Author Topic: Legacies  (Read 9658 times)

Offline N01H3r3

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Re: Legacies
« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2009, 07:45:57 PM »
Seledhain Seall'athil, 436th Heir to the Line of Eldrannael the Swift, bearer of the sword Whitefire, lay on the dry, dusty ground, his life's blood bubbling through the ragged wound in his torso, past the fingers that pressed at it.

He turned his mind inwards, and tried to centre himself, to slow his heart, lessen his blood pressure and force the bleeding to cease, but the pain and the severity of the wound was too great.

"Seled'athil!"

Ethcorai leapt over a boulder, his Lasblaster blazing blue-white fire at the squawking, clicking Kroot that stalked towards his old friend, driving them backwards with his ferocity. One of them - a leader by all appearances - cawed a challenge, and Ethcorai met it, whirling around as he drew his power sword, cleaving the barrel from the Kroot's bladed rifle, and ducking back from the return stroke, firing the Lasblaster one-handed as he backed off. The Kroot dodged aside, clicking and growling as it ripped a long barbed knife from the sheath on its leg and lunged forwards, quills rattling.

Ethcorai threw the Lasblaster aside, parrying the first strike with his blade, shearing through the crude knife, and drawing a broad-muzzled shuriken pistol. The weapon screamed as a dozen shuriken whipped outwards, lacerating Kroot flesh and stunning the avian creature long enough for Ethcorai to strike its head from its shoulders. The remaining Kroot lurked at a distance for a moment, waiting for the Eldar to leave before consuming the remains of their dead.

Ethcorai sheathed his sword and pistol, leaving his rifle where it lay, and dashed over to his friend's prone form.

"Seled'athil... save your strength. I'll get help from the Exodite colony. It's only a couple of-"

Seledhain raised a hand shakily to stop his friend.

"I can feel myself passing already. Give... give Whitefire to Alund'athil... tell him about our work, about his lineage."

"No... come on, Seled'athil, I'll get us out of here..."

"Alund'athil..."

A silent scream caused Ethcorai to shudder, and he glanced back down at his friend. The old Eldar's eyes were lifeless and dull, but his soulstone was luminous and vibrant. The scream was one of death, of the soul passing from the body into the soulstone.

Solemn, he looked to Seledhain's other hand, and reached for the ornate blade gripped there. He reached to pick it up.

ONLYonlyoneTHOSEwhoWHOhasearnedourtrustAREOFOURBLOODmayMAYwieldusWIELDUS

The barrage of thought stunned Ethcorai for a moment, but he gripped the blade nonetheless, slipping it reverently into its scabbard, and tucked it securely into his pack. Seledhain's soulstone, torn from its chain, followed.

Unable to carry his friend's remains back as well, Ethcorai turned away and walked towards the Exodite village and its Webway gate.
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Offline N01H3r3

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Re: Legacies
« Reply #16 on: August 03, 2009, 07:48:13 PM »
Ethcorai looked on as Seledhain's soulstone was interred into Iyanden's Infinity Circuit. The wraith-tenders of Iyanden moved with ritual precision and skill, anointing the soulstone with the correct oils and unguents that would allow the soul within to flow through the vast Craftworld.

He glanced across at Alundirel, who had been brought out of his studious seclusion to mourn his father's passing, and at young Chithurien, a child at only forty years, still in his own studies. Both stood close to their mother, Loreclai, who wept openly and freely.

Alundirel, now nearly thirteen-hundred years of age, stood silently, his face an unmoving, solemn mask. He stepped forwards, glancing at Ethcorai as he approached the wraithbone tree. He knelt, pressing two fingers lightly against his father's soulstone, and muttered a prayer. Such was the room's acoustics that his low whisper carried to all nearby.

"Vassal of Asuryan, your service is done. Warrior of Khaine, lay down your sword. Child of Isha, your kin mourn your passing. Walk amongst the dead, and know peace in eternity."

A single tear traced down Alundirel's cheek, and he squeezed his eyes closed to hold back any more.

Thunder filled his ears, as his heart rumbled in his chest.

***

Ethcorai entered the habitation district, and looked out over the mist-wreathed gardens as he strolled over the gantries. He barely noticed Alundirel approach, swiftly and with purpose.

At the last moment, he turned to greet and offer condolences to the younger Eldar, to find himself slammed forcefully against a wall by hand pressed against his chest.

"How could you let this happen? HOW?"

"Alund'athil-"

"You were his friend! You stood by him in battle! You swore to us that you would sooner face the abyss than fail to bring him home to us!"

"Please, let me-"

"It was always you... you always kept him from his family, from his home! Always on some unmentioned mission, some undisclosed quest."

"ALUND'ATHIL, PLEASE!" Ethcorai bellowed, forcing Alundirel backwards. "Come with me. I'll explain everything."

***

They sat cross-legged on the ground, facing each other, in a clearing in the middle of the glade of silence. Alundirel had calmed only a little, but was ready to listen.

"Your father wanted me to give you this, Alund'athil." Said Ethcorai, quietly, passing the sheathed sword to Alundirel. "This is Whitefire, a blade that has existed within your family for over two and a half million years, and borne into battle by the eldest sons of your bloodline for four-hundred-and-thirty-six generations. As your father wielded it, so must you."

Alundirel slid a hand around the grip, and moved to draw the blade.

alegacysuchasusmustbeearned

The barrage of thought caused Alundirel to withdraw his hand.

"It won't let me draw it."

"It won't let anyone draw it, at first. Even your father needed time to earn the sword's trust."

"Trust? It's a blade..."

"No, it isn't. Look closely."

Alundirel peered closer at the sword's hilt. The gem set there glittered with an internal light.

"A Diresword? I've only ever seen one of these before, and that belonged to my old Exarch when I was younger."

"This one is unusual, as are many not borne by Exarchs. Most Direswords contain only one soul. This contains fragments from many. Everyone who has ever rightfully wielded this sword, has added an imprint of themselves to it. This sword is your legacy, and it contains echoes of your ancestors back to Eldrannael the Swift, whose soul is at the core of the blade. I am here to teach you what your father wanted me to pass on. I am here to teach you about your ancestors, and about how to wield that blade. Shall we begin?"
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Offline N01H3r3

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Re: Legacies
« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2009, 07:51:13 PM »
Several hours had passed, as Ethcorai explained what Seledhain had told him of his family's heritage. Alundirel listened intently, but looked increasingly unsettled as time wore on.

"Ethcorai... tell me - how did my father die?"

Ethcorai closed his eyes for a moment, and took a deep breath, exhaling through pursed lips, as if contemplating how to begin. "Your father and I had been tracking a tribe of Kroot across a string of Exodite colonies on the easternmost fringes of the galaxy."

"Kroot? I'm not familiar with them..." Alundirel inquired.

"A feral, bird-like species from a small forested world a few days journey from here. They're cannibalistic, and fierce hunters, known to adapt quickly to new challenges by consuming the flesh of others and evolving as a result. They're primitive, but very quick through rough terrain, and naturally stealthy, which can make them a threat. They travel from world-to-world on the ships of others, as far as I can tell - buying their way with their services as mercenaries and trackers, or simply stowing away. But these ones were different."

"Different? How?"

"This group had adapted to be able to migrate from world to world via the Immaterium. Presumably by eating Croatalids or a similar aethyric predator. Freed from dependance on mon-keigh vessels, they've been hunting where-ever they please, hopping from world to world and adapting over the generations. When your father and I found them originally, about fifteen years ago, they'd stumbled onto an Exodite colony and were preying on the dragon herds. They've been elusive, but we drove them off when we encountered them on several worlds. Their tactics developed in response. They started hunting the Exodites, trying to gain their agility and perception and who-knows-what-else."

Ethcorai paused, sipping from a small bowl of water. "And?" Alundirel asked, so near to the answer he sought.

