The Wolves of Brandenburg
Man rules now where They ruled once; They shall soon rule where man rules now. After summer is winter, after winter summer. They wait patient and potent, for here shall They reign again.
- H.P. Lovecraft, “The Dunwich Horror”
LEGENDS OF THE GAROU
The earliest legends of the Garou speak of a time before the area was ever called the Nordmark Protectorate or even Brandenburg.
The earth was closer to its beginnings then, and old powers, many of them malignant, still throbbed with hidden life. They survived many millennia into the era of humankind, preying on the late-coming race in a variety of ways. All were sons and daughters of darkness, freed only after the sun had set and blackness crept across the land. They were the spawn of the Wyrm. It was no wonder that mortals held those hours in fearful contemplation. They knew the night for what it was – the living shadow of the dark age before the earth took shape. Gaia created her children – the Garou – to protect humankind, and the world from these creatures.
The first Garou knew no tribes and had no pacts with the spirits. They were newborn babes in the world, but they were not defenseless and did not lack wisdom. Heroes emerged, and they won their first victories against the Enemy.
The Long Winter
It was during the Ice Age when the White Howlers and Silver Fangs patrolled the glacial ice and the Get of Fenris were not even a tribe. In fact, the land of Brandenburg was covered under tons of deep ice. Gaia had sent the Long Winter to imprison terrible creatures of the Wyrm who sought to defile her. These beings were vestiges of chaos, remnants of a formless time older than human reckoning.
This is when the first tribes formed, and the Silver Fangs and White Howlers with their snow white fur roamed the snow capped lands to battle with the Wyrm. It was then the first wars were fought against strange creatures of the Wyrm not seen today. From our perspective, millenia after these events, the descriptions and motivations of the Wyrm creatures are obscure. We know very little other than names like Vhujunka, Chulorviah, or Gnoph-keh. The legends describe the remnants of a Wyrm corrupted polar civilization.
Humans reached the Berlin area around 55,000 BC, but settlements were first formed at the end of the last Ice Age, around 20,000 BC, when hunter-gatherers followed migrating animals north to the area around the river Spree.
War Against the Ancient Horrors
Much of the world was cold, dry, and inhospitable, with frequent storms and a dust-laden atmosphere. This was not good so Gaia decided to create the Garou and other Changing Breeds to destroy the Wyrm creatures and allow life to flourish. Gaia beseeched her brother Helios for aide, and the glacial ice began to withdraw back north, allowing the Garou access to where the Wyrm creatures lay. With the glaciers receding, Gaia needed new champions. Only the bravest and strongest Garou could fight the horrors being uncovered, and it was then that the Get of Fenris became a tribe.
The wolves came first bounding over the melting ice into the new lands of the north for no humans yet lived there as their hairless skin, weak arms, and lack of claw or horn made them ill-suited to life in this harsh land. The Garou lived alongside man during this time. We were their teachers, their guides, their shamans. They were our flock, and we protected them -both homid and lupus.
The war was long, lasting thousands of years, but the Garou triumphed. Many tales of heroes were told about them; too many are now lost. The first men appeared, clad in furs and leather; and they gathered what food they could from the land, and hunted for the rest. They worked with primitive tools made of stone and wood. The Garou thought how clever was man to give himself claws and fangs in imitation of beasts. Life was good.
The Morning of the World
As the glaciers receded, the land changed. New lands were revealed, the meltwater formed new lakes, and what would become the Baltic Sea was a freshwater lake. It was only now that the first men – Stone Age fishers, hunters and herders – were now able to enter the new lands and find pine-birch forest with tundra-like open spaces. Much of the new land was covered by mire. The shores around the lake were stony ground. The lupus Garou who had been here before watched these men carefully, and some even selected a few as kinfolk, but most stayed away preferring to live among the wolves and limited their guidance to race of man. Instead, men encountered the Fae here who were ruled by the House of Vanir, and the Sidhe Lords and Ladies ruled the land with the respect and fear of the new men who were their servants and cattle. But the Garou did not bend their knees. The children of Luna served no master; only their pack.
In Brandenburg, as the glaciers receded, tundra emerged. Stone Age hunters would migrate along the great reindeer herds. Large scale hunting occurred in the fall when the reindeer were fat with summer grazing. Most of the year, hunters preyed on isolated beasts. The Weaver gifted Man with the knowledge of the bow and arrow, a much superior technology over the spear. Earlier man had been mainly a meat eater, but now game was more dispersed. Man learned to harvest wild grasses, seeds, nuts, and tubers as well as hunt the many fish, birds, and mollusks along the new shores.
