THE KITRAUHRE TREE ("LYMMON", "FALSE SUN")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The Kitrauhre (pronounced "Kee-TROW-re", plural "Kitrauhren") is an approximately oval-shaped yellow fruit that grows in the continent of Aeruillin on a tree which is simply called Kitrauhre Tree. The fruit has a tart, sour flavour, but is valued for its fresh taste. Shiploads of kitrauhren are imported to the Kingdom of Santharia every year, where they become an exotic and expensive addition to many dishes and drinks for the nobility. Unlike in Aeruillin, in Sarvonia it commonly goes by the name of Lymmon, and its Aeruillin name (lit. "Sun-Lie") has also been translated into Styrásh as ésh'injerá (lit. "False Sun"), and anyone who has bitten into one of them, expecting a sweet, refreshening taste, will know why. The Kitrauhre belongs to the Kitranian Fruits.

A Kitrauhre Orchard

View picture in full size Picture description. Lemon tree, oh so pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat... Image by Faugar.

Appearance. The tree that brings forth the Kitrauhre (both tree and fruit are equally referred to as Kitrauhre by the inhabitants of Aeruillin) grows between four and eight peds high, and forms a well-rounded crown that starts to branch out at a distance of less than two peds above the ground. The bark of the trunk is quite smooth and of a light brown colour. Its wood is hard, but flexible, and ideal for making bows as well as arrow shafts. Its tiny leaves are of a luminous lime-green colour in spring, and it grows bright yellow flowers sporting six petals, that permeate the surroundings with an almost cloyingly sweet, but still pleasant smell. The leaves, when crushed, emit a fresh, herb-like scent.

The fruit itself has a thick, leathery skin that is bright yellow, and too bitter to eat (though it yields a pleasant-smelling oil) and must be peeled away. The inside of the fruit, an egg-like oval sphere, is split into a number of sickle-shaped segments, separated by a thin skin. When slightly pressed, the skin breaks, squirting out a sour, clear juice.

At the time of the ripening, a tree may carry any number from a dozen to over a hundred fruits. During this time, the bright green of the leaves and the yellow tone of the fruits, hanging in the branches like a hundred little suns, will blend together to form a beautiful image.
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Territory. The Kitrauhre Tree thrives on a hot, dry climate. It grows mostly in the northern parts of Aeruillin, just short of the desert border; however, it exists also in some oasis regions. Though the plant prefers a dry climate, it requires more water than most other desert plants to sustain its juice-rich fruits. This is the reason for the tiny leaves and the smooth bark: They give the tree less of a surface to slow down its loss of water through evaporation. It is also the reason for the thick, nearly impervious skin of the fruit, which prevents it from drying out early.

Since the Kitrauhre, in spite of its small size, takes many years to grow to its full size, and over six years before it even begins to bear fruit, it is one of the most precious trees in the desert region. Even within the continent of Aeruillin, its fruit is highly priced. This is also because, to carry large amounts of fruit, the tree must be watered copiously. Water being a precious resource in the desert lands, raising Kitrauhren is a trade typically reserved for the wealthy - and a profitable trade it is indeed!

In recent decades, it has successfully been introduced in Strata an Truban, the southernmost province of Santharia, as well, thus that several noblemen there now grow their own Kitrauhren. The seatraders are already picturing themselves ruined, as they fear that a fruit native to the Sarvonian continent will easily replace the more costly imported one. However, the Stratanian Kitrauhren are still grown in too low amounts to be a serious competition to the traders, let alone become the sole supplier of Sarvonia.
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Usages. The Kitrauhre fruits are harvested primarily for their juice, which is used as flavouring in many dishes and baked goods, but also beverages: The Aeruillians have developed a way of fermenting Kitrauhre juice and sandsting honey to form a variant of liqueur commonly named Kitraish (see recipe at "Dame Sausade's Cookery Book"). The rind is occasionally used for flavouring as well, but more commonly for extracting and distilling aromatic oil, which has a very pleasant scent and is included in some perfumes.

Even though the tree takes so much time to grow, it is occasionally felled; some Kitrauhre Trees have been bred especially for their wood, causing them to grow higher and larger trunks, but bear less fruit. Kitrauhre wood is strong and supple and flexible, making it especially suited for manufacturing bows.

Still Life with Snuffwort and Kitrauhre

View picture in full size Picture description. Still life of the snuffwort flower along with the juicy, sour fruit of the kitrauhre tree. Image drawn by Bard Judith.

It should be noted that, though the Kitrauhre is widely used in Aeruillin, a great bulk of the yearly harvest is exported to the Kingdom of Santharia, a highly profitable trade even taking into account that the sea voyage takes several weeks. If it was highly priced in Aeruillin, within Santharia the sea transport makes it exorbitant. The fruit is a luxury item within Santharia, and available only to the nobility and the merchants.

Kitrauhre juice by the way is also on occasion used to produce blackmoss ink.
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Reproduction. This tree relies on insects, mainly on the sandsting - a stinging malise-like insect dwelling in Aeruillin - for pollination (which it attracts with the sweet smell of its flowers), since the areas where it can grow are too sparse for it to entrust anything to the random wind as some other plants do.

Kitrauhre trees are evergreen, not deciduous - winter temperatures in its habitat are mild, and there is sufficient sunshine even in the cold seasons. It flowers late in Molten Ice (Smól'evathón). The time of pollination is between Molten Ice and Changing Winds (Méh'avashín), after which the flowers will wither and fruits begin to grow.

The fruits take nearly half a year to ripen, until late in Passing Clouds (Sálari'herín). When they are fully ripe - marked by the glowing yellow colour of the fruit, covering the gardens where it grows in bright gold - a gentle shaking of the branches is sufficient to make them drop to the ground. Typically, Kitrauhren are harvested by spreading out a cloth beneath the tree and shaking it, though richer farmers may have them plucked by hand to guarantee a higher quality of the fruit.

