Leman Russ

Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves Legion, leads his forces and his two Fenrisian Wolves into battle during the Great Crusade.

Leman Russ, also known as the "Wolf King" and the "Great Wolf" during his lifetime, is the currently missing Primarch of the Space Wolves Chapter of Space Marines. He led the Space Wolves Space Marine Legion during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy and is famed in Imperial history for his hatred of psychic powers and sorcery, whose use in battle he viewed as dishonourable and unworthy of true warriors. After receiving a disturbing vision in 211.M31, Leman Russ disappeared with the warriors of his bodyguard, his destination and fate unknown.

Russ, along with his brother Primarchs Angron and Vulkan, were considered to be the greatest warriors one-on-one amongst the Primarchs. Known for his fierce and sometimes barbaric personality, Leman Russ considered himself the Emperor of Mankind's most loyal son and executioner. he viewed his role as unquestionably carrying out the punishments requited by the Master of Mankind. Among the forces of Chaos he was known as "the Brawler."

Some recent rumours claim that it is Leman Russ who is the unknown force behind the return of the Space Wolves' 13th Company to realspace from 10,000 Terran years fighting the Forces of Chaos in the Warp during the 13th Black Crusade of 999.M41.

Several main battle tank variants used by the Astra Militarum have been named after him. The Leman Russ tank is the most prominent, and several sub-variants of that pattern of tank also exist in widespread use in the Imperium of Man, such as the Leman Russ Demolisher.


Leman Russ Sketch

Ancient Remembrancer's sketch of Leman Russ, the Lord of Winter and Ruin, Primarch of the Space Wolves Legion; illustration taken from Carpinus' Speculum Historiale

The Space Wolves are one of the greatest of the Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, their name and honours known throughout the galaxy. As one of the original twenty Space Marine Legions, the Space Wolves were founded by the Emperor Himself over ten thousand years ago. The Legions were created to take part in the Great Crusade, the Emperor's reconquest of the galaxy that established the Imperium as it is today.

Before the Great Crusade, Terra had endured thousands of standard years of isolation whilst impenetrable Warp Storms seethed and howled throughout the western part of the galaxy. This dark period of history was known as the Age of Strife. Even the Emperor was trapped upon Terra by the Warp's tumult, and could do little other than secure Humanity's birth planet and prepare his armies for the reconquest to come. Without the Emperor to guide them through this terrible age, the rest of the human worlds throughout the galaxy were left helpless against the predations of aliens and the dread creatures of the Warp. One by one, they fell into anarchy and despair. Humanity, it seemed, was doomed.

The Primarchs

During Terra's isolation during the dawn of the 31st Millennium, the Emperor had striven to create twenty superhuman beings. These Primarchs, as he called them, were genetically engineered creatures, artificial humanoids with astounding abilities. Each was created differently and with his own unique skills, powers, and in some cases, incredible psychic potential. The Primarchs were made to resemble Humankind, but many were mighty in appearance. Yet the Primarch experiment never reached its conclusion. In a disastrous incident, the nascent creatures were swept up by terrible forces that dwelt within the Warp and scattered across the stars. Rather than trying to duplicate the long and arduous work through which he had created the Primarchs, the Emperor instead used the raw material developed during the Primarch project to create the Space Marines. After much toil, the Emperor created a number of artificially cultured organs, each re-engineered from the gene-banks of the Primarchs. These organs were designed so that they could be implanted into the body of an ordinary adolescent human. Once implanted, the organs would take root and develop within the host's human tissues, becoming an integrated part of his body. Many of these organs were designed to interact with natural body tissues as they developed, enhancing muscle growth, stimulating mental processes, and transforming the recipient into a superhuman warrior. Compared to the Primarchs whose incredible power they had inherited, the Space Marines were but pale shadows, but they still became the mightiest of men and the greatest of the Emperor's warriors.

The Legiones Astartes

The Emperor created twenty Space Marine Legions, each utilising residual genetic material derived from one of the Primarchs. Most of the implants were common in type and function to all twenty Legions, but there were also subtle variances in the genetic structure that developed as a result of their different gene-fathers. Thus the warriors of the twenty Space Marine Legions echoed to some degree the particular strengths of the Primarch whose genes were used to develop their own implants. The implants of the Space Wolves were developed from the genetic helix -– later to be known as the Canis Helix –- of Leman Russ. At this time, the Emperor had no idea where the Primarchs were or if they had even survived their ordeal. Only later, during the Great Crusade itself, was the Emperor able to recover the Primarchs, one by one. By then they had grown to adulthood amongst whatever civilisations existed on the worlds on which their incubation pods had landed. Many Primarchs crashed upon uncivilised worlds or grew up amongst deadly and inhospitable environments.

