Ahriman: Exile

Ahriman: Exile by John French Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Ahriman: Exile by John French Read Free Book Online
Authors: John French
Tags: Ciencia ficción
everything they had been and the denial of everything they had aspired to be.
    In his flame-lit chambers, Ahriman could see his Legion brothers as if they were standing in front of him. He had tried to save them. He found others that agreed that their Legion was on the brink of destruction. Together they had formed a cabal, and begun their work hidden from the eye of Magnus. Amongst the conspirators had been the most powerful psykers from a Legion of warlocks. Their end, as was always the way of the Thousand Sons, was to overthrow darkness with knowledge. Under Ahriman’s guidance they had created a cure for the mutation which was consuming the Legion. They had called it the Rubric.
    The Rubric . He ran the phrase around his mind. A monolith to hubris .
    He had believed it would work, that it would undo the change that was destroying his Legion. Instead he had simply destroyed his brothers with his own hand. Some had survived. The others had become spirit and dust bound inside their armour, little more than automata, echoes remaining to remind him of his own failure. They had become the Rubricae. Magnus had banished Ahriman and his cabal from the Planet of the Sorcerers. From that moment he was no longer a Thousand Son, no longer Ahzek Ahriman. He was nothing, a ghost living out his penance on the margins of hell.
    He had not seen any of his brothers since, though he had heard tales of sorcerers or warlords that could only be Thousand Sons. He knew of only one who might still live, and then only in the loosest sense. He might be the last, the rest fallen to battle or madness, or worse. Looking into the face of the dust-covered helm Ahriman shuddered. One day he would die, and time would finally bury his existence.
    No . He thought of the daemon speaking his name as it loomed above him. No. I am not free yet. Something remembers that I exist. Something is coming for me after all this time.
    He was not breathing. Inside his armour his skin suddenly prickled with cold. He let the helmet drop from his hand back into the chest and stood. Something was coming. The warp was millpond-still, but he knew. The certainty was like the touch of a hand on his back in the dark. Something had found him, something in the great ocean of the warp. It was coming for him. He thought of the Planet of the Sorcerers, of the light of the ninth sun spilling across his open grimoires, of the presence behind him that should not have been there. The memory formed in his mind. No, not that, he thought, and the thought iced his breath into cold mist. Frost had formed on his fingertips.
    I am fate come round at last. He started, looking round the chamber. His eyes flicked between the twisting pipes and the coiling shadows cast by the oil flames. Nothing.
    ‘Speak.’ His voice was thin, and the space seemed to swallow the word. ‘By the bindings upon this place, I command you to speak.’
    The flames seemed to flutter and dim. The sound of the ship, so like a heart, grew louder in his ears. He took a step back. He was muttering, the phrases coming to his lips from the depths of memory. All thought about the past, penitence and punishment faded. He was in the grip of an instinct more ancient than any legend or lore, the instinct of a man in a forest alone with the darkness and the sound of wolves.
    The wheel handle on the circular entrance hatch began to turn. He could hear something scratching on the metal of the hatch.
    Let me return to dust, he thought . Let me drift to the bottom and fade to nothing. Let that be my fate . But another voice, clear and cynically precise, spoke in his mind: Yet you still cling to life. Have you ever considered why?
    The wheel handle stopped turning. The hatch began to open, grating on unoiled hinges. His hands and body were still, the chained storms of aetheric energy foaming about him, waiting to be unleashed.
    ‘You are the one they call Horkos?’ The voice was female and came from a slot in a cracked mask of

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