Author Topic: The Solitaire  (Read 2232 times)

Offline Dosdamt

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The Solitaire
« on: August 21, 2009, 11:32:08 AM »
Enter, Stage Left

The webway. My home, and first love.

It's shifting blue seas were a great comfort to me, as limping painfully; I tried to return to my home. Such is the lot of a Solitaire - the battle eternal we wage against our ancient and sworn enemy. And I know it as well as any of my number - for nine thousand years is no small amount of years to fight. I was taught by those who remembered the fall, the first of my vocation, and through me the ones I have taught are but one generation from those who truly remembered the fall. It still pains me that I have outlived nearly all of my former pupils.

I have seen their souls, dragged silently into the Warp and devoured by She Who Thirsts. As I tried to walk on my pained leg, a tear fell through the cracks in my mask. Silence is all they allowed She Who Thirsts to have from them, a fitting salute of defiance to that most heinous of enemies.

I have seen gods. I have felt the presence of Cegorach, the greatest Joker, and I have laughed with him. Such tales he weaves, with such fondness and a sharp tongue. He laughs at everything, because it is all a joke, a pantomime, a jest, at his request. We are all but performers for him. I have seen She Who Thirsts, as have many of my kin, but none are bound to her as my brothers and sisters are. Her maw calls to me as it did when the doom of my kin was confirmed. So many souls were swallowed it terrifies me, or as close as I can remember that emotion.

Some think us cold. Another of Cegorach's jokes. We feel more than even the craftworlders, or the Dark Kin, or even other Rillietann. It is just suppressed out of necessity. When staring down a daemon, a quailing heart and legs are of no use.

The final pathways. Here, the waystones only respond to the touch of the Solitaires, and those who may know the secrets of the Black Library. I held my ribs and winced as I continued to walk down the blue pathways. Blood leaked out of my scalp, staining my sheer white hair turn an odd stained pink. My hair, once a deep black, had been sheared of its colour, another scar I bore from my years fighting.

My mask had clawed into my visage, and now barely hid my bleeding and wounded face. My eye was bruised and swollen, and no doubt there would be another scar to accompany the one that already slid down my cheek. My robes, once glowing and shimmering were now scorched and burnt. My once extensive Rillietann splendour had been destroyed in a fit of jealousy by the minions of Chaos. My scorched flesh stunk but was still more fragrant than the smell of the cursed monkeigh I had slaughtered. My wounds, grievous as they are, are still not a final death.

The waystone glowed as I reached out my hand. I spoke into it with my mind, pushing my will as far as I could into it. With a warm glow it responded and with a blue shifting shimmer I saw my final path. The Black Library laid ahead barely a few hundred paces. My legs groaned their malcontent at the distance but I knew I would persevere. This was not the first time I had been forced to trek this path in this state.

The great guardians turned their gaze upon me. If I had not been here before, if this was my virgin voyage into the darkness of the Black Library, I know I would have panicked. Even now, my heart thudded with a terrible beat and pace.

"Cera Goranovasmair," it uttered, nodding its head. I tilted my head to look in its terrible eyes.

"Cera. I come here seeking shelter."

"And shelter you will have Goranovasmair. Welcome home Arebennian."

I sauntered into my sometime home. Its walls were as familiar as my mind; such was the nature of the Black Library for those who are able to access its hidden and precious lore. I sat in the familiar comfortable chair in the heart of the rows of books. I slumped into it, taking all the weight I could off the wounded leg.

Tearing the clothing away from my flesh, I looked at the gaping bleeding gash. It was blackened and aching; the flesh had been scorched at the point the monkeigh weapon had ripped into my flesh. Gingerly I ran my fingers over it. Though the wound looked simple enough, I could feel under my fingers the unmistakable resonance of daemontaint. Not a surprise. Many times I had joined battle with the forces of the despicable Cerebayus, and this was not the first time I had been attacked by one of his minions with a weapon containing a daemon.

Alas, even with my years, such a wound was beyond my own considerable medical talents. Such taint can be difficult to remove entirely, even for such a being as myself. One can never be too careful when dealing with the daemon, as my long years had taught me all too well.

I called upon her. Cat'Hestanari. As close to two kindred souls could possibly be, we were both Solitaires. I had met her sometime after I had first found my mask. She was young, foolish, whimsical and blessed with the humour of the Laughing One - how could I do anything but fail to resist her. Though ours is the loneliest path to walk, our paths had found the time to come together. Call it fate, call it... A great jest, but either way we had found each other and that, more than anything, was all that mattered.

She had tender hands that were soft and comforted with their touch. She entered my vision silently, nodding. Sometimes we didn't even need to speak; she could see my wounds, obviously, but words were unnecessary. She moved my clumsy hand from the wound, and ran her own soft fingers over the open flesh. She could tell as quickly as I had that the wound was much more serious than it appeared. I could feel her mind rush into the bloodied mess and begin to clean away the taint. I winced and bit my lip as the pain intensified for the merest moment, flaring up my leg and torso, through my neck and mouth all the way into the core of my mind.

She then dressed my wound, cleansing it with a fresh smelling balm then applying a soothing icey poultice into the flesh. A clean white bandage was coated over my leg. I could feel the bandage begin to sink into my skin, aiding my skin to knit itself back together.

