Arch Bishop Grigory Alstaf
The Life and Death of Grigory Alstaf
Early LifeAlstaf was born in the central districts of the Crown City of Elric, his family ran a local inn and they lived a modest lifestyle. Though Alstaf did not grow up poor, he did grow up a short walk away from one of the poorer neighbourhoods of the city and he saw many people struggle in their daily lives. Despite seeing all of this, Alstaf paid little mind to those dealing with hardships, he was a precarious and rebellious youth and got into much trouble as he grew into his teenage years. Several confrontations with the city guard would eventually lead to a short stint in prison followed by a mandatory three-year campaign as a soldier in the army. Once Alstaf completed his three years, he returned tp the Crown City of Elric, having travelled the breadth of Aldelgis. With a fresh view of the world, a matured attitude he decided he wanted to make Elric a better place, though at the time he lacked the vision to do so. While Alstaf was raised to worship and respect Ildyr like most Aldelgian citizens, he did not feel a close relationship to the god. One day soon after he had returned from service, he was drawn towards the lower districts, and found himself walking the dirty streets of the same poor neighbourhood he had grown up next to. There he saw many suffering and struggling to survive, a stark contrast to the world he once lived in. After walking for nearly an entire day, from one end of the district to the next, he finally sat down to rest upon a rickety bencj. Alstaf breathed deeply, spent from the day's exercise, as he looked up he noticed the view from the bench was a direct line of sight to the splendour of Volkstadt Castle, the home of the royals. At that moment, he felt the will of Ildyr enter him and he knew what his calling was. Through the faith of their lord, he would raise those that struggled up from below and hold them aloft so that they may sit on the same level as those who were more fortunate. He would bring balance to all, and create equality for all. And he could feel that Ildyr was behind him and would support him in this cause. The very next day, at the young age of nineteen Alstaf, joined the Aldegian Ildyr Diocese.
Rise to the top of the Ildyr DioceseOver the next few decades, Alstaf would rise through the ranks, becoming a highly respected and influential priest of the Ildyr faith. After nearly forty years in the church, Grigory Alstaf was given the highest title in all of the dioceses when he became Arch Bishop. A role that leads the diocese across all of Aldelgis. Altaf's rule was energetic and controversial, he fervently fought for the rights of the downtrodden. Arguing and fighting both the members of the royal council, in which he sat on for many years and his own church. Both holding the sanctity of the tradition and the wealth of the nation over his battle for equality. And worse yet, even those in which he fought for began to turn their backs on him. Accusing him of turning his back on the traditional rites and scriptures of the church to fruitlessly chase his personal ambitions and dreams. As time passed, Arch Bishop Alstaf would lose more and more support, even those in the church that sympathized with his cause would eventually create distance between them. Fearing that if they publically supported him their own ambitions in the church and elsewhere may become jeopardized. Alstaf realized that all his efforts were failing and that nearly all of his attempts at bringing balance and equality to the nation had fallen upon deaf ears. In his last few months as Arch Bishop, Alstaf began showing erratic behaviour, he would miss important meetings, daily prayers, and a few occassions some of the younger priests recorded that they had seen him seemingly talking to himself off in a distant corner of Gerlach Cathedral. Alstafs subordiantes, including his Prince Bishops began secret talks about removing Alstaf from the role of Arch Vishop. But before that could be enacted, Alstaf disappeared. A servant had been sent to retrieve him from his quarters after he had been late for a sermon at Gerlach Cathedral and was nowhere to be found. The church and the nation at large searched for months, from Elric all the way to the eastern borders of Aldelgis. But to no avail, Alstaf was gone. The country gossiped for weeks about where Alstaf may have ended up, and why? Was he kidnapped? Had he been murdered? Was it a conspiracy? Eventually, they moved on, including the Aldelgian Ildyr Diocese, who lifted a new Arch Bishop to lead the church forward, without Alstaf.
