- "Fenris breeds heroes like a bar breeds drunks -- loud, proud and spoiling for a fight."
Fenris is the Death World in the Segmentum Obscurus that is the homeworld and recruiting ground for the Vlka Fenryka, the Space Wolves Space Marines Chapter. It was also the homeworld of the Space Wolves' Primarch Leman Russ. Fenris is the location of The Fang, the Space Wolves' massive fortress-monastery, considered by many Imperial savants the greatest bastion of the Imperium of Man outside of the Imperial Palace on Terra itself.
Fenris takes its name from the mythical Norse wolf fathered by the god of tricksters, Loki, that would assault the Norse gods during the Final Battle of Ragnarok. Most of the names of locations on Fenris are also drawn from the Norse mythology and languages of Old Earth. Its single moon is called Valdrmani, the "Wolf's Moon."
Fenris is situated in the galactic south of the Segmentum Obscurus, at the end of the Warp rift known as the Eye of Terror, from which come the Forces of Chaos to raid and pillage. Fenris thus lies at the forefront of the Imperium's defence against Chaos.
The Space Wolves maintain the vigil that began many millennia ago at the close of the Horus Heresy and watch over a hundred other nearby worlds besides. Their demesne stretches far and wide across the scattered stars that girdle the Fenris System, but it is the bitterly cold Death World at its heart that the Space Wolves proudly call home.
- The Primarch Departs (211.M31) - During the 197th Feast of the Emperor's Ascension on Fenris, Leman Russ gathers his closest retainers and departs for the Eye of Terror without explanation.
- The First Battle for The Fang (742.M32) - Magnus the Red appears to Great Wolf Harek Ironhelm in a series of visions. Haunted by his dreams, Ironhelm becomes increasingly determined to bring the Thousand Sons to battle and finish what the Space Wolves started at Prospero more than a thousand standard years before. After receiving word that the Traitors are massing on the world of Gangava, Ironhelm launches a full attack without hesitation, leading eleven entire Great Companies into battle. Having laid his plans over hundreds of Terran years, Magnus the Red arrives on Fenris with the remaining fighting strength of his Traitor Legion. Only a single Great Company remains to defend The Fang, and Bjorn the Fell-Handed is roused from his slumber to lead a guerrilla campaign against the Traitor forces. The Thousand Sons breach the great gate of The Fang, but not before the Wolf Scout Haakon Blackwing escapes the siege to bring word to the rest of the Chapter. The Space Wolves return in force to drive their hated enemies from their homeworld. Harek Ironhelm faces Magnus in personal combat, but is struck down before mighty Bjorn banishes the Primarch in turn.
- The Plague of Unbelief (310-334.M36) - Having gathered a vast army of deluded zealots to his cause, the Apostate Cardinal, Bucharis of Gathalamor, leads his unholy crusade towards Terra during the time of turmoil known as the Plague of Unbelief. After spending many years carving a path across the galaxy, Bucharis lays siege to the Space Wolves' homeworld in order to secure a safe route towards the heart of the Imperium. Bucharis is confident that the seemingly inexhaustible forces at his disposal will soon secure him victory. He is mistaken. After a grueling three-year siege in which the Renegade forces suffer massive losses, Wolf Lord Kyrl Grimblood returns to Fenris following the conclusion of his campaign in the Eye of Terror and smashes into the rear of the Traitor lines. Caught between the impenetrable defences of The Fang and Grimblood's fleet, Bucharis' armada is forced to withdraw from Fenris, abandoning a large part of their fighting strength to their fate.
- Months of Shame (444.M41) - The dispute between the Inquisition and the Space Wolves after the First War for Armageddon when the Inquisition sterilised Armageddon's population and placed them within labour camps after witnessing an assault by the Daemon Primarch Angron culminated in a short battle in orbit above Fenris between the opposed Imperial forces.
- Drukhari Raids (641.M41) - Fenris is raided by a collection of Drukhari Kabals led by Duke Traevelliath Sliscus and his Corsairs, the Sky Serpents. The Dark Eldar were driven off with significant losses but managed to capture a number of tribesmen and Space Wolf Aspirants from Asaheim to serve as their slaves.
- The Ecclesiarchy Comes to Fenris (886.M41) - A delegation of Ecclesiarchy officials approached Fenris, intending to assess the Space Wolves after hearing rumours of their worship of false gods. Logan Grimnar refuses to meet their demands when they command him to open the gates of The Fang and undergo interrogation. Foolishly, the Ecclesiarchy decide to press the matter and when their envoy Cruiser is destroyed trying to dock with The Fang the rest of the Adeptus Ministorum officials retreat, finally realising the Great Wolf is not be trifled with. However, it is not a lesson learned, and almost a standard year later the Ecclesiarchy and three Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas attempt to enter Fenrisian space in force. The resultant war lasts for three solar weeks before the Ecclesiarchy decides to let sleeping dogs lie and withdraws its forces.
- Battle for Midgardia (933.M41) - A Necron fleet led by Trazyn the Infinite descends upon the world of Midgardia in the Fenris System. The Necron Overlord seeks a shard of the C'tan Nyadra'zatha that slumbers in the core of the Fenrisian planet. Angered by the audacity of his foes, Logan Grimnar leads a huge force against the Necrons, turning the toxic jungles and subterranean cities of Midgardia into a bitter and brutal warzone.
- Siege of the Fenris System (999.M41) - As the entire Fenris System is assailed by the forces of Chaos, Fenris itself is bombarded by a coalition of Space Marines led by the Dark Angels, the Space Wolves' traditional rivals. Ultimately much of the world is subjected to a massive invasion by the Heretic Astartes of the Thousand Sons and daemonic invasion led by Magnus the Red himself before the Space Wolves under Logan Grimnar triumph. Much of Fenris' tribal population is liquidated by the Ordo Malleus much as happened after the First War for Armageddon in the aftermath of their witnessing the existence of the Daemon Primarch Magnus.
Notable Regions and Landmarks of Fenris
Asaheim and The Fang
Native Fenrisians are used to the pattern of destruction that engulfs their planet every Great Year and have learned to love the endless mutability of their lands with a fierce warrior pride. Only on the northern polar continent of Asaheim are the human populations of Fenris protected from the extreme climate. Here there are many unique creatures not able to live elsewhere on the world.
