Drndyllyn wasn’t what any of her friends would call an ordinary woman. Fiercely independent and strong willed were terms frequently used to describe the half-orcish barbarian lady who had been given two estates and one of the largest cities in the realm to govern. She was a Countess, a Duchess, and alone. That is until her son was born.

Drndyllyn would name her son Dregor d’Boghills and on the day he was born there appeared in the window of his nursery a solitary crow. No notice was taken of the bird as all attention was on the infant who would from that moment on become the focal point of his mother’s life. But the crow seemed to have taken an interest in the child as well and should anyone have taken note, they would have been able to say with certainty that the crow was there for every milestone of Dregor’s life. His first meal of solid food, his first steps, and his first words. All were witnessed by the crow whether it was sitting in a nearby tree, a windowsill, or on a wall overlooking the garden.

As a child Dregor would find that the crow was a constant friend whenever he was in need of a companion. While the crow would often be gone for weeks or months at a time it would always appear again should Dregor be in distress. Drndyllyn at one point fell dreadfully ill and for a time it seemed as though she would perish. For the duration of her illness Dregor had the crow by his side. Twice the realm was subjected to invasion by foreign enemies and both times the crow was there to comfort Dregor and keep him calm while he was kept in his mother’s castle for his own safety. As he got older the problems that Dregor faced changed, and the crow was there to see him through those difficulties as well. When Dregor first fell in love the crow followed along in their first date at a discreet distance. When Dregor had his heart broken for the first time, the crow was there to caw in shared bitterness.

Dregor would grow into an impressive man who had all the ruggedness of a swamp orc but the well-mannered grooming of a human nobleman. His strength and endurance were the stuff of legends, and his circle of close friends included the most remarkable and capable people in the entire continent. The crow came less and less frequently, and it was little wonder. Even Dregor knew that this bird, if indeed it was the same bird, had lived far beyond its normal lifespan for it had been on hand or nearby off and on for close to two decades. When Drndyllyn did become ill for the last time her only son was by her bedside and in the open window just out of her view was the crow. All of the power and wisdom that Dregor possessed wasn’t enough to stave off his mother’s death and he mourned her passing for months. So did the crow as well, it seemed. And when at last Dregor wiped away his last tear and set out to face life without the loving support of his departed mother, the crow left as well.

Years would pass before the crow would return. The occasion was Dregor’s marriage to a young woman he had known all of his life, and a great festival was prepared for the mostly goblinoid young man and his lovely bride. Dregor was delighted and relieved to see the crow again, and he pointed it out to the woman who held his arm the way only a true love can. The crow cawed several times as if to sing a salute to the happy couple, and then took wing. The last time it would appear would be the day that Dregor’s firstborn child was born, a son. Holding the infant in his arms Dregor took him to the balcony and introduced the lad to the crow sitting on the wall.

“My old friend, Mr. Crow! I would like you to meet my son, Cioară. I am told it is a name from the land of my father, who I never knew. It means Crow.”

The bird looked at the infant in Dregor’s arms, and then at Dregor. It bobbed its head a couple of times, and then took flight. It would never return, but Dregor often wondered whenever he saw a crow if it might be the same one. It became a bit of a custom within the family, one that Cioară himself would continue. They will call it the “Friending of the Crows” in Boghills County and it will be the closest thing to a divine ritual that they embrace.