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 A Red Hand Weeps

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Bejain
Slave


Posts : 3
Join date : 2011-07-27

PostSubject: A Red Hand Weeps   Tue Aug 02 2011, 00:40

First off, thank you for reading this. In this short story I have tried to encapsulate a series of ideas about how the dark Eldar live, trade, work and die. Even touching upon what might motivate them in their actions. The story is really the forward to a much great idea tracing the rise and fall of a kabal and those around it.

Any comments and thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I have tried to do my best to structure it and even used spell check! So I hope you enjoy it.



A Red Hand Weeps



The promenade was a dangerous place, running along one of the smaller outflows of the grand canals; it was full of the runoff from the drug factories upriver. While the canal was filled with perfumed narcotics and delicate contact hallucinogens at it source near the flesh palaces of the Trueborn and towers of the Kabals by the time it had run this far it was a dangerous multicoloured flow, with more than a few corpses floating in it, and by the time it had flowed past the Haemonculus covens it would be better for dissolving bone than bathing in.

Along its banks, Raidmasters offered work; trinket sellers tried to pass of common gems as soulstones; blade sharpeners worked their tools to a razor edge and a team of corpse harvesters dragged bodies from the canal with hooked pikes, avoiding the Hellions who mock fought each other above the chemical stream. The banks teamed with all those who sold to the lowest in the city. Rushing past, eyes down, slaves ran about their masters business being careful not to draw attention. Small groups of kabalite Eldar would talk as they walked, sharing gossip, while Wracks glanced at the wares on sale searching for items of interest. But all, slave and Eldar alike parted before the pair of Trueborn marching forward, a skinny Eldar between them, his eyes focused on a warrior and wyche a little way ahead of him.

The Wyche looked back at him.

“Oh look, it’s Grungel, again.” Tahlalia said wirily looking over the shoulder of the warrior in front of her.

“Reborn again?” Drukhar replied with mock exasperation, “Will his father never get bored of wasting souls on that whelp?” He turned to face the direction Tahlalia was looking.

Grungel strode towards them, flanked on either side by two trueborn guards, blasters held close to their chests, their off-white armoured helms declaring their stature and allegiance. Grungel, clad in fine ghostplate armour, held a bare venom blade in his hand, catching Drukhar’s eye he raised the blade and pointed it at him.

“Oh by the Muses! Again? How many times do I have to kill him?” Drukhar reluctantly drew his blade, a long straight black ore blade, no poison, no inlayed technology; it was just a simple sword.

“You know this blade Grungel!” he shouted above the noise of the crowed, “It holds the same death you have had seven times already, the same cold, dull death”

“Not this time Drukhar, no more dull deaths for me, no more! This time you die, poison will burn your veins” Grungel shouted back.

With a nod from their charge the trueborn guards pushed the protesting revellers aside forming a circle of spectators. Grungel on one side, Tahlalia and Drukhar on the other.

“Well this is your fight not mine Drukhar, I’ll watch your back.” Drukhar raised an eyebrow at Tahlalias’ words, she smiled at him “I’ll watch your back; I didn’t say I would do anything.” She kissed him lightly on the tattoo of a bleeding heart on his cheek and move back into the crowd of spectators with a smile.

Drukhar gestured with his black blade at Grungel. “Come and taste it again boy! It will taste ever so familier, I shall bury it in your heart and your death will be the same as everyone I have given you so far.”

“How dare you keep insulting me like this? Fight me! Even if you kill me, give me a proper death, give me something to taste.”

“You are not worth my skill boy, you shall have the same death”

“You insult me again and again. Me, the trueborn son of the Archon of the Burn Hand!” He turned to the crowd and raised his arms. “We all want death, let it be a grand death.”

“No, let it be dull, you deserve no adventure here...Boy” Drukhar sneered as he said the last word.

“I am not a boy!” Grungel roared as he span and charged.

The first strike was so clear to Drukhar that he didn’t even raise his sword, just stepping aside at the last moment and letting Grungels momentum carry him forward. The very tip of his blade cut into the face of one of the onlookers. Grungel span towards Drukhar sweeping his sword in a wide and low, turning his back on the screaming Eldar clutching his ruined face as he died.

