Unnamed Journal Volume 3, Issue 1 - Page 27

The Chamber of Pain by Fakey McFakeName W hen the Emperor’s Deathguard capture Gareth Gunhuld on the moon of Ridus IX, they brought him in shackled, in red steel handcuffs that had been treated with Ber Chrystal to prevent him from freeing himself using the Way. Gareth could feel them, buzzing in tiny hateful little pricks against his skin. He smirked at it. Escape was not something one simply improvised. One had to create a plan, an out, a distraction, and most of all, a transport out. These plans did not need to be perfectly organized — how could they be?— but they needed to be there. “Know your means beforehand” was a mantra of the Order. The Deathguard, two behind, one in front, one on either side, to make the shape of a death’s head when seen from above, escorted him down the shiny black corridor. He saw an infinity of dark reflections of himself on any side, which, he assumed, was part of the effect. He was unperturbed. Small elements of intimidation and psychological distress were ever part of the panoply of Stygius’ henchmen. But Gareth was not some stardust pirate or common brigand, to be intimidated by such. He was a newly sword full brother of the Sublime Order of the Star Bindu, the protectors of peace and order through many a star cluster. He knew where they were taking him. It had been a long time since any Bindu brothers had fallen into the grasps of Stygius’ Deathguard. The last time they had even tried, Prior Huraldi had killed thirty-two of them on Gevendra Prime. True, he had died, and the Order Outpost destroyed by Imperial Legionaires, but the DeathGuard was devastated. And Huraldi was not captured. But Gareth had been. Clever how the Deathguard had arranged a trap on Ridus for him. He wondered if the group of industrial saboteurs that contacted agents of the Bindu Council had been genuine or just provocateurs in the Empire’s pay. It hardly mattered. The Empire’s desperation in sending Fifty Deathguard to capture a new professant like Gareth showed how well the Council had taken to subversion in the years since Huraldi’s death. So many of the workers of the Empire had been reduced to penury by the Empire’s heavy taxation and reprisals. It was easy to believe that another cache of miners wanted to reach out to the only voice that stood against Stygius’ tyranny, the tyranny of Death Power. The shiny corridor gave way to lurid reds and black blacks on the floor. The hard dark walls opened up to translucent panels, outside of which the storms of a blasted desert landscape threw up hideous claws of sand and heat in twisted visions of anger. This meant that they had taken Gareth to Arkala Three, the headquarters of the Emperor’s Grand Vicar, Lord Avrankes. This, too, Gareth expected. No doubt the Emperor had ordered Avrankes himself to see to the interrogation of the prisoner. Gareth took pride in his situation. He would show these dogs of Death the strength of the Bindu. Lord Avrankes stood in the middle of the room, tall in the black cadet’s uniform with a stiff red cape draped behind him. His bald pate bore the scar of an iridium blade and his eyes glowed with a rusty blood-color. Gareth had heard of him by reputation throughout his novitiate. Avrankes had been a student of the Way, but not through any Bindu tradition; he had learned to draw upon the living Dao in one of the schismatic Ythan temples. Their reward had been for Avrankes to pledge his loyalty to Stygius and murder them all in