Dhoulmagus' face flushed with anger and humiliation as Master Rylus chastised him for looking through his spell books. The thought of violence running through Dhoulmagus' mind made him quickly dart out of his master's home. The sky was a palette of blue, pink, lavender, and orange when he stepped out. The fresh cool breeze from the hills wafted over the Farebury valley, and it was refreshing. Dhoulmagus was still angry despite the tranquil scene of twilight. Only a few villagers were out roaming around as most were already home for the evening, or at the local pub drinking. Dhoulmagus wasn't well received in Farebury with his odd appearance and awkward personality. The times he had gone to the General Item shoppe, the merchant always regarded Dhoulmagus curiously, but avoided most small talk and kept their dealings directly to just business. Other townsfolk would try to avoid making eye contact or engaging in any type of interaction with him; only save a couple children and the town guardsmen. The children would witness Dhoulmagus doing magic tricks and light shows when he would go sit on the lower bench in town. The children would always tell Dhoulmagus things that the adults would say about the politics of the Trodain Castle, the town, and himself. Their parents would tolerate Dhoulmagus for their childrens' sake even though they didn't like him.

The townsguard on the other hand would sometimes question Dhoulmagus' motives about anything he did. Dhoulmagus would sometimes face ridicule from the guardsmen when they asked him if he knew how to use a sword.

"I won't be needing swords with what I'm learning..." Dhoulmagus would softly reply with a passive aggressive tone in his voice.

"Perhaps some tricks, or some harmless orbs of light may scare some off...perhaps! Maybe they'll take pity on such a 'JESTER!'" they would laugh.

"If your brain was as sharp as your sword, perhaps you would be a guard at Trodain Castle?" Dhoulmagus would retort with different witty variations. Dhoulmagus sometimes would be forced to flee back to Master Rylus' home, or he would use his trickery to befuddle the guards and make complete fools of them. There was also a couple of times when a group of passing merchants came to his defense.

Master Rylus had come to Dhoulmagus defense more than once, which would keep Dhoulmagus in conflict with his own personal interests and his conscience. However, Dhoulmagus' patience was wearing thin. Master Rylus had promised to teach Dhoulmagus magic and train him to be a proper magician, but the cantrips he learned were for amusement at best. It had been a few years now, and the menial tasks that Dhoulmagus performed for Master Rylus was taking its toll. The only things that helped Dhoulmagus keep his sanity were, the children who called him 'Dhoulmagus the Great', Master Rylus taking him to Trodain Castle for special dinners with the King and Princess Medea, the tranquility outside of Farebury, and one particular young lady who caught Dhoulmagus' eye. Her name, was Valentina.

There was one instance Dhoulmagus was taunted by not only two of the guards, but also one of the tavern patrons. It had been a few years and Dhoulmagus sat quietly reading the same beginner magic book Master Rylus had allowed him to read. There were no offensive or defensive spells, but only cantrips for demonstration and amusement. The boredom would drive Dhoulmagus to daydream about what he would do after he became an accomplished magician. Then his peaceful daydream was abruptly interrupted.

"So errand boy, has Master Rylus taught you any magic yet or are you still just his scullery maid?" one of the guards laughed.

"He will teach me some magic when the time is right" Dhoulmagus waved him off ignoring his insult.

"It's been almost how long? Five years now? You would think by now he would have at least taught you a simple fire spell" the other guard laughed.

"What would you know about magic?" Dhoulmagus scoffed.

"I know more about magic than you do about swords" the guard mocked drawing the attention of a tall stocky muscle bound tavern patron. The patron always wore his leather mask concealing his face in public.

"I doubt that seriously" Dhoulmagus managed a smirk.

"Really? Ya think so?! Here!" the patron said tossing a copper sword at Dhoulmagus' feet. "Instead of running your pie hole, why don't you show us!" he mouthed like a bully.

"These kinds of bets are childish" Dhoulmagus dismissed him.

"Pick up the sword... Coward!" the patron yelled.

"I'll go easy on you" the soldier continued laughing as he took out his sword.

"I'm done with your nonsense, I'm going home!" Dhoulmagus stood up about to walk away but was blocked by the stocky bar patron.

"No ya aint! Yer gonna pick up that bleedin' sword and show us what ya got!" the patron growled ominously.

"Go on! Pick up the bloomin' sword! Or I'm gonna pound ya!" he shouted threateningly again. Dhoulmagus gave him and the guards a look of outrage looking back towards Master Rylus' home hoping he would emerge.

Cautiously, Dhoulmagus bent down to retrieve the copper sword. It felt fairly light, only slightly unbalanced, but this was not in his circle of confidence. He knew he was a novice at best.

"Good! Now!" the soldier pointed his sword menacingly. Dhoulmagus quickly jumped out of the way avoiding an obvious dash. At least Dhoulmagus had his quick reflexes to help him compensate for the skills he lacked.

The soldier spun quicker than Dhoulmagus had expected and barely missed Dhoulmagus as he moved away. The soldier held his sword out preparing his next attack as Dhoulmagus quickly held his sword up in a defensive stance. The soldier darted forward again but stopped short and advanced quickly slipping through Dhoulmagus defense nicking him on his right leg. The light touch of the blade stung bitterly, but Dhoulmagus kept a stoic face.