The Wolf-Child Comes to Fenris

"No man nor beast could best the Wolf-King, no tribe could stand against his armies. Within Russ' Kingdom a truce existed between Man and Wolf. His Court was attended by the fiercest of warlords and the most Beatiful of maidens. When angered he raged with the violence of summer, his wisdom was deep as the winter's cold. And so in Asaheim, the home of the Gods, the Allfather found his lost son."
— Excerpt from the Saga of the Wolf-King

The Primarch of the Space Wolves had landed upon the icy Death World of Fenris, his incubation pod plummeting down into the flank of a vast mountain. Given the harshness of the Fenrisian climate, it is safe to say that a lesser being would have died almost immediately upon his arrival. Emerging from his smoking capsule, the infant Primarch soon encountered a deadly mother Thunderwolf. He was doomed, yet fate, it seemed, had other ideas. Sensing in the feral youth a kindred spirit, the giant she-wolf did not kill the child, but instead raised him alongside her cubs as one of her own. The Imperium's records concerning the Space Wolves' heritage and Russ' origins owe much to the life's work of Gnauril the Elder, a contemporary of the ancient Fenrisian king Thengir. Gnauril's saga, The Ascension of the Wolf-King, tells of one fateful Helwinter, when the feral wolf-child was discovered by a hunting party of Fenrisian tribesmen. In a vicious confrontation, the wolf-mother was slain by their spears and arrows, along with many of her cubs. The Primarch fought with terrible fury, slaying a dozen warriors with naught but his bare hands to protect his two surviving packmates, Freki and Geri.

It was then that fate intervened once more. One of the tribesmen at last recognised the Primarch for what he was -- human, not wolf -- and called for his fellow huntsmen to lower their weapons. The bloodied youth stood his ground, fangs bared, but understood their peaceful gesture and stayed his wrath. Unsure quite what to do, the tribesmen brought the young Primarch and his wolf-kin – for he would not be parted from them -- before the court of King Thengir of the Russ tribe. The aging chieftain saw the undeniable potential in the young man and ordered that he be given a place within his household, there to be raised as a true Fenrisian -- as a warrior. Though many were left dumbfounded by the King's decision, time certainly proved Thengir wise.

Learning To Be Human

Amongst his own kind for the first time, Leman quickly learned their skills, showing a natural aptitude for the way of the warrior. He learned to speak, and mastered their primitive weapons -- iron axes and swords. Though he was quick to roar with laughter or bellow tunelessly in song, the Primarch slowly realized that he was more human than wolf, but far superior to both. When Russ handed the Champion of the King's Guard his battle-axes during their third sparring session after disarming him, Thengir admitted to himself that the young man was destined for greatness. The Primarch soon spoke the Fenrisian dialect of Low Gothic with powerful eloquence, and one evening, King Thengir deemed him worthy to receive a true name. The King named the former wolf-child Leman of the Russ. As the Primarch grew to maturity, he became the greatest of their number by far, leading the tribe's warriors to a thousand victories and more. Upon King Thengir's death, Leman of the Russ took his place upon the throne. So did the Wolf-King become a living legend across Fenris. It was only a matter of time before word of his fame reached the ears of one who desperately sought news of his lost sons.

A Heroic Rise to Power

Much of what is known of Leman Russ' early years is borne of hearsay and legend as his fame quickly spread throughout the tribes of Fenris. It was said that he was able to turn back whole armies of the King's enemies by himself without a scratch, to tear whole oak trees from the ground and snap them over his back in twain, and to wrestle Fenrisian Mammoths to the ground and roast one whole for his meal that evening. When King Thengir died, there was no question as to who should succeed him as the monarch of the Russ. Therefore, King Leman of the Russ took the throne. In time, his leadership was recognised by all the tribes of the frigid world, for all sought to benefit from his wisdom and extraordinary skill at arms on a world where the weak did not survive for very long.

The Wolf King

Thus it came to pass that Russ was hailed as King of all Fenris, the Wolf King, his judgement considered to be as strong as his sword-arm and his authority indisputable. No man nor beast could best the Wolf-King. No tribe could stand against his armies. Within Russ' kingdom a truce existed between man and wolf. His court was attended by the fiercest of warlords and the most beautiful of maidens. Tales of his mighty conquests spread like forest fires, and it was not long before the eyes of Terra turned upon his deeds. When the fleets of the Emperor's Great Crusade neared Fenris, they heard tales of Fenris' extraordinary Wolf-King. The legend of the Wolf-King was quickly identified as the work of a missing Primarch, and the Emperor descended to the planet. And so it was that the great, sky-spanning starships of the Emperor travelled to the center of the sea of stars, settling on the icy world of Fenris scant years after Russ' ascension to the throne he had forged by uniting all the fractious tribes of his world.

The Emperor and the Wolf-King

Leman russ by storykillinger

Primarch Leman Russ of the Space Wolves Legion at the beginning of the Great Crusade

The Emperor, disguised in a long, plain robe and cloaked in psychic runes of disguise and confusion entered the long hall of Russ. Those few natives that were sharp-eyed and sober, as well as the great Fenrisian Wolves, shrunk from this new, powerful presence. Russ refused to pay him homage as the Master of Mankind. The Emperor had known well that proud Russ would never bow to his rule without being beaten in a contest. The Emperor was convinced of his own power, and knew that such a challenge would be as nothing to him.

