- "Our dream is of the best of all possible worlds. There is no room for any of us in it."
Ashur-El Artashumara known to his adoring slaves by many titles, primarily the Glorious Martyred Prince of the Stillborn Soul and the High Architect of Sadofuturism; is the enemy of all who feel.
- "We allow them to baste in their own hatred and fear and this is how they repay us? Let us see how they like it when their passions become the grayest doldrums!"
- —Sorcerer-King Ignatius Dagon, The Depths Favorite Son
Ashur-El Artashumara was once Ash, an orphan slave on the bleak world of Vul-Bel-Ukin; a world ruled by Sorcerer-Kings (lords of magic), Gesigners (scientists and masters of haute couture genetics), Imagineers (dream fabricators and engineers of the impossible). Their world was plagued by Chaos cults and isolated from the rest of the galaxy by fierce Warp Storms for the duration of the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy. The ruling cabal recognized that the leaders of the cults and by extension, the Chaos Gods themselves benefited greatly from their own unabashed tyranny; which provided ample fuel to the citizenry's baser emotions. As the tyrannical castes sorcerers and scientists counted themselves among the enemies of Chaos, this did not sit well with them at all. The rulers concluded that if their subjects capacity to feel was the source of their troubles, then the little people could no longer be trusted with the freedom to emote.
They opted to pursue a slew of projects such as using psykers and drugging the drinking water. In the meantime, they competed to create a more comprehensive solution. The Sorcerer-Kings attempted to fabricate various rituals that would render the populace unfeeling but still pliable, the Gesingers grew evermore exotic designer clones with special traits that would breed emotions out of gene pool, and the Imagineers...imagined. Unlike their peers, they believed that the crushing despair and impotent wrath their subjects had for them was not only desirable, but one of the rewards of rule. A planet full of mindless slaves had no appeal to them, regardless of whatever other luxuries they could eke from life. So they imagined a human who could act as a decoy, a psychic mirror that could reflect the emotional energy away from the Warp: the people would still feel, but their feelings would be just as powerless as they were, and provide nothing to the Dark Powers.
After many months of meditation and dreaming, assisted by the most potent hallucinogens and cleansing self-flagellation; the Imagineers gathered and revealed their shining idea to their fellows, who were enthralled by the possibilities. The cabal plucked Ash, a vat-grown human designed for genius from the Tabernacle of Wan Light; a place where the Imagineers used human beings as bottles to hold their favorite nightmares. Ash was part of a series grown to readily accept further alteration for experimental purposes, and had spent his life connected to machinery that manipulated his brain chemistry and nervous system; making his brain a perfect vessel for nightmares. New to conventional reality, he found the brutal surgeries, drug regimens, and applied sorcery to be a respite compared to the veritable lifetimes of hardship he had endured before.
The procedures were such a radical departure from all the rulers of Vul-Bel-Ukin had done before and even as they worked their armies of vat-grown men were battling the ever larger Chaos Cults; so they failed to realize just how their seemingly pliant slave was rapidly adjusting to reality. His torturous conversion gave even the tyrants who were building him pause, such was their terrible scope; but to Ash they barely registered. It was a testament to the depraved creativity of the Imagineers who had bottled their visions within him that all they could do to him for real was a shade in comparison. Ash was able to meditate upon the adapting architecture of his mind and body and found that he was able to treat life like a lucid dream: things just started happening the way he wanted them to happen. The only problem was, for all his genius he was still possessed of an undeveloped, infantile intellect: he barely had any idea of what he wanted.
The cabal finished their work on Ash just as their grand palace, Shemal-Lilitu, came under attack by the Cults who now had actual demons and mutants in their ranks. Ash was given a new name; then dosed with intense psychoactive drugs that activated his newly implanted glands and cybernetics, fusing them completely with his being and activating his powers. The results were immediate and dramatic: the cultists were cut off from the warp-spawned power of their dark masters. Mutants collapsed under the weight of their own deformed bodies, rebel sorcerers who had been disintegrating clone-warriors couldn't as much as charge a battery, and the demons were forcibly shunted back to the Warp.
In their celebratory mood, the cabal failed to realize they had sown the seeds of their own destruction once again; and this time even put their own signatures on it. Ash was used to the burden of the worst excesses of the subconscious minds of a small group of vast intellects. Compared to that, the ambient emotional energy of a world of downtrodden slaves was nothing. With his enhanced biology and cybernetics he found himself to be possessing of powers and abilities in excess of any of the people involved with his creation. He kept his abilities and developing personality hidden as he observed his creators took in the accumulated knowledge they had used to terrorize and create.
