I was prompted to write this by the Liber Unity Project, but as it turned out to be basically a personal project I decided to post this in a new thread. More to come on events after the Fall of Cadia
Here's a PDF form of the below, a bit nicer looking
Order of the Weeping Heart
All information current as of just prior to the Fall of Cadia, 999.M41
Home World: Azrithine, a Minor shrine world near Dimmamar
Main Colours: Black, White, Red
Order Type: Order Minoris split from Order of the Valorous Heart
Specialty: Screening of Ministorum and other Imperium officials, execution of those judged heretical
Battle Cry: “Remember your duty, remember your sin!”
Current Strength: 97 sisters
Traditional Full Strength: Around 140 sisters
FELICAENE THE HALLOWED
“Remember Canoness Felicaene, who righted our faith and led us from self-righteousness into penance and communion with the Blessed Emperor”
Sister Felicaene of the Order of the Valorous Heart was promoted to the rank of Canoness Preceptor in 121.M38. At the time, her Canoness Superior, Ahena, cited her “tactical acumen and devotion to the principles of the Adepta.” The recent revelation of the false-saint Basillus’s heresy made Felicaene’s principled beliefs all the more valuable to the Order, and she served as a senior advisor to the Canoness Superior for over twenty years.
Throughout her life, Felicaene placed great stock in the Sororitas’s role in maintaining the Ecclesiarchy and preventing the events of the Reign of Blood from repeating themselves. In her eyes, Basillus was the Sisterhood’s failing. If he had been revealed as a false prophet before his rise to power, tens of thousands of Astartes would have been saved. As a Canoness Preceptor she placed increasing emphasis on screening members of the Ecclesiarchy, using her influence within the Valorous Heart to have extensive, invasive background checks performed on priests assigned to the Dioceses of the Cardinals Astral Ministra. This eccentricity, as many saw it, was tolerated by the Sororitas and Ministorum at large, even though it seldom revealed anything of note.
In 143.M38, Felicaene suffered a mortal wound during the eradication of a nascent Khornate cult. Her right arm was severed, and she spent several days in a coma as she received a cybernetic replacement. At first, she seemed unchanged, but as time passed her sermons became more critical of the Sororitas’s view of themselves as the unblemished paragons of human purity. She reminded her sisters of the mistakes of the Reign of Blood and placed the blame for the Abyssal Crusade squarely on the Adepta’s shoulders. In light of this, she felt it was necessary for the Sororitas to devote the larger part of their resources to screening Ministorum personnel. She believed that Daughters of the Emperor must not only life faithfully in the way all of the Imperium should but must also continually repent for the horror of Vandire’s reign.
Felicane’s convictions caused a good deal of friction between her and her fellow Canonesses. They saw her as seeking forgiveness for that which was long forgiven. Some called her an overzealous nuisance, while others said she had gone insane. However, there were those within the Valorous Heart with whom her message resonated, and many such sisters requested to be assigned to Felicaene’s command. As unusual as this was, the Canoness Preceptor was able to accept most of these disciples since their former commanders had little desire to work with such extreme views.
As she became more strident in extoling her beliefs, Felicaene’s efficiency as a commander suffered. She led her followers in ritual self-mortification and prayer, and often refused to work with military elements outside the Sororitas on the grounds that they had not been properly screened. Though her military acumen carried her to success most of the time, many of Felicaene’s peers felt her actions were unbefitting of her station and that she was wasting Adepta resources.
Excerpt from Canoness Preceptor Felicaene’s Feast of Saint Lucia Sermon, 147.M38
The Sisterhood on San Leor was co-opted by a heretic and reveled in heresy and debasement; only the intervention of the God-Emperor Himself saw it returned to His light. As surely as this salvation condones the Adepta’s continued existence, so sure is it that this salvation is not, and can never be, a vindication. We, who called ourselves the Daughters of the Emperor, were blinded by our own hand, and ate from the palm of an apostate. Thus, all present and future Sisters of our Orders must dedicate their lives to penance for what is passed—that which can never be repaid—and vigilance so that it may never come to pass again.
Yet within the last millennium the power of the Ecclesiarchy saw fully thirty Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes cast into the Eye of Terror by a warp-tainted demagogue to face certain doom and corruption. The power of the Adeptus Ministorum was once more wielded against the will of the Emperor, under the eye of the Sororitas. We must remember, lest our sight be again shrouded by hubris: we, among all the Emperor’s servants, have wounded Him most deeply. We, among all the Ministorum’s missionaries, were charged with looking for the rot within. For us, duty till death is insufficient. Only when we make our every service a bloody penance, every victory a mortal sacrifice, can we call ourselves fit to gaze up into His light.
