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King's Fall


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#1
Shinros

Shinros

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New story, tackling Emperor's Children again. The updates on this one will be somewhat irregular depending on how work goes. I hope you enjoy it! 

 

Prologue
 
Luther 
 
Ruination was coming, I could sense it, feel it in my bones. The incense swimming through the church did little to calm my nerves, but I was pleased to see the monks and nuns of this humble house were ready. In a way they were shaming me and as leader of this holy house I had to display a brave front; It was hard to do for the heretics tearing through the world were meant to be more or less fairy tales, warnings to the larger populace. My eyes were already opened, so I do not worry for myself but for those who are standing at my side. No one is ready to handle the fact that those tales are very real. 
     While taking a deep breath I peeked over the bench, my grip upon my holy icon grew tighter as the very church was shaking, it wasn’t because of the ordnance but due to the strange long wailing belonging to the civilians of Myrene. With the crude screams in mind my eyes drifted over everyone again, that was when I realised the determination I thought I saw wasn’t there, they were terrified of the unknown, the strange and dark enemy that sought our world. They were all sweating, whispering to themselves or holding back tears.
    I was about to spring into action to calm everyone that was when the doors rumbled violently, autoguns were quickly trained upon it. Seeing the doors shake again caused a bead of sweat to fall down my brow, that was when the large wooden doors flung open, we were quickly greeted by the tide of heretics.
     I couldn’t help but shudder as I laid eyes upon them, crude warriors wearing a mix of dirty furs, spiked leather and oddly coloured flak armour; Some of them were also holding banners of purple silk that were torn at the reams, each banner-bearer swung them wildly while screaming in odd obscenities that hurt my ears. Their increased presence also bought a final change, one that chilled my blood. The incense transformed, it became floral in terms of scent, before it was crisp and clean, now it was both sickening and overpowering. This change caught the rest off guard as well, giving the heretics the time to swamp them. 
    My heart cried out as some tried to fight back, their bullets going awry as they tried to execute the Emperor’s will. The black tide washed over them, bringing destruction to their bodies and souls, the heretics didn’t stop there either; They tore apart benches with their guns, smashed statues and windows. They were all laughing as they committed these vile acts, some were even crying with joy. 
    As the destruction grew, I ground my teeth. I rose to my feet and lifted up my holy icon to the dark mass which sought to defile and devour everything I have known. The holy words were about to leave my lips but suddenly the horde froze; Their eyes turned back to the doors brimming with sunlight and to my shock the heretics parted in silence, making way for darkness made manifest. A fallen angel walked into my church. 
    Its power armour was multi-coloured the rims were bright gold, trinkets and spiked leather also dangled from different sections of its armour. But what truly had me on edge was its face, it looked human an apex one at that, soft features, long white hair and piercing crystalline eyes.  As it took the first step into my holy house the ground around it transformed into a milky white consistency, the benches slowly drifted away as if repelled and the statues also turned their heads, each them started to weep blood.
    Terror was welling up in my gut seeing this, a dark chill gripped my heart and within a few breaths it was now a few paces away from me. The creature was now standing still, staring at me as if I was an animal and in turn I could only say one word. ‘Why?’ 
    The fallen angel gave me a devilish smirk which came with a casual shrug in return to my question. ‘Why not?’ 
    That was all I needed. It was what I needed to hear to dispel the black horror from my body. I bought my holy icon up to the creature, who raised its eyebrow. Like all creatures of darkness they underestimate His power. ‘Cadunt ad lucem!’ The ecclesiarchy symbol in my hand released a wave of light that washed over the church, the joyful howls of the heretics turned into pained screams. 
    I couldn’t see what was happening due to the brilliance but I had faith, I knew He was with me. I could tell since the screams were growing, I was about to smile; That was until a hand reached out from the light and suddenly His power was silenced. With the brilliance gone I could see the fallen angel’s clawed gauntlet was wrapped around my right hand and only very few of the heretics fell, scorched by the light.
     Seeing this, I blinked in shock. ‘H-How?’ I stammered. 
     The dark angel smiled again, this time it was all teeth. ‘Where did you learn that?’ curiosity was dripping from its voice. I didn’t respond. I tried to wrench my hand free but its grip was far too tight. 
     I quickly realised there was only one way to free myself and kill the creature. I repeated the holy words again, this time far more loudly. ‘Cadu-’
     I didn’t get the chance to finish, the fallen angel’s other hand went for my throat. It began to squeeze it and with the added pressure my body grew slack, spots filled my eyes and within a few moments I only saw darkness.

Edited by Shinros, 11 April 2020 - 09:23 PM.

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#2
Shinros

Shinros

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Chapter 1
 
Andreas
 
I adjusted the branding iron, it was brimming a bright orange as it rested within the brazier. While I worked I reflected, it was fun destroying the last world, but as with all joys they always come to an end and new ones had to be found. But I had to admit it was nice returning to the King’s Court. Certain joys were only available on the battle cruiser and I missed them in a way. I missed my golden statues that were a perfect rendition of myself, I missed my mirrors and I missed the wine, Seiriol’s concoctions are always on point.
      Yet as I reflected I realised how quickly I’m becoming bored of those joys. Perhaps that was why I haven’t killed it yet? Maybe my interest might be held by a lesser creature? I glanced at it, the bald, round chubby priest with dark skin. It still struggled, it still fought even as the sculpulytes held it down. Two of them were enough, the androynous creatures were crafted by Seiriol’s flesh shaping rites, they were all bovine in some aspect from hooves to horns. But no matter if they were more masciline or femine they all bear the necessary features to keep my eyes from being offended. 
     Still, it was hard staring at the priest, he didn’t deserve to be in the same picture as them. If it was anyone else I would end their lives and have the sculpulytes burn down their bodies, but the light it produced holds me at bay. So I asked it a question. ‘Do you have a name?’ 
     The human stopped struggling, it tensed and ground its teeth for a moment. ‘I won’t give my name to filth like you!’ it hissed.
      Again such an insult would be the death of anyone on this ship or I would tear out their tongues but I bared it for now. ‘Fine, I will call you Slave Seventy-Two or Slave if I feel lazy.’ The number was random but saying the word “slave” caused the priest’s eyes to widen slightly, it started to struggle again and this time it thrashed its legs. It was there I started to like Slave Seventy-two, perhaps the creature will actually amuse me? ‘So, Slave Seventy-Two how did you produce that light?’ As the question passed my lips I tapped the head of the branding iron on the coals. The human didn’t even wince once at the action. 
      ‘Darkness makes way for the light of the Emperor, Fallen Angel.’ The reverence in its voice was disgusting and as he uttered His name my skin started to tingle slightly. The sculpulytes’ didn’t react kindly either, their gazes turned icy, they were likely wondering how they can violate and kill priest so they could offer him up to God. I could stop them, but that should make Slave Seventy-Two’s life on my ship more interesting. 
     I shake my head to Slave ‘He has no power Slave, I’ve destroyed His worlds, killed greater priests than you. Who knows? You might actually just be a witch.’ 
     ‘I’m no witch!’ Slave Seventy-Two shrieked. ‘I’v-’ 
     ‘I’ve what? Let me guess you’ve been approved by the so called holy inquisition? Your Cardinal-Governor gave you his blessing? Men and women who claim to talk for gods whether they are false or real are insane.’ 
      Slave stopped thrashing, it narrowed their eyes at me. ‘I only hear excuses, you deny what is in front of you because you cannot admit that you might be wrong. You’ve cast aside your faith, you’ve betrayed humanity so his light wounds you, I am but a vessel of Him who sits upon the throne.’ 
      ‘I’ve seen the Emperor and he is no god.’ I kept my voice level at the rebuke. I refused to let a lesser creature get a rise out of me, that was what it wanted. To rage against the fading light and its situation. 
      As I spoke Slave-Seventy Two smiled as if it was expecting the response. ‘Have you ever been in His presence? Spoke to Him face to face? Have you ever felt His radiance swirling within your soul? Have actually prayed to Him?’ 
      The thing was being smug, my hearts thundered and my mind churned at the idea of killing it. But I held back, this was a game to amuse myself, nothing more. I sighed and chastised myself for letting a mortal get the better of me. That was when I removed the branding iron from the brazier.
    When I held the metal up the priest tensed, I could smell its fear, it was there but it wasn’t like the other mewling humans on the ship. Slave’s fear was far more intoxicating because it didn’t know true despair yet and that was why I bought the priest here. I wanted to smash the fool’s faith to smithereens, I wish to turn Slave into another mewling wretch that prowls the corridors of King’s Court, after that I will move onto the next joy. 
    I gripped the branding iron tightly, the head was shaped into the sigil of my legion, the Emperor’s Children. The symbol was a clawed hand fused with a single wing, after all one needed to mark their property. I walked over to Slave Seventy-Two, I didn’t need to say a word to the sculpulytes, they tore the priest’s robes revealing its back to me. Slave didn’t struggle and it was evident in its eyes that it knew what I was going to do.
    I readied the branding iron and pressed it on Slave’s back, it unfortunately didn’t react as I expected. The creature whizzed and grunted, but there were no screams. I decided to press slightly harder on the branding iron, this time it yelped and fell silent. When I removed the branding iron from its flesh, I smiled upon seeing the blistering skin. ‘You don’t belong to Him, you belong to me.’ I said quietly. 

Edited by Shinros, 16 April 2020 - 12:02 PM.

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#3
Shinros

Shinros

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Chapter 2
 
Luther
 
 
As my eyes slowly slid open, I yawned and sat up, that was when confusion graced my brow. I was now in a lavish room which came with tacky walls, the wall surface was covered in a mix of paint that seemed to oddly shift and change. I was also resting on a king-sized bed and that was when I wondered who put me here? Soon as I bought the question up my mind was flooded with images of the Fallen Angel and the branding iron, in reaction to the memory my hands quickly went for my back. I could feel the blister underneath my clothes, a scar was clearly there but it didn’t hurt which was strange. 
      Now the question was how long was I unconscious for? ‘It couldn’t be that long…’ I said to myself. Such injuries take time to heal, maybe the creature has done something? I had to act quickly, I needed to devise a plan to escape since it was obvious the monster viewed me as some sort of pet to amuse himself with, so I have time. 
      With my goal clear, my hands slid away from my back. I proceeded to get out of bed and that was when I noticed something else. My clothes were changed, I was wearing cream coloured robes, a purple sash was wrapped around my waist, belts and buckles also laced the coloured silk. Worst of all were the laced black leather boots. 
     I couldn't help but grimace, I hated the clothes but my ecclesiarchy robes were torn by the blasted mutants that held me down, they most likely disposed of them as well.
      I sighed and decided to look around, this was to be my new prison in a way, so I thought it was best to understand my surroundings. A dear friend always said when caught in an odd situation take control of what was around you. 
     First I went over to the chest of drawers, each drawer contained similar garments to what I was wearing, next I examined the study space which came with a chair, desk lamp and a cogitator. The sight of the arcane machine concerned me, why would someone who considers me a slave give me access to such a thing? Most in the imperium can’t use the machine depending on their station. I frowned and turned my attention to the corner of the room which held a wooden door; I approached and inspected the room, to my surprise it was a large shower room, it was far more bigger compared to my church and unfortunately like my bedroom walls the tiles were all multi-coloured.  
    At this point I found it hard to stare at the blasted colour choice for too long, I hoped I wouldn’t have to get used to it. As I left the shower room my heart jumped, there was a creature standing in the middle of my room. It was similar to the mutants who held me down but this one was more feminine in terms of appearance, but was grotesque in ways that caused my stomach to turn.
    It’s ears and lips were covered in piercings, they were each shaped in odd ways, most of them were spiked; the creature was also wearing earrings wrought in the image of a blended gender symbol. The sound of the dangling pieces of silver clicking together with the other metals attached to its ears was also causing my mouth to dry slightly. It also didn’t help that the rest of the creature’s body had black leather threading through its pale skin. When I picked up on that detail its-her attention drifted towards me, the squishing sound the leather made with the flesh almost made me want to void my bowels. 
     Just in case I shielded my mouth before speaking to her. ‘W-Who are y-you? W-What do you want?’ I couldn’t keep my voice level, no normal human could endure whatever she was wearing. It would be too painful. Still, in return to my question she gave me a bow, it was both smooth and oddly gracious. 
      ‘My name is Beatrice, his grace would like to see you now.’ Her voice was clear, almost delicate which was causing the revulsion to subside ever so slightly, but I held my heart in check. Everything here was a trap in some way, I knew it. I could feel it. Don’t get attached to this heretic, don’t try to reach for her soul. Everything on this ship was already damned and lost, I steeled myself as my hand fell from my face and I took quite a deep breath before speaking. 
       ‘I see, so you aren’t here to torture me then?’ 
        The mutant raised her eyebrow slightly as I asked the question, her lips also perked up as if she was disgusted. ‘You don’t deserve that. If you offend his grace we will ritually take you apart and offer you up to the one true God.’
        As she mentioned true God I tried not to frown, at the moment I was deep within enemy territory so I had to hold back from rebuking her. The old lessons of my friend stuck closely to me despite the fact I spewed hatred to the Fallen Angel. There was only one God in this galaxy, everyone on this ship has turned away from Him; I simply have to accept that fact and I must keep that in mind as these cretins speak. ‘I have no interest in your rites, but if you are here to take me to it-him, then lead the way.’ 
      I slipped slightly, the Fallen Astartes was a monster, darkness made manifest but I had to be careful when I speak, if Beatrice detects an insult she might just act on it. Thankfully the mutant turned away from me before speaking again. ‘If you would please follow me heretic.’ 
       Heretic. Hearing the word from her foul mouth made my blood boil, but I kept silent. We left my room and as we entered the hallway the walls bore the same paint as my room and I couldn’t help but sigh inwardly to myself. 
      Yet, my curiosity was drawn to the golden statues lining the walls, unlike the place where I was branded the statues here were of snakes. But something happened, an oddity that chilled my blood. Their golden eyes seem to drift as I move; I was also surprised that the hallway was lit up through the aid of purple torches which were mounted on the walls.  
       I decided to force my attention away from the horrendous and awkward art pieces, I focused on Beatrice who approached a small wooden table that held a lantern, she beckoned me over. ‘Come. Look at this.’ 
       I tried to take the order in stride, if I was honest to myself if I had a weapon I would end her life if I was able. ‘What do you want to show me?’ 
      Beatrice removed the lantern from the table and lit it up with one of the torches, she then handed it to me. ‘Truth glides across the ship, it tends to gobble things up.’ 
      Her words lost me, I lifted the lantern slightly, I stared at the purple flame. ‘So does this flame protect me from this so-called truth?’
      ‘In a manner of speaking heretic, you smell nice so you might attract them. You could try walking around without a lantern but some areas of the ship are quite dark, now if you follow me.’ 
       As she spoke I attached the lantern to one of the belts around my waist, but I was concerned about what she meant by truth? Was it a creature? A curse? For the moment I thought it would be best to stop asking myself dangerous questions, for questions was the very thing that led many to the darkest path. 
       So I followed my escort in silence, as we walked we passed through chambers which were either filled with tacky art pieces or lavish dining halls, I strangely found it difficult moving through them. Especially the halls containing food. The meat, vegetables and even bottles of wine seemed to glitter and for a moment my stomach rumbled; that was until I spotted the fact most of the food lining the table held the same odd colours as the wall. Then I recalled where I was. 
       But I wasn’t prepared to arrive in a large hall containing cages, they were all stacked upon one another and what was inside the cages made me wince. Lashed humans, naked and abused were rocking themselves, crying and moaning for it to stop. This was the time where I stopped walking, I couldn’t bear it. As I grew still my escort stopped as well, Beatrice turned to me. ‘Is something wrong heretic? His grace’s throne room is at the end of this room.’ 
      The question caused my anger to rise, I pointed to one of the cages. ‘What is this!?’ 
     ‘Gifts of course, if his grace likes a petitioner he allows them to take one. Sometimes they are returned, he only lets those he likes keep his prized slaves.’
     ‘This is inhumane! Disgusting even!’ 
     ‘Don’t you have slaves then?’ I froze as she asked the question, the Imperium didn’t have slaves, we had serfs, those who were bound in their duty to the Throne, service was its own reward. Even criminals still work for the throne on prison worlds. 
       ‘It’s not the same! you abuse humans to-to-’ 
       ‘To what?’ 
       I was about to continue the argument, but what would be the point? Shouting would achieve nothing and I doubted I would make a dent in Beatrice’s corrupted mind. So I forced myself to relax instead. ‘Forget it, just lead me to him.’
      She said nothing in return, she faced forward and led me to the end of the room which held a set of double golden doors and for a moment a sense of foreboding gripped me. I had to think of an approach quickly, I didn’t have much time to come up with an answer for Beatrice had opened the doors and walked inside. 
     Seeing this I sighed, at the end of the day all I could do was strengthen my heart and soul for I was about to confront evil again. I proceeded to follow the mutant inside and now I was in a throne room, statues of the Fallen Angel lined both sides of the carpet leading to a Golden throne where it was seated. I could sense that it was trying to offend me for the Angel was smirking, the choice of a Golden Throne wasn’t lost on me. But what was strange to my eyes was the fact the creature wasn’t wearing armour. It seemed so… small now. 
     It was wearing a simple dressing gown which was black in colouration, it was only as I approached the throne with Beatrice where the pressure from his presence suddenly crashed upon my body. The pupils within his purple eyes shifted to slits, the smirk grew and that was when the Fallen Angel sat back slightly. For a split second my knees trembled, it was about to give way but if I bent here the creature would kill me for sure, I could tell. In those eyes I could only see two words “entertain me”. 
     In the end it spoke first. ‘Beatrice, has our guest caused any trouble?’
     The mutant bowed and as she rose the creature shook her head. ‘No my grace, he’s been quite well behaved.
     ‘Good. You may go.’ The mutant bowed again and left the throne room and now that I was alone with the monster.
     ‘So how does this game of yours work then?’ As I asked my question the Fallen Angel sat upright, it seemed excited that I spoke up. 
     ‘Brave, traits you will need. But yes, this is a game for me mainly. Joys must be savoured before they are discarded.’ Its hand suddenly drifted to his chest, the Fallen Angel clutched its clothes tightly and its smile turned monstrous, black veins started to thread its face. ‘What joy will you give me Slave Seventy-two? How will you topple me from my throne?’ 
     ‘Excuse me?’ Its statement threw me off guard, it wanted this battle, the creature almost seems desperate. 
      ‘I thought I was quite clear? Topple me from my throne, try if you can.’ 
      ‘So you don’t mind the fact that I aim to kill you?’ 
      ‘As I said please try, I doubt you can win though but since this is a game I must be fair.’ The Fallen angel relaxed, the smile drifted back to normal again. ‘My name is Andreas, master of this ship dubbed the King’s Court. I’m also the Lord of this warband known as the Euphonic Host. You will hold a special position in my personal court, you’ll be an adviser to me.’ 
      ‘You wish me to betray the Imperium!? Never!’ 
      ‘You’ve already have since you have stepped on this ship, also I don’t seek your advice that’s just to keep certain individuals on this ship from killing you. But you can refuse if you want.’ 
      ‘Then you’ll kill me won’t you?’
      ‘Of course, for you it’s a choice between fighting evil or a pointless death and we both know what option you will take, after all you stink of false righteousness.’
       I raged at those words, I have no desire to aid an agent of darkness but this was an opportunity, in its arrogance in keeping me alive I might just find a way to kill this monster, perhaps even ruin its warband. ‘Fine.’ I said firmly. ‘I accept the role.’ 
       ‘Good. So to give you a little more aid there are four factions on the ship. You have the Astartes led by my Champion, his name is Basil, there is also the Workshop. Those who seek to find physical perfection follow the will of Madam Victoria. The last two factions might be difficult to approach so I wouldn’t recommend them yet.’
       ‘Tell me.’ I wanted as much information as possible, I could approach those two factions in a way the creature doesn’t expect, that will be the way to defeat him. But my demand only elicited a chuckle which made me somewhat unsure. 
       ‘Very well, the third faction is known as the Silver Ravagers, led by the pirate king envoy Marius von Clar and the final faction? Is a rebel group on the lower levels.’ 
       I didn’t care for the pirate group but I latched onto the “rebel group” I could use that. But at the same time I became unsure as I thought about it longer. Why would he mention rebels? It must be a trap of some sort. I searched Andreas’ face for a hint, issue was that it held its mask well. The air of arrogance stuck to the monster closely. ‘So who leads this rebel group?’ 
      Andreas shrugged to my question. ‘Don’t know, don’t care, you figure it out. Never had a ship wide rebellion before, please try that route. My followers get quite bored during long journeys.’ There was the hint, it was indeed a trap. I was dealing with a Fallen Angel and its ilk, a rebellion would just be a sporting event to them. So my best chance in ending him was actually the Workshop and the Astartes. 
     ‘I see, thank you my grace.’ I gave a small bow which shocked the monster, he blinked several times unable to react. The game was already on and I had to get into the appropriate role, I had to believe that the Emperor put me here for a reason and that was to destroy this creature. As I rose, Andreas frowned heavily. 
     ‘Starting already are you?’ 
     ‘Whatever do you mean my lord? I will serve you to the best of my abilities and as your new adviser I think I will take the time to… explore my new home. Make formal introductions to those who dwell on your ship.’ 
      The Fallen Angel grumbled slightly, he waved me away. ‘You may go, I’ll have Beatrice retrieve you if I need something.’ I made sure to bow again, that was when I turned and left the chamber. But I had the feeling it was smiling even though my back was turned. The creature’s surprise might just be another facade.

