Order of the Gilded Blade
From the depths of the forest Palatine Crusixis launched numerous raids on heretic positions, massacring patrols and destroying supply posts. Nevertheless, as supplies dwindled and casualties mounted, the small force of sisters began to lose morale. The Ash Priest also needed to rekindle the heretical faith of his followers and began to burn the forest to the ground. The sisters retreated further and further, seeking to reach the edge of the fast-approaching wall of flames and loop back to outflank the heretics. It was then that they discovered a long-forgotten shrine to the Emperor. The walls were covered in tangled ivy, but were thick and defensible. The catacombs contained a treasure trove of swords, maces, flails and shields, archaic but usable. But the greatest treasure hung above the altar: a master-crafted power sword that shimmered with golden light. Palatine Crusixis declared that here that the sisters would make their last stand.
The inferno washed over the shrine, incinerating the plant life and splintering the marble mosaics covering the outer walls. The sisters sheltered safe in the catacombs, singing hymns of praise to Him on Earth and sharpening their blades. When the flames had passed on the sisters emerged to defend the shrine from those who would despoil it. The battle was hard-fought, with the sisters relying almost entirely on the melee weapons they had uncovered and the heretics lacking heavy artillery to breach the walls of the shrine. After five hours of brutal combat the Ash Priest himself took to the field and was met by Palatine Crusixis. Although the arch-heretic was swollen with daemonic power, he was no match for the faithful sister and Crusixis decapitated him with one swipe of the golden sword.
After this glorious victory the few surviving sisters swept across the land, their zeal burning brighter than ever. Those Oldamans who had remained faithful emerged from hiding to join the righteous crusade and, with their prophet slain, the heretics quickly capitulated. When Imperial reinforcements arrived two years later they found a world cleansed of heresy and eager to rejoin the Imperium of Man. Palatine Crusixis successfully petitioned the Covent Prioris to found a new commandery around the shrine they had discovered and two centuries later the Order of the Gilded Blade was formerly recognised as a Lesser Order Militant of the Adepta Sororitas.
At the close of the forty-first millennia Oldama Majoris has been transformed from a backwater agri-world to the most popular shrine world in three sectors. Pilgrims touch down at the spaceport outside Iuga and travel into the city along a highway lined with adamantium statues of the primarchs and the saints. In Iuga the pilgrims visit the shrine that marks the spot where Canoness Commander Volenta fell, torn apart by a rapid mob of heretics, and leave a traditional offering of a drop of blood to commemorate the sisters of the Order of the Argent Shroud who sacrificed their lives to free Oldama Majoris.
After a tour of the other holy sites and shrines in Iuga the pilgrims remove their shoes and walk barefoot through the forest to the Shrine of the Emperor Saviour, now a sprawling temple complex containing training and living facilities for the Order of the Gilded Blade. The pilgrims take mass at the altar and view the golden sword with which Palatine Crusixis slew the Ash Priest. The pilgrims are then invited to an audience with the Canoness Superior or her representative. They are questioned on their journey and any heretical or xenos activity they witnessed or heard reports of. If the pilgrim is judged to be faithful and reliable their information is acted upon, whether it be a report of an ork invasion of hive world or a rumour of a witch hidden in a cave in the most remote and unimportant world. The sisters of the Order of the Gilded Blade know that all heresy is dangerous if allow to fester, no matter how inconsequential it may appear.
The Order of the Gilded Blade numbers around six hundred battle sisters, with over four hundred away on active duty at any given time. The Order’s remit means that its forces are often spread thin on over a dozen worlds, many deployments consisting of only one or two squads with little chance of reinforcement during the mission. This means that each sister is highly trained to operate in any combat role and with any weapon in the Order’s arsenal. The Order of the Gilded Blade is unafraid to use stealth and infiltration tactics against the enemies of the Emperor, believing it is unworthy to apply notions like ‘honourable combat’ to such scum. Indeed, with the sisters usually operating at a numerical disadvantage, such tactics are vital.
In recent years, following heavy petitioning from pilgrims and planetary authorities, the Order of the Gilded Blade has established small waystations on several worlds along major pilgrimage routes. These serve as rest points for weary pilgrims and as garrisons for up to a hundred sisters. The waystations have proved a resounding success, allowing the sisters to carry out more missions on worlds far from Oldama Majoris. They are swiftly becoming pilgrimage points in their own right for those of poor means who struggle to get offworld.
The War for the Soul of Hive Gharne – 892.M41
The sisters of the Order of the Gilded Blade first learned of the heresy growing in Hive Gharne from Quarant Ipsos, an elderly pilgrim who had sold everything he owned to fund his pilgrimage from Terentis VI to Oldama Majoris. He spoke of his grandson, kidnapped and forced to fight to the death in underground arenas. The local Arbites saw it as a way regulate the district’s population, but Quarant had learnt the holy words of the saints all his life and knew that blood-sport was a grave sin against the Emperor, depriving Him of men and women who owed Him their lives. The sisters recognised the need and despatched three squads to Terentis VI.
It soon became clear that the arenas were merely a cover for a well-organised gang of blood cultists whose influence spread throughout the underworld of Hive Gharne. The sisters remained in the shadows at first, carrying out raids on minor drug dens, warehouses and blood-pits. Each strike was well planned and initiated with no survivors left to breathe word of their presence. The sisters also reached out to priests of the Adeptus Ministorum, requesting that they stir up their congregations to oppose the arena fights. With their operations under attack from an unknown foe and the faithful rising up against them, the blood cultists overplayed their hand. A tide of gangers, pit-fighters and death-seekers spilled on to the streets, massacring anyone in their path including each other. The Arbites were forced to respond, deploying en masse to fight the cultists. The sisters also revealed themselves, using intelligence extracted during their initial operations to locate and destroy the cult leaders. The heresy was eradicated within a week.