Ash-of-the-Pen's tale

Ash-of-the-Pen's tale

or, silver-tongued John Noddy's impish retelling

[//Five Inquisitors were gathered in an undisclosed location+]



[//Self-ident designation:+] 
  • Askr, Deucalion-pattern recordist [monotask] [self]

[//Attentive and present principals:+]

  • Sakoa, Cho; Inquisitor, Ordo Lacunae [Sa]
  • Greenwood, Jaqi; Inquisitor, Ordo Astartes [Gr]
  • Brant, Kolin; Inquisitor, Ordo Astartes [Br]
  • Mahapat, Zoon; Inquisitor, Ordo Propter [Ma]
  • Okereke, Ostar; Inquisitor, Ordo Xenos [Ok]
  • Lob, Sin-eater, Ordo Lacunae [sLo]
  • Morosto, [//Chapter+] Golden Hand; [sMo]
  • Hengest, Chapter [//Chapter+] Valedictors; [sHe]
  • Noddy, John, [//expurgated/non-present Val=?+] [XX]


[+autoscrubcycle complete=]

'[...]n't it scribing?' [–Gr]

'Look again. The eyes are tracking.' [–Ma]

[//Mahapat Zoon, Ordo Propter+]

'As long as it gets everything down. We don't want to do Sakoa’s work for him, do we?' [–Ok]

[//Ostar Okereke, Ordo Xenos+]

[annotobservation: Thin laughter] [–Gr/Br/Ma/XX]

[annotobservation: Gr uses a wand to project a portion of the chart from the table to the projection unit. Light washes over the wall, highlighting key systems.]

'Ordo Astartes agents are operating on every principal planet in Morqub. That's news to none of you. The problem we're facing is that we're running into counter-agency work here [//indicated: Kadath; Strabo's Star; Polemix; Cantahar+]. I think that you [//indicated: Sa; Ok+] can[...]' [–Gr]

'Is that an accusation?' [–Ok] [posit: threatposture]

[threatposture: sMo/sHe]

[concilitposture: –Ok; Sa; Gr]

Five Inquisitors. One for each; and two for one. Teehee. Round and round it goes. {~XX?}

'[...]cusing anyone. At least; not in so many words.' [–Gr]

[annotobservation: Pause]

'Is that thing splitting again? Is this whole sector so penurious we can't afford a decent autoscribe?' [–Gr]

'Get to the facts of the matter, Greenwood. We don't need this all [...]' [–Ma]

'If I had the facts, Zoon, do you think we'd be here now?' [–Gr]

'Certainty that there is certainty. That's what's burrows through this whole affair.' [–Sa] 

[//Cho Sakoa, Ordo Lacunae+]

[annotobservation: Thin laughter] [–Ma]

'I want to know. I want to know. That's what you're all saying here; but you're not allowing for the fact that perhaps there aren't any facts; that certainty is going to be impossible.' [–Sa]

'They're right. We've got more than half a sector saying a Primarch has returned, but no-one seems to know what he looks like, let alone who he is. No pict-captures; no vid-record. The population of Crow's world insist he's twenty foot tall and breathes fire; while the Magister of Forbearance has interdicted message-in-a-bottle craft to the blessed Fists, saying it's [//oath+]ing Dorn in disguise. We've got reports he's variously a spirit; some sort of psychic echo; a daemon of the abyss; the Ymblams swear blind this Volnoscere's a woman; and various sects have claimed he’s actually in the form of an [//oath+]ing dragon, or manticore, or varwolf... [–Ok]

‘All those options clearly as ridiculous as each other in your eyes?’ [–Gr]

‘Throne take it, Jaqi, I've just had to execute a member of my own staff for claiming it's the Emperor himself, incarnated and returned, if you please.[–Ok]

'Don't condescend to me, Ostar – or you, Sakoa. The Imperium has endured these past few centuries not by cohesion, but by adaptability.' [–Gr]

'That's a matter of opinion.' [–Ok]

An angry fist on the desk sets a tumbler of water shaking. Shimmering reflections flash across the high, dusty ceiling, across the lintel of the door. Across the two giants there; one hop-harvest gold, one the green of summer grass. The ring of five stop arguing for a moment.

'[...]nd that's why we're sitting here, instead of the main conclave. Throne take you all! Are you not Inquisitors? You're meant to know – and if you don't, then you [//oath+]ing well find out. You don't spend your whole [//oath+]ing time getting in each other's [//oath+]ing way!' [–Br]

Passional one, isn't he?

[//Kolin Brant, Ordo Astartes+]

'[...][chronoblip – vocalise:] +recordist: absentia uncertain period. Compliant.' [self]

'Oh for... Has the damned thing..?[–Gr]

'Forget the servitor, Greenwood. And you, Brant; don't come coy with us. There's only one reason we're gathered here in this side-room rather than in the Regency Gates back in Heliopolis. We're not front-line for the Pentarchy any more than you are.' [–Ok]

Oh? Well, isn't that interesting, littlescribe Ash? I think now's a good time for you to speak up, don't you?

