The Pilgrym – Extracting the Cipher


Astropath Borleen stared out the view port with blind eyes, the use of the view port an anachronism from long past, her psychic senses spreading across the void to the docking bays of Tumulus Gate void station. She liked to stay abreast of the vessels in dock and the likely need for her services. Her breath paused at a blank space, a hole in her vision, where a ship should have been. She now knew a warded black-arkke was docked at the void station but protocols of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica had not been adhered to. The master of the black guard should have visited her office and examined her for taint and deterioration, through Borleen knew she was not yet spent in her service to the God Emperor. On tired legs and using her staff for support she turned and walked to her ancient narlwood desk. With arthritic hands and crooked fingers she reached for her dataslate. Her fingers worked the dials and buttons and she touched the smooth screen, data began scrolling, raising small symbols distorting the smooth data reel. Her fingers read that the ship docked at bay IX was registered as a cargo vessel. Why this black-arkke was running under a false identity was not for Borleen to question; for she was a loyal servant of the Imperium.


Two null troopers of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica pinned her to her chair. She was completely blind, she was terrified. Was this why the black guard has not announced itself? They were here for her? Had she been found wanting? She heard him before the oppressive null blankness started to alleviate, the heavy limp of metal on stone. An armoured giant entered her chamber, his presence cold and hard like carved granite; he felt both pained and exhausted too. She whimpered and he spoke, the words bestowed upon her like a gift. “You are now a tool of His most Holy Orders of the Inquisition. More precisely you are now a tool of Captain-Inquisitor Lazaros. You are my tool, astropath Boreen. I need you to relay a message, in person, to a trusted colleague. You need to tell her, and no one else, where I am going and where she can find The Pilgrym. This information will be guarded by your mind, along with all that happens today. Take my word that if you choose to tell another soul your life will automatically end in utter torment. It is an important task I bestow upon you. For this will serve the Imperium and the master of mankind. Scan my mind now and take my cipher.”

A short moment of pride filled her as she considered that the Inquisition needed her. She opened her mind and conjoined with the uppermost layers of the aged Inquisitor. Power flowed through her and empyrium opened itself to her, freely giving her the strength to dig deeply, taking her, forcing her to look further than was asked and further than she ever intended to go. Tree daemons conversed through the sound of wind through woodland, images of Terra filled her, a child, a golden throne and corpse god, a malevolent Astartes in black armour standing over Terra, a daemonic weapon piercing the imperial palace, the golden child, grown into a woman, denouncing the black clad apostate. The jabbering trees stoked the power in her unconscious mind, they crucified the golden child upon ancient bark. But the daemons spoke too much and her mind slipped upon a hidden moon of thorns. At this the daemons retreated but not before gleaning the shape of Lazaros’ plans. She felt a wall of iron come up in Lazaros mind, his willpower created protection from this forced interruption. Twice he willed the Emperor and the third time he prayed. She felt him change his mind and message, a further level of unbreakable encryption placed upon it. He projected a name and image into her mind; Inquisitor Kovettell, this women filled Borleen with dread and almost un-veiled evil but according to Lazaros her intensions were pure. Then he showed her a medieval world and a mind map of how to find it through hidden routes in the Veiled Region of Segmentum Tempestus. Blackness enclosed around her and she felt Lazaros build a prison in her mind.

Borleen woke and her mind ached and body felt withered. Gingerly she reached out with her mind to find a tech adept connecting her to a life supporting hover throne, its front embossed with the symbol of the Inquisition. The station tech adept told her that this throne would support her and displace her from danger, for she must be alive to meet the Inquisitor. The adept sounded unsure and she felt his revulsion at the technology he was interfering and interfacing her with. She drifted back into unconsciousness.

She was startled awake by the sound of a single gunshot, she smelt blood and oil and heard the tech adept fall to the metal deck with a clang. “Remember what I said to you Astropath Borleen. You are a tool, you hold value. The tech-adept’s task was done but he could not be trusted. You will survive to complete your task. Do it correctly and you will survive after its completion.” Lazaros turned and left her there, the sound of his limp fading away. She knew she would never see him again but also that she was still in grave danger, her body wrecked and her mind a trap.



Beregus left the cargo bay of the guncutter and headed to the pilots deck. Anything to be away from the null warded sword casket, it’s humming and stuttering gnawing at his senses. He was not required, anyway, the Kovettell sisters muttered and planned amongst themselves. His task aboard the void station was simple, hired muscle. Apparently though the tarot cards and scryering the Inquisitor knew others had found the spool of Garm’s Maw. The void station’s astopath would hold a message; like a note in a bottle left bobbing on the voids currents. The astropath was not safe and the Inquisitorix needed to get the message and leave quickly and quietly.

Upon entering the deck the pilot looked at Beregus and gave a grim smile. “You get used to them you know. They might be unsettling but I’ve seen them destroy heretics and spare the Imperium from a heap of shite.” Beregus said nothing, he grimly nodded to the storm coat wearing pilot. Through the shuttles void lens a behemoth was coming into view, it was tiny but they were still an hour away. Beregus sat and waited to be summoned to the cargo bay. He knew he was mixed up in this now, trapped in it. There was no going back. He’d have to get used to it, because going back would likely end in torture and execution.

+ + +

That great intro was by PDH.

