The Journals of Marcus Torenson

Day Eight

Wake, and prayer. Breakfast prepared by Physick/Cook. ‘Treasure of the Gilgars’ is checked over. It appears to be mostly money and agricultural sundries. Duke orders much of it packed up to be sent to his son. He asks me to see that a silver reliquary of St. Hecla is taken to the Cathedral. More ‘discussion’ with Scraver over merits of discomfort and the soul. We return to the Hub in the repaired flitter. The Baroness offers the Scraver a permanent place in her retinue.

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Day Seven

Morning. Go around to offer morning prayer to the retinue, but the barbarous Scraver answers her door both armed and undressed! Baroness Allessandra says she is taking her morning constitutional, so I return for solitary prayer until breakfast. At the table they gossip. Apparently the Scraver spent the night wandering the manor looking for a ghost. She seems obsessed with the wine cellar. Some time is spent bickering with the Scraver over her heinous activities and aptitudes. Scraver appears unaware of the boundaries of forbidden technology (i.e. holograms), in conversation about ghostly apparition.

Duke arrives, with physick assisting him. More breakfast. The Reeve enters, as the Duke departs looking tired. Reeve mutters about apparitions in the garden. Asks about our plans for the day. I suggest a visit to one of the shrines of St. Hecla and the Baroness agrees. We are to go to the closer of the two, in the maze inside the gardens. The Scraver agrees to join us, and goes to change. Ivo appears distracted. The Baroness asks him to attempt repair of our vehicle first, then see what may be done about the power generator if he has time. He leaves. The Reeve approves quite vocally, and tells of his hope of fresh vehicles (or perhaps another rescue mission). The Baroness prompts him on his duties of maintaining old records and House Gilgar finances. The Chamberlain cheerily enters, directing servants in redecorating and moving paintings. The Reeve makes his apologies and goes off to work.

The Scraver returns and we head out to the gardens, where Duke Gilgar is sleeping in a chair and enjoying the sun. We wander over to the maze, which is comprised of large, overgrown, tangled hedges. We enter, nervously. The Scraver tries climbing a hedge in order to see over the maze. The Baroness seems adept at negotiating the labyrinth though, and we follow her. Pestered by mulaki bird-monkey things. Scraver fires incompetently at them with her small crossbow, managing to clip one and scatter them.

We arrive at the centre of the maze, to find the shrine in a small pagoda by a spring, in a clearing decorated with giant roses. Canon Oblay is here, praying. The Baroness takes out some incense and lights it for the shrine. Canon Oblay greets us, making small talk about the incense and commenting on the purity of the spring water (possibly more so than at the manor), before going to smell the giant roses. Scraver tests the spring water and then fills some flasks. I indulge in some prayer and meditation at the shrine. The Scraver sits directly opposite me and prays noisily in a pathetic attempt at Latin. Is she trying to parody me? Unsure. Oblay comments that some of the Eskatonic pilgrims should be starting to return soon. More meditation. Oblay questions me on the Scraver: lunatic? Fringe cultist? I decline judgement, for the moment.

She stands, proclaims her meditations over (barely 30 minutes) and heads back to the manor. More prayer, then the Scraver returns with a man wearing monk’s robes displaying the Eskatonic symbols. The Baroness greets him, along with Canon Oblay. Duke Gilgar arrives via a shortcut behind the shrine; and notes the presence of the Eskatonic, who introduces himself as Brother Dominic. Discussion of methods of travel to the hub, and Brother Dominic asks if he might travel with us. The Baroness agrees. The Duke leaves us to our devotions. Scraver makes her excuses and follows the Duke.

Finish prayer in time for lunch, and head back to manor via shortcut, following the Baroness. Ivo is busy at the house and the Baroness consults him on vehicle damage. I go to change for lunch.

Gong for lunch. I go down to dining hall. Sit down with the Duke for the meal. More bickering with the Scraver over the state of her soul. She turns to the Brother Dominic, commenting that she has heard his sect is heretical. He corrects her, pointing out that her information is decades out of date. She whispers inexpertly to him, asking if he knows anything of alchemy. He professes no knowledge.

The Baroness interrupts the conversation, saying to Scraver that we need fusion cells and that the Duke has given permission to search for them provided we don’t intrude on people’s personal rooms and affairs. Scraver asks about keys to cellars. The Chamberlain hands her a key, and asks her to be careful of the wine bottles. Ivo informs her of what is needed. She enquires about outhouses and sheds, but is told that they aren’t locked.

