|This article is about the Space Wolves Dreadnought; for the Wolf Lord, see Bjorn Stormwolf.|
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.[3a]
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. [3b]
The Horus Heresy and The Great 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 (see Notes).[3c] 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 Helridder from 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. Russ elevated Bjorn to his Einherjar afterwards, though neither really knew why save for the fact that Bjorn's wyrd (or fate) would be important in the future.[11a]
Bjorn later accompanied Russ to Fenris, where he, Kva, and seven other Rune Priests led a ritual at Syrtyr's Door. Russ journeyed into the Underverse but before he left he told Bjorn to not turn around until he returned no matter what. While Russ was away Daemons claimed the Rune Priests, including Kva, one by one but Bjorn did not turn around. Finally he was confronted by Russ, who told him to turn, but Bjorn realized that this too was a Daemon and resisted the temptation to turn. Bjorn was about to be slain by the Daemon when the real Russ returned, killing the creature with the Spear of Russ.[11a] Bjorn took part in the subsequent Battle of Trisolian, dragging the badly wounded Russ back to the Hrafnkel thanks to the sacrifice of Grimnir Blackblood.[11b]
During the Battle of Yarant, a badly wounded Russ gave Bjorn the Spear of Russ and command of the legion during their apparent last stand. However Bjorn's end did not come at Yarant, as he was convinced by Corvus Corax to evacuate the world from besieging traitor forces.
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.
The Battle of the Fang
The first particularly notable time he was awoken from stasis currently known of was during the first Battle of the Fang in M32. At this time, as part of a scheme to permanently deny the Space Wolves the ability to produce Successor Chapters, as well as gain a measure of revenge for the Burning of Prospero, Magnus the Red and the Thousand Sons invaded Fenris, the homeworld of the Space Wolves. Before falling on the world, Magnus had ensured that the bulk of the Space Wolves Chapter would be off-planet; The Fang was defended by only one Great Company of Adeptus Astartes, as well as their serfs and mortal soldiery. Also present were several of the Space Wolves' Revered Fallen, chief amongst whom was Bjorn the Fell-Handed. Under orders from Jarl Greyloc, Bjorn was awoken.[4b]
Once appraised of the tactical situation, Bjorn was swift to anger - as much that he had not been consulted by the current Great Wolf as to the sense of sending eleven twelfths of the Rout on a single mission as by the presence of the invaders - and took the position of honour amongst the commanding officers. There, Bjorn discerned the Thousand Sons attack strategy and planned the defence of the Fang accordingly. His presence proved invaluable when the Thousand Sons deployed Cataphract robots as part of their assault; these robots caused considerable havoc amongst the defenders until Bjorn stepped in.[4c]
Eventually, Magnus the Red took to the field of battle himself, manifesting in the upper reaches of the Fang. Deep below, his arrival was felt not only by the Rune Priests of the Space Wolves, by but Bjorn as well. Bjorn immediately moved to intercept the daemon-primarch. Arriving too late to stop Magnus from achieving his twisted ends, the Fell-Handed nevertheless strode into battle with the Crimson King, duelling him from the ruins of a hangar bay out onto the open slopes of the Fang itself. Injuring Magnus with both fire and blade, Bjorn's strikes helped to inflict the greatest damage upon Magnus that the daemon-primarch had suffered since the Heresy. Even after Magnus destroyed both of Bjorn's weapon-arms, Bjorn attempted to continue the fight, trying to knock Magnus over the edge of the cliff they battled upon. Taking the upper hand, Magnus, recognising Bjorn's soul as one he sensed during the Battle of Prospero, was only prevented from slaying him by the sudden arrival of the Great Wolf, Harek Ironhelm. Bjorn was taken out of the fight in the events that followed, but survived to witness victory and to watch over the rebuilding of his Space Wolves.[4d]
Clash with the Inquisition
Though not awakened for the First War for Armageddon, Bjorn was made active once more in its aftermath, the Months of Shame. Specifically, he was awoken by the Space Wolves garrisoning Fenris to negotiate an end to the conflict with the Inquisition, who had come to besiege Fenris at the height of the conflict. Bjorn proved to be less hot-headed then Grimnar, and was responsible for ending the conflict after the Logan killed Lord Inquisitor Ghesmei Kysnaros aboard the Inquisitor's flagship by convincing both sides to stand down. Bjorn's only demand from the Ordo Malleus — besides that it never return to Fenris - was a Grey Knight come down with him to The Fang and speak of their order, as the Wolves would forever remember them. The events saw the first time Bjorn ever used a teleporter, something he always was hesitant of.[5a]
Now he is only awakened once every thousand years, or when the chapter has the greatest need of his potent skills and wisdom. He is also awakened at the dawn of each new century to hold court at the Great Feast, where he recounts elements from his own saga to his battle-brothers. He represents the Chapter's link to the past, and is revered by the Space Wolves as a hero almost as much as Leman Russ.