During this time, the great megafauna began to disappear – whether by overhunting by man or a result of the changing climate. The woolly mammoth, cave hyena, Irish elk, and scimitar cats became extinct. With their loss, their enraged and despairing spirits compelled the first Red Talons to become the children of Griffin.
War Against the Jotuns
When the human race was yet young and only newly arrived in this world, there still lurked ancient creatures with magical powers in hidden corners across the land. The Get of Fenris fought their own battles against the Jotuns, an ancient race of giants in the service of the Wyrm. They were once powerful forces of the Wyld, but they allowed themselves to become corrupted. The Get along with the other tribes of the north, particularly the Fianna, slew them, broke their power, and drove them into the Umbra in exile.
The victory over the Jotuns was not due to the Get of Fenris alone. They had fought together with the spirits of the land, the Aesir; the Sidhe House of Vanir in the trod of Vanaheim; and with the other shapechanging children of Gaia – the Gurahl, Grondr, Corax, Bastet, and Kitsune. Many of these associations would turn out not to be beneficial in the long years that followed.
Era of the Impergium
After a long arid stretch, rains returned and food production began again in west and central Europe, the Middle East and the Indus Valley. The Nile Valley was settled again, and the settlers constructed buildings, raised cattle and irrigated crops. The Neolithic Revolution had begun. Humans had mastered the arts of agriculture, the domestication of animals, and food storage. Human settlements, once small and sprace, gave way to densely populated towns and cities. People became specialized, increasing production and lead to trade, the development of art and architecture, writing, centralized administrations and political structures, hierarchy, and depersonalized systems of knowledge.
Eventually this may its way to the north as well. Although less advanced than the humans to the south, and limited by the harsh climate and long winters, the relationship between people and the Garou changed forever. The human population was increasing dramatically, far beyond what was allowed by nature. There was a great disturbance, and the leaders of the Garou Nation met to decide what to do. Thousands of years of history had ended, and the Garou were frightened. The elders decided that if humans had found a way to outwit Gaia’s natural limits on their numbers, that it must be imposed on them. The Impergium had begun.
Despite the reputation of the Get of Fenris, the truth is that the Impergium was mild in our lands. The climate was harsh and population of humans low. Far away from the cities of Mesopotamia, the people had not learned much of their Weaver arts. The culling was limited to the sick, weak, old, and infirm. To avoid the straw death, those who would become our kinfolk gloried in warand sought their deaths there so that their fame would be remembered afterwards and perhaps mark their children to be worthy of mating with the Garou.
Eventually most Garou came to the conclusion that the Impergium had been a mistake. Despite it, cities and population of Man had still grown while Man developed a fear and hatred of the Garou resulting in the Delerium. Worse, our fear of the Garou and in madness, men in the cities of Mesopotamia turned to a new force to protect them – the Leeches. In a great Concordiat, the Silver Fangs took counsel among the Tribes and Septs, and the Impergium was brought to an end. By this time, almost all of the Tribes of Garou had been created. The Children of Gaia had become a Tribe in order to argue for an end to the Impergium.
As the Impergium ended, the large scale migration of Fenrir homid kinfolk moved into Europe. There they found a few existing groups and settlements of men already in the region, the rare homid kinfolk of White Howlers, and their lupus brothers and sisters who had arrived earlier. Wherever the population of man swelled, the Red Talons came too in order to look after their kinfolk, the wolves.
Epoch of the War of Rage
After their first triumphs against the Wyrm, the Changing Breeds became arrogant. They forgot their purpose and sought to impose their will on others. Thus began infighting among the many children of Gaia. It was only in retrospect that this epoch has been referred to as the War of Rage. At the time, much like the Hundred Years War, it was merely an ongoing series fights between individual septs and Garou against the other Changing Breeds, often interrupted and usually with long periods of peace inbetween.
In the lands of northern Europe, the Silver Fangs lead the tribe of Fenris and others against the Gurahl (werebears), the Bastet (the werecats had several breeds at the time), and even Naga (wereserpents) although the Get of Fenris would not slay their compatriots in battle, the Corax (wereravens). However, some Get heroes would follow the Silver Fangs on moon bridges to fight the changing Breeds elsewhere. Whenever the strongest heroes were needed, the Garou Nation would always call upon the children of Fenris.
