Getting an unexpected education in Oblivion

It never occurred to me that the herbs might be real. Why would it? I was used to picking things like Ghost Mushrooms and Dreamfoil, and I’m pretty sure they’re not real. And so to me, walking around the wilderness of The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion – what a lovely game that was, and what a lot of walking I did, like some kind of possessed rambler in plate mail – there was nothing particularly notable about ripping handfuls of St. Jahn’s Wort and Bergamot out of the ground while I explored. Just another made-up herb, I thought. And who came up with the name St. Jahn’s Wort anyway? It sounds disgusting. What is it, shavings?

Chokeberry, Cairn Bolete, Elf Cup, Lady’s Smock, Monkshood: they all sounded made-up to me. I mean Elf’s Cup for Christ’s sake! (It’d be a good cup to toast with, though, wouldn’t it? “Here’s to your good elf!” and that.) They’re all straight from the pages of fantasy, surely?

Then one day everything changed. I was in a health store, don’t hold that against me, when something caught my eye: a packet on a shelf claiming to be able to heighten my mood. St. John’s Wort. I practically fainted into the Rescue Remedies. It’s real?!

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