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Moonfire

The moonfire is a night-blooming flower that thrives throughout the winter seasons. The name 'moonfire' derives from its pale orb-shaped flower, and the fact it emits a soft glow during the night - a glow that becomes considerably brighter under a full moon.
Moonfires were discovered on one of the small islands off the coast of Esstia, where the flowers were once widely dispersed and used freely by all. However, when a natural disaster struck, the moonfires were destroyed, and the island was no longer suitable to bear them. Fortunately, seeds had been harvested and stored on Esstia, and a number of moonfires were flourishing in many herbalists gardens. Keen minds recognised the opportunity for profit in the aftermath of the disaster, and the prices of both seeds and moonfire products became a luxury for a while. Gradually, more seeds were planted and flowers harvested, and moonfires were no longer a rarity.  
I'm jealous of those Dosharians, to have such a bounty of the blessed moonfires. Imagine having a seemingly neverending field of them! Oh to see those Shimmering Plains and walk in their light. One day, if the gods allow it, I will see it for myself! Until then, I guess I will just have to make do with my own small garden.
— Kif Behandil
  Despite the moonfires being a native Esstian plant, most people first think of Arhia when considering the flower. This is simply due to the fact that the Shimmering Plains in Dosharia hold the highest number of moonfires. How they came to decorate these plains is still uncertain, but the common theory is that it was introduced by a Traveller who specialised in the study of unique plants. This Traveller would bear with them a variety of seeds and cuttings of many plants, often leaving an odd patch of them wherever they went. Whether they had intended to or not, these dark moonfire seeds had been spread across the plains where they had quite happily taken root in its rich soil and quickly spread.  

Night Guardians

  Moonfires have a strong sweet fragrant which, along with their soft glow, attracts a rare species of Hummerwing Dragons called shimmerwings. Like the moonfires themselves, these dragons are only active at night. They are often a dark blue or violet with tiny spots of white, giving them the appearance of a clear night sky. Unlike the common hummerwing, shimmerwings have a silver sheen to their scales and have been known to exhibit a fiercely protective attitude to the moonfires. With a particular flurry of their tiny wings, the petals of the moonfire gently open, allowing the dragon access to the sweet nectar, and the moonfire to transfer its pollen.  
Shimmerwing Dragon
Shimmerwing Dragon by AP.
A shimmerwing will be most protective of the moonfires that grow closest to their perches, especially when there are younglings present. Like all dragons, the colours of their scales can be used to indicate their mood. Shimmerwings prefer to blend in with the night around them but will make themselves clearly visible if they believe you to be a danger. Their colours would serve as a warning before they employ their venomous spit, which is deadly to insects but would only cause mild irritation to larger creatures.
  If a moonfire feels threatened, it will release a specific pattern of light only visible to the shimmerwings who will swoop in to the aid of the flower. These threats tend to come in the form of insects rather than larger predators, which is fortunate for the tiny dragons. Although, it is suspected that no matter the size of threat, the dragons would still put up a valiant effort. In the case of disease, nearby moonfires will alert the dragons, ensuring they do not drink of its nectar and allow the flower to shrivel and fade away.  

The Silver Circle

  In Arhia, moonfires are protected by religious decree, forbidding common folk to pluck these flowers from the ground. Yet if they are found naturally detached from the earth, the passer-by is at liberty to take it. With the plains being relatively protected from strong winds, this is quite rare and so to find one such flower is considered as a sign of good fortune and a blessing from the gods. People who claimed to have found a free flower were often met with suspicion before a religious sect known as the Silver Circle established their guardianship over the moonfires.  
Due to the shimmerwings and their already protective nature of the plants, some wonder whether the Silver Circle are really necessary and not just using religion to have a monopoly on the moonfires. This is subject to personal opinion, but none yet have been loud enough to truly threaten the Circle. In the Circle's early days it quickly became clear that for true success they needed a respectful relationship with the shimmerwings. While they might call themselves the keepers of the moonfires, everyone acknowledges that the little dragons are the true guardians.
The Silver Circle is dedicated to the night, more specifically, to Dreylith and Ealuthin. Some might be tempted to believe that those who make the night their domain are sly folks, yet those in the Silver Circle focus not on the darkness, but the light and beauty that can be found within it. They are the scholars who study the stars, seeking the wonders only visible against the shadows like the moonfire flowers. In silver robes they wander amongst the luminous blossoms, murmuring praises to the gods while they harvest a select few of the flowers. They are the only ones permitted to harvest the wild moonfires, yet the products they create from them are available to all.
  Silver Shadows
There are a number of folks who are not content to just let the Silver Circle hold a claim over all moonfires in Arhia. Wherever moonfires bloom you can be sure there will be a temple nearby controlled by the Circle, but around them, and perhaps even amongst them, are those known as Silver Shadows. They are a secretive group with seemingly limited organisation. Little is known about them, but whispers have reached the ears of members of the Circle causing subtle investigations to be pursued.
 

