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 The Dulled Blade

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Siticus the Ancient
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PostSubject: The Dulled Blade   Mon Mar 19 2012, 23:38

Made some editing to hopefully make it more readable. Copypasting from a text editor and posting straight away is not the best idea.

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The streets of the Dark City Commorragh were always teeming with life. The penniless, the sickly, the poor, all poured towards the district's largest arena, housing its daily spectacle of bloodshed and suffering, the lifeblood of the weak inhabitants that were struggling for existance within the murky lower levels of the ruthless city. The massive, ancient colloseum stood there ever since anyone from the gutter could recall. Whoever being the ruler, whoever waging another bloody war, whereever the dark kin fed their slowly fading souls, the colloseum always had overlooked them all. The cracks in the black, monolithic stone stretched almost to the very top of the dome, signifying its age. Like its inhabitants, the stone giant's time was slowly fading away, despite whatever repair the slaves of the lesser races could muster.

Arena's gates rolled open. The stage was set. Ten tall, slender and beautiful eldar females clad in their custom armored wychsuits elegantly darted into the spotlights, accompanied by the crowd's thunderous roar. The crowd cared little for the ritual that the wyches performed before their bloodshed, the audience only desired blood - the bread, wine and entertainent of the Dark City. The wyches circled around eachother, clashing their daggers, then flipping over eachother in rapid succession, forming a ritual dance, an offering to the dark muse Qa'leh, the Mistress of Blades.

After the wyches had completed their ritual dance, formed a circle and bowed their heads towards the spectators, the gates rolled open once more, this time accompanied with even louder roaring from the crowd, for the feasting time finally drew close to everyone involved. Their first course had arrived - a crowd of about a hundred large avian creatures poured out, dressed in simple tribal garbs and holding staves with a short, sickled blade at each end. The kroot screeched and sniffed, blinking their eyes and turning their heads around, disoriented by the spotlights beaming directly at them. They then spotted their armed foes and leapt at the slender women, their staves readied for a strike. However, each of the blows was dodged, blocked or parried by the howling wyches. It was not a fight on equal footing - while the kroot were outnumbering the wych fighters, each kroot much taller and stronger than them, the wyches were much more faster. Driven both by their natural guile and potent combat drugs, flowing through their bodies, the wyches darted, slided and leapt all over their foes. The kroot had surrounded them at the start, but the wyches soon enough gained the upper hand through sheer agility, now circling around the rapidly decreasing number of kroot.

The crowd cheered and roared with each drip of blood absorbed by the arena's sand. Drip after drip, a result of daring flips, dodging dashes, swift kicks and audacious slashes in rappid succession one after another - it was a sight to behold and nigh impossible to keep a full track of. But that was not needed. From all this display, even the frailest, blindest, poorest lowlife in the audience could feel life returning in his weak, sickly limbs. The suffering of the kroot warriors empowered them. It was as if the time had been reversed, the wounded slowly healing, the old reattaining their flexible, smooth skin and feeling their youth flowing through their cold bones. The entire stadium feasted from the spectacular dance of death that the wyches performed.

The wyches slowly ended the suffering of their slower, gravely wounded dance partners. One after another, in a synchrone, practiced manner, the wyches executed their opponents with a flip, followed by a swift slash right across the stringy neck of the kroot. As the last of the large avians fell down into the sand with a resonating thud, the wyches once again formed a circle and knelt before their audience, showered by its wildened roaring. Wyches remained down on their knee, one after another turning their heads towards the main gate. The black haired leader of the wych squad, Talari, instead turned her blackened eyes up toward the crowd while dusting off her tight black wychsuit, in places coated with the blood of the slain kroot, alabaster white skin shining through the cuts in the fabric. Talari knew what was about to happen soon enough. She already noticed stir within the crowd as some of her wych sisters slowly moved through the cheering vagrants that were too busy staring at the remains of the carnage to notice what was going on around them.

"Now the speech of Lytrana... and then it's showtime," she quietly muttered, then turned her eyes towards the gate as well.

The gate opened, and a slender, tall and beautiful wych slowly walked out, her smooth, pale, scarless skin, showing through the cuts in her wychsuit, indicated her greater rank of Succubus, leader of the wych cult. The forced smirk on her thin lips masked her true thoughts. Her bright yellow eyes, though slightly blackened at the very corners, ran across the crowd, searching for something or someone. The very tip of her rolled-up, green whip swung back and forth on each and every of her elegant, flowing steps. Succubus Lytrana stopped in the very middle of the arena, then looked upwards and began adressing the crowd.

"It is pleasing as always to see you all here," she said, the very corner of her mouth twitching slightly. In truth, Lytrana despised them all. The hatred for the weak and frail that fed upon the performance of her wyches was natural, as they were simply unworthy the feast. But even more than them she hated the loud, trouble-loving members of the Jagged Blade kabal, the current de facto rulers of the district. She slightly shook her head, then continued her speech.

"As each day before this one, praised be the Supreme Overlord Vect, for his wisdom and guidance leads the Dark City further to glory. Likewise, honoured and welcome be all of his servants in my humble arena," she said, taking an overly dramatic bow, wincing at her words in the brief moment within which the shadow hid her face. She straightened back up, then continued:

"I see that we are most honoured by the presence of Archon Rojar of the Jagged Blade himself this night. I hope that you will be most pleased with what we have in store, my Lord," she said, followed by another theatrical bow. The bitter despising in her voice was difficult to mask no matter how hard Lytrana tried to control her body to not give out a single betraying gesture.

"She is growing impatient," Talari thought to herself, trying to find the wyches in the middle of the crowd with her eyes. Still there, they kept advancing towards the archon's position.

The addressed figure in the crowd stood up, almost immediately illuminated by a spotlight. The mentioned Archon Rojar stood up. He was far shorter than most, clad in close fitting red ghostplate armor that lavishly showed sections of flayed skin incorporated in it. To most, it was a rather clear attempt to compensate for his short figure's lack of intimidation. Rojar flashed his shifty, cruel smile to everyone nearby, revealing his exquisitely sharpened, engraved canines. He theatratically grabbed the corner of his large, sanguine red cape and held it in his left hand, while placing his right hand on his large, ornamented belt. He then turned his gaze downward to address the succubus below him.

"Thank you for the kind words, dear Lytrana. Indeed, I always feel very welcome here. Your beautiful little theathre is pretty much my second home, as your wyches can surely attest- he said, pausing for the forced laughter of his bodyguards, smirked in self-satisfaction, then continued. "Of course, it only makes sense and is proper. This district, along with everything in it IS mine," Rojar said, grinning.

"Yes, of course Archon Rojar. Your... greatness is felt even well beyond the borders of the district," Lytrana said, a hint of sarcasm in her voice, "though some have began to question your ability to get things done. Your potency and willingness to act, that is." She smirked, her eyes briefly following the motion within the crowd not too far from the archon's seat. She resumed her speech.

"Tell me, where were you when archon Urim strolled into the district, causing trouble as he pleased? Where were you when archon Saril nearly burned half of the entire place in search for some of his prized slaves? Weren't you too preoccupied with examining the safest corner of your quarters back then, keeping yourself preoccupied with the protective company of my own wyches, hmm?" Lytrana said, this time letting out a short chuckle, as she watched Arajus fidget uncomfortably and his face slowly turning red. She had waited a long time for this, a chance to finally expose and humiliate the little shifty rat that Rojar truly was.

"Even then, I heard nothing but words of disappointment from them,"she continued. "You seem to be losing your edge, turning into nothing more but a paranoid rat, incapable of acts even as simple as pleasing a woman. What good are you to protect the district? You aren't really able to keep anyone but your closest in check, are you?" Lytrana continued, enjoying Arajus' expression who now resembled a tiny crimson teapot that was about to blow off its lid.

"You worthless wench, how dare you! You've always thread upon a thin ice, your missteps against Broken Wow kabal are none of my concern, nor they should be! I shouldn't care about some escaped slaves either!" Rojar shouted, his engraved canines gnashing together with each furious word. "Your unfounded insults hold no ground! I have grown increasingly tired of your unwillingness to cooperate, of trying to purposefully undermine me! Who do you think you are to speak such filth unto me, Archon of the Jagged Blade, the right hand of Supreme Overlord Vect's left hand's right finger himself! I will not let this insult go unpunished! You will suffer greatly as soon as Vect catches but a word of this!" Rojar continued yelling, now accenting each sentence with a wild flailing of his hands

"Yes, the right hand of the left and so forth... I doubt Vect will miss someone as miserable as you, unable to take care of your own problems. Your time has come to an end," Lytrana said, waving her hand for a sign. Insantly, six wyches from within the crowd leapt at the surprised, but infuriated Archon and his kabalite bodyguards, while many more of Lytrana's wyches rushed forward through the now fleeing crowd that knew better than to stick around in the one of daily power struggles.

"BETRAYAL! BLASHPEMY! HOW DARES SHE? WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS? KILL THE LOWLIFE SCUM! SLAY ALL OF HER WHORES! I WANT THEM ALL DEAD!" Rojar now shrieked furiously, drawing his blast pistol at the closest of the wyches and disintegrating her on the spot, while his bodyguards were locked in a struggle against the other five attackers. Rojar ignored his fighting guards, instead running to the edge of his balcony and launching several blast shots towards the center of the arena, in futile attempts to hit Lytrana from such distance.

"Your aim has always been poor, you old fool!" Lytrana laughed, easily dodging the shoddily aimed beams of darklight. "The only way you got where you are was because you helped Vect rise to power through spying, backstabbery and betrayal. You never achieved anything through any actuall skill! You lowly bootlick, I have longed for this day ever since that miserable slave took over. Come down here so that your death can have some shred of dignity!" Lytrana shouted, cracking her agoniser against the sand. She knew Rojar would never agree to an honorable duel - he was known for his schemes, not skillful fighting. Her mask was cast off, however. She decided that she might as well make as much fun of her despised overlord as she possibly could before his last breath.

"DO YOU TAKE ME FOR A FOOL, WOMAN?" Rojar shrieked, "I'll just kill you like the filthy rat you are!" he said, reaching for his communicator switch. "Sarus! SARUS! LISTEN TO ME, YOU GOOD-FOR-NOTHING MON'KEIGH PIECE OF CRAP! ORDER THE RAIDER FLEET TO STRIKE THE COLOSSEUM! I want everyone that isn't ME in here dead! DEAD! ALL OF THEM!"

