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Alrik’s lip bled.

In the suppression of unbridled laughter, he had bit deep into the thin strip of flesh. Now, claret liquid ran into his mouth, slipping between his enlarged canines and sharpened incisors.

The taste which ran into his mouth was beautiful - Causing his eyes to widen, his chest and arms to prickle with excitement.

Krahl was a despicable bastard; fiery-hearted, unable to hold his tongue when in the presence of his betters, glory-hunting..

Alrik’s left hand seized the haft of his spear, which lay in the snow, while he fingered around the hilt of his flaying knife with the other. All he needed was one flicker of movement, and he would gut Krahl. Or, he would give him a mortal injury - One which would fester and puss, which not even the Wolf Priests would be able to heal with their techno-magic.

If Krahl truly wanted to fight, then-

‘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 intoned, his voice tinted with wisdom and beneath that, a sibilant warning.

He turned his attentions towards Alrik, eyes aglow, bright, ice-blue. The Firehawk straightened, glaring back with his own, obsidian orbs, red rivulets running down his chin, in silent contemplation.

‘Glory is meaningless if bought at the forfeit of your wolfbrothers. Nor is his lifeblood yours to shed, Firehawk.’ Addressed the Ice-Eyed. Keris had been gifted with a poetic mastery of words; with a wise, cunning mind. Accursed with indefatigable, relentless mind..

Alrik snorted back a laugh, and removed his hand from the hilt of his blade.

‘Damned sage,’ He sneered, a joyless half-whisper, turning his head from Keris. Alrik counted him amongst the closest of his brothers, but found his self-righteousness and pride to be irritable. ‘Then I shall break him upon me knee, no blood..’

In the distance, a great expanse of storm-clouds hung low, crackling and rumbling with thunder and lightning, as it seeped across the landscape.

When Vermundr’s voice barked across the ridge, commanding and guttural, Alrik turned towards the Packleader. Like those in the Pack, he was drabbed in heavy, musky furs. His expression was stony, riddled with determination. Two, heavy braids draped down the side of his face, sodden and lightly dotted with frost. Vermundr nodded his aquiline features, and Alrik returned with a shallow, half-serious dip of his grim countenance.

His ears prickled. The one called Frostulfr, who had been play-fighting over a scrap of meat, took a seat next to him. Yet, he was not. He was distant, weary and alert. His body was secreting warning pheromones, sending Alrik’s senses reeling. It was an horrible, acrid taste upon his tongue and within his nostrils.

When he spoke, his words were loud and careful, treading upon thin ice, the simplest hint of wisdom in his uncultured, barbarous tone.

‘What do you know of division among the Pack, Frostulfr?’ He barked harshly, staring away from the younger Wolf. With each word he spoke, a gout of mist arose before his face. ‘Was you there, when I laid hand upon Bloodclaw Keris, whom I considered amongst my closest? Was you there, when Tyr, Iorek and myself questioned Vermundr, and in turn faced judgment at the hands of Vermundr? Was you there, when I was branded as Oathbreaker?’


His eyes narrowed in contempt. He stood, drawing his speckled-furs tighter upon his shoulders and chest. The hilt of his flaying-blade protruded from beneath.

His words fell into a low, mirthless grumbling.

‘What do you know of division, brother, that you deem it acceptable to pass words of wisdom unto me? I share no bonds with the likes of Krahl, nor shall I do so. Our Pack has survived worse than a petty mongrel,’ He jabbed an angry finger towards Krahl. ‘And will continue to do so. I have no qualms with you, nor do I have any intents of making such a thing. But I will not abide to your commands and suggestions, you are lesser. You are untested. When you kill a man, smell his blood, hear his cries; then perhaps that will change.'

With both hands, he raised a hood of night-black fur over his head. His features were shrouded in confining shadows; save for his chin and mouth, which were yellow and dancing in the firelight.

'Do not interfere with matters which do not concern you, and there shall be no loss of love between us,' Not that there was any, he added silently. 'You have a wise head upon your shoulders, Frostulfr. Use it as you should - Wisely.’

And with that, he turned, stalking away from the sitting Astartes. A grin of accomplishment, one of malice and ingenuity, parted his thin, crimsoned lips.
 

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A simple sentence from Alrik sent all of Frostulfr’s words spiraling into an abyss, he was right to an extent, when he spoke crimson droplets of blood could be seen in the dim light which surrounded them, the blood was running from his lip, he must’ve bitten it which was not surprising considering the cold that was around them. Alrik asked Frostulfr what he knew about division in a pack, although masked as one it was not a question, it was a bellow, a command, Alrik was defending himself from Frostulfr’s words and not replying to them truly. His behavior was curious, maybe he acted like that because Frostulfr was distant, unknown to Alrik. Yet something was weird about how he acted, as he defended himself he also turned his gaze away from Frostulfr, it seemed that he does not want him to meet his eyes, he hid much pain underneath them, Frostulfr could easily smell that now when he was aware of that fact.

After that small outburst Alrik seemed to get calmer, the tension was lessening, and then Alrik began talking, Frostulfr never expected that, he never expected Alrik to talk about what happened before the new Blood Claws Frostulfr with them joined this claw. Alrik told him that he laid his hands on Keris, he continued, telling Frostulfr how he along with Tyr and Iorek doubted and questioned Vermundr and in return faced judgment by his hands, he finally finished his sentence by adding a small bit of information, yet as small as it was it was an important one, he apparently was branded as an Oathbraker, that was a bad thing, and it could easily explain Alrik’s distrust of others and his actions. He was a physical person simply because he was unsure and unsecure at least it seemed so to Frostulfr…

Alrik continued staring at the distant mountains, still not looking Frostulfr in the eye, some would have taken that as an insult but Frostulfr merely shrugged it off, it was just an act of distrust from someone who really did not know Frostulfr well. While Alrik stared at the mountains Frostulfr saw him tightening the pelts around him stronger to protect from the cold, it seemed to Frostulfr like a chill ran down Alrik’s spine as he recalled those events but was it just his imagination, he would probably never know. It seemed like Alrik was spent, no more words came from him for a few moments yet when Frostulfr was about to reply he spoke again, his words came out in a low and grumbling tone, he was clearly unhappy.

Alrik attacked him, even if not directly or physically, he mocked Frostulfr, he maybe even secretly laughed at him, he emphasized the fact that he knew nothing about division, he was quite amazed by the fact that Frostulfr lectured him, he then again, turned to talk about Krahl ranting about him for a few moments and then moving back to attack Frostulfr verbally, he spoke, telling Frostulfr that he was lesser and untested, he was beneath Alrik’s level and now it was finally clearly seen how Alrik held himself high above the others, he thought of himself as the best thing that every came to existence, at least it looked that way when he spoke those words. He told him that after he would kill a man someone things will possibly change. Maybe he was right, maybe he was wrong, Frostulfr will not know until he would have to kill someone.

He slowly raised a hood, covering his features, making them invisible, the more he acted that way the more it seemed that he is defending himself, he tried to escape what he knew was partially right… His final words came to be, telling Frostulfr to not interfere in matters which did not concern him, in the end before he walked away he complimented Frostulfr, yet this compliment came along with hidden venom, it was as much as a compliment as mockery was and Frostulfr did not doubt that it was intentional.

He stalked away; he ran away from his own problems, he did not want to face them. He was afraid, clearly… Yet Frostulfr was not about to give up, he knew that those things will have to come up at some point and it was better that they would come up now and not in the middle of battle. As he stalked away so did Frostulfr, he followed Alrik, he was not silent and subtle, he clearly let him know that he was walking after him. “Alrik! Don’t walk away like that!” He said, speaking boldly yet in some kind of a whisper, he did not want others to hear his words, they now were meant only for Alrik to hear and he was not about to shame him or humiliate him before the others. “Alrik! Listen to me, I did not command you to do anything, I merely humbly suggested it. I can see your suffering and from what you have said a moment ago I can easily see that it’s hard for you even if you are not showing that. You might be tough on the outside, you might be a brutal and strong man but you are frail, rotten from the inside, and if you won’t cleanse this rot, if you want amputate the corrupted feelings it will only get worse.” He knew that those words might hurt Alrik, he also knew that Alrik might hate him for that and maybe even attack him with that skinning knife of his yet he had to say that, he was bound to Alrik even if Alrik did not like it. They were a pack, and a pack should work together no matter the differences in it.

Alrik… Look, I will admit, you have been through a lot more than me, you are clearly more experienced and in a way you are truly superior yet I am not as lesser as you think. You may be physically strong, but beneath that mask you are weak as a babe beset upon by wolves. You are confused, and you are full of hate and those things make you think harshly and unforgivably of others. You look at us, the new blood claws from a position above, maybe rightfully yet your ignorance blinds you of who we really are, its true Krahl acted foolishly but you can’t go threatening a pack members life just because he made a mistake, you yourself said that you have been called as an oathbreaker, you know how it feels to be an outcast, shunned and hated, why would you put others in the same position?

Frostulfr sighed, he hoped some of his words will go through to Alrik, and he hopefully would understand where he was wrong yet at the same time a part at Frostulfr’s mind told him that he was just being naïve. “I know that I may mean nothing to you Alrik, but even though I mean nothing to you, you mean a lot to me, we are of the same pack, which makes us brothers whether you like it or not, and brothers don’t go off killing each others, not even in planned mistakes… Alrik, you must confess to yourself if not to others, admit your actions were foolish, not just those, but the future ones you will make, admit that you might have acted with ignorance in the past, I am sure that even Krahl will forgive you, and maybe in time Keris will forgive you as well if he did not forgive you by now.

