Death, Ducks, and Death Ducks

Season, Week, Day

1625, Fire Season

PCs:


As before, the log will be recounted with extracts from Berra JarangsdottiHumaktisaga1Who precisely Berra Jarang’s Daughter was remains unclear from the sources. She is clearly labelled a follower of the Death Cult Humakt, and from mention of her laughing as she slays, it is clear she is at least in the limited extracts which have come down to us, a devoted follower of that fell God. Her fate, and why she had a saga written to her are the subject for future discoveries, if archaeology will be kind enough.While the author is kind enough to indicate some gaps in the records, the degree of precision required seems rather more than normal. Extant we have the afore-mentioned Berra JarangsdottiHumaktiSaga and the later dated ‘Saga of Berra’, as well as multiple other oral sources. or from The Sonnets to Mellia, Sweetest of Healers, White Lady of Esrolia,2Mellia (or sometimes Melia) is clearly in these cycles intended to be the counterpoint to Berra- a direct opposite, as it were, to show empathy and humanity, and a gentle firmness which is utterly lacking in the Death Cultist. Therefore some authors (Wiermonken et al) have suggested that they are intended to be read in conjunction. The Lay of Serala, Lance of the Cold Sun,3The differences in style regarding Serala have led some interpreters to suggest that she (as the pure Knight) is a later interpolation to the myth cycle (cf Lancelot), but others have indicated a belief that this is a deliberate stylistic indication of the Sky/Air patheon dichotomy in this area. or The Death of Rajar.4It is unclear why this work is labelled ‘The Death of Rajar’, when virtually the whole thing does not relate to death. Wiermonken argued persuasively that this was another Arthurian parallel, since similarly ‘le Mort d’Arthur‘ consists not of death, but of rescuing heroines, knocking other knights off horses, etc. Garin (Altn3.4, pp 34-36) argues that the parallels to the Arthurian cycle are nothing more than coincidence, and posits that an Ur-text of the Matter of Glorantha would contain Aristea, designed to show the high valour of the heroes, before the inevitable fall to some higher valour, as they are out-competed in story. “Insertions will occur” in a cynical voice, of a manipulative outsider to these heroics, which is labelled in the literature as ‘The Q voice’.5The Q voice is the subject of much debate. It comes down to us in early records of all of these works, as a linking element. That he is not intended to be an omniscient ‘author voice’ is clear from the errors it makes. It has been suggested (Fox et al) that in fact Q is not merely a linking commentator on all the sources, but is in fact the authorial voice of all of them, giving a cynical interpretation of the heroically depicted narrative he has issued. The opinion of scholars on this vital question (where they can be bothered to comment) remains divided. Footnotes for the interested are included at the bottom of the extracts. [Editorial comments will be bracketed thus.]


Bright blade borne before
Berra Brave and Mellia fair
Led great loot from Prax
Laid before their Liege.

Rhino Riders rod reared
in minds, ripped from Razig.
Venna’s vaunted vale
Left they valour valueing.

Rode they right, Rising
from Rest Razig with Gifts.
Exchanged staff and sword
Seeing Berra’s Soul Strong.

Her friend not yet pressed down by death
Sweet Mellia exhaled a weary breath
For gifts to lost Storm Bull
Did against her stuff of Life most keenly pull.

“Honestly, it’s a wonder they survived anything before they had more pragmatic heads with them.”

[This recounts the threads of “How Berra obtained Wind Tooth”. This is the subject of a longer poem, dated some centuries after the events of the Hero Wars, and by a second rate poet. It should be read only out of a wish for completeness. In summary, the generosity of a gift to the dead Storm Khan was rewarded by a gift (his sword) in return, but only after a few moments of spiritual struggle.]

With Happiness and lighter heart
She Venna’s valewards then did start
And Humakt’s sword that burns
To Ernalda’s ploughshare turns.

So then did Armies homewards wend away
To seek to fight upon another day
And so did heroes seek their fate
And with Arachne’s web another date.

