The Tale of Sir Richard and Dave, the Maiden of the Mist

Editor’s Note: Our book has two gay characters: Sir Richard and his partner, Demetrius Keats. Although they end up on opposite side of the war, their love for each other was an important storyline. However, at one point, I wrote a little story for Richard to become infatuated with a female.

Although it had to be cut for length, I wish I could have kept it in, because it showed a softer side of Sir Richard, who is a classic villain. Here is an abridged version of that storyline. Richard is on the hunt for Kay, Irene, Nan and Fitzgerald after they escape the Secret Valley.  KC Cowan

It was late afternoon when Richard and his men made camp. He sent a few soldiers to try and find some game for dinner, and decided to wash off the day’s grime in the small river nearby.

There was a perfect pool for bathing, so Richard quickly shed his clothes and dove in—it was deliciously cool and refreshing. He took some bark from a slippery elm tree and made a suitable lather with which to wash himself. Soon, Richard began to feel so good that he started to sing a bawdy tune in his deep, resonant voice. When he finished, he heard someone applauding in approval. He spun around and saw a young woman dressed in a gown of leaves. In her hair she wore a garland of ivy. Her build was average size and quite curvaceous and she gave off a definite aura of femininity. Her most striking feature was her beautiful skin, which seemed to glow a healthy pink. She stood surrounded by piles of gold. Richard stared at her in amazement as she smiled at him.

“Who…who are you?” Richard gasped.

“Dave the Waiter and Watcher of Time,” she replied in a musical voice.

“Dave?...’tis a lad’s name—and you be no lad, surely!” he said, noting her figure.

“My parents wished for a boy,” she replied simply. “When they got a girl instead, they decided to name me for a boy anyway.”

“Why do you call yourself the ‘Waiter and Watcher of Time?’ What does that mean?” Richard asked.

“Alas, I am under a spell of an evil Wizard, Merle of Lots. I am doomed to remain by these waters ‘till one comes along who can free me and receive the reward of my love and the gold you see here. So I wait and watch for that one, and mark time with weaving and song.”

“How can you be freed?” Richard asked, who found himself more and more interested in this bewitching lass.

Dave laughed merrily, but tears of sadness came to her eyes. “Think you I would be here still if I knew?” she said. “The only clue I have is a song the Wizard left with me.” And she began to sing:

“When one who loves another gives that love away,

And comes to me with an open heart,

That shall be my freedom day.”

“And has no one come to you with such a heart?” Richard asked.

“Many have tried,” she replied, tears now slipping down her rosy cheeks. “But their love has not been true. They only wished for the gold, not me, so instead they vanish into mist—as transparent as their love.” And she began to sing again, a sad lament of her life.

Richard felt himself moved to such pity, that he felt tears enter his own eyes. Half of him wanted to go to the girl and hold her, and the other half seemed to scorn his own feelings, and Demetrius came to his mind. And yet…this girl was so lovely…so pure and…Richard angrily shook himself. What was wrong with him? To have such feelings for a girl!

Dave finished her song and smiled at Richard. Slowly she began to fade away.

“Stop!” Richard cried. “Where are you going?”

“I am only permitted to appear for but a brief time each evening. Fare thee well…” the voice trailed off as she vanished in the mist. Richard stared at the spot where she had been and then so quickly disappeared. Had it all been a dream?  Suddenly, Richard was aware how cold the water felt, and he hurried out of the pool and into his clothes, all the while thinking of the mysterious maiden.

***

Sir Richard’s men were grumbling amongst themselves over dinner. Four days now they had stayed in this camp, doing nothing all day and all night. They were bored and eager to be back on the trail for Kay and her followers. In truth, most of the men knew and liked both Kay and Fitzgerald, but if the two were deemed to be traitors, then they deserved to die. Actually, many of the men would gladly have killed their own mothers, if only to relieve the tedium!

“Wot’s the matter wit’ Sir Richard, anyways?” one soldier grumbled. “He ain’t actin’ at all like ‘imself!”

“Aye,” said another. “Just keeping us here day after day. And forbidding us to go near that pool o’ water. Wot d’ya suppose is down there?”

“Don’t know. But I ain’t goin’ to try n’ find out. Not after what he did to poor ol’ Willard.”

The others nodded in sober agreement, remembering how Richard had sliced up a man who had gone to the pond. He had stuck the head on a lance as a warning to the others.

“He’s down there now, ain’t he?”

“Yeh—probably talkin’ to some mermaid.”

“Naw…wrong sex!” one man cried. The others laughed, and returned to their meals.

Meanwhile, down at the pond, Sir Richard, unaware of his men’s dissatisfaction, was engrossed in a conversation with the beautiful Dave. For the past four evenings he had come here and waited for the lovely lass to appear. And for the brief time they had together before she would vanish in the mist, they talked about themselves, their dreams and disappointments. Never had Richard felt so close to a female before; he was at a lost to explain it.

“If only you could stay longer, Dave,” Richard sighed.

“You could remedy that, you know, Richard,” Dave smiled. “Of all the men who have come to seek my release, you are my favorite. I…I think I love you, Richard. And for the first time, I believe I truly understand the wizard’s poem. If you love me as I love you…then you need only confess it, and I shall be free.”

“But if my love for you is not absolute?” Richard asked.

“Then you would go the way of all the others,” Dave said. “But I am certain you must be the one for whom I have waited all these years. Will you say it? Oh, say you love me, Richard!”

“I…” Richard began. “Dave, I really do…” He stopped. Dave looked at him anxiously.

“Hurry, Richard. My time grows short. Say it!”

“I…I…I cannot!” Richard cried in dismay. “My heart is not empty, Dave, I love another. I’m…sorry,” he finished lamely.

Two tears slid down her face. “Alas for you, and alas for me, Sir Richard. I see in your face that you cannot be freed from this other love. And so shall I never be freed, I fear. Farewell, my love…my sweet love…” Dave’s voice faded along with her image.

Coward! Craven! Richard thought to himself. Afraid to love as…others love! He remained there by the pool for some time. Then, as if awakening from a spell, he shook himself, stood and ran up to the campsite.

“Prepare to break camp!” he shouted to the astonished men. “We leave at dawn!”A great roar of happiness went up from the men, and they eagerly set about their duties.

***