Signup
Welcome to... Canonfire! World of GreyhawK
Features
Postcards from the Flanaess
Adventures
in Greyhawk
Cities of
Oerth
Deadly
Denizens
Jason Zavoda Presents
The Gord Novels
Greyhawk Wiki
#greytalk
JOIN THE CHAT
ON DISCORD
    The Fall of a Paladin: Echoes of the Future
    Posted on Tue, April 09, 2002 by Legate
    Man-of-the-Cranes writes "Following the sinister disappearance of his old comrades, Michael Torgrim, Paladin of Heironeous and Hero of Greyhawk City travels to the Great Library seeking help.

    This is the fourth chapter in the ongoing tale of one paladin's fall from grace and is dedicated to the player of the paladin: Matthew Gillies.

    Author: Man-of-the-Cranes



    The Fall of a Paladin
    Chapter Four: Echoes of the Future
    By: Man-of-the-Cranes (manofthecranes@hotmail.com)
    (Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.)

    23 Goodmonth 579CY
    It had been two days since his friends had vanished overnight. It had scared him. They would have been seen if they had simply walked away into the night, even with the fog they had to pass the guards at the gate and none had seen them. They had no wizard amongst them who could have led them away through the corridors of magic. Their beds had not been slept in at the tavern, all of their possessions and any sign of them had simply vanished.

    Michael would not have been so concerned had his friends not been so obviously frightened by their recent experiences. They had not been the people he had once known, they were mere shadows of themselves as if their life had been leeched away by these shadowlands of which he knew nothing. His friends had had a haunted look about them as if they feared that some unfathomable beast was baying closely at their heels.

    Michael had decided to see if he couldn't learn a little more about these 'shadowlands'. He hoped a little knowledge of the world that they had been apparently trapped in might shed a little light on their strange behaviour. He had a few more days, maybe even a week before Leeahn and Aurora would be returning home. So yesterday after he had met with his troops and the castle staff and briefed them on the deaths of their Lord Thoric and on his own new status, he had once again handed over the reins of Talonkeep to Seneschal Morgan and rode north on the familiar journey to Greyhawk City.

    Today was a Sunday, and in the city that meant a busy working day. Michael had arrived mid-afternoon and the lines of travellers, tradesmen, herders and farmers awaiting entrance through the Highway Gate were long and grumpy in the stifling summer heat. Enjoying the afternoon ride and not looking forward to making his way through the crowded traffic in the old city on such a hot day Michael left River Road for one of the smaller trails that skirted to the east of the city through the outlying farms and ranches.

    It really was a pleasant day to ride and Michael was in good spirits as he nodded and greeted the few farmers and peasants he met on this road. He had chosen not to wear his armour or to carry his shield and was dressed simply in his elegant yet comfortable riding clothes with a plain sword swinging from his saddle. Ever since the Falcon saga Michael had found it easier if he travelled anonymously whenever he had reason to visit the city. His newly found fame was a great honour, but at times it could be a worse hindrance. He was uncomfortable with the recognition and found that being accosted in the streets and invited into every peasant's home to meet his daughter or family a little stifling.

    The road soon joined the Ery Trail near the ancient druid stones and took Michael to one of the quietest and least used gates into the city. Michael waited patiently as a group of dwur from the nearby mining town at Greysmere were checked over by the guards on the gate.

    One of the sentries recognised Michael as he was waiting and waved him through with a quick salute. Michael smiled to himself as he passed beneath the gatehouse without even being asked to initial the register. The guards of the Druid Gate were notably lax.

    Once he had passed beneath the city wall, Michael began to make his way through the quietly busy streets of the city. The homes and businesses here were small and built close together, but this was a respectable and hard-working neighbourhood and Michael kept to these quieter and cleaner streets, following Craftman's Way to avoid getting caught up in the market day traffic and the hectic chaos of the Processional.

    Although Michael had never lived in the great city, he had often frequented it over the last year or so and knew his way around well enough, he had only to stop and politely inquire for directions once before he saw the unmistakable landmark he was searching for. The University of Magical Arts was certainly an impressive building, a three-sided pyramid reaching almost a hundred feet into the air, it dominated the local skyline.

    Once he had reached the University he turned to follow College Road and then University Street, crossing Millstream on the busy Processional's Midbridge. He loved the city but the crowded Processional that was the city's main artery and thoroughfare never failed to unnerve him and here between the Foreign Quarter and Clerkburg districts on a Sunday afternoon it could not have been any busier. Michael was forced to dismount in order to push his way through the crowds. But once he had crossed the bridge he had reached his destination, he stabled his mount at the Silver Dragon Inn and once more braved the traffic to cross the wide road to the city's library.

