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Thor665
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PostSubject: Incubi    Fri Jan 11 2013, 20:28

Incubi

I decided it would be smart to separate the chapter links from the chapters themselves.
Also, that way, I can mumble around and put notes here if I need to. I don't know what the notes might need to be, but now I can - huzzah!

Objectionable Content Warnings:
 


Prologue: The End - An Old Wych, a Young Wych, and a Dead Wych discuss an ending that leads to a begining.
Chapter 1: The Students - Welcome to the Temple of the Incubi, prepare for glory!
Chapter 2: The Grey - The education of an Incubus is no easy matter.
Chapter 3: The First Thing - Mor'osez plays detective in her own subtle way and earns a chance at unwanted glory.
Chapter 4: The Test - Obessa must learn to know a sword.
Chapter 5: The Spear - Mor'osez considers a spear, and the one who holds it.
Chapter 6: The Following - Obessa makes a bold decision, and confronts Ryldnar
Chapter 7: The Hunt - A crime has been committed, and justice in Commoragh is sharp, fast, and deadly.
Chapter 8: The Key - Mor'osez has another clue, but does this key unlock answers, or simply more questions?
Chapter 9: The Unan Angau - The Proceeding of Fate is upon her, and Obessa must discover if she has what it takes to be Incubi.
Chapter 10: The Talk - Moro'sez has a talk and deals with politics.
Chapter 11: The Klaive - Obessa learns about the klaive, and Mor'osez learns about love.
Chapter 12: The Hunter - Mor'osez visits Obsidian Lethe, Obessa makes a choice, and a prophecy moves forward.
Chapter 13: The Challenge - Kyssindree and Mor'osez compete for who can make the finest arena match.
Chapter 14: The Knife - Betrayal on the red sands leaves one to fight alone.
Chapter 15: The Interlude - The smallest decisions lead to the bloodiest outcomes
Chapter 16: The Siege - It is to be war in Commoragh!
Chapter 17: The Second Thing - Mor'osez finally learns the second thing Irbreena knew
Chapter 18: The Alliance - The enemy of my enemy is my enemy, but an ally for the moment.
Chapter 19: The Plan - Plans are debated, Incubi style.
Chapter 20: The Homecoming - Obessa goes home.
Chapter 21: The Third Thing - Betrayal, revelations, and a final predicted victory.
Chapter 22: The Symphony - Music of blood, a chorus of screams, and a crescendo of glory on the red sands.

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Fri Jan 11 2013, 20:28

Prologue: The End

Mor’osez felt stiff again. She sat up in her bed and held her left hand up in front of her, clenching it into a fist and back again a few times, her lip twitching very slightly as she felt the aching grind in the joints.

“Does your hand bother you, beautiful one?” One of the pleasure slaves that she had claimed last night after the success of the raid crawled forth from under the silks, his lean and nude muscular form easily moving lightly over the other male, who was still asleep, as he slinked up to her. His bronze-toned, delicate hands reached out to grip at her hand as he looked up at her with a bewitching smile. “I shall kiss it, yes? Make it all better, and please you again, yes?” He leaned down to kiss her hand, she immediately twisted it free from his grasp, steel-hard fingers clamping down on his chin and cheeks as she caught his face and lifted it up to look down into his eyes carefully. She could see her own very dark eyes reflected in his glittering golden orbs, and heard him whimper slightly.

“Do I really look like someone who needs the words of a slave menial to make me feel better in the morning?” The male, rather intelligently, lowered his gaze from her eyes and shook his head ‘no’. “Go, inform the slave masters that I will require some fresh slaves to reinvigorate me. The usual fees shall be paid.” As he bent to grab up his clothing she smirked and slapped his backside, sending him scampering on his way without a scrap of clothing on. As he darted out of the door Mor’osez saw a slim figure waiting outside the door. “Are you coming or going,” she grunted as she stood up and stretched out some of the kinks of the night. The full body massage by the three oil soaked slaves had been pleasurable, and they’d even managed to mostly keep up with her for the rest of the night.

“I had thought it polite to perhaps allow you to dress first.” Faeth’lyn slipped into the room, sliding past the closing door without ever touching it. Faeth’lyn was a slim slip of a girl, born Trueborn to a noble house of some repute, she had stern and sharp features of unquestionably timeless beauty. Her waist length black hair was coiled up and back from her face, and left to hang loose down her back. As usual she wore a concealing red robe, her hands tucked into the sleeves and a demure tilt of her head keeping her gaze cast downward.

“I’ve fought naked in the arenas more times than I can remember,” noted Mor’osez as she finished stretching, “if modesty were a concern for me I am sure I would have realized before now.”

“I find those fights to be a bit too gauche for my tastes,” noted Faeth’lyn primly.

Mor’osez walked over to her wardrobe, pausing to glance at herself in the mirror. She was a tall woman, even for a Dark Eldar, standing a good head and shoulders taller than Faeth’lyn. Long of limb and with coiled muscles visible in her lean arms and lengthy legs. Her face was all sharp angles, looking now perhaps a bit gaunt and drawn. Scars were visible all over her body as well, some more lurid than others, many faded with age, but the litany of battles and abuses she had put herself through down the centuries was painfully evident. But that was not what made Mor’osez frown, what made her pause was the signs of age across her once taunt and muscular frame. The small lines of crow’s feet around her eyes, the slight sagginess to her rippling abs, the droop and wrinkling on the skin on her hands and upper arms, all signs of her age. The aches too…she flexed her left hand thoughtfully and frowned again, the aches were part of it too. She grabbed up some underclothes and then began to slide on a pair of long black leather pants that rode low on her hips. As she was buckling it in place with a spike studded belt she glanced at Faeth’lyn in the reflection of the mirror.

“You still haven’t said why you’re here first thing in the morning.”

“Irbreena sent me to ask for you.”

Mor’osez paused in pulling on a mesh half-top and glanced at Faeth’lyn carefully again. “I am not fond of your politics, you know this.”

“I do.”

“I have never been fond of politics, everyone knows this.”

“Everyone does, and that is why she is asking for you.”

Curiosity had always been a weakness in her character, Mor’osez had admitted this to herself many times. She had a scar on the left side of her face due to curiosity if a certain visiting Eldar Corsair Captain’s sweet words had been true, or simple empty flattery with a dark purpose. On the back side of her right calf were a handful of scars from needle like punctures, curiosity if a certain planet’s flora was truly as deadly as she had heard. One of the four scars on her right bicep was from the barbed lash of a Succubus who had once ruled in the Cult of Blackthorn Briar, Mor’osez had been curious if she was better than her or not.

“Lead on.”

Mor’osez walked along behind Faeth’lyn through the winding corridors of the Arena of the Bloodied Kiss Wych Cult. Both of them were Bloodbrides in service to the Cult, two members of an elite and exclusive warrior club. Wyches formed the bulk of every Cult, every Wych answered to her superior, a Hekatrix. Amongst all the Heketrii there was chosen a special handful, usually numbering no less than ten and no more than thirty. One to three of the Bloodbrides would be named Syren, head of the Bloodbrides, and in turn the Hekatrii and all the Wyches, and answerable only to the supreme power of the Cult, the ruling triumvirate, the ynnitach, the brides of death, the Succubi.
It was common knowledge that in any given Wych Cult the three Succubi were anything but equal. Almost without exception one of them held the true power within the Cult, and the other two were little more than toadies, or plotting backstabbers, or vainglorious fools, or perhaps some combination of all three.

Irbreena, who had asked to see Mor’osez, was one of the Succubi…and not the type who was the actual power.

“Let’s go.”

“You haven’t armed yourself.” Faeth’lyn’s perfect little brow furrowed slightly as she noted this fact. The life of a Bloodbride was dangerous, even within the halls of their home arena, and none dared to walk anywhere without being armed.

“Haven’t I?” Mor’osez smirked. She’d played this game a long time, and had surprised more than one challenger by walking around with no weapons. It frightened some, making them convinced she had weapons they couldn’t see. It made others overconfident, convinced she was no threat without a blade in her hand.

Mor’osez didn’t worry about it, she knew exactly how deadly she was with or without weapons, and only carried weapons when on a raid, or entering the red sands, or on a mission of unknown but likely danger. It was a mark of pride to her that she could walk without weapons almost anywhere in the city and feel as secure as any.

As they walked through the halls they were spotted and recognized. Younger Wyches bowed their heads and uttered greetings. A few of the more foolish ones, who thought they were better than they really were, stared almost challengingly at the two Bloodbrides. A few of the more experienced Wyches and Hekatrii took a third option, offering their honors, but also carefully studying the two women for any sign of weakness. Weakness was not looked upon well within the Bloodied Kiss, and most Wyches improved their station with a blood-stained weapon in their hands and stepping over the corpse of the previous office holder of their new position.

Mor’osez had been a Bloodbride longer than any other Wych in the history of the Bloodied Kiss.

She had faced one thousand four hundred and twenty-seven challenges to her position over the centuries.

Eighteen had left scars worth remembering.

“Did Irbreena mention why she wanted to see me?”

