Mauragaaqtuq: Murder of Crows

We’re getting ready to kick off The Situation in our next Mauragaaqtuq campaign, tonight. This one is centered on a group of Crow: a gifted child prodigy would-be-summoner, a vengeful necromantic sorcerer, a Crow who grew up thinking he was an Owl and wants to conquer his past and future, and a tomb-raiding relic hunter.

The Crow were a lost house of Elvoya for several generations, but they have been in hiding, continuing their work to understand and combat the things of the Deep. Recently, the great houses have become aware that they still exist in hiding. A Dawnbringer (think priest/paladin of the Sun) approaches the Rook, their hidden village…

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Upon hearing the news of the Dawnbringer’s approach, Alornek’s heart began racing. It was said that a Dawnbringer could look upon a person and know the Darkness within them. Alornek looked to his elders, hoping for any excuse to be far away when the Dawnbringer arrived. While his gift was encouraged in studies, he did not believe a paladin of the Sun would look with eyes of understanding, only those of swift judgment.

Cupun was the first to speak up, thankfully. “Alornek, go with Harald and tell Takret of the approaching Dawnbringer.”

Harald smirked as he looked at the boy, “Can you keep up?”

Alornek knew that the wings on Harald’s feet meant there was no chance, but he nodded all the same when he considered the alternative was to stay and await the light of the Sun.

Harald ran ahead, and the boy followed. He was panting and drenched by the time he made the rest of the climb to the Rook. Harald had clearly given the news, as Takret was already at the gate, waiting on Alornek.

“Boy, go to Panik and tell him of the approaching Dawnbringer. I need his help to hide the things which must remain hidden. Go… now!”

Alornek ran with all the haste he could muster. Harald disappeared in an eyeblink to warn others. Alornek gasped out the elder’s instructions to Panik.

Panik rocked a bit on his heels, “Well, it looks like I have a chance to call in the debt you owe me.” Alornek caught his breath and his gaze turned inquisitive. “In what way?” he asked.

“There is someone I need, and you will go and fetch them,” the old crow smiled.

Alornek looked puzzled, “That’s it?”

“Yes, that is it.” Panik chuckled inwardly. “Just go and summon Tanaraq. Just a few things first.” Alornek winced at the word summon, but listened intently.

The elder Crow held up fingers as he rattled off the instructions, “Go to their door, knock gently and step back. You will then wait in stillness. Finally, when Tanaraq emerges, you must Steel yourself. Do not panic and do NOT scream.”

Alornek felt his stomach lurching. If something could make one scream in the Rook, then it must be horrible indeed. But his pragmatic side won out. Cancelling a debt was nearly impossible with nothing but rocks in your pockets. He listened on.

“After he emerges, Tell Tanaraq that a Dawnbringer is coming and Takret needs a portal to hide everything.” Panik turned and started packing things away. Alornek ran to find Tanaraq.

Alornek approached the strange hut. It was adorned with symbols and totems. Some Alornek recognized from his training, most he did not. He reached a hand up to knock, not knowing when it had started shaking. He knocked loudly and stepped back, waiting. Moments later, the door began to creak open. Alornek studied the ground. The whispers were the first thing he noticed, they spoke of things dark and unknown. Alornek could feel the piercing gaze upon him. He waited without speaking. The whispers surrounded him, they spoke in a language he couldn’t understand, but he knew they were speaking of him.

“Speak, boy.”

“Tanaraq? Panik has sent me to find you. Takret needs a portal to help hid everything from a Dawbringer.”

He couldn’t help but bring his gaze up. He was struck by the strangeness of the person before him. Deformities weren’t uncommon among the Crow, and Alornek might have recovered from the sight with little reaction, were it not for the creature that followed behind Tanaraq. It was an enormous, feline creature. It stood upright with four arms ending in sharp claws. It had no mouth, but Alornek knew the whispers came from this horror. Somewhere in his mind he knew that he should not scream, so his mouth took the shape of a scream, but no sound emerged. Instead he stared, dumbfounded.

“Very well,” Tanaraq said to the insensate boy. “I will create the portal. Follow if you wish.”

It was several moments later when Alornek came to his senses again. He saw just the tail of the creature disappear down the street, then went about telling others nearby about the coming Dawnbringer. He saw a purple light and heard a sound like tearing fabric. He did not want to know what it meant. Some sights were better left unseen.

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The Dawnbringer continued to climb the switchback road as if he had not a care in the world. The Crow met him and held the pass, speaking with the Dawnbringer and allowing those in the Rook to make whatever preparations they needed to make. Takret later joined Nils, Tulok, and Cupun while they spoke to the Dawnbringer, Antti.

The Dawnbringer was asked not to approach the Rook, instead, the Crow would send a group to meet somewhere more neutral. So many decades of seclusion would not be doffed so easily. Tulok’s hatred of the Dawnbringer was not veiled, which was appropriate for the discussion in the light of day, if a bit inconvenient. They would meet the next day, at high noon, so that the sun could look down on their conversation.

That conversation was not to be. As they approached the camp, they found the Dawnbringer dead. Could it be another Crow’s doing? Could it be Roden from the surrounding hills? Could it be the Restless spirit that Alornek and Tulok summoned the night before?

Alornek had asked for a spirit that could look upon the soul of the Dawnbringer to learn his true intentions. The Great Seer answered, and a bargain was struck. Alornek’s talent for summoning was on display, he even struck a bargain that was cheap by comparison. Only a bedroll for the truth of a man. But Tulok had other plans. He attempted to capture the Seer for his own purposes. Alornek followed along, hoping to find a new master to learn from. Tulok failed to capture her. The Seer took the attempt in stride. She displayed no outward anger. She even returned later to tell the pair that the soul of the Dawnbringer was the most honest she had ever seen, though it was no longer in his body. The pair had no idea what that meant until they viewed the body of Antti the Dawnbringer laying unmoving next to the last embers of last night’s fire. Had they caused this? Was this the price of betraying the Seer?

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