Thursday, 8 May 2008

Keepers and Gabbungs: durulz politics

Those that are fortunate to spend a little time at the court of the durulz kings and queens will hear frequent use made of a couple of strange words in the quarrelsome, warbling argot that constitutes the tongue of that place. (The durulz speak a dialect of Theyalan that is very similar to Heortling, even if at times their enunciation might indicate otherwise.)

These two terms are Keeper and Gabbung, and refer to what we might crudely label political parties at the durulz court. Both appear to date back to the later 1300s S.T., around the time of the so-called Duck Wars, when the Heortling migrations led to conflict between the Durulz Tribe on the one hand, and the Colymar and Lismelder on the other.

The word Keeper is a corruption of the older Theyalan form ciepa, or 'merchant'. There is much speculation that the durulz only succeeded in defeating the invading Heortlings through the aid of Delecti, that foul necromancer of the Marsh. In durulz legend, this treaty or 'trade' is pejoratively titled 'Giltwit's Bargain', though many wereducks flat-out refuse to believe that King Giltwit ever made such an enterprise, the idea being abhorrent to them.

Be those charges real or imagined, it is known that Giltwit made and received an embassy with Delecti in 1382 S.T. Those who supported Giltwit's parlay with the Necromancer were called ciepas by their detractors, accused of 'selling out' the durulz to their often-times enemy. It is ironic that the modern form, Keeper, indicates retention, whereas the original intent had been to indicate deprivation.

The opponents of the Keepers were known as the Gabbungs. Gabbung (and the cognate gaffetung, in older dialects) was a contemporary word that meant 'scoffing' or 'mocking'. As durulz then, as now, tended to voice their opposition vocally in very loud, fractious terms, those who opposed Giltwit's counsels gave good return for their moniker.

These two terms have persisted through to the current day, but the events, characters and persuasions they have described over the last two centuries have often been quite different to those that marked the original Keepers and Gabbungs all those years ago. Indeed, the very nomenclature itself can be more problematic than helpful.

In addition to the specific reasoning vis-a-vis Giltwit's Bargain--the association of the Gabbungs with a more rabidly anti-Delectiite stance, relative to the Keepers--Keeper came to mean an associate of the 'court party' of the time, close to the king's confidence and patronage; while Gabbung came to mean a general 'opposition party', typically constituted by those thanes opposed to the king and/or his court, and usually out of favour.

Thus, if a new king came to the throne, those that were once called Gabbungs by some could soon be reconstituted as Keepers, and vice versa. Indeed, after the death of Giltwit, the new king, Hardshins the Leperbeak, was brought in on a tide of Gabbung support. Those Gabbungs that had decried Giltwit and his Keepers now formed the core of the court, and gave the king his counsel.

As might be expected, the terms Keeper and Gabbung enjoyed a renaissance at the time of Sartar's Promise, and more recently with the Lunar invasion and pogroms. In the former case, the term Keeper was used to define those most favourable to Sartar; whilst in the latter, the Gabbungs have constituted that most violent and implacable font of durulz opposition to the Moonmen.