Exerpt from the ‘On the Trail of the Whistling Fiend – The Account of Alain van Thrift’
I shall never forget that morning, its details and nuances are seared into my mind as bright as the dawn sunlight that thrust about the edges of that old red curtain that hung over my study’s sole window. I was perusing Etherard’s Compendium of Old-Mist Horror’s, which as it turns out, was rather apt. Something small fell out of the book and fluttered to the floor. The deep, rich colours of the oil paint caught my eye and recognition of what it was overcame me before I had even turned to look upon it. As I picked it up and turned it around in my hands, I was, of course, looking upon a card from a familiar tarot deck. The 10 of Stars. Slight cracks in that old paint were the only thing that could give away its age; it was oddly pristine. As if it hadn’t aged a day. It was exactly as it had been when I was a child.
Yet, I was not surprised. It was a moment I had long expected, at times dreaded, but in that instant I simply accepted it with a strange serenity. The culmination of the all ordeals I had endured, the lessons I had learnt and the skills (indeed, magyks), I had mastered.
I placed the book carefully down upon my dresser, leaving it open upon the page the old tarot card had fallen from. I glanced at the page (it recounted the tale of the Phantom-Dog of Gespenthund, the significance of which was lost on my young self in his youthful naïveté. In hindsight, of course, the connotations are obvious), stood up, took my cloak, spell-book (in those days it was mostly blank parchment!) and travelling satchel. With barely a glance around the room which I had spent the vast majority of my waking moments the last 10 or so years (and to which, I am sorry to say, I never returned), I walked through the threshold and strode-swiftly to the courtyard.
I was a little taken aback by what I saw there, although of course I took pains to make sure this fact was concealed. Twas simply a cart, albeit one ordained with attractive intricate carvings (of crows, perhaps ravens although ornithology is not a speciality of mine, flying over the roof of some grand building). I suppose I was expecting something a little more grandiose, considering the import I weighted upon the moment, recognising it as a turning point in my life, such as it had been up until that point. But life is never as one expects or imagines and the colourful and ornate carriage that would whisk me away on my adventurous venture would never arrive. (I learnt later never to judge a vardo by its cover, if you’ll excuse the brutalised metaphor, as they come in many shapes and indeed, sizes)
The young vistani man simply nodded to me as I climbed aboard. I was unsure what to say, somewhat lost for words by the enormity of the occasion and we sat in silence as he took me through the mists. As is often the case with such journeys it became impossible to track the passage of time and I can say neither whether we journeyed for hours or minutes. I could not even tell you which it appeared to me to be. The odd dilation of time is symptomatic of the strange magics of the vistani and is worthy of a tome of its own. And so I sat in quiet contemplation of what might await me at the end of my strange misty journey – it was as the others, thick white mist without – although in this case nearly unique in that my ‘carriage’ appeared open topped. Despite that fact not a single tendril encroached further than the bullwark my driver had doubtless created. I began to daydream of what I might find. Perhaps an old castle, standing forboding over a downtrodden and desolate village? It would be raining, with rumbles of distant thunder. The villagers would run up to me as I dismounted my coach, pleading for salvation from the darkness.
My theatrical imaginings were cut short as the mists cleared and I noted our passage through the main street of Mordentshire. It came to a slow stop outside The Beached Mermaid
Lester will finish soon