These include massive ice bears, gigantic elk and shaggy mastodons as well as stranger creatures such as the snow trolls, shape-changing dopplegangrels and the great white wyrms that burrow through the glaciers and fjords. The deadliest creatures are the native semi-sentient Fenrisian Wolves themselves, for their wits are as sharp as their teeth and the largest of their number is the equal of any of the great predators that slither and stalk through the icy Fenrisian wastes.
Yet Asaheim is remote, surrounded by towering cliffs that rise thousands of feet into the air above the seas and separate it from the oceans. Its fabled land mass provides no refuge for those that live beyond its rocky confines. To a Fenrisian tribesman, it is truly the land of the gods.
The Space Wolves' fortress-monastery, known widely across the Imperium as The Fang and the Aett by its inhabitants, is a massive citadel built atop the tallest mountain of Asaheim. This mountain is known by many names, including the Shoulder of the Allfather, and volda hammarki, the World Spine. The Fang is the home base of the Space Wolves and extends into the surrounding mountain range as well as into orbit, drawing energy from the geothermic source of the planet's molten core.
The complex includes huge, ground-based anti-ship orbital defence laser weapons concealed as nearby peaks, docks at the summit for the Space Wolves' Battle Barges and Strike Cruisers, numerous shrines to the Emperor in the guise of the Allfather along the lower slopes, and massive fusion and geothermal reactors deep underground.
Outside of Terra itself, The Fang is considered one of the most impregnable fortresses in the galaxy, constructed by the Mechanicum during the Great Crusade for the Space Wolves on the order of the Emperor using technology that has long since been lost. It has never been conquered, although the Thousand Sons Traitor Legion, the Space Wolves' most hated foes, did manage to briefly occupy the outer slopes of The Fang after luring the bulk of the Space Wolves' forces away from Fenris during the First Battle for The Fang in the 32nd Millennium.
Peaks of the Asaheim Mountains
The great mountain chain known as Asaheim by the tribesemen of Fenris is crowned by seven great peaks. The largest and greatest of these is The Fang, whose uppermost peak breaks free of Fenris' atmosphere. The other six peaks ring Fenris on all sides and are familiar hunting grounds and landmarks for the Space Wolves:
- Ammagrimgul - The northernmost of Asaheim's great peaks.
- Broddja - Situated to the southwest of Ammagrimgul.
- Krakgard - The peak of Krakgard was planed off by the early Space Wolves to serve as a site for funeral ceremonies, where the bodies of fallen Space Wolves can either be interred or burned, as the case might be. Krakgard stands to the southwest of Broddja.
- Friemiaki - Located to the northeast of The Fang.
- The Aett (The Fang) - Situated roughly towards the centre of the peaks of Asaheim, The Fang is undoubtedly the greatest of them and home to the Space Wolves themselves.
- Tror - Tror lies to the southeast of The Fang.
- Asfryk - Asfryk stands almost directly south and slightly west of The Fang.
- Allfather Peak - One of the most legendary peaks of the Asaheim mountain range is Allfather Peak. It is believed by some in the Chapter that the cryo-pod of the infant Leman Russ crashed into the mountain and buried itself deep beneath the peak within a system of hidden caverns. Chapter legend holds that the Glimmerfrost Crystals first began to grow in the caves beneath Allfather Peak after the Emperor was reunited with the Wolf King, a physical manifestation of the Allfather's might and power and an eternal gift to the Chapter that makes the manufacture of its Helfrost Weapons possible.
The Fire Breather
This mighty volcano is surrounded by a handful of hardy and stubborn Fenrisian tribes who risk the fickle wrath of the mountain. Without warning, the Fire Breather will spew forth massive clouds of dense, toxic fumes that can wipe out entire tribes in a matter of solar minutes or the volcano will suddenly and unexpectedly erupt, blanketing the surrounding area in rivers of molten lava and clouds of pyroclastic ash.
Only the extremely brave or very foolish would dare to live in the shadow of this dread mountain, yet there are those who carve out a living on the slopes of the volcano. The tribes surrounding the Fire Breather practice the ritual tattooing of their warriors' flesh to mark deeds of great import, bravery or skill. Wolf Lord Sven Bloodhowl was recruited from amongst the Fire Breather's tribes and has brought some of his old tribal traditions, including the ritual marking of the skin and armour, into the Chapter.
An ancient site honoured by the Thunderfist tribe from which Ragnar Blackmane was recruited. Sited on a relatively stable spur of rock, this towering peak was mounted with a ring of great rune stones, some of which appeared truly ancient, the stone worn by the ages and marked by dirt and moss. How long this ritual site stood, or whether it still stands, is unknown.
Valley of the Burning Stones
This strange and hostile valley was once home to a deviant mountain tribe entirely composed of rogue psykers known as the Vulture Clan. Discovering this den of evil, the Wolf Priests of the Chapter descended in strength and exterminated the clan nearly to the last, gathering up and burning the bodies to leave no trace that they had ever existed. The only ones spared were five boys young enough to potentially become Aspirants to the Chapter.
Despite their deviant heritage, psykers are nevertheless rare and priceless assets to the Chapter. These five were tested, of which three were found to be too far corrupted and were left in the wastes to die of exposure. The fourth died during his proving, but one survived and was ultimately recruited into the Chapter. This sole survivor of the Vulture Clan would come to be known as Rune Priest Ulli Iceclaw, a specialist assigned to the Blackmanes Great Company during the Battle of Alaric Prime.
The Valley of the Burning Stones was an ominous place at the best of times, a deep rift in the mountains of Asaheim where the light of the sun only reached for a single solar hour each day. The far end of the valley was marked by massive peaks of blackened rock and guarded by cairns and watchtowers, the hills scattered with the skulls of the Vulture Clan's enemies.
The clan itself had sheltered in huts made of whale bone and sheathed in the flayed hides of their enemies. The valley earned its name from the ritual sacrifices made by the Vulture Clan. Sacrificial victims would be chained to the rocks above the settlement and ritually burned as offerings to pagan gods -- the Ruinous Powers of Chaos.
The Cavern Cities
The first settlers to arrive on Fenris before the Age of Strife found the surface too inhospitable to properly colonise. Instead the colony ships were salvaged and the colonists built expansive cave cities deep beneath the Asaheim polar continental mountain range. For many Terran years the settlers sheltered beneath the rock, kept safe as the realm of Mankind was sundered in the Age of Catastrophe that was Old Night. Though these cities were safe from the predators and harsh elements of Fenris, they were ultimately abandoned.
