++Princeps Concilia of House Dessicum, you are questioned by the Inquisition. Do you understand the repercussions of this event?++
“My Lord, I do.”
++You certainly do not, and how could you? Your whole organisation is under threat. Centuries of tradition, climbing the social ladder, and living on the death of others can end today. You can’t even begin to fathom the scope of my power. You will reveal everything.++
As Novellis began to tell the story, the surgical blankers began their work in her mind. They were a luxury only the Elite on Terra had access to. Little psy-mechanic tendrils that could only be removed from the wearer’s brain by completely destroying consciousness, and leaving only a distorted warp shadow of the user. Certain death, yes, but also death for all the secrets the wearer ever held. A form of heresy only the nobility could afford. Or the ones that scavenge their remains..
“There was a tense smell of ending life in the air. There always was, for such is the nature of business in the Officio Sancti Exanimus. That day, however, it was different. More urgent.
Our procession; Patriarch Ferethrus, myself, and two House Dessicum guardsmen were making our way out of the church, having attended a private prayer before Cardinal Philippus opened the day for the common folk. Our Crypt was doing rounds on a lower level, with Primus Dissector Orlov present for the day.
A band of pilgrims shuffled through us before the guards could intervene. Lunatic ramblings of finally getting to know their master’s name resounded from their ranks. If it weren’t for the particularly worrisome Tarot for that day, they would have been beheaded in situ.
Our procession continued it’s advancement on the steppes when a bang was heard from the Botanicarium’s direction. Our guards quickly regrouped around the Patriarch and I took cover by an unused elevator crypt, but it seemed like a false alarm.
A particularly loathsome Inquisitorial retinue appeared then, seemingly out of nowhere. There was something very wrong about all the henchmen, and especially the Inquisitor himself was a wretched, albeit menacing individual.
He was shouting something to Patriarch Ferethrus, but I couldn’t make it out from the distance. With a wave of his rosette he commanded the Dessicum Guard captain to shoot blindly into the crowd.
As the shots disappeared into the pilgrim masses, a giant in yellow armor moved into view.
Before Dessicum procession had time to flee, the huge warrior had laid waste to the off-putting Inquisitor’s henchman. At this point we all heard the sound of a horn.”
“Yes, I guess. A howling, earthy sound.”
++ Crasteos, forget the horn for now. What happened then? ++
“That was when all hell broke loose. And I mean it in the most literal way, my Lord.”
Novellis went on to tell about plant-like creatures springing forth from under the rocky steppes, seemingly out of cracks in the ground. A huge walking temple falling down and crushing their house guard, and Astartes warrior-gods battling each other on Terra. It started to look more and more like a case for the Ordo Malleus.
She told about their Primus Dissector’s incriminating trials quite elaborately. She seemed to know exactly what we weren’t looking for, and enjoyed telling about it. When questioning about the plant creatures’ next moves, the whereabouts of Patriarch Ferethrus, or the destruction at Laboratorium Sepulcrum, she became visibly scared she could not remember a thing. And the more we probed, the more she forgot.
By the time we were done questioning her, she was but a collection of Terra’s state-of-the-art surgery. Dead, blank, sitting quietly on her chair. Matriarch of House Dessicum.