Taking a risk Frostulfr laid a hand on Alrik’s shoulder, it was nothing more than a slight tap, it was not aggressive, he just wanted to make Alrik understand that he really cared for him as he did for everyone else in the pack, they were his new family, each of them special in his own way. “Alrik, please… Just let it go, in time you may find us to your liking even if you doubt that… Remove those thoughts of sadness and darkness from your mind and focus on the present, what’s done is dead and you may not change the past, focus on changing the present instead.” As he finished speaking he stayed silent, he was afraid that he might have confused himself in his words and did not make sense.

OOC: Sorry if its a little incoherent I just had to make it with several stops in th middle which cut off my thinking flow :p Just PM me with a question if you want or post it in the Rec thread.
 

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(ooc- This post is done with the ok of both Darkreever and Serpion5)

There was no warning as Keris surged to his feet in a blur of silver-grey rage; the haft of his spear sweeping around to catch Krahl behind the knees, sending the Blood Claw sprawling to the frozen ground. Surprise etched the younger Wolf’s features as he made to spring upright only to be pinned in place as the blunt end of Keris’ spear came crushing down upon his exposed throat. A liquid deep snarl of warning halted further struggles as Keris loomed closer, fangs gleaming in the firelight and eyes as cold as the heart of a glacier,

'Listen well, you mongrel pup, listen well all of you! I will personally drag your worthless arse back to the Fang, stripped and bound like a cur, to explain to Lord Blackmane why your personal glory is more important than the lives of your packbrothers… ‘

Keris’ throaty tones were made all the harsher by the undulating growl that rose and fell in echo to his breathing. His crest of night-black hair bristled like the hackles of a Thunderwolf,

‘There is no place in service to the Allfather or in the Halls of Russ for oathbreakers; nor for a warrior who would seek to place blame upon a brother for his own actions. There is no excuse for such cowardice; bear your choices and failings as a man, not a wet-spined yearling.’

Ice-blue eyes moved from face to face amid the new blood of the pack as Keris continued, his gaze piercing with intensity,

‘There is no room for doubt when steel is drawn and battle joined; a warrior who cannot be trusted to stand and fight at his brother’s side without question does the work of the great Enemy for him and will find himself facing the judgment of the Wolf Priests. Our task remains to be done; mark no day until the next dawn, no ice until crossed, and no foe until his lifeblood stains your blade.’

After a long moment of weighted silence Keris released the pressure on the haft of his spear,

‘Your packleader summoned you for a purpose, Blood Claw Krahl, you will heed his words and show him respect or I will tear out your tongue for your insolence.’

With that, Keris turned and stalked back to where the Ghostwolf sat before dropping back into a kneeling crouch and laying his spear back upon the stone at his side. The fire crackled and popped for a full minute before he spoke again, voice low for his wolfbrother and eyes watching the cobalt shadows,

‘Vermundr made a choice; sacrificing his own honour for the unclouded focus of a single packbrother, for you, Ghostwolf. Can you say what you would or would not have done, brother? Can you see down the un-trodden paths of the wyrd?’

Keris shook his head, the torq around his neck shifting with the movement and his breath coiling like crystal smoke as he sighed. Twenty seven bones, each carrying a rune Keris had carved in the long voyage back to Fenris, were set around its circumference. Bones from the hand he had severed in the duel with the Serpent.

‘The mantle of leadership is a heavy burden; there are times when a decision has no truly right nor trouble-free answer, but still a choice has to be made. It is because Vermundr was willing to make that choice, to cast the spear of his honour knowing he could never call it back, that Lord Blackmane saw the truth of his focus.’
 

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As Krahl came into position, Alrik stood and moved away, Frostwulfr quickly following him. Tyr moved away from them as well, off to stand beside Heimdall. Despite their own conversations, they would all hear Keris's words along with the blood claws remaining around the fire pit.

As Keris was retuning to take his seat once more, Vermundr stood and moved to Krahl's form still laying upon the ground holding his throat. He heard Keris begin to whisper to Iorek, but what was said he did not hear. he loomed over Krahl, not yet letting him stand back to his feet.

"If I have something to say to you, it is likely the pack has something to say to you, not just myself. And if words aren't what you want, physical punishment is what you shall receive as you have just now partaken."

Vermundr leaned his rugged face in closer, his brown eyes narrowed and his brown haired braids swung low.

"Your words to me express the exact same problem within you that caused you to push Alrik in the first place: impatience. You were in a hurry to kill the beast for yourself, you were in a hurry to point fingers, and you were in a hurry to disregard whatever it was I had to say. What if I was intending to congratulate you in your achievements?"

"You say Alrik was the first to disrespect you. Bah! He only spoke to you in such a manner because of your disrespect to him! Even if you had cast him aside to save his life and happened to be able to make the killing strike in the process, you would have owed him an apology or explanation. How were you supposed to know the grumpy one had a plan? Because he's a space wolf! An astartes! On top of that, he is more experienced in the field of battle than you, for you are none at all."

"Some speech on brotherhood and duty. Do not mock me. You have no idea the weight that those two words hold. When the blood of your brothers splashes upon your face in the heat of battle, and bullets continue to rain down upon your position, and it up to you and you alone to stand up out of cover and face the enemies that will not hesitate for a second to kill you and everything you stand for and are oathbound to protect, then perhaps you will know the weight of the words brotherhood and duty"

"All I was going to say to you before you opened your big mouth was advise against trying to start a long lasting conflict with Alrik. Trust me, he will outlast your efforts in that regard. There is no wolf that I know in Lord Blackmane's great company that is more stubborn and strong willed than Alrik the Firehawk."

Vermundr lent out one of his large hands, and pulled Krahl back to his feet, "Verbal apologies wont work with him now, I'm sure. To gain his trust again, it will have to be in the fires of battle, through actions alone."

He turned his head away from Krahl, making it clear he was done speaking with him, and stepped forward closer to the fire speaking to everyone now, calling them back in towards the circle a bit if they were far off,

"My pack-brothers, listen well. Before starting this hunt, our Lord warned of a potential threat. Not everyone in our Great Company looks upon our pack with smiles, it seems. During these final hours traveling back to the Fang, it is likely someone may try to steal our glory, the glory of our pack." He turned his head again to Krahl when he said this as well as pointing to the giant Ursid's pelt still by the rock.

"The beast was able to withstand our hunting for two months. We shall see if our pack of thirteen can withstand being hunted for a mere twenty-four hours. A storm is approaching (darkreever's info to me) and I suspect if anyone is going to try something it will be during the harshness of the blinding weather. It could be one, or it could be a group of many, I have no answer for that. Do not consider us lucky if it is none at all, instead consider us lucky if someone tries to attack or steal from us and we catch them in the act, defending ourselves and showing our superiority. "

"Once we leave this small campsite, there is to be no verbal communication beyond what is necessary to return to the Fang victorious with our our Razor-Ursid's pelt. Everyone is to keep their senses sharp as we travel, eyes ears and noses alert at all times. We shall begin moving again shortly."

He turned and returned to the rock with Iorek and Keris. He gave a deep breath and turned to face them both, "Sometimes I feel we believe ourselves to be Grey Hunters already. Why do we act so? We tell the newcomers act as our older brethren often do, and yet, our company brothers rely on us as Blood Claws to run in headstrong against the odds. Granted, some entire packs of Blood Claws with our company seem to be nothing but a bunch of Krahls, and seeing as we appear to be in our Lord's favor I suppose we must be doing something right."

He gave a short breathed laugh, "Forgive my musings".
 

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Heimdall stared away from the fire as he took a lookout position instead of the rest of the pack, who seemed to be content enough to fight with each other and argue with each other. Obviously the old guard thought themselves above their brothers with their experience. Heimdall was glad to be in their squad, there was no doubt about that. But at the same time they were all just Blood Claws, the older marines may have far more experience than the rest of the pack brothers but they were still just Blood Claws. Heimdall knew that Alrik was fuming about what had happened, and Heimdall did agree with how Alrik felt. But to say that he would kill a brother? That was wrong and he would was lucky a ranked brother hadn't heard him.

Tyr moved behind him and asked what he heard, saw, smelt. Tyr was much more accessible then his other brothers, he seemed to be the kind of brother that you could rely on in a battle. Heimdall nodded at his brother as he moved next to him. "Brother Tyr, I enjoyed your war stories, it is a shame about the sacrifices that had to be made." Heimdall said as he stared into the snow. "I can smell a small pack of wolves, heading away from us upwind, but apart from that nothing. How about you brother? I have heard tale of your senses."

He listened as the pack leader spoke, trying to defuse the situation that was obviously spiraling way out of control. The pack leader spoke of other trying to stop them and this made Heimdall wonder. If there was a threat to the pack as a whole, or even one of the members then why weren't they told in the first place when the threat was spoken to the older members. Heimdall kept quiet however, he wished not to try the bonds of brotherhood even further at the moment. "How do we know they haven't already made their move while we have been hunting? They could have tried some greater feat or such?" He spoke quietly to Tyr, he knew his brother would provide a calm and reasoned answer that others wouldn't.
 

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Alrik’s crunching footfalls were accompanied by a gentler, wary padding. The scent was pungent, of hotheadedness and unfortunate stubbornness, of misplaced judgment and clinging beneath that, the acrid stench of perspiration and the musky tang of furs.

