Plume and Doom
Upon returning to his homeland, Nezahualpilli finds that a gruesome tragedy has the clan elders paralyzed with fear. As their chieftain, Nezahualpilli vows to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Nezahualpilli: Hmm... Still no clues to be found.
Nezahualpilli: I thought my tribesmen would have at least some information, but...
Lyria: Don't worry, Nezahualpilli! I'm sure you'll find the answer eventually! You always do!
Nezahualpilli: Hm. Yes, you're right, Lyria. The King of Eagles knows no defeat!
Vyrn: Heh heh! That's the spirit!
Nezahualpilli, (Captain), and company have gone incognito in search of clues to a mystery most puzzling.
It all began just a few hours ago.
Eagle King Nezahualpilli—chieftain of the Feathered Ones.
Many moons ago, he set out in search of power to overcome a harrowing prophecy believed by the elders of his tribe.
In time he learned that unknown power is not what they need.
But instead, the resolve to stand strong in the face of calamity itself.
Now he's returned to his land to share this newfound revelation.
Nezahualpilli: Hah hah hah! Ahh, how I've missed the breeze of my home peaks!
Vyrn: So this is where you grew up, huh? You guys sure like living in high places.
Nezahualpilli: But of course. We are the Clan of Feathers after all. The heights of the sky are our domain.
Vyrn: Wait, but aren't you scared of heights? Doesn't it bother you?
Nezahualpilli: I'm their chief! Would it be fit for the king of the eagles to fear high places and live on the ground?
Nezahualpilli: The lofty peaks are my destiny!
Is what I have to tell myself... every single day...
Vyrn: That... that's gotta be rough for ya...
Nezahualpilli: Oh, my friend... Rough does not begin to describe it...
Vyrn lets out a sigh and pats the downcast man on the back. Without warning, a hawk bursts from the forest and heads directly for the crew.
Vyrn: What the!
The crew is alarmed at first, but the bird weaves its way swiftly past them and comes to rest on Nezahualpilli's arm.
Nezahualpilli: By the winds! Kree! It's you!
Nezahualpilli: Hah hah hah! It's good to see you too!
Lyria: Is... is this bird a friend of yours?
Nezahualpilli: Ah, where are my manners. Introductions!
Nezahualpilli: This is Kreetori. We are more than friends; we are beak-brothers.
Nezahualpilli: I call him Kree, for short.
Lyria: Aww, what an adorable name! Hi there, Kree! I'm Lyria!
Kreetori opens his wings wide, takes to the air, and then comes to rest on (Captain)'s shoulder.
Nezahualpilli: Hah hah hah! Why am I not surprised!
Lyria: Um, I'm sorry? I don't quite follow.
Nezahualpilli: You see, Kree doesn't rest his feet upon just anyone. Only on those he deems worthy in strength will he perch.
Vyrn: And (Captain)'s as strong as they come! Didn't need a bird to tell me that! Heh heh.
Idle chatter and bouts of laughter sound through the forest as Kree and crew continue through the woods.
That is, however, until a woman runs up to them in a panic.
Chamberlain: Ch-Chief Nezahualpilli! You've returned!
Nezahualpilli: Ah, a welcoming party!
Nezahualpilli: Hm, but you seem shaken. What's wrong?
Chamberlain: M-my chief, I fear for the tribe...
Still trying to find her breath, the woman begins to explain.
Just before dawn, she set out on her usual rounds about the village. What the sunrise revealed, however, was an ungodly sight. Dead birds lay strewn across the village in horrifying numbers.
The elders saw this as a sign the prophesied end was close at hand. And the clan was thrown into chaos.
Nezahualpilli: I see... This is serious.
Nezahualpilli: The elders believe fervently in the prophecy—it's not hard to imagine they would draw such a conclusion.
Vyrn: I think I remember you saying something about your clan and that prophecy.
Vyrn: What's your Clan of Feathers all about anyway?
Nezahualpilli: Ah, I've yet to tell you about my clan, haven't I?
Nezahualpilli: Now's as good a time as ever then—allow me to explain.
A deep breath, a gathering of thoughts, and Nezahualpilli begins.
Nezahualpilli: Our clan's beginnings can be traced back to almost a thousand summers ago.
Nezahualpilli: The first of the Feathers believed that birds—they who fly so freely through the sky—were the true masters of this world.
Nezahualpilli: But to them, the birds were not gods to be feared; they were companions to live with in harmony.
Nezahualpilli: Just as Kreetori and I do.
Nezahualpilli: We believe that by doing so, one day we shall receive wings of our own, and share the sky with our companions as true equals.
Lyria: Ah, so that's why you look like an eagle!
