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Curse of Solomon

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"You do not understand! If we do not sate its hunger it will come for us and our children! There is no other way..."
— The Statement of Corrin Ur, Shift Foreman, Chemstack Nineteen Lambda

Solomon is a blighted, slowly dying, and heavily industrialised Hive World where rebellion, superstition, and hate fester in the shadowed canyons of rockcrete and steel. Its hives are pollution-shrouded places plagued by suspicion, greed, and unrest. Between the towering monolithic citadels of Solomon's hive metropolises, thousands of square kilometres of rusting pipelines, thundering processing vats, and fire-belching pyro-towers cover the landscape and darken the skies with a thick haze of black smog. In the lightless spaces of these Interior Industrial Zones, or simply the "Interior" as the Solomonites call them, many terrors are said to haunt unseen. Of these tales, the dark legend of the so-called "Curse" or "Beast of Solomon" is perhaps one of the oldest, most consistent, and most widely recounted. It is passed from generation to generation among the unfortunates forced to dwell in the work-houses and labour in the depths of Solomon's Interior. It is a myth of some monstrous alien thing that stalks the darkness seeking only to kill, a shadow within shadows, and of good men taken without warning to gristly deaths with only bloody shreds left to mark their passing.

The Beast is an envoy of merciless death made manifest and a horror never fully seen—a thing lurking at the edge of the terrified minds of the populace. Yet the Beast is no mere tale, but an ingrained fear that alone is powerful enough to move ordinary men and women to commit horrors in its name. Worse yet, the monster itself may be far more real and dangerous than the most febrile imaginings of those bound by its terrors can conceive.

The Darkness's DueEdit

Down in the lightless pathways beneath still-stacks of the Interior, in the pollution choked chem-spoils and rust barrens where people labour to eke out a living by the light of guttering promethium wicks, fear has an unfettered reign, and chief among these is the fear of the Beast. A mind and heart consumed by terror can contemplate any act to gain a moment's respite, and amongst these dwellers in the dark a horrific tradition has grown. These people have been consumed by their fear of the Beast. They have no self-given name, no title, and no organisation. They are simply victims who have succumbed completely to their terror of what lies in the dark. They are united by a single factor—their wish to placate and propitiate the Beast, to preserve themselves by giving the Beast its due, even sacrificing their own in desperate, appeasing worship of this emissary of death. Those not living their brief years cursed with poverty, disease, and fear in Solomon's darkest places cannot understand the fear of knowing that the darkness is watching you and may take you if it pleases. Accordingly, most who make sacrifice to the Beast are ordinary industrial labourers and families who are forced to live in the areas of the Interior where tales of the Beast are strongest. These stories are often backed up with slews of disappearances, the discovery of bloody remains, and sightings of monstrous things stalking the shadows.

To understand those who sacrifice to the Beast, it is important to understand how these bitter and fearful people live. Buried far way from light and wind in the depths of Solomon's Interior, these "zoners" labour by promethium lamps, drink water thick with pollutants that seep from the still-stacks, and know that they are born and will die at the whim of greater forces—be it the slow death sentence passed by the Imperium's thirst for the product of their toil or the Beast that stalks their dark world. The poisoning of Solomon by its own industries has brought other miseries that those forced to inhabit the Interior bear the brunt of—successful births are rare, and with each successive generation, a greater percentage of those born live only a few months or are touched by mutation. Those who sacrifice to the Beast believe that their only chance to affect their fate is to appease at least one of the forces that prey on them.

The Ritual of SacrificeEdit

"Payment in blood and bone is the only coin the Beast will accept. We must offer one of our own if the rest are to survive. Now, we shall draw lots, and he with the black stone must comment his soul to the Emperor."
— Anonymous Solomonite citizen

Around the areas considered to be the Beast's hunting grounds, even those who do not seek to placate the Curse with sacrifice know of the practice and keep their mouths firmly shut on the matter to outsiders. Thus they are to some degree complicit. Though some may believe firmly in the God-Emperor, they also know that they are accursed and that they must offer sacrifice to appease the Curse. Those sacrificed are often outsiders who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, so it is that offerings tend to be roving scum, minor officials, and those unfortunates who have been forcibly "relocated" to the Interior to keep up the work quotas. It may even be the case, where fear of the Beast has grown so strong that an entire community has fallen into sacrifice, that the community's leaders may lure outsiders into their deadly web so that they can be offered to the "Beast in the Dark." However, given the danger this posses, the situation will be desperate indeed for this to occur. In other cases, sacrifices will be taken from amongst the local populace, the victims being selected by lottery or some other dubious means of divination. At the agreed time, the bound victim is taken by a throng bearing bright torches to keep the Beast and the dark away, their faces hidden by crude (yet sometimes elaborate) cloth masks. In a place where the tangle of pipes is thickest, the sacrifice is chained and left in complete darkness to await his fate.

Inquisitorial Threat BriefingEdit

The Ordo Xenos has been long aware of the myth of "the Curse" but has long relegated it to the mass of other petty myths and horror stories that abound on Solomon, as on many other worlds. The Ordo reasons such stories are a simple, natural response to the frailty of life and harsh conditions there. Received wisdom points to the myth's widespread nature as evidence that it is likely a mere convenient scapegoat, as a single Beast could not be everywhere at once and a whole genus of such creatures would have made themselves apparent some time ago. They do not, however, dismiss the possibility of one or more rogue xenos predators' actions or even a localised daemonic incursion being blamed on the Curse, or even some heretical faction using the myth for its own ends. Some factions within the Ordo Xenos are not so sure, however, believing that there is more than meets the eye in these "folk tales." Perhaps there is enough to warrant further investigation.