“She did not,” Faeth’lyn’s voice had its usual bored timbre, the younger noblewoman rarely seeming to become excited. She was currently the least experienced of any of the Bloodbrides, having only held her position as a Hekatrii for eight cycles, and a Bloodbride for two. The loyalties of the Bloodbrides were, as a rule, to the Cult first, and the individual Succubi second. This rule was rarely followed, of course, with the Bloodbrides serving as some of the most powerful pawns for the Succubi to battle over. Faeth’lyn and Cordus, another of the Brides, had basically sworn allegiance to Irbeena, the weakest of the Succubi.

Mor’osez had not sworn allegiance to any of the Succubi since Succubus Tin’driel, the Barbed Snowflake, had died almost two centuries ago.

Irbreena’s chambers were within the East Wing of the complex. Irbreena’s personal sigil and heraldry marked the walls as they entered the wing, and most of the foot traffic disappeared as very few Wyches swore for Irbreena. Those that did were either too weak to have either of the other Succubi accept them, too foolish to understand how weak Irbreena’s situation was, or too eager for the faster rise to power serving such a risky and weakened lady might grant them.

The pair of them stepped out into a small veranda garden, a skylight chute was carved through the rock and steel of the heavily reinforced arena temple in order to allow light from the three captive suns that burned in Commoragh’s sky to bleed weakly down into the chamber and supply some nourishing light to the plants there.

Irbreena was sitting upon a low silk coated divan in the center of the garden. Slaves attended her in a small flurry of silent activity. Some fanned her with perfumed feather fans set atop obsidian shafts. Others were anointing her feet with rare oils as they massaged them carefully. Two knelt before her, a platter of foods and a few fluted glasses set upon their backs as they served as an impromptu table.

Irbreena was known by a few names, and Mor’osez always took pains to recall them all. For though Irbreena was certainly the weakest of the Succubi, she was still one of the most deadly Wyches in the whole cult. She was known as the Blood Courtesan. The Beautiful Death. The Demise you Embrace. She was renowned for her beauty, her talent with her matched curved scimitars, and famed for her skills between the sheets almost more than her skills upon the red sands. Irbreena smiled as she saw Mor’osez enter her room. Perfect teeth shining out between exquisitely sculpted dark lips. Purple tinted eyes gleamed merrily as she raised her hand in greeting.

“Mor’osez! Dear, Mor’osez, I was afraid Faeth’lyn would be unable to bring you out of your brooding chambers!”

“I do not brood.”

Irbreena laughed uproariously at that. Mor’osez’s hands tightened into fists as she toyed with the idea of just turning away. But Irbreena recovered herself and waved her forward again. “No, no, no insult meant, my sweet, tall, frightening, friend. Look at you, still walking around without weapons unless you’re off to war or a fight. Some would call that foolish.”

“Some would.”

“But not you, my sweet thing, not you.” Irbreena’s face almost looked like a mask, a look of amusement on her face, and eyes that spoke of terror. “But you’re just not scared, isn’t that right? Mor’osez, they used to call you ‘The Unwavering’ didn’t they? Mor’osez wasn’t afraid of anything, not Mor’osez…” Her voice trailed off as she paused to consider the wine glass in her hand. She quickly drained it and held it out to be filled again. “Sit, you must sit, I insist. Faeth’lyn, invite Mor’osez to sit!”

“My mistress would be most pleased if you would sit and join her,” Faeth’lyn’s voice remained deadpan calm.

As Mor’osez sat Irbreena snapped her fingers at her servants, who quickly moved to set a platter of sweets in front of her, and one of them moved to include her in his fanning efforts.

“I’m not sure if I’d eat any of it, if I were you, of course,” Irbreena whispered this conspiratorially at her. “I’m pretty sure half of it is poisoned or something. I forget which of the people wanting to kill me is the poisoner though…so many names to keep track of…” Irbreena smiled lazily at Mor’osez. “Your face, it reminds me of your sister.”

“You’re drunk.”

“I’m also on about four different designer drugs, but what of it?” Irbreena laughed madly, tears streaming down her cheeks. Mor’osez glanced at Faeth’lyn, but the young woman’s face was inscrutable. It must be a sad thing indeed to serve a master who was this pathetic. Mor’osez made to rise and depart, having better things to do than to listen to the mad babblings of a drunk fool.

Irbreena’s pale white hand shot out, snatching hold of Mor’osez’s wrist in a vise-like grip. Mor’osez looked down at the Succubus, whose eyes were suddenly deadly serious and clear.

“Were you loyal to Tin’driel, the Barbed Snowflake?”

Tin’driel had been the last true Succubus of the Cult, in Mor’osez’s opinion. She had served Tin’driel loyally until the failed raid on Norvus Third, and had served no other since. Irbreena had been her sister, but was not one eigth of the woman Tin’driel had been.

“I know three things you don’t know,” Irbreena held up four fingers and giggled, a bit of her mulled wine sloshing from her goblet. A servant quickly moved to sop up the spill.

“Is there a point to thi-“

“I’m going to be dead soon.” Ibreena leaned back on her divan, giggling still, but now with tears in her eyes once more. “I played at her game for a while, and thought I was so good at it, but I didn’t make the right moves and now I’m dead.” She bobbed her head side to side as she sang in a sing-song voice. “Dead, dead, dead, dead…”

Irbreena had been one of the three Succubi a long time, indeed she had been a Succubi even when Tin’driel had ruled, three sister Succubi, Tin’driel, Irbreena, and Cleos. Tin’driel had fallen in battle. Cleos had perished in the Arena in a foolish grudge match, and only Irbreena was left of the old ruling sisterhood. Mor’osez could remember her back then, beautiful, skilled in battle, a true marvel to behold. But the last two centuries had seen her rising star shift directions until she became this sad tittering thing sitting in front of her, waited on by slaves, and served by only a handful of Wyches in a crumbling part of the Arena.

“I know you, Mor’osez, that’s my one last bit of brilliance.” Irbreena’s eyes seemed to clear again as she looked up at the tall wych. “I know what sort of person you are, underneath it all. Others may have forgotten, but I know. I learned that the day you killed your sister in the games.” Irbreena smiled secretively. “You’re too forthright, you’re like an enraged Claw Fiend, you’ll just keep coming and coming, won’t you?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I’m going to give you some information, just an address. Just a little address, so little, such a little thing to start it all.” Irbreena giggled and her eyes seemed to gleam with a madness in them even though they looked clearer and more sure now than they had in years. “I don’t think you’ll disappoint me, Mor’osez. When I die, you’ll look into it, won’t you?”

“Look into what?”

“The Barbed Snowflake, she was so beautiful, don’t you agree? But so pale, so very, very pale, like her name.” Irbreena pulled on Mor’osez’s arm. Mor’osez was accounted as one of the most physically powerful wyches in the Cult, but Irbreena’s actions were fueled by madness and her drugs, and she pulled Mor’osez down towards her, and whispered an address in her ear. “But not till I die, and then you’ll have to be very quick about it.”

Then Mor’osez was released.

“You can go now, I’m bored.”

As she walked away, confused, she heard Irbreena ordering that Faeth’lyn kill all of the slaves in the room. She didn’t like the possibility of whispers.

==============================================

It happened that night. Irbreena had been so drunk that she had apparently gone wandering along the walls of the Arena and fallen into one of the beast pits, specifically that of the Acid-tongued Vorlocks. It was a sad affair, as their hyper acidic bile would make recovering any of her for regeneration quite difficult. Impossible even. Multiple Wyches witnessed the fall. Indeed, it was almost strange because it kept being repeated about how it was a fall, and the names of all the witnesses was repeated quite a bit. Not one witness had been a wych in service to Irbreena. But that made sense, after all, not many served her.

Two of Irbreena’s handmaidens had also met bad ends, apparently wandering into a bad part of the dungeons. But minor slaves like that mattered little…unless they had known something.

Mor’osez found herself departing the Arena and heading for the address she had been told.

It was probably nothing. The errand of a fool. The last demand of a madwoman.

It was probably nothing.

Mor’osez made sure to bring her weapons.

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Cavash
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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Fri Jan 11 2013, 20:54

Great start to this story, Thor.

You have certainly set up the intrigue well. Mor'osez's personality (and her seemingly over-confident) power appeal to me as a character and I cannot wait for more.

Great descriptions througout the story.

Very good work.

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Sat Jan 12 2013, 19:27

That was a really good intro. I really enjoyed the depiction of the doomed Irbreena, it is always interesting to see a a high ranked member of the Dark Kin to deal with the fact that they can no longer keep it up and they're outplayed.

I can't wait for the next chapter, I am really interested into seeing what's coming next. Really well done.

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Sun Jan 13 2013, 04:42

Ah, more Mor'osez! Excellent Very Happy I look forward to knowing more about her ...

I enjoyed your description of the politics of the Wych Cults as always. If anyone were unsure how they worked, I could refer them here.

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Tue Jan 15 2013, 21:26

@Cavash - thank you very much.

@Siticus - I agree, and also DE would be apt to allow their opponent that moment where they realize they've lost, just to savor the suffering. Of course, Irbreena may have had a good card up her sleeve...

@Malys - Not much of a surprise I brought back Mor'osez, for a character with such a minor role in the last story she was plainly an interesting character worth further exploration. Wink I also hope to delve a little deeper into Wych Cult politics in addition to the Incubus stuff that will be showing up soon.

