The Torture's Tale - Warhammer 40K Fantasy

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  1. #1
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    The Torture's Tale

    Someone posted the link in the DE Thread and i thought everyone would be pleased to see it still exists:
    The Torture's Tale

    and in case the site goes down:

    Trapped deep within the catacombs of the Dark Eldar world of Commorragh, Gideon suffers endless pain in a nightmarish existence, a plaything to his captor. But who the mysterious jailer is and what his intentions may be, Gideon can only guess.

    Gideon shivered uncontrollably with fear as he sat huddled in the corner of the cell and listened to the anguished screams that the walls failed to muffle. A high-pitched squeal broke the air, and then a silence fell, broken occasionally by the rattle of chains and the moans of the still-living. Gideon heard footsteps approaching along the corridor, the heels of a pair of armored boots making a clicking noise on the hard stone-like substance of the floor. The footfalls stopped outside the door, and Gideon drew in a long, shuddering breath and waited, his heart slamming against his ribs with terror. With a hiss, the door opened, and harsh light flared in, blinding the prisoner. As his eyes gradually adjusted, he could make out the silhouette of his tormentor – a thin, withered figure with a slightly hunched back. Chains spiked with barbs and hooks hung from its belt, blades that dripped with unidentifiable fluids adorned the jailer's arms and legs. From its hand dangled a long whip, studded with tiny rasps that glimmered in the light. As the creature stepped forward, Gideon could see that it was female, although barely recognizable as such. It lifted a strange device to its lips and spoke in its own outlandish language; a moment later, the archaic machine spat out the translation in clipped, ancient Imperial Gothic.

    "Thy time cometh, prey-thing. Master awaits thee." The thing grated, beckoning with a finger tipped with a metal claw.

    Gideon struggled to his feet, wrapping around him the few tattered rags that remained of his uniform in a vain effort to recover some dignity. As he hobbled down the corridor, his feet blistered and cracked from previous tortures, Gideon tried desperately to recall how he had fallen into the clutches of the depraved Eldar pirates. However, recurring agony and alien elixirs had wiped all memory of the incident from his mind, except for a vague knowledge that he had not always been here, that he had lived a different life at some point, though how long ago he could not tell – in the City of Darkness, there was no passing of day and night to mark the time.

    As he limped into the familiar gloom of the torture chamber, Gideon looked around. The walls were lined with various implements of pain. Some were simply blades curved in bizarre shapes. Others were more technical and directly stimulated and amplified nerve-endings and the brain's pain receptors. Without any instruction, Gideon shuffled over to the bloodstained slab that served as the Haemonculus's operating table and lay face down upon it. It was then that something different caught his eye. There was someone else in the room, other than himself and the Haemonculus. Rolling over, Gideon sat up and looked at the shadowy figure.

    "Who are you?" Gideon asked, his voice barely more than a croak.

    "No questions!" the Haemonculus's translator barked, and the she-thing slashed a blade across Gideon's chest, slicing a perfect, shallow cut from his throat to his abdomen.

    As Gideon winced with pain, he saw the stranger step from the shadows into the red light cast from the lantern-stone hanging above the torture slab. The Dark Eldar was dressed in long, flowing robes, ornately embroidered in silver thread with scenes of torture and debauchery. His face was pale and gaunt, framed by the high collar of his robe. His hair was jet black, shaved save for a long scalp lock, and his eyes were almost black in their darkness. A cruel smile was fixed upon his lips and his dark gaze looked at Gideon intently.

    " You interest me, play thing," the Eldar said in perfect Gothic, waving a slender, long-nailed hand to dismiss the Haemonculi.

    "Who are you?" Gideon asked again, sliding his legs over the side of the slab so that he could sit more comfortably.

    "I am the master," the figure replied with a devilish grin. "I am the one who controls this place and much of the city around it. I am the one to whom all bow. I am the vanquisher of worlds, the destroyer of dreams, the creator of nightmares. I am the pirate king, the renegade prince. I am all these things and more, for I am Asdrubael Vect, and all the warriors of the Black Heart are mine to command."

    Gideon closed his eyes and tried to understand this news. Vect was indeed the sole ruler of the Kabal of the Black Heart. His name was spoken with awe and terror across the city. Before he had been brought to these palaces, Gideon had been imprisoned by another Kabal. The rumor had been that the mere possibility of displeasing Vect had prompted the overlord of the other Kabal to hand over a considerable number of slaves, including Gideon, just to appease this merciless killer.

    "Why do you do this?" Gideon asked hesitantly, unsure how long he would enjoy the overlord's rare benevolence.