What of the crowd still had remained in hopes of watching the power struggle unfold, now hastily rushed off to the exits as well. Death by disintegration wasn't worth to watch the fight between the two forces.

Meanwhile, several Venom transports bearing the allegiance to Lytrana's wych cult flew over the massive balconies and landed in the arena's sand. Lytrana, Talari and the nine wyches all hopped onboard the transports, which then darted upward, heading straight for Rojar's position. His numerous bodyguards had just killed off the first wave of attackers and turned towards the Venoms, releasing a hail of splinter fire at the crafts. Lytrana didn't wait for her Venom to find a safe landing somewhere near Rojar's balcony. Instead, she leapt straight at her hated foe, lashing her agoniser whip across Rojar's bodyguards. One by one they fell, trails of smoke slowly ascending from the burning wounds where the kabalite armor had melted together with flesh. Rojar was four bodyguards short, and Talari with the rest of Lytrana's wyches joined in the frey to finish off the rest.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING, YOU IDIOTS! KILL THE HEAD WENCH! STOP THEM!" Rojar shrieked, stepping back as his large retinue of bodyguards shrunk before his very eyes. "Come in! COME IN! WHERE IS THE DAMNED FLEET? GET HERE OR I WILL FLAY YOU ALIVE!" he shrieked into his communicator, his fingers gripping his blast pistol tighter. He fired few more shots, hitting two more wyches, then began running, knowing his poor aim wasn't going to help him for long.
Lytrana laughed maniacally, swishing and slashing through Rojar's bodyguards.

"Don't run too far off, you miserable scumbag! I'll catch you anyway!" she yelled, leaving the remaining five guards to her wyches, and turned to Talari, "Talari, cut off his escape, NOW!" she yelled, as Talari nodded and darted into a pathway leading deeper into the arena, while Lytrana herself continued her pursuit through the seats and balconies.

While Rojar was no fighter, he had great agility to compensate as well as a strong will to live. He only needed to draw the fight out long enough for his fleet to arrive, he thought. Nothing that couldn't be done. Nothing that hadn't been done before. He looked back at his cackling pursuer, who was flailing her agoniser wildly, then began running even faster. The thought of the foolishness of dropping hypex crossed his mind, right as he tripped over a large crack in the floortiles and fell down on his stomach. He quickly rolled over, only to see Lytrana's agoniser whip at his feet.

"Wait! Hold on! We can work this out!" Rojar begged in despair. Dying was the last thing in his plans, so perhaps an appeal to the succubus' pride might work, delay her long enough for the fleet to arrive.

"Work this out?" Lytrana mockingly asked, then let out a loud guffaw. "No. No, we can't simply "work this out". You're done. You're not even able to stand your own ground. Look at you! You've grown a coward, more preoccupied with your own facade, your own pride than that of your ruling. You are not fit to rule. You never were. You, along with Vect and his scumbag friends, you all toppled those that were capable!" Lytrana yelled, slashing the ground with her whip, forcing Rojar to crawl backwards.

"This is why it is our time again," Talari said bitterly, standing right above Rojar and holding his own blast pistol in her hand, aimed at the archon's head. "Slowly and steadily, the nobles will return. Just like Vect crawled out of his gutter and mustered forces against them, so will the great houses rebuild what they once were. WE will rebuild," Talari said coldly staring at the cowering archon. Doubt started to niggle in the back of her mind. This was going far too easily for a coup.

"Which is why you'll have to go first, Rojar. One by one, all of you will be go-" Lytrana began, but then was silenced mid-sentence by a hail of blaster fire raining across her, disintegrating her into nothingness in mere seconds. Rojar tumbled aside and let out a victorious laughter, while Talari rolled for cover in the tunnel she just had emerged from to ambush Rojar. She pressed against the solid rock to hide from the continuous splinter and blaster fire that was coming from the quickly approaching raiders and venoms, all bearing the mark of the Jagged Blade.

As soon as Rojar was onboard on one of his venoms, he shrieked to his men with blazing eyes, "Tear the entire place off the ground! Kill them all! Make them pay for daring to stand against me!"
By his command, his fleet opened fire upon the collosseum, the countless dark lances tearing the black stone and marble into pieces, reducing the whole building into a collapsing pile of rubble.

Talari rushed down the internal labyrinth of the now slowly collapsing ancient colosseum. Her Succubus leader had failed. She had grown overconfident in her coming victory, and the entire wych cult had to pay the price. Talari dashed through the cracking and groaning stone corridors, juping over the fallen rubble and dodging falling columns. As she ran through the entrance hall, the floor began to crack. Before she could react and stop, it collapsed inwards, dragging her into the dark abyss beneath it. The massive colloseum was crashing down upon itself, unable to sustain the barrages of concentrated darklight shots.

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Talari slowly opened her eyes. She had fallen into a dark cavern somewhere deep beneath the colosseum. The failed coup, the chase... all that seemed so distant. She tried to sit up, then winced in sharp pain - no matter how she tried to move her limbs, only her right arm gave any sort of response. Her legs were broken and wounded with shards of stone sticking out from the open wounds. Her left arm had been crushed and torn off under the weight of the fallen rocks. She grit her teeth, slowly dragging herself to a larger slab of stone, then tumbled over and pressed her back against it.

"No longer bleeding..." she quietly said, turning her eyes towards the remains of her arm. The anguish of the kroot had not yet vaned and was still rejuvenating her body just enough to remain conscious.

"I'll starve instead. Terrific..." she murmured, gritting her teeth. "Rojar... he owes me... That bastard owes me. Think. Survive Talari, Survive... don't pass out, don't even think about it," she kept quietly talking to herself. "You need to stay alive, you need to strangle that midget with your own hands... well, hand," she continued to murmur, dragging herself across the rocky cavern floor, trying to find some way out of it, or some way up. "Stay alive, survive, don't die... don't die... you have a rat to stab... damn it, I don't want to die. I can't die... no... not like this. Not like this... not... alone and from blood loss... not like this," she kept muttering until powerlessly collapsing and losing consciousness.

Fire. Ashes. Wildfire, spreading across a meadow, burning everything in its path.
The darkness faded. The fire spread, roaring with growing strength. Screaming.
Dark, tall spires. Tangled pathways. Dark alleys. Even louder screaming.

Talari opened her eyes. She found herself to be laying on a table. The nightmare she just saw made little sense, but the loud screams that awakened her weren't a part of it. She tried to move her head and slowly looked around for the source of the continuous yelps and cries. She saw tubes that were filled with dark liquids, pods with murky, beastlike shillouethes within, arcane machinery of unknown origin or purpose covered the walls and ceiling.. She looked to her left and saw a figure infront of a large, long table, stretching along the entirety of the room that Talari could see. The figure was occupied with something that seemed like some sort of machinery. Perhaps the figure was instead butchering a small animal. Maybe that was the source of the horrid screams. Talari could not tell. Her eyes blurred, her eyelids fell heavily and she fell asleep again.

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Last edited by Siticus the Ancient on Thu May 17 2012, 16:58; edited 3 times in total
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CaptainBalroga
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PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Wed Apr 11 2012, 22:29

I like it! I will say it is a little hard to follow along with out the exterior dialogue and interior monologue formatted in a traditional way; was this copy+pasted from a word processor?

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PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Thu Apr 12 2012, 00:19

Wow, this is nice!!!
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Siticus the Ancient
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PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Thu Apr 12 2012, 05:39

@CaptainBalroga wrote:
I like it! I will say it is a little hard to follow along with out the exterior dialogue and interior monologue formatted in a traditional way; was this copy+pasted from a word processor?

Yes it was, Q10 editor, saved as .txt. In hindsight, probably not the best idea, as the paragraphs seemed to fall together all too much, while in the editor they seemed just right.

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PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Sun Apr 22 2012, 13:20

Here's the next chapter. Constructive criticism welcome, I'm always trying to improve.

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Talari opened her eyes and looked around. As far as her eyes could see, it was the same dark room that she remembered from before. She heard a loud scream and instinctively turned her eyes towards the way it came from. She realized that she was unable to move her head, nor any limb for that matter. A surge of panic coursed through her, as she tried to get a better sense of where she was, her eyes darting around the room in search for clues. She was still clasped to a table, the figure in the dim light still preoccupied with whatever it was doing next to another table

It had to be a dream, Talari thought. A horrible nightmare from which she would soon wake up. This state of helplessness was something Talari could not stand. Give her any creature, from small to grandiose, whatever the species – it would still fill her with less dread than being confined in her own body. At least she had some chance against a beast, she could defend herself, dull her mind in the thrill. Talari was never one to show fear in combat, her skill would always get her out of the danger, somehow. There was no escape from being unable to control her own body.

Almost as if it had heard her thoughts and tasted the panic within them, the figure turned around and slowly floated towards the table on which Talari lay. The lights above the table slowly revealed the figure to be wearing a grey mask for a face with a birdlike beak under its dimly glowing blue eyes. The grey figure was wrapped in a hooded, flowing blue robe and was intently observing Talari.

“Good, conscious again,” the masked figure spoke in a metallic voice with hint of interest, “I was just finishing the preparations. Oh, yes... you can't really speak, can you? Let's do something about that,” he said, reaching his hand toward a nearby console and motioning over several switch sigils that lit up in answer.

“What have you done to me?” Talari yelled the very instant she could move her jaw. She turned her head and found herself to be tightly locked to the table by thick metal clasps holding her maimed limbs and neck. “Let me go, you bastard!” she said, futilely trying to break open the clasps with what force remained in her limbs.

“Questions and demands right from the beginning,” the figure said simply. “You don't waste any time with idle musings. Very well. What have I done to you? I saved your life.”

“Saved my life?” Talari yelled, “I don't need your help, get these damn chains off me!”

The figure let out a short laugh, then slid back to the console, his fingers sliding an inch over the glowing sigils, lighting each up brighter. Talari heard hissing noises around her, turning her head around to see the source. One after another, heavy machinery came to life in every dark corner of the seemingly endless room, extending their metallic arms towards the centre and into the light. Each arm was equipped with arcane apparature Talari could not recognize, but the overwhelming sense of dread that the massive metallic limbs gave out indicated that they were more than dangerous. Muffled screams echoed somewhere through the halls nearby. At that moment, Talari realized her fate.

