"Huge he was, with eyes that burned beneath a wolf-skulled helm He took Asal and Haakon, though they were wounded until death. Then it was as if he turned into a flash of lightning, and he was gone."
- — Koloth, Headman of the Bear Claws
A Wolf Priest is a specialist officer unique to the Space Wolves Space Marine Chapter. A combination of the roles of Chaplain and Apothecary found in Codex-compliant Chapters, the Wolf Priests administer to the physical and mental well-being of the Chapter’s warriors and also choose the Aspirants to the Chapter from amongst the feral barbarian tribes of Fenris. These dour warriors combine the attributes of both medics, trained in the arts of healing and the lore of genetics, and cult leaders, heavy with the accumulated wisdom of the ages. The Wolf Priests have no master save the Great Wolf himself, the Master of the Space Wolves Chapter.
As leaders of the Space Wolves, the Wolf Priests are the most revered of their kind, holding such authority that even the proudest of Wolf Lords step aside at their passing. They are the guardians of genetic, spiritual and physical heritage of the Chapter. As Choosers of the Valiant, it is the Wolf Priests who choose those who are worthy to undergo the transformation into a Space Wolf, taking responsibility for their charges as they progress through the ranks from lowly Blood Claw to venerable Long Fang and beyond. They can often be seen standing on a rocky pinnacle high above, watching the blood-pitched battles as the Fenrisian tribes fight their brutal wars against one another -- the Wolf Priests penetrating gaze falling upon each warrior in turn. Should one amongst their number prove himself truly exceptional during the day's fighting he may find himself visited by a vision out of a nightmare. After the conclusion of the battle, when the blood-soaked battlefield is littered with corpses, a looming, armoured figure, black as Morkai's fur and wearing a leering wolf skull helm instead of a face, may emerge silently from the shadows. They beckon those chosen Fenrisian warrior to come with him, to walk away from the love and warmth of their family forever. It is said that no single tribesman has ever refused, for legends foretell that the Wolf Priests not only possess the ability to imbue true greatness, but also hold the keys to the stars themselves. Even those chosen warriors who have suffered grievous wounds which would ordinarily kill them, the skills of the Wolf Priests are such that they can heal those with the will to live.
Learned in the ways of bio-mechanics and chirurgy, it is the Wolf Priests who oversee an Aspirant as they undergo the long and dangerous transformation into a Space Wolf, monitoring their charges for signs of the Curse of the Wulfen, and administer the last rites over a Battle-Brother’s remains should he fall in battle. The first and last face a warrior will see in his career as a Space Wolf is the lupine skull-mask of a Wolf Priest, for it is he who guides a warrior's apotheosis in those early years, and he who administers the Rites of Morkai when that warrior bleeds his last upon the field of battle. In essence, the Wolf Priests combine the roles and responsibilities carried out in other Chapters by Chaplains and Apothecaries, yet the rank is far more than the sum of these two parts. To the Space Wolves, the Canis Helix is the direct inheritance of their Primarch, his blood pumping through their veins as his spirit and courage swells their savage souls. The Wolf Priests administer to body and soul as a whole, for to them, both are one and the same.
In battle, the Wolf Priests serve as living embodiments of all their Chapter stands for: black-armoured incarnations of death whose very presence drives their charges onwards to ever-greater feats. Their battle cries resound across the battlefield, filling the hearts of the Space Wolves with savage joy and those of the enemy with unfettered terror. Should a Space Wolf fall, a Wolf Priest is there at his side, the Fang of Morkai ready to extract his progenoid so that his legacy is secured. Though they reap the Gene-Seed of the fallen in much the same way as the Apothecaries of other Space Marine Chapters, preserving the genetic heritage of his brethren is far from the Wolf Priests' only duty. They also function as cult leaders and spiritual guides in the manner of a Space Marine Chaplain, each a living conduit that maintains the Chapter's connections to the Imperial Creed.
Given their role as wards of the bodily and spiritual health of the Space Wolves, it is a rare thing indeed for a Wolf Priest to join the ranks of the Deathwatch. A rare few Wolf Priests take the Apocryphon Oath, and serve a Vigil of the Long Watch with the Deathwatch, the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Xenos, often early in their careers, in order that they might become adept at fighting the many foes the Deathwatch must face. In the ranks of the Deathwatch, the Wolf Priest faces enemies he might never otherwise have encountered, and in so doing earns great wisdom to pass on to his charges on his return to his Chapter. In accepting a Wolf Priest into his Watch Fortress, a Watch Commander gains the services of an individual of unique skill and ability. His knowledge of both the Apothecary’s arts and the duties of the Chaplain are of course valuable, but there is far more to it than that. The greatest of Wolf Priests are able to extend their ministrations to all of the Battle-Brothers they serve alongside, inspiring each and every one to epic deeds of courage worthy of the greatest heroes of the Space Wolves and of the Adeptus Astartes as a whole.
