Earl Harbinger is the Director of Operations at Monster Hunter International, and a member of the Shackleford Family. He leads MHI’s flagship team based in Cazador, Alabama, and oversees personnel matters such as transfers, promotions, training, and recruitment. Among the broader Monster Hunting community, Earl is considered to be one of the most experienced and well-respected Hunters alive.
Earl’s original name was Raymond Earl Shackleford, Jr., a fact which he generally keeps secret, except among close friends and family, or those of his employees that he works with most regularly. He became a werewolf when he was a young man and has aged slowly ever since. In order to pass himself off as human, he has occasionally changed his name and falsified his relationship with the rest of the family, and as a result is sometimes referred to as Julie’s uncle despite actually being her great-grandfather.
As the oldest and most powerful werewolf in the world, Earl is also known as the King of the Werewolves. Generally speaking, however, he avoids other werewolves, and has never lived in a pack. He does use his influence on other werewolves to instinctually encourage them to leave humans alone, but the instant one harms or threatens to harm another human, he doesn’t hesitate to kill them.
Other notable relations include his son Raymond Shackleford III, his father Bubba Shackleford, and his girlfriend Heather Kerkonen.
Earl Harbinger is one of a handful of individuals called Chosen Ones.
Personal Description Edit
Earl’s appearance has been described as average and unremarkable, but with an “old-school toughness” reminiscent of golden-age movie stars like Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney. He has short-cropped, sandy blond hair, icy blue eyes, and a square jaw. He stands just over 6 feet tall and is usually quite thin due to the fact that his body regularly uses up its energy reserves to fuel his rapid healing. Most people who meet him assume he is in his early or mid forties, based on appearance, though he is in fact more than one hundred years old. Since the events of Monster Hunter Alpha, he has also been missing one of his pinky fingers.
Earl is almost always seen wearing a brown leather bomber jacket, which was made from minotaur hide and is nearly indestructible. He frequently smokes cigarettes, especially when stressed or angry. His preferred weapon is an M1 Thompson built during the early 1940s, for which he has many backups, obtained as surplus weapons after the end of WWII. He typically carries twin snub-nose Smith & Wesson 625 revolvers as sidearms, which are kept loaded with MHI’s proprietary .45ACP silver rounds.
Early Life Edit
Raymond Earl Shackleford, Jr. was born in 1900 and took to monster hunting at an early age, killing his first monster when he was ten years old. He attended school for about three years, learning to read, and was raised a Southern Baptist at his mother's insistence. While still in his teens, he entered the United States Army and fought in the First World War, ultimately reaching the rank of corporal. He was a member of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) led by General John J. Pershing.
By the year 1925, Earl was married and had at least two children. While on a hunt, he received a bite that soon healed and was forgotten. However, one month later, at the full moon, he transformed into a beast and slaughtered a family of five. Quickly realizing that he had become a werewolf, he immediately tried to kill himself, but since MHI had never killed a werewolf he didn’t know that he was immune to lead bullets and survived the attempt. He switched to finding ways to remove the curse and began hunting the werewolf that had bitten him, due to an old wives’ tale which claimed that killing that werewolf could make him human again. He spent almost a year chasing the werewolf and eventually caught up with her in Cuba, but after killing her realized that the legend was untrue and he was still a werewolf.
He again made plans to kill himself, this time procuring a silver bullet for his revolver. Before he could finish the deed, he was stopped by a Catholic priest named Santiago, who was a former member of the Blessed Order of St. Hubert the Protector, a group dedicated to the study and hunting of monsters. Santiago claimed to know if instances in which werewolves had managed to control their instincts enough to live productive lives. Earl took up Santiago’s offer to teach him, and as a result lived the next three years alone on a small island while he trained.
In the spring of 1929, Santiago declared that the training was complete, and Earl hesitantly agreed to rejoin civilization. Unfortunately, at about the same time the local alpha werewolf discovered Earl's whereabouts and attempted to force him into his pack. Earl refused, and killed both the alpha and the other werewolf that was with him, but not before they were able to mortally wound Santiago.
He returned to Alabama soon after and reunited with his family, who accepted him to the best of their ability. They built a reinforced concrete cell on the grounds of the family mansion, into which he was locked during the three nights each month that he had no choice but to transform.
Military Service Edit
By the Second World War, the US government had learned that Earl was a werewolf, so they drafted him into a special task force that dealt with supernatural threats. He served extensively in Europe and North Africa with the OSS, and participated in the looting of Adolf Hitler’s experimental occult bunker. He was then sent to the Pacific and fought in Okinawa. In turn for his service, he was granted PUFF-exempt status, making him legally recognized as though he were a human being. After WWII, he was later called upon as a consultant in the Korean War, and afterwards returned home once more.
During the Vietnam War, Earl was once again drafted, this time into the CIA as a civilian consultant. He was given the code name Mr. Wolf and placed into a unit called Special Task Force Unicorn, or STFU, which consisted of various humans from multiple branches of the military, and two other supernatural people: a Bullman (or Minotaur) named Travis Alamo Sam Houston, and a half-siren named Sharon Mangum. Under the command of Captain Kirk Conover, they took out strategic targets in Vietnam, Cambodia, and other neighboring countries. This eventually attracted the attention of the Communists’ supernatural elements, including the Russian werewolf Nikolai Petrov. Nikolai took particular interest in Earl and would often goad him with notes left on the bodies of slain soldiers.
During his service in Vietnam, Earl once again struggled with his desire to remain human while still using his werewolf abilities to fight against his enemies. With encouragement from his friends, including Sharon, he tempered his bestial side and refused to take the bait left for him by Nikolai. Before long, the Task Force got word that Nikolai had given up and returned to Russia, so they prepared to go home. Unfortunately that intelligence was false, and Nikolai used the ruse to attack them while their guard was down. Several members of Special Task Force Unicorn were killed in the attack, including Travis, and others were injured. Earl and Nikolai declared a truce, and soon after Earl returned home with his PUFF exemption renewed.
He was later visited by Travis’s father, who followed his son’s wishes to have his hide gifted to Earl as a token of friendship. The hide was then made into a leather jacket which Earl continues to wear. This fulfilled Travis's earlier promise that he would pay back his debt to Earl for saving his life, as the jacket has saved Earl on numerous occasions.
At this time, Earl took up the surname Harbinger, based on an encounter he had with a Degar medicine man while still in Vietnam. The medicine man had sensed that Earl was a werewolf and, through a translator, told him that he would one day lead the “animal spirits” into a great war. The word that the translator eventually settled upon to describe Earl’s role in the prophecy was “harbinger,” so Earl decided it would make for a good name.