On the night when Gregorius Altenius became a murderer, the wind wasn't howling. Nor was it cloudy; both Aera and Lucifal were very clear in the sky. Nonetheless, the day had been filled with evil, and the advent of night merely sharpened the feeling of danger. Selpean Altenius, Gregorius' mother, continued to stare out the window into the night. Occasionally she would glance back at her sleeping son and daughters. And hope that their father would be back before sun rise. For what seemed like forever, the family held that tableau. Sleeping children and searching mother. Her eyes slowly shut and finally, she slept like a babe in the woods. Later on, as Lucifal was about to set, a series of frantic knocks came on the door. She awoke with a start, and hastened over to unlatch and unbolt the portal. As she scrambled to open the door, she hear a thudding sound and what seemed like a sigh. Finally, the door opened and in fell her husband, with an evil looking dagger in his back. Pinned up against the dagger was a parchment containing the words, "Go or you'll burn, your family with you." Selpean half walked, half stumbled over to the cots containing her children. She shook them violently and they awoke, rubbing sleep from their tired eyes. Gregorius had but a moment to grab the sturdy oak quarterstave from above the door before following his mother out of the cottage forever.
The night wore on as the family, shortened by one, went on. Behind them a glowing blaze marked where their formerly happy house had stood. As they walked along a winding path through the pine forest, Gregorius' foot slipped under a root and down he went. His fall was soundless, and for several minutes the 15 year old boy just lay there motionless, savoring the quiet and the feel of not having to move, not having to keep going. He was brought out of his revelry by the decided female screams of his mother and sisters. He scrambled to his feet and ran to a small clearing, where he crouched along the thicket near a fire. Around the fire were three men, all wielding rusty old gladii. Their evil eyes were fastened on whatever precious goods the three travelers were carrying.
"What 'ave you got, eh?" the leader of the trio asked.
"Nothing you'd want, you pig!" Selpean cried. The events of the night and the long walk had effected her no less than her son. Now, she saw with fury all that was against her, and she leapt, nails flashing, at the closest henchman. Cries of surprise showed that they hadn't been prepared for the thrust. She was able to get a finger in the eye of one of them before the leader thrust his old sword in her side. He wrenched it, and withdrew it bloodily from her. She looked up at his ugly face before her eyes rolled and she fell back, dead.
Gregorius was about to burst out of the woods at that before he saw his two sisters, standing there and clutching at each other in fright. The thought of what these bastards would do to the rest of his family held him from his burst. He would have sold his own life with no hesitation, but refused to risk that of his sisters. So he watched, and waited, as the bandits fell asleep. Two would sleep, and one would stand guard. The injured man and the leader fell asleep at once, leaving the other. For a while, nothing happened, the man watching and the girls sitting and Gregorius waiting. Some time later, Gregorius began to creep silently towards the man, stave at the ready. When he was within range, he swung the stave with all his might at the man's head. It connected, a sound like a hollow melon being thumped was made, and the man fell for the count. Quickly, he went to check the man's pulse to see whether he was alive. With relief, he found the man's pulse to be weak, but there. Gregorius gathered his sisters to him and told them to hurry off along a path. Suddenly, there was a muttered, "Wha's 'at, then?" and the uninjured henchman came fully awake. He spotted the fleeing captives and shook his leader roughly. "They're getting away!" The bandits gave chase. Telling his sisters to run ahead, Gregorius stepped into the shadows right off the path.
As the henchman came galloping by, Altenius put out his stave. The man ran full mill into the solid wood and went down, clotheslined. Kicking up his heels was the leader. He spied Gregorius and gave a little smile to find him almost unprotected. He snatched the gladius from it's scabbard and lunged at Gregorius, who was ill-prepared to receive the strike. He blocked awkwardly with his stave, and had it knocked from his hand. As the leader poised to strike the death blow, Gregorius did the only thing he could think of- he clinched the man, getting him into a bear hug. Thinking back on every fight he'd gotten into at home, he angled his head up a bit and, hocking back, spit on the leader's face and took a step back. The man wiped the spittle from his face and swung the glad in another strike. Better able to deal with this, Gregorius stepped into the scything circle, grabbed the man's arm, ducked under the swing and buried the gladius in the bandit leader's belly. His mouth opened once, twice, and spit forth some blood. Shocked, Gregorius looked down at the blood that was rapidly spreading over his hands. He dropped the hilt of the gladius and took a step back, horror washing over him at the thought that he had killed a man taken a life. He groped around for sturdy oak quarterstave and held it, looking for comfort in the inanimate wood. That's how the patrol of Grey Swans found him, several miles from one of their fortresses, kneeling by the corpse of a bandit, clutching at his father's heirloom.
The rest, as they say, is history. Gregorius Altenius trained with the Grey Swans for three years before setting off to adventure. He entrusted the care of his sisters to the mercenaries, but forswore their way of life. To him, the taking of life should not be something taken lightly or done for money. So now he travels, refusing to bring harm to another man, sometimes being called a sissy or a wuss for it, but always resisting the impulse to fight. He remembers all to well the feeling of wet blood on his hands.