THE FALSEROCK CACTUS ("ROCK OF UNTRUTHS")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The Falserock is a small plant, a variety of a cacti actually, that actually looks more like a stone than a living thing. Hiding as it does among the pebbles in the Ráhaz-Dáth Desert, with its gray and brown exterior Falserock has the perfect disguise. If it weren't for the fact that it is a welcome edible treat for the Shendar, it would probably go unnoticed. Falserock is also often referred to as "Rock of Untruths".

View picture in full size Image description. Stages of a growing Falserock Cactus, pictures drawn by Talia Sturmwind, movie by Artimidor. Click on the various image states to view closeup views of the Falserock or "Rock of Untruths".

Appearance. Falserock comes in three varieties - Common Falserock, Painrock and Burntrock. The main characteristics can be described as follows:

Territory. Mostly occurring among the stones and pebbles of the south-eastern hills of the mountains of Nirmenith, Falserock can generally be found anywhere in the arid parts of the Ráhaz-Dáth where the rock touches air. Be this an old dried riverbed, salt-encrusted extinct lake, a wind-blown rock rise or even in great fields around the bottoms of the Yar'Dang rock formations, where the wind has blown away the everpresent sand and revealed a ground covered with pebbles. Yar'Dang Falserocks are unusual in that they have been gifted with a yellow colour that they might blend with the local environment better, though they are slightly tougher when cooked. Return to the top

Usages. Falserock is edible, though it requires a great deal of cooking before it becomes palatable. Shendar children are often given the task of searching out the devious plant, with their quick bright eyes and nimble fingers. The plants are plucked from the ground, cleaned with rough sand and then laid amongst the embers of the night's fire. By morning, the rough outer shell has blackened and gone hard and can be broken off to reveal the now-yellow, moist flesh within. This slow-roasted Falserock flesh has a flavour almost like warm spiced meat, and is often eaten with similarly roasted desert roots and crumbled Aj cheese.
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Reproduction. Two days after a mature Falserock has been drenched in water, which is usually from rain, a bud has emerged from the center of the plant and on the third day, it will splay open to reveal its bright yellow flower of a palm in diameter. Living for only four to five days, the flower petals wither and fall off, leaving only the speckled center. This is a small honeycombed chamber that contains the tiny black specks that serve as seeds. A thousand of these would not be enough to fill a thimble.

When the time is right for the Falserock to release its seeds, the seedpod falls from the main plant and rolls or tumbles from the mother plant. As it does, it shakes out seeds, like one might sprinkle spice upon a dish. This process will take no more than two weeks from the time of rain, and by then Falserock seeds that find even small amounts of damp may attach themselves to rocks in shade and begin to sprout a tiny green stalk. This initial stalk seeks only to find the light, and is then replaced with the first emergence of the bulbous, pale and soft plant body. Over the next several weeks, this will grow, harden and darken to the Falserock familiar to most.
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Myth/Lore. As children are wont to do, the Shendar young have a game they play while collecting the Falserocks for the night's fire - called Untruths, hence Rock of Untruths. The game involves the normally very honest Shendar children trying to out-do each other in the brazenness of their lies, and each child gets to try their hand at creating a bigger lie every time they find a new Falserock. For example, one child may find a Falserock and declare to the others, "Why, this Falserock is as soft as Aj ears!" which is obviously false. The next might say "I have found a bright blue Falserock here!" and so on and so forth. This game has of course entered the consciousness of the Shendar, and in jest when tales are being told, someone may kindly inquire "...And where is your Falserock, friend?", if they think the tale too tall.
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