Sunday, August 26, 2012

The House of Dust and Ash, pt. 3: Settling in and a Trip to Deadtown

Before leaving, the ship's captain approaches them, and thanks them for dealing with the Wreckers when the ship was attacked. Red the Guardsman's work with the autogun really took the starch out of their sails. The captain says

One other thing, this ship and others like it were hired by those night-black mourners to fetch folk to this ‘auction,’ but I don’t think any one of us was hired to fetch anybody back…but we will wait, as long as it takes to patch up this old girl anyway. Just mind you’re back here when we fly.
The acolytes are quick thinking, and bribe him to extend the stay by faking repairs, or whatever else he has to do. He promises them another day. They don't know it yet, but that day won't be necessary. things will come to fruition before then.

The acolytes leave the airship, and are left to their own devices. Vymer and Quill head out in the direction of Deadtown, up to who knows what, and  the others begin trudging up the mountainside toward the House of Dust and Ash. Eventually, the acolytes are greeted by Hiram Bland. He says:

I am the senior provost here. My name is Hiram Bland, servant of the Adeptus Terra. I have the honour of administering the Haarlock estate auction. I am glad to see that you arrived safely and in time for tonight’s reception. If I might have your credentials?

After receiving their particulars, he goes on:

You have the run of the place, except where you’ll find a locked door. The main gate is always open… Sadly it is not as accurate a map as we would like…so try not to stray too far… the complex is surprising large, and er…very old. 
Feel free to ask assistance of any of my…adepts, or the troopers who guard us here. We are not many and confine ourselves to the auction area marked on your map. There are others of course…the ones in the black shrouds, they are the Sorrowful Guild…the caretakers of this place I suppose, but I doubt you’ll get much out of them…and their servitors… A few others about the place…visitors, pilgrims and such…but I can’t answer to that.
He conducts them up to the complex, and gives them direction to their rooms. They settle in, and take precautions before heading out again, this time to Deadtown.

I also began at this point to introduce some of my own pieces into the published work from which I was working. Here's the handout I provided when they entered the mausoleum/creamtorium complex:

The House of Dust and Ash is a black basalt monstrosity, windowless, except for a great dome at the top, which houses the Garden of Lost Souls, and its auditorium. 

During your time here, you have noted that the architecture combines elements associated with Classical Imperial styles, but in ways that seem off. The angles are wrong somehow, and the various features (e.g., doors, columns, etc.) always  seem to be in locations just slightly off from where they are "supposed" to be.

In addition, the interior architecture is decorated extensively with abstract, geometrical designs unlike any of you have ever seen. In some cases the designs seem to extend into the stone itself, though close inspection seems to belie that fact.  After all, how can a two-dimensional design exist in more than two dimensions? There are also elements of Classical nature motifs, including a variety of Terran and xenos flora and fauna. The xenos creatures are particularly terrible to behold, seeming so lifelike that one gets the feeling that, if they could escape from their stone prisons, they would rend to bloody shreds any person unfortunate enough to be present.

The overall effect is that of a perversion of Classical forms, at once faithful to the forms and vilely satirical of them. Merely walking around the place gives you all the creeps. You feel uncharacteristically uncomfortable and a bit paranoid. You often feel almost as if the place itself hates you, and that it is watching coldly and implacably for some opportunity to present itself. At other times, you feel small and insignificant, irrelevant to the space you find yourself in, an outsider in an alien landscape, mattering not the slightest little bit, and distant from anything of consequence to the building and the people it houses.
I was (pretty obviously) going for an HP Lovecraft sort of vibe, though I never used the words, "squamous" or "gibbous," so I didn't rip off the whole of his work. :)

Okay, so the trip to Deadtown... 

About a kilometre around the volcanic cliffs of the Burning Island is a small settlement known colloquially as Deadtown. Set back in a series of caverns along the shoreline, the settlement is a ramshackle place and home to various scavengers and dregs. Primarily Deadtown is used as a black market trading post for the local area, with many wrecker crews, reclaimators, skyship crews, and even off-duty troopers to be found drowning their sorrows here.

It is a dangerous and largely lawless place; however, its dangers are more of an obvious kind as opposed to the ones that the Acolytes will face in the House of Dust and Ash. The folk of Deadtown have little to do with “the house” and roundly think it accursed, believing the Sorrowful Guild (with whom they sometimes grudgingly trade) unnatural and cursed as well. The locals do keep a weather eye on the comings and goings of the place, however, peddling tales and stories of strange comings and goings if a little coin is spread around.

They acolytes decided to go down to Deadtown to pick up some more fire power, in the form of some mercenaries for hire (smart plan, that), and a few grenades if any were to be found. They were successful in doing both of these things. 

Also, as I said in my last post, it was the second time in two sessions that the acolyte Ferrus D'Angelus attempted to work his charms on a lady, and it was... so incredibly awkward. They went into a bar to find the mercenaries. Why some of the characters did so, Ferrus's "owner," who is female, decided that he needed to get some action. "Okay," I said. "Roleplay it." What followed was some of the most awkward pickup lines ever, which was also ironic, because he was chatting up the local whores. We all got a good laugh out of that. It wouldn't be the last time. Eventually, Ferrus got his rocks off, mercenaries were hired, grenades were acquired, and the acolytes began to make their way up the mountainside to The House of Dust and Ash. 

Just as they got to the edge of Deadtown, they were attacked by a squad of toughs, from the look of them, local scum rather than professionals. They were able to kills several of them and drive the rest off without taking any wounds themselves. However, they assume that Someone must have sent them. Was it that Octavia Nile? The tough guys, Vymer and Quill? Some other group or person? They aren't sure, but now they feel a bit better set up than they were at the beginning of the adventure. This is good, because things are only going to get worse from here.

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