Azahd couldn't help but being slightly disappointed with the way the hunt had gone. As he tore into a final slice of meat and listened to Tyr's tale of the battles of Hecutor, he realised that he was jealous of Krahl. Whilst he would not have liked to have received the same threat from Alrik as Krahl had, the glory which Krahl would no doubt gain from striking the killing blow almost made it worth enduring that. Besides, Azahd got the impression that Alrik was not the most well liked member of the pack, either by his own choice or unfortunate circumstances, so it seemed unlikely he would have much support to carry through with his threat.
As it stood, Azahd still felt like he was not respected amongst the pack, and listening to Tyr and Alrik's tales of past glories, he could understand why. He had no impressive stories to tell, no crowning moments, no gruelling scars to show for dangerous tests of ability, save for those from his feat that secured his initiation, but then again, they all has tales and scars like that. They were nothing to boast about. And whilst he probably knew that striking the killing blow against the razor-ursid would not have made him into an instant choice for pack leader, or made him as respected as some of the other members, it would have certainly helped.
Azahd drew one of his short blades they had all been sent out with, and sheared off a shard of ice from the rock he was sitting on and rolled it absent mindedly over his fingers. They had been out on the borders of Asaheim for two months now, and Azahd was eager to be back in the Fang. As much as all Wolves felt at home in the harsh landscape of Fenris, Azahd couldn't help but miss the familiar hum of the servos in his power armour, the dull roar of his chainsword and the satisfying kick of his bolt pistol with every shell it fired. As much as he could prove himself on the plains here, against some of the most hostile environment and creatures the Imperium had to offer, no amount of razor-ursids he could kill would get him in the annuals of the Space Wolves history, no amount could give him an noble name, no amount could forge a legacy for him.
A great deal of noise was going on around him, Frostulfr and Hrothgar were engaged in an arm wrestle over one of the pieces of meat and three of the senior pack members were having an inaudible conversation aside from the rest of the pack. For the moment he was content to sit round the fire rolling his shard of ice over his fingers. This time tomorrow, they would be back in the Fang, in the great hall possibly gloating about the exploits of their hunt. No doubt Krahl would lead the bragging on that front, and Azahd would have to take a back seat. Still, he would bide his time. He would prove himself, very soon...
Alrik was fuming as he spoke, and after a few moments Krahl finally understood why. The hostile stare that the older wolf gave the younger ones seemed to increase twofold once it reached Krahl, and the grin vanished from the young Blood Claw`s face as Alrik vented his rage.
‘Why do you grin, wyrm?’ Alrik snarled, glaring at Krahl. For the moment, they young claw was silent, so Alrik took it on himself to continue.‘What great accomplishment have you partook in, to wear a joker’s smile?’
Krahl narrowed his gaze and tightened his grip as the elder blood claw stood and stared down at him through the flames. ‘Know this, Packmate - If you lay hand upon me again, place me in danger, the snow will run red.’
Following this, he sat back down. The flames seemed to recede as the rant finished, almost as if they were mocking or perhaps emphasising Alrik`s point.
Krahl was silent for almost a minute, before he could take the derision no more. 'You feel cheated packmate?' Krahl called, glaring through the fire. 'You feel as though I robbed you of your glory, is that it? That damn beast was going to kill someone sooner or later, what did you hope to accomplish by pissanting around in front of it?'
Krahl stood and took a step closer to the fire. He drove his spear into the base, causing an eruption of embers and a renewal of the fire`s emphatic heat.
'Next time you have a great hulking mass of muscle and claw bearing down on you, rest assured I will friggin` leave it to you to kill. So if you want to put yourself in front of another monster, you better make sure you`re up to the task on your own, packmate!' He spat the last word, before withdrawing the spear and sitting back down.
He glared at Alrik for a few moments before turning slightly sideways and counting the stars in the sky above the fang in an attempt to calm down...
‘Are you so keen for personal glory that you would simply abandon the oaths you have sworn to your lord and your packleader, son of Russ?’
