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What I have here is the start of a piece of fiction I'm in the process of writing. I have written other pieces, but was never confident enough in the outcome to submit it to the public. I'll be posting only the prologue to start so I can judge by your reactions whether I should continue the story. I hope that it is found worthy of continuation. Enjoy...
The world of Delphus is a holy place; a megalithic shrine to the everlasting glory of the God-Emperor of mankind, praise His name. Every citizen of this place gives its life as worship unto Him. Located deep on the eastern fringe of the Ultima Segmentum, it was once described by a visiting dignitary as “a spark of divine light in the darkness that surrounds the domain of man”. It is a beautiful, pure world that has known war only twice in three centuries. A man should consider himself lucky to live in such a place, for it has been untouched by the darkness and despair that permeates much of the Imperium. But on the day that it would begin its season of worship, evil finally came to Delphus…
The sky was dark as pitch over the grasslands of the third continent. It had long been decreed that this land should be given fully to the rearing of livestock for use as victuals and sacrifices to the God-Emperor, and so it remained untouched by the garish luminescence of the shrine world’s main population centers. For the briefest moment that stygian solitude was broken by a brightly burning star falling from the heavens. The sound of its impact was deafening, but no one was around to hear it. All, that is, except for one lonely old farmer. He jumped from his bed at the thunderous collision, briefly reminded of his days as a guardsman, and his heart began to race. But of course, he reminded himself, there was no war here; so what was it?
His curiosity overcame his trepidation and he soon found himself hurrying across the plains towards the source of the disruption. The old pack-beast he rode was getting on in age and its pace was slow but steady. Nevertheless, it was not long before he came to the point of impact. There was a large crater blasted into the craggy hinterlands bordering the continent’s modest mountain range, and at its center the farmer could see a pall of smoke rising in slow coils. Approaching the base of the crater’s slope, a feeling of dread began to settle over the old man. It was a feeling he had not felt since his days in the Guard, when his regiment fought the forces of the Archenemy.
Sensing its master’s unease, the pack-beast stopped in its tracks and refused to continue on. The old farmer grumbled to himself and slipped out of the saddle. He could not shake the sense of foreboding he felt, and yet he could not turn back; it was as if the coiling smoke called to him in a language only he could understand. He climbed his way to the lip of the crater and slowly peered over its edge. What he saw there made his blood run cold.
A drop pod lay at the bottom of the depression, its sides split open like the petals of a diseased flower. It had landed at a bad angle, resulting in much structural damage, and fitful bursts of electricity sparked from its hull. The creature that struggled to extricate itself from the pod was something out of the old man’s worst nightmares. It stood nearly three meters tall and was the color of dried gore chased with bone and silver. Various charms and shrunken skulls hung from its monstrous frame, each one physically painful to look at. The old farmer gasped as he saw the runes marked out on its dreadful carapace; they glowed with a baleful light and seemed to writhe and reform even as he looked at them.
The pure malice issuing from the being in the crater seeped into the old farmer’s soul and he started to whimper as he wept tears of blood. He lay frozen in place, desperately wishing to flee, but his muscles would not obey him. He began to panic and in his desperation he let out a small cry of anguish and stumbled backwards down the slope. The farmer froze in terror, praying to Him on high that he had not been heard. He eased himself back up to the edge of the impact crater and slowly raised his eyes above it. There, standing mere meters away now, the red behemoth looked directly into his face. The farmer voided his bowels in fear and began to sob uncontrollably as a guttural chanting began to come from the figure. The farmer stood there, held immobile in the gaze of the hellish figure’s daemonic visage, and knew that it was his time to die. With a last desperate howl of despair the farmer gave voice to an entreaty to his god. He did not receive an answer.
Faster than the old man ever thought possible, the hulking figure covered the distance between them and reached out with a massive hand. The farmer tried to run but was snatched up in an instant when two barbed lashes came forth from the figure’s left gauntlet. They writhed with a life of their own as they slowly retracted to draw him closer to the figure. When he was a mere handbreadth from its burning gaze it lifted its horned helm to the sky and gave voice to a twisted oath that hurt the old man’s ears. It then drew back an ornate mace that crackled with dark energies and brought it crashing down on the farmer’s skull. His head exploded with a wet crunch and the hellish figure dropped the twitching corpse without ceremony.
A chorus of unearthly whispers mingled on the wind and formed the voice of a being of ancient knowledge and endless spite, “So die all worshippers of the corpse god.”
It climbed down the slope of the crater and knelt in the rocky soil. Using the haft of its blood drenched mace it carved a series of eye aching symbols in a half circle to its front and whispered words of power. Its guttural tones gave way to a keening wail and the baroque armour covering its frame began to writhe with a life of its own. With a final warp shattering scream, the suit of ancient battle plate tore free of the figure’s body and took its natural form. The daemonically infused armour faced the kneeling figure and took a menacing step forwards. A sharp gesture and a barked command stopped the beast in its tracks. The figure, which was now revealed to be a man of inhuman proportions, rose to its feet and the daemon cowered in submission.
The voice that next issued forth, for all that it was deep and menacing, resembled that of a mortal, “Go forth, Sa’nakh’te, and hunt. I shall summon you in due time.”
The daemon whirled away from him and swiftly lost itself in the surrounding landscape. He climbed back into the crater and retrieved several tattered garments from the wreckage. When next he climbed from the depression, the ghost of a smile touched his lips and he turned towards the rising sun. A vast acropolis of marble and gold glimmered in the distance and the man set off in its direction, lifting the cowl of his slate-grey robes. Soon this world would feel the touch of the true gods; very soon indeed…
“ Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man. ” - Thomas Paine