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Dark Heresy: The Oremor Affliction IC

Game Master Rookseye

On the agri-world of Oremor, at the very fringes of the Malfian sub-sector, acolytes of the Inquisition and their allies must confront a sinister conspiracy that threatens to shake the very foundations of the Calixis sector.


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Arbite Investigator
Ahmazzi wrote:

The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Wardja can't help it... Memories of Baraspine return to his mind, unbidden... mocking faces of all those he has sent to their deaths...

The job. You try to keep it from affecting you but sometimes you see too much... The corruption. The rot. The desecration. 'Changeling! Changeling!' I reach out a hand and steady myself with the arena railing in front of me. Do the job. Just do the job.

I glance to check that my two bodyguards seem okay, light a lho, and continue surveillance.


Somewhere Dark

I step forward keeping a wary eye on the others. As I pass through the doorway, I see take in the broader view of the area as it is revealed to me.


Somewhere Dark

Stepping forward into the larger chamber, Kaltos realizes it is a confluence of sorts, ringed by nine doors similar to the one he steps through, only two of them open other than his own.

In front of one of these doors, just outside a cell identical to his own, crouch the two figures. One rises almost immediately upon sensing his presence, a chainsword blazing to life in his hand, shattering the stillness and echoing through the larger space with a strident peal of machinery.

The second figure, still crouching, holds up on hand as if to forestall his companion, and after the blade is silenced, he rises and a burst of binary chatter reaches the Disciple of Sollex's auditory inputs as the slighter figure regains to his feet.

<'The Machine God be praised, is that you Kaltos Havelock?'>

Ivaanov's greeting is uncertain, and halting, but as the techpriest moves into the diffuse actinic light, Kaltos' relief is palpable. Walking behind him is the guardsman, the communication officer, Private Kotts.


Savalos Thul wrote:
Do I recognize the 9th player? By the distance it can be any Old Man with a white beard... I am looking at how he handles the cards, and the cards themselves. Is it "His" deck, or a house deck he is shuffling?

Sav, please attempt a Challenging [+0] Scrutiny skill test (sorry to keep hammering you with this one when you don't have it).


Male Human Outlaw

Scrutiny Roll (1d100=18)

Its okay. Figure once I get the skill you won't have me roll it anymore Lol.


Scrutiny test exactly successful, Savalos.

Balfic:
Don't worry Bal, Scrutiny tests will come up plenty more times, acolytes of the Inquisition such as yourselves can benefit greatly from reading people and situations, it will remain a frequent occurrence.

Savalos:
Savalos refocuses his attention on the newcomer, the potential ninth player that somehow slipped in during the distraction brought on by Rico's unexpected arrival. Even from this distance, he is certain it is not the Old Man, and, oddly, this confirmation gives him some measure of relief for some reason that he cannot quite rationalize.

No, although the stranger appears aged and wizened, he is unfamiliar to the acolyte, however, there is no mistaking understated power of his mere presence. With the Changeling sitting in Johnnie's skin directly across from him, he betrays none of the unconscious unease or aversion that the rest of the patrons do. It is not so much a fearlessness, as an emptiness, as if he has lost or forgotten such fundamental human emotions as apprehension or fear. His hollow gaze instead remains affixed to the backs of the midnight blue cards he has placed upon the gaming table.


Male Human Outlaw

I take careful note of the old man. Wish he was Ahmazzi. Seeing there is little to no reaction to the Hitchhiker. This man worries me more than the rest. He is dangerous. Only question is who's side is he on.

Muffled under a napkin as I wipe my mouth clean of a small appetizer.

"Card Table."


Somewhere Dark

For the sake of the guardsman I do not respond in the divine voice but in the language that he can understand. "Yes Ivaanov it is I. How are you and our friend here. Everything functional?"


Arbite Investigator
Savalos Thul wrote:
"Card Table."

Thul's transmission finally allows me to pull the focus of my attention from whatever it is that Johnnie Rico has become.

I attempt to reassert some degree of measured calm. Between lho-drags I casually allow my gaze to drift to the gaming tables and spot the red-robed figure flipping cards. The attire makes me wonder if this is one of Ahmazzi's acolytes, the Redemptionist fanatic. But the sickly yellow skin and white beard indicates this person is too old. Nonetheless, he may be a part of the cult.

Did not read the spoilers above so I'll try scrutiny too.

Scrutiny 40, rolling, 1d100 ⇒ 86

Who this person is and how he got to the tables unnoticed remains a mystery to me.


