Anatra Cactus Fruit

"As the saying goes when you find the oasis; 'Drink from my waters, rest in my shade, do not eat from my fruit.' Many men have eaten from the cactus, and many men have lost their mind for it. Only the Shasdjed dare to mess with such a fickle thing." - Vander Sake, Nioyaathep Porter
  Forbidden for consumption by the High Priestesses themselves, the fruit of the Anatra Cactus bears an ill reputation. The skin is covered in fuzzy hairs and is extremely bitter, yet the meat of the fruit is said to be unusually cold and sweet, comparable to iced desserts the world over. It sounds like an absolute treat and worn out travellers throughout the desert often fall to temptation when they come across one of these bizarre red fruits. Eating them, however, can be a fatal mistake.   The juices of the cactus fruit contain a potent hallucinogen. One bite is enough to put an adult into a raving stupor for an entire day. Consuming a full fruit will send one on a hallucinogenic trip for an entire week. As this trip causes extreme dehydration and exhaustion, it is almost always fatal without a proper guide. Beyond the physical toll that it brings, the mental toll can be extreme. Most who could survive the trip arrive on the other end with a broken mind, shivering and rambling until their psyche breaks entirely. No matter the result, noone comes out the same as they went in previously.  

Becoming a Shasdjed

  The only Risen brave or foolish enough to willingly consume the fruit for it's hallucinations are the Shasdjed. Anatra Cactus fruit and the associated trip is the foundation for the ritual to become one of the nomadic shamans. When a Shasdjed arrives at one of Dahlia's Tears and finds a desert traveler who found their own way to of of the mystical oases, they offer them the chance to join them. The individual must then consume half of a fruit and begin the trip.   Once begun, the Shasdjed that found them acts as a caretaker and spiritual guide for the few days that the trip lasts. It is said that during the trip, the individual faces their deepest insecurities and fears, manifesting as a terrible reality to them inside their hallucination. After facing themselves, they each have a vision of meeting Dahlia before the gateway to the Realm of the Dead. What one experiences, both with themselves and the goddess, is unique to the inidividual and never discussed afterwards.   On the final day of hallucinations, the caretaker Shasdjed summons a wild Nehebek, one of the great serpents within The Sands of Sturn. The potential new shaman now extends their arm and offers the remaining half of the Anatra Cactus fruit to the serpent. Taking their arm and the fruit in whole, the serpent judges the individual. If successful, the Nehebek submits to the new Shasdjed, where it is believed that they share their language through the remainder of the final day.   Coming out of the trip, the new Shasdjed possesses both a heightened state of mind and a loyal Nehebek. Their caretaker leaves, trusting that the new member of their order has everything they need to prosper going forward.


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