The Haarlock Legacy Campaign

Carnival of Blood

Carnival of Blood

Second Chapter of Tattered Fates, first adventure in the Haarlock Legacy campaign.

  • The player character escape the Red Cages, only to find themselves in the middle of a macabre carnival, some festival of the rich and opulent. Tybalt, having accessed some relevant data down in Vault 13, recognizes their location as the Rose Colonnade, in the Promenade of Arenas, and so he leeds the way to the Collapsed Palaces, the only slum of sorts in the city of Xicarph. There they manage to barter a room for a shotgun and some ammo so they can rest up and make a plan.
  • Atellus, ever devout; leads the survivors in prayer as they reflect on their current situation and plan their next moves. While the party rests, some manage to pick up some information about where they are, The Collapsed Palaces (the closest thing to slums in Xicarph), and the ongoing festivities – the Festival of Tattered Fates, where various noble houses and the powers-that-be compete in staging countless entertainments, pagents, bloody diversions and spectacles.
  • The Festival of Tattered Fates, also known as the Grand Carnival of Blood or the Passing of the Black Star, is a tradition that occurs erratically every five or six decades when the stars are right. The festival is celebrated during the time that leads up to the Grand Conjunction, a planetary alignment where the sun above Xicarph is eclipsed. At the height of the Festival of Tattered Fate, when Quaddis’ sun begins to go into eclipse, there is a deathly pause known as “the Passing of the Shadow” that last a full 13 hours before total eclipse is reached. Once Xicarph is in full eclipse, known as “the Revel of Darkness”, Imperial law holds no sway and no deeds done then may afterward be punished under caddis’ rule.
  • Once the party has gotten a little rest and cleaned themselves up (as best they can), they spilt up. Cromwell and Tybalt head to the Promenade of Areas to find out a way to make some money. Their quest leads them to a gambling house known as Fate’s Wheel. This institution seems to be involved in most of Xicarph’s gambling activities. While Tybalt earns some betting money by reconsecrating worn tech-devices, Cromwell manages to set up a match. Jericus steps into the ring against a noblewoman’s champion and manages to win the party some funds.
  • During that time, the rest of the party made their way to the Refutation, looking for Septimus Dexter – “The White Scholar” (last surviving member of Inquisitor Karkalla’s acolytes). One they locate the undercover Adept, they learn a little more about their situation. The Adepts has been continuing his research, and is now even more certain than Karkalla was of the involvement of the Pilgrims of Hayte.
  • Septimus Dexter also tells the party about the Haarlock bloodline’s recent history, and why it is central to ‘the way things work’ on Quaddis. He tells the story of how Erasmus Haarlock was tragically drawn into bloody events of rights and heritage with the murder of his family – and how he returned to kill every other heir to the Rogue Trader warrant, before vanishing many years ago. Amongst many heirlooms, the Rogue Trader has a Steel Clock located at the Gabrial Chase Mansion, which strikes every hour during the Passing of Shadow – and a murderous servant known as the Widower. The latter is a feared myth in Xicarph Septimus believes the Pilgrims of Hayte are using to hide their own bloody activities.
  • The Pilgrims of Hayte are a cult of particular deviancy, and Septimus Dexter stresses that whatever they are planning, is is bound to be an extinction-level event. Furthermore, he does not believe it is a coincidence this is all happening during the Festival of the Tattered Fates. So one must assume that whatever the Heron Mask is planning, there is a substantial risk that he plans to do as part of the festival.
  • After some discussion, the player characters split into two groups. Atellus, Constantine and Jericus begin their day at the markets of the Collapsed Palaces, re-equipping themselves with arms and essential gear. Having acquired the bare essentials, they turned their attention to investigating the Mansion of Gabrial Chase. Jericus quickly discards any notion of breaking in, as the security is professional enough to make it too risky. In the meanwhile, Atellus and Constantine learn that there will be a party at the Mansion during the Passing of Shadow – and everybody who is anybody will be there to celebrate the Steel Clock as it chimes its way through the 13 hours of the Passing of Shadow.
  • Atellus learns that the heads of the Walperga Trading Consortium are in Xicarph, a merchant family whom his uncle has done business with. They’ve rented a hotel complex near the High Steps of the Pleasure Gardens, investing the majority of the family fortune just to be present for the festival. The playing characters are disappointed to learn that the family has yet to be invited to the party at the mansion (and probably won’t be), a fact that is a bitter disappointment to the head of the Walperga family as their rivals, the House of Carph, will be.