It should be noted that by this time, not all the Tribes had formed though all now claim they were. In truth, there may have been individual packs or septs dedicated to certain Totems of the Tribes, but this was a time when the cities of men were still small land weak. The first followers of Pegasus and Cockroach were not yet true tribes, but collections of septs and packs.
Arrival of Wodan & Corruption of the Sidhe House of Vanir
The vampire plague was originally concentrated in the land of Mesopotamia and the ancient cities that dwell on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. It was a problem for the Garou there. Even after the end of the Impergium, the small huts and villages around the Baltic Sea were not hospitable to the Leeches of the Land Between the Rivers. However, it was not long before strange events revealed that the contagion had spread, and the infected hosts had traveled into the deep wilderness under the eyes of the Garou. The Garou reacted swiftly and lead a great slaughter, yet the powerful Leeches remained to transmit the disease further – the Great Crone of Russia and the Furious One men called Wodan.
The Garou did not know who Wodan was at first. He did not smell of the Wyrm, and he came offerring aid against the Jotuns. He was wise and powerful; skilled in magic; and his warrior companions – male and female – were fierce.
Wodan befriended the Sidhe of the House of Vanir and taught them many Gifts. He was wise and powerful, but secretly he was also a spawn of the Wyrm and lord of the draugr. His name meant the Furious One, for he was blessed with Rage like few Garou ever enjoyed. He could command the spirits, and could travel the Nine Worlds. The Vanir made secret pacts with him.
As time went by, Wodan demanded more and more blood sacrifices and corrupted the Gaian rituals the Garou had taught Man. Eventually, it became clear he had introduced the curse of vampirism to the people of the north. Wodan usurped the role of the Celestine Mercury in the worship of the German people, and they would make blood offerings to Wodan and his cursed progeny in the guise of the All High. The wolves of Gaia prepared war, but Wodan was now protected by fae sorcery of the Vanir who greedily sought his knowledge.
For this betrayal, the Get of Fenris swore a blood oath on the House of Vanir, and all Alvar who owe them their allegiance are their enemy. The Get of Fenris have never forgiven the Vanir for this betrayal. As a result, all Get of Fenris have sworn a blood oath against the hated Sidhe of the House of Vanir.
The earliest farms in Brandenburg with their small enclosures of domesticated cows and pigs appeared as late as 4000 BC.
The Nordic Bronze Age
Thousands of years after the secret was known in the south, the men of the north learned how to make bronze tools and weapons. It was a time of great change in northern Europe. Since time immemorial, the Umbra and the Realm were one, but now the Gauntlet first appeared in the north. It was thin and weak, easily pierced, but Men now began to hear the spirits less and less.
It was at this time that the Silver Fangs native to northern Europe established House Gleaming Eye to keep watch on the corruption in the region. The Silver Fangs had long worried about what evils the Long Winter had kept buried under ice and snow, but after the arrival of Wodan a group of Silver Fangs decided to bring greater organization and drive. They would become a “Gleaming Eye” on the north, and this became first the name of a pack, then a sept, and then finally a royal house.
Gaia showed its blessing on the people at this time. The climate warmed and farmland produced plentiful and new crops, grapes were grown in Scandinavia at this time. The abundance of food allowed the population to grow, and as they grew more dense, they began to leave their homeland. It was during this time that Germanic speaking peoples began leaving the north and entering the lands between the Elbe and Oder, pushing out the Celtic speaking peoples who lived there. Following their kinfolk, the Get of Fenris fought the Fianna, the first of many wars that would be fought between them for the next two thousand years.
The people in the north still worshiped a religion heavily influenced by the Gaian teachings of the Garou, and Gaia under the name of Nerthus was beloved. However, the cult of Wodan had introduced heresy and corruption, and his vampiric followers and the Garou battled from control of the minds of people. It should have been an easy victory, but the Curse of the Garou that came with the Impergium showed how much damage it had done.
Nevertheless, these were good times for the Garou. The ancient horrors past generations had battled were now either destroyed or in hiding. The Garou had inflicted great harm across their rivals during the War of Rage. So now they turned against themselves for control of the most prestigious caerns or for honor or glory. Neither the Fianna nor the Red Talons could long withstand the might of the Get of Fenris; only the Silver Fangs weathered the storm, doing their best to mediate and keep the peace.
An Age of Iron
Eventually the secret of iron spread to northern europe. It had been nearly ten thousand years since the glaciers had receded from the land of Brandenburg. And with the coming of iron, disaster struck. All men could now be armed with weapons and have tools that could work the earth. Mastering the riddle of steel gave men courage and hope. They no longer feared – or wondered – as they once did. Iron was anathema to the Fae, and they began to leave the Realm and hide from the eyes of men. The Gauntlet was strengthened, and the last remnants of the spirit world was divorced from the Realm.
Iron allowed the peoples of northern Europe to thrive as never before, and their numbers grew beyond the capacity of the land to sustain them. Ever warlike, the Fenrir kinfolk encouraged their tribes to move south into richer lands; the lands of the Celts and of Rome. The Germanic peoples moved further south, pushing the Celts west of the Rhine and along the shores of the Danube.
The war with Wodan continued. The struggle was now over a thousand years old, and the blood hungry fomori still roamed. It was the Age of Burning as the Garou and their kinfolk would burn their dead and erect circles of standing stones over the ashes to cleanse them of Wyrm taint and force the unliving from their false graves in the earth so they could be slain. Yet the curse remained.
By now, the area around the Havel and Spree had long been free of any Fianna. Only the Get of Fenris and Red Talons occupied these lands. The lupus were plentiful, and while the packs of Fenrir and Red Talons rarely mixed, they respected one another. Humans were still few and feared the woods. The Silver Fangs ruled in the septs they controlled, and the kings of House Gleaming Eye demanded the loyalty of the Fenrir of these lands, but only rarely would they show at Fenrir caerns or demand obedience. The Silver Fangs were strong in this age, and when they called, the Get of Fenris always answered.
It was a changing world, and old feuds with the Vanir Sidhe, the vampires of Wodan, and the remnants of Wyrm corrupted jotnar were giving way to something new. It was unsettling to the elder Get, but the younger only saw new worlds to conquer.
The Rise of Rome
A century later, the first German tribes moved into southern Gaul and invaded Italy before they were stopped by the legions of Rome, first under Gaius Marius and then Julius Caesar. For the first time, the Germanic peoples entered history and the kinfolk and Garou of the Get of Fenris encountered the magnificent works of the Weaver.
Nothing had prepared them for such works. Paved roads. Acqueducts. Steel armor. Ballistae and catapults. Watermills. Indoor plumbing and hot water baths. The illiterate kinfolk of the Fenrir lived in wood and mud huts. Garou had accompanied their kinfolk on their migrations, but the Roman legions were protected by the tribe of Warders who were unknown to the northern Garou. They were also lead by Silver Fangs of an unknown royal house, the Conquering Claw, who did not accept the authority of the Gleaming Eye, and the Fenrir likewise did not recognize theirs.
The beserk fury of the Teutons and Cimbri saw them triumph over the Roman legions initially. The Battle of Arausio was one of Rome’s worst defeats with the entire army destroyed. The soil of the fields the battle were made so fertile by human remains that they were able to produce great yield of crops for many years. However, the Romans under Gaius Marius would avenge their defeat and annihilate both tribes. Three hundred of the married women of the Germans committed mass suicide rather than be lead into dishonored captivity.
Such battles however were far from the forests and plains of Brandenburg. The Garou of Rome and the barbarians had different ideas about fighting the Wyrm, but all agreed that the People would be kept secret from the Flock and not interfere with the wars between them. Garou would not slay Garou over such matters, though their kinfolk had no such restrictions. As the various Germanic tribes migrated, kinfolk fought each other, and the Garou quarreled over control of the septs in Germania.
The Rivers Havel and Spree formed a boundary between two Protectorates. In the north lay a powerful caern on the Isle of Rugen. Towards the south was a caern among the Lusatian heaths. To the west was the most powerful caern in all of Germania among the heights of the Harz Mountains. In hidden glens and deep woods all throughout the lands east of the Elbe lay less important caerns guarded by one or two packs.
The Age of Caesar
In the dense forests of northern Europe there lived more people than could be nourished by the primitive agriculture of the Germans. So the people there, including the kinfolk of the Tribe of Fenrir, looked to the fertile farmlands and pasture to the south and west inhabited by the Gauls and Romans. To battle for these areas was easier and more pleasing than the hard work of clearing their own forests by the axe.
Stories of the survivors of the defeated Cimbri and Teutons had reached the Garou of Brandenburg and their kinfolk among the Semnones. However, the next news of the Romans was even more surprising. A Roman by the name of Kaiser had conquered Gaul and established a new frontier along the banks of the Rhine River. He defeated the great warrior Ariovistus who had failed in his own attempt to conquer Gaul. He had even built a 400 meter bridge in ten days and crossed it to battle even more Germans before returning across the bridge and burned it down. The lesson of Rome’s might – and the power of the Weaver in the southern lands – was clear to all. Those Germans defeated by Caesar or his successors became the inhabitants of the first cities in Germania to defend the borders of the Roman world when the city of Cologne was established.
To show contempt for its power, the Fenrir kinfolk of the Sugambrians, Usipians, and Tencterians along the Rhine raided Gaul once more decades later, defeating the Roman governor Lollius and taking back vast treasure and loot. This angered the Romes who feared the vast crops and taxes of Gaul could be lost. The Roman response showed once more how strong the Weaver had grown.
Kaiser’s adopted son Augustus moved to the Rhine border and prepared a vast undertaking. Although the lands of the Germans were poor, they could not be allowed to threaten Roman Gaul. He attacked Germania simultaneously from the Rhine, the Danube, and from the North Sea coast with a fleet. In several years, the Romans defeated the Germanic tribes by a mixture of battle, cunning, and diplomacy. Rome advanced eastward until it reachd the Elbe River. The lands of the caerns of Germania like those of Gaul were now held by those loyal to Rome. Not far away, the Garou of Brandenburg wondered if their kinfolk too would be made to bow to the Emperors of Rome.
The conqueror of Germania was Nero Claudius Drusus, the adopted son of Augustus and likely heir to the empire itself. Despite this success Augustus forbade his armies to cross the Elbe. This decision was apparently sanctioned by the gods, for it was said that when Drusus approached the water a horrible giantess had appeared and warned him to go back as he had only a short time to live. Drusus retreated and after his victories, he fell from his horse on the way back to Rome, broke his thigh, and died of wound-fever after one month, being only 29 years old. It convincied his companions that they had in fact seen a deity.
The Romans had not conquered alone. Their legions were augmented by the warriors of Germanic tribes who saw the benefit of serving Rome. They received generous payment and valuable weapons. They inevitably learned the Roman tactics, the Roman language, Roman customs, and often even got to know other countries of the Roman world empire: Many Germanic noblemen came to Rome; some even acquired Roman citizenship. A loyal and brave squad of Germanic warriors exchanged their Barbarian huts for the Emperor’s palace in Rome – whom they now served as bodyguards. Other Germanic warriors came as far as Palestine, where they served as bodyguards for the tetrarch Herodes, whom the Romans had installed as king of the Jews. Although the Fenrir Garou stayed with their caerns, many of their kinfolk explored the world for the first time. While some returned, others stayed and their blood became intermingled with those of other Garou tribes and became lost to the Fenrir.
It appeared most of Germania would become Roman, but the Silver Fangs of House Gleaming Eye did not intend to lose their prestige by surrendering to Rome. Many of the Patrician families of Rome claimed descent from Silver Fang kinfolk of another royal house, the Conquering Claw who allied with other Garou tribes who were enemies of the Fenrir – the Warders and Black Furies. The Silver Fangs of one house would not bend knee to the other. When the Garou of those tribes arrived to claim control of some caerns belonging to the Fenrir, the Fenrir of Brandenburg had decided things had gone too far. The Veil even in those days often meant the Garou would not involve themselves in the affairs of mortals, but control of the caerns was another matter entirely.
Therefore, the Silver Fangs of Gleaming Eye rallied the Fenrir to resist. However, it was a mere mortal among the noble families of the Cherusci – known now only as Arminius – who lead a conspiracy against Rome abetted by the kinfolk of the Fenrir. They betrayed and slaughtered three Roman legions at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. Few survived. In the middle of the plain, bones lay either spread out or heaped, depending on whether they had fled or resisted. Next to the bones lay bits of spears and horse limbs, and there were also human heads nailed to trees. In the nearby groves were barbarian altars in which they had sacrificed tribunes and centurions of the first rank.
