Skyfall

Forty-Second Session

Thirty-ninth and Fortieth of Bloom
sixth and seventh days of the new moon (waxing crescent)

Session Notes

In the aftermath of the eldar attack, Inquisitor Korteau’s agents, the sisters of Serenity and the Argent Shroud, and the Dyrmosemen tended to their slain and wounded. Gol Traben survived his wounds, though his injuries were too grave for him to accompany Philippa Darry to Green Rivers as he had intended. The sergeant karbaron thanked Philippa for riding to his aid, and expressed his regret that he would be unable to escort her to her seat.

Connor Darry and Philippa had a reunion in which Philippa shared with Connor the many events of the prior week. Connor reiterated his determination to reach Green Rivers, but admitted that he was unsure whether to back or oppose Vikram al Gerez in his bid for rule of Nova. Either way, he admitted that it seemed likely he would have to take House Darry, if only to provide unified leadership in the face of the ork threat and the Imperial Guard. He was particularly aware of the fact that multiple sources have claimed that the Guard is unprepared to fight orks on the scale it is currently doing, and likely to lose without the assistance of House Darry.

The villagers of Ashlance eventually halted in the woods, and Olive Mollin and Aaron Loyalar ventured back to the village to see if the fighting was over. Upon discovering that it was, the villagers returned while Olive and Valon Sarqhardt waited in the jungle, with plans to rejoin them once they were underway for Green Rivers and well quit of the Inquisition. Korteau’s agents left with the Valkyrie, leaving the Dyrmosemen. The villagers organized parties to collect supplies for the journey from the outlying farms, with escorts of Dyrmose troopers organized by Gol Traben.

With nothing to do until the convoy left Ashlance and starving for food, Valon found shelter and Olive foraged in the jungle. She made a highly unusual discovery: at the foot of a tree was a heavy sword and a large gun spell, and suspended in the branches of the tree was a complete suit of armor in unusual colors, complete with arming clothes, boots, and pouches full of sundries – including a translucent blue waterskin and outlander ration bars. Olive emptied the pouches, finding a small silver aquila devotional icon and a smooth gray pebble amongst them, and dislodging the suit from the tree in the process. She brought the weapons and supplies back to Valon.

Though Olive found the ration bars as filling (if unappealingly bland) as ever, Valon was utterly incapable of eating them, violently retching each time he tried. In the end he gave up on them, and spent a hungry night in the jungle.

The following morning, the villagers continued to bring in food from the outlying farms. Valon went in search of other food, finding a bunch of bananas. He gorged himself on these, and on the way back discovered a naked giant of a man, bound hand and foot and dangling upside down from a tree over sixty feet from the jungle floor. The giant identified himself as Polynikes, an angel of the Emperor, and asked for Valon’s aid in cutting him down from the tree. He had, he said, been hunting eldar when the aliens ambushed him, took his clothes, and hung him naked from the tree. Valon brought Olive to help, despite her misgivings, and she made the climb to cut him down. Polynikes was bound with a thin metallic cord, almost like wire, which seemed harder than the steel of her belt knife. Polynikes asked whether Olive had perhaps found his knife nearby, and Olive began to climb down while Valon went to fetch the “knife.” Polynikes, meanwhile, bent at the waist and commenced attempting to chew through his bonds.

Olive slipped as she was climbing down the tree, and began to crash through the branches. Her fall was arrested, to her horror, by her boneless sixth fingers – which had burst through her gloves of their own accord, elongating and wrapping around a branch like a prehensile tail. She frantically climbed the rest of the way down and hid her hands before either Valon or Polynikes could notice, although it took her fingers some time to stop wriggling as if they wanted to touch each other. When Valon returned with the “knife,” Olive again made the climb up the tree and was able to cut through the eldar cord. Polynikes crashed through the tree, bending to land on his back, and hit the ground with a thud like many hundreds of pounds. Apparently none the worse for wear, he asked whether Olive and Valon had found his armor. When Olive said she had not, he suggested that they find shelter lest the eldar still be watching. With a surprising degree of stealth, he led them through the jungle to a sheltered hollow.

