[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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16. 13 – The Negotiations

Enya Sanders was worried.

Rogue had spent three days in a tent outside the barracks – only emerging from her hideout when there were instructions to hand out to the mercenaries. The mercenaries had up-ed their game. They’d mutually consented to be on their best behaviour. Word had it around the barracks that Rogue had acted as she had because she was too stressed-out [which was no myth, but it wasn’t legitimately the entire reason]. So the mercenaries resorted to obeying orders and following routines – and refrained from macho displays of ferocity with their other-dimensional and trans-historical counterparts. But it didn’t change the fact that Rogue was cooped up in a tent almost all the time. Only, most of the Brotherhood members were cooped up in the Bureau and in the fortress of Masyaf as Richard had ‘authority’ over them and he insisted that Rogue had ‘trespassed’ certain ‘limits of sanity’.

But Enya had finally found a reason – or an excuse – pay a well over-due visit to Rogue.

 

Khadir and Ezio walked alongside her. Khadir, because he suggested that Rogue would be far more comforted if she was spoken to in Arabic as the language was very close to her heart [a whole lot closer than English]. And Ezio, because he was sick of seeing Richard running around in similar attire to him. Though, his excuse was more about ‘getting fresh air’ mingled with several Italian curse-words.

As the trio neared the bright red tent, they saw a hazy, smokiness seeping through its entrance.

“What is that?” asked Enya.

Khadir snapped his fingers, looking for the right words, “How you say…” his face brightened, “Tobacco.”

“Tobacco?” Enya furrowed her brows, “Are you quite sure? It doesn’t smell right.”

Khadir just stared at her blankly, hopelessly at a loss for English words.

 

As there was no door to knock on, they let themselves into the tent. Through the smoke, they saw Rogue standing behind a table. Placed on it was a board, horizontally. The board was moulded, so that one horizontal side was higher than the other. On the high side and the lower side, there were several wooden pieces – much like chess pieces – configured in an apparent formation. Rogue, apparently not taking any notice of them or – worse – didn’t even know they were there, continued to look at the board motionlessly. A hand was fisted to her mouth and she bit on one of her knuckles – engrossed.

“Er…” said Enya, “Rogue? Are you–”

“Shh, shh,” said Rogue.

There was a long pause before Rogue became suddenly frustrated, and flipped the board off of the table.

“That’s it, I am done!” she half-sat, half-dropped onto the ground behind her, “I am officially pissed!”

 

“Rogue,” said Enya, as Khadir placed the board back onto the table, “What is this smoke?” she sniffed the air again, “Please don’t tell me it’s weed.”

Rogue snorted, “This must be some nice smellin’ weed you’re sniffing,” she said, catching the cockney in her accent, and then reforming it, “It’s incense. It’s suppose to help ‘calm’ me down.”

“It’s not helping?”

“Really, Enya? You know me better than that,” Rogue carcked her neck as she turned her head from side to side, “He who increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow. Nobody can better word my feelings than that. Bunch of mind games, nothing else. I should check on the boys. It’s probably getting dark.”
Enya gave her a look, “What do you mean, Rogue?”

Rogue returned the look, “What do you mean, what do I mean?”

“What I mean to say is, what you mean by–” Enya shook her head, “Rogue, it’s noon.”

“Noon?” Rogue furrowed her brows, “But the sun was just about to set the last I came out…”

“You’ve been in here for three days.”

“Three days?”

Enya nodded her head.

“You’re kidding me.”

Enya shook her head.

 

Rogue got up, strode to the entrance of the tent and pulled back the flap. The sunshine streamed in.

“Well, I’ll be damned… I do not know how to respond to this…”

“How about you account for how you’ve survived for this long?”

“There was plenty of water and food in here, I…” Rogue looked confused and then at Khadir, “Thalaathat ayyaam?”

Na’am,” he replied.

Subhaan Allah!” she slapped her forehead, “I’ve been puzzling over that stupid board for this long and still: nothing!”

“Perhaps,” said Ezio, “You need a time out? Bene? It would be good for you. Get some sun.”

Rogue shook her head, “Can’t. War heading our way. Need to plan formation.”

“Rogue, signora, I–”

“Ezio, the very last thing I need is a stoll in the sunshine.”
 

“Speaking of war,” Enya interrupted, “There is some news you might want to hear.”

“I’m listening,” said Rogue.

“The WD are asking for parley.”

“They can’t have him.”

“What? No. I mean, they want a negotiation.”

“Negotiation? What could there possibly be to negotiate?”

“I don’t know, but it is a formality,” Enya went up behind her and began pushing Rogue outside, “All the others are there. You know Leonidas, Altair, Joan, Alfred, Gilray…”

“Richard?” Rogue asked coldly.

