[Mock-Fiction] IV - Alea Iacta Est {Rogue's Story}

Note: Please read the Formal Notice movella. It should be on the list on the right hand side.

Yup. Just the one perspective.

Cover by Secrets Unfold

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13. 10 – The Reckoning

The horses almost broke their legs, the way they were holding back. The stables had grown occupied with the sudden influx of ancient war-machines, thus some of the unfortunate late-comers had to share residence with a beast that towered over them by some few kilometers. They looked uncertainly at the Nazgul, their eyes wild with fear, but they didn’t dare to make a sound above a horse-whisper. But the Nazgul had tired of his former interest with them. Perhaps, in another time, he would have considered devouring them in one very full mouthful. But now, after having tasted a delectable kind of food which became known to him as ‘carrots’, he resorted to leaving live creatures alone. At present, the Nazgul was more concerned with his mistress running in with water all over her face and all the veins in her neck popping out. The Nazgul drew a breath and blew out at her, to calm her down.

 

She gasped, as if the air had been drawn out of her lungs, and then relaxed as they proved to fill up again.

“Thank you,” she said, putting a hand to her forehead.

She sat on the wooden bench beside him, her head staring up at the unroofed stable, at the open sky beyond.

Squishy nudged her with his muzzle, and she almost fell off.

“No,” she said, wiping away the water on her face with the back of her hand, “I haven’t forgotten.”

She drew out a long carrot out of her back trouser pocket and threw it into the Nazgul’s gaping maw. She watched as his huge jowls rotated, savoring the taste of the carrot.

 

Squishy watched as Rogue put her head in her hands, silent for a long moment.

The Nazgul snorted at her, the air lifting her ponytail, and she looked up at him.

“It’s nothing,” she said immediately.

The Nazgul responded by licking the side of her face. He knew that was a lie.

Rogue stifled a sad giggle, “I don’t want to talk about it. It’s too– Hey!” Squishy caught her by the small belt around her waist with his scaly lips and lifted her in the air. He threw her up and caught her again by the hem of her trousers.

“Put me down!” she said, upside down.

Squishy grunted again. He began swinging her from side to side.

“Alright! Alright! I’ll tell you! I’ll tell you!”

Squishy swung her again, and released her – only for Rogue to fall into a haystack.

The Nazgul coughed a laugh, spreading his wings and nodding his head.

 

Rogue climbed off the haystack. Her hair looked as if it had been hit by a tornado – all disheveled and with straws sticking out of it.

She sat back on the bench, and patted the shiny white scales on Squishy’s muzzle, “I don’t even know how to tell you,” she said, “It’s the kind of thing that I’d never want to tell you. But I guess you of all things should know…”
Squishy gazed at her patiently. His amazing sight caught the red flush in Rogue’s eyes, and the minute vibration that occurred high up on her nose. He caught the only marginally quivering frown on her lips. He licked her again, because he knew that that usually cheered her up.

But it only made her touched the slimy area of her face and cry.

The Nazgul pouted, waiting for her to continue.

 

“Squishy, I…” she looked at the Nazgul. Everything about him. The shimmering white scales, the far-too-long-to-be-elegant neck, the huge expanse of wings, the large blue eyes, the tall crooked teeth that stuck out in every direction – everything about him made her want to cry, “So few good things happen…” she said, brushing Squishy’s chin with her hand, “all the time, there’s this town getting blown to smithereens, there’s that city that’s collapsed on itself, there’s this army that got sucked into the earth, there’s that person that spontaneously combusted. All the time. It’s always bad news. Always,” she sniffed, her tears plipping on the Squishy’s hard scales, “But you were a good thing,” she managed, “you were always a good thing. There’s never been a time when I’ve regretted having you around,” Rogue hugged Squishy’s over-sized face, “And now… Now… Now they want you. They want you to go. I’ll never see you fly again. I’ll never hear your scream. I’ll never get that slobber all over my face. Never again. Vesp brought you here, and gave you to me,” she lifted her head and looked at him, “only so you could die here. You should have never come, Squishy…”

 

The Nazgul tilted his head, as if to ask further question, and he snorted to that had to Rogue shield her face with her arms. But then his eyes picked up in another direction, which was quickly followed by his loud scream, his wings spread wide – raising his head and champing his jaws.

Rogue turned to see what the Nazgul had taken alarm at.

There, in the doorway, on his knees and hands over his ears, was Darim.

