One of the most misunderstood creatures in the known world is the common Thestral (Pegasi formidulosus). At first glance, this perception is understandable; it is invisible to muggles and remains visible to wizards only under unique circumstances. Even when visible, the reptilian appearance of an animal normally seen as mammalian proves disquieting to many. More than this, these unique circumstances generally render sightings of P. formidulosus to experience negative memories or emotions. Exceptions have been noted among combat-trained individuals, but these exemptions occupy less than two percent of the total sampling (Numbers, Thestrals, Minds, Third Edition, Bones et al).

P. formidulosus, a class XX creature, possess one of the most complete defenses known to exist: true invisibility. Unlike the demiguise (Oculo rigor) or the Lesser Parthian Glass Snake (Serpentia caecus), this is not the result of a mere alteration of light, but an absence of existence to the observing mind.

Professor McGraw, of the Sigma Alliance, is known to have discovered the effect by accident. According to his notes, Prof. McGraw attracted a P. formidulosus into a cave, after which he sealed the entrance with solid stone. The belief at that time held that the mysterious creature was a symbol of death, and as such, could pass through solid barriers as if they could not exist. The number of people capable of testing this hypothesis even now, is very low, and wild P. formidulosus population have never reached herds in excess of two score. How Prof. McGraw was able to perform this experiment speaks volumes as to both his ability as a wizard, and his willingness to confront his fears as a man.

Unfortunately, Prof. McGraw discovered the carnivorous nature of P. formidulosus after trapping the creature in the cave for nearly two weeks. Our knowledge of Magical Creatures expanded considerably with his on-hand expertise, including an early version of the ‘Dicta-Quill’ (spearheaded by the Rosier Scrivening Company). Through these notes it was confirmed that P. formidulosus engages in pack behavior, consumes its chosen repast fresh, and can chase down superior foes if motivated.

Additional biological notes show that P. formidulosus is most closely related to the Abraxian Flying Horse (Equinas ebrius). Both share a common ancestry to the extinct Pegasi magnifique, last known to transport couriers over the Grecian peninsula. With the publicly accepted extinction of P. magnifique, Magical Greece has successfully hidden any knowledge of surviving specimens. Reports from multiple agencies have described creatures resembling this lost species of legend, but no confirmation has been forthcoming.

This common ancestry shows origin points in the P. formidulosus development. Ancient Greece was – and is – filled with dangerous Magical Creatures like the Chimera (Mutare tripudium), the Lethifold (Stratum amplexus) and a myriad of other creatures. Mediterranean climes and resource scarcity ensures dense competition; that which is closest to the resource must defend itself from both the resource and that which may not differentiate between it or the resource as food. In this regard, P. formidulosus attained an almost perfect advantage. As such, it can be incredibly dangerous for the unwary traveler, if proper safeguards are not taken.

P. formidulosus is a carnivore, by technical definition. While it can hunt in the fashion of predators, it prefers to seek out the kills made by others, using its natural advantages to avoid notice. These advantages include not only invisibility, but a high degree of intelligence, a nigh-odorless body chemistry, and a lack of biological material to betray its presence.

In reverse order, P. formidulosus possesses little hair, other than the mane and tail portions. The majority of its body is covered in flexible scales, formed of the same material fingernails consist. While hair is also made of similar materials, these scales contain elements of bone, making for durable edges interlocking over the leathery material beneath. Interlocking scales, in addition to the smooth leather beneath, allows P. formidulosus to exist in a wider range of biomes initially believed. While it prefers warm, moist climates, the species have demonstrated adaptability, where the scales rise above the skin in layers three to seven layers deep. Each layer traps air in an insulated barrier, retaining heat to the lowest layer possible. During summer, these layers rotate, allowing the excess heat to leave; this is done sometimes in winter, it is a fearsome sight to suddenly encounter a P. formidulosus in mid-thermal loss, steam rising from its body like smoke!

Scales and hairs on the P. formidulosus rarely drop. By comparison, E. ebrius – the Abraxian –constantly shed feathers and hair, making their stables a labor-intensive place to clean. But the P. formidulosus can rarely be tracked by predators, save the krup (Canis venari) and others with exceptional senses of smell.

The P. formidulosus possesses an incredible level of intelligence for a creature. Indeed, the Ancients believed P. formidulosus to be sentient, and attempted communications in many various methods (see: Pre-Hellenic Disputations, by Josef Remi, Chapter Seven). Despite their best efforts (including what became the development of psêphoi in Ancient Greek or calculi in Latin, the basis for modern Arithmancy), the Ancients failed to achieve communication other than spoken commands. Simple carvings or objects could convey commands, but only when an individual speaks will a P. formidulosus respond in a seemingly intelligent manner.

Causation of this phenomenon lies in the secret behind P. formidulosus invisibility, and the first portion on the list: the ability to deceive the Mind.

P. formidulosus were gifted by magic to be ignored by a very specific portion of the mind, whether sentient or non-sentient. This capacity is mimicked in some degree by such rare charms as the Fidelius or the Unforgiveable curse, Imperius, but is entirely in a different level of existence. The magic inherent within the P. formidulosus, while weak in most regards, is incredibly powerful in two respects: connection with another mind, and removing the imprint an organism such as itself would normally deposit on that mind.

Unlike Legilmancy, the P. formidulosus does not seek to comprehend thoughts, or even divert those thoughts. Instead, the magic seeks out the various senses: sight and hearing for example, and slightly alters the retained memories that would be seen. It is here that one of the most puzzling discoveries can be attributed to Samuel Francois Underbooten, a man otherwise entirely unknown for his insights to biology. S.F.U deduced that since Master Occlumens detect no interference in their thoughts, and even those with natural Occlumancy barriers are affected by P. formidulosus inherent traits, those traits do not strictly affect the mind, but the magic a touch beyond the mind. In his work, Confusion and Confusing the Befuddled, Underbooten writes: “The mind isn’t bothered with what isn’t there. The blasted thing (P. formidulosus) somehow convinces Magic to reflect an image of expectation into the observer. It’s a painting of the background, exactly thestral shaped, overlaid on what the person should see. And hear. Ruddy nags.

A creature that forces wizards to remain blind to its existence would normally be classified as a XXXX level threat, but the non-aggressive nature of P. formidulosus, and its rarity, have rendered the decision to a mere XX level threat.

Visibility is possible, however. Unique individuals are capable of seeing P. formidulosus as it exists, without the benefit of the elided senses. Scholars debate the true requirements for this trait, but the core necessity is simple: watch someone die.

This, of course is merely the basics. Observing someone expire does not appear to automatically grant immunity to P. formidulosus evasions. The common explanation of ‘coming to terms’ with death is not considered a valid theory by most serious scholars (Thestrals, by Salem School of Magic Press), and indeed believed a dangerous assumption (Dangerous Theories, by Mage Oswald Ozymandis). Were this true, the fearful reputation of P. formidulosus would not exist, as only those whom ‘came to terms’ with death could see the creature. Instead, it is believed that a mental shock, such as witnessing death, changes how an individual perceives the world. At times, that change is insufficient to alter one’s perceptions; but sufficient exposure to mental trauma will inevitably alter the path through which an individual sees the world (Afflyctyons of the Brayn, by Naing yar Thet).

    Tests on the subject seem to bear this theory out, but as of this printing, conclusive evidence remains elusive.

    History of P. formidulosus reaches back to some of the earliest texts. It is mentioned in Ancient Greek (eg: Pythia’s Pets, by Aegenus Homer III), Old Norse (eg: Rimsdidorf Saga, by Einjer Sturleson, once in the Sumerian writings (Auguries in Those-Not-Birds, Author unknown) and features heavily in the full edition of On War by General von Clausewitz (better known as Kampf-Magier Fürst von Clausewitz).

P. formidulosus biological traces can be followed as far as the Oracle of Delphi, in 1450 BC. The original reference can be considered to have been discovered in the third book of the Illiad, recorded by the illustrious Magister-Phaedra Aegeus Punctillus Homer. While muggles only possess the twelfth book, due to the Statue of Secrecy, the other seventeen volumes record the battles and intrigues faced by all Greece. For the P. formidulosus, Lore-Master Naing, of the Magical Educational Center of Singapore (MECS) translated three of these works in 1325 BC. This saga tells of the treachery faced by Delphi, when the Ephebians reneged on an alliance, forcing desperate measures to be taken. The Oracle thus described a method by which the “… Blessed Winged ones beyond Sight ….” (see: Greco-Roman Translations of the Seventeen, by Naing et al) could be ridden, thus granting the Delphi Confederation invisible, flying mounts that could run as easily as fly.

This creature has, inadvertently, created a cultural revolution of sorts. The aforementioned experiment of Prof. McGraw’s final encounter was shared through multiple journals for years, until it reached a popular newspaper (Magische Bild, Sept. 3, 1956) spurred the literary Equinas Noir genre, popular especially amongst home-bound witches (Teen Witch Weekly’s Top Ten Titillating Tales of Terror!, Oct. 14, 1957).

Contemporary usage P. formidulosus renders the acceptance moot. Due to the species rarity, and the higher rarity of finding a trainer, only a select few locations can actively utilize P. formidulosus. For example, Hogwarts in the English Protectorate carries a proud tradition of a thestral herd, using the beasts to pull carriages, maintain a watch outside the main Wards, and patrol borders. In Thebes, Greece, a herd of P. formidulosus have been kept for over a thousand years, a tradition started during the Turkish Rebellion where Otto-turk and Varangian forces met just outside Thebian borders (see: Rulers of the Sky, by Adrian Weiner).

In conclusion, P. formidulosus possesses many traits considered admirable. Their intellect promotes training and problem-solving while their more physical gifts ensure resilience from even a small population. It is in the hope of convincing more readers that we end this article: P. formidulosus, the Common Thestral, is not a danger. Just endangered.

Tori Naing XIC, Grand-Sorceress MECS, Grand Poobah of Mphamvu

Author Notes Edit

This work was dedicated to a friend in Germany. Editorial notes appreciated from SFU and Ozzie.

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