So ancient and powerful was Bjorn’s spirit that, while he slept in a Dreadnought sarcophagus, he had stood vigil from atop the hexagrammic ramparts of The Fang’s echo in the Warp. Thus Bjorn has become a defender of the Fang and Fenris itself, battling the attempts of Daemons to materialize in the realm of the Wolves.
Outside the Chapter, he is scarcely less revered, as a legendary warrior and a link to the distant past when the Emperor walked among his people. Even Inquisitor Lord Ghesmei Kysnaros, and Hyperion of the Grey Knights felt compelled to kneel before the ancient Dreadnought when they learned his identity - a gesture which Bjorn found exasperating.[5b]
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.[3d]
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.[4e]
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.[3x]
Bjorn translates into "bear" in all Scandinavian languages, such as björn (Swedish) and bjørn (Danish/Norwegian).[Needs Citation]
There are differing accounts as to how exactly Bjorn lost his arm. In one, Kasper Hawser, skjald of Tra, partook in the burning of Prospero. Encountering a daemon that had shaped itself into the form of the Warmaster Horus within a structure that was built by the Thousand Sons, he attempted to battle it into submission. Realizing that he could not win, he called for aid, and several members of Tra came to assist him. All of them fell to the daemon, owing to the fact that (thanks to a psychic link with Hawser) it knew all of their names; with that knowledge comes mortal power over the individual. As the daemon advanced on Hawser, a Space Wolf known to Hawser as Bear cut off the daemon's arm. It attempted to claim power over the Space Wolf by calling out his name - Bear - but to no avail. Eventually, however, the daemon overwhelmed Bear, and with a word of power, spread eldritch bale-fire to Bear's left arm. Hawser took up his axe and cut off Bear's arm just beneath the elbow, likely saving his life. As this event occurred, several dreadnoughts and rune priests along with members of the Silent Sisterhood came to confront the daemon. With the aid of the Sisterhood, the Wolves were able to banish it from the material realm. Hawser later learned that the daemon had been unable to gain power over Bear because that was not in fact the Space Wolf's true name; Hawser had mistakenly been referring to him by the Low Gothic translation of his name since they had first met. Bear's true name...was Bjorn.[3c]
Interestingly, this is contradicting in itself, because Bjorn or Björn, in all scandinavian languages (swedish, islandic, norwegian, danish) means bear, which means the daemon would have had power over him.
Another account says that his left hand was corrupted by psychic feedback from a sorcerer of the Thousand Sons he had just slain. As the corruption crept up along his arm, Chief Custodian Constantin Valdor cut it off, saving Bjorn.
- 1: Horus Heresy (Artbook Series): Collected Visions, pg. 240
- 2: Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pg. 49
- 3: Prospero Burns (Novel)
- 4: Battle of the Fang (Novel)
- 5: The Emperor's Gift (Novel)
- 6: Index Astartes - Lone Wolves — Background
- 7: Wolf King (Novella),[Needs Citation]
- 8: Scars (Novel),[Needs Citation]
- 9: War Zone Fenris: Curse of the Wulfen, Chapter 3
- 10: Corax (Anthology) — The Weregeld
- 11: Wolfsbane (Novel)