The remains of the craftworld loomed on the horizon. Myathmar saw it every morning as he went about his patrol circuit. Even in the distance, it towered over the woodlands and sat stark against the grey mountains beyond. Rays of pre-dawn sunlight broke the horizon to set the skeleton of its hull aflame. It was majestic, and just a little bit sad.
Myathmar remembered when they arrived on this world. The Aeldari dubbed it Kyth’n D’ral. New Hope. It was the start of the new life, one that traded a coddled existence amongst the stars for one of earthbound labour but one that promised surety and stability over the transient unknowing that comprised Craftworld life.
It was a worthy trade.
‘You are slow today, Myathmar. Is K’rian back to keeping you up at night?’
A thin smile split Myathmar’s lips. ‘And if she was, Indrahir? Is that any of your business?’
‘It is my business to know why those under my command are underperforming,’ Indrahir replied, reciprocating the smile.
Myathmar turned and looked back down the path they’d come. The grass was worn flat to dirt by repeated daily patrols, but the undergrowth along the edges persisted in trying to reclaim such a narrow strip of earth. Kyth’n D’ral remained wild, even after all these years.
‘Underperforming?’ Myathmar asked. ‘Is that what you call it? I still cannot see the rest of the squad.’
‘Underperforming by your standards, old friend, not theirs,’ Indrahir replied. ‘So I shall ask you again. Is-‘
Myathmar waved a silencing hand. ‘She might be. We are… we are trying, at least.’
Indrahir nodded. ‘May you be blessed again, then.’
Indrahir reached up and removed his helmet, tucking it beneath his arm as he turned and viewed the vista Myathmar had been admiring. ‘Do you ever miss it?’ he asked after a spell.
Myathmar mirrored his counterpart, removing his helmet and letting his shuriken catapult hang loose in his grasp. He breathed deeply, inhaling the fresh morning air. It smelled of pine wood and the promise of afternoon rain. He revelled in it, closing his eyes as he found the answer to Indrahir’s question.
‘Sometimes,’ he admitted. ‘In the winters, when the nights are dark and cold. My soul sometimes mistakes those moments for the times I spent in the Ancestral Halls, meditating amongst the fallen, seeking guidance from those that went before.’
Myathmar shook his head, the smile on his face warming. His thoughts turned to what he had gained coming here. A home. A wife. A son. And maybe more to come. ‘No.’
Indrahir placed a hand upon Myathmar’s shoulder and squeezed fondly. ‘That is good. We are better off.’ He nodded towards the hulking Craftworld. ‘And our ancestors are better off. No longer will they have to endure the ignominy of powering our desperation.’
‘It was a necessary ignominy.’
‘Of course. But now they may commune with this world and be part of its spirit. Surely that is a far better fate. Would you not agree?’
‘I would,’ Myathmar said with a nod. One hand moved to gently touch the pendant looped through his belt.
‘Come. Dawn is about to break and we are not yet halfway through our circuit.’ Indrahir returned his helmet to his head.
Myathmar hid his smirk by following suit. ‘Then perhaps you should find those trailing behind and convince them to live up to my standards.’
The scent of roasting myradon meat and sweetroot reached him as he passed through the tiny gate at the front of his yard. Grey smoke climbed lazily from the chimney. Dawn had come and gone, and now the morning sun played its golden light upon a village that was slowly waking.
Myathmar paused at the foot of the walkway and removed his helmet. The house was small and squat, a single level with a floor plan that granted enough space for three or four rooms. Fernwood made up the walls and rafters and roof shingles. Stones he had cut with his own hands marked the path to the porch. He had built that as well, with the aid of Indrahir and some others. The village had been a collaborative effort, a process of trial and error and perpetual learning. Many days of frustration and despair eventually fled like winter before the warmth of spring, leaving in its place the fruit they all desired.
It struck Myathmar how similar this view was to the one he had been admiring hours before. One was rooted in the past, woven of memories that would eventually fade with time. The other was the future, and he found his soul sang all the louder because of it. Myathmar let the thought warm him a moment longer before finishing his journey along the stone pathway and across the threshold.
A different warmth touched him as he passed through the door, one born by a lit hearth and a fire crackling merrily away beneath an iron pan that sizzled and popped with the morning’s breakfast.
Leonon leapt from his seat and raced across the floor before clamping himself around Myathmar’s leg. The child was only ten summers old, but already he was beginning to take on his father’s features. Myathmar smiled and ruffled Leonon’s hair fondly.
“Patrol treated you well this morning, I hope?” K’rian turned from the hearth and smiled. She crossed to her husband in a far more subdued manner than her child, but the embrace she shared with him was no less enthusiastic. “I missed you this morning,” she whispered, her eyes flashing with a look Myathmar knew well.
He smiled, and placed a soft kiss on K’rian’s lips, sending Leonon scampering with a definitive cry of “Gross!”
“I’ll make it up to you later,” Myathmar said, his voice a conspiratorial whisper.
It was good to be home.
About the Author
Gregory Williams is a historian by profession. He has been writing for over a decade and has been involved in the Warhammer hobby for even longer. Gregory writes primarily as a hobby, but does have professional aspirations. He has been published previously by the Jack London Foundation and Cold Open Stories.