In the Sky
From poisonous Dragons to fierce Griffins and the glorious Phoenix, the fantastical Creatures of the sky soar through a realm barely glimpsed by humankind.
Dragons (Family: Draconidae)
Formidable predators, Dragons (also known as Wyrms and Drakes) are missive in size with fearsome teeth, deadly breath, vicious claws and hides like stone. Dragons generally make their home in caves and mountains, far from humankind, but they come close to people, their huge appetite is generally a source of conflict.
Dragons are fond of penned livestock; in particular they love to scrape the udders of female Cattle and drink the milk. Milk accelerates the rate of a Dragon's growth to an alarming degree. Their diet also includes large Mammals and even big Fish such as Sharks. Occasionally, if driven by hunger, they will eat Humans as well and have been known to lay siege to whole villages.
The last recorded Dragon slaying was in the eighteenth century by the knight Sir Garrot. At that time, there were particular incubators that people used to determine if Dragons were in the vicinity. These signs are useful to keep in mind.
They include a thick, poisonous vapor in the air and water that stings the throats of those who drink it or burns the skin of those who bathe with it. Dragons exude poison and this poison seeps into everything they touch.
Like a Snake, the Dragon reproduces through laying vast quantities of eggs few of which will hatch. Even fewer offspring live to adulthood. Dragons are solitary Creatures and it is unusual to encounter more than two adults together. Baby Dragons can be small enough to sit in the palm of a Human hand.
Dragons spend a great deal of their lives sleeping. Like great Cats, they can appear lazy when not hunting. When moving with a purpose, however, Dragons are swift, both on the ground and in the air.
Common the world over but especially throughout Asia and Europe, some Dragons are known for their great wisdom, but reports of their guile are far more common.
Griffins (Family: Mixtidae)
The regal Griffin (also spelled Gryphon) is thought to be the offspring of an Eagle (king of the air) and a Lion (king of all Beasts). Its plumage ranges from cream to deep brown, yet some specimens have feathers with a deep, dark bluish sheen.
While man Griffins migrated to Europe from the Middle East in the 13th century, most remain desert-dwelling. They roost in high places and are only likely to be spotted when they fly in search of food. Their bones are more commonly discovered, although they are often mistaken for the bones of Dinosaurs.
The adult Griffin is about the size of a Lion but far stronger. Despite their formidable natural advantages, Griffins are very rare. Unlike less fantastical hybrids like Mules, however, they can reproduce. Their eggs are said to be made of agate.
Griffins are resistant to the poison of Dragons and very hostile to Horses. For this reason, the offspring of a Griffin and a Horse (the Hippogriff) is considered to be a symbol of the enduring power of love.
Phoenixes (Family: Vetustidae)
The Phoenix, sometimes called a Fenix or Firebird, is a majestic, glorious Bird with purple and gold plumage. Custom says that there is only one Phoenix alive at a given time, but the Fowl is so rare that no one has been able to corroborate this notion. They do not require food to sustain themselves, though they have known to eat the gum of a Frankincense tree (Boswellia thurifera).
A Phoenix will live for centuries (500 years, according to one source), whereupon it will build a nest of Cinnamon, Myrrh and Spikenard. There it incinerates itself by reflecting the sun off its plumage to spark fire and fanning the flames with its wings. Nine days later, another phoenix hatches from those same ashes.