Cerberus XIII, Tarterus hive, Amalthea sector
In the main square of Amalthea, a camp had been set up, and in its center a large tent was erected, its walls colored in black, gray and red, as heat that rises. The corner posts were decorated with crips of scripture and fragrant censers.
In the tent's interior Zebaot, the Teacher, was sitting, cross-legged, on a thick carpet. The carpet was old and worn, repaired many times. It had been woven in Anachum, in honor of the Bearers of the Word, and its threads documented their deeds, with sacred scripture woven into the fabric. It reminded Zebaot of Colchis, of their ancient home. A whole world destroyed for a man's pride. A reminder of why they fought, though neither Colchis or Anachum no longer existed.
So many worlds, over eons of time and vast distances. But what was time and place? Only a mirror, a fossilisation of the Other side, the fabric of the universe. They fought for Eternity, and the Eternal was their allies and servants. They woke people wherever they stayed, and no matter how hard the False God's servants stomped on the Flames of Truth they could not extinguish them. Soon enough the fire would flare up again, and devour the lies.
He followed a pattern in the fabric with his hand, as he spoke to the one who stood in the opening to the tent's exterior rooms. The language they spoke had not been spoken by mortals for millennia, for only the faithful from Colchis preserved its memory.
"Brother, do you remember the night when we were given this? Horn and the zither, and the fire in their souls when they rejoiced in their victory and their freedom?"
Chaplain Zebaot, Father of the Flame of Truth, the Great Teacher of Cerberus, rose and went to sit on one of the chairs in the room. His guest sat with him, and swept back his hood and took off his mask. Like his leader the years weighed heavy on his face, without leeching any of his strength from him. His eyes were deep, and a light played in their depths. His skin was covered with fine lines, as a densely written sheet of parchment. Sometimes they glowed, as if a fire flared up inside his mind.
"Brother Marchosias, tell me. I have heard parts of the story from our allies already, but give me your assessment."
Marchosias, brother and Magos, sat quietly for a moment.
"The signs I had seen were true. They came from the desert, from two sides. I put the greater strength of our allies to meet the northern attack, because I was worried about how their nature would affect the morale of the mortals. Entropy can be intimidating for the uninitiated. "
The teacher nodded. "The Fallen sent Titanicus against us, I saw. But their attack was costly, for they were destroyed, and what care the Eternal about what happens to their worldly bodies?"
"Eternity is Near Us," replied Marchosias. "The soldiers stood firm, both our children of Cerberus and the soldiers from Krieg. I had had my doubts about their loyalty, especially now that their leader had been taken by the enemy, but you were right, of course. They feared the Eternal ones, but their loyalty to their leaders and their fear of our enemies were stronger." He laughed. "Krabbenhöft seemed convinced that she still fight for the False Emperor, even now, even after seeing its faithful face to face!"
Zebaot smiled mildly. "The most confident can always find ways to justify their actions to themselves. But we'll keep her under observation. They are valuable allies, but if her conviction is broken by her doubt she can become unreliable. Call her to me, and we will see how her conviction will handle the truth. "
Marchosias bowed his head. His apostle saw most clearly, as always.
"We held them long enough to complete the first stage of the ritual," he continued. "In the end we were forced to retreat. We lost few brothers or sisters, eternity be blessed. Most of the force of the attack was borne by the daemons and our friends from Krieg."
"That is good and just. The Long War rages ever, and ever it calls us. The peace of eternity is not yet our lot."
"Ask Sister Marax to see me, brother. We need to discuss the defense of the city before evening comes. And then the people is waiting to hear the Word of Truth."
Marchosias rose and bowed, before he drew the mask over his face and left the tent.
When the door to the tent closed, the Teacher sat back down on the carpet, in the middle of the room. His gaze was directed toward the room's back wall, where banners hung. On a low bench, almost an altar, was a great book, closed, its front adorned with a stylized flame. The altar was flanked by two censers of black iron. In front of them he sat in silence. After a moment of meditation, he opened his Third Eye, and smiled.
"Welcome, old friend. I thank you for the help of you and yours. More battles are waiting. I assume you already can taste the death and decay they portend."