Fallen from Grace
A heretical short story about a not-batshit insane Dark Eldar (aka normal ones) falling in love with a backwater, human farm owner.
Varia here, figuring I should give you some sort of reasoning behind the madness and heresy you find below. It all started with a simple thread involving Dark Eldar. Towards the end of said thread, a thought experiment was raised: What if, rather than the sadistic monstrosities we knew them as, the DEldar were actually beings capable of compassion? From there, a new thread would be raised by one PDF-Kun, and it would be there that the main premise of this bit of writefaggotry would come to form.
Last thought - Wiki formatting sucks, as does proofreading. If you want to pretty this up, go right ahead.
Wiping the sweat from his brow that had accumulated from a hard day’s work, Adeon stared at the heavens above the Pellietier plantation as he took his customary place under the apple tree. The light from the red giant was slowly dimming on this section of Sehella, allowing the faint twinkle of countless other stars to begin pulsing against the darkness of the void. As Adeon allowed his gaze and thoughts to wander, he begin envisioning shapes forming between the celestial objects above. Though his parents never cared to teach him anything more than what was required to run the plantation, the inquisitive mind that normally hid behind a simpleton-like drawl couldn’t help but wonder what mysteries the heavens contained.
Losing all track of time, Adeon soon found his comfortable spot growing cold, and the plantation around him turning into a myriad of shadowy stalks that waived in the light breeze. Shaking his head, he stood, dusting himself off as he began to head back to the house. Taking one last look at the stars above, he couldn’t help but notice a single star in particular. Something about it seemed off, and, the longer he stared, he realized why: it was growing. Frozen in a mixture of terror and wonder, Adeon watched as the plummeting, unknown mass streaked overhead, disappearing on the horizon with a muffled thunder. Shortly thereafter, he could feel a small rumble beneath his feet, which had the added effect of snapping him back to his senses.
Running to the rustic shed to the left of the two-story house, Adeon quickly flung open the doors to gaze at the ATV inside. Though it was nothing special, merely a civilian-variant of the Tauros, it would get him to where he needed to go. With a quick swipe of his hand over the hook where the keys hung, followed by a swift slide over the hood of the ATV, Adeon found himself taking the wheel and rocketing out of the shed. Something had fallen onto his serene Agri-World, something alien and unknown, and he was determined to find out what it was…
Searing jolts of pain throughout her entire body was the first sensation that T’riss became aware of. Each breath threatened to send her back into the haze of unconsciousness, cementing the fact that whatever had happened to her was far worse than the normal sorts of injuries she was used to getting on Commorragh. Forcing herself to remain calm, as per her training that had begun shortly after birth, T’riss began testing her limbs, as if only to assure herself that they were still attached. Neither her arms, nor legs, could do naught but twitch, with any attempts to move her torso being met with cries of distress from her shattered bones and bruised organs. Steeling herself, she opened her eyes, wanting to see her slayer before her life was fully extinguished.
Rather than a weapon held in front of her face, or a towering figure, T’riss came to stare at a wooden ceiling. The bare-bones architecture exposed the rafters, which cast shadows in the flickering light, given off by a lantern somewhere outside her field of vision. If it were possible to frown without wincing, she would have done so, resigning herself to a soft sigh instead. Wherever she was, it was safe, for the time being. Closing her eyes, she suddenly came to realize what the surface below her was: a bed. Though she had the covering of a blanket made of some crude material, she could feel that she was naked, save for what must have been wrappings and stints across her chest and ligaments. Whoever had gone to the trouble of caring for her was obviously an idiot, though, as the bindings were a hand’s width lower than they should have been.
As T’riss found her frustration growing at her current state, her ears began working once more, bringing the soft sound of drizzle against a window into her realm of awareness. Something about it was oddly soothing, and soon the silver-haired Kabalite found her mind drift away from the anguish of defeat. Regardless of her “caretaker’s” incompetence, they had at least managed to keep her alive, for which T’riss was grateful. Though, in her experience, half-born like her were only kept alive to be used as slaves, or worse. Why, then, was she here resting on a bed, rather than hanging in the hold of a ship? Try as she might, the memories of the past few days eluded her, adding to her underlying anger at being useless. Though, any proper warrior knew which battles to fight, and the one currently waged by her mind against the pull of slumber was one she could not afford.
A sharp thud and reverberation through the bed woke T’riss, which ensued by a muttered curse and clattering of tools against the floor. Her first thought was of the sheer embarrassment of being tortured by a clumsy fool, though that quickly faded as a strange language drifted into her ears: Low Gothic, the language used by the Mon-Keighs. No Eldar, dark or otherwise, would stain their tongue with the filth when among their own kind, but this brought a whole new slew of concerns to the front of her mind. Why would a mon-keigh, a human, be caring for her? Had she been captured so as to be a source of information on her people? A sacrifice to their corpse emperor? A play-thing? None of these brought comfort, least of all the later. But, much as she wished she could do otherwise, there was naught T’riss could do but listen, and wait.
Adeon found himself cursing as his big toe slammed into the bedpost, causing the medical kit to go sailing out of his hands and splaying its’ contents over the floor. Though this had been his original room, before he took over the plantation proper, he still somehow managed to be just as clumsy around it back then. As the pain subsided, Adeon began muttering to himself, “S’good thing she’s not awake. Reckon I might look a right fool right now.” After reassembling the kit’s contents into their proper container, he came to regard his patient proper. She was an odd one, but, then again, most women falling from the stars would be. His upbringing hadn’t been the most pious, but Adeon couldn’t help but wonder if this being was one of those saints his father had talked about. She was certainly striking enough to be an angel, but something about those pointed ears and angled features didn’t seem quite right to him. Regardless, she was his charge for the time being, and her bandages needed replacing.
Much to her dismay, T’riss found her covering removed, followed by the sensation of firm hands removing the bandages around her chest. This was it, she thought, the disgusting mon-keigh was going to violate her, much like they always did to those women they captured in the stories told by her parents. She wanted to cry out, offer some resistance, but the pain of her injuries only allowed her to emit a sharp gasp as the last of the bandages was removed. “Hrm… that rib a’int healin’ proper-like, wonder if I should take her to see a real doc,” the sub-eldar spoke, causing T’riss to momentarily feel a twang of frustration. “Of course it’s not healing right, you idiot, I’m not a mon-keigh. You need to set it higher,” is what she wanted to say, but couldn’t, due to a mixture of fear and pain. The human sighed, and began dabbing something wet against her side, each application of the light pressure sending a twinge of sensation up her spine. Once the wound was “clean,” new bandages were carefully wrapped around her, before the process was repeated on her arms and legs. All the while, she could do nothing but lay there, faking unconsciousness, hoping that this embarrassment would end quickly.
It took the better part of an hour to re-dress most of her wounds, by which time the rain had ceased falling. After setting the medical kit aside, Adeon strode over to the window and threw it open, bringing in a myriad of scents on the breeze. Rather than leave his charge without company, he decided to remain and keep a small vigil, in case she regained consciousness. After all, he knew how frightened he’d be to wake up in some stranger’s home, and it just wouldn’t be very gentlemanly to leave a gal like her to fret alone. Thus, he removed himself from the room for a moment, returning shortly with a chair and book from downstairs. Angling himself so as to face out the window, Adeon leaned back and began his sojourn.
T’riss debated with herself whether to chance opening her eyes, knowing that the moment the human noticed, she’d more than likely be brought to his superiors and tortured. That was what she had been told from her first breath, that these apes were savage, incapable of decency. Such was why her kin raided their supply shipments and worlds so often – why allow such a blight on the universe to continue unabated? She knew what she had to do, and could feel enough strength in her arms to know that it would be enough for the task ahead. All that was left was to catch her captor unawares, which, judging by the sudden snoring that permeated the room, would be easy.
