THE DEATH SHROOM ("QUEPRUR'S FOOTSTOOL", "DEAD MAN'S CAP")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The Death Shroom ("Queprur’s Footstool", "Dead Man’s Cap") grows in shadowy places in mid-Sarvonia, usually occupying woods and other shady areas from the forests of Paelelon, where the Eophyrhim elves reside, to the dark Shadowlands of the north. While the mushroom may take any decomposing material as its home, from fallen branches to dead thickets, it is found most commonly on carcasses, either of felled animals or on corpses of the dead. They often grow in and around graveyards, perhaps attracted to the dead bodies beneath the soil. Herbalists will occasionally use the herb to forcefully expel materials from the stomach (in rare and extreme cases), though it is more commonly used to remove dead flesh or as a poison.

Appearance. The Death Shroom, though rather small (growing to about the ankle of a grown man), carries with it a tenebrous air. Its cap and stalk vary in colour from a dark brown to light brownish-green to a sickly yellow, depending on the amount of light. The cap has no set pattern, but looks as if it was cursorily painted with all the colours of rot and death. It lends to every scene an eldritch and eerie feeling, as though Queprur’s eyes were upon you.

The Death Shroom grows out from fallen animals or rotting flesh presumptuously, with a haughtiness that only Death can assume. It shows no mercy, remorse, or respect for the dead, but slowly feasts upon the remains until the carcass has been reduced to nothing but bone, then it seems to skulk off, withering away as quickly as it arose.

Like many mushrooms, the Death Shroom burrows up first as a kind of arrow or egg shape before opening its rounded cap. The underside of the cap hides brownish gills, the same colour as is roots, which are generally hidden in whatever substance it has managed to dig them into. Some relate that these mushrooms smell of rot and death, though it is hard to know whether the smell comes from the mushroom itself or that which it feasts upon... or both.
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Territory. The Death Shroom tends to grow in shady or shadowy places: it can be found in dark forests, from the Paelelon Wood to the Shadowlands in the northern lands. However, it need not grow in a forest: it thrives in any place there is death and a little shade. They sometimes grow around fresh gravestones, in the shade of a corpse, and have even been seen in open fields bloodied and corpse-strewn by battles. Though of course, the fungus can’t survive in sunlight for very long without withering.

For those wishing to collect the Death Shroom easily, they can often be found around butcher shops, feasting on the unwanted or unappetizing remains of slaughtered animals, though many purists insist that the wilder Death Shrooms are the most potent -particularly as a poison.
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Usages. Pray you should never in your life consume a Death Shroom, as it is a particularly awful and dangerous affair. In rare cases, herbalists will use a very small and highly diluted tincture of Death Shroom oils to forcefully expel the contents of the stomach. If, for example, one has recently consumed certain deadly poisons, a small amount of Death Shroom tincture can compel the stomach to push it out of the body. Of course, if you have consumed Death Shroom itself, this is of little use.

In cases of gangrene and other flesh-killing ailments, strong tinctures of the Death Shroom can destroy the dead flesh; however, it must be applied carefully for fear of getting the oils into the bloodstream, which may cause internal bleeding.

The Death Shroom can serve as a powerful poison, though not a very sophisticated one. Death by this mushroom is fairly distinctive, producing brownish-yellow vomit and awful stomach pains that eventually kill the consumer. Once ingested, the Death Shroom can kill in less than an hour. In rare cases, some have survived ingesting the mushroom in small quantities, but generally it kills within six hours. (It is assumed that if Queprur doesn’t take you eight hours after consuming the fungus, you will survive, albeit with permanent damage to the stomach).
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Reproduction. The Death Shroom is generally assumed to create spores from its gills, usually soon after it spreads out its cap. Death Shrooms can turn from spore to mushroom very fast, it is assumed, based on how quickly they appear around the rotting remains of plants and animals. A Death Shroom may appear over-night, and can last several days to several weeks, depending on the amount of flesh it has to feed on.

While Death Shrooms may seem ubiquitous, usually only two or three will appear at any one time. They do not crowd the way some mushrooms do. Once they have consumed their fill, they will wither away.
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Myth/Lore. The Death Shroom has no particular creation myth, but is very closely associated with Queprur, for perhaps obvious reasons. Among many villages, the Death Shroom is also called Queprur’s Footstool (despite its diminutive size). Much of this association was reinforced during the plague of Nyermersys, when the Death Shroom grew with great gusto around the decomposing bodies of the dead.

Because of its association with death, the Death Shroom has given rise to a number of superstitions. It is believed that if you touch the Death Shroom with your bare hands, death will come quickly to you or your relations. While there is little to confirm this particular superstition, you will rarely find those who tend graveyards gloveless when ridding their lawns of the deathly little fungus.
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 Date of last edit 10th Dead Tree 1672 a.S.

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