Flowering Alseas

Flowering Alseas are humanoid-shaped--and 'dressed'--plants which produce beautiful blossoms year-round in Pandorive. A traveler happening upon one might think it a fellow wanderer of the road, until they draw close enough to tell that the flowers the Alsea appears to carry or wear on its body are actually protruding from various parts of its apparent "clothing" or "skin". The entire stalk and stems of the plant, despite whatever facial expressions one might glimpse or words one might hear, is made entirely of cellulose and organic fibers.
 
"Don't give it a name, don't leave it food or gifts, and by all that's sacred, don't knit it sweaters for when it's cold--it is a PLANT, people!"
— Deputy Loroy
 
Varieties of Flowering Alseas
 
Flash Fiction: Illicit Harvest
"He winked! See?" the self-proclaimed hero said, pointing to the butchered remains to his right. Raoul's gloved hand still held one of the 'limbs'. "Ya can't tell me tha's nat'ral. Thought he was one o' them cunnin' big city pantomimers or sommat, tryin' ta steal me gold."
  "So you hacked it apart?" Despite her small stature, Eloise shook her rake perilously close to my head. In her other hand she wielded a trowel, which I'm sure was meant to be menacing. "When you made the first cut that teeny human-sized brain of yours didn't think 'gee, who here bleeds sap'?"
  To be fair, things in Pandorive bled all sorts of things, but I could see Eloise wasn't in the mood for particulars.
  "No one steals me gold!" came the retort, and he shook the 'limb' again. The 'arm' dripped beads of a milky white substance to the ground.
  I sighed. This spectacle played out every time a stranger came to town, doubly so when they'd been visiting the tavern as often as Raoul. Everyone saw 'faces', but those who weren't used to the frozen 'expression' on the plant's main stalk tended to take umbrage. The Flowering Alseas were too often dubbed 'evil golems' animated by an 'evil wizard'.
  Our town had no wizards, and the only animated part of an Alsea was, perhaps, its petals fluttering in the breeze coming off the river.
  Regardless, it always seemed imperative to newcomers that they instigate some kind of brawl between person--or persons--and plant. Someone else would find the bloodless 'body' and cry "murder"--again, to be fair, the chopped up remains of an Alsea looked like utter carnage. The whole town would bolt awake at midnight, they'd haul me out of bed to handle the crime, and the Planters Guild would tear down the walls until justice was served.
  "This is a TRAVESTY," Eloise screeched. "Just look at his face, Deputy--the stupid human mutilated his beautiful face!"
  Before the drunkard could argue that even the locals could see that Alseas appeared human, I snapped my notepad shut. "See the Planter's Guild by midday tomorrow, Raoul. Do not attempt to leave town before compensating them for your rampage against the South Garden, or they will upgrade your debt to provisional fertilizer. And no," I added, eyeing the slow grin that crossed the gardener's face, "I do not mean you will be buying fertilizer."

Basic Information

Growth Rate & Stages

Once a seed is planted, a new root structure grows. The roots spread shallowly under the earth to reach a suitable location. Once enough energy is located, the roots burrow deep and the Alsea begins to grow its main stalk. The stalk grows into a full, humanoid-apparent plant in a matter of months.   Flowers will appear in less than a year and will continue to grow so long as enough nutrients are present.

Dietary Needs and Habits

Rather than following a photosynthesis cycle, Flowering Alseas are fed via an abyssynthesis method unique to Pandorive.   Instead of sunlight, water, minerals, and carbon dioxide, these plants are nourished by the Void, and consume surreptitious thought patterns and speech.
 
Typical Photosynthesis
Pandorive Abyssynthesis

  After consuming illicit murmurings the plants release a lowgrade air of suspicion, which among sentients tends to produce even more whispers. You can always tell when a Pandorive settlement is brimming with secrets, because any nearby Flowering Alseas aren't merely flowering but absolutely covered with an enormous amount of blossoms.   A surplus of secrets tends to encourage pollination, and therefore propagation, of Flowering Alseas. Ambient levels of suspicion rise with more Alseas and more blossoms.