Next, she removed my mask with her fingers, running her hand down my bloodied features. Her eyes spoke to mine of her sadness about my wounds. She trailed her finger through the blood allowing her finger to take but a tiny amount onto it. She then wiped her finger, and gently ran a slightly damp cloth over my ruined brow. She frowned at the deep cuts caused by my own mask, taking out the small splinters of wraithbone that still lingered in some of the deeper cuts. Again, she cleaned the cuts and applied her balm, then the bandage.

I ran my own hand over her porcelain face, and brought her eyes to meet my own.

"There were many... I fear for this place, and I fear for the fate of the Webway."

She smiled, and rose to her feet, kissing me on the forehead.

"I do not doubt it, Gora. But we persevere, for the tune is always called by He Who Laughs, and all is a joke in his eyes. We trust his vision."

I nodded. She had a wicked way with my mind and heart, able to soothe them in a way I had, for at least the first few years of my existence, I had never thought possible on my path. I could see her soul, blazing and open before me and I always found comfort in it, in the same way I found comfort in a warm fire. In my years I had seen many sights, but the night I shared with her on Danynaieneth still burnt in my mind as the most beautiful of my long existence.

A maiden world like no other I had ever visited, Danynaieneth was a perfect vision of khalorkan. Each flower had bloomed and every tree was green and verdant. Truly it had been touched by Isha herself. We lay together for a stolen night, a burning fire next to us, in the centre of the forest. When we were satiated in our need for one another, we gazed upon the stars, and creation, and saw everything we were sworn to protect from the thing we had given birth to in our weakness, and saw that our cause was just and infinite.

And so we lay, in each others arms awaiting the dawn to chase away the night, comforted by all of creation.

She smiled at me as she touched my thoughts - she could always see into me, like an open book. I was defenceless before her and vulnerable like I had never felt, but she could always reassure my mind.

"Must you always take yourself to that place?"

She smiled mischievously.

"I will take my mind to where I please," I replied, noting her smile.

"Then in that case I expect to be a passenger if you are to return to that place."

She ran her hands through my albino white hair.

"I hope you will bring more than just your mind, and that more than only my mind will be welcome."

She kissed my lips and stared deep into my eyes.

"Maybe... But Cerebayus still bays for your blood and a way into the Webway."

I hung my head, and knew she was right. Until I had finished what I had started with him, there could be no respite. Though respite was something I had long forgotten - stolen minutes, like those I was currently enjoying, were all that I could afford. Time and war stop for no creature. I turned my gaze back to her, and saw in her eyes a knowing stare.

"I must go," she said, lingering her hand in my own, "You will need a new mask."

I nodded.

"I am not sure when I will see you next, but may Cegorach guide your hand and be with you, my love."

She kissed me again and we embraced for a few moments. Touching my jaw line softly, she slipped away back into the webway, leaving me on my own, as I pondered my next actions against Cerebayus and licked my wounds.

ACT: Memoirs Of The Snow

The snow fell as legion. Each flake, of course, unique - my eyes could see each small inperefection, each different blade and arm from the centre of the flake that set it apart from each other snow flake. I caught a single one that had stolen my gaze, and in it, in that fragile perfection I could see her, and Isha, and even the Great Joker himself.

I felt it touch the very end of my finger, and then felt the minute infinity of ice cold sensation that shivered down into my soul. The destruction of such a thing as it melted away deadened my senses. Not even the chill of the void was comparable to this frigid feeling of desolation.

I felt disconsolate and the battle lust ran in my blood, arming my prickled skin against the biting cold. In the far distance I could see the frosted spine of this world I had come to defend. I could smell their stench befouling the air - they had come to claim this world as their own. Such insolence was to be expected from the minions of despair. The Exodites of this world, some leagues behind me now, cried out in anguish. Their pain was also on the wind. The smell of plague is never pleasant, but I had spent many years amongst them as a humble tradesman and I knew each one, and each one from the generation from before.

These people were in my heart.

I had to reveal my true, terrible nature to them, after the plagued Losseain had come. Silence took them all and they hid their eyes. I was another person to them now. Their minds had to seperate the two of 'us' - the eldar they had known was dead to them now, because they could not allow themselves to believe they had spoken to an Abydennion - A lone one, in the slightly muted tongue of the exodites.

I returned to my residence sad, but resolved. Only I could protect the colony from the impending doom that hung over them like a cloud. As I sorted through my few belongings I saw a youngling at my door. He was barely born and curious, a few years less than ten in age. He stared in wonder, not yet fully aware of what I truly was. His eyes spoke to me of a wonderful innocence, untouched and unblemished like virgin snow. As I put on my mask, I spoke softly, uttering a few words unto him.

"Keep your innocence child. Keep it hidden. Keep it safe."

His eyes were wrapped in tears as I spoke, my words resonating with my dark nature. In that instant, I saw his innocence robbed from his eyes and locked deep in his mind.

