"Living amidst the bones of those he slew for human skin to make parchment, he screamed at the sight of us. The sorcerer called upon daemons, but my hellgun burned bright lines through his wretched form. However, warp–light bloomed and daemonic assessors of the Black Tontine stepped forth even as the sorcerer fell dying. Their very presence drove needles into our minds, and the warp–shimmer beyond them cast the light of madness."
–From the journals of Inquisitor Felroth Gelt 3.988.781.M41
A tontine is a compact of mutual support signed by guild members or brotherhoods. As the pledged die, funds are paid out to the survivors. For the most part, tontines are a tradition of the poor: hive manufactory workers making their marks with bloodied fingerprints. Some pledge what little they have into the hands of usurers and merchant guilders at the signing ceremony; the value of the compact is repaid in the years ahead, one death at a time. Others pledge division of their paltry possessions to compact–brethren upon death.
Black Tontines are the mockery of the Ruinous Powers cast upon this tradition. They are murderous compacts scribed in filth upon human skin, made by the ignorant with daemons for the betterment of sorcerers, their payment counted in souls. In place of Administratum clerks and stacked Thrones, daemonic assessors manifest to bestow powers of the warp upon the compact’s authors.
The notorious Black Tontine of the Salsurius Glass Manufactory of outer Tarsus was signed by thousands of heat zone habdwellers in the 5th century M41. Daemonic assessors manifested each day to drag away one screaming soul, payment for the potency of an inner circle of the Glassmaker’s Guild. The heretic sorcerers bestowed a few Thrones upon the brother workers of each victim, as though factors for the warp.
A daemon sent to assess a Black Tontine manifests as a dire man–shaped being, its abhorrent true form shadowed beneath a stinking cloak. Its twisted hands bear a great gaff–hook with which to drag victims bodily into the warp. That implement is little needed, for the daemon’s gaze and bubbling voice is enough to crush the mind and compel its victims to their deaths.
Daemonic assessors also manifest to defend a compact threatened by the righteous. Attacks upon many signees or the sorcerers who created the tontine will bring forth the vengeance of the warp in this way. If the tontine bears additional terms, forcing signees or sorcerers to break those terms also invites the assessors’ wrath. Assessors can be debated---in lawyerly High Gothic---by the foolhardy in search of loopholes, but this can only buy time. Success or failure has much the same result, with the only difference being the anger of the assessor when it slaughters one foolish enough to act as a proctor to daemons.
In 781.M41, Inquisitor Felroth Gelt purged a coven of daemonic assessors and the sorcerer who was forging the black tontines upon the world of Merov. There he took Pater Bors Vazliov, the one whose flock had fallen to the sorcerer's ambitions, into his retinue.
Upon Malfi, tontine compacts of illuminated beauty are an affectation of wealthy guilders, noble scions, and those pretending to such high status. Servitor–skulls bearing tontine documents in dangling silver frames and stasis fields orbit preening figures of note wherever they go. Recently, an ambitious sorcerer has come to Malfi clothed as a holy servant of the Emperor, bearing tontines inked upon Holy Terra and said to bring fortune to the deserving. The credulous and greedy are drawn in to their eternal damnation. But this has not escaped the attention of the Ordo Malleus.