Rehabilitation of a Monster
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Rhita, one of the few Stryx unafraid of the Wraith, is assigned to show her the ropes and reintroduce her to Sol's citizens. October 2021 Monthly Quest
Rhita had been lucky not to have been involved with the Wraith’s attack. She’d for the most part missed all the chaos, but now that she’d returned to Sol, she was met with devastation. The corva felt completely out of place, not knowing what needed to be done or how to help. However, there had been one key difference between her and the other residents of Sol that made her invaluable: She didn’t have any ill will nor innate fear towards the Wraith - now known as Senka. Although the massive rhakos had now been cured of the venom which burned through her veins, she was still the same bird which caused the destruction and so many of the deaths Sol had suffered.
Now, as Rhita walked beside the rhakos, she could see the pain and regret within Senka’s eyes. The big soil bird’s shoulders were laden with guilt and the massive realization that she’d not only hurt, but had killed more than one soul in her frenzied state. She looked depressed, even as the Great Harvest’s festivities began to replace the heartache with a new excitement. The corva reached out a wing, placing it tentatively on Senka’s shoulder in order to show her she wasn’t alone. Even though the rhakos was much taller, Senka looked emotionally smaller and timid. She offered her best smile to Rhita, grateful for the little Stryx’s reassurance in a sea of fearful glances and scurrying of feet away from the monster who’d wrecked this city.
They were headed towards the part of town which remained virtually untouched despite the attacks, where the main festivities were taking place. Nobody wanted to be reminded of the terror that gripped them, and so they flocked to the place that felt most normal. The soil corva stepped forwards once they reached an intersection of the road they walked on, peering out before nodding and gesturing for Senka to follow. “There aren’t too many people here. Most don’t celebrate during the mornings… it’s usually evenings when the fun starts and night when the drunkards begin stumbling around,” she explained.
“Oh… thank you. I… really don’t want to disrupt the party too much with my presence,” Senka said, dipping her antlered head. Her eyes were soft and afraid, even as she followed Rhita into the small gathering of people down this street. “It’s been years since I’ve been in any civilization. In some ways it hasn’t changed… in many others, I feel like an alien… as well as a monster,” she lamented in a subdued voice.
Rhita turned her attention away from one of the nearby stalls and focused her amber eyes on Senka. The sympathy shone brightly in her eyes. Once again, she reached out a wing, this time standing taller and directly in front of the royal rhakos. “You’re not a monster, love. You were ill… and not in your right mind. The person you are right now isn’t the person who wrecked this town. Come on, dear, let me show you what these people have to offer. They’re welcoming you, even if they fear you, and you deserve to enjoy the Harvest as much as the rest of us.” She ended that sentence with a firm nod, gazing Senka directly in her eyes with an intensity and sincerity few could muster. The runner simply responded with yet another nod, stepping forwards to indicate she was ready and willing to be shown around.
The Stryx leading her turned around and headed up to the stall she’d been eyeing. Heavenly warm scents of autumnal spices wafted their way. Senka kept her distance somewhat, noting that the vendor appeared nervous to see her. Still, he stood his ground and began to rattle out the prices of each of his goods to Rhita. In return, the corva lifted one wing, opened a satchel tied to a harness around her chest, and retrieved 2 tokens and several baubles from its depths. She placed them on the wooden counter, then shoved them towards the vendor. “That should be it. 2 apple twists, one pumpkin cheesecake, and 2 pear and cherry cobblers, please. Thank you, sir.” The human behind the counter nodded and began to gather the goods. Senka could see he never fully turned his back on her, keeping one eye out as if the red tendrils of corruption would overtake her a second time. The rhakos flinched, even as the man packed the items into parcels and handed them - in a bag - to Rhita.
The corva happily took it in her beak and turned back to Senka. She was somewhat disappointed to see that the rhakos had kept her distance, but she also understood how hard it must have been to be a monster in the eyes of so many. Unable to speak clearly with the bag of goods in her mouth, she decided it best to simply move on and remain silent. Senka padded behind her, keeping her wings as tightly against her sides as possible and claws as invisible as she could manage. The Stryx’s beak was shut tight, and she made sure to appear as timid as possible, even though Rhita was doing her best to reassure everyone. While Senka was scrunched up tight to appear non threatening, the corva kept herself loose and relaxed. She dipped her head in a greeting whenever anyone passed, casually smiling all the while.
Still, Rhita decided that it was best to get Senka away from the crowds for a time - not for the crowd’s sake, though that was important too, but for the rhakos’ sake. It was hard to fathom the kind of stress the poor bird was under. The corva turned into a less populated area of the city, where it was still relatively intact but away from the primary festival. Even still, this street had been decorated with warm orange lights and gourds of all shapes and sizes in the doorways of almost every house. She settled down in a spot littered with piles of leaves from trees which had shed them above. “Make yourself comfortable, dear,” she stated once she’d set down the bag. “I’d love you to try what Sol is known for. You’ll never have a better meal… and I’m sure you’re starving, given how difficult all of this was on you.”
Senka hesitated, then lay down beside her. Rhita began to pull out the parcels, opening them up and pushing them towards the larger Stryx.
Once they’d finished eating, the corva began to preen the rhakos. Senka jumped with surprise, but then settled down. For once, since the Wraith’s attack, the rhakos was beginning to feel like things would be okay. Rhita was just glad the Stryx was relaxing, mothering the royal bird as she would any one of her children.
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