Winds of Blood

4.7/5 (5)

A sun, like burning embers, rose on this day of fate, a blood-red sky to spell the end. With the wind in her back, Torindreth stood upon the cliff’s edge, looking down on this planet’s capital city some thirty kilometres away, her fur-collared cape dancing behind her in the rush of air. Not once did she blink, her eyes bleeding rage as she stared at the distant spires. Oh, how they mutilated the natural beauty of this world with their brutish architecture. Like everything the humans did. Never did they bring forth any good, insults to the eye being the smallest of their atrocities and sins. Held in her right hand was a slender power glaive. In her left she held her helmet. Her armour was heavy by Aeldari standards, coloured in striking scarlet red, and set with multiple sky-blue gemstones. Her spirit stone was of the same colour, centred on the chest plate. Torindreth’s skin was pale, her face perfect and flawless, save for a single scar running vertically along her left cheek and up to the eye, where it forked up into three scars, splitting her eyebrow. Her eyes were emerald, and her hair shone in the morning sun like liquid copper, tied to a loose and wild ponytail to fly with the wind. 

Behind her, a glittering portal opened.

‘What a waste of blood. I gave you every chance to avoid this… You will learn to fear the Cosmic Serpent’s bite, and I will enjoy it,’ uttered Torindreth, as she stared towards the city’s highest spire. 

A silhouette appeared within the portal, a dark shape. Red as the Chieftain’s scarlet armour, a Cobra took form and entered this world’s plains. The Engines of Vaul had come. It looked intimidating by sheer appearance, the enormous distortion cannon mounted to its hull spelling doom to all who would stand against it. Flat, sleek, and curved in design, some would have mistaken it for an interceptor. Near twenty metres in length, it dwarfed most other tanks. A second Cobra followed, by its side dozens of smaller tanks to lay ruin to the humans.

More vehicles emerged from the webway portal, yet Torindreth waited with her back turned. A formation of jetbikes followed, settling behind her to await orders. These were the Wild Riders of Clan Yhunas, and they were eager for blood. Yet they waited for Torindreth’s command.

Torindreth closed her eyes. The time had come, and she turned to face the scarlet army before her as a single Warlock in deep red armour approached her. The Warlock stood by the Chieftain’s side, silent for the time being. Her presence was a reassurance to Torindreth, for it was her fiery passion that kept the Chieftain’s heart warm.

‘The barbarians have sown the wind, and tempest they shall harvest. Let us laugh together with the storm!’ she uttered, knowing that every last aeldari that stood before her heard the words clearly. She gave one last prolonged look to the Seer and stepped up to her own jetbike. Two entwined serpents had been painted in bright white onto the hood. Their tails ended in the rune of freedom, their fangs held the rune of salvation.

How ironic to bear these marks when she would bring misery and certain doom. There was no regret in her heart. The humans had chosen this. Torindreth put on her helmet, and swung herself into the saddle. With a sharp howl, the turbine came to life. The other Riders signalled their readiness, and not one more moment was wasted.

Before Torindreth had arrived to this world, the Clan’s Rangers were already here; they had found what the Clan had come to reclaim. They had scouted the capital and snuck inside the city in anticipation of what was to come. Now with the Clan’s call for war, they were ready to serve. Having once been a Ranger herself, Torindreth trusted their intelligence and their observations. 

A voice echoed through her mind, transmitted by the communication crystal sitting right behind her ear. ‘The Mon-keigh are still busy with the preparation of their defence, Chieftain. But they are expecting us. What are your wishes?’

For a moment, she thought about her answer. ‘Remain out of sight. Choose your targets with care. Any officers. The second before we attack, scythe’s smile shall end their tale.’
‘So it shall be done, Chieftain.’ 

The connection broke, and Torindreth swished her fingers over the jetbike’s control panel. Once again, the turbines howled, louder this time, more shrill. Akin to a bullet, the jetbike shot off towards the city. The rest of the Riders swiftly followed, as did the tanks, save for a few who stayed behind to provide long-range fire support. 


Over cyan plains and hills, the forces of Clan Yhunas raced like a red storm, drawing closer and closer. No minefield would stop them, no barricade would hinder them, and no force on this world would ever push them back. So they were convinced. What the Mon-keigh, the humans declared rage, would pale in comparison to what the aeldari felt at this very moment. 

