Sunday, February 9, 2014

Short Story: Shadow of Veilynndorr Part II

Muzzle flare after images danced on Farseer Liridainn’s vision like burst capillaries that splay color across frozen cheeks. In the serene moments between the bouts of cacophonous gunfire the ruins outside of Sladenkamp seemed to breath, inhaling uneasily before once again being rocked by the repetitious thunder strikes of heavy bolter fire from an entrenched Imperial Guard squad.

Liridainn crouched against a wall, his Witchblade humming gently in his hand. His black robes helped him stay hidden in the deep shadows stretching from the fragments of shattered buildings as he crept along. The humans were not what he was actually hunting. They were the bait. Its presence screamed to his mind like a psychic beacon. Esurient thoughts rippled from it like a stone thrown into a pool, but its natural camouflage was so complete that his vision was useless until it made its move. The beast would show itself as it lunged for the kill. It savored the endorphins produced through fear as a delicacy. The Farseer flicked his head to the side and gave a quick nod to the handful of Black Guardians he had brought with him as an escort, and at his signal they knew to keep their heads down. They were as invisible in the darkness as he, and equally patient. Once more Liridainn's thoughts slipped to the Spiritseer Gaeolina. He thought about how skilled she was coalescing shadows and darkness like a protective wall, though in all honesty her abilities were not the only reason he wished she was at his side. The Eldar relationship to the Path was often complex and every journey unique, but nothing had prepared him for the tumultuous connection that was love, and how it was contorted and strained by the needs of the Craftworld and the demands of the Path.

He pushed away those thoughts and quickly skimmed the skein for immediate threats. He held in place watching the guardsmen fire blindly. The temporary alliance between Ulthwé and the Imperial Guard was tenuous, but necessary. There were powerful psychic dampers that protected the large Imperial Apothecarum that loomed across the street carried the psychic signature of an Eldar mind protecting the location from the probing Rune Council of Ulthwé. Liridainn had to know what the humans and his kin endeavored to discover in secret.

Liridainn’s prey took the bait. Colors swirled and glinted odd reflections as the Lictor pounced upon the embedded Guardsmen. Its speed was impressive, and in barely a breath half of the humans had been disemboweled or gored to death. With barely a twitch Liridainn signaled his men. They broke cover and fired, their Shuriken Catapults spraying hundreds of the lethal discs into the area; flesh and bone tore apart covering the rubble with a layer of sinew and gore. The presence of a lictor wasn't a complete surprise. There was a tendril of a hive fleet blocked by a nearby series of warp storms, but an occasional spore pod would find its way to the surface of a nearby planet. Yet this planet already presented a threat to the Craftworld and another danger was a dark omen. Perhaps, if he could find the answers he could see how these events might affect the future. If Ulthwé believed that war would be unavoidable he might be able to lobby Iyanden for aid.

The path was now clear and they hurried into the front of the Apothecarum. In the distance he could here the near constant bellows of the Imperial cannons thrumming in the air as they attempted to push back a growing rebellion.

Liridainn and his Black Guardians entered the front of the building and hurried along its halls. Occasionally there was a flat ceiling light that would buzz whenever it blinked on in the ceiling, casting a greenish sallow glow along the otherwise dark corridors. Liridainn tested the psychic dampening and used his powers to provide fortune and guide fate on his Guardians. The psychic blocking the building had undergone only seemed to protect against powers of communication and probing, another curious clue. They descended through the confines of the complex attempting to create as little disturbance as possible.

As they moved further down they began to find scattered limbs and bloodstains, that became more frequent the further they went. Finally they reached a large room, big enough to house fifty Falcon Grav Tanks. The Walls were decorated with dissected parts from various Tyranids, with scanners and screens dotting the landscape. In the back of the large room was a giant Hive Tyrant, or as some humans referred to it a “Swarm Lord,” sitting dormant, the scales and flesh normally crowning its head were removed and instead a pile of electrodes and cables poured out of its brain, connected to one massive terminal. Bodies in long white coats lay scattered about its feet, and a Farseer carrying the marks of the Ealfynn Craftworld rested impaled upon one of its four huge Bone Sabres.

Liridainn could feel the curiosity of his squad pressing upon him like a great weight. “The dampening wasn't to keep us out, it was to keep the thoughts of this beast in,” he said hurriedly. “They were trying to unlock the secret of the Hive Synapse,” he said. The Swarm Lord's eyes opened. It stood, slowly, letting out a terrifying roar when it became fully erect. In one swing two Guardians had been broken, their entrails decorating the floor of the laboratory.

Liridainn was taken aback, and stumbled over a severed limb, falling onto his posterior, narrowly missing two swords swinging in from the other direction that swiped over his head. A hail of Shuriken fire poured at the Tyrant and seemed to bounce off uselessly. It hissed, its teeth bared in a constant sneer of hatred.

The Lord lashed out again and three more guardians fell. Time was running out and Liridainn did the last thing he could think of. He Reached out in a mental attack, an arc of purple light momentarily dancing connected their wills in battle, and as they pushed back and forth against one another until finally it squealed as he turned off the beast's mind in a most painful fashion. It slumped to the ground supported only by the cables, which had restricted it from leaving the room.

The Farseer stood and dusted off his robe. He only had a handful of Eldar left after the attack. “Collect the Soul Stones of the fallen. We will return to the Rune Council and tell them of the indiscretion of the Ealfynn. I feel the full effects of this tampering will remain unseen for some time to come, but we have more pressing matters at hand. The skein is clear. We will lose this war.”

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