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    The Fall of a Paladin
    Posted on Wed, January 09, 2002 by Legate
    Man-of-the-Cranes writes "Part one of a series on the uncovered memories of a former holy warrior whose fate became entwined with the infamous Temple of Elemental Evil.

    Author: Man-of-the-Cranes

    The Fall of a Paladin
    Chapter One: The Temple of Elemental Evil
    By: Man-of-the-Cranes (
    (Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.)

    Extracts taken from the Journal of Michael Torgrim, former Governor-Knight of Talonkeep, and fallen paladin of Heironeous (found by Justin Galahad in the ruins of Talonkeep, circa Spring 584 CY):

    Again the dreams have come, always the same. Perhaps I shall never again be able to sleep. Perhaps that is my punishment for failing her. Perhaps the dreams are the reason that I find myself sat in my study at some godforsaken hour of the morning with a glass of wine and my journal. But I can think of no other resolution to my dreams. I must come to terms with Leeahn's death. I know that I must. My duty, my endless, relentless duty is not yet ended.

    Even though I can now sense some remnant of her soul within my blade, even though I can feel her emotions and sense her thoughts through the holy grace of my Lord, I so miss her company and her conversation. I miss her beauty. There is no one else that I can discuss this with. I pray to my great Lord, the Invincible One for the strength that I fear I lack, but he is a harsh lord and I am ashamed to admit that I find little consolation in my faith. I have decided that I must put my feelings and memories to paper and seek both solace and healing in the pages of this journal.

    I can remember when we first met.

    I had returned home to my families' estates west of Verbobonc after serving the Order of the Hart for seven years as a Knight of Furyondy. I was stationed in various castles and border keeps along the troubled Veng River, which separates Furyondy from the Horned Society. I had served my squirehood there under my elder brother, Knight Alberich Torgrim, and had remained there after being inducted as a full Knight.

    These were tense and troubled times along the Veng and my squirehood had certainly proved to be a trial by flame. For much of my service Alberich and I were based at Eyeberen at the juncture where the Veng meets the Ritensa, and the Horned Society abuts the Shield Lands. In those days the 'Society were constantly pressing the Shield Lands' border defences and violating the northern towns and homesteads. We were on constant alert, ever vigilant for a threat to Furyondy's own borders, and prepared to aid our besieged neighbours should the political climate allow us.

    But Lord Holmer of the Shield Lands feared King Belvor's ulterior motives in sending a Furyondian military force to his aid. He vowed that while he had valiant leaders like the brave Lord Franz of Torkeep his nation would stand or fall by its own merits. It frustrated us, but we were knights and not politicians, it was all that we could do but watch the beleaguered nation slowly wither and atrophy under the deadly attrition of the unrelenting attacks.

    I only returned home when I began to hear the rumours that wicked forces - bandits and despicable priests were once again gathering near the village of Hommlet. When I was only sixteen, my father had been a part of a company that had banded together under the Viscount of Verbobonc's banner to assault the Temple of Elemental Evil and its inhabitants at the Battle of Emridy Meadows. I was still in tuition at the church then but I was so proud of my father.

    It seemed now that history was repeating itself, and that my fate was bound to follow that of my fathers. The new Viscount, Wilfrick had placed spies and agents in the area after a band of young adventurers had uncovered disturbing evidence of the Temples revival. These brave young heroes were already beginning to penetrate its cursed grounds; but I knew I must be a part of it, as was my father before me.

    I was only twenty-four then (was it truly only five years ago? - those five years have been a lifetime) and I was still full of the ideals they teach us in the Order. I approached this adventuring company at the house they owned in Hommlet village. Their group seemed very disorganized and with no effective leadership. Leeahn must have stuck out, as would a sore thumb; she was the only cultured and formally educated one amongst them. I feel that I owe a few words about the other members of that company and if I can recall and describe accurately my first impressions of them without the bias of more recent events, I will.

    Bolan Ironedge was particularly memorable. A great bear of a man, constantly drinking, swearing, brawling, and wenching. My initial disgust soon gave way to curiosity as I decided to try and understand the barbarian, and see if I couldn't learn a little of his ways of life. Such was my naivete, but I had never before met, let alone associated with such a creature (how my hand trembles now when I call him such). I was determined to lay aside my distaste and see if the man could not be tamed a little. He must have reached a similar conclusion about me, as I know he was as uncomfortable with my nobility as I was with his barbarism. But he too seemed able to put aside his discomfort, and seemed to attain a grudging acceptance of my foreign ways. The two of us were the primary warriors for our group in those days, and our conflicting methods of combat seemed to work almost well together. Bolan accepted that he would not strike down an enemy from the rear (in my presence at least) and I would try not to take offence at his excessive behaviour and scandalous treatment of women outside of the temple. Besides many of these women seemed as uncouth as he was, and they were certainly never offended. Our new-found tolerance could never stretch itself to friendship, our worlds were simply too far apart, but I do believe we struck up a good relationship given the circumstances.

