'They will never truly accept you.'
Folkvar turned to see the Runemaster trudging down the stairs towards him. Ruadhar slung his staff over his shoulder in much the same way as his Aurics did. To him, it was a symbol of office and a weapon - he still carried himself with the vigour of a much younger duardin.
'Come to proselytise to me again, gnollengrom?' replied Folkvar with a weary grin.
'You are a warrior,' said Ruadhar as he sat himself down next to the young duardin. 'You have also led before. I see much of Grimnir within you, but I am zharrgrim. I see Grimnir where others do not.'
'You sound like you have the gold fever.'
'I'm being serious, flameling.'
Folkvar bowed his head, embarrassed at his glib and disrespectful response to his elder.
Ruadhar waved his hand dismissively.
'They' - he said as he jabbed his staff at the fyreslayers guarding the realmgate - 'need a leader. You already have the undying loyalty of your Stormcast companions - who see you as some bloody prophet for all the sense they have.
'Our Runefather is dead. His sons - all two of them - are dead. Before long, the rest of us will scatter. Or that lunatic the Zangorm will harvest us all for ur-gold.'
Folkvar snorted at the mention of the avaricious grimwrath of Ashenhold.
'Your coming here was foretold. I saw it in the flames, and I believe it. That same bitter refusal to die - to give up - brought you to this world. That same fury and stubbornness of Grimnir. So, if you really think about it, it is Grimnir that sent you here after all.
'Besides, what else are you going to do?'
Folkvar stood before the altar deep within the forge temple; Vulcatrix and Grimnir loomed above him, locked in an eternal struggle.
Two Runesmiters stood at either side of him. He held up his arms and they stripped him of his armour and his garments, until he stood before the altar in naught but his loincloth, his bedraggled brown beard virtually all that was left to cover him.
'Who seeks the gift of Grimnir?' boomed the voice of Ruadhar.
'I do,' said Folkvar, his voice sounding weak and hoarse to himself.
'What is your name, lad?'
'I am Folkvar, son of Hroki of the Hrukvorn clan, called the Daemonbane and the Lord of Ashes.'
'Approach the anvil, Folkvar Hrokisson.'
Folkvar slowly appraoched the anvil that Ruadhar was stood beside. To the Runemaster's left was an ancient stone table upon which lay various smithing tools. Behind him - directly below the likenesses of Grimnir and Vulcatrix - roared a great furnace.
Folkvar knelt before the anvil. As he did so, the two Runesmiters approached and pressed his chest into the warm steel. Ruadhar drew a white-hot rune of ur-gold from the furnace with a pair of tongs, and took up a hammer from the stone table as he slowly made his way around until he stood behind Folkvar.
'Grimnir tests us with pain, and rewards us with fire,' boomed Ruadhar as he pressed the rune into Folkvar's back.
Folkvar hissed and gritted his teeth, clutching at the anvil.
'Try to relax,' whispered one of the masked Runesmiters gripping his shoulders. 'Resisting makes the pain worse.'
Folkvar's world span as Ruadhar's hammer struck, the pain intensifying ten times over. He gripped the anvil tighter, suddenly becoming aware of an agonising roar. The hammer struck again and again, heat surging through his entire body with every strike until he felt the heat and the pain suffuse with his very being.
'You will be reforged in the likeness of Grimnir,' intoned Ruadhar as he strode back over to the furnace, reaching in once more to pluck out another ur-gold rune.
'You will never be the same.'