The First Partnership


Erak first heard about them in the nest, from her mother, and to her they sounded fascinating.

Her earliest memory was of her mother. While she was too young to see, her eyes still sealed shut when she came out of her egg, she could feel the soft fur and feathers of her mother’s belly, and the wriggling shapes of the other chicks.

But by the time her eyes opened, only one of her siblings was still there. She would cuddle up to him for warmth when their mother left to hunt, and fight with him for the food she brought back. But there never seemed to be enough food. She was always hungry, and as she grew her hunger grew as well. When food came she would tear at it with her tiny beak, gulping the meat down as fast as she could. If her brother got in the way she would hit him with her talons and knock him aside. She grew to be bigger and stronger than him, and soon she was strong enough to shove him aside and eat before he could. Sometimes she ate everything before he took any for himself, and it made her grow even bigger and more able to take what she wanted. Her brother stayed small, and got smaller, and then one day he went to sleep and never woke up.

His sister, nameless then, lay beside him for a long time and felt his body growing cold and stiff. He didn’t press up against her the way he used to, and she couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t move. When their mother came back, she pushed at him with her beak. He slumped back onto the bottom of the nest and didn’t stir, and she huffed and picked him up by the wing. The chick hung limply from his mother’s beak, and she threw him out of the nest.

After that Erak could eat all the food herself, but there still wasn’t enough. She was learning to talk now, and the first thing she wanted to talk about was food.

‘Food!’ she would chirp, looking up expectantly at her mother. ‘Food! Bring food!’

And her mother would fly away to look for it, but often she came back with nothing.

‘Why not bring food?’ Erak demanded.

‘There was no prey to catch,’ said her mother.

The little griffin shuffled around in the nest, tiny wings raised and her tail twitching. ‘Why?’

‘Prey is food,’ her mother answered. ‘But prey is hard to find now.’

‘Why?’ the chick asked again.

‘When I was young, there was always prey.’ Her mother stayed perched on the cliff’s edge beside the nest, her big talons pressing into the rock. ‘But now the land is changing. The prey has gone. There are no trees for it to hide in, and the fields are empty.’

The chick didn’t understand, and she only stared at her mother.

‘The humans did this,’ her mother went on. ‘I saw it. They take the trees away to make their nests. My own mother told me about this.’

That was the first time Erak ever heard the word “human”, and she was fascinated.

Not long after this there was suddenly food again. Her mother was gone for longer when she left now, but she began to bring back prey – good prey. The chick gorged herself on the meat, and kept on growing, her chick fluff giving way to proper feathers and a coarse new coat covering the soft fur on her hindquarters. Her wing feathers grew out, long and strong, and her claws and talons darkened and became sharper, along with her beak.

Now she had the energy to talk more, and ask more questions, and what she asked about was the humans.

‘What are they? Where do they come from? How do they take the trees?’

‘Humans are animals that have powerful magic,’ said her mother. ‘They live together instead of alone in their territories, and they use their magic to make trees and rocks into giant nests which stand up from the ground. They have no beaks or talons, but they can make the branches of trees fly through the air and kill their enemies. Once a human made a branch chase me and hurt me in the flank, and my mother told me that she saw another griffin die that way. She told me that she was told by her mother that once there were no humans. Once, long ago, there were only griffins. But now there are humans, and more of them are always coming.’

‘Are they food?’ the young griffin asked.

‘Humans can be eaten, but they are not good to eat,’ said her mother. ‘But the prey we eat now was theirs. I took it from them.’

‘Did you fight them?’

‘No. Humans keep their prey alive by their nests. I caught it and flew away before they could attack me. When you leave you may do the same, but be careful. Humans are dangerous.’

The young griffin listened, and remembered, but she wasn’t afraid. One day, she decided, she would go and see these creatures for herself.

Eventually, the day came when she was ready to leave the nest. Her wings had been growing stronger, and she spent time flapping them experimentally, and trying short dashes across the cliff-face, imitating the way her mother would run before she took off. At last, when she did this one day – running over the stone with her wings beating hard, she lifted off from the ground for the first time and made her first clumsy flight away from the cliff.