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Forty-First Session

Thirty-ninth of Bloom
sixth day of the new moon (waxing crescent)

Session Notes

The deliberations at Ashlance were interrupted by the arrival of Philippa Darry, in the company of Gol Traben and his riders. Olive Mollin and Valon Sarqhardt, newly disguised as Gaius Masters and Orville Reeveson, hid in the village shrine. Philippa secured oaths from both the villagers and the Dyrmosemen to keep the peace of the village. Traben disposed of one of his squads around the village as a guard, while his remaining men and Philippa’s party settled down to the wary hospitality of the villagers. According to Traben, Connor Darry would soon be arriving by Valkyrie.

The Valkyrie arrived in due course, settling in the village commons. It carried a sister of the Order of Serenity, a squad of sisters of the Order of the Argent Shroud, Sarah Owens, Grhaed Steelfist, Lars Raith, as well as Sir Connor. Connor exited the vehicle under his own power, limping with a cane, and quickly rejoined Philippa. Owens, meanwhile, delivered a severed cock and balls to Vhetin Cooper, informing her with grim satisfaction that they had found her attacker and dealt with him. Before leaving, the normally hard-faced Owens added softly that Vhetin was not the only woman to have been raped.

As the Inquisition party turned to go, a spell of Raith’s seemed to detect the presence of the artifact from the Fairbanks cathedral catacombs. Valon cast a spell of bodily vitality upon himself and Olive, preparing to flee. Owens was on the verge of leading a house-by-house search of the village with the sisters of the Argent Shroud when eldar warriors set upon them from within those houses, having somehow infiltrated the village unseen and unheard. The eldar fell upon the Dyrmose knights and sisters with terrible violence. One of them entered the shrine with one of its cloaked companions (what the Imperial Infantryman’s Uplifting Primer seemed to call a “ranger”), who demanded that Olive and Valon hand over the artifact. Meanwhile, Raith had reached the shrine with two sisters. While the eldar within the shrine traded fire with Raith and his companions without, Raith likewise demanded that the fugitives hand over the artifact to the Inquisition. Valon attempted to ask what each side would do with it, to which Raith responded by hurling some manner of spell into the shrine that exploded with a great flash of light that blinded and deafened both Olive and Valon. Olive’s senses returned to her first, as the eldar ranger crossed the shrine to physically take the artifact from her. Olive relented, and the eldar quickly fled the shrine through a back window, disappearing into the jungle to the south.

Meanwhile, the villagers of Ashlance had begun to flee the fighting to the northeast. Olive and Valon, fearing to be found in the village in the aftermath, stole two picketed Dyrmose coursers and attempted to follow the villagers. Valon’s horse bucked him, and he was forced to follow on foot while Olive rode for the jungle. Philippa and her party made for their horses to follow, but she halted when she saw Gol Traben bleeding locked in combat with a particularly skillful eldar warrior, bleeding heavily from beneath his plate. Philippa mounted her destrier, seized the hunting lance Traben had given her as a gesture of goodwill, and rode to his aid. The eldar was able to evade the simultaneous attacks of Philippa, Traben, and Owens, but disengaged and retreated into the jungle. His warriors soon followed, leaving behind several dead sisters and Dyrmosemen. No villagers were harmed during the raid.

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Fortieth Session

Thirty-ninth of Bloom
sixth day of the new moon (waxing crescent)

Session Notes

Valon Sarqhardt and Olive Mollin made their way to Ashlance. Olive attempted to sneak into the village, but was quickly discovered by Aaron Loyalar, the village butcher and principal townsman. He took Olive to the village commons, where the population of the village was already gathered. Olive gave her name as Carol Ivers, and spun a story about fleeing Borrin after Imperial Guardsmen razed the village. Ashlance, she learned, had been recently visited by men of the 99th Dyrmose Horse to ask for the village’s help against the orks in the jungle and fealty to Vikram al Gerez. When Ashlance refused, on the grounds that their lord had not sworn fealty to al-Gerez, the Dyrmosemen left.

The villagers had assembled to decide what to do in response. After a public debate, they decided to remain in the village, but to gather what they could from their farms in preparation for the possible return of the Guard, or an attack by orks. The villagers feared that too many hazards could befall them on the way to Besgenet, the nearest castle. Olive attempted to persuade them to flee, but to no avail. She did show them her captured Astor L Lasgun, demonstrating it against a nearby tree.

