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 The Dagger

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Posts : 27
Join date : 2021-01-25
Location : Avoiding Slaanesh across the cosmos.

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PostSubject: The Dagger   The Dagger I_icon_minitimeMon Dec 06 2021, 20:53

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Arzurdar hopped down from the webway gate with the most petulant sneer he could muster. A misted glade thick with crystallized flowers and trees awaited him, cloaked in a bluish fog that concealed anything more than a few meters away. The sight of such unravaged beauty made him want to gag.

“This place?” Arzurdar growled to himself. “Again?”

Despite the limited visibility, Arzurdar knew exactly where he needed to go, for this was his third time ending up in this secluded pocket of the webway. He walked through the knee-high flora, his crimson armour stark against their jewel toned petals, and towards the emerging silhouette of a pillared courtyard shaped from wraithbone. At the centre of its sheltered confines stood a statue of an aeldari figure sculpted from sparkling white stone, their features and form eschewing neither masculine nor feminine, but something more. Horns spouted from their brow and wings from their back, their naked body carved so expertly it appeared as soft as silk and was studded with innumerable jewels. The figure stood upon a plinth of fallen bodies, an orgy of epicene faces and serrated pincers sprawled beneath their feet.

Crushing a crystalized flower under his pointed boot with a satisfying crunch, Arzurdar looked up at the statue of glistening marble and wrinkled his nose. Was this a depiction of Ynnead? Though he was sworn to the god of the dead like all of his Kabal’s high command, Arzurdar’s interest in their chosen deity was more out of necessity, rather than a personal investment. Was that why the Harlequins bought him here? The Dracon scanned his perceptive eyes across the courtyard, searching for any signs of his colourful captors. He quickly found one.

Sat elegantly atop a tall column was Shadowseer Yl’saeth. Garbed in black holo-suit embellished with a motley of red, blue and yellow, the Harlequin peered down at Arzurdar from his perch, his mirror-like mask shining with an ever-changing corona of light. His legs were neatly crossed with his miststave rested comfortably atop them, gently swaying his hanging foot to a soundless tune.

“How long am I going to be stuck in this loop, esdainn?” Arzurdar snapped.

“That depends on you, cherished one of the pale shadow.” Yl’saeth’s voice reverberated unnaturally in the air, yet still somehow sounded soothing. “Do you plan on trying to run from us again?”

“Yes,” Arzurdar answered with an indignant lift of his chin, “and use my name. I won’t tolerate that wretched title you have given me.”

“Forgive me. I oft refer to one by the part they play, rather than the name they hold.” Yl’saeth slipped off the edge of the pillar, gliding down with a flutter of flowing fabrics and landing soundlessly upon the courtyard below. “Arzurdar. Dracon of the Ravenous. Twice-killed disappointment. Fourth boy of vatborn batch seventeen. Which would you prefer?”

The Shadowseer’s words struck a nerve. Arzurdar lashed out to grasp the psyker’s neck, though his fingers curled through a dispersing wisp of smoke instead. A new Yl’saeth materialized a few meters behind him, twirling his miststave between yellow-gloved fingers as he strolled towards the drukhari. Arzurdar turned his head slowly, listening with keen ears and realizing the Shadowseer’s steps made no impact or sound. Another illusion.

Cooling his rage and swallowing down the venom he wished to spew, the Dracon turned to look at his captor. “Arzurdar will suffice,” he said with a resentful strain, “and my role is much, much more than simply being favoured by the Archon.”

“Is it?” Yl’saeth asked, ceasing the twirling of his miststave and pointing it towards Arzurdar. “What have you done besides his bidding? When have you been more than the pawn?”

Clenching his jaw, Arzurdar made ready to snap back his answer to the Shadowseer. Alas, another spoke in his stead.

“He is also a decent killer.” From the blue mists emerged another Harlequin, garbed in a high-collared greatcoat that bled colour as it swayed behind her. Her fiendish mask grinned grotesquely at Arzurdar, a shock of pink hair rising high above her head in a flowing mohawk. “Though with potential not yet properly developed. An actor in need of many rehearsals.”

A vein bulged on Arzurdar’s neck, then his temple, throbbing with ever-worsening rage.