Kitrauhre seeds, teardrop-shaped and about four grains across, are buried within the segments of the fruit, from whence they will occasionally be pulled by birds picking on the Kitrauhren: Though the fruit is pricey, Kitrauhre farmers will rarely take measures to prevent this because the birds are in too low number to do any substantial harm.

To sprout, a Kitrauhre seed must be planted a nailsbreadth deep in slightly moist ground. Under natural circumstances, this means the area immediately surrounding a water hole or similar, where the birds will rest and relieve themselves of any seeds they have eaten. It will take nearly a year for the plant to grow to about a ped high, as it burrows deep into the ground with its roots in order to reach water. First resembling a shrub, the plant will eventually form a single straight trunk and grow to full tree-size.

After six cycles have passed, the tree will begin to bear fruit, and spread its seed. For farmers who have planted new trees, this time is usually accompanied by celebration, since their enormous effort in raising the tree has finally paid off.
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Myth/Lore. The Kitrauhre fruit plays an interesting role in Aeruillin folklore, which is also the source for its name: Kitrauhre is derived from "Kih" and "Rahaurin", literally standing for "Sun" and "Lie" respectively (Rahaurin being derived from Ra, "tongue" and Aur, "twist"). The ‘t’ has sneaked in due to the word "Kitrani", which is the collective name given to all fruits with similar properties (thick, leathery rind, and a segmented juicy core). Kitrauhre is thus a contracted form of "Sun Lie".

Quite simply, the people of Aeruillin traditionally hold it to be some kind of "illusion", a false image of the sun. This is probably because of its apparent beautiful, glowing appearance, which quite belies the sour core of the fruit. There is even an old folktale concerning this (this writer possesses only a translated excerpt from a book of fairytales as written by the fabled Jakata the Wise, found in the great library of the Hjoria, but it will serve, hopefully).

The False Sun. Those who follow the Aeoliran religion tell of the battle between Nakashi and Pariya in the early days of their creation. The Goddess of Destruction wished for control and leadership, her quest for it failed however. As punishment, the Eternal Goddess of Light removed the control of the rising of Pariya’s gift to Caelereth, the sun. This was the greatest insult possible to the Destroyer; in retaliation she threatened to let the sun burn so bright that all on Caelereth would die. Once again, Nakashi intervened, this time a battle between Light and Fire raged, of which Light emerged victorious. It was only then that Pariya conceded defeat and that she would never be leader.

However, it did not mean that the Goddess of Destruction was simply going to let herself be forgotten or even behave herself! She was an incalculable schemer, and forever bitter of her defeat. She often walked Caelereth in mortal form, and had no qualms about causing mortals harm. One day it is said, she was musing once more over how she had lost control of the sun to Nakashi, when a forbidden thought crept into her mind..Why should she be content with such a slur? And so she resolved to ridicule Nakashi'si Light and control of the sun by creating a fake Injerá. This was but a small task for her since she was Goddess of Fire. And so it was that on the next day verily, two suns began to rise over the horizon. One in the East, as was common, and one, because Pariya sought to confuse the mortals, in the West.

And indeed, great was their confusion! Why were there two Injería all of a sudden? If there were two, why not three, or four? The heat from the second one, illusion or no, was already burning their skins and drying out their crops, and it was not even midday yet! Worst, if one Injerá rose on this side, and the other opposite it, which was East, and which West?

The people prayed to Nakashi for an answer. They could not understand why she would allow two suns to rise and illuminate them with her light, and indeed allow Pariya to suffocate them with the heat. It was the Goddess of Destruction who appeared to them in a vision, making herself to appear like the Eternal Goddess of Light. She claimed she so loved the beauty of this one sun that she had created decided to make another. And, she said, this was not the end: If she felt in such a mood, perhaps she would go and devise a couple more, maybe two or three, just to ensure there was enough of her Light. The people, realizing that five suns at once in the sky would be their end, implored and pleaded with him to spare them, but Pariya acted huffed and insulted, and threatened to punish them for this slight. How dare they question her? She was Nakashi, Eternal Goddess of Light, the Highest of All.

The situation looked pretty fiery already when Nakashi herself finally realized what was going on. She saw the false sun in the sky, and after a brief moment of surprise understood that Pariya was once more challenging her authority and making a fool of her. Worse, she saw that the Destroyer had come down to the mortals and was now being taken for her very own self!

The outrage of Nakashi as it was on that day is said to have been rarely matched. In an unusual display of her ultimate power, she turned Pariya’s handiwork into a pile of smoking ash, which rained down onto the poor gullible mortals. In another breath, she stood before the Goddess of Destruction, with a blazing ire in her eyes. Her light shone far and wide, showing the mortals the truth of Pariya under the illusion of Nakashi. Pariya knew better than to press the point, her plan had failed, it was she who had been humiliated, and disappeared. Nakashi considered punishing the mortals for their belief, but that seemed to her a cruel penalty for a crime they had no part in and the Goddess of Light was not a cruel Goddess. Instead, she created a fruit. The fruit was similar to the or’hani that already existed, but its taste was as sour as a failed hope. This, she said to the mortals, would remind them not to trust their sight.

And it is said that even today, if one bites into a Kitrauhre, one can still taste the tangent vitriol of Pariya’s deception, and Nakashi's reminder to the mortals to avoid gullibility.
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-- Jakata the Wise: "Aeruillin Fairy-Tales", p. 17 f.

It should be noted that this is by no means the original tale, which supposedly is a lot more gory, but rather a ‘watered-down’ version, fit for a children’s tale. Sadly, the original version is unavailable and may indeed never have been written down.

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