|This green and pleasant land (copyright Oludi on Reddit)|
Welcome, citizens, to the Truth.
Dozens of millennia ago, it comforted humanity to imagine our own struggle against the dark corners of our minds was some kind of considered debate, a demon on one shoulder and an angel on the other, pulling our hearts between them. Superstitious nonsense, without doubt, but in Horus' case, the metaphor is somewhat less stretched, at least. Magnus is perhaps a strange candidate for an angel when recruiting from a pool of people that includes Sanguinius, but Erebus is perfectly cast. Presumably the only reason he isn't a daemon already is a delay in the paperwork.
'Who are you?' is actually a terrible question, if you're expecting an answer. A cruel trick, really. It is easy to ask and almost impossible to answer, leaving the subject squirming to reply whilst their interrogator smiles unpleasantly, as though they could deal any better with the query were positions reversed. The human mind simply does is not aware of itself in linguistic terms. Our self-image is bound up in layers of emotion and fragments of ethereal awareness. Asking us to translate that into anything so fixed and limiting as High Gothic is profoundly ridiculous.
As a rhetorical device, though, it serves an obvious purpose. We need not name ourselves to reflect upon who we are. And who we are, by and large, is obvious. We are the lies and mistakes of our own past jumbled together and poured into a glass we do our best not to peer into too closely.
Whatever ways Horus differs from mere humans like us, the manner by which his past shapes him follows essentially the same lines as for anyone else. This would seem to be what Magnus is counting on. He travelled all this way through terrain that would happily swallow him so he could dress himself as a piece of Horus' past and beg him to remember who he was.
But it is also what Erebus is relying upon as well. He too has cloaked himself in a slice of Horus' past, indeed has spun entire false world into being aimed at reminding Horus of his heritage as a scion of Terra. It seems Horus' would-be saviour and would-be corrupter both see this is a battle which is to be begun upon the fields of the Warmaster's past. Fields that are rather more burned than those Erebus has surrounded Horus with, of course, and which are not really places for self-reflection, but never mind. The war for Horus' soul is about to begin, and the strangeness of the battlefield is the least of our concerns.
On one level this line of thought is rather imperceptive - of course Magnus and Erebus want to fight amongst the landmarks of Horus' past, how can you direct a man to where he should be going before you've discussed where he's been. But that generalisation rather obscures the particulars here. Magnus has to pitch his tent here. He has to base his arguments on Horus' history, because the future is looking so unappealing. The crusade stuttering to a stop; the sudden influx of bean-counters and filing clerks. The role Horus was created for is about to become irrelevant, and Magnus is desperate that Horus consider that inevitability as far away from Erebus' input as possible.
This brings home just how expertly timed the Word Bearers' schemes truly are. They had to strike when the Great Crusade was close enough to its conclusion that Horus could see the finish line in sight, but not so close that a firm plan could be put in place for what was coming next. By walking that tightrope, Erebus and Lorgar probably doomed Magnus' efforts from the very start. The playing field was simply too uneven. Magnus has to cherry-pick his way through his friend's past. Erebus can do the same, but can claim the high ground offered by the present and the future, too. Erebus is, alas, quite correct. Magnus is too late, because Erebus himself was so studiously on time.
In short, we could have called the result of this battle before it was ever fought. But fought it was, and that's not something we intend to overlook. Horus has been reminded of the iconography and sacrifices of his past, and of all our pasts. It is time to cast his gaze to the future.
Nothing on this front once again, I'm afraid. Obviously we're close to talking about the creation and scattering of the Primarchs, so that will be worth discussing in detail. After that, though, it might be time to retire this section and just drag it out on rare occasions.
Is that the last we'll see of Erebus the Naughty?
Well, surely 'Erebus the Naughty', as he's now been named, is Sejanus?
No comment. But will we see him outside that green and pleasant land?
Maybe this is what happens when the Warp takes you over. You end up having your mind sent to this place. Though that seems like an awful lot of effort, actually. It depends on whether the priest thing revives him. I know he's had his throat slit, but he's an Astartes, he can walk it off. And why doesn't he have the wound anymore?
Magic Warpiness is probably the answer.
Are you doing wibbly wobbly timey-wimey shit?
McNeill is doing it, I'm simply reporting.
You hate that kind of thing normally.
It's different with the Warp. It's been set up ahead of time as being a kind of magical realm. Or somewhere your mind gets to hang out and have weird shit happen to it.
You mean being on drugs?
Possibly, though that's not the ending to the trilogy I'd have chosen.
What is the strange vision of industrial death that lingers beneath the green and pleasant land Horus has found himself in?
I assume it's Davin.
Except that Davin is described as being fairly backward tech-wise. I'll have to nix that idea.
Maybe it's the Emperor's house?
What makes you say that?
Well we know he's busy messing around with the Warp. Maybe he's already been taken over by it.
Interesting, but it's not clear why that would lead to Horus seeing it.
Maybe One-Eyed Malcolm is trying to show it to him. Lift the veil, sort of thing.
Why is Magnus here pretending to be a wolf? Wasn't he supposed to be trying to reach the Emperor?
I think this is maybe him dropping in on his way to talk to the Emperor. What better way to demonstrate how awesome his magic powers are than to save the Emperor's favourite son? So here he is, trying to get Horus to remember who he is with a bit of subtle nudging.
You mean by being a wolf near a moon? Yes, very abstract. Is that necessarily a good idea, though?
How d'you mean?
If Horus remembers who he is fully, then Erebus gets to play on all the stuff that's been pissing him off lately.
True, but without the full deck Horus might be in even more trouble. He still remembered his name, maybe he'd still remember Hastur in some way, and without remembering he was dead he might have been totally trusting, rather than at least a little suspicious.
How much of what "Hastur" is telling Horus should we be buying?
I suppose the Warp has to have some weaknesses. Otherwise why did it take them two thousand years to sort all this out?
Well, I have my own theories on that score. But leaving that aside, are you saying there might be some truth to this "we live in the Warp and you're killing us" idea?
Maybe. Though if it is they might have messed up. Horus is so proud and mighty he's likely to run straight in and start trying to kill these things now they've been weakened by the real universe.
Relying on Horus to lend a hand is certainly playing on long odds, it's true.
Maybe there's a war on in the Warp, and this is one side trying to recruit him?
How exactly does a woman couple with a diseased swine? You may provide diagrams as appropriate.
Is that how the zombie plague spread?
I don't think we can entirely put it down to pig fucking.
Well, that's how these things usually go.
Usually go? How many stories are you aware of in which copulation with diseased farmyard animals brings about a deadly plague.
There was that episode of Angel where Cordelia was impregnated by a spider.
That doesn't mean pigs must have been involved elsewhere. There are so many animals in the world that not a single character in Angel slept with. Giraffes, ocelots, conger eels.
What about swine flu?
I give up. And you haven't answered the question.
Under no circumstances am I Googling it.
Didn't they make women copulate with horses in the American West?
Anyway, aren't pigs supposed to enjoy sex?
With other pigs! Even my most sex-obsessed friends would think twice about jumping the species barrier.
Perhaps they smeared her in pig-related sex-juices.
Nice. I was going to go with some kind of hyper-futuristic strap-on, but your idea is so much worse.
What Will Be
Where does the gateway lead?
Or into the Warp.
Which might not be much better.
Presumably Erebus is taking Horus to where he can get tempted.
What kind of tempting do you think he's got coming?
Maybe the Emperor?
Maybe the Emperor is a Warp creature. That's why Malcom has come here on his way to see him.
It's probably a good job we remembered to buy tinfoil on Saturday.