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Correst's avatar

Shy Explorer

Hi, I'm looking for some advice/help with a problem I'm having with a fantasy story.

In my current story there is a character who is poisoned by a big snake-like creature, and soon falls ill. The creature is only known of from stories and legends, and it was thought to have died out by the people of this particular world. No one knows how the poison will affect him, since no one close enough to be bitten has survived long enough to keep track of that sort of thing, but he soon falls into a coma-like state and grows steadily worse. Obviously, there's no antivenom readily available.

There's my problem. In this country, there's maybe enough medical knowledge that if they could get a hold of more of the venom they could create an antidote, but that process takes weeks even in our world, and that's with more advanced technology. Apparently there's a whole process of giving an animal small dosages so they create their own antibodies, then using those to make the antivenom, so I could have an animal who "conveniently" puts those through faster. It just sounds a little too convenient though. There's also a garden with trees and plants from multiple worlds that has been introduced in earlier stories, but again it feels a like a cop-out to just go there and pick some mystical fruit.

So, are there any suggestions for another way to find an antidote? Or am I just overthinking this?
You are addressing it properly, since most snake bites kill quickly like within 12 hours. One thing he could do is cut the infected part off quickly. And have him fight for his life in a comma.
Soup Dumpling's avatar

Toothsome Elder

In ancient Egypt (read, Cleopatra's time 50-10BC) there were specialized people (the name for which I can't remember... I'm the worst) who were said to be able to suck out venom and cure the bitten person. In Cleopatra's case (according to the myths surrounding her death by asp) these people were summoned but could not save her. Just a thought. Way to get venom to test at least.
TottWriter's avatar

Friendly Hoarder

Sucking the venom out could be a plausible enough way to buy a little more time to think of a cure, assuming someone is near enough to perform that service at the time of the bite.

Beyond that, if it's a mythical snake-creature, you can probably get away with stretching reality a little and have them develop an antivenom, perhaps by provoking the creature to make its own antivenom as you suggested. I think that as long as you write it well enough, fudging reality a little for the sake of a story is going to be acceptable, especially if it's only timeframes and the venom is from a creature of your own invention.

If you present it as a balanced struggle, and one which isn't saved by the wave of a wand or something, sure, someone with a passion for snakes may roll their eyes a tad, but the majority of your readership will never think twice. In fiction, especially fantasy, there are some rules which can be bent a little, as long as it's done carefully, which from the sounds of it is your intention.
Great Lakes haze's avatar

Dangerous Seeker

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Sounds like some people are just going to have to hunt down the snake creature. Or you might have to think up a way to get it to come back.

I dunno. I'm always getting my characters in to fixes like that. It does take some brainstorming to come up with something that works with the plot.
Mortok's avatar

Tipsy Exhibitionist

If the creature is known in stories and legends, wouldn't at least one of those stories include a potential cure?

It's a fantasy story, so the cure can be anything you like, but if you've written yourself into a corner and made it too difficult to solve the problem without a "cop-out", I would strongly suggest that you come up with a different obstacle that your protagonists can overcome.
Correst's avatar

Shy Explorer

Thanks for the replies, I've been thinking it over and there's something I planned to introduce into the story which I could use to tie in with a cure. Now it's one of those "why didn't I think of that before" things, but this helped a lot. Thanks!
Aha's avatar

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Perhaps the creature, out of necessity, already produces the antibodies needed to make the antivenom. Cobra's, from what I hear, are naturally immune to their own venom. (And possibly Komodo Dragons, though that's still kind of up for debate as it was only recently discovered that they are venomous.)

If your snake creature is similar, then that part wouldn't be a problem and all the people would need to do is capture it and make the anti-vemon from it's blood. Still time consuming and suspenseful, but not overwhelmingly so.

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