Edited by Shinros, 16 April 2020 - 12:34 PM.

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#4
Shinros

Shinros

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Chapter 3
 
Andreas
 
 
He was gone, I had to acknowledge his existence now since he was ready to fight. I’ve never taken on a priest in a battle of intellect and wits, how'll he react to this vessel when he leaves my room? How’ll he approach those who will most likely seek to kill him? All of these are challenges he must face, but I didn’t tell Slave-Seventy Two that my part was to break his faith. He’ll most likely figure that out quickly.
      I leaned back on my throne and sighed. ‘Angus.’ I said calmly. The shadow behind my throne rumbled and bent for several moments, that was when I picked up the sound of rattling chains. The sorcerer soon stepped out from behind the throne. I noticed right away there was a new spiked chain dangling from his belt, which meant he had a new slave. My dear brother was awfully picky with his choices. 
      I shifted on my seat and bought my attention to him, with the motion the blue lenses on his helm flared. ‘So what do you think Angus?’
      Soon as the question left my lips he sighed. ‘He’s dangerous, kill him.’ 
      Angus’ voice was level, he kept his emotions close which was annoying. ‘How so?’
      My brother reached into his belt pouch and pulled out the holy icon which belonged to Slave, he handed it to me. ‘The icon is plain, there is no power within it.’ 
      I turned the golden I over, it appeared plain to the naked eye but the question was how did he make that light? Slave Seventy-Two must be a witch and if that was the case I must act accordingly. ‘Several of the lesser creatures were scorched Angus, he must be a witch.’ 
     ‘The religious symbol is not a focus or charm, in my studies there have been humans which can produce strange phenomena through faith.’
     ‘He has no power Angus.’ I spoke firmly. ‘The Corpse Emperor was distant, weak. I burnt worlds, slaughtered his people, I’ve had greater priests drawn and quartered. He has no power, not even one ounce of it’ Angus bristled at my rebuke, he wanted to speak plainly. I gave him a small wave to allow him to, the sorcerer relaxed after the motion.
     ‘My lord, He is no god but you must admit, even back then there was something… mystical about him, even from a distance you must recall that much.’
     ‘He was a witch, a powerful one, nothing more.’ 
     ‘True, but as a witch I try to use my power wisely and carefully to ensure the best results.’
     ‘So what you are trying to say is that He will act when I least expect it?’ 
     ‘Exactly, the Anathema is the enemy of the true God. He wishes to claim what rightfully belongs to Shornaal.’ As the name was uttered the purple torches in the room went out, plunging us in darkness, as they burst to life again I narrowed my eyes at the idiot. He didn’t react. 
     ‘Careful brother, you should be aware of the consequences of speaking his name out loud, even a lesser one.’ 
     ‘We are safe, why must we fear God? We are his chosen.’
     ‘It’s because he is true, that is why he must be feared.’ He doesn’t understand as always. I have seen things that would crack souls, he also wasn’t aware of what you must lose in order to obtain what you truly wanted. Angus was a witch who borrows from the Whispers who drift along the dark tides. Whispers can still eat people whole. 
     Angus suddenly leaned down towards me, he spoke in a hushed tone. ‘You should open the flood gates, what are you afraid of?’ 
     The witch was bringing up that subject again, he was a sorcerer, names and words have power. He should know this. ‘I’m not afraid, I am merely not stupid.’ I said plainly. ‘Like us, the true God always wants more and if we drag his attention to us… If he finds us unworthy… what do you think he will do?’
     Angus picked up a strand of my white hair with his fingers. ‘He gave you beauty, eternal youth and strength. You twist purity into corruption with your very presence and you still wish to play only games with your gifts?’
     I grunted and slapped his hand away, the sorcerer edged back. I hated whenever the fool whispered. ‘He gave me these gifts for simply playing “games” or do you wish to speak for him?’
     ‘I hear thin-’
     ‘You only hear things from Whispers who all have their own agendas.’ I began to flex my hand, sometimes I wonder why I haven’t killed Angus yet. ‘Whispers who wish to bind us with chains for their plots. Why do you think the Black Legion has overtaken the Word Bearers? The priests listen to Whispers too much, each voice is pulling them in different directions.’
     ‘Yet my grace, unlike those two legions we are a shattered mirror. Shards drifting apart. Strength and power is needed to mend that broken mirror.’
     I chuckled, to Angus’ response. He still had no idea. ‘Angus?’ 
     ‘Yes my lord?’ 
     ‘Get out.’ 
     The witch bowed, he stepped behind my throne and vanished. Now alone I sighed, I had a feeling he was about to involve himself in my game. But maybe it might just make it more interesting or perhaps it would cause our destruction? Strangely one of his comments stuck closely with me. ‘He will wait for the right moment…’ those words echoed within the throne room and just for a moment the purple torches flickered.    

Edited by Shinros, 18 April 2020 - 12:38 AM.

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Shinros

Shinros

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Chapter 4
 
Luther
 
I was lost. That thought echoed through my mind as my eyes scanned my surroundings, I was quite sure I have passed through this corridor at least five times. I could tell since there was a golden statue of Andreas stepping on a miniature planet. He was in the nude and his features were greatly exaggerated from his hair, muscles and general frame. It was quite clear to me by now that the Fallen Angel was a vain creature, a weakness I will have to make use of as soon as I can leave this place. 
    Ironically I couldn’t help but sigh at the moment, I was ready to take on the monster, ready to cut the head from the beast but it seemed I stumbled at the first hurdle; so I continued on. Walking through the dimly lit hallways. The lantern attached to my belt offered some measure of extra illumination but I was somewhat weary about the colour of the flame. According to Beatrice it protects me from this so-called truth, one that can eat people. ‘She must be lying…’ I whispered to myself. 
     As the words passed my lips they echoed through the hallway even though my voice was low, right away I stopped walking. I froze like a statue. The torches surrounding me suddenly flickered and in that brief moment where I was caught in darkness I could feel a soft breath caressing my right ear. The sensation was terrifying to the point I wanted to vomit, my mind began to spin, the vertigo was too much until I felt a sharp prick. My right ear stung, I grasped it and twisted around, that was when the light returned. 
     But I did not feel safe, it was quite the opposite. I was sweating profusely. My eyes were darting to the golden statues and the portraits of Andreas, what manner of trick was the monster playing on me? With that question on my mind I drew my hand away from my right ear to find my fingers stained with blood. My teeth started to charter, I’ve encountered nothing like this before. I’ve dealt with heretics worshipping at false altars, rebels who sought to turn away from the Emperor’s grace but this...This was something new, something I felt I wasn’t ready to face. 
     I slowly turned back around, I focused on my current task, I was going to find those who wielded power on this ship. That was my aim, what the Emperor wanted of me. I forced my foot forward, one step at a time. My walking speed was reduced to a crawl, my heart thundered within my chest. I was essentially creeping through the hallway, my walk grew to stop as I arrived at a crossroad. 
     The only source of light was my lantern, eerily the darkness started to close in around me. Vapour was leaving my mouth with each breath. All these strange events happening at once made me unsure, what path should I take? Where will it lead?
     ‘I’m here...’ The voice silenced my thoughts, each syllable stung my ears and my eyes traced the paths as I wondered where it came from. 
     ‘W-Wh-’ The words wouldn’t leave my lips, I was terrified. With that half spoken word echoing through the hallway a figure stepped out from the middle path, their whole body was obscured by black silk and as the figure moved it seemed like they were gliding across the ground. The only feature I could make out was the fact their head was dipped down slightly, only revealing long strands of luminescent pink hair. 
     ‘Right here...’ the voice was coming from whoever was in front of me, I tried to dissect the words. Then I discovered they weren’t speaking gothic, the words were unintelligible but I could understand them clearly. It was also hard to determine whether the one before me was male or female as well. ‘Come to me.’ 
     A hand reached out from under the black silk, the limb was both slender and toned, but each finger held a long, pointed black nail. The open palm was an offer, I started to stagger forward, to reach out and as my hand wrapped around hers, her head slowly began to slide upwards. 
     Finally, when we were face to face I saw nothing, nothing was there. ‘What?’ I finally said the word and with that utterance a sizzling sound graced my ears. The silken maiden hissed and pulled her hand away, she turned and drifted down the hallway at high speed, leaving me alone. It took me a moment to fully process what had just occurred, I gulped and like a fool I followed. I almost broke into run but I slowed down after I ran out of breath and to my shock I have also arrived in a familiar hallway, it was filled with statues depicting golden snakes. 
    The sight of the odd snakes bought a strange sense of peace and as my eyes drifted to my bedroom door that peace vanished. I rushed inside, I locked the door behind me and now that I was here, back in my sanctuary I started to hyperventilate. As my gaze locked onto to my bed, I hurried to it and prayed. It was difficult to process what just happened and now the weight of my situation finally fell upon me. This task will be harrowing and difficult, I’ve become arrogant. I cannot underestimate anything on this ship. ‘When the people forget their duty they are no longer human and become something less than beasts. They have no place in the bosom of humanity nor in the heart of the Emperor. Let them die and be forgotten…’ 
     I said the words of the prime edict out loud, there was a rumble in my room but I ignored it, I kept my eyes closed and focused on the main word. Duty, duty to Him on the throne and with that in mind the rumbling ceased. My heart also began to steady, it slowed to the point where I have won back control from my nerves. That was when I ceased my prayers, I got up and my attention shifted to the cogitator.
     It was obvious the Fallen Angel put this room together, every item present must have a reason for being here, even my clothes. They were vectors for corruption but possibly information as well since he wants the game to apparently be fair. I decided to abandon my plans to explore and instead seated myself in front of the arcane machine. I won’t be able to defeat the monster in terms of physicality, so I need information and I must use that carefully in order to defeat him.