At the sound of the weapon’s discharge, Valon entered the village, and was identified by Ereen Almoner. Olive continued to play along with Olive’s deception, calling Olive a mutant he had sanctioned at Borrin, and telling her sadly that Olive Mollin had been killed at Fairbanks. He told an abbreviated version of their tale, including the fact that Philippa Darry had ridden for Green Rivers a few days ago. The villagers reported that Philippa had not passed their way, but calculated that she might still be headed their way. When Loyalar heard how small Philippa’s party was, he declared that this news made it clear that their duty was to escort her to Green Rivers, chancing the hazards of the journey and the consequences to their crops. Staunch Darry loyalists, the villagers agreed, and began to organize parties to bring as much useful materiel from the farms as possible.

Valon explained to Ereen that he and “Carol” were wanted by the outworlders, and that it would be dangerous for the entire village if word got out that he had visited them. He assumed the identity of Orson Reeveson, an eccentric but harmless local hermit, shaving his head and beard to disguise himself. He then helped Olive to cut her hair so that she could pass for a boy (Nolan Ivers), and gave he. The villagers provided nondescript clothes for them.

Valon currently holds the artifact from the Fairbanks catacombs. Olive’s extra fingers, despite having no bones, wiggled of their own volition during her encounter with the villagers. Nobody but Olive noticed.

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Thirty-Ninth Session

Thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth of Bloom
fifth and sixth days of the new moon (waxing crescent)

Session Notes.

Philippa Darry, after looting the battle that Olive had heard and narrowly escaping a party of orks that arrived to loot the same battlefield, continued through the jungle towards Ashlance. While hunting for fresh game, Philippa encountered a mounted company of outlanders with the arms and demeanor of a lance of knights with mounted retainers. The sergeant in charge of the detachment, one Karbaron [[:gol traben]], had clearly made an effort to familiarize himself with Novan etiquette and treated Philippa as a high noblewoman once he learned her name.

The karbaron sergeant offered to share their “meager” rations (these consisting of preserved but relatively tasty meat and wine) with Philippa and her party. Philippa learned that Traben was a younger son of an ancient and wealthy family on a world called Dyrmose, and that he considered his service in the Imperial Guard to be a great honor both for himself and for his lineage. He also filled Philippa in on some of the strategic situation in the jungle. According to Traben, orks had landed on Nova from space shortly before the Guard’s arrival, literally arriving in a mountain that fell from the heavens somewhere in or near the Umbran Jungle. Should the outworld orks achieve dominance over their local cousins, they would teach the Novan orks their destructive magics, and given the sheer number of greenskins on the planet, such an event would almost assuredly result in total ork dominance of Nova. The Imperial Guard was currently engaged in a costly campaign in the jungle, accepting the cost of fighting the outworld orks at close quarters in order to keep them contained in the difficult terrain. Nevertheless, Traben said, the Guard was outmatched: Vikram al Gerez had brought only six regiments with him (Traben did not elaborate on how many men that translated to) as an honor guard, unable to anticipate that orks would arrive on Nova by random chance shortly before his own arrival. As a result, he had dispatched the Dyrmose horse to treat with the Novans in the jungle, appealing for their aid against the alien. The men of Ashlance had only recently rejected Traben’s diplomatic overtures, declaring themselves loyal vassals of House Darry and not the outlander so-called king.

For this reason, Traben was keenly interested in Philippa’s story. When he heard that Connor Darry had been left behind in Jonbri on death’s door, he became quite concerned, and declared that it was plainly of the utmost importance that Connor be saved. He had one of his troopers use his Vox Caster to pass the word that Connor must be found, and given the best medical care available.

Olive Mollin and Valon Sarqhardt found themselves somewhere in the Umbran Jungle. Lost and without supplies, they began to wander, hoping that Valon would be able to orient himself after his many travels through the jungle.

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Thirty-Eighth Session
Cathedral Catacombs: Part Two

Thirty-eighth of Bloom
fifth day of the new moon (waxing crescent)

Session Notes

Valon Sarqhardt and Olive Mollin encountered a living statue in the catacombs, animated by the confused and tortured spirit of a dead eldar warrior. The ghost warrior was willing to speak with them so long as they did not attempt to pass through the room. It seemed to be part of an eldar strike team that attempted to retrieve the artifact from the catacombs in ages past. During the attempt the ghost warrior became “corrupted,” which the confused ghost described as causing rage to overpower its hatred. Due to this corruption, the warrior was left behind by its comrades to guard the approach to the artifact against all but other eldar.

Olive produced the ranger pendant she had been given, which caused the ghost warrior to mistake her for an eldar and allow her to pass. When Valon attempted to follow, the ghost warrior attacked and wounded him immediately, and Valon was barely able to retreat out of range. When Olive’s attempts to persuade the ghost warrior to let Valon pass too failed, she destroyed it with a point-blank shot from behind. Her weapon melted a great hole in the statue’s chest, and caused the entire construct to explode in a shower of superheated alien material an instant later. Olive retrieved a large, smooth opal-like gem from the remains of its head.

The following room appeared to be another construct of the red priests, a great vaulted chamber whose floor was separated into tiles with numbers on them. A glass-encased parchment by the door bade those who would pass to follow the “sacred sequence.” A wrong step caused the tile to fall away, plunging the unworthy trespasser into what appeared to be a roiling lake of fire hundreds of feet below the unsupported floor. Olive and Valon had several close calls as they slowly worked their way across the floor, working out the sequence (a rising and falling Fibonacci sequence) through guesswork. After Olive was injured following one such near plunge to her death, Valon attempted to heal her using his sorcery. Her injuries were instantly and painlessly healed, but the bones in her extra fingers vanished as well – a development that caused her no small amount of consternation. Valon’s attempt to heal himself was physically successful but far more painful, causing a searing pain in one of his chest laser wounds.

With the sequence room successfully navigated at last, Valon and Olive found themselves in yet another chamber. The exit to this room was barred, and it was full of several glass-sided wooden barrels containing a noxious green gas. Several barrels had been broken, and the room contained several eldar and human corpses. The two eventually worked out that the door would open when the room filled with the gas. Valon surrounded himself with a sorcerous shield while Olive stepped into the sequence chamber. Valon’s shield held the poison at bay long enough for him to survive until the room was full and the exit opened, and Olive ran through as the gas faded into the stones, removed by some unseen magic, escaping just before the door shut again.

The door to the next room was piled high with eldar corpses, cut down by sharp-bladed metal throwing stars in attitudes that suggested they were trying to get into the room when they were killed. Inside, four glyphs glowed in the floor with an unearthly light. One, three annulets adamant in pile, caused a violent reaction when either looked upon it. Stepping onto that which corresponded to the mark of the Chaos ward in the cathedral’s vault, Olive and Valon were transported in visions to what they later surmised were tests. Valon was approached by Olive’s parents just before the ork attack on Jonbri, asking him what they were going to do. Valon reassured them that they could not lose hope, and found himself back in the catacombs on the other side of the next door. Olive found herself back in the jungle with a despondent Cyrian Dylan, who tried to convince her that they should enter into a suicide pact. Olive refused despite Cyrian’s pronouncements that their situation was hopeless, eventually telling him that they could not give up hope. At this, she joined Valon on the other side of the door.

The chamber in which they found themselves was clearly another Mechanicus chamber of some sort. Monumental statues of monstrous fusions of man and machine cloaked in the robes of the red priests dominated the far end of the chamber. Another servo skull rose from the gloom and attempted to scan them, then screeched a discordant call into the shadows at the far end of the room. A desiccated corpse approached them, to which had been grafted sundry metal parts, including a large vise claw or wrench. The creature attempted to strike Olive and Valon, its metal parts shrugging off the fire from her lasgun. Valon smote it with his sorcery, breathing a plume of eldritch flame that engulfed his body, the automaton, and the skull, leaving only smoking metal parts behind. As they examined the remains, Olive and Valon realized that the creature’s claw seemed to be built more for heavy lifting than combat, and speculated that they had just slain the caretaker of this ancient place.