Uses of Moonfire

  The most popular use of the moonfire is in the brewing of tea, commonly called moontea. Notable side effects of this fragrant tea are the slow release of energy and a brief enhancement to night vision (usually lasting up to two to three hours). This tea is often served by members of the Silver Circle, known as Silver pilgrims, who set up small shacks or tents by the roadside for weary travelers. Small bags of tea leaves are also sold here, but it has been noted that homebrewed moontea is not as effective, despite the fact recipes and instructions are provided. Whatever the secret to brewing this tea is, the Silver Circle keeps it well guarded.  
It's my opinion that nothing can compare to the honest and simple comforts gained from a good cup of tea and pleasant conversation. For a weary traveler, the best tea is by far the moontea and you can always guarantee a good conversation from a Silver pilgrim.
— Fayra Dashlin
  Other products that are made from the moonfire include a variety of salves and oils, but a high percentage of the products are used in cooking or baked goods, which are only available during the Festival of Luthin's Lights. These cakes and biscuits are covered with a moonfire glaze that gives the consumer an energy boost that keeps them going for a full night of festivity.   The orbed shape of the flower-heads has reminded many folk of eyeballs and therefore have led them to believe these flowers are most useful for treating eyes. One new treatment developed by the Silver Circle recommends placing petals infused with almond oil over the patient's eyes for no longer than ten minutes. This treatment helps to keep common eye conditions at bay, as well as leaving the eyes feeling refreshed and helps to alleviate headaches. Some have gone so far as to recommend bathing outside under a full moon while carrying out this treatment for more potent results, but this has not yet been found to hold any truth.   There remains a lot of research to be carried out on this luminous bloom, with mages and scholars across Esstia working tirelessly to push their discoveries ever further. In Arhia it remains the privilege of the Silver Circle to carry out these studies, at least, to the public eye it appears to be limited to the Silver Circle.
Moonfire Flower
A Moonfire Flower by AP.
Alternative Names
Moondrop   Average Height
30 - 40cm (11.8 - 15.7in)
  Lifespan
Up to 3 years
  Status
Protected by the Silver Circle in Arhia
  Physical Description
Flower: Pale, orb-shaped flowerhead atop a straight and dark green stalk. Small, diamond-shaped leaves grow from small stems that alternate along the length of the stalk.
Seed: Small, with a dark outer shell protecting the pale inner seed.   Ideal Conditions
Cold and dark. All moonfires only bloom at night throughout the winter months.

Recipes

Moontea
  • Dried or fresh moonfire leaves
  • Kettle of hot water
For one mug of moontea, heap 1 - 2 spoons of the leaves into a mug of hot water. Use 5 - 6 spoons for a full kettle. For best results, leave to steep for 5 - 10 minutes. Sweeten to taste. Keep in mind that the fresher the leaves are, the stronger the taste will be. Adjust quantities accordingly.

Moonfire Oil
  • Dried moonfire leaves
  • Almond oil
  • Small or medium size cauldron
  • Glass jar
Finely chop or powder the dried moonfire leaves and place in the glass jar. Cover with almond oil and gently stir until the leaves are equally dispersed. Seal the jar and place in the cauldron and fill with water. Leave on heat for 3-5 days. After 3-5 days, remove the glass jar and leave to cool. When cooled, strain the oil through cloth to remove the remaining moonfire leaves. Store in a cool, dark place.