Only contradictory legends and rumours now remain to explain why these great shelters were forsaken in favour of living on the unstable surface. Some legends tell that some malevolent force was present in the rock that led to mutation and Chaos worship, while other stories tell of the unleashing of ancient and forbidden weaponry that made the cities unsafe to inhabit.
Ultimately, Leman Russ forbade any Fenrisians from establishing permanent dwellings within the great cave systems or the ruins of these massive subterranean cities. Unfortunately, there will always be those who defy such edicts, for whom the appeal of the forbidden outweighs the danger.
Those who have defied the orders of Russ and chosen to dwell in the caves have over time devolved into foul creatures known as "Nightgangers," horrible monsters with misshapen limbs, pale and diseased skin and massive milky orbs for eyes. Any Fenrisian tribesman with any sense avoids the cave systems of the Asaheim range lest they be dragged into the dark by twisted claws and devoured by the tainted mutants of the deeps.
The Temple of Tzeentch
For centuries, maybe even millennia, a dread temple devoted to the worship of Tzeentch had been hidden beneath the mountains of Fenris, deep beneath the surface of the world in the depths of one of the ancient cave cities built by the first human settlers of the world. The devolved and mutated denizens of this horrible place, the Nightgangers, had over many Terran years built an enormous temple and devoted themselves to the worship of Chaos in the aspect of the Lord of Change.
That such a place could have existed for so long in the very shadow of The Fang was a truly horrific discovery for the Space Wolves when a Pack of newly-inducted Blood Claws that included the young Ragnar Blackmane stumbled upon the temple. So dire was this discovery that the Chapter's commanders chose to awaken the greatest of the Ancients, the Venerable Dreadnought Bjorn the Fell-Handed, to lead the response force to the caverns and destroy the temple.
Ultimately, the corrupt temple was destroyed and the forces of the Thousand Sons driven from the place, but whether any more such sites exist beneath other great caverns is uncertain and the Chapter must remain ever vigilant lest other such sites of insidious worship be revealed.
Tombs of Ancient Kings
Scattered across Fenris are the remnants of ancient tombs, barrows and cairns where the ancient lords of Fenris are buried. Kings, queens, princes and nobles of the tribes were interred in ancient times in stone crypts marked with runes retelling the history and deed of the individuals contained within. It is from these crypts that the Fenrisian tribesmen take their language and the Sky Warriors the runic script central to the practices of the Rune Priests.
Sky Warrior Training Camps
Located in the lowlands of the mountainous polar Asaheim continent are a series of remote training camps where potential Aspirants to the Chapter undergo a series of intensive trials to prove themselves worthy to join the Chapter. Russvik, Grimnir, Valksberg, and other sites like them, are where the young tribesmen chosen by the Wolf Priests are brought to begin their training.
For solar months the Aspirants endure extreme hardships and training that tests them to their very limits, both mentally and physically. The young tribesmen are forced to put aside the greatest differences of their old tribal identities and learn to work and fight together in groups that will in time become the Packs with which they will most likely serve for the rest of their lives.
Should an Aspirant survive this training he will be taken to The Fang to face the Trials of Morkai. Should he pass those, he will then begin the gene-seed implantation process and go through the Blooding that will transform him from a scrawny youth dragged from the ice into a transhuman killing machine of the Adeptus Astartes.
Most of the creatures of Fenris live within the planet's single global ocean, called the "Worldsea" by the Fenrisians, and it is on that vast, grey ocean that the Fenrisians must live and fight if they are to survive. It is not an easy life at the best of times. Many deadly creatures inhabit the Worldsea, ancient and scaly reptilian behemoths that are as large as small islands and can swallow a Fenrisian longship in a single gulp. Others are long and serpentine, with boiling acidic blood and scales that glint like pearls in the sun.
These sea monsters will sometimes pluck a sailor from the deck of a ship and drag him down to his death in the deep, cold waters. Still others are too uncertain in form to describe, as they are many-tentacled monstrosities with razored beaks and cold black eyes that hide in the depths until they rise to the surface to feed. It is against these creatures that the warriors of Fenris match themselves and those that emerge triumphant live forever in the oral legends of their tribe.
To survive on such a world, the Fenrisians must be warriors from the time of their birth to the day of their deaths. This is why the child-gift for both boys and girls is always the axe, and why those children that are not able to grasp it are cast outside to die quickly in the freezing seas. Their survival, and the survival of their fellows, depends upon their wits and determination as much as their skill with sword and spear and axe.
Because their world is almost entirely covered in water, Fenrisians must be masters of the waves, able to fight, navigate and endure through ice storms and tropical squalls. For a large part of each Fenrisian Great Year the tribes endure a savage seaborn existence which often ends in a watery death or in battle against the monstrous creatures of the deep. The competition for food is great and tribes are often drawn into conflict over the planet's precious resources.
The Sea of Storms
In Fenrisian culture most regions of the universe are known as seas. The land of the living is the Sea of Storms, which also serves as the name for the great expanse of oceans that bounds the entire world of Fenris, save only for the sole permanent continent of Asaheim. The void is known as the Sea of Stars while the Warp is often referred to as the Sea of Souls. Most Fenrisians live amongst the Sea of Storms, living their lives on the ice floes, volcanic islands, or aboard great longships.
Isle of the Iron Masters
Home to the only tribe of Fenrisian natives whose technological capacity stands comparable to the ancient Terran Iron Age, the inhabitants of the Isle of the Iron Masters are also unique among Fenrisians in that they do not sail the seas, they do not hunt or raid, for conquest is not in their nature. As laid down in the Ancient Pact of Leman Russ, the Iron Masters are the sole source of metalwork to the Fenrisian natives.
Every season vast fleets of dragonships will risk the torturous and nearly suicidal voyage to the Isle of the Iron Masters on the slopes of Fire Mountain and in sight of the great cliffs of Asaheim. Once they arrive in the Iron Masters' harbour, they are met by belching metal ships powered by steam engines and armed with crude but functional weaponry. Though crude in the extreme compared to even the most humble of Imperial STC-derived technology, these steamships and weapons are nevertheless more than powerful enough to deter even the most hot-headed Fenrisian raider from trying to steal the hordes of the Iron Masters without paying.
