The Prophecy of the Group
An Isolated Shadow
Short in stature, measuring in at five feet four inches; Castanza. A Kenku. A raven-like humanoid with feathers of obsidian black and a defining predatory beak that protrudes from the hooded cover of the bird’s cloak. Deep dark beady eyes rest enshrouded on his face but allow him to see well in areas of low light and larger distances.
Commonly and racially referred to as “crows”; Kenku’s are notorious for having a trickster nature, and will often play ‘some-what’ harmless pranks on other creatures. They are known to hunt and travel in isolation but will occasionally and when convenient join a party or flock.
Castanza treads softly on long talon like toes which spread the bird’s 120 pounds of weight over a larger surface area. Thin grasping claws make it easy for him to pick the pockets of passer by’s and also allows for the quick accurate release of light thrown weapons.
Clothed in protective leather armour and covered in a blackened camouflage cloak, all but Castanza’s extremities are concealed; making it difficult for anyone to recognize him as a Kenku at first glance.
Castanza received his name from the short, stocky, slow-witted giant Jason of Alexander (aka “the Lord of Idiots”) after he frequently escaped the clutches of the giant and his comrades Jerry, Elaine, and the disgusting Kramer at a young age. Castanza means: “my little bird” in the native tongue known as giantish.
Ie; _The giants would commonly yell out during attempts at capture: bq). “COME HERE CASTANZA!” or bq). “WHERE ARE YOU CASTANZA?”) _
On the calm South-Eastern shore of Dread Lake, near the desperately fought for ruins of Bazek Mohl; a Kenku later known as Castanza was born.
Hatched from an egg, the Kenku pushed himself through his hardened home into the world. The single egg rested in a large handcrafted nest that perched atop a tall northern conifer. The orphaned bird survived with the much needed assistance of the creatures of the Xen’Drik forest. Raised in nature by nature Castanza quickly learnt to thrive in the woodland, he developed hunting habits to slay his prey hastily, with compassion, and with a respect for the kill. He held no pleasure in taking a life, but he understood the necessity of it.
An increase in activity from the arcane heart of Bazek Mohl caused the Giants from the Dominion Of Purity and the Drow from the Han’Tar’Kul Tribe to venture out towards the forest in an attempt to slaughter each other. The animals of the forest dwindled, the berry bushes and mushrooms were uprooted, and many off the trees were either chopped down or burnt to ash as the brawling continued. A troop of Giants from the Dominion of Purity who had come to call themselves Castle Rock had taken a fondness to the rare oddity that was the young Kenku.
“My little bird!”__
They would shout in their native tongue as they chased him through the forest day in and day out. “Castanza” as Giants had called him; which he believed to now be his name, ran South towards the Bluespine Peaks to avoid capture and to locate a meal.
Life does not thrive within the Blue Spine Peaks; it barely survived, for only the strong and surefooted have a chance. Mountain storms and landslides; a common occurrence on the Southern spine of the continent.
Castanza collapsed in the snow and rock, the mountain storms deathly grip enveloping him, closing in tight, the last little bit of his life fading from his eyes. Before the darkness overtook his vision Castanza witnessed a massive black raven descend from the heavens and with a strong flap of its wings it removed the settled snow from the Kenku’s broken body. The Raven Queen__ blanketed the unconscious child, kept him warm, and fed him. He lived in the Bluespine Peaks for four years after the near death experience. Castanza survived by training to strike prey from a distance, hurling sharpened rocks at mountain goats and watching them tumble down the sides of cliffs. He would feed on what was left of the smashed bodies on the mountain floor.
Isolation proved hard for the crow, he craved interaction with something living that wasn’t later going to be his food. Castanza traveled back North East, past the devastated forest that used to be his home. All signs of life, including the Giants had left the woodland after the destruction of it. He wandered East for a year, finally settling near the Thunder Sea.
The North-East coast of the continent Xen’Drik caresses the vast body of water known as the Thunder Sea. Waves so large when they crash against the rocks of the bank it sounds like the clash following lightning. Here Castanza made his home, a nest; similar to that of the one he was born. He enjoyed the sound of the powerful ocean and the view of the ships as they left the harbor village of Zantashk. Castanza also very much enjoyed observing a quaint nearby family, a human family.
The father; a tall broad shoulder man with weathered hands and a dirty beard. He fit the perfect description of what a lumber jack should be. Once every two weeks the father would travel to Zantashk delivering the lumber he had retrieved and returning with necessities for the family and every so often a gift for one of his two children. A wooden toy sword for his son, or a beautiful hand made small harp for his daughter. Once, the father returned with a beautiful blue dress for his wife. A slender alluring woman whose caring face eased her children when they were sick or in need.
Castanza had a high regard for the family, he adopted his own personality from the fathers strengths the mothers kindnesses and the children’s willingness to learn. He spent five years with the family, studying the common tongue so he could understand them, watching as the father taught his son the lumber trade, and sword play. The Kenku even learnt to play basic harp from a distance. He felt a part of the family, without ever physically being with them. The crow would tread ever so softly around the home, he had practised and became a shadow amongst the forest that surrounded it.
A shadow is all he was when the creature came. A grotesque large human mass with patches of hair and clumps of flesh missing. Its legs stretched and broken but still able to run and move with great speed. A creature who looked in pain, and as though it was mid way through a physical transformation but one that no longer seemed in either form. The creature stood nine feet even with an arched back, the bones in its spine showing clearly through its reddened skin. For such a large beast; it made no sound other than its deep heavy panting.
Castanza had smelt it, before he had seen or heard it. A smell of death, rotten flesh, and hunger. He crept up to the home, found his place in the bushes where he would observe the family and watched.
He watched as the Shifter clawed open the locked door to the home, it was dark out. The family was asleep, the angry pained scream of the beast awoke them all. The family had no time to react, the creature pinned down the father and removed his eyes with a swift movement of his clawed finger. The father was the lucky one. The shifter restrained each member of the family in some way, and for five days tortured, removed and ate parts of them until they were all gone. Five days of screams in the woods. Five days that Castanza did nothing. Not eat, not sleep, just watched in pain and fear as the family, his family perished. The Shifter left. Every detail of its disgusting form etched into Castanza memory.
It took all his effort to enter the families home after, he pushed himself through the torn open doorway. This is not how he had wanted his first time in the home to be like. Blood and flesh littered the walls and floor. Castanza collapsed. This was the second time in his life that a part of him was broken and wishing death would come quick. His mind flashed to that moment on the mountain, the raven, the cold.
Castanza stood up, a strong actualization flowing over his mind. He would never allow such brightness in this world to be snuffed out by something so ugly. He needed to find the answer to the raven that saved his life on that mountain years ago, and he would do everything in his power to become something bigger than what he was. To no longer be just a shadow in the lives of others.
The Kenku gathered what he could from the family’s home, money, clothes, a backpack and the Harp. He traveled to the nearby harbor village of Zantashk. Boarded one of those beautiful ships he had only seen and continued on his way…