Findore (fin-do-rleh)

MINOR SPOILERS for Book #3 Crown & Creed and #4 Kin & Kind.

The following is excerpted directly from the personal notes of Mage Taev Callahan, Indigo of The Great Circle and the continent's foremost arcane botanist. (The reader is gently reminded that all opinions are Mage Callahan's and not the transcriber's.)

Findore

Findore (three syllables, no matter what that halfwit Forest reads aloud) is the primary staple of the Ryuven and as far as I can make out, has been for several hundred years. It's difficult to be certain, given their difference in generations and in an entirely different world, but the seasons seem to be a near enough match to safely assume. (An oddly near match, in fact, but to dwell on that is to begin to sound like Mage Ewan Hazelrig and I have more important work—especially now that Hazelrig has yoked me with sorting out a botanical disease in a world I can't visit.)   No one can tell me exactly when the blight on findore began, for the usual reasons; in the beginning, the effects were too small to notice, easily explained away, or even, if noticed, safely ignored. Warning signs, no matter how foreboding, can rarely be heard over current success and profit. I suspect the infection could have been contained in the beginning, with proper attention and prompt action, but I suppose we'll never know. (Never listen to the botanists, no, it isn't as if all of society depends upon their area of expertise, of course not, or as if both famine and war could have been prevented by a little diligent heed to those first low yields.)   Regardless, the blight eventually began to spread, destroying harvests to varying and greater degree. Ryuven growers attempted to fight it by burning the affected fields, but given what I have discovered, this in fact helped to accelerate the dissemination of the spores. Overreliance on the findore monoculture meant that this accelerating crop collapse was devastating. Ryuven clans fought first with each other for dwindling resources, and then they turned to richer harvests, across the between-worlds to our own kingdom of Chrenada.   As loath as I am to admit that Mage Hazelrig (the elder) has been right all these years, there was a way to slow the war. The Ryuven raided also for wealth and for prestige, but fundamentally they raided for foodstuffs; one cannot eat prestige. The Ryuven liaison Tamaryl'sho has explained that the ongoing raids unsettled their social structures as well, granting more opportunities to lower-ranking che who took greater risks to bring greater spoils and threatening the sho in their elite status. (I'm sure there's more as well, but that's again more Mage Hazelrig's field than mine, and I tolerate enough politics in my work already.)   I have to credit Mage Hazelrig (the younger) for her...well, bravery, she's earned the word, in obtaining the dall sweetbud.

Dall Sweetbud

This is a very useful herb—native to our own world, of course, but gathered in recent generations to near extinction. Mage Ariana Hazelrig's foresight in bringing her Ryuven medicine to me allowed for its identification in the Ryuven world as well, and she had the wit to realize it could be the start of trade. I helped to quietly create a more urgent demand for a plague-treating herb, not that I'll ever hear any thanks for swaying a market so quickly, and a nascent exchange has begun.   It will not last, and it will not be enough; other trade must be found, and another solution for the Ryuven famine. They cannot survive forever on what they purchase from our world. But it is an opening, at least.  

Precautions

While the obvious danger seems to have slipped the minds of most of those gripped by the gleeful prospect of forging a trade alliance with our generational enemies, I at least am not a complete idiot, and I have insisted upon a set of precautions to protect ourselves. In particular, all dall sweetbud (which the Ryuven call samur) is to be thoroughly dried before it is brought across the between-worlds and to our markets. I have impressed upon the guards of these designated trading sites that a single batch of half-cured herb could carry the fungus into our fields, devastating our lands as thoroughly as it has theirs. I don't know if they fully understand the danger, but they understand an angry mage of the Circle, and that will do.  
rice-2656184_1280.jpg
These are healthy ears of findore, hard to find these days.  