Now looking at the huge blemishing footprints of my enemy in the snow of this world, I knew they had taken an innocence that was not theirs. Their plagued bodily biles and pus' dripped and trailed into the snow, making a horrid green and grey mix of colours that dug down into the earth. I sighed, kneeling as the snow fell all around. The electricity in the air spoke of a coming blizzard, the best cover I could hope for in the sheer white of the mountains, where they had taken residence. They occupied a small clearing next to a crown of mountains that surrounded a lake like interested fishermen. The lake itself was beautifully clear, kept slightly balmy by hot springs than ran into it from below.

They were poisoning a glistening jewel of this world, and I could not stand by and watch them continue. I breathed deeply, feeling the cold snap air in my lungs. A reckoning was going to be had; I was going to bring such a reckoning!

A View From the Cheap Seats

The solitaire had been walking through the mountainous terrain for several hours now. Behind him, his tracks in the snow had been covered over by the terrible weather that was plaguing his journey. Time was not going to be on his side as he tried to pick up the pace. The landscape he was traversing could be described at hostile at best, and in truth more easily described as impossible.

But his thin, but overtly powerful legs propelled him up and over the jagged rocks with ease. He sped up, his feet not even registering footprints in the snow as he ran along a thin cravasse. He leapt, catching a thin outcrop in his hand. He found footholds, and pulled himself easily up the face of the sheer face of the mountain. This was the hard route up to the peaks, but like most roads he had previously walked, the hardest route was sometimes preferable to make sure you had the upper hand when you reached your destination.

He continued to climb with a grace born of several thousands years of experience of the galaxy and the naturally lithe and nimble Eldar form. His hidden power in his apparently delicate body was a vision to behold as he sped up the face of the mountain, almost bounding from hand hold to hand hold, and further up. The peak crested above him, and even though he felt tired from the climb a resurgent energy rose up within him and he reached the top in triumphant spirit.

Down, in the bottom of the peak rounded basin was the lake shining and shimmering in the birthlight of the dawning sun. Goranovasmair gazed down at the camp of his enemy, and he knew what had to be done. They were resting currently, saving their strength and sorcerous might for their assault on the nature all around them and the exodite colony below the huge mountain range. Goranovasmair sat for a few moments, crouched over the snow, just absorbing the scene around him. It was some of the most beautiful scenery he had even seen.

The mountains looked like the reaching ivory spires of Mena So-Mane. The snow of tops was perfect white and reflected light back down into the centre of the mountains, dazzling the whole scene in brilliant white light. The lake provided a wonderful focal point of life in the centre of the white surroundings, and with the reflected light making the centre of the circle of mountains surprisingly warm, green life had soon found a root and ran all the way around the centre of the lake, taking heat from the hot springs and the sunlight. As Goranovasmair looked over the vista, his breath stolen from him, he watched as a fire bid flew over the lake, feeling the warmth beneath its wings as it soared high above the teeming life below.

A bolt shell stopped its reverie, and Goranovasmair felt anger begin to stir within him. They would pay for defiling this place with their presence. He would show them the error of their ways.

With an unnatural leap he bounded down the mountain side, clearing onto the plateau in three massive jumps. His holofield activated at a mental whim, and his spear whip lashed from his back into his hand. The first of the cultists to spot him were dead before they could react. The solitaire split into a million tiny shifting spots of white light, blinding the men who tried in vain to shoot at the pattern before them. His spear reached out, splattering the face of one cultist as it stove through his face, the point emptying his brains over his friend and back.

The second cultist could only scream in fear as the death he had just seen reflected in the mask of the Solitaire. The mask seemed to steam through his mind, levelling whatever passed for sanity in the diseased humans psyche. Without mercy the Harlequin's Kiss on the arm of the solitaire snaked out and gutted the cultist, spraying pus and decaying organic matter over the sheer white snow.

The rest of the chaotic residents in the camp were turning and rallying with shouts of battle to their god as the Solitaire stood over the two dead bodies. The scream had alerted them to the presence of the Eldar warrior, but he didn't fear the loss of suprise. He was a Solitaire, one of the finest Eldar warriors in the Galaxy. What did he have to fear from these tainted Monkeigh and Losseain?

The first spats of bolter fire began to ricochet with loud explosions around him, but in another blur of white he moved, becoming a white streak blurring through the camp. Shots tried to follow the haze of white light, but they failed as he streaked through them. His spear darted out, spearing an unlucky cultist into the air above him as he paused for a few tiny seconds. The host levelled their weapons at him, as he stood breathing heavily and seething in his own tongue.

"Befouling creatures of the Void, I am your doom!"

His voice echoed as a terrible death knell rolling through the camp. Several of the weaker minded fools broke down in tears, dropping their weapons and curling into the foetal position. The marines snorted their disdain.

The cultist on the end of Goranovasmair's spear gurgled as he choked on his own blood. He slid slightly further down the spear before the solitaire pulled the spear from him, leaving the man stood for a few seconds under his own fading strength. The marines shot at him anyway, splattering his body with exploding bolt shells. The Solitaire was already gone plunging his spear through the head of a weeping cultist. A close marine reacted quickly and charged the Eldar warrior, who with a simple twist and nudge provided the marine with excess forward motion, clattering him easily to the floor. His Kiss strung out and sliced the head from the rotting traitor.

