Vulture griffins are close relatives to the "regular" griffins, also known as eagle griffins. Vulture griffins are half-vulture and half-jackal, instead of eagle and lion.
Belonging the the griffin kind, their upper half is the one of a vulture, while the lower half is the one of a jackal, hind legs and tail canines and not felines. Their bald heads are littler than a normal griffin's one, but with a more elongated vulture beck. Their necks are also vulture like, long and almost bald.
Their eyes, one the most peculiar characteristics, are round and very little, unlike the big and expressive ones seemingly every creature on Equis share. This odd difference makes their expression quite hard to read, causing quite a deal of fear and suspect from the other species. Around the base of their neck and covering their chest a poofy feathered collar (see image). Their (usually black) vulture wings are greater than a regular griffin’s eagle ones, and they can fold them around their bodies as a coat to protect themselves from the freezing cold of the desert.
To keep the food chain balanced their number is quite limited if confronted with the main species of Saddle Arabia. Their total population is a little more than one tenth of the saddle arabian horses.
The most of this population is found on the great mountain cities and the multiple oasis. A little part of their population can be found in others species settlements, especially coast cities or islands where the food problem is easily solved through fishing.
They are a bit taller than the eagle griffins, but that's more because of their elongated neck than a matter of build.
Despite being taller than eagle griffins, they have smaller muscles so they aren’t quite as strong.
Not that they would really need it, not being mostly active hunters. They have, however, a lot of stamina, which they need to carry corpses over long distances and to soar for many hours.
(if Eagle griffins are body-builders, vultures are marathon runners. Less explosive force, but they don’t become tired so soon)
Their jackal lower body allows them to cover long distances, but their top speed isn’t as good as an eagle griffin’s. Similarly, their vulture wings are good at soaring and taking full advantage of thermal columns, but worse at taking off, accelerating, and pretty much anything that requires them to beat their wings.
Necromancy: Not being hunters as much as the equestrian griffins, they developed their unique kind of magic in place of strength and better flying.
The necromancy abilities they have are:
-Soul communication: to sense and interact with the souls of the dead.
-Death sense: to detect the life force released by the dying.
-Death empowering, that allows them to absorb part of the power and strength of their kills and the recently deceased.
Every griffin is able to learn and control the complete set of skills, but the amount of time and effort required to learn each one makes it impossible to be proficient in more than one. Griffins born with enough natural talent with a skill to be evident and developed from a young age exist, but are really rare.
Every griffin, however, even without training any of their magic skills, can sense the life force of something dying close to them and feel the presence of a soul that wishes to be perceived.
Some of their social roles are closely related with their magic, but not for this reserved to a magic-using elite:
- Priests, the most skilled with soul communication. Training their skill allows them to transmit any last words the soul might have to its living relatives. They are also the ones in charge of finding and eradicating any possible warlocks (see below), as they can see souls trapped in the body of any griffin that is taking steps towards becoming a warlock. Lastly, the high priests know the secret language in which their forbidden knowledge is written. This knowledge includes dark applications of their necromancy and the list of warlocks that they have dealt with in secrecy.
- Reavers, the ones with the greatest ability to absorb and keep great amounts of "dying lifeforce". These warriors are often the second or the third line during battles, as the death of the first waves of soldiers will make them stronger. Great control and knowledge of one’s limits is required, as taking too much life force at once will make them burn themselves out, dying shortly after they spend their energy.
- Hunters and scavengers, can feel the life force released by a dead creature from the distance, without being necessarily able to manipulate it. This makes them good in finding freshly dead corpses. It also makes them good at patrolling, as killing anything near them is like using a flare pistol.
Warlocks are considered abominations by all the vulture griffins. They are extremely dangerous, as they are more powerful than any other necromancer, and the means to obtain their power is dark and evil. A vulture becomes a warlock by eating another vulture’s heart or a large amount of its flesh, which allows the warlock to steal the corpse’s soul and necromancy, becoming more powerful and younger. If a warlock steals the soul of anything that isn’t a vulture griffin he won’t become more powerful, but he will still benefit from the rejuvenating effect. They are incredibly rare, as rare as a dark unicorn like King Sombra, mainly because the taboo of not eating another vulture is their most sacred one. Furthermore, stealing souls is only a step towards becoming a warlock, as they must learn how to use their stolen power, and this knowledge is contained in the forbidden scrolls of Skullfeather, which are zealously guarded by the high priests of the vulture griffins.