Again Drukhar just stepped back avoiding the swing. Carefully judging his opponent, these wild swings were too wild, even Grungel was not that bad a swordsman, but he was just as dangerous and deceitful as any Eldar.

Drukhar ducked another swing, stepped inside Grungels guard and delivered a blow to his chest with the flat of his hand pushing him back against the ring of spectators, who in turn thrust him back into the fight. Grungel half stumbled back, Drukhar raised his sword, a smile forming on his lips as he pointed he blade at Grungels heart. Grungels stumble turned into a twist, he pivoted on his left foot and from a ring in his offhand appeared a cold blue micro filament blade, only a hairs width. If it wasn’t for its slight glow Drukhar wouldn not have even seen it. Raising his sword just in the last instant the micro filament shattered against his blade. Deadly but brittle the microfilament was rendered useless.

A wordless cry of rage came from Grundel as Drukhar smacked him across the face with the flat of his blade.

“So no new skill, just new tricks” Drukhar goaded him

“I will eat your soul Drukhar, I will hear your screams for a hundred years as I flay you for bed sheets, I will turn your feet into doorstops, your hands into door handles, I will decorate my chamber with your body!”

Drukhar feigned to the left, then faked a blow to his right and brought the blade straight inside Grundel’s guard; a moment of shock was all Grundel’s face could register before the blade buried itself in his heart.

Grundel’s body fell backwards off his sword. Dead before he even hit the stones of the promenade. The Trueborn guards stepped forward and with obvious reluctance picked up the corpse and started back for their Kabals tower.

“Do you think his father will ever just let him die?” Tahlalia asked as she stepped forward from the dispersing crowd.

“I really hope so, I can only draw comfort for the fact that he would lose so much face in having someone else kill me at this point that his father would never let him hire an assassin.” He replied.

“Do you think we can get back to work now? We need to find a raid and attach ourselves to it. Who knows you might even make enough to buy a real sword?”

“Hey! There’s nothing wrong with my sword, it cuts like anything else.”

“Yah, but we get a job based on our appearance, and that sword doesn’t look very flashy does it?”

“No, but what I just did with it looks rather good, so now we go over to that Raidmaster who was watching and sort out a job.” Drukhar pointed towards an Eldar on a platform flanked by a pair of Scourges, holding confidential lists of upcoming raids and the mercenaries required. Each scroll placed in a cylinder encoded with complex poisons, the antidotes known only the intended recipients. Standing with his back to the canal the crowed gave him room, avoiding the ever watchful Scourges’. Even the Hellions racing along the canal avoided invading his space. No one would be willing to draw the attention of the servants of the eyries.

“A Raidmaster? You know this will not pay much.” Tahlalia complained

It was only the smaller Kabals who required outsourcing for raids, meaning smaller targets and less returns. But these high risk, small reward jobs were all a warrior could really hope for without being a member of a kabal.

“Well, unless you plan to start dancing and I begin whoring we don’t have a great deal of choice.”

They started walked over to the Raidmaster. Pushing their way through the crowds, Tahlalia grabbed Drukhars arm.

“Remember,” She hissed “we didn’t make enough on the last raid to pay for a resurrection contract. So don’t sign us up for anything stupid.”

Drukhar nodded and took the last few steps to the Raidmaster platform.

“Work?” He inquired, not even looking at them as they approached from the crowd, still focused on his scrolls, making notes.

“Yep. Looking for a realspace raid. Nothing internal, no bodyguard or courier work.” It had been so long since the pair had bathed in death that the added risk of a realspace raid was quickly being outweighed by the need to refresh their souls.

“Her too?”

“Me too.” Tahlalia replied.

“Ok, one warrior, one wytch. Lets see.” He scrolled through his lists, murmuring to himself. “I have a raid that needs some squads bulking out. Leaves soon if you are in a rush?”

“Sounds interesting.” Drukhar said.

“Pay is, .3% for you and .4% for the Wyche of the total take, with a bonus of 15% of value for any personal trophies. Paid in Chits of the Kabal of the Red Hand.”