For a moment she almost panicked,  beating her wings harder than she needed to and twisting herself around in the air. But then her instincts took over. She spread her wings and held them out rigidly. Her tail locked into a straight line, the feathery fan on the end balancing her, and she settled into a glide.

She flew out over the dark treetops below the cliff where she had grown up, savouring the feeling of the wind in her feathers and the strength in her wings and tail that kept her in the air like this. Her legs tucked themselves in under her belly, talons curled, and her eyes scanned the ground, alert for any movement.  Above and behind her the cliff rose in a silent mass of deep reds, browns and greys, its face craggy with cliffs and hollows. When she was a chick it had seemed as big as the whole world, but now she could fly higher – she could go up and over it if she chose. She was its master now.

She flew back to the nest full of triumph, and found her mother waiting for her.

‘You have flown,’ she said. ‘Now choose your name, and become an adult.’

‘I am Erak,’ the young griffin answered.

‘Then go, Erak,’ said her mother. ‘Go and do not come back. This territory is mine now, not yours.’

Erak didn’t argue, or even speak. She turned away from her mother and flew again, away from the cliff and off into the world as every young griffin did.


Erak knew what she had to do now, even though her mother had never told her. Instinct was enough. She must keep on flying until she found a source of food where there were no other griffins. Then she would make her territory there, and live on that territory until she died or was driven out.

She flew in the direction her mother had always gone when she hunted, thinking that there must be food that way, but it was a longer flight than she could have imagined. For a long time she was flying over forest, her wings already starting to ache. Then the trees ended and she was over open fields of grass. She stopped there, landing clumsily on the ground, and lay down to rest. Her wings and tail hurt.

But the sunshine felt good, and she settled down on her stomach and pecked at the grass, which she had never seen before. She liked the smell of it.

She dozed for a while, then got up and took to the air again. It was harder this time, without the cliff face to help her, but after a couple of attempts she struggled back into the sky and flew on. She was hungry now, and she watched the ground, hoping to see some animal down there to eat.

But there was nothing. The field was barren.

She kept going until she saw something on the other side of it – something unlike anything she had seen before. It looked like a scatter of rocks, all straight edged and pointed, but these rocks were huge – some of them looked as big as she was. But perhaps there was food hiding among those rocks, she thought, and went on hopefully toward them.

And she was right – as she came closer she began to smell food. The scent of live prey drifted up through the air toward her, and she began to salivate. Her stomach ached with hunger.

Soon she was directly over the strange rocks, which she saw weren’t rocks at all – they scented of wood, and many other things which she didn’t recognise. But she saw the prey wandering between them, and ignored the other sights and smells. They weren’t important; only the hunt mattered.

Erak hovered for a moment, wings fluttering, while she chose her prey. There were plenty of animals to choose from, all bunched together on the ground. She chose one that looked bigger than the others, pulled her wings in tightly against her flanks, and dived, talons spread for the kill.

The instant before her talons hit the prey, a sharp shock of pain went slamming through her haunches. Caught off-balance, she tumbled sideways and hit the ground with a painful thump. The prey scattered around her, bleating in panic. Winded, her wing hurting where she had landed on it, Erak scrabbled at the mud. Her hind leg would not work any more, and she could feel something hot and sticky running through her fur. The thing that had hurt her was still stuck in her body, pulling at her skin and flesh when she moved, and as she tried to get up she saw them coming.

Strange creatures, all covered in shaggy fur, standing up on their back legs, their front legs waving in the air. Their front paws were holding onto tree branches with sharp ends, and before Erak could understand what was happening two of those branches were suddenly flying toward her through the air. They hit her and stuck into her body, and she shrieked at the pain. Too frightened to even try and fight back, she started to run away with her back leg dragging. Her wings opened and began to beat, knocking away the next branch that came at her, and with a mighty effort she flew up again. Another branch hit her in the side, but this one fell out again without hurting her badly, and she somehow managed to fly away.

