War Host of Lahnn, Farseer of the Alaitoc
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The Ranger War Host of Farseer Lahnn is very much different from your typical puritanical Alaitoc you may find along the web way. The host's Farseer - Alai-elourgefinnailistauLahnn - spent centuries in the Path of the Outcast, eventually leading a band of his own Pathfinders.
It was during these formative years that the future Farseer picked up most of his war doctrines. Fighting many a battle on Exodite worlds alongside Exodites and Saim Hann warbands, the young pathfinder learnt and adopted the loose, seemingly unorganized method of warfare practiced by his cousins. It was during this time that he eschewed traditional battle lines, and appreciated the virtues of rangers and fast attack units, particularly jetbikes and Vypers. The War Host’s regalia reflect this influence – its vehicles sport stripe patterns reminiscent of Saim Hann. It is interesting to note that even today, Farseer Lahnn prefers Rangers and guardian pilots in his war host, and only includes Aspects as a gesture of respect to the warrior shrines - even the war host's Wraithlords are drawn from the soul stones of past Pathfinders.
It was also during this period in which he obtained his Murekhalir sword, a gift from a dying Exodite chief whose village he had saved. This energy blade is brought to battle to this day. Returning to Alaitoc, having pursued the path of the outcast to its most extreme limits, Lahnn started on the most gruelling path, that of the Seer. The rest, is history.
“Take it, o Istaul, take it now!”
The old Exodite chieftain was screaming violently, yet his voice was but a hoarse whisper amid the thunder of battle raging around him. A fiery explosion engulfed the village dwelling behind him, disappearing in the blast of a crude mon-keigh cannon shell.
“Take it …”
I looked at the old chieftain. His was but the most peaceful of paths an Eldar could lead. Farmer. Proud and wise. Noble and elegant.
And now, bloody and dying.
By the hilt, I took the sword from the old wise one’s hands and held it up high, as if willing for its mystical powers to lift me off the ground. The blade, encrusted with gems and runes, and shimmering an inner glow, made no comment, and did no such favor.
“Tis the Murekhalir young Istaul, a psychic blade for which you have yet the power to wield … keep it well … go forth onto the path for which you have been destined … use it then, for it shall be your savior.”
The old one thinks he’s a seer, thought I.
Never mind. Now was not the time to dwell on such petty thoughts. Clipping the sword onto my belt, long rifle slung atop my cloak, my shuriken pistol in one hand and the collar of the old chieftain in the other, I started dragging him out of the village square. Some cover would be good right now.
Around me, the battle was raging towards a climax. This particular village had hardly any warriors. It was bad enough that these rustic Eldar eschew the ancient technology of our forefathers. It had been a thousand years since they last fought anyone. Or anything.
The human warriors were getting closer now. Not 500 yards behind me, they burst from the woods and charged forth across the clearing towards the village, their leaders urging them on with sword and pistol, barking orders in their foul guttural language. Behind them, a clunky and hideously crude tank rattled forward, heavy bolters blazing. And the villagers, my fellow cousins, were being cut down by the sheer brute force of this monstrosity.
I had managed to get into the fringe of the woods. Instinctively, I hid the chieftain’s huge frame amidst the undergrowth, and climbed onto the top branches of the nearest great leafy tree. Now with long rifle in hand, I quickly scanned the situation. The fighting had slackened. The humans were still in the open, 200 yards away and approaching. About 50 strong. One officer, with 4 subalterns. They were now walking towards the village. Not a shot was being fired. The reason was plain: the defenders were either dead or dying. And the mon-keigh tank, for all its rough simplicity, was still there.
Can’t take that out, I thought. Focus. My sights found a human sergeant. Magnify. Focus. I could see the fold of the man’s brow where it meets the human nose, between its eyes. Fire. A spray of blood, and the mon-keigh drops dead. Shock played on the faces of his underlings. They momentarily stared wide-eyed at their dead leader, then dived for the ground themselves, in the vain hope of gaining cover.
They haven’t seen you Istaul.
Agaith! Where in the name of Isha were you? And where’s Pikarid?, I screamed inwardly.
Just then, the human lieutenant crumpled, blood streaming from a hole where once his left eye was.
Nice shot, eh, Istaul? It was Pikarid. Son of one of the most gifted of artisans back home on Alaitoc. Spoiled brat. It’s amazing he got this far.
