Crow-men are living statues of onyx - neither raven nor man in shape - that fight in Cathayan armies. They attack their enemies by flying and drawing them bellowing and helpless into the air, and then gutting them with their glittering talons.[1a]
Crow-men are based off Japanese Tengu, legendary creatures or supernatural beings traditionally depicted with both human and avian characteristics. The earliest tengu were pictured with beaks, but this feature has often been humanized as an unnaturally long nose, which today is widely considered the tengu's defining characteristic in the popular imagination. Buddhism long held that the tengu were disruptive demons and harbingers of war. Their image gradually softened, however, into one of protective, if still dangerous, spirits of the mountains and forests. Tengu are associated with the ascetic practice known as Shugendō, and they are usually depicted in the distinctive garb of its followers, the yamabushi.