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Alexei

The Harrowing | Kadia Event

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k2axoLr.png~Third year of the Harrowing~

“Do not inform the Duke of Caelorum until after the battle.” Came the calm order following the sound of boots against the grand marble floors of the palace. It proved all the more that this was not simply a battle for Kada and its people, but for the very soul of the nation and country itself. Cut off from the rest of Kadia as they were. “I cannot have him distracted, the right wing legion is absolutely essential to victory.” He stated to what almost sounded like a hesitation to follow his orders. That simply would not do.

His further silence to the comms stated there was no room for discussion.

He had grown in the past three years, his body taller and leaner. His hair too, had grown; pulled into a loose ponytail that fell between his shoulder blades. It seemed to be a trait he mirrored his father in. He was a handsome boy, looking a few years older than he was; his features holding the sharp definition of his mother. Had her eyes too, that helf a drive in them that skirted the edge of fanaticism. Equal reason kept that in check.

He knew his siblings would not be pleased with his decision, but there was simply too much at stake for him to allow distractions. This had been the largest incursion by the Aravians, driven on by their dark gods, and inspired by their daimon spawned champions. Three years of constant warfare had passed, and there was no certainty any reinforcement or help would arrive. This created a large logistical hurdle that hadded to be surmounted.

He had worked hard in securing the region around Ravenspire and maintaining it. Allowing to the Obelisk to purify and protect reclaimed areas. It had been a hard fight, though there had been much success in mitigating their losses. They had eve managed to regain communication, though rarely; with their father and mother. Though what advice they could offer became limited, and often the siblings had to make due on their own.

They have.

The doctor in his presence simply remained silent as he tried to keep up with the young princes pace. It was obvious Connor was more worried for Olympia than his expression and words seemed to display. They rounded the corner and Rosalind would come face to face with her younger brother. “Calm yourself, Rosalind.” He said, urging the doctor to head inside with a gesture. “I need you to give me the details immediately on what happened.”

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Ship Travel Turn: 1

For someone who had never traveled through the Warp on a ship like this, Tenkai was preternaturally calm. Calm, but not quite what one would call "good spirits". Not that there was anything particularly gloomy about him for that matter, but more to the point that he wasn't about to prop up his feet and treat this venture like a leisurely cruise on the sea. The severity of the situation, both their current status and the endeavor as a whole, was not lost on him for a moment. He could not allow it to be. Things may have been relatively peaceful for now (as 'peaceful' as it could get, at least), but that could change in an instant, and Tenkai had to be ready to act immediately. So he would remain vigilant.

Still, he would not risk the damage to the morale of the Custodes by telling them they could not seek levity. There was nothing wrong with finding ways to cope with the harshness of reality if it helped one move on through the adversity. It was only when it got in the way of readiness and responsibility that it quickly spoiled into delusion. For now, such was not the case, and the Custodes continued to go about their duties. The monk, too, had to shoulder this burden with them.

The plan to reduce rations to three-fourths was not at all a problem for Tenkai. Personally, he intended to reduce his own rations by half or less, depending on the day. Tenkai was used to going for long periods without much food, as was often the case for traveling monks. Hunger was a particularly deceptive need that rapidly fluctuated between that which was necessary to survive and that which was purely desire and attachment to food. Reducing his rations wasn't about willfully starving himself like a foolish martyr and more about conditioning himself so that the fine line between sustenance and gluttony was clearer to him. So long as there was little need for intensive physical activity, or rather, so long as they weren't in any combat situation, he could keep himself sustained with a small amount of food and meditation. Living as a wanderer taught him much about how to sleep efficiently. 

This only seemed to further justify Tenkai's decision not to bring his newly trained Vanquishers with him. More people meant a tighter strain on rations. Although it wouldn't have been a significant margin, every little bit helps.

One day along their voyage, the thought of the Vanquishers prompted Tenkai to pay a visit to the armory. It was imperative that everything was kept in order in the event of an attack. Troops needed to be sortied without any delay, and part of making that possible was a well kept armory. Of course, as far as Tenkai was concerned, there was little he could say or do in the way of managing the Custodes' firearms and other forms of projectile weaponry. That wasn't Tenkai's particular area of expertise. But their swords, on the other hand, was a different matter entirely. Though he clearly had his own weapon of choice, he knew enough about the maintenance of blades in general to provide assistance.

Yet swords were often a very personal matter, and by and large it would seem that the Custodes were responsible for the maintenance of their own blades. It was likely that some of them preferred to keep their blades at their sides in their own quarters rather than store them in the armory, and the latter ones were the property of the individual Custodes. However, there were auxiliary weapons within the armory meant as back-up arms for proper Custodes as well as armaments for crewmen who were not men-at-arms. Making sure these were well maintained was just as important, and that was exactly what he did. The monk went through the weapon racks, doing a random inspection of every third or fourth blade he came across, or at least any one that managed to hit his eye. One of the blades in particular was a well-crafted longsword of some non-standard make, likely some form of advanced or special class material that made it a grade above mundane weaponry but not quite to the same level as the enchanted or master-crafted weapons that the Custodes were likely to carry. Tenkai could tell by the way the light hit the edge that it was starting to dull a bit, so he put it to a whetstone to sharpen it. Tenkai was no master togishi, but he knew his way around Japanese water stones, and although the ones in the Order's possession were all some sort of special grade from uncommon materials beyond those he was used to normally, they functioned all the same. He would never be able to get the blade as sharp as his Muramasa, but its strikes would be true.

 

+1 Maintain Armory

 

The next day, Tenkai spent most of his time meditating by the bridge, seated with his legs crossed and his sword sheathed in his lap as his fingers interlaced in the Naibaku-in mudra, the Seal of the Inner Binding. There was no din of murmured mantras from his mouth. It was simply silence as the focus of his meditation was turned inward, maintaining the psychic shield of faith that allowed a holy warrior like Tenkai to combat the unspeakable horrors they would most assuredly face. To that end, there was much for Tenkai to contemplate about what effect the Warp would have on him. Or, to be more particular, his eye. The Magatama did more than just allow him to see souls as easily as he saw people. It also put him in between the mortal and spiritual planes simultaneously.

To that end, one's psychic presence within the Warp was deeply connected with that of the soul, if not nearly synonymous with it. As long as they remained in the Warp, part of this was moot, as being physically present inside of the Warp was to have one's psychic presence be synonymous with one's physical presence anyway. It was why fighting a daemon within the Warp was just as dangerous for the daemon as it was for the slayer, for to slay a daemon there means a true death. Whether the same logic of "true death" applied to mortals within the warp was hard to say, being creatures of reality that rightly did not belong in such an accursed plane. Suffice it to say, any such fate within the Immaterium likely had consequences so disastrous that a "true death" was little more than a mercy denied to them. 

That being said, how would the Magatama's sight function in the Warp? How was the spirit world, the Shadowlands, reflected in the Immaterium? Were they connected? Were they one and the same? Or perhaps something entirely separate? Either way, it was less a matter of if his eye would function and more of a matter of how. It could allow him to perceive the Warp with some measure of protection from the madness it could induce by nature of not being a mortal eye. Or it could allow him to see it too differently, possibly magnifying the effect it would have otherwise had on him. Perhaps it had no effect at all. At any rate, Tenkai was content with the fact that the shielding that protected the ship from the Warp also managed to block out and filter what would have been too much of a strain on his psyche, so this was not something imminent he needed to worry about. It was, however, something to prepare for.

"Does it help?"

