The Kogish Trees and Flamesilk
Native to the Joreta region, a Kogish tree is a special breed of trees that grows in clusters and erupts in flames whenever the sun reaches its daily zenith, all the way until sunset. Such flames do not char the Kogish trees themselves but rather consume all the plant lives that grow around the Kogish trees. It appears that this is the method that Kogish trees use to propagate themselves as new Kogish trees often take the places occupied previously by other plants within the perimeter of fires erupting off Kogish trees. The flames erupting from Kogish trees cannot be quenched by normal water. Only water from the local Jtatk River will do the trick.
In appearance, a Kogish tree resembles a mahogany tree. However, its bark is bright red, the colour of flames. From afar, a cluster of Kogish trees might look like a bushfire currently ravaging a forest even when the trees are not themselves burning.
A Kogish tree produces a sap that is amber red in colour. This sap oozes out from the sides of a tree trunk, along low-hanging brunches and often collects into a form much akin to a single silk strand that hangs off the end of such brunches. Locals collect such strands and weave them into a material known as Flamesilk around the world.
~ Excerpt from the Encyclopedia of Plants, Animals and Social Customs
At first, humans who reside in this region, known as the Yklars, had no use for the Kogish trees. In fact, the original society of Yklars* is one formed from nomadic tribes, who roam the Joreta steppes in continuous flight from the encroachment of the Kogish trees. This changed when they come upon the Jtatk river and found that the the self-combusting flames from the Kogish trees can be put out by water from this river. As a result of this discovery, the tribes settled down along the banks of the Jtatk River and more or less co-existed with the Kogish tree clusters, though they still have to devote substantial resources to control the expansion of these trees.
*These Yklars had no knowledge of crafts and so could not cut down the Kogish trees. They also had little weaving skills and certainly had never come in contact with any kind of fabric material, much less silk.
Then a refugee family fleeing the Dragon Empire came to the Joreta steppes and lived quite close to one of the many Yklar tribes, the Uratus. At first this family lived much in separation with the Uratus even though they did not fear their neighbours too much. It was this family that first made use of the Kogish trees in the form of *firewood and the womenfolk in the family wove the sap strands into the original version of Flamesilk, from which the familys summer clothes are made out of.
*Kogish trees as firewood doesn’t self combust and behaves much like normal firewood
One day, the youngest children, a pair of fraternal twins of different gender, from this family were playing in the kitchen and the boy was too close to the stove and his sleeve went in except it didn’t catch on fire. That’s how the fire resistant properties of the Flamesilk was first discovered. This led to a second use for Flamesilk- the creation of fire dampening cloths that the family kept around the kitchen.
As time goes by, this family started to interact more with their neighbours and got adopted into the Uratu tribe. In this way, knowledge of weaving and crafting tools spread to the Yklars as the Uratu men and women learnt from this family. This started the production of Flamesilk en masse as the nomads started to wear silken gowns in summer in replacement of animal skins, their traditional garment*. This is because the Joreta weather is generally quite warm in all seasons. In this way, the Kogish tress became as much a necessity in the Yklar society as they were once a menace.
*In winter, the Yklars now wear clothes woven from hemp, another innovation brought in by the refugee family from the Dragon Empire.
And yet, there is a further twist to the story. Later, a particular curious-minded Yklar child, by the name of Taruksha, found that if he gently rubbing Flamesilk against each other, he could produce a tiny flame. This flame is in fact quite a pretty sight as it seems to be floating on top of the fabric. Very rapidly, this became a favourite toy of Yklar children, while Yklar adults remained ignorant of this fact (as the children tended to play with flamesilk only when there were no adults around). It wasnt until that an entire hut got burned down as a result of a particular child playing with scraps of Flamesilk in his mothers sewning basket and rubbing them together too hard that this became generally known. Luckily, no casualties resulted from that accident. Nevertheless, the Yklar tribes came together to discuss the implications of this discovery. At the end of the meeting, two new ideas concerning the use of Flamesilk were brought up: one on the weaving of an improved version of the fabric by interspersing each strand of Flamesilk with a hemp strand for use in clothing and the other concerning its use as a torch to light the way at night.
