SESSION 24: A Murder of Crows

The party decided that the spider's tunnel was actually a well-hidden and defensible place to set up camp for the evening, and so bed down after setting up an alarm. The following morning, as they awoke, Sklooh took care of some crafting, Eggsy performed his morning rituals to Bismuth, and Lena left with her father to commune with nature (and snap the necks of small animals when no one was watching). They all set out for Cardell once more.

After a few days travel and no real trouble besides a hilarious altercation with a bush that almost killed Lena and damaged several party members despite being one of the weakest creatures ever encountered, the party was alerted to the presence of other beings who were rustling hurriedly through the forest in their direction. Lena sent Raphael towards the commotion to identify the cause, and he returned with the report that a Kenku was desperately trying to invade a hunting party of several more Kenku.

The party decided to stand their ground as the exasperated Kenku erupted out of the brambles and pleaded for protection. Egg-spiker called the bird over and asked about the cause of his flight. Shortly after, before much information could be gleamed, about nine Kenku came forth from the foliage and demanded the return of their prisoner. Finally, a single elderly Kenku crouched on a walking stick was led forward by an able-bodied younger fledgling.

The older Kenku presented himself as God-speaker (in the common tongue) and explained that this was a party of Enforcers after the Food-thief. Essentially, the prophet of a tribe was leading a band of the military caste after a thief whose normal function in the tribe was to scavenge for food in the forest. Egg-spiker determined that this tribe of Kenku were followers of Bismuth and were a break-away sister tribe from before Eggsy was hatched. The reason for the pursuit was that Food-thief had taken God-speaker's shard from holy Bismuth and run away with it. Food-thief's claim was that the role of Prophet did not belong to this tyrant who had let the under-castes of the tribe fall into a state of ruin and deprivation of all but essential needs. God-speaker cursed the Pillarmen for interfering in the affairs of the tribe, especially Eggsy, who was an outsider and did not show the proper respect for Kenku elders of a superior station. According to God-speaker, he had inherited Bismuth and his role as tribal leader from his father who had not appointed a successor before his death.

And thus Egg-spiker was confronted with a long-standing dilemma within Kenku society: the proper deference of power and status among leaders. Naturally, the initial leaders and shamans of the tribe were decided through trials and appointed by the Mother Tribe. However, once a tribe had broken off as a sister, it was traditional that the next leader be decreed by the acting leader. If the acting leader died before appointing a successor (and communication with the Mother Tribe was impossible) there were two schools of thoughts regarding how to fill the vacancy. The first was that the position was inherited by the oldest hatchling living in the prophet's nest, the idea being that they would be best suited for the position having underwent the tutelage of the previous leader. The second idea was that the flock should choose the next God-speaker from among the acolytes, since the flock themselves would be best suited to determine the most effective leader.

The situation became quite heated as God-speaker demanded that Bismuth be returned to him and Food-thief begged for Bismuth to be given to the people. Instead, Egg-spiker took Bismuth himself and asked if Igan would create a Zone of Truth in which the parties could be interrogated properly. After much protest from the God-speaker, eventually all parties were agreed. It became quite clear that both the Thief and the Speaker were both equally convinced of what was good for the tribe, and that neither one of them were lying. Egg-spiker, however, was more inclined towards Food-thief. Nevertheless, Eggsy asked to be taken to the nest.

Dissatisfied with his station being disregarded, God-speaker refused until Bismuth was returned to him, and Lena decided to lubricate the situation by bewitching the Kenku and compelling him to lead them all back to the nest. After the spell was cast, the Enforcers immediately took combative posture and, tuned into this aggression, Lena liberated them all with some swift casting. All but one of the Kenku were killed and made into rag-dolls with a single spell and the final Kenku was dispatched violently. Seeing that there was no way maintaining peace among the tribe with God-speaker ruling, Egg-spiker assassinated him with a magical bolt.

Food-thief was asked to take the Pillarmen to the flock, and he obeyed. Once they arrived, the class distinctions were obvious: lower, working classes were living in homes on the ground at the base of the trees, while the religious and military classes were living in platforms elevated and built among some of the lower branches of the trees. Eggsy brought Food-thief to the upper levels of the nest to the astonishment of many of the acolytes. Egg-spiker went to the center of worship and demanded that the acolytes be summoned.

Egg-spiker decided that he would not succumb to either of the traditional methods of choosing a leader. Instead, he pronounced himself the de facto representative of the Mother Tribe and declared that he would be the one to choose the new God-speaker. He had all of the acolytes, as well as the fledglings of the previous God-speaker brought forward and conducted interviews in order to determine the levels of their piety. After much consultation with Bismuth, Egg-spiker designated that Singer, the acolyte would be the next God-speaker. The rest were dismissed and told to prepare for the ceremony that night.

The celebrations commenced and concluded, and the party was given lodging. Lena, though, before going to bed, strode out into the forest and spoke aloud to the Unicorn. "We cannot find you if you don't wish to be found, and we will not hurt you if you reveal yourself to us. We do not pursue you anymore." As she went back to the nest, she heard a strange voice reverberate in her mind: "Lena..."