Faded Rose


Faded Rose

Prologue

Rose: Or So Was Thought

“Martin! Martin!” Brome ran about, shouting the name. “Martin! Oh, by the stars!” he ran into the falling remains of Marshank; he saw what he believed was the corpse of his sister, Rose; she was starkly beautiful, but her crumpled, bleeding body was pitiful. He stooped down next to her and picked up her head; he opened up her eyes and looking into them, felt to find her pulse, and checked for broken bones. He bent down and put his mouth on her, breathing out, then in, out, then in. He went back up and pounded on where her heart should be, once, twice, thrice. He tried to start her breathing again, then tried her heart. He felt her pulse: Could it be? Was there the slightest, faintest, weakest heartbeat? Or was it his imagination, longing for her to live? He shouted out over the walls, “Quick! Someone! Bring poles and cloth! I need help!” He heard two whistles; their code for “Yes”. He repeated his process three more times, and felt her pulse. His face lit up for a moment; “Come on, Rose! You can do it!” He pounded on her chest several more times. Suddenly, her eyes whipped open and she begun breathing heavily.

“Martin!” she sat up quickly, then slowly went back down, for pain was rushing up her spine. “Martin?” she said softly. Brome shook his head.

“I haven’t seen hide or tail of him; I’ve heard reports that he walked out and vanished, but it seems rather unlikely. But, there isn’t a…corpse anywhere. Do you know where he went?” Rose thought for a moment, then shook her head.

“What am I supposed to tell Brome?” she thought. “That Martin can travel in time and is not from our age? That would seem outrageous and they would claim me to be not in my right mind.” Mid-thought, Keyla ran in, bearing a make-shift litter.

“Rose!” the otter said in delight. “You’re alive! This is such great news! You were dead, or so was thought.” There was an awkward silence at this, then Keyla smiled nervously and he and Brome carefully loaded her onto the litter.

“I may be alive,” she thought. “But I don’t know if Martin is. Martin, oh, my Martin!” She closed her eyes. “My lovely, lovely Martin. My time traveling love. I always knew you were different.” A tear drifted down her pretty, dirty cheek as she drifted into a deep sleep.

Gonff: End of my Days

It has been nearly fifteen seasons since Martin died, and the Abbey is still asking questions. They will not accept my answer of going off to live a more adventurous life; perhaps I can record, though, that he came back and gave up his life of travel and liberty, but let us not forget his love. He talked of Rose all the time, and I must say she sounds wonderful. I am planning on taking a small trip out to Noonevale, although it is not at all a short distance, to see if I can find some descendants of Brome, so I may relate the true tale to them. I plan on saying I am going on my ‘last holiday’; I am the only one left of all us adventurers; Dinny passed on three seasons back; the Abbess moved on to shady pastures just a few days after I arrived back; Skipper and Lady Amber died within the same day, the two friends. Columbine died last season, and Gonff, my son, left a few weeks after the funeral. The rest are either rotting away in their beds or have moved on, away from the Abbey. The Abbey sits mainly empty, and while you walk through it, the hollowness echoes about you. Although, this has its upside: no one disturb me whilst I write, for I have taken on a new role: recorder! With nothing to do now that my wife is gone, I have taken it upon myself to record. I am also changing the history slightly, to adjust the mysterious bits with Martin. If I could guess, they will be so enthralled with his story, they will not care about a slight mystery or two. I write it hurriedly though, for I fear my end of days may be coming soon. Though I am outliving most of my friends, I fear that my body is still aging and I am doing so rapidly; although I do not welcome death, I accept it’s role.

But about this I desist; I am so easily thrown off in my writings! I am leaving tomorrow to find a possible relative of Rose or Brome! Wish me luck!

-Gonff, retired Mousethief

Rose: Inklings of Something Wonderfully Awful

“Look Rose, look at our child. She was happy, and so were you and I, but then it all fell, like a house of cards, like the last autumn leaf. You and our child were burned, and my life was but an empty shell. Our life. And now, you are dead and I am as good as dead. I wish I didn’t have to, but yet I did. And you are now faced with a gift and a curse…”

