Friday, 21 December 2007

"Zombies, sir! Thousands of 'em!"

I've posted some slightly more ... restrained ... thoughts on Lunar duck auxiliaries here, but this clean-limbed son of the Red Goddess made an appearance in the 2004 Continuum conbook, Magnus Liber Rerum. As an officer in the Imperial Durulz Constabulary (Duke Euglyptus' Own Marsh Wardens) he keeps the peace. Irrespective of whether he's mounted on his (Masonic sorcery-wielding) giant beaver or not.

No Man Can Touch Her Naked Steel

Okay, so that's a Barbarian Queen tagline, but it'll do for Red Crest here. For some reason, all female ducks seem to morph into Brigitte Nielsen at some point in their composition. At least that was quite appropriate for this piccy, drawn for John Hughes' incomparable Beak No Evil/Bad 'Boon Rising scenario back in 2003.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

The picture that started it all...

This is the first image I ever drew of a duck, back in the Spring/Summer of 2003. I'd moved back to Bolton from Bristol, was supposed to be writing my thesis up, and getting into Glorantha in a big way for the first time. I'd not really drawn much since leaving school, and the composition is somewhat static, but I did like how it came out. It was a bit of a fluke in some ways, as many attempts since then have been less successful.

The big influence for this picture (though obviously not in terms of panoply) was Ralph Horsley's lovely illustration on page 101 of Wyrms Footprints. Ducks 101 indeed! Obviously, everyone's ducks will vary, but I really liked how Ralph expressed the duck part of 'anthropomorphic ducks'. The short, thin bird's legs; the swollen belly and rump; the large head; the exaggerated (relative to humans) proportions. I like my ducks to waddle just a little, after all!

My own sketches are slightly more anthropomorphic than Ralph's (as much by accident as design, at times), but that picture will always define ducks for me.

Raymondo Montequackoli

On a slightly less serious note (see, this is my problem: no bugger can tell the difference), here is the narrative of Raymondo Montequackoli ("War is an extension of Myth through military means." Yes, I know that wasn't Montecuccoli's). Created, sadly, when I was reading far too much early modern military theory. Nevermind. Though I did have fun naming the gaggle of Gloranthan theoreticians he crossed swords with: Friedarkos Billow, Henri the Lewd, Jorganos Bear-in-harst, Hendrengard Shornhorse, Karos Closedwits, Alebush Leafhelm, Enki Show-My-Knee and Bereneb Woadlee, among others. See how many you can get (some you have to say quite quickly...).

Raymondo Montequackoli moved from the Quinpolic League to Esrolia when he was a duckling. He was soon thrust into war, becoming a distinguished captain in the Esrolian cavalry, if largely unable to read maps. At Bulding Wall he saved the life of young Queen Irminga, gaining her patronage (and more, some whisper…). Badly wounded at that battle, he turned to military scholarship and the teachings of Bardan. He is now Learned Disputator in the Operational Application of Myth in Theory and Practice at the University of Nochet, and noted for his rivalry with other academics and his sideline as a bon vivant. By turns raucously jesting and choleric, he keeps trim with his early morning constitutional.

Actually, I've somewhat rescued Montequackoli. (Well, attempted to at any rate. Caveat editor...) Rather than the above, I rendered him the literary creation of an NPC I wrote-up for Martin Hawley, in Pasos, who was

"... author of the supposedly autobiographical tales of Rymondos duMontequackoli, a half-beast knight of Rokar from the barbaric east. To their eager readership they are a witty satire upon Seshnelan Rokarism, and Guilmarn and Theoblanc in particular; to others they are a rambling collection of fatuous, weakly plotted adventures interspersed with lewd erotica."

Fingers crossed...

Lucius Ptarmiganus

Lucius Ptarmiganus was the second duck character I created for Hero Wars. (The first was Popoquackapetl the volcano-priest... probably best not to bring him up at the moment.) He was the first real output of my fascination with the potential of Lunar ducks. Here's his HeroQuest narrative:

Lucius the Heortling durulz was brutally teased as a duckling for his clubflipper and stammer. Excluded from pondgames, he took lonely walks through the Upland Marsh, dreaming of winning battles, approval and glory. Seeking inclusion, he did not flee when the Moon Warriors came, but embraced the Lunar Way. He fell head-over-flippers in love with JarEel the Razoress, who innocently gifted the besotted Sedenyite a lock of her hair. A devotee of Yanafal Tarnils, Lucius’ thoughts on marshland operations and tactics proved quite profound, leading to a commission in the Blue Dragoons, and his loyal Pelandan squad are quick to defend their officer from anatidaephobic comrades.

Poor sod.

Yanafowl Tarnbill

Though my own thoughts on ducks have been pretty light-hearted at times, I've usually tried to avoid some of the more common jokes in the community. Not necessarily because I don't like them--I do, and think they have their own fun place--but because I wanted to try something a little different. This following cult write-up of Yanafowl Tarnbill, therefore, marks something of an homage to John Castellucci and "What the Beak Quacks."

Yanafowl Tarnbill
“Warbler and Warrior”

Yanafowl Tarnbill was a durulz, a Hueymakti commander of the D­ucks And legion who traveled with his comrades to the far north and there performed a great ritual; one that reforged the shards of the Red Cosmic Egg, and cast it into the Sky in the Dehatching of Ruffled Zar. He fought his own god to gain divinity, and now resides within the Egg itself. For some utterly ludicrous reason (as also noted in the case of Hueymakt) humans persist in the notion of defining every major cosmic entity as one of their own kind (a foible to which the durulz are of course immune). The predominantly human congregation of the Red Cosmic Egg claimed that Yanafowl was from Yuthuppa, and sought to hide his durulz heritage in insinuated links to the bird-loving Rinliddi.

Yanafowl is war-god supreme of the durulz, greater even than Efrodar Blackflippers, though followed only by those dedicated to the gospels of the Red Cosmic Egg. In life, he was a master of the two greatest forms of warfare in the world: marshland operations and riverine barge fighting. As a god of unparalleled martial excellence, inextinguishable valor and unquestioned honor, worship of Yanafowl is naturally rare among the durulz. Nevertheless, The God That Defeated Hueymakt has no little kudos attached, and is seen as a refreshing alternative to the grim psychoses of the Deathdrakes by many nascent war-leaders and waghalters. Yanafowl’s followers are true heroes and dogged enemies of all Hueymakti bandits, splendidly marked by their large Eggshard scimitars, bronze panoply, crimson togas and scarlet-dyed war feathers.

Entry Requirements: Candidates must defeat a Hueymakti in single combat.

Abilities: Command River Barge, Egg Eye, Initiate or Devotee of Yanafowl Tarnbill, Marshland Fighting Tactics, Marshlore, Oratory, Riverine Tactics, Two-Handed Scimitar Fighting.

Virtues: Honorable, Militaristic, Valorous, Warmonger.

Affinities and Feats:
Marshland Myrmidon (Cunning Stratagem, Feigned Retreat, Perceive Enemy in Mist, Real Retreat, Silent Approach, Whistled Command)
River Reiver (Boarding Bound, Daring Dash, Engage the Enemy More Closely, Swim Silently)
Warbling Warlord (Feathers of Iron, Reinvigorating Yodel, Slicing Scimitar, Strike Aside Death, Warble of Command)

Secret: Defeat Death (if reduced to Dying in a contest, the Yanafowli may once only roll the rating of his secret against a passive resistance, and if successful return to the contest Unhurt, with 1 AP)

Other Side: Yanafowl Tarnbill serves Ruffled Zar in the Red Cosmic Egg, and loyal warriors join his glorious legions upon their passing from the Mortal World.

(Originally posted on HeroQuest-RPG, 9 July 2005.)

