Hear, gentle ladies and lords--
The Griffin school was high in the mountains, so high, they said, that sometimes the keep was wreathed in cloud by day, and sometimes by fire at night.
Sometimes the face of their god passed by, a god the Griffins would not call by name, a god they called simply, the Highest.
The people who had fallen together into this world — elves, dwarves, humans, and others — brought their gods with them, and little else.
Elves had fallen here first — the chaos magic of the world felt natural to them. Dryads, dragons — these were elder siblings. Magic flowed into the elves like air, into dryads like water, into dragons like fire.
Humans, made of clay (so the Griffins’ oldest stories told) could barely feel the magic flow. They ground it up in powders, distilled it into liquors, and trapped it inside metal and stone. It hurt the others to feel the chaos caged, and wherever humans settled, monsters gathered, drawn to the wound in the world the humans carved with their cravings and fears, their knives and their lusts.
Monsters gathered, glutted on humans, propagated faster than slow human hands could rebuff them. Elves and dryads and dragons fled to their fastnesses, fearing the hatred humans unleashed onto all they did not understand.
Elven castles crumbled, dwarven great stones toppled. Dragons flew away and shifted outside Human perception.
Humans were left alone with the monsters, until they begin to breed mages — humans for whom the dire costs of chaos were palpable, malleable, coin they knew how to trade in.
Mages sacrificed the lives of the young for the few who survived, those who survived the dreadful first deaths, to live on, faster (yet slower of heart), stronger (yet stranger), better (yet somehow, undeniably worse). Monsters to fight monsters, the mages reckoned.
The Griffins knew better. Knowing themselves, they knew mages had not made them, not really. The Highest had called them into being, mixing human clay with holy fire and sacred breath. They did not know the name of their god (not Freya, not Melitele, and certainly not the cruel Flame), but they knew their purpose.
“This country is desolate, burned with fire: monsters devour it in your presence, overthrown by monsters. The destruction of foul creatures shall be for us, and we will purge away the dross, We will learn to do well, seek justice, relieve the orphan, and fight on the victim’s behalf.”
Griffins turned the tide with their inviolable code. They fought not out of duty or because their mages cursed them into being, but because they walked in righteousness.
After the mages brought down their keep in a thunder of ice and stone, the last Griffin standing was Coën, who bore an ancient name, a name of honor. When he saved, he gave thanks; when he slew, he set up stones and poured out oil and wine as an offering.
Coën was a Witcher, a mighty hunter before his god, and this shall be his song.