The war had ended years ago, and they had lost it. For most of the folks around the north it actually ended up being a good thing. The old ways, the constant fighting between the clans, the raids, the never ending cycle of vendetta, were all banned under the rule of the emperors,and it didn't take too long for ordinary people to settle in the new, peaceful way of living... But it was not an option for Hrotgar and people like him.
Bred and raised for war, they all had been twisted and malformed by the powers of old gods and dark magic to serve their purpose as half-men and half-beasts: Wolf-men, bear-warriors, killers with the cunning of human and the singular will and strength of the beast. They were made to be the unstoppable force crushing the shield-walls of the enemy, to bring terror and slaughter among them. But still, when they lost...
They lost everything.
Maybe Hrotgar was one of the lucky ones, one might think. Unlike so many of his comrades-in arms, he didn't descent to madness, didn't succumb to the will of his inner beast, didn't arrive to his home village to slaughter his kin. No, Hrotgar was far too bitter old bastard for that. Bitter for kings and gods, bitter for the world that now rejected him when he was no longer needed. He was bitter for the life he never had, bitter for the friends he had lost, bitter for the bastard gods who didn't let him go.
So Hrotgar renounced all gods, all ties to his tribe, and walked away. If the only thing he was good at was killing, then that would be his way to make his living. After decades of war the woods and hills were filled with wile monsters and other creatures, and the imperial officials were more than happy to pay good silver for anyone who would do the dirty work for them. And Hrotgar, the half-man, the bear-warrior and shield-basher was made for fights like that. The old world was dying, and he was more than happy to give it a few kicks to speed up it's passing.
So, here he stood again: In front of yet another monster, who was once a man like him and who he had called a brother in arms. A wretched creature, who had forgotten all his humanity, and killed not only his old family but half of the village's garrison as well. Slowly Hrotgar removed his cape, and felt the stirring of his beast-blood as he watched the creature, standing midst the blood of his prey. Some kind of recognition flickered in it's eyes, as it ceased it's feasting and watched Hrotgar intensely.
Hrotgar would have felt himself very tired, but instead of that the battle-joy started to fill his veins with hot blood. He smiled, not like a man, but like a beast. "Nice to meet you again, Ulf. I remember you. Together we crashed the shiel-wall in Beruga and painted the fields with imperial blood. Good old days", he said, flexing his muscles, happy with the lightness of his step, the strength of his arms as the axe weighted nothing, nothing at all. The beast didn't waver, didn't even blink, a quiet growling escaping from it's mouth. "But the old days are gone, and now I'm here to paint this field with your blood. I'm going to send you back to those old fucking gods hiding in their groves to tell that I'm coming for them next". The beast took a step forward, lifting it's claws. Hrotgar felt his canines growing bigger, felt the fur rising to cover his old battle-scars, felt the power of the gods he so despised now. "Let us begin", he said as the beast leaped.