|Common Nicknames||Titanwing, Western Longfeather|
|Habitat||The Far West and western Daen|
Much like its aerial sibling, the Hoton Longfeather, the Rokha is a titan of the air, native to lands long inhabited by Nelfin Races. However, where the Hoton Longfeather became a fringe animal largely ignored by the histories of the Allorn Empire, save for tales of its unique feathers, the Rokha kept a constant presence in the mind of the Altalar-ruled nation given its aggressive tendencies. Its name became tied to power, strength, and later fear, as the proto-Kathar emerged in The Far West. While the bird is considered by some to be extinct since the Cataclysm, scattered reports suggest their continued existence in isolated pockets across Aloria, with their spotless feathers highly sought after by hunters.
While tales of giant birds thriving in the air above the Altalar were once solely attributed to the Hoton Longfeather, some believe that early Altalar record keepers could not easily tell the birds apart, leading to confusion on just when the two birds were truly told apart. Most believe this was at the dawn of the Consolidation after the death of Empress Talea when Altalar expansion finally came to The Far West. Whereas the Hoton Longfeather’s history grew less relevant to the Altalar, the Rokha’s became moreso. Over time, terms of power and importance in the Allorn Altalar tongue came to include “Rokh” as derived from the animal’s name, and it is little wonder. Unlike the Hoton, whose mountainous dwellings often kept them high above, out of contact with the Altalar, Rokha constantly preyed on, attacked, and threatened Altalar in and around their mountainous nests. They were nocturnal despite their white plumage and sought out both beasts and sentient Races to sate what was often described as an “unspeakable want” in terms of a meal. They were also much harder to dislodge because of their strange habit of nesting in caves and other dark crannies out of easy sight, emerging only at night, and resting in the day.
For all of this, they were well respected among the Altalar, especially among certain Cults of Altalar society as the Empire began to break down following the Cataclysm. Those associated with the Void in particular respected the Rokha, but there was a sudden change around 500 BC. For some reason, the future Kathar of Aloria came to outright fear the Rokha and began to aggressively hunt them, while also tearing down statues and iconography previously built in the name of the animal’s greatness. Many suspect that this turn on the animal was due to possible connections with the bird’s origins as an Exist creation, but other reports suggest a slightly more bizarre truth. Unsubstantiated rumors claim a series of Rohka encounters with proto-Kathar Void cultists saw the animals speak and divulge secrets while also speaking dark truths beyond what should have been their capacity to know. Most view these tales as overblown, merely twisting sacrifices of the bird to the Void and communion that followed into one. Regardless, in the hunt that followed, what Rokha had made it to Daen were largely culled while those in The Far West similarly suffered. The Void-aligned Altalar even undertook dangerous missions into the Sundial Isles to purge them of their limited Rokha presence, much to the anger of the then insular Suvial. As a result of this, “Rokh” evolved to invoke not just respect, but fear in the Katharic tongue.
Following the Cataclysm and the official birth of the Kathar, there are many confusing claims about the ultimate fate of the Rokha. Some believe they have gone extinct, hunted to that point by the zealous Kathar, though others say that the grey-skinned Race stopped this practice as the animals died out naturally or were corrupted by the Void into valuable warbeasts. Rumors say that the Rokha are somehow untouched by the Void corruption that surrounds them, and they continue their hunting of all who would make a useful meal to this day. But this rumor is just that--a rumor--with no validated truth, but there were at one point a number of Rokha who were recovering well in population within the Sundial Isles. This was before the Void-outs ruined the region’s capacity to sustain animal life, however, and what few Rokha remained appear to have died off. Ultimately, the status of the Rokha remains unknown, though it is officially considered a rare creature by the wider world, with hope resting on its survival within the vast, wild realm of the Dread Empire.
The Rokha’s appearance is a bit more supernatural than many would imagine, possessing features that mark them out as unique among other predatory birds. Their most obvious feature is their size, reaching some eight feet long with a wingspan of sixteen feet. The Rokha’s face is that of a predatory bird, with a narrow, downward pointed beak. However, this is where the more normal features end. They possess a pair of large silver, green or blue eyes while the edges of their face possess a cresting of feathers similar, in some ways, to a mane on a more terrestrial animal. Their beak is also the strange color of white, a rarity for most bird species, and possesses a flawlessly smooth surface, clear of all irregular bumpage. Their necks are notably longer than that of most other predators, reaching around two solid feet and it appears to be retractable, with several layers of fat and skin much like some species of turtle. This “accordion neck” attaches to the Rokha’s athletic avian form and its two wings. These are capable of great feats of aerial adjustment and are notable for how the tips of their wing feathers appear to “waver” and appear cloudlike rather than solid. Their body ends in a short fan of feathers, and is supported on a pair of silvery scaled feet, with white claws. Similar scales also exist at the metacarpus of the bird’s wings. The feathers that coat the Rokha are a uniform pure white, and rarely stay dirty for long.
Rokha broadly lack diversity between males and females, but their gender population has been noted to skew toward males resulting in fewer females. No regional differences have not been noted between Rokha existing across their territorial spread.
Life Span and Development
Details on the reproduction of the Rokha are very lacking, as the animals roost in caves and keep their nests in the dark and out of easy sight. However, it is known that Rokha lay clutches of between one and three white eggs with pale blue and golden speckles at the top within their cave nests. When the Rokha emerges, they are covered in a dense pale grey down which rapidly matures into pure white, clean feathers. However, their bodies take many years to mature out of adolescence. Most records claim that Rokha hatchlings become youths at around ten to fifteen years of age, the event marked by their first solo flight, but also their necks being capable of proper expansion and contraction. It takes a further five or so years for them to become full adults. From this point onward, Rokha will have an incredibly long life if allowed to live it, some tales putting Rokha as old as 250 years old. Most conventional scholars of biology, however, state the bird can live anywhere between 100 and 200 years old based on a variety of factors.
Being an apex predator, the Rokha is inherently hostile to anything but other Rokha. The majority of species alive today are and were fair game to this beast, even sentient Races should they get in the way of a normal Rokha meal. It is theorized that the reason for the Rokha being so tolerant of one another is due to their low population and a general hostility born of centuries of hunting and attacks from various parties, even non-Kathar. Their preferred hunting method is oddly not that of other predatory birds, but instead they will actively seek to rip them apart through the use of their talons and sharp beak before carrying the lifeless body away for consumption. Further mental attributes are unknown due to their nocturnal, subterranean lifestyles.
Territory and Groupings
Rokha exist in small flocks of between two to seven members, often with one or two females presiding over a group of males. When their offspring are born, they are allowed to mature but are then ejected from the group upon adulthood. Most are then independent, flying off to form their own nest somewhere in the world. The animal nests within mountain caves, with the nests themselves filled with debris of fabric to greenery to bones, providing useful cushioning for when the birds sleep. As for the territory the Rokha claims, it can be anywhere between thirty and fifty square miles, though some particularly large Rokha have been known to claim up to 100 miles.
- It is said that Rokha would even hunt Dragons before the gargantuan reptiles seemingly went extinct.
- There exist some fragmentary tales of a warrior who committed heresy against Estel named Tejny. He was forced to endure his innards being eaten out by Rokha before Mages then restored the damage so it could happen again the next day. The punishment was supposed to last eight days for the eight Avatars, but this process was somehow interrupted, though the fragments never include an ending to state what caused the interruption.