"We were on Tir'iosash, having tracked part of this group down there. We were about an hour's walk from one of the smaller villages when the Kroot burst from the trees nearby. They attacked from two directions, separating myself and your father. My group was smaller, lacking this hunting pack's leader, and I slew enough to drive them back, but I was..." Ethcorai stopped, shuddering as he remembered the fight. "...I was too late. Kroot knives had already ripped into your father's body, and he bled to death in that clearing. I slew the leader, and drove back the few he had not yet killed, and gathered up your father's most important possessions - his sword, and his soulstone, before heading back to the village. When I returned with help from the Exodites, the Kroot were gone, having consumed their leader but apparently too panicked and cautious to attempt to eat your father's remains. He was cremated the next day, and then I returned here."

Alundirel knew his father's killers now. He stood, and snatched up Whitefire where it lay in its scabbard.

"Alund'athil? Where are you going."

"You have explained to me how my father died, told me where he was slain, and which hands are stained red with his blood. I go to avenge him with his own blade." Alundirel stated matter-of-factly.

"Alund'athil, you can't bear that blade without training - the sword's spirit will not permit it."

"It will permit me. And you will assist me. Like the hawk, you have circled above my father's murderers and identified them. You will show me the way." Alundirel's voice had a hard edge to it, an edge that had not been there a few minutes ago.

"No, Alund'athil. Not yet."

"YES!" Alundirel bellowed, furious at being defied when something so important stood before him. "YOU WILL YIELD TO ME!" The air flickered red, and became hot, Alundirel's fury washing off him in waves. He shuddered, half in rage and half in pleasure... the anger, the fury was intoxicating, and he could feel the urge to set blade against the flesh of his enemies. He reached for Whitefire's hilt. The blood sang in his veins...

...the Warsong...

Alundirel stumbled backwards, realising what he was almost considering. The air popped as it became cool and still again. "I'm... I'm sorry."

Ethcorai smiled. "You haven't felt it in a long time. It was why I was hesitant to tell you. I didn't know if you still remembered what it felt like, or how to control it. I needed to bring it out slowly, carefully, before we took up arms and went to avenge Seled'athil's death. And we will, once you have been reminded of the control you need over it. But that sword will be nothing but sharp metal unless the spirits inside it let you use their power. They may be your ancestors, but they need to be shown that you are worthy of them."

"And what will that take?"

"Time... and patience. I have friends working to curb the excesses of those Kroot, but they will be waiting for us when you are ready."
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Offline N01H3r3

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Re: Legacies
« Reply #18 on: August 03, 2009, 07:57:00 PM »
Weeks had passed. Alundirel clutched Whitefire in his right hand, and gasped for breath. The sword was quiet now, giving him silence and distance, and acting like nothing more than a mundane sword, but the knowledge of what Whitefire was and could do made that silence seem vast and all-consuming, like an echoing cavern.

Ethcorai stood a dozen paces away, sword held lightly in a defensive stance, his face passive.

Alundirel shook off his fatigue, and snarled in frustration as he leapt forwards. His downward strike was evidently clumsy, as the older warrior sidestepped it with little difficulty, and swatted aside Alundirel's sideways swing without looking. Ethcorai turned, his back to Alundirel for a fleeting moment, and ended up a couple of paces back, his blade back in a defensive position.

"You're not concentrating, Alund'athil."

Alundirel drove forwards with a low thrust, but his blade was diverted, and he stumbled, overextended. A blow to his upper back from Ethcorai's hilt knocked him to the floor.

"I could concentrate, if you stopped making it look so easy. I am glad nobody watches us; I look like a clumsy child by comparison." Grumbled Alundirel as he picked himself up.

"Alund'athil, we've been at this a matter of weeks. You're competent with a blade, but you've never received more than fundamental training with it, and that was centuries ago. At least you've reached a state where Whitefire has stopped questioning your prowess." Ethcorai extended a hand, helping Alundirel to his feet.

"Yes, wondrous progress. Now my ancestral blade merely ignores me instead of deriding me."

Ethcorai smiled. "Another go?"

"Let me at least recover. And explain to me how you manage to see every attack coming."

"Experience. And necessity. I've been in a lot of serious fights with a lot of deadly opponents. I find it easier to survive if I don't let my enemies strike me."

"Very funny. You use a style I've never seen before, not even by Exarchs."

"I athrad en sélanen. It's an archaic form, many hundreds of millennia old. Your father taught me, and he was taught by... actually, I don't know who he learnt it from. It was before I met him, before The Fall. It means "the way of wind and water". The philosophy is one of passive defence and inexorable offence - allow attacks to flow or be diverted past, but retaliate with force enough to overwhelm your opponent's defences. You've been experiencing it with every fight we've had over these past weeks."

***

Dodge left

"What?"

Alundirel heard his father's voice, but the shock of hearing it distracted Alundirel, and the flat of Ethcorai's blade slapped the side of Alundirel's neck. He blinked in surprise, as much from the blow as the voice he'd heard.

Two more months had passed, and Alundirel had improved considerably... but was still being soundly defeated every time he sparred with Ethcorai.

"Did... did you hear that?"

"I didn't hear anything, Alund'athil."

"I heard father's voice... telling me to dodge left."

"If you had, you'd have avoided my attack. It sounds like Whitefire has started to offer advice."

"Then we go again. I want to see if my birthright is finally starting to soften towards me after nearly three months of training with it."

Alundirel pulled Whitefire close, the pommel only slightly above his right shoulder, and awaited Ethcorai's attack.

It came moments later, and Alundirel stepped into it holding the blade horizontal above his head to block the downward stroke. He swatted the attack aside, and stepped back, sweeping his blade past his legs to deflect another attack. He smiled at his success, and brought Whitefire back up vertical against his shoulder.

Then the real attacks came. Alundirel was driven a step back by every blow he turned aside, barely having time to contemplate a counter-attack.

Jump backwards

Alundirel, less startled this time, did as instructed, leaping backwards over a low swing that would have struck his legs.

Now attack

Alundirel landed softly, but stayed still for only a split second, darting forwards to capitalise on an opening in Ethcorai's defences. Tapping aside a hasty attempt at a parry, Alundirel slid Whitefire in above Ethcorai's left shoulder, tapping the older warrior gently on the cheek with the flat of the blade, and grinning in satisfaction.

"First touch. About time I won one."

Ethcorai rubbed his cheek where the blade had touched, and nodded. "Well, you need work, but at least your sword has started providing assistance. If you continue to improve this quickly, we'll be able to avenge Seled'athil's death within the year..."
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Offline N01H3r3

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Re: Legacies
« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2009, 07:59:11 PM »
The next year...

Alundirel leapt from the bushes, his Chameleoline cloak flapping out behind him, revealing his blazing yellow mesh armour underneath. A roar of anger and hatred escaped his lips as he pounced upon the Kroot, who hissed, cawed and rattled their head-spines in response.

Their pheremone-stench filled the air, as the hunting pack turned to face their aggressor. Two fell, as a Shuriken Catapult screamed, glinting blades tearing through their flesh, and the fallen Kroot shrieked in agony. Alundirel let the weapon drop back onto its carry-strap, and ducked under a counter-attack, crude blades whistling over his head.

Alundirel drove an elbow upwards into the Kroot's midsection, causing it to gasp for air, and span round, slamming his armoured boot into its face, sending the avian predator sprawling across the muddy ground.

He stood, idly flicking a strand of hair from his face, and then drew Whitefire.

The blade was silent, expectant rather than disdainful, and hung loosely from his hand. One of the Kroot - the one who'd been knocked to the ground moments earlier - croaked orders to its kin, gesturing with a ragged-edged long knife.

The forest burst into life, blue-white bolts of energy searing another three Kroot as Ethcorai dropped from a tree, landing on a fourth, drawing his blade as he stepped away lithely.

Alundirel weaved round the lead Kroot's savage attacks, parrying a few with deft swings of Whitefire. It was quick, but moved more with ill-honed instinct and bestial reflex rather than skill. It was an animal, nothing more.

