Middenheim: The Immediate Aftermath

This post is meant to detail the outcome and consequences of events that have transpired over the course of the adventure. Another post detailing events on a much more global scale to fill in the gap between now and January will be done at a later date. For now, this post deals with the local aftermath of the Power Behind The Throne chapter.

 

Funeral of the Ar-Ulric, Emil Valgeir

– Emil Valgeir

 

The funeral for the Ar-Ulric takes place 3 days after the collapse of the temple. Normally, the funeral would take place within the great Temple of Ulric, but alas, their temple is no more. The Sigmarites, in a rare gesture, offer the use of their temple as a sign of unity. The Ulricans ‘politely’ refuse the offer.

The expected turnout for the funeral of the Ar-Ulric is said to be in the thousands. With this in mind, they opt to holding it in front of the ruins of the temple. The body will then be moved to the Winter Garden where those wishing to pay their respects, can do so. The usual law forbidding anyone bar the Ar-Ulric from entering the Winter Garden is put aside in light of current circumstances. The Denfather remarked, when questioned about the wisdom of opening up the Winter Garden to the public, said, “I share your concern. Yet, was it not one of our own who swore to happen upon a miracle within those gardens? Something did happen to Noffein. A miracle? Perhaps. We should open the gardens and let those who wish to pay their respects, do so, under the watchful gaze of our Lord Ulric.”

“You are most wise, Denfather…” a Venerable Wolf had remarked. The Denfather smiled, “No, just practical. It will be a week or more before his body is entombed beneath the catacombs to join his kin. And until that happens, many will continue to visit him in the gardens, for it is always cold in the Winter Gardens.”

“Ah yes… I see your point,” remarked the Venerable Wolf, tapping his nose.

 

On the 3rd day, the expected turnout for the funeral surpasses all expectation. The city was still gripped in a deep sense of fear after the recent events. Some had preached, loudly and boldly, that a great tragedy would befall all those who attended the Ar-Ulrics funeral. Yet thousands had turned up. Not just Middenheimers; even the wood elves of Laurelorn forest had sent a delegation to pay their respects for the fallen. Peasants living nearby outside the city spent a good portion of their savings to seek passage to the city. Luckily for them, the Graf had suspended all toll fees into the city on the day of the funeral, so that all may come to Middenheim to pray without having to worry about the tolls.

In a rare sign of religious unity, many Sigmarites had attended the funeral. The city watch, the Knights Panthers, the White Wolves and the Teutogen Guard were all out in full force to keep the peace. The Teutogen guard had kept a low profile since the death of the Ar-Ulric; they are elite members of the White Wolf given the sacred duty of protecting the Ar-Ulric. A growing resentment was felt that they failed in their duty, but now, they were out in force, and none dared to raise a word against them.

The Denfather led the prayers; often at times he had to raise his voice, for many were weeping. Children as young as 5, who perhaps had no comprehension yet of the importance of the Ar-Ulric’s role, or even the man himself, were crying along with their mothers. The men took on a sombre grim dour look; there was anger there, anger for what happened. Many were looking for someone to blame. The Purple Hand was an enigma to them, an invisible foe that the authorities were purposefully keeping a lid on. Others looked to the sigmarites to blame. Some blamed themselves, and became closer to Ulric for it.

It was then that the Denfather did something unexpected that stirred the crowd; he invited the Grand Theogonist, Volkmar the Grim, to speak. Volkmar was present, but there was still a great concern for his safety, so he was not part of the assembled crowd. Instead, he was watching out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind, as they say…

Upon the invitation, he made his way towards the Denfather. He had come into view now, his mere presence stirred a low grumbling of discord amongst the Ulricans. The sigmarites did not cheer, out of respect they knew that would not be proper; they kept their silence, and nudged their Ulrican brothers to stop their grumbling.

Volkmar bore a long deep scar on his face that ran from his top forehead, across his eye to his cheek. Some had speculated that he had lost his eye. It seems not.

He took the center of attention as the Denfather stepped aside, allowing him to speak to over a thousand souls who had come, filling the temple courtyard, and packing the narrow streets full of bodies.

Volkmar did not speak at first; he looked at the faces at the front, nearest to him, and then looked out beyond into the mass of souls who stared towards him. He saw the face of a woman; a mother perhaps, for she could not control her weeping, perhaps for her dead son. He saw the face of a man; a father perhaps, or someone who had lost a brother. He saw the face of the Graf, staring out from his position high up from the temple quarters on a balcony, surrounded by his bodyguards.

He finally spoke, raising his voice so that he can be heard by all, “Sons of Sigmar! Sons of Ulric! … There is nothing I can say, or do, to ease your pain. Not only have you lost the one man who could comfort you in these dark times, but you lost many of your kin. You lost the bastion upon which you could seek comfort in. You lost so much, and gained nothing in return.  Yet you fight, and continue to fight on, despite all that you have lost.

