i have put this as whf but it is more like a cross over and you will see why, enjoy.
The Wolf God
Such a cold and oft desolate place where only the hardy survive and where only the brave venture beneath those high city walls. As I look up to the fauslag I cannot help but feel a sense of pride at the ingenuity of man and dwarf.
What a bastion, what a place to call home.
Impregnable as it had been since the days of the god emperor Sigmar, in fact to my meagre knowledge the only man to scale the walls was Sigmar when he was but mortal.
Everything about Middenhiem smacks of pride and bravery, for our warriors are the best in the empire, always heralding the call to arms to protect this empire of ours from the scum of the north.
I can feel the weight of warriors on my shoulders, those that have took these rites before to become a member of the fabled wolf riders, the wolves of Ulric himself and my passage is to spend a month of winter out here, living by my own means and capturing a wolf cloak, hunt the child of the god himself and use only the tools given me by nature.
So as I look back to the great city of rock and watch her towers point like fingers of ochre into the dark grey skies I pray to Ulric that I will return and that upon my return I will become one of the wolf riders, like my cousin before me and our grandfather before us.
I pull my cloak around me and grip my sword tightly, the priest was most specific on where I should go and how I should act and whilst I was out here I was to ponder how our mighty lord of winter and wolves created such a bastion.
Oh we all know the stories and it is the first thing we are taught in the temple, that Ulric, the great brother of Taal and Morr, smashed his giant fist onto the rock and from that mighty crash Middenhiem sprung forth.
With the story in my heart and my head and my faith held high I ride out towards the Forest of Shadows and although I shall feel no fear and prove my bravery, I still grip the hammer sigil round my neck tightly.
The Forest of Shadows is aptly named, for very little light shines through here and it is a fool that strays off the path. The trees within seem to band together so closely that they resemble twisted hunched families.
Their branches entwine like starving lovers gathering together to keep warm but this is not the only strangeness for behind the oldest of them lies dangers that would give any normal man or woman nightmares for all their lives.
The twisted mutated beasts of the foul gods live within these forests and as a boy many of the tales I heard would terrify me.
My long dead mother would recite to me how unwary travellers and warriors with no skill would go into this most infamous of forests to battle the minions of the gods whose names are never spoken aloud, only to end up in their cooking pots eaten alive.
Since I was a boy I have trained myself to be attuned to the slightest sounds, games I played with my sisters and brother deliberately honing my skills so that should I ever enter the temple as a much vaunted wolf rider then I would have the skills needed to help me and my brother warriors survive.
But there are more dangers within here and I stick to the path that my master taught me most rigidly. For within the trees the eyes of the fey folk watch and woe betide any who stray into their domain too far.
My mother taught me to respect the elves of the forests and wooded lands, for without their bravery and tenacity then my beloved homelands would be overrun with all manners of dark creatures.
So caught up in my thoughts I take a wrong turn and as I attempt to back track I find myself lost even deeper within the Forest. I am only 16 winters and as brave as I would like to think I am, I can already feel the cold hand of fear clutching at my breast in a tight iron grip.
This is not a place to get lost and I curse myself for not paying attention and thinking I could stick to the path by walking alone.
My horse is snorting a little, she too feels the terror that this place holds and all I can do is pray to the great all father that I can find a clearing with at least to gather my wits and stop the clambering fear that is starting to take hold.
I am a initiate of the temple, I am a wolf rider in training damn it and I will calm myself I repeat in my mind over and over again like a mantra, after a while the sick feeling in my stomach vanishes and for now I have banished the fear.
I recall the words of my master Siegfried. If you should ever get lost in those dark shadows, find a glade where the light breaks through, there is a mound there that houses the ancient dead of our lands who warred during Sigmars time. Such a holy place will protect you until you have gathered your wits about you.
When I had asked how I find it all he had replied was that my faith would lead me.
I close my eyes and pray harder then I have ever prayed.