Alundirel's confidence overturned his caution, and he pressed forwards, only to be driven to the floor by a snarling assault from his flank. Another Kroot, one he hadn't paid attention to, lashed out with a bladed rifle, slamming it against Alundirel's stomach. The cells of the armoured material held under the blow, stiffening at the impact and turning the blades aside, but the attack still hurt, and Alundirel grunted in pain. He slammed his right fist sideways, catching his new attacker on the cheek and giving it pause, but the leader found its opening, wrapping a twin-thumbed, clawed hand around his throat and lifting him up.

Alundirel struggled for air, wheezing as his back was pressed into a tree by the fearsomely strong creature. It cocked its head sideways, and cawed something unintelligible. Alundirel kicked feebly, his legs flailing at his attacker to no effect. Ethcorai was on the other side of the clearing, fending off several other Kroot, and Alundirel raged at the futility of his struggle to get free.

Let me help, spoke his sword.

Alundirel couldn't concentrate to respond, as the Kroot's fingers pressed harder against his throat, and he reached up with his free hand to grasp at the Kroot's arm.

Let me help!

The sword's words echoed deep into Alundirel's brain. Alundirel responded instinctively, lashing out with his free arm, but the Kroot's arms were longer than his, and he lacked the reach to strike it. Then, suddenly, instinct faded, drowned out. Alundirel tightened his left hand... to find that it was empty.

Whitefire lay on the ground, a short distance away. Furious denial filled Alundirel, and he thrust his open hand out towards the inert sword, to no avail.

Then it twitched. It skittered across roots for a moment, and then was still. Alundirel tried again, and the blade leapt upwards, landing solidly within his grasp. With a hoarse, stifled bellow, Alundirel thrust the sword up into the Kroot's chest, and the blade burst into life, blazing with translucent white flame. The Kroot's grasp relaxed as it died, mind shocked into submission by the sword's psychic blast, and it fell backwards as Alundirel drew his weapon back.

No blood stained the blade. No ichor marred its surface. It glittered in a light of its own making.

A gift, Scion of Eldrannael, in a moment of great need. In time, you will learn to unleash that power and to draw on your line's strength without our guidance.

Alundirel looked up, his face lit from below by Whitefire's luminescence as it faded, and smiled grimly.

Then, he charged, driving his blade into the neck of one of Ethcorai's assailants, and tearing its head from its shoulders.
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Offline N01H3r3

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Re: Legacies
« Reply #20 on: August 03, 2009, 08:02:54 PM »
The Kroot had been driven back six weeks ago. After Alundirel had sated his need for vengeance, he and Ethcorai finished Seledhain's work, and pursued the Kroot kindred to the very fringes of that cluster of worlds, slaying enough of them that they would not consider resuming their raids on the Exodite colonies for a long time to come.

The last six weeks had been spend ensuring that the task was complete. The pair of Eldar wandered through the Webway, reporting their successes to the World Kings of each colony they came to. On Tran'qelash, both were gifted with dragonbone hunting daggers, ornate broad blades as long as Alundirel's forearm, with a hilt wrapped in the silken belly-hide of a Megadon. The blades hung in dragonscale sheaths that were strapped to their scabbards, echoing the traditional style of the Tran'qelash Exodites.

But, at last, Alundirel returned home, dropping his pack by the door, placing his twinned scabbards on their rack in the corner of his chambers, and slumping over his couch as fatigue overcame him.

Sleep is not a necessary thing for the Eldar. Their bodies require periodic rest and their minds require occasional meditation, but true sleep is not required.

Alundirel, like many Eldar, slept anyway. Waking rest was sufficient for his body, and meditation allowed a structured and purposeful ordering of thoughts and memories, but sleep, or rather dreaming, was something different. And so, Alundirel slept, allowing his mind to relax in his rune-shielded chambers, safe from the gnawing hunger of She Who Thirsts, and waited for a dream to form.

***

Memories not his own filled Alundirel's sleeping mind.

Disordered tides of refugees fled towards a Webway Gate, on a world Alundirel didn't know. At their heels, the lumpen forms of Man.

Clad in white armour, trimmed in green, the humans strode steadily forwards, their guns barking and spewing forth thick explosive shells that tore through flesh and bone.

"Like the guns of the plague-warriors..." Alundirel mused, recalling a familiar sight and sound.

Something caught Alundirel's attention. a flicker of white amidst the fleeing Eldar, and the familiar shriek of shuriken.

"Father." The thought came unbidden, but Alundirel knew it was true. The light was unmistakable as being that of Whitefire.

Seledhain's face was twisted by rage, and he bellowed orders at his kinsmen, clad all in blue-grey armour, their faces masked by bone-white helms, and their shoulders draped with shimmering cloaks. Another scream, and another volley of shuriken, followed this time by the hissing roar of a fusion gun. One of the human warriors fell backwards, his face reduced to molten flesh by the blast. Two more staggered under the withering fire of the Eldar, but did not fall.

The distance between the two groups of warriors was closing quickly. Seledhain's mind flicked with intent, and a single shot whipped from his shuriken pistol. An unearthly wail issued forth, and slammed through the elbow seal of one of the human's bulky armour. The human's arm jerked backwards in shock, but it lasted only a split second before the warrior turned back towards his target.

Alundirel's perception swept in closer. His knowledge of healing allowed him to sense something awry, but he could not tell what. At least, until the human warrior convulsed for the first time.

An armoured hand grabbed at a steel-clad biceps, unable to reach it for the thick protection that contained the warrior's form. He convulsed again, the shock driving the warrior to his knees, and he scrambled for the release catch of his helm, flinging it aside with unnecessary force as he vomited up thick crimson blood. Alundirel's dream-state perception heard an unpleasant gurgling reverberate through the human's body, and he shuddered again, wracked with agony. The veins of his thick neck and broad face turned grey-green, and he bellowed in pain and frustration, his roar interrupted by a coughing fit that sprayed discoloured blood everywhere. Two of his brethren had dropped back to attend to their kinsman, while the rest pressed on, attempting to strike down the Eldar who had done such harm to their fellow.

Another convulsion, and the sound of metal shearing as the warrior's arm twisted into an unnatural position, ripping through the seals of his armour with adrenaline-fuelled strength. He staggered to his feet, stumbling across the broken, gore-stained ground and roaring incoherently with confusion. He had walked a dozen halting paces before a loud, wet thump broke through the sounds of battle. The warrior's headless form sprayed corrupted gore in every direction, chunks of armour plate thrown off by the force of his metabolism detonating, leaving a barely-recognisable lump of acidic flesh and twisted steel where before there had been a soldier.

One of the dead warrior's kinsmen, whose back was adorned with a vast array of fume-belching pipes, articulated automaton-claws and gleaming thermal-cutters, roared in anger, and thundered forwards, the metal limbs of his harness flailing as they echoed his rage. He levelled a blunt-nosed, twin-barrelled weapon, and rained a hail of explosive shells into the Eldar lines as they pulled back to the Webway.

The warrior's rage felt familiar, somehow, but Alundirel couldn't place where he had felt it before. The memory faded, growing dim as Alundirel's body stirred.

"Where was that?" He mused, as the last tendrils of the dream retreated from his mind.

The humans call it Daroth, after one of their war-leaders. We called it Sirrianash. I helped defend its people when the humans tore across the stars during their 'Crusade', but the world was lost to us... so soon after The Fall, we could do little to turn them back, and we lost much to the human dream of conquest, though we made them pay for every world they took from us.

Alundirel sat in silence for a moment, taking in his father's disembodied words.

"Show me how to find this world stolen from us. I would know more about the wrongs done to my people..."
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Offline N01H3r3

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Re: Legacies
« Reply #21 on: August 03, 2009, 08:05:19 PM »
Sirrianash... no, not anymore. Daroth. A world choking on its own exhalations.