Lunch finishes and she immediately requests permission to begin her search. She departs. The Baroness suggests we investigate the house chapel, so we head off down there. The Baroness pokes around the chapel, and finds a secret passage. Terek goes first, and Dominic and I follow. I close the door behind me on the Baroness’ request. It is a dark corridor looping round, with spyholes to various of the rooms in the lower floor of the manor. We hear servants talking about ghosts and the mad Scraver woman.

Then, a cold breeze at the back of my neck. I turn, and see a ghostly woman in tattered noble clothing, crying blood. I freeze. She points at me and moans “My world bleeds!”. I mutter appropriate passages from the Gospels as defence. She talks of blood and desecration then turns and walks away, but not before I note she has the distinctive Gilgar nose. Sensation returns to me, as she walks through the wall. We approach and find it contains a secret door leading into the servants’ quarters. We exit the corridor and follow her through the quarters until she passes through the door to the wine cellar. The door is locked. Brother Dominic calls in Latin upon the transformative powers of his inner flame (Borderline heresy! Damned Eskatonics!), touching the door and turning it grey and slightly rocky-looking. He steps back and says to the Baroness that a simple impact should suffice. Terek strikes and the priceless antique door crumbles.

We enter, and see the ghost still proceeding through the cellar, before passing through the far wall. There are signs of digging around here (a loose stone slab). On the Baroness’ orders, Terek starts moving the wine rack. We can see a seam in the wall, perhaps as a concealed doorway, but can’t find an opening mechanism. Terek says we will need a wedge, or a crowbar and suggests asking the Scraver.

I go to look for her, and a servant tells me she is in the gardens. I find her digging a pit in the maze, occasionally pestered by the mulaki. She tries shooting at them again with the crossbow. I inform her that we have need of her particular abilities in the wine cellar, and we proceed back. There, she puts her tools to the task and with Terek’s additional strength is able to prise the door open. Inside is a room filled with technological devices, display screens and cupboards. The screens show warnings of terraforming failures. The Baroness fiddles with them, while the Scraver goes off to fetch Ivo.

On his arrival he inspects the room and proclaims it the control centre for a terraforming node. He presses buttons and calls up lists., saying it might be possibly repairable, but that we would need experts. There is a slight earth tremor as he presses a button. The Baroness wrenches open the door of a cupboard, to find banks of electronics inside. Noticeably, there is no sign of dust or decay inside the node. Ivo comments that it must have some kind of power source, and sits to investigate further.

We head upstairs, and the Baroness suggests I assemble my flamegun and guard the node from interference. I go to my room, and after a thought inspect the walls. I find a spyhole, and move a painting to cover them. It looks as if there was already place for the picture for this purpose. I change into my ‘work robes’, take the flamegun and stalk down to the wine cellar. I sit and guard…

The Chamberlain and the Baroness return, discussing repairs to vehicles. Apparently, it was sabotage. Ours had bullets lodged in the engine. Chamberlain says only people here with rifles are Captain of the Guard and his men. But why would they want to isolate the manor? (Treasure of the Gilgars?). Baroness offers Chamberlain advice on keeping Duke Gilgar safe and sound (avoiding poisons, etc.).

Logistics: 3 guards, guard Captain, 6 servants, Chamberlain, Reeve, Physick, Rupert, Canon Oblay, and us.

The Baroness asks me to accompany her to go interrogate the guard Captain. We close up the terraforming node, and walk up into the manor, leaving the Chamberlain. We find Brother Dominic and he joins out delegation for safety in numbers. Then we bump into the Scraver, who says she’s having trouble finding power packs and wants to see inside the locked shed under guard. Then she whispers that a few nights ago she heard people talking of killing us all. One was the guard captain, and she suspects the other was the Physick. Then asks again about alchemy. I comment on her apparent obsession. She gets irritated, bringing out two items and saying “Well can you tell me what this is then?”. They are, quite obviously to anyone with a modicum of intelligence, one container of sterilisation mist used for cleaning wounds, and one container of a chemical used in bonding synthflesh in the less sophisticated forms of cyber-ware. The Baroness asks where she got it from, and the Scraver confesses to breaking the shed door down on an earlier night. Then we proceed to see Rupert, before visiting the guard Captain. Rupert opens his door very anxiously and the Baroness asks if we might speak privately with him. Terek, the Baroness and I enter, and check for spy-holes (nobody seems to be looking through them right now). The Baroness informs Rupert that our vehicle was shot down, and it wasn’t his fault. Then she asks why he is hiding in his room. He says he is scared of the ghosts, has heard servants talking about them. Baroness tells him to stay safe and keep his ears open. We leave.

