Aldulf (or possibly Ahdulf or Arwulf), better known in popular culture as the “Darkmage”, was one of the major ambient-magic magi of the last thousand years – and is a fairly complex figure; arguments still continue as to whether he was a “hero” or a “villain” (although most academics would avoid either term). He was born in England somewhere between 1020 and 1050 AD, apparently as a natural near-immortal – likely a low-grade psychic “mutant” drawing a trickle of energy from one of Earth’s planetary energy fields. From what little evidence is available he lived as a fairly ordinary peasant farmer for sixty or seventy years, until his agelessness spawned rumors of witchcraft and demonic pacts. The ensuring mobs forced him to flee into the wilderness and (possibly) led him to cultivate hedge wizardry. At some point around 1115-1140 AD Aldulf was captured by the Cult of Tyrannon, who attempted to use him as a host for an Aspect of Tyrannon the Conquerer. Aldulf – unlike normal human hosts – did not burn out and die from the power-overload. Astoundingly enough, he not only contained the power, but he also somehow (possibly with external aid) managed to resist Tyrannon’s will and escape the cult. For good or ill, however, he had been infused with a tiny portion of Tyrannon’s energies and would have to constantly resist Tyrannon’s attempts to subvert him.
With his new sorcerous powers Aldulf spent centuries opposing the Cult of Tyrannon – possibly equating Tyrannon with Satan (the Judeo-Christian imaginal avatar of evil, not to be confused with Satan II, the talk-show host). At some point he embarked on a campaign to seal various mystic nexi around the world to prevent the Cult of Tyrannon from tapping them – and reserving those energies strictly for his own use. Whether or not this was a good idea, and how much influence Tyrannon had on the decision if it was not, continue to be topics for scholarly analysis. During this period Aldulf gathered a considerable mystical library and a wide selection of mystical relics and devices as well. He was, however, apparently unable to learn any invocations save those associated with Tyrannon, which he refused to use.
When magic levels began to increase in the early 1900’s Aldulf’s arcane power increased at the same rate. By 1940 it was sufficient to join the White Necromancer, Blade, and the Indestructible Man in opposition to Nazi necromancy. By the 1990’s it had increased by a factor of several thousand over his original base – which he apparently found hard to handle (there is some evidence for him finding it “intoxicating”) and also increased the difficulty of resisting Tyrannon. By the 1990’s he was notably unstable – using his now-vast powers in ill-considered ways with ever-increasing recklessness, not least of which was joining the “superhero” group known as the Mandate. While he successfully dealt with the Wyrm Crown and the Seven Horsemen (among many other opponents), he also accidentally unleashed the Darkstorm on the Earth and was involved with several lesser, disasters – most notably the Kyinn Escape, some escapades with Oberon, and a mess with Huitzilopochtli. Most of the immediate effects of such episodes were, however, overshadowed by the attacks by the “mutant”-hunting machines from the Silver Twilight realm.
At some point during the Twilight War Aldulf lost his centuries-long battle against Tyrannons ever-increasing influence. Now effectively possessed he began to prepare what has become known as the “Darkstorm War” (the Darkstorm actually had very little to do with it, but there is little use in fighting popular terminology) – a global attempt to use the energy nexi he’d taken control of across the centuries to bring Tyrannon to Earth and place the world under his control. Once under Tyrannonj’s control, the Earth would be merged into Muspel. The war included some major disasters in China, a variety of planetary-scale magical manipulations (some opposed by Chi’an Lung) and at least one set of nuclear launches to divert his opponents.
The war concluded with a massive confrontation at the Eye of the World – a mystical weak point in the barriers between Earth and the Hundred Realms – between Aldulf/Tyrannon, a collection of cultists and allied villains, several groups of heroes, and not a few villains who’d elected to join the Earth’s defense – whether out of good sense or in pursuit of the amnesty and rewards that had been placed on Aldulf’s head.
During the battle against Tyrannon Aldulf’s comatose spirit was re-awakened by the massed efforts of several mystical heroes – and opted to depart for the higher realms, thus breaking Tyrannon’s link to Earth. The Mandate – first allies, then enemies, then allies again – conducted a funeral service for Aldulf at the Eye of the World, although little or no trace of his body remained.
While the “Hauntsman” – a member of the Mandate – took up the Wings of Nightmare (the one major artifact that Aldulf had used throughout his career) quite a few other devices and books of magic were claimed by the various victors after the battle, and several caches have been located since. Debate continues on whether or not it was wise of the Darkmage to seal away so much magic or whether it would have been better for the people of the earth to learn to deal with it gradually. Lacking a qualitative survey of alternate timelines that particular debate is likely to remain unresolved.
See Also: The Mandate, White Necromancer II, Night Watch, The Hauntsman, The Chauffeur, The Warlock, Chi’an Lung, Affrighter, and Artifacts (Darkmage).