Bush, also known as the "Bone Bush", is hardy, very resilient to cold and heat,
and thrives in arid conditions throughout the world of
Caelereth. Despite its name, it is also
renowned for producing one of the most spectacular array of colours in its
flowers, as they literally change throughout the year before eventually forming
into a fruit. The Aj'Nuvic Grounds,
to the north west of the Ráhaz'Dath desert
in South Sarvonia, play host to the largest
fields of these bushes and after its infrequent rains can be transformed into a
sea of colour by the flowers of the Ai'le alone.
accurately describe the Ai'le appearance, it is necessary to ignore the flowers
for a moment.
The bush itself, given enough water, can
become quite a giant. Records detail some reaching up to three
peds in height around the
wetter, northern part of the Aj'Nuvic
Grounds. The typical though is between one and two
peds, tending to the former
in the harshness of the southern
Grounds, where rain can come years apart.
The trunk and branches are covered in a silvery coloured bark, which seems to
effectively reflect sunlight away, and thus
help it preserve moisture. It is also this silvery colour, exposed during the
winter when all the leaves and flowers have been shed, that gives it the name,
"Bone Bush". Although stark, a field of Ai'le in winter is almost as
breath-taking a sight as during full bloom. As the low winter
sun reflects from the bark, the whole field
seems to shimmer and gleam with a majestic will to survive.
The leaves come in two varieties. Most are small, thin and almost thorn-like,
sharply tipped to keep the soft tongues of grazers away. They are a dark green
in colour throughout the year, until they are shed in winter. The rest of the
leaves are still small, but flatter and more rounded, as if to try and catch
more of the sun's light. A resinous outer
coating to these leaves seems to serve in a similar way to the oil that coats
the feathers of the al'syrr bird. It traps
moisture, and helps seal it inside the leaves. These start out as new shoots of
a very pale green, slowly ripening throughout the late spring and early summer
until a deep sognastheen green,
and then eventually brown right before shedding.
And thus we come to the flowers. It wasn't exaggeration in the Overview when
stating they are renowned, as you shall see as we describe their wondrous
It all starts in spring, when dozens of new buds start to open and reveal a
brilliant blue, almost matching the very sky above. The petals are curved and
rounded, moving down and backwards as they open, pulling back on themselves and
opening the centre of the flower, allowing easy access to any insect wishing to
help pollinate it. As spring progresses, the blue almost seems to be washed
away, leaving behind a clean, pure white, before it takes on a very pale yellow
as summer approaches.
By the time the summer is well set in, the petals will have become a deep
Strata yellow and the flower
will be fully matured, each being almost four
nailsbreadths across. As
autumn approaches the yellow deepens even further into a dusky orange, and
finally to a majestic Aeruillin
red before they drop to the sand.
The Compendium researchers were
lucky enough to witness the whole variation of colours whilst studying the
western al'syrr in their summer habitat.
Truly a wonder.
You'll find Ai'le throughout the world, wherever the arid conditions they prefer
are met. Migrating birds can carry the tough seeds in their stomachs for
thousands of strals, before
releasing them in their droppings across the world's deserts. Some may be lucky
and strike a rock as they land, often enough to split the seed shell. But most
will require a hard frost to finally germinate and produce a new plant.
Ai'le, given its remote growing locations, isn't widely used. Only the part of
the Shendar population known as the
Shen-Kha'si ("Clay-People") go into the
Grounds with any regularity, herding their animals up there at certain times
of the year.
The berries aren't particularly pleasant to the taste, being very sour and a
little bitter, although some people enjoy them. They aren't poisonous, and even
if it is an acquired taste, they do seem fairly nutritious. As such, the
Shendar are loathed to be wasteful of
any source of food in their hostile environment, and some efforts have gone to
make more use of them.
Perhaps the most successful of these has been a variety of sour jellies,
although the sheer quantity of fruit required, and the effort to get the juice
from them makes them a rare treat rather than a regular dish.
The branches aren't big enough to provide any great quantity of wood, but it
does burn fragrantly on campfires. A pleasant flowery smell, that can be quite
Some attempts are made by children to fashion crude silvery jewellery from the
Ai'le relies on each and every insect it can possibly attract, to help pollinate
its many flowers. Some believe the whole purpose of the variations in colours
throughout the year is to appeal to different species, although we're not aware
of any noted colour preferences in desert bugs.
However, from various researches one can come up with a different theory.
Careful examination of the fruits displays an unusual fact. Every single fruit
has exactly five seeds inside. Five matching the number of colour variations
seen throughout the summer. Blue, white, yellow, orange, red. It is possible
that the colour change symbolises a part pollination and the forming of a single
seed, until eventually all five seeds have been created, the flower collapses,
and the fruit forms.
Regardless of why or how, the facts remain. It works. Whether because of the
colours, the flavour of the nectar, or quite simply, the sheer quantity of
flowers, the insects come, and in droves.
Our researchers are not experts on desert pollinators, but we did recognise one
species of butterfly. We'd seen many of the same type visiting the
desert rose bushes to the south in the Yar Dangs.
It seems this delicate, pale yellow butterfly holds a preference for the early
spring, blue coloured, flowers, although perhaps this is simply because the
roses, down south, are yet to bloom. It is hard to believe this butterfly could
make the long journey all the way to the Yar Dangs, but if anywhere was to
provide enough food for such a flight, then the
Aj'Nuvic Ground Ai'le fields would
certainly be it.
In very late summer, and throughout the autumn, the Ai'le fruits are in
profusion. Small, fleshy red berries (the same colour as the flowers had been
before wilting), with exactly five small hard seeds inside, cover the bushes.
The quantity of fruit seems directly related to the amount of rainfall. As large
a variety of insects helped in pollination, an equal number of animals come to
take advantage of this pre-winter bounty. A variety of birds, including some
busy al'syrr trying to gather last minute
fats before their migration south, are amongst the first to reach them. Then
come the desert rodents, dune mice
obvious amongst them. Behind those come the predators, elfcats and eagles, and
also the largest grazers, the aj'nuvics
In short order the Ai'le will be stripped to its 'bones', but quite satisfied
that the carefully produced, indigestible, seeds in each fruit will be well
spread out throughout the Grounds,
and further abroad by the migrating bird species.
The seeds themselves are incredibly tough, and most won't actually be damaged
enough to allow a young shoot to break through. Some will break from the fall,
after being deposited by a bird in flight, but even this isn't very reliable. A
sharp frost, common in the cold winter nights of the
Aj'Nuvic Ground, seems to be
required for cracking the shell with any reliability, although how the young
shoot survives the subsequent frosts is still unknown.
Northern myths make mention of a powerful potion made from an infusion of
"Many-coloured flowers from the desert". The effects are said to vary wildly
depending on the colour of the flower petals when the potion was made, as well
as the colour of the existing flowers at the time the potion is taken. Such
variations include love draughts, illness curing, and alcohol more potent than
any spirit - but also sickness, strange deformities and even death.
31st Singing Bird
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