[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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21. 18 – Philosophy Bombing

Rogue was about to turn and climb down from her mountain refuge, when she heard shuffling. Her senses sharpening in an instance, she picked up her baseball bat and held it poised, ready to bash the brains of some enemy spy.

“Name yourself!” she said.

“Huh? What? Oh–!” the cowled figure ducked quickly as Rogue swung the bat in his direction, “It’s me! It’s me! Darim!”

 

Rogue took a few deep breaths before relaxing and lowering her weapon, “Darim?” she said through clenched teeth, “What the hell, man! I would have hit your head for a sixer! What are you doing up here?”
Darim was staring at her, slightly entranced by something. Rogue self-consciously picked up her red shawl and placed it around her shoulders, covering herself.

“My eyes are up here,” she said.

“Huh, wha? Oh, sorry,” Darim flushed red, “Women don’t run around dressed like that in the eleventh century.”
Rogue shook her head, “Answer my question.”

“What question?”

“What are you doing up here?”

“Erm… What are you doing up here?”

“Clearly looking at someone who has yet to hit puberty,” Rogue muttered, putting a hand to her head – exasperated by the surprise and sudden fear.

“I wish you wouldn’t say that,” sighed Darim, “I’m twenty-five!”

“Wouldn’t matter,” said Rogue, reseating herself on the ledge, “Men don’t mature.”
 

“Are you one of those, then?” said Darim, sitting next to her, “One of those women that refuse to marry or, er, you know…” he shook his head and continued, “because she hates the likes of all men?”

“Hate them? Why would I hate them?” said Rogue, she stretched out her arm and pointed to all of the tents lined up near the tent, “I just said they’re immature. If I spent all my time thinking about how I hated men, I’d never get anything done. Nor would anyone else for that matter.”

“So you do hate them, I mean, us?”

“No,” said Rogue, “I just haven’t thought about it.”

“Then, what have you been thinking about?”

“Really? That’s your question?”

“Well, excuse me – but you’re forty, or near-forty or whatever–”

“Oh, come on, not this again!”

 

“Most women are dead in my time by that age. They get married off at thirteen, fourteen, sometimes even less! It’s all they ever think about. It’s all they ever talk about. Marriage and children. And yet here you are saying that you’ve never given it a thought – it’s alien to me.”

“It’s not just in your time, Darim.”

“What?”

Rogue looked at him, a sad smile on her face, “My maternal grandmother was married off at the age of twelve or thirteen. Not that that’s allowed, but no-one cares what happens in a village. Her father put her down as eighteen on the marital contract. My aunts were no better off. One was married off at fifteen. My mother was lucky that she was twenty by the time she married my father. My fate would have been the same had certain predicaments not arose.”

“Such as?”

“Such as? Lots of things. Moving to Great Britain, studies, elder cousins that wanted a more chronological marrying off – oldest-married-off-first sort of thing. Oh, then there was the thing where nobody really wanted a thirteen year old bride running around her in-laws’ British house, especially not one with a quirky, sarcastic, insufferable attitude.”

“Is that how you hoped to treat your in-laws?”

“Isn’t that a question dependant on a whole load of factors?” she shrugged, “I know what the in-laws from my country are like. You don’t want to know about them.”

 

“But that was when you were thirteen. What about now?”

“Now? I have mercenaries and giant pets and wars and fat cigars to worry about. I really don’t need an arrogant buffoon of a husband and a band of disobedient children,” she scowled, “I have Richard and my boys for that.”

“So you do hate men.”

“Not generally. Some are alright. Khadir’s alright. You’re alright. Even Noel is alright. But the man my parent’s would expect me to bunch with? That’s the kind of person Richard is. Someone who can try to ‘assert’ his authority over me. Frankly, if I was married to him, I’d be dancing all over his grave by now. Or stamping and tramping and knifing it. Whatever,” Rogue shook her head, “Only God knows how Myra puts up with him. I almost feel bad for putting them together in the first place.”

“You seem to have a very… negative image of your own parents.”

“It’s one of life’s wars you can simply not win,” Rogue shrugged, “You do what they tell you, or you’re screwed. They’re still set back in their illogical ways, they still live back-home when they’ve gone through plenty of bitter English winters. Not that I didn’t like them. I still love my father, I still love my mother – even though one of them never did like me, and the other started hating me when I left home. It’s just the way things are. I think I hide my identity more for their sake, than for my own.”

 

“You left?”

