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Headmaster Toff Ornels

Ahmazzi's page

1,891 posts. Alias of Rookseye.


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The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

After Wardja rises to stand behind his seat, Savalos' quiet prayer begins in earnest, his urgent words a flowing counterpoint to Tor's monotone chanting.

The now-elderly dealer, weakened by his advanced age, gingerly rakes in the final chips, wincing with the effort required from his arthritic bones. His eyes, now sunken in his skull, look to the Changeling once more, expectant, as if pleading for release from his duties. He murmurs something unintelligible.

The daemon nods as if the temporal corruption surrounding them all is perfectly normal, and flicks the lambent pools of cold, blue fire that his eyes have become toward each player in turn, right to left, counterclockwise, beginning with Trizo and finally ending with Savalos.

His hands do not move, but the remaining stack of markers before him slide across the table of their own volition, some skipping, some bouncing on end to join the others.

The thing that used to be Rico keeps its gaze fixed upon Thul when it completes the disturbing circuit of competitors, wispy threads of cerulean corposant flickering across its lips when it speaks.

"A beautiful prayer."

"I once knew a child who shared the fervency of your faith, and spoke it quite often in the darkest watches of the night."

A thin, wistful smile creases the impossibly ancient being's lips at the recollection.

"She is precious, to you, no?"


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

The acolytes add their own markers to the growing pot, and the bid again comes to the Changeling.

The silence in the Pinnacle of Pearl is absolute as the unsettling being slowly counts out a stack of the nonagonal chips, the light in the casino flickering momentarily with a barely perceptible shudder that seems at once physical and temporal.

The effects would be profoundly disturbing were any of the rapt audience able to avert their eyes from the endgame and bare witness to them, but as it stands, only the acolytes and the other players take heed.

Ornamental mycoid-plants wilt and die in their priceless vases, a steaming serving trencher of poached churraptus eggs abruptly reverts to a perfectly-stacked pyramid of spherical eggs, the shells making a gentle tinkling as they impossibly revert to their uncooked, intact state.

For a fleeting second, the dealer's voice clearly speaks in reverse as he asks the Changeling for the amount of his raise.

The only sounds coming from the players are the insistent murmuring of Keramiah Tor, which only now the acolytes recognize as the sound of stentorian prayer, and the strangled, gurgling gasps of Jashar Dol Geim as the medicae staff working to revive him begin to grow frantic in their efforts to revive him.

Although Savalos has noticed no clocks or timepieces in evidence within the Pinnacle of Pearl, from somewhere comes the tolling of an old clock as it strikes the ninth hour.

The daemonhost pushes the markers forward and they seem to blur and deform with midnight blue light as they move across the table.

"A raise, again, of ninety-nine."

His own chips expended, Trizo simply glares at the Changeling, golden hand clenching into a fist atop the table.

Blitz's reaction is different. For the first time since the game began he appears unsettled, wary even. He passes forward the rest of his chips with marked hesitation, eyes narrowing as he watches the daemonhost.

The dealer looks to Wardja, and the acolyte shudders when he finds himself looking into the weathered face and rheumy eyes of an old man; a centenarian at least, where once there was someone little older than he.

Call to Wardja, Savalos is already All-In.

Heretic's Wake Tournament Round #9:

First Player: The Changeling

Current Stakes: 663

Gambling Skill Results:

  • Johnnie/The Changeling: Unknown Strength of Hand, no Draw.
  • Trizo dol Soulard: Unknown Strength of Hand, Aggressive Draw.
  • Jeremiah Blitz: Unknown Strength of Hand, Conservative Draw.
  • Wardja: 82, three degrees of failure, Aggressive Draw, 5, four degrees of success.
  • Savalos: 23, two degrees of success, Aggressive Draw, 9, three degrees of success.

Remaining Chips:

  • Jeremiah Blitz: 0
  • Wardja: 112
  • Savalos: 0
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: 125
  • Trizo dol Soulard: 0
  • Intelligencer Leprade: Eliminated
  • Jashar Dol Geim: Eliminated
  • Lady Cinzia: Eliminated
  • Keramiah Tor: Eliminated

Raise of 99 to Wardja, Savalos is All-In.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Deep in the Tertiary Fallow Fields

With Ryuk standing protectively over him, facing the eastern edge of the clearing, Vincent closes his eyes and centers his thoughts. The noetic techniques of his peculiarly heretical scholam, meditative training that has perhaps been the most reliable thing in an otherwise chaotic life, proves as dependable as ever. With nary an effort, he extracts the requisite information from his eidetic mind and inputs the Inquisitorial ciphers into the keypad.

The thunderous tumult in the fallow field to the east is joined by a deep, bass, rumbling sound that originates from beneath the clearing.

Swaying on their feet as the ground shakes, Vincent and Ryuk watch as first the tech-priest, and then the two guardsmen come sprinting into the clearing from the eastern edge. The former is clearly wounded, clutching at his foreshortened left arm, which weeps blood and machine oil from the stump. Two of his swaying mechadendrites have been cleanly cut through, and shower sparks across his path as he runs. The nameless sergeant runs for his life, his respirator-masked companion following closely behind. Upon seeing you, the mortal fear on his face is jarring, and he waves his weaponless hands frantically in your direction, imploring you to run.

As another tall myconoid teeters, sways, and finally tumbles down into the hidden clearing with a resounding crash, you see why.

The dun and green camouflaged Sentinel scout walker that emerges from the fungal forest behind them is known officially as the Oremor Mark III Agricultural Pattern, but among the penitents and Guardsmen of the Oremor 7th Penal Legion, it is known more colloquially as the Reaper, a variant specifically engineered to cut its way through the thick fungal growth of the Unduz II jungles. Unlike the standard Sentinel, the Reaper differs from the base design by the addition of two gangly-looking servo-armatures affixed to the top of the legs. One ends in a pneumatic claw, while the other terminates in the sweeping curve of a huge chain chit-sickle. Even now, as the various technical specifications of the walker come unbidden to Vincent's mind in all of their meaningless minutiae, its chain-scythe rips through the last low hedgerow of mycoids, launching spores into the night air before the amber glow of its flickering head-lamps. The faint illumination reveals a metallic body caked in filth, gore, and the chaff of the vegetation it has carved through to reach this fateful rendezvous.

As it stomps forward, the operator pauses, raising his head slightly to make eye contact with the senior clerk. His eyes are agleam with the glow of the walker's head-lamps, but Vincent knows that they would appear to have the burnt orange color of a sick man's urine even had they not been illuminated. The pox-scars across the brow and nose, coupled with the angry knife-slash of a mouth, and the sadistic glee writ so clearly across the man's face leave no doubt as to his identity.

The walker's laudhailer roars to life with a disharmonious squawk of feedback as Glyde speaks, his voice filled with a mocking, bloodthirsty satisfaction at finally having cornered his quarry.

"Vincent!!! We meet again! Adjutant Triggs sends his regards!"

"Although he regrets he cannot be here, he asks that I return what is left of you to him in time for the Warden's desert!"

Vincent, Glyde and the walker are approximately twenty meters away from you right now at the other side of the clearing, with Launce and the two guardsmen at the midpoint of this distance. The ground beneath your feet continues to shake, and a half-meter thick seam of the loamy, fungus-covered ground, in roughly a ten meter diameter circle around you has become evident. Please indicate a response, and roll for Initiative.


Geltdown Docks, High Above Landing Platform 9

The Inquisitorial gun-cutter shudders as its directional thrusters fire while on final approach to Geltdown Docks, while the pair of matte black stormtrooper shuttles that flank it follow suit, their weapons and sensoria nodules sweeping vigilantly across the landing vector.

From where he sits, the Inquisitor-Lord can see the blackened, smoldering ruin of Platform 7, and though knowledgeable about the events that brought it to such ruin, he barely spares it a glance, his gaze instead returning to the data slate resting in his lap.

A few keystrokes later, satisfied with what he sees there, he quietly leans back in the form-fitted crash chair and closes his eyes to meditate.

Even though the fate of Oremor and perhaps the entire sub-sector itself rests on the events of the next few hours, Inquisitor Ahmazzi shows no outward sign of anxiety, his face a self-possessed mask of impenetrable calm.

As the gun-cutter begins its final descent, Ahmazzi muses once again about the Great Game, the pieces, and their places on the board.


The Vaxus Deeps, Lift-Lobby 1241

Luceros fire his handcannon again, and is rewarded with a wet spray of corrupted gore and the dead-man falls down. The circle of the Pack tightens around him, interspersed with the red and white vestments of the surviving Redemptionists.

A strange pairing we are, indeed, he thinks.

He stumbles into the Castogaul, who rights him effortlessly with one long arm, before turning the other outward and spraying a cloud of liquid promethium from his hand-flamer into the undead host that has surrounded them. The friar, Savonar, exhorts and evangelizes behind them, shrieking a call to cleanse, his powerful, booming voice augmented by the laudhailer as the handful of surviving civilians they have rallied around desperately try to activate the ancient vehicular lift. His fellow Wolves fight with a tenacity and resolve that is admirable in the face of such odds, slug-throwers belching fire, scerridos piercing skulls when the bullets run dry. Though their numbers are far fewer than before, fewer still since the plague caused the dead to rise, their courage is something that the old She-Wolf would have been proud to see.

With the Sanctuary overrun, and all of the Vaxus Deeps infected or in flames, there is nowhere now to go but up. Luceros only hopes the Young Wolf and his companions will be successful in their efforts, or there will be nowhere left to run.

With a screech of metal, two of the Duct Wolves slide open the shaft, and the large band of gangers, Redemptionists, and civilians pour into the massive lift bay. Even so, there is not enough space for everyone, and the entry quickly becomes choked with bodies. Order is restored with a shout from his lips.

"Nine!"

Several of the Duct Wolves fighting the desperate delaying action move away from the entry, nodding to their Alpha without reservation, to stand beside where Luceros waits in his gore-flecked black furs. Into the stinking cloud of cordite and promethium, Friar Savonar sends out an equal number of his firebrand clerics, and they form a protective ring around the lift, standing shoulder to shoulder with the Duct Wolves so that the rest may escape. Before Luceros can throw himself on the proverbial pyre, surrounded on all sides by the walking corpses, the elderly friar signals to his second, and Castogaul bear-hugs Luceros, dragging him forcibly away from his men. Castogaul bulls him into the waiting lift before he can react. Taken by surprise by this perceived treachery, Luceros can only scream in frustration as the doors to the lift close, and with rocking motion, it begins ascending.

"Savonar! I will kill you old man! It was my place to die there, with my honor guard, for my Pack!"

As the Alpha unsheathes his scerrido, Castogaul stands protectively before his superior, blocking the way as the surviving Duct Wolves, Redemptionists, and desperate Underhivers look on.

Without raising his voice, Friar Savonar shakes his head minutely from side to side, holding his hands up, calling for peace. Working his mouth slowly around the horrible burn scars that mar his visage, the wizened old preacher speaks quietly, but his calming words carry weight nonetheless.

"Luceros, Luceros, my friend, your time has not yet come. It is He on Terra's Will that you will be needed before all is said and done, for your leadership to your people and Pack. Worry not, the time may still yet come when we will be able to sacrifice ourselves for our beliefs, whatever they may be. Now is not that time."

Still bristling with rage, the moment is balanced on a knife's edge, but seeing the exhausted looks of the surviving Duct Wolves, and the sincerity in the friar's eyes, he finally relents.

A deep breath wheezing out of him, he nods to the Redemptionist friar, "What now, Savonar?"

The frail old preacher smiles, his face a rictus of scar-tissue and arrogant confidence, somehow strangely reassuring just the same.

"Now comes the end."

His good eye then twinkles with a knowing, mischievous light from the mask of burns that seems particularly out of character for the old Redemptionist.

"Oh, and Luceros, please, call me Ishmael."


Orcut Hive, Vaxus District, The Grey Way, Alley Approach 9, Outside of the Gran Pallazzar

Albrek Vodak coughs into his palm, looks at what he sees there, and winces before wiping his hands across the clean fatigues leant to him by Oktammor earlier this day. He frowns, his eyes narrowing, feeling the pull of memory again.

Gritting his teeth together in the back of the cargo-8 he tries not to close his eyes, but when he does the images are still there, like they always are.

The blowing snow, the dying screams of his comrades-in-arms, and the plaintive wails of the infant, swaddled in insulated Munitorum packing cloth, as he staggers blindly through the blizzard, wind shrieking in his ears. The screaming stops, as it always does, but the wind continues to moan, the cold sucking the heat from his perforated environment suit. The questions and confusion return, thawing in his numbed mind like slowly-melting icicles, and just as ephemeral.

Somewhere, sometime---some time---he was tasked to come here, to Mara, by someone, but who? For what? Why was it only now becoming clear as his body was robbed of heat, leeched of life by the deadly cold.

He remembers a man, his face both familiar and strange, a man he was loyal to for reasons he could not explain. His regiment, the mission, the men and brothers he had come to love and admire, his place among them, it was all an act, an elaborate pantomime, flawless in execution, particularly when one of the players, he himself, had no prior knowledge of his part to play. It was necessary, he said. Albrek was no actor.

He looks through the frosted goggles on the respirator mask and scrapes at them with his heavy gloves, clearing the rime, so that he can look upon the objective once again, huddled inside his parka in a makeshift papoose of blankets and surplus insulation.

The child. It was all for this one child.

The lunacy of his newly found clarity forces him to stop, dead in his tracks, the tickles of insane laughter wanting to claw their way up from his throat.

