Wyndlecain Species in Excilior | World Anvil


Root of sorrow

yndlecains are large evergreen trees infamous for the deadly narcotic that emanates from their massive network of exposed roots. They have a permanent place in casterway lore because their nearly-irresistible gas doesn't just impair the minds of those who encounter it. It infuses them with a desperate desire to go to the tree, to embed themselves within the roots of the tree, and to idly waste away as they slowly wither and, eventually, nurture that tree through their own decaying biomass.

Basic Information


yndlecains are evergreen trees, but they're remarkable for how much foliage they don't have. They are often situated under the cover of other trees (like canopeias, amongst others) and their positioning often affords them a dearth of Syrus's light. What foliage they do have is often referred to as "sickly" or "haggard".
Massive Root Base
The shape of wyndlecains makes them unique amongst all of Excilior's trees. They are extremely wide at their base, supported by a tangled mass of roots that extends far above the forest floor. These roots twist, combine, and taper as they slowly blend into the main trunk. When taken in conjunction with their anemic canopies, the trees can often appear pyramidal or conical.

Growth Rate & Stages

he tree's laggard growth rate has contributed to the difficulty in cultivating them in other regions. However, most believe that there are additional factors in the soil in-and-around Ucarania that contribute to these geographic constraints.

Ecology and Habitats

he tree's prodigious root system thrives in extremely damp conditions and it's often found in muddwoods. They thrive in deltas and on the banks of meandering rivers. They can tolerate - and even excel - in completely flooded conditions that last for months. They are not nearly as drought-resistant as their larger neighbors like the canopeias and the bloodwoods and younger specimens rarely survive a Trial of Syrus.

Dietary Needs and Habits

yndlecains are the only trees known to depend upon animal matter as a nutritional source. There are plenty of other plants and vines that have evolved this strategy - but none amongst the tree species. Given the meager status of wyndlecain foliage, the cognoscenti surmise that these trees cannot grow, nor survive long-term, without a regular infusion of decaying animal matter to continually fertilize their roots.
Narcotic Gas
The trees foster this fertilization through an incredible adaptation. Their roots emit a colorless gas with the faint aroma of vanilla. This gas contains a powerful narcotic punch that deeply impairs the thinking and the judgment of many animal species - and humans are one of the species susceptible to the wyndlecain's allure.   The immediate mental effects of the gas are similar to other "highs":
  • A sense of euphoria.
  • Occasional, pleasant hallucinations - often of beloved childhood experiences, or deceased loved ones.
  • Increased alertness.
  • Overpowering calm, and a sense of understanding that goes beyond the subject's level of education (i.e., a feeling that one is grasping "the mysteries of the universe").
  • An anesthetic cessation of nearly all pain or discomfort.
If these were the only effects, its societal impact would be minor. But those who have experienced the high of the wyndlecain root are under extreme risk of addiction. And addicts will acquire an inexplicable desire to go to a wyndlecain tree. They won't just want to visit it, or gaze upon it. Absent outside intervention, they will almost always abandon their previous life and go to live in the wyndlecain roots. But this "life" is short-lived. Once they've gravitated to the root base, they stop eating entirely. They make no attempt to maintain themselves in any way. They simply burrow into the tree's roots (in complete bliss) where they will dwindle away - and die.   The siren pull of the wyndlecain root does not effect all creatures equally. Some are completely immune to its allure. But in general, most omnivores, and nearly all carnivores, are at risk. Humans seem to be particularly susceptible. This dynamic can, at times, create a tragic bounty for the tree itself. One creature becomes trapped by the wyndlecain's spell. Another creature, thinking it has found an easy meal, attempts to feast on the first creature embedded in the arbyr's roots. But that second, opportunistic scavenger finds itself ensnared by the narcotic trap. Sometimes, this cycle can repeat multiple times over, with a single tree enjoying a decaying feast from a dozen victims or more, all rotting in the arbyr's root base at the same time.