Tenkai opened his eye and quietly regarded the voice of the one who had interrupted his meditation. It was one of the Seekers, an elf by first glance of his height, build and (obviously) ears. If the monk was annoyed at the interruption, he did not show it. Truth be told, Tenkai did not care either way. Knowing how to resume meditation and attain clarity quickly was yet another skill, and being so attached to the seclusion of meditation was counter-intuitive. That was part of why he chose not to meditate in his own private quarters.

"Pardon?" replied the monk.

"Does it help?" asked the Seeker, "Your meditation?"

"If it did not, I would be a fool to waste my time doing it. Why do you ask?"

The elf had a subtle hint of embarrassment on his face. He did a good job of hiding it, but he couldn't hide it from Tenkai. Elves were a very proud race. Not that humans were incapable of hubris themselves, but elves had a far stronger tendency towards it due to their natural aptitudes and culture. At least, for high elves, this much was certainly true. 

"Frankly, I've never understood the point of it," he said. "How does one focus the mind by simply doing nothing? Now, don't get me wrong here, I understand it has its virtues but where I come from, the magi always seemed to have some...purpose or direction to their meditation. Circles of power, weaving the Winds and all things of that nature. I can even understand focusing the mind through the lens of knowledge, like reading a book, or perhaps pouring one's focus into one's chores, or perhaps a nice, refreshing session of target practice to hone one's skills. Something, anything that could serve as a means of taking their mind off of the fact that they're sailing through the Immaterium in a giant metal deathtrap off to confront the very stuff of nightmares, but really, how does doing nothing actually help you get through this?"

Tenkai said nothing, his eye unflinching save for a few unmoved blinks. The Seeker's words had told him all he needed to know, and he kept that steady, knowing gaze upon him. "Would you like to join me?" Tenkai asked of him.

"Yes please," he replied.

Taking a seat next to Tenkai, the elf crossed his legs, laying his sword and bow in his lap much like how Tenkai had done with his sword. He did not attempt to copy whatever Buddhist ritualism he thought Tenkai was doing. The Seeker merely folded his arms and lowered his head a bit as he closed his eyes, quietly turning his focus inward.

 

+1 Maintain Morale

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Ship Travel Turn 1


They had been traveling for a day, or maybe even longer. Subtle changes here and there are indicative of spent time. It rests as odd in the shadows of her mind as she walks through the belly of the vessel. Or maybe it is a trick of the mind. For now, she can only hope for the later. But they resided on the premise that they really have no knowledge on what it is they were to encounter.

20181023_235851.jpgTraining sessions, despite the drop in rations for the sake of perseverance, continued on. The daily lives of everyone aboard a continuous line of effort. Even when strained. The tension of worry lingers in the pools of all the eyes she dare gaze into. As it reflects her own. There had been no word of home, the silence slowly chipping away at her overall resolve. Exercise tends to help with that, however.

It is something she recommends to every passenger aboard the Imperator Bellum. The natural chemicals released from even meager physical conditioning enough to help those around her sleep a little more calmly as well as help keep the flicker of flames in their eyes shining in a more positive light. Not enough to stress their rationing, but enough to help soothe mind, body, and spirit. Merely through stretching if need be for the untrained. She does this with them daily. Reminding herself that they all need something to urge them forward, to help keep their spirits balanced with their bodies and minds.

+1 Maintain morale - Increases morale of Custodes.

Among other recommended tasks, are preparations. Not so often as to become taxing, but as a reminder that there is a world of potential darkness awaiting them. Cleaning and inventorying the armory, making sure that every passenger is as in tune with their physical selves as they are with their extensions. That being their weapons, shields, and other supplies. Keeping busy is key for everyone. Including herself.

+1 Maintain armory - Increases readiness of Custodes

Selene continues her endeavor to stand with the people of Order of Force Majeure. Supporting all those she meets, a smile displaying volumes of kindness and strength where some may be dwindling. Every few hours she moves to a new place, cycling the area in order to get to know as many of them as possible. Taking note of their faces, their frames, their names, and their habits. Knowing the importance of doing so is to keep them close to her heart when times get dark. Otherwise, that abysmal void will threaten to destroy her alongside her origin of birth. In the end, only time will tell how well she has done.


It isn’t until the evening on day four, realizing the passage of time, that she expresses her concern. Not for herself or those closest to James, but for the rest of the custodes and people aboard the ship. “They are worried and strained. I can see it every time I look at them, and no matter what distractions we may provide… I fear that they will eventually lose their positive effect.”

Selene’s tone is overly calm, but tendrils of worry over those that surround them snake vehemently through them. The effects of traveling toward chaos growing stronger with the passing of each minute. Sapphire hues once nestled in the confines of his radiating chocolate eyes drift and wonder as they follow her train of thought. Toward the shadows of the room. As much as any other, she believes in the importance of their togetherness. United they can fight, separated and broken, they will fall. “However, I refuse to give up on providing as much incentive to stay strong as I can.” The weight of her words is heavy with the strength of her resolve. A soft smile crawling up the corners of her mouth as she says it.


 

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Ship Travel Turn 1:

Alexa’s first order of business was to talk to the airship crew. Though it had been some time since her last time in a warp-travel capable ship, her relative experience in the matter kept her head clear of most pressure, her psychic powers not being hampered in the immaterium and if anything, it would be amplified. Despite this, however, she was there to provide support in a more practical way. Sitting with the navigators one by one, she presented herself and explained the situation to them. She would act as sort of psychic radar and attune her energies to the ship as to support it’s own warp capabilities with her powers. She tried to keep a serious demeanor, but it didn’t take so much as hours to warm up to the crew. In contrast with her past life, she was seen as a good presence and valuable member of the group, some crewmates even flattering her with compliments.

“No offense but… The few Kadian Inquisitors we have met are not very amicable, or young… Or very social at all to be honest.” The Chief Navigator said, a strong, stern-looking woman named Arabella Cassini.

Alexa’s facade of a gruff and tuff inquisitor was not fooling anyone. Her eyes lacked the shadiness of a veteran Intelligence agent, and her voice was almost too soft for the presence her rank and uniform provided. However, what she lacked in intimidation she tried to balance with effort. After meeting everyone in the crew, she proceeded to the main deck and politely asked for some silence. She took a seat and began to focus her energy, her eyes beginning to glow and spark with blue essence. She could feel the waves of the immaterium around the ship, like putting her hand inside a pool of water. The very vibrations the Imperator Bellum caused on this warp ocean caused a small, almost imperceptible tug in her mind, allowing her to feel the contour of the ship as it sailed through the treacherous currents.

An hour passed with the Inquisitor merely sitting there, a few puzzled glances from the crew and a few custodes whose curiosity got the best of them. Eventually, the glow in her eyes receded, blinking a few times before standing up and sighing.

“My apologies if I took too long. I was getting accustomed to the flow of warp-energy around the ship. It was a bit overwhelming but I believe that I’m ready to use my powers to boost the ship when necessary.” She said, smiling softly. She also explained that she would periodically peer into the warp to see any deviations in their course and to scan for threats.

She smiled to herself, as the training was working as intended. Before, her energies were wild and unfocused and the act of peering into the warp itself would have taken a lot of concentration and stamina. Now she could do it with only a sliver of effort in comparison. Satisfied, she moved to her quarters to get some rest.

+1 to Ship Readiness

“Alexa…”

“Alexa… Help…”

“SISTER! WHERE ARE YOU?”

Alexa woke up suddenly in a cold sweat, her breathing ragged and heavy as she nervously looked around her searching for the voice she just heard.

