Dragon Tooth Polyp Species in Araea | World Anvil

Dragon Tooth Polyp

My hand was in their grasp only a moment, but I could feel the roots dig into my flesh and spread out to make themselves quite at home.
— Imari, Dhanû Clan-Warrior
  Dragon Tooth Polyps are hard-shelled plant-things that grow on the cliffs by the black waters of the Writhing Dragon river. They are not wholly plant or wholly animal, mixing a predatory hunger with roots and fungal-like flesh. These traits make the Polyp at once dangerous and desirable, as its spongy flesh is a staple in Dhanû cuisine.    


With both sides of the cliff covered with Polyps, it looked like some titanic maw of a monster I'd rather not face.  
— Imari, Dhanû Clan-Warrior
Dragon Tooth Polyps get their name from the hard, bone-like shell that covers their soft flesh. They range in size from a finger to an arm of a human, with a slit running down its sloping sides, where the shell comes apart. This shell starts straight, but as the Polyp matures and grows longer, it begins to curve. The base of the Polyp is dense and thick part, and from there its roots extend and dig into the stone. Polyp roots are bloody red and have been compared to wet hair in consistency, covered with a slimy mucus while the Polyp is alive.  
A second weave of roots covers the first, covered in a fine film of hairs. When disturbed, these roots close quickly around whatever touched them and wrap around them tight like a vice. From there, the roots attempt to dig into its victim with minuscule tendrils.   These hunting roots can tangle with other Polyp's and can reach several meters across the cliff face where they hang, growing so dense that the stone underneath is obscured.
  Under its shell, the flesh of the Polyp is a meaty red, less like fungi and more like an animal, but without veins or organs. It is slimy to touch and reacts like a sponge, yielding and reshaping, as if squirming away from the intrusion. The shell also hides several long tongue-like appendages, covered in an adhesive mucus. The Polyp can snap open and launch these tongues at any nearby prey to pull it into its hungry roots from as much as a yard away.  
Eaten raw, Polyps have a texture described as "chewy" and "slimy" by those who have eaten it. Others make the comparison to giant balls of snot. Only the most confident and daring of chefs make raw Dragon Tooth Polyp part of their dish.


About as foul-tempered as it is foul-tasting.  
— Imari, Dhanû Clan-Warrior
  Polyps are mostly immobile, feeding with their roots. These roots can stretch for meters across the cliff where they hang and sometimes tangle with other Polyps. Less hardy flora is strangled by the Polyp and devoured. Separate Polyps grow together into vast clusters, slowly expanding along the borders of their combined domain. While individual Polyps are not usually dangerous to humans, clusters can be. As the colony grows in size, so does their confidence - and appetite - to attack larger prey. Where one Polyp's roots cannot hope to hold a human, a cluster can tangle even powerful animals and leech them dry. Armor provides only momentary respite before gaps are found, and the roots burrow into flesh.  
Most animals caught by the Polyps thrash and struggle, with exhaustion killing many before the feeding tendrils do.
Polyps are opportunistic hunters, feeding mostly on fish, reptiles, and insects. It launches its sticky tongues at prey to pull them into the root of a cluster, or close its roots around anything that ventures too close.   The deeper roots act not only as anchors but allow the Polyps to feed on anything that stains the rock beneath them. Through the same roots, the Cluster can extrude a bloody ichor formed from its meal to share it with any starving members of its brood.
It isn't clear exactly how the Polyps perceive prey, only that its ability to do so seems to grow as the size of the cluster does.
  The Polyps are in turn fed on by several animals that live in Sheoin and the river. Glitterbugs swarm Polyps and devour them from the inside while the heavy Rakkar fish jump from the water to drag Polyps into the water, sometimes ripping out entire sections of a cluster. Unless plucked from its cluster, a Polyps' roots can remain in place long after its death and become part of the cluster.      


It is going to be something horrible, isn't it?  
— Imari, Dhanû Clan-Warrior
  The Dragon Tooth Polyp spread as a collective, new seedlings growing within entwined roots. The new Polyps is fed through the deep roots and spends its early life hiding behind them, looking like a big red blister without its shell. As it grows, the Polyp's shell grows from the outer layer of its body, hardening over a period of months. It takes a Polyp about five months to reach full maturity and another month for its shell to completely form around its soft body.  
Once set, the Polyp never sheds its shell or grows further, and a cracked or ruined shell never regenerates, spells doom for the Polyp. Clusters grow new members where old ones have died and fallen off, or to expand its reach further, like a creeping carpet of hungry vines.   Clusters occasionally starve, unable to move as prey leave or an area falls to the frost that haunts the Sheoin region. They leave behind withered, crumbling roots and empty shells.
  Dragon Tooth Polyps do not show their age, other than by damage and wear. It isn't certain if they even die of age, with some ancient specimen kept as tokens of good fortune by prestigious farms.
The Sheoin Region   Dragon Tooth Polyps are native to the cold and barren Sheoin region. Here, the land is at war with itself as competing eco-systems warp and mutate the very stone in their battle for supremacy. The polyps grow along the long black river called the Writhing Dragon, hunting fish and insects from the cliff walls.   Read More About Sheoin Region