Confounding My Academic Nemesis

Those who have followed my travails will be aware of my continuing academic disagreements in the field of durulzology, with no lesser a personage than Mr Keith Nellist. His residence in the Antipodes, home in itself to all manner of strange explorations in the durulzological sciences, has only exacerbated this rift.

In a letter to the Editor of the Glorantha Digest, Friday 3 February 2006, Mr Nellist stated that he was "going to compare [Dr Stansfield's] Caladraland stone heads to an Erich von Daeniken-style Chariots of the Gods theory - in other words, one that I do not really believe."

Though I personally think a comparison to the wholly eminent research of Herr von Daeniken is not pejorative in any sense, this resulted in a strident response from myself, to wit:

"If you are implying, [Mr Nellist], that the fact that I alone have met, befriended and caroused with the hitherto unknown Caladran duck tribe, ignored of anatopology; that I alone have been trusted with their secrets, for they will meet with no others; and that I have no photographic or representative evidence to prove my claims whatsoever, other than a quick sketch which curiously includes the word 'concept'... somehow invalidates the empirical basis of my research, then I'm outraged."

Nevertheless, Mr Nellist had a point. My evidence was somewhat limited; my recollection hazy. Therefore I embarked upon a new expedition into the Caladran jungles, and was overjoyed to bring forth new, wholly irrefutable evidence for my claims. I ask, gentle reader, whether such penetrating insights could possibly be the product of a madman or a charlatan?

*That* Monograph

It has been asked, gentle reader, whether this correspondent might place at his public's perusal a certain monograph of his own humble authorship. Written two years ago, this particular piece of social inquiry is noted for its interest in the more prurient and narcotic elements of the Gloranthan experience, though written with the expertise of a true scholar and not some licentious popinjay. It had originally been intended for volumes that did not come to fruition; aghast, this correspondent had satisfied himself that his work would be for naught. By curious happenstance, however, a copy was placed before the benighted savages of the World of Glorantha. Though this correspondent does not believe that his current readership, anymore than the beings of WoG, is possessed of the necessary erudition to appreciate its merits, in whole or in part, he is nevertheless dutybound to accede to the whims of his public.

Therefore, he is honoured to present said monograph for public perusal.

The Cloacamite Conspiracy

The cloacamite is the durulz courtesan of the Empire, often a slave, though not exclusively so, and a prized possession of many a Rinliddi nest. Most cloacamites are juvenile durulz of either sex, though some are mere ducklings when inducted into the prized cloacamite academies of First Blessed, most notably in Ganbarri and Nenuvus.

The common cloacamite is no mere nest-warmer, but a considerably educated and socially adept durulz; a heady combination of sycophant, body-servant, companion, muse, valet and major-domo. This durulz frequently takes a major role in the running of any household, overseeing its master's clients and avilry with a dedicated eye.

Dressed in the finest togas of Kralori silk and perfumed with the flowered-waters of the Jords, the cloacamite is typically fluent in several languages (linguistic and erotic), and trained to achieve a melodious warble and sensuous grace in the tragi-comic durulz songs and dances beloved of Rinliddi nobility, whose bizarre mixture of introspective melancholy and hilarious pratfalls are unique in the lands of the Goddess.

Far from a simple object of fancy and pride, many cloacamites achieve considerable wealth and real political power through patronage and their own abilities. Their activities make them ideal spies and assassins, and the cloacamite is a prominent agent in the Dart Wars endemic to First Blessed and the Empire as a whole.

Cloacamites are despised by many in the Empire, and rumour-mongering of their malign influence on any prominent noble is common. Such rumours are occasionally true, as in the occasion a Rinliddi noble placed his favoured cloacamite, WaaOronish Irrumator, in command of the Diavizzi Guard, a regiment of the Garrison Army. Argenteus is himself believed to possess his own copulation of cloacamites (the correct collective noun), which he finds riotous company.

Abilities: Alluring Dance, Fine-Feathered Eroticism, Feign Emotion, [Local Culture] Etiquette, Manipulate Companion, Mine Gossip, Oversee Nest, Perform [Cloacamite Art], Preen Self, Sing Durulz Paean, Social Scheming, Speak [Language].

Typical Personality Traits: Indolent, Preening, Selfish, Sycophantic, Vain. Typical Relationship: to Favoured Client, to Master, to Other Cloacamites (usually negative and dismissive in form).

Typical Followers: A particularly wealthy cloacamite might possess his own servants, perfumiers and feather-smoother, though even the lowliest soon asserts his dominance over the many servants of a master's household.

Standard of Living: Prosperous.

(Originally posted on HeroQuest-RPG, 2 August 2005. A revised version is contained in the monograph "Ten Woonar! Quacky-Quacky!" Pimps, Pushers, Prostitutes and Preverts in the Military Occupation of Sartar, by yours truly.)

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Durulza Dentata, the Many-Mawed Mother

This hideous figure has been given such labels as Durulza Dentata, The Devourer and The Many-Mawed Mother among others, but to the durulz is largely ineffable. It is one of the greatest demons of durulz myth, and reckoned by some mythographers akin to Gorgorma and other, deepest horrors of the Earth cults. Indeed, its striking rune has a cognate form. There are certain details in the mythology, however, that perhaps speculate upon an even more terrible heritage.

The iconography of this demon is handled with great caution in durulz society. It is most commonly used by the various Earth-based mystery cults present among the durulz; particularly among hens who seek to draw power from its aspects of slaughter and retribution. Rites are rumoured to include ceremonial murder, cannibalism and ovicide. Those durulz heroes brave enough to display it upon their shields nevertheless do so with some trepidation.

(Originally posted on ImmoderateGloranthaQuest, 19 December 2007.)

Into the DMZ (Duck Marauding Zone)

From 'I Was a Soldier Once...': the recollections of Kraxus Joon (Grotaron Impressions, Carantes, 7/49). Since placed under scriveners' ban by order of the Imperial War Forum.

"People often speak of the glorious Cleansing of the Durulz Valley and Upland Marsh. Of how it was a good time to be an Imperial soldier; a time of easy duty and few fatigues, where men were made happy in the joyous hunting of the feathered rebels. They don't know augnershit.

"All soldiers did things they regretted in the Duck Cleansing. I don't care what they say. Hell, I've even seen grown great trolls break down and weep. The petrified quackings of ducklings, cradled in their dead mothers' arms, haunt your dreams. Flashbacks of Minor Class mages launching barrage after barrage of death into some harmless old drake's hovel, because some half-wittted officer thought he saw Deathdrakes hiding there. The Valley and Upland Marsh were hell. Sure, we expected a free ride, a bit of fun. But one night in the Duck Marauding Zone cleared all that. It was peaceful at first, of course. The air was stagnant, broken only by the occasional sound of some wading bird. Little did we know that those sounds were heralds of guile-spun death.

"Waves of grimly warbling followers of their cursed Death God coming from all directions. Confusion, as officers vainly attempted to restore order, and men battled to govern their fear and reassert their training and faith in the Goddess. The horror that followed as you realised your comrade had been taken in the misty fray. The sound of his tortured screams, keening in the distant depths of that hellish swamp. You'd find them eventually, of course; their shattered bodies contorted by pain-wracked torment; tarred and feathered in some grotesque duckish savagery. At least Death was ablessing.

"Reprisals naturally followed. Whole nests were butchered. All ducks were fair targets. A duck was a duck, and the only good duck was adead duck. Have you seen what a ballista bolt does to a duckling at close quarters? It ain't pretty. We smashed the eggs of course. Often with their warbling families watching. It was a release, I suppose. Yet it marked us. The sticky, glistening residue of duckblood coating jerkin, hair and weapon alike, impervious to any amount of scrubbing, pervading your very septessence. The piles of grisly trophies taken from debilled ducks for bounty, their once rebellious owners now nought but lifeless corpses burned on massive pyres; or left to rot where they fell, in watery graves.

