THE LE'MATICE VINE ("CLIMBING BEAUTY", "CLOUDBLOOM")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The Le知atice flowering vine, also called "Climbing Beauty" or "Cloudbloom", blooms almost exclusively in the Varcopas, the Cloudforest, and the Uderza Heights area. The flowering vine also produces a small round fruit that when pressed produces one of the finest oils sold in Santharia. The oil produced from its fruit and its variety causes the Le知atice flowering vine to be a very valuable plant indeed.

Appearance. The Climbing Beauty, as the Le知atice is also called, well deserves its name. In fact it has been said with some pride among the inhabitants of Varcopas, that if the plant痴 value was for its blooms alone Le知atice would be worth its number of blooms in gold.

In the
Varcopas area, the Le知atice blooms almost year-round while in other regions the Le知atice blooms from approximately early in the month of Burning Heavens and late into the month of Sleeping Dreameress. When in the bloom the Le知atice plant will produce double or triple petal flowers, and even more rarely the bloom will have four intricate layers of semi-translucent petals. The Le知atice flowering vine will rarely, if ever, produce single layered blooms. When the vine does produce a bloom that possesses a single layer bloom, the vine is immediately cut back and if possible pulled from its roots. The reason for this drastic action is explained in Usages section.

Due to the many varieties of the Le知atice, the blooms range in a virtually rainbow of colour and shade. Bloom colours can range from a pale white dabbled with blue and yellow, to vivid yellows, to luscious oranges, to subtle and startling shades of pink, to the many shades of blue, pastels or intense shades. Each colour of Le知atice has its own variety name. However, since the
Varcopas people eagerly try to cultivate new varieties each year to add to their large collections, it would be an almost impossible feat to list them all. For description and for recording purposes, the most popular varieties are listed below in the Usages section due to the curious fact that each colour bloom produces slightly different flavoured or perfumed oil. The only thing each variety痴 name has in common is the last name of Le知atice. Also, the more brightly or intensly coloured varieties of the Le知atice are referred to as "Climbing Beauties" whereas the pastel varieties are known as "Cloudblooms".

The most common colour of bloom is the white three-layered bloom that hints at pale blue, pale yellow or both around the edges and center of the bloom. It is this bloom with its soft subtle colors that earned the Le知atice flowering vine the name Cloudbloom. This is because the pale multi-coloured tri-layered white bloom looks very much like a small fluffy cloud on a lazy summer day. The most common colour within the Climbing Beauties is the double-blooming dark pink variety with pale yellow stripes and a vivid yellow-orange center. The rarest colour bloom of either distinction is a dark grayish blue that looks like a storm cloud.

In general, the bloom痴 of the Le知atice are about a palmspan around. The blooms, as stated previously, are most commonly either double or triple bloomed. Each bloom has an overall circular shape although due to its multiple layers the shape is that of an imperfect very fluffy circle rather then a well-ordered circular shape. Each layer consists of five to six petals, and each petal has the shape of a wavy half circle. Each petal is about two nailsbreadths long and about a nailsbreadth in length. The five petals and layers will delicately overlap each other loosely enough that each individual petal and layer can be seen while at the same time compact enough to allow for the blooms small size. At the heart of the bloom are pistons that are five nailsbreadths. These pistons are heavily laden at all times at there tops with the bright yellow of the pollen laden circular stigma. The layers in between and the petals themselves tend be loose and semi-translucent adding in the similarity between the cloud痴 and the blooms themselves. The blooms are about a palmspan around although it has been known for the Le知atice to produce slightly larger and smaller blooms.

Each vine will produce numerous blooms all up and down its length. The number of blooms any given Le知atice plant will bear in a year is determined only by how well the soil is where the plant resides and how much water the plant receives. Lack or excess in either of these factors severely determine how many blooms that plant bears and how good the fruit will be that year.

The bloom痴 of the Le知atice are very fragrant and will fill the city with their fragrance when in bloom. The fragrance of the Le知atice bloom痴 vary slightly depending on the variety of the bloom but in general, the smell is subtle but sweet and fragrant without being overpowering. The fragrance of the Le知atice is curious because the plant releases its scent during the night in increasing intensities as the moon grows to its fullness. Thus arises the saying in
Varcopas, 典he Lullaby of the Le知atice. The saying usually applies to a good nights sleep such as, as in 的 fell asleep to the Lullaby of the Le知atice.

