Intermission upon Iocanthus
Following events in Illumination the characters find themselves stranded upon the desolate world of Iocanthus for a bit over a year before their Inquisitor once again calls upon their services.
- Left to handle the aftermath of the Crow Father’s failed manifestation, the acolytes had their hands full with the fate of Stern Hope. Abbot Skae was dead, the cathedral heavily damaged, the grounds proven cursed, and Warlord Kos’ke, the town’s primary means of security, had abandoned Stern Hope. The people were all but shattered, reeling both from the preceding events, the violent attack and the terror of the partial daemonic manifestation. Were it not for their inherent toughness as natives of Iocanthus, they could have been considered broken.
- Having already been central in rallying the people of Stern Hope’s faith on several moments occasions, Atellus took it upon himself to continue the work of spiritual healing amongst the flock of Stern Hope’s unconsecrated cathedral. He immediately identified the need for goal, something to provide focus and opportunity for good, god-emperor-honest toil, and the obvious purpose of Stern Hope was the cathedral. Continuing Abbot Skae’s work would not only provide purpose for the survivors, it could also provide Atellus with an opportunity to advance his standing in the eyes of the Ecclesiarchy.
- The rest of the group agreed with the righteousness of Atellus’s assessment, and together they formed a plan to improve Stern Hope’s fate. Firstly, they would need to repair relations with the Ashleen and gain the trust and support of Kos’ke. Furthermore, despite his misgivings towards the natives, Constantine believed that they would need Eshra Rain’s help if they were to purify Stern Hope in preparation for a future consecration. Seeing how hard the group worked on restoring Stern’s Hope for its people, their genuine attention of restoring safety and security – and faith – amongst the lost flock – impressed Eshra Rain. Dialogue with the wise Death Singer developed into a friendship, especially (and perhaps surprisingly) between Eshra and Constantine. This in turn led Eshra to help win back Kos’ke’s support for the people of Stern Hope.
- Conditions being what they were at Stern Hope, Tybalt was left with lots of capacity to ponder the mysteries that had taken place in the cursed town. Already feeling drawn towards the chaotic mysteries of the warp, Tybalt found himself paying particular attention to the matter of purifying the corrupt hill, albeit from a more scientific and logical perspective.
- Once the immediate crisis was over, and Kos’ke agreed to lend his strength to the defense of the town, Metalus and Cromwell decided to travel to Port Suffering and gather the support of whatever agents they can at the capitol – official Imperial agents being a priority of course. Brother Lemark had recovered sufficient to take Cromwell’s place as security coordinator at Stern Hope, and Metalus wasn’t feeling very useful in the town after concluding his investigation and transmitting the final report to Inquisitor Gedeliah.
- Once back in Port Suffering, the two were disappointed by their failuse to raise any particular interest from the Adeptus. Abbot Skae’s mission had never been too popular to begin with, and so his death only served to strengthen the belief that a cathedral in the wildnerness of Iocanthus was folly. The Adeptus Arbites, however; proved to be an exception. Not in that they were at all interested in the consecration of the cathedral, but Proctor-Laureate Lestano Dietz saw the political and social value in what the acolytes were doing. A stable, God-Emperor-fearing town with good relations to the Arbites could prove a valuable asset to the Suffering Marshal program. Furthermore, the assistance of Metalus was a highly valuable commodity in and of itself.
- Metalus agreed to assign himself to the Arbites precinct until called up for further service by the Inquisition, and in doing so paved the way for Cromwell to be assigned to assist with the Suffering Marshal program, in particular developing Stern Hope as a haven for active Suffering Marshals. Although the two would remain in frequent contact with the rest of the group, Metalus and Cromwell would spend the rest of their time on Iocanthus working actively with the Arbites.
- Back in Stern Hope, the remaining trio applied themselves to building and stabilizing the community organization and infrastructure of Stern Hope, as well as researching the mysteries of the curse. At the mundane level, Atellus saw to the spiritual well being and politics of the town, while Constantine helped organize trade and health care programs, and Tybalt saw to the logistics, organization and engineering issues of daily operation, defense and repairs of the Cathedral. This facilitated a professional intimacy that developed their relationship throughout the year, but more important was the esoteric aspects of their mission. Working with Eshra Rain, the three devised wards and rituals of cleansing to purify the site, and to ensure that what happened to Stern Hope would not repeat itself. This would provide a greater challenge to cooperation, as it required at times an even greater level of trust shared between the three than events had previously demanded.
- Although ambition seeded his heart at the outset of this self-imposed mission, the reflections upon Abbot Skea and Aristarchus the Seer’s fall and damnation gave Atellus a great deal of inner turmoil. Despite his genuine intentions, Atellus could not help but feel a some comparison between Skae’s worldly ambitions and suspiciously shallow faith and his own heart. However, as time passed by the young priest began to see and – more importantly – feel the effects his service was having on the people around him. As the mental exercise of community-building began to bear fruit, and he saw the microcosm of Church, Mechanicum and the Psyker working together to do the God-Emperor’s work in rebuilding Stern Hope; a deeper sense of purpose began to emerge. In the eyes of his congregation during his sermons, in the commitment of his fellow acolytes shown during discussions, in the beauty of the righteous toil upon the rock of the cathedral Atellus began to feel a presence. Not a temptation, nor a drive, ambition or need; but a deeper sense of being right where he is supposed to be, doing what he is supposed to do. The old phrase, “Doing the God-Emperor’s work” became words of a whole new meaning!
