Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Tales of the Rancid Blade: Part Seven: Twice Cursed Abomination

Brugoyle was clad in a long coat. It was buttoned and a high collar reached around his neck to his pointed ears. His head had been shaven clean. The few lights that illuminated the dark area reflected off his pale dome. Delicate tattoos traced circles on his forehead and high cheeks. Small bones hung as earrings from his pointed Eldar ears. He stood in a space between the walls of two buildings. The red night shy of Commorragh whaled above him. A slight warm wind caught his coat and made it move as if it were alive. The buildings were left from the old times. No slaves had built these walls. They had been crafted by the minds of the Eldar. They were crumbling now and in some places had collapsed. These buildings had once been places of pleasure from where the Eldar had ruled the cosmos.

The Kabalite called to the darkness before him. There was very little echo from the night. As always in Commorragh there were things in the darkness that baffled sound. Things that could not be seen but that could kill. A bizarre voice called back from the darkness.

“Why do you come here Sybarite?” the voice seemed to crackle with a restrained energy. It was as though it took all the power of the speaker not to cry out in a rage. “Why to you venture alone down the paths of Cymric Solor? You know this place is not for you”. Brugoyle swallowed. This part of the city was not protected by the Kabals. He was surprised that he had made it this far.

“I come seeking a parlay” he returned.

“Parlay? You know that is not what we do here” the voice called. “These streets are for murder. Discussion and deception are the work of the Archons and their courts. We do not talk. We do not reason. We do not discuss. Cymric Solor is a place of silver knives in the darkness, of muffled pain, and lonesome whimpers. Is that what you come for?”

“No. I have…” his words were cut off by laughter from the darkness. It was the laugher of someone ill. Interrupted by coughs. The sickly laughter was at first simply from in front of him but then it spread and soon it seemed the laugher were coming from all around him. He was surrounded by invisible fiends. He spoke louder than the cackling forcing his voice through the noise. “I come with a message from Archon Actev Nu of the Rancid Blade”. The laughter stopped. "I bare his message" he called out "It was told to me by sixth personal concubine, delivered to her by his second secretary".

The original voice from the darkness called back "Why does the Grand Archon stoop so low to send a messenger to us? Why does he need us? After all these years, decades, since he abandoned us. All the Archons and Players have abandoned us." Anger could be heard in the strange voice. "Kabalites never bring us on their raids anymore. When did you ever hear the names of Mandrakes called through the fields of battle? When did we strike terror as even the lowest Kabalite may?"

There was silence in air.

"The Archons and their politics and the Cults preening by their side. All of them have abandoned our skills" silence "…our talents. Even the Homunculi Covens ignore us at the behest of the Archons. We are forced to remain here alone with no prey things. We crawl through the passages of this cursed city, cursed by the most cursed. We have been abandoned by the lost. You Kabalites leave us here alone with none to prey on but our own kind and those few unfortunates that wander here".

Another voice called from the shadows reclaiming the end of the first speaker's sentence "... unfortunates and messengers who wander here". The laughter began again and this time it was loud, the noise crowding around, pushing in on the Sybarite. He knew it would be foolish to break their laughter. They were right. The Archons had cursed the Mandrakes. The Mandrakes were not to be trusted. They were caught between this world and the demon world and they had been driven insane because of it. To many times their blood lust had led to their own failure. They could not participate in the Kabals or work even with their own kind. The Archons and Dracons had cursed them as the Exarches had cursed the fallen ones and now few even mentioned the Mandrakes. The arrogant Wyches would not even recognize their existence. Sybarite Brugoyle waited until the laughter died down. He stood seemingly alone as the laughter died. "You may kill me if you will but you will never hear my message".

"We shall hear and you shall pray that your message is worthy of our lost time". As the voice spoke a slice appeared before Brugoyle. It was as if a knife had made a cut in reality itself. It was gone as quickly as it appeared. Then another, and another. Tens then hundreds. Then thousands. Through the cuts in the air could be seen a shape as though there were something on the other side of the cut. The cuts in reality became so many that a form appeared before the Sybarite. It was that of Mandrake Lethal stepping forward from the shadows. The Mandrake was twisted and bizarre. He was an Eldar but wrong, even for a Dark Eldar. His face was twisted. A long curved bird’s beak extended out from his nose. Leather armor covered most of his body except where chains linked tattooed and pierced nipples or simply entered straight into his flesh. One of the creature’s arms was mutated into a large curved blade that extended almost twice as long as a natural arm. Brugoyle could see how difficult it was for this Mandrake to stay in the 'real world' of Commorragh rather than his half life in the warp. As the cuts sliced through reality and were sealed again parts of the creature seemed to break out of alignment with the rest of his body or were replaced by the wrong image. He guessed the image of the creature’s thoughts rather than the reality. This creature was a twice cursed abomination. He lived half in the demon world and half in the cursed world.

“The Archon will trade souls in exchange for tasks” the Sybarite slowly said to the shifting image before him. He had never seen the shadow skin before. Some said that in full light these beings could be seen even when they were not projecting themselves on reality. A moving shimmering shadow cast from the warp.

“What kind of souls? His weak slaves?”

“Space Marines” Brugoyle said slowly. The laughter began anew.


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