Emberstool

Root of obnoxion

The towering arbyrs do not intimidate me. In fact, they bring me great solace. But the emberstools stand as an abomination - an artifact of god's handiwork run amok.
Portitia Cyprian, Kalan priestess, 2444 AoR
E
mberstools are a species of giant mushroom. They are notable for their massive size, the spikes which rise from their stems and protrude downward from their caps, their fluorescent glow, and their random tendency to generate clouds of noxious spores that hang in the air like a mist and invoke a debilitating nausea in humans.

Basic Information

Biological Traits

E
mberstools are remarkable first for their size. They are far shorter than the grand arbyrs under which they flourish, but they still tower above even the tallest casterway. They are not the only giant mushroom species on Excilior, but they are one of the largest. They are also striking in appearance due to their unique spikes and their fluorescent glow.
 
Spikes
The spikes are not harmful in any way. Although emberstools are "woodier" than their far-smaller cousins, they still have nowhere near the tensile strength that would be required to impale a human, nor to cause them any serious harm. Tragedies have been documented whereby a casterway has been killed by a falling emberstool. But these deaths are attributed to the sheer weight of the collapsed mushroom, rather than any particular injury incurred by the relatively-soft spikes.
 
Glow
The mushrooms usually have a faint green glow. This emanates from a viscous slime that secretes from the top of their cap and from their spikes. Although the luminary strength of this glow is weak, it can be bright enough to read by in the dead of night, or in the midst of a particularly-dark forest. Between the twilight that can exist in the densest of Excilior's forests, and the eerie glow of the emberstools, some novice travelers have reported trouble distinguishing between evening and daylight hours.
Obnoxions
T
he emberstool's most notorious trait is the obnoxion. They reproduce by releasing thick clouds of spores into the surrounding air. Although this is not unique amongst fungi, emberstool spores are especially adapted to float, for as long as possible, in the thick humid atmospheres of Excilior. If the weather patterns are unusually still, cognoscenti have recorded obnoxion clouds lingering over a landscape in excess of ten days. This would be merely an interesting natural phenomenon were it not for the fact that humans find the emberstool spores to be highly nauseating. When this noxious miasma settles over the land, casterways refer to it as an obnoxion.
 
Nausea
Obnoxions are not lethal to humans. Nor do they create any permanent side effects. But they still have the power to make life miserable for any local human population. Those trapped in the obnoxion typically suffer severe nausea. They may wretch and writhe on the ground for days. Vomiting, stomach cramps, and violent diarrhea are the primary symptoms. When the obnoxion finally dissipates, so too do the symptoms. The victims generally suffer no long-term discomfort and can resume normal activity within a day-or-two after it passes. Most who live in emberstool habitats seem to have built up some kind of basic tolerance for the spores. Their symptoms are usually far less dire than new arrivals. But that does not mean that the locals are immune to its effects. And even the saltiest veterans of emberstool climes will still go to great lengths to seal up their homes, shield themselves from all forest breezes, or even leave the region altogether until the obnoxion passes.
 
Human Vulnerability
Obnoxions do not affect all species equally. In fact, humans seem to be the only species on the planet that is massively debilitated by the spores. This is probably due to the fact that humans did not evolve here and exposure to emberstool spores is a relatively new phenomenon for casterways (from the perspective of evolutionary time). There are other species that show visible signs of irritation amidst an obnoxion. But those signs are far more subtle than the disabling nausea experienced by humans.
Once the obnoxion had finally passed, I ventured into the Arlinwold to search for Crengor, and I was not entirely unsuccessful. I found his longboots. And his staff. But any remaining bits I recovered do not bear mentioning here.
Brioc Trebilock, Oneian hunter, 2892 AoR
Incapacitation
This debilitation is one of the primary means by which obnoxions can be lethal for humans. If the unwary traveler is caught in the wilderness when an obnoxion blooms, the resulting indigestion can be so great as to leave the victim completely vulnerable to predators. This is especially true for those predators that aren't particularly affected by the obnoxion themselves. When someone ventures into the forests and is enveloped by an unexpected obnoxion, it's generally assumed that they're never coming back, because something will have discovered them during their incapacitation - and eaten them.
 
Unpredictable
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of obnoxions is the inability of most casterways to predict them with any certainty. They are not confined to a particular season. They are not limited to a given schedule. The release of spores is tied to a complex set of environmental criteria that even the wisest cognoscenti have not yet mastered. Although it's rare, it's possible for an entire year to pass, in a given region, with none of the emberstools having released their spores. Yet in other years, there can be as many as a half dozen obnoxions, with one sometimes following mere days after another. Although no one has deciphered the code of the exact conditions needed to spawn an obnoxion, many rangers, Sylvan Guards, and other long-time denizens of the forest claim that they can tell when an obnoxion is imminent. Depending on the source, this can be forecast based on the volume and pattern of the mushrooms' florescent slime, on the activity of small creatures in-and-around the mushrooms, or even based on the smell of the fungi in the days leading up to a bloom.

Growth Rate & Stages

G
iven their prodigious size, emberstools grow at astonishing rates. They can reach their full height in just under a year. Eyewitness accounts speak of empty forest floors that are completely obscured by the giant fungi when they return in the next season. Although the mushroom does not grow larger after its first year, its stem grows sturdier and its root grow deeper for many years thereafter.

Ecology and Habitats

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mberstools are native to all three of Excilior's continents. But they are only found in low-lying wooded areas below the 25th parallel. Although they thrive in soft, moist, spongy soil, they will not grow if their roots are submerged. This makes them most common in low-altitude forests and on the edge of muddwoods. They require the shade of an arbyr canopy above them and they will not grow in direct sunlight. If their protective arbyrs die (or are removed by casterways), they will die as well.

Biological Cycle

T
hey thrive under Excilior's unique deciduous trees - like the canopeia - that never lose their full foliage in a given year. Emberstools can propagate under the smaller deciduous trees that became bare in each year, but this creates a situation where the mushrooms completely die off each year and must grow anew in the spring.

Additional Information

Uses, Products & Exploitation

The emberstool is the targeted wrath of Excilior herself. A poison pill aimed squarely at humankind.
Fadia Clotinian, Golian cognoscenti, 3670 AoG
T
here are no "common" uses for the emberstool. It is inedible and nearly all its parts are poisonous to humans. Of course, for those who actually desire to create lethal concoctions, the emberstool does certainly have some utility. Its sticky, phosphorescent excretions have, at times, been harvested as ad hoc lighting sources. But this does not have long-term utility because the slime will only retain its glow for 4-6 hours. For those who dabble in experimental medicines, many attempts have been made to leverage emberstools for potions and tinctures. Occasionally, these attempts end up killing the patient. But even when they are not lethal, the cognoscenti have documented no proven use of emberstools for medicinal purposes.

Pronunciation EMM-burr-stewl
Scientific Name
Armeria aphylla
Lifespan
8 years
Average Height
8 meters
Average Weight
1 metric ton
Average Length
12 meters

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