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The city’s night song was a seductive symphony of vice and violence. Men challenged each other for honor or greed, coin exchanged for thrill and drink, women to entice or be taken. It was the courtesan’s favorite time of day, as the sun finally dipped below the horizon and her day could truly begin. Her miscreants sought her out, a few words exchanged before slipping back into the shadows. She did not fear the night or those who claimed it as their own.

She was expected elsewhere, but there was one small task requiring her attention first. She turned down a small alley and ducked in through a rotting wooden door to a room that reeked of spoil. The woman barely noticed it, her eyes immediately moving to the form in a dimly lit corner. A man, slumped over, his breaths came in rasping wheezes. A dagger’s hilt was visible, the blade plunged between his ribs. He was in pain, panicked, but the poison she had dosed him with kept him immobilized. She had been curious if he would drown in his own blood or if terror would render him dead first. It seemed to be the former.

“You are an interesting man.” She paused as if to give him time to respond. Her voice was deep, but coldly smooth. “More resilient than I had estimated. Impressive, truly.” She smiled though the man would not see it, nor would it provide comfort if he could. “But I have no need for you anymore. Your house has fallen, extinguished. And your collection, well, I will safeguard it, do not fret.” The courtesan took careful steps forward, ensuring nothing touched the trail of blood leaking from her victim. She bent, breathed in deeply at the foul smell of fear and sweat and impending death. Her face nearly brushed against him. “Night will fall for all, for now it claims just you.” Long fingers wrapped around the hilt. In a smooth movement she twisted the blade and withdrew it from between his ribs. Blood spilled out and the man’s wheezes turned to gurgles.

Blood had splattered against her, with annoyance she checked if it had stained her clothing. She’d hate to miss her appointment, and was satisfied to find only a few drops on her wrist. She held her arm up in the dim light, admired the deepness to it, the way it seemed to drink the light. She pressed her tongue against her skin, lingered where the man’s life had stained her. She was cleansed, the dagger dripped next to her, small thuds as the thick liquid dripped to the stone floor. For a moment, Tyanna of Pentos thought to keep the blade, but it was far better to remove it from use by anyone else. She wiped it clean with the man’s fine silk tunic. When her evening was finished, she would dispose of it in the bay, a watery grave for she had yet to find a way to destroy Valyrian steel.

An hour later as the city truly came to life, she was given entry to the exiled Targaryen’s manse. She was known, now, to the servants, though they cared little for her presence. Prince Maegor had yet to return, but that suited Tyanna. Men were simple things and posed no challenge to her designs. Women, though, required a different approach, and she needed his lovely, besotted wife.

“Lady Alys, I’m so sorry for the late hour.” Her head tilted in greeting, long raven locks twisted with white lace and black pearls hung freely around her bare shoulders. She was a stark figure even in the warm light. The courtesan bordered on being pallid, only exaggerated by her preference for dressing in cold, inky, indigo.

Lady Alys, the wife of Prince Maegor, the whore of Harroway. Her dress was light silk that wrapped about her curvaceous form. Her hair styled in the tumble of curls found in Essos was being brushed by a maid as the Pentoshi woman entered, and Alys raised a hand. Sending the servant off. They had learned to obey well and not risk their mistress’s sharp tongue. “Not at all, Lady Tyanna.” She doubted the woman was a lady at all, but she had few friends in the city and longed for Westeros, even if her own would mock her for marrying a man with one wife already. So what if he did? His father had taken two wives, and she was not sister to Maegor.

“Bring a goblet for her and vittles.” She directed with a curt snap of her fingers. Imperious as any Princess, which was her right. The maid scurried off to do so, while two others remained in the room, tucked out of sigh and ready to answer her call. It was just as she would have it. Everyone in their place.

Except her husband. Maegor, Prince Maegor, should have been home with her and working on an heir and spare, and home would be across the sea in Dragonstone. His rightful seat as the Lord of Dragonstone. Let King Aenys and his children control the realm, had her husband the mind they could have controlled the dragons. Instead, her Prince was off burning off some barbarian horses for Balerion’s supper. Not a unwarranted thing perhaps and it could gain him good will. Gods knew it was better to have a man let his temper wear off in battle than bring it his home, but still Alys would not lie to herself. She wanted children, she wanted Westeros and by all the Gods she wanted to strangle the next person who called her the ‘whore of Harroway’. “I trust the city fares well? With all it’s ruffians and glamorous sights?” She reclined in her seat, a small basket next to her with fine embroidery. It really was nothing but something to pass the time. A musician played behind a screen a soft song that she had halted not too long ago. Perhaps she ought to have him begin again?

