Raven and His Echo

ripvanwormer's picture

Shortly after the world‘s first dawn, Raven was fleeing the wrath of Nascakiyetl, from whom he had stolen the sun, the moon, and the stars. He made to fly into a region of tall mountains.

“Be careful,” warned Heron, who was very wise. “The terrain there is very tricky.”

“Caw!” Raven exclaimed scornfully. “I am the greatest of tricksters! I have stolen the sun, the moon, and the stars! None can out-swindle Raven!”

“Hey!” he yelled into the steep valley. “I am Raven! I will trick you before you trick me!”

“Hey!” called another voice from within. “I am Raven! I will trick you before you can trick me!”

“I see what he’s doing,” Raven thought to himself. “He is trying to confuse me so that I will forget myself and my power.”

“No!” Raven screamed. “It is I, Raven, who am Raven!”

“No!” answered the other. “It is I, Raven, who am Raven!”

“This trickster is stubborn,” Raven thought. “But I know how to fix him.” And Raven reached down with his power, down into the watery chaos below the bottom of the world, the only thing that existed until very recently when Raven happened to pull the Earth out. Gathering great potential from the deep, he pushed it into his next shout.

“Reveal yourself!” he screamed at his unseen rival, and he flung power with his words to make it so.

The other started to answer him, and then cawed in surprise. Power bounced off the mountain walls and through the air, and when the waves of primal energy hit one another a small, black-feathered creature appeared.

“You’re rather small,” Raven told his mocker. “And ugly, too. What are you called?”

“What are you called?” asked the little creature, looking dazed.

“I am Raven,” said Raven. “The greatest thief in the world! Who are you?”

“I am Raven,” said the other. “The greatest thief…”

Raven sighed in disgust. “No,” he said. “This won’t do. Come along.”

Forgetting he was being pursued, Raven hung the sun, the moon, and the stars on a nearby tree and went back to Heron. “Heron,” said Raven. “I’ve captured the annoying little trickster of the mountains! But he won’t tell me his name.”

Heron laughed at the description, for Raven and the other bird looked identical. “Raven!” said Heron. “You’ve captured your own echo! No one’s ever done that before.” No one had done much of anything before, it being the time of the very beginning of the world, but Heron didn’t feel like mentioning that. It had already gotten old.

“I am the greatest thief in the world,” Raven said proudly. “But what’s an echo?”

“It’s a piece of your own voice come back to you,” Heron explained.

“What?” Raven squawked. “This wretched thing was part of me?”

“…part of me?” asked the echo.

“What are you going to do with it?” wondered Heron.

“Swallow it, I guess,” said Raven. “So we can be one again.”

The echo cried out in fear.

“I wouldn’t do that, nephew,” said Heron. “Remember what happened when my sister swallowed you.”

Raven did remember. It had just happened a few days before. “I don’t want to be pregnant!” Raven cried, horrified.

“Better set it free, then,” said Heron. “Before it steals from you.”

“Good thinking,” said Raven. “Go now,” he told the thing that had been his echo. “Shoo!”

The echo shooed.

Despite Heron’s wisdom, that wasn’t the end of it. The echo kept returning. When Raven tried to seduce a beautiful maiden, the echo would be there to spoil it. When he took a nap, Raven would wake to find the echo had stolen all his food and shiny objects. When he returned to his nest after any length of time he would come back to find it covered with his echo’s droppings.

Raven decided he had long since had enough. He returned to the steep mountain valley where he and his echo had first met. There he waited until the echo caught up.

“What’s your name?” he asked his doppleganger casually.

“What’s your name?” the echo said, full of smugness.

“What’s your name?” Raven repeated, louder this time.

“What’s your name?” said the echo, matching him in volume.

“What’s! Your! Name!” Raven shouted, waves of sound tearing feathers out of his companion.

“WHAT’S YOUR NAME?” roared the echo, getting carried away. At that moment Raven snatched energy from below the bottom of the world and slipped it into the echo’s words. Bouncing madly off the valley walls, each one became a duplicate of the original echo.

“There!” said Raven in relief. “You see how it feels!”

“Eep!” squeaked the echo, and flew off quickly as it could. Hundreds of dark shapes followed it.

This is how Raven got his first good sleep since stealing the sun, the moon, and the stars. The next morning he even remembered to put them in the sky like he had been meaning to do.

The crow - Ehe'eye'!
The crow - Ehe'eye'!
I saw him when he flew down.
I saw him when he flew down.
To the earth, to the earth.
He has renewed our life.
He has renewed our life.
He has taken pity on us.
He has taken pity on us.

- "The Crow," from The Ghost-Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890, by James Mooney.

