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Falling Down : An Archer's Tale


A short story of an archer that would be a knight, and doesn't make it. He has to come home and face his family, as well as himself. Set in the Dungeon and Dragons world of Greyhawk,.

Paul DeJager
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

Fallen – A Dungeon and Dragons Tale.

A short story set in the World of Grey Hawk.

Temple of Pelor - Three years ago.

On the World of Greyhawk, on Oerth there was the Draconic Imperium of Lynn, there was of Imperial city of Iron Gate.

Like many cities of the realm, there were temples to various gods. Many Dwarven gods had their temples and shrines below the city, while men built theirs above. One of the more noted and popular faiths was the Temple of Pelor, the god of the Sun. Pelor could be described as a champion the cause of good with his holy symbol of a stylized sun set in a blue background.

The Temple of Pelor while popular with the common fold and the farmers of the area, sat in what we could term religion row, with several other shines and small templed to various deities. A man of his mid-thirties and dark olive skin, Vicar Artis sat in his office in the north tower, as Sir Oswyn knocked on the door.

Artis was like all priests, always looking recruiting from among the faithful and always working to advance his god’s commandments. While the priesthood was strong and had many candidates from among the faithful, the church needed warriors to embark on holy crusades in the faith’s name.

This was the Order of the Pelorian Crusaders. They were Paladins and knights of the faith and were granted special abilities to further the cause of righteousness. Unfortunately, the war with the Scarlet Brotherhood, a malign band of monks that ruled to the south, and the series of Orc Wars raiding the lands had taken their toll on the Order, as many of the members had died valiantly in the fighting.

The brotherhood of Pelorian cardinals had tasked Vicar Artis with attempting to rectify this nearly a decade ago. Tonight, Artis would find out how successful the first class of novices would be.

Oswyn was the ranking commander of the Crusaders, he was long past his prime, and without a wife and children, the church had become his passion. His goal was to train the next generation of Crusaders.

A knock on the heavy oak door announced to the vicar that his first and major appointment of the day was about to start.
“Morning Oswyn.” The old priest said greeting the grizzled veteran as the old campaigner entered the room and sat down across the Vicar that ran the temple.

Sir Oswyn was the commander of the detachments of the Crusaders in this region. His command while important to aid the local government and citizens of Iron Gate, its primary mission to train the young novices that had entered the church to be Crusaders.

As was custom, Oswyn simply wore simple trousers and a tunic within the temple as he dreaded wearing the heavy armor unless he was on the practice yard. Where Artis wore simple wool robes identical to every other priest save for the yellow sash that designated his rank in the order.

Seven years, Oswyn and Artis had trained this batch of novices in combat, swordsmanship, horsemanship, as well as the basics of church law. While there were some missteps, and several novices had washed out, the final evaluation was complete.

The pair of men sat across from each other for a moment. The Vicar genuinely loathed Sir Oswyn personally since he himself was once a novice under the knight’s tutelage and came up short. Now, twenty years later they were forced to work together again. They were both professionals and had to make the best of the situation.
“What’s the verdict?” the Vicar asked the old Paladin.

“Not good.” Oswyn answered getting comfortable for this meeting as he knew it wasn’t going to go well.
“I had hoped to have at least five viable candidates for the Crusaders, to be further trained by myself in Church doctrine.” Artis admitted.
“We had one pass.” Oswyn satated flatly.

“Out of twenty-six carefully selected candidates from the faithful, ONLY one of them passed?” Artis said surprised.

“One.” Oswyn repeated. “If you want warriors for the church, I’ve trained a full company of men over the years. There’s a good twenty-two that I would be proud to put into the ranks of the Iron Guards, or any milirary unit. But as you yourself knows… it takes something special to become a Crusader. Most of these children just don’t have it.” The old knight explained.

Artis glared at the old knight. Twenty years ago, Oswyn personally released him himself from his novice training at the end of his two years as he just didn’t make the cut to join the Crusaders. Just like these twenty-two young men and women.

