Chapter 40: Yau'le
Those who are in greater need of help are those who constantly deny their need of it.
- Governor Erik Glovskovich of Gallelia
"Will you cut that out?" Uelesh snapped as him as they rode on a centaur.
Rodemman chuckled as a result of her outburst. Riding on a centaur was not the best experience per say but given that it was either that or the brute, Rodemman preferred the familiar feel and slightly more comfortable seats of the centaur than compared to the brute. He was also given a simple brown shirt to cover up his top to avoid any misunderstanding which he was grateful of.
"Sorry, it's just that your family name has a nice ring to it." He replied before he slowly realized one tiny detail.
"Actually, I never thought that eldars have such names. I always assumed that you only go by your given names then add some sort of title or something. Also, you never told me the Brightforge name during our introductions."
Uelesh sighed. "If only I knew that you'd get this nosey."
Rodemman shrugged, truth be told it somehow felt easier to hold a conversation since what happened the night before. The guardsman found his spine tingling at the memory but quickly pushed it away. He wouldn't want a tent to build itself between his legs now of all times and of all places.
"Your initial knowledge is, to some extent correct. In eldar culture, our given names are the only names that we use. Though if an eldar had earned a title such as the Phoenix Lord or the Shade Slayer or other titles, we add it to our names during introductions but we usually refer to each other on a first name basis. Either that or we use the profession of an eldar such as artisan, healer and so on or the equivalent of brother or sister in our language when one has no knowledge of the other's name." Uelesh explained as she started to comb her messy hair.
It was not long ago did he learn that the eldar was quite particular with her hair. And she was definitely not fond of her hair covered with mud and soot. At one point when they were leaving the complex of tunnels, they had to climb using an old ladder that was probably unused for several years at best. The things that had clung to the narrow pathway were unpleasant to say the least.
"And the Brightforge name?" Rodemman asked.
"That is something that developed in Fonral." A new voice interjected.
Turning to face it only did he realize that it was the light warrior that accompanied them who spoke up. He almost forgot that he was there since he never spoke for the duration of their trip until now.
"Because of the customs that the former Imperial citizens had, one of such was in regards with their names. The eldars of the old Fonral decided to adopt their naming sense thus giving birth to our so called 'family names'." He explained.
"Sooo...they just came up with their last names on a whim?"
"If you look it in that way...sure why not?" The light warrior shrugged.
Even though his helmet looked as if it was glaring at Rodemman, the tone of his voice said otherwise.
"Our last names were actually decided based on our professions. For example, a well-known Howling Banshee that fought during the Fonralian Human-Eldar War was initially known simply as Siena but when the peace treaty was created, she adopted the last name of Isharian which loosely translates to 'warrior of Ishara' Hence she became known since then as Siena Isharian." Uelesh said causing the light warrior to nod.
"Then what about yours?" The guardsman asked.
"It was passed down to us by my ancestor, the first Brightforge. He served as what you humans call a blacksmith during the war and gained in popularity with his kin due to his exceptional creations. When the war ended, he originally adopted the name of Naurnamba which means "Fire Hammer" but his kin as well as the human leaders opted to bestow him the name Brightforge for his talents and contributions. Not wanting to disgrace them by declining, he accepted the name and has been used by my family ever since."
Rodemman was rather impressed on how Uelesh knows more about her family history than he ever did to his. He envied her for such a trivial thing but knew that his father would've had his reasons for not imparting the family history. He would be lying if said that he wasn't curious about the origins of the Luludilius family and after what the Emperor had told him during his vision, his want to know more about his family grew stronger. His thoughts were interrupted as the centaur slowed to a halt. The light warrior then ushered them out of the tracked vehicle.
