Keris could feel his crest of raven-black hair bristle as his muscles tensed in involuntary echo to the rage of the wolfspirit that shared his soul, the strength of will that Lord Blackmane had noted within Keris mere moments before the only thing forcing back the growl that rumbled through his thoughts at the Aurora champion utterly disregarded his presence. The scents in the room shifted, blade-sharp with barely contained fury like the taste of thunder in the wind before the violence of the tempest as the older Wolves reacted to the slight; even the peculiarly elusive scents of the Grey Hunter Mar and the Wolf Priest Sigurd were marked with the distinctly acrid note of threat.
The Aurora spoke with a clipped accent; the disdain in his words all but spat upon the table and seemingly oblivious to the tensing of muscles and rising growls of displeasure around him, his voice finally trailing off with unmasked glare of threat from Lord Blackmane. The marrow-shaking voice of Aldr, even produced by the mechanical vox-system of the revered dreadnought's tomb, held the unmistakable snarl of barely contained anger as the ancient took a single thunderous stride forward in blatant challenge.
Blackmane's own voice was thick with the underpinnings of rage, his words pointedly aimed at his own warriors and excluding the foolhardy insults of the son of Guilliman. Keris clasp his fist to his chest in acknowledgement of his Lord's dismissal before turning on his heel to stalk after Vermundr, the urge to bare his teeth like a burning ember within his skull as he cast only the most fleeting of glares at the Aurora champion.
Keris dipped his head in respect as the Stormcaller moved to intercept the two Blood Claws. There was an undertone like the rumbling of distant thunder to the Rune Priest's voice as he spoke of their packbrothers' whereabouts; nuances in scent and movement betraying the elder Wolf's attention was already upon the myriad of tasks that would require consideration in the wake of Lord Blackmane's decision.
Keris padded effortlessly down the darkened corridor, the dusk-like gloom offering no inconvenience to his strides due in measure to the work of the fleshweavers and the awesome power that the Canis Helix had unlocked within his body. He could feel the weight of the stone around him, countless thousands of tons of steel-grey granite that rose above him to scrape the airless void of space and coursed beneath his feet to the very heart of the worldforge. To the tread of outsiders the lair of Russ was a foreboding and deadly maze of tunnels cut into the living rock by technology lost to the darkness of mankind's past, but to Keris they were as comforting as the pelt draped across his corded shoulders.
After parting ways with Vermundr just outside the doors to their Lord's chambers it had taken Keris a good half the distance to the training halls to calm his ire, the impudence of the Aurora Champion lingered still like bile at the back of his throat. He found himself thankful of the solitude as he willed the muscles in his neck to relax and turned to step under a rune-carved archway in the tunnel's stone flank. A rough hewn pier of stone soared out over a void that yawned in place of the chamber's floor and Keris paused for a heartbeat at the lip, the howling wind from deep within the Fang snatching at the silver-grey wolf skin with enough force to make the tail end snap like a loose sail in a tempest, before stepping off to plunge into the welcome darkness. The tunnels ran through the spine of the mountain, funneling the wind up their length with the force of a hurricane. He dropped like a gryfalcon stooping upon prey in the open ice fields, the sensation akin to battle arousal, but Keris' thoughts were turned to the words spoken in the war council as he adjusted his path with deft flicks of his outstretched hands.
The hard stone rose up to meet him with breakneck speed, the ever-present gale clawing at Keris' form as he cupped his arms to control his rate of descent. The muscles in his thighs bunched as his boots hit the cold stone with a crack of force, taking the brunt of his impact as he landed in a predator's crouch. As he moved out of the opening and back into the dark hallways of the Fang Keris felt his nostrils flare as familiar scents uncoiled on the wind's back. A sense of cold, biting and with an edge of violence, rode with the scents.
“The war council has come to a conclusion then?” The growl cut through the winds followed soon by its owner. Baldyr was not alone, Frostulfr and a fully armoured Iorek silently trailed the wolf guard champion. “What is the word?”
Keris could feel the spirit within his mind shift as it acknowledged the presence of the Ice-Slayer before the older Wolf had even come fully around the corner headed for the lift next to the drop-tunnel with his packmates shadowing the Wolf Guard's steps.
Something in the older warrior's scent caused Keris to pause, the violence that marked it was as keen and storm-sharp as ever yet there was a fleeting emotion that Keris could not put a name to that hung about the Ice-Slayer,
Keris nodded greeting as he met the deep blue of the elder Wolf's eyes with the crystal blue of his own,
'The war council has indeed concluded, Lord Blackman's choice has been made. Four packs will sink teeth into the throat of the greenskin hoard- Enkil's fangs, Leidolfr's and Mar's hunters,'
Keris cut his eyes to his packbrothers,
'...and Vermundr's pack. The Stormcaller has stated he is to hunt with us as well.'
If the Wolf Guard had any feelings on this news, his face betrayed none of it. "And does Stormcaller lead our forces into this, or has another of the Guard been chosen?"
Keris shook his head as his gaze returned to the brutal features of the Wolf Guard,
'We are to be led by the revered Ancient Aldr,'
Keris did not try to hide the honour that coloured his tone,
'It is fitting as the oath we answer was sworn by the ancient himself.'
"Aye." The Ice-Slayer shifted slightly, the fleeting nuance of regret colouring the frigid scent-trace. "It is as it should be. You are to gather the rest of your pack then? You will find many of them being whipped about by the sons of Guilliman in the cages."
And like that, anything short of barely controlled anger was gone from the Wolf Guard. "Make sure you take this pair with you as well, unless you want the untried and the damned to wait out the fighting on Fenris."
Keris gave a nod to the elder Wolf's inquiry, though he felt a stirring of his wolfspirit at the mention of his packbrothers failing in the cages. The coarse hairs on the back of his neck bristled in response to the turn in his thoughts.
'I do not care for the timing of this call; the guardianship of the Fang will be tested by this oath and the sons of Guilliman are blindly imperious in their demands. That we have not leapt to their call like trained dogs seems to annoy their leader greatly,'
Keris gave a lupine grin, though there was little in the way of warmth to it,
'The fates of my wolfbrothers are tied to this wyrd and the pack needs this blooding, Ice-Slayer, you know that as well as I... though the lack of your blade-edge and fury will be keenly felt by all.'
