"Once upon a time, there was a great and mysterious folk that lived up in the sky on great estates that drifted above the world.Griffons are deadly predators who ambush their prey from the clouds, cliffsides, and steep slopes. Most types of griffons are smaller creatures no bigger than a wolf. One type, though, is big enough to carry an armored man and still fly. This is the Skyloften Griffon. The smallest adults stand at fifteen hands (5 feet) at the shoulder while the biggest male ever seen stood at a terrifying twenty hands (6 feet 8 inches) at the shoulder. Solitary until the mating season, the Skyloften Griffon cannot be tamed once it learns to fly. Only during its first few weeks, while its feathers are still downy, are they able to be bonded with and tamed. Finding griffons so young is a secret of the Order of Argozi Knights. They, and only they, know where to find the rookery, Lake In The Clouds.
Nothing is known of these folk other than what we have learned from the ruins on our estate, Lake In The Clouds.
No scholar shall ever come to study the secrets in the ruins there as The Lake is more precious than gold or even Veriduun.
It is the breeding ground and rookery for our beloved griffons and we defend it to the death."
LAKE IN THE CLOUDS
Wild goats and chickens flourish on the floating island estate that is ever shrouded in clouds. Their only predators are the young griffons. Only during the mating season are the adults around. Males arrive first, each one claiming a nesting spot on a stone roof, hillside, or clifftop. These are fierce fights as there are only so many nesting spots on the island and each spot is fought over until the females arrive. It is another round of fights amonst the females to see which one gets a male and, most importantly, a nest. Once a victorious female has chosen, the happy pair will mate for about three days. Then the male will start hunting prey big enough the feed them both.
Soon after, the female will lay her eggs, usually in a clutch of about four. For the [tooltip: 28 days]span of a moon[/tooptip], the female will sit in the nest protecting and tending the eggs while the male continues hunting for them both. At the end of that time, both parents fly away from the nest, going their seperate ways and leave the eggs to hatch on their own. Each hatched clutch sticks together, bonded to their siblings for protection and to hunt. It is this bonding that is key to taming a griffon. This is the time the Argozi come to gather young griffons to take back to Skyloften.
Baby griffons are gathered to pair to each new squire and for those knights who have lost theirs in death or to being retired. No extra babies are ever taken. At Skyloften, they are placed in the Rookery portion of the Aerie, a great arborium fenced across the top as well as the sides. It is in the Rookery where all the baby griffons are housed as one big clutch, ensuring all the babies bond with one another. This is absolutely vital to prevent violent conflicts between the genders when the griffons are older. This bonding is ensured by gathering four baby griffons and placing them in a pen where they hunt and eat a goat together. Every feeding they are grouped with different babies. It is those squires and knights wanting a griffon mount that tend to all the babies in The Rookery for a full three moons. After this time, the babies start molting their down and grow true feathers, becoming fledglings.
Having spent all this time tending the babies, the new riders have become a part of the great clutch and the fledglings are ready to bond to their one rider. Each rider takes their fledgling out of the Rookery and into a stall at the stables where they will live and train together for a full year. At feeding time, rider and griffon go into the feeding pen and hunt a goat together. It is here the rider will cut off their own piece of meat and cook it over a fire while the griffon eats the rest. As the fledgling grows, the goats become cattle. The fledgling and its rider go out into the Aerie to learn commands and get used to carrying a saddle and gear. After a year has passed, weights are slowly added to the saddle to strengthen the griffon until its is easily carrying the weight of a rider. This takes a another year. At the age of two, a griffon, still too young to breed, is strong enough to carry a rider. This is when the rider steps into the saddle and rides their new griffon about the Aerie for another three moons. Finally, the training is complete and the pair are ready to travel the skies.
When a Skyloften Griffon reaches the age of four they are now ready to breed, but their bond to their rider is still so strong this is repressed. Griffons in the wild seperate from their clutch as they get bigger and require big enough prey that one kill can no longer be shared by a whole clutch and they seperate into pairs. It can take up to ten years for the paired siblings to finally seperate. Once they do, they then begin to breed. A knight and griffon will fight together, the griffon willng to attack anything their rider does. Unlike a horse, they do not spook or flee, though they are not about to attack a creature bigger than them from the front.
If a griffon dies, their heart is taken to catacombs beneath Skyloften and interred there with the same honor as are given to knight who have fallen. Though a griffon can live for fifty years, they are freed at the age of twenty. For that entire year the griffon is never ridden or allowed into any aerie but left to hunt and fend for itself so it can return to the wild. Some griffons refuse and, after their twentieth year has passed, they are accepted back by their rider. Such griffons wil then remain for life, such is the depth of their bond.
It's nice to read of griffins who are not fearsome beasts but tamed and bonded to their riders. I love how you describe the nurturing and training process that creates a strong bond. You mention how they grow in the wild and how the ones taken to the Aerie are groomed for battle. The contrast in their lives would be clearer if each group were treated in a separate subdivision of the document.
thanx ... that is a good idea