People in the Mist

Chapter Two

None of us knew where the lady went.  When we turned to leave the house, she was not present.  It did not surprise me, as to have gone to Davelda to meet me she and Thursdeck had to know about moving between realities.  That fact had me wondering just who I would be gaining as a valet, and if I would meet the lady again at some time in the future.

Father kept an active portal that could be used for regular passage between where he was calling home and the places where we resided.  Mochsha lived on her family’s estate.  Unlike most of the children of Galabur, she knew who her father and mother were.  The estate had been left neglected for about a century before she came into her inheritance, but every time I visited I found the dwelling to improve.  I stepped from the portal to her house and smiled seeing the door opened by the one I wanted.

Nerframe was very lovely.  While I wondered how much of her was only an illusion, the weight and feel of the lady had me completely accepting her as real.  Of course she wore the red hat, but she now had a number of outfits to cover her form.  Her appearance tended to look the same, so I was surprised to find something different about the black tresses that came from Nerframe’s head.

I had to ask, “You curled your hair?”

Nerframe replied, “You noticed?  Mochsha said you would not notice.”

“How did you curl your hair?  Did you just want your hair curled?”

Nerframe was actually a house elf.  She was a spirit being with only the simplest of forms.  There was a story behind why she appeared as she did, but most of it was due to the presence of the red hat that was magical.  Beside all the particulars, she was still a house elf with certain rules to her existence.

She shook her head to have the curls bounce while saying, “I do not know enough about hair or hairstyles to curl my hair, or even want it curled.  Mochsha was preparing for a gala at the viscounty, so was doing something to her hair and suggested that I might look better if I had my hair curled.  I didn’t see any harm in it, so let her do it.  Do you like it, Vernallor?”

Still attempting to solve a riddle, I asked, “But how could she curl your hair unless you had real hair?”

“Ladies have real hair, Vernallor, and I am definitely a lady.”

Nerframe was a lady because the magic of the hat made her appear as a lady.  She however was a house elf that could appear as she wanted to.  Since the hat made her appear as a lady, and since she wanted to wear the very special item, she accepted herself as a lady.  That did not mean that she was a lady, because she was still a house elf, but I decided not to further consider the riddle of her curly locks as I put her focus on the matter that brought me.

“Nerframe, this is Thursdeck.  I am thinking of accepting his offer to become my valet.  However, I wanted to make certain that you had no problems with him.”

“I have no problem with him, Vernallor, but your brothers all have ladies with them.”

“I was told that presently I needed a male guiding me.”

From inside the doorway I heard my sister say, “I would agree with that, Vernallor.  Would you want to visit outside?”

I was pleased to see a yellow radiance from my sister.  She had a light build like a female from a family like that of Orintious.  That did not surprise me, as both of them were from this world.  Mochsha however had long hair that was as tightly curled as mine.  I however had no idea about the color of her skin, as she glowed.  She admitted to having control over the color she would radiate, although I had come to believe that most of the time she had other things on her mind than how others saw her.  Yellow was a pleasant color, and I looked to my sister wondering how to spend time interviewing Thursdeck.

I asked, “Are any of Orintious’ men about?”

Mochsha replied, “No, Vernallor.  Winter is setting in, and I had enough men about my place attempting to block off most drafts.  Right now the people on my land are doing the same with their homes.  As for Orintious, he has his own estate with its own concerns for preparing for the winter.  It is just Nerframe and me at the moment.”

“We can go inside if you want.”

“It’s not cold yet, Vernallor, so we can come outside.  Nerframe, will you help me get some refreshments?”

The house elf looked past me while asking, “Heratin is not with you?”

I replied, “He was at the house, but was willing to trust you and Mochsha to determine the quality of Thursdeck.”

“I want to talk to you, Vernallor.  I don’t want to talk to him.”

“I want to assure that you will accept him, Nerframe.  If I send him here on an errand, will you trust him enough to allow him to do the errand?”

Mochsha said, “Vernallor is asking you, Nerframe, if you would give Thursdeck something he requested for Vernallor.”

Nerframe looked at the man, then admitted, “Yes, I would.”

I replied, “Then I am going to accept his place as my valet.”

Mochsha said, “That means Thursdeck will be allowed to sleep in this house when Vernallor is staying, or busy in the area possibly fishing with Dechapper.”

It helped me when I heard Nerframe admit, “Thursdeck is all right.”

The man had stood silently all this time, but now he bowed as he said, “Thank you, Lady Nerframe.”

“Vernallor is my friend.  He is not just the brother of my lady, but my friend.  Don’t you ever spoil that relationship.”

“I understand, Lady Nerframe.  I promise to never give you a reason to suspect anything but the best in motives from me.”

Mochsha came out with a pitcher of tea, and set it on a table while asking, “What do you usually do for the winter, Vernallor?”