She didn’t go very far. Her panic was enough to keep her going until she was away from the strange place where branches flew through the air at the command of those animals she had never seen before, but her wounds quickly brought her back to the ground. She landed hard and clumsily – it was more of a collapse than a real landing – and lay on her belly, gasping with shock.

The impact made two of the branches stuck in her come out, but her blood poured out after them, and the first one, the one stuck in her haunch, stayed where it was. She twisted weakly, trying to pull it out of herself, but couldn’t reach, and moving hurt too much for her to want to do it again. She licked at her other wounds instead, the ones she could reach, and tasted her own blood in her beak. After that she lay down, sides heaving, and felt the shock of what had happened flow through her like poison. She was hurt. There was no food, and she had nowhere to hide. She was exposed.

She dragged herself onto her paws and started to walk, not knowing where she was going, but sensing that she had to find somewhere to hide and rest, before something found her.


Erak did not remember much of what happened after that. She wandered for what felt like days, unable to use her injured leg, growing steadily hungrier and hungrier. Her wounds grew infected, and the pain of that combined with starvation and pulled her down into a haze of confusion. Sometimes she would wake up from it, not knowing where she was or how she had come to be there. Once she found herself digging her beak into the ground and eating the dirt and grass. Her body felt shaky and cold, her wings limp. She didn’t have the strength to fly any more, let alone hunt.

All she had left now was her sense of smell, and that was what brought her to food in the end. She wandered back to a place where there were some scraps of meat, and had already started to eat them before she realised where she was. But when she saw that she had wandered back to the place where she had been injured, she was too hungry and desperate to care.

She fell asleep there, beside the spot where she had found the food, and when she woke up the first thing she saw was one of them.

A creature like the ones that had hurt her was standing there, not moving, its eyes on her. Erak, still lying on her belly, stared back dully at it. She wondered if it would kill her. She didn’t have the strength to fight back any more. But, as she watched the creature, a thought drifted vaguely through her mind.

Human, it said.

The human watched her, and made sounds. Erak rasped back at it, and made an attempt to get up – but then fell down and couldn’t move. She knew she was dying.

The human watched her for a moment longer, and then went away. But it came back a little while later, and when it did it brought the smell of food. The scent of fresh meat hit Erak’s nostrils, and she lifted her head sharply.

The human was there, holding food. Erak’s empty stomach screamed at her to eat, and she began to drag herself toward it. The human threw the food down in front of her, and then ran away. Erak paid no attention to it at all. She snatched up the food and gulped it down. Even eating hurt, but she didn’t care.

The human came back later, with more food. This time it didn’t put it down, but came up to her – so close she could have killed it. But all she cared about then was the food. She snatched it, and while she was eating the human went behind her. She didn’t notice at first – but then a screaming pain in her haunch made her screech and jerk around to try and attack. She was too slow – the human ran out of her reach. But when she saw it again, it was holding a branch – the same one that had been stuck in her. It dropped the branch and went away.

Erak stayed where she was for several days after that – she was too weak to leave, and anyway, there was food here. And every day, it came. The human brought her food, good food, and never tried to hurt her. Sometimes other humans came to look at her, but none of them hurt her either, and the first one fed her the way her mother had.

Little by little, Erak began to recover. And as she did she began to lose her distrust of the human. She let it come close to her, and soon began to take food from its paws without the fear that it would attack her. The human never seemed to want anything at all. Except sometimes it would try and touch her, which Erak didn’t like.

But over time, as she healed enough to walk, she started to follow the human around. She wasn’t afraid any more, and she wanted to see where the human went and what it was like among the square rocks with the holes where the humans  went in and out. The other humans stayed away from her, and she ignored them, limping along after the one that fed her and exploring her surroundings. The other humans didn’t attack her – in fact, they were afraid of her. She could smell it. But she left them alone; she had learned that it was better not to make them angry.

She poked her head into the holes in the rocks to see what was inside, taking in a thousand new scents and sights. The things the humans did were strange and fascinating. And, she found, the prey she had tried to hunt before was still there. The humans kept a herd of animals in among the rocks which she had now realised were their nests. She watched them feed the beasts, and chase them out onto the fields every day. The smell of them was maddening, and the first time she saw them she instinctively began to stalk them – but then her lame leg folded under her and she fell sideways like a newly hatched chick. She was still too weak to fly.