- "Oh how delicious, to create one's own god and to murder His soul! We must do this again!"
- —Gesigner Jezebel
Oddly, despite the horror that was intrinsic to every moment of his existence from the moment of his nativity; in the end Ash did not betray his creators out of any need for revenge for what had been done to him. Ash's life had been fairly consistent, but now that he was catching the emotional energy of the masses, he felt the flicker of their hope in his heart like the fluttering of a candle's flame in the breeze. It burned, slow and small in his breast for years and it became distinct from everything else he felt. When at last he had a working understanding of reality and compared hope to everything else that he felt and knew, he was revolted by his masters and in turn revolted against them.
Ash's one-man revolution was like a clash of titans. The Cabal had dominated Vul-Bel-Ukin for the better part thirteen thousand years and had seemingly spent every moment of that time creating not just weapons, but entirely new varieties of warfare: they employed every bit of this in their own defense. The Sorcerer-Kings called down the storm; lightning and winds that could strip flesh from bone. Their pyrotechnics could have boiled tanks and blind men leagues away. They cast Ash into darkness and plunged him beneath the earth, and lit his every nerve with descriptions of pain for which neither men or Eldar yet devised words for. The Gesigners emptied their harems, full of men and women custom built cell-by-cell to be able to seduce any human being and leave them giddy and bewildered, they hurled at him every plague in human history and many that had never lived outside the laboratory, chimera of every description. They threw open their kennels and sicced the terrible Warforms upon Ash: monsters with scales of tungsten, bristling with horns and spikes, that wept tears of triflic acid, exhaled super heated plasma, whose very gaze could emit beams of deuterium-fluoride gas derived lasers.
The Imagineers attempted to trap Ash in a devious mental loop: weaving webs of recursive dreams full of sadistic choices and false victories. They riddled and cajoled, misdirected and dissembled. Against all of this relentless abuse, Ash failed. His mind and soul were snatched from his body, which was reduced to component parts. Despite the damage he caused them, the Cabal were positively giddy over the effectiveness of their rebellious pawn, and his atoms were considered collectors items among them, swapped for vast sums in smoke filled parlors and the gilded salons of the twisted overlords. They poked and prodded to find out where they had erred and tortured so thoroughly that the Dark Eldar might have collectively slow clapped if they had known what was going on. It was about the time that Imagineer Gibborim and Gesigner Montauk collaborated to conduct a performance wherein Ash's stomach bacteria was endowed with sentience so they could appreciate being tortured with micro-surgery tools when the Cabal's lust for revenge and debauchery was forcibly reeled in by the Sorcerer-Kings. The relatively sober Sorcerers reminded them of the original purpose for Ash's alteration: without him, or a quick replacement, Chaos would gain a foothold on their world once more.
Ash was reassembled, healed, and outfitted with numerous blocks and restraints of mechanical and psychic origin to scale down his power. Then, as a deterrent to future action on his part and as a slap in the face to their slaves; was encased in stone and put on display in the capital. That seemed to be the end of it at first, but soon things took a turn for the odd among the Cabal. Gibborim and Montauk recalled how their art had been interrupted and upon reflection, took the Sorcerers' mild rebuke as a dire insult. Despite the Cabal's thousands of years of existence and endurance in the face of all opposition, the insulted pair's petulance spread like a virus throughout the Cabal. Perfect cohesion turned into petty bickering, gossip, and character assassination. The free flow of ideas ceased and the members of the cabal became withdrawn and secretive.
- "These are days of legend! The sun gilds a new king, a new god; he hath liberated us from 'neath the heel of those who worshiped at the altar of of Inhumanity and from our own destructive impulse. All praise Ashur-El!"
- —A jubilant former slave of the Cabal
Because they were no longer of one accord, the cabal began slipping up. They believed their slaves properly chastened, and did not notice the cult growing around Ash and the legend of his one-man rebellion. Without unity, the constant vigil that kept Vul-Bel-Ukin hidden from alien eyes failed; and the Cabal was soon pressed dealing with incursions of Eldar and Necrons who seemed to be drawn to ancient Shemal-Lilitu. Between the constant breeches of security and the public discord within the ranks of the fraternity, the peoples' hero-worship of Ash soon outweighed their terror of the cabal.