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Mon Mar 11 2013, 00:05

Chapter 1: The Students



Mor’osez walked through the dark and twisting streets of the market district. To her left a merchant was offering up exotic drugs, the crystal phials glittering with the myriad rainbow of colors of the liquid drugs within, ready and eager for injection. To her right a group of street bravos had descended on a mon’keigh Rogue Trader who had thought his five bodyguards would protect him and whatever collection of baubles he had brought to sell here. The man screamed in pain as a bladed garrote was slipped around his neck, another young Dark Eldar was slapping a curved blade into the man’s gut over and over while the rest of the gang slowly murdered the bodyguards. The smell of the sump runoff that flowed along a sunken channel nearby was sharp, pungent, acidic and mixed with the rotting smell of the bodies tossed there to be disposed of. A few canalmen were out on their hover skiffs, using long bladed hooks on poles to fish out the bodies for sale, and to fend off other canalmen who came too close to their claims.

Above her were a series of walkways, crowded with pleasure slaves, each calling out their prices and what they were offering in over a dozen different languages. Ahead of her the crowds were gathering around a makeshift track to watch a game of Geir’Harras, the runners were busy strapping on their wrist blades and elbow spikes while eager hawkers shouted out the going rates for the wagers. In a dark alley mouth she was passing she could see the hunched figures of some Parched lurking in the shadows, staring with sullen and lost eyes at the murder of the mon’keigh, licking their lips as withered hands reached out towards the fresh pain.

In all it was a rather unassuming and normal neighborhood, and Mor’osez was uncertain why an address here would so excite Irbreena on her death bed. It wasn’t until she rounded the corner and her eyes spotted the runic markings of the address that she at least began to suspect this wasn’t a total fool’s errand. The address was etched upon a fluted brass tower that rose up out of the surrounding neighborhood like a graven gargoyle, looming over the other structures and reaching up higher with metallic passageways like the tendrils of some climbing creeper vine.

The mark above the door was an archaic symbol that Mor’osez couldn’t read, but the four creatures standing guard at the door made it painfully apparent what lay inside. They were pale skinned, their torsos left bare to display the scars and other signs of the surgeries they had undergone. Black skirts were belted around their waists, and metal masks bolted and strapped over their faces. Most bore extra limbs, tubes of adrenaline laced combat drugs pumping through tubes that fed directly into their hearts, poison laced clawed gauntlets strapped to their wrists or jagged edged hatchets clutched in pale hands covered in fine needlework stitching together disparate pieces of flesh. Wracks, the apprentices, slaves, and foot soldiers of a Haemonculi Coven.

Mor’osez approached the quartet, faint whiffs of decay coming off them even through the cloying preservatives and perfumes they had been splashed with. They all turned to regard her, silver chrome masks glinting in the light, dark holes punched through the metal allowing them to see out but hiding whatever remained of their faces from her. One of them raised a gauntleted hand ordering her to halt, tubes of red virulent venom feeding through the back of the hand to supply the inch long barbed claws on the fingertips of the gauntlet with a deadly toxin mix to allow even the slightest scratch to bring a hideous and long-lasing death. The voice of the Wrack echoed out of its mask, sounding like the speaker had his mouth filled with slime-coated marbles.

“State your business here.”

Mor’osez paused to consider that one for a moment. “I wish to speak with the master of the house.”

“Ancient Rasp’fel is not seeking new business at this time. Leave.”

“He will want to speak to me.”

The Wrack moved forward, bare feet stained black with filth, grime, and dried blood scratched across the ground as it shuffled towards her. Its head tilted forward and a snuffling sound like a slobbering Kyhmerae sniffing for prey could be heard. “Who are you?”

“Mor’osez, of the Cult of Bloodied Kiss.”

The Wrack considered this for a moment and then issued a low bubbling burp as it nodded its head. Turning, it motioned to the circular door which spiraled open to reveal the dark interior. “Ancient Rasp’fel has been expecting you, please…enter.”

One of the quiet Wracks led her through the door and through an impressive antechamber, the walls covered in artistic flesh murals that, unless Mor’osez missed her guess, were still alive. The faint moans emitting from the creatures that had been transformed into living décor, and the small twitches they managed added to the lurid display. Brackish red-brown liquid dribbled out of various orifices of the designs and splattered onto the floor, leaving rusty red runnels everywhere. The Wrack padded through them heedlessly, the trailing edges of his skirt becoming sodden as he passed. They then traveled through a series of winding passageways, the lights were dim here, even for Commoragh, and the shadowy recesses echoed with strange cries of pain and pleasure, and reeked of sweet spices, pungent decay, and the ever present coppery tang of blood, old and new.

And then they stepped into a small garden veranda, brightly lit, and with a few small couches, their cushions plump and inviting. A small decanter sat on a table, steaming merrily, two small and elegantly carved cups sitting next to it. A thin figure sat comfortably on one of the couches, wrapped in a simple furry red robe, his pale feet in matching furred slippers. A pair of gilt rimmed reading glasses perched on his pointed nose as he read over a data crystal slate in his hand, a small smile etched on his thin, black lips. Golden eyes, slit like those of an animal, glanced up over the edges of the glasses and he nodded at her.

“My master, the Ancient Rasp’fel, Lord of the Flesh Art, Creator of the Weeping Waterfall, Innovator of Duskfell and its subsidiary poisons, Lord of the Coven of Twisted Bone.” The Wrack uttered out the titles with due gravity. “I present Mor’osez, Wych of the Bloodied Kiss.”

“I hardly believed it to be true when I heard, but, it is Mor’osez.” He set down the slate and motioned for the Wrack to depart with an annoyed flick of his wrist. “I apologize for my guardians, distasteful beasts, to be certain, but not without their uses.” He smiled again, the smile was tight and unnatural and Mor’osez suspected it was because the face he was currently wearing appeared to have been hooked onto his head, loops of flesh pierced through by blackened and bloody slick hooks that seemed to be formed of his own bones jutting forth from his skull. His hands were also stained and splattered with old blood, the nails black and cracking. The face was immaculate though, smooth lined, and adorned with the latest fashionable facial tattoos and makeup. He offered to pour her some tea as she sat down.

“This is a treat, I must admit I used to be quite a fan of yours back in my younger days when I was a bit more carnal in nature. I eventually removed most of that problem because it was so distracting from my work, of course.” He laughed, his voice tittering out of his throat unnaturally loud and sharp. She had suspected his tongue was forked by the way he lisped slightly and seeing it in his mouth confirmed her thoughts. “Still, to see you here, it almost makes me think of reattach- But, no, no, a silly thought, I wander. What can I do for you, my sweet Mor’osez?”

“Irbreena sent me here,” she offered noncommittally.

“Ah, Irbreena, yes, yes, she is so worrisome, isn’t she? I don’t know why, I assured her I’d tell her if there was any change at all. But there is no soul yet, no soul, so all is as it was, whether that is good or bad, who am I to say, just a merchant am I, just an artist, just wanting to cut you up and save a bit of you for my wal- But, no, a silly thought, I wander, I wander. Is this all she needed to hear? You seem to be something of a legend to send here for such a simple question.” The Haemonculus’ eyes narrowed slightly even as his forked tongue snaked out to lap at his dry lips slightly, the rough edges of the tongue rasping across the cracking dead flesh of the face’s lips.

No soul yet? It couldn’t be for Irbreena, her body had been dissolved unless she’d managed to smuggle out a bit of DNA at the last moment to this Haemonculus, if someone had been intent on killing her then they should have been watching for such actions and also been paying attention to any business transactions with any Coven. Also, he had said ‘is worrisome’ meaning he was unaware of her being dead…which suggested the soul he was looking for was not hers.

“Irbreena worries, as is her wont, she sent me to verify that your equipment was all in working order. After all, the lack of a soul showing up suggests the possibility that there is something wrong with your operation.”

The smile never left his face, but the delicate teacup in his hand shattered into jagged shards as his fist clenched. If he noticed the sharp pieces puncturing his skin or the black, watery blood dribbling from the wounds he gave no note.

“For anyone but you, that would be death, sweet Mor’osez, anyone but you, or perhaps Vect himself…or actually, a number of powerful figures, power in their figures, I could cut and form and sha- no, silly thoughts, I wander, I wander.” He smiled again, an ungainly thing, the muscles shifting unnaturally, as he rose to his feet. “Very well, a tour, a tour,” he clapped his hands merrily together. “You shall see, see how well I’ve been treating her. She is my oldest customer, you know, two centuries and counting, isn’t that grand? It is a most curious thing, but the machines do not lie, nor do they malfunction. Irbreena was fascinated by it, as am I.”

He motioned for her to follow.

They walked through his workshops and he showed her the body, fresh, waiting, and with no soul yet, the machinery set to draw the soul back to the body churning away, trying to grab something they couldn’t get ahold of.

And Mor’osez realized exactly how dangerous things had become.


==============================================


She stood there, dressed only in gray clothes, the raggedy pants and loose shirt hanging off her in ill-fitting disarray. She reached up to rub a hand doubtfully across her scalp, once long locks shaved down to a closely cropped buzz of purple hair. All around her stood other Eldar, a range of ages, each dressed the same, each with the same haircut. The courtyard was a grim and unadorned place, black gravel, black walls, four torches burning softly from black sconces. Black, and grey, straight lines, unadorned walls, the entire world was muted, colorless, sharp, and empty.

