The Splintered House
Word Count: 1096
The ruins of House Felendial was a maze of half collapsed wraithbone, charred and molten from an unpredicted orbital strike. The tattered remnants that remained standing glittered in Buriel’s ethereal light, reflecting on the silver and porcelain surfaces that once comprised a palace worthy of sagas. Lriean Tarithinon observed the dilapidated estate from the shadows of the dense forest, just beyond the perimeter wall, which had been crushed in dozens of places. His limbs involuntarily twitched, his teeth imperceptibly chattering as he felt the temperature plummet with the vanishing of the sun.
Lriean checked his outfit of ebony and crimson imperial fatigues, made subtle adjustments, and checked his ammunition and las pistol for the umpteenth time. He managed to smile with some enthusiasm and elbowed the tall Amazonian eldar beside him. He heard an impatient grunt, a small curse, before a shadowy figure leaned into the light of the moon.
Howling Banshee Taryi was nearly invisible in the dense foliage of the forest, but Lriean caught a glimpse of her polished beige armor, her emerald tabard, her sharp and angular features, and long, curly auburn hair. She lowered her primitive set of binoculars and sighed quietly, her large jade eyes still absorbing every facet of the fallen house in calculating assessment.
Taryi spared Lriean a single glance, then went back to her spying. “Mae informed us that there are hundreds of ruins like these on Durin’s surface. We are certain that this is the ruins of House Felendial?”
Lriean allowed himself a quiet chuckle. “There can only be so many destroyed sights this grand so far from a burgeoning city. Plus, the presence of these…” There was a distinct warbling noise and the sounds of something flaring to life. A small obsidian ship painted with crimson accents hurtled itself into the sky from the ruined House Felendial. Lriean pointed toward it wide eyes. “Imperials. No doubt that ship left a number of them behind in this sacred place.”
Now it was Taryi’s turn to chuckle with an unpleasant snarl. “”Then let us be rid of these vermin, eh, Lriean?”
“Indeed.” Lriean pressed two fingers onto his comm.—link. “Qunalan, the Alpha Wolves are ready to hunt. Guide us in.”
A crystal clear voice of a brooding, baritone nature responded. “Then let us proceed. There are a dozen gaps in the perimeter fortifications on your side, but be warned, the Imperials are guarding them with automated Servitors and turrets. It’s best to climb over the intact sections, I do not spot anything keeping an eye on them.”
“Lriean,” Taryi darted from the shadows and into the moonlight, but still managed to appear as an apparition as she glided toward the nearest standing portion of the wall, some mere meters away. “Let us attack.”
Lriean swiftly rushed after his companion, whom was already deploying a grappling drone to the highest peak of the wall. The insect like A.I. quickly floated upward toward the battlements, a lengthy rope attached into its feed and proceeded to attach itself to the edge. Taryi gave a good pull of the rope and then set about climbing. Lriean followed her up, his eyes locked upon the polearm slung over Taryi’s shoulder. The power weapon possessed a wicked long blade on one end that pointed ever downward as they ascended the wall. He blocked out images of the Executioner coming loose and skewering him.
“Come on.” Taryi vanished over the lip of the wall and reappeared a moment later, her hand extended to grip Lriean by the wrist. With a powerful tug that belied her frame, she pulled Lriean onto the battlements with one arm.
Qunalan’s voice followed their progress. “There are three sentries and one automated turret below you some ways to the right. Eliminate them.”
Lriean pulled an alien projectile from his grenade belt. “I’ve got something just for the occasion. It’s a Tau E.M.P. Taryi, when I throw this grenade, wait until it goes off and then strike.”
Lriean looked out from the wall’s edge and certainly enough, three stagnant servitors surrounded an autocannon turret, staring through a breach in the wall. He quickly pressed a trigger on the grenade, heard an affirming sound, and threw the grenade into the midst of the servitors. The resultant explosion enveloped his victims in a brilliant cyan light. The turret wound down and the servitors convulsed with random machine code speech.
Taryi took the rope from the grappling drone and slid down the wall toward her enemies. She glided across the wall with her feet, drew her polearm and activated the power field, and then leapt into her enemies. The Executioner flashed before her feet hit the garden floor. The head of a servitor clattered to the ground. Another human machine threw a sporadic pincer limb in her direction. Taryi ducked beneath the blow and executed an arced swing that tore through the belly of her attacker and sheared both upper limbs from the third foe. The servitor with the belly wound exploded with crackling flames and the last remaining simply returned into a dormant state with no weapons to use.
Lriean slipped down the wall to join his companion, then the pair were stalking the ruined paths through House Felendial. They occasionally encountered the unsuspecting Imperial Guard patrol or more servitors. Qunalan made distractions with his reaper launcher, while Lriean sniped away with a silenced las-pistol, and Taryi leapt into the backs of her foes with the executioner.
“Come on,” Lriean pressed as they neared the entrance into the Felendial Estate. “The artifact is near!”
An abrupt voice stopped them in their tracks. “And what are we searching for, I wonder?” The man behind them was dressed in the armor of an Inquisitor, but an Inquisitor he seemed anything but. An apprentice then. “Are you looking for this?” The man held up a devilish looking box, marked in commorrite runes to warn anyone idiotic enough to open it. “In this lies the souls of three greater demons. Amazing what you eldar believe you can get away with studying.” The Acolyte whistled. An escort of four dozen guardsmen emerged from their hiding places. “Arrest them. Take them to the Inquisitor’s stronghold. No doubt he will have questions for these… artifact liberators… though thieves is a stronger and more accurate term.”
Lriean fumed, forced onto his knees. “If you think you can use them for your own gain, know that you are too primitive and weak, mon-keigh.”
“Emperor shield us from the unholy, both demonic and alien. Take them away!”