THE DARK CITY
Would you like to react to this message? Create an account in a few clicks or log in to continue.



 
HomeDark Eldar WikiDark Eldar ResourcesNull CityRegisterLog in

 

 Trueborn - completed

Go down 
+23
bleum937
cbosw5
Painbiro
sammun
PartridgeKing
ftayl5
Cavash
Zehra
Lord Clazaryn
KnightSeerValkia
red_head
Phototoxin
Anggul
Lady Malys
Dez
Skjalgepalg
Deneris
Gobsmakked
Lazarus
Raneth
Hydra
Incubi Death
Thor665
27 posters
Go to page : Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  Next
AuthorMessage
Lady Malys
She Who Must Be Obeyed
Lady Malys


Posts : 1102
Join date : 2011-05-18

Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Trueborn - completed - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeTue Nov 20 2012, 14:52

Well, anyone who has managed to get as far as 'slightly aging' in the Dark City is obviously, to anyone with less arena sand between her ears, not someone to take lightly Wink If Mor'osez is still a Bloodbride then it must be because she can keep the position.

Aha! I shall enjoy my partial cookie even more Very Happy And I shall eagerly await the revelations that there might be ...

_________________
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 BbGpM5p
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Tdcawardssigcombosmalys
~ Aim to please, shoot to kill. ~
Back to top Go down
Thor665
Archon
Thor665


Posts : 5526
Join date : 2011-06-10
Location : Venice, FL

Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Trueborn - completed - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeThu Nov 29 2012, 21:09

Chapter 21: The Death of Tael - Part 2

Archon Douraal watched as the invaders descended from the sky. The Hellions were already darting in and amongst his guests, tearing and cutting at the cream of the nobility that had come to his party. Kabalite Warriors swarmed out of their barracks to give battle to the invaders, and fought to establish beachheads against the swarming throngs of wild gangers and howling Hellion swarms. He could hear noises from his pleasure gardens, and the excited snarls and cries of the exotic beasts there as they let their presence be known to the foolish gangs that had landed in the outer ring.

Sharess watched his expression and felt a thrill wash through her body at the sight of it. Her face flushed slightly in pleasure.

“You took down the generators.”

“I did.” Tael stepped up to the edge of the balcony and let out a sharp whistle as he held up his hand. One of the passing Hellions zoomed lower, tossing him a hellglaive. Tael caught the bladed polearm easily as he turned to look at Douraal. “It’s time we settle this, old man.”

“I quite agree,” Douraal’s voice was low and calm, and that only excited Sharess more as she realized he was not yet feeling outmaneuvered. “The throne room?”

“The throne room,” agreed Tael, that haunting smirk of his on his face.

The two of them walked down the hallway, Sharess trailing after them. They each walked close to a wall, keeping their gaze attentively on the other as they marched down the silent and dark halls of the palace. As one they pushed on the gilded doors that swung into the huge throne room. Douraal’s throne was there, on its raised obsidian dais the stark white bone of the chair glinted even in the darkness.

Douraal walked up to it, slowly undoing the clasps of his crimson cape and allowing it to drop to the floor. He pulled forth his sword, the blade coated in a glittering green glow of the self-replicating poisonous virus that inhabited the blade within a thin resistance field. His sleek golden armor shone in the dim phosphorescent glow of the viral poison. His golden Khaine mask looked fearsome in the murky light.

Tael was all smiles, bouncing lightly on the balls of his feet, the small bells on his jester uniform jingling merrily as he twirled the hellglaive around in slow arcs. His icy blue eyes considered Douraal carefully.

“You cannot win here, boy, I foresaw this attack and planned for it.”

“If that is true,” laughed Tael, “why risk fighting me yourself?”

“Perhaps that too is part of my plan, it appears to be part of yours.”

They both laughed, and Sharess hugged herself in eager anticipation as they both advanced.


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


Ben’rik and Wren moved up the steps at a quick run, though Ben’rik’s run was a little wobbly thanks to the rather potent bottle the menial had handed him. He really should have bothered to ask what it was before having Wren rip the man’s throat open, because whatever it was it tasted amazing and kicked like a Clawed Fiend.

They entered into a wide chamber which housed a massive dining table and a balcony that stretched the length of the hall looking out into the pleasure gardens below. Ben’rik quickly stumbled over to the balcony and looked out upon the battle below and above.

Hellions filled the sky, zipping through the baroque architecture of the palace. Some were hurling firebombs down on the buildings, others let out wild bursts of splinter pod fire as they swooped past windows, most had descended to sweep along just above the heads of the people on the ground, lashing out with their hellglaives to hook the blades into defenders and rip them open.

Raiders and other pleasure barges had dropped down onto the grounds as well, disgorging the street gangs. They rushed about in undisciplined mobs, catching at nobles and dragging down the lords and ladies by their silken clothing. Their blades flashed in the darkness as they battled the Kabalite Warriors who were fighting to hold their defensive lines. Already it was clear that the looting and raping had begun in earnest.

The skies overhead were a nightmare dance of shadows and darklight beams. Douraal’s air skimmers were fighting a losing battle to the sweeping clouds of the Scourges. Ben’rik could see Glyvius and a brace of his winged brethren landing upon one of the Ravagers, tearing apart the crew of the gunship before pointing it towards one of the gun towers and putting it on maximum thrust as the sprang off its deck, their dark wings spreading wide as they swooped up into the night, illuminated from the explosive fireball of the Ravager exploding as it struck the tower. Already blood was starting to fall like rain, and the Scourges let out haunting screeches of joy as they claimed dominion of the skies over Shattered Soul.

“Don’t move.” Ben’rik glanced over his shoulder slowly to see a squad of eight Kabalite Warriors entering the chamber. They bore the markings and colors of Shattered Soul, and their splinter rifles were pointed directly at him and Wren. “Who are you?”

“Guests,” offered Ben’rik weakly as he raised his hands in surrender, “friends?”

“Death.” Wren’s answer was quiet, though the Kabalite Warriors clearly heard it as they began to laugh. Their leader raised his splinter rifle, pointing it right at the slip of a girl in the bird costume.

They didn’t laugh for long though, as black shapes suddenly poured through the huge balcony window, wafting around Wren as they filled the chamber. Ben’rik cursed as he hurled himself to the floor, above him he could hear the flapping of wings, the screeching of birds, and the inhuman howls of pain from the Kabalites. He peered up from the ground to see all eight of them being flayed alive as the Razorwings descended on them, the hunting birds slashing open flesh and armor as though it was nothing, their black and blue metallic pinions, claws, and beaks shredding them to pieces as the birds fought over eyeballs and other choice bits of meat as they worked their way towards their true goal, the bones. In a matter of a few heartbeats all that remained was churning crowds of black birds and the cracking sound of bones being torn and splintered apart.

Ben’rik looked over to Wren who sat crouched on the railing of the balcony, her pet Razorwing sitting on her shoulder, its dark eyes glaring down at him. Wren’s face was unreadable behind the hooked bird mask she wore but she looked down on him and Ben’rik felt himself suddenly wishing he could burrow down into the floor.

“Good…good job, Wren.” He tried to smile, but it felt brittle.

She looked at him very closely for a moment, her head tilting slowly to the side, the flashing and angry purple streaks of darklight fire casting her in ominous shadows as she crouched on the balcony railing. Ben’rik wasn’t sure when it had happened, but he suddenly became painfully aware that he was no longer her superior. She’d always been dangerous, but also quite controllable. That was all gone now. His only consolation was that, though he had manipulated the silly girl quite a bit, he’d always tried to be subtle and polite about it. He didn’t try to move, and eventually she turned away from him, letting out a haunting screech as she turned and sprang out the window in a billowing swirl of her feathered cloak. The swarm of Razorwings flowed out after her in a skirling wash of bloodstained feathers and dead black eyes.

Ben’rik let out his breath as he slowly stood up, and then took a fortifying swig from his bottle. It would probably be wise to find some handy loot and maybe a saucy wench who wouldn’t fight too much, and then he definitely needed to get out of this madhouse.


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


Cali’q stormed back into the arena, a fresh pair of razorflails in his hands and murder on his mind. He’d already seen the bodies of Annal’se and Kaar’la dragged into the curative workshop he had been being worked on in, as well as the wounded and dismembered Klaviskar twins. He was not going to sit by while his Bloodbrides where sliced to pieces, and he also fully intended to pay back Kyssindree in kind for what she had done to him.

As he reentered the arena he saw naught but chaos around him, a full blown invasion of the palace was going on. But that didn’t matter to him, he was a Bloodbride of Bloodied Kiss, this whole Kabal could burn down around Douraal’s ears for all he cared. He stalked forward, seeing the other Bloodbrides skulking together in a small clump. Beyond them he could see Kyssindree dueling…Obessa?

He approached the Bloodbrides, reaching out he grabbed at the plaited loops of Faeth’lyn’s hair and hauled back on them. She hissed in pain but fought the urge to cry out just to spite him. He sneered down at her and then looked at the others. “What are you all doing here?”

“Mor’osez is hurt,” grunted Cordus, as usual thinking of the other Bloodbrides as something to be protected and dealt with as a cohesive unit. The man was a rampaging moron.

“We thought it best to wait till she recovered enough to help us fight,” added Wyst’till nervously, edging behind Cordus in case his words brought any retaliation from Cali’q.

“I just need a few moments,” mumbled Mor’osez numbly. She was injecting some drugs into her arm, and looking rather lost as she half sat on the ground. Cali’q promptly kicked her in the head, sending her crashing to the ground again.

“You don’t need her, I’m here,” he sneered, “now what is the problem here killing two wyches with three Bloodbrides?”

“Not just wyches,” came Faeth’lyn’s whispered answer as he continued to haul her head around by the hair. She pointed at a dark shape lurking in the shadows and smoke of the fight. “He forbids us to interfere.”

Cali’q considered the lone Incubus standing in the arena, intently watching the duel of the two wyches. He glared down at Faeth’lyn and spat in her face before shoving her away. “Cordus, with me, Wyst’till, to the left side, come in at the same instant.” He started walking forward. “See if that useless bint can manage to throw a few knives or do a few tricks to help us as well.” He stalked forward clanging his blades together as he approached the Incubus. “It might be wise to step aside.”

The Incubus turned around to look at their approach, his klaive resting casually on his shoulder, though Cali’q could spot that he had already placed his feet at the ready, balanced and prepared to attack, defend, or retreat, as needed. He didn’t say anything, but he most assuredly didn’t step aside.

“Cut him apart.” Cali’q smirked as he motioned for the others to start their attack.

Faeth’lyn struck first, a pair of blades snapping through the air for the Incubus’ face, while three more came spiraling in for his belly. The klaive moved in a humming blur as he swung it out, sidestepping some of the knives and deflecting the others as he suddenly moved towards Wyst’till. The Bloodbride snarled as he lunged in low with his short sword, Cordus barreling in from behind with shardnet and Impaler at the ready.

The Incubus parried Wyst’till’s lunge and then angled his blade to drive the point down into the sand. At the same instant he sprang into the air, anticipating the shardnet that was sweeping in to hook his feet, instead all it did was snarl around Wyst’till’s sword. Cordus was fast though, and stabbed up with his Impaler. But the Incubus twisted in midair, his klaive locking with and blocking the Impaler. As he landed he reversed his grip on his blade, rotating it and catching the Impaler in a notch of his sword.

