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The word "pesh" refers both to the bulbous, vibrant green cacti that flourish in the Katapeshi deserts and to the narcotic distilled from their milk. Nearly every settlement in Katapesh has a pesh field while the poorest farmers may own only two or three cacti in their yard. Pesh is Katapesh's main export and it can be found for sale in places as far away as Absalom, Cheliax, or Varisia. In Avistan, the area around Darkmoon Vale is the second biggest supplier next to Katapesh. The drug exists in many forms.
The pesh plant is a fuzzy looking cacti that grows best in moist, hot places. Since this is also where the Katapesh settlements are set up, this makes the plant a natural fit. In Spring, the plants bloom a distinctive yellow flower with red stripes.
The easiest way to make pesh is to cut one of the cactus leaves and milk their liquid. The thin, pungent milk begins to curdle after three days in a cool, dry place. An additive called nagri—a bitter salt mined from dry lake beds such as Sabkha—is stirred into the spoiled milk at this point and allowed to sit for another day. Large white lumps form in the mixture, like butter in churned milk, and a fine mesh strains the lumps (the raw pesh) from the liquid whey. Pesh in this raw solid form can be eaten plain for a narcotic dose, or more commonly smoked in a water pipe or hookah.
To make refined pesh, farmers must wait for the two months each year when the cacti bloom. Fat seedpods swell on the plants, and the farmers score the pods with sharp blades. Sap oozes from the score marks and hardens into resin. Farmers typically spend weeks of delicate work scoring the pods, harvesting the dried resin after a day, and scoring fresh marks until every pod is dry. The farmers then add the resin to the raw pesh to form sticky black blocks which can be eaten, rolled into leaves for smoking, or mixed into drinks. Refined pesh is much more potent than raw pesh and is considered a high-quality item for nobles and rich traders.
Pesh is hallucinogenic, often these hallucinations cause euphoria, paranoia, and enhanced aggressiveness. These effects last for an hour, followed by a time where the user is in a fatigued state. The flower is used as a food spice.