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Journal of a Paladin
Episode IX: Marching Home Again
By Matthew R. Fleming
A.K.A. the Cheddar Paladin

Entry #10 – The Eighteenth of November in the Year Sixteen Hundred and Ninety-seven

A week or so passed, Jordanello and I had agreed that we should avoid the upper class as often as possible, though he did find himself being invited out with the Wolverines on more than one occasion after the night of the dinner and accepting. I stayed in my home for all of that week, only going out once to see Jean le Noir play at the Black Stop; I decided not to miss him whenever he performed in town. The security of solitude grew on me as I really felt that the world despised me and I was doing them a favor by not coming out of my bluestone walls.

The entire time, I thought about Kay. I had never known love before, so I surmised that I was romantically infatuated with her. Perhaps I was wrong, but how could I think about a girl for a whole week if it was not true love? I contemplated that my feelings could possibly be reduced to an urge to “save” her from her peers, so to speak, if it were not in fact love. All I wanted to do was see her again, and to somehow talk to her. That in mind, I decided that I could not stay inside if I wished to do so.

However, I really hated Winguard City at that moment. Being the middle of June at that time, I decided that I would go back home to Banguard to see if I could help with the summer work. I went to Jordan’s, told him what I had decided, and I immediately headed out.

I covered the distance from the city to Banguard much quicker this time, due to my training and the fact that there was no longer an annoying stop at Millket. The first thing that I noticed upon my arrival was that the storage barn was not only restored, but it was improved, and there was another one next to it that was exactly like it. In the short time that I was gone, the farm somehow gained two “superbarns.”

The house also looked somewhat different. There were more flowers for decoration than ever before. There was a fresh coat of paint, in blue and yellow of course. Also, the roof was shingled in metal plates instead of the standard shingles. The greatest improvement, though, was that what once was a beautiful patio deck that my father had designed himself, was now upgraded to wrap around the greater portion of the house and there were ramps in place of stairs, allowing access at various points. Also, part of the deck was covered by an extension of the roof. It all looked very nice.

In the yard, my brother directed more field hands than I’ve ever seen working at the farm. He was wearing the scarf loosely around his neck and with very little pride, which failed to surprise me; he never cared for the symbol, only the power that came with it. He looked like a commanding officer of some kind of platoon, giving instructions to his men and pointing at various tools and objects in the area. He didn’t shout though, he would walk up to the worker he wanted and tell him what to do quietly; he never was a loud person.

After a few orders, he noticed me approaching him, so he came to greet me, “Hey… Ma probably could use your help now. It’s about that time of the day.”

“Help?” I asked, not used to the new routine he was implying in his statement.

“I got stuff to do out here. Go see Ma. She’ll show you.”

That said, I went inside to see my mother, forgetting to ask my brother about the dramatic changes to the lot.

“’Ello, ‘ello!” I shouted as I entered my newly refurbished home, happy to be away from my brother, and wanting to surprise my mother with my sudden prescience.

“Skee!?” my mother called me “Skee” as a nickname since the dawn of time, “MY SKEE, MY SKEE IS HOME!” She ran to the entry and gave me a great motherly hug, which I generously returned. “OH I AM SOOO HAPPY TO SEE YOU, MY SKEE!”

It felt nice to be genuinely loved again.

“Wow, Ma, the farm is amazing! What happened since I was gone?”

She responded with a long story that can generally be summed up like this:

That winter, friends, relatives, and the government recognized the importance my father was to them. The total came to upwards of 100,000 credits in currency and about 20,000 credits worth of equipment. Among the equipment and materials was the lumber used to rebuild the old barn, build the new barn, and upgrade the deck and both barns. Also, my brother had commissioned a clocksmith from Medguard to supply the barns with mechanical lifts and automated storage devices, making them the most advanced warehouses in Banguard. Everything was put together in the spring and with the construction came workers who decided to devote themselves to working on the farm indefinitely.

After the conversation about all of the fortunate things to happen to us, I asked my mother, “Your more pleasant son told me you needed help of some kind?”

“Oh, yes! We were a little late today, and then you came home, so I’m out of schedule, ugh! I hate it.”

“What would you have me do?”

“Oh, you don’t need to. Your brother is supposed to take a break now so we can help your father.”

“Dad needs help with something?”

“Yes, but I don’t want you to get into this. You have a life now. You shouldn’t feel like you have to.”

“Ma. What do you need?”

“Well, Daddy needs help going to the bathroom.”

“Eh? But Dad could manage before I left. Needed help getting to the room, but not help going. Has he gotten worse?”

“Oh… yes. We make do, though. We get by however we can.”

“Ma, do you want me to come home more often?”

“No. You need to be your own person and have your own life.”

“Do you want my help for now?”

“Uh… I guess. I just don’t want you to feel like you NEED to.”

“Ma. I’ll do what I have to. Now what are we going to do.”

I’m not going into detail, here. I’m just going to say that it’s not a fun procedure for anyone and it happens too often during the day. My father’s condition left him bedridden every day and unable to move most of his body parts. It goes without saying that the everyday things we take for granted suddenly became the most trouble for him and my family. However, his body was kind enough to be very regular and you could set a watch by his daily routine. His functions were so set in their ways that my mother and my brother had to plan their own schedules around him. It was annoying, but it seemed to work.

After my father was returned to a more comfortable state, the process of which also being unpleasant for everyone, I finally had the chance to greet him more formally.

“Hey, Daddy, you feeling alright?”

He nodded and looked very comfortable.

“So, hey, I’m going to be here for a few days, so if you need me to do anything, just tell me, okay?”

He slowly and deliberately shook his head in disagreement.