Enya hesitated, “Yes, him too.”

“But this negotiation is pointless! You know that! I am not going to go over there and talk to that looney bunch of marauders.”

“Oh, come on. Don’t be a spoilt sport.”

“Enya, my formation!”

“You destroyed it anyway, Rogue.”
“I’ve been in there for three days, I think I have it in my head. I’d rather be–”

“Oh, enough! Being around these boys has made you a right little scaredy-puss!”

“Scared! Of wasting time, maybe!”

“Just get along to the trench. Everything will be fine.”
Everything will be fine. Oh, sure! I’mma have to confront a bunch of bleedin’ genocidal maniacs because…”
 

Her voice trailed off into the distance as Enya stoically pushed her on. Khadir and Ezio shared a look.

“I should go and join them,” said Ezio.

Khadir nodded, and lingered in the tent for a while. After a moment, he picked up the white queen chesspiece from the floor and placed it back onto the board. With a smile, he quickly strode out of the tent, following Ezio.

 

* * * * *

 

It was a while afterwards that Rogue had given in and decided to walk without the assistance of Enya’s pushing [though still making a very big fuss of the whole ordeal]. As they approached the trench, the figures of people became more recognisable. On the inside stood all who needed to be there – Altair [and Darim], Leonidas, Joan, Alfred, etc – just as Enya had promised. A few of Rogue’s mercenaries stood to attention too, waiting for her, and they were holding the draw-bridge to allow the ‘messengers’ in. They hadn’t drawn it yet, however, and on the outside of the trench [to Rogue’s great annoyance] were the messengers.

 

There were three of them, one being seated on a henously thin horse. All three were dressed so absurdly, Rogue decided that they had had to come out of the Kingdom of Movellas. The man seated on the horse was portly and short, he had flaxen curly hair and a pasty, flabby face. He wore a blue uniform bearing several golden medals – which Rogue assumed was for a commanding general, but it was hard to tell since she expected a commanding general to be in much better shape. The other two were standing on either side of the horse-rider, and in sharp comparison were wiry thin and tall.

“Really, Enya?” Rogue muttered under her breath, “These are the people I’m supposed to talk to? I’ve seen caterpillars in better shape!”

Richard, who’d obviously heard her cursing, walked aside to Rogue, “Oh, isn’t it little miss special?”

 

Rogue failed to give him as much as a small glare. Instead she strode up to her mercenaries, and muttered in a lighter mood, “In good grace, just lower the damned bridge! I’ve wasted enough time pouring over my uselessness. I need to run some drills with you boys!”

“Aye,” said one of them, nodding at the others to work the bridge, “We’d all thought you died in that there tent or some’un.”
“Well, I’m glad to be with living people again,” she replied, with a smile.

“And we’re glad you be livin’, ma’am.”
Unexpectantly, Leonidas leaned in and whispered, “Why is this happening again?”

Rogue snorted, “Beats me. I was forced to come.”

“You? Really?”

Rogue stared at him, “This coming from a king of Sparta?”

He considered this, “Point taken.”

 

The bridge landed with a crash across the trench. Dust flew up, the messengers momentarily sheilding their eyes, before they began trotting their way across – looking warily at the sharp splints of cemented wood sticking out of the trench. They turned up their noses at the harsh smell of tar.

“I must admire your defence techniques,” said Leonidas, gazing at the work done in the trench.

Rogue shrugged, “The lot of you helped,” she gestured around the historical figures, “All your ideas. Put in one.”

Leonidas shook his head, pointing at the trench, “I don’t see anything Spartan here.”

“Well,” said Rogue, gesturing to her mercenraies, “We can’t have everything Spartan.”

“Ah,” said Leonidas, “Our methods?”

“Pretty much,” Rogue smiled at the thought, “No fight. No food.”

“Commended,” Leonidas punched her in the shoulder.

“Honoured,” Rogue returned.

 

“Uh-hum!”

 

Rogue rolled her eyes, “If you’ll excuse me,” she said to Leonidas, “the fat guy wants to talk to me.”

As she turned, Rogue thought: The day I turned from a fit guy in a loincloth and a red cape, to talk to a fat guy with gold medals, she shook her head, What in hell is the world coming to?

Rogue sighed and stared in the most uninterested fashion at the fat general as she could manage. Not that it was difficult.

“I am to be upstaged by a naked man?” he said, with a voice thick with saliva.

“No,” said Rogue, “Your flabs are being upstaged by them abs.”

A snigger ran through the gathering.

The fat general snorted loudly, “I am,” he said in a very Elizabethan British accent, “Sir Harry Styles-a-Lot. The negotiations are to begin now.”

Ah, Styles-a-Lot! I understand the medals now.