Normally the plot of a sword-breaking notch like that would be to snap smaller and more fragile weapons, but the durasteel shaft of an Impaler was unlikely to be snapped so easily. Thus, with Cordus as the larger and more physically potent of the pair, it should be a simple matter of sheer strength. Cordus grinned as he pulled his spear upwards and then drove down towards the Incubus’ chest.

The Incubus bent like a willow, and suddenly twisted to the side again. As if by magic he freed the Impaler from his klaive as he spun back and away. As he did one of his hands swung his blade around in a tight arc, catching Cordus on the side. Only the banded armor there saved his life, for it slightly deflected the power blade, though the armor still sheared open and as the Incubus pulled his blade out Cordus staggered backwards to a knee, blood spilling from his wound. The Incubus retreated a half step and then turned towards Wyst’till who had just freed his sword.

In one slash Wyst’till’s head left his shoulders, spiraling through the air. The Incubus turned back in time to parry another brace of throwing blades. Faeth’lyn darted forward, grabbing Cordus’ shoulder and hauling the large man back even as he was pulling out a dueling knife and preparing to go at the skull faced Incubus again.

“Impressive.” Cali’q had watched the man’s movements, his mind analyzing them for any weakness. He was sure it was there, he just had to figure out the small gaps, and extrapolate them to learn how to overcome him. “But it will do no good. Do you know who I am?”

“Cali’q, called the Counter.”

“Indeed, and now that I’ve seen your style-“

“One.”

Cali’q paused in mid-sentence. The Incubus was holding up a single finger.

“Pardon me?”

“One.”

“Really? I am a Syren of the Bloodied Kiss, I have slain more opponents in single combat than most have even seen on a battlefield, I can accurately predict how many blows it will take to kill-“

“One.” The Incubus motioned for Cali’q to come forward.

“You can’t kill me in one move!”

“Then you have nothing to fear. Step forward.”

Cali’q licked his lips nervously, his fingers fumbling with his razorflails as he looked at the inscrutable skull mask with reflective eye slits in front of him. The man was good, no doubt, but ‘one’? Preposterous! But, his style was deadly and fast, maybe he had some new maneuver, a certain death maneuver? But Cali’q could probably counter it, couldn’t he? He swallowed and licked his lips again. The Incubi didn’t move a muscle.

When the hand came down on his shoulder Cali’q almost jumped in surprise. He glanced over his shoulder to see the bloody face of Mor’osez. She had retrieved her ungainly mon’keigh chainsword and stood ready next to him.

“The audience is gone,” she offered simply. Cali’q looked around at the carnage around him. She was right. “We were paid to perform at the party. The party is over.” Cali’q looked up into her cold black eyes. He had known Mor’osez long enough to know that nothing scared the woman, though she was cautious and conservative when it came to risking the lives of underlings and herself.

“You’re saying we should run away?”

“I’m saying we should walk to an exit cutting our way through anyone who stands between us and our Cult. I don’t see how dueling an Incubus in service to the Archon we were sent to perform for is remotely worth the bother.”

Behind her he could see Faeth’lyn nodding. Cordus made no motion, holding his knife and bleeding wound and just waiting for an order. Cali’q frowned, glancing back at the Incubus who had returned to watching the dueling wyches. He spat on the ground.

“There will be another time, for you.”

Cali’q turned and motioned for the Bloodbrides to withdraw, let the Shattered Soul take care of its own problems, there was no glory to be had here for him anymore.


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


Kyssindree slowly circled to her right side away from where Obessa held her knife. Not that she was sure it mattered. Obessa had always been too clumsy and stupid to figure out how to fight with a weapon in each hand, but she was equally talented in fighting alone with either hand and had an annoying habit of doing mid-stroke hand switches which were damnably hard to properly trace, which was why Kyssindree currently had a rather painful slash stitched across her inner thigh.

This was starting to remind her of her awful Beastmaster induced nightmare, and Kyssindree shook her head to try to clear away that thought quickly, not enjoying the memory of that dream Obessa defeating her. She just needed to change the dynamic of the battle a bit. Obessa had such a slow head for combat that Kyssindree knew that all she needed was some way to shake things up, and the poor wretch would likely go down easy enough while trying to figure out what was happening. Then she saw it, one of her fallen daggers lying in the sand beyond where Obessa stood. Kyssindree smiled, if she could get to that blade…well, things would get a lot more interesting.

She charged forward, looking to unleash a flurry of slashes before darting past Obessa again. But, the churlish sow stepped into her path, trying to force Kyssindree to fight her. With two blades it really should be a simple contest, but Obessa had become damnably clever and quick. She parried half of Kyssindree’s attacks, and moved to continually force Kyssindree to reposition herself to bring her second blade into play, and by the time she had invariably Obessa was darting around her again.

And single blade to single blade, Kyssindree was begrudgingly beginning to realize, meant that Obessa would win.

Their knives flashed in the darkness, lit only by the flames of the burning palace and the flickering bursts of darkmatter shots. Obessa hadn’t said anything since the battle started. Kyssindree had taunted her, cajoled her, even just screamed random questions, but she had gone dead quiet. Their knives moved in a blur, Kyssindree trying to batter Obessa’s blade to one side or the other to gain an opening. But every time she thought she had found one Obessa would flick the blade over to her other hand, twisting her body out of danger before renewing the attack. She just had to separate her from her blade, and then she could cut her down.

Kyssindree executed a few wild and swirling attacks, big, wide, and flashy. It was risky, but as was expected, Obessa chose to simply step back and away from the shots. If she had been willing to expend more energy or to take a risk she could have stayed closer in and perhaps managed to score a serious hit on Kyssindree. Instead she had given her a perfect means to slip away again, and this time Kyssindree moved towards the fallen blade.

“So predictable, Bessa, so slow, and stupid, and ugly, and predictable.”

Obessa stretched out a small kink in her neck and started slowly stalking forward again, her eyes cold and burning with focused intensity.

“You’re like a dog, a dog so offended that it was kicked to the side because it was boring. I’m sorry I couldn’t show you the love you wanted,” she laughed, “but, I mean, look at you. Your biggest asset is that it amuses your betters to watch the obvious pain and confusion in your big dopey eyes every time we betray you anew, especially since you should have figured it out years ago that it was going to keep happening!”

She laughed as she mocked Obessa, and smiled as her toes found the blade half hidden in the sand.

She paused then, positioning her foot though making it look like she was just preparing for another charge.

“Combine that with an acceptable face, big tits, and solid hips and it makes you slightly worthwhile as a plaything, which is clearly what Ayasha thought you were worth to the Archon. I’ll assure you that you look better in slave silks than you ever did in a wychsuit. And look at me, your ‘best friend’ ever and I can barely stand the sight of your stupid face! You should probably just let me kill you and save everyone the pain of having to talk to you in the future.”

Obessa’s expression remained stoic, but Kyssindree was certain that her words cut deeper and more painfully than the other wych was willing to let show. Kyssindree laughed at her and then suddenly hurled her knife at Obessa’s face. At the same instant she kicked out her foot tossing out the other blade in front of her.

Time seemed to slow for Kyssindree, a mix of adrenaline, the sweet intoxication of all the pain and death around her, and the combat drugs still filling her system. Red sand and the twinkling blade danced in front of her as she charged forward. She reached out a hand, grains of sand bouncing away from her hand as it shot through the air, and caught the spinning blade, once more getting two knives as she sprinted for Obessa.

She could see the other wych snaking around, the sleek muscles glinting in the firelight, the delicate silks dancing around her as she twisted and deflected the thrown knife straight up into the air over her head. A sloppy parry, thought Kyssindree with a smirk, the blade would drop down almost straight and still be a potential risk to Obessa.

Then Kyssindree was there, the knife she had caught still half hidden behind her back, her other knife out in the open as part of a slashing lunge, an obvious threat. Obessa moved very quickly, her upraised arm tossing down her dagger into her lower hand as she parried the slash. The hilts locked and Kyssindree rolled her blade wide, Obessa was caught by surprise as she still didn’t have a proper grip on her blade and both weapons were torn from her and Kyssindree’s grasp.

Kyssindree locked gazes with Obessa and grinned. Red sand was still darting down around them from the cloud Kyssindree had kicked up. Her hidden hand snapped out from behind her back, its blade snaking forward to pierce Obessa’s heart. Kyssindree could already feel the warm rush of blood spurting out across her hand and savored the thought of running the sticky and warm digits across her own body afterward.

Then Obessa caught the knife she had deflected upwards with the hand that had stayed up there waiting to receive it, and rotated her hips slightly to the side to toss off Kyssindree’s lunge.

Her free hand rose up, snatching hold of the billowing wavy curls of Kyssindree’s hair and gripped tightly at the raven locks, pulling Kyssindree up short with a painful stab of white hot pain across her scalp. At near the same instant Obessa’s knife plunged down between her collarbone and shoulder, severing muscles and shearing nerves. Kyssindree let out a hoarse screech as her arm went numb and dropped her blade.

She was pulled further down by her hair, her back meeting Obessa’s knee and she felt a sharp snapping shock as one of her ribs popped from the impact and tore into her lungs. Kyssindree gasped, blood spitting out between her perfect lips as she writhed about helplessly, looking up into Obessa’s deadly calm face and the knife that now rested at Kyssindree’s throat. She coughed again and felt herself go limp as she realized she had been beaten.

Obessa leaned in closely, the sticky sweet smell of her sweat and the oils Douraal had ordered rubbed into her skin mixing with the coppery sharp tang of Kyssindree’s blood. Her lips dropped down towards Kyssindree’s, brushing against them ever so softly and slightly, Kyssindree actually found herself trying to lift her head for the kiss, but she was held firmly in place by Obessa’s death grip on her hair.

“Do it,” she whispered, “take me, kill me, do it, you’ve won.”

Obessa stayed there for a moment, breathing in quickly as she tried to catch her breath after the exertion of the duel. Then she suddenly stood up again, shoving Kyssindree off her knee and shaking off the torn strands of long dark hair that still clung to her hand after releasing her hair.

“I always told you that you shouldn’t leave your hair unbound in battle, it gives your opponent an easy handhold.” Obessa smiled softly as she shrugged.

“What are you doing?” Kyssindree managed to push herself up off the ground enough to look up at Obessa, every movement an agony. “You defeated me, finish this!”

“It is finished.” Obessa slid her knife into the silken sash she wore on her curving hips and then kicked some sand into Kyssindree’s face. “I’m done with you now, forever.”

“You’re not done with me!” Kyssindree shouted after Obessa as she turned and started walking towards the silent Incubus in black armor who had been watching their battle. “Obessa, do you hear me!?! We’re not done, I’m going to hunt you down, and I’ll seduce, screw, and stab that stupid Incubus, and then do the same to you and anyone who looks like you like them! I’m better than you, Obessa, I’m Kyssindree the Flensing Laugh! Who are you? Obessa the Nothing, that’s who! You can’t seriously think you can leave me alive after this, I’ll have my revenge ten times over!”

