THE HEARTH BUSH ("HEARTHBERRY BUSH")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The Hearth Bush is a low shrub that grows primarily in the region of the Santharian province of Enthronia. This peculiar plant is oddly coloured, and is more than often associated with the element of fire. It is the main ingredient for the popular "Twilight's Hearth", a Cavthan drink.

Appearance. Hearthberry Bushes usually grow no more than one ped in height, and can be anywhere between two fores, and two peds wide. The bark is jet black, and has a texture similar to that of burned wood. It is extremely strong, and difficult to break off with shear strength.

A bottle of Twilight's Hearth

View picture in full size Picture description. The popuiar Cavthan drink "Twilight's Hearth", used to relax and ease the body of pain and the mind of worry. Image by Seeker.

The leaves of the bush are long and slender, growing to about a palmspan long each. They grow spread apart towards the top of the bush, and are clustered and collected at the bottom. The color of the leaves closer to the ground is a dark green, almost to the point where they look black at night. The leaves higher up are a lighter green, and shimmer in the light. The texture of the smaller leaves is very smooth, while the leaves on the bottom are rough.

The berries are perhaps the most interesting part of the entire plant. They are pointed, and the bottoms are round. They slightly resemble the shape of the fáberige but the surface is not smooth. Instead, many peaks stick out from the fruit. The rounder part at the bottom is red, and as it gradually progresses upwards, the colour changes to orange, to yellow, so that it resembles a flame. Therefore, they are sometimes called fireberries. Their taste is very sweet, especially during the summer, the best time for picking. When crushed for drink, the Heartberry retains its fiery color and glow. The true special quality of the berry, though, is the invigorating warmth it sends through your body.

The Hearth Bush blossoms only one single day a year, in the summer. Its blossoms are a dusty blue, and are the same shape and size of the leaves. When the day is done, the blooms immediately fall, and are taken by the earth.
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Territory. The Hearth Bush grows in large quantities in the Santharian province of Enthronia, east of the Ancythrian Sea. It is also found in significantly smaller quantities in the province of Vardýnn, across the Ancythrian Sea.
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Usages. Hearthberries are edible, and are eaten by small children to snack upon, and to make drinks. A popular drink among the Cavthan population is the "Twilight's Hearth". It is simply made of crushed Hearthberries kept warm and bought to a near fermented state. This is then shaken or stirred vigorously until a white wisp rises from the liquid. "Twilights Hearth" is very relaxing, and seems to ease the body of pain and the mind of worry. Hearth Wine, or Firewine, is a very addictive, highly intoxicating liquor. Most people tend to stay away from it, but the bold will risk it, and usually end up doing very stupid things as a result.

The berries' juice can also be used as a sentimental stimulant when boiled. The worst possible thing to do with the juice of the berry is to cool it. When crushed along with the skin, the juice retains its virtue. When removed, however, the juice loses some of its fiery traits. also when the juice alone is cooled, it becomes very thick and powdery. This form of the juice loses all of its fiery power, and tastes like chalk.

Some fire mages have been known to use the bark, and sometimes even the berries themselves as reagents for the casting of spells.
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Reproduction. The seeds of the Hearthberry are extremely small and pad by animals that feed on the berries. Hearthberry seeds will not grow unless planted towards the beginning of the spring season. From a seed, a Hearthberry bush will take a full season to grow. The berries reach their best flavour and ripeness during the summer.
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Myth/Lore. The story of the creation of the Hearth Bush is a popular romance in the Enthronian province. It was originally spoken only verbally by the descendants of those who it speaks of. The story was told in many different variations. It was eventually written by Sanara Featherlight of Doovens, a traveling bard gone writer. Her version is simply a compilation of the various versions told among the locals. In summary, it goes something like this:

The Hearth Berry Lovers. Long ago there was a handsome young adventurer who fell in love with a gardener who just moved to Cavthan from across the sea. Secretly, she loved him to, but did not show it, for her mother did not approve of his carefree attitude. For months she tried so hard to avoid him, so he would not see the longing for him in her eyes, but she could not run for long. Once her mother was taken by Queprur, the gardener ran to see him in his home.

To her dismay, he was away, but had left a message for her. He knew she was coming, for Etherus came to him in a dream and told him it was time to do what he always longed to. Unfortunately, he interpreted this as a reason to go off on a dangerous quest, which resulted on him being gravely injured. The message told the gardener to wait for her love at noon, on the hottest day of the year, in the midst of her garden where no flowers grew. It so happened, that a week before that day should come, her love would die of the injury taken when he went on his adventure.

His final requests were to be brought to that spot at the correct time to be burned. When the body was brought before the girl, she began to weep, and died of grief over her love's funeral pyre. Angry with Queprur for taking the life from his bold adventurer, Etherus decided that these lovers shouldn't be separated forever. So he brought them together at last as a fiery plant. With the gardeners beauty, and the young man's charm and vigour, he formed the Hearth Berry.
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