The stakes are high.
Jurgen Noffein, initiate of Ulric, knows this. As does the Ar-Ulric, for he told the Ar-Ulric everything he knew. With little time to waste, the Ar-Ulric gives his signet ring to Jurgen to warn his brothers of faith of the impending doom that faces them. The Ar-Ulric races off to warn the Grand Theogonist, who has retired for the night to his guest chambers within the temple.
Jurgen back-tracks out of the crypts, there waiting for him, is the White Wolf that escorted him. Jurgen shows the signet ring to the knight, who is perplexed at the sight of a young pup carrying the esteemed ring of the Ar-Ulric. Jurgen tells him that by the Ar-Ulrics command, he is to be shown into the temple to warn the priests.
“I don’t like it… But I’ll not question it,” remarks the White Wolf.
They head off to the entrance and up the stone steps. The White Wolf nods to his companion who remained at the door, then turns to Jurgen.
“You are on your own from here pup. Do what you need to do.”
Jurgen steps into the Temple of Ulric.
The majesty of the temple never ceases to amaze those who step foot into its halls; Jurgen is no different, despite having done so on many occasions.
A giant 40 foot bronze statue of Ulric stands tall at the far back of the temple, overseeing all who enter his domain. His might warhammer raised up, ready to strike down his foes.
Yet even more remarkable is the white-silver flame situated in the center of the temple; this is the Eternal Flame, it is most sacred to the cult of Ulric. The Eternal Flame is much older than the temple itself, for the temple’s foundations were build around the flame.
Taking in the sight, it is clear to Jurgen that a feast is ongoing here, and nearing to its end. Most of the platters have been cleared of food; instead, the priests are now engaging in banter and drink, taking their full. The hour is late, past midnight, yet the Ulricans seem to care little for time when ale is involved.
Jurgen notes that only the senior clergy is here; initiates like himself were not permitted. Wolf Lord Brunner was not only planning to destroy the temple, but to take out all the senior priests, leaving him the only real candidate to succeed Ar-Ulric. And only he alone would stand to teach the young initiates a ‘new way’ in his twisted dogma.
Jurgen eyes the center table nearest to the Eternal Flame. Sitting there are Sigmarites and Ulricans, both on opposite sides. The Grand Theogonist is missing, of course, as is the Ar-Ulric. Two chairs sitting at opposite ends suggest that is where they once sat.
Jurgen notes that they all seem unfamiliar to him, except that of the Denfather, Clause Liebnitz.
– The ‘Old Wolf’, Denfather Liebnitz
Often nicknamed the ‘Old Wolf’, Denfather Liebnitz has served under three Ar-Ulrics in his time. He is considered the wisest amongst the faith, and his wisdom and advice is often sought after by all. Jurgen makes his approach to the Denfather.
Sitting directly opposite him, is the only Sigmarite who appears to be dressed for war. Clad in full plate armour, the Sigmarite makes an impressive sight at the table.
– Arch-Lector Kaslain
The lector is telling an old humorous war story as Jurgen approaches the Denfather.
“Excuse me, Denfather…” he quietly whispers as Liebnitz turns and gets up from his chair.
“Initiate. I thank you for pulling me away. The Arch-Lector has a fondness for regaling us with old war stories, a fondness I do not share.”
Jurgen tells the Denfather about the impending danger, and shows him the signet ring.
“This is the Ar-Ulrics ring… and he gave you this?”
After convincing him that the temple needs to be evacuated at once, the Denfather nods, and at Jurgen’s request, hands back the ring as the Ar-Ulric entrusted him with it.
He slams his staff on the stone floor, it reverberating through the temple. “Brothers! We need to leave at once! This is by the Ar-Ulrics command! Make an orderly exit, do so with haste and without delay!”
Many appear surprised and bewildered at this. A couple of priests make their way out, but the vast majority remain seated, complaining that there is still plenty of ale to be had.
The Denfather once again slams his staff onto the ground. “Those who disobey my command, shall report to Grandmaster Volkhard first thing on the morrow for discipline.”
