Iocanthus Incident Report

REF: INQ/ 050619917/BI

++Author: Inquisitor Ravenscar++
++Subject: Expanded mission briefing++
++Recipent: Inquisitorial Acolyte Dren Vythantos


Thought for the day: Heresy grows in idleness.


Message begins
Dren, you will find attached the mission briefing for the investigations of Iocanthus. I realise this is not usually such a thing that you would handle, but my other acolyte teams have been called away to another incident.
A few side notes I believe are appropriate. Aristarchus the Seer is to be trusted, to a point. He is of another Inquisitors acolytes and was bequeathed to me after his death. He is loyal and his authority exceeds your own, I trust you will honour this as best you can. I am sending with you two new acolytes to aid in the investigation. Hopefully it will turn out to be nothing, but vigilance is always a necessity when doing the Ordos' holy work. The planet is dangerous so I have purchased some hired muscle to accompany you. Also coming along, at his own request, is a psyker with a particular interest in investigating Warp phenomenon. I think he may even be joining entirely on the premise of meeting Aristarchus, but he will no doubt be of use to you anyway. I am sorry for the loss of your previous cell. The events on space station 'Leondras' were unfortunate and their deaths were undesirable. However you should know that they died doing the holiest and most important of work. I hope by the time you leave Iocanthus you will have forged these new recruits into a team worthy of the Holy Inquisition.
Emperor Protects
Ravenscar
Message ends



+++ Inquistional Debriefing Report +++

[Classified CAT 1] REF: INQ/ 050619917/BI

M41.18564000
Presiding: Inquisitor Ravenscar
Subject: The Iocanthus Incident
Reporter: Acolyte Vythantos - Acolyte Cell Ferrum
Transcribing Adept: Vorlas Hurlon – Scintillan Tricorn Records Department

++pict feed begins++

++Acolyte Vythantos, taller than average, dark coat of fashionable cut, hair untidy, shadow of stubble, rakish, stands in front of the desk of inquisitor Ravenscar. Ravenscar’s back is to the servitor, only his silhouette can be seen. Vythantos’ posture is relaxed but attentive.++

++white noise then clear sound and they begin to speak++

++Inquistor Ravenscar++

“Please Dren, begin your report, I believe the Servo-skull is now recording. Start from landing on Iocanthus”

++Acolyte Vythantos++

“So we landed on the Iocanthus. Our pilot dropping far too sharply through atmo', I suspect it was his first landing. Regardless the city we landed in proved as your adept had briefed us, a frontier world with nothing of much importance, the Ashleen with their tattoos present on the street the ever present musk of the native export plant.

We were interrupted in our passage across city as we passed through an alley. A clearly unstable old Ashleen man began to harass us shouting of dark tidings, of a Crowfather gathering power and other such incomprehensible babble, which later we would come to understand. Pushing the man aside and continuing to move down the alley we were ambushed by Ashleen gangers who took offence to us thinking that we were harassing the man. I couldn’t talk our way out of their attack and thus light injuries were sustained with, Groot sustaining unconsciousness. Gangers were destroyed or taken into custody when the local Enforcers showed up. I had no problem with their protocol and after elaborating that we were attacked they let us go without hassle.
We made contact with Aristarchus. He was not forthcoming on much of anything related to our investigations though provided some psychic relief for our injuries. About the babblings of the Ashleen, Aristarchus merely told us that the Crowfather was an ancient pagan deity of the planet. You may now perhaps see why my suspicions were immediately raised concerning the warp phenomena we had been sent to investigate, as a concerning amount of pagan rituals and deities have been linked to warp dabbling even in the few case-books I have access to.
Leaving Aristarchus we visited the markets and bought some more supplies, mainly ammunition. Interestingly a stallholder tried to flog us a rusted and pitted bolt pistol. We refused of course, you are still aware that we in the service refer to them as ‘throne-hoses’? Well yeah… it wasn’t happening. Especially with something that looked like it would surely dismember the man trying to fire it when the sled jammed and the bolt shell exploded inside the chamber.”

++Inquistor Ravenscar++

“Dren, if you would get to the more substantive part of your report”.

