A short story I wrote out of fluff ideas for a World Eaters Chaos Lord's brooding over his long history. It always somewhat bugged me that Chaos Marines are often described too humanlike, disregarding their ten millennia of age and corruption. Here, I took my own attempt at writing a slightly less human being, yet still clinging to the very few old memories he keeps. Extra points for those who guess a cameo of a certain fan-made character and a nod to a certain series.
The blizzard raged on, its cold fury shaking stone and brass alike. On nights like this, only the black-winged Bloodmaidens of Khorne could hope to beat the remorseless wind, seeking the dying to rip out their souls and bring them before the Throne of Skulls. The acrid fumes erupted by myriad foundries and war factories of Tongor, the Blood Fortress, were easily quelled by the storm, brought down to the earth and pushed back into the snarling maws of smokestacks and funnels. Cauldrons and boilers exploded one by one, the screams of dying slaves mixed with flames’ roaring. The survivors praised Khorne for this display of carnage, inspiring them to double their efforts. The only hall that remained silent on this night was the throne room.
Lord Anglachen inhaled the cold air, the scent of brimstone and burned flesh bringing back good memories. The daemonworld of Dis was hell in its own right, but only here, in the North, one could feel the true nature of Khorne’s inferno. Chained by ice and covered in layers of frozen blood, the walls of Tongor stood miles tall, separating the worlds of men and daemons, casting a black shadow on the whole of Dis. Below them, bodies were piled upon bodies as mortals waged an endless war to earn the grace of insatiable, murderous gods.
The North, an icy crown of the world, was bordering the lands of eternal strife that have rejected the honest and brutal ways of Khorne. The East was scourged by nuclear fire ages ago, its lifeless sands now were the home to many nomadic tribes, too resilient to perish. This was the domain of the Waychanger, radiation and mirage visions being his tools, hope and despair of survivors - his feast. The West was not so lucky. The ruins of its once-glorious cities, ravaged by toxic floods, pandemics and famine, became the playground for the Plaguemaster’s many grandsons. Their toy soldiers, the living dead, were locked in a perpetual stalemate, a mockery of eternal war, denied of anger, hate and even warrior’s deaths.
Yet, it was the South that drew Anglachen’s attention. A prosperous land of sin and envy, it served as the bottomless source of materials for Khorne’s war. Rich in food, ore and slaves, the South was always quick to barter for peace, letting Anglachen’s host eat its fill and leave the ivory, jewel-incrusted walls intact. Hidden in their palace-mazes of gold and silver, the Veiled Conclave watched the Lord of North’s every move, plotting against him and their own kin. Their bickering and jeopardy were dances on a thin ice, and a heavy step could bring forth the long-delayed decimation, a righteous genocide ending the Dark Prince’s reign once and for all. Yet for now, they played their part, resting against the pillows of velvet and human skin, caressed by tentacle-hands of their own blasphemous offspring and wandering through the drug-induced visions of glory and revenge.
Anglachen was expecting their letters, written in virginal blood (provided there were any virgins left in the South) and begging for peace and cooperation. Of course, the Veiled Conclave would address him using all the titles he earned over the millennia. Anglachen the Devourer. The Overtyrant of Dis and the Scourge of Valanos, the Houndmaster of Khorne and the Bringer of End Times. The Dogslayer. The Maw of Hell. Countless variations of "Terror", "Warlord" and "Chosen". The titles hanged heavy on his shoulders, heavier than his skull-adorned mantle, but he liked the feeling of that burden - that was one of two pleasures he was willing to accept from the southerners. The other was the joy of hearing their bones crack under his boot.
Older than Dis itself, Anglachen could barely recall the sensation of being a human. His flesh, bloated and warped on the outside, was encased into an ancient suit of Terminator armor. Towering above his legions, Anglachen dwarved even the tallest of the tall, but alone, at times he cursed this tiny mortal shell. Yet on the inside, there was little of a man or even a Marine left of him - an unholy amalgamation of an earthly being, a daemon and a machine. His maw was a furnace, exhaling fire from behind rows of metal teeth, and the rumbling of his voice was little more than the sound of an infernal contraption demanding more flesh to fuel its bowels.
Behind his back, on a banner, a great beastial maw was gnawing on a bleeding world, crowned by the eight-edged mark of Khorne. Below it, the symbols of Tzeentch and Nurgle were brutally nailed by brass rivets, chained and covered in runes declaring Khorne's right of ownership. These were trophies, not signs of equal power. Khorne was the Lord and the Master of this world, ruling through his Chosen Champion, and the Three were simply quarrelling for what remained after his feasts. Three - for the symbol of Slaanesh was soon to be hanged as a trophy next to existing two.
