We are both prisoners and wardens of the Gate. The runes were cast, the price was paid, and our stone was removed from the Grand Annulus, as we were forever cut off from our home. Now we are the Hand at the Gate, and the undying instrument of destiny.”NIGHT HOWLERS (The Hand at the Gate)
- Torgren Rūnmark High Priest of Wolves for the Night Howlers Great Company
▪ GENE-SEED: Vylka Fenrika.
▪ FOUNDING: 1st founding, a Great Company lost to the Space Wolves
▪ CURRENT WOLF LORD: Grahl Ironheart
▪ HOME WORLD: None. Until they escape the Gate they cannot return to Fenris
▪ CURENT BASE OF OPERATION: The Loxian Gate
▪ FLAGSHIP: Grahl’s ancient Retribution Class Battleship, the Stórskorinn
▪ MAIN COLOURS: Dark grey armor, their helms painted black
▪ BATTLE CRY: A prolonged howl
▪ CURRENT STRENGTH: At the time they were lost, the Night Howlers were a large great company with exactly 324 battle brothers. Now, never more; never less.
▪ KNOWN DESCENDANTS: None
▪ ALLEGIANCE: Through all these years of mixed fortune the Night Howlers have held true to the vow of Leman Russ to serve the Emperor, though they have not always served in the way that the High Lords of Terra, or even the Great Wolf himself might have liked them to…
It was always the same vision. He was standing alone on the edge of a precipice as large as the void itself. Looking down he could see stars, and deep in the great infinite gulf below him he could just make out the shape of something with his heightened senses. A fleeting glimpse of something. Then, without warning, a hand on his shoulder and he would spin around to see himself – but not truly himself – the beast within him. Instead of terrifying however, this beast-version of himself would calmly say, “the Gate holds the key.” And then he would wake. Malgrim Rūnmark had been a rune priest for over 400 years before this particular vision began, but had never had a vision haunt his dreams the way this one did. Nor had he ever had one tied to his fate the way this one was.ORIGIN
THE TRAP (132.M33)
Wolf Lord Finn Greybeard had chosen the legendary Frostmane as the symbol of his great company when he was selected to be Wolf Lord, and the Frostmanes had since become renowned for their stubborn determination. Grahl Ironheart had epitomized that determination and had been a wolf guard in the service of the Frostmanes long enough to know that you always stay close to your lord in the heat of battle, but that day had been touched by strange fate from the moment they landed on Peshkavan II. It was hard to describe. Things had been off by an increment so small that most would call you a fool for mentioning it. But Grahl had mentioned it. And his fellow Frost Guard had called him a fool for his efforts. Nevertheless he kept his eyes open, and made mental note each time something felt amiss. A bolter firing just a fraction of a second later than it should have. A war-hardened battle brother with the reflexes of a wolf stumbling ever so slightly during a charge. The tide of battle shifting strangely in ways that could not easily be explained. It was the subtle combination of these hundreds of small things that had eventually separated Grahl from his Jarl and set in motion a series of events that would curse his company for ever.
Grahl was engaged with twenty or so of the greenskins at once, parrying blows and dispatching foes as deftly as possible, but unable to disengage and get back to his master’s side. The other Frost Guard were similarly engaged. He could see that Finn was alone, standing atop a small outcropping of rock, surrounded, but gathering xenos corpses at his feet at a dizzying rate. And although the old wolf was laying foes low all around him, something felt wrong. Then, out of the corner of his eyes he saw it. A flash of balefire and suddenly a Chaos Sorcerer was standing behind Finn with a curved dagger, flickering with deep purple arcs of tainted energy. Before he could even shout a warning the Sorcerer had moved with blinding speed to bury the dagger in Finn’s back and with a second flash of balefire, he vanished. Finn’s eyes turned black as coal and he stopped moving, as if frozen. The Orks surrounding him took full advantage of his helplessness, piled on him, and tore him to pieces to the abject horror of his honored guard.
At that precise moment vox transmissions from other units started coming in that Finn’s forces on every front of the battle were being ambushed by Chaos Space Marines who had appeared, seemingly from nowhere. The well laid battle plans for engaging the Orks on Peshkavan II were suddenly useless and the Frostmanes desperately needed to regroup, but their command structure had just been beheaded. Grahl rallied the other Frost Guard around the body of their fallen lord and coordinated a tactical retreat that brought the disparate forces together at a landing zone far removed from the one that Finn had arranged. As the last Thunderhawk gunship was taking off an enormous shockwave shook the crew compartment and Grahl could see on the vid screen that a planet rupturing explosion was tearing a fiery scar in the mountain range at the original extraction point. Someone had almost completely destroyed an entire great company in one battle. The other wolf guard agreed that Grahl had prevented a potential catastrophe and also ensured that the body of their fallen lord would not be lost. He was unanimously elected the next Wolf Lord and he chose as his symbol the Night Howler – the mythical Vargursfur – the wolf that walks between worlds.
THE CHANCE (432.M33)
It was almost exactly 300 years later to the day that Grahl would have his chance for vengeance. The Night Howlers had recovered quickly from their losses on Peshkavan II, and by the time their scouts had tracked down the treacherous sorcerer responsible, their numbers had swollen even beyond what they had been on Peshkavan, and they were ready. Malevex Sinthral was a survivor of the Thousand Sons legion and had orchestrated his treacherous scheme with painstaking attention to detail. Hoping to extract some amount of vengeance on the Space Wolves for the loss of his home world and his legion’s fall from grace, Malevex had seized on the opportunity when his men had managed to capture a Frostmane scout, and sinister rituals had been performed to extract the needed information and to set what was nearly the perfect trap.
Pleased with the assassination of a Wolf Lord, but furious that the rest of his plans had fallen apart, Malevex, in his rage, had become sloppy. He betrayed the Ork Warboss he had promised to reward for cooperating in the fight against the Space Wolves, and left just enough of a trail for Grahl’s scouts to pick up the scent. Tracking him patiently, following his movements, and preparing cautiously to exact their vengeance on the monster who had slain their lord, the Night Howlers readied themselves to ambush Malevex. Grahl gathered his entire great company, now even larger than it had been three centuries ago, readied all of the ships at his disposal as well as “borrowing” a few extra, and boarded his flagship the Stórskorinn with the intention of utterly erasing Malevex from existence with overwhelming force. The tables had turned and the prey was now the hunter.
While following the chaos sorcerer, Grahls’ scouts noticed a pattern. The witch was collecting artifacts from dead worlds. Specifically, he was selecting delta class planets that had been subjected to exterminatus, to what purpose they could not tell. But to Grahl it mattered not. The insane schemes of a madman were of little consequence when vengeance was so close at hand. Analyzing star charts and administratum records for the sector where Malevex was operating, Grahl consulted his most trusted advisors, Torgren and Malgar Rūnmark, to help him pick the planet most likely to be next. That is where they would lay wait.
The Rūnmark brothers had been in Grahl’s service since he had become Wolf Lord. Both men were wise with age and years of battle, both were patient hunters beyond reckoning, and both enjoyed mjod almost as much as they enjoyed one-upping the other. Malgar was a Rune Priest of exceptional power. While he did not often discuss his visions until he could understand their meaning, he could read the runes of fate as easily as he could reload his bolter and his visions often helped him, both on the battlefield, and when trying to beat his brother at hnefttafl (a game that both prided themselves at being good at). Torgren, slightly more serious than Malgar, had been chosen to become a Wolf Priest and his way with words was matched only by his tactical genius. When Grahl needed enemy lines broken by brute force, he asked Torgren to “Give the boys a talking to!” And when Grahl needed enemy lines infiltrated and key infrastructure destroyed without collateral damage, he asked Torgren to give him “One of his plans.” Together, the Rūnmark brothers were one of Grahl’s most powerful secret weapons, and the three marines shared a bond of mutual respect and admiration.
THE FOLLY OF VENGEANCE (432.M33)
Per the recommendations of the brothers, Grahl moved his fleet to the far side of the single moon orbiting Loxia Prime, the planet that they felt was most likely to be next on Malevex’s crooked path. Then they waited. For several days they waited. During that time, Malgar’s dreams were troubled. He kept having visions of something just out of sight, and a wulfen version of himself saying “the Gate holds the key.” He was accustomed to having visions but he was even more accustomed to being able to interpret them almost as soon as he woke. Not sure what they meant, he kept them to himself.