[The army called it a day for the campaign season, and started to split up, to go home. Berra, Rajar, Qidane, and Mellia decided to travel en masse to Boldhome, in Berra and Mellia’s case as a step towards going to Berra’s home for harvest, stopping at Whitewall.]

Falling in, a bard- heroic strong
And noble joined their throng.
Handsome, sweet tongued, brave
And never called by any, knave.6This stanza is part of Fox’s rather convoluted argument that Q is not just a commentator on the text, but also both the author of all of the texts, as well as one of the Party of Heroes. I have tentatively hazarded, if this is the case, that the God being followed is Eurmal, with a sort of breaking of the 4th wall which has previously been seen in the works of W. Wilson.

His name unknown but clearly great
To so record our heroes fate
And also then Urox’s chosen man
From Bison’s great but hirsute clan.

[Here the narratives of MelliaBerra, and Rajar intersect, clearly also with the “Q voice”, at the division of the army of Argrath at the end of Fire Season, 1625, to return home for the harvest. This separation of the activities of Death and Life is used by the author(s) to draw attention to the unnatural findings on the Whitewall hilltop later in the works.]

Wyrd wandering
Bison Lord went a riding
To Burn-ed Whitewall

Death lady leading
Brave Storm Bison was bold
Lofty hill scaling.

[Berra and Rajar thought it’d be a good idea to go to a hill-fort city which had been the site of a major massacre, without taking their healer with them. Or checking for rumours. Or scouting ahead. Or…. well, taking a massive number of men. This seems to have been with the intent of finding their respective temples.]

Dead men lay dreaming
Dreams apart from Sword Lord arms
Woken by warriors

Cleft shield of Rajar
But heroes bold blades flashing
Brought sleep eternal back

[The pair of them survived the first couple of zombies, and decided to pull a ‘Sir Robin’ manoever to return down the hill!]

(the text of this segment is partly lost, beginning mid line) The lady rode then out
Her heart not scorned nor filled with doubt
But with Yelm’s most noble Son
Her faultless courage Godlike, won
From many a fight or battle sweet
And wielded yet with passion meet
For Princess, Queen, or Priestess poised
And virtue ‘fore her noised
And thus it was it came to be
That she did Whitewall’s ruins see.
Full far they stretched across the hill
And ‘neath it lay against a rill
The lost rem’nant of lost Sartar
A fairest city fallen far!

[And here we see another common motif of these works, which supports the suggestion they are by a common hand. The Hero, representing some important aspect of the heroic gestalt is drawn by fate to a place where she will meet with her companions.]

[Our heroes got together, and realised things were a ‘bit wrong’ up on top of the hill. A zombie having shoved a sword through Rajar’s shield was a definite clue. The fact that almost anybody in the ‘town’ could have told them if the fighting types had thought to ask will not be lingered on.]

Waifs Attended him
White and Sun and Sword Ladies7It is unclear if the author intends the waifs to refer to the gossips of the “city” at Whitewall, or to Rajar’s fellow heroes. It is possible this ambiguity is deliberate.
Awaiting on Wyrd

“Looks like the tall brave hero is found!”

[Q rallied everyone to be full of enthusiasm to follow Rajar to storm the hilltop. Which is when the door opened, and a duck walked/waddled in, wearing the rune of Death on his eyepatch, and an iron sword and helmet.]

Proclaim-ed hero
To lead the storm way lofty
To D’Val he duck’d8Remarks along these lines suggest that whilst ‘The Death of Rajar’ is written in the classic Praxian format, the author is from a culture where the tragic Drulz/Ducks are figures of fun. This barely narrows things at all, but a pun like that would work best in Esrolian, although some other languages have similar junctures between this short race, and lowering ones head (See Oversized Esrolian Dictionary for similar etymological discussions)

[D’Val the Sword is a Hero of the Humakti (or Hum-Quack-ti) of whom only a fragmentary cycle exists. He is clearly intended to play against the normal tropes of the Duck. The similarities of his name to Devolin, a common clown figure normally played by a duck in the Mysterio Buffo is intriguing, but of unclear relevance.]


