“Coeus, with me.” from his reference, I assumed he was more frustrated with Lucian than Iapetus. Iapetus had proposed working with the 3rd, he just wanted control over a boarding action. Something my brother was known best for. It was Lucian who had dismissed his company entirely. Now that the Warsmith was gone, Lucian could not hide behind him and would have to confront Iapetus and Lugerev directly, something I sincerely hoped ended in blood.
Pelegon bade me to report what I had found. I started with my own subordinate.
“My judgement of Librarian Bronsk is thus; he is tempted but he is not tainted. One of the inherent risks of being a psyker is we must endure the constant whispers of the warp and its promises of power. A particular entity has plagued him for some time now, and the tomes he was found with were, as he protested, for combatting a foe. However, such single-mindedness does not befit someone of his rank. His vision must be broader, or else he risks falling prey to some unknown foe. As such, I have demoted him to the rank of Lexicanum and placed him under the supervision of Librarian Kolvax until such a time as he has dealt with this vendetta.”
My tone was calm and collected. I did not believe there was anything to alarm the Warsmith in this minor infraction and I did not need him becoming overly interested in areas which did not concern him. Bronsk tomes would of course be scoured for weapons to use against our daemonic foes, but exactly how that was done was a process Pelegon deliberately avoided knowing about. Likely he feared that the truth of how such weapons were obtained would displease him and for him to reconsider using them, despite their necessity. He was right, how such information was obtained would likely chill him to the bone, but he had thus far avoided knowledge of it. I imagined he would continue to do so, as long as it proved useful.
Moving on from my brief analysis of the warrior in my care, I spoke of Brother Rorke. “The Gorgon’s man, Rorke, however is quite a different story. As expected, his wounds were a blessing from the Plague Father and had to be purged with fire before I could let the serfs dispose of the remains, lest they become infected too. My chief concern is that it is likely others members of the Company are infected or actively spreading such a contagion. I think it best if the Librarium conduct a full inquiry of the 2nd Company and eliminate any further fanaticism from the Mechanized Fist.”
We had reached the outer walls of the Eisenschloss. Pelegon was inspecting his hands, apparently fascinated by them. I considered trying to breach his mental barriers to hear his thoughts. Leaving the Warsmith to his own thoughts, I cast my mind over the recruits slaving away under the false sun that hung over Medrengard. My eyes flitted between them. Mostly, it was fascinating to hear their thoughts. Such young ambition and determination. It was a shame so many of them would be forcefully infected with the gene-seed of a less worthy legion. One boy in particular I felt a kindred spirit in. I mentally noted him. I would have to call for him after I was done here.
“Your findings…” Pelegon rumbled, apparently having stopped considering his own hands. “…do not cause undue concern. Nor do I view Captain Kunzhardt as unreliable or potentially corrupt. You don't need to play games with me, Coeus, I know you don't like him because of his bloodline. But none of the positions of the senior commanders is fixed…” The warsmith was threatening me. How quaint. “…were there anyone better than Kunzhardt, they would already have his title and command.” I was certain I could find an Olympian who could do the half-breed’s job just as well, if not better.
Pelegon was a man most feared. He was strong, driven, methodical. He was most things you would want in a leader. Many, especially the lower ranks held him up as an object of fear and adoration. He expected his word to be obeyed without question and was not one to suffer fools. The tyrannical warsmith was known for many horrible and cruel deeds within the warp and the Imperium. None of that stopped me grinning and chuckling to myself.
“You can dispense with the threats Warsmith. The worst you can do is kill me.” I risked my soul as well as my body to keep this Grand Company pure and Pelegon thought he could intimidate me with demotion and death. Spoken exactly like someone who had never seen the true face of power.
Pelegon asked me if any of the initiates caught my eye. “Well, my esteemed Warsmith, I figured you might be able to tell me which of them I should be looking at, since you are more adept at spotting the Warp’s influence than I am.” My voice dripped with sarcasm and Pelegon’s anger burnt through his mental block like a solar flare. I was sure he was about to berate me for my insolence but I started talking before he could. “A Nurglite plague is a sickness of the soul, not a malediction of the body. If one of his men is afflicted, then it is likely there are others with rusted souls too. Men who would rise up and pollute this Grand Company.”
I turned my head to face the Warsmith, defiant even though his stature meant I could not look down at him. “You appointed me as Chief Librarian to safe guard the purity of this Grand Company because I can sense the warp’s influence more keenly than anyone else in your service. I intend to do just that.” Pelegon’s rage still simmered. I was probably on shaky ground, but I had been in more precarious positions before. “I didn’t ask for Kunzhardt’s head, and such an inference says more about your paranoia than my ideology. I simply asked for the Librarium to investigate his company and uncover any taint where ever it hides.”
I looked back over the recruits, my face the same furrowed near snarl that it almost always was. “If there is nothing there, at least we will confirm that. And if there is, then you will know that those who would sacrifice us on their alters to their gods will trouble us no longer.” Pelegon might still be fuming at my disregard for his authority, but that was his problem not mine. Even if Kunzhardt wasn’t a mongrel, it would be foolish not to verify that the taint hadn’t spread further than one man. If Pelegon still protected his 2nd Captain, they the Grand Company would learn that their Warsmith would rather protect his chaos-worshiping half-breeds than execute sound leadership. Worse still, if there was a taint to be uncovered and Pelegon hid it unknowingly he would find everything he loved ripped from him by the Dark Gods. I wouldn’t hesitate to burn it all to the ground, if it meant I could purge the tainted from our midst…