The Baroness says that the Chamberlain told her the guard captain’s office is in the locked shed. We proceed outside. There are large pits in the ground. The Scraver says this is subsidence, but seems to be hiding something. Probably not important. There is a guard on the shed door, who is very nervous at our presence. He has orders to keep everyone out. We argue with him for some time on this, but he remains adamant. The Baroness agrees to leave, and we move away to talk. It’s getting darker now. The Scraver says she will go look for the guard Captain. The rest of us wander in thought. The Baroness consults me on my thoughts about a conspiracy between the Physick and the guard Captain, but I’m not sure what she is getting at. She suggests we talk directly to Duke Gilgar. She doesn’t trust the Chamberlain, but agrees that if we meet him along the way we’l ask him to act as an intermediary.

On the way back to the manor, we notice the Scraver sitting on the roof. Whatever for? Strange behaviour. The Baroness stops a servant and asks where the Chamberlain is. It’s only a few doors away so we pass by to talk to him, and as we do so a guard arrives. He tells us wild animals have entered the grounds and that we must return to our rooms for our own safety. Baroness refuses without direct proof of request from Duke or Captain. Guard uses his communication device to talk to the Captain, who shortly turns up noticeably fully battle-ready. He repeats the explanation and gives us a 2 person escort back to our rooms. The Baroness and Terek chatter in Ukari. I offer to take the Baroness’ confession (as a way to stick together) and she agrees.

We enter the Baroness’ chambers, while Brother Dominic goes to his own. The Baroness searches for a secret door in her wardrobe. Suddenly, something blocking the eyehole is pushed out! The Baroness replaces the block. We hear the Scraver’s voice coming from inside the secret corridor! Terek opens the door at last, and asks the Scraver to desist then brings her into the room. Brother Dominic follows behind her. They talk, and I chant loudly in Latin by the door to cover the noise. The Scraver says the Reeve told her the guards are looking for something…. important. Brother Dominic expresses an interest in exploring the secret corridors, but is concerned about the wild animals. Baroness tells him this was a lie.

We sneak around in the corridor to the servants quarters and exit the corridor. Proceed furtively to Duke Gilgar’s quarters, Terek first to check the path. The Baroness knocks on the door, and it swings open. It’s dark inside. We hear groaning from the large bed. The Duke lies there, very sick and fevered. Syringes are left beside him. The Baroness inspects them, then takes an ampoule from her supplies. She says it is Elixir, that fabled medicine of the Second Republic. She injects it into the Duke. I go to watch the door.

The ghostly woman appears through the wall! She points at me and says “The thorn hides the rose!” before passing right through me! I panic, and start prayer to protect my soul from demonic influence. The ghost moves on to the Baroness, before passing back out through the corridor. The Scraver asks to speak to the Baroness outside. They cross the corridor and speak in private while Brother Dominic and I utter blessings over the Duke, though with some doctrinal dispute over method and order. The Baroness returns, saying that the Scraver is following the ghost and she wants to investigate the shed. We point out the Duke’s condition, and the Baroness attempts to minister to him a little, having some minor knowledge of remedies.

Then we go out into the gardens, since the Baroness expresses concern that the guard Captain may be planning on fleeing with the treasures of House Gilgar. I ask how the Captain of the guard would know where to find the treasure. The Baroness says the Duke was drugged, and likely told him. We run outside, and see lights from the centre of the maze. We proceed through the short-cut to the shrine, finding the Scraver skulking about too. She offers to check the shed, and moves out. We carry on, and hear sounds of digging, and protests of desecration (Canon Oblay’s voice!)! The Baroness sneaks further ahead to get a better view, while I hold back and watch her progress anxiously.

The Scraver returns, with Brother Dominic and the Reeve (who is carrying a shovel?!). She asks why I’m waiting behind, when a mulaki flutters about nearby. The Scraver shoots at it, missing, and the bolt thuds into the ground next to it. It snatches the bolt, and wanders into the clearing. We hear a shout of “We’ve found something!”, then a yelp followed quickly by gunfire. I peer around the corner. Firing starts! I see the guard Captain moving with unnatural speed. I go to stride out to confront the other guards and demand that they surrender and stop desecrating a holy place. The guard in front of me is cowed at first, but panics and sprays bullets at me from close range. The Pancreator decides I am not to die just yet though, and they all go astray. I fire at him a couple of times with my flame-gun, but the igniter fails and the gun becomes useless. I retreat into the maze, noting 3 servants fleeing the scene too. Inside the maze I find the Baroness with Terek. While she contacts the Scraver on her whisper pin, I strip the flame-gun down to repair it. It takes me a few minutes, but then I move swiftly and catch up with the Baroness at the shed. She says the Scraver is lying injured in the short-cut through the maze, tended by Brother Dominic. Entering the shed, we find a makeshift laboratory for installing cybernetics. We search about for a while, and I find a set of syringes with Elixir. I take a handful and rush outside to take them to the injured Scraver. We could need her strength.

Arrive. Brother Dominic has bag full of heretical tech. He suggests I set fire to it to use as a distraction. I inject Elixir into the Scraver, then set light to the bag and try hurl it over the hedge. Unfortunately it catches on the bushes. Shouts from guards, and hedge is riddled with gunfire from other side. They shout “Stay away if you know what’s good for you!”. Baroness suggests an ambush. Sudden hiss from pressurised canisters in burning bag. It’s going to explode! I shield the Scraver from the blast, and she catches me as I fall. More gunfire. Scraver grabs my arm and we run. Huddle in corner of hedges with Baroness, Terek, Chamberlain and Physick.

We proceed to the Physick’s room, as the Chamberlain says a captive traveller is being kept prisoner in a side room there. Terek opens door, then shuts it again very quickly. Loud snoring sounds from slumped vorox figure within. Baroness enters and wakes it gently, offering assistance. We move out to intercept the Guard Captain by the shed. Vorox greets me and asks me to later take its (his? her?) confession.

Gardens lie empty and still, except for burning bushes in maze. Lights and sounds in shed and from stable. The others go towards the stable. I hang back quietly. When others aren’t looking, throw 2 ka-plant canisters into shed and open fire with flamegun. Shed explodes! Gunfire from stable riddles the hedges. Fire spreading. Oh no! The shrine! I run off to put fire out. Dampen fire around shrine, and notice remains in pit. Chest has burst open and is filled with 2nd Republic coins. Sound of vorox shouting. Battle cry? Gunfire. Canon Oblay arrives, and helps with extinguishing the fire. More vorox howling, and gunfire stops abruptly. Baroness calls, and we meander out of the hedges after making sure the fire is out.

Baroness explains that the vorox has ‘executed’ the Guard Captain. She suggests moving the Duke to better medical care by his son. We proceed to the Duke’s room, where Physick is bringing him round. He seems befuddled. Baroness explains events to him and tries to convince him to return to the Hub with us. He is reluctant. I take my leave, professing need to put flamegun away and change robes. I return to the shed, and make certain all forbidden tech is destroyed. Then go to room to change, pray and sleep.

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Day Six

Morning prayers before dawn. Breakfast. New proclamation from Count Sharm: Return of Terraforming Engineers from routine maintenance of external terraforming engines (i.e. those on the moons).

Travel to Gilgar manor to start expedition to badlands. Less riots, and city appears to be returning to its normal state. Ushered inside the manor to breakfast with Count Avals Gilgar, who tells us transportation will be ready around noon due to technical delays. We’re introduced to Rupert, who used to work at Thorns Manor and who will be our guide and provide proof to the inhabitants that we’re on business for the Count. There should already be various people there. A Scraver was sent to maintain the radio link, along with a priest and a Reeve. A physician, the captain of the guard and assorted servants should also be there. Count Gilgar informs us there may be an ‘animal problem’ out there, which may be dangerous. He offers us the hospitality of his manor until it is time to leave at noon.

The Scraver wanders off, and I go to peruse the library. Someone appears to have been reading up on Vau Conspiracies, and I leaf idly through the book on the table. Then I refresh my memory on the Martyrdom of St. Hecla. There are two main accounts. One is that she threw herself in the way of bandits and thieves and in a miracle her blood fertilised the ground. The other is that she kept a pagan demon god bound by her blood. The second account seems to be holding more popular opinion these days. The Scraver arrives in the library and starts sorting through maps. She calls for paper and ink, then copies out notes and bits of maps.

