“THE RED GOD WAKES.”
—Found writ in blood at the home of sub-prefect Boaz Chaim, who remains missing along with the severed heads of his family members
The story of the Murder Room is a myth whispered by murderers and madmen to each other in the long emptiness of the night. Certainly few outside of the most forlorn halls of the sanatoria or the blackest depths of the Arbites’ death cells have even heard of it. The Inquisition, however, has come to the dread suspicion that the story is no mere dusk dream or feverish imaginings of the damned. It believes that at the core of this story--repeated with alarming consistency on worlds whole sub-sectors apart---lies the dark truth that the Murder Room is quite real, and its bloody legacy a thing spawned in the foulest depths of the warp.
The Red TaleEdit
The stories speak of a terrifying and secret place, a room drenched in the blood of countless victims, a place where a thousand screams linger and the air is heavy with the scent of acrid copper and as sharp as a razor’s kiss. It is said that every room there has ever been where blood has drenched the walls, every home whose safety was shattered by terror in the night, or defiled by murder from within---all are caught forever, remembered in this one red room, the Murder Room. It is a place built from betrayal and malice, fed by blood and death, furnished by unreasoning slaughter, and echoing with the unheeded pleas of the lost. More terrible yet, this Murder Room lives, it thirsts, and it waits.
Open a door, any door, and you might find yourself in the Murder Room. The tale says it does not matter where. Open any door and you might set your foot in a room that should not be there, a room with red-soaked walls and the reek of the charnel house. No sooner will you have stepped within, the door will close behind you with the finality of a tomb-lid slamming shut.
The lowly grey scribe who meekly attends his workstation each day but whose home is filled with the bloody trophies he has taken from his secret victims, the loving family man that returns home to his hab as he has a thousand times before, only to slaughter those that wait for him with open arms, the killers the enforcers can’t catch, that seem to simply vanish into thin air, perhaps one day they opened a familiar door and found themselves lost. When something walked out again from that very same door, it may have looked the same, but beneath the skin was unholy murder, dying of a bloody thirst it could never quench---or so the storytellers claim.
The Evidence Edit
It is the business of whole divisions of Ordos savants and adepts to collect and shift data. They consider and collate reports on everything from the political maneuverings of the great houses on Malfi and the price of the season’s grain from Regulus, to scattered reports of strange phenomena, bizarre murders, lost or overdue vessels in the warp, and countless other factors. It is from the study and assessment of such data that many Inquisitorial investigations first originate, looking into either specific incidents which display signs of special note or evidence of some troubling pattern that deserves more direct attention.
Approximately 11 years ago, a pattern began to emerge concerning numbers of previously unconnected and often seemingly motiveless serial murders, spree killings, and massacres on dozens of worlds. Commonalities of victim, the details of the suspected perpetrator, the method of murder, and often the simple savagery of the killings themselves were striking. In many cases, the murders sowed fear and terror in areas usually all but untouched by such horrors, and the killers (or suspected killers) had often led blameless, uneventful pasts before their murders began. Most telling was that on investigation, the killers often evidenced a period of disappearance or “dead time” in the record of their whereabouts before the killings started. Rarely were the killers in these cases apprehended and never were they caught alive. Most, after a protracted bout of killing, would simply seem to disappear without a trace, leaving authorities baffled and a bloody legend in their wake.
Some within the Inquisition saw the pattern as too defuse, too spurious. They suspected it to be a “false-positive,” a phantom thrown up by the idiosyncrasies of the lexmechanics’ cogitator engines. Inquisitor Hydris Bloch, however, was of a different mind. Not aligned to any single Ordo, Bloch was a wanderer who operated largely outside of the Conclave’s control, and was considered something of a Radical by some.
He and his network of Acolytes made the killings their primary investigation and for several years journeyed to worlds prominently featured in the pattern data, building a huge catalogue of fragmentary and circumstantial evidence. For the first time, they linked the “Murder Room” myth to the matter. Frustrated by the lack of hard fact, when a report reached Bloch of a spate of murders in progress that fit the Murder Room pattern perfectly, he dropped his painstaking investigations and made all speed to the impoverished and ill-famed world of Sinophia. In the city of Harrow Ridge, he made a decision that would later prove to cost him dearly.
The Harrow Ridge Massacre Edit
The city of Harrow Ridge was, in truth, little more than a large, ramshackle settlement housing no more than a few thousand inhabitants. It had grown up over the decades from a cluster of mining camps in one of the more desolate corners of Sinophia---a world long renowned for its moral and physical decay. A rough and lawless place, Harrow Ridge had long been accustomed to casual violence and the rule of the gun, but was now gripped by a far worse terror.
A murderer was stalking its alleyways, shanties, and tenements, and whole families were being butchered in their homes behind locked doors. Savagely mutilated corpses were turning up on a near daily basis and no one was safe. Crackdowns by the local regulators, lynchings, mob justice, mass-shriving---nothing had stopped the killings, and the uncaring and distant planetary authorities blithely ignored requests for aid.
