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Gahnder Rendler

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Full Name: Gahnder Rendler
Nicknames: None
Date of Birth: 43 Years Before the Dark Portal
Age: 72 at time of death
Race: Human, then forsaken
Gender: Male
Hair: Grey
Skin: Grey
Eyes: Yellow
Height: 5' 6"
Weight: 125lbs
Place of residence: Dalaran
Place of Birth: Gilneas City
Known Relatives: None
Languages: Common, Dwarvish, Gnomish, Darnassian, Thalassian, Orcish, Gutterspeak, Goblin, Pandaren, Eredun
Occupation: Retired
Group/Guild affiliation: Sanctuary
Guild Rank: Member
Likes: Smoking, Reading, Writing, Criminals, Commonfolk, Performing
Dislikes: Mages, Nobles, Religion
Favorite Foods: None
Favorite Drinks: None
Favorite Colors: Red and Violet
Hobbies: Inscription, Soothsaying, Teaching, Spellcraft
Weapons of Choice: Gahnder carries two weapons, though he rarely if ever wields them in a martial capacity. The first is a black, dark iron staff with a star ruby at the top. Forged and sold by Dark Iron Dwarves to Dark Iron Dwarves, the staff is primarily used to store spells to be cast later, the primary benefit being that complex runework can be stored in the staff only to be deployed from it later with a fraction of the timeframe. The staff is nameless, though, marginally unique in that it was specifically forged for a human's height rather than a dwarves. Gahnder also carries a fel sword known as the Bleeding Blade, a seemingly unique artifact of the most recent Legion invasion. At the base of the blade, a shrivelled, crystalline heart meekly pumps blood which is then drained into the blade. If the blood isn't siphoned, it always drips with green poison, the effects of which include heightened aggression, an inability to decipher friend from foe, hallucination, and bloodlust. Gahnder, instead, drains the blade of its fel power constantly, channelling that into low level, passive wards.
Physical Features: Gahnder is a frail forsaken, constantly hunched, slow to move even if he's fast with his mouth. How much of that is true to form, however, and how much is theatrics is hard to tell for a former man of the circus. His hair is spindly and grey, long like it was in life, though some chunks have come free where pieces of his scalp have flaked off. His eyes glow yellow like most forsaken, though, when he's casting they shift to a bright green. When casting, Gahnder's body is riddled with tears and cuts, his skin splitting open and revealing black ichor and rotted muscles that glow a fetid green. He is able to heal back these wounds and typically does so swiftly, but in the heat of battle he can ravage his undead form with the power of his fel casting. 
Special Abilities: Gahnder is a master of fel magic, with a specific focus on the demonology subschool in his later years. While the blazing fires of destruction and the entropic corruption of affliction appealed to him as a young, criminal enforcer, in his old age and subsequent undeath he specializes most often in summoning demons to fight on his behalf. He does not, however, keep a demon around him at all times, preferring only to summon a fel companion in the heat of a fight or when one might arise. Aside from the benefit of his enchanted weaponry, Gahnder carries another powerful benefit: the shard of a dreadlord's soul that he's bound to his own. This provides him with a greater engine of fel power than a typical warlock might sport. He is, however, less than capable than most in combat scenarios. While some of the demonic spells and rituals he knows, indeed some that he crafted himself, can be exceedingly useful and require prodigous amounts of power, very few of them are useful in combat. 
Religion/Philosophy: Gahnder despises religion, finding it to be a tool used by the powerful nobility to subjugate and oppress the commonfolk with their consent. He has believed since he was a child in the carnival that the dedication the commonfolk have for the Light is simply a tool that nobles use ensure their cooperation and protect their own rule, often rule gained (in Gahnder's view) by engaging in the unchivalrous duplicity that the Light would despise. Philosophically, Gahnder believes that knowledge, even terrible knowledge, is truly good and ignorance is truly evil. He is skeptical of anyone that looks to stifle the acquisition of knowledge, since such a mindset is often so destructive, and does everything that he can to acquire and preserve knowledge. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Gahnder finds the social structure of many Azerothian societies and kingdoms abhorent, specifically the House of Nobles in Stormwind, Gilneas, Lordaeron, Arathi, and Alterac. He sees them almost universally as corrupt oppressors, even those that acknowledge the unfairness of the system considered disdainful unless they actively work to dismantle and undermine the system. 
Positive Personality Traits: Clever, experienced and jovial, Gahnder easily finds himself falling into advisory roles in his old age and undeath. Ambition and determination still keep him committed to certain personal goals, but rarely does he wish to return to the kind of leadership that he gave up twice with his criminal syndicate. Gahnder thinks laterally, often finding simple solutions to complex problems, catching opponents unawares and giving unconventional advice to those that seek his input. He is also generous with his time, his money and his influence, especially and exclusively for those that are downtrodden in society, working with them to both undermine the systems that oppress and build up systems to better support.
Negative Personality Traits: While a life as a criminal has kept him mercifully out of prison and off the chopping block thus far, it has manifested in Gahnder a series of character traits that hamper his ability to live. The decision to sell his soul being an impulsive one, Gahnder has forever after practiced caution in all things, which has closed him off from people around him. He never married, barely ever finding a man or woman to share his life with even casually. Love, to Gahnder, is something for other people. He has friends, but few that know the depths of his secrets. There must always be a secret account, a nest egg hidden away in case someone close to him was compromised. Every relationship he enters must include an escape route that allows him to cut off all ties, perhaps worse, in the worst case scenarios. His criminal nature has also bred a ruthlessness into him, willing to implore horrific magic at the drop of a hat with barely a hint of remorse. He has murdered many men and women, tortured others, committed atrocities that few alive even remember. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Gahnder loathes nobles and nobility. He was willing to weaponize many people in subversive efforts to destabilize nobles that crossed him and the worst terrors he's inflicted on individuals have been terrors against noblemen and women. 
Misc. Quirks: Gahnder enjoys smoking, both before and after his undeath. Gahnder was a soothsayer in his family's carnival and can perform quite a few performative feats of sleight of hand. Gahnder, like many underprivileged children, was illiterate until his late teens. Literacy became so important to him, however, that he became something of a polyglot. 
History: Born to a large, poor family of carnival folks in Gilneas City, Gahnder Rendler is the third oldest of four brothers. His family, essentially nomadic through the northern portion of the Eastern Kingdoms, didn't stay in Gilneas long, even though the young boy would pick up the accent due to his family. Instead, Gahnder and the Rendlers travelled from Stratholme to Strahnbad, from Brill to Aerie Peak, even trekking far south to Stormwind and the shires. Gahnder worked as a child in the carnival, first as an unseen and unheard pickpocket, before joining the performing members of his family as a soothsayer. But despite his protrayal as a wise beyond his years supernatural child with magic gifts, Gahnder possessed none. He'd heard stories of the great mages of Dalaran and magic academies all across the Eastern Kingdoms and sought desperately to escape his criminal life to go join one of them. 

