Adrian: Inquisitor Repentant
Something is in the darkness. I cannot see it, but I can feel it, sense it and hear it slithering all about, stalking me, watching me and drawing close to me. I am scared, but my fear will not cripple me. It hunts for me. I am sure it can see me. I am sure that if it truly wanted me dead that it could take me at any moment of its choosing. – Inquisitor Rafial Praag M41.267
In the darkest time of night when things grow from shadows and dreams into realities born, that stalk through the halls and run along the walls in search of the scent of fear left behind by those who run and cower into corners of no escape. These things laugh in their darkened souls as they draw near to the terrified host that they shall soon possess. They stalk about in the blackest shades with lifeless eyes and the coldest of hearts smiling through fanged and jagged teeth as oily dark as the darkest screams.
In the moonless night they see him turn not knowing which way to go. But he must run, of that he is sure, but he knows not where to go to escape the hunter’s snare. They can smell his sweat and fear. They can hear his blood-filled heart pumping harshly in his chest. He stumbles and falls but gets up quickly. They can smell the fresh blood from a skinned knee and a sliced thumb as it drips in zigzag lines along the street.
The man runs into the light cast by a business sign and stops. The shadowed things swirl all about knowing that he cannot stay there forever. He can see them moving blacker then the blackest darkness than he has ever known. He trembles and nearly falls from the weakness in his limbs. He can hear the claws of the daemons scratch the plas-steel walls and gouge their way through hardened sidewalks and streets taking purchase as they plan their continued hunt.
‘Get away from me for the Emperor is with me!’ he shouts. Terror and faithlessness fill his words and therefore have no effect against the daemon things. They understand faith and strength. They understand power and faithfulness. They also understand fear and shame, guilt and self loathing. They feast upon those things and grab onto them as a leach grabs onto flesh and drains the blood.
The man trembles and weeps for he knows his sins have found him out. He screams in the illumination cast by the business lights. Falling to his knees he bows his head and begins to pray. It is the only thing he has left. It is the only thing he can do. If he cannot make things right they will take his soul. Terror and torments for all eternity await him if he cannot repent. They claw the ground and begin to speak to him as he prays. They speak directly into his mind and his ears begin to bleed.
‘You forsook him long ago and now you expect him to take you back into his good graces? You denied him many times and when given the chance to change your ways you did not do it. You are ours to feast upon. This light will soon go out. Look! It begins to blink as its life ebbs away.’
The man weeps for he knows their words are true. He keeps his eyes closed and tries to calm himself, but it has been so long since his last communion; too long since his last confession. It has been too long since his last true emotion and act of contrition. But he knows he must continue for he cannot escape the judgment to come. ‘Mercy!’ he cries aloud. ‘Forgive me of my many sins.’ he begs.
‘You are ours and we will consume your soul and feast upon your flesh. The light is almost out and we will tear you apart in the darkness of your night.’
‘I have betrayed your trust and shamed your name. I have killed the innocent and cheated the poor. I have bared false witness and imprisoned the guiltless in order to advance my own agenda. I am guilty. Forgive me please.’ As the man prayed he found that he was no longer doing it out of fear but out of true remorse, true shame and emotion from a conscience he had lost long ago. He found that his intentions were no longer to escape judgment but to only be close to his Emperor once again. He knew that as an Inquisitor he had failed in his true purpose; to protect the weak and defend those who could not fight for themselves.
Inquisitor Rafial Praag opened his eyes. Though the shadows were deep and black and swirling with hate he found that he was no longer tormented by the thoughts of things to come, but was at peace with himself for the first time in years. He knew that once more he was not alone but was whole again in the presence of the Emperor of mankind.
The daemons faltered as the man’s faith grew. They hesitated as they saw that his sorrow and repentance was genuine. The light blinked its final time and they took their chance. A flash of light from a sword unused in righteous fury for many years flashed like lightning from the clouds and severed one of the daemons in two. Blood as black as sin splashed against the walls. Another nightmare creature was torn apart by the man’s shout of faith from repentant lips.
Thousands more, maybe millions more charged from the shadows but Praag did not fear. He knew he was forgiven and his many sins forgotten. The Emperor’s mercy would not be wasted on him. With growing passion and assurance he fought and swung his sword of light. He fought until the first light of morning broke the daemon’s back and forced them to retreat.
Wounded, bleeding, beaten and bruised Inquisitor Rafial Praag allowed himself to fall to his knees. There he stayed until the people began to stir from their residences, assured the violence had ended.
Praag had been a tyrant to many of the people that now surrounded him. Hundreds had gathered and he could feel their hatred of him. Slowly he stood and put his sword away. ‘My loyalty has been tested and I have been found wanting. I am ashamed of this and I will make things right.’
In full view of the people he bowed his head and prayed.