Epilogue: Kalyustar's Trial"This vile conjurer has been using forbidden magic, we all have seen him! Summoning skeletal hands from the ground, spreading unnatural fear all around himself, leeching the life essence of the basest creatures!"
A murmur run through the mercenaries of the Gilded Hand Free Companies. Van Toorn's accusations were undeniable.
"Under the benevolent rule of our great God-king, there is only one punishement for such crimes" the Witch Hunter paused savouring his final triumph "Death at the stake!"
Van Toorn stood in the centre of the Broken Circle, Kalyustar in front of him, head bowed, the Skull cupped in his hands.
"That's enough, Witch Hunter" the Aurpards' pikes wavered, as the men parted to let Lord Captain Rodrik step into the Circle. The seasoned veteran took three measured steps, putting himself between the Witch Hunter and the wizard.
"Should I remember you that your Order has lost its powers over Venithya and its people the day your God-king reneged his oaths to protect the Realms and withdrew behind Azyr's Gates, now so long ago?"
Pieter van Toorn hissed in frustration. No matter how many efforts the Order of Azyr and the rest of the Devoted of Sigmar had spent, the Elders of the Gilded Hand and their generals remained reluctant allies to Sigmar's cause. And their grudge towards Sigmar was not entirely unjustified. He knew too well not to jeopardise such a fragile alliance.
"I beg your pardon, Lord Captain. Mine was just a reminder. But if you won't consider it, perhaps you should ponder what has the Gilded Hand gained by the actions of Kalyustar here in the Harrowmark".
"This, I will do" Rodrik turned his one good eye onto the wizard "Kalyustar of the Gilded Hand, by the authority bestowed onto me by the Elders' Council I demand you account for the reward due to the Free Companies gathered here and for your dues to the Gilded Hand's Vault."
Kalyustar remained silent. And so did the Skull.
"You took three Companies, claiming these woods will hold valuable alchemicals and artefacts. I was called here, bringing another Company with me, as this Azyrite accuses you of witchcraft. Respond. Now."
"Was not the Kharadron that the Witch Hunter wanted for their betrayal? Have I not delivered them?"
"This you did. Yet, the men are still awaiting for their pay. You have nothing in your hand to offer to the Elders. And with the orruks holding the Skydock, we are faced with a perilious Realmgate travel to return to Venithya. You have put valuable resources at risk for no apparent gain. Or there is one?"
Give him what he wants, Soulchemist. My Master appreciated your gift. He will reward you richly
"These men, and you too Lord Captain, are still alive because of me. If not a reward, doesn't that deserve mercy?"
"How so? We fought as you hid behind the walls of the Rose & Schyte. You own your life to us."
Kalyustar paused for a moment, pondering the Skulls's latest words.
Yes, Soulchemist. Power and knowledge like you have never experienced, rather than the scorn of these miserables
"You are so limited in your understanding, Lord Captain. Force of arm is the only thing you understand. But it is souls that will win the coming wars. And I took that of the Kharadron leader, bartering it so that An'sec would spare all yours".
Silence fell over the Broken Circle. Even van Toorn was left speechless.
"It is gold you all want? Well, have it!" Kalyustar tossed a gleaming key at the Lord Captain feet "I hereby forfeit my position within the Gilded Hand and with it any claim on the contents of my laboratories. They are yours for you to do as you please and share with these men."
"So be it" the Lord Captain raised his hammer "Henceforth you, Kalyustar of Venithya, are no longer counted among the Gilded Hand. I accept your payment on behalf of these men which shall receive according to their efforts in your expedition. But for your dabbling with the vile An'sec, I exile you. By the authority of the Elders, you are never to set foot inside Venithya, under penalty of death!" the hammer fell, ringing loudly on the stones of the Broken Circle.
"He must die now!" shouted van Toorn "He's a traitor, a vile heretic!"
"Men, remove this fanatic from my presence" at once van Toorn was surrounded by levelled blades.
"You have no authority here! Nor any claim on Kalyustar's soul . That, is for him to keep."
You were right, Soulchemist. His understanding is so limited. We both know to whom every soul belongs