Fatum Tyrannus

*181.818.M41* The Passing of the Shadow
Deja Vu, The Manse of Gabriel Sophano, The Passing of the Shadow, Battle of the Steel Clock

181.818.M41
Titus, Gallus, Scythia, Cortez, Dorn and Wollsey approach the Moon Gate of the Manse of Gabriel Sophano. Set in a high wall of black stone, gates of polished adamantine stand open, twinkling light in the morning sun. Around the edge of the gates’ vast mouth are inlaid symbols of the phases of sun and moon, with the simple dark circle of a moonless night above the apex of the gateway. Around the gate flock costumed figures in carriages or atop riding beasts held by jewelled halters. Around these exotic figures throng footmen, guards, and equerries in a kaleidoscope of liveries. Above the crowd hover raptors, their eyes plucked out and replaced by augmetics that scan the crowd jostling for entrance through the Lunar Gate.

As they reach the front of the crowd present at the Lunar Gate, they see the formidable security of Gabriel Sophano. Two ancient, ornate gun servitors with heavy bolters and another pair with lascannons face the throng of waiting guests from just outside the gate, while two functionairies in sober black check the validity of each invitation. They seem to be uninterested in the guests themselves, with a sole concern being the authenticity of a guest’s invitation, which they check by pressing the seal attached to it to a hand held device of tarnished brass. The device projects a holographic cone of light and air that fills with rotating numbers and symbols. The functionary nods and allows the guest to pass.

It is then that they experience a “deja-vu” moment when a foot carriage of pink crystal approaches the gate and presents their ticket to the functionary, who somberly presses the brass device to check its validity. The swirling cone suddenly turns from blue to an angry red, and the shakes his head and point back away from the estate. An elegant lady with a long curled white wig and powdered features with a purple jeweled mask is quite irate, going into the price she paid, and how there won’t be any time to find another, but her pleading falls on uncaring ears. She seems about to order her footmen to proceed as the gun servitors turn ever so slightly towards her. Reluctantly, she turns aside back into the streets of Xicarph.

A memory of a shower of bullets and death comes to mind, but no, that didn’t happen did it. Things this time may not go exactly as they did the first time around.

The path from the Lunar Gate into the estate of Gabriel Sophano is cobbled with stones that each have a unique shape, color and hue, with gilded lettering telling the name of a system visited by the Sophanos from which it was taken. The forest to either side of the winding lane carries artificial hints of fragrance, changing as often as the flora itself, each section different from the last. Broken ruins of ancient structures plucked from a hundred worlds are visible within, abandoned and given over to moss and Ivy. Guests can be seen wandering within, some reveling, some steeling themselves for what’s to come. Three large domes of sparkling crystal rise up in the distance on what must be the far side of the estate, beyond a large column of light shooting directly up to the Hub far above in the Crystal Dome of Xicarph as sounds of revelry and music echo to you from up ahead.

The manse itself is circular and rises in three colonnaded tiers to a great crystal dome that apes the dome that contains the city of Xicarph, which the manse sits at the center of. Numerous entrances are visible, but its main entrance is via a set of silver doors that are reached by a great spill of broad steps. The Manse is surrounded by jet black obsidian paving stones of various shapes seamlessly joined together to make a vast canvas into which are set large precious stones at irregular intervals. Opulent carriages and all manner of riding beasts are parked at the edges, with footmen waiting in attendance. Cortez reasons that the gemstones represent planets of the Calixis Sector, but the map appears to have too many stars listed upon it than are part of the sector today.

Inside the main entrance to the Manse is a grand hallway a dozen meters wide or more, with thick, heavy carpets woven with deep subtle patterns. The walls are lined with rare plants in huge vases, larger than life paintings of long forgotten scions of the Sophano line, and tables of rare wood inlaid with polished stone upon which sit priceless items of unknown origin. Servitors with enamblled machine components move through the crowds handing out glasses of rare liquors and exquisite sweetmeats and patries. Music and laughter spill in from the immense double doors of black wood at the end of the hallway, beyond which can be seen a grand ballroom.

In the Grand Hallway of the Manse that leads to the Theatre of Clocks, the Scythia approaches an old man who stands out from the crowd not only due to his obviously advanced years, but also his lack of retinue, bodyguards or any other hangers on. He is relatively simply clothed in a noble fashion long out of style and wears a simple mask that barely covers his eyes. You don’t see any obvious signs that he is armed. ‘Greetings youngstes. First Festival of Tattered Fates, I take it.’. His name is Claudius Vipus of Baraspine, and he has been cut out of his shipping business by a younger relative, his nephew, Antonius, and his one time close friend and business associate, Master Nonesuch of the Sophano Prime Mining Association.

The cell continues into the main ballroom. At the center of Xicarph is the estate of Gabriel Sophano, at the center of Gabriel Sophano is the manse, and at the center of the manse is the Theatre of Clocks. This great circular atrium is the entrance hall into the rest of the manse and is also its ballroom and rises through all three floors of the manse to the crystal dome that sits at the top. The floor itself is white marble, but its center is dominated by a device of a multi-rayed black sun inlaid in brass and granite. Every inch of the walls are covered with ticking clocks and time pieces of every conceivable shape, size, and design, their mechanisms exposed like the insides of a patient on a surgeon’s table. More double doors of black wood lead away from the Theatre of Clocks into the curving corridors and spiral staircases that access the rest of the manse.

At the center of the inlaid device in the theatre is a six meter high column of whirling clockwork, lever arms, scything blades, and turning cogs made of glittering steel at the heart of which swings a great pendulum weighted by a curiously cut coal-like stone of iridescent mineral the size of a large fist.

Many powerful guests and their entourages have gathered within the theatre. Some are engaging in displays of martial prowess, either directly or by getting their hirelings to do it for sport, while others are dancing or playing music. Above all, though, is the sport of posturing and gossip. Occasionally performance dancers, musicians, and acrobats take up space on the floor, but most of Theatre of Clocks is the place to converse and align oneself for Carnival of Blood.

Circling each tier of the manse are pillaried promenades called The Solar Colonnades. The pillars are made of a white marble said to have been mined from within the solar system itself. Ancient sculptures look down from plinths and niches along the colonnades. Accessed from great bay windows, it is here that many of the thousands of guests mingle amongst the splendor of the sculptures and the wondrous view across the other towers and domes of Xicarph.

The cell decides to split up and cover more ground exploring the Manse separately.

Group A (Scythia, Dorn, Gallus) meets a group of nobility led by someone named Alton Sinclair, lord Vaxanide. Modestly dressed for a Noble, Lord Vaxanide has a modest retinue and seems to be in a jovial, celebratory mood. Recently a large deposit of Nilium was found during routine Mechanicum Geomantic surveying on Vaxanide. They are excited to start getting extraction underway, the value of it is astronomical, and Vaxanide be well above its Tithe for the forseeable future.

After shuffling him and his entourage on, they notice an eye looking at them from behind a wall, then discover a secret door! Scythia opens the door and rushes into the breach followed by Dorn, but they are just in time to see a black robed person rush around a corner and down some stairs out of sight.

Group B (Titus, Cortez, Wollsey) notices a person being carried by a couple of black robed persons into a doorway upstairs, but when they move to follow them they spot the cane and mask of none other than Master Nonesuch, and just in time are able to dodge into a side room where they have a conversation with one Dame Obelia, a grand dame in an ostentatious gown that would be more fitting of a grand ball on Scintilla. She’s carrying a simple masquerade mask on a stick in one hand and has a glass in the other. She appears to already be quite drunk. A large man in simple graceful attire attends to her in silence. She regales them with conversations about the Sophano family:

“Erasmus Sophano, rogue trader, master of the vast power of the Sophano, and last of his line, disappeared many years ago. Now presumed deceased, the huge wealth of his line is locked in legal dispute in the Courts of Solomon. Though some whisper that scions of the Sophano line may still exist, they have proven reticent to come forward to claim the great prize of Sophano’s legacy.”