The work of thirty years – exploration, diplomacy, roads, provincal administration, cities – ruined. The Romans would send in more legions afterwards to avenge their defeat, but this time they did not stay. Rome had abandoned Germania forever. Soon afterwards, the Fenrir celebrated their victory by creation of a caern at the site of the battle which today is known as the Sept of the Blood Fist.
Wars of the Silver Fangs
With the defeat of Rome, the Garou east of the Elbe were safe from the webs of the Weaver. The Fenrir thought the old ways would be preserved forever. However, with the arrival of Rome’s legions came vast changes for the Garou. The lands of the west were long ruled by the Silver Fangs of House Winter Snow. They were old among the Silver Fangs, the first to enter Europe from the boreal forests of the east. Now their rival cousins of Conquering Claw seized their caerns and protectorates in Gaul and Britain; and even tried to do the same in Germania against Gleaming Eye. Each Silver Fang house called their allies – the Fianna, the Warders, and even the Fenrir. Battles were glorious and terrible a the Garou fought one another to control the caerns of northern and western Europe. Many songs were song, but as they did the Romans built their roads and cities and planted their long rows of grain and grapes.
But all this was far from the forests and fens of Brandenburg. The Fenrir there travelled farther than they had before, visiting new caerns and negotiating with the other tribes. Many chose to follow the Silver Fangs of Gleaming Eye as they battled other Garou allied to Winter Snow or Conquering Claw.
The wars of the Garou were not unknown to their kinfolk and mortals of Germania. The peoples beyond the Rhine began moving. In the late second century as we now reckon time, the tribe of the Semnones left Brandenburg to settle along the River Mainz near the Rhine frontier. Many homid kinfolk left with them. Some few stayed as did the lupus Fenrir. Few caerns of any note were here so there were many other lands more attractive than this region of swamp and forest. With the Semnonen gone, the Burgundians came from the isle of Bornholm who also had kinfolk of the Fenrir. Such migrations were not new, and the Garou felt confident things would stay the same as always.
For four centuries the legions of Rome stood sentry along the Rhine and Danube, but that would not last forever.
Age of Migrations
After centuries, even Rome became decadent and senile.
It was only now that the first black rats entered Europe, spreading from Roman ships and throughout the cities Rome built. Shortly after the rats came, came their children – the Bone Gnawers. They first appeared in the Roman cities along the Rhine. The Garou of Germany did not know what to make do with them. They were weak and sick, but somehow they survivid. They were a sympton of Rome’s degeneration. They were invaders of a sort, but there was no honor in their movements. The Children of Rat grew like they always did, by taking all those rejected by the other tribes.
From the east came the Huns. They first invaded the lands of the Goths and then moved west into Germany. These warriors put great pressure on the Germanic tribes who sought the lands of Rome for their own. Rome suffered from the vices of the Wyrm, hollowing out what the Weaver once built. Ravaged by disease, high taxataion, and civil war, Rome lacked the strength. On December 31 in AD 406, the Rhine River froze, and the masses of the German people crossed over. Seventy years later the western Roman Empire no longer existed. But what happened in the lands of the west is not our story.
With the Germanic peoples leaving, the former German lands east of the Elbe were given to the Hunnic Confederacy. And with the Huns came the kinfolk and Garou of the Shadow Lords. They joined the Silver Fangs, Fenrir, and Red Talons. They paid chiminage and honored the Garou of the tribes who had been here since the dawn of the world.
At first they were few.
The Triumph of Wodan
In the lands east and north of the Elbe, the great enemy Wodan appeared once again after not being seen for centuries. He rarely walked the forests of the north, slumbering in secret and gathering great power to himself. He extended his foul alliance with the corrupt fae House of Vanir. By chiminage they made alliance with terrible Banes and spirits, and they seized certain villages and lesser caerns.
Then in the year 535, a terrible omen occurred.
It came about during this year that a most dreaded portent took place. For the sun gave forth its light like the moon without brightness during this whole year, and it seemed exceedingly like the sun in the eclipse, for the beams it shed were not clear nor such as it is accustomed to shed. And from the time, when this thing happened men were neither free from war nor pestilence nor any other thing leading to death.
Procopius of Caesarea: History of the wars 4.14.5-6.
