The Emperor Protects!

"A Carnival of Carnage"
Within Gabriel Chase, the plot thickens...

<<awaiting>>…

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"The Web of Hayte"
In Heron Mask's Wake...

<<awaiting>>…

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"Seek The White Scholar"
Welcome to Xicarph...

<<awaiting>>…

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"Madness of The Red Cages"
The Dreadful Fate of Inquisitor Karkalla.

<< Awaiting Censure>>…

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"Tattered Fates"
Down into Darkness...

<< Awaiting Censure>>…

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"The Children of the Kingdom"
Against all odds...

<< Awaiting Censure>>…

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"The Clockwork Void"
Can't get out, we can't get out...

<< Awaiting Censure>>…

You stand upon the staircase, beneath the Garden of Lost Saints. Bodies throng the steps around you. Jostling, hurrying, down. Down. The Widow, borne aloft on her litter, glides beside.

The tenebrous void below you writhes and ripples. The Children of the Kingdom have come.

Within sight, the vast hall towards the main gates is still and empty. Perhaps if you can get down the stairs, if you can fight your way to the doors and activate the Yu’vath device… if… if.

The screams. The screams have begun above you now. Bodies. Mutilated, decapitated, eviscerated bodies – plummet past you, into darkness.

The creatures wash towards you – as a tide.

You have seen the steel clock. Battled its guardian. Heard of Quaddis. Slain Nonesuch, Tamas, Nile… But what does it mean? What does it all mean?

Will mankind praise you and your deeds when this is done? Does it matter? Does it really even matter?

You raise your blade. Your rifle. Your pistols. You arm your mind.

Death smiles at us all.

“Ave Imperator!”

You charge into the void, and its arms sweep up to meet you.

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"Thirteen Hours to Doom"
Escape the house, or drown in fire,

The abomination that had once been called ‘Nonesuch’ towered above the tiny figure of Gaius in the stygian darkness of the great hall. Lex saw the Battle-Psyker, dauntless and defiant to the very end, draw one last bead on the creature’s centre mass as it raised its limb to smite him.

Several yards to Gaius’ left, Vittorious was down – his body a blackened ruin; the remaining fleshy parts seemingly rendered to ash at the creatures deadly touch. The unconscious form of Vindex also lay nearby, Greel’s power scythe, now slick with blood, still sparking in the gloom.

This was it.

There was no escape from moments such as these. No recourse, no respite. There was but to do or die. Intelligencer Belcarius Lex had a duty: to his colleagues, to the Adeptus Arbites, to the Inquisition – and, above all else, to the God-Emperor of Mankind. A duty to defend all loyal subjects of the Emperor, and to destroy all defilers of his glorious Imperium. Were his companions not loyal? Was this beast not a defiler, most cruel? Lex had a duty.

And, as Schola-Master Langron always used to say, “Only in death, does duty end.”

The last, lonely scion of Solomon Haarlock turned to face his fate.

He had run for long enough.

Unshipping Severance from its spine sheath, Lex brought the venerable long-las up into his shoulder. He sighted, exhaled, and – muttering the catechism of accuracy under his breath – squeezed the trigger. Once.

A bolt of blinding light leapt across the void.

The creature’s sceptre – arcing with verdant, moaning energy – swept down…

But never reached its mark.

In a tremendous explosion of tenebrous flesh, the thing that was ‘Nonesuch’ blew apart – its copper sceptre striking only stone, and rolling away into the dark.

Gobbets of matter, necrotic fluids, and super-heated steam drizzled down in the ushering silence afterward.

Duty hadn’t killed him yet.


Well done gents, once again.

One thing I’d forgotten was the new rule I’ve been waiting to implement.

When you slay, or otherwise overcome (e.g. refusing to be possessed by a daemon of Slaanesh via your willpower alone), a creature with a fear rating – you then receive it’s fear rating as negative Insanity points. Cthulhu has a similar system – regaining sanity when you dispatch or defeat unnatural agents of the Mythos.

In certain circumstances you may regain less or more insanity – if the creature was particularly potent or terrifying, or the ramifications of your failure would have been apocalyptic. And vice versa if the creature was incapacitated etc.

Please could all four of you reduce your characters’ Insanity Points totals by 4 each.

Mayhap you will be more cautious when facing the Slaugth in future, for in this instance, you barely escaped with your lives…

Fraser

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"The House of Dust and Ash"
The Revenge of Erasmus Haarlock

<< Awaiting Censure>>...