“Erasmus Sophano lost his beloved wife and only daughter to a vicious war between the members of the Sophano line fought for the inheritance of the Sophano rogue trader warrant. He later hunted down and killed every member of his family and their families, friends, allies, and associates.”

“There is one thing that Erasmus Sophano desired after the death of his wife and daughter—to undo what happened, return them both to life, and return to the life that he led before they were slain. Sophano was willing to pursue any means to this end.”

Prominently featured in the salon where Dame Obelia’s conversation happens is a giant painting entitled “The Death of Tanis,” which features a warship bearing the Sophanos’ golden spider heraldry beside a world dying in the light of a burning black sun.

Continuing on, Group B finds Gallia, standing vacantly in a forgotten corner of a hallway just off the Theatre of Clocks on the lower level. She is wearing a velvet jacket over her bright dress and there is an acrid smell of fresh blood around her. The group soon discovers that she seems to have had her heart ripped out from her chest. There is an empty hole where it should be, but she doesn’t seem pale, and is still standing on her own accord, moving compliantly in the direction when nudged. She is left behind as the group hurries to meet up with Group A before venturing into the hidden parts of the Manse. Unfortunately the layout of Gabiel Sophano isn’t always clear, and they struggle to find them.

Group A decides to continue on into the walls without waiting for B, when deafening chimes fill the air, and every wall and surface vibrates to their note; the crystal of glasses sings, and dust rises from the relics of Gabriel Chase. It is as if the manse itself is producing the chimes, and as the 10th and final note fades, a sound like the winding of a thousand cogged mechanisms comes from the walls and then abruptly ceases. Those who look out at the sky see that a dark bite has been taken from the sun. As the last chime sounds, they hear a monstrous whirring and clanking of machinery in the walls all around them. Then the corridor shakes like dice in a cup and is flipped upside down, dropping them from what is now the ceiling to the floor. The ends of the passage they were in disappears to be replaced by dark, rusted metal doors. With a final clank of gears, the metal doors grind open, and from the darkness beyond come scuttling servitors, their flesh dead and grey, their brass weapon limbs clicking like hungry jaws. Amidst the Heavy Stubber Fire, Chainaxes, and falling damage they managed to eventually fight them off and continue into the hidden pathways.

Group B, managing to get behind the walls, trys to locate Group A, but instead comes across the macabre remains of a vile ritual. A charred mass of human bones are scattered around a distinct oval pattern of heretical runes written in blood. In the corner there are a pile of rent red robes with the golden spider of Sophano on them.

Group A finds a Pillar of Bone deep within the hidden bowels of Gabriel Sophano in an alcove with an immense fresco depicting a scene of death, with piles of dead bodies surrounding a twisted pillar of bone. Dark shapes fire sick beams at soldiers wearing black carapace armor emblazoned with the golden spider of Sophano. A noble figure at the head of the forces of man stands larger than life pointing a powersword at the pillar and a large black shape standing before it. A similar pillar now sits in the middle of the alcove with a black cloak beneath it. Lettering below the pillar spells out ‘Victory at Slaug’. While examiling it, a stunning beauty of a lady with a parasol that has a silvery brass skull head on the end manages to get right up to them without them noticing. She is a gregarious fashionable and quite attractive blonde noblewoman in a severe high collared dress that shows nothing while leaving little to the imagination. While she is pleasant to talk to, Scythia and Dorn can’t help but this there is something terribly wrong with her. She rebuffs Scythia’s charming conversation and seems to be in awe of the beauty of the Bone Pillar. The group decides to run rather than wait for her friends, as she has “requested”. They barely are able to flee out from behind the walls into the main areas of the Manse.

Group B manages to see Group A flee from the hidden pathways, then sneaks up to see what’s going on with the Lady. Titus manages to find a hidden study within the hidden passages that appears to be the study of Erasmus Sophano! There is a map of the Calixis Sector that shows Erasmus Sophano had and maintained several holdings and interests on many worlds. Those of particular interest to him in his later days included the mortuary complex known as the House of Dust and Ash on Sophano Prime, a strange folly he had built outside the city of Sinophia Magna on the planet of Sinophia, and a hospitaler temple on Solomon.

On the wall is the aged portrait of a man with a buxom woman and a small girl no more than five years old. They are all relaxed and smiling in a lush garden in bright golden sunshine. An inscription carved roughly into the frame reads: “My Josephine, My Josette, what cruelty has taken you from me? I will undo the wrongs done to us, and we will be together again, laughing. I promise.”

On a desk there is the remnants of a burned journal. One of the pages, burned at the edges still clearly says “… with their petty little war. I will show them horror. They will know fear. I know what the Mordichotte’s cultists desire! I now the true face of the Blood God whom they serve! I will …”

The rest is illegible save for the lone word “exterminate”. The group takes the Journal SURE that the rest of the non ruined pages must contain some other piece of very valuable information, if only they can decode it (Hint: It does. Triumph)

Groups A and B, finally together again, meet up a young noble trailed by an entourage of a half dozen hardened looking retainers. His stamped metal feral world style helmet mask cannot hide his handsome features. ‘Impressive!’, he says in apparent approval, “Sire Terrik Doru of Gunmetal City, and I am pleased to make your acquaintance!” then finishes his introduction with a sweeping bow. They talk and make friends before the cell heads down to the floor of the Theatre of Clocks to await the Grand Conjunction. Wollsey makes himself a contact and increases his influence.

As the 12th hour strikes, the lights within the manse flicker and then plunge the whole manse into darkness; screams abound along with a few shots in the darkness before the lights abruptly snap back on. A commotion immediately forms around the Steel Clock. The Steel Clock has been daubed in blood, parts of it are now in furious motion where none were before, and a palpable aura of cold now radiates from it. Sticky red finger marks can be seen on several of the levers and gears and in a crimson print across the clock face. Lodged inside the mechanism, you can see the shape of a human arm, severed above the elbow. Obviously this is Gallus’ arm that was lost to the Widower in the fight outside the Fates Wheel.

The light has fled as if before the dark clouds of a storm. A cold breeze blows, stirring gowns and feathered finery, though Xicarph is sealed in a dome of crystal. Guests throng to the Theatre of Clocks. Servitors pass through the rooms and promenades, lighting huge candelabra of pale candles. In the candlelight, a hush falls as minutes pass and many of the masked faces turn upward to watch the light become blotted out. Others in the crowd finger their weaponry and edge into position, waiting for the permitted carnage of the revel to begin. The barest sliver of light, like a ring of silver, can still be seen behind the dark orb that has eaten the sun.

In the last seconds of light, the countless clocks of the Theatre of Clocks, which have struck the hours of a thousand different worlds for a thousand years, begin one by one to tick in unison with the Steel Clock. The guests begin to mutter, surprise showing in every gesture and glance; such a thing has never happened before. With a sweep of the pendulum of the Steel Clock, the last clock falls into rhythm with its fellows and the air resonates with the ticking of a thousand mechanical hearts. Then as one they strike the 13th hour in a great chorus of noise and chaos.

As the final, 13th note is struck, thousands of hands reach for masks and draw weapons. There is a heartbeat as the chime holds in the air, and then the world is plunged into a twilight gloom. All is primed, taut anticipation, but before a shot can be fired between rivals, an exultant voice shouts words as loud and terrible as the chiming of the Steel Clock. His heron mask glittering in the candlelight, an all too familiar figure leaps onto the plinth of the Steel Clock and gazes around smiling. ‘Look, look at the sun!’ he calls out. Above Xicarph shines the sun, so bright that it cannot be looked at, but it gives no light. All around in the impossible darkness, people begin to scream, and the sound of violence erupts in a desperate, panicked rush. ‘Come, Widower of Sophano, show me your face. It is your hour, and you will unmask.’

A figure walks from the seething crowd, his robes billowing in an unnatural wind, his eagle mask still in place. ‘You!’ shouts heron mask, and the wearer of the eagle reaches up and removes his mask.’