    I wish the same level of tolerance could have been reached between the hobniz' and myself. The hobniz crossbowman, Ponto Bunce, simply made clear his feelings towards the nobility and then proceeded to ignore me completely. I think it would be fair to say that I scarcely noticed him myself in those days except as an annoyance when he registered his disapproval of me, or my opinions.

    The hobniz priest, Peripim Furfoot was much more overt. No one could ever have accused Perry of subtlety. He made clear his feelings towards Leeahn and myself at every given opportunity and as loudly and rudely as possible. I must admit that once or twice my temper may have flared - particularly at his treatment of Leeahn.

    The druid, Finnegan Bospur, was an intriguing fellow, and I felt drawn towards him in an early friendship. He was reasonably quiet but played the role of an 'agony-uncle' to many of us. He was the eldest by ten years of us all, and definitely the wisest. He and I would talk at length about the hobniz and the barbarian, and I began to understand many of their grievances towards me.

    Of course, no one could fail to befriend the noniz Snirthebevlin. I can still hear his laughter and remember his pranks whenever I stand before his statue in Fountain Square. I remember and remain ever grateful to that final battle against the evil clergy of the temple when he saved all of our lives by distracting the priests from us as we lay trapped beneath the priest's binding spells long enough for Bolan to regain consciousness. When I think of the last time that I saw him alive I am saddened and I - but that is not relevant here, not yet.

    And of course then there was the Lady Leeahn (I have delayed thinking of her for long enough). Perhaps the poets would have preferred love at first sight, but that really wasn't the case. The two of us did quickly become friends (united against Perry's continuous barrage of insults) and our love grew from there. Slowly, surely but inevitably. I was five years her elder, and at first I was shocked to find a cultured young lady amongst such a rough and motley company and without an escort. I had met many women, among the Order who could have bested me in any duel or joust, but this was no lady-knight. The Lady Leeahn was a runaway noble girl fleeing the stifling world of the Furyondian aristocracy and learning the arts of conjuration when she should have been marrying the groom chosen for her by her parents.

    I had chosen an unfortunate time to approach the group as a member of their company had been assassinated the previous night (this man was later restored by the divine grace of St.Cuthbert and I was fortunate enough to make his acquaintance and count him amongst my friends). They were all grieving for the loss of their friend and companion, and I received an angrily reluctant acceptance into their company. But I do believe that I quickly won their approval and made a lasting first impression by avenging their lost companion and slaying the assassin in honourable combat.

    Of course the tales of the Temple are well known to all those who care - although the only truly accurate accounts are those penned by the half-olve bard Aril Witherwind. I myself have many memories of that quest: good memories of the companionship we shared and grief-stricken memories of our lost friends.

    As is so often the case with memories and the passage of time, sometimes the exact chronological order of things may be lost, and events remembered inaccurately. But I do remember Bolan and myself rescuing a party of olve' from a cell in the Water Temple; one of whom turned out to be the Countess Trillahi of Celene and another her consort, Sir Juffer.

    I remember the titanic battle we fought with four elementals in the Earth Temple.

    I remember, of course, when I discovered the intelligent blade Lore, in the Temple of Fire; the blade was a prisoner locked in an iron box beneath the glowing coals of the altar's fire pit. We were only able to rescue the blade thanks to Perry's faith magic. Lore soon became more than a mere blade to me, he was a companion and an equal member of the company from the day he saved us from the ploy of those damned werewolves and my own gullibility.

    But Lore, like so many others, was lost to me, killed by a creature whose kind I had never before or since encountered. The creature was from the elemental plane of water and appeared to be nothing more dangerous than a pool of water. I would never have believed that a sword, intelligent though it was could have become so dear to me.

    I also remember the ettin that I fought in single combat.

    I remember the four will-o-wisps that haunted and plagued our company.

    Perhaps our greatest success, after the defeat of the demoness herself was the discovery and rescue of Prince Thrommel, Grand Marshal of Furyondy, Provost of Veluna and Paladin-Lord. He had been held a prisoner for five years, in temporal stasis, and magically disguised to appear as a hibernating vampire, to deter any would-be rescuers.

    And of course I remember the banshee. One does not easily forget one's own death. Although I find it hard to think of it as death, perhaps it is only my method of coming to terms with it, but I think of it more as a serious battle injury. I don't recall the point of death any more than one can remember the exact moment one falls asleep. I can recall the pain of the keening, then I simply regained consciousness. The interim period (a matter of some weeks) of my death is hazy to me. I can remember little and what little I do remember is as if from a dream. I recall only a mountain landscape bathed in golden light and the sensation of flight. It was not the graceful flight of a bird, but an agitated and uneven darting to and fro. I was raised by St. Cuthbert himself who had retaliated against Iuz's direct interference sending his avatar into battle with the demi-god and restoring to us all of our fallen.

    Iuz and St. Cuthbert fought an epic battle. By this time the veteran heroine Jehnna Windrow was with the group and she had fought against Iuz and his forces in the past, the demigod actually recognized her and killed Bolan in his haste to reach her and exact vengeance. Were it not for St. Cuthbert's timely intervention, that would have been the end of us all.

