Malcador paused from his conversation with Primarch Dorn. The elderly First Lord of Terra held a parchment delicately in his bony, blue-veined hands as he frowned in confusion. “Why has Roboute come to Terra? <cut>
Rogal Dorn scowled. This was his usual facial expression, but Malcador had learned to detect subtle differences in the Praetorian’s features. Right now, he too was perplexed.
“Unknown,” the voice from the servo-skull told them. “He says he will only speak to you, Sire, and in person.”
Dorn gave a barely perceptible nod. “I will have the Imperial Fists man the walls.”
Malcador placed the parchment on the table and reached for his Aquila staff. “I think that would be wise. This is very abrupt, and out of character for Roboute. I will meet with him in my reception parlour. Until then, I will look back through my cogitator records and see if there are any clues I may have missed about him.”
Malcador made his way back to his quarters. As he entered the front room that served as his personal office, the lights came on automatically and a servitor set in a wall niche began to prepare a cup of tea for him. The old man placed his staff carefully into an iron bracket on the floor behind his massive oak desk and placed a hand on one of the arms of his chair. An enormous Northwayan Forest Cat lay curled on the sheepskin cushion in the seat of the chair.
“Shoo, Henry,” Malcador said, waving a hand at the animal.
Henry stared with yellow eyes at the Sigillite.
“Get out of my seat, you monster.”
Henry rolled onto his back, showing a grey-tufted belly.
“Oh, all right, I will pay your toll.” Malcador buried his fingertips in the fur of his cat’s abdomen. The cat rolled left and right a few times, then sat up abruptly, grabbed Malcador’s hand with his front paws, and bit his thumb. Malcador pulled his hand away and tapped Henry sharply on top of his head with a forefinger. Henry pulled his head back, then rolled to the side of the chair. Malcador settled in with the cat lying alongside his thigh. They did this several times a day.
A servo-skull brought Malcador his tea. He ignored it as he started going through messages on his cogitator. He actually hadn’t received anything recently from Guilliman beyond…
Lord Malcador, remember always that in all things, I am your most obedient servant.
In the context of Horus’s uprising, Malcador had thought the message was unusually impulsive from Guilliman, but reassuring. Now he wondered if it was only a declaration of loyalty.
When Malcador went to his reception parlour, he took a short time to admire the collection of historical artifacts he kept there. It was also a brilliant day over the Himalayzians, and the sunscreens over the picture windows were working to keep the light from becoming blinding. The view saddened him, as the magnificence of the palace was being covered by the battlements Dorn was erecting to protect them, so he went to his usual armchair. The table in front of it held a decanter of wine and two glasses.
“Lord Guilliman approaching,” said a voice from another servo-skull. “Adeptus Custodes are deployed as honour guards. Shall they remain in the parlour with you?”
“Yes, have them remain,” he ordered.
Sure enough, a few minutes later, the doors to the parlour opened. Human servants stood to each side of them as two Custodians entered, helmeted with power staves ready. Roboute Guilliman entered, followed by two more. Servants and guards flanked the doors as they closed and Guilliman stepped forward.
He was pale. Malcador noticed that first. He was also not in armour, instead wearing an Ultramarine-blue uniform with gold epaulets and a swirling black cape. Guilliman stopped in front of Malcador and went to one knee.
“Lord Malcador,” he said.
“Primarch Guilliman. What brings you to Terra?”
Guilliman lifted his head. Despite kneeling, he still had to look down at the Sigillite. “I have received your proposal. I have come to accept. And yet…I am deeply confused. My respect for you is second only to my respect for the Emperor himself, but Lord Malcador, you are old. I am loyal to you. What purpose would this union serve?”
Malcador tipped his head to the side. “What union?”
Guilliman leaned back on his knee. “Our union. You proposed marriage. I am puzzled as to why.”
Malcador noticed that his mouth was hanging open. He snapped it shut then asked,” In what form did this marriage proposal come to you?”
“It came through the astropathic choir. My Choirmaster thought it had to be a mistake, but the message came through four more times. He concluded it was very urgent.”
Malcador pointed to a chair. “Sit, Roboute.”
Malcador poured two goblets of wine. “I sent no such message. “
“Then how and why did it come to me?”
Malcador considered. Then his eyes widened. “Oh that damnable monster!”
“Konrad Curze? Horus?”
“Worse than that,” Malcador said. “Henry.”
“Who the hell is Henry?”
Malcador returned to his front room at a swift hobble, Roboute Guilliman on his heels. Malcador dispensed with the tummy-scratch part of the ritual, shoved Henry roughly to the side of his chair, and sat down. He went through his “sent messages” folder until he found one that read “MRRRTYUIJ<KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKMMMMMMMMEE
“My astropathic choir got ‘Marry me’ out of that.” Roboute marveled.
“I suppose the choir had to come up with something,” Malcador said. “It could have been worse. I don’t care to imagine how, though.”
Malcador looked down at his pet. Henry glared up at him.
“Bad kitty,” Malcador scolded.</cut>