The Slaves of House Hezzrat
Aarakocra, or Vulture folk, are an uncommon sight in the Athas, wheeling high in the still sky, above the rocky badlands and scrub plains, watching for movement and other signs of prey below. Most Athasians revile the aarakocras for their willingness to extort, rob, and even eat travelers in the wastes. To survive and prosper, these desert scavengers band together in insular tribes, each staking out-and fiercely defending-its territory.
Aarakocras are hunters and scavengers that eat just about any meat they find. They loot whatever they can from victims claimed by the wastes. Most residents’ of Athas try to avoid aarakocras, considering them to be sordid opportunists, but the vulture-folk have few sworn enemies.
The aarakocras keep to the skies, and their homes are built high on cliffs or mesa tops. From there, scouts search the nearby desert for food and intruders. Their sharp eyes miss little in the barren wilds, and a tribe brooks no intrusion on its territory without receiving tribute in compensation. Lost travelers who pay the requested amount might receive guidance to a landmark or a safer part of the wilderness. If rebuffed, the aarakocras won’t hesitate to kidnap members of a trespassing party and hold them for ransom. To avoid harassment, merchant houses sometimes make deals with powerful aarakocra tribes; weaker tribes, reluc tant to draw the ire of their stronger kin, leave those merchants alone.
Despite their reputation as distasteful scavengers, aarakocras are deeply spiritual. They revere the sky and the sun as primal entities. Those members of a tribe that wield primal power use spirits and elementals to aid their kin in mundane tasks as well as in battle.
Aarakocras are rarely found in the company of other humanoids, although they sometimes work with kenku tribes. They also follow raiders or dangerous monsters from the air, picking off survivors of the predators’ attacks. Aarakocras train flying beasts as pets, and they use rituals to bring air elementals and spirits into the world.
Slavers steal aarakocra young and eggs, selling the creatures to nobles and merchant houses as slaves. These nobles and merchants, in turn, put the vulture-folk to work as soldiers and scouts.
-From Creature Catalog, PG. 10. Copyright Wizards of the Coast.