“Unconventionally.”
“Ah,” said Darim, “You’re a runaway.”

Rogue shrugged, “I’m a lot of things I’m not proud of.”

“It just…” Darim looked puzzled, “It seems a whole lot for one woman.”

“It’s a whole lot for a man too,” Rogue laughed, “No one knows how to live anymore. Survive, I mean. No one can forage, hunt, clean, treat – no one can do anything anymore, unless they live in the desert or the arctic. It’s a pity. It’s a shame. People have grown so used to living with, that they’ve forgotten that some time will come when they will have to live – without.”

“Is this why you’re here?” asked Darim, sceptically gesturing at the mountain, “To think on how you’ve achieved so much?”

“Is that the impression you all get? I haven’t achieved much, not unless you count getting a whole lot of good people angry or dead. I’m up here to beat myself up for that.”
“And that’s… healthy?”
“No.”

“So why do you do it?”
Rogue looked at him wearily, “You ask too many questions. Yet, you still haven’t answered mine.”
“Answer me and then I’ll answer you.”

Rogue resisted the urge to throw him off the cliff, “Because I have to. I have to acknowledge the things that I’ve done wrong are things that are wrong, and the things that I’ve done right are things that are right. That way I can look at the things that I’m going to do, come noon,” she nodded to the tents below, “with a clearer head. So I can tell apart what’s right and what’s not. Now, it’s your turn.”

 

Darim hesitated, “What was your question again?”

Rogue hefted her baseball bat, “Darim…”

“Oh, come on, you wouldn’t.”

She beat the bat on her palm gently, “Don’t try me…”

“I’m just here to… um, check on you,” Darim smiled sheepishly.

“For a man from the eleventh century, you should know better than to spy on an unmarried woman. On anyone, actually.”

“We’re at war…”

Rogue tilted her head to a side, “Would that have been your excuse if I’d leapt at you and beaten your head to pulp with a wooden bat?”

“I think that question is a little moot…”
Rogue considered that, “Fair point.”
“I’m, it’s just, er…”

“Save it,” Rogue raised a hand, “I haven’t got the space in my mind for your pre-pubescent infatuations.”
“But–”

 

Rogue got up and looked out at the tents again. It felt good to see everything from a high point. The enemy encampment looked smaller, less threatening. But then, her own camp looked all the more scant and innocent. Far off, she recognised Bartolomeo’s tents. She wondered for a moment if the enemy had noticed them and if they’d figured out what their purpose was. She wondered if she’d underestimated the WD.

“You’re worried,” said Darim.

“What’s life, but a big worry?”

“Not much fun, from the way you’re saying it,” Darim muttered.

“Who has time for fun?” Rogue shrugged, “It’s a big façade, a big show we make of it. This ‘fun’ that everyone’s after. It’s only too bad that it never, ever, ever lasts for more that a dime’s-worth of life.”

“What are you talking about? Dime’s-worth?”

“Life cannot be measured in hours or days or years. Well, it can – but it’s not accurate. Why do the tedious parts of our lives appear long, when the happiest moments appear short? Because that’s how we measure them. Experience is the metre-stick of life. And what wins out in the ‘longest part of life’ competition? Worry, stress, sadness, anguish. Fear. And fun? A mere ha’-drop in the ocean of life. The biggest loser. Life isn’t for the impetuous, the impulsive, the pleasure-seeker. They don’t live long.”

 

Darim blanched and stared at Rogue, “What is wrong with you?”

Rogue laughed at his expression, “There’s a long list of things, I think I have them noted in my study somewhere. Take your pick, it might take you a while to get through the list, though.”

“Someone like you ought to wonder why you are still alive!”

“And you assume I haven’t wondered?”

“If you have, what’s your conclusion?”
“My conclusion?” Rogue furrowed her brows and gave a condescending look at Darim, “Why should I have to answer to you?” she said, “Why should I have to answer any of the things I’ve answered thus far?” she slapped her head and rolled her eyes, “Why am I still talking to you!”

Darim sensed that he’d touched a nerve, “I didn’t say you had to answer. Just… your ideals… they’re so… so… Templar.”
 

That drew her up short, “I’m sorry, what?” she said angrily.

Darim raised his hands up and back away a little, “Just an opinionated opinion, nothing else, I swear!”

“What’s Templar about me?”

