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Journal of a Paladin
Episode XII: Education
By Matthew R. Fleming
A.K.A. the Cheddar Paladin

Entry #13 – The Twentysecond of November in the Year Sixteen Hundred and Ninety-seven

The first few weeks at the Winguard Royal Academy were significant in the fact that, for the longest time, Jordanello and I sat by ourselves for lunch in the dining area of the school. That changed when some of our classmates decided to join us for a change. I’m not sure why, either a table was missing that day or perhaps there was trouble within their former circle of friends. Whatever the reason, we both felt much less lonely from then on, considering both at the academy and in general.

Our guest list included the Velleous girl, Emzie, who was the sister of Dewium, the fellow Jordan and I met at the Black Stop during the summer. Another member of our circle of friends was Kagome Sonidav, who made quick friends with Emzie as they found themselves in many of the same classes. Finally, we were joined by our old friend Sir Cary, who worked for the academy as a guard. He was lucky enough to be on break at the same time we all were allowed to eat.

Half of the lunch area was inside a regal dining hall with many classy decorations; lots of candles. The other half was outside on a stone tiled patio, partially covered by a wooden awning. The five of us enjoyed eating under the awning on sunny or lightly rainy days. I would usually have something meaty and/or cheesy, that being my flavor of choice. Jordanello was fond of pastas if I remember correctly; I recall that I’d often partake of the same thing he did, simply because it looked tasty, and it usually was. Kago (as we called her by her short name) had a similar appetite to my own; much cheese and great portion, though she never really bulked up at all because of it. Sir Cary was known for his ingenious mixing of available spices and sauces, often forming a unique dressing of his very own. The recipe stays with him. Finally, Emzie never did anything interesting with her diet, though she wasn’t into large, meaty portions, probably because of her affinity towards animals. Interestingly enough, she wouldn’t mind if a fly had landed on her food once, and neither did Sir Cary, though Cary didn’t mind if the fly was still on said entrée.

Time went on and we all settled into our schedules as Cary settled into piles of snow when standing guard outside in the winter. Jordan, Kago, and myself would often find each other at the Black Stop (since we told Kagome about it) and we would have dinner together. It was there that Jordanello and I got around to asking the lady about her whereabouts in the city.

“Well,” she started, “it’s complicated. I move a lot.”

“So where are you staying right now?” asked Jordan.

“Now… well…” she stalled.

It was then that we could tell that her home life was a touchy subject for her. Lucky for her, Erin O’Nelly, eldest daughter of Seamus and Maggie O’Nelly, was our tavern maid that evening, and she had arrived with our orders.

“Ah, Erin,” I exclaimed, “right on time with our meals! Give our compliments to your mother for her fine cooking, won’t you?”

“Aye,” replied Erin in her saintly emerald accent, “she’d be delighted to hear it, I’m certain. I’ll be back if you’d be needin’ anything else later.”

“Thank you, very much, m’lady,” I said as she moved on to the next table.

“You like her,” said Jordan, surely in jest.

“…I do have a thing for redheads…” I thought to myself aloud, “but I assure you, I’m just being polite.”

“The way you talk sometimes,” said Kago, “it sounds like you like every girl!”

“Yeah, man,” confirmed Jordan, “you really do talk strange.”

“I’m afraid that I sincerely don’t follow your meaning,” I couldn’t have been clearer.

“…whatever,” said Jordan, terminating the subject.

The conversation suffered a short pause while we started at our meals and then Kago announced abruptly, “I’m going to be getting a dorm at the Academy soon.”

Both Jordan and I were somewhat upset for a moment. We were going to be back to just the two of us during our downtime, seeing her and Emzie and Cary at the Academy only, lest we ride there on horseback at the end of the academic day. However, we realized that her decision must have been due to something she wished not to reveal about her private life, so we did not protest her decision.

“Fancy that,” I said, “Well, you’ll be able to socialize with more people that way. You’ll certainly be given a roommate, look how that worked out with Jordanello and me.”