The Three Challenges

The strange wanderer approached the gnarled wood of the Wolf Throne and its gargantuan occupant, and stood firm, staring hard at where Russ was presiding over the feast. It was then that the stranger offered his challenge. The nature of the contest was for the Wolf King to decide. If he won, the stranger asked for nothing but to be allowed to drink at the right hand of Russ during the feast. Russ demanded that should the wanderer fail, he would serve at the king's behest for a year. Grimly, the stranger accepted. Russ challenged the Emperor to a series of tests. The Wolf King did not wish to spoil a good feast; his first challenge was to an eating competition. The stranger ate well indeed, consuming many times more than the stoutest warriors present without pause. But when he looked up from his plate, Russ had already consumed three entire aurochs. The stranger had lost the first challenge. But the king was enjoying his sport. He realised that the brown-cloaked traveller had the spirit of a Fenrisian. And so he challenged the outlander to a drinking bout. But by the time the wanderer had reached his sixth barrel of strong Fenrisian mead, there was no more to drink. The Wolf King had drained the entire feast dry. Once again the Emperor had lost. The light of anger appeared in the wanderer's eye.

Driven by disappointment in his offspring, the wanderer called Leman Russ a drunkard and a glutton, able to achieve nothing more in life than stuffing his face and bellowing hollow boasts. The Wolf King calmly laid down the consequences of his last challenge, and his court backed away as one. The court grew silent, daring not even to breathe as Russ drew his great sword from its scabbard and stepped onto the long banqueting table. For the third challenge Russ boasted he could defeat the Emperor in combat. The Emperor threw away his cloak, the hood falling from his face, his true form revealed. He stood far taller than any man present, swathed in light and clad in baroque golden Power Armour. This time, the Emperor defeated Russ, felling him with a mighty blow from his Power Glove. When Leman came back to consciousness within the hour, he admitted defeat and with a bloodied smile and a broken fang, he swore fealty to his true father, the Emperor of Mankind.

The VI Legion and the Great Crusade

"Here I am and
Here I shall Die.
— Attributed to Leman Russ, The Battle of Rising Fell, The Wolf Cull of Yarant

Spiriting the great Wolf King away from Fenris, the Emperor began Russ' tutelage in the ways and technology of his star-spanning Imperium. The Primarch's teaching and training went swiftly; it was only a matter of weeks before the Emperor judged Russ worthy of leading his armies in the Great Crusade across the galaxy. Leman Russ was introduced to the warriors of the VI Legion of Space Marines who had been created through the implantation of gene-seed organs that had been grown from his own DNA. And so it came to be that Leman Russ became the father, progenitor and Lord of the newly named Space Wolves Legion of the Legiones Astartes and joined the glorious action of the Great Crusade. He was armed with a thrice-blessed suit of Power Armour and his greatsword was replaced with the legendary Frostblade Mjalnar, whose teeth were torn from the maw of the Great Kraken Gormenjarl and were then used in its forging. Reputably, the blade could cleave the ice mountains of Fenris in half. With his mighty Frostblade, Russ plunged headlong into the fighting at the forefront of every battle, vanquishing all before him. Throughout the long and difficult battles of the Great Crusade, the Space Wolves and their lupine allies drawn from amongst the Fenrisian Wolves were always at the front line. Russ strode at the head of his Legion, slaughtering all who dared stand before him, his coming announced by the howling of the pack.

The Night of the Wolf

Following the infamous Ghenna Scouring, where an entire planet's population was butchered in a single night, the violent World Eaters Legion were publicly censured by the Emperor and commanded to stop using the dangerous cortical implants known as the Butcher's Nails. Imperial records state that two Primarchs came to Angron, both claiming to have been sent by the Emperor, intending to convince him to stop the dangerous practice. The first arrived soon after Angron joined his Legion after being unwillingly rescued from Nuceria. The second would not come until almost a century later. But by then, it would be too late to stop the tragedy that had already begun to unfold. The Night of the Wolf is a little known incident that occurred shortly after the massacre of the entire planetary population of Ghenna. The Primarch Leman Russ had been charged by the Emperor to take his Space Wolves Legion to Ghenna to bring the World Eaters to heel. The two Legions met at Malkoya, on the fields beyond the dead Ghennan city of that same name. The World Eaters, battered and bleeding from Ghenna's Imperial Compliance campaign, formed ragged lines before the assembled Space Wolves Legion.

Leman Russ & Angron

After their parley breaks down, tragically, the World Eaters, led by their Primarch Angron, fiercely fought against the Wolf King and his Space Wolves during the event known as The Night of the Wolf

The Primarchs stood before their hosts, armed and armoured -- Angron awash with blood and carved up by fresh wounds; Leman Russ in resplendent battle-plate the colour of the storms on his tempestuous homeworld of Fenris. In these early years of the Great Crusade, Angron still carried his first axe, the precursor to all others. He called it Widowmaker. It would break this very day, never to be used again. Russ carried Krakenmaw, his immense Chainblade, toothed by some Fenrisian sea-devil from that blighted world's many myths. Angron refused to recognise his brother's authority, and warned the Wolf King to depart before the situation became something that he would regret. But Russ refused to be cowed by the warlike Primarch. He informed Angron that the implantation surgeries must end, for the Emperor Himself had deemed it so. The massacres of newly discovered human worlds were to end with the fall of Ghenna. The World Eaters were to submit to the Space Wolves as their escorts for their Legion's return to Terra. Once they reached the Imperial Palace, everything would be done to remove the parasitic Butcher's Nails implants from the World Eaters' minds. Angron was not amused by Russ' implied threats.