What the people didn't realize was that in giving Ash their spiritual allegiance, they had actually ceded their wills to him and gave him the power he needed to escape his confinement. Ash transmitted his agonies to a follower for the first time, shattering his statue prison (though his bizarre confinement had given him the stone-like complexion that he would be associated with from then on). Having literally withstood everything the cabal could possibly throw at him and powered by the fanatic worship of hundreds of thousands of slaves, he had little trouble renewing his fight with the fractured cabal. He was able to pick them off individually or in small cliques until at last only a small group remained; rallying around Gibborim and Montauk.
Ash cornered them, but rather than finishing them he revealed that when it became apparent that his first attempt to destroy the cabal was going to fail, he set a trap within the Imagineer's own trap. His prior existence had been spent in Imagineer thought-prisons, having such incredible power it was easy to use his ample experience in such environs to plant a memetic virus in the collective imaginations of the Imagineers; leading to the paranoia that eroded the cabal. After explaining his gambit, Ash offered to spare them in exchange for their vows of obedience and worship.
God-King of Vul-Bel-Ukin
Ashur-El emerged before the battered masses of slaves triumphant, basking in their adulation. Some of them began literally worshiping him on the spot and he could immediately feel it, and came to understand all too quickly the power it gave him. It took little exhortation to whip the mob into an ecstatic frenzy. Having endured generations under the heel of the Cabal and their exotic torments, the people viewed Ashur-El as a messianic figure and a hero; getting them all to actually worship him was a short step.
As the conversion rippled throughout the crowds, Ashur-El felt mighty; but his connection to the people also sharpened to crystal clarity. Whereas before he felt their emotions as a sort of massive weight, now he was picking up each individual's specific nuance of emotion. The combination of a world's baser emotions was as great a torment as anything the Cabal had inflicted upon him, but at the same time the power he enjoyed was too intoxicating. Ashur-El did not want to surrender this new found strength for he feared being at someone else's mercy once again, and yet the agony was constant and incredible. He concluded that as long as there were creatures not under his control who could feel as humans felt, which is to say; whose feelings produced psychic energy, he was in danger. Ashur-El realized that subsuming more beings to his will meant greater pain. The solution he arrived at was to kill everyone: no people meant no threats, nobody to resurrect him (as the Cabal had once before), and finally: no more pain.
His own people bound to him, Ashur-El turned his attention to the opportunistic aliens that had been plumbing the secrets of Shemal-Lilitu. With the aid of his former Cabal minions he captured a few Dark Eldar and Harlequins. Some were tortured until they broke and submitted to Ashur-El, others were fooled into offering allegiance: those Eldar thought their vows had no meaning, making them in furtherance of an escape plot, not realizing the Imagineer's careful memetic engineering of Ashur-El's powers allowed their feigned vows to act as a hook for Ashur-El to insinuate himself within their psyches.
Ashur-El violated the minds of his alien captives, ripping secrets of Shemal-Lilitu from them that even the Cabal had not learned during their thirteen millennium reign. Armed with this terrible knowledge, he ordered all his slaves to enter the towering edifice, filling most of its gloomy chambers and corridors. Then, in an act of sublime callousness and spite: he used the hitherto unknown properties of Shemal-Lilitu to wreck untold havoc upon Vul-Bel-Ukin, shifting tectonic plates and atmospheric conditions. This caused massive ecologic harm, not to mention the complete destruction of every city barring the twisted palace itself.
He spent the next several decades reshaping his world and the lifeforms upon it. During this time he gave no orders to his followers, allowing them to act on their own initiative. For years, nobody left Shemal-Lilitu; terrified of the changes being wrought on their world and of the possibility of somehow offending Ashur-El with any significant activity. Instead, they turned much of the interior of the hive into a city. Daily exposure to the bizarre energies of the mysterious structure began to affect the residents, and curious mutations began appearing in their offspring. The former members of the Cabal proved braver; they believed that Ashur-El would frown upon experimenting upon the populace, so they began venturing out into the roiling maelstrom that was Vul-Bel-Ukin's surface to collect samples of the new and exotic lifeforms Ashur-El was creating. Ashur-El secretly observed their experiments, looking for whatever scraps of creativity he had not already wrenched from them.
Eventually Ashur-El seemed to grow bored with his large scale transformation of the planet, or so his followers perceived. He willed the Adamantium gates of Shemal-Lilitu open and expelled the people residing within to make their own way on the new world. They labored with fairly primitive means to rebuild a working civilization, but were aided by Ashur-El who used his powers to multiply their efforts until a city arose around his bleak keep. This combined with the long isolation during his transformation of the world was interpreted as a desire for everyone to begin anew, free of their history under the thumb of the Cabal. In truth, Ashur-El regarded this city as a laboratory and game-board.
His pawns assembled and confined, he began to play. Ashur-El's profound awareness of psychic energy and his knowledge of its effects on the Immaterium, along with the growing mastery of the material world Shemal-Lilitu provided him with made him wonder if sufficient psychic power could change the Materium on a wider scale. Knowing his time was endless, he began his forays into the idea of changing reality on a very small scale. His first project was intimate in scope: changing a single family. He snatched a father and replaced him with a man who bore no resemblance to him and gave him a simple brief to portray the father, then he fabricated new memories for the family's social circle and extended kin so they would associate the new father for the old.
The wife and children awoke one morning to find that their patriarch had been replaced by a stranger who unconvincingly played the part of their missing kin. Their shock and outrage turned to confusion as everyone in the community recognized the impostor as the genuine article. The family despaired at their plight, wondering what happened but over time they changed their own minds until the impostor was wholly accepted, to Ashur-El's glee.
(To be continued)
Filled now with some understanding of minds beyond his own filled him with a hunger for greater knowledge. To gain this knowledge he would need to find new people, people with different histories; he would need to leave his world. Leaving Shemal-Lilitu, let alone his world was far too risky for his liking though. He meditated on his conundrum with the assistance of concentrated, Warp-grown hashish and after many weeks dreamed of a solution.
He began calling subjects to him and programming their minds and bodies to create an abhuman race of missionaries. These men and women were carriers for a highly communicable psychic disease, a miasma that rooted itself in the afflicted's mind, and transmitted thoughts in two directions: outward to flood Ashur-El with awareness, and inward, planting the seeds of Ashur-El's appeal for conversion and worship.
After several decades of development, Ashur-El's missionary race was completed and sent out into the stars in biological ships that kept their cargo preserved in womb-like conditions. Where these missionaries found societies they could infiltrate, they did; but even a fatal encounter with hostile aliens aided the cause, exposing them to the psychic plague.
Ashur-El had demonstrated a great deal of control over his world with his shifts in its atmosphere and plate tectonics. When the plague he had devised began to bear fruit, transmitting knowledge to his mind of the wider galaxy; he decided to demonstrate his complete mastery. Seated upon the throne of Shemal-Lilitu he began shifting its gravity and even its magnetosphere, turning it into a sail for solar winds that allowed him to move the very planet like a vessel. This means of conveyance was hardly fast, but its impact was immediate: the rest of the solar system which Vul-Bel-Ukin had been a part of was thrown into an orgy of cosmic destruction. The other worlds and moons of the system, along with its various asteroid and ice fields had their own orbits radically altered and with Ashur-El's careful piloting, were made to crash into each other.
The master of Shemal-Lilitu sent hordes of ravening creatures into the void to consume the mineral rich wreckage of the solar system and bring the wealth of entire worlds to fuel his diabolical schemes.
The Subtle Millennium
For all their power and mastery, the Cabal had shown little interest in the wider galaxy. They possessed only the ancient, creaky ships that brought humans to their world to begin with thousands of years prior. Ashur-El decided that in order to expand the reach of his monsters and missionaries, he would require vessels. Using the Cabal's antique vessels schematics, Ashur-El set his slaves to work, using the vast store of materials garnered from the demolition of the rest of the solar system. The next thousand years were a time of endless toil and industry on Vul-Bel-Ukin; as great factories were erected to churn out ships and weapons of war.
Ever eager to please their god, slaves strove to outdo themselves in creating ever-more baroque and ghastly vessels. Apparently pleased with their artistry, Ashur-El chose a ship that had been constructed so as to appear to be an orgy of giant cadavers fused together, their faces twisted in torment. This great capital ship and travesty of art he dubbed The Oven of Nations. Other ships, great and terrible in scope and power would follow: The Wages of Sin, The Folly of Hope, Older Than Music, Pilgrim's Regress, and Mother of All Whores among them.