Then we head to a light brunch with Count Gilgar, while our equipment is loaded onto a hopper. We change into survival gear and go out to the hopper. I offer a blessing to the vehicle and all the righteous who travel in it. We climb in, and Rupert pilots it through take off. In view of the dangers of the trip, I offer to take confessions if anyone wishes it. The Baroness accepts. We fly for several hours over the wastelands and then above the ruined remains of the city in our approach to Thorns Manor. Suddenly the sky is full of some flying monkey-bird creatures, which Rupert does his best to avoid. There is a loud bang, the vehicle jerks and starts losing control. Rupert asks for a quick confession as we adopt crash-positions. We crash land roughly on the landing pad at Thorns Manor, luckily unharmed.

Three armed men run out to investigate and demand that we identify ourselves. Rupert passes on his message from Count Gilgar, and we are escorted up to the manor. The guards throw bits of debris at the monkey-bird creatures and refer to them as “Mulaki”. We are presented to the captain of the guard. There is no sign of any power in the Manor. The captain says the generator and the Scraver were both lost in some sort of rock fall or explosion. There are signs of severe weather all about.

We are brought before the Chamberlain. Rupert repeats our necessary introductions. The Chamberlain shouts to prepare a meal for 8. He seems very happy to have guests, but he hides it quite well. We’re then left to our own devices for a while.

Canon Oblay Dawan arrives, a white Orthodox priest. He proffers greetings and asks our reasons for visiting. He says Duke Gilgar is very sick, and aged 97. He also recommends both of the two shrines to St. Hecla to us. One is in the gardens and one is along a mountain path. Then the Reeve enters, and the Canon exits. Baroness Allessandra chats with the Reeve for a while, then the Reeve departs. The crass Scraver fiddles with a crossbow throughout all this.

Then we’re ushered into a large dining hall, and greeted by the physician, who informs us that for today he is also our chef. An elderly man enters assisted: the Duke (no evidence of cybernetics). The Duke sits, and the meal is served. The Baroness and the Duke talk about hunting for most of the meal. I’m asked how the Bishop is getting on, but it is not clear which one he means. The meal ends and Duke Gilgar leaves. The Chamberlain calls for quarters to be prepared for us, then the Baroness consults quietly with him.

We then head off to our chambers, where the Baroness asks me about unusual prayers. She seems to be seeking an appropriate prayer to ask the Pancreator to restore Duke Gilgar’s sanity. She then invites me to conduct the evening’s prayers for everyone and I go round to ask the rest of her retinue. Terek and Ivo decline, but the Scraver accepts, surprisingly. We have prayer, then separate to our chambers to sleep.

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Day Five

Wake. Prayer. Minor earthquake. Breakfast. Dire rumours: King of Thieves missing for days. Ivo had contact with his Engineer friend and wants to go ‘claim’ some spare parts, or at least investigate. Baroness agrees and we head out to walk to warehouse. Large pile of bodies next to road. Looted.

Mantis Guard are trying to maintain order, questioning a pair of men in Al-Malik livery. Armed Al-Malik retainers (plus nobles?) appear round corner. Challenges shouted. Two men being questioned look… satisfied (Ambush?). Lead Mantis Guard into trap?. Fighting ensues. Mantis losing. Baroness shouts for Mantis Guards to fall back. They turn round, then ignore us. Baroness shouts “Terek! Shoot the noble!” but listens when I suggest this could provoke an incident. Instead she orders Terek to shoot one of the armed Al-Malik retainers, then demands they desist. Appeals to sense of fulfilled justice. The Al-Malik disperse. Baroness goes to question Mantis Guard. I have minor dispute with Baroness over forms of address (Brother vs. Canon). A Scraver approaches. She says she is seeking the Baroness Allessandra Decados. Baroness admits nothing, and asks why. Scraver says she has heard Allessandra is looking for an archaeologist. Peasant runs past screaming that the sky is falling. Minor earthquake. A junior Reeve approaches Ivo and the Scraver, whispering to each in turn. Scraver offers her services as an archaeologist once more. Baroness comments on her trip to badlands and we argue again. Haggling, the Baroness agrees to hire the Scraver. As part of payment, the Scraver demands some of the Church’s share of salvage! We argue while walking. Loathsome Scraver!