“And a close friend of death, thus a close friend of mine.” A third Harlequin announced their presence, a skull-masked individual dressed in blacks, blues and purples. He leant against a nearby wall with lean arms folded over his ribcage, bone trinkets hanging from his longcoat. “But drukhari are often a lot more fun, this one seems so vexed and witless. Ah well, at least he has his looks.”

“Shut your wretched mouths!” Arzurdar snapped. He spun and leapt for the fiend-masked Harlequin closest to him, swiping a hand for her. She hopped back and avoided him, but his speed allowed him to snatch a knife tucked into her flip belt. Since he first became a wych, shortblades were the Dracon’s favoured weapons, so this suited him well. Not letting up his attack, Arzurdar sprinted after the Harlequin and slashed for her masked face, the blow narrowly avoided as he cut an inch off her mohawk. With an incredibly agile leap she launched up into the air and landed upon the statue’s arm, perching there beyond his reach.

Feet spread and blade held in a reverse grip, Arzurdar was ready to fight. But rather than taking action against his hostility, all three Harlequins simply looked at him with their unmoving visages of fiend, skull and mirror alike.

“Temper temper,” the Death Jester broke the silence, lifting a hand as he wagged his index-finger scoldingly at Arzurdar. “No need for a tantrum, we are all aeldari here.”

“I will flay the skin from your face and render your mask pointless, rillietann.”

Laughing with morbid amusement at Arzurdar’s threat, the dark-clad figure lowered into a theatrical bow. “Obrithaen Eldshadow, he who hath played death to countless lives.”

An introduction? Arzurdar tensed his throat and skimmed his gaze from the Death Jester to the figure looming on the statues above. Was hers next to follow? No, only a heavy silence that Arzurdar was forced to break.

“And who are you?”

“Glimmer of Graith, mistress of the Troupe of the Anguished Aria.” She ran a finger over her Harlequin’s Kiss as she said this, tracing it over the slim golden tube. With a final flick of its sharpened barrel, she turned her vile mask towards him. “And next time you wish to fight me, Arzurdar, simply ask and I shall accommodate. Ours would be a memorable performance.”

“There will be time for that later,” Yl’saeth’s calming words echoed through the blue haze as he re-appeared beside Arzurdar. As light slid over the Shadowseer’s mask, familiar faces flashed over its clear surface; Krethaq’s pale smirking visage, Mero’athys’ sharp features flecked with blood, and lastly, the perverse countenance of the daemon prince Parsephelos with curved horns and lashing tongue. The sudden sight made Arzurdar’s muscles tense, thrown back to his encounter with the abomination on Cerecope. When finally the visions settled, Arzurdar again peered at his own sneering reflection upon Yl’saeth’s mask.

“I have always despised your vagaries, Yl’saeth.” Arzurdar finally lowered his stolen knife, staring right at the Shadowseer. “If you have something to say, say it clearly.”

“Our words may be testing, Arzurdar, but it is with purpose I have bought you with us.” At last, Yl’saeth’s soft steps could be heard as he stood before Arzurdar, his true self finally materializing within the illusion-filled miasma. He rested the butt of his miststave against the ground and pressed his palm against his own chest, fingers splayed. Like an expert puppeteer, he began pulling the strings. “I watch and weave the skene of fate as I can, always guiding us towards one of two things; the birth of Ynnead and the death of She Who Thirsts. In this play there will be parts great and small, but all significant to the wider story. You have a part to play, Arzurdar, a role to fill that is presently missing from our band of heroic villains.”

“And what role is that?” Arzurdar questioned, folding his broad arms beneath his chest.

“We have Hope and Death, Serpent and Witch, Wolf and Widower. We lack the Dagger.”

The dagger? A bit obvious, he thought. But something about the suggestion of a greater destiny appealed to the Dracon’s obscene ego. After all, he was once a rising star of the arena, being a lauded showman was all he knew then. And recently, he felt overlooked. He let none of his intrigue show on his scowling visage, but inwardly Arzurdar ached to know more.

“You steal me from my Archon, mend my wounds and drag me here just to try and convince me to join your Troupe? I am not discarding my Kabal, esdainn.”

“Nor need you, Arzurdar. We only ask that you join our quest.” Yl’saeth lifted his gloved hand, a flourish of light forming around his fingers as he drew them elegantly through the air, conjuring an image of a blade that floated above his palm. “You have a part to play, one that will exceed all you have done before as a wych, a leader, a cherished one; what say you?”

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