Tuesday, December 4, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: [Pargons Of Virtue: book #1] Day #12

Here are more brainstorming ideas.

I think that there is much potential in you, and I am pleased that you are joining the order. I think that it will guide you and give you a sense of purpose. There are a lot of people out there, but you are a rare kind, and sending you out in the world, and not be part of the order, would be a waste.

# # #

John said, “I don't know what to do. Carl really seems bent on this. All he sees is the other guys as a bunch of thugs who need their punishment.”

“You're in a tough situation.”

“Did you have somebody betray you?”

“I don't think it was betrayal, and I don't think that yours is, either. I think that it's more a parting of ways. You guys had a disagreement, and you seem to be following different paths. It seems that you need to get Carl onto your path, while there is still time. You need to do something about it.”

“So, what happened in your situation?"

# # #

As mentioned before, our town had a big layoff. My friend David was planning on joining the order with me. We thought that it would be kind of cool to go through it all together. He got cold feet, before signing on the dotted line. I was disappointed, but I respected him still. I figured that he just had a different calling. In the years to come, I would discover just how true that was.

In about my fifth year of service, a call came in regarding arsonist on Mt. Seymour. Two sections of us geared up, hopped in two trucks, and darted out there.

Our trucks wound around the mountain's main road. As we got closer the smell of smoke became thicker. As bad as it was, it reminded me of fond moments of campfires, when I was a cub scout. We passed by the tourist information building. Many visitors were standing at the entrance, watching the commotion. A couple of firemen crossed the street behind us, carrying a stretcher.

By time we arrived, the firemen already had things under control. They had hours of work ahead, but they had finished several controlled burns, and the fire had no where else to go. Our job was to track the arsonist, and keep an eye out for any victims that might have needed help.

My section started down the toboggan run, and the other section headed down the ski sl

opes. We brought radios with us. At the bottom of the run, we entered a hiking trail. There was enough room for about three men to walk shoulder to shoulder, but walked in two ranks. The men were spread apart in a zigzag shape.

About ten minutes into the hike, a hiker comes stumbled onto the trail. He had blood running down his face, and he had blood running down his upper right arm. He moaned, and fell to his knees, and then forward onto his hands.

Each of my fellow paladins quickly bent down on a knee, and pointed the rifles to where he came from.

I quickly laid hands on him, and that healed him enough, that he could get out of the forest on his own two feet.

While walking, I asked him for his name and other basic information.

“Homer. Homer Thompson. I was just exploring, and...the...and then the fire happened.”

“What else happened? How did you get bloody? Who shot this arrow?”

“I tried to flee...the fire, that is...but the mountain rangers stopped me. They began questioning me. They were going to arrest me, but since they aren't real cops, I fought back and tried to flee.”

“Did you know that you are not allowed to flee from them? They have the authority to arrest you.”

“No, I didn't know that. Why do they have the right do that?”

“It's their job to protect the mountain from danger. They keep us all safe as well.” We arrived back at the bottom of the toboggan run.

“So? That's not fair that they can do that. They're just a bunch of power mongers. I care about the mountains, but you don't see me pushing people around, do you?” He patted his pockets. He reached in his coat's inside pocket, and pulled out a pack of cigarettes.

My eyes widened. The summer had been very dry. It usually was the case in south western Canada, and this summer had be dryer than dry. I hoped that he was just putting it in a different pocket.

With only his left hand, he opened the pack, and did a clever finger manoeuvre and toss to get a cigarette in his mouth.

I stopped him, stepped in front of him, held my left hand up, tilted my head forward, and lifted up my rifle just a little. “First of all, you shouldn't have something so unhealthy even near you.”

He rolled his eyes.

Honestly, I couldn't blame him. He was probably old enough to be my father, and since when did smokers ever care about lung health? “Second of all, you ought not even bring those near the forest in summer, let alone take them out of your pocket.”

He smiled. I sensed a bit of contempt for my badge. “So...you're going to arrest me or something?”

“I didn't say that. I'm just offering advice.”

“Advice that I didn't want.”

“Now, I'm ordering you: put the cigarettes away.”

“You're just like the rangers. There's no law against fires and smoking in summer, you know?”

“The rangers are allowed to ban fires and smoking, in the interest of safety, though.” He looked away. I sensed that he was looking at the medics at the command post that the firemen had set up. He still had an arrow in his arm.

The laying of hands really helped him, but he was still in pain. Seeing this man walk around normally, while in pain, with an arrow in the arm, was a sight to behold.

He put it back in the pack, and said, “Happy?”

“Yes, I'm so delighted and cheerful. If only there were tulips to tiptoe through. Mr. Thompson, would you tell us about the people who shot you?”

“It was one of the rangers. That punk. You ought to arrest him. If I ever get my hands on him, then I'll wring his neck. I was just having fun. He didn't have to fire an arrow at me.”

What he said was quite odd. Although rangers did have the authority to shoot arrows at people, it was only for the purposes of defending the mountain or dealing with dangerous people. It was unheard of, though. I wondered if it ever happened, at all. Another interesting thing is that the arrow appeared to be a Mount Seymour ranger arrow: the fletchings had the official colours.

