Her eyes were red, dark red, the colour of blood. She had an ethereal aura which seemed to reciprocate the outwardly surroundings. She seemed so imperfect with the trees, and yet she looked as if there was no better place she'd rather be in. Her clothes reeked of a smell unknown to Rogue, and was demeaning to all the rumours Rogue had heard about this ancient and mysterious woman. She was scary, and her bloodshot eyes did not help her appearance at all. All in all, she was a perfect image of how Rogue expected the witch she feared to be.
Her clothes were in tatters, and it looked as if she hadn't been near anything living for a while. She heard a ghostly tapping as the hag approached them. Oh, what had Rogue got them into?
“Come follow me” she croaked in a guttural voice, motioning to them to follow her into what looked like a cave between the trees. Surely they weren't going there? Thankfully, Aerys spoke out, saving the lot of them from going into the cave. “Whatever business we have with you, and you have with us shall be cleared out here in the open.”
Suddenly, the witch’s feature’s relaxed and she did something unexpected. She smiled. “I won't harm you child, and it’s safer on the inside. No one knows what creatures lurk around in these shadows.” and then she said “I think we have a certain prophecy to talk about.” she said pointedly looking at Eris who gasped. How did the witch know?
They followed the woman as she made her way into the cave. The cave though gloomy from outside was well lit. There was a fire burning, and smoke went out through a hole in the top. They hadn't made out the smoke because the canopy of trees made it look like dust. Looking at the fire, Rogue was reminded of the nights at home, sitting beside the fire and talking to Aerys.
“Sit down, sit down. Let me share with you a ballad. I am sure you have heard of it, but listen to it nevertheless.” And with that, she launched into a ballad in a soft lilt.
Once upon a time,
There lived a prince,
In a faraway land,
Of words and bliss.
“Oh yes you will,
As long as the birch tree your father slayed,
Oh yes you will,
As long as the life your mother craved.
Puzzled he was now,
Cackling she was,
A game of lies,
And fortune tellers dice.
“Will I be rich?”
For who doesn't want to be rich?
“Will I be rich?”
For who doesn't want to be?
Money you will have,
Friends you won't,
Back stabbed you will be,
By whom you call your own.”
And now the shock,
And her game of chance.
Rogue had never heard this version of the ballad before, and it chilled her. It seemed empty to an extent, but she guessed it was because of Eris’ hazy memory. Was the prince in the ballad the king of Ashanti? The way the witch had sang the ballad had been entrancing, and she had held their attention for the entire duration of the ballad. They had her on their side. They would have to explain the plan to her. She really seemed pretty nice. But before Rogue could say anything, the witch said. “The fortune teller was me.”
So that's why the witch had sung the ballad with such clarity and lilt. Maybe she had made it herself. Rogue looked over at Eris and Aerys who were in a trance like state. She did not know what to do next. Would the witch come with them? What powers did she have? Would she help them?
“All of you must be tired. Are you not?” the witch said to them suddenly. “You must drink this potion and then sleep. You will wake up energized and fresh. This potion will prevent you from seeing things as you sleep. This time you will have no nightmares or dreams.”
Even though it was only afternoon, the idea of sleeping without seeing anything tempted Rogue. Why not try it out? She looked at Eris and Aerys, expecting them to answer for her. The witch went deeper into the cave, and got out a tiny vial. “You first angel, she said.”
The moment she said that, Rogue knew something was wrong, but before she could do something Eris had drunk the potion. He sluggishly moved outside the cave, and fell onto a bush. He looked really sleepy, and Rogue was sure he was already fast asleep. Rogue decided they should trust the witch. She had welcomed them into her home, and she was against the king. Surely she would only help them in their quest to get their homeland back. Before Rogue knew it, even Aerys had drunk the potion and had drowsily moved out of the cave. She was the only one left.
“Are you sure that's a sleeping potion?” Rogue asked the witch, laughing uneasily. “Of course it isn't” The witch said, her expression changing from nice to evil really fast. “Your friends are in a sleep like trance, and the cure can only be found I the valley. Unfortunately, you won't make it there alive.”
Rogue gasped. Oh what she got them into? Everything she did seemed wrong. All her plans went awry. In the flash of a moment, the witch had overpowered Rogue and tied her hands, while Rogues thoughts gave her away. She had been mentally disarmed, and the witch had used that to physically disarm her. Her hands were tied to a metal rung in one end of the cave, and she was forced to sit upright in one position. Rogue wondered what she should do now. She would have to wait till the witch went out of her cave. Rogue wondered what was to become of Eris and Aerys. Where were they? Were they alright?
Eris and Aerys had been thrown into a sleep like trance. They were unaware of their surroundings, and had no inkling about the events going on around them. The only thing that could help them was a cure in the valley, and it was up to Rogue to save them now. The witch surely had plans for them, and Rogue would have to act fast. As of now, Rogue was trying to free herself. She could over power the witch, but if only she was free.
The witch stayed in the cave all day until it was nightfall. Rogue was hungry and tired, but the position she was in made it difficult to sleep. Moreover, Rogue could not accept anything from the witch for fear of getting thrown into a dreamless sleep forever. Rogue was worried, and wondered what to do next. Should she try to untie her bonds immediately or wait for the witch to move out of the cave. Rogue had to conserve energy and do whatever she could as fast as possible, lest she starve.
The night passed quickly as Rogue fell asleep out of exhaustion. The next morning, Rogue was so hungry that she decided the first thing she would do when free was to eat something.
Rogue waited and waited for the witch to go out, but she seemed to be busy in the small little cave. While she attended to her work, all Rogue could do was think, think and regret her decision that got them here.
Honestly, Rogue had expected this plan to work out, but everything she did seemed to go awry. She was stuck with bad luck all through the journey, and it made her wonder if the others would fare better without her. “Don't be so morbid.” she said to herself, wondering what to do. The witch, if on their side could have been a huge help with her potions and foresight. Unfortunately, Rogue wasn't sure witch side she was on. Was she with the king? But that couldn't be true. Evil things were at play here, and Rogue had to find out what was going on. The failure of getting the witch on their side made Rogue wonder if they should go forward with finding the warrior.
She would have to go to the valley for the cure, but what about Aerys and Eris? Should she leave them here? What if the witch harmed them?
“What will you do to Eris and Aerys?” Rogue asked the witch who was brewing a potion on the fire. Green drops spilled outside the cauldron, and an unknown stink spread through the room. It was disgusting.
“Oh you'll see in a week, but till then you'll have to wait” The witch said, an evil glint in her eyes. Rogue had seven days, and she had to escape and get the cure fast. She would leave when the witch would go outside. The task was simple, she had to go to the valley, find the cure, get help, feed Eris and Aerys the cure and then plan what to do with the witch. But things weren't going to be as simple as Rogue expected them to be. Finding the cure was going to be a troublesome task that involved dealing with the horrors of Rogue's past. She would have to be up to the task.