THE SQURIM MOSS ("STONE MOSS")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES
REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE - RESEARCHERS

Squrim Moss is a moss growing in Northern Sarvonia, particularly in the east, growing around the Vindel Mountains and the open plains and heaths around that area. They are in some areas also called “Stone Moss” for their growing on stones and even pieces of clay or bits of gravel - though they shouldn't be confused with the similar sounding rock moss (rockwool, weavemoss). They tend to take on a dark grey colouration, often with hints of green near their tips. The Squrim Moss tends to grow small patches, but may grow close together on the same rock.

The Squirm Moss
Image description. Stone Moss as it is growing in the heaths of North Sarvonia. Picture by Bard Judith.

Appearance. The Squrim Moss is rather un-extraordinary in appearance. The leaves and stems of the plant are contained within small offshoots of the roots, which usually grow no more than two nailsbreadths in length, though one nailsbreadth is far more common. From these sprouts grow a bunch of smaller hair-like protrusions. The plant uses these hair-like pieces to feed. Most of the plants nutrition comes from the air around them, and the hairs gather up bits of nutrients in the air before the entire off-shoot retracts, curling up and seeming to “digest” this food, before uncurling to begin collecting again.

The Squrim Moss has a very shallow yet extremely effective root system. Because it grows off rocks and stones, it must have a very strong anchor to keep it connected to its substrate. The root branches into many different root chords and different widths that fit perfectly into small cracks in the rock. The Moss' roots aren’t just used for anchoring. A lot of the minerals the pant receives come from the rock it feeds on, though usually not enough to destroy the rock it is connected to too quickly. If such happens, it will usually connect to the next closest available rock.

The root system produces a sort of weak acid that can slowly break up the bits of rock, and the plant will absorb these minerals. This acid is also used to make cuts into the rock if there aren’t enough places to hold on to. The Moss is very well adapted to its environment, and known for being a hardy plant.

The Squrim produces flowers annually in the late spring when the cold is melting away. The flowers grow rather fast, uncurling from the brushy sprouts of the plant, and raising its head high above them. The stem of the flower is completely hairless, and is small with four grayish pink petals extending from a powdery yellow center from where the pollen of the plant drifts into the air. A single plant, depending on size, can produce tens of these little flowers.

The seeds of the Suqrim Moss form out of the flowers, and hang heavy on the stem in a nutshell to bend it slightly. In early autumn, they fall and break into hundreds of tiny seeds. The nutshell itself is a grayish-red color, sometimes a grayish brown, and the seeds appear small and dull-tan. The nutshells are rarely more than a nailsbreadth in diameter.
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Territory. The Squrim Moss grows in the chilly parts of Northern Sarvonia, growing occasionally in Cyhalloi, as well, typically on Guldor, though it can be found on other islands as well. It is more prominent in northeast Sarvonia, though, especially around the Vindel Mountains and the Stone Fields of Peat. Squrim Mosses also make their homes on the rocks on plains and hilly areas. Because of their means for obtaining food, they really aren’t particular about their location: as long as it’s cool, rocky, and has a good supply of air coming through, they are quite content.
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Usages. The Squrim shoots are not a tasty treat, having a rather gritty, bland taste to it. They are, however, extremely healthy, and it is believed that they help making one stronger and tougher. The Squrim plant has an excellent assortment of minerals that it extracts from the stones. Because of its not-so-succulent taste, however, it remains a rather small part of the Northern Sarvonian diet.

Roots are also eaten. Although the roots produce acid, it is not strong enough to cause much damage. The roots are rather pungent, and though not eaten on its own, they are commonly used in the production of alcohol to add a bit more taste to the drink.

Many animals living in the Stone Fields of Peat, such as the cragok goat and the stone mouse, eat this plant as part of their limited diet, and in this way, the Squirm Moss is extremely important to the delicate ecosystem of these hills.
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Myth/Lore. The following story is told by the Kuglim Mergok Klindestor, translated by the Aellenrhim Lindia Surquel:

A long, long time ago, when the world was newer and the sky clearer, and the people lived in greater harmony, there was a lovely young maiden named Rika whose beauty was incomparable. Her soft hair fell in elegant tresses down her back, and her figure was lithe and slender as the rustling birch. This woman so fair, however, knew of her own beauty, and she wore elegant dresses, whittling away her money of jewelry and clothes. She flirted with every young male that passed her by, and she spent hours admiring herself in the mirror or a piece of glass – even a pool of water. She believed herself more beautiful than even the gods.

But the gods heard this, and for her overbearing vanity cursed her with ugliness. Her body shrunk and her hair dried up into frizzy locks. Her nose grew out, large and pimpled, and her skin became dirty and blemished. She grew round and fat, and her lovely dresses of silk was turned into ugly smocks. The gods said that she would forever be ugly unless she could overcome her foolish vanity and arrogance and learn kindness that would allow another to love her. When someone could love her, then and only then would she regain her beauty.

But the years went by, and the future fell into the lonely past. The cursed Rika grew troubled, and every night she cried. At first, her tears were for her beauty, but as time passed, more and more of her tears were for her bitter loneliness. Her vane and beautiful friends had left her. The superficial men who used to flock about her had vanished. She had no one. There was no one left to love her.

Then, one day, a man by the name of Wueirt arrived at the tavern where she worked. His journey had been long, and his horse needed time to rest. It was there that he met Rika. At first, he passed her off as an old an ugly maid, but upon taking a closer look, he found her to be far younger than her appearance suggested. She had become a shy woman, polite, and elegant. Wueirt stayed at the tavern many nights while his horse rested, and grew ever curious of the maid.

It was one night in late spring that Wueirt learned of Rika’s curse, and suddenly he felt a great remorse for all the woman had been through. He climbed to her bedroom, and took her in his arms, and kissed her, and all at once the spell was broken, and Rika reclaimed her lovely form, now with a beautiful heart to match it. Wueirt and Rika lived happily ever after.

It is believed that the gods symbolized this tale through the creation of the Squrim Moss. Every year when the season grows warm and spring ("Wueirt" literally translates to "Spring" in the Kuglim tongue) kisses the moss, a beautiful flower ("Rika", derived from the Kuglim word for "flower", Rik) blossoms up from the moss, and the true beauty of the moss is reveiled. Return to the top

Reproduction. In the late spring, the moss created its flower and pollen, which rises up from the gray and green brush on a slender gray stalk to float above the moss in soft shades of pink and yellow. The wind carries its pollen to other flowers, fertilizing others. Insects also help to bring pollen from one place to another. Even if the plant is not fertilized by the pollen of another, though, the flower is always able to pollinate itself.

By mid-summer, all the flowers are pollinated by one means or another, and their soft petals fall away to leave only the center, which swells and swells into a nut. This nut, usually of a gray-brown or gray-red color, carries hundreds upon hundreds of tiny seeds, not all of which will grow. In early autumn, the nut falls and usually bursts into seeds, which the wind carries away. If the winter is kind, the seeds will begin growing in the spring. Most of the sproutlings will die before their first year.

The plant will begin producing flowers of its own by its third year, though it may take some a bit longer. The lifespan of the moss can be as long as 11 years, though 8 and 9 are more common.
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Researchers. Alvador Gendin (230?-?) was the first researcher to describe the Squrim Moss in detail during his courageous journey into the Stone Fields of Peat. His true intention in journeying to this dangerous location was to, it is said, research the bird life in this region. Though notes on the Squrim Moss are only contained in a relatively small part of his journals, however, his description of them was still thorough enough to give scholars and researchers on the outside a unique glimpse into plant life of the treacherous Stone Fields of Peat, as well as the delicate ecosystem there. Return to the top

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