    The granite façade of the Great Library that faced onto the Processional was very grand. Low, wide steps flanked by a great many statues of past scholars, bookish gods and the city's founding fathers led up to the many-columned frontage of the building. A few students occupied the steps, where they sat reading papers or discussing their lectures whilst munching on packed sandwiches. A pair of artists had positioned their easels on the steps and were carefully sketching the famous Great Library of Greyhawk City, and a grubby looking youth touting as a tour guide was lecturing a family of noniz on the building's history.

    Michael climbed the steps and entered the old building. It was much cooler inside, and much less grand than the face it presented to its public. A heavy, almost oppressive silence fell upon him as he crossed the entrance foyer. Michael stood for a moment examining the hall. The library was divided into six separate wings, each wing led off from the foyer through a great stone archway. Engraved in the lintels of the archways Michael read History, Geography, Artistic Studies, Poetry and Literature, Science and Engineering, and the rather unhelpfully vague General.

    Michael felt a little lost, as busy and dusty people bustled around him. He decided to ask for some assistance. He cast around trying to determine somebody of authority. He spotted a tall and skinny man, with an unkempt mop of dark reddish hair and half-moon spectacles perched on a sharply pointed nose. Strangely five stones of varying colours, shapes, and size were orbiting this man's head at various speeds as he appeared to be sending the other scholars on various errands, unconcerned with the magical rocks buzzing around him.

    "Good afternoon Honourable Master," Michael called out respectfully, with a warm smile.

    "Oh my, no blades within the library! Sir you will have to surrender your sword to me immediately." The elderly man looked shocked as he turned about.

    "My apologies," Michael was a little taken aback, he had seen the notice on the door as he entered but usually a paladin of his status was exempted from such rules as a knight of honour. But then he was incognito. He unbuckled his sword belt and handed over the weapon. The old man took it and very delicately laid it upon the desk by the entrance.

    "You may collect it as you leave."

    Michael nodded, "Allow me to introduce myself, I am Governor-Knight Michael Torgrim of Talonkeep." He couldn't help but take a little satisfaction as the librarian's eyebrows disappeared into his fringe. "I was wondering if you might be able to help me."

    "My lord, it is I who should apologise," the old scholar reached back for the sword, but he left it on the desk when Michael shook his head. "I am Iquander, Chief Administrator and Researcher here at the Great Library. How may I assist you Lord?"

    Michael shook Iquander's offered hand noticing how dry and brittle the man's skin felt, like ancient parchment.

    "I am curious to know if you have any texts pertaining to another plane of existence. I do not know what esteemed scholars may have named this plane, I have only heard it referred to as the darklands or the shadowlands."

    Iquander frowned, "does this world lie within the inner, outer, or elemental spheres of existence? Or perhaps it is a prime world?"

    Michael gave a little smile and shrugged, "I am sorry but your knowledge supersedes my own already. I do not know. I have never even heard those terms. By all accounts it is very similar to our own world in appearance, but one in which darkness and evil rules. It is a land that perverts the magic of wizards and prevents the prayers of good priests from being heard. I believe that once there it is very difficult to return to the Oerth."

    "Very puzzling," Iquander was frowning. "I have certainly never heard of any such realm, but if you would like to accompany me into the vaults we can consult the codex and several other tomes."

    "I would appreciate that very much."

    Michael followed the ancient librarian beneath the centre archway, engraved into the stone lintel was 'Artistic Studies'. The corridor beyond was wide, cool and dry. Their passage was lit at regular intervals by musical instruments, paintbrushes or sculptors tools mounted on the walls and enchanted to shed a soft white light. At the end of the corridor a large hall opened up, stacks of wooden shelves reached twenty or thirty feet into the air, filled with a great many volumes and works many of which were only accessible by the rolling ladders situated among the shelves. Although Michael did spot one man levitating among the higher shelves, pulling himself gently along the bookcases as a bright yellow songbird fluttered along chirping behind him.

    Iqaunder led Michael through the warren of maze-like stacks humming softly to himself, his enchanted stones buzzing silently along behind him until they reached the back of the room. Iquander glanced around to confirm they were indeed alone before pulling a chain from around his neck, it appeared to be a holy symbol although Michael didn't recognise the design, which had looked similiar to a white book.

    Iquander slotted the symbol between two shelves and a section of bookcase swung inwards to reveal a flight of stairs. Michael stepped through onto the stairs and waited as Iquander fastened the concealed door behind them, the staircase was illuminated by several glowing wands mounted on the walls and descended a short distance to a narrow hallway. A heavy iron door stood at the end of this hallway but it stood open. As they entered the room beyond Michael noticed that the door was engraved not only with the symbol Iquander wore around his neck but also that of Boccob, God of Arcane Knowledge. Michael didn't doubt that when closed this door would present a formidable obstacle.

