The Orphans of Cathorna
With pale white leaves and rubbery yellow tendrils, the corpse vine is suspiciously similar in appearance and nature to the Yellow Musk Creeper , though different enough that I can convince myself it’s a product of my own genius. Growing much like a surface climber like grapevine or perhaps nasturtiums, its thick woody trunk anchors itself to rock walls via filamentous hairs growing from a surface web of roots, making it very hard to detach quickly. The tendrils and leaves are tough and resilient, but vulnerable to fire. Black ellipsoidal seeds up to an inch long sprout in clusters from the branches, crackling and exploding when burned.
The corpse vine is weakly motile; its tendrils can slowly (inches per hour) move along the ground, questing for prey. On encountering a creature, the sharp, toughened tips of the tendrils seek out softer body parts and orifices, penetrating and growing into and through the body, drawing it slowly towards the trunk where more tendrils grow through it. Over an unknown period of time, the body is suffused with yellow goo, becoming animate. It is not clear whether the body is under the plant’s control, but on detecting potential prey, captured creatures pull free from the tendrils (possibly giving the illusion of rapid motion) and attack. Captured prey’s blood is replaced by disgusting yellow goo; in some cases black seeds occur within the goo, much like seeds in passionfruit pulp. Controlled prey sometimes emits a yellow gas of indeterminate effect, both breathing it out and releasing it from the body cavity when attacked.
Only one of these creatures has been encountered: in the metal mine in Thror’s Hills in June 1640. Beckett took seed and leaf samples.
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