Sometime in the summer months, the each Le知atice variety痴 blooms will, at different times, slowly begin to develop its fruit, which is a small white hard circular center at its heart. This small almost pearl like center will begin to form approximately one week after the Le知atice comes into full bloom. The Cloudjewel, as the fruit of the Cloudbloom is commonly called, begins barely a grain in size and will slowly increase in size until about two nailsbreadths all around. The circular fruit will reach its full size around the end of Sleeping Dreameress and for about a week, or 4 to 5 days, the Cloudjewel will rest like a pearl in the midst of the delicate blooms. After a few days to a week after the fruit reaches its full size, the petals surrounding the bloom will slowly fall away. When the last petal falls away from the small fruit, the fruit is ready to be harvested and is readily plucked from the vine. The harvesting of the Le知atice fruit generally occurs with great celebrations in
Varcopas if the year has been good and all work has been completed.

The Cloudjewel of the Le知atice plant varies in color depended on the color of the Cloudbloom that produced it. In general, the Cloudjewel is almost white with the barest hint of the colour of the bloom that produced it. As the fruit rest with the flower, the Cloudjewel appears to be perfectly smooth and round. The skin of the fruit is smooth, oily, and tough, and while the fruit is on the vine, it appears to be perfect circular. Once the fruit has been plucked, and carefully placed in the correctly marked basket according to variety/colour, the Cloudjewel reveals its imperfections. Where the fruit was pulled from the vine are four overlapped triangular skin flaps that surround a soft jelly like center.

When not in bloom, the Le知atice bears leaves year-round in the
Varcopas, Cloudforest, and Uderza Heights areas. The small heart shaped leaves are, at their longest and widest, one palmspan long, and five nailsbreadths wide. The vine itself is thin, tenderly like many other climbing vines, and will bear many leaves and flowers. Both the vine and leaves are a gnastheen green. ]It most be noted that in Varcopas where the Le知atice flowers year round that the time where the plant does not bloom only last about two weeks in between blooming.

In the other colder areas where the plant rarely blooms the plants leaves will turn a pale pink color at their center before falling of the vine during the month of Falling Leaf. The vine itself, in those rare areas, will turn a reddish color while it is dormant. The vine will never wither or die if the plant lives. Due to its intolerance for cold, the Le知atice plant will wither and die at the first sign of frost.

The roots of the plant are thin almost spiderweb like and will go no deeper then two nailsbreadths into the ground. However, the intricate spider web like roots spread wide allowing for what appears to be several many plants with a single vine to actually be a single Le知atice vine connected by an elaborate system of roots. Because of this widespread root system, the Le知atice is notoriously hard to uproot despite how shallow the dirt the plant anchors itself into.

A single Le知atice plant, due to its wide spread root system; will possess many leaf covered vine tendrils. However, the largest number of vines ever recorded from a single plant has never been more than fifty. The area covered be a single vine is generally no more then the length of a man laying down, yet there seems to be no limit to how high the Le知atice vine can climb while in its growth season. The vines of the Le知atice are thin and will creep almost any prop. Unlike other vines however, the Le知atice vine does not grip to the surface on which it grows. Rather the plant will wrap itself gently around its chosen support, and therefore will not damage the surface upon which it grows. The Le知atice plant is thus easy to train over lattice, furthering its popularity in the
Varcopas area. Leaves will sprout on separate vine five nailsbreadths long tendrils extending from the main vine of the Le知atice plant. The blooms of the Le知atice plant, like the leaves, are also slightly separate from the main vine and will bloom on slightly thicker versions of the vine tendrils. Return to the top

Territory. Situated on the north-western tip of the R疉az-D疸h region, the most southern part of the Sarvonian continent,
Varcopas is bordered by the Nirmenth Mountain range. An important port town, the Varcopas bay is a little southeast to the Herrings Bay. The Nirmenith Mountain range provides it with plenty of water in a generally arid region. Its rim protects the back of the town. The ridge reaching from the higher peak Sava to the peak C疇ymern, after a several steep initial peds gently falling down to the east coast, where the city lies. In the north, the coastline from the peak C疇ymern to the Cape of V疂av疸h is as steep as the Varcopas rim, and the cliffs from the Cape V疂av疸h to the Narfost Cliffs protect the harbour itself. The sea by which Varcopas lies allows the city and the surronding areas milder weather then otherwise provided by the R疉az-D疸h region. While the southern postion of Varcopas allows for the constantly warm tempatures that the Le知atice needs to bloom constantly, the cooling breezes of the sea guarantee that the plant does not wither due to excessive heat. The waters from the Nirmenith Mountain range as well as the dew the sea creates provides the Le知atice with an abundant water supply.

For these reasons amoung others. Le知atice plant grows almost exclusively in the
Varcopas, Cloudforest, and Uderza Heights areas. The climate and conditions of these regions are perfect for the Le知atice flowering vine, however the Le知atice does bloom in a few scattered areas where the conditions are favourable.

