Jolmah, the Demon's Touch
References to suicide
The jolmah, meaning "Demon's Touch" in Qaj, better known as "Devilweed", is a plant that grows all over Arjin, to the great chagrin of its inhabitants. It is a bushlike plant with a single stem and several large, green leaves. It usually grows near trees but can sometimes be found in shrubberies and solitarily on plains.
If it wasn't for its one defining feature, this plant would be completely forgotten and unremarkable. The Devilweed grows in tight clusters, forming a bush of large leaves on thin, hairy stems. The leaves are dark green and can grow as large as an adult's chest in area. They are thin and spongy to the touch, and have a dull, dark green color except in mid summer when they turn a brighter green. The stems are a bright green, leaning towards yellow.
The entire plant is covered in tiny, translucent hairs that are so thin that they are hard to make out with the naked eye. If the sun strikes the plant, the hairs can be seen as a silvery shimmer across the surface of the plant, with longer, more visible hairs covering the stem. But make no mistake, the hairs are present on the leaves as well, both the upside and underside.
I have never experienced anything worse than this. Child-birth is a cake-walk by comparison. The pain consumed my entire mind. It was the only thing I could think of. I was in a constant state of panic, wanting to flee the pain, but it was everywhere. There was nowhere to flee. I was nearly driven out of my mind by it.
A monster in disguise
Unfortunately the Devilweed is not as unremarkable as it looks. It is extraordinarily toxic. The tiny, transparent hairs covering its stem and leaves function as hypodermic needles. If one as much as brushes against the plant with any exposed skin, the plant will inject enough poison to cause excruciating and debilitating pain. The pain is so all encompassing that the person exposed largely lose their ability to think straight, walk or even talk. It's a stinging and burning sensation that in most cases overwhelms the senses of the creature affected.
The Demon's Touch
The poison has been described as "the touch of a demon" and in some of the western dialects, the plant is even refered to as the "Demon's Touch", jolmah. Most people describe the sensation as a sharp, burning sensation that begins right as you touch the plant, localized to the place of contact, but that it rapidly spreads through the body, as if carried by the blood, in white-hot iron burning lines across the body. It peaks as an all-encompassing, seething, piercing pain that peaks with every beat of the heart. It is felt everywhere at once, as if the entire body was on fire.
It is so powerful an experience that many animals affected by the poison will seek to end their lives to escape the pain through drowning or diving off of cliffs. Several people throughout history have reportedly also ended their lives as a last resort to try and escape the pain. For this reason, the Devilweed has been given the gruesome nickname of the "Suicide plant".
Touched by a demon
While the toxin, thankfully, isn't actually dangerous, the pain can absolutely be. The toxin itself leaves no lasting damage on the body once it passes, but the strain and stress put on the body by the overloaded nervous system can cause muscle snapping, sinew breaking, ruptured blood vessels and even heart attacks. Even extreme exposure won't damage the skin or tissue itself, but the effects of the body suffering through the pain can be harmful.
The pain will completely debilitate the person affected by it, and the small hairs on the stem and leaves of the Devilweed easily break off of the plant when disturbed, leading to the pain lasting for extremely long periods of time. While most subjects will fully recover within a week of exposure there are records in history about people having a stinging pain lasting for several years, coming and going as they move and irritate the affected area. Skilled physicians can usually remove most of the broken off hairs, and thus reduce the time it takes to recover.
With proper treatment, the pain lasts for about 48 hours before the toxin has broken down enough to not affect the creature anymore. During these 48 hours the person is in such pain that they are largely unable to do anything. Drinking, talking, moving and eating are all extremely difficult and trying to eat or drink can lead to severe vomiting due to the pain. Sleeping is usually impossible as well, as the pain triggers so many of the body's defensive mechanisms, the stress is simply too tough on the body to allow sleep.
After the first 48 hours the pain subsides somewhat and the person can usually return to relative normality, in spite of still being in severe pain. After a about week, the person is usually completely symptom free, unless there are still hairs left in their skin.
Understandably, the plant have caused Kykr society to eradicate it wherever they find it. But the plant is prolific and, as previously mentioned, quite unremarkable and tend to blend into the environment. While you will rarely find large bushes of Devilweed near any settlements, in the wild you are still very likely to come across one.
Children and assassins
With such a potent poison, you would expect unsavory assassins would leverage it, but seeing as the Devilweed is relatively harmless beyond causing excrutiating pain, no known case of intentionally poisoning someone with Devilweed in order to murder them has ever been recrorded. It is, however, both a common torture method and a common, devious prank to intentionally strike someone with a leaf of Devilweed. However, most children only do it once. What sounded like a fun trick to play on someone turns to a week of pain and torture for their friend and they quickly learn their lesson. Provided they didn't already inflict it on themselves, trying to harvest the plant. One tiny mistake and you prick yourself, leading to your own week of misery.
Jolmah (Demon's Weed)
Decay: 1 week
Shock: 0 / 3 / 6
Scratch: Extreme stinging and burning sensation on the spot of contact. The pain subsides within an hour.
Light Injury: Extreme, all encompassing, unbearable pain paralyses the bodypart that came into contact with the toxin.
Serious Injury: Utterly debilitating pain. A burning, seething, stinging, unbearable pain that completely prevents the person from doing anything but focusing on enduring the pain.
Fatal injury: An absolutely agonizing, unbearable pain drives the person insane and their only recourse is to kill themselves. Alternatively the pain is so strong it causes heart failure.
The mainland and home of the Kykr civilisation. The cradle of civilisation, Arjin is a huge and diverse continent.
The "kykr" are the dominant civilisation of the world, encompassing three sapient species: The Illim, the Vindral and the Kuna. They rule over the continent of Arjin in a diverse collection of cultures and nations.
The majority language of the west. The cultures of the Morvátian Peninsula all speak Qaj as their majority language. It is clipped, guttural and brutal, much like the people speaking it.