When the time finally came and Malevex’s small fleet arrived, they found themselves coming in right on top of a small Night Howler’s scout vessel. Torgren had recommended using a smaller, faster, long range craft to allay fears of the ship having any support and lure Malevex around to the other side of the small moon without giving away that there may be any danger. And, as expected, Malevex’s ships re-entered realspace dangerously close to the planet. Immediately the scout vessel began evasive maneuvers and raced toward the moon in what appeared to be an attempt to escape, and immediately Malevex took the bait. Eager to claim another Space Wolf prize, he pursued right into Grahl’s trap. Outgunned, outnumbered, and outclassed, Malevex’s three Scorpion Class Raiders were destroyed almost immediately, and his command ship, a Devestation Class Cruiser named the Curse of Knowledge was crippled almost as quickly. Strangely, the Curse of Knowledge engaged its main engines and began to nose dive into the moon. At first, Grahl stood stunned on the bridge of the Stórskorinn and watched in disbelief. He assumed momentarily, as did most of the command crew, that Malevex would choose suicide over defeat. But then sensors began to detect a warp anomaly developing on the surface, directly below the Curse of Knowledge. An enormous occulus of writhing warp energy was spreading rapidly over the barren surface of the orb giving it the appearance of a titanic dead grey eye with a growing black pupil in the center. Not willing to allow his prey to escape, Grahl ordered all ships to pursue and his entire fleet flew into the rift that now covered almost a third of one side of the moon’s rocky surface. The Night Howlers were not seen again for over three hundred years.
This loss of ships and manpower was sorely felt by the Space Wolves, and “Grahl’s Follie” became a cautionary tale of woe told by the rune priests during the sagas chanted at the Feast of Allwinter’s Eve. A warning about pursuing vengeance, even when victory seems assured. The stone of the Night Howlers was removed from the Grand Annulus in the Hall of the Great Wolf, and taken to the Grove of Heroes to stand forever as a reminder of their heroic sacrifice. To this day, the Night Howlers are believed lost, the accounts of their sightings discredited as misidentified Space Wolves from some other Great Company.
The Night Howlers have no physical presence in realspace. We are prisoners of an ancient xenos artifact which we have come to call the Loxian Gate. Having studied the Gate from the inside since crossing the event horizon, I have come to understand only the most basic principles of its design. 1) It is similar to the webway used by the Eldar and incorporates some of the same technology used in the Gellar Fields which can be found on all vessels of the Imperium, but it is both more advanced and does not seem to be built specifically for “transporting” anything. 2) It is controlled by some intelligence, which I believe to be a machine intelligence, that follows a logical algorithm for choosing the time and place of its opening. 3) It has a purpose, but the nature of that purpose is still not entirely clear, even after all these centuries…BASE OF OPERATION
- Javic Titansbane High Priest of Iron for the Night Howlers Great Company
The inside of the Loxian Gate is simultaneously Expansive and Labyrinthine. The “Entryway” is an enormous spherical chamber roughly one hundred and ninety kilometers across, at the center of which floats the event horizon – a ball of writhing arcane energy as large as a small moon. The event horizon casts a dark purple light out onto the “Gate Proper.” Surrounding the event horizon at an average distance of approximately fifty kilometers, the Gate Proper is a twisting inverted landscape of mountainous machinery, like a forgeworld turned inside out with “up” pointing toward the ball of energy floating in the center.
Generators of alien construct hum perpetually on the “surface”, and spider-like automated maintenance drones skitter around tending to the various control terminals that crop up in enormous mechanical “forests” while hulking guardian drones patrol about and punish anyone foolish enough to interfere with the smaller drone’s work. Exhaust vents that dot this landscape at random intervals periodically hiss as they flush fresh oxygen and nitrogen into the space surrounding the Entryway creating an atmosphere similar to that of the average Imperial agriworld, but the machine-forests are kept clear of any plant or animal life. There are areas where life grows. Machines in various states of decay, covered in moss, hanging with vines, and full of all manner of alien plants, fungi, insects, and beasts. The guardian drones work constantly to contain these areas in a battle that seems to be never ending.
Cavernous access tunnels twist, fork, and wind their way deep into the “outer layers” farther away from the surface, and rows of drones march like ants carrying parts and supplies to the surface, while in the opposite direction they drag broken pieces of equipment deep to the outer layers where automated forges work around the clock repairing, building, and fabricating all that is needed to keep the Gate running. Towering above the point that the Night Howlers have come to think of as the “south pole,” a monolithic energy spire spans the fifty kilometer distance from the surface of the Gate Proper to the edge of the event horizon and is suspected to be the generator for the event horizon’s energy field.