Edited by Shinros, 21 April 2020 - 10:25 PM.

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Shinros

Shinros

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Chapter 5
 
 
Andreas
 
 
I was surrounded by chattering servo-skulls that were recording every single movement or motion I make, they were also observing the last four sculpulytes who were circling me, they were my remaining opponents for this training session. Each of them were armed with power swords, while I found a fondness and use for a mono-blade styled as a broadsword. But I was different compared to my brothers, I don’t use armour during training. I was still in my robes. The reason was simple in order to improve fear was needed, the fear of injury, the fear of death, the fear of failure. But I cannot deny the emotions evoked in such a practice was quite intoxicating as well. 
     The battleground, or in other words the training hall was already littered with a few limbless corpses and the white walls were stained with blood. I did little to renovate it for this place was dedicated to another art. The one of killing, it was the art-form I enjoyed the most. But with that thought rumbling in my skull my mind wandered, I could use the priest for mental training as well. I would have to give him more advantages if that was the case. 
     I was about to think of one until a sharp pain graced the side of my body breaking me from my reverie. I looked down to see a sculpulyte has stabbed me, this one was replete with muscle since I only chose the best for training. He began pushing the blade in further and as our eyes met the creature frowned. ‘You were distracted my lord.’
     As he spoke blood trickled down from my mouth, marking the mistake I must correct. ‘I see.’ the response was flat, because the creature was right and with a casual swipe of my blade I removed his head in swift stroke. The sculpulyte slumped slightly, but his grip was still on his blade. It was firm even as his head was rolling on the floor. Seeing this I cursed. ‘Dammit! Why do you have to make them so resilient!’ 
     The rest took that as an opportunity and charged, there was no way out so I barrelled through the sculpulyte in front of me, I sent the creature flying, their body crashed onto the wall and with the sound of a wet crack. The sculpulyte left a bloody trail as their broken frame slid down from the wall. I then twisted around and another was ready to strike, the third sculpulyte thrusted, but I parried by bringing my blade sideways pushing the thrust towards my left and as the creature was set off balance I shifted with a quick motion, slashing sideways to my right taking the creature’s head with it and as the head left the sculpulyte’s body my last opponent shoved their kin aside, readying an attack.
      I had to admit if I was mortal, a simple human this would be my end since I wouldn’t have time to parry or attack for the creature would be able to wound me before I could bring my blade to the right position. Yet, if I was facing an Astartes I would be dead right here, right now. This was another mistake I must correct, I sighed to myself and bought my blade the other direction. Bisecting the sculpulyte, he didn’t have time to process the speed at which I moved or the fact he just died. 
     When the body pieces toppled to the ground the training room doors opened to reveal Seiriol, my apothecary. His bald servants followed in his wake, they all went to work gathering the body pieces and loading them onto push-trolleys. What alchemical procedures he uses to remake the creatures was lost on me but the fact they were easily replaceable was pleasing. 
      My brother took time to glance at the carnage before approaching me, while I removed the blade stuck in my side, strangely I felt nothing; instead an unexpected emotion graced me as Seiriol stood in front of me, it was annoyance. The reason why was because Seiriol's armour was still largely plain save for his pink coloured pauldron which held the legion’s sigil. ‘Are you upset?’ my question hung in the air, it took a moment for Seiriol to respond. 
       ‘Never, I was just deciding on improvements. Flesh shaping is a complex process.’ 
       ‘I see, but you normally clean up after I leave, what brought you here?’
       ‘Ever perceptive, it is why you still live.’ The remark made me clutch my wound, Seiriol paid little attention to it, because his voice tone rarely changes I could never tell if he just gave me a back-handed comment or a compliment. 
        ‘Are you mocking me?’ I decided to be plain, who knows who goes on within his mind and it didn’t help either that he was never without his helm. In return to my question Seiriol shook his head. 
       ‘No, I meant it.’ The apothecary reached into his pouch and pulled out a piece of paper. He offered it to me. Upon seeing the quality of the parchment and the fact it was vellum I snatched it out of his hands. Only the ship astropaths write on such a thing. I quickly scanned the message. I frowned at the contents. Captain Adrian of the 25th company has found a world ripe with spoils, he wishes to share it with his comrade Captain Julian of the 14th company. If he was interested he should come to Space Station Nidal, the coordinates were listed at the end of the message. 
      As I lowered the vellum from my eyes I could see Seiriol's presence seemed somewhat passive, normally such notices are delivered by Basil. The fact the apothecary intercepted the message meant he was playing a dangerous game. But even so, the main problem with this message was the fact Julian was dead, I killed him myself. ‘Seiriol, why did you bring this to me?’ 
     ‘I was doing my due diligence my lord, one of my servants was on the bridge and the message was passed to him which he then delivered to me.’ The lie was obvious, Basil’s slave was most likely on the way to deliver the message to him and Seiriol intercepted it. Question was why? 
     ‘Due diligence? You never cared for anything save your experiments. You know I can’t accept this.’ 
     ‘But you are the Lord of our host.’ 
     ‘Yes I am but I am not…’ My voice trailed off, the past wanted to claw into me. My wound oddly hurt, the sensation wasn’t pleasant. Most likely it was due to the mental ache of dealing with this situation. The legion was splintered, but fighting with other hosts builds one’s reputation and in turn doors are opened. The only problem was my rank. Rank was still important to us, even now. 
     ‘We have to step out of the shadows, the last worlds have been easy to deal with.’ Seiriol said calmly. ‘Our joys have been small, but I.. want more.’ 
     ‘You of all people want more?’ I was surprised, Seiriol was normally reserved but if he was voicing such a thing the rest of my warriors must feel worse and in time their blades will come for me if I don’t feed them. 
      ‘Yes, I want more, so do many others. Even the mortals want more, they ask if their king will feed them. This can be an opportunity, you are favoured and powerful. The other captains will not be able to deny this when you meet them.’
      I screwed up the letter in my hand hearing Seiriol speak, he doesn’t understand, none of them do. To take this position I had to kill many while the other powers on the ship watched from a distance, I kept killing again and again until they finally swore loyalty to me. I suspect deep down they sneer, wondering how I killed Julian and with that thought it clicked. This has to be a test, a way to see if I was worthy. If I reject this message Basil will act, I know it. How dare they…
     I ceased my hesitation and dropped the message on the floor, Seiriol looked down towards it and as his head came up he said. ‘Well? What is-’ He didn’t get to finish, I brought my blade to bare and stabbed Seiriol in the chest, he barely had the chance to react. He grasped the metal with both hands trying to pull it out but I pushed the blade further with both hands. Blood ruptured from the wound and soon as I noticed his legs wobbling ever so slightly I pushed downwards and brought him to his knees. 
     The attack provoked his servants, they drew guns from their white lab coats. I narrowed my eyes at the fool. ‘Your servants are drawing their weapons on me.’ 
     Seiriol gasped, his hands were still wrapped around the blade but his head soon snapped to the humans. ‘P-Put them away! N-Now!’ the wheezing was pleasing to see, the air of control was gone, the need to kill him pricked at my senses but I knew better. Still, the humans were smart and lowered their weapons, they even dropped to their knees as well which finally provoked a question. 
       ‘Tell me, why are you and Basil testing me? Couldn’t he do this himself?’
       ‘H-He’s afraid my lord, b-but he wants your position as well. While I-I think you n-need more time. H-He put this idea forward.’
        Seiriol was deflecting, he was speaking a half-truth but I decided to entertain it. ‘Oh… so the lieutenant of the 14th company is upset that a simple battle brother-a legionary took what rightfully should’ve belonged to him?’ Seiriol said nothing, which made me push the blade further, this time he didn't gasp in pain, instead he moaned. So he was like the rest of us. ‘I expected this from the witch, but not from you two.’ 
       ‘T-The w-witch wished n-no part i-in this plan…’
       ‘For me to lose face with those on the ship? Who would spread the rumour of my refusal?’ I glanced at the humans who’s heads dropped to the floor. Mortals tend to talk and such words get to the ears of my brothers. 
       ‘N-Never! As I sai-’ I pushed the blade again, interrupting my brother a second time. Seiriol shivered, groaned and gasped. I grew tired of the apothecary at that moment. I pulled the blade away, Seiriol crumpled onto the ground, panting heavily. I walked to the door but stopped, I looked back to the fool. 
       ‘I will go to see Adrian, let the frightened chicken know would you?’ The apothecary said nothing, he was most likely half-dazed but I know he could read my will after what I did to him. I sighed and left the training hall, once outside I glanced at the wound. It no longer hurt.

Edited by Shinros, 25 April 2020 - 09:35 PM.

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Shinros

Shinros

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Chapter 6
 
Luther
 
 
The door slid close behind me, that was when I looked at the makeshift map I put together with the help of the information I have gained from the cogitator. I had to admit I was shocked to discover that Andreas’ room was a host of interconnecting hallways and chambers. It was no surprise I got lost so easily. 
     With that task behind me I looked around, the tacky finery and odd paintings I grew accustomed to were absent. The metal walls were plastered with dried blood and a host of other liquids I dare not identify, it was the same for the floor as well. But what troubled me was the fact I couldn’t smell anything, I expected a rancid scent to engulf my nose but the air was simply stale like any other ship. In the end the only thing I recognised in the hallway were the torches, but they were fewer in number. 
     I grimaced, it would be best not to dwell on such things. I returned my attention to the map, I've marked the places I needed to go. As the Fallen Angel said I have four factions I can introduce myself to, Andreas recommended to see Basil or Madam Victoria first. The question was should I follow his recommendation? These are powers that have situated themselves on the ship, what power do I wield at the moment save His holy light? I could reach their domain and their underlings could decide to kill me. I slowly nodded and decided it would be best to entrench myself with those under them first. 
     ‘Hey, you seem quite troubled mate.’ The words drew my attention to my right, I spotted a young man in spiked flak armour, he was also sporting a pink tail-cape as well. As I noticed him he walked towards me, the illumination from my lantern allowed me to take in his features. His face was youthful, he appeared groomed and his blonde hair was swept back. ‘Are you just going to stare?’ 
     The question broke me away from my examination, I folded the map and placed it in my pocket before speaking. ‘May I ask who you are?’ 
     ‘I was there you know.’ 
     ‘Excuse me?’ 
     ‘In the church, you killed few of my friends.’ I wasn’t sure if he was threatening me, his voice was level, there wasn’t an ounce of hostility in it. I couldn’t help but glance at his belt which held a stubber and several jagged knives. The issue was how should I respond to such an individual? Especially in this situation? I went with my gut in this instance. 
     ‘What of it? You were my enemy.’ 
     The young man chuckled at my statement, he gave a small nod. ‘You’re right mate, it's good that you didn’t try to kiss my arse. Such thinking can get you killed on this ship.’ I blinked in confusion to his statement, he then rubbed his neck. ‘Ah, still new. See, lots of people on this ship have people pampering them at any moment, having someone like you do it might offend em’’ 
     ‘I see… so can you tell me what you want?’ 
     ‘Alright, I want to be your friend.’
     ‘What?’ 
     ‘I said I want to be your friend. You came out of Lord Andreas' room alive and by yourself, that means you’re important. The fact the Lord of this house brought you in personally, in chains makes you interesting.’
      I didn’t react to his request, he just said beforehand that weakness can get you killed on this ship. So I followed his advice. ‘Ah, you must have been watching that door for ages. I suspect your master has some interest in me?’
     The young man grinned. ‘Guilty as charged. Issue is that I have weapons and you don’t, so…’ 
     I narrowed my eyes at the heretic, he breathed arrogance with every word. ‘I don’t need weapons.’
     ‘Oh really?’ 
     ‘Yes.’ I said firmly, I lifted my hand and the verse came to me naturally. ‘Sancti lumine!’ an orb of light burst forth, bringing blessed radiance to the dim hallway. The young man edged back like an animal.
       ‘Frek me! Holy shi-put that out!’ At his request I closed my hand, as the yellow light faded I could see he was sweating profusely. His self-assurance evaporated, I could do worse but as my dear friend once told me, one must show strength in front of darkness. I had to admit I was annoyed that the Fallen Angel took my holy icon. It helped focus my strange talents but I could do without for now. 
     ‘What were you saying about weapons? Do remember you are speaking to the adviser of Lord Andreas.’ 
     ‘Adviser? Seriously? You’re not his slave?’ he couldn’t hide the surprise from his voice, I was also showing him that the adviser of his lord can defend himself. I also desired to redefine the friendship offer.
     ‘No, I’m not. So how about we become friends?’ The young heretic seemed unsure as I turned the offer around, but his self-assured composure quickly returned. He offered his hand. 
      ‘Adam Shifer, sergeant of the Silver Ravagers.’ I didn’t hesitate to grasp his hand as he mentioned his name rank and what group he belonged to.
      ‘Luther, you may call me that.’ As we shook hands Adam raised his eyebrow.
      ‘Just Luther?’ 
      ‘Yes, is something wrong?’ Our hands parted as I asked my question, the young man shrugged. 
      ‘Dunno, I thought you would have a fancy title or somethin’.’ The young man was right in a way, I could have risen higher in the priesthood if I wanted to but my friend said it would be best to live a simpler life due to my power. But Adam didn’t need to know that. 
       ‘Perhaps I am satisfied with my lot unlike the rest of you? Perhaps if you were satisfied you wouldn’t have chosen your path?’ 
       ‘Hey! Don’t start preachin’ to me. I like my life, thank you very much!’ 
       ‘But are you satisfied?’ I pressed. Adam glanced away which told me everything I needed to know. As his attention returned to me, he grunted. 
       ‘Whatever, anyway you should follow me. I know of a place where you can get information.’ At the mention of information I leaped onto it right away.
       ‘Lead the way.’ Adam said nothing in return, we then walked in silence for several minutes as he led me to this so-called information hub. This could be a trap but he must be aware of His presence and the pain he felt. The silent walk did afford me the opportunity to take in my surroundings further, I had to memorise the pathways for future use. I had no desire to get lost again and whenever we came to a crossroad I would mark it on my map. 
       Eventually we arrived in a hallway where I could feel a small vibration under my feet and within a few moments a strange sound started to pound my ears. It hurt, my hands went straight for them which elicited a snicker from Adam. ‘This isn’t even a loud mate.’
       ‘Excuse me?!’ The strange sound thundered through the hallway, I couldn’t even identify what instruments were being used. The sound was a gurgled mess of epic proportions.  
        ‘Don’t worry, It’ll get better.’ 
        ‘What!?’ I could barely hear him, I could barely hear myself and it didn’t get better. It got worse but for some reason I kept walking. We soon arrived in what seemed to be a nightclub, nude men and women were dancing in cages which dangled from the ceiling. Each of them were somehow moving to the odd rhythm of the music which consumed the hall. Below them was a mass of bodies which danced with them, their movements were more hectic and irregular. They were actually clothed, their garments were similar to my own but flesh was far more exposed.
     At the back of the room there was also a bar where drinks were being served. At the edges of the hall were large metal orbs which were fastened to the ground, they had doors on them. Each was guarded by large ogryns, their skin bared the kiss of corruption. It was pink colouration, each of them were also wearing spiked leather. 
     Adam guided me to one of the orbs, on the way men and women approached they were begging me to dance with them. But like the ogryns they were corrupted, snake-like tongues lashed out, beady-black eyes blinked rapidly and faces were covered piercings. I muttered prayers to myself, I wanted them to go away, I wanted this to stop. The strange sounds were too much as was the attention, I was somewhat thankful as the heretics drifted away as we reached the orb.  
     But the strangeness didn’t end there, Adam could somehow speak to the Ogryn despite the noise, the large abhuman nodded and opened the door. The young man gestured to follow and as I entered the orb with Sliver Ravager I found the music had been muffled and it was finally silenced as the young man closed the door. He then gestured to the circular sofa and table, I couldn’t help but notice he was also eyeing the fridge which was built into the wall. ‘See privacy!’ Adam said joyfully. 
      My hands fell from my ears, I shook my head. ‘How can you stand that infernal noise? Also you said you could get information here.’ 
      The young man grunted. ‘It’s called music priest.’ 
      ‘That wasn’t music, the people were also…’
      ‘Blessed?’ I wanted to argue with him, they weren’t blessed at all. The black lashing tongues were terrifying, their rapturous joy as they danced to the noise was terrible to see. Adam soon shrugged. He took a seat at the table. ‘How about we avoid the debate? Sit down and I will tell you how things work work here.’ In a way I agreed, a debate would get me nowhere so I did as he asked, I sat across from him. I was still thankful for the reprieve from the infernal onslaught. 
       ‘Ok Adam, tell me. What do you know?’
       The young man said nothing, instead he grabbed a bottle of wine from the fridge and two wine glasses. He set all three in front of me. ‘First you gotta learn how to drink.’ 
       ‘Excuse me?’ 
       ‘You have to learn how to drink, those living on the upper levels of the ship are civilised unlike those on the lower level. Always talk over a drink first and this place?’ He gestured around. ‘The Club is neutral ground. Got all types here, from the Workshop to the Silver Ravagers, hell we get some Astartes sometimes!’ He proceeded to uncork the bottle and poured the liquid into the glass, it wasn’t wine. 
        Whatever he poured into the glass shifted in colouration, it was almost luminescent as well. As he set the bottle down Adam pushed a glass towards me. I frowned at the young man. ‘I’m not drinking that.’ 
       ‘You’ll end up dead if you do that, especially if it’s someone important pouring the glass.’ 
       ‘I don’t know what is in it. It could be poison.’ I doubted Adam would try such a thing even if he was a heretic but I had no desire to have the concoction enter my system.
      ‘It’s not poison, come on I'll show you.’ He picked his glass and backed it, which further proved it wasn’t wine since you sip instead of drinking it all in one go, or maybe Adam was just debased. Despite my grievance I watched the young man carefully for any changes, at most he blinked rapidly a few times before sitting back, he became more relaxed. ‘See? I’m fine.’
         As he finished speaking I eyed my glass, the choice was obvious. It was plain to see.