“No, I will. If you want my help, I’ll do it. That’s why I’m home.”

He shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “Fine, we’ll see.”

It was hard for everyone to see him in bed. He was usually behind the reins of his wagon, going to one place or another, seeing all of the people in Banguard, sometimes doing various favors for them. He was so philanthropic to the community, never asking for anything in return, and that I believe is why he was given so much after the accident.

For me, though, I found it worse that he was no longer wearing the scarf. Giving it to my brother must have been hard for him. He was proud of the family name, unlike my brother. Moreover, I imagine that he could not have put up much of an argument about it considering the condition he was left in; I don’t think he has much of a say in anything now. So to see my cold brother donning something that was not meant for him was an insult to me for the sake our father. I never said anything about it to him, though.

After the first day had passed, I woke up the next morning and realized that something very important was missing. For my entire time there the previous day, I had not seen my big blue rat friend, Cobalt. I asked my brother where he was.

“Oh, yeah, forgot to tell you,” he began, “You remember when we were little and we used to go out into the forest?”

“Yes,” then I remembered something significant about those expeditions, “Oh no… tell me you didn’t…”

“Remember the strange animals we found?” He confirmed my worries.

“You brought him to the Fozzi.”

“Man, he wasn’t any help to us. The Fozzi could use him.”

“So you took MY rat to a strange tribe of animal empaths without my permission.”

“They were just going to hold onto him until you came back to get him. Go do it today; you know where their forest is.”

To clarify, the Fozzi are a tribe, make that “race”, of short bear-like people that can empathically communicate with other animals. Through this communication, they have taught other animals to “speak” to humanoids through their language known as Wakish. Somehow, this language, entirely composed of words formed by the phrase “wak”, can transmit an animal’s feelings to the listener. However, that doesn’t mean the animal can understand other languages; the Fozzi themselves only know Wakish. Really, it’s difficult to explain, but it’ll make sense later, I think.

I went to the location of the forest. Not too far off-road from the plantation, it was maybe an hour’s hike through the woods using landmarks my brother and I had made many years ago as waypoints. I started t think that I had forgotten the way when I noticed a fawn standing about 10 feet away from me, looking right at me. I was not surprised when it pronounced, “Wak wak,” and then motioned for me to follow it. The young deer escorted me to the location I had visited in my childhood, the realm of the Fozzi.

It’s strange to walk through a village of people speaking an entirely different language than you, and you know that it would make absolutely no sense otherwise, yet you understand every thought completely. This is the situation in the Fozzi village.

The Fozzi love to have fun and make jokes, so my visit was a pleasant one. Most of them remembered me from when I first visited. They knew I was there for my big, blue rat friend, so they brought me to him quickly.

When Cobalt saw me, he immediately ran at me and jumped up on me, knocking me to the ground and he started licking my face, happy to see me again after so long. When I left, he was about the size of a lapdog, seeing him then, he had grown to the size of a Labrador.

“Wakka, wak ka ka!” he sad to me with glee.

“Hey, boy! I’m glad to see you, too!” I responded.

[Let’s go,] he said still speaking in his new language, [These guys tell the same jokes over and over again. It’s getting annoying.]

So you see how the animals that learn Wakish can communicate with other animals to the point of extreme clarity. It remains a mystery as to why the Fozzi cannot teach humanoids Wakish, only “lesser” animals. Amongst forest creatures, Wakish has become a universal tongue, so if you ever see a frog talking to bear, you aren’t going crazy.

I thanked my fuzzy friends for teaching Cobalt their language and for taking good care of him. I told them that I would visit them whenever I was in Banguard, and then Cobalt and I went back to the plantation.

Cobalt’s golden eyes squinted in the bright light of the evening sunset on our way out of the forest. [I liked the shade in the forest,] he said, [bright light bothers my eyes.]

“Well, you are a nocturnal creature,” I explained.

[I know, but what am I going to do about it?]

“I’ll think of something for you,” I promised.

In this installment, CP takes a break from city life and returns home for the summer. Upon arrival, he finds that some changes have been made since he left. Has his brother's management of the plantation been fruitful or are things headed in a downward spiral?

The return of CP faithful furry friend, Cobalt the big blue rat!

Add a Comment:
EmziePoodlez Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2007
That whole Wakish thing is pretty neat :)

Wak wak!! lol
cheddarpaladin Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2007  Student Digital Artist
Thanks, Emzie. Glad you like-a da wakka! 8D
slimoracle Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2007  Hobbyist Writer
Awesome read!

I like how all of Cobalt's speech is written in brackets, it's a very interesting way to allow a nonhuman character to be able to express themselves.

Since JoaP 1, I've liked how the story is similar to situations in your own life. I read every single JoaP entry to see not only what happens to the Paladin next but also to see what's being referenced next. :thumbsup:
cheddarpaladin Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2007  Student Digital Artist
I'm glad you keep reading for those reasons, and I do not hope to disappoint you with further installments.

I'm happy to see that you like what I do with Cobalt. I guess my AIM screen name makes more sense now, heh.

Wakka wakka! 8D
Holic-chan Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2007
yay! cobalt is back!! whoo!

this was awesome!
cheddarpaladin Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2007  Student Digital Artist
Thanks fr the read, Kago. I knew you'd like seeing Cobalt in the picture again, especially since he can talk now.
Glad you liked it.
Holic-chan Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2007
yeah i thought it was awesome that he could talk!
cheddarpaladin Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2007  Student Digital Artist
Now I need to come up with the next one before independence day. Not sure what direction to go in, but I wanna speed things up. Wanna introduce your character soon.
Holic-chan Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2007
yay! i cant wait! Im lovin it so far!
Add a Comment:

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