Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Keep it tight, Geoff...

Over the coming weeks, I'll be 'tightening up' a few of the past entries, mostly those that accompany the sketches done in late 2007. These were written in a very small space of time, and I'd only just started to explore some of my thoughts on the durulz of Dragon Pass and northern Maniria. New ideas come; old ones are restyled in the light of them and further explorations. Nothing major, and certainly nothing to change the imagery [forward the artistic proletariat of Glorantha; the words of bourgeois hackery have been defining things for too long], but some of the finer points might differ.

'Research' proceeds on my little King List Project. Which, truth be told, isn't a list, isn't always about kings and is not much of a project. The aim is to produce perhaps up to a dozen character-picture studies of past durulz kings and queens--who do and did exist in Glorantha, but we hear little of. Some are heroic, some... not. I've been carefully rereading the later Tales of the Reaching Moon, especially.

The aim, as you might have noticed with more recent contributions, is to attempt a slightly more deft, careful and applicable investigation of some aspects of ducks than I have attempted in the past. Which is not to say such are without humour or whimsy, but that they are hopefully a little more nuanced than the intentionally focused farce, pastiche and comedy (sub judice) that has preceded. I'd just like to try something a tiny bit different. Being a pole can be tiresome. Apparently.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Esrolian axehen (c. 1605)

M. Esrolian axehen (c. 1605). In addition to the ten thousand or so ducks living in Dragon Pass, the Pharaoh's agents once estimated that there were anywhere up to 40,000 dwelling in the southern reaches of Maniria. Though less is known of these largely tranquil folk than their, dare one say, rather more pugnacious brethren to the north, they occasionally venture into the pages of history. Lacking the particular influence of the Upland Marsh, elements of their culture and creed can seem somewhat different.

These durulz lived in peace in the Holy Country, possessing a reverence for their pharaonic protector that matched their fellows' for Sartar. Sadly the Pharaoh's death (the ducks prefer 'disappearance') has robbed them of much of their happiness and security. Now the cruel Wolf Pirates' longships set the shores ablaze, and barbaric vagabonds pillage their nests. The Holy Country durulz, who had proved a safe harbour for their nothern kin in the aftermath of Starbrow's Revolt, are raided and hunted by foes of their own.

Some have fled farther afield; others, particularly of a villainous persuasion, have even sought to join the pirates! But some have taken up arms to defend their nests and people, and spoken oaths to ancient and violent gods; oaths that had not been uttered in many a year.

This axehen is one such defender of the Manirian durulz. Living on the fringes of Esrolia, her clan had always followed the ways of the Earth closely. In peace this brought wisdom and bounty, but in war it has unleashed all the most savage, chthonic demons of myth. These durulz warrioresses are fearless, shrieking harridans, matching the Wolf Pirates' savagery with their own. They seek nothing more than to thrust their beaks into a still living man's guts, and drink his blood and bile. Though such fighters are more common now, there are tales of forebears fighting for the Pharaoh at the Battle of Building Wall (1605 S.T.).

She worships that deity the humans call Erantha Gor, the war-goddess who watches over the washing of the axes. Her patron's rune is marked upon her necklace, below that of a quieter time. She is largely unarmoured, dressed in an Esrolian kilt and ceremonial neck-rings, and carries a square shield, plated in copper and painted with the runes of Maran Gor, Babeester Gor and the Many-Mawed Mother. Her copper skull-and-beak-cap is peculiar to the durulz, providing some measure of protection to the forehead, eyes and bill.

Durulz religion: two perspectives

L. Durulz acolyte of The Stream, and hen crone (c. 1600). The mysteries of durulz religion are somewhat ... mysterious. Few outsiders have witnessed their greatest rites and ceremonies, and in the aftermath of the '13 this relative ignorance has been exacerbated, as the duckish diaspora went to ground. At the very simplest of levels, most travellers speak as though the durulz worship gods akin to the Storm and Earth pantheons, albeit with their own peculiar differences. Their preference for the Death God is much avowed, but more importantly a variety of clan and tribe godlings and nature entities, such as the Swan Mother, serve to differentiate the durulz from their neighbours.

The figure on the left is an acolyte of the local 'river god', The Stream. This ancient essence is the most powerful of the landscape entities in the Durulz Valley, and very important to the riverine ducks. That said, it is cloaked in an aura of mystery for many, for its ways and wants tend to be guarded by a strange sect of durulz priests. Though many nests occasionally teach the most basic of clumsy spells and rites to their fisherducks and boaters, these are paltry magics, usually learnt in legend from the denizens of the waterway, and not The Stream itself.

It is the acolytes, usually itinerants, who learn the greater powers and often guard them from their kin: to be able gaze into its depths, to sense the currents and, most important of all, to summon the undines that are its children. These acolytes form a curious lot; lacking truly beneficent magics, they are often viewed as trouble-makers. Indeed the undines they summon are very powerful and difficult to control; mostly they are summoned by small groups of chanting acolytes, who strain themselves to retain power of the magical waters. These adherents often make pilgrimages into the mountains, to visit the sacred pools and birthplace of their 'god'.

On the right is a venerable wiseduck, a crone priestess of the Earth Mother. She is a great repository of lore and learning, and crouches upon her seat of honour: a giant stone egg. Her great age is shown by the four copper medallions that hang from her neck, each one representing in runic form a great stage in her life. Among female durulz, these necklaces are easy gauges of socio-religious power and prestige. They do not always conform to Heortling notions of generations in the Earth Tribe, but momentous stages in one's life. The four runes on this crone are, in sequence, those of the goddesses the Heortlings call Voria, Maran Gor, Ernalda the Queen and Asrelia.