The Pelorian Vicar took a second to compose himself.
“That is unfortunate.” Artis said sadly.
“Do you want me to break this to them? Or do you want to do it?” Oswyn asked before getting up to leave.
“They are your kids. You should do it. Be nicer about it than you were with me.”
Oswyn rolled his eyes. “Yes, your grace.”

The old knight walked to the stairs towards the practice yard. It was time to teach his kids their last lesson they would likely to learn from him: Life was not fair.


Outside the Temple of Pelor, a few hours later.

Brin Fletcherson was a young Oeridians man nearly seventeen. In the city of Iron Gate, most humans were of Oeridians stock with olive skin and black hair.

He gathered his things as he left the temple. The church let him keep his studded leather armor, and his sword. The truth was his father gave those to him, who dreamed of his son becoming a crusader and a knight for the church. But that wouldn’t stop the Crusader’s quartermaster from trying to assume those items for the next class of would be knights.
Like all novices, he had till the end of the day to leave. He looked at the training yard for the last time before turning to leave. Now he had to tell his family that he had failed.

The young warrior threw on his grew wool cloak and walked out to into the city. He looked to see some of his former novices leave. No one said anything to each other. There was no point. They all were now released from their duties and had to leave the temple. He walked to the artisan district where he saw the streets and people that he had known as a child.

As he was walking an attractive young lady with dark brown skin and black hair passed him.
“Brin? Is that you?” She said stopping to meet him as he passed.
Brin smiled. “Do I know you?” He asked the woman. He noted that she was also of Oeridian stock with black hair and olive skin. There was something familiar about her.
“Mara, the tanner’s daughter.” She said introducing herself.
Brin grinned as he recognized the name and face now. It had been seven years since he had seen her when they were ten years old.
“Mara! How are you? You have grown.” Brin said greeting his childhood friend.
“So have you… you. I thought you were to be a priest or a knight.” The olive-skinned woman said still surprised to see him.
“It didn’t work out. I just left the temple today.” Brin admitted with a little embarrassment.
She smiled. “Good.”
“Good?!” Brin exclaimed.
“Crusaders get killed. Priest die alone as old men. You deserve a family like your brother has.” She said.
Brin groaned. That was the part he wasn’t looking forward to. Dealing with his older brother.
“I’ve got to get to work; my husband is waiting on me.” She blurted. “Please come by the Golden Dragon later tonight. You can meet Joseph, my husband.”

Brin smiled. He knew that name as he used to run to that pub to bring a pot of stew from the old man Raffen who ran the Golden Dragon pub where Brin would bring large bowl of stew home as his father was a lousy cook.

Brin walked to his father’s old shop. Inside, there was a woman, obviously a few years older than him at the counter. She had olive skin and midnight black hair like most humans of the area. He didn’t recognize her, but he guessed who she was.
He smiled as this must be Sarry, his sister-in-law. As he looked around. Brin was lost himself in memories for a second. Everything was almost as he remembered it.
“Can I help you?” Sarry asked politely.
“Yes. I am looking for my brother Vyncent.“
“Brin?” She said looking at him. “I am Sarry. I am pleased to meet you.”
Brin smiled politely. “I guess it’s been a while.” He admitted.
“Sir Oswyn of the Pelorian Crusaders sent word that you were leaving the order last week. We were told they released you from your training and to expect you.” Surry said

That surprised him, but after seven years of training, the old knight knew his charges. And knew the ones that wouldn’t make the cut. He could say many vile things about that old man, but ultimately, he knew that Oswyn was just doing his job.

“I guess you heard about it before I did this morning.” Brin said sourly.
“Are you Ok?” She asked concerned.
Brin looked around the shop… and to the familiar sounds from outside. “Oh, I am fine.”
“Vyncent and I would be delighted if you’d stay.”
Brin chuckled at that. “I can stay at the Golden Dragon.”
“I won’t hear of it. This is your home too, and it always will be.” Sarry insisted.
Brin looked around… “I hope the spare bedroom hasn’t been converted to storage for fletching supplies.”
Sarry genuinely laughed at that. “Does this place look so different?”