When I open them, I think I must have fallen asleep with the terror I had felt exhausting me, I am in a glade where the forsaken trees have parted and allowed the watery fingers of the winter sun to shine through, and there before me lies the mound of ancients.
I dismount from my steed and lead her to a small stream with which to drink from and kneel before the mound, thanking the mighty lord of winter for guiding me here.
They say Ulric is uncaring and merciless, but he is a man of Middenlands and such a man needs to have little in the way of warm fuzzy feelings for he expects his warriors to act upon their own two feet, use their initiative and not come crying to him all the time.
I do not know why he has aided me all I know is that he has and I once again swear my undying devotion to the most mightiest of gods. I build a small fire, enough to keep me warm through the cold bone freezing night that is to come and sit on a fallen log.
I curse my ineptitude and can hear my cousins mocking laughter in my ears. He had passed his initiation with flying colours two summers ago and now thinks that he is better then me.
No one is better then me and I am better then no man. I have much to prove though to those who believe that I should be tucked up safe and sound in my fathers’ merchant house.
For my mother and father were wealthy, my father exported Middenhiem wine to the cities and lands beyond making his own fortune. My mother was always wealthy, her fathers were men of court and nobles but my fathers father had been a wolf rider and his brother had been one, my father had failed and became a merchant, but still I world not want to test my fathers sword arm anytime soon for he can wield a hammer like any old fang.
I glance around me, there is no sound from the forest and I have the unshaken feeling that this place, this most singular place in the whole of this cursed land is so holy that not even the foul beasts that walk here dare enter this region.
Once again my imagination runs riot with the thought that whilst they enter not here, that doesn’t mean they are not lurking beyond the boundaries of the mound of ancients.
I set traps and catch the odd rabbit or two, skin them as my older sister taught me and start to roast them on the spit. I do not know how long it will take me to leave this area but I know that if I am to stay here a month then I will need food of some sort.
I must wait, when the great lord sees fit he will send me a wolf, I pray that it is a wolf with a white pelt, a great snow wolf would see me gain much acclaim and shut my mocking cousins voice.
But whatever Ulric deigns to send me then I will not fail in my task.
I cannot, for I have already angered my father by refusing to take the hand of a merchants daughter, I have a destiny and one that I have dreamt of for ages.
My mind drifts to these ancient dreams now and as I turn the spit those dreams come back to me with frightening speed and alacrity that I feel like I am living them.
Ever since I was a toddler in my mothers care I have held disturbing dreams, of the herald of our great god and his warriors, those brave and valiant enough to have earnt his respect and died as warriors should die and therefore joined the great pack in the sky.
Until I was a teenager Ulric was never in my sleeping visions, well never in the flesh, he was always to my perception the shadow at the end of the room, where the wolf warriors would glance respectfully and fearfully, wondering what great proclamation the all father was about to make, whether the eternal flame was still lit.
The Middenlands are harsh and unforgiving but we are stable in our weather, unless of course the great eternal flame of Ulric that burns in every shrine and temple the empire over goes out.
Any follower of Ulric that sees such a blasphemy must pray to our winter lord and oh how he must pray (or she) for only that would make the all father see the power of ones faith and the flame will light anew.
If it does not the it will be a year long winter and our winters are bad enough without that coming down on our heads.
I digress, the warriors all of them dressed in armour I have never seen the like of before, that covers them completely and encases them protectively and they are huge, bigger then even the mightiest warriors of the Kislevites or the warriors of the foul gods.
And all have a likeness to the ancient pictures of our winter lord.
One by one they come to me and tell me their tales, how they were struck down by the foul followers or enemies of the gods and brought to the hall of Ulric where they were made part of the pack, hunting with him in the places beyond the stars where only the gods walk.
Always immortal, no longer mortal and no longer human and they tell me that I am to be one of them, one of the greatest of them.
I ignore the last bit for I am only a boy and have not an inkling of how the gods weave the world away from our existence. I am not a stupid youth, I have an upbringing and I can read and write but I am also superstitious and apart from my older sister, I told no one else of these visions. It was not wise too for such visions lead to the Inquisition coming to your door.
