+ inload: Emblem +

 + Emblem: Heavy Sorrows +

[+appendnote+ – Interview begins: shipcycle 14. 

'Don't memory Fall of Andocrine, mistress.'

'No, was not then Gatebreaker, mistress.'

'Yes, was lived. Tales... uh... telled? by Gnostic...'


'No mistress, will not uh... steer? from talking about er... headspace? of Andocrine, mistress.'


'Yes, will uh... cessation naming Mistress mistress.'

'Comprehend. Heavy Sorrows. Have no Gothic tongue.'

'Role? Ah – duty! Sorrows. Hard to er... tongue? Ah... rune? No. Not rune. Emblem is better.'


'Beginning: was not then Gatebreaker, so don't memory Fall of Andocrine.'

'Heavy sorrows. Do not comprehend.'


'Yes. Don't memory, but am telled – told? Sorrows. Told in Tenets of Ten Divine Princes.'

[+appendnote+ – The subject, Emblem, patted his copy of The Tenets of the Ten Divine Princes, which sits on the table before us. It is small, but beautiful. A number of its illuminations are animated crystal-wafer.]

'Yes. Tenets are... verifiable? True. True to Gatebreakers.'


'No. Yes, comprehend. Not... er... laying? Truth. Literal truth.'


'Yes, gods.'


'Yes, from beyond the edge.'


[+appendnote+ – There is an extended pause as Emblem rifles through his copy of the tenets. His halting tongue belies his obvious intelligence; but I detect no dissembling. He is not, I suspect, trying to mislead me. After interviewing Sho, and Yeng, and the rest of the Masters of the Chapter, it is frustrating to find that the one who seems to wants to tell me the whole truth is unable to. At length, his begauntleted fingers holding two places in the book, he gestures with the other hand, open-palmed. A finely-beaded prayer chain is draped over his palm. I cannot help noticing that each bead is a tiny translucent skull. I do not think they are sculpted.]


[+appendnote+ – The first page shows one of the crys-wafers: a beautiful reproduction of a star chart that has been rendered largely symbolic by some long-forgotten Chapter illuminator's extravagant flourishes. I recognise it as the Andocrine system, though there are a number of anomalous objects.]


'Yes, from beyond the edge.'

[+appendnote+ – Apparently pleased, Emblem activates the crys wafer. A strange sigil tracks through the system; and a number of the anomalies disappear.]

'Star-rocks. Star-rock-fields. These were er... true? These were. Now not were – not are? Worlds now star-rock-fields?'

[+appendnote+ – He seems agitated, but pleased when I mention asteroids. He tries the word out several times, rolling it around as though tasting it.]

'Yes, aster-oids. Were worlds, true; then aster-oids. True. Now this.'

[+appendnote+ – I do not understand the second illumination at all, at first. Emblem waits, patiently, while I look more closely. At last, it resolves itself – somewhat, at least. It is a picture of the galaxy from outside. Far outside. I look up at him sharply.]

'The gods. From beyond the edge. Not true-god; no. 


Not god-Emperor god. Other gods.'


'No, not there outside. Er... other outside. Sorrows. Beyond?'

[+appendnote+ – When I cautiously venture that he is referring obliquely to powers of the immaterium, he bridles; clenching the prayerbeads tightly. The motion reminds me, absurdly, of a high-habber clutching at a necklace of precious pearls, and I wave my hands placatingly. He is murmuring a small catechism – in what sounds curiously like singsong, partly nonsensical High Gothic. Wondering if he is, perhaps, after all, not telling me the entire truth about his grasp of Gothic, I venture the next question in High Gothic. He looks almost endearingly bemused. I suspect his knowledge of the prayer is pure rote.]

'Not diyu. Not diyu. Never diyu.'

[+appendnote+ – Emblem is highly agitated, and clearly on the verge of leaving. I spend a few minutes calming and reassuring him, showing him my protective wards and seals of purity. Begrudgingly, he resumes his seat and tries again. His frustration at being unable to vocalise the concepts are obvious – and all the more galling because I desperately want to understand what this other outside is. His hand movements become increasingly wild, sweeping and broad.]

'The sword. This. It is Gatebreaker er... relict? But not from Gatebreaker, see? We found in the ruins. It is er... sorrows. Do not know tongue. Sign? Sigil? Bond of Uridimmu.'

[+appendnote+ He pauses, holds two fingers up to the vent of his slit-eyed mask, then makes a sharp motion, like a backwards nod. It would be nonsensical; but for Haim's cultural speed-training. She has told me it is a sort of idiomatic ward of the evil eye, when one is forced to say something distasteful or wicked. It made no sense to me before, but now I see a helmeted warrior make the motion, I understand it as an exaggerated spitting motion.] 


'No, Uridimmu is not god.'


'Outside; yes. Uridimmu moves between outside and... er... other outside. Not diyu. Rgh.'

[+appendnote+ Again, the same mock-spit.] 


'Sword is invested. Cuts well; well-balanced. Through all plate, cuts well. Brings death to the xenos.

[+appendnote+ – This last phrase is beautifully pronounced, each syllable tinkling into place like a Scholam Solar graduate. Remark – I wonder if it is a phrase Emblem has picked up from the Primaris; from Scipius, perhaps?]

'Sword-sigil found after fall of Andocrine. Left by sigil of Uridimmu. Chapter er... vaults? Strongbox? emptied; our stories gone. Sword instead. Sword-sigil left by Uridimmu-sigil. Taken up by er... winner? Champion? Gatebreaker Eremite Champion.'


'Yes, we use it brings death to the xenos. Very good. Very uh... strong? I keep it from others; other Gatebreakers.'


[+appendnote+ – At this point, he lifted the blade – the strange, flat, bludgeon-like blade that seemed half-sword, and half club. He touched the pommel to his temple. I was nonplussed by the gesture. Haim had said nothing about this, as far as I could remember, and I half-wondered whether I should consult my notes to check.]

'No, Inquisitrix; not that sort of other; just the other Gatebreakers. Not the femto-cryptocracy. Sho and the Masters insist I keep the accursed blade away from the others – for reasons I'm sure you'll find obvious.'

[+appendnote+ – I confess I blinked at his sudden fluency.]

'It's draining, but needs must, mistress. It's critical you understand the gravity of the situation; of the femtotech. We're – rgh –going to be drawn in again – he won't long ignore another thousand of us; it's destabilising. Bastard's a jealous sort; doesn't readily entertain a real challenge to his – ach. Has Master Sho – agh – consulted with you on the diaspora of the Primaris through... – agh – throughout the fl–...? Ng. Fleet. I. can't – rgck.'

[+appendnote+ – His hand, which had been trembling with increasing severity, finally dropped the blade. It fell to the floor with a disappointingly tinny clatter. His back bent, shoulders heaving, he made no immediate move to pick it up. His helm was a mask.]

'Heavy sorrows. Wait. Sorrows.'


*Laboured breathing*

'Yes. *pause* Understand... *pause* Understand... sword-sigil, understand Uridimmu-sigil. Understand outside; other outside.'


1 comment:

Ragsta said...

That. Was pretty darn creepy. I can't tell if you're making a nod to the 3rd edition Cron codex or not but the writing is very good.