“Go over this again, slowly. What were you doing before you encountered the rangers?”

“We just sitting around a...eating. Nothing. Then this ranger comes out of the bush, and says, um, 'You guys aren't allowed to eat here.' We said, 'Why not?' He said, 'You can't! You just can't! Stop arguing with me! Or else!'”

We were half way up the toboggan run. “That seems odd.”

“Yeah, exactly.”

“No, I mean, I can't picture any ranger acting like that.”

“And neither can I. That's the way that he did it, though.”

“All right then. So, how did you respond?”

“I said, 'Okay! We'll leave. We're done here, anyways.' As I left he shot me, and started swearing and calling me names.”

I found that hard to believe. “Okay. Is that all?”

“Yep, that's all.”

“So, how did you head get bloodied?”

“Oh, well, that...I think that I fell. I'm all ready forgetting. Maybe I bumped my head, or maybe that ranger knocked me down.”

I brought out my pen and pad, and wrote it all down. “What happened to the others?”

“Uh, what? Who?

“The other people that you were with.”

“Oh, uh yeah. They're still there. They're names are Jim and Mike.”

“Did you get a name from the ranger that shot you?”


“Is there any other information that you haven't mentioned?”

“No. That's it.”

“No other names of people? Locations?”


We arrived at the top of the toboggan run, and made sure that he got the medical attention that he needed. We also explained ourselves to people who might not of heard of us before.

Our section headed back into the forest, where we first saw Homer.

Reed said, “Let's give it a shot.” We veered off the main trail and cocked our weapons.

We stepped through shrubs and greenery, which was so dense that there was no way to predict how far down our feet went.

About five minutes into it, a deep voice in the distance said, “Halt.”

We looked around. Out of the shrubs, along the impromptu trail that Homer had forged, a ranger appeared, holding a bow by his side. He held his hand up.

We pointed our weapons down, and made our way to him.

He said, “Hi. I'm Matthew Simon; a ranger here on Mt. Seymour. What are you men doing here?”

I said, “Greetings. We're were called in to search for an arsonist, and any people who might have been injured due to the fire.”

“I am also in search of the arsonist, and he went up the trail where you came from. Did you pass anybody?”

“We did meet somebody.”

“What happened to him? He was injured, and shouldn't have got far.”

“We healed him, and led him back to the command post for medical attention.”

“We need to hurry, in case he escapes.”

“We'll cooperate for now, but there are some unanswered questions.” I turned the men around, and continued the conversation with Simon. “How did you know that he is the arsonist?”

“I saw him smoking at the centre of where the fire must have started. He even created a camp fire. Fires are not permitted on the mountain.”

“Yes, we saw the prohibition.” The other paladins were walking ahead of the two of us. I called out to them “Halt!” I turned to Simon, “We need to investigate this further before we can hand him over to you. Can you tell us what happened?”

“I can show you. Let's go back to my office.” He took us up the toboggan run. We passed by the firemen, and went around behind the tourist information centre. Our boots deeply drummed the wooden stairs, as we ascended to an office of the same building. Before entering, he placed his feet together, and lifted his hand. I thought that he was making an oath, so I looked around for cameras, but found none. Once inside, he sat at his desk, and opened a folder. He flipped though about a dozen sheets for us. “We have been getting problems all summer long. He's been given a few warnings. You might as well hand him over. He's just going to come back and cause trouble. You can see for yourself what damage he has done.”

“This park was set aside for the people. Don't you feel that it is a bit extreme to be shooting them?”

“I don't think so. Our job is to be stewards of the forest. Yes, forests are set aside for people, but we also need to think of future generations, and we also need to protect this mountain because of how sacred it is.”


Yes.” He looked at me in disbelief. He looked at the badge on my chest. He leaned back in his chair, probably thinking about a new plan of attack. He pointed at my badge, and said, “You should understand what this means.”

“I serve God. I don't serve plants and animals. I use them, nurture them, and protect them, but I do not serve them.”

As he listened, he shook his head, and waved his finger. “Hm. Putting yourself first. It's no wonder you harbour criminals.”

I was taken aback, but didn't have time to react. More footsteps on the stairs distracted me.

Somebody opened the door, and said, “Sir, we found him.”

My brow creased, and my jaw dropped. We both made eye contact, and then his eyes widened. It was David.

He said, “Hey—”

Simon got up out of his seat, and said, “Let's go.”

So much was happening at once. He, too, had a paladin's uniform on, and he also had a scar on his forehead. It was as if they bought their uniforms from the same company that we did, but chose a deep green fabric, whereas we chose a scarlet red.

As we followed David and his boss, I said, “What is going on?”

We shook hands. He gestured with an open hand to the forest, and said, “Well, I joined the order.”

I found myself getting a little offended. I remember that David was always fast and loose with his words, but he seemed deliberate this time. “You can't possibly mean that you serve...” I looked at the forest, and struggled to find my words. Maybe I misunderstood him. “No...what...okay. What order do you belong to?”

“The Order Of The Forest.”

We stepped onto the main road. “But who could you possibly worship? You supposed to be just a government worker—park staff.”

“Well, you work for the government. You serve and protect.”

