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by Howard Lyon
|Featured In||Tress of the Emerald Sea|
”Crow is host to an aggressive strain of the verdant parasite. Your lore calls people like her spore eaters, though I find that an imprecise term.—Ulaam on spore eaters
A spore eater is a gestator for an aether that is native to the planet of Lumar. While the planet doesn't seem to have an Invested Art allowing for the direct manipulation of aethers, such as the aetherbound can use on another world, an aether can be incorporated into a person's body in such a way to make them a spore eater and give them some protections. Spore eaters provide water to the parent aethers present on the moons of Lumar, and are therefore protected by that aether and very difficult to kill.
”Some say it randomly happens to people who fall into the sea, while others claim you have to ingest a very special kind of spore.—Ulaam on the lore surrounding spore eaters
It is unclear how a person becomes a spore eater, legends hold that it requires ingesting a very special type of aether spore. This is the origin for the term "spore eater". Other tales say that it happens to some people who fall into one of the spore seas. Spore eaters are also said to have spores in their blood, although it is unclear if there is any truth to this phrase. The only known legends the people of Lumar have on the curing of the affliction is by striking a bargain with the dragon Xisisrefliel, who is believed to be able to cure any disease. Although spore eaters don't present a particular threat to anyone beyond themselves, others are often made uncomfortable or fearful by spore eaters.
When someone becomes a spore eater, the interior of the person's body becomes infested with aether. The spore eaters are directly Connected to one of the larger parent aethers present on Lumar's moons. The aether inside of them is insatiable for water, drawing it continually from its host and providing it to the parent aether on the moon via an unknown mechanism. These parent aethers are irrational though and draw increasing volumes of water the longer the host has been afflicted by the spore gestation.
The aether on the moons draws from a number of spore eaters spread around the world in order to obtain sufficient water. A spore eater must drink water to replenish what they lose to the aether. Additionally, it is also very painful to be a spore eater. The condition is progressive, and advanced spore eaters will find themselves drinking water with increasing frequency. Ultimately the need for water increases until it is unsustainable, and the spore eater becomes dehydrated and withers away before dying. Usually this process plays out in under a year or so, although a it can last longer.
”The aether protects itself by protecting her, but it’s rabid. Insatiable. Incapable of rational thought, it is sucking her dry. The affliction is progressive, taking more and more from its host. I’m told it is exceptionally painful, and it is always fatal.—Ulaam on spore eaters
It is unclear whether the Luhel bond is involved in the creation of spore eaters. Water is being drawn from the host by the aether, but they are given very limited control over the aether that infests their body. The aether within a spore eater does not respond to the mental Commands of a spore eater in the way an aether would obey an aetherbound. Instead they act to preserve the life of the host so they can continue draining water from them. Any threat that can potentially break the skin of the spore eater is considered to be a threat by the aether. The reaction time of the aether within a spore eater is incredibly quick, the vines of a verdant gestator can stop a bullet that a spore eater fires at their own head. A very practiced spore eater can control their aether enough to prevent it from emerging when they are in danger. While spore gestation is a challenging condition, in the early stages it does offer some benefits to the host. They are nearly impossible to kill with the aethers protecting them, however they are susceptible to capture or restraint if it does not represent a threat to the life of the spore eater. A spore eater that is already a capable combatant though is a serious threat that non-Invested people could struggle to defeat without some other advantage.
As spore gestation is painful and ultimately fatal, there is great interest in a cure by those who are afflicted with the condition. Unfortunately, there is no known permanent cure to rid a spore eaters' body of the aether within. Even a very advanced offworlder like Xisis claims to be unable to permanently cure the condition, merely remove it for a year or two before the spores return. A person would have to return to him every few years to be cured again, or remain by his side. It is possible though that Xisis could cure a spore eater permanently, but generally prefers not to do so. Lumaran histories record that Queen Bek was cured permanently of her spore gestation due in some part to Xisis, although it is also possible that the record is inaccurate. There have been no other prominently recorded instances of a person being cured or surviving as a spore eater for long.
Most of the time a spore eater is indistinguishable from a person without the affliction, although those in the later stages of the disease may be noticed as always drinking water or keeping a flask of water close at hand. The gestators for the verdant aether are the only sort of spore eaters that are understood in detail. When a threat is detected, the aether will emerge from the spore eater's body to protect the host. In the case of a verdant spore eater, vines will burst from the host's skin, either splitting the skin or crawling out of somewhere else, such as around the eye socket. When the vines are active, they can be seen moving beneath the host's skin. The emergence of the vines does not seem to do any significant lasting damage to their host, although the person may suffer a gash or lose a drop of blood or two from the locations where the vines appeared.
Known Spore eaters
- Captain Crow - a gestator for the verdant aether and captain of the Crow's Song
- Queen Bek - a historical spore eater who was cured with the aid of Xisis
- Tress of the Emerald Sea chapter 28#
- The Lost Metal chapter 39#
- Tress of the Emerald Sea chapter 45#
- Tress of the Emerald Sea chapter 31#
- Tress of the Emerald Sea chapter 50#
- Tress of the Emerald Sea chapter 27#
- Tress of the Emerald Sea chapter 41#
- Tress of the Emerald Sea chapter 32#
- Tress of the Emerald Sea chapter 52#
|Tress of the Emerald Sea (Lumar)|
|Characters||Tress · Charlie · Crow · Salay · Fort · Ann · Laggart · Dougs · Hoid · Ulaam · Sorceress|
|Places||Emerald Sea · Crimson Sea · Midnight Sea · Diggen's Point · Sorceress's island|
|Magic||Aethers · Aether spores · Spore eater · Sprouter · Luhel bond|
|Ships||Crow's Song · Oot's Dream · Two Cups · Whistlebow|