Ethylberry is an odd plant described in numerous texts, stories, mythologies and other such sources. It has been described as the dust of life, the first life on many new worlds, planted there by the gods, and once life has taken hold, the gods harvest it and move on. It has been the stuff of adventures, the object of quests and the prize of the Immortals.

In many tales, the goddess of the Harvest, Anabrax, is the keeper of Ethylberry, tending to hidden fields of it, planting where it is needed and then secreting it away when its use is done. When Anabrax was killed by the Horned God, the task of tending to Ethylberry passed on to another–some tales mention Atha, the goddess of Occasional Chaos, became the caretaker.

Lord Kabyl of Blanchefort wrote of encountering Ethylberry in his memoirs.

“I came upon an iron fountain tended to by the goddess Atha, at least she claimed to be a goddess, and there, growing around the base of the fountain in hard-packed earth under a purple sky, was a bed of mangy weeds. ‘This,’ she said, ‘is Ethylberry.’ With a simple clay pot and my bare hands, I was to pick a plant. The plants were compact and fibrous, dingy in appearance, with dark green leaves twisting about a central stalk. It sported a host of small yellow flowers that exuded a small but continual amount of lilting golden dust that took flight with the slightest of provocation. The plants were studded with savage thorns which penetrated my skin without resistance. The thorns were poisoned, and I felt my heart struggling to beat as my blood boiled. I felt my death coming …”

The goddess Atha is said to be the current caretaker of Ethylberry (Rebecca Sinz)

The dust from the Ethylberry plant has many properties. It encourages the beginnings of life, complete with rapid changes and evolution. It can nullify poisons, repair grievous wounds, enable magic spells, give everlasting vitality and return life to the dead.

The old Xaphan ruler Queen Ghome of Trimble was said to possess an overflowing urn of Ethylberry, or a lesser version of it, allowing her to change her appearance with ease.

copyright 2020, Ren Garcia

The Horvath Creeper in its favorite setting. (Carol Phillips)

The Horvath Creeper in its favorite setting. (Carol Phillips)

THE HORVATH CREEPER: AN ODDITY OF NATURE. The Horvath Creeper is a freshwater flowering plant native to the temperate regions of the planet Trimble, an N1 world in Xaphan space. Prior to human colonization in 000024AX, it was a slow-growing plant with a large, meaty flower requiring clean, still water and ample branches or twigs to cling to. A number of conditions had to be met in order for it to thrive and its mortality rate was high. Those specimens that did manage to grow large were often fed upon by local fauna.

However, that all changed when man came to Trimble several centuries back. The Creeper, in the presence of man, turned out to be a parasitic opportunist. Its spores had a tendency to collect in the maxillary sinus of any who breathed it in. In some cases, the spores actually sprouted, resulting in the death of the victim. Weeks after the person’s death, a flower would burst out of the victim’s skull. The Creeper found the brain matter of those possessing Gifts of Mind were rich in nutrients required for germination. In a few cases, people infected with the Creeper found themselves taken over by it. They were compelled to seek out calm pools of water and drown themselves in it. There, the Creeper would emerge, devouring the victim’s brain and using their skeletal structure as a framework from which to cling. In time the symptoms of carrying the Horvath Creeper’s spores became known: the inability to use the Gifts of the Mind, confusion, and a fervent desire to drown oneself.

Queen Ghome I of Trimble was enchanted by the macabre nature of the Creeper and added it to her deadly Garden of Zama. There, she bred it and enhanced its sinister characteristics until it became her favorite, and the phrase: “Where a Dead Man falls a flower grows.”

copyright 2013, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips