Journal of a Paladin
By Matt “Mattü!” Fleming
A.K.A. the Cheddar Paladin
Entry #1 – The Second of November in the Year Sixteen Hundred and Ninety-seven
My first entry in my first journal. Today is the anniversary of the day of my birth more than 2 decades earlier. This journal is a gift from my greatest ally, the Soul Taker. He’s been my confidence, my will, and my friend, and I greatly thank him for all of it. I’ll get to him later, though.
The purpose of this first entry is to briefly summarize my earlier years for the sake that they won’t be forgotten and their memories to be passed on to any who may recover this account after I’m long gone. At times, the memories we make seem more important to us than the people that make them. When I am no longer a being that can make memories, I want the ones I’ve already made to be secure. Taker has done me a great service by granting me the means to secure these, my most precious of memories.
My story begins in the small farm community of Banguard. Banguard is the smallest territory in the Kingdom of Winguard but produces the majority of its food and lumber supplies. Banguard is known for its woodsy lumberjacks and its dairy farmers. The white waters of the Milkrun River supply the farms with water to be used for irrigation and serves as transportation for logs to be moved downstream to the mills. Not to mention the river leads up to the glorious Winguard City and so it is also a useful way to get to the city and back. Eventually, the waters exit in the port city of Tenguard, where the imperial navy is stationed. Banguard relies on the river for everything and if the river were ever dammed, or deemed “unusable”, then Banguard would be shut down and eventually will become a ghost town. Winguard City would be fine because it only uses the river for transporting imported goods directly to the city, the alternative would be to use the main road from Tenguard.
I gained most of my childhood experience on a plantation known as “la Casa de la Bufanda Amarilla” or “the House of the Yellow Scarf.” My family was one of the wealthiest on the Banguard countryside. When any of my male ancestors were called to make an appearance in Winguard City, they would wear a scarf that was yellow as one sign of proof of their bloodline. Not just anyone could put on any yellow scarf and call themselves by my surname, though. Each identification scarf was knit from a magical type of wool that could be identified by the royal clerics and mages in Winguard’s court so they were certain that the scarf they were inspecting was an authentic. The scarves would never wear or fade because of the magical properties involved and so only one scarf was made for each noble bloodline, each of a different color, and was instructed to be passed down to the family heir so that he may continue noble service to the kingdom. My family’s noble color was a shade of yellow that was very close to orange and resembled the hue of the cheddar we produced in the farm, the resemblance being purely coincidental, of course.
Moving along, my childhood was rather uneventful and dreadfully routine. I spent my mornings tending to the livestock and then I usually spent time with my brother. Now I was no athlete and beyond my time with the cows in the mornings, I despised news of further labor. My brother on the other hand was as strong as any of the workhorses and often volunteered to do any extra work, even if the job was unnecessary, although he was contrarily one to enjoy staying up late and sleeping in. He enjoyed putting others down, especially his own family, but it was “all in good fun.” I was often at the receiving end of his fun. For the life of me I never knew why. I’ve ended up concluding that some people are just tainted with evil and will never be able to hold any good within them. I suppose he’s not telling us something because he didn’t spend too much time downriver in the Winguard Navy at Tenguard (WNT) before he decided that he had to return to work on the farm than help protect his kingdom. Anyway, it’s good that he’s returned to be another hand on the farm. It’s a burden for all of us and his help is worth the fun he has at our expense. For now.
For a few years after my brother’s return, daily life went on as usual with chores and routine. One day, though, was slightly less routine, and by “slightly less” I mean “exponentially less”. It seemed like a dream at first. Now, the kingdom of Winguard had always denounced the “hedonistic ways” (as the King referred to it) of the Drakian tribes of the plains in the west. They did not worship the same deities as the people of Winguard. They lived in holes and bunkers and would not allow peaceful trade with any who tried to make peace with them. They claimed that the people of Winguard were trying to take over the continent with their beliefs and their “civilized ways” and would push the Drakians off the planet if the tribes didn’t conform.
