Necessary Evils

4/5 (1)


Arch-Bishop Faustinius Uriah, Ecclesiarchal Representative and Governor of Orthorga Primus, frowns as he stares at the scroll in his hands. 

‘A problem,’ he says, fingers drumming on his desk. ‘But not one we can’t handle.’

 He screws up the letter and drops it to the floor for the servitors to sweep up. 

He grips the arms of his chair, a tapestry of scars stark against the paper white of his skin, and pushes himself to his feet. Taking a second to steady himself, he grabs the cane that rests against his desk. 

‘I have work to do,’ he says before making for the door, the gold tip of his cane echoing as it clicks against the cold marble of the floor. 

Click. Click. Click. 


Landus wipes sweat from his brow. He fidgets with the beads of his rosarius, twisting them round and round, then loosening them before repeating the process over and over. 

Have I made a mistake? What if he doesn’t come? What if he does? 

He slides a hand inside his robes and feels the cheap autopistol he has hidden away.

Just in case, he tells himself. It won’t be needed.

Click. Click. Click. 

Landus starts at the sound. His grip on the pistol tightens momentarily before he lets go with a heavy sigh.

He mutters a prayer to the God-Emperor. What he is about to do is technically heresy against His holy church. But the Emperor will forgive him. What he has found is worse. It is true heresy. 

Click. Click. Click. 

His vision settles on Arch-Bishop Faustinius’s white robes. They shine against their surroundings. So clean. So bright. 

Click. Click. Click. 

Eventually, Faustinius comes to a halt before him. Landus watches the Arch-Bishop, noting his laboured breathing. Seeing how sallow his skin is. His gaze lingers on the scars that cover the Arch-Bishop’s hands. That snake up his arms. He thinks of the rumours and swallows. He forces himself to look up and meet Faustinius’s gaze.

‘You came.’

Fastinius says nothing.

Landus looks down and wipes sweat from his brow with the hem of his robes. 

‘I’m sorry about the venue,’ he says, looking to the frozen corpses piled up on one side of the walkway. Then he looks to the corpse starch grinders on the other side. ‘But I thought it best to keep this a secret.’ 

Faustinius looks slowly from one side to the other. Still, he remains silent.

‘I have found heresy, your Excellency. At the highest levels.’ Landus finds the words tumbling from his mouth, clammy hands clenching tight at his side. 

‘I find the choice of venue appropriate,’ replies Faustinius. 

Landus blinks. What does that mean?

‘What is it you want, Landus?’

‘I… I…’ Landus stammers before clearing his throat. ‘I just want to serve the God-Emperor, your Excellency.’ 

A smile creeps across Faustinius’s face. 

‘Don’t we all? From the lowest servant to the High Lords on Terra. But what do you want from this meeting?’

Straight to business, then, thinks Landus. He settles his nerves with a deep breath. But it does nothing. Nausea and dizziness wash through him. Saliva builds in his throat. 

‘I found heresy. As I said. Involving… involving you.’

The smile disappears. Silence settles between the two men. Landus fights the urge to reach for his pistol. 

‘What did you find, Landus? It is Landus, am I right?’

‘Yes, your Excellency. You are right.’ He feels his guts tighten, knowing what he says next could break him. ‘I found evidence of trade. With xenos.’

Faustinius begins to smile again. It widens until he begins to laugh.

‘Your Excellency?’ asks Landus. ‘What is so funny?’

The Arch-Bishop does not reply. He forces himself to calm. His hands smooth out the front of his robes before looking Landus in the eye. His gaze is steel and ice. 

‘What is so funny?’ The Arch-Bishop chuckles quietly once more. ‘You come to me with talk of heresy and present me with trade? You have wasted my time, Landus.’

Landfus flinches. He feels anger swell inside. It is blasphemy to deal with the xenos. That is what the scriptures say! He finds he is gripping the concealed pistol. 

‘I could inform Cardinal Graumund,’ he snaps. ‘Or the Sisters of the Bloody Rose. Or the Inquisition.’

‘You could,’ replies Faustinius. ‘Perhaps you should. Trade with the aeldari is the least of my crimes. I have made deals with them. Deals that would sicken you. But they keep this planet safe. I guard my flock with my own immortal soul. Yet all you talk of is trade? By the Throne, you are a fool.’

Landus screams as he draws his pistol. He raises it in one quick motion. Yet, even as he moves, something thuds against his chest. He feels the air leave his lungs. The pistol suddenly feels unbearably heavy. It tumbles from his grip as he slumps to his knees. He looks down. A neat hole has been burned in his chest.

I’ve been shot.

The words echo in his mind as darkness crowds his visions. He looks up towards Arch-Bishop Faustinius. To curse him, but only blood and bile vomit from his mouth.

Faustinius has already turned away. 

Click. Click. Click. 


Arch-Bishop Faustinius Uriah frowns as he stares at the scroll in his hands. 

‘Again,’ he sighs before crumpling the parchment and dropping it to the floor. ‘This is an endless torture.’ 

He smiles ruefully to himself and runs a finger over the scars on his hands. He knows torture. 

He thinks of that first time. Of Landus. As he does every time. He thinks of the seventy-five others he has had to silence.

But the Tithe has to be paid, no matter what. No matter the cost.

He rises unsteadily, then grabs his cane.

‘I have work to do. Again,’ he whispers. 

Click. Click. Click.

About the Author

 J.S. Savage is a teacher in the UK and has been an avid of all things 40k and Warhammer Fantasy since he accidently found his way into a Games Workshop store as a young boy. When he was younger, he was a keen writer but has only just started up again recently. Between work and being a parent, he doesn’t get nearly enough time to paint, read and write as much as he would like – or as much sleep as he needs!