"Sometimes there were survivors, largely because we were too tired to continue the slaughter. Then there were the cruel scenes of long, manacled lines of plucked and branded prisoners destined for the slave pits, lit by the smouldering fires of burnt reeds and the blessed glow of the Red Moon. Sometimes we marched these pitiful remnants back to the Marsh's edge, only to be overtaken by a staff officer after an hour or so's journey. Stockades were full. So we speared them there and then, casting their bodies to the marsh near some unknown and Goddess-forgotten tumulus rising from the dank waters.

"When we came across a particularly belligerent nest, casualties would be high. Whole companies might be eviscerated by maddened midget warriors, or pulled to their slow-drowned death by any number of traps and hidden guerillas. That was when the true horror began. The garbled notes of horns and magically projected voices crackled across the air, and the eager, murderous glee of waiting came over us. We could sense the magic rising in the mists, the hairs on the back of our necks prickling with anticipation. We were addicted to it, and we always received our fix.

"Every soldier remembers the first time their officers called in support from the Field School of the College of Magic.

"It was as if the world had ended. Whole nests were destroyed by the heavenly fires of the Crater Makers. Burning ducks waddling screaming in the night, their piercing calls rising above the raging fires as they died. Slowly. The sickly smell of burnt feathers hanging like a deathly pall in the foetid Marshland air. Even after a burning we had to collect the bills. Apparently liquidation manifests had to be assessed by the Entelathosium and the College of Magic. We scrambled over the charred, putrescent remains of ducks, frequently fused together in a wretched charnel mass, attempting to saw off our grisly trophies. Sometimes we found ducks, even ducklings, buried half-alive in that stinking, smouldering morass. They died of course, but often slowly, for we only carried saws on those jobs. Hells, I've not been able to eat fowl ever since.

"Hazia-use was rife. It was the only way to gain an even momentary release from the terror. The grim and guilty pleasures of death and murder, the bowel-emptying fear of yet another Humakti Death Song attack shattering the still marsh air. Self-mutilation was initially common, with accidental butt-spike injuries offering a respite to the endless monotony of marshland sweeps and sleepless nights bivouacked in the damp swampland hell. But the Seven Mothers' priests soon got wise to that.

"They tried to keep us happy, of course. Jar-Eel visited us once, apparently, on a morale-raising exercise, but I was on a sweep atthe time. The youngsters adored her, and festooned our reedwrought temporary barracks with images of the Inspiration. You grew used to unsettling sounds in the dead of night as they stared at her images and Onalingi's iniquitous wiles took them. That was punishable by death, of course, but no-one seemed to care. Then there were the trips to the Duck Point brothels, where every young recruit wouldrecall with wonder the words of temptation: 'Ten Loonar!' and 'Me give you quacky-quacky?'

"And then there were the reports of home. Here we were, in this sodden hell. You'd have thought any good Imperial Citizen would have supported us. But no. The tales of violence and rioting in Torang and Induppa, as those cursed bird-lovers protested at the crimes we perpetrated upon their 'kin', further sapped morale. Some students at the Imperial Magical University even went on strike before Tatius called in the Garrison Army and did the ungrateful bastards in."

(Originally posted on HeroQuest-RPG, 2 December 2005.)

Ducks and the whole Gbaji-Nysalor issue...

Ducks often have a different take on the whole Gbaji issue. You see, early on, they tried to understand the situation, they really did. Perplexed looking faces, bills turned up in painful-looking contemplation, plates of grubs left uneaten. They really made an effort.

And then it hit them. You're all taking the p*%$.

After all, have you ever seen a Duck trying to enunciate the word 'Gbaji'? The poor fellows just can't get their bills around it. They half cough up their innards trying to manage the syllables, break out into a sweat and still only manage 'Kwaaaazhi'.

As far as they're concerned, this is one big joke all the humans, trolls etc. have made, and they're the butt of it. You got drunk, and came up with a word the Ducks can't say without tying themselves in knots. See, you're all trying now, and they ain't falling for it.

Mention the word Gbaji and a Duck will probably glare at you, his neck will shorten, he'll bury his head in his breast feathers, sending furtive fiery glances around the room, just to see if anyone is sniggering. If you ask him his opinion, he'll apologize and dash off to spend a penny.

Of course, this has the corollary that as soon as you say the word Gbaji, that shifty Duck in the party looks like he has something to hide...

(Originally posted on the Glorantha Digest, 7 August 2003.)

Durulz Royal Guard (c. 1582)

K. Durulz royal guard (c. 1582). The durulz revere Sartar as if he were one of their own, and the bond between the Duck Tribe and the heroic Founder's Royal House has always been close. Many durulz warriors have given oaths of service to Sartar's kin and, though lacking the fame of such later groups as the Household of Death, have served with diligence and duty.

The skalds sing that several durulz fought and died under Tarkalor's banner at the Battle of Grizzly Peak (1582). It is unknown whether this particular figure, annotated as a 'royal guard' in the records, served as guard to the Duck Tribe's king, or the King of Sartar himself. Though his panoply might indicate the latter (see below), there is a strong tradition of self-identification with the Sartar cultus among durulz kings, and none can be sure.

The drake pictured is well-armed and armoured. He wears a hauberk and coif of bronze mail, reinforced with a mantle of leather and bronze. The finely tooled mollusc-helm is of the Type Ia variety, with a gold eye- and beak-guard. The shield is of the round, heroic form, plated with bronze and decorated with the rune of Sartar. The brightly coloured feathers are symbols of pomp and pride. Bronze greaves adorn the legs. The wavy-headed river-spear is tipped with rare iron, and supplemented with a double-edged, thrusting durulz groin-sword.

(Originally posted on ImmoderateGloranthaQuest, 15 December 2007.)

Gawkip Pucewattle, Durulz Snailherd

J. Gawkip Pucewattle, durulz snailherd (c. 1612). The ducks' love of snails, slugs and molluscs in general is well known, and many of the larger species have been domesticated. The wetlands bordering The Stream and the Upland Marsh are ideal territory for snails, and there are some right big 'uns! The durulz herd them into routs, protect them, and lead them to good eating away from their own arable centres. Snail-herding can be a dangerous job, and most snailherds are alert and armed. The largest snails (and their valuable shells) command a high price, and snail raids are not uncommon--though quick getaways can be a problem.

Snailherds also drive their charges to market when required, ready for the spit, oven or pot. These droves can render even the most pacific traveller irate, for the painfully slow-moving snails clog the roads, crossings and pathways for what seems an eternity; a single rout can take as long as two days to cross a road!

Pucewattle is dressed in a similar style to many of his fellows. His leather kilt, marsh-gaiters and hood provide shelter and protection, along with his long, oiled raincape. His thick leather belt is marked with the rune of 'Old Gusty Wusty', as the Storm God is commonly called; his curved, durulz-style slashing sword (a little like a kukri) is tucked into it. Gawkip also carries a sling, and has a pouch holding his sling-pebbles.

To his snailherd's crook is attached a curious lantern, of a manufacture that is peculiar to the durulz. They prize empty glass gin bottles, discarded from Lunar soldiers (or, indeed, their own use--durulz have a weakness for gin, particularly on the long, long, long mollusc-droves), and place in the bottom a little bit of a certain fungus. This fungus attracts the various species of luminous marshflies common to the Upland Marsh; once they are collected, the bottle is stopped with a porous bung, and forms a useful little lamp.

(Originally posted on ImmoderateGloranthaQuest, 14 December 2007.)