No one ever saw who fired the first shot. In the decades after, the World Eaters claimed it came from the Space Wolves' lines, and the Space Wolves claimed the same of the XIIth Legion. Without either Primarch giving an order, the two Space Marine Legions fought. The Night of the Wolf, it was later called. Imperial archives referred to it as the Ghenna Scouring, omitting the moment the World Eaters and Space Wolves drew blood. A source of pride for both Legions, and a source of secret shame. Both claimed victory. But both feared they had actually lost, and in truth, the battle proved bloody but inconclusive. But the World Eaters did not return to Terra, and Angron refused to stop the implantation of his Astartes.

Horus Heresy

Scouring of Prospero2

The Primarch Leman Russ and his two Fenrisian Wolf brothers, Freki and Geri, during the Burning of Prospero.

Russ' actions in bringing new worlds into Imperial Compliance met with such rampant success that his conquests led him into the far corners of the galaxy, many light years from the Segmentum Solar. The Space Wolves were not the only Space Marine Legion to be reconciled with their genetic forebear. Gradually, all twenty Primarchs were reunited with the Emperor and went on to lead their own Legion of Space Marines. Many years passed, and thousands of human-settled worlds were brought into the Imperium, but eventually the Golden Age drew to its inevitable end. In an act that would scar the galaxy forever, Russ's brother Primarch Horus, the Warmaster of the Great Crusade and the progenitor of the Luna Wolves Legion as well as the most favoured son of the Emperor, turned from the light and embraced the Ruinous Powers to fulfill his dark ambition of replacing his father upon the throne of Terra. This great schism later known as the Horus Heresy would nearly rend the Imperium apart.

The rebellion of Horus tore the Imperium apart at its very birth and set Space Marine against Space Marine as the Primarchs and their Legions sided either for or against the Warmaster. At first, few suspected the heinous evil that had taken root within Horus, and some Legions stood aside from the conflict, unsure of what to do. Horus' trickery and deceit ensnared no less than nine Space Marine Legions, whether by coercion, misdirection or outright corruption. Some of the Legions that sided with Horus did so out of a sense of comradeship with their old Warmaster. It was only later that some had cause to regret their decision, but by then it was too late, for Horus had become corrupted in mind, body and soul. Indeed, Horus had pledged allegiance to the Dark Gods of Chaos in return for powers unimaginable to mortals –- even such mortals as the Primarchs.

Despite the treachery of many of his brothers, Leman Russ held true to the oath of fealty he swore to the Emperor on the day they first met. So did the Space Wolves remain fiercely loyal to the Emperor throughout the Horus Heresy. They took part in some of its most renowned actions, but from these dark times, more than ten thousand years ago, come few details of any certainty. It was a time of legends. It was an age of war. Such records as were made have not survived, and only many centuries later did chroniclers begin to describe the bloody events of those days. The Space Wolves, though not present for the closing days of the Heresy during the Battle of Terra, were intertwined in the foundations of the Horus Heresy. It was in the disastrous beginnings of this time that the Sons of Russ began their ages-long blood feud with the Thousand Sons Traitor Legion.

The Wolf King and the Burning of Prospero

Russ Breaks Magnus

At the conclusion of their epic confrontation, the Wolf King breaks Magnus the Red's back upon his knee.

In stark contrast to the feral and barbaric Space Wolves, the Thousand Sons Legion was fixated on the pursuit of lore and knowledge, particulalrly concerning the Warp and psychic sorcery. Their Primarch Magnus the Red possessed copper-skin, fiery hair and most striking of all, a single eye after the other was lost to his continued dabbling in sorcery. Magnus' strength was lauded as rivaling that of even Russ, but he preferred to expend his energies learning and pursuing ancient arcana than the arts of battle. His physical peculiarities were never remarked upon by the other Primarchs; after all, many of them bore some sort of physical peculiarity or another. Nonetheless, the Wolf King feared his brother's pursuit of sorcery, believing it to be inherently wicked and dishonourable. But the Emperor refused to hear Russ' suspicions, as Magnus was one of his own sons and the Emperor Himself was the mightiest psyker ever known to Mankind.

As the events leading up to the Horus Heresy ripened into terrible fruition, Magnus the Red sent a psychic message to the Emperor, warning him that Horus had been corrupted by the Ruinous Powers. But for the message to reach his father, it had to be powerful enough to disrupt the psychic wards that had been erected to surround the Imperial Palace, where the Emperor had been engaged in a highly secret project in the palace's lowest levels to open up the Eldar Webway to the use of Mankind. The disruption of the Emperor's wards allowed the malevolent entities of Chaos to penetrate into the Webway and put Terra itself at risk of a Chaotic assault. Greatly angered that Magnus had disregarded the Council of Nikaea's ruling that had made the use of sorcery illegal within the Imperium, the Emperor chose to believe that it was Magnus, not his beloved Horus, who had been corrupted by the Chaos Gods and was only seeking to make trouble for his brother.

