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

Upon Olympus Mons, upon the peak of a mountain so high it dared to defy the heavens and extend beyond the Martian atmosphere, shrouded in a storm of shadow and spell, two gods went to war.

With a flick of Be'lakor's wrist, the shadows around them became three-dimensional, forming into umbral steeds and scorpions of pure malice that sought to overwhelm Isha with numbers.

But before they could reach the goddess, the blades of grass came alive, forming tigers and dragons and swords, clawing, biting, and hacking away at the shadow constructs.

Isha smirked, extending a hand as a long bone spike erupted from the flesh of her palm, detaching to become a white spear. Her every step made the mountain shake as she sprinted towards Be'lakor, who responded in kind, his shadowy wings flapping behind him as he flew down to meet Isha.

They danced and duelled, their weapons clashing and ringing with such force that thunderclaps echoed across the landscape, and the mountain was reshaped around them.

A blade of crimson-black flame bit into a spear of bone, only to be doused by a shower of cleansing rain. The rainclouds were blasted against the hellfire cage by malicious winds that could rend flesh from bone, only for the winds to be halted by an impenetrable wall of stone.

Burning with cold fury, Be'lakor withdrew to a distance and spun his blade around him, shredding the very fabric of reality, space twisting and warping across the battlefield. Where there had once been one mountaintop, there were now many, as if Olympus Mons had been split into a thousand fractals, a thousand mirrors that were yet somehow real. And with each mirror came a thousand Be'lakors, each of them seeking to tear Isha apart.

Any ordinary sorcerer, even the mightiest of Greater Daemons, would have been split along with the mountaintop, their bodies torn to shreds by space itself, but not Be'lakor. This was what a true Sorcerer of Chaos was capable of, on a ritual ground they had prepared beforehand. Against almost any other enemy, it would have been more than enough.

Isha only laughed. The sorcery was abruptly halted by song, a triumphant, rising melody that was somehow beautiful and yet savage. Isha sang and danced, an ancient warsong echoing from her lips accompanied by the beat of her footsteps as the goddess used the very mountain as her instrument, the earth creaking beneath her feet.

Be'lakor and his mirrors recoiled, the force of the song blasting him backwards, as the kaleidoscope he had made of the mountain was abruptly stabilized and prevented from splitting further. The song sought to repair the fabric of reality, to hold it together, to sew the wound shut and dispel the foul sorceries of Be'lakor. But Be'lakor was not called the Dark Master for nothing, and even as Isha's warsong hammered against him, the spell did not fade.

"You cannot stop me with your petty music!" Be'lakor spat, he and his reflections jabbing their swords at Isha and sending a thousand thousand shards of shattered space hurtling at her.

But they never reached her, as a titanic hand of wood and bone erupted from the ground, swatting the shards away as if they were nothing. And then, the hand reappeared, replicating itself across every fractal as Isha turned Be'lakor's spell against him.

A thousand bonewood fists hurtled towards the First-Damned's reflections as Isha laughed again. The song she had woven had become self-sustaining, no longer needing her to support it.

"Petty is it? These are the songs I wove during the War in Heaven, when I clashed with the Yngir and their soulless slaves. I am Isha. I was ancient before Chaos was even the shadow of a thought. I warred with the star gods and their soulless legions and bested them, because it was what I was made to do. Do not think you can defeat me so easily, brat."

Be'lakor howled as the fists smashed into him over and over, the full fury of a goddess hammering away at him with the strength of creaking tectonic plates. He could feel his avatar breaking under the pressure of the fists, even as the warsong penetrated to his true self, seeking to unmake all that he was.

With a scream, he let go of the fractal spell, instead refocusing his energies. Once more, the shadows surged to life, hundreds of umbral blades erupting in a shower that cut Isha's constructs to shreds even as they themselves were destroyed in the effort.

"Not bad, not bad," Isha said, her fangs flashing in a wolfish smile.

She had truly forgotten how good this felt.

She had experienced flashes of it on Luna. A taste of what she had forgotten.

But it couldn't compare to the real thing.

For the first time in aeons, she was unshackled. Nothing held her back. Not the Emperor's command, not Asuryan's Edict.

Not her own fear.

There was simply Isha. The thrill of the fight sang in her veins, and her bloodlust did not blind her, it only focused her. Her heart sang for rage and vengeance, to unleash that which it had held back for too long.

And here was Be'lakor, providing a convenient target.

How kind of him.

Isha sprang into the air, her vicious claws aimed straight for the Dark Master's heart.

But Be'lakor did not wait for her to reach him. Instead, the shadows burned with sudden power, each of them a void of darkness as they surrounded her, pulling at Isha's physical avatar from a thousand different directions, ripping it apart.

But that was not enough to stop The Huntress. For an Incarnate, a physical form was only akin to clothes. To be used and shed as needed.

Not that she had any need to shed this form. Her will was within each piece of her body, within every piece of flesh, every bone, every blood cell.

Each shredded piece of her body pulsed with green light, sending the shadows scurrying away.

"Honestly, Be'lakor," She said with a scoff, her voice echoing from every piece of herself. "Are you even trying?"

The Dark Master, who was frantically attempting to unweave her songspell, to cut off the rhythm that was beating away at his essence and sorcery, cast her a look full of hate and fear.

"How are you doing this?! You have not gotten any stronger! I can feel it! You are as weak as you were when you came here!"

Isha's body pulled itself together, flesh and nerves and blood and bones all knitting themselves once more into one, though this time into a form more the size of a human.

She considered the question for a moment as her feet settled back onto the surface of the caldera, now a forest of grass, trees, and bone.

"When I came here, I was Isha the Healer. Isha the Farmer, the Mother," She said calmly. "The kindest part of myself, powerful in ways you would not understand, but admittedly not suited for battle."

She gave the Dark Master a distinctly shark-like smile. "But now, I stand before you as Isha the Huntress. I told you, Be'lakor. I was made to kill gods. And you? Well, you are just a daemon. Just a petty little insect, forever striving for that which is not yours, unable to see past the delusion of your own-self importance."

Be'lakor's only response to that was to swing the Blade of Shadows at her, reality rippling and distorting around it. At the same time, he pulled upon the hellfire cage, summoning long, spiked chains of shadow and flame to ensnare her.

Isha simply spread her arms, and yet more bone jutted out from her skin, forming into stark white plates of organic armour, an impenetrable exoskeleton across her body. The hellfire chains hacked away at the exoskeleton, but it regenerated as rapidly as they did any damage.

However, Isha had no intention of giving Be'lakor any time to overcome her defenses. She raised her hand, clenched in a fist, pointed straight at her prey. And from her knuckles, dozens of needles of bone shot out like a hunter's bullets, glowing faintly with green light as they hurtled towards the Dark Master.

Be'lakor, in pain from her blows, distracted by her defenses, and still struggling against the song, was unable to avoid them. He leapt to the side, but the bones diverted from their path, piercing the skin of his avatar and sinking, burrowing, into his immaterial flesh. And Be'lakor screamed. It was a hideous, foul, twisted sound, the howl of a predator trapped by one it had thought was prey.

"You might recognize that piece of sorcery, Be'lakor," Isha said, her smile taking on a cruel, satisfied edge at the sound of his pain. "It was devised by my sons, after all."

And Be'lakor did indeed recognize it. The bone needles were the manifestation of a spell designed to pin a daemon in place, to prevent them from fleeing. Eldanesh and Ulthanesh had developed it in ancient times, seeking to find a way to bind him so they could kill him once and for all.

He had always managed to avoid the spell when it had been cast by the sons…but their mother had proven too much for him.

And now the spell pinned him in place like a butterfly to a board, preventing him from fleeing.

Be'lakor frantically cast around for a way to escape, to flee and fight another day, but he could find none. The needles pinned him down, the song bound him.

His ritual ground had become his graveyard.

Panicking, Be'lakor reached for his last resort.


He tried to scream, to speak the words, but before he could, Isha's warsong tightened, choking the life out of him.

"There will be none of that," Isha growled, her smile gone. "I know more Enuncia than you, upstart. I learned it from those who spoke it. And I know it has a cost."

A cost? Even through the pain, Be'lakor's confusion was obvious.

Isha rolled her eyes. "Daemons," She said scornfully. "You think you can simply speak the language of the First Ones without any consequence? Fool. There is a cost, even if you do not recognize it yet. But I suppose it doesn't matter. Today, you die." Isha's aura flared to life around her, as she began to gather the power needed to inflict True-Death on a Daemon.

Be'lakor writhed across dimensions, trying desperately to dispel his physical avatar and retreat, to flee into the deepest reaches of the Warp where Isha could not follow.

He couldn't die here! He would not! He had to live!

And in that instant, something spoke to him.

From the deep reaches of the Sea of Souls, a voice so melodious and perfect that it would drive all those who heard it to madness, spoke.

I can save you little king. It said, laughing in a manner eerily reminiscent of Isha. Its words were a siren song, sweet and seductive. You need only to reach out to me: speak my name, and salvation will be yours.

No! No, no, no! Be'lakor screamed. Memories of ages past flashed through his mind, of being forced to debase himself before petty godlings, of being tormented and punished for imagined slights, made to dance on the puppet strings of idiot gods.

Better death than enslavement. He would not be bound to the whims of another upstart pretender!

More voices called out. A soothing birdsong, promising hope and freedom. A gruff but determined voice, offering the power to break free. A gentle, grandfatherly one, saying it would help him endure no matter what.

From their thrones, the Gods of Chaos called upon Be'lakor, and the Dark Master could feel himself unravelling, pulled in four different directions.

The Four were hungry to punish him for his defiance, to take the knowledge he possessed for their own. They wished to humiliate and humble him, reduce him to an accessory in their own Incarnation.


He would not be a slave ever again. He refused to be the pawn of upstarts, petulant children playing at being gods.

Never again.

And so Be'lakor did the unthinkable. He stopped resisting Isha's spell.

Surprise flickered across Isha's face as he glared up at her venomously.

"Do it." He hissed.

Isha inclined her head ever so shallowly, in a gesture of respect.

Then, she struck.

Her claws sank deep into Be'lakor's neck. And then they sank even deeper, through oceans of blood and sin, straight into the very core of his essence.

A mortal might have perceived it as Isha ripping Be'lakor's heart out, and in a sense, it was.

Yet, it was so much more than that. It was the undoing of his very being. Isha was the huntress ripping a bloody heart from a chest, yet she was also a conquering queen destroying a kingdom. A seamstress unweaving the threads of a fabric. A writer finally putting an end to a story that had lasted far too long.

The Chaos Gods shrieked and raged, yet there was nothing they could do as Be'lakor died.

Perhaps the death of a Daemon King should have been a grander affair. Perhaps it should have consumed Olympus in a storm of warpfire and death, cursing Mars itself until the end of time itself.

Yet, it was not. Isha would not allow it, focusing all her effort on preventing there from being any backlash. And perhaps because Be'lakor had accepted his death in the end, it was almost…quiet.

His essence was scattered across the winds of the Warp as if it had never existed. His physical avatar, the mockery of Eldanesh, turned to gray stone in Isha's hands, before dissolving into dust.

And just like that, it was over.

Taking apart Be'lakor's sorcery was a tedious and frustrating task. It was a masterpiece, so well crafted that George could not help but grudgingly respect the brushwork of the artist. Yet, it was also designed to be unstable, to explode in a massive warp rift if too much pressure was applied to it.

But George kept at it. Mustering a reserve of patience he had forgotten he had, he unravelled the sorcery thread by painstaking thread. He spread his power around them, strengthening the Veil as much as he could as he chipped away at the sorcery.

After a certain point, it suddenly began to become easier. It felt like someone was taking apart the spell from the inside at the same time as he was doing from the outside.

Isha? It could only be her.

Between the two of them, they made quick work of the spell and at last the hellfire storm around Olympus Mons was banished.

But as George descended to join Isha, he realized the caldera of Olympus Mons was different. There was a forest, with tall trees and grass in defiance of the vacuum of space, and littered across the battlefield were countless bones, lethal-looking constructs filled with Isha's power.

"He's dead," Isha smiled, a vicious, bloodthirsty expression unlike any he had seen on her before.

This was not an aspect of her he had ever seen. She had changed, radiating a primal ferocity and might, her physical features only the reflection of her essence.

"Congratulations on your victory," He offered cautiously, unsure of how to deal with this new Isha. The aura of bloodlust and fury around her was utterly unlike any side of Isha that George had ever seen before.

"It was only just," The Huntress laughed, her voice having a dark undertone and primal quality that George had never heard before. "He sought to kill me, to steal my power, to usurp my very nature, and he wore my son's face to mock me! And so I slew him. I broke him and tore him apart. His evil is ended, and now the galaxy will remember what it means to cross me."

George didn't know what to say to that. It wasn't that he disagreed, but that fey light in her eyes, the veins of power that were spreading into the depths of Olympus Mons…it was all so very unlike Isha.

Or the Isha he knew, at least.

"Isha, I need your help," He said quietly. "I-

At this, her good mood vanished instantly. She cut him off with a sneer, still speaking in that dark, almost save voice. "The great Emperor of Mankind needs my help? Really? To do what? Save this planet of slavers and murderers? To salvage the industry you need for your precious plans?"

The mockery and venom was so unlike her, even at her angriest. It stung, but it was hardly as if George could say he didn't deserve it.

"Yes," He said honestly. "I do. You know this. And there are not just slavers on this planet, Isha. Many of them are just…people. Innocent people. Help me save them."

"Why should I?" Isha shrugged. "Let this world burn. The Mechanicum's evil will die with it."

"You don't mean that," George said quietly. "If you did, you would never have helped me as much as you have. Are you saying all those people you saved on Terra, with your medicine and your fruits and your healing, that they all deserved to die for the sins of their leaders? That you regret saving them?"

At this Isha was silent. But she didn't move, simply staring at him with a predator's eyes, still and unblinking.

"Isha. Please."

After a long, agonizing moment, Isha sighed.

Her horns dissolved in a shower of green light, her fangs receded, and her pupils became round once more. The exoskeleton vanished back into her flesh, replaced by a deep blue Aeldari robe of the kind worn by the Craftworlders, trimmed in silver and decorated with green gems.

But her sclera did not turn back to white. The facial markings on her face became thinner, more elegant, shifting from gold to green, but they did not disappear.

Nevertheless, she was suddenly far more familiar than she had been.

Isha gave him a look, a mixture of weariness and surprise. "Well, let's get to it," She said, her voice returned to its normal tone, softer and more familiar. "We have much work to do."

Relief coursed through George. "Of course."