We rejoin the Cell in the middlehive of Hive Sibellus on Scintilla. They are performing reconnaissance on a storage locker facility traced from a number found in a bag sitting on the bed of the room presumed to be Theodosia’s in The Alabaster Court in the Spire of Hive Sibellus. Finding nothing amiss, they proceeded to the specific locker that the number led them to. The Mech-Wright of Acolyte Raneiro Bassi, Bautistum de Cespedum, had cut the power to the facility as planned. Odessa sensed the faintest of warp traces somewhere in the vicinity while Arion, using the lock-pick set he was given by Septimus Dexter, defeated the mechanical lock holding the door fast & rolled the metal articulated door up into the ceiling. The assassin identified a box just inside the door that was almost surely a communication node capable of sending messages – probably that the door was open. It was dark now from the lack of power, but he worked at permanently disabling it.
The psyker examined the wall of metal shelves just inside the ~2m wide opening – it was lined with what the sanctioned warp maven immediately recognized as Witch Cages. It was an item she had only been told about & seeing one for the first time caused a shudder & chill throughout her.
Intios, mesmerized by what knowledge & wealth the small storage room of the heretic might contain, stepped inside forthwith. A few feet within, however, he felt the lightest of touches on his leg lasting only an instant. He looked down to discover his fears realized, the thinnest of filament wire laying on the ground…tripwire.
To their relief, finding themselves all still alive a moment later, Arion investigated what turned out to be some type of Promethium incendiary device that had a keypad and timer that now read three and a fraction minutes. The acolyte wasn’t versed in explosives, but it looked like a lot of the highly volatile substance in gel form. The others quickly stripped the room of all contents, while Arion worked at quickly disabling the explosive that would soon have more than the room encased in burning hot flames. Not having enough time, he told them they only had a couple minutes left. Odessa found a metal box that later tests would reveal to be the charred remains of Apollyon Matum, a retired physician on Hesiod’s Wake, one of the individuals that security footage had shown boarding the Dark Heart with Jaleb Samtoll. Odessa immediately realized the body was the source of the warp trace.
Taking it all, they hurried towards the gate, drawing stares from storage locker owners – the assassin yelled an obscure warning over his shoulder as they passed through the fence opening. The expected explosion occurred and, glancing back, saw a surprising amount of the roof already covered in intense flames. They fled into an alley to regroup and take inventory of the room’s contents. They holed up there for the night.
In the morning, Intios made the journey back into the Spire and to Acolyte Dexter’s office at the University of Sibellus. A quiet pickup of the body and some other goods was arranged. After receiving word on the identity of the body they’d found, they returned to House Strophes and had Laurent begin preparations for their visit to the ever-walking city of Ambulon.
Lord Strophes prepared their Ambulon papers, providing them the cover as his commercial agents & arranged for their ornithopter ride there. Many hours later they were treated to a site that no description can fully prepare one for – a giant walking city. After arriving & being approved by Ambulon’s watchful Magistratum, they set out to find the renowned gem cutter by the name of Kronis Estrun in the Red-Gold Quadrant on the spine and “headward”.
Due to Lord Strophes’ trust in Estrun, the acolytes confided in him hoping he would be able to provide them information pertaining to this strange city and the quarry they sought. While not personally knowing much of value, besides the general whereabouts of The Joyous Choir Temple, he pointed them to a strange purveyor of information indeed, the Ocular Oracle.
Estrun’s grandson led the Cell to a courtyard, rare in the packed city, rarer still for being empty – and a hole in the ground big enough for them to walk down into. They were immediately hit with heat, humidity, smell of lubricant & sound of machinery. Deep inside the tunnel they came to a room filled with thousands of hanging silver chains, whose seemingly random tinkling contact with one another was somehow playing the familiar refrain from an Imperial hymn. Pushing past these chains was a doorway, behind which was a strangely shaped room filled with clusters of devices, the majority of which appeared to be in various states of disrepair or completely broken. The remains of once sophisticated cogitators lay among data-slates and dozens of other unrecognisable machines. In the center of the room, on a slung chair made of intricately braided electrical wires, sat a man of indeterminable age. An augmentic servo harness encased his body and a series of bionic data-jacks were connected to several of the machines about the room by long cables plugged into his skull and along his entire spine.
The ensuing “conversation” left them with far more questions than answers about the Ocular Oracle himself…but the Oracle had a number of interesting responses to their varied questions. There was mention of a human people called the Adranti, that the Oracle claimed was responsible for the xeno tech found in the broken taro card. The hooked sickle, a question mark formed from a blade, was the symbol of an ancient group of cut-throat black marketers known as the Serrated Query. Their master he referred to as the Faceless One, whose location he did not know. He offered that The Joyous Choir was simply a front for “the questioning mark that cuts”. The acolytes eyebrows raised when the Oracle told them that this xeno tech was used to destroy a diviner…an Inquisitorial diviner named Aristarchus the Seer. Adding a final stroke to this already extremely unique experience, the Ocular Oracle pointed them to the bottom of a pile in the corner of the room, where they found a decorative plate with the symbol of the Serrated Query on the back.
The Oracle having gone silent, the Cell emerged from the tunnel to find Estrun’s grandson waiting for them. He led them to a student’s inn near the Magnopticon, the University of Ambulon that the grandson had pointed out to them earlier, where Estrun had arranged accommodations for them & where they stayed the night.
In the morning they set out for the Joyous Choirs’ temple, which they had been told was at the rearward end of the Spine, on the other side of the city. It was a slog, for the city was so short on space that all travel that they’d so far seen was over the top of the mishmash of abodes that its citizens lived in. Near the end of daylight they grew close to their destination and started to ask around. They were told of an inn they could get a room at and that the temple was just a couple of rows down. They proceeded just far enough to be able to see the small courtyard in front of the temple & the frontage of the temple itself. They weren’t impressed, though it was notable that, unlike the vast majority of structures they’d seen so far, the buildings nearby didn’t press in on it. A bit of reconnaissance revealed that a few of the seemingly passers-by outside the front of the temple never really left the courtyard.