Lands of the Plant Kingdom
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The Following is the first edition of Lands of the Plant Kingdom. Commissioned in the seventy-fifth year after Spear’s Unification, forty-second year of King Snowflake, by Head Priest Goldflame for the purposes of compiling in a single volume the lands of the Kingdom from end to end. This work is up to date as of 81AU.

Introduction

For the uneducated, and oftentimes even the educated, the Plant Kingdom can be a big and complex place. All yearn to know where they are and why, why they are the way they are and why things are the way they are. In this work we hope to provide a way to answer those questions. May the Sun shine on this work as nothing but truthful and useful.

A Plant’s Life

Leaves of the Kingdom

Five races of plant and leaf have been blessed by the Sun with mind, thought, and size. They are as follows:

  • Those of the Sun Province: The main inhabitants of the Province Under the Sun. Heights vary greatly but are on average about five logs tall, the tallest of the five. Stems are short, about half a log. Flesh ranges from blue-green to just green. Their sides are lined with thin spines. Those more well-off may live into their 70s or 80s. Commoners more likely to their 40s or 50s.
  • The Eternal Pines: While not identified with any one province, they are most commonly found in the Province Under the Sun. Heights average to about four logs tall. The design of their bodies is unique, the center of their body being brown and woody, like a thin branch. Growing from it in all directions are hundreds of green needles. They are most known for their long lives, occasionally passing 100. Most become priests or religious servants, this combined with their long lives have earned them a reputation of being wise.
  • Those of the River: The main inhabitants of the Province of the River. They are the smallest of the five races, at one to three logs tall. Their bodies are very similar to those of the Sun Province on a smaller scale. Most, however, adopt a deeper blueish hue to their flesh. Most nobles live into their 90s, while commoners live into their 60s.
  • Those of Fire: The main inhabitants of the Province of Fire. Averaging about four logs tall in most cases. Their bodies are stiff and hard, and dark green in color. Their stems are thin, and about half a log long. On the tops of their heads, their flesh narrows into a hard point, described often as spikes. Many have more along the sides of their bodies. Nobles live to their 70s, while commoners live into their 50s.
  • Those of the Hills: The main inhabitants of the Province of the Hill. Heights average to about four logs, half of this made by their long, skinny, stems. Their flesh can range from red to green, most settling around pink. Their bodies are unique, having three lobes, one large and two smaller to the sides. Each of these is shaped as a rounded spearhead or spade. The middle large one constitutes the body, while the two smaller ones act as arms, able to manipulate objects with greater range and ease than others. Because of the lack of nobility and common savage nature of their lifestyles, most only reach their 40s or 50s.

Several characteristics can be attributed to all races. The head constitutes the upper third of the body portion, through which sight is centered. Stems are used for hopping, as well as drinking. And all belong to trees which do not shed their leaves in the autumn. When one is blocked from the sun for too long, they will lose energy and die.

Mother Trees are much larger in size than the silent ones which crowd the forest, but can vary between the five races. Leaves will achieve awareness after sprouting from the branches, and will remain attached anywhere from 1-3 winters. While volunteer treekeepers will usually perform maintenance, a set of priests will also watch over the tree. Priests will educate young leaves and determine when one is ready to leave the tree. One should note education is dependent on situation, trees closer to large cities, especially royal, will likely receive an education, while more remote trees may not.

During this stage leaves are known as budlings. Once deemed ready to leave a tree, budlings will be cut off and allowed to drift down. The cutting process will hurt to some degree, and newly cut budlings are expected to take this as a small rite of passage. Rituals will vary around the Kingdom. Most use a special tool reminiscent of a stick with a sharp blade attached to the end. Priests may perform this action themselves, while in some cases a special position, known as a cutter may be made for this role. This is all commonly done during the spring.

While a large detachment is occuring, army commanders and members of the priesthood will wait below, hoping to convince newly cut leaves to join their causes. Priests educating budlings are expected not to promote any choice over the other, leaving the newly cut to choose their own path.

Leaves that came from the same mother tree are all “related” in a way, as a sort of weakly-bound family. Leaves growing next to or near each other will often grow strong bonds, and refer to themselves as branch brothers.