When that happened, and before she fell over, she saw the humans tensing and starting to pick up the sharp branches that had nearly killed her. She retreated as soon as she was on her paws, and after that she never went near the animals again. It was too dangerous. But anyway, she didn’t need to hunt now – she had the human bringing her meat until she was ready to leave.

Eventually the day came when she felt strong enough to fly again. Her wounds had healed, though she still walked with a limp in her back leg. She went to find the human in its nest, and tapped the nest with her beak until the human emerged. It gave her more food, and once she had eaten it she turned away and walked off into the fields where the prey were grazing. There, ignoring the humans trying to chase her away from their food, she took to the air and flew away.


Months passed, and Erak tried to go back to her life – the life that had been interrupted when the humans hurt her. She flew on over their territory and into the lands beyond, searching for a territory. But all she found were more fields full of the prey she could not touch, and more human nests – more and more of them, on and on, seemingly forever. She flew for days, growing hungrier and hungrier, until she finally put caution aside and tried to steal the humans’ prey again. But the humans were ready for her, and they drove her away with their sharp branches. She managed to escape without being wounded again, but only just.

Afterwards she found a quiet place to rest, and lay down there to groom her wings and think. It was hard to think, though – her insides burned with hunger, and her outside ached with tiredness. She needed a place where she could eat and sleep and be safe, but there was only one place she knew where she could do that.

So, without thinking any further than that, she finished her grooming and flew back to where her human would be waiting.


Erak returned to the human place, and this time she never left. Her human was there with food, and now other humans had begun to bring food for her as well. She relaxed more and more around them, and life began to fall into a pattern. If she stayed and did not attack or try to hunt their prey, they would give her food and not attack her in return.

Little by little, the first human won her trust until she would let it touch her. And when it did she found she didn’t mind it so much. The human would rub her under the beak where it felt good, and make soft sounds that reminded her of her mother’s purring when she was small. Then, when winter came and she had nowhere to shelter, the human gave her a place to sleep – in a nest like the ones the humans lived in, but bigger and filled with straw, with water to drink and food every day.

Once she had begun letting the human touch her, she discovered she could make it do other things for her: if she held out her paw, it could clean her talons for her. It would pick the parasites out of her fur and feathers as well, and clean up her dung so she didn’t have to leave her nest to relieve herself. And all it seemed to want in return was the right to be close to her.

That was when it all began to make sense to her. This human belonged to her. It was her servant, there to give her what she wanted. She could use it for her own benefit, and it gave her an easy, comfortable life without danger, hunger, or cold.

Erak only left once after she realised that, and it was when Spring came and she began to feel the urge to find a mate. She flew away from the humans and went back to the mountains, hoping to find a male.

The mountains looked strange to her after so long, but she went in among them and found a place to perch at the top of a massive old tree. There, following her instincts, she held her head up and sent out a mating screech. Every female’s call sounded a little different, but the meaning was always the same: it was meant to summon males.

Normally several male griffins would have come in answer to Erak’s calling, and fought each other for the right to mate with her. But it took a long time for it to be heard, and when it was only one male came looking for her. After several days of roaming the mountains and calling for a mate, she heard an answering screech and saw another griffin coming.

She knew from the sound that it was a male, and she flew up to meet him. He let her come to him, and once they were close enough she turned and suddenly flew away. He followed, and the two of them flew the mating flight, darting and circling and chasing each other. The male had to prove that he could fly with the same speed and agility as her, but he managed it without much trouble – Erak’s injuries had healed, but she would never be as strong as she had been before.

She landed on a plateau, and as the male landed nearby she crouched and lifted her tail, showing him she was ready to let him mount her.

They mated, quickly and violently, and afterwards Erak snarled and attacked the male, driving him away. But she let him come back a short time later, and the two of them coupled several times, resting in between. Neither of them had said a word.

Later on, though, when the sun had begun to set and they were both tired, they lay down and groomed each other.

‘What is your name?’ the male asked.

