Big Game V – Chapter Nine: Musings

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Lord Esarhaddon ran the gauntlet of his ancient Terminator armor over the granite walls deep within the belly of the Promise of Absoution. Slowly, with the grinding sounds of gears and rust, a section of the wall came away, falling back and sliding away as he entered into the shadows beyond.

Ten thousand years, he had fought the Long War. Had it all been so long ago? He could not be sure any longer, so much of his memory ripped away by the rituals of purification and the Dark Communion. He could feel those memories that remained, though, so clear that they seemed to edge out the present. So much won and lost, and by so many over the grinding passage of centuries. The Sorcerer Lord Amankhan. Salous-Sain, the Warmonger. Tubal-Khan, the Bearer of Woe. Amongst even the superhuman warriors of the Astartes, these men were legends, but their kind had long since vanished from this mortal plane. Even the great Primarch Lorgar no longer spoke to His children, and they now wandered the galaxy, giving up great offerings and sacrifices to rouse Him from His long silence.

The fools. They followed the ravings of those madmen who had drunk too deeply of the Immaterium, striking madly in hope of finding the key to their Primarch’s will when it was plain for all to see. The galaxy would fall to the Dark Pantheon. Every knee would be bent in servitude, and the screaming souls of those sacrificed in its glory would call out a chorus of praise to a galaxy shrouded in darkness. The Long War was his to finish, thought the Chaos Lord, and he swore that he would cast the False Emperor from his throne, and usher in the age of Chaos Ascendant that so many others had failed to bring about. The galaxy was his to conquer, his glory would be shared by but one other.

He stood now in a hallway that few even amongst his own veterans knew of. Only those mysterious robed warriors, the Undying, set foot in this hall with regularity. They, and Esarhaddon himself. They watched him now with a callous silence that he had only heard broken once, to inform him of their presence.

The hallway terminated in a wide circular room, and simple cell guarded by thick plasteel bars. Inside, chained by the neck and limbs to the far wall, was a beast as horrible as any child’s nightmare. Goat-legged and covered in rough patches of fur, it approximated a human stance. Pairs of enormous horns jutted and curled from its long, equine head. As Esarhaddon approached, it lunged at him, scrabbling against its restraints, wailing with the scream of a daemon, clawing wildly at the scarred bars with long talons.

For a long moment, Esarhaddon watched the creature raging at him just inches from his uncovered head. Slowly, he lifted his ancient mace, the Na’hazarheim, and waved it across the bars. The creature fell back instantly, whimpering pitifully, and staring at the Chaos Lord in a terror that was all too human. At the sight of this, Esarhaddon smiled and lowered his weapon.

“Soon, my brother,” Esarhaddon whispered, “you will be whole again.”

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