Ghost Vine Species in The Broken Path | World Anvil

Ghost Vine

In Europe, finding a smaller death path requires a trained eyed and long-term stake-outs to detect if the dead are passing through. In India, you can damn near trip over the things.
— Alzamaster Gabriel Abell├ín, Aragon, 1712
 
When a person dies, they must make the long trek to the nearest gateway to the afterlife. Along the way, the paths of the dead converge to create common highways of ghosts all moving in the same direction. The energy they give off while moving along these paths is known as vesanmer, which is a highly valuable energy source.   It's easy to spot the major highways, where the number of the dead moving through makes the air shimmer. Smaller quantities of ghosts, however, are much harder to detect. When only a few pass through a day, one at a time, it can be impossible to know that a commonly used route is even there. In the tropical lands of southeast Asia, however, there's another hint to look for.   Ghost vines are creeping plants that grow along the ground where the dead pass, fed by the snatches of energy a ghost provides when it walks over it. The major highways are visible to the naked eye by the dense covering of vines, and even the smaller routes can be spotted by looking for the tell-tale vines creeping across the ground.

Basic Information

Anatomy

The base plant consists of long, thick vines about an inch in diameter. From these central vines, smaller tendrils branch off that can be as small as a centimetre in diameter. The vines are covered in small, heart-shaped leaves spaced evenly along their length, which are smaller on the smaller vines.   Around the leaves grow small purple flowers. The flowers grow in clusters of 3-4, and each is about half an inch in diameter. Each flower has 5 round petals that are bright purple, but fade to white in their centres. Staggered along the thicker, central vines are seedpods, each between 1 and 2 inches long and containing 4 - 5 seeds.   Each vine, and the seedpods, are covered in small hairs. The hairs are not dangerous and do not sting, but give them a rough texture.   Across the major highways, they grow in dense, overlapping layers competing for ground water. Tendrils of the vines spread out and creep around boulders or up tree trunks. As long as the base root structure is regularly fed by ghosts, the tendrils don't need to be in contact with that energy.

Genetics and Reproduction

The plants reproduce asexually. The roots send out runners horizontally across the soil. When these runners find fresh soil to sink into and are given a few charges of energy from a passing ghost, they begin to sprout their own tendrils. They remain connected by the single thing runner, which has no leaves or flowers, but function as separate plants that happen to be genetically identical.   They can also reproduce sexually via their flowers and seedpods. The seedpods mature in autumn and the plants rely on small animals like rodents or birds to spread them. Only a small percentage of seeds produced are viable, so new plants growing are rare. The asexual method is more common.

Ecology and Habitats

Ghost vines thrive in warm, humid environments. They don't do well in heavy shade, and require a steady supply of vesanmer to stay healthy. Attempts to bring them to Europe have been unsuccessful, as they die in the cold winters.   Some vines have grown along the Mediterranean, though they don't flourish as well with the drier atmosphere and can only survive on the densest highways. The only place they are able to flourish is within a controlled greenhouse at the Palais d'Or, where a small number are grown for research purposes and fed with vesanmer from crystals rather than ghosts.

Additional Information

Uses, Products & Exploitation

Ghost vines have long held significance in south Asian cultures. Before Pathstones were introduced to the region, the vines served as similar purpose of absorbing vesanmer to transport the energy away from the highways themselves. The vines are not as practical as the crystals, however, because they cannot contain as much and because they begin to die and leak their stored vesanmer as soon as they are cut.   There is evidence, though, of ancient Indian civilizations using ghost vines to start fires. One account describes an inventor who impressed a king by powering a small mechanical bull with an internal cut of vine. The account states that the cat-sized bull walked around the king's hall for twenty minutes before expiring.

As a drug

One of the vine's most famous uses is as a mind altering drug. The earliest recorded use of this drug is in northern India in the fourth century AD. The flowers from the vine are used to brew a tea that puts the drinker into an altered state of mind. Depending on the strength of the dose, the drinker will enter a limbo between the realities of the living and the dead for anywhere from one hour to twelve.   Once the drink kicks in, the drinker gains the Sight and is able to see into the etheric realm. Ghosts, which typically move through the world invisibly, will become visible. One of the most significant changes is that a person's soul guide will be able to speak and be understood (something that typically happens only after death).   This tea has been highly prized for ritual purposes over the centuries. It's used to allow mourners one last conversation with a recently-deceased loved one, or communing with one's soul guide to gain wisdom and advice.
 

As a Medicine

Even before the tea was discovered, ghost vines featured heavily in traditional south Asian medicine. When a patient is weak, they are taken to the pathways and lain upon the bed of vines so that they may be strengthened by the energy of spirits contained within.   Thinner tendrils of the vines are also cut and brought to the bedsides of the wounded, where they are wrapped around the injury beneath the bandages. The vines quicken healing and help prevent infections.
Scientific Name
Pueraria animasia
Average Length
30 - 50 feet
Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
Dark green vines with purple flowers