Sing a Song of Blackbirds
“Rhaich” (The “ai” is pronounced like the “a” in “rake” and the “ch” is pronounced in the back of the throat) is a strong elven curse, usually used to indicate that someone’s folly has spelled almost-certain doom. The curse originates as a reference to the ancient elven city of Rhaich-Edhrin (In elven, “dh” is pronounced like the soft “th” sound in “the” or “this”, not the hard “th” sound in the word “with”).
According to legend, Rhaich-Edhrin was a city built on a river somewhere in the ancestral lands of the elves. Although the common people of the city did not realize it, the river was home to a powerful blue dragon. The ruler of the city was a mighty elven warrior, and had made a pact with the dragon when the city was first founded. Every month, the warrior kidnapped one of the city’s citizens in secret and sacrificed it to the dragon. In exchange, the dragon kept the waters of the river peaceful and protected the city from invaders.
This agreement lasted for a hundred years, but the dragon grew bored with the sacrifices offered to him. He demanded more and more from the ruler of Rhaich-Edhrin. Eventually, the warrior refused to cede the dragon any further tribute, and plotted to assassinate the beast. The attempt failed spectacularly and when the dragon learned who was behind the assassination it grew furious at being “betrayed.” In its wrath, it killed the warrior, destroyed his palace, and then commanded the river to rise up and swallow the city.
The story’s veracity is, of course, difficult to confirm. Most historians do agree that that the city of Rhaich-Edhrin did truly exist, and there are even several strong theories as to the original location of the city. The most disputed part of the story is centered around the role of the dragon. Some take the story as being literally true. A few elven scholars claim that no self-respecting leader would make a pact with anything as universally feared and reviled as a blue dragon. Dwarven historians posit that the story of the dragon raising the tribute is simply an embellishment made by the elves to justify the terrible decision that the ruler made in breaking the contract. A few human professors even believe that there was never any dragon, and that the city was destroyed by a combination of terrible storms, flash floods and critical soil erosion. Almost everyone on the Mahogany coast is familiar with the story, and most everyone has their own opinion on what really happened. So hotly debated is this topic that even mentioning Rhaich-Edhrin outside of your own circle of friends and family is considered taboo.