A handy list of poisons for writing reference, provided to you by me, Bella
Poisoning is one of the oldest murder tactics in the books. It was the old equalizer, and while it’s often associated with women, historically men are no less likely to poison you. This is not a guide on how to poison people, you banana bunches, it’s a guide on writing about poisons in fiction so you don’t end up on a watch list while researching them. I’ve taken that hit for you. You’re welcome. These are just a few of the more classic ones.
Hemlock: Hemlock (conium maculatum) is one of the more famous ones, used in ancient times most notably in Socrates’ forced suicide execution. So it goes. The plant has bunches of small, white flowers, and can grow up to ten feet tall. It’s a rather panicky way to die, although it wouldn’t show: hemlock is a paralytic, so the cause of death is most often asphyxiation due to respiratory paralysis, although the mind remains unaffected and aware.
Belladonna: Atropa belladonna is also called deadly nightshade. It has pretty, trumpet-shaped purple flowers and dark, shiny berries that actually look really delicious which is ironic since it’s the most toxic part of the plant. The entire plant is poisonous, mind you, but the berries are the most. One of the most potent poisons in its hemisphere,it was used as a beauty treatment, so the story says, and rubbed into the eyes to make the eyes dilate and the cheeks flush. Hench the name beautiful lady. The death is more lethargic than hemlock, although its symptoms are worse: dilated pupils, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, tachycardia, loss of balance, staggering, headache, rash, flushing, severely dry mouth and throat, slurred speech, urinary retention, constipation, confusion, hallucinations, delirium, and convulsions. It’s toxic to animals, but cattle and rabbits can eat it just fine, for some reason.
Arsenic: Arsenic comes from a metalloid and not a plant, unlike the others here, but it’s easily the most famous and is still used today. Instead of being distilled from a plant, chunks of arsenic are dug up or mined. It was once used as a treatment for STDs, and also for pest control and blacksmithing, which was how many poisoners got access to it. It was popular in the middle ages because it looked like a cholera death, due to acute symptoms including stomach cramps, diarrhea, confusion, convulsions, vomiting, and death. Slow poisoning looked more like a heart attack. The Italians famously claimed that a little arsenic improved the taste of wine.
Strychnine: Strychnine (strick-nine) is made from the seed of strychnos nux vomica and causes poisoning which results in muscular convulsions and eventually death through asphyxia. Convulsions appear after inhalation or injection—very quickly, within minutes—and take somewhat longer to manifest after ingestion, around approximately 15 minutes. With a very high dose, brain death can occur in 15 to 30 minutes. If a lower dose is ingested, other symptoms begin to develop, including seizures, cramping, stiffness, hypervigilance, and agitation. Seizures caused by strychnine poisoning can start as early as 15 minutes after exposure and last 12 – 24 hours. They are often triggered by sights, sounds, or touch and can cause other adverse symptoms, including overheating, kidney failure, metabolic and respiratory acidosis. During seizures, abnormal dilation, protrusion of the eyes, and involuntary eye movements may occur. It is also slightly hallucinogenic and is sometimes used to cut narcotics. It also notably has no antidote. In low doses, some use it as a performance enhancer.
Curare:Chondrodendron tomentosum is lesser known than its famous cousins, but kills in a very similar way to hemlock. It is slow and terrible, as the victim is aware and the heart may beat for many minutes after the rest of the body is paralyzed. If artificial respiration is given until the poison subsides, the victim will survive.
Wolfsbane: Aconitum has several names; Monkshood, aconite, Queen of Poisons, women’s bane, devil’s helmet) and is a pretty, purple plant with gourd-shaped flowers. The root is the most potent for distillation. Marked symptoms may appear almost immediately, usually not later than one hour, and with large doses death is near instantaneous. Death usually occurs within two to six hours in fatal poisoning. The initial signs are gastrointestinal including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. This is followed by a sensation of burning, tingling, and numbness in the mouth and face, and of burning in the abdomen. In severe poisonings pronounced motor weakness occurs and sensations of tingling and numbness spread to the limbs. The plant should be handled with gloves, as the poison can seep into the skin.
