Wolf of Maldeen
History of the Wolves
Note: I try to note whenever I use official material in any great sense, as I do not want to detract from the work of another, or claim it as my own, even inadvertently. The Wolves of Maldeen are adapted from the organization of the same name, found in Dragon 364, and authored by Nicolas Logue.
As a beardless officer, Maldeen volunteered to join the Gray Wolves, a ragtag militia assembled overnight near the end of an orc invasion and ordered to Red Rock Pass to stem the tide of these orcs. Hundreds of battles, some of the bloodiest seen in this age, took place in Red Rock Pass, and the battle of the Gray Wolves put them all to shame. It was pure slaughter. Within 2 hours, three hundred Gray Wolves had died on the valley floor, and among the dead were all eight of Maldeen’s superior officers. The young lieutenant took command of the tattered remnants of the Gray Wolves. He was fourteen at the time. The tales of how Maldeen broke the orc horde like a wave against the rocks vary tremendously. In some, he shows a dramatic aptitude for tactics and outwits the orc chieftains. In others, he single-handedly cuts a path through the orc hordes and leads his Gray Wolves to victory. However he did it, the cold fact of the matter remains: A boy cast the savage tribes back to Black Shard Peaks.
On his return from the front, the baron of Maldeen’s lands heralded the young warrior as a hero. When this boy was raised high on a dais next to the baron to address the people, he did not regale them with tales of bravery and battle. Instead he launched into a scathing indictment of the baron’s decision to hurl the militia into the jaws of death, while surrounding his keep with a thousand pikes and archers to await the enemy after they had chewed through the Gray Wolves. Maldeen assailed the baron with the names of every single carpenter, brewer, farmer, and artisan of the Gray Wolves butchered by orc axe and spear. The baron had Maldeen arrested, and the boy wallowed in the dungeons while a strike force of Gray Wolf veterans laid siege to the keep. It took three years, but they broke the army’s resolve, and, in the end, the baron’s own general impaled him on a golden sword he later laid at Maldeen’s feet.
The fighting forces of the area demanded that Maldeen assume leadership of the barony, but he refused, instead restoring the baron’s son and acting as his closest advisor to ensure the boy grew up virtuous and far stronger than his cowardly father. For forty more years Maldeen commanded the baron’s armies against countless foes, and then he retired from service and disappeared.
Maldeen’s story might have ended there were it not for the massacre at Delkarem’s Vale. A group of refugees fled the Vale when a band of ogres descended on their town and slaughtered everything in sight. Those who escaped ran headlong into Starfall Forest and scampered through the thick woods for days, ending up starving and nearly exhausted to death at the front door of simple log cabin in the deep solitude of the forest.
A leathery old man, crippled from a life of bone-crushing battle, answered the door. The refugees’ only hope against a ravening tribe of pursuing ogres was an eighty-four-year-old veteran with one crushed leg. Maldeen had seen worse. He died that day, his aged chest crushed by an ogre’s club, but not before he culled more than half their number and scattered the ogres into the forest. The refugees he saved spread tales of the old man’s heroism far and wide, and when it came to light he was the same Maldeen who led the Gray Wolves to victory at Red Rock Pass over seventy years before, memorials sprouted up across the land, and wayside shrines honoring Maldeen as a true guardian of the common folk and scourge of corruption and evil became common sights along the road. These shrines soon attracted drifters—young men and women whose communities had been torn asunder by strife. They’d seen their families trampled by evil and witnessed atrocities and injustices heaped upon those unable to defend themselves. These refugees, vagabonds, and wanderers were inspired by Maldeen’s courage and virtue, so they took up arms in his name and swore never to allow rampage and iniquity to visit the meek again. They called themselves the Gray Wolves, and their pack has now grown hundreds strong.
Ways of the Wolf
Those who seek to emulate Maldeen must have the discipline to walk his path, which might lead them into conflict with others. However, since conflict is a part of life, a follower of Maldeen readily deals with it—whether through force of arms or force of words.
“Ours is the wanderer’s path. No hearth to warm our feet by, no love to warm our hearts against the cold of night. . . .”
Home is where evil works its fell power. Life as one of the Gray Wolves is spent on a lonely path that leads to the grimmest stretches of blood-soiled earth they can find—where a sword and a strong heart is desperately needed. A Gray Wolf has no ties. Most who come to Maldeen’s order are orphans who have witnessed the terrors of evil and the slaughter of chaos. These wayward souls find a new family among the Gray Wolves. Sometimes, though, those seeking to become one of the Gray Wolves sever their ties to join the order. No family can come first; no love can sap the resolve of a Gray Wolf. To become one of Maldeen’s pack, a candidate must leave his or her old life behind, which might mean faking a death or ignoring family obligations that might hinder his or her tireless fight against evil.
The Gray Mantle
“We do not presume to purity, only to the total opposition of evil. Wear no ostentatious robes of white, my wolves, but don the gray instead. Do not seek shining glory, but rather an ignominious struggle, whose only reward is the battle.”
Wolves of Maldeen wear gray. They blend into the shadows, where they can best hunt their prey. They scorn adornments and finery, and instead they wear simple breeches and tunics, warm fur cloaks, and well-worn boots. Gray Wolves do not seek to stand out, but rather they become one with the pack. Their cause sets them apart from common folk, and any incidental wealth gained helps the fight against evil. Thus the Gray Wolves seek nothing finer.
Bow to No One
“The wolf is no dog to beg at a king’s table for scraps. We are hunters, not slaves. We serve no throne, and we lend our swords to no single nation or emperor’s cause. We fight evil, and in doing so we remain detached from petty politics. No baron’s banner for us. No lord’s service. Never bow to another person. The pack is all we need.”
Gray Wolves scorn the mundane ways of the world and the petty machinations of politic bodies. They never swear any oaths of fealty. Loyalty is given to the pack, and the single most important oath the Gray Wolves swear is to fight evil wherever they find it. Kings and queens might waste their lives in hopes of redrawing a border on a map, but the Gray Wolves are never pawns in the petty games of power that monarchs and royalty play.
Code of the Gray Wolves
There are fates worse than death. The worst is living powerless in a world filled with evil. If evil is the only way to survive, embrace death as a lover, and leave the world a better place.
Your life for an innocent’s always. Fearing death is a luxury we cannot afford.
Seed the earth with blood, and you shall reap more of the same. Kill only what must be killed, and seek no petty excuse to loose steel and spill blood. Drawing a sword is a grave matter not to be taken lightly—and never to be enjoyed.
Vengeance never—justice always. Vengeance is a weak person’s balm for the wounds of our time. Justice is a forge that burns impurities from our world.
Carry not just the fangs of the wolf, but a heart filled with empathy—we must never become what we hunt.
Gray Wolves of Thestria
In the world of Thestria, Gray Wolves know no national boundary, and serve no throne. They are individuals dedicated to preserving justice, and protecting the innocent from the corrupt. They are recognized by most law enforcement agencies (The Kalced Empire is an exception), and given tacit assistance from said organizations.