The Eldar world of aeons past was long gone, even the scorched plains and trampled fields Alundirel remembered from his sword-vision, replaced by groaning industry.

Dull metal in baroque structures twisted away into the dense, jaundiced cloud, and great rents scarred the ground. The world was blasted and blighted, a minor jewel of the Eldar Empire infected with some planetary malignancy. A corpse of a world.

Alundirel walked through bustling streets, almost gagging on the dual reeks of humanity and industry, heavily robed and keeping to the abundant shadows. Those who did notice him soon found their attentions diverted by a shroud of psychic static that buzzed and hissed around the wandering Eldar.

Guttural mumbles filled the air, and more than once, Alundirel reached for Whitefire in moments of inexplicable fury that passed as swiftly as they arose. Every time, Alundirel restrained himself - it would be foolish to cause such mayhem as would quench his intermittent rage, in such a crowded and hostile place. Still, the Warsong was as loud and clear as it had been in a long time, and its familiar heat churned uncomfortably within his psyche.

Here

Alundirel paused, and looked around. He stood in a vast plaza, the paving slabs - obscured by the milling crowds - marked out a vast two-headed bird, a common symbol of Man's ramshackle Empire. Several of the buildings around the plaza were marked with similar emblems - crossed lightning bolts clutched in the claws of double-headed eagles and the fists of armoured warriors, the symbol of the haloed skull protruding from the tops of archways, and all manner of crude religious iconography.

"Here?" Alundirel whispered, quieter than the ears of humans could detect.

Here. This is where Man brought death to our shattered people.

Alundirel's senses swam, and the original appearance of Sirrianash floated spectrally, super-imposed over the stone and steel of human artifice. Vast translucent spires and domes lay scattered in patterns of mythic significance, surrounded by a turquoise forest that bloomed with iridescent flowers. Thick, sweet-smelling grass mingled with harsh, lifeless stone in Alundirel's mind, showing past and present as one.

Fire rained from the sky, flattening the memory-landscape and blasting away structures that had stood for millions of years. Great metal shells slammed into the blackened settlement, crushing luminous statuary and impossibly old relics where they landed, before bursting open like perverse flowers and disgorging white-armoured humans...

No, not humans. Seeing man's past next to it's present, he saw that the warriors were of vast and terrible aspect, dwarfing the lesser men who infested this world in the present.

Eldar died in their dozens, fleeing the sudden assault, and Alundirel caught a glimpse of a tall, proud Eldar rallying defenders to his side.

"Father..." Alundirel breathed, seeing history unfold.

More of the transport pods were scattered heavily across the landscape, followed by vast aircraft studded with brutal cannons and smoke-belching missiles. All bore the haloed skull emblem upon their shoulders. With brutal efficiency, the armoured warriors spread across the settlement.

Is it any wonder that such creatures fell to Chaos?

Alundirel pondered his father's words as the last aircraft disgorged a familiar warrior in a smoke-belching harness laden with additional clawed limbs and lifter arms. The warrior paused, inclining his head towards Alundirel for a moment, almost as if he was able to see through time... even in the psychic memory of this place, the warrior's emotional signature was clear.

"He was the Chaos Champion I fought in defence of Iyanden... why does he look towards me?"

I cannot answer that. However, it seems as though the fate of this one is of importance, in some distant future. Watch him, stand against him when you must. Now, you must leave this memory and this place. Much is left for you to learn...
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Re: Legacies
« Reply #22 on: August 03, 2009, 08:13:51 PM »
Six Millennia Earlier

Five figures sat about a long table, shrouded in darkness, their presence suggested only by faint silhouettes in the light of luminescent stones. Four seats remained empty.

"Are we all who could attend?" Spoke the first, at at the head of the table, placing a rune-tablet in front of him. The emblem of the Shrine of Asuryan glowed enough that all could see it.

"It would appear so." Responded the second, Isha's Tears upon his tablet.

"What of the Sierann? Do they not answer the call?" The third placed his tablet, a heart within a chalice, upon the table before him.

"They wish nothing to do with us. They forsake what they see as fallen ways. I am of a mind to agree." The eternal serpent marked the fourth.

"Yet you still came to hear us out, while they did not." Khaine's blade and the crimson moon glowed before the fifth.

"Is there news of the Rillietann? Do Cegorach's children send word?"

"Word and cryptic rhyme as always; no meaning of it known until after the fact."

"Unsuprising that a warlord would be blind to the Mirthful One's missive. Why are the Rebirth of Ancient Days represented? This matter concerns our future, and they are concerned only with past and present"

"All were invited; this matter concerns all of us, regardless of our differences. Messengers were even sent to the Dark City, and though their response was predictably vile, it was remarkably restrained. Apparently some respect for kin lingers within the Otann, at least for now."

"So we five are all who responded? There are dozens, even hundreds of Kionash out there. Are those who seek more than meagre survival so few?"

"Many of us lingered too near to the Esik-Yirraith as it opened, having stayed behind to rescue what survivors we could. Your homes all escaped the worst effects, distant from the Birthworlds as you were. Most were not so fortunate, and it has been only a matter of years since the cataclysm."

"Enough! We have matters of grave importance to discuss, and yet we bicker like Mon-keigh. I trust all of your homes have been visited by Asurmen and his disciples?"

"He carries Khaine's blessing, that is sufficient for us. His Path shall spread amongst our number."

"As will it amongst us. We need this strength he offers to withstand any further depredations of She Who Thirsts."

"The Hand of Asuryan's intentions are noble enough, but his methods are facing some resistance amongst my kin, and the Sierann will not accept it - they care little enough for the ways of those not dwelling amongst them as it is."

"It is not yet in place, but my kin endeavour to follow the guidance of the Asur."

"It will be sufficient for most things. But we all know that there is more at stake than survival or corruption. Tasks were set in place by the Old Ones, which were all but forgotten in the days before the Cataclysm. The Rillietann sing of them still, and more now than ever before must we heed the warnings of those who created us. As in aeons past, we need heroes, not merely warriors."

"And I suppose the scion of Ulthanash would provide this? It is always the way - those of ancient lineage and noble blood cling to the glories that once were, while those who bleed and die on alien fields are dismissed as 'mere warriors'. Would you claim that Baharroth or Arhra were 'mere warriors'?"

"You mistake my meaning, and seek only to antagonise; I speak of no specific bloodline or lineage when I speak of heroes, but of any Eldar who might stand alone against the darkness and do what is necessary to pursue the goals of our kind as a whole. Already, we have seen that some struggle beneath the discipline of the Path, but are we to crush their free will and yoke their potential, or are we to see them freed and given a different purpose?"

"You speak of the Path as some sort of burden? Preposterous. It is the salvation of our species and should be embraced without reservation, not discarded when we feel it is slightly uncomfortable. We have seen what happens when control gives way to thoughts of comfort and pleasure, and it almost destroyed us all."

"The representative of Light in the Darkness is correct; as it has been foretold, there will be a need for the strength of individuals beyond that of the collective and the Path. We need a means to do things beyond the reach of armies and seers. If the Path is our Iarstillmen - our sword-hand - then we need an Istaurmen - a silent hand - to act in ways that the majority of us cannot."

"The representative of Song of Ulthanash speaks wisdom. I agree with him and Light in the Darkness."

"As do I"

"As do we." A new voice, almost musical, entered the room. Lights flickered around the source of the voice, shifting between contradictory images.

"I speak on behalf of He who is most joyous. He has predicted your need and grants you his blessing in this most important task."

"Loathe as I am to this agreement, I will not stand opposed to the Laughing God's emissary."

"Then we are agreed. We shall see the founding of a kindred of individuals, gifted and strong of will and purpose, to act as our silent hand in the gravest of matters. Where armies cannot march, they shall be our blade. Where ancient treasures cannot be reached, they shall reclaim for us. Where distant manipulation is too imprecise, they shall subvert the goals of our enemies."
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Re: Legacies
« Reply #23 on: August 03, 2009, 08:15:22 PM »
Present Day - 4.254.989.M34 by Imperial Reckoning

Hive Ixis, Tobansworld, Relem Drift Sub-sector, Salamon Sector, Segmentum Obscuras


"After him!" The shouts of the pursuing humans echoed through the steel labyrinth of their claustrophobic city.