Biological Cycle

Pandorive ecosystems being what they are, it should be noted that if suspicion released by Alseas becomes too saturated, nearby sentients become infected by Absolute Paranoia. Sentients suffering this condition will destroy each other and/or themselves in an attempt to eliminate whatever they perceive is a threat. As the sentient population dwindles, Flowering Alseas will wither and die, returning to the Void from which they were birthed.   This has led to a slight genetic adaptation: Once a supply of secrets begins to dwindle--due to outsider interference or death of sentient beings--Flowering Alseas with this adaptation will reroute nutrients to their roots, which travel along the ground in search of additional settlements. If successful, an offshoot will form a secondary figure as the primary plant withers away in its original location. The new plant grows off the secrets of the new community until it is able to flower, and the cycle begins anew. Alsea with this trait are not dominant yet but are expected to become so as weaker varieties die out due to community destabilization.
 
Varieties of Flowering Alseas

Origin

Once upon a time, there were dryads and dhus, bound to beautiful oak forests and capable of plant magic. Some solitary, others plentiful among the trees, these spirits took care of the flora around them, made it vibrant and lush. Those dryads and dhus bound to particular groves may have heard their name called out as the Alseid. Most of the legends end there.   For one Alseid grove, however, a new story transpired. A tendril from Pandorive reached from the nothing to claim a piece of their world, devouring the grove of oaks and their spirits.   The Void consumes.   In Pandorive, the grove retained a bubble-like space from its original world. But bubbles thin...and eventually pop.   A century passed before the "bubble" became thin enough that the original Alseid grove saw effects of its time in Pandorive. Over the next decade, the trees were no longer oak, but a variety of plants, some native to their old world, some born of the new. The dryads and dhu spirits transitioned into solid and sentient forms, that most would consider human. In this new form, they took the name Alsea.   As Alsea, they could no longer return to their trees to rest, but they could roam further, and there were new, fascinating things to see in their grove. The forest provided unique berries and nuts for them to eat and a variety of flavored dews and saps for them to drink. The Alsea in return continued to see to the grove's care. Life was good, and nature thrived. Alsea harvested flowers to twist into crowns and played games among the plantlife. Children seemed to sprout from the earth for the very first time. Forming family groups that branched off into plant specializations, it looked to be a new era for the Alsea.   The Void changes.   A mere fifteen years later, the "bubble" which had contained and protected the grove and its people from direct contact with Pandorive lost its fight to remain separate. When it failed, Pandorive welcomed it hungrily, and the Void tumbled in like it was trying to fill a vacuum.   Nature magic which the sentient life within the grove previously controlled stopped in the Alsea's veins.   They   Were   Devoured.   Again.   Every Alsea who had been in the grove, no matter how tall or small, how old or young, had their sentience drained into the very roots of the grove of plants they'd sought to protect. Void-touched nature magic rushed to claim them, sap moving into their veins, the flowering crowns atop their heads regaining life and fusing with their bodies. Flowers pressed from their skin, budding, blossoming, dying, budding again. This outpouring of energy created what are known as the Flowering Alseas today.   The Void reverses, twists, and creates anew.
Original Form
Dryad
VoidTouch Effect
Loss of Sentience, Corrupted Nature Magic
Ecology & Habitat
Needs thought energy to survive. Found near settlements.
Lifespan
10-40 years. Extremely community dependent, though new specimens seem more hardy.
Average Height
5 feet/1.5 meters
Uses
Anything beyond care and observation is considered illegal in most settlements, and gifts of Alsea flowers are usually considered offensive. Material from cut Alseas begins to break down within a week. Rotting Alseas and their flowers smell of bitterness and regret, and they are considered unpalatable.
Conservation Status
Stable. However, due to their rarity and value to various Guilds, severe punishment awaits those who damage any Flowering Alsea, moreso if it is one of the Unique variants.  
Unique Flowering Alsea
PSA: Alsea 'Clothing'
One does not 'undress' a Flowering Alsea. The appearance of clothes and flesh are surface level only. The entire plant stalk is a single fibrous construct, not layered with outerwear, as one might otherwise assume.

