|roughly 9 000|
|various whistled languages|
Just like their more classical reptillian-looking counterparts (who preserved the teeth of their ancestors, and evolved their feathers into scale-like scutes), gryphons inhabit wast amounts of lands and are spread across various landscapes. Although they exist in the Orient too, they are mostly concentrated in the Occident.
Gryphons are hexapod (six-limbed) avians roughly the size of a horse - meaning that they have four legs and two limbs, which means a total of six limbs. Gryphons are omnivores, ideally having a diet that consists of a mixture of meat, fish, vegetables and fruits, although due to the preferred location of their nests (mountains with poorer vegetation), the majority of gryphons are de facto carnivores. Just like other birds, gryphons do not have teeth, but their beaks tend to be sharp and strong enough to break food that would be too big to swallow in whole, With the exception of the eyes, beak and their zygodactyl feet, the whole body of the gryphon is covered with feathers whose colour scheme is similar to that of a calico cat, consisting of a mixture of white, orange and optionally black. Black feathers tend to be rare amongst gryphons, but not nonexistent - they are viewed as status symbols, and gryphons with black feathers are revered by other gryphons.
Role in societies and warfare
The battlefield potential of gryphons has been observed for a very long time - all three major kingdoms of Artograch (Etrand, Froturn and Dragoc) employ gryphons both as "airborne horses" (transporting archers and javelin-throwers) and as individual combatants in themselves. In exchange for this, their nests become protected by the authorities that hire them, and food is provided for them, making them de facto mercenaries.
When employed as "airborne horses", gryphons tend to be carry an individual archer (or combatant equipped with any other ranged weapon) on their back, who is trained to shoot while on the move. Gryphons are able to "sense" where does their "pilot" want them to fly, but in case of no input - since gryphons are sentient and have agency - they can act as highly advanced autopilots. When employed as individual combatants without anyone riding them, their job is typically to harass enemy infantry, break siege engines or steal/destroy objects of high value that happen to be put on display.
The religion of Gryphons known as "the Path" is a odd religion, as it is heavily philosophical in ways that many would not expect. It does not follow a strict religious doctrine, but rather, guidelines and pieces of advice that supposedly lead one to self-understanding, and through that, higher power. Indeed, it espouses self-worship, and sees absolutely nothing wrong with acts that are usually seen ‘bad’ in other religions, such as lying and fighting.
It is regarded as more of a brickway to greater power, and with the boast that it knows the true name of God. God is not defined, but it is alluded to supposedly, the god from which all came: Even the other gods. While it is said that the god in question has over ten-thousand names, and these names have power within them, that they are also false names, and there is only one true name of god. Indeed, it is a religion that contradicts itself regularly, but this is by design, displayed even by several of its stories. The Path also claims that the true name of the one true God is right in front of everyone's faces, they are merely too blind to see it.
Worshippers are fairly uncommon (even if they do claim that everyone, to some degree, worships) but those that do follow the religion are not usually evil, but ironically tend to follow fairly bloody professions. As the religion itself is fractured, (hence, perception) if two do meet and start discussing what they believe, the usual outcome is understand, and the worst outcome is usually them going the other way while calling the other idiots; as such, they tend to be very tolerant of other religions (and can get away with practicing other religions without feeling like a heretic). Despite this, other religions may not necessarily be accepting of them.
The outline of their beliefs:
- There was never a beginning, because all beginnings are ultimately false, and God is a liar.
- The creation of all is the direct result of the perfect suicide of God: That is the full of it.
- The amount of names God has are innumerable. This is truth, but also a lie: God has only one name, and all know it.
- Living is violence. Violence is practiced by the living.
- Violence is circular. Perception is not and has flaws. Thus, rejoice in the imperfect!
- Love of oneself is the true exercise of God.
- The Death of God is a perfect paradox. Thus, mortals cannot exist without paradox.