THE HRUGCHUCK GRASS

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

As a remarkable plant not only in appearance, but also for its numerous uses to the Ice Tribes and wildlife of Northern Sarvonia, the Hrugchuck is one of the more specialized grasses in this Compendium. Its pale blue colour makes it somewhat hard to decipher during the long winter, when snow covers the ground, but it is truly magnificent to behold during the short summer in the more southern areas, where the snow melts away.

The Hrugchuck Grass

View picture in full size Picture description. A Glass Winged Butterfly with its main food source, the flowering blue coloured hrugchuck grass. Image drawn by Seeker.

Appearance. The Hrugchuck is immediately distinguishable not only because it can be found in frigid climates, but also for the fact that it is pale blue in colour. This is thought to be caused by a liquid that runs inside the roots and stalks of the plant, which makes it impervious to the freezing temperatures of the areas in which it thrives. The liquid itself is also blue, although it is phosphorescent, unlike the plant. Due to its somewhat mystical appearance, the Ice Tribes have developed several stories and beliefs as to the nature of this liquid (see Myth/Lore). The stalks of the grass themselves range in length from five nailsbreadth to a palmspan and a half and are two grains in width. The grass usually lies against the ground, in curls and waves, not standing up straight as is common amongst other grasses.

The Hrugchuck’s roots are also quite extraordinary. They shallowly stretch out and down for strals to seek nutrients in the frozen soil. How the roots do this is not known, but it must be very slow, which is probably the reason that the roots are so long, for if they can only extract nutrients slowly, then they must extract a lot of them at any one time. These roots are also abnormally hard to break or cut, for they are thicker and stronger than most roots, so that they can hold the liquid much better.

However, the most remarkable aspect of the Hrugchuck’s appearance is its flower. The flower is in bloom year round, and is quite common. The stalks are the same pale blue as the grass, while the petals are a much darker and have a richer shade of blue. They are thick, and almost completely circular with anywhere from four to six petals overlapping each other. The stalks reach a height of almost two palmspans, well the petals bloom out about a third of a palmspan.

During winter, the Hrugchuck is covered by a layer of snow, and thus can only be found by digging, with the exception of a few patches here and there. Occasionally, one can see a tall flower poking up through the snow, although these are quickly snatched up by any who use the flower. In the summer however, this grass can be seen in all its glory. Its pale blue colouring sparkles with the moisture from the recently melted ice and snow.
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Territory. The Hrugchuck thrives in areas covered in ice and snow. For this reason, it can be often found along the Ice Coast, the Peninsula of Iol, and the Icelands of Aeh’Os’th’er’Oc of Northern Sarvonia. It was also discovered that this grass grows in some places on the continent of Cyhalloi, where it is known that the Íl’thróg, a Cyhalloian form of thunderfoot eats it, although the Compendium writers don‘t know how it affects the rest of Cyhalloian wildlife.
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Usages. The plant seems to be impervious to being frozen, for its sap in its roots and stalks contains a substance that keeps it from freezing and the Ice Tribes use it for some reason, which can only be speculated upon (see Myth/Lore). One thing that can be confirmed, is that if consumed, the liquid does not cause one to be sick, but it does cause a fever. If one already has a fever, and takes it, then one may die. However, if one is sick, but has no fever, then this may very well help them, for a fever helps to expel a sickness out of the body.

The flowers and grass of these plants are extremely nutritional, allowing animals like the snow mouse to be completely on very little food. This explains how animals such as the very large, herbivore
thunderfoot can survive in the desolate wastes of the Icelands. However, this does not seem to have the same effect on humanoids, for unknown reasons. The Ice Tribes have also discovered that the flower possesses healing properties, which makes it immensely valuable to the warrior tribes for economic, as well as practical, reasons. Not much more is known about the healing abilities though than the fever inducing qualities, for the Ice Tribes guard this knowledge well.

The liquid is used by the Ice Tribes in an attempt to ward off the cold. When they know that a snowstorm or a particularly cold day is going to happen, or is happening, then they cover their entire body in the liquid, giving them the appearance of glowing blue skin. Whether or not this actually works is debatable (see
Myth/Lore).
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Reproduction. The Hrugchuck’s flowers are in bloom all year around. They send out their seeds through the wind usually during the summer, when the weather is fine for a period of time, the snow height is low and the stalks can easily penetrate their snow cover. Once the seeds have landed, they will remain where they are. They are black and not only absorb the rays of the sun, but are able to conserve it for some time. This way they melt the snow and sink to the ground, slowly germinating again once the ground has frozen over once more. Due to the vast amount of flowers this grass produces, as well as the numerous seeds each flower sends off, the reproduction of this plant is rapid, although it only seems to flourish in frozen turf.
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Myth/Lore. The Ice Tribes believe that in their eternal war, sometimes the gods may gain an upper hand over each other. They believe that such was the case with Ertemmir, The God of Earth, and Chelinor, the God of Snow, regarding the Hrugchuck’s origin.

“The Ice Tribes tell a tale of one-upmanship between their Snow and Earth God. They say that the snow god, Chelinor would often boast to the other gods that the ‘mighty’ Earth God, Ertemmir could not make a plant grow in his snow. He often sneered at Ertemmir, and ridiculed the earth god, saying that Ertemmir was inferior to him, The Great Chelinor. So Ertemmir created the Hrugchuck, which not only lived in snow, but also thrived on it, to show that Ertemmir was indeed mightier than Chelinor. Suffice it to say, Chelinor has stopped his boasting.”

-- Tale told by Turik of Barsalon, Compendium Researcher

The Ice Tribes also believe that the liquid running through the stalks and roots of the plant is mystical in nature, and can be used to protect oneself from the cold, should it be coated over one’s body. They believe that this liquid is a boon from Ertemmir, which was given to further spite the Snow God. Because of this, it seems some of the tribesmen refuse to use it, so as not to incur Chelinor’s wrath.

“During particularly harsh winters or before a snowstorm, they (the Ice Tribes) would spread a strange liquid across their entire bodies. It was… glowing blue, and once spread across their bodies, it made them seem otherworldly, almost frightening. They said that this was to protect them from Chelinor’s wrath, and that it was a gift granted by Ertemmir. Whether or not it truly helped them, I could not say, but their confidence that it would was high.”

-- Tale of the Icelands Coast told by Minóki Kíuru of the Himiko
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