‘Fool,’ the Widower growls in a voice that is a hundred different voices blended into one. ‘You have brought the

Sophanos by-blows here and sealed your doom! You thought to tame me, but you know nothing! You are nothing! By their blood I have summoned the black light of death for this world, a shadow out of time captured centuries ago by the Traveller but no less lethal now. In death I shall be free of him who comes!’ Suddenly the mechanisms of the great Steel Clock begin to whirl and change, and unholy howling echoes from the machine.

The deathly fires of a black sun crawl round the dark totality of the eclipse, blacker than the darkness of the void. All around the chamber, men and women scream. Some fall to their knees beneath the black light, clawing at their eyes and faces, while others lash out

The Widower, disguised as Eagle Mask (was he wearing his skin? Ewwww!) fights with Heron Mask around the Steel Clock as the group jumps into the fray. Heron Mask is quickly taken down, but not before gravity fails, causing everyone within a short distance from the clock to take falling damage. Many nobles are severely injured or killed by this, and the group isn’t feeling well either. The Widower wades into the cell as they pound on the Steel Clock. Scythia goes down, the Dorn, Wollsey, Gallus … some of them are able to stand up again and rejoin the fight. A desperate attempt is made by the Widower at taking down Cortez before he is able to finish destroying the clock, but he fails.

The Black Sun fades, and the Emperor’s Light once again shines upon Xicarph.

With half the cell on the ground incapacitated, a person walks out from amongst a nearby group of people, clad in deep grey robes with their face obscured by a cowl. They are carrying a bolter in their right hand in a loose style that belays they are comfortable in combat. The strides stop a respectable distance away, when they raise their head and show their face.

“I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever see you guys again. Who’re the new faces?”

It is Attilus, the long lost Primus.

“Before we continue, I’d like to introduce you to someone who’s been very helpful to me in Xicarph.”, Attilus states, when from out of eyeshot to the side comes none other than the Spider Bride flanked by several of her ladies in waiting. She is dressed in a more casual gown than you saw her in the Twilight Gardens, but is still clad in the same mask. “I hear you’ve already met milady, though… “. A faint skittering sound can be heard from somewhere nearby. “I see things so clearly now, thanks to her. I was meant to find her, and Fate has brought us together. We shall never be parted.” Attilus turns to stare at you with cold eyes burning with desire. “Just give me what I want, and we can all part ways amicably.” One of the Spider Brides ladies appears to be carrying a hat box.

Reluctantly, the group hands over the face of the Widower, for they are in no shape to fight another foe. Revenge will have to wait.

On the way out the door in the Grand Hallway, Titus notices amongst the paintings one of a tall, thin man with brown hair and hazel eyes in a long black naval style coat with his right hand on the hilt of a blade. A stylized spider broach similar to the one found in the Red Cages is on his left collar. The painting is titled “Ezekiel, Moritat du Cote”

216.818.M41
The healing takes place over a few weeks back in a cheap rented place in the arena district, as it takes about 5 weeks before al’Subaai arrives to collect his lost cell.

Once aboard The Sabre, the acolytes are able to collect all their lost items, left behind when they were abducted. Inquisitor al’Subaai is there and gives a proud, almost boastingly pleased speech.

“You have survived, but I am not surprised. Each of you have each already survived where a legion of others have failed and fallen. Oruc Cortez, the sole survivor of the Malgrysian Reis’ cover up of his forbidden dig on the world of Avitohol. Protégé and prized student of a Magos bent on learning the forgotten secrets. Who knows what he is looking for. Do you? Scythia, you alone survived to reach this point from those in your fallen cell. I commend your fortitude to have come this far against odds stacked against you so. Dorn the Drusus Dragoon. How many others in your company survived the fighting deep in the underhives of Tranch, from the struggle with the mutants? None. Only you. Gallus Mordichotte. Do you remember the death of your parents? Do you remember how you alone survived? I have often wondered why did he leave YOU? Sur Trantor. Survivor of the family internecine fighting that is so common, and who knows what else. And last, but not at all least, my prized Acolyte Titus. Where all the others were found, products of their own circumstances, you alone I claim personal credit for. The hundreds of promising young candidates I gave to Claude and Julian to pare down. So you see, you are each and every one of you are a truly unique survivor and a paragon representations of the best there is in the Imperium of Man. Through your actions shall it be purified.”

(It dawns upons the players, if not their characters, that al’Subaai very well may be of an Istvaanian bent)

With a nod to the acolytes and a note that he must get back to the other ship and discuss some matters with Interrogator Rand, he informs the Acolytes that word has been received from Augustinius on Sinophia, and bids Titus to take his cell and go retrieve this wayward acolyte.

View
In the Estate of Gabriel Sophano

[See Audio File for Replay]

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Entering the Estate of Gabriel Sophano

[See Audio File for replay]

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XP Update: 2012.11.15

ARCHIVES OF NOTE:

  • Gaining Entry to the Estate of Gabriel Sophano: 700xp
  • Information Uncovered on the Widower: 100xp

CELL INFLUENCE RATING: 21

PRIMARY SUBJECT: TOTAL XTRACTIONS PROCESSED (XP) (+Change)

View
The Estate of Gabriel Sophano

ROUND 7 (continued):
Scythia runs past Wollsey towards the exit, insulting him for cowering under a table. Wollsey rolls his eyes at her.
[Bystanders are running in all directions. The crowd is scattering from the daemons outside]
[Cultists and Daemons surround the Shadowy mound of flesh and are swiping at it, but it doesn’t seem to be hurt]
Titus seems like he is about to slip on the blood from Cortez’ leg, but gracefully moves through it even though he failed the roll. He grabs Gallus and drags him back towards the Fates Wheel.

ROUND 8:
Wollsey loads his pistols.
Cortez lays on the ground and twitches.
The shadow creature reaches out with a clawed hand, picks up an incarnate daemon and rips in to shreds. Then backhands a cultist, sending him flying 6 meters, dead.
Scythia moves to the blood slick, trying to get to Cortez.
[Cultists and Daemons are attacking the shadow creature, summoning firebolts, swiping with blades]

ROUND 9:
Wollsey reloads another pistol.
[Another Daemon explodes, and two more cultists are evicerated. One of the cultists guts are used as a streamer thrown across the square.]
Scythia slips on the blood trying to get to Cortez.
[More attacks on the shadow creature, with no effect. Blades, Firebolts from warp sorcerers, daemon claws]
[Angus: “Or there’s another possibility, its Attilus]
Titus holds his action.

ROUND 10:
Wollsey finishes reloading his pistol.
Gallus wakes up. “In the emperor’s name, what happened to my arm?”
Cortez twitches.
[The shadow creature rips through two more cultists]
[Suddenly the cultists are confused and can’t seem to find the shadow creature]
Scythia belly crawls through the gore over to Cortez.
Titus is staying put.

ROUND 11:
Wollsey stays prone on the stairs peeking over towards the exit.
Gallus: “What the hell is going on out there? I sense sorcerers, daemons…”
Cortez twitches.
Scythia holds where she is by Cortez.
Titus drags Gallus through the blood, not needing an Agility check.

The fight at this point winds down. The nobles and patrons of the Fates Wheel scatter after seeing the fight with the cultists and daemons. Cortez regains consciouosness, “I need assistance…”.

Titus rifles through the pockets of the dead hirelings near the door, finding a dozen thrones.

As the acolytes move a short distance away and gather themselves together to plan their next move, they do not attract any extra attention. It seems that the Arena district is the perfect place to fit in with missing limbs.

[44m 50s: Angus: The day I dig a chip out of my pubes and eat it is going to be a sad, sad day.]

The group finds a small out of the way cut rate sawbones, who is crudely amputating mangled limbs. Gallus finds an out of the way place to regrow his lost limb. Once again the voice sing his praises in a hymn recognized by Scythia.

