"Our enemies may be many, but so long as there remains even one Son of Russ still fighting, one who still rages in the name of justice and truth, then by the Allfather, the galaxy shall yet know hope."
― Wolf Lord Bulveye Bloodaxe, Legiones Astartes Wolf Brothers
The Wolf Brothers, known as the Vlka Kaerherjar (the 'Wolves of Kaeriol'), are a Second Founding Successor Legion of the mighty Space Wolves, created in the wake of the Horus Heresy to help offset the severe losses sustained by the Legiones Astartes. Founded as a replacement for the traitorous VIIIth Legion (Night Lords), the Wolf Brothers were created as a shock-assault force, to take back those worlds lost to the Traitor Legions during the Horus Heresy. They also quickly garnered a reputation as tireless pursuers and peerless hunter-killers of those enemies of Mankind who attempted to flee the Emperor's wrath. Since their inception, the Wolf Brothers have remained a Legion apart from its fellows, content to prosecute the Imperium's war on their own. Though unexpectedly violent and unsubtle, their campaigns are brutally swift.
There are few amongst the later founding Legions whose tally of victories are as numerous as the Wolf Brothers. Like their genetic forebears, the Wolf Brothers continue to pride themselves on being fiercely independent, answering to no one save the High Lords of Terra themselves. Their tenacity in the pursuit of their foes and the ferocity displayed in battle, is legendary, as they aim to tear and rend their foes until they lay in ruins or driven to their deaths. In the modern 41st Millennium, such brutal and bloody-handed Space Marine Legions are all that stand as a bulwark between the numerous enemies of Mankind or total ruination.
The Wolf Brothers are a Loyalist Space Marine Legion that was created in the latter 31st Millennium as a Second Founding Successor Legion of the Space Wolves. This Successor Legion was the first that was founded from remnants of the mighty VIth Legion. The Wolf Brothers were intended to be as numerous as their genetic forebears, and as powerful. They were created by using the genetic stock of the Space Wolves, which bore the powerful Canis Helix, known as the 'Spirit of the Wolf', the particular genetic sequence of the Space Wolves' gene-seed that endowed them with their unusual feral traits. The Canis Helix is derived from a unique segment of the genome of their mighty Primarch Leman Russ and serves as a catalyst imbibed by the Legion's Aspirants to begin their physical transformation into superhuman Astartes. However, the Canis Helix is unstable and can reduce an Aspirant into a feral, lupine mutant known as a Wulfen at nearly any point during their service to the Emperor of Mankind. The heritage that made them powerful also made them unstable.
Therefore, when the High Lords of Terra tasked their finest gene-wrights and fleshcrafters to remove these genetic deficiencies, they endeavoured to do so with all haste, for those Astartes that possessed the legacy of Leman Russ flowing their veins, were indeed powerful and much needed during the chaos that followed in the wake of the Horus Heresy. During this time, one of the Legions that were first chosen as Progenitor Legion was the feral Space Wolves Legion. It took many decades for the Imperium's most brilliant gene-wrights and fleshcrafters to decode the mysteries of the Canis Helix within the Space Wolves' gene-seed in order to create a new generation of Space Wolves successors. During that time, many of the Space Wolves' Wolf Priests and Iron Priests scoured the galaxy in order to find a comparable world for their successors that would mirror their own deadly world of Fenris. On the outskirts of the galactic north of the Segmentum Obscurus, they finally discovered such a world, which they named Kaeriol. This world was identical to Fenris, as it was also dominated by extremes of climate, and was a deadly and turbulent world inhabited by mankind. The extreme geography of Kaeriol had resulted in the human population of this world in becoming one composed largely of primitive, nomadic, pre-industrial barbarian tribes. The tribes constantly sought to secure territory, and as a result skirmishes and feuds over land between rival tribes were common. The Kaeriolian people were hardened to the changes in temperature and environmental extremes, and so was the fauna.
Though it took many decades, the gene-wrights were finally successful in removing the most of the negative traits within the Canis Helix. When the dawning of the 32nd Millennium approached, the Space Wolves were divided in half, in order to found a new Space Marine Legion to replace the VIIIth Legion (Night Lords) which had become corrupted by the Ruinous Powers and followed Horus Lupercal into damnation. This newly formed Legion were named the 'Wolf Brothers', proud inheritors of the legacy of Russ, led by its first Great Wolf (Legion Master), Beor Arjac Grimmaesson. They were gifted a homeworld, Kaeriol, a planet of ice and fire, just as Fenris is. They were also given half of the Space Wolves' Legion fleet, half their armouries and half their Priests. The Wolf Brothers also imported all matter of Fenrisian fauna, including - drakes, elk, and great white bears to their new Legion homeworld. Once they arrived, with the help of the Mechanicum, the Wolf Brothers oversaw the construction of their mighty fortress-monastery of Útgarðar, the 'Wolves Hould', built within the tallest peak of the mountains of Helgard.
Kaeriol is a Death World located in the northernmost reaches of the Segmentum Obscurus, at the end of the warp rift known as the Eye of Terror, from which the Forces of Chaos come forth from, to raid and pillage. This world of fire and ice serves as the Legion Home World and recruiting ground for the Vlka Kaerherjar, the Wolf Brothers Legion. Kaeriol is the location of Útgarðar, the Wolf Brothers' massive fortress-monastery, considered by Imperial savants to be one of mightiest bastions of Imperium of Man, equivalent to their progenitor's citadel, The Aett, known by the wider Imperium as The Fang. From their home world the Wolf Brothers maintain the vigil that began many millennia ago during the dawning of the 32nd Millennium and watch over a hundred other worlds besides. Their demesne stretches far and wide across the the scattered stars that girdle the Kaeriolian star system.