FOUNDATION IN REGRET
“We beg the Emperor’s forgiveness in prayer and in deed, that we may be found worthy to serve him”
These issues came to a head with Felicaene’s sermon on the Feast of Saint Lucia in 147.M38. Her public condemnation of the Sisterhood saw her brought before Canoness Superior Ahena of the Order of the Valorous Heart. The Canonesses of the Order called for her censure and the stripping of her rank. The Canoness Superior had not yet acted on Felicaene’s behavior because of her sizable following. In removing the Canoness Preceptor from her post she risked making an ideological martyr of her. In Ahena’s view, Felicaene was still an adequate Canoness with a sharp mind, and the stripping of her rank seemed likely to cause further disruptions within the Order. However, the pressure from her other Canonesses had become too great and she was forced to act.
Seeking a higher authority, she brought the issue to the Prioress of the Convent Sanctorum. In doing so, Ahena sought to shift away from herself any ill will for the punishment handed down and minimize disorder within the Valorous Heart. The Prioress spoke to both Ahena and Felicaene behind closed doors. After a period of deliberation, she agreed that censoring the Canoness Preceptor and her followers was not a viable solution. She judged Felicaene’s beliefs to be more inconvenient than inadmissible, as the Adepta did have a mandate to keep watch for corruption within the Ecclesiarchy but agreed that her disruption of the Valorous Heart’s operations could not continue. To this end, she announced the creation of a new Order Minoris, to be led by Canoness Felicaene, and comprised of any Sister of the Order of the Valorous Heart that wished to be transferred to it. There was some disquiet among the Canonesses of the Valorous Heart that Felicaene’s punishment was not really a punishment at all, but no major incidents occurred.
The Prioress, Ahena and Felicaene eventually agreed to call the new Order the Weeping Heart, and placed its convent on Azrithine, a minor shrine world in the galactic vicinity of Dimmimar. Being near the birthplace of the great Saint Thor, who played such a large role in ending the Reign of Blood, pleased Felicaene, and the Prioress was satisfied with sending her troublesome sisters to the other side of the galaxy.
By the date of departure from the Ophelia system, 139 sisters had requested transfer to the Order of the Weeping Heart. They boarded a long-range troop transport, which followed Imperial Navy supply lines till it reached Azrithine. The construction of the Order’s convent began shortly after.
“By His hand the Imperium was born, by our blood we purify His church”
Unbeknownst to both Felicaene and Ahena, the Prioress planned to taper off the flow of new Sisters to the Weeping Heart over the coming years. The troublesome Felicaene and her followers and would fade to nothing, far from Ophelia VII. In not telling the Canonesses her plans, the Prioress ensured that Felicaene would take her leave quietly from the Convent Sanctorum. What she did not plan for, however, was her own death. Just 16 months after Felicane’s departure, the Prioress took ill. Her condition continued to worsen despite the best efforts of the Orders Hospitaller, and she passed away just weeks later, taking her plans for the Weeping Heart with her. A replacement was quickly selected, but she was oblivious to the circumstances of the new Order’s founding.
Thinking that her predecessor had intended for the Weeping Heart to endure, the young Prioress assigned them recruits as she did any other Order Militant. However, she found that an unusual proportion of Sisters assigned to the Weeping Heart ended up executed in disciplinary actions. This was due to the Order’s unique tenants, draconian even by the Adepta’s standards, and their eschewing of the Oath of the Penitent. Sisters that would have otherwise been consigned to the Sisters Repentia, where they would at least serve once more on the battlefield before their death, were executed outright. The Prioress’s solution was to select Sisters who seemed predisposed to the Weeping Heart’s way of thinking to assign to them. This reduced the mortality rates among newly assigned Sisters.
Since it’s founding, the Weeping Heart has received varying amounts of support from the Convent Prioress. During the tenures of Prioresses especially unfriendly to the Order’s cause, its numbers shrank as low as 50 Sisters, while at times of high recruitment within the Adepta, it swelled to almost 200. However, for most of its existence the Order has maintained roughly its original size. Some Prioresses have taken advantage of the Weeping Heart’s tough discipline to dispose of those Novices they deem disobedient, but not so much that they do not complete their Novitiate. Such Sisters cannot cause trouble for the more prominent Orders Militant while assigned to the Weeping Heart, where they will either adapt to the Order’s way of life or find their life forfeit. Of course, such matters are relative, the most disobedient Novices to complete their vows among the Adepta has the discipline of the Astra Militarum’s best, and faith to match.
