- Objectionable Content Warnings:
THE ARCHON'S FAVOUR
Arzurdar never accepted defeat. Defeat meant death, a lesson he learned first-hand in Commorragh’s arenas.
Born into the Wych Cult of the Bloodied Consort, Arzurdar was rigorously trained to be a gladiator worthy of the Dark City’s stadiums of slaughter. In his fifteenth year, he felled a clawed fiend with an evisceration so beautiful his competitors sneered with disdain. By his fiftieth year, his fellow wyches despised him. He would never obtain a position of prestige in the Cult, the Bloodbrides made sure to remind him of that, but his prospects as breeding stock were high.
But Arzurdar wanted more than to merely sire offspring. Much more. So, whenever he stepped onto the trap-laden pit of the Qarnathae Arena, he made sure to give them a show to remember. Aerial decapitations, slow strangulations, ricocheting competitors into one another’s lethal strikes. That murderous flair was how he first caught the attention of Archon Krethaq Ivensyr, an eager patron who often visited him after a show. And when Arzurdar was finally defeated, decapitated during a high-speed arena bout against a Heliarch, it was Krethaq who oversaw his resurrection.
From that day onwards, he was no longer a wych, but a warrior in the Kabal of the Howling Thirst. Kill-by-kill he climbed the ranks, earning himself the position of Dracon and the favour of their Archon. But just like with the arena’s spectators, favour could quickly turn against you. And he would not lose his Archon’s favour, for that would mean defeat. And defeat meant death.
Joined by his personal clique of Sybarites, Arzurdar entered into the Archon’s throne room aboard the Vilsqarn. They walked with an undeniable aura of arrogance, as if they were returning from a Sector-wide conquest. Sharlth, Arzurdar’s violet-furred gyrinx, padded alongside her master’s feet in an equally conceited manner.
Succubus Mero’athys and her coterie of murderesses were in attendance, freshly returned from their campaign in the Laevenir Archipelago with an assortment of Tyranid claws and heads hung from their trophy racks. Mero’athys watched Arzurdar approach with a pointedly appraising stare, an underlying challenge in her dark eyes. He was born of her Cult and whatever he reported now would reflect on them. If he had failed, she might kill him herself.
Krethaq lounged back imperiously upon his throne. The Archon was surrounded by blade-mounted trophies from various kills; the crystalized remains of a Deathwatch Watch Captain, the skull of a Genestealer Patriarch, the horned helmet of a Champion of Chaos. And now, knelt beside his throne, was Archon S’voel, Krethaq’s newest ‘kill’. S’voel’s cranium was embedded with the rubbery tendrils of a medusae, burrowed deep and now controlling the former-Archon’s mind. Rather than simply take the Archon’s head, Krethaq chose a far crueller means of making S’voel his trophy.
Flanked by Lagaeth and Gth’zeir, Arzurdar stopped at the Incubi-guarded steps leading up to the Archon’s throne. They lowered their heads with deference, fists pressed into their chests.“You took your time, Dracon.”
Krethaq mused, tapping his gloved fingers against the rune-carved arm of his throne. “I hope you have something to show for it.”“There were complications.”
Arzurdar looked back up, gaze briefly flitting to S’voel’s medusae-snared visage. A wretched reminder of what fate crossing an Archon could bring. “But our hunt proved successful, my Archon. We have found Scathea.”“What complications?”
Krethaq asked firmly.“A Daemon Prince.”
Arzurdar’s answer sent a bristle of varied emotions out among the assembled court. “It called itself Parsephelos and ruled the world that was our entry point into a forgotten corner of the webway. From there we followed a lost series of passageways that lead us right to Scathea.”“This daemon still lives?”
questioned Mero’athys, the Succubus quickly sensing a worthy challenge.“He does. He pursued us through the webway and onto Scathea, but we evaded him from there.”
He smirked. “A servant of She Who Thirsts, no less. The Ynnari would be thrilled to hear of his demise.”“Size and strength?”“Tall, powerful and disturbingly fast.”
Mero’athys tightened her grip around her Archite Glaive at that answer, already visualizing the battle that awaited her against Parsephelos. And where she would mount the Daemon Prince’s head afterwards. She smirked and threw the Archon a knowing look, silently pledging her Wyches to whatever conflict awaited them upon Scathea.“Describe Scathea to me.”
Krethaq demanded, leaning forward slightly.“Pale. Barren. The sky burned violet. Somewhere at the fringes of the Warp, I suspect.”
Arzurdar folded his arms. “Littered with ruins of our lost empire. I suspect the Temple of Vaul is out there among them. No signs of Gruelthax nor his Coven, my Archon. We have found it first.”“For now.”
Krethaq rose to his feet, slowly descending down towards Arzurdar and his Sybarites, cloak trailing over the steps. “Gruelthax will find Scathea soon enough, though finding it first presents an opportunity. This Daemon Prince of yours will be quite the inconvenience for the Haemonculi when he arrives, an inconvenience we will exploit. Yes, this will work very nicely.”“So, have I won back your favour, my Archon?”
Arzurdar asked, smug smile ever-present.
Indignation flared in Krethaq’s dark eyes as they fixated on his Dracon, tension running through his tightly clenched jaw. Arzurdar did not flinch at the look. He knew his Archon just like he once knew the arena audience. Thus, he knew how to tease him and subvert his expectations, even at great personal risk. After all, what worth was victory without some spectacle.“It’s a start…”
Krethaq answered, lips pulled tight. He lifted a gloved hand and gestured to the room. “Leave us.”
Mero’athys balanced her Archite Glaive against her shoulder, elegantly turning on her heel and departing from the throne room with her clique of Bloodbrides in tow. Lagaeth and Gth’zeir exchanged knowing smiles before departing, the bladed doors shutting behind them. Only the dark-armoured Incubi remained, ever-guarding their Archon.
Krethaq reached up and grabbed Arzurdar by the chin, leaning in to stare eye-to-eye with his Dracon. Tension filled the air as both tightened their muscles, ready to lash out at one another. A moment of stillness followed, broken only when Sharlth rubbed herself against Krethaq’s leg affectionately, the gyrinx reflecting her master’s true intent.
With sudden urgency, both Archon and Dracon pressed their lips together. They pulled in close, kissing beneath the light of a red star that shone through the clear dome roof. Their embrace quickly grew more intense, clawing against one another with greedy desire. Arzurdar fell back, landing against the onyx steps as Krethaq straddled atop him. Armour was stripped away and cast aside, crimson plates scattering as the two drukhari consummated their renewed passion.
Pale muscles pressed tightly against Krethaq’s own, Arzurdar arched his back against the steps and snarled with pleasure-wrought triumph. His Archon’s favour was firmly secured.