Fánílye Lá'váno, also known as Láváno (common Nybelmarnese) Fanilye (Northern
Sarvonia) or Vanilla (Southern Sarvonia)
is the only edible fruit of the orchid family, the largest family of flowering
plants in western Nybelmar. The plant
itself is a tropical orchid, one of three hundred known varieties found in the
jungles of Krath. Despite the claims of the Lillivear that the flower is unique
to their gardens, there have been sightings of Láváno in territories with a
similar weather pattern, such as the city of Katran'searamh a furlay across the
Twin Kingdom's westernmost border. Various parts of the plant are used as a
flavouring ingredient, a perfume distillate, and an
orc repellant. The plant also has numerous medicinal usages.
Appearance. Láváno is possibly among the world’s most labour-intensive crop, which accounts for its outrageous price. It may take up to six years after the vines are planted before the first flowers appear. Luckily, flowering usually takes about three years in the most common variety of the orchid, Krétá-Láváno.
The flowers of most Krétá-Láváno are of a very light purplish colour when they first blossom. Slowly, as the pollen inside seasons, the tips of the petals circling the base will assume a vivid yellow (and sometimes a pastel orange) colour. The final blossom will range from one to one and a half palmspans.
Although the blooms of the Llívá-Láváno start out the same in appearance and size, the pollens will form thick, long dark purple seedpods around them. The final flower is also about thrice the size of the average Fánílye fruit, with a huge “bulb” resting on large white petals extended in all directions during the night. The moment the first rays of the sun touch the flowers of a Llívá-Láváno, the bloom will instantly close around itself. This, along with the strange pattern formed by light purple strips around the pulp, has led the Llívá-Láváno to be recognized as a symbol of moonlight. Interestingly enough, the intricate pattern found on a Llívá-Láváno is an exact replica of the shape present on any of its kind. Hence, the Lillivear have adopted this design as their rune of moonlight.
If the fruits are not picked up in time, the
pod will crack and burst most of its contents - rendering the beans useless at
the same time - since it will not be able to support its own weight.
The fruits, which resemble big green beans, must remain on the vine for nine months - seventeen in the case of the Llívá-Láváno - in order to completely develop their signature aroma. However, when the beans are harvested, they have neither flavour nor fragrance. They develop these distinctive properties during the curing process.
The vine itself has wide, luscious green leaves sprouting from its shafts. Another reason why tending to a Llívá-Láváno is extremely hazardous, even compared to the normal Elyá treatment, to the cultivator is the vine’s tendency to wrap itself around the infamous larkentir trees. An entire larkentir tree - trunk, roots, and all, - trembles and vibrates in response to any movement of the air, no matter how subtle. Hence, a shout can make a whole copse of larkentir explode violently and cause subtantial damage. Thus, the lives of the pickers are always at risk while attending to the demands of this orchid. Ironically enough, the Lillivear never seem to have trouble finding “adventurous farmers” among the rest of the Krant population who are always willing to volunteer for this deadly task in exchange for the intense thrill and a suitable payment. As if this and the incredibly long flowering period are not enough, a Llívá-Láváno only blossoms up to a mere sixth of a Krétá-Láváno. However, the heightened aroma and the durability of the Llívá-Láváno pay for more than all the effort put into its cultivation.
Territory. Generally Fánílye is found in the jungles of Krath, located on the southwestern peninsula of Nybelmar. Though the Lillivear are persistent in their claims that the flower is restricted to their gardens, there have been sightings of Láváno in territories with a similar weather pattern across the Twin Kingdom's western border. The Krunt city of Katran'searamh is a fine example for non-Lillivear attended vanilla orchards.
The Llívá-Láváno on the other hand only seems to grow around the settlements of Ayáráyushulu, the city of “Moonlight”, in the Howling Forest.
Usages. When the beans are harvested, they are treated with hot water or heat and are then placed in the sun every day for weeks-to-months until they have shrunk to a good fifth of their original size. The beans must be roasted wrapped inside leaves of their own plant to prevent the aroma from diffusing out into the boiling water. Furthermore, belief among the Lillivear has it that any direct contact with the beans while they are being processed will cause them to wither into a viscous yellowish grey ball later when ingested. Hence, the Krean always pay great heed to whom they are purchasing vanilla seeds from. Since the women of the Lillivear, especially the priestesses of Ankriss, the High Goddess of Earth in Krath, are the ones attending to this better part of Láváno cultivation, it is always possible to find a whole cluster of them dancing and performing the appropriate rituals to the Goddess while waiting for their beans to ripen.
After this process is complete, the beans are sorted according to their size and quality. Then they will rest for a month or two in tiny light-proof bins made of Krillim wood to finish developing the full Láváno flavour and fragrance for which they are recognized. By the time they are shipped around the continent, their aroma is quite remarkable.
The best way to store Láváno extract and beans is a "common secret" among the Lillivear: the extract should be kept in a cool, dark place to prevent light from affecting it. A cupboard that is away from the heat of the oven would be fine indeed. Láváno beans should also be kept in a cool dark place, but they must be kept dry so that they don't mold. Storing them in a small jar is usually fine, but if one lives in a humid climate one may want to wrap them in paper that has been dipped in wax for further protection. Please note that the wax of the tiny "Aráth's Breath" plant found in the southern Krath jungles – also used to make the famous scented candles of the Lillivear – serves well for this purpose.
