The Gladiators competed but to the Tyrants horror they did not kill the losers instead they helped them to their feet and they joined their ranks.
“Remember” The prince kept his voice low but everyone could hear it “We get all our people out of here and out there then head for the mountains.”
Demetrius raised his arms “Mortari!” He roared and the gladiators took the chant up.
Calling the name of the one true god and in savage freedom they struck down the priests of the forbidden gods.
“We could kill him now lord!” Anteaus pointed to the king who was busy retreating with his new Inner Guard protecting his escape.
“No” The Prince whispered “free all the prisoners we are not well enough armed and we will find all we need at the monastery besides my armour is there”
The Gladiators did as he ordered and meeting up with Elisha and the others they made their way out of the city and towards the mountains.
“So what now?” Nikoli asked the prince sometime later as they stood before the old monastery “He will kill innocents to get you back”
“That is the way of war Nikoli” The giant quietly spoke “but no matter how many die Eden will be free I promise you that”
“I don’t even know your name” Nikoli absently said the prince seemingly didn’t hear the question but in truth he ignored it for now.
“I need my armour and my sword. Help those that have come up with us” and without another word he turned and walked deep into the monastery.
Elisha stared at the high vaulted ceilings and along with everyone else marvelled at the murals and mosaics that adorned the walls.
The coming of Mortari was depicted in radiant colours, as was his battle with the forbidden gods to free Eden from their bloodthirsty reign. As she moved along the walls she saw a comet fall to the land and a child the size of a ten year old emerge from a metal cocoon to be found by the former queen of the Mortari Peaks on the back of her beautiful golden Griffon, the same Griffon that was freed by the Prince in his first battle in the ring,
Nikoli, Demetrius, Anteaus, Sarina and Helana stared at the mosaic that was capturing her attention.
“Is that…. is that him?” Anteaus asked.
They all turned to see him standing there in armour that fitted him perfectly
The armour was red and gold inlaid with silver leaf the armour had markings that were written in the ancient written form of ancient times and the warriors believed that the language itself was the words of the death god himself. Not one inch was left uncovered and on the right shoulder guard a great griffons head painted in gold and on his shield the open faced helm that was now hanging by his side painted in gold and red.
“My mother found me abandoned by the resting place of Mortari and this armour was crafted in the days when he walked with men. The old priesthood said it was meant for me as it would fit no other warrior”
He raised a great sword made of ebony and shimmering with soul fire the legendary power of the death god.
“The Mortis Sword!” Anteaus breathed in awe.
The legendary sword of the god of the dead said to be charged with the souls of the gods that died in the great war of the gods leaving Mortari the only survivor and the principle deity of Eden.
The sword was bigger then any of them and it would have taken five of them to lift it but he wielded it like it was a lance to them. As he placed it point down to the floor it came up to his waist. His helm held under one arm styled with an open face and a great golden crest across the top down to the back of the neck.
“Find yourselves armour, men there and women there” he motioned either side “arm yourselves we are going to be very busy and we will free our lands no matter how long it takes”
“What is your name lord” Anteaus asked “We do not know what your name is the people called you Mortari for they knew no other name to call you!”
The Prince looked down and raised his eyes slowly “My name is Lucian Dragos and I am the one true High King of Eden as named by King Andeous it is time I took that responsibility home!”
“Lets armour up!” Nikoli roared “For Lucian!”
”For Mortari!” Demetrius roared
“For Eden!” Sarina echoed
“Come home with your shield or on it!” Anteaus yelled as they went to armour up.
Elisha nodded to herself and stood before him “I will be returning to the Southlands when this war is over”
“I have to undo what my uncle has done”
He crouched down until he was level with her head “Not alone Princess we will do this together”
“You are very sweet Lucian Dragos but the Southlands are my home”
“And we are family now our bond will be forged in war and blood and as a woman of the Southlands I know you are ready for this”
She swallowed a little, just being near him made her want to fall into his bed, he had a charisma about him that made her want him like no other man she had ever known.
He rose to his feet as the others returned all wearing the ancient armour of the Mortari Cults warriors red and brown with capes of red or green. Lucian’s gaze fell on a young man who wore a charm round his neck, the griffon shaped skull of the death god.