++Acolyte Vythantos++

“Apologies Inquisitor I will be more prompt.
We left the city after staying the night, in a hired truck with the seer. Initus and the seer spent much time talking of divination and the Tarot. On the first night there was nothing to report. During the second day of travel we pushed farther out into the desert. We spotted our first shale-crows, circling far up in the sky, eyeless and scaly beasts that they are. They followed our truck for the rest of the day.”

++Vythantos removes box of Lho sticks from his coat pocket and indicates them, then speaks.++

“Do you mind Inquisitor?”

++Inquisitor Ravenscar waves his hand and Acolyte Vythantos lights and Lho stick before speaking.++

“That night as we set up camp, we were interrupted by what Groot, Initus and myself can only assume was an animated victim of the shale crows, who appeared at the edge of our firelight and collapsed. When we moved to check on what had come up to our firelight, we saw that his eyes were violently removed, assumedly pecked out by the shale crows. Aristarchus swore that he hadn’t seen the man on the edge of our firelight, that merely we must have missed him when we did our customary sweep. The seer then reprimanded me when I put two rounds into the corpses head to be assured of its death.”

++Acolyte Vythantos inhales deeply on his Lho stick and continues.++

“The next day we progressed towards Stern Hope. During the day we saw what appeared to be a figure on a cliff ridge near the road winding its way up the mountains. We detoured and approached the site. It was at the top of a steep escarpment and I sustained minor injuries, a sprained ankle, grazes and bruises when a section of the escarpment collapsed beneath me. After making my way to the top up a stable path the others followed. There we found symbol of a crow straddling a skull, arcanely marked into the ground. Initus’ divinations told us that a minor manifestation of warp energy had occurred recently on this spot. Suddenly Aristarchus was behind us, and he professed the glory of the image before us a sign that the Emperors Will would surely bless Stern Hope. I chose to disagree with him, and pointed out that it was surely a crow, a sign of this dark being the Crowfather, and a link to the warp activity we had come to investigate. Aristarchus promptly reminded us that he was our senior, and we were blind for not being able to recognise the proud bird as the Aquila. I assure you inquisitor the bird did not have two heads.”

++Acolyte Vythantos takes drag on Lho stick before continuing.++

“That night we made it to Stern Hope and were greeted by the warrior turned preist, Brother Larmark. A hearty and pious fellow he gave us a tour of the camp and we saw the Ashleen tents, though they were absent on a ranging, and some of the small-folk before settled in for the night at the boarding house. I did my best to get information from the folk in the tavern. I learn that strange lights had been seen on the edge of town recently, and that the Warlord of the Ashleen was on a raid of nearby pagan tribe, he and his Deathsinger, apparently a hedge-witch of some sort were set to return on the morrow. Initially I was concerned due to their pagan practices but everything resolved itself later on.”

++ Acolyte Vythantos’ Lho stick smoulders in his hand as he gestures and begins to pace slightly as he gives his report. He inhales sharply on the stick as he turns into his pacing.++

“I was unable to find out anything interesting about Stern Hope, the Ashleen, other than that they rode the giant reptilian indigenous dust-dogs or about the cathedral. Abbot Skae refused to see us as Lamark told us he was currently tending to the healing of a sick child. We stayed the night in the hostel and I received many a glowing commendation from the population of Stern hope about the Abbot.”

++ Acolyte Vythantos’ looks down as some ash falls from his Lho stick and lands of the carpet, before taking a subsequent drag on the Lho stick and then deftly flicking the smouldering remains into the waste shoot berfore gesturing to something out of the range of the pict capture.++

“May take a seat Inquisitor?”

++Inquisitor Ravenscar leaning back in his chair before leaning forward again.++

“Certainly, just bring it into view of the Servo-skull.”

++Acolyte Vythantos turning his back to the Servo skull pulls across a hardwood seat from outside frame of the pict capture. Acolyte Vythantos turns back to the servitor and sits, lounging with his right boot propped up upon his left knee before continuing.++

“In the morning the Abbot saw fit to meet with us. I can say that while he appeared orthodox he was also most dour, single-minded, high handed and arrogant and he did nothing to appease our desire to investigate and possible warp phenomena. Aristarchus was invited to meet with the Abbot and left us to our own devices, with the assistance of Brother Lamark however, to investigate. Lamark had planned for us to take a truck out into the foothills around Stern Hope to investigate the strange lights reported by the populace to be coming from those locales.