‘Frostulfr,’ He growled, his voice laden with animalistic irritancy, a low, sub-vocal whisper. ‘Persistent mongrel..’

The Firehawk was courteous, if anything. He allowed the younger Astarte to finish his poetic, downgrading discourse, his reddened lips peeling back over razor-edged teeth, his hands bunching into powerful fists. When Frostulfr was done, no longer having words of brash wisdom, Alrik’s hellish countenance flushed with vibrancy and cruel urges.

He surged into action - Clenching Frostulfr’s wrist, twisting until he felt bones grind against one another, but not break. The flat of his palm shot upwards between them, pummeling into the other Wolf’s chin, snapping his head back.

‘Idiot,’ Alrik sneered, bringing his knee up and in, clapping organically against Frostulfr’s side. ‘Not so wise, after all.’

He balled his hand, and struck Frostulfr’s unprotected gut. Once, twice, five times. His attack was unrelenting, brutal, ungracefully beautiful - Filled with raw, undulated, contempt and rage.

‘I humiliate and discriminate for one reason,’ He spat, striking Frostulfr’s cheek with a tremendous backhand. ‘One reason - I enjoy it.’

Alrik’s hand came from Frostulfr’s wrist, and with it, he pawed at the Wolf’s ribs. In a show of inhuman dexterity, he twisted on the ball of one foot, and rammed his elbow into a muscular torso. Frostulfr stumbled backwards, his breath escaping in shallow, pained gasps. Alrik launched forwards, barreling Frostulfr to the ground; following closely with a thud.

His fingers were sinuous serpents, dancing around the other Marine’s throat, snapping shut. Bruises bloomed across the warrior’s body, vivid purple against pale, frost-coated skin.

‘You should have left me be, whelp,’ Alrik grumbled, pushing downwards. Frostulfr’s head impacted bodily with the ground. ‘I beg for no forgiveness from Krahl, nor do I want any such thing,’ He threw back his head and let out a harsh, mocking laugh. ‘Perhaps I will bless you with a gift for your insubordination..’

He unfurled his fingers, standing unsteadily, rocking back and forth for a moment. He regained his composure, a wafer-thin smile of malice and enjoyment, slowly seeping across his face. Surreptitiously, Alrik licked his lips and pulled his pelts tighter about him, staring down at the blackened-and-blued Marine beneath.

Once again, Alrik rained blows into his brother, who lay, sprawled, jerking under each impact. Alrik was seething with anger, bellowing Fenrisian curses and incoherent, illiterately so, insults. After a scarce several seconds, he staggered from Frostulfr, snorting echoingly. His eyes danced from face-to-face, but his smile did not move.

His eyes went to the prone form of Frostulfr. A thin line of claret seeped from a gash in his cheek, where knuckles had scathed flesh. ‘Lecture me again, Frostulfr, and your tongue will hang from my belt,’ His voice was trembling with anger. ‘Lay hand upon me, and that will be the last time you can do so.’

His attentions went from Frostulfr to Keris. His smile dissipated, and then returned. Front teeth having attained a ruddy pink, highlighted against the white behind. Once again, he tugged at his furs, sniffing at the stiffened prongs of hair.

‘I spilt only a little, brother. I am sure that Lord Blackmane will not care.’

His laughter, an heavily accented, mirthless sound, ebbed across the ridge, weaving down into the vales and gorges.

The laughter halted abruptly, and his features became dour, all warmth and mockery fading away. His eyes locked with that of Iorek and those of Vermundr, and he bade them both a subservient, semi-respectful nod.

He hawked between his feet.

‘They are not ready, Packleader, these are not warriors. Lambs amongst the Wolves, children in the hides of men.'
 

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Keris gave a solemn nod as Vermundr returned to the rock; his brother had grown in his role as packleader and Keris favoured him with an unguarded smile, a smile that faded like a man pitched from a dragonboat into the icy fangs of the tempest churned worldsea.

Keris slowly rose to his full height, the haft of his spear creaking under a white knuckled grip. His features were a cold mask of disapproval, anger bleeding of him in palatable waves like thunder from an imminent storm. The wolf in his soul was utterly still, its teeth bared in a soundless outpouring of fury.

Like their home world of Fenris, the outlook of the Wolves was one of harsh lessons of survival and principle. A boy-child, still wet from his birth, who did not grasp at the haft of an axe was cast aside. A youngling who did not learn to respect and read the unconstrained humours of his home would find his lifeblood frozen in the howling winds of a storm, coursing down the gullet of a fearsome beast, or staining the snow red as the land thirst brought forth the murder-make. Keris’ stern and forceful warnings moments before had been driven by a deeply rooted devotion to each and every one of his wolfbrothers, their lives tied together by the blood of Russ that flowed through their veins. No action taken without cause, no censure without purpose. A lesson enforced with the sharp clarity of pain and submission, not unwarranted brutality.

You go too far, Firehawk.’

Keris’ words held the same warmth as the tempest winds of Helwinter and his stride took him past Alrik to stand between the larger Wolf and the beaten Blood Claw,

‘Get on your feet, Frostulfr.’

Keris did not move to aid his packbrother beyond his words; he would not dishonour the younger Wolf by such an action, his unflinching gaze never wavering from the scarred features of the Firehawk in open challenge.
 

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Alrik; You finally turn your gaze away from Vermundr and Iorek and look down to Frostulfr, if anything to pull him back to his feet. What you see when you look down though, it robs your limbs of strength and halts you in your place. Frostulfr stares up at you, his eyes missing and face contorted in a rictis mask of pain and suffering. The flaying knife you had been gifted lays buried in his throat, having carved apart the geneseed within. Your eyes fall to your hands, stained with your brothers blood, but the hands are not your own. Through the dark blood, you can see the deep purple of ceramite gauntlets chased in a sickly green, an unintelligible declaration calling out in the distance.

Within a single blink it is gone, your hands are your own and Frostulfr is alive. Keris stands between you and him, whatever words he had said lost to your ears after that sight. Was that a vision of things or maybe some sort of hallucination? You turn away from Keris and Frostulfr, your mind awash with that troubling sight.

[What was that? You had wanted to beat some sense into Frostulfr in your own way, but it would never have gone that far, would it?]


Keris; As your eyes bore into Alrik, he finally turns away from Vermundr and Iorek to stare at Frostulfr. Something is odd though, for the briefest moment the Firehawks eyes were glazed over. But then they were normal once more, his expression though, it flashed from worry and confusion and then back to a sneer to hide what truly lay hidden within.

[You know Alrik to be many things, blunt to friends the least of them, but that had been different. And what of his eyes? What was that?]


Tyr; You stare out into the distance, eyes making out features in the partial moonlight of the night. On the air you also catch the scents of wolves, and can make out a distinction of three creatures. Of the three, one is far older, likely near its end whereas the other two are much younger and knowing of the elder’s time coming soon. You hear Keris’s words to Krahl and everyone else, all but feeling him take the younger packmate down to the ground and cannot help but recall how Sigurd had actually done much the same to Alrik.


All; It is finally time, time to leave this fire and return to the Fang, return to your home. Gathering your things, the last of the meat is taken and the fire doused. A look beyond the edge of the continent shows a great storm, likely to come here in a few hours time. Casting one last look to the land ahead of you, you set off to return the ursid pelt to the Fang.

Making your way down from the flat outcropping at the edge of Asaheim proves no challenge, and crossing the valley at its base little more than a race. It is not long before the storm makes way to the continent, smashing into the land with cold, sleet-like rain and howling winds. For you, it was good fortune to have crossed the valley when you did, for in minutes it became bogged down by the storm waters. As you trudge onward, you cannot help but feel as if there are eyes on you; but try as you might, you cannot find anything through this storm and the winds throw scents about like ships on the sea.

Three hours of moving, of taking care to traverse the land and get that much closer to your goal. You come upon a narrow path of stone overlooking a great drop, the rain has made the path, barely wide enough for one of you to traverse, less than appealing to cross but there is no other way.


Keris, Alrik, Njord, and Yngvar; You opt to be the first group to cross the pathway, for though it is barely wide enough for one of you to walk on, it does appear sturdy enough to take the weight of several of you. Through the sleet, Yngvar finds himself staring at a figure on the other side of the path, and a look to Keris indicates that he had seen the figure as well. Had that not been the case, you might have just taken the image as a play of the winds, for one moment you saw someone and the next it was gone, but you were not the only one.

[Keris and Yngvar; was that a man you saw or just a play of shadows in this storm? And if it was a man, what was he doing and where did he go? Better yet, how long had he been there, was he the one following you?]


Tyr, Hrothgar, Frostulfr, and Iorek; Once Keris, Njord, Alrik, and Yngvar make way to the other side of the path you go next, crossing without a word. Despite your care, Hrothgar slips mid-way along and nearly plummets to a likely death on the jagged rocks below. The quick reflexes of Iorek and Frostulfr save Hrothgar, but the storm nearly takes all three if not for the larger form of Tyr keeping Frostulfr steady.

[That was more certainly a close one now wasn't it? Good thing you have such a big brother to make sure your ass doesn't do a swan dive into some stone.]


Vermundr, Krahl, Kjaratan, Heimdall, Azahd; When Tyr, Hrothgar, Frostulfr, and Iorek are nearly across the narrow pathway, you prepare to follow suit and be about your way when a howl picks up over the winds. You turn and see a number of lumbering figures walking through the rain, behind where you had come from. There are seven of them, seven ape-trolls native to the continent but rarely seen outside of the winter seasons. Each one is three meters tall, bedecked in gray and white patches of fur, with great gleaming claws of a double row of jagged fangs. With another roar, this one from the other side of the chasm now behind you, the trolls charge at you.