The door between the two monstrous statues led to a narrow passageway, in which metal torches guttered to life. The passageway led to a final chamber in the shape of a coffin, which itself held a larger-than-life-sized coffin wrought of a strange bronze-colored material whose surface felt like satin, but with the strength of metal. The entire chamber was papered in what appeared to be sacred scrolls of the Mechanicus. The sarcophagus opened at their touch, revealing a fist-sized iron-colored pyramid with the same odd characteristics as the sarcophagus. Assuming they had found the artifact, Olive took the pyramid. This caused a pentagram to glow to life in the floor at the head of the sarcophagus. Valon stepped onto the pentagram and vanished in a flash of pink light; after a moment’s consternation, Olive followed.

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Thirty-Seventh Session
Cathedral Catacombs: Part One

Thirty-eighth of Bloom
fifth day of the new moon (waxing crescent)

Session Notes

Valon Sarqhardt and Olive Mollin found themselves in what appeared to be the vault of Fairbanks Cathedral, though Thaddeus Korteau and Grhaed Steelfist were both gone, and Valon was able to see normally. The two descended the newly-revealed stairs to the catacombs. At the foot of the stairs they discovered two dead soldiers who had died of wounds from behind, arms outstretched towards the stairs. The catacombs were unusually dry, and the dead men had dessicated flesh (a rarity on Nova, where the dead tend to decompose). Valon and Olive salvaged two barely-functional Lamp Packs from the dead, several packets of foil-wrapped rations, two combat knives, a larger than usual lasgun, and another large weapon spell similar to the one that Valon’s protective spell had warded six days ago.

Valon and Olive managed to coax their lamp packs to life, and by their dim and flickering light continued to explore the catacomb. They passed three shelves that held the honored dead in the Novan style, with Novan style coffins that had tumbled from their crumbled shelves. At the end of the catacomb additional stairs led even further underground – another architectural rarity, given the difficulty of subterranean construction in this part of Nova Primus. The stairs led to a great underground vault whose walls were lined with metal consoles covered in levers, dials, faintly glowing screens, and runes. The far end of the room was sealed by a monumental bronze door, covered in gears, cogs, and tubing. In a niche along one of the walls was a book containing what appeared to be mathematical formulae with the machina opus of the Mechanicus on its cover. Beside the book was a Content Not Found: servo-skull covered in metal spells, like Micah the Breslin witch. The skull bore the same columnar sigil as Korteau’s armor. It played a red light over both Valon and Olive, and then one of its spells appeared to die, and it began mindlessly bumping against the sealed door.

Valon discovered that his sorcery seemed to have granted him the power of true witchcraft, and he attempted to use his newfound power to force the door open, but it was too heavy for him to move. Eventually, Olive threw a variety of levers that seemed to have something to do with power, and Valon depressed a rune covered by a metal cover labeled “open” in High Gothic. The first time they attempted this procedure, spirits in the walls, floor, and ceiling began to chuff and whirr to life, but the gears on the door seemed to seize up and one of the cogs actually fell off the door, scything into one of the consoles. Olive threw her power levers the other way, which seemed to quite the spirits, and she climbed the door to examine the gears. She found them clogged with a faintly sticky dark brown dust, which she cleared out as best she could over the course of several hours with the help of her kirtle’s torn-off sleeve. Though she suspected the doors had been deliberately sealed against whatever lay within the catacombs, she and Valon repeated their earlier procedure. This time one leaf of the massive doors tore itself clear off its hinges, dragging the other open as well. The skull, its path clear, floated down the hallway beyond.

Wary of the traps Korteau and the eldar had warned of, Olive proceeded cautiously. They found the skull just before it was blasted into pieces by a red beam from a small hole in the wall. Several more dead – these decayed into skeletons in fabric so old it had lost all its color – lay about the area, including one whose skull seemed somewhat too long and narrow to be human – possibly a long-dead eldar, judging by the pictures in the Imperial Infantryman’s Uplifting Primer. Olive painstakingly negotiated the passage by scanning for telltale holes in the walls and ceiling, blasting them with her lasgun, and throwing the bones of the dead ahead to make sure the trap holes had in fact been neutralized. She missed one just before the door at the end of the hall, which shot her through the shoulder. After neutralizing that trap, Valon asked if he could use his spells to heal her. Instead, he had a vision of a beaked purple worm emerging from her wound attempting to gouge out his eye. He fended off the apparition with his right hand, and it dissolved in his grip, leaving an angry pink scar like a burn across his palm and fingers. Shaken, both agreed that he should not try again, and Valon used his knife to cut bandages from his vestments.