“Some of you blame me for what happened. Some of you blame my brothers-in-arms for the misery that faces you now. Many of you seek for justice against those who did this to you. I seek that very same justice. For I will not allow them to tear us apart. We are brothers and sisters. There was a time when we fought together. When we bled together. When we died together. We were forged as one. Ulric, Sigmar, it does not matter. Yes, we have our differences, we have our different beliefs, but we are all as one. Was it not Sigmar who worshiped Ulric in those ancient times? Was it not Ulric who bestowed Sigmar with his strength and courage?

“Why do we fight amongst ourselves, when the real enemy is the enemy within. The rot that seeks to tear us apart. To tear an empire that has stood for a thousand generations. Your temple now lies in ruins… but it’s just stone. That’s all it is. What you lost can be rebuilt. What you rebuild is what matters. Every time we are brought to our knees, we rise stronger. Every time we stand on the precipice, we fight for we know what is at stake.

“Yet you lost something more today. Something that cannot be rebuilt. You lost friends, loved ones, and you lost the one man who should be standing here before you, not I.

“Emil Valgeir, was someone who I briefly got to know. During that brief time, he made the strongest impression upon me than a thousand souls I have encountered in my lifetime. He was as true an Ulrican as any wolf I ever met. He was compassionate. He was Fierce, and was not afraid to voice his opinion. He was not afraid to insult me to my face either, calling me a sigmarite plate-skirt blouser. Or my favorite, calling me a plague-sore.”

That had given the crowd a few laughs.

“We were often at odds, on many issues. Yet, there was one commonality that we shared. Something that we both agreed on. Peace. Peace in our time. It is what we both wanted. Sigmarites and ulricans, standing side-by-side, fighting our common enemy.

“That is what I hope his legacy is. Peace between our faiths. In the short time that I got to know him, your Ar-Ulric left the most profound impression upon me. Never will I forget his sacrifice. Never will I forget what he did for me. I am alive today because of him. I owe eternal gratitude not just to him, but to all of you.

“Let his legacy be one of peace.”

Volkmar finished by boldly stepping through the crowd, which no doubt gave his security detail an aneurysm. Yet before they could reach him, he was already surrounded by sigmarites, but mostly by ulricans, which was the greatest concern. Many departed to let him through. There was no cheers, mostly silence. Yet there was no shouts of discord, or mumbling of discontent. That was the most telling part of the silence that followed.

Yet one woman had approached him; the weeping face he had spotted earlier. She stood in front of him, and embraced him; for which he comforted her, and uttered a prayer upon her.

Not long after Volkmar left, many others came to speak for the Ar-Ulric. For many had met him over the course of his lifetime, and many had a story to tell. The Graf, was the last to speak. Yet the Graf did not echo Volkmar’s words for peace, nor did it speak of unity; but neither did he speak against peace or unity. Rather, he chose to caution his people.

“These are dark times that face us! We must be ready to meet the challenge! Our enemies are many, our foes are strong and willing to fight. We must be ready for the coming war. Even now something stirs beyond our walls, within the Drakwald! We must be prepared for whatever comes our way!”

After the funeral, the Ar-Ulrics body was brought into the Winter Garden. Many waited for hours upon hours to as one by one they were led in to pay their respects.

 

The Grafs Paramour

No less than only a day after the funeral, Eva Dietrich, former paramour of the Graf and one-time associate of the Purple Hand, mysteriously disappeared… Unbeknownst to many, she had been taken by the White Wolves. They were not kind to her… torture awaited for her, she knew. She had spilled everything there was to spill before the torture began, but they tortured her regardless. She would never be seen again… Yet what she gave up in information, while not entirely valuable, was all the more precious for restoring the honour of one Emil Valgeir, whose love affair with her came out when Jurgen informed the Ulrican leadership of such.

She had revealed to them that a witch by the name of Ethelka Hearson had paid her lucratively to seduce the Ar-Ulric, but she failed each time in her attempts… Until Ethelka had given her a powerful toxin that worked wonders on the Ar-Ulric. The White Wolves quickly made it known that the Ar-Ulric was bewitched by sorcery, and soon every black hunter (an Ulrican witch-hunter) was out in force hunting for this Ethelka Hearson.

 

The Goddess Brothel

The slaanesh den of debauchery was raided in a joint force by Panthers, White Wolves, led by their commanders and the Graf, who took part in the raid. No mercy was spared for those within… suffice to say, it was a blood bath. The panthers lost two knights to some slaanesh daemonettes, and the White Wolves lost only one man, to the Matron herself, who turned out to be a powerful daemonette herself and gifted with magic. Both the Graf, Captain Marius of the Knights Panther and the Grandmaster of the White Wolves fought her and her foul siblings. The Graf got the killing blow, wielding his runefang, Legbiter.

