"I built it... for the unwanted."
A messenger strode through the darkened hallways of the labyrinth-like city, a note clutched in his clawed hand. He had pried it from the dead hand of one of his oldest friends, who had been found slumped at his post. It bode ill of things to come. The note itself was written in a strange script, one the messenger had never seen before. But then, he wasn't paid to. He was a simple messenger and nothing more. He relayed things to and from the King. Finding a dead guard, and a personal acquaintance at that, at the entrance was a bad omen. There were signs of an extended struggle. The message was written in blood. Whose, the messenger didn't want to find out.
"I built it... for the unaccepted."
Rounding a corner, the messenger was halted by a pair of guards. A quick exchange later and he was on his way again. The guards hadn't seen nor heard anything. That made the death even more bizarre. Why would someone slaughter a guard and then not try to enter the city he was guarding? And what the hell had he used to fight with? Clearly, this wasn't a wanded fight. His friend, while not amazing with a wand, was certainly good enough to do his job quite well. But he had literally been found in pieces. It hadn't been a pretty sight. But then, reasoned the messenger, at least he had found what they were all searching for. He had found peace.
"I built it... for the undead."
Pushing through a pair of large, double doors, the man strode into a large, circular room. A number of doors lined the walls, each with a set of guards on either side of it. They were merely for show, of course, as the man in the room's center needed no guards. But it helped his people rest easily. Rest was so hard to get anymore. Any little bit helped. It was one of the many things he was willing to allow for his people. He sat on his throne day in, day out, listening to news of the outside world and instructing his men on what to do. He sat and he waited, as it was one of the few things he could do without causing a panic. Everyone in the city respected him. He had offered them a home, after all, and he ensured their safety.
"My Lord." Said the messenger as he approached the stairs leading up to the throne. "I bring troubling news."
The man on the throne, Sergei Wagner, lifted his head. Through the blackness of his hood, two burning, red eyes could be made out. "Have the Death Eaters been spotted once more?"
"I do not know. But Belmot is dead, his parts strewn about the far northeastern entrance. I found this in one of his hands, my Lord. I do not know the writing, but I thought you might." Said the messenger, holding the note out.
Wagner took hold of it like one would take hold of a baby, as though any sudden movement would destroy it. Bringing it closer to his face, a silence fell the room as he read. "...This is not good. Damn that man and all he stands for! Have the warnings not been enough?!"
"My Lord?" Asked the messenger. "What is it? What has happened to my friend?"
"Belmot was killed by a Death Eater. One trying to send a message to me. Voldemort has arrived in Germany. He is personally overseeing a small force of his Death Eaters. Apparently the ones we sent back to him did not get the point across!" Hissed Wagner, clutching the note in his hand.
"What should I do, my Lord?"
Wagner looked at the messenger for a moment before quietly replying, "Tell the guards to spread the word. Though there has been nothing indicating Ur'terash has been infiltrated, there is no reason to believe it hasn't. I want everyone on patrol and checking in on those incapable of defending themselves. I will personally walk the halls of my city until I feel satisfied that nothing unholier than us has breached her corridors."
Nodding, the messenger turned and quickly went to spread the words to the guards around the room. Watching him, Wagner closed his eyes and let out a low, rattling breath. It had been a long time since anyone dared try to push their luck with him. And while their peaceful lives existed only as far as they allowed themselves to forget their own situations, it was a peace that Wagner had hoped would maintain.
Unfortunately, Voldemort's mobilization and sudden presence in Germany had not been a good sign. Ur'terash was a vast city, connected with long tunnels underground. They lived in the dark because they were feared where the light could be found. They protected their home with their lives, as they were quite difficult to kill. Willing guards had been found quickly for a number of reasons. They wanted to give back to the man who had provided them sanctuary. But they also hoped that, some day, they would be killed in the line of duty. It was a peace that all of them wished for. It was a peace that none were likely to see.