His eyes stung slightly as he exited as it adjusted to the light outside. The first thing that he noticed was the noise. There were people everywhere he looked, not soldiers but civilians who carried out their daily activities. He saw individuals, both human and eldar of various age and gender entering and leaving the many stores that stood alongside the street. There were small stalls that sold food, trinkets and various other items. It was a lively scene to say the least as he watched the people of Yau'le laugh and converse with each other. He saw the adults negotiate for better prices while the children either played with their friends or were tagging along their parents. There were groups of friends that were having a good time, individuals who went on their errands, families that were bonding and young couples that were enjoying the fine weather. There was no doubt that they knew of the war that was happening outside their walls but it was as if it did little to dissuade them from counting life as it was.
But what truly amazed him was not the fact that the citizens of Yau'le could continue on their daily businesses, it was the fact that there were no boundaries between eldars and humans. The two races interacted with one another without any visible friction or symptoms of xenophobia. He has never witnessed such display in his life, not even during his time at Yavin. Yes he personally saw and experienced the camaraderie that human and eldar soldiers share but he didn't had the chance to feel what it's like in a non-military setting in Fonral.
"It's beautiful isn't it?" Uelesh asked as she stood beside him watching her people.
"A world where eldars and humans lived, died and existed alongside one another. A place where an eldar is free to express emotions as humans is allowed some sense of freedom." She said.
Rodemman agreed. The things that he was seeing were more than enough for the Imperium to send an exterminatus fleet towards Fonral that was practically defenseless without its own fleet. Still, he had long crossed the often obscured line that separated the faithful from the heretic. And he was more than happy that he did, something that he would've never thought would feel back when he was still among the ranks of the Twenty-Seventh Kallidian. A smile graced his face as he looked at the woman beside him.
"I'm glad that I can witness this." He said as their hands intertwined.
The guardsman was in the process of getting lost in the eldar's eyes when a cough snapped him back to reality. With a tint of red adorning his cheeks, he turned behind him only to see the light warrior standing staring at them. His shuriken catapult was slung behind his shoulders as he waved at them.
"Are you two lovebirds finished? I still have to return to my post. The orks won't be waiting for me for them to attack us you know." The still anonymous light warrior said.
The two gave an embarrass nod and followed their guide up the stairs and into a massive building. Even as Rodemman entered through a pair of automatic glass doors, something that was new to him and passed the various unknown and new sights to him, he paid it no mind. Instead, his mind swam because he and Uelesh never released each other's hands while they walked side by side. He only realized that that they were in some sort of hospital as they passed nurses and doctors in white healer's robes, patients and visitors. All of whom were staring at them with others nodding in approval, presumably of their blatant display of affection.
The light warrior led them through the hallways, often times sharing a brief greeting with a passing patient, both eldar and human.
They must be his injured comrades. Rodemman thought.
It didn't take long for them to reach a room along a wide corridor overlooking the hospital's entrance. A pair of what he assumed to be guardsmen was guarding the door but their armor was unfamiliar to Rodemman in exception to the recon helmet that one of them wore as some of Roliter's men had them. The two quickly saw them and one of the two, the guard with the knightly helmet moved to intercept them.
"Knight, I have brought the two individuals that have appeared by the outer eastern walls as instructed." Their chaperone said earning a nod from the guard."
"Thank you, light warrior. You may now return to your post and rejoin your unit. I thank you for your efforts in defending our fair city and our planet." The knight said before saluting their light warrior guide.
The eldar reciprocated before patting his back. He was surprised to hear that it was a woman behind the helmet. He was under the impression that only men could be knighted as said by a knight from some family of a feudal world. His attitude may be insufferable but the knight did had the skills to back it up.
"Only men can be knighted as women tend to our homes and our children. It's that simple." The knight said.
If ever he learns of this, the guardsman was sure that the knight wouldn't take it so kindly. That was if he still lives.
"I wish you good luck my friend." With that, he went on his way to return to his fellow soldiers.
Rodemman watched the light warrior's back as he moved with the usual grace of an eldar. It still felt very weird to him to watch an eldar salute. But it's one of the things that shows how intertwined the humans and eldar are in Fonral.
