Hemalilia, "Bloody Nettle"

Written by Regulus_Vaikyn

In all my years of travel and documentation, never have I happened across something so grotesquely gorgeous. A strange plant that grows from the corpses of its virus-inflicted victims - how horrid! How exciting! I wonder what else may be just around the corner...
— Dr. Lukail Partome
The Hemalilia plant, commonly known as and referred to as "Bloody Nettle," is a strange, red and white colored thorn-shrub with an exceptionally unique reproductive cycle. By some unknown means, the plant has become capable of "piggy-backing" its own DNA onto the DNA of an equally unique type of virus that it produces, allowing it to bloom from the corpses of its victims.
This process alone has generated horror stories and folk-lore from cultures all around the world, everything from it actually being a sentient demon come to avenge the death of Balraious-Kaneig, to a creation of Byalijhoar, The Wild One, sent to cull the civilized lands. Whatever the case may be, should you come into contact with one of these plants, seek immediate medical attention, as without it you are likely to perish within forty-eight hours.

Basic Information

Anatomy

The Hemalilia plant appears as a sickly white colored thorny bush, with deep crimson red colorations throughout its stem and branches. Its branches are typically widest toward the base of the stem, then tapering to become much thinner towards the top.  The red color comes from the viral solution the plant produces as part of its reproductive cycle. As such, this material coats the outside of its thorns, prepared to suffuse any creature unlucky enough to scrape across the plant - or worse, attempt to eat it.

Genetics and Reproduction

The reproductive cycle of Hemalilia is perhaps one of the most horrifying things I have been unfortunate enough to witness. What it does to an individual's form is nightmarish - a parasite perfectly made to kill any form of blooded-animal...
Dr. Margrave, on the processes of Bloody Nettle
Perhaps the most frightening aspect of the plant is its unique manner of reproduction, thanks to the bizarre symbiotic relationship between the plant and its virus. When a victim is infected with the virus, either by contact with a living specimen of Bloody Nettle or through other infected material, the virus immediately seeks out and targets blood cells in hemoglobin-based blood. Once there, it spreads both its DNA and the Hemalilia DNA into the target, which begins a standard viral producing practice but with some notable differences. The virus is produced in mass quantities of course, but it also forces the cell to create parts of Hemalilia cells, which divert the immune system's response away from the virus. This allows the virus to continue nearly unabated in all but the strongest of immune system cases, often causing death by overheating several areas of the body at once - this is the reasoning for the name of the condition it causes: Blood Fever

Once the virus has run its course and slain its victim, the remaining Hemalilia cells begin to spread through the now stagnant blood vessels, eventually growing into a full specimen of Bloody Nettle atop the now desiccated corpse.

Ecology and Habitats

Bloody Nettle can exist in nearly any location on Alore, though it is most commonly found in areas were animal life flourishes, such as forests, plains, and jungles. The highest concentration of Hemalilia is as such theorized to be present within the boughs of the Misted-Hollow in Gjalvalore, due to its high concentration of animal life, but also perhaps due to the influence of Byalijhoar, The Wild One, though theories on this matter are scarce at best.
Whether its in the forests of Ysrailore, the deserts of Tyrralore, or the tundras of Saeralore, so long as any form animal life exists in a location, Hemalilia can crop up.

Additional Information

Uses, Products & Exploitation

Bloody Nettle - since its discovery by the late Dr. Lukail Partome - has been used by the more nature-savvy cultures of Alore as a form of passive defense for their villages. In effect, these societies - mostly Arbo-kin or denizens of The Misted-Hollow - would dig ditches in certain locations around their homes and villages, and toss down an infected creature into them. This allows the Hemalilia to form in said ditch, which would then be covered by a thin layer of thatch, leaves, branches, and the like to mask its presence among the forest floors.
However, this manner of trap does eventually create a horrible smell of rot once enough creatures fall victim to it. To counteract this, the traps are placed far enough from the town for the smell to not become bothersome. In locations were this distance tactic is unable to be suitably preformed, the use of pungent smelling plant materials will typically be used to mask the smell of rot and decay. Eventually, the pits would be cleaned out with fire of some kind, then replanted to ensure the efficacy of the traps.  

