THE CARABERY TREE ("SHADOW GIANT")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - FAUNA - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The Carabery Tree or "The Shadow Giant" as it is also referred to due to its enormous height is an immense tropical tree, which is known to grow exclusively on wet swamp ground, primarily on Nybelmarian soil like the Forest of Ronoth. The legend tells that the trees grow from the cursed ground brought into existence by the will of the dead and that they hold their memories - the memories of those who once fell victim to the hazards of the forest and never returned to the living. Some compare the Caraberies to sentient tree beings of other continents like the drasil or the pendrowe, though they are in many ways unique and defy such a categorization. Undoubtedly the legends don't lie on their eeriness - they indeed have something dark around about them, which is why many travellers prefer to forgo them.

The Carabery Tree

View picture in full size Picture description. The Carabery or "Shadow Giant" as those native to the Forest of Ronoth also call this mysterious tree. Image drawn by Seeker.

Appearance. The Carabery Tree is used to grow on wet and swampy or boggish ground, the more water it can spread its roots in, the better. The legend about the Ronoth Forest, its primary territory, tells that Ronoth is indeed the "birth place" of this strange form of vegetation, and that it was undoubtedly created by a form of magical or spiritual intervention. According to the tale the angry, restless souls, who died in these woods and now wander around, have created the Carabery. It is said that they couldn't find peace in the wet swamp ground, that they longed for graves, and so their spirits took over of the trees that grew in the swamps. The Carabery is called the "Shadow Giant", because - similar to the Sarvonian mahood euwen - grows without sunlight, and a whole batch of such trees even appears to seal itself off from the sunlight thanks to their many big, protecting leaves, which grow very high up. Especially because the trees can reach enormous heights of about 40 or 45 peds their density lets no light protrude.

The roots of the tree are very sensitive regarding temperature, even a small change will make the famous Carabery oil in their roots hotter and will cause harm to the vein-like structure and the trees will get smaller amount of water and cease to thrive. A Carabery's trunk is rather huge, up to about a ped and a half to two peds in diameter, and its roots are partly in the water. As has been already mentioned, the tree needs much water and shadow. The trunk colour is often a very dark green, and it appears very smooth and straight. Unlike the trunk the leaves are very colourful and can range from light green to orange, which is due to the fact that the sun is shining on them. Many small and large creatures make their nests in the holes of these gigantic trunks or under the upper part of the roots.

One peculiarity of the Carabery is the fact that the tree creates a "stone skin" around itself during the night, which it does by releasing a special oil. This oil stays fluid when it is warm but turns hard when it is cold, forming a kind of stone bark that protects the Carabery tree from extreme weather. The tree is very sensitive, as once the tree gets cold the roots will freeze from within. However, because of the Carabery oil, the tree is perfectly protected and provides a perfect nest for animals. The oil is colourless, transparent and very sticky. To harvest it, people use bottles, though it has happened that people get stuck in the oil while harvesting, and some might even have joined the spirits that are said to have created the trees. The effort to harvest the oil however is well worth it - it can be used in medicine, because due the fact that living creatures are warm the oil creates a sticky liquid skin in any wound if applied which prevents further bleeding.

The native inhabitants of the forest used this oil even to create homes which are warm and stable. As once a piece of the Carabery tree dies, after a time it starts to petrify. All buildings made from this wood are built by a simple way: First an easy wood scaffolding is constructed, and after a dozen days or so it completely turns to stone, forming a stable rock-like building. No matter how large the tree is, it usually needs about a dozen days to petrify.

Today there exist several variations of the tree, as it was transported from its original soil in Nybelmar to other continents as well. Those trees that survived such a transfer adapted and adjusted to other conditions and climates, among them for example the Sarvonian Carabery tree. The Sarvonian variety has a much darker trunk colour with several shades of red and the leaves are much rarer. This tree however usually does not produce the unique oil the Carabery is so well known for, because it doesn't need any in more moderate climates where they are known to thrive.
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Territory. Carabery Trees grow practically exclusively in swamps, as they need a lot of water to keep their roots expanding. Their preferred territory are the mires in south-western Nybelmar, especially the Forest of Ronoth. Over the millennia these trees are said to have expanded way north from this region, which lies close to the Nevterrion Anpagain Aneth mountain range and is gets wetter and wetter the further north you go. From there these trees today have reached the southern parts of the Venlaken Enclave, which now marks the southern entrance to this unholy territory.

Nevertheless, inventive businessmen, magicians or herbalists apparently managed to get Carabery in recent years also to swamplike territories in other parts of Caelereth - with limited success though, as the trees don't grow that well elsewhere.
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Fauna. The Carabery Tree is not only high, but also massive in diameter and thus often a perfect dwelling place for small and large creatures who take advantage of holes in the trunk. The main inhabitants are ants and myrmex, while especially the Sarvonian variety of the Carabery with even denser leaves provides also good cover for birds and bats hiding in the tree crown. Myrmex are actually a true plague for the tree, as they dig many tunnels through the hard trunk, so that the wood more and more turns brittle and slowly decays. So it happens that one often finds a huge treelike stone within the swamp, and chances are that it indeed once was a tree.
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Usages. Carabery wood is incredibly helpful when it comes to the construction of buildings. Due to its unique property of petrifying once the wood is removed from its roots, it is the perfect source material to put together stable buildings. Many a hut in the Ronoth Forest that has stood the test of time against wind and weather were built by the natives by using Carabery wood. Moving Carabery to other continents might have succeeded in the one or the other occasion, but the hopes that they trees petrify the way they do on Nybelmar proved wrong.

Furthermore the oil that the tree produces serves as a perfect warming box during the night. Also people use the oil to create ointments - a sticky liquid skin forms when applied on a wound, preventing further bleeding.
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Reproduction. The Carabery Tree has a very specific, exclusive kind of reproduction. It appears that once a Carabery Tree reaches its maximal height, it starts to expand its roots under the water where it grows, and after a time the roots come to the surface and create a new tree. All trees in a Carabery Forest are in fact connected via their roots, forming one gigantic entity, which to many natives appears alive, especially given the lore they associate with these trees.

Despite its unique way of reproduction the Carabery managed to expand over the borders of the continent, thanks to some clever people, who managed to extract the so-called "core root", the "seed" if you so will of trees and plant them elsewhere. Separating this core root from the tree will petrify the parent tree, but the root can survive for some time. Travellers therefore took the core root and created variations of the Carabery Tree on several continents which however resemble the original only in parts. These trees are called by the continent they grow in. The Sarvonian is the most common.
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Myth/Lore. The natives of the Ronoth Forest believe that the Carabery Trees bear the spirits of the dead in them, that the souls of those who perished in the swampy woods took possession of the trees, that they still hold their memories. Some call the Carabery Woods in Ronoth even a paradise for the undead, and that their roots spread out to lure more and more to their deaths to join their mysterious alliance. The rumours have it that it all started with a gifted one, a witcher, who got lost in the Ronoth Woods, and that people only found a strange tree growing at the spot where he supposedly died. Well, at the begin there was only that one tree, which however expanded and created a whole forest, a forest in which many others lost their lives, circumstances unknown...
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 Date of last edit 29th Fallen Leaf 1672 a.S.

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