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    The Fall of a Paladin: The Falcon Saga
    Posted on Tue, February 05, 2002 by Tizoc
    Man-of-the-Cranes writes "Part two of the series, relating events in the life of the hero Michael Torgrim, as he approaches his grim fate.

    Author: Man-of-the-Cranes

    The Fall of a Paladin
    Chapter Two: The Falcon Saga

    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):
    The second volume would open in a very mundane fashion, as I spent the next year fighting hard against only one enemy: Talonkeep. The responsibility for Talonkeep hit me extremely hard, I can see that now. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried I was in a constant struggle to keep the castle financially and emotionally stable. The many racial struggles, fights and deaths caused me tremendous distress.

    No sooner had I taken over the responsibility than Thoric's dwarves were questioning my authority and my capability to govern. The humans it seemed were pleased to have another knight of Heironeous in command, as it was Scintilla Galahad who had founded the keep. This tension continued to escalate for much of a year and culminated in a plot to overthrow my rulership. Dwarves from the priesthood and from my own elite guard were involved in the coup. It was fortunate for me that my ever-faithful seneschal Morgan was alert enough to discover the conspirators in time.

    But with the others now gone, Leeahn and I were able to spend much of our time together and away from dank dungeons, evil priests and ever-present danger. Our friendship was strengthened a hundredfold during these quieter times, I believe, and when the messenger from the 'Society of the Silver Lute' arrived requesting my permission to stage the play 'The Temple of Elemental Evil: The Second Rising' I was quick to grant it. I was even able to befriend the actor Osric who was playing my part.

    The play itself was a great success. Its historical accuracy was a little dubious, and it was very emotional dredging up many unpleasant memories, but at the same time it was also greatly uplifting. It was a great opportunity to meet with old comrades and among those who attended were the warrior Angriff Vardis and his friend the bard Aril Witherwind. These two men had been at the Temple before me. Angriff was the companion whom my friends had lost the night before my arrival. The two of them had since formed their own adventuring company and were operating out of the Cairn Hills.

    The plucky hobniz Peripim Furfoot also attended with his new wife and they were so impressed by the performance and Two-Ford itself, that they were soon making plans to move permanently into town (to be closer to their renewed fame, Leeahn and I suspected).

    It was after the final night of the play, at a party in Greyhawk City that I stumbled upon my second 'great adventure' - one in which I would meet one of my greatest friends, and one of my worst enemies.

    Bards and historians have come to describe this time as 'The Falcon Saga.' The details are as well known as those of the Temple so I don't feel that it is important to recount all of the details. Suffice it to say that the Spurned Cult of Iuz made such an impact, and so very nearly succeeded in their plans, that the great City of Greyhawk began the evacuation of its citizens.

    This success, I believe was due more to the evil genius of their leading priest Zembak Narsen, than to the Falcon herself. At times I have found myself wondering if Zembak and I are not two sides of the same coin; we are so similar and yet so very different. I first met the priest after a bungled attempt at raiding the cultists' lair.

    The raid was a failure in every way. We had simply not expected the cultists to be so well organised. Only Leeahn and Talasek escaped, Osric, who had accompanied us, was tragically killed, and I myself was taken prisoner. I expected to be killed outright, or at least tortured, but I was treated with every courtesy that a captive knight or priest deserves. In short, I was treated just as I myself would have treated a prisoner in my own dungeons. I discovered that the honours I was accorded, like the uncharacteristic organisation of the cult, was thanks to this priest, Zembak Narsen.

    I must be careful here to make it clear that Zembak was and remains an evil man, a high priest of Iuz, and as such, opposed in every way to my own faith. But he made such a striking contrast to any other priest of Iuz I had ever met, that I was confused as to why he should surround himself with such violent fools.

    I was so touched by this man that some time after my rescue, when the tables were turned and he was my prisoner, I set the man free. By law I should have turned him over to the Greyhawk authorities, his crimes of terror against the city were tremendous, but although Heironeous is the Lord of Justice, I believed Zembak deserved better than the hangman's noose. I talked with him, and in my naiveté I believed the man could be changed. I made him swear to forsake Iuz's church and to make amends for his religious terrorism; my gullibility worked against me (or perhaps I simply wanted to believe he could change). Zembak simply lied and walked free.

    I understand now that my religion is as abhorrent to him as his is to me, and that Zembak was just as likely to cast off his faith as I was mine. Zembak was simply less naïve than I.

    In releasing Zembak, I myself was guilty of treason against Greyhawk City, and crimes against the codes of the Hart, and my faith. But I did not at the time feel as if I had done wrong. I confessed only to Talonkeep's priest, Elmore Flake, and together we prayed; Heironeous it seemed believed my act to be dishonourable and I was forced to spend many many nights in prayerful confession and atonement, seeking my spiritual forgiveness. I still did not mention this to anyone, however, perhaps because I still felt confused (and guilty?). Leeahn was by now too close to me not to realise something had happened, but she was also sensitive enough to my emotions not to comment or press me on what was so clearly a painful test of my faith.

    Other than Zembak, my greatest adversary, I also met Talasek who was to become one of my greatest and most loyal friends. A paladin of St. Cuthbert, Talasek lived in the city, and he was the first person to suspect the cult's existence.