Her name was Obessa, simply Obessa, no house or family name could be attached to her due to her time as a slave, and thus she was just Obessa. She still wasn’t sure if she belonged here. She had lived a full life already for one as young as she was. She had been a Wych, a leader of a Reaver Jetbike Squadron, an adjutant and war leader for a Kabal, and a slave. Her life had faced so many ups and downs that she had already been resigning herself to a life working on the streets as a hired blade to some local gang boss or merchant consortium. But that was when she’d met someone very special, and he had told her that she was deserving of better.

As she sat in the dim and black courtyard, shivering slightly in the cold, and feeling her scalp itch from the haircut. She was beginning to question if this was really what she wanted.

“A girl, eh?” One of the larger applicants who had been stalking around glanced her over, sneering a bit. His face was marked by a curving and jagged scar, and he had been walking amongst the other applicants like a shark amongst minnows, now he stood regarding her, and his lips peeled back into a sneer, accentuated by the scar. “They don’t take girls, you know.”

“They do, just not often,” offered another of the applicants, a young boy, probably barely past his sixtieth cycle, who had been standing nearby. His nervous eyes darted around as his fingers tapped at his sides. “It’s just hard to tell, under the armor and all.”

“They aren’t going to take a girl,” the large scar faced applicant insisted. “You’d have a better chance going down to the Street of Wax and offering yourself to one of the brothels.” He reached out to pluck at her gray shift. “Looks like you might have a decent bit of workmanship under there, and we could always visit.”

She wasn’t sure how she should react. She chose to keep her eyes downcast, not wanting to cause any problems or risk expulsion. A low, predatory, growl rumbled in his throat as he took a step towards her and she realized he’d taken the response as one of weakness.

“I’ve killed more than thirty men with my knife and sword,” he announced, “you’d just be a statistic.” He glared at her for a moment as she stood there in silence. “What’s the matter, you deaf, or dumb, or maybe both?”

“Welv’ghar, now where are your manners?” A third man approached them. Like the scar-faced Welv’ghar he was clearly a bit older than most of the other applicants. But where Welv’ghar was tall, the new man was short, where Welv’ghar was muscle the other man was all supple and soft seeming. Though his hair had been shaved off he wore dark khol makeup around his glittering purple eyes, marking him as a follower of Khaine and the old gods. He offered an unctuous smile, perfect white teeth glittering brightly. Of especial note, was that Welv’ghar stepped out of the way as the slim man approached, suggesting they knew each other, and that Welv’ghar had already decided who was more dangerous. “You are a pretty little thing though, such nice bone structure, and your eyes…are you sure you belong here?”

“Are you?”

“See, she can talk, and her little pink tongue is as sharp as any knife, though her voice...” The man tilted his head to the side, his eyes dancing across her features as he studied her. He was looking at the curving scar across her throat, almost from ear to ear, that caused her voice to sound so hoarse and cracking. She’d seen looks like that before from others, like she was an amusing plaything, or an object that they hadn’t decided to claim. She’d hated those looks. The thin man clucked his tongue sadly, “such a shame, now what dreadful fool let you wander in here, I wonder? Why are you here, little one? Hoping to revenge yourself on an ex-lover, maybe the man or woman who gave you this?” He reached out for her throat scar and she shifted away from his touch, he smirked. “Welv and I could always take care of the problem for you, I suppose, save you the effort. A beauty like you would do better practicing different arts than the path of the Incubi, I would think.”

She contemplated offering to duel him with blades that very instant, but suspected that their hosts would look with disfavor upon that course of action. She glanced out to the edges of the courtyard, atop the walls they lurked, figures dressed much like the applicants in the courtyard below, except that instead of drab gray they wore clothes of fine black silk that seemed to soak up light in their inky folds. Each also wore a hood pulled low over their face, casting them into deep shadows that the flickering torches did little to penetrate.

Each of the figures on the walls also carried a curved blade; the klaive.

Considered to be the finest of weapons ever forged, the klaive was the perfect blade, the sword of swords. Almost as tall as the Dark Eldar who wielded it from the tip of its blade to the base of its hilt, the Klaive was a huge cutting blade with a slight hook at one end, a few sword breaking notches gracing its surface, and a collection of three different leather bound grips along its length, allowing it to be wielded as a sword, an axe, a spear, or in a variety of other ways. It was the perfect weapon, for the perfect killing machines.

A figure dressed in black armor stepped out of the shadows then. The armor was black, but not of a normal sort. It did not gleam like metal, or even seem to be black beyond black like the robes of the applicants on the walls. It was simply black, black and unreflective, and dull. Yet, somehow, that made it all the more fearsome, it was the armor of someone who didn’t need to stand out on the battlefield, who didn’t seek to be ostentatious nor who sought to hide from his opponent’s view. The only ornamentation was a tabard hung about the hips bearing the Temple’s marks, and a small etching on the left side of his breastplate noting his rank, and a trio of skulls hanging from his belt, each inscribed in small spidery script describing who the skulls were and why they were worthy battle trophies, other than that there was no decoration to it, just a simple, clean, functionality. It was the armor one would wear to work.

But what stood out about the armor was the helmet…a helmet forged to resemble a leering death skull mask itself, painted gleaming white it seemed to glow with an unearthly shine against the solid black armor. The sight of it, even though she had seen it many times before, still sent a small shiver through her body.

The steel-clad figure didn’t raise his arms to signal for silence, no gong announced him, perhaps if you were paying attention the slight crunch of his armored feet upon the black gravel would have heralded his arrival. The applicants simply fell silent. Near the back there were two who had not, perhaps through simple ignorance, or perhaps willful idiocy. Regardless, their quest had already ended. They suddenly found the black clothed applicants quietly at their shoulders escorting them out. One of the two boys in gray began to protest, trying to announce the strength of his house and the lineage and power of his father.

He found a blade in his throat and as he gurgled and choked on his own blood he was carried out.

“I am called Ryldnar,” the figure in black armor announced, his voice echoing out of the skull helmet as he spoke softly, but so quiet was the courtyard now that he could be heard perfectly. “Klaivex of the Temple of Obsidian Lethe. I will be your Are’zhai. You will treat me with honor and shall receive the same. I do not care what you were on the outside, be you Trueborn or Tube, noble or wanted, a murderer on the run or, a lost outcast.” The last suggestion made her shiver slightly. “None of it matters. The world beyond the walls does not exist for you anymore. Any from the outside who have issue with you will have issue with the Temple.” He paused to let that sink in. “Never make us regret that pledge.

“The rules are simple. Obey, learn, advance. One day you will prove worthy to wear the purple, then the black. When you wear the black you will earn the right to challenge. Do not think too much of that, there is a high likelihood that none of you shall ever even wear the black, much less don the skull. Today we shall practice with knives in the morning and swords in the afternoon, when you prove you understand how to hold a weapon we might deign to allow you to wear purple and then let you hold a klaive and learn how to really fight.”

One of the black wearing applicants rolled out a long rack of combat knives into the practice field.

“Take up a knife.”

The students moved in a silent gray herd, clustering around the racks as they selected their blades. She elbowed her way forward as well, reaching out to grab one of the slightly curving dueling blades that she had always favored. She tested its weight thoughtfully as she backed off and waited for the next order.

“Spread out and assume a combat stance to ready you for battle.”

Most of the students were just finding themselves a place in the yard with a few feet between them and the next trainee. Already, at a simple glance, she could begin to tell where they had all come from. Some had settled into the sturdy and broad based stance of knife-fighting taught by the Kabals. Others had the more willowy and flashy motions of those who had trained with the Wych Cults…or perhaps had just watched too many arena battles. A surprising number had very unique stances, many quite bad, that she presumed to have been learned in some back alley or other in knife fights with fellow gang members.

She glanced at Ryldnar as he walked quietly along the rows of students, his skull faced helmet regarding each in turn. Her eyes drifted upward next, noting that amongst the black robed apprentices now also stood a few more full Incubi, their armor a dull black gleam, their skull faced masks unreadable and leering. But, a few of the students already had smirks on their faces as they made whispered comments about the applicants below them.

She paused, wondering what could be so funny to them, and she thought carefully of their instructions. ‘Assume a combat stance…ready for battle.’ With a frown she suddenly spun on her heel and moved into one of the corners near the only exit doorway. She brushed past Zak as she did so, the Incubi instructor glancing over his shoulder at her as she positioned herself. Her back against a wall, a slight overhang defending her from the watchers above, her attention focused on all of the other applicants and able to watch them all, and a mode of egress available to her as well as putting her in a position to defend the door if needed.

There was laughter from above, and she felt a tenseness in her spine as she looked up, wondering if she’d made a horrid mistake. One Incubus stood there, his armor the same as all the others, though the skulls and other trophies hanging from his belt were of greater number, and his tabard was gilded in crimson and gold thread instead of the muted gray and black the others wore. His skull faced mask shook slightly as he laughed, a rasping and hissing sound, but one of clear humor.

