Before we left, Krak’atoa informed us that he’d consulted the Erioch Forgemaster about the machinery we found in the mines. Apparently it relates to some sorcery called the Thaumatagram Diomadus (sp?), a form of warp-magic that alters energy flows and needs a potent power source – i.e. the crystals.
Then we boarded the transport to Karlack. The Inquisitor has an “assistant” Nihlzie, who carries himself with the tell-tales of a trained fighter; I wonder if he might not be an Assassin or something like it.
The journey was uneventful until we reached Karlack. It’s a populous planet, only recently reclaimed by the Imperium, and heavily defended if the planetary defense guns we saw are anything to go by.
On our arrival, the local Guard commander handed Quist a package her predecessor (the vanished Inquisitor Vincent) had left for her. It seemed to be some sort of puzzle box – I haven’t encountered the type, but I’d guess it’s designed to deliver lethal surprises to anybody who doesn’t know how to open it.
Although Quist did know how to open it, it delivered a lethal surprise anyway: as she opened the last catch, she froze, and there was an unpleasant smell (or so the others tell me; I had my helmet on). She passed out, and Hrolfgar very nearly shot the Guard commander. Ogur tells us there was some sort of exceptionally nasty contact poison in the puzzle box, and although he managed to keep her alive, she remains comatose.
The box itself was empty (aside from the poison) and we satisfied ourselves that the commander had not been involved. He told us the box had been given to him by Lazel Dyne, Vincent’s face-man, who disappeared about the same time he did. (Speculation: seems highly likely that Vincent and/or Dyne have been turned, or perhaps impersonated? Perhaps they realised the Inquisition would send in a second team when Vincent vanished, and decided to set a trap?)
We asked about the business that had started the investigation – the trade of xenos relics from Karthia – and the commander made mention of the “other Marines” who had come by asking the same questions last week.
This was a bit of a surprise to us. Understandably, he hadn’t asked many questions, but through questioning and examining security footage we identified them as a squad of Black Templars in Mark Seven armour, apparently investigating the same business as ourselves.
Visiting Vincent’s quarters, we found the place had been thoroughly searched. We did find a manifest of artefacts, including some unpleasantly familiar symbols: Necrons.
Vincent had left several journals. The more recent material was gone, but we found some older notes titled “Beneath the Cenotaph”. Most of the pages had been torn out (at this point I would have suspected Black Templars even if we hadn’t had the video footage) but there were a few clues: mention that the city had been built on xenos ruins, and a cryptic comment: “No door that we would understand will afford entry to the city – this key will give you entry.”
That was about all we managed to find in Vincent’s quarters. We received a message inviting us to the summit of the Prince-Prefect’s castle (his name is Allewis LXXXIII, a rather elderly member of the hereditary aristocracy) and attended.
Evidently Allewis knew how to cater for Marines; he had sturdy Astartes-sized goblets of wine and whole animals on spits (something like otters perhaps?). He told us a little more about the Templars: they’d arrived in a Black Templar Thunderhawk, which implies that this is more than a single rogue squad.
He invited us to view the Karlack First Regiment, formed up ready to embark for other worlds in the Emperor’s service – when I say the “First”, I understand it’s the fourth or fifth of that name, the previous incarnations having been annihilated to the last man. Such is life.
And then, as we walked out onto the formation grounds, we were attacked…