"There are no wolves on Fenris."
Kasper Ansbach Hawser, also known in Imperial records by the alias he assumed, Ahmad Ibn Rustah, was an Imperial Conservator (historian) who lived during the era of the Great Crusade in the late 30th and early 31st Millennia, and was ensnared in a plot by the Forces of Chaos intended to lead the Space Wolves and Thousand Sons Space Marine Legions to destroy each other. He was made a Skjald, or oral historian, of the Space Wolves Legion, and was witness to some of the most important events in the early history of the Imperium of Man, including the Council of Nikaea and the Fall of Prospero. He was eventually placed into stasis within The Fang on Fenris, there to sleep away the centuries until the Space Wolves had need of his knowledge once again.
Kasper Ansbach Hawser was born on Terra, at the beginning of the Great Crusade in the late 30th Millennium and during the violence that marked the slow end of the Age of Strife. It is believed that he was born in approximately 862.M30. The earliest records pertaining to Hawser, at 3 or 4 standard years old, note that he was discovered by a surveying patrol in the radland flats near the outskirts of the great city of Ur, on Terra. His parents were believed to have been killed in an attack by a group of predators, likely mutated wolves. Hawser was apparently spared the same fate by mere chance. He was brought to Ur's Catheric commune and raised by a Rector named Uwe. Hawser was given an education and was noted to have been an exceptionally bright child. Uwe named the boy Kasper Hawser after the folktale of Casper Hauser, noting the similarities of circumstances in which Hawser was discovered.
Secrets and Lies
Hawser's highly inquisitive nature eventually compelled him to become a Conservator, as he was determined to unearth much of the information that had been lost in the Age of Strife as a result of Terran warfare and the policies of obfuscation practiced by the newborn Imperial Administratum. After graduating from the Univesitariate of Sardis with honours, Hawser completed his education and earned a doctorate degree. While the actual degree is not listed in Imperial records, it was likely in archaeology or a similar discipline. He is noted to have founded the Conservatory Project and served as its director. He was awarded the Prix Daumarl, for steadfast contributions towards the definition and accomplishment of Terran Unification in 902.M30. He was acclaimed by academicians throughout the Imperium. He authored several research papers noted to have inspired new areas of research and development resulting in profound improvements for Imperial society. Hawser particularly wanted to know the cause of the Age of Strife, and why so much of the history of that time was being systematically destroyed by the new Imperium of Man. He quickly found that he was apparently opposed by many forces within the Imperium in his unrelenting search for knowledge and the truth but he did not know why.
Hawser could only find tantalising clues as to the reasons. After finding a strange ancient temple on Terra, he was non-violently but forcibly removed from it by the Astartes of the Thousand Sons Legion; when he returned much later, the temple was gone as if it had never existed. He later discovered that his long-term assistant Navid Murza was part of a secret cult, and learnt enough of that cult to become a sorceror. Murza, in a typically unwise venture, had led Hawser and the Conservator group he was working with into a trap in the Lutetian slums on Terra. Faced with ransom or even murder by a group of slum-dwellers, the Conservator group scattered and ran. When one of the would-be captors pulled a pistol to kill Hawser, Murza killed the man with some kind of projection of Warp energy from his mouth. Hawser did not know it at the time, but it was a form of psychic power, which men had once called sorcery.
When pressed by Hawser, Murza admitted that this power was called enuncia. Murza had become enmeshed within a dark cult that specialised in the occult, and who had taught him how to use this power. Murza said that this shadowy group had always wanted to see Hawser and introduce him to its ways, as like Hawser the cult was interested in gathering lore from the past. Against his better judgement, Hawser unwisely allowed himself to be led by Murza to a Bibliotech on the outskirts of the city of Lutetia. Inside, Hawser was confronted by strange robed figures and almost compelled to sacrifice Murza with an athame -- a ceremonial knife -- and take Murza's place in the cult. Instead of doing so, he cut Murza's bonds with the knife and they fled.
