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.