THE GRYPHON ("GRIFFON", "GRYFFON")

APPEARANCE - SPECIAL ABILITIES - TERRITORY - HABITAT/BEHAVIOUR
DIET - MATING - MYTH/LORE - IMPORTANCE - RESEARCHERS

Gryphons (also often spelled "Griffons" or "Gryffons") are noble beasts with the head, forelegs and wings of a majestic eagle and the strong body of a lion. Their appearance is not very common nowadays, but they mainly can be spotted roaming the highlands of the Tandala, the High and the Low Fores or the Magic Sickle at the west of Santharia.

There are 24 known ways "Gryphon" has been spelled through time: Gryffen, girphinne, greffon, grefyne, grephoun, griffen, griffin, griffion, griffon, griffoun(e), griffown, griffun, griffyn, grifon, grifyn, griphin, griphon, gryffin, gryffon, gryfon, gryfoun(e), gryphen, gryphin, and gryphon.

A Gryphon on partrol
View picture in full size Image description. One of Santharia's noblest beasts, a majestic eagle with the strong body of a lion - the Gryhon. Picture drawn by Sandara.

Appearance. Gryphons have the forelegs and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion. They range anywhere from 2 peds (females) to 3 ½ peds (males) at the shoulders, and are between 3 and 4 peds in length, from beak to flank, the tail itself adds another ped. They are normally weighing about 5-9 pygges. They are built like felines, save the shoulders and up. Gryphons have a very flexible spine, a long fur tufted tail and extremely stream line in form. The hind paws, feline-like, range from about 1/8 of a ped to about ¼ a ped in width. Adorned with sharp, normally around 12 nailbreathds back claws that are retractable. The tail is flexible and prehensile, used like a rudder when running at full speeds, much like a cheetah. Short, neatly trimmed fur adorns the pelt. A standard gryphon is about 15% body fat. The rest of the weight is pure muscle.

Starting at about the high back, just below the shoulders is where the dense feathers erupt. Usually glistening and smooth, the feathers are completely waterproof like a duck, and a standard Gryphon will take an hour a day at least grooming them to make them waterproof. Erupting from the tops of the shoulders are eagle like wings with an usual 7-8 ped length wingspan, each wing normally being between 3-4 peds. The head part is eagle-like with a sharp, razor edged sickle beak, usually 5 nailsbreadth in length from the nares (nostrils) to the sharp tip of the beak. Forelegs can be either like a standard feline, paws like the back legs, or like an eagle's legs (this version is often called simply "Gryph"), scaled and ending with sharp, dangerous talons, each normally 6 nailsbreadth long and able to crush rocks.

Concerning coloration: Gryphons are black in standard, white, grey and dark brown, though blues and reds have been seen occasionally. Multiple colors usually only happen at females, which are then calico in color, but this is extremely rare (1 out of 500 or so).
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Special Abilities. Gryphons have extremely good eyesight: When flying they can see a mouse on the ground from a standard 30 peds above. Gryphons can swivel their head like an owl, 180 degrees in a circle. Gryphons also normally can hear a mouse underground, or a creature moving 5 peds away.

Gryphons can also deal quite well with extreme weather changes - like all felines they are capable of getting used to environment changes easily as long as there is food. Highly adaptable to any current situations makes the Gryphon an awesome predator: Long legs, flexible spine and sharp claws help to propel the Gryphon forward at speeds upwards of 50 strals/hour.

Most Gryphons also hold a flexible enough body to be able to fly, for a short time, upside down (there are eagles that do this also). This gives them the ability to come from under a meal, twist and end up talons to the animal’s stomach. When diving in flight they can also reach speeds of 110+, using their massive bodies as well as gravity. When soaring they normal keep a speed of around 50 strals/hour, using the winds current to keep them adrift.

Wild Gryphons can also live up to 800 years. Age of a Gryphon in captivity can go past 1200 years.
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Territory. Gryphons can live in any territory. A male will stake out a territory of around 50 holds, within the forest. Dens are usually spacious and underground. If not then under fallen trees, on mountain sides anywhere. Gryphons are very practical and don’t really care where they live unless they have young. Then they are often more particular.

Gryphon appearances are not very common nowadays, but they mainly can be spotted roaming the highlands of the Tandala, the High and the Low Fores or the Magic Sickle at the west of Santharia.
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Habitat/Behaviour. Gryphons prefere eagle-like structures in social societies. A pair of Gryphons, that were hence wandering will come together and mate for life. When hunting they normally take to the air, though they have been known to hunt upon the ground in deeply wooded forests. When a male and female bond they are inseparable unless one is hunting for young while the other “baby-sits.”