"Now then, may I ask for your names." It was not a question nor a request but an order.
But before he could even speak up his partner spoke on his behalf.
"I am Me'a Ohtar Uelesh Brightforge and this is Lieutenant Rodemman Luludilius, we are under the command of Warlock Uldereth although Rodemman here was attached to the fourth platoon of the Two Hundred and Third City Defense Regiment." Uelesh explained.
"Fourth platoon...I see." Rodemman watched as the knight glanced back to her companion.
The guard with the recon helmet must've been talking through the vox inside the helmet. The guard then nodded and soon they were ushered in the room.
"Do something stupid, and I'll shove my powersword up your ass." The knight threatened him just before the wooden door closed behind him.
Rodemman shivered. There was no doubt in her voice that she wouldn't hesitate to keep her promise and somehow, he had the feeling that she might be into those sorts of things. Redirecting his focus, he was greeted by a surprisingly cozy room. The white walls and wooden floorboards were still present but there were signs that it has been occupied unlike the other rooms that he had entered in Fonral so far.
A rectangular center table was flanked by a pair of long couches. There was a shelf on the right, full of various books. Potted plants were placed on the four corners of the room. A simple wooden table sat facing them, a pair of archs were carved into its center. But the most noteworthy was the woman who sat behind it.
Her chin rested on clasp hands as her long blonde hair fell wavily behind her. The woman's sharp blue eyes looked at him, studied him as if he was prey and her as the hunter. The white robes with golden trims clung to her form, showing her fit body but somehow retaining its original conservative appearance. She was nothing short of beautiful if Rodemman may say.
Uelesh stepped forward. Rodemman noticed how she seemed to like taking the lead today. He didn't mind after all, she was the native and him the immigrant. The eldar then saluted. She gave him a subtle glance telling him to do the same and so he did.
The woman nodded and they both dropped into a relaxed stance.
"Good day Lady Arch. I am Me'a Ohtar Uelesh Brightforge and this is Lieutenant Rodemman Luludilius. We were told that you have summoned us." Uelesh said.
"Yes that is true light warrior. But first, I believe that I better formally introduce myself first seeing that your partner seemed to be out of the loop."
Both stared at Rodemman. He smiled but only managed a stiff smirk. Lady Arch snorted before continuing.
"I am Lady Silvy Arch, matriarch of House Arch and councilwoman of the Fonralian Council. I am also the Minister of Medecine and thus handle everything in relation to the general management and development of our medical facilities, treatments and the likes. But of course, an old woman like me can only do so much thus I have subordinates who manage the individual hospitals and medical facilities throughout Fonral."
He nodded in understanding. He was surprised though that there was a designated role for such task. In Kallidia, the management of hospitals and medical equipment solely falls under to the individuals who own it. Only during emergencies such as a natural calamity or invasion, was the duty of managing it is transferred to the planetary governor to be used however he sees fit. Because of this, hospitals tend to be biased in terms of who they treated as well as the equipment and manner of treatment often varies.
He blinked at her several times before it dawned to him. Rejuvenation treatment. He was unsure how such age altering method had reached an isolated world but he left it at that. Her eyes narrowed at them.
"Let's hear what happened." Silvy Arch said.
Rodemman and Uelesh then went on to explain the events that had transpired. From the briefing that Warlock Uldereth gave them up to how they defeated the black werewolf. They also recounted how they found an underground network of tunnels which they used to escape the orks that had pursued them after the fight with the deadly creature. Of course, the two left out the more personal parts of the night.
Lady Arch questioned them a few times during their explanation and would write down the answer. Most of her questions revolve around the werewolf that they fought, its appearance and combat capabilities.
"Alright. I have one last inquiry. Have you had any word in regards to the retreating forces of Yavin?" She asked.
"No Lady Arch. Aside from what we have heard from our fellow soldiers, none. Last time we saw them was before our departure to our area of operations. They were just preparing to move out at that time." Rodemman said earning an exasperated sigh from the noblewoman.