The solitaire grinned sadistically at the rest of the marines, who in a chorus to their dark god charged the warrior. Goranovasmair charged back, vaulting over the heads of the attacking marines. His spear stung one marine in mid-air, removing the central core of his helmet, face and head. But the huge warrior shrugged it off, shaking his head as black pus leaked from the gaping wound. With swords drawn they rushed the solitaire, who stepped back defensively, blocking the first thrust and ducking under the second swipe. One marine stepped in with a huge overhead blow the solitaire only just turned aside.

His holofield cracked him again into tiny specks of light. The solitaire then came forward, a blur of terrifying speed and deadly intent. The spear lashed out faster than the marines could react, stabbing a marine a multitude of times before his guts emptied and his body crumpled. The Harlequin's Kiss leapt out, liquidising the arm of one of the marines in his armour before the arm was sliced away by the spear blade. The marines began to back away as another of their number fell, first speared by the Solitaire and then flung through the air by the massively powerful piston muscles of the Eldar. Only three marines remained, looking uncertainly to one another.

Still the blur came forward, offering no mercy in the same way he had asked for none. One marine fell to a spear through his heart, then the other, the tip of the spear coated in black pus. The marine fell to his kness, holding his guts in his hands as the Eldar kicked out snapping the neck of the treacherous marine. The shuriken pistol from his belt flung into Gora's hand, and he finished the job on the marine leaving him a barely solid pool of decay. The remaining pair quailed in fear as they saw the deaths they had just witnessed broadcast repeatedly into their mind by the sinister mask. They tried to look away, but their ancient fascination with death would not allow them.

Even as death came for them, and the cold chill of the void began to embrace their forever lost souls, they could not tear away from the terrible vision of the Solitaire.

ACT: Memoirs of the Snow, cont.

It was finished. I looked around at the death and destruction, and felt a satisfaction in my work. The tools granted to me by Cegorach were weapons without parallel. The unflinching fury of Dieyeskhaina, my spear, and the blurring holofied had served me well, ensuring the enemy felt the full wrath of those sworn to destroy the minions of chaos.

But my Kiss was my preferential weapon. Such a thing of beauty, launching out like the sting of a scorpion or even the breath of a dragon! Such wonderful death I dealt with such a thing, the evidence at hand in the camp of the foul creatures. I knew the Exodites would come up here, because they would smell the stench of rotting death up here from their village in the valley basin, far below the height I was at.

I sifted through their tainted camp, trying to find the source of the malignant presence, but I was frustrated and found nothing. The root of this problem was not to be found in this place.

Angered, I left the camp behind and fled back into the Webway. I was sure there was only one place I would find answers.

Act : Where I Come From, Where I Am Going To

Abenniyona was the first of our number. She was quiet and withdrawn, a little bit of a loner if the truth is told about her. She would not speak much, finding much more solace in her own thoughts. She was contemplative and at ease with all of Isha's creations. She found simple beauty in all things - in every breath, in every shaft of light. She would spend hours thinking on the pinnacle of experience one should make every living second.

And to see her dance!

Though her name is not spoken widely in the camps of the Rillietann, in dark reverence and fear of what she became and we, the Solitaires, are, occasionally the story of her will be spoken of her dancing. Speed, grace, power, poise and balance... Such wonderful positions she could weave, dancing with her body, mind and soul as one. Perfection, it is said, is still learning to dance as she danced.

She was Cegorach's favourite. She would dance for him, and he would weave wonderful tales to keep her smiling.

When the fall came, it is said she cried a tear for every Eldar soul that passed into the maw of the created godling. She lamented for them just as she had praised all creation. Grief stricken, she withdrew into the Black Library seeking solace in the humour of Cegorach. But even his greatest jests could not raise her spirits.

She was destroyed and consumed by her hatred for the abomination that had robbed her of the beauty of the home of the Eldar race and that her own kin, through their stupidity, arrogance and decadence had birthed. It was now that she wrote the Great Dance so that none would be allowed to forget the fall. She showed this great work to Cegorach, which moved him so that he cried for her one tear, which he fixed to a necklace of pure wraithbone and gave it to her to keep.

When she emerged from the Library, she would not speak to anyone save the Mimes in their own strange tongue. I heard all the Rillietann who loved her were heartbroken because they could no longer share in her passion. But her passion had long died, replaced only by a burning need to strive and fight against She Who Thirsts. She wore a mask of delicate white wraithbone over her frail visage, the nature of which was to celebrate the destruction she would bring to the minions of Chaos. The Rictus mask.

Only her eyes could be seen, and they spoke of her sadness, the sadness that can be seen in my own.

The first time the Great Dance was performed to the Rillietann at large was wondrous. Its perfection was awe inspiring. Its dark, sombre tone moving all who watched it to tears. As she performed, Abenniyona became darker and darker as she took on the role of Slaanesh in the dance. She could feel the claim on her soul, and with silent resignation she accepted that fate.

The first time she met battle with the hordes of the great enemy she was a vision of destruction. As legend tells it, she killed a whole host by herself, her wrath unstoppable as she cried out in pain at the loss of so many of her kin. She fought away from the others, so they would not have to feel her palpable aura of doom. Those I spoke to who were at that battlefield said she was a banshee, her screams of sorrow spelling doom for those who tried to stand against her.

