foul-smelling plant is found growing on the rocky coasts of
R'unor where it appears to thrive in soil not
suited to many other plants. The Bethelatron gets around the problems of poor
soil by the expedient of trapping and consuming flesh in the large bowl-shaped
structure in its centre, called the pod. Its most frequent meals are carrion
birds as well as other scavengers drawn to the smell. The nectar which is
produced only during the flowering of this plant gives off a delightful
fragrance; it is collected and formed into various expensive and tasty drinks.
The flower of this plant is called the Bethelbloom.
Appearance. The Bethelatron is a large grey green plant growing only in the Isles of R'unor. It is half a fore high and a full fore in width, made up of between 3 and 5 large, waxy, veined leaves which make up the central bowl of the plant. A thick, viscous liquid covers the inside of this pod, capable of trapping small mammals and birds up to the size of a corbie.
Arrayed on the ground around the bowl are an equal number of wide green leaves that lie flat on the ground around the plant. At the base of each leaf grows a short vine, which is usually buried in the dusty soil just beneath the surface. These vines are usually greyish-green mottled with brown and would be difficult to see in any case. There are fine hairs which appear to 'hear' or feel vibrations of approaching animals all along the length of the vines, as well as tiny thorns or 'stingers'. The stingers contain a substance capable of causing difficulty breathing and lethargy, leading to sleep in a full-grown human, paralysis to most birds, and death to smaller animals such as mice or rats. Being stung by this plant is very dangerous, for when it stings the vine will whip toward the place it felt contact and wrap around any unwary prey, slowly drawing it to the pod.
In the fall at the base of each vine a hollow stalk forms and grows to curve slightly towards the middle of the plant. These stalks are hollow and bloom into large red spotted yellow flowers. The spots, which are about the size of a human fingernail, are red fading to purple in the center on the outside, while the inside is a pale yellow without any spots. The flower is about one and a half palmspans across and a palmspan front to back. When the flower starts to grow the plant absorbs all the foul smelling slime used to digest its victims and excretes a sweet smelling substance in small pouches at the base of the stems. This is to to attract animals close by so that the plant can spread its seeds and pollen. This substance is called "Bethelom Nectar" and can be harvested at this time as the vines have sprouted leaves and are not active in early fall when the plant flowers.
Territory. The only place this plant grows is in the rocky soil along the coast of of the R'unorian Islands, located in the Aetryiam Sea between the continents of Sarvonia and Nybelmar. There they get plenty of water to produce the liquids they use in reproduction and the digestion of meat. It is believed that the plant needs saltwater nearby for the seeds to germinate properly and this is the reason it grows only near the coast. The shallow root system probably is to be the reason it grows in rocky soil. This gives the plant something it can anchor to during the gales that blow in off the sea.
Usages. There are two different things the Bethelatron plant is used for - to produce beverages out of the plant's nectar and to use the corrosive digestive juices as an alchemical ingredient.
a) The Bethelom Nectar
The nectar is very expensive, and has been made into three different beverages by the population of R'unor. All three are expensive and are exports for trade with the rich cities all over the world of Caelereth:
By watering down this liquid 5/1 it can be drunken as a pick me up or added to other drinks or used in cooking.
The second beverage is made by fermenting the juices this plant produces and made into Bethelom Wine which is a sweet beverage and is not very strong.
The third beverage is made by distilling the liquid into a Bethelom Brandy which is quite strong and has a rich clear green colour. The monks of a Vulrath Abbey swear it is good for digestion and drink it in small amounts with their meals.
These drinks are actually quite expensive as the plant does not
do well in groups and cannot be farmed, except by the Brothers at the Vulrath
Abbey. The reason is that meat is needed for a young plant to reach its full
size and if it doesn't it will not go into the reproduction cycle and produce
the nectar. Rendering the plant useless. The Brothers feed the plants rabbits
which grow well in captivity and mate constantly ensuring a constant food supply
for the plants. It can only be harvested during the fall for a few mugs a plant
a day, and this also only for a short time period of approximately three days.
b) The Digestive Juices
This foul smelling substance is only of intrust to alchemists and they usually collect the substance themselves, as it needs experience to gather the juices without being harmed .Then the alchemists refine a liquid from it that can dissolve rock. This substance indeed has to be harvested very carefully, usually in a meticulous process which involves finding and removing all the vines so that approaching the plant is not as dangerous. and putting the substance safely into a glass vessel is possible.
Reproduction. During the reproductive phase, occurring at regular intervals every year, the bowl will undergo a significant transformation: The foul mixture is drained into sacks located at its base and is replaced by a sweet and a greenish coloured liquid. This process takes between 3 and 4 days. During this time the plant sprouts between 3 and 5 large 1/2 palmspan across yellow flowers with spots about one nailsbreadth of deep red shading to purple toward the center. Each flower with its own stalk grows from the spot where the vine is attached to the plant, spaced around the bulb facing the center. The vines are dormant at this time and sprout leaves to help feed the plant during the reproduction cycle. Many birds, insects, as well as some animals gather to feed on the nectar, covering themselves in pollen and spreading it to other Bethelatron in the process. Although it is possible for one plant to impregnate itself this happens rarely.
Every other Bethelatron is female and forms seed pods which are one finger length long and half a fingernail wide, the rest are male and only contain pollen. Once pollination occurs seed pods form in the flower, which wilts and turns to face outward. After 3 days of the seed pods split and the spinney seeds are revealed, then the seeds of this plant are covered in sharp spines with hooked ends and can be a problem if stepped on. They are about the size of a kernel or corn. There are about five seeds per pod. These attach to animals and birds to be taken away and dropped to form another plant elsewhere.
Myth/Lore. The monks of a Vulrath Abbey swear they first found the secret of the carnivorous Bethelatron plant and were the first to make it into the various drinks. The monks have the only known farm of these plants in all of Caelereth and it reaches almost 4 strals across the coast in either direction from the Abbey. Approximately there are supposed to exist 1500 plants in all at the Vulrath Abbey in R'unor.
The monks of Vulrath Abby actually have scrolls dating millenia back which tell the story of the Blessed Vulrath of the Sea taking a kraken from the ocean depths and causing it to transform into this carnivorous plant, placing it in the otherwise barren wastelands of R'unor to aid his devout people...
Information provided by Selonious and Xenos Ravenbeack