Dark Imperium by Guy Haley

Dark Imperium by Guy Haley

Author:Guy Haley
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 2017-04-03T13:26:29+00:00

Chapter Thirteen

The Triumph at Raukos

Upon the martial square of 108/Beta-Kalapus-9.2, the whole of the Indomitus Crusade was arrayed in full. They faced the August Victorium, the vast edifice, framed by gigantic statues, carved into the remodelled hills solely for this day.

A single cannon boomed. The bell on the highest tower began to toll one hundred and twelve times: one for each year of the Indomitus Crusade.

At this signal, a bizarre flock burst from the pillared upper gallery of the August Victorium. Servo-skulls, cyber-angels, elder prelates on grav-powered sermonisers and vat-grown gene-constructs flew out over the square. They emerged in a fog of incense, the banners they carried stirring the scented mist into curling vortices. A dozen different hymns, sung all at once and with varying degrees of loveliness, competed with shouted exhortations to worship. As this aerial flock dispersed to soar over the martial square, down the steps of the August Victorium floated, walked, crawled, rode and sang priests of every kind, accompanied by all their attendant devices. There were hundreds of them, from the richest to the poorest, from moderate cardinals to firebrand preachers. Between them, auto-preachers crabbed sideways on clanking legs, the mouldering brains of the martyrs within roaring out religious epithets through primitive augmitters. Behind the priests, unruly hordes of flagellants beat at themselves. Every sect of the Adeptus Ministorum with any pretension to power had members present at the Triumph of Raukos. They followed Roboute Guilliman like flies followed cattle, and no matter how often he swatted them away, they always came back.

The stream of holy men went on for an hour, as if the carved range of hills were full to bursting with them. They filled the avenues between the warriors standing to attention, though they set no foot on the carpet running down the very centre aisle. None dared do that, for that was Guilliman’s alone to tread.

They sang and mumbled and prayed. A dozen bishops and all their aides and servitors and whispering confidantes stalked after the priestly horde in pompous parade, each vying with the others in displays of opulence or contrary poverty. Finally, there came a veritable wagon train of sacred arks bearing the bones of dead saints and fallen heroes of the Indomitus Crusade, these also accompanied by immense throngs of the faithful.

In their pageantry, in their sheer number and bombast, the priests almost overshadowed the arrival of the primarch.

Almost, but not quite.

Frater Mathieu was the only priest looking down upon the arrival. He was stood upon on a wide prominence over the steps, carved from the flesh of the land earlier that week. There were twenty cardinals up there, too, somewhere at the back in the crowd, but they affected a lack of interest in the lower orders of clergy. They were closer to the Emperor; they had no need to watch the devotional display of their inferiors.

In form, the promontory of the August Victorium was, Mathieu supposed, a sort of balcony, with a balustrade and doors that led to the rooms within the hill, and the long colonnade above it whence the cyber-angels came.


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