Gebl is an apocryphal tragic-comic figure of Brownie legend, possibly the best-known ‘folk hero’ outside his own race and culture, as evidenced by his commemoration in no less than three Tharian household words. Larger than life, sardonic and lusty, crude yet witty, this pragmatic wanderer left his mark on the human world as broadly as his own. Gebl is also often referred to as Gebl the Brownie, Gebl the Unsated, Great Gebl, Gebl the Rebel - and other less printable epithets...

Appearance. There is of course a certain amount of debate, given the vast length of time between Birn’s Civil War/Harsh Year historic records and our modern-day "Tales of Gebl", over this Brownie’s appearance. While legend claims (and most artistic depictions agree) that he was a disaffected Greenbark aristocrat, it is more likely that he was simply one of the numerous Birnine Brownbarks who suffered greatly in the "Years of the Knives", as the horrific Collapse of Birn was sometimes referred to. And even to allow this narrow a choice we must make the assumption (see Biography) that Gebl’s most likely years of existence – if in fact he was more than an agglomeration of wishes, tales, and fantasies – lie in that genocidal period from 10.010 b.S. onward.

However, we shall provide you with the various evidence for both colourations and allow you to choose the face of Gebl which suits you the best... read on!

Those writers and artists who prefer the romantic view depict Gebl with softly olivine skin, green as the baych leaves rustling behind his nobly-formed head, lean and muscular with one of the traditional
Brownie weapons nestled in his hand – perhaps an owl bow, a tall spear, or a mousesling – a hero of the forest and an upholder of the old ways.

Far too many other sources, however, seem to suggest a Gebl with an ample belly on a burly frame – a generously-endowed
Brownie with a rolling, silent gait - broad shoulders, thick, almost feminine thighs, and a constant passion burning in his eyes. What are we to make of a sentient being who is reported to have put back twenty-two "acorns" of ale in an evening’s drinking (an "acorn" is a Browniin liquid measurement roughly equivalent to our "tot", or cup), to have spent his nights and his lust in a different bed each night, and to have wrestled wild-caught weasels hand-to-paw in a test of speed and strength?

A depiction of this latter Gebl which is a favourite of ours, though scholars should not admit to such personal prejudices, is displayed boldly on the sign of a little-known New-Santhalan inn, “The
Brownie's Bottom”. Despite its provocative name, the illustration is completely safe to reproduce here, showing as it does the folk hero with beer mug (anachronistic, we feel we must put in) tipped fully upwards over his opened mouth...

We have winnowed what we could, remembering that we are giving you a picture of a character so far back in history that he is nearly legend. Most of what we can glean comes from contemporaries, of course, such as these quotes from writers of the time, but later authors have also left their mark on the Gebl biography. Read and frame your own picture in your mind's eye of the Brownie we can so clearly imagine...
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Personality. The following sayings have come down to us from various sources as disparate in age as the legends of Gebl himself, sharing some light on his unique personality. The thin monograph which is popularly known as “The Sayings of Gebl: Philosopher of the Brownies” is of course a modern collation which owes as much to the various authorial inventions as to Keekoo’s authentic research. Some of the aphorisms are as old as the Kingdom of Birn itself and have doubtless been ‘ascribed’ to the figure of Gebl as a convenient authority, while others, containing internal evidence of far more recent chronology, have been labeled as Gebl’s "after the fact". Thus we have few, if any, words which we can definitely ascribe to the historical character of the Harsh Years. And of course they suffer in translation from the free-flowing Browniin into our comparatively harsh Tharian!

Again, however, it is our task to set before you a depiction in broad strokes, in which you may see a vision of the great Brownie as he may have been; in no particular order, then, here are some of the most famous of the "Sayings of Gebl".

Ale clouds the eye but clears the vision.

The fool dropped his ax in the forest depths but sought it on the plain; "The grass is shorter here!”, he did explain.

Bread, beer, belly-bouncing; take them when you can.

Pay no compliments, for they taste of dung on the tongue.

A swift stream shows a truer reflection of one’s face than a still pond.

If a man catches, cooks, eats, and digests you, be consoled that you were but dung before.

There is truth at the bottom of the ale horn.

The other Brownie’s mouse is always sleeker of fur.

To scratch an itch, use your own hand.

When you die, have no memorial made; if your deeds are fair they will suffice, and if foul, (Mount Hèckra) itself would not stand against them.

Sweeter than bees’spittle (honey) is the arse of a fair female.

A Brownie went a journey of (a hundred spans).
“I have crossed the world!” he exulted,
before a shir cub made him its dinner.

Three things to keep deep - my cup, my purse, my woman
Three things to keep shallow - my worries, my faith, my woman's neckline

To plant a tree / is a deed of merit;
but to cut it down / keeps you warm.

If a berry brightens faster than expected, look for the dung at its roots.

