The Eggs Story
The Egg Arrives
11 Lormesta, early in the evening:
Rafferty had only just returned to town, his knapsack full of bluebells for the herbalist, when he heard the familiar sound of wings from his blind side. Internally, he heaved a sigh, then turned his head to see what mischief was bearing down on him this time.
A certain parrot flapped closer, its flight ungainly. It landed in the midst of Bayside Road in front of him, balancing briefly on its peg leg as it carefully lowered its ovoid burden to the cobbles. It cocked its colorful head to one side and peered up at him, then looked down at the egg... then back up, and back down again.
"Yer the father!" it squawked abruptly, following the absurd pronouncement with a raspy chuckle.
Rafferty stood stock-still in the middle of the road, then stammered out a confused, "...what?" It took him a moment to string more words together. "I don't... I don't think that's possible. Whose egg is that?" He took a step forward and knelt, paying only enough attention to the foot traffic around him to ensure the bird and the object in question weren't about to be stepped on.
The parrot eyed Rafferty and the egg again in turn, then flapped its wings once in affront. "Mine!" it squawked.
He blinked. "Then, uh... you're the mother?" he asked.
The parrot bobbed its head repeatedly. "You got me pregnant by lookin' at me!" it shrilled. This turned a few passing heads.
The beleaguered half-elf pinched the bridge of his nose and let out a long, measured exhalation. That wasn't how it worked. That wasn't how any of this worked. "That's really not possible," he repeated with forced patience. "Like, twice over."
The parrot stamped its- no, her little peg leg against the cobblestones. "Yer the father, incubate it!"
He shook his head. "But I'm not!" he protested, though at this point he was pretty sure this wasn't an argument he was going to win. Regardless of how absolutely ludicrous it was to be having it in the first place.
"Are too!" his personal feathery doom cackled.
Rafferty met her insistence with his own stubbornness. "Nope." Grudgingly, he continued, "But if you need help, uh, keeping your egg warm, I can do that." A brief pause, then he quickly added, "But it's not mine." Somewhat quieter, he grumbled to himself, "I just like birds. Good thing for you."
The parrot sagged a little. Was she disappointed? "Ok, you keep!" She lowered her head and nudged the egg in a wobbly course toward him.
Rafferty eyed the tiny egg with no small amount of trepidation, then picked it up. It was noticeably warm, even after having rested on the chill cobblestone for a few minutes. He closed his hands around it to guard it from the winter chill. "Alright, you," he muttered. "I need to find you a good warm pocket that won't get... well, squished."
The parrot twitched her head and watched him closely out of one eye for a moment. Mantling her multicolored wings, she squawked, "See! Yer the father now!"
He shook his head, resolute in his denial. "Nope. Just helping a friend." He rummaged for a moment in one of the small pouches attached to his baldric, then set the egg within on a bed of disordered paper scraps that might, at one point, been a scroll or two. As he climbed to his feet again, he glanced left and right, then pitched his voice low. "Just... don't tell anyone, okay?"
The parrot bobbed up and down. "Won't tell!" She clacked her beak a few times and spread her wings wide. With a series of awkward hops, she flung herself into the air and circled once before flying away with a quiet chortle of "Yer tha father now."
Rafferty just muttered to himself.
The Plot Thickens
12 Fashanos, evening:
Rafferty lounged against a post at the edge of the boardwalk in Marshtown. As he considered braving the crush of Solhaven proper to see what the local guild taskmaster might offer for work, a tiny, muffled cheep reached his ears. It was coming from the shearling pouch around his neck.
This wasn't the first time, or even the second. The kobold, Grubbe, had heard it first, or so he'd said. Rafferty hadn't heard anything then. More recently, he'd caught a faint peep and, when he'd checked the egg, it had rocked a little on its own. But only a little, as if that effort had worn out whatever was growing inside.
He sighed and fished around in the pouch, plucking the warm egg from its ermine nest and cupping it between his palms to ward off as much chill as he could. He held it to his ear and listened, filtering out the ambient noise and focusing like he'd learned from the Sylvankind in his youth. Another tiny cheep came from the egg. It didn't move.