Brin looked at the old iron sundial that was in the corner, that he had played with as a child. “No, it looks exactly the same. Everything is exactly as I remember it.”
“Vyncent has worked hard to keep it that way after the old man died. It was important to your father.” Sarry said.
“Where is Vyncent?”
“In the back, working on a new bow for a customer.”
“I’ll drop off my things and see him.”

Brin dropped off his scant belongings in the spare bedroom. It was the same room; he shared with his brother as they were kids. Brink looked at the wall to see the impression that he made when Vyncent slammed him into the plaster wall when they were fighting, which they did so often.

He stepped out to the back area to the old workshop and a green space that they used to practice with the bows before turning over the customers.

There was Vyncent, setting a bow made of sinew, wood and ivory in the forms. He was doing the same thing seven years ago when the priesthood came to him up so many years ago.

Vyncent was in his early twenties now. He had the same eyes, and hair was a little longer than was the fashion. They were both no longer children.
“So you’ve finally decided to show your face. Welcome home Brin.” Vyncent said to his brother.
“Hello Vyncent.” Brain said greeting his brother.
“So did you take a caravan from the Iron Hills where you were training?” Vyncent replied while continuing to work on the bow.
“I was here in town, and I walked.” Brin answered.
Vyncent grunted in acknowledgement without looking up.
“I met Mara on the way in. She’s married now.” Brin said changing the subject.
“Joseph. He’s a tanner. He apprenticed at her father’s shop until he made enough to buy and marry her. He’s a good man.” Vyncent said with approval as he tightened down a brace for the bow he was working on.
“Good for her.” Brin calmly.
“You know where everything is. We’re heading over to the Golden Dragon to meet with our neighbors at eight.” Vincent said locking down the last of the braces to hold the bow into shape as the glue dried.
“I have to finish this other bow before the watch commander shows up for his bow.” Vyncent said to Brin before getting back to work.
It had annoyed Brin as his brother, while polite, never stood to face him the entire time.
“I’ll be there.” Brin said turning to leave. He would not give Vyncent the reaction he wanted.

The Golden Dragon Inn.

Brin walked into the pub. It had changed little. A short halfling was tending to the bar. Brin walked up to the bar, there was plenty of sell swords here and workmen as he remembered. This place didn’t change much.
“What will you have?” the Halfling said at the bar.
“Ale.” Brin ordered.
“Coming up.” The halfling said and turned to pour a warm draft of ale.
He took a drink of ale…. And he smiled. At the temple, novices were forbidden to drink any alcohol save for the sacramental wine and holidays. However, there was a few times, he sneaked in a pint or two into his barracks.
He had missed this. As he savoured his ale someone spoke to him. This was proof in Brin’s mind, that there were gods looking down looking over Iron Gate, and they wanted us to be happy.
“I wish Joseph looked at me like you are looking at that ale.” Mara said walking up to him.
“Mara!” Brin said greeting his friend.
“We’ve got a table. Vyncent and Surry should be here shortly.” She explained pointing to a table.

Brin followed his childhood friend to a table. There was a large bald Flan man with bronze skin wearing linen shirt and trousers. It amazed Brin as this man was a nearly giant towering over everyone.
“You must be Joseph.” Brin said greeting Mara’s husband.
“You must be Brin. The Boyer that would be a Crusader.” Joesph answered.
“Word gets around fast.” Brin said sourly.
“They’re an honorable sort. But again, what use does the common man have for the nobles anyway?” Joseph pointed out.

Almost on queue and in chorus, the trio repeated the old complaint that they had head since childhood.
“Rich men’s wars. And poor men’s fight.” Brin, Mara and Joseph said in chorus.