Recovery

I have done what Mage E. Hazelrig has asked of me; I have trained Ryuven students in the rudiments of botanical research and, through my novice students, done my best to observe the cause of this famine and its resulting conflict. Travel to the subject of my studies is of course impossible; Mage A. Hazelrig is still the only human mage to survive the Ryuven atmosphere and herself only barely, in a drugged state and in no condition to conduct meaningful study. Yet I have made some progress. I believe the blight spreads before it is visible to the eye, so that Ryuven attempts to purge afflicted plants are both too late and potentially more harmful, spreading spores on the hot wind to infect other fields.   As the blight seems to affect findore almost exclusively, their monoculture is both blessing and curse. The obvious solution is also the most difficult: To burn out all their planted fields, destroying the fungus before it can spread, and begin a healthier crop after a complete purge.   But convincing a starving population, already rioting at their state-guarded storehouses, that they should deliberately destroy the few green fields they have, and on the advice of of their ancestral prey—that may be a battle equal to any we have fought with blades and magic.
ear-of-rice-1353609_1280.jpg
Here you can see the ears of findore just beginning to ripen.

Findore

This cereal crop reaches approximately a bow-draw in height, growing in a broad, flat fan from the ground, with fifteen to thirty individual flat stems, each bearing one to five leaves and, in harvest, an ear of approximately 150 grains.   Findore requires particular growing conditions (see brief outline below and more extensive documentation in notebook D:12), but its yield is so generous—one bushel of seed will bring 250 in return—that I can see the foolish temptation to grow it nearly exclusively. This led to the development of most agriculture to support the particular needs of a single crop. Findore's anticipated high yield, combined with the investment required to adapt the findore fields to another crop, meant that Ryuven growers resisted change for as long as possible and then had little margin for error when at last they planted buckwheat, millet, or wheat (all of which they have in varieties which appear cousins to ours, though reportedly with significantly lower yields).    

Dall Sweetbud

This herb grows low to the ground with occasional taller sprigs. Its leaves bear three lobes, pointed and close together. At a casual glance or to the untrained eye, it resembles the relatively useless culinary herb logorinum. It is difficult to cultivate, and wild plots were often gathered too aggressively, leading to its scarcity today.   It is useful to treat nausea, diarrhea, and fever, making it an ideal medicinal good in trade.  

Ryuven Cultivation of Findore

Spring

The seeds are soaked in hot water to wake them and wash away any diseases. (I am yet uncertain if the blight spores survive this process or if they infect after planting. More research is needed.) Seeds remain in the water, kept warm, until they germinate, at which point they are ready to plant. They are placed, a hand's-breadth apart, in sodden fields and immediately flooded. The water (added each morning) holds the sun's warmth into the night, insulating the seedlings from varied temperatures. This permits earlier planting and a longer growing season. (Clever enough, if they weren't growing a blight.)   For the first two weeks, the water must be kept at a hand's-depth, to slow weeds, and then reduced to a finger's-depth, to permit more air to the seedlings' roots.

Summer

Now the field must be closely monitored, and the water level adjusted as often as daily. Deeper water is more effective for weed control and for encouraging off-shooting or the development of additional stems (and eventually heads of grain), while shallower water supports a more robust seedling and reduces insect predation.   Once the plants have taken firm root and are above ankle height, water can be lowered to permit more active soil. At this time, the distinctive fan shape should be visible and the beginnings of ears can be seen on the individual shoots. This is also when the first visible signs of blight may be observed, though my current opinion is that it sets in earlier.   After another month, the water level is raised again, kept at a hands-breadth deep. Enrichment may be added at this time, such as chopped straw from previous harvests, or fowl waste and fish bones when they had these. It is important to add water in the evening at this time, so that it does not heat too much in the sun and burn the plants.

Harvest

Three weeks after fertilization, one should see ears of grain growing well.   When the ears and leaves are golden, in another three weeks' time, it is time for harvest. The findore is spread in the sun for drying and then threshed, with straw and chaff reserved for next year's field.

Comments

Author's Notes

Many thanks to Takuya Ugajin for his useful information on organic rice farming in Japan, from which findore's agricultural practices were loosely adapted.   Images courtesy Pixabay, free for commercial use without attribution, Wikimedia photographer Jie-Hao Ou, and Flickr photographer Giles Watson, used under CC license.


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14 Mar, 2021 15:27

I really liked that this was written from the mage's perspective! It made the article a fun read, especially the parts between brackets. It also seems that you have really put some thought in the cultivation and the impact of this crop. Nice article!

Feel free to check out My Ship entry if you want to see what I am up to!
Sage LauraVAB
Laura VanArendonk Baugh
14 Mar, 2021 15:34

Thank you so much!