"There are other matters which hold me here, ones that hold greater import than the chance to kill the greenskin menace." There was something within the tone of the Wolf Guard that caused the wolf in Keris' soul to stir. Something had the wrathful Wolf unsettled, though the traces were as ephemeral as the tracks of a konungur across a scree of flintrock.
"Gather your packmates Keris, and see to it that they learn some measure of pain for failing as they have. Letting Guilliman's get goad and beat them so well." He said, turning to stride towards the lift.
Keris gave a grim nod, he had not missed the scent of blood that clung about the Wolf Guard's aura. The rich musk of Russ' blood and the sharp tang of an Astartes blood that Keris did not know,
'They will find the thrashing they received at the hands of the Auroras to be the least of their pains when I finish with their hides...'
Keris' voice was limed with the undertones of a growl as he started to turn towards the training halls before pausing to cast a glance back at the older Wolf, his tone changing to one of shrewd neutrality,
'One would wonder what would rouse the brood of Guilliman enough to feel the need to test the skills of Blood Claws. They were not the only ones to heed a challenge, were they Wolf Guard?'
"No, and who said they challenged your packmates." Baldyr's deep voice echoed from the cold stone walls, the massive Wolf never once turning around though his stride paused for a second. "Find your pack Keris, there is killing to be done. Do not keep the impatient waiting."
Keris gave a snort; his short fangs flashing in the darkness of the hallway and his voice carrying with the low growl of the wind as he turned back to his packmates. He had not missed the level of respect that the notoriously violent and aloof Wolf Guard had shown towards him,
'I will watch over them, Ice-Slayer, Russ guide your blade until we meet again.'
There was the blunt note of enmity in the body language between Iorek and Frostulfr, but time was short so Keris merely gave a nod to both before gesturing for them to follow. Iorek was already clad in his warplate, though it did little to disguise his packbrother's agitation from Keris' keen senses. The eye that stared back at him was blood red rimmed in the faintest hint of gold, a pale scar marking where the other had been before his packbrother had lost it in the fight for the genoratorium on the Fist of Russ months ago.
That the Ghostwolf had so far refused an augmetic replacement was a concern that lingered in the back of Keris' thoughts, however it was an issue he would have to broach when the time was correct.
Keris could taste the hostility that hung in the air before he had even passed under the arched doorway leading into the cavernous chamber of the training halls; disquiet niggled at his thoughts as he increased the length of his strides as the scents grew increasingly stronger.
The Training Hall chamber was vast; a natural cavern expanded on to meet the needs of the Wolves and though the stoneshapers had left the coarseness in the walls, the floors had been polished smooth under the tread of millenniums of Sky Warriors. The ceiling soared overhead, lost to the darkness beyond the reach of the glowglobes.
Some of the older Wolves of the great company were sparring in the cages, but Keris' attention was drawn to the source of the tension like steel shavings to a lodestone. Heimdall and Njord stood facing two larger figures clad in pale green and white, the bruised forms of Azahd and Hrothgar moving to join them as two more of the Aurora contingent spoke the rites to their armour as they redressed themselves.
Keris felt the wolf in his soul give a dangerous snarl at the words that reached his ears as he stalked across the remaining distance to where his wolfbrothers stood facing the Auroras, his cold gaze locked upon the Blood Claws before him and his voice loud enough to carry across the hall,
'Enough of this.'
Keris' voice was edged in the warning trace of a snarl as he stepped between the Auroras and his clawbrothers, the storm-grey pelt he wore ruffled like the hackles of a thunderwolf down his back,
'A warrior who enters battle with the belief that one fight's worth is less than another, that he will get another chance in the eyes of the AllFather beyond that moment, accepts defeat before the first blow is ever struck.'
There was no pity in Keris' crystal blue eyes,
'Are you all so stupid? We shall see just how thick your skulls truly are when each of you faces me in the cages for allowing yourselves to be baited into this foolishness! But that will have to wait for now... Lord Blackmane has called upon our packleader to join the hunt in answer to the oath of aid sworn to the Aurora Chapter, though I'm half tempted to see you four left here on patrols of the upper flanks for punishment befitting your foolishness!'
Azahd made a frantic swing with his blade to keep this damned Aurora away from him. Far to late he realized he had bitten off far more than he could chew. If he was honest, he was being demolished. Every sweep, every charge, every attack was countered with a deliberate slowness and dexterity that could be naught but the blasted Son of Guilliman showing off and milking the situation for every ounce of glory and showing this insolent pup what a fool he was for challenging one so senior to himself. Azahd was still on his knees, still feeling the thick, congealing liquid crimson trickling down his skin. The Aurora came in for another attack and Azahd almost know this one would end him, but was determined to defy the fates. His arm came up in a deflecting blow, and knocked his opponents most powerful strike aside. However, sadly the other blow which Azahd had not deflected rode the impact and the axe came across his chest creating a deep horizontal gash.
Three strikes and it was all over. The shameful thing was Astartes physique should be able to start clotting wounds in a minute or so, and his nose had only just stopped bleeding. It had only taken a minute to get beaten by his better. *Crap* was Azahd's first thought. He was going to be absolutly murdered for letting down the honour of the Space Wolves like this, to Guillimans brood no less. To be honest, he was more worried about the beating Vermundr would give him when he found out. The Aurora, surprisingly, extended a hand to help him up. Part of him was annoyed at the offer of help, seeing it as degrading. However, a shard of empathy seemed to exist in his opponents face. One that hoped that he had taught a supremely arrogant marine that humility was always a virtue. Until he took the hand, then the shard disappeared and was replace by the lofty arrogance Azahd would have expected. Suddenly Azahd detested the victor of their match again and let a low decibel growl escape as he rose to his feet.
Various members of the pack responded to the Aurora's baiting, but having done so once already, and having taken such a royal beating, Azahd was keen to not make more of an ass of himself than he had already. As the conversation heated up, a voice boomed from behind him.
'Enough of this.' *Here we go* Azahd grimaced to himself silently. Here was where the real trouble starts. The scars from the Aurora would seem paltry compared to the ones Keris would give him.'A warrior who enters battle with the belief that one fight's worth is less than another, that he will get another chance in the eyes of the AllFather beyond that moment, accepts defeat before the first blow is ever struck.'
