Disclaimer: I don't own MapleStory or Warhammer40K/Dawn of War 2 franchises. Companies with much more money, lawyers, and power than I do. Enjoy!
None Shall Find Us Wanting
- Chapter 3: Astartes -
Night had fallen on Elluel once again as Aramus continued in his long, exhaustive slumber. Slowly, and once more, he opened his eyes and slowly got back onto his feet. He still wasn't quite sure what was going on, or who he even was for that matter, but he felt much better as his space marine body had been busy healing itself the past day or two. The room again looked quite foreign and unfamiliar, but it was a nice, comfortable room to say the least. Aramus recalled to himself that rooms like this were usually reserved for people of renown like an Inquisitor, Planetary Governor, or Chapter Master of a space marine chapter. This recollection of a random fact spurred on further confusion within Aramus' mind as he had no idea what or who those three supposed important titles were or meant. As he looked around the room he found himself doing stranger and stranger things his own subconscious remembered but his mind just couldn't recall.
"I am the eyes of the Great Father, and the sword of the Emp-…" Aramus stopped himself before he finished off his usual morning rite. Who were these two important figures that sought to dominate all of his thoughts, his actions, and the very purpose of his existence. "…Emperor…"
Nearby the side of the bed, Mercedes sat back in her rather comfortable-looking plush recliner. The elven queen was fast asleep as she had spent all day and night looking after the mortally wounded space marine. Almost out of instinct, he quickly scanned the area for any other presences. He could make out no others and then turned his attention back to the sleeping Mercedes. Aramus pieced together things that had taken place within the recent day and remembered that it was her that took him in and nursed him back to his nominal state. Some voice inside of him told him that she was something to be abhorred, to be hated, and the voice commanding him to kill the xeno that slept before him. But yet, his heart said otherwise as he felt himself becoming more and more enamored with Mercedes. Is this the raw emotion that normal humans called 'love'? No, that just wasn't possible. A space marine could never feel love, it was completely foreign to him. And to love an alien was treason, but why? Why was it treason? Why would he feel like a traitor if he couldn't match reason with action? He shook his head and reached for his chainsword, his face that of a ruthless, efficient, genetically-enhanced killing machine. His mind prodded him to go through with the execution of the xeno witch. After all, it was kill or be killed by the foul alien, but again his heart nagged at him, reminding him that she saved his life and again hesitated. The voice goaded him on once more.
"You are a traitor, Blood Raven. What would your pathetic corpse Emperor think of such…treasonous scandal from one his very own Angel of Death? Oh young Raven of the Corvidae, son of Vidhya. You Blood Ravens prize knowledge above all. 'Knowledge is Power' as you Blood Ravens are keen on saying so often. But how little you remember or know about yourself…" The voice told him as Aramus shook, the chainsword shaking in his trembling hands as he attempted to block out this foreign intrusion into his mind. But to no avail, he was no psyker and no Babylon to save him this time. "Kill the elven queen…Kill her…KILL QUEEN MERCEDES! YOU KNOW IT IN YOUR SOUL THAT YOU CRAVE BLOOD!"
Aramus trembled further, and for all the strength he had, he felt utterly powerless to defend himself against this mental onslaught. Tears began to form in his eyes once again.
"Stop it! Get out of my head!" Aramus yelled out but the voice only laughed in his face.
"Oh what's this? Tears? The mighty 'Hero of Typhon' and the 'Bane of Ulkair' actually cries like a cowardly, mewling infant? How pathetic…" The voice continued as he let out a wicked laugh. "Glory be to your…Corpse Emperor!"
"WHO ARE YOU?! WHEN I FIND YOU I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!" Aramus yelled out again only to be received by disturbing silence, this time Mercedes slowly awoke from her slumber and saw Aramus kneeling, holding both hands to his head as if to block out something. He closed his eyes, but then felt the warm gentle touch of Mercedes' hand upon his cheek.
"What is wrong, visitor from the stars?" Mercedes softly asked as she held Aramus tight and close to her warm, almost inviting body. Aramus stiffened and resisted, pulling out of her embrace, once again confused. She looked over to Aramus pleadingly, her arms extended out towards the space marine. Just then, a memory from the past began to replay in front of Aramus. He could see the events of the battle against the Tyranids, and later, the Black Legion within the subsector. Aramus could feel the spewing, green acidic blood from the Hive Tyrant, the cracked, bleeding skull of Ork Warboss Gutwrencha, the dead lifeless body of the Eldar Farseer Idranel of Craftworld Ulthwe, and the putrid stench of the Champion of Nurgle, the great daemon Ulkair. He slew them all with his own hands. And just for a few fleeting seconds, he remembered it all. "Are you…remembering something?"
