“We have to do it, you have to, Pa. There's no other way to do this, no other way to save South Camp." Hardiy, Rogin’s son said as they sat in the throne room in the Tower Yard. Hardiy always had an idea in his head to share with his father, and while Rogin didn't have anything against that, he knew his son's heart longed to rule South Camp, Nothumbra. And according to the customs of Nothumbra generally, once a ruler was seventy years of age, it was perceived that such a monarch is incapable of carrying out his duties to its subject, and so should hand over power to his heir or heiress. Yet Rogin would rule till the very second he died so South Campers would have happiness for as long as they could because once he was no more, things really would become different. He knew his son did not care about anyone's needs except his; that wasn't very ideal for a ruler, a businessman maybe but definitely not good for a leader. Someone hearing his forty-one year old son speaking about saving South Camp might jump to a very misleading conclusion that Hardiy cared about the land or the people in it. The man was thinking about saving his own skin, his alone. Rogin knew Hardiy only cared about the people dying because he would love to rule and it kind of beats the idea if a disease wiped them all off the surface of Castor.
“Hardiy, I need not tell you how difficult it is to go to the dominant realm, I did that in the past and we all know what happened,” He adjusted his reading glasses and coughed to clear his throat, he really didn't want to get into an argument with Hardiy. “I have gone to many realms and have come back with nothing more than fatigue, weariness, or at the very worst, a severe headache. But the dominant realm is something else, it's too dangerous, you know that.”
“I know that but I also know that people die by the day, what if it gets to us. We have to act fast, we literally know nothing of this sickness, only that it spreads and it kills its victim within four days. We need a—a hero.”
You mean I have to act fast! And you need me, right.
“No, we need a cure!” Rogin snapped
Susami walked in and sat with her face in complete confusion and fear, if she didn't care about anything, it was healing people—rather getting more respect as she healed. She was terrified, disoriented, and annoyed. That was what the Wicked Sickness had done to people, made everyone so scared, scared that one day you were happy and not much after, dead, with no hope of a cure for the living. Incendus, the god of fire, the most feared god—for obvious reasons—had sent Rogin a message, a clear and concise message that said: Save my two sons in the dominant realm, when you are ready, call on me. Rogin, save my sons and save your people, save South Camp. Rogin still hadn't told anyone about Incendus’s demand, anyone besides Juana.
He had heard that same message over and over again, the same message in his head, unchanged. And it became clear to him that the god of fire had rained this sickness that had killed many to get Rogin to bring his “sons” from the dominant realm, for reasons unknown to Rogin. Incendus was not the nicest of gods and had no worshipper for one very clear reason, he never did anyone or anything any good, and killed people like they didn't matter. No one ever went on the wrong side, or any side of Incendus, or else that person had no issue in becoming ash. No one ever went to the fire mountain, not ever, not even the dark king, Lord Dacarius. Throughout all the years Rogin had lived, even his very reckless years as a boy, he had always stayed far from Incendus. And now Incendus wanted a favour from him. Though “favour” wasn't exactly the right word to use. “Favour” meant you had a choice.
“I really don't think this sickness has a cure, I don't know what it is but I feel like it would be the end of all of us.” Susami said in melancholy, she had tried her best to save people, she couldn't even save the horses or any of the animals at all. Mother Health as she was popularly known among the South Campers was helpless. And even worse, she was very scared.
Rogin flexed his muscles and took a deep breath and casually he said, “I'll journey to the dominant realm, I'll do so in the morning.” Just saying the words had begun to make his face wet with perspiration and had made, his mischievous son, Hardiy, smiley from ear to ear. Rogin had planned for the trip for weeks now, telling only Juana of his plans.
“Tomorrow morning? I mean that's early, I mean it's fast. Are you sure about it, father? Are you prepared?” Hardiy said, pretending to care and concealing the happiness in him. He felt like jumping in joy and Rogin knew. He wasn't good at hiding his emotions. Rogin knew his son wasn't happy he still lived and that he was given a chance, he would kill him. It was, however, quite to know that and still live such a person.
“Are you sure you'll come back with a cure? Lord Rogin, you know just as much as I do about the cure and while it seems so ridiculous to say this, my healing magic is ten times stronger than yours and even I have failed to save anyone. I can't even ease their pain,” Susami thundered in anger and frustration—a lot more of the latter though. “Or do you know more than you say, Lord”
Rogin stared at her and smiled, for the first time in a long time, he saw Juana in Susami. Juana was Susami’s child, the only child she had for Hardiy. Juana was one of those children a parent would give birth to and people would wonder how such a child came through them. Apart from the fact that she was kinder and a lot more powerful than her parents, she was also too beautiful to be theirs. Rogin always told Juana that his gene flowed in her blood rather than her father's, and she'd always happily concurred.
Just as they spoke, Rogin muttered some words and he left the throne room and appeared in his study which had been locked many years ago, and the keys were lost. Though Rogin spent many hours in his study every day it was quite funny that the door had not been open for a dozen years, maybe more.
Susami and Rogin had been thinking he hadn't planned to go to the dominant realm, and that he had only made up his mind minutes ago. Fools. He had known he would go to the dominant realm, he didn't have a choice, he had to. If he didn't do as Incendus asked, he and all of South Camp would burn, and the sickness would seem like a trivial issue to them. It wasn't really up for debate, when Incendus asked you to something, it didn't matter if you were a powerful wizard like Rogin, or you didn't feel like you could do what he asked, you just did as the god requested. It really was that simple.
He had told Juana that he would go and she had begged him not to, she was the only person who saw him and considered his feelings, the only person who truly loved him from her heart. His body was old and his magic weak while he still had powerful magic, it had weakened over the years by old age. It was crazy and difficult but it would save South Camp from the genocidal acts of Incendus.
Or he would die trying, that felt a lot more plausible to old Rogin.
Juana begged him to come back alive severally in the past weeks and he told her he wasn't going anywhere, that he would be back like he always did. And he meant it more than anything, she didn't know that if he died everyone in South Camp would follow suit in no time. He had made a promise to father on his deathbed that he would keep South Camp safe and untouched by all its foes and he had done good by that promise for decades, he wasn't going to fail now. Come what may.
He started writing a letter, one that probably meant everything. He was too fancy to use the quill—well, he used it but without touching it at all, the quill dabbled words on the brown piece of paper before him, the quill controlled by his magic. Every word he wrote meant something, something more than just coming back from the dominant realm, something more than just dealing with the Incendus problem. Something that looked so little but meant so much more.
Rogin knew Juana would know if he died and exactly when it happened, she had linked her magic to his life years ago. He also knew Juana respected him and would do as he said. She was the only one who could even walk into his enchanted study and say Hardiy goes through the trouble of entering the study—by forcing every sorcerer he knows, he couldn't open the enchanted envelope in a thousand years.
He stood erect and muttered some words, asking Incense for the portal, and in less than a minute a wooden door opened into pitch blackness. He wasn't waiting till morning, he was going right away. He had to save South Camp. Once again.
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