Chapter 6: Eternal Part 1
Tales from the Devil's Café
"Nothing last forever…"
Those were the parting words, the last of the voice that remained as a distant memory. The speaker was long gone, vanished with the passing of time unknown to everyone except one who remembered. That person stood unwavering feeling the mid-autumn breeze which brushed gently to a cooling touch, soothing the hurt momentarily by providing a moment of solace and peace. Everything seemed calm at that time and all movements appeared to halt. It was not quiet but there were the comfortable sounds of nature from the surrounding trees. The rustling of golden maple leaves and sweeping of grass on the earth gave a symphony from Mother Nature herself.
The surrounding environment and all that encompassed in that very moment was eternal. True it will end in mere seconds when the magic of the wind stop and the leaves fall to ground, but the instant of the beauty was stored in a memory for all time. The beauty of nature would live on every time a recollection was made, as long as that person existed. So as the immortal kept walking the words would remain not only in heart but also transcend through the past, present and into the future. A few encounters brought eternity into mind, stories from strangers, personal experience to predictions in what was yet to come.
She stood at a corner just outside a small quaint looking café, patiently waited for a very long time. The passing moments seemed meaningless to her as not once did she glance at her watch. In a relaxed posture she stood ever so dignified awaiting her yet to show up companion.
Inside the café seated a young gentleman and he was observing her every now and then. Two empty cups once filled with dark espresso remained on the table alongside a third one with steaming heat emitted from the recent content. He was there since two hours ago, enjoying his heavy loaded caffeine while staring at a piece of blank white from his paper notebook. Sure once in a while he scribbled a few words but it never made it to a full sentence. He suffered a common disease well known to those who create things from a pen and paper – a writer's block. That imaginary mind of his just couldn't seem to function at its most crucial state. He only needed a few pages more to end his latest work, a tragic tale of love, betrayal, and vengeance.
A typical romance writer who does occasional children best sellers, stuck in a pathetic stage of closure for his love story. The girl outside in all her glorious resolution was his distraction throughout the whole time. Maybe he was just giving an excuse for his lame condition but she was an attention grabber. Despite her petite figure she was graceful in every sense. Her warm natural brunette locks gave a nice frame to her well-defined features. She has a timeless look, and her face remained that of the preserved ancient beauty. For as long as he could remember, she was already outside when he first entered the café. His curiosity dragged on by the length of time she had waited and fueled further with the question of whom was she waiting for.
He took a sip of his espresso and looked up at the bright blue sky. "It's going to be a sunny day after all." A low rumble sound broke the silence environment in the café. The young writer put his cup down and stared at the busy street outside, to his surprise droplets fell from the sky before giving way to rain in the mid-afternoon.
The sun still shone brightly – a sunshine rain, he dragged his almond hazel eyes towards the girl and there she remained at the very same spot unwavering. Before he knew it, he grabbed the jacket behind his chair and rushed out the café to her direction. "Care to join me for a cup inside?" shielding them both with his jacket he looked intently at her, hoping she wasn't startled by his sudden invitation.
She scanned the stranger carefully, a glint of amuse in her clear blue eyes and she smiled. "Sure." Together they entered the café and graciously he led her to his table and offered her a seat. As if on cue, a waitress dropped by and offered towels for them to dry up.
"What would you like? It will be my treat for taking up your time." He offered courteously. "I'll have what he's having, thank you." Pointing to the small cup on the table she informed the waitress while handing the used towel back.
"Are you sure? It's pretty strong stuff." He teased a little seated across her. "You are lucky I'm not ordering Scotch." She retorted with a playful wink at him and reassured the waitress of her espresso. They waited a moment for her drink to be served, enjoying the silent companionship of each other in temporary.
He first noticed her surreal beauty when she stood outside, however up close at such near distance he found her alluring aura even more astounding. Her fingers were graceful and gentle as she picked up her steaming cup and sipped carefully. "This is good…" putting her cup down, she absentmindedly fluttered her long dark lashes as bright blue eyes gazed at the face of her admirer. "Can you see without them?" she asked curiously pointing at the spectacles he wore.
"Oh of course, these are just my reading glasses." He took them off to state his point. A little giggle came from her, "You look very dashing without them."
"Thank you for the compliment Miss…"
"Charis, and you are?"
"John Sparks and it's a pleasure to have you join me Charis." His smile ever so friendly and warm as his hazel brown eyes reflected a genuine honesty on display.
She couldn't possibly miss that and something more, "Are you perhaps a writer John?"
"Is it that obvious?"
"Your pen and notebook," she indicated with a nod, "In this time and age I thought everyone would have gone tech and opted for a computerized notebook."
"Well yes, I do have one at home. But writing the traditional way seems to bring out the best of ideas from an author. It gets me in the mood to continue weaving stories to life." He explained with a tinge of excitement in his voice.
"I agree but you don't seem to be gaining much productivity for today isn't it?" she was looking at the empty white masterpiece on the table.
In reply he sighed a little, "Yes…I'm afraid I'm having a writer's block attack at the moment."
"So what stories do you write about?" she inquired like a curious child with her big blue eyes staring at him.
"Romance, but occasionally I write children tales too. Currently I'm working on a tragic love story and I got stuck with the ending. My editor in-charge is going to have my head next morning if I can't hand in the manuscript on time."
"Well you seem rather relaxed coming to a café to get your dosage of caffeine while you should be locked up at home finishing your work." He smiled at her blunt statement.
"Why yes, but I'm not good working indoors. The fresh air outside helps clear my brain. How about you Charis? Are you waiting for someone? I couldn't help but notice you standing outside for quite some time."
"No wonder I felt a chill down my spine. I saw you looking occasionally." She drank her espresso again in dainty sips.
"It's hard not to look when someone so beautiful like you make an appearance. Is that person important? Or perhaps you are to attend a special engagement of sort?" his earnest questions intrigued her.
"Something like that…we've made a promise and it was broken, so now I'm trying to salvage what was left. Even just a small glimmer of hope…" her soft voice a distant as she gazed at the outside scenery.
"You've waited for like an eternal out there," he too joined the direction of her gaze.
"Eternal is such a very long time, it depends on how you define it. But it is more of an illusion than reality, because nothing last forever. We can be the foolish ones to depict eternity in our lifespan. It is ever changing, this world we live in. Nothing stays the same no matter how hard you try to convince yourself." Her clear blue eyes sought out his hazel brown ones and held them mesmerized. "Would you like to hear a story John? In return for your treat,"
It took a moment for him to realize her words, the way she stared intently into his eyes was soul searching. "S-Sure I guess, that'll be nice." She smiled ever so gentle at his sudden awkwardness.
"Let's begin then, in a place long forgotten consumed by the passing of time…"
A story told of a blind maiden and a brave warrior. It was a long time ago when empires were built and wars waged between emperors to gain supremacy and lands when the world was yet to be bordered. Power hungered and ruthless they fought for control commanding tens and thousands of imperial armies to do their biddings. There were times of glories and prosperity, but also of grieves and lost. The people suffered when in defeat, and prospered when a war was won. But the irony of the rich became richer and the poor became slaves remained. Such was the fate of those who stayed within the influence of empires. Those who lived on the outskirts, well if lucky got to keep their simple lifestyle. And if not, they would flee their village and escape elsewhere before the attack could get to them. It was an era of uncertainty, and the question of life and death always came to mind.
At the tender age of sixteen she lived a carefree life. A high-spirited village girl who spent most of her time herding goats and tending to house chores, her father a simple farmer and her mother a happy housewife. She was the youngest in her family, with an older protective brother who rarely let her out of his sight.
There was a reason to the constant attention she was given, despite her youthful beauty she was born handicapped. Her sight was gone ever since her birth, she came to the world in darkness and remained there throughout her life. However, her disability didn't stop her from how she wanted to live her life. To be happy and live life to the fullest, doing the best she could in everything and never give up so to keep the promise of making everyday meaningful even if she was deprived of the privilege of seeing the world around her. She believed all she ever needed to see was through her heart. The people she loved and the place she grew up in, the images were present ever so vividly in her mind. She was strong and positive, her peaceful life and loving family a treasure above all else and she prayed hard in hope that nothing will change.
One day, an unusual discovery within the woods unraveled her destiny. An injured man dressed in commoners garb left unattended, subconscious of his surroundings as he drifted between the fine lines of reality and fantasy.
"Are you alright?" although she couldn't see but the man's distress was not unnoticed. He could only groan in pain as reply. "Don't worry, let me help you." With much difficulty she managed somehow to drag him all the way to her house. Needless to say both her parents were shocked and her older brother was less than pleased.
"Just who is this man?" her mother inquired upon spotting the stranger leaning on her daughter. "An injured person." She replied promptly trying to balance herself with the extra weight depending on her.
"You brought a stranger back with you?! Are you out of your mind? You don't even know if he's involved with the army." Her older brother intercepted with a look of suspicion at the stranger who couldn't even lift his head up.
"My mind is intact, and I'm capable of knowing when to offer help when in need. Can't you see that he's hurt? I can't leave him out there in the woods…the wild beasts would have gotten to him." A single look of pleading from his headstrong little sister was all that needed to crumble his rock solid resolve, and with reluctance the brother gave in. Thanks to the reasoning of the girl, the stranger was taken in and healed of his injuries. Throughout his stay there he was distant but helpful to the family in order to repay their kindness.
"You are very quiet aren't you?" she confronted him one sunny afternoon while he lay resting on a plain field. "You must be very lonely…Do you have any friends? What about your family?" she added following the silent reply she received. A windy breeze passed by and the stranger remained quiet, she was getting a bit annoyed on being ignored. "I'm not going to press further if you don't feel like talking, but it won't hurt to be polite towards people who are concern about you. I heard from brother that your wounds have healed. It's great that you are fine now, don't go carelessly getting yourself hurt again."
Just as she was about to stand and leave the place, the stranger finally spoke, "Thank you…"
"Did you say something?" halted in her spot she turned around.
"I'm sorry for being rude and thank you for helping me back then. Your kindness, I am forever indebted to you for it. Even when you have your own problems you still save my life, and I truly thank you for it." His voice gentle and calm drew her attention to him.
"You're welcome. When you said problem, you meant that I'm blind. You don't have to go around it, I'm perfectly aware of that fact. I've lived my entire life in blindness and I go about taking care of myself with no problem." Crossing her arms she miraculously looked at him as if she could sense the exact spot where he slept.
"Sorry if I've offended you, but I don't mean it that way." He immediately sat up and looked at her, bright blue unfocused eyes and wavy pale blond hair cascaded down her back like a snow river.
Her smile caught his interest in a heartbeat, it was warm and it came from within her. He never had many who smiled at him partially due to his stoic and quiet nature, and another side factor that he was very tall and appeared intimidating to others. Although his built was somewhat slender but his taut muscles was the very proof of his fighting skills, solemn in appearance he could be lethal if required.
Agilely he stood up and moved towards her, his breathing shallow and calm like a predator walking up to it's prey. She sensed his cautiousness as he stood before her, she knew he was examining her with his gaze and felt a slight discomfort with his actions but she remained rooted to her spot. "Your smile is beautiful little one…" his tone was half awe and half appreciative as he stood there staring at her face, his light gray eyes though held no emotions previously seemed to warm. The voice he spoke with was gentle yet deep and she felt foreign to have a stranger spoke to her in such near proximity but somehow she truly sensed the sincerity of his comment.
"Thank you…Don't you smile often? I'm sure you look beautiful too when you do!" she beamed further in her smile, but noticed all too soon what she has just spoken. "Oh I'm sorry! I mean you look handsome when you smile," she corrected with a tinge of embarrassment. Although she couldn't get a glimpse of what he looked like, but in her mind there was no doubt that he was beautiful. True to the image she has he was, but she wouldn't know.
"I thank you again for saving my life, milady. And true to my word, my life is indebted to yours." He took her hand and placed a chaste kiss on top of it, "Should you need my help, you may come to me in Greece and I will be more than willing to do you favor." She felt an object in her palm that instant, it was a medallion embossed with a sort of symbol. "I have to leave and return to my king."
The tender hold on her hand was released and she sensed him walked away. The medallion in her hand held in a tight grip and she spoke up, "Lycurgus! Will I ever see you again?"
The man with dark raven shoulder length hair turned briefly, his light gray eyes trained on her being and said so soft a whisper "Take care, Charis…" Then he was gone like a lone wolf to return to the country he served.
"Her name was Charis?"
"Yes John, just a coincidence in naming that's all. And it's a very noble name derived from ancient Greek, it means grace and kindness." She smirked at his raised brow.
