The only warning you’ll get is that fearsome, far-off caw, echoing from the darkness like a death knell. For by the time those glowing red eyes fix on you, it’s far too late to run…
Some adventurers and sages whisper that deep crows were first spawned as the familiars of evil arcane casters, abandoned in the subterranean depths and left to grow to enormous size. Others claim these creatures were once normal crows transmuted by vile essence and viler powers. But one thing all agree on is that ending up a meal for one of these monstrosities is a too-real threat for those who stumble into their deadly lairs.
Though the deep crow most immediately resembles a massive version of its namesake bird, this creature is a unique form of avian insect. Seen up close, it can easily be discerned from any other giant bird by its insectoid maw, its four-clawed feet, and the cluster of red eyes that are the most unsettling part of its appearance.
The deep crow’s most fearsome attack is the bite of its mandibles, which can seize and hold almost any creature. Their preferred attack is a snatch-and-grab that sees a deep crow flying off with a living victim before its companions have any chance of counterattack. Provided the doomed prey doesn’t struggle, the deep crow takes it back to its lair to be devoured at leisure. Creatures that do struggle might be repeatedly dropped from a height to soften them up a bit.
Deep crows live alone for an unknown length of years, emerging from the lair only to hunt, to look for potential threats, and to mate. Mating is a once-in-a-lifetime urge that sees each deep crow involved in the pairing produce a cluster of four to eight eggs. Incubation lasts a year, followed by a year during which the fledgling deep crows stay close by their parent’s side. The young then set out to establish lairs of their own.
The mindset of these intelligent yet alien creatures is a mystery, but some who have encountered them relate that they are quick to hold a grudge. For years. Of even greater importance, they can teach their chicks to harbor the same resentments, instilling a cross-generational hatred of chosen foes that can last for centuries.
Deep crows and ancient deep crows roost in places both deep and warm, favoring sites with access to exposed lava. The spires of volcanic rock the creatures prize as roosts are common in such places, whose ambient warmth provides constant temperature regulation for the creature’s eggs.