All those years robbed from him, never to be returned, all those lives in his regiment, his home, lost, sacrificed, and for what?

With a tremendous boom from overhead, the guncutter descends like an angry angel, maneuvering thrusters firing in time, the dim glow barely cutting through the storm. It hovers a moment longer, blowing the dagger-sharp coating of blue ice from the frozen landscape around him as easy as a palm sweeping aside a losing hand of cards. In a blinding whirlwind, it lands, and though he may not remember in the days to come, he knows now what it means to serve the stern-faced man.

All to a purpose, he says.

His eyes snap open from his flashback to the present (future) with a start borne from the indoctrinated mind of a trained killer, an infantryman's paranoia dragging him back to the here and now like a slap.

The crack-hiss sound of las-fire is unmistakable, and he rises, with some of Dunkan's other enforcers, to look out through the narrow gunports in the side of the transport.

Folk are fleeing the monolithic casino and the surrounding buildings in droves, and the barked orders coming from the noncoms of the Oremor 1st, an oddly comforting sound to Albrek, fill the air even over the sound of the lasfire. He watches as their riot cordon begins to collapse, pressured as another press of staggering figures flows down the roadway, first in a sporadic trickle, fired upon indiscriminately by the guardsmen in green and gold, before turning into a momentous tide. Even from here, he can see that there is something wrong with their ungainly gaits, their flailing arms. They come on and on, despite the withering las-fire until the resolve of the soldiers begins to falter. They are the dead, most of them civilians, but many are guardsmen, like their prey, and they are hungry.

As Oktammor begins to shout orders from the front of the cargo-8, he feels the vehicle lurch into motion, nearly knocking him and the others to the floor. His hand clutches one of the leather straps on the ceiling to restore his balance as an afterthought, still craning his neck to look out the port.

For some reason his eyes go to the neon-lumen facade of one of the casino's neighboring night clubs, watching with dread as the gaudily lit sun on the sign abruptly goes dark. Something about that dead light, the black sun, makes the fear of the moment, the terror of his memories seem trivial by comparison.

Whatever it means, Albrek knows the end is near.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Deep in the Tertiary Fallow Fields.

Ryuk following closely, Vincent kneels before the wide stone and begins feeling across its surface. Disturbing the green, shoot-like stalks of the smaller mycoids, he tries to ignore the release of tiny, mote-like spores, probing for a hinge or seam that might indicate the presence of a hidden panel.

He finds it fairly quickly, under a nodule of raised stone, and pries it open with scabby fingers, after tracing the nearly invisible edge of the lower seam.

The panel is a simple keypad, barely larger than a smallish dataslate.

As he searches his eidetic mind for the requisite cipher, he and Ryuk both hear a loud series of crunches from the fallow field behind them and to the east. Looking over some of the lower mycoids at the clearing's edge, the pair watch a larger stalk topple over with the thunderous force of a falling tree, where it crashes into the mushroom forest, raising a plume of dislodged spores that float lazily in the night air.

The commotion grows louder as something large forces its way through the mycoid overgrowth, heading for the clearing.

Vincent, what will you do?


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

The Draw complete, the attention of everyone at the table and in attendance for the Tournament of Cassilda focuses upon the Changeling again. The daemon still has yet to lift the cards originally dealt to it from the table, where they lay face-down, like an ominous portent yet to be revealed.

The piercing blue of the thing's eyes has spread during the course of the tournament, and now seeps, cloudy, like indigo dye dropped in water, slowly spreading to fill the wides orbs that once belonged to Juan Rico. If anyone else besides those at the table notice the unnerving change, they dare not speak of it.

It's voice is a cold rasp now, devoid of the false humor and mocking banter it carried on with earlier in the game.

"A raise, then, of ninety-nine."

With the markers raked forward, the dealer turns to Trizo, who is slowly shaking his head in arrogant disbelief.

With only seventy-three chips to his name, there is no hesitation by the Yellobouros gang-lord, and he pushes them into the pot angrily. He glances back over his shoulder briefly, staring daggers at the witch.

Leprade sits quietly, apart from both of them now, staring desolately into the open hands resting in his lap.

Trizo, not looking at any one of the players, but clearly making the daemonhost and all of the other competitors the target of his threat, hisses furiously, "There will be a reckoning when all is said and done, you can rest assured of that."

His metallic fist clenches on his cards reflexively.

The dealer pauses a moment, waiting with trepidation to see if the latent violence of dol Souldard's words will manifest itself, and when it does not, he then turns to Blitz. The rogue trader frowns, and then tosses ninety-nine of his own chips into the growing pot.

"Call."

The dealer looks to his right at Wardja, waiting for his decision.

Heretic's Wake Tournament Round #9:

First Player: The Changeling

Current Stakes: 321

Gambling Skill Results:

  • Johnnie/The Changeling: Unknown Strength of Hand, no Draw.
  • Trizo dol Soulard: Unknown Strength of Hand, Aggressive Draw.
  • Jeremiah Blitz: Unknown Strength of Hand, Conservative Draw.
  • Wardja: 82, three degrees of failure, Aggressive Draw, 5, four degrees of success.
  • Savalos: 23, two degrees of success, Aggressive Draw, 9, three degrees of success.

Remaining Chips:

  • Jeremiah Blitz: 46
  • Wardja: 211
  • Savalos: 98
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: 224
  • Trizo dol Soulard: 0
  • Intelligencer Leprade: Eliminated
  • Jashar Dol Geim: Eliminated
  • Lady Cinzia: Eliminated
  • Keramiah Tor: Eliminated

Raise of 99 is to Wardja and Savalos.

Raise of 99 to Wardja and then Savalos (this will be All-In for Savalos).


Savalos:
Wow, nine, now that is what I call eerie. I'd be worried too, Sav.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

As the players receive their final cards, the tension on the mezzanine level is palpable.

Uriah, conversing with Iacton in the narrow aisle, cannot help but feel a deep uneasiness as he speaks with Krade's bodyguard, like he is talking to a hollow ghost.

Uriah Trantor wrote:
Said softly, "We will talk later about what you have been doing, but for now, are you ready to do what it is necessary? I do not know if we can do anything about the daemonhost, but Trizo's witch must be taken out. She is the most dangerous to us. Next, are the armed guards. We expect the time everything is going to happen will be the end of the ninth round, which is the next round. We have people in place to deal with the ones on the stairway. Will you be able to be in position to perform terminus on the witch?"

Remembering that the feather is in the assassin's possession, Uriah reconsiders his initial request of Iacton, inwardly recoiling at his memory of what the thing felt like in spite of his best efforts to forget. The plume's importance cannot be understated, however, or risked so recklessly.

Uriah Trantor wrote:
"Correction, Iacton, you can not be anywhere near the daemonhost, only go after the witch, if she is nowhere near the creature. The item you have cannot fall in the daemon's hands."

Iacton nods, his face and eyes hidden beneath the hood of his robes.

"My master has told me, the Game is almost at its end."

"Now is the time when everything must be risked if we are to succeed. Rest assured, Uriah Trantor, the witch will die, or I will perish in the trying."


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

The Changeling declines the Draw with a slow, stately shake of it's head, fingers steepled above the unseen cards arrayed in a precisely-spaced fan before it. The inhuman blue eyes slowly shift to Trizo dol Soulard, who does his best not to look back at the daemon.

The dealer points toward the gang-lord's cards, and Trizo sweeps them up irritably in his golden hand, the brutal fingers scraping loudly across the midnight blue felt. He raps them ponderously upon the table, and then beckons imperiously with his other hand. The dealer passes three new placards to the leader of the Yellobouros.

Trizo takes an Aggressive Draw.

Pivoting to Blitz, who stands just to his left, the dealer patiently awaits his decision.

Blitz surveys his adversaries a final time, before finally opting to exchange a single card, which he slides slowly across the table before peeling tightly up into his existing hand.

Jeremiah Blitz takes a Conservative Draw.

The dealer then turns to Wardja.

Wardja and Savalos, please provide me with your Draw decision, the bidding then will revert back to the Changeling as First Player.

Heretic's Wake Tournament Round #9:

First Player: The Changeling

Current Stakes: 50

Gambling Skill Results:


  • Savalos: 23, two degrees of success.
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: Unknown Strength of Hand, no Draw.
  • Trizo dol Soulard: Unknown Strength of Hand, Aggressive Draw.
  • Jeremiah Blitz: Unknown Strength of Hand, Conservative Draw.
  • Wardja: 82, three degrees of failure.

Remaining Chips:

  • Jeremiah Blitz: 145
  • Wardja: 211
  • Savalos: 98
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: 323
  • Trizo dol Soulard: 73
  • Intelligencer Leprade: Eliminated
  • Jashar Dol Geim: Eliminated
  • Lady Cinzia: Eliminated
  • Keramiah Tor: Eliminated

Decision on the Draw is to Wardja and Savalos.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl, Central Generatorium Chamber

Kaltos Havelock wrote:

I pull back and let the door close and then take a couple steps back to the others.

In a low voice, "OK, we have two suits and three Yellobouros next to the staircase. The gangers have handcannons, the suits laspistols. There is an autogun close to the Yellobouros as well, in the lectern. Next to our door are four pillars and their match on the other side of the room. What I propose is that we come out and from behind the pillars, and demand that they put down their weapons. If they do so, fine. If not, we gun down the ganger that is closest to the autogun, then the rest. I don't know if the suits are with the gangers, but they are not against them. so treat them with caution. Any questions? "

Private Kotts, deathly pale, with blood leaking through the thick bandage wound around his face, smiles grimly, surveying the tactical situation with a quick glance through the seam in the generatorium door.

"None."

Ivaanov moves silently into position adjacent to the door, his las-carbine cradled to his ruined shoulder, nodding in assent to his tech priest comrade, indicating his own readiness.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Deep in the Tertiary Fallow Fields.

Vincent, Awareness test is unsuccessful.

The pair pause at the barren row, listening, but all they can hear is the dull roar of the conflagration they have left behind. Still, it is evident that Ryuk has sensed something that has made him uneasy, and he turns to look back the way they have come, his eyes narrowing.

"We must hurry."

While still unsure of what he may have himself heard, but unnerved by the clone's reaction, Vincent needs no further inducement to press on. They cross the stalk-less patch of earth and begin to run through the mycoid forest beyond, the rasp of Vincent's breath in the respirator soon becoming his constant companion as he struggles to keep pace with the fleet-footed psyker.

Vincent is unsure of how much time passes, as full dark has now made visibility delimited by the diffuse beams of their lamp-packs bouncing through the thick fungal growth. It is for this reason that the clearing appears before him with the jarring abruptness of a sudden fall. He and Ryuk stagger forward from their momentum, finding themselves in a broad, circular field, carpeted in tiny, deep-green mushrooms that disconcertingly appear like analogues of grass on a summer meadow. A few taller stalks erupt from the ground, interspersed throughout the field, their broad caps listing gloomily overhead, blotting out the wan starlight above where they grow.

In the middle of the field stands a large, craggy stone, erupting at an angle to one of the taller mycoid stalks, pointing heavenward.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Savalos Thul wrote:

I figure no matter how the final round plays out, I may as well have my part in it end with a tough of class.

I raise my drink.

"May your last hand be well played."

Perhaps not surprisingly, Trizo refuses to raise his own glass in acknowledgment of Savalos' gesture, choosing to glower at the acolyte instead as the cards are slowly dealt.

More in courtesy than any real camaraderie, Jeremiah Blitz tips his snifter of amasec in Thul's direction, murmuring assent to the sentiment, but even so, he appears to be supremely focused on the coming round. He eyes each of his fellow competitors intently, trying to gauge their reactions to their hands, all pretense of disinterest gone from this demeanor.

Savalos Thul wrote:

I then look over to the Daemon who I expect to win this game within the game.

"To Johnny."

Initially, the Changeling does not respond to Savalos' toast, but when he invokes Johnny's name, something seems to stir in the fractured duality of the being sitting at the acolyte's right hand. At first, it stares, fugue-like gaze upon the face-down cards dealt to it, but after a moment, the head turns slowly toward Thul, as if with great effort, and the dark eyes of his long-time friend briefly stare back at him, tearful, and rimmed in red.

Juan Rico raises the slender crystal decanter.

"Good luck, Sav."

He downs a swallow, and he turns his head back to the momentous cards resting before him. The cerulean blue stare is once again fixed and devoid of anything that could be confused for humanity, and just like that, the shade of Johnny is gone again, perhaps forever.

After a long time, the Changeling finally lifts its brilliant blue eyes, the old-fashioned Oremite arbitrator's tricorn cap casting his face in shadow, the indigo plume erupting from one side swaying gently with the motion. It brushes one pale hand against the black duct wolf furs it wears, and then smiles gamely, never examining the cards it has been dealt.

"Raise of nine."

Trizo's lip curls, but perhaps out of spite, he does not lift his cards to view them either, instead flicking a glance filled with pure spite at Savalos and the Changeling. His voice growls with withering sarcasm as he utters, "Call of nine then, and damn you both."

Jeremiah Blitz takes the gang-lords petit-mal tantrum in stride, but doesn't follow suit in playing blind. He casts his eyes over his hand, keeping it close to his face, and pushes forward nine chips of his own.

"I will call."

The dealer turns to Wardja expectantly.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I'll assume that both Wardja and Savalos will remain in the final round for the sum indicated. Please give me your intentions on the Draw following your reaction.

Heretic's Wake Tournament Round #9:

First Player: The Changeling

Current Stakes: 50

Gambling Skill Results:


  • Savalos: 23, two degrees of success.
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: Unknown Strength of Hand.
  • Trizo dol Soulard: Unknown Strength of Hand.
  • Jeremiah Blitz: Unknown Strength of Hand.
  • Wardja: 82, three degrees of failure.

Remaining Chips:

  • Jeremiah Blitz: 145
  • Wardja: 211
  • Savalos: 98
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: 313
  • Trizo dol Soulard: 73
  • Intelligencer Leprade: Eliminated
  • Jashar Dol Geim: Eliminated
  • Lady Cinzia: Eliminated
  • Keramiah Tor: Eliminated

Decision on the Draw is to Wardja and Savalos.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Deep in the Tertiary Fallow Fields.

The clerk and the clone say little more about this as they trudge through the fungus forest.

The detonation of the powerful bombs so near has caused spores to fly free; both those large as Vincent's fist from the caps above, and the much smaller variety from the fungal overgrowth that blankets the loamy ground. Dislodged, they float about in profusion, creating a dreamy, surreal feeling to their travels in the dim glow of the companion's lamp-packs. Although much of the agricultural mycoids are harmless, even in their unrefined state, Vincent makes certain both he and Ryuk keep their respirators firmly in place just the same.

There is still no sign of Launce or the two guardsmen, but Vincent is fairly certain that they are approaching the edge of the forest and the clearing where the guncutter is supposedly hidden. As the bizarre woodland begin to thin out, the smaller of the stalks swaying gently, he is reminded once again of the pines blanketing the hillsides outside of the forbidden schola on Sepheris Secundus. As he and Ryuk pass through another one of the long, ungrown spacing rows, he stops, the sounds of his breath rasping in his ears from the respirator. Ryuk senses it, too, and freezes, perfectly still, to listen.

Awareness test please, Vincent.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Electing to be certain he remains in the Tournament for the ninth and final round, Wardja stands, forcing the reveal.

The sonorous drone from the audience hushes in anticipation as the three remaining players reveal their hands.

Trizo reveals his cards first, and the hand is a good one, containing a strong Lesser Array anchored by The Conspirator. His tight-lipped grin is confident, and it takes Wardja a moment before he realizes his own hand is a shade better.

The acolyte must drop some tell, because Trizo's smile vanishes very quickly.

Blitz mutters a tired curse under his breath, flipping his own cards, and it is clear he was hoping to bully someone with his bluff. The hand is a weak one. He looks over to Wardja and shrugs, curious what his competitor holds.

Wardja's hand, comprised of two Lesser Arrays, firmed up with both The Cherubim and The Conspirator, is just enough to beat dol Soulard's formidable hand. The acolyte gamely tries to suppress his surprise and relief, while collecting his winnings into a pile that now rivals the stack in front of the Changeling.

Heretic's Wake Tournament Round #8, Final Results:

First Player: Savalos Thul

Current Stakes: 161, awarded to Wardja.

Gambling Skill Results:


  • Savalos: Folded
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: Folded
  • Trizo dol Soulard: 24, No Draw, three degrees of success.
  • Jeremiah Blitz: 85, failed by three degrees, Aggressive Draw, 35, one degree of success.
  • Wardja: 41, straight success, Aggressive Draw, 07, three degrees of success.

Remaining Chips:

  • Jeremiah Blitz: 155
  • Wardja: 221
  • Savalos: 108
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: 333
  • Trizo dol Soulard: 83
  • Intelligencer Leprade: Eliminated
  • Jashar Dol Geim: Eliminated
  • Lady Cinzia: Eliminated
  • Keramiah Tor: Eliminated

Wardja wins the round.

Wardja, Sav, feel free to roleplay any reactions to the result and then roll your Gambling skill test for the ninth and final round.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Deep in the Tertiary Fallow Fields.

"Vincent Sepheris wrote:
"Have you seen Launce?"

Ryuk shakes his head in the negative, and then sweeps his hooded eyes across their surroundings. He looks upon Vincent with some concern as the senior clerk begins to move gingerly about the small, smoldering clearing, but says nothing, merely following him as he begins to pick his way through the tall fungoid growth.

Vincent moves forward cautiously, Ryuk at his side, continuing in the direction of where the Inquisitorial guncutter is supposedly hidden. His sharp eyes look for signs of Launce or the guardsmen's passage, but finds no sign whatsoever.

The broad caps above block out what little light remains over Unduz II, and only the barest shafts of bruise-colored light penetrate to the loamy ground beneath them. Soon it will be full dark, and they will require lamp-packs to proceed. For now, they pick their way slowly through the tightly spaced stalks, their visibility limited save for when they cross one of the spacing rows in the fungoid forest. Here, where there are no plantings, it is as if someone has cut a perfectly straight path latitudinally through the growth, and they can see the bare patch continuing for some kilometers to either side as they pass through the meter wide gap.

Sound is strangely muffled under the organic baffles of the broad mushroom caps, and their footfalls sound deadened as they trudge ever forward. Fortunately, there is no sign of the walking dead, and it appears they have gained some respite in that respect at least. That is not to say that the oddly wooden creaking and settling of the stalks doesn't keep them alert and on guard, though. Vincent begins to lose track of how many times they freeze in place when one of the finger-sized spores drifts down across their peripheral vision from above. It is for this reason that he jumps when Ryuk speaks after an hours-long silence, his low, perfunctory voice cutting through the stillness like a knife.

"Launce---he does not belong here."

He pauses, overlong, as is his manner, and then continues, trying to express what he is thinking, carefully considering his words.

"He exists---he is as real as you or I, but he is without place. The Sight, it blurs around him, like ripples in a stream for a stone that is not there. He is outside of time. This troubles me."


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Wardja calls the considerable bet, sliding the markers into the ante, his eyes straying uneasily to the tiny statuette doppleganger by his elbow.

When the call comes to Thul, he elects to fold, pushing his face-down cards forward, having never looked at them in the first place.

The Changeling watches this, slides over its own unseen hand, and Juan Rico's raspy voice echoes that of his former friend.

"Fold."

Trizo dol Soulard grunts in wordless amusement, shaking his head in disbelief at the seemingly illogical gamesmanship of Thul and the Changeling ending like this. He tries to mask his puzzlement, but it is clear he cannot fathom the point of it all.

He stares across at Wardja, nodding. But refrains from raising further.

"Call."

The dealer turns his attention to Jeremiah Blitz, who looks back and forth between Trizo and Wardja, as if trying to measure their respective resolve like a miser assaying two commodities on his scale.

He inclines his head slight to one side.

"I will call as well."

As Wardja is the last in order this round of betting, the dealer looks to him to end the bidding by calling as well, or raise further and continue it.

Heretic's Wake Tournament Round #8:

First Player: Savalos Thul

Current Stakes: 161

Gambling Skill Results:


  • Savalos: Folded
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: Folded
  • Trizo dol Soulard: Unknown strength of hand
  • Jeremiah Blitz: Unknown strength of hand
  • Wardja: 41, straight success, Aggressive Draw, 07, three degrees of success.

Remaining Chips:

  • Jeremiah Blitz: 155
  • Wardja: 60
  • Savalos: 108
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: 333
  • Trizo dol Soulard: 83
  • Intelligencer Leprade: Eliminated
  • Jashar Dol Geim: Eliminated
  • Lady Cinzia: Eliminated
  • Keramiah Tor: Eliminated

Bid is to Wardja, or Call to end round.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl, Central Generatorium Chamber

Awareness test is successful, Kaltos.

Scanning the room while paying particular attention to their possible adversaries, Kaltos can see that all five of the men are armed. The suits with sleek-looking laspistols, the Yelloback thugs with handcannons of various patterns of manufacture.

The metallic stock of a long weapon, perhaps an autogun, is just barely visible jutting out from behind the lectern on the side the Yellobouros favor.

Perhaps because of the late stages of the Tournament of Cassilda in the Pinnacle of Pearl, there are no other occupants within the spacious chamber, the patrons likely riveted to the final rounds unfolding above.

Strangely, there is no sign of the Gran Pallazzar's casino security anywhere.

A series of four, ornate pillars of polished black marble buttress the the spherical curvature of the Pearl close enough to the door you stand behind to potentially serve as cover if the need arose, but other than their mirror-image at the far side of the chamber, there is no other protection to be had.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl, Central Generatorium Chamber

After overriding the door controls to the Generatorium, Kaltos uses one of his auxiliary electro-graft probes to cycle a scintilla of power to the machine spirit controlling them.

The door whispers, sliding open less than four centimeters. Moving his helmet to one side, he positions his ocular sensoria to look into the room beyond.

It is a profoundly large chamber, a wide, extended ellipse, with high walls of polished marble rising to a ceiling that curves strangely downward, comprised of a rainbow-hued, pearlescent material, as if the portion of a great sphere has been rested atop the inwardly curving walls. Several other doors stand in the circumference of the chamber, similar to the one he stands behind. A wide carpeted promenade, lit by glittering chandeliers extends from one 'tip' of the elliptical chamber, vast in scale, extending so far in the distance its terminus cannot be seen.

Centrally located in this room is a massive stairwell, wide steps of the same nacreous material spiraling almost nautilus-like upward to the ceiling. An unoccupied lectern of opulently polished black Unduz shellwood stands at its base. Standing around it are five armed men, two of them clean-cut, wearing form-fitting, anonymous black suits favored by the bodyguards of the wealthy, seemingly attentive to the microbeads lodged in their ears. The other three could not be more different, clad in mismatched black and gold leathers, stitched and decorated with so many gleaming gelt-coins that they almost seem to be wearing primitive chain armor. Their faces are more surly, pursed and pierced with the same coins, tattoos and brands marring their pale flesh. The two groups stand slightly apart, but it is obvious they are guarding the approach to the Pinnacle of Pearl above under the same directive.

Kaltos, please attempt an Awareness test.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Uriah watches anxiously from the gallery above as the final five players take their turns bidding below, Tikeen sitting quietly beside him, both of the psykers sensing the burgeoning feeling of dread as the tournament moves inexorably toward its conclusion.

He feels a brush of cloth against the sleeve of his robe, and when he turns his head slightly to see what caused it, he senses a figure standing just behind him in the aisle.

Looking behind him, he sees Iacton standing solemnly at his back, as quiet and still as death itself, the hood of his cloak pulled over his brooding features, casting them in shadow.

"Uriah Trantor, I have returned."


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Deep in the Tertiary Fallow Fields.

Vincent, Fate Point expended, Dodge test is successful.

For a long while, the world is a deafening roar; a black curtain with a sensation of scalding heat all around him. Vincent is not entirely certain how long his lapse into unconsciousness lasted, but when he finally finds the will to open his heavy eyelids, he sees a strange sight.

His face rests awkwardly in the rich, loamy earth at the base of a towering fungoid 'tree', his nostrils filled with the distinct, spoiled fruit smell of mushrooms. Tilting his cheek away from the stalk, he peers straight up, marveling at the curving length of rusting blade protruding from the trunk of the stalk several meters above him. He realizes it is the corroded chit-sickle that once rested in the field he was propelled from.

When he pushes himself upright against the bore of the tall fungoid, his head swims, nausea of a different kind than what he has endured since fleeing the claustrum causing him to slump vertiginously. Looking around his immediate surroundings with partially blurred vision, he sees more of the densely clustered fungal trees all around him, their caps overlapping to creat a thick canopy high overhead. The wash of heat blows toward him on a foul-smelling breeze, and it is clear by the tall wall of flames consuming some of the fallow field, engulfing caps and stalks alike, that this is likely the direction he came from.

Feeling his aching legs and sore arms, he is remarkably relieved to find that despite some painful bruising, nothing appears to be broken or dislocated.

As his eyes slowly come back into focus, he first spies the rifle, liberated from the Inquisitorial Solitarium in the bowels of the claustrum, wedged, barrel-first, deep into the rich black earth. Girding himself in expectation of the pain to come, he pulls himself slowly to his feet, wincing with the effort. Staggering over to retrieve the rifle, he blindly feels at his waist for the Sliver of Calyx, relieved to find it still secured at his belt.

His steps are halting, but he finally reaches the rifle, only to jump back in surprise and disgust when the pale root, or mycelia, he believed he was stepping over suddenly writhes into motion. With a look of profound disgust he sees that it is actually the balefully animated severed limb of one of the plague zombies, scratching and dragging itself across the earth with a ruined, three-fingered hand. Vincent easily maneuvers around it, plucking the rifle from the ground, before slinging it again over his shoulder.

It is at that moment that a tall figure pushes through the still smoldering fungoids, striding forward ominously through the flame-dancing shadows. He reaches for the saber at his belt, only to watch as the figure shrugs off a tattered cloak, smoldering at the shoulders, its hem still alight. Seeing the bodyglove beneath, Vincent sighs with relief as Ryuk walks purposefully forward, witching blade in hand, seemingly unfazed by their brush with death.

The strange cloned psyker from Dusk pauses a few paces from Vincent, his largely guileless face creased in concern.

"Vincent, are you harmed?"

He pauses a beat before saying, rather matter-of-factly, "Eh. Your eyebrows are gone."

Vincent, there is no sign of Launce or the guardsmen where you presently are in the fallow field. Please let me know your intentions.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Yes, sorry Wardja, looks like I forgot to update my Round summary for both your rolls on the Draw, here is the updated accounting.

Heretic's Wake Tournament Round #8:

First Player: Savalos Thul

Current Stakes: 116

Gambling Skill Results:


  • Savalos: 95, failed by four degrees, Aggressive Draw, 37, one degree of success.
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: Unknown strength of hand
  • Trizo dol Soulard: Unknown strength of hand
  • Jeremiah Blitz: Unknown strength of hand
  • Wardja: 41, straight success, Aggressive Draw, 07, three degrees of success.

