The fight had lasted all day.
The snow troll was a worthy adversary and had fought well.It had matched every move and every feint, every blow and every kick. They could have just passed each other by on the road, but it had been a matter of honour to test their fighting prowess and now it had come to this. He chuckled to himself over the absurdity of it all.
He held up a hand and motioned to his enemy that he had had enough.
“It is over.” He had said wearily and then laughed out loud. The troll’s face had turned to thunder and then it had struck him, bowling him backwards as if his bulk and presence was that of an infant child. It was a rare enemy that could hurt a man such as himself.
A rare enemy indeed.
“My Lord…”, the words were distant, like the cry of fell beasts on the snow plains beyond The Fang.
He was dreaming. He bolted upright, scattering the pelt covers and furs that covered his bed, startling the new arrival to his chambers.
It was never a pleasant task to wake up their lord. Choler, it all depended on his moods. The arrival was not easily intimidated and bowed low, but was not daunted.
“She is here, My Lord, she awaits by your hearth,” he hesitated. “She is indefatigable.”
He raised an eyebrow and realised that it felt swollen. When he touched his face, he found the rough stain of dried blood.
“I shall see to her immediately. I need to sort this matter out.” He rose to his feet and shook his head forlornly. “We have received orders to embark. The pacification continues.”
He entered his throne room like a storm upon the high seas, smashing the great, ornate doors aside like a frag grenade in a boxed room.
She was not the least impressed.
Ah, my lovely Hergerđur, famed daughter of the ice giants, shield maiden of Fresosp and Princess of the great Pack. Your beauty still dazzles my eyes; your temper is my tonic.
Though she was passed her prime, she still held her figure and grace. Her long, blonde hair, now streaked with silver, still cascaded down her shoulders as it did when they first met all those years ago.
She looked up at him with eyes filled with tears. She raised an eyebrow.
“Your wounds have healed well.”
He stopped a few paces from her and raised his hand to his chin. His jaw had broken in two places. Now it was fixed, the bones hardened and fused.
“They were but trifles.”
She placed her hands on her hips and her face changed to thunder.
“This cannot continue anymore,” she hesitated. “I cannot continue. What was it about this time?”
“The fight? Don’t tell me. A slight, an out of place word, a passing comment?”
“It was a matter of honour…”
“For the sake of the Gods Leman, he is your brother. You are not cubs on the fringes of the pack, you are grown men, great kings and leaders both.”
“It was a snow troll…”
“It was the Lion, Leman. Both of you exasperate me, fighting like that and all in front of the men for all to see.” She shrugged her shoulders and sat down lightly on the ornate arm on his throne. She raised her blue eyes and stared into him.
“Now he has stormed off again, huffing and puffing and you two will hold grudges that will fester and fester until you call each other out again.”
“I will not let him surprise me next time…”
“Leman! Listen to yourself. You are Leman Russ, King of the Wolves. You are, what do they call you, a Primarch of one of the fiercest Legions in your father’s armies. You are The Great Wolf, not a squabbling fledgling…”
“No Leman, no. I have had enough of it all. It has never been the same since he, your…”
Russ’s hand subconsciously moved to the pommel of Mjalnar, The Frost Blade, that hung from his waist.
“Be careful... my beloved,” he hissed. “Chose your next words carefully.”
Hergerđur shrugged her shoulders and looked him right in the eye. She was as defiant as she ever was but there was a depth of sadness there that he had not seen before.
“Remember that I was there with you when your father arrived. I was there when he challenged you. I was there when you went down on one knee and swore fealty to him. I was there and saw the spark in your eye and in your soul. I have always been there… for you, even though your heart is now with someone else.”
“I am loyal to you, I have never swayed...”
“You do not love me Leman, not in the true sense of the word. I do not think that you or any of your brothers for that fact, can love someone, a female that is, like normal, mortal men love their women folk. No Leman, I am but a distraction…”
“You have found real love in your father, but above all, and above everything else it is your men, your pack that you love the most. You would lay down your life for the lowliest member of your pack, your Legion. You would not do that for me.”
She stood up, unconsciously pressing out the folds in her skirt.
“You are off on a great crusade Leman, a crusade beyond the stars. I will not hold you back any more. I have spoken to the Rune Priests and they have agreed to let me have a divorce...”
The Russ scoffed, his face breaking into a wide grin.
“Ridiculous. On what grounds?”
“Separation. You are always off fighting. We only need to be apart two years.”
Russ rolled his eyes.
“Unreasonable behaviour is the second of the grounds.”
“I will give you that one…”
“I never laid a finger on anyone…”
“Sigyn, the ale maiden at the Slaughtered Lamb?”
“That was a rumour.”
Hergerđur shook her head slowly and then abruptly turned.
“Good-bye Leman. I hope you find love and happiness out there with the gods.”
It was but a second, but felt like a lifetime before he clicked the commlink.
“Summon the Great Companies. We go to war!”