Nothing. It was a dream, as countless nights before, the voice of her sister resonating on her mind, looking for her, asking for a help she couldn’t provide. She moved a white lock from her eyes and took a deep breath, slumping back down on the bed and burying her face on the pillow for a few more minutes.

She raised her hands. In the almost hermetic silence of her quarters, the low hissing from the thousands of nano-mechanisms working her artificial arm could be heard. Sometimes she didn’t even notice it anymore, as she had come to accept it as a symbol of the sacrifices she had made along the way. She wondered if she deserved it, if her survival as a psyker could have been the fate of someone else that she just managed to steal out of sheer luck. After all this time, she still struggled to understand… What was the purpose of her life. Why was she given such power if she was barely able to wield it properly, and what was even the point of it?

She remained like that for a few more minutes before finally getting out of bed and moving to the lavatory. After some alone time in the shower and other basic hygiene rituals, Alexa began to prepare herself, taking some time to check on the ship’s warp flow before changing into her uniform. Finding no anomalies, the young Inquisitor figured there was still some time to explore the ship and get more familiar with it.

The Imperator Bellum was an impressive ship, with enough facilities and space to hold and feed a small army. More like a flying fortress, it was obvious why it was chosen as the bastion for this expedition into Warpspace. Without noticing, her ruminations as she explored eventually led her to one of several training grounds. Stepping into the room, she could notice it being a simple but large place, with some training equipment at the sides serving as spice for the main attraction, the sparring circle in the middle. At the time, two Custodes were clashing swords fiercely. With trained steps and calculated attacks, their combat was a majestic back and forth, truly a match to consider.

Alexa smiled slightly, as she could see by herself that the Custodes were warriors of utmost skill and ferocity. She had no doubts that the moment the daemons attacked, these men are women would serve as a highly effective fighting force. As the combat drew to a close, Alexa offered to heal the injured, taking the time to meet the Custodes. Politely, Alexa then asked them for tips on how to fight. The warriors didn’t mind, and little by little they began to teach her some basic combat maneuvers.

Hours passed with the Inquisitor slowly warming up to her new teammates. In exchange for training her, Alexa gave them some helpful knowledge on the psychic capabilities of daemons, how to shield themselves against them and even tested her telepathic abilities on them. Overall, mingling with the soldiers ended up strengthening her will and she felt that this exercise had at least eased some of the tension that was already brewing from the prolonged trip through the immaterium.

+1 to Custodes Morale

As training waned, Alexa found herself introspecting. A tinge of worry crossed her mind. She knew what daemons were capable of, their savagery and warp-enhanced, and how they felt pleasure on corrupting the minds of the weak. Her own warp-touched mind was of concern for her. Would she be able to handle the pressure once the sorcerous energies were upon her? Only time would tell…

“Madame Inquisitor?” A voice called. Alexa quickly broke out from her thoughts to address it.

A Guardian stood in front of her, a woman 4 inches larger than her, sporting a highly athletic build and a blond side-buzz, her steely gray eyes bearing a dutiful look.

“Uh, I… Yes, Guardian, what can I help you with?” She answered, a bit taken aback by her presence.

“My name is Lena Drachenberg, I was assigned by Master Eredas to be part of your retinue for the duration of this mission. I assure you, my skills will be a fine compliment to yours once the battle rages on. It is an honor to fight at the side of a Kadian Inquisitor.” Lena answered with a solemn voice and polite bow.

Alexa fidgeted a bit before answered.

“Yes… I mean… Please call me Alexa. No need for honorifics.” She said, smiling.

The Guardian smiled as well, her steel-clad demeanor softening up a bit.

Alexa felt strange. She never had such thing as a “Retinue”, though it made sense given her new job. With Lena at her side, she felt much safer though. Making a mental note to thank James afterwards, the duo now moved to the main deck to check on the rest of the crew while more eventful things began to brew.

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In the quiet side alcove, James and Selene conversed, the former laying on on his most reassuring tone. “It will be fine. A little nervousness is good for the soldiers, as long as they are nervous now and straighten out when we come to grips with the enemy.” He smiled then, at her resulting pronouncement. He reached up and stroked her chin again, in the exact same fashion he had done so before they had boarded the vessel. Those lines still remembered his touch, he knew, maybe even desired it, subconsciously or not. “Well aren’t you stubborn and kind. I really love that about you” he teased, keen on her reaction. Not that Selene's concerns weren't well-founded of course. A few days into the travel, it had already struck some of the crew how they didn’t seem to be going anywhere. They felt the Imperator Bellum moving, they could see that it was if they went to the bridge and looked out into the maddening lights flashing by. However, at the estimated speed being registered on the ship’s instruments, had they been in realspace, the warship would have been at the capital of Kadia already. For many, it was their first taste of travel through an otherworldly dimension.

The beautiful young woman before him did her part to aid in the upkeep of the ship and her crew, but who supported her? 

He did.

As the two continued to confer on the fourth day, all aboard the ship would feel the vessel being suddenly rocked. Alarms came out immediately after, red emergency lighting illuminated the corridors and rooms. A call for command to head to the bridge came up, only one step short of calling for full battle stations, and James muttered a short and obscure curse in another language under his breathe at being interrupted again, and before making for the bridge, with the Kadian knightess likely hot on his heels.

---

The bridge was in a flurry of activity when he entered, ensigns running left and right, constantly updating officers with the current status of the ship and its crew, officers who in turn, updated their captain. Who would in turn, now would update him. There was no time to lose. “Report” James commanded.

Daekian_Clavis.png 

The Captain of the Imperator Bellum was a Custode named Daekian Clavis. He was in his late 20s, like James, wearing a short-buzzed military haircut, and a hard gaze, made colder by the fact that one of his eyes was a cybernetic implant. He might have been handsome once if it were not for that robotic lens marring his visage, but it spoke of experience at the very least, and helped give him an air of authority. The crisp uniform probably helped. He was a consummate professional, adept at soldiering, commanding, and strategy. A transplant from the other branches of Custodes, had he remained in his prior position, he may well have become a vaunted Greatsword.

The Chief Navigator turned to James as well, a young woman by the name of Arabella Cassini. Hailing from Predator’s Keep, she was an initiate of an outreach program by the Force Majeure for recruiting Custodes. Her family had once lived in Sigil City before moving over to Predator’s Keep Valucre as part of an migration by those whom were psionically sensitive. Her stern features were chiseled from the intensity of directing the Imperator Bellum through the Harrowing storms, a burden that might have been too much if not for the Kadian Inquisitor Alexa’s aid, and that of her own subordinates.

Arabella_Cassini.png

 

Daekian answered first, “Master Eredas. Our engines seem to have suffered some sort of malfunction that damaged our LDW drives. The engineering chief reports that it is not catastrophic, but we will be rapidly fall out of and exit the storms.”

Will the ship be able to stay airborne?” James asked, to which his Captain shook his head. “Negative, my Lord, not if we want to be able to repair the engines.” At this point, Arabella chimed in, “My lord, I do not know where in Kadia we will appear in. Before we lost the engines I sensed a pulse through the currents, and it temporarily disrupted our navigational charts as well. However, I have sensed a passive locale ahead where we may be able to disengage and make repairs, safe from the storm. I still would like to recommend that all personnel be armed and ready for physical confrontation.”

Sound for battlestations then” The Daemonslayer replied instantly. “Make sure the engineers get the repairs done as soon as possible. I want to know why it happened and if it can be avoided in the future. ” With a chorus of ayes the crew set to their work. In their case, they had already been leaning toward the Master Knight’s commands, as it was the logical, and best course of action.