“The strictness of everything. The discipline. The negativity. In everything. You have to be the biggest hater of humanity I’ve ever met! You just said that impetuous people didn’t deserve to live! I mean, I mean…” Darim saw Rogue relax, “I mean, it’s a little odd, you know? For someone who holds the banner of ‘Nothing is true. Everything is permitted’.”

“I didn’t say they didn’t deserve to live. I said they don’t live long. Darim, come here,” Rogue pointed to the edge of the ledge, “Look at the enemy camp. Look at them and tell me what you see.”

 

Darim hesitated, but did as he was told. He peered out at the WD camp, “They’re singing and dancing.”

“Tell me about their camp structure.”

“Chaotic.”
“And their mood?”

“…Jovial.”

“What is their aim? Their cause?”

“I… I don’t know.”

“What do they fight for? What do they want Masyaf for?”

“I… I suppose they just want a stronghold.”

“But why?”

“To defeat your Emperor-fellow.”

“But why?”

Darim paused, then frowned and shook his head.

 

“This,” Rogue gestured to the enemy camp, “is what happens when nothing is true, and everything is permitted.”

“Now hold on just a second–”

“Please, let me finish,” said Rogue, “These men that fight on the side of the enemy, fight for a fickle disagreement. They don’t fight for a cause. Their masters were singers, songwriters – and the Emperor took distaste in their work, and so banned them. He didn’t call for their blood, where in many other places he did. Catholics, Mormons, Animists, Rohingas – they were killed on Smith’s orders or by those of his associates. But the WD don’t fight for those who have been far greater wronged. They fight because they want to. Because they think it’s alright. Because it’s permitted. They don’t have a cause, just a grudge that they can’t seem to get rid of. To them, there is no cause, because nothing for them is true. Their just a bunch of mindless animals that can’t get their scrap of meat from a bigger animal, but they won’t let up even though they can easily get food from elsewhere.

“This is the result of our banner, misinterpreted. Yes, Darim – they hold the exact same banner. This is what the world would look like, if nothing was true and everything was permitted. Chaos. Confusion. Mindlessness. They’re a bunch of singers, going to war, because they can’t sing anymore,” Rogue looked amused, “not that they ever could.”

 

“But… are you saying that everything we’ve been fighting for is meaningless?”
“What? No. Your father and your fore-fathers had good intentions in what they were trying to bring to their people. Like Carl Marx and Communism – I’m sure his intentions were right, but you wouldn’t know about him just yet. I appreciate their intent, and give them the benefit of doubt that they meant well. But I do feel that a certain level of… change is required in our cause. Not that the Assassin’s ever had a doctrine of sorts – but discipline is necessary. Order is necessary. It stops disorganisation, it stops chaos. Now that you’ve mentioned it, it does sound Templar. But both ideologies are on extremes. Surely there’s a common ground. But what am I,” she raised her hands and shrugged her shoulders, “if not a Rogue? It’s a real wonder – I sound like Haytham Kenway! I’m no leader. I’m no Mentor. I don’t hold the keys of the Creed. I’m merely a soldier, who’s just trying to do the right thing.”
 

“But… you said… you built Masyaf. You brought it back.”

“And what is Masyaf, if not a stronghold? And what is a soldier without a barracks? Sure, I don’t operate there – anymore. But that’s what I wanted. A stronghold. Because too many bad things were happening and I got bored while waiting for a hero to come along and save us.”

“But… But… It doesn’t make any sense!”

“What doesn’t?”
“Everything! You don’t adhere to the Creed, and yet you use it’s birthplace as a stronghold!”

“Wasn’t it your father that said that Masyaf should be abandoned, because it was a sign of great arrogance? That the Creed should spread throughout the world, rather than be cooped up in one building?” Rogue paused, “Or hasn’t that happened yet…?”

Darim relaxed a little, “He… he says that? Masyaf is abandoned?”

“I don’t know if I’m allowed to tell you. No, I wouldn’t say it was abandoned… but I think I’ll leave it to you to wait and see,” she touched his cheek, “You’ve a hard life ahead of you, Ibn LaAhad.”
 

There was a pause and then Rogue pointed to the sky, “The sun’s well up. I should get back to camp, have the boys march,” she regarded Darim with an emotionless face, “Please stop shadowing me,” she got up and kicked the dirt beneath her feet, “Darim… you asked why I choose to continue living. You asked what my conclusion was to all my wonderings. I believe everyone is put in the situation they are for a purpose, and the way the take it leads to a much larger result – regardless of the insignificance of the initial action,” she nodded down the mountain, “This is mine.”

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