Manna (hooves) wrote in little_details,

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Hello everyone! National Novel-Writing Month is upon us, and I have a few questions involving poison that I hope y'all can help me with. I have Google'd just about everything I could think of concerning arsenic poisoning (and combinations of it with periods of time and "symptoms") and have come up with a few winning things.

I'm writing a novelization of a video game (Fire Emblem 7: Blazing Sword for the curious) and in canon it speaks of poison at various points. In order to be sure my work is as realistic as possible, I thought to ask here. :)

World: Fantasy, Medieval
(I am personally considering it a 1300s-1500s equivalent, but there is "magic" in the world. However, I hate using "magic" as an excuse to airbrush over/wave away details.)

Poison being considered: Arsenic
It seems to fit everything from the first question, but I'm not sure about the second and third. :) I would love alternative suggestions, too.


Scenario One: The main character (Lyndis) speaks of her nomadic tribe's water being poisoned. Her people were "in such pain, they could hardly stand". It is then that a group of bandits attack them. She says that she escapes on horseback ("my father put me on his horse", "he lifted me up with his arms shaking", "the pain must have been terrible"), but that she was found unconscious by another tribe and that she awoke "ten days later".

We also know that (according to canon) there were few survivors (less than 10, including the main character). She does not say that she herself was poisoned, but we can infer that she was ("found unconscious, awoke ten days later", "my father put me on his horse"), but it is NOT stated as a fact anywhere in canon.

We can also infer that her people were mostly killed due to the bandit attack, not the poison they consumed. It still needs to be something that can be relatively fast-acting (within a day!) and that can bring a person to their knees due to pain...but that would not necessarily kill them.

A.) Since this is a medieval-esque time period, is it believable that she would be able to be unconscious for ten days straight? I have no qualms about breaking canon concerning this little fact. If she can wake up for short intervals, even if she's not herself/hallucinating/whatever, that would be fine. Or if it would be better to have her unconscious due to a physical injury, that would be fine, too. I'm really unsure about this one.

B.) Would there be any lasting effects for the survivors due to having been poisoned? Would they have a bit more immunity against future poisoning attempts? Any physical (outward or internal) problems/issues that they might retain?

C.) Would being poisoned affect one's ability to conceive? (ie: Could a person be rendered sterile? Would miscarriages become more likely?)

D.) I've read that arsenic IS tasteless AND odorless... But some people are saying it smells or tastes like almonds? I'm not sure which to believe!


Scenario Two: Six months after the main character (Lyndis) loses her tribe/family to the poisoning/bandit attack described above, she is found by a couple of knights and told she's the heir to a country elsewhere. (Her mother was nobility, but had eloped with a nomad, Lyndis's father.) Her grandfather (mother's father) is still alive, and they want to take her to him. She agrees to go.

On the way there, however, they find out that her grandfather is being poisoned. (He is being poisoned by his own brother.) It's made obvious that he is being poisoned, and the poisoner is not being very secretive about it, either. He wants his brother's kingdom for himself, though his reasoning is unclear.

The main character's grandfather is weak and bedridden. His food is being laced with poison.

A.) The grandfather is obviously old, even for medieval times. He can't actually die, but he will come close-- and apparently even after a year of recovery/no poison, he is not much better. That is canon. Will arsenic over time have this effect, or should I use something different?

B.) What long-term effects would there be? Would there be anything physically noticeable that would not go away with time to recover?

C.) Is it possible that his mentality would not be 100% during and/or after being poisoned?

(I am definitely okay with using a different poison if there is one that can be suggested. His symptoms are not listed in canon; we only know that he is bedridden, and that the poison is being put into his food/drink. Something else to remember is that he needs to live at least another three years post-poisoning.)


Scenario Three: The main character (Lyndis) will be poisoned after the death of her grandfather. This is NOT CANON. (It will be the final "arc" in the novelization/retelling, however.)

It will be an over-time (months long) poisoning, and I would prefer it to be suspected as an illness. Other people will pretend to be sick (acting as if they have the same symptoms) to push along the belief that it is an illness.

I do not want it to KILL the main character. I would like for the symptoms to start out small and slow, and get increasingly worse over time. Things like blacking out, dizziness, to fatigue, a general weakness (needing help to get up, walk, move) to being bedridden is preferable. Other symptoms that would work well would be things like coughing, nausea, vomiting. A mix of poisons is fine, too, of course. Especially if there are poisons that might help the "illness" image, even if they are not in any way fatal that could be used for a time.

She has a small loyal entourage that will be able to assist her with things like bathing, and eventually getting food and drink that is not contaminated. They will need to figure out that she is being poisoned (not just very ill).

The antagonists want her to be close to death before they kill her off suddenly. They want it to look like she died of an ongoing illness. They also want her to die without her affairs in order. (There are no heirs, and her only option is to leave her country to a nobleman friend of hers, which they do not want. They want to remain their own country, not merge with/be swallowed by another.)

A.) Is arsenic too obvious here? Are the symptoms (over time) too easy to guess considering the MC and her grandfather were already poisoned (perhaps with the same poison)? Any other suggestions for poisons?

B.) This needs to go on for 3-8 months. Would this affect the main character's ability to have children in the future?

C.) Would the main character have any lasting issues, physically noticeable or not?


Scenario Four: This is the easy one! I need a poison that would be easy to coat arrows, spears, and swords with for battle, but that wouldn't kill a person right away. I would prefer it to be slower. It can paralyze a person (Wolfsbane?) but it must be temporary, and it also needs to be treatable (or possible to just wait it out). A full recovery is a necessity. I'm not 100% wolfsbane fits the bill!

Thank you all for any help you can offer! ♥
Tags: ~medicine: poisoning

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