---

Another five minutes later felt the lurch of the warship as it exited the warp, mercifully before the storms and tides of the Harrowing could buffet the rudderless Imperator Bellum off course any further and tear it apart. Those on the bridge would behold a vast, desolate land tinted with crimson, a dessert with howling sands and splattered with drops of blood. The landscape was utterly alien to any of Kadian birth, it was unlike anything any of them had seen before or knew existed in Kadia before. Had the powers of the Harrowing twisted the land so much? Were they still even in the Warp Storm? As James gazed out at the landscape, he decided that they were not, but it was still close enough. They were isolated and anchored in the middle of a vast churning sea, and nothing good could come from being here even a minute longer than they had to be. He was proven right a moment later as Captain Daekian reported contact on the sensors. The 3D projection of the ship and the area surrounding displayed red dots blinking into existence at the edges, first sporadically, and then in increasing number until It was as though a flood.

Why-Website-Visitor-Tracking-is-Essential.jpg

Human?”

The augers read no identifiable biological signs of any type. “Negative Master Eredas”  

James nodded. Striding over to the primary command console, he pulled a communicator to him, and hit the button for ship-wide broadcast, “This is James Eredas to all points. We have enemies inbound on our location. Custodes you know what to do! Defend the ship! Do not let them aboard!” Giving a nod to Daekian to take over, James turned away to head to his quarters and armor up, motioning for his comrades and allies to do the same. The ship captain took over with gusto, resuming communication on the line with the rest of the vessel’s crew. “Gunners cycle up the weapons. Navigation find us a path out of here and be ready to go. Engineering, our militants will buy you the time to finish your work. Do it fast and do it well!

Edited by Fierach

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Not much, if anything at all; managed to resist the corruptive changes wrought by the Harrowing. The lands around the cities and fortified settlements had become dangerous and hostile to humans, much as it had been many millennia ago when mannkind took its first steps. It was as though the dark and primordial nightmares of distant genetic memory had returned to rear its ugly head once more before mankind. Things that had not walked the land in those millennia once more returned, and far worse soon followed after.

Those humans who could not escape to the safety of the obelisks’ influence were presumed dead, if they were lucky; or far worse. Plants turned into vicious creatures, consuming everything that came close. Some creatures had existed before the Harrowing, crawling from their dark holes at the call of their false and evil gods. Beasts became vicious monstrosities that could not be recognized, having changed into creatures that inspired madness and fear in those who looked upon the.

Then there were the horrors.

Creatures made from the raw stuff of corruption. Maddened and jittering creatures, creatures of such asymmetry that they were painful or uncomfortable to look upon. Lesser daimons stalked the lands, summed in costly sacrifice by the Aravians in their desert strongholds. They had already been changed by their dark gods, and here in the sea of corruption their power, and madness; were amplified. Their cities now places dedicated to the dark practices of ruinous powers. Cities of torture, or murder, even betrayal. A dark reflection of the Kadians.

Howling, low and and mad echoed from the hills, hunched bipedal shapes coming into view as these creatures crested the hills. They were the most hated of the beings that could be found in Kadia and elsewhere on Valucre.

Large bodies built of powerful muscle and sinew, their movements seen easily beneath a thick leathery hide, sparsely covered by stiff matted brown fur. Their heads those of Hyenas, a cruel smiling face revealing yellowed fangs and a lolling tongue dripping with brackish saliva. A mockery of man by the dark gods, a challenge to the purity of their species. Unlike demi-humans, who possess human intelligence, these creatures did not possess such a level of intelligence. Capable of only crafting the most crude of weapons and armor. Though their toughness and strength more than made up for it.

The were possessed of a brute cunning, and every bit of cruelty one would expect from a hyena, if not more so. They possessed a penchant for the women of the human species, often using them as breeding stock or tools of ritual. They took great pleasure in defilement, their desires and the acts that are driven by them are a ritual in themselves. It was these very creatures that looked at the massive ship, drawn by the powerful psionic presences onboard.

@Fierach @Maverick @Tenkai Matsumoto @-Lilium-

 

Edited by Alexei

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The daemonic beast-men seemed without end. At the very least, they looked to be in the hundreds, and they far outnumbered the complement of Custodes, Knights, and their allies aboard the Imperator Bellum. They surged over the hills, braying in anticipation and challenge, eager for bloodshed. The malfunctioning airship landed, and it's bay doors opened, over a dozen of Custodes Militants fully armed and armored disembarked to set up a thin battle-line amidst the blasted landscape.

desert_ruins_by_blinck-d304j7r.jpg

 

They were in some luck thankfully, the Navigator managed to set the vessel down among some rocky outcroppings. They would only have to face the enemy from one side. It was a small advantage to be sure, but every one counted at this moment. James nodded to Captain Clavis, and left him in overall command of the ship as he went to join his forces outside. As he stepped out, the turrets upon the Imperator Bellum turned to face the beastmen horde, and fire thundered out from the barrels. Energy lances and ballistic shells rained into the misshapen hyenas, tearing great holes in their army as they advanced across the dusty hills and windswept plain toward the landed airship. Guardians levied their halberds out, ready to meet them head on with grit and steel. Seekers behind them checked their ammunition reserves and looked to target particularly imposing looking specimens as per their training. The four Greatswords that were on the vessel rechecked their weapons and spread themselves out along the line, to act as rally points. 

James himself strode forth, taking a place in the center of the line, the ornate Daemonbane armor clad, nodachi Amaterasu in hand, slung across his shoulder. He tasted the death upon the air and growled low, quite eager himself to come to grips with the enemy and rend the daemon to pieces. The heavy weapons of the airship continued to roar overhead, and adding to it now was weapons fire from the assembled Custodes. The Guardians' shotguns reached out with specialized ammunition, blasting holes even in the thick hide of the beast-men, while the larger calibur rifles of the Greatswords barked a piercing line of death. Seekers fired crippling shots, taking out the knees of several charging hyenas, forcing them to be trampled as their fellows charged over them, and tripped, and fell victim themselves in turn. Still, the beast-men came. 

Now was the time for speech, to exalt great fury and courage, to exhort his companions to glorious battle. 

But as even as the Master Knight raised his sword, its sun-kissed blade bursting into flame, the air around him heavy with his aura and sheer martial presence, James glimpsed something amongst the horde most dire.

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A Tower of Skulls. Daemon Engine of War

Before he could address the appearance of this new threat, the vanguard of the horde would meet the Force Majeure... and utter carnage reigned

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Alexa left the ship with an uncertain step, a glowing excoriator in hand while the other firmly gripped her side-arm. Slowly, she paced her breath, in and out, in and out, softly, as to prepare herself for the unavoidable battle ahead. Lena stood at her side, doning her helmet firmly and doing a final check on her gear before turning to the Inquisitor.

"Are you nervous Madame Inquisitor?" The Guardian asked.

Alexa nodded, nervously checking her gear once again.

"It's not my first time against beasts like this but... The feeling never changes. These demons will never relent..." She answered.

"Then..." Lena continued, loading her shotgun with a menacing cocking. "We shall stop them in their tracks. Do not worry Alexa, I won't let them get near you."