Kaeriol is dominated by extremes of climate, listed in official Imperial Cartigraphicae records as one of most deadly and turbulent worlds inhabited by humanity. Early Great Crusade expeditions by Rogue Traders deemed this world inimical to life, but as always, the early human settlers of this frozen outpost found a way not only to survive, but to thrive. Before Old Night, this world was originally settled as a mining colony. The world of Kaeriol was rich in many of the ores used in the construction of space faring vessels and technology used at the time. But with the advent of the horrendous warps storms and the Age of Strife, the stranded settlers were cut off from the outside world and were barely able to survive the harsh environment. Only the hardiest survived.
Over the following millennia, the forgotten technology of that era was irrevocably lost and the world became overrun by the denizens of Chaos. The survivors reverted to a barbaric state. This was the state of Kaeriol when this world was rediscovered by the Iron Priests and Wolf Priests of the Space Wolves Legion in the latter years of the 31st Millennium. They saw a world that reflected their own savage home world of Fenris. They knew almost immediately, that their long search was over, and that their successors would easily adapt to the similar environs.
The native tribes of Kaeriol prefer to live in the frigid, arctic lands with glaciers and heavy snowfall. Living in a very hostile and isolated region, the Kaeriolian warrior tribes are forced to rely on their resourcefulness and their unwavering courage to survive. They survive the harsh and unforgiving hell-winters by hunting amongst the icy tundra of the Frozen Wastes. They mostly eat meat, which they can hunt or kill for themselves. During the long, cruel winter months the days are short and the nights are unbearably long and snowy. Game becomes scarce, making the Kaeriolian hunter's task of foraging for food a race for survival. But during the long summer months when the snow caps melt and the fjords are free of ice, the Kaeriolian tribes take to their longboats and raid other settlements, plundering them for sustenance and wealth. Despite their savage reputation the Kaeriolians also survive by farming and herding, spreading to colonize faraway lands as opportunities present themselves. Where their intuitive natures and wanderlust takes them, they engage in trade; when other tribes encroach into their territories, they exact tribute. For millennia, the Kaeriolians have dominated the sea lanes and the few lands that possess forests, where wild game is plentiful.
For millennia, the image of the Kaeriolian warrior has engraved itself in the minds of those whom have come in contact with this feral society; the image of the bloodthirsty barbarian with axe, sword and hide-covered armor. They are the epitome of savage fighters and terrifying raiders, sweeping across the continents of their frigid world and the water lanes of the turbulent seas. Although they are considered uncultured and primitive, these fierce people have developed a highly ritualistic and distinctive culture. The Kaeriolian people resemble vikings from ancient Terran history. According to ancient legends, Kaeriol's original space-faring ancestors mixed their blood with that of the Frost Giants, thereby producing a robust and hearty race of humans who possess a near immunity to the cold and an affinity for battle. The origins of these tales are dubious at best, and the veracity of such claims are highly disputed by Imperial scholars as to the identity of this mysterious race of so-called 'giants'.
The Kaeriolian males builds are robust; somewhat sinewy and very muscular. They have well defined and rough-hewn features due to the constant exposure to the extreme elements of the harsh Kaeriolian winters. Most of the males possess long unkempt hair (sometimes worn braided), and they grow long, course beards. Kaeriolian males also have somewhat pale skin like those of their supposed distant Frost Giant cousins. The Kaeriolian females builds are somewhat smaller; athletic and well proportioned. They possess a frontier beauty that can only be found amongst such a hardy race of women. Their beautiful locks of hair are often worn in long, braided tresses. Kaeriolians can generally live to 100 years of age or older, although the males generally have shorter life spans than their female counterparts. If they are lucky they may survive to the ripe age of fifty years old if they are fortunate enough not to be killed in battle, by wild beasts, or the notoriously foul weather of their home world. It is a rare thing indeed to meet a Kaeriolian male of venerable age. An elder Kaeriolian is a warrior without peer, who has literally survived hundreds of battles and decades of Kaeriol hell-winters, due to their fortitude, strength, cunning and intelligence. It is these venerable warriors who become a tribe's chieftain or Jarl.
Kaeriolians are robust and outspoken, unafraid to speak or act on impulse. They are somewhat boastful and known to be braggarts, but they will back up their words with either their fists or with the sharpened edges of their battle-axes. Einvig, a duel to the death with no restrictions, are quite common when there are slights of honour. To a Kaeriolian, action literally speaks louder than words. Honour is another concept that the Kaeriolians have a high regard for. Whether it is upon the field of battle, or defending one's pride when someone sullies their family name, honour must be maintained. The warriors of Kaeriol are brought up on the heroic sagas of the Einherjar, the mythical 'Sky-Warriors', maintaining a proud martial tradition. Even amongst the hardy Kaeriolian women, there are those individuals who wish to earn honour and glory in the heat of battle, and thereby, securing themselves a place within the sagas. These female warriors are known as Skjaldmær, or 'Shieldmaidens', fight alongside the men in battle with shield, sword, axe and spear.
To prove one's worth as a warrior to the other members of their tribe, a Kaeriolian warrior must constantly meet any challenge bestowed upon them by the venerable elders and senior warriors within their tribe. A young warrior must prove their battle prowess by acquiring numerous war trophies and battle scars if they are to be judged worthy. Some warriors are so dedicated to achieving this goal that they strive for nothing less than the chance to be immortalized forever in the form of a Kaeriolian epic saga. Years after their death, they will be remembered when the sagas are recited by the old shamans of their tribes during the 'The Feast of The Great Hunt', held every twenty years during the rising of the Hunter's Moon.
