The Illoryn is a large waterbird known for the male's spectacular long tail feathers with eyelike markings that can be erected and expanded in display like a fan. The Illoryn's natural environment is middle Santharia, with Nermeran in the north and the desert in the south excluded. The Illoryn is also known as the "Prince of the Lake".
The Illoryn has a
graceful, long, neck, a heavy body and big, grey, webbed, feet. The male has
quite a spectacular appearance, with lustrous tail feathers half a
ped long. It comes in two
subspecies; the blue, or whiskered, Illoryn and the purple Illoryn. The female,
however, has a mottled grey body and short tail feathers, but still has a
colored head and neck.
The blue or whiskered Illoryn male has a deep blue body, blue, iridescent tail feathers and a pair of thin whiskers growing from the sides of his head. The male purple Illoryn has a blue body, violet-blue tail feathers and no whiskers. Female purple Illoryn differ only from blue ones with the color of their heads being a slightly lighter blue. The blue Illoryn is the more common variety.
The male can have up to 150 long tail feathers, each sporting a green-and-copper "eye" at the tip. They are supported from underneath with shorter tail feathers. The feathers shimmer in sunlight. Why they are so spectacular is unknown, but they are used in the process of attracting a mate.
The bill is grey with a black tip. It is slightly longer and slightly more slender than a goose's bill but still rounded. The Illoryn seem to glide over the water when swimming but flies clumsily with its neck outstretched. The young, called illorettes, are short-necked and thickly downed. Immature Illoryn wear mottled grey plumage for two years or more. Excluding the tail, the Illoryn is about one ped and two fores long, with an almost three-ped wingspan. The tail feathers grow to half a ped in length. It is heavy as well, weighing more than four hebs.
The Illoryn is special only because of the tail feathers. This is actually an
impediment to flying which acts more as a disadvantage to the species rather
than an advantage. However, the Illoryn is a fast swimmer; while seeming calm
and serene above the water, it is paddling like mad underneath.
Territory. The Illoryn's natural environment is middle Santharia, with Nermeran in the north and the desert in the south excluded. However, Illoryn have been naturalized in a wide variety of places for decoration. As a result of this, they have appeared in the wild in new areas.
The Illoryn will be seen in any fresh water, salt marsh or protected bay sufficiently large to hold enough of its food and not freeze during the winter, lakes being the most common. Ephirn's Lake is a favorite spot for the rarer purple Illoryn, some of them even flying there from other areas.
Habitat/Behaviour. The Illoryn is a solitary bird, spending its days lazily swimming around in its home pond or lake, looking for food. The exception is during the mating and hatching season, when the female guards her nest with a fervor and will even threaten larger creatures, such as the kaimun, by spreading her wings, ruffling her feathers and jabbing with her beak.
While not remarkably good fliers, the ability to fly is vital to escaping predators and finding suitable homes in the wild. In the end, Illoryn rarely fly long distances and don't migrate.
Illoryn rarely make a sound. They are not completely silent, but the few sounds they make are soft and can only be heard from a short distance. The exception is if an Illoryn is disturbed, in which case it will hiss and snort. In addition, the wings make a soughing sound when in flight.
Diet. Illoryn are foragers, subsisting mainly on the leaves, seeds, stems and tubers of submerged aquatic vegetation, algae and grasses. Exactly what is consumed depends on what is found in the environment; Illoryn will also feed on the seeds and young shoots of cultivated grains and even small fish, frogs and insects.
Mating. The breeding season for Illoryn lasts throughout the warm half the year. The exact time of the year it takes place can vary depending on local weather; the aim is to hatch their young in warm weather. Sexual maturity is reached at three years of age when the males have grown their colorful tail feathers.
The male Illoryn puts on a show to attract the female. He raises his tail feathers into the air and shakes them, creating a sound similar to leaves rustling in the wind. He faces the female Illoryn and follows her around, across the water. If she takes interest, she will allow him to mate with her.
The male Illoryn doesn't assist the female in hatching and raising the young. She lays her eggs discreetely among reeds or other vegetation near the water. They are pale and unmarked and about half a dozen. Sometimes, the female Illoryn will also lay decoy eggs in the open to distract predators.
Usages. Illoryn have never been tamed but they have been naturalized in parks and palatial gardens which feature water for decoration. Borrowed or newly captured Illoryn are sometimes used at extravagant parties, also for decoration.
Illoryn feathers are used for decoration. They can stand together with long, dried, flowers in a vase. The feathers can also be incorporated into costumes, masks, head dresses, feather fans and jewelry. The feathers are shed annually and gathered as a valuable crop.
Rich or royal people certainly enjoy eating Illoryn. They taste like fishy mutton, but it isn't the taste that appeals but the prestige. A roasted Illoryn can be a spectacular centerpiece at a banquet. The Illoryn use to be skinned and then re-dressed once the cooking is complete. It is served well-seasoned and with a spicy sauce, the exact ingredients varying.
Myth/Lore. According to folklore, Illoryn can make no sounds through their throats; however, experts know this to be false.
The following quaint lullabye was overheard in a little southern Santharian town and recorded for the Compendium by the Masterbard Judith. She describes the tune as "plaintive but soothing", using only a simple five-note scale to create a sense of peace and tranquility. Note the way in which "illorette", the technical name for an Illoryn chick, has been beautifully incorporated as an endearment into the lullabye.
SEE THE SLEEPY ILLORYN
Researchers. A single Illoryn tail feather has been found in Thaelon Forest, and bird experts have concluded that it didn't come from either a blue or a purple Illoryn. A search for a so far unknown subspecies of Illoryn has begun.