Hive Tarsus

The Cathedral of Illumination in Hive Tarsus

Hive Tarsus is Scintilla’s second largest population centre and
is the seat of the planet’s trade and commerce. It maintains an
aggressive independence from Hive Sibellus, though it relies
on the export produce of Sibellus’s manufactories.
Hive Tarsus is in the centre of Scintilla’s least hospitable
desert, baking in the relentless sun and battered by sandstorms.
The hive’s construction is based around a foundation of
immense vertical bars, between which stretch the great
conglomerations of buildings that make up the body of the
hive. As a result, Hive Tarsus is more vertical than horizontal,
with more middle hivers climbing to work than walking.

Tarsian Society
Hive Tarsus’s unusual structure and hostile location mean that
darkness and cold are valued commodities and, as such, very
unusually for a hive city, the richest areas are those on the
bottom of the hive instead of at the top. Hive Tarsus’s nobility
enjoy the shade afforded by having a whole city strung in a
dizzying web above them, while they are far enough from the
merciless sun to live in cool comfort. The very wealthiest live
in pitch-black subterranean mansions where inhabitants and
visitors carry dim lanterns to see by, while the air is cooled to
sub-zero temperatures that require everyone to wear lavish furs.
The nobility here demonstrate their superiority by controlling
their environment at immense cost, even to the extent of making
their handsome estates as dangerous to the ill-prepared as the
worst summer droughts. Hives cum that stray too close to the
base of the city are often found frozen to death, caught out by
the dramatic drops in temperature the closer they get to the
wealthiest districts.
The closer to the surface of Hive Tarsus, the poorer and
more dangerous the hive becomes. Middle hivers labour in
sweltering workshops bathed in the heat filtering down from
the sun, plagued by sunbeams that sweep through the hive
during the day and burn exposed skin. The outermost layers
(known as the Hiveskin) are hellish; it is almost too hot to breathe
and hivers are bathed in sunlight so
potent it can make those caught in it blacken and shrivel up
in a few minutes. Layers of hovels cling to the top and sides
of the hive, too flimsy to completely block out the deadly
sun or the frequent lethal sandstorms. Worst of all, the heat is
relentless, easily hot enough to kill those not adapted to it. The
hiveskinners scrabble like scarabs across the outermost layers
to avoid the worst of the sun as it moves overhead during the
day. They are a sunburned, sand-scarred lot who survive by
hunting the hardy fauna that dwells here including dangerous
Scaldbats and mildly poisonous Fingerburner Beetles. Many
wear improvised, iridescent armour suits to reflect the sun, so
that they themselves resemble human-sized beetles.

Trade Within Hive Tarsus
Hive Tarsus manufactures very little. Instead, its middle hive
is dominated by the Goldenhand, a vast complex of trading
halls and auction houses held like a great golden nugget in the
heart of Tarsus’s city-web. The Goldenhand houses a massive,
infinitely complex financial market where commodities are
bought and sold at a dizzying rate, and enormous amounts of
money and goods change hands hourly. Traders representing
both planetary and sector-wide houses buy, sell and try to
swindle each other. The Goldenhand never shuts and is
constantly thronged with people yelling out offers and curses in
a complicated trader’s code called Goldentongue. Most traders
are accompanied by armed bodyguards, since the application of
violence or even assassination are recognised tactics for gaining
the upper hand. Activity in the Goldenhand is extremely
intense, with few who work there lasting very long before they
are burned out. Many is the man who has lost a fortune for his
noble patrons in the Goldenhand and chosen to walk to certain
death into the desert to do penance for his failures.
Activity in the Goldenhand is regulated by two bodies.
The first is the Goldenhand’s own staff of auction masters and
functionaries; dressed in browns and brass, their faces painted
deep gold, they look appropriately enough like a part of the
Goldenhand itself. The second group is the Administratum. The
adepts of the Administratum’s Goldenhand Consular Taskforce
(under the leadership of the energetic and surprisingly goodhumoured
Consul Sevavin) forms the largest concentration of
adepts on Scintilla and probably in the whole Calixis Sector. They
are a familiar sight in their stark grey uniforms, contrasting with
the outlandish fashions of the various noble traders, and are never
jostled or threatened as they go about their business. The adepts
are considered above the violence that flourishes between the other
traders, partly because they represent the interests of the Holy
Emperor, but mainly because they have the very best protection
in the form of veteran soldiers from the death world of Mortressa.
The adepts’ purpose in the Goldenhand is to ensure that the tithes
handed over to the Administratum from the hives of Scintilla do
not consist of inferior goods with inflated values, and to maintain
awareness of all the major deals going on among the planet’s
noble houses. Another important player is House Krin, one of the
great sector-wide noble houses, which revels in its reputation as
“Drusus’s bankers” and can arrange banking and massive loans to
anyone confident that they can pay up when the time comes. The
adepts of the Administratum are based in a building of gold and
glass suspended over the Goldenhand’s largest trading hall, while
House Krin’s household troops protect the family’s complex of
vaults and safe rooms just beneath the Goldenhand.
Hive Tarsus’s trade dominance is due to the fact that the
planet’s orbital docks are geostationary above the hive. It is said
that Tarsus is the “lungs and stomach” of Scintilla. Vast wharfs
and warehousing/handling vaults dominate the middle hive,
pulsing with the import and export of goods. There are said to
be chambers the size of cathedrals in the dense heart of Hive
Tarsus, packed with crated goods never claimed or shifted.

