The Timberwing Eagle is a massive bird, measuring sixty to eighty feet from wingtip to wingtip. They are prominent for their dusky green color as well as their great size. Male timberwings will have a molting prior to the mating season during which the feathers of their head shed out and are replaced with feathers that instead of the normal green color are a metallic gold color. While not immortal, the timberwing eagle has a lifespan of roughly 250 to 500 years.
A Glorious Heritage
The history of the Timberwing Eagle is intertwinned with the history of the elves. It was as natural a bond between elf and eagle as existed between man and horse, and like men and their horses, the elves would take to riding their companions as mounts. These elven sky-scouts were the subject of many an epic poem, they fought from their eagles with bows and arrows, sharp-shooting foes on the ground and serving as eyes and ears for the Kings of the elder race. The presence of the elves gave the eagles an advantage in their ongoing struggle for territory with wyverns and drakes. While a timberwing needs no assistance to stalk and dispatch a leathery winged lizard, such contests often left many an eagle lamed. The elves allowed for healing and saved many of the majestic green eagles. This largely decimated the dracomorphic population, and gave the eagles uncontested control of the skies above the elven lands and forests.
The elves rode the eagles bareback with nothing more to steer with than a length of rope held across the base of the neck of the bird. An accomplished rider could steer his mount with his legs and still concentrate to shoot his bow with precision in much the same manner as a highly trained horse archer. Should prey larger than arrow-killing size appear, the eagle could attack with it’s own talons. The talons of the three front toes grasp the victim in question, while the larger rear talon is used to skewer said victim. In the wild, the eagles use this combination to capture their prey, usually elk, bison, wild horses, and medium or large marine animals (15 to 20 feet or smaller animals) in coastal areas. A snared animal that doesnt perish must then content with the deeply hooked beak which can pick open platemail with ease.
The Twilight of the Eagles
Eventually for unknown reasons, the number of Timberwings plummeted. While the great birds were thankfully never numerous to begin with, a great many just dissappeared. After this mysterious culling, no new timberwing eagles came and after a few centuries, the Twilight of the Eagles ended. The last remaining legacy of the great drake-hunters lies in Jugan’s Arrow, an iconic elven weapon.
The Sad Truth
The timberwing eagles migrated once every few decades to a distant land where they laid their eggs and hatched their young. Though the eagles and elves had strong bonds, it was in the eagle’s blood to lay their eggs in the place where they themselves were hatched. This hatchery happened to be an island, many miles from the nearest land, thick with tall lindorm ashes and other old trees. The young eagles would grow without competition and would feed from the plethora of sealife that teemed around the island. As soon as the young were old and strong enough to make the flight back to the mainland, the eagles would depart and leave the sealife to repopulate in their absence.
The eagle’s island was volcanic in nature, and between migrations, it erupted. This was no eruption of rivers of lava, or even a towering pillar of ash, the volcano detonated like a gargantuan bomb. After the last eruption, seawater filled in the uppermost lavatubes and chambers, and when the fresh lava spewed up from deep in the earth, the water was flash vaporized. This combined with the unrelenting volcanic pressure caused the island to tear itself apart in an explosion that left little of the island above water.
Where Eagles Fly
The timberwings have long since departed from the mainland, those youngest when the island blew itself apart have since perished from old age and misadventure. The loss of the eagles is a poignant part of elven history and the elves mourn for the passing of the great birds and it is one of their sorrows that they could not save the noble avians. It could be contrued that a few did survive the island and have since adopted a new island as their breeding ground. Though many centuries have passed, the eagles might yet return. These would not be the eagles of old, but new birds, untouched by elf or man. Most likely they will be strong and aggressive members of the species looking to carve out domains in the sky for themselves. The elves would be able to reestablish their bond with the birds, and the return of something so noble long since dead would be a revitalizing rush for the elves.
Final Note - This submission started from an off the cuff mention in the submission Jugan’s Arrow of said arrows being fletched with the feathers of a timberwing eagle. I started writing this submission and in the process discovered, or perhaps rediscovered a picture that played a large part in the writing of the piece. http://www.studiowondercabinet.com/pages/ChordCalling.html