‘Erak,’ she said. ‘What griffin are you?’

‘I am Kra,’ he said. He nibbled at the feathers on the base of her neck. ‘Your scent is strange,’ he said. ‘Where is your territory?’

‘My territory is with the humans,’ said Erak.

Kra tensed. ‘Humans? How can your territory be with them?’

‘I live with humans,’ Erak explained without any embarrassment. ‘They feed me and give me a warm nest.’

‘Humans do these things?’ said Kra. He sounded utterly confused. ‘But they are  bad and dangerous.’

‘No, they are not dangerous,’ said Erak. ‘They are good for a griffin. A griffin that lives with them never needs to hunt or build a nest. My human grooms me and gives me good meat and water.’

‘Are you so weak you cannot hunt?’ said Kra.

‘I can hunt!’ Erak snapped back. ‘But I am strong – stronger than you because I am clever. I have found a way to live where I may eat and sleep all I choose. I have humans to serve me. And when my chicks are hatched, they will live with humans as well.’

Kra went silent for a while. ‘I did not know humans could be used this way,’ he said slowly.

‘They can, and you can have them serve you as well if you choose,’ said Erak. ‘Go to them. But be careful – do not attack them, and do not hunt the prey they keep. Go to them as if…’ she hesitated. ‘Go to their territory as if they were another griffin. Placate them as if they were dominant, and then…’

Kra snorted. ‘Submit to humans? They are weak and tiny!’

‘Not weak,’ said Erak. ‘They can kill a griffin. Humans have magic – powerful magic, that can make the branches of trees fly and kill for them.’

‘I do not believe you,’ said Kra. ‘And I would not lower my head to them for all the good meat in the world.’

‘Then stay in the mountains here and starve,’ said Erak. ‘I do not care. But tomorrow I will go home to my human, and lay my eggs there.’

‘What a pathetic female I have mated with,’ Kra muttered. ‘A cripple who submits to humans.’

‘I do not submit,’ said Erak. ‘I own them. They think they dominate me, but I dominate them. They serve me. It is all a trick.’

But Kra did not understand, and Erak did not try and persuade him. His decisions were his to make; now she had mated with him she didn’t need him any more, and tomorrow she would go home and make a nest ready to lay the eggs he had given her. She purred contentedly to herself at the thought of it – her chicks, growing up in her warm nest, given the best food so they would grow large and strong and make their mother proud. And when they were ready to leave, they would live comfortable, easy lives like hers. But she would always be the first. The first griffin to discover how useful humans could be, and what perfect inferiors they made.


Morning came, and the two griffins parted ways without speaking to each other again. Kra flew away back into his territory in the mountains, and Erak went back toward her home, very hungry now and ready to settle back into her nest. She would need to eat plenty to lay her eggs and incubate them, but unlike other mothers she wouldn’t have to go hungry while she was in the nest. Her human would see to that.

But when she came in sight of the human place, she saw almost immediately that something was wrong.

She could see the humans around their nests, but now there were too many of them, and the way they moved had changed. They were running now, darting around like panicked deer. Faint cries drifted up to her – aggressive sounds, and the sounds of fear.

Erak circled uncertainly over the human place, trying to see what was happening. But it only took her a moment to understand. She saw humans she didn’t recognise, and they had the sharpened branches with them, some of them shiny like the moon. She had seen shiny things like that before, and she knew they were for killing. But now they were being used to kill humans. She saw humans she knew dying, attacked by the strangers, and the realisation flashed across her in an instant. This was an invasion – strange humans come to steal her territory and kill the humans that served her. It was no different from one griffin taking another’s hunting ground.

Erak snarled and flexed her talons. Ignoring any danger, she swooped down on the enemy humans closest to her. They were too preoccupied with their own attack to see her until it was too late, and this time the advantage was hers. Her outstretched talons hit three humans in the heads and shoulders, killing two of them instantly and wounding the third one so badly it only managed to stagger a few steps before it fell too.

