me, whispering in my head as I approach, always subtle and evil just because it enjoys causing corruption." ―Scholar notes
Unlike normal and red lyrium, it does not grow in root-like crystalline veins. Rather than that, black lyrium does not "grow": only a limited, preexisting amount of it can be found within the Black City, usually carved, but sometimes in crystalline form and shape. While it is a much more potent form of lyrium, it is far too dangerous to be used. Whereas red lyrium is known to thin the Veil and emanate a considerable heat, black lyrium does not possess any of these abilities. In the past some people wrongly thought black lyrium to emanate cold instead, but nowadays scholars know it's not entirely accurate: rather than emanating cold, it absorbs heat, causing sudden temperature drops. It does not interact in any known way with the Veil.
- "As I stepped through the gate, my vision went golden for a moment. An unnatural peace of spirit struck me as if universe itself was perfect in order and goodness with no sin known to inhabit it. Golden coloured lyrium crystals reached my sight and made me forget all bad feelings and memories. As I touched it, however, a flash of darkness blurred my sight and a second later everything that was golden and warm became black and cold and I was forced to fall asleep." ―Aeliana Valentus
While the origins of black lyrium are shrouded in mystery and superstition, according to the Chantry it was golden prior to the Blackening of the Golden City. Many scholars throughout the ages have questioned such a claim, but according to Aeliana Valentus it's truth: black lyrium was once golden and benevolent, but it was corrupted when the Magisters Sidereal, seven High Priests of the Old Gods, Corypheus among them, used blood magic to physically enter the Golden City. Though it's not known to which extent these claims are true, it means black lyrium does not grow and thus can only be found in preexisting forms within the Black City.
When the Magisters were expelled from The Fade, some of it was expelled alongside them into Thedas. Although most wouldn't dare messing with such a dangerous form of lyrium, there are people willing to spend lots of time and money in an effort to find even the tinniest amounts of it. Since black lyrium cannot be destroyed, it is highly dangerous and owning it is forbidden by the Chantry, which keeps most of it safely stored. It's unknown if it used to grow somehow before the Blackening.
While prolonged exposure to black lyrium does not induce gradual psychological or physical changes, it is a known fact that black lyrium will quickly drain one's magical energy and stamina when exposed to it, and start draining their lifeforce when there's no energy left to devour. Touching black lyrium is known to temporarily increase one's power tenfold, but it comes with a high price as it causes a powerful and incurable magical disease known as Soulrot, which will cause anyone who touched it to suffer severe spiritual damage and gradually become an Abomination, though in this case the demonic possession is complete and irreversible since the person's very soul is turned into a demonic spirit.
Consumption will cause one's power to be increase even further, enough to surpass that of a Great dragon, but it usually kills the one who consumed it in a few seconds. It depends on how much willpower the one who touched or consumed it possesses, but even an exceptionally strong will is not capable of withstanding its effects for too long.
Black lyrium is known to be lethal to spirits. Merely touching it will kill them, no matter if it is a good spirit or a demon, nor how powerful said spirit is or how much black lyrium touched them. Throwing any amount of it through a rift will seal it for good.
Also interesting are the effects of golden lyrium: there's only one piece of golden lyrium known to have survived the Blacknening. Aeliana carries it around all the time in a locket she crafted. Being exposed to golden lyrium will erase any negative feelings, heal diseases, dispel negative effects and shield those exposed to it against them. Touching it produces an even greater effect. Even powerful curses and magical diseases such as the Taint, demonic possession and the effects of red lyrium can be healed by directly touching golden lyrium. The only known exception is Soulrot. Demons who are touched by golden lyrium or by someone acting as a catalyst to golden lyrium are instantly healed by it and turned back into benevolent spirits. Using magic of any kind on Fade rifts while touching golden lyrium can seal them.
While it cannot heal Soulrot, it can shield one from it: while touching or too directly exposed to golden lyrium, such as with Aeliana's locket, one can touch and even consume black lyrium with no negative side effects. Though it can't heal those afflicted by Soulrot, exposure to golden lyrium will temporarily keep the disease from progressing. Darkspawn also can't be fully healed by golden lyrium, but exposure to it will cause them to temporarily regain sanity.
It will also constantly produce and keep a barrier to protect its toucher from attacks as long as said person remains in physical contact with it. The barrier can be broke, but the golden lyrium will eventually produce it again. While the effects of consuming golden lyrium are not known, it's theorized to create even greater protection.
- To some extent, black lyrium was based on the One Ring of LOTR, whereas golden lyrium was not really based on anything.
- It shall be used in the future for original stories. For anyone interested, I don't mind if you want to use it yourself in a story.