Huldra

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6/25/2021 11:13am

I work during the summers at the Chlorokinetic Botany Center (CBC), it's the department on campus devoted to plant pathology, ambassador negotiation with the plant kingdom, and related chlorokinetic study. They get funding from Psychic High School I guess, though they're only affiliated with the school campus along the z-axis. Working and taking classes is kind of demanding, so the summers are usually a nice break. Even though I'm full-time, not having to do homework after my shifts is really nice. Plus, I get to spend most my days with plants, my absolute favorite life forms! Having chlorokinesis is really great, I wish more people worked to awaken it within themselves.

The CBC is a really cool place, but this week it hasn't been -- because the air conditioning broke! Ha ha. But seriously, it's a problem. Working with living things in controlled conditions means there is a lot of machinery to regulate photoperiods, water quality/frequency, and of course temperature. So our freezers are melting, our incubators are roasting, and there's rumors that the vacuum-of-space simulator is compromised. It's been a bit harrowing trying to cope with the problems.

Besides the sensitivity of biological study subjects, there's also the issue of time. When a plant is growing, you can't tell it to speed up or slow down to fit your schedule. If the squash you planted to test beetle attraction are blooming today, it doesn't matter that it's your grandmother's birthday. The flowers have a 24-hour lifespan, and you either get the data today or wait another 2.5 months to grow a whole new batch. So while @Janitor Pete and the other custodial staff battle the poltergeists in the air conditioning system, we CBC staff are improvising ways to keep the plants alive.

For example: we have a batch of Midnight Rose seeds we're supposed to screen for Bright Blight for the Denizens of the Night tribe beneath the Halddia Mountains. To screen for the disease we germinate a handful of the seeds, then test the tissue for presence of the pathogen. However, the seeds only grow if planted in darkness and at a steady temperature of 3°C. The CBC's subterraenian incubator is currently clocking in at around 21°C, and has been having issues with ball lightning. So instead, the Midnight Rose seeds are currently in my dorm mini fridge, next to my leftover pizza slices and some diet soda pop. I had to unscrew the lightbulb, and seal the edges of the door with ductape to prevent light seepage. Yeah, high quality work happening here at the Chlorokinetic Botany Center. But hey, if it works, it works.

That's what's nice about biology, and why I want to keep studying it even after Psychic High School. It's changeable, unpredictable, but also adaptable. Enough to keep things interesting, and also to provide for a margin of error. If things don't follow your experimental design to the letter... well, in some cases it still turns out just fine. It's life.

My parents want me to look into finding a chlorokinetic master to study under. But it's daunting, trying to figure out the best person to make a blood pact with. What if I pick a master who has prestige, then spend five years being treated as a maid instead of an apprentice? What if I find a master who is really kind and informative, but whose lessons have no purpose behind them? And some groups want you to sacrifice extra, like a first-born or most your hair or memories of the ocean. They say it's to show your dedication to the work, but I think it might be more of those fairy scams. Planning a future is hard. I should just go to one of the prescient students and ask them what I end up doing. The choice is already made, I just need to exist in the time it's made.

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4/15/2021 3:26pm

Okay, I know this looks bad, but the outbreak of skin inflammation that in some cases includes itchiness IS NOT MY FAULT. Yes, I know I jokingly -- JOKINGLY -- threatened something of that nature in my last post. But this wasn't me! I don't even live in that dorm, why would I trek across campus in pitch dark to smear the walls with allergens? For that matter, why are kids rubbing up against the walls so much anyways? Don't you hollow-skulls know that discolors the paint? Honestly, more suspicion should be thrown at the custodians or Dorm Matrons than me.

I have an exam tonight, so please PLEASE stop sending messages or stopping by to ask if it was me. Or criticize "my recipe". Or ask what the emulsifier was. Or ask for samples. Or beg for an antidote. Or try to sell me girl scout cookies. Listen, I'm not even in my dorm now because the intrusions are incessant. But for my roommates' sake, cut it out. It's annoying. Also, we already have twenty orders for girl scout cookies, we can't afford any more, stop tempting us.