Keris’ voice was diamond hard and dangerous as he spoke, the tone weighted with the undercurrents of a warning growl. He had not moved from where he sat beside Vermundr throughout the exchange, turned mostly away from the flames and the wolf pelt on his broad back pulled close to keep the firelight from his eyes, his spear lay ready on the rock at his side. The fur was storm-grey; the coarse guard hairs tipped in silver as if the pelt was forever rimmed in hoarfrost and glinted in the play of shadows cast by the popping flames as they were ruffled by the ever present wind.
‘Glory is meaningless if bought at the forfeit of your wolfbrothers. Nor is his lifeblood yours to shed, Firehawk.’
Keris shifted; his crystal blue eyes catching the firelight and reflecting mirror-bright for a moment before he turned his gaze back out to the moon lit mountains. The Fang loomed in the distance like a spear thrust into the heart of the void itself. Keris’ breath ghosted into the darkness as he tasted the wind, the faint outline of a storm hung ominous and low upon the horizon like a stalking Thunderwolf. The moon was just waning and cast oil-black shadows in the lee of the harsh peaks of Asaheim. A hunter’s moon.
‘Have you all forgotten that our task is yet unfinished? Fenris is unforgiving of remiss; perhaps that is a lesson that needs to be re-learned in humility...’
Keris paused and lowered his voice, his next words muted for the ears of his wolfbrother Iorek and his packleader. His eyes found the scared face, pale as the ice that flanked the dark shadow of the Fang. His tone was not chiding, but one of quiet thought,
‘The task Lord Blackmane set upon us is more than a test of our might to bring down the prey, brother; it is also one of trust. I would have not thought that you, Ghostwolf, of all of us would seek to withhold after experiencing the costs of such a choice.’
Keris’ eyes then turned to his packleader,
‘We carry this task as a pack or we have already failed.’
Vermundr stared with narrow eyes once Alrik came out with the feelings he knew were inside him, narrowed merely due to increased attention, not anger. When Krahl acted as the blood claw he was, and stood to refute Alrik, Vermundr's body clicked forward ready to move and intervene.
Keris did not hesitate to speak out, which settled Vermundr back into his sitting position. Vermundr had known Alrik long enough to know that his large pack brother was not wavered by words, only actions. Words, even from respected Keris Hell even from one such as the great Stormcaller, would only stave him off for some temporary amount of time.
As the awkward silence that now lay like a poisonous fog over the campfire settled in, Vermundr moved back to the other matter at hand with his two brothers upon the rock.
"Duly noted brother," Vermundr says with his head turned toward Keris, "Iorek brings up a good point, and it agrees with your opinion. It would definitely be good to see how this pack reacts to being hunted rather than the other way around. I guarantee you the next 24 hours in that case would seem just as long as the last week, but it would be less stress on our eyes, that is for certain."
He turns his head back forward, towards the pack around the fire, "But, I have to agree that if we tell one or more, we should tell them all. Whatever the reasons may be for telling only one or two, the rest would likely see that as us playing favorites even if it actually just testing them."
The bitter taste of arrogance stung the back of his tongue yet again. Stop it, stop acting like you're more than you really are. Puh, testing them, like you have some kind of actual rank experience.
Vermundr let out a sigh backed by a low growl. He again eyed the razor-ursid's giant coat of fur bundled up beside his leg. He spied a knot in the roping, which he felt did not look tight enough so he began to rework it.
"So it is decided then, we shall tell the rest of the pack of our Lord's warning. As I said, one day of stress shouldn't be so bad compared to the last two months as a whole. I'm sure they can handle it. But first, " he said with a heavy breath as he finished the knot and sat back straight, "I should talk to this one,"
"Krahl!" he waited for the other blood claw to turn, "Come here, I wish to speak with you about something."
He knew Alrik would be watching and so he turned an sure enough found Alrik's gaze. Vermundr nodded to him, assuring his fellow wolf that he was not taking the younger one's side and hoped Alrik would understand that Vermundr wished him to relax and be patient with the newcomers.
Said to be one of the most hostile worlds within the realm of the Imperium. Ever changing, unpredictable, the ferocious weather able to kill a man as easily as the beasts that stalked the its lands or swam in its unforgiving oceans. The people of Fenris lived a constant life of survival, never able to let their guards down lest the world punish them. The Imperium would call it a deathworld. Its inhabitants called it Fenris.
