Rogue Trader - Orthesian Legacy

Gone Soft

Our group does well in these pitiful tests. I am pleasantly surprised.

Shortly after the three trials, our group was gathered together and escorted to the slave pits wherein all the others were held. I guess this meant we were regulars now.

As we wander in, a fellow tech priest approaches us. Unlike me, he is old, rusted, and decrepit, likely one of the first of his kind. He talks openly to Lumi and casually mentions a revolt. I care nothing for politics, but I’m pretty sure it is unwise to discuss escape plans so freely. Oh well. We agree to his terms and set about working our own niches.

I lumber over to the vile mutant group. I’ve already pin pointed the leader of this rag tag crowd as I walked. A Boar-like creature of great stature, almost matching my own size. He’s eyeing me as I approach. I care not for his appearance. He stands up. The boy doesn’t even have the scars that display experience. I slam my fist into the top of his chest and feel his sternum crack and crumble away from all his ribs. He collapses slowly. I growl at the other imps, demanding they follow me. I watch as some run away. Some stand frozen. One that is fairly close to me smells of soiled clothes- puny creature cannot even contain his own piss.

This is a feeling that has been my companion for a long portion of my life. Fear. I can feel the terror of these mutants. Three of the largest mutants and a small, hideous mutant named Anders offer their services. The three look decent enough. Anders just looks amusing. Oh well, I’ll need a good laugh. I’ll keep them.

I return to my group. Most of us have gained favor with varying people, however, Mordengrave did the opposite; I find a feeling of respect in myself when I examine his deep rooted loathing of the dark eldar scum. Then we are gathered again and led to another fight. Finally.

We enter into a large arena filled with the scraps of buildings and a lone battle tank, upturned and broken. I hear them before I see them. Blood Brides. I have fought a pair once before and they proved difficult. For a time. Eventually I snacked on their tiny frames. I plan this encounter to end the same.

My friends.. ugh.. teammates (I’m getting soft) go to work killing. Mordengrave and I glance at another-I suspect we share the same thought-I pick him up and launch him high and hard. He lands in an explosion of dark elder brain matter. A blood bride runs to me, grins, and fires her weapon. The pellet hits my chest and bounces away, hardly biting at all. I mock her and she flew into a fit of rage and actually threw her weapon away!? Ha! What a prideful brat! I roar wildly and charge her. I spot a sniper on the building above the blood bride and figure my chance for inflicting the greatest amount of damage. As I gain ground, I heft my large hammer and bring it through the shell of the building the bride stands near. The whole building collapses easily, bringing bricks, rubble and 1 unlucky eldar soldier to the ground.

The building collapses on the three of us. I don’t mind. I figure if I’m buried I can take a quick nap. But Hitomi doesn’t allow my nap. She walks over and nonchalantly fires into the skull of the fallen eldar sniper. I grumble and brush the debris off my body and while doing so I notice a glint. It looks like the hilt of a blade. I look back at the blood bride’s body-still breathing- then back to the hilt. Without taking my eyes of the glint this time, I grab the bride’s slack body out of the rubble and bring my jaws to a close around her skull. She is skinny and bony but still, food is food. I stay low and pull a falchion out of the dirt. An unimpressive sword, but a blade nonetheless.

As the battle dies down, Maata drags a limp body onto the tank and violins his head away from the rest of his body. The crowd loses it. Her skill in rousing audiences is frivolous albeit awesome.

Then without warning Strang’s neck sparks and after a blink, he is grabbed by the shoulders and drug into the void. Deamons suck. It is too bad. I am often annoyed by other beings but Strang was at least an entertaining fool.

I have definitely gone soft..

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The Book of Skorn - 3

I suppose none of us should be surprised about where we’ve found ourselves. After all, we were working alongside the most treacherous xenos of them all.

The plan was going well, or so it seemed. We’d decided to use the xenos soiree as our way into the ziggurat, then sneak away and infiltrate the depths of the massive citadel, wherein we would find the Soul Reaver, and be done with this horrid business of working with the xenos.

Then it got complicated. Personal.

All those Vendigroths, right? It was their fault. Inessa wasn’t about to tolerate any tarnish on her name, and so was determined to put a stop to Nadya before the woman could leave the Nexus of Shadows.

Well, that all went down at the xenos soiree. One Vendigroth tried to kill another, and before long we were all fighting it out in a flaming pit of carnivorous plants. A real delight. It almost worked out for us, though. Nadya Vendigroth was critically injured. Their brother, Daniel, was dead. We found ourselves a passage down to the base of the Ziggurat, practically leading us right to the Soul Reaver.