Taste Test

When cooked, Polyps are soft and not quite so tough to chew. They taste akin to blood-flavored fungi and, when boiled, have much the same consistency. Other dishes mulch the flesh, season it and stuff it into casings to be smoked and eaten.   These are usually either round or long, depending on the style of polyp-sausage.  
Raw Polyp or pickled is said by some to be a cure for hangovers and is sometimes gathered in quantity after a Dhanû Feast for miserable clan-warriors to eat.
  Stew is the most popular way to prepare Polyp flesh for a group and it is a common ingredient in Chnagahn in Dhanû.  
by Keiko Pham

Ancestral Dragon

The Polyps get their name from an ancient Dhanû myth, tales of great beasts who roamed Sheoin and had fangs the size of a warrior. These dragons were said to have been hunted to extinction in an early war between men and beast, with their fall often told as an example of cunning besting sheer strength.   Some hints of the dragons of Dhanû still remain, as ancient clan heirlooms or depicted on the Dhanû Masks of warriors.  
Most famously, the Nagaar clan claims to have the skull of such a beast mounted in their Feasting Hall; an enormous and ancient trophy that dwarf the throne it is seated around.

The Fortress-Garden

Despite the dangers involved, Dragon Tooth Polyps' many uses make it a popular crop to cultivate in Dhanû. Such farms dot the slime-ridden and slippery cliffs by the Writhing Dragon river, and none is more important to Dhanû than the Fortress-Garden.   This stretch along the river is the most expansive and most heavily guarded farm in all of Sheoin Region. Without it, Dhanû would starve.   Read More About The Garden  
It is believed the flavor of a Polyps is influenced by what it eats, and different farms experiment with their crops. Some exclusive clusters command a high price, having dined on fish and beer before their harvest.   For the same reason, the Dhanû ban eating Polyps who have tasted human.

Fangs of the River

Starvation silences all complaints.  
Dragon Polyps are found across the Writhing Dragon River but in the greatest number at the The Fortress-Garden of Dhanû, where farms of Polyps are grown on the cliffsides. Using ropes and harnesses, harvesters are lowered down with long-handled hacking spades to dislodge the Polyps into sacks or boxes held by a second worker underneath. Thick gloves and heavy clothing reduce the risk, but minor injury from falling into the roots or getting knocked by a Polyp tongue is common. Deaths are occasional, mostly around the clusters.  
Farmers feed their crop by pouring a slurry of offal and ground-up waste down the cliffside, into the tangle of roots. From there, the cluster's communal nature helps keep the whole crop fed and healthy, making them simple to raise, if not to harvest.   Cultivating Polyps goes back centuries if not longer in Dhanû, and they have long bred the Polyps to suit their needs. Some broods of Polyps grown by Dhanû farmers for a specific taste, with prized crops of particularly large Polyps always a welcome addition to any Feast. Each type, called a Brood, has its own distinct look, and a farm is often identified by the coloration or shape of its Polyps.  
Currently, blue-tinted Polyp shells are so popular in Dhanû that the serf who first bred them has been elevated to the warrior caste in a lavish ceremony.
  Polyps have many uses. The flesh can be cooked, typically by boiling or roasting, and the roots can be used to create a glue-like mortar that the Dhanûian use for both buildings and items. The shells are usually given to the poor to make a watery broth. This shell soup is little more than Polyp shells boiled in water with whatever ingredients can be found added to it, then drunk. Some chefs have begun to boil the shells until they are soft and season them to create a sort of dessert. As the dish grows in popularity, fewer and fewer shells are being spared as alms.  
The tongues of the Dragon Tooth Polyps are a particular delicacy, either roasted or grill. Some clans forbid their serfs from eating them, claiming such prized dining for their warriors.
  If not eaten, the shells are turned into buttons, pins, combs, or any number of everyday items. The shells are hard enough to last but not so hard as to be difficult to work with. When polished, they have a pleasing gleam to them, though they need to be varnished to keep it. Though inferior to other material used in Cadaverurgy, some farms specialize in growing their Polyps with large shells to produce inexpensive items.      

