Bractus' Blood Tooth
The aethyr stirred. It did that often when the warband gathered, as if responding to the presence of so many wills of strength collected in the same place. Sehkt allowed the currents to flow through his mind and body, his soulsight taking in the entire room; the sights, scents and sensations of their very essences were clear to him. Each member of this motley association of the lost, the forgotten and the damned... tasted differently, for want for a more appropriate word that wasn't empyreal, and thus extremely dangerous, in origin. Sekht had formed his opinions of them long ago, the instinctive ability to weight a person's worth was a boyhood talent of his that served him well even now so many millennia and so many stars away from the corpse-orb that his home had become after the accursed Imperium had finished raping it and spitefully gutted the already half-dead planet, and very few of them were positive.
'The Son of the Legion That Fled; his body half lost to the whims of Daemons, his soul completely lost to his own poor choices. He is dead and damned already, that he hasn't yet realized only proves what he is. A fool, nothing more.'
'The Dreaming Raven; his soul singing with desires for childhood fantasies to be made real, yet blind to the paradox of bringing freedom through corruption, and beneath pity for believing that the denizens of the dark care a whit for the souls of the mass of cattle that inhabit the bloated empire he and I once called master.'
'The Fallen Bladesman; his aspect one of beauty, but his essence blackened and ruined by ten millennia of pointless indulgence and childish sadism. Seeking a lord who does not remember his name and would not care if he did, his skill is undeniable though he stands deep in the shadow of the Soulthief. He is lost to his own desires, a cycle of hunger and rage that will inevitably destroy him.'
'The Soul-leech; nothing more than a parasite of the aethyr, feeding on the dregs of soulstuff that it can take from the thousands it murders in a pathetic attempt to forstall a fated damnation that was ordained before the flesh-bodies of it's sires were even born into this tenuous reality. A valueless creature beneath my notice.'
'The One With Bloody Hands; a creature of the dark that lives where others die, perhaps he believes it fate or a sign of a destiny, but nought more than random coincidence. He stands apart, his own luck bringing misfortune in it's wake, he knows he will never be one of the trusted, he is a warrior without brothers. I would pity him if I had any of that emotion remaining.'
'The Waking Mind; a weapon that has learned to think for himself and see the truth of the universe without guidance from those who have already born witness to the horrors beneath the gossamar fabric that is real-space. Yet he courts a terrible fate, striding two of the Four Paths and believing that the masters of those paths do not notice his steps. He will choose, either slaughter or hedonism, or his essence will become as nought.'
'The Living Weapon; a naive thing who believes that the touch of the aethyr will bypass her because her voice and body have not accepted the Primordial Truth, yet her soul is as corrupted as the rest of this patchwork assortment of monsters and madmen. She simply does not see it, either through wilful blindness or laughable denial. And yet, she reminds me of my younger self, arrogantly believing that because I did not will it, the darkness could not touch me. But the truth was shown to me, mercilessly and painfully, and eventually it will be shown to her as well.'
'The Mutant; a creature of base desire and even baser thoughts. His mind looks to nothing but survival, as if simply seeing tomorrow is enough of a goal. Fickle and easily changed, he will eventually betray the wrong lord and end as an example. He does not live, he merely exists and yet is content with that, for which I despise him utterly.
They were indeed a strange association, and yet Sehkt called himself one of them. A sign of his own desperation? Perhaps, yet where else could he go at this moment. He was without direction for this stage of his wandering existence, and this place was as good as any. Sehkt did not expect to find the purpose that would restore his desire to wage the Long War again in the company of these renegades, but unlike the Ratling he still sought to find that purpose. And perhaps in the service of the demagogue that even now made promises of a better tomorrow that Sehkt highly doubted he believed himself, he would find that purpose.
Laertes's words engaged Sehkt's minds; a triad of enemies each with their own petty goals standing in their way; the daughter of one of the star-treading Rogue Traders guarding a cache of weaponry that could change the fortunes of the warband, a dagger of mystical owned by one of the Imperium's self-destructive watchdogs known as an Inquisitor, lost on a world of death and primitive humans barely a step beyond animals. And of course, the obligatory death threats that all insecure leaders felt the need to make, a real warlord did not need to voice such threats, they were unspoken and always-known. But it mattered little, Sehkt had not sworn service to Laertes because he respected him, but because the warmonger might help guide him to a cause that he could believe in. And if not... Sehkt put that thought aside for another day, Laertes had not failed him yet.
As his name was called Sehkt suppressed a sneer, though why he had no idea as nobody could see beneath the cyclopean gaze of his warhelm, at the names that preceeded and followed. The ratling, the hound and the xenos worm. Allies that he would prefer to be distant, but nought could be done. The promise of an Inquisitor however was motivation; something he welcomed fervently. Inquisitors had not existed when Prospero was burnt and murdered, yet it was their ilk that had made it happen; those human sheep that believed themselves wolves and sought to usurp the galaxy that Sehkt and his brothers had bled and died to take light-year by light-year. What secrets he might learn, only a high-ranking member of that haughty cabal would be trusted to bear an artefact of the empyrean, or even be in close proximity to it. Sehkt allowed himself a slight upturn of his mouth, not a smile, but perhaps a small smirk. Laertes could have the dagger, no doubt he would use it to wage war on others who walked the Path to Damnation as most of their shared kind did. Sehkt cared nought for prestige in the eyes of the Eight Legions, his own was gone and theirs had been the only opinions he cared about. Hurting the Imperium that betrayed he and his brothers for their attempt to warn them of the False Warmaster's treason? Now that was Sehkt truly cared about.
And a Master Inquisitor would be aware of many things that could hurt the Imperium of Man. Many, many things.
Sehkt walked from the antechamber, barely acknowledging the "blessing" that Laertes's pet spoke over them, and returned to his chambers to prepare for the mission ahead of him. His Rubricae, once Sergeant Adar and Brother Hez'aq of the company that Sehkt had commanded before the Razing of Prospero and the Battle of Terra had destroyed them, took position at either side of the only door into the room. Once Sehkt had commanded hundreds of soldiers, but now only these two remained in his service, the others now slaves to other Sorcerers of his shattered Legion or their metal casings destroyed in battle and their souls lost to the Great Sea. As he did he observed the tides of the Immaterium shifting without cease, over the millennia he had become an adept at reading them and in a few minute changes in what mortals would insufficiently term "colour" and "shape" he felt that someone nearby was conversing about him. Recalling the memory of the meeting Sehkt stilled the recollection and looked at each member of the warband; eventually he noticed the Raven's gaze flicker to him as the Inquisitor was mentioned. Clearly the initiate knew what a Sorcerer of Sehkt's calibre could do with an Inquisitor of the False Emperor, did he seek to prevent that? Sehkt let the memory fade into the past and the present to re-establish itself, knowing that his Rubricae would have killed anything that dared approach him while he lingered in a fugue state. The former loyalist would not be able to directly impact Sehkt's mission without abandoning his own, an act that would see him butchered by Laertes without delay. And yet the Night Lord, Laertes' hound and informer, would be.
Sehkt inhaled softly, knowing that he should expect somebody to attempt to prevent him from taking the Inquisitor's secrets; either out of fear of what he would do with them, or a spiteful wish to keep him from becoming more powerful through them. Feeling the small smirk pull at his lips again, Sehkt spoke aloud for the first time in the day.
"Let them try."