The thing was massive. Hideus. Dark xenos filth. And we walked right it.

But we had company. Scores of xenos scum followed us in there. We were surrounded. We’d have put up a good, blood-soaked fight, but it would have been to no avail.

We were detained, and now we’re drenching with blood the hot sands of the xenos fighting pits

It’s bloody work. We’ve faced other slaves in single combat. We’ve faced whole groups of trained xenos. We’ve faced a massive xenos beast. We’ve even done battle in a twisted arena made to simulate the void. Some of us have fared better than the others. Arms have been lost. Legs crushed. Guts spilled. But the Emperor Protects, and we’re hanging on.
Mayhaps we’ll even find a way out of here, after all.

But if I have to split a few more xenos skulls before we’re done, I won’t be complaining.

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Spineless Smears

After speaking briefly with a many-armed ruffian, we have decided to help work the slaves of the Shadow Spine Pits into revolt. We split to best organize and persuade the slaves, according to our particular abilities. I followed along after Vesper to lend aide if necessary. She spoke with a member of Adeptus Asartes at length. Eventually, we learned that this Space Marine would be willing to assist in our endeavors but we will need to help him retrieve his power armor. I believe he said the power armor resides in Anyalra’s private quarters.

I am not sure at this time of any successes of the others, but Strang would not shut up about ‘his boy’ Otto. Apparently, Otto punched out the leader of the mutants, a boar-man, and demanded the respect and fealty of the mutants. Strang says Otto is feared by all the mutants. Strang kept insisting it was ‘awesome.’ I have acknowledged his opinion numerous times, and still he tells the story.

Once again we are sent into the pits. I wonder why the Dark Eldar are allowing us to fight together. I would have imagined they would set us against each other. Do they realize we were captured as a group? Or is it mere coincidence we remain together?

I do not have long to ponder this, as I realize our opponents are equipped with guns. What sort of spineless sneak allows guns into a pit fight? Any fool with a gun could easily kill! Guns do not encourage any sort of skill or technique. Whoever allowed this is a SMEAR upon pit fighting! I try to contain my rage, forcing it down. Pushing down. Pushing. I am pushing down with my legs, into the earth. Pushing forward, I sprint behind some ruins that are scattered through the arena. As I run between two outcroppings I see…. I see Mordengrave flying through the air…?! He lands a shattering blow to an opponent. I can no longer see them as I duck behind a wall, but I hear his wet landing, that signals of success.

I cut around the last corner and spot one of them. I use my momentum to reach him in a slide. As I slide, I use my mono dagger to severe the tendons that connect his foot to his leg. He is immediately hobbled. He growls in anger and pain as he attempts to raise his gun and take his revenge. At that moment, Otto roars and one of the taller ruins behind me collapses in a plume of stone, shrapnel, and dust. Otto’s tremendous roar sends a jolt through my opponent and the spray of the needler misses me. Over my head, Vesper brings a shock staff down into the man, and continues running past. He is stunned. I feel the battle around me drawing to a close. The dust is settling onto the prostrate bodies of the opponents. But my job is not over. We must finish them. I grasp the man’s arm and start dragging him back towards the overturned tank near where we entered. I yank him atop and sit. I cradle his head into my chest. His eyes begin fluttering and he moans. I again take my dagger to his flesh. Sawing slowly through flesh and veins in his neck. His moans turn to frantic screams. He tries to use his lifeless feet to push and scramble away, but he will gain no traction with them now. As I play, I look up into the frantic crowd. I once again lock eyes with the Dark Eldar woman. She ignores those around her. I know what Otto speaks of feeling like a possession now. I fear treading too close to this Dark Eldar but I know this is not the last time I will stare into her eyes. My gaze is broken as a Dark Eldar brasierre sent flying from the crowd, lands near my feet.

Around me, others are collecting trophies, new weapons that they stash beneath armor. As we meander to the exit, Strang once again talking excitedly, he is suddenly cut short. I turn to see the startled face disappearing into a daemon warp portal.