Rose bolted upright in her bed. She looked out a window; it wasn’t even dawn yet. She was either claimed by insomnia or strange dreams, every night. The dream was always roughly the same: Martin, talking to her, or to perhaps himself, talking about something great, and horrible and the same time. She couldn’t quite place a paw on it, but it was there. She remembered glimpses: she was trapped inside a burning building, holding a child, with screaming and laughter outside. The roof would fall in, and at the last second before she would be burnt to death, she would awaken, covered in a cold sweat. Was it meaningful? She doubted it. Yet, it still gave her inklings of something wonderfully awful, something from the past, or perhaps the future, or perhaps it was from the never happens. Her skull pounded as she got out of bed and went over to the water bin, washed her face, combed her hair back into a french braid, and stared at herself in the mirror: she always got compliments on how young she looked in relation to her age, and would stare at her beauty in the mirror, daily. She tried to fight back the dark desires of vanity and pride, but she was hard-set to do so. And she was failing

Rose had never been a perfect child: she even lied to Martin about her and Brome, for she was the one who ran off, her brother simply falling to the peer pressure she set for him. But Martin, oh Martin! He had set her right: he seemed so full of valor and good, that she felt shameful. But the shame soon left and she began to act better around him, trying to impress him. In what she thought were her last moments, she realized that perhaps he had changed her for the better, so that she would be a better person. Wrong. She needed him desperately, and she had fallen quite short in his absence. She was full of shame and pride and vanity, along with rage, directed at him for abandoning her, going off to live an adventurer’s life while she had to stay in dumb old Noonevale, where the perfection became tiring. She felt self-pity, too: when Badrang threw her against the wall, she was injured, and she has many a scar, not to mention a slight limp in her left leg, because of it. She used it to get pity and a few perks; she always was a bit self centered; but Martin, he changed that! And where was he now, to set her back on track, to fight her dark side? He was not here. He had failed her.
“Mizz Roser, mar’m?” said a friendly voice. An older mole poked his head into Rose’s room. It was now almost evening and she had dressed for a special occasion; tonight they were celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the Fall of Marshank; a feast was to be held in honor of all those who fought or died, with a special part at the end called “The Warrior’s Ball”, where all those who fought danced. Rose was going to try to spark someone’s interest tonight and chose to wear a beautiful ball gown; it was long and flowing, off the shoulders but long sleeved; the torso was a somewhat-dark violet, with the skirt and sleeves a dark, rich purple. She had let her hair down and delicately curled it, making it cascade in waves until it hit her waist. On her neck, she bore a gold necklet, in the center was a ruby that Martin had given her, framed in diamonds. The mole was silent, for a moment, then spoke.

“Moi, Mizz Roser!” he exclaimed. “Yurr lookin’ gurt perdy this evernin’, Oi’ll say!” He tugged gently at his snout in respect, trying to hide his embarressment at his own, much plainer, clothes.

“Grumm, you look handsome!” she said, lying through her teeth. Grumm blushed.

“Hurr, these be moi workin’ clothers, Mizz, Oi’m naught evin in moi farncy clothers yet!” He chuckled. “Just comin’ in to check on ee, makin’ shore ye weren’t in ‘un of yourn ittle spellers!” Rose shook her head.

“Please don’t talk about that,” she said, a bit peeved. She hated to think about her flaws, and she hated it more when other people thought about her flaws. So she put on her pretty smile and waved, hoping they would never see her true self.

Rose: Swallow That Stone

A shell horn blew out two short calls, then four longer ones. It was the call to Banquet, and small children ran in their Feasting Bests to get in line first. But they all stopped when they saw the Belle of the Ball, Rose. She blinked, then smiled falsely at the babes. She was growing impatient, waiting for the dance where she could take a young man’s heart and crush it by being just out of reach. She was not interested in settling down and having a family; she just wanted Martin back. Martin would set her right, something she couldn’t do solo. All of these men where just as self-centered and vain as she was, usually; none of them could be quite like Martin: he was so brave and kind, so loving and caring, and so easy to help her. None of these mice were like that; and she didn’t care about them she just wanted what she cared about:

Martin.

“He’s dead,” she thought. She thought about it for several moments, then swallowed.

Swallowing that fact was like swallowing a stone.

“Martin is dead!” the crowds seem to sing. “Martin is dead!” She could feel one of her ‘moments’ coming on; she fought the urge to cry and run away and scream. She swallowed, hard.

She swallowed that stone. For now.

She zoned back into reality, where she was grabbing food from a buffet. She didn’t pay attention to what the cooks scooped onto her plate; pastie, cheese, turnover, cake, it all was the same for her. She smiled weakly and sat down at an empty table, at it’s head, and waited for the rest of the attendees to be seated. Several minutes later, when they were all sitting, staring at Rose, she said the grace:

“Many have fallen, oh so long ago.

