Damav Courvinius & Berin of the Many Lives
Damav Courvinius & Berin of the Many Lives

Damav Courvinius & Berin of the Many Lives

Damav (Planar wereraven priest [he/him] / LN)

Berin (Prime human [he/him] / Indeps / NE)

“Aye, I shall tell ye my tale”, he croaked, his beady, black, pupil-less eyes staring me down like a cold piece of meat.

Tingly shivers ran up and down my spine as I sipped my honeyed water, thinking to myself as I eyed this fellow eying me. I don’t know which was more unnerving, having him look at me like he was about to gobble me up like some insignificant worm, or merely seeing a four-foot bird talk!

Damav the were-raven

Now surely, there are a lot of cutters out here on the planes that have seen more than lil’ o’ me. There are planewalkers, and touts, and adventurers by the score. There is no doubt in my mind that they could probably have taken one look at this fellow and told me what he was, but for me, it’s different. I have to go about it the hard way, spending my well earned silvers, what the locals call jink, buying drinks for folks, spending hours at a time listenin’ to their groanin’ and moanin’, until finally I get the one tiny bit o’ tale that I need to complete the puzzle. The hard way for me.

But I’ve got two, well, no, maybe three things that even up the score. One of them’s this here badge that marks me as an Indep, and we can do as we please. (Or at least that’s what they tell me). The second is this magical skull thing that they call a mimir around here; apparently in this wagon-wheeled, topsy-turvy city known as Sigil, it’s a might-bit valuable. And the third, well the third is my specialty, always has been, and that’s connections.

That was about the only thing that kept me alive back home, on what I now know as a prime world, heck, I don’t understand a thing about astrology or those things, all I know is that I was born and raised in Tilverton, in the kingdom of Cormyr, and that I found this silver skull in an abandoned wizard’s keep not far from there…

The croaking voice brought me out of my reverie. “What said you of your name? And what of this?”, the black bird-thing asked, indicating the shimmering silvery skull before me, the beady eyes regarded his interviewer coldly, impartially.

Repressing a shudder, but remembering to maintain my poise (after all, this might be a potential contact), I replied. “The name’s Berin, of the Many Lives”, I said smiling a foppish smile.

The bird cocked a feathery brow, but squawked nothing.

“Oh and, please, speak into th’ skull.” I smiled again, holding up a bulging purple pouch. “Remember, I only pay full price fer clear, concise stories.”

If this one only knew what was in store for him, as soon as Ly’kritch gets a’hold of these stories.

The bird began to speak, his voice raucous and scabrous, much like the cawing of a raven, yet with an underlying intelligence permeating his manner and gestures:

“I am called Damav Courvinius, of the Courvinius family. My line is one of the longest that hail from what I now know as the Demiplane of Shadow. Long has my blood-line dwelt therein, and to the extent of my thorough search, I have found no evidence that any other of my brethren have escaped that foul prison. We are what would be known to you as were-ravens, although our name that we give ourselves is ‘cracth-tith’, which would translate roughly into your tongue as ‘raven’s blood’. F-“

I interrupted him with a flutter of my hand, motioning for him to speak louder, and more directly into the leering metallic skull.

The raven looked a little startled, and cocked his head to one side as if considering what to do next.

Oh, raven, don’t you dare! If you try casting a spell at me than I’m right out of here! That’s a good fellow, trust me, trusssst me…

With a bird-like shuffle in his seat, the black-feathered scholar continued, pointedly directing his beak towards the skull.

“As I was saying”, the sarcasm was evident in the raven’s voice, “For many years my line lived in what relative safety a life of hiding and running can provide. Some of my people eternally hid, while some of the more optimistic aided those that were lost and forsaken in the Shadow Lands. They did this in hopes that perhaps the ones they aided would one day return and rescue our people from the Realm. For this, they lived constantly in fear of incurring the terrible wrath of the Dark Powers. Many of my line said that these generous ways were not the old ways of the cracth-tith. They warned that we should not interfere with the ways of ‘the Lost’, as we called those who wandered through the Dark Realm. The young, as they are often foolish and reckless, did not the heed these warnings, and this was my undoing.

