J is for Jar-weed and Jay…

Jar-weed: mildly stimulant herb cultivated in the Four Canopies both for medicinal and recreational purposes. It is usually smoked, though some tribes in the North Canopy are reported to boil and reduce it to a gum which is then chewed. Side-effects with long-term use include lung or gum disease and various other ailments.

Jay: a travelling actor or entertainer, outcast from settled Argosian society. Jays often live in extended family groups with a strong sense of internal identity. They travel the Central Canopy in dirigible convoys and generally convene once a year in Argos city during the Tree festival, when rules of Impurity are relaxed. They specialise in dances involving episodes from Argosian myth, and have a strong oral tradition.

A figure in white had appeared on the Jays’ moving tower and passed through the wheel of arms to reach the top of the Tree. Tymon recognized Jocaste. Dressed in her feathered cloak she was the graceful bird on the summit of creation. She moved in the opposite direction to the rest of the dancers, jumping nimbly from one acrobat’s shoulders to the next without concern for the space beneath her feet. All at once she raised her arms and dropped through the hollow centre of the Tree. She was caught by her colleagues just before she hit the floor; the audience burst into applause. The Jays slipped with pliant ease off each other’s shoulders, alighting in the sawdust ring to deafening cheers.

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