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Dream-Picker

Dream-Picker and Wind-in-the-Leaves

Argent is a half-man, half-wolf hybrid that has confounded scientists. According to Argent he is over 300 years old, and was once a man. Argent was not his real name, but was instead given to him as the wolf by a journalist. He started his life as a member of the Algonkin tribe somewhere in Canada, and was named Never-Cries. Since childhood he was close to a beautiful young girl around his age named Wind-In-The-Leaves. At the age of eleven he began to have violent dreams. These dreams identified that he would grow up to be a shaman of his people--restricted to never enjoying many of duties or privileges of his tribe including marriage. He was renamed Dream-Picker to reflect his calling.

There was some tension between him and the tribe's current shaman, Dog Leg, and his apprentice, Eagle Scratch. They were out of touch with the true spirit and were jealous of his abilities.

When Dream-Picker reached the appropriate stage in his training he was sent off to have his vision quest and find his spirit-guide. Dream-Picker waited for days in the sun without food or water, starving, and with no spirit-guide in site. Days later Maslun, the god of death, appeared to him. Maslun had the form of a wolf and chased Dream-Picker through the forest and back to his tribe. It took months for him to be nursed back to help. In the process some of the other shaman wanted to bleed him, but Wind-In-The-Leaves wouldn't let them and took him back to her own home to continue nursing.

Argent as a tool of vengeance

During his healing a sickness had come into their tribe. Dog Leg and Eagle Scratch believed that Dream-Picker had brought it back with him from his vision quest and they exiled him. He hoped to brave the winter and find his spirit, which would allow him to come back. Wind-In-The-Leaves promised to visit him, but did not throughout the entire harsh winter.

Upon the coming of spring, Dream-Picker found Wind-In-The-Leaves stumbling through the forest near his lodge. She needed water, and was running out of energy. During the winter the tribe had been stricken with the illness that had arrived earlier, and many were dead. The shaman blamed Wind-In-The-Leaves for nursing Dream-Picker back to health. They decided that they needed to sacrifice her to Maslun as a bride so she ran away. The two remained together for only a short period of time. Dream-Picker prayed for a way to get back at the villagers. In the evening he and Wind-In-The-Leaves would make love for the first time. They were kidnapped as they slept and brought back to the village. As Dream-Picker came in and out of consciousness he realized that his beautiful Wind-In-The-Leaves had been murdered. As he slipped back into unconsciousness he dreamed of the Wolf exacting its revenge on the people of the tribe that had killed her. As the wolf was killing he saw its face--and it was his own. He awoke part man, part wolf. He was Maslun's spreader of death and spirit of vengeance. In his rage he had killed the entire tribe. He went into the woods again, alone.

The Wolf

As the white man began to dominate the country, he continued to hunt and kill from the shadows. As white society grew up around him people feared him, believing him to be a wolfman, or even the legendary Wendigo. At one point he came upon a descendant of a shaman and could sense in him the power to free himself. The native he stalked eventually tapped into Dream-Picker's psyche and understood what he wanted. He planned to control this animalistic force, hoping to use Dream-Picker to destroy the white men that killed his people. He put a beautiful half Native American girl in danger hoping to remind Dream-Picker of Wind-In-The-Leaves. A group of white men came upon the scene and killed the girl. This pushed Dream-Picker out of control and he slaughtered the lot of them, and more. He decided that his answers were no longer to be found in solitude. He ventured closer to the cities of white men hoping to find a way to either free himself, or end his own life.

Argent in the city

Argent remained in the shadows, living out of public view in abandoned housing. At some point he was given the name Argent. In these large cities Argent would find a consistent underground society, and would be able to take his aggression out on the filth and depraved of society. He was provoked not only by Maslun, but by the spirits of the dead that haunted him. The spirits of everyone he had killed was retained by Maslun, and was bound to him. In fact, the only spirit he could not talk to was Wind-in-the-Leaves; the other spirits said that if he ever saw her again, he would have to kill her, or she would kill him. The only way they would be together again was if they died together.

