The killer made his way through the mountain pass, the snow wolves trotted along by his side. It had been easy to bend their loyalty to him and they had feasted on the steaming carcass’s that had been their former masters. Now they were truly his to command, he stopped as he exited the valley and surveyed the area around him with eyesight that was far more acute then any normal human but then he was far from human. He perched on a rock ledge and slowly his mind cleared of the fog that had shielded it for so long. The last thing he remembered was falling through the air and landing on this rock.
His enhanced genealogy had sent his body into the healing sleep but he supposed with the cold it had merely frozen him into full sleep and now he had come to awakened state with a hunger that he had not felt since his battle with his enemies. He patted the head of the largest of the wolves and the creature seemed to be pleased with the attention of its new master. He would need to hunt again soon not just him but the beast that he shared his body with, that was a hunger that was never sated and when he could find a way off this forsaken rock then he would finally have his revenge, against the one who had left him to die. He got to his feet and letting the snow wolves lead the way he made his way back along the migration trail with murder in his heart.
The Village was nothing special. A few huts scattered around a big hall. The Killer knew what this was, just like the ancient halls on Terra of the Nordfrick peoples lands of ancient times the hall of the Chieftain and his family and his warriors. Set around the river that flowed through it the villagers had a clean and ample water supply. There were the children of the populace playing without a care in the world and like there was time for nothing else except play and fun. How typical of these humans, had they grown up on holy Colchis they would have known a different life, a life of piety and prayer and a life of devotion to the gods. He allowed his memories to rush up and envelope him, trying to find comfort in them. He had been a young boy when Lorgar had shown them the true ways of Colchis, he had fought alongside him and Erebus and Kor Phaeron when the Urizen had stormed the Covenant and killed all the monks within ending the Holy War that had enveloped their world for six long years.
When the Emperor came he had embraced the vision after all this was the god that Lorgar had spoken off. His arrival had vindicated the Urizens words and that was good enough for the inner circle. No what did these young know of hardships and duty. His actions would be a blessing to them to end their lives so that they go to a place where the true gods exist and not the god that they would be forced to follow if they allowed their pathetic beliefs to come to fruition. He was aware that the warriors halls would be where the populace would sit with their chief and discuss the coming day only this day their chief would not be coming back he had killed him. He scanned the area for any threats but what warriors they had would not be able to defeat one such as him.
He saw the warriors milling around the village, arms round women, drinking from their flagons and armed with bows, swords and axes. He supposed they would be effective against rival tribes but they would not be any use against him. Nothing would and he almost felt sorry for them, almost but not quite. The beast within began to raise its ugly head but he quelled it with a vicious command. He would decide when to let the demon rise and not before. He commanded it not the other way round. He would wait for nightfall and then he would lay waste to all that was within that human infested fleapit. He would need the sustenance and the strength if he were to find his long lost brothers. He settled down to watch the village and await the setting sun. It was going to be the last time any of them saw the sun and he was gracious enough to allow them that luxury.
The warriors of the Host waited as they had been doing for the last two days. They would be in Imperial space in a few more days but they were not waiting for that, they were waiting for their leader and they did so without making a sound. Tor Panarl stayed at the front but one-step lower than the top. His face handsome and cold was set in stone and woe betide any who moved. If it was going to be a few more hours or a few more days then so be it no one would move from their place or step out of line, to do so invited a punishment that they would not like very much. His Anointed ringed the raised dais, as their standing dictated, the best warriors of the Host and the personal guard of the Dark Apostle. He was lost in his own thoughts, his master had been perplexed when he had brought the message from the Choir and for the briefest of moments, and he thought he saw true fear in the eyes of the Dark Apostle at the mention of that planet but he had dispelled that thought. The only thing that his master feared was a bad judgment from the dark council that would condemn his soul to an eternity of torment at the hands of the dark gods and that was enough to unnerve even the most stoic of warriors.
Eventually the doors opened and the Icon Bearer Andarl entered leading the honour guard who surrounded the black armoured master of the 47th Host. Every warrior moved to one knee and bowed their heads. Mar Felan looked resplendent in his black armour with his Accursed Crozius beside in his right hand. At his left side sat the demon sword Ar’can’tha a prize that he had taken when he had killed a warrior of the Alpha Legion and the demon within had acquiesced to his will. His holy Bolter was carried by a young novitiate his eyes cast down. The Bolter was a work of art the muzzle a serpent’s head that writhed with arcane power of its own. Its holy blessed ammunition immolating all who felt its touch and had been a gift from the former Dark Apostle. Mar Felan was indeed a blessed individual for there had been many a time that Dark Acolytes had designs of grandeurs of their own against their masters but Mar Felan was a loyal Acolyte and he had learnt much from his blessed master. Tor Panarl followed suit and waited as his master ascended to his proper place. Mar Felan nodded once to his Coryphaeus and the war commander barked an order that had the Host standing to attention once more. He turned to face his men as the Icon Bearer took his place to the left of the War Commander and one-step lower. To stand on the same level, as the Coryphaeus would instigate they were equals, whilst the Icon Bearer held a position of authority they most certainly were not equals.