Genetics and Reproduction

If an overabundance of thought energy is present, Flowering Alseas will produce pollen. Two types of pollination are possible:
  • Self-Pollination: Pollen travels via air from flower to flower on the same plant.
  • Cross-Pollination: Pollen is delivered from one plant to another by one of Pandorive's pollinators.
The largest pollinated flower of the plant will produce a single seed. When placed in soil the seed will grow into a new plant. Subsequent Alsea generations vary in appearance--some exact copies, some more human-apparent than others, and some more valuable due to the rarity of flowers they produce.
  The flowers which will eventually bloom on the new plant are determined by the pollen provided:
  • Single-Parented, Self-Pollination: Offspring will contain the same floral makeup.
  • Dual-Parented, Cross-Pollination: Offspring may contain the same floral makeup or produce a variant hybrid.
  • Multi-Parented, Cross-Pollination: Offspring will produce a genetically disconnected hybrid.
 
Pollination of Flowering Alseas
 
Special Note: In rare cases, the cross-pollination process injects pollen from multiple parenting plants. With the overabundance of pollen, the nature magic remnants in the resulting seed are amplified, and its genetics are warped further by the Void. Resulting flowers on the new Alsea will not resemble any of the contributing plants, instead blooming into something completely new.   These specimens are sterile, and their flowers have been said to make passersby feel anything from peace to rage. It is assumed that they feed off of different types of communication as well, however no formal studies have been done.   As they produce neither pollen nor seeds, Unique Flowering Alseas are often heavily protected by plant-centric Guilds, prized in particular for their ability to draw visitors--which in turn increases their coffers.
 
Unique Flowering Alsea
This Flowering Alsea has been prank-posed by neighborhood punks.

Cover image: by Jozef Klopacka

Comments

Author's Notes

Infographics by DaniAdventures using Canva. All "Flowering Alseas" images from Pexels except for Mr. "PEC", which I licensed from DepositPhotos.


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14 Mar, 2021 14:31

Oh. My. Goodness. This is so good.   Their tendency to fill their surroundings with suspicion probably doesn't help with the visitor hack and slash tendencies. I love your flashfic.   Pandorive is not only good for you, it is GOOD. I am loving it!

Author of Fillimet, bright fantasy land of possibilities, and Vazdimet, its darker spacefaring future.
14 Mar, 2021 15:33

Thank you!! <3 It's nice to have a space for the weird things in my brain that don't fit anywhere else. :D   With a Flowering Alsea nearby it definitely heightens the "someone's watching me" sense. :D

2 Apr, 2021 04:04

I SO agree with you, Angela!   Goodness sakes, Dani--you're brilliant. And so you know, my son asked to borrow my iPad to read some entries himself and he LOVES your article.   (...and he's one of my overly-critical kids)   One of my favorite articles.

JAIME BUCKLEY
Your New Favorite Author
My World | Join My List | Read my Books
10 Apr, 2021 05:51

Thank you SO much Jaime!!! I'm super honored by the compliment, and I'm very glad you and your son enjoyed it; it means a LOT! <3

16 Mar, 2021 11:08

Dani, this is SUBLIME. What a great read! Of course, I cracked down laughing as soon as I saw Mr. PEC. But besides that, holy moly this is a great article.   I never saw someone use stock pictures so cleverly, and I loved the small Illicit Harvest story!

16 Mar, 2021 19:01

Thank you! It means so much!! I was just browsing all the "greenhouses with people" stock and decided for kicks to roll with a search for "shirtless plants" for inspiration on the PEC part of the challenge, and came across a silly amount of flower people...and Mr. PEC. It couldn't be helped; I knew what I had to do. :D

16 Mar, 2021 12:15

This is such a good article - I love your use of pictures and infographics. And, of course, Mr Pec! :D <3

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
16 Mar, 2021 19:04

Thank you Emy! <3 It felt so silly doing the infographics but I'm starting to find that if my muse is amused, fun things happen--even if they're also somehow creepy? :D

16 Mar, 2021 13:11

I adore this. From the flashfic to the abyssynthesis. Really fantastic work, as usual! <3

16 Mar, 2021 19:08

Thank you! It felt good to write something again! The flashfic was supposed to be a quote... Things got out of hand. XD

16 Mar, 2021 15:37

Oh this is a very original idea. Well done! Love the addition of the small story as well. Abyssynthesis seems like a really nice concept.

