- Objectionable Content Warnings:
Death of Drayn
Torment and hate.
These are the only emotions that course through my disconnected vessel I used to treat like a temple. My body and mind were an external representation of the monastic shrines and temples that lay at the heart of my craftworld Iyanden amongst the ghost halls of House Haladesh, the place I used to call home.
Ripped away from my birth parents along with my twin brother we did not lose faith, trained relentlessly and harsher than other Aeldari we did not falter. As long as I had my blood, my brother, my kin by my side then I would do anything the Autarchs asked of me, but then they took him away too. I was Issidrach Drayn, a former Striking Scorpion and devout walker of the Asuryani Path.
My brother Heskedrach chose the Path of the Seer since he was more adept with his innate psychic powers as he was seemingly able to bend reality to his whim without much thought let alone any mishaps or perils that is a constant threat to every soul connected to the Warp. I on the other hand was much more inclined to use what little psychic talents I had to create another opening for my blade. I wanted to protect my brother by striking down anyone that was able, or dared to approach Heskedrach. We both had jet-black hair that contrasted our alabaster skin that stretched taut on our lean muscular frames. The only and biggest difference between our appearances was our eye color. He had piercing crimson irises while mine were a bright violet tone.
We performed our best in small strike teams on the battlefield where we were able to shift encounters in our favor even when the odds were insurmountable. We changed the rules of engagement, fought on our terms, disappeared only to return with the gift of death wrapped tightly around our enemies. We enjoyed purging maiden worlds of daemons and vermin that came to inhabit and desecrate the lands of our forefathers.
However, for higher beings, a simple satisfactory existence never lasts long. The talks betwixt the leaders of our small warhost grew more fervent as reclamation teams recovered yet another Wraithknight found on an ancient maiden world near the Eye of Terror. The birth of twins was a very rare occasion, so the topic resurfaced for Heskedrach and I, to abandon our paths and pilot the construct sooner than later. The Wraithknight, a macabre specter of ingenuity and unnecessary sacrifice. I knew our leaders' intentions as early as I heard House Haladesh’s stories of these living machines as a child.
This sentiment of self-sacrifice amongst the Iyanden people was all too common for my taste. Our world had come to the brink of annihilation from a monstrous hivemind of void spawn insects, and all that remained were the crumbs of a feast devoured long ago. Before the fall of our race the wraith warriors were once seen as a punishment or a perverse practice, now when they are trotted out, we feign admiration for the sacrifice the warriors have made to protect their respective noble houses and our world.
A pair of Aeldari that were spiritually and mentally synched were needed in order to pilot these wraithbone constructs. They needed twins. These living husks needed our souls and the souls of the strongest Asuryani warriors in order to function. Heskedrach was willing to sacrifice, willing to gamble his eternal essence and be bound inside this giant tomb never knowing the protection afforded to all others of our kin by entering the Infinity Circuit.
I was more concerned about my brother's willingness to resign himself to doom so easily, to which he always responded that we cannot truly control fate. Let the runes fall where they naturally would. So, we persisted down our path and they eventually separated us. The wise ones had wanted us to walk different paths that would inevitably converge later in time. A day that would never come.
Deeply wounded we were, but at the very least my brother and I could always faintly sense each other. Our spirit stones constantly pulsed with our dormant psychic energies. Deep down we knew that we were of one mind in two bodies. Gradually we formed new bonds, and I hurled myself down the Path of the Warrior and became a Striking Scorpion. I was a fast learner and hungry to outdo my brother as he made great strides to become a master Bonesinger. Even distanced by hundreds of light years I could sense his control over the Warp grow day by day.