Gallus, Gallus, Gallus Imperius Dominus, Immortalis, Gallus

A shady character approaches the group. “So, I see you have some friends, need some help to get back in the fight, eh? …” there is a pause as he looks around the room skittishly, “… I have a leg. Is he missing the left or the right? Its a little beat up and used. I’ll tell ya what, 200 thrones and its yours, but I need it in cash and I need it now, and you have to install it yourself.”

Wollsey negotiates down to 75 thrones, then pays him 65 thrones.

[Leg is a Poor Quality Cybernetic Left Leg, attachment and recovery time is reduced from normal to 1 or 2 days]

Scythia manages to attach the leg, but it takes extra time, for a total of 2 days attachment, surgery and recovery time. During the recovery time, Cortez is doing as much sanctifying machine oil and incantations as he knows to his new leg.

TItus, Gallus and Wollsey wanders nearby into Xicarph heading towards the Twilight Gardens, still seeing an occasional Heron Mask amongst the crowd. Someone walking past whispers a rumor that someone was physically twisted into a pretzel.

Entering Twilight Gardens is like going into a twisted dreamlike forest of obscuring void shields, plants, statues, and walkways. You are led into the Spider Brides temple, through the open doorway into the large collidaded insides. The Spider Bride sits on her throne inbetween the four main pillers, slowly drumming her fingers on an Arachnid Servitor that looks back on you with the frozen face of Papa Grist staring back in a permanent silent scream.

The Spider Bride: “Welcome Back. I heard it all. Well done. You followed my instructions and carried them out. A bargain well struck.”
Wollsey: “I trust you agree we’ve kept up our end of the agreement?”
The Spider Bride: “Yes. Yes you have.”
Wollsey: “And in return…”
SB: “… I promised you information, and something you need. A ticket. The rest of you may enter as retinue. Each one of these is gold.”

She pulls out an item from some hidden container, its like this metallic kind of plate with a hologram on it showing the estate of Gabriel Sophono on it in etched writing. The whole thing is made of some precious material. You would not be able to build a fake of this very easily. It would be extremely difficult to forge.

SB: “Use it well.”
Wollsey: “Did you hear of all the events that happened at the Fate’s Wheel?”
SB: “I hear all the events that happen in Xicarph.”
Wollsey: “Can you tell us what the HELL that thing was!!”
SB: “I believe you know what that was.”
Wollsey: “The widower.”
SB: “Yes.”
Titus: “Why?”
SB: “I fear the Widower will serve no more. Spite has consumed him, and the key may be in his hand now to end his own sufferiing, and this world’s with it.”
Wollsey: “The blood of the Sophano line? The Widower is bound somehow to the Sophano bloodline?”
SB: “The blood may tame him, if it has the will. But to slay such a beast as he is is no small thing. No fire’s heat or blade’s cut will hurt him, as I’m sure you are aware of.”
Wollsey: “Or the daemon’s claw.”
SB: “Yes. But his heart … no not even the Daemon’s claw .. but his heart, plucked from its keeping place and shattered will also bring his living death to an end.”
Titus: “And this heart, do you know where it is kept?”

The Spider Bride gives a nondescript shrug of sorts that tells nothing.

Gallus: “How will it end its suffering?”
SB: “It will end his suffering.”
Gallus: “And the key?”
SB: “I think you are aware of that as well.”
Gallus: “Unfortunately.”
SB: “The blood controls it.”
Gallus: “The who controls it if the controller is no longer there?”
SB: “It will not be controlled, unless by someone that has an extreme will, and I fear you do not. You do not have the Will of The Sophano, for you are not the Master.”
Titus: “What of the cultists, why do they fight it? Why did they come out? Who are they, what role do they play in this game?”
SB: “They are all his servants.”
Titus: “Whose?”
SB: “I can see him, but only dimly. The one you seek. He hides from me for the ruinous gods walk in his wake. He carries the death of this world in his mind and he may succeed where others have failed before him.“
Gallus: “If he wishes the death of this world, and the Widower wishes the death of this world, why fight each other?”
SB: “That … I do not know.”
Titus: “What will happen in the Great Conjunction?”
SB: “I know much but I do not know all. The dark destiny of that bloody line lies upon you all whether you know it or not. I too am caught in its web.”
Wollsey: “You, you are a Sophano.”
SB: “Am I? Do you know that? Do you know that truly?”
Wollsey: “You bear the marking of their heraldry.”
SB: “Where?”
Wollsey: “All about you, the Spider Bride.”
SB: “Indeed. But is that proof? Can you show me this proof? Can you tell me? What do you know of me?”
Titus: “Is it necessary?”
Wollsey: “We only have suspicions.”
SB: “Suspicions are not proof.”
Wollsey: “You arrived here only recently?”
SB: “I have been here for as long as I can remember.”
Wollsey: “So why have you decided to take over only now?”
SB: “I have always been in control.”
Wollsey: “Papa Grist thought differently, though clearly he was a fool.”
SB: “He was. He had his time, the fool. Believed he had more power than was his.”
Wollsey: “Always a dangerous position to be in.”
SB: “I am a servant of the Sophanos. All of us live in dread of the Traveller’s return. I serve.”
Wollsey: “And is there anything else you can tell us to help prevent that from happening?”
SB: “I believe that the Widower’s power is somehow bound up with the Steel Clock.”
Wollsey: “The Steel Clock? The one that marks the passage of the Grand Conjunction?”
SB: “Yes.”
Wollsey: “Do you know where it is?”
SB: “He may be vulnerable during the Revel of Darkness. Vulnerable enough to be controled by a Sophano, or bested by sufficient force.”
Gallus: “Who is this Traveller?”
SB: “The Traveller. The Sophano.”
Titus, Wollsey, Gallus: “Erasmus.”
SB: “Do you have any further questions?”
Titus: “How does one leave this planet?”
SB: “Now?”
Titus: “Ever.”
SB: “Through the spaceport in the Hub at the top of crystal dome. One ascends to the Hub via the cars on the spines.”
Titus: “What about communication offworld? Astropaths.”
SB: “Certainly. If you have them in your retinue or you can afford them. They’re probably quite busy now. The time before the Revel is always the busiest. Likely it might be weeks before your message is even sent out. No telling how long it would even take to get a response. And by law noone leave during the Grand Conjunction until after the Festival of Tattered Fates.”
Titus: “That is not my wish.”
SB: “On pain of the Orbital Defenses.”
Titus: “What do you want of us?”
SB: “I have already received what I want.”
Titus: “Then you would see this world burn?”
SB: “My fate is tied with it. Here I am. I serve. I care not for the survival or death of this world.”
Titus: “So be it.”
Wollsey: “I can’t say I’m real concerned with the survival of this world either, quite honestly.”
Scythia: “As long as we get off it first.”
Titus: “We seem to be in short supply of retinue.”
SB: “Well then you should get some.”
Titus: “Would you be willing …”
SB: (irritated) “No. You have your ticket. You have your information.”
Wollsey: “Pleasure doing business with you.”
SB: “Indeed. My girls will escort you out.”

[1h 14m 45s: Player discussion about what was learned during the conversation]

[119 thrones minus 65 plus 32 equals 86 thrones available to the group minus two nights staying somewhere at 10 thrones each leaves 66 thones]

[Wollsey buys 80 rounds of regular ammo for 4 thrones, 62 remain]

Summary of Items as I understand it:

Titus: Mono sword
Cortez: Nothing? Never used a weapon he didn’t have on him.
Gallus: Nothing? Only used Psyker powers.
Scythia: Chainsword
Wollsey: Two autopistols and a Hand Cannon.

The group gathers back together by Cortez with Dorn and Gallia. Strangely enough, Gallia is now decked out in fine robes that she fits nicely in, has a nice gilded mask with jewels in it, and has other finery as well. Dorn is as he was with his Carapace armor, but he’s cleaned up a bit.