The Thousand Sons had continued their practice of sorcery despite the Emperor's decree specifically forbidding it. Their guilt revealed, the Emperor saw no other choice but to send Leman Russ to the Thousand Sons' Legion homeworld of Prospero and bring back Magnus the Red with him to Terra to account for his actions and his violation of Imperial law. The Emperor believed Magnus and his Legion to be the true traitors and Russ was all too easily convinced likewise because of his own longstanding prejudice against sorcery and Magnus' unhealthy fascination with it. But once he and his Legion were in transit towards Prospero Horus "convinced" Russ of Magnus' treachery, and drove Russ into a furious rage against his brother. He further convinced the Wolf King that the Emperor had changed his orders and he wanted the Space Wolves and their accompanying forces from the Sisters of Silence and the Imperial Army to launch a full-scale planetary assault on Prospero to wipe out the Thousand Sons and slay Magnus before he could turn upon the Imperium. Horus' evil gambit proved all-too-successful and Prospero was assaulted and bombarded, killing thousands within days, its great city of Tizca, the City of Light, reduced to a shattered landscape of blazing pyramids. Ultimately, for all their wisdom, the Thousand Sons could not stand against the fury of the entire Space Wolves Legion and their Imperial allies on the field of war.

In the final titanic battle between Leman Russ and Magnus the Red, the sorcerous Primarch used sorcery to make himself stronger so that he could survive the Wolf King's assault. Enraged by this blatantly dishonourable trick, Russ gathered his strength and raised Magnus over his head and broke his brother's back over his knee. Summoning a Warp rift after calling out for aid to the Chaos God Tzeentch, the Changer of Ways, Magnus and his surviving Thousand Sons then escaped into the Warp, where they would swear vengeance upon the Emperor and the Imperium that had treated them so unjustly and brought down the pyramids of fabled Tizca. The grudge between the Space Wolves and the Thousand Sons would last for millennia, though the Space Wolves would be engaged far from Terra and would play no other major role during the most important battles of the Heresy.

Battle of the Alaxxes Nebula

Wolf King coverart

Leman Russ and his Space Wolves battle Alpharius and his elite Lernaean Terminators aboard the bridge of the Hrafnkel during the height of the Battle of the Alaxxes Nebula.

Following the Razing of Prospero, Leman Russ ordered his battered VIth Legion to muster within the Alaxxes Nebula. But unknown to the Wolf King, Horus had deployed the XXth Legion to launch a massive assault on Russ' battered and outnumbered Space Wolves. The Alpha Legion and its twin Primarchs, Alpharius Omegon, had long harboured deep grudges against the Space Wolves, and Russ in particular, for his criticism of their reliance upon trickery, manipulation and subterfuge to win battles rather than engaging in what the Space Wolves Primarch saw as honourable, open combat. The Alpha Legion relished the chance to prove their superiority against the arrogant Wolves of Fenris by delaying them long enough to keep them from contributing to the Imperial defence of Terra. Russ sent a distress call to the nearby White Scars, requesting that his brother Primarch Jaghatai Khan send his forces in order to assist the beleaguered VIth Legion against the traitorous Alpha Legion. Unsure as to which side the Space Wolves truly belonged, the Khagan sympathised with his brother Primarch's predicament, but refused to get involved until he was able to sort out the conflicting and often contradictory astropathic messages he had received. Until he knew, beyond a shadow of doubt, who was ally and who was an enemy, he refused to choose sides. Wishing his brother the best of luck, Jaghatai wished to seek his answers elsewhere.

Realising that VIth Legion faced a hopeless situation, Russ was demoralised and isolated himself within his personal chambers, forcing his First Captain Gunnar Gunnhilt, aboard the battleship Ragnorok, to assume command in his Primarch's absence. Ruminating upon the role the Emperor had forced upon him, Russ received counsel from Bjorn 'The One-Handed', a young Pack Leader in Tra (the Third Great Company) who had risen in much esteem since Prospero. He helped his Primarch come to terms with his past as the Emperor's 'Executioner', realising it had done nothing but brought ruin upon the Vlka Fenryka. Meanwhile, Gunnhilt led the Space Wolves fleet in a desperate breakout attempt or else be destroyed. Harried at every turn, the Space Wolves' fleet faced imminent destruction by the larger Alpha Legion fleet. Reinvigorated by the reemergence of the Wolf King, First Captain Gunnhilt and his crew sold their lives dearly in order to help slow the Alpha Legion advance, unfortunately the Alpha Legion fleet were still able to catch the limping Space Wolves fleet.

During the height of the ensuing battle, a large contingent of elite Cataphractii Terminators of Laernaean teleported aboard the bridge Russ's flagship, Hrafnkel, where the Wolf King seemingly battled Alpharius disguised as one of his own Laernaean Terminators. As the Alpha Legion were on the verge of ultimate victory, help arrived from an unexpected quarter, in the form of a large Dark Angels fleet led by a mobile Ramilies-class Starfort, the Chimaera, who had heard the Space Wolves' distress signals and determined that the VIth Legion were in fact still loyal to the Emperor. With the assistance of their Ist Legion cousins, the Space Wolves were able to force the Alpha Legion to withdraw.

