[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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25. 22 – Reconcile

“Is he alright?”

 

The physician of Rogue’s barracks looked up from his work and readjusted himself in his seat. She was wearing long sleeves – something of a rarity when it was this early on a Sunday morning – a black polo-neck and loose cotton trousers held by a simple belt. She had her red shawl draped around her shoulders, an edge of which was half-covering her head. She was holding a bouquet of flowers, incense sticks and small comb. Rogue waited patiently for the thin, wiry man to reply.

 

“Strange,” replied the physician, “you’re not the biggest of my fans, are you?”

“I’m more of a fan-emy,” she replied.

“Indeed. Why are you here, mighty commander?”
Rogue scowled, “Mockery is unbecoming of you.”

“As is your presence here.”
“I’m not here to get treated,” she said softly, “I’m here to see someone.”

“May I ask who?”

Rogue paused, “Altair.”
“Ah, wounded calf?”

“Aye.”
“I would like to kindly remind you that we did the best that we could do.”
Rogue’s eyes widened a little, “Is he alright?” she repeated, with more concern.

“Hmm, oh yes, yes of course,” the physician chuckled, “He’s in the third room on the left corridor. But I think he might be asleep.”
Rogue sighed, “Thank God for that.”
 

She made her way passed. The physician was right – Rogue was not his greatest admirer. But she was grateful for his existence. If anything, she should be more grateful – the many lives that he’d saved now and before and inevitably in the days to come. But her fear of him caused a certain rupture in any bridge of friendship that he may have tried to construct.

 

Rogue knocked lightly on the door, before waiting and then letting herself in quietly.

He’s asleep, she thought, sighing in relief, good. And he doesn’t look as drained.

She unwrapped the flowers and placed them in the ceramic vase sitting on the bedside cabinet. There was a tray next to the vase on which sat a small cup and a pot for distilling water. There was also a cube of rather redundant-looking wax. She stuck the incense sticks in the wax and lit them. They burnt slowly and softly, wisps of smoke trailing out of them.

She took the comb and slowly dislodged the knots in the old man’s hair and beard. He muttered a little in his sleep, but he didn’t wake. As an afterthought, Rogue went into the bathroom and poured some warm water into a bucket and drenched a face towel in it. She wringed the towel and dabbed it on Altair’s face – cleaning away the sweat on his countenance and the dust that had gathered in the corner of his eyes. She put the utensils away, and brushed back Altair’s hair with her hand.

She kissed him lightly on his wrinkled forehead, “Peace and safety, I pray, Jaddee,” she whispered in Arabic, “and forgiveness, I beg.”

Rogue straightened, turned her head to a side, cracking her neck, before spinning around preparing to leave.

 

“Darim…?” Rogue heard Altair stir, “Darim, is that you?”

Oh, fit! thought Rogue.

“No,” Rogue mumbled.

“Ah, Mariqah,” he called, “Ta’ali. Come.”
Rogue looked back, and then dragged her feet towards the bed. She poured some water into the cup and raised the old man’s head so he could drink.

Altair took small sips, “Sometimes I wish I had a daughter, as opposed to a houseful of sons,” he smiled at her, “whatever any culture might say about them, sons lack in all the departments daughters flourish in. When daughters can easily fill in the blanks of a son.”

 

Rogue fixed her eyes on the floor.

Altair frowned, “Mariqah?” he said, “Have I done something to upset you?” he tried to get up.

“No!” said Rogue, with urgency. She set him down gently, “No, father, you aren’t well enough to rise.”

“Did you just call me father?”

Rogue’s mouth parted, but she hesitated and looked at the ground again.

Mariqah, look at me,” she looked at him, “Ijlis. Sit.”

Rogue hesitated again, but sat on the bed, looking at her hands.

The old man grasped her hand, “Do not blame yourself for this, Mariqah.”

“I don’t, Jaddee.”
“Then why so glum? Limaadha?”

“Lots of things, Jaddee.”

He paused, trying to get his head into her line of vision, “Tell me about them.”

Rogue shook her head.

 

He sighed, “Now I remember why I don’t have daughters,” he chuckled lightly, “Come on, help an old man sit up.”

Rogue stood and took an arm and helped Altair into a seated position. He gasped as his wound touched the cover.

Asifa,” said Rogue, as she readjusted the sheets, “Sorry.”