    The room beyond was a busy stone walled basement vault. Several bookcases dominated the walls, other books, many obviously ancient were locked away in cabinets and cupboards. Several scribes sat at a large table in the centre of the room busily researching or re-copying valuable texts.

    "Of course," said Iquander, "here at the Great Library we have the largest collection of books and scrolls anywhere on the continent, if the world you seek has been documented at all, chances are we have the records. We have volumes and records of nearly every topic imaginable and many more besides. Finding them, well, therein lies the task…"

    The old man pulled several tomes and scrolls from various shelves and sat down at the table to read them, his stones finally managing to take up their contented stationary orbits once again.
    Michael sat down beside him, glancing around at the other scribes.

    A book caught his eye, 'Enemies of the Old One' by Gwydesion.

    The scribe who had been reading this had just pushed it to one side and was now consulting a series of old maps. Michael glanced at Iquander, but he was deeply enthralled in the books he had selected.

    "Excuse me, sir, may I?" Michael enquired of the scribe opposite, indicating the book.

    The man appeared irritated at having been disturbed and nodded, grumbling. Michael slid the book across the table and examined it. The cover was a dark brown leather adorned with the unholy skull that represented Iuz's foul religion. Strangely the symbol had been split down the middle as if torn and arising from the tear in the black skull was a bright golden 'J' elaborately designed and glowing like a new dawn. Puzzling at this unusual design Michael opened to the first page.

    "Welcome Friend,

    "It is I, putting words to ink once again. I have recently learned the distressing news that the cambion warlord known in the north as IUZ has escaped his detention from beneath Castle Greyhawk. I am cursed with the misfortune to know that this cambion represents the greatest threat to the stability of the Flanaess, indeed the Oerth, that this generation has yet known. Therefore I am penning this volume documenting all of those who are declared enemies of IUZ in the hope that this generation may learn a little from those who have gone before them.

    "Do with this information what you will, my friend. But do NOT be complacent, do NOT bow to others, do NOT falter, do NOT EVER give up. Be fearful, yes, but Make a Stand.

    "From my quill to you…"

    A shudder passed through Michael, he stared down at the book, realising he was breathing hard and his heart beat was thumping. He had heard the voice, imagined he had heard the voice of the author, this Gwydesion, speaking in his head, almost as if he had written those words for him personally. And the voice had sounded familiar, he couldn't place it, but he was positive he knew that voice - it sounded older, wiser perhaps - but he knew that man's voice. Shaking his head he looked back down,

    "The forces that have long opposed this northern warlord include most notably ST. CUTHBERT of the CUDGEL and ZAGYG, the EYE of BOCCOB.
    The CHURCH of the CUDGEL is of course devoted primarily to LAW and secondly to GOOD. They oppose CHAOS and EVIL sternly with no quarter or compromise permitted. The folk of the church are stout, stern, no-nonsense fellows (much like their lord) and are diametrically opposed to IUZ. But their lord, ST CUTHBERT may indeed have more personal reasons for his unswerving hatred of IUZ. It may be that the omnipotent powers of the deific have granted him the dread foreknowledge that I am unlucky enough to share or it may have more to do with the fact that ST CUTHBERT'S avatar was imprisoned at the same time as IUZ himself."

    Michael knew that the author was correct here. He was well aware of St. Cuthbert's long standing animosity towards Iuz. The god had sent an avatar into the Temple to defend his companions when Iuz rose to attack them, and then he had used his divine powers to raise all of their slain companions restoring them to life, himself included.

    "ZAGYG, the MAD ARCHMAGE, GOD of the OCCULT and SERVANT TO BOCCOB was once a mortal man. Cousin to the great mage Mordenkainen, he rose to godhood only after imprisoning IUZ and many others and draining their power in ways that should have remained impossible. It is no surprise that IUZ should hate ZAGYG so intensely. The madman's attack represented IUZ'S only ever defeat, and he was imprisoned for sixty-five years.

    "But other lesser knowns have long been enemies of the cambion. The four companions HEWARD, MURLYND, KEOGHTEM, and KELANON all allied themselves together under ZAGIG'S leadership to help capture IUZ. These four great men's motives may have been unknown but the legendary status they have achieved since is not. Each of these four individuals may now be gods themselves, quasi- or hero-deities, the terms vary and my fellow scholars disagree, but they are certainly all worshipped to some varying degree. KELANON even having some few priests.

