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Heresy-Online's Expeditious Stories 16-06: Art
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07-21-16, 12:27 AM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Young Aethelion had forgotten the meaning of time again, how its essence shifted around as if a lightning pace and then suddenly grinded to a jarring halt. In all of his three centuries, the eldar child had an undeniable problem with his almost alien concentration. When would his mother appear again to chastise him? To tell him that the lights in the sky were nothing more than bright stars, and that he could stare at them for an entire millennia and they would never change?
The night sky glimmered with innumerable bright stars painted across one russet nebula. If one searched the cloudless skies for Caedyia, the moon of Dragons, one would see her lost in the midst of a thousand falling stars. Faint, jagged trails of sapphire light lanced through the atmosphere with a cumbersome speed, toward the surface of Alaria’s Sorrow.
Aethelion perched himself on the highest hill that overlooked the River-Valley of Lureth. His voice quivered from a volatile mixture of fear and awe that, though on the outside he must have seen placid and melancholic to his friends. “The stars have changed again.”
Thurenni wrapped her arms around her knees and stuck her tongue out at him. Her colorful and elegant dress rustled in a harsh breeze, strands of her golden blonde hair flowing around her face.
Thurenni grinned. “Have you forgotten our teachings from Mentor Durindesh? Only the planets could possibly move, Aethelion.”
Yelin shrugged. He appeared a shadowy sort when garbed in nothing but ebony and grey, but Aethelion knew him as another kindred spirit. “Are you saying those are planets falling across the sky?”
“No!” Thurenni shook her head and sighed. “Foolish mon-keigh! Our warriors are up there, in space, fighting some grand skirmish! Those falling meteorites are the remains of spacecraft.”
“One day I shall become a helmsman.” Aethelion gestured toward the night sky. “My father approves, but says it requires great concentration. One day my name will be uttered amongst the finest admirals of the craftworlds.”
“That would suit you, Aethelion.” Thurenni teased. “You’re spaced so much of the time already, should not require much more effort. You would be giving worlds their own fire-works spectacle! A gift from the eldar race. I imagined you more as an artist to be honest. You can draw well.”
“Why not both?” Aethelion shrugged.
For a moment, a comfortable and undisturbed silence reigned between the three eldar children. Aethelion thought that the moment would last forever, until the sirens of Arnesha’s Light began their ceaseless wailing. As if in response to the echoing calls of the siren, the first explosions from spacecraft debris began to erupt across the river-valley.
Distant calls wafted up from the foundation of the hill.
“Aethelion! Thurenni! Yelin!”
“We should leave.” Thurenni said. “They’re calling for us.”
Quneth whispered soothingly from the gathered silks upon the couch. “Do you not have anything more pressing to do, Aethelion?”
“Shh!” Aethelion leaned gracefully from one side of the canvas and stared pointedly at Quneth, undressed in all of her beauty. “And do not lift a finger! None amongst my generals have alerted me to any pressing issues, so everything is going according to our strategy.”
strategy.” She sighed. “If I were nothing more than a civilian, and found myself in the midst of this battle, then now would be a graceful time to panic.”
“Is that not the thrill of battle? Are not the eldar gifted in their dispersal of death? What warrior from the Aspect Shrines would not revel in the fury of battle? Who would not relish the adrenaline pumping through their veins, that makes one feel fresh and alive? Victory is won through resolution, endurance, and valor; not through panic.
“Panicking is something the mon-keigh are prone to do. Light their nest on fire and they will scurry into the open in a swarm. Do the same to an eldar craftworld, and watch her citizens take up arms against you and fight to the last. But I digress, and apologize, I did not mean to sound so bleak.”
“Just tell me, Aethelion, which form of art do you prefer? That of the Swordwind or—” Quneth made a masterful flip off of the couch, the power blade on the dresser almost falling into her hand as she vaulted toward him.
Aethelion dodged the honed blade by sliding one foot in front of him and falling onto one knee. The painting that mirrored Quneth in so many ways was cleaved in twain from a lightning quick blow.
“Ah—such a shame,” Aethelion muttered. He allowed Quneth to make another swing and nick the side of his neck. Before she could retract the blade, he wrapped an arm around Quneth’s arm and pulled her into a tight embrace. “I had put many hours into that piece.’
Quneth continued as if she had not stopped talking. “I think I know the answer to that question. Come, show me that ingenious mind when it is put to task.”
“Tarianna, blinds open.” Aethelion spoke to the Light of Arnesha’s integrated artificial intelligence.
The shades reclined until a sweeping view of a void battle was revealed in almost its entirety. The Imperial world of Voltanus VII writhed in flames beneath the shattered fleet of the mon-keigh. All across the entire front, massive grand cruisers and battleships were retreating into the warp. They abandoned the remains of their allies to descend into Voltanus’ murky atmosphere and their entire world to death, Aethelion knew.
Aethelion whispered under his breath, so low that Quneth could not possibly hear him. “It is a beautiful gift, is it not, Thurenni? Far more beautiful than anything I could draw with these weary hands.”
No, he would not destroy Voltanus VII. The mon-keigh had obviously learned their lesson. Biel-Tan’s armada would withdraw and leave the humans to reflect on their foolishness. He would be chastised for his failings to cleanse the planet, but the seers would not dare deprive him of his fleet. He wondered if there was anyone down there enjoying that gruesome and bleak spectacle. Distant memories stirred in his mind of a friend long lost, and he desired to create this perfect scene once again.
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
-Glen Cook, The Black Company
Tales of Heroism and Bravery, in the 41st Millennium and the Old World. Perhaps some Realm Gate Wars in the future
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