I took it upon myself to investigate the sick child and offer my blessings to the family and then we set off into the foothills.

The top of the foothills that surround Stern Hope are several hours journey from the cathedral and the entire time we were outside of the walls around the cathedral we were hounded by shale crows. Once we parked the truck and exited I took it upon myself to blow a shale crow out of the air with my rifle to disperse them. We then trekked into the foothills with lamark.

Half way up the incline we were ambushed by a horrible flensed and necrotised creature, that later Lamark informed us was a Hexilid. I can only presume that the abomination was animated by warp energy it was so damnably constituted. It had evidently been stalking us for quite some time. Imagine a creature about the size of a horse with salamander jaws and dog paws. I am told that after the stench of the creature and its horrid presence had washed over us I raised my rifle to shoot at it and then keeled forward having passed out from shock. Groot and I sustained heavy injuries and I am told that Lamark, Initus and Groot managed to finish off the beast before it began to devour us.

We limped back down to the truck and made back for camp, Groot and Lamark tending to our wounds as best they could. On arriving back in town we were able to meet with Aristarchus who was nothing but praise for the Abbot, and actually seemed put back that we would ask him to use his power to heal our quite obviously serious injuries. We begrudgingly healed us and then shut his door in our faces as he needed to sleep to prepare for the ceremony the next day. After this we watched the Ashleen return to camp and spoke to their Cheiften, who seemed a strong and relatively devout fellow for a recently converted warlord. We were however unable to speak to the Deathsinger as she was preparing herself for the ceremony on the morrow.

Having gained no further information we rested.

In the morning we went to the ceremony, properly prepared should anything go wrong.”

++Inquisitor Ravenscar interrupts.++

“Properly prepared? Properly prepared at such a ceremony, what do you mean properly prepared?

++ Acolyte Vythantos looking taken aback.++

“You were an Acolyte once too sir, surely you have gone to a formal event in full armour with all your weapons loaded and firing primed?”

++Silence++

++ Acolyte Vythantos continues++

“Well at the very least our suspicion that something would go wrong, created from the various warp-crowfather-hexilid related encounters was proved false, for that particularly moment. Instead we were attacked by another group of Ashleen warriors.

Lamark rushed into the cathedral to give the alarum, and we immediately moved to defend the perimeter of the Cathedral. We held on the steps against a first wave of unmounted berserker Ashleen. We accounted for more than half a dozen of their number by the time they made the steps, though they caused some civilian casualties along the way. Only three of some twelve Ashleen made it to the steps, one accounted for my foot with his cleaver…”

++ Acolyte Vythantos lowers his leg an taps his left boot with his right, a dull metallic sound is heard. ++

“Initus proved himself a formidable melee fighter attempting to throw not only his staff, but also his psykana mercy blade, at a cleaver armed Ashleen, before Groot blew a hole through the Ashleen with his shotgun and then eviscerated the one standing over me with that horrifying mono-axe of his. Unfortunately the third dropped Groot with his cleaver, Groot quickly passing into unconsciousness. Thankfully Initius’ stub revolver accounted for the final one.

Groot being unconscious, Initus and I put a tourniquet my left shin, or then, more properly a stub, as best as possible and pulling over a pew made an improvised snipers nest. With Initus’ psychic barrage, distracting and hampering the Ashleen and the rival cheiftan on their dust-dogs ravaging the civilians my shots accounted for the remainder of the still mounted warriors.

After quickly reviving Groot we saw to the defense of the Genetorum reasoning that power to the Cathedral was the most important concern, than the loose dust-dogs. My two companions helped me hobble across the compound. Arriving at the Genetorum just behind some Ashleen, tsome truly inspired shotgun work from Groot and psychic assault from Initus managed to dispatch the warriors, groot also removing a firebomb from the Genetorum. Initus then managed to pull the final firebomb out of the Genetorium and throw it away, it exploding mid-air seconds later.