Every wretched soul reanimated through foul magics was welcomed in this place. All sought protection from those who would do them harm and a method to end their eternal undeath. Unable to truly die, they were doomed to forever walk the earth. And whether their salvation came in the form of a cure or merely in a way to resume being dead, they didn't care. Necromancy at its most pathetic, the damned souls that walked Ur'terash worked day and night to try and end their own existance. And while the concept might not make sense to the living, the living were the reason that they had even come into being. They harbored deep-seeded hatred for both the truly living and the truly dead, for they could be neither until they found a cure.
Even the ruler of Ur'terash, the man who everyone in the city admired and respected, even Sergei Wagner was a victim of foul necromancers. One of the strongest men in all wizarding Germany during his life, Wagner had not been liked. He had used his magical strength to gain power. Power he had used to help govern the direction wizarding Germany had taken. When he died in 1884, parties were held far and wide.
But he hadn't been dead long when the necromancers had come for him. Assuming that his great power would have transcended death, they sought to control Wagner as an inferius. Or, at the very least, something resembling one.
Wagner's memories from his life were few and far between. But the memories from the moment he had been brought back were clear even to this day. His eyes had snapped open and he had sat bolt upright on the rock slab he had been placed on. All around him, a group of necromancers stood, channelling through their wands to give him power. It had been a foolish mistake on their part.
Initially playing along, Wagner had quickly turned on the group, ripping out one's throat and stealing his wand. The remaining necromancers had tried to bind him, but the fury inside the man had overpowered it and he broke free. Quickly slaughtering those that had desecrated his corpse, Wagner had taken their belongings and dressed himself. The sight of his own rotting body had disgusted the man. Scanning the surrounding area, Wagner had found notes that the necromancers had made. He was soon horrified to learn that he hadn't been the only one to be set upon. This hadn't been a lone collection of overzealous necromancers. They were merely the pawns of a man by the name of Johann Ahrends, a powerful sorcerer who sought eternal life.
Instead, he had found eternal undeath. He wanted immortality through any means necessary, even if it meant becoming a lich.
Bloodlust still pounding through his cold body, the newly reanimated Sergei Wagner had set out then. He had a goal - he had to find Ahrends and make him suffer for his crimes.
It hadn't been difficult to hunt the man down. Like a moth to a flame, Wagner had seemed drawn to sites where other necromancers were gathering. It was a simple matter of following them back to their leader. Ahrends was holed up in a small castle in the middle of a frozen wasteland, his necromancers constantly entering and exiting.
Wagner had fought his way inside, as the long trip had provided him ample time to ensure that his wand skills hadn't deteriorated like his body. Though he had been too focused at the time to notice, Wagner later recalled catching glimpses of other undead experiments being worked on throughout the castle. Some chained to the walls, some being dissected on cold slabs, some shambling back and forth into one another, their higher thought processes having not returned with their bodies.
Ahrends had destroyed most of the castle in the struggle that had ensued when Wagner had reached him. But the fight had ended with Wagner victorious. By some twist of fate, he had arrived the very night that Ahrends was planning to undergo his transformation into a lich. Wagner stole the completed phylactery and, after striking down Ahrends, went about undergoing the process himself. The pain he had felt during this time was greater than any he'd felt before or since. But he had somehow survived the ordeal.
He had survived and, he had quickly realized, his powers had grown far beyond anything he could have ever dreamed. The first thing he had used his new power to do was to gather the undead who had survived the assault on the castle. Because the power his transformation had given him had not gone to his head. He had been given a second chance.
This time, he wasn't going to screw things up. This time, he would make a difference.
He had gathered a small army of the undead eventually, as the years progressed. And finally, the idea was set out to stop their seemingly endless wandering. A plan to live in one spot of their own design. A place to try and live. A place to try and find an escape from their waking nightmare.
This had been the seed that had sprouted to become Ur'terash, Wagner's city of the undead. Its reach was vast and its fame widely known. Because while its entrances were carefully guarded, it was not impossible to hunt them down. The living world feared them, as Wagner's power had only grown over the years following his resurrection.
While his teams of undead worked on Ur'terash day in, day out, Wagner had left to seek out more help. He had sought out groups of necromancers, extinguishing their flames and rescuing those just brought back from the peace of death. He had offered them a home, a place they would be surrounded by friends. A place where everyone understood the torment they were going through.