A parchment with writing in High Gothic adorned the lower edge of the banner. It was as old as Anglachen himself. The only part of his past to evade the fires of his fall and rebirth millennia ago.
BELLUM DARE AMAMUS!
FEREMUS INFERNUM TUIS!
Millions trembled at these ancient words long before the proud Brother-Captain Metzger Anglachen of the World Eaters followed his Primarch on the path of no return, eventually becoming the Chaos Lord, Anglachen the Devourer.
Anglachen's shadow let out a sharp cackling sound as it turned a separate being, an armored leviathan standing almost as tall as Anglachen himself. Ljotolf the Kinslayer, his bodyguard, his faithful chain dog. Anglachen savoured the memories of that fateful day, when, at the conclusion of a long and bloody battle, the Wolf Guard stared back at him, his single bloodshot eye filled with familiar thirst. It took no long speeches, no game of temptations - the chain dog wanted to serve the strongest master, and the slaughter of his brethren was a fitting proof of his Emperor being inferior to the gods of this place. His first test was finishing off his wounded kin, which he did, their blood being the first drops in the ocean he would spill in Khorne's name.
"Master", Ljotolf growled, sparing the Chaos Lord the questionable joy of reading the letters himself, "the Conclave begs for a truce. The fat boys ‘re trapped in 'eir lair as we're 'bout to finish 'em off. They send a tribute to appease the Lord o' Blood. Tens o' thousands o' slaves, an' fightin' men, an' machines. Ever 'eir prized Subjigator an' two light Titans. All o' that is pledged to our war effort."
The chain dog's sole eye was cold as ice as he ran a gauntleted hand through his black beard, stained with dried blood after the recent meal. Anglachen grinned widely.
"Slaves? We have enough cattle to sate our needs. But the warriors, the machines… Make every man and woman, every axe and bolter, every tracked or walking vehicle count. Khorne would be embarrassed by the Conclave’s skulls so let that man-harem know I intend to feed them to the hounds if they dare undermine my work!"
These words were empty for both Anglachen and the Veiled Conclave knew how it ends today. The South would be spared again, for without its rich, fat cities to prey upon, Anglachen's host would turn on itself soon enough. And Khorne could not be offended by letting his armies fall apart before pouring out of the Eye of Terror as the vanguard of a new invasion that would shake the Imperium's very foundation… and perish in a glorious bloodbath for Khorne's delight if destined to.
Something sneaked behind Anglachen's colossal greave. As the Chaos Lord lowered his gaze, he discovered an adolescent human, wearing dark rags and a dull brass collar. A slave. Here, in the North, even the slaves were a different breed to their sinful and soft southern kin - all those womanlike men, voluptuous whores and drug-addicted eunuchs. No, Anglachen's slaves had more in common with vermin infesting a carnivore's lair, sly, sneaky yet fearful of their master and eager to please him. They were always around, serving food, cleaning armor and weapons, rubbing dried blood off wood and stone.
It took Anglachen a moment to realize the slave was a girl. She smiled, baring sharp and surprisingly white teeth, and stretched her hand to reveal what she was holding - a cracked skull with a brass ring, obviously haven just fallen off the Chaos Lord's mantle. The slavegirl managed to catch it before the trophy smashed against the floor. Anglachen snarled, appeased by this. Ljotolf let out another cackle. The other day he would have no qualm crushing this little human-thing just for getting in his way, but right now he was amused just like his master.
As the slavegirl promptly fixed the skull back in place, Anglachen brooded for a moment. Nobody, not even Khorne himself could tell what thoughts boiled in his head, amidst the red mist of warmongering and dreams of future battles. Yet probably something made him obliged to say a few words, knowing they would not fall on deaf ears.
"Look at me, slave. Do I look like the False Emperor's dog? One like Ljotolf before he accepted the true gods?"
The girl looked up, expecting some cruel game. To her, the False Emperor was a distant, foreign god, challenging the mighty Lord of Battles and his three lesser brothers. Anglachen shook his head.
"Yet I was one, and I fell men by thousand in his name, and I watched cities burn, and I heard women and children wail… a music of victory, mixed with the cracking of fire and sound of our boots marching. And at the next place people were eager to welcome us, and hail the Emperor, and bless us for the murder that we wrought. They were truly happy at this, they greeted us as if we were gods, watching our blood-soaked standards stream in the air and hearing skulls clashing against each other at our banner poles. Do you know what I felt back then - and what I feel now?"
Anglachen's voice echoed through the halls as he almost shouted the last words, certainly deafening the slavegirl. She stepped back, but then nodded. Anglachen did not expect her to answer, but she did.
"Absolutely… no… difference?"
Silence reigned for a few very long moments before Lord Anglachen spoke again.
Bellum dare amamus - "We love the war"
Feremus infernum tuis - "We bring you hell"