Olive opened the door and, after cautiously scanning the narrow hallway beyond, stepped through. A voice in the darkness intoned in their minds, “None shall pass.”

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Thirty-Sixth Session

Thirty-seventh and thirty-eighth of Bloom
fifth day of the new moon (waxing crescent)

Session Notes

Olive Mollin and Valon Sarqhardt continued to discuss the advisability of retrieving the artifact for Inquisitor Korteau. In the end, Valon convinced Olive to help him retrieve it, though the two did not come to a definitive agreement about what to do with it afterwards. Olive did not disclose the eldar’s involvement, but did mention the possibility of returning the artifact to those it “belonged” to.

Valon continued to study his grimoire through the night, eventually casting a spell that wracked his body with pain and left him mostly blind.

The following morning, only four guards remained by the stockade. Korteau’s agents began to take refugees from the stockade to Holdfast. When three refugees had been taken up the hill, including Sir Connor, Olive resolved that, whatever she and Valon did with the artifact, the refugees must be freed. Her resolve was strengthened by the sound of two gunshots from the hill. Eventually she infiltrated one of the nearby houses and managed to light its hearth, then fire its rain-soaked roof. The refugees spotted the fire first, and quickly directed their guards towards the nearest wells. Two of these ran towards the well, while a third ran up the hill to summon help. Olive snuck up behind the fourth and felled him with a single close-range shot through the neck. She quickly told the refugees to make for the south gate and scatter into the woods, then took the Bresliner’s weapon and prepared to cover their retreat from a two-story house overlooking the south market.

A squad of soldiers and Sarah Owens responded to the fire. Owens quenched the fire with witchcraft that sent a violent cold front across the market. The soldiers soon noticed their dead comrade in arms and the missing refugees, and spread out efficiently into cover around the marketplace. Korteau violently scanned the entire town with his own witchcraft, locating Olive almost immediately and focusing his mental presence upon her with frightening intensity. Owens then strode across the market plaza to Olive’s sniping perch, her right hand dripping fire that shone bright and clear in Valon’s fogged vision. Owens placed Olive under arrest and marched her directly to the holdfast under the abuse of the Bresliners.

At the crown of the hill, she encountered Sister Odell, who attempted to execute her on the spot. Olive frantically claimed that the inquisitor needed her, and Odell allowed Owens to march her into the holdfast without offering further violence.

Inside the holdfast, Korteau asked Olive why she had done what she had done. She replied that he was killing the refugees, at which he showed her Connor, still unconscious but very much alive. Korteau explained that he had been examining the refugees for corruption – Connor had been found pure, but the other two had not. Those who escaped, he said, would be offered the opportunity to return and submit themselves to examination – but those who refused the offer would have to be treated as heretics and killed. Olive told him that she doubted many refugees would take him up on his offer, and explained that Valon would need her help to retrieve the artifact – as a guide, if nothing else. She asked him what was to become of the two of them afterwards. Korteau freely admitted that he would kill them both, as they were clearly corrupted – the question they had to answer was simply whether to use their remaining time for the good of mankind or not. Thinking that it would at least prolong her life for a while longer, Olive agreed to help Valon retrieve the artifact.

Valon and Olive were led to the cathedral vault. Both were clearly able to see the ward on the wall as much more than a mere stone carving, as phantom brass flowed like flesh to spawn and absorb eyes that seemed to look directly at each of them. Valon spoke the name of Tzeentch, and the two found themselves in the vault alone. The door to the rest of the cathedral was gone, and in place of the Chaos ward was an open passage descending by stairs into the darkness of the catacombs.

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Thirty-Fifth Session

Thirty-seventh of Bloom
fourth day of the new moon (waxing crescent)

Session Notes

Olive Mollin infiltrated Fairbanks under the cover of darkness and the storm, searching for the refugees. Most of the Breslin soldiers seemed to be indoors, taking shelter from the rain. In the East Market, she discovered several Trojans, but no refugees. Gibbets still lined the main avenues, holding the rain-soaked moldering corpses of those who did not escape the town.