What is done under the Sun

Several methods of measuring time have been developed. Days are measured as the cycle of the sun rising and flying over the land, before dipping down and repeating the process. Moons refer to the complete cycle of phases of the moon, corresponding to approximately thirty days. Winters refer to the passing of all four seasons, usually twelve to thirteen moons.

Phrases are common across the Kingdom, many are localized, though some have found their way across the valley. The first are often used in negative slang, such as: “May the first return!” or “May the first reemerge!” On the opposite end, the sun is used in more positive language. “May the sun shine on you!” and “Bright as the sun!” are examples.
Across the entire Kingdom, the Sun is worshipped as the giver of life, as none can survive when seperated from it for too long. The Sun has the power to create blossoming Kingdoms as easily as it can wipe them out. The Festival of the Sun is the most celebrated day, occurring on the longest day of the seasonal cycle. Workers and soldiers will take this day off to celebrate.

When one dies they join the Great Tree in the afterlife. The afterlife consists of the large blue ocean above. In it is an island with a large tree. The Great Tree was the very first tree, it’s seed dropped from the sun itself after the destruction of the first, and it’s seeds falling to the land below created all the plantlife seen around the land. Five of these trees were blessed with mind. Because of the nature of the afterlife, rainwater is considered the purest form of water, and valued above groundwater and river water. An intact body is required to be in the afterlife, and so great care goes into preserving the dead. A complete embalming involves wrapping the body in woven sheets and placing it inside a sealed coffin. Those who can afford tombs will bring with them items to take into the afterlife. Pines will have their needles separated while the body is wrapped individually.

Differences in belief are seen across provinces. In the Hill Province stories and beliefs are upheld, with less emphasis on morals or values. Much of the Fire Province follows a higher emphasis on fire. However this branch’s following was much higher before Spear’s Unification, and has been dwindling to a more traditional sun-based since.

Plagues

Priests of the past have identified three major types of plagues that at times spread through the land and take lives.

The Fire Plague: Often called “The Bane of Kings” for it’s taking of King Shield. Most susceptible are those with past battle wounds, especially burns. We know it is separate from wound-related infections because it can strike the scarred many winters after receiving their wounds. Symptoms will start with fatigue, the infected growing weaker until they can no longer stand. Raging infections will eat at scarred flesh, turning it a rust red color, and brittle. Outbreaks include that of 11AU, which took the life of King Shield and Head Priest Flowers. The 67AU outbreak which killed Root Rain, and the 78AU outbreak which killed Root Ice. Though no cure has been found, treatments including daily cold baths, and removal of scarred flesh are common.

The White Plague: Thought to be spread by insects. Symptoms include fatigue, and in late stages a white mold will grow and spread on the body. Treatments include scrubbing the fungus off, and some priests know how to extract a white liquid from animals, which, when mixed with water, may keep the fungus at bay. A large portion of the population is known to be immune to this disease.

The Yellow Plague: Like the White Plague, is spread by insects. Most susceptible are those on mother trees, and due to their dense packing and risk of spread, infected are cut off and separated from others, until either they succumb to the plague or survive it. Symptoms include lesions and deformation of the body, survivors will often have permanent body disabilities. There is no cure and little information on treatment, infected will either live or die.

Lands under the Sun

The Plant Kingdom is situated in a valley almost completely cut off from the outside by mountains. Nothing is beyond the mountains except the decaying ruins of the first.

Simply put, think of the valley as an oval. On the left side is the Province Under the Sun. On the right is the Province of Fire. Cutting between the two down the middle is the Province of the River. Surrounding the three provinces is the Province of the Hill, compromising the mountains that cut the valley off from the outside. The size of the valley itself is vague, travellers often come back with varying estimates ranging from a couple weeks up to a couple months of travelling.

Plant life includes trees, bushes, grass, flowers, vines, and moss. Forest life is common, such as deer, squirrels, and birds. Elk and bears can occasionally be found in the mountains.

The Province Under the Sun

Or the Sun Province for short. Formerly known as the Kingdom Under the Sun before Spear conquered the other three. It is about the same size as the Fire Province. Bordering it to the east is the River Province. Around it the Hill Province. The lands are mostly flat, made up of plains and pockets of forest. Smaller ponds and lakes are scattered throughout. In the northeast, especially near the river, the land gives way to a patch of swampland. The only major city, the City Under the Sun, is located roughly to the center and slightly to the west in the province. The City Under the Sun also acts as the capital of the entire Kingdom. Beyond the city, the only major population centers are smaller villages which can pop up around remote mother trees. Standard weapons of Sun Province soldiers are spears. As assumed by it’s name, worship of the sun is strongest here.