  • The player characters spend the afternoon locating members of the House of Carph, finally tracking a few of their members back to the Fate’s Wheel. There the player characters find the particular figures of Carph engaged in a betting game with hat turns out to be the owner of Fate’s Wheel – Papa Grist. After some deliberation, Atellus decides to go for the direct approach. He presents himself to Papa Grist’s bodyguard and says he wants tickets to the party at the mansion. He’s heard that Papa Grist is the man who can help him, the question is what do the player characters have to do?
  • The boldness of the player characters’ approach amuses Papa Grist, who ‘suggests’ that the player characters can start by exacting vengeance on the House of Carph. Their pair of Sabre-wolves have just killed one of Papa Grist’s chrono-gladiators, and so Grist could appreciate a little pay-back if the player characters wanted to prove their worth. Jericus gets into the ring, and although he is savagely wounded by the wolves, manages to kill them both with his knives.
  • Papa Grist awards Atellus and Constantine by having a drink with them, during which time he incredulously offers the player characters tickets to the party at the mansion if they can bring him the head of the Spider Bride. He admits, laughingly; that he considers the task a ‘mission impossible’ – but for him to simply give the player characters such tickets “that’s the least that could do”.
  • While Atellus, Constantine and Jericus follow their leads, Tybalt and Cromwell undertake an investigative effort of their own. After procuring themselves some las carbines, they decide to visit one of the larger Mechanicus shrines in Xicarph. Tybalt presents himself to the shrine, introducing himself to a Techpriest by the name of Farrox. While Cromwell waits outside, Tybalt is invited in to the foyer as Farrox checks their story. Understanding that Tybalt is representing interests beyond the Mechanicus, the foreign Techpriest is politely – if cooly – shown away.
  • Cromwell leads the party of two back to Fate’s Wheel, where they continue asking around for clues as to the whereabouts of Marcus Vulpa (the Jackal Mask). Cromwell learns that another lady, a Lady Du’landra Melua, has also been asking around about this Marcus Vulpa. Tybalt recognizes the family name from one of the other survivors of the pits in the Red Cages, a young man by the name of Lar’ax Melua that they got separated from during one of the many events they experienced during their harrowing escape from the Red Cages.
  • Cromwell and Tybalt manage to uncover where Lady Melua is staying, and eventually catch up with her at a restaurant near the hanging gardens. They manage to convince her that they’ve been with her brother (although they’ve since become separated), and arrange a meeting later back at her hotel. There, they share some information, and agree to help each other uncover the truth about the Beast House operations in Xicarph – and find out why they were kidnapped here in the first place!
  • All clues to Beast House lead to Fate’s Wheel, and so Cromwell, Tybalt, and Lady Malua return to the seedy venue. They learn a little more about the ownership of Fate’s Wheel, and about the Papa Grist character. Just as they feel as if they’ve run into a dead end, unsure of how to approach Papa Grist; they are witness to the other half of their party making contact with the criminal overlord. The observe events from a distance, and make contact after the interaction with Papa Grist is over, concerned about Jericus.
  • The party manages to get Jericus back to their base of operations, administered medical attention and let him rest. By now the day was coming to an end, and as the evening passed into night Atellus and Constantine manage to learn about the Spider Bride. A near-mythical figure, she seemed to represent the true head of the Xicarph underworld, as opposed to the off-world upstart Papa Grist. She was rumored to run The Twilight Gardens, Xicarph’s most exclusive pleasure house. Furthermore, mystery had it she had run the shadows of Xicarph for as long as the city has existed.
  • While Atellus, Constantine, Septimus and Lady Melua look after Jericus, Tybalt and Cromwell go shopping for some more supplies – in particular micro-beads for the whole party. Thereafter the group splits up. Lady Melua stays behind to watch over the resting assassin, while Atellus and Septimus go searching for an ally from the Ministorum. Tybalt, Cromwell and Constantine pick up the search for Marcus Vulpa.