Obessa glanced over her shoulder, carefully considering Kyssindree as she lay on the sands.

It started slowly at first, just a small smirk on her lips. Then it grew, the smile growing wider as her shoulders began to shake. Then she actually tossed back her head, her long silken purple hair bouncing away from her face as she laughed and then walked off with the Incubus.

“OBESSA!” Kyssindree howled after her.


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


The outer gardens had become a nest of murder and madness in the darkness. The exotic plants and decorations were on fire, and as a safety measure when the power had been cut all of the walkways had returned to their lowered position, leaving no safe path through the forested domain infested by hundreds of fearsome predators culled from across the galaxy for Douraal’s pleasure and amusement.

Yet the gardens were awash with Dark Eldar trying to cross them anyway, despite the fires and the beasts. Kabalite Warriors stationed on the outer wall were fighting their way inward towards the central battle to aid in the defense, and the guests and their guards were attempting to battle their way out. Even the attackers were here, laughing Hellions looking for prey, overladen anti-gravity skimmers disembarking hordes of eager and armed gangs looking to pick apart the fleeing guests for plunder and amusement.

But it was when the Beastmasters had arrived, ten lone figures swooping about the outer perimeter, releasing clouds of special pheromones from their skyboards as they howled strange sub-vocal screeches into the smoke-choked and dark gardens, that was when the true horrors of the gardens had begun. Now Kabalite, fleeing noble, horrified ganger, and harried Hellion all worked together, desperately fighting to find any exit from the abattoir.

Wren walked through the carnage proudly and unafraid, knowing full well she was unlikely to find anything more fearsome in aspect than herself here. Her birds cavorted around her, happy and pleased with the hunt as they feasted, occasionally she would pluck a prime morsel from a corpse and offer it up to one of her flock as a reward, for they had all been so good. She rounded a bend to see a squad of Kabalites, ten strong, trying to manage an orderly retreat through the gardens. When they saw her approaching they actually broke ranks and began to run. Wren couldn’t help but smile.

To’kar appeared out of the flames and smoke like some ancient god of battle. He glided along effortlessly on his skyboard, flying low enough to the ground that the dangling chains and hooks sparked and danced as they dragged along the cobbled pathways. He held a crackling whip, its length suffused in vibrant pulses of blue energy that sparked like a shining star in the darkness of the smoke choked courtyard. The few scattered Kabalite Warriors who even attempted to attack him met gruesome fates as beasts seemed to spring from the shadows to take them down the instant they raised weapons in his direction. Carnivorous huge purple hunting cats, betentacled and lumbering monstrosities that walked on their hind legs like men, even flapping bat-like creatures that were all barbed wings, spine-tail, and snapping jaws that stripped the flesh from their targets in a matter of mere seconds. He seemed to breathe out smoke from the nostrils of his mask as he calmly regarded the devastation around him.

He laughed.

“Little sister, you were correct, this place was worth coming to, it is as you said, ripe with the chance for us to expand our stock of beasts. The payment is worthwhile indeed, but now it is time for your choice.” He glided up next to her, a hulking shape of fur and muscle in the darkness, his voice echoing hollowly out of the leather beast mask he wore. “It is time to choose.”

She looked up at him, her own face hidden behind her mask, but certain he could sense the turmoil in her.

“The one you desire, Tael. Have you decided if we’re here to help you kill him, or here to help him achieve his goals?” To’kar’s voice was distant, and it was because he truly cared not at all which way she chose, only that she would choose to join with him and his Lodge afterwards. It was a pleasurable feeling to be so desired. To be desired for herself, and not for any other reason than a want of her to be with them.

She looked out across the battlefield, through the smoke and fire and carnage. Somewhere out there Tael was still fighting for his dream, fighting alongside the wych, Kyssindree. Was there a place here for Wren anymore? Even if there was a place, was it a place that she desired? She had once had such strong feelings about Tael and what she wished for the two of them, but those feelings had been twisted, toyed with. She had thought that spending a bit more time with him would help her understand what those feelings were…

“Little sister.” To’kar’s voice was strong, calm, and firm. “It is said that any decision before a balanced mind should be able to be reached within the span of four breaths. You walk the Way, your breaths are firm, your mind is ordered, do not allow it to fool you. Have you reached a decision?”

“Yes.” Wren nodded her head as she looked up at him. “I have reached a decision.”


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


Ben’rik made his way through the twisting halls of the palace. When he saw larger groups of Kabalites he would affect a panicked expression and try to demand they escort him off the grounds. When he saw a band of rampaging Hellions or other gang rabble he would snarl and spit as he stormed through them, calling out to a few by name and asking where the best looting was to be had. In general both methods allowed him to pass unmolested and mostly ignored. Occasioanlly he would come across a lone and lost noble, or a wounded member from either side. At those moments a quick knife or a well-aimed blast from his pistol would net him some not poor treasures as he looted the bodies.

Still, he knew he had to get out of this place sooner rather than later, because either the Archon would win, in which case Ben’rik wanted to be well away, or Tael would win…in which case Ben’rik wanted to be even further away.

He finally hit on a bit of luck when he came across Scarlet Silviir and her hellion gang. They had taken over a library and had captured a number of the noble guests and dragged them here for their own purposes.

Silviir was easy enough to spot, partly for her long bright red hair and scarlet fighting leathers, and partly because she was currently on top of a large wrought-bone table, riding astride a horrified looking young noble lord, his pants down around his ankles and her choking the life out of him as she pumped her shapely hips and promised him many a gruesome end if he didn’t improve his performance.

Ben’rik politely coughed as he entered, and a few of Silviir’s guards promptly pointed pistols and blades in his direction. He smiled and waved to the female bodyguards as he again tried to catch Silviir’s attention. She looked up, some of her curling red locks falling in front of her flushed face as she smiled at him.

“Ben’rik! Why, I haven’t seen you in ages, how goes it?”

“Better now that I have seen you again, m’dearest.” He bowed to her.

“Want to climb up here and show this mewling pretty-boy how a man does it? I recall you being quite a bit better than he is proving to be.” She paused to glare down at the lordling. “In fact, he is about to have me rip it off and cram it down his throat if he can’t at least figure out something good to do with either it or his mouth.” She promptly shifted forward and shoved the noble’s face between her thighs and shrugged at him. “He looked so promising,” she pouted, obviously trying to lure him onto the table.

“As usual, I suspect your beauty and…ah…energeticness may disquiet a callow youth like that.” Ben’rik smiled as he wandered around the library, glancing at some of the destruction done to the ancient tomes and considering a few of the captives to see if any looked much worthwhile.

“What do you want, Ben’rik,” Silviir sighed, looking bored now that she realized he didn’t want to play.

“Honestly, I got a little lost, I’m trying to figure out the way back out to the party.”

“That way,” she pointed down a hallway. “Keep going straight till you reach the end of all artsy-stuff, one of the big doors leads outside, and the other to the throne room. Even with only one eye you can probably puzzle that out.”

“Of course, I shall leave you to your fun.”

“Send any pretty-boys you find this way, me and the girls will treat them to a fine-joy-time.” Silviir smiled and waved to him before glancing at one of her underlings and motioned to he young noble trapped between her thighs. “We’ll need the spike tongs for this one.”

Ben’rik hastened away, glad that she had been in such a good mood. He charged off down the hallway, hoping none of his pockets bulged or jangled too obviously from his stolen loot. As he half ran down the passage through a bewildering assortment of art and décor one of the giant paintings hanging from a wall caught his eye. Ben’rik slowed to look at the painting, confused by its subject. Why would this be hanging here? He leaned closer to inspect the plaque and his eye widened in shock.

By the Dark Muses! Suddenly he understood what Tael was doing, and now he was quite certain he didn’t want to be here any longer.

Ben’rik turned and ran for all he was worth, not caring if his pockets jangled or bulged anymore.


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


Kyssindree limped up the steps towards the grand entrance to the Kabal chambers. She had managed to find Jorik and Ssinssilla as they had led their forces towards the palace and had joined up with them. Ssinssilla she didn’t trust at all, mostly because she couldn’t read her ugly snake face at all. But Jorik was obviously thinking with his wrong head around her most of the time, so was as reasonably trustworthy an ally as she could likely find. Also, he was a talented field medic, which at times like this was even more valuable. He’d done some work on her shoulder which had numbed the pain and left her able to move it around reasonably well. But he didn’t have many solutions for the rib tearing up her lungs.

“We need to get you laying down somewhere where I have time to work.” He spoke the words with almost a pathetically youthful optimisim for what that particular scenario might earn for him. Though, Kyssindree shrugged, she liked a bit of sex after a fight as much as the next girl, and if he could make it so every breath she took wasn’t a ragged pain then she would be rather thankful.

“We’re losing the east gate,” Ssinssilla announced as she listened to a battle report through the Sslyth vibration device attached to her side. “The Trueborn of Ssshattered Sssoul have taken the field and are cutting the gangersss apart.”

“What about the outer gardens?” Jorik glanced away to order some of his men into battle squads guarding the doors as he helped Kyssindree through them and into the relative calm of an inner chamber.

“Ssstill burning, the only clear understanding I have of that place is that it is death to go there.” Ssinssilla hefted up her splinter cannon and began laying down surpressing fire on a group of Kabalites approaching the gate, in a few moments hordes of undisciplined gangers fell on them. Each Kabalite was easily worth three of the wretches, but the gangers currently had the numbers to spare in that regard.

“And they’ve activated their secondary generator which means their air defenses are back which means we need to hold and secure the outer wall to fly out past the gardens, and to secure the outer wall we need to pass through the gardens…”

“Yesss.”

“Get to the hangers,” Kyssindree offered with a shrug, “all we need are some vehicles with Kabal markings and transponders and we won’t be auto-targeted, and if they are manually controlling them they’ll be paying more attention to everything else than a handful of skimmers marked as their own.”

“Good idea,” gushed Jorik.

“We also have found the Bloodbridesss again. Glim-Resss and the Nightmaresss found them in their sssector. They sssaid the Bridesss were cutting their way out of the palace ssstraight through anything that got in their way and sssaid they were going to deal with them.”

“And then?” Kyssindree looked up in interest.

Ssinssilla simply flicked out her tongue slowly. “No further communicationsss from them yet.”

“Nor is there likely to be,” Kyssindree smirked, “your only chance for dealing with them was me.” There was suddenly a disturbance near one of the side doors, and they looked up to see some of Jorik’s men accosting Ben’rik. The normally smirking gang leader was quick talking his way around them as he sidled towards the door. Kyssindree frowned. “Jorik, fetch him for me, would you?”

“Of course,” he smiled as he stood up, and in moments he and his men returned with Ben’rik.

“Why the rush,” she asked coldly.

“Why not,” returned Ben’rik as he glanced her over, “I see you’re doing well.”

“Well enough to still slash your face off before you can offer another feeble insult, now tell me why you’re running, we’re still basically winning.”

“Basically winning?” Ben’rik laughed. “Send me an invitation to the victory party then, I’m leav-“

The doors to the throne room creaked open. Doors that had, until that moment, been securely magnetically sealed shut. Kyssindree glanced up in surprise to see two figures descending the wide marble steps from the entrance down towards the foyer they waited in.