"That was almost a fatal mistake errand boy" the guard taunted as the other guard and tavern patron cheered him on.

"Prepare yourself!" the guard backed up and sprang forward again.

Dhoulmagus swiftly ducked and quickly rose scoring a minor slash on the guard's left shoulder.

"Maybe I do know more than you think" Dhoulmagus retorted.

"I'll make you regret that errand boy!" the guard charged.

"Get him!" the patron snarled.

Dhoulmagus slid to the side, but the soldier was able to follow. Dhoulmagus raised his sword as metal rang out on metal. The guard swung from the right, but it was blocked by the copper blade. Dhoulmagus only had time to react and he didn't know for how much longer he could keep up. Suddenly...

"STOP!" a young girl's voice screamed drawing the attention of other townsfolk from the upper level of town. The guards and the tavern patron looked up to see the daughter of the great Kalderasha quickly running down the stairs to Dhoulmagus' side.

"Valentina, what are you doing here?" the other guard asked with a dumbfounded look.

"I saw what you and the two of you were doing! I expect that from a man like you, but from our own town guardsmen who are supposed to be protecting us?! It's just completely shameful! Just wait until I speak to my father and Master Rylus about this!" Valentina continued her verbal assault.

"Why, Valentina, we were just trying to teach him how to use a sword" the other guard explained.

"Ya! And why's a bird like you care?" the tavern patron questioned.

"No, you were not trying to teach him, and one more word out of you and I will tell my father!" Valentina replied without missing a beat.

"I'm sorry..." the patron took the copper sword from Dhoulmagus' hand. "I must be on me way" the patron quickly disappeared.

"We're sorry Dhoulmagus" one soldier apologized.

"Yea, we really was just having some fun" the other soldier rationalized.

"Of course you are" Dhoulmagus said with a condescending tone brushing himself off giving them both a dirty stare.

"Come..." Valentina paused forgetting Rylus' apprentice name.

"Dhoulmagus will do" he nodded as they began walking back in the direction of Master Rylus' home.

"I'm sorry for how they treated you" Valentina implored sincerely.

"It's ok, I'm made of tough stuff" Dhoulmagus said nonchalantly trying to appear strong as the church bells began ringing out.

"Oh...I'm glad you're ok, but I really must get back to the church. Please take care" Valentina smiled as she quickly dashed up the stairway of the town towards the church.

"Thank you" Dhoulmagus whispered overjoyed yet embarrassed at the same time as he stood in front of the house.

- Part 2 -

As Dhoulmagus sat on the bench the breeze helped to calm his anger, but the children weren't outside to watch him. Even the guards seemed preoccupied with other things. He felt so alone, Dhoulmagus was an orphan who had been lucky all his life. He avoided living in Maella Abbey by getting adopted by a rich family and schooled by a private scholar. Dhoulmagus fell in love with magic when he traveled with his teacher to Domenico's home for a dinner. He noted just how pompous and condescending he was, and how he treated his servant boy David. Dhoulmagus was fifteen at the time. Part of his laughed manically at this type of behavior, and the other part of him found it repulsive. He wanted to learn magic, but not from someone like this. Once he finished his schooling, Dhoulmagus was put out of the house who adopted him with a few hundred gold coins. He worked for a few merchants for a meager wage until he came upon a circus based out of Pickham. The pay wasn't much better, but it was a lot more entertaining and Dhoulmagus learned a lot: Trickery, Legerdemain, Acrobatics, and how to pick a pocket clean. Months went by, years went by, and Dhoulmagus was no closer to learning magic, real magic, than he was before. That was until his group traveled to Farebury and the town was fairly amused, and he obtained the attention of an unlikely character, Master Rylus. Dhoulmagus' prayers to the goddess had finally been answered. He was going to become not just a trickster, but a real great magician.

The evening was passing fast, like his life. Dhoulmagus began to wish he had someone whom he could confide in, someone he could trust, someone who would be his friend. The breeze picked up and it felt as if it was blowing right through him until he looked up, and she came strolling by. It was Valentina! Dhoulmagus' heart sped up, he felt so comfortable around her even though they never spent any prolonged amount of time together.

He and Valentina had very short encounters due to his meeting once with her father, the Great Kalderasha who was more like the Drunken Kalderasha. One day almost a couple of years ago, Dhoulmagus had made a delivery to the local pub. Dhoulmagus was told by Master Rylus never to go in the tavern because it could reflect badly on him. Dhoulmagus had gone against his master's wishes and one evening met Kalderasha for the first time. Kalderasha had already been drinking like a fish and spotted Dhoulmagus immediately. He walked up to him and introduced himself and offered his hand. Once Dhoulmagus began to introduce himself as he was shaking Kalderasha's hand, Kalderasha immediately withdrew his hand and recoiled from him.

"You can stop, I don't want to hear anymore...leave me alone!" Kalderasha rebuked him quickly returning to his seat.