[These things are tough, and unlike you the storm appears to not phase them at all. You do not have much room to fall back on, but being who you are that matters very little. Vermundr, unlike the others you have your axe with you to wield alongside your knife, meeting two of the trolls head on in its charge. Krahl and Heimdall, before you have much of a chance to react a troll is on top of each of you. Krahl manages to dodge a swipe, but Heimdall is not so fortunate and a trio of slashes bite deep into the furs, grazing his side. Kjaratan favours better, able to plunge his spear into the chest of a charging troll, but that does not stop it and it crashes into you, sending both warrior and creature sliding towards the cliff-side. Azahd faces off against a pair of trolls, sidestepping and smashing the back of ones head as its weight keeps it going forward, hopefully over the cliff.]


Keris, Alrik, Njord, Yngvar, Tyr, Hrothgar, Frostulfr, and Iorek; You do not hear the roar from the opposite end of the chasm, but a flash of lightning does illuminate six ape-trolls blocking your path forward. One of them, a meter taller than the rest and with great scars across its chest and face, looks on at the lot of you with a hint of intelligence in its eyes. It bellows out what, were it a man, would be little more than a warcry and the five alongside it run at you before three more jump up from the cliff side.

[Alrik, that massive troll, likely the leader of these things, stalks forward to you and you alone. Maybe it can feel what happened before, maybe not, who knows with a creature like this; have fun. Tyr, Iorek, and Njord, you are closest to the edge of the cliff when the three hidden trolls leap up. Tyr is the least caught unawares, planting his metal fist into a trolls face before it can do much. Hrothgar, Yngvar, and Frostulfr, you meet three of the trolls charging towards you with spear and knife. Frostulfr, one troll lunges towards you, and before you can react a sharp pain in your side robs you of strength, the world blurring in that instant. Before you know it, the troll is on you and its taking all your strength to keep those fangs from sinking into your neck. Keris, you watch the troll jump on Frostulfr, but before you can help your packmate two such creatures come at you and force your attention.]


[Alright, as I mentioned before these things are tough. Do not expect to be able to kill them in a single post; maybe two so expect to be seeing something from me. Obviously, its probably gonna be a bit more for those of you who are fighting more than one, or are Alrik, but you never know.]
 

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Krahl

Krahl lay in silence for a few moments, letting the weight of what Vermundr had said sink in. He had wanted to strike Keris back for his cheap shot, but he was not so foolish as to think he could best a veteran of a prior campaign under these circumstances. For the time being, he accepted humility...

When the group began to stir, Krahl accepted Vermundr`s hand and rose to his feet with the older wolf`s aid. The pack leader then gave a warning, a grim reminder that their pack was not without rivalries and that their could be opposition on their return to the fang, or yet before...

--- --- ---​

It had not taken a great while before the approaching storm had finally caught up to them. Krahl thought of the valley they had crossed not long ago, and how horrifying it would have been to try and cross it in this. He could see the sillhouettes of his packmates against the blinding snow, but distinguishing them was guesswork at best, for the wind made sound and smell as unreliable as his hampered vision. Three hours had passed since they had started to move, and so far it seemed as though they were following a faded trail. He couldn`t see anything that would count as a landmark, and there was no hope of telling direction from the stars.

So far though, everyone seemed to have the same instinct, and Krahl had no reason to doubt his pack`s sense of direction any more than he would doubt his own.

At last they reached something that had more detail to it than the colour white. A sheer drop was in front of them, with the only way across being a small rocky path.

'So...' Krahl grinned. 'Who`s first?'


- - -
 

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It was unexpected, surprising even. He moved quick striking Frostulfr who did not expect such an attack from Alrik. Blood, its metallic taste filled his mouth as it gushed from a wound in his cheek. Alrik, he stood above him, bellowing, shouting, raging, explaining how he enjoys humiliating and discriminating.

Pathetic lies, Frostulfr knew that he hit the right spot; he knew that he pressed right where it hurts the most. He said that Frostulfr should have left him; he threatened him not to lecture him again. Empty threats, nothing that a sane man would manage to back up, Alrik knew better than that and Frostulfr knew that Alrik will not be able to harm him like that. The chapter’s code of honor forbade it and no one was stupid enough to ignore the code of honor.

Alrik moved away, laughing. His laugh sounded unreal, fake. The man was not truly happy with his action at least that’s what it seemed to Frostulfr. He knew that this made end like that; Alrik was the type who showed their strength physically.

Suddenly Keris was in between Arlik and Frostulfr, his presence calmed Alrik down, and now Frostulfr knew why and that strengthened his will and resolve. The sage commanded him to get on his feet.

The pain was not terrible, he had worse and thus he slowly stood up, stretching out his body and trying to see if any severe damage was caused.

Nothing of note… Several bruises and a wounded cheek.

Frostulfr spat, a red stain now decorated the white snow which began to disperse as the chemicals in Frostulfr’s spit began to work. He stood up pushing himself from the ground with his hands. As he stood he look at Alrik, a crooked smile spread across his face and started laughing uncontrollably, muttering in between laughs, “Alrik, you are even more pathetic than what I first imagined.” He could not stop laughing from Alrik’s reaction to his words it was unexplainably funny to Frostulfr.

He calmed down and moved towards his spear which lay on the snowy ground by the fire. They all began to move, Vermundr’s orders were clear, they had to get the pelt safely to the Fang as someone was after that same pelt which they earned by hunting the damn Ursid for two months.

The fire was doused quickly, the rest of the meat gathered and belongings taken. They left only the smoke of the fire behind, nothing else as they began to move towards the Fang. A storm was following them and they had to move out quickly, no one wanted to be caught out in the open when a storm hits and by the look of it the storm was moving quickly and will probably reach them within several hours which gave them barely any time at all.

They all quickly moved, making their way out of the valley quickly successfully escaping the storm behind them. The storm arrived, howling winds, pouring rain, it all made moving forward more difficult. The land in front of them was virtually invisible due to the storm and in this hard time he felt something awaken inside of him, his senses sharpened, his heartbeat quickened. He was no longer blind, he just could not see… He smelled it all, like a second sight it was… Magnificent.

He knew that something was watching. something or someone was following them, the thing’s gaze always on them as they moved on. He ignored those feelings as he could do nothing about the fact that they were being followed.

The storm grew fiercer yet they were closer to their goal now, the Fang was within reach, just a few hours away and they will be back at the warm Fang, indulging themselves on good ale and food…

Yet now a new obstacle blocked their way. A narrow path, barely traversable by man or beast, a long drop down awaited those who slip which made the path less than welcoming but they had no other choice, the narrow path was the shortest and right now the only way to reach the Fang thus they had to cross it.

They split to three groups, his group consisting from Tyr, Hrothgar and Iorek. The other members of the pack split to another two groups. Keris, Alrik, Njord and Yngvar passed the narrow path first, reaching the other side quickly. It was the turn of the second group to pass, Frostulfr’s group. They moved on but suddenly something went wrong and despite the carefulness and care they took Hrothgar managed to slip and nearly fell to his death.

Frostulfr leapt from his place, grabbing Hrothgar’s hand, he saw Iorek on the other side, taking the other hand as they began to pull Hrothgar back from a likely death yet Frostulfr’s stance was not good and he began to sleep threatening to drag Iorek and Horthgar with him but a firm hand grabbed his shoulder and straightened him up, helping him stand firm and steady. Looking back Frostulfr saw Tyr’s large and imposing figure behind him, he smiled and nodded a thank you as they finally pulled Horthgar back up. This was a close call and nearly ended tragically yet they survived and now moved on to the other side.

A flash of lightning, a new scent hit his nostrils, vile, disgusting. Frostulfr looked as the lightning illuminated six new figures, ape like hairy creatures. Trolls. They were blocking their way forward “Was it the threat that Vermundr talked about?” Frostulfr wondered yet he quickly dispersed those thoughts as redicolous there must be something else awaiting them if they defeat the beasts.

Suddenly one of the beasts let out a rage filled roar, something which resembled a warcry. Not a moment later the trolls which accompanied him charged forward, five in number, as the “leader” marched towards Alrik. Three shadows passed by his line of sight, more trolls… They stayed hidden until now, it was an ambush!

Frostulfr heard himself snarl in hatred and rage as they were faced with this new obstacle. As his heartbeat quickened its pace he could feel his senses sharpen even more, his bestial side slowly taking control over his instincts and thoughts. His only goal now was to eliminate the threat.

The trolls charged at them, he stood steady and firm with Hrothgar and Yngbar. He bared his fangs at the incoming trolls. Pulling out the spear from his back he was about to counter charge the trolls yet one of them lunged, a sharp pain filled him, his vision blurred and quickly refocused as the rage forced him to fight on. The next thing he knew was him on the ground with a troll on top of him. The creature’s breath was vile; the smell of rot and death plagued it.

