The Lord of Tricks

By Ricky Temple

In Dunselhelm Castle, in the great quest chamber, Pickle and Daisy were observing the dungeon realm through the Viewing Pool while Dungeon Master Tregaurd was out reviewing the castle guards.

"It all looks quiet and serene out there tonight Miss Daisy" Pickle said as the pool showed various area's of the realm from Wolfenden Village to the neutral zone of Grimdale and from the Winterian border to The Rocks of Bruin. "I know but I don't like it Pickle, It's too quiet. The Opposition has been quiet for too long." Pickle nodded "True enough Miss Daisy, just enjoy this lull in their activities for as long as it lasts."

"Mmmmm" Daisy grumbled in agreement. Just then she noticed something happening in the corner of the image that the pool was currently showing there appeared to be a peculiar distortion taking shape. "Hey what's that?" she asked just as the image changed "What was what?" Pickle asked "Quick go back to the last image!" Daisy snapped Pickle quickly fiddled with the pool and got it to go back to the previous image, the ominous looking structure that was The Castle of Doom.

Pickle looked hard but couldn't see anything amiss "I can't see anything Daisy I think your eyes are playing tricks on you." Daisy looked intently at the image scrutinizing every inch of it particularly the corner where she had seen the odd distortion, it had been on the upper left part of the castle's wall. Nothing seemed to be visible now though just as Daisy was beginning to think she had indeed imagined it she saw it happening again it was as if the bricks in the wall where warping.

"There look!" she cried pointing to the distortion "I told you I saw something!" Pickle looked "Root & Fen!" he gasped "What in the underworld is that?" "What's what Pickle?" Tregaurd asked as he came into the chamber. "Look master" Pickle said indicating to the pool "Something strange is happening at The Castle of Doom."

Tregaurd came over to the pool and gazed in "Where Pickle" "There, there, there!" Daisy said impatiently gesturing to the distortion that was seemingly growing and getting stronger. Tregaurd frowned slight "Hmmm" he mused "What is it Master?" Pickle asked "Is it one of Lord Fear's tricks?" Daisy also asked.

"I can't say if its Opposition related Daisy" Tregaurd said "But as to what it is. It would appear someone or something is entering the realm and I have the feeling it's not all that friendly what ever it is." The three watched as the distortion intensified further and then all of a sudden it seemed to fade away completely.

"Where's it gone?" Pickle asked "Maybe what ever it was decided it didn't want to come here after all" Daisy said "Hmmmm possibly Daisy" Tregaurd said "Or perhaps it sensed it was being watched and simply moved its arrival point." "Well let's hope it's the former master there was something unpleasant about that...well what ever it was." Pickle said Tregaurd just nodded thoughtfully.

Meanwhile on the outskirts of the small town of Warlock in Grimdale Rothberry The Apothecary was busy working at his stall on another of his experiments unaware he was being watched.

"Ahh yes, yes...now, now then" Rothberry said to himself as he study the small cauldron he was mixing different ingredients in and consulted his recipe book."Yes...now it needs just a touch of powdered bats wing. Now where did I put that jar of powdered bat wing?" He began looking for the required ingredient. As he did so the watcher got a malicious smile on his face, he could see the ingredient Rothberry was looking for and he had an idea. He waited till Rothberry was getting close to it then raised his hand, pointed at the jar of Crushed Batwings and quietly began to spell cast.

"S...H...R...O...U...D!"

"Ah here it is" Rothberry said he reached for the jar, at exactly the same time as the mysterious watcher finished spell casting. Just as Rothberry's hand reached the jar the spell took effect and it suddenly vanished from sight.

Rothberry blinked in surprise at this "Oh! Goodness. That's not normal behavior for a jar of powdered bats wing." He said and began moving jars to see if he had been mistaken and the batwings were actually still there.

The watcher's malicious grin grew even wider seeing Rothberry's confusion, "Most amusing but what more fun can I have at this apothecary's expense…Ahhh I know" he mused and once more he raised his hand and began spell casting again.

"F…L…O…A…T"

On the split second of the last letter leaving the watcher's lips five other jars of ingredients on Rothberry's floated up into the air behind Rothberry's back. The watcher smiled and began using his hands to 'conduct' the floating jars making them move back and forth in the air. Rothberry gave up looking for the bats wing and turned round to be greeted by the sight of five jars of his ingredients performing rudimentary aerobatics.