Arrive at ore-processing district. Muster soldiers pass. Scraver takes her leave. We continue to Processed Ore Warehouse 1, which is surrounded by shady types. I note that we have arrived, but Baroness says we want 77, so we move on, followed by one of the shady people. Baroness waits, and asks if we can help. He doesn’t answer, and walks off. We move on, heading towards alien slum area looking for places to hire vehicles. Question Baroness over warehouse and point out that we’re going the wrong way. Vehicles in short supply and many looted and damaged. We return to the inn. Messenger approaches Baroness at inn with a sealed scroll and two thugs guarding. She adjourns to her rooms to inspect the scroll, along with Ivo. I bicker with the Scraver. Baroness returns and informs us that we are invited to dinner with Count Gilgar. Ivo professes prior engagement, Guild business. Baroness sends acceptance of dinner and escort there. Time passes.

Well-dressed Mantis Guard arrives and asks Baroness to assist in enquiries over battle in streets earlier. I accompany her with the guards. We arrive at office and are presented to Baron Kohl von Heller. Drinks (tea) are served. Kohl asks about Al-Malik attack on Mantis Guards. Baroness recounts events, saying possibility of ambush or Al-Malik called for assistance. Also comments that she noticed the style of fighting/injury from previous Mantis corpse. Kohl scoffs at suggestion of moon falling and suggests Saladin Al-Malik is up to something. Inciting trouble, profiting from troubles, etc. Kohl surprised by note passed by aide and must leave, saying “Duty calls.”.

We return to the inn, freshen up and head to Count Gilgar’s manor. Servants bring us to the Count, who is in a wheelchair pushed by a servant. Before dinner, drink. Count tells us that the Guilds have seized starport and plan to allow only Guild representatives to leave the planet. Small talk over dinner. Nostalgia over pre-cataclysm Pandemonium. Count says major Gilgar manor is in badlands, with Duke Gilgar (his father) staying out there. Recent events have cut communication and the count asks if we could bring the Duke back to the safety of the city on our trip, along with his chattels and possessions. Baroness agrees and in return prompts (subtly) for assistance in finding parts for her ship. She offers hospitality on ship to Count, who declines. Small talk. Escorted back to the inn, through riots over Guild seizure of spaceport.

Scraver at inn, asks for private talk with Baroness, and they go off. Ivo tells me of Guild plans to usher all their representatives off-planet. Baroness returns with Scraver. I remember that the Shrine of St. Hecla is within the Gilgar manor. Could be minor pilgrimage? Ivo goes to his room. Baroness goes to bed. The Scraver advances upon me, and starts suggesting carnal pleasures to me. My reasoned arguments fail to foil her, so I’m forced to resort to chanting prayers and singing hymns (Oh Holy Flame!) to drown out her sinful suggestions and try get rid of her. Baroness returns, and I excuse myself to conduct prayer for the evening. The Baroness interrupts mid-way through, demanding my presence, as we have been asked to go immediately to see Count Sharm.

We go. Large gathering of nobles (including Don Marchenko). Count Sharm is ranting, asking what’s going on and demanding that nobles deal with the problems. He says the moon is not crashing into the planet, and picks Ivo out of the crowd as an Engineer to back him up. Who is behind attacks on Mantis Guards? Says deals with Guilds in order to leave are treasonous. Baroness talks with Kohl about the smuggled tech parts. Ivo tells all. Kohl leaves. Damned Scraver keeps following me and won’t leave me alone! Dressed sinfully, too. We circulate amongst the crowds. Crowd disperses after a while. Saladin Al-Malik stays behind at request of Count Sharm. Leaving the manor, we see a starship come down from the sky towards the spaceport. We return to the inn. Evening prayer.

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Day Four

Morning prayers. Terek suggests that he stay behind when entering their house to avoid offending the Al-Malik. Gossip at breakfast: we’re going to be crushed by moon! Riots! String up nobles and priests before the world ends! There is trouble on the streets. People are panic buying as we head via carriage to brunch meeting. Terek waits outside while guards usher us in.

Decadence everywhere. Greeted by charming old man. Feet washed by servants and we proceed into
reception room. Aged version of Istakhr style. Server traditional Istakhr dishes. Amil commiserates over riots. Terraforming. Moon. Amil says contacts in Engineers say it’s serious problem. Possibly moon just put there as 2nd Republic decoration. Small earthquake occurs! Small talk.

Departing, Amil warns that earthquake has sparked new rioting. Mantis Guards out in force round noble district. Carriage back to inn, through thronged masses round Spaceport. Sound of flameguns, burning figure bursts from crowd and dies. Body being strung up and a group of Avestites put a sign on the body saying “Hertic”, saying he convinced a mob to assault the Temple.

