It’s funny sometimes isn’t it, when you’re in a group of people but yet you feel very lonely. When you’re surrounded, but you feel as if you don’t belong. When your mind is somewhere else.
Aerys looked behind him as he climbed down the mountain. Eris and Rogue seemed to be having an animated conversation, and the archer and the warrior were talking about old times.
“Do you remember when...” Aerys turned away. All of them seemed at ease, like they belonged, but Aerys felt like he had left a half of himself behind in Ashanti. Even though he hadn’t been attached to his family, he missed them and for a second he regretted leaving everything. But then he hated himself for that thought, as he had helped Rogue who was more family than his family had ever been.
He had known her for a long time, and she had been there for him whenever she’s needed him. He had often gone to her house, hiding from his family, and she would always let him in.
But suddenly, Rogue seemed to be shifting attention to Eris, and Aerys had to admit he was jealous. Why couldn’t he be an angel? Or someone who could fight so well. Rogue always talked to Eris, and Aerys was always after that, Aerys hated being like that, it wasn’t a nice feeling at all.
Soon, the bad thoughts passed as Aerys wondered why his thoughts were so gloomy. Something in the forest was playing with his mind, something was making him resent his friends. Aerys was alarmed at the fact that it had been so easy to resent his friends. The feelings must have been lying dormant inside of him, and all they needed was a little growth. Eris and Rogue were his friends, and how could he resent them?
Aerys ambled on, in the lead as the others followed him. Suddenly, Aerys saw some movement in the distance, it looked like an old woman.
“Witch” he shouted in her direction, but when the others turned, she was gone.
“Aerys, are you okay?” Rogue asked concerned.
“Maybe the sun is playing with your mind” Eris said.
“Here, have some water.” Rogue said, offering her some water.
“I really saw the witch guys” Aerys protested, but he thought from their point of view. That seemed highly unlikely. Aerys rose, “Maybe I imagined it.” he sighed and moved on. They had to make it to the valley quickly.
Aerys was sure he had seen the witch. Maybe she as the one who was affecting his thoughts. Yes, that was it. But his friends would never believe him. Aerys let it pass. He would be on the lookout for her from now onwards.
They were almost there by evening, and suddenly Aerys heard shouts of confusion.
“I think it’s the prisoners escaping” he shouted to the others and rushed down the mountain as fast has he could. He was right.
Once they were in the village, a guard came up to the king, “Sir, the prisoners have escaped. We have sent men after them, but they were helped by the witch. We believe that the witch has also sided with the king, and in a few days the king will surely know about our plans to attack Ashanti.”
“You fools” the warrior screamed in frustration.” hurry and get the army ready. We leave tomorrow at dawn. Tell everyone to come to the town square where I will address them.” He shouted agitated.
Aerys wondered what they were to do now. The king would be prepared and ready when they attacked. They would have to assassinate the king before. That was their only real chance, that or defeating the king in a war which was highly unlikely. Oh, they were in a big fix. What were they going to do?
Once people had assembled, the warrior stood up and began to speak, “Citizens of the vale, tomorrow is the day we head out for justice. We reclaim Ashanti, our homeland. We avenge our forefathers who died because of the king. We bring justice. Tomorrow at dawn we set out towards Ashanti. The journey will be perilous and dangerous, and every person who wishes to join the fight has to accompany us. Bring out your weapons and supplies at dawn. WE march tomorrow. Spread the word, let us defeat the king once and for all.” the warrior said, and the crowd roared in approval. “You’ve still got your speaking abilities mate” the archer said to the warrior who chuckled.
“Let’s see the people who come out tomorrow” the warrior said.
“We can all but hope.” Aerys said, hoping more people would be there to fight for their homeland.
“Most of our citizens have lost family to the king, so they will join us in our fight.” the warrior said, looking around him.
“We should all go get rest and be ready for tomorrow” Rogue said. Her voice startled Aerys as she hadn’t spoken in quite a while.
“Yes, let’s go.” Eris agreed, and Aerys followed them as they went towards their quarters.
“You think we’ll survive this?” Rogue asked Aerys. “If we do, it will be a great tale to tell our children.” Aerys replied.
“You’re right and we will survive. We’ve been through so much already.” Eris said, and Aerys thought about everything they had been through. The tribals, the king, the witch, the valley. There were sure to be ballads sang about them if they survived. They had to survive this, and sometimes Aerys just wished he had a normal life. A life where he wasn’t always on the run, a life where everything was secure and he had a home to go to. That was wishful thinking, but maybe, maybe someday it would be possible. One day perhaps.
They walked to their quarters, and sat down outside. The three of them like old times in a comfortable silence.
“I wonder what the warrior gains from this.” Eris said, voicing a question even Aerys had doubts about.
“Maybe he wants his homeland, or maybe it’s the throne that interests him.” Rogue said thoughtfully. That made sense, Aerys thought.
After a while, Eris rose saying her was tired and went inside to sleep. It was only Aerys and Rogue now, just like their childhood, like old times. They would sit outside their hut, staring at the stars. The twinkling things so far away, hand in hand, whispering to each other under the moonlight. And that was how they sat, hand in hand backs on grass and staring up at the stars up above.
“I wonder what happens after this.” Aerys said in a soft tone.
“We live on, we settle down, live our lives.” Rogue said.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to do that.”
“Maybe, maybe not. I hope we do.”
And they stayed, talking late into the night, staring up at the sky, staying until they got tired and went to bed. They had always been together, it had always been them against the world, and sitting there reminded Aerys if old times when life was much simpler. When they were free, when they could do what they wanted. Aerys had always dreamed about these moments, and now they were here. He didn’t want to let go of Rogue’s hand, he wanted to stay her forever, but soon she rose to get rest.
Only Aerys now. The stars seemed to be winking at him. The night was cold but bearable. The surroundings were beautiful and Aerys couldn’t help staying awake until dawn broke out. Sleep didn’t come to him, and he couldn’t wait to set out. When the first rays of sunlight hit the darkness, he rose to wake Rogue and Eris.\
After they had grabbed their weapons and packs, they set out towards the warrior’s quarters to hear the plan. They wondered how they would go about this.
“You, Rogue and Aerys will meet me at the outskirts of Ashanti after gathering the tribal army. I will give you a map that will help you get into the forest without crossing the desert. It takes you underneath the desert in half the time. We on the other hand will met you outside Ashanti. If anything goes wrong, send up signals of smoke and help will arrive.” the warrior instructed.
“Go safe” the archer and the warrior said as they bade them farewell.
Aerys, Eris and Rogue made their way into the forest once again.
“One last journey.” they said as they set out. Determination in their eyes. One last journey, the last phase of their quest was on.