I am in the midst of creating a fantasy subrace of winged elves. The history of the race in brief is that during a great war with the dragons, one elf riding a gryphon was struk down by a dragon. As she lay bleeding, her blood and the blood of her gryphon mixed. When that happened, the elves believed that the Gods blessed her, as she sprouted giant wings and slew the dragon.

She was the first winged elf, and all winged elves trace their roots to her. In honour of the slain gryphon, the elves started to raise their young ones with newlyborn gryphons/hyppogriffs etc. They are brought up together as brothers and they learn from each other. It is easy to see what the elf can learn from the beast (how to hunt, fly etc..), but can I have your thoughts on what the beast can learn from the elf?

Edit: imagine the beasts to be a cross between an eagle and a lion. Proud hunters. The beasts have been brought up near the elven settlements since birth. While they are not domesticated per se, they regard the elven people as they are kin

they are highly intelligent beasts. In their own way, they are capable of recognising events, drawing their own conclusions and acting in the best interest of the community (altruist). However, they do not use complex tools (their anatomy does not allow it). They are massive lumbering creatures on which humanoids can ride upon. But that never happens, as having someone ride you is considered slavery to that person by the beasts. They can not speak, but can understand in a very rudimentary way the intent of the conversation

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    $\begingroup$ How intelligent are the beasts? And how domesticated? Give us some Earth species to compare against, please. $\endgroup$ – SRM - Reinstate Monica Jan 9 '17 at 15:24
  • $\begingroup$ @SRM edited my post.. Is that what you were looking for? $\endgroup$ – Rover Eye Jan 9 '17 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ To elaborate on SRM's question - what would they be capable of learning? Simple commands like a dog, or would they be intelligent enough to use contraptions/tools (e.g., such as magpies or apes). Would they be able to draw simple or elaborate conclusions? Several animals are fairly intelligent and can do pretty advanced things in steps on their own, others can learn to do simple things and see when it should be implemented, yet more others can only do advanced stuff when told to do so. $\endgroup$ – Mrkvička Jan 9 '17 at 15:45
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    $\begingroup$ I assume that sit, stay, come, roll over, beg, play dead, fetch the stick, and so on, are not what you are looking for? $\endgroup$ – cobaltduck Jan 9 '17 at 15:59
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    $\begingroup$ "Highly intelligent beasts" and "altruistic" are contradicted by "having someone ride you is considered slavery" political correctness. Unless there's some backstory that justifies refusal to voluntarily choose to allow riding when it's helpful. I'd make it an uncommon honour; not a prohibition with any "slavery" connotations. $\endgroup$ – James Olson Jan 9 '17 at 17:08

This is less about learning and more about training. They would learn:

  • Humanoids are not food. Or at the very least, their elves aren't.
  • Elves are different than gryphons and they can't play with them the same way they play with other gryphons.
  • How to follow specific commands from their elves?

What they can learn is tied directly to how intelligent they are. The equality of the situation--that the gryphons see them as equals, might mean that they won't follow commands. Why should they, if they are brothers?

  • A way to communicate.

Even if they don't follow commands, having words, sounds or signals that the gryphons know mean something specific, such as "danger" or "prey sighted" and the like, would be useful. Domesticated cats develop a language specific to their owners, and the owners know what the sounds mean--things like "i'm hungry, feed me."

  • That elves help with survival.

The exchange could be less about knowledge and more about what the elves can do for them--for instance, veterinary care. The elves can heal or patch up gryphons, something that they can't do for themselves, and if they are trapped somewhere or there is a problem, they would learn that bringing elves to help is a good idea. The smartest of dogs learn to do this, though not all of them do. Cats, in general, will try to hide illness, because other cats will attack a sick cat--these gryphons may learn instead to bring an elf to the sick.

  • How to use tools that the elves have built OR Physics! The elves can teach them physics!

Although they might not be able to use complex tools, if the elves are smart, they'll make objects that the gryphons can put to use. A catapult, for instance, built so that it can be manipulated and used by a gryphon. Or a bell that can be rung and heard by all in times of danger. The gryphons can't tie the knot to ring the bell or even make the bell, but they can pull the rope to make it sound. There are lots and lots of ideas--including sports (they can teach the Gryphons how to play ariel games which can then be used in combat).

  • $\begingroup$ And pull levers, such as the one for a drawbridge or your mentioned catapult; or drop heavy stuff in combat or when hunting (meat pancake, anyone?). I hope you don't mind that I added two videos of crows doing some of the described stuff, I figured that if one of the smartest animals in our world could do it, then it should be a piece of elf-cake for a gryphon. +1 $\endgroup$ – Mrkvička Jan 10 '17 at 7:19

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