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Candlemas With Cherubael

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The first Candlemas Eisenhorn spent with Cherubael was utterly unmemorable. In fact, Eisenhorn was not even aware of the day, as he was fast asleep. The age when he could enjoy the recuperative powers of youth had passed more than a century ago, and so he was still healing from the savage injuries he’d suffered recently. Without access to the advanced treatment an Inquisitorial medicae could offer, trudging across the galaxy in crude augmetics took its toll. He’d sent Cherubael far away into the atmosphere before passing out on a dirty mattress in an abandoned tenement. If he had been awake to look up at the night sky, he would’ve seen a new, cold white star hanging there, watching over him.

Their third Candlemas, Eisenhorn and Cherubael spent killing heretics. They mowed down the wailing choir that screeched the Harmonics of Ruin in their temple to the dark gods. Eisenhorn’s ears bled as he sliced and shot through bodies twisted by unholy powers, until Cherubael tutted at him and stuffed them silent with severed fingers. Eisenhorn frowned, later, when he pulled them out and realized what they were. He looked suspiciously at the daemonhost, who was pouring promethium over the piled bodies as ordered, then shrugged and tossed the fingers onto the pile. Once the pyre was ready, he recited a brief litany and lit the fuse. He stood watching the flames roar as another year came to a close, the ache in his bones soothed by the warm heat of righteousness and faith.

On their seventh Candlemas, after a harrowing episode involving daemonic reindeer herd possession, an insane follower of Khorne dressed in the blood-red flayed skins of his child victims, and a screaming sled made of the bones of corrupted Guardsmen, Eisenhorn got very, very drunk. It was Cherubael who carried him from the seedy bar back to the habs where he was renting a room, though he never knew this, and it never told him.

On the thirteenth Candlemas of their, for lack of a better word, partnership, Cherubael presented Gregor with a pair of beheaded dark eldar wyches, like a cat proudly presenting mice to its human. Cherubael either didn’t know the true meaning of Candlemas, or had deliberately chosen to confuse it with the local variation found in some cultures. The dead xenos were tied together with a jaunty bow made of their own entrails, and each had one of their own deadly star-shaped missiles stuck on the top of their heads.

Gregor was rather put out by the stains the corpses made in the new carpet, but he appreciated the sentiment nonetheless. It was a small shame he could give nothing to Cherubael in return.

In fact, he hoped he never found reason to give Cherubael what it wanted.

He celebrated Candlemas when he could, at chapels and churches and even crude shrines to the God-Emperor, if nothing else could be found. He lit candles for what was lost, and candles for what was to come. He prayed alone, and he prayed he would be strong enough.