Waaluk Redbeak, Famed Durulz Gladiator

I. Waaluk Redbeak and "friend" (c. 1624). Of the admittedly small number of durulz gladiators that have graced the Imperial arenas, there can be little doubting the most famous: Waaluk Redbeak. The crowds loved (and at times loved to hate) Waaluk. He may have gone to seed in his retirement, but back in his pomp he was a lean, sinewed, vicious little bastard, who excelled in his own particular brand of murderous theatre. They knew his boasts and catchphrases--"I's gonna eat yer guts like worms... worms I say!"--and showered him with gifts.

Redbeak's most famous fights came in 1618 [7/47], when he was fighting for a noble House in Melsorkoth. A particularly inopportune act of blasphemy on the part of the head of the House had caused the city (and its newly reaped fields) to be drenched by a torrential downpour. Disaster beckoned, and the nobles desired to assure the good graces of the populace and gods alike. The normal method--sacrificial games--seemed out, as the arena was flooded. At Redbeak's suggestion, however, the Melsorkothites transported tons of spoiled crops, mud and general waste, and dumped it into the amphitheatre, soon forming a foetid swamp.

Redbeak gathered together all the durulz gladiators available, and pitted them against all the zombies and beasts the city could find. It was a superb spectacle (though it started to smell after a while), unlike anything ever seen in the Empire, as the durulz re-enacted their ancient legends. The gods forgave the city, and Redbeak was hailed as one of the greatest gladiators in the Heartlands. Soon after he bought his freedom, and now lives in plump retirement in Darjiin, where he brews ricewine and owns a modest little manufactory.

(Originally posted on World of Glorantha, 12 December 2007.)

"Hail, Moonson! Those who are about to die..."

H. Durulz gladiator (c. 1624). Though many ducks were slain for the bill-bounty in the aftermath of Starbrow's Rebellion, others still were enslaved by the Lunars. For some entrepreneurs the durulz's small bodies made them ideal for the mines; but for others they were taken simply as curios and oddities to be displayed in theHeartlands. Given the Lunar Empire's penchant for novelty and Inclusiveness, it was not long before these short, feathered unfortunates were cast into the gladiatorial arenas.

The earliest bouts were massacres, as quivering drakes were overwhelmed by the magnitude of the spectacle, offput by the dry, featureless arena floors, and slaughtered for the amusement of baying crowds. Then things started to change. The durulz that survived, mostly by luck, began to adapt; and, most importantly, they won the crowds to their side.

Why? Ducks are ready-made favourites of the arena. Being small ands light compared to most of their foes, they revel in the role of the underdog. When confident they are boastful, preening, irrepressible show-offs. And they display a tenacity and sheer vindictiveness thati s all too often absent in the arena, dominated by professional gladiators who commonly 'go easy' on each other for mutual benefit. Not the durulz.

After all, all durulz gladiators worship the god the Heortlings call Humakt. Even those (the majority) who don't. Quick to spot the mesmerising effect this barbaric Death God had on the crowds, lanistas and patrons made sure that their charges hammed up every aspect of his worship, littering their performances with grim Humakti songs and oaths, strange sword-dances and chilling warbled cries. Pairings between a Humakti and a Shargashi are among the most eagerly awaited in the arena!

This particular gladiator shows several features of the 'durulz style', focusing on speed and nimbleness. He is outfitted with two distinctly durulz items: a Type Va mollusc-helm, crafted from a real shell, with a mail neck-guard; and a durulz wingblade--a large serrated version of the single-edged falcata. The wingblade is used to slash and tear at the muscles and hamstrings of opponents, to weaken them, cripple them, and allow the drake to eventually deliver a killing stroke. This style of fighting is much loved by the crowds, for the short stature of the durulz means that they are rarely able to deliver a 'quick kill' by virtue of strikes to the neck and chest, and thus fight a longer bout, giving the crowd their money's worth. A shield is also carried, but not shown here.

(Originally posted on World of Glorantha, 12 December 2007.)

"Quo vadis, lispbeak?"

G. Two Lunar durulz auxiliaries (c. 1617). Being a somewhat fractious race, with many existing quarrels, it is perhaps not surprising that some durulz turned 'quackling' (as the phrase goes). Faced with slavery or liquidation, a few sought to take Moonson's salt insteadof fleeing into the Marsh. Motivations varied, from cowardice and/or a wish for amnesty, to revenge, greed, or simply a desire for cheap Lunar gin. Few, if any, were inspired by the finer points of Sedenyic philosophy. Irrespective of their reasons, they can expect nothing but cruel tortures if captured by their rebel kin; a fact that spurs a reciprocal hatred of their own.

Initially the Lunars were unconvinced at the utility of accepting such recruits, but the sheer number of bounties claimed, and the gradual increase in intensity and effectiveness of durulz guerilla attacks, suggested a change of approach. For the first year of their employment the durulz mainly served in an individual capacity as scouts, often roped and under ready threat of death at the slightest treachery. With time, and more recruits, the Lunars began to form small squads for other operations. Though some of these 'units' were composed of divers scouts and new recruits gathered together for the purpose, others were raised by the issue of warrants to ready-made, self-formed bands of murderers, looters and vagabonds.

Durulz auxiliaries usually muster in squads of six to ten drakes, led by a sord-septon. (Originally, the Lunars used Rinliddi terminology, but abandoned it when they found that none of the ducks could pronounce vrimon properly. Truth be told, they don't manage much better with septon.) There are probably no more than a hundred or so lunar durulz auxiliaries in total. They form important roles as scouts and boatducks, and are often detached to act as logistical troops for the Lunar Harbingers, much to their (mutual) chagrin.

The drake on the left is a sord-septon, commanding a small patrol. His panoply displays many Pelorian items: though the Lunars were at first content to let the durulz equip themselves as they could, they soon discovered that some of their equipment fascinated the preening ducks, and had a noticeable effect upon morale and attention to duty when issued in cut-down sizes. This officer carries a durulz slashing sword, and a painted Lunar peltast's shield. The 'bellied' cuirass, moulded to fit a drake's torso, is typically of bronze or boiled leather. His Pelorian helm is marked with a red and a black feather, and he proudly wears a scarlet cloak.

The drake on the right is an archer, with a motley set of equipment. His armour is a leather scale vest with mail shoulders, and he wears a loose leather cap. His bow is not particularly powerful. The shattered duck egg at the figures' feet displays the brutalities in which both sides engage.

Originally posted on ImmoderateGloranthaQuest, 12 December 2007.)

Durulz Toad-Rider (c. 1628)

F. A sketch of a Durulz Valley Toad-Rider (c. 1628). Mounted atop one of the fabled Giant Swamp Toads of the Upland Marsh (albeit a smaller member of the species), this cavalrydrake represents one of the rarer and more peculiar brands of durulz warrior. Most ducks fight on 'foot' (such as it is) amid the local wetlands, and mounted forces are rare. Giant Swamp Toads provide a rapid (if juddery) method of deployment, and are valued as scouts and shock-troops. The carnivorous toads are vicious and hard to control, and must be captured and trained with care. The duck attempts--often by way of a lengthy process--to direct the beast using his mahout's whipstick, and for extra safety is secured to the saddle by his thick leather belt. His accoutrements are typical of a durulz warrior: his armour comprises a bronze-plate shoulder-mantle, mail vest and Type IIIb mollusc-helm with mail neck-guard; and he wields a long pennanted lance. Most usually carry a heavy, single-edged duckish falcata-style sword in addition. The feathered back-banner is an expression of personal glory and battlefield communication.

(Originally posted on World of Glorantha, 10 December 2007.)

Hen Nestguard (c. 1612)

E. A 'Gorite' hen nestguard (c. 1612). The rites of birth and hatching are the most important in durulz society. As drake attitudes to duty during incubation and fledging vary, but tend towards neglect (some, for example, return to homosexual relationships after the mating season), systemised forms of ritual observance, care and defence have developed among the hen population. The various 'Gorite' cults, prevalent in analogous form among the ducks as among humans (and often possessing some links to Wintertop), form the central component of this apparatus.