Near the end of his natural life in his eighth standard decade and after his disillusionment by his work seemingly becoming absorbed by the hegemonic Administratrum and their apparent willingness to destroy knowledge, Hawser felt a sudden and inexplicable compulsion to go to the Death World of Fenris, the homeworld of the Space Wolves Legion. He travelled there under the assumed name of Ahmad Ibn Rustah. The Space Wolves were suspicious of his unannounced arrival from the beginning, but Hawser managed to gain permission to land. Yet no sooner had the permission been given than his landing craft was mistakenly shot down by a Space Wolf named "Bear." After being attacked as a "bad star" following his crash-landing by the superstitious feral human tribesmen of Fenris, Hawser was then put into a long stasis and thoroughly healed using an advanced rejuvenat treatment while the Space Wolves figured out what to do with him, believing his arrival had not been a coincidence.
When Hawser awoke decades later, having been rebuilt through advanced Genetor enhancement and gifted with the physique of a much younger and stronger man, he was made a skjald -- a bard and oral historian -- of the Space Wolves. He was attached to the Legion's "Tra" (3rd) Great Company and allowed to accompany them on their campaigns. He found that he could speak the native Fenrisian languages, Juvyk and Wurgen, although he did not know why, as he had never studied them. Allowed to accompany the Vlka Fenryka -- the Space Wolves -- as they carried out their duties to the Emperor, Hawser first witnessed the destruction of the Olamic Quietude, a powerful ancient cybernetic human civilisation that the Space Wolves swept aside in only days, and came to understand that the ferocity of the Space Wolves was tempered with a canny intelligence. The hulking Astartes were not simply feral barbarians.
During the ground battle against the Quietude on their unnamed homeworld, Hawser's guardian, a Rune Priest called Urvural "Longfang" Heoroth, was fatally wounded by an Olamic super-robust cybernetic warrior's Kinetic Hammer. As he kept the dying priest company, Hawser recounted the story of Murza's power and the cult in the Lutetian Bibliotech, and told Longfang it was the closest he had come to seeing the indescribable thing the Space Wolves called "malificarum." Longfang did not seem surprised, and told Hawser that he was aware that Hawser was being used as an oblivious pawn in some great scheme, and that he had been compelled to go to Fenris by a will that was not his own. That presence now lurked within Hawser's mind, seeing everything he saw and subtly altering the Skjald's perceptions. Longfang had seen into Hawser's memories and singled out an important memory where Hawser, in his old age prior to coming to Fenris, was in orbit of Terra in a suite on the Lemuryan Orbital Plate (a Terran space elevator). In the dream, Hawser had seen a reflection in the window of a presence behind him, but always woke up before he knew who it was.
Longfang then showed Hawser his own dream: they were hunting together on the stable continent of Asaheim on Fenris, and Hawser was afraid of the wolves. Hawser awoke from the dream and realised that Longfang had been dead for some time, even as he believed the Rune Priest had been speaking to him in his dreams.
As his duty as Skjald, Hawser had to memorise all the stories of Longfang's battles and exploits told to him by the other Vlka Fenryka, and tell them as stories to the assembled warriors of Tra Company. During the ceremony Jarl Ogvai brandished a ceremonial athame which Hawser recognised: it was the same one that he had almost been compelled to sacrifice Navid Murza with many decades ago. Hawser almost got himself killed trying to interrupt the ceremony to point this out, but it was in any case interrupted by a greater concern: the Emperor had called a great council on the world of Nikaea, and the Space Wolves had been summoned to attend.
As the ceremony dispersed, Hawser went to search the Jarl's quarters for the athame he had seen brandished. He was interrupted by Longfang's successor, the Rune Priest Aun Helwintr. Helwintr had shared Longfang's memory, and knew what Hawser had related to Longfang on the Olamic homeworld. He showed Hawser that the knife was not the same. The presence in the back of his mind was trying to make him think it was, to make Hawser distrust the Space Wolves.
Council of Nikaea
"We believe that what some call magic is a tool vital to the continued survival of the Imperium. Our opponents call us heretics and decry the lore we have accumulated. If the Emperor rules against us, a divisive wedge will be driven so deeply into the brotherhood of primarchs it will never recover."