Sage Rynn19
Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)
24 Mar, 2021 18:26

This article does not have the amount of likes it should have. Very well written, and I agree, I too like that it was written from the mage's perspective.

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
Sage LauraVAB
Laura VanArendonk Baugh
26 Mar, 2021 19:56

Thank you so much! :D

24 Mar, 2021 19:27

I love how you've impressed the desperation of the blight-caused famine through an in-world narrator. So many similar examples in history! I am reminded in particular of the ergot blights in Europe and the early Americas, which may have led to mass hysterias as well as famine (since ergot is hallucinogenic as well as toxic.)   I think this article could benefit from a bit more art, which might win it the likes it deserves. Have you tried finding a public domain picture of ergot blighting rye? It seems to match the description of your blight somewhat, although your blight is worse, so I would "sell" the picture to the reader as ears of grain in early stages of infection. I found one on Wikipedia and one at the University of Hawaii (you'd have to take some labelling text out of the latter) with a Google image search, if that helps and if you think it would be suitable.   Anyway, this is a complex issue dealt with in relatively few words, and that's great! Excellent article! And PS - thanks for showing me you can use the same article for a prompt AND a challenge; I didn't know we could do that!

Author of the Wyrd West Chronicles and the Toy Soldier Saga Eater of pickles, Friend of nerds, First of her name
Sage LauraVAB
Laura VanArendonk Baugh
26 Mar, 2021 19:57

Thank you for the art suggestion! I will look. (I'm pretty terrible at art, in general.)

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
2 Apr, 2021 21:07

Amazing article! Great plant and great writing :D I really love this and the whole tone you use with the mage!   Here are the notes I took while reading:   "(The reader is gently reminded that all opinions are Mage Callahan's and not the transcriber's.)" I love when people do that!   "three syllables, no matter what that halfwit Forest reads aloud" lol   Small suggestions: I find mouse hover snippets for articles useful since I don't like clicking on other articles when I'm in the middle of reading one.   " I have more important work, especially now that Hazelrig has yoked me with sorting out a botanical disease in a world I can't visit.)" I really like this guy XD   Love the rant about warning signs being ignored.   "As loath as I am to admit that Mage Hazelrig (the elder) has been right all these years," I feel for him XD   " foodstuffs" that word sounds very informal to me. The tone of the article is not formal, but that word still stood out. Would maybe something like "food resources" work better?   I would like tooltips on "che" and "sho" even f I can infer their meaning from the context, to get more info.   " I tolerate enough politics in my work already.)" XD   " but gathered to rarity in recent generations" this formulation doesn't work. I think you mean "brought to scarcity by excess harvesting".   " I helped to quietly create a more urgent demand for a plague-treating herb," I don't think that's what you mean here, but the way I read this sentence "quietly help create a more urgent demand" means that he has started/helped spread a plague XD   " I don't know if they fully understand the danger, but they understand an angry mage of the Circle, and that will do."   I really like how you build the conflict and the invasion around that plant and fungus.   I like your explanation of how they cultivate the findore with water and the level of details you're giving.   I don't think you've said it explicitly, but the fungus makes it so the findore doesn't produce grains and so is useless for finding people, right?   My first thought is that this fungus needs water. Have they tried to grow the plant without covering it in water? Is it even possible? In fact, if you want to add something, you could add a section on what else they have tried to get read of the fungus apart from the fire.   " The following is for clarity excerpted directly from" I'm not sure about the way you formulated that here. Would this work: "The following is an excerpt from … that has only been slightly edited for clarity." ? Because the way you say it, clarity and excerpted works weirdly together and I don't get the same meaning out of it.   And also, I like illustrations you have of the plant with and without the fungus. They're great for visualisation and really help the plant description.