A warlock becomes able to use new abilities as he keeps on cannibalizing other vultures (the numbers are estimates, not strict frontiers):
- Less than 100 victims: the warlock becomes more powerful in the three common abilities of the vultures. A warlock of this level will seem to be a highly talented griffin to a non-priest.
- 100-1000: the warlock acquires the power of animating corpses that will obey his orders or attack anything alive if the warlock isn’t controlling them. A warlock of this level can match regular priests, reaver and scavengers in their respective fields.
- 1000-50000: the warlock acquires the power of stealing the souls of recently dead vultures without resorting to cannibalism, as well as the power of making anything they touch wither and die. A warlock of this level will only be surpassed by the best reavers/priests/scavengers in their respective fields.
- More than 50000: it is unknown, as no warlock has ever managed to kill so many vultures. Skullfeather’s scrolls suggest that something terrible will happen, but they aren’t specific on what will actually happen and if it will be terrible for the warlock or for the rest.
Their source of power is also their doom, as warlocks need to keep stealing vulture souls to keep themselves alive, because the amount of stolen magic that runs through their bodies makes them age faster than they should. This eventually forces them to start a killing rampage when trying to keep a low profile will make them age to death in a matter of days. Their rampage will end either when they try to attack a population too fortified for their army of zombies or when the next population is so far away that they die of old age before reaching it, which is a real possibility in Saddle Arabia, where settlements are often separated by days of travel.
Their under developed physical abilities combined with their diet full of bacterias results in weaker healing and slower recovery time from physical harm like open wounds and broken bones, but a greater resistance to diseases, necrosis and infections.
Eggs or cubs?
Frankly, we HAVE NO IDEA!!! We haven't found informations about griffin reproduction in any stories, topic etc. Is pretty much up to Blackwing with the whole "Gilda pregnant" thing.
Due to not being strong hunters like normal griffins, and given that most of their meals are to be found already dead, they have developed a more deceitful behaviour, that goes along well with their hard to read face. This doesn’t mean that they are all cheaters or such, they are just not as straightforward as your common meat-eater might be. The spiritual and philosophical culture they share because of the bond their society has with death has made them used to sometimes speak through metaphors and not completely clear ways. If you want to develop a severe headache, listen to a zebra discuss with a vulture griffin.
Rather intelligent, the lack of resources in their habitat forced them to get smart in using the little at their disposal in the most productive way. They are “street-wise” and good at making the most out of what they have.
Vultures usually live almost ten years less than eagles (true!), so their griffin counterpart should live about 100-120 years, 30 years less than normal griffins.
Like normal griffins, they can be omnivorous, but with a marked preference for meat, especially if rotten, that can be digested even as easily as normal meat. They also prefer the taste of meat when it’s a bit rotten, and eating such every some time is also considered important on a ceremonial/spiritual level. Consuming rotten meat is the only way for a griffin to charge his/her necromancy magic. Not eating enough of it will make them lose their powers until they eat rotten meat again.
Their kind is from the southern Saddle Arabian region, where their nest-cities are located, built in the mountains and great oasis bordering the desert. Some of them also inhabit the islands that surround Equestria and Saddle Arabia. They are almost nonexistent in Equestria, where carnivores are seen as monsters, and in the north, where dragons, diamond dogs and eagle griffins are too much competition for them.
Their cities are usually built atop and on the most edificables slopes of mountains, where non-flying races can’t reach with ease. This isolation is because of the not good general opinion the others species of Saddle Arabia have of them, thought little communities are accepted in the others cities.
Most cities also have small outposts on the surrounding oasis, which are also graveyards because the dirt around an oasis is better for burying bodies than sand. These outposts allow them to carry water to the city, trade with the non-flying races and have a place to rest between hunting trips.
Their buildings are built with clay and rocks (large pieces of wood are very scarce in deserts, I don’t think they would waste them on buildings). Their houses resemble nests from the outside, as the clay is mixed with dead branches from trees. Their non-residential buildings have a somber outlook, and they often resemble mausoleums. They will also make use of any cave that their mountain might have.
Their society, philosophical beliefs, magic are all based on death and it's ramifications. It's not uncommon seeing vulture griffins, even not belonging to the priest chaste, talking with the soul of a dead they have felt being nearby, even without having the power to actually listen to what the soul might reply, out of pure respect and devotion. They developed a great acceptance of death, considering it not such a horrible fate but simply something unavoidable that allows the next generation to be born. This doesn't mean they are fine with murder and accidents: every life is based on the lost ones and ending a life is a offense to them all, especially a young one, unless it is ended for good reasons like fighting in defense or eating. However, once a life has ended, they just accept it faster than other species.
