[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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15. 12 – The Reasoning

14 – The Reasoning

 

Rogue looked dully at the night sky. The sky was empty. No stars at all that she could see. But the moon was as pale as a banana-shaped ghost against the darkness. Another night, perhaps, she would have wondered about it. Why the moon had to be a crescent sometimes and a full circle at others. But tonight, she could think about nothing. It had only been a few hours since the sacrifice – A few hours, she thought, so long ago? – and she was seated, cross-legged, on the rock-floor of a cave naturally carved into the side of a mountain, with her red shawl wrapped tightly around her.

 

Her madness had been a long tumultuous affair. She still couldn’t believe that she had acted like that again in public [she also couldn’t believe that she’d hit Richard, but that was a very small matter of the whole incident she didn’t really regret].

It had been an occurrence that she hoped would never be repeated in public. But apparently, she was getting too old for this business. That or something she simply couldn’t put her finger on. After having ran from Khadir and the others, she climbed like a manic up a mountain, her hands cutting and bleeding on the way. In her state, she failed to notice it. Her inner ‘voice’ – if it wasn’t a spirit that had possessed her – had grilled her with its words for after she’d found the seclusion of the cave. It was like fighting with yourself, only it wasn’t yourself. It was something else. Something you couldn’t see, feel, taste. Something completely beyond any tactile sensation.

 

It was her greatest, unambiguous fear.

 

Some feared darkness. Some feared spiders. Some feared war. Some feared death.

Rogue – she feared herself.

The voice had presented an argument she could not win – it always usually did – and it had led her to choke it and cut it and beat it. To choke herself, cut herself and beat herself. In the end, she’d decided to put everything down and argue with it – a battle she quickly lost. It left her alone after that.

Left you alone? Are you sure?” it said.

“Damn you,” she mumbled, her cockney accent emerging after so many years of washing it away.

All I’m saying is–”

“I know what the duck you’re on about,” she said to it, “I know that there’s always been things I’ve never wanted to ducking see around here. But…” she looked intently at the moon.

But?

“But this is what I’ve been wanting to do, since…”

What? Since Maxwell got shot down? Is wasting your entire ducking existence worth that?

“In case you’re forgetting, er…” Rogue growled, “Great. Just bloomin’ wonderful. You’re so bloody privy to my recent life, that I have to give you a bloomin’ name!”

By God, aren’t you just a little bonkers?

“A ‘little’? Blimey, Bob, there’s blood all over this fit-hole of a cave because I’ve been beating myself up all afternoon because you wouldn’t shut up – and I’m a ‘little’ bonkers?”

The voice sounded indignant, “Bob?”
“Anyway, in case you’re forgetting, Bob, Maxwell is a reason I continue to bloomin’ well exist.”

So it’s revenge, is that it? I’m sorry, but I’ve been in your head long enough to know this but – isn’t that just a little bit off your moral roller-coaster.”

“If it was about revenge, is it really so hard just to suicide-bomb Smith’s palace and be done with?”

Well, no, but…

“It’s not about revenge. Just… just being on the right side of the fence,” she shook her head, “Right side of the fence! Look at me bloomin’ discussing with myself about–” she paused as she heard something shuffle, “Hello?” she said, her accent changing to a more reserved British one.

 

She tilted her head to a side, noticing the toe of someone’s boot, “Noel? Is that you?”

Noel put his head in, smiling, “How did you–?” his smile went away, seeing the state of the cave and Rogue, “Wow… what happened in here?”

 

Noel was one of the mercenaries. One of Rogue’s favorites, though she tried to not let it show. He had messy brown hair and a one-sided smile, and there was always a sense of laughter in his face. He was British, like Rogue, but his accent was a friendly Irish accent. He was, in a classroom setting, the court jester. Everything he did was in some way humorous. Though, he knew when to be serious, and he knew when people expected him to be serious. Rogue usually liked that balance.

 

“Er… Squishy died, went crazy… long story,” Rogue turned away for a while, focusing on the moon again.

“It looks like a murder-house, er, cave,” he paused, “Were you talking to someone?”

“Myself.”
“Ah.”

Rogue sighed. She had no reply to ‘ah’.

 

He brushed the floor next to her with his hands and sat down, “You know, it is alright to talk to someone else too.”

“Oh, please, Noel,” Rogue laughed humorlessly, “The last thing I want to do is father-lecture the hell out of you.”
“Oh, really? You’re always so good at doing that, like, all-a’ time anyway when I mess with that lout-of-a-soldier, Hans.”

 

Hans was indeed a lout-of-a-soldier. German and built like an ox, anyone who looked at him the first time would shiver. Hans had the kind of face that only someone who pounded people for a living could have. Though, his bulk quite obviously compensated for his lack of understanding in some respects – but you would only know this by getting to know him. Which Rogue had done quite successfully after about six months after he enrolled.

 

Rogue hid her laughter with a scowl, “You set him on fire.”

“’Twas a joke.”

She repeated, “You. Set him. On f-i-re.”

“You’re smiling.”

“He would have killed you if I hadn’t lectured your arse out that time,” she said, allowing herself to smile, “Or the time before, when you put a scorpion in his underwear.”

“But you found it funny?”

“I suppose I did laugh… er, a little after everything had passed.”

“You did?”

“Quietly in my study when no-one was watching.”

“Hooray for me!”

“It doesn’t make it allowed, Noel. You’ve got plenty of strikes to remember this month. Don’t you get tired of having to clean out stables and sharpen weapons?”

He shrugged, “I reckon it’s worth it.”

 

It’s worth it.

 

Rogue bent her head, and stared at the ground.

