The Licenian Crusade

The Black Library

Craftworld Aletheia

(700 + GE)
(all present)

Personal Cipher Engaged

Subject: Eldar Mythology
Cipher-Lock: Sister Minerva de Liire – Ordo Famulous
Thought for the Day: “Understanding leads to Corruption”

As we waited at Craftworld Aletheia for the arrival of the Consul and Inquisitor Steendahl, Cousin Roland and his entourage was invited to a special cultural event aboard the immense Eldar vessel. He was kind enough to include me in the invitation, and so we were all transported by the Eldar assigned to be our liason, Ms. Zia of the Thousand Stars.

At the Eldar equivalent of a theatre we were met by the Farseer of the vessel, Alros Uxor, who explained that this particular performance was of great cultural significance to his people, and that there were some who disagreed with his decision to permit us to attend. He furthermore stressed that only Darrius and Lady Soteris would be able to perceive the full depths of the performance, as much of Eldar art is psychic in nature. We were offered a “sense link” with Zia so that we might fully appreciate the performance. I grudgingly agreed to the offer, as did the others, with the exception of Cousin Roland who rightly opined that should something occur, at least one of us would need to keep his wits about him. We arrayed ourselves and waited while the hall filled silently with nearly a thousand of the Farseer’s kin.

The lights dimmed, and suddenly a motley assortment of Eldar appeared upon the stage. They were garish and beautiful, graceful, with trailers of light following every movement. They were dancers who moved without music, accompanied only by the wash of potent emotions conveyed through their movements and directly upon the minds of their observers. The elaborate dance told a tale of a pantheon of deities, or metaphorical representations of Eldar ideals, all in balance, all nourishing and nourished by a vast empire of their people. One of the dancers began to dominate the dance, however; an eerily graceful creature exuding Eldar delight and pleasure in the good things in life. The others, representing law, warfare, mirth, and other such ideals, were inexorably pushed back, losing dance space to pleasure. The emotional states transmitted by the performers were… breathtaking, strong and pure, almost intoxicating. I have never felt, personally emotions so strongly or so unmixed.

Then the lights flickered, and the dancer representing pleasure vanished to be replaced by a single figure, swathed in concealing black, wearing a blank mirrored mask for a face. This new dancer emanated a vast hunger for sensation, for pleasure, for power, for any and every sensation, and one by one he slew the other dancers, their emotions and bodies severed like puppet strings, the blank-faced dancer consumed them until only two were left, the dancer of war and the dancer of mirth. As the war-dancer held off the blank-faced one, the mirthful one vanished in a cloud of colored smoke. The war-dancer fell, but did not snuff out. His mind fractured into pieces and faded from our sight.

And then… then the blank-faced dancer turned to the audience. I cannot speak to what my companions witnessed in that mirror-mask, but I saw myself reflected there, I saw my own hungers, my own hidden desires and pleasures laid bare, I saw the depths of my secret sins. I saw the delight the dancer would take in devouring my soul. It was easily one of the most traumatic experiences of my life.

The other Eldar clearly felt something similar. Previously silent, they murmured and gasped as the mask turned to them all, then the lights went out, and he vanished.

The performance was over. Lady Soteris seemed most shaken of my companions, but none stood unscathed. The Farseer informed us that the performers were known to our tongue as “Harlequins” and that to them was given the task of preserving the tale of the Fall of the Eldar and the Birth of the Great Devourer. He had other words for us about cultural understanding and mutual trust, but I was overwhelmed by nausea and needed to depart. Fortunately the Farseer didn’t keep us long.

I took myself rapidly away from the Craftworld back to my comfortable chambers aboard the Forgehammer where I spent a night of long hours in prayer and self-flagellation.

A day or so later, Inquisitor Steendahl arrived and conferred with Cousin Roland about a plan of action in the coming summit. Shortly thereafter, the Consul arrived via webway portal in our former ship, the Sovereign of the Void. Accompanying him to the craftworld was Elder Soros of the Consul’s personal Space Marines, and the Eldar Warlock Aleph.

I was not present at the summit itself, but I am told that Cousin Roland presented the truth as he knew it to the Consul in keeping with his given word of honor, but that he stressed the unknown dangers of the Consul joining once more with the planet of his birth. As a result, the Consul was convinced to take the process slowly, and in constant coordination with Inquisitor Steendahl. I am also told that Elder Soros was deeply disturbed to learn that the man he and his people had served for seven centuries was not, after all, the blood-descendant of the Emperor, but rather a being created before the Emperor’s own birth in the waning days of the Dark Age of Technology. I’m given to believe that Elder Soros will, however, manage to adapt their personal religious notions accordingly. It is a shame to see such loyal children of the Emperor following a false god.

As Inquisitor Steendahl and the Consul prepared to return to Neumos, Cousin Roland and his retainers discussed their next plans. Astropathic communication relayed that our other ships continued their tasks salvaging material from the Throne of the Sky Father and refurbishing it at Port Aguirre. The only wrinkle was the report that a few Tech Priests had committed suicide, presumably as a result of studying the Oculos we had left there. Additionally there was the matter of ensuring that Inquisitor Distaff had bargained truly and that Galer was uncontestably ours. Ultimately, however, such notions of maintenance held little appeal compared to two other courses of action. First, to accompany the Consul to Neumos to look upon that process, but second, to attempt access to the Black Library, something that apparently the Harlequin troupe could facilitate if they could be convinced to permit it.

Rumor of the Black Library has haunted us for some time. The semi-mythical repository of all Eldar knowledge about chaos and its entities has been a goal of Steendahl’s for years. The Farseer implied that Steendahl’s addiction to data made him… unsuitable but that the “Solitaire” of the Harlequins might be convinced to permit Roland and his entourage to glimpse it. Roland, Lady Soteris, Darrius, Svenya, and Missionary Tyrian ultimately made the attempt, traveling deep into the heart of the craftworld to speak to the Solitaire, the dancer who was tasked with the burden of playing the role of the Great Devourer itself, the masked presence who had so terrified us a few days before.

A few hours later they returned, pale and shaking, some rocking catatonic, others jumping at shadows. They had been through a dramatic and traumatic experience and would not speak of specifics. I will ensure the servants prepare comforting meals, and will see if they can be brought out of their shells. Surely they were unable to actually visit the mythical library in that short a time? I wonder what their encounter with the Harlequin Solitaire revealed.

Perhaps soon they will be in a position to speak with me.

Cipher Lock Disengaged

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ardhanari

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