I have had a fascination with birds for a looooong time, especially parrots because they’re so goofy and birds of prey because they just look interesting. Add to that a fascination with mythical critters and is it any wonder I’m fond of griffins?
Griffins have now made an appearance in my writing. Lines of Succession has a griffin named Tiercel for a character, and he is quite a character! That’s why L is for Griffin.
When coming up with Tiercel’s character, I originally had the idea of telling scenes from the griffin’s perspective. I wanted him to be intelligent but distinctly not human and not exactly sentient. That made him an unreliable narrator, a skill I still don’t have nailed down too well, so I reset his character and came up with a different approach.
In the current form, Tiercel is pretty smart and fiercely protective of his rider, Elaina. If you take a smart parrot and cross it with a well-trained, large dog, you’ll get pretty close to his personality. He listens to her, usually, but he does have a mind of his own.
Here, check out this excerpt starring Tiercel (no spoilers. It’s from very early on in the book):
A much closer griffin screech drew his attention to the bridge connecting the aerie to the launch area on the castle’s roof. Princess Elaina walked her griffin over. The feathered, raptorial forequarters and wings were black with tan flecks gradually transforming to black and tan speckled feline hindquarters.
The griffin towered a foot and a half over the princess, who barely stood five feet even with riding boots on, but then her mother had been petite too.
Looking at the princess now, Alexander felt an urge to add his protest to the growing list of people of all ranks who opposed the king’s plans. Such a spirited girl wouldn’t last a full week in Toshiroan society without emerging a dull, lifeless shell of her real self. Even if they set aside the religious concerns, that alone should have killed the deal.
Her male griffin whistled and said, “Fly, Tiercel! Fly! Fly! Fly!”
Elaina preened her griffin’s neck as they walked. “Not yet, you big goof. We have to wait for Errol.”
“Favwit twin, Eh’ol. Yeah.” The griffin nudged her with his beak.
Alexander found the nearest guardsman by the white eagle on the tabard. “Guardsman Roderick, take the telescope please.”
Jerrell Roderick whipped around and jogged over to the platform.
Alexander hopped down and walked to the eastern half of the roof where griffins launched and landed. He approached the princess and moved to bend his knee.
Elaina caught his arm and pulled him back up. “I don’t need any of that.”
Tiercel’s huge, yellow eyes narrowed and his head lowered until Alexander found he was looking beak to nose with a four-hundred-pound griffin. With the big, hooked beak so close to his face, Alexander hoped this beast was in a better mood than Lint. He rubbed the fingers the pigeon had pecked at.
“Who you?” Tiercel asked.
Alexander stepped back. “He’s a talker.”
Elaina hugged the griffin’s neck. “My favorite chatterbox.”
Tiercel tipped his head to one side and leaned closer, forcing Alexander back up another step. “Who you?”
Elaina rubbed the feather tufts on Tiercel’s head. “It’s okay, Tiercel. This is Sergeant, um, Sergeant… I’m sorry. I should know this.”
“Sergeant Alexander Richmond, Your Highness.”
She pointed her finger at him. “Right, right. From Dovecote.”
“Good gerfin?” Tiercel tilted his head to the other way. “Good gerfin?”
“Good griffin.” Elaina stroked Tiercel’s neck.
Tiercel straightened up and chirped. “Good gerfin, yeah. He’s a talker!”
In addition to Lines of Succession, there’s a sequel planned and a passel of short stories and novellas related to the novel in the works.
Your next prompt? M is for Telepath