“I do not envy the psyker… To know of events that will come to pass must be a terrible curse. Better that I never know how events will play out, at least then I might feel as if I had some say in the matter.”
-Excerpt from Inquisitor Andiron’s private journal
The declaration the Eldar had made was not, in and of itself, all that unusual. Being a psychically gifted race, many of the Eldar Lucian had encountered professed some measure of foreknowledge about events. Most of them, however, had made proclamations that were later proven wrong when measured against the tip of a blade or the business end of a bolter or plasma gun. What was disconcerting about the young girl’s declaration was that it seemed almost a comfort to her that he was there. The feeling of foreboding festering in the Inquisitor’s chest could not be ignored.
“What did you see in your dream?” Lucian asked her. The mystery surrounding her behavior demanded explanations, even if time was not his ally. If she had been granted some forewarning about his arrival and his purpose, it might spell disaster if he didn’t act carefully.
“I saw the coming of an Inquisitor,” the girl replied, “Though I did not know what you were at first. I had to ask several of the newcomers what your symbols meant.”
Lucian’s hand strayed reflexively to his Inquisitorial Rosette, his thoughts again fluttered to the possibilities of the mission being compromised. The Inquisitor let his hand fall to his side, his fingers grazing the pistol grip of his side arm to reassure himself that it was still where it ought to be.
“Did you tell them what you saw?” Lucian asked with a glint of impatience.
The Eldar girl cocked her head to the side as if she were suddenly confused, “I did not believe it to be for them to know the reasons. They were happy enough to provide the answers without them, even if they seemed unusually nervous.”
While the Inquisitor was slightly relieved, that didn’t eliminate his suspicious entirely. He had no way of knowing what kind of relationship the Eldar had with their human guests. For all he knew, the humans in the village might fall under the auspices of a slave labor group like some of the reports regarding other settlements have outlined.
“Why didn’t they need to know?” the Inquisitor asked, his voice becoming more heavily laden with emotions.
Again the girl’s countenance shifted slightly, “I did not wish to worry them. Not all of my dreams have come to pass, and I was unsure of whether this one would after time had passed and you were not forthcoming.”
If the Inquisitor had been confused before, everything he was hearing just made things all the more muddled and strange. She had shown prudence in the divulging of her vision and concern for the humans who had shared with her the meaning behind his symbols. Despite efforts to the contrary, Lucian was starting to doubt his accepted beliefs about the Eldar race. Such doubts did not sit well with him at all.
The Inquisitor looked around the small domicile and found a sturdy looking bench not far from where he was. Without thinking to ask, he settled onto it and began drumming his fingers rhythmically on the surface of the table that sat a few inches away. The Eldar girl seemed puzzled by his behavior, but not overly alarmed or put out by having him sitting at her table.
Lucian’s mind was rebelling against even the rhythm of the tapping as he tried to discern the meaning behind this strange development. He couldn’t focus… too many random possibilities consumed him and none of them made sense. He waged an internal war between everything he had ever been taught about the Xenos and what he was experiencing. No profound insights could be pulled from his memory; no words of reassurance could be recalled in all the years he had been an apprentice. Nothing made sense…
“Are you ill, Lucian?” the girl’s voice pierced the haze of confusion and shocked his mind into sharp focus.
“How do you know my name?” the Inquisitor demanded an answer as he slowly stood from the bench.
“I told you… I saw you in my dreams,” the girl replied, the earnestness in her voice doing much to compound Inquisitor Andiron’s confusion.
“Tell me everything about your dream, leave no detail out!” Lucian growled, reaching the limit of his patience.
The girl flinched at the forcefulness behind his request, though she did an admirable job keeping the shock from her face. Slowly, the Eldar moved to a chair near her bed and sat down. It took her a moment to start speaking, as if she were collecting thoughts that had not been needed for some time.
“In my dream, you came to our village under the cover of a moonless sky. You arrived to our village in the company of six others, though I could not make them out too clearly in my dream. You spoke of a mission, and of the Biel-Tan who seek what you have come to find. You wished to take what they sought, which would draw their eyes away from our village and bring us salvation,” the girl explained.
“But that isn’t what happened here today,” the Inquisitor countered, “I was alone when I found you. Your dream isn’t entirely accurate.”
“That may be true,” the girl relented, “But it was you I saw, and here you stand.”
Lucian had no argument for that. He was indeed standing in her home, which spoke well enough of her prediction even if the events had played out differently. It occurred to the Inquisitor that she might very well be a psyker in her own right. He’d seen dozens of accounts of Librarians and other sanctioned psykers making predictions and divining the outcome of many a battle or important event with vivid clarity. It stood to reason that the girl might well be similar, which presented him with a unique opportunity.
