How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Eberron
Like many planes, the Elemental Chaos sometimes comes in contact with the Material Plane. These overlaps allow for native creatures of either realm to travel back and forth. Most often, people from Eberron do no venture into the dangerous realms of the Chaos, but the elementals often visit or stumble into Eberron. It is at this point that many are caught and bound to physical items. This process is called elemental binding.
Elven historians trace the arcane method of binding back to the Qabalrin sect in the deep of Xen’drik. Masters of conjuration, the Qabalrin were able to collect vast amounts of dragonshards During their experiments, they found the Khyber variety of dragonshard had energies that drew in chaotic energy, and having spent time travelling the planes, they began to trap elementals. The shard acts as both a maze and a turbine, allowing the elemental to run wild through a complex network within the shard, generating arcane energy.
Years later, explorers hired by the Zil Triumvirate founds records and implements of the Qabalrin’s experiments, and used them to develop the method used today. These methods remain a close-guarded secret of the gnomes, but they work in conjuction with several dragonmarked houses. Bound elementals now power the lightning rail, airships, personal magical devices like armor, and more.
The organization overseeing the use of bound elementals and their binding is the Inmost (founded in 793 YK), a group founded by gnomish artificer Harkra Loivaerl Lonadar. Her right-hand man and third cousin, Illivanik Istravar Lonadar, roams the country, overseeing all the binders, dropping in for surprise inspections (one famous inspection kept King Boranel’s personal lightning rail in Aruldusk for two weeks).
One of the conflicts within the organization (and a debate within the magical community at large) is the sentience of the elementals. Some gnomish binders, under the banner of the “Power of Purity”, as well as liberal wizards and arificers throughout the continent, claim that rational parlay with the elementals would be more humane and get better results from their binding. This kind of thinking is considered as a threat to the profit of elemental devices, and is discouraged by most House heads.