“The worlds of the Imperium are beyond number, yet each looks to Terra and its light makes them holy”
Geologically, Azrithine is similar to Terra before the Age of Strife. It is covered in large proportion by salt water seas and boasts a number of substantial continents. The climate is predominantly temperate, with arid and tropical patches. Perhaps this similarity was what prompted its use as a shrine world, although a minor one. Its location to the galactic southwest of Dimmamar also lends it some small amount of import within the Imperial Cult. During the Thorian Reformation, the planet was chosen as one of the numerous new Cardinal Worlds, overseeing a portion of space that used to lie within the Diocese of Dimmamar.
While a shrine world in name, Dimmamar hosts many material production facilities under the purview of the Adeptus Munitorum. Complete kits are produced for Astra Militarum regiments in the galactic vicinity, all stamped with the mark of the shrine world. Of especial note is the massive complex of printing presses and book binders in the northern hemisphere that specializes in religious texts devotional icons, including the ubiquitous Imperial Infantryman’s Uplifting Primer.
“Like moths to a flame we gather in the Emperor’s light, for only He can part the galaxy’s darkness”
As is usual for Adepta Sororitas Orders, the Weeping Heart is lead by a Canoness Superior. As a small Order Minoris, it has no need for additional Canonesses, though usually one or more of its sisters hold the rank of Palatine. Since the Weeping Heart does not use the Oath of the Penitent as other Orders do, it lacks a Mistress of Repentance.
Since the Order’s primary concern is the purification of the Ministorum and various other Imperium organizations, many of its military actions take place in confined spaces. As such, the true combat veterans of the Order are its Celestians, well equipped for urban, and even indoor, firefights. The Weeping Heart’s Seraphim, on the other hand, often find themselves of limited use in the Order’s Missions. Instead, the Seraphim are comprised of those Sisters who exemplify the Order’s values and serve as spiritual guides for their fellows, though that is not to say they are not veteran combatants. Their skills are invaluable when the Weeping Heart takes to the field in open battle.
A LIFE PENITENT
“Brand your souls with the sins committed in Vandire’s Reign of Blood, for our Sisterhood shall never be forgiven”
The Sisters of the Weeping Heart believe that, in addition to the normal, pious life expected of any Ministorum servant, the Sororitas must remain forever penitent for their actions in aiding the apostate Goge Vandire during his Reign of Blood. The Emperor, through Saint Thor I, allowed them to continue to serve His church, but this did not cleanse the Daughter of the Emperor of their crimes against Him. In seeking the Emperor’s continual mercy, the Sisters of the Weeping Heart scour the Imperium, especially the Ministorum, for those corrupted by greed, doubt, xeno influence or the taint of the Dark Gods. In addition, they fill their remaining hours with prayer and self-mortification, allowing themselves few indulgences even the strict standards of the Adepta.
These traditions include the morning, mattin and vesper prayer services performed by all Orders. The sisters’ diet is minimal: enough to maintain their physical condition but uninteresting and unchanging. It consists mainly of breads made with nutrient-paste flour, with enriched water providing what the bread cannot. The Order’s robes are of rough make, produced on Azrithine itself, and the sisters practice ritual flagellation, which in rare cases has led to permeant physical impairment or death. The sisters’ bodies are often covered in scars from this practice, which they see as a reminder of the Sororitas’s eternal debt to the Emperor and a mark of their dedication to Him.
Since the sisters of the Weeping Heart hold the Sororitas to be eternally guilty, they have a low view of the Oath of the Penitent. All sisters must be penitent at all times. In effect, they view all sisters as Sisters Repentia. Because of this, any sisters that are judged to have failed grievously in that which is expected of them are executed, rather than taking the Oath of the Penitent. The Oath is likewise never taken voluntarily, as such an act is seen as superfluous. The bodies of executed sisters are burned alongside those of heretics, and their equipment destroyed. True to their conviction, some sisters of other Orders have compared the sisters of the Weeping Heart to Repentia, their conduct in battle showing some of the same abandon in the face of death, though still tempered by proper discipline and strategy.
Unlike the Convent Prioress, which is decorated in gold and stained glass like a cathedral unto itself, the Weeping Heart’s convent is sparingly appointed. The walls are made entirely of unadorned stone, and its narrow windows are filled with thick sheet of tinted glass. The convent’s chapel is the one exception, it is as richly decorated as any other, but only the upper half of the room. A large statue of the Emperor sits upon a high pedestal behind the altar, visible only if the viewer’s head is tipped upward. Statues of various Imperial Saints, including Saint Dominica and her companions, ring the room, likewise elevated. The sisters keep their eyes downcast during prayer services, for fear of seeing even the toes of the golden effigies. Only on the Feast of the Emperor’s Ascension or those of the Founding Saints do they look up in joy at their golden silhouettes. Doing so at any other time is a grave offense.