In the battle's aftermath, the Wolf King and a contingent of his most trusted warriors sought audience with the Dark Angels' commander, Chapter Master Althalos, who was still ostensibly loyal to the Regent of Caliban, Luther. He informed the Primarch that his fleet had been despatched 59 years before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy by the Regent, in order to conquer worlds and establish outposts. The Dark Angels hidden within the Alaxxes Nebula had been completely unaware of the eruption of the galaxy-wide rebellion or Luther's corruption back home on Caliban. At some point they had received fractures of information, but had no clear view of who was now Loyalist or Traitor. During the battle, one of their officers, Captain Ormand, had secretly infiltrated the Wolf King's flagship in order to determine if the Space Wolves were still loyal to the Emperor. His duplicity was discovered by Rune Priest Kva, who brought him before Russ. Seeing the Space Wolves valiantly battle the treacherous Alpha Legion, Ormand determined the VIth Legion were still loyal and informed his commander of their intent. They had then intervened on the Wolves' behalf and help route the Traitor fleet. In exchange for men and matériel by the Dark Angels, the Wolf King gave a full accounting of the Warmaster's treachery and the view of the wider events that had thus far, played out across the galaxy. Saddened by the news, Chapter Master Althalos decided to lead his forces back towards Caliban while Russ decided to set course for Terra, and the inevitable showdown with his treacherous brother, Horus.

Battle of Terra

Siege Imperial Palace

The Traitor Legions lay siege to the Imperial Palace

During the final epic battle of the Heresy, the Space Wolves were still far from the Throneworld during the Siege of the Imperial Palace. Knowledge of the imminent arrival of two Loyalist Legions, which included the Space Wolves, would inevitably tip the balance in favour of the Loyalists. This pushed Horus at the climax of the Battle of Terra into allowing the Emperor to personally teleport aboard his flagship, the Vengeful Spirit, in orbit over Terra in a desperate gamble to bring the terrible civil war to a swift conclusion. The two Legions arrived just after the battle concluded, with the Warmaster and the Blood Angels' Primarch Sanguinius (killed at the hands of Horus), already dead. The Emperor Himself had been mortally wounded and was later interred within the arcane life support mechanisms of the Golden Throne by Rogal Dorn.

The Codex Astartes

The Space Wolves were not present during the final battle for Terra that ended the Heresy and doomed the Emperor to a living death in the stasis field of his Golden Throne. Afterwards, Leman Russ was to rage against the events that had kept him from his beloved sire. With the permanent enthronement of the Emperor came a different age for Mankind. The Primarchs were warriors, generals and leaders of men, not bureaucrats and politicians, so the responsibility of ruling the Imperium in the Emperor's name passed to the High Lords of Terra.

Both the High Lords and the surviving Primarchs dreaded the resurgence of Chaos. Many worlds were purged during a time of great retribution known as the Scouring. Throughout the galaxy, the tainted were sought out and destroyed. Never again could the Imperium tolerate the possibility of Space Marine armies falling under the influence of an enemy of Mankind. In accordance with the Ultramarines' Primarch Roboute Guilliman's seminal treatise, the Codex Astartes, the original Space Marine Legions were broken up into smaller 1,000-man Chapters and a code was drawn up to redefine their role and jurisdiction within the Imperium. Before the Heresy, a Legion had numbered Space Marines in their tens of thousands; under the new order each Chapter's size was limited to ten companies of approximately one hundred battle-brothers. The Legions still loyal to the Emperor would live on as "First Founding" Chapters, keeping their original names, colours and iconography. The remaining Space Marines from each loyalist Legion were then reorganised into a number of new Chapters. In each case, these Second Founding Chapters all shared a genetic brotherhood with their First Founding Chapter and their Primarch.

The Space Wolves were officially divided only once, creating the ill-fated Wolf Brothers Chapter. Leman Russ cared little for formal military organisation and tactics, ever relying on the strength and courage of his warriors to win the day. He had no intention of breaking apart his mighty Legion further in accordance with his brother's wishes. Though Guilliman ostensibly agreed to the Space Wolves retaining their twelve remaining Great Companies, each one still comprised many hundreds of Space Wolves and led by a Captain called a Wolf Lord, for the Wolf-King would have them fight in the manner of the native tribes of Fenris –- as an army of battle-hungry warriors, not a small contingent of disciplined and well-ordered troops. In this way the Space Wolves retained their original size and power in a way matched by no other Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes. Thus did the Space Wolves largely ignore the Codex Astartes, instead holding to the teachings of Russ, which still define their fighting methods to this day.

The Disappearance of Russ

"Listen but closely Brothers, for my life's breath is all but spent. There shall come a time far from now when our Chapter itself is dying, even as I am now dying, and our foes shall gather to destroy us. Then my children, I shall listen for your call in whatever realm of death holds me, and come I shall, no matter what the laws of life and death forbid. At the end I will be there. For the final battle. For the Wolftime."
— Last words of Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves Chapter, taken from the Codicium Imperialis, Vol. VI, Part I of the Liber Honorus

No one knows what happened to Leman Russ. Some say he disappeared in the Eye of Terror whilst searching for his old friend and rival, the Dark Angels Primarch Lion El'Jonson. Others say that, to this day, he walks disguised among Mankind, watching over the people of his Emperor and guarding them from the powers of Chaos. All that is known for sure is Leman Russ vanished in 211.M31, nearly two centuries after the Emperor was entombed upon the Golden Throne. All of the Space Wolves warriors and their Wolf Lords, including the Great Wolf himself, were gathered for a feast on Fenris. The holiday, known as the "Feast of the Emperor's Ascension," commemorated the day the Emperor defeated Horus and "ascended" back into the Immaterium after being entombed upon the Golden Throne.