The Clan had been spotted, but it would not take long to pass these last few kilometres to the targets. Two fighters raced past her from above, on a sharp descent, near-silent to the point where the rush of air almost appeared louder than their turbines.

Her thirst for violence grew with every moment, she felt the blood painted on her face by her Clan’s kinsmen earlier still hot on her skin. 

They came close to the walls, and the Rangers, hidden away in the surrounding woodlands and the city itself, opened fire. One Cobra stopped, along with a small escort of Wave Serpents, and aimed its massive Distortion Cannon at the wall ahead. 

The weapon began to glow in deep violet light as it powered up. A sharp whistle rose in company to the powering. With a horrible screech of tormented reality, the Distortion Cannon fired. Torindreth shuddered upon hearing it. The blast raced past the approaching jetbikes, hit the massive rockcrete wall, but a heartbeat later, in a flash of violet light, a rift tore open reality itself. A rift into the warp, destroying an entire wall section. Rubble was sucked into the breach, as were screaming soldiers and the few gun emplacements that could threaten the aircraft. Steel tore, bones broke, and everything too far away to be entirely sucked into the rift was still affected by it, began to warp and bend. Many were left mangled, their screams a terrifying ode to true Aeldari wrath.

The Wild Riders had their opening, the chaos was still unfolding, while the human defenders were still staggered by this vicious attack. Time and time again, multi-coloured streaks of pure light shot past the jetbikes, each of which announced by the sound of glass breaking and crystal shattering. 

As Torindreth closed the distance, the first into battle as so often, the valiant defenders opened fire. High-calibre rounds, red laser streaks, missiles, and blue plasma fire rained down on the alien attackers. Most shots missed her, though one bolt hit the hood of Torindreth’s jetbike, leaving behind a blackened scuff as it exploded. 

Her own anger built with every second passing. Oh, how she craved to spill blood this day. A sensation, both warm and cold, ran down her spine. The anticipation was growing. 

The fighters reached the wall ahead of her. For a moment, Torindreth’s anger vanished as she recognised them, Hemlock Wraithfighters. These winged atrocities frightened her. Despite it all, for a moment she felt regret and doubt. Were these humans, these people deserving of such a fate? 

‘Focus, Torindreth. They have chosen their fate and left us no other option,’ a voice echoed through her mind. It was that of the warlock, strong and clear, unwavering. Resolution filled the Chieftain’s heart, the doubt washed away.

They had chosen this. 

The heavy distortion scythes mounted on the fighters’ wings fired. In a ghostly hue, the slender muzzles lit up… Yet there was no sound whatsoever, nothing that would indicate that damage had been done to anything beyond these walls. 

Torindreth knew better. She had felt what had happened, and it had turned her stomach. Rarely had she witnessed psychic screams, and no Banshee’s howl, no cry of pain and anguish ever could compare.

This entire assault had lasted less than thirty seconds so far, and just as the Wraithfighters rose back into the air, Torindreth passed through the breach first. Even now, clouds of dust were moving through the ruined fortifications, making a proper sight near impossible. And yet…

No one fired upon her, and no one attempted to slow her progress. Not many things had enough impact to stop a Saim-Hanni warrior. But the moment she passed the breach and through the thick dust, seeing what the Wraithfighters had done, she froze. There was no one left to open fire. Before her lay hundreds of bodies, clad in the uniform of the Planetary Defence Force. Not one bore a single wound. Yet cold they were drained of all life. There was no smoke, there was no rubble. Nothing had been damaged in the attack, save for every living thing in range. 

It looked like a scene in a puppet show where all the puppets’ strings had been sheared off. Not even rockcrete bunkers had protected these poor souls from the most terrible weaponry the Eldar had to offer. All colour left the Chieftain’s face realising that this was her doing, her responsibility. The distortion scythes had not injured the bodies, nor done any physical damage whatsoever. 

They had cut Crone’s chord. Weapons, so fiendish no living thing could wield them. And for the first time, Torindreth saw firsthand just how much of an understatement this was. All these soldiers had lost their souls. Torn from their bodies and sent to the Warp. Sent to a fate the Eldar considered far, far worse than death. As efficiently as they had blown through the ranks of defenders, there were none left on this plaza. There were no screams of the wounded, no groans. Nothing. Of all the things Torindreth had thought she would fear in war, never had she thought silence would terrify her to such an extent. 