Outside of the chapel, the convent contains many icons of the Emperor. In all cases, within the convent and without, these are treated as the Emperor’s personal presence. They are greeted reverently before anyone else and sisters of the Order will not speak with their back to them. Sisters have even been known to severely beat non-Sororitas who’s behavior they deem unfitting when in the Emperor’s presence.
Exerpt from the Diary of Sister Mathei of the Order of the Cleansing Water
Once, I treated a Sister of the Order of the Weeping Heart—they were aiding the Regiment I was attached to. Her sisters brought her into my tent with barely a word, though a few of them had holes in their armour too. She, the patient, was wounded badly. Some sort of energy weapon had pierced her gut and she was losing blood. I was able to stop the bleeding and sterilize the wound, fortunately it was mostly self-cauterizing. What truly shook me what I saw when I removed her armor: her skin was covered in welts, bruises and scars, some of which appeared to be decades old. I had seen flagellants before but nothing quite like this. Then I cut myself on her breastplate. At first, I thought I had missed an entry wound, but the inside of her armour was lined with a series of dull spines. I could see where they had abraded her skin as she fought. The patient made a full recovery and was returned to her sisters. She thanked me for saving her life, but when I asked about her scars she said, “I offer up my body to the Emperor so that my soul may be fit to fight in His name.”
“We must know the vile and the obscene, for surely it knows us who walk in His light”
Since they devote their resources to eliminating heresy and corruption within the Imperium, the Weeping Heart fights very few open engagements. Most military actions they take are pinpoint strikes or assassinations. The Canoness and her Sister Superiors do extensive intelligence gathering to identify targets and plan for their elimination. Because of this, the Order is most comfortable working with a carefully laid plan and the element of surprise. As these plans often lead to fighting in urban spaces or indoor complexes, Missions are usually made up of several small squads, often spearheaded by a unit of Celestians. The Order’s Dominions and Retributors seldom form dedicated units of their own, and its Seraphim are often found guarding points of egress or launching assaults through elevated windows.
Traditionally, the Celestians of the Weeping Heart are the Order’s true combat veterans. They are selected for both their ability at range and in melee and serve as the weighted spear tip of the Order’s surgical strikes. Since the Seraphims’ combat roles are limited, they are selected for their fervor and dedication to the ideals laid out by Canoness Felicaene. Often, such sisters are among the most extreme in their daily practices when compared to sisters of the Orders Majoris.
Souls beyond number fight and die for the Emperor and His Imperium each day. The sisters of the Weeping Heart view death in battle as simply their duty as a servant of the Emperor. However, since they constantly seek penance for the events of the Reign of Blood, simple duty is not enough. With the help of local craftsmen, they weld strips of metal spines to the inside of their armour. The number and arrangement of strips varies from sister to sister, though they are often added to or rearranged to mark significant events or achievements in a sister’s life. The spines are dulled to prevent severe injury, at least over the short term. When the armor is worn, they cause abrasions in the skin as the sister moves and fights. In addition to pain, this eventually leads to bleeding which exacerbates blood loss in a wounded sister. This makes simply wearing their armor a very real, very physical act of penance. Any loss of combat efficiency is a small price to pay to be worthy to fight in His name.
The Immolator is perfectly suited to the Weeping Heart’s style of combat, and they use it extensively. Rhinos are used only when larger Missions are deployed, or when an oversized squad is deemed necessary. The Order does not possess an Exorcist, as such relics are assigned to Orders that participate in full-scale warfare. Although their operations usually require taking the target by surprise, the Weeping Heart’s vehicles are almost always fitted with Laud Hailers for use in clearing obstructive traffic in hives.
“Even on hallowed ground we stand eternally vigilant, lest the Enemy hide in our own shadows”
The sisters hold three prayer services daily, one after each meal. Meals, such as they are, are also taken together. This basic schedule is not much different than then that held by the Orders Majoris. Sisters away from the Convent maintain this basic schedule, often visiting local chapels, shrines or cathedrals for their prayers. In their time outside of prayers and meals, the Sisters perform their duties as watchers of the Ministorum, screening personal stationed in the galactic vicinity. From time to time they also investigate Imperial officials outside the Ministorum; this has included Adeptus Astartes chapters on rare occasions.
The Weeping Heart also performs the more traditional duty of guarding Azrithine’s holy sites. The Order is far too small to station a sister at every such place on the shrine world, instead posting a single sister at each of the planet’s major cathedrals and significant or vulnerable shrines. Some members of the Ordo Hereticus find the Order’s investigative experience valuable, recruiting sisters for their cells. However, even self-proclaimed Puritans often find the sisters’ penchant for flagellation and tendency to scrutinize their masters perhaps too closely onerous.