“Haemonculus... I've become a plaything to a haemonculus...” she muttered, dread suffocating at her throat. She had never dealt with anyone of the secretive brotherhood, only heard stories of them, horror stories all as one. None of the fates of those involved in their dark deeds were ever pleasant. Where the wych cults would eventually grant their captive prey death, the haemonculi deeds were never as certain. In panic, Talari continuously tried to squirm out of the tight metal clasps with no avail. All she succeeded at was grinding the cold metal deeper into her flesh.

The hooded figure let out a theatrical sigh, with a single motion of hand halting the advancing machinery, then floated closer to Talari. “Oh, rest assured, I am not that crude as you might think,” the figure said simply. “Had I wanted to hack you into tiny pieces for amusement, I'd have done so without gracing you with the sound of my voice. Like I said, I saved you. But it is up to you whether it stays that way,” the haemonculus said. While the mask gave away no emotion whatsoever, Talari knew he was greatly enjoying the show.

Talari blinked, her eyes running across the room, desperately trying to find some way out. She hated being helpless, it was as good as being dead for all she cared. What she wouldn't give just now to be able to jump off the table and tear that smug mask off the haemonculus' face. She now just stared at the figure in impotent fury.

“Was my language unclear? I do apologize, the device sometimes acts up...” the figure said, nibbling at the switches underneath the mask. “Yes, as I said... I am repeating myself, aren't I? Oh, how easy it is to lose yourself when you're at your life's work, wouldn't you agree?” the figure exclaimed, leaning closer to Talari's face. She could hear the rythmic hissing of a breathing apparatus. Unnerved by the sound, she turned her head away and forced her eyes shut. The fiend was feeding on her despair, she knew that very well, but there was nothing she could do about it.

“Who... what are you?” she spat out, finding her voice to sound far meeker and frightened instead of the defiant yell she intended to give.

“I thought you'd never ask, utterly frightened for your life and all,” the figure said in a somewhat jovial manner, seemingly excited to finally present himself. “Some would say I am their worst nightmare. Others would say they've seen worse. Ignorance, you see... there is always a more severe degree of “worse”... There are those that would curse me as a daemon, unfairly, I might add. I am not fond of lies. Others that would revere me as a god, granting their every wish in return for unwavering fealty... I'm flattered by both extremes, of course, but I am but a simple man of science, no, a bit more than that! An artist in a dark universe that is too preoccupied with the very basic, primitive instinct of survival to truly appreciate the things I've done, the masterpieces I've created!”

The figure paused for dramatic effect, his fingers theatrically rubbing the chin of the mask. “Oh, but you wouldn't really care about that for now. You need a name, I know, something to curse for doing this to you! They all think this way, don't worry. You're not really unique,” the figure said, stretching his arms outwards and floating a few feet above the ground. Seemingly satisfied with the new position, he continued.

“I've been called many names... I've presented myself in many ways. Truth be told, I can't really recall my old, mortal name, a shameful trait of being ancient and disconnected of material needs. You can address me Siticus, if you so desire,” he said, slowly nodding, then floating back down, his head slightly cocked sideways, the dimly glowing orbs tied to Talari in search of some reaction.

She looked to the side, sighing. “I see... I'm in the hands of a madman.”

“Oh, do relax. You'll see I'm quite pleasant indeed,” Siticus said, turning to his console. “After all, I'll give you what you want. Revenge on that mean old archon Rojar that ruined all your little hopes and dreams of overthrowing our gracious Tyrant.”

Talari sharply turned her head towards Siticus. “Rojar? How did you know...? I'm not planning anything against the Tyrant! No, nevermind that, why would give me revenge on that scumbag? How would you do it? Why would you do it? There's a catch, isn't there? There must be one! Well? Answer me!” she yelled. How did he know?

“And just like that, you're hooked,” Siticus said simply. “I'll be brief, as I am in the position of power here. Yes, I will grant you revenge your little, frightened soul burns so brightly with. How? I will fix your broken body. Why? Curiosity, new challenges in a few fields I've not yet explored. A chance to practice my art to its fullest. A catch? As with everything in our lives, my dear... no more, no less.” He floated closer to Talari.

“You will fix my body... you mean regrow my bones? I've heard your kind do that, but... at a cost,” Talari said. The cost was high, but the offer just as tempting. Strangely, Talari found that her fear had almost evaporated. With suspicion, she added, “How do I know you won't just trick me into doing whatever you want from me?”

“I can already force you to do whatever I want,” Siticus said slowly, letting the words linger in the air for a moment, adding, “...but I'm not interested in that. I have enough mindless servants, I don't need another one.”

“Then what do you want from me?” Talari yelled.

“A true and honest promise that you'll help me when I will need it,” Siticus said simply.

“A... true and honest promise? What kind of a joke is that?” Talari laughed, and was caught by surprise when Siticus joined her, filling the room with his mechanical, screeching laughter. The very thought of anyone of the Dark Kin coming to someone's aid because of a promise, not necessity, was something Talari couldn't really grasp.

“Yes, sounds amusing, doesn't it,” Siticus finally said. “All the more reason for me to do it. As an experiment. I am so very curious as to how it would work out for our kin... All you will need to do is come to my aid when I require it. It's just that simple.”

Talari looked at him in disbelief. A promise, really? That was all the haemonculus was looking for? There had to be more to this, surely. She then guessed, “So you want me to be your bodyguard? Protect your life? Someone's got a price on your head and you need protection, or... something of the sort?”

Siticus let out a long, metallic laugh again. “Oh, no, not really. Death was the first thing I dealt with when I was but a young acolyte in the arts of the flesh... no, I'm not really concerned about that. All I need is simple help in research. A desired subject, creature perhaps... sometimes an item... whatever I might find my focus of interests, really. But all that could be accomplished by simple mercenary work, out of greed or fear. I'm looking for something more... exquisite and less common than that, which is why I am interested in you giving me a simple promise of help,” he explained.

Talari turned her head to try and see her maimed body in full. “A promise... And you'll give it all back to me... and more?”

“Yes,” Siticus said simply.

Talari slowly nodded. “I want my revenge. I want to kill that bastard with my bare hands. I want him to pay for what he did,” she said bitterly. “Yes, I'll... I promise I will help you when you need it.”

Siticus looked at her for a while, making Talari ponder as to what was going through his mind just now. Was this what he wanted? Did her attempt at a promise really work?

“So be it,” Siticus said, dispelling the silence. “I accept your promise. You will have what you wish. Vengeance is one of the sweetest wines one can taste, after all, and soon you'll be drinking in it,” Siticus said, then waved his arms, reactivating the machinery around him. The massive metal limbs roared, the countless arcane apparatus coming to life, expanding into massive toolsets all around the table, while some leaned closer to Talari. “But before you can truly subject others to pain... you must first endure it yourself. Those are the rules,” Siticus said. Talari could swear that the twisted haemonculus was grinning behind that mask.


Muffled screams echoed through the dark halls. Talari could barely hear them now, as her own screams drowned them all.

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PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Mon Apr 23 2012, 05:55

Wow, awesome!!! I wonder what sort of things she'll have to do to fulfill the deal with the Haemonculus?
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PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Sat Apr 28 2012, 12:42

Please continue this story, it is really very good. The only thing that could add to it, perhaps would be variable internal focalisation, that is, changing the stream of conciousness perspective occasionally to present a different characters point of view. Please write more, I'm loving it.

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PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Sun May 27 2012, 02:54

First part of the next chapter. Wrote a bit too much for a single forum post, whoops.

---------------------------------------------------

The massive black spires of Commorragh seemed like an impossible puzzle from afar, yet they were nothing to the complexity of the labyrinth that the small streets and alleys formed at their bases all the the way into the dark depths. Talari slid through the narrow pathways, tall bridges and rooftops, sticking to the safety of the shadows as much as possible. The signature topknot of a wych was gone, her long, obsidian-black hair flowed freely down the length of her back and chest, forming a stark contrast with her bare, alabaster-white skin. Her new artificial hands were sliding across the cold, rugged rocks, the elastic white metal coating unscratched by the sharp bumps they ran across.

“One of them must be nearby,” she muttered to herself, quietly stalking forward and leaning around the corner. The blackened sclera of her eyes sharply contrasted the bright yellow iris, giving them an almost unnatural, catlike sheen from the dim lights of the street reflecting in them. She had spotted her prey, briefly smirking in anticipation. A figure could be seen on a rooftop below her laying in the cover of the dark, only the distinct long barrel of a sharpshooter model splinter rifle giving away any hint of the speck being something more than a tall shadow. Talari decided to assess the situation first, and carefully surveyed her surroundings.

The very instant she had opened her eyes on the table, got off the surface and made first few awkward steps with her new legs, the haemonculus had instructed her to perform a task. She was to track down three mercenaries and retrieve something from each.

“To make the matter more interesting and only have it be fitting to your rebirth from ashes,” the haemonculus had put it, “You will do so without any kind of protection or clothing. You're one of resilience and cunning... you'll improvise and get it done without much issue, I believe,” the haemonculus had said in an amused voice. “We all start from nothing in this world, naked, helpless, driven by our will to survive alone. So will you,” the haemonculus had said before leaving Talari to her task.

Talari shuddered from the cold air, gooseflesh covering her neck, back and torso – the only parts still her flesh. Still covered by the shadows and giving a careful look around first, she crouched down and ran her artificial fingers across her skin. The sensation of the touch was different than it used to, unsurprisingly to her. The metal fingers sliding against the flesh were cold to the touch. Talari rubbed her shoulder. The seam between flesh and metal was not visible, but she could feel it very well. A numbing pain still coursed through her once in a while. Despite the inborn regenerative capabilities of the Dark Kin, the wounds had not fully healed. She let out a sharp sigh of pain, then tapped the flat, ovale, bleak-blue gemstone that was protruding slightly underneath her collarbone and right above her breasts. “Internal reconfiguration to accomodate the prosthetic limbs was required,” the haemonculus had said when Talari asked about it. He hadn't bothered to explain the gemstone's purpose in the same way as he did not really explain anything.