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Captain's Log
Star Date 174.811.M41

Today was a failure. Not just for the Orthesian Dynasty and the Imperium of Man, but for my crew, and my ability to lead them.
Many atrocities occurred today, with the destruction of an entire city at the hands of heretical deamon worshiping scum. There were many failures that were out of our control, for we can only do so much with our abilities as Men, and the limitations that it creates. My personal failure, however, was my inability to control my own crew.
As the Far Kingdom crumbled around us, we lost some esteemed officers through portals into nowhere, as well as receiving officers from just as unknown locations, but with them enemies of the highest level.
When questioned about their recent and distant histories regarding those we consider to be against the Dynasty in the highest tier, I was met with obvious lies and disrespect for the situation at hand. I had right to believe that such histories might have been related to the mass destruction and loss of life on the planet below, and personal privacy was treated as a major priority, over the lives of people. As I further pressed into the situation, more of my crew began to turn on me, claiming that my curiosity was unfounded, and pointless to the situation at hand.
Being born in, and raised through, an understanding of the chain of command, especially in times of extreme duress and danger, I was astounded by the sheer lack of discipline and respect from my own officers of my crew, aboard my ship, in my Dynasty.
Thoughts crossed my mind of house arrest, and even “air-locking” for, though I tried to resist such extremities, the thought of a mutiny terrified me, and I was in need to take my ship back into order, whatever the means.
Because of my respect for my officers, and their talents and perceived respect for me, I ended the conversation without any immediate punishment.
Even now, as we head to a new planet, I worry that I will lose control of my crew, and they will lose sight of our mission here.
I release this Captain’s Log to all Officers aboard my ship, in hopes that they, and the powers that be, will understand my desire to serve the God-Emperor and the Imperium of Man is above all, and I hope they follow my zeal, into the greatness that I know we can restore the Orthesian Dynasty to, once again.
God-Emperor Bless the Orthesian Dynasty.
God-Emperor Bless the Imperium of Man.

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"Blood," "Agony," "Horror," they whisper

Now seems like an odd time to continue practicing my letters, but I must always learn. The Order of the Argent Shroud has been diligent in teaching me.
We have been captured. Honestly, I do not know much of the intricacies of the politics that surround me. But then they placed me back into a pit. It nearly brought a smile to my face.
One by one we were shoved forward into the pit to face what they told us would be the Trial of the Blood. When I entered, I stood face to face with a woman. But I saw no face. My mind was already scanning the arena for any advantages I could use as our weapons had been taken. The piles of smoldering ashes caught my eye. The torches were much too high on the walls to be of use. But I had seen ashes used in combat before. I knew precisely what to do. I turned and bolted toward the nearest pile, hoping I seemed afraid and that she would pursue. I skidded to a halt next to the pile. She reached me a split second later. Her mistake was gasping as I lunged at her with two fistfuls of hot ash. That single gasp sped her towards her death. She grabbed at her throat as she struggled to breath. Eyes wide with fear, her face began to mottle. I continued shoving ashes until I could force no more into her gaping mouth. I circled her as she struggled, stretching my legs. I glanced up only to meet eyes with a Dark Eldar woman in the crowd. The rest of the crowd was wild, but she sat there only smirking.
After a brief rest, in which a few of my crewmates were patched up, we were shoved through a maze of tunnels again. I was proud of my team, I had not expected all of them to survive and do so well in a round in the pit.
The next trial we did not fair so well. The Dark Eldar tortured us one by one. Most of the others passed out at some point. My body wished I could accept the sweet release but my mind screamed against it. Warning me of what might happen if I let my guard down. Warning me of what I could lose.
Again there were whispers, Trial of Terror they mumbled.
Soon I was kneeling in a circle of Dark Eldar. They watched with pleasure and fascination as a liquid is forced down my throat.

…I feel like all the nerve endings in my throat have gone dead. The world spins, and I try to blink it off, but that only makes it worse. After a moment, I can taste dirt, feel the grit in my teeth. I push myself off the ground, stumbling to my feet, fighting for balance on the uneven ground as music pounds through my skull.
I know this song. It’s my song. They play it… they used to play it when I fought. I turn in a circle. I’m back in the pit. I’m home. But wasn’t I just…
Something roars behind me. I whip around. Behind a set of bars is a beast the likes of which I’ve never seen, but I’m not worried. I can handle it. I can always handle it. Every monster they threw at me.
As the beast lunges at me, the scene suddenly switches, and I’m kneeling on the bridge of a xenos vessel, listening to the creatures report on the fall of the Imperium, watching the reports as everything I thought I knew once again falls apart. Just when I think I know something, just when I thought I no longer had to be afraid…
Someone asks what they should do with me. “Kill her. Humankind is vile and must be exterminated.” The sounds of a gunshot rattles through my skull…

I fight to gain control, this can’t be real. I’ve learned too much, fought too hard to lose all control again! I cannot die a cowards death, to a cowards weapon! I am no longer just a pawn, fighting for someone else’s reward. I still fight, yes. But I fight for myself!