Snapping her eyes open, gritting her teeth for the onrush of pain, T’riss turned her head about the room, coming to face Adeon in his chair. Pushing herself up slowly, she gauged the distance between the bed and her opponent. Yes, she could make it, though only if her legs cooperated. Unfortunately, both were bound in splints, leaving the only option to swing them out, hoping the momentum would allow her to rock upright. Sitting up was strain enough, she would only get one shot at this.
Adeon’s dreams of grox grazing were interrupted by the sensation of being hauled upright and leaned out of the window. Adrenaline already coursing through his veins in response, he came to, ready to fight off his attacker. But, as his eyes ceased to water and his vision blur, he realized that his assailant was none other than the woman. Yet, something was wrong, more so than the fact he was hanging-half out the window, the only thing keeping him from falling being her grasp on his shirt. Her eyes seemed to pool with liquid as the rest of her frame began to tremble. His first thought was that she had hurt herself in the exertion, but suddenly he found himself flung onto the floor, the woman dropping to the ground, weeping.
“Why?! WHY CAN’T YOU KILL HIM?” T’riss screamed at herself, as the tears cascaded down her cheeks, her face hidden behind her silvery locks. When she had grabbed Adeon, memories had come cascading down on her, overwhelming what little mental strength she had remaining. The first was of her teenage years: She was 18, leaving the slaving pens of her family on Commorragh, after her first “feeding.” She had been prepared for that moment for many a year, for it would be the means by which she would keep her eternal youth. Nothing had gone wrong, not on the surface, at least: she picked a slave that had seemed fitting, and proceeded to drink his soul after performing a myriad of techniques to make it ripe with terror. The problem was that terror now seemed to permeate her veins, leaving T’riss shivering in fear.
The images whirled, and then she was with her Kabal, receiving instructions from the Sybarite who was gracious enough to take her under his wing. Yet, she had no respect for this man, a lesson which the Sybarite chose to teach by hauling her up by her neck, choking the life out of her. As he went on and on about the values of loyalty and devotion to him, T’riss couldn’t help but recall the very first soul she had ever tasted, that same terror returning and leaving her powerless. Just as she had consigned herself to death, the hand which had been around her throat was removed, leaving her gasping for air as her “comrades” had a laugh at her expense.
Adeon stayed where he landed, trying his best to think of something to say. Try as he might, nothing came to mind, leaving him staring rather dumbly in silence at the being before him. A small part of his mind offered a suggestion, “Her problems ain’t yours. She just tried to kill you! Should be getting’ rid of her post haste like.” Yet, Adeon couldn’t bring himself to throw a defenseless gal like her out into the fields alone, with not another soul for hundreds of kilometers. So there he sat, waiting for T’riss to make the next move.
…the hatch blasted open, screams of terror and anger from the Mon’Keighs inside reaching her team’s ears. These were followed shortly by laser bursts from pathetic weaponry that did not even graze their armor, which allowed them to proceed unhindered. For a passenger ship, they were rather well armed, but maybe they were just getting smart about it. This thought amused T’riss for a moment, before she tossed it aside and proceeded before her kin. The job was simple: locate a human girl, then ransom her off to her noble-blooded father for supplies. They had done this before to great success, though it was T’riss first time being on point. After dispatching the humans in the green armor, tossing their flayed corpses aside like napkins, they had combed the ship, searching for the target.
T’riss was the first to find her, cowering behind tanks of coolant in the engine room. After coddling the ape out into the open, she quickly bound it and began dragging it towards the designated meeting spot. As they passed by the airlocks to the escape pods, T’riss’ prisoner began writhing against her bonds, eyes frantically darting about in a desperate attempt to escape. After staring at the target’s eyes, the terror within them caused something in T’riss to break, and she found herself letting go of the lead to her subject, who promptly dove into the nearest pod and departed. Standing dumbfounded by her own actions, T’riss turned to find herself face to face with her Sybarite, who had witnessed the entire affair.
What followed was a haze of pain, blurred motions, and the sound of explosions. The memories finally stopped, and T’riss was able to regain a semblance of self. Weak. She was weak. She allowed “morals” and “compassion” to stay her hand, and now she was worse than an outcast. For all intents and purposes, she would be assumed dead, but the shame of her acts would follow her to the grave, even if it was a shallow one. Wiping her face of the accumulated tears, she became aware of an outstretched hand – the human’s, “S’alright now. I ain’t mad. Let’s get ya back up into bed.” T’riss turned, eyeing his face for any signs of deception, finding none. It was then that her body decided to revolt against consciousness, sending her reeling into the darkness of a pain-induced slumber. Her last act, before giving into the void, was to reach out her hand, weakly.
T’riss found herself staring out of the window, the curtains blowing ever so slightly in the cool breeze. It had been two weeks since her…death. In the time since, she had only spoken enough to communicate how to properly bind her injuries, much to the dismay of her caretaker. But what he felt hardly concerned T’riss, given that she hardly understood herself. By the end of the first week, she had healed enough to no longer need Adeon’s assistance in changing the bandages and visiting the restroom, and he quickly gave her the space she seemed to silently cry out for. Occasionally, he would stop in to bring her food, or shout up to her window from outside. For the most part, however, T’riss was left alone, mentally tearing herself to pieces, the only betrayal of which was a small frown on her face.
Luckily for Adeon, his guest’s arrival coincided with the end of the harvest season, heading into the colder months. This left him with very little to do to maintain the plantation, and just as well, given that he only had a few servitors to rely on, other than himself. That was how it was done though, ever since he lost his entire family ten years ago, thusly leaving him the sole inheritor of the generational estate. He managed, somehow, mostly through the sweat on his brow and the sun on his back. The one thing all the manual labor did for him was allow time to think, and Adeon did not waste a second of it.
On the second weekend, Adeon went on a trip to the nearby outpost, some 250 kilometers away. There, he did his best to find out what little there was to know about the mysterious woman in his care. Much to be expected, only one other person had even noticed the escape pod coming down, and that was his neighbor, who assumed it was simply a meteorite. No ships had been in the area recently, leaving Adeon wondering how long T’riss might have been drifting through the void. He wasn’t exactly the most knowledgeable when it came to anything that wasn’t his plantation, but he knew enough to guess that it might have been weeks. No human he knew of could survive with those injuries for so long, and it didn’t seem wise to tell anyone else such. “Maybe she’s a right saint after all,” he thought to himself, “and if that’s the case, I’d be doin’ the Emperor a mighty disservice to let an angel frown like that.”
Returning to the plantation, Adeon was slightly surprised to find T’riss hadn’t moved an inch. He had half-expected her to run away, given the look of guilt that she’d given him when he told her about his departure. That evening, rather than departing immediately after bringing her dinner, he remained with her, taking up the chair by the window with his book in hand. Opening it to somewhere in middle, he began telling T’riss a story, one of a man with two souls, each fighting for control of his body.
At first, T’riss barely registered the fact that the mon’keigh was reading to her, lost in another spiral argument with herself over how pathetic she was as she picked at the meal in front of her. Something about Mr. Nyde caught her interest, though, and she soon found herself listening with rapt attention as Adeon carried on. However, something bothered her, and she couldn’t figure out what it was until she noticed that the human hadn’t changed the page he was on for some time. In fact, as she stared closer, it might have been the same page he started on. Yet, there he was, staring down at the page, reading off text that could not possibly be contained on those two pages.
“H…How are you doing that?” she whispered, surprising herself just as much as she did Adeon, the latter of which nearly jumped out of his chair. Turning to face her with a smile, “Ah, ya mean readin’?” She nodded, staring into his eyes with an unwavering gaze. “To tell ya the honest truth, I can’t actually read. I just have a real good memory, and I sorta remember stories better when I hold their books.” This was met with silence, which began to stretch into awkwardness before T’riss put out her right hand, motioning for the book. Looking between her and the book, Adeon gingerly placed it on her palm, of which she slowly drew back to regard the title proper. It was then she again did something neither of them expected: she laughed.
