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Brother Gaius

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Randolph Carter

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Gaius Publius had served in the Sixth Legion for almost three decades when the end came.

He was known to his comrades as the Wolf, and it was rumored that in his infancy he had suckled at the breast of a she-wolf and raised himself out in the bitter hinterlands of Illyria. Certainly, he bore the pelt of a massive grey beast he'd slain with his bare hands during the Ghur campaigns, thus proving himself worthy and winning the honor of carrying the Legion's standard into battle. Hard bit and unflinching, he was the best scout and tracker in the Sixth, and he would boast in all the Legions. Thus, he was out on patrol when the end finally came.

Unsurpassed he might have been, but even he could not have eyes everywhere, and those who might have been able to see the Ungors creeping through the forest failed in their sworn duty. The first he learned of the Sixth's plight was when he heard the desperate rallying cries of its horns, and saw the smoke rising over its encampment.

Hurrying back, he found the Legion already destroyed, taken completely by surprise and slaughtered in its tents. There was nothing he could do but watch as beasts and cultists picked among the ruins. Worst was when he saw the Legion's precious standard clutched in the unclean hands of a Bray-Shaman, a trophy of victory.

When at last the herd moved on to new targets he ventured into the field of ashes that remained- only to stumble over a relic of the Legion, a golden horn stamped with a VI and an image of an eagle in flight. This was a sign, he decided, a directive from the gods. The standard of the Sixth would fly again, and this trumpet would sound in victory before he would abandon his war against the beasts of the forest.

For four long years he stalked the horned ones across the forests and fields of Ghur. He became known to them as the Hunting Wolf, the Red Hunger, for he fought with a cruel savagery and the bravery of a man who has nothing left to lose. As he fought he saw the provinces and cities of Illyria falling into ruin before the onrushing tide of Chaos, but this did not dissuade him. His honor was greater than to one people or empire- he had sworn himself before the heavens themselves, and he would die before he would lay down his sword.

This faith kept his mind safe from the whispering temptations of the Dark Gods, but his body still suffered as the taint that was overcoming the Realms overtook him. His once-mighty limbs began to wither and tremble, and his eyes grew dimmer as he suffered from plague and malnutrition. If he could not fulfill his oath soon, he would die with honor unsatisfied, and though he did not fear the end he was afraid of that shame. Thus it was that he prepared his last desperate assault against the herd that had massacred the Sixth so long ago, now swollen to immense size.  He knew where the Shaman kept his tent and his trophies- all he had to do was live to liberate them.

In the dark of the night, he prepared his tools- fire and confusion. The tinder-dry forest was prepared to burn, and he waited until the wind had shifted towards the camp before he struck a flame. Almost faster than thought the new inferno spread, burning brands soaring to land among the bray-herd. As the beasts panicked he blew the old horn of the Sixth, three blasts loud enough to wake the dead. Many among the enemy believed they were under attack, and in their alarm slew one another, even as the forest burned around them- and into this confusion strode the Wolf.  Slaying all in his path, he cut his way to the trophy-tent, seizing the standard and planting it defiantly before him. This done, he called out a challenge to the shaman to come and face the wrath of the Sixth Legion, the blood of ancient Herculia.

The enemy answered, swollen by the power of his fell magics into a great three-headed chimeric beast, but Gaius Publius only laughed.  He had slain a wolf once, to win his honor, and that had been with his bare hands. Now he had a sword, honor redoubled, and no fear of death.   He danced with the beast beneath a fiery sky, parrying and weaving and biding his time- and he soon saw his moment. His enemy feared to be slain, and flinched when the fire grew too close- but he had long consigned himself to an honorable death of his own making.

He set the wolf-pelt on his back alight, and plunged towards the shaman, a blazing wraith of legend- and it flinched back, afraid to strike, and in that moment its end was upon it. He struck again and again, Illyrian steel drawing tainted blood, until it fell dead at his feet, a mere wretch of a creature once more. And as the flames grew closer he laughed in his victory, and just as he was about to be consumed he sounded the horn of the Sixth again, to let heaven know of Gaius Publius' approach so that they might open their gates for the Wolf of Illyria.

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The storytellers call Brother Gaius the Hunter, the Wolf-Skinned, the Untiring, the Survivor, the Sixth, the Wolf in the Night, the Flame of Wrath, the Sword of Vengeance, the Herald, the Sworn Companion, the Beast of Illyria, the Last Legionary, the Oathbound, the Shadow.

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