The last of the celestial warriors fell, his empty armour collapsing to the mud-churned ground. Garillien watched as the warrior’s body and spirit returned to the Heavens in a bolt of blinding light, its afterimage lingering behind his eyelids as he slumped against his talúnhook. He wouldn’t be able to rest long. With the battle over, his work was only just beginning.
Sebell brushed against his leg, swimming around his knees, her serrated bill still bloody. Garillien absently stroked the rakerdart’s abrasive scales while he focused on the pulsing currents of the aethersea around him. The tides were calming after their earlier tempest, and with their foes gone he could now sense the subtle drift of souls trickling from the fallen. With a gesture, Garillien intensified the glow of the lantern hanging from his helmet, drawing the lost souls to the lurelight.
Manipulation of the soul was a technique his people had perfected out of necessity rather than desire. A technique he had a certain talent with.
Straightening up, he strode to the surviving Namarti caste warriors, Sebell flitting away to explore some foliage. The pale, eyeless elves bowed their heads in acknowledgement as they collected the bodies of their comrades and separated the wounded from the dead. Garillien forced himself not to look at the faces of the slain and dying Namarti. It would only make his task harder.
Instead, he calculated, weighing the six grievously-wounded Namarti against the souls stored in his lurelight. He bowed his head. It wouldn’t be enough.
Frowning, he shot a glance across the battlefield to Persenoth. The leader of the raiding party was speaking with her Akhelian caste guards, their vicious eel steeds snapping and circling restlessly nearby. Based on her easy smile she was probably congratulating them on a resounding success.
Garillien turned away. He couldn’t argue with her reasoning, not logically. The souls they would gather now that they could freely raid the fishing hamlet would recompense their losses, and then some. And those Namarti who had already passed beyond the veil could grant some of their brethren one final service, at least.
But… It shouldn’t have been this way. Persenoth hadn’t anticipated the presence of the celestials, beings who could be defeated but never truly killed. Their souls were sacrosanct, impossible for the likes of Garillien to tear from their bodies. Even in defeat, the divine warriors could claim that victory.
He knelt beside the first of the wounded Namarti, laying down his talúnhook and placing a hand upon the eyeless elf’s rune-marked forehead. Focusing his mind, he channelled the soul-essence from his lurelight into the shuddering Namarti. He let it flow through him, suffusing the pale elf’s body, reknitting wounds and rejuvenating spirit alike. When the heavy iron collar around the Namarti’s neck hummed with power, Garillien cut the link.
The Namarti sat up. Turning his eyeless face to Garillien, he nodded his thanks. Garillien took him by the shoulder and helped him to his feet, before moving to the next of the injured.
Their people were cursed, nearly all of their children born with shrivelled souls. Only through bolstering them with the souls of other sapient creatures could they hope to survive beyond infancy. These were the Namarti. Those few lucky enough to be born with healthy souls became leaders, wizards, or priests. Garillien and Persenoth were both of this Isharann caste, tasked with securing the future of their people by any means.
Garillien stood, his lurelight dim and empty. Three wounded Namarti still lay before him, but he could not save them. By the time they had harvested enough souls from the inhabitants of the hamlet, it would be too late.
He cast a hand across them. A simple enchantment to lull them into a peaceful sleep. It was all he could do.
The other Namarti huddled together as Garillien retrieved his talúnhook and Sebell returned to his side. Some of them whispered thanks to him, while others stood in silence or embraced each other. There were no tears, for their lack of eyes made weeping impossible, but Garillien could feel the sorrow in their withered souls.
As he walked away, he wept for them.
I have always loved real-world sea creatures, as well as the tragic tales of elves in many fantasy settings. So when Games Workshop revealed their range of Idoneth Deepkin, elves coexisting in the ocean with fantastical fish and sea monsters, I had to pick up some of their models. The Isharann Soulrender particularly stood out to me due to his unique suit of armour, reminiscent of angler fish and sea urchins, and his pet fish who can assist him in battle! I used a variety of shades, washes, and metallic paints to give the armour an almost iridescent effect, and the tassels were given their vibrant coral colour with a red wash over a white basecoat.