- Constantine found his time upon Iocanthus challenging in a different way. Having been so rigorously indoctrinated in his Imperial Faith, the Psyker found it difficult to re conciliate his views with that of the native Ashleen. His subtle hostility towards the backwards natives made cooperation with the Death Singer quite difficult, but the overriding threat of warp corruption compelled Constantine to put their differences aside. In doing so, however; the wisdom of Eshra Raine began to make an impression upon the man. Her insights, although not revolutionary by any means, gave the Imperial Psyker a perspective that he found helpful. As the months passed delving into the mysteries of warding and exorcism, Constantine found that he appreciated the friendship of the old lady more and more. The ways of the Ashleen, although they remained foreign; grew less frightening and curiously Constantine noted that the along with this trend followed also an sense of increase psychic ability. This further opening of the mind as Constantine theorized also helped him and Tybalt work together with easier familiarity. Although his perspective was easily as alien as the Death Singer’s, his approach challenged his practice every step of the way.
- Iocanthus proved to be a pinnacle of sorts, the furthest Tybalt’s unexpected journeys had taken him from the domains of the Holy Omnissiah and his knowledge and wonders of technology. The backward setting of Stern Hope proved to be a setting that enticed Tybalt, and focused his mind on that which truly fascinated him – the mystical and otherworldly science of the warp. The witness of the gate and the thwarting of the Skae-thing’s manifestation was an experience that drew at his curiosity like a moth to a flame. The task to ward and purify the grounds of the cathedral became a perfect excuse for Tybalt’s studies. The Techpriest saw to his duties amongst the scarce machinery, weapons and other technology present in Stern Hope, and showed a ready willingness to support visiting Marshals, but the majority of his capacity was delegated to assisting Atellus and Constantine with the mission to purify the grounds of Stern Hope.
- Immediately following the defeat of the Skae-thing, Cromwell found himself busy establishing, organizing and strengthening Stern Hope’s defense. His efforts were successful, but once the group restored relations with Warlord Kos’ke and Brother Lemark was restored the former Guardsman found himself somewhat superfluous. Although Crom’ told himself that he was happy to willow away his days in the quiet town, the truth was that seeing his companions so busy in contrast galled him somewhat. Once Metalus concluded his investigation and report he readily agreed to accompany the Verispex to Port Suffering as a personal safety detail. While Metalus attempted to gather support for the cathedral’s restoration, Cromwell followed along. However, apart from paving the way for some dealings in the seedier parts of Port Suffering, Cromwell still found himself without any particular purpose. Although not one to complain, the observant Metals took notice of this, and so it was once he volunteered his services to the Arbites the Verispex cleverly instigated a similar arrangement for Cromwell. The Weapon Specialist’s service in Stern Hope had earned him a great deal of respect, and Metalus rightfully argued that Cromwell would help establish good relations with the Arbites should the Suffering Marshals wish to establish the town as a safer haven during their travels. As it was, Cromwell found himself quite well suited for the duties of the Suffering Marshals, and would spend the remainder of his time traveling Iocanthus, assisting the Arbites with their dealings and investigations in the wilderness of the savage world.
- Metalus himself took responsibility for ensuring that a thorough and complete report of their mission to Iocanthus be submitted to Achiel Gedeliah. This consumed his time for a while, following up with the necessary investigations at Stern Hope as the other acolytes stabilized the little community. However, it soon became apparent that the group would need support from some outside agency to help keep the little town alive. Metalus needed to ensure that the rapport was submitted through the proper channels at Port Suffering anyway, so the Verispex volunteered to travel to the planetary capitol and appeal to the Adeptus there to assist their endeavors. However, the resistance to the late Abbot’s vision was still substantial, and few considered the mission at Stern Hope anything but folly. It was only the Arbites who showed any interest in working with the Inquisitorial agents, and then only at the cost of Metalus’s services until his skills were once again called upon by the Holy Ordos. Truth was Metalus was happy to serve the Proctor-Laurreate Lestano Dietz, and considered it an good opportunity to use Cromwell to help build positive relations between the Suffering Marshals and the people of Stern Hope, establishing a haven for Arbitrators during their travels in the region. Apart from his frequent communication with the other acolytes in Stern Hope, Metalus would spend the rest of the time on Iocanthus based in teh Arbites stronghold in Port Suffering, training the Arbitrators in his specialized investigative techniques and assisting in matters of investigation.
- Metalus also assisted Atellus with his communications with the Ecclesiarchy, submitting his reports and requests for further aid to complete the consecrations of the cathedral of Stern Hope. After many months of administrative innuendo the Ecclesiarchy offices of Solomon finally presented their answer. The group of remaining acolytes had been successful of properly warding and cleansing the grounds of Stern Hope, and Atellus felt that the flourishing community was due their reward for their faith and toil. However, siting a number of supposed irregularities with Abbot Skae’s mission the Eccliarchy claimed that the site of Stern Hope could not be rightfully consecrated. There would be no Cathedral on Iocanthus, and that the town’s chapel of Port Suffering was more than sufficient for the needs of the people.
- Shortly after, Metalus received a summons from their Inquisitor, a coded set of orders telling the acolytes to convene in Port Suffering and prepare for planetary extraction. The Inquisition had need of the characters to support an ongoing clean-up operation following a purge by the Holy Ordos upon Cyclopea, and the inter-system freighter Tarsus’s Pride would be providing transportation to the site of their next assignment.