|Official Name||Longtail Gryphon|
|Common Nicknames||Lioniche, Jáhjahcoëss’e Gass’latoa|
Viewed as a strange beast by both the Asha and the Allorn Empire, this native Ithanian species is rarely, if ever, interacted with by any being outside of its own species. Later into the time of the Allorn Empire, the beast became symbolic of Ithania itself, subsequently causing their image became a standard architectural feature. In the years since the Cataclysm, the animal has retreated deeper into the Ithanian forests they reside in. The creature’s most notable feature is its inability to fit into neither avian nor mammalian, simply defined as a feline head connected to a bird-like body. Today, they are most commonly seen set in stone as a minor animal in the pantheon of architectural symbolism the highly cultured Ithanians make use of though some Ithanian nobles do seek the challenge of hunting down this beast.
The Longtail Gryphon was first discovered by the ancient and long-since-lost Dewamenet Empire. Existing on the fringes of the Empire’s lands, these creatures were pitied by some on account of their mixture between bird and land animal. When the Allorn Empire eventually conquered the Asha, they viewed the animal with a similar sentiment, though their unique appearance prompted study by Altalar scholars and hunting from Altalar nobility. Up until the Cataclysm, the animal slowly became more respected and viewed as a unique treasure of the landscape. Altalar residing in Ithania incorporated the animal into their architecture, and many members of regional nobility adopted the Gryphon as a sigil.
With the Cataclysm, however, came loss. The species was seemingly scared deeper inland, retreating into Ithania’s forests. In spite of being well-recorded by scholars before the Cataclysm, the Gryphon became mythical over the course of several decades, remembered as powerful, titanic monsters. After 100 AC, a living adult Gryphon specimen was discovered by an Ithanian hunting party, though they mistook it for an infant of its species, knowing little about what the Gryphon truly was like, owing to the long time since one was last sighted. When this was revealed as false, interest was lost in the animal, and since then, the creature has been left alone, aside from the odd hunting party or eccentric trapper. In recent years, as people have spread further from cities and towns, contact between civilization and these enigmatic creatures has grown. Only time will tell if this slow increase in contact will lead to conflict or mutual cohabitation.
The Longtail Gryphon stands at one-and-a-half feet in height with a wingspan of six to seven feet, while their body length is between fourteen and sixteen feet on a fully grown specimen. They weigh anywhere between 60 to 75 lbs, having an especially lightweight tail and, by extension, tail plumage. A Gryphon’s head is undoubtedly its most unique feature; a curious blend of feline and avian features gives the Gryphon a cat-like face, though the mammalian mouth is instead replaced with a hooked yellow beak. The beak possesses two very small nasal slits and a set of “fangs” made of pointed keratin plates on both the upper and lower jaw. Their eyes are also a curious mish-mash of animal traits, with a brown sclera surrounding a yellow or orange iris and a slitted pupil. They also possess cat-like ears that are much slimmer and flexible than other felines, while their necks are surrounded by a ruffle of fur that fades down into feathers as it reaches the rest of the body.
A Gryphon’s body itself is very avian, with two large high-lift wings, as well as two taloned legs well built for grasping the branches of trees and for walking on the ground. They also possess a large, plumaged tail that makes up two thirds of their body length. The feathers on their tail are the longest on their body, but also the lightest and just barely cover the prehensile tail beneath. This plumage varies between many shades of brown while their head and face are streaked with white with cream colored underbellies.
The Longtail Gryphon lacks gender dimorphism or unequal gender binaries. Males and females remain equal in number.
Life Span and Development
The Longtail Gryphon has a unique life, both due to how it is raised, and its lifespan. They begin being hatched either on its own, or with one sibling. They emerge first in “soft eggs”, similar to reptiles, nearly dissipated egg sacks that they easily tear out of unless they need help from a parent. Once this is done, the infant animal requires constant warmth and care for several months as its eyes slowly open and it's pure down grows into fur and feathers. During this time, they are cared for in a central location alongside other Gryphon babies. They are always cared for by their parents, usually the mother while the father hunts. After approximately six months on the ground at this central location, the next six months are used to help teach the creature how to fly and use its tail to help it.
At the end of the first year, the Gryphon leaves with its parents and spends the next five years learning and growing larger with them. At age six or seven, the young Longtail Gryphon will need to make a nest of its own which it does often very close to its parents. At this time, they are also able to mate and usually do so at the time of the next mating season. However, Gryphons have a most unusual mating season, that being every three years in the spring. This means that their population has been consistently kept low throughout their entire history. Longtail Gryphons also grow infertile at the age of thirty for unknown reasons, and can live for up to forty years.
The Longtail Gryphon has a rather complex, almost human emotional and mental spectrum which fascinates those who study them. They are caring creatures, passionate about their offspring and their own kind with few inter-communal fights taking place. Even in the mating season, only a thoroughly rejected Gryphon may turn to violence to seek gratification which other Gryphons seem to look down on as the individual is often “punished” by social exclusion for several months after the season. When on the hunt, they act like birds of prey and use their great wings to hunt silently before swooping in and snatching up their prey, quickly killing it with several ripping jabs of their beak. These tools of the hunt come into play well when they defend their territory, which they do so aggressively. Some say that just touching one of their young will drive them to hunt you until the end of the earth out of rage but certainly, the nesting season is the worst time to disrupt a commune of Gryphons.
Territory and Groupings
Longtail Gryphons live in communes consistently numbering under 100 in the forests of Ithania. These communes are usually gathered around the nesting space that baby Gryphons grow up in every several years. They form large nesting groups based around literally, family trees where the children create nests either in the same or nearby trees when their time comes to do so. Males and females interact freely without hostility with one another though they can get as such when agitated.
- The Longtail Gryphon of today is still believed by some scholars to be an innate Void corruption of a once far more powerful animal. They simply cannot accept the myths of great lion-birds with paws and talons as pure fantasy.
- The most well known Longtail Gryphon was known as “Eugene l'Eventreur” or “Eugene the Ripper” who was known for the infamous killing of a hunter in which he ripped the man’s entire face open with his talons. He or his commune was never tangled with again while he lived.
- Some Ithanian nobility have sought methods of taming Longtail Gryphons, with the most progress made by Lady Angeline du Blanche of Shevaix. Alone, she has coaxed Longtail Gryphons to eat small meat treats from her open hand.