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A legendary warlord who inspired hope in the civilized races after the fall of Nerath.

Maldeen

Race

Human

Class

Warlord

Faction

Gray Wolves

Alignment

Neutral Good

Status

Legendary

BackgroundEdit

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. 1

Known Exploits: The Seven Strategems of MaldeenEdit

Maldeen’s legendary exploits as a commander have yielded dozens of lessons to warlords and captains the world over, and a text penned by a scholar who followed Maldeen’s career-at-arms closely detailed his seven greatest revelations as pertains to warfare. Many of these stratagems were lost when the original manuscript was burned by a blast of dragon’s breath that also claimed the scholar’s life, and three have been pieced together from secondhand accounts. The other four remain shrouded in mystery, though most Gray Wolves have their own interpretations of them ranging from well-researched possibilities to sheer fabrication. 1

The Manticore and WyvernEdit

Legend speaks of a time Maldeen was pinned down by an immense manticore. His arrows exhausted and his leg pierced with a tail spike, Maldeen saw his end was nigh. The manticore circled above, raining down spikes, but lo, Maldeen spied another shape in the sky: a black silhouette on the clouds. As a wyvern drew nigh, it caught a glimpse of Maldeen, and the manticore had just circled out of sight behind a ridge. Maldeen thought fast and stepped out from behind cover, waving his arms and taunting the wyvern with curses and hoots. The venomous wyvern took the bait and soared down to pick off the irritating little human. Maldeen timed it perfectly. Just as the wyvern closed, its deadly stinger poised for the kill, the manticore emerged from behind the ridge above and let fly its spikes. The wyvern’s shadow cast its pall on Maldeen as the manticore’s spines tore into its flank. The wyvern, enraged at the unprovoked attack, turned its wrath on the manticore. The two beasts clashed in midair, and their blood rained down in torrents. When the battle was done, both lay dead at Maldeen’s feet. 1

The Stone in the WaterEdit

During his grim campaign against the jarls of the frozen north, Maldeen witnessed the Great Drowning in Ice Maw Bay. He watched as longships filled with his troops rowed for shore, just as great frost giants appeared on the cliffs above and pried free a crag of ice and stone of immense size. The gigantic boulder tumbled to the water below, and its impact turned the calm bay into a churning sea of murder. Longships rolled, one atop another, and Maldeen watched his legions pitch beneath the killing cold of the frigid waters. As he turned his flagship from the bay, he remarked: “So one stone in the water can destroy an army, and the ripples of one act can spell a thousand defeats.” So Maldeen abandoned his campaign against the giants, which was the only rout in his glorious history of command. However, he took away a valuable if bitter lesson: Choose your battles carefully, and be aware that one blow can turn the tide against or for your forces. 1

Straw Soldiers and Hidden SpearsEdit

At one point, Maldeen’s forces were surrounded at Broke Neck Keep. The ravening orc hordes bore down on the crumbling castle, its time-worn walls the only thing between them and his meager army. Because his forces had been whittled down to dozens by a hard-fought campaign, Maldeen ordered the armory of the old keep plundered. Within, his forces found only helms, ragged chainmail, and worm-eaten leather armor. Maldeen did not despair. He ordered the musty straw from the keep’s old stables gathered up. By his command, they fashioned dummies of straw and chain, then topped the figures with helms and armed them with wooden spears (little more than sharpened stakes). They posted this straw army on the walls, and the hordes below the gates suddenly saw a hundred well-armed spear-wielding forces manning the walls where they believed only a handful of defenders remained. They fled to gather reinforcements, and Maldeen survived another impossible battle. While the orcs ran for the hills to gather the rest of their tribes, a large battalion of troops loyal to Maldeen arrived at Broke Neck Keep. The officers rejoiced and made plans to engage the orcs in full force upon their return. But Maldeen belayed their orders. Instead they tore down the straw dummies and placed only a handful of the Gray Wolves on the wall. The fresh reinforcements hid behind the walls, their deadly spears at the ready. When the orcs returned, the forces on the wall called down in surrender, claiming plague had spread among them during the orcs’ absence. The monsters rejoiced at the easy victory and marched through the keep’s open gates—straight into a bloody ambush. Afterward, when troops congratulated Maldeen on his brilliant strategy, he stated: “Show the enemy the opposite of the truth. If you are few, show them many; if you are many, show them few. Do this, and victory remains within reach every time.” 1

Death and LegacyEdit

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. 1

ReferencesEdit

  1. Dragon 364 (Wizards of The Coast - 2008) - The Wolves of Maldeen:By Nicolas Logue

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