He pulled the egg away from his ear and exhaled on it, warming it further with his breath. "No hatching till your... mom, or whatever, gets back," he quietly admonished. "Just stay warm and cozy." He gingerly tucked the egg back in his neckpouch and cast an uneasy, self-conscious glance around the boardwalk. Nobody was outright staring at him for talking to an egg, but a couple people glanced away as if they'd been looking.
Another sound came from the pouch, an echo of the earlier cheep but oddly hollow and disturbingly deep. That didn't sound like a baby bird at all.
"Arright," Rafferty muttered to himself, blinking. "That was creepy." He listened, but the sound wasn't repeated, and the the egg stayed quiescent. No tapping or cracking, so it wasn't about to hatch...
He shook his head. "Just a bird," he assured himself, but his tone was uncertain. "Weird, uh, acoustics in the egg or something. Just a bird." When nothing else happened, he forced himself to relax and occupied himself considering what he might need to feed it when it hatched.
A strange thought intruded, unbidden: fresh, raw meat. He blinked and shook his head. No, that was silly. Parrots don't eat meat, why would baby parrots need it? Maybe fruit, or seeds...
"Well, we'll figure it out," he murmured. "Should be lots of options available, even in winter..."
He trailed off. The sense of unease stuck with him. That was a weird sound. What kind of egg was this, anyway? Was it really a parrot, or had Pegbird stuck him with something else entirely? This birdie -- or whatever -- caretaker thing was getting stranger all the time.
Another strange thought, this one stronger and definitely not his. It felt a lot like an empathic link settling into place, actually... "Daddy!" The mental assertion was firm, less a word than a concept.
Rafferty froze and his heart skipped a beat. Oh no. No, no no. This was so not happening. "I'm imagining things," he whispered to himself, forcing down the panic. "Who ever heard of an empathic parrot. Nope."
Everything was normal. Everything was fine.
The sensation of an external connection faded away, and didn't return. No other crazy thoughts popped into his head. He gathered a few strange and concerned looks, but he ignored them. He breathed. He waited.
"Right," he told himself, then cleared his throat to dispel the lingering shakiness of his voice. "Yeah. Food. Let's go find some bird food." Purposefully, though perhaps with a bit of hesitation in his step, he strode down the boardwalk toward Market Bridge.
The Egg's Musings
Posted by GM Skhorne
The small egg sat quietly in its neckpouch nest, happy and content for now. It knew it was close to hatching and it was getting restless and hungry. It knew it wasn't what everyone thought it was, but it seemed to like it that way. It was enjoying having a bit of fun.
It could feel and hear the warmth and the heartbeat of the one it had chosen as it's "father". It was easy to trick that parrot into thinking it was its egg and to pass it on to some unsuspecting person. It could feel the flock getting restless and knew it was nearly time, but for now they all bid their time...waiting for its call of freedom.
The egg sent soothing thoughts to its 'father' everything was ok, it was just a poor defenseless parrotlet, with a strange dietary craving, though so far it seemed unable to pass that craving onto its 'father' maybe a little bit more, a little stronger bond is all it would take..what could it do? Ah a plan was hatching in the tiny creatures mind.
don't worry I will hatch soon..soon you will see your child.
13 Fashanos, evening:
Chayka whispers, "That egg is bad, you should get rid of it." Chayka whispers, "I don't know what it is, but I think it is cursed!"
Rafferty sat slumped among the tangled roots of an old faewood tree. It didn't feel like winter in Imaera's Grove, but the air was still crisp. The tiny green egg lay nestled in one loosely curled fist against his chest. His thumb twitched back and forth as he brooded.
"I dunno what to do with you, little guy," he murmured with a frown. "The kid I only met today said you might... well. Something might not be right with you. And given some of what I felt last night, I'm inclined to agree."
He shifted the egg with his fingertips, turning it around in his palm. "But what's 'bad', anyway," he mused. "How much of that is... just..." He trailed off with a plaintive sigh. "I dunno. Did I do something wrong?"
He thought back to the banishment ritual on the trail, with its circle of shadow amethysts, Jourwen's steady chanting, the shrieking waves of vicious dolls. Had he exposed the egg to something malign? The scruffy half-elf frowned down at the egg and asked with a mixture of guilt and confusion, "Did I screw you up, or did you start out this way?"