Sage LauraVAB
Laura VanArendonk Baugh
5 Apr, 2021 20:53

Thank you so much for such a lovely, detailed comment!   You found a couple of things that got missed or had a word drop in editing, so I'll get on those, thank you. "Foodstuffs" is actually an older word that just happens to sound like modern Tumblr slang! but if it's disruptive, I can change it. And I'll look at tooltips, thank you.   >> ...but the way I read this sentence "quietly help create a more urgent demand" means that he has started/helped spread a plague XD <<   Um, yeah. He did. In my defense, that wasn't a current conspiracy theory when that book was published in late 2019. /quiet sob/

11 Apr, 2021 11:17

Right off the bat, you've got me hooked - the first sentence, making fun of Forest, gives the article a wonderful sense of personality. The reminder that the transcriber is innocent adds to it. It is a great start and a great voice for the article.     Some thoughts and feedbacks!     'It's difficult to be certain of time'     This sentence is a little vague - I get what you are trying to say, but it feels like something is missing. 'Difficult to be certain of the exact time' or something, perhaps?     The sentence is also a little long at 35 words, with a lot of ideas it is trying to communicate - the timespan is difficult to determine, there's a difference in generations, they live in a different world, but seasons are the same. I might consider a way to cleave the sentence in two. :)     'An oddly near match, in fact, but to dwell on that is to begin to sound like Mage Ewan Hazelrig and I have more important work, especially now that Hazelrig has yoked me with sorting out a botanical disease in a world I can't visit'     This is also a bit long, and a few bits and bobs you could tweak. I would consider splitting it in half again and give each part more space to breath.     'And I have more important work' feels like it is missing a word; 'and I have more important work to attend', or something would make the sentence feel a little more complete? But they might be preference, so take that with a grain of salt.     'Warning signs, no matter how foreboding, can rarely be heard over current success and profit.'     Yeeeeeeeeeeeeep. Got to give it to Callahan; when they are right, they are right...     'Regardless, the blight eventually began to spread, destroying harvests to greater degrees'     'degree' feel like an odd word here, compared to something like 'with greater frequency/regularity' or something like that.     Interesting that burning spread the spores - fire tends to be a regular go-to solution huh? :D     'one cannot eat prestige'     This is a fantastic line. I love it.     ' helped to quietly create a more urgent demand for a plague-treating herb, not that I'll ever hear any thanks for swaying a market so quickly, and a nascent exchange has begun.'     ..Did he start a plague?     'While the obvious danger seems to have slipped the minds of most gripped'     I'm not entirely sure what this part means 'slipped the minds of most gripped'? It's hard to determine who the gripped are without some qualifier.     'Travel to the subject of my studies is of course impossible, as Mage A. Hazelrig is still the only human mage to survive the Ryuven atmosphere and herself only barely, in a drugged state and in no condition to conduct meaningful study'     This sentence is also a bit long at 42 words. Also, this Ryuven place sounds none too hospitable :)     'But convincing a starving population, already suffering riots at their state-guarded storehouses, that they should deliberately destroy the few green fields they have, and on the advice of of their ancestral opponents—that may be a battle equal to any we have fought with blades and magic.'     Another long sentence, with another great line there: 'on the advice of their ancestral opponents' is fantastic. I would consider changing 'opponent' to enemies or foes though; something angerier.     Great article, great work - I really enjoyed the voice you've imbued it with, and some of these snipped from Callahan are just wonderful. :)

Sage LauraVAB
Laura VanArendonk Baugh
12 Apr, 2021 14:28

Thank you for your detailed comment! Yes, Taev Callahan runs a bit wordy :) but I can break up a couple of these sentences you point out.   >> ..Did he start a plague? <<   He did start a plague for political reasons. In my defense, that wasn't a big conspiracy theory when that book dropped in 2019. ::cry:: But we'll sort it out.   Thanks so much for your feedback!

13 Apr, 2021 19:44

Yikes, that sounds like a real tough challenge. G'luck, mage! And yup, that's why you don't want a monocrop. o_O That's why we already almost lost all bananas once and now are losing them again.

Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young
Sage LauraVAB
Laura VanArendonk Baugh
16 Apr, 2021 01:19

Or our handful of American varieties of potato, ignoring the thousands we know. Or apples. Or laying hens. Or....   Thank you for reading!

23 Jun, 2021 13:24

Wait... is Findore not two syllables?

Sage LauraVAB
Laura VanArendonk Baugh
24 Jun, 2021 06:03

All the vowels are vocalized! But English-speakers may assume otherwise, and Taev will take any chance to mock a colleague. ;)