Chapter Seven

Against the odds

It came from a hellish dimension where mortal souls were playthings of evil gods.

A red, massive, and angry hulk of flesh and sinew. It was at least ten meters in height with humongous bat-like wings sprouting from its back and two blazing horns atop its head. The creature's only piece of clothing was a belt made of bronze and it wielded an ornated axe larger than weapons mounted on Ork walkers.

A Bloodthirster, introducing itself as Executioner of Khorne.

This one had laid foot on the planet many millennia before the current events. Back then, it had brought untold bloodshed and driven the original Aeldari inhabitants from the temple never to return ever since.

Now the wait was over.

Now was the time.

The Executioner of Khorne had returned to finish what it started.

Upon arrival, it claimed its first victim in millennia by crushing the gurgling Weirdboy – the one so desperate to prevent its summoning - to paste, all except the head still cackling with untamed psychic energies. It took no relish in the act of slaying a hapless foe. It wanted more.

Luckily, there were a handful of Adventurers who, unwittingly, summoned it into real-space in the first place through the slaying of the Orks and spilling their blood all over the ritual floor.

"Blessed Emperor," Hospitaller muttered feebly as a fresh sense of terror overtook her, freezing her in place.

"You are not a Gretchin," Gretchin Slayer remarked. He took a deep sigh. "I did not sign up for this."

Though his words carried conviction, his voice betrayed a sense of uncertainty. Not afraid, rather concerned. During his years of service, this was the first time he had come face-to-face with a Daemon of the Warp – such enemies were rare and usually requiring very specialized units to deal with. That being said, he knew well enough that the Forces of Chaos could summon Daemons and he knew the four Ruinous Powers and what they stood for – the rest was up to his deductions.

The nonchalant comment drew a pause among all those present, followed by varying thoughts.

To Hospitaller, it was a testament to Astartes courage that he was showed no intimidation or any sign of being swayed by the turn of event, only annoyed that his query turned out to be a giant monster instead of the Gretchins, his preferred enemy.

To Aeldari Ranger, her father's hypothesis had been proven. Normally, a Space Marine gained additional body mass both directly from the supplementary organs as well as from the strict diet that was adopted immediately following the implantation. According to her father, the torso and limbs grew exponentially in size but the head remained pretty much the same, resulting in more energy used to maintain functions of the body and less into complex thoughts. This ultimately caused the Space Marines to enter a state of constant mental breakdown which could only be mitigated by constantly purging those who they deem unclean – a phenomenon commonly coined as "Tiny head syndrome".

To Malleus Inquisitor, the Red Scar's Hunt culture might be beyond just obsession and fanaticism. Any evidence of deviation, no matter how slight, among the Adeptus Astartes would never fail to catch his interest. After all, every heresy must have a beginning, and that could be anything from using forbidden technology to complaining about a leg issue that prevented one from bowing before the statue of Emperor of Man.

To Tech-priest Dominus, the revelation that Gretchin Slayer was ill-prepared to face a daemon was to be expected given the equipment he carried and his combat style so far, but detrimental, nevertheless. If his calculations were correct, the Adventurers would have less than five-percent chance of making out alive, let alone preventing the daemon from leaving the temple and spread carnage to this world.

To Executioner of Khorne, while it was pleased that its would-be victims didn't run crying the moment it showed up like the Aeldari thousands of years ago, the fact it had been compared to lowly Gretchins incited a vehement response.

"YOU DARE MOCK ME, MORTAL?" the Daemon bellowed, its thunderous voice causing the whole chamber to vibrate.

If there was any hope that the Bloodthirster would be distracted, like generic villains in stories, by mere talking for long enough so that Malleus Inquisitor could come up with a plan (it was his job to fight Daemons, after all), that didn't last long. No sooner had Gretchin Slayer took up a defensive stance than the Greater Daemon came flying into him at maximum speed, clearly intent on crushing him to death under its weight rather than using the axe. Most Space Marines would have perished then and there, turned into mash inside their own Power Armor, but Gretchin Slayer's more advanced Vanguard model allowed him to slid across the blood-stained floor as the Daemon passed over him.

The Bloodthirster rammed into the wall, causing a section to collapse and debris to fall onto it. The temple was extremely old but the ancient Aeldari had constructed it remarkably well despite the lack of advanced technology; despite all the damages it had taken, the chamber as a whole stood. Uninjured but enraged by its prey's audacious maneuver, the Daemon turned to set its sights on the Adventurers and readied itself for another go.

"YOU WON'T GET SO LUCKY NEXT TIME, SCUM!" Executioner of Khorne barked furiously as it took off on its wings. "I WILL END YOU ALL. AND THEN I WILL END ALL LIVES ON THIS MISERABLE WORLD!"

The Daemon's mishap raised the hope of the Adventurers: there was no telling if they had the means to kill it yet, but if it was susceptible to folly and hubris like any human, then there had to be a way to exploit them.

Aeldari Ranger was the first to open fire with her long-rifle. A second later, Tech-priest Dominus joined in, hurling searing plasma balls at the Daemon. The Bloodthirster tanked the las fire which only caused minimum damage while evading the plasma projectiles with an amount of agility unimaginable for a creature so large. With a loud roar, the Daemon soared to the air just below the ceiling and prepared to deliver a devasting strike with its huge axe.

Gretchin Slayer took a step back and briefly drew out a plan. Even when fighting alongside his Chapter, he, as a Vanguard Space Marine, most of the time operated apart and with considerable independence from not only other units but also within his own unit. A Tactical squad would be given constant orders by their leader at every move to ensure maximum efficiency, but Vanguard Space Marines were different. Gretchin Slayer unit would be assigned a particular task, and all members must be able to contribute their insights on how to best achieve it and what role would they play in doing so. Vanguard squads, therefore, effectively had no leader to tell them around or make decisions for them.

Observation, analysis, being quick on the uptake, and even creativity in applying the knowledge from the Codex Astartes, these were all qualities expected of them.

Coordination, obedience, camaraderie, and social skills, these were qualities considered secondary.

From what Gretchin Slayer could see, it was clear that the axe the Bloodthirster wielded was suitable for slaying larger targets like tanks, walkers and other Greater Daemons. Using it on Adventurers was like smashing Gretchins with power fists, not to mention the difficulty in swinging a weapon of such monumental size inside this chamber without hitting walls and ceiling. The Bloodthirster made the right choice of not using it, but still holding on at the cost of having one fewer free hand. Adding this, the weight of the axe was destabilizing its balance.

Negligence? No.

Mental attachment to the weapon? Perhaps.

Another use for the axe? Highly likely.

The contemplation would have taken minutes on normal men but Gretchin Slayer processed within a second. "Hospitaller, do it," he said to the still-dumbfounded girl. "Blind it."

At the Space Marine's words, Hospitaller snapped out of her stupor. She nodded and began to chant. "Oh, Blessed Emperor. Shine our path so we never lose our way even in the depth of darkness. Let us bath in Your radiance. Holy Light!"

Yellow beams of light burst from Hospitaller's staff and filled into the chamber, as bright as the sun itself and coruscating brilliantly on all the fresh blood on the floor. The Bloodthirster was half-way downward when it was struck and repelled, forced to abort the attack and remained in the air on flapping wings.

"WHAT SORCERY IS THIS?" Executioner of Khorne demanded. In addition to being blind, it found not only its eyes but also its skin boiling under the intense light.

Aeldari Ranger and Malleus Inquisitor watched the scene with awe. Like all the other Acts of Faith - the Adeptus Sororitas beseeching of blessings from the Emperor - Holy Light worked only one way and had no ill effect on allies.

"Damn, girl," said Malleus Inquisitor as he too regained his composure from coping with his failure. "That's some trick you've got there. No wonder Beardshredder here decided to have you in the party."

"Hey, airhead," Aeldari Ranger admonished. "Less talking and more fighting, please."

The shooting continued with Malleus Inquisitor drew a laspistol and added to the firepower. Gretchin Slayer stood in preparedness for the Daemon's next move but did not take on an offensive stance – he knew all of his available weapons were of little use against such monstrosity and didn't want to waste precious munition. Even in its distracted state, the Daemon was as fast as it was tough. Laser rounds made impacts without causing any noticeable damage while plasma projectiles were expertly dodged.

Executioner of Khorne had had enough. Though a little challenge was always a good thing to test out and improve its skills, defeat was not an option. Furthermore, it would be a great embarrassment to both itself and its master for losing to opponents that made use of dishonorable magic arts.

Gathering its strength, the Greater Daemon launched itself directly towards who it considered the individual which it identified as the current greatest threat whom it didn't even register at first: the human priestess. Tech-priest Dominus who had struggled to land a single hit so far took advantage of the Daemon's new predictable movement pattern to calculate where he should place his shots. Designed specifically to deal with heavily-armored soldiers, the plasma cannon would have profound effects on the Bloodthirster despite its unnatural origin and constitution.

Unable to dodge during its descent, the Bloodthirster had no choice but to grin and bear it as the superheat substance scorched away unholy flesh and vaporized the thick, oil-like substance it had for blood. It would be worth it, the Daemon told itself. The wounds would heal in time and the Adventurers, as far as it could see, didn't have the means to kill it outright. All the pain it suffered now would be child's play to what it had in store for these daring Adventurers once it had them firmly in its hands.

Still in the middle of her channeling, Hospitaller was fully unprepared.

From above, the Daemon descended like a giant wrecking ball with the intention to crush the girl beneath its weight.

Gretchin Slayer was on the move, his second heart kicking in as a surge of adrenaline was pumped into his bloodstream. If calculations were correct, he would be too late. If acting purely on instincts, he would take cover and allow the girl to meet her fate.

Not that he was fond of either calculations or instinct to begin with.

The human girl gasped as another body ran into her and tossed them both aside. A brief moment later,….


True to its unnatural strength which was disproportionate with its already huge size, the Bloodthirster made its landing with the force of a meteor, causing a seismic shock that saw the whole temple tremble but not collapse. So violent was the impact that it splattered blood-soaked dirt, dust and dead Ork bodies across the chamber.

Hospitaller was mostly safe, much to her surprise, despite being flung across the chamber. Had her savior come a second too late, she would have been liquified. Moreover, her frail body could have easily sustained significant injuries, if not outright demise, from the shockwave alone had her savior not shielded her with their own body.

"You… should not have done that," she whispered to her savior.

"I guess… we are even," said the Aeldari as she took in labored breaths.

Compared to Hospitaller, Aeldari Ranger was in much worse shape. By taking the impact of both the shockwave and the landing to herself and absorbing the human girl's share of damage, she had effectively removed herself from the fight. Both her arms and at least one of her legs were broken. Her back was a mess and she was bleeding profusely from her nose and mouth. Hospitaller felt the warm liquid running on her fingers and cheeks as she embraced the broken Aeldari girl, feeling the frail body sagging and her breathing becoming more laborious. Asuryani Ranger was beginning to lose consciousness.

"Stay with me," Hospitaller teared up as she panicked to tend to her fallen ally. After what had transpired on her very first day in combat, Hospitaller had made it the purpose of her being to prevent as many faithful deaths as she could. Though the Aeldari wouldn't pass for a faithful with her pagan ways (which Hospitaller still was uncomfortable with), every life dedicated to the Emperor or assisting someone in service to the Emperor was precious. "You did not have to do it. Why did you…?"

The Aeldari had already fainted.

Gretchin Slayer had indeed miscalculated. He had not counted on any of his comrades which he had known for only a day to put themselves into harm's way to save Hospitaller (he didn't even count on himself to do something like that). All three seemed the pragmatic type, much like himself – which was why he was willing to tag along in the first place.

Perhaps Aeldari Ranger had come to the realization that Hospitaller's skillset could prove highly useful against the Bloodthirster. Perhaps she was simply overconfident in her ability and didn't expect to be taken out of the fight completely because of the maneuver. Or perhaps there was something between the two of them that Gretchin Slayer failed to understand.

Whichever the case, that was one member down, only four left.

Gretchin Slayer had put himself dangerously close to the impact point when the Bloodthirster finally landed and was thrown ten feet back as a result. Graviton stabilizer unit on his power armor kicked in and, despite rolling a few times in midair, Gretchin Slayer landed on his feet unharmed aside from concussion from the intense vibration.

Both Malleus Inquisitor and Tech-priest Dominus were still on their feet. Neither was close enough to the impact.

The Bloodthirster was making a recovery as Tech-priest Dominus continued his relentless barrage of plasma. Without Holy Light from Hospitaller, there was nothing to deter it. It brought its huge axe to bear.

"Watch out," Gretchin Slayer cried out. "Get down, Tech-priest."

The Vanguard Space Marine could only watch as the axe came flying through the air towards the Tech-priest, no doubt identified by the Bloodthirster as the current most valuable target. Either the warning had come too late or Tech-priest Dominus was simply incapable of such action due to his spider legs, no drastic effort was undertaken to evade. The axe cleaved him clean in half at the waist before hitting a section of the wall and being embedded into it. Both parts of Tech-priest Dominus fell to the floor, motionless and powering down.

Two down, three left.

"Die scum!" Malleus Inquisitor charged into the monstrosity, eager to make up for his mistake and avenge his comrade. "For the Emperor!"

A foolish decision. Gretchin Slayer thought.

Malleus Inquisitor swung his Daemon Hammer crackling with psychic energies. Had it connected, the damage might have been severe, for force weapon like this was specifically designed to bring down the largest of foe in a single blow. As it turned out, however, the Bloodthirster was still as deadlier as ever in such a state and without its weapon. Free to make use of both its hands now that the weapon had been released from its grasp, the creature reached down and out with one of its fists almost as large as the Inquisitor himself. The punch sent the old man into the opposite wall, dropping his hammer in the process.

Malleus Inquisitor trailed down the wall and dropped to the floor unconscious. He was still alive. A psychic barrier had been created at the last moment, absorbing the full brunt of the blow instead of letting the body take it. Without it, Malleus Inquisitor would have been pulverized by the punch alone. A second barrier was then erected just as his body was about to hit the wall, also helping to reduce the impact. The old man was full of tricks, but it would be insufficient against the Bloodthirster.

Three down, two left.

Then Gretchin Slayer realized Hospitaller had already used two Acts of Faith during this engagement, one to save Asuryani Ranger back then (rather unnecessarily), and one to distract the Bloodthirster just now. Despite his lack of knowledge in how the Sisters of Battle channeled their faith into actual powers, he was certain Hospitaller told that two was her maximum limit for one day. Without her miracles, the fragile girl had no reason to be in combat.

That means I am the only one left. Gretchin Slayer thought grimly.

The Bloodthirster could have pressed the advantage and proceeded with its mad charges as it did at the beginning, and Gretchin Slayer might not have had time to think about his next move. Yet, like any honorable warrior when his opponents numbered in one, it halted for a moment to take a better look at Gretchin Slayer - the final adversary and the only thing standing between it and total victory. Such hubris could be punished if there were only any means to do so.

"GIVE IT UP ALREADY, PUNY HUMAN?" the Daemon asked.

"No," Gretchin Slayer replied blankly. "I think I will keep fighting."


"Come at me then, and we will see," Gretchin Slayer taunted.


Bare-fisted and roaring, the Daemon came at Gretchin Slayer. It moved at a slower pace than before, partly because of the injuries but mostly in order to better react to any maneuver by its undoubtedly crafty foe. In response, Gretchin Slayer stood like a statue, his glowing red eyes staring deep at the daemon's.

"Sir Gretchin Slayer, watch out!" Hospitaller cried.

The Daemon threw its punch just as Gretchin Slayer launched a grappling spear into the chamber's ceiling. The strike shook the temple and left a sizeable hole on the floor, the one it was meant for had zipped up just in the nick of time. Driven into a fury, the Bloodthirster stretched its already tattered and overburdened wing and pursuit.


As the Daemon gathered speed in its ascension, Gretchin Slayer detached himself from the wire connecting him to the ceiling and dropped down. The Bloodthirster was unprepared and allowed its prey to slip away once more, mere inches away from its grasp. Gravitation unit kicked it again and Gretchin Slayer landed safely on his feet despite falling from over twenty meters while wearing power armor. Despite limited aerial movement, Gretchin Slayer knew he had the advantage of being smaller and lighter, which meant he was less affected by inertia than the far bulkier Daemon.

The infuriated Daemon came down once more, but Gretchin Slayer had already fired another lance. The Daemon landed just as the Red Scar took to the air. As he predicted, for all its prowess and expertise in close-quarter combat, the Bloodthirster was ill-prepared for a game of cat and mouse.

"TURN BACK AND FIGHT ME, COWARD!" the Daemon furiously barked. It turned its infernal gaze towards Hospitaller who was still busy treating Asuryani Ranger. "DO YOU WANT THAT GIRL TO SUFFER MY WRATH IN YOUR PLACE?"

"Leave her out of this, daemon scum," Gretchin Slayer hissed. "You want a fight? Pick a warrior as your opponent."

The Bloodthirster steadied itself for its next leap. "IF YOU ARE A WARRIOR, THEN FACE ME WITH WHAT YOU'VE GOT!"

"I won't run this time," Gretchin Slayer proclaimed. "I swear it upon my soul."


As expected, the Bloodthirster launched itself directly at Gretchin Slayer who, for the first time in many months, muttered a prayer to the Emperor. As a Primaris Marine, the new generation of Adeptus Astartes, he had believed his devotion to the Emperor was better displayed through actual deeds than empty words and thoughts which any lesser mortal could do as well as a superhuman Space Marine. The Red Scar might have been his adopter, but his initial training, indoctrination and biological processes of becoming a Space Marines were mostly conducted by the Adeptus Mechanicus, for they held the technology required to create Primaris Marines which his Chapter had not yet gotten used to yet. Very little supervision was put into during this time – the Adeptus Mechanicus wasn't keen on letting others pry into their secrets. As a result, while not being fully converted into the cult of the Omnissiah like the Techmarines, Gretchin Slayer adopted a more secular, logic-driven point of view that persisted after he returned to his Chapter as a full-fledged Astartes, much to the disapproval of the Chaplains who regularly chastised him for the lack of faith. Under the circumstance, however, Gretchin Slayer reluctantly admitted the shortcoming of his ideology in dealing with certain situations.

Such as dealing with a horrific opponent that logically shouldn't be existing.

Such as being put into a situation where he faced an insurmountable odd.

In a time like this, faith in Emperor gave him the comfort and confidence he so desperately. All the planning and deception had come to this. Now it was time for the execution.

As the Bloodthirster flew up, Gretchin Slayer fulfilled his promise detached and let gravity take him to exactly where the Daemon was. In its moment of triumphant, the Bloodthirster didn't notice what he was carrying in his hands until it was too late.

"Eat this." Gretchin Slayer shoved the Weirdboy's decapitated head at the daemon.

The fizzling residual of energy inside the head suddenly intensified before blossoming in full force. The two malevolent energies, greenish Orkish and reddish daemonic, met as violently as hydrogen and oxygen, each rejecting one another and each striving for supremacy. Their battle was spectacular. All of this was happening inside the Bloodthirster's throat, much to its detriment.


Wracked by the pain which destabilized its whole existence, the daemon screeched as it fell to the floor. This time, it choked and sputtered, struggling to even get onto its feet.

Gretchin Slayer landed next to the flailing daemon. He wasn't sure whether this would work, but it was his last chance – their last chance. The gambit had paid off.

"Use the hammer, Beardshredder," Malleus Inquisitor called out gruffly as he shakily pulled himself together.

Gretchin Slayer grabbed the Daemon Hammer dropped earlier by Malleus Inquisitor when the Bloodthirster swatted him aside. It was similar to the thunder hammer used by the Adeptus Astartes except it could be further enhanced by its user psychic power, allowing the weapon to inflict damage both physically and spiritually. Like the head earlier, there was enough residual psychic energy left that the weapon remained operational and sizzling with electrical discharges despite being wielded by a non-psyker.

"ARGHHH! HOW….DARE….YOU!" the daemon screeched.

"You are truly an annoyance," said the Astartes. "But not as much as some of the Gretchins I've faced."


The Bloodthirster rose, only to receive a hammer blow to the head, pounding it to the floor again. Not letting his foe recover, Gretchin Slayer raised and struck.




And again.


Gretchin Slayer lost count how many blows he delivered. He wasn't aware the daemon was already dead – he had no idea how daemons' physiology worked. This time, he was taking no chance.

There was also the satisfaction in the act, something he had not felt for a long time. Gretchin Slayer assumed it was the daemon's aura messing with his minds and driving him into a murderous rage, not unlike the daemon's itself. Like an invisible hand, aura had been there from the very beginning and it got only stronger when the Bloodthirster was summoned into the material realm. Or perhaps this was his intent all along, motivated by pride and the glee to bring death to the enemies of the Emperor. Gretchin Slayer had never taken any pride in killing Gretchins before.

He raised and struck until all that was left of Executioner of Khorne's head was a bloody pulp.

