The Rokha is a winged titan, stalking the plains of Daendroc below it from the skies with keen vision, and painting the lands red with precise dives and strikes from the deadly claws mounted on its feet. The Rokha has for centuries inspired terror into the hearts of the people who lived near the mountains of Daendroc, inhabiting the northwestern regions of the Zuimobragan Peninsula. These enormous predatory birds have been a plague on the Altalar cities built into the mountainsides for millennia, and the Elves best efforts to eradicate the bird has severely decreased their numbers. To this day, its feathers and claws are prized trinkets among the Elven population, and the Daen humans as well.
No one exactly knows how long this gargantuous killer has stalked the mountain valleys, but some scholars theorize that they lived there even before the emergence of the Elven Empire and have since then been a lurking threat to every wanderer and cattle herder in the vicinity of a Rokha nest. When Elven kingdoms and fiefdoms first started emerging in Daendroc, the Rokha in the area took it as a serious violation of their territory, frequently striking down on the cities, taking everything from children to fully grown guardsmen up in its claws. Not many years passed before the Altalar had adapted, using their precise vision and excellent bowmanship to repel and kill the attacking Rokha.
Years and years passed, the Rokha drawing further into the mountains, seeking peace from the Altalar cities, and soon was so rare a sight that they became something of a myth to the Elven populations. One particular Elven Emperor had a strong obsession with the birds, erecting many statues and depicting the creature in folly all over their palaces and holds. It is said that the Emperor himself wore a suit of armor, constructed from Rokha bones which are both durable and lighter than steel. To this day, decorations and statuettes of the Rokha can still be found scattered all across the northern Elven territories.The Rokha themselves have scattered further away from the sentient races in search of solace to continue their existence.
The Rokha appears quite similar to any other bird of prey, except scaled up many times. Its total wingspan reaches up to six meters and weighs about as much as a grown man. Its feet are bright yellow and each carry four toes, two at the front and two at the back, each mounted with a deadly one foot claw. The Rokha's feathers come in shades of brown and black, with their bellies usually taking on a lighter shade, such as grey or white. Its beak is also bright yellow and above each of the eagle’s golden slitted eyes are a long black feather, curving upwards like a sinister eyebrow or a set of horns. Most of the bird’s weight and muscle resides in its wings, being able to maneuver its powerful body with stunning precision and agility, often diving at tremendous speed from the skies, striking unsuspecting prey with a hit that is almost sure to break every bone in their body, followed by a set if deadly claws cutting the prey apart. But perhaps most impressive of all is the Rokha’s eyesight, being able to tell a mouse apart from a plain at three miles of altitude, assuming that there are no clouds. When on the ground, their wings will bend forward, allowing the Rokha to support some of its weight on two clawed fingers that extend about halfway out on each wing. These can also be used to latch onto mountain sides and climb trees but are rarely used as a weapon.
Males and females appear similar overall with a few exceptions. The male often appears to be of a stronger and more packed build, while the female carries elegant and agile proportions. The males tend to be slightly darker in colours as well, but this is not always the case. The surest way of telling the males and females apart is by the feather on the forehead of the male Rokha. In the spot where the upper beak connects with the feathered head stands a long crimson feather that curves over its head like the plume on a knight’s helmet.
Life Span and Development
Many records exist of deadly disputes between multiple Rokha, however this was rarely the case. The Rokha have a mating ritual involving a deadly airborne chase where the female, using her more agile and faster build, will put the male’s strength and willpower on trial. If the male succeeds in capturing the female, he will dig his claws into the female who will then go limp, leaving the male to carry both of their weights with his more powerful wings. Once a male and a female have bred, they will stay together for the entire nesting period, building up a home of branches and bones and taking turns at collecting food and guarding a single egg. The egg incubates for approximately five months before the hatchling draws its first breath, and will then continue to grow for the next month where, if it has been fed properly, it will be strong enough to survive on its own until it reaches adulthood. The parents will then leave the nest, flying their separate ways. It is rare that a Rokha has more than three eggs in their lifetime, often dying after their second nesting period due to the physical strain their aging body would have been exposed to. A Rokha lives approximately 20 years, excluding the incubation period.
Being an apex predator, the Rokha is inherently hostile to anything but other Rokha. The majority of species alive today is fair game to this beast, it has even been recorded to be seen snapping at bothersome flies disturbing its sleep. It is theorized that the reason for the Rokha being so tolerant of one another is due to their low population, which would surely not endure if they hunted each other as well. The Rokha isn’t particularly intelligent beyond its hunting strategies which mostly lie in instinct. Like most other birds, it is easily distracted, and Wolond Kathar nomads in the mountainous regions have developed various methods of getting past a Rokha nest, usually involving a round grass ball dipped in tree sap to make it sticky. Once the ball is stuck on the Rokha, it will be solely focused on removing it as quickly as possible. A particularly curious trait of the Rokha is its sense of vanity. They spend up to several hours a day cleaning their feathers to look their most appealing to other Rokha. Sometimes they are found rolling in patches of flowers to smell better as well.
Territory and Groupings
Apart from the occasional nesting periods where a male and a female will join forces, the Rokha are mostly solitary, stalking the skies in search of prey and mating partners. Female Rokha tend to settle in a certain area, ruling over several hunting grounds that, if tread upon, will be met with immediate hostility. Males are not as territorial, but usually has a special pattern that it follows when travelling, always using the same resting spots as it did the first time it took a special route. Their movements are often very well-planned and coordinated beforehand, but they can actually get lost if they stray too far from their usual path.
- It is said that Rokha nesting pairs would even hunt smaller dragons before the gargantuan reptiles seemingly went extinct.
- And old Elven tale tells of a mighty warrior named Tejny Tnisula’ciëon’ess’a who defeated many foes of the Elven Empire, mounted on the back of a Rokha.
- Rokha nesting grounds have been popular spots for daring scavengers as the birds will usually have piles of artifacts and armor from dead elves and humans lying about.