The Waterleaf is a common waterplant of Southern Sarvonia with long, floating stalks and short leaves of various greens which grows in shallow, streaming, fresh water. It is used for dyeing and is referred to in some circles as the "Dyer's Green". Another common name for this plant is "Etherus’ Smirk", a reference to the medicinal properties of its stalk, which is an important ingredient in a remedy for acratia. As the waterleaf is easily confused with the waterstar - a plant associated with the Water Goddess Baveras - it is named "False Waterstar" also.
|Image description. A batch of Waterleaf as it grows at a Baveras shrine in the Manthrian fishing village of Nepris. Picture by Talia Sturmwind.|
False Waterstar’s leaves come in many shades of green, from a light
gnastheen to the deep green
colour of the peace pine needles. Once its tiny seeds nestle in the bed of a
river with clear streaming water, roots take hold and soon stalks shoot up
towards the water surface. There are many
variations of the plant all over
which differ in the sizes and shapes of their leaves, but generally it can be
described this way: Pale green leaves grow out of the stalks, alternately on
each side at a distance of two nailsbreadths. The
leaves themselves are about four nailsbreadths long
and two broad. They are flat and thin, sit on a short stem, have a rounded base,
but an acuminate tip. Their tiny veins give them a delicate structure.
The taller a stalk grows, the more it is exposed to the river current, which will bend it into a horizontal position. The stalks can reach a length of up to three peds - but as the plant wants to grow towards the light as most do, "branches" sprout upwards out of the horizontal floating stalks, and light green leaves emerge which get darker with time. Then the current bends these new offshoots as well, new stalks grow out of these, and so forth. So a bed of Waterleaves can very well reach a height of nearly a ped, depending on the depth of the creek. The oldest leaves, those close to the bottom of the river, are of the darkest green; the younger a leaf, the lighter its hue. The greens all tend to be more bluish in colour than yellow. Only leaves which are exposed to the air will turn to a kind of herne green, called "oleaf" by the dyers, probably derived from "old leaf", meaning worthless leaf.
Once the last stalk is close enough to the surface, little "twigs" will grow towards it, where they sprout smaller leaves and a flower bud develops above the surface. Only when the sun is shining on these buds will they open and display six pale blue, green rimmed, pointed petals and a red inner core. The flowers are only one and a half nailsbreadth in diameter, but of an exquisite design.
Territory. The Waterleaf grows in cold, streaming water, in rivulets, creeks and rivers, as long as they are not deeper than about a ped. Mainly at home in Southern Sarvonia, it has spread to Nybelmar and Northern Sarvonia also, thriving in regions with a moderate climate. Recent research has found that it dies in areas where too many people live upstream in close vicinity. Pikel Thunderstone, a green druid, claims that this is due to human wastes dumped into the rivers which poison the water and cause Waterleaves to wither.
Usages. There are several usages for the Waterleaf, here a few examples:
Source of Dye
The Waterleaf is used to dye fabrics with many shades of green. As the shades of green vary with the age of the leaves, they are harvested with care and stored in water until they are to be used. They are sorted by colour, and it is known that no dyer will share the secrets of processing the leaves. Though the colour stays bright and true for years, with the time it degenerates to a more herne green, or oleaf, especially when of darker hue and exposed to the sun.
To name a few examples for great dresses and gowns which were dyed with Waterleaf:
Queen Alaveras wore a deep sognastheen gown (matching the colour of her eyes) with silver embroidery when she met her future husband, Santhros Tiandor, for the first time.
Santhros Tiandor favours a dark green hunting outfit (dyed with the leaves growing near the bottom of the waterleaf bed).
Faugar, the famous Nermeran artist, painted Masterbard Judith of Bardavos in a green dress, which was dyed with the waterleaf also. As we can see, this picture was created at a time, where Mistress Judith was not yet as famous as she is now (when her purse was not as well filled). Some of the colour of her dress have begun to fade and turned oleaf!
