Shouts rang out across the entire camp as a part of the tents had been set on fire. It blazed and they had to control it. The chieftain rushed to alert his people as the others went to attend to their tribesmen.
Aerys and Rogue rushed to leave Eris in a safe place as they looked around, assessing the damage the fire had already created. How had it started?
She watched the other leaders as they rushed to make sure their people were safe. She could hear screams all around, and they had to do something about it. Rogue saw the men of the tribes rushing around, trying to put out the fire as they brought out all their water resources to counter the flames.
“Help, help” Rogue heard from a hut that was ablaze. It seemed to be a woman’s voice, and Rogue could hear a child wailing. She rushed towards the hut and without any further thoughts she ran inside the hut to heed the calls. Once she rushed inside, she realized there was no one there. Amidst the flames she saw the witch and heard her cackle. “The closer you get, the more dangerous I am. You cross me once and you pay. I will not stop till you die, but I am not done with you. You are quite important to the king and your death will wait. But a few burns on that pretty face won’t make a difference. It’s your blood he wants.”
Rogue screamed for help. The manipulative witch was always meddling with her, and it seemed that she wouldn’t rest until she was done with Rogue. Rogue tried getting out, but the roof was about to fall down. Ina crash it was upon her as she was crushed beneath her, the flames swirling around her, eating at her clothes. Her clothes were now charred and black, and the heat was hurting her. She couldn’t take this much longer. “Aerys” she called out weakly and then her eyes closed as the heat was unbearable. She felt herself being lifted up as someone wiped her warm body with a wet cloth. She shivered as she opened her eyes to see Aerys and the chief staring down at her concern and worry in their eyes. Rogue picked her hands up to see some serious burns. She had to get some ointment on them fast or else the skin would get infected and become dead.
She pointed at them and tried to speak but started coughing. She was seriously hurt and had to be treated immediately. Aerys placed her on a soft matress and rushed to get herbs. It was night time and the torches glowing around reminded her of the unbearable heat, and she tried to shy away from the flames. She could still see the roof falling down on her as she helplessly got washed over by the flames. She raised her hands up to her face as though to shield herself away from the torches and the pain. Her arms hurt, and her whole body was hot from the heat.
Soon, she felt gentle hands applying something on her burns, and looked up and saw Aerys. He was spreading the ointment on the wounds, but what reduced Rogue’s pain wasn’t the ointment, but the look in Aerys’ eyes. His eyes were full of kindness and compassion as he gently and sincerely squeezed Rogue’s hand in support. He was there for her. That was all she needed. She sighed as she closed her eyes, the pain could wait. She was going to try her best to ignore it and go off to sleep.
Sleep came soon as Aerys was next to her, reassuringly stroking her hair. Her face and her hair had been undamaged fortunately. Unfortunately, she couldn’t say the same about the rest of her body. Her hands had some serious burns while her legs were more well off. She wouldn’t be able to use the daggers for a while.
With thoughts about the witch, her pain and her body, Rogue went into a deep sleep and meanwhile the tribal village was coming to life outside as an assessment of the dead and injured was being made.
There were twenty-three dead as the people had reacted fast and had escaped before the fire could harm them badly. However, many of them had minor burns and some even had serious injuries. They would have to postpone battle plans until they took heed of the damage the fire had caused. Tribes were trying to regroup and the injured were being treated. Meanwhile Aerys stood watch inside the tent in which Rogue was sleeping. Tension was wrought on his face, as he looked down at the curled up human who was Rogue. The flames danced across the walls of the hut as the hut had an eerie look to it. The chieftain had just left, saying he had to attend to his people and Aerys didn’t blame him for it. The chieftain seemed worried as to how the fire had been caused, and why Rogue had gone into an empty hut that was burning. Surely she had seen something, but that would have to wait until Rogue woke up.
Aerys sat and waited, his thoughts wandering to Eris. He was absent when they needed him the most. Eris would have been able to fly in and save countless lives and prevent injuries. Unfortunately, Eris had just passed out and it was their luck that his timing had been so bad. Everywhere they went something wrong happened, and Aerys waited for the day when they’d have an easy path to something.
Soon the next morning, Rogue woke up coughing. Aerys rushed towards her, handing her water as she tried to rise. Her chest hurt and after trying to rise, she fell right back onto her mattress. Any attempt to move her body hurt as she tried flexing her fingers. They were stiff and she would have to some basic stretching to be able to get up.
“How long have I been out” she croaked, her throat still dry even though she had just had some water. She looked down at her arms, the burns were still raw and her flesh stung. They had been covered in a white sticky ointment and dry leaves had been placed over them.
“One day, as long as Eris.” Aerys replied, and Rogue turned to see Eris making his way into the room, his back hunched. HE looked tired and dejected, and Rogue was sure he was repenting his unnecessary over drinking of the fiery liquid last night.
“What happened?” Rogue asked Aerys.