She could hear the echoes of her kin’s bikes and vehicles from behind as they caught up to her and screams of human throats far off ahead as they rallied. Nothing else but the wind’s gentle howl as it pushed away smoke and dust from the earlier bombardment. As her eyes set on the spire in which the governor hid, the rest of the Clan caught up. Jetbikes raced past her, never once slowing down or stopping. No order to stop had been given, and the assault continued. 

Wave Serpents flew over the walls, dropping warriors to take on whatever had survived inside the fortifications, while others took up positions on the walls to provide their horrifyingly accurate support fire.

Suddenly a frail woman emerged, weeping and screaming in the human tongue. Torindreth spoke the language, but the helmet’s audio receptors still translated it. Her eyes were running with tears, her face an expression of pure desperation. She was wearing a dirty beige robe, and in her hand, she held a staff topped with an eye and the Aquila.
‘WHAT HAVE YO-…?!’ was all she managed to say before a single shuriken cut her off. Entering her open mouth, it severed the spine, and the woman collapsed like a wet sack onto the rockcrete ground, lifeless.

Torindreth looked at the Dire Avenger who had taken the shot, and she bowed her head towards the warrior. 

It had to be done.

Her attention turned back to the fighting. Like a scarlet tidal wave, the Clan swept through the streets, mowing down anyone who dared to stand in their way. But the humans already were recovering, and she knew better than to celebrate victory just yet. Humans were a sluggish lot, but stubborn enough to defy fate. They had done so in the past.

She shook her horror off, gripped the handlebar with her left hand and the glaive with her right before she then raced off to catch up with her kin, the turbines howling like hunting wolves. 

Red streaks zipped right past her, one of which hit her pauldron. The impact left a blackened spot on her red armour, having only damaged the very surface of her heavy armour. Rage boiled up once more, and as her attention turned to the roof from which she had been shot at, her fist gripping the glaive trembled. A small squad of human soldiers stood there, rifles in hand, firing at everything in range. She wished to pull the trigger, to turn and slaughter them all, to spill the blood of these imbecilic creatures… 

This was not her duty today.

Torindreth was long gone already, her jetbike climbing further into the sky. Others would end them. She was to cut off the beast’s head to retrieve what the Clan had come for. 

The Chieftain reached the upper levels of the spire, found a balcony, and landed on it. The humans had lowered blast shields over all the windows. They thought themselves safe in there, trusting their forces to hold off the assault long enough for reinforcements to arrive, but nothing would protect them.

She crouched down. There was no reason to make herself more visible than necessary. ‘Laestarrith, bring the Death’s Cord to my position.’ 

‘As you wish, Chieftain. The spider’s fangs shall deliver a lethal blow. Honour to Khaine,’ was the Exarch’s answer, her voice distorted and constantly changing pitch as she spoke. It was unsettling to listen to, even knowing the Exarch was her ally. Once more, she ensured the device on her belt was still there and intact. She expected to need it soon.

A Wave Serpent followed in the Chieftain’s tracks, stopping mid-air where the ramp opened, and five Warp Spiders jumped out, their death spinners already glowing with a sun’s rage, ready to fight and die by the Chieftain’s side. 

Within seconds the Wave Serpent had departed. Under normal circumstances she would have expected them to just appear out of thin air, but this far up the transport had been quicker and safer. Torindreth bowed her head to Laestarrith, who returned the gesture in kind and took one glance at the thick blast shields. 

‘I see why you wished for the Death’s Cord, here we are. What is your plan?’ the Exarch of the Warp Spiders asked, her helmeted head tilting in an almost feline manner. She was clad in heavy armour of scarlet red. The white helmet she wore had six eye lenses, all glowing in a terrible red colour. Armed with two vicious blades, and additional artificial limbs ending in death spinners, she resembled a spider more than a person—an unsettling sight to most, including Torindreth.

‘You and your warriors shall jump inside, take care of whatever may await, and attach a plasma grenade to the inner blast shields. I will attach one to the outer shield. This opens a passage inside.’ 