None but the priests of the gods may speak of communing with the gods or their warriors.
I have listened to the tales of how my most serene lord Al-Ulric believes that Ulric himself came to our world, that he was a being from beyond the stars, saw the greatness in the land of the mountains and snow and with his mighty fist breathed life into Middenhiem and claimed her as his own. With his brothers and sisters he forged the victories over the foul gods and the unwavering law gods and thus was born our faiths.
I come out from my musings and yawn.
My master is indeed a powerful god and it is a fool who does not acknowledge him as such.
Time passes and Moorsleib rises high into the sky. I have eaten my fill and drank what little ale I had, I tried to sleep but in such a desolate and inhospitable place as this with shades and demons around me, a journey to Morrs realm this night is not to be.
Besides I could not sleep even if I wanted to, I am waiting for the first rays of Taal’s light so that I can get the hell out of here.
In this part of the forest even the animals fall quiet, unwilling to be prey to some other predator that might lurk in the night.
My sister when I was born nicknamed little hawk, due to the fact my eyesight and haring was second to none so when he comes upon me I am shamed by how slow my sword arm is.
My tutors on the temple parade squares acknowledged my keen senses as a gift from the god and those in my young pack, those that would be my battle brothers when I grew older relied on my gift in training exercises.
But as he shakes my arm I am shamed by the fact that I did not hear him approach.
I compensate but he is already moving away from me and sits across from me.
My eyes pierce the gloom and the light of the fire helps as I take in who it is that is across from me, the fey folk talk of ancient warriors returning from the mound to commune with the new generation, to impart some lore or words of wisdom that will aid them in their life’s journey but he does not look like any shade or ghost that I have ever seen.
The only shade I saw was my beloved mother a few days after Morr took her from us.
But this is not any shade or phantom, this is a real living giant.
He is regarding me with the most piercing eyes I have ever seen on a man in my life, and just being near him makes me tremble inside like some nervous acolyte, I try and swallow this unmanly fear and face my visitor like a man and not a frightened child.
If I am to pass into the company of wolves I am not going to do it acting like a coward.
As the moon pierces the rest of the forest canopy I get a better look at him and what I see nearly causes me to piss myself.
He is tall, even sitting down he is tall. His armour is grey almost silver and seems to have been crafted by armour smiths far gifted then any our lands hold. His hair is red and wild, tied into ringlets and his eyes, such intensity and violence caged deep within those orbs that I am struck by how he must reign in such violence.
His beard is long and tapered into a point tied like his hair and in the style of the warriors of old that used to ride our lands in the days of Sigmar when man was still fighting his way to the top and when Artur ruled our lands.
By his feet are two wolves and they themselves are gigantic, bigger then any wolves I have ever seen and they sit with him like he is a brother unto them not just the alpha but the kin of them.
One is black like the skies over head and the other white like a Middenland snowfall. They sit either side of him and he rests his hands on their necks stroking them like favoured pets and I am struck by how much he looks like the image of lord in the temple of the white wolf in Middenhiem.
He is a warrior born that much is true, it permeates the air around him and settles on him like a well-worn cloak.
Resting against him is a sword that I have never seen before and I do not know where it is wrought for the craftsmanship that went into the making of the sword is lost to any from our lands.
“You are Arran Christopher Lanon are you not?”
His voice is deeper then any mountain and whilst I have a deep voice it pales in comparison to this mans. All I can do is nod for my ability to speak is taken from me, I am afraid of no man but I am afraid of him, and I love him too.
Do not get me wrong, I am no illicit lover of men but I feel a deep love inside me for this mighty giant before me and it soon over rides the fear factor.
“Do you know where you are?”
Again I nod and I curse my inability to talk but I am quite afraid that if I open my mouth then utter rubbish babble is going to spew forth and I would be totally unmanned in his eyes.