“It’s Mr. HYDE, not Nyde. You really weren’t kidding, were you?” she giggled, for some reason finding it simply hysterical. At first, Adeon’s mouth opened to retort, but then he joined in with her laughter, “No ma’am, couldn’t even tell ya if it was even the right book till ya checked.” Rolling her eyes, she began leafing through the pages, trying to find where he had left off, “You also got Hyde and Jekyll reversed, maybe your memory’s not that great after all.” This actually did produce a frown from Adeon this time, and something about it made T’riss’ stomach fill with dread. Sighing, she quickly closed the book and motioned to give it back, “Sorry.” “S’alright, suppose you being a saint and all, I must look mighty dumb to you.”
This gave her a moment’s pause – a saint? He thought she was some part of their misguided corpse god’s court? Well, if that’s what was keeping her alive, far be it from her to correct him, “Only slightly, but you show promise, mon’keigh.” “Mon’keigh?” “It’s a word we saints use to describe you common folk.” “Ah, I see. Makes sense, bet you have names for lotsa things and people like that.” As they stared at one another in the following silence, Adeon found himself shaking his head and standing, making to leave hurriedly, “Sorry if I bothered you, ma’am.” Just before he closed the door behind him, she found herself calling out after him, “Um… could you leave the book?”
My. Hyde turned out to be a far more intriguing mon’keigh than T’riss had expected. Though the story was crude, filled with childish notions native to the humans, it couldn’t be said that all were without merit. After all, there were definitely two forces waging a war within her, much like with the dear doctor. Though the roles were reversed, in her instance, T’riss found herself devouring the text as if to find a means to come to peace with herself. She had always been a quick study, and soon found that she was turning the last page of Dr. Jekyll’s letter. The abrupt ending left her staring down at the page with a strange sense of calm. She knew now what she had to do, but it didn’t make actually doing it any easier. Following his embarrassment with the saint, Adeon had difficulty relaxing and falling asleep. Each time he would get close to slipping into the void, T’riss laugh would echo throughout his mind, causing him to jolt upright in a cold sweat. All he could think about was how much of a fool he must look like to her, and it was deep in the evening when he finally drifted off. His dreams were swirls of silver-haired goddesses, dancing about his head and chastising him for his sins.
Needless to say, this left Adeon rather tired when he eventually awoke in the morning. Stifling a yawn, he proceed through his normal daily routine: shower, shave, then breakfast, all before checking on the servitors and grox. It wasn’t until he was half-way through scrambling eggs that he came to realize that T’riss was slouched over his dining table. Turning slowly, as if not believing his weary eyes, he came to regard her proper. Strewn about her were various bits of paper, with many symbols and glyphs that didn’t seem quite right to Adeon. “Maybe they were High Gothic,” he thought, “would fit a gal like her.” Shrugging, he deftly finished preparing his meal, and was just about to walk out of the kitchen with his meal when T’riss spoke. “No…come…sit down. Sorry I…drifted off…”
Turning around once more, Adeon watched as she slowly pushed herself upright. After rubbing her eyes a few times, T’riss nimbly gathered up all of her scribblings, save one. Leaving that particular parchment on the table in front of her, she calmly picked it up and crumbled it between her clasped hands. After placing these on the table before her, she stared expectantly at Adeon. He might have been a simple man, but he wasn’t about to pass up the chance to eat at the same table as one so beautiful. The chair made a small scrapping sound as he pulled it back, taking his seat with as much dignity and grace as he could muster. It wasn’t until the fork was half-way to his mouth that he realized that he hadn’t even bothered to ask if she wanted anything. Almost dropping the utensil, Adeon quickly stammered, “Oh..I er… Sorry your grace! I shoulda asked if ya wanted me t’make ya something!”
Rather than the rebuke he was expecting, Adeon received a smile in return. “It’s…okay. Go on eat,” T’riss said, waving a hand as if to dismiss his notion. Still feeling rather ashamed of himself, Adeon could do little but bring himself to pick at his food in the ensuing silence. What did one say to a saint? Were you even supposed to speak to them? His thoughts swirled about, only interrupted when T’riss’ sweet warble met his ears once more. “…I hope you have some free time later. I’d like to teach you how to read…” As the words left her mouth, T’riss grasp on the paper beneath her hands tightened. Scrunched up inside was written, in Eldar glyphs, “I bring the life of that unhappy T’riss Treewae to an end.”
Utter terror gripped T’riss as she stumbled, tumbling through the darkness. All around her, the sinister laughter of a being beyond mortal comprehension permeated the void, and her soul. “Teach your little pet whatever tricks you like. You’ll be mine soon enough…”
Adeon was woken by a bloodcurdling scream, causing him to jolt upright and nearly charge into T’riss room. On arrival, he came to find her writhing about, clutching her skull and coated in a layer of cold sweat. Wasting no time, he practically dove to her bedside, shouting as he did, “Ma’am! T’riss!” The later left his mouth almost as an afterthought, even though she had made it perfectly clear weeks ago that it was how she preferred to be addressed. Regardless, it would be this that finally caused her eyes to snap open. Finally aware of her surroundings, T’riss slowly ceased her spasms and screams, coming to rest on her side. Her field of vision was consumed by the face of Adeon, his brows furrowed and his eyes darting across her face. All she could do to respond was to cry, while holding her trembling body.
Of no surprise, T’riss was absent from breakfast that morning, leaving Adeon to dine by himself in silence. It was the third such night-terror she’d experienced in the four months since her arrival, and each one was becoming worse and worse. T’riss might have thought she was doing a good job of hiding the strain on her face in the days that followed them, but Adeon knew something was amiss. Whatever caused a saint like her to scream like that couldn’t be something he could help with, though, leaving him with a sinking feeling of helplessness. He almost didn’t realize that he’d brought the same piece of grox bacon to his mouth three times. Taking note of this, Adeon scowled, tossing the food onto the plate and standing. After bundling up, he stormed outside into the snow, door slamming behind him.
The sharp thud sent a pang of guilt across T’riss’ heart, which was further amplified when she caught sight of the primate striding through the drifts below. She hadn’t slept since the nightmare, only faking sleep so as to allow Adeon to get some of his own. “The mon’keigh practically worships you,” she half-mused, still leaning against the windowsill, “yet here you are actually caring about his foolish reactions.” It was true that, ever since she had started teaching him to read and write his own primitive language, his behavior had begun changing. An added spring in his step, a constant stupid grin, all because she simply graced him with the time of day. It wasn’t anywhere near the same as training new kablites, but it still brought her a certain sense of…satisfaction to see her pupil progress.
Sighing, T’riss pushed this train of thought away, eyes straying from the snow-covered plains outside to the nightstand where her crumpled note resided. She hadn’t moved it since making it months ago, choosing to keep it around as a constant reminder of her situation. Outcast, betrayer, probably assumed dead at her former-Sybarite’s sword. All because of her weakness: she had a heart. It went against everything she had been told since being removed from her tube. Dark Eldar did not need compassion, let alone anything resembling morals. They simply got in the way of doing what was necessary to survive, to avoid the pull of the being that had been haunting her sleep as of late.
It had been close to eight months since her last feeding - the longest gap since her first, seven years ago. Though it was never easy for her to do what was required for her meals, she always found a way to stomach the dread that usually followed for weeks afterwards. Now that she was in a place where obtaining such substance was impossible, T’riss found herself questioning the entire concept as the now-familiar, constant discomfort panged from behind her temples. Did her people really need to go to such lengths to resist eternal damnation? She certainly never had any problems before her first feeding, and it always did seem that the older of her kin needed near-daily intake. This line of thought confused and worried T’riss. She had heard tales of how horrible and ruthless species like the mon’keighs were, and that her kind simply did what it had to to survive. Given her time on this planet, though, she couldn’t help but wonder, “What if *we* are the cruel ones?”
