THE HERENA VINE ("NECKLACE OF ANKRISS")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The Herena Vine (also referred to as "Ankriss’ Necklace") is a beautiful flowering vine that is found in the Jungles of Shar. It is famous for turning trees into explosions of colour, by wrapping itself around the trunk so many times. They are also well known outside of the forests, as little Krean girls use their remarkable flowers to make simple pieces of jewellery, which are sold on by many traders passing through the forests.

Appearance. Throughout four months of the year (Dead Tree to Awakening Earth) the Herena Vine is flowerless, showing only long flexible stems. Before Awakening Earth the stems of these vines are a mundane tree-bark brown (doing no justice for the vine's potential beauty), and are only noticeable when one’s hand is placed over a tree trunk and a strange texture is felt. The Herena has very thin stems, being as thick as only as a couple of hairs. These stems are very rough and can dry up and crumble, due to the movement of so many animals over them (which is why they depend on the frequent tropical storms of the rainforest to keep them moist). Herenas are climbing plants and, unlike some vines, are incapable of growing in shrubs. They wrap themselves so tightly around the tree that practically no part of the original bark is visible, but this not normally noticed since the Herena’s colour normally blends in with the bark’s.

During the Awakening Earth however, these undeniably boring plants become much more lively. During the first two weeks of Awakening Earth the stems of the vine turn a vibrant green, which, due to the concentration of vines around it, give the illusion of the tree actually changing colour. During this time small leaves have also sprouted and the first unopened buds appear, each one about the size of a child’s thumb. After another two-week period these leaves will have grown to the size of a child’s palm and the buds, which are now the size of a man’s thumb, begin to open.

The flowers open in a strange shape. Where most flowers open in a circular fashion, the teardop petals of the flower, of which there can be up to one hundred, open and arrange in an oval shape. The petals are at first white with small yellow discolourations near the centre, which gives the illusion of one pupil-less yellow eye. Since there are so many flowers opening at the same time, and they all follow roughly the same pattern every year, the final week of the bud opening is known as "Week of a Thousand Eyes". One of the High Priestesses of Ankriss was so fond of this spectacle that she covered the Tree of Ages in Herena Vines and used her powerful magic to keep the flowers in this state for the entirety of reign. This is a prime example of Krean frivolousness and extravagancy.

After another fortnight, the flowers go through their first colour change. Within a couple of hours, the pigments of the petal begin to work, changing the petal’s pure snow white to a vivacious magenta. This transition happens from the tips of the petal moving into the centre and, since this normally happens during a rainstorm, it appears that the rain is washing away one layer of petal to reveal another. It is at this time that small girls in the Krean settlements leave their homes to pick the buds holding the flowers. When they return home they, tie the buds together, using a needle and thread. There are normally competitions to see who can create the most elaborate piece. Those who enjoy this colour can only enjoy it for a while, as after another three weeks the petals change once more, this time to a vibrant turquoise colour. These are popular amongst the adolescent Krean females, who normally wear the bud in their hair or a snippet of the vine as a bracelet. The vine at this stage is also seen a symbol of divine unity between the Aesterans and Lilliverans, as the flowers of Ankriss, the originally Lilliveran god, show a tribute to Arlea, the patron deity of the Aesterans who reigns over water, and is associated with the colour blue, and as such are worn by most officials of high authority, such as the those wearing the crown of the Twin Kingdom and members of the senate.

After a month of this turquoise colour, the third colour change begins. The turquoise fades away into a passionate red slowly over the period of two days, giving the flowers a purple transparency. These flowers are seen as a sign of love, and any Krean weddings that coincide with this period are expected to have these flowers decorating various things during the ceremony (as it is said to bring luck to the marriage, and increases fidelity between the couple). After two months of the beautiful scarlet hue the flowers begin to change once more, into a yellowy brown. This is notoriously one of the most hated transitions, and many image-conscious Krean who have had this in their gardens have torn out all of the petals (which could have been a very lengthy process) as they were so repulsed by it. This colour remains for the longest of all the hues, three months, but those that endure it will be able to witness the most beautiful change of all. Within a matter of minutes the disgusting brown is replaced by a montage of all the hues, the innocent white, the lively magenta, the vibrant turquoise and the passionate red. Each petal of the flower has changed to one of the previous shades, creating a perfectly patterned wheel of colours.

These petals remain like this until Passing Clouds, when they all turn black. Some say that the Marmarran Witch Queens have twisted versions of the celestial Krean gardens, with trees covered in Herena that they have enchanted to stay black all year round. Though this colour may seem pretty morbid, it is thought of in Aesteran families as sign of Sálárhí-Lérín, an important Aesteran observance. Upon the final day of Passing Clouds, the stems turn brown and all of the black leaves fall from the tree, creating a sea of melancholic black on top of the leaflitter. So not only do the Aesterans mourn the loss of Mseríá the Silver, but that of the Herena Vine, one of nature’s true spectacles.
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Territory. The Herena Vine is only found in the Rainforests of Shar. The Krean like to claim that it is a gift from Ankriss, but more secular folk have deduced that they rely on the frequent rainstorms of the forests, though this fails to explain why it isn’t found in the Drifting Woods, for example.
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Usages. The Herena vine is most commonly used as a decoration or component of the famous, celestial Krean flower gardens, covering the more mundane trees, though some have found other uses for it. It is a well known fact that Krean girls enjoy creating chains from opening buds, and the natural speed at which the colours of the petals change is a useful deadline for competitions within small social groups.

Some of the flowers are also blessed by the Priestesses of Ankriss at the High Temple, which are then given as gifts to those who donate regularly. These flowers are special as they never die, and have accelerated colour changing (meaning the colour can change numerous times in one day). Many of these blessed flowers are known to have the sickly brown hue removed, regularly stating ‘What perverse person would want that? Nature can always be perfected, so if you can, you should’. When the enchantment fails it is normally seen as a lapse in the priestess' concentration, but there are a few who believe that it is one of the most potent signs that Ankriss refuses to yield, and wishes her nature to remain unchanged. Some non-Krean see deep meaning in a priestess' failure to accomplish this, saying quite profoundly 'All beauty has a dark side'.

Though the flowers are important for many reasons (especially what each colour represents in Krean society), they are not the only part of the plant that is useful. When weaved well, the stems of the plants make very sturdy rope. A novelty normally applied to it by seedshapers is that the rope can actually grow; though this can be quite catastrophic when tight support ropes are needed.
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Reproduction. Still to be added.
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Myth/Lore. The Herena has many superstitions surrounding it, and many meanings within Krean society, such as the red petals invoking a long-lasting marriage and fidelity if used within the wedding ceremony.
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 Date of last edit 25th Frozen Rivers 1666 a.S.

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