When I was eight, I was minding my own business, pushing my Pikachu plush on the swing at my grandparents, when all of a sudden I heard a snort far too close for comfort. I looked up and found a large buck looming ominously over me. I screamed and ran.
Looking back, I think it was actually just a doe with no malicious intentions, but it was still enough to convince me that deer were sneaky creatures, not to be trusted.
It wasn’t until years later that I learned about perytons when I got free sample Weird N’Wild Creature cards in the mail.
Perytons are winged deer from Greek/Roman mythology that are impervious to being hurt. They are described as having sharp teeth which they use to rip apart their victims.
According to Greek legend, perytons once inhabited Atlantis and are the souls that managed to escape when the city was destroyed. It is claimed that perytons’ human origins can be seen in their shadows, since even though the creature has the body of a deer, the shadow cast is that of a human.
The myth continues that perytons are restless and become vicious because they are unable to find their way home. Another version says that perytons are the souls of people who lost favor with the Atlantian gods and that they must kill a person in order to regain it. Either way, it is said perytons are only able to kill one human in their lifetime. Once they do, their shadow finally mirrors their body and they lose their invulnerability.
In my novel, perytons are going to be a common mount for the Fey. Their invulnerability will make them ideal for battle and their wings will allow them to maneuver better than horses.
My design for them is going to stick fairly close to the original. They will have the body of a red deer and large wings. There seems to be some debate on what color perytons are—during my research I’ve read an account for basically every color—but the most common one seems to be blue. Just to add some variety, I’m going to expand their color range to be minty blue-green to dark violet. Their feathers and wings will always be the same color—there will never be a peryton with, say, a light blue body and then dark purple wings.
There also seem to be some conflicting ideas on the hoof-to-talon ratio. I’ve seen perytons with all feet being hooves, with two hooves in the front and talons in the back, and then there are a couple where perytons are bipedal like birds and just have talons.
For my novel, perytons are primarily forest-dwelling creatures and spend most of their time on the ground, and because of that they’ll only have hooves. They don’t nest in trees or do anything that would really require them to need talons in order to perch in difficult places.
What animal scared you when you were younger? Was there a specific event that caused your fear?