    "Do what, precisely?" Vect replied, brow creased in a frown. The Lord raised his wrist to his mouth and spoke something in his own language. A few moments later, a lackey rushed in carrying two slender-legged chairs with arching backs. Vect sat himself down, his cold eyes never leaving Gideon. The lackey brought a crystal jug of liquid and a glass, and set them beside Gideon before hurrying out again, never once meeting either Gideon's or Vect's eyes.

    "The torture. The terror. The raiding, the killing, maiming, stealing. Everything. Why?" Gideon answered, dipping his finger in the blood trickling from the cut on his chest and holding it up to illustrate his point.

    "Why should I not?" the Lord replied, looking genuinely perplexed. "You are of no consequence. If you had not been captured by my servants and did not fall foul of some illness or mishap, you would still die within another twenty of your planet's short years. Why should I not use such a pointless creature for my amusement and sustenance? You are prey-species, nothing more."

    "Your people are twisted, perverted. A whole populace that thrives on murder and fear is unnatural. How could such a people exist?" Gideon asked quietly, pouring himself a drink and taking a careful sip.

    "As I said, you interest me, so I will indulge your curiosity," Vect replied, his voice quiet yet authoritative. He gestured to the unoccupied chair with a slight nod of his head. Gideon slipped down from the slab and sat down, grateful to rest the muscles and bones of his twisted back.

    "I shall tell you the tale of a great Lord of our peoples, for his tale is the tale of the founding of Commorragh, the tale of our people," Vect said, turning an almost fatherly gaze on Gideon, which was even more frightening than his earlier cruel glances. "Much of it you will not understand; some of it you may not believe. Your species knows little of us, of the Eldar kindreds. That is good, for knowledge is power, and we do not wish you to know too much."

    "A long, long time ago, over a thousand of your generations ago in fact, our people ruled across the heavens. Few races could oppose our might, and of those most ancient and malignant powers that could, all were dormant at that time. We were wise enough to let them slumber, unlike your own folk, I might add, who could well bring about the doom of us all with their blundering around. Be that as it may, there were none who could defy our will. We spread across the glittering stars, and brought glory and beauty to countless worlds, much as you humans bring pollution and ugliness to the stars with your presence now. There was nothing we could not achieve, for our minds and our technology were perfectly wedded together. A mere thought could be captured and harnessed by our wonderful machines, so that we ourselves did not have to sully ourselves with physical labor. We constructed artificial creatures to farm for us, fight for us, explore for us."

    "As you might understand, we did not sit idly by while our creations conquered the galaxy in our name. Of course not! We dedicated ourselves to much higher pursuits: the perfection of literature, of art, of dance, of sport, and of acting. Our striving for the perfect aesthetic became enshrined within our culture, our religion, and our politics. You clumsy humans think that you know sadness and joy, yet your emotions are mere whims and passing phases to the feelings of our people. You cannot know such happiness as we know, nor the dark depths of our anger and rage. We are a passionate kin and our quest for achievement became greater and greater. There was nothing to fear. We were kings of the stars, why should we not find every pleasure that the universe has to offer? That became the guiding principle of my peoples, that of self-gratification. Why should we not find what sensations we can? For life, all life, is ultimately transitory and ends. There is no need to worry about the future, no need to regret the past, for such things are foolishness. No, far better to enjoy the moment and not consider the consequences."

    "You became a society of hedonists?" Gideon asked as Vect's attention seemed to waver, lost in thought elsewhere.

    "Hmm? Yes, hedonists is the word you would use," Vect agreed, focusing back on Gideon. "As you might expect, there were some opposed to this. Dull traditionalists, short-sighted fools who didn't have the vision to share in the ecstatic society that we would create. They spoke out against the pleasure cults, yet in turn many of them were to see the benefits of utter self-fulfillment. Others, unfortunately, failed to see the wisdom of such enlightened behavior and continued to speak out. Some of them fell under the blades themselves, while many of them opted to flee, fearing that some cataclysm would befall our people, as if we were committing some great sin and that a thunderbolt from the gods would strike us down. They renounced all pleasures of the flesh and mind and fled to the furthest worlds, primeval wastelands where our seeding had only just begun. It was good that they left, for there were no more doubters. The cults vied with each other to attract followers, each trying to outdo the last with its extravagances. Oh, such times will never come again." Vect closed his eyes, visibly shuddering with the thought.