"Oh heavens!" he exclaimed as he watched the jars zip back and forth in the air the watcher continued this 'game' for a few more moments before he grew board. "Ahhh me, tis time to move on. But let's end this 'performance' with a bang!" He maneuvered the jars over the small cauldron Rothberry's eyes widened "Oh Goblin feathers no, no, no!" he gasped and moved to try and grab the jars "Dis-spell" the watcher said,

"T…A…O…L..F"

The jars fell out of the sky and right into the cauldron despite Rothberry's best efforts. The mixture in the cauldron began to fizz and froth uncontrollably "Oh Dragon's Flight!" Rothberry exclaimed in horror and dived under the stall seconds later the cauldron erupted like a volcano sending the mixture high up into the air before raining down all over Rothberry's stall coating it in a sticky blue gray sludge.

Rothberry poked his head out and observed the mess "What a strange occurrence" he mused his comment to met with a loud, insane almost demonic sound laughter which seemed to fade as if the owner was moving away at great speed, "What a disturbing occurrence! Rothberry said

A little under an hour later in The Crazed Heifer Marta the serving wench was getting ready for the inn to open. She didn't notice the sinister looking face that briefly peered in through one of the windows and got a wicked smirk on its face when it saw she was alone.

"Spell casting! S…H…O…V…E!"

"ARRRRRRR! Marta yelled in shock as he was suddenly hit hard from behind by an invisible force and sent sprawling into one of the tables banging her head on it as she went down.

"Ow!" she said rubbing her head "What be happening here then?" she asked rather annoyed "Some fool casting magic and not knowing what he be doing?" The figure outside laughed softly "Oh trust me little wench" he said softly "I know exactly… 'What I be doing'." he said, with the last bit being said in the manner and style of Marta's accent and way of speaking mocking her further. "You seem rather cross though" he mused "Let's see if I can't cool your temper."

""Spell casting! D…R…E…N…C…H!"

Once again, meer seconds after the last part of the spell was cast, there was a scream from Marta. This time caused by her suddenly being drenched from head to toe as almost a gallon of water suddenly fell from the sky right onto her…inside a building.

"OWEN!" she yelled for the Inn's owner, still with annoyance in her voice but now also an unmistakable not of fear there as well "HELP! WE GOT DEMONS OR SOMETHIN!" Owen Varten, the owner and barman of The Crazed Heifer came hurrying up from the cellar where all the drinks where kept. "What's that your yelling Marta?" he said he barely had time to take in the sight that greeted him of Marta, looking like a drowned rat, desperately trying to get her footing on the now incredibly slippery floor due to the water that was now slopping about all over it before he to fell victim to the japes of their vindictive tormenter.

"Spell casting! T…R…I…P!"

Owen felt like his legs were kicked out from under him and he fell forward onto the bar. "Ooof" he gasped winded by the impact. "Owen are you all right?" Marta asked as she finally managed to get her footing again by holding onto one of the tables "Yeah lass I'm fine just winded" Owen said as he got up grasping his chest "What on earth is going on!" he asked.

"We got demons!" Marta said and told him what had happened to her at the end of her explanation both her and Owen heard a peal of the same loud, insane and demonic laughter that Rothberry had heard and as with him it faded away quickly. "What be that?" Marta asked "I think Marta you can put your mind at ease about us having demons someone's being playing the fool at yours and mine expense." He said gruffly and very annoyed.

Throughout the day more denizens of the Knightmare realm were victimised by random mean spirited pranks.

The strings of Ridolfo's lute suddenly and violently snapped actually drawing blood on the troubadour when one of the strings caught him on the face. Mrs. Grimwold found herself being pleted by rotten cabbages that seemed to materialize out of thin air. Sylvester Hands's own magic rope seemed to turn on its owner and truss him up like a turkey. Honesty Bartram found himself taking an unplanned and unwanted ride on his own cart when he was pushed by an invisible force on to it and the same force then pushed the cart sending it and Bartram careening across Wolfenden's Market place. Jane "Raggie" Ragnell the chamber maid of The Wolfs Howl Inn found herself being attacked by her own feather duster and then trust up by a living bed sheet. Snapper-Jack found himself teleported right into the foul, stagnant and rank waters of The Sewers of Goth while Grippa & Rhark had to flee in terror from a pair of phantom swords and Flower Girl & Gwendoline found themselves pinned to the side of a building when some of the Greenwarden's own arrows seem to come to life, fly out of their quiver and fly at their owner and her friend.