The mangy humans were really confused now. About 10 men remained standing, while the others were all but cowering, looking around wildly trying to spot their doombringers. I almost pity them. Our cameleoline cloaks betray nothing. The tank commander wisely dropped into his steel turret and buttoned up.
Three more shots, and now the mon-keigh infantry were leaderless, practically hugging the ground, pinned in place like an ugly collection of marsh-flies. I couldn’t help but give in to a toothy smile.
Then, with a clicking whirring noise, the tank’s turret swung. In my direction. They must have picked up my heat readings. Or the reflection from my teeth, for all that mattered. As calmly as I could, I wrapped my cloak tighter around me, willing my body to be one with the tree. The tank’s great cannon roared, and in an instant the wood behind my tree disappeared in a mighty explosion. They had missed me. I smiled again.
Then I remembered where I had hidden the old chieftain. It was the exact same spot that the shell had landed on.
Experience told me that I could never find a weak point in the mon-keigh tank with my long rifle. Yet my eyes probed it. Commander’s periscope. No good. The angles were too irregular for a good ricochet. Driver’s slit. No way. These guys are veterans. He had actually blocked the slit and is driving the tank based on instruments alone. And the tank was moving closer. It would only be a matter of time.
Get out of there Istaul, Agaith urged. Go Istaul! thought Pikarid.
Suddenly the tank seemed to glow as bright shafts of energy hit it repeatedly, squarely on its side. The thick hide of the tank ripped open like so much paper as its innards exploded in a gruesome ball of fire, fuel and flesh.
Then, screaming low amongst the treetops, three Vypers, bright lances swivelling and firing, rocketed over the village. What a sight. They were all in the red and black stripes of the Saim-Hann. The red of Khaine’s blood, I said to myself. They swung around in a tight circle, keeping a dangerously close formation, and zoomed back towards the mon-keigh. This time twin shuricats dealing death to the abysmal alien below. The battle was all but over.
My eyes followed the sleek jetbikes as they made two, three, four more high-speed passes, felling the hapless mon-keigh below like an Exodite would harvest his crop. The humans were screaming, firing wildly, running. I could hear the excited tones of Agaith and Pikarid in my head as they picked off the remaining alien warriors. But my mind was no longer on the battle.
I slid down the charred side of the tree trunk onto the ground below. What was once lush undergrowth was now just a smoldering blackened hole of upturned earth. The old chieftain wasn’t there anymore. I could not believe that his body could just simply vaporize. But it did. For all practical purposes, he was no more.
I unhooked the sword he gave me and laid it on the ground before me. What was it? Death-something? Yes, the Murekhalir. It truly was a magnificent looking sword. A true work of warrior-art. All kinds of ancient runes and gems adorned its hilt and blade. A hint of inner light almost glowed in its center. But why did the chieftain give it to me? He hardly knew me. By Isha, I didn’t even know his name.
“Nice piece of hardware you got there, Istaul, you gonna use it?” piped Agaith. He had come to my side, and I didn’t even realize it. This sword was really absorbing all my attention.
“Yeah Istaul, why don’t you just swing it around like old Eosik? Maybe then you can cut up some mon-keigh tanks,” laughed Pikarid. Eosik was a cranky old seer back home, and our little Pathfinder trio had served with him in many a battle.
I looked at the young sniper and smiled. “No, Pikarid, I don’t think so. Give me a long rifle any day,” I said as I patted the butt of my rifle. I truly meant those words. “Anyway, let’s see to our village kin and be on our way.”
We left the village a few hours later after burying the dead. Incredible as it seemed, none of the Exodite warriors who were defending their village survived the day. The rest of the villagers, safely hidden away, would return in a few days’ time. The least we could do was to help clean up.
As we marched off into the undergrowth, Agaith and Pikarid were reflecting on the greatness of the path we have chosen. Or rather, chosen for us, depending on which perspective one would take. Yes, nothing gives as much liberty and freedom of thought like the Path of the Outcast. It is a good life. One I could live till the end.
Yet, the old chieftain’s words still rang in my mind. I looked at the sword hanging from my belt, and I heard his words again.
“… go forth onto the path for which you have been destined …”
That was well over 700 years past. I have since fulfilled the destiny that old chieftain had portent all those years ago. After years of wandering, I finally came back to Alaitoc. I hung up my Pathfinder cloak and rifle. I pursued the path of the Seer.
And now I, Alai-elourgefinnailistauLahnn, am able to use the old chieftain’s Murekhalir in all its glory. For one needs to become a Farseer to be able to comprehend the sword’s greatness.
