I was stood in the darkness of the Maiden of Sorrow’s training hold, watching the dance of blades in the practice cages. Though there were many duels taking place, it the one in the one furthest to my left was the one that drew my attention. It was an honour duel between Young Blood and Sergeant Xho Zhen of Fifth Claw. Young Blood seemed to have the better of the duel, for Xho had only struck him once whereas Xho himself was bleeding from two wounds, a cut down his chest and punctures in his left shoulder where Corvis had caught him.
The chants of the gathered marines meant nothing to me; they were fools if they believed I would let this descend into a murder duel. Or if they thought this would end with Xho the victor.
Corvis was letting his anger drive him into the attack, letting fury and hatred cloud his mind. Still he was restraining himself, no doubt having seen me standing watching his fight. Corvis knew me, knew that if I even thought there was a risk of this turning into a murder duel I would step in and both would be humiliated. Corvis would be angry, but he had the brains to understand he couldn’t beat me. Xho was a different matter entirely. If I stepped in I might have to knock the fool out cold to make him halt. They could fight to Xho’s inevitable death after the campaign was over.
Xho was completely enraged by now and I heard his voice as he spat at Corvis. “I will break your spirit Young Blood.” I shook my head. Corvis’ spirit was long since hardened beyond whatever punishment Xho could meet out.
I spent the next minute watching the movements of the fight, studying the skills of the two of them and their weaknesses. Corvis had a tendency to extend his arm too far when he lunged with his claws, giving a fast opponent a split second opportunity to slice his muscle. That I wouldn’t tell him, I kept something back from all those I had taught except Xandrek, should I ever be forced to fight them myself. But I decided I would tell him the error that had let Xho slice his cheek, how he had become complacent after he first struck Xho. Telling him of that error would never hurt me, he wouldn’t have the ability to strike me.
“Well done Young Blood, but remember not to become complacent after you have drawn first blood. It is when he has been wounded that your foe is at his most dangerous for he will not underestimate you again as you learned today. You are lucky you dodged, Xho’s Chainsword would have split your collar bone as well as cutting your face had you not. Learn these lessons and eventually you’ll come away without a scratch from a fight such as this. Also, be wary of Xho. Before he joined us he was a murderer of the worst sort and I wouldn’t put it past him to jump you in a dark corner.”
Corvis gave his empty smile and acknowledged me with a nod as he spoke.
“Perceptive as ever Sword Master. Your Terran masters must have taught you well before the Night Haunter's gene-seed was gifted to you" he said. ""But you do not need to warn me about Xho. He is a fool who thinks his shadow greater than it is. Had you not been here this would have become a Murder Duel very quickly and 5th Claw would need a new sergeant. If Xho is foolish enough to try anything from the shadows, then the Corpse-Master will receive a fresh Astartes corpse to cut open.”
I left the training hall shaking my head in tiredness. Corvis was being foolish again, taking my advice as an insult.
“We need more mortals. They die too fast.” Zhasal’s voice came over the vox. My face twisted into a scowl. The arrogant fool thought himself an excellent warrior. He refused to fight any who were not among the Imperium’s finest Space Marines and he lost to all of them. He had even challenged Nykona Sharrowkyn, the finest Space Marine warrior in the galaxy, even greater than Captain Lucius of the Emperor’s Children. "I am on my way regardless, any news from the Captain?"
“No news from our Captain Zhasal and if you want more mortals, find them yourself. I have better things to do with my time than waste it on your pathetic amusement.”
I kept moving and on my way I saw Raskeria, my closest brother besides Xandrek himself. He was not even Terran, but I did not care. I preferred his company to Fundae’s who was from the same world as me. "Hail Raskreia, on your way to our lord?" I called to the Standard Bearer. Raskeria spun, then he smiled and leaned on the Standard. He waited till I reached him and gave me a moment to bow my head and give a fist-to-chest salute to the Standard. Raskeria then spoke, saying. "Hail Azrael, yes and judging by your own appearance and general attitude that is also where you yourself are heading correct? If I may, why do we not head to the bridge together?" After he had finished speaking he fidgeted with his helmet slightly.
I dismissed it and replied to his query. “It would be a pleasure brother.”
The Standard Bearer nodded in acceptance and motioned for me to take the lead. “Well brother let's not keep our Lord waiting. Though he does seem to be rather distant and tense as of late though. Maybe he has been hanging around the Young Blood to much recently or maybe even the Chaplain Jaekel and his sermonizing which I gather would put even the Word Bearers to shame.” Raskreia added with a slight laugh. We walked in silence for a while, during which time I thought of a reply. Raskeria was a step behind me, walking in that position. “He does indeed seem to be distant and tense, the destruction of Nostramo hit him harsher than most of us. And brother, there is no need to stay behind me, we are equals.” Raskeria smiled and stepped slightly faster
Raskeria pushed open the bridge door and we walked through. My eyes were drawn to Xandrek but as usual, I couldn’t ignore his sword that rested in a scabbard at his hip. She was a beautiful piece of workmanship. A bastard sword, one of the finest examples of a Paragon Blade I’d ever seen. It had his motto written in silver in Nostramon on the dark silver, almost black blade. The blade was double sided and straight, more than five foot long. The hilt was wrapped in black leather with silver thread. The guard was formed of the winged skull of Nostramo with wings themselves forming the cross bar. The pommel was a silver skull.
Xandrek himself was stood at the far end of the bridge in front of the view screens with his hands clasped behind his back under his black cloak. I could see the silhouette of his helmet’s dark iron crest of bat wings. As we approached his head turned to the right before returning to the screens “Captain, pleasure seeing you. Though I think that pleasure will be greatly diminished as the psyker Jallus is most likely on his way here” Raskeria said. I scowled for a moment as I heard Jallus’ name, the only member of the First Claw I wouldn’t give my life to save.
“Corvis has made another enemy and Zhasal wants more people to hunt, the disgusting animal. But enough of the troubles of the rest of the First Claw. How are you Xandrek?”
We stand upon the precipice of change. The world fears the inevitable plummet into the abyss. Watch for that moment - and when it comes, do not hesitate to leap. It is only when you fall that you learn whether you can fly.
The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.
Last edited by Santaire; 07-07-13 at 08:10 AM.