To Travel is to Heal

3.75/5 (1)

‘Why did you leave?’

It is always the same question. Why would one leave the safety of a Craftworld? A place with no strife, no scarcity? Why would one risk eternal damnation? What price could be worth it? I cannot help but smile.

The Mon’Keigh in front of me is not the first, nor will she be the last, to ask this of me. She is a seeker of truths amongst her people. Inquisitor. She made me her prisoner. I will be questioned, then discarded.

‘To live,’ I say. ‘Be alive.’ 

‘To kill and plunder and enslave our people.’

Primitive emotions dance on her scarred face. Hatred, anger… curiosity. A seeker indeed.

‘Sometimes, yes,’ I reply. I see no reason to deny it.

‘We take what we desire. Or die in the attempt. Our way to live. And I lived more in an hour than any of my former kin did in a hundred cycles. They know only restraint. Never hungry, never cold, never lonely. Lacking for nothing. Sleeping in feathered beds, drinking refined wines, feasting on the sweetest treats. I refuse to live like that.’

The Mon’Keigh gives me a puzzled look. She inks some of their blunt runes on the weathered skin of a long dead animal.


I laugh. How does one explain the suffocating comfort of abundance to a race that lives like vermin? Crowded into burrows, breathing toxic miasmas, consuming their own? Their short existences’ pure nightmares.

‘I was once separated from my coterie. Stranded. No food. No water. Six full cycles I neither drank nor ate. And then, on the seventh, I found a nest of small rodents. Do you think I ever tasted something sweeter? I still taste it on my soul.’

‘Fasting? That is it? I have yet to set foot unto one of your blasphemous homes, yet I wager I wouldn’t find a xenos to force delicacies down my throat, if ever I did.’

‘Larriya,’ I say. The mere whisper of her name lets my soul ache with longing. My hands reach for the satchel at my belt. ‘A pilot like no other. Wild. She died when we raided the world you call Gorran VII. That laugh she had. I traded much of spoils and slaves to hear it. Then, a missile hit her aircraft. She was dead in an instant. Her spirit… lost. All that’s left, a piece of bone.’

‘Thirty thousand casualties. A whole tithe of grain lost. The basilica of the Sainted Martyr despoiled. Four million citizens carried off. And you tell me you participated in this monstrous act…For your lover?’

‘No. I take what I desire. But that is not the lesson of this tale. Listen, and understand.’

I pause, as much for effect as to steady myself. I can smell Larriya’s favourite orchid, hear that childlike laughter she only ever gave me, when I made her lose all her composure. All restraint.

‘Do you think I ever loved more fiercely than the night before she died? Do you think I ever kissed more passionately? Do you think our souls ever burnt as brightly against the cold void of this uncaring universe? Even now I cherish it all. The depths of despair, the heights of elation. I miss her with an intensity that your primitive tongue cannot express. Every moment with her was precious, for we knew it would not last.’

‘Your Craftworlds have warriors. Each citizen can carry a weapon if they so wish. I know enough of your kind. Is this some ploy? For if it is the thrill of battle you sought, why leave?’

‘On Alaitoc, I spent many a day in the Dome of the Frozen Rebirth. Each day I would walk through the snows. The soft crunch under my feet, like music. Sometimes I would tread as lightly as a ghost, leaving barely visible trails. A whisper in the wind. On other days, I would stomp like a wild beast, leaving deep traces in the snow. You know what would happen every day?’

‘Indulge me, xenos.’ She feigns anger, but I can sense the hunger in her eyes. Knowledge, her great prize. If we Aeldari know of one thing, it is of desire.

‘Each day it would be as if I had never been there. The dome would remake the paradise. Reset it. None of it was real. A mirage. A lie. Cut yourself on a Craftworld and they will take away your scars. As if you’ve never bled. Change your Path, and you might even forget that you did. Battles, scars, love… it all fades. You will be content and compliant, and then you will one day die and never lived.

‘With every new world, every new experience, I strip away another illusion, another lie. No part of my body is without scar. No part of my soul. I have fought against the nightmares of the Old Foe in what you call the Halo stars. I have tasted the flesh of unborn horrors and walked amongst the Dark City itself.’

‘And now you are a prisoner. Say, xenos, with your death drawing near, do you regret ever leaving?’

I shake my head. It seems to anger her. I’ve laid my truth before the seeker, but still she cannot see. My parting gift goes without cherish.

‘Still not afraid? Tell me then, what have you found in this great universe, to give you such courage at the end? I know what eternity awaits you.’

‘I found a purpose. Love. I saw my soul in its own light.’

One last smile for her.

‘And this.’

I whisper the forbidden word as I toss the rune-edged bone towards the seeker. Shadows emerge from it, unnatural and cold. It does not take the Mandrakes long to clear the room. My hand reaches the satchel.

I fulfilled the bargain. The Haemonculi will make her whole.

About the Author

Drawn to the grimdarkness of the 41st Millenium since he was a teenager, Sebastian has been following Warhammer for the better part of two decades now, with varying levels of interest. Dissatisfied with the official lore for his beloved Aeldari, he decided to pick up the pen himsel