Edited by Shinros, 29 April 2020 - 01:02 AM.

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Shinros

Shinros

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Chapter 7
 
Andreas 
 
 
My mood was foul, I couldn’t help it. I hated the powers on this ship and I hated their plotting. It was why I was now here on the bridge, armed and ready for war.  Marius Von Clar, an envoy of the Pirate King, was also eyeing me carefully. He was the captain of the King’s Court. Marius was also the fifth son of the King so any hope of inheritance was lost, so his father offered him to Julian as an envoy. His house, his very name, opens doors on renegade space stations, making resupply easier. But in turn his Sliver Ravagers desire a cut of the spoils gathered from raids. 
     Said cut was most likely given to those connected to his house who dwell on the stations and ironically thinking about the annoying agreement made me recall Angus’words. The legion was a shattered mirror, there was no choice but to rely on mortals and their ilk. Warbands throw hundreds of human lives at wars because of the lack of resources and Astartes. The weight of that dilemma was both heavy and annoying.  
      I spared a glance at Marius who was relaxing on the command throne, he was well groomed as were all Silver Ravagers, he was eternally young and his uniform along with that of the bridge serfs was a parody of the Imperial Navy. Elaborate medals lined his jacket, his boots held a great sheen and his teeth were pearly white. He smiled at me. ‘Is something wrong Lord Andreas?’ 
     ‘It’s nothing.’ I answered. 
     ‘Oh really? Your mood is distracting my serfs.’ He gestured around the bridge, my eyes were following his hands, the mortals were not distracted. Their heads were down on consoles, eyes were glued to blinking screens. The human was trying to insult me, it was a poor one. I frowned at the fact I couldn’t kill him. ‘Look you’re frowning as well.’ Marius didn’t mask his derisive tone. I sighed and returned my attention to the fool. I decided to get to the point of my visit. 
    ‘Who came to the bridge to collect the notice from the astropath?’
     The Captain gave me a casual shrug. ‘What does it matter? Where set to head for the Space Station.’ The human just admitted to knowing the contents of the message, was he plotting with Basil as well? Unlike my brothers I cannot directly harm him. I wondered what game he was playing here? 
     ‘I haven’t given the order to head to the Space Station yet.’ 
     ‘But you have no choice but to go there. I’m not one of your kin but I know your ways. Constant bravado, needlessly slaying one another over petty insults and pride.’ I grunted, he wasn’t wrong, but his statement made me draw my blade. This time the serfs' attention was broken, they gave the appearance of working but eyes were beginning to drift. Marius crossed his legs at my gesture, he tapped his neck with his fingers. ‘Take my head, annoy me in any fashion and your brothers will turn against you. You will also find resupplying difficult. Let’s not forget the ship’s navigator is of my house.’
     I smirked at his threat, instead of brandishing my blade against him I cleaned it instead with a cloth which was held in my utility belt. The human was watching my motions carefully, he was most likely wondering if I was actually going to kill him and deep down he knows I just might one day. Unlike my brothers I take daring actions, sometimes it turns out bad, sometimes the outcomes are good. Those who question me normally end up dead anyway. ‘Strength is needed to rule.’ I said firmly. 
     ‘So is awareness.’ Marius retorted. 
     ‘I am quite aware.’ I replied. ‘I’m aware that all you are cowards that prefer to slink in the shadows.’ My eyes strangely relaxed, a flicker, a tiny thought graced me. What if I just killed them all now? Angus’ would stop me, question was should I let him? He stopped me last time from going further after I killed Julian. When these thoughts drifted through my mind the smell on the bridge changed, I could pick up tangy sweat, I could hear gulping. They all know what I am capable of, what I can do. I wanted their fear, I could almost taste it. 
     ‘You don’t care about your own life don’t you?’ Marius' voice broke my reverie, my awareness returned to the mortal.
     ‘Not really.’ I smirked as I said those two words. ‘Life sometimes gets boring, so I do things to make it interesting.’ I dropped the cloth onto the floor, my blade was already a brilliant sheen. Perhaps I only cleaned it to keep myself from murdering the captain? I sheathed my blade and sighed. ‘So are we ready to head to the Space Station Nidal?’ 
      ‘Yes we ar-’ He was cut off as the bridge door opened, one of his soldiers stepped onto the bridge, a young man with blonde hair. He spared a glance at me before heading straight to the throne. Marius turned his attention away from me, he focused on the young man who began whispering in his ear, every second or so he would nod. As the soldier finished whispering he stepped away, he then saluted Marius and left the bridge. 
     Whatever the soldier said caused Marius’ smugness to return. He smiled at me. ‘You just offended me.’ 
     ‘What?’ 
     ‘Here I am trying to guide your new adviser, I offered a helping hand and he rejected me. I offered a drink and he refused, politely I should add.’
     ‘So?’ 
     ‘Well he is your adviser, what sort of things will he say to you? Will you ever listen to him? It's now quite obvious he doesn’t respect the powers on the ship, he doesn’t respect me, which reflects badly on you Lord Andreas. You make it plain to all that you hate us, so on the next venture I want forty percent of the total spoils.’   
     ‘Forty?! You dare!’
     ‘I’m quite the daring fellow Lord Andreas. Whatever we are going to be involved in I suspect we will take heavy losses considering those involved. If you give me forty percent I can ensure that lost equipment, ammo, repairs and maintenance can be handled at the next station. We are heading into a military operation and your choices prove to me that we will take unnecessary losses.’
     My hand went for my blade again, I took a step towards Marius but suddenly I was held in place, a clawed gauntlet was on my pauldon. I looked back to see Angus, fear erupted across the bridge. The serfs have left their chairs and were moving to the corner of the bridge. Even Marius recoiled on the throne slightly, I wondered when did the witch get here? Or was he always present? Watching the conversation unfold? ‘I think that is enough.’ Angus said calmly. 
    ‘Let go.’ I hissed. 
    ‘And you’ll kill him won’t you? Not all problems can be solved with your blade my grace. No-’  
    ‘See tell him!’ Marius interjected.  
     Angus locked eyes with the human, his mouth slammed shut. ‘Marius, don’t be too greedy. You’ll get forty percent but don’t do this again, or I’ll have words with your father.’ 
     ‘Yo-’ 
     ‘Sssh, human don’t talk please.’ Angus placed a finger to his grille for emphasis and Marius complied, he nodded slowly while I grunted and pulled my shoulder from the witch’s grip. I marched out of the bridge and as always, for some reason the witch followed my steps. Once we were some distance away from the bridge I twisted around to him. 
     ‘Why did you say forty!?’ 
     ‘Why do you care? I thought you hated them all?’ 
     ‘I-’ before I could say something stupid I closed my mouth. I did hate them, why was I getting worked up over how they would feel? The slaves and spoils are divided after each raid, if a group gets upset they will aim for my life. I’m confident that I would be able to kill all challengers. 
     ‘You can’t kill everything in front of you Andreas.’ Angus said calmly. 
     ‘I’ve done so before.’ 
     ‘Yes, because they underestimated you. They did not expect the upstart legionary to win the aid of the Witch of Chains. They had no explanation why those under them vanished, disappeared as if they never existed.’ 
     ‘So why did you help me back then? Amusement?’ Angus said nothing, which told me everything. ‘So I’m joke to you?’ 
     ‘A little.’ he replied. ‘A poor joke toppling old powers, bringing something new. So rough around the edges… You fell upon everyone like a comet. They didn’t know how to react. You acted because you were bored, there was no plan or goal, you just landed in the King’s chair after you made him fall. Question is can you keep it? Do you want to keep it?’
     I hated whenever he did this, I folded my arms. The answer was obvious. ‘Yes, I like my golden chair.’
     ‘Good.’ Angus replied. ‘But in order to keep it, you need to work on the human. He’s a key piece.’
     ‘I thought you wanted me to kill him?’ 
     ‘I changed my mind.’ Angus said flatly. 
     ‘You should stop listening to them.’ 
     ‘You should listen to them more often. They want you to continue your game, but take it more seriously. You cannot let the priest fall into the hands of the others, he did well to reject Marius.’ I didn’t know what to think of what Angus has just told me, the Whispers were interested in my game. I had a feeling I was trapped on a road I had no control over and I suspect it happened as soon as I took in the priest.
     ‘Very well, perhaps I must put in more effort?’ Angus gave me a small bow, it was obviously in thanks. This was another thing I hated about him, unlike the rest of my brothers Angus was never smug about being right, never wrathful when I disagree with him. As the conversation concluded the shutters began sliding down windows, the ship was about to enter the warp. This gives me time, I think I will have a small talk with the mortal. 

Edited by Shinros, 29 April 2020 - 12:02 PM.

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#9
Tarvek Val

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This is a very interesting and enjoyable tale that you've woven together so far, Shinros. I'll divide my thoughts up by segment as I read through all of the different chapters.

 

Prologue: a very interesting choice in naming one of your characters 'Luther.' It calls to mind the Dark Angel of the same name — that may or may not have any significance to the piece. I very much enjoyed these sentences:

 

 

 Terror was welling up in my gut seeing this, a dark chill gripped my heart and within a few breaths it was now a few paces away from me. The creature was now standing still, staring at me as if I was an animal and in turn I could only say one word. ‘Why?’ 

    The fallen angel gave me a devilish smirk which came with a casual shrug in return to my question. ‘Why not?’ 

 

Chapter 1: I like how you get into Andreas's head, you capture the story from his PoV very well. I would love to see a more in-depth description of his physical appearance at this point of the story. One way that you could perhaps do so without being cliché is by introducing a mirror into the piece, as I'm sure any good Emperor's Child has a mirror or two around to admire himself in. I'd love to hear the specifics of his armor: by "trinkets," does he perhaps have chains or prayer coins hanging from his armor? What about physical features and heraldry?

 

Chapter 2: This chapter went a long ways towards exploring the physical dimension of the setting, which you did an excellent job with. I particularly enjoyed the dialogue between Beatrice and Luther, particularly over the "slaves / serfs" aspect of the conversation. It was nice to see someone call out the Imperium for their 'hypocrisies.' 

 

Chapter 3: Nice dialogue, and admirable scene setting.

 

Chapter 4: Very well-written, and a nice encounter between (what I am guessing) is a daemon of some sort and Luther. 

 

Chapter 5: This chapter is my favorite of the first five. The conversation between the apothecary and Andreas is enlightening and well-sculpted, and I got a good sense of Andreas's personality and mannerisms in this section of the text.

 

Chapter 6: Very interesting progression here. I love the idea of a Chaos bar, and Shifer is a fascinating character. I still can't tell if Luther is a psyker or if he has some mysterious religious power, but I enjoy the mystery.

 

Chapter 7: I'm confused as to how Luther managed to insult Marius, as the gift offered to him was from Shifer. If it was meant to be seen as a gift from the entire Silver Ravages company, that could be more clear in Chapter 6. The ending of this chapter offered some nice exposition from Angus's dialogue.

 

Overall, very well-done so far. I'm looking forward to the next segment. 


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"Our holy hatred will make us free!" ~Nameless Dark Apostle

 

"Though my guards may sleep and ships may rest at anchor, our foes know full well that big guns never tire." ~Huron Blackheart

 

"You shall stand in midnight clad, your claws forever red with the lifeblood of my father's failed empire, warring through the centuries as the talons of a murdered god. Rise, my sons, and take your wrath across the stars, in my name. In my memory. Rise, my Night Lords." ~Konrad Curze, the Night Haunter

 

"So... How are you?" ~Cyrion, First Claw

 

 


#10
Second_Instance

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I'm impressed how after an initial moment of "just how would this guy kill the Astartes?" you opened up the world building to show the factions and challenges that Andreas faces in keeping command. Andreas has been particularly well fleshed out as an upstart line astartes who fought his way to command out of a tendency to act before thinking and boredom, which combined with a supreme arrogance lead him to bring in Luther to try and kill him. Arrogant and overconfident, but then again, you chose the Legion perfectly.

 

I look forward to seeing Luther flushed out more as a counter, while he turned down that initial drink I wonder what pursuing his goal will cost him. Would he compromise his faith, to serve the emperor and accomplish the mission?


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#11
Shinros

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Thanks for the feedback all of you! Glad you're enjoying the story!

 

 

 

This is a very interesting and enjoyable tale that you've woven together so far, Shinros. I'll divide my thoughts up by segment as I read through all of the different chapters.

 

 

Chapter 7: I'm confused as to how Luther managed to insult Marius, as the gift offered to him was from Shifer. If it was meant to be seen as a gift from the entire Silver Ravages company, that could be more clear in Chapter 6. The ending of this chapter offered some nice exposition from Angus's dialogue.

 

Overall, very well-done so far. I'm looking forward to the next segment. 

 

 

You are actually correct on chapter 7 and Marius also wanted more power and control. I think I need to work on describing things more(goes to your armour point as well), delving further into conversations, mannerisms of the characters and hints to their thoughts. 


