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Hey guys, it's been a while since I wrote something, so I figured I'd finish up the part I've been working on for a while now. Hope you like it. If I get more response than the last time (only Adahn responded), I'll consider finishing the story, as there are only a few more parts left to go.
Carcerus led his party from the front, his massive suit of terminator armor forcing squads Gerhart and Sorisian to walk behind him. They were unused to seeing him in the armor, as it was the first time he had worn it since Lorgar had gifted him with it, but they felt a hint of pride that their commander had been honored in such a fashion.
Sergeant Gerhart, normally boisterous and boastful, was quiet and focused in the presence of the Dark Apostle. As always, he was eager to prove himself before his superiors. Someday he hoped to be elevated past the rank of sergeant. He was no apostle, but he knew that given the opportunity he could become a valuable lieutenant.
As they reached the end of the corridor they came into a large, cavernous chamber that was lit by faint torches. Gerhart assumed that they had been lit by the Chaos gods themselves, but he realized that this was not the case when Carcerus reached for his weapons.
They moved forward cautiously until they reached a wooden bridge at the end of the cavern, beneath which wound a stream of boiling magma. The bridge itself led to an elevated section of earth, above which stood a shimmering portal that twisted with Chaos energy.
Brother Marian felt a glimmer of discomfort at the thought of travelling through the portal, but the feeling squashed by centuries of martial training when Carcerus gripped his weapons tightly and barked, “Into the breach!”
Carcerus led the way through the portal, his armor’s temperature regulation unit blasting his skin with cool air as the blazing energy washed over him. The squads followed close behind, ready to pounce upon whatever lay on the other side. What they did find however, stopped them in their tracks.
The ground beneath them was blackened and cracked, from which rose great towers of jagged rock. There was no vegetation, or even signs of life, aside from the swarms of small, winged creatures flying above. The sky was dark with their pulsing mass, causing some of the Word Bearers to raise their weapons upwards, but Carcerus uttered a few low-syllable words that forced the creatures to steer clear of the chaos marines. They followed a trail littered with the bones of unknown creatures, most likely some kind of lesser daemon, until they made their way to a clearing lit by torchlight.
“The daemons circle above, but they don’t enter the clearing,” one of the younger Word Bearers pointed out.
“Yes,” Carcerus answered softly. “There is a power here that prevents them from coming here. Weapons free men, our foe is ahead.”
As soon as the words left his mouth, Carcerus’ party found themselves under attack. Lithe figures clad in skin-tight black armor hit them on both flanks, cutting down three marines from Squad Gerhart and one of the chosen. Gerhart snarled and brought his chainsword to bear on this new foe, but as soon as they had struck the enemy disappeared into the shadow of the rocky outcroppings.
“Spread out and open fire!” Carcerus ordered as he sprayed the rocks to his right with his bolter.
The marines did as they were ordered, but the assassins vaulted over top of the rocks and struck again, cutting down more of the Word Bearers. Carcerus was prepared however, and managed to gun down one of the enemy warriors. The armored form crumpled under the explosive rounds, dying with little fanfare.
“They’re not so hard to kill,” one of Gerhart’s men said as he decapitated one of the enemy, only to find a moment later that the assassin had buried his blade in his chest.
The man fell to his knees, pushing the blade deeper into his chest. The Word Bearers pounced upon the remaining assassins with a raging fury, finishing them quickly now that they were prepared for their agility and speed.
Carcerus scanned over the four bodies from Squad Gerhart and the one from the chosen squad, and felt each of their deaths weigh heavily upon his heart, but he knew that there was no time for grief. They pushed forward, fending off attacks from assassins, until they reached a cave.
“Sergeant Torkiel,” Carcerus said, “You have operational command, hold this position until I return.”
“But sir,” Torkiel asked, “Surely you could use the additional support?”
“No, brother. According to my visions, you will need it more than I. This is the path the Chaos gods have chosen for us. You have your orders, now see to them.”
“Yes sir!” Torkiel saluted, slamming a clenched fist against his chest.
The cave was dark and gloomy, but the sickly green light that flowed out of Nethrazuhl’s twin heads lit the ground before Carcerus. In truth, he did not need it. Ages had passed since he had become a marine, but his supernatural senses were as strong as ever, if not stronger thanks to the gifts the Chaos gods had bestowed upon him.
The tunnel opened up into a small cavern lit by torchlight, at the center of which stood a single, solitary figure. The man wore a simple white storm coat and green cloak, but Carcerus could pick out the edges of some sort of armor beneath the cloth. As he turned, Carcerus saw a face with piercing blue eyes, a head of brown hair, and glimmering symbols of the Imperial Inquisition.
“Ah, I was wondering when you would get here,” the Inquisitor said as he casually drew his daemon hammer.
“And you are?” Carcerus asked, his eyes narrowing in annoyance at this last obstacle in his way.
“Inquisitor Ictus Voterus, though for Chaos scum such as you, Inquisitor will do just fine.”
“Get out of my way, Inquisitor, and I promise that your death will be quick.”
Voterus drew his bolt pistol and fired on Carcerus, who laughed and charged the Inquisitor. The Dark Apostle was sure that Nethrazuhl would taste the Inquisitor’s blood, but as he struck out with his crozius he found it buried in the chest of a sickly-looking foe.
