Ravenloft Fan-Fiction: Dutiful Pedagogue
My 2nd mini-story for http://mists-of-ravenloft.deviantart.com
© Andrè M. Pietroschek, all rights reserved
“That is why you will remain an assistant for several years onward, Aleph. Nobody discriminated against you, do you understand it clearer now? For now you simply lack the mindset needed to apply academic formula to practical work.”
“Thank you for the clarification, Boss. I will remember it well.” pretended Aleph.
The nocturnal landscape of rural Barovia, along a well-traveled road there once stood the Coach and Crown Inn. That inn is the place where both, Aleph and the Pedagogue, learn some lessons of life and the mists.
“The cellar is for the brewing. A smart use of the structure, especially since the steam-pipes and ventilation have been improved.”
“Oh, yes indeed” replied Aleph.
“And here, the kitchen, for the staff to prepare food. Watch the wooden panel’s extended reach to the bar. It is a well designed work of craftsmanship.”
“Pavel, the Innkeeper, must have really loved his job.” noted Aleph.
“Oh, he still does. It is only logical that routine can drain us of motivation once in a while.” lectured the Pedagogue.
“Now Aleph, do not get lazy. Look into the commoners’ room, it is directly besides the main room on ground level! Using the steam-pipes of the brewery to heat the room for the poorest in winter is another sign of academic lore bringing relieve to the hard working populace.”
“Indeed, you must have been very proud concerning your achievements.” guessed Aleph.
“And deserving to be so.” judged the Pedagogue.
“Then these must be the stairs to the more luxurious rooms? The four rooms you had told me about? I really lacked imagination, it is so much more transparent now.” concluded Aleph.
“A proper deduction, my humble assistant. Indeed those four rooms are well known to me. I already worked within each of them for years. Years in which I helped dozens of people into a better life.” prided the Pedagogue.
The Academic was so eager to spin-forth the memories of his work for the people that he nearly dragged Aleph through the first two rooms on the Inn’s upper level. Aleph listened and learned.
When the Pedagogue entered the third room, a frown signed itself upon his face! He was not amused, for sloppiness is not to be tolerated in underlings, be it wenches or housewives! Anger swelled up in the man and soon an accursed nausea impacted the actually quite bright mood of the Pedagogue.
Aleph looked past the Pedagogue and saw that the window had been left open. At the damp time of the year, it had made a misty fog cover the ground of the otherwise stainless room. Though it pained him beyond words to express, he entered the room.
“I should have known! Why, Aleph?” the Pedagogue turned to face the assistant “Why did you poison me?”
Aleph held the gaze of his accuser without any effort. “I did not poison you at all, Sir. Maybe this room has just…”
“Do not lie to me! I recognize foul play, when it is against me! And I recognize the subtle streaks of murder in your personality, Aleph. What have you done?”
Aleph still stayed calm. “I did not poison you. Maybe the mists have a bad smell. Murder? Yes, there was a murder in this room indeed. What have I done? I listened to you, just as I told you that I am eager to learn your truth.”
His head was proverbially spinning, as the Pedagogue was busy discovering the truth while staying wary of his, obviously psychotic, former assistant.” Flashes of Insight and Flashes of Nightmare did battle in his mind.
“My daughter was nineteen, when I decided that she should have a better life than the crude existence as a hunter, which was all I could secure for myself. It damned me to a life in poverty, yet I managed to send her on her way to the new van Richten university. I had trained her for the journey and truthfully, I was proud of her choosing the wayfarer tradition to her goal.” tears rolled down Aleph’s face while he spoke.
“I never knew you had a daughter. And already nineteen?” the Pedagogue stumbled, nauseated and sickened, while nightmarish twists of perception threatened to drive him mad.
“I once hoped you would remember her. She was one who met you here and you taught her precious lore for her life as a student.” Aleph lied.
“I vaguely remember encountering a female student here.” the Pedagogue felt confusion mixing into the alienating malfunctions of his mind. Headaches and dizziness threatened to overwhelm him.
“Yes, you did. And that, while I slept just one room away.” accredited Aleph.
The Pedagogue felt struck, as if by lightning. Aleph spoke words which made sense in an abysmally dreadful way. The petty underling must have assumed that immoral activity would have spoiled the work of the Pedagogue, yet it has never been like that. The Pedagogue was a cultivated man, no cruel ruffian who would force himself upon a woman!
Aleph shivered while the mist began to fill more of the room. “I learned long ago that you really perceived it all differently. Some theories implied that was your self before you snapped…”
“Snapped!” more lightning flushing the surreal, foreboding scene. The Pedagogue remembered the cheerful crowd on ground level. Images of guests came to his mind, a long list. Yet he was a professional, he had never lost his focus for his work! Never!
“Time runs out, Sir. Please remind me, whom did we locals call the Pedagogue?”
The Pedagogue felt forced to reply. As if it was the only way to bring back the order of logic into this chaos of nightmare and accusations.
“The locals in this area, in a grim sense of humor about the undeniable, entitled a delusional serial-killer to be the Pedagogue. The most popular theory is that he murdered gruesomely while his madness convinced him to socialize and interact professionally with the local populace. One autumn night the Pedagogue was stopped from further misdeeds, when the father of his latest victim shot him in the back and began to beat the brain out of the murderers skull in a desperate, mournful frenzy.”
The Mists had risen to hip-level already and Aleph knew it wouldn’t be much longer. So he spoke his farewell. “So you can remember. And by murder we both had damned ourselves. You to haunt this inn until the Mists arise to drag you away once more, and I to face you knowing that it would be wrong to forgive each other, even if it means we both will never find salvation.”
The words could not hold back the madness of the Pedagogue and his ethereal form was already drawn back into the Mists, to serve on with the dark destiny so ill-earned in blood…