Vultures bury their dead whenever they can, as they believe in a circle of death in which they eat dead animals, the soil “eats” their dead so plants can grow and herbivores eat those plants. Sometimes a vulture’s family can decide to plant a seed in the corpse and let it grow. Is said that some of their greatests oasis were born like this, meaning their society is LITERALLY built on death. Cannibalism is their most important taboo, and breaking it is punished with death and incineration. Because they believe that if you are incinerated you are taken out of the circle of death, as you no longer deserve to belong in it.
It is a common belief among griffins that the souls of their relatives follow them in their moments of need. This is why it is common to see a griffin talk “alone” whenever he is facing a big trouble. Priests also know when a griffin is in trouble or depressed or something is going bad for him in general because he/she is followed by a trail of dead ancestors that are worried about him/her.
Skullfeather the PaleEdit
Skullfeather, born around 1200 years ago, is known as the most powerful soul speaker in history and the founder of the vulture’s religion, which unified them under an idea and greatly reduced the conflicts between clans that plagued their society. He was affected by Albinism, and such characteristic made him extremely weak in the body and vulnerable to the strong sun of Arabia. The same thing, however, made him extremely sensitive to magic, allowing him to communicate with the souls of the deceased better than any other living griffin. He is the one who wrote most of the techniques and secrets regarding necromancy magic, taught to him by the spirits themselves. His teachings became the base of vulture’s religion and society. The darkest secrets that the spirits taught him were confined to documents written in a secret language that only Skullfeather and his closest disciples could read. Nowadays only the highest ranking priests can access this knowledge, and most griffins don’t even know about the existence of such magic.
Since Skullfeather’s birth it is said that albino vultures are chosen by Death herself to don their color, white, because they are destined to do something that will change the course of history.
Sharpbeak the ImpureEdit
Born 200 years after Skullfeather’s demise, she became the first (and last, according to registred history) vulture warlock. She hated ponies because their rulers controlled the Moon and the Sun. This became blatantly obvious when Luna became Nightmare Moon, which happened during her youth, as the destiny of all life in Equis depended on which pony won, the crazy one that would freeze them to death with eternal night or her sister. Thus, she was obsessed with finding a way of becoming powerful enough to defeat Celestia and make the vulture griffins leave their arid homeland and settle in Equestria. Because of this, she became a priest, as she knew that priests were the ones who knew most about vulture magic. Her obsession was mistaken with devotion by her superiors, so she soon climbed to the highest ranks of priesthood. When she finally was given access to all of Skullfeather’s documents, even the most secret ones, she discovered that there was only one way for her to ever become more powerful than any mortal: becoming a warlock. Armed with that knowledge, she left the capital and travelled to a far away oasis and poisoned it, killing most of the griffins that lived near it so she could eat their flesh and acquire their magic. This power boost gave her the ability to create undead slaves, which she used to attack the surrounding towns and eat more corpses. Soon she became a one woman army, her uncontrolled hordes of undead overwhelming any resistance the cities could muster. However, she also became desperate, as her power was also making her age so fast that she had to kill a hundred vultures each day to halt the aging process. This made her reckless and became her downfall, as she decided to attack head first the army gathered by Lappetface and died in the fight, making all of her slaves to drop dead and ending the massacre.
Historically speaking, she’s the vulture equivalent of Nightmare Moon or Sombra. Historians estimate that her actions caused the death of around a fifth of their total population back then, and several other species also lost many members due to her undead’s attacking anything that was alive.
Lappetface the Red-rumpedEdit
Probably the most famous vulture reaver ever, he was the one to defeat Sharpbeak the Impure with the help of the whole Priest chast, of which he was also an important philosopher that developed many of Skullfeather’s ideas. To defeat the Impure he is said to have absorbed the dying energy of several small cities destroyed by the side effects of the "Impure catastrophe".
In doing so, however, despite his unmatched talent as warrior, he doomed himself, literally bursting with power in his final fight with Sharpbeak and dying with her.
Some poets and historiographers believe that the two were lovers before her madness and Lappetface did so in a last desperate love act. Those are just theories, thought.
To be called red-rumped by a vulture griffin is a great compliment to one’s bravery, or a critic to one’s recklessness.
Characters from current storiesEdit
Appearance in StoriesEdit