Nestguard warrioresses present a competence and permanence that is rivalled only by the 'professional' warriors of the noble retinues, durulz warbands and certain militant cults. Paradoxically, though their social focus is defensive, their tactics are aggressive and attack-oriented. Courageous and vengeful, nestguards might appear frenzied but are in truth considered, practising a ruthlessly measured application of violence. Their shrill wails and calls are disturbing and can incite panic.

During the rebellion of 1613, such nestguards proved themselves the staunchest and most effective defenders of the Duck Tribe, even more so than the adherents of the durulz Death God. When the Lunars moved to destroy the durulz, the nestguards (and many other hens) remained to defend the nests--the eggs, the hatchlings, the fledgelings--until death. Not a single nestguard survived past 1614; all perished.

Contrast this with the current, inflated numbers of worshippers of the Death God, who survived the reprisals by fleeing, or moving to prosecute guerilla warfare in the Marsh and wilderness, abandoning the settlements. The loss of so many hens created a drake-hen imbalance that persists in 1621, and in part accounts for the ubiquity of the 'Deathdrake' among the warrior class. Still, the ranks of the nestguards are slowly recovering, as the spirits of dead sisters and mothers inspire new adherents to take up the role.

This particular nestguard is typical of those that defended the towns of Quackford and Stone Nest. She wears little armour, with just a wide gorget/mantle of bronze plates on top of her ceremonial robes, marked with the decals of the Many-Mawed Mother. Copper cultic rings adorn the neck, forearms and shins. The hen carries no shield, but instead wields two straight, double-edged bronze swords of the durulz pattern.

(Originally posted on ImmoderateGloranthaQuest, 10 December 2007.)

Two Drake Rebels (c. 1615)

D. A sketch of two drake rebels (c. 1615). Given their stature and agility, durulz often fight in teams of two or three, with one warrior seeking to distract or fix an opponent, while a comrade manoeuvres to gain an advantage and deal a crippling or killing blow. This bears many similarities to the heroic Orlanthi styles of combat, with the Four Winds/Storms--though durulz are less averse to piling in all at once.

The figure on the left is a warrior of some repute in his society. Rather than wear a mollusc-helm, he possesses a bronze cap of Heortling style and manufacture, with a centaur-tail plume. A mail mantle covers his shoulders and upper torso, underlain with a thin layer of leather; the bag at his side simply holds his rations of grubs, mushrooms and herbs. The shield is of the distinctly leaf-shaped durulz pattern. This particular shield is of canvas-covered wood, though some are plated in bronze. It is tall (for a durulz) and angles away from a centre ridge. Notable is the presence of a sharp base-spike, used to either help secure a shield wall or pin an enemy's foot. The sword displays the thinking, manufacture and practice behind another school of durulz fighting. Straight and double-edged with a sharp point, it is manufactured from a single piece of bronze by accomplished redsmiths. Though it can be (and is) used in a manner similar to the single-edged falcata, striking at the legs, it is more often thrust up into man-sized creatures' groin areas--to incapacitate the target and render it vulnerable to a killing blow.

The figure on the right is a speardrake. He is of lesser position and background, and accompanies the warrior in battle. His armour follows the same pattern as his comrade's--protective headgear and a mantle across his upper body--but is made from leather. The drake carries a longish groin- or crotch-spear, with a wickedly serrated head. Weapons such as this are used to 'fix' an opponent in the groin or abdomen, to allow other warriors to hamstring the foe and then deliver a killing blow. Note the somewhat haphazard stuffing of reeds into the belt and mantle, forming a rudimentary element of disguise; a practice that would ultimately develop into the ghillie-style suits of later years.

(Originally posted on ImmoderateGloranthaQuest, 9 December 2007.)

Type VIa (ceremonial) mollusc-helm (c. 1580s)

C. A sketch of a hen of some import (c. 1580s; note the neck-rings common to many wealthy female durulz) wearing a Type VIa ceremonial helmet famously taken as booty by the Lunars in 1613; also known as the Carmen Miranda helm. (*sigh*)

(Originally posted on ImmoderateGloranthaQuest, 9 December 2007.)

Type IIa mollusc-helm (c. 1614)

B. A sketch of a drake noble (c. 1614) wearing a Type IIa mollusc-helm, wrought from an actual snail-shell. Most mollusc-helms are bronze; actual examples of this form are relatively rare, and usually retained as valued heirlooms. Image reconstructed from a pebble mural preserved in the ruins of Stone Nest.

(Originally posted on ImmoderateGloranthaQuest, 9 December 2007.)

Drake Warrior (c. 1600)

A. A sketch of a drake warrior (c. 1600) in the Heroic or Quackford Panoply. He wears what would later be called a Type IIIb mollusc-helm, made of bronze, with a bronze mail neck-guard and minimal decoration. The armoured mantle of leather and bronze across the shoulders is common among duck warriors, as a focused defence against downward blows from larger creatures. The falcata-style sword has a heavy, curved single-edged blade--commonly used in a manner that aims to cripple a man-sized foe with severe injuries to the anterior quadriceps and posterior tendons, it can sever a man's leg at the knee if of good quality and wielded with sufficient force.

The shield provides the main article of defence; it is large and typically fairly heavy, being required to deflect blows of considerable moment issued from height. Its convex wooden frame is plated with a thin sheet of bronze. The shield itself is decorated with the rune and depiction of the Many-Mawed Mother: a demon who is usually considered to be a duckish version of Gorgorma, said to possess eight-hundred and eighty-eight fanged bills. He also wears a typical durulz back-banner, marked with colourful feathers. Banners provide not only a mode of identification and personal expression, but also an atavistic link to myth and (when waxed) some further control in the water.

(Originally posted on ImmoderateGloranthaQuest, 9 December 2007.)

Kuaktzulub's Ladder

Of Luak's firstborn, only Kwala'ikki and Drulzekka guarded their father. The First Tribe, descended of Zlalok Zorn, were overcome by rage and Chaos. The Second Tribe, descended of Umatathoa, fled and gave themselves over to worship of his rebellious son, Orlok. The Third Tribe, descended of Klolak, were overcome by inaction and dulled by their mysticism, and driven to the east as Guanote'ela fragmented under the assault of Chaos. Now they live in fear of the First Tribe, who dwell in the same seas.

Only the Fourth Tribe, descended of Kwala'ikki, remained true to Luak. They were the poorest and most humble, but were aided by Kuaktzulub, the greatestchild of Zlalok Zorn, who held back from the sins that engulfed his fatherand in so doing became the first tribeless drulzek. Together, Drulzekka, Kwala'ikki and Kuaktzulub journeyed into the depths of the world, as they sought to free Luak. They found a passage that wound deep beneath the mountain that imprisoned him, down into the great abyss in which He was held.

Below them they could see the burning, raging form of their creator, flightless as they and trapped in his donjon. Then Kuaktzulub took his great obsidian weapon, which he had won from the Scaled King, and sliced it across Drulzekka the Ancestress' belly. He drew out her intestines, which he wrought into a charnel ladder, and cast it down into the abyss. Yet it would not reach Luak, so he turned to demand the sacrifice of Kwala'ikki. Overcome by horror, the Fourth Son had danced away from Kuaktzulub's razorclub, and fled gibbering into the darkness.

Unperturbed and immune to any craven vice, Kuaktzulub knew the task that lay before him, and slit open his own belly, revealing the steaming mass of innards within. These he affixed to Drulzekka's on the great ladder. Still it would not reach to the bottom of the abyss, so there Kuaktzulub, god of death and evisceration, and Luak, the fallen creator, remain to this day. Kwala'ikki overcame his terror and watches over them, deity of what the humans call the Vent, but which the Drulzekki know as Trickster Mountain.