    "MORDENKAINEN'S own brother HEWARD, is a powerful sorcerer (in the old sense of the word too, not like his brother who though powerful is still only a mage) and bard and he still lives in the Flanaess, making his home in the Yatil Mountains. He is a powerful plane-walker indeed his stronghold is tethered to many worlds beyond simply this one. He is rumoured to practise a form of magic unknown elsewhere on Oerth that he calls technocrancy. He has various shrines dedicated to him in Ket and the Perrenlands and across Ekbir.

    "MURLYND, is a wizard and paladin of BOCCOB. As my quill makes its way across this page, he is believed to be very closely watching the faithful of HEXTOR that have arisen to rule within the Great Kingdom. MURLYND may well be doing this as a service to his friend and some-time companion HEIRONEOUS, although he is a strange fellow of a rugged nature, and although kind and caring it is often difficult to garner his true motives and thoughts. Although he doesn't practise technocrancy he is known to possess several such artefacts crafted by his friend HEWARD. He is said to be worshipped by a tribe in the Sea of Dust although why this should be escapes me entirely.

    "KEOGHTEM is, like HEWARD, a sorcerer and a bard and also an experienced plane-walker, it has even been said (by idiots and elves) that he knows all of the planes! And has since left this world to make his home in the astral. He often plays host to various gods in his new astral stronghold, particularly of the elven pantheon of whom he is an especial friend. Shrines dedicated to KEOGHTEM can be found in the far north, among the trackless Burneal Forest and in Blackmoor.

    "The last of this powerful group is the warrior KELANON also known as the PRINCE of SWORDS. He is the most powerful of them all and may even be a true demi-god. It is said that he has no true friends other than his living blades. He is actively worshipped by the Frost and Ice Barbarians and the people of the Lands of Wolf and Tiger Nomads. He is the only one of these four known to have actual priests although these are few and far between. It is of course well known for mercenaries and warriors all over the world who live and die by the sword to offer up a swift prayer to KELANON before entering into battle (I know I did myself many times).

    "But IUZ has many mortal enemies too, dating back to the time of his imprisonment and including those who affected his release whilst trying to slay him in captivity. HIGH PRIEST RIGGBY of BOCCOB, the ARCH-MAGI BIGBY and TENSER, and the powerful WARRIORS NEB RETNAR, LORD ROBILAR and QUIJ."

    Michael looked up, interrupted from his study, aware that Iquander had spoken.

    "I said, I am sorry, but I have to admit defeat. I can find no mention of any world here that seems to fit with your criteria." Iquander repeated. "Did you have any more luck?"

    "No. Or at least not in those regards. But I did find something, that I, or perhaps others, may one day find very useful. Would I be able to loan this book for a few days?"

    "Well, we do not usually loan out books from the vault, but I am well aware of the great service that you did for this city and the personal interest that I can imagine you must have in this book." Iquander had lifted it and read the spine.

    "I would of course be willing to make a sizeable donation for your kindness," Michael said.

    Iquander sniffed and then smiled, passing him the book.

    "Of course, I trust you not to damage the book or to crease the spine. Return it when you are finished. Perhaps one day a hero such as yourself may be able to plot an end to the Old One once and for all."

    Michael was lost in thought as the old librarian led him back up the hidden stair and through to the entrance. He couldn't shake the feeling of having been watched as he read, or forget that voice he had heard, or had thought he had heard. Had that message been meant for him? Was this his destiny, to go up in battle against the forces of the Old One and one day to defeat his evil?
    He couldn't help but shudder and feel wholly inadequate at the enormity of such a task.
    "
     
    Related Links
    · More about Stories & Fiction
    · News by Legate


    Most read story about Stories & Fiction:

    The Silver Wolf-For Crown Or Country: Burning Man

    Article Rating
    Average Score: 3.57
    Votes: 7


    Please take a second and vote for this article:

    Excellent
    Very Good
    Good
    Regular
    Bad

    Options

     Printer Friendly Printer Friendly

    The comments are owned by the poster. We aren't responsible for their content.

    No Comments Allowed for Anonymous, please register

    Re: The Fall of a Paladin: Echoes of the Future (Score: 1)
    by Longetalos on Tue, April 16, 2002
    (User Info | Send a Message | Journal)
    I notice you do not play your paladins as cavaliers. No cavalier would be caught not wearing his armor or going incongnito.

    As a second comment, I always thought it was spelled Kelanen not Kelanon.

    Richard D.




    Canonfire! is a production of the Thursday Group in assocation with GREYtalk and Canonfire! Enterprises

    Contact the Webmaster.  Long Live Spidasa!


    Greyhawk Gothic Font by Darlene Pekul is used under the Creative Commons License.

    PHP-Nuke Copyright © 2005 by Francisco Burzi. This is free software, and you may redistribute it under the GPL. PHP-Nuke comes with absolutely no warranty, for details, see the license.
    Page Generation: 0.33 Seconds