Just as surprising to those Fenrisians who have never laid eyes on the isle before is the nature of the Iron Masters' settlement, dressed stone caked in layers of soot and moss built up over many standard centuries and laid out in dense rows of habitats and forges. To the natives of Fenris' volcanic islands, the mere concept of such permanent structures built on one of the world's turbulent islands is horrifying, for a quake could send the ancient structures tumbling down on the inhabitants at any moment.
What the islanders do not initially realise is that the isle of the Iron Masters has been stable for many standard centuries and will be for many more, its people untroubled by the frequent earthquakes, floods and catastrophes commonly suffered by the sea-faring islanders.
Once the dragonships dock at the stone quays, the wide-eyed tribesmen trade furs, salted meats and other goods for precious iron axe and spear blades, far superior weapons to the stone and bone the Fenrisian tribes are otherwise forced to use. Occasionally, young Aspirants like Arjac Rockfist will train with the Iron Makers or the Forge Thralls of the Chapter who work in the Iron Hills, in the shadow of The Fang. To facilitate communication with the Chapter an ancient Vox-relay hub stands at the top of the Iron Masters' harbour settlement.
The Kraken's Spur
This rare island is home to one of the few sites of permanent ruins on the surface of Fenris. When under the surface of the waves, the site serves as a great graveyard for the deadly kraken that stalk the oceans of Fenris. The largest kraken can grow to a length of many kilometres long and possess fangs ranging in size from a knife or spear blade to a sword in length.
From time to time, this great spur of rock will rise to the surface, pushed above the waves by the grinding tectonic movements of Fenris during the Season of Fire. The rise of the Kraken Spur is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the island tribes. Scattered across the spur are the bones of countless kraken, deposited over thousands of standard years beneath the waves. The bones and fangs of these kraken remains can be used to craft priceless weapons and tools, ship hulls that are lighter and far sturdier than any others and weapons that are sharper and harder than the crude bone and iron blades typical to the island tribes.
If that were not enough to make the Kraken's Spur a prize of inordinate value to the island tribes, the spur is also the site of an ancient stone ruin known as the Temple of Morkai. Who built this temple, when they built it, or why, are mysterious to the Fenrisians and even to the Space Wolves. What is important to the tribes is that the ruins are home to vast treasures left behind in ages past.
The Shark's Reach Fjords
This region of Fenris is home to a number of tribes who make a living around the hostile shallow waters and river crossings. These tribes are known for their fierce pride and deeply ingrained sense of honour. No tribesmen of the fjords will do to a brother what they will not do to themselves and any loss or injury they cause to another they inflict on themselves in return. This self-destructive sense of honour is compounded by a fierce pride and need to respond to any perceived slight. This makes the tribesmen of the fjords fierce warriors, but their pride is all too often their own undoing.
- "It is said that in the Time of Making, the Allfather cast the sphere of Fenris into the Sea of Stars, reckoning it to be no place fit for life. Fenris felt the cold of the dark and ran back to the warmth of the Wolf's Eye. The heat of the eye proved too great, and Fenris fled into the outer dark once again. So it is each Great Year that Fenris races towards the sun in summer and flees again, plunging all into the cold embrace of winter."
- —The Telling of Haakon Yellow-Eye
There are many Death Worlds in the Imperium, whose wildlife, native flora or esoteric nature make them inimical to human life. Even in such baleful company, Fenris is amongst the very worst. It is a world of fire and ice, of wolves and dragons. It is one of the most inhospitable planets in the universe, yet the folk of Fenris not only endure, but thrive.
A planet of fire and ice, dominated by extremes of climate, Fenris is listed in the Apocrypha of Skaros as one of the three most deadly and turbulent worlds inhabited by humanity in the Milky Way Galaxy. This Death World is the Chapter Planet of the mighty Space Wolves Space Marine Chapter. Fenris follows a highly eccentric elliptical orbit around its pale red K-class sun, called the Wolf's Eye, that takes approximately two Terran standard years to complete.
This period of time is known as a "Great Year" to the people of Fenris. For much of each long local year the world is remote from even this feeble star, and its surface remains incredibly cold. The oceans freeze over as Fenris draws away from its sun, and at its farthest point even the equatorial seas are covered with ice.
The volcanic activity of the bleak mountains that punctuate the waters are stilled so that at the height of the Fenrisian winter a man can walk between the many isles upon which the Fenrisians dwell. Indeed, it is said that Sigurd the Tall climbed from the girdle of the world to the peaks of the stable polar continent of Asaheim in the far north, and that this mighty deed earned him a place in the halls of the gods.
Towards the end of the Fenrisian Great Year, as the planet sweeps close to its sun once more, the Wolf's Eye swells in the sky and the brief spring warms the surface. During this period, the ice retreats to the world's poles and the gargantuan dwellers of the deep waters emerge to enjoy the bounty of sun-spawned kryll (a type of plankton), bladefish and other short-lived aquatic fauna.
As Fenris reaches the point at which it is closest to its sun, the passage of the planet so near the star produces tidal forces that break and twist the sub-oceanic crust, exposing Fenris' molten mantle to the frigid waters. It is then that the time of fire and water, the "Season of Fire," has arrived.
With explosive violence, the world is torn asunder. Blazing islands rise from the steaming sea spewing flames, with lava pouring down their slopes. Below the surface, the waters boil into steam that engulfs Fenris with its sulphurous fumes. Great tidal waves scour the coastlines of Asaheim and the islands. Islands created in the upheavals of preceding years are cast into turmoil by this global transformation. Some endure, but many are broken apart or swallowed by the seas, engulfed in the churning waters and casting their unlucky inhabitants into the deeps.
But the great lump of solid granite the Fenrisian tribesmen know as the polar continent of Asaheim always stands fast, a single, changeless continent on a world of fire, ice, ruin and torment. This extreme geography has resulted in the human population of Fenris becoming one composed largely of primitive, nomadic, barbarian tribes who barely approximate an Iron Age level of development. The tribes constantly seek secure territory, and as a result skirmishes and feuds over land between rival tribes are common. The Fenrisian people are hardened to the changes in temperature and environmental extremes, and so is the native fauna.
Fenris has little natural flora, being a world defined by immensely frigid winters and volcanically destructive summers.
