The cold light of the void bears no warmth for this wayward son
Whose flesh is re-forged in the celestial flames of an eternal hell
Cleansed in the kindling of false truths and the bleak reality that besets all of mankind
Forever shall I dwell where only darkness and damnation linger
O Cruel Gods
Sunder this prison that binds my soul
And I shall ride the storm like lightning
From these pried open gates on the edge of time
And forever shall I bear the crown of true heroes
Who will sing my name and wreath me in glory
O You who walk among eternity
Where our names shall perish from history forevermore
For truly, is all lost?
Is everything… dust?
If so, then I shall welcome the great inferno with open arms
And die a mere mortal once again, for the final time
Exalted Sorcerer Tyrioc found himself once again before the statue of Magnus the Red, sword sheathed into the alabaster marble floor and his knee bent before the shrine. A chill wind blew through the narrow and maze-like corridors of the Silver Tower. Where it came from, Tyrioc could name a thousand culprits, for the Oracle of Destiny was as much an organic, sentient creature as much as it was a ship. Another gust of wintry air made his white robes flutter and turned his breath into a fine mist.
The bridge of the Oracle of Destiny was incredibly silent in this moment. Scattered around the shadowy spheres that made the headquarters were the silent, vigilant shapes of Rubric Marines. Mortal crewmates and their servitor companions slaved away on a hundred cogitators and monitors beneath the ever-watching Sons of Magnus.
Tyrioc observed them even with his eyes concentrated on the void beyond the glassine panels of the bridge. Through his mind’s eye, he absorbed his surroundings, noting the limestone that encircled the admiral’s chair and dark iron grating that ran beneath everything else. He listened to the ancient banners of Prospero billow in an artificial breeze so cold, Tyrioc shuddered deep within himself.
He also noticed the entrance into the bridge slide open to allow a group of hulking terminators access. And these Thousand Sons elite were no average killing machines. Each was clad in daemonically corrupted and ancient Tartaros Pattern Dreadnought armor once common during the great crusade, Their legs seemed unusually long and their chest plates bulged around the torso, creating a shape reminiscent of a circular disc. Half of their helms were buried in studded gorgets and sunk deep into the armor.
Warriors of the Scarab Occult. Who once numbered among the greatest psychic warriors. Now they were reduced to dust-filled automatons.
“Exalted Sorcerer…” One of the Scarab Occult rumbled with a heavily distorted voice. An Aspiring Sorcerer then, Tyrioc knew from the snowy white robes that fell from his shoulders and the great staff in his hand. “Have you need of the Scarab Occult?”
“Quenthu,” Tyrioc sighed and finally stood. “You honor your primogenitor and me with your presence. And I see you come before me for knowledge. Should I ask you a question in turn?”
“Should you think it wise…” Quenthu paused, his muscles visibly freezing for a brief moment before he rapped his great staff along the floor. “Exalted Lord.”
“Answer me this one question, Quenthu.” Tyrioc’s sword arm hovered around the sword sheathed into the floor of the bridge. “Do you think me a mortal? Am I not… human? I have lived through much, and have endured the burden of many mistakes. Brothers have been lost needlessly. The Changer no longer favors my ambition, my legacy, my power. What other Lord of the Silver Towers could ever claim something such as this?”
Quenthu hesitated for a moment, realizing that much of the bridge was focused on them. “Does this concern the council of Sorcerers and their advice, lord?”
“Does that matter?” Tyrioc shrugged. “And if I said yes? Would you remain by your master’s side? Or would you challenge me for more power? To exploit yet another weakness in a champion of chaos. Honestly, sometimes I believe in that ridiculous Imperial Primer. That our kind are simply doomed to fail. You are my most trusted, Quenthu. So what say you?”
“Destroy them.” Quenthu nodded. “Murder those who have instilled this doubt in you, Anointed of Magnus. Listen not to their cowering. If I may speak honestly, I think you relied on your allies for too long. You have led us into battle and have brought us so close to absolute victory… if only you would reach out and seize it for once. I remember the Tyrioc who led us on Prospero, who would never bend until the bitter end.
“Damn the Dark Gods, this is a fight to regain our honor. A struggle for survival. Would you return to our Primarch in shame?”
“No, I would not. So you have spoken.” Tyrioc nodded, his expression bleak. “And it pleases me greatly that you would remain by my side.” Tyrioc gestured for Quenthu to join him by the bridge window. “I have a mission for you and the Scarab Occult.”
Quenthu slammed the bottom of his staff along the iron grating. “Speak and hear your wish fulfilled.”
Tyrioc indicated the planet rotating in the bottom corner of the viewport. “A message must be sent to the denizens of this barren back-water. And the intent and purpose must be clear. Tarmathon IV shall burn between my fingers. You remember Mirathir, yes?”
Even through his V.O.X., Quenthu’s voice soured. “A xeno, yes? Should she be exterminated?”
“Exterminated?” Tyrioc rolled the question off of his tongue. “No. But decimating her forces should be a promising start. I want her taken, secured, and brought onboard the Oracle of Destiny. Kill any of her daemonic pets, and wreak havoc on your way down.”
The Scarab Occult Sorcerer asked. “How heavily guarded is the objective?”
Tyrioc snapped his fingers and a hologram of a more detailed Tarmathon IV materialized in front of him. “One city in the middle of the Areteca Wastes. It pales in comparison to the Hive Cities of Tyrannus, but it is large enough to warrant a large taskforce. Mirathir no doubt dwells on the highest towers and palaces. Acquire what resources you require, but fall short of success and know you’ll have my eternal wrath.”
“And the other sorcerers?” Quenthu inquired.
“The Coven is ready for battle.” Tyrioc brushed aside the hologram and chuckled. “You need not know what I intend to do with them. Focus on bringing Mirathir to me in one piece.”
Quenthu nodded. “And so it shall be war.”
Tyrioc nodded and felt some measure of his old strength return. “And so it shall be war. This pathetic cult shall soon learn that all is dust…” He sucked in a long breath. “Slaves! Give me every image of Tarmathon IV available! And prepare for descent and orbital bombardment…”
~***~The Oracle of Destiny loomed above Tarmathon IV like a lost moon pulled into the gravity well. Tyrioc was certain that Mirathir was playing the patient game, uncertain as to whether the Thousand Sons were friend or foe. Soon, the planetary defenses would open fire, if he waited overlong, and the Silver Tower would become nothing more than glorified wreckage of an age long deceased.
And so the Thousand Sons would take the initiative, and announce their true allegiance to themselves. As Tyrioc handed down the order for the orbital bombardment to commence, hundreds of Rubric Marines and Tzaangor cultists were readying themselves for teleportation onto the surface.
Tyrioc remained in his admiral’s chair as the first scourge of life was fueled in the heart of the Oracle of Destiny. The vessel trembled and quaked as if it were going to annihilate itself rather than give in to Tyrioc’s demands. And then in an amazing brilliance, the orbital beam plummeted toward Tarmathon IV. The very clouds in the atmosphere parted and swirled around the outskirts of the incomprehensibly large discharge of atomizing energy.
When the orbital bombardment had descended onto the Onyx Redoubt, Tyrioc could only find a mushroom cloud of ashes and flames that spread across the surface like a virulent disease.
Six hundred thousand souls, lost in one fleeting moment. Now was the time to strike, and eliminate Mirathir’s misguided cult once and for all. The Thousand Sons were no one but the Great Changer’s pawns, and that was all they were to someone like Mirathir. A tool to be discarded. At long last, Tyrioc found some measure of retribution that he desired, but it would not be enough until Tarmathon IV was his and his enemies were put to the sword.