Edited by Shinros, 30 April 2020 - 06:42 PM.

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#12
Tarvek Val

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Your skills with dialogue and scene-setting have come far, Shinros. It's a pleasure to read your stories.


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"Our holy hatred will make us free!" ~Nameless Dark Apostle

 

"Though my guards may sleep and ships may rest at anchor, our foes know full well that big guns never tire." ~Huron Blackheart

 

"You shall stand in midnight clad, your claws forever red with the lifeblood of my father's failed empire, warring through the centuries as the talons of a murdered god. Rise, my sons, and take your wrath across the stars, in my name. In my memory. Rise, my Night Lords." ~Konrad Curze, the Night Haunter

 

"So... How are you?" ~Cyrion, First Claw

 

 


#13
Shinros

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Your skills with dialogue and scene-setting have come far, Shinros. It's a pleasure to read your stories.

I could only get this far due to the feedback I've gotten from all users who've read my stories. smile.png I do appreciate your insight Tarvek. 


Edited by Shinros, 30 April 2020 - 08:21 PM.


#14
Shinros

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Chapter 8
 
Luther
 
 
The doors towered over me, they were huge, gold plated and covered with depictions of bovine creatures. I tried to distance myself from what was on the doors, instead I tried to see if there was a way inside. My map told me this was where Madam Victoria dwells, but a normal human doesn’t have the strength to move such doors. I thought to turn back, that was until my eyes suddenly became fixated upon the towering entrance. I had no idea why I did such a thing even thought I tried to distance myself.  
     The bovine creatures covering the large doors were nothing like the Fallen Angel’s servants, the ones before me were more monstrous. Each had a face wrought in the shape of a bull, they also had thin tongues similar to those in the Club. Their bodies were also strange, an unholy blend of the human form, the bovine monsters were both slender and muscular, their chests were covered with multiple breasts but worst of all was the story depicted on the golden doors. 
    From the left it showed the monsters pillaging a village, gratifying themselves on unknown and undefined victims, the monsters were depicted in vivid detail. Some were dragging victims by their ankles into huts, others mutilated them out in the open and there were those who were eating them. But after the raid, the monsters grew lax, desperate, they began killing one another, clawing at their flesh in a frenzy. Scattered around them were the bodies of their victims and their own kind. I shook my head to this, what was before me was the first part of the story, my eyes steadily moved to the middle of the door.
    What I saw, made me frown. An orb or a sun bearing a spiked halo hovered over the monsters, they began praising it. Their dark desires became ritualised, they built churches which were covered with spiked spires which rose to the skies, they were no longer naked either. The monsters began piercing their bodies, their faces held nose chains, ears were covered with spiked rings and they now were wearing flowing robes, they became… civilised. Saying that word to myself was hard to bear, and as my eyes laid upon the right side of the door I found the ending of the story to be a dark one. 
    They were leading their victims into the churches in chains, forcing them along in a single file. I covered my mouth seeing this, I felt sick as my imagination ran wild. I tried to close my eyes but I could see flashes of the monsters pillaging the village, that was until a creak silenced the vision. 
    I opened my eyes to see the doors have opened, just slightly. The crack was enough for me to slip through. Ironically I hurried inside after what I just dealt with, perhaps I just wanted to get this over quickly? I doubted this meeting would turn out well after I rejected Adam, strangely he took it in stride. But I was now here, visiting a heretic who might be far worse than the young man. Now that I was past the doors I found myself in an empty hallway covered with purple torches. But there was a detail that wasn’t lost on me, it was clean. No blood, no strange fluids either, just a normal hallway. 
    That one fact didn’t make me feel better, the heretic waits patiently and strikes when one’s guard is down. So I made the sign of the aquila over my chest and walked on. My steps echoed through the hallway, the sound made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Unlike the Club I only had the sound of burning torches and my feet for company. I walked for about a minute or so, soon the walk turned brisk and eventually I was running. I ran as fast as I could, I wanted to reach the end as soon as possible. 
     But my sprint came to a stop as the line of torches ended, there was only darkness ahead of me, it seemed pure and utterly suffocating. I remembered what Beatrice told me about Truth attempting to devour people and I recalled what happened in Andreas' chamber. The events occurring were almost exactly the same. I looked down to my lantern. ‘I-I should be fine. He is with me.’ I pressed those four words, the faithful should not be afraid of the darkness, His followers are the light in the darkness. I walked on. 
    Right away it was like I was plunged into a black pit, my lantern didn’t illuminate anything save myself, vapour started to leave my mouth. That was when the ill sound started, it was… music of a different kind and I can’t believe I referred to it as such. Men and women were wailing, moaning, gnashing their teeth or screaming in a frenzy. I nervously rubbed my neck, that was when I felt fingers brush against my own, I twisted around, there was only darkness. I tried to reach for a wall, but I could grasp nothing. 
     Panic was beginning to fall upon my heart, instead I bit my lip and closed my eyes. My hands came together and I prayed as I walked. ‘I tread the path of righteousness. Though the path might be paved with broken glass, I shall walk barefoot; even though my feet may cross rivers of fire, I will pass over them; even though I might wander wide, His light guides my steps…’
     The words fell from my lips, eventually I could only hear myself. I felt safe in that, I kept walking, eyes closed. ‘Even in darkness He guides me.. I-’
     ‘You can open your eyes now.’ I froze, the voice belonged to a woman who sounded rather young, each syllable pricked my ears. I did as the voice asked and as my eyes slid open I found myself in a church. It was similar in structure to most churches you find in the imperium, but it had a dark twist to it. There were no benches, no windows either. There were instead statues lining the walls. They were twisted in appearance just like the bovine creatures on the door, each of them were committing an obscene act and in between each statue were side passages which lead to who knows where. 
     Towering over everything in the large hall, sitting at the end of it was a statue with six arms. Unlike the bovine creatures it was far more humanoid, the statue was a strange blend of male and female, it one only one breast on the right side of its chest, it had flowing hair and its body held a mix of piercings, rings and nose chains. 
     Each arm was also doing something different. The first one, which was the lowest, was holding a group of victims down, the monster was… mounting them. The second held spiked manacles, the third arm gripped a sword and the fourth was readying a spiked whip. From there, I wasn’t sure what to make of the last two. The fifth had its fist up in the air and the sixth held a rune, it was shaped similar to Beatrice’s earrings, the blended gender symbol.
     Staring at it for too long hurt my eyes, I was about to turn away until someone walked around me, we were now standing face to face. The person before me was wearing a black robe, a hood covered their head but their face was revealed to me. It was round, and it was both oddly soft and firm at the same time, golden lipstick lined their lips and they had short blonde hair. The person before me was utterly androynous. I didn’t know what to begin in determining their gender. It didn’t help either that their eyes were glassy blue pools that seemed to be drawing me in. 
     ‘You seemed to enjoy the statue.’ The voice was similar to the one that told me to open my eyes. Which gave me an answer to my self-query. 
     ‘Are you…’ 
     ‘Grand Hierophant Victoria.’ she answered. 
     ‘Grand Hierophant? Andreas called you Madam.’
     ‘He prefers not to acknowledge my religious title and he calls this place a simple Workshop. So tell me, what brings you to these hallowed halls?’ She gestured around for emphasis, seeing her thin, toned hand caused me to see flashes of the creature which sought my corruption. My nerves started to fray, it wasn’t until I clenched my own hands where the visions finally ceased. 
     ‘I merely wish to make myself known to you since I am Lord Andreas’ new adviser. My name is Luther’ I forced myself to bow, which elicited a playful chuckle from the heretic. She brought two of her thin fingers to her chin, she tapped it lightly.
     ‘You’re trying so hard, but you won’t survive if you insult everyone you meet.’ 
     ‘Excuse me?’ I rose as I asked my question, I was confused.
     ‘The Silver Ravagers aren’t happy, they sent one of their best to meet you and you rejected them.’ Her hands fell away from her chin. She then turned away and looked up to the disgusting statue. ‘They’re all heretics.’ she said firmly.
     Her statement was confusing, the dwellers of this ship all had the same dark faith, what was she talking about? As that thought crossed my mind she tilted her head back towards my direction, the movement was slight. ‘No you’re wrong. We seek enlightenment, they seek the next fix.’
    ‘Did you read my mind?’ I had to be careful, I might be dealing with a witch. 
    ‘No, you’re plainly obvious with your thoughts priest. It is why you all fail because you can’t read your flock.’ I didn’t have to take this from her, she was insulting my work, my very practice. 
     ‘You know nothing about me heretic. I pressed the last word which elicited another small chuckle from Victoria, she twisted around and smiled. It was a light one, but her smile oddly terrified me, it was far more provoking than the one given to me by the Fallen Angel.
      ‘When members of your flock come to you bearing pain and loss, you merely tell them to have faith and believe that they are next to Anathema's side. When one who is crushed by labour pours their heart out you simply tell them to keep working.’
     ‘Working for Him is all one needs. It’s all someone ever needs.’
     ‘That’s where I disagree, here is this temple I help give meaning to that pain and loss. Through it one can reach enlightenment.’ Her words were earnest, I could only say one thing. 
     ‘Ho-’ I froze before I asked the question. I watched her androgynous face carefully, her eyes were alight with expectation, she was rapt, she wanted me to ask that dreadful question. I sighed and placed my hands behind my back. ‘I try to offer them peace, I tell them that their heart will ache for months or years, the pain of loss may never go away but they should find solace that the soul of their loved one knows peace. It’s all I can say to someone who has lost someone. I tell the labourer that their work is hard, but those who use their creations fight and die in His name. We all suffer in the face of duty, but we must bear it from Him who sits on the throne. 
     The heretic relaxed, she sighed heavily. ‘You’re so blind, so very blind.’ 
     ‘I rather blind myself to evil than embrace it. Embracing evil destroys one’s soul, you abandoned your duty.’     
     ‘Fine, I will help you.’ I blinked in shock to her statement. 
     ‘What? Why?’
     ‘You’re funny, you're just like him. So confident, so arrogant, you think you have all the answers.’ 
     ‘You know nothing about the Imperium or about service, you were likely born on this ship, heresy is all you know.’ 
     ‘I know enough, after all I was a cardinal.’ My posture broke in an instant, anger threaded my body, Victoria smiled smugly at my reaction. 
     ‘Lies!’ I hissed.
     ‘I could tell you things about the Holy Synod, things that will cause your soul to shudder. I can also answer questions about yourself as well.’ The anger was halted in that moment, she knows what I am? What does she mean? I was about to open my mouth to ask until I picked up the sound of servos and heavy footsteps. I turned to see the Fallen Angel had entered this cursed temple and he wasn’t pleased. Seeing him made me wince, I had to consider the creature a person in order to defeat him, he’s still a monster though, one that acts out on his whims without warning. Strangely Victoria tutted upon his appearance that one fact wasn’t lost on me.
     The Fallen angel walked up to me. His words were clear. ‘We need to talk.’ 

Edited by Shinros, 08 May 2020 - 03:42 PM.


#15
Shinros

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Chapter 9
 
Andreas
 
It was strange walking with the human, I was somewhat angry but watching his confusion was amusing. His mind was most likely churning away, thinking why I wished to speak with him. I found it best to have this discussion in plain view, it would give him legitimacy and greater life expectancy. But I needed to get to a point, who knows how much time I have. 
    The journey to Nidal was estimated to take about a month, but that could change if the warp becomes clear or suddenly spits us out at our destination. ‘So you’ve met with Silver Ravagers and Madam Victoria.’ I spoke first, I had to move first so I could steer the conversation.  
     ‘I only met with a soldier of the Silver Ravagers, I also would find it difficult to work with Victoria.’
     ‘But that soldier worked for Marius himself, he was his agent and rejecting that agent was like spitting on his face. I took the brunt of it. Be more careful next time. Next time they might kill you.’ The priest’s face was plain, but I know he was enjoying the fact that I was harmed. I’ll let him have that small victory, but if he wants my death and the utter ruination of this warband he must do more and he was far from that goal at the moment. I have to use that need. I pulled out his golden trinket from my pouch, his eyes lit up right away. ‘Here, take it.’ 
     The priest’s hands slowly reached out, he took the small charm carefully and held it close to his chest, he then frowned. ‘What game are you playing here?’
     ‘We’re going to war, if you are to survive you need all your tools no? And you need allies don’t you?’ 
     ‘I won’t kill or pillage His subjects!’ the priest hissed. Slave seventy-two was becoming upset, that was expected. 
     ‘Then you have to require protectors. What we are going to do will be no simple raid, as I said it will be war. So here is my revised recommendation. Head to the lower-levels, the sick, the destitute and the lost dwell there. I assume you know how to handle yourself from there.’ At my instruction the human relaxed, he frowned. 
     ‘You’re desperate.’ he said flatly. As the priest spoke I stopped walking, so did he. I wanted to kill him for saying that, but I must bear it for now. Angus said I needed him to ensure success, no one was loyal to me but what I can count on was the human’s obsession. He wants to be the one to kill me, no one else. Whatever Slave Seventy-Two does will be a shield against the other forces on the ship. 
      ‘No I’m not desperate, I am reassessing your usefulness.’ With that statement our walk continued. We eventually stopped at an elevator, I gestured to it. ‘This will take you to the lower levels.’
      ‘I’m not going to the lower levels my lord.’ Slave said firmly. 
      ‘Excuse me?’ I was surprised, he wasn’t taking the bait. All he would have to do was flash his witchcraft and the lower level slaves will be at his beck and call. Even the rebels would sing that he has come to free them.  
      ‘I… don’t need them.’ He looked up to me, there was something in his brown eyes. It was uncertainty. I cursed to myself, Victoria may have wormed into his psyche. ‘You shouldn’t listen to her, she’s a viper, a snake.’ 
      Slave Seventy-Two shook his head. ‘No, I’m aware. I just don’t want to act as your shield. You want me to use the lives of those who are broken to shield you.’
      I sighed to myself, humans are always difficult. ‘Do you want me to kill you?’
      ‘If you do my lord that means you have lost, instead of playing to the end you wish to smash the board. Doing so would admit that you couldn’t handle me, a simple priest. Now I have other duties to attend to, as you said we’re going to war.’ The human walked away from me, without dismissal no less. I raged, I didn’t stop him even as he vanished into the hallway for he was right. Killing him would be admitting defeat, but at the same time he has no desire to listen and I just handed him back his trinket. I messed up, what did Angus see in the mortal anyway!? 
      ‘Having trouble brother?’ The voice was coy, almost playful. I twisted around to see Basil walking towards me, he was flanked by two noise marines, each of them were holding jagged blades in both hands. As my “brother” stopped before me I noticed he had a new piercing, his face was covered with them, from his brow, ears and nose. His armour was also fitted with a fresh tail-cape, the leather was tanned from human flesh. Basil held his chin, he smiled. ‘Can’t control your pet?’ 
       I glanced at his guards, the so called champion was still a coward. ‘It’s none of your business.’ 
      ‘I say it is, as one of the concerned members of this ship I wish to notify you that your human is upsetting the balance. Especially Marius who’s family allows us to resupply easily.’
      ‘So you’re at the beck and call of a human?’ 
      ‘I would say another one of the faithful.’ 
      ‘They’re not our equals!’ I said harshly. Basil sighed, his hand fell from his face, he proceeded to cross his arms. 
      ‘We’re not the Black Legion fool, do you have any idea how hard it is to acquire astartes grade weaponry and armour!? To fix the ship and replace lost crewmen!? While you played with your title I was handling everything on the side!’ 
     ‘Then how about you take my title away from me?’ I let the threat hang in the air, Basil licked his lips revealing that he has now pierced his tongue as well. 
     ‘There is a way of things, I’m the leader in all but name. Things will be put right soon enough.’
     ‘You expect Adrian to do it for you? What makes you believe that? He might just recognise my strength.’
     ‘Strength is not the only thing needed to lead, I haven’t killed you yet because of the witch you hang around with. I know he dragged away our brothers, despite my hatred of him he is also part of the ship’s balance. That creature easily gets upset despite his veneer of calmness. At the end of the day he’s a war asset.’
     ‘That sounds like an excuse.’ With my response I placed my hand on the pommel of my blade, Basil’s eyes drifted to my hand. 
     ‘You wish to fight?’ 
     ‘Yes, all I hear are words and posturing. If you despise me, if you hate me then kill me.’ The coward grunted, he turned away. 
     ‘You’re still an astartes, an asset. One that might be needed for the war.’ 
     ‘Another excuse.’ I couldn’t help but smile, he was truly frightened to cross blades. 
     ‘You say this, but I know your every move. I have eyes watching you all the time. I could end your life whenever I want, Seiriol placed his creations around you for a reason.’ He left it at that, he walked away with his guards leaving me alone in the hallway. At that moment my hearts dropped, the sculpulytes were spies. I then recalled my training sessions, the creatures have seen my moves, such information can be extracted by the apothecary and given to my brothers. Perhaps Seiriol wasn’t collecting their bodies just to fix them? I was confident in my swordplay but if everyone knew my weaknesses?
     ‘Dammit!’ I roared, my voice reverberated down the corridors. I was frustrated, if Basil was speaking the truth that means I am surrounded by assassins. I now began to wonder whether the sculpulytes were holding back during training as well? They could also have a kill switch, a signal to mark me for death. I had to act first, I won’t give my enemies a chance to topple me. I am the leader of this host am the lord of this warband.    
 

