Vaninen is an herbal concoction that creates a hallucinatory effect on all who partake of it. Originally used in the religious services of the Kanapan people it has become highly sought after for personal use by the inhabitants of Santharia. Thus those that make use of this substance have changed from devout priests to nobles bored with life and beggars looking to escape from it. In other places the blend is not often called Vaninen, but rather is degraded to such names as Vanny and Skulldrift, or the most offensive name for a priest to hear is the term Swampjuice.
Vaninen is made from the crushed leaves and milky sap of the erinun bush. The
actual process is thought to be somewhat similar in creation to that used in the
making of the holy tansin oil. So, it can be
assumed that the leaves and sap are boiled with urine and some other substances
until the liquid matter is gone and only crystallized particles remain. Each
particle is less than a nailsbreadth in
size and varies in the shape, though they consistently bear a rough-edged oval
or circular shape. The most common way of processing Vaninen is by crushing the
crystals into a fine yellowish powder. Any Vani-hand, as dealers of Vaninen are
known, will have it in its powdered form. Much more rarely the crystals will be
found whole, it is in this form that it is truly potent and will fetch quite a
Location. The erinun bush is known to only reside in one area throughout the continent of Sarvonia, its existence on other continents has not been verified one way or another. This rariety along with its potency is one of the reasons why it is in such high demand even though it can be rather expensive. Only this demand along with the requirements of the priests of Lorfurno make people willing to go into the depths of the Aldridge swamp. A rogue's town named Aldridge Fall serves as a haven to those who legally harvest and refine for the priesthood, and for the more unsavory who take it upon themselves to make a profit.
Effects. Different people have slightly different experiences with Vaninen. This can mostly be attributed to the way that it is used. Despite some variances, many people commonly report drifting in time, they will take Vaninen and the next thing they know it will be hours or sometimes even a day or two later. Along with this drifting feeling, intense dreams or visions occur. It has been recommended to never take Vaninen when depressed as this brings about horrific, waking nightmares. Those who take it when feeling bored often experience excitement and feelings of flight or other movement. The priests of Lorfurno say that they commune directly with their god through the use of Vaninen, as it opens a gateway through the physical into the spiritual. In this same way priestesses of Seyella are said to make use of Vaninen so they may glimpse the future of things as only Seyella sees them, though this has not been verified.
Usages. Many ways have been found to enjoy this substance. Lorfurno's priests will take a piece of horn from one of the sacred bulls after it has died and shape it into a bowl. After that is done they will heat the bowl in a fire, blackening it in the process, and place the crystals of Vaninen into the bowl and pray over them, inhaling the smoke from the crystals as they sizzle and pop. The more common usuage though is to put the powder into a pipe and inhale the smoke through the pipe's stem. Another known way and considered a usuage that is not worth of Vaninen itself is used in a drink called swamp juice. The harshest liquor that can be found is used, and a pinch of Vaninen is put in, "to spice it up" is a commonly heard crude jest when that is done, then the drinker gulps it all down as quickly as possible.
Distribution. While the priesthood of Lorfurno keep guards at the town of Aldridge Falls to oversee the collection and processing of Vaninen at the town, it is impossible to keep the illegal production of it under control. There are so many shacks hidden throughout the swampy area that even if all of the priesthood's guards patrolled it they would not find all of those who make it in on their own. From these small time creators, and rumored inside connections, the substance is discreetly placed in unmarked bags, pots, and boxes and shipped down the Straits of Isthrius to the town of Isthrius. From there smugglers take small boats and make their way down the cove strewn southern coast. This route has become known as the Anchorage roads due to the many smuggler boats that can be found anchored along the coast. Unfortunately most Kanapan people have a deathly fear of the ocean, as in their mythology it is the home to the feared Great Leviathan. So, there is no sort of navy to stop the smugglers. Many of the smugglers get caught trying to take their cargoes into the port cities of Kurstir and Tyrstir. Those that make it to the compound of the Stormcloaks find safe haven and rich reward for their goods. From that Stormcloak port, the Vaninen is shipped south via the Isles of Quios to their ports of Carmalad, Strata and Veltin in Santharia. Locals will then continue distribution from there.
Information provided by Drogo