The One-Eyed, Red-Eyed Crow
Last night I caught glimpse of the One-Eyed Crow
This morning, ashudder I verily woke
And spied the Devils baleful Eye upon me!
The Ebon Thing, with the sable wing
Blithely did the bird perch a skeletal tree
While clawing and cawing, softly.
The horror, the horror!
Today I was grasped by invisible claws
I began soon to tremble and quiver
The inevitable dance with the Red-Eyed Crow
Did force me to Deaths Door delivered.
A lone and bloody Monocle
Did I look upon this night
In a raucous flap of wings
Did come the harbinger of fright
Yet only from a distance do I feel its supple stings
Oh all the gods, have mercies!
Ive no strength left to sing
The horror! The horror!
I sense despair and melancholy
Lost in this marshy gloom
A vertigo intense and palpable
Which pulls me toward my doom
The Demiurge comes for me now
I fear I have not long
Rejoice, Rejoice in life, I say
Stay clear of this fetid place
Beware the Crow my children
Farewell my sweets embrace!
Alas, alas! My die is cast
Gods, spare your indigent servant!
The birds foul stroke has cut me deep
Woe upon woe, I go to my sleep
And await the Crow to cull me
The horror, the horror!
Dusk turns to Night
My mind spins lights enthralling
The One-Eyed, Red-Eyed Crow, I fear, comes gently, now acalling.
A night-leaden-gray, over-large, but mundane appearing crow, with a single, crimson mote of a despicable eye, centered on its malevolent little head.
A spooky legend of the desolate fens, but unfortunately a real creature as well, the ill-famed One-Eyed, Red-Eyed Crow fills all swamp dwellers with dread and loathing. Numerous warnings, mostly in the form of childrens verses, caution the unwary about encountering this dreaded beast in the mires. Some local tribes go so far as to call the Red-Eyed Crow the incarnation of some devilish or demonic primal force, and some even claim that the bird is the most malevolent creature in all of existence.
The One-Eyed, Red-Eyed Crow is spiteful and wicked enough however, that it does not need further legends ascribed to it. A truly malignant creature, with no redeeming traits, this black-hearted avian of dubious origins, is ever rare, but almost always fatal to those who cross its path. The crow appears as a quite ordinary member of its species, except for its single, cyclopean, crimson eye, centered, and staring out in bemoaned misery.
The crow is patient and will never chase its prey, always waiting upon desiccated tree branches, leering down balefully at unsuspecting passersby.
The crow is not extremely difficult to kill, since it has the constitution of a hardy, mundane raven, but no special magical defenses. It is the insidious attack of this bird however, that can be, and is, rightfully feared.
When travelers, especially lone travelers pass below the One-Eyed, Red-Eyed Crows demesne, it will first attempt to lock its single eye upon its chosen target, and woe to those who meet its gaze from below, for the demonic power of the bird is thus, that anyone staring into that spiteful, chthonic mote, will immediately feel a weakness and sense of immitigable anxiety, followed soon after by a complete and utter sense of gloom and hopelessness.
If its mnemonic gaze is successful, the bird proceeds to do nothing, and merely watches from a distance, as the disoriented victim suffers, as if receiving nourishment from the very wretchedness that it engenders.
Before long, the victim may fall upon the marsh in an inevitable fetal position, drowning in despondency, and it is then, the One-Eyed, Red-Eyed Crow will strike.
Flying on wings, which sound like those of rasping beetles, the Crow will swipe at the distracted depressant with either beak or talon, and fly away once more into the swamps canopy above, with but a single, dismaying Craaww!
If its draws blood in any way, the bird has achieved its purpose, for now, the Crows deadly power is enacted. If the intial swooping strke draws blood, no matter how little, a slow, excruciating process begins. As long as the Crow is within one hundred feet of its pitiable victim, it will siphon the life force from that individual, blood, soul and all, slowly, but irrevocably. Not even the slightest pain is felt throughout this eldritch process, by the victim, only an unfathomable darkness of spirit.
It may take an entire day or sometimes less, depending on the stamina and willpower of the individual, but inexplicably, as the victim stumbles and thrashes about, seeking a way out of the swamp, the mind now a wounded kitten, the Crow feeds from afar, devouring the essence of its prey. Eventually, when the wounded dies, the Crow will swoop down and land gingerly on the victims chest, digging its hungry beak deep into the navel, then having pulled free and gobbled down, whatever it was after, it takes off again, once more, and flies in earnest toward The Eternal Witness. Landing on the Elder Yew’s bough, the demonspawn craws the Eulogies of the Fallen. No one can even guess, what relationship, if any, this vile bird may share with the Ancient Yew.
Nay, do not ask me the One-Eyed, Red-Eyed Crows ecology, for surely the gods would laugh! Tis no fauna, Andreu, the Bird is Iniquity, a Primordial Evil, the Fear of all Men. Know less, live longer! Do not go into the swamps.
