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A Stormwing is an immortal with a body half human, and half steel bird. Their creation was prompted by a woman dreaming of something to show human beings the ravages of war without glorifying them. Stormwing society is organized in named nations, ruled by a system that combines nobility, monarchy and meritocracy. The king or queen of a Stormwing nation can be deposed in battle. While they have powerful magic, it is very different from the human Gift. It is difficult for Stormwings to breed, so they value children of all species.
The Stormwings have human heads and chests,and bird wings and feet. Their bird parts are made from steel and they are capable of flight. They are similar in appearance to harpies but are not exclusively female. They are Immortals, so they die only when they are slain, but never from old age, disease, or starvation. They were brought into the mortal world when the barrier between Tortall and the Divine Realms was breached.
By nature, they are often described as despicable, feeding off the fear and terror created by the war, and desecrating the corpses of the dead. As described in The Immortals and Protector of the Small quartets, Stormwings urinate on corpses, cake them in dung, and then roll in the mess.
Arrows fletched with stormwing feathers are able to penetrate any magical shield.
In the Immortals Quartet, the question is raised by Daine's young friend Maura of whether or not the Stormwings are personally responsible for their behavior, as it is their nature, not their will, that they would feed off war and death.
The Stormwings are also used to portray a strong message against the glory of war and a soldier's death. The woman who dreamed up the Stormwings (as all Immortals are the result of a mortal's dreaming in the Tortall Universe), had done so after witnessing the tragedy and destruction of war. It had been her hope that if kings and soldiers alike could think of the Stormwings before they went to war, they would rethink their decision knowing that the Immortals would feed off their dead and the fear that they create.
Notable Stormwing characters
- Rikash Moonsword, a Stormwing lord who first appears as an antagonist in Wolf-Speaker, but eventually becomes an ally of Daine.
- Ozorne Muhassin Tasikhe, Emperor of Carthak and the primary antagonist of The Immortals, is turned from a human to a Stormwing in the climactic battle of Emperor Mage, and remains one throughout The Realms of the Gods.