The first figure was the pale and willowy thin woman Kyssindree had seen Tael skulk off with near the beginning of the party. Her face was flushed, and her hair out of place, and a small and secretive smile was on her delicate features.

Behind her came a male, broad of shoulder, in tattered clothing. His chest bore a few bloody scars, and his shoulder had a nasty gouge in it as well. In his good arm he carried an elegant straight blade, gleaming with a luminescent green liquid on it, held in place by some sort of power field. His face was hidden behind a bloodstained golden Khaine mask.

“Oh no.” Ben’rik began to back away.

“Douraal,” Kyssindree said as she stood up slowly, wondering if it would be possible to strike some sort of bargain with him. Also wondering if she’d be allowed to get away with killing the pale wench first…

There was a bit of mocking laughter as the figure strode down towards them, elegant in his power, sure in his movements, totally unconcerned by how they outnumbered him easily thirty to one. Kyssindree gripped her blade carefully, ready to strike or flee.

“You have entered my house, and my domain, and mine is the power here, the only power. Soon you will all crawl before me, like the lowly slave wretches you are meant to be.” The figure laughed a bit louder as it reached up and suddenly removed the golden mask, revealing the smirking face behind it.

“Tael!” Kyssindree laughed in relief and amusement.

Jorik laughed as well, and the other Hellions nervously glanced at each other before erupting in cheers as they realized what it meant to have their war leader walking around with the battle mask of the enemy Archon on his face. Ssinssilla let out a happy rattle of her tail and began to send out the message to the other attack leaders also on the waveband.

“Well, I do have to say that went a bit harder than I had anticipated.” He glanced at his shoulder wound and winced. “The old man was a little…resistant to death, in the end.”

“Let me.” Jorik stepped forward and began attaching a magnetic suture to the wound and fiddling around with some injections. Kyssindree, meanwhile, was working hard to surrepstiously clean her face and make sure she looked desirable despite her wounds, it would not do for her partner to see her in disarray, especially not with the pale skank lurking right there. She definitely had to learn quickly what the woman meant to Tael…and then figure out how to kill her regardless.

Ben’rik continued to back out the door, only stopping in horror when the first few black birds fluttered in around him. They all looked up as Wren entered. She had discarded her mask somewhere, and her pale face was smudged with dirt and blood. Her wild red hair stuck up in spikey disarray, and the black feather robe smoldered in a few patches. Her claws glistened with blood and dripped little spatters on the floor as she walked forward slowly. Her eyes were focused on Tael, wide and innocent as a small smile split her features as she saw him standing there triumphant.

“It is good to see that I am so loved,” offered Tael with a small smirk as he slightly bowed to Wren.

The girl darted forward, the Razorwings perching on her hopping off in annoyed disarray as the girl sprang up the steps and rushed into Tael’s arms. Kyssindree’s eyes narrowed murderously as she started forward herself, she was just going to kill both of the challengers and be done with it right now.

Wren reached up to clutch at Tael’s head as she stood on her tiptoes and craned her neck upward, her lips pursing together. Tael blinked in mild confusion and then shrugged ever so slightly as he leaned his head down as well. Kyssindree snarled as she started to storm up the steps, only a dozen paces away.

Then Wren jerked Tael’s head backwards, opened her mouth wide to reveal her teeth sharpened into gleaming fangs, and bit deeply into his throat.

Tael howled in pain, raising his hand with the sword in it, but even as he did a flitting black bird snapped out of the shadows, tearing open his wrist and spraying blood across the glistening marble steps. Jorik’s hand managed to drop to his pistol before a cloud of black birds descended on him him, tearing and ripping at him until he turned and sprang off the edge of the stairs to drop down to the unforgiving stone floor below with a wet crunch. Kyssindree raised her own knife as well, but a piercing impact in her back sent her sprawling, feeling a sharp pain from her broken rib as she landed and cried out in agony, as one of the Razorwings tore and bit at her shoulder. She lashed out at it blindly and another of them swept past, snatching the blade from her grip as they left her bloody and broken on the steps.

Looking up she could see the birds swirling around Wren and Tael. The girl jerked her head back with a wet sucking sound as she tore out a large mouthful of his throat. Blood gurgled and frothed from the wound as Tael looked down at her in confused shock. Wren’s face was coated thick with red blood from the tip of her nose down to her pointed chin and across her neck and chest.

She tilted her head to the side slightly, her eyes blinking once as she locked gazes with Tael who still looked at her in bewildered shock as his life flowed out of him in buckets.

Then she spit his torn out throat back into his face and shoved him over as she turned and walked away. Her eyes stared out intently from above her bloody face, glinting amidst her dark and smeared eyeliner. The billowing cloak floated around her shoulders as blood dribbled off her claws. Her boots clicked with each step as she walked down the stairs, and her birds cawed happily as they swept about the room, circling through the air.

Every Hellion cowered, some even going so far as to toss away their weapons as Wren’s gaze fell across them. Only Ben’rik was still standing by the time she reached the base of the steps, and he had the craziest smile on his face as he watched her stalk across the room and back to the entryway doors. She paused as she looked at him.

“Ben’rik…friend?”

“Ben’rik, not enemy,” he said very seriously.

She smiled, a bloody smile at him and Ben’rik shivered and stood aside.

Ten figures waited for her beyond the doors, mounted on skyboards and wearing furs and chains, as well as fearsome bestial masks. As she approached they began to rap their weapons on their chests, the blades beating against the chains that swathed their bodies as they howled in greeting to her.

Wren smiled as she sprang lightly up onto a waiting skyboard. She looked back into the room, wide-eyed, bloody mouthed, and she smiled, a fanged smile of victory, contentment, and happiness. The hellions, almost all averted their gaze from her. She let out a squawking screech and then turned and accelerated into the sky, the swirling flocks of black birds turned and swept out in her wake, rising up into the sky as she and the Beastmasters departed.

“Tael,” Kyssindree turned to look at him, but it was clear he was quite dead and beyond any hope of help. Leaving her crippled, wounded, and alone inside a palace she didn’t think they could hold, Tael was dead, and she and everyone here would soon follow the same course.

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

Only one chapter to go. I keep minor tweaking it, I kind of want to make sure I feel good about it before it is posted.

It will be The End though. A few more deaths, a few more scores settled, and...maybe...a few more desires granted?

_________________
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 K93hWhs
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 L1RsnGX
The Title Troupe! - Nom fellow posters for custom titles.
Back to top Go down
Lady Malys
She Who Must Be Obeyed
Lady Malys


Posts : 1102
Join date : 2011-05-18

Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Trueborn - completed - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeFri Nov 30 2012, 01:28

First of all, a small point to get out of the way first. I don't want to read about the graphic assault of a terrified prisoner. That crossed a line for me, and because I have been so honest in my feedback so far I felt I should say something. There have been places where the story was close to crossing various lines for me, but it hadn't really done so until now; I understand the nature of DE, but I don't think it was necessary for us to see that, especially given how you've handled extreme events up until now. That's my view, anyway.

Moving on from that, I cannot say I'm disappointed with what happened with Wren Smile (happy easter to me!). She finally got some clarity ... and some pets Very Happy ... and some revenge. I was so happy to see her fly away with the Beastmasters at last. It was good to see her getting some respect as well. Proving that Tael might be clever, but Ben'rik is canny. Speaking of which ...

Will we see the duel between Tael and Douraal? Because I have yet another theory about that, too Smile I'm suspicious and paranoid until I can see a body, of course! Very Happy (And even then ...)

And speaking of duels ... Of course I wanted to see Obessa win, but I did appreciate that she won without killing Kyssindree. Not because I want Kyssindree to be alive, but because knowing she is alive because Obessa let her live seems a fitting conclusion. Very DE.

_________________
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 BbGpM5p
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Tdcawardssigcombosmalys
~ Aim to please, shoot to kill. ~
Back to top Go down
Thor665
Archon
Thor665


Posts : 5526
Join date : 2011-06-10
Location : Venice, FL

Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Trueborn - completed - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeSat Dec 01 2012, 15:57

I appreciate the candor about the questionable scene. I will note that it probably is just saying something good about you, because really, that scene is no more (or less, I'll admit) explicit than a number of other scenes. I think the subject matter just turns you off. I did wrestle a touch with including the scene, but felt it was a worthwhile juxtaposition of debased actions paired with friendly banter and total relative disregard for others. I'll consider the critique before doing anything else similar in the future, but will at least suggest that if a line was crossed it was a moral one and not an explicitness one - a viable consideration in *how* lines were crossed.

I'm glad you liked Wren's moment - it was one of the funner moments to write in the entire story and it looks like it hit the emotional place I wanted.

The Douraal/Tael fight scene is totally written up and appears in the last chapter. Paranoia may simmer until then.

The Obessa/Kyssindree duel was originally going to end with Kyssindree dead. Then it became Kyssindree with a large facial wound so Obessa would leave her scared. Then...then I realized for someone like Kyssindree that really the worst wound was basically telling her she wasn't important and you weren't even thinking about her. Chuffed you liked it!

_________________
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 K93hWhs
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 L1RsnGX
The Title Troupe! - Nom fellow posters for custom titles.
Back to top Go down
Lady Malys
She Who Must Be Obeyed
Lady Malys


Posts : 1102
Join date : 2011-05-18

Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Trueborn - completed - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeSun Dec 02 2012, 23:19

Thank you for your kind words. I think that the ability to discuss this (or anything) lucidly and respectfully is a mark of the quality of the site, which is one reason why I feel able to come here and read fiction about what are, when one comes down to it, a generally despicable and unlovely bunch of people, the Ynneas Eladrith! To clarify my point in case it is relevant in future, I would summarise it like this: torture scenes and graphic violence = close to the line. Scenes of an obviously explicit sexual nature, = close to the line. Scene involving torture + explicit sexual content = over the line. I would say it's not a question of morality but of degree. I think personally that the scene was just a fraction more graphic, but the combination of factors was what pushed into unacceptable territory for me. Those are my views, of course. I will be happy to stand by my statement (made so long ago!) that you have captured the DE character perfectly, because you have, even if we may differ slightly on what to show Smile

Speaking of what to show I've been thinking some more about what happened with Tael and Douraal and I can tell you, I'm watching and reading very carefully. Sharess obviously knows something more. Just what, I look forward to finding out!

_________________
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 BbGpM5p
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Tdcawardssigcombosmalys
~ Aim to please, shoot to kill. ~
Back to top Go down
Thor665
Archon
Thor665


Posts : 5526
Join date : 2011-06-10
Location : Venice, FL

Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Trueborn - completed - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeWed Dec 19 2012, 18:51

Chapter 22: The End


Tael and Douraal both raised their weapons slowly. Douraal fell into a classic fencing position, the venom blade resting lightly in his hand, he weaved the point in small figure eight patterns as he kept his weight on his back foot for maximum power in moving forward or backward. Tael dropped into a low crouch, the weight on the balls of his feet to capitalize on his ability to move to either side, the hellglaive balanced in his hands as he watched Douraal carefully, a small smile on his face.