Rogue waited for him to continue. Apparently, Sir Styles-a-Lot was waiting for a response. His horse bridled, and trotted closer to Rogue. The fat general held out a pudgy hand.

 

Rogue looked at it for a while, before saying, “Do you eat your horse’s food too?”

Sir Styles-a-Lot raised his eyebrows, “I beg you pardon?”

“Poor animal seems mighty underfed…” Rogue mumbled.

“A hand-shake,” said the fat general, hotly, “I’m waiting for you to shake my hand.”

Rogue raised a brow, “A hand-shake is an amiable gesture. There’s only one – or maybe two – hand gestures that I’m willing to give you: and neither are in any way, amiable.”

The fat general stuck up his nose, dismounting with some effort, and snorted loudly again.

“Cecil!” he said, “Read the treaty–”

“Treaty?” Rogue interrupted, “No-one said anything about a treaty.”

“Why don’t you just listen to what he has to say?” said Richard.

Rogue ignored Richard and continued to point her rhetoric at Sir Styles-a-Lot.

 

“This is what the leading party of the Wrong Direction have drawn up,” said Cecil, one of the lanky side-guards of Sir Styles-a-Lot, “If you would care to listen?”

Rogue considered this and then conceded, “I like your manner, Cecil. Go on.”

Cecil unraveled a scroll, “The leading party,” he read, “have dictated thus: That Masyaf should be handed over to the WD army. No arms will be raised. All the women – with one obvious exception – and children will be spared and given new homes. All the men and the female exception will be executed..”

Rogue waited, unimpressed.

After a while, she said, “That’s it?”

“That’s it,” replied Cecil.

“That scroll,” Rogue indicated the paper in his hand, “that is one long-arse scroll, and that’s all that’s written there?”

Cecil nodded.

Rogue turned to Enya, “Oh, you are so darn lucky we didn’t slap-bet on this!”

“What is your reply, mercenary?” said the fat general.

Rogue stomped her way to Cecil, snatched the scroll out of his hands and read the sheet over again.

She looked up at Sir Styles-a-Lot with a disappointed frown, “Leave. Don’t waste my time. I have a war to prepare for,” she tore up the sheet and blew the pieces in his face.

 

She had just turned, when his voice rang out behind her, “You have a big rack.”

Rogue drew up short – hearing the sound of swords leaving the scabbards of mercenaries – surprised by the general’s use of language.

The general continued, “And if you know how to use it, you might just survive this whole affair. What chance do you have, really, of winning this war?”

Rogue heard growling. She turned slowly around, and touched the arms of the mercenaries, beckoning them to calm down and sheath their weapons.

She folded her arms, “Well, I try. A big rack looks…” she looked for the right words, “applicable on me. You, Sir Styles-a-Lot, on the other hand – it’s gonna take more than surgery to out-do you,” she pointed a finger at his thick chest, “Useless banter aside, I don’t see your point. Get out of here.”

“Our army surpasses yours.”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“I’m sorry?”

 

“Let me put this clearly for you, so that your fat head can read it right: I sacrificed a life to get the army I have now. A life so dear and so precious that I would slay the whole world from genesis to kingdom come, and it wouldn’t be enough to reach his purity. I am not letting that life go to waste. I am not handing out Masyaf to a bunch of mirror-glued pansies with knives, who haven’t even the decency to treat their animals right. And God curse anyone who should resort to that! What use is it for me to spare my life? If I cannot defend the land that I rebuilt? Defend an idea that I resurrected? Defend people that have done nothing in the way of any collective wrong? In all honesty, I’d rather die and mingle with the sand here, than have it trod on and defiled by your likes: without a fight.”

And that, Shakespeare, is how I hope it’s done.

“Now for the very last time,” she pointed across the bridge, “Get out,” she nodded at Khadir and said in Arabic, “Go get the boys. We have some marching to do. Yallah.”

 

“This is an outrage!” Sir Styles-a-Lot burst out, “How can you turn this offer down? More will be dead at your hand, than those that will be dead if you agreed!”

A likely story.

“And, don’t worry, there will be defiling,” an edge of menace crept into his voice, “Do you really think that the massacre of your people will be the end? There will be plenty of mutilating and defiling to spare!”

A very likely story.

“Heed my warning! Your people will suffer! Listen to me!” he growled, “This is madness!”

Shotgun.

Rogue leaned in and whispered to Leonidas, “I’m tiring of this,” she said, “Mind taking it from here?”

Leonidas proved to have a very wide grin, “With pleasure,” he cracked his knuckles and strode up to the messenger, “Madness?” he repeated, “THIS. IS. MAS-YAF!”

 

Rogue walked away, as she heard a sharp kick and the stifled cries of the messengers as they fell into the horror-written trench…

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