Author's Note: For those interested, there are three advance chapters on P-atreon (remove the spaces and dash): p-atreon/ SkySage24.

For anyone interested, here's an invite code to my Discord server: EpG6ZrzX

Isha hurtled through the mountain, crashing through tons of rock and steel like a meteor until she erupted out of the other side, slamming into one of the hellfire pillars with the force of a heavy artillery shell.

Instantly, there was pain. The hellfire burned against her skin, and more than that, against who she was. It ate into the flesh she had clothed herself with, burrowing deeper into her very being in its frenzied drive to consume all that she was.

With a great effort, Isha wrenched herself away from the flames, gasping even as she regenerated from the damage, flesh and bones that had been charred black regaining colour and weight.

But she had hardly a moment to catch her breath before Be'lakor appeared, drifting out of the hole he had created by hurling her through the mountain.

He smiled at her with Eldanesh's lips, except her son had never worn such a sadistic, cruel smile. It was an expression that did not at all fit his features, seeming horrifically twisted and distorted.

"Is that the best you can do, Isha?" He taunted, a mocking echo of her own words earlier. "What would Eldanesh say if he could see his dear mother now?"

She gritted her teeth and bit back her response, choosing instead to reply by conjuring yet another glowing green spear and hucking it at his sneering face.

Be'lakor didn't even bother to dodge it, instead letting tendrils - chains - of hellfire erupt from the pillars, intercepting the spear at lightning speed before it could hit him.

"You'll have to do better than that," He said in a sing-song voice. "Or don't. It doesn't matter to me either way. Your children would be disappointed, though."

The bastard was enjoying himself. Toying with her.

Isha cast a glance back at the gigantic hellfire cage surrounding the mountain. It was a complex piece of sorcery, but she was sure she could undo it with time…time which Be'lakor would not give her.

Damn him.

So Isha did the only thing she could do.

She ran.

She fled back into the mountain, phasing through the rock like a ghost as she flew into the depths, Be'lakor's mocking laughter following her.

She dove deep into the fortress, into the foundations, hoping to find a way out…only to find Be'lakor's cage extended through the ground as well.

Isha had not truly expected otherwise, but it was still frustrating. This was sorcery wrought by the twisted genius of the First-Damned, augmented by Enuncia, the language of the Old Ones.

She could hardly believe it, but it was true. Be'lakor had claimed he had plundered the grave of the Old Ones for this, and indeed he had.

This was not merely a cage. Be'lakor had turned all of Olympus Mons into a ritual killing ground, a place where he could sacrifice her and claim her power for himself.

The fact that he had not used any of his enslaved Slaaneshi Daemons against her made sense now; if Be'lakor wanted to become an Incarnate by consuming her, the victory had to be his and his alone. To use Daemons of Slaanesh to defeat her would be to cede a portion of his claim to the Dark Prince.

Feeling Be'lakor following behind her, burning a path of molten rock through the mountain, Isha fled back upwards, towards the mountain's peak.

As she moved, she could feel the panic of the Tech-Priests and their acolytes around her, of the Skittari and the servants, of the Machine Spirits that dotted the mountain like stars dotted the sky.

They were afraid and terrified. Many of them were dead, several of them because of how Be'lakor had used her as a missile, piercing through the mountain with no care for collateral damage.

Damn him. She despised the Mechanicum and its Tech-Priests, slavers and monsters so eerily similar to the Necrons, obsessed with metal and the so-called weakness of the flesh.

But that did not mean she wanted to slaughter them all like this, even the menials and servitors who had no choice, the acolytes who might yet learn better.

But Be'lakor did not care about that. To him, mortal lives were nothing, only useful as pawns, fuel, and food.

Isha emerged from the mountain near the summit, shifting back from being a spectre to a more solid form. Now, she stood upon a great caldera, many miles wide.

Up here, even the Martians had built nothing…though that did not mean there was nothing here; there were the ruins of ancient metal structures that had been shattered, mountain-tall pillars without anything left to support standing still, marked by rust, and in piles big and small lay broken shards of glass and stone strewn across the caldera, remnants of a bygone age.

Perhaps the Tech-Priests had not gotten around to reclaiming this yet. Perhaps this was some kind of holy site.

In the end, it didn't matter much, save for the fact that it was as far from the mortal inhabitants of Olympus Mons as Isha could get within this cage that Be'lakor had built.

Outside, Isha could feel one of the Emperor's avatars trying to pry open the cage, but he was struggling. If he shattered it with brute force, that would only create a warp rift which would consume the entire mountain. And while he was working on pulling apart the threads of the spell one by one, unweaving the ritual as delicately as he dared, it would take him several more hours yet.

Be'lakor was not considered the greatest sorcerer in the galaxy for nothing.

Moments later, as if summoned by her thoughts, Be'lakor erupted through the ground in a blast of shadow, debris, and flame, leering at her as he crossed his arms, the Blade of Shadows in his grip.

