Dragons of the East
The Black Crane of Inle'
For hundreds of years there was something that was the subject of terror around the campfire before Tyrant Dust, The Blace Crane of Inle’. Though, the horrors and tales of Tyrant Dust have drowned out the superstitions that many of the tribes of the Oleander had and have, the One-Winged Crane of Ill Omen is still one they revere and fear.
As legend has it, the Crane was a messenger of powerful forest gods that had grown unhappy with his lot in life. Forever tasked by its masters to be the symbol for when the elk of the forest were on their migration and that the hunting high season had approached. Much to the gods chagrin it was known to from time to time to ignore its task and capture mighty river dragons to feast upon than signal the many hunting tribes that the season was upon them. Of course as the story goes, this was a different time. When the minions of gods answered to few and rarely if ever were punished for their failure to accomplish the tasks set before them.
But, the tribes of the forest revel in the hunt, as it is more of a way to feed their families but how to mark the changing of the power of the Oleander and guided the paths of many of the nomadic tribes. For decades the Black Crane of Inle’ took a lackadaisical approach to his task, rarely feeling it really needed to do what was important. Until one day, when a member of a ill fated and long forgotten tribe happened upon the Crane as it was hunting in the mighty river. Seeing the quarry and having not seen the sign of the hunt in several seasons, the hunter stuck out true and swift. After the blow cleanly removed the wing of Black Crane, it escaped the deathblow of the hunter only to leave him dying at the banks of the river clutching his jade spear in one hand and watching his prey clumisly hop into the sunset.
When the Black Crane returned to its masters to ask to be made whole, they simply laughed at him. The elder god of the forest, (who’s name has been forgotten in legend, but some suspect was a god in league with Tyrant Dust) cursed the Black Crane of Inle’ for ignoring his duties and allowing itself to become the prey. He declared that the One-Winged Crane would no longer be the harbinger of the hunt but rather of tragedy and destruction. From that day forward those who were joyous and celebrated the shadow of the Crane over their village now made wards against him, told campfire stories of ignoring your responsibilities and of course that a hunt was ill fated.
Over the centuries the tale has had many variations and of course, the above is just one. Several of the more traditional tribes still revere this spirit and the omens it delivers. Typically, most hunters will allow their quarry to flee or cancel a hunt all together if even a hint of the One-Winged Crane is thought to be seen. Some tales speak of reuniting the Crane with his missing wing would allow it to regain its former purview…though some tribes, namely the Owsla, believe that slaying the Black Crane of Inle’ to be the greatest accomplishment and will once again allow the fauna of The Oleander to return to its former glory.