There, in its great shadow, the remnants of the Fourth Tribe live, guarding Luak's legacy. Kwala'ikki has fooled the humans into thinking he is their god: when his flaming tail feathers flutter above the crater rim they cry in terror; when he belches and the earth shakes they panickedly sacrifice to assuage his anger; and when he is overcome by flatulence, they take his noxious fumes as signs of divination.

The disciples of Kuaktzulub remain, the greatest warriors of the Drulzekki beyond the Zorns. They are tribeless as their ancestor, and seek to capture their enemies, who are then ritually disembowelled by Kuakti priests on the skull-formed ziggurat of the temple of Luak. Their intestines are cast down the gore-slick steps into the lava-lit smoking lake out of which the temple rises.

Beneath the smoking lake is Kuaktzulub's Realm of the Dead, a horrid mirror image of the realm above. He collects the intestines, and adds them to his ladder, a ladder that will one day prove long enough to rescue Luak, so that He will return to lead the Drulzekki to greatness. When a Kuakti warrior dies, he is ritually disembowelled and sent on a reed boat into the smoking mists, so that his god may take him.

The Fall of Zlalok Zorn

The greatest warrior of the Drulzekki was Zlalok Zorn, the First Son. At first he fought Chaos, driven by strife and violence, glorifying in the primal contest. As the battle raged, the Darkbringers realised the error of their ways, but instead of seeking to repent their injustice to Luak, they elected to place the Golden Man in the sky as the Second and Lesser Sun, who shone with false pride, and could never match the radiance of Him.

When Zlalok Zorn saw the Golden Man climb upon his false throne in the sky, he was consumed with rage. Some claim that in his anger he was overcome by the Chaos that he had so recently fought, falling to the great evil of theVoid. Climbing to the very top of the mountain that entombed Luak, he leapt into the sky, and with one stroke slew his brother Umatathoa, and stole his winds, granting for himself and his followers the power of flight, which all other Drulzekki had lost.

Then Zlalok Zorn rose into the sky with his companions to face the Golden Man himself. His foe's fire was fuelled by hubris, but was still powerful, and burned off all of Zlalok's feathers, leaving him clad only in his disfigured, leathery hide. Yet he struck too, and wounded the Golden Man, so that the False Sun fled in pain to the west, falling from the sky. There he hides under the earth, tended by the poultices Earth Witch, until he can gather the strength to rise again.

Zlalok Zorn took his companions, the First Tribe, to the Gates of Dawn in the far east. There they await the Golden Man's attempt to reclaim his usurped throne every morn, and Zlalok Zorn rises to fight him in eternal battle. Each day the Golden Man is wounded, and though he shines down upon creation for a time, he has but only half the kingdom of Luak. Zlalok Zorn's followers became the Zorns (or Sorns), vicious warriors of the Eastern Isles who continue their progenitor's battle.

The Coming of Darkness

Luak shone down on Guanote'ela, which grew under his gaze. In the rich matter of First Child grew many things, and first and greatest of all was a shining white egg. From this hatched Drulzekka, ancestress of the Four Tribes of the Drulzekki, her chosen people who grew from the eggs of her unions with the Four Sons, each tribe bearing the form of its mother and the personality of its father.

Other races and beings also grew from the rich matter of Luak's First Child, not least the dwarfs and trolls who revelled in the dark substance of the land, and the elves who tended the plants that the Drulzekki fed upon. Least of all of the races was that of Man, the slave-race, cursed with the inability to swim or fly, whose gangly hide was unaddorned with the beautiful plumage of Luak's Chosen.

It was during this golden age that Umatathoa was seduced by the Earth Witch, a powerful daughter of First Child whose magics permeated Guanote'ela. Their child was called Orlok the Stormfire, who lay with his mother and fostered the embers of rebellion in Man. It was thus also in Man that grew the sins of pride and greed in the riches of Guanote'ela, which took semblance and form in the being of the Golden Man, a slave who called himself Emperor.

Though Orlok, the Golden Man and the Earth Witch frequently bickered, they were united in their opposition to the Drulzekki. They united with the False-Tongued Troll King and fought against Luak's Chosen, so that the First and Greatest Sun wept tears of fire that corruscated the land. Finally Umatathoa cast his son, Orlok Stormfire, up at the sun, and so doing sheared off Luak's burning wings, so that the Cosmic Wanderer plummeted to Guanote'ela and fell deep into the matter of being.

With their spite and treachery, those who would become known as theDarkbringers then buried Luak's burning form under mountains of dark earth, so that the Fire and Light was trapped and extinguished to His Chosen. Thus Darkness enshrouded creation, and bereft of the light of Luak the Void squirmed at the thing that existed within it, and rose against Guanote'ela.

The Drulzekki were splintered, and faced their greatest test. It was in their failure to unite on the true path that their race was sundered, and cast down from its exalted state. With the fall and maiming of Luak they had lost the power of flight, and were presented with the choice: did they turn to fight Chaos, as even the Darkbringers were doing, or did they attempt to free Luak and restore his glory?

The Ducks of Caladraland, Part the Second; The Drulzek Creation Myth

What follows are the central creation myths, as told by the Caladran tribe. They're just meant to exist in that context. Hopefully they show a body of durulz myth on its own terms, and perhaps indicate how I think the ducks can possess a variety of views on these matters, as humans can.

For the God Learners out there it mimics many things (not least mainstream Caladran mythology), but goes its own way on others. It is a revised version of a slightly more conversational and humorous attempt placed on Lokarnos.

[Thanks for the note, Benedict and Jane! In hindsight this myth also, incidentally -- and accidentally, more's the point -- supports the hypothesis that the ducks might have been astronauts, whose spaceship was crossing the galaxy when it developed problems, burst into flame and crashed on a new world... and is perhaps buried beneath the Vent. At least that's what von Daeniken would have said. Erm, this is going in a direction I hadn't really intended...]


In the beginning, before Myth or Time, Luak the Great Cosmic Wanderer flew across the Infinite Void. He had grown hungry during his timeless migration,and out of such hunger grew in thought and form His first great creation: the spark of Preordial Fire. It burned enticing in light and lustre, consumed and consuming as was Luak's hunger, and He devoured its power until the fire became the fuel, and the fuel the fire, merged as one.

The Preordial Fire roared through His belly, and from its spent waste coalesced the great realm known as Guanote'ela, First Child, abob in theVoid and above which Luak circled and flew. Though all but a part of the first form of Fire had departed, its power remained, and a great conflagration grew within Luak's body. His feathers sweated lavic blood, and in so doing gave birth to the First Son, Zlalok Zorn, the manifestation of Strife and Violence.

Still the inferno grew, and Luak cried his great call across the Void, his breathing oscillating rapidly as he blew out the burning winds of his Second Son, the Wind, blustery Umatathoa. Yet still the burning inside would not abate, and drew great salty tears to his eyes, which gushed over Guanote'ela as Klolak the Sea, the Third Son.

Then a great irritation and itching befell His beak, and Luak sneezed ou tthe small, remaining portion of the Preordial Fire as Kwala'ikki the Mischief-Maker, Fourth and Final Son. Finally Luak could take no more, and His entire form burst into flame, illuminating all as the First and Greatest Sun.

The Ducks of Caladraland, Part the First

With all the discussion on ducks, and perhaps thoughts of expanding upon the notion of ducks in Maniria-exclusive-of-Dragon Pass, I thought I'd throw in... well, not counter-theories as Keith might have jokingly asked for, but alternative viewpoints that go a little way toward noting why I like the idea of 'mythic pluralism' among ducks, which, like many of the Elder Races, tend otheriwse toward more singular concepts in many people's thoughts.