 

The Hunt For Cultists

The revelations that Ser Gado brought to the court of the Graf was a severe blow to the idea that the palace was secure. The very idea that cultists had infiltrated so high up, and were practically next to the Graf all this time, brought upon serious doubts about who could be trusted.

And so began the purge… It did not take long for Karl Wasmeier to break under torture, spilling more secrets than his books could ever provide. Unfortunately, someone, likely a Purple Hand agent, had saw to it that Wasmeier would meet his end on the torture rack before he could spill his most juicy secrets. His premature death was a blow to intel, yet what he already provided, along with his many documents seized from his estate, was enough to purge Middenheim of the Purple Hand.

With sword in hand, Black Hunters, White Wolves and Knight Panthers had combed through the streets, raiding the residences, warehouses and estates of all those even remotely suspected of having ties with the cult. There were no trials to be had; all three law lords were unavailable. Karl Wasmeier was dead; Law Lord Joachim Hoflich was arrested. He denied the charges against him, but it mattered not. He would soon face the rack. Law Lord Reiner Ehrlich, for a time, faced arrest. The support of Gado saved him from a nasty fate; yet he was now retired from his position. The local magistrates were already burdened with their own trials to perform.

The Verenean cult took up the slack, offering to hold many of those accused of crimes to be tried at their own temple. The Graf grew concerned that this could mean drawn out legal procedures with the possibility of some getting off the hook. But neither did the prospect of a bloody purge of potential innocents please him. A compromise was reached, where those who were only suspected of such crimes with very little evidence to support it, were to be put on trial, while those with strong evidence of their guilt, would simply disappear.

Regardless of the agreement, the Verenean cult was not happy for they received many reports of people vanishing without a trace, suspected of being members of an illegal cult. Their calling for fair justice to all fell on deaf ears…

Karl Wasmeier, while his death was premature, he was still useful even in death. His head was put on a pike, just opposite the Temple of Ulric, with his gruesome head looking towards the ruins of the temple.

The Guild of Alchemists and Wizards did not escape notice. Many of their members were harshly interrogated, but overall they would eventually be given the all clear. There was particular interest in finding four wizards unaccounted for; Erika Johann, who had mysteriously disappeared, was now declared as a rogue wizard, and had her license revoked in her absence. Eren, who was her lover and had also been missing, was still unaccounted for. His license was also revoked, and he is wanted for questioning. Shadowmancer Franz Udolf is wanted by the Black Hunters for his role in the murder of Foros Arfor, a High Elven mage. Arendight, a student wizard of the guild, was wanted for her connection with witch-craft, and it now being known that she is the daughter of Ethelka Hearson.

High Mage Albrecht Helseher would soon resign, as the scandal proved too great for him to remain in his position. MAgister Astolfo Elsner, Lore of Light, would take over as High Mage at the guild. Deputy Janna Eberhauer had resigned her position as well, and is said to be leaving the city for Altdorf soon. In her place, Mathilda Sconce, of the Bright Order, took over as the Deputy to the High Mage.

 

The Repeal of the New Tax Laws

There was still the issue of the new taxes which were due to be collected at the end of the week. The Graf had not come to realize just how damaging the taxes were to his people; being fed lies by his advisors, although he blamed himself for locking himself away in the palace during his time of grief. Never again, he swore.

The tax laws were quickly repealed. Not just that, but several convenient scapegoats were about. The Graf bore the brunt of the anger concerning the tax laws, after all, he signed off on them. Wasmeier was made out as the mastermind of the tax deception, which was essentially the truth. He, along with Law Lord Joachim, Gotthard Goebbels and a corrupt bailiff by the name of Nickel Kess, had all taken part in a conspiracy to defraud the state. It was bending the truth a little, but there was some truth in it after all… The public were satisfied; Goebbels was arrested, and would soon be hanged in the public square, alongside his crony, Nickel Kess. Ironically however, the issue of taxes became less of a glaring problem in light of what happened to the temple. As such, the hangings of Kess and Goebbels was nothing more than a distraction. But it satisfied the dwarfs, who were incensed at the unfair taxation.

These actions alone shifted the blame from the Graf to those now swinging from the gallows.

 

Other Events

Dieter Schmiedhammer remains missing. Many assume he went into the Drakwald, but the gate guards do not remember seeing him. There is a bounty for his arrest, as he deserted his post and rank as Champion of Middenheim.

The Altquarter was ‘cleansed’ of mutants and those infected and suspected to be tainted. The White Wolves personally lead the cleansing. Few were spared, if any at all. The mutant bodies were piled onto carts and brought outside, where they were to be burnt. Many of the buildings were put to torched, and there were concerns of a great fire breaking out. Great care was made to isolate the fires and only burn what was felt was necessary.

 

As for the warpstone that was discovered… well, that simply disappeared.

 

 

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