When the battle finished, she disappeared. She travelled out into the webway, alone and disconsolate, searching for something, anything to douse her sorrow. I heard it did not take long before she found some solace in the webway. Her mastery and knowledge grew, and soon it was but a toy and a weapon in her hands.

But again, she would feel a great sadness. She was alone in her duty to fight She Who Thirsts in her unique way. Worse, only she could play the darkest part in the Great Dance, and it had not been performed in years while she had been away. Its purpose was not being fulfilled. But she could not bring herself to consign them to such a fate and doom as hers. Cegorach spoke to her, saying that those that were destined to the same fate as hers would feel her emptiness in them when she came to them, and know that their fate was the same as hers.

And so from camp to camp she went, then to Commoragh, and each craftworld and maiden world. None would speak to her, for her dark nature loomed large over her. But a few could hear her silent call to them. The few were sent into the Webway, to find their own way to the Black Library. There, just like Abenniyona, they entered that place and emerged wearing masks, their tears hidden and their sadness forever.

The path of the Solitaire had been realised.

The dance was performed for all who should see it. With more Solitaires, - Arebennian, in honour of her - each craftworld, maiden world, exodite colony and even each Kabal within Commoragh would see the dance.

Abenniyona fought in battle for a generation. Her first pupils were granted gifts from Cegorach and became the Black Guardians. Always the oldest of our number are chosen to guard our precious home. Whenever a Black Guardian is claimed by time, for not even we are above the slow charge of age, another of our number will take their place.

Abenniyona fell in battle against the Great Enemy. She had killed countless foes, and even as she screamed her defiance and eternal sadness, she was cruelly felled, scythed down by a vicious sword. The Rillietann fought for three days and nights to retrieve her mask, weapons and body. The Tear of Cegorach was lost.

All the Solitaires across the galaxy wept openly, taking off their masks in private to shed their tears.

And with her death, the traditions were born.

Her mask was taken by a few of the Solitaires and hidden in the Webway. So too her weapons. Only the worthy, the lucky or the truly blessed were to find them. Her body, and the body of each Solitaire where possible, was taken back to the Black Library, where Cegorach is said to have wept for a day and night because he had lost her soul to She Who Thirsts. It was then Cegorach promised to trick Slaanesh wherever he could and take the souls of his precious Solitaires.

These are my roots.

I am a lucky for I found her mask. I have worn it for many years now, but it was broken in my last conflict. It is her spear I wield. Cegorach himself has commented many times on my luck, laughing how easily things have come to me and how I have cheated death so many times.

I placed the mask, or at least the shards that remained, before me. Carefully I cleaned my blood off each piece with a sad reverence, though this was not the first time this mask had been broken and I was sure it would not be the last; I was still devastated at its state. I arranged the pieces as they were when whole, a tear falling because of some of the lost pieces. For centuries I had learned the ways of some of the Paths on the craftworlds, and bonesinger was a path I had taken to with relish.

I moved my hands over pieces, feeling the sadness of Abenniyona in the wraithbone. Slowly I moved my mind through the material, feeling it respond to my inpulses through it. I could feel it yearn to grow, and so with a few gentle psychic pushes it began to knit itself back together.

As it came back together as a whole, I could feel the overwhelming sadness of her, my ancestor and mother of my way. I could see her tears, almost touching them as I moved the mask in my hands. I had never really communed with the mask in such an intimate way, even when I had first found it.

It is your time to guard this place.

Cegorach. He had not spoken to me since I had returned.

"I still have much to do."

Indeed you do. Very well, Goranovasmair. I will smile on your endeavour.

Act: After The Snow Has Gone

The webway was a welcoming friend as pushed my way back into the network. The minions of despair I had faced on the Exodite world had troubled me immesely as to how organised and precise they had been to strike at such a place. The Exodites had only recently founded the colony; the very reason I had decided to accompany them in their endeavour on the planet. Few knew of the colonies existence.

Perhaps someone had spoken out loud in the presence of the wrong people? Possible, though I trusted my Eldar brothers to be not nearly so stupid.

Perhaps the beasts within the Void had whispered into the ears of their followers? Likely but I could not see the Lord of Despair taking such an interest in a race alledgedly doomed for consumption by one of his peers. Even when they competed it was only the minions of Khorne who really would engage in the active slaying of my kin. Such is the nature of the Blood God and his hatred for She Who Thirsts.

The minions of She Who Thirst had orchestrated this. Thinking back to the stench of the camp, I held my mind in the place, searching my memories for any clue as to the conductor behind the dire events on that world. In remembrance I could smell that horrid musk, that abhorrent stench of decadent decay in the background to the corpulent repugnance that overwhelmed the senses in that place. Just on the edges of my memory the scent lingered, as if teasing me on the very edges of my senses. Someone knew, intimately, that I would be looking for them in the place.

There are no coincidences, there is no such thing as chance or luck. I have seen the galaxy for long enough to know such statements are true. Whatever was leading those creatures knew I was amongst the settlement - not a great feat for anyone skilled in the divining arts of the Seer. What worried me was that I had not been sharp enough to detect such a scrying.