On this occasion, Leman Russ quieted the great hall of his warriors to speak, but then froze in place as his eyes glazed over as if seeing a vision. The assembled Space Wolves looked on in horror as their Primarch fell to his knees and called for his Wolf Guard and closest retainers to attend him, all save the youngest, Bjorn the Fell-Handed. Giving his closest companions his instructions, Russ turned and left the Great Hall with his bodyguard in tow for a destination unknown, leaving only Bjorn behind. The tale of his disappearance is retold every thousand standard years by the Dreadnought Bjorn the Fell-Handed, the oldest Astartes Dreadnought still in service in the entire Imperium. It is believed by some Astartes amongst the Space Wolves that Russ left Fenris and journeyed into the Eye of Terror to find the fabled Tree of Life, a font of uncorrupted Warp energy hidden somewhere within the Immaterium that bears fruit said to be able to heal the Emperor and restore Him to full life.

Every standard year after his disappearance, Russ' place was laid at the same feast. Every year his drinking horn was filled should he return. For seven long, painful Terran years the Space Wolves waited patiently for their lost Wolf King to return to them, but when he failed to do so, Bjorn was elected the new Great Wolf and led the Chapter on their first Great Hunt to search for Russ. The Great Companies took to their voidships and sailed in separate directions across the Sea of Stars. They sought their lord on many worlds and in many places. They fought battles and overcame monsters and the tale of their deeds is too long to recount save on Allwinter's Eve when the Rune Priests gather to chant the sagas. The Space Wolves sought and they sought, and Bjorn eventually took his search to the Eye of Terror itself. There Bjorn was mortally wounded and entombed within the adamantium sarcophagus of a Dreadnought. Of Russ they found no sign till eventually they were recalled to Fenris, bearing nought but a few dismal prophesies and the tale of their adventure. Thus the first Great Hunt ended in failure and in sadness.

The second Great Hunt led to the recovery of Russ's armour from the Temple of Horus on the world of Rudra on the edge of the Eye of Terror. The fourth Great Hunt uncovered the Corellian Conspiracy and foiled its efforts to overthrow the Administratum in a bloody coup. The ninth Great Hunt led to the destruction of the Genestealer-infested worlds of the Gehenna System. Over the various Great Hunts in the millennia since, many glorious victories have been won, each hunt beginning when Russ speaks through visions into the minds of the Chapter's Rune Priests, granting his sons his wisdom from time to time and sending them on new quests. None have succeeded in the final goal of recovering their gene-father, but Russ has assured his sons with his final words that he will return to them in time for the final battle of the Imperium against the Forces of Chaos, a period he called the "Wolftime". Many Space Wolves believe that time will soon be upon them and the Imperium of Man at the end of the 41st Millennium, as various forces all seeking the destruction of Mankind begin their final assault upon humanity. Even now, reports of the 13th Great Company's return from the Eye of Terror during the 13th Black Crusade in 999.M41 may portend the return of the Wolf King...

Forces of the Wolf-King

The Wolf-Kin of Russ

Wolf-King of Russ

The Wolf-Kin of Russ - Freki the Swift and Geri the Cunning, ripping into the foe

Known as Freki the Swift and Geri the Cunning, the Hearth Wolves of the King, this pair of massive Fenrisian Wolves were said to be companions of the Wolf King from his earliest days as a foundling upon the bleak desolation of Fenris. These two creatures were beasts of prodigious size, formidable intelligence and a physical power that beggared belief in purely "natural" creatures of their type. The guardians of the Wolf King's hearth, from time to time when he called they followed alongside him into battle, becoming a potent symbol to the Space Wolves. They had come to symbolise not only their own savage natures but their spiritual connection to cold death itself. Both long followed their bellicose master onto countless battlefields as friends and protective bodyguards and keen watchers, and proved themselves more than capable of ripping apart their hated foes with their inhumanly powerful jaws and claws.

Varagyr Wolf Guard

The Varagyr were the chosen warriors of Leman Russ, hand-picked from his own Great Company to form his personal guard and close companions in war and council. To have attained such a rank and position, each had distinguished themselves in battle many times over, and each had forged their own saga worth the telling. More so than any other of Russ' sons, they were the wolves of his pack, marked by the great beast pelt which adorned their armour. To adopt this honour meant more than simply to walk in the Wolf King's shadow and lay down one's life for him if need be. It meant that at least for a time one had foregone the chance to lead one's brothers in battle, to watch while others struck, to stand fast and not seek out the glory of battle save when the lord of the Space Wolves commanded. When such coldly withheld fury was unleashed, however, it fell like a thunderbolt against the foe.

The charge of the Varagyr was terrible to behold, a tide of armour-clad, beast skin-draped hulks propelled by superhuman strength and inhuman ferocity. Given sufficient momentum to aid their charge, the Varagyr struck their foes like cannon shells, crushing and killing their enemies before even their fearsome blades struck.

Though all served the Wolf King faithfully and with fealty as his Honour Guard, the Varagyr also took great satisfaction in showing their superiority over the petty lords and champions of those they slew, vying to honour their master with the trophies of the slain justly anointed in the blood of the vanquished in the hopes of making a tale worth the telling.


