Geranium is a somewhat common flower found on the mild tempered plains of Zhun.
They come in a whole spectrum of colours, from delicate blues and lilacs to more
loquacious purples and reds. There also used to be a variety of this plant known
as the "Black Geranium", though it was limited only to the area known as
Nybelmarasa (or Naezshan Zhunith in the high tongue of
Aca-Santerra), but after the
cataclysm known as "The Breaking" (or the "Year of Darkness" on
Sarvonia) the fertile plains were stripped
off all their flora, leaving this rare variety almost extinct. There is only one
known Black Geranium to the
Compendium’s knowledge, which supposedly is cased in an enchanted glass jar
in the Witch Queen of Marmarra’s palace. Eluda, the first Witch Queen, crafted
it and using her Krean seed-shaping
abilities, ensured the flower would never die. It is said though, that if the
case is opened, the rare flower will dry and up and turn to dust.
The Zhun Geranium can grow in two different ways. The first is
in a large carpet-like group with many other Geraniums, which can be very
entertaining if different varieties are present, making a large collection of
different colours (that seem to attract small
Zhunite girls regularly). The second
is to grow alone. Though this is less a spectacle than the bushes of Geraniums,
Geraniums that grow in this fashion tend to grow taller than those in the common
structure. A Geranium looks like a very generic flower, to a rational botanist
anyway. It consists of a peridot green stem that is usually somewhere in the
area of three palmspans tall
(normally around six to seven
nailsbreaths will be added to the height of a Geranium that grows by
itself), which at a point around three thirds of the total height leaves sprout.
These leaves are shaped similar to that of the oak tree,
only smaller in size. At the end of this stem there are five petals, which share
a shape similar to a teardrop, they are only slightly wider. These petals can
come in a huge variety of colours, ranging from blues, lilacs, purples, greens,
reds and oranges. The rarest colour of all though (spare the Black Geranium that
only has one confirmed specimen left) is the White Geranium. The White Geranium
is said to represent innocence, and as such many would wear them to hearings at
court where they have been accused.
One of the more peculiar features of the Geranium Flower is, unlike most
flowers, its pollen is dark blue (though instances have been recorded where it
is black). On very windy days during spring,
it is not uncommon for large bushes of Geraniums to have their pollen blown into
the wind (even though they rely predominately
on insects for reproduction), creating a gust of what appears to be dark sand.
Zhun Geranium Flowers also have very sweet scents. As such they are sometimes
used in perfumes or to flavour the famous
Zhunite Rice wine. Boiling unopened
buds and then draining out the fluid extracts the scent. It is then either
bottled and sold or added to fermenting rice wine to give it an extra burst of
flavour (as well as a warrant for a higher price).
The Zhun Geranium Flower (as the name openly suggests) is found
in the Plains of Zhun. Numerous different species are known to inhabit the
Dragon’s Back region. In locations
closer to Karakan the
concentration of reds and oranges is much higher than in other areas (which some
attribute to the Dragon Lord Seras, the patron deity of the settlement) and in
areas around Cusca pale and icy blues are common. There is also one notable bed
of solely white Geraniums near Hootar, known in the area as "The Desert Snow"
due to its strange appearance from a distance.
The flower is so popular on the continent of
Nybelmar that the Lost Ones still capable of seed-shaping on the Shar
peninsula are known to cultivate small gardens of these flowers. This is
something that normally amuses the
Zhunites, who have had the Krean in
past glorify themselves in comparison.
[The Zhun Geranium itself has one main use. Various varieties of
the Zhunite rice wine (most notably
those producing in the fields of Arroza) use the nectar and petals of the flower
as part of the mixture during the fermentation period. This is sometimes to add
flavour or to prevent the bitter or sharp taste that some wines have.
Primarily, the Zhun Geranium depends on pollination by various insects, such as
the malise. The sweet scent of the flower
in conjunction with the vibrant colours is perfect to attract the attention of
the creatures. They also have very unique nectar that is thought to have a smell
too fine for the human nose to smell. The
nectar itself is incredibly viscous, and also undeniably sweet.
When an insect tries to extract the nectar of this plant they are covered in the
flower’s dark pollen. In fact the dark pollen completely masks the creature,
leading at one point for the Zhunite men
to believe that there were various dark blue insects, while these were only
regular insects covered in the pollen. Continuing, the creature coated in pollen
is likely to visit another flower, transferring the pollen from one flower to
another, fertilising the flower.
Should this fail though, Zhun Geraniums also have a back-up mechanism. The
pollen-holding appendage of the flower begins to harden and breaks down. The
wind normally will carry this pollen hopefully
to another flower. This method though only seems to work on the bush-like
structures of flowers, since it is very unlikely that pollen will find its way
to an individual flower.
The Zhun Geranium flower has many different connotations. The White Geranium has
been a symbol of purity and innocence in
culture for a long time. It is normally worn when one attends a trial as the
accused, or by a bride in her hair on her wedding day. It is also a custom to
drink rice wine infused with White Geranium on a celebration of a baby’s birth.
The Orange Geranium is common symbol of the Dragon Lord Seras, and therefore is
often worn by Karakanites,
especially the fire-wielding priests of the Dragon temple.
The Yellow Geranium is a symbol of luck, and seeing one on a journey is
thought to entail safety (physical or otherwise). Many diplomats have intended
for the return route of foreign visitors to pass through known paths where many
Yellow Geraniums were known to be, in order to reassure the ambassador of his
Conversely, the dark Purple Geranium is related to some as bad luck (and also
Marmarrans). Whenever a diplomat had a disagreement with a visiting politician
he would normally send them back home past large bushes of Purple Geraniums to
make them regret their decision. It is also customary for many criminal groups
in Zhun to give the flower to the victim before they are murdered.
In addition to the above, the Green Geranium is normally associated with youth.
There is a rumour that if you eat ten Green Geraniums every day you will appear
younger to any man that meets you, leading many elderly (or vain) women to take
up this habit. There is also a phrase, which emerged from this: "Geranium
Beauty". It is commonly used to describe someone who has beauty, but it is
artificial and achieved through cosmetics and the like.