Dark Pursuits

Warband Upon Thaur: Inaction expediates heresy

If you are reading this then you have acquired and decrypted a dataslate intended for an Inquisitor, the dangers of which, if they are not already apparent to you, are incredibly dire.

What follows is a report entry for an extended Inquisitorial mission, currently within days plasma travel of the planet Thaur. Occuring aboard the void craft Oath Unspoken upon Thaur itself.

Updated Mission brief: Continue investigation into proliferation and trade of xenos or archeo technology by Trade Sable, and their connection to various heretical cults. Source of newest lead located aboard Oath Unspoken, between the ash-covered ruins of Desoleum and the hallowed spires of Thaur. Safety of greater population at risk is now of primary concern given the payment of life necessary for the attainment of the heretics’ goals.

Need for anonymity by acolytes: Moderate. While overtly Inquisitorial behaviour may accelerate heretical plans, the warband is to operate under the assumption that there is diminishing time to prevent the completion of such plans and the likely damnation it means.

Report begins immediately after the skirmish with 6 hostile corpse-crawler victims. The warband quickly identify the corpses as typical denizens of Thaur, whose faithful grief could not protect them from parasitical influence. Further traveling through the sprawling forest, the warband come upon ravaged humanoid figures, who have upturned some earth to feast upon corpses. Though not immediately seen, the acolytes determine the cannibals’ practice detestable enough to ambush them. Stav’s superior stealth skills close the distance with the distracted eaters.

Unfortunately, Stav’s lone attack method performs terribly, flinging two frag grenades, the first of which proves to be a dud as it collides with one of the cannibals, while fumbling a second, causing it to land and explode short of its target, harming nothing but the landscape.

As the cannibals react and slip into the forest, Vel follows their lead, taking a distant and covered position. The cannibals leave their cover to surround Stav, which Lox takes as an opportunity to create a distraction and join the fray. Her plan has mixed results, taking the attention of three cannibals but also taking grievous injuries from their gruesome flails.

Vel’s position, despite the dense tree cover, allows her good angles to execute two of the cannibals, while Stav eliminates 3 of his own in direct combat and Lox herself tears a foe down. Lox’s injuries treated, the warband proceeds into the forest.

As the hour grows late the acolytes approach a walled village whose gate is strangely unlocked. Within it becomes swiftly apparent that all citizens share a delusion that they are dead and experiencing an afterlife within this village. Unclear of the source of the shared delusion and general disconnection of the villagers, but too exhausted to continue on in the dark, the warband accept accommodation in the local inn, eating their own rations and water supplies and sleeping in shifts. Night terrors and sleep walking are the worst of the events that occur during the night and the warband depart the afflicted village only a couple of hours beyond their expectation.

Many hours later the acolytes near a large area densely built with statues and tombs. The bustle of reverent pilgrims makes finding their destination simple, with hundreds of eager souls gathered around the Statuary of Saint Merusaad. With no clear sign of cultist activity, nor access to the catacombs possibly alluded by the Eldar Ranger, the acolytes scan the crowd for anything suspicious. After some time they notice black cloaked figures, not dissimilar to those in the area, gathering and moving away from the Statuary and down the winding paths of tombs.

Following the cultists, the acolytes watch as they enter an ossuary tomb, guarded by two of their kind. Whatever the cultists use to identify themselves and gain entry, the acolytes are unsure. But presenting the vile of purple ichor and a few clever words from Lox get the warband in. Within, an obviously oversized stone sarcophagus, showing recent recent activity in the disturbed dirt hides a staircase descending into the catacombs.

Between Vel’s talent for navigation, Lox’s careful scrutiny of the strangely reactive artifacts in their possession and Stav’s instinct for survival, the acolytes quickly navigate the winding tunnels of the catacombs from Imperial bone structures to strange xenos architecture. Through their travels the warband is frequently visited by bizarre phenomena, such as fell winds, instant darkness and ill feelings.

The acolytes finally enter a vast chamber, at the other end of which approximately 50 cultists stand in banks before a large purple pool, casting artifacts into in and basking in reverence. At almost 400 metres away, the cultists are beyond the acolytes immediate means to attack effectively. Unsure whether to act at such distance or attempt to close it quickly, a leader amonst the cultists emerges, fitting the description of an authority on Thaur, Renthear, who had been passed over for the position Pyre attained.

Before Vel can line up a shot at the betrayer, the ritual completes. From the broiling pit a great purple daemon emerges. The mere sight of the being sends almost all the followers instantly mad, though the acolytes’ own experiences harden them against the shock and terror. Renthear and a handful of cultists flee through another exit, with Renthear narrowly saved from a rifle shot from Vel by the sacrifice of one of his followers.

The daemon, the same being freed from his fleshy prison by the acolytes on Desoleum, is greeted by a hellstorm of Stav’s Autocannon fire. In response, the beast tears into the wimpering servants before him, consuming artefacts to heal his wounds.

As Stav and Vel continue to lay righteous hate into the daemon, it is Lox that truly summons its attentions by presenting an artefact mockingly. Teleporting instantly upon her, the daemon strikes her through and snatches the artefact for absorption. Now but metres away from Stav, his next volley is devastating, but it is Lox’s gout of sanctified flame that sends the daemon swirling back to the warp.

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