When a Kaeriolian has proved his worth or is slain in glorious battle they believe that they will earn a place amongst the honored ranks of the Einherjar. These are the fell-spirits of the warriors whom died in glorious battle and were raised from the dead; chosen to continue fighting by the side of the Emperor, (whom Kaeriolians refer to as the 'All-Father') against the enemies of Mankind. According to the ancient Kaeriolian sagas the 'All-Father' will face Hel, the Goddess of Death and the underworld, and her other three aspects (lust, wrath, and transformation) and her daemonic hordes during the final days of all of creation, known as the Ragnarøkkr, or the 'End-Times'. It is every Kaeriolian's fondest wish to be judged worthy enough to join their God-Emperor in eternal battle. These fanatically devout warriors are constantly trying to prove their worth in battle through insane acts of bravery or by slaying the most enemies.
At the center of the planet's largest continent, Jǫtnarheim, the great citadel of Útgarðar, the 'Wolves Hould', hewn into the cliff face of the tallest mountain, within Kaeriol's highest peaks. Against the gathering dark of the dwindling atmosphere, tiny lights shine at the distant summit. The Kaeriolian tribes mark this habitation of the Einherjar - the 'Sky Warriors' - as the abode of the demigods, itself a tiny fraction of the bulk of that vast peak. Lesser summits are clustered around the formidable citadel in the shadow of the mighty peak, Forn einn, the 'Ancient One'. The ways between the peaks are treacherous and known only to those who have trodden its paths as Aspirants. All are scarred with precipitous drops and deep crevasses. Some hunt-ways were built on solid stone, whereas others are on bridges of ice that will crumble to nothing with the first application of weight. Some lead true, taking the hunter from the clefts in the shadow of the summits down to the plains where their prey dwell; others lead nowhere but into darkness, to the caves that riddle the bowels of the ancient landscape, full of nothing but ice-gnawed bones and despair.
Over the long history of its existence, many times has Útgarðar stood inviolable while the Forces of Chaos have dashed themselves against it. Útgarðar is clad in armour of immense thickness and strength and is cloaked by void shields more powerful than those found on even the most mighty of the Imperialis Armada's warships. The mountainside conceals potent defence lasers hidden within miles of dark shafts cut into the mountain itself. These ancient weapons, powered by geothermal reactors within the citadel's core, are capable of blasting apart even the most heavily armoured spacecraft from orbit. Even a ground assault would be considered suicidal, as Útgarðar possesses two external gates, known as the Sunrise Gate and the Wolves Heads Gate, built high up on the sheer sides of the mountain. These two gates connect at opposite ends of the internal region of the fortress known as the Aesirhould. The two gates were built to overlook entirely bare approaches, made up of huge causeways of stone, each kilometres wide and worn smooth by the endless gnawing of stone by the Helgard's high winds. If a massed advance upon these approaches was undertaken, they would provoke a slaughter. Even if an enemy were, by some miracle, able to reach one of the gates, which in themselves, are colossal structures comprised of adamantium, granite and ceramite, they bristle with all manner of deadly weaponry - twin-linked bolters turrets, static plasma cannons and missile launchers.
The Wolf Brothers Legion recruit from Kaeriol and the surrounding worlds of other systems occupied near their star system. Most of the colonists who settled the Kaeriol System came from the nearby systems of Novaya Zemlya and Norwegia. On Kaeriol and the other worlds in the surrounding systems, strangers clad in armor as black as shadow, stalk the lands. In the Jarl's long halls, tales are told of these strangers known as the Choosers of the Slain - whom watch silently from the hills overlooking the battlefield, choosing those whom show true valor and commit the most insane acts of courage. These warriors, though mortally wounded, are taken by the ebon-armored 'Sky Warriors' to join the ranks of the Einherjar, never to be seen again. These mysterious strangers are the Wolf Priests of the Wolf Brothers. The youths they pick are tested to the extreme, to see if they are worthy to have the legacy of Leman Russ implanted into their bodies, and eventually become one of his chosen sons.
Those selected as potential Space Marines must undergo several initiation rights, the first of which is the Trial of Morkai. After partaking in a sacred ceremony where they imbibe the Canis Helix, the 'Spirit of the Wolf', the genetic cocktail drawn from the genome of Leman Russ is used as a catalyst to activate the genetically-engineered viral machinery of the Aspirant's gene-seed implants. This mixture is drunk from an ancient Legion relic of the Wolf Brothers known as the Cup of Russ. After drinking from the Cup of Russ, the Aspirants are then taken through the Gates of Morkai, a mystic portal deep within Útgarðar, where every Aspirant's mind is picked and probed by the Legion's Rune Priests (Librarians) for signs of corruption or mental weakness that will make them easy prey for the blandishments of Chaos. These Aspirants are then taken by Thunderhawk gunship and dropped naked on the shores of the southern continent armed with only a combat knife. The Aspirants must then make their way through Niflheim, the inhospitable tundras and hinterlands that surrounded the foot of the mountains of Helgard. If the Aspirant returns to Útgarðar from this Trial of Morkai, he is implanted with the remaining components of the Wolf Brothers' gene-seed, which stabilise the effects of the Helix. Although this procedure is extremely hazardous, the remaining components of the Wolf Brothers' gene-seed will prove ineffective at initiating the metamorphosis into an Astartes unless the Canis Helix is implanted first to serve as a catalyst for the transformation.
The Wolf Brothers claim to be blessed with the most potent of all gene-seeds. The heritage of Leman Russ is as unique as it is deadly. The so-called Canis Helix is a particular genetic sequence which endows the Scions of Russ with their unusual feral traits. But the first stage of an Aspirant's transformation would often be their last, for many were killed, or worse, transformed into slavering beats. The Horus Heresy had revealed weaknesses in the gene-seed of several Space Marine Legions. These defects had been exacerbated by the accelerated gene-seed cultivation techniques needed to keep the huge Space Marine Legions up to strength during the centuries between the start of the Great Crusade and the outbreak of the Heresy. With the Imperium of Man expanding so quickly across the galaxy during the Great Crusade, the need for fresh recruits in the Space Marine Legions was great. So much so that some Legions had not been as particular in their gene-seed screening practices and recruit selection processes as they should have been.
The Imperium's most brilliant gene-wrights and fleshcrafters were tasked with the rebuilding of the Space Marine Legions and to to expunge identified genetic weaknesses. Many genetic engineering technologies were put into effect, reducing the processing time required to create a battle-worthy Astartes. But removing the genetic deficiencies of the Canis Helix identified within the Space Wolves' gene-seed proved a much more difficult prospect. While studying the various Legions' gene-seed, the gene-wrights soon discovered that certain samples had gene sequences deliberately deleted from the base Primarch genome, while other samples showed the addition of clearly non-human DNA. Intriguingly, the genome of the Primarch listed as 'Subject VI' had added canine-like DNA. Although it is not clear whether the sample numbers corresponded to the actual Primarchs of the numbered Space Marine Legions, this could explain the wolf-like affinity of Leman Russ and the unexpected feral mutation of many Space Wolves Astartes into the Wulfen.
Before the transformation of a Space Wolves Aspirant could begin, they had to first imbibe the Canis Helix. Unfortunately for many, the genetic coding of the helix contained a number of substances that were not synthesised by the human body, and they had a dramatic effect upon the potential Space Marine. The ravages of this unique gene first take effect during the aspirant's indoctrination. Ultimately, he is cast out into the wilderness to make his own way back to The Fang - the Space Wolves' mighty Fortress-Monastery. The gene works its hideous changes upon the warrior's mind and body; he would revert to a primal state where his bones split and buckle, hair sprouted across his body, and his only desire was to gorge on fresh meat and blood. His body mass would grow by almost eighty percent, many of his bones fused, and vestigial fangs would sprout from his gums as he underwent the transformation. Whilst his body was wracked with pain, the warrior had to overcome the gene, lest it overcame him. If the aspirant found his way back to the Fang across the chasms and glaciers populated by snarling predators and blasted by freezing winds, he was implanted with the remainder of the Space Wolves' gene-seed, stabilising the Canis Helix and completing his genetic indoctrination into the ranks of the Sons of Russ. A minority of these warriors do not entirely conquer the gene-seed's effects, however, and in times of great stress would revert to the hulking, bloodthirsty state that haunted their genetic structure. This was the Curse of the Wulfen, and it was rightly feared.
Working in conjunction with the Space Wolves' Wolf Priests, the Mechanicum's most brilliant adepts of the Magos Bioligis and representatives from the Selenar gene-cults of Luna, sought the means to remove the negative effects of the Canis Helix. With the Space Wolves permission, this coven of gene-wrights were granted unprecedented access to the Fang's fleshchambers, which contained ancient cogitators and irreplaceable equipment, some of it dating back to the days of the Unificaiton Wars, in order to facilitate their ultimate goal. This program for eradicating the genetic flaws from the legacy of Leman Russ came to be known as 'The Tempering'. The gene-wrights and Wolf Priests worked feverishly on a cure for the Space Wolves' genetic flaws for many decades. Finally, after nearly a century, the gene-wrights achieved their ultimate goal - they managed to eradicate the Curse of the Wulfen while preserving the glory provided by the integration of animal DNA into the Space Wolves' gene-seed. The gene-wrights refined the gene-sequences of the Helix, altering them to deliver the supernatural strength of an Astartes without unleashing the ravages of the Wulfen within. The products of these experiments created within the flesh labs of The Fang with the altered Canis Helix were as powerful as a true Space Wolf, as quick in the hunt and as skilled with a blade, but they did not degenerate into the Wulfen, nor did their personalities take on bestial characteristics. They possessed the qualities that made the Space Wolves superb warriors, and purged the genetic factors that would have prevented them from creating successors. Thus, the path was laid to forge a new Legion derived from the genetic heritage of Russ.
Announcing their success to the High Lords of Terra, the proxy rulers of the Imperium called for a new generation of Space Marine Legions to be created. As the 32nd Millennium dawned, the newly created VIIIth Legion, known as the 'Wolf Brothers', were one of two newly created Space Marine Legions created during the Second Founding, to replace the ones that had fallen to Chaos during the Horus Heresy. Surprisingly, for a Legion founded from the genome of Leman Russ, the Wolf Brothers tend to be stoic and more disciplined than their progenitors. Imperial genetors theorise that this might be a byproduct of the events that occurred during the Horus Heresy. Created as they were, from the surviving stock of Space Wolves' gene-seed, these Scions of Russ also tend to display a propensity for bitterness and paranoia - a result of the betrayal perpetrated by so many of the Primarchs of the original Space Marine Legions - who led their sons down the path of damnation and ruination. Many believe, that because of this, the Wolf Brothers have a tendency to see themselves more as the All-Father's warriors - fervently loyal and dedicated - rather than as an extended pack of their Primarch Leman Russ. Though they still acknowledge the Wolf King as their genetic father, they hold their loyalty to the Emperor above all else.
The Wolf Brothers Legion is known across the galaxy for its martial exploits. Of all the Space Marines, the Wolf Brothers, like their progenitors, the Space Wolves, are most like their Primarch in character. Uncouth, undisciplined and barbaric by comparison to the other Legions, they were nonetheless a powerful force of arms, admired by their allies and feared by their foes. Leman Russ was never one for following rules; as long as his Space Marines were prepared to fight and die for him, he was satisfied. He knew his troops had superb battlefield instincts and he trusted them to achieve their objectives without being burdened with a host of what he regarded as petty regulations. Because of this, the organisation and structure of the Wolf Brothers is quite different from that of the other Legions. The Wolf Brothers Legion is organised into fifteen Great Companies, each one a sizeable army numbering many thousands of warriors. The Great Companies are more akin to barbarian warbands than to formal military organisations, each led by a mighty Wolf Lord.