Nezahualpilli: Indeed. My armor allows me to bend the wind so that I may soar as the birds do.
Lyria: Wow, that sounds like fun!
Chamberlain: Um... I'm sorry to interrupt but...
Nezahualpilli: Ah, my apologies. Returning to the matter at hand.
Nezahualpilli: Tell me more of what you saw. How many birds did you see... lying there?
Chamberlain: Oh, it was awful! There were easily five hundred of them, birds of all types...
Chamberlain: At first I thought they'd fought each other—a territorial dispute perhaps—but none had any wounds to be seen.
Nezahualpilli: Birds of all types...
Nezahualpilli: No... It couldn't be.
Chamberlain: Pardon me, my king?
Nezahualpilli: Ah, it was nothing. Pay it no mind.
Nezahualpilli: Thank you. I'll not ask you to relive that moment any longer. For now I must speak with the elders. Where are they?
Chamberlain: They... They're gathered in the great hall.
Nezahualpilli: Understood. As your king I shall get to the bottom of this matter. This I swear.
Nezahualpilli: My apologies, (Captain), but I must ask you and the crew to wait here.
Nezahualpilli: I cannot risk adding to the confusion by bringing outsiders into the village.
With that, Nezahualpilli parts ways with the crew and heads to the great hall.
Elder 1: The end is nigh... The end in nigh!
Elder 2: In this world of uncertainty, death is the only constant...
Nezahualpilli: I have returned!
A cold silence falls over the hall. All eyes are on Nezahualpilli.
Elder 1: Chieftain! Why are you here?
Nezahualpilli: I came to bring news of what I've learned in my travels, but it seems that will have to wait.
Nezahualpilli: I've been informed of what happened. And though I know fear grips your hearts...
Nezahualpilli: You must remain calm.
Nezahualpilli: I myself shall investigate this matter and bring to light its true cause!
Nezahualpilli: There is a reasonable explanation for all of this—there must be. Allow me to prove it to you.
Elder 1: With all due respect, there is nothing to investigate. As certain as the rooster crows at dawn, this is a sign of the end.
Nezahualpilli: How can you assume so? What if the birds have simply succumbed to starvation? Is that so impossible?
Elder 2: How sure of this are you? Sure enough to stake your place as Eagle King?
The room once again turns still. Some of the elders are stunned; others watch with bated breath. Nezahualpilli soon breaks the silence.
Nezahualpilli: Yes. I am.
This I vow: if I do not find the truth, I shall step down as leader.
Gasps fill the hall.
But none dare speak another word against the chief of chiefs.
Nezahualpilli: Nothing further? It's agreed then.
Nezahualpilli: And I believe it goes without saying that none beyond this room should hear of this. I do not wish to cause the clan any more distress.
Elder 2: Very well. Let us see if you are indeed still worthy to lead the clan.
Nezahualpilli: Then may your eyes see true.
With that, Nezahualpilli turns and leaves the great hall.
Lyria: Um, how did it go?
He gives them a brief outline of what transpired.
Nezahualpilli: At the very least, the storm has calmed for now. Though I'll have to give up my place as chief if I can't get to the bottom of this.
Lyria: What? Oh no...
Nezahualpilli: Hah hah hah! Why so solemn, Lyria?
Nezahualpilli: There's nothing to worry about! The truth will be found! Though I will have to leave the crew for a time...
Vyrn: Crazy talk! We're coming with you!
Nezahualpilli: I appreciate the sentiment, but this is a Clan of Feathers matter—I can't drag all of you into this.
Lyria: But you might lose your place as chief. We can't just leave you alone!
Vyrn: Yeah! We're a team! Right, (Captain)?
Nezahualpilli: Yes, you are correct. But what comes first is the tribe and the preservation of peace—my pride as chief be damned.
Nezahualpilli: I accept your generous offer, trusted friends.
Vyrn: Heh heh. C'mon then, we got a case to crack!
Nezahualpilli: Come friends! The truth shall be ours!
And so the stage is set. A mysterious calamity. A tribe in turmoil.
A king who would give all for his people. And friends who would give all for him.
They set forth for another village; to answers—to the shocking truth.
Murder Most Fowl
In disguise, Nezahualpilli travels with the crew to another village in search of clues. They learn that a clan called the Eyes of the Night has been terrorizing Feathered Ones in numerous towns.
(Captain) and crew continue their investigation into the deaths of the birds.
In search of answers they've come to another village where Feathered Ones live.
Nezahualpilli: Now, let's look for one of my tribe to speak to.
Vyrn: Say, I was wondering, how come no one notices you're the chief even when you're not hiding your face or anything?