He noticed a slight change in her expression. It was a split second of fear and sadness but was soon masterfully concealed under a curtain of iron.
"That is all that I wish to ask."
The councilwoman produced a slip of paper behind her table and handed it to Uelesh. The eldar eyed it questioningly. As a result, Rodemman leaned over to see what was written on it.
A permission slip for leave?
"Before you go on your merry way, be sure to head over the testing labs to see if you have suffered any injuries. But as I see it, you're as fit as anyone can be." Silvy Arch promptly returned to her duties by again, producing a pile of documents seemingly out of the small drawers of her desk.
"Wait. Lady Arch, if we're fit for combat then why are we being relieved of our duties?" Uelesh asked, her voice rising slightly.
"We can't just sit around watching our fellow soldiers fight and die. We have a war in our gates!"
It was unusual for her to do so especially to someone who was practically her superior officer. But she does have a point and he shared the same sentiments.
"While I appreciate your concern and want to defend our home, I must reiterate that as the Minister of Medicine it is my duty to ensure that our soldiers are physically ready as they are mentally. Everyone who was in Yavin, more so those who was in Captain Vitedius's platoon and those who reinforced it suffered not only physical injuries but as well as scarred minds. Even those who claimed to not have been bothered by the events there showed some signs of trauma." Lady Arch explained.
Uelesh opened her mouth, about to rebuke her but was silenced by the noblewoman's words.
"Also, I said "as fit as anyone can be" not fit for battle. I believe that the latter is still up for debate."
The eldar clamped her mouth shut but it was obvious that she was not pleased with it. Rodemman doesn't know why Uelesh did a full turn in her attitude but something was definitely wrong.
"Every civilian that came from Yavin are currently being observed, both to aid them if needed as well as to detect any signs of Chaos corruption. Military personnel are of no difference. Those who are able to walk but are still deemed unfit for combat are given ample time to recuperate. Fonral does not need soldiers who will crack in the eve of battle."
"We will not crack, Lady Arch. I have been through worse than these orks and that goes for Rodemman as well." She replied coldly as her brows furrowed.
"I am aware. A former banshee turned artisan and an Imperial defector. Not that I have any qualms about you changing your path. Still, quite the interesting pair that you are."
This caused Rodemman to narrow his eyes upon the older woman.
"I defected because I know that the Imperium's ways are flawed, not just because I did so in a whim." He answered back much to his surprise.
It was not his intention to speak, he was content with allowing Uelesh doing it for him. But the manner how she spoke of his defection did not settle well with him.
"I didn't break my oath as an Imperial guardsman. I didn't turn my back on my people. The only thing that I betrayed is the false ideals and thinking of a rotting Imperium. I turned my back on the leaders who throws human lives as if it was garbage." He found himself continuing despite his earlier reaction to himself.
His voice echoed within the confines of the lady's study. Silence was all he heard and for a moment, he could've sworn that he saw a glint in the woman's eyes.
"Fair enough, guardsman. But the doctor's order still stands. You two are to be relieved of combat duties for a week. Use this time to do whatever you wish, enjoy the markets of Yau'le or visit your families."
He saw by the corner of his eye Uelesh flinch when Silvy Arch mentioned visiting families.
"Everyone knows how resilient Fonralians are and I believe that you have seen how its business as usual even if the orks is knocking on our gates."
The door burst open revealing the armor clad woman that guarded the room.
"Lady Arch, we have a situation."
Without a word, she stood up from her desk and moved towards her knight.
"You two are dismissed. And don't even think about going to the armory for some equipment. Your names are marked in our database."
A flash of something metallic caught Rodemman's eye as her robes parted slightly. A muzzle of a bolt pistol came into view before disappearing under her robes. The door creaked to a close leaving the two inside the room. In his case though, a confused and disoriented guardsman. A few moments passed before a sigh emanated from his partner.
Rodemman recoiled at her choice of words.