Chapter 1

A New Day

Kuras awoke, his emerald green eyes opening onto the ceiling of his chambers. He stretched, wringing out his muscles on his sumptuous bed. At this point in time, his chamber was red everywhere. Red walls, red ceiling, red flooring, red bedsheets. For the time, he found it soothing, the colour of blood. He'd tire of it in a few days and have it redecorated, but for now, it still amused him.

He sat up, his silvery-white hair falling about his shoulders, his naked torso exposed. No conquests joined him this morning, which was a shame, but there were ways to alleviate that.

"Sara," he called. A few moments later, his…servant appeared from a small side chamber. She was small, even for a human girl, not quite hitting five foot. Her face, so utterly unlike his pale knife edge was tan and round, with a pleasant smile that spread into her large cheeks. Her slender form was encased in a tight cerulean silk dress, another one of his current fancies.

"Good morning, Master, how may I serve you?" She asked sweetly, that smile lighting up her face. Stockholm syndrome. What an interesting condition, Kuras thought. What a fascinating race the humans were. At this moment, he didn't feel the need to hurt this girl, but was amazed by the fact that she would gasp in pleasure as he did so.

A fascinating species, the Commorite thought. As Archon to the Kabal of the Shattered Mirror, Kuras had a lot of power to indulge his whims. His chief interest in this life was humanity. They were so varied, so different. His people were all one and the same; cold blooded murderers.

But if he took a group of humans down to the torture chambers; one would hold out till death, another would cave immediately. One would beg and plead, another would curse and threaten. And a very few, like Sara, would love it.

Fascinating.

In an unusually playful mood, Kuras grabbed Sara and dragged her on to the bed. He ran his hands over that smooth silk, eliciting gasps of pleasure, and just to remind her, he would occasionally dig in too hard. Unbidden, he became aroused and expended the girl, biting, tearing, cutting. He didn't kill her, but she would need some medical attention in the near future. It was mildly rejuvenating for his soul, and he felt much more energised.

And she had enjoyed every last second. Fascinating. He did so love that word.

He had the refuse tidied away to be put back together, and a second member of his harem, Keri, sought to his needs. She was taller and more buxom, with glowing blond hair tied back. How varied. She wore an almost identical dress, but violet. Keri was not as deep as Sara, but still had a familial relationship with her captor.

She helped him don his midnight blue war-plate. Today, after all, was a day when the Kabal went to war.

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"Good morning, Master," said a deep voice as he left his private quarters. It belonged to Malathys, his Klaivex. The Eldar was tall, even for a tall people, broad of shoulder. His heavy helmed visage followed Kuras' movements, and he fell into lockstep behind him as he passed.

"Is the war-council summoned, Malathys?" Of all the Eldar he knew, Malathys came the closest to being trusted. However, there was no word in the Commorite language for trust, merely varying likelihoods of betrayal. He rated Malathys as a Garun'kai, at about a five percent chance of backstabbing him. Incubi were mostly trustworthy, after all.

"Of course, Master. They await you in your throne room as we speak."

"I hope I haven't kept them waiting too long," Kuras chuckled, not caring. He heard a rare laugh from the Klaivex.

"Just long enough to anger your sister." Kuras laughed at that. Few things gave him greater pleasure.

"Well, let's not keep the princess waiting any longer."

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Kuras entered the throne room from a private passage at the very back. He casually and brazenly walked around the throne, to sit and address the arrayed individuals. Along the walls, his guard of Incubi stood, greatswords shouldered.

The room was vast, and made almost exclusively from cut marble. Huge pennants bearing the symbol of the Shattered Mirror hung from the walls. Down a relatively modest flight of steps, his three principle generals stood, backed up by a host of flunkies.

There was Silkaro, his Dracon, leader of the Kabal's Warriors. He was dour and workmanlike, with a jet black ponytail. He was another Eldar high on the trust scale. He generally lacked the imagination to climb any higher up the ladder. But, then again, those were the ones to watch.

Then there was Arianys, his sister, and Succubus; leader of the Wych Cult. She was most certainly not trusted. The bitch had never forgiven him for killing and usurping their father. Well, daddies' little princess could spin on a pike for all he gave a damn. But keeping her around was amusing. He was, however, interested by that curvaceous Syren behind her; maybe he should consider 'promoting' her.

The last was Korolion, his Chief Haemonculus. Trustworthy in the sense that he seemed to enjoy his job a little too much. Anyone who described Kuras' smile as shark-like would instantly retract that upon seeing Korolion. His crooked leer was devoid of any soul whatsoever.

"Greeting, my loyal subjects!" Kuras said, his flair for the melodramatic kicking in. The assembled congregation beat their fist against their chest, except of course, for Arianys, who simply glared at him.

Kuras couldn't help but grin, exposing his flawless teeth. "Are we looking forward to murder?" He asked in a voice loaded with amusement, to a chorus of assents. "The first raid for this mission has been selected. Your petitions and bribes have been gratefully received and I can now announce the winner: Korolion!"

