Journal of a Paladin
Episode XV: The Inquisitors
By Matthew R. Fleming
A.K.A. the Cheddar Paladin
Entry #16 The Thirtieth of November in the Year Sixteen Hundred and Ninety-seven
Professor Flekag had left quite an impression on me the other night, one that changed everything for me. I had never known what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I was afraid that night. I had never been in a situation where I could have been hurt by just minding my own business. But witnessing the Professor handle those criminals with all of the confidence and power he displayed was very inspirational. Cobalt had told me of the things he saw on the streets of the city at night, and I had wished I could do something about them. Now, with Professor Flekags help, I think I might be able to.
After our next alchemy class, I was able to talk to the professor again in private. He seemed a little nervous about talking to me as a friend. Hey, uh, yknow I hope I didnt scare you the other night, he apologized.
Are you ludicrous? I replied, What you did was amazing and Id like to know how you learned to defend yourself the way you did.
Look, kiddo, Im not what you think I am, okay? Im not some hero for you to look up to, unless you look up to me as a teacher.
Nonsense, you were strong, and surprisingly witty under duress, I rebutted.
Youve got the wrong idea, bud, he argued, I was afraid of this, yknow.
What do you mean? You were afraid Id come to you looking for some kind of training after witnessing your exploits?
Yes, actually. I dont want you to go through what I did. And I know thats exactly what you were thinking.
Well, I tried to think of some other reason that I wanted to learn from him, but I could not, Yes. Yes, I want to learn how to fight like you.
Thats not what Im asking ya. What do you think I did before I became an alchemy professor?
I dont know, but you must have been someone important. A knight perhaps. Or a monk.
Really, son, youve got me pegged all wrong.
Why wont you tell me? I begged.
I cant be responsible for what happens to you. Im already responsible for you as your teacher!
Professor Flekag, I looked at him as with as much sincerity as I could muster, I know what transpires in this city at night. I know that danger wont give me any second chances. And I know that youve got abilities that will help me defeat those that would harm innocent citizens or even me. I am begging you, to tell me about these abilities, and train me in the same way you once were. If not for my own safety, than for the safety of anyone I can protect with such skills.
he stammered, Look, kid
I just cant
I dont want your blood on my hands.
Im old enough to fight for this kingdom on a battlefield. Ive already signed up for that. Im not afraid.
Youre talkin war, chum. It aint like that when youre fighting things worse than other men.
AH HA! I exclaimed, You HAVE seen some strange things. You were an adventurer once!
Now dont throw a party for yourself just because you think you got somethin outta me. It doesnt mean Im gonna train you. Besides, I was a lot younger than you when I started my own training. By the time I was your age, I had already
he paused, stopping himself from getting carried away, Nope. Not gonna. No. Im just an alchemy teacher to you, and if you keep this up, thats all Im gonna be. I wont be able to be your friend if you cant stop pestering me about this.
But Professor! I pleaded.
But nothing, kiddo! Dont press your luck. Ill hear no more of this. Im trying to forget my past, and I dont need all of this prying from you.
Im sorry, Professor Flekag. I wont ask you about it any more. I appreciate your concern for my safety.
Im glad you came to that conclusion, kiddo. I really wouldnt be able to live with myself if anything were to happen to you because of something I taught you. Its for the best, it really is.
May I just make one statement? I asked.
Alright, Ill listen to one more plea, if itll make you feel better.
You may think that what Im about to say is false, but Im being completely honest when I say it. I think I respect you more for not teaching me. It disappoints me that I wont be able to study your style of justice, but Id rather still be friends. I want to tell you this because youve really been like a surrogate father to me since I started your class. I dont want to disappoint you. If you feel its best that I dont follow in your footsteps, then I will agree with you that it is for the best. Thank you for your time, Professor. Now if youll excuse me, I need to run, Im about to miss the train.
I left the classroom at a quick walk speed, but not running as it was not allowed in the building. Before I could turn the corner to head down the stairs to the lobby, I heard the professor calling for me to wait, Wait a second, bud! I stopped and looked back. He hollered again, You win, you clever little
Alright, Ill talk, but not here. Meet me at Seamuss for lunch tomorrow. Ill tell you whatcha been waitin to hear.