And even though his parents wanted to keep him with the travelling family, they respected his wishes and allowed him to take Dalaran's stringent entrance exam for magical prowess. While he was clearly a bright boy, Gahnder didn't possess the magical aptitude necessary to join the academy and was denied three times under three separate aliases. By the fourth time, his deception had caught up with him and he was barred from attempting another application. All the while, the Rendler carnival travelled across the countryside bringing joy, laughter and mostly crime to whatever area they were in. 

The racket, as Gahnder's father had set it up, was simple. Enter a small town or village, case it for valuables, take contracts from the locals, learn what needed to be done and then, right as the carnival planned to leave, execute the planned crimes. By the time local guardsmen could respond, any suspects were already on the road moving to the next town or city to repeat the process. Soon, the carnival started picking up smuggling work from local cells of criminals, where it picked up its fame, fortune and name: The Black. 

By the time Gahnder was sixteen, the carnival was nothing more than a cover for the vast criminal enterprises of the Black, mostly from smuggling drugs, alchemical potions and poisons, weapons and forbidden knowledge from town to town. The black crates that the carnies used to house their contraband would become their staple, quickly allowing the team to logistically search and sort inventory. This would eventually catch up with Gahnder's father and uncles, however, as they opened up a midnight bazaar of banned books in Stratholme, they were attacked by a rival organization and slaughtered in the streets. 

