Why Ducks Don't Lay Eggs



Send comments and/or criticism to Simon E. Phipp
Created On 1 April 2001
Last Updated On 15 April 2001
Copyright © 2001 Simon E. Phipp


Once, when the world was younger than now, a duck flew over the Spike and landed on its slopes. This duck was sad, he thought that something was missing from his life and had flown around trying to find what it was. He saw the Gods and their adventures, the forests and oceans and he had seen the newer races, the trolls, elves and humans, but he could not find what was missing.

The duck saw Old Man walking towards him, whistling a tune. He knew of Old Man as he had made the trolls, elves and humans and always seemed to be happy, so he decided to ask Old Man what was missing from his life. "Only you know that," said Old Man, "but I can help you find out." The duck agreed, no matter what the cost. With that, Old Man took some soil from the Spike and formed it into a mud pack and smeared the duck with this mud pack until he was totally covered. Then Old Man breathed his magic over the duck and the mud caked hard and split into two pieces, and the duck found that he too had broken into two pieces, each different from the other and each different from what he had been before. The two halves stood up and started to rub the mud off with their hands. Then they stopped and quacked because previously they had only wings, now they had hands like the trolls, elves and humans. After a while, they carried on cleaning themselves until one duck noticed that the other had changed his feathers and now wore a female's plumage! He had a mate who was the same as he was and different to all the other ducks. He now realized that he had found something of what he had been missing and they both thanked Old Man.

The two ducks walked down the slopes of the Spike, for they could no longer fly, but they were happy that they could do other things. They walked and swam along the rivers and explored the world as new people, doing what came naturally to them. After a while, they realized that they did not know what to do and decided to ask Old Man to tell them, so they went out to search for him. After many miles of walking and swimming, they came to a trail where Old Man's footprints could clearly be seen and they followed his tracks. Soon, they walked over a small hill and saw Old Man talking to two Gods, one of whom seemed very cunning and a bad one and the other who held a shining sword. The ducks ran over the hill and down the other side, but when they climbed the next hill they saw Old Man lying on the ground and the Swordsman sheathing his sword. When the gods had left, the ducks came to Old Man and tried to talk to him, but he did not reply as he was dead. The ducks did not understand this as all the gods could knit themselves together again even after a sword fight and they became afraid. After some animated quacking, they decided that if they could not follow Old Man then they would follow his slayer, as he would be more powerful than Old Man.

Running swiftly, they came to the camp where the Bad One and the Swordsman were sitting beside a fire, and they asked to speak. The Swordsman invited them in, as he knew the Laws of Hospitality, and asked them what they wanted to say. "We want to serve the one who slew our Master, Old Man." said the female. The Swordsman laughed and said that even Eurmal could not have come up with a better joke than this. The Bad God looked hurt at this and suggested that Humakt set these two a task to prove their worth. Since Humakt was trapped by the Laws of Hospitality, he could not refuse and told the ducks to stand guard at this spot beside the River until one of his relatives came to relieve them. Then the two Gods broke camp and headed away.

The ducks took up their positions and stood guard. However, the female realized that she was heavy with eggs and must soon build a nest and sit down to lay them, but the male told her that she could not do this. They waited and waited until a wolf crept up to them and snarled at them. The female hefted her sword and frightened the wolf back, but in doing so she relaxed a little and one of her eggs dropped and rolled towards the wolf. Immediately, the wolf leapt on the egg and stole it away, crunching it between its jaws. As they guarded, a Rubble Runner came close and almost entered the camp site, but the male rushed towards it and scared it off, but this startled the female who dropped another egg that the Rubble Runner also ate. Her third egg was lost to an eagle that dropped from the sky and threatened to carry her away. Her fourth egg was eaten by a snake that slid from the River nearby. Her fifth egg was devoured by a lizard that had hid under a rock and her sixth egg fell when the Sky went dark and it smashed to the ground. [1] Still terrified, the two ducks stood their ground and waited for the next dangers, even though the female knew that she only had one egg remaining. Then came Yinkin, who was the first of the Alynxes, the Shadow Cats. Yinkin slinked around the camp and waited to see what was happening. The ducks ran towards him to drive him away, but he simply moved to one side and came back. Again and again this happened until the ducks grew tired. Then the female screamed in pain as the egg within her hatched and a duckling emerged and fell to the ground. Yinkin laughed and, instead of snatching the duckling away, said "I have never seen a duck that gave birth like a woman, you must be my friends. Come with me to my camp where my brother Orlanth celebrates the slaying of the Evil Emperor." The ducks knew that Orlanth was the brother of Humakt, so this must be his kinsman, sent to relieve them of duty, so they followed Yinkin to Orlanth's Camp where they learnt how to behave. [2]

At Orlanth's Camp they were taught how to fight, how to live and how to honour the gods, but they could not find their master, Humakt, no matter how hard they searched. Eventually someone told them how Humakt had severed his links with the Storm Tribe and had left the Storm Camp. Reluctantly, the ducks decided that they could not stay in Orlanth's Camp and decided to return to the campsite where they first met Humakt. There they made their nests and raised their families and there the descendants of those two ducks [3] still live, sworn to Humakt's service and friendly to the Orlanthi who live nearby. [4]
 

Notes


1. These are the Six Dangers that young ducks are warned about.

2. Duck culture shares some similarities to Theyalan culture because they were taught by the Storm Tribe. Many ducks join the cult of Orlanth to honour this heritage.

3. The two ducks are known as Grandfather Duck and Grandmother Duck and are honoured by the shamans of the ducks and also in small shrines in duck nests.

4. This is the lands now covered by the Upland Marsh and still guarded by the ducks, although now they guard against Delecti's Undead rather than any outside foe.

[End]