Moonfire Salve
  • Moonfire oil
  • Kalea wax (grated or pellets)
  • Small or medium size cauldron
  • Glass jar
  • Optional: Essential oils
Heat the oil in a cauldron. Add the kalea wax and stir until melted. Test the consistency with a clean spoon, leaving it to cool in a coldbox for a few minutes. Add more wax to thicken if needed. If adding essential oils, add a few drops now and stir with a clean implement. Once the wax has all melted, pour the warm salve into glass jar. Store in a cool, dark place.

Moonwater
  • Fresh moonfire petals
  • Distilled water
  • Shallow bowl
Place the petals in the bowl and cover with water (only enough to just cover the petals). Place over a low heat and leave for 20 - 30 minutes. Strain the mixture into a glass jar and discard the petals.

Moonglaze
  • Cold water
  • Moonwater
  • Sugar
  • Lemon juice
  • Medium size cauldron
  • Glass jar
In a cauldron, combine the cold water and the sugar over a medium heat. When it is bubbling at a simmer, reduce the heat and cook for 12 - 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and add the moonwater and lemon juice. Pour into a glass jar and leave to cool completely overnight before using on baked goods.

Recipes written with the help of the following sources: A Beginner's Guide to Making Herbal Salves and Lotions and How To Make Homemade Rosewater

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This article was written in response to the Peculiar Plants challenge.


Cover image: by Thomas Shellberg

Comments

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26 Mar, 2021 18:50

I really like the idea of the Hummerwing Dragons coming to the flower's aid! That's such a cool notion and one I've never read before! ^.^ Also, wow all those juicy ideas for ways to make this flower and its leaves drinkable <3

~ Eliora Yona ~
26 Mar, 2021 20:19

Thank you Eliora/Elysia! (Still getting used to your new name!) Yeah, I was thinking about David Attenborough show I saw recently and am quite fond of the relationship between flower and dragon. :) Glad you liked it! <3

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
26 Mar, 2021 23:46

Happy to finally be reading your plant! That's a nice article, and I absolutely love the idea of tiny dragon pollinators! This is so cute! You need an illustration of them!   Any reason why the dragons are protective of the flowers? Are they just territorial and thinking "this is my flowers"? In that case to they accept to share their territory with each other?   It's very cool that you've added the actual recipes! You could also add a higher level title at the top of the recipes saying "recipes" to highlight them.   I'm a bit confused on whether the flowers are rare or not. They were rare just after the disaster and are not anymore? Or are they just rare in Estia but not in Dosharia?   " despite the fact recipes and instructions are provided." You should not have an "are" here.   " Many believe these plants are most useful for the eyes due to the shape of them" I think you need to explain a bit more this logical leap here.   So reading all of that, my first thought is about criminal having a black market for the flower. Or would that not work because people wanted to get the flower illegally would just pluck it off the ground and pretend to have fin it?   On that topic, I'm now wondering how dangerous are the little dragons against a big threat like a human…

27 Mar, 2021 10:22

Thank you so much for taking the time to not only read it but to also give such wonderful feedback! I've made a few minor adjustments in light of it, but will definitely have a think and expand on the other points too.   And don't worry, there will indeed be an illustration of the shimmerwing! There is an article on the Hummerwings where you can read more about them, and see a common one there, but I forgot to link it here.   So, I'm hoping my minor edit may help to clear that up, but the moonfires are not rare anymore. The protection they have in Dosharia/Arhia is simply due to religious reasons rather than anything else. In Esstia, while they were once considered rare and a luxury, they are common and are not so revered.   Hm, I'm not sure about removing the are to be honest! I think it doesn't make much sense in that sentence without it?   I have expanded slightly on this, so hope it reads better! Let me know!   Oh I like the idea of a black market, and had toyed with the idea, but I'm worried I already have a lot of words. Maybe that could be another article?   Concerning the dragons, I'd say they are more territorial but I hadn't given much thought to the relationship with others of their kind. I will have to expand on that some more! There are no humans in Arinthel, it's an anthropomorphic world, but yes, I will give some more thought to how they would react to larger folk.   Thanks once again for your feedback! I really do appreciate it! <3

27 Mar, 2021 12:34

I love these! I really like their relationship with the Shimmerwings. <3 All of the different recipes are a really fun touch too. :)

