Inquisitor

04/06/2009 in Warhammer 40K

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I can smell it, the arid stench of Delo’s blood, dripping onto my brown jacket. It reeks of tainted putrescence, of an innocence long gone, of an unspeakable rot, and as I twist my blade free of Delo’s disfigured body, the weapon cutting its way out of his chest like a scythe out of dirt, I can smell the blood splash across my jacket. It stains the vest, burning into the seams and weaving down to the red shirt underneath, puddling up around my boots as it drips to the floor and through the wrinkles of my torn black pants. Drip-drop. Drip-drop.

Delo gazes at me unforgivingly, his dead eyes as vacant as the hall we stand in, his cold face rippled with the abborations of a bygone deity that had long since abandoned the maddened collectorate. Once, Delo had been a man, as much a human as the young girls heaped in piles at the back of the hall, the dead children whose pallid skin reeked of death as much as their murderer’s blood did now. Once, Delo had been a respected official, a servant of the Emperor and the government of Estios. Once, but that was a long time ago. A very, very long time ago. He made his decisions, he made his choices. And that is why he is dead now, an erect corpse wobbling on boney legs.

Delo topples to the floor as his legs finally give way to the most literally dead weight above them; the dead weight they had carried for however many years the lanky abomination had been wandering, cast aside by the very power he had turned to like some sort of deformed, unwanted child. His body cracks as it connects with the dusty wooden panels, blood welling in a pool around him, the gaping hole in his chest revealing a twisting labyrinth of empty veins and defunct arteries.

A shriveled heart wilts, barely visible within the hole, its pulse still. That heart had stopped beating a very long time ago, the blood in Delo’s veins long since dried out. Ever since he made his choices, ever since he grew ambitious, grew the idea, grew it much like the cold bodies at the back of the room might have once grown plants or animals or cotton, to foresake his Emperor. My Emperor.

I step over Delo’s mangled corpse, wiping clean my ornate blade on the back of my ruined jacket, boots thudding against the hollow, creaky floor. The hall is dark, dimly lit by nothing but a row of candles along the back wall. Above the bodies. The light flickers ominously, illuminating only the sharpest features of the corpses, the girls.

Though the bodies bare a myriad of faces and a myriad of names and wounds, they all share the same signs of ravaged innocence, emotional scars lingering even after death, scars as abhorrent as the physical ones. A broken arm, bone sticking out irregularly from pale skin. A blood-smeared face, eyes open wide, mouth gaping in a final scream of terror, a final scream that fell to deaf ears. All of the screams that fell to deaf ears. The twisted limbs and bodies are stacked like a pile of dead rats, dirty and naked. They are all girls, they are all young; seven, nine, thirteen, twelve. They all glow with an orange flicker. They are all dead.

I tip my tattered hat up, up so it does not shield my gaze from the obscene horrors in front of me, the perverted results of a madman left to his own devices for far too many years. My hard gaze meets the stares of the once-living, their eyes as unforgiving as Delo’s. That is, the ones that still have their eyes. Rodents and insects crawl through the mess sickly mess, feasting on a bounty of flesh and blood, ripping skin from bone, a twisted orgy of pestilence under the glow of hazel candlelight.

I could not save them. They were my people and I could not save them. I did not know of the goings-on until it was too late for five score families, five score mothers and fathers, five score innocent girls, and it is the very people entrusted to protect them who are responsible for their deaths. They were killed by a man-thing Delo. Yes, a twisted playtoy of the warp, but it was the government of Estios that had let it happen. Delo had been active for years, preying on the unsuspecting for so long that some of the bodies in the tightly-packed pile were nothing but charred skeletons draped in a veil of blood. To ignore crime is the same as to commit it, and someone would have been turning a blind eye to the murders, the kidnappings, in order for them to happen for so long unchecked. For that, every man and woman in a position of power on Estios was as much to blame for the atrocities of Delo as the madman himself. Every man and woman would answer to the Emperor.