I realize I am back in the dungeons. I glance up and notice the whole ring of Dark Eldar looking slightly disappointed. I suppose it was not enough of a spectacle for them. But they are impressed.
Back in the main arena the crew are all thrown in together this time. I hesitate. Are we meant to kill each other? I’ve killed plenty… but …these people? A gate is drawn and a Clawed Fiend comes roaring out. Luckily I had not moved against any that I came into this place with. Together this time, we work to slay the massive beast. By the end the crowd is in a frenzy, and most of us in the arena are slick with innards. Strang with his own.

[Hallucination sequence obviously not mine, Miriam’s brilliant writing, and I hope she doesn’t mind me changing/adding a few words]

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Curious Encounters Log 2
Enraging Orks

After dealing with the cultists and demons that had somehow made their way to the Moulde’s estate, we met a rather unpleasant figure, the second-in-command judge of Ma’ene, who questioned our intentions. I looked over at Hitomi and Nebula, who looked ready to terminate this underwhelming judge. Before they could carry out their intentions, we met Tyrus Moulde’s sister, who immediately became distressed about her late brother.

After asking around what Tyrus may have wanted to tell our group, we decided to leave Ma’ene and head over to the Far Kingdom to help them out with their ork problem. After avoiding a crash with some smaller ork aircraft, we made it safely to the Far kingdom.

But first, we decided to explore the underground tunnels for clues about the shattersphere and the Zandaran cult. We weren’t able to look around for very long when we were attacked by a group of hideous orks. The fungal smell makes me want to gag, even now. But my newfound anger for these… befouling creatures overpowers my senses… especially smell, as one of the larger orks managed to slice my nose off.

Until I can find a suitable replacement, I will have to hide what I used to consider a nose.

End Log 2

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Transmitted Message - Encrypted

Father,

Please accept my sincerest apologies for not messaging you sooner. I have been quite preoccupied with these endeavors you have commended to me. My time with the Orthesian crew has been both enlightening and disillusioning. For the most part, they seem softhearted and blind. However, several of the officers have impressed me somewhat. We have arrived at the planet Nephael, and having made my combat training plainly manifest, our most esteemed Orthesian Heir requested my presence on the surface.

It is sickening. The air. The sunlight. Solid ground beneath my feet. It was all I could do not to regurgitate every meal I’ve eaten on this retched rock. The void looms as always, beckoning. I long to dive again into it’s turbulent blackness.

There is a building here, the Librarium. Supposedly filled with artifacts, relics and other antiquaries. The place is well guarded and warded at that. I don’t believe I would be able to enter unscathed. The people here put on a show of respect, acquiescing to any minor request, but I don’t think there will be anything of significance we can get out of them without resorting to more extreme measures.

We were approached by one man, a leader of one of the districts here, a Tyrus Moulde, who requested our help. I sensed something about the man, something subtle, but I believe he had information that would have helped our mission. Unfortunately, the man is no more. He had an unfortunate encounter with a group of demons. Khorne’s thralls, I believe. I was hoping to avoid such a meeting, yet I made quick work of them. You would be proud. They had subjugates with them, proclaimants of Zerathan. . .the name tugs at my memories, yet I cannot recall.

We found a recording Moulde had left before the demons gutted him. The man was clearly driven mad by something. A “flood before the drowning”. One of the crew—a strange, mad, little thing—also spoke of “worlds drowning” after speaking to a pillar. . .I will dig further into this as I have opportunity.

We have now been led to the other side of the planet in search of more ruins. I will write you again once we have completed the search.

Your son,
Cadogan

P.S. I still have seen no sign of your “acquaintance”, though I am ever watchful.

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This will not stand
Inessa's thoughts

My name has been befouled.

She will pay. The name of Inessa Vendigroth will not be besmirched.

These rumours will not leave the Nexus of Shadows – whatever the cost.

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Curious Encounters Log 1
Not exactly what I signed up for, but…

I could never have guessed what would happen to me while I have worked these short weeks with the Orthesians. I have met so many interesting people, along with many terrifying creatures and cultists! Although the Ecclesiarchy considers me as a heretic, my faith in the God-Emperor has yet to be shaken, even with what horrors my eyes have beheld.