“Yeah…” she said with a frown, “but I wanna hang out with you guys, you’re my best friends!”

“Hey,” said Jordan, “we’ll come visit often. And we’ll always hang out at school anyways.”

“And Cary’s always on campus,” I reminded her, “He’s a night watchman.”

“True,” she conceded, “I guess you’re right.”

“But wait,” thought Jordan, “damn, I just thought of something. They don’t let guys into the girls’ dorm.”

“Aww, and they don’t let the girls out after sunset!” worried Kago.

“Well, we’ll just have to try to sneak in or sneak you out,” thought Jordan.

“Cary would probably let you through,” I reluctantly suggested, “though he would be risking his job to do so.”

“I still have a week,” she said, “so let’s just try to make the best of the time we have left.”

“A very positive idea,” I raised my pint for a toast. We all clinked glasses and tried to enjoy our meal without thinking about the proximal future.

Time went on and so did our adventures in education. Like with training, there are parts I’d like to forget, but there are some memorable moments as well. For example:

Professor Flekag eventually supplied us with alchemy equipment sometime that year. My lab partner was Emzie. Jordan was paired with Kago. Our objective was to make a potion that could temporarily cause a lizard to transform into a bird. Now, so there wouldn’t be any problems, the professor made sure that each solution contained a compound called “Wizard’s Bane” that, when mixed with an antidote, would completely nullify the magical effect. The professor always had some antidote handy and the first instruction in any scenario was, “POUR ONE OUNCE OF WIZARD’S BANE INTO FLASK!!!! Please.”

The problem with any class is that there’s always at least one trouble maker. So after Prof. Flekag checked each flask for the proper amount of WB, one joker decided to pour it out afterward. I don’t know why. I didn’t raise him. Either way, one thing lead to another and before you knew it, we had lost one idiot. Fortunately, we gained a new class mascot, York the Griffon. No amount of antidote would change him back either. He was quite a loyal and friendly bird, though. Good fellow. Professor Flekag even stated, after a few minutes or so of panic, “Y’know, he’s probably better off that way.”

Another experience I remember was Marksmanship Class. Sir Friel often set up clockwork target practice sessions using stuffed mannequins set up on mechanical tracks to allow movement. After we had learned the basics of every weapon he instructed us with, he allowed us to choose any of those weapons to use in these sessions. I would switch from crossbow to pistol to musket at a whim. Out of all of my classmates (and there were many for that class as the musketeer was recently designated as the standard infantry unit in the Winguard military), the only person I really knew well was Kagome. Oddly enough, she was the only female to sign up for marksmanship. Her weapon was the longbow. The length of the bow, at 5’5’’ almost seemed to dwarf her as she held it, the top stopped high over her head. And the 3’ arrows almost came up to her chest. As awkward as she looked wielding it, she continued to use it, and use it well she did. She was the most talented marksman out of all of us, and it bears repeating that there were MANY of us in that class. The only weapon she used unless otherwise instructed to, was that longbow. She hated gunpowder weapons because they were loud and heavy. She didn’t like the crossbow because she thought that was cheating. However, she did have fun with the sling… not that she was any good with it; the shot always flung behind her.

What I remember most about that particular experience, though, was not how funny she looked knocking back another arrow before she fired, or how amazingly accurate she was when the arrow hit her mark. No, what caught my attention most, was the way she looked right after she fired, her eyes fixated with intensity on her target, her hair gently pulled forward from the motion of the drawstring springing back to place, how she balanced slightly on one foot as she followed through, and the light glow she had to her from the sun rising behind her from my vantage point. It was moments like those that made me question if I was in the right mind trying to pursue the affections of Princess Kay, or even if I’d ever see her again. If not, right here was this beautiful girl, talented and funny, and I was obviously attracted to her. It was during one of those many splendid moments that I knew what I wanted to do for Winguard’s annual celebration of love, Affection Eve.
JoaP numero twelve-o.