There would be no pity in Keris' crystal blue eyes, and Azahd was rooted firmly to the spot. He heard Keris' footsteps, but didn't dare turn round to meet his Fenrisian chilled gaze. 'Are you all so stupid? We shall see just how thick your skulls truly are when each of you faces me in the cages for allowing yourselves to be baited into this foolishness! But that will have to wait for now... Lord Blackmane has called upon our packleader to join the hunt in answer to the oath of aid sworn to the Aurora Chapter, though I'm half tempted to see you four left here on patrols of the upper flanks for punishment befitting your foolishness!' At least they would be heading off soon, where Azahd could vent his frustration and humiliating on some worthless greenskins. To some degree, he was glad this whole business was being rushed. Azahd knew as well as everyone else that if they had of stayed longer, Keris and Vermundr would have punished him and Hrothgar in a 'suitable' manner. However, it occurred to Azahd that just because they didn't have the facilities of the Fang didn't mean his packs leaders might not be more inventive with their methods...
And just like that, the council was adjourned. He still had adrenaline pumping, his war body mistaking his current excitment of success at convincing so many of the elder wolves for a battle rush.
He and Keris parted ways, the pack had to be summoned and told of this great honor, but they were scattered throughout the Fang. A sharp hunger bit his stomach for a moment. The long hunt had not given him much to feast on, and he had been stolen away to the council before getting a chance to eat here. He knew some of his pack mates would be there and so headed in that direction by himself.
He admired the way his Lord bit back at the Aurora with such precision. What an honor it was to serve under such a great leader. vermundr decided he and Blackmane may ahve had a few things in common, at least. Both were promoted young, was the primary thing that he focused on. a multitude of clattering and all sorts of other violent sounds broke his focus apart and he picked up a run to get to the feasting hall.
The first thing that his dark pupils caught in their gaze was a single but harshly bright drop of red.
"Alrik....no" he thought, now staring inot the eyes of his packmate. He did not feel hatred for his brother, or really anything negative towards him other than the fact that such an action could ruin the success he had just achieved at the war council. He did not need more dishonor, especiialy one of this magnitude, placed upon his pack.
If he moved toward Alrik and the other blood claw, it may draw attention from others and he wasnt sure if anyone else had noticed yet. He took a heavy inhale of breath wide eyed, staring into Alrik's soul turning his head back and forth to say "no" without saying a word, before he took his footstep.
He looked away, knowing Alrik was still watching him, he simply made a brushing motion agasint his own throat to tell Alrik to wipe the blood quickly and keep his grasp on the wound covering it up so that it would clot. Such a small wound would clot quickly on a space marine, so he would only tneed to act like he was still holding the other blood claw's neck for a few minutes.
He looked around, "By The All father, so many elder wolves in here that may have seen that." he thought. He decided to break out the big news to draw as much attention to him as possible, and away from Alrik:
"My pack brothers! We have been selected as one of the four packs in the Great Company of Lord Blackmane to accompany the Aurora marines back to their system, and bring war to the Ork Horde that plagues them. I dont know who started this fight, but I am proud of my pack either way for coming out on top. Come brothers, we must gather the pack once more."
There was a tumultuous crash, that reverberated throughout the hall, followed by a gentle tinkling of ceramic on stone. Alrik’s attentions, grim and fierce, sprung up from the heated hippocras, where it twirled colourfully in the sculpted flute. His hand was tighter upon the Flaying Knife, keen, black eyes scanning the surroundings. There, the thrower stood, wearing speckled furs over one shoulder, the rest of his body naked. Both hands were pressed into the stone table, the knuckles turned white through pressure.
The Wolf within lets out a mournful howl and prowls forwards, snout furrowing, fangs aglitter beneath midnight-dark fur. Small, calculating eyes stare on, in predatory awareness.
He threw an insult towards the revered Long Fang, who remained silent as a Grey Hunter spat back a retort, eliciting four of the aggressor’s Packmates to stand.
‘Sit down before you make more of a fool of yourself,’ Tyr said, gnawing voraciously on a leg of meat, before adding silently, ‘Let’s hope this continues, for their sake.’
‘A green-blood, one,’ Alrik said, eyes flickering over the instigator of the argument. ‘Who, I would believe, pisses grass.’
He stood, feeling the tension in his arms ease. The soreness was calming, though there was still a fiery ache, subconscious and insignificant. ‘Sit down, fool, lest I make you rue this day.’
Harsh laughter erupted from Alrik’s throat, booming as loud as thunder, but as sharp as lightning, when the other Blood Claw vented his opinions. ‘Brave boy,’ He spoke, sharing a knowing glance with Tyr, the man-mountain, who was still engorging himself on the meat and mead.
The Long Fang’s reply was quick and blunt, his voice reminiscent of crashing glaciers, cracked and wise. The ensuing silence was unnerving, as the Blood Claw stood, chest-to-chest with the ancient Long Fang, and did the unthinkable.
His hand connected with the older Wolf’s temple, sending him clattering over the table. Chalices, flutes and plates went skittering, landing amongst the corpse-still Wolf, who’s chest rose and fell shallowly.
Alrik was between the Blood Claw and the downed Long Fang in an instant, his lips peeled back in a venomous smile, revealing his razor-edged canines. The Cretacian Blade, smooth and light-swallowing, came hissing free of its’ scabbard, twirling dexterously in the air between the two.
‘Fine, time for someone to put you in your place, Firehawk; maybe improve your features.’ The Blood Claw said, through gritted teeth. He was tall and wiry, all whipcord strength, where Alrik was brutish and broad. A trio of rings glittered in his earlobe, hanging heavily. His nose was twisted, gnarled in some forgotten brawl.
With an almost ignorant flick of his wrist, the Blood Claw threw a stone bench into the air, and towards Alrik. The Firehawk was quick, swinging his free hand into the bench, curled into a monstrous fist. When it met the bench, stone splintered and broke, a fine mist engulfing Alrik’s hulking, wide-shouldered form.
From it, the Blood Claw emerged, crouched low. A trio of punches were swung, each of which were nimbly deflected, accompanied by determined hisses from Alrik.
The Firehawk smiled hideously, ramming the pommel of his Cretacian Blade into the Blood Claw’s cheek, eliciting a cry of agony. He went reeling, and Alrik was upon him instantaneously, plummeting into the other Space Wolf’s torso.
Both went tumbling, crushing a table beneath their combined weight, cutlery and drinking vessels raining down on Alrik’s back. The instigator’s fist rammed into Alrik’s side with a crack, a black-purple smudge blossoming suddenly. Warm, putrid breath washed from Alrik’s mouth in a gasp of shock.
