The scene greeting Wollsey in the Hospital Pod is a dim red twilight of bloody horror, where a place of healing has been turned into a shrine of pain and mutilation. Every surface is splattered in the blood and gore of countless victims, human, xenos, and bestial. Surgical equipment, chemicals, specimen jars, trophies, bizarre bone sculptures, flayed skins, and tanned hides clutter the room. Strange machines throb and pulse with power while pict viewers replay static shrouded images of the chamber’s past work.
The gore is too much for Dorn, who leaves and empties his stomach of the water he had just drank. Wollsey continues cautiously into the deepest pard of the pod, discovering the remains of a once powerful man in a dire state. Both of his legs have been amputated below the knee and his right arm is missing. An Inquisitorial Rosette has been crudely pinned to his chest and the left side of his face has been flensed down to the glistening bone.
Shockingly, the man somehow remains amongst the living and is resaonably lucid.
“I am Inquisitor Nazauth Karkalla!”, he says in a clear commanding voice, “stand forth and show yourselves! Who are you, and what are you doing here?”
Titus, following Wollsey into the macabre scene, asks the Inquisitor if he recognizes them, for they have met twice previously.
“Yes, yes I do … now. Is all your cell here? Bring them here, bring them in here now!”, Karkalla demands.
Once they are all present, Karkalla describes what happened to him.
Karkalla: “I came here following Vulpa, Marcus Vulpa, The Eagle Mask, one of their slaver chiefs, deluded fool. I followed him here from Sophano Prime, hoping to find his customers … beasts, beasts for the great entertainment… blood for the carnival … found worse … Death is my sentence on him. Purge the unclean!.”
Titus: “But what about the Lion Mask? The Heron Mask? The Bull Mask?”, Titus excitedly asks, “Why are we here, why were we brought here…?”
Karkalla: “Lion Mask is dead, you should know this. You blundering fools killed him on Sophano Prime when you almost ruined my operation there.”
Titus: “There is a new one, Stanton Minita is the Lion Mask now.”
Karkalla: “You lie… Minita is my man… loyal servant… not the Lion.”
Titus: “He is the Lion Mask, he brought us here!”
Karkalla: “No… enough… enough of this… no more slander… too much to tell…”
Wollsey: “Where are we?”
Karkalla: “Quaddis, infamous Quaddis, pleasure planet, false paradise, noble’s plaything, hidden world. During the Festival of Tattered Fates, a great and sinful folly of the powerful.”
Cortez: “And who is in the Heron Mask?”
Karkalla: “He is a liar, a liar! Do not trust hi. The warp shines in his black soul. Did this to me… for sport, for pleasure, and to use me as bait for someone, something else, but he thought he had driven me mad, ha ha… his mistake. Fear him, stop him!”
Titus: “Why did he bring us here?”
Karkalla: “Dark omens, dark prophecy, a gathering of dark souls, the time of the Great Conjunction, an ancient evil, lurking secrets best left buried. The Heron has some cancerous plan, some malign plot he would not reveal; he needed the old blood, I think, to lure it out. Brought you all, brought the others, dush and ash, I cannot see. Blood, it always comes back to tat for them. Sophano, the old monsters, knew too much, their world then, now, and forever, whatever lies the nobles prattle. Do not forget that.”
Scythia: “What of the Worms that walk, do you know anything about them?”
Karkalla: “No… nothing… they aren’t real, nothing but the mad ramblings of Van Vuygens and his mad chases. Now … you are all mine, my cell, my Acolytes. Take my Rosette off my chest…”
Titus: “But … that might kill you.”
Karkalla: “That will happen either way, now do as I commanded.”
Titus removes the Rosette from the Inquisitor’s chest.
Karkalla: “Now swear an Oath to the God Emperor of Mankind that you will see the Heron Masks plan thwarted. Swear it upon my Rosette, swear it now!”
Each of the six, starting with Gallus, swear their oath in their own words.
Karkalla: “Go … get to the surface, the city. Seek out the White Scholar, one of al’Subaai’s, wasn’t there when the attack happened, survived I think. He will help you… ask him… ask him what can be found in the ninth stack on Prol. He will answer, ‘emptiness’ if it is he… Stop the Heron Mask, stop him or this world dies, and with it how many others? how far will the rot spread? Stop it before it is too late. Burn my body, unsafe otherwise… May the Emperor make you a vessel of his wrath…”
And with that, Nazauth Karkalla dies.