"Oh…" he took a sip of his espresso and sat back comfortably. "So what happened then? Did she meet up with him in Greece?"
"You really are paying attention. I'm glad, for a moment I thought you would be bored."
"No, it's interesting so far. I like to know more about Lycurgus. Where he's from and who was he really? Not a mere soldier I suppose."
"You're no fun, you've guessed too soon. But no, he's not just a soldier." Her twinkling eyes looked at him, "Let's get back to the story shall we, you'll learn more about the hero in time. Let's focus on the heroine for now…"
A year has passed since then, the scene shifted to an unpleasant sight. A place of corruption, of foul smell from rotting flesh and human trading – a slave market, where innocent souls were tortured and defiled sold to the highest bidder by the slaves drivers, to those whom they would call master without a purpose but purely due to the action of a transaction.
Brought to a foreign land against her will, Charis was hurt far beyond salvation by the tragedy that befell her family and the very village she lived in all her life. The gods have forsaken her prayer and they took all that she cherished from her in that one single night when an attack by opposing army killed countless lives and robbed the villagers of their hard earned wealth. Her parents murdered mercilessly and her only brother stabbed to death while protecting her, she tried to run while hearing screams of terror and smelling the scent of fresh blood surrounding her.
Helpless in her own dilemma she wanted to help others, but the grief and pain she felt clouded her mind too much. Charis was a lost soul even as her survival instinct was strong she was captured in the end. The last senses that enveloped her before she finally gave in to unconsciousness were the sounds of crackling burn, the heat of flames and the scent of smoke – she knew her village was being burned down that very instant along with her childhood memories and dreams which she built around the warm loving home that she once had.
Bright blue eyes now a shade paler lost in a fog of tears as she sat huddled in a corner of her confinement cage. Anguish and frustration were rooted deep within her, but more than that the despair and pain of losing her loved ones tore her apart. There was nowhere for her to run, escape was pointless in her condition and she knew her end was near somehow.
Gripping hard in her hands was the only comfort she found with the treasured medallion given to her a year back. Even as the object was hard as steel and cold to the touch it gave her warmth in a special way, remembering the voice of its owner provided a momentary solace for her. A nonexistent sanctuary where she could let got of her sadness and let her tears flowed to mourn for her lost.
"What do we have here?" she recognized the voice; it belonged to one of her captors. "Give it to me, a slave shouldn't be holding on to something so priceless!" the man snatched the medallion from her grip.
"No! Give it back it's mine!" her hand extended outside the metal cage as she tried desperately to gauge the position of the slave driver.
"A slave like you doesn't deserve to have possessions. Why don't you give it to me instead? I'll have far more usage for it than you…" he sneered at the same time admiring the gold object with a circular shape and a wolf's head embossed in the center surrounded by encrusted precious stones. "Besides, you'll be put on display for potential buyers today. A pretty little thing like you should fetch in a high price, if you're not blind that is. I'll take this as compensation for half the price that you should have been worth." He kept the medallion safe and secure in his pouch and gave her a last one over look. "Consider yourself lucky you're not thrown in with the rest of those worthless ones."
"And to be sold off to prostitution just so I can pleasure bastards like you will be a better choice for me?" she spat with an angry glare through her tears.
The captor went up to her and grabbed a hold of her pale blond tresses, "Trust me you wouldn't want to sentence your life to eternal slavery doing heavy work, they will use you up to the very last bone you have in that delicate body of yours." He warned in an eerily calm tone and released her. "You will have better luck in attracting a master who might treat you preciously unlike common slaves, use that pretty face of yours and try to get pity from the bidders later."
"I will never ask for pity from them!" she moved back to avoid any sudden attack just in case.
"Suit yourself feisty one," he laughed before finally leaving her alone again. Whatever the fates has in store for her she couldn't care less, for the inevitable was coming. She would try to escape and live or die trying, whichever path it would be she was determined not to be a slave to anyone.
The door at the café's entrance opened to enter two gentlemen, one dressed in a dark trench and the other in a lavish white suit. "Welcome back, is everything well?" the waitress enquired once she approached them.
"Splendid, as usual it's good to have a dependable servant at one's side." Golden eyes trained on the companion who stood beside, the figure was quiet but obviously worn out.