“One of these nights, I will convince you to join me for my journey through Pentos and allow me to show you all that she has on offer.” Tyanna gracefully lowered herself to a cushioned seat near the prince’s whore. Or so she had been called, it was at least alliterative. Her gown shifted with the movement, pooling in soft ripples around her legs, the neckline plunged deeply down her chest and cinched round her waist with white gold and silver chains. She was warmer to her companion, but just barely.

Food and drink was delivered and the courtesan enjoyed a long drink of the heady red. At least the Westerosi could identify a good vintage from time to time. “I have heard rumors of your husband’s exploits against the savage horse-lords. This is good for him, and for you. A battle won will increase his virility.” Her hand reached into folds of inky fabric near her waist. A hidden pocket, her fingers found the small vial she had prepared for Alys. Tyanna held it out in the palm of her hand, the liquid was an unsettling green color. “Drink it when he returns, but you must be sure that he beds you that night.” She spoke of fucking in a way that the prudish Westerosi seemed to prefer, euphemism and poetry. Tyanna had been introduced to Alys as courtesan yes, but also as a woman who helped women. She knew how to make women fertile, and how to end a life before it could begin. Or so some said.

Gray-green eyes, devoid of emotion, glinted as she watched Alys. “A child, an heir, what every rightful king needs - no?” For a price, always for a price and who would not pay for it if it meant a crown?

Alys was hesitant as she took the liquid, she had been married to Maegor so briefly, yet if she could quickly get with child? All the better, and better to insure it was a son. There was a flash of greed at the thought that Maegor could be king, she could be Queen and his marriage to his first wife could be put aside by his decree then. She would no longer be considered by the Faith to be a whore. “I shall remember and keep your words close.” Alys mused, her fingers holding up the strange liquid as she watched it before setting it into the small basket of her work. “But what could I offer for repayment? If it does work so well?”

“You are wise, princess.” Tyanna chose her words carefully, enunciating each syllable of the title. “I will not obscure that I seek something in return. But it is an easy cost, I only desire your continued friendship and passage with you to Westeros when you return.” The courtesan picked up her goblet, slowly tipping the glass before taking another sip. “You..intrigue me. You and your husband. You are destined for greatness, I know it.” She leaned forward, her arms crossed, the goblet held delicately to the side. “The Doom did many things, it weakened and sundered magic, is that not what your maesters teach? But I tell you, it is not gone, just hidden to most. Not hidden to your husband who can tame dragons.”

The private conversation between the two women was momentarily shattered by a crescendo of noise. The screeching roar of a dragon burst the air from on high, shaking through the manse. The staff, as used as they could be to such things from the previous presence of the Prince and Balerion, still recoiled in place from the surge of noise, as cries of alarm arose unbidden from the wider city. While Maegor had been in residence for some time, the common people were still not entirely used to the sporadic presence of a dragon in their midst.

The assumption among many, of course, would be that the Prince had returned to Pentos, back from his adventures to the South East of the continent among the haughty people of Volantis, but this was not the case. With a heavy tread that shuddered through the manse as much as the roar before, the large, but ultimately smaller than Balerion, form of Vhaegar landed in the great expanse of the courtyard, the dragon emitting another roar of challenge into the air, before lowering to allow her rider to descend. It was not the first time that Visenya Targaryen had visited her son in the East, and both the city and the staff knew to allow her entry, but that still did not prevent their pause at the arrival of the Dowager Queen of a continent.

It had been some years since Visenya had fully embraced the raiment she was most famous for. The dark plate armour and red flowing cloth of both tabard and cloak flowing in the air as she pulled herself free of her mount’s saddle. As if it were the day she and her siblings had landed upon the shores of Westeros, the silver-gold of her hair, still free of true-white despite her many years, was drawn into a tight but long braid, reaching far down the expanse of her back.

With force the armoured woman swept into the chamber, the cold intensity of her eyes falling on the pair of women, regarding Tyranna for but a moment, before refocusing on Alys.

“Where is Maegor? The matter is urgent.” Her tone was not entirely dismissive for the woman who her son had gone into exile over, who’s ceremony she had overseen, but it was direct. Time, of course, was of the essence.

