- Objectionable Content Warnings:
“Mistress, another unit has abandoned their post.”
The growl that ripped out of Archon Severus’ throat didn’t quite prepare the closest slave for the beheading that followed. As the body thudded to the ground, the Archon turned to the messenger, “Is it the Ynnari again?”
“… yes, Mistress. The God of the Dead’s power is ascending and our warriors find it too attractive.”
Severus shook her head slowly. “Admittedly, with Vect and Lady Malys disappearance and the Dark City itself besieged, our own power has fallen. All of our recent victories have only come from alliances with our cousins. And now even our own warriors join the banner of that damned abomination. This cannot continue.”
“Mistress, maybe a change of venue would be appropriate?”, the Succubus offered, “Maybe we should abandon the Dark City and forge our own path?”
“Hm.”, Severus paced around her dais. Coldly evaluating each of the members of her court, she attempted to divine who might be the next to desert. Something must be done and it has to be done now. The risk of continued inaction was too great.
At the last round table her fellow Drukhari Archon’s all expressed the same problems. Raids were nearly impossible to carry out without help from beyond their borders. So unit after unit became disillusioned of the failures and heeded the call of Yvraine. The flow of warriors out of the dark city had been steady.
Most had thought that the disappearance of both Vect and Lady Malys would have left a power vacuum so desirable that the entirety of the Dark City would have murdered each other for the right to lead - but this failed to happen. Instead, the Archons hid in their fortresses like cattle waiting for the slaughter. No one dared move first. It was disgusting.
A plan began forming in her mind and the first orders flowed: “Summon the Mandrakes and the Haemonculus. I have an idea.”
“Master!”, the wrack burst into his master’s workshop.
“Sarloa, about time. Hand me that Pear of Anguish. This should prove ... interesting.”
“But Master, Archon Severus has called you for an audience!”
“Oh, the interuptions! I swear a good wrack apprentice is impossible to find these days. Haven’t I told you to stop taking calls? Any fool knows that the first step to stop taking calls is to STOP TAKING CALLS. Ignore them - this is the real work.
If you want to be a great Haemonculus then you need time for research. Now, quickly, bring over the Judas Cradle and pay attention. This device was a gift from a monkeigh Inquisitor I helped when ... well, that's for another time. Just bring it over. ”
“But Master, they said it was important! “
At that moment the slave strapped to the slab expired. Sensing this, the haemonculus fixed Sarloa with a long stare that would have stopped the heart of an ur-ghul. Grudgingly he put down his instruments and walked out. Severus would answer for her impudence.
A mandrake shifted out of the shadows. Not so much stepping out, rather the shadow simply coalesced into his shape as if it were poured into a new container. Careful not to step into the full light of the throne room, he bowed his head.
“Lady Severus”, the mandrakes voice was soft like silk pulled lightly across new skin.
“Marnean, welcome. Master Redlum will be here shortly. Thank you for coming.”
“Kheraruakh sends his regards.”
As the mandrake settled in to wait, the doors opened.
“Ah, there you are you insipid wench. My experiments are wasting away and Sarloa here says you ‘demand’ to see me. This had better be worthwhile or I swear you’ll wait an aeon before I recover your essence again.”
“Master Redlum, please, let me explain.
As each of you know Commorragh has become an empty husk. Raids are nearly impossible and our kin are flocking to the banner of the Ynnari. This has impacted all of us as the price of slaves has reached epic proportions. Even the Mandrakes must admit that if Commorragh falls their shadow empire will be placed in jeopardy.”
“Yes, yes, yes, we are all very well aware of the situation. Now, get to the good part. Specifically the part where you’ll ensure a lifetime's worth of slaves in exchange for an afternoons work. I am truly busy and you are, quite frankly, boring me.”
“Marnean – I need you to acquire a designer. We need to improve our weapons and vehicles. Locate this being and their loved ones. Bring them to me and my Medusae will align their purpose to ours.
Master Redlum – I need you to deliver new drugs and new engines of pain. This reliance on our cousins must come to an end. Whatever you need, my armies will provide. We must derive even greater Power from Pain than we have ever felt.
With these new potions and wargear I will divine new strategies and Commorragh will rise again.”
Silence filled the chamber for a few moments as each of the participants considered.
“The mandrakes agree with your plan. I will return.” With that, Marnean slipped into the darkness.
“Well, now, this actually is something that’s right up my alley. Come Sarloa - put that down you don't know where it's been - we have real work to do.” Master Redlum left in a flurry of motion.
“Mistress, will this work?”, the Succubus asked.
“Our time is coming little one, just wait.”