The Falserock is a small plant, a variety of a cacti actually, that actually looks more like a stone than a living thing. Hiding as it does among the pebbles in the Ráhaz-Dáth Desert, with its gray and brown exterior Falserock has the perfect disguise. If it weren't for the fact that it is a welcome edible treat for the Shendar, it would probably go unnoticed. Falserock is also often referred to as "Rock of Untruths".
Image description. Stages of a growing Falserock Cactus, pictures drawn by Talia Sturmwind, movie by Artimidor. Click on the various image states to view closeup views of the Falserock or "Rock of Untruths".
Appearance. Falserock comes in three varieties - Common Falserock, Painrock and Burntrock. The main characteristics can be described as follows:
Small lumps of gray and tan, no larger than a Shendar child's closed fist, are the outer signs of a Falserock. With a rough texture and a single crack down the centre, to all but observant onlookers, Falserock is very much invisible against the rocks and pebbles of the desert. On closer inspection, however, Falserock quickly tapers down to a narrow base and a barely fibrous root stump. This root stump is only strong enough to attach the plant to another, real, rock and possibly pick up moisture from the dew. When Falserocks flower, they sprout a brown nodule from the centre of the crack they have on their surface. Once this opens, an astonishing sun-yellow daisy-like flower emerges, with up to thirty petals of two nailsbreadth in length. The center, a bare nailsbreadth across, is a dotted mid-brown and is located where the seeds are formed.
A strain found in the Lands of Pain, this Falserock is similar to its common cousin, but with a redder hue, white flowers with green-tipped petals, and a rougher skin. This red colouring, taken from the nearby sand, no doubt, affects the inner flesh also and Painrock 'meat' is often a rich orange colour and its spice is stronger-tasting.
Burntrock is a kind of Falserock found near the Norong‘sorno, and named so because of its already burnt colouring. It appears blackened and has small lumps upon it that look like cooled lava bubbles and have a slight shine to them. Their flowers tend towards the pale, with white ones being common, and occasional pastel-blue ones appearing. These are considered a fine gift for a girl. In taste, the Burntrock is much blander than its other cousins, though it is thought to be good for ridding the body of toxins and belly ache.
Mostly occurring among the stones and pebbles of the
south-eastern hills of the mountains of Nirmenith, Falserock can generally be
found anywhere in the arid parts of the
Ráhaz-Dáth where the rock touches air. Be this an old dried riverbed,
salt-encrusted extinct lake, a wind-blown
rock rise or even in great fields around the bottoms of the Yar'Dang rock
formations, where the wind has blown away
the everpresent sand and revealed a ground covered with pebbles. Yar'Dang
Falserocks are unusual in that they have been gifted with a yellow colour that
they might blend with the local environment better, though they are slightly
tougher when cooked.
Usages. Falserock is edible, though it requires a great deal of cooking before it becomes palatable. Shendar children are often given the task of searching out the devious plant, with their quick bright eyes and nimble fingers. The plants are plucked from the ground, cleaned with rough sand and then laid amongst the embers of the night's fire. By morning, the rough outer shell has blackened and gone hard and can be broken off to reveal the now-yellow, moist flesh within. This slow-roasted Falserock flesh has a flavour almost like warm spiced meat, and is often eaten with similarly roasted desert roots and crumbled Aj cheese.
Reproduction. Two days after a mature Falserock has been drenched in water, which is usually from rain, a bud has emerged from the center of the plant and on the third day, it will splay open to reveal its bright yellow flower of a palm in diameter. Living for only four to five days, the flower petals wither and fall off, leaving only the speckled center. This is a small honeycombed chamber that contains the tiny black specks that serve as seeds. A thousand of these would not be enough to fill a thimble.
When the time is right for the Falserock to release its seeds, the seedpod falls from the main plant and rolls or tumbles from the mother plant. As it does, it shakes out seeds, like one might sprinkle spice upon a dish. This process will take no more than two weeks from the time of rain, and by then Falserock seeds that find even small amounts of damp may attach themselves to rocks in shade and begin to sprout a tiny green stalk. This initial stalk seeks only to find the light, and is then replaced with the first emergence of the bulbous, pale and soft plant body. Over the next several weeks, this will grow, harden and darken to the Falserock familiar to most.
Myth/Lore. As children are wont to do, the Shendar young have a game they play while collecting the Falserocks for the night's fire - called Untruths, hence Rock of Untruths. The game involves the normally very honest Shendar children trying to out-do each other in the brazenness of their lies, and each child gets to try their hand at creating a bigger lie every time they find a new Falserock. For example, one child may find a Falserock and declare to the others, "Why, this Falserock is as soft as Aj ears!" which is obviously false. The next might say "I have found a bright blue Falserock here!" and so on and so forth. This game has of course entered the consciousness of the Shendar, and in jest when tales are being told, someone may kindly inquire "...And where is your Falserock, friend?", if they think the tale too tall.
Information provided by Firewyre