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.
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.
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
that still reside there.
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
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.
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.
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
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.