+vocalise:] I. want. to. know. [self]
[annotobservation: nonplusposture: all participants]

Your voice is a little thin. Why not try again? No need to be shy.

+vocalise:] I want to know. [self]
[annotobservation: threatposture: all participants]
[unclarity: multiple voces; bandwidtherror]


Five Inquisitors, supposedly unarmed, have drawn various hidden strangebows and blades; mostly pointed at Ash-of-the-pen. Master Okereke, huge and armoured, has clamped down the seals on his suit. The two giants stand athwart the Greenwood, eyes like hunters on the others. Little Master Lob Sineater has fainted clean away, poor thing. 

A coldness has descended on the ring of Inquisitors. Already suspicious, they're certain of treachery now. 

Miss Mahapat stands, blade up. Arm and eyes steady, a bead of sweat is forming on her brow. I reach down and flick it away, lightly. No fun. She doesn't even twitch. Perhaps she didn't notice. Teehee.

'From the reaction, none of you were expecting that. And while I don't pretend to know any of you enough to judge your theatrical abilities, my judgement tells me none of you are acting. Which raises the question...'

Greenwood finishes her thought. 

'Who placed the servitor?'

The doors open. Three giants start to enter, stooping slightly, despite the height of the portal. The Silver Stars have their strangebows raised. Morosto of the Golden Hand dives to one side, carrying Greenwood over, behind a heavy desk. The first pair of the Silver Stars advance on him, but it is Hengest-of-the-Valedictors who kills him. With a great crash and flash like the voice of the gods, his strangebow barks and Morosto dies. 

[//Brother Morosto, Vigilant+]

Two of the Inquisitors start to react, but it is as though in slow-motion. Mister Okereke moves to put his blade down, warily. Teehee. Hengest turns and disarms Brant; breaking his blade with a chop of his wrist. Such strength! The other Silver Stars come in. The third is slighter, but taller. The fourth comes bearing a staff.

A stillness falls. Little Ash-of-the-pen speaks up, his withered old voice still thin, poor thing.

'+highcant+Volo Noscere.'

One of the Silver Stars – seemingly unarmed – lifts away his helm, with a hiss of escaping air. Holding it in one hand, he shakes out his black hair and scans the room. His expression is blank, his skin taut and tanned, dark. He nods to one of the Silver Stars, indicating Miss Greenwood.

[//ident: Astartes Chapter: incognitae. Fig. Tentatively identified as ‘Vox Volnoscere’+]

'Kōkua iā-ia. And you; all of you. Be seated.' The Inquisitors cautiously seat themselves, eyes wary. A Silver Star comes to stand slightly behind and off to one side of Brant, Sakoa, and Greenwood. The latter rubs her elbow distractedly, clearly in some pain. 'Mahapat. Illuminate them.'

The Inquisitor stands up. How exciting. He looks to the unhelmed Silver Star, then to the two guarded Inquisitors.

'It's a simple offer. I'm sure you can guess it.'

'I'm not simple, Zoon. What I want to know–', Brant almost spat the words out '–is why.' There is a pregnant pause. The Vox Volnoscere – for of course that's the one who took off his helmet; teehee – raised an eyebrow. 

'It's as you said, Kolin. We wanted to know. And in learning his truth – or at least a measure of it – we got a taste for it. Sakoa and I have been checking the records. The Imperium's bounds have never been further set; its governance never stronger; nor more united. The Primarch is what we've been searching for. A figurehead. A leader. And one that can act as an ameliorant to the united High Lords; preventing corruption.'

'Zoon and I are divided on the details,' Sakoa said, in a quiet voice. 'But a Primarch was born to lead. He deserves his space at his Father's side.'

[//Jaqi Greenwood, Ordo Astartes+]

Greenwood speaks up. 'Are you insane? The Abomination is no more a Primarch than I am. Even if it were a returned Primarch, be realistic. You'd tear the Imperium apart trying to prop him up. You think the Ecclesiarchy would–'

'Leave the Ecclesiarchy to me.


The voice is deep, and sonorous, and presages another figure entering the room. This one bows as it does so; but not out of respect. No. As it straightens up, it becomes clear that it needs to. Greenwood pales. Brant freezes. 

The figure carries a monstrous mace; black and gold and silver, and atopped with a skull-headed eagle. A ragged cloak sits at its back, and its eyes–

–its eyes see me.

'Kauloki. You aren't needed here, I think.'

I want to be here. You can't make me leave.


It smiles at that, and nods to the Vox Volnoscere. We have known each other a long time. It's... children? Sons? Its star-sailor-soldiers always obey its words. It barely has to tell them. It is difficult to have a god's tongue.

And I do not think it wants to talk much more. I am glad. Its voice hurts me.

'Kauloki. Nansee-jackal. John Noddy. I name you three times; and that means I can make you leave.'

It is no fun. I wanted to see the argument. I want to see the Vox Volnoscere try to convince them with his tongue, silver as his soldier-name, and plump and fat with oil and lies. I start to slink away, but slip a little into Ash-of-the-scribe's head. By a glimmer in its eye, I think it knows a little of me has stayed.

