The man known as Warden dresses simply, and carries precious little. A simple sword hangs from his waist, dull and unassuming as the product of any beginning swordsmith. It has the smell of old dust about it, as though the blade has never been shown the kindness of a clean cloth and a deft hand. Not a sound is made as its owner moves, as though the quality of the weapon is so little as to make it literally insubstantial.
Beyond his tattered robe there is nothing more, except for the banner held firmly in his right hand. The flag has long since dissolved away into featureless scraps, and the high wooden pole looks as though it may turn to ash under a particularly hard stare. When asked of it, the Warden states that he does not know whose sign was once woven into the cloth, nor why he chooses to bear it. The herald for an army long since lost to the depths of time, he wanders without apparent cause or purpose to guide him.Talents:
For such a wear-seeming traveler, the Warden is rarely seen to be walking anywhere. Few are there to mark his arrival to a town, and fewer still are present to note his leaving it. His steps are silent, and movements too slow or too fast to take note of. He simply is
or is not
, a shadow of a thing that stalks the oldest roads and crumbling edifices of the world. There are many who say he is but a wraith, a haunting spirit that appears and vanishes as eyes blink and heads turn away. That is one of the tamer theories.History:
There are very few things in the world that can shake Thaddeus Filch, most namely because he possesses the massive and indomitable frame of a hairless grizzly bear, and works the bar in one of the more repulsive taverns to be found in the reaches of Gothir. He has served flagons of liquor so blackened and thick that tar would have been a convincing substitute, both in look and in taste, to things with more pustules on their face than hair on their head, wrestled down particularly rowdy drinkers with more than a mite of ogre blood crawling in their veins, and has dealt with so many vampires that a stake is never outside of arm's reach. That such a thin and average man as the one who now entered through his doors could send such chills through him was laughable. He was far from the only man to have thought so.
Until that point, Filch had been blessed with an unusually calm evening. The drink was still plentiful, a decent percentage of the occupants smelled as though they had bathed recently, and the only person who had been shanked had had the decency to fade off quietly and cleanly instead of shrieking spraying like a disrobed banshee. It was enough to put a bit of a smirk on the old man's face.
came. Thaddeus had been staring right at the closed door, plain as day, but somehow he was standing there and the doors were slamming shut, as though the barkeep had been stricken momentarily blind and completely forgot about it afterwards. Though the tavern was nearly collapsing with age, the usual symphony of creaking floorboards was absent as the stranger made his way to the bar. It was as though the sound had been sucked out through the same door he had entered from, broken only by a sudden inquiry."You will pardon me for my forwardness, but I require directions. Do you know the path to the Beshnir Caverns?"
It was a voice barely above a whisper, but carried such weight that everyone in the room reacted almost immediately by staring into their drinks, resuming conversation in artificial tones, or otherwise attempting to distract themselves. At least one person left by the front door without so much as a word.
There was simply a quality to it that caused one's heart to skip a beat without explanation. It wasn't as though there were multiple voices or echoes. Those were common enough amongst the more devilish sort of patrons in that part of the world, to the point where they were nearly laughable in their attempts to seem dramatic. Nor was it that the chords that plucked those words seemed inhuman or deformed. No, it was far more subtle than that. It was as though they hadn't come out of a throat at all.
It had taken Thaddeus several moments to reply. Unfortunately he had never even heard of the place the stranger was seeking, and was secretly glad of it. The less he had to speak with him the better. The man left after thanking Filch for his time, but not before placing a ruby the size of the larger man's fist on the tabletop.
Thousands of similar tales exist. The nation may change to another, the tavern may change to a shop or even a home, and the ultimate goal of the stranger is never the same, but nearly every age had men and women with such an encounter locked firmly into their memories. Few have lived long enough to see him a second time, and even fewer have ventured to question him about his journeys. Those that have take the details to their graves, wishing that they hadn't.
Though the truth behind the Warden remains a mystery, that has not stopped legends and wild guesses from cropping up over the years. Most state firmly that he is some sort of apparition bound to wander the world, perhaps unaware of his own demise and cursed by a loathsome former life. Others are not so quick to assume his heart has yet gone cold, suggesting that he is a demon disguised in the flesh of man. Pseudo intellectuals are particularly fond of the theory that the Warden never truly existed, and that the stories came first. The words themselves gradually shaped the being and gave it a sort of half life, constantly shifting between the real and the imaginary. Still others say that everyone else would do well to shut up about it and let them get back to their drinking.