To Hospitaller's immense joy, and Asuryani Ranger's perplex, Tech-priest Dominus had also survived the ordeal despite getting cut in half. He went on to explain that the damage was by no means superficial with more than half his original functions lost and a further third of his remaining having to be shut down due to running on secondary batteries which would expire within ten hours if continuing. Not that any of his comrades fully understood what he was talking about the whole time, but Gretchin Slayer agreed to carry his upper part back to the Mechanicus shrine where he could undergo some repairs. The Adventurer's Guild also offered its own mechanic workshop, but Tech-priest Dominus insisted on a proper Omnissiah-blessed facility. The lower part had to be left behind for the time being; most likely a quest would be posted asking for its recovery.

Their objective completed (sort of), the Adventurers made their leave from the temple. Gretchin Slayer had wanted to perform another sweep to ensure none of the Orks and Gretchins was still alive, but his opinion was rebuked by the four weary Adventurers who were in no condition to fight. He relented, and so they departed. With the Bloodthirster destroyed, the malefic aura that permeated the hallways had all but evaporated, allowing the Adventures to depart without further issue.

As they crossed the entrance, the party halted at the sight of about ten or so Exodite Aeldari waiting for them outside. The aliens were armed mostly with bows and spears, even less sophisticated than those of the Orks, yet exotic-looking and highly ornated. Having seen how effectively Gretchin Slayer can put outdated weapons to use, the party knew not to underestimate their crudeness as they approached the Exodites, wary for any sign of hostility. On this world, despite hundreds of years living together, humans and Aeldari were only able to coexist as long as they stayed away from each other, and the known encounters (at least from human perspectives) had been with varied outcomes.

"By Asurya's grace, we have come in peace," Asuryani Ranger called out. "We bring no hostility and expect the same from you."

"If you are upset about us entering your temple," said Malleus Inquisitor smartly. "Then perhaps you should be really pissed off about what the Orks were doing in there. We took care of them. That's got to earn some points, right?"

"We wish you no harm," declared an Aeldari who appeared to be the leader. The person was male and wore the skull of an animal with larger antlers over his face. Unlike Asuryani Ranger, his voice was coarse and lacked the melodic quality, likely the result of age. "Please, do not hesitate to step forward."

"If this is a trap," warned Gretchin Slayer, "know that I have already devised at least six ways to kill you all without any loss on my side." Despite his strong words, he showed no sign of ostensible hostility. Then again, a Space Marine was capable of perceiving and reacting to anything many times faster than a normal human.

"That would not be necessary," the elder responded to the threat coolly. "In fact, we are in your debt. That temple has been tainted by the daemon for so very long. So many fell, yet we only managed to seal it away. Generations passed and we live in fear that it would one day return to. That fear has followed us for circles beyond counting. But now it is finally over. The daemon has met its final end and we may now reclaim this temple in the name of Earth Mother and Father of the Hunt."

"You are welcome," said Gretchin Slayer uninterested.

"Splendid," chirped Malleus Inquisitor. "It seems our effort here wasn't wasted at all."

"Great… I mean, uhm…," Hospitaller stuttered in her words. She wanted to say something nice to them, as befitted of a priestess like her, but the religion these aliens followed was too different from the Imperial Creed that just thinking about it made her uncomfortable. "Thanks,… I guess."

"We found this thing carrying the wounded girl," said the elder, pointing to a pitiful heap of scrap metal that was once the Rustsalker dispatched by Tech-Priest Dominus. That the Exodite managed to take it down lent some credibility to the deadliness of their primitive weaponry. "We appreciate your help, but we deem it best for the girl to be in our care. Know that we tried to negotiate peacefully for the handling at first. When it refused, we had no choice but to resort to more forceful methods."

Having spent much time with the Mechanicus, Gretchin Slayer had fully expected a harsh scolding from Tech-priest Dominus for the destruction of one of his precious creation. However, the tech-priest's response was the exact opposite.

"All machines can be replaced or rebuilt, and their values would not diminish," he replied. "Such is the wonder of the Omnissiah. The same thing cannot be said about flesh. To exchange what is cheap and common for what is not, irrespective of their usefulness, is always fair. The damage doesn't seem too severe. Estimated time required to put Rustalker back into condition: seventeen hours. Estimated time required to put self back together: fifteen hours. Conclusion: by the day after tomorrow, whatever transgression occurring today will be reversed."

"Thank you for your forgiveness," said the elder, slightly unnerved at talking to the detached upper half of a person.

"How is she?" asked Hospitaller. "The girl."

