Journal of a Paladin
Episode II: The Misadventure of the Crimson Knight
By Matt “Mattü!” Fleming
A.K.A. the Cheddar Paladin
Entry #2 – The Fourth of November in the Year Sixteen Hundred and Ninety-seven
In my last entry I told of the events that devastated not only my family specifically, but the economy of my fair Kingdom of Winguard. The Drakians had made their hostilities known and every person, male or female, who was able to serve the Kingdom was called to arms. My brother was excluded from this conscription because of his new duty as master of our plantation, not to mention his time with the WNT where he was mysteriously discharged after less than a year. So at this point in my story, I’m traveling down the one road from my hometown of Banguard leading to Winguard City.
At age 15, I was just old enough to begin training to become a member of the Imperial Guard. I had no idea what to expect for training when I arrived, but I knew it was going to put me to the test. Rumor had it that members of the Guard are the most elite members of Winguard’s military, so anything near torture was to be expected.
Winguard, up until that point in history, was a pacifist civilization, never to challenge another power. Of course, this gave the impression to other kingdoms that Winguard was up for the taking. One civilization found out otherwise decades before my birth when they attempted to raze Winguard City. As the story goes, in what must have been the shortest defensive Winguard has ever won, the Vitonian Navy had decided to sneak a landing party of about 150 raiders (but that may be an exaggeration due to confabulation over time) into a bay near the docks of Winguard City under the darkness of a new moon. There is little for details about the events of that night, but every record of the event states that within 75 minutes the entire landing party was found and either slaughtered for resisting arrest or captured. To top that, after it was known that Vitonians had landed, the WNW sent out scouting boats to find the landing craft. When they caught up with the two Vitonian ships that transported the troops to Winguard, they boarded the ships, and captured all aboard, including the ships as well.
And I was taking the first steps toward joining the ranks of these incredible men. Or I thought I was, at least. I didn’t even know if I’d be accepted.
Anyway, the day I left Banguard, I was prepared with little. I had the clothes on my back, my life savings, the replica of my family’s scarf around my neck, and a short sword named Futuro for protection. Futuro was an awkward blade. The hilt was a crescent shape and the blade was more suited for parrying, but it’d do for anything small.
It was a pleasant autumn day with a slight breeze and a few clouds scattered here and there. A chill in the air was a detection of winter’s soon arrival. The sun was just coming up above the trees as I exited the last field within Banguard’s borders. I was in common territory now. To the west was the Milkrun River, to the east was the Emerald Woods, and the path north led to Winguard City. From my vantage point, I could make out the blue roof of the Katah Tower, the tallest defense tower of Winguard City, glistening with the reflection of the morning sunrise. No matter what the season, that time of day is truly the most beautiful time to go for a walk in Winguard.
Near midday, I came across a village in the woods that acts as a stop on the way to Winguard City. The name of the small village was Millket, and I say “was” with good reason but I’ll get to that in a little bit. While not a significant stop on the way to Winguard City, Millket did have a small, nearly unnoticeable purpose. Other than providing a place to stay at an inn, stock up on goods, or drop into a tavern for a pint, it served the economy of Winguard as a toll station for any cargo caravans heading into or out of Winguard City. Well, considering it isn’t a long journey between Banguard and Winguard City, travelers just tended to stay in either of those towns and really only stopped in Millket to pay the toll or for a drink. Also, since the event of the bombings, Millket raised the toll on cargo transportation. With all that being said, the locals found the small village to be an annoying blemish in an otherwise beautiful forest.
Considering I was on foot, I didn’t have to pay a toll to go through. So after passing the toll gate, I made a somewhat hurried walk through the village. I had never been in Millket alone before and even with company, the people of the village seemed very hostile. It was no place where I wanted to be for too long. I made a brief stop at the general store, which is near the north toll gate, my exit.
After purchasing an overpriced wheel of Banguard Cheddar (which was highly likely to have been from my own plantation), I exited the store to confront a once in a lifetime sight. Before me was the largest woman I had ever seen. Upon first glance I thought I was looking at a small zeppelin. However, the situation gets stranger. Before her was a boy about my age with spiky, brown hair with a brand of a red highlight in the front. He also seemed to be sporting a chin goatee with the same colors, which seemed somewhat strange for someone my own age. That’s not the strangest thing, however. The most perplexing thing was that he was stark nude. So let me paint this picture for you: Blimp Woman vs. the Nude Firebug.
From what I could tell from my vantage point, the little guy (and actually he wasn’t little, he was really taller than me, but next to her…) was knocked down on the ground and the dirigible was about to land right on top of him. Now, I don’t know how, or why they were in the situations they were in, and I don’t want to think about it, but I felt I had to help the naked one. In what was my first and easiest victory of my life, I walked up to the teetering beast, gave her somewhat of a nudge toward the river, as off she went, slowly at first, rolling downhill, and finally she found herself floating down to Tenguard.
I helped the nudist to his feet and shook his hand. I gave him a piece of cheddar as he looked like he hadn’t had a bite in weeks (so I bit him! Har, har…). Afterward, I shook his hand and then he gave me a very disturbing look. He seemed gesture me to wait a moment and after a brief couple seconds of concentration, he gave me a smile stretching from ear to ear and let loose the foulest stench! Yet, that wasn’t all. Not a second after I picked up on the scent, an explosion seemed to produce from my new acquaintance’s rear. A large ball of fire emerged from his behind and flew toward the strip of buildings known as Main Street in Millket. Those buildings included the tavern, both inns, and the south toll gate. Other than the residential buildings that were safely lining the forest, the general store was the only building that wasn’t enflamed because it was luckily not behind him.
I was somewhat in awe of his abilities and shocked at the destructive force. Yet, that soon passed as I realized that there were little more than 15 villagers in the town and all of them had come out to see if the guy would be flattened by the enormous woman, so there were no casualties of the event.
After he was finished breaking wind, he breathed in his sulfurous stench and, with one of the proudest looks I have ever witnessed, he gave me a gesture of thumbs up. I regarded that blast as a signal of friendship, so in turn I did the same. That’s when I realized yet again, that he had absolutely no clothes on. So I made some gestures to him indicating that he should probably get something to wear in the general store as it was the only place left standing. He then looked down at himself and made a look like he was just realizing that everyone else was wearing clothes but him. He dashed into the store immediately afterward. The thought came to me that there would be no way for him to pay the man at the counter without money so I started toward the entrance to the store to help the stranger yet again. Before I could get to the door, however, the lad burst out of it wearing a fine set of clothing suitable for an upper class citizen. To top it off, he had a stunning, shiny cape of crimson trailing behind him. With a wave of his hand he ran off out the north exit. Before I could leave though, the owner of the store ran outside yelling, “SHOPLIFTER! Dadgum! Oooh, dagnabbed whippersnapper!” shaking his fist in the air with furious anger.
I left then. Not in a hurry, not slowly, but just at a pace as if Millket didn’t exist and this was all just a dream. Ironically enough, soon after that event, the people of the village decided that there was no real profit in a village that small if they had to pay for the cost of rebuilding it, so they moved into Winguard City or traveled to other places, so soon enough, Millket indeed ceased to exist.
By the time the sun started to sink behind the trees in the west, I was approaching the vast, azure colored gates of the outer perimeter of Winguard City.