The inn is guarded by tough looking thugs. Mantis Guard asks me to read proclamation that Count Sharm says the moon is not going to crash. I put some comments about sin in, for good measure. News well received, but mutters that if the Count denies it then it must be true. Sound of pain outside. Mantis Guard that brought the proclamation has been stabbed. I offer confession as he dies. Hippolyta grants last rites while I look around for suspects, but cannot see any. I go back inside and get a messenger to inform the Mantis Guard. We stand guard over the body, Baroness arrives and Hippolyta informs her. Wait.

Town crier appears, running down the street, knocking on doors and shouting “Terraforming Engineers have abandoned the planet! We’re all doomed!”. Baroness asks us to her room to discuss things. I don’t want to leave the body, so Baroness asks Ivo and I to carry body inside and I inform the innkeeper of the details. Baroness suggests we travel ‘incognito’ in badlands suit.

We head to Amalthean hostel, Baroness explains she wishes to find the Engineer that was there before, as the Count is seeking him. Encounter Avestite band. They now think the “cannibal demon” may be a twisted man instead. He is probably round the Amalthean temple somewhere. I promise to keep a look out for him, and say I will shout if he is found. Brief pause as Hippolyta tends to injured beggar. Hymns heard as we approach temple, in area around.

Arrive at temple and note sick and injured piled up. Baroness searches with Ivo for the Engineer. I help administer last rites as necessary and Hippolyta tends to wounded people. Larger earthquake. Baroness goes to see Engineer. I go to join, but Terek points out a dying man that needs rites. I reluctantly agree, and as the man is not yet dead also take his (babbling) confession before preparing to perform last rites. Then I step outside to see the Baroness returning, and heading over to Hippolyta. Baroness says Engineer wasn’t home and suggests trying Guild quarter.

We walk over to the Guild quarter. Streets full of broken down machinery and filthy scavengers. A Scraver offers guide services. Over to Engineer guildhouse. Smelly, smoky, sooty. Someone offers to sell us air filter masks. Baroness buys one for Hippolyta. Enter Guildhouse. Receptionist with think-machine. Ivo deals with paperwork. We are told we may meet Engineer Sheridan in 49 minutes. To wait, I read out selections from Fervitudes to reassure everyone.

Informed we have 5 minutes and may go to meeting. Arcane directions seemingly designed to confuse
people. We proceed to room, knock and enter. Met by woman who tells us we have 15 minutes to talk. Baroness says we’re looking for Endemar. Sheridan knows him, technobabble, his contract bought by Al-Malik noble through Muster retinue. Contract bought for smuggling forbidden tech (think-machine components). Says moon is going to crash in 2 weeks or days or 2-3 days. Leave office and building.

Return to inn. New proclamation from Count Sharm: situation under control and space travel now
restricted. Idle gossip/rumours. Assist Baroness in writing missive to Count Gilgar requesting meeting. Another to ask if Don Marchenko is well. Evening prayer with Baroness.

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Day Three

Breakfast. Gossip at the table is the physick never came out of Don Marchenko’s room. The Baroness tells me that the false physick attempted to assassinate the Don, and asks for any assistance I may give the Don. He looks tired. Talk of Kurgan wars and need for a crusade against them. Personal note: Kurgans are dangerous. Subtle heresy, but with a possibility for redemption.

Time to visit the Cathedral. Ivo approaches someone on the trip to the flitter, but it appears to be a case of mistaken identity. Arrive at flitter port. Join convoy of flitters, arrive at Cathedral. Neo-Gothic Monumental architecture. Service given by the Bishop himself on faith despite adversity. I am approached by two Avestites to confirm my rank and position, then invited to the local chapel at the south gate sometime during my stay. They have “the seal”. The Baroness makes a donation, then we tour the Cathedral before having a short prayer.

We return to the inn for lunch. Then head over to the Amalthean mission. There is an Engineer working on the machines there, and we are directed to Sister Hippolyta who is to join the Baroness’ retinue. She admonishes the Baroness for the intended trip into the Pandemonium badlands. Tea is served. We walk back to the inn, via the Bazaar. Told by a guide that Chainers are about. Approached by a band of Avestites and informed that a “Monstrous Cannibal Demon” is marauding the streets. They’ve found mauled bodies.

