|Official Name||Shen Itja|
|Common Name||Deceiver Vine, Fruitbane|
|Habitat||Arid and temperate regions|
The Shen Itja, or Deceiver Vine, can be found across the Ashal Islands, and at first glance, seems to be no more than an innocuous growth that has withered and died on the trees scattered across the desert. However, those who know the true nature of the vine tend to steer clear of the foliage in question and choose to only focus on the vine. It has maintained its usefulness for travelers and explorers seeking a replacement for rope in a tight pinch, with the vine being much sturdier than it seems to the untrained eye.
Shen Itja has been part of Asha history for millennia, dating back to the dawn of their civilization. A common Asha myth speaks of its discovery in a great desert, which in ancient times, was a rare, hostile and unfamiliar place for the animalform Race. A traveler, needing to cross the land to return home, found great spreads of vines and fruits that seemed to grow, but when cut into or attempted to be eaten, found them to be bitter. However, the plant proved its worth when the traveler had to secure themselves up high at night to avoid a swarm of carnivorous beetles. It can be assumed that even if this ancient myth is not true, the ancient Asha quickly took to using the vine as a substitute for rope. Despite this positive trait, the ancient Asha came to realize that Shen Itja was parasitic in nature, sapping the strength and resources of the plantlife it attached to to fuel its own growth.
After this realization, many attempts were made to cull the growth of the vine, but to little success for many years. When the Dewamenet Empire was at its height, the Asha successfully limited the growth of Shen Itja to select groves to prevent its spread, though they did not seek to entirely destroy it. When the Dewamenet Empire collapsed and its people could no longer harvest the vine, Shen Itja gained a chance to grow unabated. It did so for millennia, being deemed a plague by the ancient Elves and seeing vast swaths cut down, though its texture and use as a substitute for rope was eventually noted by the slaves. When the Cataclysm came, and the Asha fled west, it is likely they brought the plant with them in this form, but it may also be that it was naturally thriving on the arid terrain of the Ashal Islands. Since the revival of Asha living in the region, as well as the restoration of local water systems, the vine has considerably spread, but is still known for all its traits discovered in the ancient and near past. It is primarily sold to the Asha Corsairs as a far sturdier and more reliable rope for their vessels, and some have even developed a taste for its bitter fruit.
Shen Itja is a gnarled pale brown vine, each strand appearing ready to flake or break off at a moment's notice. A vine that has fully siphoned off a tree can be as thick as up to three inches in diameter, though the range and size diminish quite rapidly as it extends outward. However, unlike other vines, the central vine is located toward the main trunk, or stem of the host, its position anchored in place by the branches it wraps around. It has a rough exterior, though it is incredibly pliable and can bend quite easily without breaking. It entirely lacks leaves.
Uses and Abilities
Shen Itja primarily draws its usefulness from how sturdy and flexible the vine is. When two to three pieces are bound together tightly, it can be used to create a form of rope that tends to be a lot more flexible, causing it to be of interest to engineers and sailors seeking a cheaper alternative to real rope.
- Certain Asha parents will attempt to warn their children of taking strange fruit, stating that the Shen Itja could curse it and suck the life out of their own body. This, of course, is entirely untrue, but it does keep children safe and quiet.
- Some individuals have tried eating the vine, but unfortunately the nutrients that were absorbed from the tree do not seem to maintain their taste in the vine itself.