+ Coürt of the Sunñe Cyng +


+ The abstract +

+ The Court of the Sun King project is set on a backwater world called Cepheus [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]. The story revolves around the clandestine investigation of Childeric – the pseudonym of Inquisitor Unfortunus Veck – who arrived on the planet shortly before the sole starport was cut off. He is thus left to his (not-inconsiderable) initiative to gather information on just who the Sun King is – and what he is intending to do... +

The Hangman's Rope; Childeric's sometime allies and companions.

+ The invitation +

+ When I first started this project – back in the murky depths of 2013 – I envisaged the setting as a fairly enclosed space for my explorations; but it turns out even a backwater planet is a big place:
Cepheus is a cold feral world, remarkable for little except the unusual devotional artworks of the populace worked on sheets of shaved ivory from Cephean sea-leviathans. 
The Book of Kills is a beautifully illuminated book on parchment, produced by the Waymen of Czame, a group of monks native to the planet. The Book is known and admired throughout the sector, and many well-to-do aristocrats marvel at the intricacies the unenhanced monks were able to achieve.
The Adeptus Ministorum regard this as a place of pilgrimage and penitence, and the Sororitas Order of the Enclosure maintains a disproportionally large standing vigil force on the moon of Abraxas.
+ I've managed to develop and flesh the place out a little, but I'm never going to have the time to populate and develop the City, let alone the world. +

+ While I focus on the story arc of the Sun King, I'd like to throw open the rest of the planet and invite you, intrepid modeller, to explore the cold, barren planet of Cepheus with me, adding your touch to the canvas to help develop it into a living, breathing world. +

+ The only thing I ask is that you share your models and colour text – either by reply here, or (even better) on Facebook at the Inquisitorium [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]. +


+ Håil and Well-çome to the Soille of Cëpheus +

I'd like to emphasise that there are no limits on what you make – part of the fun of the Inquisimunda/Inq28 scene is the sheer creativity and freedom of the group – but I also understand the value of a frame as a starting point; please take the thoughts below in that spirit and have fun. +


+ Cepheus is a closed, cold and inward-looking feral world, with just one large conurbation, the City, which contains the only spaceport – currently barred. Never high-tech, Cepheus has endured a slow descent into its current state as a cold, thinly-populated planet that supports a population just scraping by. The population is, for the most part, suspicious, inward-looking and reactionary – a frightened obedience to a distant, uncaring Emperor holds sway over the planet. +

+ Technology is rare, primitive and held in suspicion. Horses and palanquins are common; but powered vehicles are (usually, at least) reserved for the Wellborne. A well-funded regiment might be able to arm its officers with an antique las-lock, for example; but even the tiny Mechanicus presence on the planet finds it easier to 'shovel on more slaves' than maintain augmented servitors or bionics. I'd suggest, therefore, that this is an opportunity to indulge your lower-tech ideas. +

+ Quiet, obedient and largely incapable of disturbing the broader galaxy, the population is of little interest to the rest of the Imperium; and (as far as we're aware, at least) Unfortunus Veck is thus the only Inquisitor on the planet – it's lucky even he was able to get planetside before the shuttle-dock closed. +

+ However, bear in mind the key idea that everything you have been told is a lie... perhaps there's a hidden enclave of gold-encrusted hyper-dimensional starships somewhere: it's a big planet, and plenty of places to hide! In addition, if you do have a great idea for a high-tech 'thing' that you want to explore, then the Moon of Abraxas is a stage set just for you – the moon is where traffic from the broader Imperium stops, in order to avoid culture shock. As a result, the place is far more 'up-to-date', and you might see everything from Rogue Traders to abhumans from across the broader sector; even the occasional xenos. +


+ Thincingge-kîn, Stârting Poiñttes and A Rare Few Idyeâs +

+ The colour text above, and in the main blog [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+], might give you somewhere to start, while the bullets below list a few groups that might spark your imagination. +

+ Again, remember that it's a big world; most of the list below are simply groups known to Unfortunus Veck, who's mostly been in and around the City – there might be entire continents and cultures of which he's unaware. +

+ Denizens of the City +

  • Well-they-are-borne: The Machiavellian and Lynchian New Aristos that rule the City.
  • Monstrous Regiment: A mob of the frocked and frilled private regiments that are fighting over the City.
  • Nicctwacce: The hooded Night Watch.
  • Niggardly Guttermen: Particularly egregious denizens of the City.
  • Palatialles: A palace requires a staff. This one has a lot of odd traditions...
  • Aschlings: The book-burners, censors and blank-eyed lunatics that make up those who break curfew.
  • Slummers: The vast majority of dirt-poor Citydwellers, who do everything from leatherwork to embroidery, to cleaning sewers. Everyone has to make a living...

+ Beyond the City +
  • The Waymen of Czame: A scrimshandering religious order.
  • Cottars and Bondagers: Someone has to plant and pull up the scrawny vegetables from the bitter black earth. Cottars are smallholders; Bondagers their slaves or those temporarily in debt.
  • Cea-riggers: The live-in crew of the great wooden sea-rigs.
  • Menacers: Nautical hunters of Sea-Leviathans.
  • Loyals of the Cyng-in-exile: The half-mad deposed king Hamantash still has some allies clinging to romantic ideals, or simply opposed to the Sun King.
  • Pettyleetches: Village headsmen and their groups; combining the roles of elder, judge and – sometimes – shaman.
  • Arpenteurres: Pioneers and mapmakers.
  • The Cold Flattes: Nomadic ogryns of the plains.
  • Annuitants: Petty landowners or slavemasters who are ableto sustain themselves without labouring.
  • Cogmen: Debased rote-slaves of the Mechanicus.
  • Underlings: Miners, borers and uncivil engineers.

+ From beyond the Planet +
  • Order of the Enclosure: The insular Adepta Sororitas of the planet's moon, Abraxas.

+ The Setting +

+ Exercitus and the Port Cassian system +

Ferlinghetti, the underscribe
The planet Exercitus, a civilised world in the system of Port Cassian, in the Hesiod-Siculus subsector, is a towering sprawl of bureacracy, with countless trillions of imprecations, status inloads and papers being filed, triplicated, dispersed and ratified. Billions of desk-slaved indentured servants toil to stem an endless tide of requests; grinding slowly through automated acknowledgements, approvals or denials to urgent imprecations, which turn up years, decades or even generations late. It is just one of a number of planets in the Antona Australis sector whose entire population is turned inward to the harrowing process and storage of records and documents.
Exercitus is a world of pedantry, argument and resignation. An ink-stained army – in ages past, quite literally – of scribes, verbum fabri and scriveners feverishly sift through seas of yellowing papers, flickering dataslates and crackling wax-dripped papers every day, in agonisingly long shifts, in a vain attempt to bring reassuring and unchanging order to the infinite complexity of a subsector. It is a world where men and women die daily through the pressures of overwork, anxiety and datahorror. 

Senior scribes, invested with some authority, rubricists are tasked with that most vital aspect of bureacracy: fact checking and correction. So massive are the backlogs of Exercitus' records that rubricists, eolorem and outmen - along with paleoscribes and archaelogians - are still combing the sector for evidence relating to events as far back as M31, not long after the sector was made Compliant and before the vast majority was officially charted. This Sisyphean task will never be complete, for every year brings an exponential increase in the amount of material being discovered, as well as a near-infinite loss of records and data in the rare but inevitable fires and outloadleaks that spell haemorrhages in spots of humanity's knowledge. 


+ Cepheus and the City +

Cepheus is a very different world from the dirty spires of Exercitus. Equally inhospitable, but through cold and material want. Here, every man can be anonymous, losing himself in the thin winds of the plains, or hiding in the anonymous seas. Cepheus is wild, untamed. Priests and caitiffs rub shoulders with mendicants and those who simply cannot function elsewhere in human society. The world is thinly peopled by hollow-eyed anchorites and hermits who huddle in lost mountain caves and isolated flesh-tents far from others.

The baseline level of Cephean technology is feudal, with most of the populace ill-educated subsistence farmers and fisherfolk. A few millions are spread over the planet, mostly clustering in scattered villages and hamlets with little advanced technology beyond the occasional long-maintained tractor unit, power generator or distance communicator. Despite the paucity of its wealth, the planet is home to a small urban population who live in gas-lit towns, and notably, the capital - known simply - and portentously - simply as the City. A sprawling mass that stretches from horizon to horizon, the wood- and brick-built shanties and halls are built over and on top of previous levels like successive layers of scarring. High towers rise and fall, streets are cleared and repopulated, whole regions are flooded or burned or fall victim to plague... but the City continues. It is home to unknown numbers of inhabitants, but the numbers must be huge. Nevertheless, it is ever-crumbling, with abandoned quarters bricked off, rediscovered and hidden again over decades as the population swells and drifts and dies.

Boba Vlajna, Astropathic conductress
Here can be found a few off-world merchants, drawn here by largely reliable trade agreements or to disseminate treasures from beyond the stars to the capricious though relatively sophisticated aristocracy. Tourism, uncommon through the Imperium, is all but absent here, and the space port is poorly stocked and maintained. The City is nevertheless relatively large, drawing wide-eyed chancers, honest traders - often village headsmen - and dispossessed orphans and ne'er-do-wells alike from across the planet. Inevitably, it also proves a moth-lamp to more than a few wastrels, ne'er-do-wells and cheats.

The tendrils of the criminal underworld runs like a cancer through the City, bringing violence, narcotics, the pamphlets of apocalyptic cults and numerous other ills to the benighted inhabitants. The corrupt and inefficient 'Nichtwacce' serve as local enforcers for the Adeptus Arbites, who are largely content to keep a brooding watch from their Fortress-Precinct, and sally forth only on the rare occasions that civil disobedience threatens the space port – and thus access to the wider Imperium. The City is dim and dirty and corrupt... but exciting. For a populace that grubs a thin living from hostile, salt-rimed soil, the City promises danger and thrills; and ultimately, through the space port, an escape from drudgery for the wild-eyed few who seek a new life beyond anything they know. 


