Journal of a Paladin
Episode VII: Princesses
By Matthew R. Fleming
A.K.A. the Cheddar Paladin
Entry #8 – The Thirteenth of November in the Year Sixteen Hundred and Ninety-seven
Mr. Armen seemingly bares no pestilence toward me. I usually don’t have much respect toward shady types like himself and his shipmates; however, he seems to be more eloquent than his peers. As I’ve very limited contact with anyone, I can only catch his mannerisms through the floor above me when there’s a disturbance on one of the upper decks, there being only a thick row of planks between me and the room above me. I can tell when Mr. Armen says something because it’s usually in a witty yet condescending tone toward whomever he’s speaking to. I don’t think he likes his fellow pirates, and I don’t think they’re smart enough to catch his sarcasm.
Whenever his duty is to check up on me, he treats me with respect enough not to talk to me. Regretfully, the others do “greet” me, and not in a pleasant manner. He carries himself as more of a swashbuckling type, and not a scurvy-ridden, sea-faring scum of the ocean like the others. His voice is a refreshing oasis of intelligent thought in a desert of “Yar!” It is a shame; I do think he feels trapped on this boat as much as I do.
Back in Winguard, Jordanello and I had decided that there was no strife over the duel, even if the rest of the town hadn’t, though we eventually won them over as well. However, we weren’t certain that the royalty was aware of our situation. Our plan was to show up to the palace together, as a team, and convince them that my “victory” was a misunderstanding. We were more than confident enough to so this until I was greeted by my escort to the palace.
She stood very tall in front of me, taller than a human female, even though she was an elf of Fael blood. “Are you the victor of the dueling tournament?” she inquired, staring me down with her almost completely dark violet eyes.
Attempting to recompose myself, I stood up straight and replied, “That I a-YM,” my voice chocked in intimidation. So much for composure.
“Who is that boy, there?” she asked about Jordan.
“I’m Jordanello Hoffburg,” stated Jordan, “I’m the guy that lost to him.”
“You’ll be received by another carriage,” she was quite annoyed, “They are instructed to pick you up at your residence. I suggest you hurry back there before they take off without you.”
Jordan hurried out the door behind her and quickly made his way down the road. Our plans to arrive as a team went with him. I remained optimistic, though. Perhaps we’d be able to meet before the royal family together and clear things up. From the look of the woman before me, it only solidified my theory that the palace hadn’t received word of mine and Jordan’s peace.
“Follow me,” she commanded as we stared toward our transportation. Glancing back only once in between my door and the door of the carriage, she questioned my attire, “For a late spring day, you seem to be overdressed.”
I rather like my leather jacket, you know. I almost commented on her choice of armor, but avoiding offence, I decided to shrug and remain without comment.
She opened the door to the carriage for me and I looked in before entering. Unfortunately, the sun was glaring through the window on the other side and I could only see a silhouette of the other person I was to ride with. The Faelean Amazon hastily encouraged my entry, so I climbed into the cab and sat in the seat across from my company. “Good day,” I said with a smile, not really looking at the person while I was settling into the cushioned seating of the interior.
When I looked up at my company, I couldn’t look away. At the time, I had never seen a more beautiful creature as the one before me. She was a princess, one born from a treaty between the Fael and the Kingdom of Winguard. She had the average height of any human and the facial features and skin tone of one as well. Her eye lids were shaped like a Fael’s, though the eyes behind them were human in character with green irises, not purple or red like a Fael, and they weren’t inhumanly dark. Her hair ranged from bistre to auburn and cascaded straight down to her shoulders; the only Faelean aspect being the thin curls of some her strands at their ends. Her dress was a combination of the typical white Royal-class attire of the Guardian culture and the more natural, earthy, floral looking garments of the Fael. As the once annoying glare reflected off her ivory skin, she seemed to glow, and my vision tunneled on her with her radiance as a filter to everything that was not her.
In my stupor, I hadn’t noticed whether or not she greeted me, the only thing that broke my trance was the voice of the older Fael, “Presenting her highness, Kay of Fael, Princess of Winguard. My name is Tarcamas Scerpico. I am her protector and Faelean Ambassador to the Kingdom of Winguard. We shall be your escorts to the palace.”
“It’s my great honor to meet you both,” I said, still staring at the princess, though not as entranced as I previously was, yet unable to break visual contact with her. She looked at me and noticed my gaze. She immediately darted her vision out the window, a noticeable blush filling her cheeks. I realized my error at staring at her for so long, and I looked away as well, a blush coming across my face in the same manner. Unfortunately, my eyes landed upon the intimidating body of Tarcamas who had noticed my infatuation with the princess. She gave me a look as if to say,”You’d have no chance, even if you didn’t have to get through me first.”
I looked out the other window for the rest of my trip, daring not to glance back at my escorts for fear of being torn apart by Tarcamas. My thoughts dwelled upon Jordan’s situation. Perhaps he had to be escorted by one of the haggish, inbred, pedigree princesses who were of “pure royal blood.” Therein lays the problem with royalty being limited to breeding with other royalty. The blood is so similar; they just may as well mate siblings. Kay was different, though. She was bred of peace between two different nations. She carried that feeling of peace about her in her prescience. Even without looking at her, I could feel that radiance from her. It was comforting.