This creature’s skin was pale and cracked with age. Twin horns grew from the sides of its head, and its eyes blazed a deadly crimson. Aged, yellow seals trailed from its limbs, which were bound by powerful chains. As it punched Carcerus, sending his terminator-armored form flying backwards, he realized that this new creature was a daemonhost, and that Voterus was one of the more dangerous radical Inquisitors.
The Inquisitor shouted a few words of daemonic power, and though it obviously hurt the man to do so, the force of the words slammed hard into Carcerus’ terminator armor. Carcerus however, withstood the blow and opened fire with his bolter, tearing gaping wounds in the flesh of the daemonhost.
“Adarus,” Voterus said softly, “kill it.”
The daemonhost swept down upon Carcerus, who dropped his twin-linked boltgun and sidestepped the daemon’s charge. He brought Nethrazuhl around and swung it hard, sending Adarus spinning out of control with a heavy blow to the back of the head. Voterus turned away from the fight, and began chanting words of dark power. A purple light flared before him, opening up some small portal, but before Carcerus could see the results of the Inquisitor’s incantations the daemonhost was upon him once more.
Carcerus swung with Nethrazuhl, cleaving the daemonhost’s right arm from its body, but Adarus ignored the pain and punched his clawed left fist into Carcerus’ body. Pain flared throughout his senses as he felt his ribs snap under the pressure, but his gene-enhanced body immediately pumped chemicals that dulled the pain and allowed him to continue fighting. The daemon struck again, but Carcerus took the blow on his shoulder and used the momentum to drive Nethrazuhl into the daemon’s belly. He smiled in victory as his crozius thrummed with power, creating a small blast that sent Adarus’ crumpled form flying off into the darkness.
Voterus, realizing that his daemonhost was dead, panicked, and backed away from Carcerus’ towering form. There was a book floating in the purple light he had conjured, and he quickly grabbed it, his skin hissing as the energy burnt his hand.
“Now!” the Inquisitor screamed into the vox link by his mouth.
Carcerus swung at Voterus, but his weapon passed through empty air as the Inquisitor teleported out of the cavern. The Word Bearer cursed aloud at having been deprived of the powerful book, but he knew that the most important artifact was still located within the cavern. He uttered a stream of daemonic words, granting him the temporary vision that the beasts of the warp enjoyed, and saw that his visions had in fact been true.
He walked up to the cavern wall and placed Nethrazuhl’s head against its cool surface. In one swift motion he put all his weight behind the weapon, driving it into the rock with all his might. Nethrazuhl fractured and he felt the daemon’s essence leave the weapon, rendering to merely an impotent steel rod. The rock gave way, crumbling into dust as the Nethrazuhl’s soul tore the wall apart. Carcerus smiled and stepped forward, ignoring the falling rock and the cloud of dust. He blinked away the warp vision and looked around, finding himself in an ancient tomb.
“At last,” he said aloud to himself, “The tomb of Apostle Lykaios. After all these centuries.”
Apostle Lykaios had been one of the most powerful apostles within the Word Bearers ranks at the height of the Horus Heresy. He was a devout follower of the Chaos Gods, and it was he who had been entrusted to bring the forces of the warp into the material world during the assault on Calth. He had died ages later, on Palmyra, and his body had been hidden here by loyal cultists.
Carcerus spoke several more words of power, and the stone tomb bearing Lykaois’ body was cleaved in two. The Dark Apostle thrust his hand into the dark space and retrieved Lykaois’ skull, the only part of the deceased Word Bearers’ body that had survived the test of time.
Carcerus placed the skull atop of an altar at the far end of the room, along with the haft of his shattered crozius. A final incantation caused both skull and rod to shine with power as they floated in the air. The skull rested atop the pole, and was instantly bonded to the steel in a bright flash of green light before floating into Carcerus’ outstretched hand.
The Dark Apostle bowed his head and prayed to the Chaos Gods, thanking them for this new weapon of power. He produced a flask of dark blood and poured its contents upon the altar, beginning the spell that would bring a final end to the war for Palmyra.
He turned back the way he had come, and when he reached the entrance of the cavern he saw that all of Squad Torkiel had been slain. Sergeant Gerhart lay bloodied and broken, but he was still breathing and being watched over by Brothers Marian and Titus. Upon seeing their lord they lifted their sergeant’s body and followed Carcerus back towards the portal and Palmyra. The war had to be finished.
Member of the Fluffmasters Clan
Strong writing as usual Lyran. I had to back track a bit just so I could refresh my memory of earlier events. Anyways, keep up the good work.
I am heading off to the Peace Corps. It is bery likely I will not be back. Good luck to all of you endeavors.
Thanks Daelrog, it's been a while
Member of the Fluffmasters Clan
Long time no see Lyran! Do keep up the good work and finish this story. It'll definitely be an achievement. There's a plate of cookies waiting at the end of the tunnel for you! *goes away to think up more bribes*
wow! awsome as usual. It sounds like Palmyra is in for a hell of a time
and my freinds and I really hope you keep writing this story. We've had quite a few heated discussions about it and really hope the tale of Carcerus is finished
Brilliant as usual Lyran my Brother, can't wait for the next one. We're definitely in for some serious fighting as well as drama.