“He enjoys it, being the only one to know something... I'm sure of it. Crypitc and symbolic all the time, but all that is just to show off,” Talari quietly muttered. Why else would he conceal his face, after all? Usually the haemonculi prided themselves in their misshapen, disfigured and grotesque faces, seeing it as a part of their pride in fleshcrafting, but this haemonculus was different, it seemed. What parts of him were not covered by the long robes, were covered by metal. Probably a rogue haemonculus that simply wanted to differentiate himself from the odd brotherhood, Talari thought.

Talari shook her head slightly and crouched forward, taking another look at her target. Barely moving at all, the mercenary was unsuspecting to her presence, most likely patiently waiting the mark. Talari fluidly slid along a ledge, trying to stay unseen and enveloped by the shadows. She silently flowed closer to her target, trying to get as close as possible from behind to perform an ambush. Her metal arms should probably be enough, Talari thought. A quick grab around the neck and the mercenary would be dead.

Talari leapt off the ledge, silently landed on the roof and crawled forward on all fours. The thought of her resembling a shadowy mandrake amused her, and she flashed a brief smile as she quietly crept upon the sniper. The silent crawl was exhilarating to her, and Talari felt her heart pounding a little bit quicker. A thought of tapping the mercenary's shoulder then spooking the poor sod surged through her mind, but was just as quickly dismissed. The merc could be armed, thus strangling would be much safer and faster, though certainly less exciting. “I am here to get this done, not goof around,” she remarked internally.

The mercenary had lowered the rifle, now hunching on it with a bored look on her face. The mark was nowhere in sight for hours now. The mercenary sighed, then raised the rifle and peered through the scope again. Right that instant, she was caught by the unbreakable grasp of two metal arms. With a well practiced motion, Talari snapped the neck of the mercenary. She smirked, drinking in the anguish of the escaping soul.

“That felt much easier than usual... I suppose these metal hunks have some sort of upside after all,” Talari said, letting out a laugh.

Something about the way the fleeing soul tasted was off, however. Talari felt an odd warmth coursing through her veins, something that she could not recall in from any of the countless kills she had performed in her long career in the arena. A dim blue glow coming from below caught her eyes and she looked at the gemstone embedded in her chest. Surprised, she saw a glowing, muddy spiral now lazily rotating within the gem. She then noticed thin glowing lines slowly forming in the recesses of her white artificial limbs.

Talari spent several minutes observing her arms and legs with curiosity. Wherever the light slowly coursed through, it made the metallic extremities feel almost lifelike, alive, almost replicating the sensation of truly being of flesh and blood. It felt good, Talari couldn't deny it.

A surge of sudden fear snapped her back to reality. Whatever arcane technology the haemonculus had put into her was irrelevant for now, she was in the bare open and with two mercenaries yet to die. Whether they knew about her or not remained to be seen, the now dead sniper at her feet could've very well been after her.

She turned over the body of the dead mercenary. Shaven head, the mercenary had the expression of surprise engraved on her face. Talari unbuttoned the merc's long black overcoat, patting its insides for anything resembling something that the haemonculus would be interested in. In her search, she found out a case of hypex, few magazines of specialised splinter rifle ammo, a short knife with a monomolecular edge and some odd-shaped jewelry. Talari placed jer findings beside the body. Nothing of it seemed like something the haemonculus would want. With a furrowed brow, she went through the search again, letting out a sharp snarl after a failure of finding anyting else.

“There is nothing here but junk!” she yelled in anger, and instantly regretted it, hunching down in hopes of concealing herself. After waiting a while, she carefully slid her head up and took another look around.

“What did the he want, anyway?” she quietly muttered to herself. “Did he even say? Well, whatever it was, it should've been easy to spot... right?” she murmured, going through the items once more. There was nothing else to be found. The mercenary carried nothing but her rifle that lay beside her, the contents of her pockets that were all scattered around her and her clothing, a bodysuit and a longcoat she was wearing.

“Wait... what did he say?” Talari scratched her head, picking up the monomolecular knife and looking at the dead mercenary. “Bring -something- from them? He never did specify what was he after,” she pondered, looking at the knife's edge, then at the merc. Then it hit her. “Of course... It was Siticus who hired them. It's a test, isn't it?” she quietly said, thoughtful. “The question is... is he testing myself or just whatever arcane tech he put into me?”

After a few more seconds of thought, she decided to use the situation to her advantage. She pulled off the longcoat and bodysuit from the mercenary, then put them on. The fact that it was a perfect fit failed to surprise her now, only reaffirming her suspicions of all this being planned ahead by the haemonculus. How hard would it possibly be to hire someone with the same body type as the wych laying unconscious on his operating table? She sheathed the knife in its holster attached to her belt and continued forward by vaulting over the ledge of the roof, forcefully jamming her fingers into the wall and sliding down, scarring the stone wall with deep, carved recesses. If the haemonculus was doing some tests, so would she. In a moment, her feet safely hit the ground. Pleasantly surprised by the resilience and strength of her limbs, she advanced down an alleyway and acrosss a long bridge. Her two next targets were supposed to be nearby.

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PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Sun May 27 2012, 02:57

And the second part.
_____________________________________

Talari had been walking for hours now. The endless mazes of Low Commorragh, formed by short and tall rooftops that continuously stretched forward, each house standing next to another in an almost impossible angle. Any outsider would've gotten lost, then ambushed and eaten within the dark labyrinths embrace, but Talari could navigate through it even blindfolded. She had been running through the streets since she was still very young and only just inducted in the wych cult. Only wits and speed were a guarantee of surviving longer treks alone into the run down sections of the endless city, and Talari had always had plenty of both. With her instincts sharpened through constant fighting in the arena, there was little in these parts that could match her, provided she had the upper hand.

Talari was getting close to her next mark and slowed down her pace. She glanced upwards, then swiftly elevated herself upon the tallest rooftop she could find by using every little nook and cranny in the uneven walls as stepping stones. As soon as her feet landed on the surface of the roof, she slid to the closest shadow to conceal herself. Her prey was near, and more of it than she had originally thought.

Several stories in an alley below her stood two figures. One of them, a tall and broad figure, wore a full dark blue suit of kabalite armor. In one hand he held a large, vicious looking vambrace blade, while the other was holding a shardcarbine, its barrel pointed towards the greenish skies of the Dark City. The other figure was shorter and thinner, wearing a jet-black, skin-tight suit of armor, his hand placed on the hilt of a sheathed sword. Both figures seemed to be in the middle of a heated conversation, and Talari decided to get closer to hear what they were saying.

“Even if I knew anything about it, what difference does it make?” the black-armored eldar spat out in annoyance, tapping his fingers on the hilt of his sword. “Why are you interested in chasing ghosts, Araj? All that does is invite yourself to join their ranks!”

“The reasons are mine alone. You know more than you let out, Yras, I know it on good sources,” the blue-armored warrior said in a deep, monotone voice, his helmet completely hiding whatever traces of emotion there might be. “You would be wise to speak. I have plenty of information on you that would cause much harm to you, were it to fall in the wrong hands, but I would be willing to forget it all, as long as you told me what I want to know.”

“Are you threatening me? Do you honestly think whatever I might know about those traitorous nobles is worth letting out of my head when the consequences will be all that much worse?” Yras exclaimed, becoming more agitated by the minute. “I don't care what you got on me, nothing is worse than the wrath of the Overlord, and there is little is worth risking receiving a sample of it. The fate of house Baliarstill is a forbidden subject, and you're not getting anything out of me!”

Talari crept closer to the two, now standing on a shadowy ledge directly above the two. What she heard didn't seem unusual, many once great noble houses were snuffed out one by one by the Supreme Overlord Vect's orders, leaving less and less potential threats to his iron grip over the Dark City Commorragh. The name did seem familiar to her, but she could not recall where she had heard it.

“Is this your final answer, Yras? Will you stand before me and my chance of redeeming my honor?” the warrior asked, lowering the shardcarbine, then swinging it on his back and tightening the strap. “Know that I will do anything it takes. I will avenge my brothers at any cost.”

The tall warrior took a step closer to Yras, who as a response drew out his sword and held it in front of him. “You better step back!” Yras yelled, shifting his balance from one hand to the other, ready to defend himself from any blow the warrior might try to land on him. “You wouldn't want to be accused in treason, would you, Araj? I'm sure one of your stature would be most pleasing torture victim to the Overlord... you'd resist for quite a while!”

The tall warrior said nothing. In a split second, he took a quick step towards Yras and split him open with a brutal upper slash of his vambrace blade before Yras could even react. Yras fell backwards with a still expression of shock in his face. The black, broken armor was now stained blood red, and the ground soon was flowing with crimson. The tall kabalite warrior quietly stared at the corpse, then kneeled and dipped his fingers into the slowly forming pool of thin, red blood. He grabbed the corpse, dragged it to the closest wall and drew a rune of Khaine, the Bloody Handed god of Murder right above the body.

“Khaine take you, Yras. I will find what I seek without you. This was for your own good,” Araj said, staring at the corpse. He began muttering a chant.

Talari could not understand, nor cared about whatever the warrior was doing. One of her targets was now dead on the ground, while the other had turned his back on her. Her time to strike was now. She drew out the monomolecular knife from its sheath and silently dropped down behind the warrior, then crept closer to him. As the warrior shifted his shoulders a little and started turning around, Talari jammed her knife in his shoulder, slicing through armor like nothing. The warrior roared and swung his heavy vambrace blade in a horizontal arc. Talari leaned backwards and flattened herself to the ground, barely escaping the bloodsoaked blade, then rolled sideways and went in for another stab, this time stinging the warrior in his leg. As soon as she felt the blade make contact, she flipped backwards, scarcely evading yet another furious swing by her opponent. Finding herself right next to the corpse of Yras, she tossed her dagger in the air and caught it in her left hand, while drawing Yras' sword in her right, then assumed a defensive stance.

She did not have to wait long. The warrior bellowed a loud roar and went straight at Talari. Despite two deep wounds, the warrior did not seem to be slowed down. With each swing of her sword and every thrust of her knife, Talari had to dodge a sweeping arc that swished barely past her. The warrior was at least one-two heads taller than her and twice as broad as her own slim body, but he moved nearly as fast as she. Talari relentlessly danced around her target, making leaps, rolls and flips, trying to find an opening in the defense of her foe, but the warrior either dodged or parried her blows, giving a split-second for Talari to get out of his vambrace blade's way.

