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Discussion Starter · #41 ·

M’yen unleashed another devastating barrage of his pulse blaster from where he laid on the hill just beyond the thorn bushes. The shot scythed through the gue’la’s torso in several places, each punctured wound bleeding profusely. His victim skidded onto his knees, his charge halted by the force, and collapsed onto his back. He shifted his aim onto another gue’la sniping at them from behind a nest of arched roots. He squeezed the trigger. The blast went wide and dissipated harmlessly against the bark. He dropped the pulse blaster on the ground, drew his pistol, and lined up another shot. A slew of hell-gun fire slithered up the hill towards him, but Or’es and Ro’va beside him combined their fire on the source until it halted.

Relax. Take a deep breath, exhale, and then…

“Tau’va!!!” M’yen pulled the trigger. He watched his victim’s head fly backwards in a spray of gore.

Tel’kyse shouted in the same moment a searing ball of golden energy darted over their heads. “Plasma gun, in the gorge, on the edge of the swamp!”

Ro’va pointed toward the field that M’yen was covering. “M’yen, is that your kill over there? Lying on his back in the swamp?”

“Yeah!” M’yen fired another discharge of his pulse pistol toward the gorge. The Plasma Gunner retreated after a bolt neatly slammed into the tree trunk beside his head. “What about it?”

“Ethereal’s blood, he’s getting back up again!” Ro’va took aim with his blaster and fired another round. The blast removed the left arm of the gue’la as he made to stand, but somehow, he found his feet none-the-less. The dismembered figure dropped his hellgun into the murky water, drew his pistol, and snapped off several shots as he charged.

“Gah!”A bolt connected with Or’es’ armor and drew fresh cyan-colored blood from his ribcage. He collapsed backwards onto the hill. “I’m hit!”

“Kill it!” Ro’va shouted. He fired several rounds into the charging gue’la. “Before it closes the distance!”

M’yen sucked in a breath in disbelief. He was uncertain as to whether the corpse he killed was anything near reality, as it became flayed and maimed from Ro’va’s unrelenting fire. By the time it reached the base of the hill, the gue’la appeared entirely unhindered by the weakness of the flesh and armor shorn from its bones. Then without a moment’s notice, he leveled his pulse pistol at the undead creature’s head and vaporized it with one round. The corpse clattered into the grassy hillside, lifeless.

Re’shi chuckled at their exasperated gasps of surprise. “What is the matter, Shas’la? Are you perturbed at the death of several stubborn gue’la?”

Or’es favored his ribcage. “Did you see that, Re’shi? That gue’la took over a dozen blaster rounds to take down! I could see his bones from where the muscle peeled away, and the bastard was still charging.”

Eldi called over the comms. “Hostile reinforcements, closing in! Looks like they are about to initiate a charge, Shas’ui!”

“However surprising, Or’es,” Re’shi chuckled. “I suggest you come to terms and redouble your efforts. Here come a hundred more of the same gue’la.”

The gue’la emerged from the surrounding swamp without a single cry and charged forward toward the Tau Empire’s lines with a speed that belied their bulk. M’yen’s gaze swept across the lowlands below and picked out hundreds of blurred outlines making progress through the un-crossable bog. What manner of creatures were these, that could defy nature so? A fusillade of hell-gun fire crisscrossed across the darkened skies, exchanged with the coiled whine of pulse fire across the entire frontline. Over the entire scene, he caught a glimpse of hexagonal fields soaring over the battlefield.

M’yen inhaled, exhaled, and began to snap off multiple shots into the midst of the twisted gue’la. One shot caught a walking corpse in the bicep and must have gnawed through a bone, since the hell-gun in his arms went limp. A second attempt blasted away the boot of another one, but it continued to drag itself toward the Tau Empire’s lines. M’yen ended his misery with an unerring headshot. Ro’va, Or’es, Tel’kyse, and Eldi swept an entire wave of gue’la off of their feet with a blinding, relentless fusillade. The remainder of Patient Hunter joined their fire with Shadow Hunter, and created a withering kill zone that melted enemies away by the score. And yet the horde came onward, dropped their ranged weapons in favor of roaring chainswords as they began to close the gap with their enemy.

M’yen quickly holstered his pistol and picked up the pulse blaster. In the same moment, a bullet-ridden corpse climbed the hillside and took a vicious swing at Ro’va. Ore’es obliterated him with a point-blank shot, but several more climbed over the lip of the hill and took his place. M’yen rolled aside to avoid becoming crushed beneath their boots. One of the gue’la noticed him, and broke away from the pack to leap on top of him. The combat knife in the gue’la’s grip flashed forward, but M’yen’s blaster dismembered his legs in one sweep. The gue’la toppled on top of him and drove his blade downward none-the-less, and made a deep incision through his armor around his waist.

