Updated: Sep 21, 2022
A theory by Syphogrant Undavar- a biomancer specialized in the study of magical diseases with a focus on neutralizing pathogens that affect avian and reptilian species.
In 417 AAL, when the Cryptognostic Society (CS) launched the Hostile Feather Directive - an investigative campaign to inquire further into the biomantic weapon development of the ancestors of the Aarakocra- I was fortunate enough to be appointed the leader of the campaign's biomancy team and go on every excursion.
During the campaign, I came across some information and evidence, which I will relate further down in the article, that made me form the following theory regarding the rapid decrease in Aarakoca's numbers:
Continuing an ancient war that the ancestors of the Aarakocra had with their ancestors, the Yuan-Ti (a reptilian-like species of priests and warriors), aided by their god of vengeance (Merrshaulk), are attacking the Aarakocra with a modified version of a magical disease that the Aarakocra's ancestors created.
Inventory of the items recovered during the Hostile Feather Directive
All evidence recovered in the Hostile Feather Directive is stored in Vault A of the Serpent Vaults.
A fossilized egg of the ancient reptilian race, whose fetus has been partially consumed by the parasite inside.
Utensils of a biomantic laboratory presumably built by the ancestors of the Aarakocra.
Skeletal remains of diseased reptilians that were interred in mass graves during a pandemic.
Information copied from the tome found in the Anthropian Library that mentions the name of a current god of the Yuan-Ti.
Sealed ceramic pots believed to contain the pathogen the ancestors of the Aarakocra released long ago.
Notes regarding specific details of the evolution of diseases in reptiles written in an ancient language very similar to "Auran," the "official" language of modern Aarakocra.
A map of an unknown continent with studies of air currents written on it. Some spots are marked as "Ground Zero."
The neutralized pathogen nest of the Yuan-Ti, with Aarakocra feathers attached to them.
The information which led to the aforementioned theory
In Silver War- the book about the war between the predecessors of the Aarakocra, the
Lizardfolk, and the Yuan-Ti, found during the fourth expedition into the Anthropian Library- there is a passage that talks about the Aarakocra's ancestors' usage of what we now know, thanks to the research of Doctor Jahmud, to be biomantic weapons. The avian species would fly above the enemy army and use ceramic pots to spread something akin to dust in the wind.
During the Hostile Feather Directive, which the Society launched to dig more into the dust-like biomantic weapon of the Aarakocra's ancestors, the research team found evidence that the war talked about in the Silver War did happen, and that it may still be going on without the modern Aarakocra's knowledge.
I will now summarize the evidence of the Silver War's existence discovered during the Hostile Feather Directive's incursions into the Prime Material Plane and link it to the first part of my theory about the Aarakocra's disappearance.
Evidence of the ancestors of the Aarakocra being able to create and use magical diseases as biological weapons.
In the second incursion, we discovered, deep underground, a sealed city that matched the iconography of the ancient Aarakocra. CS experts ruptured the seal and gained the excursion access into the abandoned city. Inside, we found ruined experimental biomancy vats.
Inside these ancient laboratories were found several notes written on stone slabs besides "experimental pits" (large stone containers capable of housing creatures in confined spaces and controlled environments). The language these notes were written in is extremely similar to the "Auran" the modern Aarakocra speak.
Every note made careful observations about the advancement of a particular disease upon reptilian subjects. Inside the pits were the remnants of many reptilian bones.
Evidence of the Aarakocra's ancestors using their biological weapons against reptilian enemies.
The fourth incursion's team discovered the remnants of an ancient reptilian city preserved in time due to a sudden and violent volcanic eruption calcifying it and the bones of many of its residents. During its first two excavations, the team found two mass graves; the bones inside were mutated and twisted. The shapes of the mutations coincide with those found in the stone slab notes discovered by the second incursion. Later, we found that the entire city was suffering from the effects of a pandemic that caused these horrid malformations, which suggests the avian species unleashed the diseases they had created upon their reptilian rivals.
Evidence of the ultimate weapon of the Aarakocra's ancestors being a parasite that devoured the offspring of their reptilian enemies.
During the last excavation of the preserved ancient reptilian city, the fourth excursion's team recovered a set of half-cracked, fossilized eggs belonging to the race that inhabited the city; these eggs, however, were petrified on purpose through a divine ritual in what seems to be an attempt to preserve the eggs to study them. All of them -without exception- possess a parasitic creature feeding on the fetus. All of them are dead and show the same bone deformities previously mentioned.
Assuming, because of the evidence found during the Hostile Feather Directive, that the events depicted in the Silver War are non-fictional, I will now link such events to the second part of my theory.
Most of the ancient reptilian species died, and consequently, their gods. Only Merrshaluk, their god of vengeance and justice, survived.
A section of the Silver War briefly mentions the religion of the ancient reptilians and that their god of vengeance and justice was called Merrshaulk. Coincidentally, one of the primary deities of the modern Yuan-Ti (the descendants of the surviving reptilian species) is none other than Merrshaulk.
If the Merrshaulk the Yuan-Ti worship is the same one mentioned in Silver War, he would still remember the genocide of his followers and crave vengeance.
Merrshaluk is using the same biological weapon the ancestors of the Aarakocra used to decimate his followers against the modern Aarakocra.
Seeing as modern Aarakocra are oviparous, re-purposing their ancestors' biological weapon to target them specifically would be possible, and although the Yuan-Ti might not possess the expertise in the arts of biomancy to do it, a god such as Merrshaluk might.
If Merrshaluk did indeed re-purposed the ancient Aarakocra's weapon, he surely changed the nature of the disease from purely arcane (as with normal biomancy) to purely divine and showed Yuan-Ti priests how to use it.
The fourteenth and final incursion of the Hostile Feather Directive into the Prime Material Plane explored a cave complex directly below an aerie of an Aarakocra tribe. Deep within the tunnels,
the Heresiarchs found a divine circle. Inside lay a diseased nest of the Yuan-Ti, with Aarakocra feathers attached to it and pathogen tendrils that clawed their way upwards in the direction of the aerie. Because the reptilian species favors moving underground, it is safe to assume that these types of cave complexes are the perfect place to unleash their god-given weapon away from the eyes of the claustrophobic Aarakocra.
The Hostile Feather Directive's biomancers neutralized the pathogens found under the aerie and brought them to the Serpent Vaults, where they will be contained and studied. Until the origins of this pathogen are confirmed, my theory will remain just that.
Edited by: Anif-Esoj