“Me?” I returned.  “Mochsha, I have lived in Father’s houses up to now.  That journey to rescue you was the first time I actually got to spend a period away from home.  I might hang around you here just because I would like to learn what winter is.”

“Actually, Vernallor, I would not be against it.  There are rumors of men learning about me and preparing themselves to visit.  Actually, Baron Amonter tells me that they should wait to be introduced at the balls, but those occur in the winter.  I hear they have them in other months, but the winter galas are the most special because people will stay for a time.  During better months most will simply arrive, stay long enough to see who they desire or conduct what business they feel is important, then leave.”

She served the tea while saying that.  I noticed that a cup was filled for Thursdeck, although just sat out for the man to prepare it as he desired.  Glad that he was not being ignored, I calmly listened to my sister speak.

Once she had finished, I thought about what I had recently done to reply, “Orintious has me go with him in order to have a second for a lady that does not actually interest him.  I cannot exactly be a second for you, Mochsha.”

“Not for a dance, no, but you can say things to a man that I cannot.  Also, I can say things to a lady you cannot, in case you happen to enjoy the sight of someone.”

“Mochsha, I am only fourteen.  Most girls do not come out so young.”

“You are dancing with those Orintious pushes off on you?”

“Well, yes.”  Just to assure the truth of those words, I said, “I danced with Empress Straekin of Davelda.  She was a very charming person, even though we mostly spoke of Orintious.”

“Really?  You must tell me about that.”

I gained a further sense of time relating the social in Castle Davelda to Mochsha.  Empress Straekin had mentioned that her husband knew all of the children of Galabur.  Mochsha gave me the impression that Empress Straekin however did not.  My sister spoke of knowing King Terish, as he was a regular visitor to spend time with our Father.  It seemed that in her days Davelda was not such a hospitable place for foreigners.  While King Terish stayed active in certain circles, Empress Straekin had duties on Davelda that limited her travel.  Father did not speak much, but what he said verified things of establishing the time period to help me relate other events in our family.

It surprised me to learn that Mochsha had found other pictures of our family than those I was familiar with.  In speaking of the differences in some people we both knew, but with decades between our knowledge of them, I felt she thought I had not understood a point, which I felt I did.  I still obeyed her instructions to follow her inside the house, as I felt the interaction would help us get a better sense of each other.  It was then she pointed out certain pictures stressing things in the background and not just those in the foreground.

Having been a regular visitor in the house, I did notice the new item.  Mochsha was doing what she could to restore her home, but this was an item of decoration and not a recently restored section.  It was a large crystal statue of a dragon.  The length coiled to have the creature appear more like a legged, and winged, snake instead of a grand flying lizard.  It had been placed diagonally in a corner, and I saw where a candle had been placed until it burnt out.  I would have asked about it, but Mochsha moved to it while asking me a question.

“Do you remember Konclond?”

“Barely,” I admitted.  “He died when I was really young.  He was a dragon, but not a dragon like that.”

“No.  He was the brother before me.  As Heratin was my younger brother, I was Konclond’s younger sister.  Like most dragons, he liked gold, but I remember him showing Father this with pride.  Konclond always liked me for my glow, but in seeing the sparkle from this piece I found him wanting me around.  Father allowed it, because Konclond worked me on controlling my glow.  He did it to see the change in the sparkles from the statue, but those were still good lessons.  In speaking with Father about the siblings I knew, I of course asked about Konclond, and it was remembered that he gave me this.  Did Konclond give you anything, Vernallor?”

For someone who died when I was so young, I proudly spoke of my memories of him.  “He gave me the roly-poly beetle that I made.  I remember seeing all the gold and not liking the fact that he did nothing with it.  I believe he let me make the beetle because he did not think I would do anything worthwhile with the coins.  I however won the argument that the gold was gold in whatever form it was in.  With him watching I made this thing of overlapping plates of gold, and he helped me do the detail work to get it to actually roll up in a ball.  In the will he had written that the little toy was mine, but that he had only kept it because it was gold.  I have it as a paperweight in my room.”

“So, he stayed a good person?”

“He said, ‘Pets do not have gold, Vernallor, and I have much.  Those with gold do not have friends, but I have many.  It has been a hard life, Vernallor, but I managed what no dragon, and few people, ever do.  Learn a lesson, Vernallor, and become the person you want to become.’”

I saw tears come from the eyes of Mochsha before she said, “I wish I had been able to see him in his final days.  He loved me, well, he loved the fact that I glowed.  Still, I felt a friendship with him.”

“I always felt safe with him.  Normanie had all these rules when I stayed with her, but Konclond would let me do what I could.  Of course, there is little you can do to hurt rock and gold.”

Thursdeck did not interrupt our conversation.  Father did say things at times, but just enough to get Mochsha or me back to talking when things became silent.  Nerframe did speak with us with me enjoying her company.  At the close of the time I however found myself still wondering about Thursdeck.

Vernallor tries to deal with things as he settles into spending time with Mochsha.