WAYS OF A ROSE

A SANTHARIAN FAIRY TALE

 
Master Tribell's Miraculous Narrations   
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Introduction. A red rose's destiny is to be a token of romance, to bring two people together forever, isn't it? At least so the red rose thought. She was blossoming in a rose garden and would certainly be plucked soon by a charming gentleman. But the ways of love are strange and twisted as she was about to find out...

 

nce upon a time there was a magnificent red rose that grew in a rose garden among many others of her kind. So many colors made up the vast rose hedges that it was a true feast for the eyes! Not only the much sought-after red roses had their place there, but also the pure white ones, the joyous yellows, those in passionate orange, some pink roses too, which are said to express gratitude, and last not least the lavender ones that exude an air of majesty. The red ones however serve – as everybody knows – as the privileged messengers of romance, and of that our particular rose was especially proud. ‘A token of love I’m meant to be!’ she said to herself, and ‘Come all you lovers, come pick me!’ her dark red petals conveyed to the world at large. She was hoping that to be the one to bring two people together forever, and that they’d live happily ever after, and all because of her.

There came a day when the red rose – she was basking in the sun – heard a buzz and a murmur and footsteps on the gravel path leading up to her flower bed. Taken with a flight of curiosity she raised her head and peeked around the corner, and indeed, there they were: humans in fancy dresses, strolling through the garden! And as every flower knew, fancy dresses meant these people were anything but gardeners! The red rose did her best to make an impression. She stood tall and tried to be as red as she possibly could. Besides, thanks to a little breeze, the scent in the air was especially breathtaking that day, so honeyed, musky, sweet and sensuous it was. Who of the visitors could resist picking a flower? The red rose was sure her time had come: A perfect gentleman would take her with him!

Well, our flower got plucked alright, but to her chagrin it was not by a handsome gentleman as she had dreamed all summer long. Rather it was a short, plump, homely looking woman who approached her flower bed and put the rose unceremoniously in her basket – along with several others of her kind, as if our rose were just one of many. ‘Pshaw! What insolence! I’m not!’ she frowned. The rose was irked, for she felt special. ‘I’m the most beautiful rose around here, and I deserve better than that! I was made for romance!’ The rose didn’t know any better, but she thought that she’d spend the rest of her allotted time in her limited life as a flower with that woman, who was plain and stout and a far cry from an enchanting lady she had wished to entice. In no way this was how the rose had imagined the prime of her life to be.

However, the woman didn’t keep the picked roses to herself, but once she arrived at home, she handed her brimmed basket over to her daughter. As the rose soon learned, the daughter worked as a flower girl and used to sell the roses at a snug tavern in the evenings: Gentlemen bought flowers from her to present them to a beloved one after dinner to express their feelings of admiration. As the rose noticed this custom, her confidence was renewed. ‘A token of love I’m meant to be!’ she thought. ‘My fair lady I’m soon about to see!’
 

The Red Rose

Picture description. The red rose. Image drawn by Faugar.

So the flower girl stepped closer to one of the tables and bobbed a curtsy. She picked our rose from the basket and offered her to a distinguished young man who was seated in a corner with a truly captivating young lady he had wooed for some time: “Would you care for a rose, milord?” the girl asked, and expectation rose in our flower too.

The gentleman smirked and gave the girl a conspiratorial look. He took the flower out of her hand, his face a mask of solemnity. However, the beauty to his opposite only made a dismissive gesture and addressed the flower girl curtly, saying: “Thank you, dear, but there’s really no need.”

The young man was dumbfounded and reeled at the brashness of the rejection he had just received. He sat tongue-tied for a moment, and then shook his head in disappointment to the little girl, who quickly withdrew from the scene.

The rose was as crestfallen as the young man himself. Not only had the lady rebuffed the gesture, but she had also turned down the most resplendent rose of the whole lot, of that our flower was convinced. ‘Ungrateful wench!’ thought she. ‘Doesn’t appreciate a decent lad nor a beautiful rose!’ If she could only talk, the rose would have told her!

Thus the flower girl strode on and found herself another couple. Business was though. Again, it was a young man and a young lady, but this time she made certain that they looked very much in love with each other before she came any nearer. Aye, there was no doubt that these two were bantering with glee: They teased each other with all kinds of lovers’ names invented on the spot, commented them with a childish snicker whenever one came up with a new one, they clasped each other’s hands and every now and then they kissed. The flower girl followed up by offering her rose. ‘A token of love I’m meant to be!’ the rose pointed out. ‘On this you’re bound to agree with me!’

