Logan Grimnar – the Fangfather, the Old Wolf, the High King of Fenris – was dead.
So the daemons said. They howled and shrieked and gibbered the news from warp-spawned throats that shouldn’t have been capable of intelligible words. But the servants of the Dark Gods had never concerned themselves with nature’s constraints.
Logan Grimnar is dead!
‘They lie,’ Sven growled. The young Wolf Lord was clutching his doubled-headed battleaxe, Frostclaw, with such intensity that his whole armoured body was shaking. ‘They lie.’
‘They are warp-scum,’ Olaf Blackstone said. ‘Lying is the sole reason for their existence.’ The white-pelted Bloodguard stood behind and slightly to the right of his lord, yellow eyes surveying the bleak hills that lay barely a mile across the icy sea. Those hills now undulated with a living carpet of daemons, like an infestation of lice swarming over a rotting skull. They had appeared not half an hour before, crawling like primordial nightmares from the depths of Svellgard’s oceans. They were massing for an attack, cohorts of lesser daemons marshalling beneath the nightmarish banners of their gods, and as they did so their deranged shrieks carried across the cold waters to Sven and the rest of his Firehowler Space Wolves.
‘They’re trying to provoke us,’ Olaf said. ‘Hoping we divide our forces.’
Sven Bloodhowl opened his mouth to reply, then paused as the hammering of bolter fire broke out behind him. His Great Company were still purging the last of the defences at the heart of the World Wolf’s Lair, burning the shrieking daemons from their holes with gouts of blazing promethium before mowing them down with bolter fire. Progress reports trickled back constantly over the vox as the noose tightened around the last wyrd-spawn left in the depths of the fortified missile control nexus. Nine packs, the entirety of Sven’s Great Company, were stalking the bunkers, redoubts and weapon emplacements arrayed in concentric circles around the rockcrete keep dominating the island’s centre. They would not stop until they had hunted down every last creature from the first daemonic wave to have overrun the island.
‘I’m provoked,’ Sven said as the bolter echoes were snatched away by Svellgard’s cruel wind. ‘What’s the status of the Drakebanes?’
‘Ten of the pups still able to wield a chainsword.’
‘And the Firestones?’
‘Only five. Wergid is among the dead. The survivors are still hungry though. As are our Wulfen.’
‘Then you shall lead them, Olaf. Vox Torvind, Kregga, Uuntir and Istun. Have them return from the central bunkers and assemble here. And two thunderhawks.’
‘The Godspear and the Wolfdawn have both refuelled and rearmed. They are inbound from the fleet, expected arrival in ten minutes.’
‘Then they shall be the vehicles of our wrath. A wolf should never suffer a liar.’
In truth, Sven had not killed enough today. His heart still raced and his fingers itched. The thought of wyrdling filth defiling not just Svellgard, but all the worlds of his home system brought up an instinctive urge to lash out. He had not had word from any of the other battle-zones for hours – as far as he was aware Harald Deathwolf was still consolidating on nearby Frostheim, while Egil Iron Wolf and the Great Wolf were engaged on Midgardia. The daemonic taunts reached him again from across the narrow sea, and he shuddered.
They were wrong. Logan Grimnar was not dead. He couldn’t be.
‘To attack is unwise, my jarl,’ Olaf said, still watching the nearby island. ‘There are doubtless more such filth spawning from the rifts below the waves all about us. If we split our forces we invite annihilation.’
Sven turned to face his old packmate, and although rage still burned in the Wolf Lord’s grey eyes, his tattooed features and strong, stubble-lined jaw were clenched with a tight smile.
‘Are your fangs getting too long for all this, Olaf?’ he asked. The Bloodguard champion returned his gaze levelly, without expression, too old to be so easily drawn.
‘Don’t tell me a hundred-odd kills are enough to sate you for one day?’ Sven pressed. ‘If the Bloodguard aren’t with me I’m sure the Oathbound would take your place? Or the Firewyrms?’
Olaf still said nothing, but there was a chill whisper of naked steel as his wolf claws slid free from his gauntlets.
‘If you wish to teach monsters not to lie,’ the Bloodguard said. ‘Then I will be as happy as ever to assist with the lesson.’