Somewhere Dark

Kaltos Havelock wrote:
For the sake of the guardsman I do not respond in the divine voice but in the language that he can understand. "Yes Ivaanov it is I. How are you and our friend here. Everything functional?"

Ivaanov, picking up on your decision to include the guardsman in your conversation, refrains from further binary utterances.

"I can only answer for myself, Kaltos Havelock, as Private Kotts and I are only recently reunited as well. Prior to our arrival in this larger chamber we were each held in individual holding cells of identical proportions where we were provided with our present accoutrements."

He holds up an iron-shod staff, similar to the one you carry, while pointing toward the chainsword Kott's holds.

"Private Kotts has expressed to me between vulgar imprecations about the progenitors of whomever imprisoned us here that his cell experienced the same mobile aspects that mine had. Although I am unable to precisely cogitate our present location, I would postulate that we have been transitioned from the Vermillion Ring to one of the upper levels of the Gran Pallazzar proper. I hypothesize that we are to be compelled to engage in some manner of confrontation, and given that we have been deliberately armed, I would suspect it would entail an arena spectacle of some kind."

When Ivaanov finally stops speaking, Kotts lets out a resigned sigh while looking without much hope toward Kaltos for succor from this verbose, pedantic, way of speaking.

"Don't worry, I'm fine."

"Seen Hurchal?"

Although he does not have the answer himself, the burly guardsmen's absence does not bode well given their circumstances, and despite his query, he does not believe Kotts has missed this salient detail.


Somewhere Dark

"I had come up to the came conclusion." I turn to the Private and state, " No I have seen our 4th. With is size I would think he would have gone before or will come after depending on how well they though he would survive. He will be missed as we could have used him for what is to come."

I look around the confines to see if there are any details that I missed in my exodus from the cell.

Awareness= Per 43/2=22, 1d100 ⇒ 39


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Inquisitorial Access Shaft

Perhaps against his better judgement, but not wanting to waste a second longer than necessary in the access shaft, Vincent runs full bore into the rusting man-door, lowering his bony shoulder.

Slamming into the door in stride, it rather inconveniently refuses to budge, possessed of a considerable solidity that belies its weathered appearance. The senior clerk of what was once Ylesium Claustrum grunts with the impact, a sharp pain shooting up his shoulder blade to his neck, before crumpling rather unceremoniously to the cold rockcrete floor at the top of the short stair.

Launce is helping him up almost immediately after he hits the ground, asking him something, perhaps whether he is hurt or not, but all Vincent can hear is the shrill cackling, an almost jovial chorus of laughter echoing to them from deeper in the shaft that feels like dirty, scrabbling claws tearing into Vincent's already frayed sanity.

Ryuk, Sense Presence is successful. Overbleed of 6 extends range by another 10 meters.

The Gift comes almost unbidden to him as he runs, and the lessening of effort now that he is free of the septcell allows Ryuk to spin on his heel at the bottom of the short stair, brandishing his weapon, all the while reaching out with his mind to gain some sense of their pursuers.

It is as he suspected and feared.

What pursues them is a rancid stew of the festering daemonic. A tide of barely sentient filth that hungers, not in the way of a man, but in the manner of a starving animal; without constraint, reason, or selectivity about what it ingests. Like squealing children denied their treats, the vanguard of the horrors from the Oubliette outpace the vaguer presences of the larger, more horrible things that have risen from the foul broth of the pit, slouching and flopping their way behind the Papa's fleeter children.

The horrors will be upon them in a minute, perhaps less.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Inquisitorial Access Shaft

Picking himself up, Vincent gives the door a quick once over, trying to divine a method of opening it.

Noticing Ryuk's absence, he takes a furtive glance at the corridor behind them.


Ryuk re-doubles his efforts, sprinting because his life now really depends on it.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Inquisitorial Access Shaft

Ryuk bounds up the stairs, two at a time, skidding to a halt before his companions. After helping Vincent regain his feet, Launce urgently begins to examine the structure and composition of the door, probing with his mechadendrites and making rusted flakes rain down around him. It is soon clear to both he and Vincent that there is no immediately visible means to open it on this side, whether handle, keypad, or electro-graft interface.

Something booming and bestial, far louder than the infantile cackling, thunders up the shaft from behind them, a slurping chorus of throaty, croaking sounds following after.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Lorm:
Don't worry about posting until you can Lorm, I understand the computer difficulties, had some of my own late last week. If there is anything you specifically want to do, just have Bal email it to me, and I'll insert it into the narrative of my posts.