I was then on the palace road, the one that I mentioned before that had the amazing violet streams of water along the sides. I had never been so close to Winguard Palatiále before that moment. It’s an enormous structure made primarily of bluestone for the walls, and it features intricate metal roofing that slopes to the tip of the pointed turrets. The keep itself, Katah Tower, is composed of many turrets branching off of a larger central structure. Many personal airships can be witnessed at any given moment emerging from the tower. It was like a giant blue beehive in that aspect.
We went through many gates until the only gate left before us was the ridiculously gigantic main portcullis. Made of cherry red wood and covered with ornate gold markings, it’s probably the most valuable portal I had ever seen. It’s also the best guarded. Four turrets, two on each side, bordered the door, plus a squad of Guardsmen kept stationary on the ground, only moving for accepted traffic.
The door is so large that it slid downward, into the ground, supported by chains, not outward or upward like most doors. As more and more of the palace was revealed as the door moved into the earth, my anticipation swelled within me. I was about to enter the Royal Palace, Winguard Palatiále! When the door was completely under the street, a loud “thunk” was heard, signifying that it had met whatever was preventing it from going through the world. There were several lavish looking people on the other side, waiting to greet us. The carriage rolled in front of them and came to its final stop.
Tarcamas was the first to exit. She announced the princess and who then vacated the cab, bowed, and stepped off to the side. I was announced. I exited the cab and bowed. Neither of us received a truly warm welcome. I wasn’t surprised that I was greeted with no more than a “how do?” yet I found it perplexing that the princess was granted with only a fraction more courtesy than I.
We were to stand in the courtyard with the other guests while we awaited Jordan and his escort. While waiting, I attempted at simple conversation with the princess. Still puzzled at how ungraciously she was welcomed, I quietly spoke to her, “I know why they aren’t entirely happy to welcome me, but I would have thought that you’d receive a more boisterous greeting. That is… I think you… deserve…”
“Yeah,” she cut me off, “they don’t like me here.” It was the first time I heard her voice. It wasn’t snooty or “upper class” but rather normal, real.
Before I had time to inquire about her meaning, the next carriage arrived. It stopped behind the other carriage, which was behind several others, all to be turned around later. First to leave were two Royal Guardsmen, leading me to believe that the occupants were of great importance. One of them announced, “Presenting her royal highness, Princess Darcia of Guardia!” The other guard added, “And her royal feline companion, Pussikins,” with much less exuberance. Out of the cab emerged THE Princess Darcia, heir to the throne of Winguard, and potentially all of Guardia. A true example of pedigree and pomp, she wasn’t the brightest star in the sky, however, merely due to her status in the court and her potential in continental politics, she had all the power of a hot, blue, giant sun!
She was interestingly enough, for a pureblooded Guardian, rather attractive. I’m assuming it is only because of her attire and posture though, as all of her relatives are rumored to be cross eyed, inbred, hags. She gracefully swept past us, nose high in the air, eyes closed, cat tucked under bosom. All whom she passed bowed at her crossing. She had jet black hair, tucked up under an enormous headdress. Her eyes were a lush green like that of a meadow in the afternoon. Interesting about her was that her lips curled in a fashion that looked somewhat catty.
Speaking of cats, “the Royal Feline” stared meanly out at everyone from behind the princess’ hold. The cat was a blonde color, almost white, with short, smooth hair. It was adorned with various accessories, bows and bracelets. The luxuries the cat was equipped with must have been valued well over the amount a common classed family could earn in a year. The most despicable feature of this cat was its ocean blue eyes. In their prescience, everything else just seemed to desaturate in color, though it didn’t help that almost everyone was wearing white anyway.
As the princess moved along, a few moments passed, and without introduction or nearly any detection, Jordan came out from the cab. He seemed to not know what to think. He saw me and he approached, “You know who THAT was?!” he exclaimed.
“You were escorted by the next ruler of Winguard,” I answered.
“Yeah, and she’s a royal bitch!” he so bluntly stated.
“Yeah! I mean, she didn’t even say ‘hello’ or anything, she just gave me a nasty look and then stared out the window the entire time while her damned cat hissed at me every time we hit a bump in the road!”
There was a pause, “She’s pretty, though,” he said.
“Well of course,” I said, “she is a princess after all.”
“Yeah,” he reiterated, “but she really isn’t ugly. Close up, I mean. Y’know?”
“I understand your meaning,” I concurred.
“So who did you ride with?” he asked.
“It was my great honor to ride with Princess Kay of Fael,” I proudly stated.
“Who?” said Jordan, as he was apparently unfamiliar with her.
“Princess Kay?” I reminded him, “You know, the girl who was born of a Guardian and a Faelean peace treaty.”
“No… I just don’t know. Sorry.”
Tarcamas approached the two of us without Kay and motioned to the quickly dispersing crowd of nobles that was pouring into the keep. We both followed suit.