I looked back at my path. The shifting blue rippled for a moment as I thrust my mind through the webway, searching to find my position. The paths aligned in my eyes and I could see my destination. Setting off on the balls of my feet I sprinted into the Webway.

Act : Lessons

I had been running for three days. The Webway is no small system of roads, and while my mastery is beyond that of any of my kind, I still had to make my way like anyone else. In the Webway I could sense a great pain, a yearning. A pushing, on the side of my senses, not far in front of me. I stopped for a few moments, feeling the Webway envelop me as I disappeared within the quilt of blue energy.

The wall ahead of me buckled and roiled from some external, and unwelcome, force. Again it moved and shimmered as the unknown force pressed again. Finally with a splitting crack as reality burst in unwanted into the Webway. I could see the culprits - members of the monkeigh 'Inquisition' with too much time on their hands. As if their lifetimes weren't short enough already without incurring the wrath of the Eldar.

The Webway portal had been rigged with their primitive technology. One of their metal priests was screaming about blasphemy as he was held back by three of his brothers. The leader, a female by my recollection, bellowed orders in their primitive tongue. I could see the leader of a small band of troops shouting and repeating the phrases of the woman leader. I laughed. Stupid monkeigh. Could they not understand the tongue of their leader?

The assembled troops moved forwards quickly and gingerly, fingering their way into the webway, sullying it with their presence. I could see a priest behind them gripped by sheer terror barely keeping pace with the troops. For a moment, I almost felt sorry for the priest. He had no place in with the military. I could smell he had wet himself in fear.

What did it matter? For this intrusion, they would all die.

As the last of them filed through into the Webway I closed the portal behind them on a whim. The soldiers screamed as the portal began to snap shut. The Inquisitor thrust a foolish arm into the closing breach, only to have it sliced off by the closing webway. The twitching limb lay limp on the floor in a puddle of red blood.

I laughed, decimating the moral of the monkeigh ahead. The death knells in each peal of each giggle wrenched at the core of their souls. Without needing to think I hurtled into the centre of the terrified men.

"What th-?"

I didn't allow the fool who had seen me another breath. I grabbed his neck, breaking it like a twig in my hands. The others turned, bayonets flashing metallic blue under the dim light of the Webway. I caught the anxious thrust of another man as the others simply panicked. I tossed him over my head as he clung to his weapon in panicked rigor mortis. He slammed into his friend across from me, impaled on the bayonet of the screaming man. Both collapsed into a heap, the bottom creature still screaming in fear.

The leader stepped fourth, chanting a song of some kind. His tone was crass and tuneless, without any sophistication or merit. I ducked under his first swing, his glowing sword passing easily over my folded form. I sped upwards, catching him on his chin with a brutal punch. He skittered into the air, still trying to mutter words in mid air through his shattered teeth and bloodied maw. As he fell my Kiss span out, slicing him easily in half. The other men looked into my face as they screamed, two falling as their hearts stopped in their chest. The others looked uncertainly from one to the other.

"No mercy, monkeigh, not for you," I hissed, enjoying every second as they began to weep.

I stepped forwards, bring my spear to bear. Two neat strokes and they were dead, their heads falling limply from their paralysed bodies.

The priest remained. He had fallen to his knees, hands clenched in prayer. I circled him, my spear drawing a circle around him as he beseeched the corpse seer of his race for release. I paused behind him, leaning in by his ear. I paused for a moment, allowing him to feel my breath on his neck, for casual cruelty.

"Your dead seer cannot save you here, little creature. Why do you seek your doom here, your soul is forfeit. Do you think he has a place for you, little man? Do you know he sat with my kin, broke bread with them, asked for their counsel? Your life is a lie, your faith nothing more than a fool's errand."

I raised my spear into the pose of the executioner above the kneeling figure. He was broken, his spirit razed by my words. I pulled at his head with my power, my hand motioning for his neck to straighten. The spear fell, and his head joined the other corpses in the pools of blood left behind by my wrath.

No coincidences.

I bowed my head, and opened the webway portal to find the Inquisitor.

A Villainous Interlude

The Inquisitor staggered backwards from the suddenly closed portal, holding her spurting stump arm. Blood sprayed the wall where once a link into the Eldar's esoteric realm had been. Now it was back to the dull grey stone from before. The techpriest was still screaming and struggling in the grasp of two burly guards. A third arrived, and looked to the Inquisitor.

She nodded her head wearily as she staggered and fell onto the floor, her back only held up by the comfortable stone. Her third henchman leveled a pistol with the priest's face and pulled the trigger.

She grasped onto her consciousness, trying to stop it from slipping away. A medicae had arrived, and ignoring the dead techpriest quickly attended to the Inquisitor. A coagulant was nervously applied to the wound as the room filled quickly with gruff looking stormtroopers. She sighed with relief as the feeling of shock abated.

"Wha-at was that?" the nervous medicae asked, but she merely waved him away.

She grasped at her wraithbone trinket, hidden below her clothes. She felt it, smooth and sleek, in her fingers. It was a great comfort to her, and seemed to help with the pain as her mind drifted into the smooth material. She had found it in her younger years, and worn it as a trophy against her hated foe. It seemed to drive her on when things were hard, it guided her... It seemed to suggest things to her. It gave her purpose, other than simple vengeance. It gave her clarity through the rage.

