Know Your Enemy
The Fucking Word Bearers, ladies and gentlemen.
Alpha Legion. Post fall to Chaos.
Malal, also now called Malice, is a renegade Chaos God and the Hierarch of Anarchy and Terror who appeared in early editions of the fictional universes of Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000. Also known as “The Outcast God”, “The Lost God” and “The Renegade God”, Malal was the embodiment of Chaos’ indiscriminate and anarchic tendency toward destruction, even of itself and its own agents. The nature of Malal’s/Malice’s powers is parasitic, as the Renegade God grows in power only when the other Ruinous Powers do. Malal’s sacred number is 11 and his sacred colours are black and white.
Champions of Tzeentch by majesticchicken
Khorne by http://nooblar.deviantart.com/
You had killed them.
The details were vague, foggy, as you knelt in the blood of friend and foe alike, limbs too heavy to move, head to heavy to lift. Your weapon lay spent on the ground at your side, and all around you were empty bolt-casings, a testament to your hard-fought battle for survival. But you’d done it.
You’d won. So why did it feel like you’d lost?
Around you were your Sisters, their broken, mangled bodies laying still, elegant armor rent and ripped by the adamantium teeth of the Enemy’s weapons. But they did not die alone, for amongst their number were the superhuman forms of Astartes, in armor of red and gold, covered in skulls. Traitor Legionnaires, serving their Dark God of blood and slaughter.
Around you there were three. One of them, you thought hazily, must have been a leader, with his skull-faced, fanged helm and axe as dark as obsidian. He had waited, watching the battle from a distant hill. You didn’t know why. It wasn’t until you’d killed two of his number personally - one with your boltgun, the other with the first’s roaring chain axe - that he committed himself to battle.
The battle was…you remembered little. He strode forward like a living god, the symbol of an eaten world emblazoned on his baroque chestpiece of beaten brass and crimson ceramite, and raised his axe in towards you in salute, the otherworldly material of the weapon seeming to eat all light that fell on it, shrouding much of it in a noisome, distorted haze.
You barely had the time, after that salute, to ready your own pilfered weapon. The battle was joined.
In some far-back recess of your mind, you wondered how you’d survived, much less even won. You were a Sister of the Line. Your boltgun was your weapon - melee combat had never been your forte. But the moment that axe was in your hand, you felt a thrum of energy shoot up your arm and into your heart. It felt…right. The teeth roared to life, giving voice to your disgust for the Traitors around you.
But this enemy, their champion, their leader…he was fast. Faster than even the inhuman Astartes normally were. He swung and parried and ducked and dodged, and his axe was not his only weapon. His entire body was a weapon, as he swung fist and and shoved with shoulder, kicking out with knees and feet, in a whirlwind of metal the color of blood that stood half again as tall as you.
But somehow, you were faster. You held the massive chainaxe in a two-handed grip, and you swung it in wide arcs of gnashing teeth that always met his blows just before landing, and then his axe was flying through the air, and then you screamed, a visceral scream of victory and carnal joy, and then he was down, the arm that had held his axe missing from the elbow, and he was on his knees, and you had raised your axe, and he looked at you through shattered lenses, and you knew, and he knew, and then you screamed again as your axe ripped through his neck, and you screamed again and you swung again, and again, and again, and again…
And then you stopped, your weapon dropping from unfeeling fingers. You quickly followed, dropping to a kneel as you looked around and realized that…it was over. The battle was gone, had left you behind. All around you were the broken corpses of the dead, and you alone survived.
You looked down to the axe that you had used to slay their leader, covered as it was in the blood and gore and bits of bone. It was a brutal weapon, covered in stylized skulls. Covered in the viscera of your enemies. You had earned this weapon with your first kill, and justified its possession with your next two victories.
And you felt nothing. After the buzzing joy of combat, you were…empty. Numb. Your armor was cracked in a dozen places, your flesh bruised and bloodied beneath it, and your helmet lay forgotten by your first kill. But you felt nothing. Saw nothing, heard nothing. Even the rust-smell of blood went unnoticed.
Slowly, wearily, your hand reached down to touch the haft of your hard-won weapon. And you felt it, even if it was only an echo. That rush of joy, that wide-eyed energy that had possessed you, lent you strength and speed beyond your own.
You knew you’d never be the same. And as you slowly lifted your gaze to bruised yellow sky above you, the clouds thick, broiling, the color of dead flesh, you felt something else, some thing, some presence pressing in on you from all sides. Prayers of protection went unspoken, and within you, a scream began to bubble to the surface, a scream of recognition, of admission. Of hate and rage, of survival and of surrender.
The scream of a warrior. Of a berserker.
Finally, the scream broke past your lips, the force of it tearing at your throat, and your eyes went wide. You screamed, and screamed, and screamed. Blood from burst capillaries flowed from the corners of your eyes like twin crimson streams, the rivulets flowing down your cheeks and neck, and you began to tear at your armor like a woman possessed, and finally, you were bare before this THING that you felt, the pressure almost too great to take, and you took your axe, and you raised it to the sky, and you were still screaming…
And the presence receded, but did not vanish. And as the scream slowly died on your cracked lips, you felt renewed, whole.
But above all else, you felt the approval of that magnificent, monumental presence you had just given yourself, body and mind and soul, to, and its laughter, like the sound of a world cracking apart, echoed in the back of your mind.
That echo would never leave you. Not until the day you died.
(( Inspired by a conversation in Skypehammer. Plus, I’ve always wanted to write a story for this picture. Anyone know the source for it? I’d live to give credit to the wonderful artist! Sorry for any mistakes or errors, this was rather rushed. ))
Another Skull For the Throne by Diego Gisbert Llorens
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