The Province of the River

Or the River Province for short. Formerly known as the Kingdom of the River before Spear’s Unification. It is centered mostly around the river that cuts through the middle of the valley. Due to their small size, many inhabitants prefer not to get directly involved in violent conflict. Yet as it borders every other province, it is oftentimes seen as a strategic target, and usually gets caught up in larger wars despite not being initially involved. Land around it is heavily forested, with swampland on the northwestern portion going into the Sun Province. Inhabitants will often dispose of bodies by pushing them into the river to flow down and out of the Kingdom. This is viewed as being transported to the afterlife by more river-centered traditions. More sun-centered groups will still stick with the burial method, usually in above-ground mausoleums to shield from the river moisture.

The largest population center is in the City on the River. Built on an island in the southern river, it is known for it’s easy defensibility. The only access is through two large bridges connecting it to each shore. Bridges that Kings and later Branches will not hesitate to sabotage should they see a large incoming army. As was the case during Spear’s Unification. River soldiers often use bows and arrows, and are known to be some of the best archers in the Kingdom.

While being positioned in the middle of the Kingdom is a disadvantage during wartime, it allows the province to grow rich off trade with the other provinces. This, along with the unique exports of shells and sealeaf make them the wealthiest province overall. In fact many entrepreneurs journey here from throughout the Kingdom in hopes of making it big in certain industries.

The Province of Fire

Or the Fire Province for short. Formerly known as the Kingdom of Fire before Spear’s Unification. About the same size as the Sun province, it borders the River Province to the west, and around it is the Hill Province. It’s lands are filled with rolling hills and dense forests, with few lakes or bodies of water. Ruins of the First can be found in greater densities here, though most have been picked clean by eons of scavenging, and the shadows have been cut out and taken to adorn the Palace of the Fire Kings.

A majority of its wealth comes through mining industries, especially coal, charcoal, iron, stone, wood, and (especially in the pre-Unification days) First artifacts. These resources are commonly traded in its capital city, the City of Ash.

Religion in the Fire Province is a rather complex subject. Before King Spear, the ruling Kings of Fire worshipped a variation of the sun faith which emphasized fire. Soldiers would often paint symbols or cover themselves in ash or coal powder, their main weapons being torches. Enemies were often burned alive, which on top of a terrible death, ensures no afterlife on the Great Tree. Since King Spear’s unification, the followers of fire have been actively, though passively, suppressed. (The one exception being the short reign of Branch Sunswish.) Sun Province priests have attempted to convert a majority of the population, though large portions still believe in the old ways.

The Province of the Hill

Or the Hill Province for short. Formerly known as the Kingdom of the Hill before Spear’s Unification. It’s western half encloses the Sun Province, it’s easten half encloses the Fire Province. The river which makes up the River Province flows into the valley through the north end, and out the south end. Many do not even consider them to have been a Kingdom, more loosely held together villages and cave dwellers under a “King”. The King being headquartered in the Palace of the Hill in the northwestern province.

However it must be noted how quickly separate Hill clans united to fight King Spear and King Shield during their respective wars. When one looks at the historical record, it is obvious the Hill has been the most difficult and rebellious enemy, surpassing even the Fire Province. It’s mountainous geography being a great hindrance to foreign armies. The hill mace is the most common weapon used by soldiers, and is utilized only by them. Some historians believe Hill Warriors originally used deer antlers, which the current metal versions were based off of. Most crude maces are made of copper or bronze, wealthier warriors will use iron, while the best have steel.

Power of the Plant Kingdom

The Sun Province (and by Extent the Kingdom)

Before Spear, the province was known as the Kingdom Under the Sun, it’s king as the King Under the Sun. Ruling from the palace in the City Under the Sun, the King was seen as the living image of the Sun. As the embodiment of the Sun, the King was responsible for maintaining multiple traditions. The Crystal Ritual is done during daybreak on the day of the Sun Festival, in which the sunlight goes through an alined hole in the palace to shine through the crystal, sending a colored light over the King. Upon death, a King would be wrapped in woven sheets and sealed into his coffin in the city funerary temple. Then carried to the palace to be mourned for several days before burial. A successor, handpicked by the former King, will have already been selected, and will have been from the Royal Mother Tree. Shortly after the passed King has been placed in the palace, the new King will be crowned by the Head Priest. Old Sun crowns were simply woven grass, a bare version of the modern type.