What Really Happened

Berra reported to Venna and then she and Mellia went back to the Storm Khan’s corpse, as they felt the rhino goad they had taken as loot might belong to him. Although he had a plain one, Berra hooked on the ornately jewelled one too, out of respect for a warrior, and maybe sentimentality. This summoned the spirit of Razig, who tested Berra’s mettle in spirit combat, and when she did not give before him, told her to take his sword Wind Tooth as a reciprocal gift.

Berra invited Mellia to guest with her clan over the Earth Season, and they started travelling that way as Argrath’s army broke up for the harvesting. As they approached Whitewall they fell in with some other travellers on the road. Whitewall was an oddity – it was a hill fort, but there was a shanty city below it. Mellia went to look for the temple of Chalana Aroy, down in the slums. Berra followed the bison rider she had been casually talking with, assuming he knew where he was going. As this was a Storm Bull, this turned out to be wrong. On the way up to the hill fort, they found bodies that had neither been buried nor rotted. Berra marked the first with the rune of death, to lay it, but then two others started to get up, and she and the Storm Bull Rajar killed one each, then went back down the hill to greet the horrified guards who had not realised they had gone that way, but were relieved to find them coming back.

Within the city, Qidane the Trickster was listening to rumours and heard about the deaths (and subsequent undeaths) that had made the hill fort uninhabitable. Apparently a Humakti hero had been sent for. He was expected to be eight feet tall, with eyes of fire, by the hopeful locals. Qidane sought out the bar where Rajar and Berra had settled in, along with Serala and Mellia, as a base of operations. It helped that it was the only solid-walled inn they could find. Qidane inspired the locals to want to fight, trying to build up to revealing that Rajar was the hero sent to purge the hillside, while Serala and Berra volunteered and found volunteers, arranging to meet the next morning before dawn, to prepare to sweep the top.

At that point, the true Humakti hero arrived. He was somewhat over four feet tall, being a duck. However, nobody laughed, and he was in full agreement with the plan of meeting early the next morning. Mellia volunteered to go up the hillside where Jaldis, the High Priestess, had not.


Notable Moments and Quotes

“The armour fits me like a jelly mould. I’m a larrrge man, who eats well.”

Rajar

You utter bastard!
(dear god’s you bastard Tom)- Rajar’s player.

“Whatthhh a Duck got to do to get thome rethpect around here?”- Devolin
“Not be a Duck”- Serala

“After a while you start to smell the delicate eau de campsite.” – GM

“He’s riding a Buffalo, Bison, same thing.”- Rajar
“I believe you can’t wash your hands in a Buffalo.”- Berra

“Who did she roll better than? Because I’ve got some stuff to sell them.” – Q.

“A Cloak of Elviskind?”- Mellia

“Qidane Spivsson.” – Berra

Berra just hangs about looking like she wants to eat swords and poo murder.- Berra

“So there I was accidentally declared to be the Humakti sword-lord…”- Berra

“We’ve got the band manager!”- Berra, about Qidane

“How big was that guy who was riding the smelly thing I was walking behind, and sometimes in?” – Qidane

“The armour fits me like a jelly mould. I’m a larrrge man, who eats well.” – Rajar

“Sniff for Chaos, otherwise chill”- Rajar

“Wise? I didn’t say it would be wise. I said it would be valiant.” – Rajar

“You’re trying to persuade me to fight. I already agreed.” – Rajar
“I have a bad feeling about this.” – Mellia
“It’s important to get public buy-in.” – Q

“And that is the point at which the door swings open.” – GM
“Spin round. Remembering I have a bard in my hand.” – Rajar

“Yes, Praise be indeetd to Humacktd!” – D’val

“Try to remember I have a bard in one hand and an axe in one hand, and which hand is which.” – Rajar

“Oh bother. I said Boldhome. I meant Whitewall”- GM

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