Remaining Chips:

  • Jeremiah Blitz: 155
  • Wardja: 105
  • Savalos: 108
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: 333
  • Trizo dol Soulard: 83
  • Intelligencer Leprade: Eliminated
  • Jashar Dol Geim: Eliminated
  • Lady Cinzia: Eliminated
  • Keramiah Tor: Eliminated

Bid is to Savalos Thul, as first player.

Wardja peruses his cards again, and considers his options.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Savalos Thul wrote:

I finally turn to Leprade after he has had time to think and sulk.

"Your hand is empty, you played your bottom chip. Your allies quiet says everything. I offer you a fresh card. Now its up to you. Make your choice."

Putting in the final wedge that I can play. And hopefully Leprade will side with us and give us knowledge we seek before he meets his fate.

Leprade glares back at Savalos, now seated well back from the table, but he speaks loudly and clearly enough for everyone to hear.

"A second chance? You are more naive than I thought, Thul. There are no second chances, there is no choice, everything has been building to this point in time far longer than you or I have drawn breath. You know this. You must know this from what you have experienced. Krade? This abomination here? Perhaps your master himself..."

He shakes his head solemnly, an intelligent man consigning himself to his fate.

"No, there are no second chances, we are but puppets on a string."


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Trade (Soothsayer) test is successful, Savalos has a preternatural sense of his unseen cards strength of hand, and can play his hand accordingly.

Raising one chip following the Draw, Savalos first regards Trizo, who maintains his obdurate posture, and then the Changeling, whose transformation from mercurial provocateur to icily silent is as sudden as it is ominous.

The daemonhost slowly closes its brilliantly blue eyes in Rico's face, a seemingly deliberate and pointed reminder of the man whose skin it now wears, intended to subtly incite the emotions of those who once knew him. The Changeling then idly fingers the prodigious stack of markers, thumbs gliding over each of their nine sides.

Its voice is low rasp, "I will call the wager; and raise eighteen more."

When the daemonhost removes its hypnotically moving hands away from the stacked chips it has been playing with, Savalos and Wardja can both see that they are now arrayed in nine tall stacks of exactly thirty-seven chips each.

The creature turns to Trizo expectantly.

The Yellobouros gang-boss sighs, seemingly exasperated by what is happening. He looks at the raise and shrugs, tossing in nineteen chips of his own before pushing across an imposing stack to raise. He counts them as he pushes the seemingly random pile, with an air of nonchalance and irritation that he means to end this bizarre little game the acolyte and the daemon are playing.

"Call, and raise, what is this---twenty seven!"

The Changeling smiles.

The dealer then turns to the rogue trader, who, despite largely being outside of what is perhaps transpiring here, seems to sense that what he does next might carry serious implications, game or no game.

"I---I will--"

He regards first Savalos, then the Changeling, and lastly Trizo, who stares at him with a pronounced impatience and an obvious leer of dislike that borders on the pathological.

"Call."

He pushes forward fourty-five of his own markers, and something about the architecture of the growing stack before him makes him almost immediately regretful as the dealer turns to Wardja.

He lets out a low sigh, as if sensing he might have made a misstep with consequences far beyond the obvious.

Heretic's Wake Tournament Round #8:

First Player: Savalos Thul

Current Stakes: 116

Gambling Skill Results:


  • Savalos: 95, failed by four degrees
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: Unknown strength of hand
  • Trizo dol Soulard: Unknown strength of hand
  • Jeremiah Blitz: Unknown strength of hand
  • Wardja: 41, straight success

Remaining Chips:

  • Jeremiah Blitz: 155
  • Wardja: 105
  • Savalos: 108
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: 333
  • Trizo dol Soulard: 83
  • Intelligencer Leprade: Eliminated
  • Jashar Dol Geim: Eliminated
  • Lady Cinzia: Eliminated
  • Keramiah Tor: Eliminated

Note: I added 17 chips to the Changeling's total, I missed adding these chips to the total after Leprade's raise before the end of last round.

Call of 45, and option to raise is to Wardja.

Savalos has to call 44 of that himself, and the Changeling 27 (plus whatever Wardja might raise) once it comes back to them before raising themselves.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Seemingly without knowing his hand at all, Savalos Thul, returns it all for an Aggressive Draw, eliciting more confused murmurs from the riveted crowd.

When the dealer turns to the Changeling, the daemon follows suit, never examining its hand, and instead delicately sliding two cards across the table for replacements. It lays Rico's broad-fingered hand across these possessively, but does not pick them up.

Trizo dol Soulard grunts in derision, clearly having had enough of this nonsense, although his arrogantly confident visage shows some perturbation and unease now. He idly glances back at his pet witch, before waving off a Draw of any kind. He glances from Thul to the Changeling, endeavoring, like the audience, to unmask the significance of their bizarre mummer's farce.

Blitz seems outwardly collected, but the pressure of the endgame is beginning to make itself felt even in his roguish gaze. His good-natured banter and pointed barbs have been replaced with silence and focus. He pauses, one finger held in the air, and then smoothly brushes several cards forward in his own Aggressive draw. He collects his placards and mimics Thul and the Changeling's mystical legerdemain by placing one hand flat across the top of them, before grinning and winking at the crowd, and lifting them close to his face. He chuckles wryly at this, and some of the tension is defused, as the crowd laughs nervously with him.

Wardja, more on instinct, tosses in most of his hand, following Blitz down the Aggressive path, and being rewarded quite handsomely for the risk.

The dealer makes his expansive sweeping gesture again, and points to Thul for his bid.

Before the acolyte can answer, Trizo breaks the pensive silence of his deliberation.

"Take a look, Thul. I know you want to."

He gazes derisively at the Changeling, the cold contempt in his voice like a master referring to his chattel.

"It is a capering fool, madness incarnate, enslaved to its own folly. You give it more credit than it deserves. There is no reason you should throw your own hopes away so frivolously by playing the understudy; hell, you might even still win."

Trizo's tone, full of scorn, belie his own words, making it clear what he really thinks the likelihood of this happening is.

Savalos, a Trade (Soothsayer) test again please to gauge your hand if you choose not to look at it. Assume you know what you hold if you succeed---otherwise...

Please give you intention to raise or call either way, after the roll.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Edge of the Tertiary Fallow Fields.

Vincent, Agility test is unsuccessful, Logic test is successful.

The gaunt senior clerk of Ylesium Claustrum feels the aches in his legs, the burning stitch in his side, and the strength-sapping, exhausting effect of pronounced dehydration despite the effects of his environmental bodyglove (which seems like nothing more than a pinching, rubberized second skin at this point in his flight). Ryuk, despite years of imprisonment, is an impeccable physical specimen, and Vincent can tell he is slowing his pace deliberately to keep in stride parallel to him. Launce moves well despite the weight of his Mechanicus implants, and the two guardsman flee for their lives with the practical knowledge of just what terror both a horde of ravenous, cannibal-corpses and a tactical air strike can deliver.

Flagging, Vincent allows himself to consider for a moment letting it all end, here and now, despite the crucible he has been put through to this point. In all likelihood, were he to fall to his knees now, he would be spared being devoured alive by the apocalyptic outcome of the munitions falling, either the shrapnel or blast wave. It is almost a comforting thought. Ryuk seems to read this in his countenance, and Vincent feels a pang of guilt, suspecting---no, knowing---that the cloned psyker would simply stop and stay with him, oblivious to the end that would befall him because of such dogged loyalty to a man he barely knows. Who is to say even that Ryuk's death, this fleshly copy of the Prisoner, the Warp-corrupted Inquisitorial acolyte that precipitated this entire calamity, would necessarily be a bad thing? What if Ryuk is merely a precursor, destined to become as tainted and ineffably evil as his source? So many questions, so many niggling doubts, too many...

Vincent stumbles and nearly falls, and it is this tiny physical misstep that brings him back to his senses, like a splash of cold water upon his sweat-drenched brow. The adrenaline pumps through him, perhaps his last reserves, and he pumps his legs as fast as his exhausted body will allow, hoping against hope it is enough. Ryuk mouths something soundlessly to him, all of his words, all other noise, drowned out by the screaming of the Marauder bombers diving out of the purple-black tropical sky on their final approach to their target.

Logic test is successful, further information and the advantage it confers, follows below.

With a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of Imperial Guard tactics, aircraft, munitions, and combat doctrine, simply part and parcel to the accumulation of an eidetic mind's daily exposure to such things through his one-time vocation, Vincent knows that the targeting salient for the ordinance drop will likely be the end of the drainage canal and the ruined truck, where the endless horde of undead are thickest. Even though the fungoid tree-line is within a minute's sprint, he knows the specifications, weights, yield, and burst signature of the Hellstorm Mark IV bombs the craft likely carry, and the fiery death it will bring. The blast wave could very well be enough to kill them if they don't drop to the ground now.

As he watches the others reach the treeline, he yells for Ryuk to fall, and he collapses to the ground, just meters shy of the flimsy cover provided by the bamboo-like fungal stalks. The shrill whine of the falling bombs is followed by the sweeping rush of air as the craft zoom low, overhead, outrunning their tumbling munitions, before flying off with a tooth-shaking rumble, scant meters above the fungoid-forest. So close are they, he can make out the closing bomb-bay doors as the aircraft pirouette back into the bruised sky. The whining grows ever louder, and despite all good sense, he risks a look back as Ryuk falls atop him. He can see the ordinance flashing out of the sky, impacting just behind the turtled water truck in the very midst of the unending legion of plague zombies.

A sound like the Emperor's Hammer falling upon this mortal world deafens him almost immediately, the impact lifting the very earth beneath him as if it was punched by titanic hands beneath. The overpressure from the incoming blast wave makes him scream, jaw tensing tightly in a desperate attempt at relief, before it fully strikes he and Ryuk like a tsunami of force, flinging them into the air like chaffs of fungoid at the mercy of a chit-sickle. As he spins through the air, Vincent can see a blisteringly red mountain of fire erupting from the ground, a holocaust of concentrated promethium and high explosives combining to incinerate the army of tainted once-men that even now turn numbly to face their reckoning. In mid-flight, just before he closes his eyes and is blinded by the light, Vincent can see that most of the undead are reduced instantaneously to ash, or, for those somewhat past the truck, ripped apart like fleshy kindling and hurled into the air as he and Ryuk.

Strangely calm, Vincent closes his eyes, even as he is launched airborne several meters in a ballistic trajectory for the one-time sanctuary that was the treeline. Not one to pray, he takes solace from the fact his fate is no longer in his own hands, and he has done all he can to survive. A restful quietude fills him as his rag-doll body rips through the sheltering growth of the fallow field.

Vincent, please attempt a Routine [+20] Dodge skill test, an advantage gained from the successful Logistic test informing you on your best course of action during the bombardment.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Soothsayer test is successful, Savalos.

Without even looking at the cards, Savalos Thul knows his hand is worthless as he runs his palm slowly over them. It is nothing so mystical as psychometry or other latent psychic ability that reveals this to him, as it is a deep, abiding feeling that he has been here before, a deja vu that is so powerful it brooks no rational argument. He cannot help but glance at the Changeling, wondering if its malign influence exudes this bizarre sense in him, or if its source is something else, perhaps some remnant of his time spent with K'lei'eth at the Wellspring of E'auvennade.

With Savalos electing not to raise, the dealer sweeps his hand across the table to mark the end of the First Player's exclusive opportunity to bid in the opening round.

He then turns his attention to Savalos again upon the Draw.

Savalos, assuming you are going to make an Aggressive Draw, please provide another Gambling skill test. Wardja may also post his decision on the Draw as well if he chooses to do so, even though his turn to do so would normally be last in this round (metagame-wise, I'll reveal the rest of the players are all remaining in the game for the Draw to save an extraneous post).


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Heretic's Wake Tournament Round #8:

First Player: Savalos Thul

Current Stakes: 5

Gambling Skill Results:


  • Savalos: 95, failed by four degrees
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: Unknown strength of hand
  • Trizo dol Soulard: Unknown strength of hand
  • Jeremiah Blitz: Unknown strength of hand
  • Wardja: 41, straight success

Remaining Chips:

  • Jeremiah Blitz: 200
  • Wardja: 105
  • Savalos: 109
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: 335
  • Trizo dol Soulard: 129
  • Intelligencer Leprade: Eliminated
  • Jashar Dol Geim: Eliminated
  • Lady Cinzia: Eliminated
  • Keramiah Tor: Eliminated

Bid is to Savalos Thul, as first player.

An expectant silence settles over the tournament patrons in the gallery as the placards are dealt again for the eighth and penultimate round of the tournament. The expert cardsharps amongst them following the match with rapt interest, living vicariously with each turn of hand, while the wealthy bettors with a horse still in the race urge on their predicted champions with bated breath.

The table seems sparse now; expansive and barren without the eliminated players and their markers present, a midnight blue gulf separating the surviving contestants, sitting like paranoid kings behind tall, ramshackle fortresses of teetering chips.

Savalos does not even glance at his cards as they are dealt to him, allowing the hand to remain face-down atop the table like a challenge to Trizo, an oblique insult that oddly buoys the acolyte's confidence. Had he any sense at all of how poor his hand was, perhaps his thin-lipped smirk would be less confident, but it somehow feels right, just the same. There is one advantage at the very least: no one could possibly read any tell he might unconsciously let slip if he himself was oblivious to what he now holds.

Savalos, please attempt a Trade (Soothsayer) skill test, success will grant you a 'sense' of what you now hold without lifting a single card.