The Wolf Brothers Legion is a close-knit brotherhood and there is a great deal of respect and comradeship between the Space Marines from Kaeriol and the warriors of Fenris. The officer corps and the elite Wolf Guard were initially drawn from the ranks of both Terrans and Fenrisians.
Great Wolf - The Great Wolf is the Wolf Brothers' equivalent of a Legion Master. The Great Wolf is chosen by acclamation from amongst the Legion's Wolf Lords upon the death of his forebear, and he will remain the Great Wolf until his own death.
Wolf Lords - A Wolf Lord is the Space Wolf officer who is the equivalent of a standard Space Marine Captain and who commands one of the 15 Great Companies that comprise the full Wolf Brothers Legion's military force. A Wolf Lord may be accompanied by the huge Kaeriolian Wolves and is always protected by a contingent of Hearth Guard specifically loyal to him. The Legion's Great Companies are led by the 15 current Wolf Lords, a number that includes the current Great Wolf, Einar Nighthowler. Much of the time the attrition rate for Wolf Lords is fairly significant because of the Legion's preference for close combat. However, some Wolf Lords have managed to see their thousandth year pass in service to the Emperor.
Kingsguard - Each Wolf Lord maintains a cadre of elite Hearth Guard, comprising the very finest of the warriors under his command. Einar Nighthowler is no exception, and maintains perhaps the largest Hearth Guard of all the Wolf Lords, counting among its number many of the greatest warriors in the entire Legion. Einar's Hearth Guard is so large that it is split into several smaller Packs, many of which have earned great renown for their deeds, yet when they gather for war at the Great Wolf's side they are collectively known as the Kingsguard. These Champions of Kaeriol, the "Fangs of Nighthowler," are always at the Great Wolf's call, accompanying him into every battle and commanding his armies when the needs of war call him away. Nighthowler’s Kingsguard defend him with their lives, and slay without mercy those who would raise blades against the master of the Wolf Brothers. They are the shield and sword of the Great Wolf, fending off enemy attacks before landing the killing blow. To face the Kingsguard of Kaeriol in battle is to face death itself.
Deathspeaker - Deathspeakers are a unique officer class within the Legion. A combination of the roles of Chaplain and Apothecary found in Legions, the Wolf Priests administer to the physical and mental well-being of the Legion's warriors and also choose the Aspirants to the Legion from among the feral barbarian tribes of Kaeriol.
Runecaster - The Wolf Brothers do not possess Librarians as such because of their great abhorrence of psychic abilities, which they equate with foul sorcery; instead the Legion maintains a number of Runecasters -- potent psykers who examine the minds of all Aspirants to the Legion for any sign of Chaotic taint or treachery. Armed and equipped differently from Librarians, Runecasters do not wear the psychic hoods of Librarians, and do not always carry force weapons, what the Space Wolves prefer to call Runic Weapons. The Runecasters, however, are actually quite potent psykers in their own right and as fierce warriors as any man born of Kaeriol.
Priest of Iron - The Priests of Iron are the Legion's equivalent of Techmarines. Sent off for training at Mars with the Adeptus Mechanicus like all Techmarines, the Iron Priests maintain the Legion's equipment and forge all necessary replacement wargear. Priests of Iron are traditionally attached to the Great Wolf's Company and re-assigned to other fighting forces on a situational basis. Iron Priests also have a place in the transformation and initiation of new recruits.
Sons of Ymir - The Dreadnoughts of the Wolf Brothers are generally ancient and wise warriors, who spend a great deal of time in dreamless sleep beneath Útgarðar. They are only awakened from their deep slumber in times of great need. The Venerable Dreadnoughts of the Wolf Brothers may sometimes even lead forces of their fellow Astartes into battle in the absence of another capable war leader, or sometimes in deference to their ancient wisdom and extensive tactical experience.
Like their genetic forebears, the Wolf Brothers form their Battle-Brothers into Packs. Each Pack will generally be made up of Legionaries who have fought together for some time and will work together as a pack of Kaeriolian Wolves do on the hunt. For the Wolf Brothers their finely honed senses of smell and hearing are just as important to them as their keen eyesight. Packs will work together to sniff and sound out their foes, hunting their prey like the wolves of Kaeriol, identifying the locations of their comrades as much by their enhanced sense of smell as by any technological means. The Wolf Brothers have four primary types of Packs in the Legion, including; the Blood Claws, Grey Slayers, White Beards, and the Hearth Guard. There are also Wolf Scouts, who are an oddity amongst the Legiones Astartes.