Arrive at inn and meet up with Ivo, who discusses technical matters of some sort with the Baroness. Dispute with Baroness over planned expedition to badlands. Move to show Hippolyta to the rooms, and to take confession from the Baroness but interrupted by roar of engines outside. Looking, we see lizard riders and cars racing down the street. A voice shouts “Halt in the name of the Count!”. Mantis guards move to block the race. Chaos and rioting ensues. The Baroness asks me to fetch my flamegun to quell the disturbance. When I refuse, she orders Terek to fetch it for himself. We proceed to the street, and Terek fires into the air. The Baroness shouts
“Desist at once!”. I step forward and reinforce the command with “Your souls are in peril from these actions.”. Rioting subsides. Hippolyta ministers to the injured. Guard thanks for assistance.

Back into inn and prepare for confession. Baroness confesses [censored]. Knock at door. Hippolyta has message delivered from Baron Von Heller, commander of the Mantis Guard, offering thanks. Baroness talks with Ivo about some old acquaintance of his who is apparently being sought for by the Mantis Guard. Baroness suggests surprise visit to him tomorrow. Knock on door. Messenger has message for Baroness (Al-Malik symbol). She asks if answer is expected. He nods. She gives him a written reply. Baroness says that we are attending brunch tomorrow with Amil Saladin Al-Malik. Terek checks the messenger, who is staring out of the window. Terek looks out the window and remarks to Ivo that the middle moon appears larger tonight. Evening prayer.

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Day Two

Morning. Messenger with invitation to Count Sharm for lunch (along with Don Marchenko) and to check up on “Lotus Blossom”. Carriage to Spaceport to see ship. Man with think machine directs us to docking bay 37B. Craftsman Ivo checks outside of ship, then we enter. Move to bridge, power up. Everything green light, except jump-engine. Ivo fiddles, says some bits missing. I walk around. The ship is decorated in New Dark Age Gothic style. Games room. Sumptuous staterooms etc.

Return to inn. Don Marchenko has fine riding horses. I can’t ride. Change into fine clothes/robes. Pass small band of fanatics confused by an Avestite and an Engineer riding together. Don Marchenko’s horse rears and tramples him, triggering his shield. Terek and the Baroness help. The Don shoves the horse aside! Terek finds a poisoned dart. The Don replaces the energy cell for his shield. Horse problematic so is left here for someone to fetch it.

Arrive at Count’s place. Light lunch and idle talk with the Count. Spiced meats, unknown dish. Gossip about family. I chat with Ivo about the “Lotus Blossom”. Don Marchenko is stiffer on the ride back to the inn, and in pain by the end of the journey. A physick is sent for. Retinue dismissed. Go to evening’s prayers.

Gunshot heard! Step out of room but locals gossiping suggest it is Scraver gangs fighting, or Muster slavers. Return to prayer

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Day One

Arriving at Pandemonium for Baroness Allessandra Decados to pick up spacecraft for her Tour…
The Hub (Spaceport), centre of the city. Disembark with Don Marchenko and a handful of guild people, from the ship Ryko’s Trust. Argument between Scraver and Muster crews over unloading of baggage. Muster group approaches Don Marchenko and threatens him. Discussion with Captain Zaken resolves the dispute, with Scraver unloading and the Muster sulking.

Shocked by smell outside, find we’re on wrong side of spaceport. Hire a guide and carriage to take us to a good hotel, passing through the Bazaar, past Guild houses, Decados estate and The Great Way. Arrive at The Broken Wheel, take rooms and meet Don Marchenko, by coincidence, who invites us to join him for lunch. Eat stew, and make small talk. A messenger is sent to give the Count the Baroness’ regards and announce our arrival on planet. Lunch ends. Ask Terek about Marchenko (Military link?) but he saw no action with the Hazat. Guide returns. Discussion of places to visit, shops, Bazaar, Cathedral (too far today).

Go shopping. Waiting for the Baroness to buy clothes, hear rumours. Rumour that Duke Gilgar is “more machine than man” (from guide), demons in badlands, but can’t enter city due to church influence. Little demons sneaking in through tech? Move on to The Wonderful Crimson Gadget Depot & Treat shop. Baroness loads up on wilderness supplies. Next, head to Guild district to arrange transportation to Cathedral. Getting dark. “Pilgrim’s Transport” still open. Book passage for 2 days hence. Return to inn. Baroness sends notice that she is here to collect her ship. Invited to Don Marchenko’s house-warming party. Baroness invites Don Marchenko to the “demothballing”
of the ship “Lotus Blossom”. Attend to prayer.

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