A 12-year-old Alen is inspired to join the Imperial Army when he saw Teo McDohl's victory parade in Gregminster following a victory over the City-State of Jowston. His parents are reluctant to give their blessing, partly because of their lack of noble or military ties, but eventually agreed and at 15, Alen enrolls in the Imperial Academy.
Within six months, Alen is recognized as one of the more promising students. Skilled in swordplay from the beginning, he steadily improves in rune handling, but continues to suffer from an impatient temperament. He would be classmates with Clet and quickly develops a rivalry with Grenseal, whose more reserved, studious nature irks the passionate Alen.
An argument between the two provokes Grenseal into improving his swordsmanship as well as his mind, and in the 4th round of a training tournament, Alen is soundly defeated by Grenseal's more methodical fighting style. This greatly unnerves Alen who feels his sword skills were what gave him the edge in competing for a rare, coveted appointment in the Central Army. Grenseal goes on to lose in the next round, admitting he had only defeated Alen because he knew his temperament so well.
Alen attempts to rematch Grenseal later that night, only for the two to come to the understanding that they had both been driving the other forward the entire time and even had similar inspirations for pursuing their dreams. More appreciative of each other, the two vow to do all they could to graduate to the Central Army, a goal they eventually reached.