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Dh'èirich an Festering

Author's note: Dh'èirich an Festering is Scottish for "The Festering Rose." Festering,...  Show full author's note »
Author's note:

Dh'èirich an Festering is Scottish for "The Festering Rose." Festering, in some contexts means "spoiling, deteriorating" and roses are generally represent love. Basically, the name of this story is "The Deteriorating Love." However Dh'èirich an Festering is also the ship's name. Keep that in mind as you read as I have tried numerous accounts of irony and symbolism in this as well. 

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One

It was a fair day the day Lady Arlin had set to the sea. The sky was vacant of a single cloud and the rays of the sun stretched across the vast land. It was days like those that drew tears to her eyes. Standing on the rocky shore, the fragmented shells poking the soles of her weathered feet, Lady Arlin held the golden chain closely to her bosom. Outside of overdue contempt from the villagers she passed each day prior her walk along the coast, it was all she had left from her first marriage.
   
He was a dark man, an evil man, but Lady Arlin, then in her youth, saw little past his dashing features: a sparkling smile, flawless skin, and combed hair. He walked, much like Lady Arlin herself, with a sense of confidence and independence in each step, hiding only his deepest emotions from the provocative world around him. His eyes always level with the world around him, never once drifting from the lips of his fellow conversationalist. It was one of the many qualities Lady Arlin had first fallen for. However, as the young bride had soon discovered, her first husband was externally the man she had been searching for, but, internally, he was a torment raging havoc on her innocent heart.
   
It was not until they had wed when Lady Arlin had first noticed the other qualities he had contained from exposure. The young woman soon found herself no longer in love, but in hatred. She despised her husband with the last ounce of her soul. He knew not how to care for a woman yet knew a woman would care for him. He spat. He cursed. And he stripped Lady Arlin of everything she once was: beautiful, caring, and  adventurous.
   
"Lady Arsenic," Bernice, the ground's servant, cooed from the iron gates, the outermost boundary of the prison her second husband- an even crueler man than the first- had established while he was away. Bernice, although loyal to both Lady Arlin and her husband, still fell into the well-laid trap of deceit that the villagers had set; she was not exempt from overhearing the rumors.
   
"Lady Arsenic, please, his majesty will not be pleased with you stepping from the courtyard."
   
"Bernice, have you ever wondered what was out there?"
   
The servant took no notion forward, but rather stared at the ground. "Murderers, thugs, man-eating beasts." She paused a moment, her dull eyes raising to focus on the incoming tide. "Pirates."
   
"Pirates?"
   
"Yes, ma'am. And they would be willing at any time to rob you- especially you- of your riches."
   
Lady Arlin lingered by the coast for a second longer, considering the very thought of escape from the palace. Yet, she turned and obeyed the wishes of her second husband- the soon-to-be prince- becoming imprisoned once again by her betrothed.
   
Yet the sea had, almost simultaneously, become imprisoned in her mind. The lulling of the water's lullaby easing her every fear. The refreshing chill against her polished skin. As she sat at the room-length table alone, she had entered a world she had known only once before.
   
Lady Arlin had once resided in a cottage alongside the Northern sea coast. She grew watching the changing tides from her bedroom window, a room she had shared with four brothers, all of which were older by several years. Lady Arlin, or Golden Hair, as they called her, cruelly mocking her amber locks from their own fiery red, spent many of her days alone sitting back on the dock awaiting the arrival of her father, a weary whaler. Without guidance from a mother, she grew to be like her brothers: tough and relentless. However, there was always something more that Lady Arlin could never place segregating her from her family. And it was more than just her golden hair and femininity.
   
It was true. Lady Arlin could not blend into any society. The daughter of a widowed Irish whaler had presented a share of its own problems, most of which concluded in a single word: loneliness. And there she sat many years later at the table of the richest and most attractive man in the kingdom… alone.
   
"Lady Arsenic, are you ill?"
   
"Not ill, Bernice."
   
Not ill by any standards. Lady Arlin was worse than ill. On her quest to find the perfect ending, she had merely found an ending, not nearly close to happy nor perfect. The tide flooded her every thought, sweeping away the past, bringing in the new. She knew where she needed to go.
   
"I think," she began, addressing the young servant, "That I will just go to my chambers. Please tell my husband that I do not wish to join him for dinner tonight."
   
Bernice nodded, allowing Lady Arlin to reach the back stairwell, which had since been weathered and worn by the great storm several fortnights earlier. But in a matter of seconds, the fair woman turned her head and, seeing as though her servant was gone, rushed to the cusp of the courtyard, lingering hesitantly at the iron gateway.
   
"Ah...quite a temptation, is it not?"
   
She turned and peered into the night, unsure of where the voice had aroused from. She feared it to be her husband.

"Who...who is there?"
   
The voice laughed, but remained concealed by the darkness.
   
"Show yourself!" She demanded however shakily. "Or...or I...I will release my royal guards."
   
The gravel crunched as the voice stepped closer to Lady Arlin.
   
"Show yourself!"
   
"Call your guards." The voice was plain and flat and oddly calm. It gave chills to Lady Arlin. She wrapped her fingers tighter around the metal rod.

"Why are you out here?" she pressed. "What do you want? To steal my jewels? My throne? Me?"

There was a chuckle.

"Don't fret, my little dear, if I wanted anything of yours, I would already have it. No, I want something more." And then the voice stepped from the shadows, peeled back the hood of the navy cloak, and let a toothy smile shine beneath the flickering light of the lantern. "I want your freedom."

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