Luckily, there are plenty of places on campus to get lost. I mean, I'm pretty sure campus security has a map to most hidey-holes for safety reasons -- at a few of them you can even see their surveillance sigils, poorly hidden -- but at least there's the illusion of privacy. So I'll just stay hunkered down here, chat with the ground vines, share my water bottle with the moss patches, and prep for this stupid exam. Unless someone is willing to explain the intersection between Scorpio and Capricorn and how it impacts the rapid disassociation of glycogen in reptiods, I'm not interested in bipedal company right now. (Only exception: a friendly chicken)

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4/10/2021 11:29am

The teacher for bioalchemistry makes lectures so much harder than they need to be. Today he described every single form of tarnish that can occur on silver -- not how to alter the chemical structures or what type of plating to apply for prevention, just a long list of anything that could possibly go wrong. What, am I supposed to just memorize a rambling run-on sentence of anomalies? I really don't see how one specific situation of tarnish that allows vampiric souls to appear as shadows instead of invisible is IN ANY WAY RELEVANT TO OUR GREATER CURRICULUM--

Er, sorry. I shouldn't yell. It's that stressful time of year (I say, as if stress is seasonal rather than an integral part of existence). My temper is getting away from me. And when your banshee roommate is saying you're hysterical, you know something's up. Sorry, Bean-Sídhe.

The students in the dorm below us have taken up drum circle chanting. I can't tell if it's conjuration or manifestation rhythm patterns -- they're so similar in the chorus -- but whichever it is they're devoted to practicing. I'd admire their commitment if they didn't tend to practice in the wee hours of the morning. Lack of sleep doesn't sit well with me. I've been so grumpy, I'm daydreaming of mixing up a special skin lotion... Toxicodendron vernix, Toxicodendron diversilobum, and Toxicodendron radicans. All natural "exfoliatation" recipe, left innocently at their doorstep.

No, no, I wouldn't actually do that. And even if I did, I'd probably feel bad halfway through and dilute the concentrations to something barely noticeable. Besides, I don't like messing with Toxicodendron vernix. If you burn it and inhale the smoke, it severely irritates your lung linings. I'd rather not suffocate from itchy air because I left the leaves in the drying oven too long.

My dad isn't as nervous as me when handling those volatile ingredients. That madman will dive into any thicket, mindless to phototoxins, barbs, and distress phytochemicals. If there's an ingredient he needs, there will be nothing to halt his foraging quest. We once spent half a family vacation digging through sand and trudging through mist banks in search of an adequately aged Welwitschia mirabilis. Gosh, I hope I can get skilled enough at these alchemy and biogenesis courses to do work like he does.

I guess that's the challenge of school sometimes. In the thick of it, the courses simply feel like a long trial of random obstacles. An incessant process of examination, vigilantly scrutinizing for any reason to label you inadequate. But when you look back, it's so much clearer why a foundational concept had to be drilled into your head (not literally, trepanation has been banned at Psyhigh for decades now). Annoying essay assignments today create a better writer tomorrow. Mindless repetitions of an incantation build mental reflexes for an unexpected attack. Maybe if teachers explained more how lessons and lives linked together, we wouldn't hate school quite as much.

Doubtful. I think students despising classwork is one of the few constants of the multiverse. And since we only have a handful of constants, we should probably not be trying to reduce them further. The Time and Dimension Regulator Committee is overworked as is.

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4/7/2021 11:48am

Identities are difficult. Going away to these boarding schools, or college, or heck just leaving home -- you have this opportunity. No one knows you, and you've got to introduce yourself over and over again. But people aren't interested in your whole sob story, the grand developmental arc of one rando they've encountered in passing. So we start distilling it down, compressing ourselves into a compact business card of a person. Pick your most important traits, your most favorite parts of self. Name. Speciality. Style. Contact.

Elizabeth, Astral Architecture, Classy, Always Studying In The East Gardens

Rudy, Krezner Technology, Broody, Usually In The Awakening/Enhancing Labs

Charlie, Targeted Subconscious Marketing, Energetic, Stop By Their Dorm Anytime

Huldra, Chlorokinetics, Aimless, Good Luck

Some of my friends want the card to be bigger. Include more identity, more names. I'm never convinced other people care though. Sometimes it seems like an exercise in vanity. Your dentist doesn't gain anything from knowing you're a Leo, but you feel some sort of reaffirmation from aligning yourself to that label again. (Such a Leo thing to do.)