The Kabal of the Red Hand was one of the smallest in the great city, reflected in the size of its chits. The smaller the Kabal, the lower the value of the chits it would guarantee against its slave holdings. The more powerful the Kabal the great the value of its smallest chits would be. It was an unfortunate truth for the weaker Kabals that often they could not afford to buy in bulk and so they required smaller denominations for trade. The Kabal of the Black Heart would issue no chit worth less than one to one on the life of a slave so great was its power.

“That’s low.” Tahlalia complained, raising an eyebrow as she edged forward trying to see what the Raidmaster was reading. Drukhar placed a hand on her chest and held her back.

The Raidmaster clutched the scroll closer to his chest and scowled at the two of them. “It’s low because it’s a big raid, with weak opposition. So you have a good chance of making it back with a big haul and even making it back alive.”

Tahlalia glanced at Drukhar and tilted her head to the side and shrugged.

“Your call, flesh is flesh.”

Drukhar looked at the Raidmaster who was holding his quill waiting for an answer.

“Ok, put us down for the raid.”

“Delightful, the raid is sure to be a success now.” He replied sarcastically. “Pier 17 at the Dark Star Port, be there by seventh cry of deadsuns eclipse.”

Drukhar glanced up at the enslaved suns of Chamorah, the pitiful orbs held in the chains of gravity designed millennia ago to provide energy and the false light which bathed the great city in perpetual twilight. The deadsun, named after the Kabal who captured it, was just passing behind the Posion-Thorn sun, likewise named after its captors, the raid would leave when six more suns had eclipsed it.
As a sun would reach the end of its life the Kabals powerful enough to lead a sunraid would vie for the right to capture a sun. Thereby insuring their name would be known by all who toiled in the twilight of the city, and receive the humiliated thanks of all other failed applicants. The risk of such public humiliation put off all but the most powerful or foolhardy Kabals. The Kabal of the Deadsun had been the most recent to receive the thanks and glares of the bested Kabals.

“Come on, we have just enough time to equip ourselves, buy some drugs and be there a bit early to find our units.”

The two of them walked back into the maelstrom of Eldar. Behind them the Raidmaster made a final note on a scroll, rolled it up and sealed it in a cylinder. Handing it to a Scourge who cut his hand on one of the sharp edges, showed the Raidmaster the bleeding hand and took to the sky. The recipient of the message would be waiting with the antidote, insuring not only that it reached its intended recipient, but that it did so in a timely manner.

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

The Slave bowed and exchanged the vial of antidote for the message cylinder. The Scourge plugged the vial into one of his many injection ports and depressed the injector before taking to the skies again.
The Slave clutched the cylinder to her chest and rushed back to her masters’ private viewing booth. The arena vibrated to the roar of the crowed as another life was snuffed out for their entertainment. She ran through the corridors which circled the entirety of the top level, multiple locked doors led to the wealthier patron enjoying the performances, their slaves stood outside the doors waiting to collect messages or deliver them to the Scourges’ who would circle the perches designed for them on the exterior of the arena. For the wealthy the area was a place for work as much as for pleasure, and communication was the key to intrigue. To be slow in the delivery would invite more scars and pain to a body grown old in short, tortures years.

Reaching her masters door she inserted the cylinder into the slot by the door, a brief sound of suction and the message was gone. She turned and stood, waiting for her next task.

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

Freyja reached lazily behind her and picked up the cylinder that had just been delivered. It sprang open as the arcane machine recognised her touch. She read the message contained within, examined the list of numbers, unit compositions, transport capacity and once she had concluded her study of the scroll turned to the Eldar reclining next to her.

“The raid quota is filled my Lord.”

She dropped the cylinder to the floor and stretched out on her chase lounge. Even though she was a noted Succubus she wore no armour at the arena now. Dressed only in light silks which left her entire right side bare but for a few skin belts which wrapped around her torso and upper arm, to what level they were decorative and to what level they actually held on her diminutive clothing would be hard to guess. Her skin was the perfect pale of marble, except for a line of pale pink, a scar; it ran from her ankle to her inner thigh. The line of pink against her otherwise perfect body all the more noticeable for the series of complex swirls tattooed all around it, highlighting her imperfection.

