Journal of a Paladin
Episode XI: Unusual
By Matthew R. Fleming
A.K.A. the Cheddar Paladin
Entry #12 The Twentyfirst of November in the Year Sixteen Hundred and Ninety-seven
The dog days of summer were quite mild in Winguard City that year. They werent as warm as they usually are, I remember that. The whole month of August was light and breezy with a few rainstorms. Regardless of the unusually cool weather, the Black Stop drew many customers in for nighttime drinks and entertainment.
Every night, Jordanello and I grabbed some chilled tea and roasted chicken in a spicy sauce, and wed enjoy a troupe or a troubadour there to perform for the evening. There were even some plays some nights. It was a perfect summer celebration.
One rainy evening, there was a new troupe playing called Red Night. The crowd that evening had some unfamiliar faces. A lot of them were dressed somewhat differently than the regulars. I assumed they were followers of the troupe as they seemed to congregate near the stage. They were decorated with piercings in unusual places, their hair was colored in unusual hues, and most of them were unusually pale. To say the least, they were very unusual people. They looked like they were having fun, though.
One of them, a boy my age with dark blue hair, sat near Jordan and me and ordered a pint of beer. He wore a vest that was deep red in color and the rest of his attire was black. He had many pockets all of which seemed to have something in them. His chin was peppered with scruff.
At the boys side was a lute. Now, I dont know the correct phrases for the parts of musical instruments so bear with me. The front of the lute was sort of a turquoise color that faded to black. It was round, shaped like a pot. The neck was black save for the silver bars on it that I believe are called frets. It was about two and a half feet long.
Jordanello, being the closest in proximity to the boy and more outgoing of the two of us, asked him, Do you play that? as the boy would certainly have some other reason to carry it around if he didnt play it.
The boy replied, Uh, yeah, but not well.
To which Jordan replied, Thats unfortunate.
Do you play like the gentlemen on stage? I asked.
I can play some of their songs, the boy claimed, Just Im not that good yet.
Better than me, said Jordan.
Ill bet, I agreed.
Whats that supposed to mean? Jordan retorted.
Well, you said it, not me, I stated.
The boy wondered, you guys are friends, right?
Jordanello and I looked at each other pondering what he meant. When we realized that we looked like we were arguing, we broke out laughing.
Heh! Yeah, we are, said Jordan, My names Jordanello Hoffburg, he introduced himself and extended his hand.
The boy shook his hand and introduced himself, Im Dewium Velleous.
I introduced myself to him and shook his hand and the three of us got along smoothly the rest of the evening. He talked about how hes a fan of the troupe on stage and how hes been trying to learn how to play Red Night songs on his lute. The troupe actually started his interest in playing as their sound was certainly original.
Yeah, all of us here are of the counter-culture, he explained, were sort of the outcasts of society. There are many reasons why we are what we are but its not like were out to hurt anyone. Not all of us anyway. Really, its just a cultural expression that caught on with a bunch of people with similar interests. Im surprised you dont see many in this place, its like a haven, all dark and stuff.
So, do you all know each other? asked Jordan.
Gods, no, answered Dewium, I cant tell you who any of these people are.
From where do you hail then? I asked.
What? Whatd he say? asked Dewium.
He asked you where you come from, elaborated Jordanello, he talks funny, I know.
Yeah, uh, I come from Medguard, he said, Im a clocksmith there. Basically, I make watches.
Interesting, I said, Jordanello and I joined the service, were both going to the Winguard Royal Academy this autumn.
Cool, Dewium said, my sisters starting classes there this fall, too. Her names Emzie, she might be in your class or something.
Ill remember that, I said, cant have too many friends in an unfamiliar place.
Red Night was an excellent troupe. Though they played very unconventionally, their music was very catchy and their lyrics were very insightful, talking of isolation, coming of age, and lost romance. What was interesting was though their lyrics promoted a dreary existence, the music was fast and powerful, a delightful twist to the standard ballad. I could see why Dewium enjoyed them so.
We left the Black Stop that night well entertained. I invited Jordanello and Dewium, who we found liked to be called Dew for short, back to my house so he didnt have to rent a room at an inn. We had sort of an all night party, the three of us and Cobalt, who Dew quite liked. He told me his sister would be fascinated by a rat who could communicate with humans, that and Cobalt was giant and blue, making him even more special.
Dew told us that he was also in the service of the Medguard militia, so he was on call in case of emergency. Its a requirement of boys our age to be conscripted into the militia in Medguard for a certain amount of time due to the small population. Dew had a chosen weapon of the bastard sword with the reason that its fun.
Summer wound down slowly. Too soon came the morning where I had to wake up early to catch the train to the Winguard Royal Academy. I walked to the train yard where I met Jordanello. I noticed some of our fellow trainees from last years training, but they didnt look at us and we didnt talk to them.