Alundirel, swifter than his would-be captors, was hindered by the endless forest of pipes and conduits and cabling and broken machinery that seemed to exist in all directions. He could feel the half-buried webway gate in the distance, but every corridor, duct, abandoned vent and transit arterial seemed to lead him away from it.

His pursuers had no such difficulty. Presumably accustomed to the dense and unnatural terrain, they rampaged forwards like a tide of sweaty, hirsute and malodorous flesh, clutching noisy and crude guns that spat lumps of hot metal and clouds of stinking smoke. Every so often, one or two of them would spot him and fire, striking the surrounding metal with a rain of hot lead.

Alundirel had no time to turn and fight, nor any inclination to do so yet. Whitefire hummed at his hip, his constant companion for three and a half centuries now, and an elegant pair of laspistols were tucked into the small of his back beneath his shadow-weave cloak. In his hands, a slender tablet of polished wraithbone, studded with glittering gems, each one engraved with the rune of one of the Gods, the surrounding engravings telling a story in a form so ancient that Alundirel struggled to understand it.

The item was a personal shrine, of sorts. A simple item carried by travelling Eldar so he or she might pay observances to the Gods even in the wilderness. It had been abandoned here on this world during the cataclysm... and Alundirel had recovered it, from the 'art' collection of a human of looser morals than most. A relic of worthier days, to be returned to his people, not handled by the meaty fists of humans...

That was why they pursued him - he had stolen from them, so they believed. Certainly, he didn't think they had yet discerned his nature.

Alundirel swept round a corner, ducking under a low-hanging coolant pipe to catch his breath. The thundering footsteps of his pursuers were nearing rapidly. Alundirel slipped the shrine-tablet into his pack reverently, and then burst from his hiding place.

A hail of gunfire followed him, metal whipping past him. Alundirel leapt up and forwards, grabbing a narrow metal railing with one hand and pulling himself upwards into a ventilation shaft as he swung round. Upside down and sailing into the air, he drew his laspistols and unleashed a storm of blue-white bolts into the surging mass beneath him. The power cells exhausted themselves just as Alundirel reached the peak of his ascent, and he tucked his arms and legs inwards, slipping his pistols back into their holsters and righting himself.

With inhuman grace he landed, feet first, amidst the crowd of humans, dropping into a crouch to rob his landing of its momentum. His cloak swirled around him as he touched the ground, crouched, span around and stood in a single fluid motion, drawing Whitefire and disembowelling a human with his first stroke. He whirled and struck, again and again, moving faster than the humans could comprehend, slaying them as they struggled to react to a foe so swift, still in shock that they had encountered such a foe. A dozen human bodies littered the floor in seconds.

A blow caught Alundirel on the back of the right shoulder, and he rolled forwards, standing at the end of the roll. The element of surprise was lost, Alundirel knew, and the humans would not be so simple to overcome now they had a measure of him. Eight of them remained, holding rough swords, lengths of weighted chain, metal cudgels, knives, and the seemingly-obligatory metal-spewing pistols.

Alundirel took a step backwards, and found himself pressed against a solid wall. Whitefire still blazed in his hand. His dark eyes glittered in the light, and his features were illuminated by the crackling emissions of the ancient sword.

"It isn't human..." he heard one of them mutter, astonished, angry and somewhat afraid...

"Whatever it is, it'll die all the same!" Growled another, who stepped forwards to strike with his sword.

Alundirel moved towards his attacker, whipping round and kicking out, stumbling the human backwards. With the extra room gained, Alundirel ran towards the wall, then up it... after three paces, he felt his momentum starting to give way to gravity, and he pushed against the wall instead, jumping backwards over his adversaries.

"Your ineptitude is astounding." He spoke as he landed, facing them. The syllables of the human language still felt rough and unpleasant as he pronounced them, but learning it had been a necessity given how far the Mon-keigh had spread.

"DIE!" Shouted one of them, and they collectively began to charge.

Alundirel glanced upwards, and smiled slightly as he realised exactly what he stood beneath. The humans seemed to move and react so slowly to the world that it felt like Alundirel had an eternity to act. Whitefire flicked up, ripping a gash into the pipe that ran above Alundirel's head, and he stepped backwards.

Just as the humans reached it, a gout of steam blasted downwards through the rent in the pipe.

Alundirel turned on his heel and walked away, his cloak shimmering to conceal him as he departed at a more comfortable pace.
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Re: Legacies
« Reply #24 on: August 03, 2009, 08:17:12 PM »
Four Weeks Later, Biel-Tan Craftworld

"Bielastaeinmeantokathesdainnfaredinillweasliddronath of House Caranilleth?" Alundirel asked, as the door opened.

"Please, call me Astonath." Smiled the dwelling's owner.

"As you wish. I have your pilgrim-shrine."

"Wonderful! Come in, come in!"

Alundirel stepped in, and glanced around. The dwelling was typical of those on most Craftworlds, grown from the surrounding superstructure, and decorated to the occupant's tastes with subtly coloured light, fondly possessed trinkets and works of art.

"Take a seat. Would you like a drink?" Astonath asked, as he crossed the lounge.

"Sarath, if you have any."

"My lifemate distilled it as a hobby when she was on the Warrior Path. The Biel-Tan varieties are particularly potent, however, and only get stronger as they age." Astonath poured out two glasses of glittering blue-grey Sarath as he spoke, and handed one to Alundirel.

Alundirel brought the glass to his lips, and sipped at the spiced liquor. "Certainly interesting. Not quite as powerful as the Canac I had on Haran forty years ago, though - the Exodites there are a spirited people, and it shows in everything they do. Now, about your shrine."

"Yes, of course." Astonath accepted the carefully-wrapped package, and began unfolding the silken covering. "Marvellous... I can't believe it took only a decade to uncover it."

"The human who had claimed it was quite the braggart; his statements to the quality of his 'art collection' were numerous. His security, however, was less so: he was in the room when I took it from its plinth, distracted by a servant."

Astonath laughed as he imagined the scene, and finished his drink. "Well, I am most grateful; I had thought this long lost. My father's spirit shall be overjoyed at its return. How can I repay you."

"I seek no compensation; the journey and the purpose are sufficient for me."

"Are you certain? You wish nothing in return?"

"Nothing. I seek to wander the stars, but my sense of purpose will not yield to my wanderlust, so I cannot wander idly. Speak well of me to your kin, and send word if they have a task I might perform for them." Alundirel downed the last of his drink, and set the glass down lightly. "Now, if you will excuse me... my road will not wait for me to walk upon it."

"As you wish, Alund'athil. Isha sustain you, traveller."

"Furtafar, Astonath. Lileath grant you fortune."
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Re: Legacies
« Reply #25 on: August 03, 2009, 08:19:03 PM »
Four Millennia Earlier

"Lord-Seer... How long until the humans reach Iltarasash?" A seer, young by his voice, asked as he strode into the warded chamber.

"Days, maybe a week. The runes are vague, imprecise. We are nearing a shadowpoint, and events are becoming difficult to discern with any reliability." The older Seer stepped forwards, gathering a cluster of floating runes with a gloved hand, and holding them up to the light.

"I have ordered the fleet into ambush positions, as you directed. When the mon-keigh emerge from the Aethyr, we shall strike." The younger seer sounded proud and satisfied.

"It will not be enough. The human fleet is large, and their warrior caste lead it amongst the stars and upon the ground. Their wars are inelegant, but brutal and swift. Do not underestimate them. The fleet shall attack only at my instruction."

"My lord... Elthran... how could the humans have achieved so much? They have carved an empire from the darkness in scant decades, trampling across the ruins of our own legacy."

"And they shall fall harder and more swiftly than we did, bringing the galaxy with them, unless something is done. We are merely three centuries from an event of considerable importance... an event that I cannot yet see."

"But you will avert it?" Another Eldar stepped into the chamber, clad in armour well worn from travel.

"Not I alone, but I think we can." The Lord-Seer, Elthran responded. "It is good to see you again, Sariel."

"And you, my friend. It has been too many long years since I stood upon the Lay of Ulthanash. But there seem to be little time for pleasant conversation in these dark days. The council sent me; they said you contacted them about a task of grave importance."

"You have heard the situation. A human warfleet, a herald of this 'crusade' they are committed to, is in the Immaterium, headed to Iltarasash. There are weapons on that world of great power that the humans must not be allowed to claim. Already we have lost sight of so many of them; Vaul's Talismen were lost to us during the Cataclysm, and many hundreds of more besides, relics of the War in Heaven and conflicts since."

"Am I to halt their advance, or deny them their prize?"

"The former is too great a task to ask anyone; the humans are relentless and numerous. You would not stop their advance unless you slew their leader, and I can neither see that come to pass, nor can I see any good coming from it. No... the prize is to be denied to them. Take whatever weapons you need, travel to Iltarasash, and do whatever you feel you must to prevent those weapons from falling into human hands. I can only pray that their purpose shall never been needed."

"The Silent Hand acts at your direction, Lord-Seer."
***

Chapter Master Ramus of the IVth Chapter, XIIIth Legion stared from the Battle Barge's command pulpit, to the sight presented on the viewscreen before him.

"I want an explanation for this..."

"My Lord..." muttered a human adjutant carrying a stack of dataslates up to Ramus. "...Mechanicum Explorators and a full Rogue Trader survey showed the world to be verdant and habitable but presently uninhabited - ideal for colonisation."

"And yet, I am presented with a barren world patterned with rivers of lava and smouldering volcanoes." To say the Astartes officer was irritated did not do justice to his mood.

"I shall have the Navigator double-check our location, my Lord."

"Then do so. Until that time, let the record state that this world be marked as the Ninth one to be claimed in the Emperor's name by the Eleventh Expedition. Request that Magos Thaddeus organise a survey team to look for any natural resources of worth."

"At once, my Lord."
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Re: Legacies
« Reply #26 on: August 03, 2009, 08:20:40 PM »
Present Day - 7.565.391.M35 by Imperial Reckoning

Shimmering azure walls and clinging mist surrounded Alundirel on all sides, and Alundirel felt lost again.

After two millennia of life, four hundred of which had been spent wandering between worlds away from home and the Path, Alundirel still found it difficult to negotiate his way around the Webway at times.

Pathways seemed to flow into one another, and were only visible from certain angles. Directions that shouldn't be possible were the only viable routes. It was entirely feasible to travel in a circle without ever turning a corner or noticing the correct path, and if a traveller was incautious, even turning around and retracing one's steps wouldn't necessarily lead to the same places...

"Oh for Isha's sake!" Alundirel exclaimed angrily, "Which way is it?"

His words echoed oddly, flickering off of walls that weren't entirely real, and often sounding like another person had spoken them.

Frustrated, he sat down, crossing his legs. He was tired and hungry - it had been weeks since his last meal, and the needs of his body were catching up with him, even in this ageless place.

"Where... ah, there it is..."

The faint echo seemed to have his voice, but the oddities of the Webway were dizzying to contemplate too deeply, and Alundirel returned to rummaging in his pack.

"Where... ah, there it is..." he mumbled as he retrieved his flask, then paused, recognising his words as matching the echo he'd heard only moments before.

Contemplating this, he chewed on a wad of dried Nauroq meat and gulped back a few mouthfuls of water. He slipped the cap back onto his flask and wiped his mouth dry with the back of his hand, and glanced upwards.

"That wasn't... oh, never mind." There was a pathway directly above him, open and clear, that hadn't been visible a few minutes ago. Hauling his pack onto his shoulders, he stepped up towards it, the mist rolling around like water finding its level in a glass as wall became floor and the tunnel seemed to reorient itself.

***

It might have been an hour, it might have been a day, Alundirel couldn't tell, but the tunnel had continued in what appeared to be a straight line for a considerable distance. He was about to relent, to look around for an unnoticed passage leading away from this causeway.

The tunnel itself had broadened immensely, and was now wide enough, Alundirel suspected, to contain an entire warhost of warriors and vehicles, and tall enough that another could travel above them on the tunnel roof. The mist had taken on a faint and unpleasant greenish-grey tinge, and the ambient light had dimmed somewhat.

A few paces further, and Alundirel realised why.

Great black spires, ridged with serrated crenelations, protruded from every direction in a cavern of unimaginable vastness. Shrieking craft - barb-winged jetbikes and grav-skiffs - flicked rapidly between the criss-crossing towers, darting about like the vicious flourishes of a knife-fight.

Alundirel had heard Ethcorai and his father speak of the place, and everyone knew the rumours and legends... but to see it sent a chill down Alundirel's spine. The pungent smell of blood, the lingering sounds of a billion voices screaming, the palpable waves of utter dread, and the sheer sight of it all told him that it could be only once place in all of the galaxy, a place he would rather have never stumbled upon.

The Dark City of the Druchii, the malefic demesne of the Otann.

Commorragh.
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Re: Legacies
« Reply #27 on: August 03, 2009, 08:22:31 PM »
"Issss it ssscared?"

The voice sent a shiver down Alundirel's spine, a flickering whisper of dread that seemed utterly unfounded and yet entirely rational.

"It issss.... it fearsss the Dark Place... dreadsss it beyond conscioussss imagining..."

The same one, or perhaps slightly different, Alundirel couldn't tell. The sibilant whispers echoed unnaturally within the tunnel, sometimes muted as if underwater, sometimes as clear as the sound of a bell mere hand-span's from the ear. Alundirel span around, looking for the source of the voice or voices...

"We are as sssshadow, pretty one. Death wrapped in shroudssss of night."

"Isss it for usss, sssister? May we take it?"

Yes, definitely two voices, maybe more. A reassuring surge of warmth reminded Alundirel of Whitefire's presence at his hip.

"Yesss... yesss it isss. Thissss one burns as a lantern in the twilight, not the guttering flame of our sssiblings in the City..."

"Then we feast!!"

The last word was mangled into a feral bark, and the creatures set upon Alundirel.

In a blink, Whitefire had flown from its scabbard and blazed with energy, a white inferno running along the blade like flames wrought from diamond. The illumination it brought revealed his attackers to him.

They were as Eldar, but debased and twisted almost beyond recognition. Their forms were emaciated and hunched, their skin a pallid grey-green that seemed to swirl and shift uncertainly. Their eyes were pitch black and glinted with untamed malevolence, and their bared teeth were discoloured and narrowed into vicious points. In each hand, they clutched a writhing serrated blade of some description, every one different in shape but singular in form, and so sharp that they almost sang. The gloom of the tunnel seemed to writhe with them, dragged along by their twitching, animalistic motions.

They were within their knives' reach within a heartbeat. Alundirel ducked the first, parried a second, then a third, and span backwards to elude the next. In the mounting gloom, and with their constant motion, Alundirel couldn't see how many there were. Oddly cold breath puffed at him from any angle, and Alundirel continued his frantic defence.

A blade got through, Alundirel's reflexes barely sufficient, and ripped a ragged gash in his cloak that would have otherwise crippled his arm. Alundirel followed the motion of the blow and rolled backwards, pushing himself to his feet with his free hand, before lunging forwards with the blade in his other one.

The creature wasn't there anymore. The shadows parted and revealed only air, and a whispered, hoarse laughter whipped past him.