Cultural Perception

For many of the world's cultures, Bloody Nettle serves as a warning against nature, and as reasoning and justification for the necessity of society and civilization. Other cultures or individuals simply view it as a tool provided by nature to be used in some way, whether it be in the defense of one's village and homestead, or as a potential treatment of an incurable condition. But perhaps those who view it most importantly are those of faith - specifically, the faith of the Wild one - who view it in the light of natural teachings. Or more precisely, that it is a gift from their lord that is emblematic of nature itself: it grows, well adapted to its unique method of reproduction, it sustains itself from the world around it - mostly the foolish who pay it little mind - then it dies to make way for other lives.
Scientific Name
Hemalilia
Lifespan
Bloody Nettle clusters are typically rather short-lived, as the material used to create the accompanying virus is quite taxing to the plant as a whole. As such, they only tend to last at most one year.
Average Height
7' 3" (2.2 m)
Average Weight
32 lbs (14.5 kg)
Geographic Distribution
The effects of the Hemalilia plant when applied in this manner can only be described as wholeheartedly gruesome. But, I am convinced that the unique interactions between this virus and hemoglobin could be the key to creating fake blood that can actually sustain Vampires of any breed. No matter the cost, this treatment will ultimately save more lives than my experiments can ever claim. Besides, no one will miss a few bandits or vagabonds.
— Journal Excerpt of Dr. Margrave

Additional Details: Research of Dr. Margrave

Dr. Margrave, an equally well-respected and hated figure of the Ysrailorean town of Heartspire, has dedicated her life to the study of these plants for the purpose - she claims - of creating a form of treatment for Vampirism. Though her means may be morally questionable, she has managed to garner a surprising amount of information regarding the plant and the effects of its accompanying disease.
  • Firstly, due to the plant's unique interaction with blood, Vampires and similarly afflicted creatures appear to be immune to the effects of Blood Fever.
  • Second, the exsanguinated blood from the victims of Bloody Nettle carries a large enough amount of viral material to be just as hazardous as the plant itself
  • And thirdly, while her research has thus far been inconclusive in this regard, she remains confident that Bloody Nettle can be used as a sort-of plant based "fake blood" that is suitable enough for Vampires to subsist on sustainably.

Comments

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20 Mar, 2021 15:05

Thank you for the nightmare fuel! It is absolutely terrifying and explained fairly well so that it feels somewhat plausible, especially in fantasy-themed worlds. I also like the morally questionable attitude of this Dr. Margrave.

21 Mar, 2021 12:03

Of course! That is my intent with this entire project to be honest - just because its not real doesn't mean it can seem real. I want to ensure that most, if not everything I produce here has reason in some way. Thank you for the comment!

21 Mar, 2021 13:55

Your welcome! I did think of one last thing that might add to the article: an image of the plant. I find that it sticks longer than a description. Just a quick sketch should be enough. ;)

25 Mar, 2021 15:27

I love how it's used for biological warfare (ahem.. though I do not condone the use of biological weapons of any kind.. ahem)   Great article!


Let us unite against the enemies of Album!
25 Mar, 2021 18:06

Indeed - certainly a grotesque method of dealing with invaders! Most of often surprised by how startlingly effective such simple traps can be.   Thank you for the comment!

26 Mar, 2021 23:21

Oh what a unique way of reproduction via a virus, I like it! Seems like a truly scary plant when you read about the blood fever it can give. Interesting how the vampires seem to be immune to it as well. Nice article!

Feel free to check out My Ship entry if you want to see what I am up to!
27 Mar, 2021 12:13

Quite! It's a strange, symbiotic relationship where the plant cells act as a form of bulwark for the virus during the infection, allowing it to propagate - which in turn allows it to sprout from the corpse once the virus has run through completely.   Thank you for the comment!

26 Mar, 2021 23:28

Well THIS is nightmare fuel. Thank goodness they oy live a year, or I'd see them taking over civilization. Yikes!   Is there some sort of sanitation protocol for when someone dies of this in a populated area?

Author of Fillimet, bright fantasy land of possibilities, and Vazdimet, its darker spacefaring future.
27 Mar, 2021 12:22

Indeed there is! It depends where in the world it sprouts up for the exact details, but it usually involves containing the plant - along with anything or anyone that was infected - and seeing what can be done to aid those that have been contaminated without spreading it further. Usually, the disease takes its toll before help can arrive, leaving the remains to be burned away in cleansing fire. Though if a cleric, healer, or apothecary is near, the death toll can often be reduced to single digits - if any.   Thank you for the comment!