Inspired by references to ducks in the coastal regions of Maniria-exclusive-of-Dragon Pass, I started investigating the possibilities of duck communities in the Holy Country, particularly in Caladraland. After nearly three years of extensive field-trips and research, my investigations are almost complete.

For many fans, especially from the RQ days, I know that the issue of ducks is pretty indistinguishable from that of their cultural trappings (as has occasionally come out in this discussion). As a relative newcomer to Glorantha, I began my researches when the Monomyth had largely gone the way of shoulder pads, puffball skirts and Plastic Bertrand, and mythic variety was parading around like some Young Turk.

I tried to see how the motif of the duck could be applied in other myth-cultures. I could have portrayed the Caladran duck tribe (and there is but one tribe, in the east at least) as an enclave of Storm worshippers, holding out against the evil human hotheads who wanted to sacrifice them to the volcano, but volcano-worshipping ducks was simply too tempting.

In creating them I was less concerned with a group that fitted in with all the -- well, purposefully hazy, indistinct, speculative and varied --stories as to duck origin, and tried to get something that worked on its own level first. Naturally, their whole mythic outlook was going to be a wee bit different from those kin of the Creek-Stream River.

Their closeness to Fire, combined with a quarrelsome nature that Anaxial's Roster and HeroQuest at least have intimated (in addition to Gloranthanpop-culture), led me towards the Fallen Master-Race thesis (Elder Secrets) and the Ganderland concept was thus ideal. While I didn't want to tie them in wholesale with the keets of Vithela, I liked the idea of 'nesting' hints and vague links that could enrichen the myth.

For their own security, and as a function of the environment in which they live, the Caladran ducks are somewhat sheltered, and live a largely isolationist existence. This provides a myth-culture that is somewhat... truculent... not a little presumptuous, self-affirming of existing principles and can come across as quite strange to some outsiders.

Though fowl (behave), similar to the durulz of Dragon Pass and opposed to certain keets, their breeds are a touch different. Their associations with Water are also somewhat distinct from their Dragon Pass kin -- rather than the riverine and marshland associations, they dwell amid brackish and marine inlets, hydrothermal springs and the freshwater crater and caldera lakes(their major settlement is sited in one of these lakes).

Although the Caladran durulz are what we might technically call volcano-worshippers, there is the issue that the ducks don't actually control the Vent -- not only is waddling up one of the three great Dragon Mountains of Glorantha as a three to four-foot-tall anthropmorphic duck abit of a chore, but there is the added downer that the human tribes displayed a tendency to kill and sacrifice them at every opportunity.

The Caladran ducks are thus divorced from the principal Innerworld element of their paradigm. This is reflected in their myth: the Vent conforms to the Trickster figure in their pantheon, a mountain that is unwittingly worshipped by the human tribes, but is really the child of their own volcanic entity, who was (pace the myths of the trolls and various human tribes) imprisoned by the perfidies of other races.

Since I first researched this breed, they have changed a fair bit, vacillating between the humorous and the serious, the 'never intended for public consumption' and 'I might be able to get people to swallow this'. Now I think they're beginning to get there, whever 'there' is.

(Originally posted on the Glorantha Digest, 4 February 2006.)

Durulz Gods: A Mythographic Addendum

I know very little of mainstream semi-Orlanthi durulz, as John and Mike have described, but will offer a few snippets of my own Glorantha in case you ever go down into Caladraland (where Benedict will suffer the doom of being slowly devoured by the thousand bills of Gor-Gor-Ma!).

Throwing in a volcano doesn't just transmute to Caladraland standard durulz-mythology + volcano god IMG (and general thoughts on myth), so their thoughts on cosmology are a little different (but hey... you can't *not* have duck Humakti).

In my own Glorantha the Drulzekki of Caladraland worship Luak (a subsequent'Luak', as in 'Luak-Luak' is occasionally used; or the term Loueydril for fun games, if it doesn't bring apoplexy) as the big boss god, but don't really represent him in any artistic form, other than a burning sun, which was infinitely brighter than the false sun that currently blemishes the sky. Fire that will blind the sight of all was a bit difficult to achieve, so they tend to stick with a plain biggish circle.

The sarifice-hungry Nexarchs (read priests of Luak) claim to be the manifest representations of their chief god, and wear flaming volcanic headresses--the height of the headress representing the power of the priest and closeness to Luak's fiery grace... if providing the counter of a rather more unstable gait*.

Other gods do indeed allow more artistic representations of their glory... with the obvious exception of Drulzekka, mother of the Drulzekki. Her transition to Gor-Gor-Ma, the Hungry Dark and defender of her children, has proven problematic: how do you draw a durulz with a thousand razor-billed maws of terror? Some vine-shrouded shrines to Gor-Gor-Ma, frequented only by the matrons of the cult, do seem to make a good attempt, however.

Other gods are better depicted. Kuaktxulub the Eviscerator** is probably most described, appearing as a durulz happily drunk with death, cloaked inthe protective rainbow-hued feathers of the firebirds, holding the klanth he captured from the Lizard King and with his belly slit open to reveal half his guts hanging out.

The art of the Drulzekki has suffered somewhat in recent years, however, and few modern representations can match the strange, humongous 'Drulzek Heads' that litter the near-primeaval forest landscape of (parts of) Caladraland. They represent old Drulzek gods and heroes, many of the latter lost to current legends.

Kwala'ikki the Trickster makes his home in the Vent, under which Luak was imprisoned ages ago. He guards his father until the time when enough sacrifices have been made to Kuaktxulub that he can gather up their entrails and make his gut-wrought ladder to climb down and release the Creator.

The stupid humans of Caladraland think that when the bright fire-fountains of the mountain jet into the sky, it's their 'god' erupting. Bah! That's just Kwala'ikki poking his flame-feathered head up to get a break from hisfather's constant rumbling anger. He's taken to like being called a god by the Caladrans, and finds it hilarious. He is starting to develop airs and graces, mind...

There are not too many gods worshipped by the Drulzekki: Luak, Kuaktxulub and Gor-Gor-Ma are among the most common. But occasionally other deities arefollowed, such as Ghumba the Golden Hippo. The Drulzek War Hippopotamus is a strange creature, found in the steaming volcanic mudpits that lie close to the vent, and from which it draws its vigour. Its purplish-blue hide is broken by tens to hundreds of rock-hard irridescent glass orbs, which provide a 'studded armour' of sorts.

Ghumba is represented by the Guardian of a Drulzek hippo-rider regiment, appearing as a crude golden idol of savage god (who is reputed to have a hide of gold and armoured orbs of purest diamond). Captives are sacrificed to Ghumba in the horrid death dances, squashed to nothingness beneath thepouding feet and rolling forms of bloodthirsty, mud-splattered, ecstatic hippopotami... all to the background of the keening death yodels of the Drulzekki.

*Popoquackapetl XXXVIII, High Nexarch many years ago, claimed that his instabilities in movement were not something to be laughed at (or that he'd had too much palm wine), but a mortal reminder of the omnipresent powers ofthe Rumbling Earth to Luak's chosen.

**Kuaktxulub is (mistakenly!) called Humakt/Hueymakt by the durulz elsewhere, possibly from the phrase Huey Makt (meaning 'great warrior'). Evisceration Yodel Berserk is rather different to Death Song Berserk, however.

(Originally posted on the Glorantha Digest, 24 April 2004.)

Terror of the Teal Tongs!

Actually, I'm quite interested in the presence of small groups of expatriate keets in Esrolia, the Rightarm Islands, Teshnos and the like, especially since the seas have effectively Opened and trade develops. I think there is much room for colour and, in such a situation, I have a conceit that it might be natural for such birdfolk to unite in mutual protective and entrepreneurial societies (coated with a pulp veneer) -- Eastern Isles keet tongs.