The Le知atice flowering vine possesses intolerance for cold and for extreme heat. The Le知atice grows best in regions that have mildly warm weather during both night and day. The Le知atice plant will not bloom if it is not watered regularly and thoroughly at all times. Despite this, because of its tendency to send down shallow roots, the Le知atice is easily swept away in floods, so it must not be over watered either. The Le知atice plant will die at the first sign of frost, after a prolonged draught, or in any intense heat wave.

The Le知atice is believed to have migrated to
Varcopas from the Cloudforest and the more common triple white bloom is said to be still be found growing wild within the borders of that legendary forest. However, even the oldest of historians in Varcopas cannot pin down a date when the popular plant has not been growing amid the City of a Thousand Blooms. Return to the top

Usages. Listed below are the more popular varieties of the Cloudblooms of the Le知atice along with the flavour/fragrance of oil the plant produces. The oil is known as "Joyl" or "Cloyl" depending on the vender's preference, generally with an adjective detailing specifically the type of Cloudbloom from which it was processed. It is believed that names of the oil where derived from the slurrings of Jewel-oil and Cloud-oil respectively. Perfumes made from the oils are referred in general as 鏑em誕rance or 鏑emarance, a name which is believed to be a shorting of Le知atice Frangrance.

Reproduction. In the constantly warm Varcopas area where the Le'matice primarily grows, the plant blooms year-round. In the other colder regions where the plant rarely grows, the Le'matice will bloom only inbetween the months of Burning Heavens and the Sleeping Dreameress. The Le知atice will also shed its leaves at the first sign of cold after the leaves first turn a pinkish colour in the center of the heart shaped leaves. The vine itself in these colder regions will also turn a reddish color while dormant. The Le'matice plant will never completely wither as long as the plant lives.

In the warm region of Varcopas, the each variety of Le知atice follows slightly different blooming cycle generally occurring of a eight week period. The blooming cycle of the Le知atice follows thusly:

In other areas the Le'matice will begin to develop green cone shaped buds up and down the vines length during the end of the month of Rising Sun. These tender buds will begin to bloom early in the month of Burning Heavens and will reach full bloom towards the end of Burning Heavens or towards the beginning of the month of Sleeping Dreameress. Note that the blooming cycle in areas other then Varcopas reflect the eight week blooming cycle that takes place in that fair city.

As soon as the buds open, the Le'matice will begin to send further a delicate and alluring fragrance, but only a night. The fragrance of the Le'matice intensifies as the moon reaches its fullness. It is believed that tiny night flying insects pollinate the Le知atice plant. This may explain why the Le'matice only releases its scent at night.

In Varcopas or otherwise, the Le知atice will develop a fruit only once a year generally in late summer, more particularly within the month of Sleeping Dreameress.

The Le知atice plant will produce a small circular fruit wheither or not the plant itself was successfully pollinated. This fruit begins barely the size of a grain but will increase in size until about two nailsbreadths around and two nailsbreadths wide. The Cloudjewel as the fruit is called is perfectly round with smooth oily and tough skin. When the Cloudjewel begins to develop the pistons and stamen of the Cloudbloom will fall away.

After the Cloudjewel reaches its full size, it will rest at the heart of the bloom. About five days to a week after the petals that surround the Cloudjewel will begin to fall away. When the last petal falls away this is the signal that the fruit is ready to be harvested. The harvesting is generally held with wide celebration in the Varcopas area. The fruit of the Le'matice when pressed will produce some of the finest oils in Santharia.

In Varcopas before the fruit is sent to the oil press, each fruit is gently squeezed at the base of the fruit where there is a soft vulnerable spot. If the Cloudbloom was successfully pollinated that year this slight, pressure will send forth a white round seed about a nailsbreadth all around. Only half of the fruits will produce a single seed. Seeds are carefully treasured and planted whenever a vine produces a single layered bloom.

It is believed that birds and other animals serve the same function where the Le知atice grows in the wild.

During its blooming cycle, the Le知atice will not grow any more tendrils or leaves as its powers are solely dedicated to the success of the bloom and its fruit. The Le知atice vine will grow briefly in the months, or in Varcopas the brief weeks, that follow. From late fall until the month Changing Winds, the Le知atice plant will remain dormant until the month of Rising Sun when the plant will once again produce buds and new leaves.

It is approximated that the plant will bear successfully for one hundred years until a vine will bear a single layered bloom thus signally that the plant has finally exhausted its resources.
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Myth/Lore. Collected below are connections the Le'matice vine has to Santharian myth and lore:

The Joyl Festivals. In the month of Sleeping Dreameress, one can almost feel the silent excepation on the streets of Varcopas, the quiet and excited mumur that runs from lips to lips as everyone looks towards the shiny fruits of the Le'matice with pride and with a little bit of greed too although greed in good measure.