And as Wagner travelled, collecting more to live in his sanctuary for the undead, the city expanded. Not needing sleep and barely needing sustenance, the undead worked around the clock to ensure that Ur'terash would be big enough to house all those who wished to live there. The name of the city itself had come from one of the books a necromancer had been carrying on him. It had been a tome detailing the history of a long-forgotten god that the necromancers once worshipped.
Because, in some twisted way, Wagner had almost become a necromancer himself. He had to know the process involved in returning a soul to its rotting body and reanimating it. He had to know because he needed to find a way to reverse the process. The soul had to be removed while returning the body to death. It had been the one thing Wagner still had yet to accomplish. It was something that plagued him every day of his life.
Of course, he had heard of the famed Dementors of wizarding Britain. Everyone in the wizarding world had. Many communities had creatures similar to Dementors, but none were as effective as the original creatures. He had even heard of cases where Dementors, after sucking out a person's soul, had been driven away, leaving the soul to gently return back into its vessel. It was something that had intrigued Wagner for a long time. Unfortunately, his priorities had always been with the city he had founded and he never had the chance to investigate further.
But now? Now it seemed that the darkness lying within wizarding Britain was coming to him. It wasn't a prospect he found enthralling. For the better part of the year, off and on, reports had been coming in from his scouts that the foot soldiers of the dark wizard Voldemort had breached the boundaries of Ur'terash's territory. What they were doing was still unknown, but they had been seen trying to dig in grave sites and that had been enough for Wagner to send his men into action.
They had even captured a live one to bring back to Wagner, who had been pleased at this. The Death Eater had been tortured for weeks, but he wouldn't divulge any information. Finally, he had given the order to slowly kill the man. His men had been all too eager to do so. And while he tried not to be a violent man, he also couldn't allow himself to grow soft just because no one had attempted to assault Ur'terash in a good many decades.
And it was then, as the man was being pulled apart, that he had talked. Screams and babbles gave way to hate-filled speeches regarding the undead and Voldemort's plans to create an army of the undead that would be greater than even Wagner's. He was seeking out mass graves. He was digging up bodies to resurrect. If there was one thing Wagner couldn't stand, it was seeing the undead being used as tools. He had seen great numbers of inferi standing stock still for days on end unless someone got near them, at which point they would attack unrelentingly. His people would not fall victim to this.
While Wagner's name was well known, the location of his city was not. The local government was well aware that Ur'terash was located somewhere near their territory, but Wagner had never given its precise location to anyone. Only the undead could find it easily. And if Voldemort was planning to turn the dead into inferi, they could be used to find his city. If Lord Voldemort wished it, there was almost nothing stopping him from an invasion. And if two large armies of the undead were to merge for any reason, the living world would be in grave danger.
And although Wagner's hatred of the living had long since mellowed, he still focused anger on those who would seek to use his kind as puppets. As unthinkable as it was, the very real possibility of needing to contact the living world was starting to arise. Wagner was not so stubborn and foolhardy that he wouldn't ask for assistance, even if it meant forming an alliance with the living.
It was then that Wagner had stopped the Death Eater from being killed. He was missing a few parts and had been bleeding quite badly. But he hadn't been outright killed. No... death was something reserved for those who truly deserved its loving embrace. It was too good for a follower of Voldemort, someone who was so readily eager to violate the sanctity of death. Why then should death be allowed to take him?
Ordering his men to quickly keep the Death Eater from dying, Wagner had told them to leave him where they had found him. They would then retreat and keep an eye on the location from a distance. Sure enough, the scouts had reported the man getting rescued by his fellow Death Eaters. Wagner had hoped it was enough to dissuade Voldemort's forces from getting closer. Clearly, he had been wrong. Sergei Wagner hated being wrong. He hated it almost as much as he hated those who didn't respect the dead.
But Voldemort would learn how great a mistake it had been to push his luck.
Whatever the future held, it promised to not be good in the least. But he would not allow his sanctuary to be intruded upon. He would send scouts to Britain and he would wait. No one angered Sergei Wagner, because the Lich King bowed to no man.