There is a giant vulture called Inqi who is known to roam the skies, as vultures are wont to do. In addition to her great size, large enough to carry a grown man in her talons with ease, she is also graced with intelligence. None know how old Inqi actually is, though she is said by some to be the first vulture, and it thought to be immortal. Certainly, tales of Inqi go back many years, far longer than an ordinary vulture could be expected to live. Wise in the ways of magic and the histories of many peoples, she has been known to provide advice and dire warnings both.
Inqi has been known to grant boons to those who appease her, but she has also turned against those who wish for her aid. The trick lies in how one seeks her out. She is not some genie to be summoned and commanded, and doesn’t seem to be bound to service in any known way.
Some have called out to her as she passes, and found her receptive to their requests for travel and the like, things that she can easily provide in exchange for a gift of food or an interesting bit of trivia. But these cases are rare. The most common way to get her attention is to be gravely injured, and on the verge of death. As vultures know when a creature is close to death, so does Inqi, but she has been known to take pity on some such creatures, and grant them a boon if they prove themselves worthy.
Inqi has a moral compass not often found among mystical creatures such as she, and she loathes evil. Should someone catch her attention she will engage them in conversation, wishing to learn about them for her own edification, but also to find out what their purpose is, their goals in life. Stories tell of those who have tried to trick her, and been dropped from the sky or torn apart by her great beak when she realized that they wished her assistance in some nefarious task.
There are those who misread her and her intentions, seeing only the vulture and thinking her evil or a harbinger of woe. After all, not everyone knows, or believes, the stories about her, and there are those so prejudiced against vultures and other such creatures that they cannot see her as anything but a great pest. Attempts have been made in the past to kill her, but they have apparently failed. There is one story, which tells of a great hunter who tracked her for years before he managed to kill her, but since she has been seen many times since then, the truth of the story is questionable at best. In light of this though, there are some, scholars and common folk alike, who see her like a phoenix, a creature capable of dying and being reborn, and as such a symbol of the cycle of life and death.
Artwork: “Seizing Our Captain,” by Gustave Doré, from Wunderbare Reisen zu Wasser und zu Lande – Feldzüge und lustige Abenteuer des Freiherrn von Münchhausen by Gottfried August Bürger, edition circa 1923.