Frostulfr felt his strength seeping away as he tried keeping the trolls fangs at bay, his hands pushing the face of the beast away from his neck. He felt like his muscles were about to explode, his face turned red from exhaustion. The beast was extremely strong and stubborn. He felt as he was consumed by hatred and rage as a beast was unleashed inside of him. He snarled again and spat at the troll’s face, the acidic spit spread across the beasts face as it howled in pain and rage. His feral instincts guided him, he quickly let loose of the trolls face and kicked it away with both legs while it was blinded. Frostulfr rolled away and stood up, his instincts were sharp now and he saw his brothers fighting, each of them had their own enemies. He refocused on the troll in front of him which seemed to begin calming down and refocusing on Frostulfr. Roaring in rage the beast inside of him told him to charge and so he did, listening faithfully to the wolf inside of him as he charged at the troll and leapt towards it with a knife in hand hoping to carve the face of the beast out.

OOC: If it seemed like I god modded a bit throw me a Pm and I will quickly change it.
 

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The snow was probably the best of the enviroment around him as he moved on, slogging just outside of the valley as the first storm-waters began to cascade from the skies in a great booming roar. His eyes were constantly clogged, the water clinging to his pupils and freezing momentarily, just long enough for him to blink the frost away, clearing his vision. The wind was scathing and brutal and he rejoiced in the pain it lent to him. He'd perferred the heat, and everyone in the pack knew it. Not the heat of a warm campfire, not the stale heat that radiated within the Fang -- to desire that kind of heat was demeaning to one of the Rout. He'd perferred anything the exact opposite of Fenris' climate. His Astartes gene-forged biology coped with it in almost every way making even the harshest Fenrisian winters livable for him, if he kept on his toes. Physically he was capable and willing to endure the cold, snow, and wind, but mentally he'd rather be on some desert world fighting in the baking sands than upon Fenris in the snow.

He'd never understood why and his talks with the Chapter's rune preists could only offer one possible conclusion ... his past. They'd found him buried in a mound of bodies clinging to life as the cold slowly froze one corpse at a time. Had the Rout not found him when they did, he'd probably have died upon the icy tundra of Fenris. No matter how much psycho-indoctrination they hammered into an Astartes there were some things imbredded within them, some feelings and emotions that simply couldn't be rooted out. He hated the damn, fucking cold and he would not be ashamed of it.

Left his mind screamed out at him. His eyes and skull jerked around to his left, staring into the blindness of the Fenrisian storm. Nothing was there. He gazed for a few more moments, not halting or slowing his pace one bit, but nevertheless his eyes scanned the pack's left flank. His instincts had been in an uproar for the last two hours, he could feel eyes staring at them from almost every angle. He'd tried to put it aside as nothing more than anxiety on his part as he wished to reach the Fang with their prize. That excuse lasted for about as long as it took to create it. Still, if there was a threat out there he had no doubt that they could handle it. There could be no true foes upon Fenris, nothing that a pack of the Rout Fenryka couldn't kill.

He could feel that the others had felt the eyes as well, most might have tried sniffing for a scent but it would be futile -- the storm would mask it. His anxiety was reaching a high as he swore he saw something in the snow, a looming shape that seemed to just fizzle into nothingness. He did what he always did in these situtations ... he opened his mouth.

He chuckled at first, 'Brothers ... ever get the feeling you're being watched?'

He waited for no replies, the storm would likely drown them out. Hell he wasn't even sure they could hear him, 'Maybe its your mothers? I've told them all to stay at the damn hut, but they don't listen. Stubborn wenches just like the rest of you.'

Acidic he knew, and likely to recieve a reprimand for it. He mentally shrugged, promotion was the furtherest thing from his mind -- solid warcraft and bloodshed were his only thoughts. Anything beyond that was merely unnessecary politiking, something he wished to have no part in.
 

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Yngvar

As the spectacle was made Yngvar sat with his stones in hand. The Claw was divided, and it appeared that nothing would end that this day.The blood claws begin to stir as the order was given. The fire was doused as Yngvar slipped the stones back into a pouch. There was one left that he wished to make, but it would take time he did not have now.


The storm caught the Claw as the last climbed from a valley. As they began to trudge on Yngvar glanced back. Through the falling rain and ice he could see water moving below. Within minuets the valley would be filled with a rushing river fueled by the storm overhead. The thought sent a shiver up the young blood claw’s spine. He turned back to their original course and began the long march. Yngvar pulled the furs close trying to keep at least some of the wind and rain from chilling him.

Memory was what drove Yngvar forward. Seconds before vision had been lost he had found the Fang. Since then he had moved forward with the others keeping the wind to the same side. For three hours he had walked in silence. It was not only because of the orders from Vermundr but because of the storm itself. The howling wind and beating rain/sleet made it almost impossible to communicate. The entire time something pressed at the back of Yngvar’s mind. He would glance around from time to time. Each time he expected to see something, someone he did not know. Each time he only found the familiar shapes of his packmates. It felt like they were being watched, being tracked from just beyond the edge of the young Space Wolf’s vision. The feelings made Yngvar pull his furs tighter, even though it did little at this point he had been soaked from head to toe for over an hour now.

Yngvar halted as others did. Ahead was a sudden change. Instead of the stone and ice there was sheer darkness, a strait drop. Below there would be icy water gushing much like the valley they had crossed and a certain death. A small smile came to his lips. “It never can be easy,” he whispered looking over the drop. The view betrayed no depth, and barely betrayed the width.

So... Krahl grinnedas he stood before the only crossing point, Who`s first? "I will go," Yngrar replied over the wind and sleet. The young pack mate hid how much he wished to be out of this storm and away from the feelings of being watched. Others began to step forward forming the first to go across the chasm.

The first group to cross were Keris, Alrik, Hjord, and Yngvar himself. The young Blood Claw moved first. He stayed hunched low, nearly walking on all four to keep the wind from effecting his balance and progress. Constant glances to the path would warn of ice that could hinder or send the four to their doom.

The young blood claw moved first. He was hunched low nearly on all four to keep the wind from effecting his progress. Constant glances to the ground would warn of any ice on the path as the four made their way.

It was close to the other side that Yngvar glanced up. There against the far side stood a figure. There was nothing about this phantom that he could tell. There was only shadow covering the form. The young Blood Claw halted as he watched. Behind him the others had gotten closer. A voice spoke from behind which made Yngvar glance. The face he saw was that of Keris. When his eyes returned to the other side there was nothing, as though the phantom had never existed, but there was something in the pack mates' eyes that told him it had been real. When they reached the far side Yngvar knelt down where the phantom had existed. If there was sign it appeared that the rain and ice had concealed or removed it. He turned to Keris. "You saw it didn't you," the younger Blood Claw asked, "It wasn't just some play of light and shadow. You saw that phantom, that man did you not?" His senses were sharp as he scanned the surroundings. Listening for the reply.
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In the future, please only use the standard text size and font, and make sure that more than half of your post is in the regular colour. - darkreever
 

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Tyr smelled the air while attempting to make out shapes in the distance. He could smell them clear as day, the shadows that their forms played against the moonlight becoming a bit clearer now that he could smell them. He could smell the wolves and clearly pick out three creatures, one was ancient his scent filled with wisdom and experience yet it was clearly close to dying, the two young ones with it aware of this fact.

He smelled the different scents of his brothers too, each one of his older brothers had a distinct smell to them now while the newer claws still all smelled like eagerness and barely contained energy. A smile crept across his face, they were all not so far from that stage of their careers, after all they were all still Blood Claws even if Lord Blackmane did fancy using them as a younger guard sometimes.

Movement behind him made him turn to see his brothers packing everything up to begin moving out. He had to admit he was giddy now that they were on the move again, he hated staying put and not doing anything, yet they were moving now and according to Vermundr there was still yet one test that awaited them before they got back to the Fang.

-------------------

The blizzard around them was bad, he could barely see in front of him and the wind was playing with his nose and ears and to make things worse they now had to cross over a short pathway over a gaping chasm. This was one of those times he was thankful for his weight, the wind was not strong enough to shake him from his footing and once the first group was almost across he, Iorek, Hrothgar and Frostulfr made their way onto the pathway.

Tyr brought up the rear of the group he was with and saw Hrothgar lose his footing in slow motion, his hearts stopped as he saw his brother begin to fall over of the edge but Iorek and Frostulfr were there stopping him from falling. Tyr quickly made his way over to them as they all began to slip, his two hands grabbing the shoulders of Iorek and Frostulfr and pulling them back to safety along with Hrothgar. He nodded at the three of them to continue moving and they did, finally making it across the pathway yet as they did a flash of lightning illuminated six ape-trolls blocking their path forward.

Tyr grinned in anticipation, he loved to fight and this was most certainly going to be a good one. The leader of the trolls let out what sounded like a battlecry and the other five charged them, he saw movement to his left off the cliff side and spun around in time to plant his metal fist into the face of one of the trolls coming up over the cliff side. The troll stumbled back as it cried out in pain, Tyr's fist flying into its face again as quickly as the other one had before grabbing his spear from his back and getting into a fighting stance.
 

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It hurt it always hurt, Hrothgar stared up at the sky from his back after receiving a punch to the face from his pack brother Frostulfr. Slowly pushing himself to his feet he scanned the surronding area with his steel-blue eyes in search of the back brother that hit him, seeing Frostulfr wasn't to far away Hrothgar started to make his way closer getting ready to pounce on him before his pack mate raised a hand to stop. Stopping in his tracks his ears only just started to pick up the arguement going on between his other pack brothers about what Krahl had done earlier, when he had pushed Alrik out of the way of the Ursid and into the way of its claws. To Hrothgar such a thing was uncalled for as while you may gain the glory of the kill you could also end up loosing your pack mate. Prefering to stay out of the fight Hrothgar made his way over to his original seat and takes his place again before he shifted his eyes back towards the fang and once again his thoughts returned to home as he allowed his fellow blood-claws to go about their arguement not noticing Alrik pounce on Frostulfr and injure him.