I just am. Why do I need to defend that, or justify it, or splice it down into some specific subset of characterization? I don't. No one is asking me to. So why do I perceive there is this external pressure? People buy pins and stick them to their backpacks. I buy pins and keep them in my room. Both ways feel wrong.

At Psyhigh, a lot of things are fluid. From matter to identity to consolidated mental energy. It's not like we sign a contract at the beginning saying "This Is Who I Am, I Will Never Be Allowed To Change". I met an alchemist once who used to be a diviner. I met a Selkie once who used to be a human. I met a bisexual once who used to be a lesbian. Living is all about change, experiences cause and demand it. So identities should as well, shouldn't they?

Maybe I'll go for a walk in the woods again. Disseminating thoughts into the soil-plant-air continuum always helps me refresh. It's the release of pressure, relinquishing the obligation of self into a greater pool, into the supportive web of ecosystem. A tree doesn't know any identity. A bird doesn't care for validation. A rock doesn't need justification. A creekbed reimagines itself with every flooding rainfall.

I have a list of terms I could assign myself. Tick off boxes and slip into categories and allow you to extrapolate my entire persona from a handful of people-approved labels. I don't /need/ that. Building myself out of words means building myself out of puffed air. I'll act as I do, I'll think as I like, and all I ask is the space to do so (as long as it isn't hurting others of course). Titling something doesn't make it more real than not titling it. Migraines existed before that name was given to the experiences.

If you want to get to know me, you'll have to spend time with me. I no longer have the patience for these checkboxes and color-codings. At times, I even resent giving my name. I am, I simply am. That's all I have to share today.

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2/6/2021 2:10pm

Astral projection is weird. See, I'm trying to do regular meditation stuff, so that I don't lose my mind again (common side effect of Psyhigh, you'll see it listed on the back of the school brochure). I like it alright, though I have what some professionals call "a slippery soul". Give enough of a gap and it's liable to just... slide on out. And meditation, when you go too deep, is one such gap.

Half the time I don't even notice. I'll just be sitting in class with my hand raised, wondering why the teacher won't call on me, and BAM. One of my roommates will fart or something, and whatever magnetic attraction links body <--> mind <--> soul just SNAPS me back into a cohesive being. Pretty jarring. Plus, then I have to run across campus to /physically/ attend the rest of the class. Kinda embarrassing to stagger in looking like I'd rolled out of bed, but there's usually one or two students with Other Sight who can vouch that I was in incorporeal attendance. @klayra, thanks I owe you.

So I had another one of these little "slippage" events today, and again I couldn't tell. The interesting thing though is that my projection was wearing different clothes than my body. For whatever reason, the projection was all bundled up for the snow, even though my body was in pj's. I could feel the soft insides of my boots, hear the muffling of my hat, and sense the claustrophobia of my too-small mittens. Weird, right? I'm not sure if my legs fell asleep and that got interpreted into the dulling sensation of wearing layers... or maybe my body got cold and was connected enough to prompt my consciousness to think of how to warm up... or maybe my projection was going to head outside so it/I bundled up because that-is-what-you-do-in-winter. I don't know. But it was super confusing to "wake up" from. I tried to take off my boots first thing (no boots allowed in the room, gotta keep the carpets nice) but there was nothing to take off? Ugh, majorly disorienting.

Once I got really messed up -- while meditating I astral projected, then as a projection decided to meditate. Which made my astral projection accidentally astral project. It was... it was like a dilution I suppose. Each layer of suspended awareness is less solid, less aware of the world around. Like the confusion of a dream within a dream, or the hissing solvating of soda bicarbonate into water. Dissolving more and more... but not disappearing. Never disappearing, the Law of Conservation of Mass would not allow it, not even in spirituality. No, it was just... phasing into another environment, by confusing gradations.

It made it easier to hear the plants. I already hear them well, but it was akin to synesthesia. The bursts of aromatics or build up of mesophyl resistance were actual events to watch, beautiful rhythms of life I studied in mesmerization. People forget plants are alive, that every minute they're doing things, moving, breathing, even communicating. It's just on another plane from us -- that doesn't make it any less real. Sometimes I wonder if I went back, if I could not just hear but speak to them easier as well. What would they say? Would they be surprised? Do they forget WE are alive?