Noel continued talking, “If you’re wondering who the devil sent me, it was Khadir. He sent out a lot of us to go look for you. Especially after all-a’ loud-mouthing ol’e Dickey-boy kept giving him in English. Hates it when he’s spoke to in English, don’t he? I’m not sure what’s going to happen to you though, if I bring you back. Frankly, I don’t want anything to happen to you, but you know how things are. With Dickey-boy, that is.”
“Dickey-boy?”

“Richard.”

Rogue laughed, “Noel, don’t call him that!”

“Why not?”

Rogue shrugged, “Makes me want to.”

Noel looked at her neck, “What’s all these marks on you? Were you attacked by a wolf or something?”

“It’s part of the long embarrassing, and slightly scary, tale that I do not wish to discuss with you at present,” said Rogue, “Please?”

Noel furrowed his brows, “Were you strangling yourself?”

“Pl-ea-se?”

“Alright, fine,” Noel said, “But you’ve got problems, ma’am. Then again, I guess everyone does… I guess we just have to keep dealing with them until… well, until there gone,” he looked at Rogue carefully, “What can you do if the world’s a problem, but fight it?”

 

What can you do if the world’s a problem, but fight it?

 

You have a problem, Noel?” said Rogue.

“Sure. Ever since me Mam died, I reckoned you were the next best thing,” Noel smiled, “Or the same best thing, whatever. My problem is with all-a’ things people have been saying that happened. Khadir got there late, so don’t know too much. But there’s people going around saying you were killing people, and a lot of tripe that I found hard to believe,” he looked up, “I think there was a guy who said he saw you grow another head and bite it off. But that’s not important. My problem is I’m scared for you. I’m scared for a lot of things. About everything really, now that I think about it.”

“Even someone like you can be scared, Noel?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I don’t know, you just… You just never seem to be the kind of person that cares. You’re the kind of person that just does.”

“You make me sound like a robot, ma’am.”

A smile played on Rogue’s lips, “…Robots…” she murmured.

“Ma’am?”

 

“Hmm? Oh, nothing,” she said, “Just a very fond memory of Star Wars.”
“What all-a’ them goofy actors, with their goofy costumes, and their goofy robots and goofy aliens, playing sword with goofy weaponry to play out a bleedin’ goofy story-line?”
“Noel, please: Don’t embarrass yourself.”
“Ma’am, I wasn’t the one that had the fond memory of some goofy space-battle of the apparent goofy future.”
Rogue shook her head, “My point was that I just… I never thought that you had too many remorseful feelings. Like fear and worry.”

“I be just as human, ma’am.”

“I know. But I always picture you as someone who was severely sugar-coated at birth.”
 

Noel snorted, “That a good thing?” he waved away the question, “Nah, emotion of that caliber is important in so many respects, ma’am. How do you show that you actually care of you don’t cry? Or worry? Or fear? I mean, I think I’d rather cry when someone dies, than stand around and pretend that I felt absolutely nothing. Show’s I be far removed from some goofy robot, don’t it?”
Rogue was silent.

“There was something me Pa used to tell me, before, you know, he told me I ought to go and join the Syrian mercenaries – because he thought I was downright too goofy to achieve anything ‘important’,” said Noel, “He used to say, ‘Noel, laddy, you’d better be prepared to live, because life is a struggle. If the goings be easy, then they be easy – but if the going is tough, be prepared for it’,” he paused, “He made me sleep on the floor for about a month after that.”

 

If the going is tough, be prepared for it.

 

“Thank you, Noel,” said Rogue, “For finding me.”

“’Tis always a pleasure, talking to ye,” he said, “Should I go back? Should I tell ‘em I found you?”

“Yes, tell them,” said Rogue, and as an afterthought added, “But not if Richard is there. I’m coming. I just have some… thinking to do.”
“Aye, a’right. Just so you know, none of us be all too fond of ol’e Dickey-boy. We’ve always know’d that something inside bothered you, but it’s far from bothering us,” he got up to leave.

“Noel?”

“Yes, ma’am?”

“I’m going to have a long word with your father. He seems to have greatly misjudged you.”
“I beg-yer-pardon?”

She didn’t repy.

 

* * * * *

 

“What do you mean none of you found her?” bawled Richard.

The mercenaries looked at each other.

“What can we mean, other than what we mean?” said Hans, indignantly, “We didn’t find her, so we didn’t find her.”

“She has been in a lost state of mind! She–”

Berhabs,” said Khadir, angrily, “she no wish to be found!”

Doesn’t wish,” Noel corrected him silently, “doesn’t wish.”
“You,” said Richard, stabbing a finger at Khadir, “appear to be hiding her! She is a madwoman on the loose! She cannot be–”

 

“What is going on here?”
 

The mercenaries drew up straight like toy-soldiers; still, straight and impassive, on hearing the voice.

Rogue strode towards them, covering the distance quickly, “Everyone inside, please,” she pointed towards the barracks, “Get an early start on sleep. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.”

The mercenaries did as they were told, though Khadir lingered for a moment. She shook her head slightly at him, and he went off with the others.

“Rogue,” said Richard, “I have a thing or two to say to–”

She walked passed him, not acknowledging him in the slightest.

“Rogue!” he growled.

She stopped in her tracks, “Hmm?” she said.

“Don’t you need to account for–”

“I have a war to prepare for. I haven’t got time for your nonsense right now, Richard.”

“You attacked me!”

“I was in a shaky state of mind.”

“You should be–”

 

“Arrested for assault? Thrown into an institute? Hanged for witchcraft?” she snorted, walking away again, “Tell it to the sovereign nation, brother, this here’s an anarchy.”

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