That got the priests moving out of their chairs and making a hasty exit. Indeed, for Grandmaster Rein Volkhard is present, making his way down from near the statue of Ulric, accompanied by his famed wolf, Orvax.
– Orvax, his trusted companion
The Arch-Lector rises from the table and demands to know what is going on. The Denfather tells him that everyone present is in danger, and that they should leave at once. The Arch-Lector thanks him for the warning and makes haste towards the Grand Theogonist.
Noffein feels a deep rumbling in the ground, as does the Denfather. Glass shatters as an explosion is heard near the statue of Ulric. His might arm holding his warhammer cascades forward, crashing into the table where moments ago the Arch-Lector and the Sigmarite delegation had sat, as did the Denfather.
More secondary explosions are heard. The great pillars that held up the temple collapsed, tumbling forward as the very ceiling began to cave in. What was once an orderly retreat has now turned into a mad frenzy as every priest within the temple made a dash for the exit.
Jurgen opts to aid the Denfather as rocks begin to fall, one crushing a fellow Ulrican right in front of him. The Grandmaster however interjects, pushing Jurgen away physically as he picks up the Denfather in his arms and runs towards the exit, his wolf ahead of him.
Jurgen dodges out of the way of a falling pillar, but it crashes into a massive fire brazier behind him; spilling its hot burning coal onto the ground and towards Jurgen, scorching his feat. He rushes forward now, nearing the exit only to stop to help a Sigmarite trapped under some rocks. He tries to help him, but his strength fails him.
“Go, leave me be wolf!” he shouts at him.
Jurgen, knowing there is nothing he can do less he end up dead himself, gives him a quick blessing and leaves, tumbling out of the temple and rolling down the steps as the entire temple collapses onto itself. Dust envelopes them. Many made it out, but many are injured and those that didn’t, are buried underneath the pile of rubble.
The Temple of Ulric, which has stood for over 2500 years, has come undone. Jurgen was unable to stop it, the wheels were already in motion. All that is left is scattered rocks; yet amidst the rubble, a flame flickers. The Eternal Flame remains alight.
Jurgen utters a prayer as he looks on, and feels a hand on his shoulder as he finishes.
It is the Denfather.
“Treachery has crumbled our temple. You know, don’t you, Noffein… We need to talk.”
Both of them make their way to the temple quarters as the priests, young and old, stumble out of them to help with the injured. Only the main temple itself was destroyed, the temple quarters where the priests stay has been left untouched, although much of the surrounding windows have been shattered.
They make their way to the temple library. The area is devoid of anyone; they’re alone.
“Tell me initiate, what do you know… why did the Ar-Ulric trust you so?”
Jurgen tells the Denfather everything he knew, minus the Ar-Ulrics apparent affair with the Graf’s paramour, Eva Dietrich.
He tells him that there is a cult conspiring against the temple, and that Wolf Lord Brunner is in league with them, and was responsible for all this.
The Denfather is shocked and dismayed that a Wolf Lord could be implicated in such high treason. Heresy of the highest order. Yet Jurgen lacks any sort of evidence; it is his word, against a Wolf Lord. Jurgen is not confident.
“Yet the Ar-Ulric saw fit to give you his ring, and trust you with this task. That alone carries weight. These accusations are far too serious to let lie. Brunner must face them, as do we all. On the morrow you will be brought to the Star Chamber where we will discuss these accusations against one of our own. It is truly a dark day, for not only have we lost many of our kin, our home, but the mere suggestion that it was a member of our pack… shocking. Just shocking.”
The Denfather assigns Jurgen an escort consisting of two White Wolves who will accompany him to his temporary quarters, since his old quarters may not be safe. He is assigned his old master’s quarters, Klemet.
Jurgen is left alone in Klemet’s quarters, trying to meditate as the hours drift by.
As the early sun rises, Jurgen, lacking any sleep, stirs from his meditation as the door opens.
The Denfather steps in, his face solemn and grim. He stares at the ground for a moment, then the words come out.
“The Ar-Ulric has passed. Ulric has him now. May he find himself a never-ending winter for which to do battle upon.”
The words hit Jurgen hard.
*Next part covering the other party’s antics will be covered in another post coming up soon*