A Study in Green and Ghoul

When I am not out reporting, or looking after the Wastelands Museum, I spend a lot of my time in Malady Bog and Bloodmoss Swamp. Over time, I have come to know Shay McDowwl, a ghoul-urchin often seen lurking about in Bloodmoss, and we chat about crates we have found and so on. A while ago, nearly four moon cycles, Shay told me about a strange discovery he made: a kind of plant. He showed me one, and I kept my eyes wide open to spot one, but had no luck. A while later, Shay told me that he was working with two other Ghouls of the Black Market, Syruss Constantine and Oleg Kiranov, on a use for the plants.

My curiosity was raised and I decided to investigate the matter further. I asked some others if they had found the plants, and Sandling Honey said he had, passing the ones he found to Syruss for some kind of research. I was interested in the rareness of the finds, and it seemed only ghouls had an interest in them.

The Ghoul-urchin and the Plant
I went to meet Shay at his house in Bloodmoss Swamp. Shay is small in size, and his house is built to his scale so it was a tight fit for me. Shay told me the first plant he found, a small dark green weed, broke off in his hand, unlike an ordinary weed. The second was bigger and a darker shade of green. All had a fungus on them and some were badly damaged by it. Of those he found, Shay discovered most of them in two days, but others have been found since then. It’s not known yet when they grew, or if they are still growing.

Shay McDowwll, the Ghoul-urchin
Shay McDowwll, the Ghoul-urchin

Shay went on to tell me that Syruss acquired one or more plants, either by finding or trading with Sandling. Syruss showed them to Oleg Kiranov, and they formed a theory that the damaged plants might have some power. Syruss speculated the fungus came upon the plants from growing in the swamps of Bloodmoss and Malady.

The Ghoul Shopkeeper
Syruss Constantine is a thin and pale-faced being, skilled at scavenging and salvaging. This particular ghoul admits “the only thing that motivates me is to keep masheening…it isn’t just chopping smoothskins up, I guess.” Evidence of his skill fills the shelves of the Sledgepile, his shop in the Wastelands, which is where we sat down to speak.

We went over the sequence of events, the finding of the plants and their exchange of hands, and his description matched Shay’s. The only difference was that Syruss thought the plants may be found in other parts of our settlement aside from the swamps.

We then discussed the fact that the three people most intrigued and drawn to the plants were Ghouls, and what that might mean. Syruss informed me that Oleg Kiranov now possessed all of the plants they found and suggested he might hold more insight on the potential connection.

The Ghoul Researcher
Initially, I met with Oleg Kiranov at a bar in the Junkyard. It wasn’t a place I would normally go, but Oleg assured me I would be safe. He opened a door at the back of the bar, and led me down some stairs, into a pitch black tunnel. I then made several turns down more steps, getting more and more disoriented. I was sure I was getting lower due to the chill and moisture in the air. Finally, we arrived in a storage area of sorts. We were deep down, maybe below the bar but I could not tell.

Oleg and I settled ourselves down to talk and he confirmed the accuracy of what I had learned to date. I inquired about his intentions with the plants. The ghoul stated “You see, the lives of ghouls are very similar to those derelict buildings you see around. As the time passes, they become more and more fragile, ready to crumble at any moment.”

This was something I had not known. I had heard rumours to that effect from various stories among the humans, but nothing straight from the mouth of a ghoul before. Oleg continued: “So, we are just trying to keep ourselves alive for as long as possible. We want to find a way to fortify our bodies and minds, maybe even restore them to increase the length of our lifespan.”

Oleg Kiranov and the Plants - Photo by Patrice Cournoyer
Oleg Kiranov and the Plants - Photo by Patrice Cournoyer

I asked if he thought the plants might help with this goal. He went on to say: “Well… We have noticed that many of our brothers, who once were humans, turned into ghouls in a distinct location. Some wet place, a swamp in a most cases, with some strange vegetation all around..” I replied that I had heard ghouls like to be near water. Oleg responded “Yes. Like a moss or a sprout with some fungus on it…and that smell! Oh, that chases me through my memories!”.

Oleg then showed me one of the plants. The leaves of this plant were clearly injured by a fungal outgrowth.

Oleg told me that he did not think the salvage masheen could be used on such fragile thing. Instead, he had been testing the plant with various chemicals, but his results so far had not been conclusive. He was relying more on intuition and his cooking skills rather than machinery. He kindly offered me some delicacies from his larder, but I excused myself.

With Oleg’s assistance, I made my way back up the tunnel, blinking at the brightness found at the end, returning to the surface of the Junkyard. Perhaps more information will come to light as more residents share their observations; until then these plants and their curious properties remain a mystery. Recently, Dassina Andel, the tigress manimal, has found one more plant… so the mystery continues.