The Crimson Shroud

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Yriel of Iyanden

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I brushed my hand across the back of my sweaty neck, which had become greasy and sensitive in the warm sun. Sitting alone in the field, surrounded by the corpses of my cult-brethren, the pain in my left arm recalled to me from underneath a crimson blood-stained bandage.
I couldn't even recall how many days I had been fighting out here. I can barely recount how I got into this situation in the first place. Only 4 years ago I was a respected deputy-cardinal for a church called Our Emperor's Divine Hope when brother Leren and I encountered Lord Kalibos. Over the course of 4 years this man and his Alpha Legion would show us the true light of the Emperor, a living, breathing deity that scoffs in the presence of the stasis-mummy, a glorified idol through which the Imperium breeds and perpetuates its lies. 4 Years we spent re-educating our brothers, working in secrecy for the day we could strike down the Chamberlain and his hypocrite Mentors.
And yet we were thwarted. Not by the False Emperor, not by the Mentor Legion, not even by the Feral Orks that continue to plague this world. We were intercepted by the scum Eldar of that Ghost-craft they call, Iyanden.
Even as the name drifts in my thoughts, the searing slab of flesh that was my arm screams down my spine.
I could have sat there and died. I could have choked on my own bloody vomit, which was wet and dry in different places across my chest, or I could have called out to let one of those dead alien scum tear me limb from limb, but instead I sat still, letting the pain of my arm and my hatred for all echo back and forth in my mind until my madness consumed me whole and I was swallowed up by Warp Space itself.
It would have went that way, had I not grown thirsty.
I hoisted myself up using my good arm, and limped off through the hot field. I can't recall how long I walked. I began to hallucinate, visions of my Lord Kalibos as that insect-looking Eldar impaled him through its claw, watching Brother Leren strangled and beheaded by the hawk-Eldar, all the while dreaming visions of deep cool water, and the stillness and darkness of the open sea.
There were creatures in that sea. Morey eels with several heads jutting out from the rock and coral, with that ghoul-like stare. Sea serpents, dragons, crested marine iguanas and fanged Icthyios, striking from several directions at once, and tearing me limb from limb. And the Sirens- those lovely, demonic women, more beautiful and alluring than my mind can physically tolerate. I stumbled around in a daze that seemed to last for years, until finally I feel forward trying to reach for and strangle my own reflection.
And when I hit the ground, it parted to meet me. My reflection wiggled and scattered, and my face felt both the cool refreshment and sharp sting of hitting water at full speed. Longing for death, I drank the water through my mouth and inhaled it through my nose. I would fill my lungs with water, and embrace my doom.
This is how my life should have ended. But instead, this is how it began. My lungs filled with water, causing my chest to convulse as it struggled to breathe. I choked and coughed up partially dried blood and mucous, I could hear the very ocean pouring into my ear canals, the rushing, uncontrollable, violent sea, and the pressure of water swelled my neck as my esophagus and nasal passages were at once filled with the cool, salty water.
And then, calm. Something had burst in my neck. I was breathing, but I wasn't sure how.
I rose from the water, discovering that I had fallen into a calm tidepool beside a larger beach. I felt an itching on my neck and touched it- my skin had grown scaly and flapped at the neck, and now the bare sun on my face felt like the same hot plasma that seared all the flesh off my arm. Something was happening to me. The flesh of my face screamed pain more loudly than my seared arm, and when I lifted my hand to touch it, it bled and shriveled like a re-opened sore.
Just then, I heard a voice behind me call my name.
"Brother Scryus, is that you? Brother Scryus are you hurt? It's me- Brother Erken of 5th platoon. We were nearly wiped out by those... .sir??"
I turned to meet him, and he made an expression as if sheer terror wiped his mind clean. He just stood there, with several of the men from that platoon, all worn and weary from battle, yet despite the horror of my face I could smell the very anger in their hearts.
"Sss..ssir... you should be... ddead... " one of them said. The man vext to him vomited in his good hand.
I turned around again, and looked at my reflection in the water. I don't remember what I saw- in fact I believe my mind has since abandoned all memory of my old and "new" appearance.
Instead, I took the crimson bandage from my arm, and wrapped it around my face, leaving only my eyes visible. My damaged arm had changed in the water as well, becoming some sort of a hooked, green tentacle with several ends, covered in scales and spines.
The bandage was too large for my head, so I tore a large piece off, and held it in my human hand. The men looked at me in amazement. As horrified as they were of my appearance, they were somehow mesmerized for seeing it.
"Brother Scyrus... you have been gifted as Lord Kaibos predicted! You have been gifted as he has!" The men kneeled before me. "Please, Master Scryus, what are we to do now? Lord Kalibos is dead."
I replied, "Lord Kalibos is not dead. Do not think that a true servant of the Emperor such as Lord Kalibos would ever be killed by an insect of an Eldar. He will return. But until he returns, I am the voice of Lord Kalibos." I tore a piece of my crimson bandage and wrapped it as an armband around Brother Erken's left arm. "Join me, in the Army of the Crimson Shroud. We have much work to do."
 




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