- Plane Weaver
An arrest warrant has been filed against Chosen Amiram Kydar of the Shroud for heresy and a proven desire to instill heretical beliefs in others. Due to the unknown methods used by Kydar to corrupt his fellow Citizens and trouble ascertaining who has already been influenced, the Bureaucracy is reluctant to send their own into the Shroud Sanctum to fulfill the warrant.
Contact has therefore been made with citizens that the Bureaucracy has deemed suitable for this mission. Few details have been provided, but it has been made clear that this is a matter of great importance, and that interested parties should present themselves at the Laceleaf Inn on the outskirts of the Barrens and ask for ‘Steward Halwich’.
Discretion will be essential. This cannot be overstated.
Knives is privately briefed by a representative of the Imperial Bureaucracy, who is aware that she may have some interest in the murder of a Shroud Paladin named Darius. Knives confirms this and an arrangement is made.
Knives then meets with Carmen and Rosaria at the Laceleaf Inn, where they are ushered into a back room and addressed by an Inquisitor. After swearing Carmen and Rosaria to secrecy, the Inquisitor informs the party that they are about to be sent into the Shroud Sanctum to arrest a heretic by the name of Chosen Amiram Kydar. The nature of his heresy cannot be disclosed, but he is apparently immensely dangerous and has extended his influence to other Orders. The party is given a warrant to assist with this mission, and is directed to a nondescript alleyway with the warning that they will need to keep their wits about them if they are to successfully navigate the Sanctum.
Upon reaching the alleyway, the party are distracted by a crying child who wails that they have lost their mother. Knives escorts the crying child to safety, answering Rosaria's calls for her to return with the assertion that since she doesn't know for certain whether the child is real or not, she cannot leave them alone. Eventually Knives pays some Barrens youths to return the child to their home, only to find an identical crying child in the alleyway as she rejoins the rest of the party. Rosaria performs a ritual which guides her to a path that had previously eluded them, and the party push through the layers of deception into the Sanctum.
As they navigate a warren of dark, branching paths, they feel the presence of an unseen entity with whom they briefly communicate. Carmen asks the Magos for its opinion and concludes that while the Shroud may be incapable of change, its Sanctum may not necessarily follow the same rules.The party then reach a common room in which three individuals are resting. The party present the warrant for Kydar's arrest and a Paladin suggests that they ask the others in the room what they know… before taking advantage of the backs turned to him and running into the shadows. While the party chase the Paladin with no success, one of the two others in the room also vanishes, leaving only one individual in sight.
It becomes clear that the remaining Paladin is familiar with Darius but unwilling to give him up to the party - but with a curse of slow, agonising death applied by Carmen, her tongue loosens somewhat. She offers the party directions to one of Darius's offices in exchange for the promise of having the curse lifted once they've found him - a deal which Carmen accepts. The party leave the Paladin behind and follow her directions, eventually reaching a room where a man is sitting with his back turned to the door.
Knives' weapons meet thin air as she attempts to stab the all-too-familiar man: Darius, her father. An identical man then enters the room, dismissing the facsimile with a wave of his hand. Darius greets Knives as “Minerva” and questions why she thought she ever had the upper hand - it appears that the directions given by the Magos-cursed Paladin were a trap. He orders his guards to kill Carmen and Rosaria but to leave Knives alive, before vanishing into the shadows as he backstabs one of his own allies. The party successfully take down the guards who appear to fall into one of two roles: Mentors who issue orders, and Children who follow those orders.
Rosaria fogs the memories of most of the fallen Mentors, and Knives speaks to one of the Children who happens to be familiar to her. The Child is reluctant to leave the Sanctum and insists that their place is here where they can be faithful and loyal, but Knives eventually convinces them to run away. Meanwhile, Rosaria and Carmen speak to a fleeing and injured Mentor, who insists that they're not like Darius and that they're merely involved with his “project” out of curiosity.
Shadows then begin to creep across the floor towards the body of a recently deceased Child, and the party suddenly find themselves in a distorted memory. After filling the gaps in the memory and uncovering a certain mantra - “I choose faith; I choose loyalty.” - the party manage to progress through this space to a clearer scene in which several Children are being made to fight each other in order to “prove their loyalty” as Darius watches on. This appears to be the nature of Project Loyalty, an experiment that Knives herself was part of in her youth. Rosaria erodes a wounded Child's attachment to this memory, allowing them to fade peacefully, while Knives threatens a vision of her father. As the last Child falls and the memory comes to an end, the party speak once again to the unseen entity, now believed to be the Shroud.