"Well, this has been a fine game of cat and mouse, Isha," Be'lakor laughed. "But I am on a tight schedule, and I think it's time we put an end to it. I must say I am somewhat disappointed, however. I expected a better fight from the Mother of the Eldar. Eldanesh and Ulthanesh would be ashamed."

A dull, weary acceptance settled across Isha's shoulders. So this was how she was going to die. Despite everything, in the end, she would not be able to save her children or have vengeance for her family, nor make up for her many mistakes.

Very well. If I'm going to die here, so be it.

But that didn't mean Be'lakor would get what he wanted.

Conjuring forth twin hunting knives, Isha settled into a combat stance.

"Die," she said quietly, before lunging forward.

Be'lakor parried her blows with the Blade of Shadows, the clash of their weapons sending shockwaves around them that tore the caldera apart.

Yet, as they fought and dust and flame and rocks swirled around them, there was a spark of anger in Isha's heart as she stared at Be'lakor's mask, at the mockery of her beloved son.

Why are you giving up? Stop holding back. Kill him!

The Blade of Shadows bit into her skin, leaving burning wounds that wafted off black smoke, even as Isha's blows seemed to only do superficial damage.

Her anger swelled. Could she not even harm this monster who dared to use her son's face as he sought to devour her?

The words that Khaine's shard had spoken to her upon Iyanden came back to her, like the memory of a bygone age, even though it had only been a few months.

I see the rage in your heart, daughter. You have suppressed it, but it is there. I can see the thirst for blood and vengeance in you.

You are my daughter, after all, no matter how much you may wish to deny it. You may very well kill the abomination by yourself, but only if you embrace that.

She lashed out, but Be'lakor avoided her blow easily, and smashed her across the face with an armored fist, sending her crashing back down to the Caldera.

And yet, even as she flew through the air, Isha's rage grew.

This wasn't fair. After all she had survived, after all she had lived through, this was going to be her end? Death and consumption at the hands of a Daemon King, of a cowardly wretch who had fled from her children in ages past?

She could not, would not accept that.

Stop holding back.

Isha landed on her feet, rage at Be'lakor, at the Emperor, at Slaanesh, at herself, bubbling under her skin like molten lava.

Why was she being like this? Be'lakor was formidable, true, but he was far from the most dangerous opponent she had ever fought.

She had fought foes before who were her equal. This was not even the first time she had been trapped. She had been lured into traps by the C'tan before, into those Reality Tethers they had been so fond of, and she had fought her way out.

Be'lakor was still floating above. He was reveling in this, despite his own words, he was enjoying her humiliation and pain too much to finish her.

Her performance had never been as pathetic as this. Her tactics were unimaginative and predictable. Her instincts were dull and slow.

Stop holding back. Stop denying who you are.

…because she was choosing to. For so long now, she had let her war aspect lie dormant.

Even before she had been forced to seek the Emperor's protection, before the Fall, she had shied away from conflict.

Ever since the Sundering. Ever since her father had taken her prisoner, ever since Asuryan had let him. The unending pain, the searing flames, the screams for help that had gone unanswered. Listening to Kurnous' screams as her father relished in the pain he could inflict on her through him.

The betrayal. Of her father. Of her king. The rest of her family, too silent and afraid of Asuryan and Khaine both to raise a voice on their behalf.

Cegorach, the Jester who had played with the Yngir, had said nothing. Lileath had started it all by going to her grandfather rather than her parents. Even Isha's mother, Morai-heg, had bowed her head and said nothing.

Only Vaul had come. Vaul, her dear beloved brother, had saved them.

And how had Isha repaid him? With the same fearful silence, the same betrayal she had so resented from the rest of her family.

Isha the Huntress, Isha the Queen of the Wild, Isha the survivor of the War in Heaven had receded, shackled by fear and sorrow and pain. Oh, she had played at the hunt, at war, but only with those weaker than her, with prey. Not with a rival or equal. She had betrayed herself, been a coward, and she had lost who she was.

No longer.

She had to survive. She had to live. She had to save her children and claim vengeance.

And no Daemon King was going to stand in her way.

Isha took a deep breath…and let go. She gave into her rage and her spite, her desire for vengeance. She stopped holding back who she was and roared.

It was a dragon's roar, echoing across all of Mars and shaking the planet to the very core. The hellfire pillars trembled and flickered at the sound, recoiling. Grass spread like wildfire across the surface of the caldera, joined by trees with trunks so dark they were almost black, and leaves that could slice through metal.

Golden horns erupted from Isha's head, curving backwards. Her teeth became fangs as thick, jagged golden markings appeared on her face. Her muscles shifted and rippled, expanding even as scaled Jade armour grew on her skin, her nails lengthening into claws. Finally, a cloak of green scales manifested, settling across her shoulders as at last the Daughter of Khaine tore her way out of the skin of the Mother of the Eldar.

At last, her transformation ended and Isha fixed Be'lakor with a glare, slitted emerald eyes burning against a black sclera. For the first time in countless galaxy ages, the Queen of the Wild Hunt peered out at the world, at a new opponent.

"You wish to be like me, Be'lakor? Then come, and I will teach you what it means to be an Incarnate."