The biting wind wrapped itself around Njord more completely than the furs and pelt he wore ever could do. Such was life on Fenris, one could never truely escape the weather, only adapt as best as possible and learn to embrace it. Flecks of snow clung to his shaven scalp, the vestiges of hair starting to grow back in due to the months spent on the hunt, he would of course shave them away once they returned to the Fang.
The Fang loomed in the distance, still colossal despite the distance they were from it. Its mightly battlements and walls part of the Asaheim itself. The moon was in such a position that from where Njord sat the Fang appeared to be stabbing the moon itself. How typically Fenrisian he thought. They had not set foot in the Fang for two long months, two months of hunting the beast across vast continent. He longed to return to the distant halls, cold, dark and without elegance. Home.
The pack had caught up to the beast in time, having evnetually found its trail and followed it before catching its odour on the winds with their enchanced sense of smell. They had fought a dangerous game with the beast, a deadly dance to ensare it within striking distance. Njord has been one of the ones to funnel it towards the bait. Attacking and provoking it enough to turn the beast in the desired direction but not enough to gain its full attention. It required complete trust in the rest of the pack and careful co-ordination. It almost ended in disaster though when it managed to corner Tyr, but the reactions of Keris and Frostulfr were enough to save the older Blood Claw. Krahl had been the one to deliver the killing blow in the end, perhaps rising Alriks life in the process however.
Njord turned his gaze to the roaring fire the pack were huddled around. The wind snatched angrily at the flames, trying to eradicate the warmth it gave to those around it, not willing to let them rest from the its icy touch. Tyr was spinning tales of past glories to the others, telling them of battles with Ogryns and traitors. Njords attention though was on the elder members of the pack. Sat a little apart from the rest of them, conversing in quiet voices. What about he could not discern, but there was clearly something on their minds.
The voices around the fire growled louder abruptly. Alrik having finally lost patience with Krahl, enraged over the younger pack members actions that led to him bringing down the beast. They traded angry snarls with each other, brandisihing their weapons at each other. The pack was not unified at all yet, the elder Blood Claws appearing to not want the company of the new bloods. Had they forgotten what it was like when they first began their new lives as an Astartes?
Despite the altercation taking place, Njord did let go of the feeling something was being held back from them by the elder ones, he turned his golden eyes, so like a wolfs back to the the trio, resting them on the pack leader as he wondered what was being kept from them.
They were disapproving. All of them, Krahl could tell. In truth he did not care as much as he knew he should but at the same time he knew it was important to have their trust and respect. There was no denying that if this pack were to survive, then at some point he and Alrik would have to reconcile, or at the very least come to terms with each other.
Perhaps a sparring match when they returned to the Fang, a good one on one fight to vent both their frustrations and anger upon each other. It would be fun if nothing else.
He gave up counting the stars, there were too many and they kept flickering. The light of the fire on the edge of his vision didnot help the task either, so instead he turned the other way and saw the elder members of the group, talking softly among themselves. Krahl`s hearing was good, but not that good, as clearly the seniors of the pack knew what would be heard and what wouldn`t.
‘Are you so keen for personal glory that you would simply abandon the oaths you have sworn to your lord and your packleader, son of Russ?’ A voice caught his attention, that of one of the older pack members Keris.
Krahl simply shook his head as he replied. 'What youngster doesn`t want a good tale to tell in his youth. Had the situation been any different I would not have put an act like this past any other. I only acted in the heat of the moment, how was I supposed to know the grumpy one had any kind of plan in mind.' He suppressed a grin, not wanting to inflame Alrik any further than he had already.
Something else was said between them and the three of them glanced between Alrik and Krahl. The older wolf Vermundr kept his gaze on Krahl a moment longer than the others, and immediately the young claw knew he was in some sort of trouble.
'Krahl!' He called, confirming the younger astartes suspicions as he looked up. 'Come here, I wish to speak with you about something.'
As Krahl stood, he saw the look Vermundr gave to Alrik, a look of warning maybe? More likely reassurance of Krahl`s impending punishment. As Krahl approached, he dropped the spear to the ground, not wanting to appear hostile to his superior.
'You have words for me I assume?' Krahl said. 'No doubt some speech on brotherhood and duty. Fair enough, but keep in mind that Alrik made the first threat and I would not simply allow such disrespect to go unanswered.'