There was no answer. The egg was quiet, its occupant asleep or at least keeping its opinions to itself.
Rafferty sat in contemplative silence for a while. Around him the trees whispered to each other in the language of creaking branches and rustling leaves. A flicker lit on the trunk of the tree above him and rapped out a staccato beat, paused, then launched itself away.
"I feel..." He hesitated, then continued the slow exploration of his thoughts aloud. "I feel like I should at least see if the Windrunner or the Shaper, or one of theirs, can look you over. Maybe there's something that can be corrected before you hatch." He turned the egg in his palm again. "But... if you're off, that doesn't make you bad. Or wrong. You might start out with some trouble, but it doesn't mean you have to stay there, right?"
The egg continued its cozy absorption of his warmth. Not even a hint of a stir.
He heaved a gusty sigh. "I'm in over my head here."
The next day:
Rafferty climbed the tree overlooking the tiny elven village. Nimarue, the feral sylvankind he'd asked for help, wasn't far behind. Though a priestess of the Huntress, she was still a child of the Shaper. Surely she could help.
He reached the limbs that stretched forward over the village and stepped out onto them. They were broad and intentionally shaped. The arms ended in great hands that cradled a bowl between them.
Rafferty settled himself on a wrist, and Nimarue sat nearby on the other. The half-elf gestured at the vista of treetops that spread for miles around. "The view is nice," he commented, then glanced up at the face of the statue looming above them. "Do you know this place?"
Nimarue laid her hands against the bark to either side of her and regarded the tree with interest. "I have heard about it."
His voice took on a note of reverence. "This is Jaston, the Windrunner. He protects birds." He drew open his neckpouch and pulled the little green egg from its depths.
The sylvankind woman twisted toward him and leaned forward, her eyes on the egg. "This is the egg that speaks?"
Rafferty nodded. "A parrot gave me this egg to watch. But it's..." He hesitated. "Well. It doesn't seem to be a normal bird egg at all. Whatever's inside has started reaching out to my mind. It wants meat."
Nimarue gingerly ran a finger over the egg's curved surface. Her bright golden gaze flicked up and speared him with its frank focus. "Meat is nice," she remarked, clearly seeing no issue with the creature's dietary desires. "What sort of meat does it require?"
"Fresh and raw is what it seems to want," he replied. He shifted his weight slightly, uneasy and certain he wasn't quite getting his point across. "The kind of bird this is supposed to be doesn't usually eat meat," he explained.
"Perhaps it does not understand."
Rafferty shook his head, then tried a different angle. "A boy I met yesterday -- well, kind of boy -- said the egg was bad and I should get rid of it. That it was cursed." The priestess just watched him, her expression thoughtful and expectant. "I want... well. I don't want something that's not even been born yet to just get thrown away," he continued. "Even if it's not quite... normal. Or right."
Nimarue nodded. "I could bless it for you," she said, "but I am not sure the Huntress is whom you seek."
The half-elf shrugged. "I think here, where Jaston has influence, any help is good help. You know?" He gave her a half-hearted grin and carefully placed the egg in the bowl, then pulled out the small ermine pelt he'd been using to pad the neckpouch and tucked it around the egg for warmth. It rested in the hollow, bright against the white fur.
The priestess cupped her hands over the bowl. She murmured a low chant, and Rafferty couldn't catch the words, but the egg seemed to glow faintly for a moment in response.
Hunger wormed its way through Rafferty's mind, a subtle craving. He'd started carrying more bits of food in his pouches, and before he had brought Nimarue up here to the tree, he'd stopped at a butcher's shop and bought some chunks of squirrel meat, just in case the egg decided today's poking and prodding meant it was time to hatch. He could smell it, and for some reason it smelled really, really good right now. Too good.
He reached for a pouch absently and had the raw meat halfway to his mouth before he stopped. No, this wasn't for him. It was for the bird. He eyed the red chunk staining his fingers. "I'm really not hungry," he told himself firmly. "This is not as good as it looks right now." The meat went back into the waxed paper package in his pouch, and he returned his attention to the bowl.
Nimarue was crooning to the egg. "You will hatch into a fine bird, with the blessings of both the Huntress and Jaston."
