Sorry for being away for so long!
“No what? Are you telling me what I can and cannot do within my own hold?”
“You may do whatever you want in your hold. Just as the rest of us may banish fools and traitors. If you are so set on this, then do it on a Corsair raider. Or find a lenient craftworld. I do not care. But you cannot keep him here.”
“What would you have me do with the child, then?”
“I do not care.”
“If you do not care, why forbid me to raise him?”
“...You are being obstinate, Idryss.”
“You are being foolish, Korval”
“Get rid of the mon’keigh, Idryss. No, no, do not try my patience any longer. Dispose of the monstrosity, or leave us. That is the last I will say on this.”
The sun’s light was dying. Twisting trees, swaying in the wind cast their alien shadows across the grass. Autumnal chill nipped through the air. The wraithbone sling hung heavily across his shoulders, its occupant gurgling happily and tracing phantoms in the air with its thin fingers. Idryss Bel’Areth turned his back on his homeworld and ventured into the soul-devouring unknown. With a mutant mon’keigh infant strapped to his back. If the strangeness of the situation occurred to him, he didn’t show it.
The webway was not unknown to Idryss, but he had never spent so long within its eldritch confines. Days had passed, and even his capacious memory was losing track; one pearlescent path looking just like every other. The specter of being truly and utterly lost was beginning to creep up on him, even starting to eclipse the fear of depraved, soul-dead Corrmoraghite raiders. He sighed, and watched the infant toddle around on its unsteady, coltish legs. He hadn’t even decided on a name for the mon’keigh. And it would be a shame for such a strange little being to die without even being named.
The sky was red. Idryss shook his head. Of all the strange and grotesque things about this world, the red sky was probably the least disturbing, but it was the one thing he just could not get over. It just seemed abnormal, like everything had suddenly been bathed in blood; or moved into the middle of a vast, galaxy-wide bonfire. He sighed, told himself in the most imperious and demanding terms to forget it, and lay back on the rough dirt ground. After all, he ought to be thanking the dead gods that he had survived at all.
They had wandered the webway for what seemed like half a year, though Idryss had no way of measuring the passage of time accurately; his chronometer had simply ceased working after three sidereal weeks. Boredom was the main enemy. Idryss’ fears had been ill-founded. There had been no desperate chases that might have seen them almost captured by rangers; no near misses where only quick thinking and a psycho-reactive cloak gifted to him by a seer friend would have saved them from the flight of whooping savages who trailed skulls and strange alien viscera from the chains and wicked-looking blades adorning their jetbikes. No, it had been nothing but translucent tedium. Nothing but a never-ending slog with dwindling food supplies and ever-increasing delusionality.
Idryss had started inventing wild stories of all the heroic and wild adventures that he wasn’t having. As the days passed, he told these stories to the child out of the hope that doing so might take his own mind away from his empty stomach and dark thoughts. “Besides,” he had thought, “it couldn’t hurt to start teaching the child language." That is, assuming mon’keigh could even learn the Eldar tongue. For some reason, that idea never bothered Idryss too much.
Idryss sat up. Where was...oh good. Just a few hundred feet away, examining different rocks and plants. Relieved, Idryss lay back down, arms folded beneath his head for a pillow. The child had already grown an alarming amount, and had begun wandering off at odd moments. He was not speaking yet, but was quite steady on his feet and exhibited a precocious curiosity that had Idryss constantly on alert. Frustratingly, the child had a stubborn streak that grew apace with the rest of him, and Idryss had a sneaking suspicion that the reason the child had not spoken yet had more to do with his willfullness than average baby ignorance.
This was all suspicious, almost alarming. Common sense told him that mon’keigh should not mature this quickly. Even if he assumed that they grew more rapidly than Eldar did - how should he know how xenos did their breeding?!? - this was entirely unnatural. But the same feeling that drew Idryss to the child told him that he oughtn’t bother himself too much. Perhaps in a few days, once the shock of near-starvation and the stress of their webway sojourn wore off he would name the child and get down to business with a proper education. Maybe he would teach him some riddles. Or a ball-game. Of course, that supposed he could somehow fashion a ball...
Idryss slept peacefully on the red dirt, beneath the red sky. Which was a shame, because he never got to see the fleet of swift shadows blacken the sky, or hear the mon’keigh-child’s first lilting, laughing words:
“Time to fly!”
Last edited by Taliesin; 10-21-11 at 06:55 PM.