Wollsey: (annoyed voice looking at the expensively dressed Gallia) “Where have you guys been?”
Gallia: “I went to places and equipped myself.”
Wollsey: (annoyed) “We’re busting our balls out here, scraping for thrones, Cortez got his leg cut off and has that piece of shit, saved your life multiple times, you’re holding out on us!”
Gallia: “I only have so much credit that House Krin will extend to me and I’ve used it all.”
Wollsey: “Great.”
Scythia: (sarcastic) “Nice. Dress.”
Titus: (angry) “Give us the mask.”
Gallia: “No!”
Titus: (angrier) “We SAVED YOUR LIFE!”
Gallia: “So did I! Who was spotting the people that were going to shoot you from behind!”
Titus: “I don’t care!”
Gallia: “I don’t know you!”
Titus: “Who dragged your sorry little butt across that bridge so it didn’t get picked apart by the Tyranids!”
(Angus as Dorn) “Whatever man. Its fine. I got what I want.”
Gallus: “There’s nothing else you can do for us?”
Gallia: “House Krin will only extend so much credit to me based on that Adept I happen to know. I was able to buy these cheap rags, but that’s all I have.”
Wollsey: “You know that drunken dork?”
Gallia: “I know him from Scintilla.”
Wollsey: “And he extended you a bunch of credit?”
Gallia: “He knows me.”
Wollsey: “I was nice to that guy.”
Gallia: “I’m a Mordicort from Scintilla!”

Gallia whips out a pair of power blades from the folds in her poofy dress.

Gallia: “Did you ever think that I didn’t NEED protecting?”

Titus’ eyes light up…

Gallia: “Did you give me any protection? Did you give me any of the gear? I tried to get something to protect myself, and I had nothing. I HAD to go along with you. And YOU, who says that you’re Gallus … I don’t know how you found out about my relatives, but…”

Titus draws his swords
Titus: “Step. Away. You don’t frighten me.”

Gallia: “Neither do you me.”
Gallus: “So you don’t think I’m Gallus?”
Gallia: “You CAN’T be Gallus!”
Gallus: “Why?”
Gallia: “He was taken away by the Black Ships a hundred years ago. The Macabeus Quintus branch of the family was all killed by Erasmus!”
Gallus: “He missed one.”
Cortez: “Perhaps a demonstration is in order.”
Gallia: “You’re too young and you don’t show signs of juvenat treatment. I don’t know where you were.”
Titus: “Don’t you think it could have been the Warp?”
Gallia: “It could have been. He doesn’t claim to have.”
Titus: “He was on the Black Ships! He’s a Sanctioned Psyker of the Holy Emperor!”
Gallia: “What proof do I have of his lineage. I was taken prisoner, and you could have been plants. Why should I trust you?”
Scythia: “My lady, there are creatures wandering this city…”
Gallia: “I’ve seen them in the belly of this city.”
Scythia: “Well, apparanetly you are confident you can protect yourself, so, go forth and protect yourself. Be gone.”
Gallus: “Gallia …”
Wollsey: “There’s a creature in this city, we watched it squeeze the head off a Daemon. We saw dozens of chaos cultists killed by it.”
Scythia: “The Widower seeks your blood…”
Wollsey: “Feel free to wander off into the ciity. Tah tah!”
Gallus: “Stay with us … you may not believe that I’m Gallus now, but …”
Gallia: “Why don’t we just leave, we can go up the spaceport and I will pay for transport and we will leave this planet.”
Gallus: “Unfortunately, if I understand this correctly we can’t leave this planet right now. No one can because the Conjunction has started. What can we do to convince you to stay with us?”
Gallia: “I will stay with you. I don’t trust you, but neither do I trust anyone else in this emperor forsaken city.”
Titus: “The next time you threaten one of us will be the last time you threaten anybody. Have that known. Do you understand? Your blood or mine will be on the floor the next time you threaten one of us. Are you clear?”
Gallia: (infuriated) “If you know to whom you spoke…”
Titus: “I care not. I serve the emperor. Who you are means nothing to me compared to him. Do not draw them on anyone here or else your blood will be spilled. I will grant you the Emperor’s peace. Do you understand?”
Gallia: “Do not threaten a Mordicort.”
Titus: “Do not threaten a Moritat.”
Gallus: “Don’t worry, he does that all the time.”
Titus: “Agree or leave.”
Gallia: “Who do you think brought your order to this Sector?”
Titus: “I don’t care. It matters not.”
Gallus: “Did we?” (Gallia doesn’t answer)
Titus: “You mean nothing to me. Only the Emperor matter. Draw your blades against anyone here and you will perish. If you cannot agree to this, then you will leave. I’m waiting.”
(tense pause)
Gallia: “Alright then. Fare thee well. See you around. Tah Tah.”

Gallia walks off into Xicarph. Obviously she was not going to back down to somebody beneath her in social standing.

[Angus: That’s going to come back and bite us.]

Dorn goes off about how great Xicarph is when you have money to spend.

View
Meet the Monster

A shout is heard coming from Papa Grist’s office

“What the F*** kill these m************! They just killed Papa Grist!”

Crackmarrow is wearing flak armor and is also carrying a two-handed Warhammer. Wollsey and Scythia have their weapons drawn before the fight begins.

SURPRISE ROUND:
Wollsey [using two automatic pistols] shoots Crackmarrow on Full Auto, 3 rounds hit.
Arachnid Servitor moves towards the exit.
Scythia [with Chainsword] moves to attack Crackmarrow, hitting him and finishing him off.
Titus [with blade] slices up someone [target obscured by crowing over Crackmarrow’s death].

ROUND 1:
Wollsey drops another target in Papa Grist’s office with 8 hits.
Gallus attacks Bliss with Bio Lightning, heavily wounding him.
Cortez attacks Bliss with a Luminen Blast, finishing him off.
Arachnid Servitor skitters quickly across the floor.
Scythia runs out of the office towards a guard, singing a Hymn to the Emperor, albeit poorly.
[moving by patrons and guests in the Fates Wheel]
Titus calmly speaks into his microbead: “Where are we going? Are we leaving?”
Cortez: “I believe we should be going.”
Titus: “Let’s go Wollsey.”
Scythia: “Shouldn’t we be raiding his office? Grab a dataslate or something?”
[Papa Grist’s office is decorated with shunken heads, grisly charms, animal skin trophies on the wall, and other macabre items. Titus searches Pap Grist and takes 21 thrones and 3 doses of something in an injector, and a Hand Cannon with ammo.]

ROUND 2:
Wollsey reloads his autopistols.
[Some of the people near the bar look at each other, then point at Gallus]
Patron: “Hey, he just killed Bliss! Psyker! Psyker!”
Titus: “Oh, God Emperor, here we go.”
[There is a discussion about the radius of Gallus’ firestorm and the ramifications of killing everyone in the Fates Wheel]
Gallus runs up to the door that is the exit to the Fates Wheel, where a Heavy and a Cyber Gladiator are guarding the exit.
Cyber Gladiator attacks Gallus with his chainblade arms, but misses.
Killer engaged with Scythia draws a Hand Cannon
Cortez moves to the door and engages the Cyber Gladiator near Gallus
Patrons are running up the stairs towards their room. [GM notes that there is nothing up the stairs for PCs to see. Maybe Dorn can come down the stairs, but there is no upstairs.]
Another Killer draws his Hand Cannon. [More things happen with NPCs on the map]
Arachnid Servitor skitters up to Gallus and Cortez.
Gallus: “What the hell is that?!”
Heavy near the exit draws his chainsword
Scythia swift attacks the Killer hear her, tearing him in two in brutal Furious fashion.
Cyber Gladiator misses Gallus.
Patron: “They’re killing everyone! They’re killing them all!”
Titus runs to the middle of the arena, leaping down stairs towards the door from Papa Grist’s office.
Sentinal draws his shock lance and walks towards Cortez

ROUND 3:
Wollsey runs out of the office towards the door, following Titus.
Gallus barges through the doorway through the exit to the outside. [Gallus succeeds on a Willpower check and sees … something]
Cyber Gladiator misses Cortez.
Cortez grabs the arm of the Cyber Gladiator, hitting him with a Luminen Shock attack. [The Gladiator fails a Fear 4 check] The will drains out of the Gladiator’s eyes, and he stops fighting to prevent Cortez leaving through the door. “Why am I even fighting you? What’s the point.”
Cyber Gladiator charges Wollsey, but misses with his attack.
Shadow creature, semi shapeless stares at Gallus and whispers … “Sophano…” then moves forward to engage him.
Killer shoots at Scythia with a Hand Cannon and misses.
[Other NPCs are taking actions]
Arachnid Servitor exits the building.
Heavy with a chainsword attacks Cortez and hits him in the left leg.
Another Killer, previously missed in the turn order, shoots at Scythia and misses.
Scythia moves and hits the newly activated Killer in the body, heavily wounding him.
[Many NPCs move, mostly Sentinals and Patrons]
Cyber Gladiator moves to attack Gallus from behind, but misses.
Titus attacks and kills a Sentinel that moved to engage him.
Cortez is missed by a Sentinel with his Shock Lance.