Uriah watches from the balcony, the astropath, Tikeen, silent at his side, unsure of what to say to his ominous reply.

Like Savalos and Wardja, his attention is fixated upon the newcomer, the ninth player, a niggling sense filling the voidborn that he somehow knows this man, despite the fact that he cannot quite recall why. He turns his personal tarot over, card by card, seemingly uncaring or oblivious to the presence of the daemonhost sitting across from him. His utter apathy is somehow calming, and the effect seems to radiate through the once restive crowd. As the psyker watches, many of the prominent players begin to matriculate toward the central table, while the audience, as if finally sensing a sea change in the prevailing mood, also begin to migrate toward the velvet ropes ringing the locus of the evening's entertainment.


Male Human Outlaw

Sensing it is time. I move slowly to take my seat at the table. Seeing how all the players file in, and what seats they take. Is as much of the game as the game itself.

Rook

Spoiler:
I will pass word to Lorm, and try to keep him updated.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

As the vast majority of the Pinnacle of Pearl's patrons begin to usher toward the central tournament table, Savalos and Wardja find themselves standing beside one another, their concerns for discretion momentarily ameliorated by the fact that Trizo and Leprade's retinues are moving away from where they stand near the edge of the fighting pit.

They look on as their fellow players begin to matriculate toward the central ring, while their foes do the same; unease plainly writ across Leprade's knitted brow while Trizo dol'Soulard glares balefully at what he obstinately perceives to be his disobedient, wayward daemon.

Without eyes upon them, they take the opportunity to converse, player to player.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Inquisitorial Access Shaft

Vincent draws the Sliver of Calyx and thumbs it to life.

"Stand back"


Ryuk brandishes his sword.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Inquisitorial Access Shaft

Launce steps away when Vincent activates warden Trumenne Rhyste's ancient blade, and the senior clerk moves closer to the battered door trying to gauge the best way to carve his way through it with the humming power sabre.

Vincent, roll damage, Righteous Fury counts. The door has 5 AP's for damage mitigation, reduced by 1 for every strike that successfully penetrates and deals damage. It will take ten cumulative damage exceeding the AP threshold to damage the door enough to create a hole in it or otherwise make it accessible for a single person to move through the breach. You estimate have approximately three rounds before the first of the daemonic host reach your position.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Inquisitorial Access Shaft

Ahmazzi wrote:
Vincent, roll damage, Righteous Fury counts. The door has 5 AP's for damage mitigation, reduced by 1 for every strike that successfully penetrates and deals damage. It will take ten cumulative damage exceeding the AP threshold to damage the door enough to create a hole in it or otherwise make it accessible for a single person to move through the breach. You estimate have approximately three rounds before the first of the daemonic host reach your position.

Sliver of Calyx has Pen 6, completely ignoring the door's AP. If possible Vincent will simply try to cut out the locking plate or other latching mechanism, allowing the door to be pushed open normally.

Damage : 1d10 = 8 + 5 + 2 + 1 = 16

The Sliver of Calyx passes effortlessly through the rusted metal of the door, leaving rivers of blood-red slag in its wake.


Arbite Investigator
Ahmazzi wrote:

The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Without eyes upon them, they take the opportunity to converse, player to player.

I drop my lho-stick and step on it. The attention of the floor is not upon us. Leprade, Trizo, the witch, are all distracted by the abomination now called Rico.

I reach inside my jacket and pull out two items with one hand: my lho-stick pack and the vox-bug. I bring them both to my face and pull out a fresh stick with my mouth. As I do so I also speak in a low tone, "Acquisition target, Leprade. Status, clandestine surveillance, maximum stealth." I drop my arm and allow the xeno-device to crawl down my leg and disappear beneath a nearby table.

I cast a glance at Thul and hope he's not glaring at me.


Male Human Outlaw

If it wasn't for the close proximity of so many people possibly hearing my words to Wardja statement I would have given him a few choice words of my own.

Instead I nonchalantly take my seat at the table.

Remember to play the cards as they fall. Remember Hurchal.


Arbite Investigator

Apparently Thul's glance was not a scowl. Or was it?

I follow his lead and move to the gaming table.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Inquisitorial Access Shaft

Vincent pivots his clenched hand upright as much as possible as the Sliver of Calyx easily cleaves through the door, molten sparks and flecks of rusting enamel sloughing off to pool on the floor. Without being asked, Launce expertly directs the path of the cut with the pointing tip of one mechadendrite so that the weapon shears away the portion of the door that houses the locking mechanism.