    I first realized my fondness for Leeahn when she was killed by a huge juggernaut that almost destroyed us all. Of course she too was returned to us by St. Cuthbert's divine aid, and I was more grateful than I would have admitted.

    We were soon joined in our quest not only by Jehnna, but also by the legendary dwur warrior Thoric Ironboot and his companion the olve archer Delsenora Tehm. I was almost overwhelmed - these were real heroes, veterans of the ruins of Castle Greyhawk and a hundred other tavern-tales. They had once quested with the great knight Scintilla Galahad (here also I was still naïve, I had yet to learn the truth behind the Galahad myth). I felt as if I had to make a favourable impression, however Thoric had been adventuring before even my grandfather was born and he seemed constantly unimpressed.

    Our adventure in the Temple came to a close after a full year with the climatic final battle against the demoness Zuggtmoy herself. During the final battle, when all seemed lost, Heironeous blessed me with a holy avenger greatly aiding our eventual success. The forces of the Temple of Elemental Evil were once again thwarted and we were all granted various titles as Heroes and suchlike, but this all seems like so much trivia to me now

    Our days in the Temple had been long and hard, but they were formative times. Each of us grew in strength in our own individual ways, and we survived We survived the elemental evil of the Temple, we survived the Red Death that scourged across the lands in the days and took its terrible toll even in sleepy Hommlet. We survived and we emerged victorious.

    But we were given little time to rest and reflect on our success however, before we learned that an old companion of Thoric's and Jehnna's, the infamous necromancer Malek Cathoris, had been using a companion of ours as a messenger. From some distant plane Malek hypnotized our wizard through a crystal ball that he possessed. The necromancer was in trouble, and so it seemed were Thoric and Jehnna (Delsenora had sadly lost her life during one of the final battles of the Temple).

    I was aware only of the myths surrounding the necromancer and his present relationship to Thoric and Jehnna. But I was able to gather that Malek had somehow betrayed his former companions during a mission to recover the bodies of their former company (including their leader, the world famous paladin Scintilla Galahad) from the subterranean lair of the dragon where they had lost their lives. It seemed that the necromancer had since become trapped in some distant plane that Thoric and Jehnna had themselves only recently escaped. They referred to this plane only as the 'darklands' or the 'shadowlands'.

    The necromancer had apparently discovered that an old enemy of theirs was seeking revenge, this enemy was a powerful devil they named Dispater. Malek sought a truce believing that the three would not be able to withstand the devil unless they stood together. Thoric and Jehnna gave the matter a lot of consideration (both seemed to display a great reluctance to return to these darklands) but eventually they did agree to return. I was at the same time shocked and honoured when Thoric charged me with the safekeeping of his castle, Talonkeep, which lay just south of the free city of Greyhawk along the Selintan River overlooking the small town of Two-Ford. I accepted this great honour and swore to Thoric that I would oversee his castle until his return - that was the last time I saw either him or Jehnna Windrow alive.

    It seemed that the devil Dispater liked to play games, and as such our group (except for Perry who had since left us to retire to his native Wild Coast) were captured by an accomplice of his merely because Thoric had entrusted us with Talonkeep. If my purpose here is to collect my thoughts and memories and to make some sense from them, then the archpsionicist Mellenea must play a very significant part in the path my life was to take. After defeating this powerful associate of the devil and escaping from her flying citadel our group divided and was never again to reform. Leeahn and myself returned to Talonkeep, whilst the others went in pursuit of Thoric and Jehnna believing that Dispater had now made the matter a personal affair.

    It would be a long time before I would see any of them again.

    I believe that were a scholar to chronicle my life, as no doubt they one day will, the first volume would close here, shutting me within the troubled halls of Talonkeep.

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    Re: The Fall of a Paladin (Score: 0)
    by Anonymous on Tue, January 22, 2002
    What a interesting story I was wondering as a rather keen adventure myself was this story based on some real gaming or are you just making it up!!! I think if you are using personal experiences you should at least give the other people some credit, as Im sure you know players do put a lot of time and effort in to their characters!!! Well done old chap keep up the good work Im off to insult some important people and then save the world when paladins fail!!!
    ps. I do this with no regard for my own personal safety and most of the time for no personal gain (some DM's are so tight!!)Toot toot pip talk soon old chap.

    Re: The Fall of a Paladin (The way we help him along!!) (Score: 1)
    by Mort on Wed, January 23, 2002
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    As a man who knows most of this story Im looking forward to read more. If you need any help in remebering the way it went dont worry come to the cronical of truth Im sure I could find something in this deck to help you along the trail!!

    Re: The Fall of a Paladin (Score: 1)
    by Mort on Sun, January 27, 2002
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    Ian in reply to your letter I reserve all right over Mort as his creator! So if you are planning to sell him to anyone I would suggest you gain ownership first! The same goes for Micheal and Donal as we have all decided you should contact us when you wish to use our characters!! I would be interested to hear what other people think about the subject so please give your opinion.

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