ROUND 4:
Wollsey wounds [undetermind someone]
Gallus looks at the shapeless mass in front of him, which has beaks, claws and pincers coming out of it, shifting its shape as it walks towards him. Gallus succeeds on a Fear Check, then creates a Wall of Fire through the Shadow creature, the Cyber Gladiator engaging him and some others. [The Gladiator that Cortez shocked doesn’t even try to get out of the Wall of Fire, the rest take 9 points of fire damage ignoring armor. The Shadow Creature doesn’t even attempt to get out of the way]
Cortez makes a Willpower check and is able to see the Shadow Creature, ignores a fear check due to Fearless, then fails on his Bloodlust check he forgot earlier.
Cortez: “[indecipherable binary cant chatter]”
Cortez murders the Gladiator that has lost the will to live, drilling into his skull with a monoknife mechandendrite.
[More NPCs move, attempting to get their Nobles out of the Fate’s Wheel]
Wollsey is missed
The Shadow Creature attacks Gallus, which is dodged, but the second attack with an arm pincer that appears out of the mound of flesh [22 damage]. After dropping Gallus from the attack, it squeezes the arm [30 damage] chopping it off, catching the severed arm in mid air and whispering … “Sophano…” [Gallus burns a Fate Point]
Scythia is missed by a Hand Cannon shot.
Wollsey dodges one shot, then is hit by another coming from some Nobles on the edges.
Arachnid Servitor exits the map.
Heavy attacks Cortez with a chainsword and misses.
Titus is missed by a Hand Cannon shot.
Scythia misses with a Chainsword attack.
Titus is missed by another Hand Cannon shot
Titus is missed by a laspistol shot
Titus is missed by another laspistol shot from a Noble
Cybergladiator runs up to Cortez and misses
Titus unleashes his fury on the heavy near Wollsey, killing him.
Sentinal attacks Cortez and misses
Another Sentinal shoots and misses.

ROUND 5:
Wollsey moves a long distance.
[Sentinals glare threateningly at Titus]
Cortez hits a Cyber Gladiator with his mechandendrites, and rips him apart [31 damage from 2 Emperor’s Furies]
The Shapeless mound of flesh looks towards Cortez … “You seeeeee me….” and moves towards him to attack, but Cortez dodged its attack.
Killer shoots Scythia with a Hand Cannon, hitting her in the body.
Sentinal shoots at Titus, but he dodges.
Killer misses Cortez, hitting the shapeless creature doing no noticable damage.
Cortez is attacked by a Heavy with a chainsword in the body [11 Pen 2]
Cortez is hit by a Hand Cannon [11 Pen 2]

Angus: “When the GM gives you fates points in advance, he just takes them away.”
GM: “You’re going to neeeed ‘em. Here’s some Fate Points in Advance! NOOOOOOOOOO! I don’t want your Free Fate Points!”
Mike: “I don’t want ‘em!”
Scythia finally kills the Killer standing by her, decapitating him.
Titus is hit by a Nobleman’s laspistol in the head [11 E].
Titus moves towards the exit of the Fates Wheel.
Sential misses Cortez.
Killer misses Cortez.

ROUND 6:
Wollsey switches weapons to a Hand Cannon.
Cortez: “Caution, there is a Spawn of the Warp at the exit of the Fates Wheel. Gallus is down. Proceed with caution. My cogitators estimate my life expectancy at 3.5 seconds.” He then grabs the shapeless mound of flesh and hits it, to which is responds, “Your weapons cannot hurt me”
Shapeless mound of flesh attacks Cortez, he dodges one attack, but is hit with the second attack which severs his leg at the hip. Blood spurts out from around Cortez, causing a 12m diameter slick.
Scythia is missed by a Hand Cannon.
[Confusion amongst those who were attacking Cortez] “Did you do that with your Chainsword?” “I don’t think so, did you do that?”
Nobleman hits Scythia with his laspistol, “Ha ha! Ha ha! I hit her too! Moving targets!”
Titus moves out the exit of the Fates Wheel, then makes his Willpower check to see the Shadow creature.
Mike: “No! If only I hadn’t raised by Willpower!”
Titus makes his Fear check,,
Killer looks at Titus and says, “Another one! He’s trying to escape!” and misses Titus with a hand canon.

ROUND 7:
Wollsey gets under a solid table.
The shadow creature whispers “Sophano” and moves off towards an intersection away from the Fates Wheel.
Scythia dodges a hand cannon.
Scythia moves around the gladiator pit towards the door, seeing Wollsey underneath a table.

At this point there is a crowd of people in the street that has started to gather, watching the commotion. From two buildings beyond, small groups of people in robes covered with blood move through the crowd, they are all wearing Heron masks. They are moving directly towards the shapeless mound of flesh. From out of a nearby window, shattering shards fly into the street as a Daemon leaps down. The crowd screams, panics and flees in all directions.[Mike: “What the good fuck!?”] More daemons appear from alleys and other windows as the chanting of foul words fills the air. The Heron masked Pilgrims of Hayte take out their sick blades and charge the shadow creature.
[Brian: “What the fuuuuuck?!?!?!]
[Mike: (talking about Gallus) “I don’t know the guy on the other end of that, I have never met him in my life.”]
[Ando: “Holy shit Mark, that’s fucking awesome.” ]
[Mike: “I… I’m afraid.”]
[Brian: “This planet needs to fucking buuurn.”]
[Mike: “We are so deep in over our heads its not even funny.”]

The daemons are working with the Heron Masked men moving towards the shadow creature together.

[Angus: “Wow, that thing must be extremely badass if they need multiple daemons to go after it.”]
[Mike: “Everybody want a pound of your flesh, Mark”]
[Angus: “That thing is not with the Pilgrims of Hayte so…. Is that thing the Widower?”]
[Brian: “The fleshy thing?]
[Angus: “yeah. What do we know about it. Its some assassin thing of the Sophanos. I don’t know why it would want blood of Sophano though.”]

View
The Twilight Gardens

Information Gathering in the Refutation

Scythia is healed by the infernal warp power of the Biomancer/Pyrokine Gallus, saved from her near death experience. She awakes from her burns hearing beautiful hymns to the Emperor of Mankind …

Gallus. Dominatus. Gallus. Gallus Dominatus.

Only wait. They’re not. They’re to Gallus himself. The light blue hue of power covers her skin as it knits itself back together almost completely, leaving only light burn scars behind.

The acolytes share information on what Septimus Dexter, The White Scholar, told them before he was killed.

The Pilgrims of Hayte.
The Grand Conjunction.
The Festival of Tattered Fates.
The period of darkness where Quaddis is moved beyond the emperor’s light.
The involvement of the Widower.
And his last words, about the Spider Bride.

Librarium Servitors enter the room to begin cleaning up the mess, and are ordered by Cortez to begin searching for volumes on the Widower or the Spider Bride as part of their research.

