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"Some will sell their very souls if they receive enough coin. But, to return to the topic at hand, how much were you offering for this delivery?"
— Gholsken Hresk, Sable Trader
The adventure begins in Hive Desoleum, with the Acolytes investigating the scene of a violent altercation at the request of Sanctionary Oath-Captain Kaytian Nils. The scene is marked by several strange factors that led her to reach out to the Acolytes. Confirming the Oath-Captain's fears that something unnatural and heretical is at work, the Acolytes follow the trail of a group of smugglers from the scene and discover that these smugglers are indeed involved with the corrupt xenos artefacts that have been poisoning the hive. These smugglers are in fact not importing them to the city, as others in the Faceless Trade in proscribed items have done, but transporting them off-world. In order to discover the truth, the Acolytes must follow the smugglers onto a ship bound for an unknown destination.
The crime scene that the Acolytes find themselves investigating is the aftermath of a deadly encounter between smugglers of the Trade Sable and cultists of the Callers of Sorrow. The latter is an expansive cult, with many dozens of sub-cults called "Strains" throughout the hive. Its true numbers are unknown, and at any moment the Strains are involved in numerous unholy plots. It was a cult member named Ferrue Fayne who first came into possession of a strange and ancient relic of unknown but clearly xenos origins, with which he boosted his existing psychic powers. Drawing on the unholy resonance of the xenos artefact, Ferrue was able to raise the very dead to serve him. If the Acolytes have already been through the events of Desolation of the Dead in the Dark Heresy Game Master's Kit, then Ferrue Fayne is most likely himself dead, his corpse dissolving in the depths of the sump. However, word spread quickly of Ferrue's explosive ascent within the cult and the reasons behind it.
Soon other would-be leaders and sorcerers within the Callers of Sorrow began seeking out similar xenos artefacts, which the smugglers of the Trade Sable were all too happy to provide. The malevolent work of the Trade Sable, one of the largest groups working the Faceless Trade in forbidden artefacts, should be quite familiar to players of the adventure Dark Pursuits in the Dark Heresy Core Rulebook. These smugglers sell to whomever can pay, and they have no more qualms about dealing with the twisted cultists of the Callers of Sorrow than they do with the jilted nobility of the Apex. Even seemingly innocuous artefacts of xenos origin fetch a high price and have become one of the most lucrative commodities for the Trade Sable in Hive Desoleum.
As ever, heretics are quick to betray their allies when it seems expedient. Certain factions of the Trade Sable have worked for some time with a cult known as the Children of the Inheritance, based on the fabled Cemetery Planet of Thaur (though it is important that the Acolytes do not learn this until the events of the second chapter). In fact, this is the same cult that employed the services of the arch-heretek Somnius Halbrel in the events of Dark Pursuits. The Children of the Inheritance value these artefacts not just for their power, as the Callers of Sorrow do, but as a central object of devotion within their heretical belief system (for more on the beliefs of the Children of the Inheritance, see page 112). The Inheritors, as they are sometimes known, are willing to pay almost any price for these objects. Thus, a number of enterprising Sable Traders, collaborating with the Inheritors, decided to retake artefacts from the Callers of Sorrow, by force if necessary. The adventure begins in the aftermath of one such incident. This is not the first deadly encounter between the Traders and the Callers of Sorrow, but it is the first to come to the attention of the authorities, as the others have occurred in the darkest and most forlorn stretches of the hive.
A handful of Sable Traders escaped the carnage and are working their way through the hive, carrying with them the artefacts taken from the Callers of Sorrow, even as the Acolytes investigate the scene of the skirmish. After some investigation, the Acolytes pick up the trail and eventually catch up to the smugglers, either fighting them or following them into the wastes surrounding Hive Desoleum. Eventually, the Acolytes discover a smuggler camp, where Sable Traders and cultists of the Children of the Inheritance are preparing to take their stockpile of artefacts off-world. Again, the Acolytes can choose to take up arms against the smugglers, or to remain inconspicuous and follow them. In either case, the path leads to a vessel preparing to disembark. In order to discover the smugglers' destination, the Acolytes must board the ship and leave Desoleum behind.
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