At the Black stop that evening, Professor Flekag starred into his pint of ale. I surmised that he ordered the beverage out of habit as he didnt appear to want to drink any of it. It made me wonder if hell eat any of the cranapple pie he ordered. I was looking forward to mine. Seamus had just received a fresh crate of cranberries so Maggie was making all sorts of culinary concoctions with them. I wouldnt be surprised if my chilled tea comes with some cranberry flavoring in it.
The professor finally took a sip of his ale, set it down and spoke, I really wish you hadnt convinced me to tell you about this, his tone possessing an air of depression. You kids these days, he went on, you just dont have an understanding of the word no. But yknow what? Its fine. I should have expected Id have to pass this along to someone eventually.
I was starting to regret my prying. I knew that what he had experienced would help me greatly, but I didnt even think that he may have to unearth some ghosts to be able to pass on his knowledge to me. That thought finally occurring to me, I was starting to feel a little guilty.
I was about your age, he started, maybe a little younger when my father passed away. My mother, unable to support me, sent me to live with my grandfather, a witch hunter. You may have heard of Flick OShea?
The name was familiar to me. Perhaps my own grandparents had told me of him when I was younger but I didnt remember. I shook my head and he continued, No? he said surprised. Kids, he denounced my generation.
At that moment, Clarissa, Seamus and Maggies eldest daughter and most respected employee arrived with our slices of pie, my mug of chilled tea, and a bright smile. We both thanked her and she left assuring us that if we needed her we could just holler. I sipped my tea. Tart and sweet: cranberry.
Professor Flekag continued, So, my grandfather. He was the leader of a group of witch hunters who called themselves the Inquisitors. They were hired by the king at that time, our current rulers father, King Marshal VI
he paused, cut into his pie and thought for a moment while he tasted it. Damn good pie, he proclaimed. I agreed. He started in again, Yeah, so they were hired by King Marty (thats what we called him, we called him King Marty) and they we supposed to hunt down and find practitioners of evil. You got witches, demons, vampires, werewolves, all that good stuff that you read about sometimes.
Now wait a minute, I protested, vampires, and werewolves, and what, zombies?
Yeah, those, too! he said with a matter-of-fact tone. I take it you dont believe me? Perhaps Im going senile? Im not THAT old, yknow. And, I tell ya, Im not makin this up either! I was there. I fought with them eventually! he took a sort of victory swig of ale and set the glass down with emphasis.
Wait, I had to stop for a moment to process this revelation, So those storybook monsters are real? And you have fought them? That does explain some things, but youve had a lot of time in between after class and now to make some of this up.
I know it sounds farfetched, bud, but Im telling ya the straight truth, he seemed more focused now and confident in his words so I was willing to believe him for awhile. Youre familiar with the Royal Guard of Paladins arent you?
Of course I am, I stated. Everyone was.
The government doesnt want you to know this, but they do more than just protect the King. They took over for the Inquisitors after
he stared off again. Something terrible must have happened. He gathered himself again and proceeded Ysee, we were VERY good at what we did. Thats part of the reason why you only read about those monsters.
Dont give yourself too much credit, Professor, I half-joked.
Im not, he retorted, and dont interrupt, its rude. So I sipped on some more tea and allowed him to continue again.
We were good at what we did because we were composed of the right people. My grandfather, Flick, was the toughest fighter thats ever walked this earth, I kid you not. He used this massive claymore! It was a feat itself to just walk around with it without getting tired. That and he never took crap from anyone, you just didnt mess with him, and people knew it. But he wasnt mean or anything like that. He was a likable fella and people respected him.
One of the other guys in our group came to be my best friend after I joined up with the team. He was an elven cleric by the name of Atticurian. He must have been raised in Winguard because he didnt pray to any Fey deity. Didnt worship the land or anything like that. Could have been just a short human with pointy ears if I didnt know any better. Well, anyway, he was out main diviner. Wed get a lead on some bad magic, go to a crime scene and hed sniff out where the witch went from there. All wed have to do after that is point Ol Flick in the right direction and the situation was pretty much taken care of.
I had finished my pie by that moment and, wiping my mouth on a napkin I said, So, you sounded like a pretty functional team. So why are you not hunting anymore?