And such power indeed. I have cut open mon-keigh armor just as I would cut open a loaf of bread at a child’s meal. Even the mightiest of alien beasts have fallen at the end of this blade. The sword’s faint glow I saw all those years ago now burns bright when I lift it in the heat of battle. It is truly a Farseer’s weapon. As good as any witchblade. Only better. For it is mine to wield.
But I ramble. And I fear I am not being a good host.
I have been asked to talk to you about my war host. And I shall, even though I know not how little your weak human mind would be able to understand. Never mind. I could not tell this story as elegantly as you would expect of the harlequins, for I am no Athistaur. You’d understand. Somewhat.
First off, I must explain to you the basic principles behind this war host of mine. I, Lahnn, Farseer of the Alaitoc, have spent my formative years in the Path of the Outcast. In war, I was first a Ranger, then a Pathfinder. And recently, a Farseer. My years fighting alongside many a brave Exodite and Saim-Hann clansman have influenced my approach to warfare greatly. So my war host is not much like those of other Alaitoc.
I eschew battle lines, and much prefer fluid unpredictable dispositions. I abhor wasting the lives of the innocent and those unsuitable for war. I believe that our noble devotees of the Aspect shrines should stay as close to home as possible. And my watchwords are surprise, swiftness and superior firepower.
It is for these principles that although the great Alaitoc council had bequeathed me with a fine complement of Guardians and their heavy weapons, as well as a healthy supporting arm of Warlocks, Warp Spiders and Fire Dragons, I hardly ever field them when my war host is on campaign. These fine troops are my strategic reserve. For if ever fair Alaitoc should be directly threatened, these troops are immediately available in her defence.
Now let us talk about my campaign war host. And listen carefully, mon-keigh. You may be our honored guest, but I will say this only once.
The backbone of my war host are my Rangers and my Pathfinders. I believe you have never seen one alive, have you? Well, if you did, I’m quite sure they were not from my war host. These warriors are the finest that grand Alaitoc can boast of. I’d introduce you to one of them, but they are not here right now, of course. I suppose you would just have to make do with my company, for I was once a Pathfinder myself.
If you think I’m being repetitive about my being a Pathfinder in the past, it is because I am truly proud of my heritage. You could not find a warrior more steadfast, more resourceful and more humble than the Pathfinder. Where even the most revered Exarch would waver under the sheer weight of enemy fire, a Pathfinder would not even flinch, even if he were facing a battery of D-cannon! Instead, he would remain calm, assess the battle and act accordingly, in the coldest efficiency possible of any living warrior.
Everything about the Pathfinder is subtle, and belies his true capability. The humble long rifle looks like such an unwieldy and inefficient weapon, yet entire squads of the enemy – from dark kin to terminators - cower from just a single shot. Tell me if that is not understated efficiency at its finest.
My Pathfinders are led by Seachmall. He would have been my second-in-command but for the reason that as a Pathfinder, he would never be able to undertake the more administrative, civil duties of such an officer. I only wish there were more Pathfinders around. By their very nature, they are uncommon warriors. Even my old squad was only three-strong.
Never mind. My Ranger squads more than make up for this shortcoming. And I feel blessed to lead them into battle.
From our Saim-Hann kin, I learnt the power of swiftness. There is nothing like the sight of jetbikes or Vypers cutting through the air, hugging the ground at breakneck speed, delivering death to the enemy. The Eldar in these machines are the finest of Guardians.
However, I am loath to have so many artisans and weekend warriors in my war host. I have seen too many teachers, architects and other good Eldar mercilessly cut down in battle. Entire squads of Defenders – blown away. Entire flights of jetbikes – gunned down. Most times, it is even difficult to recover their spirit stones. How is Alaitoc to grow if too many of our good people die horrible deaths?
No, I keep Guardian crews to the minimum. The only exception being my Storm Squad, who were all once aspect warriors anyway. Typically, four Vypers would accompany my war host. All armed with starcannon. These are amongst my most favored weapon platforms.
You may have noticed these Vypers on your way here. You can always tell a vehicle belonging to my war host. They are all decorated in the runes and the blue of Alaitoc. But they lack the traditional Alaitoc vehicle camouflage pattern. I cannot allow camouflage befitting a Pathfinder to adorn a Guardian’s vehicle. There’s just no justice in that. Instead, my vehicles are decorated in a simple blue with lighter blue stripes. Just as the Saim-Hann decorate their vehicles in black stripes.
