Thursday, March 02, 2006

Tales of the Rancid Blade: Part Ten: Hiding Places

There are few real places to hide in this universe. Once they first spy what they believe to be treason, the eyes of the Inquisition never really leave you. When my closest confidant, Colonel Steib, was struck down by a Monodominant blade, and the command of the 27th Mordian Hammers was replaced, my disgrace was complete. Before I was aware of it my Inquisitorial rights had been stripped from me at the conclave of Haspax. I had only days to sow the seeds of my eventual return, board my ship, and escape. Fast behind me were the Black Ships that I had once proudly commanded. I prayed for them even as they chased me across the segmentum. Eventually, I came to hide in plain view ~ on Mordian itself. I set down with my comrades, The Sisters of the Cloistered Heart.

There I stayed for two years. Waiting. Waiting for times to change. Waiting for the era of the Monodominants to wane and for more progressive leaders to hold sway over the Inquisition. While I tended the grapes and irrigated the fields. I waited for the politics of the Imperium to change. While I gave sermons to the cloistered sisters and tended to their individual needs I hoped for my time to rise again. Perhaps one day they would reinstate me. I hoped.

But to wait out an Inquisitor is a fools task. To wait out Inquisitor Gulofil is the full breadth of insanity. However my faith in the Emperior is vastly more powerful than the symbol of the Inquisitor. When I heard news that those that sought me had returned to Mordian I knew I must leave lest the foul taint of the Monodominant find my cloistered ladies. As Inquisitor Gulofil and his followers set down and were bid welcome by the Mordian Tetriachs I bid my sisters fairwell. With me I took some of their sweet wines and cast away from Mordian to a place I knew that even the Inquisition would never find me. I cast away to Commorragh.

The Archon known as Actev Nu has spies across the universe and from these spies come his true power. His is the power of knowing things. Though I see myself to be only a small part of his machinery of knowledge, he has served my needs as I have served his. That is the way of the dark lords of the Eldar. As they use you and you use them. And so their society perpetuates. Woe to you when the use you provide becomes less valuable than the use you desire. I knew that when those sybarites took me, blind folded, through their secret gates, I would have debts to pay. I would rather pay those debts than have the Inquisitors land at the Mission Del Mordia and burn me and my ladies as heretics.

Commorragh is like any vast city. Some places are built well and polished to a high shine. Other places, falling apart and in ruin, are left over from the old times. Bathed in blood is a good description for that city. From the perpetual crimson sky to the literal bathhouses of blood Commoragh is soaked in it. Some cities sound with the call of traffic or songs of adoration. This city sings with the sounds of misery, murder, and horror. The Archon, always with deviousness in his mind, protected me from the horrors outside his walls ~ and within. I was not to be touched or harmed, unless I asked for it. My quarters were wide and sumptuous, with long curtains, lush pillows, and a vast balcony overlooking the city below. I could see creatures swooping on wings through the city but they daren’t approach my vantage point. They and I were under the watch fulleye of my minder, a Sybarite called Brugoyle.

Brugoyle was both my minder and guide to the dark city. As he approached Kabalites cowered and cultists smiled in false friendship. I could see the hate in their eyes for me. They would whisper hatred to me as I walked past. Soon I learned their language and it was filled with anger and hatred. Brugoyle instructed me in its use. As I grew to know him I grew to see his hatred of me also. Though he was powerful amongst the Eldar he also was a slave of the Actev Nu.

Brugoyle introduced me to the Murder Pits of Qyvank, the Temple of Mirrors, and even the great Arena of the Rancid Blade. It was here that I sat beside The Grand Actev Nu and watched his gladiators kill for sport. During my time in the dark city I was tempted by (and succumbed to) vixens. We bathed in the blood of the recent dead at the Kulux Blood Bathes. I drank vile liquids prepared by the Homunculi and then wandered the passageways of the citadel alone as my own fears and fantasies became real. I partook in the Orgy of Long Days. The things I saw in the Dark City were not outside the realm of my imagination. Any human is capable of these things. The difference is that here guile, trickery, abuse, butchery, and murder are all meaningful. Here they are currency.

Years had passed when the Grand Archon’s second personal concubine called me to my chamber. The mistress of the chamber wore the long orange robes of the Rancid Blade. Detailed tattoos covered her cheeks and back and her dark eyes guided me to an odd piece of furniture that had been placed in the center of the room. It was a simple torture chair. I had seen many before but it was the occupant that made my heart leap. In the chair sat Inquisitor Gulofil. He had been captured by the Rancid Blade.

He was an old man now. It seemed like a hundred years must have passed for the change in his appearance. He was naked and strapped to the chair. A Janjii mask held his face forward and eyes open. When I stepped in front of his field of vision I saw his eyes grow wide. I could hear the foot falls of the mistress' long heeled shoes receding into the background. This man had chased me across the galaxy. Through my years in Commorragh I had almost forgotten him. I knew that this was a message for me from my friend the Actev Nu. It was a message that my time in the Dark City was drawing to a close. Without Gulofil on my trail there was no reason I could not return to the Imperium.

As I approached I took my Dire Blade from its sheath. I had become versed in its more unique uses. Standing before him ready to begin working on his stomach I now saw that around his neck was one last gift for me. He was not entirely unclothed. He still wore his Inquitorial seal, his mantle of office. He whimpered as I took the icon from around his neck. I placed it around my own. I still remember thinking that he shouldn’t have concerned himself with the misery of my taking his title. Over the next several hours I gave him much more to whimper about.

~A section from Confessor Sylax's personal recollections.

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