And our new generation will not recall.

But let us remember, please let us all

Remember friends and loved ones who did fall.”

At this point, everyone whispered the name of a loved one who was killed in the battle.

“Martin, oh, my Martin. How I loved you so. Your soul, your soul, why did you have to go?” Rose wiped a tear from her cheek; she said this whenever she was thinking about Martin. She took a deep breath and addressed the congregation. “Please, eat.” They all dug in with gusto, all except one.

Rose.

Rose: A Beautiful Monster

“Please, everyone, move into the Chamber of Remembrance for our Twentieth Annual Warrior’s Ball, in honor of Martin the Warrior!” Rose glided down a hall, completely black, no light whatsoever. A cry was heard, and she turned around; just another babe, crying at the dark. She continued walking until she reached a huge room: it was completely covered in mirrors, everything, the walls and ceiling, even the floors, which where coated in a thick, durable glass protecting them from being damaged. She glanced around, admiring herself in the mirrors, reflecting their images to infinity; she stared at the thousand Roses, who in turn stared back at her. Maybe one of them still had Martin; she envied them. She thought she saw a movement in one of the reflections, and whipped around, half expecting to see Martin; she was sadly mistaken; just a dust mote, probably.

Slowly, the rest of the crowd filtered in, including Brome, Grumm, Keyla, Tullgrew, Celandine, and Rose’s mother, but not her father; Urran Voh had died many seasons back, and had passed on the patriarchy to Brome, who was now a very reasonable and bright young mouse. She stood in the middle of the room and watched everyone file in. She took a deep breath and began the pre-dance poem.

“The feasting is over, the food is the past.

We gather all here to dance, at last.

We honor our Warrior, fallen and true.

Who, without, survivors’d be few.

Remember our Martin, our brave valiant lad,

Who saved all our lives, sans armor clad!”

Everyone clapped and Rose curtsied. The musicians began playing a happy waltz, and Rose waited for the first, brave young mouse to come and claim her hand. As she stared at the crowd, an image began to fade in. It was blurred and obscured at first, but then it became clear.
“Martin!” screamed Rose. A woman holding a glass dropped it, and it shattered on the floor. Hundreds of woodlanders gasped simultaneously. Rose ran up and tried to kiss him, but he was but an image. Martin shook his head.

“This is only an image, Rose, simply an image.”

“A specter from the great beyond!” someone shouted in the back. Tears filled Rose’s eyes.

“Is it true, Martin, are you dead?” she chocked slightly. “Stay with me!” she yelled.

“Have you not listened? Have I not come to you every night, telling you of what was?” He sighed. “I am not dead. Just, dying.”

“No, stay with me! I don’t care, just stay with me!” Then the waterworks really started. Grumm tried walking up to comfort Rose, but she shoved him onto the floor. Martin scowled.

“Rose! What have you turned into? You shove down your lifelong friend!” he shook his head and closed his eyes. She ran up to him and tried grabbing him; to her surprise, she could feel the faint feeling of cloth; he was partially there, like a ghost! She drew him in close and kissed him, but he pulled away.

“No!” he shouted.

“Stay with me!” she yelled back. “I love you! I am nothing without you!”

“Look at you, Rose! You were so good; and now you use your beauty in corrupt ways. You abandon your friends and skulk about, dreaming of me! How disillusioned was I, so long ago! You’ve become petty and vain without anyone to correct you, like a child without morals! You disgust me, Rose; please, this is not the way I wish to remember you by! Please, Rose, you have the possibility to become such a great, nice, compassionate person! Don’t throw it away with lust and your looks! Please!” Rose stepped back up to him and slapped him, surprising the crowd.

“Look at me!? Who were you to abandon me?”

“I thought you were dead!”

“I would be, maybe, but what if you had stayed?! You could have saved me! Brome found me and just by chance, he saved me!”

“I-…Brome-…” he sighed. “I told him how to help a fallen woodlander if ever the time arrived!” he shouted at her. Rose shrunk back in surprise. “After I thought you had died, I went back and told him in his childhood, in case he could help you! But, I couldn’t go back because I felt I would just end up letting you killed” Rose shuddered at this. “by letting you travel with me! I see I should have just let you die!” Rose began sobbing.

“No! But look at me now, I am alive!” Martin grew angrier.

“No! You had morals and compassion and love, but it looks like that died when Badrang threw you up against that wall!”