“Perhaps Seranus you would lead us in prayer”
“My lord” He replied “Let us bow our heads brothers and sisters and pray to the mighty god that he may lend us his arm and his strength as we fight the Tyrant and his army and take back what was once his and in his name make this world everything that it was and will be again. So when we go to battle may we die honourably if that is your will may we return with our shields…”
“Or on them” They intoned as one.
Lucian placed his helm upon his head “Tine to war my sons and daughters!”
Elisha marvelled at the power he had over these soldiers, gladiators and former guard all. Such was the intensity of the emotion that surrounded this giant of legend, this walking god if he had told them to cross the lava flows of Mortana or the ice fields of the frozen north then she was pretty sure that they would have done so without question.
In his armour he looked perfect and it fitted him well, like he was made for this moment and he may well have been.
The Tyrants army was vast much larger then the army of Lucians but the rebels had the advantage, no one knew the mountains like he did. The Tyrant was confident that he would bring this to a rapid conclusion and he would take the head of the giant that had started this and when he got his hands on his niece there was no punishment that would escape her.
He had failed in the eyes of his gods by allowing their priests to die he had to see that blasphemy wiped clean. He sent the elite guard in first and was soon soothed by the sounds of the dying. It went quiet then and the silence lasted for long drawn out minuets.
The Tyrant was ready to receive his elite as the heroes they were and when they appeared over the ridge he felt pride soar in his breast but the pride turned to shock as the elite, the feared arm of his guard strode side by side with the rebels and at their head was the giant, he raised the accursed sword of the false god and let a cry escape his lips.
He could not believe it, what manner of man could sway the elite to his cause he did not have time to even ponder his thoughts for the rebels attacked them, first with arrows that took out the front line of his infantry and then with a head on assault that made the very ground shake with its ferocity.
The war had begun.
As the months drew on the rebels gained more ground, their losses did not seem to stop them with the giant at their head and more and more of the tyrants army joined the rebels, swayed by the words of the war god and once again Elisha marvelled at the power of his words.
Lucian would walk along the lines of the captured warriors offering a warriors death to those that believed in the justness of the Tyrant but before they decided he would ask them to remember what life was like before the war, before the murder of the old high king and his senate.
He told them to remember the people as they were before fear replaced joy and he asked them to consider their options, whilst they died the Tyrant sat surrounded by walls and comforts killing their families if they failed. He spoke the truth for word had reached them through the network they had painstakingly built up that for every guard that went over to Lucians army their families, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers,
children and all were murdered in the killing ring.
None of them took the way of death and by the end of the fourth year they were approaching the city with an army far bigger then the one they had started with.
The battle for the city was a long and drawn out affair, the white streets ran red with blood and the bodies of the dead. The Tyrant could only watch in despair as the few guard, those of his own home city who served he same powers as he defended him. He took his own sword up and strode out to meet this upstart gladiator king.
The rebels parted as the Tyrant made his way to the centre of the killing ring. Lucian stood at the centre no guard around him and no armour, wearing only the armour of a gladiator, this was how he started his warriors’ path and this is how he would end it. His sword was leaning against the far wall guarded by his own inner circle.
The Tyrant made a mental note to make sure that accursed sword tat had cut down so many of his loyal warriors was cast into the lava flows of the great fire mountain along with this upstarts body.
This was the only way to deal with a god.
Lucian regarded the Tyrant like a lion looking at its next meal. He cocked his head a little as the Tyrants priests daubed him with sigils of his foul gods. The sigils seemed to hurt the eyes of his warriors and he quietly whispered to Nikoli to tell all to avert their gaze and pray to Mortari to protect them from such evil signs.
Nikoli bowed his head and did as his lord commanded. Lucian returned his attention to the Tyrant.
It was funny but once upon a time this maniac had installed a fear in all those around him and now he looked so tiny. Most humans looked tiny to him but this insult to the true way of this world was far smaller then them.
He was a man who was rapidly loosing his grip on power and by the expressions on the faces of those left of his retinue his control over them. The Tyrant approached and struck without preamble.
Lucian stepped aside nimbly and the Tyrant was caught off balance, he was tempted to let this small fool make a complete idiot of himself but he was not going to draw it out.
