The Manyu & The Ash-Clad
Grief manifests differently across the broad spectrum of humanity. Some mask it by taking it inward alone. Others don the mask of the Avenger - seeking to strike out with erinyeic fury upon those who inflicted the egregious loss to begin with. Still others come to a torpid form of acceptance of its burden, wherein the realities of their newfound existence slowly corrode away at their sense of self and purpose from the outside down through their skin.
In many ways, the Adamantine Spoil has never recovered from the fall of Adamantia. Its culture still inwardly laments the previous great days of the Adamantine height - even if outwardly many have seemingly moved on and adapted and adjusted to their incipient lives as Men Amidst The Ruins.
However despite the insouciantly determined efforts of the foreigner merkant houses to instill a sense of vigour in their now-colonial subjects, the better to inspire them to recreate the former glory that was the Spoil so that it might be financially leveraged for private gain ... there are always those who both cannot and will not let go of the Past. Even after some four millennia or more since Adamantia's great Fall.
Some of these go further than others - transcending the more usual trajectories along the pathways of devotion 'midst the Adamantine Old Faith to become Zealots of various kinds. Eager 'revanchist' reclaimers of the Past and re-immanentizers of this aching vision into the present. Or roaring lamenters whose solution to being unable to let go of history is to enfold themselves in its cloak and thence reach out to grasp from the night the necks of those who once and would again lay them low.
Two such orders who have begun reappearing in ever-escalating numbers not seen since the Verethragnan Wars in the centuries following the Fall, are the Manyu and the Ash-Clad.
'Manyu' is a fascinating term in Old Adamantine - it simultaneously connotes a 'spirit' or a 'mind' (with which it is etymologically linked), as well as the 'active expressions' thereof. In the latter case, most usually in aggressive, negative form. It is 'wrath' and it is 'sorrow' - yet it is also 'piety' and 'zeal'. Such are the intricacies of the Adamantine Old Tongue.
More intriguingly, it also connotes a veer-y specific form of destroyer-spirit in the Adamantine Old Faith. A Facing of the Spear-Lord Who takes the field when situations are at their direst, inspiring and imparting His power to the Adamantine war-host; and overtly terrifying any who might seek to stand against Him.
The Manyu, therefore, take as their inspiration exactly this fearsomely formidable figure - both seeking to emulate His terrific impact upon the enemy, as well as His stirring-up of 'spirit' amidst those assembled in active-defence of the glorious Adamantine past. In this context, the Manyu referring also to the 'War-Mask' and its accompanying psycho-metaphysical state of investment wherein the Devotee becomes almost akin to those baelful spirits from Adamantine legends whose faces and facets they have drawn in.
Upon the battlefield, they often take the role of commanders or shock-troopers; their specialization revealed partially by the choice of frightful visage which their War-Mask seeks to evoke. Through their strength of fate, faith and zeal they often seem almost superhuman in their proficiency, implacable in their advance, and impervious to the travails of doubt and shrapnel that might otherwise lay a lesser believer low.
The Ash-Clad are an order of renunciate warrior-mystics, so named for their practice of going into combat their skins slathered with the white ash of dead burned worlds and shattered memories.
During the course of the Scouring of Adamantia, countless thousands of settlements, shrines, and clans were consigned to the charring expurgation of the Ekpyrosis Edict. The intent of those who sought to inflict such all-enveloping iconoclastic incineration upon Adamantia was that it should be burned down in spirit as well as in physical form. The heritage, culture, and mindset that had previously flourished there - and enabled Adamantia's flourishing in return - be reduced to ash upon the wind, never to rise again.
And yet ash has ever proven more-than-ample fertilizer given time, and even the Old Adamantine for such products of devastation - Vibhuti - connotes also the congealment of a hidden power.
The Ash-Clad are often thought of as those who have become so overcome with the heavy-weighing sense of their ancestors' grief-fueled mourning as to have left their lives behind for dwindling spans of turgid nihilism. And yet, almost the exact opposite is in fact true.
Rather than renouncing their existences to dwell but dimly amidst the literal ashes of the past, they see their role as having eschewed their former identities in order to more fully immerse themselves in the Great Sacrifice that was and yet is Adamantia. To give voice and tangible, physical form to the Past - and thusly in so doing, to promulgate the opportunities for the future re-growth and re-vitalization of What Had Gone Before. Making overt, where possible and where justifiably necessary, that 'hidden power' which lies within the Ashes - and demonstrating that even in the literal charnal clouds of erstwile-forgotten memory, there yet lingers Hope.
