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"I am the rightful owner of this continent. It was mine, all mine, every insect and blade of grass and grain of sand. I ruled it all. And then you came, with your outsized brains and your clumsy crushing talons and your fire. And you stole it from me."
— The othermind, The Poison Jungle

The othermind, also known as the breath of evil, is a sentient plant acting as the main antagonist of the third arc. The othermind can infect hosts, taking over their bodies while the host's mind and emotions stay unaffected. Hosts are created when an organism ingests or inhales the smoke of the breath of evil; hosts can also create their own hosts by injecting the plant into them, as with Wasp. Although a host has total control over others it infects, capable of controlling any number at once, all of those infected ultimately answer to the othermind itself.

Most HiveWings, with the exception of Cricket, Bumblebee, royal HiveWings such as Jewel and Scarab, and older dragons hatched before the Tree Wars, were infected by Wasp.

As of The Dangerous Gift, the othermind has gained control of most of Pantala, with those uninfected fleeing the continent towards Pyrrhia.

When Hawthorn fed it to Wasp during a peace treaty in order to take control over her and use her strengths and powers for good, she only became more powerful and used the breath of evil as a source of power to control the HiveWings. The othermind is now trying to take revenge and retake Pantala by controlling the dragons and pushing them off the continent or killing them.

Appearance

The breath of evil has a dark red stem with bright green veins, while the leaves are in reverse. Each leaf is the size of a dragon talon with jagged, tough edges. There are clusters of tiny white flowers between the leaves.[1] In the middle of the flower is a dark red — almost black — seed.[2] The plant has a leaf-rot and peppery scent.[3]

Personality

The othermind is shown to be determined, tenacious, and quite patient, as it waited, hiding in the Poison Jungle for thousands of years after its defeat when trying to claim rule of Pantala. It is also intelligent and opportunistic in its effort to retake Pantala, deceiving multiple dragons (such as Hawthorn and Sundew) into unknowingly aiding it. Its nature is to possess and take control of others, as it did to all the organisms that had lived on Pantala, and tried to do with dragons later. As a plant, the othermind has a primal instinct to grow, demonstrated by its tone when Sundew is tricked into growing it with her leafspeak. Although it is somewhat egotistical, childish, and easily angered, the othermind also seems to find great joy in intellectualism, explaining to Cricket the details and mechanics of infection to great length.

Logistics

When used by Wasp, she is not able to read other dragons' thoughts, but they are sometimes able to hear hers quite clearly.[4] The othermind controls her completely, just as she controls her subjects.[5]

Biography

Pre-Series
Before dragons lived on Pantala, the othermind had taken control of everything on the continent and used any means possible to keep out intruders. However, the LeafWings and BeetleWings managed to clear out the plant. It controlled animals from every part of the continent, as detailed in the Legend of the Hive, except from the Eye of the jungle, where it persisted for thousands of years. It is believed that the othermind evolved after dragons landed on Pantala to increase the likelihood of its survival.

After Hawthorn found one of the last remaining sprouts of the plant, he experimented on himself, discovering that he could control vipers he poisoned with it after he ate the plant. However, this allowed the othermind to begin to take control of him.

Shortly before the Tree Wars, it is presumed that the othermind convinced Hawthorn to sneak a modified version of breath of evil into Wasp's food during a peace summit, intending to make her more manageable. This instead had the opposite effect, allowing Wasp to directly control every HiveWing she stung, and unwittingly putting thousands of dragons under the othermind's control. Hawthorn could have been acting of his own free will at the time, but this is currently unconfirmed. If that were true, it would explain why Sequoia allowed the plant to infect Wasp.

The Lost Continent Prophecy

The Lost Continent
Nearly every HiveWing is under Queen Wasp's control, excluding Cricket, Scarab, and most of the Hive rulers. When Wasp speaks through them, her hosts' eyes turn white, but her powers were not expanded upon.
The Hive Queen
It was revealed that Wasp poisoned every egg in her tribe by stinging them with her tail, which had been laced with the breath of evil. However, it did not work on non-HiveWings due to Hawthorn's modifications to the plant. The HiveWing queen had a store of the plant in a top-secret greenhouse, which was burned down by Blue.
The Poison Jungle
The othermind made its first actual appearance near the end of the book, posing as a simple egg carving dotted over by Hawthorn. In truth, it had slowly been worming itself into his mind over the past fifty years. It had also disguised immature breath of evil as "Heart of Salvation," claiming it was an antidote. The othermind then tricked Sundew and the other LeafWings into burning a large amount of breath of evil, fooling them into thinking that breathing in the smoke would free the HiveWing army from the mind control. After the lie was discovered, the othermind spoke to Cricket and Sundew through Hawthorn, saying that it would get its revenge and reclaim the continent. Willow's killing of Hawthorn was a great blow to its expansion, as it no longer had a LeafWing with such powerful leafspeak under its control. However, by the end of the book, it had infected multiple LeafWings and SilkWings as well.
The Dangerous Gift
The othermind controlled Blue and Swordtail in the prologue to destroy the Poison Jungle and find any surviving LeafWings. It was also gleeful to have Swordtail and Blue in control at last. Cricket states that they came here because their home was destroyed by a big bad plant. Hazel mentions later in part one that she's the queen now because her great-grandmother, Sequoia, is under control by an evil plant, and as soon as she's free, Hazel can quit being queen. Snowfall connects to this. The "evil plant" and "big bad plant" is the othermind.

Relationships

Hawthorn

Likely its only real companionship since it was nearly destroyed thousands of years earlier, the othermind showed an odd, twisted affection for Hawthorn, claiming that it would use him as an outer shell until his bones rotted. He was also incredibly useful to the othermind itself, having some of the most powerful leafspeak on Pantala. However, it holds a grudge against Hawthorn for altering the breath of evil to only work on HiveWings.

