To the Rescue
Disclaimer: I own very little.
Chapter Thirty-Two: To the Rescue
Quickly, I pulled the sword out from Caspian's shoulder and tried tending to the wound. He was fighting me; however, despite the blood that was pouring from the open wound. I was nearly deaf to any opposition he gave to me.
"Rosalie-" He tried getting me to listen to him, but I was too busy yelling orders to the men around trying to get medical supplies.
"Rosalie, STOP," He told me sternly and grabbed my wrist tightly to get my attention. I looked at him, wondering why he would do such a thing. "Get the men out from the Cruels. My shoulder's not that bad…"
"Not that bad?" I asked incredulously, hardly able to think about much other than the wound. "Caspian, look-"
"No, you're still not listening. I'm going to be okay, you need to get in there and get those men out," He told me firmly, pushing me away from him.
After being separated from him for such a long time, it was painful to feel him push me away from him. I didn't want him to leave my sight, for I was still wary of if he would come back…as silly as that sounded. Reluctantly, I stood back up for I knew what needed to be done. I knew that I could not argue with him, not there. I then remembered the men that were still being brainwashed and though it may have still been too late to completely save them; we could at least try to rebuild them.
"Apollo!" I yelled, searching the crowd for the adviser. He showed himself shortly, pushing through the crowd that had congregated.
"Yes, Rosalie?" He asked like a faithful servant would do.
"I want you to take Caspian and clean up the wound, don't leave him anywhere near them," I pointed over to the group of General's men whose wrists' were being bound," Also, I need some men to follow me. I'm going to go in to the Cruels."
"Rosalie, you don't realize how dangerous-" He tried to get me to see the situation through his eyes.
"Just do it," I interrupted, hardly listening to his advice," Please."
He blinked at me, still trying to comprehend what I had just said. After he knew that he had no choice, he turned and yelled directions to the men behind me to fetch the medical supplies and tend to Caspian, who was still arguing this. He then went on to send several men to follow me to the entrance.
"I'll follow you," Stephen said, stepping forward from the line. I noticed he had a scrap over his eyebrow where someone had sliced at him.
I nodded at him appreciatively as he stepped forward. Emily was soon to follow and before I knew it, there was a good dozen of men that were behind me. Slowly, I turned to see the group of men held captive. If anyone was going to know about the Cruels, it would be them. Some of them were struggling, while others were accepting their fate. I approached one of them that was moving about greatly, not wanting to give up.
"What do I need to know about the Cruels?" I asked him, moving in close to his face.
"Why should I tell you?" He snarled back at me.
I turned my eyes to the dead man that lay with my sword still sticking out from his abdomen. Swiftly, I turned and grabbed my weapon from where it lay deep in his intestines. I turned the sword about in my hand before regaining eye contact with the burly man, taking a handful of the fabric on his collar.
"You haven't much of a choice," I waved the sword at him threateningly. "You've been there, you know what they're like. Tell me."
His confidence seemed to fade as he saw the newly bloodied sword pointed at him and gulped," You haven't a chance to go down now, honestly. Not even General could go down before the screaming silenced completely. You have until at least the morning until they'll be completely finished. Honest. Don't send anyone down there until they're finished, unless you want to die."
The man's eyes were all I needed to see in order to know that he was telling the truth. Another loud series of screams echoed throughout the village as I looked to the other men, who looked just as spooked. This news was awful for me to hear and upset me greatly.
"I'll go down there and put a stop to this," Stephen grumbled, starting to move to the rumble where the entrance was.
I turned and grabbed him by the forearm," You'll not be going anywhere. There isn't a thing you can do to stop them."
"What if they're lying, Rosalie? What if the longer we wait-" He started, but another loud piercing scream broke his sentence.
"We can't risk it, Stephen," I told him seriously" We've no choice, but to wait."
Stephen wanted to argue again, but he knew that the screams were still much too strong. We hadn't anything to fight these Cruels with and had no idea how we were to even go about stopping them. We couldn't afford to lose any men. I stepped away from the frightened man and turned directly to Stephen," Thank you for the thought, however."
I tossed the sword back into its hilt on my waist and called out," We'll set up camp here for tonight!"
Just before I was going to turn my attention back to Caspian, I looked back at the man and moved face-to-face with him once more," Should I find out that you've been lying-"
"I swear, your majesty," He said, frightened. "I'm tellin' ya what I seen."
With one more look-over, I turned my back on the man.
"Hold still," I told Caspian quietly as we sat in the upper level of the building General had once inhabited, later that evening. Caspian was sitting on the sill of the window as I dabbed salve onto the open wound that grazed his right shoulder. He winced and turned, very sensitive to any sort of touch. I placed my hand on his other, bare shoulder, trying to get him to settle down. He obviously had been lying before whenever he said that it was not that bad.
