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RELICS OF SUFFERING
Reaching out with two of her four hands, Vircylith carefully picked up a gleaming skull from her cabinet of arcane curios. She ran her finger over the runes etched onto its smooth cranium, the vampiric sigils lighting up with malefic violet light and radiating a palpable hunger. Whenever she touched them, she felt a tension upon her soul as something pulled against it, eager to consume it. The perverse sensation was briefly enjoyed by the flesh-sculptor, tittering behind her onyx facemask.
Slithering around on her elongated spine, Vircylith turned back towards Krethaq and Mero’athys. She offered out the skull for the Archon to take.“Your Soul Trap, my Archon. As requested.”
Elegantly lifting his gloved hands, Krethaq collected the alien skull from Vircylith and looked into its empty sockets. Curiously, he could see something writhing in the darkness behind them, further piquing his interest. Mero’athys gave it a fleeting look, though the Succubus found her attention drifting between the obscure and esoteric weaponry stored within the flesh-sculptor’s chamber.“And this will be strong enough to capture Gruelthax Xylle’s soul when I carve it from his body?”
queried the Archon, still turning the skull in inspection.“Most certainly,”
Vircylith answered, shutting her glass cabinet of cursed relics.“Wonderful. I look forward to peering into his eyes and witnessing the moment he realises his doom.”
Krethaq’s lips peeled back into a wry smile, hungrily envisioning the moment. “When I permanently do away with Gruelthax, there will be a vacancy within the Coven of the Hex.”“A vacancy I will not fill, my Archon.”“No?”
Krethaq paused, anger blossoming within him at the rejection of his yet-spoken idea.“No. The Haemonculi would not welcome a fellow artisan of flesh so openly affiliated with the Ynnari. They are too ancient to see beyond the reality they themselves have shaped, my Archon. Whereas I am more…”
Vircylith flicked the blades of her Scissorhand. “Open minded.”“Perhaps you should impart upon them the vision they presently lack.”“A difficult task, my Archon. Why would the Nadirists serve to birth the Whispering God when they themselves think they are gods? Why would the Nemesines help Yvraine when killing her would so delightfully snuff out the hope of so many?”
The flesh-sculptor raised her hands, motioning towards the rows of regenerative pods lining her laboratory’s walls. “My place is not among them. Not yet. Better to continue flourishing where I am, serving your Kabal, than be killed and reduced into alchemical ingredients by the Lords of Pain.”
Though disappointed in Vircylith’s lack of ambition, Krethaq dismissed his feelings of anger. “And you serve me well, flesh-sculptor.”
Peering back into the hollow eyes of his newly acquired Soul Trap, the Archon smiled with smug satisfaction, then fastened the relic onto his belt.
Mero’athys stepped closer to Vircylith, the Succubus’ height allowing her to loom a head higher than the flesh-sculptor. She peered down at the cabinet of curios, speaking with clipped words.“While the Archon busies himself with his personal vendetta, I will be leading the attack on the daemons of Scathea. Namely, a Daemon Prince of She Who Thirsts.”
A heavy frown formed on the gladiatrix’s brow. “I have slain powerful daemons before, though this shall prove more challenging.”“Do you seek something to improve your chances, blessed ynnitach?”“I do. What can your collection offer me?”
Humming behind her facemask, Vircylith gestured for her company to follow her as she delved deeper into her laboratory. She slithered past cloning tubes, surgical tables and slave cages until she reached an elaborate bone chest, guarded by one of her faithful wracks. Vircylith wafted him aside and reached for an archaic key on her belt, unlocking the ribbed trunk and reaching inside.
Carefully perched upon her metal fingertips was a thin, light-weight blade that seemed to bleed ephemeral shadows. They rolled off its sharpened edge like teardrops of liquid darkness. She turned to Mero’athys, offering it out to the Succubus. “A blade stolen from the shades of Aelindrach, capable of slicing between the many planes of existence. No daemon’s flesh will withstand it.”
Mero’athys accepted the narrow blade from Vircylith, turning and inspecting it against the light. She watched as particles of shadow seeped from its silver edge and faded into the air, all while admiring herself on its reflective surface.“Perfectly sized and balanced for my glaive.”
Mero’athys flipped the blade, deftly catching it by its handle. “I will use this.”“The carnage you cause with it will be extraordinary, blessed ynnitach.”
Minutes later, both Archon and Succubus departed from Vircylith’s laboratory, leaving the flesh-sculptor to her work. She slinked down into the deepest chamber of her gallery, entering into a circular, green-lit room containing two glass chambers. Inside each, unarmoured Astartes of the Deathwatch floated within ever-bubbling liquid, their broad bodies connected to a series of veins and tubes. These two had been gifted to her after the Archon and his forces destroyed their Kill Team. Formerly xenos-hunters, she was tasked with turning them into what they most deeply despised.
They had been changed, altered by her hand. One had his genetic material spliced with samples taken from a Genestealer Hybrid, the other mixed with genes harvested from Kroot Carnivores. Now both appeared as monstrosities. Though deprived of their ability to move, they were kept fully alert and aware of their horrific and inescapable circumstances. Whenever she moved close enough to the glass, she could see their beady eyes peering down at her from swollen sockets, filled with righteous fury and unfathomable disgust.
Drinking in the aroma of horror, hatred and despair ever-present in the chamber, Vircylith took a moment to relax and reflect. Though she had swiftly dismissed the Archon’s suggestion of joining the ranks of the Haemonculi, her dark heart wished she had accepted. Long had she aspired to be among the Lords of Pain. From a trueborn daughter to a lowly wrack to what she is now, Vircylith’s climb through her Coven had been long and arduous, but she could not grow impatient. She had to bide her time and wait for the right moment before ascending further. Otherwise, the climb would kill her. Just a little longer, she thought. Just a little longer.
Hugging up against the glass tube, Vircylith drifted into a wistful daydream.