Rafferty muttered his own small prayer to Jaston on the egg's behalf. For a moment, the egg rocked, and a disjointed series of images flashed across his mind: people fleeing in terror, freezing mid-stride as they turned to stone. He blinked and shot Nimarue a startled look. She nodded slowly, indicating that she, too, had seen that vision. "Did the damn parrot find a basilisk egg?" he wondered aloud.
The priestess circled her hands along the sides of the bowl. "No," she replied with a distracted tone. "I do not think something so uninteresting as a basilisk." She pitched her voice lower. "But you do love your Rafferty, do you not, little egg?"
The egg quivered and its delight was palpable.
Rafferty sighed. "I don't want people to get hurt," he complained. "But the little guy deserves a chance."
Nimarue continued to croon at the egg. "He wishes you to be a happy and healthy bird who will stay with him and be his companion." She stroked her fingertips over the egg's shivering surface.
As if in response, another hazy image inserted itself into Rafferty's mind, this time the peg-legged parrot, Pegbird, sitting on his own shoulder and snuggling close, almost buried in his hair. The image faded and the egg calmed its movements.
The half-elf pinched the bridge of his nose, shaking his head, and the priestess afforded him an amused smile. "You can be a fierce hunter and protector, little guy," he muttered. "And have all the raw meat you can eat. Just be good."
Nimarue looked ready to laugh at him, but instead she murmured, "Do you wish to be back with your Rafferty for now, little egg?"
A moment later, the egg rocked toward him, rolling partway out of its ermine nest in the bowl before falling back. The intent was clear. He plucked both from the bowl and rearranged the pelt in his neck pouch once again, then settled the egg back in its nest before closing the pouch.
"Well, at least it seems happy. And not ready to hatch yet."
Nimarue finally allowed her mirth to quietly bubble up. "Whatever the creature might be, it loves you."
Rafferty shifted uneasily but gave a reluctant nod. "Dunno what I did to deserve that."
"You cared for it. Is that not enough?"
He shrugged. "I mean, anyone would do that, right?"
She shook her head slowly. "Its mother did not," she pointed out, then nodded firmly. "You are its family now," she said. "It needs you more than a blessing."
Rafferty eyed her dubiously and then glanced away with a self-conscious scratch at his neck. "Maybe."
The Egg Hatches
27 Fashanos, evening:
The egg was restless. The birds were restless. Rafferty was restless.
When the peg-legged parrot landed on his shoulder to harangue him about hatching and argue about who did or didn't lay the egg, the birds seemed almost normal. But all too soon, the sparrows were mobbing like they had the night before, eyeing him hungrily. The parrot flew off, chased by a flock of ravens. Rafferty managed to deflect the attention of the sparrows with promises of seed and insects elsewhere, but he knew they'd be back. He'd best find more food for them if the local avians were this stirred up.
The egg rocked in its pouch. He suspected its agitation had something to do with the birds acting so strange. Was it projecting, or did they sense something amiss?
While he looked for suitable bird food near the river just north of Solhaven, he sent out a thought, asking if anyone else had seen any odd bird behavior lately. Soon, others joined him to see what the fuss was about. Whick in particular seemed entirely too entertained by the disturbance and indicated some understanding of impending doom that he cryptically refused to elaborate upon.
The group was set upon by several ravens. After fighting off the enraged birds, a parrot's screech was heard from the direction of town. Rafferty led the group back down Tumbledown Lane and along Bayside Road before they were cut off by sparrows.
A large flock of larger than normal ravens can be seen circling high up in the sky, as if looking for something. The egg continues to shake. Whick loudly calls, "Yoohoo! Birdies! The expectant father's right here!" You hopefully say, "Maybe that means she's found a place to hide." You stare at Whick. You try to roll Whick over, but he isn't lying down. Speaking to Whick, you hiss, "Shut up!" Whick grins at you wickedly. Tanai yells, "Don't poop on me!" A present drops from one of the ravens and onto Tanai. Tanai stares off into space. Tanai angrily exclaims, "Gross!"
They were unable to find shelter or proceed further into town to ensure the parrot's safety. The egg grew increasingly restless and, with others standing guard, Rafferty withdrew it from its neckpouch-nest so that it had room to hatch.
