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View Full Version : mistletoe & comfrey... how to make weak poisons strong with few resources



rosehips
02-27-2013, 02:39 AM
My mc will eventually poison someone using either comfrey or mistletoe for reasons I'll get into a bit further down. My problem is, from what I've read, neither are deadly poisons (I read this site (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2877602) about the mistletoe, and wikipedia about the comfrey).

My setting is a fantasy/decopunk city, and it's not meant to be extremely realistic, so I may just go with the mistletoe, which seems more toxic from what I've read. The reason it has to be one or the other, is that I am opposing two Norse gods, Tyr and Loki, and comfrey is sacred to Tyr, while mistletoe is sacred to Loki. If my assassin uses the first to murder the king, who has brought about the "rise of Tyr," it would be nice and ironic, using a sacred plant of Tyr against this acolyte of Tyr. My assassin is an acolyte of Loki, so using the mistletoe would also be symbolic in a satisfying way.

Ideally, the distillation of this poison would have to be possible with few resources, because my plan is for the assassin to make the poison while imprisoned, from a plant that she can reach through the window. However, I can justify her making it beforehand; it's just not as neat. If I do have her make it beforehand, I can give her access to a kitchen and possibly some other ingredients, depending on what they are. If she's in a cell, it's obviously a lot more complicated.

I have the method of delivery worked out--she's got a ring designed for the purpose. You remove the center stone and it reveals a pocket with a sharp sticker coming out of it. You jab the sticker into someone's neck or something and the poison gets injected in. The ring looks innocuous and I'm planning to have her keep it on her when she's imprisoned.

Any advice on how to make my poisoning work is appreciated. Thanks in advance!

Maythe
02-27-2013, 02:44 AM
I'm afraid comfrey is only inadvisable to take as it *might * cause liver damage if taken frequently. I've met people who regularly drink its infusion and they were healthy - I wouldn't take it or advise taking it but calling it poisonous is stretching things rather a lot.

I'd be interested in your source for its connection to Tyr if you're willing to share.

Unimportant
02-27-2013, 03:55 AM
My mc will eventually poison someone using either comfrey or mistletoe for reasons I'll get into a bit further down. My problem is, from what I've read, neither are deadly poisons (I read this site (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2877602) about the mistletoe, and wikipedia about the comfrey).
You might want to consider using mistletoe as the vehicle rather than the poison itself. Brush the sharp leaf tips in venom and use the leaf to jab the victim, or fill the berries with a toxin and put them onto the victim's salad. That sort of thing.

cbenoi1
02-27-2013, 04:00 AM
http://www.amazon.com/Deadly-Doses-Writers-Poisons-Howdunit/dp/0898793718/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361923172&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.com/HowDunit-Book-Poisons-Serita-Stevens/dp/158297456X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361923172&sr=8-2

-cb

King Neptune
02-27-2013, 04:46 AM
Deadly nightshade instead. It is strong enough to kill, and it grows in many places. Allegedly 10 to 20 berries will kill.

It may not be sacred to either of the gods that you mentioned, but it might grow outside a cell.

rosehips
02-27-2013, 06:52 AM
Thanks, everyone, for your responses!

Maythe, I don't think this is where I originally found the information, but here's one source (http://www.scribd.com/doc/105559792/15/TYR-first-rune-in-Tyr%E2%80%99s-Sett) that lists comfrey for Tyr.

CB, I own the first of the two books you list. I must be overlooking where it says how to brew a deadly dose of mistletoe. I did a search in the second via Amazon's "Look inside" feature, and it apparently doesn't list mistletoe at all. Didn't check for comfrey as I think that one's a lost cause.

King N, you're right that a different poison would work better... I was just hoping to shoehorn one of these two into fitting.

Isn't there anything that a person can do to make a poison distilled from a plant more pure and therefore more deadly?

Canotila
02-27-2013, 07:28 AM
She might be able to take a bunch of mistletoe berries or crushed leaves and soak them in alcohol to make a tincture. Then concentrate the tincture to strengthen it. I don't know if it would be strong enough to kill an adult.

How is the king's health normally? Is he a sickly king? Elderly? Is there a way she can give him repeated doses over a period of time?

rosehips
02-27-2013, 07:41 AM
So upon further research I found a site that lists wolfsbane as sacred to Loki, although I wonder whether this is likely. Loki fathered Fenrir the wolf, so it seems unlikely wolfsbane would be sacred to him. Also, one of his other sons was changed into a wolf. Anyone have an opinion on this? The nice thing about wolfsbane, for my purposes, anyway, is that it's highly toxic...

ETA 1: He's a young and healthy king, and she has no access to his food, unfortunately, or I'd have her comfrey him to death.

ETA 2: So with some more research I've found that mistletoe that grows on a poisonous plant like oleander absorbs some of the host's toxicity. I can't seem to find any evidence that oleander grows in northern Europe, though, but Yew trees do. So I'm probably going to go with a Yew-Mistletoe one-two punch. :) Sound good?

