Within the death glazed cast of his eyes reflected the angry riot of color that the sky had become. Swelling nebulae of pinks and purples swallowed deep hues of red and orange, swirling in violet and turning, burning, and dying to cool blue and green and all the other manic colors of the hell unleashed by traitor perfidy. It was a stark contrast to the gray rockcrete dust in which his body lay. The soot caked the broken black plate that clothed him, peppered in spatters of blood; some his own, some not. It was as though the planet mourned for him, cradling its fallen defender in the crestfallen prayers of quiet, shell pocked stone even as the sky reveled in his defeat. Somewhere the staccato boom of gunfire echoed, an unwitting salute to his centuries of service. Suddenly, a great shadow loomed across the corpse of Marshal Ansgar of the Black Templars, and a scaled, corpse gray talon of a foot crushed down into the earth around him.
"Now you see, fool," the daemon breathed. "just how futile it has always been." The voice seemed to come from each of three silver skulls that had grown from a monstrous helmet, jaws locked open in howling agony. Two horns jutted from its triple brow, each glowing with caged warp flame and cradling a jagged crown of gleaming jet shards. It spread its massive, apish arms wide and as it did, its impossible black wings stretched to their full span.
"Behold, Ansgar, Hero of the Imperium," Orbus the Resplendent spat the mocking title like a curse. "the death of all you hold dear."
The creature's three skulls seemed to change expression from one of horror to mockery as the beast turned its mammoth helm to gaze upon the tear in the sky. Its great lungs tasted the heat in the air eagerly and daemons swarmed around its feet, licking at the blood on the ground and snarling at one another in challenge. For a moment, the prince of daemons surveyed the hellish battleground, privately rejoicing in the deaths it witnessed, feeding on the pain and terror of its coming. A joke came to it, as it thought of these zealots, dying for a god its father created. All walked the path of the Urizen. Some were simply further along than others. Did that mean it was murdering the faithful? Were the servants of the Imperium not simply infants, taking but their first shaking steps upon its own road of faith? Were they not the same? Orbus laughed because it did not matter, and turned back to its dead opponent.
"Four long centuries, you have endured," it snarled. "Only to be found wanting here, now, at the beginning of the end."
Orbus snorted, thinking of the millennia it had devoted to its father's work.
"You were an insect," it mused. "You were always an insect. Insignificant, and I told you so, and only now that your guts are being devoured by my pets could you begin to fathom that truth."
Orbus sighed in mock disappointment.
"But you cannot, for you are dead, mighty Ansgar."
Orbus bent down, bringing its skulls within inches of Ansgar's ruined head and inhaled deeply. It sounded like a small hurricane. Orbus laughed.
"I can smell your soul stuff reaching to the infinite," the daemon gasped in pleasure as it looked back up toward the sky. "Is it not magnificent, my most unworthy nemesis? Is it not wondrous?"
"But alas," Orbus chuckled as he whipped his head back to regard the broken body at its feet. "It is not for you, brother."
The daemon's chuckling grew to cacophonous laughter in one skull, curdled to horrified shrieking in another, and as Orbus extended the brass gilded talons of its hands to caress the ruined face of its enemy, it spoke calmly through the third, "Allow me to heap upon you one final injustice."
To be continued...
Edited by Godspear, 23 October 2019 - 09:45 PM.