Bredden is a
small ivory grain that comes in a male and female plant, and must be sowed in
mixed fields in order to flourish. The resultant flour is fine, white, and high
in gluten, making a tasty, airy loaf.
Appearance. As Breddgrain comes in two distinct varieties, or perhaps we should say genders, obviously each has its own appearance and characteristics. Common to both Breddlad and Breddlass plants are their colouration and overall form; the stalk and head are a pale yellowish colour shaded with green and purple streaks at the base, and fading to a near-white at the head. The stem is slim and ridged, with small joints or segments in it at three-hand intervals. Thin hand-length leaves, also ivory-coloured, sprout in pairs and triplets from the lower joints of the stalk. Between the segments the stalk is full of a light porous pith which seems to carry the fluid and nutrients the growing grains require.
Picture description. A small ivory, rather common grain in Santharia: Bredden. Image drawn by Bard Judith.
Breddlad, as the male plant and its produce is called, is slightly taller
(about waist-high to a human
male, a little over a ped). The head contains tiny greenish seeds, protected by
pale white husks and long, barbed ‘hairs’ or ‘whiskers’ which project
upwards for about a finger’s length. These seeds can be stripped and eaten
before the plant releases them at ripening time; they are slightly bitter and
quite small, but otherwise have similar properties to the fertilized female
Breddlass stalks grow slightly less than a ped, and the heads are fuller and shorter. The hairs are much softer, lying along the head of the stalk like a silky blanket. The individual grains are narrow ivory pods in their immature state and swell into plump spheres when fertilized. These are the grains that are prized for Breddflour.
Territory. Bredden is a choosy plant, and requires a lot of care to be taken with its planting, cultivation, and harvest. It prefers well-drained, slightly dry, dark soil, and requires plenty of sunlight. The flatter the ground is, the better. The climate should be windy rather than otherwise; the wind not only spreads the spores and seeds that stimulate fertilization, but also seems to encourage healthy, sturdy stalk growth.
The largest Bredden fields are thus north of Carmalad, below Onved in central Santharia, and in the Celeste Lowlands. Breddgrain may be found growing wild in the plain of Truoor, on the Heath of Jernais, and the Twynor Grasslands, but the cultivated versions are by now much fuller of shape and sweeter of flavour.
Usages. The main usage is, of course, as flour for baking and cooking, as noted above. It is more expensive than wheat, but less pricy than Golden Rain. Often it can be used mixed to make it more cost-effective.
The threshed stalks of the Breddlass may be used for animal bedding, fodder, or thatching where yealm reeds and other longer straws are not available. Their nubbly joints and the hairs on the stalkheads tend to make them unsuitable for human bedding, as the hairs will work through any weave and make the pallet quite prickly.
The unshed seeds of the Breddlad are edible and nourishing if one is in need, but their slightly bitter flavour is not encouraging to the tongue, and their tiny size requires a great deal of work to handstrip from the plant.
Ripe Bredden grains with a certain amount of moisture remaining can be placed in a heavy iron pot with a bit of seasalt and sunseed oil, and roasted for a delicious snack. Care must be taken to cover and shake the pot, as the grains will puff up and attempt to hurl themselves out of the pot! Whether the name ‘Popping Grain’ was bestowed on the Bredden for this attribute or for the explosive way in which the male releases its seeds, is unknown. At any rate, farmchildren do not seem to care as they wolf down their ‘popgrain’, and innkeepers have recently begun to realize that the salty, buttery snack is almost as effective as doch nuts or sunseeds at evoking thirst in their customers!
Reproduction. Depending upon the climate, Breddgrain may be planted as early as Avénni'modía, the month of Awakening Earth. In most areas, though, it is considered more profitable to wait for the fourth month, Méh'avashín, which falls under Grothar’s influence and is thus both warmer, windier, and wetter. The seed is generally sowed free-hand, the farmer walking in a giant spiral from the centre of his field out towards the edges, casting last-year’s grains to either side of him as he walks. It will sprout in about three weeks and begin to grow and flourish through the summer.
During Alé'veván, appropriately enough the month presided over Etherus, the young plants are ready to ‘ripen’, the process in which they cross-fertilize.
The Breddlass plant begins the initiative, sending out a cloud of tiny dustlike spores with a strong fragrance, and opening its husks to reveal the virgin grain. This appears to stimulate the Breddlad, which then releases its green seeds with an almost explosive energy, the husks flipping back to expel the seed as far as a ped away. The open husks of the Breddlass receive the greenish particles and seemingly absorb them into the ivory grain over the next few days. The Bredlad plant, its arrows shot, begins to wither almost immediately, and by the end of the month, when the female is burgeoning with ripening round grain, the male stalks lie dry and desiccated among their roots, their energies seemingly fertilizing the ground for their ‘offspring’.
By Maáh'valannía, the eighth month of the Santharian year, the Bredden is almost ready for harvest, although it may wait through to the end of Chúh'querín the Fallen Leaf without harm if no frost is expected. It is harvested with a scythe, or smaller plots with a hand-sickle, stooked to dry in short sheaves, then thrashed, husked, and sieved like other grains. When ground, it becomes an attractive ivory flour with a fine texture, and when worked with yeast, honey, and water, produces a light and airy bread with a faint yellow hue and a honey aroma.
Bredden must be planted with both male and female stalks in order to flourish; the clever farmer has long since discovered the optimum proportion of fertilizing males and grain-bearing females, and when harvesting always collects his seedgrain for next year in that ratio. The necessary Breddlad seeds must be collected in early Alé'veván, before they are released, while the Breddlass grain, interestingly enough, can be collected either at that same time (before fertilization) or during harvest. Either way, next year the male seed will bear a male plant, and the female grain a female plant.
Myth/Lore. The braided wreath of grain which the goddess Jeyriall is often depicted as wearing about her auburn locks is said to be of Breddgrain, and most of the legends about the plant involve her.
Obviously this plant’s unique method of reproduction also evokes the influence of the God of Desire, Etherus, and homage is paid to him in several tales as well.
In Onved, just south of the twin mounts known as “The Cup” and “The Goblet”, they say that Etherus felt desire for the deep-bosomed Jeyriall, yet their elements and natures opposing as fire opposes water, he could not approach her in lust and so spent himself upon the earth, clutching the hills in his passion as he might her divine body. From the ground where he had lain there later sprang up the stalks of Bredden, both Breddlass and Breddlad.
But in Carmalad they tell the story in reverse, saying that Jeyriall looked with favour upon the mischievous Lord of Love, yet knowing the barriers between them, and having as her consort already the dark and powerful Armeros, made the Breddgrain as a love-token for Etherus, a natural bouquet of sensuality made forthright.
In the writings of the ancient human poet Dar'Seideous, we find the lines:
“Bright God of Fire, desire’s king,
Here we see an obvious attribution of the grain’s creation (as well as the Aecilian Eagle and the Etherus Worm) to Etherus himself. This belief holds no contemporary acceptance, as the God of Desire is generally now seen as primarily seeking destruction and chaos, rather than supporting creativity and order.
Information provided by Bard Judith