M’yen ushered a shout that would terrify any living creature. With brutal force, he cracked the butt of his blaster into the gue’la’s chin with enough force to splinter bone. Blood seeped through his opponent’s mask, but otherwise he appeared unharmed by the pain. The gue’la re-seized the knife and made to disembowel him with a flick of his wrist.

One moment, the gue’la was poised to take M’yen’s life. A brutal uppercut of Re’shi’s knee into the corpse’s jaw sent him flying upwards the next. M’yen cried out in fresh agony as the combat knife slipped free of the wound. Re’shi leveled his pulse blaster toward the gue’la as it clattered onto the hillside and smeared its brain matter across the lush grass with a pull of the trigger.

Tel’kyse ducked beneath a whirring chainsword as she juked to the right. The bonding knife in her right hand impacted against a gue’la’s helmeted cranium, repeatedly, until the skull partially caved in from the force. The pulse pistol in her left hand made simultaneous reports, blasted a pair of armored figures off of Eldi, who shredded the weapon arm of a gue’la who had nearly ran him through. She leapt backward on a moment’s notice, allowing a chainsword to etch sparks out of her armor. She lashed out with a heavy kick and splintered another corpse’s leg into pieces.

Ro’va scrambled away from his attacker, and made the fatal mistake of attempting to parry a chainsword. The monomolecular teeth of the blade chewed through his bonding knife without effort and shredded his helm and the flesh beneath into gory shreds. M’yen watched the corpse drop with a shred of remorse and dispatched Ro’va’s murderer with a point-blank blaster round to the skull.

A dozen more gue’la this time climbed the hillside and joined the desperate fight. Was there even a point to killing them if there were so many? Suddenly, his thoughts only became filled with bringing as much of the foe down with him as possible. He held his finger down on the trigger and did not stop, even as the hill became nothing more than a gore soaked mess.



The earth quaked beneath him in protest of something incomprehensibly large landing upon it. M’yen gazed up through the endless haze of death to see towering machines of nano-crystalline armor descend from the breaking light of the sun. Their bright ochre and matte black armor was incredibly bulky, but their design lent them an air of grace and elegance that only an Ethereal could hope to match. Great jetpacks stemmed their rapid descent from atmosphere, and great weapons three-fold the size of an ordinary Tau unleashed their salvos and dispensed their charge cells. The XV8 Crisis Battlesuit squadrons looked upon the battlefield with squared helm-lenses, and crushed dozens of gue’la underfoot where they chose to land amongst them. The backwash of flames spread across the swamp like a roiling tide, consuming anything not armored in nano-crystal to the charred bone. Heavy plasma rifles burned through the cover of Birches and foliage without effort, incinerating anyone foolish enough to hide from the vigilant gaze of the XV8 teams.

M’yen could only gaze on, dumbfounded, as dozens of the Crisis Suits joined the fight against the gue’la advance. The instincts of the remaining gue’la on the hilltop told them to seek refuge. The beleaguered forces of the Tau Empire sent up a vaunted cheer as the humans broke and fled all at once, suddenly driven by a need of self-preservation.

“Unseen Moon to Patient Hunter, Shadow Hunter, and Cold Inception. Reinforcements have arrived. The way is clear to proceed with evacuation.”

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
What was this feeling nagging in the back of Ne’gath’s skull? Something that was far away from the dismaying cries of shame. Shame was a mortal burden. The daemonic did whatever possible to climb the hierarchy, to play the eternal game. There was no room for lamentation, for regret. Only for vengeance, and the repaying of debts owed.

Shame was a mortal burden. And that was something that the voice-that-commands knew all too well.

The voice-that-commands said from the shadows. “Failure? In all things, we have failed. Ne’gath, you disappoint me. You do not fight as if I had given you purpose! I bestowed upon you a name, O you who have remained nameless for centuries. Whose to take the blame for such catastrophies?”

Ne’gath sighed. This was already becoming tiresome. “I am, my lord.”

“Of course.” The voice-that-commands slinked out of the shadows, revealing his bright limestone robe that glimmered in the god rays. His face was hidden beneath a drawn hood and a wicked staff was gripped in his hand like a walking cane. “Someone must always pay the eternal price for failure. But I am curious, before I rob you of your name and take your soul… why did you remain here instead of fighting with your comrades?”

Ne’gath shrugged. “She said she could help.”

“Who?” The voice-that-commands asked, no doubt with an eyebrow arched.

“I am Valyena, daughter of the Daemoness.” Now it was Valyena’s turn to emerge out of the shadows. The voice-that-commands whirled around, the fluttering of his hood revealing surprise of the deepest kind.

Valyena pressed the barrel of her las-pistol to the voice-that-commands’ forehead and ejected his brains into the murky emerald waters.

“You see, one-who-is-named?” Valyena chuckled as the corpse vanished beneath the dirty tide. “I helped you.” She lifted her hands toward the sky and gestured around her. “Now you are free. We are all free.”

“Ne’gath is my name.” Ne’gath said. “You said that there were many that knew your name?”

“Mhm-hmm.” Valyena said. “You see, I promised them something very special in return for their loyalty and my timely delivery to my Daemoness. I am prepared to make you the same offer.”

“Then speak...” Ne’gath sighed. “Tell me of your pact.”

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Discussion Starter · #43 ·
Chapter Six

Aenaria soared over the earth, born aloft on raven wings that shimmered in the midday sun. This strange world… Tarmathon, Mirathir had called it, stretched out beneath her as if an endless, frozen sea. The dunes of the Aeretica Wastes long left behind, she flew over churning rivers and verdant, windswept valleys. It was a marvel that denied her entire logic. It was a breath of ingenuity that should never have come to pass. The immaterium that she had known all of her life was a roiling beast and this… this was almost as mind-bending to her as any other realm within the warp.

Aenaria glanced over her shoulder, into the heart of the Guardian host that ascended into the skies around her. A hundred angels beat their wings furiously, armored in daemonic plate that writhed with yawning jaws and wagging tongues. Each face was a rare beauty, some of them marred slightly by their daemonic features. She could not help but smile at the childlike wonderment in their gazes. It was strange to think that so many of her kind had never visited the mortal worlds. They were just as surprised as she was at the sight.

Several thousand boots churned across the valley beneath her and ran across the land like a blanket of shadow. They were joined by columns of mechanical creatures, things from small, bipedal creations to their towering Knight brethren. After witnessing the carnage at the Gates of Sorrow, Aenaria was anything but impressed. Yet such a miniscule display of power was Mirathir’s mere flexing of the fingers in another world. If the Raven Prophet so desired, she could summon an army beyond this world’s imagining and drown it in ceaseless bloodshed.

This army was only a fraction of the Raven Prophet’s power, but that was precisely what concerned Aenaria. What despairing vision had Mirathir seen that would still her ever-growing ambition? Did she desire nothing more than being a Prophet to the ascendant Demoness? Aenaria was created with the sole purpose to serve, a puppet whose mind was foreign to the concepts of ruling and unimaginable power. But even she could not fully rob herself of the thirst to ascend beyond her calling.

Yet against her greater judgement, Aenaria realized that there were few she trusted above the Raven Prophet. She had always carried herself as a loyal sort and followed Nyst around like a love-struck soul.

A clarion battle cry shook Aenaria from her brooding thoughts. She looked down upon the valley, but saw nothing more than the mortals marching over the swaying flowers below.

There was a sound akin to the washing flames of burning pitch and an unmistakable whine of something… mechanical. Aenaria glanced upward into the skies and noticed something approaching at an unbelievable speed. The object possessed a sleek, bright ochre metallic hide and was crafted into the shape of a broad fish. As it descended from the clouds overhead, the hidden weapons built into the machine’s hide stitched the air with traces of sapphire light.

“Disperse!” Aenaria bellowed. “Battle formation!”

Aenaria blinked and suddenly a dozen more of the flying machines blitzed through the skies amongst the Guardians. She beat her wings furiously and glided under one of them as it barrel-rolled between a pair of Guardians. The discharges of its ranged weaponry punctured through armor and flesh as if it were nothing. A handful of Guardians cried out in defiance as their wings and bodies were riddled with energy bolts and plummeted toward the valley below.

“They’re too quick!” One of the Guardians, Belisandra, cried out before she was smashed into a fine, gory paste along the wing of a flying fish.

Aenaria hurled her double-sided spear, then cursed as she missed her mark. She beckoned the weapon back toward her fingers. “Descend! Descend! Into the valley!”

The angelic host descended through the skies, toward the valley like a falling cloud. The strange alien crafts darted through the skies at breakneck speeds and barreled through the air for another pass. Aenaria ignored them, her unfurled wings slowed her rapid descent. It was only then that she realized that a battle was in the process of erupting across the land she so desperately sought haven in.

A wicked smile flashed on her lips as she commanded her angelic kin to attack.

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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
The battle for the Gates of Sorrow had devolved from a pitched battle into a desperate fight for survival. Nessana raised her blade and parried an overhead strike of a Bloodletter that swooped down upon the back of a Fury. Even as sparks leapt from the clashing blades, she whirled around and swept her claymore in a low arc. The movement tore through daemonic flesh without effort and disemboweled another minion of Khorne focused on other prey. She sensed another foe in her blind spot, charging directly for her, and leaned away from his unwieldy thrust. Nessana looped an arm around the upstart’s biceps and with all of her unnatural strength, hurled him over the one thousand foot drop awaiting beyond the Gates of Sorrow.

Across the myriad of battlements, battle was joined by hundreds of Guardians and the minions of Khorne. Nessana glanced up into the crimson skies, even as the blood rain continued to fall and saw her kin struggling to hold their ground in the aerial battle. Each Guardian had slain over a hundred immortal thralls of the Blood God by now, but Khorne’s legion were beyond number. For every several dozen Furies torn apart by anointed swords, seven angels were defiled and murdered by brutal Bloodthirsters.

An endless rain of corpses descended from the skies, falling into the maelstrom that was the thick of the ground battle. Inspired by their angelic overlords, the mortals had rallied against the Blood Tide and redoubled their efforts. Nessana watched the seething sea of living bodies and corpses on the ground below, noticed how the crimson tide was violently pushing everything not so obscenely colored back toward the gate.

“Bloodthirster!” Erien shouted over the cacophony of battle.

Nessana looked up as a long shadow eclipsed her and into the bestial gaze of the foe bearing down upon her.

Nessana beat her wings once. She flew around the crimson bulk of a mighty Bloodthirster, just as it crashed into the onyx-gold buttresses and battlements filled with a dozen angelic Guardians. The buttresses crumbled beneath the weight of the Greater servant of Khorne. Loose pieces were flung every-which way amongst the fifty-foot battlements with a violent swing of its battle axe.

Arianna ducked beneath the creature’s broad swing and through its hunched legs. She flicked her wrist and slashed the Bloodthirster’s nether-region and earned a frantic shriek of agony. Dibella glided through the blood rain after her, but maneuvered above her opponent and planted her blade directly into the daemon’s skull. The beast crashed backward amongst the tattered ruins of onyx-gold and blood-slathered corpses.

Dibella stood triumphant upon the beast’s bronze chest plate. She ripped her blade free and climbed down. “How much longer can we hold against this madness?”

Arianna shrugged. “It shan’t be long until the Daemoness withdraws us into the city proper. There’s no way our forces can continue to hold the gate in such a compromised position.”

Nessana swiped fresh blood from her eyes. “Damnable rain… Destiny has decreed we make it this far, sisters. That alone gives me confidence. The Daemoness believes that she can alleviate this plague from our beautiful city… let us pray that her wisdom will preserve us. Keep fighting!”

The baleful skies above bristled with the booming laughter of a malignant god, as it had been since the battle’s beginning. And yet as the words left Nessana’s mouth, something struck fear in that disembodied voice. Quaking laughter turned to battle cries of unfettered fury. The Blood God’s servants appeared to convulse from the thunderous pouring of outrage, possessed by a mixture of self-preservation and berserk violence. She sensed another presence on the air, for the atmosphere was thick with sorcerous power.

The blood rain had ceased.

Dibella drew in a sharp gasp. Her gaze was pointed toward the battle happening beyond the Gates of Sorrow. “What in all of Forlorn is that?”

Nessana shifted her gaze over the wall, toward the nexus of sapphire thunderhead clouds that swirled over the midst of the ground battle. Something changed in the atmosphere then. The crimson shade in the skies contorted and transformed into a drab mystical blue. It was almost as if the starless night had come for the first time to the Forlorn City. The impending darkness was broken only by erratic flashes of twisted lightning.

Arianna jabbed her blade at the traces of ether that wafted gently down from the skies. The ether enwrapped itself around the blade and coiled around her hand, harmless to the touch. “What new wickedness has sprung into our realm now?”

A great bolt of forked lightning descended from the nexus until it exploded amongst the Blood God’s legions. The fallout of the blast left an electrical storm that scoured away all life that it touched. There was another blinding flash of light and where once there were nothing but dead minions of Khorne, there were malformed horrors pouring from the storm. They fell upon the startled legions of Khorne with warp flame and talon, but did not attack the mortals of the Forlorn City. Nessana immediately recognized the way that their flesh writhed, shifted, and transformed.

Nessana said. “The servants of Tzeentch. What in all of the realms are they doing here? And it appears that they are on our side, for once.”

“Look!” Dibella pointed toward the center of the nexus. “Our Daemoness!”

Nessana did a quick double-take and certainly enough, a four-armed Daemon both beautiful and diabolical strode into the open. Nyst. Nessana unleashed a triumphant cry, suddenly piecing the mystery together. That cry became lodged in her throat at the emergence of what appeared to be Nyst’s twin. She appeared almost identical, but instead of bearing armor, she wore a simple white Colchis that exposed her left breast. A column of raven hair hid said breast and spilled onto the arms that wielded what appeared to be two of the Daemoness’ swords.

Arianna’s mouth went taut. “Tell me that what I gaze upon is only a mirage.”

“It is no mirage.” Nessana scowled. “The tyrant has returned.”

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Discussion Starter · #45 ·
Just wanted to update this thread on what's going on, as I haven't done so in a while. I apologize for my lack of updates recently, these are the final weeks of my last college semester before I graduate, so things have been a little hectic here.

Bleak Eternity is not dead!!! ^__^ I'm not sure when the next post will be up, but it is in the works as we speak. It won't be too much longer, god-emperor willing.

Be faithful, be vigilant, be strong:wink2:.

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Discussion Starter · #46 ·
The demonic energies of two warring gods eclipsed the Forlorn City’s eternal sun. Bazariah emerged from the searing rays of magical light, her mighty hooves crushing corpses scattered beyond the Gates of Sorrow. She sniffed the bloody mist that hung in the air as if a manifested plague and glanced skyward into the thick of the aerial combat. The onyx and gold spires of the Gates of Sorrow were awash in fresh blood, circled by vicious flocks of furies and bloodthirsters.

All around her, malformed horrors arrived through the warp gate in countless thousands. Bazariah noticed skins of pinkish and cobalt hues, feathers that when unfurled held rainbows on the wings of their masters. They fell upon the Blood God’s forces, which were already exasperated from intense conflict, and obliterated those too weak to withstand the onslaught.

Bazariah clucked her tongue and sighed irritably. “You have undergone some construction, Nyst. I do not remember these gates ever being here during my reign. You could have built them much closer to the actual city, it would do the citizens some good to see bloodshed once in a millennium.”

Nyst spared a moment to shrug before she waded into battle with half of her demonic swords. The Sword of Flames screamed and left an arc of fire wherever it cleaved through the air. Bloodletter’s caught in the blade’s trajectory screeched as they were reduced to ashes on the bloody wind. The Sword that claimed Souls echoed with mournful laughter as the obsidian blade found crimson flesh, imbuing itself with stolen life energies.

Bazariah observed Nyst shear through the crimson masses with faint interest. The way Nyst flexed her muscles and danced around a hundred blades. How she claimed the lives of the weak with gleeful reveling. In the end, she was not unlike Bazariah and could have been considered a twin, if Nyst possessed any refinement in her whatsoever. There could be no doubt, a clash between two such titans would have catastrophic effects for the Forlorn City.

Nyst truly believes that she rules here in my stead. She mistakes her reckless and limited wisdom for an iron fist. Be warned, my traitoress, for Tzeentch is not my only ally in this game.

“You believe your power impressive?” Bazariah planted one foot forward, crushing a towering shape-shifting creature halfway beneath her hoof. Her twin upper arms extended toward the heavens and her lower ones gripped each other by the wrists. The bruised energies of the warp seeped into her offered palms and channeled into her core. She yawned her fanged maw open to immense proportions and vomited a great fork of lightning.

Nyst glanced up from her fresh kill, each of her blades embedded in the defiled remains of her foes. The forked trail of lightning left a jagged trail where it flashed through the air. A fraction of the aerial battle blossomed into a blinding solar flare, followed by the remains of angelic guardians and furies falling from the skies.

Nyst clucked her tongue, unimpressed. “I would appreciate your efforts to stop killing my servants, Bazariah. If you pester them long enough, some of them may press me about destroying you.”

Bazariah charged into the thick of battle. The Sword of Bleak Eternity and Sword of Decimation wielded her grip with dizzying speed. She leapt into the midst of several juggernauts, her demonic strength easily buckling the iron hide beneath her hooves. The Sword of Bleak Eternity struck her foes with a thunderclap, their souls banished into this strange realm forever. “Remember that half of them are mine now, Nyst, as is half of this realm. And I could do with my subjects whatever I desire.”

“That kind of thinking is why you were banished.” Nyst chortled. She twisted beneath a Bloodthirster’s arced swing. Sparks leapt from the axe head as it skimmed either of the daemoness’ blades. Her free upper arms gripped the bullish creature by the horns sprouting from its head as it pushed past her. The head snapped back with a savage pull and came away with one quick swing. With a triumphant roar, she cast the head into the seething daemonic mass. “I advise that you reconsider your desires for the near future.”

Bazariah scoured the battlefield of minions from either faction with her lightning breath. She paused for a brief moment. “Perhaps when I am no longer a ruler of this realm, I may follow your advice!”

An unearthly battle cry shook the earth beneath Bazariah’s hooves, echoed by half-a-dozen bloodthirsters that landed in a circle around her and Nyst. Bazariah sized each of them in turn, taking in their brass-plated armor and heraldry of the Blood God. One of them managed to catch her eye, however. This one was naked from the waist up, his gnarled and heavily scarred cerise skin marked with tattoos of the blackest ink. On his hip hung a mighty belt of solid and bloody iron, and dangled with a hundred trophies of foes that must have been as fierce as himself. The greave on his left leg writhed with a daemonic face fixated in pure rage and agony. The greater servant’s mouth was a yawning crevice of vicious fangs and twin forked tongues, as unsettling as his large golden eyes and bull’s horns.

The nameless Bloodthirster hefted a massive executioner’s blade over his back and rested the hilt on his right shoulder. He gazed rather brazenly into Bazariah’s ebon eyes and spoke of a challenge without uttering a word.

Bazariah jerked forward and vomited another burst of lightning that crunched into the Bloodthirster’s breastplate. She did not wait to look upon her hand’s work, the massive crater created in the heart of the armor, but instead darted forward with blinding speed. Her opponent let loose a mighty wheeze and sagged onto a knee. Yet as Bazariah closed the distance between them, the battle axe in his hand sung a singing cry as it rent reality in twain.

Bazariah rebounded on her left foot and skittered out of reach of the writhing mass of tentacles that poured through the wound-between-worlds. The creature beyond the portal lashed against anything that moved, crushing mortals and demonic minions that were too dull-witted to flee into a bloody pulp. Bazariah gracefully used her lower arms to catapult her over a squirming fusion of chiton and flesh, and barked another burst of lightning into the creature’s yawning chasm-of-a-maw.

The champion of Khorne’s host entered the fray again and charged forward on ebon wings through the seething tentacles. Bazariah broke into a charge, then skidded across the ground under the Bloodthirster’s bulk before it could charge her down. Their blades clashed once as Khorne’s champion flew overhead, and then again as it twisted in mid-air and made to land.

Bazariah pulled her blades into an ‘x’ across the Bloodthirster’s midriff, but found her blades deflected as her foe flew backward and a made a clean parry. She continued her fluid movement and half-somersaulted to close the gap between them. Her blades flashed out in a downward arc, but Khorne’s champion lowered her his head, caught the swords on his bull’s horns, and shouldered her into the ground. Cloven hooves stamped down in an attempt to crush their prey, but Bazarih caught one hoof in mid-flight with her free arms and twisted violently until the bone beneath the muscle cracked.

Khorne’s champion howled in agony, but still managed to kick Bazariah away with his broken leg. He sent Bazariah tumbling amidst the corpses of the battlefield and hefted his axe into the air.

The Bloodthirster shouted over the clamor of conflict. “Let this bloody battleground be the sheathe of my axe! Wrapped in the warm embrace of shattered flesh and leaking organs. I shall never sheathe my weapon before a battle is finished!”

The minions of Khorne bellowed their approval and rejoined the battle with renewed vigor.

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Discussion Starter · #47 ·
A wounded cultist of the Forlorn’s Beginning crawled his way through the thick underbrush of the Lost Woods. Ne’gath casually looked up from his fresh kill—a young woman that left several marks in his armor—and found the coward fleeing as he surveyed the battlefield. An entire battalion of the Forlorn’s Beginning had entered the battlefield, fresh on the heels of the Tau Empire even as the aliens entirely withdrew from the region. Valyena’s ambush was a subtle strategy; small distractions from several directions that drew the cultists further into the swamps.

Having thought that beleaguered Tau forces were somewhere nearby, the Forlorn’s Beginning blundered straight into the sights of Ne’gath’s regrouped forces. Hell-gun fire had rained from every direction, and the fanatical kin waded into battle with their chainswords roaring the pitiful screams of their enemies.

Ne’gath stood from his kneeling position and tramped through the murky waters toward the fleeing cultist. As he did so, he passed by the tattered remains of fallen possessed soldiers, crushed beneath the armored legs of sentinels or half-obliterated by an armored tank’s cannon. The skirmish with the Tau Empire had sent Ne’gath’s kin reeling, but the fight against the Forlorn’s Beginning was simply a drain on numbers. The survivors of those-who-were-named numbered in the hundreds, when they had been over a thousand several hours ago.

They would destroy us! Valyena had proclaimed. Those who would shackle your immortal souls with iron and whip! Those who would be our prey, have struck us for the last time. Destroy them, and earn your names once again.

It was necessary, Ne’gath thought as he trampled over the coward’s back, making him sink halfway beneath the swampy waters. The mortal screamed a cry of despair, his hands quivered too much for the las-pistol in his grip to be of use. He shot with it anyway, the thunder-clap rang out into the discomforting silence. Ne’gath observed the shot go wide and whizz into a nearby tree some feet from his head. The daemon stepped off of the sinking body and knelt beside his prey.

He unsheathed his knife and planted the blade through the mortal’s spinal chord where it met the neck. The slain cultist joined the remains of the destroyed battalion littered throughout the swamp. The smell of freshly splintered wood intermingled with burning oil and licking flames hung over the field of death.

“Our numbers dwindle…” Ne’gath muttered on the gentle breeze. “Fresh sorcerers are required for replenishment.”

“An astute observation.” Valyena’s voice bubbled up from somewhere in the shadows. “It is nothing that cannot be taken care of. Gather the forces for another assault. We shall report back to our masters for the last time.”

Ne’gath snarled beneath his helmet, skeptical. “Do you mean to destroy these heavy chains or link them tighter around our heels?”

Valyena emerged from the shadows before the broken corpse half-sunken in the water. Her helmet was cradled in her hand, dim daylight shone on the pallid and veiny skin of her face. Her hair was unkempt, but bore some semblance to a straightened stream of raven hair.

“Forgiveness is something that does not exist for us.” She said. “One-who-is-named, why should you turn a blind eye to the transgressions of the past? Why spare your enslavers, when it is they who should be shackled beneath you?”

“Sorcerers possess raw power.” Ne’gath concluded. “And they have legions at their command. What remains of us shall turn into ashes on the smoke.”

“Sorcerers also possess vulnerabilities.” Valyena countered. “Weaknesses such as arrogance and avarice, blinded by the safety that their miniscule power has afforded them. Our victims will not be prepared for our assault, I assure you.”

Ne’gath shrugged. “What makes you think they are not already aware of us?”

“Oh, they are…” Valyena chuckled once. “But that matters not to me and should not to you either. These humans believe that they have seen the hells that our realms have to offer. I shall show them but a taste of our power, and not one of them shall praise us afterward.

“The mortals possess an ancient arcane relic that they use to enslave us to their will. The relic follows in our footsteps, replacing our numbers should they ever dwindle. You desire to be free, one-who-is-named? Then the relic must be destroyed.”

Ne’gath nodded to himself. “If that is the gods’ wish… everything has progressed too far to turn back now. I shall assemble our brethren, but know that my eyes are upon you.”

“I freed you, Ne’gath.” Valyena smiled. “You can place your trust on an ally seeking the same ends.”

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Discussion Starter · #48 ·
Chapter Seven:

The cold light of the void bears no warmth for this wayward son
Whose flesh is re-forged in the celestial flames of an eternal hell
Cleansed in the kindling of false truths and the bleak reality that besets all of mankind
Forever shall I dwell where only darkness and damnation linger
O Cruel Gods
Sunder this prison that binds my soul
And I shall ride the storm like lightning
From these pried open gates on the edge of time
And forever shall I bear the crown of true heroes
Who will sing my name and wreath me in glory
O You who walk among eternity
Where our names shall perish from history forevermore
For truly, is all lost?
Is everything… dust?
If so, then I shall welcome the great inferno with open arms
And die a mere mortal once again, for the final time

Exalted Sorcerer Tyrioc found himself once again before the statue of Magnus the Red, sword sheathed into the alabaster marble floor and his knee bent before the shrine. A chill wind blew through the narrow and maze-like corridors of the Silver Tower. Where it came from, Tyrioc could name a thousand culprits, for the Oracle of Destiny was as much an organic, sentient creature as much as it was a ship. Another gust of wintry air made his white robes flutter and turned his breath into a fine mist.

The bridge of the Oracle of Destiny was incredibly silent in this moment. Scattered around the shadowy spheres that made the headquarters were the silent, vigilant shapes of Rubric Marines. Mortal crewmates and their servitor companions slaved away on a hundred cogitators and monitors beneath the ever-watching Sons of Magnus.

Tyrioc observed them even with his eyes concentrated on the void beyond the glassine panels of the bridge. Through his mind’s eye, he absorbed his surroundings, noting the limestone that encircled the admiral’s chair and dark iron grating that ran beneath everything else. He listened to the ancient banners of Prospero billow in an artificial breeze so cold, Tyrioc shuddered deep within himself.

He also noticed the entrance into the bridge slide open to allow a group of hulking terminators access. And these Thousand Sons elite were no average killing machines. Each was clad in daemonically corrupted and ancient Tartaros Pattern Dreadnought armor once common during the great crusade, Their legs seemed unusually long and their chest plates bulged around the torso, creating a shape reminiscent of a circular disc. Half of their helms were buried in studded gorgets and sunk deep into the armor.

Warriors of the Scarab Occult. Who once numbered among the greatest psychic warriors. Now they were reduced to dust-filled automatons.

“Exalted Sorcerer…” One of the Scarab Occult rumbled with a heavily distorted voice. An Aspiring Sorcerer then, Tyrioc knew from the snowy white robes that fell from his shoulders and the great staff in his hand. “Have you need of the Scarab Occult?”

“Quenthu,” Tyrioc sighed and finally stood. “You honor your primogenitor and me with your presence. And I see you come before me for knowledge. Should I ask you a question in turn?”

“Should you think it wise…” Quenthu paused, his muscles visibly freezing for a brief moment before he rapped his great staff along the floor. “Exalted Lord.”

“Answer me this one question, Quenthu.” Tyrioc’s sword arm hovered around the sword sheathed into the floor of the bridge. “Do you think me a mortal? Am I not… human? I have lived through much, and have endured the burden of many mistakes. Brothers have been lost needlessly. The Changer no longer favors my ambition, my legacy, my power. What other Lord of the Silver Towers could ever claim something such as this?”

Quenthu hesitated for a moment, realizing that much of the bridge was focused on them. “Does this concern the council of Sorcerers and their advice, lord?”

“Does that matter?” Tyrioc shrugged. “And if I said yes? Would you remain by your master’s side? Or would you challenge me for more power? To exploit yet another weakness in a champion of chaos. Honestly, sometimes I believe in that ridiculous Imperial Primer. That our kind are simply doomed to fail. You are my most trusted, Quenthu. So what say you?”

“Destroy them.” Quenthu nodded. “Murder those who have instilled this doubt in you, Anointed of Magnus. Listen not to their cowering. If I may speak honestly, I think you relied on your allies for too long. You have led us into battle and have brought us so close to absolute victory… if only you would reach out and seize it for once. I remember the Tyrioc who led us on Prospero, who would never bend until the bitter end.

“Damn the Dark Gods, this is a fight to regain our honor. A struggle for survival. Would you return to our Primarch in shame?”

“No, I would not. So you have spoken.” Tyrioc nodded, his expression bleak. “And it pleases me greatly that you would remain by my side.” Tyrioc gestured for Quenthu to join him by the bridge window. “I have a mission for you and the Scarab Occult.”

Quenthu slammed the bottom of his staff along the iron grating. “Speak and hear your wish fulfilled.”

Tyrioc indicated the planet rotating in the bottom corner of the viewport. “A message must be sent to the denizens of this barren back-water. And the intent and purpose must be clear. Tarmathon IV shall burn between my fingers. You remember Mirathir, yes?”

Even through his V.O.X., Quenthu’s voice soured. “A xeno, yes? Should she be exterminated?”

“Exterminated?” Tyrioc rolled the question off of his tongue. “No. But decimating her forces should be a promising start. I want her taken, secured, and brought onboard the Oracle of Destiny. Kill any of her daemonic pets, and wreak havoc on your way down.”

The Scarab Occult Sorcerer asked. “How heavily guarded is the objective?”

Tyrioc snapped his fingers and a hologram of a more detailed Tarmathon IV materialized in front of him. “One city in the middle of the Areteca Wastes. It pales in comparison to the Hive Cities of Tyrannus, but it is large enough to warrant a large taskforce. Mirathir no doubt dwells on the highest towers and palaces. Acquire what resources you require, but fall short of success and know you’ll have my eternal wrath.”

“And the other sorcerers?” Quenthu inquired.

“The Coven is ready for battle.” Tyrioc brushed aside the hologram and chuckled. “You need not know what I intend to do with them. Focus on bringing Mirathir to me in one piece.”

Quenthu nodded. “And so it shall be war.”

Tyrioc nodded and felt some measure of his old strength return. “And so it shall be war. This pathetic cult shall soon learn that all is dust…” He sucked in a long breath. “Slaves! Give me every image of Tarmathon IV available! And prepare for descent and orbital bombardment…”

The Oracle of Destiny loomed above Tarmathon IV like a lost moon pulled into the gravity well. Tyrioc was certain that Mirathir was playing the patient game, uncertain as to whether the Thousand Sons were friend or foe. Soon, the planetary defenses would open fire, if he waited overlong, and the Silver Tower would become nothing more than glorified wreckage of an age long deceased.

And so the Thousand Sons would take the initiative, and announce their true allegiance to themselves. As Tyrioc handed down the order for the orbital bombardment to commence, hundreds of Rubric Marines and Tzaangor cultists were readying themselves for teleportation onto the surface.

Tyrioc remained in his admiral’s chair as the first scourge of life was fueled in the heart of the Oracle of Destiny. The vessel trembled and quaked as if it were going to annihilate itself rather than give in to Tyrioc’s demands. And then in an amazing brilliance, the orbital beam plummeted toward Tarmathon IV. The very clouds in the atmosphere parted and swirled around the outskirts of the incomprehensibly large discharge of atomizing energy.

When the orbital bombardment had descended onto the Onyx Redoubt, Tyrioc could only find a mushroom cloud of ashes and flames that spread across the surface like a virulent disease.

Six hundred thousand souls, lost in one fleeting moment. Now was the time to strike, and eliminate Mirathir’s misguided cult once and for all. The Thousand Sons were no one but the Great Changer’s pawns, and that was all they were to someone like Mirathir. A tool to be discarded. At long last, Tyrioc found some measure of retribution that he desired, but it would not be enough until Tarmathon IV was his and his enemies were put to the sword.
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