Additional Information

Uses, Products & Exploitation

espite its deadly potential and fearful reputation, the narcotic effects of the wyndleroot make it a primary source of contraband throughout all casterway societies. The criminal underworld of Ucarania and, to some extent, the other countries bordering the Seia of Saints, controls a massive black market in the harvest and sale of wyndleroot. The trade is so large that it can't possibly be monopolized by any single organization, but there are two groups that dominate illicit sales on a global scale.
Criminal Enterprise
The Reaper Syndicate is controlled by Elladorans and they operate primarily out of western Ucarania, Kala, and Toteria. The Scarlet Bottonfly Company is dominated by Inqoans and operates from eastern Ucarania, Oneia, Phonas, Chuiti, and Quita. The brazen conflicts between these two groups have flared up repeatedly over thousands of years. In some parts of the world, they operate as shadow organizations. But in the northeastern reaches of Islegantuan, it's not uncommon to find them operating boldly and openly, with little threat of reprisal from local officials.
Wyndleroots are usually extracted by junior members of these clans, or by desperate, independent contractors who have little in life to lose. The roots' effects can be avoided (or at least, blunted) by wearing rags or other facial filters soaked in vinegar. But even with this precaution, a perilous portion of harvesters eventually find themselves under the tree's spell and dying in its roots. This is why the task is relegated to only the most "disposable" of human resources.
The roots are cut into pieces - usually, about a third-of-a-meter long - and encased in clay. This keeps the gas from bleeding out during shipping. Once purchased by a user, the clay is broken, allowing the gas to propagate freely. The duration of a single root's potency will vary based on many factors - the weather conditions at its destination, the age of the tree from which it was harvested, etc. - but it's generally assumed that a wyndleroot will provide the desired high for at least four or five days. No longer being part of the living tree, the root eventually dries up and stops emitting any gas at all. However, for unwary root bois (and for unscrupulous pushers) there is always a thriving secondary market of "spent" roots that have been moistened, doused in vanilla extracts, re-encased in clay, and sold as new. There are even those who will try to pawn off any tree root as a wyndleroot. This trick can be incredibly easy to pull, because the purchased product is encased in clay, so it's difficult for a desperate root boi to discern exactly what they are purchasing until they've broken the packaging. So this is either a great way to turn a fast profit - or to inspire the deadly vengeance of dangerous addicts who have been scammed.   Those caught in wyndleroot addiction are known as the rooted. An individual addict is sometimes simply referred to as a root boi (this moniker is usually applied universally - regardless of the actual gender of the addict) - especially, by those who are doing the selling.
Root Bois
Despite the narcotic's frightful track record of full-blown addiction - and, potentially, death - it's entirely possible to live life as a root boi without dying in a wyndlecain tree. History has many examples of individuals who managed to conduct long lives as "functional addicts" - although their constant craving for the narcotic gas has been revealed, through careful research, to occasionally provide an insidious influence on world affairs. Often, this influence isn't even realized until the person dies and their decisions can be reassessed - after their affliction is discovered - through the lens of a root boi trying to act "normal" in their day-to-day affairs. In other cases, a person's supposed wyndleroot addiction is only surmised - sometimes, centuries later - by cognoscenti trying to make sense of their contradictory actions long after the fact.
Legitimate Use
Not all wyndlecain uses are illicit. Some attempts have been made to simply harvest the specimens for lumber. But the quality of their wood is considered sub-par (especially when compared to the fantastical properties of cured bloodwood). And the threat of addiction usually means that harvesting the lumber is not worth the risk. In desperate cases, wyndleroot's anesthetic qualities have been harnessed to aid suffering during emergency surgical procedures. However, any respected cognoscenti will admonish such use, because no reliable method has been found to leverage those anesthetic properties without also putting the patient - and even, the physicians - at severe risk of becoming rooted.
Perhaps the most "legitimate" use of wyndlecain trees - and of their problematic roots - is in palliative care. Casterways still suffer from a great many diseases, and acquired medical conditions, for which cognoscenti have developed no meaningful cure or treatment. Inevitably, some of these conditions are terminal - and provide for a miserable, painful death. In those cases, it's not unheard of to bring the ill a continual supply of wyndleroot to keep them reasonably comfortable in their final hours. For those terminally-ill who already live in-or-near Ucarania, it's quite common for their final act of agency to be their willing decision to go out and burrow within the wyndlecain roots. Although this can appear barbaric to those unfamiliar with the tree's narcotic properties, it's seen by many as humane and logical. Not only does the roots' gas remove all pain or discomfort, but all published reports of wyndlecain narcosis indicate that its "victims" truly want to be in the tree. They are euphoric about the prospects of dying in the tree. And there has never been a verified account of anyone indicating that they are suffering (or even, regretting) their decision while they are wasting away. As tragic as full-blown wyndleroot addiction can be (from the perspective of those who could have done so much more with their lives) it's generally acknowledged that the euphoria accompanying a full-blown wasting-away is, all things considered, a pretty "good way to go".

Geographic Origin and Distribution

yndlecains are ubiquitous throughout the island nation of Ucarania. They are also found in the coastal rain forests along the Seia of Saints, including Kala, Toteria, Klasis, Mapit, Copuseia, Ephia, Oneia, Phonas, Chuiti, and Quita. Although fledgling attempts have been made to cultivate them in other regions, they flourish nowhere else.
Scientific Name
Phalaris oblata
500 years
Average Height
70 meters
Average Weight
500 metric tons
Average Length
20 meters (at its base)

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