Talari quickly realized the warrior's tactic – he was trying to exhaust Talari, searching for a fumbled swing to deflect it, disarm and then disembowel her. The warrior had not accounted for the seemingly infinite endurance of Talari's limbs, as she did not slow down. The fight was taking too long, however. With each missed attack, Talari became more and more impatient, forcing her blades at her opponent with all the strength her arms could muster. The warrior now barely tried to swing back, focusing on deflecting every single blow and slowly stepped nearer to the wall. Dodging an especially brutal strike, the warrior was surprised to see the blade had carved a deep scar into the wall. The warrior roared and swung his vambrace blade straight at Talari's neck. Frenzied, Talari flipped backwards, ran forward, then slid underneath the warrior's feet, performing two swift slashes at the warrior's ankles, severing the muscle and forcing the warrior on his knees. She turned back, then went in for the final blow to the neck, but it was parried by the warrior's blade with such force that it sent both Talari and her weapons flying. She heavily fell down, hitting her head against the wall.

Talari's head was ringing, but she was adamant on finishing the nearly helpless warrior. To her dismay, her weapons were nowhere in sight.

“Enough!” the warrior roared, still kneeling on the ground. “We don't need to fight further, Talari,” the warrior said, dropping his vambrace blade on the ground. “The way you fight... identical to Kros Baliarstill.”

“How do you know my name?” Talari yelled, caught by surprise of the warrior yielding. Just in case, she remained in place, watching the warrior closely. “And who is Kros Baliarstill?”

“I know you longer than you realize, Talari,” the warrior spoke in his monotone voice. “I was once Jarra of the Everlasting Shrine, eternally sworn to house Baliarstill, your house. Now I am Araj the Sentinel, dishonored and unable to attone for my failure to follow Kros Baliarstill's final words.”

“You're not making any sense,” Talari spat out. “What does you dishonor have to do with anything?”

Araj pulled off his helmet and held it in his hand. His head was cleanly shaven, his rugged face had sharp, angled features. The right side of his face bore gruesome burn scars, his blackened eyes looking straight at Talari. “I was unable do my duty. I failed to save you, my lady. You are the only survivor of the culled house Baliarstill. I thought you had perished along with succubus Lytrana, when all I found of her was her arm stretching out from the ruins. I have lived long years bearing this mark of shame, for it should have killed me. Instead, I was forced to live on, unable to find any rest.”

Talari took a step closer to Araj, her face displaying genuine surprise. “Save me... Lytrana? How do you know about... No, you must have gotten it all wrong, I would remember an ugly face like yours had I ever known you,” she said with a mocking ring in her voice. Despite her brash words, a doubt began niggling in the back of Talari's head. It seemed odd that the earliest memories she could recall was induction in the wych cult by Lytrana, but that didn't necessarily have to mean anything. Had Talari been trueborn, surely she'd remember something as memorable as running for her dear life?

“It sounds unbelievable, I know,” Araj said, pulling his helmet back on. “But the haemonculus insisted in telling it how it was. I doubted his words before, I thought he was just telling me what I wanted to hear, but now I am certain. It is you, bal Talari Baliarstill, daughter of Kros Bariarstill.”

“Daughter of... wait, a haemonculus? Did I hear that right?” Talari exclaimed. It seemed that she could not take two steps without stumbling into yet another carefully placed agent of his. Was all this his plan, then?

“Yes, my lady,” Araj monotonely responded. “The haemonculus that called himself Siticus sent me here. He told me you were alive and I would find it out for myself soon enough. He said Yras was supposed to show the way, and in a way, he did. Right after I had slain him, you assaulted me and it all fit together.”

Before Talari could say anything, Araj slowly stood up, stumbled a few steps nearer, then heavily kneeled in front of Talari. “I will give my life for yours by protecting you. I will redeem myself and restore my lost honor. I will not fail you like I did lord Bariarstill and all my brothers. Let me serve you once again! Let me redeem myself,” he rumbled, his head bent before Talari.

Talari stood silently, staring at the kneeled warrior in disbelief. She was fighting him for her life just a second ago, and now he pledged eternal servitude? The haemonculus was deeply involved in this, that was certain. Talari decided to play his game a little further for now. “Very well... Araj, was it? I will give you the chance to prove your word. You will serve me,” she slowly said. “I'll be watching you closely, but for now I need answers. We return to the haemonculus' lair at once.”

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PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Sun May 27 2012, 03:21

Wow, doing a mission naked, interesting!!!
The whole chapter was interesting actually.
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PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Sun May 27 2012, 04:50

Notions of honour and Khaine, lost history ... I would like to know more about this Very Happy I'm also enjoying the way your language flows. As for the naked mission I see it as a way to test someone without any extra resources - no weaponry, no clothes, not even a belt to improvise as a garotte, would I be right?

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PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Sun May 27 2012, 11:58

Indeed, it was a test of Talari's capabilities to improvise. It was also a stress test of her reconstructed limbs, another reason to remove absolutely everything else that could be relied on. Siticus the haemonculus is also a big sucker for symbolisms.

Glad you liked it. It might take a while until I find the time and inspiration combination to write the next one as I'm approaching my exam time.

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PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Sun May 27 2012, 16:34

Well, good luck with your exams, and I'm enjoying the symbolism too - I like to think about what I read Smile

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PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Sat Jun 09 2012, 00:41

First part of the next chapter. Second part should be up rather soon as I finish the proofread of it.
________________________________________

There were little wide open spots in Low Commorragh that weren't filled with shanties, shacks or vendor stalls. It was as if every single lowlife soul huddled to eachother in instinctive fear from the darker corners of the endless labyrinth city and the horrors that were lurking within the shadows. In such market places it was sometimes possible to forget that this was not just another massive trade city like the ones scattered across the Great Wheel's worlds. The often gruesome merchandise served as a harsh reminder that it was still the infamous Dark City with its eternal thirst for souls. The signature commodoties were ranging from petty trinkets for the supersticious lowlife and suspiciously cheap foodstuff, to roughened up slaves in their cages, blankly staring somewhere beyond their bars. Some had already accepted the invisible mental chains that being a captive in the Dark City meant – it was often safer for the slaves to risk serving every whim of the Dark Eldar than simply attempt to run away from their captors and into the depths of the mind-bending colossus.

Most of the merchants at the stalls tried to scrape together some form of living to sustain themselves, being too weak or cowardly to kill for survival. However, some of them enjoyed the thrill of bargaining and getting the most exotic things for dirt cheap. Talari knew the gleam in their eyes, the savouring of a kill. They were different kinds of killers, however, and lower in her eyes for that very reason. Their victims died slowly, broke, starved, alone and miserable, rather than being given a clean and beautiful death by the blade.

She shook her head, rushing by the stalls as quickly as the limping warrior Araj allowed her. Though she had inflicted grievous wounds to his legs, he had healed rapidly thanks to having feasted upon the anguish of Yras' soul right before their clash. Regardless of the fact, he was slowing her down when she was thirsting for answers, and that was visibly grinding on her nerves.

“Are you sure it's nearby? This does not seem like a district for his secondary hideout,” Talari asked, turning her head towards Araj. She was trying to find anything that would stand out in the endless stream of shacks and haphazardly built brick houses, but with no success so far.

“Haemonculi are deceiving. The best sanctuary is in the thick of people,” Araj said, his heavy breathing slightly betraying the fact that every step caused him great pain. “We are close, my lady. We should take a turn to the left here and head into the alley until we see a dark blue standard with a red sigil over a door aisle.”

“The faster we get there, the sooner I can get a sense of all this,” Talari sighed, then glanced at Araj again, snarling. “Drop the “my lady” act. The fact that I am not a trueborn, that is mockery enough, I don't need any more from you.”

“I am sorry, my lady. I mean no disrespect. I will cease,” Araj bellowed monotonely.

Talari was unable to pick up any trace of emotion that would give away whether the large warrior was really just mocking her or saying what he believed. The towering warrior seemed to be expert at hiding any betraying hints that his body might have given away. Limping, he was still moving with the grace of a khymaera.

Talari remained cautious. The motivation of Araj was still a mystery despite of claims for honor, something that she had never entirely understood. Live or die, it was always dependent on ones skill and skill alone. There was no necessarily right or wrong way for a wych to kill, the spectacle was what mattered, even if it meant a swift, but dirty move every once in a while. Honor never made a good spectacle.

“I was wondering,” Talari quietly spoke after a long moment of silence, deciding to try and clarify some things right away, “How did you get that scar you showed me? You said you failed me... but how? I do not remember you, nor the events you describe.”

“I have lived several hundred years with unfulfilled duty stinging in my side,” Araj monotonely began. He looked straight forward, not even trying to meet eyes with Talari, who was observing him with piqued interest. “That day was the last of great house Baliarstill. Renowned for their peerless melee combat prowess, they were culled in the lowest form possible – shot, all of them.”

“Sounds like a smart way of taking out an opponent that is probably better at dueling than you,” Talari remarked, briefly flashing a smirk.

“It is the path of a weakling, to take the easiest way out!” Araj bellowed, his fists clenching tightly, only to release and relax a split second later as he continued in his monotone voice. “Regardless of my views on the matter, the attack was efficient. The Everlasting Shrine was blasted apart with hails of darklight, most of my brothers perishing for eternity in a blink of an eye.”

“Your brothers and a shrine... What, you want me to tell me you're an Incubus? You don't really look like one. Did you leave your warsuit in your other shrine or what?” Talari laughed, now looking over her shoulder to see if they weren't followed. She shivered from a cold breeze, then pulled the collar of her longcoat higher.

“Almost. I cast away my warsuit after the massacre,” Araj said after a pause. “I was no longer worthy of it for I had not perished in the battle as I should have. Even worse, I had failed the order of my master. For a long time, I believed myself to be the only survivor. It was a shameful existence.”

“Must have been tough,” Talari said in a forcibly disinterested tone. In truth she was overwhelmed by a surge of curiosity, as she had never met with an Incubus face to face. Whether Araj was telling the truth or not, it was still something entirely new. “What did you do, then?”

“I began working as a mercenary. Eventually ended up leading a small warband of warriors,” Araj said. “I greatly hated it at first, but I was certain Khaine had something planned for me when He spared me that day.”