“No, it's not like that.”

“Oh, how's it different?”

“We serve the one true god, and we bring a bigger perspective with us, instead of...” I looked at the forest again. “Whatever happened to your 'I am not cut out to be a paladin.'?”

“What I meant was, I wasn't cut out to do what you're doing, bossing people around every day.”

I shook my head. I was glad to see him, and know that he had a decent job, but I also wanted to strangle him.

We arrived at a group of rangers and forest paladins. In the midst of them, were Homer and a few men. I presumed that they were his friends. Every one of them were talking above each other. The green paladins had stepped into the private spaces of Homer and his friends. The green paladins poked the men to emphasize what was being said.

I was confident that the ranger's claims were true. I had a feeling that thing were going to get worse, since my job was to protect those guys from park staff who were planning on taking things into their own hands.

# # #

I immediately pulled out my radio, and updated the other section.

“We'll head back immediately. Over.”

“We'll wait for you, then. Smith Out.”

# # #

David said, “Hey! We're The Sacred Order Of The Forest. We're not just park staff. Have a little respect. You don't see us belittling your philosophies and beliefs.”

“David, David. Oh, David. You've got to be kidding me. I respect what you believe and do. You guys perform an excellent service, but at the end of the day, you are just park staff, especially in this discussion. The law requires—“

“Don't preach your law to us. You're in our domain now.”

I couldn't believe him. Every time he raised his nose in the air, and spoke like that, it was as if he was opening his neck up and goading me into strangling him. I also wanted to just grab his armour, and slap his face back and forth. “You have some nerve calling our order a philosophy. It was a commission handed to us by God, and passed down through the ages. We didn't go to a web site and print out a PDF.”

He looked at me, in a way, that cut deep.

“Look. I don't mean that. I'm not saying that you did do that, but what you have is different.”

He shook his head. “You were always doing that.”


“When we were kids and in high school. You were always treating me like that. You always belittled whatever I chose. Now that I finally have something, you still want to poo poo all over it. I'm not surprised that a guy like you would join the order, and protect these criminals.”

The other section arrived on the scene. The sergeant looked over David, and said, “What the...?”

I bit my tongue.

David said, “Aren't you going to explain who we are?”

I looked away. I looked at the sergeant. “These men are the park staff,” I said, and I gestured and said, “the rangers...and...” I searched for words.

David said, “You can't bring yourself to say it, can you?” He turned to the sergeant, and said, “We are the paladins of The Forest Order.”

“You've got to be kidding me.”

“No, and you are in our jurisdiction. If you don't comply with our laws, then you can get out.”

The sergeant pulled me aside, and said, “What's going on?”

“It's just as I said. I think that these guys have gone off the deep end. I think that they really think of themselves as paladins. I happened to know that guy. We grew up together. The staff found those men, and even shot arrows into them. It also seems that these men are actually guilty of arson.”

“Well, let's bring in the four guys.”

“I haven't had a chance to ask them, but I think that they want to be the judge, jury and executioners.”

“This is getting hairy really fast.”

The sergeant turned to the park staff, and said, “Mount Seymour is part of Canada, and federal law applies here.”

“Yes, and we were charged, by Canada Parks and Recreation, with protecting this mountain. Your domain only applies to the city, and this mountain is in a totally different city.”

“It doesn't matter. They have a right to a fair trial. We were tasked by North Vancouver to help.”

“Yes, to help.”

# # #

tied him to a tree

plunged a sword into his eyes

set him on a pile of wood


sacrifice people for the forest; must do it at a certain time of year

We arrived at Cathedral Grove, which was a very beautiful sight of a site to behold. It had an open area with amphitheatre style seating, which was made from cedar. The scent seemed very comforting to me. We descended to the stage, which was made of pine. We could see the dirt that was tracked onto it, but it gave me a clean feeling, because I liked unstained raw pine. The red woods that surrounded the sanctuary stood in such precise placement, that they almost seemed to be standing in military formation for a grand ceremony. Their unblemished bark and limbs only reinforced the idea.

David said, “This is not just a sanctuary for human believers, but for arbourist believers, as well. Many trees and plants seek refuge, and the grand oaks have offered sanctuary to all of them.”

I remembered when we were young. He obeyed the rules of the churches and Sunday school, and elementary school, but he never appreciated all that religion had to offer. He complained and got away with what he could. I wondered what made him change his mind. I wonder if I pressured him so much that he snapped and clutched the closest thing that he could get, like a drowning man grasping a life saver. Maybe I needed to apologize to him. “Hey David. You know when we were--”

“And over here, is the fellowship space. This where we can seek the council of the trees. Come. They would like to see you.”

We followed him between two trees. The next open space was smaller. The trees lined up in a circle.

“Each tree is represented here, so that every kind of tree has a voice.” He looked me with a smile on his face.

I wanted to smile back at him, and nod my head, or maybe give him a high five, but I felt that that would have been deceptive. The best that I could muster was to look at him through the corner of my eye.

I usually thought of lumber as just another kind of building material. It was organic, sometimes scented and beautiful. Now, I felt like I was walking on the bodies of cult members.


The end. Thank you for reading!

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