The heads of all five Warp Spiders turned to the Chieftain. ‘A sound plan. We shall give the signal once we are ready. It shan’t take long to slaughter the barbarians,’ Laestarrith spoke in return, her head moving in a faint nod. ‘What then?’

‘We employ your greatest strength, set up a webway portal, and open it wide enough for the warriors I held in reserve to follow. They are waiting on the ship to join the bloodshed. We need not risk them being shot down in a transport. None who stand in our way shall survive.’

As the Exarch thought this through, silence reigned. A different kind this time. This was a moment of anticipation, of anxiety and excitement. Torindreth hardly managed to control her emotions, as they so desired to burst from her like molten stone from a volcano.

Finally the Exarch nodded. ‘Very well. May fate be in your favour, Chieftain.’ 

She nodded, silent as the Exarch jumped into action. She and her warriors both disappeared within a single heartbeat. One blink, and all five of them were gone. They would reappear inside the citadel.

As the Chieftain now moved to the outer blast shield to attach her grenade, she did so swiftly. There was no need for hesitation. Yet, she still had to wait for the signal. With the explosive ready she stepped aside and looked around. Pillars of black smoke, echoing screams of the wounded and dying. Even up here, she could imagine the smell of death and destruction. Oh, how it riled her temper, made her blood boil. She so wished to drive her glaive into the Governor’s gut. As it turned out, Torindreth’s estimate had been correct. 

Suddenly the Exarch’s unsettling voice appeared, ‘The spider’s fangs have struck deep. We await your command.’

‘Now,’ was all she said in response. In a mix of a deafening bang and a terrible hiss of vaporised metal and air, the blast shield disappeared. In its place, there was an almost three-metre-tall and wide hole in the armoured steel and ceramite. Its edges were still glowing white, dripping molten material to the ground. 

The Chieftain did not hesitate. Grasping her cape to ensure it would not catch fire, she made her way through the hole. She avoided a drop of liquid steel before taking a short moment to get her bearings.

There she saw the carnage the Warp Spiders and their deadly weaponry had created. To the left of the hole had been a defensive position made of barricades, a long-barrelled gun fed with a belt of ammunition, and an armed servitor—a creation so perverse it had made her physically sick the first time she had encountered one. All of which directed towards the hallway further down, their backs to where the Aspect Warriors had materialised. Most of the human remains were little more than pulp, and she found herself staring at the swirling pools of blood for but a moment.

Torindreth turned her attention back ahead while the Spiders stood guard, and opened a door to an empty meeting room. This would suffice. She took the device from her belt, and placed it on the floor. She focused her mind on it, and as it sprung to life, the device unfolding where suddenly a three-metre tall oval portal appeared.

Torindreth stepped back, and a blue-clad warrior with a black and gold comb on his helmet appeared carrying two shuriken catapults. He gave a hint of a nod to the Chieftain, and behind him, more warriors followed.

 ‘Nahaaril, may the wind of blood blow with you,’ Torindreth greeted.

The Exarch nodded as he led his Dire Avengers out of the room to where the Warp Spiders waited already. There was no need to give further orders. They took position behind the bloodied barricades, and a second squad of Avengers followed to reinforce them. 

Nahaaril and his shrine would ensure that none would rescue the Governor and his pawns.

Swiftly now Torindreth went on her way, the Warp Spiders forming up behind her without a moment of hesitation as more Warriors clad in deep blue and emerald secured the hallway. 

The six Saim-Hanni turned a corner and were met with sudden heavy fire. Torindreth took cover behind a pillar, the Spiders jumping in and out of existence to follow suit. One hit from these primitive weapons would be enough to inflict horrendous injury. 

‘Losseainn,’ the Exarch of the Death’s Cord uttered, and the ancient warrior clenched her fists. The hatred seeping from the mistress of her murderous art was all but palpable, as was the joy in knowing there was an actual challenge present. Torindreth felt her blood boil. This was indeed a good fight—a fight face to face, and one decided by skill, talent, and equipment.

The suppressive fire continued, pinning them down for now, or at the very least giving the humans and their elite warriors the illusion of doing so. The warp spiders waited for orders from the chieftain. 

‘We strike swiftly. Leap forth and behind them. We will bring the smile of the scythe to them like this,’ she ordered.