Sharess walked right between them and up the steps of the dais. She turned around and gently lowered herself into the throne. Both men glanced up at her, their gazes narrowed, and she smiled indulgently at them both, knowing how much they would look forward to ousting her from the throne the instant they had defeated their rival. She was as much a prize as the Kabal itself, and they both knew it. She motioned them permissively.

“You may begin when you are ready.”

“Tonight you’ll be begging me to stop,” noted Douraal in a low growl.

“She’ll be begging me not to stop,” quipped Tael with a wink towards her.

Douraal lunged forward.

Douraal was all sharp movement, moving forward with blindingly quick lunges and sharp counter cuts. Tael circled and shifted, the arcing sweeps of his hellglaive surprisingly delicate seeming despite the raw power behind them. Every time the weapons met Sharess winced, expecting the slim venom blade to shatter, but the power fields that held its deadly viro-toxin in place also allowed it to withstand the fearsomely fast swings of the hellglaive.

At first glance one might have thought that Douraal had the advantage in weaponry, after all, a venom blade could kill with but the slightest scratch. Still, if the hellglaive connected it would not scratch at all, and would likely split Douraal open even through his armor.

It also started to become clear that Tael was better. Sharess had honestly not expected that, Douraal was a fearsome warrior, and well experienced, and even suffused with youthful vigor and health from all the life energy he had just absorbed. But Tael was better. Perhaps it was because he had planned for this, or simply that he had much more recently engaged in battle, having been fighting consistently for the last few cycles while it had been almost four decades since the last time Douraal had been obligated to draw his sword for anything that wasn’t simple slaughter.

Tael was cutting off the room, occasionally snapping out with larger sweeps of his hellglaive to keep Douraal constrained. He also circled constantly, preventing Douraal from squaring off with him where his faster thrusting weapon could give him an advantage. He worked the hooked blades well too, occasionally sneaking out a low cut trying to catch a foot and trip Douraal, or hook his arn to drag him off balance. Douraal escaped these attacks by springing away, but this only served to drive him further and further back towards the corner behind him.

“You’re better than I had anticipated,” Douraal admitted the obvious and Sharess smirked at his pride. It was one of his finer attributes. “I’ve also been impressed by your planning, so many like you just rush in quickly, thinking I am weaker and more foolish than them for some reason, and that they could just take the power.”

“To be honest,” Tael side-stepped a quick thrust and battered at Douraal with a few well timed sweeps of his glaive, “I also thought you were weaker and more foolish than I. Still, it is always smartest to strike when you are assured of victory.”

“I agree,” Douraal laughed as he retreated suddenly, pressing himself into the corner that Tael had been trying to herd him into. “Do you think you are assured victory?”

Tael advanced to maintain the trap, but even though he was smirking it was clear there was uncertainty in his eyes. He had to be wondering why Douraal had willingly entered the trap. “I would say I am far more assured to win than you.”

“Indeed?” Douraal laughed as he pressed a small stud on his belt. There was a flickering of light around him, and then two identical versions of Douraal stepped out of his body, leaving suddenly three of them in the corner, all smirking at Tael. When they spoke, they did so as an echoing chorus. “I am an Archon of a Kabal, nothing is assured when I am involved.”

The three Douraals all attacked in different ways. Tael slashed first at the one in the middle, but his hellglaive passed through the holo-clone and it blinked out of esistance. Tael retreated desperately as both Douraals hounded him, each of them evading and ducking away from his blows this time to avoid letting him physically touch them to discover which was real. Then another clone stepped out of one of them, raising its blade.

“I know what you’re thinking, can a holo clone be made to look like it was itself cloned, or is that a clue that this one is more likely the real one? You should have so much experience with clones at this stage, real and imagined, certainly you should have an opinion.”

“You liked that clone I let your men kill at my camp, didn’t you?” Tael retreated still, his icy blue eyes watching each of the Douraals as they started to encircle him. His fingers twitched slightly on the haft of his weapon as he shoved it out in small feints to try to keep them at bay. If the real one so much as scratched him with the venom blade it would be all over. “Did it fool you?”

“Not as much as you would hope,” The Douraal clones spoke in a chorus. “When I heard how you had died, blithering and rushing to a memorable if pointless end, I knew something was wrong. But I held my victory party anyway, just like you did.”

“And,” Tael grinned, “just like me, you expected this attack, didn’t you?”

“It’s what I would have done,” admitted Douraal as suddenly his clones all rushed in. Tael ducked and weaved, being forced to dodge all the blades as he could not know which was the real one that would grant him painful death from its lethal mix of poison. Douraal pressed the attack though, pushing on and in, his gleaming green blades glinting brightly as they flashed around in deceptively lethal and quick thrusts. Tael kept retreating, moving faster, getting all three clones side by side again, a small grin forming on his face.

Sharess was breathing quicker, her smile growing wider as she realized he was up to something.

Tael suddenly spun around, his grip on his hellglaive sliding all to one side of it as he twisted in a tight circle and unleashed a single mighty sweeping swing against all three Douraals at the same time. In a flash of sparking light two of the clones blinked from existence as the hellglaive crashed into Douraal’s breastplate. He was sent sprawling across the floor from the force of the impact, his venom blade skittering away in a spinning arc across the polished marble. Tael’s hellglaive’s shaft had cracked apart from the force of the impact.

Tael tossed aside the broken blade and drew forth a jagged dueling knife as he stalked towards Douraal. The Archon coughed as he sat up, his breastplate torn open and bent unnaturally. He undid some of the clasps and peeled it off, revealing his pale and muscular torso underneath.

“Is this what you think it’s about? Is this what you think it will take?” Douraal stood up as he went to draw his own dagger, only to find it missing. His fingers clenched at the sheath as he hissed a curse under his breath at Obessa. He pressed a small decorative sworl on his gauntlet and a blade snapped out of its hiding place to protrude over the back of his hand. “It takes more than being marginally clever and winning a few battles to be Archon of a Kabal.”

“Does it take being frightened all the time?” Tael smirked as he came in, a few broad and sweeping strokes of his knife leading the way. Douraal actually slid under his guard almost immediately and slashed him across the chest. Tael frowned darkly and pulled his guard in tighter.

“You call it frightened, I call it prepared.”

“Prepared? You break yourself up, like a nervous child trying to hide his candy in multiple locations, yet watching as he loses each in turn and being left with almost nothing of his original self.”

“You think that’s true, boy?” Their knives sparked and squealed as they locked them together straining against one another. “Then why do I see fear in your eyes, you know as well as I do that you cannot defeat me.” They broke apart again, and now Douraal reached up and removed his mask, tossing it aside to clatter on the floor. Filled as he was with the youthful sheen of all those sacrificed in his name he looked much as he had as a young man.

Thus, he looked exactly like Tael.

“You are nothing more than a copy, boy,” Douraal smirked at Tael, “infused with a tiny shard of my soul so that I need never risk any danger from She-Who-Thirsts when I am regenerated. How can you be so certain of victory, when you are a raindrop…and I am the ocean?”

“You are the ocean?” Tael laughed as he came in again, their blades gleaming as they slashed and parried and dodged around each other. “You are not the ocean, you are a roast animal at a feast, carved up into portions, each as savory and large as the next.”

“You mock what I have done, boy? What I have done is redefine the entire process of regeneration!”

“What you have done is ape our Craftworld brethren, revealing yourself to be as weak and fearful as they are, splitting up your soul, hiding it away, hoping to keep it safe in backup containers. We’re the Dark Eldar, we have surpassed our forefathers, and certainly surpassed those of our race who cower in distant planets or hidden fortresses. We don’t need to hide from She-Who-Thirsts. We live in the very realm she claims power over, and we drink even faster than She does. But you are too scared to see if you could match her.”

“If you really want to discover that,” snarled Douraal as he let out a sharp backhand cut that tore a gash on Tael’s broad chest, “I could arrange an audience for you with Her quite easily.”

“I went all over the City, cutting down your little hidden clones one by one,” announced Tael, “until now there’s only you and me left.”

“So you think,” laughed Douraal.

“So I do,” smirked Tael, “I guess we’ll soon find out which of us was more clever about it, won’t we?”

“You couldn’t have found them all,” snapped Douraal, “I know you couldn’t have.”

“Where do you think I got the fake clone from? Did you really think you could trust the Little Tailor to keep one of your clones safe?”

“I don’t believe you, he would be too amused by owning me to ever risk letting anyone destroy it.”

“Be that as it may,” Tael lashed out with a kick that buckled Douraal’s knee slightly as an upward cut opened up a painful gash along Douraal’s chest and sent the Archon stumbling backwards, “but I’m not the one who looks frightened and uncertain.”

Then all the talking was done, and just the two men battled, two mirror copies of each other, each sharing the last broken shards of the same soul. But, yet, so much were they alike it was clear they were different too, and Sharess began to suspect that Douraal had been wrong in thinking he could shatter his soul and spread it around like he had. He was being bested, and was being defeated because what he faced truly was his equal in every way that mattered. Even an infinite thing, broken in half, is less than it was. The two of them fought and snarled like hunting cats, springing forward, their bare muscles gleaming in the flickering lights of the fires and battles outside. Sweat bristled upon their brows as blood leaked from their wounds, and still they fought on.

Then it happened, a wide opening was left and Douraal went for it spearing his knife into Tael’s side. But in so doing he left the opening Tael had invited, and a blade was plunged deep down into Douraal’s shoulder. Both men staggered back, but it was Douraal whose blade arm drooped down helplessly at his side, nerveless, useless.

“I win,” said Tael softly as he backed away from Douraal, a smirk on his lips, “who is the ocean now?”

“You are a foolish boy, who doesn’t know when he is beaten,” Douraal sneered as he he began struggling with his bracer, trying to pull it off to use with his good arm. Tael laughed at him as he turned and walked over to the fallen venom blade. He picked it up and saluted Sharess. She smiled at him, and then her eyes flicked up as she noticed that behind Tael, on the floor, Douraal was smiling as well. Sharess felt her breath quicken and her cheeks grow warm as she realized there was more to come.

“You stand upon my sigil, boy. You hold my blade, the blade I have used to cut down all of my opponents I thought were worthy.” Tael glanced down at the symbol for the Shattered Soul which was engraved upon the floor where he stood to retrieve the venom blade. He smirked again and made to wipe his feet on it. “Unwise.” Douraal stood up and spoke one word, “Eliath.” The Eldar word for ‘ending’.

Tael jerked. The venom blade slipped from his hand and Sharess could see the small needle now protruding from the handle and the matching drip of red from Tael’s hand. He stumbled a step, then two, but then sank to his knees with a grim finality. His eyes grew wider. Douraal walked towards him, reaching out with his off hand to reclaim his venom blade, carefully pulling out the needle barb from its hidden catch.

“I knew you would come, and I also knew you would wish to settle the accounts with me. You’ve proven to be smarter than the others, so I knew I had to let you be drawn out.” He smiled as he pointed his blade to Tael’s throat. “I allowed you to attack my holdings. I didn’t take it easy on you, naturally, but I always had an endgame in play. I knew as soon as you set up that party of yours that it was a trap, and when you faked your own death I knew you’d be coming for me. All I needed to do was have a few new defenses installed that you didn’t know about. You are so much like me, a failed copy, to be certain, but enough like me to allow me to know you as well as you know me. You use my strategies, you claim loyal lieutenants, you allow your opponent to think he has won to lure him in, you attack during parties and celebrations, and…you always claim the life of a worthwhile foe with your personal blade. My blade!”