But They say it's dangerous to stretch a soul too thin. And if I forget I'm a projection when I'm so far off, while I dissipate completely? Become a sylph, insubstantial life energy billowing through the empty spaces of the world? It's a little too risky for me right now. I'll wait to see if that projection-leash They have been researching ever gets released to the public. I'd feel better having something solid to hold on to.

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1/30/2021 8:42pm

Ohhhh I geel awful.

The girls down the hall invited us to a hallway party, and they had some of that witch's brew. We all drank too much. And the hall started extending.

More people came through, then same people came through, then non-people bipeds came through, the room was packed so the room extended too and we all drank too much.

Stuff started to spin but thet was because Benny was showing off the telekinetic storm until a window broke. Things rushed in and things rushed out and the people sing and the people shout and we all drank too much.

The party is still going, it's been going since yesterday night. But I can't handle the shifting dimensions anymore, I need some stability or I'm gonnna be sick. Witch's brew is good stuff, but it packs more than a punch. It mugs you and takes a good number of your brain cells. I hope my roommates make it back safe -- when I was leaving I saw a fight breaking in at the back corner, right in through the walls and out the floor. We all dran k too much.

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1/22/2021 10:03pm

It took forever, but I finally found it. My Bioalchemistry course, for whatever pretentious reason, has its own independent website instead of a page hosted on the school's @GROTTO G.S.M. INC. server. Thing is, the professor never said where that webpage was! So I spent a good couple of hours scouring all the obscure and outdated servers that teachers use, trying to find the portal that'd take me to the mythical informational site of Prof. Alderman. Finally, FINALLY, I found it.

Thank goodness for the Self-Aware Library, or I'd never have succeeded. I feel kinda silly for not going to it sooner, honestly. Tessa noticed me getting worked into a tizzy (apparently if I get too stressed the Mimosa Pudica starts drooping, it's always been too sensitive), and she pointed out that the librarians or the library would probably know. Information is their specialty, after all. So I huffed and stomped my way across campus to the S-AL, and wouldn't you know it, within a minute of my voicing the question to the information matrix interface a computer booted itself up. Bam. The Bioalchemistry course webpage, all loaded and ready for me. And you know why it was so hard to find it? Prof. Alderman spelled the URL with alchemical symbols instead of Latin alphabet symbols. Very cute, but also annoying.

I left an offering of an origami frog and a pristine apple for the S-AL as thanks. Hopefully it accepts it, because I didn't have anything better on me. Rumor is that if you don't leave an offering every once in a while, the S-AL may get offended and feed you false information next time. Like that smart kid in class who stops helping you after the third time you ask to copy homework. Er... not that I'd ever do that.

With all that settled, I can at least start focusing on setting up for my other classes. The professor for my Vitae Aedificium course is giving weird vibes right off the bat. It says the third component of our grade will be determined by our performance in fifteen cloning experiments spread out across the semester. He doesn't specify what we'll be cloning. It could be anything from a segment of mRNA to the entirety of ourselves! And we need fifteen of them?! I hope it isn't something difficult to store; this dorm is packed as is between three girls, five familiars, and forty-seven houseplants. No way I'm sharing my bed or desk with two clones of myself, let alone over ten.

Okay, okay, it probably won't be clones of myself -- not after the 2008 Essence of Redundancy teacher, who forced students to Battle Royale against self-duplications so only an "elite" version of themselves would persist in this elevation of reality (what a mess). I guess I just have to trust that Dean Hammer wouldn't let something like that slip past him again, and hope the cloning is something easy like a snake plant. Heck, those things are practically BEGGING to asexually reproduce and bud off! And that's basically a form of cloning, so I think it should count. Still... if you start noticing me around campus at a frequency higher than normal... please contact the administration, because something probably went horribly wrong. You know, like usual. Happy spring!

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1/18/2021 4:34pm

Stretch your arms and get ready to bud out, because winter is over!