Moving onwards through the Sanctum, the party run into a group of Paladins who, thanks to the Paladin who fled from the common room earlier, are aware that they're here to arrest Amiram Kydar. They reveal their allegiance to Amiram and speak favourably of his character, insisting that they simply want to follow their beliefs without interruption. Upon learning what Kydar's heresy is (that all Muses are in fact the Shroud in various disguises), Rosaria and Carmen express that this “isn't actually that bad” and seem content to leave the heretics alone. Knives is naturally more focused on Darius than Kydar, and upon being given directions to his personal rooms by one of the heretics, she also seems content to leave them be, provided they stay out of her way.
Unfortunately, the path to Darius carries some resistance from the Sanctum itself, which seems to have been created to preserve the secrecy of its inhabitants. Knives, Carmen and Rosaria speak individually with incomplete aspects of the Shroud's opinions regarding this situation. Knives speaks to an aspect which is remorseful for all that she has suffered in the name of the Shroud, but which suspects that killing Darius won't be enough vengeance for her. Carmen speaks to an aspect which is wary of her dealings with the Magos and the potential threats that she as an aspect of the Magos poses to the City. Rosaria speaks to a part of the Shroud that regrets losing her as a Paladin and seeks to understand how she was failed.
With personal conversations done and feelings about the Shroud sort of resolved, the party push through the final barrier and enter the quarters used for Project Loyalty. They witness a Child being ordered to kill an injured man - the Child's Mentor claims that this man is a threat to the City, though they don't explain why. The party intervene before the Child can strike, knocking out the Mentor and stabilising the prisoner. The Child is deeply suspicious when offered freedom - they repeat that they choose loyalty, becoming increasingly paranoid as they question whether this is some kind of test - but Knives eventually convinces them to run for freedom.
Finally, the party reunite with Darius. Once again, he flees into the shadows, but not before Knives performs an Embrace to inflict agonising pain upon him. After dealing with the Mentors in this wing, Rosaria plunges part of the Sanctum into Erosion, while Carmen gifts an adjacent section to the Magos before the party enters Darius's room. In this sinking, ever-changing domain, butterflies and skeletons manifest, much to Darius's horror. He defends himself from Knives to the best of his ability, no longer able to escape through the shadows of his allies, until it becomes clear to him that he no longer holds any power over her. Backing away and calling on the Shroud to protect him, he eventually falls - and while some part of the Shroud does appear to manifest, the shadowy form merely moves Darius's sword out of reach as Knives advances, extracts an apology, and then kills him. Knives cuts an arm from his corpse.
The walls then seem to close in and the Shroud manifests. Carmen and Rosaria attempt to justify the decision to perform a series of Assumptions in the Sanctum, but the Shroud appears unimpressed. A fight ultimately breaks out and Knives opens a tear in reality to offer an escape route… which the Shroud immediately takes. Battling their way out of the Sanctum and grappling with the revelation that the Shroud may have left reality altogether, the party step into the alleyway once again, finding that for now, the world is temporarily silent to them.
Carmen reconnects with some allies from the Cult of the Mystikos and suggests establishing a Cult of the Magos with her at the head. She then speaks to the Magos, who is pleased with the changes she made to part of the Shroud Sanctum. Meanwhile, Rosaria uses her contacts in the Order of the Shroud to confirm that the Order has been flung into absolute chaos in the wake of the Shroud's disappearance. Rosaria and Carmen meet to discuss Ascension, the Magos, and the Shroud. They also attempt to contact Knives via a Connection ritual.
Rosaria then speaks to Magister Audata about ghosts, performs a ritual in an attempt to contact the Fisher, and gains an impression of how she would go about making contact with the remaining aspects of the Fisher.
Meanwhile, Knives has been underground in the sewers. She opens another tear in reality in an attempt to allow the Shroud passage back, but this does not appear to be successful. It seems that the Shroud is content to stay where it is for the moment. Knives then visits the pub and fighting ring where she sent one of the rescued Children of Loyalty. She finds the Child skulking in a corner and slowly builds some trust with them, eventually encouraging them to watch her in the fighting pit. After a few days, she finds that the Child seems more comfortable around her and occasionally takes her invitation to stay with her in the sewers.