Harbinger

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$55
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  • Scent Notes
    A classic Victorian manse set ablaze, filling the air with burning books and cherry furniture, exotic spices and incense, red and black musks, and violets.
  • Description
      Far in the distance, the manor was burning. Smoke billowed out of the windows beginning in the library on the second floor. Cherry furniture and leather-bound tomes turned to ash as the fire began to spread throughout the manse, climbing the walls and unfurling to the top and bottom floors with equal veracity. The smoke took on a distinct violet note as the fire tore through the closets, and turned spicy when it reached the kitchen pantry. With alarming quickness, the entire manse was engulfed in flames, right down to the moor it had stood upon for decades. People ran from nearby houses to see where the fire was, and stood in horror as the manse burned down in front of their very eyes. Weeping could be heard from miles around. “This is just awful,” one woman wept to her husband. “The Morris mansion is destroyed! This poor family! Our poor town!” Indeed, the Morris family had been a long-standing pillar of the community for as long as the house had stood. They were the wealthiest family in town by far, which certainly cemented their status. There was hardly a person in town who wasn’t somehow touched or involved with the Morris family, and they famously threw Halloween and Christmas parties that were open to all the townsfolk so everyone could have a wonderful holiday celebration and a hearty meal. They had founded a charity, and their factory chain employed many locals. Of course, that doesn’t mean they were well-liked or universally adored. Plenty of townspeople grumbled about low wages, unusual family dynamics, or any number of insults and rumors that can be spread about a prominent, wealthy family in a small community. The rumors had only begun swirling more when the family’s distant cousin, Miss Scarlet Beckwith, had come to stay some months ago. According to the gossip, she was absolutely beautiful, but mentally unstable, prone to ill tempers, and a big fan of every man she spent more than two minutes with. She was dramatic, with an expansive, expensive wardrobe. She slept all day and did not abide by anyone else’s rules or schedules. She’d been committed to a sanitarium at least once, perhaps thrice, if rumors were to be believed. In short, she flaunted traditional Victorian expectations of women, and many found her to be awful because of it, though her own family seemed to ignore the gossip. Except…. Arthur Morris, the eldest son of the Morris family, despised his cousin. They were nearly the same age, and had been expected to marry at some point in the future. But Scarlet had shut that down many years ago, stating she would never marry, and he had apparently taken the rejection quite hard. He was an attractive and charming man, and a very eligible bachelor, and his cousin’s lack of affection for him had turned his heart cold to her. Arthur had instead married a different distant cousin, Elizabeth Browning, in a lavish summer wedding just over two years ago. They hadn’t been married long when Scarlet moved into the estate, citing the harshness of city life and a doctor’s order to spend time in the country to relax her and soothe her delicate spirit. She was so worked up because the city atmosphere was too harsh on a fragile young woman like herself. Indeed, while the gossip about her still swirled around the town, the rest of the Morris family (minus Arthur and his bride) seemed thrilled to have her around. Their parties were more vibrant with her presence; townsfolk who worked in the manor told their friends she was a lovely, kind woman. They never saw an aberrant or suspicious behavior, though whether this was truthful or not couldn’t be officially verified. But as the mansion burned down, neighbors and townsfolk came to comfort the family. They were shocked to find only Arthur, Elizabeth, and Scarlet present. Arthur and Elizabeth kept stoic, silent faces, while Scarlet wept and threw herself around the lawn. Scarlet was covered in soot and residue and reeked of smoke. She had clearly been inside the house when it began burning. Arthur and Elizabeth looked nearly completely clean, making for a stark contrast to Scarlet. When inquiring about the other Morris family members, Scarlet just cried more while Arthur could only give a slight shake of the head. “They didn’t make it,” he said in a small voice. “She killed them and burnt down the house.” At this, Scarlet jumped up and began beating her fists against Arthur. “You bastard! I would never kill my family, nor burn down this house, my one safe place! I nearly died myself!” He quickly wrapped his arms around her and subdued her, forcing her back onto the ground, where she continued to cry until she apparently passed out. When the local police arrived, after their initial shock and horror, they asked Arthur and Elizabeth what happened. They both blamed Scarlet, claiming to have been away from the manor, and mentioning her famous mood swings, time in sanatoriums, and obvious state of disarray and distress as their proof. The police took their word, took the still unconscious Scarlet, and took her away. She awoke as they were leaving, and her screams and cries of distress and claims of innocence could be heard for miles. She was forced into another sanatorium. Rumor had it that this time, she wouldn’t be leaving. Time passed. Arthur and Scarlet inherited the entire estate and land, but with Scarlet out of the picture, Arthur claimed it all for himself. Unlike his parents, Arthur could not be described as kind or generous. The prosperity of the town floundered, though Arthur and Elizabeth prospered. They had a new manor built, but left the timbers and stone of the old one intact on the property as a sort of warning or symbol that made everyone uneasy. The rumors still flowed, though they were spoken much more openly now that the Morris name had been tarnished in such a spectacular fashion: first, by the fire; second, by Arthur’s actions afterwards. Many people left the town, as Arthur sold most of the businesses for spectacular profit to corporations who did not care about their employees. More time passed. Arthur and Elizabeth never had children. They’d heard no word from Scarlet, though they had confirmed she was committed to a lifetime in a sanitarium far away. So when the gossip that Scarlet had been spotted on the outskirts of town reached the new Morris mansion, they were both quick to dismiss the rumors. There’d been no word that she had been released, and no credible sightings. It was all just gossip by bored, poor townspeople. They had no interest in the rumors of the common people. They were too wealthy, and stuck up, for that. But perhaps they should’ve paid attention, as a few nights later, the manor was burning again. Only this time, nobody made it out.

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