Reemergence and the Aldelgian Church of RestorationDuring the years that Alstaf was missing, a quiet movement had begun, and soon word of the Aldelgian Church of Restoration spread. Quietly, for many years at first. They preached on the sins of the nation, blinded by the false god Ildyr, and for those that were truly pious to turn back to the True Judge and Saviour of Light, Ilydarnus. An ancient and wise God, who had been tricked and cast out by the nefarious tactics of Ildyr, who selfishly took his place in the pantheon of gods. Worshiping in secret, the Aldelgian Church of Restoration grew slowly, being careful to not arise too much attention for fear of the hammer of the state falling upon them with accusations upon of heresy. For years, the followers of Ilydarnus remained quiet. Until evidence of a more sinister side to the church was uncovered by a small band of soldiers that were sent to investigate the strange church. Through a long investigation, this small group of military officers led by the Gerwolf brothers would discover that the Aldelgian Church of Restoration was being led by a group of four members called the Eyes of the Church. Even stranger was the mysterious figured that guided these Eyes from far away. A man that the Eyes of the Church called, Father, the founder and mind behind the church's efforts at restoring Aldelgis to a pious and just nation. After decades missing, the Gerwolf brothers would discover that it what none other than former Arch Bishop, Grigory Alstaf, that was the Father of the Aldelgian Church of Restoration. He led the masses that the church had garnered, convincing hundreds that the true god of light and justice was Ilydarnus. But Alstaf and the Eyes were just using their followers as pawns, the church's purpose was far more sinister and far more dangerous to the nation. Deep below the shallow surface of the followers of Ilydarnus were the fully converted servants of Alstaf's new church, a cult of devoted worshipers, each praying and working towards the machinations of Alstaf's new Lord. Ig'darmus the Throneseeker, Demon Lord of the Infernal. Years ago, before Alstaf shortly before he went missing, the former clergyman of Ildyr was visited by the demon Ig'darmus. It revealed to him that in his youth it was him, not the god of justice Ildyr that showed him the way. It was Ig'darmus that wanted balance, that wished to give him the strength to accomplish his goals. Ildyr and his church of fools had tricked him into wasting years working towards an impossible goal. But if he swore fealty to him, they would work together, as equals, and bring about a new world of order, peace, and balance. Alstaf believes he had finally seen the errors of his ways, it all made so much sense, why he had failed at every turn, Ildyr was not with him. He was against him, Ildyr had been corrupted and no longer served the people and the nation. Alstaf agreed to help free the demon from the chains that held him in the infernal realms in exchange for help bringing balance to the nation, at any cost. Through Ig'darmus' guidance, Alstaf and his Eyes created their false church and convinced hundreds to join their cause of restoring the nation to its pious glory.
Invading the Crown CityAlstaf would ultimately lead a rebellion against the Aldelgian Ildyr Diocese and Aldelis itself when his cult invaded the capital, the Crown City of Elric. While there they worked to sabotage and corrupt the inner workings of the church, before eventually discovering a way to free their lord. Alstaf and the remaining Eyes would kidnap the Lord Noble Empress Aristea Odessa Sunnhild and take her to the Royal Mausoleum, which lies high atop the waterfall that sits behind Volkhardt Castle. Alstaf would attempt to use the Empress's Royal blood and the spiritual energies of the former rulers that lay in the mausoleum to overload the Edler Shield Crystal, which hangs high above the city. He would use the ensuing explosion of energy to tear a hole into the infernal realm and allow his lord to step through and begin the promised purge. The explosion would have killed thousands and ripped Elric apart, and the coming of a demon lord would likely seal the fate of the remaining survivors. However, a brave charge, led by the Gerwolf brothers, would stop this vile ritual before it could be completed. A weary and furious Alstaf would merge with the leaking demonic energy that had resulted from the failed ritual and engage in battle with the brothers. The brothers fought valiantly, and eventually would slay the corrupted Alstaf, saving the empress and the city. Sadly, Dieter Gerwolf would lose his life during the battle, though as his spirit left the realm, Ildyr would appear and embrace him, bringing him into his fold as an honoured hero of the light.
There were those under Alstaf's sway that truly believed in the story of Ilydarnus and went about their days praying and worshiping the false deity. However, this was just a front and a distraction used for the group's true purposes. Underneath, Alstaf had a large group of devotees that knew the true purpose of the cult, though most did not know all of the details. Because of Alstaf's intimate knowledge of the Aldelgian Diocese, he was able to have numerous of his flock infiltrate the church and cause corruption and disarray. Alstaf, later in his campaign against Elric, would kidnap Arch Bishop Ingolf Hildemar, before adopting his form and taking his place as Arch Bishop. During the climax of Alstaf's attack on Elric, Ingolf Hildermar would be savagely murdered by one of the Eyes of the Church. Leaving the diocese temporarily leaderless and in a state of panic. However, after the demise of Alstaf, the church quickly promoted Prince Bishop Notker Adelgeis to Arch Bishop and Torben Behr to Prince Bishop of Elric. Behr, a cleric of Ildyr, had travelled with the Gerwolf brothers for months assisting with the investigation and had been given this honour as a reward for his service to his nation. As for Arch Bishop Adelgeis, he has promised to conduct a thorough investigation, with assistance for Exarch Rath Gerwolf, into corruption within the church with the intention of weeding out any lingering cult members. Adelgeis also intends to start a branch of the church, starting in Elric, that takes in those that are less fortunate and give them the assistance and guidance they need in order to lead a more fruitful life. Some have questioned this campaign, believing the church does not have the necessary resources to meet the needs of the many in need. Others believe it is Adelgeis' way of sneakily bolstering the ranks of the church and manipulate those in need into joining the diocese.
Effect on the Diocese and Aftermath of Alstaf's Death
AppearanceAlstaf was a man of advanced age, his life having been extended by the demon Ig'darmus, putting him well into his hundreds before his death. He still has the body of an elderly man though, as this gift only slowed his ageing and did not grant him additional youth. His body had become frail and weak, his frame thin and his posture stooped. Alstaf once had startling blue eyes, but they had grown dim and milky, while his once well-trimmed hair had grown long and brittle, bleached white by age.