Aher Wolfhound is 61 years of age, tough and leathery, with creaky joints and a worn face. His silvery hair is shorn to a bristly shortness and his pale green eyes typically express a mood of cynicism.
He dresses in the faded grey-brown robes of a monk (for such he is). He keeps scraps of papyrus and pens tucked into his cord waistband (though he has written nothing beyond the confines of his monkish cell for years). He spurns sandals, going barefoot- the chill of stone, wind-bent grass, and cold earth reminds him of his youth on the plains.
Aher Wolfhound was originally a young farmboy from a barren steppe region of pastoral peoples. Seeking adventure, he contracted with a mercenary company known as the Most High Aphani Brotherhood of Warriors. Trained as a warrior among the Aphani in their petty battles against tribes in the wilderness, Aher became a minor captain in the Brotherhood.
Eventually, the Aphani recieved a grand contract indeed, from the Emperor Nagh-Ul Daitgok himself. Daitgok's empire had recently gained control of a province through military conquest; the province promptly erupted into bloody rebellion.
Daitgok was infuriated, and hired the Aphani. He sent them, along with an army of Imperial regulars, into the rebellious province.
The rebellion was smashed, the ringleaders (those not slain in battle) were rounded up and crucified, and the harsh fist of Imperial justice was brought down on the province. But the Aphani refused to stop. The Imperial reconquest quickly devolved into an animalistic orgy of violence, rape, and pillage, and unspeakable atrocities were committed against the war-scarred province and its ravaged populace; the Emperor turned a blind eye.
Aher, only a young man, and what's more, a profane and veteran mercenary warrior, was no exception. Caught up in the tide of violence, Aher himself committed acts which others would shudder to imagine.
Soon, however, Daitgok could no longer reasonably be said to be justly punishing the province. He withdrew the mercenaries, keeping them on Imperial contract, and farmed them out to various relatively tranquil islands and provinces throughout the Empire for several years, places where the Aphani would be satiated but were not in danger of erupting again.
But Aher could not forget what he had done in the bloodstained streets of Khogholaika as the screams and pleas rang out around him, or what had been perpetrated knee-deep in gore on the plains of Syaph in the shadow of the pile of severed heads, or in the women's-houses of Nashod where veils and robes lay shredded on the floors like tattered rugs, or the royal nursery in Aun Dekhara... No longer able to reconcile himself with the crude and casual violence of the Aphasi, and mired in depression and self-hatred, Aher demanded cash on his contract, and payed out of the Brotherhood.
Disillusioned, ultimately cynical, full of self-loathing, Aher became a supreme nihilist. Spending a short time in the Imperial capitol (where, among a mob rioting for bread, he threw bricks and stones at the gates of Daitgok's palace), Aher came to hate the Empire and it's ways, and indeed, came to regard human civilization as something hideous, cruel, and abominable.
He sought a renunciation of humanity. Wandering north and west out of the Empire, he came to dwell among the anchorites of the wilderness, living in the dark, chilly warrens of a monastery, where, slowly, his eyes dimmed, his joints began to ache, and his hair went silver-grey.
Among the anchorites, he learned to read, and then to write, and write he did. He became "Wolfhound the Historian", and the monks marveled at his passion for history. Churning forth scroll after scroll, Aher wrote hundreds of military histories, detailing thousands of campaigns, wars, and battles, examining the rises and falls of little known nations, and most of all, the hand of that grim spectre Violence in human nature. The flame of his hatred for humanity slowly cooled, but the shadow upon his soul never lifted. His works were profoundly nihilistic, cynical, weary, and clinical; those few copies that found their way out into the outside world have become known among the literate as among the foremost histories, if also the most depressing.
Yet now, Aher is old and tired, and after all these years, has come to regard life as nothing but darkness. What Aher most fears is the night which closes around him- he cannot perceive a way to defeat the infinite hopelessness that fills him. Profoundly depressed and disillusioned, he no longer even writes histories. The only work scratched by his pen in the eternal twilight of the underground monastery is his opus, the vast, labyrinthine, torturous work, never read by any but himself (not even the monks have been allowed to see it) known as "The Great Folly".