The Changeling, all traces of diabolical mirth now gone, simply leaves the cards where they fall, like Savalos/ The daemon is clearly playing for keeps now.

Trizo watches this baffling display with irritable incredulity, his clenched jaw sliding back and forth as if chewing on something he clearly doesn't like. He peruses his own cards with the all the revelation one would garner from watching an especially disinterested sphinx.

Blitz, back in the tournament again, chuckles at the gamesmanship, but prefers to examine his cards a trifle more closely than his rivals. He peers at the hand with the impassiveness of a man browsing nothing more exciting than a transcribed vox directory.

Wardja regards his cards solemnly, finding himself with a passable hand, nothing close to spectacular, but perhaps something to build upon.

The dealer gestures to Savalos for an opening bid or call.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Edge of the Tertiary Fallow Fields.

Agility test successful, Vincent.

Pulling with all of their might, the psyker and Launce finally manage to overcome the sucking mire's pull on Vincent, yanking him free.

Seconds later the sergeant hauls his last surviving charge to the lip of the muddy ground, and the bedraggled companions begin moving at a loping run away from the water truck toward the fallow fungoid-forest, just as the swarming undead surge around either side of the doomed vehicle. Ryuk keeps pace with the winded clerk, eerie blade in hand, while the tech-priest urges on the guardsmen, even as the roaring in the sky grows louder and louder, loud enough now to begin drowning out the relentless moans of their pursuers.

With his head bobbing wildly from the breakneck run to the shelter promised at the edge of the field, Vincent feels the powerful overpressure exerted on his eardrums as whatever manner of atmospheric craft flying in from above exceeds the sound barrier, provoking a series of resounding booms from the bruise colored skies over Unduz II. This is followed by the pitched whines of the aircraft as they begin a steep dive, their target acquired.

Vincent, please attempt another Challenging [+0] Agility test, and a Routine [+20] Logic skill test. My presumption is you will attempt to outrun the much slower plague zombies to the fungoid-treeline, just let me know if you are looking back/pacing yourself as you do so or if you will commit fully to a full-out sprint.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Edge of the Tertiary Fallow Fields.

Agility test is unsuccessful, Vincent.

As his mind quickly correlates what he is hearing with what it must be, Vincent signals to the others and leaps down, but his momentum does not carry him far enough, and he lands with a thick, wet, squelch of sucking mud, sinking into the mire to nearly the tops of his knees.

As he struggles to free himself, he watches the sergeant easily leap the gap to dry ground, followed by Launce, whose anti-grav coils allow his maglev guided descent to just clear the churned muck at the base of the overturned truck.

The still-addled guardsman with the respirator leaps next, reaching further than Vincent, but still falling prone in the slop when he loses his footing while landing. Ryuk bounds easily across the slough of mud, landing lightly on his feet near the sergeant. He and the tech-priest immediately begin reaching for Vincent, one with the hilt of his blade, the other with a utility mechadendrite, while the sergeant lays out his deactivated chainsword for his comrade to grab.

Vincent sees the first of the staggering undead rounding the truck from either side, moaning and churning through the muck around the perimeter of the flooded ground. It will only be a matter of moments before they are completely encircled.

The roar of the approaching aircraft grows ever louder.

Vincent, please attempt a Routine [+20] Agility test to free yourself from the mud, this normally would have been a Challenging [+0] skill test, but its difficulty is lowered by the fact that both Ryuk and Launce are attempting to Assist you. The consequence of failure will be the continuation of combat, as several plague zombies will have surrounded you, preventing you from disengaging and running away.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

After an acceptable delay that only serves to further heighten the tension at the table, Wardja chides Leprade:

'Swinthosa Wardja' wrote:
"The Concordium states, 'He who serves the Hegemony will be rewarded.' I am firm in my faith regarding my master. Can you say the same? From here, Intelligencer, it seems you are man of doubt. Doubt in your master, doubt in your actions, doubt even in that petty hand you hide. Remember, Officer Leprade, that payment always comes with interest."

One look at Leprade's clenched jaw, penetrating gaze, and defiant posture leaves little doubt in Wardja's mind that he will not back down. No, it is clear that there is simply far too much at stake for him at this juncture.

Oddly enough, despite his stoic silence throughout this round, he now elects to say something, making certain he pins Wardja with his washed-out, jade colored eyes before speaking.

"Your words, arbitrator, even with your expertly acted bluster, are laden with more truth than even you suspect. So, I insist you remember them, so you can reflect upon their delicious irony on the day you realize just where it is your precious faith in your master has delivered you."

Savalos adds his chips without saying anything, and Leprade stares hatefully at the daemonhost. The Changeling seems to relish the moment, meeting the Intelligencer's eyes with something akin to cold satisfaction, all mirthful gamesmanship absent from Johnnie's dark, craggy features. For a moment, Savalos can almost believe it is his old friend looking back, where it not for the pitiless blue eyes. He remembers how the creature within dominated Waldrimm, yet was subsumed just the same by the mere mortal's twisted obsession with his mother. Perhaps Rico's grudge against his one-time rival, the man who nearly ruined him, is still alive and well.

The daemon's demeanor is almost dignified now, coldly regal and matching or exceeding Leprade's intensity.

He calls, pushing his chips forward.

With Leprade having nothing further with which to raise, the dealer signals for the reveal, Wardja showing a strong hand that is just as quickly trumped by Savalos' Greater Array. When it comes time for the Changeling to show his hand, he smiles ruefully at Leprade.

"Ah, Intelligencer Leprade, of all the players in this great game, I must commend you on your insight, as you are perhaps the first to come to this revelation with any measure of true understanding---it makes it more the shame that your time among us is almost at its end."

He flips his unseen cards, one after the other, revealing a nigh-perfect Greater Array of his own, championed by the Daemon, just enough to best Savalos.

It is immediately clear that Leprade is beaten, he gently folds his hand face-up on the midnight blue felt, showing a third Great Array of the round, a nigh-impossibility given all the possible permutations of Heretic's Wake hands. It ranks better than Thul's showing, but falls just short of matching the daemon's hand. An agonizing defeat that is reflected in the crowd's low, sympathetic murmur.

The look of utter, desolate, resigned defeat on the man's face shakes even the jaded acolytes, who know deep in their hearts that the Intelligencer has lost far more than this stake in the tournament by his elimination.

With quiet dignity, he pushes his chair away from the table, looking at no one, even as Trizo dol Soulard regards him with a glance of irritable consternation.

The dealer sweeps the chips to the Changeling, collects the placards, and begins dealing a fresh hand.

Heretic's Wake Tournament Round #7, Final Results:

First Player: Swinthosa Wardja

Current Stakes: 297

Gambling Skill Results:


  • Wardja: 15, three degrees of success, Conservative Draw successful, now four degrees of success.
  • Savalos: 07, four degrees of success.
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: Aggressive Draw, 4, five degrees of success.
  • Trizo dol Soulard: Folded.
  • Intelligencer Leprade: 5, four degrees of success.
  • Jeremiah Blitz: Folded.

Remaining Chips:

  • Jeremiah Blitz: 201
  • Wardja: 106
  • Savalos: 110
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: 336
  • Trizo dol Soulard: 130
  • Intelligencer Leprade: Eliminated
  • Jashar Dol Geim: Eliminated
  • Lady Cinzia: Eliminated
  • Keramiah Tor: Eliminated

The Changeling wins the round.

Following your reactions to the result of this hand, Wardja, Savalos, please provide me with a Gambling skill test for Round #8, the penultimate round of the Heretic's Wake Tournament.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl, Central Generatorium Chamber

Kaltos, Ivaanov, and Kotts emerge from the narrow damper corridor into a large, circular chamber, brimming with holy devices blessed by the Omnissiah for the sacred task of energy production. The hot air in the dimly-lit generatorium crackles with static-filled discharges between the massive machine's roaring rotors, making things deafening in the pathways between the various components.

Kaltos examines the large capacitors with a unconscious vocational appreciation, and the trio wends their way through the heart of the Pinnacle of Pearl's power production until they reach an unassuming metal door, that, according to Dunkan's schematics, exits into a short service corridor, limned with sound-nullifying baffles, connecting to the lower stair foyer leading up to the Pearl, above.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Edge of the Tertiary Fallow Fields.

Hit, damage is sufficient to destroy the plague zombie in a blow.

Vincent does not hesitate, swinging the shining saber in hacking overhand arc that just misses the newly born plague zombie's head, slicing instead diagonally through the clavicle at the neck and deep into the thing's chest, the pulsing power field of the weapon carving through the flak armor with almost no resistance.

The Warp-spawned abomination, only a few desperate seconds ago a living breathing man, is effectively sliced in half. The stocky figure tumbles in two halves off of the side of the tanker truck to the mud below.

Vincent's eyes dart to the sergeant, who still holds his buzzing chainsword raised high overhead, and the one-time senior clerk of Ylesium Claustrum realizes that the officer would not have hesitated a moment in his own swing at his former friend. Vincent merely beat him to it. The haunted hollows of the man's eyes speak to just what he has gone through to bring him to this point, however.

Over the whine of the chainblade, the sergeant turns and looks at Vincent, a perplexed look coming over his face.

"Do you hear that?"

Vincent thinks he can now. A deep, resonant roar, high in the sky, a sound the claustrum's Aerie hangar bays has made him intimately familiar with over his many years on Unduz II. A sound that serves as the harbinger of powerful atmospheric aircraft.

Launce's head pivots to follow the noise, as Ryuk hefts the masked guardsman to his feet.

Looking out over the hundred upon hundreds of slavering undead swarming out of the irrigation canal, surging in their direction, Vincent cannot help but wonder what a tempting target they might make.

I'm assuming you still intend to make for the fallow fungal forest, Vincent, just let me know how you intend to get down from the truck, and what you will direct the others to do.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Wardja:
Wardja please see the OOC post regarding your ability to Assist Savalos on this roll.

Savalos, Deceive = 42, -20 (Hard Test), reduced to -10 (Difficult) for Wardja's Assistance, modified TN = 32, straight failure. As the test didn't succeed, Wardja's Assistance yields no advantage.

Leprade's gaze meets Savalos with a flash of jaded enmity, his lip twitching with a curl of bald contempt, seemingly incredulous that Thul would attempt such gamesmanship at this point in the tournament. His resolve never wavers, and he looks to be a man who knows precisely how much is riding on his commitment to the hand.

"Raise."

He irritably flicks through his chips, counting them out, before sweeping them demonstratively into the middle of the table, his irritation bubbling over into an actual outburst.

"Seventeen."

"All in."

He grits his teeth, glowering at Wardja and Thul and the pair cannot help but sense the turmoil in the man, the growing desperation on his features. As if he knows somehow that far more is at stake than a simple card game.

Raise of 17 to Wardja and Savalos.

Heretic's Wake Tournament Round #7:

First Player: Swinthosa Wardja

Current Stakes: 263

Gambling Skill Results:


  • Wardja: 15, three degrees of success, Conservative Draw successful, now four degrees of success.
  • Savalos: 07, four degrees of success.
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: Unknown strength of hand
  • Trizo dol Soulard: Folded.
  • Intelligencer Leprade: Likely strong hand.
  • Jeremiah Blitz: Folded.

Remaining Chips:

  • Jeremiah Blitz: 201
  • Wardja: 123
  • Savalos: 127
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: 56
  • Trizo dol Soulard: 130
  • Intelligencer Leprade: 0
  • Jashar Dol Geim: Eliminated
  • Lady Cinzia: Eliminated
  • Keramiah Tor: Eliminated

Raise of 17 from Leprade.


Sav, Wardja:
Just as a reminder, here is the link to the Heretic's Wake Gameplay post from OOC. You might want to use every option remaining at your disposal now that we are nearing the climax of the Tournament.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Savalos Thul wrote:

I can't help but laugh.

"Well Intelligencer, if you're right it will gain you 17 more throne, and I will be a bit poorer. If... But if I am right, you are out of cards. All that sits before me is false resolve, and bluster."

Not sure if that would be an Inquiry or Deceive test for my part? Trying to see if I can make him crack under the pressure of the hand.

Savalos, if you wish to push Leprade into a fold, it can be attempted through one of two ways; either using an Intimidate skill test, using force of personality and certain knowledge of a strong hand to cow your opponent into submission, or through Deceive, by tricking your opponent through a convincing bluff or by forcing doubt into his mind, weakening his resolve. Both are Hard [-20] skill tests in this case, opposed by Leprade's Scrutiny. It is a Hard test because the Intelligencer is already backed into a corner, with only 17 chips remaining to meet the most recent raise. In other words, getting him to fold at this point is difficult, as he is pretty much at the end of his rope in the tournament anyway. If this round doesn't go his way, that is.

Intelligencer Leprade stares down Savalos as he speaks, betraying nothing, his visage set, and rigidly unreadable.

The dealer turns to the Changeling as this contest of wills takes place, and the daemonhost eagerly pushes his own chips forward.

Chortling to itself, it watches with barely constrained mirth as the dealer next turns to Trizo.

The gang-lord tries his best to ignore the daemon's laughter, but it is clear that the glowering anger in the man is fast returning, goaded on by the Changeling's mind games. He glances to Leprade, then back to Savalos and for the first time in the tournament appears vaguely uncertain. The raise is a steep one, it seems.

He favors the daemon with a final, furious glare, itself promising some punishment yet delivered upon, and with a disgusted flick of his hand, folds.

The dealer then turns to Leprade.

I'll await the outcome of your skill test before proceeding, Sav.

