|Description||Bottle stopper deeply imbued with spirit|
To heroes, the ancient cork is a mystical talisman offering protection in battle and the promise that there will always be another drinking session round the corner. To the average denizen of Godville, it's proof that adventurers are truly touched by the gods.
In the days before the invention of the metal bottle cap, brewers & vintners settled on the use of cork as the bottle stopper of choice. Experiments with wax and resin seals had proven to impart odd flavours to the brew, much to the disgust of the supping hero. Cork had the advantage of being easily procured from woodland, simple to work and, provided the bottle was kept horizontal, didn't spoil. A side effect of the last was that the cork would absorb some of the liquid contained in the bottle. It is unknown who the first heroine was who decided to keep such an alcohol-infused cork as a reminder of past drinking bouts and the promise of more to come.
Due to the aforementioned switch to metal caps as bottle closures, truly ancient and boozy corks that are still in a durable enough condition to attract heroes are a rare find indeed. Much profit can be had scavenging the wine cellars of long abandoned guild halls for rare vintages (with the added benefit of being able to sample the brews of a bygone age). Digging on the trail between towns, while running the risk of upsetting a mole or worse can also occasionally unearth a bottle dropped by a hero in a moment of panic. For the unscrupulous trader, there is always the option of cutting cork blocks to shape and soaking them in any dark liquid for a day or two. These faux-ancient corks are a magnet for a gullible or particularly drink-sodden heroine.
Care and maintenance
The savvy hero will often use a thong cut from a leather wineskin in an attempt to use sympathetic magic to enhance the powers of his talisman. This will also protect the fragile cork from the strains of combat and the occasional outburst of divine petulance from a goddess. It is also recommended that the ancient cork be soaked in strong beer as needed to prevent it from drying out and crumbling to dust.