‘That’s all you’re getting, bastard,’ Alrik said, ripping up to his feet, yanking the Blood Claw with him. His Flaying Knife was at the post-man’s neck, the wicked barb pressing into the soft flesh there, drawing a glob of rich crimson. His other arm went around the Astarte’s surgically enlargened chest, pulling him in close, so that his mouth met ear.
Thin, leathery lips retracted over barbaric fangs, filed into cruel points. ‘Insolent, little, green-blooded bastard,’ he twisted the blade, placing pressure. A globule of blood grew around the oil-black tip, the acrid smell dancing into the Firehawk's nostrils. ‘Should I bleed you dry here, or later?’
The Wolf’s maw opens, in a cruel mirror of a smile, and howls. It is oblivious, to the crimson tide in which it stands, lapping at his ankles. In his mouth, small and insignificant, is the torn form of a smaller canine, hanging limp from monstrously oversized fangs.
Alrik’s eyes locked with those of another. Vermundr, his Packleader, wearing but little. For a moment they stared, Alrik’s eyes dark and tempestuous, Vermundr’s coal-black and calm. He shook his head, distastefully, and Alrik knew what he wanted. A warm trickle ran over his thumb, turning the skin crimson. Cruel urges coursed through him, to tear the Wolf's throat away, and fatten himself on gene-enhanced flesh and harsh, augmented blood. Battle was coming, and his lust was aflame, his thoughts and mood as black as the night. He, as with all of his brethren, was a monster. A murderer, a pillager; the ultimate instrument of war, borne out of fire and ice.
And unlike the others, the whelps who had recently poisoned the Pack’s purity, he utilized it. Honed it, tested it - Perfected it.
Alrik's head bobbed, in agreement with Vermundr; this Wolf's day was in ruin, Alrik had destroyed his standing, barely breaking a sweat in the process.
‘You bleed later, then,’ He whispered, sibilantly, drawing away the blade and with a feral kick, sent the instigator sprawling. He half-turned, locking eyes with the Marine, lips peeling back in a rumbling snarl. ‘You are worth no more than a lame foal, I am ashamed to call you brother.’
The instigator looked up at him dispassionately, clutching his neck, eyes hooded and vehement. 'Cross my path again,' Alrik warned, his voice thick with sadistic intent, dexterously twirling the flaying knife. 'And I will wear your hide as a cloak.'
His attentions turned back to the downed Long Fang, still laying amongst the broken table. He stalked towards him, sliding the Cretacian Blade back into his scabbard, still glistening. It made a wet rasp, a curious, hollow sound.
He smiled woefully, placing his hand in the void between them. ‘Need aid, oldtimer?’
“I do not hunt anything grimwolf. I sought solace and silence. Had to think. Yet I found none when this thing caught my attention. There is something here, can’t you feel it? Sense it?"
His lid closed slowly slipping over the blood red iris as he savoured the familiarity, the taste of kinship, embracing the feeling of being at one, in unison with another living creature. The scent filled him, a warmth stirring in his chest as he inhaled deeply pulling the scent within him to envelop him.
"I sense" he hissed, his words placid open ended fading into a contented growl
A bitter tongue, the snarl of an insolent pup disrespectful and hateful, sent his eyes flicking open, muslces tensing, the wolf's curled form springing to its feet hackles up, lips tearing into a rumbling snarl, long sabres of enamel glittering in the sudden light.
“But what is it to you? You did not seem too caring for any of us, unblooded, why so interested now? Nothing else to do?”
The urge to lash out to slam the pup against the wall and dash has brains upon the wall, the feral urge to dominate, to enforce his standing burning within his mind. He repulsed it, his gaze level his eyes bored into the young pups a single long stride bringing him to within striking distance.
"When a pup skids round cornors like a baby deer on ice, you assume it hunts something, badly, but hunts all the same. "
He stood an arm length apart eye boring into the pups perhaps an inch above him and he loomed, body stretching to use every millimetre his voice equalling the pups venom with cold malice
"Grim i may be yet i have seen and experienced things that you may never understand and by the Allfather's mercy, never will experience. It is a trait that can be excused, stupidity cannot. If making an enemy of the Firehawk has not worewarned you of the virtue of holding your tongue, your skull is evidently too thick for even the most obvious of lessons. You have done naught but tussle like a pup for the mother's teat, so like a pup I shall treat you,"
He moved past the other wolf striding slowly down the corridor eyes scanning the darkness yet he turned and snarled
"Grimwolf i may be, ghostwolf I am called. It was a name bestowed upon me by a wolf worthy of respect, use it in future"
He moved away into the darkness without fear, the familiarity a balm to terror to stealth, his footsteps slow and calm his eyes flittering over the corners, probing the darkness.
He could taste the scent its taste pleasant in his throat and his eyes narrowed as he quickened his pace, collapsing to his knees as his eyes fixed upon scratches in the stone. Recent.... fresh, their pray so close and he turned to alert the pup alongside him yet as he looked back both voice and markings faded away, a frown creasing Iorek's brow once more. What madness lingered in this place, what traces of the past held court in these ancient halls.
A sound behind them, the feral rage that laced the scent of the iceslayer teased his nostrils and he turned to meet the blazing blue eyes, burning hot flames in the near dusk
“Halls of our ancients are not the place for the wary; nor is seeking out the cursed and the damned. You would not like what you find, for some the eventual truth of things is a burden left in darkness for as long as possible. ”
His eyes tilted towards his and Iorek met the gaze even as the ancient continued. Comprehension dawned in the rumours of what lingered in the depths of the underfang, the familiarity, the run of his feet.
Had he truly sought to see, see what would become of him, no what could become of him. The golden ring felt like a hundred weight upon him, pulling him down his gaze meeting the ground, the shame of his own fall a weight upon his shoulders.
Had he given up, was the fight over, was he to fail entirely, to fade until he committed the ultimate dishonour, to surrender to the wolf within.
“The council is likely near its conclusion; with me, now.”
Then the iceslayer moved and iorek paused browed laced with creases striding along in his wake, fingers brushing over the blank stone where the gashes had once been torn.
It was too keris he brought them, the sages mind elsewhere before he and Baldyr traded words of the location of their packborthers, brawls between the sons of gulliman and members of the pack of little importance and little honour, though the straightening of his brothers back and the rush of dissapointed anger betrayed the sage's own emotions.
