Valdane's Chronicles

Standing in the Shadow - Part 1

A new investigation begins

After a few weeks of recovery aboard the Reliant Dawn, the acolytes return to Hive Desoleum.

Valdane explains that word has reached him of more disturbing activities within the hive. The Sanctionary Bondsmen enforcing law in Desoleum’s underhive have requested Inquisitorial aid.

The acolytes are to descend into the darkness of the Gallowsway to investigate the situation, and take whatever steps are necessary to prevent further contamination of humanity. They are given coordinates to a lift that takes them down into Desoleum’s decaying underbelly.

At the bottom, the acolytes are met by three Sanctionary Bondsmen. The one in charge, a woman, greats them as Oath-Captain Nils. She offers an oily, extendible tarp to keep off the waters streaming down from the decrepit ceilings high above. Nils explains that after she saw the crime scene, she knew it necessitated “higher” involvement.

The Gallowsway is a dank and forgotten place perched on the under-edge of Desoleum City. It seems as though very little in the way of wealth from the hive has trickled down here. Nor has power, light, or food. The Gallowsway is home to thousands of unclaimed corpses. Sent each day from the poorer sections of the city above for disposal, they fest in monumental warehouses before being processed in the level’s numerous Mortuarius Factorums. It is a foul place to live, but one that must exist lest the city become choked with its own dead.

The Gallowsway is a maze of rusted streets with feeble, failing local lighting barely containing the darkness. In places, the visibility is hampered further by sluggish fog rising up from below. Filthy refuse chokes the low-ceiling corridors and thoroughfares through which Oath-Captain Nils leads the acolytes

The constant, dripping rain is almost maddening. Filthy liquid continues to pour down from the hundreds of hive-levels above. It never ceases, and it leaves the acolytes and their gear covered in an oily sheen.

Much like the dead, Gallowsway’s citizens are slump-shouldered and stumble about their daily lives, pale and listless.

Eventually, the acolytes enter a three-story building. The spacious main chamber is piled high with junk and the ceiling sags in several places. Nine pools of congealed blood lay arrayed about the room and fresh las-burns and bullet holes scarring the wall speak to recent violence. The air is thick with the smell of blood and an overpowering scent of decay. Several Sanctionaries move about the room, taking picts and speaking in hushed tones.

Nils explains that all of the bodies were moved to the Sanctionary Mortuarium before she arrived and saw the bizarre nature of scene. She shows the acolytes a small, oily-looking rock shard that was recovered from within the warehouse. It seems to absorb all light and, in a way, is similar to the black orb recovered from Guljian’s manor.

Furthermore, a number of crates and small shipping containers are arranged in stacks about the room. Most of these are ancient, as shown by the rotten wood and rusted metal. However, a few are more recent, and appear to have been forced open and ransacked. Uziel finds bloody hand prints on the inside of one of them. The packing material also makes it seem that a few of the items were fragile in nature.

Grax feels the stink of the warp all around this place. Uziel finds clear blood trails and some odd, silicate-based boot prints. Amador surmises that the nature of the dirt means that at least one of the parties originated from outside the hive. Amador also deduces that whoever took the contents of the crates must still be alive and on the run. Grax concurs, feeling a strong warp echo leading away from the structure.

First, the acolytes head to the Sanctionary Mortuarium to examine the bodies and to gain more information about the combatants that were present.

Of the nine corpses total, four had been wearing tattered and filthy robes and two were wearing typical downhive workers garbs. Three of these bodies also show advanced signs of decay.

These first six were found with rusty knives, daggers, a variety of small arms in various states of disrepair, several grisly trophies including a shrunken head, several sheets of filth-smeared parchment written with blasphemous prayers, and a rusted iron talisman. They also were carrying a small number of coins scrimshawed from bone.

Three other corpses are clearly more tanned, and have odd facial scars that appear to be ritualized. They were wearing rugged clothing and light armour. The tanned corpses were well-armed and were equipped with a variety of well-crafted weapons and a secure Vox set.

Amador concludes that the silicate-based dirt trails and tanned bodies mean that any of the individuals that had left the warehouse with the items are likely from the same group of well-armed, well-equipped outsiders.

Upon beginning the autopsy of one of the more decaying corpses, Amador and the Sanctionary-Medicae determine that the rate of decay is not consistent with the time of death. As the Sanctionary-Medicae begins cutting into the corpse, it comes to life, and begins to attack the group using nearby surgical implements.

After dispatching the corpse, the group decides that they need to quickly track down the others who had fled from the scene and to quickly gather more information.

Amador uses the recovered Vox set, finding it still keyed to the combatants’ channel. It seems as if there is a small group, some wounded, moving toward the outer wall of the hive. Due to interference within the hive, the acolytes can only hear one side of the conversation. The group determines that there must also be a force aiding the group from outside of the hive.

The acolytes split up, following various physical trails, psychic echoes from the items taken, and clues from witness throughout the Gallowsway. They pass through the Charnel House district as well as a scrap market, all while closing in on their targets.

Past the scrap market, the acolytes find the Drains, the main hab-block for this district. A constant stream of vile water passes through these structures from above. Located at the end of the primary conveyor hub, the Drains stretch towards the hive wall in a series of prefabricated containers stacked one on top of the other. Shaky walkways bridge the gaps between towers.

Here, Tybs and Uziel are ambushed by a two of the tanned outsiders. In a brief struggle and firefight, Uziel tumbles from one of the walkways, smashing into the ground below and is knocked unconscious. In a tremendous exchange of gunfire, Tybs kills one of the assailants and the other slips away.

After rendezvousing with Amador and Grax, the acolytes continue to track the enemy group past an area called the Boneyard and into a series of maintenance passageways.

Eventually, they find five figures standing at the base of a massive cargo lift, waiting for the platform to arrive. Clearly anxious and loaded with gear, one figure is mashing the call button repeatedly. One of the men is clutching his left arm to his chest, while one is pale, with a growing crimson stain on his tunic.
Although some are wounded, the group is still incredibly well armed.

The acolytes decide to play it safe, waiting for the lift to arrive and for the enemy group to climb aboard. They watch as the platform grinds its way back up into the main hive.

Carrying a gravely wounded Uziel, the acolytes wait for the lift to return and for the chance to resume their pursuit.

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