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
27 Mar, 2021 13:22

Yay! Thank you Emy! <3

27 Mar, 2021 13:57

I really like your article. The idea of having the Dragons protect the flowers is really cool, and I love that you've added all those recipes. They really add a nice touch to the article overall.   One thing that comes immediately to mind: Is there are black market for it? Maybe even someone trying to grow them just for harvest? With all these uses it seems like people would want to get their hands on them.   "People who claimed to have found a free flower were often met with suspicion before a religious sect known as the Silver Circle established their guardianship over the moonfires." Why did this change? People can still just pluck flowers for themselves if nobody is looking, right? So is it just a cultural thing of "We don't do this" or can the Silver Circle detect if someone plucked them?   "There still remains a lot of research to be carried out on this luminous bloom, with mages and scholars alike working tirelessly to push their discoveries ever further." Is there some conflict here with the Silver Circle? I can't imagine them being to happy of outsiders trying to work with the flowers and a dedicated scholar might not care much about the Circle?   But overall this is a very nicely written article! I really like it!

28 Mar, 2021 17:53

Thank you so much Satrium! Amelie has also mentioned about a black market so will add something in about that. :)   Hm you raise a good point there too! I had intended it to be more of a cultural acceptance but I should perhaps expand upon that some more.   Ah, I had intended that the research was being carried out by the Silver Circle here although with them only controlling the moonfire in Arhia there can also be more freedom and research happening in Esstia. I gotta work on that!   Thanks once again! :)

27 Mar, 2021 17:47

YOU HAVE TINY DRAGONS! Sorry, it is a little rare that i come across this idea, and while different from how they operate in my world I love the idea of dragons sort of substituting for birds in some cases. Great Article. I also love the inclusion of the recipes in the side bar. Very well constructed article.

Check out my Shipwright Challenge Entry The Rum Runner
28 Mar, 2021 17:58

Haha, thank you so much drunkenpanda! Yes, I admit I am rather fond of the little dragons!

3 Apr, 2021 20:30

Such a nice article! It was very fun to read. Those tiny dragon pollinators are such a cute and fun idea ^^ Loved that the tooltip also showed an image of them there :p Their symbiosis with the flowers is very interesting and well written out.   The recipes you added were a nice addition as well.   Lovely article!

Feel free to check out My Ship entry if you want to see what I am up to!
5 Apr, 2021 09:15

Thank you so much! I am currently working on a picture of the shimmerwings to include in this article so that will hopefully be done soon!   So glad you liked it, thank you! <3

14 Apr, 2021 10:43

I rechecked your article and for some reason my like had not registered so I have re liked it :) It was a very nice article so would be a shame if it had a like less :)

Feel free to check out My Ship entry if you want to see what I am up to!
Grandmaster AzounIV
Luca Poddighe
11 Apr, 2021 14:43

It took me a while to get to read your article, but I have enjoyed it very much! I like the multiple uses and the receipts, as well as the connection with the Silver Circle.

Transform your quirks, in your strength! Join the revolution and visit Phaldorya (Eng)
12 Apr, 2021 09:01

Thank you so much! There are a LOT of plant articles for this challenge! So glad you liked it! :)

Grandmaster AzounIV
Luca Poddighe
12 Apr, 2021 13:26

Most of the ones that I have read are actually very enjoyable...

Transform your quirks, in your strength! Join the revolution and visit Phaldorya (Eng)
12 Apr, 2021 13:37

Yeah I sure am glad I don't have to judge them! xD

12 Apr, 2021 12:52

Oh wow, this plant is really lovely! I absolute love the symbiotic relationship they have with the shimmerwings (absolutely adorable concept btw- humming bird dragons??? hell yeah!!). I also love the role it plays in religions, and that the tea it is used to make is gifted to travelers.

Author of Interarcanum.
12 Apr, 2021 13:39

Thank you so much TC! So glad you love the hummerwings too. They are precious to me! xD

13 Apr, 2021 21:40

Teeny tiny dragons! So cute! And recipes, wicked!

Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young
14 Apr, 2021 09:25

Thank you! Glad you like it! :)

14 Apr, 2021 02:46

This article is lovely, from the tiny nocturnal dragons to the glowing winter flowers. I love the recipes included as well and the controversy surrounding the Circle. This is a wonderful article, and I love your art.

- Hello from Valayo! And Happy Summer Camp!
14 Apr, 2021 09:26

Thank you so much! So glad you like it. :)