He reached out and grabbed the Tyrant by his throat and lifted him off the ground until he was eye level with him. His hand closed completely around the throat of the struggling King.
Lucian never wavered his gaze from the Tyrants eyes and with satisfaction saw fear swimming in those cold blue eyes.
“Your rule is over, six years of bloody rebellion and now four years of a crusade that has ended in your defeat. Your head shall sit upon the highest spires of this ring as testament to what you have done to the innocents you sent here to die.
This ring will never hear the sounds of honourable fight for too many have died to satisfy your lust for power.
You wanted to see your foul gods…then you shall get your wish but I have a feeling that they shall express their own disappointment in you by means far more cruel then I or anyone here could ever do to you.”
Without letting the Tyrant talk for in truth he could not utter anything but gurgles he ripped his head from his shoulders with his free hand and let the body fall.
He looked over at the remaining guard who ran from the ring in fear and the cheers ran round as Lucian held the head of the Tyrant up for all to see.
He was as good as his word and the head of the Tyrant was placed on the highest tower of the killing ring he appointed guardians to watch over the high city and true to his word he marched with his army to the Southlands to install Elisha as their queen and bring them back to the way of the true god.
Sometime during that long battle Elisha was made the queen of the Southlands and Lucian married her. She had proved herself capable of dealing with him in his warrior mood and was not afraid of him; she calmed his soul and gave him joy and pleasure in equal measure.
A year later they returned to the High City where he was crowned High King. He thought he had it all, all that a man was allowed to have, the true religion was back and the lands of his world were peaceful once more. He had a guard that was utterly loyal to him and would allow none to try and assassinate him, although there would be none who would dare.
Elisha had the Sisterhood of Mortari and Daughters of Eden, the two warrior women guilds as her bodyguards and protectors but it was not to last.
Six months after his coronation Elisha was dead, poisoned by a goblet of wine and the high kings fury was unmatched and unshackled.
The wine seller who had given the queen the wine feared for his very life and right that he did for if the king found him he would be dead but the king already knew where he was and he was following him back to the place where the treachery was hatched.
The city of Larcana, Elisha’s native city and that of her accursed uncle had kept their dark allegiances secret and had planned revenge for the death of their king. There was none who could kill the giant for he was indeed a living god but Elisha was not.
She was the queen of the Southlands but she had betrayed her uncle and in doing so became the easy target.
The wine she favoured came from the cities own vineyards and was noted for its beautiful fruity taste and aromatic aroma it was her favourite drink so it had been easy to poison the bottle.
The wine merchant was supposed to have ended his own life instead he had unwittingly ended theirs.
Lucian’s fury was like a demon from hell and as he laid waste to all around him his warrior commented that on this day and in this battle no woman would ever touch him again like their beloved high queen. Their grief was magnified in their magnificent king.
By the time the moon had reached its sixth cycle the streets of Larcana ran red with blood. It seeped into the sand and from that day on the sands remained stained red for all eternity.
Lucian glared at the prisoners the children of the village and finally his rage subsided. He had killed all the adults; men and women as they had attacked them but they had found all the children hidden in a temple of such profanity that he had tore it down with his own bare hands.
“What shall we do with them Lord?” Nikoli asked, his face flushed from the battle but he had no wish to be the murderer of children and he believed that his lord was the same.
“Take them to the temple of Mortari” Lucian ordered quietly “They are still young enough to learn and be freed from the vile teaching of their parents. They are our future. I have killed many today but I will not kill children. I will never kill children.”
He stood as the children were led away for the long journey back to the monastery and bowed his head, his giant fists clenched and the grief exploded once more in a cry the likes his warriors had never heard before and they hoped he would never hear again.
Rage, grief and pain escaped in one enormous bellow that rang round the entire city and off the mountains. He sank to his knees and bowed his head to the red sands, his massive frame shaking with anger and emotion.
No one knows what happened in those few moments but when Lucian returned to his warriors an hour later they all noted that his eyes were darker then they remembered and they realised in their own minds that their king would be forever alone.
He would never take another mate and he would be the sort of king that would rule wisely but without a queen.
Elisha’s funeral was not one that was never known nor would it be seen again. Her body was taken to the Cliffs of Affirmation, where Lucian and Elisha had taken their vows a second time. She was interred in a mausoleum built for them both after the war in the high city ended.
