Keepers of the Flame
Although the Chaplain Edict was responsible for introducing the familiar skull-faced officers to the Legiones Astartes as a whole, several Legions had established chaplaincy corps long before the Prosecution. Unlike other Legions where the Librarius was charged with maintaining the traditions and histories of the Legion, the chaplains of the Eagle Warriors served as the keepers of the Legion's spirit. However, to outside observers, there was concern that these chaplains drew too much on the customs of Mexicatii Prime and not enough of the heritage of Terra. In contrast, the chaplains of the Halcyon Wardens were highly respected for their dutiful watch for their brothers' well-being. The one black mark were whispers of a secret duty hidden to all by the Warmaster's order no less.
Regardless, there was no question that the chaplain order within the Fire Keepers towered above all others. While other chaplain orders contained at least two ranks, the lay member and the high chaplain, only the Fire Keeper order had five distinct ranks, organized within three Circles. By far, the most common are the members of the Third Circle. With one chaplain to serve every hundred Fire Keepers, the Third Circle hosts well over a thousand members and is the common chaplain that the greater Imperium interact with. For much of the Great Crusade, they were viewed as an oddity at best or suspicious at worst, especially in light of the Imperial Truth.
This was further aggravated by the Second Circle. Its existence was a spurious thing since so few of its members were seen in public, even though it was confirmed that any member of the Second Circle outranked even the highest rank of the Third Circle, the Reclusiarchs. Yet, despite wielding greater power, they were rarely seen on the battlefield. More confusing were their exact duties. Mixed responses from the Xth Legion muddied the truth as some would say the Second Circle was in charge of simply managing the Third Circle, while others whispered that they were no more than brutal enforcers of Niklaas' will. The fact that no rank is ascribed to any member of the Second Circle is further cause for uncertainty.
Contrary to the secretive Second Circle, the number and responsibilities of the First Circle were well known. In a mirror of the chaplaincy itself, the Third Circle was also divided into three. The Chaplain Sovereigns formed the lowest rank within the Third Circle. Above the Chaplain Sovereigns were the four Elders. The Elders' sole duty was to advise the High Chaplain, who stood at the top of the Fire Keepers' chaplaincy.
Although every chaplain was a proven warrior, this was not the limit of their duties. While chaplains are historically considered to be concerned with the spirituality or morale of the Legion, the Fire Keeper chaplains stood out for how many responsibilities were under their purview. The Chaplain Sovereigns could and often did double as field officers, commanding siege wings seconded to other Legions. The four Elders were considered of equal rank to a Praetor in another Legion. The High Chaplain himself appeared to be second only to the Primarch Niklaas. Although Fire Keepers argued that the reality was more nuanced, it is without a doubt that the High Chaplain had consistent direct access to the Lord of the Fire Keepers, who in turn valued the High Chaplain's counsel.
In addition to these unprecedented influence and power among the Fire Keeper chaplaincy was their legalistic training. Every Fire Keeper chaplain was versed in administration and law and were active in these matters in-between battles. Fulfilling their nicknames as the 'Judges', chaplains would divide their time between meditation and mediation between aggrieved parties. Nor was this limited to inter-Legion affairs. If a Legion serf, an Army trooper, or even a common citizen wished to pursue an issue of justice with a Fire Keeper, the Fire Keeper chaplains would not turn them away and were renowned for their impartiality to the point where other legal experts would seek their knowledge to better their own.
Among their brother Legions, reactions ranged across a spectrum. By far, the most hostile response would come from the Berserkers of Uran, further aggravated by the Chaplain Edict. To the Berserkers, the chaplains represented nothing more than a tyrannical force whose duty was to delude and chain others. The Fire Keepers' chaplaincy earned additional scorn for their judicial work, which the Berserkers saw as a distraction from their purpose as weapons. Other Legions adversely affected by the Chaplain Edict tended to share a similar vexation toward the Fire Keeper chaplains, such as the Warriors of Peace, the Drowned and Warbringers. Ironically, due to differences in philosophy, the chaplains of the Eagle Warriors and Fire Keepers came to distrust each other and claimed the other had corrupted its purpose.
Most Legions cared little for the chaplains, viewing them as an oddity. Only two Legions respected and admired the Fire Keeper's chaplaincy. The first were the Predators. In the chaplains, the Predators saw parallels to their own shamans on Mardum as keepers of the law and guarding the spirit. The second were the Halcyon Wardens, who's chaplains found much admire among their cousins in the Xth Legion. Often, chaplain candidates of the Vth Legion would seek out Fire Keeper units for their required inter-Legion experience.
Edited by simison, 29 August 2017 - 11:29 AM.