...I used to be so good at speaking Spanish...

A fan favorite character returns in this episode.
Chaos insues.
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superogue-KD Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2007   Writer
Proximal. Excellent word usage my friend.

Now for my quasi-professional critique.
1) I enjoyed seeing that you were careful of using deep descriptions only at the most appropriate of times. It made me, as the reader, pay closer attention to the topic at hand, knowing it would hold significance later on.

2) There were times when your words seemed devoid of emotion and other times when I could feel them myself. For instance, it seemed rather "matter-of-fact" when you were describing Kagome's hidden homelife. If you had perhaps seemed a little more curious or empathic your readers would probably find themselves trying to guess what her secrets might be. It would also add more depth to her character. On the other hand, the last paragraph simply bled of emotion. I could feel what you felt and see what you saw. It makes me yearn for more about this romantic conflict your character is having within himself.

3) I would also watch out for using the same word more than once in a sentence. There was one such case in your first paragraph that seemed to interrupt your introduction. "That changed when some of our classmates decided to join us for a change."

4) I haven't mentioned this before, but you do a splendid job at keeping your character's, for lack of a better term, "in character." Whatever they say, it fits them. Whatever they do, it compliments them. I just wanted to say, great job.

Well, that's the most I have to say. Another fine chapter my friend, I await your next entry with baited breath.
cheddarpaladin Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2007  Student Digital Artist
Thank you very much, my great friend. Your critiques are always something I look forward to when you read anything of mine. You'll make an excellent English teacher no doubt.

I see what you mean about the lack of emphasis on the topic of Kago's home life. I suppose I was trying to get off of it as quickly as I got on the topic, probably because that's what the character ended up doing, avoiding the subject. It will certainly be reintroduced when the characters delve deeper into that aspect of Kagome's life.

I'm glad you appreciate what I try to do with my character's dialog and mannerisms. It's something I feel is a big part of what makes my writing unique or at least enjoyable. I try to write as how I think they would speak.

I'm also really glad you enjoyed the last paragraph in particular. I had a specific image in my head there and I really wanted to put it in the mind's eye of the reader. I think I accomplished that, though, I think I'm going to draw that anyway. I really liked what I came up with.

Thank you oh so very much for :+fav:ing the entire series. That's very generous of you. I mean, I've had some hits, sure, but a couple of those chapters were misses, IMO. I'm really glad you did that for me. I'm shooting for Columbus Day for the next entry so you won't be holding your breath for too long.
superogue-KD Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2007   Writer
I decided that if I am going to appreciate a story, I should lend credit to all of its parts.
Holic-chan Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2007
AWWwwwWWww!! That sling part was funny XD sooooo true!
And i wish i was really that good with a bow!!

lol. i really like this chapter, you get to see alot of the characters again.
this is very nice.

and i can't speak spanish either XD

oh oh ! and i really liked all the visual imagery for me in the last paragraph! <3
cheddarpaladin Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2007  Student Digital Artist
Yay! I'm glad you like this! I felt it had to be done. 13 freakin' entries and you finally show up. You're a main character in the story. I HAD to make a chapter centered directly on you. So it was my pleasure and I'm so happy you enjoyed every bit of it.

Thank you for the :+fav: on top of it. I'm glad you were able to catch this before you moved.
Holic-chan Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2007
yes! awesome! im glad that i got to enjoy it too XD im just glad that i get to be IN the story <333
cheddarpaladin Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2007  Student Digital Artist
Was there any doubt that I was going to put you in?

...I sure took long enough, though...
Holic-chan Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2007
lol wellll XD

i still really liked ittt!
GreenDazed Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2007  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Damn, there is a lot going on in this. I sees it.

cheddarpaladin Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2007  Student Digital Artist
Wow. I'm really glad you're into it as much as you are, man. I really appreciate this.
Glad you liked it and thanks for the :+fav:
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