It is over quickly, and a twenty centimeter half-moon, almost ten centimeters deep, now mars the stubborn door. Vincent and Launce both lean against it and reflexively pull away, the heat of the door around the wound still considerable. Adjusting their positions, they push again, and the disused portal grinds open, more flecks of rust falling away in a shower around their feet.

Stepping through, the first thing Vincent notices as Ryuk rushes to follow is the complete darkness of the area beyond and the overpowering stench of maulchups dung and mouldering hay.

The once-stuck door remains ajar behind them, and has carved a curving gouge into the stone floor beneath their feet from their efforts.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

As Wardja wends his way through the crowd, following behind Thul, he watches from his peripheral vision as the xeno-tech vox-thief skitters across the floor, navigating effortlessly and with speed through the legs of countless passing patrons. Like a bled-tick from his native Baraspine, the animate device tenses and bounds, leaping upon the hem of Leprade's cloak and scampering up the length of the garment to rest beneath the folded hem circumscribing the area just behind the corrupted arbitrator's neck.

There is a faint click in Wardja's microbead and acknowledgment from Gereos that the device is now active, and then Poul Leprade's decidedly uneasy voice eerily fills Swinthosa's hearing, as if the man were whispering directly into his ear.

<'He...IT...should not be here, Trizo! Judging by the pure contempt written across your face and the witch's excitable twitchings, I'm presuming that this is surprise to you as well. Why the Throne-accursed thing elected to don Johnnie's skin was troubling enough given the late Juan Rico's feelings for me, but its presence, now, here, can only serve to undermine all that we have strived to accomplish!'>

Although neither Wardja nor Savalos can make out the muttered response from the gangleader's pursed, leathery lips, the scathing look that Trizo favors Leprade with speaks volumes. As the pair begin to make their way to the central table, the witch following behind her erstwhile master, the Gran Pallazzar's senior concierge makes his way to the raised podium adjacent to the tournament's play area, raising both hands above him to draw the audience's attention.

Savalos nearly leaps out of his skin as the touch of someone nearby gently tugs at his elaborate couture.

He turns to find the smirking face of Jeremiah Blitz, the Rogue Trader's whimsically mischievous eyes appraising him dubiously.

His voice is smooth and confident, level despite the impression that he is restraining himself from releasing a fit of chiding laughter welling up within him. He does notgo so far as to mock, and seems almost friendly in his banter when he whispers to Thul.

"Just who the hell do you think you are fooling in that get-up? For one, the walk is all wrong, you're letting too much purpose into your steps, a spire-poof such as you'd like to appear walks with far less direction, with a certain insouciance undoubtedly learned from everyone directing his eminence where to go. Second, you are not nearly carrying yourself with the requisite bearing; nobility on Oremor, like everywhere else in this benighted sector look so far down their noses at their lessers that they don't even deign to acknowledge their physical existence. You've looked every last serving-person in the eye. Throne's sake, I think I even saw you thank one!"

He pauses to let all this sink in, his voice almost mocking.

"So, now that I'm thoroughly into your head before the tournament even begins, I'll cut you a deal. You tell me just who you really are, and I won't out you before you can play a hand. So, what do you say, my friend?"


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Inquisitorial Access Shaft

Vincent's plan was to seal the door behind them before their pursuer's arrive. Is this still possible?


Male Human Outlaw

I give Jeremiah a warm smile. I know the game he is playing well. As I have played it countless times before in back alleys, and various dens of ill repute.

I speak in a honeyed tone. While my eyes give him a flash of a predator that likes to toy with its meals.

"I admire your confidence, but you are mistaken in your assumptions. This card game has been playing for hours. I certainly hope you are not one who can be easily bluffed out from the table. The night is still young."

Deceive Test (1d100=26)


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Husbandry Barn 177-B

Staggering forward after displacing the weight of the heavy door, Vincent nearly slips in some viscid substance spilled across the ferrocrete flooring. The earthy smells of penned livestock, feed, and animal feces mingle with the sickening tang of blood to fill his nostrils. Glancing down and pointing his stablight toward the floor, he sees the mutilated carcass of a full-grown maulchup's bull, its sizable abdomen ripped open, leaving a purple tangle of entrails cast across the floor.

