[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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17. 14 – Suspicion

It was raining in Masyaf. Rain in the desert of Masyaf was as scarce as snow in the British summer [but, knowing British weather, wouldn’t come as a surprise to any of its inhabitants]. It was as if heaven had a bucket, and had gathered any left-over water from the day it was created to this point in time – and the bucket was finally tipped over. The people of Maysaf stared in wonder at this, never having seen so much heavenly water in their entire lives. They put out buckets of their own, to collect water they wouldn’t, no doubt, be able to gather when the war would start. It was hard to hear anything over the pour-down, but if you were a good listener and were standing at the foot of a particular mountain, you would hear singing.

 

One single voice: “The grand old Duke of York.

Followed by a raucous chorus of deeper voices: “He had ten-thousand men!”
He marched them up to the top of the hill–”

And he marched then down again!”
And when they were up–”

They were up!”

And when they were down–”

They were down!”

And when they were only half-way up–”

They were neither up nor down!”

 

A somnolent courier from the Fortress of Masyaf watched as the legion of men in full Grecian armour marched down the mountain, listening to their tuneful singing that made their strict disciplines much more comely. He stood by the Rogue’s tent, and waited. As the slap of metal and leather on flesh, and the tramp and squelch of marching on the soaked sand became more audible, the courier stood to attention.

 

“Halt!” he heard Rogue cry. There was immediate silence, with exception to the rain, “At-ten-tion!” another stamp of feet and then silence.

“Now,” said Rogue, ripping off her plumed helmet and running her fingers through her damp hair, “It’s needless to say: the lot of you should be mighty grateful that I am not the ‘Grand old Duke of  York’. By the amount of times we sang that song, those ten-thousand men should be dead by now,” there was no laughter, “It’s no fun, making jokes and playing soldiers,” she shook her head and smiled, glad for the return of discipline, “Nobody laughs when everybody’s standing to attention! But I guess that’s how it should be. Good job, boys, take five,” no-one moved, “My, my, you lot really have smartened up,” she put a hand on her hip, smiling proudly at them, “Alright, so here’s the deal: we need to prepare for upcoming events. Split into two groups,” the crowd uniformly split into perfect halves – like the Red Sea for Moses, “And–” thunder cracked in the sky. Rogue looked up, waiting patiently, “London must be missing me,” she said aloud, tutting. She heard a few snickers here and there, but she let it pass, “Anyway: Parley, Simeon – you two are in charge,” she nodded at Khadir, “I’ll need you in my tent,” she turned back to the rest of the men, “Simeon, you take the left wing; Parley, you take the right. Lefters, make sand bags and set them on both the inside and outside of the trench. Righters, bring the tent-sets from the barracks and set up camp on the outside of the trench. After you’re all done, come back here and stand to attention. Simeon, Parley – notify me when all is completed. I will be in my tent. Is this understood?”

There was a stamp of feet, followed by a chorus of ‘Aye’.

“Are there any questions?”

Noel raised his hand, “What are we suppose to do about this bloomin’ rain?”

Rogue shrugged, “A little rain never hurt nobody,” she said, “Are we clear? Yes?” she repeated the instructions in several different languages, for the benefit of those whose English was a little shaky and then concluded, “Good. Dismissed!”

 

The mercenaries scattered to their business. It was then, and only then, that Rogue took notice of the courier. She strode up to him, Khadir following her, “Come to darken my day?” she said, smiling, “Or get some rain?”

“A little of both, ma’am,” he said. The courier spoke with a monotone, and had a very blanched facial expression.

Rogue stared at him for a while, “Come inside,” she raised the flap of her tent, “and then tell me what you have come for.”

The courier obeyed wordlessly as Rogue went and stood behind her table. Khadir stood aside and watched the two of them. The board had been restored to some order, though it was clear from Rogue’s facial expression that she wasn’t at all satisfied with her plan yet.

“So,” said Rogue, “What news?”

“Sakura sends you her greetings,” said the courier.

Rogue furrowed her brows, “Did someone die?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Then, can you not be a little more lively?”

“I’m not the animated type, ma’am.”

“Goes without saying,” Rogue muttered.

 

The courier continued, “The Lady Sakura imparts her greatest apologies on issue that she cannot attend tonight’s meeting. She has a few errands to run, and cannot respond to your invitation.”

Rogue considered this, focusing on her board for a moment, “That’s not at all like her,” she murmured, and then looked up at the courier, “Is someone coming in her place?”

“I do not know.”

“Can you ask if Enya can come in her place?”

“The Lady Enya Sanders is also occupied tonight.”

“Mitchell?”

“Him also.”

Rogue looked angrily at the courier, “May I ask as to what occupies them?”
“I have not been given this information.”
Rogue narrowed her eyes, “You’re dismissed.”

The courier bowed his head and left.

 

Rogue stood straight. What could possibly be occupying them? she thought, What could be more important than this war, at this point in time? I don’t buy it. There are other factors at work here…

 

Rogue sent for Noel. He came in, soaking wet.

“You called, ma’am?” he said, shaking his head to throw off the water that was dripping profusely from his hair, “Blast, what luck we have – raining like the monsoon in the desert! People mus’ be having seizures over this!” he regarded Rogue, who was looking intensely at her board, “Ho! What’s the matter?”

“Noel,” said Rogue, slowly, “I need you to run an errand for me. But it will include some sneaking. And perhaps a touch of creepiness,” she paused and looked at him, “It won’t be something you like.”

“I’m listenin’, ma’am.”

“I need you to go and find out what Sakura, Enya and Mitchell are doing tonight. If there’s no word of them doing anything, then come back. Don’t delve too far into the Fortress.”

Noel furrowed his brows, “Can I ask why not? We’ve always ventured freely in the Fortress!”

Rogue gritted her teeth, “Because I smell a rat.”

 

 

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