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Alden Gravenitch

Written by KoshcheiBessmertnyi

Alden is a wolf shapechanger, who was sold by his parents to a Garip merchant, and lived most of his life in bondage. He grew up distrustful of people, and of any possessions that he does not carry on his back. Alden is motivated primarily by survival, though in his own way, he believes that the world is governed by a God and universal justice. His true nature was never a secret from anyone, and he himself has always announced it and openly displayed it.   Alden is a young man of 17. He is tall, with white hair , and different-colored eyes, noticeable only to people who get close. He tends to stay in human form, but his arms stay in this in-between state of wolf and human up to his elbow. He has a sort of white fur mutton- chop-style beard. When he smiles, one can see four very sharp teeth. He has two birthmarks on his neck - one on both sides. He wears a hood, a jerkin, cloth pants, and leather boots. He carries his scythe on his back, his cudgel on his right side, and everything else is in a rugged haversack.   In hybrid form, he has white fur, his teeth and claws are as sharp as the sharpest blade, and his eyes are the same differing colors. His howl is the last thing people will hear before their death.   After being sold initially, he was resold to a Garip prince once the merchant figured out Alden's true nature. He spent 16 years of his life as slave, who was both an enforcer and a source of amusement for his master. Alden was forced to go on “hunts” for him, which often meant killing entire villages full of people while they slept. If he ever refused, the master's people would whip, stab, burn, shave, punch, and tie all his limbs apart while in wolf form. He developed a feral outlook, as he was constantly whipped, starved, punched and kicked, and spat upon.   One day, Alden overheard a commotion in the castle. There was a raid against his master by a rival prince. The attackers forced their way in, and Alden knew this was his time to run. He grabbed some supplies and some clothes, and ran. He didn't know where he was going, and trudged my way through brushes and twigs. Finally, he came onto a path were a knight in armor sat upon his horse. He saw Alden and his beaten-up clothes, face, and body. Then he took him on a journey to his destination. When the knight asked his name I told him "Alden". He then asked about his last name, and Alden simply told him he don't have one. The knight took of his helmet and said, "You may have mine young child, it holds good weight!". To this day, this knight is the only person for whom Alden has any care.   The knight took Alden from town to town, all of which shunned him or kicked him out for what I was. Finally, after months of travel, he came to the estate of Malinka, which was owned by the Archbishop of Ladeisk, an old friend of the knight's. Archbishop Nikifor took Alden in, and put me to work as a guard. A few months later, Alden heard that the nearby village of Vladykino, also owned by the archbishop, had been burnt to the ground, and that its people had been driven off into slavery by the nomadic Kochmaki. The village had a mill of some value, and a miller who had somehow survived the raid, so the archbishop asked Alden to accompany some of his other men to Vladykino in order to bring the miller back to Malinka. That is how Alden met Fedor, Innokentii Fedorovich (Kesha), and Zoya.   Alden traveled to Vladykino in their company. When they got to the mill, they discovered bags of human limbs and sacks of coins on the ground floor. Upstairs, the miller ensorcelled most of the company, including Alden, and forced them to fall asleep. When Alden awoke, he found that Kesha had himself somehow subdued the miller, Zbigniev Dragutinovich, and dominated him into accompanying the party back to Malinka. The miller also admitted that he was grinding bones into coins, though he denied having killed anyone. Alden took a share of Zbigniev's ill-gotten wealth from the mill.   The next day, Alden returned to Malinka with the captive Zbigniev, and the rest of the companions. At one point, Zbigniev breathed fire out his mouth onto his bonds, and attempted to kill his captors, and escape. The miller once again put Alden to sleep by using magic, but Kesha once again subdued Zbigniev. Fedor recommended that the monster be killed, but Kesha insisted on getting him to Malinka in one piece. Shortly before getting back, the group was joined by Yuri, another survivor of the raid on his village. He had ridden forth to see how many raiders there were, and when he found that there were too many to fight, he returned to Malinka to recruit more people in order to free his family.   When Yuri asked Alden to join his mission, the wolf-man immediately agreed. Given what he experienced in his life, he felt that he could not leave innocent people to die needlessly. The thought of people in clanging chains brought flashbacks, and he hated the word "Slave". The archbishop gave leave for him to go with Yuri, perhaps a little too enthusiastically. While he waited for his party to leave, he sparred and bonded with Fedor, who was becoming his first friend his his knight-benefactor. Fedor looked for a worthwhile task to perform while they waited, and was approached by Misha, the local brewer, who wanted a romantic rival driven off the estate. This rival, Yulian the Stable Master, also had a reputation as a sorcerer who used the evil eye on people. Given their experience with Zbigniev, Alden and Fedor agreed. They confronted Yulian, and told him to leave Misha alone. Yulian told them to mind their own business, and smacked Fedor in the head with a horseshoe. Alden and Fedor then subdued Yulian, but a magical force began to choke the life of Fedor. The two men fled, and turned Yulian over to the priests. But they refused to punish Yulian, any more than they refused to punish Zbigniev. Father Oleg, the archbishop's attendant priest, told Alden and Fedor that they should leave with Yuri as soon as possible.   