"Kenku" is the old tongue word for "Afterthought". Legend has it that they're a servant race created by long forgotten wizards in the Age of Magic, modeled on other proud beast races, but falling short of their creators' expectations. It's a common notion that Kenku, with their unsurpassed mimicry skills, can only mimic sounds, and are incapable of original thoughts. Whether or not this was true in their design, they've surpassed it through time and experience, and are underestimated at one's peril. What they lack in flight and will, they make up for in agility and cunning.
Stories say the mistake of the Kenku's creators was the very mimicry that they're noted for, and the final sound more than a few wizards have heard is their own incantations leveled at them in their own voices. Created by the Imaskari ages ago, Imaskari mages still tell stories of the folly inherent in creating servants. Now, Kenku live in communities all over Temir, often working as messengers, scribes, monks, and mages. They can be found in the Minotaur communities of the Five Lakes, to the Witching Wood, and occupy prized positions in the Thirteen Courts of the Demon Kingdom.
A created people, the Kenku have little in the way of their own civilization, muddling their way through generations in small flocks instead, finding what local traditions suit them. In all ages, they abide in their monasteries and under the protection of more powerful factions, like the Wizards of the Coast and the Frontier Rangers. In Tachros, they're most numerous in the Scrivener's Guild, and can unironically be found scouting the crow's nests of the Rilador.
Mimics by nature, Kenku enthusiastically participate in local festivals and traditions, adopting their own expressions of them as needed. They love sweets and bright lights, and it's unclear if their tendency for pilfering small objects that bring them joy is built into their nature, or if it's a habit adopted to honour their crow cousins. One interest nearly all Kenku share is astronomy, and their monasteries can be found on hilltops with open ceilings, as the flightless monks look ceaselessly upward.
While Kenku aren't particularly organized by modern standards, into houses, clans and nations, they aren't apolitical. As with other former servant races, their values tend toward liberty, scholarship, and individual pursuits, and they participate in organizations that share those values. Many Kenku are active in Thieves' Guilds and pirate ships in Temir, where their skillsets are appreciated and they can live life on their own terms. Kenku are also strongly represented at the University, as well as in the Scrivener's Guild, where talents for copying are lauded instead of criticized.
There are Kenku spellcasters of all sorts. Their wizards tend toward the schools of Divination and Illusion, and Kenku make excellent bards. Kenku sorcerers are often recruited by the Order of the Storm Crow, a monastic order in the northwest, and spend their days in contemplation. More common still are divine spellcasters, as more and more Kenku search for their place in the universe, and find themselves not unwelcome among those seekers.
Like all servant races, the Kenku were not created by the gods in the Age of Mists. But despite not being a true beast race, they honour the Horned God, who they call *Loud honk*. This hasn't brought them into conflict with any of the Horned God's other followers. Quite the opposite, Aarakocra philosophers conjecture that only a people very close to god could have quite so clear a picture of his nature.
However, the Kenku have two rites particular to their people. The first is the Corvid Bow, a formal greeting when one or more Kenku meet. To try and find the mark of god in each other, they inspect each other carefully, waiting for an opening to make a loud (and ideally inventive) noise to startle the other. Ritualized tricks of this nature are common among all followers of the Horned God. Secondly, the Night Call, where Kenku gather under the new moon, flocking, running, and shouting in every sound and voice they know, so the Horned God can hear his lost children.
Kenku tend to have one name, and it's typically a sound, represented by its onomatopoeia in text. Among other Kenku, the sound is easily duplicated, but the written or Common version is always a simplification.
Sample Given Names: Boom, Cicero, Crackle, Creak, Footstep, Knock-knock, Leaf, Lipschitz, Patter, Pop, Puff, Rasp, Six, Squish, Trickle, Uh-uh
- Kenku, Volo's Guide to Monsters p.111