40. Pagaga Quo Vochstein
Challenge Accepted (7, 28)
Birthplace: Neimrahava, Dalmasca
The house of Vochstein is known in Ala Mhigo for producing many skilled beastmasters. They specialize in the breeding and training of griffins, and those they have raised were much beloved by members of the royal family. As griffins offer their riders an unrivaled degree of mobility and are stalwart allies on the battlefield, they had a central role in Ala Mhigo's beastmaster battalion. In light of their achievements in the raising of griffins, the Vochsteins were made members of the nobility, and though their status paled in comparison with more established houses, they served the nation diligently.
So loyal were they to the royal family, that when Garlemald invaded Ala Mhigo, Cairm, the head of the Vochsteins, chose to let free the griffins he and his kin had raised rather than allow them to fall into the hands of the imperials. It is a tragic tale still told by the people of Ala Mhigo to this day.
Once the nation had succumbed to Garlean rule, the Vochsteins vehemently refused to serve the Empire, stating that the griffins of Gyr Abania must only be used for the good of Ala Mhigo and her people and should never become tools of the oppressors. The XIIth Legion would have executed Cairm were it not for one of his sons, Ganpp, requesting to join the imperial army. He was known for his wild temperament and uncontrollable nature, but he was also the most gifted beastmaster of all of Cairm's sons. In exchange for Ganpp joining the XIIth Legion and sharing with them his family's methods of griffin training, Cairm was released.
The fact that his family's name was in tatters and he was branded a traitor was of little concern to Ganpp, and he threw himself into the work of raising griffins. However, his coarse and haughty demeanor made him extremely unpopular among the XIIth Legion. Eventually, stories of the rambunctious newcomer reached Legatus Gabranth of the IVth Legion, who took Ganpp off of their hands in order to bolster his own battalion of beastmasters.
Being transferred to a new legion did naught to curb Ganpp's insolence, until he finally met his match. During a mock battle in which the IVth Legion's beastmasters were pitted against each other, Ganpp was clearly outclassed by Lyon, the Beast King. Not one to take such defeats lying down, Ganpp later challenged Lyon to various contests, all of which he subsequently lost. He became despondent and sullen, which only served to widen the rift between him and his fellow soldiers.
A pivotal moment came when troops of the IVth Legion had driven a group of Dalmascan rebels into the Neimrahava Woods. His commanding officer gave the order to set fire to the forest, but Ganpp refused, claiming that it would lead to the deaths of countless woodland creatures. These words fell on deaf ears, and when his fellow imperials set about lighting fires, he separated from the rest of his battalion and raced into the forest. His griffin discovered a helpless young Lalafellin girl who appeared to be one of the inhabitants, and though Ganpp normally had little interest in other people, he heeded the griffin's cries and rescued her from the blaze.
It soon became clear that she had been left to fend for herself in the wild, and she was utterly unable to communicate, let alone read or write. Ganpp named her Pagaga and decided to care for her as though she were his own. Although she did all she could to turn him away and refuse his affection, the look in her eyes told him all she wanted was to be loved. Perhaps she reminded Ganpp of himself.
Upon returning to the legion, Ganpp was charged with disobeying orders and absence without leave. Though this was enough to have him executed, Lyon recognized Ganpp's potential and requested a more lenient sentence. He was instead punished by flogging, and after being thrashed to within an ilm of his life, he was sent back to the stables. For three days and three nights he battled with a raging fever, and he may have died were it not for the kind ministrations he received from none other than Pagaga.
Having survived his ordeal, Ganpp was a changed man. Any vestiges of his abrasive and repugnant former self had vanished, and he now treated others with kindness and respect. While some members of the legion thought his flogging had finally beaten some sense into him, Lyon was sure that it was Pagaga's devotion that helped Ganpp to see the good in people. During their time working alongside one another, Lyon and Ganpp brought great renown to the IVth Legion's beastmaster battalion.
It was not destined to last, however, as Ganpp's fighting days were cut short by an incurable illness. As he lay bedridden, he formally accepted Pagaga as his foster child, that she may bear the Vochstein name in his stead. As he breathed his last, she vowed to build upon her father's legacy by becoming the greatest beastmaster of them all, and one day surpass Lyon himself.