- —Amon of the Thousand Sons, Equerry to Magnus the Red
Hawser was brought to the world of Nikaea in the wake of the successful Ullanor Crusade, and to his astonishment was confronted by the mighty Space Wolves Primarch Leman Russ. In the presence of Russ' protectors, the psychic Blanks known as the Sisters of Silence, Hawser found that he could no longer speak the languages of Fenris. Russ told Hawser that it was his brother, the Primarch Magnus the Red, who had invaded Hawser's mind, sent him to Fenris, and was using him as a spy against the Space Wolves. Russ took Hawser before a group of extremely distinguished men that included no less than the Chief Custodian and Captain-General of the Legio Custodes Contantin Valdor; Raldoron, a notable Chapter Master of the Blood Angels; Typhon, the First Captain of the Death Guard; and the Primarch Fulgrim of the Emperor's Children. To Hawser's enormous surprise they already knew who he was, and that he was well-respected as a scholar at the highest levels of the Imperium. They offered to find out why Magnus was using Hawser as a psychic pawn, but warned that it would mean great danger for him. One of the Custodes took him to witness the Council of Nikaea, where he saw the Emperor of Mankind and Malcador the Sigillite speak to the gathered great and good of the Imperium.
While watching this assembly from afar and in awe, Hawser was confronted by a powerful Thousand Sons psyker who easily paralysed his Custodes guardian with sorcery. He introduced himself as Amon, the Equerry to Magnus the Red. Hawser, angering Amon by questioning his use of sorcery since he believed that its practice had been the cause of the Age of Strife, was only just saved from being slain by the Thousand Sons Sorcerer by the intervention of the Space Wolf named Bear. Unlike the Custodes, Bear seemed proof against the true name-based sorcery that had been used by Amon, but an injured Amon managed to escape through methods unknown. After this apparent crime by the Thousand Sons and perhaps in small part due to it, the Emperor outlawed the use of psychic powers across the Imperium in the decrees he made at the Council of Nikaea.
Portents of Treachery
"This is a courtesy, then. From brother to brother. A grace period I would extend to no other enemy. Settle your affairs. Evacuate the civilians from your cities. Deactivate your defence systems. Bring yourself and your Thousand Sons out into the open, and prepare to surrender to me upon my arrival. Please, Magnus. The Wolves of Fenris have been unleashed upon you. Only you have the power to make the consequences bloodless."
- — Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves
As the Horus Heresy approached, Hawser's recurring prophetic dreams became more and more urgent and repetitive. Helwintr, with the help of another Rune Priest, Eada Haelfwulf, set themselves the task of unlocking Hawser's memory. They were determined to uncover whose face Hawser saw reflected in his memory over Terra, as that was the key to identifying the presence spying on Leman Russ and the Space Wolves through Hawser.
However, the entity proved too strong for the Rune Priests. Eada Haelwulf was overwhelmed attempting to unmask it, and was transformed into a feral mutant Wulfen by its power. The Wulfen Haelwulf savaged Helwintr and then made for Hawser, and was only put down by a Plasma Pistol shot to the chest fired by the wounded Helwintr. Surviving the terrible wound and recovering some of himself, but still horribly mutated, the Wulfen Haelwulf provided a dire warning he had seen from the thing within Hawser's mind: the truth of the impending treachery of Horus. Jarl Ogvai ignored these relevations as lies from the same being that had mutated the Rune Priest, and gave Haelwulf the Emperor's Peace. The attempt todiscover the identity of Hawser's puppetmaster had failed.
Hawser was then summoned to the command deck of the Hrafnkel, the flagship of Leman Russ. Russ had never been in any doubt of who was spying on him. The Primarch told Hawser of how his brother Magnus the Red had made an attempt to warn the Emperor of Mankind on Terra of some impending great treachery using the forbidden power of sorcery, and the Space Wolves had been ordered by the Emperor to bring him to account for this terrible crime against his father's decrees at Nikaea.
Hawser reasoned to Russ that, if Magnus had felt the need to warn the Emperor so much as to reveal his violation of the Imperial Decrees at Nikaea, then that must have been indicative of some loyalty to the Emperor in Magnus. But Russ did not agree, and did not trust Magnus, calling him a "meddling warlock". He believed his brother had done everything out of a single-minded need to continue his search for forbidden knowledge.
