The Phoenix of Llael
Priest and Gun Mage
- Act III do be told in my campaign
Wulfe Lynch was born and raised in a long lineage of Menite priests. He spent many years in temples of Imer studying the writings in the Canon of the True Law and honing his arcane skills. From early on, many in the priesthood saw the potential of Wulfe. His early mastery of the arcane and interpretation of the holy text put him on the path to quickly ascend the levels of priest caste.
Eventually he was assigned to serve Vice Scrutator Vindictus in Leryn, the headquarters for the Northern Crusade. Upon his arrival he continued his studies and provided support to the ongoing crusade. His hard work and diligence was recognized by the Vice Scrutator and as a result was promoted to the rank of potentate.
With the new responsibilities, Potentate Lynch observed many of the questioning and interrogation sessions like by head of the temple, Grand Scrutator Severius. As custom during these sessions all of the priesthood present wore ceremonial masks in honor of the one worn by Menoth. However, for the Grand Scrutator, the mask serves as a barrier between his human face and the individuals he confronts and interrogates. For scrutators must abandon the indulgences of mercy and forgiveness as they are the ultimate judge, jury and executioner.
Wulfe witnessed many murderers, thieves, and traitors face judgement before Severius. Their punishment was swift and well deserved. However, many times common folk were brought before the Grand Scrutator for petty thefts simply because they had no means to feed themselves or their family. As with hardened criminals, they were shown no compassion or mercy and received punishment Severius felt suitable for their crimes. However, the punishment was much more severe if they were unbelievers. Overtime, this practice began to make Wulfe feel uneasy and he began to question the methods of the scrutators.
As a lifelong student of the writings of Menoth, Potentate Lynch began to feel that over the ages the teachings had been distorted to the point that left little compassion for those who did not believe the way the priests did. Many worshippers of Menoth did not worship out of faith and hope but instead out fear. Fear that the priesthood would retaliate against any action they would deem heretical. Would the creator of life really want his creation to believe in him because of human force or individual desire? This question began to haunt Wulfe as it stood against everything he was taught his whole life. Now he had to decide if what he was taught was truth.
The Moment of Truth
Over the next several months, Wulfe continued his priestly duties, serving in the temple and being witness to the the judgements of the Grand Scrutator. And over those months, his questioning of the truth grew inside him. He even began to bring up the topic with others in the priesthood. He was questioning the Menite methods and whether they have strayed away the real meaning of the written word. But everyone he talked with immediately chastised him for even speaking those words and warned him that any further discussion of the topic will result in Wulfe being reported to priesthood leadership.
Wulfe pondered how so many could just blindly follow what they had been told without doing any research or soul searching on their own. In the past he had always considered the common people sheep and the priesthood as shepherds to lead them. Now he is beginning to think that all the Menites are sheep blindly walking in the wilderness.
One day as he was studying in the Leryn temple, he was approached by Vice Scrutator Vindictus with a special assignment. Wulfe was led to one of the interrogation rooms in rear of the building. He had been to these rooms many times and witnessed interrogation methods that most people wouldn’t believe existed. Scrutators used a mixture of arcane and physical torture to extract information or confessions from their subject. As a result they were very effective at getting results.
The entrance to the room was guarded by a two Temple Flameguards. Inside was a middle aged man who, by this clothes, appeared to be a local farmer. He was brought in by Flameguards for not paying his monthly tithe. Menites follow a strict ritual of giving 10% of their spoils to the temple. This can be in form of money, crops or animals depending upon their occupation. This particular individual pays in produce and he had a productive yield for the month but the temple had not received its portion of the fruit of his labor.
Wulfe was curious as to why a scrutator was not already in the room. Suddenly, the vice scrutator leaned over to the potentate and whispered, “I’ve heard from several in the priesthood that you may doubt our methods of judgement. I’ve known you for a long time, Potentate Lynch, and see your potential to rise high in the priestly ranks. I believe that others who soil your name do so out of jealousy and spite. That’s why I wanted to give you the opportunity to begin your ascent in the hierarchy and prove those doubters wrong. This man is but a simple peasant and will crack under any sort of pressure. Extract his confession from him and judge him accordingly. Then I’ll deal with your naysayers.”
Wulfe was stunned and not sure what to think. Did Vindictus really have that much faith in him or was this just a test? Regardless, this was a simple task that he could complete without much effort. Wulfe walked over the farmer, looked him in the eyes, and raised his left hand. He began to draw upon magic that was that was around him. Collecting it, concentrating it, welding it under his control. Fiery, red, runes began in encircle his body growing brighter with each passing second. Once he harnessed enough magic he cast a simple but effective spell. Around where the farmer was sitting, a floating circle of flame materialized out of thin air. The farmer was in the middle of the circle and a look of sheer terror came across his face. Potentate Lynch then uttered a single word, “Confess”. When he did the flame circle slowly started shrinking in diameter encroaching upon the frightened man.
He immediately shouted out, “I’m sorry! I did not give my tithe this month, but that is the first time ever. But I can explain”. Typically, the ‘why’ of a transgression did not matter. Confession meant judgement. But the farmer pleaded his case,”As I was working in the fields a hungry, battered and bruised family came upon my land. They lived near the battlefront where the Khadorian army ransacked and pillaged their village. They barely escaped and decided to head south to safer areas. They left without food and provisions and had been traveling for days. I felt pity for them and brought them into my home where they stayed for 8 days. I fed them and nurtured them back to health so they could be on their way. However, I already sold my crops to market and what they ate was going to be my offering. I promise I’ll make it up to you next month. Please don’t hurt me!”
For this type of infraction, the guilty were typically marked with fire. Burned and scarred so that they would never be tempted do it again and also be a visible reminder to those around them. But suddenly, compassion came over Wulfe. This farmer simply wanted to help others even at the risk of being caught by the Flameguard. Growing impatient, Vindictus spoke up and said, “You heard the vermin, he confessed. Do what need to be done”. Wulfe looked over at vice scrutator and said, “This man used his tithe to help others just as we strive to do in the Temple. He’s promised to make up for it. If he doesn’t his punishment can be enacted then”. Vindictus’ face turned red with rage, “Then what the others have said are true. You’re not a believer of Menoth, you’re a heretic, a blasphemer”.
Those words struck Wulfe like a dagger. He had never once doubted the existence of Menoth. He had witnessed his works and stood side by side with the Harbinger. It’s man’s interpretation of the truth that he had struggled with. As these thoughts raced through his mind, he noticed runes began to encircle his mentor. He interpreted the runes to be for a spell much worse than the one he just cast on his victim. Lynch was now at a crossroads. With quick words and enactment of the punishment on the farmer he could probably save himself and his reputation. But for what? To continue down this path of lies? No more.
The runes around Wulfe began to morph and grow brighter in luminance. He knew he had time to finish his cast before Vindictus could weave his spell, but he had better act soon. Just before Vindictus raised his hand to unleash his rage, Wulfe released all the magic he summoned into a massive fire ball that exploded at the feet of the Vice Scrutator and the Flameguards. The concussive blow knocked sent them off their feet and rendered them unconscious. Wulfe dropped the spell on the farmer and told him to run. Wulfe followed the same instructions and headed back out into the temple. As he met the temple guards running to investigate the explosion, he slowed his pace as to not seem suspicious. Once outside the temple he headed to the stables, mounted a steed and headed towards the city gate. As he raced through the streets he knew this could be the last time he looked upon these building and these people. He would never be able to show his face again in Leryn. The priesthood does not take well to one of it’s own deserting the ranks. He was now a wanted man.
A New Order
To be continued…