Leman Russ 4

Leman Russ, the Lord of Winter and Ruin, wearing his fearsome panoply of war

  • The Armour of Elavagar - The warplate of Leman Russ was a suit of unique Artificer Armour whose origins can be tracked back to the mysterious period of bitter warfare which shrouds much of the Legion's history in the decades after the Primarch took over the VI Legion. It is accounted for now within the Space Wolves Chapter's chronicles by obscure metaphor and strange and macabre allegories impenetrable to outsiders. Within its shell were strange exothermic field generators, otherwise unknown of in the Imperium's arsenal of technology. These devices bleed energy, specifically heat and kinetic potential from their surroundings when triggered, with the effect of creating an aura of murderous chill around the Primarch at will. It is this effect which gave the armour its name to the Fenrisians -- Elavagar -- a wave of killing frost.
  • Mjalnar, The Sword of Banelight - A weapon of truly ancient mystery, the sword of Russ has gone by many names. To the Remembrancers of the Great Crusade, it is called Banelight -- a name itself a commonplace derivation of the High Terran Maledica Nocterum-- a dark legend carried during the Age of Strife where it passed through the hands of warlords and tyrants. But to the Wolves of Fenris it has always been Mjalnar -- the Fang of the Wolf King -- taken in battle as a blood-brought prize of victory. Ultimately, the Sword of Banelight is a Power Sword of unknown origin, a thing of terror and blood against which no armour can stand as the sword's sliver-white blade inexplicably darkens as it kills, first to the deep red of heart's blood, and then to a fathomless, glittering black.
  • Axe of Helwinter - Russ' favoured axe, though less strange and potent than his darkly fabled blade, was no less a weapon of great beauty and lethality. It was a Frost Axe, a prince amongst its kind, its edge made with the kraken-teeth of the mighty beast which gave the axe its name; a legendary menace slain by Russ himself before the coming of the Emperor to Fenris. Its murderous edge was further amplified by a disruption field generator which was a masterwork in its own right, so that a well-placed blow could split the armour plate of a battle tank.
  • Scornspitter - Once simply a Space Marine Legion Bolter, Scornspitter had been re-worked by no lesser hand than the Salamanders' Primarch Vulkan to form an outsized but perfectly balanced pistol suitable for the hands of the Wolf King. Though Russ and his Legion often stood apart from their fellows during the Great Crusade, this gift was one of honour, given after the two Primarchs' Legions fought the bitter campaign at San Katos together, and Russ held it and its giver in high regard.
  • Frag Grenades


  • Betrayer (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, pp. 240-242
  • Codex Adeptus Astartes - Space Wolves (8th Edition), pg. 6
  • Codex: Space Wolves (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), "Annals of the Space Wolves"
  • Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 57-66
  • Horus Heresy: Collected Visions (Background Book)
  • Index Astartes II, "Wolves of Fenris - The Space Wolves Space Marine Chapter"
  • Know No Fear (Novel) by Dan Abnett, Ch. 2
  • Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition), pp. 34, 76
  • Warhammer 40,000: Compendium (1st Edition), pp. 45, 148, 167, 194
  • The Horus Heresy - Book Seven: Inferno (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 236-239
  • Warhammer 40,000 Compilation (1st Edition), "Leman Russ"
  • Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition)
  • White Dwarf 117 (UK), pp. 13-14, 57, Back Cover
  • White Dwarf 283 (AUS), "Index Astartes – 13th Company"
  • White Dwarf 259 (AUS), "Index Astartes – The Space Wolves"
  • White Dwarf 258 (US), "Index Astartes First Founding: Wolves of Fenris"
  • White Dwarf 247 (AUS), "Codicium Imperialis – The Space Wolves"
  • White Dwarf 244 (US), "Codex Space Wolves", "Sons of Russ - Codex Space Wolves," "Super-Interchangeable Space Wolves," and "The Battle of the Fang", pp. 7-19
  • White Dwarf 231 (US), "Chapter Approved - Codex Space Wolves (Preview)", pp. 71-77
  • A Thousand Sons (Novel) by Graham McNeill
  • Prospero Burns (Novel) by Dan Abnett (including cover)
  • Battle of The Fang (Novel) by Chris Wraith
  • The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Ch.21
  • The Space Wolf Omnibus (Omnibus Novel) by William King, pp. 193-194
  • Vengeful Spirit (Novel) by Graham McNeill
  • Wolf King (Novella) by Chris Wraight
  • False Gods (Novel) by Graham McNeill, Ch. 21
  • The Path of Heaven by Chris Wraight
  • Corax (Anthology) by Gav Thorpe, "The Weregild"
  • Wolfsbane (Novel) by Guy Haley, Chs. 1, 6-9, 13, 15-27
  • Two Metaphysical Blades (Short Story) by Chris Wraight
  • Forge World - Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves
  • Forge World - Leman Russ Rules
  • Forge World - Wolf-Kin of Russ
  • Forge World - Leman Russ & The Wolf-Kin
Horus Leman Russ Lost Primarchs Ferrus Manus Fulgrim Vulkan Rogal Dorn Roboute Guilliman Magnus the Red Sanguinius Lion El'Jonson Perturabo Mortarion Lorgar Jaghatai Khan Konrad Curze Angron Corvus CoraxAlpharius Omegon


The Horus Heresy Character Series Leman Russ

The Horus Heresy Character Series Leman Russ

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