Many studies conducted by the Adeptus Mechanicus have determined that the animal life of Fenris is the most dangerous found on any Imperial world, including that of Catachan. The most dangerous species of animal life on Fenris include:
- Bladefish - Though dangerous like most things on Fenris, these relatively small fish are consumed in vast quantities by the larger predators of Fenris' oceans during the Season of Fire.
- Carnyx - Mammal native to Fenris, the carnyx's horns are much sought after for their use as drinking horns and armour ornamentations.
- Drakes - Drakes are great flying reptiles that resemble the ancient Terran legend of the dragon, who often hunt using the hot air currents generated by volcanic eruptions and lava flows.
- Fenrisian Giant Elk - Fenrisian giant elks are massive mammalian quadrupeds whose towering racks of antlers are razor sharp and can cut a man to pieces within seconds. They are a larger breed than their distant cousins that once roamed Terra long ago, but are far larger creatures and more fearsome and aggressive than their extinct predecessors.
- Fenrisian Mammoth - The Fenrisian mammoth is a gigantic shaggy quadruped evolutionarily homologous to the ancient and extinct Terran mastodon. It can crush a man beneath its great padded feet or skewer him on its long ivory tusks.
- Fenrisian Wolf - The Fenrisian Wolf is a semi-sentient carnivore similar in appearance to the Terran dire wolf that grows in size from that of a small horse up to that of an Imperial armoured vehicle. They are considered among the most intelligent and deadly of predators in the galaxy and make use of chillingly efficient pack-hunting strategies. The Primarch Leman Russ was said to have been raised as an infant by a female Fenrisian Wolf and to have kept as his companions two of the largest examples of the species, named Freki and Geri.
- Blackmane Wolves - Reputably the largest sub-species of Fenrisian Wolves, the mighty Blackmane wolf can grow to be as large as a Rhino armoured personnel carrier.
- Thunderwolves - A sub-species of the Fenrisian Wolf, the Thunderwolves are massive beasts, so large and strong that they can be used as mounts by fully-armored Space Marines.
- Fjorulalli - Known to native Fenrisians as the Great Seal-Mother.
- Great White Bears - Fenrisian great white bears are monstrous carnivores similar to the Terran polar bear who are large enough to assault human buildings.
- Gyrfalkon - One of the few avian species capable of surviving on Fenris, they are grey in color and swift in the hunt. The Gyrfalkon, like almost every species on Fenris, is a skilled predator.
- Gyrhawk - A predator bird native to Fenris.
- Hoggorm - A poisonous serpent native to Fenris.
- Hrossvalur - Sea creatures native to Fenris.
- Hvaluri - Massive sea beasts native to Fenris.
- Ice Fiend - The ice fiend is a great, bipedal, white-furred carnivorous primate very similar to the creatures known as the yeti in ancient Terran folk tales. They are approximately the height of an Astartes (about 7 feet) and their blood is known to be extremely acidic.
- Ice Trolls - Ice trolls are even larger relatives of the ice fiend who dwell on the continent of Asaheim and are semi-sentient to boot. They stand taller than a Dreadnought and use trees as clubs, whilst their jaws are so formidable that they can crack even ceramite. They present a constant danger to anyone moving openly across the glaciers of the northern continent, including Space Wolves Astartes and Neophytes.
- Ice Wyrm - The ice wyrm is a massive, white, fur-covered reptile similar to a giant snake that makes its lair deep beneath the glaciers of Asaheim. It emerges from the ice to strike at any prey that it senses walking across its frigid home.
- Konungur - A rare breed of mammalian beast native to the mountains of Fenris. Extremely hardy, the Konungur have twisted horns, rear legs the width of a man's waist, fused rib cages, spiked spinal ridges and hooves and no less than four lungs to breath the thin air of the Fenrisian mountains.
- Kraken - A kraken is a massive carnivorous sea species similar to a giant Terran squid, who are denizens of Fenris' great oceans. Some Tech-priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus believe they may have evolved from a feral Tyranid bioform adapted for underwater combat that lost its connection to the Hive Mind many thousands of standard years ago.
- Kroxar - Predator beasts native to Fenris that are often hunted in ritual combat.
- Kryll - These aquatic creatures similar to Terran plankton and krill that are native to Fenris' seas are consumed in great masses by the larger oceanic predators during the Season of Fire.
- Ripperfish - A Ripperfish is an aquatic carnivorous fish similar to a barracuda but much larger in size that can flense the flesh from a man's bones in mere seconds.
- Saenyeti - A mammal native to Fenris that is part bison/part elk. The saenyeti are massive and aggressive beasts with immense horns that act as sonic sensors.
- Sea Dragon - The sea dragon is a monstrously large reptilian predator that lives in the Fenrisian Worldsea. It is hunted by the Fenrisian tribes for its strong hide, which is used in the construction of longships and houses.
- Sea-Orm - Sea serpents that are native to the great oceans of Fenris.
- Skriekre - Prey animal that is native to Fenris.
- Tilbrád - A small and agile prey beast native to the islands of Fenris.
Notable Beasts of Fenris
While the wolves of Fenrisian myths hold an important place in the beliefs of the tribes and the Chapter, the Death World of Fenris is also home to many other dread creatures, many of which have accrued legends and myths of their own:
- Iron-Scale Kraken - This mighty beast was said to have been amongst the greatest and deadliest of its kind. Too tough to slay on the open ocean, it is said that Russ dragged the creature out of the oceans and onto dry land where he could more easily slay it.
- The Beast of the Black Fjord - A terrifying monster inhabiting a dark river of Fenris, this dread beast is said to have been lured out of its lair by Hef Shattertusk.
- The Thunderwolf Fellclaw - This mighty predator once terrorised the lowlands of the continent of Asaheim, leading the Great Wolf Logan Grimnar to personally hunt down and slay the beast. After a brutal fight, Grimnar slew Fellclaw but was then forced to take shelter in a nearby cave because of an approaching blizzard. Within, Grimnar discovered a pair of cubs that must have belonged to Fellclaw. Rather than leave them, Grimnar adopted the pups and raised them as his own battle companions. Now the teeth of Fellclaw serve as a mighty token of Grimnar's faith spread amongst his company while the wolf's pelt adorns his back and its skull sits over his shoulders.
- The Ice Wyrm Witherwing - One of the most dreaded of the great drakes inhabiting the highest peaks of the Asaheim range, the beast known as Witherwing was finally hunted down and slain after some effort, its talons crushed down and worked into an enamel that would coat the Frost Axe dubbed Wyrmclaw.
