Born sometime in the 9th century to European (Catholic) parents on the southern coast of the Iberian peninsula, I was called Diego at birth. To understand my origins however, you must first understand the way it was during this time.
Sometime in the previous century, the Nation of Islam, Muslim conquerors from North Africa under the leadership of Tariq ibn Ziyad, had invaded and taken control of most of the Iberian peninsula, the region that would one day become Spain. Shunned by the Holy Roman Empire as barbaric infidels, the Muslims were, in truth, extremely advanced. They had developed concepts in philosophy, math, and medicine that would not have occurred to their European neighbors for several hundred years. Outside of the true fanatic on either side, the Catholic people living in the region managed to coexist with the Muslim rulers for the most part, but the tension was always there.
It was in this world of fragile alliance that I was formed. When I was perhaps four or five years old, my father, a minor dignitary of the local Emir, was killed in a street fight. In order for my mother and I to receive care and a place to live from the Emir, we were required to convert to Islam. Living at court among the other Muslim children, I picked up the name Khalid, to such an extent that by my teens my mother was using it. Only a few of my most distant aquintances, seen only rarely and of little consequence, even remembered by given name.
Attending Muslim school with the other children at court, I quickly learned reading, writing, and arithmetic. As I grew into a man, I studied all the newest Arab scholars' works. Men such as al-Razi and al-Khwarizmi were expanding the horizons of learning to a remarkable degree. As a young adult, I traveled to the north coast of Africa and throughout much of Europe, taking in all I could. Along my path during this time, I came to rest, briefly, on the eastern coast of England. The blend of Anglo Saxon and Celtic cultures there, often tempered by the raids of the Vikings, was a mixture I found fascinating. Life there was savage and often short, but somehow rewarding in its simple codes. This sort of existence appeals to men on a level beneath conscious thought. For all my enlightend upbringing, perhaps I was still a barbaric tribesman somewhere in my soul.
After some time living in the northlands, I was studying at an Augustinian monastary when I met a band of travellers who would call to that part of my soul. Calling themselves Clan Nightwolf, they came to the village near the monastary and camped. Out of interest, I went to speak with them and found them to be an extraordinarily free people. Made up of people from all over the northlands, Anglo-Saxons, Celts (both Irishmen and Scots), Vikings, Goths, and an assortment of other characters, they lived free, part of no nation, of no religion. After a time, they befriended me and I came to love their core ideals of loyalty to the Clan and to one another. I had never been truly Catholic or Muslim. I had never been truly Spanish or Arabic. I was truly Nightwolf.
The story of my first encounter with them is an interesting one. Upon being introduced to the clan, and to their leader, Jonas Blackmane, they began to comment on the character of my height. Shrouded in black Arabic garb, face covered with the end of my turban, I appeared to them as a mythical figure known as the Yeti. I was much too thin to be a monster however, and I lacked the requisite shaggy coat. After some discussion and the discovery that I was from the south this led to the conclusion that in the warmer southern climes, a Yeti might look much like me. A Desert Yeti.
I serve the clan as a bit of a scholar, a cultural liason, and ambassador. They are my family. After some years with them, I remember my initial appearance to them. I was, in a light hearted way, a myth, a Yeti from the Desert appearing in the night. A manifestation of another place, of other ideals, but yet became very real to them. The Arabic word for manifest is zahir, usually used in reference to Allah, but fitting my circumstances well. Thus am I ...
Khalid al-Zahir, The Desert Yeti.