31 Mar, 2021 16:42

I love how you've got things like research notes in this article. Makes everything seem more real. What a terrifyingly interesting plant. :D

1 Apr, 2021 00:20

Quite! Something I try to focus on is a full integration of whatever I make into as much of the world as possible. Of course, there is a lot to cover, and sometimes mistakes occur, but I believe that having one or two things that fit very well in the world is a better option compared to multiple cool , surface level concepts.   Thank you for the comment!

31 Mar, 2021 19:10

Hello! Congrats for this entry, that was a well-written and creepy article. I really liked your choices of words when describing the various aspects of this plant, they worked well at tone-setting.   Regarding the plant's reproduction method, I wouldn't suggest to give too much detail, so as not to suspend the audience's disbelief: a virus is an excessively simple entity, and barely holds a few hundred genes. Even the most complex megavirus, which phylogenetic origin is still unclear, barely have as much genes as the simples bacteria. As for plants, well, their genetic heritage vary a lot, but they typically hold several thousands of genes, much more than a virus could reasonnably contain. In order to keep that reproduction method, perhaps you could turn to some form of parasitic bacteria?   Or just keep it to a virus, and the audience will suspend their disbelief.   As for the rest of the plant, I liked the cultural perception it had. Is such a plant a reason for people to push toward an ever more industrialized and artificial world?   Finally, I appreciated the potential uses for vampires you made on the sidebar. I'd just like to warn you of a typo: "the blood of victim IS carries..." --> "carries".   Good job in any case!

With love,   Pouaseuille.   I finally participated to The Costume Challenge: here's an entry if you like!
1 Apr, 2021 00:40

Interesting. I certainly didn't consider how the simplicity of a virus could effect its utility as a delivery mechanism. Perhaps instead of a true virus, it could be something like "attack" plant cells that deliver it directly instead - ah, thoughts for later!   It can certainly be seen one of a multitude of reasons to avoid the natural world, especially given the common distain amongst such cultures for the Wild One (god of nature, no article yet, but hopefully soon!).   Found the typo, thank you for pointing that one out!   Comments like this show a vested interest in the work to be this detailed. My cold heart warms at the touch of these words (Is that cringe? I'm not sure >.>). In any case, thank you very much for your appreciation, and the lovely comment!

1 Apr, 2021 07:10

Thanks to you! I'm just trying to give some decent feedback, I'm glad it is appreciated :)   An option if you wanted to have the formation of plant cells directly inside the victim's blood could be to have some of the plant's seminal cells, or germinated seeds, to be transported by a blood parasite: I'm thinking of organisms like Plasmodium, Tripanosoma, Toxoplasma, these bad boys. Such organisms are bigger, and you could imagine some big enough to transport a few plant cells in a state of dormancy along with them. Anyway, that was just a random thought passing by, not imposing anything on your world!

With love,   Pouaseuille.   I finally participated to The Costume Challenge: here's an entry if you like!
Journeyman David_Ulph
David Alexander
1 Apr, 2021 08:44

Awesome article! A great introduction to your world, Regulus (nice to meet ya ;-) ).. and definitely got me hooked enough to follow!

Latha math leat! Sending praise from the Hebrides! Check my Summer Camp ramblings out here
1 Apr, 2021 12:01

Thank you kindly! I always appreciate new regulars (likewise, nice to meet you as well)!

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
7 Apr, 2021 14:06

Gotta say, right off the bat: grotesquely gorgeous is a description that will never cease to get my attention. Well done, my friend. I love the twisted take on plant life here. The way it can reproduce due to the virus is just super interesting. Makes me wonder how it came about, like possibly a symbiotic relationship working a little too well. Excellent job. Good luck!

7 Apr, 2021 21:45

Aye! Taking something tame or mundane and making it vicious certainly appears to be something I to enjoy. Kind-of like, "You've heard of stinging nettle? How about we take that make it super lethal in a semi-believable way, and still have a somewhat normal-ish world?" Perhaps I shall delve further into its origins once I develop the divines of the world a bit better. >.>   Eventually...   Thank you for the comment!

