Gather round, young ones. Pour yourselves a horn of mjød and let this humble Skjald recount the saga of the Young King, Ragnar Blackmane. His story began when the Wolf’s Eye raged fierce in the sky and the sea roared with the fury of Kraken…
Ragnar was born to the Thunderfist tribe on Fenris. From a young age, Ragnar showed great promise, and he grew to become a capable warrior. But his skill in battle would soon be put to the test when a rival tribe, the Grimskulls, invaded his village and slaughtered the Thunderfists while they feasted, unaware of the danger in their midst.
After witnessing his father being cut down, Ragnar slew many Grimskulls in a fit of rage and even went blade to blade with their champion, Strybjorn. Ragnar and Strybjorn proved equal in skill, and each inflicted mortal wounds upon the other. Yet before they succumbed to their injuries, both warriors were spirited away to the Fang by the Wolf Priest Ranek Icewalker, who had watched their duel with interest from afar – their destiny was not to die but to join the ranks of the Allfather’s Sky Warriors.
Birth of a Saga
Ragnar was to earn his famous epithet while undertaking his Trial of Morkai. Abandoned a thousand miles from the Fang, naked and alone, Ragnar battled the merciless elements and countless dangers of his deadly home world on his quest to return to the mountain fortress of the Space Wolves. Yet his peril was never greater than when a Blackmaned Wolf picked up his scent…
A deadly alpha species of Fenrisian Wolf, Blackmanes are by far the most formidable of their kind, able to crush an adamantium rod in a single bite. Yet against seemingly impossible odds, Ragnar slew the dread creature and took its pelt to stave off the bitter cold. When he eventually returned to the Fang, cloaked in the thick, ebon fur of a Blackmane, none could deny that he was destined for greatness. From that day forth, he was Ragnar Thunderfirst no longer – he was Ragnar Blackmane.
The Spear of Russ
When, as a young Blood Claw, Ragnar accompanied his Wolf Lord Berek Thunderfist* to the world of Garm, his wyrd became inextricably bound to the Spear of Russ – the fateful weapon forged by the Allfather Himself. The Space Wolves discovered that the Thousand Sons Sorcerer, Madox, was using the power of the spear to fuel a fell ritual that would summon forth Magnus the Red. Ragnar proved instrumental in thwarting Madox’s plan by casting the spear through the portal at the Daemon Primarch. Though this deed ultimately saw the Space Wolves triumph, victory came at the cost of a treasured relic of the Chapter.
Even though Ragnar’s adventures would later see him reclaim the Spear of Russ,** he was sent to Terra to serve among the Wolfblades until the furor over his actions died down. The Wolfblades are an honour guard of House Belisarius, created by an ancient pact forged between Leman Russ and the Navigator House.
During his time there, Ragnar saved one of the Navigators, Lady Gabriella, from a plot devised by a rival House. He was granted Frostfang as a reward – a frost blade that had been wielded by a champion of the Wolfblades for many generations. Ragnar has carried this mighty weapon into battle ever since.
A Meteoric Rise
Shortly after returning to the Chapter, Ragnar was promoted to Berek Thunderfist’s Wolf Guard straight from the Blood Claws – an exceptionally rare privilege – when he slaughtered the Ork Warboss Borzag Khan and his entire Nobz bodyguard single-handed. A few years later, when Berek fell in mortal combat with a dread champion of Khorne, Ghorox Bloodfist, Ragnar rallied the Wolf Guard to his side and led the hunt for their Wolf Lord’s killer.
Once their Wolf Lord’s death had been avenged, the Wolf Guard unanimously elected Ragnar to be named Berek Thunderfist’s successor, making him the youngest warrior in the history of the Chapter to become a Jarl. The Thunderfists Great Company would henceforth be known as the Blackmanes, and Ragnar chose the head of a Blackmaned Wolf’s to be his symbol.
A Fateful Duel
Ragnar has ruled the Blackmanes for some years now, and though he has lost none of the wild aggression of his youth, it has been tempered by hard-won experience. Many believe Ragnar to be the heir apparent to Logan Grimnar should the Great Wolf fall in battle. Yet the Young King was to finally meet his match in the infamous Ork Warboss, Ghazghkull Thraka.
After boldly infiltrating Krongar with only a handful of his fellow warriors, Ragnar faced the giant greenskin warlord in personal combat. When, at the duel’s climax, Ghazgkhull hoisted Ragnar in the air and began crushing the life out of the Wolf Lord with his enormous power klaw, it seemed that all was lost. Yet, grimacing against the pain, Ragnar was able to free his sword arm and severed the monstrous Ork’s head from his shoulders with Frostfang.
Though life had all but left his body in the battle’s aftermath, Ragnar was rescued and borne across the Rubicon Primaris in order to revive him. Yet Ghazghkull, too, has returned from death, and is now more dangerous than ever. Fearless as always, Ragnar has now set his sights on returning to Krongar to finish his greenskin nemesis once and for all…
Despite Ghazghkull’s best efforts, Ragnar’s saga is far from over. You can read more heroic deeds of the Space Wolves in Saga of the Beast, and even replay the events that took place when Ragnar and Ghazghkull met for round 2, in Prophecy of the Wolf – and they’re both up for pre-order this Saturday. And did we mention that it includes both of their stunning new miniatures? In the meantime, make sure you read Ragnar’s full origin story in The Space Wolf Omnibus – you’ll soon realise why he’s among Warhammer 40,000’s most beloved characters!
* On a side note, Berek was named ‘Thunderfist’ not because he hailed from the same Fenrisian tribe as Ragnar, but for his strength of his bionic arm – the original limb having been severed in combat with none other than Khârn the Betrayer.
** The Spear of Russ now rests safe and sound in the armoury of the Great Wolf.
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