The following southern tavern song is always attributed to Gebl himself, though it is doubtful if his Tharian was even this sophisticated; it is more likely a back-dating inspired by the triparate play on words of 'Brownie's head' (see entry on Gebl's Nose Mushroom):

Lift up th' flagon, lads,
Pass around th' horn,
Drink down the good brown beer
I've drunk since I were born!

Sali was a hussy-wench,
All round th' town,
On the docks or off the pub,
Right or up side down!

Pay down the sans, m' lads,
Coin near or far,
A Brownie's head is good in bed,
But better on the bar!

Jeni was m' mistress once,
Owned a gamblin' cot,
Where the ale was always cold,
An' the bones were hot!

Lift up th' flagon, lads,
Pass round th' horn,
Drink up the good brown beer -
Been drunk since I was born!

Free translation of some Browniin lines scrawled on the flyleaf of a book of late Birni poetry, said to be in the hand of one of Gebl’s many light-o-loves (passed down in her family thereafter). It is interesting not only for its reference to Gebl - which may or may not be the historical Brownie of whom we are treating - but for its suggestion of Brownie belief in the hereafter, unfortunately here briefly treated...

If ever I find more savour
In (food) again
May my tongue wither at its root.
For Gebl will kiss me
No more.

If ever a (man) looks fair in my eyes
May they blear and haze over.
For Gebl will stop by my window
No more.

If ever I take (crossed out, illegible)
If ever my heart leaps
It shall be when I see
Gebl past the Veil
(crossed out, illegible)
No more.

A bedtime song which Brownie mothers still sometimes sing to their young:

Eeuul aaoo eeLLee aiao (Gebl, hero, comes to you,)
Aiouei Uhei ooahoh (Saying, young one, always strive)
Ohaih LLei LLoo LLrr (Body, rock; spirit, river!)
Aiohee LLourr Ahouee oua (Flow, fall, rise again...)
Aiohee Llorr Ahouee oua
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Biography. The dates claimed for Gebl range widely, from as early as the Third Epoch of Birn (approx. 13.000 b.S.) up to almost modern times, 4.107-3.979 b.S., which would make him a contemporary of the Great Deliverer, Keekoo. While the earlier periods are obviously shrouded in the mists of time and aggregations of myth, certain Brownie scholars have argued convincingly (see “Gebl the Rebel: a Dissertation upon Public and Private Forms of Power”, by the LLaoihrr Redbark Airr-uhoo ‘Firelight’, 1587 a.S.) that some of the many famous deeds attributed to Keekoo were in fact performed by Gebl, working for his own ends and the ‘cause of small-folk freedom’.

However, the current consensus is that the figure of Gebl is most likely based on a Brownie who lived from approximately 10.030 b.S. through the collapse of Birn in 10.003 b.S. and may even have survived past 9.998 b.S., the officially-recorded date for the death of the last Birni and the technical end of the Kingdom of Birn.

We give you the relevant section of the history tables here:

Beginning of open Civil War (10.010 b.S.). The war between the corrupted redbarks and their followers and the few remaining uncorrupted reds and their followers.

Collapse of Birn (10.003 b.S.).  The wilderness closes in. Many Birni ware eaten as Birn’s defenses disappear. The survivors scatter to the four winds, ending up as pets (or worse) of the other races.

The Harsh Years (10.000 b.S.). Traditional date for the beginning of the Harsh Years. Records say this of the "Years of the Knives": “ It... is an endlessly terrible time for the Brownie people, in which they grow few and scattered, coming dangerously close to dying out completely. Only a very few survive, living precarious lives among many of the other races. They are viewed as vermin by all. Elves ignore them, dwarves keep them near their forges in cages as good-luck charms, orcs eat them, and humans do some of all of the above. An old recipe book (was) found later that includes a recipe for Brownie pot pie that was apparently considered quite a delicacy. They fare no better among the other races, and long to be free, but are dependent on their oppressors for food and shelter, having for the most part forgotten the skills necessary for basic survival...”

The last Inhabitant of Birn dies (9.998 b.S. ). This happens after recording and concealing much of Birn's literary and cultural heritage in the Everbark fortress. This heritage is later gradually rediscovered, most notably by Keekoo and Greybark, and is used as the basis for much of modern Brownie language, culture, religion, and customs.
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Importance. As noted before, Gebl was a significant part of Brownie folklore and played a role in renewing Brownie pride along with their heritage in the time of Keekoo, Greybark, and the other great Brownies of the Brown Restoration. The irreverent sayings attributed to him, the tales of daring and heroism attributed to his name, and the blunt philosophy that came to be associated with him, all are now enshrined in an impenetrable mix of history and myth which are part of the Brownie ethos. To some extent, he has also left his mark on the human race, who have enjoyed and acknowledged (though not without some discomfort at the memory of old injuries) Gebl’s import and wisdom

In Tharian he is specifically remembered for having given his name to three physical objects – appropriately enough.

 Date of last edit 12th Burning Heavens 1668 a.S.

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