The Candlebush is a tall bush, finding its home all around Santharia. Its berries are used to make expensive candles, which are favoured because the wax does not melt as slowly as regular candles. Thought to be a gift from the gods, these bushes are seen as the source of light.
|Image description. Illustration of a typical Candlebush, resembling a flame. Picture drawn by Quellion.|
The Candlebush is a small conifer, one to two
peds high, with a graceful
oval shape which strongly resembles a candle flame. The wide, flat needles are a
dark green. When young these needles are soft, but as the bush ages the needles
become hard and rigid. As the weather begins to warm after winter, the bush is
laden with cones. They are a pale brown and are only about three
nailsbreadths in diameter.
When these pollen-bearing cones have served their purpose they drop from the
tree to soon be replaced with barriers. These inedible berries are a soft peach
shade, and are firm to touch. Covering this tree is a pale grey-white bark. This
bark is incredibly durable to the wind and
rain, but a few carefully placed scrapes could peel it right off. As a defence
from disease, pest and weather, the tree has another layer or bark underneath,
but this will not harden for a few days, leaving the tree vulnerable. Many
farmers of this plant have squelched a rival by sneaking into their groves and
peeling away both layers of bark from the top producer trees.
Territory. The Candlebush grows throughout Santharia, mostly in richer, peaty soil. The bush is particularly prosperous in the province of Vardưnn, around the Heath of Jernais. Candlebush farms do well around cities, where slaughterhouse byproducts such as bone meal can be used to enrich the soil, and the market for their products are high. They also do well with plant fertilizers and compost. These farms often till before planting these bushes, as it takes well to cultivation.
The Candlebush is coated with an oily substance which comes off on the fingers
and burns well. The inedible berries are full of a this concentrated oil. In
harvest season, the berries are gathered (in a poor harvest year, some of the
needles are included) and boiled down in large cauldrons. Scent and colour can
then be added at this stage. When the oil is thick and waxy, wicks are dipped
and redipped to build up the candle. This wax is often used to create the
multilayered timetelling candles (see e.g. the diplight). It is popularly
believed that Candlebush lights are more flattering to the female countenance
than tallow or beeswax, a fallacy which farmers and apiarists do their best to
Reproduction. As the days of winter begin to warm, the branches of the Candlebush are laden with small, woody cones. Within these cones, the Candlebush bears its pollen. Aided by wind, this pollen spreads among other Candlebushes. With the pollen gone, the cones soon drop to the ground and in their place grows a berry. This berry, though inedible for humans, is quite favoured by the coa-coa bird, among others. The seeds of the bush are in these berries, and so, through the birds, the seeds are spread.
Myth/Lore. In country stories where religious technicalities often become diluted, the legend of the Candlebush is no exception. The essence of the legend is that the God of the Sun, Foiros, saw how people were afraid by night, with no way to conveniently light their homes beyond their fire pits. To bring salvation unto the races, he created the Candlebush and taught the secrets of candle-making to the elves. He instructed the elves were told to share the secret with all races, but for reasons unknown they did not. Selfishly they kept the secret to themselves and left the other races in darkness. For one reason or another, the next part of the legend is missing and is often filled in by a country priest or wife with outlandish nonsense. Some say humans meddled, others say that the gods themselves intervened. No one knows for sure. What is known is that Foiros grew more and more impatient with the elves. Finally, Foiros sent a vision to the strongest warrior among the men and sent him to get the secret of candles. Bringing light to the world this warrior began Foiros' Order, which is said to be the purest of all priestly orders. Now, this Order’s job is to maintain virtuous life among all priesthoods. In fact many among the Order carry with them a candle made from the wax of this bush, to remind them of their duty to be Foiros' light in times of darkness.