Heretic's Wake Tournament Round #7:

First Player: Swinthosa Wardja

Current Stakes: 246

Gambling Skill Results:


  • Wardja: 15, three degrees of success, Conservative Draw successful, now four degrees of success.
  • Savalos: 07, four degrees of success.
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: Unknown strength of hand
  • Trizo dol Soulard: Folded.
  • Intelligencer Leprade: Likely strong hand.
  • Jeremiah Blitz: Folded.

Remaining Chips:

  • Jeremiah Blitz: 201
  • Wardja: 123
  • Savalos: 127
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: 56
  • Trizo dol Soulard: 130
  • Intelligencer Leprade: 17
  • Jashar Dol Geim: Eliminated
  • Lady Cinzia: Eliminated
  • Keramiah Tor: Eliminated

Raise of 20 Leprade, waiting on skill test from Sav.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Edge of the Tertiary Fallow Fields.

As Vincent reaches down to aid the babbling, pleading guardsman, he hears Launce's modulated voice shout loudly from behind him, "No, DO NOT TOUCH HIM!"

The terrible intensity behind the tech-priest's words make Vincent hesitate, and he takes a quick step backward as the wounded guardsman begins to quiver and shake, his arms hanging slack at his sides where he is seated awkwardly atop the curve of the tanker truck. His knuckles begin to rattle spasmodically upon the metal surface, his head lolling back limply, and the putrid ichor begins to spurt again from the wound on his face, which has gone ghastly pale; web-worked with a tracery of dull black blood vessels, burst beneath his skin. Only the whites of the man's eyes now show, leaking an awful, rusty colored fluid that stinks of decay. His stuttering, pleading words have changed to become unintelligible grunts and croaks, until finally, they sound like nothing more than a low, continuous groan.

Most horrifyingly of all, it happened so quickly.

The former guardsman scrabbles to his feet, perhaps emboldened by the hungry moans of his kindred swarming around the base of the tanker truck, and lurches toward Vincent and the sergeant.

It is still your action, Vincent.

Let me know how you wish to proceed. Given the proximity of the newly born plague zombie atop the truck, it would prove perilous to scamper down on the far side of the water truck (a Disengage action that would result in a Climb action to descend would still provoke a free Standard Attack from the plague zombie on yourself or the sergeant, a Disengage action to jump down on the far side of the truck will not provoke a Standard Attack, but could come with other perils). At a glance, Vincent can clearly see waiting overlong (beyond one more round) atop the truck will almost certainly end up with the companions being surrounded atop the truck as the zombies forming the closest hordes spread out. The final complication is the gas-masked guardsman, who still lies dazed on Ryuk's side of the vehicle.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Edge of the Tertiary Fallow Fields.

Salt Sown on Fallow Fields
Round #15
Battlemap

Conditions:

  • Each Square = 1 meter

  • All squares adjacent to the overturned water truck are considered difficult terrain, swampy mud caused by the spill from the rupture in the vehicle. All movement rates in these squares are halved, attempts at Running or Charging movement in these squares are considered Treacherous Terrain: Mud, requiring a successful Challenging [+0] Agility test or the character falls Prone.

  • The massive Plague Zombie Horde [80] in the irrigation canal pursues relentlessly. Each round following the first round, the press of undead bodies on the walls of the culvert allows a portion of the horde to climb up on to the pasturage field. This is represented by the appearance of a Plague Zombie Horde [5] appearing in a square adjacent to the end of the irrigation canal. This occurs on the Plague Zombie [80]'s Initiative count each round after the first round, and is cumulative, with two Plague Zombie Horde [5] opponents appearing on the second round, and so on throughout the encounter, with each group leaving the culvert further diminishing the larger horde until all of the zombies are free of the canal.

  • The smaller Plague Zombie horde [20], is cumulatively represented by the five Plague Zombie horde [20] counters on the battlemap. This in effect represents the spread-out nature of the zombies impeding the companions advance to the Tertiary Fallow Field beyond. Each can be considered a still smaller Horde of Magnitude 4, but all five must be destroyed to completely eliminate the possibility of being attacked by solitary, wandering zombies independent of the Horde (see below).

  • As the initial Plague Zombie Horde [20] was eliminated, there is no longer any chance of them appearing by chance.

  • Both the overturned water truck and the disabled harvester can be climbed upon with a successful Routine [+20] Climb test. While atop either of the two vehicles, characters are safe from zombie attack until such time as the zombies can clamber up. Similarly to the irrigation canal, zombie hordes adjacent to the vehicles for one full round will begin breaking up in their attempts to reach the characters, with one zombie from the horde climbing up each round, until the entire horde has climbed on to the vehicle.

  • All is not as grim as it appears, whenever Vincent enters a new square, he has the option of attempting either a Challenging [+0] Awareness, Logic (expended), Forbidden Lore (Daemonology) (expended), or Search skill test. Each skill test can only be attempted once during the course of the encounter. A successful skill test will yield an advantage to the companions with an efficacy dictated by how many degrees of success were gained on the test.

Initiative Order

13-Guardsman with Stubber, J11
12-Vincent, J11
12-Guardsman Sergeant, J11
12-Launce, J10, Reloading Flamer.
11-Plague Zombie Horde [15] and spawned Horde [5] x2, Hordes [10] x 1, and Hordes [15] x2
05-Ryuk, J10.
05-Guardsman Lasgunner, J10

Weapons Loadouts:

Ryuk:

Weapons:

  • Combat Shotgun (Vincent Using): Unproficient, 1d10+4/Impact/Pen=0/30m/S-3-*/Clip 16/Reload=Full/Scatter/Ammo 6 Clips
  • Good Quality Las Pistol: Unproficient, 1d10+2/Energy/Pen=0/30m/S-*-*/Clip 30/Reload=Full/Reliable/Ammo: 5 Hotshot Charge Packs
  • Hand Flamer: Unproficient, 1d10+4/Energy/Pen=2/10m/S-*-*/Clip 2 (now 0)/Reload=2-Full/Flame/Ammo: 2 Promethium Flasks
  • Dusk Witching Blade (Best Quality Force Sword): 1d10+8/Rending/Pen=3/Balanced, Best Quality (+10 to WS, +1 to damage), Sanctified.
  • Grenades, Frag (3)
  • Grenades, Krak (4)

Armor: Hardened Environmental Bodyglove (4 AP All Locations)

Psychic Powers (Psy Rating=3):

  • Biolightning, Threshold 14/1d10+WP Bonus/10m
  • Distort Vision
  • Float
  • Knack
  • Sense Presence
  • Wall Walk
  • Weapon Jinx

Launce:

Weapons:

  • Combat Shotgun (with Vincent): Unproficient, 1d10+4/Impact/Pen=0/30m/S-3-*/Clip 18/Reload=Full/Scatter/Ammo 6 Clips
  • Good Quality Las Pistol: 1d10+2/Energy/Pen=0/30m/S-*-*/Clip 30/Reload=Full/Reliable/Ammo: 3 Charge Packs, 1 Hotshot Charge Pack
  • Hand Flamer: 1d10+4/Energy/Pen=2/10m/S-*-*/Clip 2 (now 0)/Reload=2-Full/Flame/Ammo: 3 Promethium Flasks
  • Chainsword: 1d10+5/Rending/Pen=2/Tearing, Balanced
  • Grenades, Frag (4)
  • Grenades, Krak (4)

Armor: Hardened Environmental Bodyglove (4 AP All Locations)

Guard Sergeant: WS=40, BS = 40, Dodge = 37

Weapons:

  • Lasgun: 1d10+3/Energy/Pen=0/100m/S-3-*/Clip 60/Reload=Full/Reliable/Ammo 0 Charge Packs remaining
  • Good Quality Las Pistol: 1d10+2/Energy/Pen=0/30m/S-*-*/Clip 30/Reload=Full/Reliable/Ammo: 1 Charge Packs, 18 shots remaining
  • Chainsword: 1d10+5/Rending/Pen=2/Tearing, Balanced
  • Chit-sickle: 1d5+3/Rending/Pen=2/Razor-Sharp

Armor: Guard Flak Armor (4 AP All Locations)

Guard Lasgunner: WS=35, BS = 35, Dodge = 35

Weapons:

  • Lasgun: 1d10+3/Energy/Pen=0/100m/S-3-*/Clip 60/Reload=Full/Reliable/Ammo 1 Charge Pack, 14 shots remaining
  • Chit-sickle: 1d5+3/Rending/Pen=2/Razor-Sharp

Armor: Guard Flak Armor (4 AP All Locations)

Guard with Heavy Stubber: WS=35, BS = 35, Dodge = 35

Weapons:

  • Heavy Stubber: 1d10+4/Impact/Pen=3/100m/*-*-8/Clip 75/Reload=2Full/Ammo 2 Clips remaining, loaded clip with 7 rounds
  • Chit-sickle: 1d5+3/Rending/Pen=2/Razor-Sharp

Armor: Guard Flak Armor (4 AP All Locations)

As the undead begin to encircle the crumpled water truck, Vincent wipes blood away from his earlobe, his head still ringing even though the horrific droning has abated, his nose and mouth still filled with the awful, stinking, foulness of the putrescent daemon's passing.

As Vincent looks away toward the irrigation canal, his watering eyes pass over hundreds upon hundreds of the staggering plague zombies, all moving in a tightly-packed tide of rotting flesh and filthy accoutrements, like a great decaying sea of penitents, marching toward them as if on an unholy pilgrimage.

He returns to himself when he hears the guardsman that was once manning the stubber muttering incoherently again, he turns toward the shattered man, finally making sense of his jangled, imploring words.

"Please---please help me---I feel it---I---I don't feel well---please---please help me..."

The once formidable looking guardsman, burly and fit, now looks wanly pale, sweat beading his knotted brow where he sits disconsolately by his still smoking weapon, the horrid black hole in his cheek weeping a gaggingly foul-smelling trickle of greenish fluid.

The sergeant, with his chainsword now silenced, begins to lean in to him, a contradictory expression of concern and disgust creasing his features.

Vincent, please attempt an Awareness test.

Vincent is next.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Leprade watches Savalos intently, his jaw set rigidly.

'Savalos Thul' wrote:
"Excuse me for speaking out of turn Gentlemen, and Lady. I have to say Intelligencer your move has me intrigued. I was content to let the hand ride with a simple call. Now...Regardless of what anyone else does. I will match you throne for throne this hand til I see your bottom dollar."

The Intelligencer's voice, when he speaks, is dry and emotionless.

"Then you will lose."


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Wardja's raise and Thul's call are met with narrowed eyes from Trizo, and nary a reaction at all from Leprade, who continues to adjust the order of his hand almost obsessively.

The Changeling unnerves the table further by giggling childishly, a completely unnatural sound coming from Juan Rico's body, before pushing forward twenty markers with a sweep of his hand.

Trizo's eyes dart venomously to his left, and the gang-lord of the Yellobouros grunts dubiously, his cold disregard for the daemon beginning to slide toward irriation.

He pushes across twenty chips of his own. Thul thinks he can sense a hint of reluctance in the act.

"Call."

The dealer moves to Leprade who waits a good long while before sliding across twenty of his own markers, hand holding his jaw as he studies his cards intently. Without a word, he shrugs and pushes across another twenty chips with his white knuckles.

"I will call, and a raise of twenty more."

The substantial raise gets Jeremiah Blitz's attention, his eyebrows arching in exaggeratedly comic surprise.

"Well, well, then. It appears I must bow out once again prematurely. I suppose it for the best, I would never be able to live with myself if I missed the tournament's final two rounds at this juncture."

He folds his hand, sitting back in the chair to assess Wardja's next move and whether he truly believes in his hand or not.

Heretic's Wake Tournament Round #7:

First Player: Swinthosa Wardja

Current Stakes: 186

Gambling Skill Results:


  • Wardja: 15, three degrees of success, Conservative Draw successful, now four degrees of success.
  • Savalos: 07, four degrees of success.
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: Unknown strength of hand
  • Trizo dol Soulard: Likely strong hand.
  • Intelligencer Leprade: Likely strong hand.
  • Jeremiah Blitz: Folded.

Remaining Chips:

  • Jeremiah Blitz: 201
  • Wardja: 143
  • Savalos: 147
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: 76
  • Trizo dol Soulard: 130
  • Intelligencer Leprade: 17
  • Jashar Dol Geim: Eliminated
  • Lady Cinzia: Eliminated
  • Keramiah Tor: Eliminated

Raise of 20 to Wardja, you may call, fold, or call and raise again if you so choose.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Edge of the Tertiary Fallow Fields.

Something about the shouted cry of defiance from Ryuk, so long a prisoner, so long a shackled pawn in this great game, buoys Vincent's stricken spirit, and he draws forth the Sliver of Calyx, summoning further strength from the visceral pulse of cold purity that radiates from this sanctified relic.

With perhaps the bravest act of his life, he steps forward and plunges the shining sabre into the filthy, condensation dotted faceplate of the Vile Savant, splitting the opaque armaplas with a liquid fluidity of motion that encounters almost no resistance. The weapon's power field flares with an almost incandescent flash of silver and the spewing putrescence that spatters out of the massive crack created is incinerated in midair with a pulse of white light and a crackling of ozone.

The daemon staggers as the terrible buzzing in Vincent's mind briefly stops, and he sees the ancient, withered visage of the Heresy Era Officio Medicae that once occupied this suit aboard the hospital ship he served so long ago, formed from the writhing effluvia and tumescent corruption within the suit. It seems to scream wordlessly at him as it lunges forward, reaching out to pass on the blight within it.