Erak did not waste time over the corpses. She charged in among the rest of them, screeching a battle-cry, beak wide open. She lashed out with her talons and ripped into the enemy with her beak, and though some of them attacked her with their strange branches they quickly fell back in fright. Around her, the humans that served her came rushing in to fight, keeping away from her but attacking as she did.

The fight didn’t last long. The attackers turned and ran away rather than face Erak, and she chased after them, following her hunting instinct again at last and running them down. It made her feel more alive than she had in a long time.

She went back to her nest breathing hard, her coat spotted with blood and her talons caked with meat and hide. Her own special human was waiting for her – the only one she would let touch her. It came to her, making the sounds she recognised as friendly ones. Maybe, she had thought before, humans could even talk.

Feeling calmer now, she let the human clean the blood and gore out of her talons, and stroke her head. Afterwards it brought her food, but then others did as well. Most of the humans from her territory came together, all excited, to bring her good food. Very strangely, though, some of them also brought flowers, which they threw down in front of her. She wondered if it was some other kind of magic they knew.

Later on, when she had eaten and was resting, her human came and used its magic on her wounds so they would heal.  After that she went to sleep in her nest, contented now that her territory was safe again – but thinking that she should be careful from now on. If any human, or another griffin, invaded her land again, she would be ready to fight. She had found a good life here, and nothing would take it away from her.


Things were peaceful after that, and no more attacks came. But strange humans did come into Erak’s territory. They didn’t come to fight, though. In fact, all they seemed to want to do was see her and her personal human. Some of them even brought things for it, or for her.

Visits like them increased during that Spring, as her pregnancy advanced. When the humans realised she was carrying eggs they were very excited, and more gifts came for her. Not just food, but other things – pretty shells, flowers, and other things she didn’t recognise or understand. But now her human began to look different as well. She saw the colours of its coat change, growing brighter and the patterns more complex. Other humans went to hers and made signs of submission, and then they used their magic on its nest, making it bigger and finer.

The human found a mate as well, not long after Erak laid her eggs.

Now, during the tedious months of incubation, she had plenty of time to think about what all this meant. But the answers were obvious. The human she owned had become powerful and respected because of her. And that showed how important and powerful she was, if she could do this. There wasn’t just food and shelter here; there was respect. And owning this human was what had brought her that respect, and that power.

That was when Erak saw what she must do. She must keep this human of hers, keep it close and keep it safe. She must never let herself lose this creature who was so useful to her. Last time she had left it, enemies had come and the human could have died – and what would she do if that happened? No… next time she left this place, she thought, she would take the human with her. And when her chicks were hatched, she would tell them about the things that had happened to her, and the lessons she had learned.

The chicks came after the normal three months of incubation. There were three of them, all large and healthy, and many of the humans came to see them. But Erak warned them away, hissing and showing her talons. She would only let one human into her nest, and that was the one she owned, its belly swollen with what she supposed must be eggs of its own. Was her human female, then? She supposed it must be.

The human kept her distance and watched the chicks cuddled up against their mother’s flank. Erak nudged them with her beak and looked proudly up at her human. ‘See,’ she said. ‘I have three chicks, and they are strong and good. They will grow up here, and your chicks will see them.’

The human watched and made sounds as well. Once again, Erak wondered if it – she – could talk. Were those sounds speech? The humans did seem to communicate with each other. Well, it didn’t matter. She didn’t need to know if they talked, or what they talked about. They already knew what she wanted, and as long as they brought it to her that was enough.

For now she settled into the task of raising her chicks, which was not hard; her human brought food for her to give them, and it cleaned up the mess they made as well. They grew quickly, and none of them died the way her siblings had died. And as they grew she talked to them, telling them everything she knew. Before long they had begun to speak, and they asked endless questions – and some of the first questions they asked were about humans. They had grown up seeing them every day – as they grew older and less vulnerable, Erak let more than her own human come in and see her young. The chicks saw them come and go, and they started to ask where they went.

‘What are they? Where do they come from? Where do they go?’

‘They are humans,’ Erak explained. ‘This territory was theirs, but they have given it to me, and now they serve us. The human that brings food belongs to me; I keep it as my servant.’

‘Can I have a human as well?’ the biggest chick asked.

