These potent berries are capable of inflicting vivid hallucinations on whoever dares eat them or even touch them. Grown only on one farm in the whole world, Embergo Berries are used as a potion ingredient for many memory-altering brews, including the revered Potion of Wakeful Slumber. Comparable to the size of a blueberry, these purple-red berries are avoided by even wildlife, apart from the Owl-Faced Caterpillar, which can eat the berry and its bush without consequence.
Embergo Berries were first discovered by a wizard named Etan Kell in 1287. Kell, while on a journey across Western Asia, stumbled across a grove overgrown with ripe, purple berries. Famished and in need of rest, Kell set up his campsite amongst the berry bushes and feasted. Unknown to Kell, he had just ingested many handfuls of Embergo Berries.
Kell then spent the next 17 days trapped in what he described as "terrifying and beautiful visions wrought with the beasts of shadows and the glow of a sunkissed morning." (Kell, p. 723) It was during this spell that a caravan of traders headed towards Mongolia stumbled upon Kell's camp and witnessed what they called a "man of fire with whale's eyes," (Polo, p. 341)
The caravan stayed with Kell until he was free of his hallucinations. Despite Kell's extended hallucinatory experience, he had managed to keep himself well-hydrated with the nearby river and had even built himself a hut out of mud and sticks. Instantly upon returning to the waking world, Kell vehemently warned the traders to avoid the berries. However, unaware that even touching the berries would affect them, three of their group succumbed to the berries and endured multiple days of visions.
Fascinated by the effect that the innocuous berries had on them, the head trader safely gathered a satchel full to bring with them to Mongolia. While further testimony to the berries' journey is scant, it is theorized that Kublai Khan, reigning Khagan of the Mongol Empire at the time, found them fascinating and ordered their propagation.
Use in Potions
The first accessible and written notice of the use of Embergo Berries in potion brewing was in 1562, in the journal of a witch named Letha Plammy. Plammy, having a mother struggling with dementia, hoped to brew a potion that would help her mother regain her fading memories. It is in this journal that Plammy successfully brewed the world's first recorded potion of memory restoration with Embergo Berries.
After her breakthrough discovery, Plammy immediately donated her research local hospitals and libraries in hopes that her potion could help other ailing sufferers of memory diseases.
Today, Plammy's recipe is still in use by the lone Embergo Berry farm in southern Kazakhstan. While a perfected cure has still yet to be discovered by magic or modern medicine, Plammy's recipe has eased the difficulties of thousands.
The planting of Embergo Berries was restricted worldwide through a vote by the High Mage's Council in 1872. Input from 182 different countries begged for a restriction on the invasive plant, which could seemingly thrive in any weather and soil. Livestock were beginning to suffer from constant hallucinations, and rural populations complained that they were afraid to let their children go into the woods lest they come across the potent berries.
A team of 12,000 mages armed with flame spells was deployed worldwide to destroy any living crop of Embergo Berries, a feat that took nearly seven years to accomplish. Farmers and brewers who made their living with the berries were offered alternative crops and hefty pensions to fill the monetary void the berries left.
Given the berry's miraculous power in memory restoration potions, the High Mage's Council allowed for a singular farm to be established in the southern region of Kazakhstan, given it could be monitored and prevented from overgrowing and choking out any native plant species. The solution to this problem came in a tiny package: the Owl-Faced Caterpillar.
The Owl-Faced Caterpillar is a rare species found only in the Western fringes of Asia. Long treasured by farmers for their abilities to scare off unwanted pests like crows and finches, the caterpillars are equipped with unique facial markings that give them a striking resemblance to the barn owl. The caterpillars naturally found their way into the crop of Embergo Berries in Kazakhstan. Farmers soon noticed that the berry bushes had been trimmed back considerably, and after finding the caterpillars responsible, they kept them on as full-time staff.
The Embergo Berry Farm has, since its inception, operated as a non-profit facility for the sole purpose of growing the berries and brewing memory restoration potions for hospitals worldwide. Dried berries are shipped out to apothecaries for home brewing purposes. In the early days of the farm, any income earned from apothecaries was diverted towards a Farmers' Fund to fully support the livelihoods of farmers who may have lost their income derived from Embergo Berry Farming. The program ended in 1967 once all farming families had fully recouped their income with alternative crops.
Today, funds are diverted towards memory research in both the magical and non-magical worlds.