The pungent smell of grox dung assaulted Adeon’s nose as he entered their stables to check on his stock. There was little else to do in the winter months but clean the stables, and even then the servitors handled the majority of the work. Mainly, his days as of late simply involved making sure things were running as they should, and that none of the grox had keeled over during the night. Only once a week did he actually have to exert himself to scour that which the servitors missed, and sadly today was not one of them. This left Adeon with naught else to do but begin walking back to the house, a fresh coat of snow beginning to pile up as the overcast skies unleashed their burdens.
“Maybe I should tell someone about her,” Adeon grumbled to himself, not finding this idea to his liking. “After all, a saint like her don’t belong in a place like this, with a simple man like me. I’m just makin’ her miserable.” It was true, T’riss rarely did communicate her feelings, outside of the evening episodes. Even during his lessons, just getting a small smirk from her would often be reward enough to get him to push himself harder. He didn’t mind, of course, since he had no right being even able to look at such a being of grace and beauty. Still, Adeon just wished he could do more than struggle through the collective works of Shakespeare. It wasn’t until he stumbled and fell into a particularly deep snow drift that an idea suddenly came to mind.
“You’re going to have to tell him, and soon too. Else the mon’keigh is just going to be resentful of you even longer. Except, the moment you reveal *what* you are, you know full well what he might do. Are you really prepared to deal with that?” T’riss’ inner monologue was interrupted then by a snowball impacting the window. Blinking with confusion, almost wondering if she had imagined it, another scattered across the glass pane before she was able to discern the source. Down below, Adeon was beckoning, as if for her to join him outside. She returned these motions by tilting her head to the right, which seemed to be enough for him.
As Adeon wandered off to the nearby apple tree, T’riss sighed, pushing away from her spot near the window and looking about her room. Adeon had brought her a trunk of clothing to use back when she was still healing, of which now rested at the foot of her bed. Most of it fit surprisingly well, given a few modifications to the inseam. Even so, she had never been outside the house since her arrival. Her host had told her that the nearest human was some 140 kilometers away, but that did little to overcome her fear of being killed for being what the mon’keighs called “a xenos.” Plus, the sunlight was rather harsh on her pale skin, even indoors. Still, as she slowly rummaged through the trunk, it couldn't hurt to see what Adeon wanted. It was better than staying here, confused and alone, even if he did try her patience at times.
It wasn't until the wet powder began sliding down his neckline that Adeon realized that T’riss had joined him. Turning, ready with a snowball of his own, he looked about, finding no trace of her. As he raised an eyebrow, another projectile hit him square in the face, catching him off-guard and knocking him onto his back. Before he even had the chance to get up, T’riss was standing over him, offering out a gloved hand and a smile.
Time seemed to freeze as the pair stared at one another, the snowfall whirling about them silently. Anyone looking at the scene would first only notice Adeon, in his brown furs, lying on his back. Only when staring very carefully would anyone even be able to notice T’riss. Between her white furs, pale skin, silver hair, and the powder blowing about, she blended in like a natural arctic predator. The moment passed as Adeon took the outstretched hand, T’riss pulling him upright and brushing him off. “Sorry,” she said, “but you are dealing with a warrior here. You have to be more aware if you challenge her to a duel.” Following this up with a wink, she stepped back, motioning at the area around them before clasping her hands behind her back. “So, what did you really want?”
“Well..I uh…” Adeon began to say, falling over his words, “you look…nice ma’am. I mean T’riss.” The returned head tilt and raised eyebrow sent his eyes casting about frantically. He hadn’t actually expected her to join him outside, as she seemed content to remain inside, reading. Yet, here she was, and he was without any sort of plan. Well, that was a half-truth. He did have one, but it was rather childish. “I…thought you might be likin’ to help me build a snowmarine.” The eyebrow exaggerated, her eyes narrowing slightly, “A…snow…what?” “Ya know, a Snowmarine! Here, help me roll this.”
Dropping to one knee, Adeon quickly began the makings of the base portion. Rolling the growing snowball through a particularly deep pocket of the powder, T’riss remained as she was while Adeon exerted himself. By the time it was big enough to reach his knees, Adeon was unable to roll it any further, taking no time to begin the middle section. “Come on now, ain’t as fun doin’ it alone. We’re gunna need ‘nother one about half the size of that one.” T’riss rolled her eyes, *this* was what he had called her out for? To pointlessly roll ice crystals into bigger clumps? Still, the earlier door slam was still fresh in her mind, and soon she found herself working alongside Adeon.
The end result certainly wasn’t going to be entered into the art archives of Commorragh, but it did have a certain appeal to T’riss. As she stood back, watching Adeon add the finer details using twigs and bits of rock, she couldn’t help but beam. Here was a tangible monument to her efforts to be better than her old self. None of her kin would dare stand such a pointless exertion, let alone with a mon’keigh. Plus, it felt good to take direction for once, even though doing so annoyed her slightly on some subconscious level.
In any case, Adeon finished by drawing the Aquila in the middle portion of the sculpture, stepping back to admire their work himself. “Mighty fine, if I don’t say so myself. He’s got a bit of a gout though.” He laughed, and soon T’riss found herself joining in, “Yes, he does look rather… shapely, doesn’t he?” The two turned to look at each other, their eyes locking for only a moment. T’riss was the first to break the stare, turning away to face the house. “Thanks. For…cheering me up.” She left him standing near the apple tree without another word, both grinning from ear to ear.
In the days that followed, the snowmarine soon found himself surrounded by his chapter. At first, T’riss snuck out while Adeon was on his morning rounds, but this was quickly thwarted. After walking out of view from her window on the third day, he doubled back to hide behind the apple tree. Sure enough, not moments later T’riss came bounding outside with a speed that defied logic. Just as she leaned down to begin assembling another snowmarine, Adeon coughed, causing her to leap into the air with a yelp. Landing in a combat stance, eyes frantically looking about for the source, it was Adeon’s turn to laugh as he poked his head out from behind the tree. Scarlet infused T’riss’ face as she glanced awkwardly between him and the ground. Before she knew it, Adeon was nearby, delaying his rounds to help her roll up more snow.
Something about the mindless task put T’riss’ mind at ease, and the physical exertion certainly helped to augment her daily exercises. As she put the final touches on one particularly fierce-looking Astartes, she paused. Why was she making mon’keigh sculptures? It seemed rather foolish now that the thought had occurred to her, and she deftly knocked her work down to begin anew. “Uh… you alright there, T’riss?” Adeon called, looking over with a mixture of worry and confusion. To his surprise, her limbs became a blur of movement, and before her came to stand a rather slim individual. Moments later, T’riss added pointed ears. Standing back, she nodded approvingly at her snoweldar, then wandered back inside, humming. Adeon ended up being distracted for the rest of the day, the sound of her song mixing with the image of her “snowsaint” in his mind’s eye.
That evening, after dinner, T’riss found herself being led to the living room window by an insistent Adeon. Pointing towards the Snow Chapter, he motioned at a new addition: a smaller, normal-sized human standing next to her snoweldar. Rather than wait for her response, Adeon left T’riss by the window, rummaging through the cabinet on the opposite side of the fireplace. She took little note of this, a sort of pain building up in her chest as she gazed at the pair of sculptures. She had to tell him, tonight, before it would be too late and she began believing her own lie.
As she opened her mouth to speak, a strange sound began to permeate the air. Spinning on her heels, trying to locate the source, T’riss’ eyes came to rest on an odd device. The needle arm was scratching against a rotating disc, producing what must have passed for human music. Though she didn’t understand what chestnuts were, or why they were roasting on a fire, it was mildly soothing. Adeon was nowhere to be seen, but she took the blanket on the couch and the crackling fire for what it was. Minutes passed, the sizzles and pops of the flames adding to the occasional ones omitted by the record player. All the while, T’riss huddled beneath the blanket, the warmth rather welcome. Weariness began to press against the edges of her eyes, and she probably would have fallen asleep right there if Adeon hadn’t returned right then.
