Purple Pepper Antiseptic
The strongest antiseptic, anti-viral, and anti-fungal in Known Space
Ironically, Shaundar’s torturer saved his life. After exposure to the pepper ale, the infection in his leg all but disappeared. Yathar told him they had also flooded his wound while he was unconscious in an attempt to awaken him, and this was the half-memory that he had of the burning in his leg. Either the alcohol or the peppers in the mixture were strong enough to kill the incipient gangrene, and Shaundar began to heal. For some reason they returned the splint too, which Shaundar’s shipmates replaced. He assumed it was so that the orcs wouldn’t have to carry him.Purple pepper antiseptic is a tincture created from strong distilled spirits and Elathan Purple Peppers. It has exceptional antiseptic, anti-viral, and anti-microbial properties. Accidentally discovered in an attempt to squeeze some nutrition from the native flora in the early days of Elatha's settlement, the tincture seems to kill all potential agents of infection.
Fomorians of the Empire utilize the properties of the Elathan purple pepper in numerous ways. In addition to the strong medicinal tincture, which is kept for surgery and first aid, purple peppers are used in alcoholic beverages, food, soap, and disinfectant powders. Mostly these are intended as preventatives, and they work. Balorians rarely get diseases, parasites, or infections of any kind. Applied to an injury, the antiseptic can prevent or cure even extremely virulent cases of blood poisoning. The peppers have also been used as a alchemical weapon, and as an instrument of torture. Being incredibly spicy and acidic, they can cause burns and blistering in the mucus membranes of those who are not accustomed to them. Applied directly to the eyes, they can cause blindness, and any application of purple peppers, especially purple pepper antiseptic tincture, to skin or wounds will cause searing pain.
To create the antiseptic tincture, a sealable container is stuffed to its rim with dried purple peppers that have been macerated, either with a mortar and pestle, or more industrial methods. A strong distilled spirit, such as distilled rice alcohol, rum, brandy, whiskey, vodka or moonshine is poured into the container so that it covers the dried peppers completely. The container is sealed and stored in a dark, dry place for three to six months. During that time, the container is shaken daily to agitate and mix the volatile oils with the alcohol, to ensure the maximum amount of oil extraction. It is kept in the dark to prevent the oils from degrading or evaporating under the effects of sunlight and heat. After that, the vegetable matter is completely strained out, leaving only the alcoholic tincture, which is kept in sealed containers and distributed to the shrines and temples of the Den Mother and the ships of the Fomorian Navy, although most Balorian clans lay in a supply for themselves as well -- as does anyone with sufficient herbal skills to create such a tincture. Handling even the dried peppers requires gloves, and handling the fresh peppers requires eye protection as well. Once the tincture has been fully set, however, no more such protection is usually required, unless a person intends to interact with a large quantity of the antiseptic over a short period of time (such as following a ship battle in the sick bay.)
DiscoveryIn the earliest years of the settlement of Elatha, famine was a constant threat. The native flora was strange, much of it was toxic, and what was edible was incredibly hot and spicy. Early attempts to make use of the Elathan Purple Pepper resulted in blisters and chemical burns. However, the incredibly strong fruit was edible, and contained a variety of nutrients that were hard to acquire elsewhere. In an attempt to make the fierce peppers palatable, Grokka Doomspear steeped them first in rice beer, and then in potent, distilled spirits. Feeding the peppers to her clan after that, despite their initial objections, seemed to cure a persistent intestinal infection that had plagued them since their arrival. Grokka wisely did not assume that correlation was the same as causation, and she began a series of experiments to see if it was, indeed, the peppers that had cured the infection, or the alcohol, or something else entirely. She offered her peppers and tincture to the Goblin clans that had settled in the Doomspear-controlled area, and carefully observed the results between those who accepted the peppers and those who did not. The group that was willing to eat the peppers recovered quickly, while the parasitic infection persisted among those who refused. A series of similar experiments followed, with more or less willing subjects, as Grokka marshalled her clan's efforts to see what purple peppers could do. Over a period of several years, she observed that they seemed to kill just about every possible parasite, microbe, or miasma that could possibly cause infection. This turned out to be effective when ingested, or applied topically, and strong alcohol seemed to improve these qualities by leeching out the volatile oils that have the anti-microbial properties. The newly-blossoming Sisterhood of the Den Mother soon incorporated purple peppers into the regular Fomorian diet, whether their spouses wanted them to or not, and over time, this became a cultural staple of their food.
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Access & Availability
Elathan purple peppers grow naturally in the high mountainous regions of Elatha, but have been cultivated just about everywhere that Fomorians live on the planet's surface. However, attempts to cultivate them elsewhere, such as on many of the worlds that the Balorians have settled, have been a challenge. As a result, they are commonly available and easy to acquire on Elatha, but the farther out one gets along the Elathan Web, the more difficult and expensive to acquire they are. Products that preserve their qualities, such as dried peppers, medicinal tinctures, and soap, are less expensive than fresher, more difficult-to-preserve products.
Herbal tinctures and extractions are a fairly simple technology. However, the patient and determined study that led to the wide use of purple peppers as an antiseptic throughout the Fomorian Empire was a groundbreaking display of scientific method, which is only now achieving widespread acceptance among scholars in Known Space.
Tradition / Ritual | Oct 13, 2020
"Pepper ale" describes a variety of alcoholic compounds brewed from various non-glutenous grains, usually rice, and containing Elathan purple peppers.
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
I really love the thought that's gone into this article. The description of how the tincture is made was particularly good. <3
Ironically, the easiest part. I am an herbalist, and the making of a tincture is pretty standard. :D Thanks for the comment!