[THE BROTHERHOOD CHAPTERHOUSE, FREEHOLD; JUNE 01, 2019 (WR)]
The ritual room was windowless and made hazy by dozens of lit candles. Flickering softly with the opened door, they lined the three-foot wide circle drawn in the middle of the chamber. The hall outside was equally dim, the sconced torches along the walls burning low. Thus, the ingress of the Brotherhood mercenaries and their guests was greeted only by a slight brightening and the echoing sounds of booted feet scuffing the stone floors.
Clad in black garb and white crosses, Brothers Mars and Grim flanked the door after they entered. The former had to bow slightly to prevent the sheathed swords at his back from hitting the doorway while the latter did so anyway from his height — he only bore the Tome hanging from his belt. They watched their Solari visitors take their places at the far corners of the circle, with one Sun Elf standing in the center. Wearing red and gold and the Solari Sun, the Commander, the Purifier, and the Hierophant were guarded, yet peered curiously at every rune, candle, and device they had passed.
In particular, Hierophant Luthaniel abandoned decorum for curiosity. “So many wards and in such primitive forms!” They whispered in awe. “How did they ever resist the might of the Emperor?”
Purifier Azrael grinned. “Resilience and persistence. You could not cut it from them if you tried. I, however –”
“Purifier.” Commander Malphas’ rebuke was softly spoken, yet there was enough power in it to quiet his subordinates.
Sister Iris, veiled and armored, and Brother Jagentuefel filed in behind them, standing at the corners nearest the door to face the Sun Elves. Jagenteufel doffed his wide-brimmed hat immediately after entering.
Their brethren beside the door closed it and approached the circle. They halted at its edge, but not before Brother Mars placed a chest at the center and opened it. He exchanged a hateful stare at the Elf that had ordered the destruction of so many of his brethren — but he was mindful enough not to break the circle with a misstep as he took his place.
Commander Malphas gazed upon the soft green light of the chest’s contents with equal measures of awe and vigilance. “Purified Vashalla. I had scarcely thought I would see it given to us by the Kingdoms after the Summit.”
“They’re not giving you the ore,” Mars sneered at them. “We’re giving you some of our Mercurium (which is what it’s actually called, idiot).”
“Then we are both renegades in our own way,” the Commander nodded serenely. “The Emperor does not approve of our actions as well, but Midworld is far more important than the lives and freedoms of a few Solari outlaws.”
“Nein nein, do not bother commiserating,” Jagenteufel stiffened his stance. “And do not mistake cooperation for forgiveness.”
Iris’ eyes narrowed above her veil. “We know that the Sun Empire is still a threat after the Immortals have been defeated. We’re not fool enough to be blind to the battles to come, Elf.”
Grim held up his hands. “Umm… Guys?”
Purifier Azrael’s grin turned into a knife-sharp smile. “Everything I have done, I did without remorse… and for the Glory of the Emperor.”
“Glory to His Name, Ilthari*!” From their corner, the Hierophant brought their hands together, gathering powerful energies with a single thought.
Mars reached up for the swords slung behind his back. “I’m not sure what that means. But you said it weir–”
“Enough.” The Commander’s voice cut through the din once more, a ray of light burning through a rolling mist. “We have common foes and they have the upper hand. To bicker now is to allow them victory. We have a task before us — let us see it through.”
A thousand ages seemed to pass as his words hung in the air. He glanced at the Elves behind him and they dropped their arms. The mercenaries in front of him did the same, Grim letting his arms down with a sigh.
When he was satisfied that the situation was de-escalated, he waved the Hierophant over and took their place at the corner. The Hierophant spared a few disdainful glances at the Brotherhood in front of them for a moment before they began to chant and to channel.
As one, the room joined Hierophant Luthaniel.
When they finished the ritual, hours later — the candles were spent, the Mercurium was gone and they could not speak for several days afterward. However, the intangible dome around Freehold was visible and silvery for only a minute before it shimmered into invisibility. The true proof of their success could only be guessed at, even by themselves.
*Glory to His Name: The usual response to the Solari rhetoric: “Glory to the Emperor”
*ILTHARI: “the unburned”, a term Solari use for non-Solari. Sometimes used as a derogatory term.