“My Sons” the Dark Apostle laid the book of Lorgar on his podium and moved round “Stand easy” The host moved as one “Now, we are to travel to the world of Pratis Majoris and there we are to recover a brother who was lost to us. Do not be fooled into thinking that he will be an easy quarry to catch for he will not and once we have him here we are to transport him to Sicarus itself where he will be – looked after by the Dark Council and our blessed Primarch, in his name be”
“In his name be” The Host murmured.
“Nothing is to stand in the way of the safe recovery of the lost brother and if the accursed lackeys of the false god come to stop us then we will deal with them as must always be done, in his name be it”
“In his name be it”
Jubal raised his eyes upwards to see a swirling mass of Cherubim flying round the hall. It struck him that if he had seen them in his human life then he would have thought they were small cute angels of the gods, in reality though they were far from cute. They moved out the room and returned as his master concluded his talk with a couple of screaming women between them taken from the slave holds and brought here especially for this moment.
“Let the gods dictate to us how this will be” Mar Felan raised his accursed Crozius in the direction of the Cherubim and lowered it.
The Women stopped their screaming, as the cute little childlike faces seemed to hypnotize them. They swayed a little in a certain rhythm and the women began to sway at the same time. When they were certain their spell was working their faces altered and gone was the angelic faces in their places were faces of such horror that it would have plagued children’s nightmares for all eternity. Razor sharp teeth emitted from their mouths, delicate fingers turned into razor sharp claws they tore the faces off the women and then all of them set about the bodies showering blood and guts onto the assembled warriors.
“The Gods will bless this holy mission brothers, let’s not disappoint them”
The roar of affirmation from the host was loud enough to drown out the sucking of bone marrow from the demonic cherubim. The war commander dismissed the host save his four captains and their sergeants when the door was closed the Dark Apostle bid them all to follow him. Jubal fell into line behind the Icon Bearer and wondered why his master wanted him and the other sergeants as well as his captains. Silence sat around the Dark Apostles stratagem as they waited for their master to speak. He sat himself in his throne of skull, made from the remains of a Tyranid that he had personally killed on Dagmar Six four centuries ago.
He set his Crozius on his knee and looked at his Captains. Aside from Tor Panarl, there was Garakan the captain of the Possessed. He had been with the Host since its inception and when it came to infiltration there was none better. His features like all Word Bearers pale and noble but a criss cross of scars that lined his face showed his centuries of warfare and he wore his marks like badges of honour. He was not as heavily built as his brother captains were but his strength was his spirit and there was none more devout to the teachings of Lorgar within his inner circle.
Beside him stood Captain Rar Kane captain of the assault squad, his face set in stone and he never smiled not even in the camaraderie of his squad. He was a well-built man that had the utter devotion his assault squad and who’s cries to the great gods always brought him great victories and honour to not only his squad but to the Dark Apostle himself.
Then there was Captain Sadrocos, a giant of a man with hands like shovels and who took the lives of his foes with his bare hands. The Commander of the Berserkers he had the utmost loyalty of his squad and those that failed him were more than happy to send their skull to the skull throne. His dark eyes were always brimming with self-restrained fury and his body seemed to quiver with it two giant tusks came from either side of his jaw and Mar Felan was in no doubt how much blood he had shed in the name of the dark gods.
Finally, there was Elarka Marchan the Captain of the Tactical Squad, a noble handsome man who was not as big as Sadrocos but bigger than Garakan. He had been at the Siege of Terra, he had witnessed the Warmonger, and his cadres assault the walls with honour. His left hand ended in a large lobster claw a gift from the gods when his own hand was lost to a Thousand Sons automaton son.
He cast his eyes over his sergeants, all standing just to the left of their Captains. Sergeant Harkan was Marchans trusted right hand man and the two shared a fellowship that went back to the training halls of Colchis. He was a giant of a man and a single horn sprouted from the middle of his forehead like the unicorns of myth.
Sergeant Jassia was Sadrocos’s right hand man and like his master, his sheer force of will tempered his self-contained fury. When the time was right, he would unleash the berserker in him and lay waste to all his enemies. He had come from the demon world Galtos and had beaten all his rivals to become a Word Bearer, that had been some thousand years ago and he had been Sadrocos’s favoured warrior since the battle of Henthax where they fought the Angels Sanguine and had taken the head of their captain as a prize, the skull of which he had personally gifted to the Blood God.
