Conservation Status: (Caligo) Near Threatened | (Dolos) Extinct | (Nevermore) Extinct
The Windrunner Raptor are descendants of the Utahraptor that evolved after the Cretaceous. Windrunners often weigh between 800 to 1,200– similar to a horse, and stand between 18-21 feet from head to tail. They are much lighter and smaller than the Utahraptor which were considered to weigh up to 2,000 pounds, and its believed to be that the faster and smaller Windrunners survived the cut, and as generations came and went, specific genetics won. The Windrunners are much faster, but not as strong as their ancestors.
The Windrunners are capable of carrying up to 240 pounds of weight. If more weight is placed on them, they become agitated and angered. Currently, there are two kinds of Windrunners, those that dwell in the forest which tend to be solitary and severely cunning, and the desert kind which are pack creatures with an alpha that have learned to work together in order to survive the Gilded Desert.
In the Kingdom of Moros there is a group of nomadic human warriors that have tamed the Desert Windrunners and have even bonded with the creature. This group serves under House Umira, and even the Umira family have learned the secrets to taming a Windrunner.
They have large curved single claws on each of their hind feet, which are used to slash, disembowel, and even decapitate their prey. House Umira has formed a respected bond with these raptors in which they hunt alongside them and share their food. During the frigid desert nights when the wind is strongest, House Umira protects the Windrunners. After generations of connection and working together. House Umira have successfully changed how the Desert Windrunners react to humans that earn their trust. They are extremely vicious, but intelligent enough to understand what its precursors would not have been able to.
Windrunners in the wild remain primitive in terms of how they survive and how they tend to be solitary creatures, but those that have learned to become pack creatures have learned new habits, including new methods of gathering food, such as fishing. The concept of hunting together with humans as mentioned above is a learned trait led by House Umira that took many generations to achieve. It is rumored that it took almost six human generations before they achieved the first signs of connection.
Windrunners tend to have beautiful plumage and coloration that allows for blending in to their environments and also mating. The feathers tend to keep them cool and bear a iridescent gloss that depending on the habitat will shift in tone to create a almost natural camouflage. During breeding season, the colors on their feathers intensify as a way to let their mate know that they are looking.
The Desert Windrunners are less aggressive to the idea of working together, and have evolved to form bonds and even care for their sick. This sympathy has made them unique when compared to their ancestors. The eyes are either red or orange depending on their diet. Red eyes signify a greater source of meats and red pigmented plants which they use to detox, and orange means more fish or sea based diet. The plants they tend to detox with creates this coloration. A unique trait with the Windrunners is their mouth, they bear a more beak-like tip, an evolutionary trait that sets them closer to their bird counterparts. They use this beak to dig for the plants they need to detox after eating too much meat or when scavenging for bugs.
Sadly, some human and sprite settlements have begun to hunt Windrunners for food, and have formed a delicacy that involves their meat and broth. House Umira has a law that sentences anyone who eats a Windrunner to death. A unique trait of a Windrunner is the fleshy tissue at his neck, it inflates and deflates like an iguana and it’s a method of communication and even mating. It is also a reservoir for water which allows them to survive long periods without new water holes to drink from. They are not just capable of running fast, but also climbing.
The Windrunners are capable of running up to 25-30 mph with 250lbs on their back. They are strong and cunning creatures with an intelligence that compares to dolphins.
These creatures are hunters, and though the Desert and Forest Windrunners hunt in different ways, it doesn’t change their result. They tend to succeed and have been known to even put the strongest sprites into a state of unease.
I’ve loved dinosaurs since a kid when I first watched Jurassic Park, but I know that they did not make the most scientifically accurate dinos. I wanted to bring the raptors to life and enchant kids like those movies did for me, but without disrespecting the science behind how they existed and what they could have evolved to. The Windrunners are not the same raptors in our museums, they are descendants that have evolved differently. This has allowed me some creative liberties, and the ability to create some cool what if’s. A big thanks to Cha Wak for bringing this beast to life.
H.S. Crow has literary works appearing in all mediums of entertainment with a focus on fantasy, science fiction, and horror. He is an author traversing the breathtaking Caligo, a vast universe containing our dreams and nightmares. Notable books include Lunora and the Monster King, Stars of Glass, & the upcoming Drums of Fog.