The Seething Spire

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PROLOGUE

Perpetual darkness lay astride the ravaged horizon like tar on a wound. Jagged precipices clawed at the rough-hewn split between earth and heaven, a ruddy violent red hue seeped into them from above, blood spilt from angry eyes of a brutal and merciless god. Hot, stifling winds coruscated across terrain marred by millennia of unnatural forces, whip-lashing the drifting debris that hung suspended in the air by invisible daemons and malign magical currents.  Plains of bone and lakes of blood populated by horrors beyond imagination decorated the surface of the planet in a parody of a once verdant and beautiful sphere. Hounds of ferocious strength ripped apart deformed human-like silhouettes amidst the dust storms whilst barb-toothed carrion birds circled menacingly in wait for the satiating ruined and bloody forms of the prey below. Mirroring this hellish scene a metallic and sharp symbol pierced the night with inner fire, fixed atop the highest point of a dark and baroque citadel.
This was the house of Khorne.

Surveying the scene from a deep-set window cut from black stone was a man, if he could be called such a thing. Grey veins with broken walls seeped yellow blood beneath his cracked skin and gill-like slits opened either side of his saw-toothed maw. Muscular tongues ran over the serrated edges of his cruel teeth, fresh cuts over scar tissue brought fourth blood that flowed back down his welcoming throat. Glazed eyes with cracked irises rolled back and forth like those of a maddened hound. Obscenely muscular arms rippled and pressed in vain against mighty obsidian armour plate. Beneath this exterior was a mind so dark and twisted that no visage could do it justice - the mind of Ja'khul, chosen of Khorne and Warlord of the feared Bezerkers of the Seething Spire. No mortal man had stood before him and lived, much less retained any semblance of sanity. Right now his thoughts lay on the destruction of an ancient foe, one that had plagued his brethren for millennia, one so elusive that short-lived mortals that had not experienced this enemy's wrath questioned their existence. It was not fear he felt, nor even a passing concern. Neither was it some form of grudging respect. There was only one emotion running through his tortured soul.

Hate.



Against the stars drifted a jewelled sceptre, a hive of magick and crystal, bone and blade, resting place of a million souls, not living, yet not truly dead. A chilling and beautiful construction spearing into cold depths, whilst orbs of white light glistened upon its jet-black surface like silver tears. The Craftworld of Y'vien, the home of the lost. Beside it's glorious form glided sailed vessels, ships of war. One of these in particular was of note, the  "Khal Harai", a Void Stalker Battleship, flagship of the Xunsunh Corsairs and captained by the infamous Eldar Pirate Prince Yurrath. Few knew of it, and those who did lamented its existence. All except one, Farseer Restayvien, who was filled with hope at the sight of it's vividly coloured sails. He stood motionless, crystalline eyes reflecting a thousand possibilities, a thousand hopes, and a thousand fears. He watched as the Khal Harai moved purposefully towards the dock, thirty or so Bonesingers ensuring its smooth connection to the outer shell of the Craftworld as marble like staircases extended gracefully towards the underside of the great warship. He could discern the shape of a single dark individual descending the stairs with eyes fixed upon the Farseer's chamber. Restayvien raised both hands in an arc above his head in a symbol of greeting.
Maybe now there was hope.
The Pirate Prince swept over the hull with unearthly grace, slender arms held at his sides, impossibly porcelain skin contrasting with ancient golden gauntlets and intensely bright green eyes hidden behind burnt orange hair. His visage matched the grandeur and status of his beloved and mighty flagship, his presence bringing the same sense of power and foreboding as it's powerful pulsar lances, his fickle judgement equalled only by the punishing forces at his disposal. His eagle eyes surveyed the scene before him; polished translucent portals gleamed from the sides of immense arcing structures, revealing the mysterious inhabitants. The proud towers of the few Aspect Shrines on Yvien stood stark and distinctive above the more delicate crystalline passages that wove the entire Craftworld's surface together. The path Yurrath now followed was a pearl coloured sliver across the Craftworld's topside, one that led from one of the docks towards a tremendous and palatial fortress towards the front of the vast wraithbone-planet, if such a point could be identified. Either side of this path stood hundreds of the renowned Black Guardians, silent and still as statues, Shuriken Catapults raised at a perfect angle towards the stars above. Yurath was acutely aware that despite receiving a greeting worthy of the most prized ally, they were there to secure his passage to the Farseer, and nowhere else. He took comfort in the fact that he could observe what no human could, the almost imperceptible tension in the armoured plates of the Guardians, of their slender fingers over their weapons, of their steely eyes tracking his every movement, his every breath. They would cut him down where he stood at a moments notice if he gave them any reason to suspect foul play. He expected no less from his hosts, for they would need such resolve if they were to survive the coming darkness.