Hearth Guard - On Kaeriol, a Jarl will often chose those closest to him to be his boon companions, a Kaeriolian tradition carried over from the hirð warbands. In return for their loyalty throughout their lives, the hirð receive special consideration. If the leader is a Jarl or other reaver, then the hirð receive first choice of the spoils. If the leader is a petty king, then the hirð sit at the head of his table, drinking mead as well as ale, and their Lord gifts them with arm rings of silver, coats of fine mail, weapons, food and lodging. So long as the leader can fulfill his side of the bargain and bring them glory and riches, the hirð are pledged to stand at his side, be his men in all things, and die with him in battle. Similarly, a Wolf Lord will hand-pick a core group of Wolf Brothers who are utterly loyal and have achieved feats of exceptional valour and martial prowess, to serve as his Hearth Guard. These mighty Astartes can lead smaller forces of Wolf Brothers drawn from other Packs, serve as the Wolf Brothers' version of an Honour Guard for the most experienced warrior in a deployed Wolf Brothers force or serve as the Pack leader for a Great Company's squads, imparting their knowledge and experience to their younger charges and serving as the equivalent of standard Space Marine Sergeants. In true Kaerlorian tradition, in addition to access to the best suits of power armour and the most advanced wargear available to the Legion, the Hearth Guard have earned the right to wear Terminator Armour. Unlike other Legions, entrance into the elite ranks of the Hearth Guard is not the result of seniority or Veteran status but is an honour earned directly through merit, through the display of extraordinary acts of courage and heroism under fire. Eventually, it is possible for a Hearth Guard to rise to the position of Wolf Lord, the mighty officers equivalent to standard Space Marine Captains who command one of the 15 Great Companies that comprise the entirety of the Legion. Because a position in the Hearth Guard is so rewarding and envied by the warriors of the Legion, there are always those who are eager for glory and a chance to be forever remembered within the Legion's sagas. This can lead to some friendly rivalry between competing warriors, eager to draw a Wolf Lord's attention to their martial prowess in the heat of battle. But sometimes rivals will choose to settle a dispute of honour through holmgang - a ritual trial by combat. But on rare occasions, there is such bitter resentment and ire between competing rivals, that the only way to settle the dispute is through an einvigi - a duel to the death.
Ursine Cavalry - Ursine Cavalry units are a sub-group of the Wolf Guard. According to official Imperial records, the Ice-Bear Cavalry doesn't exist and the Wolf Brothers keep them as a closely guarded secret. Ursine Cavalry are composed of a sleuth of giant Kaeriolian Ice-Bears that stand about the height of over fifteen feet, and are used as mounts by the most elite members of the Hearth Guard. These ice-bears are often augmented with adamantium jaws, Imperial bionics, and back-jointed metal limbs that end in razor-sharp blades. The havoc that these creatures are capable of wreaking is said to be startling to even a hardened Veteran Wolf Brother. The taming of an Ice-Bear is often used as a ritual trial for a Wolf Brothers Astartes who wishes to rise into the ranks of the Hearth Guards.
White Beards - White Beards form a cadre of veteran warriors within the Legion. Hoary with age, proud and wise, they quite literally possess 'white beards', for as they age, their hair will grow course and grey, and eventually turn snow white. He is also endowed with long fangs, for as a Wolf Brother ages his canines lengthen. After centuries of long wars, their esteem stands as a mountain, commanding awe and respect from those of lesser years. There are relatively few White Beards within the Chapter, for many warriors die in battle so only a minority survive to reach a venerable age. Their saga is almost complete. These veteran warriors are disciplined and steady even in the heat of battle, and hence entrusted with the Great Company's heavy weapons. They are the equivalent of other Legion's Devastator Marines. Having fought and survived so many wars the White Beards are rarely unsettled even by the most serious set-back. There are many accounts within the Legion's history that recount the deeds of the stalwart White Beards, who have held the field against overwhelming odds, even after all others have fled or been slain.
Grey Slayers - If Blood Claws survive long enough to mature into seasoned Astartes, they are promoted to the ranks of the Grey Slayers. These veteran Astartes are the equivalent of a Legion's Tactical Marines. The Grey Slayer packs form the greater mass of the Wolf Brothers' warriors. They are strong and resolute fighters, tempered by battle but as hungry for honour as any proud warrior of Kaeriol. They are experienced warriors, dour and sombre, proud of their skills, and rightly honoured by their younger brethren. In battle, they function as all but autonomous units in the field are largely exempt from the reliance on direct commands from their senior command. They are expected to deal with myriad challenges on their own if needs be, and above all to close with the enemy on their own terms; to seek and destroy.
Blooded Claws - A Blooded Claw is a newly inducted Astartes of the Wolf Brothers Legion and the equivalent of a Legion's Neophytes or Scout Marines. Still struggling to control the spirit of the Wulfen within, Blood Claws are notoriously savage and fiercely aggressive. These hot-headed young warriors cannot wait to prove themselves, charging in howling packs at the front lines of the enemy in their efforts to garner personal glory. They prefer to fight at close quarters and are armed with melee weapons such as chainswords and bolt pistols. The Blood Claws are the shock troops of the Wolf Brothers and spearhead the majority of assaults. If they survive to become mature and capable warriors, they will eventually be elevated to the veteran ranks of the Grey Slayers.
Swift Claws - A subset of the Blood Claws, the Swift Claws are culled from the ranks of the Blood Claws when the Legion needs a swift, hard-hitting assault force comprised of bike squads or land speeders. The young and ambitious Blood Claws are well suited to this role. In addition to forming a lightning assault force, Swift Claws will occasionally be tasked with a dangerous quest to track down and slay a particularly powerful enemy. Given the opportunity to sow the maximum amount of carnage and disruption possible, these young warriors apply themselves with particular relish in the performance of their duties. Some Blood Claws are so taken by this role -- not to mention the opportunities for raising havoc that come along with it -- that they demand the right to a permanent position as a Swift Claw. Unlike other Legions that use their bike squads primarily for forward reconnaissance or outriders, the Wolf Brothers use their bikes in a demolitions and close assault role.