Sundew

The othermind dislikes Sundew for helping Willow destroy Hawthorn but doesn't want her dead, knowing that her extremely powerful leafspeak could help it take over Pantala in a matter of days.

Wasp

The other preferred host of the othermind, Wasp was mentioned as a great ally as she was "poisonous to the core." It seemed amused that Wasp thinks she is in control and lets her do evil things freely, as those evil things pleases the othermind. However, it still maintains control and knows that she ultimately answers to it.

Quotes

"Grow wild spread far … […] Grow far spread wild …"
― echoing Sundew's leafspeak command (The Poison Jungle, page 256)

"I know, I know, […] You'll do something terrible and violent to me. But it will be too late, because then she'll be dead. So how about you stay on your side of the river while we have our little talk, and maybe she'll survive this, more or less. You too, little gnat. And you, disposable LeafWing. I can still see you; don't even think about sneaking away."
― to Sundew and Mandrake as he threatens Willow (The Poison Jungle, page 260)

"There. […] After all, it would spoil everything if you went to warn Sequoia. My whole brilliant plan, ruined by a trio of idiots? I think not."
― to Sundew, Cricket, and Mandrake (The Poison Jungle, page 261)

"Oh, I know how strong this jungle is. It's been my home for thousands of years, after all. It came so close to killing me at last, after so many had failed … but then Hawthorn came along and rescued me. Gormless lovely dragon husk. He's been so useful. I think I'll keep him forever, or at least, until his bones rot and I can't move him anymore."
― introducing itself (The Poison Jungle, page 261)

"Hee hee, […] the outer bark is Hawthorn, yes. All these years, he thought he was in control. He thought I was merely one of the voices in his head, his beautifully carved seed whispering back at him. […] Such a clever scientist. Left to test his experiments on himself, poor fellow. Imagine what he might have figured out if he'd had more test subjects. Aren't I lucky he didn't."
― talking about controlling Hawthorn (The Poison Jungle, page 262)

"Wasp, really. No, no, no. She's a perfect ally, all poison from her core out. But in the end, she's my puppet, too. I let her do all her great evil things because it pleases me. But one day she'll realize I've hollowed out her brain and she has no more control than her lowliest worm of a subject."
― in reply to when accused of being Queen Wasp (The Poison Jungle, page 262)

"All these thousands of years. I've waited to recapture my home and destroy you all. I bided my time and planned my vengeance. Even trapped in the jungle, I knew I'd find a way one day. I had no idea how easy it would be, in the end. You foolish, shortsighted dragons. You came looking for me! You fed me to your enemies! You let me spread and infect you, and soon you'll be no more trouble than my obedient snakes here."
― to Sundew, Cricket, Willow, and Mandrake (The Poison Jungle, page 263)

"Hee hee hee. You are pleasantly stupid. You really haven't figured out the next stage of my plan? Let's see, how did you put it? 'when the bonfire does nothing.' But of course the bonfire does something, you splintery twig."
― to Sundew (The Poison Jungle, page 263)

"Well, Hawthorn did have very powerful leafspeak. He almost managed to put a cage around me. He took advantage of one of my weak little shoots, who would have done anything to survive, and he really did adapt that branch of me to only work on HiveWings. Aggravating monster. I could work with it, though. It was a good start, but not what I needed. Not what I wanted. I wanted everyone. So once I was inside him, I had him fix me. All his little chains are gone. And now … I will have what I want."
― about Hawthorn trying to control him (The Poison Jungle, page 264)

"The fire has been lit. The smoke is rising. They are breathing it in, and me along with it. All those brave LeafWings, ready to fight. Oh, there's your mother, Sundew. The queen will be mine soon. It's too bad the Chrysalis didn't make it in time … but I will get to them eventually. For now, at least I have these two sweet little SilkWings to infect. Next important question. Which of you four should I infect first?"
― to Sundew, Cricket, Willow, and Mandrake (The Poison Jungle, page 264)

"Maybe I don't need one more HiveWing. Especially a deceitful, inquisitive one who won't shut up!"
― to Cricket after she attacks him (The Poison Jungle, page 270)

"I know you are. But you will be useful to me. I'm going to use your leafspeak to retake my continent. Between you and Hawthorn — and this feeble worm over here —, we can spread across Pantala in a matter of days."
― to Sundew about her and Mandrake's leafspeak (The Poison Jungle, page 270-271)

"Two little SilkWings, all for me. Just what I always wanted. And one of them a flamesilk! So nice when a plan sprouts exactly the way it's supposed to."
― to Blue (The Dangerous Gift, prologue)

Trivia

  • Willow initially called it the "othermind," as Sundew just spoke of it as the "breath of evil," but it had no name previously.
  • The breath of evil can grow on any terrain and soil.[6] It is described to be like a weed, and will spread faster than normal plants.[7]
  • The breath of evil may be spoken to via leafspeak,[8] but it has to talk through a host to communicate verbally to dragons.[9]
  • Hawthorn said that it would be best if the 'antidote' was spread into a water source, implying that it can also be ingested through water contamination.[10]
  • The othermind is the oldest known living being in the dragon world, being over 5,000 years old.

References

  1. The Hive Queen, page 277
  2. The Poison Jungle, page 137
  3. The Hive Queen, page 263
  4. The Dangerous Gift, page 175
  5. The Dangerous Gift, page 176
  6. The Poison Jungle, page 146
  7. The Poison Jungle, page 294
  8. The Poison Jungle, page 257
  9. The Poison Jungle, page 263
  10. The Poison Jungle, page 226
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