‘Yes, you can,’ said Erak. ‘When you leave the nest, find a human for yourself. Stay with it, and it will feed you and make a nest for you to sleep in. Keep that human safe; fight to protect it when enemies come. Your human is your territory.’

The chicks listened solemnly.

‘I will have the best human!’ the biggest one bragged. ‘I am the strongest, so I must have the best!’

‘Mine will be more powerful than yours,’ his sister said. ‘Humans have magic.’

‘They do,’ said Erak. ‘Strong magic. They can make things like this nest, and have food without hunting for it. They can do things no griffin can do.’

It was enough to make the chicks even more fascinated by the strange creatures they grew up alongside, and now, when humans came to see them, the chicks would go to them and let themselves be touched. A few humans, growing bold, would pick them up and carry them around, and try to groom them with their front paws. Erak, seeing her chicks were safe, let them do it. The humans would not hurt her young, and anyway, she was beginning to lose interest in them.

The biggest chick was the first to leave. He wasn’t old enough to fly yet, but he didn’t seem to care. He gave himself the name of Rark, and one day he followed a human he particularly liked out of the nest, and rarely came back afterward. When he did return, he told his mother and siblings that he lived in the human’s nest now. The other two, seeing him proudly trotting along beside the human he now owned, were quick to choose humans of their own and leave their mother for good.

Erak watched them go, and knew she had done well for them.

After that she was free to leave the nest herself, and go back out into the open air. Her human was waiting for her, and they went through Erak’s territory together. But it had changed now, she saw. It looked bigger, and there were more prey wandering around. She saw her three chicks play-fighting while their humans looked on. But now there seemed to be more humans here than had been there before – humans she did not recognise. But humans who looked at her human with respect, dipping their heads to her to show their inferiority to her.

When Erak saw that, she knew she should not be angry or afraid. All was well.


The years went by, and Erak watched how her territory changed.

It grew larger and larger as more humans came and built new nests. More humans, more prey, more land for the prey to graze. Erak’s chicks became adults and lived with their humans in the nests made for them. And she watched as they did something she had never considered: they let their humans sit on their backs so they could fly with them. Soon Erak began to do it herself, and found it wasn’t so hard. The only time she left her human behind was when she returned to the mountains at mating time every year. And once she had mated she came back to raise her young in the same place, and those chicks left to choose humans of their own.

And her home grew. Her chicks found mates and raised chicks of their own, until the place where the humans lived was full of griffins, every one with a human. Some chose to leave, but most of them came back. Those who left and did not return often left with a human to take with them.

Gradually, Erak began to grow old. Her human grew old as well, surrounded by her own offspring and their offspring. By now her territory was huge, full of humans and griffins, rich with prey.

Other griffins began to visit, bringing their humans with them, and they told tales of other places where griffins like her had done this – claiming human lands for their own. She was old now, but she had found a new way to go; she had changed the way her kind lived.

One day, when she was resting in the sun and feeling the ache in her joints, her human came to see her. She moved slowly these days, and limped a little, like Erak.

Erak watched her idly. ‘Do you come to rest with me?’ she asked. These days she often spoke to her human, and sometime she even imagined that the human spoke back.

The human came to stand in front of her, and held out something for her to see. Erak peered at it. It looked like a scrap of hide, but it wasn’t food, or interesting, so she only glanced at it.

The human put the scrap away, and crouched on the ground. Then, while Erak watched, she began to use her magic. She picked up little pieces of wood and rock, and began to make them into something else. They made a round, tall shape with a hollow in the middle, like the trunk of a dead tree. When it was finished the human pointed proudly at it.

‘What is it for?’ Erak wondered.

The human made a gesture, holding her paw over the strange thing and then lifting it and throwing her forelegs out. She did it several times before Erak began to see what it meant.

‘That thing you have made… will grow larger?’ she said. She peered at the little thing, this tiny round nest, and wondered how that could happen. But human magic could be strong enough to make it so.

The human held its paws over the thing it had made, and said a word – a word that, by now, Erak had learned to recognise and understand.


Neato text ornament here