Edited by Shinros, 10 May 2020 - 06:29 PM.


#16
Shinros

Shinros

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Chapter 10
 
Luther
 
 
I sat quietly at my desk, looking down to my holy symbol. I was uneasy, worried for the future. I haven’t been here long and suddenly the Fallen Angel has become desperate, I am also struggling with the words imparted to me by Victoria. She was a cardinal, she knows the secrets of the Holy Synod, she knows what I am. But she could be lying, but as I dwelt on her words I could see or sense no falsity. My old friend simply told me I am blessed by the Emperor and I was satisfied with that answer until now. 
     ‘Questions cause turbulence in one’s soul, always silence them…’ another edict left my lips, one that I hoped would help but it didn’t. I bought my hands together and squeezed them, the action was futile, it did nothing but I thought it would calm my nerves. I  then sighed to myself, I had no idea how to proceed. I thought to retire to my bed until a knock graced my door. I frowned at the sound, for a moment I was about to ignore it but decided otherwise. I got up from my desk and took my holy symbol with me, just in case. 
    I then unlocked my room door and as I opened it I edged back, it was one of Andreas’ kin, but a palpable aura surrounds him. The eye lenses of their helm burned with a brilliant blue light and the chains attached to his belt were constantly rattling. I raised my symbol and in return the fallen Astartes raised his hand to me. ‘I wouldn’t do that.’ he said calmly. 
    ‘Witch…’ I said in a hushed tone. 
    The monster strolled into my room, strangely I didn’t stop him but I kept my symbol on the creature, my hand gripping the symbol followed him wherever he walked. The Astartes soon stopped and stared at my cogitator for several moments before clicking his fingers. My room door slammed shut and the lock turned. That was when sweat began to dribble down my brow. ‘What do you want?’ I had to force the words out. 
    ‘To talk.’ again he was speaking calmly, but his voice was unnerving, there wasn’t a hint of emotion within it. 
     ‘Then speak your peace and leave.’ The witch nodded, he faced me and shook his head. 
     ‘The streams are unravelling, moving in directions I cannot predict. How do you do that?’ Now curiosity laced his words. 
     ‘I haven’t done a thing.’ 
     ‘That’s where you are wrong. Your acts align with His goals, as you breathe, as you talk and move you cause… miracles to occur.’ 
     ‘I’ve barely worked my power on this ship.’ 
     ‘But your… power doesn’t only lie in bursts of light. Andreas was always erratic and arrogant. But since your arrival it has become worse. Strangely all the powers are acting up in such a small frame of time, it’s been but a few ship cycles at most.’ He was leading somewhere with his words, but I doubt them. It is the nature of heretics to fight amongst one another when there is no foe in sight. 
     ‘You’re obeying your dark natures. I haven’t been here long but the heretics on the ship smell blood in the water and they wish to bite the Fallen Angel.’ My response made the witch shake his head. He seemed… deflated. 
     ‘You don’t understand that you are obeying your nature as well. To destroy us, it’s ironic that a small spark can be so damaging.’ 
     ‘Small spark?’ 
     ‘Yes, because that is what you are. A spark or a fragment, a drifting piece moving at the whims of his Master. Just like me.’ 
     ‘I’m nothing like you! You consort with the creatures of darkness! You’ve sold your soul!’ 
     ‘I prefer to sell the souls of others in my stead.’ Those words were like a trigger, I unleashed His light upon the witch, my holy icon erupted, a beam of light flew towards the monster. The agent of darkness raised both his hands and in front of them a gaping portal appeared, purple liquid was dripping out of it and as His light made impact with it, something unexpected happened. The portal devoured the light, then came a suction, it was difficult to keep balance. My holy icon which had just been returned slipped from my hand and as devoured as well. 
     My heart fell, despair clawed at my soul seeing this. The witch closed his hands and the portal vanished. The monster relaxed, all I could do was stare, I was stunned, stupefied at what just happened.  ‘As I said, a fragment.’ The witch’s tone was still docile which further fuelled my current state. 
    ‘W-What...H-How?’ 
    ‘Then let me unburden you.’ I covered my ears hearing this, I turned away and muttered any prayer I could think of. But I could still hear his voice. 
    ‘There are as many fragments as there are stars….’ With his words I could see the galaxy and blinking golden lights. The galaxy then cracked and reformed into humble agri world. I was now standing in front of a church, it was made of plain wood and the skull of the emperor sat on top of it. I thought to resist somehow but the nagging need for truth became utterly compelling. I lowered my hands from my ears and walked inside. 
     As I entered the church I saw a priest, she was delivering service to a small congregation. Standing in the shadows watching, was someone I didn’t expect to see. It was my old friend, Alevia Gaspar, Inquisitor of the Ordo Malleus. Her brown hair was tied back, the streaks of grey have increased since I’ve seen her. She was also wearing a black coat over her carapace armour and her eyes were still clear. There wasn’t a single hint of corruption. What was happening here was how I met her. 
     The priest eventually finished their service and Alevia approached, I couldn’t hear their words, the only voice I had for company was the witch. ‘Fragments are gathered, taken into “service”.’
      The church broke down and reformed into a jail cell, the priest speaking with my friend was chained and emaciated. Her robes were torn, her pale skin was covered with grime and she was emaciated. The imprisoned priest was fervently praying for salvation until the cell door was opened. Crusaders entered and took her away, strangely my feet moved in tune with them. This place was a dungeon, cells lined the hallway, many of the doors were rattling and I could tell this was a place of misery. The crusaders soon stopped in front of a door and the priest was taken inside. I tried to walk forward but an unseen force would push me back. ‘So the fragments are taken apart… piece by piece…’ 
     The witch’s voice echoed in my mind, what did he mean by that? In reaction I ran forward, again the force tried to push me back but I kept going, pushing against it to find what was behind that door. ‘Do you truly want to see?’ 
     ‘Yes!’ I said through gnashed teeth. At my affirmation the force vanished, I phased through the door and what I found was an operating theatre mixed with a prayer room. Cherubs were fluttering around the space, servo-skulls were gripping labelled jars with their metallic claws. In the middle of it all were full of robed priests chanting around the operating table. I recognised the biretta’s, the holy symbols and the rods of office topped with the I of ecclesiarchy. Each the priests were also flanked by crusaders. The number of people made it difficult to peer at their work, I thought to approach until the hands of the priests reached downwards to the table, I froze. 
    One at a time the priests proceeded to pluck something from the operating table and what they held up caused my stomach to turn, it was eyes, fingerbones, toes and a host of other body pieces. A red piece of meat was taken from the table and then handed off to a crusader, who handled it with great reverence. The crusader then approached a the servo skull holding labelled jar. Seeing this I was spurred on, I wanted to unravel this mystery.  I approached the floating device and with each step my body began to tense. As I reached the chittering skull I read the label on the jar. No words left my mouth, the witch spoke for me. ‘Saint Abigail’s eye.’ 
       I vomited in that instant, I crumpled to my knees and the vision collapsed, I was back in my room. I was trembling, I was looking down to my own vomit lacing the floor. ‘Sad isn’t it?’ The voice of the witch caused my eyes to shoot up to him.
      ‘L-Lies…’ 
      ‘I hate lies myself, truth has a far better foundation. But that’s all you can do, scream that it’s lies as something conflicts with your indoctrination. For thousands of years the people you had your faith in have been murdering minor fragments of the Anathema. Those priests don’t waste anything either, her blood was sent to one of my kind who can make good use of it. Unfortunately they tend to murder those who learn of their existence.’ I started to mumble, I couldn’t come up with a counter argument. I could only say one thing. 
      ‘A-Alevia isn’t like that!’
      ‘Inquisitors are friends of no one, they only see assets for their task. When it comes to the enemies your… friend faces guess what makes the best weapons? Fragments, using their blood to consecrate swords and bullets. Keeping their bones as charms. It’s only the famous ones, the large fragments they can’t get their hands on avoid this fate, but they always find some way to use their carcass when they pass. I’m sure you’re aware of how the Imperium likes to drag the dead bodies of their saints into battle?’ The last part was the truth, I know that. Heroes can protect the faithful in death, it was known. But the rest? ‘The rest hurts doesn’t it?’ The witch echoed my thoughts.  
     ‘Y-Yes…’ my voice was weak, I was shaking. The witch was about to walk towards me until a muffled scream came through my door. The creature’s head snapped towards it, his attention was fixated on what just happened. Without a word, he left my room, he phased right through the door leaving me alone with a shattered vision and the stink of my own stomach. 

Edited by Shinros, 12 May 2020 - 02:20 PM.


#17
Shinros

Shinros

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Chapter 11
 
Andreas
 
Our blades clashed, which further proved my hypothesis. She could parry my strikes and make use of my small openings. As our blades met and ground together like lovers. Beatrice’s face screwed into abject anger and disgust, she hissed at me. ‘You don’t deserve it!’ she screeched. I said nothing in return, I pushed on my blade causing her to stagger back.
    She knew my moves but she was still lesser than I, with a quick motion I bought my blade down severing her arm from the shoulder. She wailed, she tried to turn and run but I sprinted forth and grabbed her by the hair. I pulled her to my body and brought my blade to her neck. Even without an arm she still struggled, the creatures were truly resilient. I’ve been spending the last few hours hunting them, I got used to their smell which has also made them easier to track. Beatrice was the last. ‘So many false smiles you gave me Beatrice… It’s a shame it has to end this way.’
      She kept struggling, flailing about like a child. So I ended it and when I ran my blade across her throat, a gurgling scream left her mouth. I pushed her carcass onto the floor and as I did so Angus phased through a door, his eyes locked upon me in an instant. Suddenly the temperature fell as my brother’s eyes lingered upon me, and rime started to coat my armour. I shook my head and tapped my blade on my pauldron. ‘Is something wrong?’
     As I spoke Angus faced me and shook his head, the sudden chill vanished as did the frost. ‘No... I shouldn’t be angry with you. You’re powerless against it.’ 
     ‘Excuse me?’ I was confused, but I could tell he was about to talk my ear off again. I glanced at the door he left and then it clicked. ‘You haven’t done anything to my priest have you?’
    ‘It’s because you failed to utilise him that I acted. But it's too late. We fell into His trap.’
    ‘Trap? Are you referring to Basil? I dealt with his spies.’ I pointed my blade at Beatrice’s corpse. ‘See? It seems I would have to find my own servants rather than rely on my “brothers”.’ Angus sighed which means that wasn’t the correct answer. I got annoyed. ‘Speak plainly!’ I shouted. 
      The witch placed his hands behind his back, he gave me a slight nod of acknowledgement. At least I thought it was. ‘Haven’t you noticed since you took in the priest everything has started to unravel? So very quickly?’ 
      ‘I…’ I stopped and started to think. It hasn’t been that many ship cycles, three days or perhaps more. Marius wanting forty percent, the message from Adrian and now… I glanced at Beatrice’s corpse. I looked back and saw the other scattered remains of the sculpulytes I killed and as my gaze returned to Angus I frowned. ‘You’re far too superstitious.’ I spoke firmly, I wanted to press the point. 
    ‘Superstitious? Think Andreas, you have no shield. None of the powers support you and now of all times they are acting.’ 
    ‘You’re the one who gave Marius forty percent.’ 
    ‘To buy you time, but our enemy won’t give us that luxury.’
    ‘He’s a corpse with no power Angus. He has no will, no divine mandate.’ 
    ‘But his mandate is working through the priest, his very presence causes our misfortune if we don’t twist him to our ends. He’s not a simple man who speaks words from dusty books to calm the battered gears of the imperium.’ It sounded like Angus wanted to shout with that statement, but his voice was level. I wasn’t amused with this discussion.
   ‘So what could have stopped this misfortune from happening!? You want me to open the gates don't you!? You want me to become crazed like the other hosts!? A destitute husk who can barely think or act!? I would be the perfect puppet no!? Easy to influence for something like you? I’m right aren’t I?’ The witch side nothing, which confirmed my thoughts. He was just like the rest of them. ‘I bet you’re speaking with Basil as well, aren’t you!?’
     Angus sighed. ‘Stop, just stop and think for a moment. His light is making you blind, His light made you curious and now you don’t want to let it go. This same light agitated the powers on this ship and like wolves they come for you. Even I couldn’t predict things would move this fast. If you step onto that station that will be your end, the end of this host. Calm your anger, slow down and think.’
     ‘How do you know it would be my end!? Adrian will recognise my strength and see that Basil is a coward!’ 
     The witch shook his head in return. ‘No, you were born after Horus’ war. They will treat you differently, you have no rank. You're not even a legionnaire even if you call yourself such. To the captain and lord of that station you are less than dirt. Whatever war Adrian will involve us in we won’t survive. That man desires ascension and he will use everything and everyone to obtain it.’ I narrowed my eyes at the witch, I had no desire to hear further pointless worries. 
     ‘Are you done?’ Angus tensed which was rare to see. He silently nodded and turned away, he left me with the corpses of the traitors. I proceeded to grunt, I glanced at Slave’s door and approached. I could hear him praying, it was truly fervent. I thought to enter until the sound of a siren consumed the hallway, it meant we were leaving the warp. My eyes widened. ‘That’s impossible… the journey…’ It was supposed to take a month. It’s been less than a day. I stood in front of the door like a stone. ‘Lies…’ I said under my breath. ‘He has no power, He has none at all...’
 