+ Thee Welle-they-are-borne +

Over all of this sit the Welleborn, a privileged Patrician class who vie and scheme with and against one another. Through a process of survival of the fittest, only the most resourceful and dangerous families have survived the millennia of their tenure. Like a pack of well-groomed and pampered wolves, the Welleborn have been whittled down into a relative few sleek, deadly families. These names command respect, allegiance and fear amongst their peons, and their influence stretches across the City and beyond. Tens of centuries of prudence, careful investment and occasional all-out conflict mean that the Welleborn are fabulously wealthy; and work in every possible way to advance themselves. These ways vary from the relatively common – juvenat treatments to extend their lifespans – to esoteric bodily modification to indulge the whims of fashion. All physically and mentally augmented, the Welleborn are terrifying capable – and near alien in intent and capability from the point of view of the general human populace.

The Wellborne may be wolves, but above them all sits the pack Alpha – the Imperial Commander. Planetary governor, limitless tyrant, father to his people, the Sun King of Cepheus. Resting in the hands of hereditary Wellborne dynasties, the Governorship is passed from firstborn to firstborn, changing dynasties only rarely after occasional families collapse. At least, such had been the case for many centuries. The current King's tenure has been short indeed, and the world of the Welleborn is unsettled; for the Sun King is not of this world.

Vanya de la Oawadh: Vidame of Yndbürch. 
Not two years ago, an offworld equerry presented an Imperial Warrant, excommunicating the previous Imperial Commander and devolving power in perpetuity to his master. This was met with understandable, but decorously-hidden shock by the aghast representatives of the Wellborne families – especially those of King Hamantash CIV. The equerry withdrew, and the political world erupted into rumour and planning.

The new Imperial Commander arrived scant days later, having effortlessly brushed aside a number of assassination attempts - for the Wellborne do not take kindly to interlopers, and their web of intrigue spans far beyond the cold sky of Cepheus. Flanked by hulking warriors in humming plate, and surrounded by oddly-hushed and wide-eyed crowds, the stranger marched directly from the starport, before presenting himself, masked and armoured, before the Chamberre Sacrystan, symbol of the Adeptus Ministorum and de facto seat of Cephean and City government. 


+ An Civille Warre +

For the first time in forty Centuries, the Wellborne were presented with a stark and unavoidable choice. Most - after days of frantic secret debate  sided with the new Sun King; and the few supporters of the little-loved Hamantash Dynasty were exiled, executed or driven out into exile. Their vast wealth was confiscated and distributed to the inhabitants of the city in the first of many wily moves by the odd new King. That the Sun King is adored - worshipped - loved by the people of the City is well-known. He has moved the status quo, and things are in flux. Prophets declare him a saviour; a messiah - one who will bring a new life to the world, and tear down old certainties.

Sciriusc, the Sun King
In the months since, a multi-sided war has begun, with the press-ganged followers of the deposed Cyng-in-Exyle, the vengeful machineries of dispossessed or rebellious Wellborne from both outside the City and within, and the coteries of the effulgent New Aristos just a few of the dozens of claimants to power. None - save the half-mad and near-powerless Cyng-in-Exyle – dare openly challenge the seat of the Sun King. He resides in finery in the palace, which remains inviolate. Hosts war at the gates, seeking the teat of the Imperial Commander and the milk of Imperial legitimacy that this promises. Blaring trumpets and gleaming banners borne by rival factions march through the streets and boulevards, declaring their chosen lord legitimate and press-ganging gawping onlookers into their ranks. Crucially, the war has reduced the movement of offworld travellers – always a slow trickle – to near none. Few now come to Cepehus; and fewer still leave.
Between these clashing hosts the outlying slums of the sprawling City burn; and beyond them, the rest of the world. The new Sun King seems content with this turn of events. He sits for days then moves restlessly – always contrary, always unexpectedly. His favour falls on one family, then another. As factions rise and fall, the Sun King's Court swells with capable dignitaries, low-born and aristocrat alike. The City has never seen such a King. It has never seen such a war.

Even while bombardments and sieges continue, the inhabitants of the City need to eat. Many - indeed most  are largely unaffected by the war beyond the hardship and rationing; both of which were harsh but common facts of everyday life before the Sun King arrived. The City was ever dangerous, and while fires and the occasional bombardment of macro-shells may annihilate whole regions, the population emerge and breed and replenish, stoic or resigned to their fates.

If the Sun King himself has motives beyond providing the tithe, none know. On his rare public appearances, he is masked and anonymous, capriciously indulgent but distant. He is surrounded by banners and bunting and bustle wherever he goes. Gold is scattered alongside rose leaves and dream-ribbon. Trumpets, cornets and drums announce his glory and power. His power is limitless, his influence infinite. The people whisper that he speaks to the Emperor himself. The Sun King is like unto a god.

There is but one flaw in to his claim Kingship, one mar in his golden armour.

The Imperium has no knowledge of the Cephean Warrant of Imperial Commandery and Planetary Governance. 

The Warrant is a fake.


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