Monday, 7 January 2008

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.