|This article is about the Mutated Space Wolves; for the Short Story by Chris Wraight, see Wulfen (Short Story).|
The unique properties of the Wolves' gene-seed gift their brothers with enhanced abilities beyond even those of other Space Marines, including hyper-acute senses of smell and hearing, elongated canines that can dent plasteel, and leathery, resilient skin[1a]. Unfortunately, these same properties risk turning the man who absorbs them into a feral beast, an aspect known as the Curse of the Wulfen among the Space Wolves.
The first risk of transformation comes during the final initiation rites for Aspirant Wolves, when they drink from the Cup of Wulfen and absorb the first and most deadly component of the gene-seed, the Canis Helix. The Helix causes a violent transformation to the Aspirant's body which is always painful and sometimes fatal[1b]. Those Aspirants who are not killed revert to a bestial state, hungry for raw meat and blood. During their final trial, the Test of Morkai, the Aspirant is required to make his way back to The Fang through the harsh Fenrisian wilderness, fighting the dehumanizing effects of the Helix. Those who fail to do so become entirely feral and stay in the wild, hunting future Aspirants[1b]. Those who succeed and return to the Fang are implanted with the remaining components of the gene-seed, which stabilizes the effects of the Helix. However, even after initiation into the chapter, many Wolves are never entirely free of the Curse, and risk reverting to their bestial state in moments of great stress[1b]. Part of the duties of the Wolf Priests is to watch over their brothers in battle, and remind them of their better instincts when they are in danger of succumbing to the Curse[1c].
The Wulfen supposedly take their name from Wulfen, a chieftan of Fenris who was the first to accept Leman Russ's offer to become a transhuman Space Marine, but because of his secret ambition and jealousy of Russ, the geneseed turned him into a vicious monster instead. Despite the general belief that Wulfen were entirely bestial and thus irredeemable, there were rare cases where Wolf brothers could be reasoned with and brought under control.
In late M41, the Wolves' arch-rivals, the Thousand Sons Chaos Space Marines, conducted a ritual using relics stolen from the chapter, including the sacred Spear of Russ and the gene-seed of several fallen Wolves. With these, the Sorcerer Madox planned to generate an interstellar field that would transform all the Wolves into Wulfen. This ritual was stopped by Ragnar Blackmane, though not before its effects caused havoc among several of the chapter's brothers.
The Wulfen openly returned to the Imperium in the closing years of the 41st Millennium, rescuing Harald Deathwolf and his forces from a Chaos ambush during the Battle of Nurades. In the aftermath of the battle, the Wulfen were brought before Great Wolf Logan Grimnar and Wolf Priest Ulrik. Ulrik proclaimed that the return of the Wulfen was an omen that Leman Russ' return was imminent. A fierce debate over the future of the Chapter and what to do with the Wulfen erupted. Ultimately, Ragnar Blackmane proclaimed that the Wulfen must be gathered and brought to Fenris before they were found by the Inquisition or other Imperial authorities. Thus the Great Companies of the Space Wolves set off to gather the Wulfen, which were now being spotted near Warp Storms, in the hopes they could lead them to the Space Wolves' lost Primarch.[4a]
Worryingly, it appears that close proximity to or contact with one of the Wulfen may now be sufficient to infect their uncorrupted bretheren, thus meaning the "Curse of the Wulfen" has become contagious.[4b] The Wolf High Priest Ulrik had hoped that the Primaris could be the key to a cure for the affliction, however, recent events at Smelter's Heap have confirmed that these new Brothers are also succeptible to the Curse..
- 1: Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition)
- 2: Space Wolf (Novel) — The Space Wolf Omnibus by William King, Chapter Ten, pg. 155–156
- 3: Wolf's Honour (Novel) by Lee Lightner, [Needs Citation]
- 4: War Zone Fenris: Curse of the Wulfen
- 5: Codex: Space Wolves (8th Edition), pg. 21
- 6: Twelve Wolves (Short Story) by Ben Counter