The sun dimmed. The snow was severe. The great ocean sea was tumultuous with spray. The birds perished. The harvest failed. Not for months, but years.
Why this happened, no one knows, but it was the work of ancient and deep magic. In this terrible time, Wodan rose once again to seduce a people desperate for any hope. Now this cunning and foul Leech usurped the rightful role of Ziu as the object of worship among the Germanic kings. He promised them power and knowledge and armed them with companions for battle. His walkures gathered the dead in great mockery of the living while he made pacts with Banes that created terrible fomori besides the draugr. These men now possessed the means to transform themselves into wild animals of bears and wolves in hollow mockery of the Changing Peoples.
Fenrir heroes had slaughtered many of the spawn of Wodan, but the All High and his chief servants escaped their wrath.
For thousands of years had the Garou and their kinfolk served as shamans and priests among the Flock, and kept them loyal to Gaia. But the Fenrir learned the bitter truth behind the Veil. They had been too open in their worship, and Wodan knew his enemy and set his minions to destroy the kinfolk. The Garou’s kin were forced to hide their allegiance and scatter for protection. Wodan’s minions took their place among the beserkers and ulfhednar, and turned the Flock against the Get of Fenris whom they now feared and hated. The caern at Uppsala was taken and cruelly corrupted. Alone among the “gods” did Wodan receive human sacrifice. Offered up to him and his proxies were prisoners-of-war, servants or criminals. In times of crisis members of the most noble families could be sacrificed to appease the Furious One. The Blood Eagle was dedicated to him. The rites of Nerthus were no longer followed among the Flock. Great Fenris himself became an object of revile and hate among them.
The petty kings of Germania and the North were not wholly under the thrall of Wodan, but centuries of struggle had corrupted their sacred rites and beliefs. To defeat the All High, the Fenrir would need to change their tactics. The secrets of wolflore became hidden underneath the Veil.
The Time of the Shadow Lords
The war against Wodan had greatly weakened the Garou of Brandenburg who were left with few kin to replace their blood. Many Germanic peoples in Brandenburg had migrated west towards the Roman frontier in search of richer lands. In response, the Slavic peoples came west in turn. By 720, the first Slavs coming from Moravia had replaced the local Germans. The remnants of the Germanic tribes were absorbed into these Slav groups. While some Fenrir kinfolk remained and adopted the Slavic language and even customs, new Garou arrived from the east, the Shadow Lords and their kinfolk.
So it was now the Shadow Lords treacherously attacked the Fenris east of the Elbe and stole their caerns. Their kinfolk and Flock from among the Slavs crossed the River Oder and occupied the lands of the Havel and Spree. They were joined by their masters, the Silver Fangs of Clan Crescent Moon, the eldest and most prestigious of the Silver Fang royal houses. Some Fenrir remained, as did the Red Talons, but it was the Shadow Lords and their leaders who ruled. For the first time since the Long Winter, another tribe held sway over these lands. Their legacy would be long. The very name Brandenburg comes from the Slavic village of Brennabor meaning “defense fort”.
The Shadow Lords would not be the last Garou to enter Germany. After the kinfolk of the Fenrir crossed the Rhine and ended the Western Roman Empire’s misery, the Bone Gnawers dispersed from the dying cities. Eventually they would one day become the serfs of the superior tribes during the Middle Ages. But it would still be centuries before these Garou reached the land of Brandenburg.
For several centuries the Shadow Lords ruled the Havel and Spree. The western Slavs here, called Wends, lived in small settlements of several hundred people named Spandau, Potsdam, Treptow, Kopenick, Gatow, Steglitz, and Pankow among others. The Flock among the Wends worshipped Dazbog, the god of the sun, and Jarovit, god of the spring among others. The kinfolk of the Garou worshipped Gaia in secret as they always did. Some of the Fenrir kinfolk remained pure and protected by the few remaining Fenrir Garou; while others were lost to the Shadow Lords.
The Silver Fangs of house Gleaming Eye were not welcomed though. The kings of Clan Crescent Moon would not tolerate them. The rivalry among the ancient royal lines continued.
