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Where was I, brothers? It is hard to concentrate these days. Ah yes, Jarl Rikkard had not yet become one of us.
The trials an aspirant must endure to become part of the Rout are extreme and even strong young men such as Rikkard may fall short. Nevertheless, Rikkard progressed well alongside his cohort of fellow aspirants. Not all made it, of course, but we do not speak of them. We know their fate.
Both Rikkard and another lad, named Patrekr, soon rose to prominence amongst the fledgling pack. Rarely were there two more contrasting warriors; Rikkard, built like a bear with a spirit to match, and Patrekr, more lean in body but with a mind so sharp he was soon outstripping his teachers. Together they formed a somewhat unlikely friendship, forming a partnership that was more than the sum of its parts.
Both young warriors were earmarked for leadership, and when the time came for the instructors to declare who would have the honour of becoming pack leader of their cohort, there was much debate. Eventually, Patrekr received the honour, the elders believing his more calm and intellectual nature would better keep the young and impetuous warriors in check, as opposed to Rikkard's more bellicose nature which would require some tempering before he could be forged into a great leader.
Rikkard was naturally disappointed but bore no grudge towards his friend. Rikkard was the first to pledge himself to his brother's command as the fledgling warriors became Blood Claws and were finally inducted into a Great Company; Fyf, under the Jarlship of the young and dynamic Egberd Greywolf.
There is always at least one Great Company present in the Aett to defend hearth and home and when Rikkard joined Egberd's Company, they had just begun their turn at fulfilling that obligation. Thus it was a long time, too long for a keen young warrior, before the call for deployment finally came.
Orks had dared to bring their foulness to the Allfather's worlds, and the Rout were to respond to the call for aid. Exuberant, Patrekr's pack trained, and drilled, and sparred, to prepare for the moment when they would finally come face-to-face with the enemy.
That day came and Jarl Egberd declared that the company would deploy via drop pod in an audacious attempt to eliminate the vile leader of the Orks. As we know, if that which brings the Orks together is removed, they fall into disarray. Once that happens, they may be culled more easily.
Such a plan was music to Rikkard's ears. Perhaps even he would be the one to slay the great beast. So it was that Patrekr led his pack onto the embarkation deck to board their drop pods; half the pack going with Patrekr, the other half with Rikkard, who was the de facto second-in-command of the pack, despite no such position officially existing.
But alas, the drop was a disaster. Egberd had overestimated his capabilities, and underestimated the Orks. Several drop pods were blasted out of the sky by crazy Ork guns and the landing site itself was nothing more than a trap. Rikkard's drop pod caught a glancing hit and began spinning insanely, its emergency stabilisers not effective enough to fully correct the trajectory before it hit the ground.
Wyrd is a cruel thing and it was wyrd that decided that fully half of the warriors inside the ill-fated drop pod would be denied their chance to knock down an enemy in service to the Allfather. Many threads were cut in a single instant. Rikkard, of course, was among the survivors who forced their way out of the burning pod to be greeted by the bellows and gurning faces of charging Orks. The battered young warriors fought like kings among men and all the warriors of the Rout were similarly assailed. It was every warrior for himself; there was no time to look to one's brothers on that battlefield.
As ever, the Rout prevailed but not without great cost. Sometimes fate cuts threads singularly with a razor blade, sometimes it reaps great swathes with a scythe. Egberd took the head of the great beast, but Fyf was a shadow of itself. It was a hard lesson for the young Jarl, but Egberd Greywolf learned it well.
There followed many years of glorious battles and far too many accounts to mention here. In a depleted company, it was easier for a warrior like Rikkard to make a name for himself and indeed the Jarl had his eye on this promising young wolf.
Jorn, Skald of Fyf, continues his account tomorrow.