Such organisations might help satisfy many avian tendencies, and adopt nomenclature that centres on the appropriate collective noun, e.g. the Black Grub Sord, the Radiant Feathers Falling Sedge, the Leaping Winds Raft, the Three Wave Unkindness, the Crimson Petal Stand, the Lilac Mountain Mob, the Reaching Ronin Colony (guess what they are...) and the Aggressive Kettle.

Now, many keets have by-and-large proven immune to the level of vituperation often directed at the ducks of Dragon Pass. Intimations of their (myth-)culture seem to promote ideals of serene nobility and fluent grace; of a bearing and dignity that is somewhat beyond the hobbling durulz bandit, with his preference for Humakt and large swords being little more than some homo-erotic penile-extensive insecurity complex.

Yet whatever its graceful refinement, this avian culture is literally inhuman, with concepts of 'ownership' of property, freedom of action and protection of the nest that might differ considerably from even the anarchic Orlanthi's concepts of propriety. I wonder if such 'noble avian tendencies' actually translate into human terms of culture as some of the most rapacious, vengeful, criminal and kleptomaniacal bastards around? Terror of the Teal Tongs!

(Originally posted on the Glorantha Digest, 3 February 2006.)

The Bill Snatcher

All exasperated ducks in Stone Nest tell the tale of the Bill Snatcher, a crookedly long-beaked durulz with a malevolent air, who creeps around the nests, searching for the noisiest and most ill-behaved ducklings. He is drawn to the sound of their quackings, and lures the little beggars with grubs to his ornately decorated boat, where he locks them up and whips off their bills.

The poor captives are taken to his master, Delecti. There the mute bill-less ducklings are made into zombie slaves, while their incessantly chattering bills are animated by foul magics, so that they continue snapping in horrid abandon in the mists of the Marsh, chasing after those who wander too far from the nest. All ducklings fear the Bill Snatcher, and its continuous use as a ploy to quieten little ones has lost none of its power over the generations.

[Oh heck, Gert Froebe as Delecti is an image that is proving hard to remove.]

(Originally posted on ImmoderateGloranthaQuest--or whatever it was then--, 17 May 2004.)

Grubs, Grubs, Glorious Grubs

Everyone knows the stories about ducks and their divers accoutrements in popular legendry. Swords. Crossbows. Peg-legs. Cigars. Each grows in the telling. But ask any who have actually travelled to the Durulz Valley to name one item that so defines this curious tribe, and not a few may reply -- with a smile, smirk, or look of some distaste -- "The grub."

Grubs. It's hard to explain the durulz's love for these little (and, at times, not so little) larvae that form but a part of their diet. From the common-a-garden varieties, to the fabled inhabitants of the Darklands sought by only the most intrepid of grub-capturing expeditions, the mere thought of such gets the typical durulz's bill watering. Many are eaten fresh, the temptation and taste too great; but recipes abound for those species that grow all the tastier in the pot: from grubs wrapped in water lily leaves and baked in earth ovens, to the (in)famous mixed-grub gumbo cooked along the wetshores of the Upland Marsh.

Grey sages and Lunar Inclusive cosmographers alike have puzzled over such import in durulz culture. Many an old duck crone, eyes rheumy and bill broken, has been reverently queried as she sat by the nestfire -- Do the durulz sing tales of a Grubmother or -father? Do grubs represent some element of cyclicity, transformation and transcendence in myth? -- only to ponder for what seems an age before cackling, "I like the juicy ones..."

Grubs are certainly tasty (to the durulz at any rate), but the love of them as a foodstuff appears buoyed by a nostalgia born in ducklinghood. Ask even the hardiest (admittedly a relative term) of Humakti deathdealers, all scars and runic tattoos, of the "grub-boat", and his or her face will soften in an instant... as a stream of drool dribbles from the corner of the bill.

Whilst grubs are a staple of any nest, those especially prized by ducklings are the delicacies provided by the durulz grub-peddlars, who in skiff, smack, punt or trow ply the waters of the Creek-Stream River, and -- for the daring -- the dank marsh-shore of the Upland Marsh. The pleasant rituals of these grub-boats vary little across the durulz lands. They are always heard before they are seen, for the boaters warble old tunes (albeit with a somewhat strident tempo, and an inconsistency of tone not entirely due to the doppler effect) that dance upon the wet air, and grow ever louder as the boat drifts closer.

The barest hint of the boater's song will send ducklings splashing through the water in giggling abandon, racing back to their steads and crying out to their nest-mothers, begging for a clack for the grub-boat. The mothers usually give in, and armed with a coin, or trinkets for barter, the ducklings repair back to the banks or marsh-shore where the grub-boat will have arrived. As they clamour and wave, the boater will peer at them in an almost disinterested manner, and offer two diffident quacks in query: why, perchance, did they want his wares?

At this the gathered ducklings reply in joyous chorus with three quacks, strong and cadenced. Yet for some reason the boater is still not 'sure' that he heard them, and will quack twice again, a little louder this time. Even in jest, this is more than many ducklings can bear, and they positively scream their reply of "QUACK! QUACK!QUACK!", stamping their flippers in the water in rhythmic accompaniment. Then the boater breaks into a new song, and with a mad, cheering rush the ducklings waddle into the water as the grubdrake opens his myriad boxes, bags and jars, some half-submerged, which his customers peruse in sing-song excitement.

The treasures of the grub-boat are greater than those of any myth! Grubs in all colours, shapes and sizes: harder grubs to suck before popping; big juicy ones to spatter the bill and feathers of naughty ducklings, who are scrubbed clean in feigned annoyance by their nest-mothers; or string ones that you can wind around one's finger or flick into a pondmate's feathers. There are pickled grubs soused in vinegar, larvae roasted to a crunchy husk, or morsels sprinkled with foreign spices.

With the Lunar invasion, and Fazzur the Fowler's duckhunts following Starbrow's Rebellion, the song of the grub-boat and happy merriment of ducklings alike have dwindled, all too faint to the ear. Still, the worst excesses of those horrors have passed, and grub-boats again ply the waters, albeit with fewer wares and customers.

The rites are the same, but the songs are sad, and all too often slurred by that bottle of Lunar gin a boater might keep stashed under his bench, next to his sword or crossbow. The grubdrake serves his customers quickly, and with a nervous eye, before he barks at the ducklings to waddle off and let him be about his business. The young depart, casting wary glances at those that linger in the shaded bows of the riverbank, burly pondfarmers, hobbled ducks of ill repute, and hooded drakes with scarred beaks and missing fingers.

They lope down as the ducklings depart, and the boater pulls from beneath his grubs his 'other' wares, over which he haggles with his customers in unbecoming language over a cup of gin. The duckling that peers at such transactions through the reeds sees the unhappy vices of adulthood, as drakes buy their Porthomekan coughing weed, and the boater surreptitiously passes into twitching hands little boxes and bags, which some whisper contains a very potent thing indeed: hazia.

Occasionally, when all is done, the grub-boat lingers for a while, until from the delves comes one of those bearded tall folk, blue-painted and bill-less, arms and necks ringed with bronze. The grub-drake communicates with him or her in hasty whispers, hand by beak, and may even sketch strange maps with a stick in the mud, ere he takes his pole and pushes off, his eyes ever on banks. Some ducklings even claim to have seen boaters talking in a similar fashion with the tall red folk at the fords and tolls, and seeing the glint of silver change hands as the wary grub-peddlars raise their arms in quick salute and mutter "Hail the Reaching Moon"...

(Originally posted on World of Glorantha, 20 April 2007.)

An Introduction

Thanks in no small part to the suggestion of Jane Williams, I've decided to knock up a quick blog; a blog with the express purpose of collating all the little tidbits on Gloranthan ducks that I've posted over the years (to various forums and in various degrees of seriousness), and to provide a home for anything further I might come up with.

Kind regards,