He was next drawn to Evan St. Clair. Evan was partly Native American, and a homosexual. Argent saved Evan one evening when he was being attacked by a group of skinheads, and later sought Evan out again feeling his power. Evan took pity on Argent, and allowed the great Wolf to live with him. Evan would grow to love Argent, but knew that Argent could only feel hate, rage, and pain. Still, he seemed to become humanized to some degree by living with Evan.

Argent first heard of Grendel (the alter ego of brilliant author Hunter Rose) when the police asked him to deal with Grendel by contacting a potential mole in his organization, Barry Palumbo. Upon hearing Grendel's name the voices in his head went off with alarm, screaming for Argent to kill Grendel.

Argent contacted Palumubo, a real estate mogul, who said he would help to set a trap for Grendel. Argent could smell Barry's lies on him, and knew that he was treacherous, but worked with him anyway hoping that even a trap might smoke Grendel out.

It was during a meeting with Barry that Argent met Barry's adopted niece, Stacy Palumbo. Stacy was not afraid of Argent, and her beauty and innocence reminded him of his lost love, Leaves-In-The-Wind. Argent continued to visit Stacy with great regularity, becoming something of an Uncle to her. Evan knew that this was bad, and that his relationship left him exposed, but Argent would not listen to reason.

Grendel

Barry threw a party one night, and at that time met with both Argent and Grendel to seal their deals. Argent left to go home. Then, when he was about to go meet Grendel at the planned location of the trap, some mercenaries hired by Palumbo started shooting at him. Argent dodged the bullets and ran off. Argent would have been shot, if not for Evan who stopped the assassins with his own handgun. Evan was severely beaten by the men but lived, although he never saw Argent again.

At the party, Barry was poisoned by Hunter Rose. Stacy was the first to find Barry's body. She screamed, and Hunter Rose found her over her uncle's body. In order to save her, he attempted to spirit her away from the party as Grendel. Most likely knowing who ordered the hit, Argent went to Barry's home, the voices of the dead screaming out for him to kill. Argent found Grendel leaving the scene with young Stacy's body. For the first time, the voices of the dead spirits that haunted him finally stopped talking.

Enraged that his enemy had Stacy, Argent stopped Grendel, who put Stacy's body in a safe place and began to fight. Grendel enjoyed the game the two were involved in, and Argent felt an immense hatred for Grendel. Grendel was able to wound Argent with his electrified, fork-bladed staff, and left Argent with the Palumbo's garden ablaze. Grendel returned Stacy's body and go back as Hunter Rose. A bottle of cyanide pills was discovered on Barry's girlfriend, planted by Hunter Rose. Argent was rescued by the police, and later testified at the trial that convicted and sentenced Barry's ex-girlfriend to death.

Argent and Stacy

Directly after the conviction Hunter Rose applied for adoption of Stacy, becoming her legal guardian. After Stacy's adoption, Argent would continue to visit Stacy. He would often do so before Rose would come home for the evening so that the two could be alone. He liked to tell her stories, and she loved to hear them. Sometimes they would be thinly veiled metaphors for his struggle with Grendel. In turn, she would tell him stories from her rampant imagination. She loved his fuzziness, and he loved that she was one of the only people he could feel kind with. Rose used this fact to his advantage, and would occasionally come home before he was expected in order to run into Argent. He would then drop hints to Argent about their upcoming social engagements to ensure that Argent would also be there. Argent had no idea of the cat and mouse game that Rose as Grendel would continue to play with him. Argent would continue working with the police tracking Grendel, hoping to bring down his growing empire, but they would always remain one step behind the masked mastermind.

In one early encounter, Grendel telephoned Argent to let him know that he was going to kill Everett Christie, a city councilman, because of his involvement with underage prostitutes. Argent tried to stop him, but arrived too late. They fought; Argent killed several of Grendel's henchmen, but was wounded by Grendel's fork once again. Grendel had to leave without Christie's personal ledgers, however, because Argent guarded them too closely.