Vile Savant #3 sustains 13 Wounds total after reduction for TB (only 3 of 6 due to the Sanctified weapon). In addition, rolling a natural "1" grants an added bonus by house rule, GM's ruling is that the Vile Savant's Telepathy and Horror Within abilities have been neutralized by the attack of the sacred saber.

The Guardsman Sergeant lunges forward, slashing with his chainsword, inspired by Vincent's courage in the face of the abominable.

WS = 40, +10 (Ganging-Up), modified WS = 50, 1d100 ⇒ 27, a hit, rolling damage, 1d10 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 5 = 15, or 1d10 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 5 = 15 for Tearing. Wow, either will do, rolling for Righteous Fury, 1d100 ⇒ 94, unsuccessful, total damage inflicted is 9 Wounds after reduction for TB (6), sufficient to destroy the Vile Savant.

His chainsword strikes the daemon seconds after Vincent's desperate blow, and it cuts clean through the grime-caked containment suit's midline, cutting whatever is within clean in half. As the blade penetrates the horrible ichor within, the weapon rusts out in the very act, the serrated chain slipping from it tracks, the housing crumbling into slagged bits of metal and oxidized dust. The suit collapses in a fetid splash of spilt ichor that begins to pool and hiss, burning like a corrosive acid through the rear of the tanker truck, the reinforced suit dissolving before their eyes, before blinking out in a flash of pupil-burning blacklight as the Warp reclaims its own.

The burly guardsman that was manning the stubber less than a minute ago backpedals on his rump as far as he can from the sizzling pool of toxic sludge, still yelling hoarsely in horror.

Once again himself, Launce looks on in awe as Vincent turns toward him, the Sliver of Calyx clutched in the senior clerk's hands, and begins to laboriously screw another flask of promethium into his flamer.

"We must hurry, they will surround us soon, and if this happens our salvation will be short lived."

Launce begins reloading.

The horde of undead is still moving en masse in their direction, those already at the base of the truck dispersing to surround it from all sides.

Ryuk reaches out with one hand, grasping the forearm of the final guardsman, who was slowly sliding down the side of the truck, pulling him back up and pressing his weight upon the respirator-masked man's chest as his seizure begins to abate.

End of Round 14.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Awareness successful, opposed by his opponent's Deceive results (rolls not shown).

Wardja tries to gauge just what is happening amongst their adversaries, both mortal and daemonic, but it still remains largely unclear. There is certainly some manner of rift between Trizo dol Soulard and the Intelligencer, one that seems to be growing as the tournament progresses and the tension ratchets up. It is beginning to seem as if Trizo is far more confident over his control of the Changeling than his partner, and it appears to be this arrogance that is troubling Leprade, who is far less sure of things now. As an acolyte of the Inquisition with commensurate, troubling, first hand experience with the Ruinous Powers, Wardja is certain Leprade is more fearful at this point of he and his associate's bargain with the devil than with any potential punishment that could be meted out at the hands of the Imperium.

As far as the cards, it is fairly apparent that both Leprade and Trizo are holding good hands, but the daemonhost and his peculiar manner of playing make it as inscrutable as ever. Wardja looks at Leprade again, watching him finger the tops of his placards before going to his brow---something he was doing on the last hand he won...

Wardja, just let me know if you intend to raise, after that the raise/call goes to Savalos.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Edge of the Tertiary Fallow Fields.

Salt Sown on Fallow Fields
Round #14
Battlemap (Map is Close-Up this round, note scale change below)

Conditions:

  • Each Square = 1 meter

  • All squares adjacent to the overturned water truck are considered difficult terrain, swampy mud caused by the spill from the rupture in the vehicle. All movement rates in these squares are halved, attempts at Running or Charging movement in these squares are considered Treacherous Terrain: Mud, requiring a successful Challenging [+0] Agility test or the character falls Prone.

  • The massive Plague Zombie Horde [80] in the irrigation canal pursues relentlessly. Each round following the first round, the press of undead bodies on the walls of the culvert allows a portion of the horde to climb up on to the pasturage field. This is represented by the appearance of a Plague Zombie Horde [5] appearing in a square adjacent to the end of the irrigation canal. This occurs on the Plague Zombie [80]'s Initiative count each round after the first round, and is cumulative, with two Plague Zombie Horde [5] opponents appearing on the second round, and so on throughout the encounter, with each group leaving the culvert further diminishing the larger horde until all of the zombies are free of the canal.

  • The smaller Plague Zombie horde [20], is cumulatively represented by the five Plague Zombie horde [20] counters on the battlemap. This in effect represents the spread-out nature of the zombies impeding the companions advance to the Tertiary Fallow Field beyond. Each can be considered a still smaller Horde of Magnitude 4, but all five must be destroyed to completely eliminate the possibility of being attacked by solitary, wandering zombies independent of the Horde (see below).

  • As the initial Plague Zombie Horde [20] was eliminated, there is no longer any chance of them appearing by chance.

  • Both the overturned water truck and the disabled harvester can be climbed upon with a successful Routine [+20] Climb test. While atop either of the two vehicles, characters are safe from zombie attack until such time as the zombies can clamber up. Similarly to the irrigation canal, zombie hordes adjacent to the vehicles for one full round will begin breaking up in their attempts to reach the characters, with one zombie from the horde climbing up each round, until the entire horde has climbed on to the vehicle.

  • All is not as grim as it appears, whenever Vincent enters a new square, he has the option of attempting either a Challenging [+0] Awareness, Logic (expended), Forbidden Lore (Daemonology) (expended), or Search skill test. Each skill test can only be attempted once during the course of the encounter. A successful skill test will yield an advantage to the companions with an efficacy dictated by how many degrees of success were gained on the test.

Initiative Order

13-Guardsman with Stubber, J11 (Stunned, On 'Fire')
12-Vincent, J11
12-Guardsman Sergeant, J11
12-Launce, J10, No longer Helpless.
11-Plague Zombie Horde [25] and spawned Hordes [10] x 2, and Hordes [15] x2
05-Ryuk, J10.
05-Guardsman Lasgunner, J10, Prone and Helpless for 1 more round.
05-Vile Savant #3, J11; Vile Savants #1 and #2 have been destroyed

Weapons Loadouts:

Ryuk:

Weapons:

  • Combat Shotgun (Vincent Using): Unproficient, 1d10+4/Impact/Pen=0/30m/S-3-*/Clip 16/Reload=Full/Scatter/Ammo 6 Clips
  • Good Quality Las Pistol: Unproficient, 1d10+2/Energy/Pen=0/30m/S-*-*/Clip 30/Reload=Full/Reliable/Ammo: 5 Hotshot Charge Packs
  • Hand Flamer: Unproficient, 1d10+4/Energy/Pen=2/10m/S-*-*/Clip 2 (now 0)/Reload=2-Full/Flame/Ammo: 2 Promethium Flasks
  • Dusk Witching Blade (Best Quality Force Sword): 1d10+8/Rending/Pen=3/Balanced, Best Quality (+10 to WS, +1 to damage), Sanctified.
  • Grenades, Frag (3)
  • Grenades, Krak (4)

Armor: Hardened Environmental Bodyglove (4 AP All Locations)

Psychic Powers (Psy Rating=3):

  • Biolightning, Threshold 14/1d10+WP Bonus/10m
  • Distort Vision
  • Float
  • Knack
  • Sense Presence
  • Wall Walk
  • Weapon Jinx

Launce:

Weapons:

  • Combat Shotgun (with Vincent): Unproficient, 1d10+4/Impact/Pen=0/30m/S-3-*/Clip 18/Reload=Full/Scatter/Ammo 6 Clips
  • Good Quality Las Pistol: 1d10+2/Energy/Pen=0/30m/S-*-*/Clip 30/Reload=Full/Reliable/Ammo: 3 Charge Packs, 1 Hotshot Charge Pack
  • Hand Flamer: 1d10+4/Energy/Pen=2/10m/S-*-*/Clip 2 (now 0)/Reload=2-Full/Flame/Ammo: 3 Promethium Flasks
  • Chainsword: 1d10+5/Rending/Pen=2/Tearing, Balanced
  • Grenades, Frag (4)
  • Grenades, Krak (4)

Armor: Hardened Environmental Bodyglove (4 AP All Locations)

Guard Sergeant: WS=40, BS = 40, Dodge = 37

Weapons:

  • Lasgun: 1d10+3/Energy/Pen=0/100m/S-3-*/Clip 60/Reload=Full/Reliable/Ammo 0 Charge Packs remaining
  • Good Quality Las Pistol: 1d10+2/Energy/Pen=0/30m/S-*-*/Clip 30/Reload=Full/Reliable/Ammo: 1 Charge Packs, 18 shots remaining
  • Chainsword: 1d10+5/Rending/Pen=2/Tearing, Balanced
  • Chit-sickle: 1d5+3/Rending/Pen=2/Razor-Sharp

Armor: Guard Flak Armor (4 AP All Locations)

Guard Lasgunner: WS=35, BS = 35, Dodge = 35

Weapons:

  • Lasgun: 1d10+3/Energy/Pen=0/100m/S-3-*/Clip 60/Reload=Full/Reliable/Ammo 1 Charge Pack, 14 shots remaining
  • Chit-sickle: 1d5+3/Rending/Pen=2/Razor-Sharp

Armor: Guard Flak Armor (4 AP All Locations)

Guard with Heavy Stubber: WS=35, BS = 35, Dodge = 35

Weapons:

  • Heavy Stubber: 1d10+4/Impact/Pen=3/100m/*-*-8/Clip 75/Reload=2Full/Ammo 2 Clips remaining, loaded clip with 7 rounds
  • Chit-sickle: 1d5+3/Rending/Pen=2/Razor-Sharp

Armor: Guard Flak Armor (4 AP All Locations)

Hard Agility test for the Stubber Guardsman to Extinguish himself, 1d100 ⇒ 6, success.

As the Vile Savant comes to its full height, the screeching, desperate guardsman finally manages to yank free his smoldering flak vest, his cheek a clawed furrow of torn, bloodied, and blackened flesh where he has managed to rip away the steaming corruption sprayed by the Vile Savant, using only his bare hands.

Just as his keening diminishes, he notices the mockery of all that is good and holy standing over him, and frantically begins to crawl away on hands and knees, sobbing uncontrollably as the abomination strides forward. Reaching out like a plaintive child for his sergeant as the other man's jaw drops open in horror.

Vincent is next.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Edge of the Tertiary Fallow Fields.

With a triple boom the shotgun jerks in Vincent's hands, nearly falling free from his benumbed fingers, the madness-tinged fear growing within him as the droning buzz grows louder inside his head. Some of the shot rips through the bulging, roiling folds of the swelling containment suit the thing wears, leading it to weep or spray forth more of the noxious fluid.

The sergeant steps past his screaming squadmate and fires a burst, point blank into the thing, his charge pack running dry with an exhausted hiss.

BS = 40, Semi-Auto Burst, +30 (Point Blank Range), +10 (Higher Ground), modified BS = 80, 1d100 ⇒ 74, a hit. Rolling damage, 1d10 + 3 ⇒ (3) + 3 = 6, soaked by TB (6).

The shot blasts clear through the Vile Savant's chest, causing more filth to squeeze through the hole created, along with deformed, asymmetrical, maggoty worms the size of swollen fingers. The creature, hands robotically clenching the sides of the truck as it climbs, turns its disturbingly vacant, mirror-reflective face plate upward to face the companions as it makes its ascent. The sergeant backs away as the corrosive liquids spit forth, scrabbling for his chainsword.

Vincent's troubled mind is beginning to pick out the faintest, buzzing words in the white noise of the continued psychic assault, and when he looks at the reflective glass of the daemon's face plate, he sees a sickly black sun, wreathed in eddying Warp-stuff looking back at him like some blind, idiot god.

Vincennnnnttttttt...commmmme to ussssss...heeeeere theeere isss noooo sufferrrring...liiiifffe withhhhhooouttt enddddd...Graaaandfaaatherrr is callllling....callllling forrr yoouuu Vincennnnnttttttt!!!

With a wet plop of leaden legs into ankle deep mud, the first of the plague zombies begin to trudge close to the side of the truck, their empty hands slapping with lobotomized rage against the side of the toppled vehicle. As the undead slowly spread out, Vincent is cognizant that they soon will be surrounded.

The senior clerk notices that even Ryuk's ears are bleeding as the psyker urgently unsheathes his Witch-blade while striding forward to interpose himself between the other Vile Savant and the still-rigid Launce.

"Stand strong friends! Stand strong in the face of the Hag's children!"

He waits almost patiently for the thing to nearly reach the top of the truck before lashing out with a reckless two-handed swing, the amber-bladed weapon crackling with bright emerald light from his channeled psychic energy.

WS = 38, +10 (Higher Ground), +30 (All-Out Attack), modified WS = 78, 1d100 ⇒ 70, a hit. Damage is 1d10 + 8 ⇒ (10) + 8 = 18, rolling second WS test for Righteous Fury, 1d100 ⇒ 87, unsuccessful. Penetration (3) exceeds AP (2), and the Sanctified Quality of the force sword negates the Daemonic TB doubling (6 to 3), damage inflicted is 15 Wounds, slaying the Vile Savant.

Roaring with the pent-up fury of his endless imprisonment, the clone swings the blade in a flat, descending arc with such power that he cleaves clean through the collar of the containment suit, effectively severing the head of the daemon. A great, vomitous geyser of brownish-black corruption sprays outward from the decapitated containment suit, but through some quirk of fate it is projected outward on to the muddy field surrounding the truck as the creatures falls.

