THE ROORI VINE

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

Called "Roori" by the Darkling Brownies (and "Rooa" by older generation) or "SthoStukarolon" by the Trumarim dwarves, this tough, stringy weed is only found deep underground in the oil-filled lakes underneath the Western Bay in northern Nybelmar. It seems to have developed a way to feed on the dark, thick oil, and requires neither sunlight nor water for its survival. Although most races and animals would dismiss it as an inedible weed, it is one of the staple resources of the Darkling Brownies, a race who have only recently been discovered living in this inhospitable environment. The vine attaches itself to the walls of caves and dips fine, dangling roots into the sludge-like liquid, presumably getting some kind of nutrients from it.

Its common name among the Brownies simply came from the description “Cave Underbrush”, but the second is a tribute to its supposed fortune-telling properties, and can be traced back to something like “Future Weed”. This might be due to the plants remarkable sensitivity to changes in temperature and movement of oil. This sensitivity makes it seem like the plant is predicting those differences in temperature and oil level which count as weather in the caves. The knowledge is jealously guarded by the oldest generation and the Darklings believe they can use it to tell the future, both by watching the way it grows and by eating certain parts prepared in very specific ways. The pale white colour and slightly bony appearance of these older vines is what gives them their Thergerim name.


Appearance. The Roori is best described as a slimy cross between water weed and vine. The structure and strength are more like the sort of creeper one would expect to find in the jungles of the Drifting Woods although the surface is covered in fine, hair-like roots which are often damp and slimy. The plant itself is a dark grey colour with the young shoots darker and nearly black, whilst the older, woodier vines become lighter as they age. The oldest of the creepers can become so light they are almost white and these have magical properties, or so the Brownie tribes believe. Adult creepers are about three nailsbreaths wide, although the oldest ones can be up to the thickness of a human’s wrist. The youngest shoots burst from little buds which appear along the length of the adult vines. They are only the width of a Brownie finger when they emerge but they thicken at an extraordinarily rapid rate.

Tiny thin hairs grow all over these vines, some reaching down towards the oil and others attaching themselves to every crevice and crack in the surface of the rock. These are completely transparent and the ones which have soaked up oil are clearly distinguishable as you can see the black oil being sucked up inside them. These hairs always seem damp, either somehow attracting moisture, or secreting it themselves, as they are normally covered in beads of water so tiny that only a Brownie's eye can see them.

The creepers grow all over the walls of caves and caverns and are able to cling to almost any surface available. The roots which cling onto the walls will delve into any little crack, slowly widening it once they are inside to gain a better hold. These supporting roots are normally thicker and stronger than the others, gradually turning the same grey as the vine itself. The creeper is very fast growing, with a new shoot growing almost a fore a day in its first week. This slows down as it thickens and begins to throw out its own roots, but the result is still a huge amount of growth.
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Territory. The vine, as has been said, has only been discovered living in the caverns underneath the Western Bay on the western coast of
Nybelmar. These caverns are home to the Trumarim dwarves and Darkling Brownies, and are almost completely without sunlight. In fact the plant can only survive underground and will wilt and die immediately upon being exposed to the sun’s rays. It also needs cool, damp surroundings, refusing to extend its vines into areas of the Trumarim caves with too much light and heat. Thick, good quality oil is best, and the plant has some way of knowing whether or not the liquid is good enough. It cannot be found in caves where the oil layer is too thin, or where it has been polluted by dwarven or Brownie waste. Return to the top

Usages. As one of the only plants which manage to survive and thrive in their habitat, the Brownies have many uses for the Roori. Firstly, the thick adult vines can be used as ropes when they are still fresh and wet. If the skin is pierced, the inside can be pulled apart into separate fibres which are perfect for any size of rope or binding material. They can be woven into a sturdy material, although this is very rough and tends to chafe the skin if it’s worn directly next to it.