The youth nodded as he saw the rose, accepting the offer. The blushing young thing, who was still chuckling all the way through, reached out to take the flower meant for her, and… – emitted a shriek so shrill and piercing that her suitor shrank back in horror, spilt his wine and almost was knocked off his chair! Even the flower girl dropped her basket, and a couple of roses slumped in the most undignified manner onto the floor. “Ouch, ouch, ouch!” the young lady squealed like a stuck pig, quite unladylike. Blood was dripping from her delicate fingers. The poor girl had come across a thorn, and as she saw the red fluid running down her wrist, she sat there transfixed for a moment – and then fainted. So the young man ended up with holding his beloved in his arm that evening, though not exactly the way he had envisioned it to be. And the flower girl? With the rose still in hand, she took on her heels, escaping the aftermath of the incident. The episode wasn’t likely to encourage anyone in the tavern to buy their own share of roses.

‘What a muddle, what a mess! Every child knows that a rose also has its thorns, and wouldn’t be the same without!’ The rose gazed with grim reproachfulness at the passed out lady when the flower girl dashed out. ‘What a wimpy bride you’d make – if this fellow still takes you after this pitiful display, that is! You wouldn’t have earned such a beauty like me in the least, so it’s better that I’m saved for someone else,’ she scowled, hoping her next shot at imparting happiness would turn out better.

Things indeed looked much more promising at the next attempt. A couple of lanes further down, near the harbour, the flower girl came across another tavern. She was drawn to it, for the hustle and bustle going on there was hard to miss: Raucous bawling of sonorous men’s voices and exuberant giggling of dames of easy virtue resounded out in the streets. Just this very afternoon a ship had moored, and shore leave for the sailors meant lots of drinking and philandering with the local girls. As the beer flowed in abundance, and the atmosphere was jovial and gay, only a flower girl was needed to help along romantic matters. So in she stepped, and soon the girl had already managed to hand out quite a few of her precious roses.

As her fingers touched our rose, the flower became excited again: ‘A token of love I’m meant to be!’ she beamed. ‘And all good things come by in threes...’ she added, for this third time around she was determined to finally play the matchmaker.

“Would you care for a rose?” the flower girl thus asked a seaman with a buxom girl on his lap; and – lo and behold! – he said “Yes!” and “Yes!” said she, and the buxom girl grabbed our red rose without flinching and didn’t even sting herself either! So it came that the sale was made, the rose was happy having served her amorous purpose, and the sailor and the girl headed off together to enjoy each other’s company elsewhere.

And elsewhere? Well, elsewhere our dear, proud rose was put into an elegant vase, which she found quite befitting and flattering actually; and while the vase and the rose in it sat there on the dresser, the two lovebirds found their own ways of celebrating their union. Then it was time for the rose to dreamily let her head sink after such a long and adventuresome day, for night had already descended over the town a while ago, and there was nothing more she could have done.

Alas, there came the next morning.

Alas, we have to say, for the rose woke to the sounds of yelling and shouting and of heavy footsteps clumping about, of slamming doors and what not. Quite a ruckus there was to say the least! Before the flower could even fathom what the whole commotion was all about, the petite hand that had been caressing her so tenderly the evening before now, seized the vase and smashed it cold-bloodedly on the floor! Oh my dear, oh my! Needless to say, the once delicate vessel splintered in a thousand pieces, the water spilt all over the floorboards, and the rose, which had emerged from such a wonderful slumber – dreaming about two sweethearts having found each other thanks to her meddling – now lay on top of a pile of shards as if her neck were broken.

Ah, the hardships of love! The expectations, the longing, all that lust and desire – and then again the disappointments, the betrayals, the fear of loneliness, desperation on the other hand, and sometimes it’s all rolled into one: A spark may last a night, it may enflame passion for years, but whatever burns bright may also be consumed as fast as it catches fire and leave nothing but ashes. There’s a wide abyss between hopes and dreams, and that abyss also made its painful dent in the once so promising life of our lovely rose. There she lay now, hours upon hours, and then a day went by and yet another, and she, who had once been so cheerful and gay, was about to cease to exist, bit by bit withering away.

