The phoenix is an immortal creature of flame and ashes, in a never-ending cycle of rebirth. It is said their song is so mournful that listeners will burst into tears upon hearing it.
Hailing originally from the Mediterranean, the phoenix is associated with the sun and the cycle of life and death, as well as the general theme of metamorphosis. It is often used as symbolic of immortality.
Traits and Behavior
Phoenixes are a bird, roughly the same size as a falcon, with bright plumage in shades of red, orange and yellow. They have long, trailing tail feathers that when spread have a similar eye pattern to peacock feathers, with spots of dark purple. They have a slightly curved beak and a small crest of purple feathers on their heads. The edges of their wings often have a metallic tint and may gleam or shine in direct sunlight. Phoenixes do not have physical genders, and do not procreate.
Phoenixes are born in the midst of a bright fire, although many times the flame is the rebirth fire of a phoenix, so it is unclear when a new phoenix is rising versus when an older one is being reborn into fire. Newborn phoenixes are small, with ashy grey feathers and are relatively helpless, hiding in the ashes and embers of the fire until they are able to fly again, at about one month old. Once their flight feathers come in, phoenixes do not change in appearance until they reach the end of that lifetime, at which point they will appear brighter and more vibrant than usual, a sign they are ready to combust. They will use the metallic shine of their feathers to start the fire, which can burn as hot as 1500 °F, and lasts until the body has completely burned to ash and been re-forged in the flames.
If the phoenix has reached the end of their life and is ready to renew the cycle, they will build a nest of plants and sweet smelling herbs (cinnamon bark and spikenard are common elements), and settle in for the fire. The choices in herbs seems to be a preference, not a necessity, and seems to simply be a choice for a good smelling fire, or perhaps a way to hide the smell of an infant phoenix after the flames have died down and before they are able to fly again. The phoenix will choose a secluded location for this, often high craggy cliffs that can’t be reached except by air. While phoenixes will be reborn if they are physically harmed badly enough to be killed, they are vulnerable during the rebirth process and cannot heal severe wounds until the rebirthing fire. They are common targets of poachers because of this; phoenix feathers are valuable as fire-starters and decorative items, and it is believed that phoenix ashes can bring long life if consumed.
While a phoenix has a number of steps they will follow before a planned fire, if a phoenix is killed or mortally wounded, they will spontaneously combust where they are and be reborn from those ashes. As they are very vulnerable at this time, they will try to hide in the ashes of the fire to avoid being seen. Infant phoenixes do not need to eat until their first flight, so they can feasibly hide until this time. Being killed unexpectedly has caused a number of phoenix related forest fires, as the flames from a phoenix can burn for up to an hour while consuming and rebuilding the phoenix from ash.
Phoenixes are naturally reclusive, and spend much of their time in flight, settling for the nights in their nests, built in tall trees or cliffs. They often live around mountainous regions, but some prefer islands and volcanic areas. As they don’t procreate, a phoenix may go its entire existence without interacting with another phoenix. As such, they have no method of communication, outside of their songs, which seem to be more for themselves than for communication. When they do meet, they rarely interact, and more often both fly off in another direction. They are not overly territorial, except when building a rebirth nest, which they will defend violently until the last moment as an effort to keep away poachers and any outside threats that may come in when they are vulnerable.
Phoenixes are omnivores, but prefer insects and nuts as a food source. They may fly for miles to preferred food sources, preferring this over living closer to where other animals and humans may live. While phoenixes are generally tolerant of other species, they are wary of humans and will avoid them whenever possible.
The phoenix song, which is known to be supernaturally dreary and sad, is rarely heard. As phoenixes do not communicate with each other, it is unknown what triggers the song. Some speculate it is the phoenix itself mourning something or someone, but this has not been confirmed. It is often heard around sights of great destruction, however, so the theory is probable.
Phoenixes are not any stronger or faster than the average falcon, and are a non-threatening species that will run if threatened. They can reasonably be taken down by a net or snare, but they are most vulnerable as a newly burned infant. If their wings are clipped or damaged at this age, they will not recover unless they burn again. That being said, phoenixes offer no threat to anyone outside of accidental damages related to the fires they cause, and should be left alone. There is no proof to the theory that their ashes are useful for healing or rejuvenation.
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