Most bizarre of all, the base of the energy spire is constructed in the fashion of an enormous shrine or temple. At the center of the temple lies a spherical crystalline prison constructed of unidentifiable material, and seemingly indestructible. Trapped inside the titanic sphere is a creature of light and shadow. Appearing as a smooth black ball that floats dormant in the middle when undisturbed, it can manipulate and control shadows to form terrifying limbs of hooks, blades, teeth and other nightmarish shapes whenever one approaches the edge of its prison - although it appears entirely incapable of escaping or interacting with objects on the other side of the crystal surface of its cage. All about, the temple walls and pillars are adorned with elaborate murals of a great war waged among the stars, depicting an advanced and enlightened race of beings doing battle with skeletal warriors and devils born from the stars.
Every 10,339 minutes exactly, lightning explodes from the crystal prison and a psychic scream can be heard throughout the Loxian Gate emanating from the creature inside, “LINGER!” And with that the Entryway will open, time and space seem to twist inside out, and the Night Howlers will find themselves onboard their ships, at some new location in realspace. From that moment, they have exactly 10,339 minutes to solve the riddle of their new location before being dragged back into the Gate. Only rarely are these outings uneventful, usually there is battle to be had, and almost always there is an artifact to find.
The guardsman stood there frozen. Several events had just occurred in rapid sequence that had overwhelmed his ability to process this new information clearly. First, Sergeant Strickland had just bean bitten in half by the Carnofex that had smashed through their tank traps. Second, he had heard a howling that seemed to cause the din of battle to quiet and the monstrous thing that had just bitten his sergeant in half must have heard it too, because it spit out the top half of Strickland and turned slightly as if listening. Finally a rabid pack of giant, hairy, wolf-headed men in over-sized space marine armor had bounded over the smoking wreckage of the Leman Russ Battle Tank to his right and attacked the Tyranid monster the way a pack of wolves would take down a much larger prey. And he thought there had been a lot of blood when Strickland had been killed. If he survived, he would need a change of pants after this battle.LOCAL RITUALS
Right away, the Loxian Gate had started to have a very obvious impact on the canis helix of the Night Howlers. Almost immediately after entering the Gate, those with the curse of the wulfen started to feel the stirring of the beast within. The Wolf Priests and Rune Priests working quickly to address the problem, resolved to gather those with the curse together and attempt to teach them ways to tame the rage threatening to rob them of their senses.
Early efforts at this were almost entirely unsuccessful and whole packs of bloodclaws and grey hunters were transformed into barely controllable wulfen. However, when Grahl himself started to struggle with the curse, Torgren and Malgar called a gathering of every battle brother, honored dreadnought, and the most noble of the company’s kaerls in the temple under the energy spire with Grahl and through their efforts, developed the ritual of the Pact of Morkai. In a gambit which Grahl would never have agreed to had it not been Torgren’s idea, the Rūnmark brothers encouraged Grahl to embrace the dark side of his nature and make peace with it. So it was, that after removing his armor, and through a combination of meditation, biomancy, chiurgy, and rites of purity, all while surrounded by totems of Fenris and the men who revered him, Grahl Ironheart became the first of the Night Howlers to ascend to alpha wulfen.
Just as he had during the Test of Morkai, Grahl’s bones split and buckled, thick hair sprouted from across his body and his body mass grew to enormous proportions, nearly doubling in size. Fangs sprouted from his gums, and he was wracked with pain and hunger. But unlike when he was an aspirant, this time Grahl knew what to expect, and had decided to embrace and control it. When the transformation was complete both Torgren and Malgar stepped back with their hands on their weapons, unsure whether or not Grahl was still in control as he stood up to his full height and now towered nearly twice as tall as the other two. A hulking beast, far larger than those who had fallen to the curse without the rites of the Pact, Grahl stood, chest heaving, long threads of saliva hanging from his gigantic maw, vicious claws at the ends of his bestial hands, but then he spoke, “It is finished.” Torgren looked at Malgar and Malgar laughed nervously. “My lord, are you well?” he asked. “I hunger,” was Grahl’s reply and so they laid out the feast of fresh beasts they had hunted from the surrounding wild area in preparation for the ritual with 3 of the remaining kegs of mjod. For almost a day Grahl ate and drank with his men, and four packs of grey hunters were sent out to hunt for more food. Then he addressed his men and told them that they now had a plan, and if he could walk between worlds and embrace the beast within, those of his men who had the mark of the wulfen could follow him.
