WA Spooktober 2023.1: "Crow"

WA Spooktober 2023.1: "Crow"

It's Spooktober. I had a whole set of plans for this month because Ancient Magic probably has a lot of crossovers with this month. However, all my intentions to write smart academic-style blogs have fallen by the wayside as I am struggling with medical issues as one of my organs is rebelling against me in multiple ways at once in ways that are decidedly non-fun.

However, I had another idea. I've been trying to build up and improve the World Anvil site, and WA are doing a Spooktober series of prompts. So I've decided to jump on board.

To help me along the way—or make things more difficult, depending on your perspective—I've decided to use the Story Engine decks I'm so obsessed with. I develop a multi-card prompt and I have to integrate that into what I write for each of the World Anvil one-word Spooktober articles.

This is a bit last minute, because I didn't know World Anvil was running a Spooktober event. This, in turn, is because I've been on holiday and struggling to get online. And also I wasn't paying attention. That's also true. Running a canal boat is kind of full-time distracting.

It's been a bit rushed, therefore, and I only sat down to write something for the first prompt today. These are rushed and scrappy drafts, which is kind of necessary, and don't take the same form as the writing I've done for the Amnar World Anvil site so far. I'm still figuring out tone, etc., for the site, but World Anvil's challenge for this month insists that we write generic articles rather than allowing us to use the general templates.

Therefore, I suspect some of this will appear twice until the end of the challenge and I find a way to put the articles together so they're separate from the rest. This has kind of justified the approach I'm taking, which was previously a bit Wikipedia-dry.

All that being said, this is the first prompt in the series, with the word "Crow". How very appropriate. This is, therefore, a short piece about a mysterious person by the name of "Crow". And here's the prompt from Story Engine's Blight and Shadow deck:

One day I'll get better at taking pictures.

Very little is known is known about the individual known as Crozier, or "The Crow". Attempts to fully account for his history, including birth, location, and how he came to have such power and influence in the Congress of Stom have been largely unsuccessful and dependent on rumours and legends told to Amnari visitors to either Stomland itself or nearby countries with close diplomatic relationships with the Congress.

The following has been taken from the wider Amnapedia and is continually being updated. Crozier, often known as "The Crow" by those who know of him, is considered to be highly dangerous and he should not be approached under any circumstances.

Much of what follows has been pieced together by the Senior Duty Watchers Andiru and Bariq, who first made contact with Stomish explorers at the start of the 46th century. It has been updated and expanded by several others who have visited the Island of Stom since then in an attempt to investigate the Stomish Empire and determine to what degree it should be considered a threat.

Andiru and Bariq initially reported the presence of a old man who attended all their meetings with senior members of the House Mukhadori in early 4601 AA. The man never spoke himself but only communicated through a young man known by the name of Tiom. Tiom, a young scion of the House Mukhadori, appeared to be particularly close with the man and when Andiru asked, explained that this was Crozier, a man who acted as an advisor to the House in its mission to restore the family to its former position as a significant member of the Stomish Senate and Congress.

Andiru attempted to inquire further, but without much luck. Tiom was initially keen to speak, apparently regarding Crozier very highly and excited to share the friendship. He reported that he had first met Crozier whilst working out on the edge of the House's properties. He had run into an old man feeding crows and, because crows were considered an omen of bad luck to the family, he was scared.

However, the old man sought to reassure him, remarking that it was easy to burden a species with ideas due to coincidences, and easier to blame when a fallen House might need to look deeper into their own failings.

At this point in the story, Crozier signalled to Tiom and the young man fell silent, refusing to be drawn further. Andiru discussed this later with Bariq, and then reported back to the Guardian Dragonmaster Icaan without thinking much of it. Icaan was curious and noted it in his analysis, but not much was made of it at the time.

However, Bariq became much closer with the Stomish over the following years, and was able to draw Tiom out further on the issue of his introduction to the old man. Tiom's story seemed strange to both Watchers; they knew the edge of the House's territories were exceptionally remote, and Crozier himself did not appear to be healthy enough to survive out above the permafrost in such difficult conditions.

Bariq's personal notes on his later visits back to House Mukhadori's northern stronghold suggest that he was able to spend more time with the old man. Most of these interactions were positive and, unlike Andiru, he felt that Crozier's influence on the family and young man were generally to be considered good. This was, of course, before the threat to Amnar itself was fully known.

A few of Bariq's notes hint at a more malevolent motivation for Crozier. He met with him individually on several occasions and, although the interactions themselves were positive and productive, Bariq reported that he always suffered either from sleepless nights unrelieved by a standard treatment, or by startling nightmares in which Crozier himself always appeared.

Bariq treated these nightmares as merely anxiety dreams brought on by being far from home. He rarely described any of them, but did remark that they were the most vivid nightmares he had ever experienced, even noting that it felt as though he were really there, really having the experiences, and even pinched himself within the dream's action in an attempt to wake himself up—without success.

There are few descriptions of the specifics of these dreams, although based on the notes made by Bariq at the time, one had particular impact upon him on waking. He described meeting with Crozier, although he initially arrived in the form of a flock of crows that resolved into Crozier's human form. The meeting place was outside a city built into a great tree close to a river. Crozier explained that this was where he came from.

Bariq went on to describe approaching the city and Crozier stopping him, warning him that "the cemeteries are overflowing with the dead here, the river is poisoned with fingers chopped off prisoners during torture. The waters have been polluted by the corruption of the city's leaders and has further poisoned the land around it and the city itself. This city was a sanctum of an ancient terror, a terror we must do everything in our power to destroy."

As part of his work, Bariq had been gradually becoming more convinced of the value of dreams and dream analysis during treatment for the stress of working on the Line. His notes detail interpretations that the city, although it bore no resemblance to Amin Duum, might indeed be the Amnari capital, and that Crozier was presenting him with a warning which the Amnari Alliance would do well to heed.

There are those who believe that, had these notes been discovered sooner, they may have served as a warning to the Alliance, although not for the reasons Bariq assumed.