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.)