After all, is there any better inspiration for swiftness of attack than the Saim-Hann?
The only Guardian squad that I am willing to bring with me on my Ranger War Host campaigns are the Storm Guardians. These warriors were all once members of the Striking Scorpion Aspect shrine, and are well capable of keeping their own in the heat of war. Their years of training in the art of close combat have done them good.
Make no mistake, there is hardly any fraternizing between my Rangers and the Guardians. It is not intentional, nor is it particularly healthy. But I do know for a fact that most of the Storm Guardians just cannot get along or even understand the ways of the Ranger.
It is a good thing that this lack of fraternity does not translate onto the battlefield as a weakness. Rather, it manifests itself as a strength, as the Storm Guardians and Rangers perform amazing martial feats just to one-up each other.
My small band of Storm Guardians are led by my second-in-command, the good Esdainn Kiram. Calm and unassuming he may seem to you. In battle, he leads his squad from the front, urging them on for the greater glory of Alaitoc with witchblade and pistol.
I demand from my army maximum mobility. By Isha, my Pathfinders can go where no other living soul could even reach. And the Storm Guardians are expected to do the same. Yes, I have assigned to them a Wave Serpent.
What’s that you say? What about myself? What about me? I’m just an old Farseer, former Pathfinder, with an amazing sword that I love so dearly. What else do you want to know about me? Alright, alright, I’ll talk a bit about my personal war ensemble.
Well, you know about my Murekhalir. I think I beat that one to death, if you’d excuse the pun. I also have the standard Farseer’s rune armor. Psychic powers? Hah, you don’t want to get me started on that, mon-keigh. I am a Farseer of the Alaitoc. I have studied and practiced knowledge that you have no hope to ever comprehend. And, by the way, my favorite battle power is Mind War, to which many a human brain have succumbed.
And to keep up with the swiftness of my war host, I have procured a jetbike. Yes, this too is a result of all those years of fighting alongside the Saim-Hann. I am not ashamed that my war doctrines are very much influenced by them. It is just a standard jetbike, much like the ones the Guardians use. In Pathfinder colors, of course. I’ve also added some particularly useful runes on its carapace. After all, I am a seer.
Out of sincere respect to the noble Aspect shrines, I regularly bring a squad of Aspect warriors with me. I must admit, their fighting prowess in their particular field of warrior specialty is unrivaled. And their role in battle is invaluable as a solid support for my snipers and Vypers.
The only Aspect shrine that are regular guests of my war host are those fine daughters of Jain Zar. Tell me, mon-keigh, have you ever seen a Howling Banshee up close without her helmet on? Such beauty. Ah well, you wouldn’t understand now, would you?
But do not let the beauty of these she-warriors fool you. In battle, they are among the deadliest duelists you could ever find. Their agility, cunning and skill with the sword is second to none. Many a time, they would cut up a squad many times their strength even before the enemy knew they were being attacked. Of course, they have the right equipment to help them, but gear is nothing without the skill and discipline of the followers of this Aspect shrine. Cherakan the Exarch leads my Banshees. Don’t even think of touching her executioner.
And yes, they too go to war in a Wave Serpent. Who am I to deny Alaitoc’s finest ladies the luxury of flying into battle?
We come now to the stolid pair, as I call them. These are the war host’s Wraithlords. These two are truly close to my heart. I’m sure you’ve heard of these war machines before, haven’t you? Hah, even your ‘finest’ marines rightfully fear the wrath of the Wraithlord.
And can you blame them for having so much burning anger? How would you like to be awakened from your eternal sleep time and again, just to fight in battle?
The great frame of the Wraithlord is normally reserved for the greatest of Aspect warriors and Exarchs. But I have successfully petitioned an exception to the rule. Just for this war host.
Have you noticed how my Wraithlords are adorned in the exact same colors, patterns and runes as those gracing my Pathfinders and my jetbike? Why, you may ask. Why the Pathfinder garb?
Know this, o mon-keigh, it is only during battle that we remove the spirit stones from the eternity matrix, and place them inside these war machines. Disturbing their eternal rest, the poor souls.
Yet, at every battle, with those two Wraithlords backing me up, I can always hear them again. The voices of my two closest kin. And for that time, it is as if they had never died. Yes, Agaith and Pikarid. Soon, war shall be calling again. And once more, we shall march together into battle for the glory of Alaitoc. Albeit with some changes. You, in those machines. Me, on my jetbike.
It’ll be just like old times. Almost.