It came to pass that one of Ashur-El's missionaries had been spreading the Gospel of the Stillborn Soul on an Imperial world when it was invaded by an Ork WAAAGH! The missionary was well placed to observe the unfolding war between the Orks and the various forces of the Imperium. Ashur-El's interest was piqued only after the war though, when all evidence pointed to the complete extermination of the invading Orks; only for a new force of Orks to spring forth, seemingly from nowhere and begin the process again. Through his minion's mind's eye, Ashur-El was able to see the Imperium respond to the renewed threat by blasting regions into blackened glass from orbit. Ashur-El deduced that the Orks had somehow seeded portions of the world with their own genetic material, allowing a new generation of Orks to resume the war without any input from the preceding generation.
Ashur-El had seeded worlds and asteroids with a menagerie of monsters, but it had simply never occurred to him to do so with a sentient race of beings. Furious at not having thought of it centuries ago, he vented his wrath upon his adoring worshipers before setting out to make his own people to seed worlds with. He engineered a race of humanoids resembling normal humans, but all possessing the Pariah gene, ancestral memory, and the ability to reproduce asexually through spores. These "Wasteforms," as Ashur-El contemptuously dubbed them, were as devoted to him as his normal slaves, though as a matter of biology rather than psychic power. This first generation of Wasteforms were discretely shipped to various Imperial worlds by pirates, slavers, and incautious Rogue Traders.
Because they were no more hardy than normal humans and lacked the Ork's quirky, technological prowess; future generations of Wasteforms were largely vulnerable. In less developed areas they frequently succumbed to the elements or hostile wildlife. In "civilized" areas they were frequently victimized by society. However, because of their genetic memory, some were able to initiate plots and set aside caches of weapons and supplies that future generations could take advantage of; furthermore, they were always able to recognize members of their own species, so forming cabals was child's play. In one instance, a Wasteform was tapped on account of it's pariah gene and collected for indoctrination as a Cullexus Assassin.
The Long Sleep
Having spread his Wasteforms among the stars, Ashur-El decided to simply wait. Demonstrating his communion with Shemal-Lilitu, he brought his world into the gravity well of a vigorous white star and blanketed his bastion in a veil of twilight. Hidden by the star, and protected by the shadowy force fields of Shemal-Lilitu, his slaves toiled away creating monuments and weapons while Ashur-El fell quiescent in sleep.
- "Wherefore should I not offer my praise? They, the fruit of the twisted tree, children of my creations; demanding hearty exhortations in support of the true divinity of Ashur-El. Let a host of blades, awash in venom, be issued from the deep vaults of Shemal-Lilitu; send with them the Lasguns and Autocannons, with bombs and armor of carapace black as the night, let my court carve into stone and slave, great praise to these most distant grandchildren of my Wasteforms."
- —Ashur-El ecstatically praises the descendants of his slaves who conquered in his name.
Eventually music came to Ashur-El's dreams, sent across the gulf of the Warp. One world, and then another and another: his hollow Wasteforms had conquered their human neighbors and made them sing the praises of the Glorious Martyred Prince. This had always been a part of Ashur-El's designs, for he had abandoned his creations with no means to contact him, they would require the warp-presence of beings with true souls, enslaved into his service. He set course for the first of these worlds, and saw the great-grandchildren of his Wasteforms in third-hand Imperial Guard uniforms, policing the populace, waiting for him.
Signs and Wonders
In his ongoing quest to master Shemal-Lilitu, Ashur-El once again brought his world hazardously close to other worlds, ripping them apart with the resulting disruptions in gravity. Each attempt brought refinement however, and soon he was able to leave worlds warped, but intact. This activity attracted the attention of an Imperial patrol fleet, which began to follow the devastation; seeking answers.
They found their answers in the Perdition System, where Ashur-El's world hung over Perdition IV like a titanic moon; the top of Shemal-Lilitu piercing the governor's spire top palace. The patrol fleet suddenly found itself in hostile territory, as Ashur-El had seduced the entire system before their arrival with a series of seeming miracles, culminating in his great stunt; negating the gravity of Shemal-Lilitu's anchor world. The patrol fleet was decimated and forced to withdraw.
War and Other Catastrophes
- "Such joy! How manifold they are, that which We have destroyed and those We have lain low. Greater still, what We shall create in destruction's wake; when We are the sole God, the lord of every land, of every sky!"