Meanwhile, the suppressive fire paused as the Losseainn—what the humans called space marines—conserved ammunition and waited for their targets to reemerge. The Exarch tilted her head. ‘This will be two, perhaps three leaps. If they grow aware of this, they will adjust their strategy. As brutish as these lumbering hulks are, they are not burdened with the same idiocy as other humans. These are dangerous.’

‘I have fought them before, yes, and they will fall. I shall push through the corridor and use whatever cover I can to distract them. You jump ahead.’
Laestarrith’s head sharply turned to the Chieftain. ‘Mayhaps you are burdened as well. This is reckless.’ 

‘You carry haywire grenades with you, no? Once you are in range, throw one. If fate is with us this day, we can deactivate their armours entirely. At the very least, this ought to scramble their systems. I will push on from the front, you come in from the rear. None will survive.’ 

‘And if your plan fails, then we can scrape your remains off the next wall. I wish my armour to drip with human blood, not yours,’ she muttered, her voice still ever-changing in pitch. ‘But very well. Khaine be with us then.’


Torindreth took one last deep breath. Employing all her strength, agility, and swiftness she fell into a full sprint. To a human’s eyes she was little more than a red blur. To the Losseainn facing them, not so much. The heavy weapon opened fire again the second she appeared again. 

To the Chieftain time itself seemed to slow. She saw the enemy at the end of the corridor. Eight of the Imperium’s genetically engineered elite warriors stood there clad in black – the right arm of each warrior coloured in silver, the shoulder pad showing a single sigil – one armed with a heavy belt-fed weapon. The others had typical losseainn weapons, but of course, they fired as well. 

The rounds all missed the red blur sprinting to the next pillar, only one shot coming close to hitting her. Instead, it struck the marble floor right in front of her foot, and the following explosion resulted in a rain of sharp shrapnel sprinkling her armour. None of the stone splinters penetrated her armour, yet it made her stagger. 

She still made it back into cover, yet not without another round grazing the pillar behind which Torindreth was hiding, chipping more stone at her. A heartbeat before her head would have been there. 

During Torindeth’s distraction, the Warp Spiders had dematerialised and reappeared behind individual pillars further down the corridor. One more time. Torindreth rolled her shoulders, gripping the power glaive more tightly. She drew her shuriken pistol with the other hand. That she had not been hit was sheer luck with this amount of fire—something she would not test again. 

This was exhilarating. She felt so alive, so challenged, yet so eager to bring a bloody end to this. She was almost shaking with anticipation of the coming fight. This was perfect.

Once more to challenge fate and smile back at the scythe just waiting to cut her story short. 

She fell into a full sprint again. Intuitively, the Aeldari warrior ducked. She had been a heavy weapons expert long enough to have an idea of what the warrior with the heavy weapon would attempt. As she ran almost crouched, three more rounds zipped past above her head. She returned upright and raised the pistol, loosely aiming down the corridor. Torindreth pulled the trigger, and a burst of shuriken shot from her weapon. Dozens of shuriken raced towards the losseainn like a swarm of angry hornets, each one cutting the air with a sharp whistle. 

It was not in the losseainn’s nature to seek cover as a normal human would have. Not so the Angels, as other humans dubbed these monstrosities. 

Without proper aim, most shots either missed their enormous targets or hit the thickest parts of the armour. One hit a giant’s hand, splitting it in two as the shuriken cut its way through the entire palm. It didn’t stop the hulking brute, and he fired his weapon with his intact hand, the ruined limb dangling from the arm. 

Only after another moment did they finally seek cover, easing up on the suppressive fire.

Again and again, she escaped one call closer after another, until she made it to the pillar, ramming into it to a full stop. Even with her armour it hurt. Far from elegant too. Her kinsmen would not have let her live down the sight of this near clumsy approach, had they been there to watch. Some would declare her mad—the Exarch surely would—but it had been distraction enough. The Warp Spiders had advanced further. A grenade was thrown from behind a pillar, exploding in a cloud of thick white mist. Another grenade followed the first, exploding with yet another deafening bang, yet no flash. The haywire grenade needed no flash to perform its task. It disrupted the Losseainn’s armours, making, at least for a few moments, their optic sensors near useless. 

