A Legacy of Darkness
Duc d'Nile Zarath Icarus
Current Captain of Beautiful Starlight
A man who brings a commanding presence wherever he goes. Dressed in only the finest regalia he proudly wears the iconography of his most perfect master, the great Prince of Pleasure himself. When not found giving exception oratory pieces or commanding his vessel and troops he is quite different.
Within his ship is an art studio that few dare enter or disturb. Within can be heard screams of pain and excitement as the Prince works on his latest masterpiece. Dressed in only his trousers he embraces the pain caused by his rather strange paints that seem to change colour and viscosity at his will. His men know a rule when guarding that room. Only enter when commanded or there is silence, because the noble prince has fallen victim to his own obsession once more.
Years ago on the little world of DeNile a boy was born, destined for greatness, or so he thought at any rate. Without privilege or wealth he found that his only hope of getting off planet was to either join the Imperial Guard or Navy. Now the prospect of dying on some Emperor-Forsaken Fringe World in some vainglorious idiot’s last stand did not sit well with him so he worked his magic and found a Navy Officer the he… got along with.
He came with this Officer as an aide but that was not enough he wanted to be his own man and create this great destiny of his dreams. He had his “friend” make him an officer in his own right. He was to serve ably but discovered that there was a very hard glass ceiling that no noble could ascend beyond.
Hopes dashed he became reclusive and did not have the same shine in his eyes. Something was missing. Then his hopes were rekindled but the pure and innocent golden flames were not to be found. They were now an alluring amethyst. He had been granted a dream, a vision of the beautiful future he had. But more importantly whispers of how to achieve them.
Initially this dream scared him half to death, such was his shock he took ill. But his manservant the dutiful man that he was took care of his master. Bringing him food, drink and something to read to keep his mind from the dark visions. Unbeknownst to Zarath he was not the only to have visions and this servant was to make sure his master started down this perfect path.
The books told tales of the savages the Imperium met. Some worshipping strange Gods that granted boons to their followers. A God of rage and war but also of honour and truth. One of tricks and sorcery but also of change and progress. Another of both death and life, but finally they told of a God of perfection. Beauty. Pleasure and Pain. One that made their followers charismatic masters of men, their whims and desires were made manifest.
The Imperium set these shrines and worshippers ablaze for their heresy, but why? These Gods while twisted and mocking at least granted boons to their loyal. Unlike the Emperor who merely demanded your life in his service. Why serve when you could lead? Why go without when you can take? Why be loyal when you could take what was yours?!
His health quickly returned and he began spreading the seeds of sedition. He found like minded officers or those whom he could promise advancement. He found they were more willing to listen to this commoner than before. He was more persuasive, his presence commanded their attention despite his lackluster rank.
The orders came down that they were to be sent on a protracted scouting mission. Alone. This was their time to strike. No outside influence, just his supporters against the foolish loyalists, following their corpse-worshipping captain.
The mutiny was a success but it was a costly victory. The ship was in disarray and his leadership only had so much influence. The mutants from the underbelly of the ship and taken to the fray and had suffered heavily losses. There was simply not enough crew.
While the crew was in tatters and there was a severe lack of able officers, but things were looking up for Zarath Icarus. During the night a presence made itself known to him. It’s voice as smooth as silk and with a warmth he had never felt before. It applauded his revolt against the corpse emperors blind faithful, but warned of the coming hardships. Hardships he would not have to face alone if he would accept the gift of the Dark Prince.
Zarath jumped at the offer and in that moment damned his soul for eternity, but he knew it was worth it. When he awoke he found a cutlass on his desk. It emanated with a sickening power. He drew it and found it secreted a strange liquid. He called for a slave to be brought in.
He placed the sword on the slaves exposed shoulder and watched as it burned through the mans flesh. Merely one night earlier his curiosity would have been sated and the man would sent on his way. But Zarath was a changed man. He watched in fascination how the man contorted in pain to get away from the ichor pouring from his blade. He committed the mans image to memory, after all this slave would never forget his image.
After listening to this mans tormented screams for what must have been hours Zarath finally took control of the proud vessel. The MK.II Dauntless the Serene Starlight… but that wouldn’t do… it needed a new name. He took to his room for another day. The officers having already ousted one captain began to discuss amongst themselves whether they had made the right choice in replacement? Afterall this commoner had never commanded a vessel and was least experienced amongst them.
Unaware and uncaring Zarath in his chambers began to think of what his ship was to be. The vessel had known peaceful voyages and seen the light of many a star hence the name serene starlight, but that was not his ship. He sat and puzzled waiting for inspiration. He heard an exasperated sigh from… somewhere and before he could find the source there was a crash in a corner of the room. Approaching the heap he found a canvas, paints and all he needed to paint something. He’d got it, he’d paint the ship he desired and name the painting and thus the ship. What a logical response!
Well it turns out great art does not appear overnight. It was weeks before he had finished and quite the painting it was too. It was the dreary dauntless transformed into a mini ambition class. The greatest and most proud ship in the Imperium. The stately home of Rogue Traders and the envy of any voidsman. This was to be this ships beautiful future. So he decided that the serenity this ship had known was over, it was the ships past. Perfection and beauty her future. So the Beautiful Starlight was born.
When he finally emerged to give the news his supporters looked on, firstly enraptured and then horrified. While his opponents had been calling an incompetent eccentric, his supporters claimed he was just making plans of action, not naming the damn ship! Within hours a counter mutiny had ignited and Zarath was to show the new powers at his disposal. Folsh’t tore through his opponents and their screams of torment and the swords screeches of horrific delight taught the use of resistance. The leaders of the mutiny were rounded up and subjected to… a drink. In the weeks that took to get the ship under control Zarath had made a great discovery, his scabbard would collect the poison.
He had an idea, they could choose their death. Either they would be exposed to the void of space piece by piece, one by one. They could have the swords venom poured on them as was the fate of the slave. Or they could drink it. After the first few took the option for the void the next begged to be killed by the poison but didn’t have the nerve to drink it. The final man, who was to be made his replacement was the only one with the nerve to drink it. Such was his courage he asked for two vials rather than one. Confused Zarath granted his request.
Their eyes met and the man drank, his eyes screamed in pain but beneath it was determination. Determination Zarath did not understand. In an instant the man stat it out directly at Zarath. Thankfully his servant from all that time ago jumped in the way and screamed in pain before perishing, writhing in agony but with an ecstatic smile. Zarath took the pretender by the throat and forced the other vial down his throat whispering, “I will paint this to remember your failure and the failure of all who would see me fall.”
And that was the last of mutiny’s, the crew knew that whatever his eccentricity’s Zarath would not be opposed on this ship and many were pleased. His leadership was granted by the gods not birth and it was through his action rather than nepotism. The officers became his fanatical followers. Storming ship after ship at his back in the search for treasure and glory. While this was the end they served Zarath had found a greater purpose.
In his art studio he happened upon a book the heretical tome The Confessions of Cardinal Wogalta. Inside it described the palace of the great Prince of Pleasure himself. While the author died traversing the palace, the Dark Prince found it suiting to send back such a book to spread heresy. And for Zarath this book was to reveal his calling. He did not want the Excess of Riches found in the First Garden or the Excess of Bodily Delights in the Third. He wanted to get past the Six Gardens for his desire could not be sated by such mundane trinkets. His purpose was far greater. He would knock on the great doors of the Palace of Pleasure itself and make a simple request of Slaanesh, “Can I paint your perfection?”