The Master Haemonculus drew his rictus smile back even further, and a sibilant hiss arose from the Haemonculi and Wracks behind him. Arianys threw a sidelong glance, but knew better than to risk the wrath of the Coven. Silkaro smiled, seemingly expecting it.

"Thank you for this glorious honour," the twisted Eldar rasped.

"Take what you will for your needs, but please do leave enough…victims for a suitable message," said Kuras, grinning from ear to ear.

"Oh yes, Master, I do believe I have just the…treatment in order." He laughed a distinctive laugh, high and grating.

There was a sudden commotion. One of Silkaro's subordinated had literally tried to stab him in the back. In a masterful display, the Dracon span his spear, disarming the Eldar before knocking him to the floor and jabbing him blade first, pinning him to the ground. This elicited feeble grunts of pain.

"With this many witnesses? I thought I trained you better than that," he said and spat on the prostrate Eldar. "My apologies for the disruption, my Master." Kuras merely nodded. An enjoyable little spectacle.

===][===

Dacia was a small planet on the edges of Imperial space. It was a green and verdant land, its only real value. Producing food was the only thing that prevented it from disappearing into the void from the attentions of alien raiders.

Its planetary capitol was like any average Imperial city, modern, with a sprawling spaceport and enormous defensive walls. All trade passed through here, and it was wealthy. Beyond that, the average tech level was low, with most being used on large farming machines. People lived in almost medieval style buildings. They lived their lives in relative poverty, hoping for the rare chance to visit the capitol's bright lights.

Planetary Governor Mehan Petrovitch was in his private quarters after a long and busy day. He had changed into a luxurious silken robe that would have bankrupted many of his citizens. He swirled a glass of the finest Mordian Cognac, a rare pleasure. He was a tall man, but broad from good living. His hair and beard were a neatly trimmed brown, fading to grey at his temples.

He made to his balcony, to overlook the sights of his city, when he started. There was someone on his balcony. Terror rising in his throat at the bladed shadow, he tried hoarsely to call for help.

"I wouldn't," said a refined voice, belonging to the shadow. "But don't worry, I'm just here for a nice chat. No need to panic and make a fuss." The shadow stepped into the lit room, revealing Kuras' form. Mehan dropped the glass, alcohol spilling.

"Who…what are you?" He managed to choke out. Damn him, but mortal peril had foiled all of his higher cognitive functions. Thinking had become difficult. How did this Xenos know Low Gothic? The Eldar actually bowed in a formal manner.

"Greeting, I am Archon Kuras of the Shattered Mirror. May I request the pleasure of your name?" He dripped sarcasm from his words.

"I am Governor Mehan Petrovich," he replied, finding confidence in his title. "How the hell did you get here?"

Kuras cocked an eyebrow and smiled smugly. "How did I evade a human sensor net at low threat priority? I don't know, it was so difficult!" He barked a laugh, abrasive. "Now, I can see that you've had a long day, so I'll be brief."

Kuras walked away from Mehan, turning to face the open balcony. "I am going to subjugate this world."

Mehan's eyes widened, but he found his backbone. "You think a world of the Emperor is just going to surrender to you?"

Kuras looked over his shoulder with an expression like a daemon of the warp. "Of course not, we're going to break you first! I will come to you again, and I will demand your surrender. It is my intent that by that time, you will be so destroyed by the horrors that we will have inflicted that you'll have no choice."

"We will never surrender to you! This galaxy is our birthright!" Mehan now blazed with anger.

"Ah good, you're a fighter; those are perhaps the most fun to break. Not that a weakling isn't fun every now and again. Variety is the key to enjoy yourself, don't you agree? I mean, just this very morning, I had this girl…" Mehan's fists clenched and his teeth ground together at the bastard's over-familiarity.

"Guards!" Mehan shouted loudly, done with this conversation. Kuras smiled and idly wandered back towards the balcony. He sniffed.

"Mordian Cognac? Not a bad drink. May I suggest a Heldonian Port? But you have to avoid the 965 to the 970 vintages, because they had a terrible drought."

"How do you know about things like that?" Mehan gasped, his voice aghast. Two guards flew through the door, pistols raised. A moment before he jumped from the balcony, Kuras spoke.

"Because you humans do fascinate me so!" Then he leapt into seemingly thin air, before an almost invisible craft, a Venom not that Mehan knew, took off with him clinging on to the back.

"Get me General Wesser on the vox now!" Mehan shouted at his bewildered guards. "We've got to make preparations soon, or we are surely doomed."

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Korolion stood at the realspace docks, preparing to enter the conflict for the first stage. Behind him, his warhost assembled. Haemonculi glided on metal tails. Wracks vied for position, eager to practice their craft on the living. Thundering Grotesques strained at their leashes, desperate to repay the pain they existed in at all times. And above them came the Pain Engines and the Abattoirs.

Korolion licked his lips and ran his hands together in joyful anticipation. Kuras had asked him to send a message to the humans, to make them fear the Eldar. Now that, that he could do.