There they stood, stalwart and fearless, the Order of Force Majeure. The Greatswords yelled battle chants, their warriors hyping themselves up for all out war. In the center of the line, Master Eredas stood undaunted, a sight that, would the beastmen not lack the basic emotional spectrum beyond hunger, would surely make them think twice, thrice even, to stand against such a distinguished warrior. It almost made Alexa feel the thrill of the battle to come... Perhaps the therapy was working, or perhaps it was the small shred of confidence she gained during her training. Nevertheless, she still feared... She knew what these beasts did to their defeated foes, specially to their women... It was a thought best left for the dark recesses of her mind.

"Some of them will probably come for me... I trust you will protect me?" Alexa asked, a tinge of fear in her voice.

Lena answered by putting a strong, armor-clad hand on Alexa's shoulder.

"By my will, these beasts will fall before us Inquisitor. I shall be your shield."

Alexa and Lena took their place in the line, a mere few paces in the back, as Alexa's abilities would serve better as fire-support.

Then it began.

The Imperator's cannons began firing a string of shells that would fell lesser armies in seconds. The Custodes blasted holes, ripped limps and cracked heads with their superior weaponry, scores of corrupted falling in their approach to the wall of soldiers. Alexa's eyes began to glow as she started to release bolts of pure kinetic-energy towards the sky, striking the hordes of beasts with warp-artillery in an attempt to make as much damage as possible.

Suddenly in the distance, she could feel the tug of something... Something big coming. Alexa stopped in her tracks, her eyes widening, a nauseous sensation sinking into her stomach. Then it appeared, from the dust raised by the horde trampling.

"No... It can't be..." She whispered, taking a step back and covering her mouth with her cybernetic hand. Lena held her up, preventing her from falling.

"Inquisitor... Alexa, what's wrong?" She asked.

Alexa looked at her before pointing towards the distant point.

"It's a... Daemon Engine. I've seen them at work before... We must tell everyone. If that thing isn't destroyed, it will wipe us out like we are simple vermin."

Lena huffed and pinged her communicator.

"Master Eredas. Inquisitor Caelestia has confirmed the presence of a Daemon Engine in the field."

Before she could continue, however, the horde of beastmen finally crashed into the front line of the Custodes. The Carnage began, the fierce warriors cutting the foul spawns left and right. With the battlefield strewn with gore and blood, it was just a matter of time before some Custodes began to crack under the assault. Alexa and Lena moved forward towards the battle in order to help, the Guardian joining her brothers and sisters in the fray, remaining close to Alexa at all times just in case. Meanwhile, the Psyker began signaling the soldiers to bring the wounded to her.

"Bring the injured to me quick! I can heal you."

A Greatsword quickly turned to the squad, barking orders.

"Form a perimeter around the Inquisitor, protect the wounded, Guardians, I want a Halberds on all fronts, Seekers, flanking positions, look for high ground."

As the wounded began to retreat to her position, Alexa asked them to group in front of her before channeling her powers through them. Their flesh would mend in a very short span, a rather painful procedure, but no pain a warrior of their caliber couldn't bear. Only a few minutes would pass before the small group would be ready to fight once again and another set of wounded would take their place. Hopefully, by doing this, numbers would not easily overwhelm them as the battle raged on.

In between healing the troops, Alexa also used her psychic powers to provide ranged support against the beastmen, erecting barriers to allow for flanking and pushing large clumps of enemies back, providing some respite to the more overworked units. As combat entered more advanced phases, it wasn't long before even her blade began tasting heretic blood. Lena always at her side, Alexa used her psychically-enhanced blade and full repertoire of abilities to stop the hordes in their tracks. But their numbers were too many, and they could only buy the crew some time before the Daemon Engine was upon them.

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@Alexei

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Yellow hues were ignited by the pain from her broken arm and the immeasurable amount of worry building up in her chest. A sister of Leonis Sororitas should not be so plain and eager with her expressions painted by overwhelming emotions. The comforts of a simple life had undoubtedly not prepared the young woman for this ... this travesty that has befallen Kadia. Three years, one would think the sister would be hardened against the horrors, but each day brings different dangers to her home. No amount of creative thinking could have really prepared her for this event. 

Tired and weary, the woman looked around for a place to sit; finding a spot atop a decorated table, she sat down and slumped against the wall. Her arm will have to be set back into place, and by some grace of the Holy-Mother, Sister Rosalind will force herself to heal quickly. There are only about fifty Sisters left in her cloister, and it's them with the capability to continuously purify the city. Rosalind will not leave her Sisters without some leadership, not when so many depend on their abilities in the heart of battle. A broken arm is nothing compared to a broken Empire.

"Beastmen," she said breathlessly. "We had just finished off a hoard of Aravians, lowering our numbers."

There was no recanting a marvelous battle; the truth is what matters now, and she is in no position to give him an excellent review of their failures. Sure, they had pushed back the Aravians, given them a taste of their own medicine but they had lost much to do very little. It made her a bit bitter, but she understood that each inch forward keeps pushing their enemies backward by feet. To save and preserve their home, some lives must be lost for the masses to live. 

"In the confusion, they appeared seamlessly onto the battlefield and overwhelmed us. Olympia, as you Melisende do, rushed forward and tried to disarm a majority of the creatures."

Reaching into her battle-torn robes, the Sister produced a broken vial that was Kalopsian make; a crystalline creation that is stained by the liquid that had once inhabited it.

"She infused this item and threw it before being run through by the beastmen," she handed over the vial over to Connor before heaving a sigh. 

Rosalind understands that SoulSeekers can infuse their soul with their weapons and armor, but she didn't think they could do it to other items. Olympia has excelled as a SoulSeeker and being a student of Deiter's, it should not have come as a surprise that she found different ways to use her abilities. The ramifications of such painted the battlefield, showing that the woman may have been too hasty in her judgment. 

"It saved us in the end. The beastmen were enveloped by a bright light and then burned to ash; the ground is tainted with their silhouettes."

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As the ship continued on its perilous journey, Tenkai would be found in his quarters polishing Muramasa in traditional fashion. There were a number of tools set out in front of him, so simple by comparison to the technology surrounding him that he may as well have been using rocks and twigs. The swords’s modern-tech fittings, far more advanced by comparison, laid at his side while he worked. Despite the changes it had undergone, the Muramasa’s blade itself remained as it always was. The cursed edge itself needed no upgrading, or even sharpening for that matter. However, the occasional polish certainly didn’t hurt.

The aura of the blade stirred as the monk worked the ridge with oil and cloth. Muramasa’s temperament was sometimes that of a bloodthirsty monster, but during sessions like these it was more like a disgruntled pet dog who didn’t enjoy baths. It loved to be stained in blood and gore like a pig loved being covered in mud, so polishing it clean was a very dubious ordeal for it. Not much blood remained on the blade after Muramasa was slaked in battle, but any small trace of plasma or fat that wasn’t burned away by Muramasa’s “feeding” was not good for it. So Tenkai did what any responsible sword owner would do, with any other ordinary sword.

Tenkai liked to think of it as “bonding time”.

Indeed, the surrounding warpspace had made Muramasa’s spirit far more active than usual. Tenkai surmised it had something to do with the Warp. Spirits, even those that belonged to weapons like Muramasa, reacted to Warpspace in peculiar ways. With the veil of reality lifted so, it was far easier for supernatural phenomena to manifest themselves. Communing with the sword, which otherwise would have required silent meditation to achieve, was as simple as speaking to it verbally. Tenkai refrained from this, however, knowing that it would’ve been unsettling to any crew member who walked in on him.

Or barged into his room urgently, for that matter. Which was exactly what happened.

The hydraulic door hissed as it slid open, and a Custodes rushed into Tenkai’s room.  The monk was not annoyed by the abrupt breach of privacy. After all, the Custodes never did things like this without good reason.