In another incident, Argent stalked some drug dealers, hoping to ambush Grendel. He killed and partially ate one of them in order to intimidate the others into staying. Grendel showed up and they battled. Once again Grendel managed to hurt Argent enough so that Argent couldn't keep up with him as they raced around the factory, and he mockingly ran away.

Hunter Rose and Argent

In one of the books that Argent's associate Albert Wiggins wrote in his later years, he told a story in which Argent was tipped off about a scheme to control the diamond market and also rip off Grendel. Argent, assuming that Grendel would not take lightly to this, showed up to confront him. They fought, and Grendel was able to keep Argent on the defensive through feints and attacks. Then Grendel lit the building on fire and escaped. This story may be true, or Wiggins may have made it up.

Fall From Grace

Argent falls

At one point the police received a tip about a contracted hit that Grendel had accepted. This was out of character given that Grendel had not done hits for others for quite some time, but Argent as well as the police believed the legitimacy of the information, and decided to set a trap for Grendel. The hit was to take place during a large party at the home of the intended target. Rose, Stacy, and many key social figures would attend. There was a plainclothes police guard stationed at the entrance to the property, and if Grendel was able to get by he would have to deal with the Wolf who was stalking the grounds. During the party Argent caught Grendel's scent on the roof, and when he arrived he found a projection of Grendel standing above a ceiling window. Believing the holographic image to be the real thing Argent lunged, crashing through the window. He came sprawling ungracefully through the air above the room where the main party was being held. Party goers, members of the media, and most importantly Stacy Palumbo watched Argent's plummet to the ground. This was a sight that Stacy would never get over. Argent would never look the same to her again.

Argent attempted to keep up his relationship with young Stacy, but she remained scarred by the sight of his fall. The two quickly fell out of contact and stopped speaking altogether. Hunter Rose had accomplished his goal of using Stacy as a tool to get to Argent, but was perhaps too successful. At the loss of Argent, Stacy became depressed again. Argent became angrier, more violent and more vicious. Argent took out his rage on those in Grendel's empire that were unfortunate enough to be found. Grendel continued to battle the police. In one particular encounter, Argent ambushed Grendel while he was overseeing a drug shipment. Grendel taunted him with classic poetry during their battle, and Argent took out his anger on Grendel's hired hands, slaughtering them in a bloody mess. Grendel would continue to grow more powerful, eventually making a coordinated hit of mob bosses across the entire seaboard in order to secure control over an even wider dominion.

Argent showed no compunction in following the letter or even the spirit of the law when it came to pursuing Grendel. Argent brutally tortured a Grendel lackey, pulling off his earring, biting off his fingers, and clawing through his nostril. Grendel showed up and killed the lackey before he could spill any information.

Argent's desire to find Grendel became so great that he resorted to the limited magical abilities of a part-time bookie to divine his location. Told that he would need the eyes of someone who had seen Grendel, Argent went right into the jail cell of a Grendel associate and pulled off the entire top half of his skull and brought it back to the magician. Unfortunately the spell did not have the desired effect; instead of finding Hunter Rose, he had a hallucination of his early conflict with Maslun, who then in his dream transformed into the spirit of Grendel, saying that they were the same being. When Argent asked why he had been cursed, Maslun pointed out that Argent himself had asked for it when he screamed for power for revenge upon his tribe. Horrified by this dream, Argent killed the bookie who had cast the spell.

Eventually Stacy discovered the truth about her "Uncle Hunter", and later his role in her father's death. She continued to learn everything she could about Grendel, and even discovered how to gain access to Rose's private journals and logs. These documents provided detailed information about his daily dealings as well as his plans. She would use this information to bring down Barry's killer. Because she never truly got over watching Argent's fall, she would use Argent as a tool against Rose. She began to play the role of an anonymous informant, phoning in tips about Grendel's current and future dealings to Argent's private line at the police station. Argent would act upon these tips in his normal violent fashion, appearing to almost know Rose's moves as Grendel before he had even planned them himself.

