Interview with a Harpy – Rue (from The Rise of the Stone)
It’s time for another interview with a harpy, and today we’ll chat with Rue. After interviewing harpies Meena, Calista, and Temida, I thought it was Rue’s turn today. She is Azure’s faithful sidekick, as ancient as the harpy queen, and after having lived through centuries and witnessing many events, I am sure that she has a lot to share with us.
Let’s dive right in.
Ch Duts – Hello Rue, it’s so nice to have you here.
Rue – It’s good to be here. Thank you for inviting me.
Ch Duts – I think you’re one of the harpies we know the least about even though you are a great adviser to Azure, your queen.
Rue – I’m just our queen’s guard. I don’t think I matter that much to the plot.
Ch Duts – You’re in charge of Azure’s safety and you give her advice that is essential to the story. I wouldn’t downplay such an enormous task.
Rue – Azure is quite capable of looking after herself but yes, maybe you have a point; she does still need me. She tends to trust that witch … – She scowls, speaking the name with venom. – Zora, because she used to know her when she was mortal. Azure is strong and smart but sometimes she needs me to remind her who to watch out for.
Ch Duts – None of the harpies I’ve talked to have anything good to say about Zora.
Rue – Because there isn’t much good about her. Zora only cares about herself and her actions are based on one sole motivation: how it will benefit her.
Ch Duts – Didn’t she help the harpies at some point?
Rue – She did, because she had no choice. Trust me, she didn’t do it because she felt the need to help out her fellow creatures. Zora operates alone and she will only join others for her own advantage.
Ch Duts – But the harpies are united.
Rue – Did Temida, Meena, and Calista tell you that? – She shakes her head, not hiding her sneer. – Us harpies are bonded through our immortality and shared past pain. We all come from suffering. Ask any harpy in our village about her story and prepare to weep. That’s what unites us.
Can we trust each other, though? I’m not so sure. A specific harpy comes to mind. Her name was Viola. Conflictive thing she was, always arguing. Her days were not complete without at least a quarrel. That harpy … – She stops and shakes her head again – She was a lot of work.
Ch Duts – Conflictive doesn’t mean untrustworthy.
Rue – No, but it always seemed to me as if Viola didn’t accept her destiny. I felt that she never wanted to be a harpy. She was angry all the time.
Ch Duts – Nonetheless, I would still say that you harpies are united.
Rue – Perhaps we are, but more out of duty than love. If you lock two mice in a crate, they will also bond at once, stick together for whatever they might face. They could have lived their lives in oblivion of each other and without the slightest care, but thrown into that box together they are now forced to address their situation as one – united.
Ch Duts – That’s how you see your harpy community?
Rue – nodding – Yes.
Ch Duts – Friendships have grown, though. You can’t deny that.
Rue – No, I cannot. Azure has made friends. So have Calliope, Meena, Temida, Calista, and many others, but not I. My loyalty is reserved for the queen. Friendship is a luxury I cannot afford.
Ch Duts – Surely, you have time to bond with someone.
Rue – Of course I do but my duties are fraught with risk. I’m the closest to the queen, therefore I am always exposed to danger. Cultivating friendship with another harpy would mean that I’d set her up to mourn me at some point. If the queen is attacked I will be the first to go down. It is my job to give my life for her.
Ch Duts – I don’t think that Azure would agree.
Rue – No, she is too noble for that, but at the end of the day, she will have to admit that she needs her guard to be willing for self-sacrifice.
Ch Duts – So, you avoid commitment to spare others the pain you may or may not cause.
Rue – Indeed.
Ch Duts – Aren’t you depriving yourself of much-needed company?
Rue – The queen is my company.
Ch Duts – If even she has friends, then I don’t see why you shouldn’t. Don’t you think that you take your role too seriously?
Rue’s eyes flash with annoyance at the suggestion. – If I don’t take my role seriously, then how will the queen survive?
Ch Duts – As far as I know, she spent hundreds of years without your protection and she did just fine. You could give yourself a break.
Rue – She wasn’t queen back then. She is now.
Ch Duts – I see. And what if the queen were snatched away right in front of you and you couldn’t do a thing about it?
Rue – I would move mountains to find her.
Ch Duts – You would never give up?
Rue – Never.
Ch Duts – Never?
Rue – faltering – I have never given up anything in my mortal or immortal life, but recently I came close to letting go of a lifelong dream of mine, and giving it up, giving something up for the first time in my life feels like a dark force pulling me into an endless vortex that leads to the Underworld.
It kept me captive there, unwilling to let me enter the Underworld but also refusing to let me return to the living. I hung there, suspended, ready to give up on a dream, and I felt as if the vortex dropped me. I lay on the floor, crying for what I was giving up, but I still wanted to keep going.
Two forces were pulling me from side to side – despair and hope, both fighting to heave me toward them and keep me in their embrace. When you’ve never ever given up in millennia, coming to a point where you want to do just that can be excruciating, like losing a part of you.
Ch Duts – What dream … did you want to renounce?
Rue – Writing. I have kept written chronicles of our adventures. I’ve passed some to you to help you write about us.
Ch Duts – They have been of valuable help.
Rue – I always wanted to publish my books, but it is hard … and my duties don’t allow me to venture into the 21st Century so often to approach publishers.
Ch Duts – Please don’t give up! Your chronicles are well written. You must keep going.
Rue – But who will read them? It would probably be easier to battle Zora the witch than to get a book noticed on that air communication you have.
Ch Duts – You mean the internet?
Rue – Yes.
Ch Duts – I’m not going to lie. It isn’t easy to get your work noticed but don’t give up, Rue. Please continue writing.
Rue smiles and nods.
Ch Duts – Before I go, is there any advice, tips, or perhaps a quote you would like to leave with our readers?
Rue – Yes. There’s something I would like to say. It’s a quote I recently read in a book. Actually, I have two quotes. The first one goes like this: “Don’t forget that birds with broken wings walking on the ground were once flying high up in the sky.”
Ch Duts – Very true.
Rue – And this is the second one: “It is a bird’s imagination, not its wings, that determines how high it can fly.”
Ch Duts – That one is beautiful.
Rue – Indeed.
Ch Duts – Then I hope that your imagination will carry you higher than your wings, dear Rue.
Thank you for this lovely interview. It was interesting and your quotes are certainly inspiring.
Rue – Thank you for having me.
This was the last harpy interview for now. If you’ve missed any of the other ones, you can catch up with Meena, Calista, and Temida in the following links:
I hope you enjoyed this series. Thank you for reading!