The Aspect Warriors took advantage and vanished, jumping through the Warp to reemerge behind the squad of Astartes and open fire. 

Faster than any human could, the Losseainn recovered from the sudden ambush, turning their murderous weaponry at their opponents. 

Laestarrith leapt at the nearest Marine and opened fire with her Death Spinners—the monowire shot forth towards the losseainn’s thinly armoured joints. Nigh invisible to the human eye, and yet more deadly than any bolter round could ever be, the Losseainn screamed in pain as his limbs were sheared off. The Exarch rammed one of her blades through his chin so that the tip pierced through the top of the helmet. As she pulled the weapon back out, she turned to the next foe. Meanwhile, her disciples did not stand by and watch. As they fired their weapons, the Losseainn found themselves under terrible pressure.

Another one of the hulking brutes was murdered by the monowire and dropped to the floor, cracking the marble plates. His helmet fell off to reveal a liquefied mass of flesh, blood, organs, and bone. 

But the Losseainn were not idle either, and after their first strike as the Warp Spiders moved towards cover, one of the Aspect Warriors was hit in the thigh by a round between two of the protective plates. The mesh suit underneath did not stop it, and when it exploded, it tore off the warrior’s leg. 

Mere seconds went by during the bloody slaughter, and the screams of the injured and dying filled the corridor. Torindreth took this distraction to sprint as fast as she could into the cloud of smoke emerging with her glaive raised. She aimed for the one she deemed the leader of the squad. He wore an oversized gauntlet crackling with energy, and his head was bare without a helmet. Her glaive found its target, and drove itself deep into the warrior’s silver pauldron, cutting apart the sigil, and causing the arm holding the bolt pistol to go limp.

A badly aimed thrust, some would claim, and maybe it was, but a fight often devolved into rapid improvisation. The Sergeant turned to face her and almost ripped the glaive from her fingers. Instead, she let go of her footing and, using the momentum of the spinning Marine, turned her glaive into a gymnast’s pole, keeping her out of reach of the losseainn’s deadly gauntlet that could have crushed her with but a single touch.

She catapulted herself up on the axis of the glaive, where she released her grip to land on the Sergeant’s shoulders and fire her shuriken pistol into his head, turning it into nothing more than a bloody mush.

By the time Torindreth jumped from the shoulders of the falling corpse, the skirmish was coming to its conclusion. One of Laestarrith’s Warp Spiders decapitated the Losseainn wielding the heavy weapon, and the Exarch stepped onto the chest of another fallen giant to rip her blade free from his body. For a moment, she paused, watching with unsettling fascination as the deep red blood of the Losseainn ran down her polished blade. 

Laestarrith’s hands were still trembling with rage and unsatisfied bloodlust while two of her shrine-kin cared for their injured comrade, who was now unconscious due to the blood loss. A second Warp Spider lay dead among the eight losseainn, their stomach obliterated. Grief would come later, but Torindreth swore to herself that the warrior had not fallen in vain. From behind, two slender aspect warriors in blue approached, hurrying towards the overrun position to assist the wounded warrior. While they took care of them, carrying the Warp Spider back towards the webway portal, the remaining two Spiders formed up by their Exarch.

Laestarrith looked over the dead once more and took a deep breath, turning her attention to Torindreth. ‘I am in genuine surprise that you have survived this, Chieftain. But then again…’ The woman’s helmet tilted toward the chieftain. ‘To fight like this, without a helmet… Perchance, you have found your betters when it comes to the burden of recklessness. Human foolishness will never cease to amaze me.’

Torindreth chuckled yet saved her response. She focused on what was in front of them now. Another gate, this one thinner, more ornate than the blast shields, and easily opened with a single plasma grenade. 

The remaining warriors took their places left and right of the device, and with the explosion, Torindreth barely waited for smoke and dust to dissipate before she jumped through the opening, glaive in one hand and pistol in the other. As she had planned, she was now standing in the throne room of the Governor, who was indeed still sitting on his throne, albeit tense. A squad of his personal guard stood ready, and so did a single Losseainn along with a very ornately clad human. 

This Losseainn, however, was armed with a power sword and a massive shield, his head decorated with a shining golden mane of hair. He raised his sword to Torindreth in silent challenge. Surprisingly, the Governor’s guard did not open fire as the losseainn stepped forth. 