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It was time to leave as the pack was finishing gathering up what was left of the meat and dousing the fire. Pushing himself up Hrothgar looked around at his brothers before picking up his spear, Hrothgar then made his way over to Frostulfr and waited until the pack set off in the direction of the fang. For three hours they walked and for those three hours Hrothgar remained silent as he thought on what his first battle will be like. Would it be glorious and heroic? would it be brutal and would he loose many of his pack brothers? and more importantly would he himself survive it? All these thoughts swirled inside of Hrothgar's mind as he tried to picture what exactly it would be like to fight in his power armour for the first time in a true battle. Eventually though his trail of thoughts were intrupted as the pack came to a halt infront of a narrow stone path connecting two sides of a valley together and let out a small growl as he realized crossing such a path even when they weren't in a storm could be dangerous due to how small it was let alone with ferocious howling winds and rain battering them.

Hrothgar stood with Frostulr, Iorek and Tyr as he watched Keris, Alrik, Njord, and Yngvar cross over the narrow path way one infront of the other with no problem. After they had crossed the narrow path it was him and his three pack mates turn with Tyr at the front followed by Frostulfr, himself and then Iorek. Carefully making his way across the path he was only half way to the other side when he stood upon a small stone and lost his footing making him overbalance and tumble from the path. The world was moving vertically as he stared at the sky cursing to himself about dying in such a pathetic way, two mighty arms clamped around both of his wrists stopping him from falling. Looking down from the sky he could see that Frostulfr and Iorek had put their own lives indanger to save him and noticed that Frostulfr has almost joined him in falling it if had not been for Tyr. After being hauled back onto the bridge Hrothgar let out a sigh of relief before looking at his three brothers that had saved him. "Thank you brothers for saving me, i promise i will do my best to repay you all ten fold in the coming years." With that Hrothgar made his way to the otherside of the path while the rest of the group started to make there way over.


Hrothgar let out a throaty growl along with his inner wolf as he saw the six huge forms of trolls infront of him and his brothers and quickly drew his knife from its sheath at his waist. With several throating noises from the tallest troll the otehrs start to charge at them deciding to not let the troll built up momentum Hrothgar let out a howl to the wind and charged towards the one that was charging at him, raising his spear in his right hand Hrothgar put as much weight behind his spear as he could so he didn't over balance and aimed the tip of the spear towards the jaw of the troll to distract it so he could sweep in low and plant his knife into the creatures stomach.
 

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Krahl

As eager as he was to be out of the blizzard, Krahl was not so arrogant as to think he had any right to impede on the others` position to lead. Two groups had gone across so far, leaving Krahl and four others behind. Vermundr was among them, the pack leader ensuring that everyone would be accounted for. It looked at last like it was time for the last group to cross. Krahl began to approach when a bone chilling howl stopped him dead in his tracks.


'That was no wolf...' He muttered. The others had heard it too, spreading formation and looking into the blinding wall of snow. After a few moments he saw them, sillhouettes of towering figures, vaguely humanoid but at the same time very different. There were six of them, and Krahl could see they would never be able to make it across that narrow bridge until all of the creatures were slain. Vermundr had clearly seen this as well, and met the creature`s advance with his own charge.

Krahl would have followed suit, had not a target already begun to advance on him. It swiped a massive claw for his head, but Krahl was more nimble than the brute and managed to evade the swing. He focussed, trying to ignore the biting wind and swung the haft of his spear into the creature`s thigh. It impacted, and Krahl`s wrist jarred from the sudden shock. It was as though he had swung the weapon into an adamantium wall! With a growl the creature took another swing, and again Krahl managed to dive out of the way. Trying to put some distance between him and it was difficult, he could not go much further back without risk of falling off the cliff edge. He had to coax the creature into overcommitting and try to get behind it. He hoped it was as stupid as it looked.

Feinting twice, he jabbed the spear into its shoulders, inflicting only a shallow wound. It roared in fury and stepped forward, batting the speartip aside as Krahl aimed for another thrust. In a moment of blind desparation, Krahl threw a punch directly at its face, hitting it squarely in its left eye. It recoiled immediately, scratching at its bleeding face while the space wolf clutched his broken knuckles on the ground in front of it.

Recovering first, Krahl dove to the side and recovered his spear. It was on top of him almost instantly, but its hasty advance was its downfall as Krahl managed to spin on his back and impale the spear through the creature`s cratered eye socket. It was still and silent, but still standing. Had he killed it, or was it just stunned momentarily? In any case, the spear was stuck tight so if it had survived Krahl was now in a tough spot...


- - -​
 

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The silence was deafening. The howling winds had subsided, the distant crack-boom of thunder had become a gentle, ominous rumbling. Vermundr and Iorek watched him, with narrow, contemptuous eyes. Alrik’s own obsidian orbs wandered, flowing over the landscape and the dark, threatening silhouettes of his brethren. And then, they drifted onto Frostulfr. A sudden ache struck through him, weaving through his limbs, causing his mouth to slowly open.

The younger Wolf lay, staring upwards, through eyeless sockets, tears of blood running down the cheeks. His face was tight, contorted in agony, the lips peeled back in a soundless cry. The Cretacian blade, in all its blood-soaked glory, lay hilt-deep in a muscular throat, rich claret seeping outwards from the ragged gash. The Geneseed, the blessed genetic data of Russ Himself, was a mangled heap within.

Frustratingly, his fingers opened and closed. From the brutalized form of Frostulfr did his eyes move, slowly, methodically absorbing the sight before him. His hands were slick with blood, ropey viscera dangling from between gauntleted fingers. Purple, the colour of distant flowers, highlighted against green the colour of the ocean..

Acidic bile rose in his throat, an inhuman howl rising upon the horizon, drifting on the winds.

He blinked, flabbergasted at the sight before him, biting down on his lip again, cursing sub-vocally, and then -

- It was gone. The fire flickered, dancing across Keris’ muscular form, bathing him in gold-orange. He stood, stoic, shoulders wide, a snarl upon his lips, between the downed Frostulfr and Alrik. The corners of Alrik’s mouth twitched, forming a nervous, anxious smile. From there, it became an enraged snarl, his fangs bared, glimmering in the moon and firelight. He gave a snort, his breath misting and sparkling before his face, and marched away.

‘What was that?’ He asked himself, when out of earshot of his brethren. Somewhere, amongst the gorges and forests, a wolf howled its lament.

***

Vermundr gave the order to move, a throaty growl which echoed over the barren ridge. The fire was doused, the meat gathered and the pelt bundled. Alrik retook his spear, firm hands slipping around the long, oaken haft. In the month or so since he had crafted the weapon, shallow grooves had formed along the haft, perfect indentures for his fingers.

In his mind, the sight of a broken, murdered Frostulfr replayed. Had it been an hallucination, a side-effect of his bloodlust? Perhaps it was something else, did the Psykers of the Imperium not suffer similar visions, that drove them to madness and extermination at the hands of the Inquisition?

Feebly, he attempted to banish such thoughts. He was no Witch, his mind was not weak enough to conjure up false realities..

Again, the image flashed through his mind, coalescing before his eyes, before dissipating..

Now, the Pack were moving down the ragged rocks, rain slanting in amongst them, rendering them as tall, muscular shades. Down the ridge, they moved, at a pace, the storm licking at their heels. At the base of the ridge, they broke into a sprint, Alrik lopping on the right flank, his mind clouded. He watched the forests and mountains, every wary of larger, more powerful dangers.

They moved, at a pace, in a staggered, fur-clad line. Their movements were slow, careful; those of an hunter, those of born-again slaughterers. Keris was a phantom, ghosting Alrik’s movement, keeping eyes fixed upon him. The Sage, his ice-eyed brother, had a keen sense and a strong mind, and had tailed, or ran alongside, Alrik for a while now.

The path ahead narrowed, thinning out into a ledge, a deep, oily darkness spreading off. Alrik and Keris, accompanied by two of the young-bloods, traversed first. Alrik was in the van, his spear thrown over a shoulder, running both hands across the sharp, dark rock. His boots, seal-leather and wolf fur, were sturdy and unwavering, made of finer stuff. The ground widened, leveled out, until they were in a ravine, Keris and the younger Wolf, Yngvar, spying something.

A flash of lightning, and something was shown in the bright, silvery-blue light. Six things, to be precise. They were huge, their movements languid and lumbering, clumps of white and grey fur clinging to their broad bodies. Fangs and claws, more akin to daggers than bone, gleamed threateningly. The centremost beast, taller by far than the others, with scars decorating its chest and face and eyes the colour of a storm, bellowed inanely and the creatures bounded forwards.

That particular beast, horrid as it was, circled left, staring intently upon Alrik.

Alrik broke off from the Pack, bounding forwards, with an howl of excitement upon his lips. The ape-troll, massive as it was, moved with shockingly alien agility.

It darted forwards, claws spinning, fangs dripping spittle. Alrik matched it, his contracted, reddened face awash with anger, rain running along his scars.

His spear was quicksilver, a blur of metal and wood; striking the beast between breasts. Blood erupted from around the point, glittering, splashing over Alrik’s face. The warmth was beautiful, as was the taste upon his lips and the tang within his nostrils.

And then, it.. Chuckled..

The ape-troll backhanded Alrik; sending the Firehawk bouncing away. His cheek opened up, a trickle of blood escaping from a slender, shallow cut.