Quickly scanning around with his light as Launce looks on and Ryuk emerges behind him, he begins to make sense of his new surroundings. A pungent strain of Unduzian hay is strewn across the floor, partially clotting the spillage from the butchery that has taken place here. To his left and right are the head-height, rust-red, bloodstained walls of an Ylesium Claustrum class three corrugated metal animal pen, while directly in front of him are horizontal plas pipes comprising a sturdy gate for the aforementioned pen that presently stands ajar. Looking up, Vincent sees the curving pre-fabricated ceiling of the massive livestock barn lost in the darkness at least thirty meters overhead. Just as he is about to glance back down, his eye catches a brindled thorn-thrush, frightened by the passing illumination, alight from one of the many cross-beams and flit through a rusting hole in the overarching roof. Seeing the weak, grain-dust filled ray of sunlight that shines through the rent, Vincent smiles in spite of himself.

There are means to secure the door, Vincent, Ryuk, please attempt a Search test, your degrees of success will determine the efficacy of your attempt to bar passage for what pursues you.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Savalos Thul wrote:

I give Jeremiah a warm smile. I know the game he is playing well. As I have played it countless times before in back alleys, and various dens of ill repute.

I speak in a honeyed tone. While my eyes give him a flash of a predator that likes to toy with its meals.

"I admire your confidence, but you are mistaken in your assumptions. This card game has been playing for hours. I certainly hope you are not one who can be easily bluffed out from the table. The night is still young." Deceive Test (1d100=26)

Rolling Jeremiah Blitz's Scrutiny test off-screen to preserve the suspense, ***roll-roll***, Hmmm...

The Rogue Trader's penetrating gaze never leaves Thul's eyes as he speaks, and Savalos' confident bluff is rewarded without so much as a blink of uncertainty from Blitz. He nods knowingly, a grudging respect evident on his face, before looking pointedly at the cosmetic mole adorning the acolyte's powdered cheek. His lips tighten visibly, and he unsuccessfully tries to suppress the laughter welling within him. He chuckles to himself as he turns to look back at the table and the players beginning to congregate around it.

"You might be living in the nadir of the Oremite fashion scene, my friend, but you're smart enough to know the game has already begun."

"Fair enough, I'm always game for surprises."

"Luck be with you stranger; playing against me you'll need every bit of it."


Male Human Outlaw

I nod respectfully to Jeremiah, and take my seat. The less talking I do the better.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Husbandry Barn 177-B

Reversing his stride, Vincent shoulders the heavy door closed behind them and braces himself to meet the impact of the coming tide.

"Launce, would you be able to weld this shut for me? Quickly if you can."


Somewhere Dark

Kaltos Havelock wrote:

"I had come up with the same conclusion." I turn to the Private and state, "No, I have not seen our 4th. With his size I would think he would have gone before or will come after depending on how well they thought he would survive. He will be missed, as we could have used him for what is to come."

Private Kotts lowers his head, hissing something under his breath that betrays his frustration and fear, his very human reactions lost on the interlocuting tech-priests.

Kaltos Havelock wrote:

I look around the confines to see if there are any details that I missed in my exodus from the cell.

Awareness = Per 43/2 = 22, roll = 39, failed.

Kaltos Havelock scans the larger dome-shaped holding area for any other feature of note but sees nothing remarkable. The design, much like their individual cells, appears modular, spartan, and designed for inter-connectivity with other such chambers. A number of sealed doors, in addition to the the three remaining open that the three of them emerged from, issue off of the expansive staging cell.

Ivaanov posits something.

"I am conflicted on what our most likely probability for escape would be; do we attempt to find some means to flee this very secure prison, or are we better served to await what our captors have in store for us, seizing what advantages we may when our environment ultimately changes?"


Bio Lightning 3d10 + 5 ⇒ (1, 10, 5) + 5 = 21

"Move out of the way! I will weld the door shut!"


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Husbandry Barn 177-B

Vincent Sepheris wrote:

Reversing his stride, Vincent shoulders the heavy door closed behind them and braces himself to meet the impact of the coming tide.

"Launce, would you be able to weld this shut for me? Quickly if you can."

"I can, Vincent Sepheris, but the welds of my fusion torch would be as little more than a momentary nuisance to the incursion of Warp entities that pursue us; I fear there is no end to what has been loosed upon the claustrum and this world from the Oubliette."

He glances around the confines of the small pen, looking out through the gate into the wider expanse of the massive livestock barn.