Taking a seat on the couch on the opposite side of T’riss, Adeon offered out a mug of a brownish liquid. “Hot Coco, just like Ma’ used to make.” A sip later, and T’riss found herself enamored with the sweet concoction. “I…this is good, for a mon’keigh,” she whispered between tastes, which was met by a laugh from Adeon. “I’m mighty glad you think so ma’am. I mean T’riss. Sorry. I don’t reckon I’ll ever get that right, your saintliness.” “It’s fine, really. I just wanted you to actually use my name, rather than some title or honorific. I’m…nothing special.”
It was Adeon’s turn to raise an eyebrow and tilt his head, as T’riss stared down at her mug glumly. “But, ya are! Really! Even if you’re a saint, only my Ma’ and Pa’ were as nice to me as you are.” T’riss face was ruined by a grimace, one which was met with a frown on Adeon’s as she replied. “What…What if I wasn’t a saint?” Silence, followed by a simple, “But, if ya aren’t a saint, then what are ya?” Tears began to well at the corners of T’riss’ eyes. This was it, the end of her peaceful stay on this idyllic world. But it had to be done. She couldn’t let the guilt of the lie burden her further, on top of the added symptoms brought by her lack of feeding. “Do you know what…an Eldar is?”
“Can’t say I do.” “Well…” she bit her lips, steeling herself, “…they’re what you mon’keighs call xenos.” Adeon sputtered, nearly choking on the coca as he came to stare at her with wide eyes. She didn’t strike him as one of those bogeywomen that came to steal children away at night, like in his mother’s stories. His silence, though not intentional, caused T’riss to begin to cry profusely. “I’m…Please don’t be mad with me. I wanted to tell you earlier…but then you were so nice to me and I didn’t want you to hate me after all you did…” Tears cascaded down her face, the pain in her chest overwhelming that in her head. Why did she had to have a heart? Why couldn’t she just be a heartless monster like the rest of her race?
A pat on the head interrupted her sobs. Eyes widened in fear and surprise, T’riss came to regard him smiling back. “S’all right. Easy now. I don’t mind much what ya are, so long as you’re T’riss.” Words, if you could call them that, sputtered out of her mouth as she tried to reply, but failed as her tear ducts kicked into overdrive. Adeon simply took a few sips of his cocoa and waited, knowing that what she needed now was time, not his badgering. That was when he found T’riss suddenly beside him proper, crying into his chest. Doing his best to offer comforting words, he readjusted the blanket about them and stared into the fire. Monsters certainly didn’t cry, and, as far as he cared, it didn’t matter even if she was one.
The Pellietier Plantation was rather quiet in the days that followed. The only soul that stirred among the desolate plains of white was Adeon, preparing for the rush of activity that would start in a month’s time. He didn’t need to start this early, but it was better than the alternative of waiting for T’riss to come out of her room. After she had fallen asleep on his lap, the night where she confessed being a Xenos, Adeon had carried her to her bed. Since then, she only had come out to use the restroom and to quickly snatch up the food he left her around mealtimes. Adeon did tell her he would be downstairs whenever she was ready through the door when picking up the dishes, but he never got a response.
“Just take him already…Why you insist on rebelling against your blood is beyond logic. Give in…” T’riss awoke with a gasp, clutching her head as the laughter from that terrible being faded from her mind. Each night since she had revealed herself to Adeon, the pain in her head had grown worse, and it was beginning to permeate the rest of her body. Everything ached, as if she had been recently disciplined back on Commorragh. Though her self-control was easily able to handle these two sources of annoyance, it couldn’t deal with the dull pain that seemed to cling to her heart. A small part of T’riss wondered, “Was this really better than being dead?” If it hadn’t been for the smile that crept across her face when she looked out the window at the snow sculptures, she might have listened to it.
Although she couldn’t bring herself to face Adeon yet, that didn’t stop T’riss from continuing her daily exercises. Her injuries had healed completely by now, but she found her left side responding far slower than she was used to. Focusing her efforts on correcting this problem, T’riss became completely engrossed in her stretches and mock swings. As she flowed through one of the more complex forms, the remnants of her armor in the closet began to stir to life. Adeon had showed T’riss them when she had asked, but they had been otherwise ignored – thought to be broken relics. That was true, for the most part; yet, soon after awakening, a slow, steady beep began to emanate from the folds of the dark material.
“Defenses?” The projection of Sehella whirled as the Sybarite found himself pacing around it. “None that we can sense,” came the reply from one of his kabalites, “The primitive apes seem to only have one space port on the world. Population is minimal.” Nodding, he pointed at the pulsing red dot on one of the upper continents, “And what about the area where that traitor’s equipment landed?” “It appears to be what the Mon’Keighs call a ‘farm,’ your grace. No armaments or fortification to speak of.” Smirking, the Sybarite nodded and waved a hand to signal the termination of the projection. Reclaiming his equipment would be far easier than he had hoped. As he left the bridge, moving towards the slave pens to feast, he found himself secretly hoping that enough of T’riss had survived to mount on his wall.
The first indication that something was amiss was the faint smell of ash that wafted through the small crack of the window. T’riss paused, looking up from the novel she had secretly snuck out and obtained the night prior. The fire downstairs hadn’t been lit since that night, yet there was no mistaking the odor. Swinging her legs off the bed, coming to stand upright, T’riss wandered over to the window and stared out. The Grox pens were ablaze, a few servitors desperately trying to put it out while a few beasts, engulfed in flame, ran from it. Worried for Adeon, given that she had seen him walk that way not an hour beforehand, she found herself bundling up and sprinting outside without a second thought.
T’riss barely managed to get past the apple tree when she found herself diving beneath a blade. Instinct from all her training kicked in, turning the dive into a rolling somersault to bring her face to face with her assailant. Her heart panged with fury as she recognized the lilthe form of one of her former comrades. How had they tracked her here? Had they gotten their hands on Adeon? There was little time for such thinking, as the kabalites soon began a deadly dance through the snow. Using the snowmarines for cover, T’riss was able to evade the blows unarmed for the time being, but she was running out of options.
As the last members of the Snow Astartes found their heads cleaved by blows meant for her, T’riss found her back against the apple tree. She’d get one chance at disarming her opponent, assuming the Eldar inside the black, barbed bodysuit would fall for her trick. The wicked edge of the impaler gleamed as it was thrust forward, but T’riss was ready. Mere nanoseconds before impact, she twisted, allowing the weapon to move past her and embed itself into the wood of the tree. Not giving the kabalite the chance to recover, T’riss unleashed a rain of carefully timed blows. Overwhelmed, her would-be-assassin was forced to go on the defensive. After one particular nasty kick to the side of his head, T’riss had enough time to pry the impaler free. As the bark released its’ grip on the metal, splinters flying, she found herself laughing: she had finally found something to feed on.
“WHERE. IS. MY. ARMOR. MON’KEIGH?!” Adeon found himself whirling through the air, thrown against the wall of the Grox Pen. The bastard had snuck up on him while he was cleaning out one of the troughs, and was now taking great delight in beating Adeon senseless. Coughing up blood, Adeon slowly picked himself up, glaring at the Sybarite in front of him. Now *this* was what he had expected Xenos to be like, but that thought didn’t help at all when the agonizer gauntlet found its’ way around his neck. Pain began to rocket throughout his nervous system, and his consciousness faded as the glove began to tighten. His last thought before the void took him was of T’riss crying, and how sorry he was that it was all his fault.
