"Allies from the Warp"...Everyone here had seen Daemons, yet the Word Bearer zealots kept referring to them as "allies from the Warp".
Rutger sighed, but it sounded more like a growl. Couldn't be helped, a World Eater's place in the universe was it a weapon in his hand, either eviscerating an enemy or practicing with a brother (which sometimes ended in the same gory way). Instead, here he was, surrounded by others of his Legion - each and every one of them showing the same impatience, apart from Phract, who always seemed focused on whatever he was doing - and the crimson marines of the Word Bearers.
Usually, Angron's legionnaries would never have agreed to this, but the Word Bearer Chaplain leading this detachment had pleaded with the World Eaters' commander, Sagittar Phract. Pleaded so much that he managed to accomplish the extraordinary feat of exhausting the impassible Terminator's patience, and earning himself a decapitation. The Word Bearer's second-in-command was much more to-the-point, making Phract understand that this was not a convocation of mere Bloodletters they were talking about.
So here they were, far away from the main joint force, waiting from something to come out of the blasted portal howling a few metres from them. The Word Bearers had been chanting for an hour, yet, apart from a few Bloodletters, nothing had come out. Certainly nothing that justified Lorgar's lapdogs' enthusiasm.
"Lend a hand, brothers", Saggitar Phract transmitted on a private channel, and seven hundred weapons activated, muting both the portal's incessant howling and the Word Bearers' chantings. Both resumed the next moment, the chanting now much louder and with a tinge of despair that made more than a few laughs erupt from the World Eaters assembled on the site.
It seemed to work, but as soon as the silhouette inside the portal became clearer, Rutger wondered if it was for the best. He felt discomfort, so deep it seemed to make his blood run different, hotter. Then, as the creature emerged and advanced between both Legions' ranks, the feeling vanished, yet his blood's temperature kept rising.
The size alone was staggering, more than twice the height of a Terminator and much wider. It was hunched, with a lionine mane and a snout that resembled a skeletal dog's, but with no lips covering the great fangs. Its horns were ivory and covered in iron spikes and trophies.
It seemed covered in dry blood, a disgusting brownish red, but Rutger noticed it was simply the colour of its skin. Powerful, hooved legs carried the Daemon, but it was its upper body that demonstrated this beast had been created with pure violence in mind. Disproportionally muscular, with two arms wider than a Space Marine, both covered plaques of brass that clanked together with the sound of a fortress gate shutting closed. From the back of the Daemon, two huge leathery wings emerged, black as an abyss.
And it carried an axe. And axe almost as tall as its owner, with a daemonic face on its iron surface and with a handle covered in patched skin. Human skin, something told Rutner.
The Daemon stopped a few metres before Phract, and Rutner could barely keep himself from striking the word Bearers across him. Or even one of his brethren, so strong was the bloodlust this creature carried with it.
The World Eaters' commander rolled his shoulders and snorted, but Rutner noticed his breathing was faster. He looked to one of his bodyguards, another Terminator.
"Horon", Phract said simply, and the hulking warrior came forth, putting himself in front of the Daemon and attacking a second later.
To his credit, Horon didn't fall to the old cliché of the supposed champion who gets swatted aside with ease. Too many times had Rutger seen the leaders of non-compliant worlds call forth "the greatest of their warriors" to duel Angron, Phract or Kharn, only for the fight to last a mere seconds, the outcome invariably bloody. Horon was proving capable, though Rutger knew he was a warrior, not a duellist, at heart. The World Eater swung his Eviscerator at the creature's legs, but it took flight, coming down the next second like a Land Raider dropping from a carrier. Horon evaded the descending monster, but it grabbed the Terminator by its shoulder with a speed that shouldn't have been possible for its size, and smashed his weapon-arm with a hoof. It held Horon in the air and, with an upwards slash of the huge axe in inverted grasp, rent the Legionnaire open from groin to head.
Then it simply hoisted the dead Astartes above its head and drank his blood, before throwing the body into the midst of the Word Bearers.
The Word Bearer Sorceror was at Phract's side, his anxiety almost palpable. Without ever taking his eyes off the monstrosity, the World Eater sated the other's expectance, and Rutger thought he saw a smile pass across the old warrior's expression.
"Welcome, bloodgorger. You are among equals"