There were several nods and grunts in agreement from several other patrons that overheard them. It was said that rich men and nobles made war, and the poor men had to pay for it in taxes and their lives fighting wars that they had no say or control over. It was that way with things during the wars with Scarlet Brotherhood, and while technically at peace, things looked that way again with the invading Orc tribes uniting against Iron Gate City.

Brin laughed with a sense of irony… it so much was the same as he remembered but now they were no longer children watching.
“We landed the contract with the City Guards again; we will have more orders than we can fulfil.” Mara said happily.
“My wife will tell that story to anyone that will listen.” Joseph said to Brin.

Several more rounds of ale were drinking quick succession, and the trio were enjoying the evening.
“There’s my brother-in-law.” A woman said coming up from behind a few minutes later. Brin turned to see his brother, Vyncent and Surry behind them at the pub table.

Surry greeted Mara with a hug. Brin looked around. Marie had a covered dish of some beef that smelled heavenly.
“Leave it to my brother to find the best cook in town, and to marry her.” Brin said jovially trying to break the ice with Vyncent.
“The ale must be getting to you; you’ve gotten soft on the sacramental wine.” Vyncent said greeting Brin and admonishing him at the same time.

The Bowyer turned to Joseph. “You’re looking good, Joseph.” He said to the tanner, changing to a much more relaxed and friendlier tone. Brin let that pass. Just enjoy the evening and get through it he said to himself.

One of the serving maids smiled at Brin as she passed by. She was walking with a strut that challenged every man in the room. Brin turned red and smiled back. Her dress was low cut revealing her ample cleavage, and she had long lovely legs.

“Mara, Who’s the new guy?” She asked as she passed.

“That’s Brin… Vyncent’s brother.” Mara said to the barmaid. “Movi, Meet Brin. You’d like him.”

The barmaid walked up to say “Hello. I am Movi.”

Suddenly things weren’t as bad as he expected.
The Next Day
The Archery Shop and Vyncent Residence.

Brim was sitting the parlour drinking from a cask of ale that he purchased from the Halfling at the Gold Dragon last night. They called it “One Eyed Brew” as the halfling claimed he learned it from old Cyclops that spoke common.

He doubted the story was true. He didn’t care. His head was aching and awoke with stocking from some woman he must have slept overnight. He wanted more ale to make the pounding in his head go away.

Brin was happy and sad about realizing his first time with a woman was last night… he had always believed his first love would be a proper lady after he earned his title. Not a drunken roll in the way with a tavern wench. He wished even more he remembered better. Will there be consequences? He just didn’t know.
“Brin, It seem to have made a discovery. The Merchant’s Guild needs competent warriors. Vicar Artis recommended you for the job.” Surry said entering the room with a letter in her hands.

Brin looked up with a questioning look, wondering what was going on.
“Didn’t you read this?” She asked.

Brin held his head down. “I don’t know how to read. Number I get, and names, but read a book or a letter, I am lost.” he answered with a little embarrassment.
Surry looked at him sadly. “Sorry. I didn’t know. Vyncent didn’t know how to read either till I taught him.”
“Crusaders are to be devout and brave. Intelligence wasn’t required. At least I have something I suppose for work.” Brin said idly.
“It will be wonderful to have to you home. Maybe you and Vyncent might even get to like each other.”
Brin rolled his eyes at his sister-in-law.
“Give it some time.” She added.
“I already like his choice in wives. You’ve made me feel like a part of the family.” Brin said to Surry.
“You ARE a part of this family.” Surry said a little more forcefully.
“Thanks Surry.”
“You’re welcome.” Surry answered.
“Where’s Vyncent?” Brin asked/

“He’s doing the same thing you’re doing… just in the workshop. I’m going out to the market.”
“I suppose I’ve put this off long enough.” Brin said picking up the cask of ale and his nearly empty tankard.

Brin walked out to the workshop where Vyncent was sitting in the back of the shop with a bottle of spirits in his hand.
“This place never changes.” Brin said matter-of-fact tone of voice, he looked at the window that had the same crack in it since they were five and nearly broke it fighting.