Yuri wanted to get a jump on his quest before he lost the raiders altogether, so he left with some of the people he recruited, and left a message for Alden and Fedor to catch up. This they did, and found the rest of the party camping out in burnt-out Vladykino. Here they met the huge volot Bjorg, and the vagabond Lokan, who drove away two pigs from the mill compound. Alden applied himself, and roasted one of the pigs. It was not enough to feed the volot, so they leave him behind with Kesha, and departed once the first pig was ready.   The way forward proved difficult. The weather was wet, and the ground soon turned muddy. In a few days, the party came to a campsite left behind by the raiders. There, at night, they saw a pale white woman emerge from the woods and head toward them, all while singing haunting songs. Alden and the rest quickly broke camp to get away, but in their hurry, they lost their way. The next day, Alden was sent off to hunt, as they had eaten the last of their pig. The scent of game that he picked up turned out to be cows, kept by a solitary man living in a small hamlet. Alden's survival instincts took over, he changed into hybrid form, and attacked the man. Then the wolf's hunger overcame him, and he devoured the man. He returned to his companions covered in blood, and leading one of the cows. Under questioning, Alden confessed that he killed a man and took his cow, but when his companions, led by Yuri, accused him of being a murderer and a thief, Alden defended himself by saying he was looking out for the party's survival, and that in any case, he had been mistreated by society all his life, and has little control over his actions sometimes. Yuri replied that if a similar thing ever happened again, he would be unable to continue traveling with Alden.   That night, the white woman came upon their camp again. It turned out that she was married to the man Alden killed, and was now set to wreak her revenge on his murderer. She quickly beguiled him to learn the truth, and then dominated Alden to get into the nearby stream with her, where she began to drown him. Yuri and Lokan managed to distract the rusalka enough to allow him to escape to the opposite bank before she could suck all the life out of him. For some reason, she decided not to pursue him, and merely said that he would now be a curse unto his companions, and then left the scene.   The next day, the party's fortunes improved. They caught some game, and began to travel in the right direction. Soon the rains stopped, and in a few days, they found themselves along the banks of the mighty Udena River. Espying a fishing village along the banks, Yuri and Lokan entered it, hoping to find food and information. Alden was left behind with Fedor to watch over him, but later that night, Lokan sneaked the two of them into the house where they were staying, and fed them.   The following day, the companions arrived in the Kochmak city of Udyn. At the gate, the keeper explained the laws they had to abide while there - they could not openly carry weapons or ride horses, they had to stay in the Gaalite quarter on the other side of town, and they had to wear ribbons that identified themselves as part of a religious minority. Ultimately, the companions made their way to the Nart Quarter and found a place to bathe. As they entered the town, Fedor declared that by getting Yuri to Udyn, he thought his mission was accomplished, and he would head home to resume his service to the archbishop as soon as the rest of the companions found a place to stay.   Alden decided to send his friend off in style, First, he found an enterprising young man to introduce them to a fortune teller to look into Fedor's destiny. He found her in a young girl named Agapia, who happened to be hanging out at the bathhouse, and who told Fedor he had a brilliant future and a heroic death ahead of him. The enterprising young man, Khariton, then introduced them to a Norik monk - Hegumen Mitrofan. The hegumen bought their cow, gave them a place to stay. After taking a short rest at the abbey, Alden took Fedor on the town, to properly mark their good-bye.   He remembers starting to drink at the tavern where he ate soup with the rest of the companions earlier in the day. He vaguely remembers going through the gate into the main city, and drinking more there. Even more vaguely, he remembers sleeping next to Fedor on some floor, and then being removed from a ditch on the side of the road.   When he regained consciousness, he was a a dungeon cell. After lying there with a splitting headache for several hours, a pair of guards dragged him up a staircase, and into a meeting hall in what seemed to be a large castle. There, a man calling himself a vizier was conversing with his companions Yuri and Lokan, and another muscular man named Anatoly. The vizier said that Alden was found drunk and causing trouble, and that the rest of the companions, by making plans to kill some sort of serpent, were endangering the city. He then threatened to throw them all in the dungeon, but Yuri said that he, as the leader of the expedition, would voluntarily be imprisoned if the vizier let all the rest of the companions go. The vizier seemed agreeable to this, if all the rest, including Alden, pledged that they would not cross the river and seek to kill this serpent, Yaqub.   