He raised the sword into the light and smirked as he backed away from Tael slowly.

“You thought you were so clever, so capable. But you are a child, filled with many of my better aspects, to be sure, but lacking my experience, and the true me. You are a failed copy, a mummer’s farce, a puppet without a master. You needn’t worry though, the poison will not kill you, it will simply…detain you for a moment.”

Douraal walked over to his fallen mask and reclaimed it, smiling at Tael over his shoulder before snapping it in place.
“And the funny part is I’m going to be able to step out those doors, claim command of your hard fought for army, use your loyal lieutenants, and do whatever I wish with it. Meanwhile you’ll be stuck here, helpless, until I decide what it is I’m going to do with you.” Douraal smiled.

Tael’s lips quivered as he shifted them, and then it happened.

Tael smirked.

“Last…chance…sur…ren…der?”

Douraal laughed. “Ah, such spirit, reminds me of…me.” He saluted Tael and then glanced up at Sharess. “Enjoying your seat?” He asked the question in an off-hand and joking manner, but there was an icy undertone to the query.

She smirked as she immediately rose from the throne and hastened to his side, her arms wrapping around him. As they moved to exit the room she glanced back at Tael as he knelt upon the floor.

He was still smiling.


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


Sharess walked back into the throne room slowly and looked at Tael, who now sat sprawled on the throne, one leg drapped over the arm, a knowing smile on his face. She was splattered with Douraal’s blood and even now the Hellion gangs were starting to become more disorganized individual units than a cohesive fighting force as they splintered apart as word of ‘Tael’s’ death spread.

“You knew?” She had to ask the question.

“What? To prepare myself with a number of antivenoms if I was planning to…be energetic with you?” He smiled easily. “Of course I knew that, seems rather silly not to do. Of course, if I perhaps prepared myself also against a number of venoms and concoctions I knew the old man favored, well, that probably wasn’t a bad idea either. Though, I always figured if I guessed wrong you would be willing to offer up an antidote at this stage.”

“Not that,” she waved her hand to motion out into the entry foyer, “out there, Douraal, how he died, you knew?”

Tael smiled. “Well, I strongly had laid the groundwork for it. Tell me, which of them did it? I had pretty much every single one of my lieutenants hopefully prepped to do the deed. You can never be sure in the vageries of battle who will actually make it out. Was it Ben’rik? I rather suspected it would be Ben’rik.”

“Which one is he?”

“One eyed, thinks he’s more clever than he is.”

“No, it was the bird girl.”

“Wren?” Tael clucked his tongue and laughed. “Well…I suspect she wasn’t pleasant about it if I finally got her to snap. I was beginning to think it couldn’t be done.”

“No, she was not pleasant.”

“You seem to have my sword.”

Sharess nodded as she walked forward, lifting up Douraal’s sword as she knelt in front of Tael. “Did you really kill all of his clones,” she asked. “If not, he’ll be back, you know he will.”

“Yes, I rather think I got them all, and if I didn’t then he was more clever than I thought when he branded us all with numbers and admitted I was the most recent.” Tael smirked as he tapped the space behind his ear where the number ‘six’ was emblazoned. “His ace-in-the-hole was the one he asked The Little Tailor to keep, and that was the first one I had killed. Besides, if he does come back, I get to be Archon Tael’athyian Douraal this time, and I won’t be as likely to underestimate a clone.” He looked down at her carefully for a few moments. “It was rather unusual for one of the clones to awaken from their suspended sleep.”

Sharess smiled softly at him. “Douraal had the technicians skinned, but it appears to have been an unexplained software error that awoke you like that.”

“An unexplained software error that left me armor, wargear, and a keycrystal to the palace lying nearby?”

“What is my lord suggesting?” Sharess smiled at him sweetly, certain that he had figured the answer for himself.

“That you are too beautiful, clever, and dangerous by far.” He smirked at her, “be mindful of any software errors in the future, I’m apparently grown uncomfortable around them.” She smirked back and nodded her head slightly. He stood up and offered her his arm. “Come, let us bring the rabble to heel. I need to command my troops.”

“Which troops are those?”

“The Kabalites, of course, do you really think this Hellion rabble has any chance once the shock and awe of their surprise attack is over? I suspect my Trueborn are sweeping them from the grounds even as we speak. Come, we shall supervise, and then tonight…” Tael smirked, “there are many spoils of war to be discussed.”

“Of course.” Sharess smiled back at him sweetly, “and begging too, as I understand some were promised.”

“Yes, that as well.”


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


It was Glyvius who found him, and Ben’rik was not much surprised by that.

He had fled the entry hall after Wren and her Beastmaster cohort had departed, but his grand plans for fleeing the battlefield had all been stymied. He had no skyboard to ride out. The outer wall was held by Kabalites. The core of the palace was held by the Kabalites as well. Indeed, it became rather clear that the Hellions were more trapped than they were invading.

With that as an idea Ben’rik got a growing certainty about the situation that was to come. He’d run back into the art hall and hunkered down in a small nook. He’d collected up all the treasures he’d gained from his looting and put them into a single purloined sack which he nestled behind his back as he eased down into a slump. If everything went perfectly maybe he could be mistaken as a guest, and be allowed to slip out with them in a horde. If things went poorly…he gripped at his blast pistol and debated his chances of shooting his way out alone.

He wasn’t fond of them.

He had taken one other precaution though. He’d torn down the painting, peeling it out of its frame, and rolling it up to slide into his vest. That painting that had allowed him to realize how bad of a situation he was in, that grim-faced painting of a young Archon Douraal resplendent in his Kabalite finery. That painting had a special value…if Ben’rik could think it through enough to spot it.

When Glyvius appeared in the far end of the small hallway he was hiding down Ben’rik was not surprised, the Scourge Lord would have wanted to make sure to account for him. After all, he and Ben’rik had shared a long running feud for almost two decades as the Hellions and Scourges had battled. Plus, Ben’rik had been the one to first talk the Scourges into coming along for this raid. Glyvius’ expression couldn’t be seen behind his golden, snarling, bird helmet, but his bloodstained armor and the splinter carbine he was currently pointing at Ben’rik spoke volumes.

Ben’rik fingered his blast pistol with one hand while his other hand fell to rest on his bag of loot protectively. He bit his lip as he sneered at Glyvius.

“So, it’s just you and I now, huh?”

“It is,” Glyvius nodded slowly, his gaze noting Ben’rik’s hand on his pistol, “and it’s your move…”


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


The rout had started suddenly, they would say in later days when speaking of the raid.

The Scourges showed their true colors first. One moment they were sweeping through the sky in wild disarray, laughing and firing indiscriminately at the palace. In the next, at a single order from Glyvius, they formed up and turned on the Hellions en masse. The Hellions were forced to flee from the skies as their blood poured down on the palace like rain, the wicked claws and flashing guns of the Scourges claiming dominion of the air.

The Trueborn came next, as though coordinated with the Scourges. Their bronze helmets and black armor glittered ominously, and their red capes fluttered in the breeze as they began their march. They had been holding the outer wall and suddenly it became clear to the Hellions that they were trapped inside the palace, and it had become like a spider’s web waiting to embrace them.

By that stage the forces of the Kabal rose in fury. Thousands of Warriors were released into the courtyards. Their spiked blades dripped crimson as they tore apart the lesser gangs that opposed them. The Hellion gangs were made of sterner stuff and managed fighting withdrawls, but one by one they were isolated, overpowered, and offered the choice of surrender or death.

Archon Douraal sat in judgement over them from his throne of polished bone. His Trueborn stood around him, armed to the teeth. Warriors of his Kabal thronged the upper balconies, their weapons trained on the captives. Glyvius, Master of the Aerie was currently stalking up with one more. Ben’rik stumbled along in the chains he had been bound in, and the Scourge shoved him down amongst the other Hellions with a smirk of contentment. Archon Douraal steepled his fingers as he considered the captives carefully. Beside him, his Lhamaean courtesan leaned down to whisper in his ear.

“Is that the last of them?” Douraal’s voice was steely.

“I believe so, my lord.” Glyvius bowed deeply, blood still dripping off his furled wings and splattering his golden armor. “We found him hiding amongst your art chambers. I still have many of my flock out searching for others, but suspect it to be fruitless.”

“I have men still searching through the corpses for any other bodies of high birth,” offered a Trueborn Dracon, glancing over his mailed shoulder as he still leveled a shredder at a group of Hellions, “I could pull off half a century and proceed on a room by room search.”

“Later,” Douraal waved off the suggestion, “decorm dictates we must do our best to return the corpses for regeneration procedures in order to prove we had no part in seeking their deaths.” His golden mask glinted as he glanced over the captives, pausing as he considered the unwashed horde of conscripts from street gangers, press gangs, and second story murder mobs, all the dreck of the lower city that had been poured out to aid the Hellions in their attack.

“Execute the lot of them, hang their bodies from the outer walls.”

Kabalite Warriors stormed forward, grabbing up bound men and shoving them out the entry way as the still surviving party guests politely applauded the choice. Such scum as that deserved immediate death, it was unwise to allow them to believe for one moment that such behavior as attacking their betters was to be allowed.

“Bring me the leaders of the Hellion gangs.”

His Trueborn stepped into the crowd, pulling out the high ranking representatives of dozens of gangs. A red haired wild woman was pulled screeching and kicking from amongst her like attired female gangers. A sorely wounded Hellion, his face painted with gleaming green war paint was dragged forth. A man clothed in a suit made of flesh. Another with long braids of other people’s hair coiled in with his own golden locks. An older man with a glittering mechanical eye and black jagged teeth, a sobbing wretch of a woman begging for mercy, all this and more was presented to him.

Douraal smiled at them. “I understand you were all hired for this endeavor?” He spoke politely and even with a burr of amusement to his voice, but the icy eyes looking out from behind the mask spoke deadly volumes.

The Hellion leaders made vague agreement by nodding or grunting, though a few just spat in his direction, and the sobbing girl swore to tell him all if he would but spare her.

“What price, to attack my home?”

“Shares of loot, hostages, whatever we could carry off,” announced the red-haired Hellion. She shrugged and laughed a bit to herself. “Carrying off less than we expected now, yeah?” Most of the other Hellion leaders didn’t seem as amused as she.

“Do they still have loot on them?” Douraal glanced at Glyvius and the Trueborn Dracon. Both of them shrugged and nodded, not having bothered to strip them of anything besides weapons before bringing them in.

“Kill one in five of each gang, and let the others leave unmolested with what loot they still carry. I have no wish to offended the other Hellion Lords, but I trust we shall not see a repeat of such…unwise action in the future.”

The assorted Hellions seemed eager to agree to that, and praised his wisdom while they bowed and scraped their heads as their captors led them and their gangs out. All that left behind was a rag-tag grouping, the remnants of The Howlers, the gang that had started the whole affair. The other guests in the throne room smiled in eager anticipation of the coming executions and torture.

“Glyvius, you have done me and my household excellent service this day. You have found the payments to be in order, I trust?”