"Strip... The room of artifacts," she said, through the painful breaths, "And... Guard... My retreat."

She stood up shakily, trying her legs as if for the first time. They stood firm, and she nodded to the stormtroopers, who nodded grimly. Turning her back on them, she swept from the room.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2009, 12:28:57 PM by Dosdamt »
It is never too late! - Mentirius

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Offline Dosdamt

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Re: The Solitaire
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2009, 11:32:35 AM »
Act - Release the Hounds

I felt my anger abate in the midst of the scene of carnage. Blood was still slick on my clothes, and the stench of the mon-keigh was fresh in the air. I looked around, seeing the wounds in the webway here that they had caused. They had wrenched in, carving it open like they did with one another. Fools. But they would pay.

I plucked the severed arm up from the floor. I slid a ring from one of the fingers. The traditional mark of the Inquisition of Man - the familiar I, with the skull and rubies for eyes. I slipped it into my pocket - such trinkets would be easy to trade when once again I was forced to walk amongst the humans.

I pressed my hand onto the wall, feeling the pain and hurt. I pushed my will through it, feeling the webway beginning to heal. I smiled, but knew what I had to do.

Anger flared up inside me, as I prepared to enter into the real world from the webway. I opened it with my mind, watching as the portal opened. Shafts of blue light shone out from behind me, casting my shadow over the waiting host of mon-keigh. They tried to restrain their fear, but I could smell it all over them. Without hesitation I charged.

I heard the clunk-click of their primitive projectile weapons then, they fired.

A harsh hail of mettalic slugs swarmed into the air, violently birthed from the maw of their weapons. I felt the air thicken around me as my senses drove me forward. I could see all of them in the air, barely moving but deadly as ever. I laughed contemptuously.

I ghosted through the bullets, feeling them slide along my skin as I darted through the choked air. Rising behind the humans, I leapt into the air, feeling the wind rush beneath me as the air thinned once more. A cacophony as the bullets rattled into the masonry erupted in the room; I swept my spear down, beheading one of the humans. I landed, crouching, hand steadying me, staring at the humans. They stared back, quite afraid of what they had seen.

Hesitation. My favourite human trait. They gawped as I moved.

My spear whistled through the air, impaling one of them and pinning him to the wall. He howled with pain. Behind me one of them brought his sword around in an arch, attempting to decapitate me. I ducked easily below it, smiling as I saw my reflection in his blade. The blade sailed over my head.

I rose quickly, kicking out with my leg breaking the human's spine with sheer pressure of force. He span to the floor, spasming silently as his body refused to accept his impending death. The rest of the humans froze still, unable to take their eyes off my form. I looked on them, for a second meeting the gaze of each of them.

I could hear their hearts stop in their chests.

Turning from the corpses, I moved to the impaled human, still screaming. I pulled the spear from his chest, leaving him to slide down onto the floor in a pool of his own blood. He slumped, his head unable to move. I grabbed his hair, pulling his eyes to be level with my own.

"Where is she going?"

The human eyed me warily, spat its defiance, but it succeeded only in spilling drool -a blood and spittle mix down itself. I fingered the wound cruelly, feeling him writhe in agony below my finger.

"Where is she going?"

I sighed to myself, feeling my mask change. He looked at me, his eyes widening as he recognised what I was becoming. I leaned in next to his ear, my voice barely a whisper, to be heard only by the animal inside it, the animal who knows only how to survive.

"I am the thing you fear the most, you hear me in your head, when you go into battle. When you were wounded before. When you knew you were going to die, and, you will die this time. But I am the power of everything, I will leave you here to suffer in agony until eternity ends and the stars die. I am the Alpha and the Omega. I am the End of All Things. I will see eternity pass me by, because I am Death. I am here for you know, but unless you tell me that which I wish to know, I will leave you here in agony for all of time."

The man's eyes widened as the truth of my statements burned through his sluggish consciousness to the instictive core. I smiled as he struggled to comprehend everything, but I knew he would tell me what I wished to know.

"Orbit. She has a ship."

I nodded, and slid my dagger through into his heart. I plucked my spear and continued the chase.

Act - Release The Hounds II

I smiled as I darted through the mon-keigh herd flowed around me and they swallowed me whole. I contemplated what could possibly keep these simple creatures alive. They were barely aware of the fact they existed.

But time pressed at my back. I could feel that this... female... had taken something of great import from the gateway into the webway that she had so brutally ripped. Worse, she had seen inside the Webway, a crime I would take her eyes for.

This human was going to cause problems, of that, I had no doubt. She was an Inquisitor, a caste of human I had had contact with on numerous occasions, in violence and in peace. On the whole, compared to their bretheren, they were somewhat capable of cohesive speech and they some could even manipulate objects with what could begrudgingly be called dexterity.

Before I left I had surveyed the room quickly, taking in the runes and the sigils that heralded this world as a gateway world to further climes. In the distant sky, I could see a blinking beautiful eye, a gateway on the moon far above our head. Another door, with which I feared could be opened with the key the mon-keigh had stolen from the first reliquary.