—Poryllsus, zoologist of Bavens Warren.
So powerful is the superstitious fervor and legend surrounding the One-Eyed, Red-Eyed Crow, and so few facts are known about its existence and nature, that the diabolical creature serves as the Bogey-Man, and even Father Death, in the zeitgeist of many a swamp tribe and culture.
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? Responses (26)-27
wow, love the rhyme starter
Really neat creature, but if it is so easy to kill, why not send the best bowmen after the dreaded thing and be done with it
Love the connection between this creature and the tree, very spooky and mysterious
well, there is only one crow, it lives in a vast swampland, hidden, unless it chooses to emerge. Also, no one knows that it is easily killable. thats GM's info ;)
But yeah, you picked up on the fact that I tried to make it physically weak, but mythically sinister. I suppose countless archers have walked the swamps, in search of the crow. Some came back empty-handed, some lost their way, and some were dealt with by the swamp itself.
Oh and the tree is a shout out to Wulf's work, because I love the Eternal Witness! :)
I like this, it has a certain Poe-like aura to it, but also taps into the nameless horror of Lovecraft. Plus I think i would love anything that can link back to Wulfhere's evil Yew.
A plot easily suggests itself - someone important has fallen afoul of the crow in the swamp. The PCs need to find both the victim and the Crow before it's too late. To stop the life drain, they need to kill the elusive crow.
Messed up vote - corrected now...
Not a bird to mess with.
Heh, I like what you made of that old idea if mine... good work done here, up to the poetic bit.
ah, yes, thanks to manfred, for introducing me to a weird crow, in chat, which somehow kills prey from a distance. That line was all I needed, so I went with it :)
I love the evocative introduction!
Thank you for the nod to the Eternal Witness; a sinister creature like this one might indeed be drawn to it, called by the ancient tree's ties to Death...
Hidden in the twilight shadows, the Eater of Lives perched again on the scarred and gnarled bough it favored. The bird's hoarse voice echoed through the secluded grove, stirring Death's Witness from its torpor. As the strange dirge rose, the ancient tree listened. This death would be remembered until time ended, for such was the Way of the Eternal Witness...
hotdamn! thats the exact kind of relationship I had in mind, Wulf! Well said.
This HOH is for both of you, really :)
I was wondering where that phrase in chat was leading you....
I'm glad to see that once again I find myself grinning and plotting how to use this beastie in one of my games.
A thanks from me in advance (and most likely hateful glares from my players)!
This sub makes me wish two things...
1. That I had a HoH to give.
2. That I had read it before Wanderer did.
(I REALLY don't want to run into this thing in his game!)
A beautifully twisted beast!
Oh the Poetry! Oh the Evil! Oh the Muruality!
This deserves many an HoH! Perhaps it will even acheive Golden sub status! Perhaps I will stop using exclamation points!
Highlight of the sub: The crow lives not by power, but fear.
Oops, forgot to vote!
I love this.
I used this in yesterday's session. The group shaman fumbled his 'speak with ravens' spell and his next roll, determining the intensity of the fumble, was really, really bad. 'What the **** can I use to represent such a horrible spell screw up?' I thought, then this post came into mind.
Admittedly I thought it somewhat ehm, of less use the first time I read it, but I found the perfect use: as a spirit creature, a malevolent manifestation of dark sin and malice. After having a private talk with the player of the shaman, describing the power magnitude of the raven (not crow) spirit, the group wisely skulked away, trying not to gain its attention. An unbelievably good luck roll followed their unbelievably bad spell roll and they got away unharassed.
Still: When needed this sub came to mind. It was excellent when I needed it. It also created an excellent vibe of fear and darkness. *thumbs up*
Bump! This one is really great. Splendidly written with great visuals attached to it. I'm a sucker for Crows and Ravens though. But one important thing is the subtelty of it. Imagine seing a crow with one eye in real-life. You can forget about undead and such, this is spooky enough. Great that AG found a use for it as well, personally the greatest reward for posting on Strolen is when strolenites use the submission and post how it went!
Admittedly I originally gave it a 3.5, because I didn't like it much and saw no use for it.
Man, how I was wrong, therefore I upped the vote and wrote about my experience.
A subtle, powerful and deadly adversary. Well, you learn something every day. :D
Well done! This is very well written. (Though for some reason I had first and foremost read one-eyed, red-eyed cow and had gotten quite excited about it all).
Despite it not being a cow, reading through it has been a delight! You have clearly put a lot of thought into it, and you should know that it reads like a tale of its own kind. If I was a hapless pc i'd be rightly terrified upon sighting the creature, especially with the lore surrounding it.
Nothing to add here beyond a vote. This is truly awesome! I'm penciling it into a swamp region on my map immediately.