The arrival of the dragon had brought Alys to sit upright, no longer lounging at her pleasure in the open room. It was a large enough roar to be Balerion, yet her heart stuttered as she felt a pang for who it was. “My husband is in the east culling the Horse Lords.” Her curtsy was deep as she sank back into her seat. “Along with the Dragonlord of Volantis. What is so urgent to call him back?” She gestured and a servant bowed, offering Visenya a goblet of wine. There were many who disdained Visenya, but Alys was not one of them. She was rather impressed by the woman. Having been through so much and still strong. She could understand the wear of time. “My Lady Dowager Queen Visenya Targaryen may I introduced Tyanna of Pentos.” She did not design to off the woman the title of Lady before Visenya. It was not so much a slight but a fact that she knew her mother by marriage would see Tyanna for what she was.

“A woman of skill and interesting conversation.” She smiled gently and cocked her head. “Yet, I must ask again. My Lady, what has brought you so swiftly? Are we called to return to King Aenys?” There was scorn in her eyes as she sneered the name, unable to completely hide her dislike. It was not as if Aegon had not taken two wives and yet Aenys had called out his brother for the same thing his father had done! Then went and married his son to his daughter! Hypocrite!

Tyanna’s eyes narrowed, if only for a moment. This was an unexpected visit, and for her, an undesirable interruption to her plans. She was not so quick to rise and bend herself before the woman. She may have been a queen in Westeros but in Pentos she was just a dragonrider. It left a bad taste in the courtesan’s mouth, like a swallow of wine that had been left to turn to vinegar. Still, she was a resourceful woman and it was not the first time carefully laid plans had needed adjusting. “Queen Dowager Visenya, what a fine pleasure to meet such an illustrious woman.” Her head bowed with respect, her face kept stoically blank even as she tried to put together the pieces of the impromptu visit, the urgency behind it.

“The matter is not for the ears of others.” Visenya’s tone was stern as she regarded the Pentoshi woman once more, but as previously, her focus did not linger, settling instead on Alys, a few of the hardest edges of her features disappearing as she did so. “I will call for Maegor’s return, until he does, none may leave.” She turned to leave, to be about the business of calling her blood to her, before she paused, willing to offer the Westerosi woman at least some measure of catharsis. “His destiny is upon him, and his chosen wife shall be at his side.” Without so much more as a brief nod, she swept from the room in full, the doors opening before her as she moved, without a hint of delay to her stride.

So the matter would have to be discussed later. Alys sighed and inclined her head. “As you wish it.” For it could be no other way. If Maegor’s destiny was upon him… Had something happened to Aenys and his children? A small seed of greed in Alys snarled in glee at that thought. “I shall be delighted to see Maegor’s return. He has been gone far too long.”

It seemed she was trapped tonight, how inopportune. Tyanna leaned back again, effortlessly letting her body sink into the chaise. Better to not let Alys see her annoyance. The woman was clearly on good terms with her mother by law. Visenya was much as she had heard but seeing the woman in person certainly put things in perspective. She twirled the goblet of wine, thinking quickly. “Lady Alys, it seems I must impose on your generosity for longer than expected.” Destiny. The word played over in her head. Destiny, for Maegor and Alys, destiny that called to Tyanna. Destiny, if only the queen knew of what she spoke.

“I am not often left alone for an evening.” A glint entered her dark eyes, a softer look than her clients received. “Whatever shall we do to keep ourselves entertained?’

“Denying the Dowager Queen is rarely something I saw attempted or wise. The woman is iron.” Alys commented with a dry tone, so like her nephew Elmo’s. “My apologies for this imposition. I shall see you compensated for it.” After all, it was reasonable to do. Tyanna had her own business to be about and Alys, thought a noblewoman, could understand that. “If you wish, I can have musicians, entertainment and other such amusemsent summoned.” She shrugged in a nonchalant way that made her voluptuous chest move. The weeks spent in exile with little to do aside from being entertained had left the ‘Whore of Harroway’ with a bit extra about her curves. “I have the benefit of being able to summon what I desire, without having to leave.”
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The Dothraki had struck in the early afternoon, once the city had failed to capitulate.

The battle had lasted but a few hours, if you could even call it such, but for miles around, the lands outside the city of Volantis had been plunged into a darkness as thorough as the depths of night.

The acrid tang in the air spoke of its cause, the choking swirling patterns in the great deep clouds of onyx flared and spun in a way that could have no celestial origin.

The ground crunched beneath the heavy tread of Maegor’s armoured form. Already ash had settled over the destruction, the earliest to be inflamed falling down to cover the more recently deceased.

There would be little loot for the Free City, little that could be reclaimed from the Dothraki's vast train of plunder, no doubt bound for their sacred tent city, had the last city on their journey of plunder not been Volantis. The city had been weak ever since the Century of Blood, since his father had sided with Pentos against their expansion. Maegor considered that to have been the stronger action at the time, but now the Three Daughters were growing strong at the expense of Volantis, it did well to even the scales.