Vyncent poured himself a drink and then pulled down another glass. He set it down in front of Brin.

Brin poured himself a shot and downed it in a single gulp. The cinimon flavoured liquid burned as it went down his throat.
“Careful. You can’t handle that.” Vyncent warned.
“Is that so?” Brin replied to his brother and poured himself another shot.
He downed a second shot.
“Some cheap ale last night is one thing brother; this will leave you out of control.” Vyncent warned him again.
Brin snorted in defiance and poured himself another drink.
“That’s something I would like to see. The holier than thou, mister better than us, loose control.” Vyncent admitted.
“You’re drunk.” Brin accused his brother.
“Of course I am.” Vyncent admitted taking a shot for himself. “Mind if I ask you something?” the bowyer asked Brin.
“Is this brotherly concern?” Brin asked.
“No, Curiosity.” Vyncent calmly.
“You were right on the other side of town, and you didn’t come home to see us? Father wanted to see you before he passed. No one hears anything from you for years.”
“I couldn’t leave for the longest time. The church wouldn’t let me. The order was more important than anything else.”
“You aren’t not so cocky like I saw you on the practice yard last week.”
“You saw me?” Brin said, surprised.
“You’re my brother. Of course, I will find you. You look at this as a humiliation, Don’t you? All those years of work to be something you will never be. And for what? Humiliation for not making the cut.” Vyncent said pressing the truth.
Brin said nothing. He knew Vyncent was right.
“I always thought you needed a little humiliation. Or was it humility? Either would do.”

Brin got up the worktable and walked towards the door. He was seething… it was the same thing all over again. Now as an adult, Vyncent was still pushing him around.
“Why do you walk away? - That isn’t your style.” Vyncent said stepping in front of Brin.
“I’m tired of fighting you.” Brin said calmly trying to push past Vyncent.
“Tired? You? The knight that never quits or gives up?” Vyncent accused.
“Yes. Tired. And I am not a knight, I found that out the hard way yesterday.”
Vyncent stepped in front of the door. “The great crusader that failed in his holy mission before he even started. That isn’t the brother I remember. You wanted to be the local boy that did good. You wanted to be the hero of the day.” Vyncent taunted him again.
“I’m no hero.” Brin said trying to get pass Vyncent to the door.
“Of course, you are. You’ve never settled for less. Now you will have to. You aren’t as good as that other novice that is probably being knighted right now.”
Brin finally realized something. Jealousy. Vyncent was right. Brin was jealous as hell about not making the even the lowest ranks among the Crusaders. And Vyncent was jealous of him.
“Are you jealous of me?” Brin asked his brother.
“Yes, damn it! I was always so jealous, and l had a right to be!” Vyncent said angrily.

“A right?” Brin asked not understanding.

