Ahriman: Exile

Ahriman: Exile by John French Read Free Book Online

Book: Ahriman: Exile by John French Read Free Book Online
Authors: John French
Tags: Ciencia ficción
walked as he whispered, his feet tracing a spiralling pattern with his steps. He had already placed the lamps in the correct positions and left them burning to prepare the way. Anyone looking at them would not have realised their significance. The pattern they formed, the steps he took and the focus of his mind built a structure within the warp that would close the chamber to all observation. The ritual pulled on memories from a place inside him that he had long ago walled off, but he needed privacy.
    The air took on a dense, charged quality; the chamber swam in front of his eyes, and he could hear a sound like sand skittering over dry stone. Then with a final step and a final word the chamber snapped back into focus and silence fell.
    He nodded to himself, as if to fix the conviction in place, and turned to a sealed chest that stood in a corner. The smell of dust filled his nose as he opened the pressed metal lid. Within lay skeins of pale fabric layered over bulky objects, their shapes lost beneath the material like buildings under thick winter snow. He pulled the fabric out, and looked at what lay beneath.
    It was not much. Anyone looking at them would have thought them battered trinkets taken from a battlefield or burned temple. There was a hook-topped rod, its surface blackened and blistered, its shaft splintered; a carved scarab the size of a human hand, its polished stone chipped and worn; a fragment of polished metal in the shape of an oak leaf. Beside them lay the helmet, the faceplate looking up at Ahriman with blank eyes. It was red. A plate of tarnished bronze extended from above the eyeline to beneath the chin, forming a plough-like muzzle broken by two red crystal eyes. Two flowing lines of black lacquer extended beneath the left eye like tracks of tears. A forked bronze crest rose from the forehead. It was grimy and battered, as if it had been pulled off after battle and left to fade under a layer of dust.
    Ahriman looked down at the face of the helmet for a second, then reached in and lifted it out of the chest. He held it, staring into its dirt-clouded eyes. He had wondered many times why he kept it and the other flotsam of another life. It was a risk; there might be some who remembered the Thousand Sons, who might recognise the helm, the scarab and the broken rod. There might even be some who remembered the name Ahriman. More, it was a reminder to himself of who he had been, and what he had done.
    That, of course, was also why he kept them.
    He was an exile many times over, a betrayer and destroyer of everything that had given his existence meaning. The Thousand Sons Legion had broken the decree of the Emperor against the use of psychic powers. They had done so believing they served the Imperium that had created them, and for that transgression their home world had burned. A few had survived, plucked out of the inferno by the will of their primarch, Magnus the Red. But it had been the power of daemons that had saved them, and the world they had fled to was deep in the Eye of Terror. On that world of dust reality and the power of the warp mingled and blurred. The barrier between wish and truth had vanished. Magnus, having ascended to something beyond flesh, had called their new home the Planet of the Sorcerers. The occult powers of the Thousand Sons had flourished, but so had the mutation and corruption of their flesh.
    The Thousand Sons had begun to devolve into creatures of inhuman form, the instability of their genetic heritage given new potency by the powers of the warp. Armour had become flesh which blinked with lidless eyes. Hands and limbs dissolved into claws or boneless tentacles. Minds of refined thought and purpose became cauldrons of insanity, boiling with storms made of waking dreams. Some had seen it as a blessing, as a gift from the Great Powers which dwelt within the warp, or as a stage in their evolution towards demigodhood. Ahriman had seen the change for what it was: the slow death of

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