  • Atellus learns that Father Breen, a Ministorum priest serving the House of Hethannon; seems like a man to make contact with. House Hethannon has a small fief on Quaddis, but their reputation is that of an older bloodline of respectable, pious nobles. Further research reveals the location of House Hethannon’s holdings in Xicarph, and Atellus manages to meet with Father Breen. During that meeting, Atellus learns of a Missionary called Obadiah Psalter. Obadiah was making quite a name for himself, building a flock of followers amongst the Shattared Ramparts, but then suddenly his fortunes turned. His flock abandoned him, and Obadiah was left to start building a new parish from scratch.
  • Constantine led the investigation into Beast House information by visiting the Twilight Gardens, getting an impression of their potential mark (as it is the home of the Spider Bride), while looking for any clues of connections with the inter-system slavers. His investigation was supported by Tybalt and Cromwell, who were following up the inquiry on datanets and amongst local thugs-for-hire. They learn that Beast House activities has been on the rise in resent decades, and mostly connected with Papa Grist’s fortunes. The Spider Bride’s network runs deeper into the noble houses, but seems to stay clear of such brutal crime. At the same time, the ladies of the Twilight Garden seem to be far more than mere Companions.
  • The next day Constantine, Tybalt and Cromwell make contact with an informant who gives them details to a meet Marcus Vulpa is expected at. A former pottery store nearby, in approximately an hour-and-a-half. The team gathers and goes to investigate, and Cromwell finds a footlocker with the skinned bodyparts of a man. The only other item of curiosity in the abandoned store is a grandfather clock standing in the basement. Nobody else ever shows up to the house, and the team eventually leaves to follow up on Atellus’s lead.
  • While the rest of the team are conducting their investigations, Lady Melua gently wakes Jericus to tell him that she’s been contacted by a small group of men who claim to know the whereabouts of her brother. They want to meet her and negotiate terms for a reunion. The whole deal seems sketchy, but Lady Melua is desperate. She can’t ignore any lead – no matter how risky. Jericus decides to assist the Lady, staking out the meet and establishing overwatch. During this action Jericus manages to overhear the group – who turn out to be Beast House slavers – complaining over the disappearance of Marcus Vulpa. Nobody knows where he has been for the past two days, and it is causing some disturbance amongst the slavers.
  • The meeting goes sour, as expected; and three slavers attempt to kidnap Lady Melua. During the chase – as Jericus finally catches up to the group – they all come under attack by some inhuman force. A chaotic shifting form of brutality that Jericus never fully manages to get a good look at takes the slavers (as well as Lady Melua’s bodyguards) apart in a bloody mess. Immeiately aware that he is outmatched, Jericus tries to escape with the Lady but quickly finds himself cornered against a locked gate. Just as the entity finishes off with the others and starts towards them, Jericus and the Lade are rescued through the gate by a pair of elegant and apparently lethal ladies.
  • Jericus follows the ladies, dragging a panicked Lady Melua along. The flight takes them through several strange parts of town, and ends at the Twilight Gardens. Lady Melua is quietly led away by the Venomous Ladies to tend to her wounds, and Jericus is taken to none other than the Spider Bride. The dialogue Jericus has with the Spider Bride is quite revealing, and Jericus learns is that she’s been watching him and his group ever since they arrived on Quaddis. Until the recent attack, she has been content with watching; but now that she has had to intervene directly she feels it’s time to introduce herself. Jericus is subtly mesmerized by her manner, and finds himself sympathizing with her role as a servant of the Emperor whose lot it is to keep the underworld of Quaddis in check and balance.
  • The Spider Bride reveals that she’s been following events as they unfold, and explains that the Widower is at the heart of it all The Widower is the entity from which she helped Jericus and Lady Melua escape. The myth of the Widower is indeed real, a brutal servant of the Haarlock bloodline that has been driven mad by the resentment and anger for its enslavement to a master that has been missing for centuries. It seems to seek the manner of its release, and in doing so might bring about the destruction of Quaddis. This seems likely to be central to the Heron Mask’s plan, a madman who walks in the shadow of the ruinous powers. The Spider Bride marks him as responsible for the kidnappings, and believes that his selection criteria of victims was based on studies of fate, bloodlines, and dark, mysterious circumstance that somehow seems to link the kidnapped to the fate of the Haarlock line and the Widower. “If the Heron Masks seeks to destroy the world, the means to do so lies with the release of the Widower. The Widower cannot be destroyed by any normal means, but his heart is tied to Steel Clock, and the Steel Clock is tied to the Passing of the Black Star – and all are tied to the Haarlock line. What remains to be seen is how your fate ties in to these circumstances, and what influence you can exert on this gathering of forces.