Skyclaws - The Skyclaws are a subset of Blood Claws. This specialist unit is composed of the most headstrong troublemakers from each Blood Claw pack and are often "rewarded" by reassignment to a Skyclaw Assault Pack and thus serve as the Legion's equivalent of Assault Marines. Entrusted with a jump pack, this vital piece of wargear provides the young warrior with the opportunity to indulge in their desire to charge headlong into the thick of battle. It is said amongst the more experienced Battle-Brothers of the Legion that if the youngsters wish to slake their reckless bloodthirst, let them, and if they die in the process then they will still learn a valuable lesson. Though considered a dubious honour by their more mature brethren, the Skyclaws are bound and determined to prove themselves in the eyes of their elders. Unafraid and uncaring, they soar fearlessly through the skies in great leaps, taking great joy in watching the enemy crumble beneath the reckless fury of their airborne assault. Truly the most rebellious and free-spirited of all the Wolf Brothers, the Skyclaws are constantly trying to prove themselves. They are known to compete against Packs of Blood Claws through friendly contests of athletic prowess, drinking and eating. Impetuous and foolhardy, the Skyclaws are known for their fondness for practical jokes. Although transgressions that cost the lives of their fellows are punished severely, even their Wolf Lords admit that they were young once, and so they overlook these offenses. It is rare for a Skyclaw to be exiled for their reckless deeds. But those that push their luck too far and commit an offence that is anathema to their Legion are assigned a punishment that fits the crime. One who has caused the death of a senior member of the Wolf Brothers may be struck down, only to awaken to a new life as a med-servitor.
Wolf Scouts - For some Wolf Brothers Legionaries, the close-knit and boisterous brotherhood of the Pack (squad) is not well suited to their personality, as they yearn for the open spaces and isolation of the Kaeriolian tundra. These Space Marines are selected to become part of a Great Company's Wolf Scout force, providing reconnaissance and disrupting enemy movements. These Space Marines are often already Veterans, as opposed to the raw Neophytes commonly used in other Legions' Scout Marines Squads.
Björndrengr - A martial tradition taken from the native people of Kaeriol, the björndrengr (translated in Low Gothic as 'Bear Warrior') is a lone warrior who seeks his own skein of fate by cementing his legend through individual feats of great battlefield prowess, to be told in the warrior sagas in the drinking halls of longhouses throughout Kaeriol. The totem animal of the björndrengr is, as the name implies, the bear. This Kaeriolian term is a reference to the practice of dressing in a ritual costume made from the hide of the totem animal, an outward reminder of the wearer's having gone beyond the confines of his humanity and become a divine predator. To become a björndrengr, a warrior must undergo a process before being admitted into this elite group of warriors. They spend a period in the wilderness, living like their totem animal and learning its ways, obtaining their sustenance through hunting, gathering, and raiding the nearest towns. The bond with the savage world is indicated not only on the geographic plane – life beyond the limits of the civilized life of the towns - but also on what many civilised Imperial scholars would consider a moral plane. The björndrengr's existence is assured by the law of the wilderness. The candidate ceases to be an ordinary human being and becomes instead a 'bear-man', more a part of the forest than of civilization. Thenceforth, the björndrengr has the ability to induce a state of possession by his kindred beast, acquiring its strength, fearlessness, and fury. This ancient shamanistic practice is still venerated and observed by the Legionaries of the Wolf Brothers. Within their ranks, such warriors are usually young and gifted Legionaries undergo a similar right. They go into the wilderness to seek out and slay a fearsome Kaeriolian Ice-Bear, whom roam the vast tracts of Niflheim, the inhospitable tundras and hinterlands that surrounded the foot of the mountains of Helgard. Upon slaying their quarry, these warriors forever after clad themselves in the pelt of the ferocious ice-bear. Like their totem animal, björndrengr are known to congregate into a group, known as a 'sleuth', and seek to do battle with the most fearsome of foes. Armed with a variety of melee and assault weaponry, the björndrengr seek to emulate their totem animal, and unleash their calculated brutality and savagery upon their foes. These berserk warriors are usually placed within the ranks of the Legion's most formidable shock assault elements of a Great Company. Whilst in the throes of a berserk frenzy these battle-brothers seeks nothing more in battle than to rush into close quarters with the enemy and tear them apart in a hail of blood, seeking to accomplish great deeds of heroism and valour upon the field of battle, so that they will be remembered in the Legion's sagas for all time. Some of the older Wolf Brothers see these warriors as blowhards and impetuous, while their younger brethren in the Blood Claws see them as inspirations to aspire to.
Úlfheðnar - Over time, as a Wolf Brothers Pack takes casualties and gain experience, they pass through the ranks, and eventually the last few survivors make it into the vaunted ranks of the Hearth Guard. However, sometimes a Pack will suffer particularly harsh casualties, leaving a lone survivor who has not yet earned a place in the Hearth Guard. Úlfheðnar (pronounced "oolv-HETH-nahr" with a hard "th" as in "the;" Kaeriolian Juvik for "wolf-hides") are the last standing warriors of a pack. Like their björndregnr kin, the lone warrior will undertake a Lone Hunt into the unforgiving wilderness of Niflheim - to seek out and slay a mighty Kaeriolian Dire Wolf. These powerful lupine predators are descended from the infamous Fenrisian Wolves that were originally brought to Kaeriol from Fenris, when the Legion was Founded and later settled upon this world nearly ten millennia ago. Once they successfully find their quarry and slay the beast, the lone warrior will then don the pelt of the slain wolf - in effect, he'll ritualistically take on the spirit of his chosen animal totem. These lone warriors are known to possess an air of vengeance and doom. An Úlfheðnar is vengeance incarnate - who will stop at nothing to avenge his fallen kinsmen, hurling himself into the thick of the fighting without hesitation so that he may win great glory or earn a magnificent death in battle. Úlfheðnar vow to seek out the most monstrous foes they can find and slay them. The Wolf Brothers hold true to the belief that only through deeds of incredible heroism or sacrifice can such a warrior atone for his survival and restore the honour of his dead packmates. So does every Úlfheðnar swear a mighty oath to seek out the mightiest foes and slay them in glorious combat, or die in the attempt. Those who succeed in their quests to seek out and slay dangerous or potent enemies and survive are accepted into the Hearth Guard, while the rest have at least earned an honourable death in combat like their packmates.
