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Warhammer - The Old World - Lexicanum β

A Preyton bellowing[2b]
They are not natural beasts... Seek them not, save duty or honour compels

~ Sir Carloman, Bretonnian Knight.[1b]

Preytons are large, predatory, hateful creatures that roam the woodlands of Bretonnia, especially the Forest of Arden.[1b][2b]

Characteristics and Appearance

Twisted beasts, Preytons are, like Chimeras, hybrid in form, as if the back half of a lion were mated to something similar to the front of a stag. From their clawed, membranous forelegs raptor-esque wings sprout, which allows them flight in a similar fashion to a Wyvern, though as they prefer to stalk beneath the trees they rarely do so. Their heads somewhat resemble a horse or stag, and are surmounted by the great, sharp, blackened antlers of the latter. Over the whole animal a torn, furred hide stretches, often sloughing away only to be replaced by scales or ragged feathers. Glaring red eyes and mouths filled with multiple rows of jagged fangs further mark these creatures as deeply unnatural.[1b][2b]

 
Depiction of a Preyton[1b]

At a distance, and with sufficient woodland cover, it is possible for a Preyton to obscure much of its warped frame from view, while its head and neck allow the monster to portray itself as a mythical Great Stag so as to lure closer unwary hunters. In this way their pursuers are led deeper into the forests before the Preyton turns to savage its foes.[2b] They are capable of this because by far their most infamous traits, even moreso than their vile appearance, are the monster’s dark cunning, savage temper, and legendary malice.[1b][2b]

They befoul and trample the forest around them, reminiscent of herds of Razorgor, though the Preyton’s actions are driven by pure hatred rather than hunger. Entering such a weald is foolish, as the Preyton kills for sport. They will invariably hunt trespassers down and slay them, only to maul their bodies beyond recognition before leaving them to rot, frequently entirely uneaten.[2b] It is said that Preytons hate all life, including their own, and seek to inflict as much suffering as possible. In battle it is not unheard of for them to ignore the blows of a knight in order to unspeakably ravage a fallen peasant, relishing the opportunity to bring ghastly harm.[1b]

Origins and Nature

 
Ranges of Preytons, Hippogryphs, and Griffons[2a]

Uncertainty clouds much of the study of Preytons, particularly around the debate over their origins, and attempts to learn more are treated by knights and peasants alike as dangerous jokes or suicidal madness.[1b] Similarly chimeric creatures, including the Griffon and the Hippogryph, share parts of their ranges,[2a] and may thus also share parts of their origins, but without facts at hand, guesswork educated by myths dominate the conversation, tempered by stray personal experiences.[1b]

It is well known that Great Stags, whether they are only majestic beasts or forest guardians beloved of Taal and Kurnous, have a bitter hatred of the Beastmen, harrying them whenever they can, and some stories say that the Great Stags grow sharp teeth as weapons once their antlers are shed for the season.[1a] A dark legend has it that the mutilated, stag-headed Beastmen of the Forest of Arden created Preytons long ago from those noble creatures, dragging them before sacrifice-strewn Herdstones for Bray-Shamans to work horrific, corrupting rituals upon them.[1b][2b] The fact that the dwelling place of Morghur lies near the Forest of Arden[5] may lend credence to the idea, and it is rumored that whole tribes of Beastmen worship Preytons from afar.[1b]

In some retellings the first Great Stags to be corrupted were only corpses,[1b] while in others the beasts were alive.[2b] Whether they are living or Undead, or even if they are natural animals, direct products of Chaos, or something in between is all debated. What is not is their all-encompassing hatred and destructive madness.[1b][1c][2b]

 
Killing a Preyton[2c]

Uses

Despite - and in some cases, because of - their terrible reputation for ferocity, Preyton are hunted for a variety of reasons. Large sums of money can be earned through the sale of the creature’s body parts, particularly its serrated antlers and its foul bile and blood. The former can be fashioned into sword hilts reputed to ensure a blade’s sharpness,[1c] and the latter are key components in potions and unguents intended to drive someone to frenzy, drawing upon the incandescent rage in the fluids.[1b][1d]

Others seek out the beasts themselves. Wizards and those generally skilled in the manipulation of Ghyran pursue them with the hopes of binding one to their will, primarily through the use of scrolls in the manner of ancient Kadon. Mere sightings of a Preyton will also draw knights from many miles around, all seeking to prove their valor by slaying the debased creature. Preytons are so infamous for this that despite their horrid nature some knights request to include them in their heraldry, with at least two such occurrences recorded by 1538 IC.[2b][4]

Miniatures

Notes

The Preyton is likely heavily inspired by the concept of bird-winged stags from historical European mythology, that concept in turn having been distilled into the "Pery"ton in 1957’s Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges. They also resemble the Fiend, Chort, and Leshen monsters of the Witcher series.

Sources

Creatures
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