Having dispensed with subtlety and discretion, Ashur-El intentionally hurled his forces into ongoing conflicts, seeking spoils in the form of captives who might bend the knee, else be used in his hideous experimentation.
- "With hearts full of spite, we commit ourselves to this endeavor; rivers of magic and twisted dream, Warp-calculus, alchemy, and terrible murder-science. All these and more, the weapons with which our Agency shall neuter the souls of our slaves and scour the stain of Chaos from our demesne. Rise Ash! Cast off your bandages! You are become Ashur-El Artashumara, the Human Engine!"
- —Sorcerer-King She-Bel-Ram, Calypso Queen of a Billion Shrieking Terrors
Ashur-El was created to act as a receptacle for all the raging emotions that give power to the Chaos Gods. When he takes the burden of a creature's obedience, he also takes these feelings from them, giving them an artificially induced worship of himself in their place. His design renders him ageless and exceedingly difficult to kill: he can transmit his injuries or afflictions to any of his slaves, regardless of distance or barriers, so long as he is in the same plane of existence.
His porcelain-like skin is actually not unlike stone, making him preternaturally strong and resilient; but only as long as he subsumes his emotions. When his mask of composure breaks, his skin start to break as well. Created for psychic potential, his abilities were exponentially increased during his subsequent alteration; only to be brought down and bound when his initial rebellion was put down. Conceivably this could be reversed but Ashur-El neither knows this, nor is he particularly interested in investigating the possibility; he even lacks the drive to hoist the chore upon his followers.
Within the confines of Shemal-Lilitu, or while on a world where it has taken root, he seems omnipotent; but this is in fact a function of his power over minds. Mindless creatures, robots, and certain strains of Pariahs would be unaffected by his Imagineering.
- "Behold the stark rapture of his countenance! His is the face of love! All praise to you Ashur-El Artashumara, this slave has made pilgrimage for a thousand years to see you. I give you now my eyes, that my mind's eye never be sullied with an image other than your shining visage!"
- —A fanatical supplicant
While composed, which is most of the time, Ashur-El's skin and eyes are as smooth and white as porcelain. His hair vaguely resembles a ruffled mass of sleek, black feathers. His features are delicate and fine-boned: small nose, high cheek bones, and thin lips. Ashur-El's expression is vacant, doll-like complacency. When he loses his composure, either in anger or mirth his features crack and fracture. His lips have trouble moving so they splinter and cracks spiderweb across his cheeks, revealing angry, red muscle tissue and razor sharp teeth. His eyes well with bloody tears as stone-like chips of skin flake off his brow and cheekbones. His slaves literally have to reassemble his face after such episodes, a task they perform with perturbing glee.
His slaves ensure that his attire befits his exalted status and is always attired in fabulous garments made from materials looted from countless worlds. They usually dress him in dark colors in contrast to his pallid skin, when in doubt they go with black.
- "Hope is a lie. Love is a lie."
Ashur-El is seemingly as vacant as his usual expression. His slaves seem intent on interpreting his every breath and gesture, and he seems just as intent on not providing them with many examples of either. Though generally quiescent, when his passions are stirred they tend to take on an apocalyptic scope very quickly. He definitely hates anything that can described, however loosely, as a person.
He feels the collective fear, anger, frustration, pride, and guilt of those who have sworn themselves to him. He feels their hope and ambition too, but these tend to get drowned out. Despite the soul-crushing weight of his spiritual and emotional burden, he genuinely loves the power he has over his devoted servants, and laps up their worship. The pain derived from their obedience has not blunted his desire for ever-more followers.
Beneath the vacant exterior and the clouded interior though, is a core of loathing and death-worship. He wants everyone to worship him, to be filled with all of them; so he can collectively end life using his connection to them.
- "The terrible city Shemal-Lilitu, hoary before life yet crawled from the slime pit of infant Terra was the enduring achievement of some unfathomably ancient race. We know not if it is an engine of salvation or annihilation. Our order have studied its machinations for more than ten thousand years and have come away with the barest hint of its workings. These were sufficient to become as gods to lesser men."
