A response to Dragonlordmax's Freetext Friday. Specifically, Exotic Mounts.
Thanks to axlerowes for help fleshing out the details and helping me tie it in further with the rest of the setting.
The Turtle Lotus, or Dragon-eye, grows only in the sacred lakes and terraces of the Torrozzo Mountains, characterized by their enormous lily pad, often over two meters in diameter. Closely related to more common lotuses, the Turtle Lotus Its flowers are white, quickly darkening to a pale goldenrod at the tips. The flowers exhibit the classic Lotus shape: wide, ovoid, cupped petals arranged in two layers, a broad, bowl-like seedpod developing in the center. Much like their cousins, the Dragon-eye also has very water-repellent leaves, making their pads remarkably dry perches. On warm, spring and summer nights, they cast a silver-white luminescence, surrounding the lakes in a nimbus of breathtaking light. However, by mid-August, the last of the seed pods have fully formed, and the nightly radiance is absent save for a few dim petals still clinging to their stalks. Through the fall and winter, the plants enter their dormant stage, and all that remains above water is the pad.
The Dragon lotus is a pungent flower, combining a sickly-sweet mango scent with the sinus-burning spice of red-pepper. The heady smell is used as an endurance test for Monks meditating on the pads. While it emanates strongly from all parts of the flower, the smell is mostly strongly associated with the pollen, which is also incredibly sticky, washing off only with alcohol or vinegar. The monks also collect the pollen as a form of defense, packing it into blowpipes and using it against intruders.
The Turtle Lotus is a carnivorous plant, feeding on the fish that share their home. Connected to the floating root-ball are a number of transparent, bean-shaped hollows. During the process digesting prey, these semi-rigid growths become concave by secreting water through their membranes, helping to break up the prey by squeezing, and reset the trapping mechanism. At the end of the lotus' traps are long trigger hairs near a small opening, and when prey brush these trichomes, the pods snap into their convex shape, creating a partial vacuum and sucking the prey in. Clustered under the pad itself are a number of more rigid traps modified into ballast organs. Unlike the swimbladders of fish, which contain gas, these ballast organs create an internal vacuum to offset the weight of the plant and its prey. Rare mutations may cause some specimens to float to efficiently, sometimes hovering far enough above the lake to starve themselves.
Most unusual about the plant is the strength and stability of its pad. Held up by the plant's massive, buoyant root system, a typical Turtle Lotus pad is capable of easily supporting the weight of a fully grown human. Having long since cast its anchor roots upon reaching the surface, a mature Dragon Eye normally floats about aimlessly, but the Torrozzan monks are familiar enough with the plants' physiology to have identified a small, nerve-like cluster where the floating root ball connects with the pad. By manipulating this cluster, a monk can both steer the plant and control its speed, though this is beyond well beyond outsiders. Four paddle-like leaves on the underside of its pad supply locomotive power for the plant. Using these leaves it swims with a motion remarkably similar to a turtle, giving the lotus its name. Without human influence, swimming is a rare occurrence, usually restricted to a plant that is starving and looking for prey, or one that has drifted near shore (where food is scarce.)
Rare and unique, the lotus is a much-coveted plant. The Torrozzoan monks forbid taking the plant or seeds off the mountain, but a few enterprising thieves have managed to outwit them. However, the seeds require cold temperatures to remain viable and germinate, and even in optimum conditions will only do so for up to a year at most. Whole plants are somewhat more temperature tolerant, but removal from the water greatly stresses the Turtle Lotus, and will often kill the plant anyway. Despite this delicate nature, smuggled plants can be found in the gardens of Sarbythan Nobles rich enough to provide survivable conditions, and in the hideaways of the reclusive sorcerors and wise-men of Thule.
During the Age of Elves, the Lotus was far more common, and the Dragon-Eye is one of many Thinian plants the Elves took with them to the moon, where it is grown primarily in public gardens. The plant is also found growing in lakes and paddies near distilleries, where the sugar-rich seed pod is distilled, and flavored with the pollen. This drink is called Tsamno, a notoriously difficult drink, being both incredibly spicy and and notoriously high in alcohol content.
