Ruhaka

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Among the first gnolls was Ruhaka. Ruhaka was not strong, unlike some of her sisters and brothers. But her spirit was fiery and stubborn. As each of the First Clan spread wide and took territory, she lived upon the outskirts of the clan, farther from them. The edge of her domain overlapped with a vile bugbear, who took to harassing Ruhaka each day. Ruhaka fought back, but each day was forced to surrender, and give the bugbear her portions of meat. Each day, with mocking laughter the bugbear would yell. "You are small. You are weak. That is the Truth."

Day after day, the bugbear returned, and savagely attacked until Ruhaka would surrender, whereupon the bugbear demanded treasures and food. He would part with the same taunting words. "You are small. You are weak. That is the Truth."

"Truth... Truth!" Ruhaka spat. "I will destroy the Truth! Crush it between my teeth!"

So Ruhaka decided to ask the spirits for help to find the Truth. She gobbled the herbs her sister had shown her, to bring her close to the spirits. For days she wandered the woods, lost in delirium, as the spirits whispered to her. Death spoke in her ear and tempted her with sleep and relief, but she resisted. Across many nights, in the shaking cold, she screamed to the spirits to tell her where the Truth was found. And finally, a spirit spoke to her. "Listen closely, and I will tell you where the Truth lies."

She awoke from her stupor, and gathered her few belongings, setting off to the place where the Truth lies.

Ruhaka traveled very far, and faced many dangers along the way. Rushing rivers, and perilous cliffs. She hunted with the great shadow bird. She tricked the smiling river tree. She wounded the running mountain, and fled from its terrible thunder. But these are other stories...

After her long journey, at last Ruhaka had arrived at the cave, and saw where the Truth did lie. She raged upon it in her anger. She clenched the Truth in her jaws, and attempted to break it. The Truth, however, would not break. But through careful pressure, Ruhaka discovered the Truth could be bent. Finding this, Ruhaka took the Truth and left the cave to return home.

As she arrived back in her lands, she found her home almost completely destroyed. Her hut lay torn nearly apart, the door peeled from its hinges. Inside, visible from where Ruhaka stood, laid the brutish bugbear who had tormented her. He slept oafishly upon her bedding, snoring in loud breaths.

Ruhaka laughed to herself in the dark of the moonless night. She could kill him now, but he did not deserve a quiet death. Instead, she called out to the bugbear.

"Who are you to lay in my bed?"

The bugbear startled awake, and snorted in confusion. "What?"

"Who are you to lay in my bed?" she repeated, louder now.

The bugbear scowled. "Are you finally returned, weakling? You know who I am. And I know you. You are small. You are weak. That is the Truth."

Ruhaka laughed coldly, taking the Truth from her bag and moving it back and forth between her claws. Her keen eyes cut through the oppressive darkness.

"You had known me when I left. But I have changed."

The bugbear could sense that Ruhaka knew something he did not. He shifted nervously, peering out of the hut into the complete darkness beyond. He called out with arrogance, but his voice betrayed uncertainty. "You may have changed, but you cannot change the Truth. You are small. You are weak. THAT is the Truth."

Ruhaka took the Truth into her smiling jaws, and began to bend it.

"No... I am no longer small. I am no longer weak. I stand here now, taller than the highest tree of the forests. Stronger than the mightiest boulder of the mountain. That... THAT is the Truth."

The bugbear was taken aback. How could it be that a gnoll who was once so small could now stand so tall? Who once was so weak could now be so strong? But bugbears are brave. He puffed his chest defiantly. "No matter! I will fell you as the highest trees are felled. I will crush you as the mightiest boulders are crushed!"

Ruhaka tightened her jaws around the Truth, bending it further, and narrowed her yellow eyes.

"I am taller, I am stronger, but I also have many more arms and many more claws, with which to tear you limb from limb!"

The bugbear squinted into the darkness, unable to believe what he was hearing. He was desperate for a glimpse of this gnoll, who now stood taller than the highest trees, was stronger than the mightiest mountains, and had many more arms and claws to rend him. But bugbears do not fear death or dismemberment. He stood from the bed, and began to approach the threshold of the door. "I do not see you, gnoll! If you are so mighty, why do you hide?"

Ruhaka pressed her teeth even harder into the Truth, becoming drunk with the intoxicating power that oozed from the Truth as it strained and cracked within her jaws.

"Oh! But I see you, bugbear. For I have many eyes with which to watch you!"

The bugbear grew bolder still, angry at his invisible opponent. "If you are so large, and you are so mighty, why do I not see you now?"

Ruhaka's smile widened madly as she suppressed her manic laughter. She crushed down her mouth into the Truth.

"Because, bugbear. I am the very shadows around you!"

Crack!

Just then, the Truth that Ruhaka had bent so far had finally snapped, and so, as she had broken the Truth, she truly became the very shadows around the bugbear, and the darkness snatched him up, never to be seen again!

Ruhaka, having broken the Truth, now is only shadow, claws, and eyes. But remember this, and take comfort in the darkness, knowing that you are never truly alone. Ruhaka is there.

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