Expedition Addendum: Vale Flora

Expedition Addendum:

Vale Flora

—An informal, post-expedition recounting of discussions with Tennu’s Glean and firsthand experience with the local flora.

In our few weeks of living on Tennu we had many opportunities to speak with the tribe’s Glean on the flora that the kets need to sustain themselves. We know that the kets need plants in general, and specifically prefer plants that only grow below the mist—in the Undergrowth as it’s called locally—for their…nutritional value for lack of a better phrase.

Since our return we have published what notes we found scattered around Tennu from Zinder ‘Odkodpoby’s research here, though that was ultimately not fruitful. Zinder speculated that these Undergrowth strains of the flora contained some biological components that keeps kets immune to many diseases as well, or that it activates some latent aspect of their inherent biology to accomplish this. We had to be delicate when approaching the Glean—on the few occasions we were granted—with anything we had (pardon the pun) gleaned from Zinder’s notes, as we have gathered that the tribe was ultimately not receptive to her research.

However, one thing that the Glean made clear was that on their excursions below the mist, there were many new kinds of flora we could not witness. Additionally, all that we could find ourselves had variations in the Undergrowth that were superior in one aspect or another. Many of them were more nutritionally dense, produced more vegetation, or in the case of the plant material used for their sparse clothing, made for higher quality material.

We were able to walk around Tennu of our own free will, outside of the tribe’s nomadic pattern, and though they did not regularly harvest the flora on the surface as we traveled opposite their pattern we found little evidence of the existence of such flora until we had traveled to where they were several months prior. We were told of four species of flora that have non-Undergrowth variants, though we could only locate two of them.

The first of the flora we found is locally known as Fluff, a shrub-like plant that grows a boll of fiber around seeds. This variant is used for sheets as it is less dense, but is also apparently scratchier. Several kets we talked to in the tribe wore these sheets in their youth and have used them as layering since, but it is not the optimal clothing fiber.

The other flora we found are known as scaled rocks, though they are in fact mushrooms. These mushrooms grow up at the same rate that they grow out, to the extent that we had a difficult time finding scaled rocks that were not already making contact with the ground all the way around their bells. They are called rocks, but these mushrooms have a texture that grows over itself to produce what looks like scales. Additionally, these mushrooms grow leaves only in spots where the bell makes contact with the ground.

We were able to travel to a location above the mist where—in a rare view for this part of Vale Reef—the mist parted a kilometer or so away from the cliff edge. On the northern reaches of what is known as Rock-Eater Sea, we could spy the namesake flora in the body of water far below. What was most immediately notable was the glow; most plants we could see under the mist had bioluminescence to some degree. The small growths of Rock Eaters—the first stage of their growth that also appears rarely above the mist we are told—glowed faintly. Each stage increased in luminescence though the final stage was notable for where it glowed; the plants themselves did not glow, but rather the canopies of leaves that sprouted did.

From this vantage point we could see many other species of flora—many of which were recognizable given our first and secondhand knowledge of their surface variants—though we have not been able to determine what the rainbow coloured growths on some of the Rock Eater trees were. The Glean was not willing to divulge this information.