September 23, 2023

An Introduction to the World of Cryptobotany

You swing your machete at the branches and brambles ahead of you, hacking a path through the underbrush. The forest is thick and progress is slow, but inch by inch you beat back the overgrowth, push the leaves and boughs out of your way. 

Then something throws off your rhythm. 

You swing and the machete sinks into a branch, sticks there. You feel the spray of liquid as it lands, warm on your face. 

Blood. It’s blood. 

You see it oozing from the branch, from the wound your machete opened up. You still can’t get the blade loose, but it doesn’t matter because branches have closed in around you, trapping you. Tiny branches claw at your skin, then puncture it, sink in like little teeth. 

Congratulations, gentle traveller. You’ve just met the jubokko, or vampire tree. 

According to Japanese fiction and folklore, the jubboko grows on battlefields after soaking up tremendous amounts of human blood. Since they’ve acquired a taste for it, they need more human blood to survive. They can’t just sit around and wait for more battles, though, so they go on the offensive, grabbing victims and draining their blood through tube-like branches. 

There isn’t a lot written about besting a jubokko, but… It is still a tree, so at least you know it’s not going anywhere. Hopefully you have some party members who are willing to help you out by cutting off the attacking tree’s branches, or if they’re ballsy and chaotic, maybe they’ll just set the whole damn thing on fire. Once a jubokko grabs you it will drink until it’s drained all the blood from your body, so someone better act fast. 

If you find yourself adventuring through old battlefields, stay on your toes and keep an eye out for bleeding trees.

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