 

“Don’t say that!” Rose screamed, thinking about all of the ugly scars she had. “You saved me, Martin!”

 

“Yes, I did! And look what I created! I beautiful monster, only concerned with herself. I am ashamed I let this happen.” He stared her straight in the eye and shook his head. “But I have better, more honorable people to speak with,” he said. “I leave you hear to contemplate how maybe, just maybe, you can make yourself better!” At that he began to fade away.

Rose collapsed on the ground, weeping. She wept there for what seemed like ages, and when she looked up, everyone was gone except Grumm; he had gotten up and was extending a paw to help Rose up. She pushed it away, got up on her own, and ran out, tripping on and ripping her gown.

“I am leaving this place!” she screaming, running through mirrors and blackness and light and night. “I leave here tonight!” She ran to her home, packed a canvas bag with clothes, and changed into something more discreet. She stole some food from her kitchen and from the banquet. And she left, but not before leaving a note to Grumm:

Dear Grumm,

Forgive me for tonight; I have become a self-centered monster, and I need to end this. I am going to go far away, so far away. Maybe I’ll be killed or maybe I’ll kill myself, or maybe, by chance, I can find someone who cares and who can help me become a better mouse.

Wish Me Luck. And I am so sorry.

Laterose

Gonff: Old Bones are of No Use to Me

Gonff plodded on through a large valley, glancing back in the distance at the Abbey, which now seemed big enough to fit in his palm. He stopped and sat on a stone and pulled out a piece of barkcloth and some charcoal and began sketching what he saw; after Martin had died, those long seasons ago, he had to keep himself busy now that his friend was lost. So he drew. He first used it to get out his feelings, which he couldn’t do in public, seeing as they didn’t know the real story, so he drew them out. Memories, what he had seen in the future, all of that. Now he just drew what was around him, and he had been getting a good bit better. He hummed while he worked, remembering some tune he had made up long ago. It was a happy, upbeat tune, but the longer her hummed it the more it slowed and began to creep into a minor key. His eyelids closed, and he dreamed twisted dreams of the future and of Martin and Luke, of the Seamstress and the plan and Martin’s final words.*
(*Please read The Warrior to learn about Martin, Luke, the Seamstress, etc. It’s another story I wrote and is on my blog here. 🙂 )

Gonff woke up with a start, frightened out of a dead sleep by a bird’s call. He sat up and looked around; it was nearly evening! He stuffed his supplies into his bag and walked on for a minute until he reached a woodland fringe. He hitched up a camp and grumbled, “Nice job there, snoozing half the day away! Arg, these old bones are of no use to me.” He climbed inside the tent and lay down, staring at the canvas ceiling. The outside noises soon lulled him back to sleep, where he lay, still humming the tune.

Rose: Nature Contains No Beauty

Rose walked on through dense woodlands, shuddering whenever she heard something odd. She swiped at insects and kicked at rusting shrubs, annoyed at it all. She drew her cloak around her; a bitter wind was rising and she began to miss the warmth of her home. But how could she return? She had lost so much face and would be the main attraction for the rest of her life: A magical seer who could talk to Martin, who was angered with her.

But she didn’t believe in seers or ghosts; it was just a bunch of rubbish used to win over the old ones or scare the babes into shutting up and going to bed. She looked around her and eyed the trees, seeing if there was some food in any of them. She spied an acorn tree (She was allergic to those), an apple tree (She hated apples; bad childhood experience she had with them left her scarred emotionally), a plum tree (She didn’t think they looked tasty), and then finally, something edible: pears! She loved pears! She climbed up the tree and yanked down a handful. With it, came a honey soaked object. She popped down and began licking it, getting honey all over her hands and face. Then she heard an odd noise.

Bzzzzzzzzzzz…..BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!!!!!

Bees!

She ran away, still holding the honeycomb and one pear, pack flinging behind her and pelting her back. She yelped as a bee stung her. Then another, and another! They were catching up! She flung herself into a nearby stream, and in the commotion her pack was ripped off her shoulder. She let go of the honeycomb and it floated downstream, where the bees chased after it.

She resurfaced and climbed onto the bank. She was so hungry and took a huge bite of the pear: it was hard and sour. She spat out the pear and threw the rest on the ground. She screamed and stomped her feet.

“I hate this blasted forest! I hate nature! Nature contains no beauty! If it isn’t trying to kill you then it’s just rubbish! Uggh!” She worked herself into such a fit that she fainted.

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