The Nature of the BeastEdit

Nobody really knows what the Beast is. To the spire Nobles and guildmasters, it is a childish fable. The Administratum scribes and hab residents know it as a chilling ghost story, or a parable of how terrible life is in the Interior. But to those doomed to live in the Interior Zones, it is very real, and very deadly. Those scholars and Adepts of the Holy Ordos who have taken time to study the stories of the "Beast in the Dark" have come up with several possibilities. However, until dedicated teams of investigators can be dispatched to Solomon to uncover the truth, these will remain only theories. The truth could be any or all of these possibilities, or perhaps something else entirely.

The Beast is This PlaceEdit

The most popular theory amongst the Ordo Calixis, (especially with those adepts who have never had the misfortune of visiting Solomon) is that the Beast does not exist in any literal sense. It is rather a figment of the imaginations of the ignorant and superstitious lower classes on Solomon invented to explain the bleak hopeless nature of the lives they lead. A mythical "Beast" lets these people blame their troubles on something they can regard as concrete and tangible. More importantly, their belief in a literal Beast gives them the misplaced hope that they save themselves through the act of sacrificing. A small subset of researchers have suggested that although the stories of the Beast may be myths, something more than the polluted environment and harsh conditions is responsible for hunting those who live in Solomon's Interior. They theorise that some arcane or even xenos mechanism from the ancient past may be responsible. Those theories are roundly ignored in the Ordo Calixis.

However, if either case is true, then the Beast cannot be appeased, hunted, or stopped. It would likely be a self-perpetuating fear caused by the blight and slow death of this world. Alternatively, the Beast may be some strange, unknown, external force—all around and possessing reasons and purposes either too inhuman to comprehend or too mechanistic to placate. It takes people in the dark, and as long as people are there, they will disappear. As for those sacrificed to the Beast, some may be taken but most likely starve to death or are eaten by rats. No matter how they end, their deaths are futile attempts to control something that does not understand the gifts or wishes of men.

Existential EnemiesEdit

More exotic theories as to the cause of the "Curse" include an ancient alien device buried beneath the surface that consumes life energy or an ancient system from the Dark Age of Technology that eliminates living things according to some inexplicable programmed parameter, its victims rendered down by blade-fingered servitors or swarms of brass-cased insects. It could also be some property of the materials used to build part of the foundations of that part of Solomon's industrial complex, causing people to slip out of reality and into the Warp. It could even be the work of some ancient creature or xenos species that predates human involvement on Solomon, acting to preserve its secret existence.

The Beast Is ManEdit

When people fear the unknown, they may talk of Beasts that lurk in the dark and of fiends with sharp teeth that thirst for flesh. These tales, though, are the products of wishful ignorance -- Man is the worst Beast that lurks in the darkness of Solomon. Several Inquisitors whose minds tend to think in such terms privately suspect that someone is using and propagating the stories of the Beast for his own purposes. After all, the population that lives in the depths of the Solomon industrial complexes are a hidden, blighted people who will not be missed and are perfect cattle for others who need a regular supply of humans for some vile purpose. While the terrified dwellers gather around their chem-lamps and whisper about the Beast, others watch them unseen, waiting for one to stray into an isolated spot so that the others can do what they wish. To these quiet watchers, the whimpering offerings left in dark places are amusing and readily accepted gifts that do not dissuade them from their purpose.

Potentially Monstrous PeopleEdit

Both the Amaranthine Syndicate and the Brotherhood of the Horned Darkness represent active cults on Solomon whose activities may inspire the legends of a Beast, just as they have inspired different tales in other parts of Solomon. A murder cult amongst the elite of Solomon could also be to blame, as could the needs of a hidden xenophile or heretek cabal that requires a continuous supply of human subjects.

The Beast is Real Edit

While not a common theory, a vocal minority of Inquistiorial scholars contends that the Beast actually exists as some sort of creature. Why, in a galaxy full of strange and terrible things, could there not be some sort of creature living in the depths of Solomon, preying on the population there? If this is true, then the frightening legends from Solomon's Interior describing the Beast cannot be dismissed out of hand. Those who dwell in the dark places of Solomon tell of a crawling nightmare and the silent scythe of death. Gorged on rumour, fear, and superstition, the Beast has as many forms as the people who tell of it, yet all speak of the thing in the dark that comes and snatches away the living without a sound. If the Beast is real, then it is a savage and unknown alien predator as dangerous as any anything that might be confronted in the depths of the void. One such example creature is detailed at the end of this section.

Killing the BeastEdit

If the Beast is real, then killing it will not be easy. The stories describe it as a vicious and highly effective predator and an extraordinarily powerful creature, well-adapted to the cramped and dark conditions in Solomon's industrial complexes. It is also likely to know its environment better than any man could. It will retreat if attacked openly and then return to pick off an individual before disappearing again. Combined with the fact that it is a fearsome combatant, the only way to kill it is with extremely good fortune or an even better plan.

The Beast of SolomonEdit

The Beast is believed to be a hideous xenos predator stalking Solomon's industrial wastes. A huge creature, part serpentine and part insectile in outline and wholly, utterly alien, this nightmare made flesh can wait with inhuman patience amongst the bleeding fumes of the still-stacks and chem-refineries for its prey. Blind, it is able to sense the slightest vibration in the air and track the smallest trace of scent. It can stalk its prey for hours before striking, its mottled carapace shifting colour to match its environment. Targeting lone victims or small isolated groups, it kills as if its deep-bred instincts know that it must remain hidden. Once ready it uncoils, its taloned limbs propelling it swiftly forward with no more sound than the wind. Victims may catch a glimpse of its many rows of needle sharp teeth and may even manage to let out a short cry before they are cruelly silenced, to be remembered only as part of another whispered tale.

SourceEdit

  • Dark Heresy: Disciples of the Dark Gods (RPG), pp. 104-107

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