By Jeff Quick
The Internest Portal
Though some people believe that two distinct colonies of aarakocra exist in the Storm Horns in Cormyr and the Cloven Mountains in the Vilhon Reach, this is only partially true. These two aarakocra colonies were separate at one point. But nearly ten years ago, in exchange for some timely aerial reconnaissance service, a powerful sorcerer created a portal between the two colonies. If that sorcerer's name were known today, thousands of residents in and around these mountain ranges would have a new curse word.
Since the portal's construction, the aarakocra of the two colonies have begun to mingle. The colonies do not get along perfectly, but they have a strong mutual pact of protection and community. Colony leaders handle disagreements between aarakocras quickly and decisively, and violence between colony members is punished on the spot by groups of nearby aarakocras pressing in on offenders, creating a claustrophobic sensation that quells violence almost instantly. This sort of community vigilantism works extremely well. A large group of aarakocran bystanders solve many problems before any officials ever get involved.
The Cloven Mountain aarakocras have strong ties to the Emerald Enclave. While few are Emerald Enclave members, all feel a strong allegiance to the druids. Their fighters have been known to travel in V-shaped flocks, and they attack anyone even carrying an axe near a healthy grove. When they find someone abusing an animal, they pay back every stripe laid down with two of their own. These aarakocras once burned a wizard's tower for polluting 10 square miles of wetlands with an experiment. Though not irrational, these aarakocras are zealots for natural concerns.
Meanwhile, the Storm Horns aarakocras have lived communally for hundreds of years. When they need something, they simply take it, not out of malice or greed, but because they have a use for it. When done with an item, the Storm Horns aarakocra either puts it down where she is and leaves it there, or returns it to a communal object pool in the Storm Horns colony. When anything turns up missing in the Storm Horns region, the usual refrain is, 'Lost it to the birdfolk.' Some traders make their living simply traveling up and down the mountains, retrieving items for people.
Outsiders who live near the Cloven Mountain aarakocras have learned to treat nature with respect. Those who live near the Storm Horns aarakocras have learned to lock up things they want to keep. Neither group has learned the other's lessons yet.
Violent aarakocra attacks on animal-driven caravans through the Storm Horns are an increasing problem. Though no one condones cruelty to animals, Cormyr and Dalelands residents are shocked by the sudden rise of vicious beatings delivered to caravan drivers in the mountains. Some loggers have been found nearly dead, their skin torn to ribbons, and left babbling about 'knives from the sky.' Meanwhile, the Vilhon Reach has suffered a veritable crime wave of everyday objects. Rakes, hammers, baskets, bags of grain, stools, and more disappear when no one is looking, and sometimes when someone is looking.
Though each colony is aware of the other colony's activities, they do not police each other's actions outside of the nests. At the same time, they emphatically do not allow outsiders to come into the nests to seek revenge or justice. The nests are neutral ground, and both colonies defend each other. As tensions rise on the ground, the aarakocras appear unconcerned.
The aarakocras are skilled mountain fighters, and they are fully capable of defending their nests against physical or magical threats. They would be open to negotiation, but first, they must be convinced why their behavior is a problem. Humans and other ground-based creatures have learned to adapt in one place. Why can't they simply learn to adapt in another?
How to Incorporate the Internest Portal Into Your Campaign
- The rulers on both sides of the internest portal don't see this as enough of a problem to devote serious attention to it. However, they do want it dealt with, and they're willing to pay in gold if some freelance negotiators would go convince the aarakocra to stop thrashing loggers or stealing household goods from the peasants.
- A group of angry loggers decided to take revenge into their own hands. Unfortunately, before they even got up the first real rise of the mountains, ogres attacked them. Now, they've come back with stories that the aarakocras have allied with ogres. The loggers have the attention of more powerful people now, and they've got more resources to attack the aarakocras. Can the PCs stop a mob from getting themselves killed?