He took a gulp of ale, Well, those werent the only members of the Inquisitors. My grandfather and Atti were just the only other permanent members aside from myself. Other members came and went, mostly fighters with a strong divine prescience. Other times, we would enlist some white mages and alchemists. They be more in charge of making potions to use in the field for our health or used in a more
concussive manner against our enemies.
One such member was a young mage named Rebek. She was a beautiful, intelligent alchemist with a knack for making depowering potions. Wed use her vials to douse a black mage in a substance that would temporarily remove their ability to cast spells. Its was usually asked of us to bring them in alive, so her potions were a welcome gift, much better than making explosives (though Flick liked those kinds the best).
So Rebek was with us for a long time and while she was onboard, she taught me all I know about alchemy. Our relationship started out normally enough, but before long, we fell in love with each other. I thought that was going to be enough to keep her with us for a long time, but eventually she was call off by her mages guild to do some task or another for them. Now, my grandfather was still in charge of me at that time so I felt obligated to stay with him. We parted ways and I didnt see her for a long time after that.
I was upset to hear that as I was still getting over my own romantic issues. Thats terrible, Professor, I said. I hadnt taken another sip of my tea for awhile.
Yeah, well, that aint the half of it, chum, he warned me before starting in again. The group had eventually come down to me, Flick, and Atti again and we were called in to find a presumed witch who seemed to be killing by use of giant feline familiars.
Big cats? I guessed.
Not exactly, he said, with a look of confused disgust about him. What we eventually found out was that this witch wasnt summoning giant familiars. The witch we caught up to was actually part cat!
I was stunned by what he said, and a little confused, a werecat?
No no, he corrected me. Werecats are people that transform into big cats because of a curse. What this was, it stood upright, humanoid. Had all kinds of human traits, could pass for one if not for the tail and claws. Its ears were positioned on the top of its head and its face was turned up into a short muzzle, but everything else seemed human at least. Thats why witnesses presumed it to be a witch. The cat scratches on the victims said otherwise.
Well, we caught up to it in a cave out in the Emerald Forest. What shocked all of us, though, was that it recognized us! See, and Im still unsure why or how, but the witch-cat turned out to be Rebek herself, transformed by what Im sure was some black magic means.
I was taken aback. This must have been what troubled the professor so much. He leaned back in his seat and took a swig of ale, Im sure trying to get past whatever images of that encounter he had to in order to continue.
She called my name when she saw me, he whispered, it was her voice coming out from whatever she had become. She looked like she wanted to peacefully talk. He paused, but
they must not have recognized her. They charged in. She threw one of her debilitating potions at Atticurian, making him effectively useless, he was never a great fighter. My grandfather, on the other hand, came at her like an unstoppable force. I did nothing to interfere with the resulting struggle, but at some point she was able to free herself from him, and at that very moment, Atticurian came at her with a mace. Her new form must have come with some berserker side effects because she was able to dodge him and when she counter attacked him, she was more animal than human. I dont think she could control herself. She slaughtered him in front of me. Even Flick was stunned by the inhuman display.
He was silent for a moment, not drinking or eating anything, as was I. His still being here to tell me this story meant there was only one possible outcome of the confrontation. He didnt have to tell me.
after I had lowered my crossbow, Flick went to check her body. Im sure what he said was something like, good shooting or something else meant to be positive. I wasnt entirely there, though. I just stared at the bolt sticking straight upward out of her corpse.
He finally managed to finish his drink, She was still herself before she was threatened. We didnt even search for evidence that she was an actual threat to society. She could have been helped, I think. But we went in swords raised, like we always did. It makes me wonder how many more innocent mages we murdered. He started back in on his pie again and concluded, Thats why the Inquisitors no longer exist.
Finally understanding why he was so hesitant before I apologized to him, You dont have to teach me. I know you dont want me to end up having to experience something like that.
Kid, he reassured me, sure, I learned a lot of powerful things from my time with the team, and passing on that knowledge to you is gonna open a lot of bad doors for you. However, with the knowledge I have now, I could have gone on an entirely different path, one that I think you could blaze instead.
So, youll still teach me? I excitedly asked for confirmation.
Son, I think I was meant to teach you, he looked at me as sincerely as possible. Then he raised his hand and hollered, Clarissa! Nother pint! And Ill have smore of ya mothers fantastic pie!