In all honestly, he had simply been bored.

He came to halt as a distressed animal moan rose from the ground, a few meters from his feet. It would have been a whiney of pain, no doubt, had the damage not been too great. He paced forwards through the ash, coming to halt behind the stricken form of one of the Dothraki's fabled horses. The dragon fire had claimed its hind quarters and much of its flank, but it clung to life, no longer strong enough to even thrash. Maegor regarded it for some time. A waste of a fine breed.

He did not delay in his granting of mercy, but he provided it none the less. Placing one boot down on the beast's head, his tread barely registered the end of its life as he proceeded through the burning maelstrom that had once been the Khalassar. There was no real reason to have landed, it was not his task to scout the land and ensure the Dothraki had been driven off, but one never knew what you might find beneath the forge of battle.

Their warcries broke out of the ash the moment he had cleared the remains of the steed. The warbling screams of Dothraki as they burst from the ash cloud. Three of them, barely more than youths, for the greatest of their warriors had all died in Balerion's first descent. They rode no steeds, no doubt having to abandon them in the process of survival. Here, perhaps, was a chance for them to redeem such cowardice by their peoples' merit.

Beneath his helm, Maegor's hard features split into a momentary grin.

"Come and take it." He snarled in their own tongue. Those who knew him passingly might mistake Maegor for a simple brute, he had always preferred martial and physical pursuits. In reality, he was singular. He could learn and focus on anything that brought him closer to his ambitions and that which he excelled. He felt it only fitting the enemy might understand him when he claimed their lives.

The first, and youngest, fell swiftly. He barreled towards with Prince with all the hot headed energy of youth, arakh posted to strike at the Valyrian. As was so common of the Dothraki, they underestimated the flexibility that plate of Westeros design allowed. Maegor ducked low under the blow, Blackfyre held even lower and pointed up in a thrusting motion, he took the young man in the gut, before rising with his own natural motion, splitting him in two from waist to temple. The resistance offered by the ending of this life slowed him no more than the death of the steed prior, literally stepping through the still disintegrating remains of the first man to get at the others.

While still young, they were no doubt more experienced than the first, and were moving forwards together. They must have seen at least one battle prior, even if it was simply a sack of a village, for they did not start at the sight of the foe appearing to simply burst through their prior comrade.

Usually, Maegor would fight such battles with a shield in hand, but he had left the protective implement upon his saddle. Against two opponents he would then have to rely on speed, force and the superiority of his weapon. Their first strikes met Blackfyre only a moment apart, the valyrian steel rebound on one arakh to throw back into the other. Their swords were back up too fast for Maegor to push hard on either. They were not fools, after the failure of their first strike they backed away, creating greater distance between themselves so that another combined parry wouldn't be possible from a second attempt.

Their first mistake, however, was to hesitate. Maegor's ability to fend off both blows put unnecessary caution in them. In their place, he would have pushed immediately. The pause could only benefit the outnumbered party.

"When you ran, was it your horses' or your mothers' screams that shamed you?" Maegor spoke again, perhaps the limits of complexity he had in Dothraki, but it was a phrase he'd learned deliberately for such a moment. It worked as intended, baiting one of them a moment before the other prepared to strike.

He entirely ignored the one slower to act, switching Blackfyre to his left hand, he took the arakh's furious blows on the weapon and gave them back in turn. The arakh was a weapon of great design for downward strikes from horseback, but it had a singular weakness in extended combat on foot. Turning the blade of his weapon, Maegor looped the bind of their blows through the curved hook of the weapon. Before the Dothraki could even realise what had occurred, Blackfyre had ruptured through his right eye.

The other man was not slow, and struck for Maegor. Even with the cutting edge of Valyrian steel, he would not be able to pull the blade free quite in time. With a desperate lunge, Maegor's right gauntlet caught the blade in motion.

The Prince emitted a howl of battle rage and pain as the force shuddered through his palm, but this gauntlet was that which held the reigns of Balerion, it had been reinforced against the pulling might of the world's greatest dragon, and one swipe of the blade would not cut through. Caught by surprise, the last Dothraki stumbled backwards as Maegor advanced towards him, driving him away and downwards, even as the motion pulled Blackfyre free from its previous kill.

As the final youth staggered and fell to his knee, still attempting to drive back against the force Maegor was applying, the pommel of Blackfyre came down atop his head. While the other two deaths had been clean, this was a brutal affair. Enough of whatever resided within the Dothraki's shattered skull clung on to life to still wrestle with the Prince, and so he hammered again…and again…and again. Only on the fourth strike with the blunt end of the weapon did he finally slump free.