(Post moved to respond to vermundr)
The packleaders words flittered across his mind to be met with a sharp toss of his head a harsh bark
"As you wish, warn them."
The single eye was blank, his face emotionless, his voice empty and cold as his gaze snapped from Alrik and Krahl to lock with the ice blue stare of Keris
"Your advice is as ever sage, brother, yet my experience,"
His voice bit deep as he raised the one long eye brow
"Blackmane had no problems with secrecy, defined it as a quality that made a leader, so do not talk of my experience. Vermundr has proven him correct in that. Yet I will tell you of my experience, the agony only came when the shield of ignorance was cast asunder. If you tell them now they will wonder why we did not tell them before, we will merely remove the shield of ignorance and unleash a needless pain and suspicion. It may be a test of trust yet so far we have been found wanting, we have not told them, we sit aside and scheme. We were a divided force against the bear, new and unfamiliar, glory was gained almost at the expense of one of our brethren, one who does not love or forgive easily"
"I know not who to trust, is it so wrong to wish to know who would stand beside you and fight or who would thrust you under the bears claws to seek their own glory?"
He let out a little snarl as his eyes turned once more upon Khral
"He knows no remorse for his actions, does not feel any bonds of loyalty tie him to his brothers within the pack. I would have him know that the pack is a brotherhood, that he will met an enemy he did not expect and that someone will be at his back when he stumbles and falls, when his muscle fails him."
Yet you dont not believe that line you wish to be alone
The snide voice bit deep into his mind and his eye closed, his voice faltering as pain bit across his temples as he thrust a spear of reason at the wolf within
"I desire to make things right, to earn my place within the pack once more. Upon Hecutor I dishonoured myself, I will return when I have earnt my honour once more"
bullshit, you desire to be alone
Anger flared but the snide voice was gone, turned tale and fled into his subconcsious. The red eye opened returning to grapple with the icy orbs before him
"How better to do that than with an enemy he did not expect, that attacks when he believes the job is done, will not meet him head on as the bear did, but lies in the shadows?"
A strained chuckle tore from between his lips
"What does a man fear more than that which he cannot see"
The blood claw came forth at Vermundr's command his back arched chest thrust out words laced with defiance
'You have words for me I assume?' Krahl said. 'No doubt some speech on brotherhood and duty. Fair enough, but keep in mind that Alrik made the first threat and I would not simply allow such disrespect to go unanswered.'
A bitter tang of cotempt carressed his tongue and he spat upon the floor with a harsh snarl
"No he called you close as we wished to wonder upon your hideous visage more closely. Have some sense, glory hunter, let the pack leader speak before you assume. However as you seek words, I have words for those that place their own glory before the safety of their brothers, yet they are curses and chastisement not fit for such tender ears. However I would say that someone that would thrust me upon a bears claw merely to steal the glory of the kill is not someone i would call a brother. Personally i would rather embrace the bear."
His fingers stretched to lace through the bearskin hide before turning a wolfish grin upon Khral
"He was certainly a prettier sight"
The cold swirled around him, but did not hold the same bite it carried as a child. There was a time when these winds would have driven him to the comfort of a shelter, to his tribe huddled close around a fire, to a shared hide, but that was so long ago when Yngvar was a child when he was only a mere human. Now he was so much more. Every time he thought of the past he was reminded of this. So many of his own frailty's had been stripped away leaving behind a warrior, a Blood Claw.
Yngvar sat near the fire listening to the tales of past glories as he worked a stone. The slow meticulous work had taken him far longer than normal. It was rough and jagged worked by the most primitive means with most primitive tools, a true hunters spearhead. Forming it had not been the longest part, it was the symbols that were carved into each side. The first a small fang, opposite was his tribe's symbol for an ursid.
Yngvar smiled and watched as Tyr finished his story. As the speaker changed from one packmate to another he reaching into a pouch. From it a chunk of fat roughly the size of a man's hand was produced. The white/yellow stuff bubbled and spat as he threw it into the base of the fire. For a few moments it melted and oozed before finally feeding the flames. It had been carved from a razor-ursid. This same beast's meat was cooking over the fire. The memory of driving the creature was still in his mind. It had been the first real ‘battle’ of the pack.