Alundirel whirled and lashed out, striking nothing once more. A cold sensation, and the promise of pain to come, slid down his cheek, followed by a thin trickle of hot blood. He span again, striking in the direction the attack came from, once again to no avail. Every sense was screaming that another attack was coming, and Alundirel twisted to meet it with his blade, batting it aside a fraction of a second before it would have pierced his back.

Another puff of cold breath, behind and to the left. Alundirel turned to strike again, snatching the hunting dagger from its sheath and clutching it in a reverse grip. Whitefire whistled through the air once more, and Alundirel stepped forwards, spinning on his heel to face the predicted attack from behind. Both blades raised together, swatting the creature's attack upwards, and then Whitefire alone descended, ripping through debased flesh and sending the creature squealing back into the gloom.

Another one incoming... Alundirel ducked and attempted to counter attack, but found no enemy, no attack to counter. A sharp blow to the back of his knee stumbled him forwards as he rose, and he rolled sideways to elude the inevitable follow-up, then struck sideways. Whitefire struck flesh once more, severing an arm at the elbow. Squealing and mist once again, as another fled before it could be slain.

Left...

Whitefire's instruction was acted upon reflexively - Alundirel had long since come to trust his sword's instincts. A creature - the final one, Alundirel guessed, since the gloom had subsided so much - stumbled forwards, having put too much effort into its attack. Alundirel struck, but the creature dodged, hopping nimbly over the arcing diresword, before darting in to attack again.

It stepped in close, surprisingly strong as it slammed into Alundirel's body and knocked him backwards. Alundirel's grip on Whitefire slipped, and the diresword skittered across the tunnel. He brought his dagger-hand up to strike, but the creature pinned it to the floor. The creature's face pulled towards his, leering, like some monstrous parody of a smile. Alundirel's empty fist lashed up, catching the creature and knocking it slightly aside, and in a moment, Whitefire had leapt across the room to its master's hand. One sharp shove toppled the creature from where it crouched, and Alundirel drove onwards, ramming the blade deep into its chest, pulling it close enough to look it in the eyes as it died.

The corrupted soul fled its debased body, and Alundirel shuddered as he felt the psychic moan of it entering the Warp and being consumed utterly by She Who Thirsts. Then, without warning, he slumped wearily backwards.

Shocked by the sudden lack of strength, Alundirel looked down at himself.

"Sha'eil..." he cursed, reaching down to touch the ragged wound in his stomach. It ached, and the pain was getting worse as Alundirel's mind washed away the heady rush of combat.

Thinking back to his centuries as a healer, he pressed down on the wound and concentrated on it.

It wasn't too deep, fortunately, having struck against his abdominal ribcage rather than plunge into his stomach. It still hurt, though. And it was bleeding profusely.

He took a deep breath, and held his eyes closed. The Webway was not the best place to enter a recuperative trance, but it had to be done, even if only for a short while. He grabbed a dressing from his pack, holding the cool fabric against the wound after peeling away the armour that covered it. With his other hand, he pulled a small pouch, and then picked a couple of tine wraithbone runes from it, tucking them into the folds of the dressing.

Alundirel's breathing slowed, and the runes and the injury became the only things he was aware of. Slowly, as seconds and minutes passed, the bleeding slowed to a trickle, and then stopped. His eyes snapped open, and he was aware again. He looked down, pulling the dressing back. It was soaked in his own blood, and he carefully extracted the runes from the sodden mass of fabric, placing them reverentially back into their pouch. The wound wasn't healed, or even closed, but the blood flow had been redirected elsewhere, and the pain numbed considerably. The dull ache that remained flared up when he attempted to move, and it would still take some time before it was completely healed... but at least the risk of imminent death by blood loss was considerably lessened.

Alundirel fixed another dressing into place, and pulled his armour back down over it, stiffening the mesh-weave around the wound with a thought, to compress and support the injured flesh.

Wincing as he hauled his pack onto his shoulders again, Alundirel set off, away from the Dark City.
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Re: Legacies
« Reply #28 on: August 03, 2009, 08:25:34 PM »
Four Millennia Earlier...

Humankind... their so-called Imperium... had torn itself asunder. One attempt to halt it had already failed... and it was too late to stop it now.

All that could be done was to limit the damage that could be done... it wasn't much, but to stand idly while Chaos thrived was unconscionable. Still, it was up to the humans to end this war.
***

Silvraine spotted their quarry on the rubble-choked streets below. Human armies clashed, and the warfare that flooded through the human city around them was loud and incredibly violent.

A troupe of Rangers crouched nearby, their shadow-weave cloaks making them all but invisible, and not a sound could be heard from them as they lined up another volley of shots.

Silvraine stepped back, and unspooled a line of wire and affixed it to another grapnel, ready to move as soon as the Rangers were done.

A dozen harsh, high-pitched cracks echoed across the rooftops, almost too high-pitched for human ears to discern. A dozen humans in thrall to the Ruinous Powers fell silently, not even having time to scream or clutch their wounds before their pitiful lives ended.

And the Rangers were up, moving like shadows towards the edge of the roof. Silvraine ran alongside them, and as one, the thirteen Eldar flicked out grapnel lines and leapt, as they had done countless times before in the last week of conflict.

The lines caught, as they always did, and the Eldar sailed to the next rooftop, barely breaking stride as they landed and continued to sprint, vaulting over and sliding under obstacles with blinding speed.

A few minutes running, and they stopped.

Another rooftop, another set of targets. Silvraine looked down again, her dark eyes surveying the situation carefully.

There.

An officer, of the human warrior-caste, larger and better-armoured than those surrounding him. The stink of corruption was evident even at this range. The warrior's armour was the a deep crimson, trimmed with silver, and his head was bare and heavily tattooed with abhorrent writings.

The Hawk Circles she thought to her companions.

Then here do our journeys divide, Istaurmen. Khaine's fury sustain you. Their leader replied.

And Kurnous' cloak conceal you.

They were fourteen stories up. The target was on the ground. Silvraine smirked, and let her body fall backwards off the building, tucking into a tight ball moments later, before kicking outwards against the building.

Half way down.

She soared across the street, grabbing hold of one of the cables that criss-crossed the city, and span round it, before perching atop it and looking downwards once again.

She smiled. It hasn't seen me, she thought to herself.

Springing from her perch, Silvraine grabbed hold of a protruding flagpole and deftly pulled herself up, holding steady for a moment before leaping out again, forwards this time, running along the wall to slow her descent.

Nearly there...

She kicked out again, pushing against the wall she'd just run along, and drew both swords. They hummed and sparked with energy as she crossed them, forming an X with which she pushed down against the ground, vaulting backwards over her prey.

She had killed his kind before. They were faster than most humans, much stronger and much more difficult to kill, but it could be done, by one of sufficient skill. She landed, and sprang forwards, blades bared. The warrior reacted, swinging up a heavy mace bearing the eight-pointed star of the Ruinous Powers.

Twin power blades dug into the warrior's cuirass, and were pulled away as quickly, as Silvraine pulled herself below the angry sweeping arc of her foe's mace. She jumped upwards and forwards from her crouch, flipping over her enemy and lashing out with both blades as she passed, upside-down, above him. He parried, the impact disrupting Silvraine's leap, and she crashed to the ground sideways, momentarily dazed.

"And what inexplicable purpose brings you here, I wonder..." growled the human.

Silvraine spat a mouthful of dust to one side, and grinned. "Nothing so complex. You are a servant of the Ruinous Powers. You are my enemy. My enemies die..." she said in slightly accented Low Gothic.

"So confident... so arrogant. The Mardagg will enjoy your soul, mortal."

Silvraine charged, sidestepping a heavy swing of the human's mace, and drove her left-hand blade into the gap under his pauldron, into his armpit.

A hissing roar of pain was her reward, as she pulled the blade back and thrust the other blade at his neck.

In spite of his injury, he shifted sideways and batted the blade aside with an armoured hand. Sparks flew at the moment's contact.

"Not so easily. Chaos fills my veins..."

