‘Behind our consciousness lies a profound abyss, about which we riddle and dance through the paths of our kind. The Aspects of Khaine are sprinkled around the rim like garrisons of our sanity. The exarchs are the champions of our souls, keeping the darkness at bay. Beware the Menshad Korum, the hunter who stalks himself. Although trapped in the Path of the Warrior, this exarch owes his soul to no Aspect and knows not who he is. None is closer to Khaine than the Lost Warrior, none closer to the abyss in our souls.’
– On the Transfiguration of Exarchs,
Seer Calmainoc, Ulthw? craftworld
THE RICOCHET CAUGHT him in the back of his head. Surprise flickered over his face as the cacophony of battle was arrested by the shock. There was a sudden silence. Arbariar discarded her shuriken pistol and drew the crackling chainsword into both hands, holding it vertically at her right shoulder in the death-stance of the Striking Scorpions. Vlalmerch fell forward onto
his knees, his eyes wide in disbelief and his mouth working silently. A trickle of blood snaked its way round his neck, hissing with toxicity. His fusion gun clattered onto the shimmering wraithbone deck as it dropped lifelessly from his hand. The exarch lifted his gaze into Arbariar’s face as he collapsed to the ground at her feet, motionless.
That Soul is Mine. The voice oozed into Arbariar’s mind, riddling her thoughts and curdling her intent. She paused, unsure.
Take the stone, and let’s get out of here, came the voiceless words of Bureea. Arbariar could feel the urgency in her daughter’s thoughts and she snapped out of her nauseous reverie, stooping quickly. Rolling Vlalmerch over onto his back, she pushed her delicate fingers under his armour, where they quested and danced.
They are coming.
I know. Arbariar worked quickly, teetering on the edge of composure like a feather falling onto a blade. She could hear the footfalls of Vlalmerch’s Kinsmen, the Bloodguard of the House of Saeemrar. She could feel them getting closer, chipping away at the fabric of time in their burning haste. There was an electric panic in the air that made her fingers fumble and twist: where did he keep his stone… where is it?
It is Mine.
They will kill us. This will be the end of us all. Hurry. We must leave… now.
‘ABH AHG VAKARUM!’ Quereshir shouted the opening mantra as he raced down the corridor. He held a flamer in both hands, pumping it from side to side as he ran. The Kinsmen flooded out in his wake, like a blast of flame from an afterburner. Their golden helmets spiked into the air in front of them, splintering off a heartbeat of time and sending them roaring into the fractional future.
Quereshir was fastest, driven by fear and drawn by the silence that had suddenly befallen his father’s thoughts. He was already through the great doors of Saeemrar’s sanctum before their flaming, molten substance had fully withdrawn into the cold wraithbone walls.
The Kinsmen arrived only moments later, but Quereshir was already in a deathhaze, spinning in exquisite splendour, sending gyring flames into the hearts of each shadow that swam and flickered around the room. Using the momentum of his spin, he kicked into the air and spiralled over the prostrate corpse of his father, bathing the Kinsmen in fire before landing, kneeling next to his father’s head. The flamer died in his hands and the Kinsmen each dropped to one knee, flames still licking at the fiery orange of their armour.
We come too late.