- The Ice Troll King - The greatest of the ice trolls that threatened the Tide Hounds tribe. This mighty beast was slain by Wolf Lord Harald Deathwolf and now its hide adorns his back as a cloak.
- Kjarg King of Wolfkind - The legendary king of the Fenrisian Wolves, legends hold that Kjarg bears a coat as black as night and stands as large as a mountain.
- The Dopplegangrel - Lukas the Trickster is the only individual in the Space Wolves' history who has managed to track and slay one of the legendary chameleonic dopplegangrels of Fenris. Lukas wears the pelt as a trophy and uses its innate abilities to assist him in battle, and probably any mischief he undertakes.
It is said Fenris breeds cold souls. As a Death World Fenris is considered by most within the Imperium as a veritable hell. Virtually every living thing on the planet is a predator or capable of fighting predators in its own right, and so nothing weak survives on Fenris for long. The few invaders to have set foot on Fenris have learned the hard way that there are more ways to die on Fenris than can easily be counted.
As such, the people of Fenris live short, brutal lives where survival is a constant struggle. The majority of Fenris' population live a largely nomadic existence on the many hundreds of islands dotting the Worldsea. During the Season of Fire most islands sink beneath the waves even as new ones rise up, forcing the tribes to remain almost constantly on the move, taking to the waves each Great Year to find a new place to live. Inevitably the tribes engage in warfare over the ever-limited number of habitable islands and much coveted resources.
A smaller portion of the native population lives in the lowlands of the Asaheim continent, the only permanent landmass on the planet. Most island tribesmen view the lowlanders as soft, but this is far from the truth. The many predators native to Asaheim ensure that life in the lowlands is in many ways just as dangerous. Though their numbers are fewer, the lowlanders are still chosen by the Space Wolves Wolf Priests from time to time to become Aspirants to the Chapter.
A very small portion of the populace lives on the isles of the Iron Masters beneath the Fire Mountain. Alone amongst the natives of Fenris, the Iron Masters possess crude technologies, metal steamships, stone buildings and furnaces of molten metal. As part of an Ancient Pact with Leman Russ, the Iron Masters remain secluded amongst themselves, trading only occasionally with those islanders brave enough to make the journey to their islands. Food, furs and other materials are traded to the Iron Masters in exchange for crude iron tools and weapons much valued by the islanders. Virtually the only stable landmasses in the great oceans of Fenris, the isles of the Iron Masters house a small Vox-based communications post to contact the Space Wolves.
Of the resources available on Fenris, the most valuable is the land itself. No man knows how much the land will change with the turning of the Great Year. Sometimes old islands survive the changing seasons and good fortune may preserve a tribe's territory intact for many Great Years, but it is more likely that the archipelagos will be broken and destroyed, submerged beneath the oceans by the vast upheavals of Fenris' crust.
When this happens there will be vicious wars between the tribes and only those who succeed in finding new land and establishing themselves on it will survive. Once the Season of Fire has passed, the Fenrisians must settle the newly formed lands quickly, for soon their supplies will run out. If they can find no new land, they must resume their wars for the territories of other tribes.
So it is that the life of a Fenrisian is one of constant seaborne migration and warfare. The people of Fenris speak their own distinct dialect of Low Gothic called Juvjk which is very similar to the ancient Scandinavian languages of Terra and represents the culture of the world's original colonists.
Making their living on a chain of glaciers stretching across Fenris' oceans, the glacier nomads live a humble existence ever fraught with danger. Because of this, the glacier tribesmen are known to possess superior senses to any of the other tribes of Fenris. Even once recruited into the Space Wolves, Battle-Brothers drawn from the glacier nomads possess far sharper senses than even the heightened hearing and smell of their comrades.
Because of these skills, most warriors drawn from the glacier tribes invariably become members of Wolf Scout Packs, the better to utilise their heightened skills to the benefit of the Chapter. One of the more well-known glaciers is the Gautreksland glacier, a stretch of ice from which Brother Starkad was recruited to the Chapter.
Perhaps the most numerous of the many tribes of Fenris are the seafaring islanders. The great oceans of Fenris cover most of the planet's surface and are dotted with thousands of volcanic islands which rise and fall with the changing of the seasons. Most of these islands do not last more than a few seasons before they are reclaimed by the churning seas and even when they do stand, the islands suffer frequent and violent earthquakes and floods.
As a result, the Fenrisian islanders rarely build structures of any permanence. Most of their dwellings are crude bone huts covered in cured animal hide. Dragonships are crafted from the ribs and bones of Fenrisian sea beasts or occasionally from the sparse woodlands that occasionally grow on the longer-lasting islands. Cured hide is stretched across the skeletal structure of these ships to form a watertight outer skin. Though humble, the islanders' dragonships are light, fast, and easy to build, allowing even the humblest of tribes to field them in their dozens.
Though extremely dangerous, the island tribes make a living from hunting the great beasts of Fenris' seas, creatures that often greatly outweigh and outsize the largest of the dragonships. Yet to slay even one such beast is a rich bounty indeed, providing skin, scales, fat, meat and bones that can last a tribe for solar months. The hide is cured and turned into clothes, ship hulls and shelters, while the meat is salted and preserved. Such hunts are necessary practice, for with the turn of every season comes the chance that a tribe's home island will be torn asunder and sink beneath the wave, sending the entire tribe out onto the seas in a mass exodus.
The tribe must find a new home if they are to survive, for no matter how skilled the sailors, no tribe can survive on the seas alone for any length of time. Yet any new land is likely to be already inhabited or at the very least will be claimed by multiple tribes who will have to fight for dominance and ownership.
It is during these clashes between tribes that the Wolf Priests will watch most attentively, ever ready to swoop in and lay claim to the most skilled or promising of the combatants, whether standing or fallen. Among the better known of the present era's Island Tribes are the Thunderfist, Grimskull, Iron Blood, Tide Hounds, Sea Devil and Ice Fang tribes, while one of the better known tribes during the Horus Heresy era was the Ascommani. Whether the Ascommani tribe still exists in one form or another is unknown.