“The blood of my blood, the nearest equal to this in your tongue would be ‘godson’, was one of these reckless hopefuls. He would often join the ‘raids’, forays in which the young, spirited were-ravens would aid those fleeing the twisted servants of the Dark Lord. They would lead the would-be attackers on erratic, labyrinthian routes through the forest, diverting their course from their prey, thus saving the doomed adventurers. It was upon one of these forays that he fell to the fang and claw of the Enemy and was captured and imprisoned in the Dark Lord’s Tower. Knowing that if I did not save him, my blood line would be in grave danger of being extinguished, I set out to save him.

“Before this time I had been one of my people’s sages, a gatherer, keeper, and giver of our verbal knowledge from the earliest remembered times. This was the way that it was done, as the written word in the Dark Man’s Realm is dangerous indeed. This history was the lifeblood of the bloodlines; it held us together and gave us strength, and unity against the darkness. It was all we had.

“So I left the safety of the coven and having never wielded a blade, nor taken a life, set out to save my ‘godson’. Somehow, through many strange twists of fate, as well as befriending a party of the Lost, I managed to save my him. In the process, however, I was captured by the Dark One himself.

“I will spare you the details of my imprisonment, for I fear that you, nor any who hear this tale could bear them. Suffice it to say that a torturous imprisonment in the Plane of Shadows is not one that many mortals could withstand. To this day, I still do not know how I survived. But survive I did.

“After many years, the Dark One’s minions saw that I posed no threat to them, as I was an able, if not willing servant in those tasks which were not innately evil. The Dark Lord soon found that I was a vessel of knowledge, and he began training me in his dark ways, hoping to twist me to his perverted will. So it was that I began my tutelage of the dark ways of black sorcery and necromancy. Although it quelled my spirit, I knew that to refuse was death, or in His realm, a fate even worse than death.

“As the years passed, I was given more and more reign over my studies, and finally rose to the rank of a master of the black arts. Through those long years, I studied those around me, learning their habits, strengths and weaknesses, looking for cracks in which to sink my claws. I studied everything about me, the lands, the fortress, the magic, always searching for signs, possible ways to escape.

Berin of the Indeps

“Finally, after two score years in that dark place, I found the escape route for which I had been waiting. In the least likely place I found it, in the very research that I was forced to pursue. I found the drastic means, through a very ancient and little known incantation, to open a passage into another plane. I knew well that the price for failure would be grave indeed, nearly as grave as the price of success, for the spell would create the portal from my very life force. In that dead realm, it was the only way, the only key.

“I arrived in a place that is known as the Grey Waste, and from there, I finally made my way here, to Sigil. Of that journey, as well, there are many tales to tell. But I have talked overlong, and will finish my yarn, as I began it, with knowledge of my people.”

The old bird paused, and I nearly beamed. Ly’kritch, if he’s able to siphon this one, is gonna love ‘im. The were-raven took a long pull from his tall, thin glass by inserting his skinny, pointy beak and then throwing his head back, making drowning-man noises. My skin crawled as I think about what that sharp, dagger-like beak could do to a man’s face, and I seriously considered buying a helm. The bird, finished with his drink, he blinked at me, twice, and continued.

“Once I arrived in Sigil, I made my way to the Library of the Guvners, of who’s fame I had heard upon my journey, and began studying day and night. I have been there ever since, and although I have not joined them as of yet, they allow me access in return for my work there, for my skills as a scholar are invaluable to them, especially in recording oral histories. As of my dark ways, I have abandoned them, and wear this grey robe as that statement. I wear it, as well, as in remembrance of my blood-line, for that is where they stand, in the grey, between the Dark of the Shadow’s Evil, and the Light of Freedom. I will free them all, one day, or I will die in the attempt.”

Smiling pleasantly, I pushed him the pouch, hoping that he won’t count it all on the spot and discover that it’s mostly silvers. Yep, I think to myself, I can even the odds a bit when I need to. It’s not that the coin’s bad, it’s just that some folks (like my boss) don’t take to kindly to silver.

I chuckled quietly to myself as my latest ‘customer’ turned to leave, pouch in hand, uncounted. I wondered what effect silver will have on a were-raven, and to the measures he’d have to go to get it exchanged. After all, silvers have gotta be good somewhere out there.

Yep, I think that I’m gonna like it here.

See Also:

  • Cage Rattlers: None yet, but working on it
  • Uncaged: Faces of Sigil:– Ly’kritch (p62).

Source: Brannon Hollingsworth

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