In 773, disaster struck, as the great Caern on the Isle of Rugen along the Baltic Shore were seized by human wizards and turned into one of their magical covenants. The caern at Rugen was powerful, and never before had such a caern fallen to wizards so far to the north. The caern, like many others east of the Elbe, had fallen to the Shadow Lords after the numbers of Fenrir had fallen. News reach the Fenrir who lived west of the Elbe, and they reacted in horror. The caern at Rugen, the Fenrir said, would never had fallen if the Get still tended their old lands. When their ancestors had left centuries ago, it was with the belief that the Garou of other tribes would keep the caerns left in their trust safe. This was obviously not so. The Shadow Lords had proven weak. Word began to spread that the Fenrir should return there. They just needed their kinfolk to come with them.
Christ and Charlemagne
The eastern Germanics who once lived in Scythia had converted to the Arian creed of Christianity before their arrival in the Roman Empire, and thereafter adopted Catholicism in the long centuries after Rome’s fall. But few of the Germanic tribes between the Rhine and Oder had done so. However, this changed when the Franks who now occupied the old Roman provinces of northern Gaul converted. From this event would one day spawn the Carolingian Empire.
The fall of Rome only seemed to create more problems. Instead of destroying civilization, the Silver Fangs decided it was better to guide it and lead the humans by example. Therefore, the homid Silver Fangs within the old imperial boundaries began breeding with humans in positions of power to raise a natural aristocracy.
The survival of civilization meant the continuance of the Christian Church, and after the King of the Franks united the splintered pieces of the old Western Empire, they defended the Church who sent missionaries beyond the Rhine. The Garou within the old borders of Rome knew the power of the White Christ, but those beyond the Rhine dismissed such tales as the excuses of cowards and weaklings. The Get of Fenris would soon learn the truth.
In the early eighth century, St Boniface – the Apostle of the Germans – arrived in the wilds of Germania and the lands of the Saxons. Armed with Faith in the White Christ, no Garou was able to touch him. Their Rage left them, stranding them in breed form. Boniface boldly walked into the sacred places of the Saxons, some secretly caerns attended by Saxon kinfolk of the Get of Fenris. In AD 723, St Boniface destroyed the caern at modern day Fritzlar, Hessia cutting down the Donar’s Oak.
Cowed by his Faith, the Garou had nevertheless not believed him capable of cutting down this embodiment of the caern which had the characteristics of an oak of iron. As Boniface started to chop the oak down, suddenly a great wind, as if by miracle, blew the ancient oak over. When the caern spirit did not strike him down, the people were amazed. The Garou of Germany saw the last vestiges of their hold over the religion of the Flock evaporate. The Flock began to convert en masse to Christianity, and Boniface built a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter from its wood at the site – the beginning of the monastery in Fritzlar. What was once a holy spot of the Garou was now so strong in Faith that no Garou could even change shape there.
The Get of Fenris did not intend to take such a defeat in stride, and encouraged their kinfolk to wage war against the Franks. Charles the Great, called Charlemagne, had united the old lands of Rome and re-established the empire. He now lead them into battle. For many decades did Saxon and Frank struggle. Incensed at the decades long war, Charlemagne ordered the masacre of thousands of Fenrir kinfolk at the Bloody Verdict of Verden in AD 782. In 785, the last leader (and kinfolk) of the Saxons Widukind submitted to Charlemagne at Paderborn and was baptized. By 804, the wars were over, and Charlemagne had brought the imperial armies back to the River Elbe which the old empire had never done since their defeat in the Teutoburg Forest so long ago.
For the first time the civilization and the followers of the White Christ arrived on the border of Brandenburg. In AD 805 the Emperor founded the city of Magdeburg along the bank of the River Elbe. It would become the greatest city of the east. Later Henry the Fowler would fortify the town in 919, and his son Otto the Great and his wife would later be buried there, in their favorite city.
Not all Garou had fought against the Empire. Many kinfolk had arrived in Gaul during the invasions of Rome, and they had aligned themselves with the Frankish Kings and Christian Church. The Silver Fangs assisted the Carolingian Dynasty to re-establish the Western Empire. In Germany, several important noble familes of the Uradel, or Old Nobility, those with ancestors of free and knightly birth before the mid-fourteenth century, became Silver Fang kinfolk of House Gleaming Eye. They knew the old ways were over, but believed the Garou could still thrive in the new era.
When they arrived at the Elbe, they had seen what had happened with the old Fenrir caerns east of the Elbe. The Tribe of Shadow Lords was everywhere, and the caern at Rugen – far more important than the Donar’s Oak – had fallen to people with far less power than the saints.
To Be Continued…