Origins of the Darkwoles
The Hold of Argonne is mixed in customs and tribes that was originally Kallavesi, but has gained many influences from the other tribes through trade, and new blood.
Suaq hunters and trades people frequently journeyed south over the generations to trade goods from the northern territories. After a freakishly warm period 38 summers ago that lasted several weeks, the glacial ices melted in the easterly mountains causing flooding that blocked the Suaq trade routes. In the couple of generations that followed, new routes were established, but the majority of the hunters and trades-folk that had been cut off had built families and so stayed among the Kallavesi Hold of Argonne, lending their skills and traditions to the Thane.
Similarly, Steinr warriors often travelled nearby from neighbouring holds, en-route to the western borders of Wintermark, where the Barbarian Orc tribes frequently tried to invade. It is thought that this is where Kurik Bloodmane first developed his taste for war. The Hold of Argonne, always known to possess a great number of Grimnirs in comparison to other Holds, welcomed these Steinr as they passed through and tended to any wounded that were brought back. These warriors defended their borders from the Orc and as such the Thane and his people were ever grateful (some of the common folk especially so). Because of this many Steinr returned from the western borders to discover they had fathered children. Many of the warrior clans stayed on to raise their children, and so the Hold grew again.
Argonne was the first Thane. He had three sons:
Kurik , the eldest was born with a mane of red hair was given to a terrible fury and was ferocious as they come. As the first born, he bore his father’s favour, but lacked focus or compassion and was too hungry for battle. He would disappear into the wilds for long periods preferring solitude of battle and the company of beasts.
It is said he came upon a Blood Wolf pack. These Dire creatures are the largest and most savage of wolf breeds, each standing five feet tall at the shoulder with fur the colour of rust and dried blood. Using only his bare hands, teeth and nails, he tore the throats out of any that attacked him until he had killed the alpha and dominated the pack.
He returned to the Hold of Argonne with a Blood Wolf pack at his heels, unarmed save for his sword, a gift from his father upon coming of age. Without a word he drove his father’s sword into the earth before the Feasting Hall and returned with his pack to the wilds. Kurik Bloodmane is to this day a name held with mixed fear and respect among the barbarian tribes.
The second son Gudrikur was born with a crest of fine white hair and eyes like shards of flint that seemed to hold many lifetimes worth of wisdom. He was always more interested in the path of the Grimnir, like his father before him. Sure, he learned the way of the axe, and spear, and shield as befitted the son of a Thane, but he had no taste for it.
As a boy he found, whilst hunting with his father, a young white wolf that had been mauled by a mountain lion. He spared it his Father’s blade and took it back to the hold where he nursed it back to health. The wolf stayed with him as he grew to adulthood and became a symbol of his skill and compassion. It mirrored the young Grimnir’s personality, always gentle, never quick to anger and easily approachable. Whenever a lone white wolf is sighted, good health is wished to one another. Those that take a white pelt are recognised as Grimnirs among the people of the Hold. When he came of age, he joined his father’s council and upon Thane Argonne’s death was voted in to replace him. He became Thane Gudrikur of Argonne, his similarity to his father earning him his name.
The youngest son Morcaer was of slight build with midnight black hair and mismatched eyes, green and black. He was no match for his brothers in the combat circle. Nor was he particularly skilled in the mental disciplines. What he did have was a silver tongue and a rogue’s insight and could barter, lie, extort, charm and cajole. He held the outcast and the downtrodden in high regard, for whilst not particularly intelligent by traditional measures he possessed a brutal cunning and animalistic instinct and could see the value in people. He was not content to live out his days restricted to the Hold, and yearned for travel and adventure throughout the Empire.
As a boy he soon discovered his gifts included training animals. On a routine wolf baiting expedition (conducted to cull the creatures that could pose a threat to the Hold and its people), Morcaer tracked a slaughtered pack to their lair and rescued a litter of 9 pups. He trained these pups and used them for personal guardians, transportation of messages, keeping the hold vermin free and protection on ranging expeditions. As he grew into adulthood, he expanded his dark wolf pack to include agents loyal to him and his hold. Most of these men and women were rogues, scoundrels or sell-swords, though some held enough herb lore to keep the band alive in times of hardship. These Darkwolves were regarded poorly by Morcaer’s father, but upon his death and Gudrikur’s elevation to Thane, they became the main ranging force for the Hold of Argonne, with the young Thane’s blessing. And so the Darkwolves of Argonne came to be.
Thane Gudrikur of Argonne changed the Holds sigil from the Amber Hawk-Eye of Argonne, to the triple Wolf head. Red for the Bloodwolves taken by his elder brother and symbolising the Steinr and warrior castes’ struggle against the barbarian tribes. White for the Grimnir, symbolising health and honour and spirituality of their
his younger brother gathered to serve the hold in foreign lands. The white wolf is most prominent out of respect to their Thane, and his father before him.
The term “Dark Wolves” was given to the agents he recruited to assist with the trade missions. These retainers swear an oath to their Thane Gudrikur of Argonne and his brother (their founder) Morcaer, and travel the Empire in trade caravans, in small war-bands, or alone to conduct the business of their Thane. The Dark Wolves are from all professions within the hold. Some follow the path of the warrior as did the eldest son but have returned to serve their Thane. Some a have herb lore and physic training like their Thane, but travel with the caravans to assist their brothers. But most are skilled merchants and rogues.
Actual wolves are still tamed and trained to run with the man-pack. The swiftest and most intelligent are selected to run alongside the trade caravans and used to spring ambushes and fight through bandit raids. He also used them to carry messages back to the hold while he was away on business.
The sigil of the Dark Wolves is the triple wolf head of the Hold of Argonne. But the black wolf is most prominent, not the white. This fact is overlooked by Thane Gudrikur for it is a sleight against the previous Thane Argonne for his contempt for the Dark Wolves.