strange, tough little Ahoy Air Tree ("Oiaoooeee" or "Oha-ooy" in the
Browniin tongue) grows right
at the top of mountains on rocky, soilless slopes that no other plant can
survive on. Its roots donít burrow into soil, as there isnít any, but instead
cling directly to solid rock with hundreds of tiny suckers. The wild variety
grows only on one particular peak in the Rimmerins Range: Sorceressís Peak, a
mountain that borders the Vale of Brownies.
The domesticated trees are most common in that Vale too, although can also be
found wherever a life mage is practicing their craft. As they donít need soil,
and can be trained to grow around whatever small pebble is available, they make
ideal living staffs for these particular magic
Appearance. The Ahoy
Air Tree is a delicate, pale-skinned tree which, in its wild state at least,
never grows much beyond dwarven hip height.
It seems to avoid wind damage simply by providing as little resistance as
possible, with widely spaced branches and tiny, petal-like leaves of a pale
bright green. Every little breeze lifts these little green jewels, making them
dance and pirouette in a wave of movement. The tree also avoids growing right on
the top of the peaks where the wind and rain
are strongest, and instead chooses the sheltered nooks and crannies that the
rock faces offer.
The thick main roots snake around whatever rock is below it, sticking to the
smooth surface below with tiny little suckers no bigger than a
Browniesí little finger. Hundreds of much
finer roots then grow upwards out of these thick ones, creating a white
hair-like mesh around the base of the tree.
Brownie folklore says that the plant uses this net to capture the spirits
that leave a body when it dies, ensnaring them on their search for their spirit
home. It is easy to believe that such a fine net is used to catch something
unseen, as what other use could it have?
Domesticated Oha-ooy rarely meet even this moderate height. The tree will only
grow as large as its rock base allows it, so the
Llaoihrr Brownies force
them to grow on small pebbles, thus limiting their size to between 10 and 15
nailsbreaths. As the wood
itself is very light, this makes a very useable staff for a life mage. These
domesticated trees are generally slightly stockier with fewer, smaller leaves in
comparison to their wild cousins. After generations of enforced tininess this
size seems to have been ingrained into the trees, and domesticated ones will
stay at about two fores even
if they are left to their own devices.
The wild Oha-ooy grows only on the topmost slopes of Sorceressís Mountain, not
quite on the windswept tops, but just below the peak itself. Here, above the
tree line, a second little forest flourishes, shorter and more open than the
jungle below. As this area is almost impossible to reach unless you can fly, the
trees are largely undisturbed. There is a
Llaoihrr settlement further
down the mountainside on the edge of the lower forest, who have befriended the
nysl dragons which inhabit this area.
Brownie teams head out each summer to collect some of the wild seeds.
Most other Llaoihrr Brownies
cultivate their own domesticated crops, so you can find this version of the tree
all over the Vale of
They are also becoming more common in
Milkengrad as the improved contact between them and the
Llaoihrr has allowed more
and more Milken to become
life mages too.
As mentioned before, the Oha-ooy is used by
life mages as a living staff,
particularly those of the
Llaoihrr tribe. The reason they choose this particular tree is simply that
life magic can only be used or stored in living things, and this tree can be
taken anywhere they wish. A mage can infuse the little tree with
life magic and it will store it
until the mage needs it. Normally an increase of life force would cause a plant
to grow very quickly, but the Oha-ooy's growth is limited by the size of the
pebble beneath it so it simply stores it.
In an effort to decrease the weight of the staff,
Brownies sometimes use a piece of Mica
instead of a rock. The substance isnít quite as hard wearing, and they must be
quite careful to avoid cracking, but it is much lighter and also quite pretty.
The seeds that mature and ripen at the height of the summer sunshine are also
rich in goodness and very tasty. Some
Llaoihrr Brownies believe
that eating the seeds of the Oha-ooy can be very dangerous, as they can take on
the attributes of the spirits they absorb and pass them on to the person that
eats them. Unless you can be sure that the spirits werenít evil, and you never
can, anyone who eats them runs the risk of becoming tainted and evil themselves.
As its mountain home is rarely warm enough for insects to pollinate the Oha-ooy,
its flowers seem to be designed to attract some of the many small birds that
inhabit the Vale. In late spring they produce lots of large red trumpet-shaped
flowers of just the right shape for a small bird like an
coa-coa to poke its head into and get a dose
of sticky pollen on its neck and throat. It then goes to another flower on
another plant, and deposits the pollen there, just like an insect would.
Unlike other flowers, the petals do not fall from the flower as the seed
matures. Instead, they remain fixed on the tree until the seeds are mature,
which doesnít happen until the summer heat is at its hottest. Then, almost
simultaneously, the seed pods at the bottom of the flowers begin to smoke and
then, suddenly, shoot the whole flower head away from the tree up to a range of
a couple of peds. The flower
lands and rolls to a stop. Now, in the strong sun
the petals quickly begin to decay, providing an excellent start for the
sprouting shoot until it can produce the mesh of thin roots it seems to need to
No one really knows why the Oha-ooy has no need for soil, whilst
every other plant does. As may have already been mentioned, there are many
stories that tell of spirits being caught and consumed by the fine roots, often
causing the plant to take on parts of their personality. One of the more popular
tales tells of a life mage's staff which grew so powerful through repeated use
that it developed a monstorous personality of its own, along with a nasty habit
of consuming the spirits of anything that touched it. In the end the huge,
rampaging staff was only stopped by a clever little Yellowbark
who managed to lure it into a trap and burn it, destroying the staff and
releasing the spirits to seek their places in the afterlife. Of course there is
no proof whatsoever to these fanciful tales, but they are very useful for
preventing the michevious youngsters from going near the mage's precious staffs!