THE SYRRUS MOSS ("CLOUD MOSS", "GROTHAR'S BEARD")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

Syrrus Moss (Hérin’més, Styrásh lit. “Cloud Moss”, or "Grothar’s Beard", "Hoary Moss") grows deep in the forests of southern Sarvonia, particularly in the eur'oak trees so ubiquitous in elven habitats. The plant derives many appellations from its appearance: the moss itself is a greenish gray and often appears like tufts of clouds willowing in the wind, or else like a soft beard draping from the branches of trees. Its tendrils are thin and wispy, lending it an airy appearance. When the moss dies, its thin grey-green tendrils whiten. The elves who harvest it often weave the soft white tendrils into cloth.

Appearance. Syrrus Moss grows in the branches of trees, and while it begins as a single, tiny spore, it can grow with startling celerity, quickly stretching out across tree branches. It can grow larger and thicker than a tree cat, with equal loftiness and elegance. It is composed of thousands of small, thread-like tendrils that tangle carelessly into one another, like the locks of a peasant girl, and catch the small breezes that wind through the forest trees. The moss has small root-like extensions that easily hold to the branches of its tree.

Like other mosses, Syrrus Moss is soft, but while the thin tendrils may be compared to vines, they do not have the same inflexible structure. The moss’s tendrils bend and move with the wind, like strands of green-tinted grey hair or fur. From a distance, the moss looks like wispy clouds lounging lazily in the branches of forest trees.

While much of the plant’s processes are unknown, many assume that the moss uses its delicate tendrils to gain moisture and nutrients from the forest air. As moisture and nutrients waft through the trees, these tendrils catch them for the plant’s sustenance. While the moss may grow very large, it never seems to overtake the branches of the tree in which it resides. And while some varieties of moss may prove deleterious to their resident tree, the Syrrus Moss does not seem to harm its host.

The Syrrus Moss blooms early in the year, almost as soon as winter has melted away and the spring begins to wake from winter slumber. At this time, small flowers, smaller than an elven girl’s fingernail, blossom from petite stems, which sprout from the tendrils. In a few days, the moss is covered with tiny flowers, each with five rounded petals that shimmer shyly in the shaded light seeping in through the forest canopies. These flowers vary from a toccon-white to a blushing pink to a sunny yellow.

The delicate beauty of the blossoms has only a week or two to be admired, after which the little petals tumble away, and the base of the flowers turns into diminutive spore packets, colored a rainy shade of grey. These packets soon burst, releasing tiny spores into the air. The spores are so small as to be nearly unseen, but may appear to the common observer as grey-white clouds blooming from the moss, only to quickly dissipate, vanishing into forgetfulness until next season.

When summer arrives and the trees don their greenest leaves, the estival heat etiolates the mosses’ grey-green tendrils to white, and if not harvested, they will slowly tumble from their perches in the trees over the next several months, scattering cloudy white tufts across the forest floor.
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Territory. The Syrrus Moss grows in most forests in Sarvonia, especially in Santharia, though it only reaches large size in the larger forests, particularly those with elven inhabitants. While forests like the Goltherlon and Calmarios no longer contain elven inhabitants, Syrrus Moss may still be found growing plentifully on the
eur'oak that still reside there. Return to the top

Usages. The Syrrus Moss is used primarily by elves, who carry the knowledge of how to treat the moss after it has died to prevent it from growing sere and crumbling. The process of treating the moss in order to maintain its soft, flexible tendrils remains something of a sartorial secret.

Once treated, the moss is woven into a cloth called hérin’sufár, or “cloud cloth.” The name derives not only from the elvish name of the moss (hérin’més, cloud moss), but also from the nature of the fabric. The cloth is very lightweight and soft. It moves and breathes very well, but can also be very delicate. Because it may rip or tear under hard wear, the cloth is sometimes worn under other clothing, like those made from leather, in order to allow the skin space to breath and increase the comfort of some materials. It may also be used for blankets and is occasionally the cloth of more casual or sometimes ceremonial dress or robes (often along with clothes made from silk). The cloth is easily dyed, usually by whatever berries, minerals, or other dying agents are available.

