I'm planning to put together a new squad of IR (I think) with a vague Nurgle-ish tone (and maybe slightly steam-punk). As a consequence, I've decided to write a sort of disconnected background story. Here's the first installment. Hope you'll enjoy!
The voice came out of nowhere. The shadows seemed to dance and step aside when the voice parted the silence of the lower tunnels with his ancient tone. There was no affectation, no emotions, nor any other effort in producing a particular sensation in the audience. It was just a grave voice, full of an unfathomable and immeasurable power.
“Here, in the foetid sewers unravelling as putrid arteries under the vaults encrusted by centuries, in the obscure catacombs filled with the already consumed remains of the so-called heroes, here, in the decaying roots of the earth, between the foundations completely eroded by time itself on which it lays that construction that the poor humans dares to call cathedral, I dwell and govern, scheming in the darkness to bring the dismay of truth into the hearts of all the people of the whole galaxy.”
So it spoke. There was no mistaking the weight behind each word, whispered rather than barked, they brought dismay into the most inner sanctity of the squad that had descended into that forsaken maze of underground corridors. It was only the stern look on the Captain’s face that oblige the rest of the men to maintain a certain composure, even if their first thought had been to run away.
“And you, you stupid mortals, you who boast to rule the world, impotent before the corruption which advances, you of all were to come to me crawling as maggots, bowing down before me just to grasp hold of my tattered garments as pestering insects, without realizing that you’re slowly dipping your pathetic souls into eternal damnation for my final glory!”
The voice had gathered both in thickness and vitality, spitting its sentence with a vehemence that wouldn’t be associated with anything short of fanatical zeal. Compact as a sole man, the squad moved forward, illuminating another blotch of the scene as the light of the torches reached it. Upon a worm-eaten throne sat a humanoid being, dressed with a long timeworn tunic. His face was completely hidden in the shadows of the hood.
“Do you really think I wasn’t aware of your true intentions or that I wouldn’t have been able to prevent your little group to reach this destination?” he enquired in his once more calm voice.
A part of the Captain’s mind had been willing to speak, but the rest of the committee had suddenly decided to enter a pre-emptive strike and gone missing. As a result, the leader remained there, dumbstruck and hit by his own stupidity.
“Very well then… after centuries, I shall be generous for once with you that have come here, led by this pathetic individual. How he could possibly know the way is unknown to me, but he won’t tell the same story once more… You can trust me on this!” he whispered softly, before uttering the last sentence.
His head, which hadn’t moved an inch till then, moved to the left and was tilted to the side when his gaze encountered the squad’s guide. In an instant, green-purple tongues of flame erupted from within the body of the scout, who collapsed to the ground with a resounding thud.
“Don’t you think that the useless form agonizing at your feet just now, who was your guide, wouldn’t have preferred less credits but a longer life?” the question was just rhetoric, for he continued without further ado.
“In your adventure to my secret shrine, many have died and many others are prey to utter madness,“ he described as if he had been a witness to the long and perilous journey, “even though for those few pardoned by fate, I, one of the last immortals, shall grant your foolish request, before bending and subjugating you to my will.”
A controlled movement rocked the entire figure, making dust rain on the floor. “From your shaking mouths I have understood that you came to comprehend the essence of the true power, the dark blood of the earth, the divinity who became material,” he said slowing down to a halt.
“Ah, what an useless request!” the figure snapped, chuckling hysterically, “how could you possibly think that your frail intellects might only even sense the nightmare behind what I will tell you?”
There was a pause, but it wasn’t meant for the scanty group trying to cower away from the aura emanating from the being on the ancient throne.
“If this is the price of your folly, my poor friends, I won’t be the one to back down: what could be more tasteful than the opportunity to corrupt and crush the broken minds of those who ask for help?
“Here you are, then! Observe and gaze upon the ultimate beauty…”
That said, he produced something from under the robes of his vest, something so ominous that words fail to capture its essence.
“I see you are quite uncertain my daring friends… I deduce from this fact that the effects of alcohol have already gone and that fear is taking the place of boldness. Isn’t this what you came so far from you city for?”
The pause was intentional while he observed the first signs of the fits and tremors taking their toll on the wretched bodies of the humans in front of him, until they were no longer able to hold a torch.
“Do not care for the scabs that are appearing on your hands, ignore the pain… I can assure you that it’s nothing compared to the one you are going to experience later!
“Now, before the pus flood your eye sockets rendering you blind, observe with the utmost care what you see, if ‘seeing’ is the right word at all… Touch as lightly as you can the veins that pervade reality, sense and perceive the pulsing power harbouring inside them, listen to the voices of the souls that feed themselves…”
The voice was now a soft whisper, caressing the ears of the whole team, if compared to the screeching sound they were hearing in their skulls.
“It’s absolutely useless to shut your ears, since within minutes you’ll be part of them and be hearing them for the rest of eternity. Can you see the beginning and the end of it now?”
The question remained there in the air, unanswered.
“Yes, I guess you do understand now, at least judging by what remains of your cancerous faces; I see that you finally understand that the darkness that emanates from it is nothing but a pallid reflection of his true essence: it is iridescent, intrinsically protean, neither good nor evil, but his every hue is charged with so much corruption that just getting near it is enough to produce spasms and the viscera are affected in such a way that they explode,” he explained, with a grin on the unseen features of his pox-bitten face.
Then, as if listening to something that was reaching him from far away, he continued, “Its true nature? It’s loaded with so many facets, as if it was the most incredible kaleidoscope… who can assure which shape is more real?”
"To understand that, if it’s truly possible anyway, this is the price that has been determined.
“Look at yourself, bleeding and gasping on my icy-cold stone: the pain you are battling now will not abandon you even in death. So leave my sight, do roam the sewers in a cowardly attempt to meet the grim reaper. I won’t be the one to put a stop to your lousy destiny!”
Once again he moved his whole body, in order to concentrate his attention on the only opponent still alive and relatively sane in both mind and body.
“For what concern you, manling,” he said, spelling each word with unconceivable patience, as if to better savour each one of them, “you that wisely decided not to watch, for cowardice or ill-concealed wit, do get back to your masters, if you are able to do so, and tell them that the reality they are used to is nothing but a pallid illusion of the true essence of all things.
“They are not going to trust you, but does this really matter? May they keep their faith in their miserable senses: there so many the thing that happen in front of their eyes of which they have no clue… “