The ruins of the Tower of Skulls were still on fire. What once stood over thirty meters high, was now at its highest burning girder approximately eight meters. The blackened iron of the tower’s skeleton melted and sizzled in acrid pools. Everything smoked and everything reeked of death.
Skulls and bodies were everywhere. Each represented either a ritual participant or a sacrificial offering. The death toll mounted in the thousands. It was a scene of death unlike anything most living being would ever see.
The air had a coppery taste and the winds began to pick up. Skulls began to roll as the breeze gusted up. Speckles of ash and blood mixed on the armours of all the Battle Brothers of Killteam Claudius, the Called.
On top of the ruins stood a large human figure in armoured robes, wielding a lightning claw with an impaled victim that kicked in its death throes. The victim was tossed into the flames and the robed figure turned and faced the killteam.
The flames lit a vicious face. Scars and arcane augmetics crisscrossed an unusual face that seemed both insane and controlled. This ‘mortal’ was the Bishop of Blood, the highest ranking priest of Khorne in the Acheros Salient. The Bishop’s trail of blood and madness spanned almost three centuries and an unknown amount of world.
The Bishop of Blood was in a furious madness. Like everything in the Tower of Skulls’ wreckage he was covered in slush, mud, blood, gore, and bits of bone. Unlike the others, the Bishop’s eyes glow and bleed freely. His disgusting and smoldering robes flapped in the torrent of debris and gore as the winds picked up among the ruins of the heretic shrine to the Blood God.
“For more than two hundred years I have levied the sacrifices and the Lord of Skulls has rewarded the Stigmartus” growled the chaos priest as his eyes began to bleed black ichor.
“For nearly one hundred years I rendered the tribute and the Pyre has allied with the Stigmartus” the Bishop yelled as his arcane claw began to glow and sizzle.
“For a day you Astartes came and brought it all to naught!” he screamed at the killteam as his chaos icons began to glow and pulse with sickly light.
“I will rebuild this tower starting with your skulls!” echoed across the ruins as red and ebony gouts of energy escaped from the madman’s body.
“Skulls for the Skull Throne!” Chi-Tan, the Bishop of Blood, roared as he began to charge the waiting Space Marines.
With that the winds began to screech and both icy slush and half frozen gore began to whip around across the burning ruins of the Tower of Skulls. The entire area began to quake and pools of blood started to splash and eventually gouted into the air. A dozen wiry red scaled monsters hit the ground running with bloody hellblades in hand.
Claudius simply blinked.
Paullian had a thought.
The last Whirlwind missile launched.
Within five seconds Killteam Claudius opened up with every weapon they had and the Bishop of Blood and his Bloodletters were left as nothing more than melting piles of gore. The primary objectives were completed and all within twenty-eight minutes.
“Thank you Brother” the elder Space Marine stated.
“There is more sir” the young, startled Space Marine responded.
“That will do, Yarika Crow-Eyed” the ancient Space Marine continued dismissively. The black gauntleted hand of the ancient began to scrawl a few lines on a scroll of tan velum. Two other Space Marines flanked Apothecary Yarika from either side of his bench.
“By your command, Keeper Azrakael” the young marine intoned as he rose. Yarika paused as he caught the gaze of his fellow Raven Guard and the Apothecary Primus. Both wore helmets, but he could feel the weight of their stares.
“With your leave Commander?” Yarika asked as he fitted his helmet.
The hooded Deathwatch marine nodded and Yarika passed him quickly. The bulkhead portal closed with a thud.
“The record ends there” the Keeper stated with a bothered tone. He reached in to his robes and laid an ancient dataslate on the stone table in front of him.
“They already know too much Master” the hooded marine growled.
“But they strive to know even more Magron. And if I am not mistaken, the Keeper wants them to do so” came a breathless voice from the shadowy corner of the room. The Space Wolf techmarine, Magnii, sat crouched with his cyber-wolf. The Space Wolf’s augmetic eyes were very similar to that of his companion.
“We will continue to follow the Muzzein’s machinations through Killteam Claudius. With each lead the Order will find proper targets” the Blood Angel, Leonides, added as he joined the Keeper at the table.
“Then we will terminate those targets… properly” huffed a helmeted Imperial Fist, known only as Ender. He too sat down at the table and looked expectantly at Sergeant Magron. Magron simply crossed his arms. The rest of Killteam Magron took their places around the table.
Magnii activated an odd device and placed on the table. With that the Keeper rose.
“For nearly ten thousand years our Order has kept the earliest of Astartes secrets. With His own hand he penned the Edict” the Keeper declared as a hololith of the ancient Edict floated over the ancient dataslate.
“May Chaos consume me if I am to allow some mutant with a rosette undo His wishes. The fact that this Muzzein of the Void drags our Brothers into this only makes the case against him that much heavier” Azrakael continued shaking his gauntleted fist.
“Like any order in service to Him, we may be asked to commit acts we find to be… difficult. But this is Heresy like any other. The Edict must be maintained” Deathwatch Keepr Azrakael finished as he stood by his place at the table. The other marines rose to their feet and brought their gauntlet across their chestplates.
“We read His word”
“We keep His secret”
“We are the Order of Eius” intoned the collected Astartes.