“Sir Tenkai!” said the Custodes, “We need you on the bridge! We’re...”

A sudden fit of turbulence nearly threw the man off balance. For the majority of their journey, the ship had sailed relatively smoothly without much trouble. But something had changed, and it was likely pertaining to whatever the Custodes was trying to alert him to.

“Understood.”

Tenkai quickly reattached the fittings of his sword. The job he had done so far would have to do for now. 

As Tenkai stopped onto the bridge, he was greeted by the sight of what he could only presume was Kadia. Or at least it should have been. There was no way to tell what it was anymore. The Harrowing had turned the land around them into a Warp-blasted mockery of what it should have been. Even if this was Kadia, they wouldn’t have been able to tell. It certainly wasn’t the Warp, but it may as well have been after how twisted it had become. 

But now was not the time to marvel at the scenery. Tenkai was no expert navigator, but even he knew that it was far too early for them to re-enter realspace. If this even was realspace, for that matter. It couldn’t have been the Warp, as to look upon it directly was to invite madness. This view alone was unsettling enough.

But that was the least of their worries.

It wasn’t long before the readings came in, detecting multiple hostile entities and a high degree of Warp corruption among them. Tenkai got a fairly good look at them through the ship’s scouting cameras. A horde of beast-men twisted into canine forms, bearing the mark of the Blood God. They were a living flood of brutality and wrongness. James was already putting out the alert to all Custodes aboard the ship. Today would be their first bloody contact with the enemy.

 

————————————

 

“This is a good position,” Tenkai said, standing alongside James as they prepared to step off the ship. “But I am still wary. We must not presume the enemy is ignorant of their own territory. They may know of ways to reach the top of these outcroppings. If they flank us from above, that’ll be a real problem.”

Scanners hadn’t detected any presence hiding in ambush, but that didn’t set Tenkai at ease. This place was tainted by the Warp, and they were now thusly outside the realm of logic. These were still thoughts t be considered. 

Regardless, the plan would not deviate, and their path was clear. Once they had finally left the ship, James led the charge against the hundreds of marauding beastmen and the rest of the Order followed suit. Tenkai would not tarry any longer. 

The monk wasted no time, not bothering to exhibit any flashy display of his spiritual might. The enemy was dedicated to Khorne, who spurned magic and longed for combat. Tenkai wished not to chance a waste of his energy in case his special abilities be rendered ineffective. There would be no need for that now.

With the Muramasa drawn, Tenkai charged the line alongside the Custodes, his sights set on a large beastmsn hefting a particularly heavy long-handled axe. The two seemed poised to clash, their weapons meeting simultaneously in vertical downward strokes. Clearly the beastman thought his strength would be enough to completely overwhelm Tenkai and break through his offense. 

That was a mistake. 

Tenkai brought his weapon forward in a downward stroke with the timing altered just so that his blade would meet above the axe’s point of balance. Tenkai’s unexpected strength and the resilience of his sword would come together in his technique, deflecting the axe off to his right side while simultaneously bringing his sword down onto his foe. The air pressure from the force of the strike alone was enough to cleave downward through the mutant’s body and split him in half. 

From there, Tenkai quickly moved on to the next foe, never letting his attention stay fixated for long in the middle of the fierce melee as he aided the Custodes in driving back the threat. And well that he did this, such so that he could see the tower of skulls in the distance as the enemy sought to settle the score.

“I had a feeling this would happen!” Tenkai called out to James in the middle of battle. “I hope you have a plan for this!”

 

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All along the lines, there were acts of valor. On one flank, a Greatsword Mortis had to hold by himself as the Guardians ordered fell back to support the Inquisitor as she healed. The heavy machine gun in his hands roared, scything down the hounds of Chaos like a farmer upon his autumn harvest. 

Elsewhere, the halbardiers worked in concert, using teamwork and the lengths of their weapons to take down numerous beastmen before they could come to grips. One soldier found himself yanked out of formation however, a dying monster's grasp pulling him out through his own grip on his weapon. The Guardian went sprawling, and looked up to see two hulking figures loom over him, ready to smash him to a pulp with brute strength.

They never got the chance. With a single thunderous discharge, their upper bodies were snatched away in a storm of blood and steel, a Greatsword lumbering up in a deceptively casual gait, reloading a titanic, smoking, four-barreled shotgun with one hand, and hauled the wayward Guardian back into line with the other. 

The Force Majeure forces were not swamped, not yet. Their weapons and the firepower of the Imperator Bellum struck great ragged holes in the first wave, vast as it was, but that was about to change.

"I see it!" James snarled in reply, to the communication from Lena, ducking under one beastman's blow and gutting it in half with his nodachi. The blade alight with the power of his flames and his fury, Amaterasu flashed again and again as the Daemonslayer clove through the oncoming brutes. Neither their musculature nor their armor threatened him in the slightest, each swing cutting through both as though only air were there. James redirected communications back to the ship. "Helm! New target! Priority Alpha"

The gunners upon the frigate retrained their weapons and opened fire upon the daemon engine, for even whilst grounded the airship was as a fortress. It was for naught however, as the fire burst across what seemed to be an dome of energy shielding the Tower of Skulls from harm. Whatever arcane, shimmering protections lay upon the daemonic war machine warded it from the fury of the Imperator Bellum's salvoes as it drew ever closer, and lined up its first shot.

Aboard the frigate,  the bridge crew was in a frenzy. When Captain Daekian Clavis saw what was happening, he snapped to an ensign immediately. "Raise the shields!" he roared. "We don't have enough power to maintain the shields and the energy cannons!" the subordinate voiced, but Daekian overruled his objections, "If we don't raise the shields we're dead! Do it now!"

Outside, those in close proximity could feel their hair raise as the airship's shields powered up with a warbling hum. A belch of fire erupted from the barrel of the Tower of Skulls as it fired an infernal projectile that hurtled across the battlefield with the power of a thousand damned souls behind it and slammed straight into the frigate's void shielding, and all on the Force Majeure vessel felt the impact rattle their bones. Flaming pieces of shrapnel rained down, catching one Guardian on fire. The return fire of the vessel redirected itself back onto the beastmen army, but the damage was done. Without the brilliant lance flashes of its energy weaponry, they rushed the position being held by the Custode Militant in greater numbers.

James grit his teeth. They would just have to die in greater droves then! His keen eyes detected a figure leading the way ahead of the daemon engine. A beastman of greater size then the rest, over ten feet of bronzed muscle, with horns and a bullish face, wielding a eight-tailed flail in one hand and a horn in the other, bellowing exultations to the horde. There was a crimson aura about the creature, more than visible thanks to an artificer machine on its back. The aura seemed to swell with the blood-thirst of the horde, which was fueled by the monstrous leader's war cries, and this in turn fed the shimmering shield of the Tower of Skulls, a cycle of death.

"Out of my way" the Daemonslayer snarled. As a throng of bestial bodies loped toward him, the flames upon his blade burned ever brighter. James channeled his formidable aura through it, and swept it forth, unleashing a devastating wave of sacred fire that charred the earth and reduced anything caught in its path into scorched ruin. A brief respite was earned as he then sought out the monk. Getting his attention, the Daemonslayer pointed out the leader of the beastmen as updates chattered in from the officers aboard the Imperator Bellum.

"I do! We need to slay that creature! That machine on its back, its drawing upon the horde and shielding the Tower! Take it down and the frigate can rip that thing apart!"