She inhaled as the crowd cheered another death, like everyone she felt the tingle of death, like a refreshing mist, settle on her skin. Her long, elegant face was framed by shinning golden hair which ran to her waist, braided with razor wire.

In the arena the young Succubus licked the Orkish blood from her blade before leaping back towards the braying hoard of aliens that chased her.

“She kills well, her dance is graceful, and she plays to audience.”

Freyja said in the hope of some response from her Lord, his joy in the arena had been waning for years now.

“I draw sustenance from her kills, but they are so depressing.”

“Depressing my Lord?”

The Archon rolled to face her, propping himself up on one arm. In contrast to herself he was heavily armoured and armed, red tinted armour plates glowed in reflected light, a dull green gleam escaping from the gaps where his armour joined. Blades strapped to his calves, a pair of blast pistols held in a back holster, and those were only the visible weapons.

“Why do you come here Freyja? Why do they come here?” He swept his arm out towards the crowd.

“To bathe in death, to refresh ourselves, to know what it is to live, to see the alien and the weak crushed beneath our races strength.”

“They come here because we all want to die.”

“My Lord?” She frowned at him.

“There is a reason I never miss one of the truly inspired and unique killers preform, and it is not to watch them in victory. Let us think of Lilith, man and women alike kill for the chance to see her perform, to bathe in the death she brings. Is it because she is graceful?”

“Perhaps the most graceful of all who have ever entered the arena, my Lord. Her Victories are varied and almost perfect in there execution.”

“But that is the core of the problem, her victories are almost expected. Every man, women and child here would thrill at her victories, but that thrill is always tinged with disappointment. We expect her to win now, so we lust to see her cut down. Familiarity breeds contempt, her victories, as varied and glorious as they are, they are expected, her death is what is hoped for now. Who would miss one of her performances? When there is the chance it would be her last. Even if she was reborn afterwards, she would not be the same, she would be as good as dead to the crowd.”

Another cheer went up from the crowd as the succubus somersaulted over the back of a large dark green brute cutting it achilles-tendon as she rolled away.

“We want them to die, for all that they give us, we want them to die. We want to feel that moment when something wonderful, beautiful, talented but above all, irreplaceable, is removed from the universe. If they denied that to us by not dying we would hate them. That is why we will never regain our glory in the universe, we all want to die.”

Freyja sat in silence, it was rare that the Archon would reveal so much of his inner musing, and she would not risk missing any information about his thoughts, one would never know when it would come in useful. Was this a weakness being revealed in his character, a morbidity to be turned against him? Perhaps his boredom would even lead him to joining a Coven.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the Arcon standing.

“I will lead this raid personally, I need to taste something real.”

He opened the chamber door, the slave fell to her knees, face pressed to the floor, as he walked past her. Behind him Freyja turned as the crowd roared, it sounded fainter this time.

Ecclesiast, Archon of the Red Hand strode from his private viewing booth, loyal slave at his heals. Muttering to himself

"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the suns."

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Zehra
In Exile


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PostSubject: Re: A Red Hand Weeps   Thu Aug 04 2011, 00:55

Very nice opening!!!
I look forward to more!!!
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Thor665
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PostSubject: Re: A Red Hand Weeps   Thu Aug 04 2011, 03:01

Very solid flavor.
My favorite touch is you have them all refer to each other as Eldar - pure win.

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Bejain
Slave


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PostSubject: Re: A Red Hand Weeps   Fri Aug 05 2011, 11:00

Any tips on inproving it? Anything that felt disjointed, or unclear?

I am trying to improve on this style for the next chapter

Thanks.
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Thor665
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PostSubject: Re: A Red Hand Weeps   Fri Aug 05 2011, 18:52

Well, you definitely still need a bit of grammar and spelling work, but you're aware of that.

Also, the 'interesting death' part is probably worth expanding on. I got the general gist that at least there was some solace in dying if you got something interesting for the experience, but it really wasn't expanded on, nor was there a clear reasoning for Drukhar to be killing him so rudely.

I think your locale and character descriptions are your strong point, you really immersed the reader in the story, but probably some more character development is needed vis'a'vi motivation.

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