The Apprentice, Issue #1-Dorian The Beardless

I had just the man in mind. A few months prior, a new shipment of recruits came to Westeria, fresh from guard school. Amongst them was a young rogue named Peregrine. We made fast friends after a training incident during which I saved him from a terrible accident. Afterwards, we started meeting regularly at the tavern and I quickly learned of his two main vices, booze and women. But I do admire him for his loyalty and dedication to honor; even when drunk and chasing skirts. He’s a handsome devil with a crooked grin and easy-going nature. If I had been allowed to remain a girl, I might contemplate furthering our relationship. As it was, friends it had to stay. I guess it’s for the best though, all things considered. As a guy, I was his best friend and regular companion. As a girl, all I would be was a nice set of …eyes.

In town I found him lounging by the well. He had his nose stuck into a book. I snuck up on him and snatched it away.
“Hey.” He protested, snatching it back. “I was reading that.”
“Really? First time I’ve ever seen somebody read a book upside down.” I countered his bluff. “You’re waiting for HER, aren’t you? Give it up. You can’t have her, and even if you could, you wouldn’t want to keep her for long.” Like all other women-admiring men in town, there was one in particular that stood out for Peregrine. Unfortunately for him and every other male, Caterina only had eyes for one person.

“Dorian!” I grimaced as the town beauty jumped on me from behind, locking me into a giant bear hug. I disentangled myself deftly, having had years of practice at it.
“Hello Caterina.” I sighed. Caterina was a nice girl, really. She cooked meals and served ale at her father’s tavern, The Grey Unicorn. She treated all customers with equal kindness and courtesy. She charmed one and all with her bubbly nature and pretty blonde features. Unfortunately, the girl’s mind contained a vacuum, a great black nothingness devoid of all common sense and propriety. That coupled with the fact that she insisted on attaching herself to me often induced migraines and ulcers. Uncle, of course, feels quite pleased the loveliest lady in town shows such an interest in me. One of his more pronounced disappointments revolved around my continued preference for men.

“Happy birthday, Dorian!” she declared. “I baked you a cake! Peregrine, you will come and have some too, won’t you? After all, you’re his best friend and it’s Dorian’s special day!”
“Today’s Dorian’s birthday?” Peregrine asked. He slapped me on the back. “How about that! Happy Birthday. How old are you, anyway?”
“16.” I replied, rotating a sore shoulder. “But, I can’t have cake, thank you anyway Caterina. I came looking for Peregrine on business.” Being as brusque as possible sometimes helps divert Caterina so I can gain a quicker escape.
“What business?” Peregrine suddenly became serious. The only reason for a Wizard to conduct business with a soldier is if there’s a mission.
“Lord Duke Kovar’s bride-to-be is missing. I’ve been assigned to go to Nekross and find her.” I informed him. “It could be dangerous and I may need help.”
“You got it.” Peregrine seemed enthused. “When do we leave?”
“Tomorrow. Tell your Captain that the Lord Duke has given me authority to select you for this mission, and he’ll let you off.” I told him.

“But the cake,” Caterina persisted, pouting. “If you don’t have to leave until tomorrow, surely you can have some now.” I glanced over at Peregrine who made pleading signs at me.
“Okay.” I relented. I had hoped to use the excuse of needing to pack to get out of it. Still, Uncle Alvar was back at home so I guess it didn’t matter either way. “A few minutes.”
“Yea!” she cheered and led the way off to the tavern, where I spent the next hour shoveling Caterina’s excellent cake into my mouth and having her fuss over me. Of course, Peregrine had to have ale with his cake. After being kicked out by Caterina’s father for grabbing one of the barmaids, I used a spell to float him back to his barrack and pour him into bed. By that time, between Peregrine’s drunkenness and Caterina’s advances, I thought that maybe Uncle Alvar would have been a better choice. At least the threat of my mother keeps him partly in line.

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