The monks eat all parts of the plant, excepting the pollen and swimbladder, as a part of their heavily-restricted diet. The seed pod is most favored because of its sweetness, and usually eaten raw. After being fertilized, The petals of the lotus begin to shed, these are either picked from the lake after falling, or immediately from the plant when fertilization becomes obvious. Turtle Lotus petals are dried and eaten raw, or candied with sugar extracted from the seed pod. The pad and swimming leaves can be eaten as salad greens or used as wraps for steaming. Their taste is similar to spinach, but slightly more bitter, with an almost metallic acidic undertaste. The roots are used in a manner similar to ginger, though it tastes remarkably similar to orange zest, and has a slight numbing effect on the tongue. The traps are not normally eaten, but Torrozzan Monks are particularly fond of a delicacy called Laurecci, a trap that contains partially digested prey.
Despite widespread knowledge of its existence, the Turtle Lotus is not well classified because of the monks' imposition on removal of the plant. It is one of the only living thing recognized as a fully distinct species but not classified with an official scientific name by the College at Leusois. Proposed names have come from both amateurs and scholars alike. With such disparate names as Nelumbo Sacrum, Ignei Testudo, and Pseudotestudines Lumens, it can be difficult to find those few preliminary studies that have been done. It is rumored that a closely related cousin exists somewhere in the Lost Lands of northern Rokir, but no exploratory crew has returned with a specimen yet.
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? Responses (23)
Echo approves. Elves. On the moon. Floating on a carnivorous lotus. Hell yeah.
Fantastic! The concept, delivery, and awesomeness are awesome. I want one.
I had very little to do with this exceptional write up or this wonderful world you have created. But this fantastic, I loved it when you told me about it and I love it now.
The first paragraph has a number of errors in it and doesn't flow as well as the rest of the piece. The second sentence for example seems to be the victim of a bad edit.
But after the second paragraph the whole piece moves really smoothly and clearly .
I see what you mean by victim of a bad edit. It's certainly more than a little chunky. I'll take a look at it at fix the spelling errors here sooner than later.
You actually had more to do with this post than you think. You asked a lot of good questions in chat the other day. The answers are there; on the surface, lurking in the shadows, and in the developing world around the lotus.
Update: First paragraph re-edited. I don't know why I kept putting an extra 'u' in 'enormous.' Nor why I kept using the word 'enormous.'
It looks like you cut out a lot of the sub, did you mean to do that?
No, but apparently I did so. I'm in the process of rewriting that paragraph now.
Wow, this is a good one, and is just the sort of thing I was hoping for with Exotic Mount. I think that the visual here is pretty neat - who can complain about people riding around on swimming flowers? I also like how you've worked the flower heavily into the monks' lives, outside of just a means of transport. I can really imagine this a part of some big, fantastic painting.
Job's a good 'un.
(On that note, though, I don't deserve any credit at all for this - I did nothing more than suggest what I hoped was an inspirational freetext).
Awesome!! Great visual, great details (Tsamno, partially digested delicacies, etc...). Smacks of surreal "old sorcery" (you know that time before the waves swallowed atlantis and all that) Very trippy!!
I once did some crappy submission about 9 and half ways to use a giant lotus in fantasy. This certainly takes the cake!
How do they catch prey? Like bladderwort do?
Yes, exactly like the Bladderwort. apparently this was another paragraph that went missing in the editing process. Back to writing...
Update: The Mystery of the Missing Paragraph has been solved, ( actually I just rewrote it and added some new detail, but if you didn't read the first, you'll never know!)
While I was at it, I added the last paragraph in. I had conceived of it before publishing, but didn't manage to work it in. I have since found a way.
Update: Last missing paragraph rewritten. It might be a little choppy, but I just wanted it to be up there for now. I apologize to all the other recent activity that I'm pushing off the Recent Activity Bar in the main page.
There is quality and then there is what i like to call, roackwality, which is like quality combined with what Echo said.
There is quality and then there what i like to call, roackwality, which is like quality combined with what Echo said.
There is quality and then there is what i like to call, Roackwality, which is like quality combined with what Echo said.
Now this is a truly exotic mount, bravo sir, bravo
5/5. I want to try some Laurecci.
5/5. I want to try some Laurecci.
Love it. As exotic as mounts get.
5/5 Fantastic! Thanx for pointing this one out Scras. Doesnt get much more exotic than this!
This is really good - love the creature and the details. It brings to mind Triffids to me, but obviously still quite different.