Okay, so here is the rest of the new beginning I promised you all. After this, it moves right into my story, exactly where I wanted it to begin but just didn't figure it out 'til now. Silly me. Yes, sometimes it takes me awhile. There might still be parts where I repeat myself, but that's what I get for writing in spurts and not reading what I had already written. Go figure.
Rose struggled to wake. He clawed at the air, gasping for breath while in his dream he dug his way out of a shallow grave. He sat upright, eyes wide in the darkness and sucked in several deep breaths. He still did not know the time of day or night. Had Quagha come down here to tell him he would be executed in two days time? How long ago that seemed and how many days were now left? He scrubbed a hand over his face and then over the stubble on his head. Rose winced as his hand hit the scrapes and bruises he had acquired at the same time as his baldness.
He sat in the darkness, knees pulled up to his chest, elbows resting on his knees. He held his head in his hands and slowly, gently rubbed the stubble. His wife had urged him to grow his hair long and until recently, he had kept it long and braided. It had fell to his waist. He still did not understand why the guards had felt it necessary to shave it off. Perhaps some sort of punishment, trying to shame him somehow.
After finding Quagha in the kingdom of Jenlakai, Rose had infiltrated the castle, fully intending to at least get the king and queen out of their city, their kingdom if necessary. He hadn't realized that other forces had been sent as well. Paridzule's young king had managed to buy enough D'raetus Pastiniir to take out many factions of Relavia's armies. The D'raetus Pastiniir were assassins of the highest quality and led by an Elven man named Nikkolani. They had spent days scouting the territory for Relavian Warriors and had eased Rose's mind when he found large factions already dead or dying. One less life on his conscience, he left most of the work to the assassins and made his way to the capital city of Jenlakai and from there to the castle.
In the main receiving hall, Quagha held audience as if he were already the ruler. Before him had stood a young Elf, one of Nikkolani's own. Black Rose seemed just as surprised at him being there as the Elf was to see Rose. The majority of the conversation Rose had overhead consisted of this young man going to Paridzule and killing the Queen. Quagha had figured out that the young King Kimu had something to do with the deaths of his Warriors.
When the fighting erupted in the hall, Rose did not know if he should take out the Elf along with the Relavian king or spare him. Everything happened in such a blur, pinpointing details proved difficult, especially now in this dark, dank cell.
Rose rubbed his hands over the stubble of his head once more as he recalled how his dagger had pierced the heart of Urnda Li'endrin, Quagha's aged cousin. The man simply had gotten himself caught between a rock and a hard place, the surprise on his face matching Rose's own. In a matter of moments, Rose had taken a completely innocent life. Did he agree with Quagha that he now deserved his imprisonment and sentencing? Not completely, but before Rose had even had a chance to utter a prayer to Veritru'ul, the Elf knocked him out cold.
Rose still could not wrap his mind around that fact. He knew he had help in Jenlakai taking out the Relavian Warriors. He would come across encampments filled with smoke from dying fires and the stench of the dead. Half the time, the dead were left to rot in the sun. It could only have been the work of D'raetus Pastiniir. Rose didn't know why Nikkolani had sent them, he did not want to question the aid. But why had the Elf gone after him? Rose felt certain he had specifically heard the young Elf order Urnda to go after him, but still could not figure out why. Perhaps if he got out of this situation, he'd pay Nikkolani a visit. If not, well, he'd just haunt him.
Rose heard soft footsteps coming towards him. Usually the guards were louder, not caring if they disturbed his rest. Whoever made their way towards him now seemed to want to go unheard. Rose stretched, then resumed his position. Hands on head, elbows on knees. The picture of despair. He kept his eyes open as he stared down, but did not see flickering torchlight. He heard the creak of the cell door open, then shut and still Rose did not move.
“Are you here?” a voice whispered out of the darkness. Rose floundered for a moment. Why would someone be here? Should he answer? He felt an odd sensation and knew Fizanu had given him a sign.
“I'm here.” Rose's voice cracked, his throat and mouth were dry.
“Thank the gods,” the man whispered. Rose suddenly figured out where he had heard that voice before.
“Amigal?” Amigal Benat had been Quagha's lifelong adviser. What in all hells was he doing here?
“Well, sort of,” Amigal answered. “Can you keep your voice down, but keep speaking. I need to find you in the darkness.”
“I'll do what I can,” Rose sneered, then fell silent.
After a moment of shuffling Amigal huffed. “Now, really. Is this any way to treat someone trying to come to your aid?”
“Come to my aid?” Rose wondered in a loud whisper.
“I have no time, Rose. I will explain once we are far from here. Until then, you have no choice but to trust me.” Amigal shuffled a little more and in a moment, Rose felt his hand fall on top of his head.
“Ow! Watch it,” Rose growled.
“Well, I told you to help me find you in the dark. I cannot help it if you do not cooperate.”
“Why are you doing this?” Rose asked, pulling the man's hand from his head. Amigal patted his way down to Rose's shoulder then grabbed his arm to pull him to his feet.
“Can you stand?” Amigal asked.
“I doubt it. I haven't eaten for several days, I am weakened. The water was rancid and I have sharp pains in my stomach.”
“That is not a good sign. As for why I am doing this, let's just say we have a mutual interest in keeping you alive.”