Prince Maegor let out a satisfied grunt of victory at last, pausing only to wipe both ends of the ancient weapon upon the scorched rags of the final kill's clothing, before kicking him aside.

A moment later, and one of the vast clouds of smoke billowing around him seemed to rise. Balerion himself lingered close to the Prince, resting in the burning embrace of the carnage he had sown. The great beast stirred only to emit a roar, his vast head turned upwards towards the sky. For all the bone chilling horror such a roar could provide, it was not a roar of challenge, but of greeting, followed only shortly by the heavy beat of wings.

Vhandyr Balaerys watched in silence as the western prince let out his frustrations on the youth of the horse lords. Misguided and foolishly prideful, he thought, regarding the Dothraki youth…though he supposed there were moments the quick of such a thought could have pressed in either direction of the melee.

The towering, stoic, Valyrian dragonrider was now mounted, having shifted from Terrax shortly after Maegor had. Terrax busied himself behind Vhandyr and his warhorse, landing near the giant black dragon and giving a roar that was more playful than it was terrifying. Vhandyr understood it on a level deeper than his own bones.

Fly. Fly. Fly!

Terrax wanted flight more than he wanted meat or war. For the first time since the Doom, the dragon felt he had a partner in flight. Vhandyr felt only bittersweet joy for the two beasts, certain of the parting of the two, knowing how much of Maegor still stayed focused on the slights and shortcomings in Westeros. Perhaps he would take the Prince up on his offer and tour the Westeros continent. His sister had already been dispatched, as wayward a traveler as their ancestors had always been.
Wisdom was to wait for Vaera’s dispatches before he decided, however.

“Shall we retire to Casmus Valelyx, Prince?”

Blackfyre was returned to his swordbelt before Maegor turned to regard the other Valyrian. For all their visual similarities the pair had more differences, but in many ways that is what allowed the bond of their friendship to function. Much akin to Balerion and Terrax, the differences turned what would be the competition of rivals into the bond of companions.

"Little and less still to do here. If the fire was less consuming, I imagine we'd have cut more victory braids here than any since the Doom." As Maegor spoke and approached Vhandyr, a whiney of distress roused the nearby dragons, snorts of curiosity more than hunger, as a single rider approached. It was an impressive feat of both husbandry and handling that allowed the rider to bring his steed so close to the Dragons.

"Hail my lords," The rider sweapt down from the saddle, his accent and bearing marking him as one of the few that lived within the city that hailed from Westeros, or at least seemed so. In Maegor's sparring visits to Volantis during his exile he had moved a small portion of his household to Volantis, such that he was not entirely reliant on the whims of Vhandyr's people to remain informed and housed. The rider, clad in the red and black of the Targaryen household, waisted little time in approaching Maegor, handing over a bound scroll, set with a seal in the shape of the Citadel. There were few among their order that regarded Maegor with anything but scorn, but those few he had cultivated well. With a swift motion, Maegor broke the seal, before his eyes fell to read the letter. After but another few seconds, he cast the letter away and into one of the sputtering fires that had once been a Dothraki steed.

"I will return to Pentos, the Blood of the Dragon has need of their exiled son."

Unease filled the air of the command post at the western edge of the Rub Al’Khali. The Sigilites had been ever busy as the fortunes of war shifted among the siege lines. Reinforcements here, supplies there, a fresh unit rotated out, the most maddened Thunder Warriors brought in. Victory in war was in many ways the tallying of death and despair, a balance of sorrows where the triumphant was simply the least overwhelmed. Some of the keenest individuals in the galaxy were pouring over those measures, and they all realized the same thing.

Memphos was about to fall.

The nature of the Dynast Cities ensured that this would be the most brutal phase of the fighting, and only skill at arms and strength of will would determine if it was the swiftest conquest or the most sluggish siege. The Emperor’s forces had seen the first layer of defenses scattered like chaff before the wind, and now it was time for those seeking refuge in their fortresses to be terrified by his storm. But only a fool would think they would go gently. The wealth of the Dynast-Kings including a great panoply, mighty arms and stout armor, forbidden relics of a bygone age, charges of the Sigilites that they had failed to safeguard.

Each and every scribe knew of the horrors that could be unleashed, none more so than the head of their order. Malcador stared intently at a hololithic tank, an artifact from the era of his birth now worth a king’s ransom many times over, the flickering runes updated by a haphazard combination of IFF feeds and couriers relaying positional updates. A great front at the Northern Bulwark was a snarl of such icons, a contingent of Thunder Warriors pressing forward under the banner of a lone Custodian.

