Lungmeithr

Within the Theory of Sympathy, Law of Interaction and its mantra states "Everything is connected". Indeed! All life in this world interacts with one another. This forms an overarching world ecology. Now, note the lungmeithr; these world trees stitch the layers of Airth itself together, binding each level to the one above it and below it. The world, through the Lungmeithr, breathes.
— Botanist Adriet Mikhale
  The lungmeithr, colloquially known as the world trees, dot the surface landscape of Airth. As pictured right, it is the largest lifeform on Airth because it spans the gaps between the layers of Airth--from the Eyrie to the ocean--the lungmeithr serves a key role not only in the rain cycle, but also temperature regulation, gas exchanges, and the creation of surface oceans and lakes for the planet.  

Anatomy and Appearance

The lungmeithr is a towering biostructure with a smooth grey-green bark and a hollow interior. It was once thought to be a symbiotic colony of lichen due to it's ability shift physiological functions depending on the layer in which it resides. A few characteristics remain consistent between each of the layers:  
  1. The lungmeithr's roots and branches are almost indistinguishable as both can grow leaves and provide stability;

  2. the only defining characteristic that separates roots and branches is the presence of a taproot which drains, stores, and secretes excess water as a means of survival during periods of drought;

  3. it is hollow and has internal protrusions that act like pockets of reserved water and nutrients;

  4. this hollow interior is easily accessed as the tree is dotted with holes big enough for five people to enter; it is thought that these holes on the lower levels provide flexibility in case the organism is crushed under its own weight or is moved by an earthquake; on the upper levels, it allows for wind to cool and bend around the structure.
 

Surface Anatomy

Once a lungmeithr reaches the surface, its drill-like crown is exposed. In optimal conditions, the drill will transform and spiral into a tree-like structure. From here, the lungmeithr will reach a peak height, and grow branches and stems with needle-like leaves to catch the light. Meithril bark will grow on its exterior, and some additional roots may be grown to help fully stabilize the tree.  

Life Cycle

 
A lungmeithr's life is a series of metamorphic stages, going from nut, to marine plant, to terrestrial plant. The goal of this plant is to find the surface and drill up to the top, creating physiological junctions with each layer. Each layer gives the lungmeithr unique nutrients therein, allowing it to grow until it breaches the surface and reach maturity.  

Fossilization

the only reason lungmeithrs are not immortal species is that they spend a great amount of energy attempting to adapt to all layers of Airth and reproducing offspring to better survive each layer. Through their taxing endeavors, the internal mechanisms that give the tree life slowly begin to break down. The way in which they break down is by, essentially, calcifying. When the tree can absorb no more toxins, they solidify at the base levels, traveling up the roots they built until the surface tree becomes like stone,
then erodes over the course of several thousand years, and sinks back down.   While this would usually mean trouble for Airth, the tree is often so large that the hole, for the most part, fills back up, creates a lake, or leaves a hole for a budding lungmeithr to grow in.

Cultural Significance

It was the strangest thing when I pressed my ear to its bark. I heard water bubbling and flowing inside.
— Apprentice Botanist
  Within Airth, a single lungmeithr tree is a cause for veneration within an area; The tree provides fertility and nutrients to the landscape around it through its roots; this creates a stable and interconnected ecosystem, up to 8 kilometersaway from where the tree stands.
For this reason, civilizations often settle near these trees and maintain them in order to prosper and developed customs around the trees.   One common ceremony is one held for a baby, after their first birthday. The ceremony involves presenting the baby to the tree in hopes of conjoining their lifeforces and bringing the baby longevity. In practice, the ceremony is less glamourous: the baby is dunked in the lungmeithr's waters and then, the baby must pee on the tree. This sharing of fluids dates back to the first and ancient practice of sympathetic magics. Another common ceremony is to use the tree's wood to make frithling effigies in order to trap the spirit of a person in an wooden husk so that the spirit might go the next baby had.
 

Water, Salt, Bark

Aside from customs, The lungmeithr is involved in the daily lives of all who live near it as a source of freshwater, salt, and raw material: When it comes to fresh water, the lungmeithr's smaller taproots can be harvested periodically and act as a waterskin for travelers. If salt is needed, the tree's leaves secrete the excess salt built up in its system; the leaves can be plucked, ground up, and refined to harvest additional green salt. For raw materials, the lungmeithr offers an abundance: due to its hollowed structure, the tree can be utilized to go below the surface and mine for ore; aside from this, the lungmeithr's bark, called meithril bark for short, is prized for it's lightweight and durability, and is often worked into armors and tools.

PRONUNCIATION:

/lɵŋ-meɪðɹ/
Lung-May-Thur
Lifespan
1,800 years
Average Height
10000 meters
Average Weight
45,359.237 kilograms
Lungmeithr.jpg
Lungmeithr by Invictia


Cover image: Welcome to Chimera by Invictia

Comments

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15 Mar, 2021 14:08

This is a really cool concept and I love the idea of having living towers to traverse the different levels. It reminds me of the structure of a game dungeon and I think that's awesome! Love the flow of your writing too and how clearly the content is displayed.

I'd truly appreciate your constructive critisism on any and all pages in my world - The Lands of Errack
17 Mar, 2021 14:25

That is such a cool idea! I really loved reading about the importance of the plant for citizens of the world, and the art is really dope too!

Author of Interarcanum.
27 Mar, 2021 20:23

Such an interesting concept that a tree is so large it can be used to travel between all layers of the world. I like the fact how it is actually different on every layer and traverses each one during its growth.   I did find a typo though, 'over the coarse of' should have been 'course' I think.   In all a very nice read!

Feel free to check out My Ship entry if you want to see what I am up to!
8 Apr, 2021 14:29

Hi Invictia! Your concept of Lungmeithr and Sympathy gives me a nice combination of Yggradsil/World Tree and Name of the Wind (Patrick Rothfuss) vibes. I appreciate the hand drawn art, and your article is well laid out. The concept that it calcifies then erodes to create a potential issue/lake/space for a new tree is nice 'change' to make your species even more unique. Well done :)

xtremepsy | Ölütanrı
Checkout my other favourite entries to the 2021 Peculiar Plant HERE!
Feel free to read, favourite, and comment on my entry, Digivine.
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
11 Apr, 2021 13:13

Great article! I love the idea of the trees changing characteristics to adapt to each layer and going through the sky to go to another layer :D   And you have a great illustration for the tree, it really helps with the visualisation :D   A few notes I took while reading:   For the anatomy characteristics, I think starting a new line for each new number would be a better presentation.   I like the branches and roots being indistinguishable.   The ritual with the baby is very cool :D   " so that the spirit might go the next baby had." I'm not sure what you mean here.   I'm not sure how those layers work. You say that the hole left after a tree dies can be filled with lakes. Would the water not fall to the layer below? Is there something preventing it from doing so?

17 Apr, 2021 12:17

Pillars that grow from layer to layer sound frickin' awesome! O_O And a nice way of exploring or connecting.

Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young