    "Well, back to our wonderful hero," Vect laughed. "As the pleasure cults grew in power and pleasingly spilt the blood of their rivals in the streets, our Lord-to-be was just a child. It was then that a great many of our people were struck by sudden apprehension. Our seers began to prophesy a great doom. Many were struck by profound grief at what had become of our society, and there was a great panic. They built the immense vessels you know as Craftworlds and fled into the stars. That was good also, for every doubting mind had been purged, and all who were left were the purist pleasure-seekers. Such gratifications as they found, you could never know. As I was saying, our Lord was but a child, serving in one of the most powerful temples of delight. He was due to be sacrificed for the greater glory of the shrine one night, a dark night that comes but once in every millennium when the stars themselves grow dim."

    Vect leant toward Gideon and dexterously plucked the crystal goblet from his grasp, taking a sip of the nectar-like drink before handing it back. His eyes were blank again for a moment, and then with a visible start, he brought himself back to the present.

    "Luckily for our people, that sacrifice was not to be. It was that very night that the Great Enemy was born into the universe. Even you humans have heard of that event. Our hero was on the altar, his body bared to the blade, anointed in the most exquisite perfumes and oils, his mind enraptured by the elixirs he had taken in preparation for the glorious event. As the blade touched his throat, her birth-scream screeched across the galaxy, extinguished suns, and all but wiped out our race. Her scream was joined by the death cries of countless millions of my people, their spirits ripped from their bodies by the hungering maw that is the Great Enemy. Almost all of us died that single night. The victims of She Who Is Not Named dropped to the ground as lifeless, withered husks. Some survived, but not without loss. They were the ones whose spirits were torn between the real world and the realm of Chaos. They were driven insane – half their mind within the rational world, the other half tormented by impossible visions of the Otherworld. Many ended their own lives. Others were driven into killing frenzies and rampaged through the streets slaying everything they came across, burning buildings, smashing the beautifully sculpted statues, razing the intricately ornate gardens in their madness."

    Vect's face was twisted in anguish as he pictured the tragic fall of his race. In one instant, they had lost everything and had become a race doomed to forever teeter on the edge of extinction and terrified of the god they had created.

    "Our Lord, young as he was, was not so steeped in the pleasure and ecstasy of our people. Along with many other of the children, he had not been as strongly tied to the Great Enemy. This slave boy was a natural leader. Of all the survivors from his cult, he was the first to react. He gathered what weapons he could and rallied the few survivors of his temple. They took to the streets and sought out the other shrines of indulgence. Some would not accept his leadership, and their blood flowed alongside that of his followers. Others were more wise and took up their weapons in his name. Others had also begun to rise to the fore and slay those who would not bend their knee. As time passed through an eternal nightmare of half-reality – for the emergence of the Great Enemy created the vortex known to you as the Eye of Terror – it became clear to our hero that She Who Thirsts was not finished with our people. Her hunger would never be sated. She had a grip on our spirits. Though temporally assuaged by the massive slaking of Her thirst during Her birth, She still needed to drink. Our lord-to-be felt Her thirst lapping at him and saw it in the faces of others, their essence being slowly leeched away by the Nightmare That Hungers."

    Vect took another sip from the goblet and then laughed shortly, his lips twisting into a wry smile. Shaking his head slightly as if to dismiss the thought, he turned his gaze back to Gideon, the dark orbs of Vect's eyes reflecting the red glare of the lantern-stone.

    "It seemed there was but one way of escaping Her and that was to flee and leave the physical world behind forever. We came here, into the realm between worlds that we created to traverse the galaxy safe from harm. Here, the Great Enemy's grip is weakened, yet to our Lord's horror, it was not wholly broken. He had bought his people time, a little instant of time, but nothing more. Others followed him, each choosing a place for themselves, building new shrines and around them great palaces. Here, where you sit now, is one of the chambers of the original Temple of the Black Heart. You are very privileged, you know. Not many survive to get this far. Most break before they even reach the second level. Perhaps that is why I am interested in you."

    "Remind me to thank you for the honor," Gideon said bitterly, swirling the last few mouthfuls of the drink around the rim of the goblet.

    "I will," Vect replied, his eyes growing hard, sending a sudden shiver of fear along Gideon's aching spine.

    "As I am sure you have already guessed," Vect, instantly forgetting his annoyance, told the prisoner, "as more came and built temples and houses and palaces and mansions, the settlement grew into the city some of our people call Commorragh. But even as they were erecting the statues of their lords and masters, our great leader was looking at the world beyond. He saw creatures sprawling across the realms of our people, ugly mon-keigh like you humans and the brutal Orks, the insufferable Kroot and others. Now, disgusting beasts from across the voids are ravaging our lands, and these young, weakling races are pitiful in their attempts to stop the encroachment. You deserve to be exterminated but not until you have served your purpose."

    "What purpose is that?" Gideon asked, stretching his legs out in front of him, looking at the many scars where the flesh had been torn and the bones repeatedly broken.