“You chose well with that one, Phaer’irr.” The rasping voice slid out of the mask like a blade scraping across rusting metal. The figure looked to his right at a slim Incubus who moved up next to him. Obessa managed to keep her face neutral but felt a flutter of joy in her chest at seeing Zak Phaer’irr, the Incubus who had brought her to the temple. Though he was dressed the same as all the others she could tell it was him from the way he stood, as ever in a casual stance that was still at full combat readiness. “More the fool I,” the laughing Incubus said darkly, “here I thought you sponsored her because of her pretty face.”

Zak Phaer’irr’s expression was unreadable behind his skull-faced helmet, but the Incubus dipped his head in acknowledgement of the words. “Xulfryn, Hierarch, I strive to bring only those worthy to wear the skull into the Temple.”

Heirarch. Obessa knew the word, it was a title that signified the owner as the lord of the Temple, first amongst the Incubi of Obsidian Lethe. Master of the Contracts. Judge of the Laws. Within the black walls of this Temple the Heirarch’s word was absolute, and he held his position for life, until another Incubus proved capable of defeating him in single combat.

“We shall see, of course. You know what will happen if you prove wrong.” Xulfryn, Hierarch of the temple, looked over at Zak, venom dripping from his words. Then he glanced at Ryldnar. “Make sure they know how to hold the correct end of a blade, old man, then prepare them for the Unan Angau.” The Hierarch turned away, brushing past Zak Phaer’irr as he departed.

The Unan Angau, she frowned slightly to herself. The words meant ‘The Proceeding of Fate’ in the old tongue. She glanced at Zak, and he was looking at her carefully, though, as usual, his expression was unreadable behind the emotionless shield of his mask…not that he usually gave away much more when unmasked. He nodded slightly to her as he turned and walked after Xulfryn.

Obessa watched him go, wondering what Xulfryn had meant about Zak knowing what would happen if he’d been wrong.

==============================================


“I’m Tymeon, of House Quill’iet.”

The young boy from the yard who had known that the Incubi accepted females dipped his head in greeting and offered a nervous smile as he moved up to the counter next to her. They were on kitchen duty, and their job was to help prepare the brown protein paste for breakfast, which was not to be confused with the brown protein paste used for lunch, nor the brown protein paste eaten at dinner. It reminded Obessa of the hard tack Wych Cults carried with them into battle when expecting the raid to last multiple days in the field, except instead of being a semi-inedible, crumbling, hard, chalky bar it was in its raw state and was a semi-inedible, sticky, soupy, chalky glop.

“Obessa,” she offered in reply.

“Don’t wrack your brain, you won’t recognize my House, my father is a simple Port Lord with aspirations to higher station in life.” Tymeon flashed a quick half smile as he began pouring out some powder into a large, black, metal bowl. The two of them were working in the cramped kitchens of the Temple, along with a dozen other students who were all occupied preparing the morning meal. Steam gushed out of the heating refiners as they instantly heated up the protein paste that was inserted into them. Obessa was working at stirring up the paste prior to its heating in order to ensure that the water and powder were as smoothly combined as was possible. The food was terrible, but at least there was always a lot of it. “You seem to have caused some interest with Xulfryn, Heirarch,” he noted pointedly, clearly begging for an explanation. Unfortunately Obessa really had no idea what the answer was, even if she had been inclined to give it.

“If you say so.”

“What’s your relationship with The Unbending?”

“The what?” Obessa glanced over at him, sweat dripping into her eyes as she poured a bowl of paste into the refiner, steam billowing out around her.

“Not what, who,” Tymeon smiled to himself as he measured out some water for the next bowl of paste. “Zak Phaer’irr, called ‘The Unbending’, he clearly has chosen to make you his Dathedi, and I was curious why that was.”

“Dathedi,” Obessa rolled the word around in her mouth, “that means ‘between colors’ in the old tongue.”

“Yes,” it’s a signifier of a special entrant. A petitioner to the temple who would otherwise not be allowed entrance is marked as Dathedi by one of the proven Incubi because they believe the applicant is already skilled or worthy enough to be beyond the usual entrance requirements, they stand ‘between colors,’” he fingered his gray uniform and looked at her carefully, his watery blue eyes looking her over carefully. “When someone as famed as The Unbending puts his untarnished reputation and life on the line it makes me wonder why he did it.”

“His reputation and life are on the line? How?”

“Simple,” Tymeon offered another knowing smirk, pleased with how much he knew that she did not, “when an Incubus believes they know better than the Temple elders and pushes through a recruit then their fate is tied to their recruit. The victories of the Dathedi are their victories. The failures are their failures. And, if the Dathedi fails to perform well and advance in the order, the sponsor will be…disciplined for introducing weakness to the Temple.” Tymeon made a simple and short slashing motion across his throat, signifying the simple solution to discipline employed by the Incubi.

==============================================


It was two days after that before she was finally able to speak to Zak.

She’d been waking early and sneaking out into the practice yard to work through some weapon drills and battle katas before the other students arose. It was a peaceful time and allowed her a chance to relax and prepare herself for the morning practice drills while also maintaining her old combat habits as a Wych. This particular morning as she slipped into the yard the three captive suns in the sky overhead were still dim and shadowed, not yet prodded to wakefulness by the solar cells they were entrapped within. A light mist curled about her slippered feet as she walked across the smooth black gravel.

When she arrived in the yard, however, it was occupied. Zak Phaer’irr sat upon a small collapsible folding chair. His klaive resting across his lap as he worked over its edge with a sharpening crystal, the rasping sound of the finely honed metal slicing along the hardened surface cutting eerily through the pre-dawn darkness. He still wore his black armor, but his skull helmet sat at his feet, the mirrored lenses staring at her, the skull mask leering wickedly.

His features were firm and noble of bearing. His short black hair had a few touches of silver at the temples and a silvery-white streak slightly off from the middle on his right side, the mist was catching in the strands and leaving silvery droplets glistening in the darkness. He was handsome too, the aristocratic lines of his face not marred by age save for a few small crow’s feet near his eyes and some small laugh lines around the edges of his mouth though he rarely seemed to laugh, instead having a slight, tight-lipped, half-smile that sneaked out occasionally. It was his eyes that still bewitched her though, deep and dark, like bottomless pools on a moonlit night.

Those eyes looked up now, one of those rarely seen half-smiles flickering across his lips as he saw her. Obessa felt a slight flush and tingling warmth at the tips of her ears, but forced herself not to smile back at him. As usual, he spotted any abnormalities, and his eyebrows quirked slightly in question to her.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Tell you what?” His voice was soft and, as always, calm. Not like her own voice, made ragged and husky from the wound on her throat, and too often full of emotion.

“Why did you declare me as your Dathedi?”

“Because I believe you will make an excellent Incubus.”

“And if I don’t, you’ll die.”

“That is the way of the Dathedi.” Zak shrugged slightly as he stood up, setting his klaive down with careful reverence on his seat.

“Why?”

“Because you’d been a slave. The Incubi are paragons of war, and we have never been slaves. It was considered impolitic to bring in such a lowborn applicant even if you only spent one half day as one.”

“That’s the reason I was not to be admitted,” she pressed, stepping forward as she glared at him. “That’s not the reason you chose to name me Dathedi.”

Zak paused before answering, and she became suspicious he was choosing his words a little too carefully as he hid something from her. “I have fought with you, there is no real risk that you will fail.”

“If I do, you will die,” she snapped at him.

“Then don’t fail,” he offered in that maddeningly neutral tone he took sometimes.

Obessa stopped in front of him, not sure whether she wanted to slap him or hold him tightly to her. Her eyes stung slightly and she blinked back the tears. “I don’t mind the risk of failure for myself, but why would you tie your fate to mine? What if I’m not good enough?”

He reached up them, subtly strong hands resting on either side of her face as he tilted her head to look directly at him. His deep, dark eyes looked into hers as he leaned in closer, whispering. “Do you think that this is any different from what it would have been? If you had died here while not my Dathedi do you really think I would have lived on with no wounds of my own? All I have done is admit openly what was already plainly true to me.”

She hugged him then, and he held her tightly in his arms as they sat there in the center of the dark courtyard.

“Xulfryn wishes you ill,” she finally offered, whispering the words into his chest.

“His issues with me are an old story,” Zak shrugged slightly.

“He sees me as a weakness he can exploit to hurt you,” she offered, wondering why this didn’t seem to concern Zak that the most powerful Incubus in the Temple clearly meant him harm.

“Does he?” Zak looked into her eyes, that small half-smile creeping onto his face again. “If that is so, I think he is in for a surprise.” She had to laugh a bit at that. “I have no concerns, let me walk my path as an Incubus and you will walk yours as a Grey, we shall walk together soon enough.”

He kissed her then, and for a little while Obessa didn’t have any concerns either.

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Mon Mar 11 2013, 01:11

That was a thoroughly enjoyable read! Your descriptions of the flesh chambers of the unsettling haemonculus, and the simple, but clear-cut, disciplined ways of the Incubi are really vivid and your characters easy to imagine.

Now, this is an interpretation of my own, but it seems that Zak lives on having accepted his death as inevitable and is prepared for it at any moment, in the stoicism I see absolutely ingrained in an Incubus in a somewhat dark, twisted way. Obessa, one that has had a rough and desperate life, filled with a desire to survive, will take quite some time to learn that as well. Eldar dread death perhaps far more than any other living being, so it makes it all the more impressive how the Incubi accept their mortality as a fact. That skull mask they wear is a twofold message, I think - not only does it offer a quick and accurate prediction of the fate of their opponents, but also shows their awareness of how little it takes for the roles of the hunter and the hunted to be reversed.