"Rosalie-" He started to object before I dabbed the wound again.
"You're being a child, Caspian. You know you have to have this to keep it from getting infected!" I scolded him, feeling more like his mother than wife.
I took the rag off the wound and dipped it into the tub of water beside me. After wrenching out the excess water, I moved it over the, now clean, wound. He shifted again uncomfortably," Rosalie!"
"Caspian, it's water. It can't hurt that miserably," I assured him, making sure there was not any excess salve seeping out of the edge.
With an disapproving look to him, I dropped the rag into the water pail and grabbed the bandages from another pail. Seeing as though I could not wrap it completely around one shoulder, as I had hoped, I weaved the bandage around the opposite shoulder before wrapping it under his arm and up over the wound. I did this several times until it was very tight and I tied the ends together.
"Much better," He said with a small smirk.
I shook my head and rolled my eyes before removing myself from the sill. Before I could leave, I saw him move forward and place a small kiss on my cheek," Thank you."
I narrowed my eyes at him," You're welcome, but had I known how difficult that was going to-"
"It was a deep cut!" He argued, trying to get me to see his side.
"That's not what you told me earlier!" I fought back, grabbing his thin white shirt from the stool in the corner. "You said it was fine. Suppose I actually had to leave you for that long, could they have been able to-"
"You're blowing this out of proportion," Caspian replied, taking his shirt from where it dangled off my arm.
"Out of proportion?" I asked incredulously." That's exactly what happened. If you said something else, please inform me of what it was."
He gaped for a moment, trying to think of what else to say to that, but at the same time; he was trying to get his shirt back on. Even though I was frustrated with him, I still had to chuckle at the sight of him trying to put one arm in the shirt with the other so tightly bandaged. With another shake of my head, I moved back to the window sill and took the shirt from him.
"We're arguing over something very childish, you realize that?" He asked me with a sigh as I maneuvered the shirt over the bandaged arm first.
Before I could come up with an appropriate comeback, I nodded my head," I know. I think we're all a little on edge now with all that's been happening."
He nodded with me as he moved his arm up the other armhole and eventually pulled his head through the top," We got the easy part done and now it's for the actual hard work….which I still haven't figured out entirely."
"You'll come up with something," I whispered to him and squeezed his hand tightly, just before there was a knock at the door.
I looked at him before looking to the door," Come in!" I called, eager to see who it was.
The door creaked open as Emily stepped through it. She smiled to the both of us as she came closer before saying," I hope I'm not interrupting anything."
"Not at all," Caspian told her with a smile on his face. "How can we be of assistance to you, Emily?"
Emily smiled again," Well, I was hoping if I could speak with Rosalie…in private, if you don't mind."
Caspian looked at me as I nodded to Emily. I got up, and I looked back at him one last time," Are you alright?"
"Of course," He replied with the same smirk on his face.
"I'll see you later," I said to him lastly before turning and walking with Emily out the door. We walked down the narrow stairwell and passed all of the men crowded in the main floor. I noticed Apollo making his way up the stairs, presumably to go and speak with Caspian.
She made her way out of the crowded room and into the fresh air outside. I was close on her tail and noticed that as we stepped outside, there were several tents to house the men that had been put up outside the village, which was not nearly as explosive as it had been. The fires were now much more diluted as our men were tossing buckets of water onto them.
Emily continued walking, looking back periodically to make sure I was still following. She walked through the camp where the men were speaking very loudly and obnoxiously, though I couldn't be very upset at them for they had been through quite a bit over the last few months.
She did not stop to answer even one of my many questions until she reached the small brook that ran through the valley. The moon shone down on the trickling water, making a reflection. Rocks jutted up piercing through the thin layer of water running over the top and around the side of them.
"Rosalie, you're going to think I'm absolutely ridiculous," She said, shaking her head as she looked up, as if she were trying to figure out what she was doing.
I looked at her with a smile on my face as I picked up a rock on the ground," Well, I already think that…."
"Gentle, gentle," she laughed, as she sat down against the trunk of an enormous tree. "You know, I really have a lot to thank you for, you realize that right?"
I tossed the small stone into the brook and watched the splash," You really don't have-"
"Yes, I really do," She insisted, continuing on. "I never took much pride in anything before I met you, Rosalie. Of course, as a servant, we are to take pride in our work, but I never had any pride in myself nor did I have any real relationships with people."
There was no way that I could have responded, so I allowed for her to continue as I tossed another rock or two into the brook.
"I would have never known how to stand up for anything or anyone, but now I feel completely different. I can't really explain it, but I feel like this is my duty," She paused for a moment, trying to gather her words. "Anyway, that isn't really what I wanted to talk to you about."
A small chuckle escaped my lips," What is it you would like to discuss?"
She adjusted herself nervously in her place," Have I ever told you how absolutely perfect you and Caspian are together?"