My sudden attack of dumbness did not seem to both him, in fact he ignore it like he had been in the situation before many times.
He looks around him almost as if he is constantly alert for trouble and although I am able to understand what he is saying I cannot place the dialect for it is not any that I know off.
Whilst he is taking in the glade around us I focus on his armour once more, adorned with fetishes and wards against witches and warlocks. A great white cloak clung to his massive mountain like shoulders and the suspicion that had been forming at the back of my mind was not beginning to take an eerie shape.
“When I came to this world” he began, his voice was melancholy, wistful and his piercing eyes took on a far away look “It was with 13 of my sons, all brave warriors with the soul of the wolf.
When we arrived here it was a world so long away from the shadow of the great crusade, a world missed by my brother Primarchs as well as myself but in a way I am grateful it was missed, for I have seen this world rise from the ashes of other civilisations and become a testament to human ingenuity”
I am perplexed by his words but his name is suddenly clear to me and I move from my seat and kneel to the floor my head bowed low, unwilling to meet those eyes for to look upon him as an equal would be a sin, for I am not an equal, I never could be, not in his eyes.
“All father” I whisper, my voice a mix of awe and fear.
Awe of being visited by my master and fear of being in his mighty presence for not even the great high priest had ever seen him in the flesh, and it is the flesh. There is no glow around him, no heavenly choir but although I did not know if I should believe what my eyes were telling me the scene was true.
“Ulric, mighty lord of winter, lord of the wolves my life, all father, is yours”
Then it struck me…he had spoken my name, my name was known to him, oh how my heart soured to be known to the mighty god of battle…ad to that a little smugness that my cousin would no longer be able to lord it over me.
“That is what I am known as here, and one of my own sons was called by such a name,” his voice was sad though and I never expected such sorrow from the all father and it broke my heart to hear it.
Although I did not know why it would break my heart to hear such words.
“You are wondering how I know your name? I have watched you for many years and as I look around at the foul creatures that walk this world I am in need of many brave warriors like you to bring the darkness to the light.”
He rises and I can hear my heart hammer against my chest and it feels like it is about to explode from its home, if I am to die by my gods hand though so be it, if this is to be my destiny then so be that, I am but a boy and I am in my masters service, my life is his to forfeit if nessercery.
He walks across to me and rests his hand on my shoulder; it is not a harsh touch, more the touch of a father to a son.
A gentle touch and suddenly I know what I am here for, that I have been waiting for this moment since I entered the temple.
This is what I have been groomed for all my life.
“You will die here tonight, but when the sun has crossed the sky many times you will return to the temple in the city that I created, the city that I built with my bare hands and you will be different.
Gone are the days that I would have wrought you in my own fathers image to travel the stars but, I can wrought you to fight the wars needed here. For the same gods that plague this world have plagued my family too.
Turned brother against brother, sons against father and I shall see them all wiped from existence and when the day comes that I return to the world from which I came then, should you still be alive, you will be with me, you and others like you.
You will live your life here and be able to feel and fight with all the ferocity that I expect of my wolf sons.”
His smile, although wolfish and savage lights my heart and as the four-legged wolf that we take our name I bare my throat to the mighty Ulric and it all goes black….
I awake in a room that is unlike any I have ever seen and my first thought is that I am truly dead and I am in the halls of Morr waiting to be judged on my life.
It is a sterile room, and the things I see are not of my world, I do not even know what they are but I know that they are meant for me, and others like me.
Ulric is sitting by the side of my bed and rests his hand once more on my shoulder.
“You will be tested Hawk Lanon…”
How did he know my nickname? He is Ulric of course he will know.
“You will be tested and you will change until you look like them fellows there. Stronger in mind and body, immortal almost and such skill you will have. Gone are the days I can take my sons to the stars, at least for the moment but I can build a new legion of warriors to take the fight to the heathens of this world.
You will still know me as Ulric but I have another name that you will come to know. Once upon a time my name was Leman Russ”