“Dear diary …”
Been walking for what seems like an eternity through the monotonous and bleak hivescape below Hive City. Dark, cramped tunnels through crushpiles and climbs over rubble-piles of rockcrete are irregularly placed diversions from wading knee deep in a black, sticky ash that seems to cover everything down here.
Had to leave the vehicles behind at Veras Landing, as the quake of 786 left no large access tunnels intact in the entire sector. Would have needed walkers to make any progress in this shit anyway. How can anybody live down here? It’s pitch black, and in the light of our chem-lamps everything is painted sleet grey and filthy. The ash gets everywhere, and regularly clogs up my filtration mask.
Our guides say we should reach Ash Falls tomorrow, but I can’t say I look forward to another night out in the “open” in this shit. Doubt I’ll get any sleep, it’s hard to trust that whoever’s on watch will remember to keep you from being buried alive by ash-drift.
To Glorious Beginnings
The expedition started out well enough, with everyone meeting up without fault at the first of the agreed upon coordinates. Warn had brought a small force with him, consisting of armed men and heavy lifters, all wearing elaborately decorated filtration-masks. In addition, he has brought with him an Adept with extensive knowledge of the histories and myths of the Hive-sector, a Dr. Ionas. Driving in the expeditions Hauler-12, she had been speaking of the legends surrounding Scarlantis and the glories, riches and fame that could be waiting for its (re)discoverers. Spirits were high as the team was reassembled for the first time in many weeks, and Ash Falls was just a short distance away.
That was in the heated and well lit interior of a relatively comfortable vehicle driving on ceracrete roads. Now the constant shuffling in the dirty ash whirling all around is taking its toll. Brutus seems not too bothered by the experience, and he keeps joking and telling stories of his own childhood in a “shithole that makes this place look like a paradise resort for the spire-lords”. His wife seems in high spirits too, obviously used to trekking all day in filth. But for the rest of you, the underhive is already high on the list of places you hate.
Suddenly you can spot flickerings of light ahead, and your guide states: “Ash Falls, my lords”
The settlement is placed between high mountains of rubble and ash dunes, and nests in a somewhat sheltered position. The ash has been cleared from the ground, revealing a somewhat flat and stable surface of compacted rubble and debris that makes a welcome change for tired feet. Small fires light the area between the sheds and shanties surrounding what looks like the top floors of what must have once been tall buildings now reclaimed by the crush. A powerful chem-light illuminates the area in front of one of these buildings, and the unmistakable sound of revelry and merrymaking comes from within. At some 60 metres from the edge of the lit settlement there is a response to your guides constant signalling, and your expedition is suddenly illuminated by spotlights from all directions. One man steps out in front of you, mostly visible as a silhouette in the harsh light behind him. You make out a hooded cloak and the outline of a sheathed sword. After passwords and toll has been presented by your guides, he spreads his arms wide and bids you welcome to Ash Falls.
Once out of the glare of torches and into the lit area of town, you see the man greeting you more clearly. He wears a grey patchwork cloak, and a dirty red mask that covers the top half of his face. He introduces himself as Sott, the chief of this place. You’ve been assigned a building that has been cleared and reassigned for you (at an exorbitant rent paid courtesy of House Greim), and you can find him in the taproom once you’ve settled in.
Ash Falls is not a big place, holding some 100 souls in all if you count the various farms and homesteads in the near vicinity to the town itself. But it is somewhat important as a trade hub due to its position and vicinity of the route up to Hive City. It’s also the home of Spuds Brewery, makers of the fines rotgut ’tween the dunes. You are strongly advised by your guides to never walk alone, and to always have weapons ready at all times.