From: Eric Rowe (rowe@CSUA.Berkeley.EDU)
Date: Mon 22 May 1995 - 07:23:31 EEST
When Arkat was a Duck: A true legend from the Durulz
Long, long ago, when the world was young, the mighty Empire of Ganderland stretched from the land of the Salamander folk to the Scalding River. Grandmother Duck led her people in the Dance of Happiness, and all was good. This paradise lasted through the majority of the Golden Age. Alas, a bright god took unrightful possession of the Sky Pillar, and his flames cast cruel shadows over Ganderland.
This god was Yelm the Terrible, and upon usurping the Throne of the Gods he cast his evil glance upon the peaceful Empire of Ganderland. Lust grew in his bowels for the lush marshes and rivers of Ganderland and took control of his mind. Yelm the Mighty raised himself from the Throne and pronounced Ganderland to be a land of the Sun, banishing the true people from it. Without the care of Grandmother Duck, the land shriveled in the blazing sunlight to the worthless desert it remains today.
The true people, Durulz, were granted a small island far to the Northeast. Grandmother Duck led them to this barren island across the boiling ocean. When they arrived they found some food, and many fish, but not enough to feed all the hungry Ducks. With tears streaming down her beak Grandmother Duck taught her people the Dance of Despair (also called the Dance of Tears, or the Dance of Severance). This dance would enable family members to leave their loved ones. Without it, a Durulz's family instincts are so strong that they would be drawn back to their family, whether they wanted to or not. Those who were strongest of heart and body volunteered to leave, danced the Dance of Despair, and left their families for all time.
These brave heroes then began the March of Feathers. Across the raging sea they travelled, past the Dark and Light Mountains and land of Yellow Elves. Creatures of the night attacked them, hunger chased them through the Wastelands. But, still they endured. Finally they reached Dragon Island, where the humans of the area worshipped storm gods, not the Bright God Yelm. Over 100,000 Durulz had begun the March of Feathers, a mere 500 or so remained to claim their new home.
In their new home among the Dragons the Durulz lived in peace again for many ages. They survived the Dark times, after Yelm the Coward fled the sky to escape the coming Chaos. The first Dawn found them blissfully happy under a sky ruled by Orlanth, Rightful King of the Gods. This peace too was not to last, for Yelm the Deceiver came again in another guise, that of Bright Nysalor, who is Gbaji.
Gbaji who is Yelm again claimed the Rulership of the World. He used Dwarven machines and Elf arrows to enforce his rule. Conflict among the priests of Orlanth weakened him and allowed Gbaji to rule with an Iron Hand. Ruled, that is, until the coming of Arkat.
Arkat was the Great Heroquestor. He and his armies had swept the chaotic armies of Gbaji from Ralios years earlier. More recently he had crushed the forces of twisted light in Slontos. Arkat's Army of Rightiousness then sailed to the Heortland to invade Dragon Pass and repel the forces of Gbaji. Unfortunately, Gbaji had stationed in the south his best general, Palangio the Iron Vrok. Palangio had created an impenetrable defense along the shore. Dwarven fortresses lined the coast and were manned by the finest troops from the Army of Light. Arkat had been temporarily stopped again.
What made Arkat great was that whenever a problem arose he would Heroquest and bring back a solution. This time there was nothing to bring back. All was not lost, though, for the Durulz knew that Arkat was trying to invade. Alefor the Hero, may his name be blessed, undertook the journey reach him. At one time Alefor had to hold his breath for two days, but he finally snuck through Gbaji's forces and reached Arkat.
Alefor brought with him a present for Arkat, two Magical Feather Cloaks. Each and every Durulz in the land had contributed their One Best Feather and the Priestess of Grandmother Duck sewed them together. Arkat took one, gave the other to his second, Makla Mann, and the three of them began to swim upstream on their return. The spies of the Iron Vrok frequently flew overhead, but when they did so Arkat and the others simply dipped their heads underwater and let them view their unprovoking tailfeathers.
Finally, the Three Heroes arrived at the home of the Eldest Duck. Arkat explained to him how his forces were not strong enough to invade. The Eldest Duck thought long and hard until he realized the solution. This he whispered to Arkat.
When Arkat returned from his Heroquest, Makla Mann and Alefor were waiting. Arkat explained that the forces of light could not be vanquished by those from a distant land who knew nothing of the land's magics. Only if the Orlanthi of the land could be convinced to join the foreign army could they succeed. But, the Orlanthi were not united, and they feared and hated foreigners of any kind. Makla Mann was the only hope.
Makla Man was a powerful priest of Humath, Orlanth's stormy brother. He had led the Humathi Ralian's in throwing of the yoke of Gbaji years earlier with Arkat's aid. Now though, Arkat had a terrible request to ask of him. He asked him to betray his god.
There was no doubt in his mind when Makla Mann chose to follow Arkat's orders. For this his people cast him from their family, though we who understand his sacrifice revere him for it. Malka Mann would now follow the new god whom Arkat had returned with from his Quest. This was Orlanth's Sword, which was named Humakt, in honor of Makla Mann's sacrifice. Then Arkat taught Makla Mann the Dance of Severance, so that he could live with his sacrifice.
Makla Mann then went among the Orlanthi and preached the word of the Sword. Brave Orlanthi, who like the Durulz heroes of old, saw their duty and followed the Sword. They danced the Dance of Despair to sever their ties with their families, in order to be able to join the foreign army and fight Gbaji.
When they were ready, they struck. The Legion of Death, lead by Arkat, Makla Mann, Alefor and the other Ducks danced the Dance of Battle, then struck deep into the barriers of Palangio's defenses. This weakened them enough for the whole army to land. After three days of fighting, Arkat's forces triumphed and the land was freed again from Yelm's oppressive rays.
For the rest of his life Makla Mann kept his cloak, and when the need arose he was never afraid to show his tailfeathers to anyone. Arkat, on the other hand, burned his and became a troll. But before he did, he danced the Dance of Tears so that we would not miss him, and for that we honor him.
End of Glorantha Digest V1 #288
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