Red-tailed Swallow

Horace drummed his fingers impatiently on the ship's railing. They had made excellent progress over the past few days, taking advantage of strong and steady wind currents. Yesterday, though, the current had begun to falter, and they had switched over to the propellers overnight. The captain seemed to not be pressing their head start though, and seemed content to run the propellers at a frustratingly lethargic pace, in the name of "fuel conservation". He was never the type to go above and beyond, perfectly content with the status quo. Horace grunted and shook his head. When he had his own ship, he would never let an opportunity like this slip through his fingers. Getting into port a day or two early meant happier clients and happier crew, which meant more business, which meant...  
He cut off his trail of thought before it got too far. The fantasy clashed too strongly with the reality in front of him. Despite the turning of the propellers telling him otherwise, it felt for all the world like they were making no progress. The stifling stillness of the surrounding air uneased him. He fidgeted with the time machine in his pocket, unable to scratch the itch that was the stagnancy surrounding him. Finally, he turned to head back belowdecks, desperate to do something besides stare at the glacial white statue-like clouds surrounding him. Halfway across the deck, a flutter of movement in the rigging above him caught his attention and he looked up—and froze.
A red-tailed swallow looked down at him with curious eyes, and let out a deceptively cheery chirp.
Horace felt his stomach drop and his blood go cold. His earlier unease was now exploding in full-blown anxiety. He had heard about some of the sailing superstitions as a kid and he never quite took them seriously—at least, until he became a venturer himself. Twice before he had seen the dreaded red-tailed swallows, and had been lucky to escape the ensuing catastrophe with his life. The second time the storm had stranded him for 8 days on the back of a stratosaur, with no food or water in frigid temperatures—an experience he was not keen on repeating.
A second swallow joined the first on a nearby rope, and the two began chirping at each other. A couple sailors nearby Horace looked up, and swore under their breath. More swallows could be seen now flying above the ship, drifting lazily in the eddies and chirping their maddenly ill-fitting cheerful music.
Swallowing past the lump in his throat, Horace pulled his coat tighter around him with his lower arms and pulled on his cap tighter with his upper arms, and headed belowdecks to pray in desperation.
  The red-tailed swallow is a bird found in many regions, and in many cultures is considered a sign of impending catastrophe. The crimson red feathers on its tail distinguish it from the many other species of similar size and shape, and can be a fearful sight depending on how strongly the observer believes in certain aeronautical superstitions.   Certain groups prey on this fear, using the red-tailed swallow as a symbol of warning to opponents, often using blood to form the tail. To come home to a red-tailed swallow painted on your door was a clear message: give in to your opposition, or die. The symbol is also a favorite of doomsayers, as their status as harbingers of catastrophe fit in well with the message of doomsayers.

Basic Information


The most well-known feature of the red-tailed swallow is its distinctive crimson swatch of feathers on its tail. The coloring of the rest of its body varies by region, ranging from a medium brown to solid black. Adult males are typically about 250cm in length and have a uniform color (aside from their tails). Adult females are about 220cm in length, and have a lightly colored chest (sometimes white) and a slightly lighter red in their tail feathers.

Ecology and Habitats

Red-tailed swallows can be found in any of the middle or upper layers of the skies. They prefer calm, low-pressure regions. Like many birds, they make their nests on any large enough object they can find, including ships.

Additional Information

Geographic Origin and Distribution

Found in the upper and middle layers of many aerial regions around the world.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

These birds have an uncanny ability to always stay a day or two ahead of violent storms. There is no clear consensus on how they are able to achieve this, although some modern scientists have put forth theorizing that red-tailed swallows are sensitive to high pressures, and thus naturally follow the low pressure bodies of air that precede major storms.
Average Length
Male: 250cm Female: 220cm
Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
Subspecies vary from medium brown to jet black in body coloring. All possess crimson red feathers on their tails, this being their distinguishing characteristic.


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