Bitterness seeped in Iorek's own, the words of the Ice- slayer.... he was the damned, the lost.
He wanted to scream, to take out his pistol and place a round through the back of that great head, to in his damnation go down fighting, fighting those that judged.
Kill, place your jaws around his throat.
Yet that was true damnation, that was surrender to the damnation, to commit purest treachery
"If i am damned in your eyes then end it now, bastard, " he hissed as the ice-slayer dissappeared around the cornor and out of his vision even as his own feet tugged him after Keris without a word
Damn leash of heirachy, it tugged at his throat, a wolf should not be shackled and chained, he should be free to roam, to wander as he wished.
He was no dog, yet he was subservient to the leaders of the pack in battle and in spirit.
His jaws snapped even as he followed his mind a whirlwind of feral anger and confusion. Coming upon the training cages to find his pack toe to toe with aurora, others bruised and battered as they clad themselves, sweat and blood dripping from wounds.
Keris was upon them in seconds his words hard and chastising, anger evident in those glacial eyes.
Folly, to fight against another astartes, to challenge another and test ones skills, to know where one compared against a warrior blooded and bruised on the field of battle.
Yet he would not compromise his brothers words, not let the aurora think their was doubt between the elders, let them think they were united, that all they had best was pups at play.
He had caused enough shame upon himself. upon the pack.
He stepped alongside keris his words a half laughed drawl
"Oh brother keris, you would give yourself all the fun of teaching pups the error of their ways? Do you not fear your arm will get tired from pummelling them all around the training cages, good job the allfather saw fit to bless you with a spare. Yet i believe you should allow brother alrik and brother tyr the chance to join in a little of the fun. I'm sure the firehawk would be all too keen."
He waited however til they departed the aurora's company, falling into step alongside his brother he met the icy gaze, the slightest traces of amusement fading from his eyes into dour inflection.
"I must admit i could not take part in your punishmet, for had the aurora bated my battered pride, I could not say with honestly I too would not have taken the bait. To my mind it is only through competition between warriors of greater esteem and experience that we learn. Even on the eve of your first blooding, I learnt much from my spar with the grey hunter, so long ago it seems now. The sons of Gulliman may have dishonoured the pups yet I am sure they have gained as much wisdom from how they move, block and strike, not to mention how to handle their choler, as any thrashing from you could instill."
His eyes became thoughtful, no trace of amusement in his voice
"Perhaps I too I need a little of your steel in the training cages, though unlike the whelps I will give you a few bruises in turn."
[OOC, I apologize for my tardiness, college classes and bad sleep have been keeping me kinda drained and busy]
The fight had come so quickly, heated words had shot about like ammunition from a bolter.
Words that had inflamed the young Blood Claws, and resentment boiled over.
Iotki was getting to become very familiar with the feeling of resentment. In the form of booted feet. Two Blood Claws he held a passing recognition for had barreled into him, bearing him to the floor, much to his shock.
He could feel the two of them raining down a flurry of blows upon his body. This he would not stand for.
Waiting for an opening he seized the foot of one of the young warriors and upended him, sending him crashing to the floor. He heard a loud crack and knew his foe had gone down. Iotki did not envy the way that that Wolf's head would feel in the morning. Rolling to his side he stood up quickly, facing the other wolf-brother. He felt a snarl come to his lips, his teeth bared, wolf-like canines biting into his lip.
Then the world turned red.
Iotki vaugely recalled charging into the other wolf, his blood up, his anger raised, he felt his hand driving into the other Blood Claw's gut and hot breath on his face.
Then he went flying. His foeman had taken a blow that would have dropped any normal warrior, calmly lifted him up and tossed him onto a banquet table. Iotki felt the legs of the ancient table splinter beneath him, he sat up with a groan, Pulling himself backward and landing roughly on the stone floor. The table snapped up like a drawnbridge.
The Blood Claw was approaching him, cracking his knuckles as he did so. He bent down, seizing one of the shattered table legs, clutching it like a club.
Then an idea flashed in Iotki's mind.
Raising his hands above his head, forming them into fists he slammed them down on the end of the table closest to himself.
The far end of the table snapped up, more wood splintering from an impact it had not been designed to handle, and crashed into the Blood Claw's chin and propelled him backward, the makeshift club dropping from his unconscious fingers.
Satisfied, Iotki scanned the brawl, seeking out the embattled forms of his pack. He paused only to grab a long, shattered piece of timber and charged into the melee.
OOC: Totally useless, worthless post in my opinion but I had to write something after all... Sorry that it took so long.
He could see the anger in the ghostwolf’s eyes, he could smell the hostility rising. The urge to dominate was obvious, it reeked from him like the stench of the dead. A moment later it was gone, the wolf calmed himself down and then he spoke, mocking Frostulfr trying to raise is anger yet he shrugged it off, he knew his own worth and while he might be unblooded he was not as useless as a pup.
The Grimwolf stood in front of him eyes burying thick into his skull, his voice full of malice, equal to the venom that Frostulfr spat at him earlier. He told him that he had seen things, experienced them, things that Frostulfr by the mercy of the allfather will not experience himself.
For a moment he felt a ting of guilt, maybe he went too far? Maybe he was truthfully disrespectful to one who did commend respect? Yet that moment quickly passed when the Grimwolf finished his words implying that Frostulfr was stupid, and bringing back the incident with the Firehawk. He claimed that if this did not teach him to hold his tongue then he was probably to think skulled to learn from his mistakes and as such he should be treated like a pup.
This time it was Frostulfr who lost his senses, he snarled at the Grimwolf’s remarks and clenched his fists. He knew that if he would pick a fight with the fully armoured warrior he would stand no chance, he would simply have to let this mockery fly by. He could do nothing about it…
He wanted to say something, he wanted to prove the Ghostwolf wrong yet he had no time, before he even thought of what to say the Ghostwolf moved forward, past Forstulfr. He turned around and watched, the Ghostwolf was scanning the corridor, searching, with no success it seemed.
“You claim me to be an idiot yet you completely ignore the fact that the Firehawk was the one who was acting like a child. I wished him no harm yet he attacked like a pathetic beast relentlessly seeking something to relieve its anger upon. Sadly all of you are acting like that, all of you veterans alienate yourself from us unblooded. I seek no quarrels with you but I do need to work with you as a pack and if you are all acting like mere children we would not be able to do anything together.”
