Jackdaw is a mythological trickster figure known to many living or originating among the gnomes in South Mulden.
Jackdaw is an indistinct creature, seemingly both bird and man (or, one might assume, gnome, although surprisingly for a figure of gnomish origin such a distinction is never made in his stories). He flies and caws, but also behaves like a person, and those who choose to represent him artistically or describe him in detail tend to make him humanoid by some unspoken agreement. Jackdaw possesses a cloak of black feathers which, when turned inside out, can disguise the wearer as anyone or anything he or she chooses.
As a trickster hero, Jackdaw is a perfect union of many opposites. He is immensely clever, and loves to pull the wool over the eyes of anyone who crosses his path, particularly heroes and gods. But just as often as he tricks others he is tricked himself, and stories in which Jackdaw turns out to be a fool are quite as popular as those in which he is the fooler. He gladly does good deeds, but also loves schadenfreude, and can never seem to decide whether he’s delivering the people of Madisya from the tyranny of the gods or helping the gods teach the uppity populace a lesson. The only constant seems to be his amusement at the state of the world, and he can always find a reason for glee and laughter.
The Tales of Jackdaw
Jackdaw and Bahamut (As told by Rubetta Wideeyes to her companions)
This was in the time near the beginning of days, when the gods used to keep company with men, and walk about in the world as we do now. It was in that time that Bahamut invented laws, and gathered to himself followers to keep the laws.
So one day, Jackdaw and Bahamut were discussing the new laws. Jackdaw said they were pointless and arbitrary; Bahamut said that the laws protected the helpless and the innocent, and punished the wrongdoer.
So Jackdaw left Bahamut and caught a mouse. He turned his cloak inside out – Jackdaw has a cloak of feathers, which he can turn inside out and disguise himself as anything – and disguised himself as a lawman of the Dragon, and the mouse as a young child. He went before Bahamut and presented the child, saying he had stolen food from the marketplace and deserved to be punished. And Bahamut agreed.
Then Jackdaw revealed himself. “A child is clearly weak and helpless—and what you propose doesn’t seem much like protecting. Your law is flawed, Master Dragon.” Bahamut was angry at being tricked, but grudgingly agreed.
Next, Jackdaw left Bahamut and caught a lizard. He turned his cloak inside out and disguised himself as a lawman again, and the lizard as a simpleton. He went before Bahamut and presented the idiot, claiming he had stolen food in the marketplace. Jackdaw said he should be punished, and Bahamut agreed.
Jackdaw revealed himself again. “A simpleton does not understand the laws he is held to, and does not know he does wrong. Thus he is an innocent—and your laws do not protect him either.” Bahamut was very angry now, but he agreed again.
Now Jackdaw turned his cloak a third time, but this time he disguised himself as a peasant. He went into the market and stole food, and a lawman caught him and brought him before Bahamut. When Bahamut saw him, he thought, “This lawman is Jackdaw in disguise again, with some other reason why this peasant does not deserve punishment. I will outwit him this time.” So he told the lawman to let Jackdaw go. And a third time, Jackdaw revealed himself.
“Your law neither protects the helpless nor the innocent, and now it does not even punish the wrongdoer! I think your law needs work, Master Dragon.” Bahamut was so angry that he spit a flame at Jackdaw, but the Trickster only flew away laughing.