~¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨                                          ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨~
=~¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨                                          ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨~=
†=~¨¨¨¨¨¨¨                                          ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨~=†
*†=~¨¨¨¨¨¨                                          ¨¨¨¨¨¨~=†*
%*†=~¨¨¨¨¨                                          ¨¨¨¨¨~=†*%
@%*†=~¨¨¨¨               ===========                ¨¨¨¨~=†*%@
@@%*†=~¨¨¨              **           **             ¨¨¨~=†*%@@
#@@%*†=~¨¨                BLUE FIRE               ¨¨~=†*%@@#
##@@%*†=~¨              **           **             ¨~=†*%@@##
#@@%*†=~¨¨                ===========               ¨¨~=†*%@@#
@@%*†=~¨¨¨                                          ¨¨¨~=†*%@@
@%*†=~¨¨¨¨  THE ¨BLUE FIRE¨ IS A CARNIVOROUS PLANT  ¨¨¨¨~=†*%@
%*†=~¨¨¨¨¨  LIVING MOSTLY AT THE WESTERN ALVAR (BUT ¨¨¨¨¨~=†*%
*†=~¨¨¨¨¨¨   IT HAS SPREAD TO A FEW OTHER PLACES,   ¨¨¨¨¨¨~=†*
†=~¨¨¨¨¨¨¨           MOSTLY ROCKY COASTS).          ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨~=†
=~¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨                                          ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨~=
~¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨      THE PLANT IS A DENSE NETWORK OF     ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨~
¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨  GREEN-BROWN TENTACLE-LIKE ROOTS, WHICH  ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨
¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨   IS OFTEN CALLED "RAT'S TAIL" BEFORE    ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨
¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨    BLOOMING. IN LATE JUNE, IT QUICKLY    ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨
¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨      SPROUTS FEELERS, TEN TO THIRTY      ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨
¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨   CENTIMETERS HIGH, FILLED WITH PURPLE   ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨
¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨    HAIRS - THIS IS THE BLUE FIRE. THIS   ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨
¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨    STAGE LASTS FOR ONE OR TWO WEEKS,     ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨
¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨     DEPENDING ON FOOD ACCESS, WATER,     ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨
¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨                 CLIMATE.                 ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨
~¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨                                          ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨~
=~¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨  OFTEN IT'S NOT CLEAR HOW FAR THE PLANT  ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨~=
†=~¨¨¨¨¨¨¨     HAS SPREAD UNLESS ITS IN THE FIRE    ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨~=†
*†=~¨¨¨¨¨¨ STAGE. SUDDENLY, AS IF OVERNIGHT, WHOLE  ¨¨¨¨¨¨~=†*
%*†=~¨¨¨¨¨  FIELDS CAN BE TURNED ABLAZE (WITH THE   ¨¨¨¨¨~=†*%
@%*†=~¨¨¨¨  SAME INDIVIDUAL PLANT, AS WELL)! IN THE ¨¨¨¨~=†*%@
@@%*†=~¨¨¨ BLOOMING PEAK, IT'S NOT UNUSUAL FOR THE  ¨¨¨~=†*%@@
#@@%*†=~¨¨ WHOLE ALVAR TO BE CONNECTED NORTH-SOUTH. ¨¨~=†*%@@#
##@@%*†=~¨                                          ¨~=†*%@@##
#@@%*†=~¨¨               †**=====**†                ¨¨~=†*%@@#
@@%*†=~¨¨¨                                          ¨¨¨~=†*%@@
@%*†=~¨¨¨¨  FIFTY WEEKS OF THE YEAR, WHILE IN RAT   ¨¨¨¨~=†*%@
%*†=~¨¨¨¨¨  STAGE, THE BLUE FIRE FEEDS ON THE STONE ¨¨¨¨¨~=†*%
*†=~¨¨¨¨¨¨  ITSELF VIA A SLOW CHEMICAL ATTRITION.   ¨¨¨¨¨¨~=†*
†=~¨¨¨¨¨¨¨ THIS IS ENOUGH TO KEEP THE ROOTS ALIVE,  ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨~=†
=~¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨   BUT ALL GROWTH AND PROCREATION MUST    ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨~=
~¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨   HAPPEN DURING THE TWO WEEKS IN JUNE.   ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨~
¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨                                          ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨
¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨     NOW THE PLANT FEEDS ON BIRDS; THE    ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨
¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨  SEMISTIFF UPRIGHT FEELERS LOOKS LIKE AN ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨
¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨   EXTENSION OF THE SEA, AND BIRDS ARE    ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨
¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨ TRICKED INTO LANDING OR DIVING INTO IT.  ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨
¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨    THEY ARE QUICKLY PARALYZED BY THE     ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨
¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨      POISON ON THE PURPLE HAIRS, AND     ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨
¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨     DEVOURED OVER A PERIOD OF HOURS.     ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨
¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨                                          ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨
~¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨    PROCREATION CAN HAPPEN SEXUALLY VIA   ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨~
=~¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨  SPORES (CRYPTOGAMIA) OR ASEXUALLY WHEN  ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨~=
†=~¨¨¨¨¨¨¨      THE ROOTS ARE CUT, DIVIDING AN      ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨~=†
*†=~¨¨¨¨¨¨           INDIVIDUAL INTO TWO.           ¨¨¨¨¨¨~=†*
%*†=~¨¨¨¨¨                                          ¨¨¨¨¨~=†*%
@%*†=~¨¨¨¨                                          ¨¨¨¨~=†*%@
@@%*†=~¨¨¨                                          ¨¨¨~=†*%@@
#@@%*†=~¨¨                                          ¨¨~=†*%@@#
##@@%*†=~¨                                          ¨~=†*%@@##