The contemporary mage Dalmac Brandivere (born ca. 1598), renowned less for his control of magic than for his herbal skills and encyclopedic knowledge of plants, often referred to as Dalmac the Green, is potrayed by the Santharian artist Eratinalifalah in a robe of light green. His clothes were probably dyed with only the very light coloured top leaves that grow near the surface.
An example for the dark hue of the Waterleaf can be found in a picture drawn by the great sage Artimidor Federkiel himself: Master Tribell‘s hat shows a beautiful variation of that colour!
Shelter for Fish and Watersnails
Many animals find shelter and food among Waterleaves, which often grow in dense clusters. Among these is the red-shelled tent snail, a well-known delicacy said to surpass in taste all other snails. Served with the carefully stewed pale green stalks of the Waterleaf and a young blue Waterleaf perch – a small fish that is known to hide from its predators in clusters of Waterleaves - it is not only good to eat, but a feast for the eye also. As its name implies, the tent snail sports a tent-shaped house. Funnily enough only tent snails that feed on the green waterleaf have red houses, whereas other varieties tend to have ordinary orange to brown ones, although those living on the iceland coasts have blue ones.
Remedy against Impotence and more
There is no better remedy for the failure of manhood than the stalks of this plant. All respected authorities say so, and since a considerable number of respected authorities are old and male, we have reason to trust their judgement. Moreover, a preparation of Waterleaf, taken by a woman about to bed her lover, is known to enhance her pleasure also. A concoction of Waterleaf is cheap and easy to prepare. No fresh leaves or stalks are needed; the dried and powdered stalks are as potent, and much easier to use. Though the quality is thought to depend of the colour of the tasteless powder (the darker, the better), this is not proven. A ladle of the powder mixed with water and drunk shortly before the amorous encounter of the other gender can result in a splendid time.
However, the required dosage appears to vary without logic, and for unknown reasons. Sometimes half a ladle is enough to provide the lovers with unknown pleasures, sometimes not. If the desired effect is not achieved, another ladle can be taken, or more. There are no known physical side-effects that would harm a human, dwarf, elf, hobbit, or whoever wants to use it.
So why is Waterleaf not used more frequently and by everybody? Well, a man‘s pride does forbid him to admit, that he needs a plant’s assistance to satisfy a woman. So, if he takes the powder, he will do it in secret. There is a ,harmless‘ side-effect though, which may or may not occur: the skin of the user may assume an oleaf hue, sometimes more, sometimes less visible. The likelihood of this effect to occur does not appear to depend on the dosage taken – and neither does its intensity. At any rate, this phenomen is the reason, the plant is also called "Etherus‘ Smirk", for it is said, Etherus, the God of Lust and Ecstasy, gave the plant this attribute to laugh at its users.
This property to colour the skin of those who eat or drink it is often used among the young folk of a village to play a joke on somebody. The tasteless powder is mixed in the unsuspecting victim food, and the laughter and teasing is great the next day should the effect show. („Oh, did you fall in a bed of waterleaves?“ being the most harmless remark.) Though the powder is the most common form for preparations of Waterleaf aphrodisiacs, certain establishments serving the needs of the higher society prefer to present their clients with fresh stalks of Waterleaf prior to delivery of their services. As the stalks themselves are tasteless, they are first marinated, then dressed and served as a salad, accompanying any fine dish like trysters or a plate of waterleaf snails (see receipt of the well known house of pleasure, the "Beauty of the South" in Strata).
The aphrodisiac qualities of the Waterleaf were probably discovered in the course of its use as fodder for domestic animals like pigs, sheep and cows. In the collection of written documents from the time soon after the foundation of Ciosa in 11.340 b.S. a Glandorian historian remarks in his research papers, that the Darians, the tribe which was native to the region, fed a waterplant to their stock which was said to increase its fertility. And still today, farmers all over Santharia harvest the entire plant to feed it to prized bulls and stallions to improve their ,performance‘, or to their cows if they have problems with conceiving. Eusebius Appleblossom, a famous contemporary Dogodan farmer, is convinced that the uncommonly large number of his hogling piglets in every litter - more than ten where six to eight are usual, result from his habit of mixing generous helpings of Waterleaf into the adult hoglings’ food.