#18
Shinros

Shinros

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Chapter 12
 
Luther
 
I couldn’t hear our footsteps due to the space station, it was full of dark and unfettered life. It was the sort of life I didn’t expect to see. Pirates, mutants and astartes were bartering in the huge hallways, cloistered heretics would walk around the station, whipping themselves as foul prayers were uttered. To me, all of this appeared normal in a sense. But it was warped, astartes weren’t a common occurrence, one could go by their entire lifetime without seeing one. But the ones here weren’t depicted as heroic figures fighting against the darkness, they were similar to my captors, who kept their eyes on my every move.
     Crying faces was moulded upon their armour, stitched flesh draped from their backs and like the Silver Ravagers some were well-groomed. They had pearl-white teeth, long hair that seemed to have been given too much attention. While there were others that appeared more akin to those in the Club, from milky-white skin, beady black eyes, nails that were as long as talons. 
     The humans on this station mimicked the cursed Angels, in appearance and demeanour, there were shouts, haggling, the trading of weapons and even people. In a way I was part of this crowd or in other words a prisoner. A commodity, the Fallen Angel dragged me to this space station, my hands were chained. He walked at the front of our group, he was busy talking with kin, one of them had a face which was covered by piercings. I caught his name during their conversation, that was Basil. The second was wearing white armour which held a single pink pauldron, he was Seiriol. Just one look at the “champion” told me everything, I would never be able to work with such a creature. 
     But that wasn’t the worst of it, walking closely to my side was the witch who revealed the… truth. A part of me accepted it, I now wondered why I hadn't killed myself as soon as I was captured? Why did I take part in the Fallen Angel’s game?
     ‘Because you are already tainted.’ The words slid gently into my mind, it almost sounded like my own thoughts. I proceeded to glare at the witch who was still looking forward. 
     ‘I’m not tainted.’ My voice was low, it held the edge of annoyance. The witch's attention then shifted, just slightly, he gave the appearance that he wasn’t staring at me. He kept that position for time, he didn’t say a word. The Fallen Angel turned his head back to us. 
     ‘Enough both of you.’ The arrogance wasn’t there, his voice was level almost calm. I’ve known him for a short time, but the fact the creature wasn’t throwing his weight around told me of the gravity of this situation. The witch returned a curt nod to the monster. 
     ‘I wasn’t doing anything.’ the witch said calmly. 
     The words of the warp dabbler word provoked the so called champion, he glared at the witch. ‘Don’t mess with Adrian’s gift.’ 
     ‘Gift?’ I said the word out loud, Basil frowned, he narrowed his eyes at Andreas. ‘You haven’t trained him?’ 
     ‘Does it matter?’ The Fallen Angel replied. 
     ‘Adrian prefers his gifts to be broken in, he might get offended.’ 
     ‘He let me on the station Basil. Stop lecturing me.’ 
     ‘He allowed you to come here in order to kill you, it’s obvious.’ The Fallen Angel stopped, we all did; he frowned at Basil. 
     ‘Stop being so sure of yourself.’ Andreas said firmly. 
     ‘And you are not? What happened? Is that fear I see?’ Basil was provoking my captor, he was about to reach for his blade until the astartes in white stepped in between them. Seiriol raised his hands. To cease the hostilities. 
     ‘Remember whose house we are in. Let’s just deliver his gift and see what place he has for us in his war.’ To my eyes Seiriol was pointing the statement more to Andreas, the words seemed to calm him for we all continued our journey. Eventually we arrived at a set of double doors, they weren’t as big as the ones belonging to Victoria but they were far more elaborate, it was also a mix of gold and silver. The doors depicted an astartes leading warriors into battle, he stood on the edge of a cliff pointing his blade at the soldiers of the imperium who all looked… ugly. To say the least. From huge noses, wide eyes and drooling. 
     But I didn’t get time to stare as one of the two astartes guarding the door approached. They were wearing terminator armour, I’ve seen such things in the books available to the inquisitor I worked for. I never thought I would see such a relic in the flesh. But like all things when it comes to the minions of darkness it was a parody of what I dreamed off. Heads were attached to their waists, forming a belt and silk was pouring out the mouths and eyes. Golden snakes swirled over their armour and spiked leather was wrapped around their wrists. The Fallen angel tried to approach the guard walking towards us but he ignored him for Basil. ‘Lord Adrian will see you now.’ 
     ‘I’m the leader of this warband.’ Andreas’ statement to the terminator was clear and also loud, but again the guard ignored him. He simply trudged back to his place at the doors and opened them. I could tell the creature was raging, his hands were clenched tightly. Even so, we walked on, we all did and what I found inside was a throne room. 
     My stomach clenched upon seeing the throne itself, it was a thing made of flesh and stone, faces moved across it and the mouths were moaning in a chorus. What was sitting upon it though? Was far worse and those who surrounded this dreaded monster matched it in its foulness. The lord and leader of this station was bald, his face was gaunt and lean in a way that made him look uncanny. His eyes were also a blazing blue.
     The monster also had black nails, they shined in the light and they were also thick and long, his armour like his throne had faces criss-crossing it. They moved, shifted, echoing words of torment and vice. I assumed that was Adrian, next to his throne was an astartes wearing a similar garb to the terminators outside, the only difference was he was wielding a spear and had a cape made of flesh. 
     The third Astartes was strange, he had an hour-glass figure. His purple armour was bruised in colouration and the aquila on his chest was slashed and defaced. A strange pink aura surrounded him, staring at him for too long made bile rise to the back of my throat. I then recalled that I was a gift to Adrian. I started to panic, my captors approached the monster on the throne. Andreas stood tall and locked eyes with the head of the space station. ‘I’ve come, as you requested.’ 
     Adrian clicked his tongue, he sighed wistfully. ‘You’re not Julian.’ his voice was smooth and light, but it dripped with a certain menace that told me “if you step out of line I will end you.” To me, it seemed the Fallen Angel didn’t realise that. 
    ‘Julian is dead, I killed him.’ The announcement caused the Astartes in terminator armour to bristle, he was about to step towards Andreas, but Adrian raised a hand to stop him. ‘I doubt that.’ said the monster. ‘Did you catch him off guard? When he was drugged out of his mind?’ 
     The Fallen Angel said nothing, which told me everything. I could even see that was the truth of it. ‘Does it matter?’ Andreas replied. 
     ‘To me it does, why is a thin blood directing the host of a captain I respected?’ 
     ‘You respected someone who spent their time more on narcotics than leading?’ Adrian grinned at Andreas’ so-called rebuke. Basil tensed, his face screamed that he should intervene but he waited, what for I had no idea. ‘I lead because no one dared to challenge me.’ Andreas continued. ‘It was why Basil plotted to bring me before you.’ 
     At the mention of the champion Adrian’s eyes fell upon him. Basil bowed. ‘I merely wished to correct a mistake.’ 
     ‘Then correct it Lieutenant. You have space.’ Adrian then gestured to the area around them. ‘Spill his guts on the ground, take your place as leader of the host so we can head to war.’ 
     ‘I-’ Basil didn’t get the chance to speak, Andreas charged, blade at the ready. Basil barely had the time to draw his weapon. Everyone stepped back, I personally didn’t know what to make of this but I had to admit what was happening before me was a spectacle. The blades moved at a speed I could barely make out. But both of their faces were grim, determined and when their blades locked and ground together Basil smiled. ‘You’re not that good, not truly!’ 
     Andreas tried to push back, he said nothing save grinding his teeth. The witch next to me sighed. He said something I didn’t expect. ‘He’s not going to win.’ 
     ‘That’s as it should be.’ Seiriol added, the witch glanced at the white astartes. His eyes then fell upon me. 
     ‘Fix this.’ 
     ‘W-What? What do you expect me to do? I-’ Time started to slow, it steadily grew to a stop. Everything was still. My words died upon my lips seeing this.
     ‘Do qwe fuib zu…’ the hairs on the back of my neck stood up right away, I slowly turned around to see spectre standing at the doors, the same one that… attacked me when I got lost. Their hand was outstretched, just like before. ‘Come here…’ she asked. 
     I took a step back in fear, that was when I saw flashes of Andreas losing, he was cut down by Basil. The new leader of the host would then offer me to Adrain. The monster knew what I was, he could sense it, feel it. Lending credence to what the witch told me, the lord of this station wanted my screams, my torment. He wanted to use me as the offering to begin his war. My death wouldn’t be quick, it would be slow, drawn out. 
     I would be forced to walk around the station as those strange priests flogged me, I would then be handed over to his ship's courtesans to be used as they pleased. Once that was done they would force my eyes open with staples and bleed me dry on a stone altar. I was sacred, I wished this never happened to me. I dropped to my knees and wept, this must all be a dream. This can’t be real. 
     I closed my eyes tightly, the trick always worked when I had a nightmare. To force myself to awaken. But even as my eyes were closed I could still see my fate. In that instant, I broke, I wondered what am I doing here? What did I do to deserve this? Was it the Emperor’s will that I suffer? That I die a miserable death? Thinking such things caused the vision to flip to the priests tearing apart the so-called fragment. The vision the blasted witch gave me.
     That was when I realised I was trapped within a cage of suffering. There was no way out and the spiked bars were closing in. ‘I’m here.’ Her voice was far more clear this time, I opened my eyes. The black-robed creature was hovering before me, she was offering her hand still. ‘Why?’ I asked. ‘W-What are you?’
     The woman lowered her hand, she swayed slightly. ‘I’m inside you. Growing. Multiplying. Spreading. He can’t protect you anymore, not from this.’ She wasn't speaking to me, it was my own voice churning within. Those cursed words echoed in my mind. ‘I am there when you smile, when you feel joy. When you hate something with every fiber of being. I am your desperation, your desire for liberation.’ She offered her hand again. ‘Come here, I’m right here.’ 
     I began to hyperventilate, I weighed my options, my chances and after a few seconds I took her hand. It didn’t sizzle this time, she gripped my hand tightly in return. That was when she began to fade away, eventually I was clutching my fist and time returned to normal. I looked around in confusion, that was when I heard a gasp, one full of death. 
     I got to my feet and turned around, what I saw made my heart drop. Andreas was lying on the floor, blood was pooling beneath him. Basil was panting heavily, he was grinning ear to ear while. I looked up to the witch, he was no longer staring at me. ‘Angus, what… what do we do?’ I don’t know how I knew his name, it came to me easily. 
     The witch chuckled to himself, he was staring at Andreas. I could hear him clearly but it seemed no one was paying attention to him. What exactly just happened?  

Edited by Shinros, 21 May 2020 - 05:57 PM.


#19
Shinros

Shinros

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Chapter 13
 
Andreas 
 
 
I clutched the reins of my house tightly, I stared at the entrance of the forest and as I was about to whip the reins a voice stopped me. ‘T-This isn’t a good idea.’ I sighed and bought my horse around, facing my companions. I was a prince, inspiring my lessers was part of my role. My eyes locked upon Bors, a fellow noble of house Tormas, I’ve known him since I was young, we were “friends” in a sense but I more or less used him as a gopher. His family took advantage of that, hoping to gain favour with the royal family. 
     I smiled at the fool. ‘What’s the problem? Don’t you want to lead?’
    ‘N-No, b-but…’ Bors voice trailed off, he shifted his eyes upon his fellow nobles. Each of us, sons and daughters of near immortal rulers wished to take their place one day. That became impossible as our world was touched by the Imperium, in return for our local ore and soldiers doctors came. They made the rulers youthful, they persist for years. At the moment I was the 13th son within the royal line. I grew tired of waiting.   
     ‘Bors listen.’ I then shook my head. ‘Think. We are children that will never see power, our birthright because of what our parents became. The old witch could fix that, it was said she was the adviser for the first king.’ 
     ‘She was exiled.’ Added Elaine, another "friend" spoke up. She was the 25th daughter of house Greifor, her signature bright red hair marked her bloodline. Bors quickly nodded in agreement.
     ‘Aye, witchcraft, the legends remember?’ 
     ‘True, but we only have the word of our elders. Who seem to want to defy time itself.’ I wasn’t speaking to both of them, my words were for all those gathered here. Their faces were still grim. I frowned. ‘Fine. I will go by myself, never knew I fraternised with cowards.’ I bought my horse back to the entrance of the forest. Just for a moment I had to admit I was afraid, the pathway into the dread place was dark. Even so, I wanted power, I desired it. I flicked the reins and guided the horse into the forest. My “friends” didn’t stop me, they didn’t say a word. 
     As I entered the thicket, night fell upon me. I looked back to see the entrance was gone, there was only darkness. And the wind grew ill and cold, I bit my lip slightly as I began to tremble. I continued down the pathway, the seconds ticked away, minutes soon became hours and my fear grew with it. I thought to turn around, but the perpetual darkness was still behind me, I was afraid to enter it. So I continued, I kept going. 
    In time I found a hut in a small clearing, the fences were bent as were the trees. It felt like the forest was now leering upon me, watching for what I will do. In return to I took a shallow breath and approach the hut. That was when the creaking started, my horse suddenly became frightened, it reared and cried while throwing me off its back. 
     I winced in pain as I hit the ground, I watched the horse run in circles as the creaking grew louder until the animal finally turned away and ran back into the darkness. As the horse’s cries became distant my heart thundered within my chest. I grunted and got to my feet, the creaking then stopped. I faced the hut and on the porch I saw a rocking chair, sitting upon it was an individual wrapped in black silk, her hair was pink, almost luminescent and a long hood obscured her face. 
     Staring at her caused a strange familiarity to grip me. I assumed it was the power of the witch, before I had the chance to deconstruct this sensation the witch got up from her chair. She didn’t walk towards me, she drifted across the ground. That was when I realised this was a bad idea. 
     She stopped a few paces away, she bought her pale hands together. ‘What do we have here?’ Her voice passed through me, I could feel it within my mind and soul. I tried to straighten myself, to appear brave but my legs were shaking. 
     ‘My name is Prince Andreas Reslov, 13th son of-’ 
     ‘Andreas, such a nice name.’ The witch interrupted. ‘Tell me Andreas what is your desire?
     ‘I want to be king!’ I quickly answered. 
     ‘King? That’s it?’ She began drifting around me, cackling to herself as she continued. ‘You want a castle far larger than the one belonging to your parents, you want harlot’s at your beck and call, you want armies that can crush the rivals of the royal family…’ She listed off vices and wants that I kept hidden, she even listed the small ones as well. How did the witch know so much about me? What was she truly? She soon stopped in her original position. I shook my head. 
     ‘What will all of that cost me? This can’t be free.’ The witch raised her hand, she bought her thumb and index finger together slightly.
     ‘I want something small, it’s very tiny.
     ‘You want my soul don’t you?’ She chuckled at my question. 
     ‘No, no… You’ll take someone in who will seem so tiny and insignificant. You will take ruination under your wing. But it won’t happen now, far into the future once you are king.
     ‘That’s it? What form will this ruination take?’ 
     ‘I can’t tell you, now… please look over there.’ She stopped her gesture and pointed to her right. And as my eyes followed her the sound of chewing held my ears, the forest broke down into darkness as well and in a few moments my eyes locked onto a grotesque scene. Monsters, large men in bright coloured armour sat around a long table. What was on the table caused my stomach to turn. 
       A large naked man with long white hair was lying on the table, dead. He was cut open and the monsters were tearing his organs out with forks and hands. One who had a face covered with piercings was chewing into what looked like a heart. I took a step back in fear, I looked around for the witch but she was gone. My breathing soon became haggard, my hair started to slowly lengthen, it shifted to white in terms of colouration. 
       I screamed, it was long and hard, I squeezed my eyes shut. Hoping this would end and it did. 
 
