Joke

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Poison Joke

Area

Everfree Forest

Scarcity

Uncommon

Nature

Magical

Plant Type

Flower

Identifying Features

Bright blue coloration of the stems, petals, and stamen, slight phosphorescence.

Uses

Edible (if cooked)

Warnings

Magical contact toxin

Poison Joke (and its subspecies) are a type of distinctive blue flowers commonly found growing throughout the Everfree Forest, but to date no reports have surfaced of the plant growing wildly elsewhere. These slightly phosphorescent flowers are known to carry a contact toxin magical in nature, which can cause a variety of effects that, as its name suggests, could be described as a prank pulled on those afflicted.
Known subspecies of the Joke plant include Practical Joke, Cruel Joke, and Killing Joke.

Habitat

Joke plants are a hardy plant able to grow nearly year round in the confines of the Everfree Forest, with very little preference for light versus shadow, warm versus cold. Rather, it is sustained primarily by the corrupt magic of the Everfree, and its lifespan becomes limited severely when transplanting it beyond the borders of the wood.

Cultivation

Poison Joke requires only minimal amounts of sunlight so long as it has sufficient exposure to the wild and corrupt magic of the forest it originates from, and therefor the only known cultivations of Poison Joke exist within the borders of the forest itself. When planted elsewhere, it sprotus as the subspecies Practical Joke. Widespread farming is, therefor, impossible.

Local Lore

"Beware! Beware, you pony folk! Those leaves of blue are not a joke!" - Zecora

Poison Joke was until recently, largely unknown to the Ponyville community at large, though it is well documented in books, as is an herbal remedy. Beyond the borders of Ponyville, the Joke plant is relatively unknown except to scholars, and a few alchemists.

The plant is regarded as a nuisance to those that have reason to pass through the Everfree, but given prominant town figures' experience with the plant, the remedy is not difficult to come by, so it's usually regarded as a curiosity at best, and a pest at worst. Joke subspecies, owever, are known only to dedicated scholars, and actual residents of the Everfree.

Properties

Benign

Joke plants, when properly cooked and prepared to render the toxin innert (usually by drying and baking), the plant becomes perfectly edible, if somewhat bitter. It is commonly used in this form as an additive to gourmet chocolates, which adds a very slight blue tint to the finished product. These chocolates are available in Ponyville, and far more expensively elsewhere.

Poison joke also has a unique property largely unknown save for those ponies dedicated specifically to the study of the Everfree: The Joke family has the capability to purify over long periods of time corrupt magic in an area. As a result, the borders of the Everfree Forest are very slowly shrinking. When the corruption is no longer sufficient for one kind of Joke, the next weakest plant takes its place. It is for this reason that Poison Joke is found primarily in the outskirts of the forest.

Malign

Poison Joke's primary malignant factor is, of course, its contact toxin, which may take between 12 and 24 hours to take full effect, usually during sleep. This contact toxin has very unpredictable effects, and tends to be very dependent on the pony afflicted. Repeated exposure to this toxin only occasionally produces the same effect twice, and it is theorized that the magic inherent in the toxin mixes with a ponies own to produce the unique effects it is known for.
Examples of such effects include:

  • Swollen tongue, rendering speech impossible
  • Deepening of vocal range
  • Anatomical irregularities
    • Such as the repositioning of a Pegasi's wings
  • Magical irregularities
    • Inexpected effects on ones magic have bee nreported, usually minor or aesthetic
  • Aesthetic irregularities
    • Such as fur changing color
    • Alternately, an increasingly bad hair day.

Poison Joke afflictions are easily noticable by blue spots appearing in the afflicted area, sometimes beneath fur level on the flesh.

Other

The most common form of the Joke plant (Poison Joke) tends to grow in clusters, individual flowers providing a low carpeting similar to grass roughly ankle-high on a full grown mare, but with petals and stamen sometimes reaching halfway to the knee. Each flower has five petals, and averages four stamen which extend several inches, all of which are a distinctive royal blue. The plant is, additionally, slightly phosphorescent, visible even at night. This telltale blue glow has been observed to be avoided by nearly all of Everfree's natural inhabitants unless provoked.