The claw had tracked the beast for days. Yngvar had assisted but not for the sake of only finding the beast. He had watched and listened to the senior members gaining some experience from the endeavor. He had also watched the others learning more in those days then the entirety of their training. The young Space Wolf had seen the schism that seperated the older and younger members of this pack. Still Yngvar did not know the true reason for it. Perhaps it was the younger ones inexperience, or the older ones mistrust that caused it. Maybe it was that the older ones had seen combat and were forged into a brotherhood, and the young upstarts were seen as imposters attempting to replace those lost before. For whatever reason their differences had not been settled when the beast was cornered. The massive creature lashed out toward its attackers as it found itself cornered against cliff face. After Tyr, the last brother to take the role of aggressor, escaped with the assistance of Keris and Frostulfr it had no one person to vent its rage upon. As it was lashing out toward the remaining hunters the pack needed to coordinate their movements. The memories of his former hunts helped keep Yngvar prepared. He knew to draw the creature's attention from the one who would strike the final blow. As such it was surprising when Krahl moved for the kill and everything almost fell apart. Whether it was impatients or glory seeking that had driven him to shove Alrik aside and strike. Thankfully it had been a kill, if it hadn’t they might be one less.
As the thoughts turned toward that moment voices became raised. Yngvar was brought back to the present. Alrik and Krahl were brandishing weapons as they spat words of hate to one another. It punctuated the schism between the younger and older Blood Claws. Yngvar had noticed there seemed to be an abundance of aggressors, and very few hunters within the Claw.
After several tense seconds a voice called ending the two's confrontation. Yngvar glanced around at the others as silence seemed to fill the air. His eyes halted on The Fang. The massive structure was so close, but yet so far. It was a day away at the most. One day and they would be home, one day and they would be declared a Claw, and still so long until they truly were. They each were bound to each other by the blood in their primarch, and their oaths to the chapter. For the older ones they appeared bound to each other through their past, through the stories they told of the things they had done. Yngvar hoped to one day share that bond as he turned to the spearhead in his hand. Perhaps one day.
Tyr sat in silence and listened to Alrik as he chided Krahl for his actions, Alrik may be blunt with his words but he was honest and Krahl needed to be told that his actions were wrong, he had thrown a brother into an almost fatal position for his own personal glory and that was never ok. Yet Tyr kept his peace and said nothing as Krahl fired back his own hot head response at Alrik and chuckled a bit at how ignorant he was of who Alrik really was, the Firehawk would not let this go until he was satisfied that Krahl had learned his lesson and the wrong had been righted, which could take awhile.
He grabbed his spear and stood up, grabbing the piece of meat that Hrothgar and Frostulfr were fighting over, before making his way over to Vermundr who had just called Krahl over, "I will go and keep watch with Heimdall, it will do us well to have two sets of senses keeping watch rather than one." he looked down at Krahl, the tone in his voice serious, "The pack must always come first little one, the minute you put yourself and your own ambition before your brothers is the one that one or all of us will die because of your actions." he turned back to his pack leader, "I will be outside if you need me."
Tyr turned and made his way towards where Heimdall was keeping watch and as he passed Frostulfr and Hrothgar he said, "I already ate the piece you two are fighting over." the large wolf pointed to his head indicating that sometimes you need to use your head and not just your strength, he laughed and shook his head at the two of them as he passed them by.
Heimdall was by himself staring at the stars, Tyr could tell he was thinking about something so he was quite for awhile as they both stood watch, their senses peeled for anything that could be a danger to them all. As they stood watch Tyr finally spoke up, "Tell me Heimdall, what do you see out there? Hear? Smell? Feel?" it was a strange question but the large wolf knew that by having his younger brother concentrate and tell him what he was sensing that it would make him focus that much more and his senses would be sharper.
Tyr had always had stronger than normal senses, even for a Space Wolf, and it was something he had prided himself on more so than his abnormal size and strength. It was one subtle gift that he had and it had saved him more than once on Hecutor, at the moment all he could hear was the whistling wind and the general violence of Fenris's weather. Yet smells were different, the cooking meat, each of his brothers had a distinct smell to them, and lucky for him the wind was coming right at them so if anyone or anything was out there he would smell them before seeing them.