Each vicious and malicious prank was always followed by that maniacal and demonic laughter.

"Oh Me, Oh My!" The Trickster exclaimed in malicious joy "But this realm dose offer such good sport. Now where shall I go next...Ahhh I know I'll pay a visit to my 'old friend' Hordriss The Confuser." The trickster quickly teleported himself to just outside of the building that Hordriss used as his 'lab' for experimenting with new spells and potions. However Hordriss wasn't there...but someone else was.

"Oh now this is much, much better" The Trickster crowed softly as her peered in through one of the windows "Not Hordriss, but his ditzy daughter Sidriss. I can really have some fun with her." He said almost purring his voice dripping with malice.

Sidriss was busy readying a potion and didn't realise she was being watched. "Errm now then I need...what is it I need?...I've forgotten! Oh no, no, no I haven't I need eye of newt...or was it eye of goblin? Oh I'll just get both jars down I'm sure I need both of them anyway...if I can just remember in what order."

"Ahh this looks familiar!" The Trickster said silkily and made ready to play the same prank on her that he had played on Rothberry when a humming noise coming from inside the building caught the attention of both him and Sidriss.

"Oh...father's magic mirror" Sidriss said looking at an ornate circular mirror that hung on the far wall "Someone's trying to contact him...but he's not here...Errrm I suppose I better answer it, it could be important."

She went over to mirror and delicately ran a hand over it before speaking in what she hopped was a grand and important sounding voice "Huhm We hear you caller whom wishes to converse with The Confuseres?" the image of Tregaurd appeared in the mirror, Sidriss smiled and curtsied "Dungeon Master, to what do I owe this...errrrmmmm...honour yes...that's the right word isn't it."

Tregaurd smiled, Sidriss for all her ditzyness was a very charming and endearing young lady. "I was wishing to speak to your father Sidriss is he in?" Sidriss shuck her head "No Sir Tregaurd, he is away on matters of high magic." She explained "Was it something important Dungeon Master?" "Possibly" Tregaurd said "We detected here at Dunselhelm Castle a strange magical disturbance at The Castle of Doom. As if something or someone of magical origins was entering the realm. However it faded before anything materialised. I was just wondering if your father had also sensed this occurrence or knew anything of it."

"Ooooh how interesting" Sidriss gushed "Well I certainly didn't sense anything but I can ask him about it for you when he gets back." She said Tregaurd nodded "Thank you Sidriss I would be obliged if you would, farewell." Tregaurd ended the communication.

The Trickster, who had upon the commencing of the communication had drawn further out of sight until it had ended, smirked to himself. "I think I'll pay a visit to this Dungeon Master, Sir Tregaurd and his Dunselhelm castle. I'm sure he will get a real...thrill out of my tricks and japes." He said "But first to conclude this performance with Mistress Sidriss."

He stealthily but quickly moved around the build putting spell locks on all the windows and doors, effectively sealing the young sorceress inside. He returned to the window he had been peering in through and with an evil grin began to spellcast.

""Spell casting! F…L…O…O…D!"

The spell took immediate effect "Oh...Oh goodness...oh help!" Sidriss yelled in shock as a torrent of water began to flow forth out of her cauldron. "Ohhh what did I do wrong this time?" She desperately tried to stop the flow of water but not realising it was an outside force causing it nothing she did had any effect. By now the water was up to ankle height around her and still rising.

"I...I have to get out" she said and hurried to the door o open it...but The Trickster's spell lock prevented this. "Oh...Oh..no...Oh no, no, no, no! Oh help let me out of here!" The only response she got was yet more water pouring out of the cauldron and that mocking demonic and maniacal laughter echoing loudly around the room before quickly fading away. The water was now up around her knees.

In Dunselhelm castle oblivious to all that had happened in his domain that day Tregaurd was tending to the fire in the quest chamber while Pickle & Daisy where off doing other duties. Tregaurd suddenly became aware of a presence in the chamber with him and he could tell it was not benign in intent. He quickly stood up and turned to face the intruder...but he wasn't quick enough.

"Arrgh" He cried in pain as he was struck by an invisible force and knocked back into his chair "PICKLE...DAISY...IN...INTRU...INRUDERA!" He began to yell as he felt a horrible but familiar sensation creeping over his body "INTRUDER...HE...HE IS...CONSTRAING ME! YOU WILL NOT DO THIS! I WILL FIGHT...I...WILL...I WILL..." Tregaurd's voice trailed off as the holding spell took full effect on him and he became frozen in the chair. His attacker laughed with manic glee.