Edited by Fierach

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k2axoLr.pngVery few could handle the current situation Kadia faced, one that determined whether they would survive as a people and country, or became footnotes in the history of Valucre. Though three years of constant conflict would harden and rookie, these conflicts were of an entirely different nature. This was not a war against a rival denizens of their homeworld. This was a conflict against the very forces of madness and nightmare, and one on which not only their lives, but very souls; hinged upon. Those in the Church knew this better than most, had been trained in some degree for the conflicts of soul and faith.

In truth, nothing could have fully prepared them for this.

He walked with Rosalind as she looked for a place to sit, keeping a dignified distance between them. His brother’s lover she may be, right now required him to be the acting sovereign. The image he imposses was paramount. Once she had seated herself, he stood before her with his arms folded behind his back, his expression no longer soft, but hard as stone. He prepared himself for whatever ill news he was about to receive from the Sister.

He stood by quietly as she gave him to more important details. Though the victory against the Aravians was certainly a good thing, the beastmen had risen the costs of it, and almost doomed the effort to failure. By the looks of it, Rosalind and Oly had barely managed to keep that from coming to pass, though it took one out of the fight and broke the other’s arm. His face became grim, his lips drew a straight line across his handsome features. In that moment he looked more like his father.

Bleak and cold.

Connor took the vial, the source of his concern, green eyes staring at intently. “So this substance became incredibly volatile when imbued with the power of a Soulseeker.” He said, turning the vial about under the light. “A similar but more pronounced effect when we Melisende focus our Influence on mages and psions.” He muttered, his attention distracted for a moment. He shook his head, returning the green eyed gaze onto the Sister. “Did she mention if she had any more of this substance?” If not he would have to wait until Olympia was tended to.

“Alright, I’ll take a force to the location of you battle, personally.” He said, something in his gut said that this was but a prelude. “I have little doubt that those foul creatures will attempt once more to pass through there. It’s the only way to flank or position.” He said, his face maintaining its grim expression. “Rosalind, have your arm treated and take a rest, the city will need you more than the battlefield soon.” He said.

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Their talk had given her some sense of encouragement. A light at the end of the tunnel perhaps, though fickle it was. For the following day is marked only with darkness. Selene had spent the better part of the early morning hours working with and brightening the mental health of her comrades. James’ people being of great importance to her as they are to him. His brethren and students. His family.

Alarms began to blare. The flashing lights, the sounds of boots hustling along the halls of the ship. The time had come, and it had so very unintentionally quickly. Turbulence rocks her steps as she moves towards the bridge. Barely catching the last of the conversation before there is little to do but hit the ground running.


There is little to say when her eyes finally land on what used to be a portion of her homeland. The dry heat of desolation runs across her skin, prickling every aspect of emotion she has. All of it coming together to form a sullen and bleak mask of emotionless darkness. It shadows the glow of her blue eyes, darkening their radiance with a profound rage. This tainted land, impregnated with the horrid beastmen who’d rendered it null. Alongside the others, she wields her sword. The oncoming enemy forces taking damage as well as giving it. 

From her peripheries she watches the lines surge, weapons readied and fighting. Some continue onward, while others disappear into the newly founded dust kicked up from their march along with the intrusion of beastman that collide against them. Even with all the clamor, she can pick out particular sounds, familiar as they are. The voices of both Tenkai and James as they holler above the motions of battle.

“Both of you, do what you must to that monster. I’ll cover your backs!” As soon as the creatures find out what plan it is Tenkai and James are following through with, some of them will divert. Raining down upon the two as they attempt to take out the giant and it’s shield producing gear. Here is where Selene will ring out the fury of her vengeance. The necessary draw of blood that will bring down such treacherous and foul beasts. With every swing of her blade, a limb will be severed, and every blow from her boots and fists will leave them broken and bloodied. She would help show them the might of Kadia, that of which she knows her people have already been doing.


@Fierach @Tenkai Matsumoto

Edited by -Lilium-

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It seemed like the battle had been raging for hours by now, and every Custode around them was ever present in combat, their near superhuman stamina stretching into it's limits as every swipe of their weapons and every shot of their shotguns rent flesh and bone by the troves. Yet the beastman hordes didn't relent, as with every fallen warrior there was another three to take it's place. Alexa alternated between healing and fighting as well, supported by Lena at all times. However, her stamina was nowhere near the level of the custodes, and with every blade swipe and every psychic bolt she dealt her breath became more ragged and pained. Panting, she knelt next to a wounded Guardian and began to heal his wounds.

The sound of the Imperator's cannons created a tempo she could keep up with. Every shot pushed the horde back a few inches, and the militants didn't hesitate to push harder into the fray. It allowed her to focus on healing and rest up a bit before having to retake her place as psychic artillery.

That's when it happened.

The Daemon Engine fired a shot that rattled the very earth they were standing in. As the bolt of warp energy crashed into the Imperator Bellum's shields, the sheer magnitude of the impact almost threw Alexa off balance. She saw as some Custodes near the ship caught fire and desperately attempted to quench the flames. Others were thrown back and knocked by the blast, but that wasn't the worst part of it. The ship had redirected all energy to the shields, the cannons stopping their onslaught upon the beast hordes. Without the support of the ships weaponry, the beastmen crashed into the Force Majeure ranks with increased savagery. Alexa stood there, watching the wretched army of wild sinew and muscle push through the soldiers on the field, cutting down what they could and bashing that they could not. The Custodes fought with greater zeal as well, but the numbers were against them.

She fought that familiar feeling in her gut, her hand grasping on her blade so hard her knuckles would go white if they weren't bionic. Her other hand rested on her temple, trying to soothe the heartbeats pounding into her brain. She wanted to run, to find ephemeral safety somewhere, to curl up and cry.

"Inquisitor!"

Alexa opened her eyes. Lena was in front of her, clashing blades with a massive monster of a beastman, her armor chipped and scratched. Despite her great strength, the beast proved to be driven to split her in two as his axe fell over and over, Lena's halberd barely resisting the savage attacks. A sudden rush of adrenaline came by the Inquisitor as she saw her aide so close to being cut down. Her mind went blank for a second, rushing to understand the situation in front of her. Her eyes glanced to her mechanic arm, the blade glowing a faint blue hue. Her exhaustion dissapeared and her body acted on instinct.

The daemon touched warrior swung it's axe down heavily, but before it could crash into Lena, it stopped suddenly. The beastman's muscles bulged as he tried to finish his swing, or to move his axe at all, but an invisible force kept the wicked cutter in place. A scream was heard, and out of the corner of it's eye, Alexa jumped into it's view, her eyes aflame with warp energy. In one stroke, her blade buried deep into the beast's chest before pulling it out and thrusting it right under it's muzzle, the simmering of warp fire evaporating the blood that shot out and came in contact with the warp enhanced metal.

More beasts came to avenge the fallen barbarian, and Lena met them head first, Alexa close by with her eyes shimmering in unbriddled warp power.

"We must push into their ranks, Lord James and Commander Tenkai must be covered at all cost!" Lena screamed into the communication link. As an unit, a group of guardians moved with the pair and created a sort of spearhead, eventually fighting their way to the group protecting the advance of their leader units.

Alexa and Lena fought next to Knight Selene with all the might they could muster. The Inquisitor moved forward and raised her arms, projecting a directed stasis field that stopped the beasts around them in their tracks. With this opportunity, James and Tenkai would have enough breathing room to carve a path towards their objective, also allowing the custodes guarding their backs to retaliate and score some easy kills. However, the strain of her psychic powers was exhausting her, and Alexa struggled to keep the field up.