Nezahualpilli: Well, in a way I actually am in disguise. Most have only seen me in my royal garb—that feathery armor I usually wear.
Nezahualpilli: So none but my closest subjects would recognize me as I am now.
Vyrn: Hmm. If you say so.
Nezahualpilli: But I'll need your help as well; be sure not to say anything that might suggest I'm chieftain.
Lyria: All right! We'll be careful!
They resteel themselves and return to their search for a tribesman.
Just then, they spot two young men peering out at them from the shadow of a building.
Nezahualpilli: Excellent. Let's talk to those two.
Nezahualpilli: You there! Yes, both of you!
Clansman 1: ...!
The two seem wary at first, even stepping back when the crew approaches. But Nezahualpilli speaks in a calm voice.
Nezahualpilli: Wait. Have no fear. We are but travelers looking for good company.
Clansman 2: Hm? Those feathers... Are you one of us?
Nezahualpilli: I am.
The young men breathe a sigh of relief.
Clansman 1: Brother! Please, come join us in the shade!
Nezahualpilli: Hah hah hah! Don't mind if I do!
Nezahualpilli and the boys hit it off immediately, due in no small part to the chief's amiable demeanor.
They chat freely about the village and its specialties. Once they seem comfortable enough, Nezahualpilli leads into a more serious topic.
Nezahualpilli: I'm curious though... Why did you two seem so wary of us when we first met?
Clansman 1: Well, you see...
The young man hesitates, his brows furrowing.
Nezahualpilli: Did something happen?
Clansman 1: There's been... talk of the clan's villages being attacked. One after another.
Clansman 2: From what survivors have said, the attackers could see in the night as if it was day.
Clansman 2: They called themselves... The Eyes of the Night.
Nezahualpilli: The Eyes of the Night...
Nezahualpilli: I see. It's not hard to imagine why you were on guard when you met us.
Clansman 1: I'm sorry, but we just can't be too careful. This village might be next on their list.
Nezahualpilli: No, I understand perfectly.
Clansman 2: Well, if worse comes to worst, the great chief will do something about it. I know it!
Clansman 1: Speak for yourself. Him against an entire village-razing clan?
Clansman 1: The man hasn't even found a way to save us from the prophecy. Can't say I'm brimming with confidence.
Clansman 2: Watch it! That's the King of Eagles you're talking about!
Nezahualpilli quickly tries to calm the two before things escalate.
Nezahualpilli: Peace, brothers! Fighting will solve nothing—only together are we strong.
Clansman 2: But...
Nezahualpilli: And even if the prophecy does come to pass, we can still rise above it, like unto eagles in a storm!
Clansman 1: Easy for you to say...
Clansman 1: Y'know, you sound just like the chief—big talk and lots of promises.
Nezahualpilli: Ngh... Is that so...
Abruptly, Kree rouses from his nearby perch.
The bird glides to Nezahualpilli's shoulder and begins pecking at his clothes and headdress.
Nezahualpilli: H-hey! What are you doing!
Kreetori: Kree! Kree!
Nezahualpilli: Ah! My apologies, you two! I'd best be on my way!
Seeming to have realized something, Nezahualpilli bids his tribesmen farewell.
Lyria: Wait for us!
(Captain) and company follow after him, leaving the two young men standing in a daze.
Clansman 1: ...
Was that... Chief Nezahualpilli?
Clansman 2: Nah. The chief wouldn't be caught dead wearing that. Those feathers are so last season.
Nezahualpilli: Right. This should be far enough.
Nezahualpilli: Hah hah hah! What would I do without you, Kree?
Nezahualpilli: Kree saw that I was starting to let on about my identity. He says I should watch my words.
Lyria: Hehe. Good job, Kree!
Nezahualpilli: Thank you, Kree! I'll be more careful next time.
With Kreetori's help, the crew have managed to keep Nezahualpilli's identity secret for now.
They also begin to sense the strength of the bond between the man and his hawk.
Murder Most Fowl: Scene 2
Nezahualpilli suspects the Eyes of the Night are behind the tragedy in his own village as well. It's then that assassins appear and make an attempt on the chieftain's life.
The crew continues their investigation, stopping to rest only well into the night.
Nezahualpilli: The Eyes of the Night... That's all we have to go on.
Vyrn: Sigh... Still got nothing on the disaster.
Nezahualpilli: Actually, perhaps we do. In fact, I think we're making progress.
Nezahualpilli: You see, I suspected that what befell those birds was not natural disaster, but a calculated massacre.
Nezahualpilli: There was no word of any strange weather that day. And even had there been, what natural occurrence could kill so many birds?
