Lady Lion

Little Primarchs- Diplomacy

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The Brytheen Compliance had hit a snag. The Administratum ambassadors had dropped out of contact with the rest of the Imperium. The Brytheen themselves had stopped broadcasting to the Imperium. The Emperor sent Malcador to determine what was going on. He had the Primarchs accompany Malcador to learn about diplomacy.
The approach to Brytheen went smoothly, the leader of the Brytheen seemed almost apologetic to Malcador when giving clearance to land at the spaceport closest to the grand castle that he lived in. Malcador and the Primarchs were greeted with proper fanfare and led to the castle under an impressive honor guard. The Brytheen people didn't seem to know what to make of the Primarchs, Sanguinius, Magnus, and Vulkan were all viewed with suspicion by many.
"Greetings representatives of the Imperium!" the Brytheen leader called out in a jovial voice.
"I am Malcador the Sigilite," Malcador said. "I am the Emperor's greatest representative. These are the Primarchs, the sons of the Emperor."
"It is a great honor to meet you then, Lord Malcador," the Brytheen said. "An even greater honor to meet you, Lord Primarchs."
""We have important business to discuss," Malcador said stiffly. They were still outside the castle proper and Malcador was more interested in answers instead of bandying courtesies on the doorstep.
"Yes, yes," the leader said. "Come in! We will have the Lord Primarchs escorted to their chambers."
"That will not be necessary," Malcador said. He found he didn't trust the Brytheen leader. He wanted the Primarchs close to him in case things went poorly.
"But they are so young, lord," the leader insisted. "They will find our conversation to be boring."
"No, we won't," Horus said. "We are here to learn of diplomacy from Lord Malcador and so we will remain with him."
"If you so desire it, Lord Primarch," the leader said. He didn't know the names of the Primarchs as they had not introduced themselves yet. He lead them to a large chamber that was being used for the negotations.
"What has happened to my ambassadors?" Malcador asked once everyone was seated at the table.
"My apologies, lord," the leader said quickly. "They fell ill of the quick fever and perished before anything could be done for them."
"What happened to their ship?" Malcador continued. He had noted that the Administratum ship was missing from orbit on his arrival in the Executor.
"Their ship is missing?" the Brytheen asked with an innocent expression on his face. "I was not informed of that, give me a moment." He then rose and moved across the chamber to a comms unit mounted in the wall. He had a discussion with someone.
"I don't trust this guy, Malcador," the Lion said quietly.
"I agree with Lion," Alpharius said. "His reaction to the missing Administratum ship was faked."
"Indeed it was," Magnus said. "I could practically smell the lie on his breath."
"I don't trust him either," Malcador whispered. "However, we need to learn what truly happened to the ambassadors that we sent here."
"I could hack the cogitator system here," Perturabo said.
"And I can hide his footprints so they don't catch us," Ferrus said. The two made a good team when it came to hacking cogitator systems.
"No," Malcador said more firmly. "I am teaching you diplomacy, so that it is the tact that we will use."
"Alright," the two tech-minded Primarchs said.
"What do you think happened to them, Uncle Malcador?" Magnus asked.
"I'm not sure, though there is no doubt that they are dead," Malcador said. "It's the how that is the interesting part." The Brytheen leader returned to the table and sat back down across from Malcador.
"Have you learned what happened to the ship?" Malcador asked, fixing the leader with a stare.
"It seems to have vanished, lord," the leader said. "My orbital authority has not heard from them, and did not give clearance to depart orbit."
"Interesting," Malcador said. He then rose, indicating for the Primarchs to also rise. "I believe I would like to be shown to my rooms now. I trust that the Primarchs are roomed close to me?"
"Yes, of course, lord," the Brytheen said. He clapped his hands and an attendant entered the room. She lead the Imperium group to a tower where they would be housed for their investigation.
"Is this were the ambassadors were quartered?" Malcador asked the attendant.
"It is, lord," the attendant said.
"What of the illness that claimed them?" Mortarion asked. "This quick fever, is it still present?"
"The quarters were thouroughly cleaned, lord," the attendant stated after a pause. She didn't seem sure of herself.
"What can you tell us of the quick fever?" Mortarion continued. "Is it a common affliction?"
"The quick fever is very dangerous, lord," the attendant said with more surity. "It is most often fatal, and can cause great plagues if the bodies are not handled properly."
"What is the proper disposal method?" Malcador asked, he had been hoping to see the bodies, and was now concered that they had been burned.
"They must be burned, lord," the attendant said resolutely. "The bodies, and anything they were lying upon when they died. Sometimes their belongings also have to be given to the flame."
"What of the belongings of the ambassadors?" Malcador asked. "Were they given to the flames?"
"No, lord," the attendant said. "They were saved, to be presented to you. It was felt that you would want them."
"Yes, I do want them," Malcador said. He could at least have that. "Have their belongings brought to me at once."
"As you wish, lord," the attendant said. "Here are your chambers, lord. The Lord Primarchs are in these six rooms to the right. Three to each room, starting with Lords Jonson, Fulgrim, and Perturabo."
Konrad and Corvus had looked concerned when the room sharing was announced, but relaxed when they learned that it was by number order. Konrad would be in the same room as Sanguinius and Ferrus. Corvus would share with Vulkan and Alpharius.
"Can we explore, Malcador?" Rogal asked, he looked very excited to check out the structure of the castle.
"Lay out your robes for the feast tonight first, and stay in groups," Malcador said after a moment's concideration. He wanted to see what the Primarchs could learn while he checked with the Executor and looked through the belongings of the dead ambassadors.
"Alright, Malcador," Rogal said along with the other Primarchs. They quickly went inside their rooms and laid out the robes they would wear for the welcoming feast the Brytheen had promised them. They then came back out of the rooms and shuffled around into slightly different groups of three. They then headed out in different directions. Malcador poked his head out of his chamber just before all of the Primarchs vanished.
"Keep in contact, our network only," Malcador said as a parting instruction.
"Yes, sir," the Primarchs chorused, setting their vox-beads to the private vox channel. It would keep the Brytheen from knowing who they were talking with, but that was about it. It was better than nothing, The Primarchs could also sub-vocalize to each other, but not to Malcador.
*************************************
"Where should we go?" Corvus asked, looking at the Lion and Vulkan.
"I want to check out their training yard," the Lion said. The castle somewhat reminded him of Aldurukh, the fortress-monestary on Caliban that had been used as the headquarters of the Order before the Lion had taken it as a home for the Dark Angels. Vulkan didn't seem to pleased with the idea. He wanted to check out the forges.
"I bet the forges are close to the training yards," the Lion said, picking up on his brother's displeasure.
"Yeah, and you can get a better idea of the forging quality from the weapons they have in the yard," Corvus said. He also liked the idea of checking out the training yard. Vulkan agreed to that and the three headed off.
Fulgrim, Perturabo, and Ferrus were going around looking at the various examples of Brytheen culture. There were several tapestries and statues around the castle. It intrigued all three of the Primarchs. They turned a corner in hopes of more art, and spotted the attendant that had lead them to their chambers. She appeared to be in a conversation with someone around a corner halfway down the hall.
"He said what?" came the voice of a young man, the person around the corner. "He didn't tell my master that."
"That's not good, the children asked questions," the attendant said. "I had to make up answers because I wasn't informed either."
"What questions?" the man asked.
"They asked if it was a common ailment," she answered.
"What did you tell them?" the man pressed.
"I told them that it was a serious disease that required the bodies to be burned," the attendant said. "I never said if it was common though."
"Hey, guys," Fulgrim said sub-vocally over the vox. "Is anyone near their Apothecarion?"
"I am, with Angron and Konrad," Mortarion answered. "Their chief Apothecary is freaking out over Konrad's teeth."
"Ask him about quick fever," Fulgrim said. "Ferrus, Perturabo and I just heard that the attendant was making things up earlier."
"I can do that," Mortarion said. He turned back to the Master Healer of the Brytheen.
"How does quick fever kill?" Mortarion asked. The Healer turned from Konrad and laughed.
"Who told you that quick fever was lethal?" the man asked.
"Your leader, Master Healer," Mortarion said. The Healer's expression darkened quickly.
"You must have misheard him then," the Master said. "Quick fever is called that because it strikes without warning and leaves nearly as swift. It can cause a lot of damage to the one who contracts it, but it is not fatal."
"What kind of damage does it do?" Angron asked, curious.
"It can cause blindness," the Master said. "That's the most common issue. However, it occasionally drives people into madness."
"Thank you, Master Healer," Konrad said. "I believe we need to head back to our quarters to change for the feast."
"As you wish, Lord Primarchs," the Master responded. "Do you need an escort back?"
"That won't be necessary," Mortarion said. "Thank you for the offer however."
Konrad, Angron, and Mortarion quickly headed back to the tower that held the chambers they would be staying in. They knocked on Malcador's door after ensuring that no one had followed them.
"What is it?" Malcador asked, looking up from the belongings of the ambassadors.
"Fulgrim, Perturabo, and Ferrus overheard that the attendant who showed us up here was lying about the quick fever," Konrad started.
"We were in their Apothecarion and asked their Master Apothecary," Angron said. "He confirmed that the woman was lying."
"It seems quick fever causes blindness, and sometimes madness," Mortarion said. "However, it's not fatal according to the Apothecary."
"That is very interesting," Malcador said. He was quite pleased with the Primarchs for having gotten that information for him. "It was wise of you to not vox me about that."
"What are we going to do about it?" Angron asked. He hated being lied to.
"Nothing, yet," Malcador said. "We would have to admit that Fulgrim, Perturabo, and Ferrus were eavesdropping and that would look suspicious to the Brytheen."
"That makes sense," Mortarion said. Fulgrim, Perturabo, and Ferrus entered at that point.
"The attendant hadn't been informed that the ambassadors had 'died' of quick fever," Fulgrim reported.
"She was telling someone who seems to be an assistant to the Apothecary," Ferrus said.
"The Apothecary wasn't aware of that story either," Konrad said. "He said we must have misheard the leader when we asked about quick fever."
"That implies that he wasn't expecting me to lead with questions about the ambassadors," Malcador said. "He must think poorly of envoys then."
"Why wouldn't he expect you to start with that?" Angron asked. "That's the whole point of our coming, to find out why the negotiations had faltered."
"Indeed, hence his poor view of envoys," Malcador said. "Have your brothers all come back, it might not be safe for them out there."
"Bad news guys," Fulgrim said into the vox. "Malcador's pulling the plug on exploring due to safety concerns."
"The Brytheen lied to us," Angron added. "The ambassadors didn't die of quick fever."
The other Primarchs returned quickly on hearing that. There was no complaining, even from Vulkan who didn't get to see the main forges, just a small smithy near the training yard. They spent the rest of the time preparing for the welcoming feast. The attendant reappeared and led them to the feasting hall. Instead of tables and chairs set for a feast, the Brytheen leader was standing next to a man in archaic power armor. The power armor man was the leader's Champion. The Brytheen had managed to maintain a few suits of power armor, much as Caliban had before the return of the Imperium.
"What is the meaning of this?" Malcador asked. He strode forwards, waving the Primarchs behind him with the butt of his staff of office. "I thought this was to be a feast."
"You were, misinformed," the leader said. There was nothing of the apologetic nature that had marked the man before. "We will have no part of this Imperium of yours."
"That does not mean that you had to kill our ambassadors," Malcador said. "That just makes things worse for you."
The Champion moved forwards, standing between the leader and Malcador. He flexed a power gauntlet that was very similar to a power fist. Malcador didn't back down from his position. The Champion opened the gauntlet so it was like a hand, and then slapped Malcador. The Sigilite was sent flying down the hall, past the Primarchs.
"MALCADOR!!!" the Primarchs yelled with one voice. Malcador landed heavily on the floor, his staff skittered a few meters away from him. Magnus and the other Primarchs turned to face the leader, his eye was a bright, fire-like, red. Sanguinius also radiated anger, his eyes became a blood red.
"You see the futility of fighting," the leader said from behind his Champion. "My Champion is invincible. Clear these foolish children from my hall."
The Champion strode forwards, already close to the Primarchs. Malcador rose, calling his staff back to his hand. He was mostly unharmed from the strike, though his nose was broken, as was his ankle. The rest of his body was merely sore. He lifted his free hand and sent the Champion flying backwards in turn. He then turned to the Primarchs.
"Run!" he called as he began to follow his own order. The majority of the Primarchs followed, but both Magnus and Sanguinius remained.
"Magnus! Sanguinius!" Malcador called out. Magnus turned after another microsecond of hesitation. Sanguinius shook himself, then turned, his eyes fading to amber on the way back to their normal blue.
"GUARDS!!!!!!" called the leader. "Capture the Imperium party!"
Guards began to flow from various corridors, cutting off their escape route.
"This way!" Rogal called, he lifted a tapestry, revealing a hidden door. It opened out onto a tight spiral staircase. Rogal quickly began to descend. He had been with Leman and Alpharius when they were exploring. They had been looking for things like hidden doors.
*****************************
Malcador was falling behind the Primarchs. Typically he could keep pace with them due to their smaller size. However, his ankle was painful, and it made going faster than a brisk walk feel like he was walking on broken glass. Magnus noted, and tried to get the others to slow down.
"We need to keep going," Malcador said with a shake of his head. "I will manage."
"Are you sure, Uncle Malcador?" Magnus asked. Malcador gave a firm nod in answer, focusing on keeping up with the others. There was another door at the bottom of the stair, it opened up to the forest that stood at the back of the castle. They quickly headed into the woods, Konrad and Corvus hung back and obscured their path.
"Vulkan, do you think you can make a smokeless fire out of this wood?" Horus asked. This was somewhat reminding him of Centae Quintus. Vulkan looked around.
"I'm not sure," Vulkan said after a moment of consideration. "I haven't had a chance to check out this wood before this, it all depends on the quality of the wood.
"If we can have a smokeless fire, that would be preferable to not having one," Horus said. "We don't want them finding us by following the smoke."
"A fire could give our position away due to the light," Leman pointed out.
"True, but it would be better to risk a fire than not have one," Horus said. "We can see in the dark, but Malcador can't."
"There's also the fact that we haven't eaten," the Lion said. He was starting to get hungry. "We can eat raw meat, but it isn't safe for Malcador to eat raw meat."
They made it to a large clearing before Malcador's ankle gave out completely. He nearly fell again as his ankle failed to take his weight. Magnus caught him, and everyone stopped.
"I can't go any farther without a rest," Malcador said, he sounded annoyed. He didn't think they were far enough from the castle.
"We can rest here," Horus said. "Vulkan, check out the wood. Rogal, what can you do for a shelter that blends in?"
Rogal looked around at the clearing and the building materials he had to hand. "I can do something that should work for the night. Shall I start?"
"Yes," Horus said.
"No," Malcador said. "We will rest here for a bit, but then we will move on."
"Alright, Malcador," Rogal said. He looked somewhat disappointed.
"Keep the thought in mind though, we will need a shelter for the night when we are farther from the castle," Malcador said. This seemed to mollify Rogal a bit. They stayed for a bit, every few minutes Malcador would try to rise from the rock that Magnus had assisted him to. Each time he fell back, looking angrier each time. Finally, he managed to stand, leaning heavily on his staff.
"Alright, let's go," Malcador said. He stepped forwards, using his staff as a crutch. "We don't have a lot of daylight left."
"True," Horus said. Vulkan had determined that he could make a smokeless fire out of the wood available. "Vulkan, Rogal, grab what you need for fire and shelter as we go. You aren't going to have a lot of time when we do pick a camp."
"I'll go ahead and try to find something," Jaghatai said. He ran off ahead of the others.
"Leman and I can work on finding something for us to eat," the Lion suggested. Leman nodded his agreement to the suggestion.
"I'll take water duty again," Mortarion said. "I even have some water purifier from the Executor."
"Good idea," Horus said. "Perturabo, Ferrus, can you guys make us cups and utensils on the go?"
"Yeah, that shouldn't be too hard," Perturabo said. Ferrus nodded. The others ranged around Malcador, keeping as close to him as possible. Konrad and Corvus continued to cover their tracks.
"I found a place that should work," Jaghatai voxed back after a while. he had gone quite a ways ahead of the others.
"How far?" Malcador asked. Ferrus pulled out an auspex unit from his pocket. He always had an auspex unit on him.
"Thirty-six meters," Ferrus said after taking the reading. "Can you make it that far?" This was asked with more concern than was normal for Ferrus.
"I will have to, Ferrus," Malcador said. He steeled himself for the long walk ahead. Magnus and Sanguinius fell in on either side of him. He was thankful for their prescence. He was aware that he was likely to need them again before they made it to the campsite.
Malcador made it most of the way before his ankle gave out again. Magnus adjusted his height and put an arm around Malcador. Malcador placed his free arm around Magnus, Rogal picked up his pace and made it to the campsite well before Malcador and Magnus.
"Jaghatai, can you weave these branches into a mattress for Malcador?" Rogal said, indicating the branches that he was holding.
"Yeah," Jaghatai said, taking the stack of branches and sitting. "How is he?"
"HIs ankle gave out again about five meters out," Rogal said. That's why I came ahead. I want to get the shelter started before he gets here. Magnus is helping him."
Vulkan was the next arrival. He had also quickened his pace so that there would be a fire when Malcador arrived. The others came in trickles, the Lion and Leman came in together carrying a very large animal between them. Magnus and Malcador arrived just ahead of Konrad and Corvus.
"Over here, Malcador," Jaghatai called. He had just placed the mattress where Rogal said he wanted it. "I made a mattress for you."
"Thank you, Jaghatai," Malcador said as he hobbled over with Magnus' help. He stretched his leg out in front of him as he sank down onto the low mattress.
"We need to get a hold of Father," Horus said after a few moments.
"True, Horus," Malcador said. "I think it'll be better if I speak to him directly."
"That makes sense," Horus said. "The vox traffic from the Executor is likely to be monitored by the Brytheen." Malcador nodded his approval.
"Do you need us to go elsewhere?" the Lion asked. Malcador shook his head.
"No, he's not that far, just be quiet please," Malcador said. He adjusted himself on his mattress and reached out for the Emperor across the warp. He appeared before the Emperor who was in his sanctum on the Imperator Somnium. It looked a bit weird because he was seated, and there was nothing to sit on where he appeared in the sanctum.
"Malcador? What happened?" the Emperor asked, noting that Malcador was injured. "Are my sons alright?"
"The Primarchs are unharmed, lord," Malcador said. "The Brytheen will not come to compliance by diplomatic means."
"What happened to you?" the Emperor asked with concern.
"I got slapped by the Brytheen Champion," Malcador replied. "He was wearing a power gauntlet."
"Where are you?" the Emperor asked with an undercurrent of anger.
"We are in the woods to the east of the castle," Malcador replied. "I fear that we are no longer welcome there."
"Can you make it back to the Executor?" the Emperor asked. Malcador shook his head.
"They likely have it under surveillence," Malcador said. "Besides, the Thunderhawk we came down in is back at the castle."
"If it's still useable," the Emperor said, seeing the problems with that. "Can you hold there? It will be three days before the Imperator Somnium can make it to Brytheen."
"I am sure that with the Primarchs help, we can hold here until you arrive," Malcador said, managing a smile.
"Good," the Emperor said. "I will find you in three days."
"Very well, lord," Malcador said and ended the communication.
"What did he say, Uncle Malcador?" Magnus asked once he was sure Malcador would answer.
"He is on his way, we need to hold for three days," Malcador.
"We'll need to hide then," Corvus said. "You need to rest your ankle so that it heals."
"I can move our shelters to the trees tomorrow," Rogal said. "These are nice broad trees, and their branches seem to intertwine. That means we can move around in the trees without being seen."
"Yeah, that's a great idea," Horus said. Malcador looked up at the trees and nodded. He also noted that the branches were quite thick which meant they could support Vulkan. Just then, something slithered past his outstretched leg. Looking, he spotted a snake and jerked his leg back. His sound of disgust turned into a pained groan as he jostled his ankle in a painful way.
"What is it, Uncle Malcador?" Magnus said. He had stepped away from Malcador, but spun about when he heard Malcador groan.
"It's a snake," Malcador said, the snake was moving towards him and he was trying to move away from it, his injured leg snagged on the weave of the mattress. "I hate snakes."
The Lion quickly came over and grabbed the snake. Unsure of how dangerous the snake was, he took the ceremonial knife he had with him and killed the snake. He then threw the body into the fire. Malcador relaxed as soon as the snake was dead.
"Why do you hate snakes, Malcador?" Fulgrim asked. He rather liked snakes.
"I had a bad experience with one when I was a boy," Malcador said. His father had made Malcador hack a snake to pieces after it had gotten into the yard.
A shocked silence greeted this announcement. The only sound was the crackling of the fire. All of the Primarchs were staring at Malcador. He stared back at them and then raised an eyebrow.
"You didn't think that I sprang into existance as a frail, old man did you?" Malcador asked. He liked the guise of the frail, old man as it caused people to underestimate him. Angron, mouth still open in shock, nodded his head slightly.
"I am a human normal," Malcador said. "You all know that."
"What did you look like as a child?" Fulgrim asked. "Are there picts?"
"There might be some picts somewhere," Malcador said. "I haven't gone looking recently. I looked like a child when I was a child."
"That's not an answer," Ferrus said. "I look different from my brothers, even though we are all children."
"If you really want to know I looked a bit like Roboute," Malcador said.
"Really?" Roboute asked. Malcador nodded with a smile. Magnus looked at everyone like they all had two heads.
"He doesn't even really look like a frail, old man," Magnus said. "It's a psychic projection."
"We know that the old man part is an act," Lorgar retorted. "That just makes it even harder to think of him as a child like ourselves."
"Yeah, I think the only ones who know what he really looks like are the Sisters of Silence," Leman said. "And Allfather of course."
"Leman's right, and none of them are going to tell us," the Lion said.
"If it helps at all, the old man part isn't an act anymore," Malcador said. His lifespan had been greatly extended by working with the Emperor, and his own psychic power. This didn't stop the aging process completely, but it slowed it down by a lot.
"So it's not as much of an act as it once was?" Horus asked.
"Indeed," Malcador said. Magnus brought him a plate of meat from the animal that the Lion and Leman had killed. "Thank you, Magnus."
"That was still quite the metaphorical bombshell," Rogal said.
"You know, even Valdor was a child once," Malcador said. "Though that wasn't for very long."
"That's just as bad as trying to think of you as a child," Konrad said.
"Here's the one that even I have issues with," Malcador said with a sly smile. "Your father claims to have once been a child."
Shock claimed the Primarchs once more. Sanguinius nearly dropped his plate, Corvus lost his slice of meat to the fire.
"That is completely unbelievable," Fulgrim said. "I won't believe that without some form of pict."
"He says there are none," Malcador said. "I asked for a pict myself when he told me."
"That's annoying," Fulgrim said. Mortarion nodded his agreement with Fulgrim, and then yawned.
"We need to set up a watch rotation before we go to bed," Horus said. "Do we want to do the same groupings as Centae Qunitus? We could do four hour watches here."
"I like that plan," Konrad said. "That means that Angron, Corvus, and I have first watch."
"It also means that Malcador doesn't have to stand a watch," Magnus said. The other Primarchs nodded their agreement.
"Also, not everyone will have watch each night," the Lion said. "The nights here aren't long enough for that."
"Exactly why I suggested four hour watches," Horus said. "Two groups stand watch each night, then everyone gets two full nights of sleep." Magnus was alright with this because he had the second half of the first night with Fulgrim and Perturabo. This meant that he could spend the rest of the time close to Malcador.
*****************************************
The first night passed without incident. Malcador slept well enough on the mattress Jaghatai had made for him. He rather hoped that it could be brought up into the trees with them. He was sore all over when he woke, but he had expected that. His ankle was badly swollen, but without medical supplies there wasn't much they could do about it.
"How is Malcador supposed to get up the tree?" Mortarion asked. "I doubt he can climb a tree with his ankle all messed up."
"I have a swing that he can sit in and then Sanguinius and Vulkan will pull him up," Rogal said. He indicated a crude swing that was dangling from one of the taller trees in the clearing. "I knew he couldn't make it up the tree with his ankle."
"I wish there was something more we could do for him with his ankle," Corvus said. He didn't like not being able to help Malcador.
"I do too," Horus said. "However, there's nothing here to work with. If we had our gear with us from the castle we could splint his ankle."
"Yeah, we would have to tear our robes, or let Fulgrim go naked if we wanted to do that," Corvus said.
"Did someone say 'let Fulgrim go naked'?" Fulgrim asked, perking up a bit at the sound of his name and naked being in the same sentence.
"It wasn't a suggestion," Corvus said quickly, though he was smiling.
"Yeah, keep your tail down, peacock," Horus said with a laugh. Fulgrim stuck his tongue out at Horus, but smiled anyway. Malcador chuckled at the exchange. The Primarchs looked over, they hadn't been aware that Malcador had woken up.
"Good morning, Malcador," Sanguinius said. "How is your ankle?"
"It's still painful," Malcador said. "I don't heal as quickly as you all."
"Is there anything we can do to ease the pain?" Corvus asked.
"Not really, Corvus," Malcador admitted. "As you and Horus were pointing out, there just isn't the material we need to make a proper splint, and at this point my ankle is too swollen for a splint to be much use."
"Well, some of the others are out making false trails," Horus said. "Lion and Leman are trying to get more food for us."
"The rest of us have been helping me move the shelters," Rogal said, he was climbing a tree again. "I just have a few final things to do before it's all ready."
"We wanted you to get all the rest you needed," Corvus said. "The sun's been up for several hours."
"All done!" Rogal called from the trees after a few moments. "Someone want to help Malcador to the swing?"
"I will," Corvus called out. "Magnus is out making trails."
"I'm surprised that you got him to do that," Malcador said. He had expected Magnus to be glued to his side.
"I persuaded him that is was the most helpful thing he could do for you," Horus said. Corvus helped Malcador to stand, and then move over to the swing. Malcador then noticed that his staff was missing.
"Where is my staff?" Malcador asked. He could summon it, but he felt the need to ask first.
"I already brought it up here," Sanguinius said from the trees. Vulkan was standing next to him. They were behind a pair of long branches that were part of the swing that Rogal had made. They then pulled up on the branches, connecting them to ledges further up the tree. This brought Malcador up into the trees.
"Thank you," Malcador said when he reached the tree branches they would be staying in. Vulkan helped him move off of the swing and then over to a new shelter that Rogal had made. Vulkan then left and returned several minutes later with the mattress from the previous night.
"Now if they find our trail they will think that we've moved on," Corvus said. "They'll figure that one of the trails must be true, but all of them are false."
"An excellent misdirection," Malcador said with approval. "It's not most people's first instinct to look up. Especially when there are other signs."
"Those were my thoughts," Corvus said.
**************************************
The next two days were tense, but uneventful. There was no sign of the Brytheen. This made the Primarchs happy, but no less watchful. They knew that the Brytheen could be trying to lull them into a false sense of security. Malcador was also watchful, but there wasn't much he could do with his ankle as it was. There was much relief in the camp when the spotted the atmospheric streaks that indicated dropcraft.
One of the dropcraft peeled away from formation with the others. It turned towards their direction. After several moments it resolved into the familiar shape of a Thunderhawk. Ferrus activated a tracking mode on his auspex unit that would signal to the Thunderhawk, allowing the dropship to locate them easier. Malador's vox bead came to life.
"I have a fix on your location," the Emperor said. "Is there a place to land?"
"I believe you can fit the Thunderhawk in the clearing below us, lord," Malcador said. "We are up in the trees.
"Alright, I will land below you," the Emperor said. "I'll be there in two minutes."
"Who is it?" Horus asked.
"Your father," Malcador replied. "He'll be here in two minutes."
"Do you want me to help you to the swing, Uncle Malcador?" Magnus asked.
"Let's wait until your father has arrived," Malcador said. "He'll be landing in the clearing below us."
The Thunderhawk appeared and landed with two meters to spare around the clearing. The Emperor stepped out of the ship and looked up.
"Do you need assistance, Malcador?" the Emperor called up.
"Your sons have it well in hand, lord," Malcador called back. Magnus had already helped him to the swing. Sanguinius and Vulkan took up their positions and lowered the swing to the ground. The Emperor waited at the base of the tree and assisted Malcador to the Thunderhawk. Sanguinius flew down, holding Malcador's staff. He passed it up to Malcador in the pilot's compartment of the ship.
The other Primarchs quickly climbed down and boarded the Thunderhawk. The Emperor then took them to the castle, where Valdor was waiting. He had a medicae with him to tend to Malcador.
"It's a good thing that you didn't walk on it any further than you had to, lord," the medicae said after she made her assessment. "This is a serious break in your ankle."
"I rather feared it was," Malcador said. "It's one of the most painful injuries I have had in a long time."
"I have medications I can give you for that," the medicae stated quickly.
"That would be much appreciated," Malcador said. The Brytheen leader was led past them, and the Primarchs made a barrier between the man and Malcador. They all looked angry, but kept silent. The Emperor stepped in front of their leader.
"I understand that it was your Champion that injured Malcador," the Emperor said in a soft voice.
"What are you going to do about it?" the Brytheen asked, glaring up at the Emperor. "My Champion is invincible."
"Your Champion did nothing more than slap an old man across a feasting hall," Magnus said angrily. The Emperor held up a hand to silence the Primarchs.
"I do not take kindly to people injuring my representatives," the Emperor said, keeping his voice soft. "It is something that I punish quite severly. Bring in the Champion."
The Champion was dragged in by two Custodians. Both were giant compared to the Champion, even with his power armor. The Emperor approached the Champion, and then struck the Champion with his own open hand. The Champion's head landed at the feet of the Brytheen leader.
"Take him away," the Emperor said. "Take the body as well." Custodians turned to do their master's bidding. The medicae finished with Malcador's ankle and stepped away.
"Father, did you know that Malcador doesn't like snakes?" Fulgrim asked once the medicae had left.
"Yes, Fulgrim," the Emperor said. "I was aware of that. How did you learn of it?"
"We encountered a snake on the first night in the woods," Malcador said. "It took an interest in me."
"I took care of it though," the Lion said with a slightly proud smile. The Emperor was only slightly surprised by that. He had expected Magnus to deal with it. However, he suspected that the Lion may have beaten Magnus to the snake.
"They were quite shocked when I told them that I was once a boy," Malcador said with a smile. He was beginning to to feel drowsy due to the pain medications.
"He then said that you claim to have once been a boy yourself," Lorgar said. The other Primarchs looked up at the Emperor with excitement in their eyes. The Emperor chuckled quietly.
"I was once a boy," the Emperor stated.
"I want to see picts before I believe that," Fulgrim said.
"There are none," the Emperor said, already aware this would be an uphill battle.
"Why not?" Jaghatai asked instantly.
"We could barely form metal into tools when I was a boy," the Emperor said. "There were no cameras."
"That's stupid," Angron said.
"I was a child a very, very long time ago," the Emperor said.
"That doesn't make it any better," Angron insisted.
"There was nothing I could do about it," the Emperor said. "I was a child."
"He had a point there, Angron," Roboute said. Angron looked annoyed, but conceeded the point. The Emperor turned to the chair Malcador was seated in. The Sigilite had fallen asleep. The Emperor placed a hand on Malcador's shoulder, and gently woke him.
"Let's get off this rock," Perturabo said. The other Primarchs indicated their agreement, as did Malcador. They all returned to the Imperator Somnium, happy to be leaving the Brytheen behind.
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Comments

  1. Nyctophora's Avatar
    Poor Malcador. But I bet the Primarchs make awesome woodsmen.
  2. Lady Lion's Avatar
    Yes they do

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