The Reaper-Deathbirds are the keepers of the natural order of death in Ja’luhhor’Alotha. They harvest the souls of the dead with their great spears and pokers, and “fish” them into the afterlife. They inhabit the alothian sub-realm of Neroc, which is directly accessible via the Great Chasm and heavily intertwined with both the afterlife of Ja’luhhor’Alotha and the afterlife of other realms.
After the creation of Stygia, the Aesoteric have begun harvesting the souls of their dead and massacred to burn in the Soulfurnaces and the Agony-Fermenters for power. This has created a one sided rivalry between the Aesoteric and Deathbirds, the latter of whom believe that this practice is upsetting the balance of life and death. This feud was used as leverage to pull the Reaper-Deathbirds to the side of Gorramorrathenthax towards the end of the Schism.
Eventually however, the Reapers abandoned their war and returned to a practice of neutrality, and even joined the Aesoteric in war after the death of Gorramorrathenthax and the near-end of the Schism. Relations with the Aesoteric would increase after the war, and eventually the Reaper-Deathbirds and the Aesoteric would form an alliance of sorts. The byproduct of the production of Stygia: Soulash, would be harvested from the soulfoundries by the Deathbirds. Their hot pokers and scythes would cleave the ash-residue from the furnaces and torture-racks to be transported onto great railcarts. Which would lead to Neroc where the cycle of life and death could be continued properly.
The Reaper-Deathbirds are great bipedal avians with wings of ghostfire, akin to the magmatic wings of a phoenix. Their bulbous heads have withered away, melted and decayed down to the bone after long-time exposure to the soulsmog that spews from their occult duties. While their limbs are shriveled and proportionally small compared to their wings, they demonstrate abnormal strength; as they are capable of lifting their extremely heavy scythes and pokers.
The Reaper-Deathbirds always have their weapon on hand, a hot-iron poker, scythe, or spear, formed from a raw metal inscribed with glowing deathgore runes. Reaper-Deathbirds can be either left or right handed, and some may even dual wield. The purpose of this weaponry is to fish souls from their bodies from afar to pull into Neroc. Where they can be translocated to the afterlife.
Lesser Reaper-Deathbirds toil away in their facilities, shriveled and without wings. They are but the lesser labor thralls to the greater and true Deathbirds, who both work the machines of death, and command its very makeup.
The Reaper-Deathbirds are the keepers of death in their realm, alike the Valkyries and their kin in Nordenheim, alike the sinister Draculians of Athanagild. The birds are as old as Ja’luhhor’Alotha itself, possibly predating it. However, history at this point in time is nigh ineffable and its secrets will likely never be discovered. Regardless of the age of the Deathbirds, these creatures would descend upon the gore-soaked living lands of Ja’luhhor’Alotha to bring to it the cycle of life and death. The birds would use their powers of soulfire to cauterize a portion of the land, separating it into their own base of operations. This cauterized pound of flesh would be the beginning of Neroc.
The Reaper-Deathbirds would watch the Protoforms fall, the Great Old Ones rise, and would manage the cycle them to the afterlives and maintain a strict balance of order in death. However, something within the birds nagged at them. They wanted a sense of unity among Ja’luhhor’Alotha, a unified empire in which all could prosper equally and their souls could be painlessly cycled into the afterlife when they were willing. No more war, famine, or disease. However, this benevolence and optimism was misplaced, as war was to come. In a great surge of power, a stone-shattering aftershock of the Arbiter’s awakening would kill millions as it began the Xothpurge. The Deathbirds had to process so many souls that it became overbearing on their few numbers. So, the greater Reaper-Deathbirds formed the Lesser Deathbirds from a pound of their bleeding flesh.
A lesson was learned in the creation of the lesser birds. Carnage and war were laws of this world. The dream of a united empire of Death was eventually forgotten as the Deathbirds toiled in Neroc. Eventually, culminating in their decision to completely isolate and hide themselves from the mortal denizens of Ja’luhhor’Alotha, and maintain neutrality among the immortal and all-knowing denizens.
The Deathbirds witnessed the creation of the Aesoteric empire, while the actual details of its creations are entirely eldritch and ineffable. They maintained a bitter neutrality as the Scorned King plundered neighboring lands and eventually discovered the process of creating Stygia. The creation of Stygia caused the Aesoteric to go on mass slaughter-sprees to harvest the souls of the damned, eventually mastering the process of farming souls from both their own ranks and that of their enemies. This disturbed the process of the Deathbirds, as the process of stealing and tormenting the soul restricted the Deathbird’s access to that soul. It would also destroy the soul completely, with the exception of Soul Ash which was discarded or destroyed. This destroyed the Deathbird’s balance, and the avian cabal grew bitter relations with the empire, despite the fact that the Aesoteric viewed them with respect.
During the Schism, Gorramorrathenthax would manipulate hundreds of different forces, either neutral or pledged to the Aesoteric, to his side. Including infamous regimes and figures such as Dehje and the Reaper-Deathbirds. Gorramorrathenthax would use their grudge against the Aesoterix as leverage to discard their oath of neutrality, and eventually take the manifestations of Death itself under his wing. He ordered them to for-go their ways of balance and use their capabilities to revive the troops of his reich, creating an infinite army. The Deathbirds believed the use of Stygia to be a greater infringment on the balance of death than the creation of Stygia. As such, they obliged, albeit begrudgingly.
As the war frothed on, the Deathbirds lost their willingness to fight over time. The tiring labor of reviving troops for Gorramorrathenthax eventually proved too much, and the Deathbirds silently tried to reinstate their neutral ideologies and attempted to abandon the war. This silent plan was a success, as the Deathbirds closed off access to their homerealm, planning to hide away and do their duties till war’s end. History had different plans however, as the Reaper-Deathbirds would rejoin the war after the death of Gorramorrathenthax. They would in fact ally with the Aesoteric, after a young Neophyte would find the only entrance to Neroc and attempt communication with the avians. Its naivety was promising to the Deathbirds, and they decided to continue communications with more sophisticated and wise Aesoteric organisms.
The Aesoteric proposed a change to their Stygian production lines in exchange for assistance from the Reaper-Deathbirds. When this pact was signed and agreed, Stygian production changed for the better. Soul Ash, a powdery residue from the destruction of souls and the creation of Stygia, was collected by the Deathbirds. As they scooped the substance from the soulkilns with their weaponry. It would then be relocated to great carts, filled with the blue powder, which transported the substance to the newly constructed Soul Centrifuges. This massive hollow would transform the ash into souls, which could be transported to the afterlife. This reinstated the cycle of life and death. The Deathbirds pondered, perhaps this could be their vision of a unified empire of Death and balance.
Despite the successes of these new systems, frequent failures may occur. The great presses, which mold the ash into the reincarnated soul, sometimes fail at their process. Creating zombies of ash and death, known as Ashmen. Every being has its use, and these beings are used by the Aesoteric in martial endeavors.