I found there to be irony in this statement, one due to the fact that we almost ruined our relationship at first and two because we were having an argument just before she opened the door to fetch me earlier. Still, I found no sense in telling her either of these for the time being.
"Emily, I hardly think-" I tried, but she was persistent.
"No, it's really too adorable when the both of you together…envious almost. I never thought that I would ever be able to feel the way that the both of you feel for each other, but I think-" The conversation seemed to be taking a rather drastic turn. Never would I have thought that Emily would be talking to me about this. "That I can. Actually, I think that I have and am having these feelings."
It was as though every thought I had about her and Stephen had just been indirectly verbalized.
A smile moved to my lips again," Stephen," I said.
I watched as she nodded her head like a little girl would. I think I even heard her giggle.
"Is it that obvious?" She asked meekly, obviously embarrassed.
"Well," I started, thinking of how I was to word that. "I'd have to say yes."
She shrugged her shoulders before exclaiming," It's so odd! Rosalie, one moment, I didn't like him and didn't trust him, but the next…I had these feelings developing for him. It was whenever you were trapped in the tavern…we talked for such a long time that I felt as though I had known him for ages and that all of the bitter feelings I had from before were gone. It's odd…completely odd."
I thought for a moment about how Caspian and I had developed our relationship…it was no where near normal to say the least.
"I think that's normal with love…Caspian and I didn't really have the best relationship for a while, Emily," I explained to her," Whenever we were fighting Miraz, Caspian was in love with Queen Susan, Emily. I was actually convinced that I was in love with High King Peter…and as you can see none of that worked out, but love is odd. Don't feel too weird about it because it's suppose to be that way…I think."
"You talked about that before, but I guess that does prove how odd love is," Emily said, looking away again. "I just don't know if it's for real or not just because it's happened so soon, but I've never felt so much concern for anyone. Earlier, when General was threatening Stephen, I wanted nothing more than to take him on myself. I felt such a protection for him…it's so sudden that I don't know if it can be real. I just wanted to speak with you about it."
I turned and placed a hand on her arm," Listen, Emily, I can't make a decision for you as to how your feelings go, but I can tell you that you'll know when you've fallen for someone. I think that love breaks all rules we have. It doesn't have a limit and nor does it have a time line; when it comes…it comes. I think you should wait and see how your emotions pan out. After all of this is over, you'll know how you feel. You will know once and for all."
Emily looked over at me and beamed," Really?"
"Really. I'll always be here for you to talk with though, always know that," I said to her, still smiling.
Slowly, I got up and offered my hand to her. I thought that we needed to at least get some sleep before the morrow. The next few days would be quite tiring and we would need all of the sleep we could get.
She took my hand and stood up," Thank you again."
"Don't thank me," I said, turning my back to the brook and starting back toward the village. " You discovered this on your own, Emily. I helped very little."
She sighed as she walked alongside me in the moonlight," You think that we will survive this, Rosalie?"
I looked ahead and saw that some lanterns were still burning outside of the soldier's tents, hearing some conversation," There is hope, Emily. That I'm sure of."
The next morning, as the sun broke through the horizon, there was the sound of nothing. Absolute silence filled the air. No screams, nothing except the sound of my own breath and the soft sound of Caspian's breathing from beside me. I got up out of the makeshift bed that lay on the hard ground of the building.
This was the morning that we would once and for all rescue the men that were trapped underground.
I rolled out of the blankets and walked over to the window, seeing that all that remain in the city was the black ash and soot of burnt buildings. Of a city that once was a home to many.
I heard Caspian shuffle before I heard him greet me," Good morning."
"Good morning," I answered, looking back to see him trying to pull himself into a sitting position with the awkward bandage.
Tenderly, I moved back over to him and helped him to sit up. After being able to sit up, he was able to get to his feet on his own accord. It was rather funny to watch him try and get up, but I didn't want to scare his pride any.
"Can you really fight like this, Caspian?" I asked him with a sigh as he walked over to try, once more, to pull his shirt on.
He was silent as he successfully was able to stick his bandaged arm in first and then proceed to stick his other arm and head through," I can put a shirt on by myself. That was only a matter of hours, so I assume that I will be prepared enough for battle."
I moved toward him and straightened out his loose, crinkled shirt," Putting on a shirt requires very little talent….fighting does."
He looked at me with all jokes aside before moving to the window," I know that, but we have another two days before we make an appearance at Telmar. If I take no extreme movements for this time, then I should be alright."
I stayed where I was and leaned against the wall," Please, don't Caspian. If you aren't healed, then you must promise me that you'll retreat or surrender."
He vigilantly placed a hand on the side of the window sill as he formed it into a fist," I can't let him get away with this, Rosalie. You know that."
"I do know that," I replied," But if it is too hard for you then allow the rest of us to handle it. Allow us to take care of him. It's not worth placing yourself in an even more vulnerable state."