"…I…I am Aramus, Commander of the Blood Ravens 4th Company. I am HIS angel of death, the Emperor's sword, the Great Father's eyes…I AM A SPACE MARINE!" Aramus yelled out but then struggled to stay conscious. He attempted to yell out the Blood Ravens battle cry but soon lost consciousness before he could finish. "AND NONE SHALL FIND ME WANT-"
Mercedes became wide-eyed, almost in a state of shock until she was snapped from that state from Aramus' loud fall onto the floor. In a panic, she quickly pulled Aramus with all of her might back onto the bed. She stared into his closed eyes, thinking over everything he had just revealed about himself, sighing quietly.
"Nice to meet you too, Aramus of the Blood Ravens." Said Mercedes as she gently ran her fingers through his short, neatly gelled hair. "Even if you are an angel of death, you're still an angel."
The sun had risen and morning was upon the whole Maple World. While most were busy within Elluel carrying on about their daily business, Aramus awoke with a splitting migraine and again had great difficulty recalling any information, including his realization the previous night. He looked over to the chair and noticed that instead of Mercedes, there was a tray of food, most likely his breakfast. It had been quite some time since Aramus had actually ingested anything that resembled food and despite the food being very foreign to him, he readily took to it. He engulfed the fine elven pastries and several varieties of fruit. After he had his fill, he looked over to his artificer power armor and then his chainsword, Vengeance of Cerberus.
"A raven with a drop of blood…" Aramus said to himself, inspecting the Blood Ravens insignia and the Assault Marine four-way arrow icon upon his right pauldron. On the left pauldron was a commander's golden aquilla. However, another thought had dawned on him, something from his instincts that told him to look in his backpack on his armor. From it he saw other pieces of wargear: his personal combat knife (Honor of Pilea), Thaddeus' purity seal (Invocation of the Primarchs), his iron halo (Light of Mikelus), a jump pack (Wings of Shrike), a Mark 6 Corvus-pattern helmet, blind grenades, some of the broken shards of still-somewhat intact artificer armor (Golden Armor of the Custodes), a flask of blessed oils and promethium gifted to him by the Grey Knights in the aftermath of the Kronus campaign, and broken remnants of his thunder hammer (Hammer of the Nameless). His hand reached for the combat knife and inspected it with awe. "Magnificent craftsmanship…"
"Nice to see you finally up and not unconscious for once, Aramus of the Blood Ravens." Mercedes spoke out as she smiled at the still rather confused space marine. He turned back, his face beginning to turn a light red at the sight of Mercedes. Considering he hadn't felt any emotions besides rage, anger, sadness, and hatred; controlling foreign ones were next to impossible for him.
"I…I'm sorry if I caused you any trouble." Aramus stammered out as he placed his plasma pistol back into his belt holster.
"Really, it's not a big deal at all. I'm only returning the favor, Aramus. You saved my life." Mercedes said as she came closer to Aramus and kissed his cheek. "You at least remember your own name now right, Aramus?"
"Yes…" he responded back. "Forgive me, but, where exactly am I? What…planet is this?"
"You are in my village, Elluel. The last remaining refuge for the elves in the Maple World. This planet, is Earth." Mercedes said as Aramus contemplated in deep thought.
"Earth…The name seems somehow familiar to me. A place in which I hold dear in my heart, almost to a point where I feel a divine connection to a great immortal man that seeks to dominate all of my thoughts. The purpose for my very existence…" Aramus said as he picked up his chainsword. "But yet here, now, I feel nothing…Why is that…"
The question seemed to be more rhetorical in nature but nonetheless Mercedes attempted an answer back. She paused at first, but then finally spoke up.
"I know so little about you, and even you know so little about yourself. The entities you worship are likely very different than the ones that are revered on this world." Mercedes said as she sighed, lightly playing around with her golden locks. "But, for one reason or another, fate has brought you here. I was raised to believe that there are no coincidences; that things always happen for a reason. Aramus, I wish to help reveal your new purpose to you if you would open yourself up to me."
"This whole thing…it feels wrong to me. Like this shouldn't even be happening…" Aramus responded as he looked out the window. "You know I have this feeling…this voice that tells me to wipe out this whole village because it as an affront to my beliefs; that I need to kill you as well. It tells me to do terrible things, but yet I do not know why it urges me to do these things. To not know the reason why I am being urged to commit atrocity on such a grand scale is unnerving…"
Mercedes was taken slightly aback as she felt a twinge of fear, but then immediately shook the feeling; reasoning to herself that if he truly wanted to do so, he would have done it earlier.
"But does your true heart tell you to kill me and my people, or is it the voice inside?"
"You have been more than hospitable towards me, fed me, and nursed me." Aramus spoke. "I don't want to kill you…it's hard to describe this feeling I have, I've never felt it before. It feels so foreign, but…I…" Aramus stammered out before Philius knocked on the door very lightly as he entered, bowing to the queen and nodding towards the space marine.
"Good morning your highness. And you, visitor." Philius. "Your highness, it's time to begin taking care of the daily business. Empress Cygnus has requested audience with you in Ereve, she wants to discuss stationing more knights in Elluel and-…"
"Good morning to you as well, advisor. I'm aware Philius. I'll take care of that in due time. In the meantime, I will take Aramus outside and show him around the village, and maybe get a bit of training in too." Mercedes told her senior advisor and with a slight smile. "Hopefully I'll get to see what his weapons can do…That is, if you wish to join me, warrior from the heavens?"
"Yes…Yes, I'd like that very much." Aramus replied as Mercedes smiled again and walked out of her chambers with Philius noting additional items on the daily royal agenda. Being a young (in relative terms to an elf) queen was tough and very demanding on Mercedes. But her people relied on her to be a beacon of strength and to be their savior when the times counted. Aramus meanwhile cycled through his last wargear Victory Over Death, a highly treasured plasma pistol. It was used by Captain Thule during the Kronus Campaign and with it, he fell three Necron tomb spyders that cropped up in a surprise attack on the forward base during their assault on the Thur'Abis Plateau. Again, the good Captain used it to full effect during the assault on the Eldar in Tyrea, completely wiping out a formation of Fire Prism tanks. Underneath the shattered remains of his thunder hammer was the slightly battered form of a child's stuffed animal toy. Aramus carefully inspected it as he held the deformed toy into his hands and then began to remember the memories and feelings associated with the object in question.
It was years ago in the Cadian sub-sector near the Eye of Terror, his squad of Blood Ravens were assigned to a local village that also happened to be an important supply hub. Their main duty was to make sure the village didn't fall into the hands of the traitor legions that assailed Cadia itself. However, it was only Commander Aramus, then-Codicier Babylon, and a handful of tactical space marines armed with bolters, plasma guns, and the like that were left to protect that cursed hamlet. It was then that the traitor marines of the Word Bearers Legion began to assail the village with relentless onslaught after onslaught of heavily armored vehicles and endless waves of debauched marines. But yet, Aramus and his outgunned band of Blood Ravens stood firm and repelled them with equal fervor. Soon, the dead of the Iron Warriors stacked so high around the village that his own men began using their bodies as shields to incoming fire and as natural barricades for incoming enemy vehicles.
"HOLD STEADY BROTHERS! FOR THE EMPEROR!" Aramus rallied his troops on as he smashed his thunder hammer into the face of yet another Iron Warrior traitor, blood squirting forth everywhere. Just then Babylon approached him and yelled out.
"Brother Aramus, we must leave! Orders from the Chapter Master, the Black Legion is on its way and he wants no contact with them! Your orders, Commander?" Babylon asked as he continued shooting out lightning from his hands but saw the oncoming hoard of Black Legion marines.
"…Chapter Master Kyras and orders be damned…We stay and fight. This village and all of its people will be massacred if the Black Legion take it from us! BROTHERS! WILL YOU FOLLOW ME INTO HELL'S PIT?!" Aramus yelled out and in response his brothers pounded their fists into their chests. "NONE SHALL FIND US BLOOD RAVENS WANTING!"
"And none shall find you wanting, brother." Babylon responded. "Emperor preserve us all!"
And so the ensuing battle raged on, the dead of the Iron Warriors soon began being replaced with the dead of the Black Legionnaires. But there were simply too many traitor marines and not enough Blood Ravens and soon the Chaos marines began to make their way into the hamlet. Some of the civilian populace had already been killed by the traitors, which infuriated Aramus to no end as he rang for help on the vox communicator.
"Attention! This is Commander Aramus of the Blood Ravens 4th Company! We are in need of reinforcements immediately! The hamlet is about to change hands to the Black Legion traitors unless something is done quickly to rectify this!" Aramus yelled.