“Think not of the profundity of the present, but prosecute each Mission with the surety of His righteousness”
112.M38 Survivors of the Abyssal Crusade emerge from the Eye of Terror
121.M38 Sister Felicaene promoted to Canoness Preceptor in the Order of the Valorous Heart
143.M38 Canoness Preceptor Felicaene mortally wounded leading a purge of a nascent Khornate cult
146.M38 Felicaene refuses the assistance of a group of Dark Angels, arousing their suspicion and almost causing a firefight.
147.M38 Felicaene’s Feast of Saint Lucia Sermon
148.M38 The Order of the Weeping Heart officially founded
496.M38 The Order executes a priest at Denashin’s Redoubt, an asteroid-based penal colony for cult behavior outside the Imperial Cult. Three months later they execute his replacement on the same charge. This prompts an investigation by an Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor, who discovers a genestealer infestation among the convicts. In their first full-scale deployment, the Weeping Heart leads the purge of the colony, eradicating the Xenos threat.
551.M39 In a rare display of force, fully one-hundred Sisters of the Weeping Heart aid the Astra Militarum in putting down a rebellious planet, but the Order suffers significant losses during the campaign. After their transports were destroyed in a rebel raid, a Mission of thirty sisters was forced to march over fifty kilometers to another fortified position. Their armor’s internal spines caused significant bleeding during the extended march, and 13 of their number collapsed from blood loss and exhaustion before they reached their goal.
781.M39 Inquisitor Xelthene of the Ordo Hereticus recruits two Weeping Heart sisters to assist her in her work. Just months later they kill one of the Inqusitor’s psyker Acolytes. The exact circumstances of the killing are unknown, but both Sisters are executed by order of Inqusitor Xelthene, with whom the Order has had no subsequent contact.
300.M40 During the Aschen War, while the holy world of Dimmamar is in revolt, the Order of the Valorous Heart deploys to the region to defend the birthplace of Saint Thor. In an extreme exercise of authority, the Canoness Superior of the Valorous Heard claims direct command over almost half of the Order of the Weeping Heart, merging them with her forces for the duration of the campaign. This was technically within her power since the Weeping Heart had been formed from the Valorous Heart. By doing so the Canoness Superior pre-empted any friction between the two Order’s command structures, but generally alienated the remainder of the Weeping Heart’s forces. Because of their severely stunted numbers, those sisters not commandeered by the Valorous Heart remained on Azrithine, preparing the world for a possible invasion in the event that the Imperium’s forces failed to contain the cult on Dimmamar. A few minor Missions were launched from Azrithine to the rebellious Cardinal World, but the Order’s diminished strength prevented any major offensives.
840.M40 The Weeping Heart investigates and eventually eliminates the Cardinal of the Azrithine Diocese, on charges of impiety, greed and obstruction of the Emperor’s Will. This investigation was sparked when the Cardinal attempted to shield one of his subordinates from the Order’s interference. The killing of a Cardinal attracted scrutiny from the Prioress and the Ecclesiarch himself, but the Weeping Heart was able to present irrefutable evidence of heresy on the part of the Cardinal and sustained only a slap on the wrist, as well as a temporary drop off in new Sisters from the Convent Sanctorum.
727.M41 A major power plant explodes on Azrithine, causing widespread panic and mass blackouts. In the wake of the hysteria, the Weeping Heart interrogates and executes scores of workers and administrators involved with the plant, though some outside the Order believe the explosion to have been accidental. Azrithine’s power grid never fully recovers from this loss of archaeotech.
999.M41 Cadia falls, the Great Rift opens, and all contact with Terra and Ophelia VII is lost.
FIGURES OF NOTE
“Hold the Emperor’s martyr’s in your heart, for their souls stood strong though their bodies fell”
Canoness Felicaene: Canoness Preceptor of the Order of the Valorous Heart. Her extreme ideology led to the Weeping Heart’s founding and guides its traditions after her death.
Canoness Ahena: Canoness Superior of the Order of the Valorous Heart who promoted Felicaene to the rank of Canoness Preceptor and brought her before the Prioress of the Convent Sanctorum, leading to the Weeping Heart’s founding.
Canoness Shrivien: Current Canoness of the Order of the Weeping Heart as of 999.M41
Bassilus: False prophet who’s scheming caused the Abyssal crusade. The return and eventual vindication of its survivors would influence Felicaene’s thinking.
Edited by Servant of Dante, 15 July 2018 - 01:27 PM.