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Bloodoak

Twig is dangled above the mouth of a bloodoak by a tarry vine

"The bloodoak is no ordinary tree. It grows far from the well-trodden path. You don't chop down a bloodoak, you hunt it, with all the skill and cunning that you can muster. It can take years to tread a path to the glade of a bloodoak, and great courage to bring one down. Its wood--stripped and properly carpentered--is the finest in all the Edgelands for strength and buoyancy, but at a cost..."
Chopley Polestick

Bloodoaks were huge, flesh-eating trees found in the Deepwoods, feared by most inhabitants of the Edge. However, woodtrolls were brave enough to hunt them down. Bloodoaks were typically not tall, but could grow extremely wide. At the very top of the trunk was an enormous mouth, ringed with enormous, sharp teeth.

Symbiosis

Tarryvine

Tem Barkwater encountering a tarry vine

By itself, the bloodoak was incapable of ensnaring prey. The prey was actually caught by the tarry vine, a symbiotic growth on the bloodoak consisting of long, mobile tendrils. The tendrils of the tarry vine wrapped around the prey, reeled it in like a fishing line, dangled it above the bloodoak's mouth, and dropped it in. If a tendril was severed, three new ones sprouted in its place, though this could be prevented by cauterizing the tendril stump with a flame.

Once the bloodoak swallowed its prey, the creature was crushed inside the trunk. The bloodoak devoured the creature's flesh, and the tarry vine drank its blood.

Properties

Bloodoak-2

Tem avenging Steg Jambles

Bloodoak timber was highly prized by leaguesmen and sky pirates alike. The wood was among the most buoyant of any tree in the Deepwoods, and gave off an intense, long-lasting flame when burned, although burning bloodoak timber had a tendency to emit a bloodcurdling scream.

Because of its buoyancy, bloodoak wood was commonly used to build sky ships, and was also popular for use in sky-firing (although in the case of the latter, lufwood trunks could be substituted).

Bloodoak acorns were large, red, and throbbing. When powdered and roasted, the acorns were the key ingredient in Oblivion. This powder also became extremely volatile when mixed with phraxdust, and this mixture was prone to exploding in the presence of moisture. One such incident resulted in the destruction of Old Undertown.

The roots of bloodoaks acted like veins, pumping a dark, rich, bloodlike sap. Though deadly to male creatures, bloodoak sap could be drunk by termagant trogs, who were subsequently transformed from small, pale-skinned girls into massive, hulking, violent beasts.

Bloodoak Hunting

SignsOfBloodoaks

Glades surrounding a bloodoak grove

The wood of bloodoaks could command a high price because, quite apart from its usefulness, it was also extremely rare, as bloodoaks were highly difficult and dangerous to chop down. Those hunting bloodoaks, known as a "felling party", first had to look for a ring of glades--this indicated that a tarry vine hunted around that area. Once the glades were located, the first sign to search for was the "deathstillness" (the eerie silence caused by a lack of creatures in the area). As the felling party approaches the bloodoak, they then had to look for the "underscent" (the rotting stench of death hanging around the tree). Once near the bloodoak, some of the felling party distracted the tarry vine (many slaves were used as live bait such as Tem Barkwater and his brother Cal), while the rest chopped down the tree.

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