The raiment of a Wolf Priest is more than an assortment of practical tools; each item represents some spiritual or traditional facet of Fenrisian culture or the Chapter Cult of the Space Wolves:
- Artificer Power Armour
- Wolf Skull Helm - One of the most recognisable totems of their office, these fearsome and grotesque artificer-made helms represents their connection with death and the cycle of life and death, the cycle that the Wolf Priests represent to the people of Fenris and the Space Wolves.
- Crozius Arcanum - These winged, wolf skull-topped weapons are used as both a melee weapon and the primary badge of office of a Wolf Priest, fundamentally identical to the same weapons carried by Chaplains in other Chapters. These heavy mauls are wreathed in crackling disruption fields, and more importantly serve as a symbol of the bearer's status as a spiritual guardian of his Battle-Brothers.
- Wolf Amulet - The Wolf Priests bear potent amulets that protect both body and soul from the mortal blows and baleful energies alike. These amulets contain a potent force field generator capable of turning aside mighty blows and ravening energies. These amulets are fundamentally similar to the standard Rosarius worn by Chaplains in other Chapters and high ranking members of the Ecclesiarchy.
- Fang of Morkai - As much as they are the spiritual guardians of the Space Wolves, Wolf Priests also guard over the physical well-being and genetic legacy of their brethren, and require tools necessary for that vital role. Unlike the Apothecaries of other Chapters, Wolf Priests do not carry complex Narthecium arrays, but prefer instead to bear an assortment of potions, balms and herbal cures and a vicious-looking, complex, multi-bladed device known as the Fang of Morkai, which allows the extraction of a dying Space Wolf's Progenoid Glands so that his essence may live on to fight once again in a new host. The Fang of Morkai functions exactly as a Reductor. The presence of a Wolf Priest in battle will fortify those Space Wolves nearby as he leads them forth to slay his chosen foes, for the Space Wolves known that the Wolf Priests will carry the worthy beyond the gates of Morkai, that they might fight the enemies of the Allfather forever more.
Notable Wolf Priests
- Ulrik the Slayer - Also known as Grandfather Lupus and the Guardian of the Sons of Russ, Ulrik is the Wolf High Priest of the Space Wolves Space Marine Chapter and is the oldest of all the Space Wolves other than the Chapter's Dreadnoughts. His great mane is white as the slopes of Asaheim on the Space Wolves' Chapter homeworld of Fenris. Legend has it that Ulrik is older even than the mighty Logan Grimnar, the current Great Wolf of the Chapter, who has fought in the name of the Emperor for over 700 Terran years.
- Irnist the Wise - Wolf Priest of the Chapter, Irnist the Wise is the twin brother to Erik Morkai and advisor to the Great Wolf Logan Grimnar.
- Ranek Icewalker - Wolf Priest of the Chapter who served in Wolf Lord Berek Thunderfist's Great Company. Ranek was the Wolf Priest who chose Ragnar Blackmane to become a Neophyte of the Chapter and first saw greatness in him. Ranek was Blackmane's friend and mentor and was one of the few Space Wolves to praise Blackmane for losing the Spear of Russ to prevent the emergence of the Thousand Sons Daemon Primarch, Magnus the Red, from the Warp on the world of Garm. He has remained the young Wolf Lord's close mentor and confidante.
- Thrar "Wyrmblade" Hraldir - Wolf Priest during the 32nd Millennium. He was instrumental in the gene program known as The Tempering -- the effort to expunge the genetic deficiencies of the Space Wolves' gene-seed in order to create new Successor Chapters. He had come closer than any other since the time of the Emperor himself at understanding the Canis Helix. During the First Battle of The Fang, he confronted the Thousand Sons Daemon Primarch Magnus the Red and was slain. With his death, the secrets of the Space Wolves gene-seed and how to remove the taint of the Curse of the Wulfen died with him.
- Sigurd - A young Wolf Priest, Sigurd fought alongside Ragnar Blackmane during his time in the Wolf Blade and would later fight alongside him when he became the Wolf Lord of his own Great Company. While initially at odds with Blackmane, Sigurd learned to value Ragnar's abilities as a warrior and a leader and is now amongst that Wolf Lord's most trusted officers.
- Najot Threader - A Wolf Priest during the Horus Heresy era who fought during the Fall of Prospero.
- Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pp. 35, 50
- Codex: Space Wolves (3rd Edition), p. 6
- Codex: Space Wolves (2nd Edition), pp. 39, 48, 62
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 62-64
- Index Astartes II, "Wolves of Fenris - The Space Wolves Space Marine Chapter" & "For the Emperor - Space Marine Chaplains"
- Space Wolf (Novel) by William King
- Wolf's Honour (Novel) by Lee Lightner
- Prospero Burns (Novel) by Dan Abnett