Aher has a nightmare, a recurring nightmare which comes with great frequency. In this nightmare, he is standing once again on the windy steppes of his youth. The wind blows into his face, riffling his short, silver hair and blowing his monkish robes about him. But then the wind ceases. The air slowly fills with an abominable stench, the smell of all the rotting flesh which as ever existed. Before Aher's eyes there is blood, endless blood, a limitless sea of blood which rises from the gap in the mountains in a crimson tidal wave, containing the massed bodies of all the dead he has ever seen and killed, a storm of dead flesh, rising over him. And atop it, on a raft made from broken lances lashed together, there is Death, a dessicated monk in a robe made of living moths, who smiles at Aher.
This dream, above all things, frightens Aher. On his worst days, Aher imagines that the sea of blood shall slam through the corridors of the monastery, and Father Darkness in his robe of moths shall smile at him from out of the gloom.
Aher is, despite his immense cynicism, ultimately a decent individual. His hackles are raised by cruelty to beasts and the callousness of humans toward each other. But he is mostly numb to many of the small injustices of the world.
Only one thing truly angers him (besides himself), and that is the mistreatment of children, especially since seeing acts such as these rub bitter salt into old wounds and arouse memories of things that he himself has done.
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? Responses (15)-15
I found this in an old RP. I had forgotten about it, but I really love the character, and I feel (perhaps erroneously) that I did a very deft job of characterizing Aher. I dunno', I just like it.
You did a very good job at describing him in the beginning, short but very effective! The flow and writing in this NPC submission is very nice. There are no unnatural sentences and they are all connected in a nice way.
I like his history, full of vivid images of the horrible acts of a young mercenary. The dream with Death is nice also, it reminds me of The Shining. Also a nice touch with the night closing around him.
I would like to see some more though, a few options of how to use him. A few plot hooks maybe. He would have vast knowlegde of history and much knowlegde about fighting and war. These are things the PC's could be interested in. Getting him to learn them anything aout war seems like a hard task though. Does he not have a single relative, family or friend left from before he became a mercinary? Any of those could help him find meaning again? Maybe something the PC's could help with, try to track down his nephew/friend/sister to remind him that there are good things in life still.
Anyways I like him, I like the style of writing, he can easily be modified to fit any fantasy setting and I like the name.
I thought he was going to be a werewolf at first.
Excellent CP! I like the way it is written and is quite usable!
A likable fellow by all accounts, excellently described and characterized. The man is just made to be an unwilling sage.
A few uses would be nice to have, though. Say, what if someone starts to blackmail an important figure about a few nasty things he did during the war, and the person wants to find out the source... traces leading to a document on that war, where the historian off-handedly describes the violence, desecrating of temples etc. that were commonplace?
You forgot to vote ;)
No, I didn't. :)
I too initially thought it could do with some, how to use, ideas. But then I realised what would be required of someone to gather all this information, the histories collected and written. All though he seems like he is on his own and interacts little nowadays he must of at some stage known all sorts of people. Like any historian in order to uncover the facts one must dig into peoples thoughts, travel vast distances, collect scrolls and stories.
So for our PC's, here we have a great wealth of information but his mental state keeps us from finding things out. Like a magical lock on a treasure chest, that in its self is a hook, save Aher, find the treasure.
Exactly. It's a true roleplaying struggle for the heroes- they can't just chop or magic their way through it. And I think it adds a very real, human dimension to him that he isn't insane or catatonic, he's just deeply, deeply depressed.
Before Aher's eyes there is blood, endless blood, a limitless sea of blood which rises from the gap in the mountains in a crimson tidal wave, containing the massed bodies of all the dead he has ever seen and killed, a storm of dead flesh, rising over him. And atop it, on a raft made from broken lances lashed together, there is Death, a dessicated monk in a robe made of living moths, who smiles at Aher.
A fantastic NPC. Well-written and all that, obviously, but more so, he feels very "real". I can only repeat what others have said. The description and his reccuring nightmare takes him over the top. I'm stealing him lock, stock, and smoking barrel! Beautifully rendered.
I'm checking the box next to "Dont need any help in knowing exactly how to use him"
(first 5 in a while for me)
HoH and a shameless BUMP!
With a little rewriting to blend him into my campaign history, he will work very well. I like him.
Very usable NPC that can be dropped into any quest that requires historical information with little need to rework anything.