Now, it wasn’t quite over for our dear rose yet, but that didn’t matter much to her anymore. Eventually – she didn’t even remember how she got there –, she found herself spread out on a table. But whether she stared listlessly into space on the floor or from a fancy piece of furniture didn’t make much difference. Whenever she looked down at her pitiful self, all she could make out were a wilted stalk and shrivelled petals attached to it. What she saw had little, if anything, in common with her former beauty and her enticing fragrance had almost dissipated into nothingness. ‘A token of love I once was meant to be, a heap of crumbling leaves has become of me!’ she mumbled to herself absent-mindedly.

While wallowing in her agony the rose heard a door creaking, and then feet shuffling about, and as she looked up, there was a big man with a white beard and spectacles on his nose. ‘Who might he be?’ the rose – or whatever was still left of her – snivelled, but soon she found that he had come to seal her fate: Pursing his lips he whistled merrily as he put mortar and pestle on the table, but for the rose the song had the irony of a dirge sung by her executioner. The big man with the white beard put the flower’s once charming and graceful petals in the bowl and began grinding them. Soon only tiny bits remained, and then nothing more but dust. Aye, that is all that was left eventually of our rose, for in the end there was no rose anymore, just a small pile of dust with a faint memory of a once proud flower.

Days later a young lady entered the alchemist’s shop. Oh, if the rose only could have seen her! Truly she was an enthralling creature, her every movement embodying grace and dignity. The lady looked around for a while half-heartedly before she plucked her courage and asked the shopkeeper about a certain flask she had spotted in the window display. It appeared to be different from all the others.

“Oh, that’s the most precious fragrance I can offer, Milady!” said the shopkeeper. “It unites the secrets and the exoticism of far away continents like the enchanting Aeruillin and the magical Nybelmar into the most beguiling perfume you might have ever had the chance to scent... Believe me, this is the one that comes closest to what gentlemen know as the most fascinating enigma under the sun itself, the mystery of the fairer sex: This fragrance explores, expands and emphasizes the essence of the one wearing it, the essence of someone very, very special – someone like you!”

The lady blushed, but she was thrilled too, and so she went on asking: “May I try it then and see if it might suit me?”

“Why, of course, Milady! This is the one, I tell you,” the alchemist was convinced. “The one for you and for the one you seek. This one will entrap him, and” – he paused while he winked at her – “it will remain our secret of course.”

The lady sprayed some of the perfume on the back of her hand and took in the scent. Ah, and what a pleasant odour that was! It was so rich that she felt as if her senses had only just awakened; it was exciting, adventurous, stimulating, wild and daring all at the same time, and still it had a kind of recognizable aroma present that made it familiar among all the spellbinding novelties she experienced.

The lady commended the alchemist on his exquisite taste in perfumes, for she hadn’t scented anything like it, and then inquired: “In spite of all the exotic mystery I still notice something in this scent I know from other fragrances, a trusted kind of, say, excellence, something distinguished, refined... Something dear to Santharian hearts, some sort of flowery touch maybe? – I can’t name it exactly, not for the life of me, but it’s there isn’t it?”

“Ah Milady, certainly it must be the rosewater you’re observing, for this is the foundation on which an impeccable fragrance must always be based on – at least as far as I’m concerned,” the alchemist replied. “You know, when it comes to romance, one just cannot do without the charm of a rose.”

The lady smiled a hearty smile. “Ah, I love roses as well,” she said, “especially red ones!”

“Everyone does, Milady,” the alchemist said and treated her to a sympathetic smile. “Just about everyone…”

“You sure I should get this scent?” There was still a hesitant quaver in the lady’s voice. “Don’t you think maybe it might be too intense for someone as timid and insecure as me?”

The alchemist however had no doubts: “If you perceive yourself that way, then this is exactly what you need, my dear. This will make you feel assured and irresistible, Milady, so I recommend it even more. Though, trust me: You’re delightful as well without it, if I may say so.” The remark made the lady’s eyes glimmer. “However,” the alchemist continued, “one just cannot go wrong with magic and enchantment from all parts of the world, mixed with the eternal essence of beauty that inhabits every rose. Remember that proverb? Everything’s coming up roses! I bet it will for you with this fragrance just as well.”

Well, and thus was the fate of our rose, for she had become a token of love after all. The lady verily bought the fragrance and ended up getting her prince charming – well, admittedly, it wasn’t a prince, but he was quite charming, and this is all that matters. The rose however lived on in the perfume and maybe she still does, for who knows how long the flask may last?

And, by the way, while we’re at proverbs: Which was the other one? – Ah yes: Love will find a way. As do roses, you know.
 


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Fairy tale written by by Artimidor Federkiel View Profile