Feel free to check out my costume entry. :)
16 Mar, 2021 19:12

I'm so glad you liked it! Everything about this world is low-key horror, so the plants breathing out an air of suspicion seemed like a good way to keep the inhabitants on edge constantly--without realizing its their own gardening obsessions that are causing it :D Thank you so much! <3

17 Mar, 2021 15:48

Oh wow that is just fantastic xD ! I loved reading through the quotes and learning about the plant. I feel like there is a small dose of absurd that just brings the whole thing together wonderfully. This really is a PECuliar plant!

Author of Interarcanum and the Shakiraverse
19 Mar, 2021 20:12

Thank you so much!! <3 I really appreciate your words--I'm so glad it came together with that bit of stock photo inspired weirdness. :D

8 Apr, 2021 14:58

Hi Dani!   Although I didn't end up joining House Apis for GoTToT, I can suspend the artificial rivalry to say I LOVE YOUR ARTICLE! Your cover image is amazing! Your quotes are funny, "whispers in, suspicion out" is a great line, the PSA on 'undressing' is wise, your Pollination and Genetics and chest pruning images makes my skin crawl, and the whole biological cycle/origin story is incredibly creative. I enjoyed the creepy pasta of your content and will never talk or think near flowers again. Keep making amazing content like this!!!

xtremepsy | Ölütanrı
Checkout my other favourite entries to the 2021 Peculiar Plant HERE!
Feel free to read, favourite, and comment on my entry, Digivine.
10 Apr, 2021 06:00

The artificial rivalries are fun, aren't they? Game of Tomes and leading the Hive as Queen Bee has granted me many words. :D I wish you many words and even more victories!   Thank you so much for reading and the awesome comment <3 I'm really glad you enjoyed it! I suspect Mull and Void is going to be quite a bit of creepypasta in the future, from the way it's going lol--It's gonna be a LOT of terrifying fun. :D

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
12 Apr, 2021 07:11

Amazing article!   "And no," I added, eyeing the slow grin that crossed the gardener's face, "I do not mean you will be buying fertilizer."" XD great narration!   And at the end, the origin story of the Alseas is also amazing and very sad :(   I think you could add a tooltip at Void the first time it is mentioned.   I love all the images you have and the illustrations you've done :D   Their feeding and reproduction mechanism is fun! Though I'm surprised that people let them settle near to their communities, as even at low doses it doesn't seem to be entirely harmless. Do they actually know what's going on?   Do people value Alseas with particular expression and pose more? I think they can move them a little bit if they were able to move them into that prank position XD but how much? And expressions are probably very hard to change…

20 Apr, 2021 20:24

Your comments for this challenge have all been so thoughtful and thorough! I enjoyed reading through articles and seeing you'd already gotten to it with such in-depth details. The commenting competition was definitely an inspiration! :D   Thank you for reading and all the great suggestions!! I look forward to implementing some tooltips, and I'm pondering the expression bit :D The poses for sure, like a tree can be shaped with wire and binding, these would do that too, but I don't know about their "faces". Locals definitely don't know what's actually happening with these plants, but given their proximity to the Flowering Alseas, they more than likely wouldn't trust the information even if someone told them it was. XD

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
20 Apr, 2021 20:36
16 Apr, 2021 20:15

I honestly don't know if I should feel sorry for them or be scared of them. Both? I'll go for both.

Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young   Costume Challenge Entry: As Superpowered troops on an alien planet, the Battle Spears wear a uniform capable of handling all they face
20 Apr, 2021 20:26

Feel sorry for the original Alsea for sure--they were just minding their own happy cheerful business and, as Voids do, the Void had other plans. :D Thank you for checking them out!!