Dhoulmagus stood there flabbergasted not understanding what had just happened. The bartender explained to Dhoulmagus that Kalderasha sometimes acts a bit neurotic when he's had a bit to drink; however, that wasn't the case. In public Kalderasha was cool at best to Dhoulmagus. He would only acknowledge Dhoulmagus with a raised hand or a nod. When Dhoulmagus met Valentina at the well for the first time. Valentina was warm and kind and did not judge him by his demeanor or his appearance. Dhoulmagus was clumsy and awkward, but still Valentina was kind. Kalderasha came a few minutes into their conversation and demanded Valentina immediately leave with him and return home. Dhoulmagus came to dislike Kalderasha for interfering in a potential friendship regardless if he was Valentina's father. Kalderasha had one evening came to Dhoulmagus when he was sitting on the bench he always sat on when he was in a drunken stupor. He told Dhoulmagus that he knew he liked his daughter and that many men liked his daughter, but Valentina already has a suitor and cannot be fraternizing with other men. He asked Dhoulmagus to leave his daughter alone and warned him to stay away from her. Valentina and Dhoulmagus had only short incidental meetings. Even the townsfolk watched over Valentina and would quash anything that could have happened. The more Dhoulmagus thought about this town, the more he hated this place.

Finally the area was empty and Valentina slowly approached Dhoulmagus who sat with a frown on his face.

"Good evening Sir Dhoulmagus" Valentina greeted.

"Please, just call me Dhoulmagus, I'm just a lowly servant..." he said finally looking up at her.

"You look really sad, what's wrong?" Valentina quickly asked.

"Everything!" Dhoulmagus' voice trembled a bit more emotionally than he meant slightly startling Valentina.

"It's everything! Master Rylus, your father, the guardsmen, this town, my life!" Dhoulmagus began dramtically but lowered his voice to avoid anyone's attention. Valentina looked around a bit worriedly thinking her father could show up at any moment.

"I'm really sorry... sorry for everything..." Valentina shook her head.

"Why are you apologizing? You've been the only person that has treated me with dignity. Everyone else has ridiculed and dismissed me as a mere commoner... no, less than that!" Dhoulmagus went on feeling the anger inside him beginning to rise again.

"Master Rylus thinks of me as a mere servant, not his apprentice! Your father thinks I am untrustworthy! The guardsmen all laugh and mock me! The townsfolk fear me!" Dhoulmagus pounded his fist into his other hand.

"I'm sorry for my father, but he's just doing what fathers do... even if I agree or not..." Valentina interjected.

"Of course... you would take your father's side..." Dhoulmagus accused.

"No! That's not true! I hate it when I see how everyone treats you! It's horrible!" Valentina said beginning to become a bit emotional. Dhoulmagus trembled visibly.

"I'm sorry...please, I know one day you will be a great magician" Valentina put her hands up appeasingly.

"Don't worry about it, and yes you're right" Dhoulmagus nodded slowly lowering his voice.

"I've already made my decision on what I'm going to do" Dhoulmagus raised his hand and closed his eyes nodding.

"...And what is that?" Valentina asked a bit cautiously.

"I'm going to leave Farebury soon..." Dhoulmagus whispered.

"Oh..." Valentina lowered her head but understandingly. Dhoulmagus took Valentina's hand into his and gently kissed it, then began to slowly back away.

"Thank you for being kind to me, but I have made my decision, I wish you the best Valentina" Dhoulmagus said in a low voice as he turned and returned home.

"Pity..." Dhoulmagus whispered to himself feeling the poison of vindictiveness clouding his mind as he unlocked the front door and prepared to put his plans into motion.

Valentina watch Dhoulmagus until he was out of eye site. She could not help to feel pity for him, she wanted to be nice to befriend him, but everyone around her was against it. Valentina slowly began to return with her small sack of flour and grain home. She hoped that Dhoulmagus would find his way and find some good people to help him, but at the same time she knew her dad was a good judge of character, with or without his crystal ball...but, Valentina pondered it all night.

A few days later one evening, she saw Dhoulmagus being escorted by a couple of royal guards out of town. He was dressed a bit oddly like a jester. Valentina thought perhaps this was his plan all along. The evening continued on later that night and thunder rumbled off in the distance. Valentina all the sudden sat up and she was outside. First it was misty, then she saw a path which looked familiar to the one going due south of Farebury. As the mist cleared she could see Dhoulmagus walking down the path.

"Dhoulmagus!" Valentina shouted. He kept walking and stopped momentarily to turn around. The full moon shown down on his face, he was not the Dhoulmagus she had known, he looked different, and gave off a frightening demeanor. His face looked discolored and his long black hair was now stark white. He held a long dark scepter that was red all over. To Valentina's horror, she realized the red color was blood! Dhoulmagus began laughing maniacally as he turned and continued walking down the path and began to levitate into the air. She screamed.

Valentina woke up sweating, as her father came home late as usual from the tavern. He seemed upset as he quickly grabbed a few items then disappeared back out the door. Valentina walked to the balcony in her home in her long white chemise. Valentina opened her window and could smell something burning as the town bell began to sound.

"It's not a dream...it's a nightmare" Valentina whispered.