This was written a few years ago as fluff for a doubles tournament I and a few friends attended. I had a band of Khornate marines allied precariously with a force of Dark Angels, and we needed to somehow explain them ending up together. Unfortunately the story that was planned out was better suited to a full-blown book, so we had to make due with this introduction written like a prologue. The fragment with the Dark Angels librarian was written by Shiv, my partner at that tournament. One day though I would like to write the full story, but I’d like to get more practice before then, I don’t want to ruin the plot with bad writing.
– A thousand lies –
A small breeze made the candlelight flutter as heavy steps broke the silence of the dark corridor. In moments, a huge, dark shape came passing through, blocking in turn each of the alcoves that contained the sacred candles. It moved towards a pair of massive gates, and upon reaching them it stopped. It bowed down before the gate and waited. Though there were no windows, no cameras, no apparent sensors, the being seemed to know it was being watched. After a few long moments of utter stillness, the gates silently opened.
Leering gargoyles guarded every side of the hall. Their eyes and mouths shone with unnatural, multicoloured energies that pulsed continuously in an unfathomable sequence. In the middle of the hall, as multicoloured lights played across its surfaces, the dark shape was now revealed for what it was. A space marine of chaos. A towering being that radiated power and malevolence. Every segment of its dark blue suit was adorned with fine, golden decorations. Some were made to resemble daemons and seemed to pulse with a life of their own; others were symbols that shone with dark light as if the mere act of their inscribing threatened to break reality apart. Coils of dark energy swirled around the marine’s feet like they were trying to grab at anything close by, while the horned helmet was bathed in the light of dozens of tiny energy arcs.
“Is it done, Garaph?” – a deep voice sounded from all around the hall.
“Yes, my lord. The slave marines have been sent to Corpa Secundus. They have been given all the equipment they required, and we attached the ‘failsafe’ to their crew. Their ship has entered the Warp mere moments ago.” The voice of the marine seemed a mere whisper compared to that of its master.
“Good. Summon the Cabal. It is time for the next phase to begin.” said the same powerful voice.
“At once, my lord.” said the marine and retreated from the hall.
The ceremony was going well. The best thralls available had been purposely selected for it. There would be no failure in this. Failure would mean a fate more terrible than any death a mortal might imagine. The concentric circles of worshiping thralls were moving in unison, like clockwork. The ceremonial incantations were like music in the sorcerer’s ears, flowing gently like gusts of air in front of him, around him… through him. He could see the Warp as it broke through reality and the daemons clawing at the fine barrier, lusting for the rich souls found in the chamber. For now though, they would be denied. The spell was too important. No thrall would be sacrificed until the right moment.
The sorcerer looked at his master in the middle. Warp energies crackled visibly around him, bathing his ornate suit of armour in eerie, multicoloured light. His outstretched hands seemed to gather more and more power, glowing brighter with every passing moment. The intensity was almost unbearable. Behind his mask, he knew his lord was smiling. The moment was drawing near, the spell almost complete. A feat of sorcery so rarely achieved during these times due to so many cabals’ fracturing…
Suddenly, the thralls’ perfectly coordinated movements broke into chaotic swirls. They passed through each other in dizzying dances, their rhythm erratic and confusing. Some of them dropped on the cold, stone floor, convulsing, with their eyes, ears, noses and mouths leaking dribbles of blood. They clawed at the slabs, trying to scream but somehow muted. The daemons were receiving their payment.
Then the hall went dark. All the lights had extinguished. The thralls fell silently to the floor, most of them dead, the rest dying. The only light came from the sorcerer lord in the middle, and it was slowly fading. The grave silence was broken by the deep voice of the sorcerer lord: “It is done, Garaph. Our prize awaits.”
The aperture of the young librarian’s bionic eye opened abruptly as he gasped awake in his spartan quarters. His head was still swirling and it took him a few moments to regain his bearings and contain the warp-energies he could feel dancing across his skin. Once he had his composure, he started writing feverishly into the book by his bedside, his skull-probe familiar providing the only illumination. He’d had a vision, and was writing it down lest he forget a crucial detail. His mind’s journey took him to the grim world of Corpa Secundus, where he’d been many years before whilst still a member of the scout company. There he saw him. The dark figure strode like a shadow across the war-torn landscape, his presence seemed to chill the air and his servants cowed before him, as his gaze spewed forth malice. There was something eerily familiar about him, but Gamaliel could not tell what. Then, as the figure paused against the remains of a Ministorum chapel wall, a sudden gust of wind blew. As it hit his tattered cape, it flew up, to form a pair of ominous, tattered wings…
Interrogator-Chaplain Asmodai looked up from the young codicier’s notes, which were carefully calligraphed though they’d been hastily written.
“You were right to show me this, brother Gamaliel.”
“Do you believe it is significant, brother-chaplain?” asked the codicier apprehensively.
“There is no doubt about it, brother. The Emperor Himself has sent you a vision, revealing the location of one of the wretched Fallen.” The chaplain paused for a moment, then turned to Gamaliel. “It is only fitting that you have the honour of tracking him down. You will be given the forces of third company, as well as a full Ravenwing squadron. You shall set off for Corpa Secundus immediately.”
Gamaliel hesitated for a moment, surprised by the chaplain’s orders.
“Make haste brother, why are you still here? Idleness is the path to heresy.”
On Corpa Secundus, the slave marines began their mission. They trudged across the ruined capital, fighting their way through remnants of PDF forces, Tau hunting teams, broods of tyranids and mobs of orks, until they stopped in front of a ruined Ministorum chapel. The statues of the Imperium’s saints were toppled and ruined. Stained glass windows were blown out by the concussion of bombardment and the bodies of slaughtered worshipers littered every corner.
“Pah. It seems this place of false worship has already been rightfully dealt with. What are we doing scurrying through the ruins? We should be spilling the blood of our enemies.” said Rogrand. He was using his bolter to scour the wreckage and rubble, looking for something out of the ordinary.
“Damn you, you fool. Don’t you understand? I will not be a slave any more. And unless you want to spend the rest of eternity killing for a blasted sorcerer you will do as I say!” Azamond answered angrily. Days spent searching through ruins made his entire war band edgy, even for those that loosely worshiped the Blood God.
“Curse you, Azamond. I hate that glowing mark on my forehead more than anything and you know it. But to dig through rubble like dogs, this is demeaning. What are we looking for, anyway?”
“The key to our freedom. Something that bastard wants so much he is willing to be rid of us for it. You’ll know when you’ll see it.”
“Damned sorcerers and their trinkets. They’re weaklings, spending more time reading than they do fighting. I look forward to an opportunity to spill their blood.”
“The time will come, Rogrand. The time will come…”