And then suddenly a rune flickered upon the other side of the great defensive line.

Champions of the Emperor were due rewards, and despite the intensity of the moment there would be no shirking their due. “Aristagorous shall henceforth be granted the glory of being known as Borethensipulas,” Malcador said softly, a dozen scribes recording the earning of a name. An ancient hand remained gripped tight about his staff even as he spoke, the man’s thoughts consumed by the question of what the Dynast-Kings would do next.

He had need not wait long for the answer.

A bolt of baleful flame sprang to life in the west, its fury demanding that even the distant scribes bear witness. For but a moment all pens and cogitators were put down, the Order giving the witchfire its measure of due respect. But only for a moment. With a glance from Malcador, they at once returned to their work, a lone robed figure sprinting away after meeting eyes with the Master and sharing a single, knowing glance.

Moments later and the Sigilite was racing beyond the field tent, seated within an ancient hovercraft that bore him effortlessly above the shifting sands. His personal guard lounged alongside him, veterans of the subjugation of the Himalayzans equipped with the most exotic and destructive of weapons. They passed the border into Gyptus proper like the wind itself, marching columns of Imperial soldiers with camels and mules catching only a glance of the twin banners of the lightning bolt and sigil that marked his personage.

Picking up a baroque device with a strange grill upon its face, Malcador began to speak. At once, a voice was heard upon the lines of the advancing Imperial forces, ancient and distorted, but carrying true nonetheless.

“To all those who fight beneath the banner of the Master of Mankind, know this. Your Emperor has sought to overthrow the reigns of butchers and the tyranny of witches. Your foes fight to defend the former, and they have now sought the might of the latter. I shall not lie to you, my conquerors, you shall be tested in this battle. What terrors they have unleashed, I cannot yet say, but know this. I am coming, and I bear with me the full might of your lord’s will. Humanity shall and must topple the spires of craven sorcerers, and the wrath of the Sigilite is with you.”

The words of the Sigilite were almost lost by the surge of chatter cascading over the vox as Aristagorous moved. While he was clad in plate that would swallow a lesser man, he was but a blur to mortal senses. As easily as he crossed ground, he slew. Living and breathing foes of the Emperor, or the twisted abominations that now arose alongside them, it did not matter to him. The precise killing strike required to keep such a foe down no additional challenge to his superhuman nature. Other servants of the Emperor were not so fortunate, and it was for their benefit he now pushed for decisive action.

“My lord, this is — we’re under h —- unceasing foe —- won’t stay d — permission to fall back —“

Whatever foul sorcery the enemy had wreathed was playing havoc with communications as much as it was the city, but even still, the motivation was clear. It was given with the clipped professionalism of the more disciplined soldiers beneath the Emperor’s authority, but still, the hint of dread lingered in the words.

“Denied, fight on, the line is drawn, the enemy is desperate, we push on. We ride to you, fight on.” He had no confirmation in return that his order was even received, but still he pounded the stone of the roadway to dust beneath the speed of his tread. Should the mortals fight on, he was determined they would not fall without sight of the Emperor’s wrath in their name. Should they falter, he would be there to deliver it in turn.

The powerfield surrounding his blade spat ionised flesh into the air as it rent through another foe. One of countless that had already fallen, made only of note to the giant who wielded it by the crackle of dimming power as the blade shorted out, overused and with no rest between blows, its power cells had finally given up on him. No matter, it was still a blade.

The Custodian felt the hand of another at play in this matter, the wretched plot of the enemy was sure to bring a heavy toll on the forces of the Emperor, pushing them to take the city faster and more costly than they would have wished, but could it hope to truly rebuff them? Unlikely. This was the masterstroke of someone wishing to sell Memphos dearly, which its Dynasts kings, self serving as they were, would not have orchestrated.

“Honoured Sigilite, I am approaching the Square of Kempfar, join me, and we shall push upon the Citadel.” The priority line to the Emperor’s closest adviser was more secure from the ravages of the warp craft, but not entirely so, a distressing observation. One that was put aside for the moment as Aristagorous finally reached the square, encountering only the burned out ruins of the Imperium’s forces and their hastily erected defences, now swarming with the risen dead. They had fought to a man, and he had failed them.

As the surge of dead things pressed towards the Custodian, he exhaled steadily, feeling the righteous anger suffuse his genecrafted being, before his blade was raised.