The human’s body went limp, and the Sybarite tossed it aside with scorn. He hadn’t killed the ape, but that was the least of his concerns. Not mere seconds after doing so, the remnants of the door were sent flying into the pen. In their place stood T’riss, face twisted in fury as she came to regard the scene. Various nicks and cuts adorned her entire body, as did blood that was not her own. It had taken her too long, she thought, and now Adeon was dead. All because she was weak. All because she couldn’t even protect the one thing that gave her a reason to exist. At least now she could make sure the job she had started five months ago would be finished, one way or the other.
Unleashing a primal roar, T’riss closed the gap between herself and the Sybarite. The latter of which was barely able to bring up his own impaler in time to knock aside the blow. Even now, in her weakened state, he couldn’t believe that she was still as much as equal. But such thoughts were unnecessary, and soon the two found themselves waltzing through the pens. As they strayed into one of the burning sections, the clashing metal began to send sparks through the acrid smoke, adding to the flame around them. Regardless of the impairing conditions, neither combatant could afford to divert their attention any further.
Yet, T’riss finally found her wounds catching up to her, what little strength she had fading away as she barely parried a particularly nasty blow aimed at her kneecaps. Soon after, her acquired weapon was battered from her hands, the Sybarite driving her against the wall while laughing. “Even though you managed to survive our last encounter, I must give you credit, traitor. I haven’t had the pleasure of such a battle in a long time, but that is not enough to spare your transgressions.” T’riss glared back, the only form of attack left for her as she steeled herself for the inevitable blow. Just as the impaler was raised above his head, three prongs of a pitchfork emerged from the Sybarite’s chest, causing him to cough up blood before falling to the ground before her. Tears began to well in her eyes as Adeon stood before her, smiling. “Does this count as bein’ more aware?”
He would pay for that, later. For now, though, all T’riss could do was bound forward and tackle him to the ground, hugging him tight and apologizing over and over.
“-chii not –che. And you want to stress the second syllable more.” Adeon sighed, rubbing his temples as T’riss corrected him for what seemed to be the hundredth time that day. She had taken to teaching him some of the Eldar language to pass the time, of which they seemed to have plenty of. This latest word was giving him particular difficulty for some reason, but he was determined to not to disappoint. “Dru…Druchii?” he sounded out, eliciting a smile from T’riss. “So, what’sit mean then?” Pointing at herself, “It’s what I am, a ‘Dark One.’ You’ll probably hear it quite often if we ever meet more of my kind.”
With the arrival of T’riss’ now-slain former-associates, the pair gained a means to leave Sehella behind. Though the Pain Weaver was little more than a glorified shuttle when it came to Corsairs, it was enough to get them to a nearby mercenary outpost. Though, given the vastness of space, Adeon soon came to realize that the term “nearby” was all but relative. It was now the second week of their journey, and already he regretted not bringing more to do.
He had, at first, been rather reluctant to leave his home behind. Given the damage to his stables, and the blatantly obvious Xenos dead on his property, there wasn’t much choice in the matter. Wanting to follow T’riss certainly helped sway him, but he insisted on at least taking a few items with them. After releasing the slaves from their hold, the pair filled the makeshift cargo-bay with trunks of supplies. The slaves had, of course, offered to aid them after being released onto the snowy plains, but Adeon would have none of it. Instead, he took the last few moments before departing to show them a few tricks about running the farm. With any luck, they’d avoid detection so long as they filled the Pellietier portion of the tithe. It wasn’t true freedom, but it was better than being doomed to endless torture and slaughter.
“-eon? Adeon? Are you alright?” Snapping out of his reflection, Adeon came to realize he had been staring rather blankly at T’riss for what must have been, at the very least, a few minutes. “Yeah…I’m fine. Just still a bit…overwhelmed, s’all.” She smiled once more, this time supplementing it with a quick squeeze of his shoulder. “You’ll get used to it. I know the first time I left Commorragh it wasn’t easy, even though I wanted to get away ever since I was little…” Trailing off, T’riss frowned slightly, swiveling in her chair to stare out at the stars. It was true, speaking of such matters was easier now that Adeon knew what she was, but reliving those memories wasn’t at all pleasant.
The respectful silence from Adeon soon motivated her to speak. He had a knack for it, she mused, as she began, “Imagine…Imagine being trained from birth to be little more than a puppet for others. You’re told that you represent the continuing struggle of your race to survive, only to be beaten moments later for asking a simple question.” “Right awful, that.” Adeon grumbled, T’riss nodding in response. “Oh, it gets worse. Eventually, you start to *like* the beatings. They’re the only thing that reminds you that you’re alive, that the seemingly ritualistic torture you inflict on others is not without karmic retribution. As far as I know, most lose themselves in it, soon becoming nothing more than slaves to their vile passions.” “Well, for what it’s worth, I’m mighty glad you didn’t,” came Adeon’s response, returning the shoulder squeeze before the pair found themselves staring at the heavens outside.
Dinner that night passed with an awkward sort of tension, neither really finding words to bridge the gap that existed between them. It wasn’t until Adeon made to return to his quarters that T’riss finally found herself asking, “Um…What was it like? Having a family, I mean.” Adeon paused in the doorway, looking back at the small cantina that served as the Weaver’s kitchen. “Suppose it was nice. Ma was always frettin’ about somethin’ that didn’t matter, and Pa was always real strict. Never really had problems gettin’ along, always there for one another.” He sighed, adding, “Shame they got crushed in that Grox stampede, I never told em how much I appreciated them.” The momentary flash of pain across his face caused T’riss to nearly cringe as the dull ache in her chest increased. “I’m…Sorry. I didn’t mean…” she whispered, looking dejectedly down at the remnants of food on her plate. “I was just curious since…”
It was Adeon’s turn to feel guilty, eliciting another sigh from him before he replied, “S’all right. No harm done. But whatya mean? Don’t they have families on that there Commorragh?” As he took the seat to the right of her, T’riss looked up, eyes watering slightly, “Yes and…No. It’s very rare to actually give birth among my people, so most are simply born from tubes. Since it’s easy to make more half-born, there’s no point in coddling them. Either you quickly learn to survive on your own and prove your worth, or you’re sent to the slave pens…” T’riss trailed off, an awkward silence growing between them. Suddenly, she whirled, coming to face Adeon proper, “What am I to you? Are we family now?” This stymied him, leaving him speechless between the abruptness of the question and the look of mixed longing and pain that was T’riss’ face. “Nah,” he began, T’riss’ eyes spilling over with tears in response, “We’re somethin’ better.” Before she could do more than widen her eyes, Adeon pulled T’riss close, and the two shared their first kiss.
When he awoke, Adeon wasn’t sure how much time had passed. The events of the past few hours were a blur of sensations, of which parts of his body still protested against. Yet, as he turned his head to regard T’riss, he couldn’t help but smile. Though she was still asleep, her face positively radiated happiness, and that was certainly worth the temporary injuries he had sustained. Before he drifted back to sleep, Adeon made up his mind – he would do whatever it took to make sure T’riss never lost that smile of hers.
As it turned out, calling Yttri Alpha an outpost was a slight exaggeration. Little more than a Defiant-class cruiser embedded into an asteroid, the only way in or out was via shuttlecraft. T’riss argued against letting Adeon come along, but soon acquiesced after one particularly convincing promise to stay out of trouble, followed by a warm embrace. Over the past month and a half since leaving Sehella, the pair had grown closer in ways neither had expected. At times, it was even enough to let them forget their collective troubles. “At least being weak isn’t all that bad…” she thought to herself, boarding the Weaver’s shuttle with Adeon in tow.
After docking in one of bays, T’riss lead them to the Screaming Skull, one of the popular bars on Yttri Alpha. Having been here a few times, back when she was still a Kabalite, she knew of a few places to begin asking questions. They couldn’t keep drifting through space forever, and going back to Commorragh was out of the question. That left either signing up with some mercenary band, or trying to find an uninhabited moon to live on. Either way, they needed more information than the database on the Weaver could give, so off they went.