"Lo, there do I see the All-Father. Lo, there do I see the Wolf King and all our fallen brothers. Lo, there do I see the line of my people, back to the beginning. Lo, they do call me, they bid me take my place among them. They bid me take my place in the halls of the All-Father, Where the brave..may live...FOREVER!"
― The Rite of Battle
The Wolf Brothers revere the Emperor, known in Kaeriolian culture as the 'All-Father', above all - even above their own Primarch Leman Russ. It has been theorised that this display of loyalty to the God-Emperor above even their own genetic father is a direct result of the actions of the Primarchs during the Horus Heresy. It was the Primarchs who willingly followed the Arch-Traitor Horus into damnation - who spat on their oaths of fealty to the Emperor and his Imperium, and who corrupted their own sons to follow their path of wrath and ruin. This might explain the Wolf Brothers' tendencies to display bitterness and paranoia. Though they revere their own Primarch as their genetic father and one of the most stalwart defenders of the Imperium, above all else, they display an almost fanatical loyalty to the All-Father, who created the Primarchs, and by extension, the Legions of Astartes that followed.
The warriors of the Wolf Brothers have inherited much of their beliefs from their home world's native culture. Much of their martial traditions are still maintained by the Wolf Brothers, even after their induction into the ranks of the Legion. Wolf Brothers Legionaries constantly vie with one another, yearning to achieve the most victories or the highest kill tallies, in order to impress the Legion's more venerable members, constantly striving to earn a place within the Wolf Brothers' sagas. Like the feral tribesmen they recruit from, the Wolf Brothers value personal honour and physical strength at arms over all. Many Wolf Brothers Legionaries prefer to challenge enemy commanders to single combat in order to test themselves against the mightiest of enemies. Wolf Brothers often seek out single combat with a foe they consider worthy of the honour, although more than a few Veteran Gray Slayers and Wolf Lords have fallen against particularly dangerous opponents this way.
Thus, the Battle-Brothers of the Wolf Brothers Legion are known to exhibit a fierce resolve in the face of overwhelming odds and display an unstoppable drive to test themselves against all who would stand before them. Perhaps this feature of their character is a result of the beliefs instilled in each before he has even joined the Legion, for the warrior tribes of Kaeriol are fearsome and resolute indeed. Others say that the need to test their limits is a result of the bloodshed and atrocities committed during the Horus Heresy, by both sides of the inter-Legionary conflict, for the Legiones Astartes themselves committed numerous fratricidal actions against one another, bringing much woe and misery to the galaxy at large. The Wolf Brothers feel an inherent need to right the wrongs committed by the Astartes of the Traitor Legions, and to earn redemption in the eyes of the All-Father and His people, who suffered unimaginably during the galaxy-wide civil war.
Drakkar - A longship smaller than a knorr, usually used for raiding or piracy.
Einherjar - In Kaeriolian myth, the spirits of the slain warriors who reside within the long-hall of the All-Father, awaiting the day they will fight at Ragnarøkkr. This term is commonly used to refer to those who are selected to join the 'Sky-Warriors', to fight on behalf of the All-Father.
Einvigi - Unlimited personal combat, a duel to the death with no restrictions.
Goði - The closest Suthman equivalent to a jarl. Goði have certain rights and responsibilities in Kaeriol's southern continent, acting as patrons to smallholders, but are not nobles as the wider Imperium would understand them.
Hirð - The boon-companions of a lord. They eat at his table, sleep in his hall, take his gifts of weapons, armor and wealth, and derive their positions from hi1n. So long as he can feast and gift them, they must stand beside hi1n to the death, both on and off the field of battle. A term commonly used amongst the Wolf Brothers when referring to members of their Legion's elite Wolf Guard.
Holmgang - A highly stylized ritual that can be described as either a duel or a trial by combat, depending on your point of view. Combatants exchange sword or axe blows until one is unable to continue.
Huskarl - A member of the hirð, a warrior who makes the bargain of mead and glory for loyal service to a lord. Amongst the elite members of the Wolf Guard, this term is used when referring to a Veteran Sergeant.
Jarl - A noble of unspecified holdings, usually between those of a landed knight and a baron or earl. Unlike a huskarl, a jarl does not derive his position fro1n his lord, but from his hereditary holdings. While there were formal differences, the mark of a jarl was the ability to keep a hall and men, and the line between jarl and freeholder was often blurry. This term is used by the Wolf Brothers when referring to anyone of a leadership position, usually a Wolf Lord (Legion Space Marine Captain equivalent rank).
Knorr - A longship larger than a drakkar, usually used for trade.
Ragnarøkkr - The 'End-Times' or the 'Fate of the All-Father', when a long foretold series of future events, including a great battle between the Forces of Order against the Forces of Chaos, foretold to ultimately result in the death of the universe.
Skjaldmær - Known as 'Shieldmaidens', these fierce female warriors fight alongside the men in battle with shield, sword, axe and spear.
Thegn - The lesser partner in the Kaeriolian equivalent of a feudal contract. A king's jarls are his thegns.
Thing - (Pronounced ting), a thing was a local assembly of district, known as a thingstead, the thing manages affairs of justice and various other issues of local interest.
Útlægr - Known as 'The Outlawed', these criminals are beyond the law. A punishment for certain serious crimes. A útlægr has no right to wergild if slain, and his killer need not announce the deed.
Vargr - Kaeriolian for 'wolf', this term is often used when referring to outlaws and bandits, as well as more mundane wolves. This term is used by the Wolf Brothers when referring to corsairs or pirates.
Wergild - The amount of compensation paid by a person committing an offense to the injured party or, in case of death, to his family.
"We speak well of the Sons of Russ, for they too are borne of the Emperor's Thunder, and bring His light to the stars beyond. Still, their barbarity and lack of discipline is unbecoming, for while it may make one a fine tavern brawler, such boorish behavior is ill suited for a soldier of a Legionary's status."