It is unknown how many Kings Under the Sun there were before Spear. The first is said to have been crowned by the Sun itself after being given the gift of mind.

The current Kings of the Plant Kingdom are the direct descendants of the Sun Kings. The position officially being created by King Spear from the old. As such they have inherited all the traditions and rituals of the Sun Kings. Differences include the extended title, usually only used during crowning or funerary ceremonies, coupled with the new crown, both symbolizing dominion over the other three Provinces.

The historical Kings of the Plant Kingdom are as follows:

  • King Spear the Unifier (12BU-0AU): Most known for conquering the River, Fire, and Hill provinces. Died from wounds sustained in the First Battle of the Plant Kingdom against the Hill King known as The End. He is buried in the Royal Cemetery.
  • King Shield the Protector (0AU-11AU): King Shield began as one of many commanders King Spear recruited from the Royal Mother Tree. After saving King Spear from the King of Fire at the Battle of Cuts and Burns, he was promoted to the newly created position of Root. Upon Spear’s death and subsequent crowning, Shield put down two rebellions from the Fire and Hill Provinces respectively, and prevented the River from joining the second. He died in the 11AU Fire Plague Epidemic and is buried in the Royal Cemetery. In life he was known to be tall and relatively skinny.
  • King Stone the Stubborn (11AU-33AU): Veteran of the Spear’s Unification. Began as the Sun Ambassador to the River. Alerted King Shield to the conspiracy of the River and Hill Branches and was promoted to Root. Succeeded Shield after his death and brought the Kingdom under hard, though prosperous control. Appointed and later executed Branch Sunswish of the Fire Province. Died in 33AU and is buried in the Royal Cemetery. In life he was known to be short and deformed. Adopted a bear named Ash.
  • King Snowflake the Singer (33AU-): Began as Root to King Stone, later succeeded him. Reign has so far been peaceful and prosperous. Created the festival of the Snow and constructed the Great Temple to the Sun in the western Sun Province. At 48 winters is the longest reigning King of the Plant Kingdom. Known for his music and charm.

The High Priest (sometimes Head Priest) is the senior most religious official in the Kingdom. Before King Spear, he acted as the main advisor before the position of Root was created. Performs rituals such as crowning the King and oversees the religious festivals and traditions. Though he still must answer to the King, most priests find their loyalty more with the High Priest. High Priests are commonly pines, them being the main portion of the priesthood. The current holder is High Priest Goldflame from the Fire Province.

The Root is the second highest position in the Kingdom. Founded by King Spear along with the rest of the Plant Kingdom on the same day, the first to bear the title was Root Shield. Should a King not declare an heir before death, and the current Root be of the Royal Mother Tree, the title of King is automatically passed to the Root, though oftentimes the King’s chosen heir is already the Root. All Kings excluding King Spear once held this position. The current holder is Root Bark, from a non-royal village in the northern Sun Province, and therefore cannot succeed King Snowflake.

The Thorn is the newest position in the Kingdom, acting as the supreme commander of the Kingdom’s military. The position was created by King Snowflake to reward Strongrass, a guard who saved his life. As of 81AU, Strongrass is the current Thorn, though in declining health.

Branches are the leaders of each province, answering solely to the King. The Provinces of River, Fire, and Hill, are each led by one, the Sun Province being administered directly by the King. All current Branches are descended from former Kings.

Ambassadors are the most numerous Royal Position, each Province hosts three ambassadors, one from every other Province. Ambassadors act as diplomatic intermediaries between the territories.

Priests are minor religious figures of the Kingdom. Conduct rituals on a more daily and individual basis, such as leading Sun worship, assisting nobles, or providing pious advice to any who ask. Priests also act as keepers of knowledge, recording information, as well as educating elite and curing illnesses. Though several of these tasks have been taken up by scribes in recent years. When one joins the priesthood they are to forsake any ties to mother trees or branch brothers. Much of the priesthood is made up of pines.