Incubi with their starkly different way of life are incredibly fascinating to me in the eternal, desperate struggle for power and survival in the Dark City. I can't wait to read more of your telling about them!

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Mon Mar 11 2013, 02:25

That's an interesting idea and one I hadn't considered, but it holds with my personal vague way of looking at them as well (Dark Samurai...in space!) so I don't disagree at all and like the idea, I may steal some aspects of it Wink

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Mon Mar 11 2013, 15:45

Very interesting. Will keep reading this. Im in the middle of going through Trueborn, but as soon as I have finished that, will come back here.
Also, since im not sure is this some term I dont understand, how long a time is one "cycle"? Is it some DE thing, Warhammer thing?
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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Mon Mar 11 2013, 16:03

@Mngwa wrote:

Also, since im not sure is this some term I dont understand, how long a time is one "cycle"? Is it some DE thing, Warhammer thing?
"Cycle" is a general sci-fi term for a year.

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Tue Mar 12 2013, 17:07

Better than what I've read of the Dark Eldar path series so far. I do like Zak and I hope Obessa cuts that other recruit!

I look forward to more.

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Tue Mar 12 2013, 18:37

I took my time in replying but I have been reading along Very Happy

I feel as though I am seeing inside an Incubus shrine, and I'd be happy to adopt what you do here as canon background. (I know you make it up, but you make it up in a fashion that fits in seamlessly and in an appropriate way.) I'm very much for keeping within canon so this is a compliment Very Happy

I am enjoying reading more of Zak and also Obessa, who is a character whose self-development I have found interesting all the way through your work. It probably also helps that I like them Razz and also Tymeon, whose youthful earnestness is a nice counterpoint to the jaded elders and a good way of giving information without announcing "and now for some exposition".

Dathedi, eh? Someone knows his old lore ... It's a fitting use of the word. Are the colours of the initiates intended to reflect the stages of mourning, being closer to death the higher one proceeds? (Black when someone has just died, changing to grey, then lavender and white as I recall.)

EDIT: A Haemonculus in furry slippers and a bathrobe telling you he's your greatest fan is the second creepiest thing in Commorragh. The creepiest, of course, is him telling you that you make him feel like reattaching things.

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Fri Mar 15 2013, 02:21

@Mngwa wrote:
Very interesting. Will keep reading this. Im in the middle of going through Trueborn, but as soon as I have finished that, will come back here.
Also, since im not sure is this some term I dont understand, how long a time is one "cycle"? Is it some DE thing, Warhammer thing?
Trueborn will certainly add to your enjoyment of this piece I think (and, honestly, this piece has some spoilers for Trueborn) But both are intended as stand alone reads (I hope). Glad you're liking the writing enough to want to undertake both Wink

I keep toying with actually doing a bit of work to spell out some sort of time system based on energy feeds into the captive suns, and also to denote periods of the day (Something like 'Highpeak' when the suns are being mined for the most energy and are shining brightest, to something like 'Dark Rest' or 'Reset' for when they're fully cycled down)

But...I'm lazy, and would rather write about murder, revenge, and skimpy clothing...so...y'know Embarassed

@Cavash wrote:
Better than what I've read of the Dark Eldar path series so far. I do like Zak and I hope Obessa cuts that other recruit!
There will likely be much cutting in the future.

...also dark elf boobies.

@Malys

1. I appreciate the canon comment. I am a strong believer that to write fanfic like this it helps to respect what has come before (something I think certain GW writers could work on... silent )

2. Tymeon is kind of my 'easy exposition' guy, isn't he? I do think he is developing nicely as the story moves forward so hopefully he'll (mostly) give up that hat while still staying true to character. Zak probably gets to spend some time as exposition man as well, ah well. As is usual, I have started this story with characters I was interested in, but am discovering that some of th enew characters (and a few old ones) are already fighting to have some more spotlight time. DOn't worry though, I am an Obessa nad Zak fan, so they will have their time in the limelight.

3. Glad you got the Dathedi bit Wink I'm having a fair bit of fun with old bits of Eldar lore in ths one. As far as the color scheme goes...um, well, to be honest I didn't plan it out quite like what you're thinking (heck, initially there was no plan at all) but looking at it I suspect my vague logic was close to your own. The skull and the Incubi armor certainly represent the awareness of the wearer as an instrument of death. The grey is to represent them learning to give up on their ambitions and individuality. The purple and black robes are to represent a transition from the 'light' of grey (DE not having much white light, natch) to the twilight darkness, to the night, and then finally to the path of death. So, not exactly your thoughts, but your explanation is certainly in a mental path similar to what I was doing - I may even steal it as the explanation later since it sounds nicer than mine Wink

4. More Haems should wear fuzzy slippers, it's very strange that they don't. Neutral

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Sun Mar 31 2013, 04:16

Quote :
Also, he had said ‘was worrisome’ meaning he was unaware of her being dead…which suggested the soul he was looking for was not hers.

Just been re-reading (while waiting for more *nudge* Razz ) and I think this sentence may be missing a Not?

And I like Tymeon. I do think he's more than Exposition Guy, I just enjoyed the way he did it Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Sun Mar 31 2013, 20:26

More will hopefully come sooner rather than later - I just like to get a couple of chapters ahead in case I feel a need to go back and change something. posting it feels very gutsy because it 'locks' me into whatever that draft is.

Actually what's wrong with the sentence is 'was' Rasp'fel had said 'is worrisome' not 'was worrisome' which kind of defeats Mor'osez's whole detective moment there. I'll fix that, and then it should read as intended. Thanks for the sharp eyes!

Edit: also, it just occurred to me what has (and hasn't been) posted at this stage, so it's actually really funny you spotted that mistake, because now it should open up a whole different scope to what may or may not be happening with Rasp'fel's workshop.

In other updates, I do have up through Chapter 3 finished, and I usually work with a two chapter buffer, so once Chapter 4 feels right there should be an update. Hopefully soon.

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Mon Apr 15 2013, 04:20

Chapter 2: The Grey


Welv’ghar smiled eagerly as he stepped into the practice circle with her, his knife was a broad bladed thing, almost more like a meat clever than an actual weapon. She wasn’t surprised that he was the first to step forward, he’d been wanting to fight her since the first day. Up on the catwalks above the practice yard she could see a few of the black robed apprentices and also a handful of Incubi pausing to watch this battle. One of them was Xulfryn Heirarch, and she hesitated a moment to look up at him. Judging by his presence she suspected Ryldnar choosing her as the first to enter the circle had been no coincidence.

He would not find a weakness in Zak through her, she swore quietly.

“Practice duel, to first blood, if either of you delivers the other a mortal wound I will be unimpressed. To have the power to kill, you should also have the power not to kill.” Ryldnar walked in a circle around Obessa and Welv’ghar, speaking softly to himself. “We practice with naked blades because we have the power to control them, if I ever need to put a practice weapon in your hands I’ll take off your head instead to save myself the bother.”

As usual Obessa was left wondering if the off-hand comment was a joke or deadly serious. She had thought that the odd humor of Zak was just his own, but it seemed to be slightly endemic to the whole of the Temple.

“I’m going to take my time with this.” Welv’ghar lifted up his knife in a salute, Kabal style.

Obessa returned his salute with a quick snap of her wrist and waited for the signal. Are’zhai Ryldnar paused for a moment, eyeing each of them. “The victor will face the next opponent in line, I want to see you all fight.” He chopped his hand down to signal the start.
It looked like Welv tensed slightly and started to issue another taunting insult. Obessa wasn’t paying attention to his words though, she moved forward in a flash, kicking up a cloud of gravel with her lead foot as she advanced on Welv. He grunted in surprise, lifting his arms to shield his face and she darted in, flicking her knife delicately across his forearm as she immediately sprang back out of retaliation range.

“Whu-?” Welv blinked in surprise as he glared at her over his crossed arms and then his eyes drifted down to the tiny droplet of blood leaking from the faint scratch on his forearm. “I…you…” He glanced at Ryldnar who shrugged at him.

“First blood, Obessa wins.”

Obessa’s eyes flicked upward to where Xulfryn stood, his expression unreadable behind the gleaming skull helmet he wore, but his back was rigid and his hands clenched. She nodded to him very slightly as she turned back to face her next opponent.


==============================================


“You nearly defeated the entire class by yourself,” crowed Tymeon as he plopped onto the bench next to her. “That’s nearly forty opponents in single battle!” He held up his hand to her, showing off the back of it where she had left a thin curving wound when she had slashed it to make him drop his dagger.

“Thirty-eight,” she noted softly, “you shouldn’t count me or anyone who beat me.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, you only defeated thirty-eight highly talented fighters and not a full forty, how very improper of me.” He laughed as he stirred his bowl of protein paste idly. “I tell you, Obessa, I wish I’d known someone like you before I came here, I could have used you to shorten my inheritance line down from five brothers and sisters to just me…though, I don’t regret this choice, there are few higher callings for an Eladrith Ynneas.”

