Manticores are the real source of all the myths about Hippogryphs, Sphinxes and Chimeras heard in this realm. There are two major types: Northern Manticores (pictured), which have the head of a lion and the body of a Gryphon, and Southern Manticores, which have the body of a lion and the head of a Gryphon. Exactly how this grotesque creature came into existence is not something that I wish to consider.
Although the attributes of each type are quite different, they are both powerfully built, stronger than either a lion or a Gryphon. In both types, males alone bear horns, though that is more or less the limit of their commonalities in terms of appearance. Below, I will describe each type’s abilities separately before describing their behaviour, which is similar.
Northern Manticores are winged, unlike their Southern cousins. They use their wings quite intelligently – more than one adventurer has reported them beating their wings to throw up a dust cloud to blind their foes. However, they seldom use their wings to fly, preferring to remain on solid ground whenever possible.
Adventurers have reported that a Manticore that is forced into
flight shows an obvious lack of coordination. I have found out through my studies that this is a result of hereditary vertigo common among this species, along with poor eyesight. While these may look like overt handicaps, it is also useful to remember that their long tails have sharp, poisonous spines.
Southern Manticores have the body of a lion and therefore no wings. They are the more aggressive of the two types, and though
they lack a poisonous tail, their powerful, Gryphon-like beaks can tear through flesh and their claws are razor-sharp. They are also capable of breathing fire in small amounts – nothing on the scale
of a Dragon but enough to set a field of crops alight in dry weather or cause severe burns to any adventurer that challenges them. Unlike their Northern cousins, they have extremely good eyesight but poor hearing.
Both Nothern and Southern Manticores live in caves a short distance off the ground. They avoid the mountain ranges (presumably because they would be easy prey for a Dragon) and are often found in seaside caves. The caves they choose to inhabit are low enough for them to jump up into but, since the average Manticore can jump over ten times the height of the average adventurer, these caves are not always easy to find in cliff sides.
Manticores are highly intelligent creatures that prefer to eat children. They hunt during the day or at night and will always choose the weakest target available.
More than one adventurer has spoken of being offered a chance to escape with their life if they correctly answered a riddle (for example: “What grows when it eats but dies when it drinks?” “Fire.” or: “What walks on four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon and three in the evening?” “Man.”). It has also been discovered that some Manticores like to be sung to and doing so will abate their aggression. One group of three adventurers even claims that Northern Manticores seem partial to bawdier songs!