Alrik was back on his feet instantly, wielding the broken haft in one hand, drawing the Cretacian with his other. The ape-troll lumbered closer, the scars upon its face rippling, as the creature let out a long, keening roar.

The Wolf of Fenris darted forwards, cracking the haft over the beast’s skull. His flaying knife was liquid metal, licking over the creature’s hip, drawing another gash.

Before he could strike again, massive paws seized him, dragging him closer. He was pressed into stone-hard muscle, that stank of blood, dung and perspiration, and felt dagger-like claws sink into the skin of his shoulders.

The Firehawk refused to cry out, refused to allow the others to see any form of pain - That was a weakness, and he did not need the newcomers to believe him lesser.

He smiled, and chuckled hoarsely.

In the crushing embrace, Alrik could do nothing but ram his blade into its gut. Again and again and again.
 

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Keris could feel his wolfspirit as it prowled deep within his soul, echoing his own tension as his cold eyes bore into the hulking warrior before him. What has your wyrd by the scruff of the neck that you would risk my ire like this, you snaggle-toothed bastard? I am going to pummel your hide bloody before dragging what’s left back to the Priests by the hairs of your insolent arse…

Of all of Keris’ packbrothers Alrik was by far the most impetuous in nature; his belligerent manner and volatile temper in keeping with the hallowed spirit of Ferki, the notoriously more bellicose of Russ’ two wolfsiblings, where as Keris’ wolfspirit was more akin to the wise and watchful Geri. To anyone outside the warrior-brotherhood of the pack their quarrelsome rapport gave the impression of being tenuous at best but, in truth, the bond between them was one of the closest; the pale scar on Keris’ flank attesting to that.

The Firehawk finally turned back to face him and, for a heartbeat, Alrik’s dark eyes were hazy and unfocused; disorientation and concern marking his scarred features before the mask of cynical superiority slipped back in place. Keris felt a shock run up his spine; the hair on the nape of his neck stiffening in response as the beast that shared his soul gave a low growl, suddenly cautious.

He gave his wolfbrother a measured gaze as the pack broke camp on Vermundr’s orders, staying close by Alrik’s side as they moved out. Keris had seen that look in another’s eyes before and poured over his memories if his wolfbrother had shown any signs of walking that path previously. Until the Claw had completed its task and Keris could speak with the Firehawk alone, he settled on keeping a careful watch on the older Wolf as the frigid winds brought the first rumbles of distant thunder.

-

The winds tugged at his form, dragging at the storm-drenched fur draped about him with a giant's strength as Keris tasted their icy bite on his cheeks even with the short growth of coarse, black hair that he had allowed to cover them. He would shave it back when they reached the halls of the great company again in keeping with the tradition for the youngest of Russ’ warriors, but for now it served to keep the worst of the lashing shards from his skin.

The power of the storm coursed all around him; the cold was no bother to his gene-forged body and Keris felt the elemental wrath stirring the beast deep in his blood as he loped along in the company of his wolfbrothers. The planet mercilessly challenged every creature that drew breath upon its wrathful form; only the absolute strongest survived and the Wolf King would have his world no other way. This was the distilled and untamed spirit of Fenris, his beloved homeworld, and Keris honoured its feral glory with every beat of his hearts.

The storm had rolled across the high peaks of Asaheim like a hunting pack in full pursuit of wounded prey, swallowing the Claw up as they pressed onwards towards the towering shadow of the Fang. The wolfspirit in his soul bared its fangs in empathy to the rage of the deathworld. Something set it on edge, pressed at the very limits of his senses like a predator skirting the line where firelight meets darkness. Keris had felt the eyes in the storm, yet the scything sleet limited vision and the fierce winds whipped any scents away into the steel-dark clouds above them. He endured the restrictions on his senses begrudgingly, trusting in his packbrothers and the instincts of his wolfspirit.

After nearly three hours of pushing through the teeth of the storm, the Claw found its path hampered by a gorge that seemed to fall away into the dark heart of Fenris itself. A narrow arch of stone bridged the gap in defiance to the brutal elements, carved away by over centuries until it soared across the void like a boarding grapple holding one iceskif to another.

Keris padded carefully behind his wolfbrothers in the first group to cross; crouched low to the stone and each step placed with a surety of instinct and balance. His elk-hide boots were soled with the skin of the deep-sharks that hunted the breaking of the pack ice, yet even with their added purchase the stone was murder-slick with wind driven sleet. The storm clawed at them, whipping the shards of ice into billowing curtains and howling through the darkness under their feet.

Keris kept his eyes locked upon the far side of the path, his wolfspirit wary and suspicious. For a moment a shadow loomed in the swirling winds on the far side of the gorge and Keris felt the flood of endorphins spike through his bloodstream in response to the snarled warning of the beast in his soul. One of the new members of the pack, Yngvar, made to pause ahead of him. Keris gave a deep-throated growl of warning,

Do Not Stop!

The Blood Claw pushed onwards, tossing a glance back at him that showed he had seen the figure as well. The younger Wolf turned to him when they had finally set foot on the far side of the abyss as Keris pulled his spear from its sheath across his back,

‘Aye, I saw it.’

Keris’ tones were thick with the underpinnings of battle arousal as his eyes scanned the storm around them without pause,

Skitja… Russ gave you wits along with fangs, brother, use them. No mere men walk these peaks, much less in a storm that would take the fur off Morkai’s arse!’

Lightning split the clouds above them, illuminating the broken expanse of stone before them and the six hunched figures that stalked forward. Patches of matted grey fur covered the creatures’ bodies, their twisted features betraying the maddened hunger of near-starvation and their gait a lumbering motion of simian-parody. A hunting throng of ice-trolls, the sub-species not as potent as their larger parent breed but a ferocious foe none the less. The largest of the group bellowed a bestial cry of threat, its scarred face turned towards the Firehawk in challenge. Keris gave a vicious lupine grin, ivory fangs flashing in the lightening of the clouds overhead. Looks like Alrik has finally found something as ugly as he is.

There was a scrapingof talons on stone as three more of the lumbering brutes heaved themselves up from the lip of the gorge right behind the second group of the pack to cross the stone bridge. Keris bared his short fangs in reply as the entire throng launched itself on the Wolves with a chorus of maddened roars.

Keris caught Frostulfr stumble and go down under the lumbering bulk of a troll out the corner of his eye, but before he could turn to his packbrother’s aid he found two of the brutes angling towards him in a snarling rush. The creatures were frenzied in their headlong charge, nearly trampling each other in order to be the first to engage him. Keris choked up on his spear, the haft carved from the pale bone-spine of a seawurm with an adamantium rod at its core, creating the illusion that the weapon was far shorter than it actual was and tensing the corded muscles in his legs as they neared. The lead troll made to lunge the moment it was in range, only to roar in agony when the monomolecular edge of Keris’ spear point came smashing into its shoulder as its prey’s reach suddenly doubled in length.

Keris howled as he threw his weight into the thrust, twisting as he did so to turn the brute’s momentum into the path of its fellow. The troll behind it shrieked in anger as careened headlong into the first, going down a thrashing mass of limbs and storm-iced fur. Keris lunged at its exposed back before the pair had even come to a stop, driving the tip of his spear into the base of the brutish creature’s thick neck and seeking to sever the spine before it could untangle itself from its wounded fellow.
 

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Vermundr trudged through the miserable weather at the front of the pack, spread out as it was. He was surprised to find himself joyful amidst the storm. A bubble of laughter boiled inside of him, and knowing the sound would be drowned out by the storm and winds he let it out. He laughed for several reasons. The first and foremost was because the icy sting plowing into his face was just ridiculous. How could someone call this their home? It was probably more uncomfortable, and perhaps even more formidable than the Alpha legionnaires, which was the second reason he laughed. The final reason was because he needed it. After seeing his pack continue its legacy of infighting even amongst new members who hadn't been on Hecutor, he needed it.

A kept a grin even as his pack mates crossed the thin bridge in front of him. He was glad to see some team work from them when it was needed, as several from the second group reacted in the blink of an eye to save Hrothagar from falling to his death.

He turned to face the ape-trolls as they made themselves known, and still his grin remained. He noticed peering through the sleet, that his brothers on the opposite side of the bridge were encountering enemies as well, an ambush. He laughed and shouted out loud even if his packmates still could not hear, "These foolish beasts think they can outwit Astartes in the art of battle! How adorable!"

He gripped his large callused hand around the metal handle of his battle axe that hung at his waist beneath his furs. It felt as if his fingers stuck to the frozen metal instantly, fusing with his weapon. It may have been painful if his hands weren't already numb.

He drew it and his knife together raising them in front of him and charging at two of the trolls coming at him, shouting a battle cry in case any were near enough to hear him, "Glory for all who want it now, brothers!" There were plenty of targets this time, there would be no stealing of kills or sparsity of struggle. Everyone would have their chance to kill one of the trolls.

While running he noted the height of the Trolls, approximately three meters made them one to two feet taller them himself, so low blows would be easier. However, he noted second, their arms hung low, so low swings would likely be easily blocked. They hunched and stepped with heavy feet. They were not nimble to any degree. Almost within reach he noticed several more details before striking, these creatures were not being affected by the weather conditions as he and his packmates were. Their teeth and hands were their weapons, and their bellies were paunched.

The predicted swing of the arm flew over his head as he dived low, but his right arm swung high sending the blade of his battle axe clean into the Troll's gut which spewed blood as he pulled his weapon away continuing to move forwards to get behind it. His knife came around, held in his left hand, and punctured the troll's lower spine. The first of his targets dropped dead onto the snow covered ground.