CHAPTER ONE

It was upon the world of Jasalin that the ancient and powerful race of the Eldar wreaked their dark fury on Ja'Khul's chaos legion millennia ago. Now a twisted and bloody shadow of it's former self Jasalin was once an Imperial agri-world. Lush with vegetation and populated with over 50 million people it provided food and goods to the surrounding systems and in return was protected by their neighbours system ships and solar defences. Unknown to it's Imperial settlers it was known to the Eldar as a Maiden world of their decimated Empire. Deep beneath the surface of the planet a crystalline network lay dormant, remains of the planetary infinity circuit that once sustained the original inhabitants and their way of life. The source of power was an immensely powerful device towards the planets core that could harness the enormous thermal energy generated there. Since the great fall the device had fallen silent, no longer excited by the presence of Eldar psykers. The vast roots retreated beneath the planets crust until they were close enough to the core to be sustained by the thermal energy alone. And there they remained, the hollow tunnels left behind becoming homes for the vilest of primitive creatures, dark lairs of which the Imperial citizens told terrible tales to their children.

It came to be that the great Farseer Restayvien was visited by visions of a powerful nature,  augmented by the presence of a vast network of spirits he could not pinpoint. He felt the call of his ancestors to retake Jasalin for the Eldar. Restayvien was perplexed. It was not common for spirits of another Craftworld to communicate over vast distances. Neither was it wise to attack an Imperial world without allies close by, unless you wielded the might of Biel-Tan. To do so invites the attention of She Who Thirsts, and can spell disaster. Restayvien consulted his council, and they confirmed his suspicion. Could it be a trick of Tzeench? A sorcerer or daemon powerful enough could masquerade as a spirit to lure Yvien to it's doom. Even communicating with such a being could destroy Restayvien's mind if he were not vigilant. But still the Farseer could not shake a sense of foreboding, that if he did not act something terrible would come to pass. He resolved to attempt to contact the spirits once again.

The second contact proved eventful. Yvien's Warlocks stood guard outside the Farseer's chamber, Witchblades glinting with inner magick, the air crackled with psychic energies and an intense light shone beneath the entrance so bright that to see through it's rays would be impossible. All of a sudden a scream pierced the tense atmosphere, in an instant the Warlocks were at Restayvien's side, concern marking their faces.
"The Enemy?" questioned one of their number urgently.
"No." Restayvien shook visibly with exhaustion and adrenaline.
"Prepare our warriors, and call on our kin. We are to make for Jasalin with haste. Let us hope the Xunsunh Corsairs will aid us."
Now he understood why the forgotten spirits had risked all to contact him. Now he knew why something must be done. Chaos' machinations were too dark and incomprehensible to fathom, but Restayvien resolved that whatever they intended to do with it, he could not let the ancient device fall into their hands.

Blissfully unaware, the inhabitants of the Imperial settlement slept under a star filled sky, after another days work done and tomorrow's predictability reassuring them that all was well in the Emperor's realm.
Beneath them, a despair and hatred beyond human comprehension gripped the unliving souls inhabiting the crystalline construct. The tendrils ascended.




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