Come loremasters. Today we delve deep into the living link of the Space Wolves to the days of the Emperor – Bjorn the Fell Handed
Bjorn the Fell-Handed is an ancient Space Wolves Dreadnought. Among the Sons of Fenris he holds many titles: “Eldest”, “Trueclaw”, “Revered One” and “Last of the Company of Russ” among them. He is the oldest warrior in the Imperium, and has been the salvation of his Chapter time and time again.
The Great Crusade
The first currently recorded mention of Bjorn in Imperial records occurs towards the end of the Great Crusade. Bjorn was responsible for saving the lives of the off-world conservator Kasper Hawser, as well as two Fenrisian natives, after they became embroiled in a tribal dispute over Hawser’s fate. Bjorn saved Hawser only because he himself had been responsible for mistakenly shooting down the conservator’s craft, and only grudgingly rescued the two natives at Hawser’s insistence. In time, both of these natives would attempt to join the ranks of the Space Wolves, (with one – Fith – succeeding) and Hawser himself would go onto become skjald of Bjorn’s Company.
Bjorn is then recorded as being present, along with the rest of Tra – 3rd Company – during their assaults upon the Olamic Quietude xenos civilisation in support of the 40th Expedition Fleet. Tra were then summoned to the world of Nikaea, due to their skjald’s presence having been requested by their Primarch, Leman Russ. Bjorn was part of the honour guard who landed upon Nikea, and later – as part of his sworn bond to protect Hawser – entered into combat with a being who appeared to be Captain Amon of the Thousand Sons, eventually driving him off.
The Horus Heresy and The Scouring
When the judgement of Nikaea ultimately led to the Space Wolves being ordered to sanction Magnus the Red and his Thousand Sons, Bjorn was once again present as part of Tra, and took part in the Battle of Prospero. It was during this battle that he is reckoned to have lost his left arm, although the precise circumstances of this event vary from account to account. Bjorn also helped rouse Russ from his despair during the Battle of the Alaxxes Nebula, convincing the Wolf King to forge his own path instead of blindly serving as the Emperor’s Executioner.
It was whilst undertaking an attack on the acrid, volcanic world of Gryth that events were to take a tragic turn. Bjorn’s pack had humbled tyrants, butchered aliens beyond counting, and even hewn down their brother Space Marines that had fallen from the Emperor’s grace; yet against the Daemon king, Arvax the Arch-slaughterer, they knew only death. That Bjorn actually survived the massacre of his kinsmen was a testament to his exceptional skills as a warrior, for all others who faced the mighty Daemon of Khorne that fateful day joined Bjorn’s packmates in death. Though the arrival of Leman Russ saw the Space Wolves ultimately emerge victorious against the daemonic host, it was Bjorn who finally drove the seemingly unstoppable Daemon general from the field. Despite his victory of sorts, Bjorn never forgave himself for the loss of his kinsmen, nor the fact that he alone yet lived having been denied a magnificent death. In the hours that followed the battle, Bjorn became increasingly melancholy, refusing to accept the hearty approval of those that had witnessed his heroic battle against the Daemon king. As he witnessed his packmates burn atop the victory pyres, he gave voice to a long, mournful howl. Kneeling before the bodies of his burning kinsmen, he swore a grave oath of vengeance against their slayer.
To Bjorn’s continued frustration, it was to be five long years before word of Arvax’s location surfaced once more. Russ immediately led his Wolves to destroy the foul creature, determined to personally slay the Daemon king himself and avenge those who had died during their last encounter. Yet in this goal, the Primarch was to be denied, for Bjorn too sought out his nemesis and, as fate would have it, was the first to face Arvax in battle. As the Wolf-King tore through the Khornate horde towards his quarry, he witnessed Bjorn’s duel first-hand. Russ could only look on pride as Bjorn deftly rolled beneath a blow attempting to cut him in half, then clambered up the Daemon’s towering frame to tear out the Arch-slaughterer’s throat with his trusty wolf claw. In the aftermath of the battle, Russ came to Bjorn in person and exonerated him in front of the entire Chapter, holding his oath fulfilled. Setting a precedent that still exists to this day, the Wolf-King promoted Bjorn to his personal Wolf Guard, naming him the ‘Fell-handed’ in honour of his mighty deed. The Skjalds of the Chapter hold that it was the sense of loss and tragedy that Bjorn had already experienced and learned to master that influenced Russ’ decision to leave him behind when he set forth on his last, fateful journey to the Eye of Terror. Of all of the Primarch’s Wolf Guard, he alone had shown such strength of purpose and determination in his darkest hour; he alone would understand the lonely burden of command.
In the Battle of the Alaxxes Nebula that saw the Wolves ambushed by the Alpha Legion in the aftermath of the Burning of Prospero, Bjorn again saw battle. Defending his ship Helridderfrom Alpha Legion boarders, Bjorn and his pack made their way to Russ’ flagship Hrafnkel where they were narrowly saved from a traitor Contemptor Dreadnought by the Wolf King himself.
Later during the aftermath of the Horus Heresy, Bjorn sought to rebuild the Imperium with such conviction that Leman Russ elevated him to his personal retinue. He was the only member of Leman Russ’s personal Wolf Guard that was left behind when Russ departed for the Eye of Terror, and he still harbors intense feelings of rejection and bitterness when he tells of this day. After Russ’s disappearance, he assumed the Primarch’s leadership of the Space Wolves, becoming the Chapter’s first Great Wolf. His heroic career at the head of the Space Wolves ended during a raid against a fortress during the Proxima Rebellion in 934.M31, when he was so severely wounded and crippled that he was beyond the aid of the chapter’s Apothecaries, and his paralyzed body was transplanted within a Dreadnought. Over the following five hundred years he remained at the forefront of battle. Eventually however, the long years took their toll on the warrior, and he began spending longer and longer periods dormant in stasis sleep.
Appearance and Abilities
According to the records provided by Kasper Hawser, Bjorn possessed black, braided hair, and was notably sullen and quick to irritation. Hawser theorised however, that Bjorn’s naturally negative attitude was probably worse in his presence due to the manner of their first meeting.
As a Dreadnought, in M32 Bjorn was said to inhabit one of the most technologically advanced sarcophagi in existence, possessed of abilities considered rare even during the Horus Heresy. Noted for its ornamentation – which Bjorn despised – the Dreadnought chassis was capable of giving Bjorn much faster movement, reaction times, and sensory input than one would expect from such a brutal-looking construction. This allowed Bjorn to fight much as he always did when in the thick of combat; upon instinct. Armed with a Plasma Cannon during this time, Bjorn was reckoned to have a personal kill-count higher than that of some entire Chapters. His sullen nature only exacerbated by Dreadnought interment, Bjorn was possessed of a powerful, bitter, anger at not only his Dreadnought status, but that he did not know why Leman Russ, whom he loved above all others and more than all others, had left without explanation, apparently without thinking of those left behind. Bjorn believed that the Russ had left him behind with the foreknowledge that Bjorn would survive as a Dreadnought and that his incomparably cold anger would keep him not only alive in battle, but sane of mind and therefore able to guard over the Space Wolves throughout the generations.
Bjorn is thought to have gained the moniker “Fell Handed” partly because he used a lightning claw, but mostly because of what happened during the scouring of Prospero, which occurred during the beginning of the Horus Heresy. It was there he lost his arm due to the machinations of Chaos.
Want to learn more about Bjorn? Check out the Lexicanum!
~ For Russ and the Allfather!