"Hurry! I... I don't know how much more I can hold it!" She said into the comm link.

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On 4/5/2019 at 12:37 AM, Fierach said:

"I do! We need to slay that creature! That machine on its back, its drawing upon the horde and shielding the Tower! Take it down and the frigate can rip that thing apart!"

"Understood."

Tenkai's lone eye stared down the horde of beastment before him as they wheeled out their mechanical monstrosity. Through his other eye, the beastmen were an absolute sea of red, their souls bearing the corrupt blood-red tempering of the Blood God. Among the raging throng, Tenkai could see the largest one among them that James had pointed out. Indeed, some manner of machinery was generating the shield that prevented the frigate from taking out their siege weapon. As long as they kept the power diverted to the shields, the frigate wouldn't be able to cover them. If the beastmen were allowed to bombard them with impunity, they would be forced to retreat back inside the frigate. Even then, the void shields would not hold up forever if their siege was unimpeded.

With the target clearly in sight, the only issue now was the matter of getting through the horde in order to cut him down. James and the others already had their hands full fighting against the unsuppressed charge. Tenkai needed to carve his way through their ranks if he wanted to get through to their leader, and even then it would take time that they had so little of. Fortunately, the stasis field erected by Inquisitor Alexa had rendered much of this problem moot, cutting a sharp divide through the horde. That left Tenkai with a more reasonable amount of foes to contend with, but they couldn't be so stupid as to not see what Tenkai and James were trying to do. They wouldn't just let them walk up to their leader, who had the lynchpin of their assault in his possession. But the damned followers of Khorne were no strange adversary to the warrior monk, and he knew how to play their unholy devotion against them.

If it was blood that they wanted, then they would have it.

Tenkai drew Muramasa from its sheath, its blade gleaming against the Warp-blasted sands. The sword was far smaller than anything the brutes wielded, but any who knew of what Tenkai was capable of knew that this was a trivial matter. The braying mass of bloodthirsty killers before him wouldn't care either way. Tenkai could come at them with a toothpick or a sword the size of the Imperator Bellum itself for all they cared. They didn't care that the monk, charging alone directly into their ranks with his sword at his side, would look like some madman with a death wish fighting on such a one-sided scale. Be it their blood or his, all that mattered to them was that it was spilled, and Khorne had his fill. One equally eager beastman hefted a massive cleaver-blade on a long haft above his head, ready to split Tenkai in two before he could even reach him with his much smaller sword. With Muramasa held in both hands, he raised his blade high from a tail guard to overhead a fraction of a beat after the beastman assumed his stance.

There was a brilliant flash as steel clashed with blood-spattered steel, followed by a surge of blood. When the dust and crimson mist settled, the beastman fell into two pieces onto the sands, split right down the middle.

To others, it looked like the two of them had cut each other at the same time when they simultaneously struck. But the point of balance of Tenkai's blade met with the ridge of the beastman's sword towards its tip, and the follow-through of his blade brought him into an overbind that diverted the larger sword off to Tenkai's right side. The force of Tenkai's ki behind his strike caused his measure to extend well past the length of his sword, cutting the creature down in a single stroke.

From there, Tenkai did not let up in his momentum. He was a whirlwind of steel, his blade like a streak of light against the numerous beastmen who came at him from all angles, trying to overtake him. Their eagerness proved to be their downfall, as Tenkai exploited every opening they gave him in a continuous chain. There would be no worrying cuts or glancing blows. Each strike had to be critical, slashing apart bodies and cutting off limbs and heads in order to completely incapacitate each monstrosity that came his way. Anything short of that would just be shrugged off as they went berserk.

Eventually, however, things started getting a little tight. Despite his ability to strike beyond his measure, Tenkai couldn't just wave his sword around like magic all day and reduce them all to ribbons outside of his reach. Having waded this deep into the enemy's ranks, the monk needed to keep them at distance and control the crowd. It was as good a time as any to demonstrate just how versatile Tenkai had become thanks to his new-and-improved wargear.

Finding a brief gap in the seemingly endless ranks of beastmen, Tenkai brought his sword back to his sheath on the left side of his hip and, strangely, stuck it back in backwards. The kashira (pommel) of his sword somehow interfaced with the kuchi (mouth/opening) of his high-tech scabbard. Small hydraulic mechanisms whirred and plates shifted as it pulled the weapon inside of it, until the entirety of the modified hilt was inside the sheath. With his free hand, Tenkai pulled the sheath free from behind his back on the right side, sword still attached as the sheath became its new hilt. He brandished this new weapon briefly before settling in a middle guard, his hands spaced a foot and a half apart on the long "hilt" of his sword which now resembled a nagamaki rather than an uchigatana. 

Tenkai made good use of his extended reach, his sword now a full 60 inches long from tip to pommel. The horde resumed its assault, and this time Tenkai was able to meet a few of them before even their own blades came within measure, choking up on and sliding down the haft of his weapon to reach past their guard. He swung in a much wider arc than he normally could unpowered with a katana, hacking off their fingers and hands and taking their legs from under them. At close range, the extra hilt space gave him more leverage, like a zweihander held at half-sword. Yet in spite of this different means of operation, his weapon was still the same preternaturally sharp blade as it ever was, slicing through their malformed muscle and sinew with ease.

Still, a five foot sword only barely increased his measure past most of their weapons, and that was not counting the reach granted to them by their Khorne-blessed physiques. If Tenkai truly wanted to stave off the crowd, he needed to go longer.

Coming up from a left-to-right horizontal stroke, Tenkai followed through with the momentum and rose the blade above his head until he began switching hand positions in a rather un-nagamaki-like fashion. With a single turn of his weapon, the hydraulics in the scabbard-hilt whirred with activity as the individual interlocking plates that made up its "hilt-wrapping" appearance re-oriented themselves, straightening itself out as it extended over two feet. The "nagamaki" thus shifted into a naginata as Tenkai brought the polearm down onto the head of the nearest beastman, splitting his skull in two.

Reversing his momentum, Tenkai wheeled the polearm around over his head once more and into another wide arc, making full use of the extended haft of his weapon to cut through even more of the beastmen. Those that came at him with polearms of their own would find their weapons beaten aside and parried before running through their throats with a well-placed thrust. Even near-miss thrusts due to the slight curve of the blade would turn into push-cuts as the monk ruptured their throats. His blows became more furious as he passed the weapon between his hands, winding around his body in spinning arcs that transitioned between thrusts and swings. At the height of his momentum, Tenkai wound up a wide horizontal swing from a spinning overhead turn, releasing a giant scything arc of displaced air pressure that decimated the ranks around him in a near 360-degree arc. Those who were not bisected by the attack were send flying back into their brethren, leaving Tenkai with a wide clearing around him.

Satisfied with the display, the monk returned the scabbard-hilt behind his back as it reverted to nagamaki-length and, finally, reattached with the hydraulic mounting at his side. He detached the Muramasa from this housing with a brief flourish and pointed it towards the ten-foot-tall monster who led this band of brutes. He knew that such a display of carnage and martial prowess would catch his attention, and Tenkai's gesture of challenge was meant to seal the deal. If all went as planned, he would be luring their leader out into single combat, where Tenkai would be at his strongest. At that point, it was all a matter of slaying the monstrous beast and destroying the shielding device, in no particular order.

 

@Fierach

@-Lilium-

@Maverick

Edited by Tenkai Matsumoto
adding in Maverick's scene

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