|Common Name||Bitingleaf Stalk, Painwoven Plant|
|Common Use||Utility, Culinary, Medical|
Nettlestalk has an old history, avoided by the Ceardian Ailor for much of their existence, only to be gradually embraced around 400 BC. Ultimately, the plant ended up thriving in lands beyond its origin, and methods of cultivation were eventually uncovered to circumvent its stinging hairs. The plant is best known for its bast, which is used to produce cheap fabric, crafted for many commoners, but it does have other uses often appearing in these same communities. The plant survived the Destruction of Old Ceardia with ease as well, and continues to grow wild and cultivated across many lands.
Nettlestalk was originally native to Old Ceardia alone, where it had a negative reputation. Its stinging spines prevented the plant from being used, though it is suspected that the local Ailor knew of its possible applications, either through harvesting Nettlestalk bast from juvenile growths, or simply by extrapolation. Still, it was a Ceardian myth that first claimed the weaving of Nettlestalk to be possible, but also connected it to Sorcery. The myth is one with a hundred variations, as many Ailor Cultures that followed their Ceardian origin took to adapting the tale to suit their own narrative. However, the oldest records and versions of the tale tell of a simple story. A young woman was set to marry a warrior she hated, a man who had killed her elder brother nearly a decade before. She sought out Magic, and came to find an Altalar, trapped on a jagged peninsula attempting to signal his comrades for rescue. He initially rejected her but he saw both potential in her quest for Magic, and something more. They eventually became lovers, and it was he who taught her how to weave the Nettlestalk, while taking its “poisoned barbs” for use in alchemy. The tale ends with the woman returning home, the Altalar picked up and having left, and her using this poison to kill her husband before producing a Half-Altalar Sorcerer child.
This tale is extremely odd to most modern readers, given that it shows the Altalar in a neutral if not positive light, but some believe it is based on real events which could not be refuted. However, what most are unaware of is that the story was a narrative of vilification. Once it was over, Ceardian storytellers would then rant against the vile Altalar and claim their Magic knew no bounds, and this woman was an evil being, with her child being a monstrous abomination. It does not help that many often twisted the character of the Altalar into that of a beast rather than a regal, though shipwrecked, Mage. Ultimately though, over the coming centuries, it appears that some did attempt to weave Nettlestalk, and with some success. By the time of the Cataclysm, both Nettlestalk bast and the plant itself had been transplanted across much of the Ailor-settled world, likely due to Proto-Velheim trade networks. The plant’s association with this “evil” tale rapidly faded as the myth morphed beyond its homeland, and with time, the Nettlestalk also became known for medicinal uses, on top of its production of fabric and culinary application. Today, Nettlestalks grow both wild in the lands of many regions and in controlled environments for harvesting, be that in back gardens or fabric-production operations.
Nettlestalks stand between two and six feet tall, its height greatly varying based on seasonal growth and withering. At the plant’s core is a deep green stalk, supported by dense yellow rhizomes which interlock with nearby plants. The herb grows a series of broad, serrated-edged leaves with veins over their surface and small clusters of pale green, firm petal flowers around the bases of the leaf stems. The plant’s main visual feature is its coating of small, thin, translucent hairs, which sting bare skin.
Uses and Abilities
Nettlestalk’s main uses revolve around the production of fabric, cuisine and in folk, home-cure medicine. Nettlestalk bast is best known in the production of fabrics largely for the lower members of society, or generally more low-income Cultures like the Velheim or Daendroque. Next, Nettlestalks can be utilised in culinary creations, which are often prepared in similar communities that commonly use fabric generated from the plant. The boiling of the leaves easily removes their stinging hairs, allowing the plant to be used for the creation of teas, soup and pastries. Finally, the plant’s use in rural medicine is exercised most commonly by the elderly, with the plant’s ability to irritate the skin sometimes being used to try and reduce pain in joints, while also being used by the young or expecting due to its supposed galactagogue properties.
- Oddly, Nettlestalk fabrics, when weaved of the thread produced by the plant’s bast, have a bright sheen to them, and slightly shift on their own, though not to the extent of some other Fibers.
- Asha have been seen to far more easily produce Nettlestalk fabrics, though why is unclear, and the Race barely uses the material to begin with.
- Some have wondered if Nettlestalk might actually have a magical connection given its ancient mythical status, tied into weaving through Magic, but also in how garments formed from the fabric sometimes seem to move or tug of their own accord.