"We will need something larger to bar the way, something that will at least give us the advantage of a head-start against the daemons that will inevitably force their way through to follow, or we will never make it out of this livestock structure. Go, quickly, I will seal it as best I can for the present!"

Launce begins his welds, the mechadendrites writhing hurriedly about his head like snaking tendrils of gleaming metal.

Ryuk, Vincent, please attempt a Challenging [+0] Perception characteristic test, or an Ordinary [+10] Search skill test.

EDIT:

Ryuk wrote:
"Move out of the way! I will weld the door shut!"

Ryuk focuses inwardly, the sword clenched in both hands, and Vincent steps back apprehensively, a coldness suddenly pervading the metal-walled pen. Ryuk then joins his efforts to the tech-priest, and crackling, ethereal currents of Warp lightning arc out from his hands to score and melt the rusting edges of the heavy door. The pair complete their combined efforts in a matter of seconds, allowing Launce the opportunity to search for a more permanent solution as well.

Beat my post to the punch by a minute or so, Rad, editing for this reason. The advantage gained is that Launce can also make a Perception or Search test now, in case yours fail.


Rook, I made an out of the box move there


No worries, Rad, see the edit above, lol.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Husbandry Barn 177-B

Perception 44 : 1d100=35

From his position bracing the door, Vincent looks around the dank barn for something to reinforce their makeshift barricade.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Husbandry Barn 177-B

Vincent Sepheris wrote:

Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Husbandry Barn 177-B

Perception 44 : 1d100=35

From his position bracing the door, Vincent looks around the dank barn for something to reinforce their makeshift barricade.

As the others attempt to secure the door, Vincent steps out of the stall, brushing the rime of Warp-frost from his cloak to find himself in a hanger-sized expanse that seems to go on forever. Similar animal stalls flank a twenty meter wide ferrocrete concourse, gently sloped from either side to allow fluids to flow to a central drainage grille that runs along the entire length of the barn. As far as the eye can see in either direction, are pens identical to theirs. All seem to have been opened at some point or another. To Vincent's right is a small rectangle of diffuse light, so far away it is barely larger than an indexing-card from this distance, likely the open barn doors.

The floor is like an abattoir, covered in a tacky, sticky blood that has begun to congeal. In many places, the drainage grille has been stopped up or blocked by any of the hundreds of dismembered maulchups that lay strewn everywhere he can see, creating standing pools of blood that buzz with the attentions of thumb-sized blue-bottle flies. It is soon clear when he observes some human limbs intermingled with the livestock, that the maulchups aren't the only victims of the slaughter. The stench of the gore is overpowering, made all the worse by the fact that the air in the barn is humid and warm, as the air circulation systems are obviously as dead as the animals they were designed to keep from overheating. As awful as the smell is, it is as nothing compared to the putridity of the air that Vincent has been unfortunate enough to draw into his lungs in recent memory. He simply wrinkles his nose despite the stink of the slaughter, not sure if he should offer some ironic thanks to the Unclean One for making him jaded to such conventional horrors of the olfactory variety.

Search test successful.

Remembering his intention, the senior clerk looks around, first considering one or more of the sizable carcasses to block the door, then upon a wheeled, multi-tiered feed dispenser, until finally he sees a six-wheeled, single-man forklift parked haphazardly in front of a stall just three meters away from theirs on the same side. A slumped corpse still sits in the enclosed passenger compartment. Although not as large as a groundcar, the weight of the vehicle is apparent, heavy blocks of safety-orange ballast attached behind the rear wheels. It looks as if it could be drive directly into the stall to block the Inquisition's secret door.

A dull, intermittent pounding begins to sound from behind him in the stall, as if maddened children were running headlong into the rusting door.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

As soon as they realize the senior-concierge is making his way to the podium, obliviously freed from the fell, fugue-like malaise that befell them during the Changeling's entrance into the Pinnacle of Pearl, the wealthy patrons begin to gravitate toward the ranks of chairs in the audience seating that faces the central tournament table. Settling into their assigned seating as a legion of bodyguards, servants, and hospitality staff attend their needs, the ultra-rich of Oremor eagerly await the evening's iniquitous entertainment.

Mounting the podium once again, the regal concierge with the lisping voice raises his hands again for silence that quickly follows.

"Gentlemen and ladies, esteemed guests of the Gran Pallazzar's Pinnacle of Pearl, I bid you welcome to the 99th annual Tournament of Cassilda, or as it is more popularly known, the Heretic's Wake!"