When the Cloudjewels have reached their greatest climax, young and old begin to watch for the tell-tale sign of the first petal falling. There is a ripple, a silence as everyone holds their breaths in joy, when the first petal of a Le'matice falls. A child that lives in the lucky house where that first petal falls will rush foward at a run to grab the first petal before it falls to the ground and then will hold the petal in their hands like a great treasure.

Smiles will break out from face to face and all the older ones who have seen the event will return the houses to prepare for the festival. Word will soon spread quicker then the wind that brush the vines spreading the news that it will not be long for the Joyl festival.

Outside the children will stay until night brings them to bed, each hoping as much as the next to collect a falling petal. At night when the children must leave their favorite pastime, mothers will lay out blankets at the insitence of the child in hopes to catch the petals for the house.

So it continues for a while for one day, two, or sometimes three. The mundane continuing as the sound of laughter reaches our ears as the children chase the petals as if the petals were errant butterflies. Slowly, oh so slowly, the fall of petals slow until only a solitary few cling to where beautiful blooms had been only a few days hence.

Then with soleminity even those few petals fall and everyone waits with bated breath as they store the caught petals in baskets and bake in prepartion for what is to come.

Suddenly a shout will ring out from a childish voice, "It's fallen! The last petal, Mama! Is it time, now, tell me please!"

The voice of a mother will calmly respond with inner rejoicing, "Run the street child with your friends and ask the Lord of the Manor if it be time."

Immediatly the sound of feet will resound throughout the main street as that child runs to the Manor, the wealthy house that sits at the top of our main way where the Lady Eveyln blooms so plentiful. Lady Eveyln was always the last to lose the petals in her gown, so it is always to the manor that the children are sent to confirm that indeed the last petal, even from the dress of Lady Eveyln, has fallen.

If it has, heralds will declare that the Joyl Festival has begun.

Then in the houses all the married woman will dress in their best ramient, loose their hair, and then place beautiful wreaths on their heads. Smiling they will recieve labeled baskets from the hands of their young ones, and one by one they will make their way up the street heading as always to the park at the top of main where several large tubs are placed for this occasion alone. As they go, they will pluck the cloudjewels from the vines and then with great soleminity squeeze them tentatively before placing the cloudjewel in the correct basket. If the cloudjewel gives forth a seed, the matrons will then give the seed to their eldest unmarried son or daughter. The seeds will eventually be used for dowries or brideprices, and sometimes even as enagement gifts as the seed of the Le'matice is not without value.

When all the fruits have been gathered, they will dumped into their correct tubs located on the green. Then the marrable virgins clad in white will come forward and sit upon stools with bowls of water at their feet and then with great giggling the are blindfolded by the younger girls of the city.

Pushed forward, or walking forward of their own will, the egible men will come forward to wash one of the maidens feet. Usually, the men will chose one of the girls that they fancy. It is said therefore that the one who washes your feet on your joyl day will stand at your side on your wedding day. The girls are only supposed to guess who was wash their feet but much peeking takes place to be sure. Last year, I did the joyl dance, and I will remember peeking and can say, if for myself only, that the saying is true.

The girls are then unblindfolded by their fathers and then are carried by their male relatives to placed in the press never letting the girls feet touching the ground once before they are placed in the press barrel.

Ministrels will strick up a tune, and the girls will begin to dance a dance they had been taught for many years in preparation for this day alone. In and out will the virgins twine togther pressing the fruits beneath their feet. This ceremony is known as the Virgin Press and it will continue until a thin layer of oil is produced.

The an expert of oil will be called fourth then as the girls stand blushing with excertion in the barrels to taste the oils produced. If the oil is good that year, and it almost always is, the girls will hang their feet from the barrels and wait for a moment.

Know it is the mens turn to blindfolded and spun. Then each will slowly be pushed towards the nearest girl with a length of fabric in their hands. The first press girl they touch will be the patner for the dances that follow, and as with the washing of the feet peeking is a common occurence. Once the dizzy men reach a girl, the girl will unblindfold the fortunate youth, and give the boy their feet to be dryed on the towels. The towels once they have performed their duty are given to the press girls to keep for luck. After their feet are dried of all oil, the girls will jump from the barrels and into the waiting arms of their man for the night.

A Herald will cry "Let the celebrations begin!" and a great bonfire will be lit. A band will be struck up and the celebration will begin. Dances, drinking, and general merry making as the saved petals are thrown in the bonfire releasing a delicate frangrance long into the night. It is a belief in Varcopas that if you make a wish before tossing a petal into the fire, the wish will come true. But that is an old wives tale.

Celebrations will continue long into the night with great joy.

Thus is the Joyl Festival, year after year.
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 Date of last edit 26th Passing Clouds 1668 a.S.

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