When Bloch and his Acolytes arrived, they found a virtual ghost town paralyzed by fear, hundreds having fled or barricaded themselves in their homes. As his Acolytes fanned out through the city, they quickly found evidence of warp-tainted radiations and an unholy hand behind the murders. They returned to collate the findings only to be shocked by the discovery of their master savagely murdered in his own lodging chambers.
Bloch’s Acolytes did not succumb to despair, however, but kept their master’s demise secret lest panic should spread. One, the adept Septimus Golgol, took charge. Sifting through the evidence, he traced the epicenter of the killings and the warp disturbances to the house of a man named Edmund Flinders. An undistinguished mineral assayer, Flinders was a quiet family man whose absence had gone unnoticed in the chaos. However, he had gone missing for several days in the weeks prior to the slaughter. The record of what was found when they confronted Flinders was sealed by order of Inquisitor Harkness of the Ordo Malleus, but it is known that Golgol alone survived the experience and no further murders took place in Harrow Ridge.
Golgol’s Obsession Edit
During the six years since the Harrow Ridge incident, former Acolyte Golgol was elevated to the rank of Inquisitor within the Ordo Malleus by the enigmatic and infamous Inquisitor Harkness to lead the tattered remnants of Bloch’s former network. This move has not proved popular with the wider Ordos, and the obsessed Golgol has few friends or supporters. He continues to slavishly pursue his late master’s work under Harkness’s direction, reporting his findings regularly to the Conclave.
He believes he has identified over 150 incidents stretching back more than 30 years that he blames on the “Murder Room.” Some cast doubt on his findings and indeed his sanity. Others whisper behind closed doors that Harkness is merely using Golgol as a disposable tool to root out the truth, claiming that Golgol has neither the experience nor the stability to wield the Inquisitor’s Rosette.
Recently, Golgol has believes that he has finally tracked down the source of the enigmatic Murder Room. A mysterious pattern of killings upon Fenksworld is leading up to some great event, an outcome Golgol believes involves summoning one of the most powerful servants of the Blood God.
Inquisitorial Threat Briefing Edit
Although the Bloch-Golgol theories of the Murder Room are widely known within the Ordo Malleus, they are greeted with widely differing levels of credence, ranging from cautious consideration to outright disdain by some. The theories are not widely circulated outside the Ordo, save for those with a penchant for occult murder plots and intra-Inquisition scandal. As a result, the Inquisition has no avowed position on this threat or even its definite existence. Most wait to be convinced.
The True Nature of the Murder Room Edit
Just what dark truth lies behind the Murder Room and killings that surround it is up to the GM, but the following section posits three different takes on just what the monstrous secret could be. Of course some combination of all three (or more) is entirely possible.
With a Bloody Right Hand: Cults of Murder
Though the Ruinous Power known as Khorne, the Blood God, is primarily considered to be a deity of battle and rage, some also see the Skull Lord as a patron and embodiment of violent death and murder in all of its forms---from the spilling of blood to the screams of the dying. Cults devoted to such a vile being are rare but not unknown. They tend to be composed of isolated groups of deranged killers, lone butchers, and, more rarely, organized societies devolved from Imperial death cults or assassin brotherhoods.
Such groups might have begun killing for profit or cause but have succumbed over time to madness, sadistic brutality, and the addiction of dealing death for its own sake. The Murder Room could be a front for such a cult, or perhaps a true phenomenon summoned by them by the very act of ritual murder itself. It could be an altar of blood, half within reality and half within the warp, a borderland for fitting sacrifices to the Throne of Skulls, its victims chosen at random or by some esoteric selection process impenetrable to a sane mind.
Echoes of Agony: Tormented Space
There are places where the barrier between corporeal reality and the warp wear thin. Some of these weakened veils exist for no known reason save perhaps for ancient accident or mischance of location, whilst others are places where sorcerous rituals have been worked or terrible atrocities committed. The aftershocks of such incidents echo in the warp, and if, by a quirk of cosmology or chance they become trapped in the weave of things, their violence and anger can be reflected and amplified back on themselves endlessly to create a Murder Room.
Like a supernatural trap waiting in the skein of reality for the unwary to trigger it, there need not be any malign intelligence to such a “fold” of tormented space for it to be fatal to the sanity of those that encounter it. Such a frozen moment of horror, caught forever in time, would be a dangerous labyrinth to become trapped within---its reality shaped only by suffering, grief, and pain. Such a dangerous wound in the universe would be difficult, but not impossible, for a servant of the Inquisition to battle and unmake.
The Wake of the Red God: Daemons of Blood
There could of course be far darker things at work than mere human evil or twisted ruptures in the fabric of reality. There may be a daemonic intelligence, thirsting for blood, at the center of the Murder Room. If this is the case, then stepping across the threshold to the Murder Room is crossing into hell in a literal sense---it is travelling into a sinkhole of murder immemorial and becoming the plaything of the bloody denizens that dwell in this red abyss. What returns from such a fate will no longer be human. It will either be corrupted beyond reason, fused with utter wickedness, or no less than a daemon wearing the mask of earthly flesh. The servants of the Red God will walk the world with the sole purpose to do murder, but particular piquancy will be had by the Red God from the deaths of the innocent and the betrayed, as it revels in the terror left in their wake.