Condition: Simple, Charred
Rubbing your head, you awaken to the howling of the wind as it blasts across the treetops, shaking the leaves in a raucous rustle much like the roar of the ocean. You discover that your bed is actually a large wooden platform swaying high above the forest canopy on a pole thicker than the trunks of the surrounding trees. There are no bars, no walls to hold you prisoner; only the staggering height and the blasting wind.
As you look around you see there are other platforms, other prisoners. One is a desperate siren with salmon-colored scales, busy pleading with her platform in a language you don’t understand. As she turns, however, you realize that she is not a siren but a zephyr whose wings have been clipped, explaining why she had not flown away already. Likely the blasting wind is her vain attempt to topple her pole and secure a gentler descent.
Another platform bears an actual córean, asleep, wings also clipped. A third is empty, but the charred black patch on it makes you think a phoenix might have been there once—its wings also clipped no doubt—before it burned itself alive and its ashes were scattered. Well, you reason despondently, at least it escaped.
For some time the Werknesh (“Golden”) Lynxes—led by the energetic Werknesh herself—have been the foremost bounty hunters in the Ranai Forest. With a good deal of experience hunting flying prey, their typical quarry used to be unwary seraphim that had stayed out too long after dawn. This worked only so long, however, as some seraphim were able to break the cages and escape. As they began to run out of cages, Werknesh went looking for another way to do business.
Then it came to her: why not hunt flying things whose wings could be clipped? Then they could be placed on high platforms without the need to use cages. No harm to the bounty, and no chance of escape. Leonian bandits are not the most complex thinkers, but sometimes an idea does not have to be complex to be effective.
This simple-yet-effective approach is what caught the attention of Zuberi, a cheetah archmage looking to gain the edge over his fellows by seeking out some few words of power from the language of the Strangers. Knowing that dendrites speak the Strange language to cast their spells, Zuberi placed a bounty on the heads of any flying dendrite in the area, promising to pay the Werknesh Lynxes simply to hold them prisoner until he had learned what he could from them.
His plans thus laid, Zuberi inscribed runes under each platform so that he could listen to the conversations of the prisoners from a distance, in the hopes that they might try to use magic in order to escape. So far, the experiment has yielded some few Strange words that the archmage believes might give him the academic edge he needs. Zuberi now calls the open-air aviary his Lyncean Lexicon, and pays Werknesh handsomely to rotate out the “guests” on a regular basis. Werknesh is only too happy to oblige.