"Master?" Pickle called out as he and Daisy hurried down the corridors of the castle in response to Tregaurd's warning yell. "Sir Tregaurd are you okay!" Daisy called out. As they neared the antechamber a figure emerged.

"Master...what is it?" Pickle asked the person who appeared to be Tregaurd "A False alarm Pickle" Tregaurd said just a passing anomaly in the manar flow of the Dungeon caused a sensory distortion." Pickle nodded but looked at his 'master' suspiciously something didn't feel right. "Are you sure your okay Master Tregaurd?" Daisy asked "Yes Daisy thank you for your concern." Tregaurd said with a smile. "You two run along now and get back to your duties."

"Very well master" Pickle said bowing slightly while Daisy curtsied. They turned to leave but Pickle suddenly turned back "Oh master I almost forgot...the book of quests. Silly elf-wit that I am I left it in the chamber I'll just nip in and get it. "Oh no need Pickle" Tregaurd said "I'll retrieve it for you." Pickle smiled "Nay master...I...insist." Pickle quickly grabbed the bemused Daisy's wrist and pulling her with him he barged past Tregaurd and into the chamber.

"Pickle! Have you gone bloomin nuts!" she cried "No...Look!" Pickle said pointing, Daisy looked in the direction he was pointing and her mouth fell open. "Master Tregaurd!" she said in shock seeing the real dungeon master still spell trapped in his seat struggling to break its hold on him.

"But if that's Sir Tregaurd who were we just talking to?" She asked. "An imposter" Pickle said I knew something was wrong with him he didn't smell right" Just then the two heard a peal of laughter that sounded both insane and demonic. They turned round just in time to see the fake Tregaurd changing back into his real form and it was a disturbing sight to behold.

He was dressed in what looked to be a pastiche of a jester's costume minus the hat. It was purple and black in colour and the ends looked tattered and frayed. Yet he was also wearing a long black cloak with red inner lining and a big gold medallion around his neck which was engraved with the roman numeral for five. Both of these things denoted him as a Warlock and one of the 5th level no less. However the most disturbing thing about him was his face for it was painted in a manner similar to how a jester may paint there's. However his facial art, which was done in black & white face paint, looked sinister and deranged.

"Who are you!" demanded Pickle "and what have you done with Master Tregaurd" Daisy also demanded. The Warlock grinned it was grin full of wickedness and malice.

"I am Seigneur Des Ruses, also known as The Trickster Warlock." Des Ruses gave them a mocking theatrical bow and as for your precious Tregaurd I have merely placed him in a simple but powerful holding spell...I do so prefer my audience to sit in enraptured awe of my performance" he said with mocking tone clear in his voice.

"But now...what fun and merriment shall I have with you two.." he said looking at Daisy & Pickle with sadistic glee. Pickle reacted quickly he lept across the room to where Tregaurd's sword stood and quickly seized it up.

"You will have no such merriment at mine or Miss Daisy's expense Des Ruses" he said commandingly "Free Master Tregaurd from your spell and leave this Castle Right Now!" Des Ruses laughed "I think not you insignificant little wood elf. Seeing as how you are so keen for some to leave lets see how you like these Leafs"

""Spell casting! V…I…N…E…S!"

Immediately from out of the cracks in the walls of the chamber vines suddenly sprang forth they quickly snaked their way towards Pickle and before the brave wood elf could react they sized him by both the ankles and the wrists and yanked him up into the air. Pickle screamed in pain as they began pulling him as though he was on a rack.

Des Ruses smirked at this but out of the corner of his eye he caught a flash of movement behind him to the right and he quickly side stepped. Daisy, while Des Ruses was distracted by Pickle had got hold of the Quest Mace and had swung it at his head. He just dodge he blow and it connected with the floor. Daisy quickly got herself ready for another swing "You let them both go or I'm goner bash your sick twisted brains in!" she said. Again Des Ruses response was a smirk.

""Spell casting! S…E…R…P…E…N…T!"

Daisy screamed in horror as the Quest Mace turned into a vicious Anaconda snake in her hands. She fell backwards onto the floor and the vile serpent began wrapping itself around her trying to constrict her.

All Tregaurd could do was watch helplessly as his two young friends were tortured by this malevolent Trickster.

Des Ruses laughed with insane, sadistic and demonic glee.