|Official Name||Hoton Longfeather|
|Common Nicknames||Titan Bird|
|Habitat||Mountains of Daen|
Hoton Longfeathers are best known to Aloria as massive birds that fly ridiculously high above the clouds, and only come down when they wish to sleep on top of mountains. It seems that with time, the species has gradually grown more untethered from the earth. They used to be a jungle-dwelling species hunted to extinction by the Altalar and soon after, the rest of the species entered the life they are best known for today. They are also well-known animals because of the many superstitions that surround them; from a millennia long lifespan to how their feathers make the perfect arrows on account of their straightness and sharpness once broken off. The Longfeather is a rarity nowadays, millennia of existing in Aloria taking its toll, but many in Daen still look up in wonder at the distant speck of black that they can sometimes see between the clouds.
The Hoton Longfeather is an ancient bird well known to the Altalar. In ancient times at the very birth of the Race, the animal lived in the jungles, not just the mountains. This jungle subspecies had extensive interactions with the Altalar in these early years, which generated many superstitions around it. It was said to be the guardian of the sky and would shun all attempts by the Altalar to reach such heights in flight. It was also said that the feathers of the bird make remarkably accurate arrows, due to their stiffness and ability to pierce flesh when broken or sharpened at the tip. As a result, at this point in time, a number of the jungle subspecies were hunted. Later, when warfare broke out with the Dewamenet Empire, the members of the species in the jungles were rendered fully extinct as the Altalar sought every possible advantage. Some reports also suggest that the birds were disrupting early Altalar attempts at air travel and had to be hunted down or else they would destroy these experimental dirigibles. As a result, by the time of the Consolidation only the mountain species remained. They never left minds of the Altalar, however, and soon became attached to the Violet Night Dragon, whose animal groves often sat at the foot of mountains. But as Altalar gathered and formed the Cult of Drogon, and as the Altalar expanded their power across Aloria, the Hoton Longfeather ascended higher into the sky.
They began to be known to the Altalar as the challenge at the peaks of many mountains, though they only roosted on them in the evening. While most Ailor scholars suspect that the bird always did this, Altalar of the time stated that it was a challenge from Estel. In the coming centuries, the members of the species in southern lands were largely wiped out, but the animal survived in what is now known as the Alexandros Mountain Chain in L’Elvellen territory, and in Ithanian mountains beyond. By the time of the Cataclysm, the bird was almost mythical rather than real in the minds of many. However, in the wake of that event the animal returned, and ever since then it has been a rare, but believed sight for those on the ground. Its soaring through the sky has allowed the bird to avoid the conflict that has marred the ground in recent years, and even the Bone Horrors that rose up to attack it were no match for its size and power. As a result, it is likely to remain part of Aloria for the foreseeable future, but a rare sight indeed for many.
The Hoton Longfeather is a titanic bird, with its size dwarfing all other birds and even most other animals in Aloria. Exact measurements for the creature are hard to come by, due to how rare the discovery of their bodies have been in the last few centuries, but in general the Hoton Longfeather is given the dimensions of seven to seven and a half feet tall with a wingspan of sixteen to twenty feet. Their heads are large with a sharply hooked beak and two huge, dark eyes. Their head feathers are sleek, and lead down to a large, powerful body and a pair of vast wings. Their tailfeathers are squared off and they stand on huge black talons. Their feathers are dense and designed to keep them warm at the high altitudes they live at all their lives, but they are also known for being exceptionally long. They are also very strong, resulting in those that are broken being sharp and brittle. The feathers are normally a sleek black when the bird is fully matured, and over time slowly moult to grayer shades or with a speckling of white and grey.
As observed by scholars over the centuries, Hoton Longfeathers appear to have no outward differences between the genders, which means that in their current state it is impossible for scholars to determine whether their gender numbers are equal or not.
Life Span and Development
Hoton Longfeathers have a largely unknown development cycle. Hoton Longfeathers were recorded by one Altalar party who reached the peak of Mt. Othrensej in Teled Methen. The party numbered three eggs total in the nest, observing that these have a black shell with extensive speckling of grey and white along its surface. From that, it is assumed that the Longfeather can bear at most three eggs. When and how the babies hatch is unknown, but the process is assumed to be normal and like all other birds, with the mother returning to the nest periodically with food for her young. One fragmentary Altalar story claims that baby Longfeathers appeared almost like Mooan, lacking developed wings but having a build better suited to running and walking about. From there it is assumed the chicks mature into juveniles before leaving the mountain of their mother to claim their own peak as a roosting ground. Hoton Longfeathers are traditionally believed by Altalar to be able to live 1000 years, but more realistic guesses put their lifespan closer to 400 years.
Hoton Longfeathers are known for being the true apex predators of the skies, dwarfing most other creatures in size, strength and speed. They are said to be harsh creatures, and highly territorial of their claimed region, which resulted in them attacking Altalar airships in the past. As a result, Altalar seeking to investigate the bird had to ascend their mountains on foot, or approach at night in the sky, both prospects difficult for their respective reasons. The Longfeather is also said to have a piercing gaze, and will observe its target from afar for a time before going in for the kill.
Territory and Groupings
Hoton Longfeathers claim a mountain peak each for rest every night, and unless somehow disrupted from that routine, they will always return to the same peak. During the day, they ascend up high into the sky, surveying a vast territory that usually covers the entire mountain and surrounding area. It is not known if or how Hoton Longfeathers in a mountain chain interact with each other, as what few are known to live in these areas are often so spaced out that the chance of them meeting is small.
- Some well known Hoton Longfeathers of today include Noirelle in the Bleuetton Mountain Range and Dosson in the Antella Mountain Chain of Ithania, Prajjak in the Alexandros Mountain Chain in Daendroc and Alphorex in the Dedess’ya Mountains of Teled Methen (who is said to the biggest Hoton Longfeather to ever live).
- Some scholars suspect that the Hoton Longfeather may have a body far more unique than its exterior might suggest. They ask how such vast creatures could possibly sustain themselves each and every day like most other birds, and so suspect that the animal has an excellent body system for surviving without food, or perhaps on only low amounts of food, for long periods of time.
- The Rokha and the Hoton Longfeather have a very contentious relationship.