On one of my last patrols in the outer rim of our patrol sector, my team received an unusual mission from the Autarch himself. My small team and our Exarch, Le'anden, were tasked with a recovery mission on an old moon station. Upon arriving we were immediately stalked. Malevolent eyes thirstily lingered on our every movement even as our forms melded with the shadows themselves. Sensing we were the ones being hunted, I called for us to fade away back to our Wave Serpent, but it was already too late. The Serpent lay disabled and the crew’s innards were strewn over its hull. We fell back as quick as we could abandoning any notion of stealth we once had, only to find the Webway Gate we used had been closed from the other side. With insufficient time to reopen the gate, we were ambushed by a band of elite warriors of the Drukhari, the ones that call themselves Incubi.
At the battles conclusion I was the only Scorpion left standing. Le'anden was felled by their Klaivex but not before dispatching two Incubi single-handedly. We were betrayed by the Light in the Darkness. I confirmed my theory upon asking the lone enemy survivor myself, after I attained my revenge by beheading their Klaivex of course. The remaining Incubus told me they were tasked with returning my spirit stone along with my team back to Iyanden. Their only price was the spirit stone of my Exarch which was already broken, his soul already being consumed by She Who Thirsts.
“So which path will you walk now Scorpion?” the Incubus asked me after what felt like an eternity of silence between us.
Filled with a rage I couldn’t control, despite all of my teachings, I chose to walk my own path at that moment. Disgusted, I took my own spirit stone and shattered it. Immediately I felt the slow steady sucking pain of The Dark Prince suckling at my soul. My already pale skin, started to lose its vibrance and sheen. I felt drained, tired yet filled to the brim with a passionate hatred. The worst part about it was that I enjoyed feeling it.
I decided my vengeance would be two-fold. I would kill the leader of this Incubi shrine then I'd hunt down my own Autarch, for I know it was he that laid forth this plan to claim my soul, to eternally grief my brother and lock him away inside the hulking Wraithknight.
My journey on the warrior path was not over, just diverted. I hid the soul stones of my fellow Scorpions and set up a beacon. It was the least I could do for them. His mission had been unsuccessful so Orean, the last Incubus, feigned apathy. In truth, if he could he would have struck me down if he had the strength left. The same feelings applied to myself.
I doffed my once beloved green and yellow aspect armor and donned the impossibly light and durable armaments of the dreaded Incubi. Lastly, I claimed the broken spirit stone of Le’anden, my Exarch, who was now lost and being eternally consumed by She Who Thirsts. I went to the Dark City with Orean, and through much effort, joined the ranks of a small hierarchy called the Shrine of the Infinite Twilight residing in a miniscule sub-realm of Commorragh.
My identity was known only to Orean but it mattered very little, the shrines and the Eternal City ran upon pure meritocracy, skill and of course deception. Lying and backstabbing became my new truth, it sickened me to the core but at least it served as a true constant, an eternal baseline. I honed my skills with the klaive until I became the blade itself.
I am a fast learner. Soon I was once again the leader of a small team of elite warriors, this time as a Klaivex. We guarded Archons, decapitated daemons, and enslaved all manner of large brutish mon’keigh. I developed a knack for snatching particularly powerful souls with various traps, fetishes, periapts and talismans and exchanged them for exotic weapons of war through the Haemonculi covens.
In due time I challenged the Hierarch to lead the shrine. In the history of the Shrine of the Infinite Twilight there had only been 11 Hierarchs, warriors of the blade with near perfect swordsmanship, footwork, finesse and raw power. The loser of this duel would be fed to the murder flame of Kaela Mensha Khaine. That aspect was eerily similar, the incubi shrines upheld the same level of strictness to the craft of war and bloodletting as the craftworld shrines dedicated to the same God. The only difference was I didn’t have to keep my emotions in check.
Years' worth of bottled fury, aggression, and restraint flew from my body like a reaver jet bike racing directly at the Hierarch. During that duel, which I am told lasted nearly 30 minutes, was the first time I had used Le’anden’s broken spirit stone which was now a device called a bloodstone. My bloodstone in simple terms was an upgraded form of the Incubi tormentors. The residual psychic imprint my former Exarch left behind in his broken shell combined with ancient Exodite rituals gave it the power to boil the blood and break the minds of all who oppose me.