“No, no,” Altair waved his hand in front of her, “don’t give me that look without an explanation,” she made to leave, “and please don’t make me follow you out.”
Rogue stopped, “You are not well.”
“I know. But you need not fret. I’m in capable hands. My wounds will heal. A scar is hardly something to make a fuss over. Even if it is a particularly ugly one.”

Rogue didn’t reply.

Ta’aal,” he patted the bed, “Come. Sit. I know he hurt you. I know I hurt you. You’ve been hurt far more than its worth of late, but you can’t let that… erm…”
Rogue regarded him, “I can’t let it what?”

“Get to you.”
 

“But it’s already gotten to me. It’s already here,” she sat down beside him and pointed at her forehead, “and here,” she pointed to her chest, “It’s in every strand of hair. It’s in every groove of my fingertips. It has gotten to me. It got to me a long time ago. But now,” she rubbed his injured leg gently, “it has gotten to you. It got to Vesp. It got to Squishy. It got to my soldiers. And in future, it will get to my father, my brothers, my sisters,” she sighed, “My sons, my daughters. I’m a spent bullet, a blunt sword. Everyone knows the chink in my armour, my ultimate weakness. I’ve scars by the dozens. I’ve wounds that are so deep that only God has spared me from their fatality. I’ve cuts that have festered and healed and festered again and healed. But that has never weakened my grip, never faltered my footstep. And now?” she gazed at Altair wearily, “An old man in soft speech has disarmed me. His one injury racks my whole body in chills. The thought of my dead lads makes me want to join them. I’ve yet to bury them. I’ve yet to count them.”

 

Ya Mariqah…” Altair took the spare blanket off the bed and put it around her, “you’ve paled.”

Rogue did not respond.

“I’ve no words of healing. These are wounds only time can heal. You must be patient. You must be strong.”
Rogue’s voice choked, “I’m sick of being strong.”

“Don’t say that…”
“It reminds of a time… of a time that is dead. Of a time I’ve struggled so hard to bury. Deep, deep in the hollows of my memory. But it lives now, again. I don’t want to fight it any more, Jaddee. I’m sick and tired of fighting with it. I just want to submit to it,” she bowed her head and looked away, tears rolling out of her eyes.

“Hey, no. No, don’t do that,” Altair said softly, “You cannot submit to it.”

“I… I know,” she sniffed, “I know that.”
 

“And I know,” he grasped her shoulder, “that merely knowing something isn’t enough. Give yourself time, Rogue. The wounds will heal. The memory will die again.”

She nodded and wiped her eyes with the back of her hands.

“Promise me, Rogue.”

“Promise you what, Jaddee?”
“Promise me you’ll give yourself that time. Promise me you won’t do anything for at least the next year. Nothing big. Nothing small. Nothing that will hurt you.”

“I can’t promise that. Not when I’m in Masyaf.”
“Then get out.”
“But… I can’t do that.”

 Altair remained silent as the suggestion hung in the air.

 

“I… I have to go, Jaddee,” Rogue got up stiffly, “I have an audience to address, since Jess is absent. I hope she doesn’t get into too much trouble with the Council of Time-Lords and Dimensional Shunters. But she has broken a lot of rules.”

“Alright,” he said, and yawned, “help me into bed, will you?”

Rogue smiled a little, and put the old man back in bed.

 

* * * * *

 

“You shall all return to your times and dimensions as soon as Altair Ibn LaAhad heals of his injuries. All memory of this will be erased and you shall return to your posts unaware of all the events that you’ve generously participated in. This is a measure insisted upon by Time-Lords and Shunters alike, to prevent historical contaminations and inter-dimensional rivalries.

“The lives of those that were transported at the expense of the Nazgul have been spared. It is the sole reason why a live sacrifice was required. They are being held in the Matrix, in purgatory as we speak, waiting to descend with the rest of you. This would not have been the case for those who had been manually brought here by Lia, the Abbess, Emmie and myself. This is why you must allow the aforementioned, Altair, to heal before you can return.

“Our dead, however, are indeed dead. They’re bodies still lie unburied on the site of the bloodbath. The scavengers have, at present, relented from picking at corpses, but they’ll gather soon enough. We must bury these bodies before any celebrations are held. Are we clear?”

 

There was a chorus of approval that rolled around the vast hall as Rogue jumped off the podium and picked up a shovel. She didn’t wait to give a command or anything. She made her way passed the security and into the battlefield of corpse

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