Before the auction resumes these is some commotion between the Mourners and Advocates, and eventually a troubled looking Hiram Bland returns to the podium to speak – all look to him expectantly.

“Before bidding is commenced on the greater lots, several parties have requested – and the High Mourner has insisted – against my wishes, that a demonstration be carried out, before its sale, of the oracular device known as the Gilded Widow. I hereby state that this may come to pass…”

Carried reverentially on a litter by six mourners, the Gilded Widow is brought to the dais, resplendent on her throne of ivory and bronze.

Greel produces from his robes a great, crimson, ruby – pulsing with an inner light – and fits the crystal ‘heart’ into the Widow’s chest.

The transformation is both sudden and remarkable, as the gilded figure shudders into life. Elegant metallic digits cut and spin the tarot deck, as Greel and the mourners bow away from the dais in respect. Shocked gasps and murmurs escape the crowd, as the Widow lifts her face – and eyes of uttermost darkness study the thronging auditorium.

“ASK, AND BE ANSWERED” the Gilded Widow states in an empty, mocking voice.

After a moment of silence, a voice within the crowd calls out.

“What are you?”

With a whirr the cards are stacked.

“I AM SHE WHOM MY FATHER FROZE IN HER BEAUTY AND HER GRIEF. ALONE AND WEEPING FOREVER SHALL I SIT, CURSED TO FORETELL AND TO KNOW, BUT NEVER TO ACT NOR FEEL; SAVE FOR THE VOID THAT HUNGERS EVERMORE WITHIN…”

Silence.

“Who is Abbot Tamas of Shale?” Cries Lex.

The cards are cut and shuffled, buzzing through her fingers.

“A FRAUD AND A FAKE. A SERPENT OF LIESHIS COLOUR SHALL BE SEEN BEFORE THIS DAY IS ENDED.”

A pause.

“Then who are we?” Master Nonesuch asks, smiling broadly – with obvious amusement.

With flicks, the cards are laid.

“FALSE-FACED FACADES AND SELF-DELUDED FOOLS. YOU SEEK MUCH, YET KNOW LITTLE. YOU ARE THOSE WHO HAVE COME TO DESPOIL THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD, ONLY TO JOIN ITS NUMBER…”

“What is to come?” A voice from Captain Rubio’s crowd calls out.

All are silent with anticipation. The Widow’s hands are still.

“THE BLACK SUN BURNS AND HE COMES, RIDING ITS WAKE. THE LAST VOYAGER. THE HERALD OF ALL WOES. AT ITS PASSING THE EYE SHALL BE SNUFFED OUT, THE CARION LORDS THROWN DOWN, AND THE HUNGERING ONES TORN FROM THE OUTER DARKALL THIS I CAN SEE CAST AMID THESE COLD STARS.”

Brooding. A pregnant pause.

Lex Stands.

“What is the fate of Erasmus Haarlock.”

The Widow turns her head for the first time, and rests her terrible gaze upon our heroic Arbite’s features.

As she speaks, all of the cards are turned.

“THE TRAVELLER AND THE SCION BOTH DO LIVE, ONE WITHOUT AND THE OTHER WITHIN. BLOOD OF HIS BLOOD, BORN OF HIS LINE, FLESH SO FRAIL CAUGHT IN THIS WEB. DEATH SHALL BE THEIR INHERITANCE. HAARLOCK RETURNSAND HELL FOLLOWS WITH HIM!”

Face up, all of the cards show The Reaper. Death grins at us all.

The mourners fall to their knees, screaming and wailing – “We are the dead”! As the whole structure begins to shake violently, and a roar echoes up from the distant depths, the lights flicker and distant explosions can be heard. Servo-skulls drop from the air, and servitors collapse lifeless. After a few moments, the complex stops quaking and the roar steadies down to a continuous low rumble.

The Widow speaks again.

“KNOW THIS, THE TRAVELLER HAS SET OUR COURSE AND THE SHIP CANNOT BE TURNED. THIRTEEN HOURS YOU HAVE, THIRTEEN HOURS UNTIL HIS WRATH DROWNS YOU ALL IN FIRE AND ASHSEALED HERE IN THE TOMB THAT HAS BEEN PREPARED. FITTING PUNISHMENT FOR YOU WHO WOULD TAKE FROM HIM WHAT IS HIS ALONE. NEVER DO YOU LEARN THE LESSONS OF THE PAST, DOOMED TO REPEAT HISTORY’S SINS. BUT FIRST YOU WILL SUFFER, FIRST YOU WILL BE SHRIVEN!