Caspian was silent as he pounded his good fist against the wall again," We'll see, but now we've a group of men to rescue."
He turned on his heel and walked out of the room.
Several hours later, we were all in our armor once again and prepared to take on the day. I stood next to Emily as the men were taking off the rubble that stood piled on top of the entrance to where the Cruels dwell deep underground. The men told us that the entrance was underneath where the tavern used to be.
We hadn't heard anyone scream for many hours and we were assured that it was safe. In order to protect ourselves, we agreed to send the men of General down first. It took several moments and several large men in order to move away all of the debris, but soon we were standing in front of the entrance that appeared to be a trap door.
"Open the doors and lead us down!" Caspian called out, clutching his shoulder just before following the sketchy leaders.
One of the scraggly men pulled open the trap door and lead the way. Several others passed in front of me; I waited for Emily. We both followed behind Apollo, Caspian, and Stephen. Several other leaders of the army followed behind us as we made our descent. As soon as we stepped down, darkness seemed to surround us. Luckily, the men at the front were carrying torches, as were the men behind us.
"I don't like the feel of this," Emily whispered to me as the temperature dropped the farther we traveled down the dark, wet stairs.
"Nor do I," I whispered as I passed through a thick spider web.
We kept close to each other for the entire way down the stairs. I was regretting every step. Life seemed to disappearing as we went farther down and I wondered if this was really just some sort of trap. Granted, we had heard the screams the days before…but I wondered if that was all just a ploy. Had Aslan been wrong?
"We've reached the bottom! Watch your step," Apollo called back to the rest of us.
The man lit up the bottom of the stairwell. It was hardly a step, but more of a ledge that we would have had to jump from. Trying to spot just where I was going to land, I tossed myself from the semi-steep ledge and landed harshly onto my feet, feeling joints pop after the impact.
It was at this moment that I saw the group in awe as they stared over one of the ledges into what appeared to be a dark pit. The ground was a slick stone, that anyone could have easily slid off of and the walls and ceiling were rock that was jutting out here and there, very dangerous. In the pit, appeared to be almost two or three troops of men.
"There they are," I heard the man up front grumble to Caspian. " Can I get out of here now?"
"No," Caspian said, grabbing the man by the forearm and still staring into the pit of men, who seemed to be wearing blank expressions on their faces. "You're staying."
The man let out a groan as he slumped back into place beside Caspian. I was amazed by the size of the cavern and by how many men there really were inside this cavern. Some of these men must have been in there for much more than four days, for their clothes were torn much worse than the others. They all, still, wore the exact same expression of blankness.
"What am I to do to win their allegiance?" Caspian asked, almost as if he was wondering aloud to himself.
Stephen elbowed his way closer to Caspian before saying," If I remember correctly, then you are to speak to them. They are not very stubborn, obviously."
"Oi! Yes, but not in here. You start your little spiel and we're going to have a mess of Cruels on our hands," The dirty man spoke up. "Get them out of here first. I'll lead the way once more."
Slowly, the man started to edge his way down one of the steep drop offs. Caspian was next and I couldn't help but hold my breath as he did so. His shoulder seemed to prove him with no problems for he made it to the bottom. One by one we followed them until we were on the bottom floor, standing just feet from the crowd of men who seemed to be staring off into space. Had I not known otherwise, I would have thought they were all standing dead with their eyes open.
"Now, come along," The man whispered to the first man he saw, very gently as if he was not wanting to frighten him. He then turned to Caspian after he got the man's attention," You see, it's a chain reaction…they see one of their mateys going, then they go along too."
As if under an enchantment, the men started following the man up the drop off, careful not to fall as they did. The rest of us could only stare in amazement as one by one the Cruels' cave was emptied.
Just as the last man was being sent back up, a scream could be heard. An earsplitting scream that pierced through the silence.
Stephen took a deep breath in as if he had been expecting it," The women."
"What do you mean?" Caspian asked, looking rather shocked.
"I remember what Jacob had talked about the entire time…why it was essential for them to take a group of women down as well," He muttered aloud to himself as another scream echoed through the caves. "Jacob made a deal with the Cruels, for however many men he got to take back…they would sacrifice half that number of women. It's the Cruels' payment. That's what you're hearing. That's why they emptied the entire town into this-"
Another scream was released as one of the large stone structures in the back started to shift.
"We've got to get out of here," Stephen said under his breath before yelling, "C'mon!"
He started sprinting back up to the drop off, careful not to make one wrong movement.
Before Caspian followed, he couldn't help but look back," B-but the women? They're just to be left?"
Author's Note: I feel like this chapter was all over the place, but we're still setting up for the ending…which is going to start in the next chapter! I'm guessing that I have four LONG chapters left, including the epilogue. That's an estimate right now though…
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