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
12 Apr, 2021 12:35

Great plant and very nice reproduction mechanism! The relationship with the virus is super interesting and the potential link with the vampires is also intriguing :D   Although like Pouaseuille I had to suspend my disbelief at the fact that the virus would be able to transport the enormous genome of the plant – virus also mutate quickly and get read of all unnecessary genetic material, so they would not have kept the genes of the plant for very long. The idea you have of replacing that with specialised plant cells is a good one IMO, as well as the parasites that Pouaseuille suggested. We also have symbiotic bacteria in our body and even inside our cells (the mitochondria in animal and the chloroplast in plants for example are thought to be descended from bacteria). So some form of cooperation between them for attacking a host would be somewhat plausible.   "No matter the cost, this treatment will ultimately save more lives than my experiments can ever claim. Besides, no one will miss a few bandits or vagabonds." Love that XD   As it's a blood-based virus, it would only be able to contaminate other people through body fluid, right? You say that contaminated people need to seek medical assistance immediately if they don't want to die. Does that mean that there are way to fight against the virus? How long are the victim capable of moving around once they've bene prickled by the thorns?   You don't mention how the plant feeds before it is able to reproduce. Does it have leaves and photosynthesise?

12 Apr, 2021 15:38

Indeed, I have plans to replace mention of a virus across this and related articles with some manner of "attack cell" parasite produced by the plant once the competition is over - this comment cements that as something that will have to change here. I originally went with a virus since that was, I believed, easy to understand in function, though that merely seemed to reveal that there was still much to learn about them!   There is a form of treatment for the disease caused by the nettle (likely needs an update as well >.>) but I had thought that leaving that to the Blood Fever article and merely mentioning that here would be enough. Another thing to update once the challenge is finished!   Aye, it seems I have forgotten to state how it feeds - big oof. It subsists off of the bloody mess of a corpse that the Blood Fever leaves behind, though once that is depleted it attempts to spread to other dead material in its surroundings. This usually does not grant it enough nutrients to sustain itself, unless there are other corpses nearby.   Hopefully, this addresses the above in a suitable manner. I really appreciate comments like this - it shows just how much there is to learn about writing, be it for worldbuilding or otherwise. Thank you very much for your comment!

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
12 Apr, 2021 15:49

Glad my comment was helpful :D And thanks for you answer. I just realised I forgot to check the Blood Fever article... Anyway, I'll have to come read the article again after you update it :D I also have a list of things to update in my article once the challenge is finished and I can finally go above that horrible word count limit XD   Yes there is always something new to learn. I'm a scientist but I still feel my knowledge is inadequate to make something properly plausible. Still it's a good occasion to have fun learning new stuff :D

16 Apr, 2021 01:47

Hey Regulus!   Wonderful job creating a fear-inducing plant. The growth of a plant from a desiccated corpse is wonderfully macabre, and I like how you've made its entire reproductive cycle the product of a virus and spreading of disease. My only suggestion is to consider adding line breaks between your paragraphs and sections for readability. Great job!

xtremepsy | Ölütanrı
Checkout my other favourite entries to the 2021 Peculiar Plant HERE!
Feel free to read, favourite, and comment on my entry, Digivine.
16 Apr, 2021 12:50

Glad to hear you liked it so much! It seems that line breaks continue to be a struggle for me upon first writing these, or even when proofreading once or twice. I'll go back through and add those in once the challenge ends to be sure.   Thank you for the comment!

16 Apr, 2021 13:12

I find that I have to use a lot of br bbcode in my writing to improve the layout. It takes some time and a lot of flipping between the edit page and the public one but you will eventually develop an instinct for how it works relatively quickly. I don't believe adding minor tweaks such as what we're discussing are forbidden during the share period (it's more about adding new content or heavy edits) but glad I could help!

xtremepsy | Ölütanrı
Checkout my other favourite entries to the 2021 Peculiar Plant HERE!
Feel free to read, favourite, and comment on my entry, Digivine.
16 Apr, 2021 20:08

I agree, this is the fuel of nightmares. And yet the mad scientist's research would be a great plothook in campaigns and such. Who knows, it might work so well, vampires get more victims so they can feed them to the plants...

Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young
18 Apr, 2021 01:10

Indeed! I certainly plan on using Margrave and her research in my campaign at some point, though the trick would be finding a way to do so naturally during what I have planned, but that's for me to chew on!   Thank you for the comment!