The vizier then released them, and they returned to the Nart Quarter. There, they met a man named Zinovii, who told them that the vizier was likely in cahoots with Yaqub. He also asked them if they showed the vizier the letter he had given them. He then sent down a servant to tell the companions that he was leaving town, as the situation had become too hot for him. The servant said Zinovii would await them at the upstream fishing village where Alden and the others recently spent the night.   Lokan then had a long talk with Alden, and revealed that he was also a wolf shapechanger, but that Alden should control himself more in order not to allow society to treat him even worse than it had, or to portray wolves in a negative light. Perhaps as illustration about how to live, Lokan invited him on a stroll to collect materials for a True Cross, which the vagabond later intended to sell. After having collected some wood toward this purpose, the two ran into Agapia behind the tavern, and then accompanying her to the graveyard for their nightly vigil. They are then unexpectedly joined by the physician Yaakov, who had been ministering to Zinovii, who was now gone.   While on watch, Alden produced a bottle he had hidden away, and continued his binge. He told his story about being enslaved, of his tough life as a slave, and of his knight-benefactor who slaughtered his captors and set him free. He then asked new acquaintances Agapia and Yaakov to share their stores, and took the lead keeping watch while they slept. At dawn, Lokan told Alden that he was suspicious of Yaakov, and wanted to test whether he was a spy by sending him to the docks, and observing what would happen to him. He convinced Agapia to accompany the physician, to make him easier to spot.   Alden then accompanied Lokan back to the monastery, where, as it turned out, his friend was being baptized. Afterwards, at the Irii Church, Lokan was presented with payment for chasing the grave robbers away from the cemetery. Lokan then convinced Hegumen Mitrofan to lend them a pair of monk habits, though the hegumen asked that at the end of their day's activities, he would like the companions to leave, because they were endangering the monastery.   The two went to the docks, and observed Yaakov and Agapia, who seemed to be under the observation of the vizier's soldiers. Alden and Lokan then slipped away, and returned to the monastery. As they collected their things and prepared to leave, the hegumen told them that he had just gone to the citadel to try to release Yuri, but the cossack would not pledge to renounce his plan to attack Yaqub, and the vizier had him thrown back in the dungeon. He advised the companions to abandon all plans to release him as a fool's errand. After meeting up with Yaakov, they then head toward the gate into the main city, because Lokan doesn't think they can abandon Yuri, and are immediately arrested.   The three are then taken to the citadel, interrogated the vizier, and put into cells. Apparently, Yuri escaped from the dungeons, and Ilyas ibn Umar wanted to know if his companions aided him, and whether they know where he went. Things got ugly as the vizier turned to torture and pulling nails. Alden, having experienced physical abuse during his enslavement dared the guards to bring him up to get tortured, but as it turned out, he was the only one who kept all his nails. The vizier later released them due to a lack of evidence of their collusion with Yuri, and even paid them some restitution for their pain and suffering. The three returned to the Nart Quarter, and used the money to put themselves up in a hostel, as well as some light entertainment involving the owner's nieces. Initially enthusiastic, Alden quickly grew skeptical of the enterprise, as he began to suspect that the nieces carried a disease. He slunk off to sleep in a loft, but two of them later found him and entertained him nevertheless.   After waking the next morning, Alden got the idea that he was going to purchase a weapon in which a demon or spirit was imprisoned. After having failed to find Agapia at the monastery, he visited two blacksmiths. While waiting to be seen by the first, he nearly got into a fight with a grandmother, while the second tried to sell him a dagger that clearly had no magical properties. Lokan managed to extricate him from both situations, and took him into the main city to look for an alchemist, where he stood a better chance of finding such an item. The two discovered a magic shop near the main bazaar. Its proprietor, Peyman, called himself a fire sorcerer, and told him that he wanted a magical vessel for trapping djinn, rather than a weapon. Though he claimed to be able to procure such an item, the cost he cited was prohibitively high. Alden tried to defray it by offering to sell some of his blood, which the fire sorcerer was willing to buy, and asking him whether he could perform some sort of service. Peyman indicated that he would be willing to buy holy water from the Gaalite cemetery in the Nart Quarter - the same cemetery Alden and the others had been guarding until the previous day. This idea seemed appealing, but Lokan had immediate plans to leave the city, so he went to find Berke Bolat, and paid him for information about Yuri's whereabouts. As it turned out, Berke had smuggled Yuri out of town after his escape, and his people had taken him to Shatkal - the fishing village where Zinovii was also waiting for them. After paying Berke to bring Agapia there as well, the two companions left town and traveled to Shatkal, taking care to lose Kochmak nomads, who seemed to be watching or following them. After arriving at the village, they found Yuri there, as well as Zinovii's entourage.   