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“Good. Very impressive. Now play it again, but blindfolded.” – Chancellor-Artisan Ringbolt Fischer, Professor of Music
Mazar-63 is a hollow moon in orbit around a sterile world in Subsector Primus. It is most famous as the seat of the Primus Noble House Roshan-Fikran. A network of ancient tunnels honeycomb the interior of the moon, for the most part arranged into grand avenues and pleasant squares to rival the most luxurious hive-spires. Any civilised world has its dark underbelly, however, and Mazar-63 is no exception; in the cold outer reaches near the moon’s frozen surface, close to the ancient void-seals which keep the rich artificial atmosphere within, there are dark unexplored networks of shanty-town caves and disused factorium complexes where the poor and unfortunate of Mazar’s population lurk in resentful and criminal squalour.
The aged and academic splendour of the central tunnels is maintained and ordered by the House’s Chancellor-Artisans, who describe their life’s work and duty as the crafting of young nobles into finely tuned instruments of the Emperor’s Will. The reputation of the House is built on academic and intellectual excellence of all varieties; and Mazar-63 is an engine for inculcating, refining and testing that excellence among the young nobles and their support staff. Every conceivable expression of human mental brilliance, from rote memorisation to musical genius to rhetoric, Ecclesiastical philosophy to applied astronavigation, is taught somewhere inside the vast schola-halls. The moon’s reputation is such that on many worlds in the Sector, a psycho-conditioning record showing even brief academic experience on Mazar is enough to immediately qualify one for a senior role at a Scholam or military training academy.
This excellence attracts reputation; other Noble Houses, interested in rounding off their progeny’s education, will sometimes send them to be fostered at Mazar-63 for a few years, often in early childhood. These young Scions are treated with fastidious care while within the hollow palaces, and in many regards their experience barely differs from the Roshan-Fikran children – but ever conscious of the value of information, the Chancellor-Artisans ensure that there are some places the cuckoo youth cannot go, and some texts they will never be permitted to read.
Although purity and excellence of mind is the highest value within Mazar, the Chancellor-Artisans hold that a mens sana grows from a corpore sano; so among both the noble and common residents of the moon, many physical pursuits are a well-regarded way to spend leisure cycles, including some peculiar to the moon’s internal architecture. Deep-tunnel spelunking, vent-ghast hunting with rifle and lamp-pack and dropshaft-tennis are all popular with the locals. For those offworlders missing a more typical planetary environment, and the young who wish to train themselves for a future in the Imperial Guard, a village-sized section of the central-east tunnel axis has been painstakingly bio-engineered with imported soil and plantlife, with the house’s allied Adeptus Mechanicus providing artificial weather and a holoprojected simulated “sky” widely regarded as somewhat unconvincing. Access to this area is tightly controlled based on the academic term rota and the demands of the various competing faculties, and it is not uncommon to find a savage – if very eloquent – row between the Artisan-Professor of Applied Pharmacy and the Chancellor-Ascendant of Practical Anatomy, each with a comet-tail of obedient young students, at the environment-gates.
Most of the interior of Mazar-63 is mapped, though some areas – particularly those near the surface – remain impenetrable to servo-skull cartographical drones. There are two major docking-ports for voidships, and innumerable smaller archaic void-locks which permit passage onto the low-gravity surface. The head of House Roshan-Fikran is the de facto Governor of the planet, though cedes most prosaic matters of day-to-day planetary administration to the Chancellor-Artisan Majoris, currently an elderly and mostly deaf professor of Ecclesiastical Archaeology named Balustrade Hacknesse.
House Roshan-Fikran and the millions of vassals who make up the population of the Moon nurse a two-century-old rivalry – usually friendly – with the Seminary of St Sebastian’s Redoubt, a major Ecclesiastical institution in another part of the Subsector. At its harmless end, the grudge extends to elaborate student pranks and well-attended sporting competitions; its darkest manifestations occasionally include sabotaged data-cortices, stolen texts, rumours of academic espionage, and even plagiarism.