This is one of the 'lost and forgotten' from the project previously known a Velvet Horizons. Its lost and forgotten becasue it won't be appearing in the book. The name 'Foul Gamboge' might be, because I really like it, and the image below might be, but it won't be this monster.
FOUL GAMBOGE 109
"Foul foul foul is the Gamboge, hated by all decent men. Treacherous, covetous, greedy, lustful, cowardly and just intelligent enough to try to break into your house. Servile though and, rather than a wild beast, something actively attracted to mankind." - Leptoblast
“The Foul Gamboge are simply Icter-Men, addicts of the Icter Flower, an urban blight and sometime rural plague. In Jukai I saw them stepped over on street corners in the mornings where they lie asleep, or piled in vacant homes. Haunting the margins of the crowd in ones or twos. No-one looks at them, they are not spoken of, or to, sometimes stupid people throw them food or let them eat from bins.
They are not hard to overawe or bribe, cowards entirely are they all, hungry without end, ceaselessly starving and begging for food. Or drink, or sex, or alcohol, or company of any kind, or any drug and most of all the Icter Flower for which they will risk any harm.” - Zenithal
The Icter flower is hardy, plentiful, addictive and banned. It grows well in dry or stony ground and flourishes where more sustaining crops would die. In cites, tows and villages it grows sometimes as a weed, from the cracks in dying houses or the fissures in abandoned venting pipes. If seen it is pulled up and composted in locked piles. Possession is a crime, distribution is a crime, consumption is a crime and seeing one and failing to uproot and hand it in is criminal as well. But still the Icter Flower grows.
When dried and burnt, the yellow petals of the Icter Flower emit a blue-grey glaucous smoke that pauses slightly in the air. This odourless curl and a smattering of barely-perceptible ash are all the evidence that’s left. The vapour is a mighty drug. It stings on inhalation, and imbues with drive and mental power. Icter smoke raises verbal and social intelligence, it fills the user with a deep sensation of confidence and the belief that, whatever problems may assail them, they are resolvable and reductable by rational thought. It works. The confident and focused Icter-smoker often can unfold the tangled skeins of life in ways they never could before. And it is addictive. And it slowly turns you to a Foul Gamboge.
Your skin turns yellow-red. You teeth grow like a nest of abandoned knives. Your jaw balloons enormously, a small door into an empty cavern room, opening opening opening until it seems to grow in size then falls away somehow into the huge disclosed inside. Your hair falls out, your limbs thin down, plates bulge and jostle in your head, your upper skull is carried off by the expanding mouth, your eyes are out of whack. It seems now more correct to you to go upon all fours. Your rear legs bow out from the side, your toes expand and splay, your sex, if male, hangs indiscreetly down.
The danger of the Foul Gamboge depends upon their access to the Icter Smoke. The longer they go without it, the more supine and thoughtless they become. In cities they are minor nuisances, sometimes suspected of break-ins assaults or pitiful crimes. Sometimes rounded up, expelled, or killed. Gamboge in the wilds form pseudo-communities of grovelling despair, eating roots and earth, begging violently but driven off with ease.
If they get the smoke, things change. Icter smoke returns to Foul Gamboge much of what it took at first. Intelligence, drive and dangerous memories of what they used to be. Smoking Gamboge have full recollection of their former lives, they remember what they were and what they lost. In detail. Yet the Icter gives them confidence as well. A toxic stew of shame and grief and self-belief and delusional intelligent rage.
Gamboge will do anything for the Icter smoke and once they taste it, are capable of almost anything as well. For anyone cruel, indifferent or desperate enough, and with a good supply of Icter flower, the Foul Gamboge present an easy source of power. The slum-dross can be made a ruthless gang, the sweepings of the wilderness can become a horde.
But anyone who seeks to wrangle the Gamboge must be careful and cunning indeed. They will do anything, anything at all, to anyone to get the Icter flower and the more they smoke of it the sharper and more cunning they become.