Flamesilk smothers fire, came about due to constant washing in the Jtatk river, whose water is the only form of water able to rouse the fire of the Kogish trees. As a result, the fabric has taken on the property of these waters. For the original version of Flamesilk, however, a flame is also created if flamesilk come into contact with each other. The actual size and strength of the flame created this way depends on the force of contact i.e. a light brush versus intentional rubbing of Flamesilk with vigour. When this property is discovered, however, it led to the creation of a improved version that does not have this dangerous effect.
The Yklars built fences made up of a single bolt of this form of improved Flamesilk around their towns to protect them from the effects of bushfires caused by the presence of the Kogish trees. In addition, all the original Flamesilk cloths that every family kept around in case of fires were replaced with cloths made of the improved Flamesilk. The original version of Flamesilk, however, is still in use as adults utilise what become to be known as a Taruksha flame in the lighting of pathways when travelling at night.
Note: The post is inspired by a section in a Chinese novel written in the Qing era (the one associated with the reign of the Manchurians) titled Flowers in the Mirror, telling briefly of a type of tree that combusts on contact and which bark was weaved into bolts of cloths resembling cotton.
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? Responses (28)
Updated: My longest sub so far. Had a few issues with it based on logic and nearly got stuck. But now I think all loose ends should be tied. But welcome to point any out if someone spots it.
Very good, Moonlake. I like the detail you've put into the discovery of the fabric. The Kogish trees are fascinating in themselves as well. I don't see any logical flaws.
Unique, useful. and would fit into any fantasy world. 5/5
Very well done indeed!
I can't say enough good things about this post, but I will try.
First the tree is wonderful contraption for sci-fi setting as well as fantasy. It is widely believed that early man (Homo Erectus) didn't make the earilest controlled fires, but rather maintained and manipulated it. At at the very least it is believed that fire based industries such as cooking developed before fire building technologies. In order to develop fire dependent industries and cultural behaviors homo erectus and/or early man would have to have obtained fire from some natural occurance such as a lightening strike or a small geological event. These trees would be of limitless use to early human-like cultures. Furthermore the idea that a tree burns as a way of controlling competeing plants is also a wonderful idea, and while we haven't seen it in evolution, I think any a species that could evolve it would be extremely successful. Polynation might be a problem, so perhaps the tree would only do this part of the year or not depend on animal born sex. Anyway the fact that we can talk about these options makes it a wonderful item.
Second the silk, also a wonderful item for gamers. One of the problem with a fantasy setting in which almost everything is flamable and every other spell causes things to go up in flames is that it is impossible to get sense of security. I am sure in a european style setting this material would be the preferred book binding material.
One question when start a flame on flame silk does the silk run out of fuel eventually?
Wow, thanks for the positive feedback, guys. I really wasn't expecting such a high rating as I seem to be running out of steam on this sub half way due to logic issues but somehow everything resolved itself in the final write up.
On axle's question on fuel, I didn't specifically think abt this issue when I wrote the sub but now that it's brought up, I think my take on this issue is that a flame started with flamesilk does run out of fuel eventually. However, I think how long the flame lasts also depends on the force of contact. So if 2 pieces of flamesilk just brush each other accidentally and the it's a very light brush, then maybe it will just be a single spark of flame that will go out instantly. For the Taruksha flame, it might last 15-30 minutes. If a flame is started by a malicious arsonist who rubs flamesilk really hard, then the flame might catch onto other flammable stuff and spread but then it would also just behave like a normal fire. Hope that answers the question.
Not bad - it is an interesting material. There are a few run-on sentences that need a little work, but otherwise a solid post!
I second Val, a solid submission.
I love this, forgot to vote, and as Dozus said, the Kogish trees are fascinating!
Could a ring of Kogish Trees planted far enough away from a town act as a flaming city wall?
Hmmm... nice imagery but not sure if the Kogish trees as I've described them can be planted (why does this type of tree want to propogate itself by self-combusting if it has seeds that can be planted like conventional trees? but then this is fantasy so I guess it's possible but from a logical or "pedantic author" pt of view, it doesn't seem to fit) But assuming that they can be, then it's possible to plant them in a ring to act as an outer city wall that will deter any invasion during the periods during which the Kogish trees burn but: 1) this city wall will be useless in early morning and after sundown; 2) one has to have a second outer wall made of the improved flamesilk to make sure the Kogish trees only expand outwards from the town. But then eventually this will make the town increasing inaccessible to the outside. This might be a great idea if the townspeople want to build a hermit society for whatever reasons but if it's a normal town and they need trade, then it's probably a bad idea.