Tymeon often said things like that. Judging by the way he looked at them, and how he spoke about them, Obessa had decided he was like a young boy infatuated with a first love. To Tymeon the Incubi were the pinnacle of Dark Eldar achievement, ancient warrior poets who waded through foes and practiced ancient codes of conduct from a bygone era that had been the golden epoch of the Eldar.
“Just learn not to drop your guard when you feint left,” she offered as she spooned some of the protein paste into her mouth, wincing at the way the motion pulled against the wound on her side. She wasn’t sure what had hurt more, the knife cutting along her ribs, or the way Xulfryn had nodded slowly when she lay on the black gravel, defeated.

At that thought she glanced over her shoulder at the high table.

The eating rectory was the single largest room in the Temple of Obsidian Lethe, at least the largest Obessa had been into. There were a series of tables set up lengthwise across the room. At the far end of the hall sat the gray robed applicants. Further along was a sea of purple robes, signifying those students who had proved they knew how to fight and had earned the right to train with the klaive. Each of them had been apprenticed to an Incubus and was taught the arts of the order. Closest to the head table was an even smaller area where sat the black robed apprentices. Each had earned the right to carry a klaive by proving basic mastery of the weapon, and also had been given responsibilities that involved training the gray and purple robes and performing other important duties in the temple.

Most important of all, they had earned the right of challenge. When they so chose they could declare a challenge to any Incubus of the temple, and meet them in single combat. If they were able to emerge victorious they could claim their fallen foe’s armor and be allowed to enter battle alongside the warriors of the Temple, though not until they had bested one of the Craftworld Eldar Aspect Warriors in single combat could they truly be called Incubus.

It was an elite honor, and only the finest earned the right to ‘don the skull’ as the Obsidian Lethe referred to it. Other orders sometimes used different names, all depending on their chosen battle armor. The younger orders called it ‘claiming the silver’ or ‘wearing the blades’ in honor of the more modern Incubi armor that was becoming popular, adorned as it was with scything bladed horns. But for an ancient order, one of the first, like Obsidian Lethe, it would always be ‘don the skull’ for the antique skull-faced helmet of the original Incubi orders.

The true Incubi sat at the high table, only a half dozen black armored figures. Though the battle armor was designed to not need to be removed when eating, in order to aid the Incubi when on prolonged missions, those who sat at the high table had removed their masks. Tymeon had known them almost all by name, and had been able to identify them by their armor and trappings alone, even though as far as Obessa could tell they all wore identical uniforms save for Xulfryn and his Hierarch tabard with gilt golden edging.

Xulfryn, Hierarch of the Temple, the highest ranked of the Incubi of Obsidian Lethe was a stone faced figure. His white hair was pulled back from his face, a sharp widow’s peak pointing down between his nettled brows. His eyes were red and oily, like those of some maddened animal, and deep frown and scowl lines were etched on his otherwise youthful seeming face.

Next to him sat Ryldnar, chief swords instructor of the temple. He bore a handful of jagged scars across his age-worn face, and his head had been shaved bald. But there was a slight gleam in his green eyes, and he could often be seen smiling as he jested with his fellows. Obessa had heard him referred to as ‘The Laughing Death’ and he was reputed to be almost as old as the temple itself. He was the only one she could easily spot amongst the others, even wearing his skull, for he wore an ancient Punisher battle sword across his back, never having been enamored by the ‘lesser’ Klaive.

Nearby sat Jarrow. His short cropped hair was a bright blue that matched his eyes. He was debating strategy with dour-faced Myrl as they used some utensils and an empty bowl to discuss some long ago battle they had likely fought in together. Collectively they were known as ‘The Red Tornado of Obsidian Lethe’ and were famed for their battle skills together.

Zak sat at the high table as well, she had tried to catch his eye a few times, though whenever Xulfryn was present he took a studious aloofness towards her. He ate his food quietly, occasionally offering soft remarks to one of the other Incubi. Xulfryn’s oily red gaze often settled on Zak, and Zak would return the look coolly, his dark black eyes betraying no emotion, his stoic face calm and unperturbed.

Her consideration of this was interrupted as Welv’ghar stomped up to the table and dropped into the seat across from her. His scared face twisted up in a scowl of consideration as he eyed her with dangerous red eyes.

“You’re fast.” He lifted up his arm to show her the scabbing wound on his forearm. “But wait till the sword duels this afternoon, then we’ll see how we match up there. Incubi fight with swords, not little daggers anyway.”

“Incubi fight with klaives,” offered Tymeon, though Welv ignored him.

“Incubi fight with many weapons.” The words came from behind her and Obessa glanced over her shoulder to see who had spoken. The slender friend of Welv, with the khol markings under his eyes had a knowing smirk on his sleek features as he slid into the seat next to her. “I think Welv wants to fight you because he’s forgotten how to flirt with girls.”

Welv grunted as he glanced at his friend, “I want to fight her, Tilt, because she made me look stupid.”

“I hardly see how that’s my doing,” she offered dryly. Behind her she heard Tymeon snort in amusement. Welv’s face turned a dark shade of purple as he stood up. Tilt held up a hand to restrain him though, khol-lined eyes flicking up to glance at him for a moment. The scar-faced Kabalite snarled as he slowly eased back down into his seat. Tilt’s gaze drifted back to Obessa, that private smirk still on his face.

“I get the feeling that you aren’t exactly scared of poor Welv, and he tries so hard to scare the people he meets.”

“If I’m scared of anyone shouldn’t it be you?” Obessa motioned down to the wound on her side. “You left me a painful suggestion in that direction.”

“You were tired after fighting the others,” offered Tilt with a small shrug, “I just got lucky.” Obessa highly doubted that. She’d seen Tilt on the practice yard. His lean arms and slim build seemed to have surprising strength as he moved and twisted during their brief duel. His hands had held his twin knives lightly, seeming to almost sway in time with them. He claimed to have grown up on the streets, risen up through the ranks of some local gang, but she had seen his supple and soft hands, and the genteel way he handled his food. If he had ever run through the back alleys or extracted protection payments from a slave house than Obessa was a mon’keigh.

“So, are you better with a sword or a knife,” she asked.

Tilt smirked at her as he took up a spoonful of protein paste. “I guess you’ll find that out soon enough.”


==============================================

“Do you even know a sword?”

Ryldnar walked across the yard towards her, the skulls at his belt clinking and clacking as he approached. Obessa and thirty-nine other students stood in the black sands of the courtyard, their grey robes fluttering in the soft breeze, a slim, slightly curving, sword gripped in each of their hands with a long polished black handle that could work for either a single hand or double grip. Currently Obessa stood in front of Tilt. He had won the knife melee and earned the right to start with the sword, and she had been eager enough to be first to step forward to challenge him.

“What are you doing wrong?”

Ryldnar was always like this. He would not shout, indeed, Obessa had never heard him raise his voice. When he spoke, students were quiet and listened, and thus he did not need to be loud. He also never sounded angry, just disappointed, very disappointed. In many ways that was the worst of it, it made her feel like she should be performing to this level he expected, even though she was unsure what it was.

“I apologize to my Are’zhai,” she said, using the ancient words for Bladesmaster. “I do not know what I am doing wrong.”
He reached out, taking hold of her hand that was holding her blade, he pulled it out in front of her, looking at it and then at her as he released his hold. “What are you doing wrong?”

“My grip is wrong?” She glanced down at it, unsure. She held the sword the way she had learned to in the Wych Arenas. She glanced at the other students, noting that a handful even had the same grip. As usual, it felt like Ryldnar was focusing on her for some reason. She shook her head, unsure.

Ryldnar snapped his fingers. One of the black robed apprentices stepped forward to offer him another sword, though this one was only half as long and half as thick as the blade Obessa held, indeed it more resembled a long knife. Ryldnar took it up, moving it in front of his skull-mask helmet in a battle salute.

Obessa snapped up her own sword, bringing it up in a defensive posture. Ryldnar’s attack was whip fast, snapping up to her left side. She parried it, but then his blade was gone, humming in from the right. She shifted to parry there as he stepped to her left and her exposed flank. She snarled as she brought her sword back around to stab out at him, and was rewarded with a stinging snap of his blade across her cheek. She tasted blood in her mouth and felt the painful sting of split flesh where he had slashed her cheek open. Ryldnar stepped back from her, handing off the short blade to the black robed apprentice once more.

“What are you doing wrong?”

She stood mute in front of him, unsure what he wanted.

“Exit the circle, you have lost this bout already.” He turned his back on her and walked away. “Next student!”

Obessa could see some of the other students smirking at her, and a quick glance up at the observation walkways revealed that Xulfryn was there as well, his skull mask unreadable, but his gaze locked on her. She bowed to Tilt as she slowly backed out of the practice circle. Welv stepped forward next, an eager gleam in his eye as he raised his sword in salute to Tilt.

“So that could have gone better,” offered Tymeon as she joined him in the waiting ranks of Grey Robes.

“Could it have gone worse?”

“Certainly, Are’zhai Ryldnar has been known to kill students in practice.” Tymeon smiled at his own jest.

“You fill me with such hope for my future accomplishments.” Obessa watched as Welv fenced with Tilt. She was forced to admit, Welv was much better with the sword than he was with the knife. Tilt moved about him in a delicate dance, Welv’s jagged cuts and sharp ripostes making a razor edged maze that Tilt appeared to be carefully navigating as he waited for his moment. Welv had a smile on his face even as Tilt snapped out a sharp jab that caught him in the shoulder, sending the big man staggering back.