‘Her head is mine,’ he growled as the energy field of his blade rippled to life. 

Torindreth saw the challenge, her upbringing compelling her to honour it. ‘So be it then, brute. Let us see who is made of stronger steel.’ She spoke in the human tongue as she holstered her pistol, the smile underneath her helmet growing… and the distraction perfect. 

As the Losseainn fell into a mighty trot—his robes, wax and paper fetishes, and other adornments swinging—the floor vibrating with his weight, Torindreth stood in place… just long enough. He thrust at her centre, and she dodged fractionally to the left. This warrior was indeed more skilled than the one she had faced in the corridor. She watched the blade zip right past her, only to have the shield come at her from the other direction. She used it as a springboard to launch herself away, putting distance between herself and the Losseainn. With her glaive, she had the advantage in reach, after all. 

As the murderous duel commenced—all eyes locked onto the two warriors—Laestarrith’s three remaining Warp Spiders suddenly appeared beside the governor’s throne. As two of the Aspect Warriors easily shredded his personal guard, Laestarrith’s dual blades rammed through the black leather coat of the ornately clad man. A sigil, like a pillar with a skull at its centre, was torn from his chest, the pendant clattering to the marble floor. 

Only a gasp escaped the man as he stared at the two blades which had erupted from his chest. As his brain still attempted to understand what was happening, his body was already beginning to fail, blood running from the wounds in rivulets and trickling from his mouth. The air fled his lungs in gasps. His panicked gaze turned to the Governor, and as he attempted to speak, nothing but a wet gurgle came from his throat. 

Like a broken toy, Laestarrith dropped the man, her glowing red eye lenses burning with hatred like the Pit of Sha’eill itself, as she turned her attention to the Governor. There was no empathy left in her heart. No pity for the man who was drowning in his own blood right beside her as the opened wounds now poured his blood in streams that pooled underneath him.

Only now did the Governor notice the heap of flesh that once had been his guard, and so he did all he could do. He reached for his pistol. 

Yet not to fire upon these disgusting aliens, but to end his own life. He would not be taken alive. It was a plan stopped in its tracks by a string of monofilament that cut off his hand, dropping the pistol.

Laestarrith shook her head as the Governor began to scream upon realisation of his wound. ‘You will watch. Then, maybe, you can die… Oh, how I adore the mon-keigh’s squeals as its fate manifests.’ 

The Governor did not listen, instead clamping his remaining hand around the bleeding stump of his arm. Meanwhile, the duel was still ongoing. The Losseainn had noticed his comrades’ demise. The giants were a great deal of things, but not blind. He knew this battle was lost, and the alien had won this day. But both he and Torindreth were aware that only one would leave this duel alive. Truth be told, it was tempting for Torindreth to order the Aspect Warriors to intervene, but her pride would not allow such a dishonourable notion. She had to prove herself. 

Again the Losseainn swung at her, this time aiming to decapitate her. Once again, he missed, roaring his anger at her with a distorted voice, to which she replied by feigning a thrust to his midsection. He moved to intercept the glaive with his shield, and Torindreth leapt aside, swinging the glaive over her head now in her own attempt at a decapitation, which he avoided by parrying the strike with his weapon. There were no screams of anger coming from Torindreth, no grunts or growls. Instead, she began to laugh as she continued to circle the losseainn, using her superior speed to her advantage. He was getting distracted, always keeping an eye on the Aspect Warriors, expecting them to attack. 

Once more he swung at her, a blow which would have cut her in half without a doubt if she had not dropped to the floor, ramming her glaive into the back of his knee and nearly cutting off his leg, had she not jumped back to her feet in order to avoid the giant’s next strike which dug into the marble flooring where she had been just a heartbeat ago. A large splinter of stone shot up into the air, propelled with enough force to part the mesh suit of her flank and tear open a deep wound underneath. Torindreth gasped, the sudden pain too much to dismiss. It made her stagger, just for one step, yet that was enough time for the losseainn to free his blade again and strike at the Chieftain once more. Despite her mistake, he missed her again, and this time she stabbed into the elbow of his arm, twisting her blade to ensure grave injury. 

