|Official Name||Black Grass|
|Common Name||Black Grass|
Black Grass is a lesser danger of the Ularen Wastes, taking victims by surprise with its inconspicuous look rather than brute strength. The grass has a glossy appearance and dark coloration which hide its fiery nature, as it is an excellent fire starter. However, it is also healthy for the various herbivores that live within the Wastes, which have been eating it for centuries. Today, the Avanthar make use of both of these properties, as do the Cielothar, though to a lesser extent.
Black Grass has a long history within the Ularen Wastes and is likely one of the first growths to appear in its ecosystem. Early into the Elven Empire’s existence, they sought to study the Wastes and in doing so, came across an unusual phenomenon. Numerous wildfires began to reoccur in several areas. However, little evidence was found since the widespread flames had engulfed everything. Early documentation of the scorched areas only reported “rapid replenishment of small patches of grass” with no more suspicion cast upon it. Later studies were conducted but drew no decisive conclusion beyond the Ularen Wastes suffering from an unusually high frequency of wildfires, disregarding the rate as a statistical outlier and more coincidental than scientific. Eventually, the cause of the fires was blamed on Fireweed, and this grass was ignored. However, that was a mistake.
In the years following the Cataclysm several centuries later, the Avanthar and Cielothar inhabited the vast Wastes. A group of Cielothar known as the N’nollëtteo interacted with the only recently developed race and through this union, came across a surprising discovery. As the flammable properties were unknown until that point (roughly 80 AC), the Avanthar would soon learn the grass was a quick firestarter when they lacked dried animal dung or brush. Instead of smoking and smoldering a while, as normal grass would if exposed to embers, the Black Grass used seemed to ignite immediately. The Cielothar community then helped to press this knowledge onto the outside world. The current name of Black Grass arose by mistake, since the original notes had to be translated from Modern Elven to Common. “Dark” was mistakenly translated as “black” and was not questioned further; most people just assumed the Ularen Wastes so wild and savage that it could contain grass which was black as the night sky. Today, the plant finds common use by the Avanthar and to a lesser extent the Cielothar as both a firestarter and a lush plant for their animals to graze on. The recent chaos in the Wastes, caused by the collapse of Avanthar unity, has significantly increased the number of Black Grass fires. Though this may just be a blessing in disguise, as their natural oils and burning nature feed the earth, such disturbances are likely to spawn even more of the deep green grass.
Black Grass, despite its name, is not black. The grass is a dark green color but is difficult to distinguish due to its somewhat glossy coating which can catch the light and make the patch appear brighter. When compared side-by-side with ordinary grasses, however, more distinctions can be made. As Black Grass grows longer, it tends to limp to the sides quicker than other grasses. Instead of blades of grass standing tall, patches of Black Grass lay atop and below one another in an unorganized tangle which some scholars believe is intended to catch embers or flames better, but that is pure speculation. The average length of a blade of Black Grass is slightly above average, oriented around five inches. Beneath the soil and protected from any flames, Black Grass roots sprout from a bud, which can rapidly regrow any blades that burn up in a matter of a few days. It is believed the purpose of the bud is to survive the flames from above which would get rid of other types of plants, trees, or saplings, and leave only the sprouts of Black Grass to emerge a few days later without competition remaining.
Uses and Abilities
Black Grass is most commonly used as kindling. Fresh blades of Black Grass will ignite quickly when exposed to embers or flames, but if dried it will be no better than other dried grasses. Its flammable capabilities are due to a natural oil from inside the grass, and if dried the solid mass does not ignite as easily or as quickly. Some attempts have been made to extract the oil from the plant, with successful results, but the amount drawn from the grass requires enormous amounts of Black Grass to be painstakingly collected, and their oil extracted. The second use is to feed grazing animals. Avanthar have, for the last three hundred years, fed their Casecabillas Stallions Black Grass and the dozen other varieties of similar plantlife in the Wastes. While also being useful for fires, the large patches it grows in and the larger than usual size makes it easier to feed their large stallions.
- Disbelieving in its ability to ignite so swiftly, one scholar flicked some embers into a patch of Black Grass when in the Ularen Wastes. After the Avanthar guides controlled the resulting inferno, the rest of the day was spent mocking the scholar for “screaming like a little girl” when the fire started.
- Black Grass not only regrows after fires, it thrives. Any other types of plants, insects, or animals who die in the fires fertilize the ground it will regrow on.