Any smile or laughter he still had left was gone in an instant as he saw that these 'silly' beasts were in fact a significant threat. He saw some of his pack falling and tumbling with the creatures, some of them clearly had been wounded. He found no humor at any of those under his command being killed, especially by some disgusting ape-troll on their own homeworld; not even an enemy of the Imperium. He noticed Some of the figures getting achingly close tot he cliff's edge.

He took this all in in just couple of seconds before he heard the roar he was waiting for. His arm swung behind him, the head of his axe turned to the ground knowing the Troll's long arm would be coming in low. Though he had guessed correctly and blocked the first arm, he hadn't expected the troll to swing with both at once, and so the other arm still came crashing into the side of his head sending him to the ground disorientated.

He stumbled trying to stand up, his furs getting in the way of his movements. The troll pounded its large hands into his back as he tried to regain his footing again and again. I let out caws that sounded like something between a large seal and a human each time it brought down its fists and claws into Vermundr's backside.

He couldnt think, there was no room to think. Face back to the ground, then feet scurrying, then face back into the ground, then feet scurrying. He did the first thing he could think of and took his knife which was amazingly still in hand and ripped his fur cloak at the sleeves, allowing the wind to take hold and fly into the Trolls' face.

The fur was quickly knocked aside but it served its purpose all the same throwing the troll's focus off for the slightest moment. Vermundr was back on his feet, axe and knife again at the ready.

The winds whipped at the exposed flesh of his face and torso. He knew dieing in the freezing storms of Fenris was definitely possible, but he would rather die at the icy grips of a storm he could do nothing about, than be the pack leader who's group of blood claws was found dead by the hands of an apparently too tactically savvy troll clan for them too handle...
 

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Azahd watched as events outside his control spiraled into madness. Alrik toppled Frostulf and pummeled him into submission. Azahd flinched to watch the scarlet fluid stained the pure white blanket of snow. Blood, Astartes blood flowed free and uninhibited and it pained Azahd to watch, but Alrik's blood was up, and to aid Frostulf would only serve to prove Alrik's point; the newer members were weak, and undeserving of their place. Vermundr was done rebuking Krahl, and Keris had also brought Krahl low and now intervened for Frostulf. All the other fresh bloods seemed to fair better, integrating well with the existing claw. Azahd for the moment watched the scenes unfold and listen to the warning given by Lord Blackmane. The blade of ice continued to roll over Azahd's knuckles, and he absorbed all that was happening with an almost casual indifference. Mistakes were being made, trying to bond with the Firehawk and acts of selfish glory were amongst them, and these were things that Azahd could learn from.

Once again, events moved forward relentlessly. It was time to go, time to go home. Azahd watched the brothers around him move into action, glimpsing some curious silent exchange between Keris and Alrik but thought nothing of it. The two seemed like fire and ice from Azahd's brief experiences within the pack and was not keen to stand between the stream of emotions that joined the two like a chord. Azahd was the one to put out the fire and then the pack was left alone with nought but the like of the stars and moon and the howling of the wind. And yet, something pricked on the edge of Azahd's senses. Barely palpable but defiantly there. A fleeting presence. Possibly some predator drawn by the smell of roasting flesh. But the pack moved quickly and the fire was already out and almost immediately the presence disappeared. *A phantom in the snow* Azahd thought *Nothing more*. Time to move.

The claw trudged constantly for hours. A storm rose up like an angry cat and spat wind and hail and ice at them. Rain and ice whipped around Azahd.Even as a native Fenrisian, this storm still chilled him to the bone. Who on earth would think to make such a hostile environment their home. Surely such a thing was madness. As the trudged on, Azahd became increasingly cautious. Dispite his best attempts to settle his mind, he couldn't help but fell they were being watched. But this storm was playing hell with his sense of smell and it drank all sound, even from most of his battle-brothers. Still, there was unmistakably something out there, just beyond the veil of ice and rain.

The claw reached a natural brigde of perma-ice and stone, but in this storm, with the holwing winds and the rain that turned to ice on contact, crossing it was less than inviting. However, the claw stil split up again, and the first half started to make their way across. Just as Azahd's group was making ready to cross, an feral howl rose up from the storm. Azahd could feel his wolf-spirit snarl at such a direct challange. Azahd was still unaccustomed to keeping his wolf-spirit in check, but managed it whilst he spun to see what manner of creature had challanged them.

There was not just one shadowed form in the storm but several. From the size of them, Azahd judged they were a troll of some sort. Big bastards. This wasn't going to be easy. Again a howl rose up from both sides of the valley, and the beast charged. Azahd issued his own howl of acceptance and rushed to great them. Two beasts were comming straight for him. Both looked to swipe him, and so Azhad dove feet first into a slide in the ice and snow. He slid right between the pair and came out the otherside unscathed. As the two started to turn, he took hold of his spear and lept into the flank of one of them and struck it with his spear. THe creature howled and swiped at him but as quickly as he had struck, Azahd jumped back.

This exchange went on for several minutes. Azahd could hear the sounds of his pack-mates fighting and the howls of creatures as the were sturck by the Astartes. Azahd could barely get a stirke in against his two assailants. When the oppertunity presented itself wiht one, the other was always ready with a strike, giving the other time to recover. One Azahd's part he had remained largely unscathed. A few shallow marks from the trolls razor sharp claws, but nothing more. But this fight was testing, and unlike the trolls, the feirce weather was making the fight all the more difficult for Azahd.

Again, one of them swiped for him and Azahd jumped back to avoid the swipe. Then, an unholy howl rose up to his left. The second troll had moved around and was now charging for him. In front of him was the rapidly recovering troll, to his left the second, and to his right a sheer drop. Then quick as lightning, the idea hit Azahd. He stood, bold as brass in the face of the charging troll and howled back at it. Such impudence from it's supposed prey seemed to enrage the troll and it's speed increased. In a few moments, it would have cannoned into him and sent him flying off the edge. But at the last moment, Azahd spun out of the path of the troll. Cleasrly realising it's fate, the troll tried to stop itself, but Azahd struck out with the point of his spear to the base of the creature's head. The force of the blow, sent the three meter tall monster stumbling toward the edge. At that moment, it looked as if the creature would surely fall off the edge, but Azahd had not time to watch and be sure. The other troll was ready to attack again and it wasted no time doing so. Again Azahd side-stepped a hammer-blow swipe and grinned a feral smile. He was enjoying the thrill of the fight...
 

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Tyr nodded as he agreed with what Heimdall smelt, obviously there was nothing else out there or he would tell the blood claw. One thing that Heimdall didn't understand was to why the elder blood claws thought themselves above the others. Admittedly they had combat experience and had fought and bled in the name of the Emperor and the Wolf, but they were still blood claws, like the rest of them.

The group soon moved out, moving forward in groups. The storm that was coming hit them hard and followed them for hours, causing all senses to be pretty much useless. Heimdall could hear the howling winds, and could barely see his brothers in front of him. They were getting closer and closer to the Fang with every step though, soon they would be rejoicing in the halls of the legendary keep.

Heimdall was in the rear echelon of the group, the place he preferred to be. In training he would always volunteer for a rear guard action when applicable, and wished he had his trusty flamer with him, then the snow and ice could feel his rage. He would have been good if he had it with him at the front, lighting the way for the others to follow. Heimdall had grown up on Fenris, but in all his years of training and before he had never experienced a storm of this magnitude. He felt his annoyance rise within him, they were being to damn cautious and slow. He could be in the halls by now, drinking and feasting to tales of their victory.

He knew the Wulfen spirit wanted him to snap, to abandon the others and make a push for himself to the Fang, but he ignored it. He had a claw to look after now, brothers whether they be by choice or not. Soon the Claw reached a natural looking bridge, made out of ice. The groups set across in their smaller divided echelons, Heimdall's would be the last to cross the frozen ice bridge. Heimdall stopped as they waited, keeping a lookout as best he could, but it wasn't good enough. he could see, hear or smell anything thanks to the storm, and he let loose a snarl of frustration at this.

Then he heard something, a roar it sounded like. Out of nowhere the group were besieged by some form of trolls, they seemed unaffected by the blizzard, and smashed into the rear echelon. Heimdall faced a creature bigger than him, and before he could even bring his spear to bear on it it stuck its claw into his leg, and raked down it. Crimson blood flew freely out of the wound, the Troll had some in it claw while the rest stained the ground he stood on. With a howl of anger and determination Heimdall leapt straight at the troll, knocking it backwards with the butt of his spear.

The troll quickly regained its composure as Heimdall led a series of lightning fast hits on it. The troll was barely scratched as Heimdall sliced with his spear, and with a roar it swung a fist at him. Heimdall ducked underneath the blow, stabbing his spear upwards into the trolls arm. It howled in pain as it grabbed hold of his spear and yanked it out of its arm. Dropping the spear on the ground it charged at Heimdall, who barely had time to pull out his knife before it was upon him.

Heimdall ducked and slashed at its legs, hoping to knock it off balance, but the troll kicked him backwards, Heimdall slamming into the snow. He rose quickly and leapt forward to meet the troll head on once more, darting in with his knife and causing blood to spray as he sliced the outside of its leg. Heimdall rolled underneath one of its punches and grabbed his discarded spear, turning to face a charging troll head on. Heimdall would end this fight soon, once he had repaid the troll for injuring his leg.
 
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