    "Why, for sustenance and amusement of course," the Kabal Lord replied with an evil grin. "Our founder looked upon the outside world, horrified by the beasts rampantly breeding across our domains. But then a thought occurred to him. Perhaps She Who Thirsts would drink others, as well as us. He sent some of his many warriors to capture a few of the man-things that had been spawned by an insignificant blue world in the western spiral arm. His best counselors and experts examined them and indeed these beasts, for all their crudity, still contained that vital essence of life, that spark of spirit that turns a fleshy vessel into a living thing."

    "You mean a soul?" Gideon said, sitting forward and paying more attention to the ancient Eldar's rambling tale.

    "Soul? Soul! Soul. Soul…" Vect seemed to be trying the word out for size, repeating it in different accents and intonations, as if he were tasting a fine wine. The words seem to roll around his mouth and throat for a few moments. "What a fascinating people you are, in a barbaric sort of way. Your language is so basic, you think you can capture everything about life and essence in a single, short word. Incredible…"

    The Dark Eldar Lord recovered from his distraction and spoke once more into the communicator at his wrist. A few moments later, the door hissed open, and the female Haemonculus stepped in again.

    "I-I don't understand…" Gideon stammered, eyes flicking wildly between the two Dark Eldar.

    "No?" Vect said mockingly. " It must be so terrible for you…"

    The Dark Eldar leader stood and took the goblet from Gideon's numb fingers. He sniffed at it delicately.

    "A good tasting drink," Vect said, swallowing the remaining contents and letting the goblet drop to the floor, where it shattered into hundreds of tiny shards. "It is a pity for you that some of the compounds used in its distillation do not react very well with your human digestive system. I hear the stomach cramps can last for days on end…"

    "You didn't finish the story…" Gideon prompted, desperately hoping that Vect's statement was just another cruel jest.

    "No, I didn't," Vect answered him with a look of feigned innocence. "I suspect you would like to know how it ends?"

    "I would," Gideon whispered, bowing his head in capitulation.

    "That is unfortunate," Vect told him as he turned and walked toward the door. "Because not knowing the end of the tale will drive you mad, won't it? In those moments that you can have a clear thought, you'll try to work out the ending. It'll gnaw at you, as a rodent gnaws its food, scraping away the last vestiges of your sanity. Such a shame, you really did interest me."

    "You must have had another reason for telling me!" Gideon demanded, knocking the chair over as he pushed himself to his feet and turned to the Lord.

    "Oh yes," Vect agreed with a slow nod. " I enjoyed telling the tale. There is no point telling any of my servants, they know it already. A story should be told, it is the very purpose for which it exists. Just as you exist to satisfy me, and nothing more."The Dark Eldar was almost out of the room when Gideon shouted after him. "So it wasn't true at all! It was all made up!" he called out.

    "No," Vect turned on his heel and pulled down the collar of his robe to show his neck. A scar ran a finger's length across his throat.

    "Why me?" Gideon begged, falling to his knees.

    He looked pleadingly at the Haemonculi who regarded him with a twisted smile. Wordlessly, she pointed toward the bloodstained slab. As the door slammed shut, Gideon could hear Vect's laughter echoing off the walls of the corridor beyond and the Dark Eldar Lord's voice carried into the torture chamber.

    "Why not?"

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  3. #2
    Son of LO kevin vanrooyen's Avatar
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    GW may have put up that on their site, and it looks like the page you linked to was put down there by GW, however they will have copyright to it and you cannot cop the entire story and post it up here. We can simply follow the link.

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  4. #3
    Scourge Lord Krovin-Rezh's Avatar
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    I've been holding on to this one for a while now. So if that site goes down (or if this thread gets closed for copyright issues), I can provide another link.

    The interesting thing is that this story is all just what Vect decides to tell Gideon, so GW are free to flesh out the background of the Dark Eldar as they see fit without worrying about overlap with The Torturer's Tale.
    Last edited by Krovin-Rezh; April 30th, 2010 at 07:33.

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  5. #4
    Sir Proofreader Deadstar_MRC's Avatar
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    I know this is a tremendous necropost, but I just happened to be on the GW website looking in the astronomicon section... And there's actually a pdf of the torturer's tale there as well! Was posted in November, probably something to do with the Dark Eldar actually reappearing on the GW radar

    I'm not sure if you have to be registered on the GW website to see it or not. Anyway, here's the link, if you're interested.

    Dark Eldar: The Torturers Tale | Games Workshop
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  6. #5
    Senior Member Archon Charybdis's Avatar
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    Cool to see it's available again. And come to think of it, the nature of Vect as an unreliable narrator still makes the story work, despite how much of the background has changed and we know to be inconsistent with his story.

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