“They do not move. They do not sleep. They are ever watchful. Only a fool would tempt the wrath of stone given flesh…” – Eyes From Above Adrian Winchester.
And, so we come to gargoyles. But, while the above excerpt from the wildly popular work by Adrian Winchester may have brought these creatures into the limelight, I’m afraid it is also filled with errors.
Gargoyles do, in fact, do all of the above. They eat, sleep, reproduce, and even defecate. They’re living creatures of course. Although they are magical in nature, it is important to remember they aren’t actually stone, they are not statues given life.
They just look like it.
Earth elementals show us that animated stone is entirely possible, but gargoyles have been tested a lot more since Adrian’s work. Their skin comes in a variety of stone-like colors and textures and is at least as hard. But, cut through enough of that tough layer, and you’ll find blood. Red, rich, and dark.
So, why then do so many believe gargoyles to be statues?
Likely, because that is how they behave. Gargoyles find a perch, usually on a building that fits their complexion, and they wait there. Still, and silent. They have some small skill with magic, enough to make them even harder to notice and a few defensive and offensive spells.
Once they settle in, they could make the original architect of the building absolutely certain he designed the ‘statue’ that rests where they do.
So, perhaps now you look above you and stare at those unmoving ‘statues’ and wonder if you are safe. When will they strike? After all, living creatures need to eat.
This is an issue of quite some debate.
Gargoyles are perhaps one of the most commonly encountered monsters in this entire compendium. After all, they prefer to make their homes in our cities. So, why wouldn’t we be noticing higher death rates? More half-eaten bodies lying around?
I believe I can shed some light on this.
Shortly after graduating, when I had far more spring in my step than I do now, I decided to focus my research on gargoyles. I was sure I could find some in the city I was living in at the time, and I was rather taken with a young lass, so I’ll admit to a certain desire not to go too far.
But, that’s neither here nor there.
It took some doing, and the help of a few wizards to help protect me from the spells the gargoyles used to make them all but impossible to recognize as more than a statue. But, finally, I found one.
It was perched atop the library. The very building I frequented more than my own home. My blood ran cold at that thought. But, I had a job to do.
I then studied the gargoyle from the dusty attic of the opposite building using a telescope.
I thought myself shrewd and clever, but the gargoyle met my gaze not halfway through the first hour of observation.
To my horror, it stretched its wings and flew across the street.
I tried to run, but when I turned around… it was already there.
Just because they’re immobile half the time doesn’t mean they aren’t blindingly fast when they want to be.
It stared at me, and I returned its gaze. More out of an inability to look away than any real bravery I might add.
Then, much to my surprise. It spoke.
“Why do you watch me?” it asked. Its voice was like gravel and stone, a bone-rumbling deepness that made me feel very small indeed.
“I… I want to learn about you,” I said. I managed to keep my voice relatively steady, which was no small feat when half my concentration was on keeping my knees from shaking.
It tilted its head then. A curious gesture, very human.
“You will bring me meat each day,” the gargoyle said, “then, we shall speak.”
Then, it flew off and was back on its perch once more.
I did as it asked, and it devoured whole steaks one after another before it would answer my questions.
So, yes gargoyles do eat, and they eat meat. Some eat fruits and vegetables instead, but they tend to be smaller and prefer to reside in towns with many farms. Apparently, they enjoy getting it as fresh as possible.
My new friend told me that they didn’t need to eat much or often if they didn’t move, a kind of hibernation in a way, but they remained fully aware of their surroundings.
Some were more intelligent than others, and this one had apparently picked up our language from overhearing people talking on the library steps. An impressive feat even without thinking about the fact no human could follow a conversation from so far away.
The gargoyle laughed when I asked why more people didn’t get eaten in cities. She, as I learned that was her gender, told me that they were guardians. Not unlike sphinxes in a way, but they went about it very differently.
They saw their building as their nest, and the humans there almost like pets. Anyone who threatens their nest or their ‘pets’ becomes their prey.
So, if you have a gargoyle on your building, odds are that anyone who comes seeking to do you harm will find themselves torn to pieces and eaten before they can so much as knock on your door.
Exxivast, for this was the gargoyles name, told me that having a large building and keeping the ‘pets’ safe is a matter of pride and status for gargoyles.
This doesn’t mean to say that gargoyles are good or evil though. They merely are. Remember, this applies to what they determine to be a threat, and they could just as easily guard a place of evil as a place of good.
After one of our enlightening conversations, I looked into some records and found that tax collectors had a habit of vanishing along their routes. And, they disappeared before checking on buildings that had gargoyles on them.
I asked Exxivast about this, and she told me they can sense the intent of creatures. So, they see the intent of a tax collector as a threat to their nest and take action.
Gargoyles will also go after non-human threats. Attacking demons, elementals, rats… anything really.
So, what advice do I have for any who might encounter a gargoyle?
I’d think it would be rather simple.
Don’t threaten their nests or the people inside them. And, if you have a gargoyle on your building, be glad. You are quite safe.
A gargoyle attacking their nest or the ones inside it would be like a man ripping apart his home with his bare hands. It doesn’t happen often.
All this being said though, gargoyles will rarely intervene in matters between their ‘pets.’
There are a few tales of gargoyles doing so, but this is often only the case when they have come to see a ‘pet’ as a friend. As in the case of the young girl whose abusive father was eaten by a gargoyle. Before the event, she used to bring the gargoyle snacks and speak with it often.
It can also happen when one individual is causing great harm to their fellow ‘pets.’ Hence why slavery rings abhor and fear gargoyles. More than a few gargoyles have perched on a slaver’s building only to see the ‘slaves’ as pets too… and then become discontent with their treatment.
So, really, treat anyone in a building with a gargoyle well. Even if you don’t like them.
Now, after my lecture on this topic, a number of my students asked how to go about attracting a gargoyle onto their family estates.
Now, if your building is large that’s already half the battle won. Then, you just need to make sure they have ample ‘pets’ in the building. As some gargoyles can read, you may also want to put up a sign welcoming and inviting them to roost on your home.
Once they’re there, you can be assured they won’t be leaving though so make sure you really do want a gargoyle there before you go about attracting one.
Oh, and you can also make additional perch points with decoration as this will help them attract a mate. They’ll really love you for that.
If you’ve tried that and it doesn’t help, it’s time to contact a wizard. Unsurprisingly, wizards love to summon gargoyles to guard their buildings.
- Nicholas Wolfram, Professor of Monsterology at Lestria University