Tuesday, August 27, 2019

In The Shades of Moon Orchards

When the Earth stopped turning and the Sun and Moon froze in the sky, the Dark Elves emerged from their tunnels to find a cold land, unplagued by their great stellar nemesis. In the light of the eternally-eclipsed Moon, its bloody colors portending their ascendance, they would set upon scheming and building their Dark Empire.

But an Empire would need food - a resource frustratingly limiting the factions of the earth. Even if they supplemented their society with undead labor and proxy states, it would not be enough. Unfortunately, the Drow were clever - their Wizards and Clerics delved deep into memories long lost, venturing with fanatic bravery to consult with disgraced and dangerous courtiers, soul-stealing liches and maddened prophets, in hopes of finding their science.

And indeed, this is what they found. So then resumed the long-abandoned art of Lunaculture.

There are certain plants which may be grown only in the light of the Moon, and some yet rarer only in its eclipse. They cannot survive, or mature too quickly, or conclude their reproductive cycles in the Sun's rays, and either wither or lose all potency. In olden days, those who feared the Sun would cultivate secret orchards in covered pits - keeping the gardens in complete darkness, except when the Moon alone peaked in the sky.

These orchards were difficult to hide from the Day Elves of Old - their propensity for finding hidden entrances made concealing them an unwinnable war. The trees and plants could not mature before they were found and exposed to the Sun, and its tenders captured or slaughtered. The practice was abandoned by the Dark Elves, in favor of deep horticulture.

Yet, the plants still live, and their lines have not forgotten their moon-kissed effects.


Image in Public Domain
Dentes Sanguine

A finicky plant, requiring the perfect balance of conditions to grow, most notably with the watering of blood. Without blood, it grows into a tiny and hard bitter fruit, unworthy of consumption. With proper care, however, it will form gorgeously plump blood red fruits, like clusters of engorged ticks. Normally, the plant would acquire blood by quickly draining passing-by animals that prick on its supernaturally blood-gorging thorns, making its cultivation a dangerous task. Its berries are a favorite of blood-drinking species, such as vampires, stirges, and giant bats, and will draw them out as if by enchantment for miles and miles to feed in a Bloodwine Court.

Vessel Tree

Shoots and spreads into the air like veins growing into tissue. A tree without leaves or buds. Its 'wood' - a fleshy, pulsing material - will hold the soul of one buried in its roots, ensuring said person shall remain in this world and never proceed to the afterlife. Used to spite martyrs and to protect the supremely wicked from divine justice. When cut or chopped, the tree will bleed a pungent sweet sap in the color of the blood of its vessel-object, which is used in making expensive perfumes that render the subject resistant to divine magic and retribution.

Luna Lilium
Moon Lily

Lilies grown in only moonlight take far longer to grow, but what is lost in convenience is made up for in potency. It can take years for a vine to mature this way, but it keeps the neutralizing sunlight purged. Moon Lilies grown in only moonlight blossom for but a day. By deadheading the moonlight blossoms, they may stay in bloom up to a two weeks, during which time they produce a scent that contains the potency of the Full Moon. Werewolves will shapeshift upon catching whiff, people will be driven mad, and rituals which may normally be undertaken only under the full Moon may be performed.

From Jim Henson's Labyrinth.
Scientia Oculus
Beholder Moss

It begins as a crusty grey lichen - dry, uninteresting, and rare. Exposed to continuous moonlight, it matures: an earthy green-brown bearing dozens of light-catching receptacles, or 'eyes', resting upon stiff rubbery stalks. Bright light, such as that of the sun, cause the eyes to shutter, while only that of softer kinds bares their open attention. When 'shuttering', the moss secretes a nerve toxin, potentially stunning would-be gardeners by causing severe seizures. This, among other magics, is one of the chief components in the highly-poisonous Robe of Eyes, whose crafting has permanently mutilated and paralyzed many would-be master tailors.

Speculum Devoratrix
Bloody Mary's Bane

A fungus most horticulturalists believe to be mundane and uninteresting, with an appearance like silver ripples of flowing, descending lava, and an earthy scent. However, when grown upon a reflective surface bearing the Moon's image it gains an unsightly pale glow, and it activates its true potential - it breaks down and eats reflections like they were rotting wood. Place the activated form upon a mirror, and the subjects' reflections will be infected. Over time that which lives in the mirror will slowly wilt away as the fungus eats at their flesh - zombifying and wilting them away to a husk. A person's reflection will not return if destroyed this way, resulting in vampirism in most species.

Midnight Phlox

Thought extinct. Vigorously chopped and burned whenever found. A dull green grass laced with supple bulbs eventually producing glossed, candied-magenta flowers. Upon blooming at midnight produces a scent that only dreaming children may smell, described as akin to gingerbread or sometimes turkish delight. It lures them in a sleepwalk towards the source, sometimes en masse, often resulting in various predators eating said children upon the Phlox's soil. For the rest of the growing season, it will seen a harmless, bulbous green grass. It is rumored that the scent may be reproduced for adults if the unbloomed bulbs are cooked just so under the moon.

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