I figured I should discuss the Windemere ‘air forces’ since I touched on land and sea already. Pretty sure I have a bunch of people wanting me to get this whole thing over with, but I push for equality. That and these might not be very long. After all, there isn’t much up in the skies when it comes to combat and protection. The first category alone might not take much.
Now, the ‘Riders’ are warriors that use a flying mount. Griffin riders are the most common and are considered the special forces of Gaia. This puts them with the army since the soldiers have guard duties and patrols. Just so happens that they do a lot of that from among the clouds. Special gear is included with this career, which is better than the handful of other rider-types. There are some wild tribes that use rocs, wyverns, giant bats, and perytons for combat and traveling. Most of these animals are difficult because they lack the friendly nature of the griffins.
You might be wondering about Pegasus and Dragons too. Well, the first is a very rare animal that will only let certain people ride them. It seems each one has a different preference too. One Pegasus might only allow virgin girls on its back while another goes for veteran male warriors. This is determined by their nature since they are attracted by hearts and spirits that are similar to their own. Now, they might approach someone that is different, but they won’t give a ride. As for Dragons . . . anyone riding one of those has typically been chosen and is involved in a special circumstance. A dragon has to REALLY like you or consider you an equal or superior. This is in regards to constant riding because they will help with a ride if asked politely. (Note: I only mean Nature Dragons. Weapon Dragons will eat you no matter how nicely you ask for a ride.)
There will be griffin riders getting involved in events, but only if Gaia is part of the story. A downside to these types of characters is that they’re on territorial beasts. Very few riding animals wander outside of their comfort zone, which can be a city or a specific mountain range. You need to give them a reason and they don’t care about adventure like their two-legged counterparts. Perhaps the easiest way to have a flying mount that will travel with you is to raise one from birth and not let it interact with others of its species. This will make it think you’re it’s family and negate some of the learned instincts. It’s also a horrible thing to do to an animal. If the baby was orphaned and you can’t find others then okay, but never do this for your own purposes.
A final tidbit on the flying forces. Many tend to be at a disadvantage when it comes to navies. They can handle armies, but once a battle goes out to sea, most winged animals tend to get nervous. As mentioned in The Compass Key, griffins have learned that they can get tangled in the rigging of a ship. The ropes can then break and they’ll fall into the water where they drown. Wet wings also make it difficult to get back in the air, which leaves them vulnerable to sharks, the tide, and enemy fire. This is why they try to stay away from even a docked ship, which means the rider has to be able to fight from afar if the battle goes away from the shore.