THE LIGHTMOSS ("URKURR")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The eerie green light given off by Lightmoss is closely associated with the clandestine and mystical chambers of the Thergerim. "UrKurr", as it is known in the dwarven tongue, is a slow-growing subterranean plant native to almost all the underground spaces of Sarvonia. It grows naturally in damp spaces and it can be easily cultivated with just a little watering. It can be gathered into transparent containers for use as a lantern, as it keeps its glow for quite some time after being harvested. The Thergerim often line their tunnels with this moss, cultivating it on ornate lips and sills of stone. Some Thergerim families have also found use for Lightmoss as a light source for growing TolKurr wheat, the resultant bread having a number of interesting and distinct properties.

The Lightmoss
Image description. Lightmoss as seen in underground walls beneath the Fores. Picture by Bard Judith.

Appearance. Lightmoss is a thin patchy plant reminiscent of some lichens more so than moss. The plant itself is a whitish-blue colour, although the physical colouration is generally not visible underneath the strong green luminescence that it produces. UrKurr grows at a modest pace and is a fairly hardy plant that will resist dehydration for some time before dying off; a lack of water will kill off the strong luminescence, however, although re-hydration easily brings back its verve. The moss grows thinly across beds of soil; its roots are shallow and it requires little mineral nutrients from the soil itself. Rather, a damp atmosphere – or regular light watering – is all it needs to grow. The undercarriage of the moss, typically a dense cording of black roots, sits on top of any suitably damp soil, oft-times lightly submerged, with the lighter-shaded fronds held above water.

Lightmoss, when it dries out, it blackens in colour and its luminescence recedes. When rehydrated its colour returns and the light intensifies after only a few hours. Drowning can also occur, however, in the presence of too much water and the plant will simply die, although this takes a good few days of submergence. Lightmoss is damaged by the harsh rays of natural sunlight, so it is incapable of growing on the surface.
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Territory. Lightmoss grows generously throughout most of Sarvonia’s underground spaces. Certain regions that are overly porous and lacking in a stable flow of near-surface water are inhospitable for Lightmoss to grow, thus Lightmoss grows mostly around underground aquifers and rivers. UrKurr (to use the Thergerim nomenclature) is cultivated in most dwarven homes and their public spaces across Sarvonia. It can also be found growing in basements and wine cellars and dungeons and sewers, although in sparser quantities.
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Usages. UrKurr primary usage is as a source of light. The Thergerim tradition is to gently scrape a patch of Lightmoss into a glass jar, pour in a little water to keep it bright and then seal it. The Lightmoss lantern then retains a strong glow for approximately a week, and can be topped up with water, with diminishing results. These jars can be hung from belts or on the end of staves to light one’s way down dark passages. Homesteaders might also choose to filll large brazier-like pots with Lightmoss and place them in convenient spaces around their homes to provide a softer ambient alternative to torchlight or lamplight, both of which can be expensive.

The most useful feature of Lightmoss is that it’s an entirely non-flammable source of light! For the intrepid explorers of the Thergerim, who bore deep into the earth in search of riches and expanding their homes, few things pose as much danger as the toxic effluvium that is AkakiZeKoga, the anger of the earth, or simply the Rage. A hazard posed to all denizens of the underground, the Rage is nothing short of apocalyptic to the Thergerim miners. Cave-ins, silent suffocating deaths at night, the destruction of whole towns found to be built too close to a hidden hissing pocket of the Rage. Lightmoss performs the life-saving role of providing one with much need light, without incurring the hidden anger of the very mountains.