Nezahualpilli: What's more, I've never known birds of different feathers to gather into one flock.
Nezahualpilli: And no matter what, the Feathered Ones would never kill the very birds we revere.
Nezahualpilli: Which leaves but one explanation: this was the work of a third party.
Vyrn: And you think the guys who did it are—
Nezahualpilli: The Eyes of the Night. It's more than likely.
Nezahualpilli: They go from village to village killing Feathered Ones. It's obvious they hate us in the extreme.
Nezahualpilli: I'm sorry I didn't speak of this earlier, but I thought it wrong to share the theory without more proof.
Lyria: But why would they do something so awful...
Nezahualpilli: I do not know. But until we learn of their motives—
He stops mid-sentence. The stench of bloodlust is in the air.
Nezahualpilli: Show yourself!
Nezahualpilli's words echo through the still forest.
Footfalls sound in response.
An armed group emerges from the shadows to surround the crew.
Nezahualpilli: I'll only ask this once. Who are you?
???: Ha! Nezahualpilli. Killing you would be the death of all Feathered Ones. One stone, all the birds.
With no further warning, the strangers attack.
Vyrn: Crud! It's too dark! I can't see a thing!
Nezahualpilli: (It's them! The Eyes of the Night!)
Murder Most Fowl: Scene 3
Nezahualpilli deduces that only an elder could have led the assassins to him. Sure enough, one of the elders reveals himself as a member of the Eyes of the Night, and escapes with his band of assassins. Though the culprits are still at large, Nezahualpilli has taken a vital step toward uniting his people.
Nezahualpilli: Prepare to taste defeat!
???: Damn! Pull back!
With curses on their lips, the attackers retreat into the dark of night.
Vyrn: You're not getting away that easy!
Nezahualpilli: Stop! The darkness is their domain—they could turn the tide against us if we follow.
The crew takes Nezahualpilli's advice and regroups.
Vyrn: What the heck was that?
Nezahualpilli: The way they moved in the dark... They're the Eyes of the Night.
Vyrn: Crud! I knew it!
Nezahualpilli: More important, however... is how they knew who I was.
Lyria: Ah! That's right! You said this was enough of a disguise...
Nezahualpilli: Only a certain few could see through this guise.
Nezahualpilli: None but my closest subjects and advisors.
Nezahualpilli: And out of that group, the only ones who knew of this investigation were... the elders.
Nezahualpilli: If it was truly one of them, then all the pieces fall into place.
Vyrn: You're saying an elder told those guys how to find you?
Nezahualpilli: That's the only explanation that makes sense, no matter how much I wish it weren't true.
Nezahualpilli: We have to find out the truth. Everyone, we're going back!
The crew makes haste for the hall of the elders
Elder 1: Chief Nezahualpilli! You've returned! Have you uncovered the mystery of this disaster?
Nezahualpilli: I have. And much, much more. First, I must ask if all the elders are present in this room.
Elder 1: Of course, why would we not—hm? Wait, there's one of us missing.
Elder 2: Yes, he said he had some sort of urgent errand.
Nezahualpilli: If only we'd come sooner! He must be the one...
Elder 1: Chieftain? What's the meaning of all this?
Nezahualpilli: Pray pardon me, great elders, but there's no time to explain. Remain here until I return—all will be revealed then.
Nezahualpilli: Go, Kree!
Nezahualpilli: Find the elder! We'll follow after you!
Kreetori takes flight and lets out a cry as if to urge the others on.
The crew follows the bird out of the hall and into the open village.
Kreetori finds the elder and gives chase, as does the crew.
They close the gap, and Nezahualpilli leaps to block the elder's path of escape.
Elder (?): Tsk!
Nezahualpilli: There's nowhere left to run! Surrender and come with us.
However, from the shadows emerge the assassins from before.
They move in to create a wall around the elder.
Nezahualpilli: So this is how you infiltrated the village!
Elder (?): Fear not, men. Stand down.
The assassins obey without hesitation.
Nezahualpilli: Does this mean you choose to surrender?
Elder (?): Humph... Haha... Hahahaha!
Nezahualpilli: Just who are you?
The elder raises a sickly laugh... and his appearance shifts.
Nezahualpilli: You... you're one of them!
Night Eyes Leader: Ahh, Nezahualpilli. Not as bird-brained as I thought. How soon you found me out. Congratulations.
Nezahualpilli: I've heard word of your folly! Why do you do this to us? Tell me!
Night Eyes Leader: Oh, how little you know.
Night Eyes Leader: We share the same ancestry, your people and mine. The blood runs deep.
Nezahualpilli: Then all the more! Why hurt your own kin?