And then it happened. It was barely morning. I was in the stables feeding fresh milk to a rare blue rat I had found abandoned by it parents for what I believed to be because of its color. I kept this rat a secret because I knew no one in my family would understand the compassion I had for something stereotyped as unclean. Anyway, as stated, I was in the barn and I heard a wagon coming into the plantation, and moving very fast. I peaked around the corner to see a Drakian covered carriage fly past the barn in the direction of the large food warehouse. At this time, my father and the farmhands were taking inventory after the harvest and must have barely started at this hour. Shipment was supposed to come the next day and there was a lot of food to be counted and packed for shipping tomorrow. Then the wagon started to glow. At that moment I realized what was happening. The carriage had a single Drakian mage at the reins and he was casting a fire shield around the entire carriage, including the two, black horses pulling it. They were moving so fast that the cover came off the carriage and exposed the most lethal cargo, dozens of flasks of alcohol. He was going to blow up the warehouse with my father, and brother, and all workers inside. I was helpless to catch up. I was not fast, let alone fast enough to move at the speed of a carriage drawn by two horses. I had no way of stopping it from happening and before I knew it, the warehouse was covered in flame, and there was no sign of there ever being a carriage with the exception of two dead horse bodies flung across the yard.
I made my way to the warehouse as quick as my feet could take me to see if there was any possibility of any survivors. I saw my father on the floor of the warehouse not too far from the entrance. I went in as carefully as I could and dragged him out away from the warehouse. Fortunately he was alive yet his legs were grotesquely damaged and he had a severe injury to his left hand. I went in as far as I safely could to see if there were any others I could pull out. All my shouts had no replies and I feared for my brother’s life and I practically gave up any hope for the farm hands. When I went back outside to try to help my father I noticed my brother was picking him up and getting him into the house. Apparently, he slept in, as I should have known.
We moved him into the house and placed him in his bed. Just as we set him down, another explosion was heard. We rushed outside to see where it came from. Thankfully, all of our other buildings were still intact. Looking at the skyline showed where the next accident occurred. Smoke was rising from the general direction of the lumber camp downriver. Then it hit me. Banguard was the largest supplier of food and wood in the kingdom, our plantation being the most productive of all the other farms in Banguard. I would’ve bet anything that the last explosion was at the Herring Lumber Camp, the equivalent with lumber as our farm with food. All other farms outside of Banguard are private farms that produce enough for the families that own them. The Drakians were eliminating the kingdom’s resources.
And so, the chief of the Drakians, Amaso Nidal, sent a message to our king, Conanius III. Our king was somewhat inexperienced as he had only inherited the throne little more than a year earlier. When he read the message of hostility from the Drakians, he immediately declared war on the tribe, not even waiting for any council or advisement. From then on, all caravans, leaving or entering the borders of the kingdom, were checked for any evidence of Drakian contact and alcohol was not to be transported by any beings possessing magical abilities.
My father had lost the use of his legs and most of the abilities of his left hand. He could no longer control a carriage and, therefore passed on his noble duties to my brother along with the scarf. My mother, being strongly influenced by her beliefs in the deities of Winguard had some knowledge of the healing prayers used by the priests of the Temple of Winguard, so she watched over him constantly and prayed for him in all her waking moments. My brother was in charge of the production of the farm, and considering the majority of the seasonal crop was destroyed, the work that had to be done now was rebuilding the warehouse and planning on the overhaul of work that would be next year’s harvest. Not to mention that more workers needed to be hired and the selection was going to be thin due to all the men that would have to be sent to fight the Drakians.
And what of me? I was old enough then to join the Imperial Guard. I left for the academy on a brisk autumn day and my grandmother, who lived with us with my grandfather in their own house on the plantation, had prepared me a scarf that was nearly identical to the noble scarf of my family. It wasn’t needed that day but it felt good anyway, as a symbol of my lineage. I trusted my brother to take care of my rat in my absence as he had experience training our family dog. I just hope my rat was still a rat when I came back and not a hunting dog. I had named him Cobalt due to his fur’s hue that resembled the “blue steel” color of the metal, cobalt. I left the farm with much unease as I knew that the farm was going to be hard enough to keep even if I had stayed. Alas, my kingdom needed me, and I walked my way along the river north, toward Winguard City.