Yeah, I know it's not. But I wish it was because all the fun wintery stuff is basically done now. After the holidays and the first couple of snowstorms, I think the glittering glamour of wintertime has worn off for most of us. Now it's just the eager vigil for the signs of spring. Are the bluebirds back? Are the sylph of Zephyrus prancing through the skies? Are the magnolia buds breaking? Every day is a longer day than the day before, and somehow that makes the wait seem longer too.

Magnolias are super cool, by the way. Have I talked about them before? If so, it's because of my deep love of these wacky woody weirdos. There's one just to the left of the school store's outside entrance. You can tell by its branches that kinda grow at angles which nearly look like honeycomb hexagons. Or the big fluffy buds it puts at branch tips to protect the baby leaves and flowers through winter. This tree is a total babe, one of the varieties that bloom really early in the spring -- late February the last two years, not that I'm counting. And the flowers! Big cups of yellow glory.

Magnolias are weird in general. They evolved BEFORE bees and had to kind of... scramble together a flower structure in response to the trendy new insect-based pollination scheme. Magnolias are also a flowering plant COMPLETELY separate from ALL OTHER FLOWERING PLANTS! Yeah, the taxonomists took one look at these gorgeous trees and were like OH NO HONEY, you get a SPECIAL seat at the table, right over here, yES sIR!

Magnolia flowers are edible, by the way. Some people even pickle the petals! Sadly, there is a no-pickling rule in action at my dorm as a result of my roommates outvoting me. Which is why the pizza we ordered for tonight's roommate-movie-date is totally boring. Just normal pepperoni -- and even then only on half, because Bean-Sídhe apparently hates anything that tastes good or exciting. At least Tessa was willing to try anchovies with me that one time. You know, for a gal with an affinity for familiar and feral animal spirits, Tessa is surprisingly carnivorous. I guess she cares for the soul, not the vessel?

Anyways, new year, new us. I'm trying to be better about maintaining communication this year -- less sulking alone in the woods or disappearing under mysterious circumstances. I mean, I'll still do it, just at a reduced frequency. Hence the roommate-movie-date, to try and spend time together purposefully. Tessa said her goal is to stop going on dates with guys that are obviously bad for her (i.e., the one who asked for her wisdom teeth as a Valentine's Day present, or the one who collected nightmares to torture his siblings with). We'll see how she manages that. Bean-Sídhe told me she wants to get more accurate in her predictions. I think we'd all appreciate that, though she already spends too much time shadowing some of the senior professors for their comfort. For her birthday I'm going to get her a fresh set of casting runes. The bones she's using right now are hand-me-downs and really worn out. Maybe some fresh marrow will speak more clearly of tomorrow.

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12/21/2020 7:29am

Hello, Huldra back from the infirmary. No physical injuries really, just psychological. Which is lucky, because honestly I'm not sure how well the school nurses can deal with physical issues. Once I came in to ask for a bandage, and the nurse just grabbed a piece of scratch paper and taped it to my arm. I actually needed a bandage for the papercut on my thumb, but the look on his face kinda freaked me out so I just said thanks and left.

Psychological injuries though, that team is tops! Not with, like, depression or stuff, no, that's entirely different. We're talking hexes that prevent you from saying any word containing the letter "s", or suppression of the kinesis neural network due to feedback loops (hasn't everyone had that at least once?). So when the campus security dragged me in with a total loss of light level perception -- effectively, blindness despite fully functional physiology -- the school infirmary didn't bat an eye. One person said that when I was brought in, there was dark aura so thick around my skull you could see it as plain as my hair. Not black aura, mind you. DARK. Beyond color description. Freaky, right? I'm glad it's all fixed now. It took a couple days to ease the tendrils off, and I guess they had some issues figuring out where to put the layers once they'd peeled them off of me. But I'm back safe and sound in my dorm now, and I just need to do light therapy for the next week to make sure no residuals are clinging on. Easy peasy, only mildly traumatic.

And the plant? Don't worry about that. I figured something out. There was someone with the means and inclination to take the Dumpster Child Plant off my hands. I promised not to disclose the details, not even in journaling, not even in thoughts. Really... they purged the memory after the deal. All I know is that someone made a deal with me, they took the plant off my hands, and everything is okay. (Yeah, yeah, could be an implanted memory and everything is NOT okay, but I don't really want to pursue that right now) My roommates are relieved that the lights are functional again, though they both left for home a couple days ago. I'm leaving the dorms today as well, once I finish packing up. Mother expects me back by evening, so the family can all observe the winter solstice together. If I plan on using the Ley Rail Lines, I'll need to get out of here pretty soon.

