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Captain Frillywick eased down to his desk with a quill pen and coal black ink, gazed for a few moments at the leather bound journal sprawled open upon the desk. Dusk had long since descended over the lonely country manor. Today was a friend's wedding. Or acquaintance really, would be a more accurate descriptor. He barely exchanged even a few words with the couple any given month. More or less old family ties over the years, social bonds, that made expensive demands. So much of weddings were artificial. It was an assemblage of courtesy, duty and agreement...little more than a contract between two people, between families.

He had long since harbored such an ill perception of married life; long before his own pitilessly empty marriage had begun. Nothing between his father and mother spoke to him of love. It reminded Arnold of law. The law he saw fit to uphold as his duty to the crown. What a remarkably unexciting existence. Utterly drab. He preferred it that way. It permitted plenty of time to be spent at the local tavern, drowning his internal hell with ale, drafts and liquor. What better way to spend a miserable life?

His icy eyes drifted to the flame, which left him with no warmth. Not fire, not a woman's love could melt
such a barricade around his soul. The lantern flickered light across the empty pages waiting for imagination to strike, for a Muse...for something. Anything, really. A thought caught - momentarily in a mental web - and his quill dove gracefully into the black liquid, and words scrolled across the page...

I have met the arrow, or has the arrow met me? Soft footsteps tread upon the wooden floor, my beloved is death itself, not my precious heart no more.

A derisive snort blew from his nose. "How very original of me." His words arose in a wry statement to the beautifully ornate walls. His grandfather had had a weakness for Rococo Art, particularly paintings imported from France. However, he always collected furniture and gracefully carved paneling from across the channel, leaving much of the manner as if it were alive with golden vines curling up the walls. Thank the Lord he had never gone overboard with the style, like the French nobility. Arnold had witnessed such small palaces; he had felt as if he'd walked into a fairytale...

Is life not a fairytale, dreampt by dreamers whom never awake? And shall we forever slumber as slaves to our race under the merciful Lord? He alone watches every breath the rises and sets within our breasts. He is witness to my thoughts as they dance from mind to page. Where else may they call home, aside from this empty parchment that contains every inch of my damned soul? They cannot remain within my mind...

"Writing again, my love...?" Katherine's petal delicate voice drifted from the doorway, causing him to tense. She had a way of creeping upon him like a ghost, with her cherub face painted into a melancholic gaze.

"...Yes." The words came out roughly under his breath. He turned his head, but could not lay eyes upon her. In truth, he would rather not for within her eyes reflected every aching inch of guilt for all the things he could not give her. They existed in symbiotic torment; feeding off one another as demons feed from man's soul. "I'm writing," The Captain forced his voice to be a little louder. "...please I would...prefer to write alone, if you do not mind...my dear."

"No." Came the usual echo. "Of course I do not mind." A stained lie that always flew from her lips.

He thought that would be an end to it, yet as his quill touched closer upon the paper, he felt her presence nearer. Supple lips brushed the side of his forehead. "Rest soon, beloved. You health has not been well as of late, and I worry. Come to bed soon." Then - just as abruptly as she had arrived, her perfumed presence dissipated, leaving him with his moody abandonment. She smelled of silk, lavender and cream.

Marriage must be God's punishment to those who are tempted with forbidden love. For I am most certainly a wretched creature, being as I am. No love shall ever come from this union, nor is the likelihood of children to ever pass. My God, I have failed her and my family's name for all I can see are his dark, vibrant eyes melting my soul away...

Arnold tossed the pen onto the table, causing a line of ink to spray across the oak desk. Many other such lines already lay there in existence. Clearly a poor habit of his. Standing, the soldier walked somberly to a
cabinet from which he pulled a crystal bottle of brandy. And as he sank back into his chair in pensive contemplation, the light scent of Katherine lingered in the room: lavender, silk and cream.

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