Duck Towers

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Created On 20 May 1998
Last Updated On 20 May 1998
Copyright (c) Simon E. Phipp 1998

When Delecti created the Upland Marsh, many of the denizens were pleased that they would be protected from the Infernal Horde that was approaching. However, there were some of the Duruluz, or Ducks, who were enemies of Delecti. During the latter days of the Empire, there were many in the courts who needed entertainment and were cruel. They took the duruluz and dressed them in gaudy clothing, forcing them to dance, act, sing, fight and make love for the amusement of the courts. When the Empire turned sour, some of the Duruluz escaped and swore revenge on those who had mocked them. Even though Delecti had never engaged Ducks as jesters many of the rebels blamed him as one of the Rulers. [When the Empire had ventured into the World of Myth, they had found strange and wonderful things there which they tried to recreate in the world. They remade some people in the forms of the Beast Folk they had seen. Delecti was one of the Remakers involved in creating the Race of Ducks. For this, some ducks hated him.]

The Ducks who hated Delecti decided to betray him and to lead the approaching Horde to Delecti's Manor, now at the heart of a maze of swamps and marshes. The Infernal Horde approached from three directions. From the East came the Nomads whose great beasts terrified the ducks. From the North and West came the Sun Folk whose Brightness and Majesty drove the Ducks away. However, from the South came normal people, amongst whom were grim, sword-wielding Death Dealers. The Ducks recognised something about them that was connected with their creation and approached them. These people treated them with Dignity and Honour and offered their help. They did not mock or patronise the Ducks and many of the rebels joined their cult of Humakt. Using secret ways known only to the Ducks, the Infernal Horde took their best warriors and attacked Delecti's Mansion, killing the Demigod.

The Infernal Horde moved on and attacked the Dragons' Nests, causing the retribution known as DragonKill. In the aftermath of that event, the Ducks and other survivors picked over the battlefields, collecting spoils. Those who had joined the grim death cult carefully aid to rest those who had died, taking the artefacts of their cult into safe-keeping. Cult Spirits recognised their honour and spoke to them, guiding them when they returned to the Upland Marsh. By this time, Delecti had revealed the monsters hen had created and had expanded his army with those who had fled the DragonKill and ventured into the Upland Marsh. The Spirits of the Ducks' grim cult told them to fight the abominations they found in the Upland Marsh. Over the following years there was war between the Ducks and Marsh Undead until Delecti gave them a choice - leave the Marsh or be killed. After much negotiation they came to an agreement that the Humakti Ducks could live near to the Upland Marsh and that the Undead of the Marsh would not bother them and Delecti would not expand his realm into the Ducks' territory.

The Ducks settled onshore in the lands to the South of the Upland Marsh now known as DuckVale. There they built villages like the cities of the old Empire and lived in peace. As their numbers increased, the Ducks expanded and created small settlements around the Upland Marsh. These settlements were populated by Humakti Ducks and effectively kept the denizens of the Marsh in check. With the exception of the occasional raid into the Marsh or retaliatory attacks, the Humakti Ducks lived in safety.

After many years, the first humans moved into Dragon Pass from the South. The ducks had never known humans but remembered their friends from the Southlands. They tried to deal with their new neighbours, but two tribes saw their lands and coveted the lush farmlands. The Colymar and Lismelder tribes attacked the Ducks who were no match against the well-armed humans, even though the Ducks had Humakti warriors, and drove the Ducks back into the Upland Marsh. Without the Duck settlements, Delecti had no reason to curb his expansion and three years later he moved into the Ducks' land, expanding the Marshes, burning the Colymari farms and killing those he met, adding them to his army. When the humans sent an army into the Marshes it was ambushed by Ducks and destroyed. Its leader, Kurash Varn, was returned with his arms kept as hostages. When the humans surrendered, his arms were restored and he became a firm Duck Friend. The Colymari retreated from the lands, but the Lismelder tribe stayed and became Duck Friends, following their kinsman, and put themselves under the protection of the Ducks. The Ducks repopulated their old settlements, helped and strengthened by their Lismelder allies.

Then came Sartar who approached with words of peace and friendship. He spoke secret words to the Ducks and accepted them as equals in his Kingdom, creating the walls of Duckpoint and promising to strengthen the Ducks' small forts. After he became a god, Sartar's son Saronil and grandson Jarolar continued support for the Ducks and strengthened the Humakti settlements around the Upland Marsh, building a series of watchtowers and Humakti Shrines. These Towers were generally manned by Duck Humakti and succeeded in holding back the Upland Marsh. Many tried to find out the Ducks' secret powers against the Marshes but failed. The secret was two-fold. First, Delecti's secret truce still held and he would not expand past the Towers. Second, the Shrines of Humakt pitted the power of Death against the half-death of the Marsh which foundered and died. For this reason, the waters around the Duck Towers wee clearer and less fertile than elsewhere in the Upland Marsh.

The Duck Towers generally took the form of a Humakti Temple, a small fort, a few other buildings such as shops, inns, maybe a small hospital and occasionally shrines to other friendly deities. The smallest Towers held around a hundred Duck Humakti and consisted of a fort, a Temple and a small village for the Humakti's families and friends. The largest was the size of a small town with temples to Chalana Arroy and other deities including spots holy to both the Sun and Moon. This Tower was created by those seeking outside help against the denizens of the Marsh, but was destroyed after a retributive strike by a Zorak Zoran gang after a botched HeroQuest attack on their Shadow Plateau Temple.

Over the years individual Towers were attacked by enemies. The Humakti Ducks made enemies amongst the Kitori and Shadows Dance Trolls. Occasionally a Tower was attacked by Grazelanders or the Sartarite tribes, sometimes Chaos boiled from the Snake Pipe Hollow or the Upland Marsh and trashed a Tower. When Sartar went to war the Humakti Ducks supplied many warriors, many of whom never returned. Whenever a Tower was sacked Delecti and his forces overran the area before it could be resettled, turning the surrounding into marsh, filling the forts with zombies and ghosts. Slowly but surely the Duck Towers were neutralised and swallowed up. After Starbrow's Rebellion the Ducks were outlawed and made scapegoats. Some of the Humakti went into hiding in the marshes, some left for the River of Cradles but a few holed up in the last Duck Tower which was sacked soon afterwards.

Now, the Duck Towers are lost in the Marshes, rarely mentioned by Ducks to outsiders. Occasionally, adventurers will stumble across old ruins and may dare the dangers inside. Sometimes, Humakti HeroQuestors will Quest to reactivate a Temple or force the Marsh back, opening one of the Towers up for public inspection. Unless the Tower is quickly resettled, however, the Tower will once again be swallowed up.

Even though it is only a generation since the last Towers were destroyed, they are not well known and have been forgotten by most people. This is for several reasons. Most Ducks will not discuss their failures with outsiders. Humakti Ducks have been hunted down and tend to be reticent loners. However, when they hear of a rediscovered Tower they will often flock to it before it is hidden once more. The surrounding humans do not like to acknowledge the Ducks' power in the area and will play down their contributions. Delecti himself does not like to gloat about his conquests, especially as they still hold back the Marsh. Even though the Towers are deactivated they still hold the power of Death enchanted within their walls and weaken the Marsh around them to such an extent that the Marsh cannot advance for more than a few miles past the Towers.

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