 
My eyes shot open, I gasped, globs of spittle and blood lined my mouth. I tried to move my body and found my arms and legs were bound with chains. I was naked as well. A wracking pain also ran across my chest, I then gritted my teeth and scanned the dimly lit room. It was empty save for myself and a single door. A question quickly erupted from my lips. ‘W-Where am I?’
     I quickly got an answer to the question. The door opened revealing someone I didn’t expect to see. It was Victoria, following behind her were her so-called faithful, pitiful mortals wrapped in leather bondage, their groins obscured by snarling daemonic masks with silk draping out of their mouths. Each of them were holding cruel spiked chains, blades and hooks. As Victoria stood before me, one of her followers closed the door. 
     She knelt and smiled. ‘How are you Andreas?’ 
     ‘You disrespect me…’ I hissed. 
     ‘You were already disrespected before Adrain and the leaders of his war. Don’t you remember?’ I furrowed my brow at her question, slowly it came back to me. Basil faked a thrust, which forced me into the position to push the thrust aside. Basil saw this, he quickly changed the thrust into a slash which brought me low. My face twisted into a pure heap of rage and anger. I cursed the blasted apothecary. 
     ‘Fine, I lost, give me my freedom.’ 
     ‘Aren’t you curious what happened after?’ She traced her finger lightly across my chest, there was a huge scar running across it. I saw flashes of the long table, I soon noticed a strange silence within my body. 
     ‘I-I’m I dead?’ there was a hint of fear within my voice, I was terrified. This could be hell for all I know. 
     Victoria bought her finger back, she smiled. ‘No Andreas, after they ate your organs they threw your body down the Nidal’s trash capacitor. You’re little human knew exactly where you were and which trash capacitor you were in. I’m surprised they got to you before you were shot into space.’ 
     ‘They?’ 
     ‘Ah yes, Angus was with him. At the moment we are heading to Lythia, a place which is both a shrine and civilised world. It is a world of buried saints and heroes, we’re the first wave. We’ve been reduced to cannon-fodder. Basil accepted that role gladly.’
     ‘Then he is a fool.’ I spoke those words without reservation.  
     ‘So are you. The kind of fool that throws their weight around without noticing what is happening around them.’ I spat on her face for the insult, my glob of saliva slammed onto her cheek. I expected her face to sizzle and burn. But my spittle slid down from her face and dripped onto the floor. I tensed seeing this and I was shocked. Victoria smiled and licked her cheek with the aid of a long pink tongue.
    ‘W-What a-are you?’ I was stuttering my words, I never had an interest in what goes on here but that told me everything. Her tongue slowly slid back into her mouth, she stood up right and bought her hands behind her back. 
    ‘Angus asked me to correct your behaviour in time for the invasion. He will do all he can to buy time, I hope to get you to the fourth arm by the time we reach Lythia.’ Panic began washing through my body as she detailed her plan. My eyes darted to her followers who were wielding weapons. I’m expecting worse, humans have dark minds and this was the chance of a lifetime, having an astartes in their midst. One they can do anything to. 
     ‘You can’t do this to me! I’m… I’m…’ My voice trailed off. 
     ‘You’re what?’ asked Victoria.  ‘You can’t stop this, you can scream, you can flail but we won't stop until we are satisfied. Then you will move to the next arm.’ Victoria stepped back, allowing one of her followers to come forward, they unfurled the spiked chain which was wrapped around their wrist. This one only had a single breast on the right side of their chest, this... Creature was bald and thin, small black piercings threaded its flesh and a spiked gagged was wrapped around its mouth. I tried to wiggle away, I tried to break the chains, I even spat on them but like Victoria it slowly slid down their body.
     My torturer readied their whip, and as it cracked across my flesh a gurgled scream erupted from my mouth, it was far more painful than any blade, any weapon that has marked my flesh. I was being reduced to a base animal, a slave and a piece of meat used for pleasure and I hated it. 

Edited by Shinros, 26 May 2020 - 03:46 PM.


#20
Shinros

Shinros

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Chapter 14
 
Luther
 
This chamber had an esoteric flair, but it seemed absolutely antediluvian as well. The new astartes I’m living with had a certain taste, even I could see it. Lining the walls of this chamber were statues, gothic in terms of depiction but horrid at the same time. Strange horned creatures were twisting together with humans, their positions were obscene and terrible. Staring at the statues for too long causes my vision to blur, and a small headache would come soon after. So my attention would then drift to shelves, replete with shrunken heads and bleached skulls. There were also jars filled with purple liquid, within said jars were small imp-like creatures which twisted and turned within their confines. 
     But after a while my eyes would go back to the statues, with each glance they become far more interesting to look at and the pain that comes with it would increase. The increments were small, but noticeable. The reason why I was doing this? Because what was happening in this chamber was far worse than the statues or whatever lined the shelves on the owner. 
     Just as I was about to change back to the shelves, a cry of pain reverberated through the room. A strange force or was it my sick curiosity? Pulled my attention to the end of the room and the dark ritual taking place.
     Six humans were chained to the ground, they were on their knees and were placed in a circle. Spiked chains criss-crossed their bodies, the metal links were biting deeply into their flesh. But I also noticed there were claw marks covering the flesh of these unfortunate people. The injuries would just appear and fresh blood would trickle to the floor. Their eyes were covered with spiked leather and their foreheads were branded with a numerical. From one to six, according to the owner of this room the numbers were their names.  
     Sitting in the middle of the circle was Angus, his legs were crossed and he seemed to be deep within some sort of meditation. It was odd looking at such a thing, the men and women bound with chains were screaming. Behind each scream was a voice, it was guttural and low, but then the voice will suddenly change to become light and clear. Sometimes those bound would stop screaming, the two voices would talk. The human begging for release, while the other would tell them they are enjoying this. It was laughing at their struggle, it would tell them to relax and let them work and they would for a time. They would soon start screaming again though.  
     This… scene proved to me that I was corrupted, body and soul. Why? Because I’m doing nothing. I’m not moved to act for my fellow man. Or perhaps everyone was corrupted? Especially the ecclesiarchy? We hear the ills of mankind, the theocratic dominance and brutality of the Imperium was a common topic during confession. Most of the time people are weeping. 
     I reflected on my conversation with Victoria, she was right. Priests sit there and listen, then they offer a platitude to keep someone working. Or we report them to the authorities, said “criminal” would then be reduced to a servitor. A brain dead automaton which can continue labouring for the imperium without complaint. Some priests know that this was wrong, I was one of them and we did nothing. 
     Or, the priest might be too zealous to see that they are exactly the same as the heretics they pass judgement on. These thoughts swirled my mind until a man branded with the number six flailed his head. ‘Luther! Fater! Please help me!’  
     Hearing my name set me on edge, like a fool I walked closer to Six even though his voice was mixed with whatever force was tormenting him. That was when I realised the one before me was a monk from my church. He was a mess, filth covered his body, from his own bodily fluids to the grime of the ship. I knelt and I said nothing I didn’t expect. ‘I’m here.’
     The young man stopped moving, steaks of saliva lined his mouth. ‘R-Really? You’re not a vision t-this time?’ The presence torturing him vanished, was it allowing him to speak? For what reason?
     ‘Yes, it’s me.’ The monk relaxed as much as he could in this situation. How was I having such a profound effect on him? Perhaps because I was a fragment? I wasn’t sure. 
     ‘She… h-he… is giving me respite. It was your presence father… I’m sure…’ His voice began breaking, tears fell, marring the grime covering his face. ‘I-I kept faith, I knew He would not abandon me. Y-You’re here now.’ 
     ‘I could be another vision.’ The monk weakly shook his head in return to my statement.
     ‘I can tell that you’re not her… I-It… looks like the wife I lost, but it’s evil. When it changes into you, i-it doesn’t have your peaceful demeanour or voice. I-I can die happy, I knew she was lying, He wasn’t weak, He didn’t abandon me… I-.’ The monk suddenly spasmed in his chains, he started screaming again. 
     But the scream turned low and eventually he grew calm again, he then locked eyes with me. Even though black leather was wrapped around his eyes. ‘Thank you for giving him hope.’ It wasn’t the monk’s voice anymore, it belonged to his tormentor. It had an androynous quality I couldn’t put to words, but it sounded female, I think. Yet, my blood chilled to also find that the monk was still screaming, his voice was somewhat hidden behind the words of his torturer.
     ‘What are you?’ I asked. 
     ‘I’m his desire. The thing he keeps hidden, the whisper in his ear and the truth he doesn’t want to admit.’ Truth. That word stuck with me, this was what the torches were for. To ward off this… creature. I suspected the veiled lady who helped me drop the curtain from my eyes was also the manifestation of this truth. 
     ‘Why are you tormenting him? I doubt he wanted this.’ 
     ‘But he does… priest. If he didn’t this... filth wouldn’t be covering his body.’ There was a hint of contempt, I latched onto that.
     ‘You hate us? Don’t you?’ The creature fell silent for a moment, it then shook its head using the monk’s body. 
     ‘No, you’re blind children and we are your educators. Sometimes… lessons must be forced. In time, this piece of flesh will scream in rapture. I will indulge him until he wastes away. Then I will repeat the process to his soul, when I’m done. I will eat him, piece by piece.’ I trembled hearing such a thing, this creature was absolutely calm describing such a thing. 
     ‘How can you be the truth?’ I stressed that last one word. ‘No one wants to suffer, no one would want their soul to be devoured.’
     A wry grin lined its face. ‘How is it suffering if you enjoy it? I know him more than you do. Tell me, what is his name?’ I froze at the question, to be honest I didn’t know it. I left the day to day activities to the monks and nuns, I was focused on sermons and confessions. I frowned, I was disappointed in myself. 
     ‘We humans are such selfish beings…’ I looked away as the words left my mouth, it came so naturally. 
     ‘Yet, we love you all the same.’ Truth replied. The monk started screaming loudly again, I rose and that was when Angus was roused from his meditation. He stood up as well, he left the circle. A question sprung to my mind, it was one that linked to our previous conversation. 
     ‘Angus, is this what you meant when you said you sacrificed the souls of others in your stead?’ The witch looked down to me, that was when I noticed the chains on his belt were rattling with the people. The screams from the circle became muffled when I picked up on this, my gaze honed in on a specific chain. I then saw flashes that set my mind ablaze, I saw the monk being tormented by a creature. It’s skin was pink in colouration, a crown of curled black horns lined its head and its face seemed to been sculpted by the gods. Its long vibrant blonde hair also swirled and shifted as well. The monk, the one who laboured for me was pinned down by four arms which ended with dark talons. The scene before me matched the statues. 
     The creature’s figure was both voluptuous and toned to the point of extremity, I stepped back. That single movement caused the head of the creature to twist around by ninety degrees. Somehow its neck didn’t snap, the face which seemed incredibly beautiful transformed into a grotesque monstrosity. All it’s hidden vices and wants poured into my mind, it showed me the torments it would visit upon the man who’s name I didn’t know. All I could do was scream one word. A word I had no knowledge of until now. ‘Daemon!’ I shrieked. 
     The word was a trigger, blood began pouring down my nose. I collapsed, my eyes rolled back. Sweet darkness closed the terrible scene before me. 
 


#21
Shinros

Shinros

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Chapter 15
 
Andreas
 
Time has lost meaning, the vices and desires of the mortals seem endless. There was no joy here, none at all. What was the point of this? That harlot wants me to understand something, I can sense it. I trembled, my mind felt slack and weak. My wounds weren’t healing either for some reason, my blood wasn’t clotting. 
     Maybe because I was hollow? The traitors took everything away from me, my power, my position, my organs. They desecrated all that I am. Ironically the only thing that gave me peace during the interim was that hollowness, the inner silence was painful but that told me I was alive. 
    But that sense of peace didn’t last long, the door opened revealing six of Victoria’s followers. I now realised that I haven’t seen them walking the hallways of the ship. I’ve never seen their like in the Club either, though the Silver Ravagers do profess members of the “workshop” go there. Perhaps they were the failures? Because none of them look like this.
     The bondage wrapped around their bodies would drive lesser mortals mad, leather obscured their eyes and they were gagged by either a spiked leather strip or a spiked ball. How do they function? How do they know where they are going? The fact their flesh was also kissed by mutation showed me they were doing something right. A common thread among them was the single breast.
      The first of the cultists came forward, they unfurled their spiked chain. I narrowed my eyes. ‘Why?’ my throat burned, it was difficult to speak.
      ‘Why not?’ A smooth voice passed through me, but my wounds burned as the cultist spoke. Only muffled syllables came from his mouth but I heard him. I could hear him. The words spoken stung, an unseen wound rifted through my body. How many people have I said that to? The cultist slammed his chain onto my body and pulled, tearing the flesh from my chest. A gurgled shout erupted from my mouth. ‘You cannot appreciate being on the other end. Why does this wound you? You’re blessed with a physiology we can only dream of.’ 
      My wounds continued to burn, but I also felt jealousy or was it anger? Maybe it was a mix of both? He lashed me again. ‘You are meant to drift into bliss, but your body refuses.’ 
      This was degrading, there was no pleasure in this. None at all. I chuckled which caused the cultist to freeze. ‘It’s far more fun to find joy at another’s expense. What use is there in being a piece of meat for someone else?’ I noticed my throat wasn’t hurting, confusion graced me and I didn’t want to let it show to my captors. The cultist trembled with rage, my wounds flared with it. He was about to strike me until the door opened again. He froze, all of the cultists did. 
      It was Victoria, she entered the room with a push trolley. She spared a glance to the cultists who all bowed and left the chamber. They closed the door behind them, I was now alone with the blasted harlot. ‘What’s the point of this?’ I asked.  
      ‘Good.’ she responded. ‘You can speak clearly now.’
      ‘So?’ 
      ‘It means your body is adjusting, but we don’t have the luxury of time.’ She reached for a pouch sitting on the tray. That was when I shifted my head up slightly I could see it was lined with weapons of all kinds. I could speak, but I didn’t have the strength to stand. If I was able I would tear her head from her shoulders. 
      I watched the mortal open the pouch, she grabbed a handful of purple dust and sprinkled it over my body. As the dust made contact with my wounds the dust dissolved, I expected to feel something, it was obviously a drug of some sort. I personally had a distaste for narcotics, it can make you vulnerable and weak. Julian was a clear example of that. ‘Tell me harlot, what are you doing to me?’ 
      Victoria threw the pouch aside as I asked the question. She reached for the tray and picked up a spiked mace, she waved it around for a moment before bringing the weapon down upon my leg. A wet crunch erupted in the chamber, pain flooded my system. But something was different, the silence, the hollowness I felt before was being filled up. The sensation was strange, compelling and it felt good
     I bit my lip right away, I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction. She didn’t want my screams of pain, it was clearly obvious now. The harlot lifted the bloody mace, she became smug, I can tell by her coy grin. ‘So you felt something.’ she said softly. 
     ‘I felt nothing.’ the reply caused her to strike my leg again, the same spot. A yelp jumped from my mouth. She said nothing further, she raised the mace and returned it to the tray, next she picked up a serrated sword. I cringed seeing this, her eyes were alight with expectation she twirled the weapon before stabbing me in the gut and twisting. 
      Blood spewed from my mouth, I groaned, I couldn’t help it. My defences were falling, my mind was whirling at the sensations. I then recalled what I did to Seiriol, did he truly feel this way? Do all of my kin do? I didn’t want to become like them, I didn’t want to be a base creature. The harlot twisted the blade further, I gnashed my teeth at the action, my fingers bent. I was slipping, I was afraid, it wasn’t the same kind of fear which comes from possible injury in battle. This feeling was like acid, it felt wrong.  
     I was afraid of what was coming next, what I will feel next. I was both enthralled and disturbed. My mind and body quickly said more, I needed more. 

Edited by Shinros, 26 May 2020 - 03:45 PM.





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