Another usage of lightmoss, considered somewhat unusual by most of the Thergerim, is as a source of light for growing their TolKurr. The heavily matted, thick moss, often referred to as “Dwarven Wheat” by surface dwellers, requires only a low intensity of light to grow, and it is usually supplied with sunlight via fluted reflective tunnels that funnel down from the surface. Because of this, growing TolKurr at any great depth quickly becomes a chore, as light intensity fades and tunnelling requirements increase. Some crafty Thergerim green-thumbs had the bright idea to grow TulKurr moss under the soothing green gaze of lightmoss beds; the inception of the idea was met with mutters and consternation, partly because it requires very large quantities of Lightmoss arranged in stepped paddies. Ultimately, lightmoss-grown TolKurr attains a somewhat greenish hue, as is the flour that is extracted from it. This flour, called Krrkheen, retains a sliver of the Lightmoss' luminescent properties and will begin to glow faintly when the ingredients necessary to make the bread are added. The Borwul (bread) produced in this method is referred to variously as Gnome’s Bread ("BorwulZeUndewirreli"), Candle Bread ("TheenBorwul") and sometimes simply Undemi, "clever"; the consensus being that whoever came up with such an ingenious method of growing TolKurr must have been very clever. Gnome’s bread is softer and expires faster than regular Borwul, although it retains the light green colour and will glow faintly in the dark. The taste is considered sweeter, almost like a cake, and goes well with chopped fruits and doch nuts. Aside from bread, the various other recipes that make original use of TolKurr are each transformed in some way by the mystical Lightmoss.

A certain usage of lightmoss native to the Thrumgolz dwarves of the Low and High Fores is in a distilled liquor called HorzilAnul, or crystal water. A hellishly potent drink with a very strong, sugary flavour that is typically added to steins of stale beer left over from a night’s celebration. Many believe that the gently glowing, syrupy liquid acts as a medication for hangovers, and so the beleaguered dwarves greedily add a dash of crystal water to their booze in the hopes that it’ll ease the pounding. The drink is produced by brewing large amounts of Lightmoss in copper pots until it has reduced down to a thick dark blue syrup, which is then distilled over a few times until the result is a small amount of clear, very bright, teal coloured liquid. HorziAnul isn't very nice on its own, taken straight it will burn the mouth and leave a nasty aftertaste - this never stops young drunkards from testing their might, of course!
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Reproduction. Cultivating Lightmoss is a process made easy by the simplistic nature of the plant and its procreative features. Suitable temperatures will ensure the moss remains in a stable breeding state; essentially, a healthy state. Moisture, either from damp soil being hydrated by a constant source or from ambient wetness in the air, is essential for this. Stable temperatures - such as those common under the ground - are also necessary. If a patch of Lightmoss succeeds in maintaining a breeding state, then the thicker undercarriage of the moss will continuously release puffs of spores outwards from the plant. In this way, Lightmoss can achieve a wide spread in a notably short amount of time; perfect for the Thergerim who wish to collect large amounts of the glowing stuff!
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Myth/Lore. Despite the queer Lightmoss’ inconspicuous and enchanting presence, it fails to invoke much of that magic-fearing despair that sets so many Thergerim to chewing on their whiskers. Most dwarves regard it with fondness and ease, welcoming the placid glow as an augur of homesteading, family and comfort. To the Thergerim Lightmoss holds no cabalistic meaning at all – with that said, it’s not as if such a thing could pass under the collective gaze of the Thergerim storytellers. There are plenty of stories, thought up by bored earth-guides or delirious denirims; as to their credibility, one can only imagine.

The Thrumgolzerim of the High and Low Fores have a whimsical story about the day the Lightmoss glowed pink! Whilst it happened far before living memory, many Thrumgolz relate the tale with a fondness only a dwarf could understand. For it had been just a regular day, a day of hard work toiling in the mines, a productive day of crafting, drinking and dozing – the air had been crisp and not too stuffy and everyone had been in a jovial mood. Later that day, when the men had laid down their picks to wipe their brows and hunt for a drink and something to eat, they noticed something strange; of course, it had been the children who saw it first. The tunnels erupted with excited chatter and laughter! The sweeping mossbeds and low-hanging sills of Lightmoss had switched from its verdant green to a maiden’s blushing pink. The women all giggled, the men as smiled and the children dashed about, exultant and excited. Not a single dwarf feared the supernatural incident. The denirim smiled knowingly and the clan chief had been simply bemused.

It had been AkotUozil, they had surmised. Dwarves from a few mountains over, coming to visit, thought they had all turned mad. Pink Lightmoss!? Nonsense, they had all cried. Still, to this day, the Thrumgolzerim speak fondly of their blushing beds of moss, their little blessing from TrumBaroll.
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 Date of last edit 10th Fallen Leaf 1676 a.S.

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