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. Im 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 Id 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 wasnt into large, meaty portions, probably because of her affinity towards animals. Interestingly enough, she wouldnt mind if a fly had landed on her food once, and neither did Sir Cary, though Cary didnt 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, its complicated. I move a lot.
So where are you staying right now? asked Jordan.
It was then that we could tell that her home life was a touchy subject for her. Lucky for her, Erin ONelly, eldest daughter of Seamus and Maggie ONelly, 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, wont you?
Aye, replied Erin in her saintly emerald accent, shed be delighted to hear it, Im certain. Ill be back if youd be needin anything else later.
Thank you, very much, mlady, 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, Im 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.
Im afraid that I sincerely dont follow your meaning, I couldnt 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, Im 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, youll be able to socialize with more people that way. Youll certainly be given a roommate, look how that worked out with Jordanello and me.
she said with a frown, but I wanna hang out with you guys, youre my best friends!
Hey, said Jordan, well come visit often. And well always hang out at school anyways.
And Carys always on campus, I reminded her, Hes a night watchman.
True, she conceded, I guess youre right.
But wait, thought Jordan, damn, I just thought of something. They dont let guys into the girls dorm.
Aww, and they dont let the girls out after sunset! worried Kago.
Well, well 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 lets 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 Id 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 wouldnt be any problems, the professor made sure that each solution contained a compound called Wizards 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 WIZARDS BANE INTO FLASK!!!! Please.
The problem with any class is that theres 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 dont know why. I didnt 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, Yknow, hes 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 55 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 didnt 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 Id 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 Winguards annual celebration of love, Affection Eve.