“Khaine saved you?” Talari interrupted, letting a laugh out again. “The bloody handed god of murder saved a stray incubus? You are aware of how ridiculous it sounds, right?

“Khaine guides all our blades, for we are His children,” Araj said, a hint of conviction resonating in his otherwise monotone voice. “The blade falling upon me was delayed, and in turn, my blade shall fall upon many more. And by Khaine, I shall have my vengeance.”

“Vengeance... I do like the sound of that,” Talari quietly said, turning her head towards Araj, catching herself relating to the former incubus' sentiment. “What happened that day? What has been eating you from within all this time?”

“I, Lytrana the succubus, and you were ambushed by a wrack sweeping party while I was carrying out an order by lord Baliarstill himself to get you out of there alive, an order I grudgingly accepted,” Araj said. “I was half blinded by a spray of acid from the wrack's weaponry, but I kept fighting them until I fell from exhaustion. Lytrana carried you away in the mean while. When I had dealt with the wracks and waited out the attackers to leave the subrealm, I began searching for you. All I found was the torn off arm of Lytrana sticking out of a massive pile of rubble, formed a cave-in. That was the last time I saw you, you were but a small child then, my lady, I truly thought you were lost-”

“Was I unclear when I told you not to call me that again?” Talari snarled at Araj, interrupting him. She had stopped in her tracks and stared Araj down. “I'm no damned lady. Either call me by my name, or not at all.”

“As you wish.” Araj nodded and grew silent once more.

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PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Sat Jun 09 2012, 08:32

Heh, this was an interesting chapter!!!
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PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Sat Jun 09 2012, 21:49

Yes, I would have to agree. There's more to this history than we have seen, and I want to know more Smile

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PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Sat Jun 09 2012, 22:13

Loves the descriptions, they are really nice and graphic. I really like how Low Commorragh works.
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PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Sat Jun 09 2012, 23:00

Second part of the fourth chapter, finally got around to revise it. I'm glad you guys are enjoying it!

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They walked for several miles in complete silence. Talari was biting her lower lip in deep thought while keeping Araj in her sight. She had heard of the incubi being loyal unto death, certainly, but she still remained unconvinced by Araj's words. He must have mixed her up with someone else, his story made no sense. He knew Lytrana, yes, but that had to be a mistake. Lytrana was alive until the day the Jagged Edge aircraft blasted her apart. Was he thinking of someone else and it all was just a coincidence?

“We are here,” Araj quietly said, pulling Talari out of her thoughts. They had arrived to a door aisle with a dark blue banner hanging right next to it. The banner was bearing a crimson sigil Talari did not recognize. Without a word, Araj opened the door and went in. Talari followed him, suddenly feeling much more tense than the entire way here. She was no longer concerned whether someone followed her, as she had no idea what awaited her within.

They entered a long, dimly lit hall. A tall, robed figure moved through the shadows of the thick columns balancing the entire room. The figure came closer, revealing itself to be a grey-skinned kroot. Though Talari had seen plenty of kroot and slaughtered her fair share of them, this one seemed different than the usual. His orange eyes were like fiery orbs of magma in a stiff face of rock, and the scales portruding from his limbs seemed to posess a metallic sheen. Chalky white markings covered the creature's face and beak, most likely signifying the tribe he hailed from.

“You are here to see the Grand Shaper, yes?” the kroot shrieked in poor eldar tongue, his orange, unblinking eyes staring at Talari. “You must head through the hall and follow the stairs heading downward. The Shaper awaits you.”

Talari gave the kroot a stiff nod, then walked forward, not bothering to grace him with any more attention. The fact that such a primitive xeno not only knew, but was also expertly mangling the eldar language greatly annoyed her. She chose to ignore it for now, preferring to keep her guard up. She glanced over her shoulders, and yet again met with the kroot's orange eyes that seemed to follow her untuil she left the great hall.

After descending a long flight of stairs, Talari and Araj entered a large room. It was moderately filled with simple furniture – simplistic round chairs and a table, somewhat resembling antiquated craftworld Eldar designs. The walls were covered with long flowing banners of the same blue with the same crimson red sigil as the one by the entrance. Along the bannered walls stood four more kroot, all looking nearly identical to the one that had greeted them, except these held native-looking double-bladed sickles by their side. Just as the one in the hall, these kroot too had their eyes tied to Talari. As a small relief to her, Araj seemed to be on his guard as well, his fingers gripping tighter the hilt of his vambrace blade.

“Do sit down,” a mechanical, screeching voice echoed through the hall. “You are my guests. You need not fear my servants.”

Both Talari and Araj obeyed the owner of the voice and sat down at the table. They then saw a dark figure silently sliding out from the shadows of the room and into the light. Haemonculus Siticus glided to the table, then took a seat directly opposite Araj and Talari.

“I am pleased to see both of you here,” Siticus began in a somewhat jovial tone. “Talari, you certainly outdid my expectations. I had thought it would take you at least few days more to finish my little task... but I see i was too careful in my estimations. You've certainly gained something from this little experience, would I be correct?”

“Yes,” Talari quietly nodded, then leaned forward, looking straight at the unblinking, glowing orbs serving as eyes for Siticus' mask and continued: “I need answers, haemonculus.”

“You need but to ask, my dear Talari. The curiosity is only natural for one as young as you,” Siticus said, reclining back in the chair and tented his fingers, the fingertips of his right hand barely audibly clacking with the clawed fingertips of his left. He continued: “Be so kind and as one question at a time, please.”

“What did you put into me?” Talari asked, placing her metallic hands on the table with a light tap.

“If you are asking for a precise list of all the various devices, I will have to bore you for hours,” Siticus said simply, “however, to name a few major upgrades, your limbs were, obviously, replaced. Bones were reinforced to compensate for the extra weight and the massive strain you would inevitably cause to your body, quite possibly snapping yourself into half. That shiny gem sticking out of your lovely torso is what holds it all together and makes it tick, sing and dance. A very heavily altered and repurposed soul stone, you see.”

“A soul stone?” Talari muttered in surprise, unconsciously touching the stone through the fabric of her bodysuit. “Why would I need a soul stone?”

“To preserve your lovely soul from being toyed with by She Who Thirsts, of course,” Siticus said, pointing at Talari. “I need it to bring you back, should the misfortune of you dying were to occur. And it will, inevitably. You're young and therefore incredibly impulsive, even for one of our kin, who are famous across the entire Great Wheel of this trait.”

“So you can stick me in a piece of armor?” Talari shouted, standing up and slamming her hands on the table. “Add me to a collection? Get yourself a craftworlder for that. I don't need this.”

“Actually, you do,” Siticus said, his crackling voice obtaining a venomous tone. He inclinedhis head in an angle and looked at Talari. “Pull up your coat's sleeve, please.”

Talari stared at Siticus for a while in confusion, then did as he asked and rolled up the sleeve of her coat, exposing her metallic forearm. The recesses in it were still glowing bright blue.

“You see, what that glow tells me is that everything is working,” Siticus said, slightly leaning his head forward. “The soul stone in your chest also works like a trap. That little bounty hunter you disposed of currently is powering your very own limbs.”

“A soul stone that... feeds on them?” Talari slowly said, tapping on the stone on her chest.

“I thought it would be very fitting to have Isha and Vaul lend a hand to a child of Khaine,” Siticus said, letting out a screeching laugh. “Yes, I modified the craftworlder last refuge to better represent what we are.”

“I see. And how does it work?” Talari asked, tapping her fingers on the table.

“Again, hours of explanation would be required for explaining in full. Suffice to say, for a period of time your limbs are powered by the soul of the slain, the core is at its maximum efficiency and you can probably crush the hulls of mon-keigh battleships with your bare fists,” Siticus said, standing up from his chair and slowly floating about an inch above the floor in a circle around the table. “Not something I would recommend, mind you, as you are not immune to the harshness of the open space. However, it also has the pleasant side-effect of enabling sophisticated systems of self repair. Given enough time, all the metallic parts can rebuild themselves as if they were brand new.”

“You mean... you've created a metal that heals?” Talari asked, her fingers sliding across her exposed forearm. She was unsure what to think of the haemonculus in front of her right now. He was dangerous, certainly, but would he really go to such lengths that he had just to betray her later?

“Created implies I did it from scratch. No, I did not create it, but I did put it together,” Siticus said, crossing his arms behind his back and stopping with his back turned to Talari on the end of the table. “There are still things that could be perfected and improved, but as it stands, you are quite qualified to be called my greatest achievement thus far. The best fusion between metal and flesh to my very own knowledge, which, I must add, is quite vast.”

“I... see.” Talari slowly nodded. “I have other questions, however.”

“And I have the answers,” Siticus turned around and said, letting out a short, screeching laugh. “I know what you're going to ask next, however. What Araj here said to you, correct?”

“Well, yes,” Talari said, glancing at Araj for a moment, who in turn looked at her, then looked back at Siticus. “Why was he telling me things that do not make sense? Was that another test? To see if I could be mislead into believing anything?”

“I had forseen it happening, but it was not a test, no,” Siticus said, floating back to his chair and sitting down. “A mere cosequence that inevitably had to happen. See, the reason why it makes no sense to you is because you don't remember anything of it.”

“But somehow you do? You know what he was talking about?” Talari asked in disbelief. “Did you do something to my head while I was laying on your table?”

“Some readings, yes, but that was all. Your head is intact, as I had no reason to interfere with your mind,” Siticus said, raising his left hand and gesturing one of his servants, who nodded and left the room. “I didn't need to. I had done that a long time ago.”

“What did you do with me, you bastard?” Talari yelled, slamming her fist into the table and breaking a deep dent into the thick wood.

“I saved your life,” Siticus said simply. “Or rather, helped you to hang onto it without you realizing it. I removed all memories you had of your life in the Baliarstill subrealm. If you were to survive, it would be near impossible for you to be hidden while acting like a spoiled trueborn. For all intents and purposes, you had to disappear.”

“You... what? You removed my... memories? How?” Talari asked, her face expressing shock. She slowly sat down back in her chair while she stared at Siticus, grabbing her head with her hands in disbelief.