"Commander Aramus, you were ordered to leave that hamlet! We won't be able to-" the communications cut out before the other Blood Raven could finish.
"…That was it. We're going to receive no help now…But I'm not going to let these traitors have this hamlet for nothing, they'll take this hamlet from our cold dead hands! FOR THE EMPEROR!" Immediately he charged forward, dislodging an Imperial Guardsman's abandoned heavy bolter as he began firing it indiscriminately at the oncoming traitors, felling them one by one. Seeing their commander's final act of bravado inspired his other battle brothers as they charged forward too. The leader of this particular Black Legion warband was a Chaos Sorcerer named Neroth and seeing the frenzied Blood Ravens forced him to recoil just a tiny bit since he wasn't expecting that much heavy resistance. Aramus had depleted the heavy bolter of rounds and threw the weapon at a nearby Chaos marine and pulled out his power sword. With his jump back, he left with a fiery glow and slammed hard back into the ground, knocking back all enemies and sliced right through the head and upper torso of the sorcerer. Aramus himself knocked back by the powerful, but daemonic Chaos energies that emanated from Neroth, but charged forward again, this time for the killing blow as he slammed Neroth back into the ground and stomped on his already deformed face, leaving nothing but a trail of blood where his foot stood. The other traitors were in a panic, scattering which ever way until finally in the distance came a small group of Ultramarines in their characteristic blue armor.
"We came as quickly as we could, brothers. But it looks like you crushed the traitors." The Ultramarine Commander said. "You fight without fear, Commander Aramus."
"I know no fear. None shall find us wanting, Ultramarine." Aramus responded.
"Courage and honor, Blood Raven." Titus likewise responded and nodded. The Ultramarines had already taken to task the mopping of the hamlet of Chaos forces while Aramus and his men waited for the thunderhawk transport to pick them up. Aramus looked around and found a severed, bloodied arm that belonged to a child. He went forward to the grizzly scene and found the body in which it belonged to; a young boy not much older than 6. Shock, nor horror came upon his face, only cold stoicism. He then knelt down and picked up a slightly burnt, disformed stuffed animal that likely belonged to the boy and just then, a wave of sadness washed over the young Commander. He went over to the boy and gently closed his eyes and covered him with a blanket. Babylon soon informed him that the Thunderhawk had arrived and followed his men onto the aircraft as he nodded to Commander Titus once more he turned and sat down, awaiting to be brought back to the Litany of Fury and be lectured by Commander Thule on the importance of "following orders". However, Aramus still felt an object in his hand, it was the child's toy. Ever since that day, Aramus kept it with him forever.
Aramus paused for just a minute as he held onto the toy, almost as if he was attempting to remember something but then something deeply began to haunt his mind. He shook violently, dropping the toy, his hands covering his head.
"Brother Babylon! Help me! Get it out of my head! My mind!" Aramus didn't even know the name of the person whom he shouted out for. But he knew deep down he needed someone with strong psychic powers to reverse the attempted invasion of the Astartes' mind. Just then Mercedes ran back into the room and knelt down next to Aramus, very gently placing her hand upon the back of his head as she guided him back onto his feet.
"Aramus, are you okay?" Mercedes asked once more with greater concern than the last.
"…I…" Aramus stammered out as he looked into her crystal blue eyes that seemed to calm him further as he shook his head. "I think I am okay…I just…I don't know what that was all about."
"Come, let us leave this place Aramus. I want to show around the nearby Maple World, that, and I think Empress Cygnus wants to see you." Mercedes said as she took Aramus' hand into hers, forcing a small blush upon the queen's face.
"Empress…Cygnus?" Aramus asked, confused as he had only known one Emperor in his entire life, but one whom he was struggling to remember.
"Yes, the Empress of the entire Maple World; her royal imperial majesty Cygnus. She rules this world with benevolence, but with each passing day she seems to grow weaker by some machination of the Black Mage most likely. But this world needs her strength and leadership more than ever in these dark times." Mercedes continued as she guided Aramus outside of the royal palace and looked around to see her village of elves going about their business as everyone turned to stare at the rumored visitor that had been under Mercedes' care for days now. Everyone marveled at his unnatural large size and the strength that followed him. "I don't agree with it, but Empress Cygnus requested audience with me, and she asked specifically to bring the one that defeated two of the Black Mage's bodyguard."
"I…see…" Aramus said as he stared back at the elves that stared into his own eyes as he continued on with Mercedes in hand. A little girl looked on at the two, but paid special attention to the space marine.
"Mommy, who is that? Why does he look so different from us?" the little girl asked her mother as she quickly took the child back into her home, locking the door behind her as she spied the marine suspiciously out the window. Aramus sighed quietly to himself, already feeling more like more of an unwanted outsider to her village than he did before.
"Aramus, don't worry. It'll take some getting used to, and for my people as well. To them, you're something completely new, the likes of which many have them have never seen. They'll eventually grow to accept, maybe even like you." Mercedes said with a bright smile as they started come up towards the merchant vendors that had set up their tents for the day. "Good morning Erwin!"
"A lovely good day to you, your highness. Have you any interest in my wares today, my Queen?" The middle-aged merchant responded as he smiled. Aramus carefully looked at some of the things that he was selling, the least of which were loads of red and blue concoctions sealed within small glass jars. Looking further he could see an assortment of meat and fruits, and behind all of that, arrows and subi-throwing stars as well. He found it odd that a merchant that sold food was also selling weapons. On an Imperial planet, and without consent from the planetary governor and a license to sell weapons; the punishment for such a crime would have been a summary public execution as to make an example to those who even thought about dabbling in the black market. But despite such draconian policies, the black market thrived anyway.
"Just some red and blue potions please, 100 of each, please." Mercedes requested as she began pulling out her pocket book that contained but a very small fraction of her vast wealth.
"Your highness, you don't have to pay me anything. You are my queen and thus you own this kingdom and shop." Erwin replied as he busily stocked a sack with her requested amount of potions but Mercedes ignored his plea and gave him a stack full of meso coins; around 50,000 meso to be exact.
"Your wife is expecting, and you need all the help you can get to ease the hard pregnancy for her. It's very important that your child is born healthy and without incident, for the good of our people and this kingdom." Mercedes said as she smiled. "Give my regards to your wife and tell her to visit me with your child after it is born."
"Thank you very much! You are most kind, your majesty. I certainly will." Erwin graciously accepted and bowed in turn to Mercedes as she turned to Aramus.
"Here. These are for you. You'll need this for where we intend on going through." Mercedes said as she handed over the sack of potions over to Aramus; the astartes took it and placed it carefully into his storage pack at the rear of his armor. "The red ones will restore your health, the blue will restore your energy."
"I see, do they work quickly, or will it take time to take effect?" Aramus asked, almost instinctively as he usually did during most mission briefings.
"They work instantly as far as I can tell. Your physiology may be a little different, but I don't think it will affect things that much." Mercedes replied as she looked over to the weapons merchant. "That man over there is the weapons merchant of the town, Ethos, the one that sells armors and weapons, and arms our militia in the event of a war or hostile attacks from nearby monsters. Over there is Hermes, the storage keeper of the town. If your storage pack gets too full, take your items to him and he will keep them safe. The good news is there's a storage keeper in every major town and as such all of them are linked so you can recall items from anywhere in the world."
"The armory keeper, can he fix my thunder hammer?" Aramus asked.
"Most likely not. That hammer of yours seems a bit beyond our technological means, and for that matter, so does the rest of your armor and equipment. But it certainly does seem much more powerful than ours." Mercedes said but then smiled. "Glad you're a good person and on our side."
Aramus wasn't so sure about that last remark but nodded in agreement anyway as she continued to show him around the rest of Elluel. She eventually came upon a giant music box that had one of those antique speaker horns attached to it. Immediately the music box responded to Mercedes and proceeded to play a quiet, soothing song that seemed to resonate throughout the whole village. The astartes looked around him as pink blossom petals rained down around him, the sun shining brightly against his gleaming gold and red armor. The beauty, the serenity of the village was almost enchanting to him and a welcome diversion to all of the horrors he had seen in the past, locked away deep in his memory. However, soon he was broken from his thoughts as Mercedes beckoned for Aramus to follow her up a set of stairs and to where the oldest, but wisest of all of Elluel's elders, Astilda, the Elder of Life (Philius being of magic, and Danika being of all things war and battle related).
"Aramus, I want you to meet the wisest of all the elders, Astilda. She is the oldest elf still in existence and has helped my mother when she was queen and myself as well in running this kingdom." Mercedes said as Aramus knelt on one knee.
"It is an honor to meet you, Elder Astilda. May none find you wanting in heart and mind." Aramus greeted her in his usual manner, though he still had no idea where the last part of his greeting came from.
"The honor is mine, strange visitor from the stars. And likewise, may the Great Spirit watch over you and protect you." Astilda said as she lightly curtseyed. "I want to thank you for helping protect our village and the queen."
"I am sorry, but, why are you thanking me? All I did was defend myself against two individuals with hostile intentions." Aramus replied back as he got back onto his feet.
"Dispatching of two of the Black Mage's bodyguard isn't an easy thing to do. Whatever they wanted from you, it seems that they really wanted to either capture you or kill you." Astilda continued. "Nonetheless, if you had not defeated them where they stood, there is no telling the amount of destruction they could have caused here in Elluel, and most likely they would have slaughtered all of the elves here…"
Aramus merely nodded back as a gesture of welcome and friendship as Astilda continued to speak.
"Mercedes and some of the villagers think you have the strength of ten male humans…Is this, true young one?" Astilda asked.
"To tell you the truth, I really don't remember much, but I suppose I do have some measure of extraordinary strength." Aramus stated. "As well, I'm not exactly young myself. I barely remember anything, perhaps next to nothing about myself aside from my name and possibly my age. I can tell you that I am at least 150 years of age. After a certain point, I think I had stopped counting."
To this, Astilda and Mercedes merely grinned to themselves and smiled as she spoke up again.
"Oh my child, to me, you are still very young in mind, but your face; it wears so many scars and burdens. They tell a sad story; one of constant trial and tribulation, and one of unspeakable horrors." Astilda said as it took Aramus slightly aback, almost as if his mind's lock was about to come loose and undone. "However, you and Mercedes are similar in age. For you see, we elves do not age in the same sense or time as regular humans. Queen Mercedes will continue to look as youthful as she does for many more centuries to come. Perhaps you should consider taking her hand in the sacred bonds of the soulbinding?"
Immediately Aramus looked down, almost embarrassed, turning several shades of light red while Mercedes shot Astilda a death glare but at the same time also blushing.
"Astilda! That's really not an appropriate thing to say in front of him!" Mercedes yelled out as she tried her best to control her own emotions while the elder elf merely laughed heartily to herself.
"Oh come now your highness. You can't go without a husband forever, and you can't keep letting what happened with Freud haunt you forever. This kingdom also needs a strong king to help you, that's partially what drove your mother to…" Astilda stopped herself as to not bring up a sore subject with Mercedes as she shook her head but then looked over to the still blushing space marine. "Besides, this gentlemen over here seems like a rather suitable and attractive young mate. He's strong, seems to have a good enough head on his shoulders, and acts nice enough."
"ASTILDA! THAT'S ENOUGH!" Mercedes shouted out as Aramus quickly excused himself from the rather awkward social situation. But then he froze, who in the Emperor's holy name was 'Freud'?
'Is this what normal humans call, jealousy?' Aramus thought to himself. 'But it's just not possible. I barely even know Mercedes, and as well I can't because I-…I…'
Aramus tried to think long and hard to finish that last sentence, but as hard as he tried, he just couldn't and just shrugged it off. Mercedes, somewhat disgusted with the situation decided to walk back down the stairs towards Aramus but not before Astilda called out to her queen once more.
"No, your highness. I must plead with you this time, please, you need a soulmate. I always look into your eyes, and despite all of your beauty, your youthfulness, and your cheery demeanor; you're still just a lonely little girl that's in desperate need of a real best friend, someone who you can confide in and share your life with. Your poor mother, Great Spirit let her soul rest, died because of the loneliness. When your father died, she just absolutely refused to undergo the soulbinding ceremony with another because she felt it would be disloyal to your father." Astilda said concerned, but then narrowed her eyes and smiled ever so slyly. "Besides, if you don't take him, an old woman like me could use a bit of excitement in my private chambers from time to time and I definitely have my eyes on that attractive piece of man down there…"
"YOU…YOU! YOU WOULDN'T! YOU'RE AN ELDER AND MY ADVISER, YOU SHOULDN'T EVEN BE SPEAKING OF SUCH THINGS!" Mercedes screamed out in shock and horror but then quickly covered her mouth as Aramus looked back up at her quizzically. "Even then, it's just not proper for a woman of your high position!"
"Mercedes, is everything alright up there?" Aramus asked.
"Y-Yes, everything is fine Aramus. I'll be down in a minute." Mercedes blushed again as she turned back towards Astilda.
"Mmm, just as I suspected your highness. You heart has already set out for his. I know when love is about to blossom, and I can see it in you now when you look at him." Astilda said in almost a teasing, but good-natured manner. "Go on, go to him and show him around. Perhaps if the human legends are true, maybe he will be all of our saviors when the final battle comes. Go on your highness, I will take care of things here."
With that, Mercedes lightly bowed and went down the stairs towards Aramus who was already pulling out his plasma pistol and his chainsword, the other elves within the village viewing him with a kind of awe as she placed her hand atop his armored shoulder pauldrons.
"Are you ready Aramus?" Mercedes asked as Aramus nodded. "Great! Let's go!"
The two set off from Elluel and into the lush green forest from which Aramus first made his planetfall. He could feel the familiar feel of his chainsword and plasma pistol, but the bulky melee weapon he held seemed so foreign to him at the same time; almost as if he had forgotten how to use it with swiftness and ruthless efficiency.
"This is rather strange, it almost feels like…" Aramus trailed on as he attempted to swing his bulky chainsword but strained to keep it steady and even. "…like I've forgotten how to use my own weapons that I came here with, I just don't understand it. And my iron halo, it appears to have ceased functioning properly. I know it's supposed to emit a glowing refractor field of some sort for added protection."
"Perhaps we should start off with an easier, lighter set of weapons." Mercedes suggested which then triggered something within Aramus' mind as he remembered he possessed a lighter, most likely easier to use (for now) combat knife. This particular knife, was a master-crafted combat knife, the very same knife that he had used (with much futility) against the powerful Chaos witch Morga before his mentor Commander Thule could slay her. A second glance at the combat knife one would have called it a sword instead due to its massive size, but indeed it was a knife for even before Aramus became an Adeptus Astartes he was already quite imposing in size. The knife in question was crafted with the sharpest, most advanced form of adamantium and steel alloys the Imperium had to offer. He pulled out the combat knife in question, the blade itself appeared silver in color but had a bluish tint to it. Upon the hilt was the outline of the crest of the former Planetary-Governor of Pilea (Aramus' home planet before it was subjected to a Blood Ravens/Inquisition exterminatus) that turned traitor after being seduced by Morga but it appeared to have been scratched off completely and upon it, the symbol of the black raven of knowledge and the blood drop of purity emblazoned over.
Soon after unsheathing his knife, a tidal wave of memories from his pre-Blood Raven life began to come striking back. He could vaguely see two adult figures, one male, the other female. Presumably, he assumed that they were his father and mother. The bald, light complexioned male, appeared to be well dressed in ornate clothing and carapace armor, but much to Aramus' shock his father's sword was covered in blood while he held a plasma pistol in the other hand. His mother however, appeared to be lifeless, bloodied, and devoid of color on her skin. Her long, flowing blond hair wrapped around her white dress that was now stained with her own blood. He could see himself weeping over his mother's body while his father had a grin upon his face, his father clearly under the thrall of his Chaos witch mistress. With fury and rage, he looked over to his father with murderous intent and pulled out his own combat knife as he screamed, tears streaming forth from his eyes, crying out for retribution. Aramus blinked once as he felt his warm tears flow down his cheeks, almost hoping the nightmare before his eyes would end and when he opened his eyes once more, he saw Mercedes' crystal blue orbs gazing upon him with concern. His entire body shook with rage, horror, fury, anguish, shock. No matter what emotion one wanted to call it, Aramus was clearly shaken and very much disturbed. However, he still could not piece the entire story together or for that matter confirm the identities of the people that he had just seen as his mother and father.
"Aramus, are you okay? Maybe we should turn back-" Mercedes asked before Aramus cut her off.
"No…I…I'm fine…I don't know what came over me, but whatever it is, it's over now." Aramus responded as he began doing random attack movements and patterns with his combat knife. The both of them soon spotted a pack of green gel slimes and orange mushroom monsters on the way. "What are those…peculiar looking creatures that approach us?"
"The green ones are called green gel slimes. They usually have a strange smile on their faces even when they get hit. The orange ones are called orange mushrooms, or 'mushies' as most of us call them. Here, let me show you just what exactly I can do…" Mercedes said as she gracefully leapt high into the air with her bowguns drawn. She then quickly proceeded to use her rising rush attack, forcing most of the orange mushrooms and gel slimes high into the air and then finished all of them off swiftly and with precision with a hail of magic arrows. She had gone so fast, Aramus had a hard time keeping up with her movements. "Pretty nice, wasn't it?" she said with a grin "Here, now you try."
With an almost inhuman fury, he furiously charged ahead. Despite his bulky-looking power armor, Aramus ran surprisingly fast, and with his combat knife in hand he ran towards his first target: green gel slime. Almost as he started his charge the blade of the knife pierced the gel slime monster, forcing green squishy bits to splatter all over Aramus himself. Immediately after he sliced an oncoming orange mushroom, and stepped on yet another, his ceramite grieves going through the peculiar mushroom monster. Here he was, showing exactly why he was called an efficient killing machine, and yet he had no recollection of any memory with the Blood Ravens or being an Astartes. The mushroom itself was stunned by Aramus stepping upon it and immediately the marine went in for the execution blow, his combat knife piercing right through the top of the mushroom cap as it screamed out in agony. With his mighty strength he lifted the impaled mushroom upon his knife and pulled out his plasma pistol and fired a single, charged shot, forcing the hapless orange mushroom off his knife and onto the rest of the orange mushrooms and gel slimes as the plasma charge itself exploded, killing both the impaled mushroom and the rest of the lot. Mercedes looked upon Aramus with a sense of awe but with a small twinge of fear.
"That…was pretty impressive…" Mercedes managed to get out as Aramus dropped the plasma pistol while he screamed in agony. The plasma pistol's magnacore had overheated and caused an overheating in one of its cooling mechanisms that control the rate of fire, rendering the weapon unsafe for further use since the weapon could explode. While it was still possible to use it later on after some complex repairs, it would be some time before it can be fired again.
"The infernal thing just overheated!" Aramus yelled out as he carefully attempted to take the plasma pistol back into his storage pack on his armor. "I honestly don't know where I learned to fight like that, but it's as if my mind just takes over and does the rest for me."
Looking around, Aramus noticed that there was an assortment of drops, including various pieces of clothing/armor, weapons, slime gels, and orange mushroom caps. A bit puzzled as to what they were, he went over to them and very lightly poked at one of the slime gels that dropped. It was very squishy.
"What in the Emperor's name are these things?" Aramus asked quizzically, continuing to pike at the slime gel. Aramus seemed to be deriving a childlike pleasure and curiosity from poking it.
A smile formed on Mercedes face upon seeing the mighty warrior poking at the object and said "Every time you kill a monster in this world, they usually drop some meso, our form of currency, and some other items. Sometimes certain pieces of gear and equipment will drop, but usually it's stuff like random drops like mushroom caps and the slime gels that you're poking at right now. I would go ahead and start collecting those drops, you might need them later on for various quests." Mercedes suggested. Aramus nodded and began picking up the various drops littered all over the grass. As Aramus continued to pick up items, he noticed a peculiar looking object, something that seemed to glisten from the sun's reflection deep in the ground. It was a lone golden spike that protruded from the ground and with fervor he dug up the earth around it as if his life depended on it. Mercedes looked over with curiosity and knelt down next to Aramus.
"What is it Aramus? Did you find something?" Mercedes inquired as Aramus failed to respond but finally plucked the object from the ground and revealed a golden circlet that had spikes protruding from its edges, almost like a halo made from gold and iron. It functioned much like Aramus' own iron halo, except for its outward appearance. He could sense a dormant, but very immense power from the unknown artifact, which was really an ancient relic; one that Aramus would have been very familiar with had he not lost his memory. But despite that, an aura of familiarity seemed to surround the object in question as he carefully inspected it.
"It is as if I know what this is, and yet…" Aramus trailed off as Mercedes finished off his own sentence for him.
"And yet, you don't?" Mercedes finished as Aramus nodded, placing the wargear into his storage pack along with everything else. However, it wasn't completely lost on him that it seemed to resemble other parts of his armor.
"When you found me in this forest for the first time, was there anyone else nearby that fell to this planet with me?" Aramus asked her in an almost serious, dire tone.
"There was no one else. When you fell to the planet, you fought the Black Mage bodyguard alone. As it was, the fight was already heavily one-sided in your favor. Had there been another with you, the henchmen would have likely fled instead of trying to fight." Mercedes spoke out. "But, there has been rumors floating around according to Philius. Your arrival caused quite a stir and literally shook the ground; enough to register as an earthquake by this world's top minds. There was…another recorded ground shake in a far off continent called Edelstein. I don't know much about it other than that."
"Perhaps the answer to my memory loss lies in that far off continent. I must go there and find out what really happened to me that night…" Aramus said as he looked on into the sun-filled sky.
"We can head over there once we're done in Ereve and have met the Empress." She responded back and placed her hand on his. "I promise, I will help you regain your memories and your great strength. I owe you that and much more, Aramus."
Well, hope you enjoyed this! Please leave constructive criticism, comments, and of course, review!