Meanwhile, Whick shared champagne and was far, far too amused by all of this.
As the egg began to hatch, the group was attacked by waves of ravens. The others fought them off while Rafferty shielded the egg. Between waves, he encouraged the egg's occupant to peck its way out. (He may have, at one point, been caught absently munching on some raw meat. He was as surprised as everyone else.)
More pecking can be heard from the egg, a small hole forming as a tiny beak tip appears to break through. The egg shakes again, more pecking as the hole starts getting a little larger. The hole in the egg is just big enough and a large yellow eye peers out of the hole. The eye is slit-pupiled like that of a reptile and a cross between a bird squawk and a hiss can be heard coming from the egg as the eye darts back and forth. An enormous shadow blots out the sky. A pair of talons suddenly appears from the darkness and clamp down on Whick's shoulders, lifting him away into the night. Whick just disappeared. Leiana exclaims, "Oh no!" You stare upward. Leiana glances up. Sdathea glances up. Leiana yells, "Whick!" Tanai exclaims, "Oh hooray!" Sdathea shrugs. You say, "Wow. That was..." Sdathea waves. From nearby, you hear Whick yell, "Ack!" You admit, "...pretty awesome." Dazen giggles. Dazen applauds. You belt out, "Learn to fly, Whick!" Tanai yells, "And keep him!" Ulvian says, "On second thought, don't learn to fly."
After Whick was carted off by a huge bird, swamp owls attacked and were defeated by those present. (Whick, unfortunately, returned not long after.) The egg continued to slowly hatch, and while still in the shell, its occupant let out a loud screech, calling for something. Shortly after, the peg-legged parrot flew in, safe and sound after all. Another screech from the egg's occupant preceded a wave of rampaging cockatrices.
The egg suddenly breaks open completely, inside is a slightly down covered ugly little creature. It looks like a cross between a parrot, with its hooked beak and more or less like the cockatrice that just came through.
The hatchling hopped down from Rafferty's hand and the peg-legged parrot followed it to get a closer look. The parrot was not at all pleased, and asserted that it wasn't its baby. In response, the hatchling glared at the parrot and turned it to stone.
In an attempt to distract the hatchling from causing any more casualties, Rafferty fed it many bits of raw meat. With each bite, it grew larger and larger. After gorging itself, it abruptly took to the air, ominously announcing that it was time to really feed, and then swooped back down to attack.
A shadow passes overhead as a deformed hatchling soars into view!
The group was careful in fighting it off. Rafferty tried to talk it down while the others worked to disable the beast rather than kill it outright. Finally, the hatchling calmed down.
Speaking to you, Whick offers, "I could help teach you to train it." Speaking to Whick, you say, "You can get bent."
The hatchling finally responded to Rafferty's appeals to its better nature and, abashed, promised it would go far away. Rafferty invited it to come back if it could behave. The hatchling acknowledged with a nod and nuzzled Rafferty before flying off with an apology, and the other circling birds that had been so riled up followed after it.
After a short while, the peg-legged parrot reverted from stone to flesh and returned, dazed, to Rafferty's shoulder, where it fell asleep. With the excitement over, the group dispersed, leaving Rafferty to brood.
Bonus round: pre-conclusion banter with the parrot.
The parrot blinks at Rafferty, "Who said I was a parrot? I might have been cursed.. You could always kiss me on the beak and see if I turn into a princess or something." It cackles out a squawk. You roll your eyes. You dryly say, "Nice try." The parrot squawks, "Or maybe I am some magicians familiar and this is his or her voice you are hearing." You scratch your chin. You allow, "Okay, you've got a point there." You pointedly say, "If that's the case, someone is -really- bored." You warn, "And if I find out you're actually a familiar and some mage somewhere has been screwing with me this whole time..." You crack your knuckles! You note, "I've been told I got a mean right hook." You mutter, "Crazy bird." The bird squawks, "Who's the crazy one, the bird or the one talking to the bird?"
And finally, thanks to Skhorne for the entertaining story arc, and to everyone who joined in on the fun throughout and at the end. You all have been making Plat a lot of fun to play. :D