- —Imagineer Monmouth
More so than any potentate or planetary governor, Ashur-El owns the world beneath his feet. From the hive city sized basalt and adamantine ziggurat of Shemal-Lilitu, Ashur-El can "terrorform" the planet however he sees fit, shifting the continents at a whim, command the weather, and seed it with terrible new life. Perhaps more frighteningly, he can direct it to move through real space; which tends to wreck havoc in any system he brings the world to thanks to sweeping changes in gravity and such. Shemal-Lilitu is older than the world, which is nameless; and is in fact a vessel of hulk-like proportions that can take root in any world or sufficiently large asteroid.
Ashur-El can get his hands on nearly any conceivable weapon, so long as it could be held by a humanoid of his size and isn't extremely rare or one-of-a-kind; but he generally doesn't get into fights.
- "As as child We dreamt for others. Now our dreams find purchase in all hearts."
Ashur-El is not particularly skilled at any discipline: he's never had to do battle with wits or arms, he doesn't create anything in the traditional human fashion, and he is content to exist and pursue his ultimate ambition without need for the kind of diversions that add variety to other peoples lives. His great talent is his imagination. Despite his seeming vacuousness, he is in fact constantly dreaming and devising all manner of nightmares and atrocities; any world that has been implanted by Shemal-Lilitu invariably becomes a monument to horrors that most sentient beings didn't realize could be until they see them while being dragged away to elaborate oubliettes and torture gardens.
(Do not contribute without prior collaboration with me please.)
- "My lord, my king, my God, my moon and sun, the unconquered stars, the serene void between them; tidings from this unworthy servant, the bones and meat of this sad wasteform you deign to permit this life. I prostrate myself before you, seven times and seven times on the back and on the stomach. I have indeed performed the tasks worthier servants have set before me in your holy name. Who am I, the least of your servants, unfit to gaze upon the shadow you cast upon the meanest dirt; and what is anything I possess that the wishes of my lord, my king, my God, my moon and sun, the unconquered stars, the serene void between them, should not obey constantly and without fail?"
- —An obsequious retainer of Ashur-El
- "Contempt and pity. That is all my glorious master feels for you voided retches. Do you not wish to feel the greatest of passions on the thrice damned world of Garthadal, where each step you take is upon corrupted soil through which the Prince of Chaos emanates his desires? Or to experience the most enlightening of rages which instil the body with an ungodly vigour and strength? You are fools living within a false paradise. My Saint and his Dark Gods can provide you with a cause that is really worth dying for. One that is worth exchanging your very essence, for a mere taste of unbridled ecstasy!"
- —A zealous Syrathian Cultist, prior to his martyrdom to become a daemonic gateway, in the presence of a large collective of Ashur-El Artashumara's slaves.
- "A monster whose depravity is matched only by the utter hubris. The fiend believes all of us should worship him. I beg to differ - I say the only true calling is to take up arms and fight against his will. No matter what it may cost us, a creature with the pride to call himself a god deserves nothing more than to be slain and forgotten in the eternity. The emotions he seeks to end shall be that which kills him - one day one shall wield the hammer and it shall be their righteous fury which lays low this tyrant."
- —Junius in one of his rants
- "The Stillborn Soul is one of sorrow, of a would-be king who cannot fathom the finer points of reality. He attempts to weave his influence into the fabric of humanity only to fall when he encounters us. We take his dreams, his aspirations, and reduce them firmly. Into ash... "
- "To all the apologists and heretics in denial who endorse drivel about Sensei, Star Children, or other stand-ins for the one true Emperor: here is your mighty psyker, would-be God. Do your shortcuts and fickle faith persevere in the face of such a tyrant?"
- —Feodor Vir, Inquisitor
- "Say to Gruenweald, Governor of Perdition IV: thus your true god Ashur-El saying: the people have rejected you and your false god. Did they not call out to you, saying "Yea, he is our king and our shining god"? Yet you defy us and tell your warriors to turn their arms upon us. They call up to feel the warmth of our encompassing love, and following your own judgement you keep them from us. Were you ignorant of their dire need?
- If you are truly a steward of these people, why do you not renounce your false god? Why are you at peace with the corpse-god and take of the poisoned bounty of his treacherous priests? You yourself know that this god does not fail when he rages against all of Perdition's worlds. Write to us, return and say to us "May my king, my God Ashur-El give me leave to live this day and all the rest of the days he sees fit to grant me". Turn not from our light, that your people might yet be saved.''"
- —a letter composed by his servants based on their best interpretations his most subtle cues.