Full of rage and anger, Gahnder plunged into the forbidden tomes of his family's supply, though he was completely unable to read a single one of them. Eventually, though, one of the tomes spoke to him. It could offer him power, the power to avenge his father, in exchange for his very soul. Young and impulsive, he eagerly accepted, unwittingly trading his soul to a dreadlord named Morchane, infiltrating Azeroth in preparation for the eventual invasion by the Burning Legion. In those days, without rigorous study, Gahnder felt he'd just been magically supplied the power of the mages of Dalaran. What was the difference? But the fel that flowed through him would end up being very different than the arcane magic of the Kirin Tor. 

Singlehandedly, Gahnder burst into the nest of thieves that had slaughtered his family, burning them alive with his newfound power, extracting a bloody toll for their transgression against his family. This act, using magic to kill for criminal gain, is practically unheard of given the restricted nature of the Kirin Tor. But the story of the inferno that Gahnder unleashes turns him into a specter of death and devastation within the criminal underworld of the Northern Kingdoms. This, he and his brothers decide, proves useful. 

Rallying the resources of the Black, Gahnder and his brothers jointly control the criminal enterprise and launch a bloody gang war that tears across every nation above the Thandol Span. While his brothers take on more central administrative roles, Gahnder acts as the chief Enforcer. Those that don't bow down receive a visit from the fledgling warlock that uniformly ends in blood. It takes more than ten years, but in that time the Black is able to transform itself from one, small criminal caravan to a sprawling network of cowed cells. During that time, Gahnder is not just content with killing sprees, instead, filling his downtime with thorough and careful examination of the new magical powers that he's been granted. Soon, he begins to understand the subconscious spellcasting that he's been gifted with, pick it apart, and put it back together. Doing so trains him, unwittingly, as one of the first human warlocks. 

It has also allowed him to train others, taking on acolytes to learn from him and act as a powerful group of enforcers. With a team, Gahnder is able to crush opposition to the Black and consolidate as much power for his brothers to wield as possible, though, it also draws the wrong kinds of attention. A body trail this bloody attracted action from local guards, and the Black was faced with a substantive crackdown by local guards, watches and even militias. One of his brothers was imprisoned for life in Gilneas for this and another was shot dead in the streets of Lordaeron by crude dwarven muskets. The third, fearing for his life, accepted exile in Kul Tiras rather than confront the realities of the war they'd brought on themselves. 

Left as the only Rendler brother in charge of the Black, Gahnder quickly withdrew from the fighting and redesigned the organization, establishing rules to their crime with the sole intention of evading this kind of attention that had crippled them. He invested his efforts in non-violent crime, rejoining the carnival and overhauling its smuggling efforts. Setting up fighting rings where brave fighters could bet on winners and the Black played bookie. Even teaching and training forbidden magics, arcane, fel and even necromantic to circumvent the monopoly of the academies in Dalaran. But, most importantly, Gahnder created a protection racket against the nobility. 

Convincing commonfolk to pay in a pittance each in exchange for cruel lords, Gahnder was able to reap windfalls of gold simply as insurance against nobles that could turn particularly brutal or mean. Suddenly, their most profitable venture was waiting to see if nobles would act particularly poorly. But when they did, Gahnder was ruthless. At first, his tactics were direct and straightforward. Send a group of enforcers, kill everyone and everything, burn the estate to the ground. But soon, he became more subtle and nuanced. Arrange for a hunting accident. Stage a suicide. Seduce with a prostitute. Forge paperwork. By the time Gahnder was forty, he had turned the Black around, made it a part of the bedrock of human kingdoms. If your lord mistreated you, go to the Black. If you were afraid your lord might mistreat you, go to the Black. Even if you think that your lord is a good man, go to the Black just in case. 