This year the solstice is going to be especially interesting. Jupiter and Saturn will be converging to a fifth of the diameter of the typical full moon! (https://www.npr.org/2020/12/09/944560103/jupiter-and-saturn-will-be-together-again-for-the-holidays) I don't have to tell you the significance of this, especially on the longest night of the year. It certainly aligns with the heightened magnitude of this entire solar circumvention. Mother is very excited, and my brother says she's been prepping an observance ceremony for days. And she baked cookies! It's definitely going to be a good time. I'm sad we won't get to have the full clan reunion, but it's so wonderful that we have the opportunity to be together as a household -- plus, it's easier to talk when you aren't crammed into the feasting hall of 305 person occupancy.

So keep your chin up, kid. If there's anything I've learned this semester, it's that darkness is what makes the light precious. And don't steal plants from dumpsters.

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12/12/2020 8:01am

I've got to keep this a secret from my roommates, because they'd probably dangle me out a window if they knew my Dumpster Plant Tomato Baby was the reason our dorm has become a nullifying void for light. Luckily, I'm pretty sure they never read my posts anyway. Their inattention is my opportunity to vent/confide! Later I'll just have to ask the IT-Technomancers if there's a way to soft-lock this post from their perception. There's got to be a method for that, it's an intuitive concept -- er, I don't mean clairvoyant, I mean instinctual -- wait no, not like the Gnosis magics -- ah, whatever. It's too hard to talk when there are so many... terms. Direct mind-links are definitely the way to go, I don't know why we still muddle around with these auditory vibrational patterns.

Anyways, the plant. It's trying to put out flower buds, and I immediately realized something is wrong. As a chlorokinetic I'm able to connect with the energies associated with cellulosic beings, and let me tell you every alarm in my little plant-loving brain was going off once I saw those buds. This is NOT a tomato, no part of its auric exudates match that type of docile, domesticated sweetheart. And scrutinizing the aromatic secretions of the trichomes more closely, I realized there was a sickly-sweetness to it that a true Solanum lycopersicum would never attempt... really, could never even accomplish. No, the Mystery Trash Child is definitely a nightshade plant, but absolutely not one of our farm-friendly buddies.

So I've been quietly chopping off its buds whenever I perceive one developing. Tessa asked me about it once (I rarely dare to curtail a plant's freedom to expand, it's against my moral code!) and I had to make some excuse about how trimming the plant encourages new growth. Unfortunately, it looks like I'm right. The more I cut the more aggressively the plant extends shoots and amasses leaves, trying to shield its latest buds from my vision or wear down my vigilance by putting out a stress crop. If I didn't have my chlorokinetics to access the plant's intracellular hormonal pathways, there's no way I'd be so successful at repressing it. Luckily, accumulation of Auxin -- especially where Abscisic Acid declines -- is SUPER obvious. Plus whenever a bud gets closer to blossoming, there's this spike of solanine poison that just billows through the room. Poor Bean-Sídhe started having an asthma attack from it the one time. Yikes.

I need to get this thing out of here, but I can't be careless. Obviously, this is an escapee from one of the more hazardous CBC experiments -- maybe a first run of the Nyctinastic trials, or a pet project of an Advanced Brewing student? Whatever its origins, it's been planning things from the start -- it was silly of me not to realize that. I just love new houseplants too much! But now even our computer screens dim and wink out within minutes, and I'm getting paranoid it'll try to bloom during the night before I can stop it. I don't want to kill it -- all life is precious, it didn't ask to be created -- but where/how can I safely transfer it? Wherever it goes, it's going to defeat light itself and pursue some ominous reproductive ambition that can in no way be good. Maybe I can ask one of the Deep Dwarven exchange students to take it home with them. They have some bottomless caverns of darkness that might work well for this darkest nightshade of all. Nightshadow, perhaps? Nightvoid? The next new moon is in two days. I need to work quickly, I can tell the plant is getting excited.

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