The Pact of Morkai was not successful for everyone, but those who failed were few, and were simply added to the ranks of wulfen who had initially swollen to 3 full packs. Those who succeeded formed an elite unit, similar to other great companies’ wolf guard. Indeed, most of these new “alpha wulfen” were drawn from Grahl’s Shadow Guard. Berek Grimhammer and Grivald Wrothmyr were the second and third, respectively, to pass the Pact of Morkai and both were favored among the Shadow Guard. After millennia inside the Gate, it seems that most all who would turn had either passed the rites of the Pact, or been added to the ranks of the wulfen, these days totaling 6 packs in all. It has been over 100 years within the Gate since the last rite was held and though the rune priests and wolf priests are ever vigilant for those who might start to reveal signs of the curse, there have been no indications of anyone else requiring the rite in that time.
“What? You think you’ll stay dead this time?”ROLL OF HONOR
- Commonly said by Night Howlers to each other before a charge.
Asvald’s Honor (423.M41) The Gate opens and Grahl and his men find themselves in orbit around the planet Zylor IX. Malgrim recognizes the planet from his visions and directs them to the hive city of Zylor Primus. The Night Howlers find it completely over run with pale Orks. Following Malgrim’s directions, they fight their way to the sublevels of the hive to find a bridge over an enormous rift. Using jump packs to descend into the rift, at the bottom they find the shattered body of a gigantic Ork and the corpse of a noble Space Wolf. After gathering Space Wolf’s remains, weapons, and armor they fight their way out and back to the surface and return to their fleet. Although they cannot return him to Fenris, they place his remains in an honored shrine constructed within the Gate so that his soul can rest among fellow Fenrisians.
The Battle of Falkor’s Chasm (???.M??) Translating out of the Gate at a point in time before the creation of the Astronomicon in orbit around the sundered moon of Falkor Prime, the Night Howlers are quickly beset by a bizarre race of xenos capable of surviving in the hard vacuum of space. Great nebulous swarms of the beasts fly out of the chasm between the two halves of the moon and begin latching themselves onto the hulls of Grahl’s fleet and excreting foul acids to dissolve their way into the interior. The smaller ships are the first to begin reporting hull breaches and efforts to fight the beasts back seem hopeless when the Gateway opens again and a future version of the Night Howlers, who have already experienced the attack, begin transmitting directions to their earlier selves. Instructing them to launch all surviving marines in drop pods and transport craft into the gaping chasm, the new arrivals begin to open fire on the faltering ships. The catastrophic explosions incinerate most of the horde, and the remaining alien stragglers find themselves beset by a much more prepared fleet. Even though the new fleet is eventually also overwhelmed they provide enough of a distraction that the marines who enter the chasm find only light resistance guarding a small chest which their rune priests tell them is why they are here. The only thing guarding their objective was a large white snake-like creature with the head of a dog that put up little resistance. With much luck, they quickly dispatch this last foe and collect their prize, and a lone stormwolf transport manages to escape with the chest to wait out the week before being pulled back into the Gate. Inside the chest they recovered, they find only a single grain of sand. Its importance is never discerned.
Shield of Hate (288.M33) The Night Howlers come out of the Gate in orbit around Dalcyon III, and Malgrim reads the runes to try to discern what purpose they have in this place. He is surprised to learn that Malevex is here to collect one of his “artifacts.” Furthermore, Malgrim tells Grahl that he is not allowed to Kill Malevex this time. The universe will only allow him to die once. Instead, their task is to prevent Malevex from collecting his prize, but this doesn’t prevent Grahl from laying waste to Malevex’s warband or his fleet, stealing his prize, and ensuring that only the four ships they would encounter in 432.M33 remain.
The flow of time inside the Gate is not linear. To the Night Howlers, when they emerge from the Entryway they will not know what year it is, or what sector they are in. By their reckoning, they have appeared in times as far removed as before the creation of the Astronomicon, but they have never been aware of operating in times of distant future. The 41st millennium appears to be a forward boundary of the Gate’s current ability to bend the flow of time and space. Why is not clear. Only once, at the Battle for Falkor’s Chasm has the Gate opened in the same location at the same time and the Night Howlers future selves fought alongside their younger selves, helping them to win a battle against overwhelming odds. Nevertheless, they fight wherever and whenever the Gate opens. They fight in the hopes of uncovering the clues necessary to solve the riddle of the Gate and escape back to the Fang to reclaim their place among the Vylka Fenryka.COMBAT DOCTRINE
With centuries of repeated resurrection, the warriors of Grahl’s Night Howlers at first became especially reckless. Knowing that there was nothing to lose but the battle initially made it difficult for Grahl’s men to look before they leapt, and while this often worked to their favor, it would occasionally cost them the battle and the precious clues to redemption that each battle promised. They have since honed and tempered this recklessness with the cunning for which Space Wolves are notorious. If they excel at any particular form of combat, it is in stealing victory by charging in exactly where the enemy expects overwhelming firepower to force the Night Howlers to choose a different route. Often a single battle brother left standing to claim an artifact, objective, or clue to unlocking the Gate and ending their curse.
