Potions & Poultices - An Introduction
Like any good fantasy setting, The Cloud Factory has its fair share of mystical remedies and magical pick-me-ups. With both in high demand, those who can provide them fill a crucial role in this world’s society. These individuals can be broken down into three basic categories:
- Herbalists - The most abundant of the three, herbalists can be found just anywhere there are people. Most valley folk learn the basics as part of their childhood education, but those who continue their training find themselves equipped to handle a broad range of common ailments. Herbalists create simple remedies from plants and minerals and require no magical skill to carry out their job.
- Apothecaries - Having received advanced medical training through a hospital or academy, apothecaries can offer a more complete range of treatments. Basic apothecaries don’t use magic in their practices either, relying instead on their knowledge of biology and chemistry.
- Arcane Apothecaries - While all medical practitioners are valued, none are as versatile or sought after as the arcane apothecary. These individuals can enhance their concoctions with magic, resulting in the most powerful treatments, cures, and augmentations. However, because their services require specialized knowledge, rare materials, and the ability to use magic, they often come with a hefty price tag.
The illustration above shows examples of what kinds of products you might find at your local herbalist or apothecary. From left to right:
- River Lily Pad Poultice (large green jar) - Provides mild relief for sore muscles, minor scrapes and burns, swollen injuries, and insect bites. Simply mash fresh lily pads to a pulp with purified water and apply to the affected area. Wrap lightly in linen gauze for protection.
- Honey Salve (light green ointment) - This mixture of luna bee honey and the natural gel from river lily petals helps sooth and heal mild to moderate burns.
- Antiseptic (ivory balm) - Usually made from dried, powdered river lily pad and beeswax. Prevents infection and expedites the healing of minor to moderate cuts and scrapes.
- Pine Infused Honey (tall jar with pine sprig) - When added to tea or taken straight, this simple remedy provides cough and cold relief. Add powdered moon blossom to the mixture for a good night’s rest.
- Lily Caps (clamp jar of pills) - When powdered and compressed, the dried river lily root creates a powerful ingestible pain killer and anti-inflammatory.
- Willowbark Powder (linen pouch) - Adding a scoop of willowbark powder to a cup of tea or water will quickly calm an upset stomach. In a pinch, chewing on a strip of untreated bark or small twig can provide mild relief.
- Minor Health Elixir (small blue phial) - Distilled essence of river lily in a specially enchanted bottle boosts the body’s natural healing process, instantly sealing minor cuts and reducing healing time for more severe injuries.
- Major Health Elixir (large blue phial) - The shape (or number) engraved on the bottle of arcane brews indicates how potent it is. This variant is two degrees stronger than its minor counterpart, and will heal wounds twice as severe twice as fast.
- Antidote (dark green bottle) - This complex enchanted cocktail of dried marshflower root, river lily oil, and various minerals can counteract all common toxins and household poisons.
The last three items in the lineup, if you haven’t already guessed, can only be created by arcane apothecaries. The mixtures inside the bottles by themselves have naturally beneficial effects, but they are greatly amplified by the enchanting process.
I’ll discuss enchanting in greater detail in a later post, but the basic idea is that the bottle and mixture are placed in the center of an enchanting array, and the resulting product depends on what additional components are used, how many are placed, and what incantation is spoken. Some potions require a specific starting mixture to achieve the desired effect, but many others can be made from a base of purified water.
Site Update - New Wallpapers!
The featured piece is a bit of environmental concept art of the valley’s capitol city, Lakeside; a name that persists in spite of the devastating floods that changed the valley’s landscape 100 years ago, putting it squarely in the middle of one. In addition, I’ve included a hand-drawn, seamlessly tiling marshflower and moon blossom damask in a pack of seven colors.
Donations make it more affordable for me to take time off from my commissions to work on The Cloud Factory, so if you enjoy my work and would like to see it come to fruition sooner rather than later, consider donating a buck or two! Any donation, even as little as $1, will give you access to all donation exclusive wallpapers to date.
Visit the donation page to learn more!