“Maybe I should ask that of you” Aerys said, “What made you go into an empty hut?”
“I thought I heard the screams of a mother and child, but when I went in I saw the witch. She said some things to me, her exact words being; The closer you get, the more dangerous I am. You cross me once and you pay. I will not stop till you die, but I am not done with you. You are quite important to the king and your death will wait. But a few burns on that pretty face won’t make a difference. It’s your blood he wants.” Rogue said, thinking back to the night before when she had encountered the wicked witch.
“I thought it was me she was after?” Eris asked, puzzled. Even Rogue had had the same thought, didn’t the king need Eris. Rogue and Aerys were the ones the king could afford to lose, but the king had to have Eris alive. At least that was the case till last night. Now, it seemed as if the king needed Rogue or more specifically Rogue’s blood. Great she thought now both of them were in danger.
The next time she met the witch, she was going to kill her. Rogue thought, gnashing her teeth in anger.
“Both of you have to remain safe” Aerys said. “No more foolhardy actions.” he said pointedly looking at Rogue.
“The next time we meet her, we make sure it’s the end of her.” Eris said. Her being the witch. He had voiced Rogue’s thoughts and Rogue smiled in satisfaction. At last, someone was catching on. But soon she realized that smiling had been a bad idea, as her face muscles hurt. They had been stiff and it hurt to even talk a bit. She really was in a bad condition.
“Are you okay?” Aerys said, noticing her grimace after the smile.
“Well, other than the fact that my body hurts, I’m just fine.” Rogue retorted sarcastically, shutting Aerys up.
Rogue didn’t know what was wrong with her, but she didn’t feel like talking to anyone. Soon, they left Rogue to her devices, as her moodiness and sulkiness grew. She didn’t know what was up, but she was angry at her friends. Eris especially. He had been out cold during her incident, and Aerys she didn’t know. She was also a bit angry at herself for falling for such an easy trick. The witch had so easily manipulated her, and she had fallen prey.
After a while, Aerys and Eris entered the room once more.
“Rogue, it isn’t your fault, you couldn’t have made the difference between the witch and a woman. The witch is very manipulative and cunning, and anyone would have been fooled.” Aerys said, seeming to sense the very thing that was bothering Rogue. Aerys knew her very well, and this small action lifted Rogue’s spirits as she felt relieved that someone cared. She had been so rude to Aerys, and he had still come back for her. That was her Aerys, selfless, kind and compassionate.
She reached out and held his hand, motioning to Eris and Aerys to help her walk. They both held the crook of her arms, near the shoulders and waited for her to rise, not before they warned her.
“Rogue, easy you’ve just recovered, it’s better not to risk anything.” Eris said and Aerys nodded.
“I have to try and get up.” Rogue said determinedly.
She slowly tried rising with the help of the other two, she tried resisting the pain but it was too much and she sat back down with a thump.
“Rogue, you don’t have to do this.” Aerys said, concern in his eyes.
He didn’t understand. Rogue knew she had to rise, and she wouldn’t stop until she was up and walking. She would do this today.
“No, you don’t understand Aerys. I have to do this; I have to recuperate fast. I need to be at the fight.” Rogue said, “Give me five more minutes and I will try again.” Aerys and Eris sat down on either sides of Rogue and waited patiently.
After a few minutes, Rogue tried rising again and this time she was successful.
With the help of Eris and Aerys, she moved outside the hut and looked around her. She gasped, as she saw the people around her covered in bandages of cloth, burns on them too. The whole clearing was unstable because of the one wicked witch, and Rogue as sure the king would be waiting for them when they attacked. They had to get to Ashanti and attack as fast as they could or else they would be doomed.
“Let’s go find the chief.” Rogue said, and Aerys and Eris headed in the direction.
As soon as they reached the chief, he stared at Rogue from top to bottom, grimacing at her wounds.
“I’m fine I’m fine” she said, shrugging him of. “We need to regroup and march towards Ashanti as fast as we can. Can we leave by tomorrow dawn?”
The chieftain looked at her thoughtfully, “I think we will be able to. We’ll have to leave the ones seriously injured back here with the women and the children. I’ll get going to inform the other tribal leaders.” he said in a rush and ran towards the other end of the clearing, stopping once in a while to talk to tribals. Rogue watched him go, wondering if they would be ready by dawn.
“Let’s hope we can do this.” Rogue said, and with the help of Aerys and Eris walked away, looking around the camp.
“Let’s remain positive. We can do this” Eris said, and Rogue sighed. Sure they had to remain positive and all, but wasn’t it better to be realistic. Rogue decided not to think too much on this matter and decided to let it go. She wondered how she was going to head out tomorrow dawn. Would they leave her back? She hoped they wouldn’t do that. She wouldn’t let them do it. This was as much her war as it was theirs and she would rather die than let them go without her.
Rogue had set her mind on going, and she would go at any cost.