Shortly thereafter, Agapia arrived. Anatoly, however, had not returned from his hunt (which was coupled with watching the village from the outside to make sure no one left to inform the vizier. Agapia and Lokan went to look for him, while Alden stayed behind to guard Zinovii. They returned to report that Anatoly was taken prisoner by some Kochmaki encamped outside the village. Zinovii ordered the group to flee immediately, for fear of also being captured, in a boat they traded for their two horses. They rowed across the Udena, and camped out halfway up the embankment to avoid detection.   The following day, Alden stayed behind at camp to guard Zinovii, while the rest of the party went to scout ahead. Toward the end of the day, a foreigner named Augusta de Urbino appeared, apparently with news of Anatoly. Alden, like Zinovii himself, was very suspicious of her, and behaved threateningly, thinking she was a spy for the vizier. After she recounted that she saw him brought to the main Kochmak camp outside the city, then condemned to death by the vizier, the fact that she heard his confession and gave him last rites prior to his execution, and some details of his early life, Zinovii relented, and the rest of the party voted to allow her to stay with the group.   The following day, the group decided to make a foray into Yaqub's lair. Alden and Lokan changed into wolfmen, and tried to sneak in, but they were beset by the vizier's mounted soldiers. Alden set his mind to eating the horse of one man, but the men came in waves, and concentrated their attacks on him. Two charged him, and ran him through with spears. Alden was apparently saved at the last moment by Agapia, and Lokan drove the rest off. One of the soldiers had fallen, and while the party was stripping off his belongings, Alden tried to make a case for him eating the man. Lokan was amenable - it would destroy evidence, but Yuri insisted that the conditions of Alden staying with the party precluded any more cannibalism.   Alden was then persuaded to leave the corpse alone, and the rest of the group decided that the party should pull back, to draw the soldiers out, so as to find an opening to sneak in. The plan worked, as six riders tried to overwhelm the party, but they were driven back by Alden's howling, and one soldier was then taken captive. Under questioning, he revealed that they were preventing the party from getting in, but did not know or want to get in themselves, and were actually planning to leave before dark, when the serpent was due to return. After watching the soldiers sailing back toward the city on a raft, the group advanced to Yaqub's hill, and soon discovered a cave, hidden by an illusion that made the entryway look like the hillside. However, they were themselves discovered by slitherings - fat, fiery snakes that crawled out of the cave and gave chase. These were cut down, and then, the party entered the cave, and slew a few more slitherings. Alden found a golden ring on a skeleton's finger, and took it. Then, the others discovered a burnt spot covering an inscription. It contained a riddle that Yuri figured out, and after holding a torch to the verse, and the stone moved to reveal a spiral staircase in the back of the cave. The party descended to find a long regular passageway that ended in a door. But when Alden moved to inspect the door, he set off a pendular scythe trap, and an alarm system.   Alden then ran past the scythe trap into the main part of the lair, where the party was confronted by Yaqub's dogheaded guardians. He helped dispatch one that was hiding behind the door, and then fought against the dogheads' leader together with Lokan. When two more shooters appeared, from behind a corner, Alden chased them down, and killed one. He then devoured it in an attempt to get the captured commander divulge information. The party then searched parts of the lair, and ended up discovering a mill in one locked room that reminded Alden of the mill back in Vladykino.   Following the appearance of a serpent somewhere upstairs, and the flight of Zinovii and Yushko deeper into the complex, Alden turned to guarding the boyar while Lokan, Yuri and others explored other parts of the complex. The following day, when the party came under attack by a small reptilian humanoid and two dogheads that had recovered from their wounds, Alden fought against the latter, and upon fighting them off, followed his new custom by consuming parts of them before the rest was disposed of in the latrine. Subsequently, along with the rest of the party, Alden was badly burned by a fireball spell cast by a cook discovered in the lower part of the complex. During the rest, Augusta related that one of the books (now burnt) found in the library dealt with the Knights of Ritterheim, which was significant to Alden, as his erstwhile master belonged to that order.   Alden later accompanied the rest of the group to the lower part of the lair, where they discovered captives from Vladykino. Alden stood guard over them, and later, took part in the battle against Yaqub in the fountain courtyard, where he was nearly breathed upon by the beast before it was slain. He then consumed the beast's heart, which gave him the power to understand the speech of beasts and people, and also to hear the whisperings of angels and demonic beings.   Disturbed but also enthused by his discovery, Alden was put to watch over the captives as the rest of his companions worked to find Yaqub's treasure, lift the enchantment from the prisoners, and negotiate with the vizier to allow them and the captives to return home. Alden returned with them aboard the vizier's ships, but they have not seen him since. Svetlana, Yuri's betrothed, had also taken an intense disliking to him on the journey home.   Alden may or may not be somewhere in the vicinity of Ladeisk at present.   He appears in Chapters 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22.

Current Location
Yaqub's Lair
Species
Wolf Shapechanger
Eyes
One blue, one green
Hair
White
Height
6'2" tall
Weight
170 lbs.

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