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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello, Heretics, so I came up with a cool idea that I think will be a good story to delve into. This is in the 40k setting, and some of you may recognize the characters in this beginning scene. This is a story mainly about: Daemons. Once again, not sure where this will go, but we'll see where this takes us :).

EDIT: I realize that this beginning might confuse some people. I will begin a revision tomorrow to add more clarity to everything. As it stands now, this is mainly a follow up to The New Word.

Bleak Eternity​

A voice on the edge of Mirathir's mind whispered into her thoughts. You wish to repent. It is not easy.

The Forlorn City. Nothing more than a daydream of some deity's twisted vision of heaven made a reality. This was a plane of pleasant dreams and good intention exploited to meet the whim of voracious demonkind. A far-flung realm in the warp that was beneath the heel of no Dark God. Bliss and ignorance reigned supreme in this isolated kingdom. A Demoness once ruled over everything within this heavenly bastion. She spread her religion of enlightenment and eternal life across the stars. All in the effort to lure the souls of mortals into her realm. Souls that she branded and made her own, cursed and twisted into her minions.

The angelic voice would not leave her consciousness. This eternity you live is a lie. Do you not remember what you were?

Mirathir was one of her chosen prophets, ancient and powerful too.

The fallen eldar prophet's ire was rising. Trade your leash to another master. It is not all bleak prophecy. You can be free.

The religion of the New Word was lost with the demise of its creator. The tyrannical Demoness was cast in the abyss by one of her own. Her own hopes were dashed at the height of her ambitions. For she would have done what few entities of her power had ever dared beneath the eye of the Dark Gods. She had invaded real space and brought her word to the mortal plane. Now she would never return. It did not help matters when that traitor happened to be one of your few remaining friends throughout the millennia.

Mirathir smiled. I trade this leash to this entity in faith that she may rend these bonds placed between us. Be gone, spirit, I shall not suffer such an irritating wretch to challenge me.

Dazzling sunlight drifted through glassless arches into the throne room. The floors were built of alabaster marble and furnished with fine sapphire rugs. Golden braziers hung from the cupped hands of angelic statues that held up the ribbed vault ceiling. The more Mirathir inspected them, the more alien and out of place they appeared in this hall of demons. The Raven Prophet wore an elegant white robe with a gold trim. The blasphemous markings singed onto her face made her embarrassed when she looked upon the beautiful faces of the mortals that tread the throne room reverently. Her long raven hair spilled across her shoulders and down the small of her back.

A voice reminiscent of the sound of rushing waters spoke to her. The Raven Prophet looked up toward the throne that appeared to be built by stone that shined as if pieces of the moon. The Demoness that sat upon it was inhumanly slender, but robust with densely corded muscle. Her skin was the color of crystal green waters, her eyes dark as the abyss. Long columns of raven hair poured down her demon-forged armor and spilled across her four arms, which sat upon four arm rests. She lacked her former master's curved horns, but possessed a beatific face of a female humanoid creature.

Nyst revealed beatific and sharpened teeth in a wolfish grin. “For millennia, I dreamt of the day that I would awake from my eternal slumber and rise again. On the damned planet the humans called Tarmathon IV, I was cast into limbo. My former master, Ba’zariah, had thrown the very essence of my mind into the raw storm of the warp. I asked myself, ‘Why would my most beloved master do such a thing’? I had already searched the past for an answer and found it a rather base irrationality of hers: primal fear.

“For I, my dearest one, am no mere pawn of the Gods. I am not put into place lightly, pretending to be the most critical piece in the puzzle. I know that am only one thread in a myriad of others that the deities of the immaterium control. If eternity has taught me anything, it is that demonic kind of certain magnitudes should never be content with weaving threads for those above them. They should desire to weave just as many threads for themselves.

“When I was eventually discovered by you in ruins you had no right sifting through, I finally foresaw my opportunity to tip the scales in my favor. I schemed for another millennia alongside you, guided you toward a more… enlightened damnation. One not wrought with so much pain, suffering, or madness. By your side, I regained my mind and my power, but it was never enough. It would never be enough until the Demoness of all our nightmares had perished by a clever ruse.”

Mirathir listened, a knowing smile on her lips. “I never knew you detested our master so fiercely. I assume your silence was intended so as not to tempt fate too early?”

Nyst inclined her head in agreement. “It was. Yet even so, Ba’zariah was too arrogant to ever suspect betrayal from another she had so thoroughly weakened. Vengeance was incredibly sweet in that moment. Not even a taste of bitterness on the tongue.” Her forked tongue slithered over her teeth. “I savored what little I could, but now she is gone forever. I would be remiss to say that I do not miss her. Even if only to rend her soul for all eternity.”

Mirathir replied in her soothing tone. “Let us not look to the past. Our alliance with the Thousand Sons is broken. Our invasion of Tyrannus has been broken. We should look to the next threat of conflict.”

“Simple.” Nyst grinned. “That would be here, in the Forlorn City. The minions of Khorne have come for our souls. Their legions are at our gates or so they say. I must turn them back.”

“Those are demon wars, Nyst.” Mirathir shook her head. “These conflicts, do they not happen often? I mean in the mortal plane. The Imperium maybe on the brink of collapse, but it is regrouping.”

Nyst groaned with impatience. “Imperials, Imperials, it is all you ever talk about as of late. It will take them centuries to rebuild what has been ruined. Do not concern your weary head with these cretins. If I must war in the mortal plane, I would choose a new foe to combat. After all, you forget that there are multiple threats that plague the Marathon Sector.”

“Nyst.” Mirathir said. “We are attempting to win a war. Not wreak utter devastation because it is enjoyable.”

Nyst answered with a smug grin. “The young Tau could defeat you if you ignore them long enough.”

The Raven Prophet knew how displeased she must have looked. “More of your intuition or actual prophecy?”

“That answer.” Nyst winked mischievously. “Is not for mortal ears, no matter how blessed by a fallen god. Be gone, Shape Shifter, and see for yourself. When you have seen the truth, gather an army from your liberated stronghold.”

Mirathir arched a brow. “And what will you do?”

Nyst boasted, confident. “Challenge the Blood God’s slaves. I’m afraid I can spare you no angels. I must call every demon to my host!”

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
UPDATE: Made some edits, it should be clearer now who Mirathir is and where she is. If it still confuses people, feel free to let me know :grin:.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Mirathir strode through the open doors of the throne room and down the one hundred stairs that led deeper into the Fortress of the Abyss. A sense of vertigo wrenched her stomach as she realized that she walked amongst the clouds. Brilliant shafts of sunlight twinkled against thin spires forged from solid bricks of gold and onyx. Every tower displayed their walkways, completely wall-less and revealed thousands of robed figures that scaled them like ants.

Mirathir thought haughtily. Hmph. Same arrogant creature that I have always known. Ascending to the throne has not changed her.

Beneath Mirathir was an endless metropolis that stretched out like the heavens. Rushing waterfalls and rivers ran through the polished streets in an intricate network. They formed a myriad of shapes in the grander scheme of the Forlorn City. In the skies above, winged Greater Demons possessed of angelic forms maintained order across this strange realm.

Mirathir both admired and hated this place, for it was a paradise and another vision of hell entwined together. While the sun shone above the tallest spires, there was an eeriness to its brilliance that she could not explain. Everything hear seemed perfect and yet, those who dwelled here seemed to scream silently for release. This immortal plane existed in a state of limbo that made her truly afraid if she delved into thought too much.

The Raven Prophet cast her troubled thoughts from her mind. She descended the hundred stairs and onto the open spire that housed the Gateway Nexus. Portals that swirled with unstable energies lined the circular platform. One look into them and she could see what worlds awaited her on the other side. Each was linked to a world in the Marathon Sector, where the eternal war was being bitterly waged.

A Greater Demon knelt in the center of the spire. She was unlike the centaur creatures that Mirathir had unleashed at the Ghost Crypts. This demonic entity took shape in a humanoid form, furled ebon wings cloaking it from shoulder to feet. The distinctive feature about her was that her pallid skin seemed nearly human or eldar in origin. Her facial features and flowing locks of auburn hair bore similar resemblances. A great double-bladed spear was gripped in one hand and she was clasped in elegant armor.

The Greater Demon bowed her head. “Prophetess.”

“Aenaria.” Mirathir acknowledged. “How fare the mortal worlds?”

The angelic creature looked up and smiled. “Unending war as usual. Do you seek to travel to a destination?”

“Yes.” Mirathir replied. “I seek passage to my stronghold on Tarmathon IV. There are things that must be… foreseen.”

“Of course,” Aenaria pointed her silver-tipped spear toward a random portal. She glared into its writhing contents until the energies became a placid mirror. “You may proceed, prophetess.”

“You are Nyst’s favored champion.” Mirathir said. “Are you going to fight against the blood tide?”

Aenaria smiled. “Fear not for my soul, prophetess. I shall die a thousand deaths and never perish. Though yes, I shall fight against the minions of Khorne, should my queen demand it.”

Mirahir studied the demon for several moments. “Does she compel you by name?”

Aenaria boasted with cruel laughter. “That is how she compels every servant of hers to fight. If that were not the case, I am certain that our city would have perished in time immemorial. Even now, I doubt that we can best the Blood God’s minions. We have been invaded many times. Crushed many weaklings at our gates. Yet I fear that there is a darker scheme in all of this.”

Mirathir nodded, empathetic. “Fear not, Nyst did not usurp the throne of an entire realm because she could not foresee the future.”

“Of that,” Aenaria said, “I have no doubt.”

At that, Mirathir donned her hood and proceeded toward the portal. “May the warp grant you strength, Aenaria. Do not be too reckless out there.”

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
The second post hit a good stride, and I'm glad you went back to edit the first.

I haven't made it to your story, the New Word, yet. I'm only about a quarter of the way through Gods Hall. :blush: But if anything, it'd be perfect if you could broaden the descriptions of the first three paragraphs before delving into the conversation. Maybe arrange their order, starting from afar and then zooming in? Sort of like "Forlorn City..." to "The New Word..." and then your intro "Dazzling sunlight..."

Your conversations are very smooth. I like that. Nothing for me to pick at there. :good:

Nice start. I'm looking forward to reading The New Word!
Hey, Treesnifer, thanks for the comment! I'll definitely rearrange the paragraphs and work on fleshing out those descriptions when I get the chance. :)

Glad you're enjoying the other stuff in the meantime!

EDIT: Made the changes!

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
The world was nothing but inky darkness, broken by flickering vermillion lights hidden behind twisting corridors. When Mirathir finally fluttered her eyes open, she realized that her world was wrong. Why could she see the floors of the Halls of Aurellan as if they were the ceiling? And… she was suspended in air as if frozen in time. The ventilation within the ship made her breath frosty and her hairs stand on the nape of her neck. In the timed flashes of light, she picked out sprays of blood amidst floating debris.

“Warning… breaches reported on deck level 87-A, 87-B, 87-C....” Nareen, Aurellan’s artificial intelligence droned on. “Quarantine in progress. Sealing of affected decks in progress,...”

“Mother?” Mirathir heard her voice echo through the corridors. “Is anyone out there?”

The young eldar adolescent sighed in pain as she forced herself into movement. Her fingers traced the cuts that ached on her body, but none of them were a cause for fear. The holes in her suit had been patched. Mirathir discovered only the fallen within the civilian quarters she and her mother had inhabited. Kin she had once known floated amongst the debris, their environmental suits breached and the air sucked from their lungs. Others had been more fortunate, they had been atomized by the direct hit the deck had taken from the Dark Kin’s devastating dark energy cannons.

“Escape pods,” Mirathir whispered, “I have to find an escape route.”

Mirathir weaved through the floating chunks of wraithbone and remnants of flesh into the corridors of the Aurellan. Distinct popping sounds greeted her pointed ears as she half-crawled, half-glided across the ship’s floor. A more familiar noise answered the use of Dark Kin weapons, Shuriken Catapults. Vicious battle cries shattered the absolute quiet, interrupted by the occasional shrill scream.,

A voice whispered from the ether. “This way.”

Mirathir whirled around, frightened that she had been discovered by the Dark Kin. Yet no matter how keen her eyes, she could not pick out any shapes in the darkness. She was alone.

The voice crawled into her head, firmly, but with gentle tendrils. “Do not be afraid. This way will you lead to her.”

Mirathir could not explain her instinctive behavior in that moment, but within her heart of hearts, she believed this voice her only friend. She uttered under her breath. “Guide me to my kindred, ancestor.”

Mirathir spun around and continued down the path that led away from the sounds of fighting. In truth, she never remembered where the escape pods were kept on the civilian deck. Yet she knew that this strange voice knew and would guide her to safety. She quickly slipped from corridor to corridor, through open doors that she sealed behind her for the last time. No one would follow her or discover her trail.

The voice continued to guide her with its lilting beauty. “Salvation is not so far…”

Mirathir slammed her fist into the control panel of a large slide door and as the door closed, a sense of vertigo wrenched her stomach as gravity stabilized. She fell with a loud thump onto the wraithbone floor, painted by the orange glow of lights shining from the ceiling. The ventilation here was flowing and warm. As Mirathir picked herself off the floor, she unsealed her helmet and inhaled a great gulp of air.

Mirathir arched a brow. Her eyes flicked over a painted message inscribed along the wall. “Proceed through here in case of emergency. Follow the markers to escape pods.” She threw her helmet aside and began to run.

“Almost there…” Mirathir uttered to herself. “Almost there-”

Mirathir skidded to a halt the moment she rounded a corner into another hall. A tall and black figure stood at the opposite end. Judging by his physique, he was an eldar in origin. One look at his heavy segmented armor, painted in sharp green accents and the great klaive that he wielded in both hands, he was Dark Kin. As the figure slowly turned on his heel, Mirathir gazed into baleful red eyes that peered from a horned and skull-like helmet.

The Incubi did not gesture for reinforcements or spare a single word for her. He was alone. Mirathir retraced her steps, her breathing turned to short gasps as the Incubi planted one firm foot after the other in her direction. She broke into a sudden run back the way she came. The Incubi’s heavy footfalls resounded through the silent halls as he gave chase.

Mirathir cried out, slammed her hands against the first door she had sealed in her own haste. She cast thoughts of reopening the passage aside as a shadow twisted around the corridor she had been mere moments before. The pursuit became a twisted puzzle of sorts. Mirathir ducked through random passages and through rooms filled with slaughtered eldar. Even at his highest stride, the Incubi was cumbersome compared to her. Yet that gave her only scant seconds to live as she snagged objects in her haste and stumbled over twisted forms.

The eldar girl cried out as she tripped over a discarded shuriken catapult and skidded several feet across the floor of a laboratory. The searing heat of an energy field passed over her body by mere centimeters. She rolled aside on instinct to dodge the next cleaving blow. Sparks flew from where the Klaive smashed through the wriathbone. Mirathir snatched the shuriken catapult in the same movement and unleashed what remained of the magazine.

The Incubi let loose a cruel, boastful laugh as the laser traces embedded themselves into his klaive and sporadically into his armor. Despite the force of the attack, the Dark Kin managed to step forward again and again, even as Mirathir continued to scramble backwards until she was pressed against a wall. The Archon’s elite pressed a firm foot against her chest, a gesture that felt as if a hunk of debris fell on top of her.

The magazine clicked empty.

With a mighty display of strength, the Incubi whirled his klaive over his head for the final blow. Mirathir chose not to close her eyes. In that moment, one of the locked doors clacked open and slid aside. The Incubi twisted around in time to see a machine forged from wraithbone march into the laboratory. The Wraithguard held a scattershield in one hand and a great, crackling power axe in the other. The lighting was too dim for Mirathir to make out the colors that it wore.

The Wraithguard commanded Mirathir telepathically. “Close your eyes!” Before Mirathir could blink, the Wraithguard threw the axe in its grip with a precision beyond mortal limits. The Incubi brought his klaive down to protect his chest, but the blade was angled in such a way that the ghost axe deflected upward and cleaved the Incubi’s helmet in two. The body clattered to the ground.

Mirathir could not repress herself from screaming as fresh blood splashed over her. The ghost axe embedded itself into the wall mere inches above her.

The Wraithguard held no soothing words. “More are coming! Find your way to the escape pods! Hurry, child!”

Mirathir regained her composure as she stood. “Where are all the others?”

The Wraithguard shook its head. “You are the only survivor I have found. Soon to be dead, if you do escape! The pods are nearby. I shall buy you time with what little life remains in these artificial bones of mine.”

Mirathir nodded. “Whoever you are, I owe you my life. Thank you.” She raced through the open door that the Wraithguard had emerged through.

Mirathir discovered the escape pods further down the corridor from the laboratory. When she reached a large view of the galaxy beyond her ship, she froze in horror. She realized that the Wraithguard had spoken more truthfully than she realized. For none of the escape pods had shown signs of use or ejection. At least upon this deck, she would be the only survivor. As she looked out upon the greater space beyond, her gaze was fixed upon the world that awaited her below,

Rumors had it that Tarmathon IV was an empty world, once settled by the Imperium of Man. It’s population had vanished centuries ago. If there was any truth to that, Mirathir would soon discover for herself.

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Mirathir opened her eyes. The last vestiges of the immaterium evaporated on the hot winds of the world that she now stood upon. Light from the relentless desert sun fell upon her face, but by now she was used to its harsh glare. Around her, an arid wasteland rose up in a upheaved, uneven series of canyons and plateaus that stretched across the flanks of barren hills. It was once a lush grassland, the Aeretica Wastes. Now all that remained were the ghosts from wars past, fateful battles that had shaped Mirathir’s view of what the galaxy truly was.

No soul would ever die on this soil again. Mirathir looked into the future and realized that such a thing could be true. It had been proven fact for over sometime now.

The Raven Prophet removed her hood and looked toward the opening in the canyon wall. Once upon a time, a great colony from the Tau Empire used to shimmer through that gaping hole in the canyon. The relentless advance of the Imperial Guard had seen it razed it to the ground after much bitter and remorseless fighting, She smirked as her gaze now fell upon a great fortress of ceramite and ferrocrete rise from the remnants of the colony.

The Fortress of Aurellan hid behind no mighty battlements nor turrets. In reality, it was an ugly parody of the collected spires in the Forlorn City. A burgeoning city spread from the highest towers into the wasteland, encompassed by the same sinister sky that haunted the paradise within the warp. It was only one of many settlements Mirathir had begun after the war for Tarmathon IV had ended. Despite her setbacks on Tyrannus, if the war against the Imperium continued as it had in recent years, Tarmathon IV would evolve from a mere stronghold into a thriving planet.

Mirathir concentrated and thought of Aenaria. Without effort, pain, or embarrassment, the Raven Prophet’s features began to morph into a similar shape of the image she held in her mind. The only pain was that of ebon wings sprouting from her back in a burst of blood. She blinked the stars from her eyes and realized that the transformation was done. She was a guardian of the Forlorn City in all but name.

With a mournful laugh, Mirathir beat her wings and launched herself into the skies.

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Aenaria observed the Raven Prophet as she vanished through the portal gateway. The Greater Demon rose to her feet and with a beat of her mighty wings, ascended into the skies. The Forlorn City stretched across the horizon as a sprawling, unending labyrinth. She knew of its limits, however. At the Gates of Sorrow, the Blood God would hurl his legions against the realm’s defense in a hurricane of blood. Despite her human origins, Aenaria was gladdened that she could no longer feel fear.

Aenaria weaved through the Fortress of the Abyss’ ebon-gold spires. Throngs of angelic creatures darted through the skies, she nose-dived and whirled between them. As the Fortress of the Abyss became nothing more than a distant mountain in the clouds, Aenaria descended into the midst of the Forlorn City. The sweeping tiers that formed the glorious realm glistened with solid gold and alabaster, condensed into mind-altering mazes that would keep the mortals reclusive and puzzled.

The angelic demon descended toward her destination: a half-sunken tower that sprang from a writhing lake. The structure was decorated with many white arches on multiple levels, encased completely in polished limestone. The tower was composed of several floors, each slightly smaller than the last. Locked away in the heart of the fourth floor was a great clock that ticked only whilst crimson flames danced upon the tower’s eyrie. The flames would change color every hour, Aenaria knew, and represented something more than the passing of time.

“Aenaria.” Nessana, another angelic demon of coal-black skin and pulsating crimson runes descended from the toppled pillar that she stood vigil from. She revealed sharpened teeth in a lopsided grin. “You are not called. What is it you seek?”

“Nessana.” Aenaria acknowledged with an imperceptible nod. “I have come to gutter the flames of the Soulless Tower.”

Nessana’s smile twitched. “I am not the champion of the Demoness. I am not of rank to halt you.” She glared daggers at Aenaria. “You know the chosen are not ready.”

“They must be, Nessana.” Aenaria leaned on her great spear. “Come, join me. What stage have they reached?” She glided around Nessana and toward the gates of the tower.

“No longer mortal by any means.” Nessana replied. “Give them more time, Aenaria. A few hundred more of our kin could turn the tide against whatever mongrels are barking at our gates! Dark Gods… Pah! They will fall to divine wrath as they have always done.”

Aenaria halted and turned to Nessana. Her expression was bleak. “There is no time. They must be ready for combat as they are.” The silver gates to the tower bellowed open. A shrieking wind rushed from the opening. “As you said, they are no longer mortal. Demonic blood runs through their veins. Their names are written in our annals. Their strength shall be beyond a dozen blood crazed minions. The only thing they lack now are their wings and, of course, their immortality.”

The brilliant light of the Forlorn City faded into shadow, lit only by the flickering presence of dancing sapphire flames upon a thousand braziers. A spherical space distanced Aenaria from the chosen, marked by hundreds of infernal runes that pulsed violet. The Tower of the Soulless was a vast chamber, pulpits carved into nearly every crevice of the limestone walls for tiers beyond counting.

Beside the unnatural flames of the braziers, inside the pulpits, were the chosen of the Demoness. The souls of humanoid beings that had made a pact to embrace the light of the New Word. Aenaria gazed upward and counted thousands in the blink of an eye. Human no longer, she thought. The flames of the tower changed the very essence of their souls. Diabolic magic polluted their blood and mutated their cells into evolving into another form that was beyond the trivialities of life and death. Many amongst them appeared reborn as mortal gods, but marred with the features of the demonic.

Aenaria sniffed. She took in the scent of silent suffering and nodded, pleased. “They are ready to fight.” She turned to Nessana. “Gather our kin and prepare these chosen for battle. I shall see the Flame of the Soulless guttered.”

Nessana gave Aenaria a dark stare. “I hope you know what you are doing. Without the next generation of chosen, this realm could fall into anarchy.”

“Are you scared?” Aenaria teased. “The mortals will never be united enough to threaten us. How ridiculous, an angel worried about an apocalypse.” She chuckled with cruel laughter.

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
NOTE: I have added another part to the first chapter, just before Aenaria's point of view. I don't know if anyone else agrees, but I think I have been jumping around too quickly to other POVs in this story. So what I am going to do is go back and work on Mirathir's POV for a greater part of the first chapter. Then I'll work on Aenaria's and so on.

Thank you guys, for your patience:wink:.

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
A small part has been added after Mirathir's flashback :).

The Gates of Sorrow​

On the Fringes of the heavenly realms, the Gates of Sorrow ascended from the remains of a devastated world. Legend foretold by the most ancient Demons that the Forlorn Bastion was founded upon a paradise conquered after several eternities of war. The realm's predecessors were of mortal blood and the Demoness responsible for their subjugation lusted not for their souls, but their beauty. Time immemorial ago, the Demoness mixed the blood of her kin into the mortal lineage to breed a new form of demon. And so the angelic guardians were born.

One hundred thousand voices lent themselves to the choir of battle cries that echoed across the Gates of Sorrow. The angelic Host was gathered across five hundred battlements, clasped in elegant demon forged armor. Across the scarred and blackened earth beyond the realm's walls, a great legion of mortals and Chosen were arrayed in battle formation. The mortals were nothing, robe-chafe meant to keep the Blood God's legions pinned in place while the elite performed their killing.

The Chosen were something between mortal and demon. They were given possessed armor, things that lived and writhed with thoughts of their own. They lacked the unparalleled beauty of the guardians, but each held the strength and inner will of ten lesser souls. They would fight on as long as sunlight twinkled on the horizon and the angels called from on high.

The angelic guardians created a rolling thunder from the clash of their weapons against glistening shields. Nyst reveled in the clamor as she emerged from the Forlorn City. She knew how divine she must have appeared to their naive eyes. The Demoness towered several heads over the tallest guardian without effort. Her armor was painstakingly shaped into the image of writhing serpents on her shoulders and a howling beast yawning on her midriff. The reforged relic blades were gripped in her four sets of fingers. The Sword that Claimed Souls, the Sword of Flames, and the Sword of Decimation. The last among her blades was a personal favorite: the Sword of Bleak Eternity.

The Gates of Sorrow were too high for Nyst to see anything but a sea of lesser souls. She could not admire their pristine ranks or their glorious standards. Soon it would not matter. The true battle would be in the skies and upon the battlements.

An earth shattering, infernal laugh shattered the tranquility of the realm. Nyst silently observed the skies around the gates transform into a flux of bruised colors. Thunder bellowed and violet lightning streaked down onto the blasted earth. Chitterling voices echoed through the ether, drowned beneath the calls of countless war horns. Rain began to fall, Nyst was unsurprised that her fingers came away from her face streaked in blood. Khorne''s countless hordes arrived through the blood rain. The Gates of Sorrow quaked beneath the march of countless red-skinned horrors.

At last, Nyst thought, something interesting.

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I apologize for being so late with this. I've been busy with college and being in a writing rut lately, so I haven't been in the mood to write anything but homework :p. Anyways, I'm a bit rusty, so I guess I have to start working some of that off. This update is a start :).

Chapter Two​

Aenaria soared above the Gates of Sorrow on ebon wings, an angelic witness to the endless carnage that the Blood God had brought before the Forlorn City. She elegantly weaved through the embattled masses that fought for the realm above the chaos. Massive beasts created from blood, brass, and honor hurtled themselves through the skies and onto the battlements. Their massive demon forged axes split fragile angelic kin in twain or crushed them into paste beneath their hooves. Around them, a horde of lesser furies swarmed the Guardian Host and tore into them with tooth and claw.

Aenaria hefted her hoplon shield and smashed another winged creature from her path. The enchanted, double-edged spear in her grip flashed from her person and struck through several of the furies’ bones as it fell. Blood sprayed from the wound as she tore her spear free in time to twirl around a Bloodthirster’s hacking blow as it swept down upon her. She could not avoid the Greater Demon’s bulk, however, and felt the thing’s iron plated knee sink into her chest as it made to crush her into the Gates of Sorrow.

A combination of raven hair and snow-white wings suddenly assaulted the Greater Demon during its descent. The beast’s twin axes whirled around its sinewy wings and bright arcs of blood fell across the blood mist in the air. Aenaria could only glimpse slivers of quicksilver shining in her eyes and the screams of the ferocious creature attempting to slay her. One moment, she was flung toward the earth as if a meteor. In the next, pieces of red-skinned gore rained down upon her and splattered her with black blood.

A momentous force slammed into Aenaria’s left flank and pulled her back into the skies. Nessana held her in one arm, the other holding a great infernal blade that pulsed with emerald light. The dark-skinned angel smiled down upon Aenaria before she released her hold and sliced through a throng of furies on route to intercept her. Determined to follow, Aenaria beat her wings furiously and entered back into the fray.

Nessana thundered from scant feet above her. “Our forces are doing well! Khorne’s talons cannot find purchase on the battlements!”

“Our fortunes are good in the air, at least.” Aenaria retorted. “I dare not look upon the battle on the ground. I pray that I sound less cowardly when I slay another of Khorne’s champions!”

“A mortal interest!” Nessana laughed. Her sword beheaded two furies in one sweep. “For you, at least. Your last attempt did not seem so successful!”

Despite herself, Aenaria snorted with brazen laughter as she threw her demonic spear through the skies. The double bladed weapon plunged through the back of another Bloodthirster that wore no armor. With a simple pull of her mind, the weapon unhinged itself from Khornate flesh and flew back into the hand of its owner. She twirled in the same moment and slammed her shield into the teeth of another frenzied winged creature.

Her laughter went silent as a shrill, keening wail echoed across the entirety of the battlefield.

A gathering of a hundred angels began to swarm beneath the pair of Guardians. Nessana descended through the battle to join them. “The Horn of the Demoness. She calls for reinforcements on the ground.”

Aenaria nose-dived into the circling formation of Guardians, formed in an impenetrable wall of shields and swords that battered away all the manifestations of malice that attempted to break it apart. Others valiantly risked one of their endless lives to ensure that no Bloodthirster could break through the aerial Cantabrian circle. The Demoness’ Horn sounded another time and the impregnable mass of immortal flesh moved toward its source.

The ground battle was worse than even Aenaria had anticipated. On the flanks, the mortal ranks of the Forlorn City managed a decent fight against minions of Khorne. Their numbers were many and their valiance was unquestionable, but it was in the center of the battle that their courage counted for nothing. Amidst countless dead, her Demoness fought alone against the relentless tides of Khorne. The enemy had deployed a great number of their champions, war beasts, and shock cavalry in order to break through the center ranks of the Forlorn City. They had been so successful that Nyst’s legions had been overwhelmed and routed prematurely in mass.

Nyst required her Guardians to shore up the breach in her lines while her rank-and-file reorganized.

The Guardians descended upon the battlefield in practiced discipline and great numbers. In perfect ranks, they locked shields over mounds of their own dead and advanced their phalanx into the teeth of the enemy. Others simply descended atop their foes and cleaved a bloody path through the throngs of Khornate Heralds and Chariots. Aenaria caught a quick glimpse of Nessana landing behind the enemy lines before she landed at the fore of the Guardian phalanx.

The Chosen of the Demoness’ shield came up in sync with a hundred others to blunt a collision charge of Bloodletters mounted atop iron-and-brass clad steeds. A hundred spears thrust forward in the blink of an eye. Khornate riders became speared and thrown from their mounts with precise strikes. A dozen of the brass beasts fell beneath the thrust of a dozen spears for each. Others crashed through the phalanx, crumpled shields, armor, and flesh beneath their hooves as they gored others and wreaked havoc.

One courageous Herald of Khorne leapt from his Juggernaut and landed with his full weight upon Aenaria’s shield. Upon seeing their commander’s fearless act of bloodlust, Bloodletters on foot sounded their war horns and crashed into the ranks of the angelic Guardians.

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Aenaria thundered a defiant cry as the Herald of Khorne crashed against her shield with it’s all of its weight. Despite her human strength, her muscles waned and she fell to her knees. The Hoplon shield in her grip became pinned to the blood-slathered earth and she desperately hunkered beneath it’s weight to avoid the pressing mass of a thousand seething blades cutting at the phalanx. She hefted her spear into an overhead grip, shattered through the Herald of Khorne’s spine with a single lance through the small of the foe’s spinal chord.

As the Demoness’ Chosen made to remove her weapon, several Bloodletters charged into her kneeling form. Their gazes locked eye-level with the standing chosen, their hooves scrabbled over Aenaria’s shield as it she raised it over her body. The Daemons leapt from the hoplon shield and onto the waiting spears from her comrades that caught them in mid-jump. Blood rained upon her shield from the speared corpses from where they dangled mere feet above her.

Aenaria’s sisters waited until she rolled onto her feet before they discarded the bodies. Other Chosen had swarmed around her in order to protect the weakened gap in the phalanx. Even now, they fought ferociously on the frontlines, traded ten blows for every one that a minion of Khorne could manage to land.

“Sisters and brothers!” Aenaria bellowed over the cacophony of battle. She shouldered her way into the front ranks. “Wipe this filth from our realm! To your master!”

All Aenaria could see were the quick-silver flash of spear shafts and great swords in the malestrom she had entered. In her grip, the double bladed spear tore through guts and rent through armor with every thrust. It ripped away the innards of demonic fiends with every reversed arc. Her inhuman strength allowed her to wield the great spear as if she used two hands. The weapon spun and parried and whirled around her back to cleave away an unsuspecting foe’s head.

Hours passed, but they felt like fleeting minutes to Aenaria. Despite herself, after she killed her twentieth Bloodletter, she realized that her arms ached sorely from overuse. Yet the effort had not been in vain. The phalanx proved implacable in its advance, in spite of the number of chosen fated to die in the struggle. Kindred spirits that Aenaria had known for decades, she had seen split open and crushed to pulp beneath the Khornate meatgrinder.

We will arise again, one day… and celebrate our eternal victory over this nemesis!

By the time Aenaria and the first ranks of the Chosen had reached the Demoness, their master had already cleared a great path through the hordes of the Blood God. Aenaria marvelled at the sight of Nyst. Her alien form glistened with sweat, her veins thick and oily on her skin, her armor dented and rent in a hundred places, decorated with the viscera of her enemies.

Nyst smiled without looking. Two of her relic blades flashed from her person and cleaved through a Skull Cannon. “Ah, my Chosen. My heart was filled with woe that you may have fallen before your time. I still have need of you, you know?”

Aenaria slammed her fist against her chest plate. Dozens of Chosen shouted their war cries as they advanced past her. “I am here ever to serve by your side, mistress.”

Nyst quirked a grim smirk. “I have a quest for you, my chosen. I have looked into the skeins of the future. I desire you to return to the forlorn city and prepare a second warhost. You will not be coming to reinforce the Gates of Sorrow, but instead I order you to help the Prophet Mirathir.”

“Mistress?” Aenaria would have bawked, if she were not in the moment of spearing another Bloodletter through the eye. “What about the battle?”

Nyst spared her a fleeting glance and winked mischievously. “I shall take control of this chaos. Do as I bid, immediately.”

Aenaria rested her spear on her shoulder and bowed her head reverently. “Your bidding, eternal, mistress. I shall do as you command.”

Nyst replied. “I also have one more request before you take flight. A special… ambassador of another realm desires my ear for a time. Please, indulge him before you go. You may find him in the Chamber of the Infinite within my palace.”

“Of course,” Aenaria said. “At once, your grace.”

Aenaria unfurled her ebon wings and beat them furiously until she soared into the crimson skies once again. The aerial battle above the Gates of Sorrow was still frantic and relentless, but it was no longer her concern. She weaved elegantly through the fighting, toward the endless labyrinth of the Forlorn City in the distance.

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The gateway into the Chamber of the Infinite was thrown backward with a resounding peal of thunder. Silence pervaded these hallow corridors like it were the stuff of the void itself. Robed mortals dressed in ebony robes blended into the shadows, barely visible as they flitted forward to receive Aenaria’s weapon and shield. It required several of them to hold each, but to their credit, they managed their task. The Angelic Guardian strode through inky darkness beyond the gateway into the chamber proper.

The chamber was encompassed in all-consuming shadow, broken only by runes that pulsed into light around her feet. They forged a broken trail through the darkness until she reached the first of the braziers. Aenaria snapped her fingers and purplish-crimson light blossomed from crevices carved into the emerald walls. Their presence was enough only to light the area surrounding her and nothing beyond.

An ominous voice echoed from beyond the veil of darkness. It dripped with revulsion and… unnatural properties. “Ah, the ambassador of the Forlorn City, sent on errand by the Matriach herself… Come closer, creature.”

Aenaria strode forward without fear. She knew how fearsome an opponent she must have looked. Her armor was slashed open and dented in a hundred places and she was covered from head to toe in viscera.

Larger runes lit up beneath her metallic boots as she neared the center of the chamber. The infernal characters pulsated with a thrilling power that Aenaria found intoxicating. Her emotions were second to the whims of her master, however, and she reigned them in deep within herself. Suddenly, more braziers blazed into light around the broad chamber until it bathed in the dark energies of the immaterium.

The Chamber of the Infinite was Raven Prophet Mirathir’s favorite scrying chamber, Aenaria knew. The eldar kept abreast of all events that spanned the Marathan Sector from this quaint little room. The chamber was a massive dome that blotted out every glimpse of sunlight. The light from the braziers reflected off the crystal ceiling with a brilliant light that made even her sigh in awe. The room was empty, save for a dozen massive thrones that flanked a raised dais meant for the Prophet’s scrying attempts.

Upon one of those thrones was a Greater Demon of Tzeentch, marked for its avian features, multicolored feathers, and white robe. In one hand it held a staff that tapped impatiently against the chamber floor and in the other was a great crystal ball that swirled with condensed energies. The servant of Tzeentch observed Aenaria with a disturbing disquiet, almost as if looking upon a mere rodent of interest.

The Greater Demon chortled. “So this is what your Mistress passes as a Greater Servant? Somewhat smaller than I suspected. In my experience, the smaller the creature, the more irritating the bite.”

Aenaria laughed at the Demon’s jest. She said as she approached. “Wise words. That is a lesson that minions of Khorne are still learning. Much to their frustration.”

“Tazaryn.” The Greater Demon replied. “You may know me be such a name. Come, let us discuss the future. Take a seat.”

Aenaria flew onto a throne and perched herself upon it. The Guardian extended her hand in an indication that Tazaryn explain himself. “Tazaryn. You desired audience with my mistress? Has your God sent you?”

Tazaryn flexed his mighty wings. He rasped. “I arrived at your realm of my own accord. Though at the behest of another and to represent the interest of my patron. I have an offer for your mistress, brave Aenaria.”

Aenaria smirked. “I admire your politeness, dear Tazaryn, but I must ask that you come to your point quickly. The Forlorn City is in the midst of a war.”

“Allow me to regale you with a little prophecy.” Tazaryn held his crystal ball toward Aenaria. The demon quirked its avian-like head to one side in askance. Aenaria reluctantly nodded her consent. “Good, good… The Blood-Tide howls like a gale – an all-consuming hurricane that shall annihilate the immortal host gathered against it. The golden spires of the Abyssal Palace shall be torn asunder and the Forlorn City shall be sacked. One endless night of bloody and endless macabre torture shall the denizens of this realm know.”

“Sacked?” Aenaria rose from her seat, her veins thick on her skin from seething anger. “To be sacked is to be conquered for a day! It is unacceptable! You dare bring this news? You must have brought some twisted scheme with you to stop it?”

Tazaryn droned. “The Forlorn City shall be sacked – not conquered. One endless night of bloody and endless macabre torture shall the denizens of this realm know. Countless souls lost to the thirst of the Blood God.”

Aenaria gritted her teeth. “What can be done?”

Tazaryn put away his crystal ball as he replied, “An alliance must be spun between the legions of the Changer and that of the Forlorn City. Fear not, Aenaria, for your master does have an unlikely ally hiding in the shadows. One that seeks to come to her aid from the abyss.”

“Let me guess.” Aenaria said. “Such an ally would be you? Do not make me laugh.”

A hint of knowledge glinted in the Greater Demon’s eye. Tazaryn cackled maniacally. “A great Demoness of a once proud kingdom. One who your mistress believes is long gone from the immaterium. Hidden away in the Crystal Labyrinth, she possesses legions at her back, waiting to be unleashed.”

Aenaria gasped. Realization quickly dawned on her. “That is… impossible.”

The immaterium began to shift and transform around the chamber as Tazaryn meant to vanish from the Forlorn City. Aenaria cloaked herself with her ebon wings from the ethereal energies of the Crystal Labyrinth. As his body became ethereal, he screamed over the howling winds of the warp as they began to take him.

Tazaryn said. “Tell your mistress, that power can either be shared in the coming alliance or Bazariah will take back what is hers!”

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The courtyards of the Abyssal Fortress brimmed with a second army of immortals. Aenaria overlooked the assembly from the hundred stair that zig-zagged from the inner sanctums of the palace and into the skies. The chamber of the infinite and her master’s throne vault loomed over her as if the shadow of an incomprehensibly large mountain. The golden spires transformed into limestone peaks that glittered in the sun. That jutted from the throne chamber as if the points of a magnificent crown.

Hundreds of Guardians arrayed themselves in formation beside their mortal worshippers. Together, they proved a glorious spectacle in all of their furled wings, infernal armor, and lavish robes. The angelic host presented golden shields, interlocked into an impregnable wall while their demonic weapons rested upon their shoulders. The mortals could only bear one weapon, such was befitting of their status. None would ever hold the sacred shield unless proven in battle, endurance, and faith.

An ancient pride burst in Aenaria’s heart at the sight of her kin rallied and ready for war. For one fleeting moment, she had almost forgotten about Tazaryn and his dire prophecy. Strange enough, her thoughts became more concerned with the Raven Prophet’s plight with every passing hour. What task had Nyst bestowed upon Mirathir? What mission could be so important as to warrant an invasion into the mortal plane?

Despite her centuries of wisdom and experience on grim battlefields, Aenaria had only seen the Forlorn City embark upon one venture into the mortal world. Unfortunately, she had not been there to witness Bazariah’s fall. Aenaria had heard the stories, however, and knew the fighting had been gruesome and chaotic.

The Greater Demons beneath Bazariah’s heel were a different breed altogether from the angelic guardians. Nothing less than cunning beasts. Whatever vision of hell they were spawned from, Aenaria knew not. Bazariah was always known as a secretive creationist and breeder.

Aenaria hawked and spat. “Good riddance.” She could only hope that Nyst would discover some treacherous flaw in Tazaryn’s prophecy. If that proved to be the case, Aenaria would be the one to plant her spear through his all-seeing-eye.

A great clamor arose from beyond the fortress walls. Aenaria snapped herself from her reverie and looked to the heavenly palace gates as they were thrown open. The Demoness emerged from a crowd of vaunted voices and weapons being clashed on shields. In spite of the hero’s welcome, Nyst looked far from pleased, and stormed across the courtyard toward the hundred stair. Nyst’s pristine armor was marred completely with the blood and viscera of her foes. Even so, joy resounded in Aenaria’s heart to discover that the four demon-relic swords remained whole and intact.

Even a Demoness could perish by those swords. Aenaria thought. Such weapons were forged for true Gods, not the puppets that rule in their stead.

“Greetings, master.” Aenaria banished the thought as Nyst began her climb up the hundred stair. “I have conversed with our mysterious ambassador as you requested.”

“Not here.” Nyst shook her head. The uncountable fangs in her maw were bared in a vicious snarl. “Walk with me back into the chamber of the infinite.”

Nyst replied once they reached the throne vault. Her voice became caustic poison upon Aenaria’s ears. “How is she alive?”

Aenaria shrugged. “Tazaryn mentioned that Bazariah resides somewhere in the Crystal Labyrinth. She regains her strength and an army at her back whilst we spend our own fighting off a petty invasion.”

“Interesting.” Nyst muttered as the throne doors closed shut behind them. “The Crystalline Labyrinth? I have served the Great Changer, many centuries ago, before I realized that creating your own destiny is so much more fun than having someone else doing it for you. I witnessed her premature fall into ruin, myself. She was always masterful in her use of sorcery, she used her spells to utterly decimate any that stood before her. Can you believe what felled her in the end? A simple overcharge of the immaterium. When she channeled her last spell – crack! Her body was immolated in a blinding flash, but she was too tough. Not even that had ended her reign. In the end, I was forced to eliminate her escape route. I rescued Mirathir from the claws of death and ended an entire invasion by myself.”

Aenaria could not conceal the shame written on her face. “Very heroic, your majesty.”

Nyst clucked her tongue empathetically. She gave Aenaria a sideward gaze that hinted of slyness. “Still reprimanding yourself because you were not there? My loyal little angel, you can never be everywhere at once.” She sighed irritably. “What is the matter now?”

“Demoness,” Aenaria fell onto one knee, a fist clashed against her blood-caked breastplate. “I beg you, should you desire to fight Bazariah, I would be by your side. Do not send me away on the eve of the most pivotal battle in our realm’s history.”

Nyst approached her throne and perched herself upon it. The four relic swords were thrust into their scabbards carved into the arm rests. The Demoness planted one hand firmly on her knee and the other three on the hilts of her blades. “You and Mirathir are of one mind in your stubbornness. Once your mind focuses one aspect of something you deem important, you grow this peculiar and humorous obsession. Even in my infinite wisdom, I can only reveal the other paths that you cannot discover.” Nyst’s lips curved into a genuine, pleased smile. “I admire your obsession, it shall not only serve my ambitions, but fuel your own.”

Nyst continued. “Bazariah will not become intimidated by an army of Guardians. She understands how you will fight and more importantly, your weaknesses. Mirathir could use your talents to a greater effect. Have you ever raided in the mortal plane?”

“No.” Aenaria said.

“Hah!” Nyst barked. “What mortal world is safe from our reach? Can you name a Greater Demon that has never spilled the blood of the alien? Leave my sight, Aenaria, and do not return until you bring news of victory. Do not concern yourself too much with my wellbeing, I have no intention of fighting Bazariah.”

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The command center was a claustrophobic cell with an appearance of a prison warden’s staging area rather than a planetary head quarters. Mirathir tread gingerly over a metallic floor covered in dense wiring that writhed its way into every crevice. The hologram projector in the center of the small chamber hummed as it revealed the planet Tarmathon IV. A dozen different emblems and markers pulsed across her surface. The floating, transparent globe was surrounded on all sides by servitor-manned cognitor stations. None of them paid Mirathir or her entourage of Sorcerers any heed as they crowded themselves around the projector.

“I have gleamed the future.” Aitan, a dark-skinned apprentice of some repute, gestured toward a crimson marker that pulsed on Tarmathon’s ancient and ruined capital. “I am aware that our mistress has witnessed the portents as well? The Tau Empire are mere days away from invading our plantary stronghold. The old Imperial capital should be considered as one of their potential deployment zones.”

Mirathir smirked. “True enough, Aitan. None of our strongholds are within reach of the old capital. The Tau Empire could deploy their forces without fear of much reproach. Unless, of course, we mobilized an army with the task of contesting Shailon in mind.”

“Too much risk.” Illyia replied. The young sorceress crossed her arms beneath her chest. Her full lips were creased in a frown. “Maintaining sufficient supply routes could prove bothersome, if what I’ve heard about the Tau Empire is true. That does not even address the issue of potential loss, should that display of raw force be met with overwhelming firepower and destroyed.”

“What do you suggest then, Illyia?” Mirathir touched upon the hologram and the entire planet transformed into the ruined capital of Shailon.

“Raven Prophet,” Illyia intoned. “Allow the Tau their deployment and let them attempt to claim our fortresses. Our forces shall certainly outnumber their own by a vast margin. Once the aliens commit themselves to three or four sieges, we can then mobilize from our hidden strongholds and take the enemy by surprise.”

Aelius the elder dismissed Illyia with a wave. “Fooling the Tau into thinking that we are weakened will require much sacrifice. Defeating them through your strategy could well mean losing those fortresses entirely.” Aelius shifted his gaze to Mirathir. “You must not underestimate your opponent, Mirathir, the Tau Empire have won victories against more unfavorable odds.”

Decimus added. “Whose to say that the xenos won’t deploy anywhere else? Or will not assault our strongholds directly from orbit?”

“Foolish question.” Mirathir scoffed. “Our orbital batteries will give them enough problems, let alone them attempting to fall right on our heads. And our numbers? We would massacre them piecemeal.”

Decimus added more scoldingly. “Then that leaves only one question unanswered: how do you intend to match the Tau Empire’s firepower? You cannot hope to triumph because of numbers alone. I despise having to play Devil’s Advocate for every strategic plan-“

Mirathir’s eyes turned to slits. “Then do not. You are trying my patience.”

“But we could use stalwart allies.” Decimus continued. “A pity that the siege of Tyrannus has undone so many years of diplomacy. As the ancients used to say, when the war is over, make alliances.”

Aelius inclined his head agreement. “Decimus speaks the truth, my lady.”

Illyia placed a hand over her heart as she said, “I have confidence that you can win this war, Raven Prophet. I only doubt that you will be victorious in the way that you intend to. There are still lingering strands on the skein that can be tied to our own.”

Aitan said. “Shall I commune with the warp?”

“Unnecessary,” Mirathir replied. “I shall appeal to our Demoness for aid and to those whom I desire be forgotten from your minds. I sincerely doubt that Captain Tyrioc would arrive to our rescue after his humiliation. He suffered much at the hands of Tyrannus’ Imperial forces after Nyst took her premature leave of the battle.”

An elegant, ethereal voice originated from behind Mirathir, by the entrance into the command center. “Perhaps this Captain will listen to the whispers of his patron?”

Mirathir recognized such a voice immediately and spared a long glance over her shoulder. “Aenaria?” She said more casually then she would have liked. “What dire news has brought you here?”

“So,” Aenaria furled her ebon wings around herself to avoid catching them on stray wires. She approached the hologram map and gazed into the image for long moments, tantalized. “A mortal world?” She answered Mirathir without looking at her. “Important matters bring me to Tarmathon IV, Raven Prophet, but for your ears alone.”

“Come,” Mirathir smiled warmly. “I would gladly show you Tarmathon IV then spend another moment in this pit. Everyone else, get out of my sight!”

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Enter the Tau!:grin:
Chapter Three​

The cabin room 36-01 was one of the higher quality infantry quarters provided by the Kor. The barracks had been designed with the air caste crew in mind. One could tell by the lavish furnishings that decorated the sleek white metallic sheen that dominated the room. Two suits of Fire Warrior armor were locked into their hover-stands beside bunk beds. Dataslates and monitors cluttered a long desk pinned against the far wall.

Shas’la T’au M’yen Mal’caor watched the empty world beyond the viewport. Legends spread amongst the Fire Caste about the great battle that happened on Aloh Fio, the ‘Earth of Cold Winds’. The Gue’la of the Imperium knew the planet as Tarmathon IV and had abandoned it long ago as a cursed world. An icy smile crossed M’yen’s pallid cobalt skin at the thought. As he continued to polish his pulse blaster from his bunk bed, he imagined what the surface of the planet was like those ten years ago.

An empty city, void of everything except blasted ferrocrete and the lifeblood of shas and gue’la alike. The perfect ground to draw an enemy into the waiting ambush of the Kauyon or slay them outright with the mont’ka. Much of the fighting would take place at close quarters, building by building.

What was he doing? These visions of war and hunger for honor and glory were childish notions. They had no place in a shas’la’s thoughts. There was only the Tau’va. Only the Greater Good.

“Beautiful world, M’yen?” Something malicious was hidden behind Shas’la Or’es’ voice as he made to sit down at the desk. “The graves of countless thousands are buried somewhere down there. The remnants of the last Tau Expedition are scattered across all of that green earth. To think that we could be next… excited yet?”

M’yen laughed. “Ever pessimistic, Or’es. Whatever calamity has transpired on Aloh Fio, it appears that the worst has passed. There’s only gue’la left for us to kill now. I am thankful that is all we will have to face.”

Or’es swept aside digital text upon the hologram monitor. “You won’t be so enthusiastic when you hear about this! Shas’ui Re’Shi has just messaged us. Breacher Team Shadow Hunter is being deployed in the first wave.”

“Ethereal’s blood.” M’yen felt a slight tremor in his heart. “The first wave?”

Or’es continued. “That is not all. Shadow Hunter is deploying with three other Breacher Teams alongside an Infiltration Cadre on a special assignment. It seems that we will be deployed behind enemy lines… the target is a concealed gue’la outpost. The operation will be part of a larger offensive, but the details will be discussed next briefing.”

M’yen shrugged his shoulders. “I cannot tell if this is supposed to be good news or ill. On one hand, we are taken off the frontlines.”

Or’es finished. “And on the other we’re being asked to infiltrate enemy lines.”

M’yen glanced at the armor beside his bed and took in the sight of its onyx complexion. The only hint of color that betrayed it’s presence whilst in shadows was the soft glow of the Breacher helmet lenses and the white shoulder pad emblazoned with the Tau Empire’s icon. That sturdy piece of equipment had seen him through many gruesome combats.

He wondered how long it would be before it was finally broken open.

Two Days Later

“Greetings, M’yen.” Shas’ui J’karra said as four Earth Caste Members worked diligently to seal her into her bulky XV25 Stealth Battlesuit. The wane crimson light from the hangar bay’s ceiling made her lock of fiery red hair burn ever brighter. She was young, around M’yen’s age and beautiful, in spite of a pair of nasty scars that criss-crossed along her face. “I heard your team will be operating with my own. Are you ready for deployment?”

“Greetings, shas’ui.” M’yen stepped to attention, his armor making his footfalls resound across the Orca’s hangar bay. His helmet cradled in his arm, his gaze picked up subtle readings from J’karra’s intentful stare. She was interested in him. “I am ready to get on the ground and do what I was trained to do.”

“Good.” J’karra picked herself up from her kneeling position. The stealth suit gave her an appearance of a mobile tank. She tested the weight of her fusion blaster in her grip and smiled at the Earth Caste technicians. They quickly moved on to the next shas’la. “I cannot vouch for what will happen on the ground. Despite the confidence of our commanders, our intelligence knows so little about our enemy on Aloh Fio.

“One would think that the victors of a four-way war would require more analysis rather than overestimation. But our leadership will hear none of that discussion. They believe the Tau Empire is destined to take Aloh Fio without much of a fight. Once we deploy behind enemy lines, we must protect one another as if we were all bonded by the Talissera.”

Shas’ui Re’shi quipped from behind M’yen. “Occupying my shas’la with more of your doubts, Shas’ui J’karra?” The aged veteran had a suspicious and unwelcoming look on his face.

J’karra glared at Re’shi. “I simply advise caution and a supportive attitude. Though I understand why you Breacher Teams may frown on the idea. Each of you are too hot blooded for your own good. M’yen seems the wisest of your group, so perhaps he will listen and save some lives? But I digress, I will not degrade myself to petty argument. I wish you luck, Shas’ui.” At that, J’karra turned and vanished deeper into the Orca transport.

Re’shi shifted his gaze to Myen. He chastised, “Do not listen to J’karra and her cautious tactics, Myen. We are Breachers, the first in the fight and the first to die. There can be no room for hesitation on the battlefield if you truly value your life. Follow my orders and you will be fine.”

M’yen nodded. “Of course, Re’shi.”

The Shas’ui smiled. “Join your team, shas’la.”

Another Shas’ui organized the Breacher Teams further within the dropship. “Everyone, take your seats! Place your weapons into their lockers and strap yourselves in. Trust me, you do not want to be unsecured when we enter atmosphere. Breacher Team Shadow Hunter on the far left! Breacher Team Untamed Hunter in the center! Breacher Team Patient Hunter in the far right!”

Ro’va called out. “Look who the ethereals decreed join us. Greetings, M’yen.”

“Good morning, M’yen.” Tel’kyse said enthusiastically. She was already secured in her harness and polished a pulse pistol. “You’re late. You aren’t sick with nerves are you?”

“Are you talking about M’yen?” Or’es arched a brow. “Veteran of half a dozen battles?”

Tel’kyse shrugged. “Sometimes our fears can catch up with us. I did not mean any disrespect.”

M’yen sat himself down between Tel’kyse and Ro’va. He pulled down his safety harness. “I’m fine. Our enemies will not be after the Rotaa, however.”

Eldi slammed on his helmet. “There is no need for nerves. Command does not expect we’ll face much trouble. Just another trial by fire in my eyes. Another test.”

Re’shi joined Breacher Team Shadow Hunter. “We shall soon uncover the truth of that, Eldi. But it is bad habit to be so overconfident. Treat this mission as you would any other. This operation is part of the first phase of our invasion. If it were not important, then we would not be asked to accomplish it. Understood, shas’la?”

The Fire Warriors intoned as one. “Understood, Shas’ui.”

Re’shi nodded, satisfied. “Then prepare yourselves accordingly.”


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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
“Helmets on!” Re’shi thundered over the roar of the Orca transport’s engines. The shas’ui of Shadow Hunter locked his helm lenses onto the holographic image provided by a nearby data drone. “Be advised, shas’la, one Rai’kor until atmosphere entry. Brace yourselves, the journey to our deployment zone could get rough.”

The fire warriors strapped into their seats reached for their helms latched onto their weapon lockers. M’yen slammed on his ebony helm in the same moment a wave of turbulence slammed into the Orca. The world vanished beneath a dark filter that lingered for long moments. Crimson data soon streamed upward onto his screen as the lenses in his helmet powered on and provided real-time information on his surroundings. The rest of team Shadow Hunter and the interior of the Orca hangar bay flashed into brilliant life. M’yen assessed the vital life signs and thermal readings that his comrades possessed – and he knew they were also reading his own.

“Re’shi.” Tel’kyse spoke into Shadow Hunter’s personal communication link channel rather than shout over the roaring flames of an atmosphere being breached. “How many Orcas are being deployed on our mission?”

“Tel’kyse!” The Shas’ui scolded sharply. “How many times do I have to tell you? Remember your briefings! It could mean the difference between life or death.”

“Forgive me, shas’ui.” Tel’kyse muttered and M’yen was certain that beneath her helmet was a flustered expression. “But how many?”

“Two, precisely.” The shas’ui stated. “Ours and another carrying pathfinder and strike teams.”

“Ethereal’s blood,” Or’es moaned over the channel. “I am going to be sick! Can’t this pilot enter atmosphere any faster?”

Tel’kyse stretched out her open hand in offer. “Take my hand, Or’es. We’ll make it.”

Or’es nodded weakly, his trembling hand taking Tel’kyse’s own. “This will end soon… This will end soon…”

An explosion rocked the Orca transport so abruptly that M’yen scarcely had time to blink before swathes of the metallic interior imploded inwards. Shrapnel scythed through the chamber amidst a secondary explosion of rubble, acrid smoke, and blue gore. When the hangar bay halted its violent trembling and his vision clarified, it was only then that he saw that an inferno had broken loose. A gaping wound in the Orca gunship existed where several members of squad Patient Hunter had been seated. Survivors that had not been shredded screamed in agony as they were consumed by the licking flames.

One of the Shas’ui thundered over the chaos at a shas’la attempting to detach his harness. “Ye’Kais, stay in your harness! The Drones will put the fire out!”

If the Fire Warrior had heard the plea of his superior, then he did not deign to show it. Amidst the white-hot flames, Ye’Kais bellowed in agony as they charred his armor. With a solid click and whir of machinery, the safety harness came off of the shas’la. M’yen looked away before Ye’Kais was lifted into the air with such force that he became crushed into the ceiling. Maintenance Drones whirred by moments later and began to douse the flames with flames retardant chemicals.

The violent pressure of the atmosphere suddenly fell away from the Orca ship as it broke into the skies in a free fall. A sense of vertigo slammed M’yen squarely in the gut as thrusters blazed into life and slowed the descent. M’yen gazed into the crystal blue sky beyond the massive breach in the Orca’s flank, where a handful of Patient Hunter had once been. The remaining survivors of that squad remained in their harnasses, beside the pulverized corpses of their comrades.

“Out of my way!” J’karra’s voice echoed over the hissing of dying flames. A squadron of maintenance drones cleared from her battlesuit’s path. “My team, prepare for deployment.”

Several hatches in the Orca’s hangar bay detached their locking mechanisms and buckled open to allow a gust of whipping wind into the gunship. M’yen could scarcely see any of J’karra’s stealth team – their stealth camoflauge fields no doubt activated. One moment, there was only a glimmer of light against a transparent hexagonal field and in the next, the contained flames of jet packs blazed into life. Then almost as quickly as they had come, J’karra’s team had vanished onto the surface of Aloh Fio.


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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Thank you for the input, Treesnifer, I already gave one of the articles a read. Useful information to know for the future :), it'll probably take some practice to actually follow up on some of that stuff properly though. Still, it's good to know :grin:.

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
J’karra descended through the skies in the midst of a rainstorm, eagerly hurtled toward the verdant earth that rushed to meet her. As she fell through crystalline skies, through harmless rain clouds, the breathe was stolen from her lungs. A great canopy of a temperate forest stretched across the horizon for miles on end, heaved upwards in some places by great mountains and rolling hills. The tongues of vast rivers snaked through the mystic wilderness, reflecting the rays of the midday sun off of their placid waters. The sight was such a striking contrast to the arid plains that she had known all of her life on the Sept World of Tau.

Aloh Fio was truly a great beauty to behold.

“Right… Time to execute.” J’karra muttered. Despite the protective enclosure that her battlesuit provided, she could hear the wind howl all around her. She felt the untamed gust weather against her nano-crystalline hide. “All squad members, initiate thruster sequence! We do not want to be in free fall when we break through the forest canopy.”

Ve’sa confirmed. “Copy, J’karra.”

Doran said. “Affirmative, shas’ui.”

Elan replied. “Understood, shas’ui.”

The jump pack integrated into J’karra’s XV25 Stealth Suit blazed into life, sapphire flames roared from her back and brought her to a jarring slowdown in her descent. Data rapidly scrolled across her visor as her battle suit’s internal systems adjusted its calculations for the safest landing. She curled the battle suit’s arms around her faceplate as she hammered legs first into the thick forest canopy. Such was her momentum that thick branches shattered like so many flimsy twigs, each with enough force to hit J’karra with a dizzying impact. She shut her eyes against the rough landing but for a moment and when she snapped them open again, her hooves lightly touched upon Aloh Fio’s rain-soaked ground.

J’karra spared herself a moment to take in her surroundings as the flames of her jet pack fizzled into nothing. The local forest that she had landed in had taken on a sinister and primeval appearance throughout its centuries of growth. Lush grass that gazed her waist sprang up from every crevice beneath twisted trees, dominated here and there by groves of wild flowers and patches of moss. In the blink of an eye, she counted half a dozen birds whisking themselves through the canopy. Further into the depths of this alien world, strange beasts roared and growled.

J’karra whispered into her channel. “Stealth Team Cold Inception, report.”

Doran’s voice was the first to reappear over the comms. “Shas’ui? I have landed with Elan some Tor’lek from your position. The stealth drone is with us. We’ll follow your signal and come to you.”

“Shas’ui, I’m here.” A female’s voice broke the tranquil silence mere feet away. Another crimson and ebony stealth suit stomped through the brush into the clearing to join J’karra. “Ve’sa, reporting.”

“Very good,” J’karra managed to sound impressed. “Everyone has made the jump—“

The shas’ui was interrupted by a loud thundering sound that made the earth quake beneath her feet. A flock of birds scattered to the winds. J’karra looked up into the endless rain and through the canopy. The Orca gunship Team Cold Inception had deployed from was a small dot in the sky, but one rapidly growing as it neared the landing zone. Then, in a brilliant flash, she noticed what had caused the earlier explosion that had rocked the gunship and nearly killed everyone inside. Several fiery-golden lances of atomizing energy rent through the skies in an attempt to track the gunship.

J’karra said. Beneath her faceplate, she snarled at the energy lances that seared the sky. “Orbital cannon, they must have detected our presence when we were entering atmosphere. We were fortunate the gue’la only managed to graze us. Wherever that defensive emplacement is located should be our first objective.”

Ve’sa shrugged her stealth suit’s pauldrons. “And here I thought we would be hunting for the gue’la base for hours, at least.”

J’karra waved her hand in the direction of Elan and Doran as they rushed into the clearing. “The gue’la know little about tactics that require concealment. I knew it would not be long before we had our target.” She turned to the hovering hexagonal field that could only be seen due to her suit’s internal monitoring systems. “Drone, resume stealth field. Cold Inception, we have a perimeter to secure and a base to locate. I want to be the first stealth team on the objective. Let’s move out!”

The rain intensified as Cold Inception followed the resounding trail of the Orbital Cannon. Verdant grasses wilted as the land turned into fields of murk, festered with dense groves of flowers and cropping of great and ancient trees. J’karra found that she did not mind the muddy paths through the woodlands. In fact, she was mesmerized by her alien environment. She figured that she may as well enjoy the sights before any combats broke out and the inevitable bloodshed began to flow.

That train of thought did not last.

Elan suddenly fell on one knee at the head of the stealth team and raised a fist into the air. He said in a whisper thin voice. “J’karra, I have spotted movement. Forty Tor’leks to the left, in the clearing.”

J’karra wheeled around the other members of her team and knelt beside Elan. Her gaze followed the coordinates, forty Tor’leks to the left into a large clearing that at seemed odds in such a sprawling forest as this one. The resounding discharge of the orbital cannon shook the earth once again and this time J’karra could feel it rattle her teeth. It was then that she noticed a shadow flicker through the underbrush with reckless disregard. A gue’la male dressed in combat fatigues was on patrol by himself, marked from knuckles to shoulders in strange tattoos that made her eyes ache. Cradled in his grip was a standard las-gun and his face was hidden beneath a rebreather helmet. His flakk armor was too pristine, it had not been scarred or dirtied by combat.

“Hmph.” J’karra huffed. “Ve’sa, wheel around on the contact’s left flank. Doran, take the right. Do not engage. I want to know if he is alone.”

Ve’sa shifted her gaze to her superior. “And if he is not, shas’ui?”

J’karra said. “Wait for my order. I have seen this type of gue’la before. Their military invest heavily warp science. I know what they can do firsthand. We should approach with caution.”

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
J’karra continued to watch the lone gue’la wonder aimlessly through the forest as Ve’sa and Doran vanished on her flanks. Through the thick foliage, the human was the only presence that J’karra could detect herself. Yet the Shas’ui could not help but feel that there was something off-putting by the isolated warrior. She continued to observe with keen eyes through the her helm lenses as feedback came back from her other shas’la.

Ve’sa relayed through the comms. “I detect three other targets, shas’ui.”

Doran added. “Other targets confirmed, J’karra.”

J’karra grunted in satisfaction. “Any nearby structures that you can locate? We must be closing in on the facilities housing the orbital cannon.”

Ve’sa answered. “Affirmative. There is a minor bunker complex located a few dozen tor’lek’s from our position. It appears to have undergone concealment measures.”

Elan sighed. “A small outpost, then. Nothing of consequence.”

“I am not so certain.” J’karra replied. “These factors could indicate a subterranean facility. This could be what we are searching for. Even if the orbital cannon is not located near this particular bunker, they could still be connected in some way.”

Elan snickered over the comm. link. “Interesting theory. Only one way to find out, shas’ui.”

J’karra replied with another affirming grunt. “Ve’sa, Doran, proceed to engage located targets.”

Ve’sa and Doran intoned in unison. “Order confirmed, shas’ui. Engaging.”

Through the continuous patter of rainfall, abrupt staccato burst from invisible burst cannons stitched a path through the forest. The only remains of the cyan discharges were the tell-tale signs of hissing rain where water had touched super-heated energy and evaporated. Click-click-click. Click-click-click. The gue’la that J’karra had observed had no time to scream before he was shredded by the double-tap of Ve’sa’s weapon. The energy rounds tore through his fatigues like so much wet parchment. They exited through the other side of his body in burst of crimson mist. J’karra listened intently as she watched the carcass vanish into nearby shrubs. Click-click-click. Click-click-click.

Ve’sa was first to confirm her report. “All targets eliminated, Shas’ui.”

“Excellent work.” J’karra emerged into the clearing, Elan followed close behind her.

Ve’sa and Doran had spoken truthfully about the bunker complex. It was a small structure, no larger than one story and no wider than several dozen tor’leks. It had been created with the crude material the gue’la called ferrocrete and had undergone haphazard concealment modifications. The gue’la of Aloh Fio must have been primarily concerned with concealing the bunker from a distance and no closer. Her gaze assessed the strong metallic slab doors that barred them entry, however, and she contemplated on how best to remove it.

“Shas’la,” J’karra made her way toward the gate of the bunker. “Fall back into cover and assume combat positions.”

“J’karra,” Elan said. There was a note of concern in his voice. “Perhaps it is best to wait until the rest of the infiltration cadre and the Breacher Teams are on the ground?”

“Good point,” J’karra acknowledged. She halted just before the bunker complex and tapped her foot with impatience. “Do you see any points of observation on this structure? Strange, I do not have the nagging feeling that I am being watched.”

Ve’sa began to stomp off around the corner of the complex. “I’ll take a look around.”

The fire warrior had taken three steps forward before an ominous red light blinked into being atop of the bunker. J’karra only had time enough to blink and register the automated turret’s existence before the weapon spooled into life and unloaded a dozen shell casings in the blink of an eye. A frantic scream tore from Ve’sa’s throat for one fleeting millisecond before her body became a pincushion for a crude gue’la heavy stubber. Her stealth field evaporated in a wave of frazzled electricity and revealed her shattered battle suit, covered in blue gore and lying still upon the earth where it had strayed too close to the bunker.

“Back, Cold Inception! Back!” J’karra bellowed into the channel as the turret swiveled round to calculate her coordinates. She activated her jet pack, kicked the thruster in reverse, and glided backwards across the clearing back into the tree line. The fusion blaster in her hand kicked heavily, discharged a solid lance of sapphire toward the turret. She cursed herself as the blast narrowly missed its mark.

Elan and Dorn similarly utilized their jet packs and soared across the skies on trails of comet-fire.

“Damn, Ve’sa walked right into its sensors.” J’karra skidded back into dense foliage as her feet once again touched the rain-soaked earth. She deactivated her jump pack before she slammed back-first into a primeval tree.

Doran thundered. “Shas’ui, on your left flank! Another turret! Hidden in the underbrush!”

J’karra wheeled around to her right and squeezed the trigger of her fusion blaster on reflex. The area of dense shrubs that Doran had located detonated with a deafening crack and fiery explosion. The rain intensified and choked the flames. She heard similar explosions rock the earth around her, certainly Elan’s and Doran’s handy work as they eliminated targets before they could fire. Then suddenly another earth rattling boom shook the shas’ui to her very core. Another emerald lance of volatile energies shot upwards toward the sky.

“Don’t look now,” Elan quipped. “I think their bunker is opening!”

Siren wails mingled with the sound of tortured metal as the slab doors slid open. Beyond the gate, J’karra felt her pulse spike at the crude, alien obscenities being hurled into the air by at least two dozen soldiers. As the doors finally parted enough, more tattooed and ritually scarred gue’la poured from the crevice and into the clearing. Some protected themselves with the familiar flak armor that the Imperial Guard issued to its regiments. Others wore stranger, sleeker armor or charged out with nothing but their barrel chests to protect them against the xenos threat. J’karra’s calculating stare swept through them with one glance and counted several weapons of note: autocannons, stubbers, las-guns, and even hell-guns as the motley crew charged out with an air of caution.

Doran laughed. “I do not think they can see us. What are your orders, shas’ui?”

J’karra planted one foot firmly ahead of her body and unleashed another round of fusion blaster. Human heads craned in the direction of the noise and the brilliant flash of light. They promptly scattered the moment the first amongst them had his upper body obliterated by the blast. The second and third victims that remained behind him had half of their torso atomized and arm destroyed respectively.

J’karra gritted her teeth. “Engage.”

“Cold Inception to Unseen Moon, we are engaged by hostile forces. My drone is uploading our coordinates. Please, provide reinforcements. Up-linking predicted route to objective. Over.”
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