A very special game was played yesterday at Warhammer World, extending the storyline of the Pilgrym. The warbands involved were crafted by john Blanche, Peter Hudson, Tim Molloy, and myself, with some miniatures by featuring artists thrown in the mix. The game was a veritable psychic storm, with the void station being absolutely cleansed by competing factions of the Inquisition. There was so much going on and so many heroic feats that they will fuel the campaign for months. But now I’ll just let the pictures do the talking:

Inquisitor Walsynghymme and retinue by John Blanche
Inquisitor Kovettel and retinue by Peter Hudson
Tech-Adept lot Henlin and his Thalaxii Guard by Tim Molloy
Tim also brought these along: Lord Inquisitor Katalin Helk and Acolytes, converted by James Ashbey
Kolex & Kolix, Savant Crasteos, Sergeant halkand, and bound psyker by Toni
John’s warband advances in the station
The Mechanicum managed to switch off station lights for a considerable time


Sergeant Halkand discovers Astropath Borleen
The Astropath manages to escape though, by way of hidden pathways..
..only to come face-to-face with Inquisitor Kovettel


The cipher is extracted

31 thoughts on “The Pilgrym – Extracting the Cipher

  1. My only regret in the game was not ramming the daemon weapon into the astropath’s chest after Kovettell extracted the cipher. But I didnt want her stuck in Helk’s stasis psi power until the Thallaxii arrived. Wading through John Dee – the tarot reader, and Walsynghymm was time consuming enough.

    Thanks for another good day out to WW.

    Also better than any new GW release is news that there is a new chef at Bugman’s. Not only was the food edible but it was also very nice.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I really wish GW would “box” your guys passion and sell us a Inquisitor skirmish game(rules and all).
    I would hazard a guess that it would have more of an appeal than redoing necromunda (dont get me wrong I love Necromunda)


  3. Faint echoes of hissing transistors and ventilators filled the vaulted reading chamber. The ceiling disappeared into the damp darkness high above and the only visible light came from the bioluminescent moss that covered most of the thorny dais standing in the centre of the chamber.

    All cards but one in the aged Deck of Thornes were placed face down on top of the dais in a layout that seemed to resemble the face of a green man with one of his eyes, the upward facing card, open. Moss-covered roots and iron black cables held the card in place as tiny thorns had sprouted from its edges like small needles. The card was covered in a translucent layer of sparkling frost that almost made the depiction of a gnarled tree on a wintery field of snow-covered thorns invisible.

    For a fortnight the face of the green man had stared, with his frost-glazed eye like a bright neutron star, into the darkness above the dais. The card had proclaimed the coming of Wynter. The Elder Ones were already assembling. But this night a tiny ripple in the Empyrean had been detected once again and even though the cards had never before been read twice in the same moon phase the robed figure tapped the designated card, the closed eye of the green man, with the end of a biomechanical haw staff.

    With a hissing sound of pistons moving the roots and cables on the dais turned the card over, slowly opening the other eye, and the hunched figure now stared into both eyes of the green man; His left eye was the frost-glazed Wynter Tree proclaiming the coming of winter. His right eye, now, the Tree of Codes depicting a labyrinthine shaped tree covered in cipher and encrypted text that seemed to constantly change and transform in swirling shades of green.

    Puzzled the figure stared into the eyes of the green man. The Tree of Codes seemed to signify that winter would bring with it the key to the green room, but never had the Deck of Thornes been so contradictory…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Crazy miniatures and wonderful text! This is a creative ideal! I look forward for the next part of the story!
    I’m happy i could meet shortly with you this weekend! I hope that in my emotional muddle i could mumbled that you’re all a huge source of inspiration! Thank you!


  5. I put some time aside to read this, PDH intro was very compelling. It looks like it was a great day, the models are great. Will there be more to this story in the future?


  6. Stunning. The amount of imagination, gorgeous models and badass storytelling on this page is fantastic. I always get the urge to tinker or paint something when i visit. I am not ashamed to say i ‘borrow’ alot of my inspiration from you guys. Keep up the brilliant work

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Superb models and photography . The narrative campaign aspect is what i miss most about gaming . Iron sleet is quite the most inspired collection of original and beautiful 40k models i can think of. On a personal note , its great to see pdh’s work outside the forums ._ the iron sleet collective are unmatched .


  8. I came across you website, very interesting. I love all the war bands in the blanchus sections of the white dwarfs. I have been always curious on how you play these war bands. How do you select and arm them? Select the characteristics for each member of the war band? I guess once that is done you then use 40k rules to play?


    1. 40k, necromunda, inquisitor. We pick and mix the rules according to who is familiar with them and what the scenario is. Good GM helps a lot!


  9. I discovered your site after reading about Pilgyrm in the latest issue of White Dwarf, Nov 2017. To say I’m in awe would be an understatement. I’ve read that you use a mix of rules: Necromunda, Inquisitor, etc. I am wondering how do you actually start a campaign. I read a previous post of your group role playing the creation of retinues. How did you do that? I’m intrigue to try my hands at my own version.


    1. Hi, glad you found us form the web! There was some email role playing before Pilgrym, sending out distress signals and the like..


  10. Love skirmish games with small gangs or war bands..this kind of stuff keeps my hobby juices flowing (and John Blanch too !!)


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