And now here he stood looking over the cliffs into the sea below.
He came here when he sought solace or needed to be with his thoughts. Being here seemed to calm his warring soul and once more his gaze turned to the skies.
Something was out there, beyond the stars and beyond the veils of the blackness beyond.
He could feel it deep within his soul.
Someone was calling to him and he thought that it was Mortari but the voice was stronger and more powerful then the voices of gods. He had no idea who it was but he would eventually find out and the questions that he had only expressed to Elisha would be answered.
The war was over and had been for a long time. He had ruled like a warrior king and yet for all his giagantacism he was seen as a wise and noble man. The people believed him to be the son of Mortari and as legend dictated he was the rightful king, as his father had been before him.
Lucian had been true to his vow and had never taken another woman, not to his bed or to his life. In truth with Elisha dying so too had the need for a mate. He was no more attracted to a woman then he was to a rusty blade.
He loved his warriors’ men and women all deeply for they had fought with him and besides him and had earnt his love and affection but that was as much as he allowed himself to feel.
Nikoli had expressed to Demetrius and Anteaus that whilst they had their king to turn to if they had a problem, he had no one and such was his love for Elisha when he lost her he had lost the one person he could turn to.
Time would prove them wrong.
“My lord! My Lord!”
Lucian awoke to Anteaus running into his chambers fear on his face.
“What is it?” He asked his voice heavy with the rare moments of sleep that he caught.
It made Anteaus marvel that his master seemed to need very little sleep but then he was a god and he supposed that gods were not like mortal men and needed hardly any sleep at all.
“The gods my lord!”
”They have returned it is the end of days and the people are fearful”
Lucian dived out of his bed and roared for his armour and his sword. His world was under attack and if these gods had come to take their world once more then they would find warriors more then up to the challenge of sending them back where they had come from.
They marched out of the royal palaces and barrack in formation, their master at the head the great Mortis Sword in his hand. His soul soared but not with the adrenalin rush of battle as he expected but with something else.
Something he knew that he had been expecting but not sure hoe he knew.
They emerged into the courtyard, the sisterhoods took their places on the walls next to the archers but as they gazed down at the warriors that massed outside they began to feel fear deep within them.
“By the great griffon!” Anteaus swallowed as he saw the gods for the first time.
They were huge, as tall as two fully-grown men and their armour was a strange, colour of red and gold in quarters the etching around the edges of the armour was gold. Their faces were hidden behind full-faced helms that had large eye sockets like insects and the weapons they held looked capable of cutting down all their warriors in one blast.
The warriors around Lucian kept their heads although they were fearful of the demons before them. However instead of attacking them, the warriors of the sky parted and three figures strode through with a confidence and power given only to those who wore it like a cloak.
One wore armour of purest midnight blue. His helm fashioned into a skull with what looked like a red bat across his massive breastplate. When he removed his mask pale features and dark soulless eyes shone back and his black hair hung around him like a funeral shroud.
The man next to him wore Armour of Granite with cuneiform writing covering every surface. When he removed his helm his face was covered in gold leaf and he was hairless but Lucian could see unchecked rage and violence in that lean body and something else that he could not quite put a finger on.
He turned his gaze upon a warrior in blood red armour with brass edging. He was a massive man as broad as Lucian if not more so and he did brim with violence it oozed from every pore of his being and Lucian recognised a gladiator when he saw one.
He removed his helm and set it under the crook of his arm.
Wiry copper coloured hair that was tied back into a long ponytail down to the mid of his back. High browed with cheekbones that slashed down like the edge of sword and pale eyes were set deep within their sockets but there was violence there never the less.
Once more the three men moved as one to one side and a figure in golden armour strode through. Lucian was unaccustomed to kneeling before anyone but the sheer power of the golden figure stirred within him familiar feelings that he could not fight even if he wanted too.
The man was taller then even he and his head crowned by a thick luxurious mane of brown hair but it was his eyes. His eyes sparkled with power and wisdom that belied his years.
Lucian felt his knees buckle and slowly he went down on one knee. His warriors stared at each other and as the golden armoured giant came into their view they too went down on one knee, overwhelmed by the sheer majesty that this man exuded.
Lucian heard some of his men, his brothers weep at the sight of such a man and all their arms lay to the ground, for this man could only be the king of kings and they would be damned for striking at him.
His sisters too wept for the glory and beauty they saw in this man. Lucian kept his head bowed until a hand rested on his shoulder and a deep yet gentle voice spoke to him.
“Look at me”
Lucian raised his head and his breath caught in his throat as he saw magnificence in the features before him,
“I am the Emperor of mankind. I have searched long and far for my sons and I have finally found you. Rise my son, rise and greet your father.”
Lucian got to his feet. Deep inside he knew this man; he didn’t know how he knew him just that he knew this man.
“I am Lucian Dragos, High King of Eden”
“I know” The golden figure gestured for the other three giants to approach them “This is Konrad Curze, Primarch of the VIII Legion known as the Night Lords,” Curze inclined his head a little “This is Lorgar Primarch of the XVII Legion known as the Word Bearers”
Lorgar smiled and Lucian returned the gesture. The Golden angel placed is hand on the shoulder of the last warrior who flinched a little, Lucian did not miss it
“and this is Angron, Primarch of the XII Legion known as the World Eaters.”
Lorgar turned to the Emperor who nodded cordially. Lorgar was much better with words and he had been asked to do this as honour to their newly found brother.
“These men that you seen behind you Lucian are just some who were created from your genes, your DNA coding is etched within their very existence. They are the XI Legion and they are your sons, yours to command. What would you call them? For they are a Legion without a name”
Lucian was silent for a long time taking in what was being told to him he glanced down at his own armour and he removed his helm and studied it for some time.
Old stories that the old king had told him came back to his memory.
Old tales of Antiquity Terra surfaced in his mind. Warriors’ that gave no quarter and did not know defeat, every loss was honoured as the ultimate sacrifice to the gods. Women were honoured for they bore sons, sons that would carry on the proud traditions of the warrior race they were part off.
“The Spartan Guard” He replied “They shall be known as the Spartan Guard”
“So it is decreed” Lorgar rested a hand on Lucians shoulder and turned to face the marines behind him “Hail your father warriors of the XI Legion, you have a name and you shall be known as the Spartan Guard”
The Emperor smiled, that name brought back memories to him and as the space marines of the newly christened Spartan Guard voices rose high into the heavens the people of this city joined in the applause and cheering for they had finally been reunited with old Terra and they were no longer alone.
Lucian listened as his father told him how he was leading a great crusade to reunite the worlds of man with their mother world. How this world would now be the home world to his Legion and where future generations would be trained here so that the Legion would endure.
However he had no place for religion in his Imperium, religion had caused too much in the ways of war and destruction and the people would cease to worship the deity they called Mortari.
“My lord” Lucian rose to his feet “You cannot expect them to just forget an entire way of life overnight because you say so!”
The Emperor rose slightly his hands to placate his son “I understand that Lucian I know it will take time but younger generations must learn that there is no such things as gods that we make our own fate and our own destinies. It would be better coming from you, a man they obviously adore.”
Lucian shook his head “You bring my people salvation and joy and then in the next moment cut down everything that is their way of life”
“I am sorry son. I came to find you, I find an exact replica of Terra before she lost her beauty and I find a world welcoming to us it is so refreshing to come to a world and not have to shed blood because they do not wish to return to the fold but I will not tolerate religion of any kind in my Imperium and one day you will come to understand that”
He rested his hands on Lucians shoulders “Your brothers will remain here for a few days, to allow you to get to know each other. They will help you decide which of your young warriors are able to receive the Gene Seed that will make them into mighty Astartes and those that are too old to receive the Gene Seed but who may still be of use will be enhanced to allow them to still remain part of your Legion”
Lucian bowed his head realising that it would do no good to argue with the Emperor and allowed him self to be embraced.
“I look forward to walking the stars with you son”
He bowed his head and waited until his father was gone. He was alone for a short while when Lorgar came to him.
“Its time brother.”
Lucian rose to his full height and drew a deep breath “Time to break their hearts” He muttered darkly.
Lorgar walked out with him his expression unreadable but his eyes flashing with religious fervour and relief that he may have found a kindred spirit.