Intermediate Deity, Chaotic Good
Portfolio: Creation, transformation, trickery and deception
Domains: Chaos, Trickery, Good, Air
Favored Weapon: Stone knife
Symbol: Black feather or image of a raven
Aliases: Yetl, Yehl
Superior: Nascakiyetl (Great Spirit)
Allies: Quorlinn, Syranita, Heron, Wind, Fire, Earth, Thunder, Sun, Moon, Morning Star, the Stars, the Raven Lord, Garl Glittergold, Hugin, Munin
Rivals: Coyote, Bear, Deer
Realm: The Spirit World (wanders)

Raven's a shapeshifting trickster. He seems primarily concerned with his stomach, but he is more than he seems. All sorts of heroic acts are attributed to him: he pulled the primal earth out of the waters and stole the sun, moon, light, and stars from Nascakiyetl when that god refused to share them. He tricked Thunder into releasing fresh water into the world. He created the tides and the winds. He stole the secret of fire. He created animals and human beings. He also brought death into the world for the first time. He invented hunting, whaling, and fishing. He is awfully cocky about all this, but still he has a good heart and cares about his creations. Other gods and spirits are quick to deflate his pretensions, noting that most of his accomplishments made him look ridiculous: when he stole fresh water from Thunder, Thunder retaliated by setting a fire underneath him, turning his white feathers black forever. When he forced the old woman who governs the sea to create the tides, Thunder put on his 'fog hat' and got Raven lost in it until Raven admitted that Thunder was the older and more powerful spirit. In order to free the sun and the moon, he had to endure a time as a baby. After his first whaling expedition, the man who was helping him shut him in a box and threw him over a cliff.

Raven wanders throughout the Spirit World that exists parallel to the Material Plane, venturing often into the Beastlands (where he is great friends with the Raven Lord), the Elemental Plane of Air, and appearing in the Material Plane in the form of an ordinary or giant crow or a massive, overweight human with deep black skin and a ready laugh. He gets along well with other trickster gods such as Garl Glittergold, though he has long had a rivalry with Coyote that has spilled over into a tension between all corvid spirits and canid spirits. He gets along with other raven powers and near-powers like Hugin and Munin of the Aesir, though he hasn't been able to crack the armor of the Morrigan of the Celts. It was a long time before Raven reconciled with his inadvertant creation, the kenku god Quorlinn. Quorlinn kept giving him gifts - shiny, useless trinkets mostly - until finally Raven relented.

Lesser Deity, Neutral
Portfolio: Trickery, disguise, thievery, kenku, tengu, dire corbies, crows
Domains: Trickery, Air, Luck
Favored Weapon: Short sword or scimitar
Symbol: Mask with false large nose
Aliases: Echo Raven, Sojobo
Superior: none
Allies: Raven, Syranita, Susanoo, Inari, Meriadar
Rivals: Pazuzu, Vecna, Amatsu-Mikaboshi, Sung Chiang
Realm: Beastlands/Krigala/Filchnest

Quorlinn was created (accidently) by Raven, though Raven wouldn't publically admit this for a long time. Since Raven ordinarily admits to everything whether he was actually responsible for it or not, this speaks strongly of the depths of his embarassment over the matter.

After Raven gave him a race of intelligent crows to look after, Quorlinn fled to the lands of the Shinto pantheon where Inari, god of grains, befriended him and introduced him to Susanoo. They got along so well that Quorlinn decided to stay. Not feeling strong enough to protect his race (who followed him over) he taught them thievery and magic and hoped for the best.

There came a time when a plague spread among the crows of Quorlinn, so deadly that those who saw its effects thought it must have come from the Abyss. Because Quorlinn was helpless to save them, his crows prayed to the Abyssal lord of flying things, Pazuzu. Pazuzu granted their request. In thrall to Pazuzu for many years, they ultimately escaped not so much by their cleverness but because they were so distractable that they made lousy minions. In rage, Pazuzu took away their ability to fly and stranded them on the Material Plane, not fully humanoid and no longer avian.

Quorlinn salvaged the situation as best as he could. With the help of Raven (who was getting sick of hearing Quorlinn's constant whining about the matter), Quorlinn was able to provide (read: steal) working wings for at least some of his people, who became known as the koppa-tengu. For the rest, Quorlinn taught them to disguise themselves - and especially their long beaks - enough to pass around humanoid civilizations. Known as the kenku, they wandered the great cities of the world, making their way as tricksters, spies, rogues, and thieves.

The flighty, opportunistic kenku aren't always faithful to Quorlinn. Sometimes, attracted to whatever promises come their way, they drift toward gods like Pazuzu, Vecna, Amatsu-Mikaboshi and Sung Chiang. In this way, they aren't very different from the flighty, opportunistic Quorlinn. Or, for that matter, Raven. Still, when they're done with their theological wandering, Quorlinn always takes them back. He has also taken under his wing the related species of dire corbies, though those savage near-beasts are even more difficult than the kenku.

Besides Raven, his friends in the Shinto pantheon, and Syranita - the one member of the asathalfinare who will deign to talk to and occasionally help him - Quorlinn is on good terms with Meriadar, the patron of the mongrelfolk. Like the kenku, mongrelfolk wander the cities of other races in disguise; they have a mutual pact so that neither race will casually "out" the other.

Palomides's picture
Joined: 2010-06-26
Re: Raven and His Echo

Nice merger of the traditional legend and the RPG-spawned

sciborg2's picture
Joined: 2005-07-26
Re: Raven and His Echo

Great story - liked who the Echo turns out to be and his relationship with his worshipers.


Health Resources: Register family with 911 services, so providers will have info prior to emergency/disaster. Also mental health info & hotlines, articles, treatment assistance options, prescription assistance, special needs registries, legal aid, and more!

Planescape, Dungeons & Dragons, their logos, Wizards of the Coast, and the Wizards of the Coast logo are ©2008, Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc. and used with permission.