- Objectionable Content Warnings:
A day had passed since Krethaq had killed Archon S’voel Vethidran. The two had a long and complicated history, riddled with venomous feuds and expedient alliances. Their rivalry was in their blood, set centuries ago when the withered matriarch of the Vethidran bloodline stole a wych cult’s patronage from Krethaq’s mother, Balrachi. Since then, the two families engaged in a committed game of one-upmanship.
First, the main weapon’s factory of Vethidran’s Kabal imploded. Then, an outbreak of an alien virus that caused organs to liquidize ravaged the Ivensyr’s slave oubliettes. A week later, an infestation of Ur-Ghul’s found its way into the Vethidran’s pleasure gardens. So on, so forth. But whenever one family would get the upper hand, something inevitably tipped the balance of power back again, drawing out their bitter rivalry.
One would think Morai-heg herself was toying with the feuding families, were she not stewing in the belly of Slaanesh.
Yet despite these past grievances, S’voel and Krethaq often found themselves working in collaboration, for both shared a distinct appetite for mon’keigh slaves taken from Death Worlds. Their raids were bloody and rich with bounty, torturing worlds and stealing away their most prized stock. Never once did their schemes and deceits abate, of course, but working together did offer opportunities neither could secure alone.
Alas, now was the end of their long game. Krethaq sat upon Archon S’voel’s regenerative coffin, watching eagerly as the aeldari’s face slowly restored beneath the clear pane of its lid. He was almost fully reconstructed, the white of his bones now covered in sinew, flesh creeping over the taut musculature of his angular visage. Soon, S’voel would awaken and find his sarcophagus not within the hidden depths of his palatial stronghold in Commorragh, but in the throne room of Krethaq’s battleship. “How much longer, Vircylith?”
Krethaq asked, impatience clear in the Archon’s dark eyes as he threw a glance to his favoured flesh-crafter.
Vircylith crept closer to peer at the coffin, lengthened spine slithering behind her. The flesh-crafter had made some curious self-modifications of late, such as dramatically elongating her cranium and transfusing her skin with a resilient rubbery material. From behind her onyx mask, her voice echoed with distortion.“But a few minutes, my Archon.”
She gestured with a hand of bladed fingers. “I advise patience, for interrupting the regenerative process might leave you with little to interrogate.”“Patience? Not one of our Archon’s strong suits.”
Arzurdar added with a sharp-toothed grin. Nearby, an Incubi stirred, as if expecting the order to butcher the glib-tongued Dracon. No such order came.“I have waited a long time for this moment.”
Krethaq answered with a sleek smile, his pale face handsome and smooth, having freshly glutted upon suffering and souls. “Thus, a few more minutes should be quite manageable.”
Since the Dysjunction and the involuntary expulsion of Krethaq and his Kabal from Commorragh, S’voel had been eating away at Krethaq’s powerbase. Chemical factories were raided, weapon stores plundered, complete tiers of his sub-realm traded away to hellion gangs for favours. But worst of all, he learned that it was S’voel’s intel that allowed the Haemonculi Gruelthax Xylle to locate Krethaq. And because of that, Krethaq lost hundreds of his kabalites to Covenite attacks and mandrake incursions
Reparations were in order.
Krethaq sent out messages to a few disposable allies within Commorragh, ones easily intercepted by S’voel’s Scourges. These messages were a call to arms for Ynnari devotees and contained just enough information to reveal Krethaq’s location. He knew S’voel would seize such an opportunity, unable to resist the chance to finally fell his old rival.
Gathering the Kabal of the Gloaming Blood, Archon S’voel lead them into realspace to locate Krethaq’s Ynnari flotilla. Unfortunately for him, the Kabal of the Howling Thirst and their Corsair allies laid in wait at S’voel’s oft used webway gate near the Screaming Vortex. The moment the Gloaming Blood’s ships passed through the portal into the violet light of the distant Warp Storm, they were assailed at all angles by phantom lances and scythe missiles. The battle was short and vicious.
Face fully reformed and body reassembled, S’voel’s regeneration was completed. An array of lights shined within the coffin’s crystalized interior, activating the dormant Archon’s vital functions, unleashing a pulse of raw psychic energy to feed his withered soul. With a start, he awakened, dark eyes snapping open as he gasped his first reborn breath.
The light stung his eyes. His ears were filled with a constant, muted drone. His skin, re-knit and plastered upon his decimated body, was agonizingly sensitive. The rush of awakened senses drowned out his usually stiletto sharp focus, until the lid of his sarcophagus was unceremoniously slid open and Krethaq’s pale face loomed into view above him.“Hello again, S’voel.”
S’voel looked around the crimson-armoured Archon, quickly discerning he was aboard a drukhari vessel and not within his hidden catacombs. Realizing his dire predicament, he focused again on Krethaq. “What?”
S’voel rasped with irritation.“First of all, you fought with all the lacking grace of a Sec Maegra mercenary. Killing you was far more dissatisfying than I imagined.”
Krethaq bemoaned, mounting an armoured boot on the coffin’s edge. He rested an arm over his bent knee. “Now, where is Gruelthax Xylle?”“This is about him?”
S’voel sneered, peeling his wet back free of the coffin’s base. Vulnerable or not, he was an Archon still and would not lay low to a rival. “I was killed for information on that hunched wretch?”“Correct.”
Krethaq answered with a tilt of his head. “You have long been eager to win favour with Gruelthax. And understandably so. Your Kabal’s pitiable forces could use a few Engines of Pain. But helping him locate me?”
He tutted. “Quite the mistake.”“You mewling worm.”
S’voel’s eyes thinned with hatred. “You forsook your power and status to adulate a false god. You are a slave, Krethaq. And you dare make demands of me? Go ask the Craftworld witches you have shackled yourself to for your answers, rather than waste my time.”“Mewling worm? Apt choice of words, S’voel.”
Krethaq mused, gesturing someone closer. Vircylith crept over once more, the flesh-crafter sliding open the lid of a large bone jar. Krethaq reached inside, grasping the winding body of a haemovore and pulling it free, the blood worm writhing within his gloved grip.“Merciful as I am, I am granting you another day to reconsider your position.”
Krethaq spoke as he stared into the circular mouth of the haemovore, appreciating its flexing rows of barbed fangs. “We will speak further then, old friend.”
With that said, he dropped the wiggling red worm into S’voel’s coffin.
Quickly, it latched its fanged mouth onto the Archon’s chest. S’voel snarled as he tried to pry the blood worm free, but its corded body coiled tightly around him. As he struggled, the lid of his sarcophagus was slid shut once more. The screaming that followed was muted, barely audible from within the sealed coffin. Krethaq watched S’voel’s face shrivel and his papery skin split, fluids drained from his body in mere seconds. With a deep breath, Krethaq drunk in the potent concoction of agony and terror that now laced the air, the suffering satisfying his craven soul.“I will prepare victims for his next regeneration, my Archon. You will be informed when he is ready for further interrogation.”
Vircylith assured while attending the quieting coffin.
Turning away from S’voel’s desiccated remains with a sweep of his cloak, Krethaq strolled over to Arzurdar. Moving faster than the former-wych was able to anticipate, Krethaq grasped his hand around the Dracon’s muscled neck. His fingers gripped tightly, pressing down on Arzurdar’s arteries, dark eyes locked on his lover’s own. “You and I will have a talk about patience.”