Monday, February 13, 2006

Tales of the Rancid Blade: Part Nine: The Healing Arts

A rough wood framed window was a portal to a dry and lost landscape. No glass stood in the window. Since this world began the earth beyond had been punished by the unforgiving Mordian sun. Blue sky above the silent dunes gave no indication of the smoke and smog that filled the urban land on the dark side of this planet. Within the room old plaster made up the walls of the room. A well swept floor of simple tiles, probably hand made. A wooden bed, also probably made by hand, sat in the middle of the room. A small side table. On the table an earthen bowl, some sort of electronic device, and a neatly folded white cloth. On the other side of the bed, close to the window, a metal hanger with an intravenous tube. The bed was occupied.

The door slowly opened. Two women entered. They wore simple loose threaded cloth robes. Deep crimson, blue sashes. One was taller, older. A scar traversed her cheek, down, to under her chin. White hair. She was the Nurse. The younger, an adolescent, had light fine red hair and no signs of the trials of battle. Their sandaled feet walked across the tiles until they both stood at the end of the bed viewing the creature.

Succubus Yanaloo was secured to the bed. Her arms and ankles had been bound by leather fasteners that were chained to the frame of the bed. The Wych had been given a similar robe to that of the spectators. She had clearly been seeking escape as her robe was spread across the bed and a blanket had been kicked to the floor. Her vast dark hair was similarly spread across her face and pillow. Yanaloo’s bare legs and arms bore the ruddy scars from where her drug injection tubes had been removed. Intricate tattoos covered her stomach, biceps and theighs. A deep purple bruise was all that remained of her fractured leg. The Dark Eldar was awake but still. Her black eyes viewed the women before her.

The younger woman spoke “She looks upon us with such anger. Sister, what is wrong with her?”

The older woman turned “Adept Sylvie”, she began, “this is a cursed eldar. She has sinned against the almighty Emperor and is suffering the consequences that all Eldar souls shall suffer.” Sylvie walked forward, closer to Yanaloo, alongside the bed, but not within her reach. “Be careful Adept" the Nurse said "This creature will kill you with no concern or remorse” The adept stopped. She peered deep into dark eyes as though she were looking into the dead eyes of a shark.

“Why do we not kill her? She deserves the flame”. The older woman was silent. Yanaloo looked back at this young girl and gritted her teeth and hissing in pain and anger. She revealed sharp, pointed teeth. They had been filed to points. As she hissed the youth could see that Yanaloo was in considerable discomfort. She lent closer. At this Yanaloo vomited. A spray of yellow mucus and bile hit the young adept. Splattering. Sylvie sqeualed and recoiled. “Kill her, kill her” the youth cried out. She tried to brush the sickly mess from her clothes. The warm dampness clung through to her skin. The older woman was unmoved. Still a spectator.

“She is sick; she is lacking the Emperor’s love”. Yanaloo’s face contorted. Her need for pain and her need to inflict it were being stifled. Her evil soul was being pulled from her body. The hand of the Great One Who Thirsts was tightening around her neck making her nausios. Soon she would be dead.

The nurse, walked around the side of the bed opposite Sylvie. From her sash she pulled a small leather pouch. She took from the pouch several needles each about eight inches long. They were silver and pointed on each end. She also pulled several rolled parchments from her pouch. They were small rolls about four inches wide. Once unrolled each were about three feet long each. They were old and on them were written great litanies to the Emperor and his domains. Some were written in Old Gothic and others in more obscure languages. Some, written locally, were simply long strings of numbers. The Nurse gathered her robe from her arms revealing the well muscled arms of a warrior.

Then the Nurse, quickly but precisely, placed her elbow on Yanaloo's throat and put the full weight of her body on the wyche's neck. The drow gasped. She was too weak to have avoided the pinning move. With the same arm with which she lent on the wych the Nurse's hand clutched the eldar’s chin. She forced Yanaloo's head into a controlled position so that there was no risk of a bite from the sharp teeth. With one arm the Nurse had pinned the eldar and subdued her. Sylvie marveled at the more experienced sister. The restrained arms and legs of the wych struggled but the Nurse had her pinned effectively. Yanaloo gasped against the well muscled form of the Nurse.

In her free hand the nurse took one of the long needles and placed the fine point against Yanaloo‘s exposed shoulder blade. The needle pearced the flesh just above her breast. She pushed the needle in with the ease of a healer. Yanaloo screamed in pain as the needle slid into the flesh. A bead of blood pooled around the entrance. Once the needle was through the Nurse tilted the needle so it was almost parallel with the skin. The pain was searing. Yanaloo cried out as the needle was threaded through her. The Nurse angled the needle so that the fine, bloody point protruded back out from the flesh. She then took one of her long scrolls and pushed the needle through the parchment twice pinning it. She then returned the needle back to Yanaloo’s tissue threading it back through. The cries of the eldar seemed to fly out into the desert beyond the window. Once finished the needle threaded through her skin, through the end of the parchment, and then back through her flesh. Were she were standing one would have been able to read the parchment as it hung down.

“How does the forgiving pain of the Emperor feel?” the Nurse asked. Yanaloo had bitten down on her lip and she now tasted her own blood in her mouth. She was relieved. Though the fiery point of the needle was excruciating, she drew some sustenance from her own suffering. Her own torture and pain brought some relief from the hand of the One Who Thirsts. Yanaloo had pitied the souls in the streets of Commoragh who could only prey on themselves. Now she had become one.

As the next long needle was placed against the flesh of Yanaloo’s cheek the eldar fixed her eyes on the adolescent who still watched. Yanaloo regarded the damp portions of Sylvie's robe. It clung to her skin tracing the outline of her body. Sylvie saw the pain shoot through Yanaloo as the Nurse pushed the needle into her face. As the pain washed over her, Yanaloo could see deep into this young creature’s soul. She could see into the back of this girl’s mind. Yanaloo could see Sylvie had never witnessed the fires of battle, never observed the hell that her older sisters had seen. She had certainly never enjoyed the pleasures of Commoragh. She had a pathetic innocence to her. Yanaloo was resolved to stay alive. The pain of the needle, the imagined defiling of this nubile would have to sustain her.

Sylvie’s own flesh trembled as the black eyes of the eldar looked at her. The vixen seemed to be smiling.

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