The Losseainn grunted as Torindreth leapt back. On his knees, his sword arm ruined and his hand barely holding on to his weapon, she looked at him and pulled the helmet off her head to face him. Torindreth’s copper hair was tied into a beautiful long ponytail that cascaded down her body, but her pale face showed nothing but rage and exhaustion. Her skin was glistening with sweat, loose strands of hair clinging to her face. As much as Torindreth hated the brutes, she respected their martial prowess—at least this one’s. 

The Astartes took a deep breath and dropped his shield now in order to take his sword into his other hand before rising to his feet. With such a grievous wound to his knee, he would not move fast enough to even parry a single strike. They both knew it. So they stood, facing one another. 

‘You will not ruin this world and its people, xenos.’ The Losseainn growled at her. ‘I am Watch Captain Sephas of the Deathwatch, and I will not stand by as you kill these innocents.’ As he spoke, he revealed a pair of sharp fangs.

‘If only you knew what we have come for in truth,’ she spoke with a hint of sadness in her voice.

One last time, she charged him. Sephas swung at her slower, sloppier than before, and she used her glaive to redirect his sword to the side. The man grunted in pain, and she twirled her glaive backwards before ramming it deep into the centre of his chestplate. His sword fell to the floor. She pushed on, and he fell to his knees. Sephas inhaled with rattling noise. Blood was running from the corner of his mouth now, his amber eyes staring up into hers. Hatred, frustration, pain. All were present in his gaze; as much as the respect for an honourable warrior. 

‘May death welcome you warmly, human,’ she whispered, just loud enough for him to hear, as she withdrew the glaive and decapitated him in one swift strike. His head fell to one side, the massive body to the other, revealing a red pauldron with a winged bloody tear on it. She walked through the remnants of the massacre with her gaze fixed upon the Governor. 

Torindreth stopped before his throne, just as she had done when they had first met. This time, he was squirming in pain, and she was splattered in the blood of his kind. Her head turned to the other warriors in the room, and the Exarch nodded in approval. ‘Rhinianish, Zelathi. Guard the Governor. He shall go free once we are done,’ she ordered, and the two warriors positioned themselves to either side of him. The Governor seemed to relax, if only a little bit, still gripping his stump.

‘What of me?’ Laestarrith then asked, and Torindreth flicked her wrist in response, signalling her to come along.

She turned to an armoured door now, already knowing that she would find what they had come for. However, the door was still locked, a console to the left. Torindreth wasted no time and took a small device from her belt, a housing of wraithbone with multiple inset gemstones. Once it was attached to the terminal the gems lit up, and the screen began to flare. A heavy click followed as the door unlocked and opened. Torindreth smiled to herself. Of course this primitive technology would not be a hindrance. 

Laestarrith pulled the door open, and both Aeldari slipped into the vault. Moments later, returned with a large chest locked with a fingerprint scanner. They set the chest down, and Torindreth picked up the Governor’s hand and pressed it to the scanner. As the lock clicked open, a soft colourful glow of ancient gems filled with ghostly life basked her face, and she smiled. The Chieftain then approached the Governor, and her right hand wrapped around his throat before she lifted him upright. ‘Fate is with you this day. Your people shall live.’

She did not release him. Her grip closed, and his eyes widened as she cut off his air supply. Hatred burned in her emerald eyes as she stared into his, the pupils dilating in elation. His windpipe was crushed between her fingers, and, with a moist crack, the bones of his neck finally gave in, his body slacking back into the seat. The room was silent save for Laestarrith’s cold laughter. 

After all, now he was free from the burden of ruling. And Torindreth’s rage was sated.

Like smoke in the wind the Eldar vanished, leaving the just now rallying defenders behind in utmost confusion. This could not be the end, they wondered. Could it? 

But it was.


In the Halls of Clan Yhunas on Saim-Hann, Torindreth now stood before a table. On it the open chest. The same glow as before emanated from it, and she smiled, her eyes glistening moistly. 

‘Welcome home,’ the Chieftain whispered. 

Behind her, silk and cloth shuffled. She turned her head to see a Spiritseer in his ceremonial robes. ‘It is time, Chieftain, to give peace unto these souls thought forever lost.’

About the Author

Suzanna is a 25 year-old student with a passion for writing. She was first introduced to Warhammer 40,000 ten years ago, and the hobby has remained important to her ever since.