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Cover image: by Julien Hainault


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1 Jul, 2019 23:06

This is so detailed, it's amazing the amount of content you came up with! Congrats!   (Also, why do people eat that stew... that... does not look good)

2 Jul, 2019 08:30

Thank you <3   And when all you have is bugs and mushrooms, you learn to like that taste.. Haha :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Sage Happy4488
Matthieu A.
2 Jul, 2019 23:22

I am so disgusted right now haha. You did a marvelous job describing them.   There is a sentence that, I think, has some errors within.

The new Polyps is fed through this root and spends its early life hiding behind them
Wouldn't it be "The new Polyp is fed through these roots"?   Otherwise, I had a little giggle when I finished reading the main paragraph as I started to thought about questions, I thought "hah, I'm going to ask if they are farmed", then I went back up and read the first sidebox paragraph. x)   I still do have a question though: How fast do they move? I hope it's not actually written and I missed it.   Aside from the article and this is personal, I find the placeholder bug image a bit flashy compared to the theme, which makes it a bit disturbing for the occasional reader that I am. Maybe it's just me though.   Still, great job Q. :)

3 Jul, 2019 06:36

Whoops! You are right. I'll fix that.   I haven't specified how fast they move (besides snapping their jaws around at a pretty quick speed)   That's an interesting point... I'll consider if I can darken the image or something. :D   Thanks for reading, Happy! :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
3 Jul, 2019 00:15

They must be really desperate to eat these. Why are the tongues rarely used, wouldn't a muscle be the most choice area like with cows. Can the tongues be used as weapons? I really like the imagery you got me feeling grossed out. I think you should group the farming stuff together because of they somewhat overlap.

3 Jul, 2019 06:35

Which stuff is that? :)

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
4 Jul, 2019 17:25

All the stuff about the fortress garden in the middle should line up with the sidebar about it

12 Jul, 2019 09:10

I moved things around on the side panel: the side panel mention of the Fortress is now down at the bottom. Not sure if that sure if that's what you meant by overlap but how does that look?   And about the tongue: they're mostly stringy tendon filled with fangs, I imagine. They're not really good weapons (although I guess you could thwack someone with them as a crude flagellant)!

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
3 Jul, 2019 01:14

I'm really enjoying this so far. I really appreciate how much you've examined how the different aspects of the polyp lend themselves to more than just culinary uses. (And, how the culinary use has become gentrified over time.) It is a great examination of this creature in a broader cultural context. Is is strange that I want to try one? Or to find a giant one?   I like the use of the real-world image, but it may be overused slightly being repeated so much. It seems like you might be using it as a separator banner? Perhaps a more refined image - something that visually looks intentionally designed to serve in that manner - might work better. (Let me know if you need some assistance there!) I do love the main banner header, and think part of that could serve the same purpose. But, overall, this is quite nice, and I commend you!

4 Jul, 2019 17:37

The repeated image is a placeholder one (if you enlarge it to see the text, it'll say "placeholder"). His name is Pete, Pete the placeholder bug. The reason being that with the rush for summer camp, I don't want to spend a lot of time on image-hunting or producing.. I want to write. :)   So Pete gets to be a stand in for all the images that will eventually be put there. :)

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
5 Jul, 2019 00:02

Ah, gotcha! I thought he was a real world version of the polyp. Makes more sense now! (Might still eat him....)

12 Jul, 2019 09:04

I updated the image to make its status as placeholder much more obvious/clear. :)   Pete is eaten though! That's mentioned in a different article. In Araea, you eat anything you can get (that's not hazardous to ones health, anyway)

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
16 Jul, 2019 17:23

Sounds like my kind of world! I'll take a side order of Pete =D   And the changes help a lot for us halfblind folks =)

Sage Rynn19
Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)
7 Jul, 2019 08:26

Once again a really detailed article. So detailed I can't really think of anything to ask. I do want to mention though that I'm glad I don't live there. The things these people have to eat sounds not very appealing. Haha.
I know this comment isn't very helpful. But while reading I suddenly got an idea for my common item. So I really wanted to thank you for that!

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
7 Jul, 2019 08:37

Ooh! And I can't wait to read about that item! :D   Thank you for reading and commenting :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
29 Nov, 2020 12:35

Ok, this is both disturbing and delightful!   Though ... I suspect you looked at your placeholder image and went : "Y'know ... that gives me an idea..."

29 Nov, 2020 14:07

Thank you <3   Aahaha, not in this case, but Pete the Placeholder Bug definitely exist in Araea... And they're most certainly eaten or otherwise used for some sort of crazy industry ;)

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
1 Dec, 2020 20:14

Eww. I love them.   I really like the idea that the polyps' flavour might be influenced by what they consume before their harvest, and the taboo about eating polyps that have tasted human flesh.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
3 Dec, 2020 09:08

They are a fun bunch of critters :D Maybe I'll have the time to write some polyp-dishes for WE!

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.