Champions of Letherna
The Nature of the Raven Queen
The Raven Queen appears most often in the form of a human woman, and some suggest that she had a hand in the creation of the race of humans because of this preference. She is most often depicted as a tall woman with skin as white as bleached bone and midnight-black hair, wearing either courtly dress or a long cowled robe — dressed entirely in black. Her eyes reveal her true nature: they lack whites, pupils, or irises, being instead a blackness filled with pinpoints of light, a reflection of the stars in the night sky.
She has other appearances, as well. Among the barbarians of the far north, where she bears the title Old Mother Winter, she is depicted as a crone, bent with age, dressed in white save her cloak of raven’s feathers. Despite her seeming frailty, she has an unbreakable grip, and she has been known to choke the life out of even the bravest and strongest of warriors who gets lost among the snow and howling winds of the storms she brings. She is said to spin each snowflake on her loom of fate, encoding a small portion of destiny within its unique pattern, and many barbarian shamans practice the art of divination by reading snowflakes. The fiercest storms, they claim, reveal the most of the future, for those who can withstand them.
In the vast deserts of the south, where winter never comes, she is titled both Leafblighter and Peacebringer, and there she is depicted as a blind young girl in dark robes, whose footsteps cause the most fertile ground to decay to desert sand. The brush of her robe causes a living thing to die, yet the touch of her hand cures all manner of sickness and infirmity and ensures a long life. She walks among the villages and the nomadic tribes, doling out health or death as she will.
When the Raven Queen takes animal form, she usually chooses to be embodied either as a large raven, or as a white wolf.
Her weapons are the spear and the scythe, and she is fearsome in battle; one myth tells of a duel fought between the Raven Queen and Bane that went on for a full century without respite or victor — the pair chose to call a draw in order to return to their other duties.
The Raven Queen is a mercurial being. Sometimes she is as callous as Asmodeus himself; other times she is kind, even loving. She is as implacable as death itself, yet she has been known to show mercy, or even, on occasion, to be swayed by a mortal’s plea.
At times, too, she will bargain over mortal lives; there are several tales of the Raven Queen accepting a woman’s life in place of her lover’s. At least one tale in this vein has a twist: in exchange for a woman’s life, the Queen takes not the man’s life, but his memories of her. Then, too, there are the rituals evil priests have been known to carry out, sacrificing innocent lives to the Raven Queen to extend their own. At first, these priests need only exchange a single life for their own, but as they grow older and continue to defy the bounds of fate, they require larger sacrifices to appease the Queen. And no matter how many they kill, the day will come when the Queen refuses the bargain — for she allows none to escape fate entirely.
Because of her knowledge of destiny, the Raven Queen is sometimes petitioned for information. While she will bargain for this as well, there is often a trap for the unwary in what she reveals. She might omit some important detail that was not directly asked about, or provide detailed information about an extraneous point. She will not lie, but she might mislead. She takes a dim view of those who attempt to circumvent fate, but she does delight in watching the “foreknowledge” they gain from their bargain with her ultimately lead them to the fate they had been trying to avoid.