So I expanded the family portrait idea. This is the first time I've drawn and colored them in the same picture. Poor little Mako isn't in this picture, so maybe it takes place before he was born. Anyway have some world building:
Outlanders sometimes like to refer to Luxandria as "The Birdlands". This is both because the area is highly diverse in numbers of bird species and because the people who live among these species have ingrained the animal into their culture and daily life.
Being the one place in the world where sea-based travel between the eastern and western halves of the world is possible, Luxandria almost immediately became infested with foreign vermin that thrived on the lower decks of ships that came to port and trade. The large influx of prey around the docks drew in a number of carnivores from the forest. Small hawks and eagles, foxes, wolves, owls, crows, among other predators gladly stepped in to dine on the small rodents that scampered in the streets and sewers day and night.
Lobellia--Dominik Romani's Giant Celestial Eagle companion (and mount)--had accrued status and reputation in her time. Not only was she a legend to people, she had also many animal followers. Soon after the town's foundation, she moved her clutch of nestling chicks to a large tree outside of the town. Shortly after, the hunters who had come to eat the mice made a home for themselves with Lobellia in that tree. She entertained the predators with stories of glory and suspense and quickly shaped them into a task force that served to keep the town free of vermin, all while earning a meal in the process.
For whatever reason, Lobellia's tree continued to grow. Some say that the good-aligned energy emanating from the location caused the tree to flourish to a massive size, others say that druids worked with the residents of the tree to expand it's growth far past the size of even the tallest buildings. In the course of ten years many many birds flocked to the area; whether it was for a safe place to live with abundant food, or to live in service of the Paragon Eagle Lobellia. As the port began to grow in size and popularity, so did the town, so did the tree.
And so did the services of the birds that lived there.
An exchange was negotiated between the two civilizations. The birds--under the leadership of Lobellia--would soon deliver mail, transport people, and aid warriors in battle. In return the humans would become caretakers for the birds and the tree. They would protect and feed the birds, and made sure no harm came to the tree or the wildlife in and around town.
After several more years, interacting with the birds of Lobellia's Tree had become second nature to the citizens of Luxandria, and the two societies had integrated with each other. The Luxandrians had even inspired their art and culture around this union, as seen even in the local architecture.
Many social habits developed around the presenting of a feather of a bird as a gift. Every variety of bird has its own symbol in Luxandrian society, and each bird’s importance is symbolized by how it is integrated. For instance, eagles symbolize the triumph of light over darkness, as well as deep friendship and strong bonds. The gift of the feather of an eagle to another person in Luxandria is an offering of friendship. Owls symbolize wisdom and intelligence, so a gift of an owl’s feather from teacher to student symbolizes a passing grade in class.
The Phoenix, at Dominik's time in history, is a rare bird, only inhabiting warm, dry areas that hold mystical power. On the scarce occasion, high up in the sky, there will be a brilliant violet, red and yellow shimmer. It is the flight of a Phoenix looking for a new home in the remote deserts of the world. Finding a Phoenix feather is good luck in any place, but in Luxandria it is a treasured gift given to only the people you share the closest bonds to. It is an object of beauty and elegance and many recipients of the feather will keep it on their person as a charm.
Related bits in my Gallery and Scraps: