Corpse Weed is a type of marine seagrass that is native to the coastal waters and rivers of Altaleï as well as later spreading to Hadar’s ecosystem. It grows in thick forests that blanket the surface of the water. The plant is notorious for obscuring water passages and entangling sailors who have fallen overboard. It is also known for very quickly enveloping and decomposing any corpse caught within its grasp, an ability generously used by nefarious individuals.
Corpse Weed has existed in the waters of Altaleï for centuries, and was identified by the Fin'ullen very early into the exploration of their continent. It was originally viewed as a watery plant with little significance. However, the growing conflict between Allorn principalities millennia later sharply twisted the plant's perception. Due to its extremely sticky and entrapping structure, many sailors and slaves who went overboard in coastal or river battles between Allorn vessels did not resurface. Instead, their corpses came to be trapped in the plant and rot, giving the plant its name in Common (as slaves carried this knowledge with them centuries later when they were freed). But to the Fin'ullen, the plant was feared for this ability, and associated with the demonic entity known as Morrlond. It became his grasping reach up at those too weak to thrive underwater. This fervor of belief among Fin'ullen has resulted in a noticeable reduction in the plant's population in Altaleï. But, for the first time in centuries, the plant has been noticed in Hadar where it is slowly expanded, though for now, it remains low in population in the tropical area.
Corpse Weed is a trailing aquatic plant that can grow over a hundred feet long though most strands are anywhere from thirty to fifty feet. In shallow areas, the upper portion of the plant reaches and continues growing along the surface of the water, blanketing it like green, slimy hair. The plant itself has a dark, lime-green color and a tape-like consistency that makes it tough to tear, as well as a sliminess that makes it hard to cut. A rootlike structure anchors the algae to the seafloor, from which grows the thin, sturdy stem and sticky blades or algae leaves. The blades grow along the stem at short intervals; they can grow up to three inches wide and reach over a foot long. Each blade has toothed edges almost like a pond frond which, while not sharp, make it easier to tangle objects. All in all, Corpse Weed forests can be said to resemble thick green nets that cover the water.
Uses and Abilities
Unfortunate individuals who fall into a forest of Corpse Weed will find it sticking to them. Panicked movement often causes further entanglement as the victim comes into contact with more of the algae, causing it to wrap around them like a mummy. In water, live Corpse Weed has the texture and strength of adhesive tape, causing it to be difficult to tear or cut. Victims usually have to be carefully pulled out by another person or risk immobilization and drowning. Corpse Weed is known to feed on dead bodies. Animals that become entangled often die by drowning or suffocation. The slime that coats the algae then works to break down the newly dead body, allowing the blades to feed on it.
Within merely a week, the body may start to become unrecognizable. Within a month, it may be reduced to bones. Criminals and clandestine organizations may take advantage of this plant by disposing of their victims in waterways where Corpse Weed forests are growing. Corpse Weed becomes less sticky and more accessible to handle when frozen. Rivers in Regalia that become clogged with Corpse Weed often have to be cleaned in the winter by breaking up large, frozen clumps of the algae, along with the remains of corpses that have been dumped into them.
- Oddly, Yanar have a bit of immunity to the algae's stickiness, more so if their body are woodier, though they can still get tangled up within a forest.
- Corpse Weed loses its stickiness when out of the water for an hour. Fresh Corpse Weed have been known to be used as short-term bandages.
- Corpse Weed has the stench of salty rotten meat when dried. While it is edible, most people find it repulsive.