“I extracted them from your head,” Siticus said, extending his hand to the side. His kroot servant had returned with a sleek black glass vial that he placed into Siticus' hand. Without a word, the kroot servant took his original place by the wall and continued to stare at Talari.

“This is it, the vial I used,” Siticus resumed, his voice losing the jovial tune. “Your memories are all here. When Lytrana stumbled in my lair, her shoulder bleeding and her arm missing, she dragged in you, demanding me to uphold my vow of loyalty for the last time and help to protect you. I didn't really care about what happened in subrealm Baliarstill, but eventually I agreed. Extracting memories is simple, you see... you pull the event out of a person's mind and the mind never really figures it out simply because whatever traces there might be left, they end up nowhere. The mind eventually gives up to such subconscious flashes and considers them mere dreams. Now, putting memories in... a different story entirely, but I'll explain that later.”

Talari silently stared at Siticus. She refused to believe what he was saying, and yet... it would all make sense if it was true. She caught a small part of her actually wanting it to be so, that she truly was a part of something much bigger than just a tube born member of a wych cult, never meant for much more than just being another body in a yet another pointless, bloody clash.

“It was fortunate that you had approximately reached the age that the tubeborn matured in,” Siticus continued. “It was easy to mask you as just another recruit to a wych cult that Lytrana had taken over during the time I extracted and stored your memories away. You were none the wiser, you had no memories up until the point of awaking in a pod. You believed that story up until this very day.”

“What you're saying me is... difficult to believe,” Talari finally said. “How can I believe you? How can I trust you? Everybody knows that you cannot trust a haemonculus!”

“Yet here you sit,” Siticus said, leaning forward and placing his hands on the table. “I have had so many opportunities of getting rid of you, so many chances of cutting the thread of your life without you being able to do a thing about it. I have not. Our kind is notorious for paranoia, yes, and yours is as healthy as one could be, however, I would ask of you to not ignore the very obvious facts. You would not be alive without me, and I have put enormous resources in you. Your life is safe and I intend you no harm as there is simply no benefit in it.”

“So what do you want me to do, then? What is it that you gain out of this, really?” Talari shouted.

“You have potential, Talari Bariastill,” Siticus quietly said. “Your memories have convinced me of this. I see in you a drive for revenge, a relentless personality, one of a potential ruler, one that will overthrow the tyrant one day and pull our race out of the crumbling ruins of our former glory and bring us all into a new age of glory.”

Talari started laughing, clutching her sides. She laughed for several minutes, finally calmed down and wiped tears out of the corners of her eyes, then said: “Do you realize how ridiculous you sound? Me, a ruler? Why would anyone want someone else to rule but themselves? Wouldn't you be better off by siezing the power for yourself?”

“Some realize they are not meant to rule over empires,” Siticus said, placing the black vial on the table and standing up. “I am a scientist, an artist... I have no desire to delve into politics. Those are petty distractions from discovering the secrets of the universe. What I care about is utilizing potential of all things. You have such potential. You have the claim, the blood, the drive, the backbone... some of these you just don't remember yet. Look at us. Look at where we all live. In a giant city, built on a graveyard for past glory. We are ruled by a slave that fears that past, that does not allow anyone but himself to know any of the secrets this dying city holds! He rules this city with nothing but fear, while being driven BY fear. He's afraid, afraid of someone to truly challenge him. I want to see our kind to be the masters of the universe again, Talari. I want every living soul to know of our kind, and tremble. I want to see the old empire unified and expanded beyond its old borders. And I want you to be the one that does it.”

Talari stood still, silent. She was looking at the black vial on the table, then turned her eyes to Siticus. “I am not sure if I am the one you are looking for your plan of siezing control over the city. However, I want my memories back. If they are mine, they belong in my head. But... how can I be sure they belong to me? Can't you implant fake memories and make me do wahatever you want?”

“I will explain,” Siticus said and picked up the vial, then slowly floated to Talari. “A mind is not susceptible to thoughts of others... as long as they do not closely resemble what the mind would normally think anyway. For example, I cannot force one to kill, if his mind would not be prepared to do so, nor can I implant faith in the mind of one that refuses to bow to a divine being. The mind blocks out such attempts, it crosses out anything it finds against its nature. It is fascinating, to find so many intriguing possibilities once you get used to a few annoying limitations.”

“I suppose,” Talari said. “So I will simply know these are my memories, rather than something fake and unreal?”

“You will,” Siticus said, “The difference lies in the fact that memories of others do not hurt. Aftr all, one cannot experience the dreadful feeling of loss of something one never posessed. Only those that truly did lose it, those can feel it, and feel it as starkly as the day it happened. I warn you, this will be unpleasant. You should sit down.”

“Just do it,” Talari spat out, taking her seat.

Siticus said nothing more, raised the vial and twisted its base. A long needle slid out of the black shell, and Siticus pointed it at Talari's forehead, then jammed it in her skull and activated the switch at the vial's side.


In a second, Talari's mind was overfilled with incredibly vivid images flashing by one another. Blurred faces, tall buildings, long past events, they all flashed by her eyes in an incoherent mess. The faces started repeating, and Talari slowly began to recognize them. She could make out her mother, her father, her countless servants and teachers, each triggered a different kind of sense of attachment, some being connected to great longing, others forcing her to be overwhelmed with hatred. The strong bonds of attachment were then cut off one by one, filling her senses with grievous pain of loss. This repeated with every face now, over and over again, each time the process becoming stronger and more painful. It felt like searing knives were being thrust into her skull and twisted. Soon enough she could not stop screaming until it wa finally over.

She awoke, laying in a bed in a room she did not recognize. Her head felt heavy, as if filled with lead and she slowly turned it around to take look at her surroundings. The room was filled with pieces of broken furniture scattered across the floor. She could see shards of broken glass on the floor as well. Had she done all that?

“You're finally awake,” a familiar voice spoke to Talari. She blinked her eyes several times to focus her vision and finally made out the black speck in the dark corner right next to the door to be nothing else but Araj in his dark blue armor.

“Yes, Araj,” Talari slowly said, rubbing her forehead, then flashing a brief smile. It felt only fitting. She now remembered Araj fully, the unquestionably loyal servant of her father he had always been, always being around Talari whenever she wanted company and keeping everyone away when she wanted privacy. She looked at Araj and continued: “I started to thrash around, didn't I? The regaining of my memories... it was not very pleasant.”

“Yes, my lady. You almost killed several servants of the haemonculus before I got you here, and you did not spare your fury for nearly anything in this room,” Araj monotonely said after a deep bow. “You have nothing to worry about, my lady. I will not let anything get through this door until you tell me otherwise. Please, rest.” With these words, Araj opened the door and stepped out of the room, placing himself in guard on the other side.

Talari nodded, then laid back in her bed and closed her eyes. For the first time in a very long time she felt safe.

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Lady Malys
She Who Must Be Obeyed
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PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Sat Jun 09 2012, 23:15

Quote :
“Some realize they are not meant to rule over empires,” Siticus said, placing the black vial on the table and standing up. “I am a scientist, an artist... I have no desire to delve into politics. Those are petty distractions from discovering the secrets of the universe. What I care about is utilizing potential of all things."

This is a perfect example of how Haemonculi think! He wants to uncover the secrets of the Universe. It's grandiose, scientific and quite possibly coloured by hubris but this is how I see a lot of them becoming - artisans, detached but somehow impassioned.

Excellently done Very Happy

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Zehra
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PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Sun Jun 10 2012, 03:41

This was just awesome!!! I love your Haemonculus character!!!
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Siticus the Ancient
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PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Fri Aug 10 2012, 23:37

I haven't had the drive to write for a long time, my mind filled with many other things. I have ideas for other stories, but I've been feeling incredibly guilty about even thinking on working on them before finishing this story. I finally sat down and forced myself to write up another chapter. So, sorry for keeping you waiting so long and enjoy.

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“How are her vitals?” Siticus asked, slowly gliding from one console to the other, looking at countless various readings on the displays all around the great, dark research hall.
“All is well, my Shaper,” a grey-skinned kroot servant replied, dressed in dark blue, flowing robes. “The vitals are all within norm, there has been no sign of rejection. Every system is working at optimal efficiency.”
“Good. Run a comparison of today's sample with the data from these past two months. See if there are any noticeable changes. She's been in combat a lot recently, that should definitely register in the readings.”
“Right away, my Shaper.”

The kroot assistant quickly went to a console further in the dark corner of the hall. Siticus was filled with pride and admiration for his own genius, something he had allowed himself a lot lately. When he had began his work, these kroot were little above savages, superstitious and feral. Yet back then he saw them for what they truly were then and there – a blank canvas to be painted on, clay to be moulded into a fine sculpture, and most of all, immense amount of knowledge to be obtained. It was an easy task to impress such primitive creatures. All it took was taking up a persona of great importance for them, which Siticus did, presenting himself as the Great Kroothawk, the Grand Shaper and primogenitor of the kroot kind. It mattered little that he did not really resemble one, for he had prepared a long time for it. Emulating the odour-based wordless communication that the kroot used between themselves was simple, and it, along with a display of various “miracles” was enough to earn the trust of the simple, yet very adaptive alien tribe.

“The data indicates minor strain on the chassis. It seems to be repaired shortly afterwards, though, so it's safe for now,” the kroot assistant said, his orange-glowing eyes running across countless lines of data. “The soul engine is working well, however there seems to be a minor spike in her stress levels every time the systems switch into absorbtion mode.”
“Interesting. Place a comparison with logs of her emotional states. There ought to be a correlation,” Siticus said, spreading his fingers above the console, it obeying to his every minor movement and thought.
“There. Both readings spike roughly at the same time, however the emotional state returns to the average reading in a much longer period of time than the absorbtion mode's duration.,” the kroot said, pointing at the screen.
“Hm. I need a comparison of all cases of absorbtion mode's activity. Search for an increase in the emotional spikes over time.”

