Now seems like an odd time to continue practicing my letters, but I must always learn. The Order of the Argent Shroud has been diligent in teaching me.
We have been captured. Honestly, I do not know much of the intricacies of the politics that surround me. But then they placed me back into a pit. It nearly brought a smile to my face.
One by one we were shoved forward into the pit to face what they told us would be the Trial of the Blood. When I entered, I stood face to face with a woman. But I saw no face. My mind was already scanning the arena for any advantages I could use as our weapons had been taken. The piles of smoldering ashes caught my eye. The torches were much too high on the walls to be of use. But I had seen ashes used in combat before. I knew precisely what to do. I turned and bolted toward the nearest pile, hoping I seemed afraid and that she would pursue. I skidded to a halt next to the pile. She reached me a split second later. Her mistake was gasping as I lunged at her with two fistfuls of hot ash. That single gasp sped her towards her death. She grabbed at her throat as she struggled to breath. Eyes wide with fear, her face began to mottle. I continued shoving ashes until I could force no more into her gaping mouth. I circled her as she struggled, stretching my legs. I glanced up only to meet eyes with a Dark Eldar woman in the crowd. The rest of the crowd was wild, but she sat there only smirking.
After a brief rest, in which a few of my crewmates were patched up, we were shoved through a maze of tunnels again. I was proud of my team, I had not expected all of them to survive and do so well in a round in the pit.
The next trial we did not fair so well. The Dark Eldar tortured us one by one. Most of the others passed out at some point. My body wished I could accept the sweet release but my mind screamed against it. Warning me of what might happen if I let my guard down. Warning me of what I could lose.
Again there were whispers, Trial of Terror they mumbled.
Soon I was kneeling in a circle of Dark Eldar. They watched with pleasure and fascination as a liquid is forced down my throat.
…I feel like all the nerve endings in my throat have gone dead. The world spins, and I try to blink it off, but that only makes it worse. After a moment, I can taste dirt, feel the grit in my teeth. I push myself off the ground, stumbling to my feet, fighting for balance on the uneven ground as music pounds through my skull.
I know this song. It’s my song. They play it… they used to play it when I fought. I turn in a circle. I’m back in the pit. I’m home. But wasn’t I just…
Something roars behind me. I whip around. Behind a set of bars is a beast the likes of which I’ve never seen, but I’m not worried. I can handle it. I can always handle it. Every monster they threw at me.
As the beast lunges at me, the scene suddenly switches, and I’m kneeling on the bridge of a xenos vessel, listening to the creatures report on the fall of the Imperium, watching the reports as everything I thought I knew once again falls apart. Just when I think I know something, just when I thought I no longer had to be afraid…
Someone asks what they should do with me. “Kill her. Humankind is vile and must be exterminated.” The sounds of a gunshot rattles through my skull…
I fight to gain control, this can’t be real. I’ve learned too much, fought too hard to lose all control again! I cannot die a cowards death, to a cowards weapon! I am no longer just a pawn, fighting for someone else’s reward. I still fight, yes. But I fight for myself!
I realize I am back in the dungeons. I glance up and notice the whole ring of Dark Eldar looking slightly disappointed. I suppose it was not enough of a spectacle for them. But they are impressed.
Back in the main arena the crew are all thrown in together this time. I hesitate. Are we meant to kill each other? I’ve killed plenty… but …these people? A gate is drawn and a Clawed Fiend comes roaring out. Luckily I had not moved against any that I came into this place with. Together this time, we work to slay the massive beast. By the end the crowd is in a frenzy, and most of us in the arena are slick with innards. Strang with his own.
[Hallucination sequence obviously not mine, Miriam’s brilliant writing, and I hope she doesn’t mind me changing/adding a few words]