I have worked as a void-master, which is no easy task, especially travelling through the Warp. From hallucinating about a blood-god, to waking up to find dead rats in a circle around me, I pray that we put off going through the Warp as much as we can.

Only recently have I made my cooking talents known, which I should have done sooner: the food they serve aboard is terrible! I shall remedy that soon.

The crew aboard the Prometheus are enthralling! I can’t begin to describe the people that work for Captain Cornelius. Hitomi Shiganori, the Astopath, is a very kind but serious woman who has saved me several times from the clutches of demons, including one which impaled me several times. It was a very unpleasant situation.

The navigator, Nebula Ilioneyse, is a brilliant one at that, though she struggled in our last engagement in combat, and lost one of her dark but intriguing eyes. But, for some reason, she has kept the question of whether I have known her before joining the Orthesians running through my head. She seems familiar somehow.

Our explorator, Lumi Victors, is one of the most interesting characters I’ve met within the time I have been with this crew. Things wouldn’t be nearly as exciting without her. She, also, in our latest fight with demons ended with her losing an eye. I don’t dare say it aloud with them around, but I have dubbed Lumi and Nebula the “Cyclops twins”! …Now that I think it… I pray they do not find this log.

There are many more members of this crew which I wish to recount, but after this past battle, I only wish to eat some decently-cooked food and rest.

End Log 1

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Navigator's Log 2.04
Nephael

As we entered the Nephael system, we were greeted by a call from a woman who made us welcome and told us that the planet was expecting us. Moments after ending the call with her, we received another call, from none other than Lord Admiral Bastille. After determining that he’d essentially abandoned our partnership because the battle was “too messy” and he showed up late, got anxious, then turned and ran like Lumi at a dinner party, he requested our help with something odd.

Apparently the other half of the planet Nephael, the “Far Side,” was under attack by Orcs. He asked for our assistance in turning the tide, mentioning the possibility of hefty profits from the natural resources there. We told him we’d consider it.

On the way, we examined the planets and stars in the system. Once we landed, we were greeted by a certain Delan Min, the planet’s ambassador to the Imperium. He answered our questions about the planet’s history, including some questions about the cult that used to control it. He then took us on a tour of the city, which was absolutely gorgeous. I don’t think I’ve felt quite so uncomfortably at home since last time I was on Terra.

Years ago, now.

Two buildings made of the center of the city – the Librarium-Vault, and the Sanctophant’s palace. The Librarium had a psykic resonance, and Hitomi gathered that it was the source of the planet’s guard against chaos. She asked if we could go and study it, and Delan obliged. We only got as far as the front door when we were stopped by a stunning woman, Battle-Sister Lysara Vade, who looked as though she could kill me. She told us we could not go in, and seemed suspicious of our purpose. We informed her that we were here to follow the path of Cognatius, and told her some of the things we knew of him. Hitomi had a rather overwhelming wealth of information to dump.

Satisfied, she allowed Hitomi to inspect the markings on the outside of the Librarium.

After the tour, we retired to the rooms prepared for us – finally, lavish comfort and style, something the Orthesian Dynasty seems to severely lack.

The following night, we attended the welcome banquet, where we were approached by several individuals – Chayne Rastrak, a man from the Far Side, reiterating Bastille’s request for assistance. A man who served the merchant king Diago de Dastarra, who offered to set up a meeting so we could discuss tunnels underneath the city and perhaps learn of Yu’Vath ruins on the planet. A man who simply offered to become a chef on our vessel. Tyrus Moulde, the High Judge of Ma’ene, who seemed nervous and wished us to come to his city-state so he could tell us something.

We were certainly the popular bunch that night. I got drunk and made some friends.

The following morning, we visited the merchant Diago, who gave me a map of the extensive underground ruins, which, he said, labrynthed the entire planet. Then we went on our way to Ma’ene, to the home of Moulde.

We found him dead, his house filled with blood and people torn to shreds, and demons in his room. The battle was bloody and horrific – Hitomi took a near-fatal blow to her chest, and both Lumi and I lost an eye. In the midst of the fighting, I noticed a demon take a token out of Moulde’s pocket and throw it into the warp. The token had the star symbol on it. The cult symbol.

Once the demons were dispatched, the two cultists in the room slit their own throats, but not before parroting that “The Zandaran will rise again!”

The High Judge must have been affiliated with the cult, had second thoughts, and been taken out. What had he wanted to tell us? What was going on here?

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