The one nut that Gahnder was unable to crack, however, was Stormwind. Unlike in Lordaeron, there was something about the faith in the Wrynn Kings that made it hard for him to convince a single peasant to fork over a copper piece. STill, he prioritized setting up smuggling routes between Lordaeron and Stormwind since that was the next big windfall, if he could only secure the territory. That windfall came, but in a way they never expected. 

At the outbreak of the First War, there was an insane demand for evacuations of civilians to the safety of the North, and there was no better organization to handle that than a criminal enterprise running stealthy smuggling caravans from Lordaeron to Stormwind and back for years. It would be free, Gahnder ordered, the service of evacuating the refugees, but crucially the smuggling teams had orders to loot as much value from the south that they could find. Part scavengers picking through the aftermath of orcish attacks, part underground rescuers whisking civilians out of the bloodshed, The Black got both a tailwind of goodwill and cash that would allow them to grow even larger. 

By the end of the Second War, Gahnder is able to use the returning refugees as his open door to establish fighting rings, protection rackets and smuggling operations in Stormwind, especially taking advantage of the devastation to almost entirely refocus their operations in Stormwind. The rise of the Defias make sure that Gahnder and the Black stay out of the cross-hairs of Stormwind's guard, since running a few brothels and fighting pits isn't nearly as bad as the cartel ransoming of Edwin Van Cleef. And when the Third War devastates his former base of Lordaeron, the Black is mercifully wounded, but not killed by Arthas. Instead, he provides the same service of evacuating refugees and takes up leadership in a logging camp east of Goldshire as the new base of operations.

But, as always, there is discontent and unrest among his ranks. One of his most powerful enforcers, a mage named Antros, has watched Gahnder close off profitable pieces of the organization for years. First? Paid hits. Second? Kidnapping and ransom. Third? Drugs. Gold sitting on the table for them to take, Antros believes. When an attack by a new, lethal fighting force of Knights convinces Gahnder to discontinue the forbidden magic teachings that he himself started, Antros rallies those who believe the Black could be swimming in gold if only they let the old man's rules go and strikes. Fortunately, Gahnder was able to direct these Knights after Antros, crushing the rebellion in his ranks and gaining a powerful ally in law enforcement to boot. 

However, even the promise of The Black's ascendance left Gahnder feeling empty. Hollow. Soulless. When he was a younger man, reveling in his warlock powers had been easy. He had little conception for the timeless march of death and the oblivion that awaited him if he passed without possession of his soul. Worse still, the Dreadlord that held it was dead. After attempting to corrupt a noble house in the same way Gahnder had been corrupted, the Torchsight family had defeated the Dreadlord and shattered his soul into dozens of pieces. Using demonic inscription that Gahnder unwittingly sold them, Morchane's soul was imprisoned among all members of the Torchsight family above twelve. If he wanted to regain his lost soul, Gahnder would need to find a way to reunite Morchane and defeat him in the Twisting Nether, using magic no warlock on Azeroth had ever used. It was a task he set himself to diligently, devising dozens of rituals and occult spells necessary to complete the task and reclaim his soul.

With his newfound allies in law enforcement willing to use his information to target the worst of his competition, Gahnder fought a brutal proxy war through the Brotherhood of the Sword to dominate areas of the Eastern Kingdoms that had long eluded him. The pirates of Booty Bay, cowed first by the Knight's attacks and then follow up strikes from Gahnder's enforcers, capitulated first. They weren't the bloodsails or the Blackwater Raiders, but having a faction at play in the steamwheedle haven was good enough. Next, Gahnder claimed the crown jewel of the Alliance, uniting the Black with the criminal operations of the dwarves in Ironforge. They were stubborn, willful and rebellious even after bowing to his control, but never stepped far enough over the line that Gahnder was willing to act. He even reached across the faction line, enlisting an up and coming Blood Elf in Silvermoon and funneling resources to him give the Black a piece of the barely rebuilding blood elf nation. 

Just as he was finally gearing up to extend himself across the sea to Kalimdor, however, Gahnder was approached by one of their own with an offer of her own. Alurea Shadowvale, the leader of an ancient Night Elf syndicate of information brokers and weapons deals, had just solidified control of large Night Elf territories and was in need of funding to expand. Gahnder, fresh off the acquisition of these new cartels and more flush with cash than ever, was more than happy to oblige. But, most importantly, Gahnder recognized in Alurea something he had yet to see in any of his other subordinates: someone that could succeed him. 