I let myself emblazen the faces of the dead girls in my mind, allow myself to ensure I will always remember what it is I see here. The dead of my world. My children, my daughters. The dead of Estios, the victims of the mad man Delo. And then I raise my inferno pistol, long barrel slanted towards the wall of corpses. I squeeze the trigger, and a jet of flame spews from the muzzle, enveloping the nearest bodies. They catch fire, they light up in a vicious glow of sickly human remains, a mass funeral pyre. They deserve better, but I will not give it to them. Their service to the Emperor cut short, they are no more than bodies now, human waste. A heap of human waste.

The noxious fumes of the dead taint the air and race up my nose as I turn away from the fire, the stench of burning flesh. I hear the squeals of dying rats, watch the burning scavengers dart across the floor, streaking ichor and puss and juice with them, lighting up the room in a random pattern of flame and blood, streaking through in a comical light show, shrieks of pain falling on deaf ears, just as the shrieks of the women they feasted on once had filled these hollow halls.

As I walk out of the hall, I notice the body of Delo stirring, his eyes slowly rolling about in his skull. He is alive – no, alive is not the word. He is as dead as everything else in this hall of morbidity. He is possessed, is animated, but is not alive. Delo’s mouth bears open in a vicious smile; dull, rotted teeth greet me; illuminated by the fireshow behind me, his face alights in an ominous glow, mangled hair streaked across a gaunt, orange face.

A sound, of some sort, begins to come from Delo’s lips, faintly, inaudiblly. I make out a single pleading word. The voice cracks, weakly, is perforated by the gurgling of blood clotting up in Delo’s throat. I cannot make out any emotion or tone of voice; it is as if he – it – speaks from habit, not desire. It slurs the word as it speaks, blood dribbling from its mouth, spluttering onto its face. The sound comes out, a vile and directed, as though he is addressing her. The sound comes from his lips, faintly, like wind through the leaves on a calm summer’s day, but with the intensity and depravity of a blizzard. The echo of the word rings in my ears like a wretched curse: Slaanesh.

I raise my arm slowly, I point my inferno pistol at Delo’s head, I allow myself to draw satisfaction not from delivered justice but final vengeance, the knowledge that, to some level, I am about to avenge the defiled and raped, those who had unspeakable things done to them to slake the thirst of an exile, a thing so rotten and twisted not even the damnable powers that had shaped it desired to retain it. As I speak, my voice is gritty and hoarse, parched from the heat, the stench.

“In the name of the Immortal God-Emperor of Mankind, the likes of the witch, the heretic and the mutant shall be sentenced to eternal damnation. Amen.”

I pull the trigger, once, a gout of narrow fire gushing down, onto the mad man Delo, catching on his stringy hair, his hair caked with blood and filth. Screams of abject terror reach my ears as I walk past the burning thing, its pleas for a quick death, but I do not hear them. The writhing agony of Delo meets deaf ears, ears as deaf as his own whilst he heard the same pleas he now uttered from countless innocent citizens. Countless innocent children. I ignore the cackle of flames, I do not notice as Delo’s screams wane and fade as I leave the hall and stride towards the looming doors of the abandoned facility, cloak trailing blood and cinder. I push open the wooden pieces and step into the twilight of Estios, into the dusk of my land.

I can no longer hear the fire. It is behind me now, along with Delo and his victims and his despicable actions. I can only look onto the future, only look ahead at what is asked of me by the God-Emperor. His daughters on Estios are avenged, for now, but the galaxy is a big place, and there is always a heretic, always a witch… and as long as such abominations call out, I shall hear them, and I shall answer.

My name is Esper Roth, and I am an Inquisitor.

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5 responses to Inquisitor

  1. Nice one Gareth. Still scares the crap out of me though. 🙂

  2. Grimdark with a flourish only an Inquisitor can put on.  Great read!

  3. Short but sweet and very well written  😉

  4. Ooowww. Esper Roth, im hoping to see more of him, im liking the style a lot. The tone was excellent as was the description. I must admit though, at the beginning i really thought Delo was a Nurgle cultist, considering all the filth and putrid dirt and guff, so i was a bit surprised with the slaaneshi angle.

    Great read.

  5. Fangtorn, Slaanesh = excess.

    Would you believe that, uh… um… Excess of putrescence? >_>

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