A nice tangent thought you had there though despite some of the less than positive comments I made here. :)
"one has to have a second outer wall made of the improved flamesilk to make sure the Kogish trees only expand outwards from the town."
You are like a flamesilk salesman.
But is said in intro that combustion was perhaps the means by which the reproduced, that doesn't exclude the possiblity of seeds.
If however they reproduce without seeds, are all Kogosh tree's clones?
Flamesilk salesman? well, that wasn't the intention but it's what Cheka's idea makes me think of but you are right, it does appear that way hahaha
When you say combustion doesn't exclude the possibility of seeds, you are right again. What I was thinking of in my previous post is that conventional plants reproduce via one method only (ok, I have limited biology knowledge but it seems that way to me) and that if the Kogish trees really exist in our world, why would it have 2 mehtods of reproducing unlike all other plants? that's why I thought at that time that maybe the idea doesn't fit that well. But maybe it does fit after all.
On reproduction without seeds, I would personally make it so that they reproduce by some alternative method other than seeding. The only plausible thing that I can think of off the top of my head at the moment is that rather than seeds, maybe it sheds a bit of its bark in powdery form that might spread to the neighbouring area and this powdery substance acts as seeds in the case of the Kogish trees.
Well some plants spread by budding, but certain trees (many pines for example) excrete a poison into the soil around them that kills other plants. There seeds can then take root in this soil without out competition from other plants. Thus burning the surrounding the trees would be similar approach and would have a benefit the offspring of the trees. Indeed forest fires can often have a positive effect on the propagation of some species such as pines. Pine cones are fairly resistance to damage from forest fires and indeed when caught in a fire they explode spreading seeds. The seeds have also been pushed toward germination by the heat. Forest fires are a regular enough occurence in nature that some trees have evolved to exploit them.
But if the tree reproduces like you say, asexually then wouldn't all Kogish trees be identical (or almost identical)?
Again a great post.
Interesting info on the pines and forest fires.
On your question, I think the answer would be yes.
Yup a waste of education.
Nicely done. I like the weaving of details. It is clear and simple. I do like all the implied info about the people of the Dragon Empire
I would like a Kogish Trees submission or stub (it is practically written).
One thought is that fire retardant clothing tends to be heat resistant. Heat resistant clothing makes awful summer clothing as they are reflective of body heat and turns it on the body. (Just talk to a ranger or a firefighter). Now they would make wonderful winter clothing.
I know, flame repellant and heat resitant reflective are two seperate properties. However, if something blocks the flame (plasma) but not the heat (radiation) you still under the material.
Now if the silk was HEAT ABSORBING or heat absorbing to a given threshold (like 75 degress or something). That eliminates all the issues. It keeps people cool in the summer. It makes it heat resistant. You add flame retardant and you have a winner.
I love good speculative ecology...
still a great post.
Wow, thanks guys for voting this a Golden sub! Personally, I wasn't expecting the honour. Also, a big thank you to all those who left comments and liked this particular sub, particularly axle who had such interesting discussions with me over the Kogish trees.
Great idea! Love the way the details come out and the trees are awesome. Found myself with very few questions and the history of discovery brought it all together.
Vote Updated after re reading.
An impressive entry, very complete and a useful addition to fantasy worlds history (especially for oriental games)
It's hard to say anything that hasn't already been echoed by others, except that this is one of my favorite subs, and I really wish I'd found it earlier :)
The story gave it a bit extra flair beyond the interesting material. Not sure why it's got such a huge hype, but that's why we each have our own votes, ne?
I know what you mean, there have been posts I've read and thought....I think I get the idea, but there is just a lack of...playable content, detail, logic or what have you. Come back a couple of months later and its golden. So I have to start to wonder what it is I am not getting.
Awesome. The idea is cool and interesting all by itself, but then the presentation reads like something out of an old folk tale. This will be another idea I steal and change a few names to work into my Everway game.
(The banner link led me here, BTW. Those are a great idea for letting newer people like myself find some of the golden bits.)