Scythia remembers some Legends around the Angevin Crusade, the time of Soloman and Faustino Sophano, and the Widower, who was a monster of darkness, an assassin of unparalleled skill, that no weapon could harm and no lock could bar entry.

The servitors return with a few noteworthy volumes on the History of Xicarph. In some of the earliest tales, the Widower is mentioned in the earliest tales as an enforcer who keeps the game of power as the struggle for dominance in the new imperial realm carved from the Calyx Expanse is forged into the Calixis Sector from spilling into Xicarph.

There is nothing regarding the Spider Bride.

All pages containing anything that might be related to the most recent Sophano bloodlines have been ripped out of the geneaology book. Anything that might say how many people survived Erasmus’ eradication is gone.

There is a record of Gabriel Sophano and his estate, nephew of Faustino, the first one that was given power over Xicarph. At the center of his estate is a masterpiece grand Steel Clock.

The acolytes debate what to do next, search for the Heron Mask? … search for more cultists? Seek out the Spider Bride, both due to Dexter’s last words, and the contract from Papa Grist?

They leave to try and find the Spider Bride in the Pleasure Gardens.

Meeting the Spider Bride in the Twilight Gardens

The warband of acolytes makes their way through a district with some rich stores and many well to do estates until they find an avenue that seems to head in the direction they want to go.

The estates end and a section of marble domed pavilions and courtyards change into botanical gardens where many courtesans offer many rare pleasures. They take what you can only assume are their customers up the steps into a hazy area to the end of your vision.

Some of them come up to the party, with exquisitely made clothes and the angular faces common to Calixian nobility. They speak to you in perfect Scintillan High Gothic:

Courtesan: “Welcome to the Twilight Gardens. Can I help you?”
Wollsey: I’m sorry ladies. You can’t afford me.
Courtesan: Oh I’m sure it’s quite the opposite. What can I do for you?
Wollsey: We’re just … browsing around.
Courtesan: … Browsing … in the Twilight Gardens.
Scythia: Do you sell advice, or just y our bodies?
Courtesan: If its advice that you seek, I can take you to the one who sells it.

The courtesan near Wollsey begins to get a little “friendly”, but just a tease.

Wollsey: Who is this one who offers advice?
Courtesan: Do I need to speak her name?
Scythia: You are just at the edge of her little web, aren’t you?
Courtesan: Yes, I am.

Titus mutters something about this being a trap under his breath.

Courtesan: The Spider Bride accepts an audience with all comers, and if you can meet her price, then she shall give you what you seek.
Wollsey: And if we can’t?
Courtesan: Then you will be escorted out the way you entered.
Gallus: Probably unceremoniously.
Courtesan: Why on Quaddis would we do that? That depends upon what you seek.

Gallus inquires about the price of the courtesan herself, but when he says that she has nothing to offer, she offers that perhaps arrangements can be made with the Spider Bride.

Titus is nervous. He watches the nobles escorted up the stairs by the courtesans, where they pass though a void shield into a beyond area where anything could be taking place. Other nobles emerge from the shield and walk back down the stairway into the streets of Xicarph. Courtesans seems to come and go up and down the stairs at will.

While Gallus, Scythia and Wollsey chat up their courtesan, Titus falls in behind one of the small parties going up the stairs and passes through the void sheild. Inside the constant light from above is dimmed into a dull twilight by the shielding. Silk pavillions and grottos, many surrounded by their own partial or full void shielding are in every direction. Before he realizes it, another courtesan has his arm and is escorting him. He quickly comes to the understanding that it would be very easy to lose ones sense of direction within this odd shifting area if unescorted. Titus rebuffs the courtesan on his arm.

Courtesan: Don’t worry. I am tasked with taking you to the Spider Bride. Are your friends going to come along too?

The rest of the warband does end up following along.

Gallus: C’mon Scythia. Join us.
Scythia: I feel plenty out of place, but alright.

[GM: C’mon Maptool, you piece of shit.]
[Angus: I can see we’re going to have a lot of fun making fun of Scythia.]
[Brian: Poor Scythia. ]
[Angus: Well, she is this haggard old nun. ]
[Brian: Way over her head. ]
[Angus: You know what happens to people in over their head. They burn fate points.]
[Brian: Ding Ding Ding. I got fireballed and tried to dodge out of the way but didnt’ dodge far enough. I drew a weapon and did an invocation, and I parried, and I dodged, and I was dead.]
[Ando: -chuckles-]
[Eric: One fireball and a few fire bolts.]
[Player conversation continues]

The courtesans disappear back into the forest as the warband finds themselves in a large structure that must sit within the Twilight Gardens, but can’t be seen from the outside. The inside is filled with columns, and is entirely dark. At the center of the structure, bathed in torchlight, is a woman in ornate red and black silk expensive clothing. She has a mask over her face that covers everything but her mouth that is made of silver and jewels. Her black hair comes out from behind the masquerade mask.

Many courtesans hover near the edge of the torchlight within the building.

Spider Bride: Welcome travellers.
Gallus: I understand you answer questions. Is this soothsaying?
Spider Bride: I know many things.
Gallus: So how does this work.
Spider Bride: The way it works is either you pay me or you do things for me.
Wollsey: What sort of things?
Spider Bride: FIrst, I will ask a question and you will tell me the answer. Why did Papa Grist send you here?"
Wollsey: To kill you obviously.
Spider Bride: I expected as much.
Gallus: (quickly interjects) That’s not the real reason we came.

[Brian: I’m just thinking to myself, I coulda been that dumbass. I’m trying to bite my toungue lest I say anything and you just come out and say it! I’m so confused about how to be an Acolyte! Aaaargh!!!!!]

Gallus: Do we only get one question?
Spider Bride: Oh, I’m not going to answer anything for you yet. I already knew that. I just wanted to see how you would answer. Why are you here then? Why have you come? Tell me, shall we get on with it?
Gallus: No. We’re here for questions and answers. We want to know why a criminal would want you dead.
Spider Bride: I’ve been … “interrupting” … his business. He’s not from Xicarph. He needs to go.
Gallus: I see.
Wollsey: We have many questions.
Gallus: How much do answers cost?
Spider Bride: For you? Answers come with deeds.
Gallus (looking around at the warband) … all of us?
Spider Bride: The time has come for a choice. Papa Grist, or me. Who will it be? Either way you will make an enemy. You need to make a choice.
Cortez: Why would we choose you over Papa Grist?
Spider Bride: I don’t know. Either you kill me or you do what I say.
Titus: There are other choices that that.
Gallus: We could leave.
Spider Bride: You could. But Papa Grist won’t wait forever. You’ll have to come back here either eventually. I’m not the only one who’s been keeping an eye on you. He will come for you, eventually.

Titus, Cortez, and Wollsey examine and count the women hovering at the edge of the torchlight. They are all obviously noblewomen, wearing scanty scandalous tight fitting clothing, and unarmed. There’s no obvious place for them to hide weaponry.

In warband cant
Gallus: I would ask questions.
Cortez: We’ll get no answers.
Gallus: Are you sure?
Cortez: If you wish to ask, go ahead, but you are only delaying the inevitable. She is correct, we will eventually have kill either her or Papa Grist.
Wollsey: I’m more concerned with her than Papa Grist.
Cortez: The question is, kill which one gets us closer to our mission?

Titus asks Gallus to ask if she knows a way into the Sophano Palace, Gabriel Sophano.

Gallus: Do you know a way into Gabriel Sophano?
Spider Bride: Yes.
*Titus: Can you provide it to us?
Spider Bride: Yes. I have tickets to get into the palace for the Revel of Darkness.
Titus: What must we do to obtain these tickets?
Spider Bride: You must do something I want. I tire with the stuggle with Papa Grist. It bores me. I want it to be done, so I think I may give him a gift, to end things on the right note so he won’t have a problem leaving anymore.

She reaches from behind her throne and pulls out a hat box out and set it in front of her.

