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The Price

By Doro Schluter

The humans were battling the influence of Chaos on that little world, yet they were unaware of the potential harm that lay in one rather inconspicious nascent psyker. He would escape them, undetected, and in the future be the cause of untold harm to the Eldar and humans alike.

This had to be prevented, and Farseer Tiarn Dalach was trying to see a way to achieve this.

For some reason, the rune of the Battleseer had come up over and over again in connection with these events. The result of the operation to eliminate the human psyker seemed to be closely linked to his daughter, and whole trees of desirable possibilities seemed to stem from her actions. Yet there also loomed great danger, for the Death rune too appeared time and again.

He began a new casting to find out more. Softly chanting he pulled the rune of the Battleseer from his pouch. It began to glow gently in his fingers, and hung motionless in the air in front of him. The next rune that came up was that of Chaos itself, vile and repulsing. The two runes began to circle each other almost wearily, vibrant with a life of their own. He dipped his hand into his pouch again, and his fingers found the next rune: Fate in balance. He had thought as much, but strangely enough, the rune did not settle between the other two, but stayed closely to the Battleseer rune representing his daughter. Was it her fate concerned, or was the outcome depending on her? The next rune to join the dance was that of the Seedling, which joined the previous one, clarifying things a bit: Small things grow big, tiny deeds cause huge results. Then followed Death, situating itself between the Battleseer and Chaos. Suddenly the Seedling began to oscillate between these two runes, always passing closely by Death. So death would come to one of them, and whichever it was, it would have huge consequences, either good or bad. The last rune to come into his casting surprised him a bit, it was the rune of Men. It stayed slightly apart, yet seemed to play a vital part in these events.

The scene set, the runes now played out their compelling dance. While Death stayed in the middle, the Seedling moved towards the Battleseer and began to orbit the rune. Suddenly the Chaos rune and the Battleseer moved in towards the Death rune, and then winked out. Both these runes hung motionless, their surface dull and lifeless, the sparkle gone. The dance had ended.

Wistfully, Tiarn Dalach gathered the runes back into his pouch, and went to find his daughter to give her instructions for this mission which, he was quite sure now, would be the death of her, and yet was also desperately important for the future of the Craftworld.

Unnoticed, in the darkness of the Farseer's pouch, the rune of the Battleseer began to transform itself, slowly changing into the rune of the Outcast.

+++

Farseer Tiarn Dalach stood gazing out into the starry blackness of space, hands clasped tightly behind his back. He did not move, although he felt the Warlock enter, looking for him.

“Morfessa?”

Now he turned around, facing the younger Seer:

“It is done, Falundir. The attack has been made, the human psyker is dead, and my daughter is lost. ...I can feel it.”

“You should not have send them, morfessa! This is a grave loss for the Craftworld.”

“It is a grave loss for me, too.” he replied, “Do not think I have send them with a light heart. The decision was hard, and the strength to make it difficult to find in me. But for the sake of the Craftworld it had to happen. Great evil would have befallen us otherwise, and strange but necessary events will result from this one. Yet, although I cannot feel her anymore and her spirit is gone, I have seen her return to us in my searchings of the future. Maybe there is still hope, even if I cannot see how... She should have become one of the wisest Farseers ever to guide our people, eclipsing me by far. We will see what the future brings.”

With these words he walked towards Falundir, following him back into the livelier areas of the Craftworld. But his steps were unsure, and he moved as though his great age had finally taken its toll.

When the assault team returned, they did not even bring back her body, as they had been unable to find it on the battlefield. Her brother Lesley, who had been awaiting them at the portal, took the news with surprising calmness, quietly withdrawing to his apartment. Only in the privacy of his rooms did he vent his helpless fury against his father, who had once again placed the well-being of their Craftworld above that of his children.

On the same evening he went down into the landscape dome to her lodgings to bring the news to her four shadows, her personal honour guard of huge alien warriors, who had grudgingly stayed behind on this mission on the express orders of her father. They thanked him politely for informing them of the events, but otherwise they did not betray any emotion in his presence, although he knew how attached they had been to his sister. Their only request was to be granted permission to perform a private ritual commemorating her sacrifice for her Craftworld and to be allowed erstwhile to stay in her late house, both of which were given on the following morning.

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