ClareGreen
02-27-2013, 05:45 PM
For the mistletoe, there's always the possibility of using something lethal physically made out of mistletoe, rather than a poison? Given that a spear of mistletoe thrown by blind Hod killed Balder, have an arrow-head or something similar made of mistletoe to do the deed, with bonus points if your wielder/archer is blind.

Or make the ring-needle's point serrated, and rip open the carotid...

rosehips
02-27-2013, 07:16 PM
I am thinking of coming up with some sort of mistletoe dart or dagger, although I'll probably also poison it. I do like the Baldr reference it would make. I could even figure out a way to blind her, in the situation I have in mind for the assassination...

mayqueen
02-27-2013, 07:25 PM
I'm familiar with early medieval English herblore, which has some crossover with medieval Scandinavian herblore because both mythological systems originated from the same place. There are important differences, but you can find correlates between some of the gods. (Odin is Wodan, Tyr is Tiw, Thor is Thunor, etc.) You might find it more helpful to find some sources on English herblore, since plants were more likely to be associated with gods. (Google "Nine Herb Charm".)

I'm only saying this because your sources seem to be from pagan reconstructionists. (I'm not sure the correct term -- folks who are attempting to recreate these early belief systems.) I'm saying this because basically, you could make an argument for any herb and its association with those two gods. So if mistletoe and comfrey aren't working out so well, pick a different herb! :)

Maythe
02-27-2013, 09:13 PM
Mistletoe (at least the European sort of the myth) doesn't have sharp leaves, although I guess you could make a small dart from the wood.

Maythe
02-27-2013, 09:17 PM
Oh you have a point MayQueen I have Pollington's *Leechcraft* round here somewhere... I shall go off and hunt it up.

ETA - not much use I'm afraid.

OP - you might want to check whether mistletoe will grow on yew as it's rather picky about its host.

rosehips
03-01-2013, 12:47 AM
I'm familiar with early medieval English herblore, which has some crossover with medieval Scandinavian herblore because both mythological systems originated from the same place. There are important differences, but you can find correlates between some of the gods. (Odin is Wodan, Tyr is Tiw, Thor is Thunor, etc.) You might find it more helpful to find some sources on English herblore, since plants were more likely to be associated with gods. (Google "Nine Herb Charm".)

I'm only saying this because your sources seem to be from pagan reconstructionists. (I'm not sure the correct term -- folks who are attempting to recreate these early belief systems.) I'm saying this because basically, you could make an argument for any herb and its association with those two gods. So if mistletoe and comfrey aren't working out so well, pick a different herb! :)

Thanks! You're right about my sources, of course. Thanks for the advice on "Nine Herb Charm." From what I found, that one references Wodan, but no other gods, correct? Do you know any sort works referencing Tyr and/or Loki?

And thanks, Maythe. I appreciate the help!

mayqueen
03-01-2013, 01:10 AM
I've been thinking about this, and you know, I don't think there are herbs associated with Tyr and Loki. Odin/Wodan was primarily the god associated with herbs and magic (and the runes). So you might get associates with animals, runes, and natural objects with Tyr and Loki, but maybe not herbs. Hmm. I don't know if that's helpful at all. :( I'm sorry!!

If the assassin doesn't have to use poison, maybe you could use something wolf-related or wolf-symbolic? Or since Loki is the trickster god, the poison could involve an elaborate trick?

calieber
03-01-2013, 02:02 AM
I checked Brewer's, and ... it's never heard of any of this, including the existence of comfrey (and nor has Chrome, I see). But the slaying of Baldr is mentioned at the entries for both mistletoe and Loki.

Maythe
03-01-2013, 02:11 AM
Speaking as one of those pagan reconstructionists this idea of herbs/crystals/animals 'associated' with a god, as if they each have a neat little list, is a modern thing. Yes some gods are associated with a herb or animal but that doesn't mean they all are. Also personally I'm not keen on (OK I fundamentally disagree with) the Campbell style pigeon holing of gods. Frigg is a fertility goddess, Odin a war god, Loki a trickster god. It renders them thin and one dimensional. Each has a rich personality and many interests - take Odin - poet, lover, warrior, magician, grumpy old sod. But then I'm a polytheist so I would think like that! :-P

evilrooster
03-01-2013, 02:13 AM
Oleander certainly doesn't grow natively in northern Europe. It may be present in modern botanical gardens, but it sounds like it wouldn't be around your character's prison cell.

Buffysquirrel
03-01-2013, 03:35 AM
She'd be better off using snake venom.

srgalactica
03-01-2013, 04:52 AM
Is there magic in your story's world? Maybe you can augment the plant with some magic to make the poison stronger.

rosehips
03-01-2013, 04:53 AM
Thanks again, everyone. You've all given me a lot to think about. (Snake venom, hmm....)

Maythe
03-01-2013, 11:10 AM
Also remember snake venom has a link with Loki. Before Ragnarok when the goods punish him for Baldr's death they tie a snake above him which drops venom into him.