[Brian: Filled with spiders!]

Spider Bride: Deliver him this gift.
Wollsey: And in exchange you will answer our questions?
Spider Bride: I will answer questions and provide you with the tickets.
Titus: And if we asked Papa Grist for tickets in exchange for your head in a box, could he provide them for us?
Spider Bride: He’s a man of resources. I’m sure he has likely acquired some of his own. The choice is yours.

There is a tense silence.

Wollsey: Agreed. We’ll deliver your package.
Spider Bride: I’ll be watching.

[GM: Okay who takes the hat box?]
[Brian: I’m not touching anything you fucking lay out!!]
[Angus: I’ll take the hat box.]
[Brian: Let it be known, sister Scythia picks up no objects…]
[laughing]

The Spider Bride’s courtesans escort the warband to the edge of the gardens.

Gallus scans the hat box for signs of psychic activity, but everything is entirely normal. The warband talks about their next move, with some of the newcomers wonder if walking up to the person is a typical Inquisition tactic. As the group emerges from the last void shield, they notice a “garland” has been strung amonst the marble domes and poles of the lower Twilight Gardens where they first met the courtesans.

Tracing it back to its source, there is a man, bent over backwards in half, stuck into a spike at the top of one of the buildings, and his intestines have been used to decorate the gardens. One of the passersby mutters “The Widower’s Work!” and quickly goes about their business…

Titus watches out for people following the group as they make their way back to Papa Grist’s, and notices a Heron Mask among the crowd, never close, but never far. The warband gets back to The Fates Wheel without further incident.

Gallus and Cortez stay outside, while Titus, Wollsey and Scythia take off their armor and deliver the silver hat box to Papa Grist in his office.

Wollsey: We’ve brought you her head.
Papa Grist: Oh, joyous day, with her out the way this glorious city and all its wonders will be mine! That bitch and the new guy she has working for her has screwed me over so bad … I’m going to have my men hunt down that monster next, wherever he is.

Wollsey and Scythia slowly back up as Papa Grist takes the lid off the silver hat box, beginning to draw their weapons.

As soon as the lid comes off, an eight legged spidery robot pops out of the hat box, launches itself at Papa Grist, clamps down its thorax over his head, when it quickly closes cutting off his head with a loud clang, so that its now a spider body with Papa Grists face coming right out of the metal. His body drops do the ground instantly.

Crackmarrow (alarmed) What the fuck!?!?!? Kill these muther fuckers, they just offed Papa Grist!

(more to be transcribed)

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The Heron Mask cometh

At this point the door to the reading room burst open, and it becomes painfully clear that Titus hasn’t gone back to his watchful post outside the door. Several men in Heron Masks enter, a crumpled librarium servitor falling before them.

“Sorry for my Master’s little jest, but it’s time for the pawn on the Regicide board to be removed. Be good, give him to us and go back to the dance, little pawns!”

The Heron Masks are removed, revealing faces and skins covered with hideous symbols carved into the flesh of their faces. Fighting starts almost immediately.

Titus charges, then dodges the feeble attacks from razor blades.

A Witch with the cultists takes control of his body with “Dominate” spell as another one unleashes a Firestorm that almost kills Septimus Dexter. Wollsey guns down a cultist with a razor blade by unleashing full auto upon him. Cortez is surrounded by 3 cultists and a Dominated Titus as Scythia is charred by bolts of fire from the Pyrokine witch. Wollsey unleashes more full auto upon the witches, killing them and releasing Titus from his spell. He goes into a Holy Rage, butchering cultists around him. The last two cultists manage to get to Dexter and kill him before finally falling themselves.

Titus evicerates the witch that dominated him, and scatters the gore of his corpse in a wide area around the fallen body.

As Septimus Dexter lies dying, he manages a few last words …

“The Spider Bride … "

But unfortunately expires before the last piece of wisdom is able to part his lips.

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The White Scholar

The group decides to start searching in the Blackstone Xenaum , which turns out to be a Museum of sorts, dedicated to showing artifacts “highlighting the uncleanliness and wickedness” of xenos civilizations exterminated during the Angevin Crusade.

Someone there mentions that they think they saw an elderly scholar dressed in white in the Chancel Athenaum.

The group manages to find this scholar, and gives him the pass phrase given to them by Karkalla before he died. He takes them to a back reading room where knowledge can be shared in private. Titus keeps watch as the discussion starts, but them Septimus Dexter asks for him to be brought into the room so that each and every one of the people can officially record the oaths they took to Karkalla.

After the records are made, carried off to some unknown destination by Servo Skulls, the White Scholar shares what he knows.

The Beast House is nothing but an unwitting pawn in whatever is going on.

He suspects, but can not prove, that the Pilgrims of Hayte are involved in what’s going on. Scythia shares that the Pilgrims are a Violent and Spiteful Chaos Cult that was infamously associated with an attrocity on Malfi some time ago.

The myth of the Widower is somehow involved. The Widower, as it turns out, is rumored to be an assassin of unparalelled ability, linked to the Sophano blood line.

How are the Sophanos involved on this planet? They used to be its rulers.

What is going on? This is the Grand Conjunction, an eclipse of the sun that happens at an irregular interval every 50 to 60 years. The Festival of Tattered Fates celebrates this, culminating in the Revel of Darkness mentioned by Master Nonesuch. At this time of the eclipse of the Sun all astropathic communication is cut off and the planet “moves beyond the Light of the Emperor” for a couple to a few minutes. At this time, anything at all is considered fair game, although family vendetta and offworld Imperial Authorities might beg to differ at a later date.

The White Scholar offers to do some further research on some things when …

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Another Ziggurat!

The rest of the journey to the Refutation district is tense. Titus keeps a careful eye on the surroundings, being especially mindful for potential followers. He is now extremely worried about the presence of the Maggot Men on the planet. What he sees instead are a couple brief glimpses of a man in a Heron Mask peering at them and following them at a distance.

Before getting to the Refutation, the glimpses cease. Some information on the Maggot Men is shard with Wollsey and Scythia, who is very interested in its implications with the scrawled messages from her father, “The Worms that Walk Will Come For Us All”

A few noteworthy structures stand apart from the others amongst the colleges and cathedral like data vaults in the district.

The Bibliotheca Antiquita is a tall round building with columns inset into the external superstructure. The silver dome on top is of the highest craftsmanship but dull with tarnish, matching in disrepair the dirt and grime visible on the masonry of the rest of the rotunda.

The front of the Blackstone Xenaeum is dominated visually by a broad flight of steps constructed from black marble identical to that of the two story portico of the main structure. A graceful low dome covers the central mass, while flanking it to either side are two circular one story wings. The entire building is created from the same black marble as the front steps.

The Chancel Athenaeum is a series of ten white marble halls connected in the middle by a large covered colonnade.

Lastly, in a central location is a drab, grey ziggurat of the Locus Prefecta, devoid of activity and life, as depressing to look at from the outside as those that continue on an endless mission of nothingness on the inside.

Scythia enters the Ziggurat, hoping to investigate it as she has others in her quest for knowledge about her fathers mad writings. Inside are many empty disused offices and a few very drunken Adepts. Tasked with cataloging and analyzing the development of the Colonies on the planet of Xicarph in preparation for its offical entrace into the Imperium of Man, they end up with nothing to do. The nothingness has driven the Adepts mad, for there are no colonies, no industry, nothing that the fief owners don’t want, and so the meaningless reports are all the same. No new developments. Nothing to report.

The Locus Prefecta, Alswin Du’Landra, considers the continued funding of the position a sick joke, and in his case his assignment to the post a punishment for daring to share analysis that the ammount of men, material and industry poured into the Margin Crusade has extreme abnormalities in the sheer lack of any evidence of successes, or any returning reports of any nature. He gives them a bottle to drink, and carries on with what he was doing.

The Adpet also shares this tidbit of knowledge, it is now 172.818.M41, some 170 days after the acolytes were captured.

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