Meanwhile, Valon Sarqhardt was taken from his room (which turned out to be a Trojan-like vehicle) by Raith Laird, a hirsute mutant in Inquisitor Korteau‘s retinue. Raith led Valon to the South Market, where the refugees were being kept in a hastily erected stockade. The refugees were guarded by a squad of Breslin soldiers and the ten armored sisters of the Order of the Argent Shroud, who treated Raith with great respect. Valon was left to speak his mind. He confessed to the refugees that they had been right to mistrust him, that he had been deceived and corrupted by a daemon, and that they had hewn to the true path of the Emperor’s light. John Turomot, speaking for the shocked refugees in his role as their feudal leader, denounced Valon and banished him from Fairbanks. Owen Selerius alone was silent, staring at Valon through the thunderstorm with murder in his eyes.

Deacon Edward Tilley, breaking from the group, protested to Valon that he must be mistaken. Valon denied it, enjoining Edward to look after the refugees’ spiritual well-being as the only representative of the Church left to them. Edward informed Valon that he had left the fragment of St. Veronica’s sword hidden under a rock in his hovel back at Jonbri. Valon and Raith then returned to Holdfast, along with the sisters and most of the guard.

Continuing to search the town, Olive discovered that the holdfast was guarded by a few miserable-looking Breslin guards. She also overheard a conversation inside a house nearby the cathedral, in which Sarah Owens and Grhaed Steelfist appeared to be discussing what to do about Valon’s allegations of rape by one of the Bresliners. Sarah expressed her frustration that there was nothing they could do, and Grhaed appeared sympathetic, while agreeing that there was nothing that “they” could do. He ultimately suggested that she speak to Sister Superior Odell about her concerns.

Moving on, Olive spied Raith and Valon ascending the hill, and attempted to shoot Raith through the neck with her crossbow. The shot went wild, but in the rain and wind Raith did not even notice he had been shot at. Olive gave up rescuing Valon for the moment and continued to South Market, where she discovered the refugees under guard.

Valon was taken into the holdfast, where he met Inquisitor Korteau face to face. The heavily armored inquisitor explained to Valon that he required his help to find an artifact sealed beneath Fairbanks Cathedral. According to Korteau, the “ships” in which the offworlders came to Nova are required to pass through the Empyrean itself, and this artifact would open a way into a series of “tunnels” through the Empyrean, through which mankind could traverse the stars in safety. Unfortunately, others had sought the artifact in ages past, and the catacombs could now only be accessed by a sorcerer already tainted by the “warp.” As Valon was one such, Korteau offered him the chance to retrieve the artifact as an act of redemption. Valon accepted, and discovered the ward carved into the stone behind a bookcase in the cathedral vault, but did not know how to pass it. Korteau and his retinue left Valon to study his grimoire in a house close to South Market.

Once Valon was alone, Olive slipped into the house, and the two began to debate what to do. Despite the inquisitor’s imposing appearance, Valon was deeply impressed by his apparent honesty in apprehending the refugees without violence, the fact that a sanctioned mutant had found a position of authority in his retinue, and the seeming nobility of his goals. Olive was much more suspicious, both of Korteau’s motives and the refugees’ safety. Regardless, she told him, he would not be able to retrieve the artifact without her.

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Thirty-Fourth Session

Thirty-seventh of Bloom
fourth day of the new moon (waxing crescent)

Session Notes

Olive Mollin and Cyrian Dylan reversed course towards Jonbri. No further sounds of combat were heard beyond the initial burst as they rode back, but they still decided to dismount a healthy distance from the ruin so that Olive could creep forward to investigate. The tall summer grass made for good cover, and Olive was able to get close enough to spot Breslin sentries within the village. As she attempted to work her way around the sentry post, she witnessed the refugees being led away in the direction of Fairbanks under the guard of perhaps fifty Bresliners and an armored wagon of the Order of the Argent Shroud, along with several armored sisters. Among the refugees led away were Valla and Falcus Dylan.

Olive returned to Cyrian and told him what she had seen, and the two resolved to attempt a rescue. As an unseasonably late storm rolled in, the two investigated Jonbri. They found no refugees hidden amongst the ruins nor noticeable signs of struggle. Even the wounded were missing, although Olive observed no stretchers amongst the prisoners.