Stacy continued her role as informant, and Argent's feud with Grendel continued to heat up. Finally one evening Stacy decided to put her plans fully in motion. After Rose had left for the evening, Stacy called Argent's number as herself, frantic and crying that Grendel was attempting to kidnap her. She cut the line, causing Argent to panic. Eventually, after the her phone stopped ringing, Stacy phoned in to Argent again, this time as the anonymous informant with information about where Grendel could be found. Argent went to this operation, and tore a bloody swath through it. He left only one person alive to pass a message to Grendel. When Grendel received this message only a few hours later he angrily contacted Argent. Police records show that their phone call was heated, with Argent momentary shocking Grendel by accusing Grendel of taking Stacy. The two arranged to meet once and for all at the rooftop of the Masonic Temple.

Grendel vs Argent

Little is known about exactly what happened during their encounter. The police would arrive on the scene much later. Grendel and Argent had fought their final battle. Both seriously wounded, they spent some time talking about their respective origins and loves. They had both been shaped by the love of a dead woman, and both loved Stacy. Rose compared their personal philosophies, saying that they were very much alike, and that they had probably racked up comparable bodycounts, but Argent hotly disputed any similarity. Rose saw himself as the epitome of skill and grace, and Argent as the paragon of brutality and might. Ultimately, Rose said, "you growl with remorse, whilst I laugh with disdain."

The police found Argent, paralyzed from having his spine severed by Grendel's blade. Nearby Argent they found the unmasked body of Hunter Rose, deceased from their encounter. After finally slaying his nemesis, Argent would go into seclusion. He would not provide interviews, instead choosing to live in the darkness of his home overlooking the park.

Argent would remain unheard from until Grendel's return decades later. Stacy was institutionalized for her role in the ordeal, and had a child, Christine Spar, while in the institution. Christine grew up to become a reporter with a husband and son. Christine sought out her mother to find closure, but instead discovered more about her legacy. She already had lived with the title of "Grendel's granddaughter", but her mother disclosed the location of Rose's original journals hidden on that fateful night so long ago. Christine used these, the only true accounts from Rose about his life as Grendel, to become the foremost expert on her grandfather's criminal legacy, even publishing a book about him entitled Grendel: Devil by the Deed.

When Christine's son Anson Spar was kidnapped and murdered by the vampiric kabuki Tujiro XIV, Christine stole Hunter Rose's original costume and weapon, adopting the mantle of Grendel in order to help her get back at her son's killer.

The Devil's Return

The moment that Christine donned her grandfather's costume as the newest in the Grendel line of succession, Argent stirred. His curse and his deep connection with his foe allowed him to feel that his nemesis had somehow returned. His connection with the police allowed him to investigate Spar. With the help of police Captain Albert Wiggins, Argent tracked Christine as she traveled across the country in search of Tujiro. He harassed her closest friends in order to try to get close to her, and tapped their phones hoping to catch Christine. She denied it but he knew that she was Grendel. Argent was sharp; he could tell when she was manipulating her friends and the police. His old rivalry with Grendel was bringing him back into his prime. However, his relationship with the police was still tense; Wiggins was at odds with him on the strategy they should follow in trying to apprehend Spar. Argent argued for a much more aggressive tack while Wiggins was in favor of treading more lightly, considering their lack of evidence.