“Most in order.” Glyvius dipped his head as he bowed, his predatory bird mask seeming to smile eagerly, “but…there is a bit more I would ask.”

“Speak.”

“That one.” Glyvius pointed at where Ben’rik lay bound on the floor. “My flock and I owe our old friend Ben’rik a certain debt, and I always repay my debts.”

“I suppose I will be as well served with him decorating the spires of your Aerie as I would with him decorating my towers here.” Douraal’s expression was impossible to read behind his mask, but he seemed to exude a certain humor as he looked at Ben’rik. “Safe travels…old friend.”

Ben’rik let out a sputtering curse as he was dragged to his feet by the Scourges and pulled from the chamber as many of the remaining guests cooed and called encouragement out to him on his future endevors.

“What about us?” The wych known as Kyssindree, the Flensing Laugh glared up at him from where she lay wounded and broken on the floor.

“Yes.” Douraal glanced over them carefully. “What about you.”


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


Cali’q walked alongside Succubus Ayasha as they descended the ramp of their Raider. Ayasha was a vision, as always, her softly tinkling armor ringing from the dozens of bells attached to it, though the armor barely covered any of her flawless alabaster white skin. Behind them came the Bloodbrides. Mor’osez stalked along, all lean and lanky muscle, that ridiculous mon’keigh blade strapped to her back. Faeth’lyn and Cordus walked to his rear, Cordus all alertness as he stomped along, Faeth’lyn directly behind him, her hands tucked into the arms of her robe, her head bowed. The Klaviskar Twins brought up the rear. Both of them now had bio-cybernetic arms in the place of their missing limbs. One was missing her left arm, where the Incubus had cleaved it from her body, and her sister was missing her right arm…because the crazy bint had decided to mirror her sister’s injury and had cut it off herself so they would still ‘match’.

Cali’q glanced up at the heads displayed over the gate. He couldn’t speak for who they were, so distorted and bloated were they now, insects crawling over them. It was odd that Douraal had not opted to have them stasis treated for preservation, but some Archons preferred to allow their trophies to rot away, a further insult to the memory of their opponents. Cali’q supposed he wouldn’t much bother preserving some Hellions who had attacked him either. But his understanding was that all of the rebel leaders were there, a final reminder of the price of assaulting Shattered Soul.

The Incubi that met them were not members of Archon Douraal’s old Temple of choice. These wore scarlet and gold armor and bore temple markings of Crimson Judgement, their tabards marking them as in service to Shattered Soul though. Their Klaivex saluted Ayasha and turned to escort them to the Archon’s presence.

The pleasure gardens no longer looked the same, burnt out as they were. Cali’q could even see ample evidence of bones amidst the charred remains, though oddly all of the bones looked to be Eldar, he couldn’t spot anything that looked like it had once been a wild predatory animal. That was unusual to his mind, as he had certainly noticed a wide variety of beasts in the gardens when he and the Bloodbrides had fought their way through the swirling melee that had filled the outer gardens.

They found Douraal in his courtyard, overseeing the reconstruction of the arena. He wore an obsidian and silver mask of Khaela Mensha Khaine in addition to his gleaming black armor. At his side stood the Lhamaean he always seemed to favor, and he was discussing aspects of the construction with her. The Incubi Klaivex broke away to approach his lord, saluting and informing him of his guests. Douraal turned and walked over slowly, eyeing Ayasha and her retinue carefully.

“My Lord, Archon.” Ayasha gave a very slight bow, her bells softly chiming, Cali’q dipped lower, and the other Bloodbrides bowed fully. Archon Douraal simply inclined his head, though his Lhamaean dipped a deep curtsey.

“Incubi,” Douraal motioned to the armored guardians. “Very useful beasts, I pay them in advance a full year before their contracts expire, it seems a wise precaution. They do tend to stay loyal that way, and even stay during battles as opposed to scurrying off into the night.” Cali’q ground his teeth slightly, but fought hard to show no reaction to Douraal’s veiled insult. Douraal glanced at the Bloodbrides again. “Your numbers seem…lessened, I hope it was not a result of servce to my house.”

“Our service to you certainly affected my numbers, Lord Douraal.” Ayasha shrugged casually. “Sadly, we were unable to regain any of the bodies of the three fallen Bloodbrides here, I had hoped your work would unearth them.”

“I’m afraid I burnt most of the bodies after returning the fallen nobles to their respective Kabals and Houses, the smell was unpalatable over breakfast.”

“So it is.” Ayasha shrugged again. “We are cloning Grexel a new body and she’ll rejoin our ranks, but we will need to consider our options to restore the unit to proper fighting form.”

“I was afraid of that, but I came up with a solution. Since you were so kind as to lose wyches in my service, I think it will do well to return one to you.” Douraal snapped his fingers.

She strode out of the crowd, proud and fierce. Her armor glinted in the murky light of the three suns, and the blades strapped to her waist and thighs shone sharply.The tabard hanging from her shaply waist marked her as a Hekatrix of Bloodied Kiss. She paused then, hands on hips as she struck a proud pose, her long black hair coiled up into a braided topknot on her head, her lips quirking in a knowing grin.

“Kyssindree?” Ayasha smirked, “isn’t she supposed to be dead?”

“Not at all, many saw her in battle in my arena on my rejuvenation day, and I will say the crowd’s response was…excellent. Naturally you only disowned her so she could work as an infiltrator on my behalf, and now I am returning her to you.”

“Very fortuitous that you have an extra Hekatrix at a period my Bloodbrides have been so unfortunately culled.” Ayasha smiled as she inclined her head to Douraal, clearly understanding why certain bodies had been lost. “I had always thought her worthy of being a Bloodbride, what do you say, Cali’q?” Ayasha glanced at him.

Cali’q smirked at Kyssindree as she smirked back. She was going to be coming for him, he knew, looking to take his position as Syren. He had lost to her in open arena combat, and many had witnessed it. Her new role would reinstate her in the Cult with full honors and give her a chance for more glory, but it would put him at considerable risk Of course…he mused thoughtfully, it also meant she would be at risk from him, and he could pay her back in full if given the chance. He smiled at Ayasha.

“I think the Bloodbrides would be a perfect chance to allow Kyssindree to become famous.”

He glanced at Kyssindree and their gazes were murderous even as they smiled.

“It is done then, I have no problem taking her back if you are content enough with her actions, she always earned well enough in the arena for my tastes.” Ayasha bowed in thanks as Kyssindree walked over to join the Bloodbrides. As she passed the Lhamaean the two of them shared a very careful look, Kyssindree’s gaze full of venom, the Lhamaean’s almost imperceptible smile not shared in her eerily blue eyes. The courtesan raised up one hand, twiddling a few fingers lightly as she waved goodbye to Kyssindree, and the new Bloodbride’s back stiffened in anger as she stalked away.

“Welcome back to the fold,” Cali’q said to her as she approached, “when did you start wearing your hair bound?”

“Oh shut up, Cali’q,” she hissed.


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


She stretched out across the ash silk linens, her arms coiling about languidly as she reached out to her sides. She found a noticible absence as her hand went to a place that should have been warm and was instead cool and unoccupied. Obessa frowned to herself and groaned in displeasure as she opened her eyes.

Zak stood by a pile of gear that he had fastidiously organized and arranged on the small side counter. She was certain that none of their gear had been left that way after they arrived and she couldn’t help but smirk at him. He was currently attaching a vambrace to his wrist, fastening the dull black armored piece carefully as he socketed it into its groove and moved his fist around carefully to test the freedom of movement there.

“What are you doing?”

“Dressing myself.”

“Now that’s just odd, I thought you went out of your way to take your shirt off around me.”

Zak paused and glanced over his shoulder at her, his dark eyes gleaming slightly in the light though his face remained expressionless. “I don’t think I do that.”

“Oh, right,” Obessa smirked at him as she rolled over onto her belly and kicked her bare feet slowly in the air as she rested her chin in her hands. “I suppose it’s some sort of official combat doctrine in the Temple, obligating you to remove your shirt when practicing?”

“I am fairly certain it is not official doctrine,” Zak offered simply as he attached his other vambrace.

“Just a personal quirk in general, then?”

“I would simply suggest that certain…sparring matches call for certain attire.”

“We have a few more hours yet,” she motioned to the timepiece on the bed stand, “you paid the proprietor for a full night.”

“I did, but despite wishes to the contrary, I can not stay here much longer.” He turned and walked over to the bed, kneeling down so he could speak to her. “My duties lie back at my Temple, I must return there shortly.”

“Oh,” Obessa frowned. She had known that would happen, of course, but had been allowing herself to forget it. His hand found hers then, dull black metal wrapping around her pale white fingers.

“You could come with me?”

She smirked. “For sparring practice?”

“For…many things.” Zak frowned as he motioned over his shoulder to where her slave clothing was bundled. “You have no Cult, no Kabal, no ties anywhere now, except perhaps as an escaped slave. I do not know if Archon Douraal will seek you out, but…”

“I could make a living on my skills still,” she noted, “there are many who would pay for an attractive bodyguard or enforcer.”

“And I could leave you enough soul chits to buy decent clothing and gear to get you started, yes,” Zak agreed.

“But you want me to come to your temple?”

“Honor, duty, the clean kill, the focused slaying.” Zak stared into her eyes. “You are an Incubus, Obessa, though you may not know it yet, you are meant to wear the skull.”

“And I could be accepted, just like that?”

“No,” Zak shook his head. “You would have to go through the training. Day in and out of grueling work to learn all styles of combat, and to learn and master the weapons of the Incubus; the Punisher, the Tormentor, and the blade of blades, the Klaive. You will be doubted, insulted, thought of as less worthy due to your gender. You will work harder than you’ve ever worked, with almost no offer of praise, and you will kill or be killed in a desperate bid to advance in rank while all those above you watch you carefully for any sign of weakness.”

“You don’t recruit for your temple much, do you?” She smiled at him. “Why do you think I should go through all of that?”

“Because you would be excellent at it, you would see yourself as I see you, and you would do me the pleasure of staying close to me.”

“Indeed?” She reached out, grabbing the tabard that hung from his hips and tugged at it, pulling him up to her, “well, perhaps you should make sure to convince me that would be worth it then?”


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


He walked out of The Aerie, battered, bloody, his clothing torn, but it had all been worth it. Oh, yes, Glyvius had put on quite a show as they carried him off, and more than a few of those Scourge bastards had gotten in cheap shots. Still, they had upheld their end of the bargin. When Ben’rik had offered them everything he’d looted and twice as much afterwards as long as they would make sure his head was not one of those to adorn a spike on Tael’s wall.

From what he’d heard a few of the old Howlers now worked for ‘Douraal’. Though quite a number had not been so lucky, Ssinssilla, and poor, foolish Jorik. Those true believers, they would have had to have been put down, because the only way they would turn sides was if they knew who really sat on that throne, and Tael could clearly not allow that. Ben’rik supposed their heads looked well enough atop a spike. Of course, he had heard about Kyssindree, and that made sense. She would have flipped loyalties in a second and counted herself lucky for it. Ben’rik almost wondered if Tael would have let him live afterwards…still, best not to consider that too much, it would have been too risky to try.