After years of planning, political moves, servitude and raiding I finally had enough resources to make a ploy at my old Autarch. Visions of me separating his head from his lithe shoulders filled my dreams and I'd like to believe they even sated the constant drain on my soul. I established a series of false distress beacons of missing Haladesh vessels on an abandoned mining colony.
I knew their operations and how they would dispatch. The signals were too far away from any gate, they’d have to traverse into Real Space for the extensive voyage. For as many missing vessels and signals were being broadcast, they’d have to bring a cruiser and powerful warriors to deal with whatever was causing the distress. Being a symbol of hope, I had no doubt the Autarch would be upon the cruiser. It’d be an easy morale lifter to deal with the minor thorn of the beacons and missing warriors that I had established. There I could distract his forces and single the Autarch out.
Still blinded by rage I vastly overestimated my influence and the ruse failed in an interesting way. A representative from Iyanden did appear at the mining colony, but it was not the Autarch or my previous warhost, it was my only brother Heskedrach, clad in the vestments of a Warlock. For the first time in years, I felt my brother’s psychic connection and it made my head throb with dull pain. After years spent repressing my own psychic power in Commorragh I had lost the ability to sense my brother. My plan would always be doomed from the start with my brother still loyal to Iyanden.
After a prolonged silence amongst the ruins of the barren red planet, Heskedrach said, “Did you really think the Autarch would come here, you really think yourself that clever? Did you truly believe that by crushing your spirit stone I would not look for you Issidrach.”
I said nothing knowing all too well how the conversation would eventually end.
“I understand your anger,” Heskedrach continued, “but if you proceed down this path your soul will soon be devoured. You’ve grown so reckless in your search for power you have taken shelter with the bedmates of the She Who Thirsts. You are directly feeding Her.”
“You understand that I would already be dead by now were it not for my own dedication and strength. My team, Le’anden died for nothing, at least now I have the freedom to choose my own death. I intend it to come later rather than sooner.”
“Then what? You have no plan for what comes afterwards brother, I know you don’t. I see so many paths open to us even now. So many of them lead to one of us either dead or horribly consumed. End this now, come back to Iyanden with me and let’s work towards a prosperous future for our people.”
“frak Iyanden, you are my only kin. Come join me, with your knowledge of the Warp you can navigate the paths for us. We can forge the lives we always wanted. We will be slaves to no one.”
“Whoever you have grown to be in such a short time, is now a stranger to me,” Heskedrach said as he lowered his head in resignation, unsheathed his ornate Witchblade, and readied his Singing Spear.
“Then we have no more to talk about, one way or the other you will come with me Hesk,” my demiklaive was silent as I twisted the hilt and separated the weapon into two separate klaives.
“Interesting, I thought you lost your ability to read my mind Issi.”
Now I am truly alone. Surrounded by the most depraved of my kind, betrayed by the most noble, and forced to kill my true brother, my other half. Heskedrach’s soul rests peacefully inside its stone, his body lays in stasis in a regenerative pod, the pod in a pocket realm that I procured from a family of Sslyth that now serve me. I had come to the end of the path as a warrior, gone as far as I could have on that path without completely losing myself. My brother has saved me from that fate and I will one day return the favor. As quickly as I had become the Hierarch, I relinquished the role to the next best Klaivex. In the end, it was Orean who took the mantle as the 13th Hierarch of the shrine.
I will continue to build up my splinter into a notable kabal through the selling of high value trapped souls to the Haemonculi. My enemies will fear not physical pain, but the unrelenting, never-ending spiritual pain as I do. The Kabal of the Fractured Soul will take hold of their essence as it is being sucked into the Warp, leaving it in tatters like a flag after years of service. The twisted path that lays before me now is the Path of Command.
I am no longer Issidrach Drayn. I am Archon Razeniann the Soulbreaker.