YOU HAVE BUT ONE CHANCE AND ONE CHANCE ALONE TO PLACATE THE TRAVELLER, ONE GIFT WILL ASSUAGE HIS JUST FURY. GIVE ME THE BLOOD OF THE SCION OF HAARLOCK! LET IT FLOW TO FILL THIS CHALICE, AND YOU SHALL LIVE. BUT IF MY CUP REMAINS EMPTY, THE CHILDREN OF THE KINGDOM WILL GNAW YOUR FLESH, AND DARKNESS WILL BURY YOUR BONES!”

Shocked silence deadens the auditorium. Broken only by the wail of the mourners, the whimpers of a few overcome, and the slow applause of a much amused Master Nonesuch. Several members of the audience regain their wits, and begin to head for the exits.

Provost Bland staggers onto the dais and cries out.

“What goes on here? What does this mean?!”

The tall spectre of Greel, the Head Mourner, rears up behind him – his great staff raised high above his head as he screams:

“Fools! You are trapped here, buried alive! Death to the defilers of his tombs! Death to those who profane his name by stealing from our master!”

A power blade springs from the staff to form a scythe, and the weapon swings down – bisecting the Provost in a welter of gore. The crowd of mourners draw silver blades and surge as one – falling upon the bystanders and guards, hacking indiscriminately. Chaos spreads – and the countdown to doom has begun.

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"The Burning Skies"
Solomon Haarlock and Silas Marr

<<<[Awaiting Censure]>>>

When last we saw our heroes…

They were on a Steam-Punk anti-grav airship. Fighting Sky-pirates. In the midst of a mystery similar to ‘Murder on the Orient Express’. Oh. Yes.

The very last of the Airship Wreckers collapsed to the decking, a look of abject horror upon his features, his comrades – still, silent, and split open all around him – some still screaming as they plummeted to the Balemire sea’s toxic embrace thousands of feet below.

Victory was won.

As the remaining crew of the Cygnan Martyr began to interrogate the surviving wrecker, and Confessor Vittorious saw to the wounded, Lex went below decks on the piratical vessel.

He found a charnel house.

Human remains hung from every beam and stanchion, and were strewn on almost every surface. The walls were all but indistinguishable, as they too were plastered with carcasses in varying stages of dismemberment. The stench was overpowering – spoiled meat, offal, sour blood, and other indescribables blended to form a wall of horrific scent.

Lex paused on the fo’castle stairs – but resolutely carried on. The Moritat Reaper, Vindex, seemed utterly unfazed by the slaughterhouse below decks – a sight that would unman all but the strongest, or most damaged minds; perhaps he is both.

Picking through the meat below – for that is all that it had been rendered into – the duo found meagre supplies of fetid water, various abattoir instruments, a small magazine for the vessel’s armaments… and a brand-spanking new plasma reactor connected to the vessel’s ancient thrusters. No wonder it had gained on the Cygnan Martyr with such shocking speed in the chase before the engagement. Perhaps the survivor could shed some light on this particular conundrum. The plot thickens.

To summarise:

All but three of the Martyr’s crew have been saved by Vittorious’ ministrations (the others fell over-board…) – though some may yet never walk / have two-arms / breathe easily again. Captain Elias Shadrak and Nahun Grist, the first mate, owe you great thanks for your help in saving their ship.

Whent, the junior scribe accompanying Lanus Cisten, has expired – you believe that poison is the cause. Lanus is suitably distraught, and is meekly helping Vittorious with the wounded men of the Martyr.

‘Abbot’ Tamas of Shale, and his dodgy Iocanthian cohorts, have holed up in their cabin below decks.

Octavia Nile has also presumably gone to her cabin. Her guards helped in the attack, and her adept – whilst appearing to view the attack in place of her mistress – has also vanished from the observation deck. The decapitated body of a wrecker splayed beside the chair in which she was sitting.

Vymer and Quill, the bounty hunters, have both suffered flesh wounds in the attack – but are very grateful to Vittorius for the medical attention they have received.

The Martyr, though damaged, should be able to limp to The Burning Isle in under five hours…

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