Then Russ spoke not to Hawser but through him, believing that Magnus could hear everything Hawser could. Russ pleaded with Magnus to surrender peacefully. If Magnus were to do so, the coming of the Space Wolves to his homeworld of Prospero would be bloodless. It was a unique offer from the Wolf King, but Magnus either did not hear or did not reply. Russ was then resolved that Prospero would burn and the Thousand Sons Legion with it.
As a result of these events, Hawser bore witness to the Fall of Prospero as Leman Russ, fully believing Horus' lies that his brother Magnus the Red had fully turned traitor, took the full assembled might of his entire Legion to destroy the Thousand Sons and their homeworld. As Prospero was destroyed, Hawser was finally confronted there in the capital city of Tizca by the presence that had used him as a puppet -- it was not Magnus at all but an entity of the Immaterium that called itself the Primordial Annihilator, most likely a Greater Daemon of Chaos Undivided. It appeared to him as a projection of Horus at first, taunting Hawser with images of the weapon known as the Kinebrach Anathame and promises of Horus' fall to Chaos. Then it peeled off its face and pretended to be the Thousand Sons Sorcerer Amon, although the true Amon was at the side of his Primarch in the battle. Finally, the entity took the form of Navid Murza. It claimed to have always been Murza, but Hawser argued with it: a real human being named Murza must have existed, once. The daemon, thinking to punish this defiance by "withholding a painless death", advanced on Hawser -- not a memory any more but a very real threat.
Hawser, having remembered the Enuncia word Murza had used decades ago, used it against the daemon, revealing himself to also be a latent psyker. The psychic force unleashed by Hawser surprised the daemon and wounded it, granting Hawser an opportunity to call for help from the Vlka Fenryka. But the hellish thing could not be killed by the purely physical weapons of the Space Wolves, and it used their true names against them as part of the same type of psychic sorcery it had unleashed before, stealing the names from Hawser's own mind. Only Bear (whose true name "Bjorn" had been mistranslated by Hawser into Low Gothic), and Hawser himself, who had never known the true birth name given to him by his slain parents, were able to withstand its Warp-sorcery. Despite Bjorn's resistance, the daemon was still more than a match for him; it clutched and mutated the Astartes' left hand, thinking to corrupt and toy with him before it killed him. Hawser rescued Bjorn by cutting off the hand and halting the Chaotic corruption before it could consume him. This missing hand eventually earned Bjorn the moniker of Bjorn the Fell-Handed, the Astartes who would go on to become the longest-lived Space Marine in the Imperium of Man. The daemon was only defeated upon the arrival of the Sisters of Silence, who negated its psychic powers so that two Space Wolves Dreadnoughts could pulverise its physical form. Its spirit was sent screaming back into the Warp even as elsewhere on the battlefield Leman Russ broke the back of his brother Magnus over his knee and the Thousand Sons' Primarch called upon the Chaos God Tzeentch to transport him and his surviving Thousand Sons Astartes to the Planet of the Sorcerers within the Eye of Terror. Whatever their true motivations, Magnus the Red and his Astartes were now firmly dedicated to the service of Chaos and the overthrow of the Imperium.
Amidst the ruins of Prospero, Hawser was left to reflect upon the partial victory of Chaos. As Magnus had refused to resist but had at first accepted what he believed was his just punishment from the Imperium for his sins against his father the Emperor, the Thousand Sons and Space Wolves had not annihilated each other as the Ruinous Powers had intended during the Battle of Prospero. However, Magnus and the Thousand Sons had used terrible forbidden knowledge to preserve themselves, and had finally been pushed over the line into damnation to become true Traitors to the Imperium and the willing pawns of Tzeentch, the Lord of Change.
As he had also been tainted by the long-term touch of the Warp, Hawser knew that he could not return to his duties. Yet the Space Wolves, for all their savagery in battle, were too sentimental about his place in their Legion to simply kill him. Kasper Hawser was placed in stasis deep below The Fang where the Legion's Dreadnoughts slept away the decades, to be woken some time in the far, far future when he was needed to once again recount the things he had seen as the Skjald of the Vlka Fenryka. In one last dream he saw himself back where Longfang had left him in Asaheim, this time with Leman Russ. He was no longer afraid of wolves.
- Prospero Burns (Novel) by Dan Abnett