Protectorate Barracks
Hive Tarsus’s proximity to the orbital docks means that it is
also the home of the planet’s military units. Scintilla’s planetary
defence force, the Army of the Scintillan Protectorate, is based
at Hive Tarsus. It draws its troops from across the planet and
there is considerable rivalry between regiments. The regiments
raised from Gunmetal City’s ruffians consider themselves
to be superior and they are mostly justified in this, with the
Gunmetal regiments being the equal of the Imperial Guard.
The Gunmetallicus 41st, in particular, is a prestigious elite
formation whose troops are used to escort VIPs and perform
dangerous missions in the wastelands between the hives. When
the Imperium needs new Imperial Guard regiments raised for
conflicts close to the Calixis Sector, Scintilla’s tithe is often
raised to include a draft of manpower for the Imperial Guard.
This draft is mostly taken from the Army of the Scintillan
Protectorate, with some Imperial Guard also being raised from
the ultra-violent gangers of Gunmetal City’s notorious Infernis.
Since the Scintillan troops often cut their teeth battling the
Infernis gangs, care must be taken to keep the resulting Imperial
Guard regiments apart. The Army of the Scintillan Protectorate,
while answering to Hax in his role as planetary governor, is
effectively sponsored by the noble families who contribute
their household troops to tours in the army, and most of its
officer class is drawn from the younger sons and daughters
of noble houses. Warrior brotherhoods, secret societies often
born of loyalties to a particular noble house, are common in
the army, with the most prestigious having fraternal meeting
houses in the spire of Hive Tarsus.

The Cathedral of Illumination
Hive Tarsus is also the site of one of Scintilla’s sectorfamous
landmarks. The Cathedral of Illumination is the most
important place of worship in the whole Calixis Sector. It
is the base of operations for Cardinal Ignato, the sector’s
most senior Adeptus Ministorum clergyman, who leads the
Synod Calixis from the cathedral’s lavish auditorium. The
cathedral is an extraordinary collection of spires surrounding
a cavernous central nave, topped with an enormous stainedglass
dome, through which the scorching light of Scintilla’s
equatorial sun blazes. The decoration on the cathedral is paid
for by nobles and prominent citizens from across the sector,
all eager to purchase a piece of the Emperor’s grace. The
outside of the cathedral is covered in statues, depicting scenes
of Imperial history and images of the saints, all gleaming gold
in the fierce sunlight. It is said that some of the cathedral’s least accessible places conceal bizarre statues, like grotesque monsters or scenes of bizarre occult rituals. The area
around the cathedral is a forest of statues of saints and important
citizens of Scintilla, the most impressive of these being an
enormous statue of Saint Drusus that has pride of place
outside the main doors to the nave.
Inside, the cathedral is just as magnificent. The cavernous
nave’s glass dome is supported by columns carved into the
likenesses of past cardinals and there are enough pews to
sit tens of thousands of worshippers. The nave is dominated
by an altar that sits in front of a triple portrait in gold and
silver, depicting the Emperor (with His face turned from the
congregation) flanked by Saint Drusus and Lord Militant
Angevin, as well as effigies of several saints. Behind the altar
is a choir of two thousand servitors filling the nave with
soaring choruses. A pulpit overlooks the nave, and it is from
here that Ignato and the other Ministorum preachers speak
the word of the Emperor. On days of religious importance,
such as the Feast of the Emperor’s Ascension, many thousands
of nobles and adepts from across Scintilla fill the nave, while
lesser citizens crowd outside in the hope of glimpsing some
of the splendour within.
The cathedral also contains the cardinal’s quarters, the
Synod Auditorium, where the sector’s cardinals meet to
discuss spiritual issues, and the Hall of Relics where holy
items are kept for safekeeping and study. These include relics
of Saint Drusus’s life, including bones purported to be from
Drusus’s own body (enough to reconstruct several skeletons).
The Archivum Spiritual, a library of theological works and
religious records, also resides below the cathedral, as do the
extensive catacombs where members of the Ecclesiarchy
are buried. The cathedral has a huge staff made up of both
lay volunteers (mostly ex-pilgrims) and members of the
Ecclesiarchy. Armed laymen of the Frateris Militia protect
the cathedral, assisted by a single squad of Sisters of Battle
from the Order of the Ebon Chalice.
The presence of the cathedral means that the Ecclesiarchy
has immense influence in Hive Tarsus, to the extent that
Cardinal Ignato has more power here than the hive’s nobles
and the Frateris Militia have a stronger presence on the streets
than the Magistratum. All the trade and warehousing halls of
the middle hive have lay clergy preaching to the workers about
the sacred nature of obedience and the heinous sins of leisure
and curiosity. A large proportion of Hive Tarsus’s population
is made up of pilgrims who are journeying through the city to
reach the Cathedral of Illumination. Queues of pilgrims snake
from the cathedral throughout the middle hive, sometimes
spending years waiting for a glimpse of the cathedral
while surviving off the efforts of Ecclesiarchy handouts,
lay volunteers and unscrupulous traders. The pilgrims are
an essential part of Hive Tarsus’s economy and most never
leave, finding themselves among the labourers of the middle
hive or, for a lucky few, working as volunteers among the
glittering majesty of the cathedral itself. Hive Sibellus may be
the seat of power, but Hive Tarsus is the seat of faith, despite
many attempts to shift the Ecclesiarchy’s base to the ruling
hive. Almost single-handedly, the cathedral accounts for Hive
Tarsus’s continued importance and influence in the shadow
of its giant rival.

Hive Tarsus

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