That succession would require clockwork planning. First, he executed a plan he had set in motion more than ten years earlier: the eradication of the Torchsight family and the forced reconstitution of Morchane. Enlisting a bloodthirsty, anti-nobility paladin, Gahnder was able to have every single member of the Torchsight family save one killed. Then, with careful, subtle manipulations, he sent the remaining Torchsight, bearing the final ward keeping Morchane from reforming in the Twisting Nether, to himself in a shack in the Western Plaguelands. There, he conducted his ritual, freed Morchane and confronted his disembodied soul in the Nether. 

Even as a 72 year old warlock, more than fifty years of experience with fel magic, against a dreadlord that had been held at bay for decades with a shattered soul, it was the fight of Gahnder's life. But it was one he had cautiously, meticulously planned for, and one that he won. Gahnder shattered Morchane's weakened soul into nothing, pulling as many pieces of the dreadlords power into himself as possible and, finally, attaining the thing he'd been missing all this time: the soul he sold as a teenager. 

Reunited with it, at the height of his power with the Dreadlord's might added to his own, Gahnder did the only thing he could think of: leave the Black to Alurea and retire to the countryside to live out the rest of his days. It was peaceful. He read nearly one book per day, travelling to and from Hearthglen and Light's Hope whenever he needed more. He had a nest egg for himself, quite a fortune, in the Bank of Dalaran just in case he needed it, but otherwise kept to himself. An old man, living out his days, tucked away in the foothills south of Hearthglen. 

Then, he died.

A group of Deathstalkers were hunting an Alliance thief that had made off with patrol routes for the forsaken in Andorhal, heading North to try and find amnesty in Hearthglen. Too clever for his own good, the thief headed up the road, then doubled back, hoping to trick his pursuers and escape for good. Knocking on Gahnder's door and pretending to be a weary traveller, he was invited inside and treated to fresh herb to smoke and strong tea, but even as they enjoyed themselves the unfooled Deathstalkers crept closer and closer to Gahnder's cottage. When the pair went to sleep, a cannister of poisonous gas was lobbed through an open window. Both men died in their sleep. 

Gahnder awoke, as all forsaken did, in Deathknell. He was offered the choice to join Lady Sylvanas' people and readily accepted. What other choice did he have? Become Horde, another one of the forsaken, or perish forever. In truth, Gahnder had been lucky. If he had died with his soul lost to Morchane, it would have been impossible to resurrect him at all. But just as he was skeptical of the nobles in the Alliance, Gahnder was skeptical of Sylvanas and the Horde. She wasn't a noble and a product of that corrupt structure, indeed, by all accounts she was well liked among the forsaken. But she was also no leader that he trusted, either. 

Nominally a member of the Horde, Gahnder relocated almost permanently to Dalaran, given that was where his fortune lay. He bought a small, struggling printing press tucked in a cobblestone corner of the city and began to collect, write and read as much as he could. If there was any benefit to being forsaken, it was the lack of needing to sleep. He tore through as many tomes as he possibly could before finding himself running dry, which of course prompted Gahnder to recognize that a whole new collection of knowledge was open to him, now. The Horde's. He travelled to Thunder Bluff and Silvermoon, the Undercity and finally Orgrimmar, tearing through libraries for as many rare tomes as he could find before joining a small guild in Orgrimmar. He swore some oaths, made some pledges, but his goal was their vast library, full to the brim with rare and exotic books to sate him for months. That guild was Sanctuary, and he became more and more attached to it over time. 

These days, Gahnder is content to advise others on their path, now that he has highlighted his own. He answers the call to battle when there is some great knowledge to learn, like journeying to Argus and getting his hands on texts straight from the Legion's secret stash. But otherwise, he keeps to himself, holed up in his dusty, smoky bookshop at the back of a winding caul de sac. He'd had enough adventure in his life, perhaps there was no better plan than to leave it to the youngfolk. 

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