"My Lord, should you permit me to take a rest while I put away our latest souvenirs?" the voice a rich deep velvet as pale gray eyes looked at the Devil awaiting for a reply.
"Go if you must,"
"Thank you, my Lord." After giving a respective bow he left the two and headed towards the kitchen. Without sparing a second glance the Devil averted its attention to the waitress. "He's rather passive today, that wolf. Putting that aside, we have guests today Vie."
She looked skeptically at him, "We do have guests like any other day Lucifer," He gave her a disapproving look. "Oh you don't understand do you? I'm implying real patrons, those who can see me." Both of them glanced briefly towards the couple seated by the window.
"Are you sure?" Apparently only those who were fated to meet the Devil would actually be able to see him. "Positive." Just to prove his point, Lucifer put on a charming smile so irresistible that it caught Charis's attention. And she smiled to him in return before resuming her talk with the writer.
"Do you suppose she came looking for you?" Vienne probed as she returned her questioning gaze to the Devil. But he didn't answer and instead diverted his interest to the tall gentleman who has halted his track and clearly in shock. "Perhaps you can tell me, Lycurgus."
The commanding voice of Lucifer's was heard in his head, a teasing yet malicious underlying tone. Lycurgus's mind was a total blank once he set eyes on the petite brunette seated not far away, "It can't be…" the words came out almost inaudible as long forgotten memories surged his brain in a sudden flood.
"My love, are you well?" a familiar soft gentle voice spoke, he stirred awoke to be greeted by the sight of a loved one. Beautiful bright blue eyes the reminiscence of a clear sky stared deep into his soul.
"What is it Charis?" he gently pushed away some stray strands of pale blond from her worried face, smiling warmly at the one he embraced in protection.
"You are having nightmares again…" she nuzzled closer to his chest finding comfort in the scent that was uniquely his.
"I'm fine, sorry for making you worried."
"Don't apologize Lycurgus, we each have our own fears like others. Please keep in mind that I'll always be there to comfort you should you need me." She lifted her head to kiss him on the jaw, "I may not be able to vanquish your nightmares entirely, but what I can provide you is a little bit of sanctuary during harsh times. I'm sorry for not being able to do more…How I wish I could…" He was more than happy to learn of her concern for him.
"Just having you by my side is more than what I need. There's nothing else required as long as you're safe with me." His silver gray eyes watched over her like a guardian, the gentleness in them derived from love and sorrow. "I'm sorry I couldn't protect you back then, to honor my promise to you. I have caused you great grief in witnessing your own family's death and the destruction of your village."
"But you did come for me, at the slave market if it were not for you I wouldn't be here living a life of peace and contentment. Promise me that you will not abandon me, I have no one left but you." She reached a hand to cup his face, blue unseeing eyes searched for an answer. Her sight was gone and couldn't be trusted, however her heart could tell from the tone of his voice and she needed real honesty from him at that moment.
"I promise, for all eternity."
"Lycurgus, you're spacing out." Lucifer commented calmly in his mind, his golden eyes transfixed on Charis. "The betrayer is here, don't you want revenge? Your opportunity presents itself right before your very eyes."
Vienne was genuinely worried as she looked at Lycurgus. She sensed a deep rage and conflicts of emotion battling within the wolf spirit. His sliver gray eyes were of a predator and his stance tensed. Instinctively she went and reached out to touch Lycurgus on the arm and called his name softly. A moment later the tall figure sighed as he regained conscious, "I'm ok, Vienne." His voice reassuring and the smile he usually wore were back in place.
Lucifer was less than pleased that his enticement got ignored but he knew the best was yet to come as the story continued to unfold from the teller of tales.
"So as Charis was being displayed in the slave market, a turn of event took charge at the other side of the venue." She paused briefly to drink in another sip. From the brim of her dainty cup she caught a glimpse of him – out of the corner of her eyes she saw a familiar face, a person she once knew long ago. Carefully she put her espresso down and got up from her seat.
"Charis, is something wrong?" John's concern got pushed aside as she hushed him and continued her path towards the past.
'It's not her…' the words kept playing in his mind. In front of him she looked different, no more the cascading pale blond hair and the light blue eyes he remembered so well. Yet no matter how he denied it, he could sense her soul was the very same. The Charis before him and the Charis he loved in the past was the very same person. 'It's not her.'
To be continued.