  • The Spider Bride reveals that she has, like the Heron Mask, been protecting the group from retaliatory strikes by the Beast House, Enforces, or any other unwanted interference. She believes that the survivors of the Red Cages must play out there role here, and is annoyed by the unexpected involvement of Papa Grist. The Spider Bride knows that he has asked the group to kill her, and she is feeling weary of such petty rivalry. She offers Jericus a case, explaining that whats in the case will give Papa Grist a whole new perspective, and end his needless paranoia. If Jericus will deliver the gift, and help end his pointless feud; the Spider Bride will honor Papa Grist’s promise to provide the group with invitations to the ball at the Great Mansion of Gabriel Chase.
  • As Jericus leaves the Spider Bride, he takes a last look at her and gets the impression of an ancient fear, a tragic, timeless despair that washes over her as she whispers “In dread of the traveler’s return we serve”.
  • Once released from the Twilight Gardens, Jericus leads the slightly drugged Lady Melua back to their base of operations, and lets her rest under the vigil of Septimus Dextter. Jericus has also learned that the group is the only survivors of the Red Cages, and so Lar’ax Melua is lost to his sister. However, Jericus decides to wait before he reveals this to the Lady. After getting a few hours of rest himself, Jericus makes contact with the rest of the team and catches up with them as they return to the Shattered Ramparts looking for the street preacher, Obadiah Psalter.
  • Once they have updated each other, the combined party has no problems finding the firebrand preacher, and when they do they catch him on his soapbox, right in fiery rhetoric: “Listen not to the voice of the false prophet; he is a liar, a liar I tell you! He will betray you when the black night comes! Trust him not, whether he wears a pleasing face or it be covered by the Heron mask! Shun him in the Emperor’s name, and you will be saved”.
  • The party makes contact with Obadiah, and manages to convince him of their pious intentions. Obadiah admits that he worked together with the Heron Mask, believing him to be a gifted preacher of the Emperor’s will. Together, they had been successful and raised quite a parish, but in time Obadiah noticed divergences from the Imperial Creed. Once these difference came to a head, and Obadiah confronted the False Prophet, he learned to his shame that he was too late. The Heron Mask had turned the flock against the faithful preacher, and they drove him out in favor of their “Beloved”. Obadiah desires vengeance, but does not have the manpower to confront his old flock – but he does know where they gather and worship.
  • The group decides to deliver the Spider Bride’s ‘gift’ to Papa Grist before investigating the Heron Mask’s place of worship, and the crime lord makes the mistake of letting them get close. The ‘gift’ turns out to be a trap, an Archeotech device that launches at Papa Grist, wraps itself around his head, and severs it at the neck. The device then makes its own escape, the severed head carried away by mechanical legs – giving it the appearance of some horrific spider-servitor. The group engage the bodyguards, and manage to all but kill Bliss and Crackmarrow before they make their escape in the shock of events. The carnival works in the group’s favor, making them impossible to track.
  • Once clear, the group makes their way deeper into the Shattared Ramparts, following Obadiah’s description. They find the old chapel abandoned, although it’s holy icons are all fouled in heretical graffiti. During investigations of the grounds the group triggers a ritualistic device that summons three lesser daemons. The group is baptized in fire, fear and disbelief raging in their first encounter with the denizens of the warp – but eventually they persevere and dispel the creatures through willpower and team work. In the ruins they make further discovery of near-empty crates that has housed weapons and other stores – and they gather what paperwork they find amongst the stash for the White Scholar to investigate.
  • After delivering the papers to the White Scholar, the group pays a visit to the Spider Bride, who lives up to her word and awards the group with 7 of the invitations they seek. She gives them warning that they are on their own, and wishes them well – they go to confront whatever it is that is passing between the Widower and the Pilgrims of Hayte.
  • The White Scholar discovers a map that reveals some hidden passages in the walls of a circular building, beyond that he hasn’t been able to work out the meaning from all the mysterious documents, astrological charts, and random charts of noble bloodlines that make up the bulk of the damaged documentation. During these discussions, the bells begin to toll. The Passing of Shadow has begun!

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