Highly defensive of their meals, Gryphons normally hang dead food from tree branches to protect the meal from ground predators. When eating Gryphons keep their wings open, shading the meal from prying eyes of other predators.

Gryphons would prefer to eat a fresh kill, instead of anything old. Not highly enthralled with old food, they love the hunt itself, though they will not normally kill just for fun.
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Diet. Almost always meat is the preferred meal of a Gryphon, depending on where they claim territory. They can eat anything from many mice to young dragons, though they prefer not to, they don’t care for the scales. Gryphons prefer horses. They are about perfect size, like an entire chicken for a single human. When they eat, they store what is left, either hanging it from a tree or burying it under dirt. They are highly adaptable though, they can eat berries and often have immunity to the poisons most plants have.
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A young Gryphon
View picture in full size Image description. A few weeks young Gryphon walking a branch. Illustration drawn by Sandara.

Mating. Most often the male is the aggressor within any aspect of the social structure. Males often bring gifts, large meals or jewels stolen from humans. Hours of grooming usually follow once the female accepts the male’s gifts, allowing him in her territory. Males often preform vivid dances in attempt to get the females attention. Blues and reds often woo females in with their odd colored feathers. The larger the male the better his chance of reproduction.

During the mating act itself, the pair will breed up to 10 times a day. The male’s penis swells like a dog's, locking male and female together for anywhere from 10 min to 30 min. leaving both male and female in possible dangers path. The mating process of life mates is normally very strong bonded and sensual. The mating process normally lasts up to a week.

Females carry young for 11 months, 3-6 young are born in a clutch. They are often born about 30 lbs each. The young stay with their mothers, if the mother is a wanderer, for about 10 years. A hatchling can stay within a pride for up to 50 years before going out on its own. Sexual maturity is reached when they are in their early 110’s, and they are full grown by the time they are 200.
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Myth/Lore. Gryphon's are rumored to be the pets of the Gods. Having been created in sight of the lion’s bravery and the eagle’s grace and intelligence. It has been said that the Gods wanted a true, pure creature that would defend to the death, but not cause problems otherwise. They saw the lion as the king of beasts, the source of bravery, and the eagle as the source of intelligence and thus, created the Gryphon. The Gryphon can control both land and air in its form.

There are other stories as well: Some elven sources speak of a mythological embodiment of the High Goddess, Avá, and her counterpart, Coór: It is said that the High Goddess is represented by the bird part of the beast while the Shadow constitutes the part of the beast associated to matter (see "Cárpa'dosía"). The Griffon dominates both realms - the spiritual (sky/wind) and the material world (ground/earth) and therefore shouldn't be underestimated as an opponent. Others tend to link the Griffon back to the mage wars of long ago, the so called War of the Chosen (9500 b.S.). At this time many creatures were magically bred by evil sorcerers, especially the genderless Centaur is said to have originated from this unforgetable age of darkness which brought havoc over the Sarvonian lands. Among these weird creations Gryphons could have found their place. The true origin of the Gryphon is still unknown.
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Importance. Although or even because Gryphons are rather rare they have been known for centuries as symbols of strength and vigilance. Regarding human ethics and virtues they also represent power, arrogance and pride. Because of the latter and the mentioned mythological interpretation the true nature of the Gryphon may be interpreted in a dual way: On the one hand several religious communities interpret Gryphons as beasts of the light, on the other hand the symbol of the Gryphon has also found its way into demonic rites representating Coór, the Shadow of the World.

Especially sovereigns of the Eyelian tribe have always been, and continue to be, famous beast masters in Santharian history, and consequently have to be mentioned when speaking about the vigilant Gryphons . This holds especially true with the "Griffonrider" Taranthir II., whose extraordinary ability of taming wild Griffons inhabiting the Rimmerins Ring was greatly appreciated and sometimes even feared throughout the lands as such an act was always deemed as a deed of immense power and authority. It is for this reason that the king's most beloved Gryphon, Zarathim, is pictured on the Eyelian coat of arms, which, according to the reports of several sources, was a dangerous monster and only obeyed to the strict commands of its master.
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Researchers. Gryphons are almost impossible to find, to do research on. Gryphons are a very rare species, rumored to have gone extinct by now.
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Information provided by Ashen Gryphon and Artimidor View Profile