Rolling for the Horror Within, 50% chance a slain Vile Savant releases a Plague Swarm, 1d100 ⇒ 80, failed.

The corrosive filth begins to steam and hiss as it burns its way into the soft ground, wriggling many-legged things splashing through it as they try to burrow back into the spongy earth.

Vile Savant #3, armed with a chain bone-cutter finishes climbing up the truck and is now adjacent to Vincent, the Sergeant, and the mad Stubber Guardsman.

Round #13 is complete.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Savalos elects to decline the Draw, keeping his attention affixed upon his opponents and their choices, watching their faces and mannerisms for any advantage it might create.

When the dealer moves on to the Changeling, Thul's eyes follow and he is met with an unnerving grin of satisfaction from the daemonhost. The thing masquerading as Juan Rico looks upon the acolyte's unorthodox decision with an expression that is something akin to admiration.

Unsettling, to say the least.

Without even deigning to look upon his original hand, still face down upon the table, the daemonhost randomly picks three placards with fickle stabs of his index finger and takes an Aggressive Draw, never once even glancing at what is returned to him, his entire hand still unseen. The audience mutters in a muffled chorus of confusion, and even the dealer finally becomes disquieted, hesitating for an overlong, awkward pause before turning to Trizo.

Trizo regards the Changeling with the disdainful superiority of a man indulging the peccadilloes a somewhat touched relative, and declines the Draw with a dismissive wave of his hand.

The dealer comes to Leprade and the Intelligencer hesitates a good long while, his eyes darting back and forth between the unseen hands of Savalos and the Changeling with look of frustrated bafflement. He finally elects to hold as well, and the Draw comes finally to Blitz.

The rogue trader shrugs his shoulders in passive amazement, and elects to take an Aggressive Draw himself. While rearranging his cards in hand, he lets out a low chuckle.

"Win or lose, I've never seen a showdown the like of this, so I guess I'll stay around a bit longer."

With this, the bidding goes back to Wardja.

Bid is to Wardja. Feel free to make an Awareness test.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Edge of the Tertiary Fallow Fields.

Salt Sown on Fallow Fields
Round #13
Battlemap

Conditions:

  • Each Square = 4 meters

  • All squares adjacent to the overturned water truck are considered difficult terrain, swampy mud caused by the spill from the rupture in the vehicle. All movement rates in these squares are halved, attempts at Running or Charging movement in these squares are considered Treacherous Terrain: Mud, requiring a successful Challenging [+0] Agility test or the character falls Prone.

  • The massive Plague Zombie Horde [80] in the irrigation canal pursues relentlessly. Each round following the first round, the press of undead bodies on the walls of the culvert allows a portion of the horde to climb up on to the pasturage field. This is represented by the appearance of a Plague Zombie Horde [5] appearing in a square adjacent to the end of the irrigation canal. This occurs on the Plague Zombie [80]'s Initiative count each round after the first round, and is cumulative, with two Plague Zombie Horde [5] opponents appearing on the second round, and so on throughout the encounter, with each group leaving the culvert further diminishing the larger horde until all of the zombies are free of the canal.

  • The smaller Plague Zombie horde [20], is cumulatively represented by the five Plague Zombie horde [20] counters on the battlemap. This in effect represents the spread-out nature of the zombies impeding the companions advance to the Tertiary Fallow Field beyond. Each can be considered a still smaller Horde of Magnitude 4, but all five must be destroyed to completely eliminate the possibility of being attacked by solitary, wandering zombies independent of the Horde (see below).

  • As the initial Plague Zombie Horde [20] was eliminated, there is no longer any chance of them appearing by chance.

  • Both the overturned water truck and the disabled harvester can be climbed upon with a successful Routine [+20] Climb test. While atop either of the two vehicles, characters are safe from zombie attack until such time as the zombies can clamber up. Similarly to the irrigation canal, zombie hordes adjacent to the vehicles for one full round will begin breaking up in their attempts to reach the characters, with one zombie from the horde climbing up each round, until the entire horde has climbed on to the vehicle.

  • All is not as grim as it appears, whenever Vincent enters a new square, he has the option of attempting either a Challenging [+0] Awareness, Logic (expended), Forbidden Lore (Daemonology) (expended), or Search skill test. Each skill test can only be attempted once during the course of the encounter. A successful skill test will yield an advantage to the companions with an efficacy dictated by how many degrees of success were gained on the test.

Initiative Order

13-Guardsman with Stubber, J11 (Stunned, On 'Fire')
12-Vincent, J11
12-Guardsman Sergeant, J11
12-Launce, J10, Helpless for 1 more round.
11-Plague Zombie Horde [30] and spawned Horde [5] x 1, Horde [10] x 1, and Hordes [15] x2
05-Ryuk, J11.
05-Guardsman Lasgunner, J10, Prone and Helpless for 2 more rounds.
05-Vile Savants, Vile Savant #2 has been destroyed

Weapons Loadouts:

Ryuk:

Weapons:

  • Combat Shotgun (Vincent Using): Unproficient, 1d10+4/Impact/Pen=0/30m/S-3-*/Clip 16/Reload=Full/Scatter/Ammo 6 Clips
  • Good Quality Las Pistol: Unproficient, 1d10+2/Energy/Pen=0/30m/S-*-*/Clip 30/Reload=Full/Reliable/Ammo: 5 Hotshot Charge Packs
  • Hand Flamer: Unproficient, 1d10+4/Energy/Pen=2/10m/S-*-*/Clip 2 (now 0)/Reload=2-Full/Flame/Ammo: 2 Promethium Flasks
  • Dusk Witching Blade (Best Quality Force Sword): 1d10+8/Rending/Pen=3/Balanced, Best Quality (+10 to WS, +1 to damage), Sanctified.
  • Grenades, Frag (3)
  • Grenades, Krak (4)

Armor: Hardened Environmental Bodyglove (4 AP All Locations)

Psychic Powers (Psy Rating=3):

  • Biolightning, Threshold 14/1d10+WP Bonus/10m
  • Distort Vision
  • Float
  • Knack
  • Sense Presence
  • Wall Walk
  • Weapon Jinx

Launce:

Weapons:

  • Combat Shotgun (with Vincent): Unproficient, 1d10+4/Impact/Pen=0/30m/S-3-*/Clip 18/Reload=Full/Scatter/Ammo 6 Clips
  • Good Quality Las Pistol: 1d10+2/Energy/Pen=0/30m/S-*-*/Clip 30/Reload=Full/Reliable/Ammo: 3 Charge Packs, 1 Hotshot Charge Pack
  • Hand Flamer: 1d10+4/Energy/Pen=2/10m/S-*-*/Clip 2 (now 0)/Reload=2-Full/Flame/Ammo: 3 Promethium Flasks
  • Chainsword: 1d10+5/Rending/Pen=2/Tearing, Balanced
  • Grenades, Frag (4)
  • Grenades, Krak (4)

Armor: Hardened Environmental Bodyglove (4 AP All Locations)

Guard Sergeant: WS=40, BS = 40, Dodge = 37

Weapons:

  • Lasgun: 1d10+3/Energy/Pen=0/100m/S-3-*/Clip 60/Reload=Full/Reliable/Ammo 1 Charge Pack, 2 shots remaining
  • Good Quality Las Pistol: 1d10+2/Energy/Pen=0/30m/S-*-*/Clip 30/Reload=Full/Reliable/Ammo: 1 Charge Packs, 18 shots remaining
  • Chainsword: 1d10+5/Rending/Pen=2/Tearing, Balanced
  • Chit-sickle: 1d5+3/Rending/Pen=2/Razor-Sharp

Armor: Guard Flak Armor (4 AP All Locations)

Guard Lasgunner: WS=35, BS = 35, Dodge = 35

Weapons:

  • Lasgun: 1d10+3/Energy/Pen=0/100m/S-3-*/Clip 60/Reload=Full/Reliable/Ammo 1 Charge Pack, 14 shots remaining
  • Chit-sickle: 1d5+3/Rending/Pen=2/Razor-Sharp

Armor: Guard Flak Armor (4 AP All Locations)

Guard with Heavy Stubber: WS=35, BS = 35, Dodge = 35

Weapons:

  • Heavy Stubber: 1d10+4/Impact/Pen=3/100m/*-*-8/Clip 75/Reload=2Full/Ammo 2 Clips remaining, loaded clip with 7 rounds
  • Chit-sickle: 1d5+3/Rending/Pen=2/Razor-Sharp

Armor: Guard Flak Armor (4 AP All Locations)

Hard Agility test for the Stubber Guardsman to Extinguish himself, 1d100 ⇒ 98, failed, rolling damage, 1d10 ⇒ 4, no reduction for Armor, damage is soaked by TB (4).

Still screaming, now on his knees, the large Guardsman begins ripping at the clasps and buckles of his flak vest, trying to ear it free, even as the small circular hole in his face continues to smoke and sizzle with whatever corrupted effluence struck him. A horrible smell like cooking meat mixed with a latrine comes from the wound.

Vincent is next.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Edge of the Tertiary Fallow Fields.

Short Range bonus would apply here, too, Vincent, but even adding it in, it will be a miss.

Vincent's next burst from the booming weapon is largely ineffectual, the wavering haze that seems to shimmer in the cloying air before the Warp-spawn making it impossible to see the result of his fire.

His stomach knots in fear as the two Vile Savants flanking his target slowly stalk forward through the shimmering miasma of their corruption, now much nearer to their redoubt upon the overturned truck.

The sergeant seems about to make some attempt to help his brother-in-arms when he notices the desperate madness in the man's eyes as the substance eats through skin and armor. Half standing, he falters, and focuses instead upon the threat, loosing another burst at the horrid thing that injured his friend.

The sergeant fires upon Vile Savant #2, BS = 40, +10 (Short Range), +10 (Higher Ground), Semi-Auto Burst, modified BS = 60, rolling, 1d100 ⇒ 32, a hit, three degrees of success yields a second hit. Damage is 1d10 + 3 ⇒ (2) + 3 = 5, 1d10 + 3 ⇒ (3) + 3 = 6, even substituting degrees of success does not result in damage on the two hits, as the daemon's TB (6) is enough to soak that result.

His fire is accurate, but the daemon merely continues to stride forward, two more coin-sized holes burned through the containment suit, weeping foul ichor.

As the plague zombies continue to stagger and creep forward from the irrigation canal, they seem infused with a ravenous renewal of purpose and effort now that the Vile Savants have manifested. They groan and low even louder now, massing into a massive tide of rotting flesh and gnashing jaws as they press forward.

Fingers still crackling with corposant witchfire, Ryuk reaches within himself and unleashes another volley of blinding green lightning at the daemons.

Ryuk's Focus Power, 3d10 ⇒ (5, 5, 9) = 19, exceeds Threshold (14) of Bio-Lightning by 5, yielding greater range, but also invokes Psychic Phenomena with a '9', rolling damage, 1d10 + 5 ⇒ (2) + 5 = 7, one more Wound to Vile Savant #2, for a total of 13 thus far.

The bolts score the flaming containment suit, burning away the suppurating foulness oozing from the many tears in the fabric before dissipating along the horror's body like a grounded object.

Rolling for Psyhic Phenomena, 1d100 ⇒ 53, Psy Discharge, Ryuk floats 1d5 ⇒ 2 meters into the air.

The static electricity from the discharge does not fade from the air this time, however, and a crackling nimbus or greenish-light, wails and moans around the psyker, lifting him off his feet and into the air as it pulses around him.

The final guardsman at Launce's feet continues to buck and thrash, and has propelled himself dangerously close to the curving edge of the truck on the side the legion of undead are marching toward.

Rolling Fire Damage for Vile Savant #2, 1d10 ⇒ 6, no reduction for TB (6) or AP (2), damage is sufficient to destroy the daemon.

Rolling for the Horror Within special ability, 50% chance that the destruction of the Vile Savant releases a Plague Swarm, 1d100 ⇒ 59, no swarm released.

Perhaps it is the flames or lightning, perhaps it is the cumulative effect of the sustained volley of weapon's fire, but it is finally altogether enough to cause the Vile Savant in the middle of the line to stagger forward, drop to one knee, and collapse. The containment suit appears to swell spectacularly, the foulness within expanding with some noxious expansion of gas until it finally bursts like a wet thunderclap. The churning corruption of the daemon is consumed by the spreading flames, as buzzing blue-bottle flies set afire flit off drunkenly in all directions as they crawl forth in the millions from the remains.

Something about knowing that the horrors can be defeated buoys Vincent's waning hope that they might survive.

His optimism is short-lived, as the remaining Vile Savants finally reach the base of the truck after sloshing through the muck surrounding it, one clutching a rusting scalpel, the other carrying a serrated bone-cutter. They grab for handholds on the water truck and begin to climb up the side.

Posting next round, but Vincent is next.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Strengthening an already good hand is not meta-gaming at all, Wardja, just good sense.

Fairly certain that with everyone still in the round, there are more than a few good hands amongst his opponents, Wardja runs the risk of swapping out one of his lesser cards.

He is rewarded with the Empty Chalice, and yet another Greater Array. He stifles his reaction, trying to keep it even from his eyes as he uses his Inquisitorial training to effectively mute his own body language.

Feel free to make an Awareness test, Wardja. Remember, sussing out the strength of hand of your opponents in the game is largely dependent on opposed Awareness or Scrutiny tests against their Deceive. Success on one of these can give you a better idea of where you stand against the rest of the table.

After Wardja draws his card, the dealer looks next to Savalos.

Sav, standing pat, Conservative, or Aggressive Draw?

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