Much to Adeon’s surprise, a majority of the outpost’s inhabitants were human. Granted, he didn’t notice anyone he would have associated with back in the Imperium, but it was still slightly comforting to be around others of his kind. After pushing past one particularly grumpy pair of Kroots, he paused before the entrance of the Screaming Skull, raising an eyebrow at the sign. “Odd name for a bar,” he mumbled, causing T’riss to laugh as she led them inside to a table in the back. “See the barkeep there? She’s a psyker, some say ex-Inquisition even. Most give her a wide berth for fear of being turned into a daemon, but she always seems to have the best information on the Imperium’s convoys. Plus,” T’riss winked, “she makes a mean mixed drink.” Adeon wouldn’t be talking to the bartender after hearing all that, but he couldn’t argue against the allure of a nice bit of liquor.
Rather than immediately asking around, T’riss and Adeon enjoyed a couple of bottles of Rotgut while sizing up the rest of the bar’s occupants. Other than themselves, there was the standard array of mercs enjoying their downtime, though two individuals stood out in particular. The first was a Rogue Trader in a booth in the opposite corner of the bar, and the second was a hooded figure at the bar. While the later was of note simply because no one else in the place was hiding their face, the former was hard to miss. Recounting tale after tale of his “heroic” efforts to his comrades, the man grew louder and louder as he consumed more and more drinks. Adeon was simply content to ignore the idiot, but T’riss found herself glaring at one particularly odd piece of jewelry on the Rogue Trader’s person. Nudging Adeon under the table with her foot, T’riss pointed over in the Trader’s direction, “That necklace, wonder where he got it.” After turning around to look for a moment, Adeon shrugged, “Dunno, probably more of his spoils, if I had to guess.” Rather than reply to him, T’riss slowly rose and found herself walking over to the Trader’s table. As she approached, the Trader raised his glass and called out jovially, “Ah, and here comes the entertainment boys!” She resigned herself to rolling her eyes, deciding it best not to start a scene. Now opposite the Trader, T’riss asked, “Yes, well, we can talk about *that* later. First, tell me more about that necklace. It’s quite beautiful.”
The Trader took the chain between thumb and forefinger, admiring the jewel set in the pendant, “You’ve got a fine eye there missy. This here is supposedly one of them spirit-stones you pointy-eared freaks seem to love. I took it as compensation when the Xenos scum decided not to make good with his payment.” Anger rushed through T’riss, but she could do little more than ball her fist tightly before Adeon appeared by her side. “I don’t suppose you’d be interested in a little wager?” he asked, causing the Trader to laugh in response. “Trying to impress your little pet are ya lad? I’ll humor you. What do you have in mind?”
Adeon smiled, walking over to the bar to obtain a pair of paperclips and piece of paper. “Now then,” he began, returning to the Trader’s table, “the challenge is to interlink these two paperclips using only this here piece of paper. If ya can do it, I’ll let ya have some time with my ‘pet.’ But if you can’t, and I can, you hand over that there necklace.” T’riss shot him an incredulous glance, but had grown to know Adeon enough that she wasn’t overly concerned with him losing. Still, as the Trader began fumbling with the paper and clips, she couldn’t see how such a feat was possible. Eventually, the Trader gave up, shaking his head as he passed the materials back to Adeon, “Can’t be done, not unless you’re going to use fancy mind magic like the bar witch.”
Laughing, Adeon simply curled the paper into an S shape. On each end, he attached the clips to the inner loops, then snapped the ends of the paper apart. Perfectly intertwined, the pair of paperclips fell to the table before the Trader, causing him to scoff, “Fancy parlor trick you got there boy, but you got one thing wrong – I don’t take kindly to being tricked.” With a snap of his fingers, the Trader’s retinue crowded around T’riss and Adeon, raising various forms of weaponry ranging from simple brass knuckles to laspistols. Just as they began advancing forward, the Trader found himself hauled into the air by his collar, causing the mob to pause as he choked out a cry of alarm. Turning to look at their leader, they came to see the formally hooded bar patron had pinned him against the wall.
The strange individual was wearing a multicolored jester’s outfit, and had red hair that spilt out from behind a mask. Though T’riss immediately knew a Harlequin when she saw one, the rest of the mob was clueless. Abandoning their former two targets, the gang advanced, soon surrounding the woman and their boss. Quietly, the woman muttered, “I suggest you make good with your promise, else you’re going to find yourself losing more than a simple piece of jewelry.” The Trader glared back at her, then nodded at his men. What followed was too quick for Adeon’s eyes to follow, but the results couldn’t be argued with.
As each of the now battered group cradled stumps of various limbs, running from the bar, the Harlequin threw the headless corpse of the Trader back into his seat, taking the necklace and tossing it to T’riss. Barely catching it, T’riss stared down at it before replying, “Well, I guess we owe you a drink now.” Laughter emitted from the masked face, and soon Adeon was playing third wheel as the two rapidly conversed back and forth in Eldar. He didn’t mind, of course, as T’riss seemed to grow more and more excited as the conversation carried on. Finally, the Harlequin stood, bowing her farewell before departing. “What was all that about?” Adeon asked, raising an eyebrow at T’riss. She could barely contain her glee as she replied, “I think we’ve just found a new home.”
The retinue of Harlequins departed the stage, save for one, as lights dimmed. Remaining center stage, she opened her arms wide and spoke. “From there, the pair traveled to the fair Exodite World of Quor, where they would live lives of happily seclusion. Accounts vary of their exploits, but one thing remained constant: their love of one another never faltered. “ Bowing, the actress drew to a close, resulting in a thunderous applause from the crowd as the rest of the troupe retook the stage. Soon after, the curtains fell, and the Eldar of the Alaitoc Craftworld began shuffling back to their homes.
Backstage, the starlet found her family waiting for her with watery eyes. Leaping forward to squeeze her tight, her sister happily extolled, “You did great sis! I told you there was no need to be worried!” “Indeed,” T’riss added, standing beside Adeon as the two proud parents regarded their daughter, “you did a fine job telling our story, Nydia.” Laughing, Nydia pried herself free of her sister, “That’s enough, Mist. But yes, I suppose it probably helped that I had a first-hand account of matters.” Together, the family shared a caring embrace, a small sense of sorrow overtaking them. It would be a long while before Nydia’s troupe would be near enough for a visit again.
After saying their goodbyes, Adeon, T’riss, and Mist returned to the Weaver, which was docked in one of the Alaitoc’s bays. While her twin was content to travel about, spreading stories of their race, Mist preferred to remain with her parents. It was true, their home on Quor was rather isolated, and few exodites ever came to visit. Still, she found the planet of her birth to be a welcome alternative to her brief stint as a corsair. Plus, her mother always needed a helping hand about the temple, whenever her father didn’t require aid maintaining the fields.
Once Mist had taken her place in her quarters, T’riss and Adeon found themselves alone on the bridge of the Weaver. Taking each other’s hands, the pair silently watched as the Craftworld faded from view into the darkness of the void. By now, neither needed words to know how the other felt, but that never stopped Adeon. “S’alright. She’ll be fine,” he said, squeezing T’riss hand lightly, “Nydia’s a strong girl.” Wiping a small tear from her eyes with her free hand, T’riss nodded, “I know. Still, it’s hard to let go, even now.” It was a fair point, Adeon thought, taking up his bride in a hug as they regarded the heavens outside. He hadn’t quite figured out all the mysteries they contained, but he was content with simply knowing that they had brought him true joy.