“Come then, hellspawn, become the first to earn the honour of being slain twice by Aristagorous.”

Malcador cursed as the Custodian spoke to him, not of anger at the message but at the foul corruption despoiling the aetherics. His chosen companions went about their business with the grim disregard that they did most everything, performing final checks upon their arcane armories. The champions of the Sigilite were equipped with the rarest and most horrific weapons ever crafted by human hands, for rarely did he feel the need to march to war himself. Disintegration guns, stasis grenades, graviton pistols, Kjaroskuro weapons, Quill blasters, a motley array of power and monomolecular weaponry, and sundry more were held ready by the men and women who had followed him this far.

“The Square of Kempfar,” Malcador ordered, after a slight delay as he let sentimentality take control of him for a cursed moment. He had opened his vaults for them, and they had volunteered to do their duty. It would not do to spoil their devotion to this cause with undue emotion. “Make haste, our foe grows in strength, and this is a ritual we can ill afford to let finish.”

The dead rose across the ancient sands, and the Sigilite followed. Onwards they pressed, towards fire and war, shadow and death. The cracked outer defenses of the once grand city flew underneath them, the haggard soldiers of the nascent Imperial Army cheering their salvation as they saw the speck of metal that marked his coming.

Baleful light erupted from the front of the ancient transport as it crossed into the lands of the dead, subatomic beamers dissolving the first ranks of the Warp-risen abominations into elementary particles. Within its confines, Malcador and his companions made ready for what was to come in their own manner, be it in thought or prayer or jest, in food or in drink, or in one particular case a last moment of restful slumber.

Kempfar approached, and with it, the first strands of the horrid destiny that Malcador had foreseen for those few he had dared call friends.

Lieutenant Alexiou cursed under his breath at the turn of their fortunes. They had been advancing steadily behind those beasts of men, the Emperor’s Thunder Warriors and his patrician Custodians, stepping over the carnage they left in their wake and moving from house to house like clockwork. It had been simple work, clearing that which the feral men had deemed unworthy of their attention. A shop of overturned spices here, a coffee hall there, a residential down the road. All of it, so simple. The occupants had been seen as beneath the Emperor’s most capable servants, and had been left to Imperial Army units, like Alexiou’s. But despite its simplicity, it was dirty work.

The shopkeeper and his staff, or at least that’s who Alexiou assumed they were, had come at his men with exotic tools he had discerned were used in the sorting of the spices. Finely made things, with razor thin blades that had cut up one of his troopers bad enough to warrant sending him to the rear. But other than the initial surprise of them they had been simple to dispatch. No armor, no formal training. They had been road bumps. Just as the other occupants of every building they’d swept through that decided to stand futilely before the Emperor’s army had been to Alexiou and his troopers.

But that time had come to an end far too soon. As quickly as they had cleared ten blocks the tide of the fighting changed around them. The sky had darkened, taking on a sickly glow, and the first signs of trouble had been the confusion over the vox. Then the maimed and stricken in the streets had risen around the Lieutenant and his platoon, and hell made its way to the land of the living. That had been nearly thirty minutes ago.

“Vox orders are unclear, aetherics are playing hell with the signal… I think they have ordered a general withdrawal to reinstate the lines and continue the push, but…” the vox operator hesitated a moment, “there was a Custodes, he was calling the Sigillite, I didn’t catch much more.”

“A Custodes? Figure his location, quickly,” Alexiou told his vox operator calmly as he turned back to the remains of his platoon, “Check your charge packs, and get ready to move,” his troopers gave no answer, and he didn’t need one. They had been ready to move since they’d first secured the holdout they sheltered in, and simply been waiting on Alexiou to make the decision on what came next.

They exited the holdout and fanned out down a wide thoroughfare, bypassing the butchered remains of Imperial troopers and Memphos guard with casual disregard as they approached the relative location the vox had returned for the Custodian Guard.

They swept through a blockhouse without a word and exited through a massive rent in the wall to find themselves spilling down a pile of rubble directly into an otherworldly onslaught. The Custodian, magnificent in his golden armor, was a blur of motion ahead of them. The ghastly creatures, those not long ago lost to this world, crashed into the Emperor’s chosen like the waves against the breakwaters of the acid lakes of Hive Ischian and, just like the acid waves, the abominations stood no chance of overcoming the patrician guardian of the Emperor.

His men spread out into the square without the need for a command, their jet black carapace armor a stark contrast to the dirtied yet still impressive gold of the Custodian. Where the Custodian was a blur of movement and the crackling of his guardian spear, his troopers were a clumsy hammer, their lasrifles spitting iridescent bolts into the surging wave of the dead.