Olive and Cyrian made their way into the deep jungle to parallel the presumed course of the refugees. Between the twilight beneath the canopy and the oncoming storm, they failed to notice a camouflaged Imperial Guard vehicle until they were nearly on top of it. The guardsman, who wore a different uniform than the Bresliners, within illuminated them with a shockingly bright light mounted on his conveyance and ordered them to halt and identify themselves. Olive pretended that the two were simply jungle farmers heading to Borrin, a story which the sentry appeared to accept. He warned them to be careful traveling alone in the jungle, as orks had been seen in the area, and to find the Guard if they needed help. Olive and Cyrian then continued on their way, passing several more silent sentinels amidst the trees.

As evening fell, the storm broke. Olive and Cyrian used the cover of the rain and a nearly moonless night to swim the Thread and approach the Fairbanks sewer pipe, which was gushing water from the storm. Olive left Cyrian at the pipe with the lasgun, while she took her crossbow and entered the town.

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Thirty-Second Session

Thirty-sixth day of Bloom
third day of the new moon (waxing crescent)

Session Notes

Olive Mollin returned to Reyna Mollin with her bananas. Reyna awkwardly attempted to express her concern for Olive’s safety in the jungle. The wounded continued to improve.

Olive then sought out Valon Sarqhardt, studying the Sacramentarium of Saint Veronica in the shrine. Valon shared his plan to return to Fairbanks, arguing that the refugees were doomed without protection, and prepared to gamble on the good will of the sisters of the Order of the Argent Shroud. Despite Olive’s strenuous objections that the Argent Shroud were at least as bad as the 8th Breslin Infantry, Valon was determined to try. Before he departed, he found Justicar Turomot, absorbed in the examination of a lasgun. Valon enacted the Rite to Increase the Understanding of Others upon him to impress upon him that Olive was vital to the refugees’ safety. The rite connected the two men’s minds with shocking, trans-sexual intimacy, and both Olive and Valon witnessed in the aftermath of the violation a look of unadulterated hatred upon Turomot’s face directed at the confessor. The justicar deliberately handed Olive the lasgun, saying that she was in fact vital to his plans to defend the refugees, and expressed his support of Valon’s plan to leave the refugees with thinly veiled loathing.

Olive demanded that Valon explain what he had just done. When he explained, she shared with him that Turomot had no prejudice against mutants, having had his life saved by one as a younger man, and that in fact the justicar had always treated her with remarkable kindness. She pleaded with him one last time to be safe, and not to rely so heavily upon the sacramentarium. Valon then departed for Fairbanks, walking the familiar path back to the town.

Olive took the lasgun to the treeline and, after some experimentation, discovered the rudimentary rituals of its operation. When she shared the news with Turomot, he excitedly gave her a smaller version to attempt the same rites with. She had similar success with that spell.

Meanwhile, Valon was halted by sentries at Fairbanks a thousand yards from the walls of the town. He identified himself and asked to speak with the sisters of the Argent Shroud. After an uncomfortable delay, Sister Odell met him a few hundred yards from the walls. Valon approached deliberately, holding the sacramentarium before him, and repeated his greeting only about ten yards from the armored sister. She identified herself as Sister Superior Odell, and informed Valon that she was the last person he would ever see, before firing upon him.

Valon had another vision of St. Veronica Invicta in which time seemed to slow almost to a halt. Unable to move, he saw the projectile from Odell’s spell inching closer to him. Cupping her hand around the projectile, Veronica offered to save Valon if he would swear allegiance to her. Confused and suddenly wary, Valon said that he would happily swear his allegiance to the God-Emperor and to her. Veronica, seemingly disappointed, replied that her cause and that of the “moldering” Emperor were not at all the same. She explained to a bewildered Valon that she was not Saint Veronica at all – that Saint Veronica would not have reattached his head after the First Battle of Fairbanks, and that if he had been bearing the sigil of Saint Veronica, Odell likely would not have fired upon him. At this, Valon noticed for the first time that the sigil on Odell’s armor bore no resemblance to that on the sacramentarium or his own facial tattoo. With the projectile closing in toward his nose, “Veronica” gave Valon a choice: give himself fully to her, or die.

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