Due to the prohibitive cost of phoenix feathers, only the city’s wealthiest and most esteemed are allowed to return from the dead. Some hide their plumes among the down of their pillows to prevent death from taking them in their sleep, while others wrap them in smoky bouquets, then stockpile them in refrigerated vaults. Even with such wonders available, however, the population at large still sees immortality as impossible, as each quill costs more money than most will ever make in a lifetime.
Despite the prevailing pessimism, there exists a thriving industry built around exploiting those who seek to bypass this economic barrier. For instance, the plumes of kerosene spirits are often sold as counterfeit phoenix feathers in local markets. Though these cannot actually restore life, they still produce a convincing effect of having done so. When used correctly, the corpse left behind is cremated by the plume, and an image of it rises from the ashes as a simulacrum of smoke and light. This conjuration persists for several hours before fading into embers, and during that time, can even accurately mimic the mannerisms of the deceased.
Though many have been fooled by this gimmick over time, some who cannot afford the genuine article still choose to purchase kerosene feathers deliberately. They know that the miracle produced is ‘false,’ yet they still find ways to take advantage of its falsehood; for example, by applying a layer of mirage thickener to the deceased’s replica, they can make it tangible, and prevent it from dissipating altogether. After enough regular applications of this salve, the mirage becomes permanently solid, rendering it physically no different from the person it replaced. When their ghost finally returns to its flesh, it’s almost as though nothing happened at all.
Given this, there is actually no practical or biological difference between those revived by phoenix feathers and those restored through the power of illusion. There is only one distinction which seems to prevent their equivalence: the former refuses to recognize the latter as truly being alive.