Night Eyes Leader: ...
Our eyes see more. We rule the battlefield of night. But it was for that very power we were abhorred, persecuted.
Night Eyes Leader: Your people—trapped in your delusions of fear—cast us out from the nest like strangelings. Because of how we were born! Because of who we were!
Night Eyes Leader: You speak of kin? You left your kin to die! You know nothing of our pain!
The hatred in the man's voice is feverish. Solemnly, Nezahualpilli answers.
Nezahualpilli: You're right. I can't begin to understand your pain. But we are not our ancestors, and we need not be enemies as they were.
Night Eyes Leader: Ha! Of course you don't. Your kind sees nothing but yourselves.
Night Eyes Leader: That's why you fools are ruled by that empty prophecy!
Night Eyes Leader: At the mere sight of those dead birds, you quivered with fear and wailed of "The End." Your shameful display has made it clearer than ever: we are superior to you.
Night Eyes Leader: The winds of change usher in a new era. Soon we shall be called the true Feathered Ones!
Nezahualpilli: So... this is why you wish us ill.
Nezahualpilli: It's as you say. And only I can take the blame for the tribe's unrest.
Nezahualpilli: But that only gives more reason for our tribes to join hands!
Nezahualpilli: Together we'll be stronger. We can make a better future together! Our unity will bring about new hope!
Nezahualpilli: There's no need for bloodshed!
Nezahualpilli: What time but now to make amends for mistakes of the past!
Night Eyes Leader: Bah... I'd do better talking to a tree... You dare think us equals? Does the panther join hands with the cockerel?
Night Eyes Leader: What would you have us do? Help you endure the prophecy?
Night Eyes Leader: I spit on your words! Even if the prophecy is true, we will rise above it on our own.
Night Eyes Leader: We do not need you. In fact, you would only drag us down.
Night Eyes Leader: I'll not waste my breath on you any longer. We gladly await your destruction.
The man turns and disappears into the shadows.
But only the echo of Nezahualpilli's voice answers the plea.
Nezahualpilli returns to the hall of the elders and explains all.
Elder 1: Hm. The Eyes of the Night... I've heard they were a people persecuted long ago. What a tragedy this is.
Nezahualpilli: Please, great elders, have peace.
Nezahualpilli: As king I vow to lead our people through these harrowing times. My life is for the tribe.
Nezahualpilli: But perhaps there are those who do not believe the same. If there are any here who wish their voice heard, please, I bid you speak.
There is hesitation at the unexpected proposal. After a moment, a single hand rises.
Elder 2: A question, Chief Nezahualpilli.
Elder 2: Have you obtained what you first set out to find? The power to save us from the prophecy of the end?
It is to report of this that I've returned.
Nezahualpilli: In truth, I did not find such a power.
Murmurs burst out among the elders.
Nezahualpilli: But I have not given up. Instead, I've realized a great truth.
Nezahualpilli: It is not some unknown power that we need...
Nezahualpilli: But the unity and strength as a clan to rise above all adversity.
Nezahualpilli: To rise not only above the prophesied end, but above the Eyes of the Night also!
Nezahualpilli: There is no doubt the Eyes of the Night shall continue to threaten our future.
Nezahualpilli: But with a will unwavering, I as king shall deliver our people from danger!
There is a moment of silence as the elders absorb his words.
The same elder is again the first to speak.
Elder 2: On to the matter of the disaster, then. Chief Nezahualpilli has made good on his vow to uncover the truth of the calamity.
Elder 2: He showed steadfast resolve, while we simply wailed and cowered in fear.
Elder 2: And now he has vowed to protect the tribe.
Elder 2: If his actions are any proof, should we not entrust him with this task also?
None speak in opposition.
Of course, there are those who have their doubts. But even they know that without Nezahualpilli to keep the peace, the tribe's doom would be certain.
And so it was that the Eagle King turned the elders' suspicion into reverence.
Elder 2: No doubt there will still be discord within the tribe. But even so, we shall stand by you, Chieftain. Thus have we decided.
Nezahualpilli: Great elders...
Nezahualpilli: I thank you. As leader I shall not let you down!
Vyrn: Heh heh! Well, that's one case closed!
Nezahualpilli: And I have all of you to thank for that!
Nezahualpilli: But even so, the Eyes of the Night will surely mount another attack against us all too soon.
Nezahualpilli: We must be ready! I vowed to lead my people into a better future. And lead them I shall!
Through much hardship and strife the tribe has emerged stronger in unity.
But the shadow of the Eyes of the Night still looms large.
As chief of the Feathered Ones, Nezahualpilli's work has only just begun.