OOC: When Arrethtraen's name is spelled "Arre", it's Arre Fawn. When it's spelled "Arr", it's Arr Doe.
I stopped outside the door of the jail, listening. I was appalled by what I heard.
"How many people have you killed?" I heard @Arrethtraen_Sprocketline yell.
Zara vehemently denied the charge, but Arr refused to believe it. She ended with a threat. I was about to enter when I heard @Corin_Dancepiper ask Zara, "How many weapons do you have?"
I saw red for a moment. I burst open the door, yelling as I did. "Stop! Stop it, you!"
Arr and Corin looked at me, surprised. @Gloria_Oldenpinner peered in. "Is everything alright?" She asked.
"No! No, it isn't!" I said, sturiding to Zara's cell. "I'm sorry," I said to her.
"Sorry for what?" She asked, confused. "I'm the one who hurt you."
"No." I said, "I'm sorry that they said those things about you. They don't know."
"Know what?" Arr asked.
"Don't tell them, Ella." Zara whispered to me.
"First, please call me Kelli." I answered. "Ella is dead."
"What are you talking about?" Corin asked. I could see he was intrigued.
I sank to a seat in front of Zara's cell. "I'm going to tell them, Zara."
"My name's Arre now."
"Oh, so sorry, Arre. I know a new name is the first part of a new identity. Sorry for calling you otherwise."
"Ell- er- Kelli," Zar- ugh, I gotta stop doing that! Arre! Gotta dig it into my brain. Arrearrearrearrearre. Arre said slowly. "Do you think explaining will help?"
"It has to. They think you're a murderer!"
Her head dropped. "I am NOT a murderer. Tell them, Kelli."
I closed my eyes and began my tale.
"Arre used to be named Zara Longstepper, but she disowned that name. She is now named Arre."
"Arre was abandoned as a baby, and was found by the worst possible person."
"Who?" Corin asked.
"Lucky." I said, and spat along with Arre. "Lucky, may he rot in his throne, found young Arre and raised her as his own. He trained her to spy for him, and she was one of the best."
"I knew she was evil." Arr murmured to herself. I heard, and a surge of anger ripped through through me. I stood and grabbed Arr's shoulder, yanking her a few inches from my face.
"Arre is not evil!" I yelled. "She is one of the noblest people I know! How do you think you would act, if you were brought up with Lucky," I and Arre spat again, "as a father, surrounded by the worst fog in Aethasia? It took enormous strength just for her to try to escape! She went through more agony than you could possibly imagine! I know, I saw it! I caused it!"
I turned to the cell. "Arre, I am so sorry for what I did."
Arre looked surprised. "For what you did? You did? Lucky," we spat, "used you."
"I should have seen through it, I should have known. You were just doing what the Scarlet Man said, and I tried to intervene."
"You were trying to help, and what happened to me wasn't your fault."
"What happened to you?" Corin asked. Arre's head dropped, and she didn't respond.
"The Worst happened to her." I said.
"The Worst of the Worst." Arre said, and shuddered.
Gloria gasped. "You don't mean..."
"Yes. He did it to a young girl."
Gloria's face screwed into a mixture of fury and disgust. "May Lucky," she joined us in spitting, "suffocate in his own fog." She moved to Arre's cell. "I am so sorry. If I had known, I would have never treated you this badly."
"What is 'the Worst'?" Arr asked.
"Pain." Arre said, in an eerie, hollow voice, then promptly passed out.
Gloria quickly unlocked the cell and began undoing the shackle. "She needs to be somewhere comfortable. Can you think of anywhere?"
"Books and Crannies," I answered. "It's got tons of couches."
"No. No, no, no." Arr said. "You are not bringing her into my shop."
"Arr, she needs help!" Gloria argued.
"She hurt you!"
"She went through the Worst, and I don't blame her for being jumpy."
"Jumpy? She breaks your rib and you call it 'jumpy?'"
Arr turned away. I scowled at her. "And you call yourself a follower of the Scarlet Man."
Arr stiffened. "You have no place to talk to me about the Scarlet Man, Kelli."
"But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" I quoted, remembering what the Scarlet Man had said.
I could see that a war was being waged in Arr's heart, flesh tugging one way, soul the other.
"No." She said after a moment. "I will not let her into my shop." She turned and walked out of the jail.
"We could use my house," Corin piped up. "I have an apartment with a bed."
"Thank you, Corin," Gloria said. As we made our way to Corin's house, she turned to me. "Thank you for what you said, Kelli. I hope it hits Arr hard and makes her think about her actions."
"I didn't say it. The Scarlet Man did."
"He told it to me when me and Arre were recovering after he rescued us."
"Did you go through the Worst too?"
I grimaced. "No, but I saw enough of it to need recovery."
"We both deserve so much worse. We both should still be there, after what we did."
"What did you do?"
"Gloria, it's...it's.... it's too terrible and wonderful to talk about now. I need more time."
We walked in silence for a few moments, Arre cradled in Gloria's capable arms. I looked at them and knew it had to hurt Gloria's rib to carry her.
"Mercy. That's what I love most about the Scarlet Man." I decided. He had shown mercy toward me, Gloria had mercy on me, and even Arre hadn't held me accountable for what I did. Mercy, I thought, was the most beautiful thing in the world.
We arrived at Corin's apartment and laid Arre down on his bed. Her eyes opened for a moment, but as soon as she saw us, they snapped shut.
"Don't hurt me, don't hurt me," she whimpered.
"We won't hurt you," I said, laying my hand on her cheek. "We..." I gasped. Arre's cheek radiated heat. She had a raging fever. "Gloria, she's burning up!" I exclaimed. Gloria laid her hand on Arre's forehead, and worry spread over her face instantaneously. She felt Arre's pulse and turned to Corin.
"Go get a doctor, Corin. NOW!"