Foxglove: Digitalis is large with trumpet-shaped flowers that can be many colors, but usually a pinkish shade. It may have from the term foxes-glew, which translated to fairy music. Intoxication causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as sometimes resulting in xanthopsia (jaundiced or yellow vision) and the appearance of blurred outlines (halos), drooling, abnormal heart rate, cardiac arrhythmias, weakness, collapse, dilated pupils, tremors, seizures, and even death. Slowed heartbeat also occurs. Because a frequent side effect of digitalis is reduction of appetite and the mortality rate is low, some individuals have used the drug as a weight-loss aid. It looks a bit like comfrey, which is an aid for inflammation. Make sure not to confuse the two.
don’t you love that part of the fandom that doesnt give a crap about magnus & his storyline, his past, and only ever talks about magnus when he’s supposed to save alec or do something for him bcs apparently thats all he could ever be capable of
They had both
still been in the sickbay. Cassian had been half-unconscious, Jyn a little
delirious from the medication they’d given her, but she’d still managed to turn
her head and seen the man in the bed next to hers. They
had fought together, died together and been resurrected together, and something had slammed painfully in her chest in that moment. Her limbs had
felt heavy, weighted, like if she tried to get up she would simply fall to the
ground, so she’d instead reached out an arm towards him. It had swayed a little and in
her punch-drunk mind, she had almost forgotten it was there, until she’d suddenly
felt the fingers clasp around her own.
They were close
enough. He was there. She’d looked across the space between them and imagined
if there were nothing instead.
In the weeks that
followed their release from the sickbay, they were quick to realise that there
were few who would ever truly understand what they’d been through. The brushing
of hands became holding. Jyn knew what it looked like, when he would reach out
and lace their fingers together as they strode determinedly down the corridors
of Echo One together, but she had ceased to care.
No one questioned
them. No one at all.
“No one–” She
gasped as she felt her back hit the wall, Cassian’s tongue tracing the edge of
her clavicle. “No one – finds out about this–”
He hummed a
little, enough to indicate he’d heard her, but not enough to assume he was
actually listening. “I’m serious,” she said, sighing as he moved further down
her chest, tugging the collar of her shirt out of his way. “We’ve only just
been cleared for duty, I’m not screwing up our chances of working together–”
“If he finds out
that we’ve been doing this a lot, he would.”
He smiled against
her skin. “Fine then. No one knows.”
“No one knows.”
He kissed her,
fierce and determined. Jyn had discovered pretty quickly that they kissed a lot
like they had fought on Scarif, with a push and pull. That had started during a
sparring match in the training gym, the two trying to work on getting their
strength back. A mix of their skills and their injuries had resulted in them
being rather evenly matched, and a fight could last almost too long to endure. When
he had finally managed to pin her to the mat, her face flushed and his bare
chest heaving, all logic had left her brain.
His kiss had
It had simply
carried on from there until now, when he was shoving her up against the poor,
unsuspecting wall in his quarters (which by this point, she often shared). It
wasn’t the first time and it wouldn’t be the last. Her fingers tangled in his
hair, keeping him close as he ran a hand up her thigh, hitching it around him. The
mechanics were often different, but the concept always the same: they would
touch with calloused hands, sigh with breaths mixed together, and as a result,
had fallen headfirst into something neither of them really knew how to put into
All Jyn could
think was this. I need this, I want this,
I will walk through hell to keep this …
“Am I still
allowed to hold your hand, though?” Cassian suddenly asked against her neck.
His wandering hand on her thigh was distracting, but she cleared her head
enough to answer,
“Why? The entire
base already assumes we’re sleeping together anyway–”
“It’s only rumour,
“Fine, fine,” he
rumbled against her. It made her shiver as he bent down and lifted her, both
her legs able to wrap around him now. They admittedly hadn’t quite perfected
this dance, yet. There was still much to learn about each other. There were
things to say, stories to eventually tell, and moves they still hadn’t quite
figured out. He pressed into her, hands inching high as Jyn practically shoved
her hands inside his shirt. The first time they’d done this had been awkward
and embarrassing. They’d had enough experience between the two of them to know
basically what they were doing, but a lot of magic gets taken out when it’s
punctuated with ‘do you like that?’ and ‘yes – wait, no’. Slowly, they’d grown
used to each other, understood how their bodies worked together. Now, they
could begin to explore.
Now, it was good.
his hips into hers, pushing her closer to the wall and sending a spark straight
through her. He ran his hands up her sides, dipping into her lean body and
leaving goosebumps in their wake. He found her hands, and he smiled against her
lips, lacing their fingers together. He pushed them back into the wall, Jyn helplessly
“Are you sure we
can’t hold hands anymore?” he rumbled against her.