|Common Name||Mete Le’at, Grasping Deathlimbs|
An insidious plant populating the jungles of Daen, The Far West, and Fendarfelle, Stranglers are carnivorous plants that lure their prey like the Fly Orchid rather than hunt it in the manner of the Reaper. However, Stranglers do not just hunt insects but also small birds, reptiles, and mammals, granting them a grim reputation despite their relative harmlessness to the different Races of Aloria. This negative reputation began with the Altalar and has carried into today, largely thanks to the animal-friendly Cielothar.
Altalar mythology is extremely vague on the topic of the Strangler, not connecting it to the normal creator of flora, Sca’Elle, for obvious reasons. It is certain that the Altalar have known about the plants since their earliest years. Myths, written in poetry form later on, described great man-eating flowers with tendrils to grasp and burn, and a maw of rich colors which fed on those who wandered into its strangling appendages. However, it was not until the Consolidation and the work of Lesarra scholars that the Stranglers (called Metess’ia Le’attan in Allorn Altalar) were documented thoroughly. These efforts went a long way to demystifying the plant, which was at the time often associated with creation by Demons. Without this stigma, the species of the vine was transplanted to other parts of the Allorn Empire for its unique applications. Its use as pest control in large, ornate gardens became the norm, but over time they spread out into the wild in these foreign soils, creating grim “Strangler’s Groves”, where the bones of hundreds of unsuspecting, unprepared animals lay while the Stranglers sat high above. It was these horrible sites that brought the Altalar that would become the Cielothar to hate the plant, and they carried this hate forward as the Allorn Empire came to an end.
In the aftermath of the great Empire’s collapse, Stranglers regained their fearsome reputation. First, through the Cielothar who, despite the Yanar’s insistence that they were just plants, greatly appreciated due to their hatred for insects, remained steadfast in their suspicion and negative views of the species. Among the Ailor, the opinion was much the same. Many former slaves, who had been privy to the small bone collections that formed in the area of a Strangler within an Altalar garden or on a plantation, saw the plant with a dark eye and many myths similar to those of the ancient Altalar sprung up in Daendroque, Bragacao and other societies. Even the Kathar, newly formed in The Far West, rejected the carnivorous plant for unclear reasons, though it has since come to grow with decent commonality in their jungles. It is perhaps only the Eronidas who outright seek the plant’s destruction, no doubt feeling its large size and carnivorous status makes it similar to the dangerous plants that forced them off of distant Guldar centuries ago. However, they are the exception. Overall, Stranglers are not hated with the venom they once suffered, but tales are still told of its supposed man-eating nature, along with the odd, sad tale of some small mammalian, reptilian or avian pet being snatched and eaten by these non-discerning growths.
Stranglers are unique-looking vines that solely base themselves around a central, flowering rootstock up to three feet wide and one foot tall. This rootstock is hardy, capable of setting itself anywhere but often attaching itself to the branches of trees so that the Strangler sits in the air, although occasionally taking root in the ground. Their “body” consists of a rosette of thick, spear-shaped, leathery dark green leaves that hold reserves of water ringed around a large, bulbous flower at the center, made of five round-edged petals. These petals are as thick and tough as the leaves and come in a variety of warm colors, being edged by small traces of white which often speckles itself around a third down the petal from its edge. Strangler flowers can last many months before wilting and then regrowing. The flower of a Strangler, furthermore, emits a sweet, enticing aroma that draws in potential prey that get trapped by a sticky substance that coats the leaves. Once prey is stuck upon the leaves, they begin to slowly fold up, along with the flower at night, which traps the prey inside to be converted into food for the plant. Furthermore, over the night, the sticky substance is reapplied to the leaves.
However, it is the plant’s Stranglevines that are perhaps their most unique aspect. Growing as many as twelve of these strange vines, Stranglevines are the same green colorations of the Strangler’s thick leaves, but have white, almost translucent tips, at the end of their three to five feet of length. They have an interior side which, unlike the rest of the study hide of the plant, is coated in the same sweet substance as the flower and the leaves above it. However, it is much harsher, irritating if not burning skin and serves as a method of shocking unprepared prey as it is highly serrated along this sticky surface, allowing immediate impact on the bloodstream. When this happens, whatever has flown, crawled, or walked into the substance will try and recoil, and this is when the Stranglevines somehow work as one. They will rapidly bind together, and rather than giving away, react with equal force to that which is pulling away, while also making a series of twisting motions. This is often enough to strangulate whatever has been caught in the Stranglevines, which will then be gradually and macabrely digested over the course of three weeks, attracting insects into yet more death as they get stuck, and slowly digested. Once it has gotten all the food it came from the corpse in its Stranglevines, the plant will then slacken, dropping what remains to litter the ground around where it was first caught, attracting yet more animals to investigate and feed on the limited carrion.
Uses and Abilities
Stranglers still have their uses when kept on the smaller side, as if allowed to grow at their maximum size, they prove a hazard to animals most Alorians enjoy. Instead, smaller variants of the plant purposefully kept small in pots with several if not all of their Stranglevines docked, are highly effective in attracting and killing insects. Their sweet smell has also seen them transformed into special perfumes, that luckily do not attract insects.
- Some believe that the original ancient stories thought to point to Stranglers in Altalar society might be references to Slizzar. Both have tendrils, both are capable of bright colorations, and both have been considered threats to the Altalar though due to different reasons.
- The sweet smell that Stranglers emit is said to be slightly different for everyone who experiences it, as while overall a positive smell, it has varied from the scent of favored meals to favored seasonings or scents, to the natural scents of certain animals.
- Stranglers and Fly Orchids are often placed in opposition to one another, with many favoring Fly Orchids given their far more unassuming appearance.