Original Version (Preserved for Posterity)
Unlike their trip from Sehella, the journey to Quro only took a week. Granted, they had the fortune of using the Harlequin’s vessel, so the ability to enter the Webway greatly sped matters along. After the encounter in the bar, T’riss and Adeon had docked the Weaver in the bay of the Othello, a grand Wraithship under the control of the Avatar’s masque. As T’riss explained it, these traveling performers were headed to an Exodite World to spread their brand of entertainment to the Eldar there. Though Adeon was skeptic at first, his fears of being led into a trap fell by the wayside as the jesters aboard the Othello went to great lengths to make T’riss and him feel welcome. They seemed eager to teach him about their culture and race, and Adeon was all too happy to learn more about his beloved’s people.
Meanwhile, T’riss found herself under the tutelage of the masque’s High Warlock. Though she had obtained a spirit stone, she lacked the proper means to control and utilize it. Still, after being lead through numerous exercises and trainings, the Warlock was content that his pupil would no longer have to worry about the eternal damnation of her soul. The one matter to which he could not help T’riss with was kicking the addiction to drinking souls, but she found herself facing that prospect with renewed vigor and optimism.
When the Othello finally put into orbit above Quro, the pair found themselves being given a set of coordinates to land at. Apparently, the Harlequins had contacted the world during the journey, and arranged for T’riss and Adeon to have a small plot of land some distance away from any main exodite populaces. Adeon found himself asking what they had done to warrant such kindness, though it would be T’riss that supplied the answer. “They found our story to be worthy of remembrance,” she said, as she piloted the Weaver down towards the planet. “I think we’re going to be the basis of some new play they’re working on.” Adeon didn’t know how to feel about this, but he wasn’t about to turn down such a generous gift.
On arrival, the pair emerged from the Weaver to find a sparse forest, along with several bags of what Adeon quickly discovered to be plant seeds. Wasting no time, the pair set to work building a home together. Though it took the better part of a month, the sturdy and spacious abode that resulted was more than either Adeon or T’riss could have hoped for. All the while, Adeon began cultivating the crops he had been given, adding in those that had survived the journey from Sehella. T’riss supplemented their food supply with the occasional game hunt, but was not above helping her beloved whenever needed. Though they knew the nearest settlement was but a two days walk away, both secretly enjoyed the feeling of having the world to themselves.
Over time, Adeon’s little farm expanded, and it came to pass that the local populace came to seek his guidance and trade with him on a near weekly basis. As for T’riss, she began a sort of martial temple, teaching any who were willing the battle-arts of the Dark Eldar. Though many were weary at first, soon many an exodite made a pilgrimage to learn from her. It was not long before a small settlement grew around the Weaver, though it never grew larger than a simple hamlet.
Six months after they had put down their roots, T’riss began showing signs of pregnancy. Adeon was overjoyed to learn he would be a father, but his enthusiasm paled in comparison to his companion’s. When it came time, with the aid of one of the local doctors, T’riss gave birth to a pair of healthy twins. Both beautiful little girls, the couple agreed on the names Mist and Nydia for their children. Though raising such bundles of energy proved to be a challenge, the proud parents couldn’t have asked to be happier.One night, some eight years after T’riss had landed in his field, Adeon found himself staring up at the stars again. His girls were fast asleep in the house, and there was a cool breeze flowing from the south. As he sat underneath the apple tree, which had grown from the supplies he brought from Sehella, he couldn’t help but feel as if all was right in the world. He hadn’t quite figured out all the mysteries the heavens contained, but he was content with simply knowing that they had brought him true joy.
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Feeding the Soul
Agony gripped T’riss’ entire body as the latest round of painful throbs rocketed down her spine. It had been eight months since her last feeding, and her body was beginning to revolt against having to once again endure the ravages that came with the passage of time. Her spirit stone had helped somewhat, eliminating the visits from the terrible daemon that used to visit her in her dreams. Still, as she writhed about, T’riss found herself wondering if it would be less painful to rip off her own arm before beating her brains out with it.
All the while, Adeon stayed by her bedside, doing his best to offer what little aid he could. She had, of course, warned him this might happen when they had landed on Quor, but that didn’t make it any easier to endure seeing his lover in such discomfort. He had offered multiple times to let her take his soul, only to have various objects thrown at him in response. This left Adeon with little to do, other than offer his moral support as T’riss battled through the symptoms of her withdrawal. It wasn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but he wasn’t about to let her deal with this on her own.
Two days later, her fever finally broke, bringing a wave relief over T’riss as she managed to drift into a restless slumber. A clap of thunder woke her some time later, the room around her a myriad of shadows accented by the flashes of lightning outside. Next to her was Adeon, sitting in a chair with his upper body slumped onto the bed. He had only left her side twice during the entire affair, and now he was fast asleep getting some much needed rest. Smiling weakly, T’riss reached out and stroked the hair from his face, a sense of warmth growing in her heart as she did. It couldn’t have been easy for him, to sit there helpless as she fought against her own blood, but that just made her love him all the more.
When Adeon awoke, the strange cries of the local fauna outside signified that the thunderstorm had passed. Quor’s weather was highly unpredictable at times, and it had taken months to finally build a shelter that could withstand the elements. Still, as he yawned and straightened up, he realized with a start that T’riss was no longer in their bed. Worried, he began combing their home, eventually finding her in the kitchen. There, she was preparing breakfast, humming gleefully with the aura of a happy housewife. A sense of admiration came over Adeon as he silently took his normal seat at the dining room table, not wanting to disturb T’riss, despite the fact she was a terrible cook.
With her abnormal, above-human hearing, she knew he was there as the quiet sound of the chair legs scrapping against the wooden floor reached her ears. Beaming, T’riss finished up the stew she had been working on, pouring it into two bowls before joining Adeon. “Well, go on, tell me what you think,” she said, motioning for him to take the first taste. He hesitated, eyeing the black, bubbling liquid before him. The last time he had tried her cooking, his colon had rebelled against him for weeks. Yet, as he took the first sip apprehensively, Adeon found himself surprised. It was actually quite delicious, and soon he found himself slurping the bowl clean to sate his hunger. Placing it back down on the table, he came to realize T’riss was avoiding his gaze, blushing profusely.
“That was…delicious, T’riss,” he offered, reaching out to place his hand on hers. Grinning, yet still not meeting his eyes, she nodded, “I…got some help from the exodites. They showed me how to properly combine the ferrgus root into…” Before she could finish the thought, T’riss found her lips being met with Adeon’s. Drawing back, he smiled, tapping her lightly on the nose, “I don’t really deserve ya, do I?” A moment of silence passed, then T’riss returned a kiss of her own before replying, “No, my dear, it is I who doesn’t deserve you.” Staring at one another in deep admiration, the pair then passed the rest of the day in the throws of their collective passions before tending to the crops in the evening. Such was their new lives, a mixture of pleasure and hard work that left both hardly believing it was real.
50 Souls of Pain
“There’s no way he has two of them!” Nydia argued, taking the book from Mist as the twins poured through its’ contents. Soon, they resumed their incessant giggling with each turn of the pages, prompting T’riss to poke her head into their room. “What’s all this about then?” she asked, causing the girls to nearly leap out of their skins in surprise as they scrambled to hide the novel. “N…Nothing mom!” came Mist’s hasty reply, who cringed as T’riss’ eyes narrowed. Striding over, T’riss reached beneath the pillow to remove a book bound in gray, her children recoiling as her eyes roved over the dust jacket.
“Who gave you this?” came T’riss’ reply, voice laden with a deadly sort of venom. Nydia steeled herself, then answered, “It was one of the Harlequins, they said it was a favorite of the Exodites.” Sighing, T’riss shook her head, walking from the room in mock disgust. “You’re lucky I found this out before your father did. I expect twenty laps around the farm and for the temple to be spotless by dinner.” The twins knew better than to complain, but their spirits raised as their mother added, almost as an afterthought, “…taming a savage primate through her loins? Who could believe such drivel.”