Commanders are minor military figures of the Kingdom. Will lead individual units and answer to the Thorn. A variation known as High Commanders will command multiple units while still answering to the Thorn.

Nobles are minor authority figures of the Kingdom. More a general term for below-royal leaders. Nobles are counted as leaders of villages or large swaths of land, and answer to the King or Branch of their province.

The River Province

The King of the River once ruled from the River Palace in the City on the River, and would wear a crown made of sealeaf wrapped around the top of the head. The first King of the River was said to have been born from the water. Names of River Kings and Branches were long and reflect their legacy, though the current Branch Winds has changed this to a traditional, simple name. Upon death, Kings would be sent off in much the same way of Sun Kings. Though instead of woven cloth, bodies would be wrapped in sealeaf and sealed into a coffin, which would then be floated down the river out of the Kingdom. This tradition is still utilized by succeeding River Branches.

Notable Kings and Branches of the River include:

  • The River King who Submitted and the Branch that Rebelled: Surrendered his Kingdom to King Spear, and as a result was the only King to emerge from Spear’s Unification alive. Became the first Branch of the River Province. Conspired with the King The Betrayed of the Hill. Murdered Root Iron and was drowned alongside a Hill Ambassador on order of King Shield.
  • The River Branch who almost went to war with the Hill: Disputed the Branch of the Hill over rights to the land surrounding the northern river. The situation was defused by Root at the time Snowflake.
  • Branch Winds: Current Branch of the River, opted for a more traditional name. Said by his associates to be exceptionally greedy.

The Fire Province

The King of Fire ruled from the City of Ash, in his dark throne room decorated with shadows of the first cut from the walls of their ruins. Instead of a crown, the King of Fire would burn the top of his head black. The first King of Fire was said to have been infused by the Sun with energy to summon flame at will. Upon death a Fire King was burned in an elaborate pyre with the Sun directly overhead. No King of Fire ever took a name and so they have been numbered for track-keeping’s sake.

Notable Kings and Branches of Fire include:

  • The First Fire King: Not to be confused with the original. Fought King Spear in the battle of Cuts and Burns, threw his torch which was blocked by Commander at the time Shield, giving King Spear enough time to throw his weapon and take out the Fire King. Spear ordered his body buried directly into the ground rather than be burned.
  • The Second Fire King: Rebelled against King Shield. Died of the fire plague while at war.
  • The Third Fire King: Continued the war against King Shield. Was said to be unstable. Burned himself to death attempting to prove his divine nature. Fire Province surrendered soon after.
  • Branch Sunswish: Appointed by King Stone, attempted to wipe out the old fire-based traditions and burned political opponents and fire followers alive. Burned alive himself by King Stone upon hearing of his crimes.

The Hill Province

The King of the Hill ruled from his palace in the northwestern mountains. Unlike the other provinces, Hill Kings do not claim any divine nature. Their first King was said to have been the strongest and best fighter, who brought the other groups of the Hills under his control and built the palace under the Royal Hill Mother tree. The Hill Kings wore no crowns, and were buried in small nooks in the walls of the throne room, which were sealed with brick. Remaining Hill Leaders would decide the name the King would go by after his death, and once settled, would bury the King. After which, should they be of the Royal Hill Mother Tree, would challenge and battle each other for the right to the throne.

Notable Kings and Branches of the Hill:

  • The End: Fought against Spear’s Unification for five winters. Was killed by King Spear during the First Battle of the Plant Kingdom, though inflicted wounds which eventually brought down the Unifier. Buried in the Hill Palace.
  • The Halfwit: Lackluster Branch installed by King Shield after the annexing of the Hill Kingdom. Killed by The Betrayed as part of the Hill Rebellion against King Shield. Buried in the Hill Palace.
  • The Betrayed: King who raised the Hill in rebellion against King Shield. As the war went on he lost favor with his populace, and was killed by his own soldiers in a cave. Buried in the Hill Palace, though some have called for his removal.
  • The Hunted: Nicknamed The Hunter in life. Installed by King Shield after the surrender of the Hill Province. Killed by a bear during a hunting expedition with King Stone. In his final moments asked the King to adopt the bear’s cub, who later became Ash. Buried in the Hill Palace.
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