Láváno is not only used to give flavour to foods and beverages, but also in perfumes. Perhaps the only perfumes worth mentioning – compared to the imported Anpagan fragrances – produced in Krath are made from this plant. One of the better-known fánílye-scented products that is currently available on the Sarvonian continent as well is called "Orchideros" - a body oil with tiny golden flecks suspended in it and a rich Llívá-Láváno aroma...
In some parts of Krath, Láváno is believed to be an orc repellant. In fact, the word Fánílye derives from the Krath'mélár'ián words “Fire-burnt” and “Repel”. Towns neighboring the Orcal border will import large quantities of Láváno, especially Llívá-Láváno for its relation with moonlight and thus the River Goddess of the Aestera, and hang them in bundles on their doors. Recently, the Aestera have also started to coat the bundles with protection runes to thwart inflammations.
The Santharian Compendium takes great pride in the diligent research it has conducted on the usages of this almost enchanted plant. Here is a list of the known uses of the Láváno plant:
Alleged medicinal values
Since 5500 b.S. the indigenous people who cultivated Láváno in Krath have benefited from it as medicine. They used it to:
- Calm the stomach
To this very day, the seeds of this wondrous plant are used by the Lillivear to calm upset stomachs. Priestesses crush the necessary amount of seeds and add the fine powder into the patients’ food as it is cooked.
- Treat breathing difficulties
People afflicted with these complaints carry a small pouch of herbs, mainly dried Láváno leaves, with them through the course of their illness. Whenever they feel the grip of the sickness closing in on their throat they will take a whiff of the fine herbal mixture to soothe their breathing.
The juice of Elyá can also be used as a sedative for the cramped intestines. Add pure Láváno extract to mineral water or fruit juice to settle a nervous stomach. To soothe and please cranky, teething or sick children add a few drops of Láváno to their milk or juice.
Adding a few leaves of this miraculous plant into a bowl of hot boiling water for vapor treatment is common among the two tribes.
Other usages, that are not as well known as the ones listed above, include:
The scent of the Láváno flower has a calming effect soothing the spirit. Láváno fragrance is often used to treat men who fear closed places. After 3000 b.S. the Lillivear also began to export a part of their Láváno cures - quite ironically - to the elves who claim to be better herbalists then most living humans.
At least legend has it! But then most Lillivear myths work solely to boost intercontinental trade of their goods… In the Twin Kingdom only the royalty and the council members were served beverages with Láváno because they felt only they deserved the value of its aphrodisiac quality. Documents from the 50th and 52nd centuries make reference to Láváno as an aphrodisiac for men, especially when it was made into a tincture. Lillivear cultivators would disregard the aforementioned accusations and assert that "The proof is in the pudding" - try wearing some Láváno perfume or serve a luscious dessert laced with the extract and see how the evening turns out! Possibly with some good profit for a greedy Krant merchant resting at a local inn…
Add a few drops to fruit salads or other tart dishes to soften the sharpness and give it extra sweetening. Put a little Láváno in lythebel sauces to neutralize the acidity. Also consider adding a few drops of Láváno to vegetables, tuberroots, and salad dressings. It allegedly increases the natural sweetness of vegetables and provides a delicate, subtle flavour to salads.
Whether you have just scorched your tongue on some delicious hot Zhunith food or you have always wanted to taste the famed Lillivear spices but don’t think you can take the heat, put a few drops of Láváno on your tongue to ease the pain and soothe the burn. A Lillivear master cook with whom this Compendium author once had the fortunate opportunity to speak informs us, “Remember: Sweet neutralizes heat: add some Fánílye to soften the bite but bring out the sweetness and flavour of our peppers.” Perhaps this is where the myths about certain types of Láváno being orc-repellants originated from.
Although by no means can it be compared to the effect of the Lillivear “Banishing Suns”, inserting a Láváno bean or two between your cushion may help solve your problems with spiders living on the underside of your furniture. Apply to both sides of your furniture. Bugs don't like the smell and will leave, whereas you will have the sweet smell of Láváno lingering in the air.
Brought to the Compendium through the counsel of wise Zhunith priestesses, rubbing some Láváno leaves on your hands before handling your fishing line is said to be an old Zhunite fishing trick. Lots of seasoned Krant fishermen and women use this ruse. Hence, remember to buy an extra jar of Fánílye the next time the marvelous goods of the two tribes are shipped to town. Don’t know any merchants you can trust? Kilaos Rythar, Compendium author, can always be contacted through the librarians of New-Santhala to find you just the right person to speak to in your area.
The Fánílye plant reproduces using a whole lot of seeds. After the flowers
bloom, they release tiny pollen particles, which ride the
wind until they are deposited. The sad
detail is, a Láváno can only be pollinated by another Láváno of the same kind.
The reproduction of a Llívá-Láváno on the other hand, is a wonder of its own. Little ajan myrmex, moving in and out of the blossoms for the entire mating cycle of nine nights (and only during the nights the moon can be seen) will be spotted on the ground once the pods fall. They seem to be almost hypnotized by the fragrance of the flower, which is quite different from the normal scent of the plant, during this period – barely feeling any disruptions to their single-lined march.
The Lillivear, despite all their tries, could not find a way to manifest the distinct smell of the Llívá-Láváno without harming its reproduction cycle.
Myth/Lore. The Llívá-Láváno is thought to be a gift of the Aesteran Goddess to the Lillivear when they have accepted to harbour their cousins within their splendid towns after the Pact of the Silent Wind. Even today the design on the Llívá-Láváno’s flowers is accepted as the primary symbol of moonlight. The plant itself is believed to drive the fiery destruction brought by orcs away.
Information provided by Coren FrozenZephyr