A fighting has erupted inside the pack, and it had nothing to do with the fighting between Hrothgar and Frostulfr. The wind raged and howled just like the tempers of the two opponents, Alrik and Krahl. The inner fighting made him stop laughing even though Hrothgar was still on the ground rubbing his cheek to ease the pain from the smash he just suffered. He watched quietly as Alrik began to chide Krahl about his actions, he spoke harshly without mercy; he was straight forward and strict with his opinions, unrelenting like the weather around them. A gust of wind suddenly passed by, he heard the footsteps of a brother, he smelled him, it was the one known as Tyr, he passed by them, chuckling while saying that he already ate the piece Hrothgar and he were fighting for. He snarled at him, it was not a snarl that he would give to an enemy, but a friendly one, yet he was right, as he pointed at his own head explaining silently that they both should use their brains more. Frostulfr could not resist, he chuckled and a small wicked smile crept into his face. Tyr was right after all…
Frostulfr watched, seeing that Hrothgar was slowly getting up and ready to retaliate he stretched his hand towards him with one finger raised, it was the same motion which would tell someone to be quiet if it was near the mouth, the objective was the same, to stop Hrothgar from continuing the friendly brawl as they had more important matters to solve. Hrothgar probably noticing the shouts himself quickly nodded towards Frostulfr acknowledging the short truce. He knew that his brother will get his revenge later when he won’t expect it. Probably he will smash him into one of the walls in the fang and smack him in the face as an act of revenge. These raised a small smile on Frostulfr’s face which was rather grim due to the harsh words which were said by Alrik and Krahl.
He looked at Alrik first, his harsh and brutal features clearly visible in the light of the fire, he was eternally grim, rarely smiling and nearly always frowning. It was hard to be at his side, yet in this argument Frostulfr could understand where Alrik’s words were coming from although they sounded extremely harsh and unforgiving. On the other side of the conflict stood Krahl, young and naïve just like Frostulfr probably, he mocked Alrik, asking him if he felt that he was cheated because of the kill which was stolen, this was clearly not the case, even Frostulfr could see that, yet Krahl’s ignorance and maybe even stupidity caused him to speak those words. Such words, form both of them would cause division and trust issues in the pack, those things should never happen as they hampered the ability of the pack to act as a whole body. When one part did not work correctly all the others suffered and when two did not it was even more terrible.
Seeing that the pack leader, Vermundr, called Krahl to him Frostulfr moved to Alrik, he hoped he will be able to start some kind of a conversation with him, and try to understand fully what was going in that brain of his and more importantly he had to know if there was a deeper meaning to the words Alrik spoke and to why he confronted Krahl. Frostulfr got up from his kneeling stance by the icy rock and moved towards Alrik, he passed by the fire, the light quickly falling over him revealing more of his form as the shadows danced upon his clothing and pelts, he took a sit near Alrik yet at the same time in a safe distance, he knew that the man was short tempered. “Brother, a minute of your time if you may?” Frostulfr spoke, trying to catch Alrik’s attention. He did not wait for Alrik to answer or respond at all, he just continued speaking, he was blunt and straight forward and wanted what he thought to be heard, “I understand where you come from Brother, although I don’t know you for long and probably not as well as the others I do know that in this case you are right, Krahl shouldn’t have pushed you aside like that, endangering a brothers life, it was careless and reckless. Yet do you think that your harsh words were necessary; will you real leave your brother to die due to pasts events? You don’t have to like him, but he is your brother, and you must both work together. I am quite aware that you might hate me for the words I am about to speak but please, try and keep your temper under control, such arguments just threaten to divide the squad even more then it is now. I’m saying even more because you are probably aware like me that the squad is pretty much formed out of two groups, the experienced and the new, and not everyone here likes each other… At any rate, brother, Alrik, please, try to keep calm and withstand the foolishness and ignorance of others, if not for us, the new members, then for others like out pack leader Vermundar.” He finished speaking, he spoke rather loudly, but silently enough for others to understand that what he was saying to Alrik was for his ears only and not for everyone. He never liked feeling like a conspirator and a secret keeper so he always kept his voice rather loud.
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