Here's the start of a story idea that came to me the other day. Not sure what it will turn into to, but I like the premise...
Dalia sidled to Imogene and whispered, “See that gent in the cloak at the far table?” Imogene nodded. “He gave me the right shivers when I served him. There’s something wrong with that one. I think we maybe ought to keep an eye out for trouble.”
Imogene stared at the gentleman in question, and a small memory of his features needled at the back of her brain. With a flicker, and then a surge, the memory flowed free. She sucked in her breath. For a moment she wanted to shiver.
“Leave him to me, Dalia.”
Imogene strode across the tavern floor and plopped her girth down on the bench opposite the stranger. “You haven’t changed much.”
The stranger gazed at her, his face partially shadowed by his hood, but she trembled under the bore of his intense jade-coloured eyes.
“Have we met before?”
“No, but you came to my village once when I was a child. Cathburg, up near the northern border. Do you remember it?”
“Yes. I remember it very well.”
“I thought you might. They didn’t let my cousin go easily.” She smiled, a sad and rueful twinge twisting the edges. “You haven’t aged. Not a day. But your kind don’t, do they?” She tilted her head. “Your eyes are different, though. Still formidable, but a weariness in them now, less fervour.”
“The passing years will do that…to my kind.”
“I expect so.” She sighed. “Who are you here for?”
“I don’t know yet.” He smiled, a disconcerting gesture. “But not you. That much is clear.”
Imogene chuckled. “Not much chance of that, not now, not at my age. You most always take `em young, don’t you?”
The man nodded. “As a rule, the magic calls early.”
“And pity the unfortunate soul that it summons.”
“There are worse lots in this existence, than to enter into the service of magic.”
“Aye. But not many.” Imogene rose to her feet, a reflective look on her face. “Just letting you know you’ll get no difficulties from me, but try not to bust up the place if there’s resistance.”
The man gave a low, horse chortle. “I’ll try.”
With a polite nod, she left the man to his business, to find her path blocked by an eager, inquisitive Dalia.
“So who is he, is there trouble brewing?”
“Yes, but it’s the kind to keep clear of, so stay away and don’t interfere in whatever happens.”
Dalia frowned. “I don’t understand. If he’s a good-for-nothing prone to bring problems, why let him stay?”
“Leave it be, sometimes you’re too curious for your own good, girl.” At Dalia’s irritated look and refusal to move, Imogene sighed. Dalia was nothing if not persistent.
“If you must know, the gentleman in question is a Realm Traveller, from the Wizard Keep.” Imogene felt a twinge of satisfaction as Dalia’s complexion turned pale. “He’s come to collect some poor soul fated to become a practitioner of magic. So steer clear of him lest you find yourself caught up in wizardry.”
Dalia nodded vigorously and scurried back to her work serving the tavern’s patrons, taking a wide berth around his table to avoid the Traveller. Imogene wandered behind the bar, and idly stared at the stoic, formidable man.
I wonder who he’ll take, which one will walk in this place and have their life changed.