He paused for a moment, “Think of it differently, we are supposed to be a pack of wolves, we hunt, we stalk, and we do it together helping each other. Yet we are not that, we are like many lone wolves hanging close to each other yet none bothers to help the other. In this way, when we will face the green hordes, if we will face them, we shall be picked one by one like a bunch of idiots, and this will bode ill on the pack altogether and not only on those who died.”
He stared at Iorek, in a way he was different, he was not like all the other pack members, new or old, he spoke the truth when he said that he saw things that none should experience, this one at least commended some respect.
“Ghostwolf, I urge you, you don’t need to be kind to us unblooded but we do have to work as a pack, and to work as a pack we need to act like one…” He let these words fade, letting the wolf understand whatever he wanted from them.
Suddenly it seemed that the Ghostwolf had noticed something, collapsing on his knees and look on a cold blank stone. What was it that he saw there that Frostulf did not? He wanted to ask but before he could the Ghostwolf simply stood up a look of confusion on his face.
The look of confusion quickly changed as Iorek smelled something, Frostulfr smelled it as well, it was the smell of someone familiar yet not close, he smelled of barely contained anger, he was full of rage. The steps became louder and louder until finally he could see who he had smelled, it was Baldyr, a figure of might.
The Iceslayer spoke, his words mainly for Iorek to hear, the ghostwolf seemed to fall, like some terrifying understanding fell on him, he seemed weaker, his smelled of shame. It could not be the effect of the Iceslayer, it must be something else, something that Forstulfr did not know about. The Iceslayer then commanded them to walk with him. Iorek lingered behind for a moment yet then caught up, something was definitely troubling him.
They walked in a strange path, one that Frostulfr did not notice that he walked before. It seemed that he was indeed deep in thought if he couldn’t even recall how he arrived at the Hall of the Ancients. They turned around another corner when a new scent greeted his nose, a familiar one, when they turned around he saw that he was correct. Keris stood there, the mystical wolf, Frostulfr decided that Keris was probably the smartest of the pack yet he was still acting like the other veterans, alienating himself from the new additions to the pack, from the pups.
The Iceslayer spoke demanding to know what was the result of the council. Keris answered and his eyes lingered on Iorek and Frostulfr when he said that they would participate in the attack. Them and the rest of the squad that is. It seemed that they would be led by a dreadnought, by ancient Aldr, was he the missing ancient in the hall?
A quick exchange of words, Frostulfr noted the important parts of the conversation but most was useless for him. Then the Iceslayer parted ways with them, Keris looked at them both and then nodded and gestured them to follow him.
They made their way to the training halls quickly arriving to a scene of shame for the Sons of Russ. Most of those who participated in the fighting against the sons of Guilliman were beaten down, exhausted and ashamed by their loss. If they really took the bait of the Astartes they were foolish indeed. They should’ve known that those who came here were at least blooded unlike so many of them.
He looked towards where the gaze of Keris was set, he saw how their pack was facing the Sons of Guilliman, there was no time, there was killing to be done. Personal shame would have to wait for a different time, as long as it did not shame the chapter it should be endured.
Keris strode towards the packmembers and shouted at them to end this bickering. He stepped between the Guillimans and his pack. His words were harsh and his threats harsher. He showed no mercy and this was enough to subdue every inch of fighting spirit that was left in the clawmembers. None wanted to face Keris in the cages, none dared.
Vermundr; As you turn and walk away, the Blood Claw Alrik had nearly taken surges up and manages to get in your way. “And what of the rest of us then!” He snarls, the cut in his neck already clotted and forgotten. “If only one claw is to go then I challenge you for that right, best me here and now or give up your place.” Not that you need accept, but before you have a chance to respond another does so for you. One of the Grey Hunters gets between the two of you, lifting the Claw by the neck and throwing him to the ground. “Once already you have proven yourself a fool, do not be so hasty to prove it a second time in front of your pack. The right of such a challenge belongs with the one who leads the pack, and last I heard it was lord Blackmane who was leading yours when the time came, not a lowly cur such as yourself.”
And like that, the blood claw is paid no more attention and you continue to leave, noting that the three Grey Hunters and Long Fang are leaving as well. It is then that you recognize them, the Grey Hunters all members of Liedolfr’s pack and the Long Fang one of Enkil’s Fangs.
Alrik; The Long Fang looks up to you for a moment and then takes your offered arm, less from the need and more in respect of the gesture. “He and his pack needed a good thrashing, but don’t let the lesson pass you by. Though there numbers were greater, you few came out the victors; experience and determination will be allies to you when it is the greenskins you fight.” He says to you, clapping you on the shoulder before turning to leave but stopping as the wretch you had nearly killed snarls a challenge to Vermundr. Of course, that challenge met with a less than fruitful end, and finally you were on your way.
Vermundr, Alrik, Krahl, Ulvbror, Yngvar, Tyr, and Iotki; With things in the great hall settled, you leave to armour yourselves before making to the launch bay for departure. It is not long before the Grey Hunters and Long Fang depart from you, their arming chambers located elsewhere from your own but you have no doubt that you will be seeing them again in the near future. Travel to the cavern that is your arming chamber goes without incident, and it is not to long before you enter and find your armour racks. Already there are others present and making ready, though the air is far from as pleasant from the rest of your pack. It is likely those who had gone to the training hall had troubles of their own and they did not meet with the same victory as your own.
[The wargear of The Pack is contained within the same chamber rather than within the personal chambers other more veteran warriors might choose. You all note that the coldness of things seems to be coming from Keris more than any other, which in itself is likely a very bad thing. Perhaps finding out from the others what has gone on, or telling of your most recent fight, might help things while you armour yourselves.]
Keris; The Aurora marines watch as you reprimand your packmates, one with a pair of blades sheathed across his back nodding at your words. “The true test of a warrior is which battles he will allow himself to be drawn into and which he will be led into blindly. You will never know which fight will pit your life on the knife edge, and if there is falter, there will be no coming back to try again. We have seen your words put to truth many times, both recent and past, it is good that one of your squad can readily claim such experience.” He says to you before motioning for his battle brothers to leave.