[+autoscrubcycle complete=unrecognised override purged]
'[...][chronoblip – vocalise:] +recordist: absentia uncertain period. Compliant.' [self]

'[...]it scribing this? It should scribe this. It needs to be–' [–Gr] [panictone]

'Inquisitor Jaqi Greenwood; Inquisitor Kolin Brant. Ordos Astartes both. And Inquisitor Okereke, Ordo Xenos. I name you all; for you are known to us. I am charged to give you words.' [–newfiguretertial]

'This. This is. I am.' [–Br]

'It is usual to display concern, Inquisitor.' [–newfiguretertial]

The words seems to shake Inquisitor Brant. He gathers himself. Impressive!

'I am not concerned. I am a member of the holy Inquisition of him-on-Terra. I do not get concerned. Others are concerned with me.' [-Br]

[//Obsrv: Inquisitor prevented from standing by newfiguresecundus. No injuries observed.+] 

'How long have you been part of this, Hengest?' [–Gr]

'The Marines Mendicant stand ready to serve my Lord, Inquisitor.' [–newfiguretertial]

[//Obsrv: sHe nods to Gr/ posit:respectful. No injuries observed.+] 

[unclarity: multiple voces; bandwidtherror]

'If I'm to hear any more of this... this... blasphemy; this nonsense, then I'll hear it from the Abomination itself.' [–Br]

[threatposture: sHe; –newfigureprimary; –newfigurequaternary. A moment later: –Ok, –Gr.]

[//Obsrv: –newfiguretertial shrugs. Turns to –newfigurequinticeps+]

'[INUNDATUS; bandwidtherror]' [–newfigurequinticeps]

[//Obsrv: –Br fixed stare at NEWFIGURE quinticeps. NEWFIGURE quinticeps appears across the vocalspace; posit/ transloc. VALUE=flase; velocityexceed for [self]'s visual track QUERY?+]

'[INUNDATUS; bandwidtherror]' [–newfigurequinticeps]

[auditory lower limit reached] 'Im... impossi... That can't be y–' [–BR]

[//Obsrv: a splash of red across the far wall, a clouded brow. Is it regretful? Even here?]

[unclarity: multiple voces; bandwidtherror]

[//Obsrv: –Br deceased/ QUERY raise medical? QUERY.]

That won't be possible, Ash-of-the-Pen. Leave it to do its work.

'Defiance in the face of a new reality is commendable, Inquisitors. Wiwo 'ole.' [–newfiguretertial]

'... but only to a point. This isn't the first time; but I hope it's the last. Brant is dead for nothing. I am not asking you for your fealty; nor to reject the Emperor; nor even to admit of divinity in his presence. Further, we ask nothing secret of you, nor to keep secrets. I simply ask that you do not work to impede our path. There have long been too many secrets; too many things lost; too many things forgotten.' [–newfiguretertial]

[//Obsrv: –newfiguretertial facialexpression: unreadable.]

'[INUNDATUS; bandwidtherror]' [–newfigurequinticeps]

[//Obsrv: –newfigureQuinticeps kneels, facing –Gr and –Ok.]

'Think about it, Ostar; and you, Greenwood. Whether you believe Volnoscere is a Primarch or not is immaterial.' [–Sa]

[threatposture: –sHe; –newfigureprimary, –newfigure secundus, –newfigurequaternary.]

[concilitposture: –newfigurequinticeps]

'Sakoa's right. This isn't about faith. Not any more. The High Lords are choking any dissidence; have been for centuries. The Imperium is on a path to something terrible. Just consider the things I – we – have hidden. How much has been lost, never to be remembered? This wasn't how mankind was meant to live' [–Ma]

'You claim to know the will of the Emperor?' [–Ok]

'The High Lords claim the same – but here is one who spoke with him; knew him like a father.' [–Ma]

[Gest: encompasses two of newfigure]

'How can you believe that? How can it be verified?' [–Gr]

'Remember the false promises of technology. You look for facts and verification, when what is before us is the concern of will and certainty.' [–Sa]

'This... this is impossible. For the first time in known history, the Imperium is stable. It's an inevitability.' [–Gr]

'I am not sure I am ready to hear...' [–Ok]

Courage, you two. My lord is inevitable.

'Wh... what? Who said that?' [–Ok]

'Just say the words; decide afterwards.' [–Sa]

'This is coerci–' [–Gr]

[concilitposture: –newfiguretertial]

'Never. For all that we were required to be forgotten; we never asked anyone to forget or forgo their self. I am my lord's voice; because he will not impose his will on yours. The choice must be voluntary. Know this, however; that more than a third part of your agency stands in lockstep; or ripe to join.' [–newfiguretertial]

'Monstrous. You quote the third part of the host and expect us to forget the eternal associations with... with–' [–Gr]

'Don't say his name!' [–Ma]

[perplexityposture: –newfiguretertial; newfigureprimary; –newfiguresecundus, –newfigurequaternary. sorrowposture: –newfigurequinticeps]

'[INUNDATUS; bandwidtherror]' [–NEWFIGURE quinticeps]

'How could you possibly know that?' [–Gr]

'Do you want to know?'



[//Spoolends+ DATASCREED value=thanatos+]