“Firstborn, I am Lieutenant Alexiou of the Lucifer Blacks,” he stated over the common close-range vox shared by all Imperial units from within his enclosed carapace helmet, “my platoon is at your command,” he finished quickly as he took the head off a once dead thing with a flick of his saber.

Nothing here
<Snipped quote by Ezekiel>

I'll be sure to contact you if another spot opens up in the future! Keep stalking us as we unfold the story for the TIME Investigators, if you wont ^^

I'll definitely read along as well :)
Oh damn just fell upon this and saw the last spot's been taken.
Have fun! (Do let me know if an opportunity to rustle something up arises, been wanting to play a CoC game for a long while)

“Hae se mele tubis iksos se lektos cracks se jēdar.”

It was never truly cold within Dragonstone, the thermal forces rising from the depths which had made it the ideal outpost of the Targaryen lineage searing the cave systems with heat. However, when she spoke those words, the same heat seemed to leech out of the air, rushing into twin wooden effigies, their wicker forms soon lighting with a fire which robed the rest of the room of colour.

“Hail to you, Aegon Targaryen, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, known to us as the Conqueror.” The speaker knelt on both knees before the twin fires, watching the steady progress of immolation rise up the figures within. As the magic she worked pulled its power from the land around it, it also pulled on her, the age in her bones beginning to ache with pain. It was not a regular sensation for her, but for these moments she had to allow the ravages of time to steadily march on.

“Hail to you, Queen Rhaenys, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lady of Dragonstone.” It had only been in recent years that she had lit this second candle, the faintest of hope remaining that she might see the true face of its image again. But then, the fire had lit, and her hope had failed. The speaker was silent for a moment, keeping her head dipped, before she made to rise. Despite the pain that flared through her, she managed it in one motion, as defiant against that as any other she had faced in her life.

“Fair Eve, my loves.” When she spoke again, some of that strength rushed out of Visenya, standing before the images of her siblings as equals, rather than the subservience the nature of the spellwork required. The figures were carved as she remembered them, Aegon in his advancing years, still bearing the strength of his form, but still, slowly, collapsing into the softness that even athletic men of advancing age can rarely suppress entirely. Rhaenys was still as she had been when she had been stolen, taken in the prime of her life. It had been many long years, but she could recall every curve and line of her smile, and worked it into the wood which steadily burned.

“I need your guidance….or perhaps simply your company. I am sorry to trouble your rest beyond with such things, but you cannot begrudge me this.” Suddenly, a small amount of the warmth returned to the room, rushing through her. For a moment she thought the ritual had failed, but then she laughed, a rare noise. The warmth was not the fires of Dragstone returning, they were with her. “Thank you.” She breathed softly, a hand brushing over her own features.

“Your plan to have these people accept us is failing, Aegon, these men of Westeros and their Seven Gods, that you both cared to placate.” The King himself had taken to working some of the devices of the Seven onto his own arms and armour. When she had recreated his effigy, she could not bring herself to do so, bearing only the three headed dragon which was their symbol. The only symbol which mattered. “I warned you, the only way they would learn was through our way, Fire and Blood. That is how we could save this world. We gave them slackness on their leash, and now they have turned to bite us…. But it is only me of us who will feel those teeth.” Her tone was sorrowful, as opposed to condemning. She wished they had been right, or more, she wished they were will with her.

“How much longer must I linger here, my dearest? These long years without you both, living among Andal Savages, who have the arrogance to call our blood abominations? This land, it has tainted our children. I took Maegor away, perhaps there is some hope for him, but your son, he is more of this land than ours, he does not act.” Something of the warmth in the room receded again, yet the fires grew brighter. She felt judgment there, rebuke from those who watched from the great flames of the Beyond. “Do you not think I have tried? That I have not given council to him? If the time of the Song is coming, this land will fall. All the dragonfire we can muster could not save it.” While she might look a woman of almost half her age, in the moment she felt all seven decades of her long life weighing on her, a life where those she fought most to protect had often ignored her council, no more so than now. “Please…It would be so easy to join you…the Song may come to pass, it may not, I do not care. What is this land but a reminder that I alone still stand to hold true to your vision, brother?” The fires flared brighter, forcing her away, even as the wood consumed itself at a greater rate. She had never feared heat, but she could not withstand this assault. With a paniced gasp, she relented.

“Then I will do what I must. The King must be strong, for what is to come.”

I can't 'thank' this due to liking it before, which is my usual method of marking acceptance.

Consider yourself accepted!
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