Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Don't worry. None of this blood is mine.

The Sabbat Worlds Anthology

The forthcoming Sabbat Worlds Anthology is kind of a big deal for me.

Dan squirms with embarrassment every time I go on about it, so I’ll cut it short here. Really though, you should’ve seen his face when I brought it up at dinner once. I thought he was going to sprout a neck-frill and spit blinding goo into my eyes like a Kentish Dilophosaurus.

In short, it’s exactly what it says on the tin: several other writers (of which I’m lucky enough to be one) are getting to do short stories set in the Sabbat Worlds Crusade. My story is called ‘Regicide’, and it’s set on Balhaut, the day after Warmaster Slaydo and Archon Nadzybar duel to the death. Macaroth has just ascended to the office of Warmaster. Yesterday, Gaunt and the Hyrkans brought down the Oligarchy Gate, and in the ruins of Balopolis…

SHE SPOKE THE words with a knife in her hand and a lie on her lips.

‘Tell me what happened, and I’ll let you live.’

Even if he had nothing else left, he still had his voice. She hadn’t taken his tongue.

‘You know what happened,’ he said.

In the knife’s reflection, he caught a glimpse of what was left of his face. The smile he couldn’t seem to shake was a mess of split lips and bloody gums.

Her face was covered by a carnival mask. Only her eyes showed through, and they didn’t look human.

She said ‘Do not struggle,’ as if she expected him to actually obey.

Do not struggle. Now there was an amusing idea.

His shins and wrists were leashed together by pulley ropes. It looked like they came from an Imperial Guard tank. Probably his tank, he realised. Either way, there’d be no breaking free in a hurry. Even with her knife in his hands, it would take an age to saw through these ropes.

His head sagged back into the mud and the dust. While his eyes ached too much to see clearly, the sky met his sore gaze with bruises of its own. Choked and grey – heaven promised a storm – but the moon yet showed through cracks in the caul of clouds.

He lay in the rubble, knowing that before this place was a ruin, it was a battlefield, and before it was a battlefield, it was a public marketplace. Apparently something of a pilgrim trap, where relics and icons of dubious validity found their way from sweating hands into bandaged ones; a desperate industry based around hope, fueled by deceit and copper coins.

He blinked sweat from his aching eyes and wondered where his weapons were.

‘Tell me,’ she came even closer, and the knife turned in the moonlight, ‘what happened on the eighteenth hour of the tenth day.’

Already the words felt like a legend. The eighteenth hour of the tenth day. She whispered it like some sacred date from antiquity, when it was only yesterday.

‘You know what happened,’ he said again.

‘Tell me,’ she repeated, feverish in her curiosity, betraying her need.

His smile cracked into something more, promoting itself to a laugh – a laugh that felt good even though it hurt like hell. The sound was made by a punctured lung, flawed by cracked ribs, and left his body through bleeding lips. But it was still a laugh.

She used her knife as she’d been using it for over an hour now: to scrawl letters of pain across his bare chest. ‘Tell me,’ she whispered, ‘what happened.’

He could smell his own blood, rich over the scent of scorched stone. He could see it, trickling falls of red painting his torso below the jagged cuts.

‘You know what happened, witch. You lost the war.’

April 9, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,


  1. You win 68 million Internets for that snippet Mr. Dembski-Bowden.

    I approve.

    Comment by Xhalax | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  2. Ooh – excellence indeed. A marvellous ‘teaser’ for the upcoming anthology. Good on you Mr. D-B.

    Comment by Tim Kenyon | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  3. I cannot wait for this anthology.

    Comment by Cameron | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  4. I was excited when I thought it would be just Mr. Abnett, now that I know you’ve got a hand in it, well, now I’m frothing at the mouth 🙂 Very nice little excerpt there.

    Comment by Phillip | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  5. I WANT MORE!!! Totally hooked now!

    Comment by Dragunov | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  6. I was already looking forward to the book, but this snippet increases said anticipation. Between this and Soulhunter I look forward to you future works

    Comment by Frieslander | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  7. Niiiiiice clip.

    BTW – I like the idea of the Kentish Dilophosauruses. “I knew their eldest. Went to Harrow. Not like those awful Suffolk Dilophosauruses. Cousins, weren’t they?”

    Just finished my SWA story. Turned out a little long. More of a novella.

    Comment by Dan Abnett | April 9, 2010 | Reply

    • YAYZ!

      *dances as merry a jig as her bruised knees can manage*

      Comment by Xhalax | April 9, 2010 | Reply

    • A Kentish Dilophosaurus sounds adorable, though our Hoosier Pterodactyls are cuter!

      Comment by John the Great | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  8. gimme gimme gimme, that cover is sweet

    Comment by cor | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  9. Im truly intrigued and interested, will try and get this once Ive read the previous Gaunts Ghost stories. However the picture makes Gaunt look… kinda evil but other than that awesome.

    Comment by Forkmaster | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  10. Gaunt doesn’t look gaunt in that picture. It saddens me.

    But the snip-it is awesome. I especially enjoyed the end.

    Comment by Lord of Insanity | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  11. Yeehaw

    Comment by Aaron Spuler | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  12. God Aaron! is that science!!!?! Stunning clip there mate, although it did make my left eye itch something awful…wtf?


    Comment by Commissar Ploss | April 9, 2010 | Reply

  13. That little excerpt is better than a triple integral that uses the half angle identities three times, Simpson’s Rule, and certain, pain-in-the-ass trigonometric identities.

    Comment by TheSGC | April 10, 2010 | Reply

  14. Rocking awesome, sir. Isn’t regicide also the 40k version of chess, does that come into it at all?

    I was hoping that Iron Star would be in this book, but the above comment from The Man Himself would suggest otherwise.

    Comment by G | April 11, 2010 | Reply

  15. That’s not science…

    That’s the beginning of myth!

    Comment by Nick Risley | April 11, 2010 | Reply

  16. Brilliant! Can’t wait for the release.

    Comment by Sam Vanroy | April 11, 2010 | Reply

  17. Cannot wait to get this book at Games Day! This snippet alone makes the wait all the more difficult, but at least I know that I’ll get hold of a copy soon. Just one question. When are we going to get hold of the next Ghosts novel?

    Comment by Shaun Higton | August 27, 2010 | Reply

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