The muted, half-clapped applause that only the absurdly wealthy can quite produce reverberates through the eerie acoustics of the Pinnacle of Pearl, forcing the concierge to allow it to die a slow, meandering death before continuing.

"I humbly thank our esteemed guests, for none of this would be possible without their unwavering commitment, unceasing patronage, and perfect discretion. Now, after so much secrecy, comes the first of many moments of revelation. Please allow me to introduce this annum's contestants, nine of the greatest gamblers in all of the Sector Calixis!"

Savalos tries to relax his fingers, presently white-knuckling the ornate wooden arm-rests of the high-backed chairs surrounding the tear-drop shaped table. Watching the black-robed dealer begin to gather together precisely stacked piles of nine-sided, nacre-colored chips on the midnight-blue felt from behind the sickle-shaped projection of the playing surface that he stands within.

As his name is called, he takes a deep breath, relaxing his hands, making eye contact in turn with each of his competitors as they are named.

"Returned to his world of birth, I give to you the last-known heir of one of Orcut VII hive's founding families: Savalos of House Dawnstar!"

The applause is quiet and respectful, predominantly from the more vested of the old nobility who remember House Dawnstar's halcyon days.

"The contestant to his immediate left is the designated representative of one of the most powerful corporations in all of the Calixis Sector, some would say the manufacturing life-blood of Battlefleet Calixis and much of the Chartist fleets, he is one of many, but certainly the most renowned gambler in their ranks: Comptroller Odo Wimarc of the Skaelen-Har Hegemony!"

The applause continues, polite, but muted.

"Representing the established Upspire nobility of Orcut VII hive (there is a smattering of laughter at this oblique reference to Savalos' House's current fortunes) and three-time winner of the Tournament of Cassilda, you know her as "Lady Ice", I welcome back Dowager-Marcheza Cinzia dol Vingere!"

Loud applause and even some cheering follows at this announcement that one of the tournaments most successful former contestants has made the cut for this year's festivities. The Dowager-Marcheza smiles like a shoal-shark at her own notoriety, winking at Savalos.

"Representing the Oremite Adepta, the most successful of the Emperor's true servants left standing following the 'take-no-prisoners' tone of the preliminary tournaments, allow me to introduce Intelligencer Poul Leprade of the Adeptus Arbites!"

More polite applause, and a self-satisfied nod of acknowledgement from Leprade.

"Come to us from just outside of the Grey Way itself, phenomenally successful *ahem* entrepreneur (even the concierge smiles at this, the euphemism understood by all) and chief executive officer of Serpentis Consolidated Industries, I give you a son of Vaxus District itself, and two-time winner of the Heretic's Wake: Trizo dol Soulard!"

The clapping is loud and earnest, and truth be told, inspired by a true fear of the individual seated across from Savalos. Trizo accepts the forced accolades with a sly grin, privy to its true meaning, accepting the applause like fealty or tribute that is owed to him, and fully expected.

"Owner and heir to Fulcus Prime's single largest agricultural combine, representing the distinguished nobility of our sister-hive, please welcome Jashar dol Geim!

More applause, chiefly from lesser nobility eager to curry favor with such a powerful individual. Jashar dol Geim holds one meaty hand aloft like a conquering potentate, while the other reaches into a dish of brined, shelled drought-crabs, plunging the meaty morsel between his broad, liver-colored lips with absolutely no self-consciousness.

"A man of notorious reputation in the gaming circles of the Sector Calixis, known for his victories at the Passage Invitational, the Malfian Night of Shrouds, and the Scintillan Grand Masters, I give you the Imperium's most renowned self-made Rogue Trader: Jeremiah Blitz!"

Blitz laughs to himself jovially as the polite applause of the patrons is overwhelmed by the boisterous shouting and hurrahs of his loyal entourage.

Laughing himself, the concierge glances down at his parchment notes on the podium and his face goes abruptly white. Like a man possessed, he raises his head again, staring blankly into space ahead of him as the crowd goes deathly silent, each of them in turn mirroring his expression; a fugue-like emptiness overwhelming them. Looking around apprehensively, Savalos and Wardja see that only they, Trizo, and Leprade are exempt from this bizarre occurrence of those at the table, able to watch as the deathly pale concierge opens his mouth like the yawning maw of a skull. His lips and jaw hang rigidly open, and a voice emerges that is not his own. He speaks one leaden word that echoes in a thousand-thousand different tongues simultaneously, of which the two acolytes can discern both of their native world's dialects, and, in Savalos' case, the Eldar language.