Like river lilies, luna bees have proven themselves to be one of the valley’s most valuable assets since the “factory” sprang to life, single handedly pollinating the majority of the surviving flora. These hearty little guys build their hives in the hollows of trees, and are named for their nocturnal lifestyle and brightly glowing bioluminescent thoraxes. They have no stingers, but the chemicals that make them glow are mildly toxic and foul tasting to creatures that might eat them, so they have few natural predators. Their honey also glows faintly, but the concentration of the chemical is too low for humans to notice and poses no danger to those who consume it.
While luna bees exist in large numbers in the wild, farmers and herbalists often keep hives of them to help cultivate their plants, especially in a greenhouse environment. Greenhouses are vital to village survival in the valley, as the inclement weather is unsuitable for growing many useful medicinal herbs.
Due to the natural intensity of their glow, a handful of luna bees makes a suitable light source in a pinch. Some villagers utilize humane lanterns that attract the bees with sugar water, but allow them to come and go as they please. On a dry night, one can expect a steady presence of 4-5 bees in a sugar lantern.
Worldbuilding Wednesday: Cloud Factory Flora I
I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday again. Time to reveal more about the setting of The Cloud Factory, I guess! Today I’ll share some of the more notable varieties of flora that managed to survive in the valley. There are many other flowers and herbs in this world that can be grown in a greenhouse environment or outside of the valley, but I’ll talk about those later.
By far the most important plant in the valley to its inhabitants, this waterbound flower not only survived the decades of rain from the factory, but flourished. It grows best in still and slow-moving water, and has a very low dependency on UV rays for photosynthesis, so the marshy, overcast environment is well suited for its cultivation. They are also pollinated solely by the sturdy luna bee, which I will discuss in my next worldbuilding entry.
The reason river lilies are so important to the valley residents, and the people of this world in general, is that they have powerful curative properties. River lily petals are the standard ingredient in most medicines, poultices, and salves, stimulating the immune system and promoting healthy cell regeneration. They also have a very light, sweet fragrance, and are sometimes used in perfumes.
River lilies are far less common outside of the valley, only growing in still ponds and along sheltered portions of riverbanks. That being the case, it has played a large part in the survival of the valley’s remaining villages economically, as an export, as well as medically.
Both the flower and lily pad are white in hue. In sunnier environments, the stem, veins, and bases of the petals turn a soft green color, whereas in more overcast climates, these portions of the flower take on a more ashen hue. The intensity of sunlight has no bearing on the effectiveness of the flower, and like aloe plants, they do not have to be processed to provide a benefit to the user.
As its name suggests, watergrass is another aquatic plant. Resembling a reed that unfurls into a broad, blade-like leaf, it grows in marshy terrain and along the banks of most rivers and other freshwater bodies of water. The entire plant is edible, though the tough, stringy stock needs to be boiled or stewed before it can be easily consumed. The leaf portion, however, is fairly supple and can be eaten raw. It is very bitter, like a thick, chewy spinach.
Watergrass grows quickly, not unlike bamboo, but its height caps out between 6 and 8 feet above water level.
Contrary to what its name suggests, marshflower isn’t a flower at all, but a root tuber. The flower its name refers to is actually the radial arrangement of its scrubby above-ground leaves, which are bright red at the center fading out to a dark green. They require wet, but solid ground to grow in, so crops are patchy and scattered where the villagers can find high enough terrain. In the wild, they are often found around the bases of trees and towards the outskirts of the valley, where the incline of the surrounding mountains begin.
The root itself is white-grey with rusty red root hairs, and has the consistency and flavor of a cross between a potato and a daikon raddish. Not the most appetizing of foods, but they’re hearty and nutrient-rich, thus making them the staple of a lot of valley dishes.
These elegant plants are a mystery to most lifelong village folk. Their stems droop heavily with the bud of what would appear to be a flower, but they never bloom in the valley. It is said that they only bloom in the light of the moon which, unlike sun lamps, technicians cannot seem to replicate for a greenhouse environment. On nights when the cloud cover is unusually thin, the buds almost seem to glow.
Moon blossoms aren’t especially edible, but make a cool and airy perfume.