    Another ally of the church of St. Cuthbert was the wizardess, Aurora, who was involved in some research at the Guild of Wizardry at the time. She soon became another of our friends and companions. Leeahn and Aurora became particularly close.

    We also became acquainted with the mage Mizaab, a man who was particularly hard to find. But the reasons for his secrecy shall not be put to paper here, or elsewhere for reasons that are his own and that I must respect lest this journal should fall into unwelcome hands.

    It was whilst on this quest that I first met Greyhawk's Lord-Mage Mordenkainen, although at the time I had no idea who he really was, and I certainly didn't expect him to become involved in - but I am getting ahead of myself.

    The 'Falcon Saga' ended with street parties and festivals and holidays. We were paraded on the streets and showered with gifts from every quarter of the city. At the time this was fantastic: I had dedicated my life to protecting the innocent, and my success could only encourage others to do the same.

    We had little time to rest before the next quest presented itself. Our new friend Aurora had discovered that two elementalists had created elemental nodes, or demi-pockets, and were sending forth creatures that were causing havoc and death. They were doing this for no greater purpose than 'research.' Aurora was travelling to these nodes with the famous Heroes of Furyondy and the mage Leomund. She asked Leeahn and myself if we could accompany them, which we agreed to do.

    The strangest thing about this adventure was our method of transport. We were to travel in Leomund's Hut. A powerful artefact that the wizard had come by, the Hut was much more than it appeared. It was apparently a small wooden shed supported by magical legs that carried it around and was vastly larger inside than out. It soon became apparent, however, that the Hut had more control over Leomund than he did over it. His paranoia increased steadily until finally he fled, believing that we were plotting to take the wretched Hut away from him. I have not seen or heard from Leomund since that day.

    There were some ferocious battles on that mission, notably against a pit fiend and another against three white dragons. The mission was successful though, the nodes were closed and the elementalists were slain. But as is so often the case, it was an empty victory.

    Our comrades Sabai, Arwan and Sharan were all killed. Leeahn had very nearly been killed herself during the battle as she faced off against the mother dragon alone. As I feared that I would lose her, I began to feel much closer to her. I feared what I would do without her, perhaps, I am not sure, that is the moment I fell truly in love with her. But if that was the case then I was frightened to admit it to even myself, or confused, but whatever the case it was then that I went to visit the Lord-Mayor of Greyhawk, Nerof Gasgal.

    I had met the man before, with the culmination of the Falcon saga, but this was the start my official dealings with the man. Leeahn returned immediately home, but I detoured to the city with Aurora so that I might seek an audience with the Lord-Mayor.

    My purpose for the meeting was to help Leeahn. She had been killed and raised enough times to weaken her body to a point where she was too weak to practise her conjuration arts, without great risk to her safety. Conjuration was to her, what paladinhood was to me, and I was prepared to sacrifice my holy avenger to Nerof Gasgal in a trade for a ring of wishes. Such a powerful ring would enable Leeahn to once again practise her art safely, and might go some way to satisfy my feelings towards her.

    Nerof Gasgal was surprised by my offer, but the deal was struck and the trade was made. I also discovered some tragic news. The Lord-Mayor reported to me that whilst we were gone news had reached him that Thoric Ironboot was dead. This left me indefinitely tied to Talonkeep. I was not at the time capable of running the keep alone, and so the Lord-Mayor made me his Governor-Knight.

    This officially removed Thoric's Lordship but as the Keep stood within Greyhawk territory I would govern it for my Lord-Mayor. Although in effect I was to be merely a figure-head, as my seneschal had the skills that I lacked to see to Talonkeep's upkeep, I simply tried to keep money in the coffers.

    Nerof Gasgal informed me that although Thoric Ironboot and Jehnna Windrow were killed. Their mission had been a success, and that my old companions awaited my return at Talonkeep. This news came as a great shock and surprise and I wasted no further time in returning home...

    Note: Greyhawk City, Iuz"
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    Re: The Fall of a Paladin: The Falcon Saga (Score: 1)
    by Entropist ( on Wed, February 06, 2002
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    Great story ... Please keep it going. I want to know why the story says Fallen.

    Re: The Fall of a Paladin: The Falcon Saga (Score: 1)
    by Lennis on Thu, February 07, 2002
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    A great story, as always. I recommend Iuz the Evil to anyone who hasn't read that story yet. Its length is daunting, and a bit confusing at first, but it clears up quickly and you won't be sorry you read it.

    I'm about to start an email campaign based in the City of Greyhawk in which "Man of the Cranes" is the DM. Based on the quality of his stories, I am very excited. And no, he doesn't have any openings left, sorry.

    Re: The Fall of a Paladin: The Falcon Saga (Score: 1)
    by Mort on Mon, February 11, 2002
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    Ian why are you leaving so much out? You have just skipped over most of the gaming we ever did! We all feel its a shame you are not telling it how it was! If the story was told in more depth it would be much better. People would get a feel for the characters and how they realy were! If you carry on like this all the gaming we did will be told in two or three more chapters!! I also would like to say Perry didn't move to Two Ford until all the trouble started and he came to investigate the kidnappings, when Michael got captured by Zembak! Or was it when Scintilla and the rest of the undead returned to clame Talon Keep? Anyway thourght I would let you know sorry I couldn't do it earlier but Ive only just had the chance to read it.

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