Journal Entry: Harpies

Permalink

A traveler to the shores of Vesteria, the continent West of the Homelands, would come across many strange and beautiful creatures. Even among this bizarre menagerie of beasts the harpy stands out due to its startling and disturbing appearance.

At first glance the harpy appears to be a large bird of prey. They are forest creatures but are most commonly seen soaring through the air off in the distance with their lengthy feathered wings extended. Since harpies rarely allow humans to get closer than this, unless they are hunting them, this confusion is understandable.

Like a bird they also have a sleek grey and white feathered body, and two rear legs that end in curved talons. Adults range in size anywhere from four to four and a half feet in height, but they can appear larger when their wings are extended.

Closer inspection however will quickly reveal features that exclude the beasts from the bird family. Most obviously the harpy has no beak, but possesses a toothy maw instead. It also has two large fore claws that extend forth from its wings. These claws are used for both climbing, and defending itself.

Together along with the hair like black crest on their heads these traits give the harpy an unsettlingly humanlike appearance. The bodies of harpies have a graceful feminine shape, and when calm their faces are intelligent and even beautiful. However, when they grow excited or angry they open their mouths and their visages grow vicious and wrinkled. The transformation can be startling.

These features place the winged raptors firmly among the ancient family of saurians. As the reader is undoubtedly aware the other notable member of this family that survives in Vesteria is the great drake. The resemblance may not be immediately apparent but like harpies drakes possess feathers, scaly skin, two sets of claws, and a mouth full of teeth.

Harpies are social creatures capable of a wide range of vocal communication. They are even able to mimic other animals or human voices, an ability they use to taunt prey and lure it closer. Mainly however they communicate amongst themselves using shrill bird like cries.

Flocks of harpies gather together and create large communal nests on cliffs or above the forest canopy in particularly tall trees. These structures are constructed using mud, dried plants, and branches. Usually, these communal nests are a collection of muddy domed spheres. This provides the flock with warm shelter and protects their young from predators, other harpies, and the harsh winters of northern Vesteria.

Most of a flock’s nourishment comes from small animals such as rabbits and earth dogs, but they will also hunt larger prey. Frequently, these winged beasts hunt in loose flights of three to six members. They will split up and fly through the canopy looking for suitable targets. When one of the flight finds something it will signal its partners using innocent sounding noises that won’t alert its prey.

They will then silently converge on the target and use their cries and mimicry to lure their prey into a disadvantaged position or to isolate it from the rest of its herd. Once they are reasonably sure of success the winged beasts will descend on their prey and tear it apart. Harpies will then carry chunks of their meal up to high branches where they are safe from other predators. This often results in grisly scenes where blood is splattered across and below the nearby trees.

The ability of harpies to mimic human speech, their social nature, and their somewhat humanlike appearance has caused some to speculate that they are intelligent creatures on the same level as man. This is not true in the least. Captured specimens portray no more intelligence than a dog, and are also completely untamable. They will play along for awhile but always flee from their human trainers at the first chance they get.

Peasants and rural nobility have been known to shoot the creatures on sight. This is due to the fact they have been known to attack children or livestock that wander too close to the woods. Being cunning creatures harpies now rarely let men or women get within bowshot if they see the person is armed.

Folklore is filled of tales of harpies luring men to their death through beautiful singing. These tales are unlikely to be true though as such complex and detailed mimicry has never been observed. At most harpies have been noted to repeat a single short sentence. Still, it is a fanciful notion with a disquieting kernel of truth at its core.

Another common myth is that all harpies are female, and reproduce with human men. This is obviously false. Male harpies are simply very feminine looking and hard to distinguish from the females.

Truly, the harpy is a creature of unsettling contradictions. It seemingly blends the features of men and bird together but is actually neither. It is intelligent and beautiful, yet also violent, savage, and forever untamable.

-Farstidiuous Der Lanmount, Royal Gervaien Surveyor.



Buy A Bloody Road

Book 3 is Out!

The third novel in The Iron Teeth series is now out on Amazon. Please support the author and help promote the book by purchasing and reviewing A Bloody Road. Every review and purchase helps a lot!

18 Comments
  • ClearMadness
    February 5, 2016

    Same deal as last time. If you want more info on the topic just ask. You can also suggest topics for the next journal entry.

  • NS
    February 5, 2016

    so can harpies evolve too?
    or i guess what i’m asking is are there other species like goblins that can evolve (or whatever it is that gobs to to become hobs) or is it only gobs?

    • ClearMadness
      February 5, 2016

      No, harpies can’t metamorphosis like goblins. That’s a unique goblin trait. All animals in this universe can however mutate if exposed to crystals. This makes them stronger and usually grants them some sort of magical ability.

      • jeray2000
        February 5, 2016

        Does the theory of evolution apply in this universe? Do random, natural mutations unrelated to crystals exist? And is there actually something that makes birds different from dinosaurs, beyond just teeth, in this universe, or is it just old timey scientists who are classifying without knowledge of how complicated their system will make future learning?

        • ClearMadness
          February 5, 2016

          Evolution and natural mutation both exist. The answer to your second question is both.

  • Anonymous
    February 6, 2016

    What is the connection between trolls and goblins? Are trolls a orther evolution?

    • ClearMadness
      February 6, 2016

      Trolls are simply a related species, like wild cats and lions. Hobgoblins don’t become trolls. That doesn’t mean hobgoblins can’t grow and become
      stronger though…

      • Anonymous
        February 6, 2016

        I love the amount of well thought out detail you put in the monsters in your world.
        Is there any tasty trivia you can tell me about slimes? Are they as cute as DQ slimes? Possible pets?

        • ClearMadness
          February 6, 2016

          They don’t have faces so I guess they’re not as cute as in DQ. Also, they’re not intelligent enough to be tamable unfortunately.

      • karlwdt
        February 6, 2016

        Can Goblin evolve to something beyond Hobgoblins or is that the last tier?

        • ClearMadness
          February 6, 2016

          That’s a secret.

        • Warren peace
          March 13, 2017

          I don’t think it’s too pedantic to point out that goblins METAMORPHOSE into hobgoblins. They DO NOT “evolve” into hobgoblins, that’s a misnomer which indicates you are part of the Pokemon generation.

          Evolution is a long and slow process that takes millennia for major changes to appear.

  • Ng01
    February 8, 2016

    Would you be willing to do an entry on slimes, or is it too early in the story to request that?

    • ClearMadness
      February 8, 2016

      That would be fine. +1 vote for slimes.

  • b0
    March 21, 2016

    How accurate is Mr. Der Lanmount? I’m curious how much character you are giving him. For example, his statement that the harpies and goblins are animals and not intelligent. Is it true or is he biased?

    Note I haven’t read the main story yet, just these two journal entries. The answer might be obvious once I start. Definitely diving in, after the quality of this writing/world building!

    • ClearMadness
      March 21, 2016

      He’s more than a little bias, although most the things he says are factual. It becomes pretty obvious that goblins are much smarter than animals as soon as you start reading the main story.

  • Warren peace
    March 13, 2017

    “Even among this bizarre menagerie of beasts”… What a great line! These journal entries are very well written! I don’t have a request for a specific entry , so can I just vote for more on any topic from my good friend Fas? You know, Der Lanmount, Royal Gervaien Surveyor!

  • Anonymous
    August 9, 2018

    I really like everything youve written whether ive read it or not.
    But two things.
    First, a more detailed look into Elixir for the journal perhaps?
    Second, where can i find the artist for your book covers?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.