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January 4, 2008, 4:04 am

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Dark Templars of Nurmel


An dark order of holy warriors, dedicated to the creed of Vengeance and Slaughter.

In the time not long after the death of the God of Vengeance, and the fall of the God of War to become the Lord of Slaughter, a holy knight by the name of Stephen Auria, dedicated to the ideal of noble War, was struck by a strange crossbow bolt while traveling between towns with a small number of his order. Swiftly catching the shooter - a grinning madman who made only a token effort to escape - Stephen swiftly grew frustrated with interrogating the man, and finally pronounced judgment, beheading the man with a single blow of his battleaxe.

The crossbow bolt was, in fact, the Bolt of Twilight, and with the death of the shooter - a cultist of Valeras who had volunteered to be the first to die to bring about their Lord’s return - the bolt’s terrible power took hold, burning the cultist’s lifeforce to poison the wound with a weak form of the toxin that once dripped from Valeras’s stingers. This poison coursed through Stephen’s veins and poisoned his soul and mind, creating a fertile ground for the seeds of suspicion, fear, hatred, and rage.

When he heard of temples of War rededicating themselves to other gods who were not fallen, his corrupted soul rebelled at the thought of ‘abandoning’ Goge in his hour of need; surely, he reasoned, this was treachery from the other gods, who Goge had fought so valiantly for in the battle against Valeras. Quietly going among the ranks of his men, he weeded out those who felt that War’s time might be over, murdering them in silent treachery and leaving their bodies buried in a paupers’ graveyard. Those loyal to that which Goge had once embodied, he spoke to rousingly, preaching of the treachery of the other gods, and the falseness of those who would turn from their Lord at this vital hour. Many found themselves swayed by his words, and the few who spoke against him soon suffered unfortunate ends, always in darkness where none could see the blade which ended them.

Having slain nearly two-thirds of his original followers, Stephen led the remaining faithful of Goge to the nearly forgotten ruins of the temple of War in the town of Nurmel, which had once been a small city-state not far from the cities which had fallen to Valeras at his height, evicting the squatters who had taken up residence and establishing it as a stronghold for those loyal to the fallen god. At the advice of his second in command, Stephen declared the newly reforged order to be the Dark Templars - a stance of defiance against all who would revile Goge, wielder of the Spear of the Dawn.

The order remained small for nearly half a decade, only a few new members trickling in, as many of Goge’s faithful looked to the new fires burning in the northern skies before turning to those gods not poisoned by Valeras. The order experienced a sudden growth, however, when they took to the field of battle against a band of Goblins raiding the towns near their stronghold; slaughtering all the raiders, and soon hunting down and exterminating the entire settlement of the loathsome dwarf-spawn, they were hailed as heroes by those who had been plagued by the fell creatures. Bolstered by the support, the Dark Templars established small shrines in each of the settlements they had saved, and soon tales of their deeds were spreading - heroism and bloodlust mixing to paint a disturbing picture to those farther from the strongholds of the Order, as foes they went to battle against were given no quarter, and often entire settlements of their foes were razed, all those within put to the sword as a "lesson" to those who would oppose the Order.

Nearly a century after their founding, with Stephen having fallen in battle sixty years before and the order spanning a sizable area, near to a fortnight’s ride in span, the Dark Templars met foes they could not defeat in battle; the orders of knights serving the Steelborn Queen and the Master of Iron, each serving as a border which the Dark Templars could not pass. Many were the clashes between the Dark Templars and these foes, often at a terrible cost to the Steel Knights and the Disciples of Iron, but the Dark Templars could not break them.

Over time, the borders of the territory the Dark Templars hold sway over has fluctuated - sometimes shrinking in times of peace, but always erupting again when violence visits the land and their grim ‘protection’ is called for. The Dark Templars still profess loyalty to Goge as the God of War, at least in public; the private shrines within the strongholds of the order, however, are often dual-purpose, venerating both the Lord of Slaughter and the Lord of Vegeance - for now the grudge against the implacable foes who stand against them and confine them to the lands within a week’s ride of Nurmel is a thing as encoded into the Code of the Dark Templars as their loyalty to Goge, no matter the form the god takes.

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