Reproduction. As described above, little buds emerge over the water‘s surface which open to pale blue blooms. They flower for a few days at some point between the months of Rising Sun and Fallen Leaf, build out many tiny seeds which are carried away by the wind for a short or sometimes greater distance, until they are dumped, if lucky, in another suitable body of water. Or they float downstream until they are soaked with water, sink down and are carried by the current, until they find a suitable place to root. In winter the plant dies, if the rivers are freezing to the ground, but out of a well developed rootsystem a new plant can grow in spring. In warmer areas, the Waterleaf can survive for years, but it may well happen that suddenly a whole bed dies off, due to lack of enough nutrients in the ground or other unknown reasons.
|Image description. The actual Baveras shrine floor, all complete with a waterleaf plant and fishes. Picture drawn by Talia Sturmwind.|
The Waterleaf is very often mistaken for the waterstar,
a similar plant that is associated with the
Sea Goddess Baveras. The ability to distinguish the two plants is important,
since the waterstar and its fruits, the starberries,
have potent healing qualities while the Waterleaf has none. This confusion of
one plant for another even led to the ornamentation of
Baveras‘s shrines with depictions of the
Waterleaf instead of the waterstar, as one can see
from the excavation of an old floor when a new bridge north of
Lorehaven over the Griffon River was about
to be constructed in the month of changing winds in 1670 a.S. The mosaic is
complete and shows the petals of a Waterleaf. Meanwhile a plant has settled in
the niches between the granite slabs where in former times wooden columns were
placed - the Waterleaf, in two of its variations.
Of course Etherus is said to have had his hands in the creation of the Waterleaf. After the Weather God Grothar had presented his love Baveras with the waterstar with all the benefits it has especially for pregnant women and as the starberries became a symbol for pure love, Etherus was looking for a way to deceive the virtuous and to smuggle into their pious love lives the aspect of lust, of forbidden pleasure. One day, when he was in a particularly grouchy mood, he went along a river, looking with displeasure at the waterstar, when his gaze fell upon another waterplant. It had long stalks and small leaves like the waterstar, but its blossoms were of bright hue from Sor‘inyt orange to Aeruillin red. Each of the six petals had a dark coloured rim. "Six", he smiled, "how fortunate", for the waterstar also had six petals, though they were formed differently. And he bent down to the Waterleaf, his hand hovered over it and the bloom began to fade, until it was of a light blue with a darker green rim only. Etherus had stolen the Waterleaf the oranges and reds, the colours which are associated with him. From this day on the Waterleaf was called "False Waterstar" or "Etherus‘ Smirk". It is commonly believed that Baveras doesn‘t mind when a worshipper uses the Waterleaf, instead of her true flower, the waterstar, as long as the worshipper's heart is true in its belief.
Receipt for Waterleaf Stalks
Take about an od of fresh Waterlesfstalks that were kept in water since the time of their picking. Remove the leaves carefully, set them aside for decoration. Cut the stalks into about fingerlong sticks and put them in lightly salted, boiling water for about as long as it takes to sing that four line chant;
Waterleaf, oh waterleaf
Take them out and put them in cold water to keep them firm to the bite. Drain the water away and marinate them for a whole day according to your preference, for example:
Before serving put a puff or greenpfepp over it and add some of the fresh leaves put aside at the beginning.
Served with roasted blue
waterleaf perch or the red-shelled tent snail and accompanied by a light
white wine it is an excellent meal. A Stratanian Injeruillin or a
Twilight‘s Hearth as after dinner drink will perfect it.