Story within the Tales of the Druid Knight
Chapter 1 - Specter
By William Black
The young demoness sat alone in the small café, sipping liquorice spice tea and gazing out the window to the square below. Her eager eyes taking in the scene below. The day was grey and misty. A day for staying inside and warm, but D~Mentia was not the stay-indoors type. She felt edgy at having to wait. Waiting for a courier to bring her payment for her last tracking job. But her edginess was more than impatience. The last night's vision disturbed her. A ghost, or what appeared to be a ghost, had visited her. In the night it has slipped past her mental defences and entered her dreams. When she awoke, it was hovering above her, just out of reach.
And whose shade was it? It felt familiar and warm; not at all like the ghosts of childhood nightmares. She perceived it was trying to speak, but didn't seem to have the energy... so it floated above her gesturing.
She brushed an errant lock of dark hair behind her ear as she considered the vision. She should be able to place his face. The young man or ghost had a cool and discerning look to his eyes, yet they were also distant and lost. He appeared to be asking her for guidance... gesturing to the room, or was it a place she could not see?
D~Mentia shook her head violently, shaking off the night's dream. She took another sip of tea. The day was growing greyer. The mist had taken firm hold on the town below. Out of the corner of her eye she caught movement. The proprietor of the café saddled up to the table, his greasy apron belying the cleanliness of the shop.
"Mistress, do you have need or want of anything else?"
She glanced at her tea, and shrugged. "No, I'm fine thank you."
The old man didn't move.
"Is there something else, Sir?" D~Mentia held her annoyance in check.
"No, Mistress... I just thought you might need or want something else. You've been sitting here for over an hour nursing your tea."
"How long I've been here and how I drink tea, are my own affair. So if there is nothing else, I'd like to be alone. If you don't mind that is."
The old gentleman looked hurt, but shuffled away quietly.
D~Mentia glanced back out of the window. There were few people out, but those who were kept their heads down, as if looking at the ground made the mist seem more bearable. Something out of place caught her attention. Down near the apothecary the mist seemed to be shifting oddly. Long tendrils of vapour swirled around an unknown obstacle. She narrowed her keen eyes to get a better view. The mist continued to act as if there was something there. She shook her head trying to clear her vision. Then she noticed a young girl approaching the vortex with outstretched arms. The girl looked to be about 16 years of age and of noble baring. As she approached, the mist swirled more violently; tendrils formed the appearance of arms, which seemed to reach out to the approaching lady.
D~Mentia had no time for foolish girls, but the spectre intrigued her. Anyway, she had waited long enough for the courier to bring her money. She would get her wages, a mischievous grin crossed her full lips, though it was often more trouble than it was worth to track down the delinquent employer. She glanced out of the window one last time to see if the spectre was still there. It was. And so was the girl. D~Mentia threw a few coins on the table, crabbed her sword, then hurried out of the café. By the time she got to the street to cross, the young woman was putting down her arms and the mist was returning to normal.
"Damn!" D~Mentia ran to where the girl stood and looked into the mist. "Girl, what are you doing here?"
The young woman looked at her with fire in her eyes. "The name is Stargem. And what I'm doing is of no concern of yours." With that Stargem turned on her heels and walked purposely away.
"Wait!" D~Mentia's long stride brought her in step with Stargem. "I didn't mean to be so gruff," she lied, but found that when dealing with humans, it was better to be cordial, and periodically dishonest. She continued, "It's just that I want to know what you were talking to. It looked like you were having a conversation with that cloud." D~Mentia managed a disarming smile.
"That 'cloud' is the shade of one of my best friends..." Stargem looked straight ahead, continuing on her way, but D~Mentia could sense the tears in the girl's eyes.
"Well, maybe you can help me. If you tell me who your friend is, I may have a bit of news for you." Seeing Stargem's eyes grow guarded, she continued, "I've had a vision of a ghost the last few nights. It seems to be asking me for something. Now, please tell me of your friend."
Stargem stopped short. "Tell me your tale, and then I'll decide whether it's worth my time to talk with you."
D~Mentia smiled, a genuine and warm smile. Maybe this girl wasn't as foolish as other young human females she had met. She had spunk and courage. D~Mentia would give her that. The demoness cocked an eyebrow at the girl; "Do you know what I am?" Her voice lowered to a whisper, a veiled threat caressing her words.
"You appear to be a demoness, but your elven features are far too evident, so you're a half breed." Stargem held D~Mentia's gaze.
"That's right, young one. I could tear the answers out of you in very short order. That is, if I wished. But fool that I am, I actually like you. I really do." She chuckled. "You have courage. I like that. But I really want to settle the meaning of these visions. So, if you don't mind, tell me who or what you were talking to.
By the way, I know something about visions. If it is of your friend, then he needs help. He would not try to contact me if he didn't believe I could help. So consider that before you try to evade the question again."
Stargem held the demoness' gaze. "Alright, I see no reason to hide it anyway. I just don't like people to demand things of me." She looked down at her feet, then back into D~Mentia's dark eyes. "The shade is that of the Druid Knight, Sir Will of Annsbury. He appears to me sometime; not often, but enough for me to know he is still alive."
D~Mentia looked at the girl. All of a sudden her heart warmed to the young lady standing in front of her. For the demoness had lost loved ones herself and knew how hard it was to let go.
William Black ©