Hobbling back to the Cathedral, we found Abbot Skae and the Deathsinger in a heated argument about the cause of the attack. As we arrived the Deathsinger stormed off from the Abbott and minutes later the Ashleen left the camp. The tension in the camp, already high after the bloody attack rose with the departure of the Ashleen. An hour or so later whilst we treated to our various injuries Abbot Skae and Aristarchus confronted us and charged us with tracking down and capturing or killing the Ashleen Deathsinger and chieftain for their treachery. I remarked that it was a different tribe that attacked, and perhaps we should be more worried about potentially apostate, or heretical forces at work trying to interrupt the ceremony. I was told to obey the direct orders of a superior Inquistional agent by a livid Aristarchus and so we got in the truck again and left the smouldering camp to visit the Deathsinger despite our better sense.

++ Acolyte Vythantos lets out a sigh.++

“It is actually ridiculous Inquisitor, the calibre of acolytes that some other Inquisitors keep. Even Groot and Initus, on their first deployment as acolytes, knew that something was amiss more than the Abbot would let on, and Aristarchus was still blindly being led astray by the Abbot. Of course we would learn why later…

Parking and approaching the camp we saw the accursed shale crows circling. The chieftain and two of his warriors met us with shotguns drawn. We informed them of our Inquisitional agency and that we were instructed to bring them back to the cathedral. They refused, and we informed them that in such a circumstance it was our orders to kill them. However we said we had little trust by this point for the Abbot and they at least seemed like reasonable folk. I said that we wished to discover exactly the nature of the “this bloody crowfather business” I think it was that I said, and then we could talk about what we would do next.

The Deathsinger emerged and accepted our request and it was then that the shale crows- struck. The Ashleen retreated inside their tent and a flock of crows went after them. A flock of crows attacked the dust-dog barn and another attacked us, caught in the open. Needless to say we fought as best we could, injuries were sustained but Groots shotgun finished of the vile birds. I remarked to him that I would be referring to him as Crowslayer from then on as we surveyed the carnage inside the tent.

The three Ashleen men were dead, their eyes plucked out and the Deathsinger clung to life, her eye sockets bloodied. Viscera and dead crows covered most of the tent. The Deathsinger handed us a book, with her charm pressed against it, bloodied from her wounded hands. With a mutter she grabbed Initus’ staff, and blessed it with a charm to ward off the Crowfather, just before she expired. We leafed through the book as best we could and discerned that the crowfather was indeed an ancient daemon of the planet and that it was said that he would one day be reborn. It was written in the book, in some riddle or some such that we managed to piece together that one needed to destroy his vessel’s eyes to stop the crowfather being reborn.

Taking the Ashleen charm from the Deathsinger, we quickly hurried back to Stern Hope to find the camp eerily empty, an pall of foreboding and dread having fallen over Stern Hope. Aristarchus was not in his room at the hostel and nearby, between the Hostel and the Cathedral we found the broken form of Brother Lamark. He barely clung to life, surrounded by the bodies of a dozen crazed locals, his long las serving him one last time in the Emperor’s service. “I knew you would come…didn't lose faith…stop the Abbot…” he wheezed as he expired thrusting his Aquila into my hand. Standing we approached the Cathedral, gingerly moving up the steps, weapons cocked and we were suddenly all gripped with a terrible fear as a dark presence washed over us, the Ashleen charm and Lamark’s Aquila growing hot against my chest. It was like wading through veritable putrescence, but we managed will ourselves onwards into the Cathedral.

The sight that confronted us was a mockery of the ceremony that was meant to take place. The populace sat blank eyed staring up at the dais, whimpering and moaning as their minds were dominated by whatever was the terror that was clearly trying to push through the veil. The Abbot stood at the pulpit, psychic frost emanating from his form, a pale purple lightning playing across his body, his eyes wide open and turned solid black. Infinitely worse though, was the form of Aristarchus spread eagle, floating above the dais, his tarot spread in a fan about him as a huge, monstrous and horrible sentient, ink black gaseous thing spiralled down from the supernaturally dark ceiling of the cathedral towards his horribly enraptured face.

