The auction began as the fine affair it was billed to be. The Acolytes spent many credits on a staff once owned by Navigator Tre’arc after engaging in a bidding war with several other attendees. After watching the price of the goods being sold and realizing they would need many more credits if they were to have a chance at the rare items of renown the team decided they would try and hack the credit cube given to them by Inquisitor Marr. During the intermission between the item lots Skyler with encouragement from his colleagues cracked the encryption on the cube and rewrote the amount of Thrones available for the team. With renewed hope the Acolytes assembled for the second half of the auction. As small disturbance ensured between the Mourners and several Adepts before being calmed by Provost Bland. Bland then addressed the crowd stating:
“Before bidding on the greater lots, several parties have requested… and the High Mourner has insisted… against my wishes, that a demonstration be carried out, before the sale, of the oracular device known as the Gilded Widow.”
Carried reverently on a litter by six mourners, the Gilded Widow—on her throne—was brought to the dais beside Bland. High Mourner Greel removed a heart shaped ruby crystal that pulsed slowly with a crimson inner light from under his robes and fitted the “heart” into the Widow’s chest.
The transformation was sudden and remarkable, and the Gilded Widow shuttered to life. Elegant metal fingers cut and spun the cards from the tarot deck, Greel and the mourners backed away from the dais bowing, as shocked gasps escaped the crowd. The figure lifted her face, and eyes of uttermost cold darkness studied the crowed amphitheater.
“ASK AND BE ANSWERED” she stated in an empty, mocking voice.
Several members of the audience awed by the spectacle posed questions to the Widow, who in turn spoke in riddles and rhymes. Until Master Nonesuch asked if Haarlock was truly dead…
The Widow looked up from her tarot deck and studied the crowd as she spoke:
“The traveller and the scion both do live, one without and the other within. Blood of his blood, born of his line, flesh so frail caught in this web, death shall be their inheritance. Haarlock returns and ruin follows on his heels!”
As she concluded the mourners who have drifted in amoung those gathered, suddenly fell to their knees wailing and screaming as though in anguish and pain. The whole building started to shake and a roar echoed up from the foundation of the structure. Lights flicked and distant explosions were heard. Servo skulls dropped from the air and servitors collapsed lifeless. After a few moments the complex stoped shaking and the roar died down to a low rumble, and the Widow spoke again:
“Know this, the traveller has set our course and the ship cannot be turned. Thirteen hours you have, thirteen hours until his wrath drowns you all in fire and ash. Never do you learn the lessons of the past, doomed to repeat history’s sins. But first you will suffer, first you will be shriven! You have but one chance and once chance alone to placate the traveller. One gift will assuage his just fury. Give to me the blood of the scion of Haarlock, let it flow to fill this chalice and you shall live. If but my cup remains empty then the Children of the Kingdom will welcome you to your graves.”
After she had finished a stunned audience was brought to reality with Head Mourner Greel calling for the death of those who would steal from their master and cut Provost Bland in half with a power scythe causing chaos to break loose. The mourner who had been weeping drew silver knives and began attacking anyone near them. The slaughter was horrendous…
Master Nonesuch, looking for the Grey Psalter strode forward to take it and was met with Greel Scythe, only this time the target the blade found was not human. Greel bifurcated him as well only to discover a being only clad in skin and composed of writhing mass of maggot-like creatures in human form, he was a Slaugth. Stunned by his failure Head Mourner Greel was executed when Nonesuch removed his head in one quick rending strike from his powerful arm.
The acolytes, escaping the madness that surrounded them became split in their attempt to flee and spend the first couple hours trying to link up back at their quarters. Once they finally arrived they were greeted by the surprise that their roomed had been burnout and gutted by explosives. Dismayed and on the run the countdown to their death continued.
Over the next several hours the slaughter on the island played out in fits as the team struggled to survive. Along the way they encountered a demonhost summoned by the crazed Abbot Shale who killed Octavia Nile; the reawaken servitors who began to kill indiscriminately; the besieged forces of the Solomon PDF holding a strong point near the exit where they were able to reequip themselves; and the Children of the Kingdom, foul four-legged lamprey-mouthed beasts Haarlock kept as part of his trap.
Around hour 9 the group decided that one method of release from the stone prison might be located in Haarlock’s crypt and began to look for a way in. Travlling back to the auction area to consult the Gilded Widow they were surprised to see that it had been taken away and only an ambush awaited them. Returning to the main hall to regroup and think through their next action the group noticed the crypt had opened and cautiously entered. Inside they discovered the Master Nonesuch had puzzled out it’s secrete and was working to escape the island himself. The group confronted him and amused at their feeble attempts he chuckled as he disintegrated the upper half of Skyler and quickly slipped out pasted the stunned group.
With little time to mourn their deceased group member the Acolytes noticed a large clock counting down from 5 minutes and made for the unlocked door of the great hall as fast as they could, calling out the few remaining PDF troopers as they sprinted past.
Moving as fast as they could down the path to the dock the group half-ran half-rolled down the slope in a mad scramble to be free of the unholy island. Captain Shadrack was true to his word and the Cynan Martyr was still docked with its crew defending the ship from a throng of dregs and panicked dockers. Fighting their way through the crowd with help from the crew of Cynan Martyr the team boarded with several additional survivors in tow.
As they left the island the Acolytes noticed several other ships able to get free as well before the whole island erupted in fire and ash. Several Crew members were pointing to the sky above the ruined structure and when the Acolytes look to see what they were pointing at they noticed what looked like a shooting star… only traveling from the planet out to space…
Thought for the day: Ruthlessness is the kindness of the wise.