The school is located some ways northeast out of town, on the way to Medguard, which is where the train continues on to after dropping us off to pick up the students coming from there. I was able to get a good look at the campus while waiting for the train to return.
There are four buildings in the courtyard. The very large one was the main building with all of the classrooms and the administration. Off to the right side coming in are the dorm buildings for students who dont live as close to the campus as Winguard or Medguard. One is the boys dorm the other is the girls dorm, naturally.
On the left is the second largest building, the Royal Library. One can only dream of the wealth of knowledge within that building. It has a different architecture than the other two buildings, making it unusual. Where the others are built of solid bluestone with metal roofs, standard for most Winguard government buildings, the Royal Library was made entirely of elaborately carved wood. Its hard for me to describe, its so ornate. Legend has it that the building was once a gathering site for a group of sages; that is speculated where all of the older books originate from.
Some time after the train returned from Medguard, a bell tolled and we were instructed to proceed to an auditorium within the main building. We were given the usual new semester orientation and sent off to either the dorms or our first class. We were also given schedules for the semester at that time, mine was as thus, if I remember correctly:
Class 1 Everyday, I had Language, which I loved because I always wanted to write, as you can probably tell, reader. My instructor was Mistress Scone.
Class 2a - Every other day, I had Alchemy. I wasnt too interested in it other than some of the more explosive concoctions one gets to create in such a class. My instructor was Professor Flekag.
Class 2b - Every other day, I had Guardian History. I love history. Its like a storybook that actually happened. My instructor was Le Marquis de Bobbé.
Class 3 Everyday, I had Mathematics and Algebra. I have grown to hate numbers because of these classes. My instructor was Master Grant.
Class 4a Every other day, I had Fine Arts. Half of the class was music and half was visual art. I cant say I was a great musician, but certainly enjoyed sketching and painting. My instructors were Sir Scally the Bard and Master Phissier.
Class 4b Every other day, I had an empty amount of time to spend in the Library. I took the opportunity to read about things I was interested in, even in the slightest interest. The librarian I talked to the most was Lady Gliddé.
On Fridays, I had two classes that involved physical activity.
Class 5 Marksmanship. Crossbow was fun. Pistols were more fun. My instructor was Sir Lindwood.
Class 6 Piloting. The advent of airships was less than a century ago, and Winguard already perfected the flying Man O War that was stationed in the harbor. Stored within that gigantic vessel is about two dozen smaller aeroskiffs that take one man to pilot. I learned how the basics of flying one and was certified to commandeer one if I ever have to for what ever reason. My instructor was Sir Friel.
Those were my classes that semester. Most unusual was Alchemy. Not because of the curriculum, but because of the instructor. Professor Flekag was a sort of eccentric man. He was tall, boxy, and he wore mostly black or gray, with the exception of his faded blue scarf. His hair was sliver tipped at the edges and he sported a furry round of scruff along the side of his face and under his chin. He wore a wide brimmed hat, black, atop his head, which featured very reflective glasses. He was never without an umbrella and he always had his bag of alchemy equipment and chemicals.
Good afternoon, folks, he introduced himself in a surprisingly low caste accent, My name is Professor Matell Flekag and I dont come form around here. As you might have guessed by my accent, Im not some high brow teacher like Bobby who teaches History in this classroom tomorrow. Just to warn you, while were on the subject, if he teaches you some bullcrap about history that you know isnt true, just ask me about it. Hes known to screw up sometimes. That said, youre here for Alchemy, and Im here to give you Alchemy, he set his bag on the counter and opened it up to reveal a folding set of alchemy equipment, you guys cant use this stuff but before the years over, youll get to use the academys calcinators and alembics. Until then, you get to at least see what you will be doing later this year. Yeah, so, hmm
ah! Attendance! Ill start up at the top here.
He went through a few names then came to, Hoffburg, Jordanello.
Here, Jordan raised his hand.
He went through a few more names and said mine.
Present, sir, I called.
Sir? he remarked, Dont hear that often enough, he proceeded further down the list of names.
Im here! a girl maybe a year younger than me called. She had a shy smile about her face which was partially covered by her long, shiny, black hair which was topped with a droopy light blue bow. Unique about her were her pink shoes which had a decal of a winged heart on either side of the toe. I looked over at Jordan for a second, and I saw that he was fixated on her. Then he glanced at me and straightened himself up again. I could tell we were going to have plenty to talk about when we go to lunch.
Velleous, Emzilly. (Huh
odd name.) Are you here?
Here, said a girl with a noticeable resemblance to Dew. Aside from the obvious differences, she was maybe two or three years younger than me. She was certainly a first year student, maybe even younger than most first-years in an advanced class perhaps. Anyway, she had long, wavy, dark blonde hair, and kept a magnifying glass at her belt. She also had a bag that seemed to be as full as Professor Flekags. On her left wrist was a watch that I presumed was made by her brother. How unusual, a watch on a wrist.