Because of the nature of their forays into realspace, the Night Howlers have little time to perform reconnaissance, assess their enemy, or even prepare battle plans. As such their scouts usually perform as forward operatives looking for clues or hunting for their objective, while the main force operates off of pre-prepared battle maneuvers that will be called out over the vox comms as the flow of battle changes. Having practiced these maneuvers over the centuries, they are as familiar with them as they are with handling a tankard of mjod, and so can change tactics on a dime.
The following fleet was assembled (and some ships “borrowed”) for the sole purpose of defeating Malevex, but they have become a permanent addition to the Night Howler’s fleet, as they too are trapped within the Gate.FLEET ASSETS
1 Retribution Class Battleship the Stórskorinn (crew 231,897 kaerls)
1 Exorcist Class Grand Cruiser the Stormcrow (crew 110,435 kaerls)
2 Strike Cruisers the Maw and the Fengr (average crew per ship 65,000 – total crew 132,320 kaerls)
4 Nova Class Frigates (average crew per ship 26,000 – total crew of 123,550 kaerls)
5 Hunter Class Destroyers (average crew per ship 15,000 – total crew of 75,030 kaerls)
2 Space Marine Landing Craft
2 Thunderhawk Transporters
4 Thunderhawk Gunships
4 Caestus Assult Rams
3 Fire Raptor Gunships
2 Storm Eagle Transports
3 Stormfang Gunships
6 Stormwolf Transports
15 Drop Pods
63 Xiphon Pattern Interceptors
68 Fury Pattern Interceptors
65 Wrath Starfighters
The Wolf Priests, Rune Priests, Iron Priests, and Dreadnoughts that accompanied Grahl's company on that fateful mission have also become permanent members of the Night Howlers and now Grahl holds court on the steps of the shrine at the base of the energy spire. His Iron Priests have fortified the shrine although there have never been visitors to the Gate, and they have little reason to expect that there ever will be. They have also constructed a small city in the area surrounding the shrine for the Kaerls that crew their ships, and both the Night Howlers and their Kaerls affectionately refer to the shrine as the "Little Fang."
Grahl Ironheart Wolf Lord of the Night Howlers
Torgren Rūnmark High Priest of Wolves
Malgrim Rūnmark High Priest of Runes
Javic Titansbane High Priest of Iron
3 Alpha Wulfen Lords
4 Alpha Wulfen Battle Leaders
4 Alpha Wulfen Iron Priests
8 Wolf Priests
13 Rune Priests
16 Iron Priests
28 Alpha Wulfen
6 Shadow Guard Battle Leaders
32 Shadow Guard
34 Wolf Scouts
35 Long Fangs
102 Grey Hunters
3 Spartan Assault TanksVEHICLES
4 Land Raider Crusaders
2 Sicaran Battle Tanks
3 Leviathan Siege Dreadnoughts
6 Venerable Dreadnoughts
16 Cyber WolvesADDITIONAL PERSONNEL
84 Fenrisian Wolves
673,232 Kaerls and other Fenrisian Support Personnel
Sitting on the steps of the Gate’s shrine, Grahl was deep in meditation, exercising the weekly ritual necessary to maintain the Pact and his sanity. Behind him Malgrim and Torgren were half-way through a game of hnefttafl and Malgrim was about to capture a complete row of Torgren’s taflmen at once using the shieldwallrule, a maneuver that Malgrim was only rarely able to pull against his brother. Suddenly Torgren spoke, "My lord, we can never truly return to Fenris, can we. Not as we are now."EPILOGUE
"Some of us can never return to Fenris. But I will see my men reunited with their home," Grahl said, only the faintest hint of remorse hanging around his words. Torgren felt a pain in his soul at this. The Pact of Morkai was his idea, and while he was not prone to second guessing himself, on this act he often wondered if the price paid was worth the temporary reprieve it offered.
"But when we return it will be the Wolftime. Will we not be welcomed even at the End of Days?" Torgren spoke as though he did not recognize that Grahl’s fate differed from his own.
"We shall see," was all Grahl said. Malgrim moved his taflstone into place completing the sheildwallrule. He smiled at his victory, but when he looked up, Torgren’s eyes were on Grahl. Of the three, Malgrim's smile hid the most pain, for only he knew that the issue was mute. There would be no return.