"Rein your beast!" the Dark Apostle said "we have already lost three helots to its rages and it risks to endanger the other beasts too. Do it Shorta, or I will do it for you!"
Shorta grinned but then thought better and lowered his gaze, it was not in his right to question the Dark Apostle and if it wouldn't be for the patronage of his master he would have never risen high in the esteem of Khorne, the Blood Hand of Chaos.
Zurshakl was a temperamental steed, a spirited Juggernaut which never failed to amuse his Word Bearer rider with the sheer malice it exuded. A fine steed, a beast of blood and brass, savage and unpredictable, the avatar of Khorne's insatiable lust for violence.
The floor shook, Shorta smiled, again the beasts were competing for leadership, charging, fighting, gouging, trampling anything and anyone in their vicinity. Although lost in the cavernous holds of the mighty battlecruiser, the Crucible was as much a ground of trials as it was a shrine to the eldest brother of the Four.
The first thing greeting the Word Bearer were the remains of the trampled helots. Stacked in a gory pile outside the shrine, their mauled bodies were awaiting a servitor to retrieve them for the incinerator. A small tribute to the Bloody One, Shorta nodded as he entered the Crucible.
Reeking of blood and offal, the shrine was a temple to warriors of all creeds. Cages filled with combatants donned the roof of the chamber, the blood spilling from them elaborately pooling on the anvil upon which a Warpsmith was forging a weapon, thus honoring the god of battles.
At the end of the vast chamber, hidden behind a wall of spikes upon which the last offerings were bleeding their last, Shorta saw the ring. Five massive Juggernauts were butting their crested heads, heedless of the mortals observing them, intent on establishing the dominance of the pack.
"They are restless, they feel the wind of war blowing across the ship..." Mertak observed. A broad legionary, Mertak was the Sergeant of his coterie, a burly warrior who, it seems, took at heart the lessons learned from the Eaters of Worlds, so long ago. "They are always restless..." Shorta replied, and this was true. The Juggernauts never slept, never rested, for the beasts every breath was a challenge, every movement a threat, every step a provocation.
"The Dark Apostle wants them to stop" Shorta added. "He is welcome to try" Zerak joked coming from the other side of the ring, his crested helm in the crook of his arm. "Jest not brother, you know what happened the last time..." Shorta left the words hang in the air and his two brothers fell silent, remembering full well what punishment has befallen their coterie on that day.
"I fancy not a ride chained on the back of my steed, brother, but the beasts are restless, Khorne calls to them, I feel it and I know you feel it too. They hunger for blood, HE hungers for blood..." Mertak grimly added and the other two nodded.
"Than they shall have blood" a voice echoed in the Crucible and all turned toward the entrance. A massive figure clad in ancient terminator armor loomed under the archway and all the celebrants in the chamber fell on their knees.
"Coryphaus" was all Shorta managed to say before the figure silenced him with a gesture of his hand.
"The beasts are restless, aye, Khorne demands a tribute and we shall give him one to placate his ire. Gather your warriors Lieutenant, you will make planetfall within the hour." Shorta straightened himself and asked of his commander "Where to, lord, where shall the Brotherhood of the Axe descend, whom we hunt?" Mertak and Zerak closed their fists around their weapons, eager to be unleashed.
"You will not hunt today Lieutenant, they will" and the Coryphaus pointed at the five Juggernauts tearing into each other in the ring. "They are creatures of the Blood God and their nostrils cavort only one scent, witch-scent. As we exit the Warp we will translate near the moon of Oplanis, an uninhabited planetoid save for a conclave of Astropaths, a relay temple. The Dark Apostle demands silence so he can listen to the song of the Neverborn undistubed. You will follow the witch-scent and finish with your axes what your beasts did not trample to death. Understood?"
"I will need more helots to corral the beasts into the lander, they wont survive." Shorta added. "You shall have a dozen of them, make them count Lieutenant or it is you who shall herd your mounts next time."
Shorta grinned "a dozen will suffice my lord, more orders?"
"Yes, leave not a stone unturned, not a witch alive. That would be all lieutenant. Make haste, our lord Apostle is anxious to hear the song again."
Edited by Diabolist, 30 January 2016 - 10:54 PM.