"All the more reason to open them!" Silvraine interrupted, slashing across with both blades, carving long furrows into the warrior's armour, but spilling no blood.

She didn't see the attack coming. A mace half her weight, crackling with energy and stinking of abhorrent potency, slammed into her side, breaking a dozen ribs and hurling her sideways into the rubble.

She groaned as she tried to sit up. Her armour was buckled and blackened from the impact. Her body was severely injured from that one blow alone. She looked over at her enemy.

There was something else there. It pushed at his face from within, leaving the impression of serrated ridges of bone along his cheeks and jaw, and a cluster of vestigial horns pushing from his temples. Cold warp-light shone from his dark eyes, and his tattoos glowed fiercely in a shroud of gloom that was akin to a hood woven of darkness and draped over his head.

A spatter of blood - her blood - could be seen on his face, and he licked it away with a long forked tongue.

"Are we quite finished?" It asked, the daemon's voice, like a blade dragged down a pane of glass, mingling with the baritone growl of its host.

Silvraine tried to speak, but could only cough up blood.

"Lost for words, are we?"

"N-not quite yet..." she choked out in response, a hoarse whisper, as she shakily reached inside the satchel beneath her cloak.

"A final attempt to slay me? How tiresome."

Silvraine smiled weakly, and pulled out a spherical device, marked in faintly-glowing runes. A liquid within sloshed slightly as she handled it, tracing her fingers along the runes in sequence, lighting them up further.

The daemon-in-flesh strode over, and snatched the thing from her hands.

"A bomb? Really... I had expected more from the Eldar than cheap pyrotechnics."

"Sha'eil take you, daemon." Silvraine spat, driving a dagger into her heart. As the last of her life drained away, her waystone took on a lambent glow, and with her final breath, she hurled it with a roar into a building down the street.

The sphere flickered, and then imploded, collapsing into itself as it activated. A sphere of purest annihilation opened and expanded in a heartbeat, destroying everything it touched.

Then, as quickly as it appeared, it was gone, leaving only a perfectly spherical hole to show it had even existed.
***

The Rangers moved silently about the city. The servants of the Ruinous Powers had been driven elsewhere on this world, and the city was dead and quiet save for a handful of disinterested and fatigued patrols.

"It is here." Said one of their number, in Lam-Eldannar reminiscent of Alaitoc's dialect.

"Her sacrifice will be remembered. Let us return her spirit to her loved ones..." Said another, as the discarded soulstone, still glowing, was slipped into a pouch.
Contributing Writer for many Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay books, including Black Crusade

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Offline N01H3r3

  • Inquisitor
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  • Posts: 162
  • Long Ago and Far Away
Re: Legacies
« Reply #29 on: August 03, 2009, 08:28:23 PM »
Present Day - 214.604.M35 by Imperial Reckoning

The bazaar was immense, stretching for miles in every direction, composed almost entirely of landed shuttles and lighters surrounded by tents and awnings of all shapes, sizes and colours. A few dilapidated buildings were scattered here and there, constructed from rough stone.

Everywhere Alundirel turned, there were other creatures. Thousands of them, of dozens of different species. The humans knew this world as Voq, the Re'mal knew it as Nash'tai, the Visserik Union called it Sspal... a dozen different species, each knowing the world by different names, and the Eldar were no different. This was Borifeth, the Void's Gift.

It was an empty place, once, a desert wasteland of no value, discovered by the Eldar in ancient times, a single world system in the region the humans knew as the Halo Stars, and the very fringes of the galaxy. The old poem said Bonifeth illweand ashwé - 'the Gift of the Void no longer sings its song'. To this day, "the void's gift" has been synonymous with "hollow gesture".

Now, it was not so empty, but neither did it sing with its own life as worlds should. Instead, it was crawling with existence from countless other worlds.

Alundirel didn't care. No Eldar did. Bonifeth was a worthless lump of dead rock at the fringes of the Empire, and if it served a purpose, it was of no concern to the Eldar as a whole. The world was of no interest in and of itself.

What dwelt here now was far more pertinent.

The world's solitary, tiny webway gate was a hundred miles from any settlement, buried deep in a cave that was only just accessible from the surface. Alundirel had walked that distance, and was somewhat fatigued from the effort, but that was why he was here. His last journey, tracking down a ceremonial blade lost by a family on Lugganath, had taken him far from any Eldar-held territories, and he was running low on supplies. This was the closest trading settlement, and Alundirel needed to restock before he travelled the winding road back to Lugganath.

Few beings paid him any heed - few Eldar visited this place, but the sheer assortment of bizarre alien creatures surrounding him were used to seeing unusual things, and carried on with their business. Even the humans seemed uninterested, when they were normally so intolerant of even the smallest differences.

A nearby building roared, shrieked and chittered with activity, and the smell of various intoxicants was potent in the air around it. Alundirel had seen such places before on countless worlds and not a few craftworlds, and instantly recognised the signs of a communal den of vice... a tavern, drinking-hole or whatever other term was given to it at the time.

Alundirel brushed aside the curtain that served as a door, and allowed his eyes to adjust to the smoky gloom. The bar was manned by a single human, one quite plump and worn with age and the excesses of life, and pair of heavily-cloaked Vrekym crouched at the far end, dipping their mandibles in some pungent liquor. A few humans sat about a table at the far end, regaling each other with stories, but otherwise the room was empty.

"Excuse me..." Alundirel ventured.

"Can I help y- oh. We don't see many of your kind around here."

Alundirel smiled sadly "There are not many of us to see, and it has been aeons since we set foot upon this world in any numbers. And yes, you can help me."

The bartender set down the glass he was cleaning, and walked over as Alundirel sat on a stool.

"I am in need of supplies," Alundirel started, "I have a long journey ahead of me, and what I have remaining will not be sufficient."

"Supplies? You mean food and drink?"

"Precisely. A few flasks of water, some trail rations, and so forth. Nothing too scarce, I hope."

"I'll see what I can put together... assuming you can pay."

Ah yes... the human predilection for monetary compensation. Eldar trade needed nothing so crude as currency, but the humans apparently did. Alundirel had been caught out by the difference a few times before, but this time he was prepared.

"Payment will be generous." He pulled a pouch from his pack, and tipped the contents out onto the bar. "Sith Rionnasc. Star-jewels, 10% opacity, and will luminesce when exposed to certain forms of natural light."

There were forty-four star-jewels on the bar, and the bartender's eyes widened at the wealth they represented.

"That should be more than sufficient. Your pulse has quickened, and you are definitely appraising their worth." Alundirel leaned in closer and whispered, "Attempt to cheat me, and I'll rip your throat out, human. You will find my benevolence has its limits..."

"Of- of course... I'll see to this right- right away..." The bartender scooped up the jewels, and then nearly tripped over himself attempting to get away.

"I'd be wary of showing of such wealth, Eldar." Said one of the humans, who had approached during Alundirel's conversation with the bartender.

"I can more than adequately defend myself, human."

"I didn't mean to suggest otherwise... but skilled or not, people attempting to rob you can be inconvenient. Jequin Hos... I'm a Rogue Trader."

"I neither know the relevance of your path, nor do I care. Leave me be."

"I deal in commodities... explore the darkness beyond the edges of human space, trade for esoteric things of worth and bring them back to mankind. You have things of worth... or the potential to find them."

Alundirel turned to face Jequin. "Trade requires that you have something of value for me. I doubt that you do."

"You'd be surprised. My crew are unloading my last haul now. We found a good dozen or so artefacts from an abandoned Eldar world out in the Halos. I know your kind is always looking to reclaim lost treasures... so I'm willing to let you buy them... in exchange for some of those very valuable gemstones, before I put them up for auction tomorrow."

Alundirel rubbed his chin in thought, "Perhaps. I would have to see them. My past experiences with your kind have not exactly engendered trust."

"Of course."
Contributing Writer for many Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay books, including Black Crusade

Professional Games Designer.