A small number of Fenrisian tribesmen make their homes in the lower slopes of the Asaheim mountain ranges and across lowland regions bordering the seas of Fenris. The many hostile beasts that make the Asaheim ranges their homes make these tribes and their settlements few in number by necessity and attrition. It is all too common for a band of ice trolls or a rampaging herd of saenyeti to wipe a tribe from existence.
Though many islanders look down on what they see as weaker tribes living in relative ease, the life of the mountain tribes is no less fraught with danger and though fewer in number, members of the mountain tribes are occasionally taken by the Sky Warriors and brought to The Fang to become Aspirants to the Space Wolves.
Culture of Fenris
The culture of Fenris is considered crude, brutal and barbaric by many within the Imperium. Yet for all its savagery, the people of Fenris are loyal and fierce, the perfect recruits for a Space Marine Chapter. Their culture has influenced every aspect of the Space Wolves' organisation and belief since the Founding of the Space Wolves Legion during the Great Crusade.
The basic social structure of Fenris is the tribe, which is led by a Jarl. The warriors of each tribe are known as Wolfbrothers or Shieldbrothers. The history of each tribe is recorded in oral songs and poems by a Skjald. Every male of a tribe is taught to fight, to hunt for food and supplies, and to defend the tribe against its enemies. The women are no less fierce and hardy, as Fenris suffers no weakness. In the spring, various tribes meet at gatherings known as moots to trade and exchange stories and news. Technology is crude, iron weapons and tools are rare and highly valuable. The island tribes rely on their vessels of bone and hide known as dragonships, and every settlement, no matter how small, will feature a longhouse or hall where the Jarl holds court.
To the natives of Fenris, the Emperor is known as the Allfather, the father of Russ and protector of mankind. Runic totems and talismans ward away the evil spirits of Ghorghe, Sla Nahesh and Horus. The peaks of Asaheim are known as the Wall of the Gods and the Space Wolves are myths and legends known as the Sky Warriors who appear amongst the tribes to take the honoured slain.
The Space Wolves retain the use of the tribal languages of Fenris, known as Wurgen (war-cant) and Juvik, or Juvjk in the Fenrisian dialect of Low Gothic (hearth-cant). Battle-cant is a crude, direct form of the Fenrisian tongue used by the Space Wolves in combat as a coded form of communication. Hearth-cant is the Fenrisian tongue the Wolves speak amongst themselves when not in battle. Listed below are some common Fenrisian words and sayings:
- Adjarr – Blood.
- Aesir - Gods or spirits.
- Aett - Clan hold, hearth, den, and the familiar name of The Fang amongst the Space Wolves.
- Annelsa – Foreboding.
- Anzviti – Gunship.
- Athame – Sacrificial blade used during a sending feast.
- Banisvatr – Black Death.
- Bloodgeld – A death price or the price of vengeance for a death.
- Domra – Doom.
- Drakk – Drake.
- Drekkar - Wooden ship used by the tribesmen of Fenris.
- Einherjar - Blood-sworn, a general reference to the warriors sworn to Russ.
- Eldurstjorm – Possibly elder storm.
- Fara tíl Hel, svikari! - Go to hell, traitor!
- Fekke – A Fenrisian curse.
- Fengr – The wolf within.
- Fenrys Faerir Mord – Battle-cry.
- Fenrys Hjølda! - Fenris endures/persists/survives/resists!
- Fomadurhamar – Foehammer.
- Fja Vo - Go now.
- Fjolnir – The Nightjar, a mark of the hunt bestowed by the gothi of a tribe.
- Frostmodr – Frostfury.
- Geld – Price.
- Gelt – Loot or salvage.
- Gmorl – Fate.
- Gothi - Shaman, Fenrisian title for Rune Priests.
- Grooms - Serfs.
- Hálfvit - Halfwit.
- Hata – Fenrisian rune.
- Heidur Rus! - Battle cry.
- Hel – The Fenrisian underworld.
- Hersir - A veteran, core soldier of the Fenrisian Clans.
- Hiljah kah uhtganjen mev tarvahettan. – Greet the end with courage.
- Hjá – Exclamation of triumph and greeting.
- Hjarz – The Ice-rune.
- Hjolda - Hail.
- Hnefttafl - Boardgame used by the Space Wolves during the Great Crusade.
- Huskaerls - Officers of the Chapter's armed serfs.
- Huscarl - Chieftain's bodyguard, similar title to Wolf Guard.
- Jarl - Chief, stands in as a title for a Wolf Lord. High Wolf and Packmaster are other alternate titles.
- Jova - Beast/threat/monster/Carnifex.
- Juvjk - Hearth-cant or casual spoken Low Gothic language of the Space Wolves when not in battle.
- Juvykka – Native dialect of Low Gothic language of the Fenresian tribes.
- Kaerls - Armed Chapter Serfs.
- Kjaalhalla – Realm of ghosts who fight for the glory of Leman Russ.
- Lanx - Drinking bowl.
- Maleficarum - Bad spirits or daemons.
- Mijagge Kovness An? – May I enter?
- Mjod - Mead.
- Øjor Hjøld – Oath of acceptance.
- Øjor va Russ! Leman Russ! - Glory to Russ! Leman Russ!
- Oververse – Realm of the living.
- Ragnarok – Ending.
- Rhozan – Rune to ward against Maleficarum.
- Rjalka - Maw.
- Russvangam – Fenrisian battle-cry.
- The Rout - Informal title of the Space Wolves.
- Sálskjoldur – Soul-ward.
- Sammekull – Summons.
- Sava gudt, hell'ten – A benediction for a hero to rest in peace.
- Seax - Knife.
- Sfar – Rune to ward against Maleficarum.
- Sforja – Fenrisian rune.
- Skemmdarvargur – Word of power used in the summoning of the Jaws of the World Wolf.
- Skjald - Storyteller, bard, keeper of the sagas.
- Skjoldtar - Heavy, armour-piercing solid shot weapons favored by the Chapter's armed serfs.
- Sklja Odda? - How many?
- Skira Vordrotta - Translated roughly as System Kill, the term means total war, total annihilation.
- Skíthof – Fenrisian curse.
- Skítja – Fenrisian curse.
- Skitnah - Dirty, foul, tainted.
- Skulbrotsjór – Skullhewer.
- Stormurstjórn – Stormcaller.
- Svellbrandr – Fangsword of the Ice Wolf.