“Do not punish your brothers too harshly, for the error was mine. We are eager to return back to the fighting and it gnaws upon all of my brothers as you are likely aware with Namur. I allowed my own desire to take control of me, and in the end your brothers mistook our intentions.” He said, though you cannot help feel that the Aurora is keeping something back, or at least not telling the entire truth of what had transpired. It is almost as if he is mocking you, that you do not warrant the truth. You stare into his eyes for what becomes as ages, until it is he who looks away and makes his leave. For with the call answered, any welcome the Aurora’s might have received would quickly end.
Hrothgar; Your words stop the Aurora mid stride, and have enough of an effect to garner a measured response from him. “You are the one who made the broad challenge without thinking on it, I merely answered and defeated you. Learn from your loss, do not sully yourself or tarnish the honour of others for your wounded pride.” He says, and then proceeds to leave and let you digest his words. Which is likely all the better considering how soundly he defeated you, who knows if anyone would have been able to help you if he had taken offense.
You follow him from the cage, joining Heimdall in time to see the approach of Keris. Your packmates words force you to lower your head in shame, hoping that he had not heard your final comment to the Aurora veteran. It was made perfectly clear that despite the news of going to battle as you would be, Keris would not make this loss an easy memory to forget, and punishment would be all the worse if he had heard you.
Heimdall; “And like many of your chapter, you take to insult and anger as the first response. You wear the black carapace of a full initiate of your chapter, but you walk about as a mere neophyte. Do not be so tempted to jump into the flames of conflict, a single small victory does not win the war.” He responds to you, features cold and almost devoid of life as he likely quotes from the codex astartes.
It is not long before you are joined by Hrothgar and Azahd, as well as an angry Keris and silent Frostulfr and Iorek. The former unresponsive, possibly trying to hide the faintest elements of a grin from not being on the receiving end of Keris’s venom; the latter, however, regards you and the others with a cold eye as he agree’s with Keris.
Azahd; You stand there with your head down, knowing full well that what Keris declares to be true no matter how you may feel on certain things. Despite the punishment that will come, you cannot help but feel a feral longing within at the prospect that you will be going to battle. A chance to test yourself and to correct the mistake you have made here coming to the fore above other thoughts. Words from the leader of the Aurora marines drags you back to the here and now, and for whatever reason, perhaps wounded pride or a general dislike, you cannot help but feel there to be some hidden meaning or judgment hidden just beneath the Aurora’s words.
Iorek; From the parting with Baldyr, you travel to the training hall in silence. That silence, however, comes to an abrupt end when you enter the training hall, the tension in the air coming from your packmates and a group of Aurora marines. Keris reacts first, anger lacing his promise of punishment for such foolish actions. But the leader of the Aurora group soon speaks up in defense of your packmates. However you quickly get the feeling that he is holding back or altering the truth. Finally the Aurora’s make their leave, likely to return to their own ship in orbit and make ready to leave the space about Fenris.
Frostulfr; Anger you may feel towards someone like Iorek, but ultimately there may be a level of truth in what he says. Yes the pack may act divided at times, but was it not a whole when you hunted the razor-ursid? Did your brothers not come together and help each other when it was needed most? There is no mistaking the void between that of you and your untested packmates and the five more veteran warriors, but are your words entirely true?
You think on this as you travel with Keris to the training hall and feel a measure of relief at not being on the receiving end of Keris’s wrath. With luck, no one noticed the barest hint of a smile that had tried to cross your features. Turning your attention from your brothers to the Aurora marines, you watch two of them finishing returning their armour to its place on their persons and stand beside the pair in front of you. It is an impressive sight to behold, but when the leader of them speaks you cannot help but feel a measure of mocking in his tone.
Keris, Hrothgar, Heimdall, Azahd, Frostulfr, and Iorek; With the Aurora marines gone, there is little more to be done in the training hall. You turn to leave and note the presence of the Grey Hunter Mar the silent, he motions his head in the direction the offworld warriors had gone and a motion from him is enough to indicate that whatever you might have felt was off by the Aurora leaders words was not just your imagination. He soon turns to others within the hall, gathering members of his pack to tell them of what has been decided and to make ready.
No need to waste any time, you quit the training hall for the location that is your arming chamber. Travel is without incident, or much in the way of comment, and you arrive to discover yourselves the first of the pack in the vast cave like chamber. It is not much longer before Vermundr arrives with the rest of your packmates, and your Claw made whole once again. Unlike you though, they arrive with a more victorious and proud air about them.
[Might be a good idea to inquire what has transpired with the others to find out why their own mood is better than your own. In addition to donning your wargear, with the exception of Iorek who is already armoured.]
All; It takes longer than you would have liked, or perhaps it simply feels like it has taken longer, but at last you are armed and armoured in your war-plate and ready to leave for battle. You make haste to the uppermost levels of the Fang, to the launch bays and thunderhawks that will take you to the vessel Hunrodr and from there the Gorden Worlds. Learning of what each other has done since arriving in the Fang has had a myriad of responses, some positive and others much less so.
But at long last talking is over and you come into the launch bay from which you had arrived in earlier. Other Space Wolves are gathered, those of Enkil and Liedolfr making final checks on gear as well as the armoured bulk of the revered Aldr who is already being attached to the bulk of one transport. You spot the unmistakable form of Njal Stormcaller, clad in his own power armour, as well as those of Gunnar Orkbane, the wolfprist Sigurd, and lord Blackmane.
Gunnar nods at your arrival before turning to speak with Njal on things. Lord Blackmane and Sigurd, on the other hand, walk over to you; one with a slight smirk on his lips the other something akin to a snarl or controlled anger. “I look forward to hearing a mighty tale of your deeds upon your return from ending this greenskin menace.” Lord Blackmane says, grasping Vermundr’s fore-arm in the process. “Hunt hard and well for those of us who cannot fight by your side this time.” Sigurd growls before speaking directly to Keris, “And remind any who need it who you are and why you fight.”
“Come now Ragnar, do not hold them forever or Aldr will get mad!” Gunnar calls out from the top of one of the thunderhawk ramps. Lord Blackmane gives a genuine grin at this, his fangs pulling at the sides of his mouth in the process. “He is right, off with you to your vessel!” Your lord declares, he and the priest banging an armoured fist against their chests. You cross the distance to the thunderhawks, noting that the green and white Aurora vessel is already gone and the one in which Gunnar entered is starting to take off.