A few ragged youths finally approached him as he began to exit the blood stained square in front of the tower. They looked like desperate boys, and readied themselves as they brandished small shivs at him. Yesterday Ben’rik would have simply overpowered one of them for a blade and murdered them both for their clothes, money, and weapons.

Yesterday.

Yesterday he didn’t have information about the real identity of an Archon, or the rolled up painting tucked into his vest that proved it to be true. There would be enemies for Tael now, new enemies. The Hellion leaders might be interested to know what had really happened, and certainly the Kabal had enemies, other Kabals, Wych Cults, Covens, many of them might be quite interested to know about this little leadership shift. There were more ways to topple a Kabal than just going to open war with it. Dirty, sneaky, underhand ways, the ways of the back alleys and streets that Ben’rik knew so well.

He owed Tael a debt, and Ben’rik liked to repay debts.

Ben’rik smiled at the two young bladesmen. Still children, wearing ragged clothes, but with that little spark that said they desired more and beleieved themselves fast, smart, and sharp enough to take it. Ben’rik remembered how Tael had smirked that first day he met him and he smirked now as well.

“How would you two like to sleep on ashsilk, consume a soul a day, and have men and women fear and desire you?”

The two youths paused, blinking uncertainly as the glanced at each other and then back at him. Ben’rik raised his arms in surrender.

“I am tired, wounded, unarmed, and totally at your mercy, but I can offer you so much more than you’ve ever had, if you’ll help me. Or, you can just kill me now for a moment of pleasure and stay in your current situation. Here, I’ll make it easy.” He slowly turned around, presenting his back to them, his hands still raised in surrender. Ben’rik waited a breath, wondering if he was going to feel a blade drive into his back. Then another breath. And then…

“What do we need to do?” One of the young bladesmen asked.

Ben’rik smirked as he turned back around.

This looked to be a promising beginning.




The End...for now


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

And that is a wrap.

The final fight scene came out about as nicely as I had hoped, and I trust answered (most of) the unanswered questions of what Tael had been up to all through the story. Some of you had dropped me PMs with various theories and it was actually rather interesting how many of you got quite close to the truth even from the get go. Clearly I dropped enough hints that the answer could be seen, but not so many that it was silly obvious, which is nice to know.

I had originally intended to have a higher body count amongst the principals then I managed here, after all, life in The Dark City can be brutal. That said...well, I fell too much in love with most of them and wanted a chance to tell further tales featuring them, so I sort of wimped out and left them mostly alive. I wasn't even wanting to kill Ssinssilla, but then again most of her interesting story is probably backstory, so I can always revisit it if I desire. Both Kyssindree and Ben'rik were going to end up dead, but Kyssindree managed to live just be being so awful of a person that I felt letting her live was worse and Ben'rik, well, he became possibly my favorite character and I just couldn't off him.

Another random revelation - I had originally intended to leave the Tael/Douraal battle much more vague about who was sitting upon the throne (Sharess would have conversations with 'the man' sitting there and the specifics of plans would not have been discussed. Mostly that changed as Ben'rik became more important to me, as him now having the foil of Tael is more interesting than Douraal (who would have basically just not even cared about Ben'rik at all).

Probably going to take a while before I undertake anything again, though I already have a few semi-started stories. Maybe I'll steal a page from Cavash and do a poll asking about my next tale. Hurm...

Until then, the story is over, so feel free to assess away Wink

_________________
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 K93hWhs
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 L1RsnGX
The Title Troupe! - Nom fellow posters for custom titles.
Back to top Go down
Devilish
Kabalite Warrior
Devilish


Posts : 139
Join date : 2011-11-23

Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Trueborn - completed - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeWed Dec 19 2012, 20:18

Wow, great story. I really enjoyed reading the whole thing and I can see myself re-reading this many times.
Back to top Go down
Nomic
Wych
Nomic


Posts : 559
Join date : 2011-05-27
Location : Finland

Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Trueborn - completed - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeWed Dec 19 2012, 20:28

It's finally over. To be honest, I'm a bit sad as I've been reading along since the very beginning and now it's all done. Hopefully you'll write some new stories soon, as this was without doubt one of the best pieces of 40k fiction I've read (better than most BL stuff for sure).

_________________
Tougher than wet kittens, with armour stonger than the dampest cardboard, we are coming for you!
Kabal of Drowned Hope/Cult of the Fatal Kiss/Dark Labyrinth Coven.
Back to top Go down
Lady Malys
She Who Must Be Obeyed
Lady Malys


Posts : 1102
Join date : 2011-05-18

Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Trueborn - completed - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeWed Dec 19 2012, 20:30

So there it is. Wow. Finally at the end. It's been an impressive journey and I was very pleased with the way things turned out, and how my guesses were or weren't right, and that you did tidy up loose ends (so many stories used to leave me with a feeling of "and then what?") Smile You did indeed provide enough to speculate with and not too much to give the plot away, a tricky balance to strike, but you hit it spot on Very Happy

Which one wins, Tael or Dourall? Sharess.

Ben'rik has grown on me (I understand a good topical cream will clear that up), he's got no class, no taste and the morals of a ... Dark Eldar but yes, seeing what he does next would be interesting Very Happy

Last word / favourite ending / resolution goes to Obessa:

Quote :
“Now that’s just odd, I thought you went out of your way to take your shirt off around me.”

Zak paused and glanced over his shoulder at her, his dark eyes gleaming slightly in the light though his face remained expressionless. “I don’t think I do that.”

“Oh, right,” Obessa smirked at him as she rolled over onto her belly and kicked her bare feet slowly in the air as she rested her chin in her hands. “I suppose it’s some sort of official combat doctrine in the Temple, obligating you to remove your shirt when practicing?”

“I am fairly certain it is not official doctrine,” Zak offered simply as he attached his other vambrace.

Incubus Cheesecake Style. Not official doctrine. Yet.

_________________
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 BbGpM5p
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Tdcawardssigcombosmalys
~ Aim to please, shoot to kill. ~
Back to top Go down
Thor665
Archon
Thor665


Posts : 5526
Join date : 2011-06-10
Location : Venice, FL

Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Trueborn - completed - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeWed Dec 19 2012, 20:36

Wink I did toss that in just as a shout out for you, Malys. I think your conclusions were more often correct than not as I recall it. I do know most of the time when I read your musings I'd be smirking and thinking 'oh, she got it' happily to myself.

@Nomic - Despite some of BL's issues the thought is vastly appreciated. Thanks for reading, and, yes, I'll probably write other stuff.

@Devilfish - thank you very much!

_________________
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 K93hWhs
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 L1RsnGX
The Title Troupe! - Nom fellow posters for custom titles.
Back to top Go down
Lady Malys
She Who Must Be Obeyed
Lady Malys


Posts : 1102
Join date : 2011-05-18

Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Trueborn - completed - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeWed Dec 19 2012, 21:01

Aha, I did wonder! Very Happy That makes me happy. So does knowing my speculations were well received. Being right is fun too obviously Wink

EDIT: I wanted to note in passing that Kyssindree is wearing her hair bound, like Obessa said she should ... and that we now know why the name of the Kabal is the Shattered Soul. I loved that detail. It's exactly the sort of thing an Archon would do.

_________________
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 BbGpM5p
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Tdcawardssigcombosmalys
~ Aim to please, shoot to kill. ~
Back to top Go down
Painbiro
Kabalite Warrior
avatar


Posts : 110
Join date : 2011-09-12
Location : In your nightmares

Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Trueborn - completed - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeWed Dec 19 2012, 23:15

Brilliant. So many little clones, so much fun. Very clever ending, although I'm disappointed it's over. Well done.

_________________
Dark Eldar 2k - 23 wins, 3 draw, 3 loss

Dark Eldar? Grimdark? What a silly idea. The Adventures of I-XV7-DM
https://www.thedarkcity.net/t3020p20-the-adventures-of-i-xv7-dm

Back after hiatus. For Commorragh!
Back to top Go down
sammun
Hellion
avatar


Posts : 25
Join date : 2012-09-18
Location : The void.

Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Trueborn - completed - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeThu Dec 20 2012, 22:26

What can I say?

WOW?! No, thats not enough.
WTF?! no, still seems a little too short of the mark.

... Yep, thats good. The stunned silence thing works great.

This was a brilliant read, I must have read through this at least 5 times. You're a brilliant writer mate, can't wait until you have something new for us.

Though I have to say, I only added Beast Masters to my army cause of you! I LOVE YOU WREN!
Back to top Go down
Lady Malys
She Who Must Be Obeyed
Lady Malys


Posts : 1102
Join date : 2011-05-18

Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Trueborn - completed - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeFri Dec 21 2012, 00:58

... all right, I'll admit to some Wren love too Very Happy

_________________
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 BbGpM5p
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Tdcawardssigcombosmalys
~ Aim to please, shoot to kill. ~
Back to top Go down
Thor665
Archon
Thor665


Posts : 5526
Join date : 2011-06-10
Location : Venice, FL

Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Trueborn - completed - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeFri Dec 21 2012, 04:11

@Lady Malys wrote:
I wanted to note in passing that Kyssindree is wearing her hair bound, like Obessa said she should ... and that we now know why the name of the Kabal is the Shattered Soul. I loved that detail. It's exactly the sort of thing an Archon would do.
Well, the hair thing did come back to bite Kyssindree a bit during their duel Wink
And, yeah, what good Archon wouldn't want to make a snide superior remark about his skills/weakness/plans and keep it in the open just to show off?

@Painbiro wrote:
Brilliant. So many little clones, so much fun. Very clever ending, although I'm disappointed it's over. Well done.
Thank you, sir. I'm sure some of the other very nice writers here will still keep people entertained though, albeit perhaps with zombie invasions or something Wink

@sammun wrote:
Though I have to say, I only added Beast Masters to my army cause of you! I LOVE YOU WREN!
I will happily admit that I would like to have an official Wren model - now I just need to learn how to sculpt well enough to manage a cloak of feathers and also to do the spiky hair...ah well.

Beastmasters are deucedly fun to write for, I'll add. I kind of wish I'd figured out how to have them around more without disrupting the story flow. No such luck.

_________________
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 K93hWhs
Trueborn - completed - Page 7 L1RsnGX
The Title Troupe! - Nom fellow posters for custom titles.
Back to top Go down
Archon Farath Mure
Kabalite Warrior
avatar


Posts : 195
Join date : 2011-05-19

Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Trueborn - completed - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeFri Dec 21 2012, 08:07

I too am tempted to try making a Wren model when I put together a beastmaster unit. And maybe a female incubus, too.

_________________
"Let the vermin burn. We shall drink deep of their screams this night." Archon Farath Müre, High Archon of the Kabal of the Consuming Flame
(11/5/2013: A few things have been added to the Kabal's fluff, most notably shifting their base of operations into the Webway, sort of, and adding an alliance with the Alpha Legion, or at least a few heads of the hydra.)
Back to top Go down
Sponsored content





Trueborn - completed - Page 7 Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Trueborn - completed - Page 7 I_icon_minitime

Back to top Go down
 
Trueborn - completed
Back to top 
Page 6 of 7Go to page : Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  Next

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
THE DARK CITY :: 

OTHER DRUKHARI DISCUSSION

 :: Stories & Art; The Black Library
-
Jump to: