Zeitgeist - The Gears of Revolution
Maksim Mikhaelovich Haelin
Maksim is the son of Mikhail, the local magistrate of a small logging village in the southern footlands of the Shawl Mountains. In years past, the village of Woodhaerst was much larger, initially providing large shipments of lumber to Mirsk. But over the past few generations, demand for larger wood shipments has fallen off, and the village’s population has shrunk considerably.
For generations, Mikhail’s forefathers had always acted in the role of magistrate, and he attempted to follow in their footsteps, even though there as little demand for it, and in truth, he did not have the disposition for such a role.
Mikhail was a bitter, unforgiving man, who armored himself with a dour, judgmental frown and a grey crumpled hat. Mikhail would often attend the investigations of crime and judge harshly, calling for the letter of the law to be enforced, and daring anyone to challenge the judgment of the law. As such, he was not well liked in the village, which only added to his dour demeanor.
Maksim’s mother died when he was 9. Maksim has fond memories of his mother, but remembers that she was usually sad. He has come to realize that his natural talents as an empath surfaced occasionally when he was young, amplifying his mother’s depression and making his father even more miserable to be around. Mara died in a severe depression one winter, and it changed his father. Normally dour and unforgiving, Mikhail began to drink, neglecting and often beating his son for some imagined slight.
By the time he was 13, Maksim had frequently been called on to deal with his father being too hung over (or still too drunk) to deal with hearing cases. He would sit behind the bench with his father, repeating the facts for his father who wasn’t really paying much attention. Sometimes, Maksim’s natural abilities seemed to help the claimants work things out for themselves. Other times, his father’s frustration infected him, and he passed it on to those around him, causing bitter arguments that turned simple disputes to week-long feuds.
Frustration wasn’t the only emotion that his father passed on through him. The rage he channeled from his father was worse; after one beating, he felt a murderous rage flow through him. The next morning, the village found two men nearly beaten to death by their drunken fellows after an argument blew way out of proportion.
By the time Maksim was 15, he was already considered to be a little crazy. Considered to be an instigator by most of the villagers who had children; Maksim’s tendency to …blur his emotional state with those around him made other kids want to hang around and find out what would happen next. A group of them were out in the woods, past the point where most of them were supposed to be…since many of them weren’t supposed to be seen with Maksim.
The group of them were set upon by wolves, feral creatures whose hunger had drawn them closer to the village than they were normally found. Three of them ran immediately, but Maksim and another boy hesitated, as one of the girls they were with…one who Maksim had strong feelings for, managed to trip when her dress got caught in the growth. Her fear hit him, the other boy’s fear hit him, and his own fear hit him, harder than he had ever felt in his young life. He felt the desperation of the wolves, the rage of the alpha at the hunger he felt. And as he swung the stick he had grabbed on his way to the girl, he reflected it all back at them, channeling it as a weapon before everything went black.
When he woke several hours later, he was alone, and face down in the dirt. He made his way back to the village to find the parents of his friends were speaking to his father, accusing him of…something. His friends had felt Maksim attack the wolves, and it scared them.
From then on, Maksim tried to withdraw into himself, as any boy would do in this type of situation. But while he could keep his eyes averted, he could still feel the fear and loathing around him. He could feel their anger lash him like his father’s belt. But what hurt him most of all, was the girl. From others, he felt rage or fear, loathing or suspicion. From her, he felt nothing. He had saved her life and she just moved on without a second thought. To this day, he tells himself he has forgotten her name (Anya).
Old Mikhail died during the following spring thaw. Maksim sat with him, listening to his father succumb to a wet rasping cough that had grown worse and worse over the course of that winter. Most of the village knew that Mikhail was dying, but between the old man’s acerbic nature and the loathing which the village held the boy in….Mikhail died with only his son in attendance, who could feel the loathing his father no longer even tried to hide. After he had passed, the villagers watched Maksim carry his father’s body to the small run-down courthouse, and then set the building ablaze. No one said a word to him while he watched the building burn, an unreadable expression on his face, and most tried not to look at him when he picked up a backpack and walked out of town, never to be seen by any of them again.
Finding a Path
For years, Maksim wandered. Each village he came to reacted to him much in the same way. It started with the natural suspicion people had towards strangers. Sometimes he might start to overcome some of that, but eventually, his abilities would begin reflecting the suspicion people had, and that suspicion would turn to anger, and so on… Sometimes people wouldn’t realize he was the cause, but very often Maksim usually found himself fleeing for his life. But even when this wasn’t the case, he always had to leave before things got bad. Cities were even worse, while city-dwellers were less skeptical of strangers, the press of people and emotions was so bad that someone usually died within the first two days. Living in the wilderness wasn’t a choice either, since Maksim did not have the skill to live off the land. So he kept moving, learning to leave before his power caused problems.
It was in one village where he heard a rumor about an old manor on the outskirts of town. It was rumored to be …wrong in some fashion, but Maksim decided to check it out anyways. If it turned out that the rumors were just a matter of people being morons, the manor might be a good place for him to stay. Far enough out of town for him to not cause problems, yet close enough that he wouldn’t be in complete isolation.
When he reached the manor, he was struck with a sense of ‘wrongness’ emanating from the residence. As he crept closer, he heard the sounds of battle coming from within. As he reached the front door, he saw a wiry man fighting against strange unearthly plants. Maksim grabbed a makeshift spear and went to aid him. After they had beaten the aberrant vines, the strange warrior introduced himself as Elias. Elias was surprised that Maksim had no idea what he was (an ardent), or that he had little to no control over his empathic abilities.
Each morning and each night, Elias taught Maksim to harness his power, and each day, they reclaimed a piece of the manor from the aberrant infestation that had corrupted it.
It took them the entire summer, but they managed to completely purge the taint of the monstrous plants. And then the battlemind simply vanished. One night he was there, the next morning, he was gone, leaving his glaive Fellreaver behind as a gift, and the only evidence he was truly even there.
Emboldened by gaining a level of control over his abilities, Maksim decided to come out of the wilds and rejoin the world. He still is not entirely comfortable in large groups of people, but no longer needs to worry about “slipping”. His initial forays into the adventuring life was as a freelancer. This allowed him to keep people at arm’s length, and leave a group before he feels he might start slipping again.
But this led him towards the mercenary life, which bothered him a little. Some of the ‘freelancers’ he worked with were just swords for hire, with no real conscience guiding them. It seemed to Maksim that, to them, there was little difference between taking a job to protect a caravan and taking a job to raid it…as long as the coin is there.
His wanderings had taken him to Bole in Risur. He was enjoying his first meal there, something called a jackfruit salad, when he saw a police officer beating a young boy in order to get a confession out of him. Maksim felt himself compelled to intervene, and learned that the boy was believed to have stolen some jewels from a woman on the street. Maksim, was able to use his empathic abilities subtly, for the first time, and not only diffuse the situation but to convince the boy to give up the real culprit.
Shortly thereafter, Maksim was approached by Alcon Falzone an Inspectors of the RHC, Alcon had been attempting to get the urchins in the area to lead him to their ringleader. They boy Maksim had extracted was intended to lead Alcon closer to this ringleader. While Maksim had inadvertently foiled that plan, Alcon realized that the young man represented a much different approach to the problem, so he convinced Maksim to work with him, and eventually Maksim joined the RHC on his own.
Maksim has found something here that he never has before, a fraternity which accepts him, a position which feels worthy to him, and a people who seem good, and do not shun him for his strangeness.
Maksim’s View on Law and Order
Maksim has a respect for law, but has seen a darker side of how it’s been enforced. His father crushed a boy’s fingers in judgment for stealing bread, and claimed that he was showing leniency (since they would heal over time). But Maksim was there a week later when the villagers found the boy and his younger sister dead in a ditch, having starved to death. He believes that the laws are important guidelines, but that too often, those that enforce them forget that they are there to protect society from itself.
What happened to your eye?
__(Maksim is missing his left eye)
“Troll took it out…I was with a group and one of our first gigs was tracking down a group of bandits. The bandits must have figured out that they were being followed and they led us straight through a troll warren. Only a pair of them in there, but they ripped Torin’s arm off before anyone realized what we had stumbled into. We barely got out of there, but not before one of the beasts took a chunk out of my face.
…Too Many People
Maksim doesn’t always deal well with crowds. The press of constant emotions, wild in their noise, is something that Maksim always feels when he is about other people. It is very easy for him to lose himself into those emotions. Sometimes it is like riding a wave, the thrill of those emotions running through his blood. Other times, it is like drowning, where he cannot tell where he ends and they begin.
And yet…when he is truly alone, there is an emptiness to him. As much as there is safety in this solace, Maksim finds it disturbing, for at these times, he is cold and without emotion. It speaks to a dread within him, the niggling fear that he is nothing but an empty shell, with no emotions he can call his own, and that his powers are just a hunger seeking to fill it.