“They’ve fought before, haven’t they?” Tymeon glanced over at her and motioned to the two men.

“I would say so.” She glanced over at him curiously. “Why do you ask.”

“There are many reasons to enter an Incubi Temple, some more for honor, some for desire, and some for…other reasons.” Tymeon turned back to her. “Why did you join? You were clearly well trained in a Wych Cult at some point, even I can see that.”

“I had reason to wish to leave.”

“You shouldn’t do that,” Tymeon suggested.

“Do what?”

“Answer a question with an unclear answer that hints at something deeper, it makes it clear you have something you wish to hide, which tells me there is information I could exploit if I wished to. My father taught me few lessons worth remembering, but that is one of them. Don’t worry though, I don’t want to harm you, there is no profit in it for me. At least…until I find profit in it, I suppose.”

She frowned at him, Tymeon just smiled again.


==============================================


Obessa was in the practice yard after lights out again. Her feet made muffled noises as she moved across the black sandy gravel. The sword in her hands hummed and moaned softly as it cut through the air. She had to be better, she knew. She was failing at something, she just didn’t know what. She vaguely found herself wishing Zak was here. Not that she would want him just to answer her confusion for her, but at the very least he could probably point out one or two flaws in her sword-work, and perhaps even give her a sparring partner.
Her breath hissed out between her teeth, clouding about her in the chill night air. Her cheek still tingled from where the dermal regenerator gel had sealed it up after Ryldnar’s stinging blow, an annoying reminder of her failure. As she turned on her heel, performing a defensive backhand slash, she spotted a figure standing near the archway entrance to the practice yard. She drew up short, startled at the presence.

“Students are supposed to be in their cells after first dark.” Master Ryldnar stepped out of the shadows, his armored feet making soft crunching sounds as he walked across the gravel of the yard. His skull mask stood out from his dark armor starkly, seeming to almost be floating towards her.

“I apologize, Are’zhai.” She dropped to her knees and pressed her head to the ground. “I felt I needed the practice.”

“Why?”

She glanced up at him. “Do you think I know a sword yet?”

“No.” His voice was emphatic and clear, with no hesitation.

“Then that is why I need practice.”

“Dancing about in meaningless smotions will not help you,” he announced softly, his voice hissing out quietly from inside the skull. He reached behind his back, the ancient Punisher Battle Sword sweeping out into his hands via a deadly fast underslung draw, a motion that looked as effortless as breathing to him. The Punisher was an elegant blade of an older era, and few Incubi still wielded them. It was a long battle staff with jagged spikes arrayed around a padded grip. Each end of the staff had recurved blades facing opposite directions, each fueled by an independent power generator to produce a charged power field around the razor sharp edges, allowing the Punisher to slice through steel and stone as easily as flesh. With a dull hum the power fields rose to life, creating a faint shimmer of charged particles along the blades.

Obessa raised her own blade into a cautious guard position. “Is this a new lesson?”
Ryldnar’s answer was a sharp thrust with his blade, Obessa deflected it and then quickly snapped her sword upwards as he brought the back end of the staff around in a sharp downward strike. Her knees buckled slightly from the power of the blow and she realized he was not going gently.

The Punisher crackled as he swept it through a searing series of blows, sweeping the battle staff around him as though it weighed little more than a light stick, but each of his blows sent a shock of force through her that threatened to numb her hands and batter her from her feet. She fell back before the onslaught, never feeling she was in position or able to manage a counterstrike.

Obessa suddenly wondered if this was a sparring match, or something more deadly serious. Would Xulfryn arrange to have her murdered within the temple to ensure her failure? Would he have control over someone like Ryldnar to serve as his executioner? She suddenly regretted not paying more attention to Tymeon when he was prattling on about the various politics within the temple. Ryldnar’s face was unreadable behind his mask, but his blows were not slowing, and indeed seemed to be coming harder and faster now. She swung her blade in a desperate and wild swing just to buy a half breath of space between them.

She turned and ran from him.

Behind her she could hear Ryldnar pursuing, his armored feet heavy on the gravel. She was running straight towards the door to the apprentices’ cells, but the door was closed and the instant she paused to swing it open he would be upon her exposed back. She paid careful attention to his footfalls, making sure he didn’t fall too far behind her as she neared the door.

She sprang up, her foot meeting the door as she continued to run up it and the wall. Behind and below her Ryldnar’s Punisher snapped out, catching nothing but air as she backflipped off the wall, arcing through the air over him. He looked up, his skull mask gleaming as she lashed out at him in midair with a few brutal slashes that he had to duck and parry. She landed with a crunch behind him, already pressing her attack with a few thrusts and cuts. His Punisher moved quickly though, already back in a proper guard position. However, now with his back to the door he was hampered for space to swing it properly and with the same speed. The same held somewhat true for her though, as she realized she had stepped in too close to him and it was hampering her own swordwork.

She eased back a step, a move which allowed him to lash out with a sharp slice of his Punisher. Her parry met his swing in a flash of light, bright sparks flaring off the Punisher as, with a shrill *ping*, her sword was shattered into two pieces. Obessa ducked his next swing, stepping in close to him again, just treating the broken sword like a knife. Now they met once more in a furious tempo of blows, and this time Obessa felt that Ryldnar’s pace was not as impressive, she was better prepared to meet him, and was moving her position too much to allow him to bring his heavier weapon into play.

Then, as suddenly as it had started, it was over.

Ryldnar dropped his guard and stepped away, twisting the Punisher up across his shoulders to slide into place with its magno-clamps on his back with a sharp click. Obessa stood in front of him, panting for breath, holding the jagged remains of her broken sword, unsure if he had been trying to really kill her for Xulfryn and had stopped because she was better than he thought, or if he had stopped because he felt the duel was over even though it had reached no clear conclusion. If Ryldnar felt anything it was impossible to tell, his skull mask and the reflective lenses over his eyes revealed nothing. When he spoke, he sounded bored and disappointed.

“Do you even know a sword?”

Obessa was left uncertain what to even say. Ryldnar shook his head, turning on his heel he walked back into the shadowy tunnel entrance from which he had emerged, leaving her confused and alone once more.

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Cavash
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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Thu Apr 18 2013, 14:42

Wow, you really know how to write a good fight scene, Thor. That was a very interesting chapter. That Ryldnar fellow is intriguing and I am looking forwards to more.

Very good work, as usual.

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Thu Apr 18 2013, 23:25

Now I finally have a notification I have enjoyed it too! Very Happy

I suspect Obessa may be thinking slightly too literally. Maybe. I look forward to finding out!

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Sat Apr 20 2013, 18:59

@Cavash wrote:
Wow, you really know how to write a good fight scene, Thor. That was a very interesting chapter. That Ryldnar fellow is intriguing and I am looking forwards to more.

Very good work, as usual.
Thank you, fight scenes are usually fun to write, especially with the acrobatic speed of the DE.

Ryldnar is hopefully an interesting character, he has a major role or two left to play in this story, that's for sure.

@Lady Malys wrote:
I suspect Obessa may be thinking slightly too literally. Maybe. I look forward to finding out!
Obessa does like to overthink things sometimes. I think she might puzzle out an answer soon though...of course, before then we need to see Mor'osez doing what she does best.

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Sat Apr 20 2013, 20:28

Yes we do! Chainsaw-wielding Dark Eldar with Haemonculus fanboys always make my day! Very Happy

... so very, very wrong as a sentence.

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Wed May 15 2013, 01:00

I have catched up only now. Splendid chapter, the fight was very well written. It seems to me that Obessa is still fighting a little too much like a Wych with a knife, rather than an Incubus with a sword.

Can't wait for the next chapter!

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Sun Jun 02 2013, 19:50

@Siticus the Ancient wrote:
I have catched up only now. Splendid chapter, the fight was very well written. It seems to me that Obessa is still fighting a little too much like a Wych with a knife, rather than an Incubus with a sword.

Can't wait for the next chapter!
I think someone has noticed something that Obessa may need to work on Wink

Next chapter should be very soon, probably about two weeks - tops. Sort of depends on my work schedule. The chapter after that is also in final processing stages, so maybe two of them will come fairly close together, which is always nice.

In other news I may have fallen in love with another of my minor characters who is now likely to worm up into a larger role, really, two of them.
i need to be careful about doing that, I'm supposed to control them, not vice-versa.

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Mon Jun 03 2013, 02:18

It happens. You end up fond of the little buglers. They're like puppies.

Good to see you're still working on this, Thor, I was getting ready to give you a slightly plaintive prod for news Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Incubi    Tue Jun 04 2013, 03:58

It's slow going, because the reality of the situation is I'm telling two complete stories (Obessa's and Mor'osez's) and combining them. There's a reason the chapters currently fluctuate back and forth between thei tales...and will continue for some time doing so. Then there's the added complication of trying to pace the two stories appropriately as well.

That said, I'm not sure I could get away breaking them up...but I may need to trim down some of the sub plots to try to keep the thing manageable.

I actually have quite a lot written/plotted - it's just putting it together functionally hat slows me down.

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