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-’
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.