"Her injuries are grave, but no longer life-threating," said the elder. "We saw that she had received a very considerate treatment. Your healer did a marvelous job. Without you, she would not have survived. Once again, you have our gratitude."

"Isha be thanked," Asuryani Ranger breathed, feeling the weight disappearing from her chest.

"Sorry for the mess in there," said Malleus Inquisitor, remembering the state of the main chamber when the party left with fallen debris and Ork body pieces all over the place. As a pious follower of the Holy God-Emperor, he understood the rage one would feel seeing their place of worship so horrifically defiled. "Couldn't help it. You might need to clean it up before anything else."

"That we will manage," the elder assured. "We shall take over the temple from here if you don't mind. Or is there anything we should be concerned about?"

Malleus Inquisitor crackled. "Not at all. Just don't send us the bill for the damage and we are good to go."

"Not yet," noted Tech-priest Dominus. "My lower half is still inside. We lack the facility and willingness to extract it at the moment. Within the next couple of days, a recovery team will arrive, with or without me. I do hope the salvaging will encounter no difficulty at that point."

"We can... uh... arrange that," said the elder uneasily. Though he had regularly conversed with souls of the dead that now dwelled within the planet's spiritual realm, talking to someone clearly alive despite looking quite dead was a whole new experience for him.

"My thanks," Tech-priest Dominus replied.

"Anyway, you all must be worn from the fight," said the elder. "Allow us to provide you with the ride back. It's the least we could do to repay your actions here."

"That's very generous of you." Hospitaller bowed in gratitude at the mentioning of transportation. The fight had taken much of her energy away, both physically and mentally, and she wasn't sure how long or how far she could support the injured Asuryani Ranger.

"Beats walking, I guess," said Gretchin Slayer insouciantly. "Let's go."

The five Adventurers (or four and a half given the current state of Tech-priest Dominus) got inside the wagon along with the remnant of the Ruststalker as the horses began to pull. There was no coachman; the Exodite elder said the horses were borrowed from an Imperial staple close to the town where the Adventurer's Guild was and they were trained to follow specific paths without fail, traveling between Exodite colonies and Imperial territory from time to time. It was a way of making exchanges between human and Aeldari communities without ever coming face to face.

"Shoving that Ork psyker's head into the throat of the daemon," Malleus Inquisitor chuckled in his remark. "That was a stroke of genius. Pure genius."

"I must agree," Tech-priest Dominus added. "That was beyond my expectation."

"That's how you brought it down, Orkbolg?" Asuryani Ranger inquired. Though she claimed she could walk on her own, Hospitaller insisted on supporting her, which the Aeldari ultimately complied with. "The daemon. Is that how you kill it?"

"That only weakened it," Gretchin Slayer pointed out. "It was the hammer that finished the job. Good weapon, by the way." Malleus Inquisitor gave a wide smirk and a thump up at the compliment. "As for the trick, I only got lucky it was lying around. Without it, I doubt any of us would have made it out with our lives."

"We Aeldari do not believe in luck," Asuryani Ranger smiled. "Only in fate."

"Such sentiment is something we share," Malleus Inquisitor assented. "Beardshredder, surely the Emperor was watching on us this day."

"Perhaps that as well," Gretchin Slayer nodded.

"Have faith, sir Gretchin Slayer," Hospitaller encouraged. "Your actions back then were exemplary. The Emperor is proud to have such a servant."

"So, is this what you would call an adventure?" asked Malleus Inquisitor. "Since Pointy-ears, Ironscale and myself are new to this sort of business, we look forward to you two veterans sharing your wisdom with us from now on."

"Can you interrogate him later?" complained Asuryani Ranger as the human girl helped her lie on her back. Malleus Inquisitor had taken a bruising himself from the Bloodthirster, but his wounds were nowhere as serious as the Aeldari girl, much thanks to his psychic powers. "We just got back from a hard fight. I'm not in any mood for cramming at the moment. And let's be frank, none of us is well right now."

"She needs some rest," Hospitaller agreed. "I think we should rest until we get back."

Of all the party members, only she had gotten out physically unscathed, though her mind was strained to the limit from the activation of Acts of Faith under immense pressure. Moreover, the encounter with the daemon, an unnatural being from another dimension most humans were blissfully unaware of, had put a stain upon her soul. Malleus Inquisitor had warned her that lesser minds were corruptible simply by exposure to Chaos, much so that entire Astra Militarum regiments had to be mind-wiped or entire planetary population sterile to prevent the taint from spreading. Hospitaller didn't feel anything different now that the daemon's aura no longer bothered her but just to be sure, once she got back to the convent, she would confess her sins of being in the presence of a daemon and seek the purification ritual.

"I might also need to repair my cogitators before any new knowledge is acquired," Tech-priest Dominus stated.

Malleus Inquisitor shrugged. "Fine by me."

"The Guild gives out manuals on how things work," Gretchin Slayer explained. "Not awfully long, but quite detail and inclusive. It would be better if you just use the provided material. I do not believe any of my perspective in the matter would be more helpful than that."

With that, the wagon felt silent. Tech-priest Dominus initiate sleep-protocol which limited his senses and activities to conserve energy. Malleus Inquisitor had also taken himself a nap. Only Gretchin Slayer was on the lookout, casting a vigilant gaze at the surroundings for any threat.

"He seems very intent," Asuryani Ranger whispered to Hospitaller who was treating her wounds. "Yet, for all the respect I have for him, I still don't get it. His eyes are low. It is not Orks he is watching out for, but Gretchins. He is a Space Marine but he kills only Gretchin if he is given the choice. Does he always do this?"

Hospitaller was reminded of the conversation between Gretchin Slayer and Black Templar Crusader a few weeks ago, and how the two had remained cold to each other ever since. Though they regarded each other as cousins, there was nothing that could connect the two with the clash between Gretchin Slayer's full commitment to his specialization and Black Templar Crusader's strong adherence to his Chapter's code of honor the main reason.

"Yes, that's what he's been doing" Hospitaller smiled wryly.

"His planning, his posture, his attitude," Asuryani Ranger continued, reminiscing every moment of Gretchin Slayer she had seen so far. "All of them tell how lonely he is even when among his party, how he is uncertain whether he belongs. I can tell. We Aeldari are experts in reading emotions even if people don't express them. My guess is that he has been feeling like that and move on, mentally, for a while now.

"It does seem like it," Hospitaller agreed sadly. So focused was her on the warrior aspects of Gretchin Slayer that she wasn't aware there was a side of him that yearned for understanding. She had always viewed him as stoic and unmoving in the face of detraction, a heroic figure walking out of a storybook. She had not expected him to be actually affected by the unfavorable thoughts of others.

The Aeldari sighed, closing her eyes. "Adventurers are supposed to be exhilarating, you know what I mean. An escape from mundane businesses. A way to spend one's life without regret. A calling for greatness to come. I left the cornucopia of my Craftworld for them. I yearn for the joy of accomplishment and the thrill of discovery. I know that the Inquisitor and the Tech-priest desire the same thing, to lesser extents. As for Orkbolg, he seems completely on a different page."

"Maybe we should encourage him someday," Hospitaller suggested. "Though given he is a Space Marine, I don't think we can do much."

"I take that as a challenge," Aeldari Ranger reaffirmed herself. "One day, I will bring him along to a real adventure. I will make him feel it. And if I fail, then, as you humans are so keen on saying: The Emperor protects us all."

Hospitaller responded with a reassuring smile. Her life as an Adventurer was about to get much more interesting from now on.

Author's note: I appreciate all the support so far. I will try my best to keep this one going.

To be honest, I am not a fan of the Primaris Marines. Sure, upgrading the Space Marine is the right direction lore-wise and gameplay-wise. However, the whole lore about Primaris Marines made up by GW just feels so rush with tens of thousand Space Marines appearing out of nowhere to kick some asses. A better scenario is that the Imperium starts creating Primaris Marines at some point after the 13th Black Crusade. The Primaris corps start out small and well-integrated into existing Chapters before growing and eventually making up of entire Chapters on their own. But of course, they want to sell a bunch of new models and fear that non-Ultramarine players would be pissed that it would take a while before their beloved Chapters get Primaris of their own.

Goblin Slayer in Warhammer 40k, in my opinion, would make a good Primaris Marine. Primaris Marines are originally recruited and trained by the Mechanicus away from their Chapter, so their perspective is bound to be less restricted compared to the regular Space Marines.

So far the story has been structured somewhat similar to the LN, but there will be original arcs unrelated to the source material coming up. Hope you enjoy.