Oh, typicality never does let up, does it? Rogue thought. She patted Squishy’s neck, and said, “It’s okay, it’s okay. Calm down,” she said over his loud screaming. Somehow, the Nazgul heard and picked Darim up in his lips by the scruff of his neck and tossed him into the haystack.

“That was rather unnecessary, Squishy,” she told the Nazgul. Squishy licked her face, denying it, then rested his head on the coil of his neck, relaxing, and closed his eyes.

 

Darim rubbed the back of his neck, before trying to get out of the haystack. It proved futile, however, as Squishy’s tail swished and threw him back in. Darim spat out straw and resolved to staying where he was.

“What are you doing here?” asked Rogue, sitting back on her bench, “You took offence at my trying to protect my ‘pet’.”

“Shouldn’t your beast have a more terrifying name?” was Darim’s response, “like Destroyer or Hellraiser or something?”

Rogue shook her head, not looking at him, “No.”

“And why not?”

“Because it’s not the kind of name you give something you love. It’s not endearing. It’s not even nice. Destroyers and hellraisers should be the titles of tyrants and weapons and machines. Squishy is none of these things – hence: it’s just plain insulting,” Rogue sighed, “You are what you are called by.”

“He doesn’t like me much,” commented Darim.

“Of course not. He’s never seen or heard of you before.”

“And why should that make him jump up like he did, and harass me?”

“Because he’s more scared of you than you are of him.”

“That’s impossible! I’m tiny compared to your… Squishy.”

“It’s the same when women shriek up at spiders and cockroaches, or when elephants jump at mice. There’s no explaining fear. You just fear – that’s it.”
 

Darim paused, “You aren’t happy to see me.”

“Factual,” replied Rogue, “Which brings me to wonder who sent you here.”

“Well, my father thought I ought to apologize for saying what I said.”

“Words and eggshells.”

“Beg your pardon?”

“Words are like eggshells. Once you break an eggshell, you can’t take it back. You spoke your mind, and I commend you for that. For your insensitive rashness, however, I have taken offence.”

“I didn’t know that this beast meant so much to you.”

“And from my contortion, what it so hard to make a simple assumption?”

“But it’s for the sake of the world!”

“I owe the world no favors. I have no debts.”

“What are you saying?”

“That even if Squishy is sacrificed, the malice and malignance of human nature will prevail. Even if one weed is uprooted, another will emerge in its place. And on with sacrifice, on with sacrifice!” Rogue sighed, a distant and perhaps a not quite sane look in her eyes, “Squishy hasn’t a grain of evil in him – though his kind will bear witness to otherwise.”

 

Darim rose cautiously, watching Squishy’s tail as he waded out of the haystack. He saw the Nazgul’s tail twitch, but then lay still. Squishy snored loudly, fast asleep.

Relieved, Darim walked over and sat next to Rogue, “But that’s our purpose, isn’t it? That’s the whole point of living. To fight. And if you don’t live like that, you’re on the other side. On the side of the destroyers and hellraisers.”

Rogue paused and then said slowly, “A little too black and white,” and then she sighed, “but I see your point. It’s just…”

“Squishy was brought to you for this very purpose, Rogue! If he wasn’t here, there would be no solution to the predicament you’re all in! I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s an obligation. There’s no compromise. And all we can do to compensate it is to say we’re sorry. And–”

“Can you please just shut it for a minute and let me think?”

 

Darim remained silent. Darim could not tell in that moment what Rogue was thinking. She looked oddly calm and unstable at the same time. As if she would be able to explode, but stop herself just in time.

“There’s a thing my father says,” said Darim, “He says that life is sacrifice.”

“I know that. I’ve read it in his book.”

“He writes a book?”

“He… I probably shouldn’t tell you about it. You aren’t supposed to know. But I’ve read it somewhere – probably your father’s  words. Or one of the Desmond’s other ancestors. Doesn’t matter anyway. I know ‘life is sacrifice’,” she stared up at the Nazgul who slept on peacefully, “I just… I wish it wasn’t something else’s life that I had to sacrifice for such short respite. Peace, in its nature, does not last. Human nature won’t allow it to.”
“So, you have come to a decision?”

“Was there a decision to begin with, Darim?” she stood up, stiffly, “What must be done, must be done.”

 

She patted Squishy’s muzzle. He opened a large blue eye.

“Our enemies our close,” she said, “What’s say you fly up one more time and give them the greatest scare of their miserable lives?”

Squishy screamed, and bounded into the air.

 

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