If left to dry over a fire these adult vines become stiff and hard, and can then be used in place of wood; as a primitive club, housing material, carved for decoration, made into bowls and other utensils, and pretty much anything else they might need. A paste made from boiled down bones with the juice of a particular fungi can be painted onto the finished product to prevent it from soaking up more oil and loosing its stiffness.

Younger thinner vines that are still almost black in colour, can be added to the ever boiling stewpot which seems to be the standard for most meals. They take a long time to soften enough to eat, but they release a lot of juice in the meantime which makes them a valuable addition to the diet of creatures with only limited water. They taste fairly horrible, but as they fill the stomach very well they are an essential staple.

The roots are also used by the Brownies. The ones which have begun to soak up the oil make great kindling when they are dried, and the others can be woven together to make a comfortable inner layer for clothing. Unfortunately this doesn’t tend to last long after the roots have dried out. It's best for the inner layer of babies’ swaddling, as it’s pretty absorbent too.

Lastly, the vine’s growth patterns are used to tell where the oil is deepest and where there might be water underneath, as well as, supposedly, to predict certain future events. The ways and means are very complicated and different ones are practiced in different parts of the caves. See Myth/Lore section for more information.

The Trumarim use the SthoStukarolon in their healing practices, where a dried and ground vine, old enough to have turned pale grey or white, is added to a mixture of heated and powdered crystals called Kisthomm (from MegiUlkiwiSthomm, or "Infant Rock Crystals"). The resulting white paste is smeared on a broken appendage, wrapped in cloth, and allowed to dry out, a process that usually takes somewhat under an hour to complete. The result is a strong, rock-like encasement that immobilises and protects the bone, giving it time and rest to heal properly, called a 'Mulkisth', which has been implemented in human tongue as a 'cast', although most cultures use pure ground Kisth crystals. The Trumarim version, augmented with SthoStukarolon poweder, adds significant healing capabilities to the otherwise usefull applications of the Mulkisth, allowing the bone to heal in a much shortertime than usual. It is worthy of mentioning however, that the Darkling Brownies do not seem to be able to benefit from this application of the vine at all.
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Reproduction. The Roori doesn’t produce seeds or flowers at all, but simply throws out creepers in every direction it can, inexplicably breaking off from the other section at certain points. Perhaps this happens in response to changes in temperature, or because of damage to the stems, but due to its habit of attaching itself to the cavern wall at strategic intervals, it makes very little difference to the overall growth. In some spots it’s often very hard to even see where one Roori vine ends and the next one begins, as the fronds will weave in and around one another.

Due to its inability to produce seeds, the spread of Roori can be halted if you stop it from ever entering the cavern you don't wish it to. Warmth and light are the best deterrents, and Brownies often hang a paprabaab gem at the entrance to their home caves to prevent the whole place being chocked with the quick-growing plant. How the first ever plant came to the caves is a mystery no one will be able to solve as the vine has been there longer than even dwarven records can tell us.
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Myth/Lore. A considerable amount of Darkling Lore centres around this strange plant and its growth. It is said, for example, that the richest oil, the stuff that really burns well, can be found where the Roori has the most roots. Conversely, the areas free of Roori are those where you’re most likely to find water underneath the oil, and closest to the surface too. The oldest Brownies watch the plant’s growth for signs of decay or flushes of new growth, as they believe they can tell how good next years crop will be. There is also a special way of cooking the fronds which makes a soupy paste that can then be used to predict certain aspects of the future, particularly whether or not a soon-to-be-wed couple will have a happy life together. Apparently there is a particular way of cutting the fronds for this mixture, and they must be a certain type, but these secrets are only for the older, wiser members of a Darkling group.

The oldest vines which are white with age, when mixed with a certain type of mushroom and eaten, are thought to send the Brownie into a magical trance. This state of mind allows you not only to see what might happen in the future, but also things which are happening now and which could lead to good or bad events. The preparation of this special drug is another mystery which is only known by Brownies who reach a certain age and wisdom.
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 Date of last edit 8th Molten Ice 1669 a.S.

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