"Changeling"

There is no applause this time, but everyone within the crowd of entranced onlookers lets out an ear-piercing shriek of such utter terror that the two acolytes feel the blood run cold in their veins. Their mouths then close with the hinge-like precision of automatons, their vision clearing as the color returns to the concierge's face and the world returns to them, everything that passed within the Pinnacle of Pearl just seconds ago seemingly forgotten. A few look at their hands paused in the act of clapping curiously before returning to a state of normalcy.

The thing wearing Juan Rico's skin, the Trickster behind his eyes, the Eviscerator that commands his limbs, forces its puppet to smile.

Sav, Wardja, Uriah, please make Willpower tests for a Frightening [-10] Fear test.

As if there is nothing amiss, the concierge continues as if he had just announced the transit schedule of the Upper Vaxus District's elevated civilian rail, and not the invocation of a Tzeentchian daemon's name.

"Finally, may I present a first time entrant who has beaten every conceivable odd to find his place here. A self-described diviner, remembrancer, and seer of the Imperial Faith: Keremiah Tor!"

Patrons that were screaming incoherently a few moments before applaud politely but without much fanfare.

The concierge rather unnecessarily raises his hands for quiet again, and announces what everyone has been waiting so expectantly for.

"It is my deepest pleasure to say these words on the penultimate annum of the tournament's centennial---Let the Tournament of Cassilda, the Heretic's Wake, begin!!!"

The acolytes listen to the resounding applause until it fades away, knowing that the fate of a world may hinge on something as seemingly inconsequential as a card game.


Male Human Outlaw

I am not sure what keeps me in my seat so close to the aberration. My cheek throbbing in memory of it being shredded to ribbons. How close I came to loosing Aebena.

Fear Test (1d100=38)

Deep in my pocket I feel the Golden Aquila. Reminding me if one doesn't hold there ground then everything we cherish will be lost.


Arbite Investigator

The entire room possessed and controlled by the abomination. Griping the arms of my chair, I feel my heart rise in my throat. Glancing at Thul, I see that he too has escaped the Changeling's influnce. For now.

Fear Test (38) - Frightening (10) = 28, rolling, 1d100 ⇒ 19

Despite the surreal return to normalcy, the undying screams of the damned echo in my ears. A warp-spawned demon! The fire-power at my disposal is insignificant, paltry.

I take a drag from my lho-stick. The Duct-Wolf ordered the game be played. Nothing left but to trust in the Emperor and Ahmazzi's acolytes. Avoiding the gaze of the Rico-Thing that sits nearby, I examine the other players. Looking for any habits or mannerisms that might give me a "tell" once play begins.


Male Human Savant Militant (Rank 4)

Fear test(55-10) = 1d100 ⇒ 17
Made it by 2 degrees.


Male Human Savant Militant (Rank 4)

I look at Tikeen, "Be calm, Tikeen. He is not coming for us. We must observe, and be ready to act if necessary."


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Nice rolling, all Fear tests were successful.

Through some measure of determination, whether a result of their intensive training under the auspices of the Ordo Calixis or a simple consequence of their own inner strength and tenacity, the acolytes manage to maintain their composure following the outré choir of screams.

Savalos, Wardja, a Scrutiny test, please.


Male Human Outlaw

Scrutiny Test (1d100=63)

Knew I wasn't going to make this one Lol.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Uriah glances over at Tikeen as the screams die away, cognizant that she did not answer him.

He watches as her mouth slowly closes, and her eyes come to focus again, hearing the last rasp of the dying scream on her own lips.

She appears unnerved, frazzled, but it is clear she does not know exactly why. Hearing the end of Uriah's reply she answers:

"Observe? Act?"

"I'm sorry, I must have been distracted, I beg your pardon, but I did not hear you."


Male Human Savant Militant (Rank 4)

"The Daemon took over the host. That is what you felt. I said that we must stay calm, and observe. Be ready to act, if necessary. I understand this is hard for you, but you can get past what just happened."

I say this softly, in as calming a voice aa possible with my vox inducer.


Somewhere Dark

"Well I was never good at waiting. Do you have anything that we can rig up as a com even if we have to use the metal of our cage as an antenna? I would like to see if we can get a message to the others or at least get some idea of whats happening out side. A receiver would do if nothing else."

Tech use 44 1d100 ⇒ 15, Craft Smith 44 1d100 ⇒ 13, and an other chance for an awareness test per 43/2=22 1d100 ⇒ 86

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