Rogue Trader - Orthesian Legacy
The Dread Pearl
“The Dread Pearl is a myth! Another lost damned world in a galaxy of lost damned worlds!” –Corbus, Footfall Dock-Scavenger
The world known as the Dread Pearl was once, many thousands of years ago, known as Lilae’Fionnadh. In a long distant age, the alien Eldar came to the world. Although at that time a bare, airless planet, Fionnadh’s position amongst the firmament was found to be especially portentous, and the ancient xenos set about sculpting it to their needs and desires.
Through a process of geo-arcane psychic-engineering that lasted for eons, the Eldar slowly changed the planet, making it into a lush paradise one molecule at a time. The undertaking was not the crude, industrial, and ultimately destructive process humanity would one day inflict on the worlds it colonised, but one in which every grain of sand, every drop of water, every living cell whether plant or animal was slowly crafted to the ancient Eldar’s vision for the galaxy, imbuing every living thing on the planet with their grace.
At the end of this noble undertaking, the world of Fionnadh awakened and came into its power, as if it were sentient and somehow one with the race that had created it. In many ways, the world and those Eldar who came to settle it were indeed as one. Even those as long-lived as the Eldar must in time die, but so attuned were they with their abode that their very spirits joined with that of Fionnadh, so that the ground itself was holy, the air blessed, and the oceans sacred.
Despite a birth lasting ages, Fionnadh’s maturity was tragically short-lived, cut short as the Eldar’s galaxy-spanning empire collapsed, consumed by its peoples’ dark passions and destroyed during a terrible cataclysm known only as the Fall. Almost the entire Eldar race was obliterated in this apocalypse, and Fionnadh was not spared.
On Fionnadh, the Eldar population suffered a grim fate. The Eldar had constructed a number of gateways, which passed through the dark halls of the warp and linked to similar gateways on other worlds, light-years distant—thus a traveler could pass between worlds in a single step. But now, at the very moment of the cataclysm, these gateways erupted with writhing energies, the raw stuff of the warp vomiting forth. Most Eldar of Fionnadh were slain in the resulting destruction, the lucky ones trapped within the soulstones scattered across the planet. The warp engulfed an area of space around the world, spilling out into realspace. Although its surface was protected by ancient wardings placed during its birth, Fionnadh was surrounded by a warp storm so tumultuous that surely none could ever penetrate it and discover the perfect world within.
With its population gone and their settlements cast down and ruined, Fionnadh slowly recovered from the disaster. For millenia, the ground knew not the tread of sentient being. Slowly, the Eldar structures deteriorated and crumbled to the ground. Even those that had survived the devastating Fall and the subsequent passage of time became weathered and decayed, overtaken by the lush vegetation that swarmed across the islands of Fionnadh.
Then one day, a new star appeared in the jade skies. For the first time in an age, intelligent beings came to Fionnadh. These were not Eldar, but men, who in the early millennia of the Imperium had departed the world of their birth in a mighty colony vessel. Perhaps it became lost in the endless void and some serendipitous celestial phenomena cast the vessel upon the golden shores of Fionnadh. Perhaps the warp storm raging around the world somehow drew the generation ship there, sucking it in upon inexorable currents, to discharge it into the serenity lying at the very eye of the storm. Whatever the reason, the ship arrived, and became trapped in the storm.
Soon, these newcomers established themselves on the largest of Fionnadh’s lush islands. They rejoiced in the world they discovered, for their holy texts had told them that one day paradise would be theirs, a reward for religious devotion. Here was that world, a place where sweet fruits hung from trees and calm seas teemed with such life that a single catch could feed a family for a month. The air was warm and scented, the soil rich and fertile—clearly it was paradise.
In time, the colonists discovered traces of the former occupants of their new world. While many islands were entirely untouched, others were strewn with all manner of strange objects and dotted with ruins. Gems as large as fists were simply scattered amongst the undergrowth, waiting to be gathered up. They collected countless artefacts, all of which appeared to be made of some graceful, yet deceptively tough substance more akin to bone than any artificial material. Some of these objects were clearly tools, while others were obviously weapons. Most the colonists would never fathom a use for, yet many were gathered to be studied and in time cherished for their simple beauty, if nothing else.
Within a decade, the colonists lived amongst the ruins of the Eldar’s settlements. They adorned themselves with the gemstones gathered from the lands, yet they knew not why the gems had been created or who had made them.
Over the next generation, what technologies the colonists maintained throughout the ages failed and died. The loss of the ability to construct machines had little bearing, however, for the colonists had everything they needed within arms’ reach. They found ample shelter within the shell-like ruins, and the seas and jungles teemed with fish and fruit. They had no need of vehicles, for they made their homes on the small islands that dotted the seas and could cross the calm, shallow waters in simple sailing craft.
Furthermore, the colonists noted that their life spans lengthened substantially while living on the island, more affirmation that this was the paradise promised. They cast off their Imperial technologies and, with time, only scattered remnants of regalia and clothing remained to remind them of their origins.
The colonists named themselves the Sanctarchs, and declared themselves the rightful heirs of this paradise, which must surely have been prepared for them by the Holy Emperor. Yet, they could not possibly have known that their arrival had been noted, even predicted, by the descendants of Fionnadh’s true creators.
As their society recovered from the Fall, the Eldar cast their gaze into the void, and witnessed the spread of Mankind throughout their former realm. Across the entire galaxy, worlds seeded eons ago, Maiden Worlds intended one day as the homes of the Eldar, were being intruded upon by humanity, and other, equally barbaric races. Where they could, the remnants of the Eldar race took to the stars and challenged these intruders, driving many from the paradise worlds they attempted to claim. However, many worlds were beyond their reach —
such as Fionnadh. The Farseers could see intruders walking upon Fionnadh’s surface, and knew terrible sorrow that such a fate had come to pass, that their former jewel had been sullied. However, there was nothing they could do.
The Long Watch
The Eldar are not rash, and seldom act without first considering every possible consequence of their deeds. Casting their runes and scrying the myriad strands of fate, the Farseers of Craftworld Kaelor determined that one day, the warp storm engulfing Fionnadh would abate, if only for a time.
As that day approached, Kaelor called on its agents scattered through the Expanse, as well as its allies amongst the Twilight Swords Corsairs. Redirected from other tasks, those Pathfinders and scouts who had infiltrated the worlds of the Expanse attempted to discover any who might know of the location of Fionnadh — and quickly learned of the Seven Witches of Footfall. Meanwhile, silent Corsair vessels patrolled
the space-lanes, ready to pounce on would-be interlopers.
The Eldar prepared for the day when the warp storms would die—the day when they would descend on the desecrators and remove them from their sacred ground.
That day has now arrived.