Aaron Dembski-Bowden

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

The First Heretic – Extract

In the next Black Library Previews Catalogue (the one for September-December 2010), there are extracts from both The First Heretic and ‘The Core’, my Night Lords short story in Fear the Alien. The former shows the conclusion of a meeting between Lorgar and Roboute Guilliman, at a seriously key moment early in the novel. The latter shows the Covenant of Blood’s raptors being assholes, which is something they excel at.

I figure this might be of interest to some people:

(Bear in mind it’s still a draft, blah blah blah, usual jazz, blah blah blah, might change completely, blah blah fucking blah.)

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‘Guilliman,’ the primarch spoke his brother’s name with an envenomed tongue. A shrug of his shoulders pushed Argel Tal and Xaphen aside, immediately forgotten.

Emotion flooded back into Lorgar’s eyes. His gaze was locked on Guilliman, who returned it – passionless where Lorgar was inflamed.

‘Does it please you,’ the Word Bearer lord sneered, ‘to witness my shame?’

Guilliman didn’t answer, but Lorgar wouldn’t back down.

‘Does it please you?’ he pressed. ‘Do you enjoy seeing my efforts reduced to ashes while our father favours you?’

Guilliman breathed slowly, utterly unfazed. He spoke as if no question had been asked.

‘Our father entrusted me to inform you of one last matter.’

‘Then speak it and begone.’ Lorgar reached for his crozius on the ground, and dragged it up from the ash. Dust rained from its spiked head.

‘These five warriors of the Legiones Custodes,’ the Ultramarines primarch inclined his head to them. ‘They are not alone. Fifteen more remain on my flagship. Our father has ordered them to accompany you, brother.’

Argel Tal closed his eyes at this final indignity. After kneeling in the ashes of failure, after being told by the Emperor that all their achievements were worthless… Now this. Lorgar laughed, the sound ripe with derision. His face was still smeared with dust.

‘I refuse. They are not needed.’

‘Our father believes otherwise,’ Guilliman said. ‘These warriors are to be his eyes as your Legion rejoins the Great Crusade.’

‘And does our father set hounds to watch over you? Do they reside in your precious empire of Ultramar, whispering of your every move? I see the shadow of a smile on your lips. These others do not know you as I do, brother. Our sons may not see the amusement in your eyes, but I am not blind to such nuance.’

‘You have always possessed an active imagination, Lorgar. Today has proven that.’

‘My devotion is my strength.’ Lorgar clenched his perfect teeth. ‘You have no heart, and no soul.’ A snort blackened his angelic features with a disgusted twist. ‘I pray that one day, you feel as I feel. Would you smile if one of Ultramar’s worlds died in fire? Tarentus? Espandor? Calth?’

‘You should return to your fleet, brother.’ Guilliman uncrossed his arms, revealing the golden Aquila emblazoned across his chest. The eagle’s spread wings glinted with reflected sunlight. ‘You have much work to do.’

The blow came from nowhere. In its wake, the air rang with the echo of metal on metal, the clashing chime of a great cathedral bell. It was almost beautiful.

A primarch lay in the dust, surrounded by his warriors. None present had ever witnessed such a thing. Argel Tal’s bolter was raised, aimed at the ranks of Ultramarines who mirrored the gesture in kind. A hundred gun barrels levelled at a hundred thousand. The Seventh Captain needed three attempts to form words.

‘Hold your fire,’ he whispered into the general vox channel. ‘Do not fire unless fired upon.’

Lorgar rested the immense crozius mace on his golden shoulder. His grey eyes flickered with uncertain emotion as he bared his teeth at the fallen Lord of Macragge.

‘You will never mock me again, brother. Is that understood?’

Guilliman’s rise was slow, almost hesitant. The golden eagle on his breastplate was split, a valley-crack running through its body.

‘You go too far,’ a softer voice said. Malcador, First Lord of Terra, still clutched his staff. It was all that kept him standing. ‘You go too far.’

‘Be silent, worm. The next time you bleed my patience dry, I will do more than slap you aside.’

Guilliman was on his feet now. He turned an expressionless face back to his brother.

‘Is your tantrum concluded, Lorgar? I must return to the Crusade.’

‘Come, my friend,’ Kor Phaeron’s corpse-sneer was directed at Guilliman even as his words were meant for his primarch. ‘Come. We have much to discuss.’

Lorgar exhaled, and nodded once. The anger was fading, and no longer offered a shield against shame. ‘Yes. Back to the ships.’

‘All companies,’ Kor Phaeron spat across the vox, ‘return to orbit.’

‘Yes, first captain,’ Argel Tal replied with the others. ‘By your word.’

May 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 52 Comments