March 12, 2020
The girl's heart aches as she turns away from her family and takes her first few steps over the Sanguine Ruins' border. She's left the territory before, had taken to doing so periodically from atop Merlot's back ever since obtaining a dual alliance, but departing entirely alone feels very different. She'd expected as much, but what she hadn't anticipated was the grief. The Sanguine Ruins wasn't her homeland, but it had quickly come to feel that way; she'd bonded with her relatives who lived here much more quickly and strongly than she had with her own littermates in Solaris Kingdom, and most of them had wound up disappearing from her life, anyway. She wouldn't miss them. It's Arya, Nadine, Cherrywine, and Merlot's faces that linger in her mind as she readies herself to take off, but Brandy resists the urge to look back at them. She has to be strong for them. For the Red God.
She stretches her wings, a sensation she's still getting used to, and starts to run. It feels somewhat nice to exert the energy, but as she leaps up and lifts herself higher with a powerful flap of her wings, she has to blink tears from her molten eyes as she struggles to shake the thought of all she's leaving behind. Her family, her livelihood, her home. She'd felt so alone during her childhood in the Kingdom; one absent father and another who's emotionally distant never bodes well for a child's growth, and Brandy wasn't exempt. She recalls those days with little warmth, back when she was too uncertain and insecure to reach out and form connections with both her littermates and the rest of the clan. Solaris Kingdom is a vibrant place, and maybe she would flourish there now, with her newfound vivacity and love for all things lovely. But she knows she's only developed into such a person because of the Ruins; family who actually made her feel wanted brought her out of her shell and the Red God gave her a purpose. It feels amazing to have people to live for and something to believe in — it makes her feel whole. She knows that Solaris Kingdom worships another god, Helios, but she also knows that they're blind, weak. Arya once warned her that the Kingdom was safer than the Ruins; Brandy hadn't fully understood what she meant at first, but with time it had become clear: the Red God encourages strength, power, and physical domination — bloodshed — was the purest way of achieving this. Brandy has never partaken in combat herself — she lacks training and up until recently had been too lost in her own worries and insecurities to ask Arya to mentor her, as she'd intended to — but the simple act of drawing her own blood for an offering had been thrilling enough. She can only imagine how exhilarating a real battle would be, where every hit she landed on an enemy would function as an offering to her god.
But there were other ways to worship, such as the mission she'd received. She comforts herself as she soars through the sky by thinking about how lucky she is to have been reached out to by the Red God, even if it had only been through a voiceless dream. Twice now He's acknowledged her so very intimately, and she can't help but feel very special for it. How many others could say they had the same connection with Him? Briefly she wishes she could've pursued the path of a priestess to further this bond, but she tells herself it can wait, that fulfilling her duty is far more important at the moment. Besides, maybe Nadine and Jace will reward her with a promotion to priestess for all her hard work when she returns, whenever that may be. It still feels strange to acknowledge the fact that she really doesn't know when she'll be able to come home. Once she's visited every clan in Agrelos? Once she's converted enough people?
She supposes only time will tell.