In my mind, at some distance, I could hear the chimes a thousand times over from the beautiful bells in the Library. Time, ticking, ebbing away.

Time played across my back like wings, sending me soaring back through the crowd.

The Mon-keigh buzzed ahead of me as she sped towards her target. I could hear the whirring engines far above me as I swept unseen through the camp of rough tents and filth ridden mon-keigh that had surrounded the entrance to the gateway.

And there - the graceless symbol of the Inquisition, on the side of one of the ugly mon-keigh ships. I slipped through the security of the creatures without a problem. I moved as a wind through their hair.

The ship jerked and the coarse engines roared into life. Ahead the Inquisitor lay, a key in her hands not meant for mere men.

A Villainous Interlude Cont.

She staggered, her bloody stump still throbbing and paining her. The wound had been clean enough, but the blood had not stopped flowing for twenty minutes after the arm had been severed, and worse she had been told it was too badly damaged for bionic replacement. She would have a stump, forever, as testament to this great work.

A great work indeed it was to be. For years she had toiled, and she had worked, and she had studied, and she had deprived herself of all it was to be human for just a glimpse inside that place... That wonderous, blue place.

What secrets did it hold?

She wasn't sure, but secrets it must contain, for no human had ever seen into it before as she had and survived. Those others who had seen now lay dead, presumably, still within the ocean blue of the alien hiding space.

"Am I afraid?"

The voice was hers, the speech the familiar soft-steel of her tone. The echo of the words bounced around the room, hitting her ears repeatedly with wave after wave of her own chilling statement.

And now more words, words that didn't jump from her mouth, didn't dwell on her vocal chords nor begin as mere breaths in the lungs, but simply float behind her ears, not beating her eardrums but instead lingered on the inside, behind the flesh, buzzing like crackling electricity in her mind.

And soon this faded, instead giving way to a gut wrenching feel of inescapable foreboding, of raw fear, of primal terror, and her heart beat as a drum in time with the terrible throbbing of the emotion overrunning her mind, leaving her panting and sweating, and her eyes wide, bulbous, swollen with dread.

She settled just as quickly as she had been disturbed. A sense of calm and purpose flooded back into her veins.

Yet, outside the safety of the cabin of her ship, she could hear the whistling wind sing a serenade.

On wings of iron,
A card game is played;
The Joker's hand is here.

Despair ye not,
A simple turn of mind;
To take them to the other side.

Act : Release the Hounds II, cont.

When the air is still....

Half a whisper away, a fiery hell ball stormed through a solar system.

When the wind says nothing....

Gravity pointed her finger, dancing with the conflagration of flame and rock.

Sound. Stops.

For a moment, I see nothing save infinity, and infinity is nothing but an eyeblink.

And there, in the far distance, I see fire and rage, and know that time presses once more.

****

Wings unfolded on my back and I soared through the primitive metallic beast that had ferried me to my goal. I dropped a single gold coin into the hand of my Acheronian ferryman and disappeared from his view. His mind burned, though, as did the coin in his hand.

Everything was heating up. The baleful wrath of daelethina'ith was coming.

"Starfall!"

They now knew it was coming too.

****

The dark madness of the mon'keigh settlement here was apparent to me from the first second I had alighted the vessel that had brought me here, and had grown lower and lower in my estimation with every second that ticked passed around me. The humans were in panic; I expected cannibalisation to break out at any second.

I had sabotaged every vehicle, ensuring not one of the despicable manlings would escape alive from this place.

I could feel the heat increasing. It was somewhere overhead now, somewhere distant, like a long lost memory.

I sit with my legs crossed in the observatory that surrounds the Webway gate.

I could hear the flesh puppets screaming somewhere in the distance as my cupped hands collected my thoughts. I floated a few inches away from the floor. My mask covered my manic grin, the mask itself only spreading into a small malevolent half-grin as it focused my thoughts for me and projected them to the world. My lips turned black, with sharp corners that turned up my face, over to just touch my chiseled cheek bones.

And in the distance, I focused on her footsteps; she was the only resolute one amongst them, the only one not panicking. I could hear each individual step. Tink. Tink. Tink.

The stiletto heel was in time, almost exactly, with her heart.

The quickening. Her heart throbbed harder and harder.

Ah, I thought, she has seen me.

"Xeno...."

Her voice was a low growl, the low growl of a cornered, frightened creature. She knew now I had been playing in her mind, dancing my little dance around her sanity, leading her in a merry pursuit of madness. At either side of her, panicked mon'keigh who had been press ganged into action stood, quailing with fear as I took to my feet. I stared them down, not saying a word. I had not drawn my weapon yet, as they slid their weapons from their sheaths.

She took a step backwards, and waved the few men forwards ahead of her.

They came forward, fighting with the strength of panicked, manic animals. They fell about me, attempting to surround me, and quickly they did, as I simply danced through their falling weapons, my own movements quick and fluid. Their blades and blunts flickered and fluttered around me as I bent and fluidly slunk between them.

And now, the riposte.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2009, 12:30:22 PM by Dosdamt »
It is never too late! - Mentirius

http://thementalmarine.proboards.com/index.cgi <- The Mind, for all your irreverent nonsense needs