Siticus observed his assistant. His name was Krath, one of Siticus' third batch of his Ascendant subspecies. Krath was a clever one, displaying approximately 5% swifter logical processing of complex commands than others of his batch. His memory was somewhat faulty, however, an unfortunate side-effect that had arisen with that particular sampling. It mattered little, Siticus had eventually concluded. The faulty memory lessened the already incredibly low risk of them trying to rebel and overtake the facilities. The genetically encoded utter loyalty to their shapers was what ultimately made him to decide on picking kroot as his assistants over those of his own kin. Though requiring some training due to their feral pedigree, the kroot were incredibly quick learners. Their sharp logic and great memory more than enough compensated for their lack of imagination. In this case, it was only another positive – the kroot would simply never think about rebeling, they were neither capable to come up with a plan to outwit an ancient haemonculus, nor were interested in doing so. He lead them to a greater existence, and they happily followed their Grand Shaper, as they called him. It was a somewhat crude nickname with a superstitious connotation, but it filled Siticus with satisfaction nonetheless, as to him it sigified complete and utter obedience and loyalty, something that would prove difficult to achieve with Dark Eldar apprentices.

“I found it. The emotional spiking seems to be in a gradial increase since this particular point exactly two weeks after the internal reconfiguration operations, my Shaper.”
“I see. This must be caused by her mind adapting to the removed memories. I suppose it can be a little jarring, considering the stark differences in lifestyle between the two sets. It doesn't seem critical so far. Document it for future reference just in case.”
“Immediately, my Shaper!”

As soon as Krath finished the sentence, he walked to an ornate, marble-plated cabinet, opened its door and pulled out a small, silver-coated cillinder. Without a word, he pressed a small switch at its side. A thin, long needle protruded from the cillinder, and Krath jammed it into his forehead with a well-practiced motion and stood still for a while with his eyes closed. Then, as if nothing had happened, he pulled the cillinder off his forehead, opened his eyes, went to a different cabinet further in the dim hall, and placed it in a shelf. The cillinder was immediatly locked in place with a silent hiss of the shelf's machinery. A date and time appeared on the base of the cillinder, then the shelf pulled itself in a massive compartment, which was then immediately hidden by two thick marble wall panels. The door to the secret compartment closed shut with a loud clang of the locks, followed by a silent hiss of hermetization of the chamber.

Krath looked at Siticus for a moment, blinking his orange eyes as if trying to understand where he was. He then bowed and asked:
“What is your command, my Shaper?”
“Nothing for now, Krath,” Siticus said, raising his hand in a gesture of dismissal. “You just recorded a routine check, and you know all too well how exhausting the process of memory extraction is. Therefore, you should get some rest. I will need your mind fresh and clear of distractions as soon as possible. I will finish what's left of this on my own.”

Krath silently bowed, turned around and left the hall. Siticus followed him with his eyes, then looked at the wall that hid his memory archive. He internally noted another praise to his own genius. For him, the technology of extracting and implanting memories was his second greatest achievement to this day, following his automated machinery complex that ensured his rebirth. The benefit of his memory extraction technology in laboratory conditions was twofold – not only it allowed perfect recording of the flow of his thoughts during observations and other laboratory work, thus ensuring that not a single idea was ever lost, it also kept his assistants only ever aware of a small part of his research. It was a further measure of security should ever one of his kroot servants decide to rebel.

Siticus glided towards a large diagnostics apparatus and stepped inside its scanner arc. Initiating the scanning process with a simple motion of his index finger, he stood there, receiving all the readings of his own mechanized body in his eye displays. Everything from the functionality of his mind to the status of every single cell in his body seemed to be within norm. Siticus' breathing apparatus let out a long hiss, distantly sounding like a twisted version of a relieved sigh. Siticus had left little remains of his original organic body. Most of it was either partially or entirely replaced with self-regenerating machinery, upgraded with every breakthrough he made. While it gave him many benefits, the machinery parts required regular maintenance and constant checkups on how his regenerating body cells interacted with the metallic shell.

Siticus slowly glided towards the large wall that just a few moments ago had swallowed the thought record and with a flick of his wrist, the heavy locks within the wall roared open, and the the endless rows of silver vials were revealed once again. Siticus glided in the archive, slowly inspected the cillinders, running his finger across their smooth surface. Countless lives, deaths and rebirths, all as one they were recorded and placed here. Just as the rebirth process and his prolonged life had began to take its toll on his body, so did it slowly ravage his mind. He could not recall the contents of many of the older cillinders, the laconic labels serving as a weak hint towards the possible horrors that might have been stored in them.

Siticus let out a hiss of air through his rebreather. Many of the older cillinders contained his own madness, his tormenting soul sickness that nearly drove him to complete insanity. Only through painstaking, repeated purging of his mind did he free himself of his ailment. There was no guarantee that it wouldn't return. He knew his way of avoiding his ultimate fate was only treating the symptoms. As the time went on, it would only worsen, coupled with the slow draining of his soul.

“Remembering the days of old?” a mocking voice rang behind Siticus.

Siticus immediately turned around, the grav motors in his lower body almost throwing him out of balance due to the sudden surprise. Just a minute ago, he was completely alone, after all. In front of him stood a slender figure, from head to toe dressed in a shifting, colourful maze of a clothing, its face hidden behind a mask, its one side displaying a wide grin, while its other side remaining blank. It was a harlequin, a servant of Cegorach. Siticus loathed the feeling of insignificance these beings slowly awakened in him, but was determined to not display it.

“Yes, I indeed am,” Siticus monotonely said, trying to not give away any hint of emotion to the harlequin while trying to find any signs in the harlequin's movement that could allow to discern his intetions. It was an exercise in futility. The harlequin moved with such eerie precision that there was absolutely no hint of his own intentions or emotions. Any gesture that the harlequin made was just a part of the performance with a predetermined meaning.

“You are always so stiff at my presence. In this instant, I merely play the part of a messenger. It should not darken your disposition towards me, surely?” the harlequin said in his mocking voice, intertwining it with an acted echo of innocence. The blank side of his mask shifted to display a furious scowl. “Yet, such is the Fate's will that we must meet on such a dark accord. You have not forgotten what part you were to play, by chance?”

Siticus let a short hiss of air escape his rebreather. He didn't know what he hated more – the fact that the harlequin had come to remind of their ancient deal or the fact that for the very rare occasion, there was someone else with all the answers and in complete control of the situation.

“How could I forget?” Siticus said grimly. “I have entire halls full of small reminders.”

The harlequin laughed. “A joke! You have not lost your touch! That is is very pleasing to see. Yet, I am not here to entertain nor be entertained, I fear. I am forced to remind you of your agreed duty. A millenium has passed, and yet, you seem to avoid dancing with our ancient enemy. Why?”

“I was going to. I am making preparations for it right now.” Siticus said, noticing a sudden rise in his heartrate.

“Yours is not the part of the liar or fool in this play. It is that of an oathkeeper. Or do you wish to return to the madness, letting daemons dance in your mind once more?” the harlequin said, his voice earning a cold ring, and the grinning half of his mask disappearing and being replaced with a weeping face with a single red tear tracing down from the corner of its eye.

“Look, this time it's different. I am not delaying just to get you off my back! I have plan and it's in motion. You will see!” Siticus said, the volume of his voice slightly rising. He waved his hand across the great hall. “All this is a part of it. I will soon have the means to fight the ancient ones as you requested. This highborn will ensure it, I know she will! She will be my instrument with which the Necrons will be driven back and sealed into their tombs, one by one!”

“So it has been seen in the twisting paths of Fate. It is questionable still. It tangles away in many paths, some breaking off, some twisting and consuming themselves. You leave much to Fate's guidance, even these events being naught but a fortunate meeting of several different paths. Is it truly as you say, that it is of your doing, or should I sever my ties with you and allow Fate itself lead the way, since you are so eager to put it all on a single person?” the harlequin said, his voice now completely devoid of the jovial tune from the beginning.

“I know what is at stake,” Siticus said, his voice obtaining a screeching reverb. He despised the way the harlequin made him almost bow and hoped he would disappear already. “I will get her to fight the ancient enemy, and I will do all I can to help her succeed. You don't need to threathen me, I know the importance of the task. I will see it through!”

“A reminder is perceived as a threat by the one that had forgotten his oath. For now, I shall accept your answer, but my eyes will remain on you. For you to earn the part of an oathkeeper, your hand must be on the sword that slays the enemy,” the harlequin said, both sides of the mask shifting into a blank, expressionless mask. The messenger then faded into the air, leaving Siticus alone in the hall.

Siticus waved his hand, and a chair glided forward from the darkness and stopped right beneath him. He heavily sat in the chair, pulled down his hood and his fingers manipulated the valves and switches of his face mask. With a silent hiss of the pressure valves, he took off the birdlike mask and placed it on a table nearby, which was covered with various small, slender instruments. White bone shined through his thin, translucent, parchment-like skin. The skeletal face was encasing the glowing blue glass orbs that served as his eyes. There was no mouth or nose, both were replaced with a grey breathing apparatus grafted right onto his skull. In the middle of his forehead, there was a small, round slot in which Siticus inserted the needle of the thought record cillinder, taken from a shelf dating several millenia ago.

The dreaded memories returned and engulfed his mind like a black, thick liquid. Flashes of him as an upstart haemonculus, desperately trying to cure his curse of mind-splitting madness, the horror of being barely able to focus on basic tasks as each of the twisted personalities that formed within his mind tried to achieve their own sadistic ends. Then followed a long-forgotten part. Like a think, shining strand of light, it immersed into the the thick blackness of his memory, then dissolved it, giving him a clarity of mind. The strand, while helping to regain his sanity, felt like a shackle, stronger than the thickest and heaviest chains. It was the memory of a harlequin at some spectacle handing a small orb to him. The memory of the sudden clarity overcame him. It was the hallucinogen grenade that he reverse-engineered into a solution that worked for his ailment.

Siticus pulled out the needle from his forehead as he detached the cillinder and put it back into its place, then reached for an empty canister. He had long forgotten about these memories and immersing back into the horrifying chaos of his insanity took some time to get over. He slowly shook his head, then slid the needle of the empty canister into his forehead. He needed to isolate the traces of the sickness left in his head and remove it before he could move on.

Siticus was awakened by Krath who had come to perform the daily routine check on the laboratory equipment. He felt clarity returning to his old and tired mind. He turned to Krath and said:
“Postpone the routine check for now, Krath. We have more pressing matters to attend to.”

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Zehra
In Exile


Posts : 218
Join date : 2011-07-02

PostSubject: Re: The Dulled Blade   Sun Aug 12 2012, 10:39

Cool, a harlequin, awesome!!!
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The Dulled Blade
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