Then there was Sergeant Jarka recently elevated to the spot of favoured by Garakan when he took the head of the Ultramarines Chaplin Arcaseus in a battle on Fords Creek. His demon was happy to share the body of the sergeant as long as he was given plenty of blood in the battles that they encountered.
Finally, there was Jubal. He was relatively young in the service next to these men but he had risen to prominence in the Anointed and Tor Panarl trusted his sergeant. He was a favoured of the highest echelons in the Word Bearers, the Primarch himself knew him, and that in itself was an honour. His battle strategy was similar to that of Kor Phaerons Coryphaeus but then again that was to be expected and he had a knack of seeing things that occasionally Tor Panarl missed and whilst he never embarrassed his captain, he would discreetly point it out in private. He believed that when the time came for his Coryphaeus joined the Gods and their blessed Primarch then Jubal would be the next one in line.
Next to Jubal were the Icon Bearer and Commander of the Honour Guard. Andarl had been the Icon Bearer for over six thousand years when the previous Icon Bearer tried to usurp the power of Mar Felans master. A tall proud well-built man who’s eyes sparkled with the knowledge of the Epistles of Lorgar it was known that he was ambitious but not to the point of recklessness and besides Mar Felan did not mind competition in the ranks, it kept the strong and weeded the weak.
“We are to get Balthazar,” He announced quite suddenly and all his captains and two of his sergeants’ faces darkened at the mention of the name.
Jubal looked around him taking in the darkened expressions and bowed his head respectfully “Forgive me Lord, who is Balthazar?”
Andarl’s lip curled in a sneer at the unprecedented break in protocol but a sharp look from the War Commander made his face straighten once more. It was obvious that Jubal was in favour and he stored that nugget of information.
“You are young Jubal and you will not know the name.” Mar Felan rose from his seat “Balthazar was once a great warrior, one of the first to be Possessed and one of the favoured of our blessed Primarch.”
“Glory to his name” The warriors murmured.
“Indeed.” The Dark Apostle moved round to the front of the table and stood before his warriors. “He had been amongst the chosen men who had accompanied our beloved father when he broke the heretics on Colchis and had served as one of his inner circle although he was not as favoured as the Black Cardinal himself or Holy Erebus but he was still one of the best of the Legion and had command of the 8th Company. He would also follow Lorgars word to the letter and never doubt his master. When the Lodges came, into our Legion, he was the first to sign up and became our Lodge master and during the siege of Terra, his devout piety brought him the greatest reward. He became one of the first possessed.”
The Dark Apostle drew in a heavy breath for a moment almost as if he were dealing with a personal slight against his honour and then he continued
“After Angle-Tal that is, and when we were driven from Terra and into the Warp he started mutterings that perhaps our Lord was weak and was not as he thought the favoured son of Chaos, talk which was deemed heretic and blasphemous but he had the blessings of the gods so many could not move against him without fear of reprisals from the gods plus his host was one of the most feared, made up entirely of possessed warriors including their Dark Apostle. He was sent further afield where it was deemed that his ravings could not harm our Lord but that was not far enough and shortly before Lorgars Ascension he tried to move against our father and usurp his power. He failed but I was sent along with our host to teach him a lesson and we hounded them to the world of Pratis Majoris where we battled them in space. His vessel Demonicus Ascendant was destroyed and all among them and we believed that he had died with it but it seems that he has survived and if this is the case then we are ordered to bring him back to Sicarus dead or alive.”
“Surely Lord,” Garakan spoke “It would be better to kill him, such a man would not have lost his thirst for power and if he is still alive then he would be attempting to do what he failed to do and that would make him more dangerous”
“That is true Kalneth” Mar Felan nodded in agreement “but I know him, I know him better than any man here and he needs to accumulate his power before he will attack and that is why I want 6 men of each of your companies only. The strongest in faith and devotion only that that cannot be corrupted by such power and who’s loyalty to our father is not in doubt.”
“As you will it My Lord” Garakan bowed his head
“Chose your men and have them ready for when we reach this world. I want this dealt with before the dead Emperors Lap dogs get to hear about it.” His captains left except his Coryphaeus and Jubal who remained at the request of the Dark Apostle. “Jubal I have seen your power many times I want you to spend your time in prayer and pray to the gods that they will make it strong enough to defeat this heretic”
“As you wish my lord”
The Dark Apostle turned to his Coryphaeus and told him to have a battle plan drawn up and ready and to use the old texts on the world as reference. When they left him, he turned to the window and watched the warp rush by. He closed his eyes and steadied his beating hearts. It had been a long time since he last heard the name of Balthazar and he had hoped never to hear it again.