Argent accuses Chris

When Christine had battled Tujiro and won she returned to New York from San Francisco. When she arrived back Argent had the police pick her up at the airport. The searched her luggage as well as her apartment, but Christine had anticipated this. They could find no proof that she was now Grendel, and Argent became enraged. Argent brought in Christine's boyfriend Brian Li Sung for questioning, and made no attempt in hiding the fact that he had Brian's hotel room searched or the apartment of Christine's best friend Regina Anastasi. She tracked down and killed police Detective Riley, an overzealous San Francisco police officer that tracked down Brian in connection with the Grendel appearances and murders in San Francisco. Riley beat Brian when he found him, and paid for it with his life. Christine was fed up with the police and Argent meddling with her life and the lives of those she cared about. Her next targets would be Captain Wiggins and Argent himself.

Christine began the evening by planting a bomb on Wiggins's police cruiser. She wanted to stay and watch him die, but had more important things to do. Wiggins did not die in the explosion, some fellow officers entered the car before him. Christine then went to Argent's home. It turned out that he lived off Central Park near the Dakota, where Hunter used to live: even all these years later, he was still obsessed with Rose. She found that Argent was waiting for her, casting the ancient spells of his people in preparation of Grendel's arrival. The spell allowed him to regain the use of his legs.

Christine Spar battles Argent

Argent and Christine battled there in Argent's home. By this point she had become much more experienced in properly wielding her grandfather's instruments and costume, and she was extremely deadly. The two were vicious, fighting one another out of pure rage and hate. Argent broke her staff, and she used a nearby candelabra as a weapon against the Wolf. She also blasted him with the jets on his hoverchair, blinding him. Finally the battle ended with the two simultaneously striking a killing blow, Argent slashing Christine's neck and side, and Christine running Argent through with the double bladed tip of her broken staff. The two died before Captain Wiggins, the police, Regina, and Brian Li Sung could arrive. Argent had destroyed Hunter Rose's original Grendel costume and weapon, the first heir to Hunter's legacy, and with Christine's help he finally destroyed himself.

Wiggins looked at his body with ambiguous emotions. On the one hand, Argent had clearly been right about the resurgence of Grendel, and had accomplished many things. On the other hand, it was still hard for any human to see him without thinking he was a physical abomination, and without being repulsed by his aggression.

Powers and Abilities

Due to Argent's curse, his man-wolf form gives him certain abilities. Aside from his bloodlust, Argent's strength, speed, reflexes, and agility are enhanced beyond that of a normal human. He has been described as being able to move so quickly that a witness could only see a blur.

Due to his wolf-like nature he also possesses berserker strength that comes out during a fight. He can easily crush a skull in one hand, or pull an arm off a body, and frequently does.

He has razor sharp claws as well as teeth, and has enhanced senses much like a wolf. Because of his natural advantages, Argent fights unarmed.

Argent is also extremely stealthy, occasionally managing to get the jump on the original Grendel, Hunter Rose. He could also sense Grendel's presence to a degree, knowing at one point when Christine Spar took on the mantle of Grendel.

He possesses extreme longevity. He was at least 300 years old at the time of his death, and had not seemed to age at all during that time.

As a human, Argent was training to be a shaman, and frequently had prophetic dreams. He also knew about natural healing medicines.

He was skilled at police work, being able to process complex evidence and make quick, effective decisions based on it. He was a very effective interrogator.

Other Versions

In the original Grendel story, which is not fully canon now because its stories have often been retold in other forms since then, Dream-Picker was a pacifist and decided to leave his tribe on his own, purely due to philosophical conflicts. The tribe then had its rash of fevers, totally unrelated to him, and Dog Leg planned to sacrifice Wind-in-the-Leaves. She ran to him. Then Maslun took her to his realms directly (the tribe didn't kill her) and cursed Dream-Picker to become Argent as punishment for sheltering his due sacrifice. This contrasts with the current storyline, where Dream-Picker was hounded by Maslun all his life, and called on him for power to get his revenge. Therefore, in the first storyline he was angry at Maslun for killing Wind-in-the-Leaves and for turning him into Argent against his will. In the current storyline, the "curse" was really his own fault, and the tribe killed Wind-in-the-Leaves, not Maslun.

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