“I was always your brother, watching you get the opportunities I never had! When we were kids, you got away with everything. And father loved you for it.” Vyncent accused now almost at a shout.
“You could have joined me in sneaking out with Mara and her brother as kids.” Brin pointed out.
“No, I couldn’t I had to be the responsible one! It was my job to look after you.” Vyncent said now almost screaming. It was clear Vyncent had been stewing over this since they were children.
“Ha! You were a bully.” Brin shot back.
“Yes. I was.” Vyncent said thoughtfully. “Sometimes I even enjoyed it.” Vyncent with an evil grin.
“Try it now.” Brin dared his brother.
“Why did you come back? Did you come back to have me look after you again?” Vyncent taunted his brother.
“Damn you!” Brin said punching Vyncent as hard as he could causing him to crash though the door, into the backyard that was also used as an archery range.
Vyncent fell to the ground, but Brin was just getting started. Years of rage and frustration were coming out, as Brin was swinging at his brother’s face. Vyncent was fighting back as good as he gave and kicked Brin’s legs out from under him in the same leg sweep that he had used on him since they were kids.
Finally, the fight had devolved to wrestling, and as the pair had realized they were in Surry’s flower garden and they were rolling in mud.
Brin and Vyncent looked at each other and realized the absurdity of the situation and laughed.
Vyncent threw a handful of mud at Brin, and Brin playfully threw a handful of mud back hitting him in the face.
“You finally pushed me to this.” Brin accused Vyncent while still laughing.
“Yes, but you needed it. You’ve been hard on yourself.” Vyncent said smiling.
“All those years wasted. I never even said goodbye to father. The church took everything I was. And I let them.” Brin admitted.
“So my little brother is just a man. You will have to live with this.” Vyncent said seriously.
Brin sat there in the mud looking at his brother.
“Either here in Iron Gate, or somewhere else. You will have to move on.” Vyncent said advised.
“I think you were right. I guess I came home so you could help me.” Brin finally admitted.
“You know what Brin? I still don’t like you!” Vyncent said laughing throwing another handful of mud at Brin.
Surry came out to see her now ruined garden and with an amused face seeing Brin and Vyncent in the mud.
“My flowers! What the hell have you been doing?!?” She demanded of the pair of drunk brothers.
“It was my fault, Surry.” Brin said.
“I fell down through the door.” Vyncent said covering up for his brother like they were children.
“Have you two been fighting?” Surry asked with a mock expression of anger.
“Possibly.” Vyncent said.
“We are having a difference of opinion.” Brin said coming just short of a lie.
“What would your father say if he saw you like this?” Surry pointed out.
“Probably wonder what took us so long to get this out of our systems.” Vyncent said to his wife.
“Shame on you both. Now get cleaned up for supper.” Surry ordered the pair of brothers. As Brin looked at Surry it was clear she was supressing a smile, and she giggled the entire way back into the house.
The drunken pair staggered to get out of the mud… and in a quarter of an hour they did.

Day Three.

The Archery Shop and Vyncent Residence

Brin tossed threw on his studded leather armor and was putting on his sword over his back sheathe. His head hurt, and his jaw was sore as hell. Vyncent came down to greet him.

Vyncent was sporting a black eye, and moved slowly as he was clear he was hungover as well.

“Taking that job as a caravan guard?” Vyncent asked looking more than a little relieved. Maybe in time they would work things out, but both of them knew Brin had to find his own way.

“I need the work, and to be fair we’d probably drive each other crazy.”

“True enough. I have something for you.” Vyncent said waling over to the wall.

“What’s that?” Brin asked.

Vyncent reached up off the wall, to pull down a bow. It looked familiar but at the same time not.

“Father’s old bow.” Vyncent said passing the bow to his brother.

“It was broken.” Brin said looking at the bow. He couldn’t’ believe it… it was his father’s hunting how that he used to hunt game to feed the family with during the slow winter seasons, when coin was hard to come by, and everyone had a powerful need to eat.

As he looked at the bow, he realized it wasn’t truly the same now. Bits of Ivory and bone had been worked into wood where it had snapped after years of not being maintained. It was his father’s bow, but at the same time, it was different bow.

“You shouldn’t have.” Brin said hefting the bow. The grip was right, and it bent perfectly as he strung the bow with a string made from hemp.

“I make bows and arrows. While you were always were a mediocre bowyer, you were a far better shot than I am. You’ll be a walking advertisement for me.”

“Always angle with you.” Brin said cutting though his brother’s lie.

“Always. I still don’t like you though.” Vyncent said with a grin.

“That’s because he never could say he actually loves his brother.” Surry said coming down from the upstairs apartments above the shop.

Brin and Vyncent both scowled at that statement.

“I’m off, as they say time and tide wait for no one.” Brin said cutting the goodbyes short heading to the door.

“Come home soon.” Surry said as Brin left.

“And make sure to tell people about your bow!” Vyncent called out as Brin stepped into the street. Brin pulled down his hood on the wool cloak as he walked down the street. A cold wind hit him in the face. A storm was coming.

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