We began to steel our minds too late and the Abbot’s voice ensnared us.

I woke half way down the aisle to the pulpit, as Groot, staggered past me towards the Abbot’s outstretched hands, which I now saw had ben warped into a travesty of a crow’s talons. I shouted to Initus to wake Groot and something along the lines that if he so much thought about using psychic powers I would possess him myself. I shouted up to Arsitarchus as best I could, using all the persuasiveness I could muster, entreating him to stand down that a Daemon was trying to claim his very soul. He responded simply that “Drusus had come to take him, and that he would be reborn as a saint.”

++ Acolyte Vythantos stops speaking. And seems to be looking off into space++

++Inquisitor Ravenscar++

“Dren? If you would. Please continue with your report I wish to know how you dispatched the creature.”

++Acolyte Vythantos coming out of revere++

“Ah yes. Well after that I opened fire aiming for the Abbot’s eyes. I missed three times before Groot and Initus, Initus still struggling to hold back Groot, reached the Abbot and the Abbot reached out to eviscerate them both. Suddenly Groot awoke and pushing Initus out of the way, kicked back the Abbot. My shots now blocked I lowered my rifle as Initus threw Groot his blessed staff, and with two clean blows Groot blinded the Abbot.

Suddenly the warp-frost and pallor retracted. Aristrarchus and his cards fell with a dull thud to the dais, the darkness disappeared and the civilians awoke. Sadly it appeared their minds were gone, many of the good people of Stern Hope awoke to the light of the God Emperor from their journey in the dark places and fell in upon themselves, whimpering and mewling and some merely staring blankly at the ceiling.

Aristarchus was probably dead by the time he hit the ground.

And you know the rest Inquisitor.”

++Acolyte Vythantos flicks his eyes towards the pict capture briefly before returning his attention to Inquisitor Ravenscar. ++

++Inquisitor Ravenscar. ++

“If you could recount rest please Dren, for the Tricorn records?”

++ Acolyte Vythantos. ++

“Certainly Inquisitor.

As I understand it the psychic shock of the daemon being sent back to the writhing currents of the Empyrean brought the attention of every psyker, on world, or enroute to Stern Hope and with this attention we shortly received reinforcements and relief. Military assets from the nearby Adepta Sororitas convent arrived after twelve or so hours. By the time they had arrived most of the civilian’s minds were completely gone from the ordeal. The Ashleen were long since gone. We had spent the time sheltering in the Hostel and watching over the broken people of Stern Hope, too exhausted to make the three day journey back to Port Suffering. The Sororitas when they arrived quickly cordoned off Stern Hope and brought in Purgatation and Clerical assets and saw to clean up having interviewed us and received our account of events. I used Inquisitional authority to strongarm us an airlift out of Stern Hope to receive medical and mental treatment at Port Suffering.

Whilst in Port Suffering the Sororitas forwarded me their report which I forwarded to you via the Administratum building choir. All civilians of Stern Hope were too traumatised for rehabilitation and were converted in servitors or summarily executed. The Ashleen where they could be found were executed without interrogation, much the opposite of the suggestion I had made to the Sororitas, but this is the Ecclesiarchy we are talking about. The Deathsinger was not found and it appeared she survived, a fair trade I suppose for an apostate psyker, considering it was her help that averted a true disaster, the rebirth of a pagan deity at Stern Hope.

The Brazen Sky brought us back to Scintilla at 0218 hours, and at 0415 I entered your office.”

++Silence++

++Inquistor Ravenscar++

“Has anyone every told you Dren that you should have been a Remembremancer?”

++ Acolyte Vythantos smiling. ++

“Not solely a few women sir.”

++ Silence in which Inquisitor Ravenscar places his elbows on the desk and forms a steeple, leaning forward to rest his jaw on his hands. ++

++Inquisitor Ravenscar++

“None of the population of Stern Hope survived the incident?”

++Acolyte Vythantos frowns and then his face returns to expressionless. ++

“Sir, it was the Ecclesiarchy. And I would have given the same orders. We are the Inquistion after all.”

++Inquistor Ravenscar rising from his chair. ++

“End recording.”

++pict feed and sound ends with a sputter and white noise++

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