Acquisition

Though common within the forest itself, the limited habitat and ponies willing to gather it make Joke somewhat expensive to purchase in large quantities, though smaller samples such as single petals or stamen are much more easily acquired. Poison Joke toxin is available in various well-stocked apothecaries and alchemist stores located in or near Ponyville, with a few rare ones stocking it in Canterlot. In small amounts, of course.

Subspecies

Practical Joke

This subspecies of Poison Joke is artificial in nature, in that it does not propagate itself in the wild. Its coloration is a very dull blue-green, and bears much smaller flowers, favoring instead prominant five-leaf configurations. It is rather similar to poison oak in appearance and habitat, though will not naturally breed.

Scarcity and Acquirement

Rare
Practical Joke is found only in small amounts in the outmsot outskirts of Everfree every few years, and only in small clusters. The plant is annual, however the flowers do not produce pollen, and is therefor sterile. The only source of Practical Joke is through planting Poison Joke seeds in fertile, but magically neutral soil, or gathering it during the years it can be found.

Differences in Properties

Practical joke is for the most part, harmless, overall. The rashes wear off in a manner of days, and only its blue coloration and the shape of its flowers (which bloom in June through August). If the contact toxin is concentrated from numerous samples, it can produce effects similar to true Poison Joke, but very temporary, lasting only a week at most, and largely aesthetic only.

Cruel Joke

Found only deeper in the Everfree, this cousin to Poison Joke emits a visible phosphorescence that makes it visible even in the darknest of nights. Additionally, while Poison and Practical joke grow as flowers, Poison Joke forms a small shrub, vvery bright blue in its appearance, ranging in height from knee to wither-height on an average mare. No creature from the Everfree willingly approaches these plants.

Scarcity and Acquirement

Rare
Cruel Joke is a legally controlled substance, and there are harsh fines for removing samples from the forest. This is largely unecessary, as gathering it is hazardous, as is approaching its natural habitat, which tends to be deeper within the Everfree Forest than many ponies are willing to travel.

Differences in Properties

While Poison Joke effects are somewhat amusing in others, or in retrospect, they are almost without exception harmless overall. Cruel Joke, however, is dangerous, and while not lethal, can cause real harm to anypony or anything to be afflicted with its contact toxin. Because of how rare cases of Cruel Joke poisoning are encountered, the antidotes are generally pricey and / or obscure, and unpleasant.
Examples of Cruel Joke afflictions include:

  • Removal of a mouth for a pony which speaks frequently or loudly.
  • Balding of a pony that prizes their appearance, as well as hives, blemishes, blisters, and other discomforting and disfiguring alterations in appearance, becoming worse with time.
  • Magical afflictions, such as spells having the opposite effect of what is intended when cast.

Like Poison Joke, telltale symptoms include blue spots over the afflicted area, but are always visible somewhere. Additionally, the rashes have been reputed to glow in the dark.



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Killing Joke

Growing as tall as a work-pony, this plant could be called a bush or even a small tree more easily than a flower of any kind. Killing Joke is thick, leafy, and bushy, the phosphorescence bright enough to be seen from a distance and emitting enough light to read by. The toxin is so potent as to be lethal in most circumstances, and is copious to the point of beading in the form of dew on the leaves. These telltale signs make it a plant which is avoided by all known life in the Everfree at all costs.

Scarcity and Acquirement

Very Rare
Growing in only the deepest, foulest, most corrupt and inaccessible portions of the Everfree, this plant has only been rumored to exist for many years until within the past few decades, a sample was successfully retrieved. It has since ben banned under penalty of excessive fines coupled with jailtime to intentionally remove even a sample of this plant from the confines of the forest. It is illegal to buy and sell, and even the intent to purchase any amount is punishable with small fines or community service.

Differences in Properties

Killing Joke measures up to its name rather harshly, and while not always lethal in and of itself, those ponies afflicted with it are unlikely to make it out of the Everfree alive. There is no known antidote for Killing Joke, and the effects do not wear off in time. It is theorized this is because the toxin somehow corrupts the pony themselves, but researchers are unwiling to experiment to determine the exact cause.
Examples of Killing Joke afflictions:

  • The stripes being removed from a zebra, as well as anything they happen to be attached to.
  • Nervous ponies literally losing their heads.