- Sverdhjera – Blademaster
- Thegns – Thane, title for Pack Leaders of the old Space Wolves Legion holding the equivalent rank of Sergeant.
- Thralls - Chapter Serfs.
- Trysk – Ice.
- Turza – Fenrisian rune of destruction.
- Vaerangi – Wolf Guard.
- Valdelnagh – A misunderstanding.
- Volda Hamarrki - The World Spine Mountains.
- Vlka – Warband of a tribe.
- Vlka Fenryka - Formal title of the Space Wolves in the Fenrisian dialect.
- Wargeld – Loot taken from battle or conquest.
- Wurgen - War-cant or battle language of Fenris.
- Wyrd - An individual's fate.
- Zhaz – Rune to ward against Maleficarum.
- Onn - One.
- Twa - Two.
- Tra - Three.
- For - Four.
- Fyf - Five.
- Sesc - Six.
- Sepp - Seven.
- For-twa - Eight.
- Tra-tra - Nine.
- Dekk - Ten.
- Elleve - Eleven.
- Tolv – Twelve.
- Dekk-Tra - Thirteen.
Vlka Fenryka, the Sky Warriors
Despite the hardships that define their lives, the Fenrisians consider themselves blessed, for it is only warriors forged by such ordeals that can become the greatest of the Emperor's champions and the Imperium of Man's defenders. It is from these hardy Fenrisian tribesmen that the Space Wolves recruit all of their kind. Although Fenris is the homeworld of the Space Wolves and held by them as a fief of the Imperium, the Chapter occupies only the island continent of Asaheim, which rises from the polar oceans like a continental pillar, sheer and shrouded by thick white clouds.
The remainder of Fenris is left in its wild and feral state and the people survive as best they can amidst the constant battle between fire and ice. The Space Wolves maintain a careful watch over their tribal kin, but never appear openly amongst the warrior tribes. To uninitiated Fenrisians, the Space Wolves are known only as the "Sky Warriors," glimpsed only occasionally from afar, possessing powers both magical and divinely granted.
To them, the Sky Warriors are the warriors of myth, the companions of Leman Russ who will fight alongside the legendary Primarch in the final battle at the end of time. To them, the lands of Asaheim are the forbidden realms of the divine, where their native traditions forbid any man to walk uninvited. Only a warrior chosen by the gods can enter the Fortress of Russ at Asaheim's peak.
Thus the Fenrisians have become accustomed to the bravest of their young warriors earning a place beside the gods, vanishing from the everyday world and going to live in the high realm of Asaheim. So it has ever been for the people of Fenris. So will it ever be so long as the Emperor of Mankind sits upon the Golden Throne of Terra.
The Primarch of the Space Wolves, Leman Russ, was flung across the galaxy through the Warp from the Emperor's gene-labs beneath the Himalazian (Himalayan) Mountains on Terra by the Chaos Gods to the distant planet of Fenris, a snow-covered Death World inhabited by primitive warlike tribes of humans possessed of only Iron Age technology. He was said to have been raised by a pack of the massive, semi-sentient Fenrisian Wolves that prowled the snowy lands because they sensed an unusual genetic kinship to him as the bearer of the Canis Helix. Among them, he grew to adulthood in only a few short Terran years as a result of his genetic modifications.
The young Primarch was eventually discovered by a Fenrisian tribesman named Thengir, the King of the Russ. Thengir had organised a party of hunters to clear the Fenrisian Wolf packs from his lands. Most of the wolves were slaughtered, and the massive young man was captured amongst their number and brought to Thengir. Thengir took the young man into his care, giving him the name "Leman of the Russ".
Leman learned the ways of Mankind quickly, and many legends sprung up about him, such as how he could defeat a hundred men in only three solar minutes, or consume an entire aurochs when sitting at a feast in the long hall. Upon his adopted father's death, the kingship of the Russ tribe passed to Leman, who became known as the Wolf King. Leman became a mighty leader, winning many victories, often fighting alongside packs of Fenrisian Wolves, led by Freki and Geri (the names of the Norse god Odin's wolves), two of his own Fenrisian wolf-brothers who had escaped Thengir's hunters. In time, he had united all of the tribes of Fenris beneath his rule for the first and only time in history.
Eventually, word of his exploits reached beyond Fenris, to the ears of Leman's gene-father, the Emperor of Mankind, who recognised the tales as only being possible for one of His lost sons. He traveled to Fenris with a fleet of the Great Crusade and became certain that the exploits spoken about among the tribesmen of the primitive world could only be the work of a Primarch. Travelling in disguise and then challenging Leman Russ to combat, the Emperor eventually won him over to His side and gave Leman command of the VI Legion of Astartes whose Space Marines had been created from the savage warrior's own genetic stock.
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pp. 6-7
- Codex: Space Marines (4th Edition), pg. 81
- Codex: Space Wolves (7th Edition), pp. 9, 11, 13, 16-17, 20-25
- Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pg. 6
- Champion's of Fenris - A Codex: Space Wolves Supplement (7th Edition), pp. 59-67, 69-76
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 57-66
- Index Astartes II, "Wolves of Fenris - The Space Wolves Space Marine Chapter"
- Warhammer 40,000 Compilation (1st Edition), "Leman Russ"
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (6th Edition), pp. 183, 187, 356
- White Dwarf 388 (US), "Battle Missions: Death Worlds - Death Worlds of the Imperium," by Phil Kelly, pg. 77
- White Dwarf 156 (US), "The Space Wolves," pp. 8-25
- Prospero Burns (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Tales of Heresy (Novel), "Wolf at the Door" by Mike Lee
- Battle of The Fang (Novel) by Chris Wraight
- Legends of the Space Marines (Anthology), "Twelve Wolves" by Ben Counter
- The Emperor's Gift (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- The Horus Heresy Book Seven - Inferno (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 76-77, 79
- Lukas the Trickster (Novel) by Josh Reynolds, Ch. 4
- The Space Wolves series:
- Space Wolf (Novel) by William King (1999)
- Ragnar's Claw (Novel) by William King (2000)
- Grey Hunter (Novel) by William King (2002)
- Wolfblade (Novel) by William King (2003)
- Sons of Fenris (Novel) by Lee Lightner (2007)
- Wolf's Honour (Novel) by Lee Lightner (2008)
- Thunder from Fenris (Audio Book) by Nick Kyme
- Warzone Fenris: Wrath of Magnus, pg. 41