The manner of production for the cloth is often a magical one, as weavers generally employ a bit of arcane crafting to produce the cloth. Because the cloth is so often used underneath the leather jerkins and pants of elves who may hunt wild game, elven tailors will often weave into the cloth energies to protect the wearer. Depending upon the effort put into making the cloth, it may be semi-precious, sometimes almost sacred. Because of its value, the cloth tends to be commonly given as a gift, particularly to those few non-elven emissaries who managed to find and befriend the elves.
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Reproduction. The Syrrus moss is an extremely quick-growing plant, able to expand to the size of a tree cat in a matter of weeks. Unlike many plants that thrive in the summer months, this season actually represents the end of the lifecycle for this moss: the heat turns their gray-green tendrils white. Because the moss dies in the summer, much of its reproductive processes occur in spring.

In early spring, the moss produces its tiny flowers, which remain on the moss for a couple weeks, at most. These blossoms then lose their petals and become little sacks, which burst open mid-spring to release their spores into the air. Many of the spores may linger in the long tendrils of the moss, and these often find themselves as passengers on the wings of birds who borrow the moss to build their spring nests. The spores often settle on the branches, but wait to grow until mid-autumn.

The moss dies in early to mid-summer, and must be harvested quickly before the tendrils are too brittle to be woven into fabric. By late summer, the moss vanishes from the trees, like morning clouds burned away by late afternoon, and their cloudy tendrils break into pieces. But when the weather begins to cool, the spores begin to grow, and within a few weeks, these spores transform into mosses of great size. They continue to grow into the winter, somewhat hindered by the chill. When spring comes again, they will produce their flowers to begin the cycle again.
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Myth/Lore. There's a tale about a challenge of two Gods, Arvins and Grothar, related to the Syrrus Moss:

The Challenge of Arvins and Grothar. It is said that when the gods still roamed the earth, Arvins and Grothar spoke together often about the earth and sky, conversed in joking banter, teased one another with playful competition, and tutoyered one another as “brother,” so close were they. One day they were talking about the other's domain, which quickly turned into a friendly competition:

“You are a master of the hunt, brother,” said Grothar, “but surely your skill is bound to earthly things.”

“It is not so. I am a hunter, and my skills expand to all realms, be they in the earth or sky,” replied Arvins - then he added with a teasing smirk. “Perhaps you speak of your own bounded skills.”

“Do I hear a challenge?” said Grothar, meeting his companion’s smirk.

“Perhaps, dear brother. I propose a duel! Let us see who can best the other!”

The Green Prince drew his bow, pulling one of his hawk-feather trimmed arrows from his quiver, whilst the God of the Sky shot down bolts of lightning at his opponent. They laughed and roared, jeered and teased, filling the sky and earth with much brawling mirth.

For days the two gods dueled one another, like young boys wrestling in play, until at once Grothar’s lightning singed his fellow god’s hair. At once Green Prince’s ebony locks, once as straight as his arrows, curled to ringlets. Grothar laughed heartily at this, and Arvins, given both reason and opportunity, took advantage of Grothar’s distraction. He leapt into the sky, bronze knife drawn, and cut the Sky God’s beard, which fell into the wood of Caelereth.

Arvins could not help but laugh at the Sky God’s new countenance, and, when he saw himself reflected in the lakes of Caelereth, Grothar, too, laughed. Tired and too filled with good cheer to fight any longer, the two gods called the duel a tie, though to this day it is said that Grothar and Arvins still tease one another about their altered appearances.

And as for Grothar’s beard, it grew in the woods of Caelereth, and has been there ever since.
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 Date of last edit 19th Molten Ice 1672 a.S.

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