You find places within your own transport, discovering that you share it with the rune priest Njal. The ancient warrior looks beyond many of you, eyes piercing your very being to rest upon Alrik. “When we have made transition to the warp you and I must speak Firehawk, you will find me upon the bridge at that time.”
Getting secured and prepare to launch from the Fang you are rocketed into your grav couch from the transports takeoff almost as soon as the assault ramp closes, the pilot bringing the thunderhawk into a steep climb as it escapes the atmosphere. You spy the Fist of Russ hanging in orbit, signs of repair still going on even now. The thunderhawk lurches to the left and you see a trio of smaller ships, two are frigates of the Space Wolves and one a slightly larger light cruiser of the Aurora chapter.
[Within minutes you shall be touching down on the ship Hunrodr where you will see the thunderhawk carrying Aldr and the Long Fangs land as well. True to his word, Njal is gone for the bridge as soon as he exits the thunderhawk. ]
[Cutting things a little short, as some of you will likely notice. But worry not, transition to the warp shall begin soon. As always, if you have questions feel free to PM me or find me on MSN messenger. Do not be surprised if there is more here tomorrow.]
Blood Claw Iotki
Despite his usual insensitivity, his penchant for pranks of both the laughable and cruel variety, even Iotki could feel somthing was wrong.
They had left the hall in almost complete silence, some merely doing so to keep from laughing out loud.
Until of course, they rejoined their pack.
Their humor seemed tainted, sullen. No chatter, no excitement, no claps on the back, congratulations or admissions of honorable acquittal, despite the invouluntary and reactionary nature of the brawl, it had been a bout well fought, suitable for a tavern-song in Iotki's opinion, though, many things that others would call acts of dishonor were suitable for tavern-songs in Iotki's opinion. That was half the fun of tavern songs.
They had all armed themselves in a silence that seemed almost sulking, like they were all children that had been disciplined by an angry parent. But then, he supposed they were in a way. He could vaguely recall hearing some of his Pack-brothers speaking to each othe in low voices, though he could make none of them out, no-one wanted to break the silence it seemed.
Iotki rushed to clad himself in his mighty power armor, feeling it's machine-spirit, a friendly, protective presence as ever, wrapping around his enhanced form. He felt his Black Carapace interface with it, his second skin once again merging with his body, the body of a Space Wolf, one of the Emperor's finest, a proud Son of Russ. Despite the cold feeling in the arming room, he felt some pride at that.
He had managed to arm himself before most of his pack-mates had, not entirely unintentionally and rushed as fast as he could from the discomfort in the armory. He wanted himself as far from Heimdall as possible. Avoiding the aura of discontent that Keris projected was simply a bonus.
He could feel his lost eye throbbing. Guilt was a painful thing.
As he waited in an antechamber for his brothers he pondered Keris' foul mood, attempting to occupy his mind of guilt, and his hands of trickery.
He wondered what had so raised his pack-mate's hackles. He grinned for a moment at the irony of Keris having hackles, or indeed for the apropos aphorism fitting so well to his Pack-brother.
As the rest of his squad joined him, the entire pack making their way to the summit of the Fang, he made a desiscion.
Their audience with Blackmane and the Stormcaller done, they loaded into the thunderhawk, pulling the webbing tight to secure themselves. Iotki made sure to locate himself next to his surly brother.
"Keris? Brother? Is something wrong?"
[OOC: It only took me a month but at least it's finally done. I couldn't have had the family troubles I've been having at a worse time but at least that's over with.]
It all happened much too fast for Ørrgrimr.
One minute, he was hunched over the table with the Firehawk across from him, knife in the splintered wood, venomous jests hanging in the air like a putrid fog. The next thing he knew, the world around him spun as a heavy goblet connected solidly into his head. The wolves around him bared their teeth and brawled like animals. Dazed by the solid blow to the head, he noticed an Elder, one of the Long Fangs, lying on the ground with blood dripping profusely from his face. A shame we have sunk so low as to dishonor our elders like this, Ørrgrimr thought, and he quickly rushed over to the old brother and attempted to help him up. Before he could do so, however, the gnarled veteran snarled and swung a mighty fist at him. He managed to narrowly avoid the blow before the veteran was pulled away by a burly Blood Claw he did not recognize, his eyes manic and his fists flailing.
He’d have none of that.
With a single solid kick he sent the other Claw sprawling, then jumped on top of him. The two struggled on the ground for a brief moment before Ørrgrimr put the other Claw into a headlock, cutting off his oxygen. Even one of the Adeptus Astartes can only hold his breath for so long, and after a few minutes of clawing madly into Ørrgrimr’s arm, the other claw finally passed out cold. By the time he had done so, the hall had gone quiet again, with the fight over and the warriors leaving the hall, muttering curses to each other under their breath and licking their respective wounds, both to their persons and to their pride. The tension in the air dissipated slowly as the Blood Claws left to arm themselves for the coming engagement, leaving Ørrgrimr standing by himself awkwardly for a few moments, the heavy Blood Claw’s throat still locked in his arms.
Shrugging, Ørrgrimr let the young Blood Claw slump to the ground and exited the hall to the Armourium, to obtain his arms and armour. As Ørrgrimr hustled to join the other members of his pack, his arm brushed against the Firehawk’s accidentally. The macabre warrior gave him but a moment’s glance before narrowing his eyes and pushing past him. “I’m still ready for that wrestle when you are, friend,” he called after him, smiling with his broken-teeth grin. “You as well,” he added, nodding to Tyr as he walked past, “as it seems our brother Alrik’s stick up his arse is making it difficult to grapple.”
Once in the armourium, he quickly suited up into his armour and hefted his bolt pistol and chainsword. He gave the bladed weapon a brief whirr, almost giddy with the anticipation of being able to use it in battle. With great haste he made his way to the Thunderhawk, and quickly boarded and searched for a seat. Scanning the rows of Astartes looking for a spot on one of the grav-couched, he spotted a suitable one. Slowly, that broken grin spread across his face again. One day his habit of making jests with the wrong men would get him killed, but if it were today he would die happy. With an almost palpable air of boisterous swagger, he walked deliberately over to the furthest grav-couch and seated himself next to the one he should have the most reason to hate. He couldn’t have grinned wider if you paid him with all the gold in Holy Terra.
“Quite a fight, eh Alrik?” he asked, easing himself into the mag-belt of the grav-couch. “You’re quite the fighter, I noticed. Shame I didn’t have the chance to test those skills out more personally.”
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