“Do you know where I might find what the Biel-Tan seek?” he asked.
“Yes,” the Eldar nodded, “And in my dream I took you to it.”
Yet another unforeseen obstacle presented itself. It was bad enough that he was stuck in the middle of a village full of Eldar, and now suddenly the girl sitting before him had just volunteered herself into his entourage. For a moment, Lucian thought pull his helmet off and slap himself to make sure that he was not in the middle of a dream of his own. The urge was fleeting and his helmet never left his head, but he did have a decision to make.
“How far is it from here? The place where this object lies?” the man inquired as he took a few steps toward her.
“Far enough,” was all the girl would say.
“You don’t seriously expect me to bring you along with me, do you?” the Inquisitor was more than a little perturbed at her sudden glibness.
“I have to take you there. If I do not, you shall never find it,” the Eldar declared firmly.
‘Wonderful…’ the Inquisitor bemoaned internally before finally letting out a sigh, “If that is what you truly wish, I won’t stop you. I won’t make any promises about your safety should the Biel-Tan Eldar find us.”
“I would not ask you to protect me. I can do that for myself,” the girl remarked, abandoning her chair to retrieve two daggers from within a small nightstand. The girl strapped them to the small leather belt that wrapped around her lithe frame. The Inquisitor half expected her to pull some hide armor or other protective garb from some closet, but the girl instead headed straight for the door. Before she reached it, however, she turned back to face the Inquisitor.
“Aeliel,” she stated.
“Pardon?” Inquisitor Andiron said, puzzled as to what that statement had meant.
“My name,” the Eldar clarified, “I am called Aeliel. Now you know what to say when you wish to get my attention.”
“I see,” Lucian remarked curtly. He wasn’t sure if he had even cared to know what she was called. For all he knew of this little adventure, she would only play a minor part in it and he would soon forget all about her and her odd behavior. That was his hope at least.
The Inquisitor followed Aeliel to the door, and watched as she eased the door open slightly to look outside. A few brisk turns of her head seemed to confirm the way clear, and she was out the door. Lucian left the safety of the domicile and closed the door behind him almost without thinking about it. In the brief span between her leaving and his own departure, the Eldar girl had managed to get nearly a dozen feet ahead of him. The Inquisitor grumbled to himself and hurried after her, hoping that she would lead them out of the compound without incident.
“Who is that Eldar you are chasing, Inquisitor?” the voice of Terenis asked suddenly.
“She’s coming with us. It seems she knows the way and is eager to take us there and have us get on our way,” the Inquisitor answered, making sure that he sent the message over the vox.
“Do you trust her?” Terenis asked in a tone of displeasure.
“I am an Inquisitor, Space Marine. It is not in my nature to trust anyone but the Emperor,” Lucian responded to the question without leaving any room for misinterpretation.
“Very well…” the Raven Guard Marine relented.
Aeliel lead the Inquisitor out of the small village by nearly the same route as he had entered, a detail that was not lost to him. By the time they made it away from the walls, the sun was starting to brighten the starlight sky in a haze of crimson. Terenis had abandoned his perch at about the same time the Inquisitor and his Eldar companion had made it out of the encampment, and was just approaching his brethren when Lucian and Aeliel arrived.
“What is the meaning of this, Inquisitor?” Sergeant Silinus demanded upon seeing the Xenos.
“She is to be our guide, Sergeant. And just to make things clear, she demanded I take her with us, I had no say in it,” Inquisitor Andiron enlightened the Raven Guard.
“And why would she help us?” Silinus asked, his helmet shifting to stare down at the Eldar girl.
“I came because that is what I am meant to do. It is no different for you, Death Angel,” Aeliel answered the Space Marine’s question.
Silinus balled his fist in anger at the presumptuous attitude of the Eldar. He had tolerated a great many things in his time, but never had he felt so slighted as to hear an alien speak of their role in a mission directed by the Emperor’s will. It took every drop of restraint he could muster to keep from ripping her heart out, and even then he couldn’t help but step forward menacingly.
“We don’t have time for this,” Lucian growled, “Our cover is receding quickly. Let us get moving, lest we have that entire village on our heels as well as the Biel-Tan Eldar.”
Silinus grunted indignantly and turned away, heading off toward the tree line that they had come from. The rest of his squad started to follow after him, giving Aeliel a wide berth as they did so. Lucian started to follow after them when the Eldar reached out to stop him.
“They are going the wrong way,” she said in a low voice.
Lucian turned to see her pointing in the direction of a cluster of large peaks intruding on the otherwise flat horizon. The trees the Raven Guard Astartes were headed for did not stretch in the direction she was indicating. The Inquisitor let out a long breath as he silently lamented the twists of fate that had culminated in him having to deal with angry Space Marines and a spoiled Eldar girl…