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.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 AppearanceThe 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:
- The lungmeithr's roots and branches are almost indistinguishable as both can grow leaves and provide stability;
- 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;
- it is hollow and has internal protrusions that act like pockets of reserved water and nutrients;
- 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 AnatomyOnce 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.
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.
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.
Fossilizationthe 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,
It was the strangest thing when I pressed my ear to its bark. I heard water bubbling and flowing inside.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.