FYI. This is the draft version of the fluff background for a set of games that I’ll be playing with some friends, pitting Tau vs Aeldari in a linked campaign that does a 40k version of the Invasion of Normandy from World War II. Changes will be made as the narrative solidifies.
“Ah, good kin. So glad you could join me. Your seer-sight did steer you right, I assure you.”
The Warlock exchanged a bemused glance with her Autarch at the words uttered by their host. To call them “kin” was near-insult, and the Warlock’s visions were clouded with all manner of warning signs. Even finding this eddy of the Webway with their own small craft, and docking with this entirely suspect Voidship left them near-convinced this was a bad plan from the start. This was a Drukhari ship, and their host an Archon named Yraleath.
“I assure you… relax” Archon Yraleath continued, attuned to their discomfort. “As you well know, this is about mutual gain for your Craftworld and my Kabal both. Our ancestors draw from the same source, and that bloodline shares roots long hidden, but now found.”
Yraleath swept his hand to a large drawing easel that floated just above the deck on a grav-suspensor platform, which contained an elaborate set of sketches. Unfurled star charts and a few open tomes were also on the easel. Flecks of paint and ink, and worryingly perhaps other substances given some of the jars that littered what seemed to be the Archon’s study, were everywhere. But the core of the sketch was clear: an elaborate tree housing a gem, beside what were clearly hand-inked battle plans.
“The Peridot of Isamena,” Yraleath said, his hand gingerly patting the canvas painting. That name provoked another glance between the two Craftworld visitors, this time more of surprise. “Ah, yes. You recall Isamena’s name at but a mention. She who wove the stones and the earth, one of the engineers who helped grow your very Craftworld.” The Autarch gave a clear nod of confirmation, and the Archon continued. “Isamena was not only a traveler on your home amidst the stars. Her lover, a Corsair named Ynakara, may be less known to you. Ynakara walked many paths, including the streets of Commorragh. And their children walked with Ynakara, and their descendants number many amidst our Kabal. One of your great architects and engineers, but also our greatest of grand-mothers. After a fashion.”
“When she grew weary after so many years, Isamena left your Craftworld, as you well know. What I have discovered is that Ynakara helped her find a place to settle. And there she worked on growing her most wondrous and massive creation… beyond your lovely Craftworld, of course.” There was only the slightest hint of jeer in the phrase, and both Warlock and Autarch let it wash away. “The Peridot of Isamena, a gem gradually woven up from the earth amidst the cluster of a Juniper tree in the direct center of her garden, a garden woven to cover an entire planet. All those natural lines, all that energy, all converging in a single point. A most auspicious rock.”
“Thru much research and investigatory… hmm… raids, I’ll say, I’ve located the planet where our shared ancestor made her retreat. And as far as I can tell, the world-garden is still very much intact. Her touch is everywhere, in every tree and stone. With all energy centered in the Peridot. And all the more surprising, it yet stands despite the current… occupants.” Yraleath pointed toward the star charts. “What is the phrase that pertinacious Farseer of Ulthwé uses for them? Striplings? Those young striplings of space, the T’au, are the ones who hold the planet now. At least they are not the barbarian Mon-keigh of Terra, who would tear it all down in an instant if they knew one of ours had a hand in it. But the T’au have a muse of beauty at times, so I do believe they would preserve another species’ garden for its own sake. At least not unduly plow her woven creations into the soil out of xenophobic spite.”
“There are reasons you would seek Isamena’s creation, and reasons my Kabal would be interested in mounting a raid there as well,” he continued. At this the Warlock knew there was more unsaid in the Archon’s offer, but chose not to push on it. However, she did resolve to report the suspicion back to the Seer Council upon return. “It will take more than a usual sort of raid, of course, as the stripling T’au have quite a force on this world. The nearest Webway access leaves a system to traverse. The T’au refer to the system as No’ohrm-Ha’an, and the fourth planet, designation “D”, is the one where Isamena’s lost garden lies. We’ll need to arrive in force in the system, and mount a full invasion to root the… bovine in battlesuits… out of the city where our prize lies. That will take your armory of ships and the fabled Wraith Host of your halls. I need your military might for a proper invasion of the beach-side coast if we’re going to be free of the T’au. You need my forces, our speed, and my most brilliant battle plans to make it all a success, not to mention my help in finding the center of the garden when we get there.” Yet another glance was exchanged between the Warlock and Autarch at the strange self-serving confidence of their strange host.
Yraleath rolled up the canvas pages and drawn diagrams and carefully tied them with a length of reddish twine of some sort. He handed them to the Autarch. The Warlock took a look closer, and saw that the twine was likely a length of dried and cured intestines, and knowing the Drukhari, it would be those of a sentient creature surely. She would have to inform her Prince of that fact, but perhaps at a moment when he did not bear it in his hands in front of their host. As surely the reaction would be one of disgust, and care to avoid seeming even slightly rude was needed here.
“Think it over, my kin.” The last words of Yraleath echoed in their minds they exited his study and started to walk the halls of his vessel back to their own craft.
“This would cost so many lives,” the Autarch muttered. “The operation he sketched looked immense at first glance–a full air war, multiple insertions of raiding elements by drop craft the night before, then a mechanized shock assault across water onto a fortified beachhead. Those T’au may be a young race, but their guns are formidable.” Their Craftworld had encountered the T’au on occasion, and even their temporary emplacements and air defenses loomed as deadly both their minds.
“You’ll bring this to the Seer Council,” he continued. “Look to the skeins of fate, as you do. If this is true–and I don’t trust our ‘kin’ entirely on that even–but if true, we must act on it. I can awaken the Wraiths and stoke the forges of Vaul. We can bring such destruction to the skies and shores of the T’au that they will be forced to leave the planet, to withdraw back to their other holdings. At least long enough for us to transplant what we can of the garden of Isamena back to a spot where we can tend it. And see if her soul resides in the Peridot, as having her wisdom and guidance once again would be of great help in these troubled times.”
The Warlock sighed as she took her seat when finally back in their own craft. Isamena had chosen to retreat from the Craftworld when she grew weary. Now they were on the precipice of bringing not only fire and death to the planet of her refuge, but perhaps to bring her dormant spirit into service once more. That alone gave her pause. But to leave such wonders in the hands of the T’au Empire, to not have them within the halls of the Craftworld, that too must be considered. The Warlock mused to herself whether the seer-sight would “steer them right” indeed. No’ohrm-Ha’an D? A vision of darkness and haze over beaches littered with Aeldari bodies crowded her sight as their ship took off and slipped back into the cold stark void of space.