According to their creed, it is a difficult thing indeed to kill something which no longer has tangible existence - and which was mind-borne to begin with. All that can be done is kill the bearer. Not the thing itself. Adamantia Aeternia - The Sanatanadamantia - shall once more rise triumphant, re-immanentized, when the time is right. The Ashen-Clad shall ENSURE it is so !
Upon the battlefield, the Ash-Clad put to use skills often honed in previous lives of military duty, yet also marry this with the mystical facility afforded to them by their unquenchable faith in the power of their homeland. They are, after all, swathed and protected in Her Native Earth - the stuff, carbonized, of which the hardest Diamonds (Vajra - a term that can mean both Adamantium, and Diamond, and Thunderbolt, Weapon of the Gods ... for such the most gifted amongst them also see themselves as) is made.
They often go into combat barefoot, reasoning that the closer their rootedness to the soil or deck-plating of their home (for even the decks of ships of the Spoil are often made from the metal sprung from stars and subterranean excavations also native thereto) - the greater their stability and empowerment from the Great Goddess Adamantia Herself to be. Similarly, their chests are bare , to signify that they have little to hide and nothing to fear - acting, themselves, as the armour of the Adamantine Dream of Resurrection, and placing their faith in the Ash of the Hearthworlds to protect them from harm.
Prayer-ribbons and windings are often about their arms, bearing litanies of devotion and powerfully empowering vengeance ; whilst what little armour plating they permit themselves (often about the neck and shoulders only) is Adamantine Bronze in hue to recall the former Lords of Adamantia and Their martial-mortal auxilia, faithful even unto death. It is believed that continuing to wear such even 'midst the repressive clime of the Spoil in M42 is an act of courage - a nonchalant, yet pointed demonstration to whomever might happen to espy it and recognize the colour, that Adamantia yet lives ... even piecemeal an existence though it may be.
The plates also form another purpose - should the protection of the Ash and other wardings fail him, and he find himself blown apart by blast or roiling plasma flare, all but the most mighty of energy discharges shall fail to sunder these completely. So there shall always be some measure of non-ashen remnants of the Renunciate-Revenant in question - the better to be recognized for his deeds when he attains the Afterlife of the Glorious/Ancestral Dead to sit alongside the Great Lords to whom He has given his life (and thence his second life also) in trenchant service. Chains about their torsos or even arms signify their Eternal Duty to the Realm, and the irreducibly interlinked comradeship of their order and people from lowest to highest, and from which 'liberation' would surely mean death.
In addition to their ceremonial daggers of various forms and provenance , each Ashen-Clad also carries somewhere about his person a train of devotional scripture. For some, this is housed in the wrappings upon the arm; for others, it is tattoed physically upon their person, somehow shining through the White-Grey Ash. It may take the form of engravings upon their weapons, metallum-parchment seals , or rare elements of Adamantine jewelry bearing the Runic or otherwise Sacred ligatures of the holy writ.
For the more devout amongst them, it shall be all of these things; and frequently, a purple or adamantine-bronze book carried prominently at the waist , a half-eagle device upon the cover and a chain further link-aging the reliquary of religious recording to the Chains of Duty which rustle and jink about their torso.
The purpose of this is dual-fold - to further strengthen their battlefield role as priests and chaplains of the Adamantine Old Faith when called upon; as well as to ensure that their person is armed and armoured not only via the rags, plating, and Ash together with whatever weapons they may happen to have conjured from the aether of discarded armourials that still dot the Spoil ... but also with the veer-y Heritage of which they are sworn to both embody and to promulgate and protect.
As they themselves say, they are Twice-Wrmed when they Fight With Faith.
Vox Stellarum efforts:
The Unyielding Adamanticores
[truescale Astartes, auxilia, and sectorial AdMech; M37/38]
The Haunting Harii of Hvergelmir
[truescale Astartes ... and associates]
The Unification Wars
[truescale Thunder Warriors, (Proto-)Astartes, Army of Unification, Aegyptian-style Proto-Mechanicus raiders, etc.]
[Tomb Raiding for Fun & Prophet]
[truescale loyalist IVth, VIIIth; Agents of the Sigillite; VIth; and so much more; and Umbral's amazing Traitors]
The Worlds-Wide Webway
[(Dark) Eldar, Imperial Inquisition, an a-maze-ing realmweave of fear and wondermeant]
[some rather different Inquisitorial Storm Troopers, true-scale Fire Hawks, Black Dragon, Inquisitor and associates, etc.]
For Whom The Great Bell Tolls Thrice
[attempts to put the 'priest' back in 'tech-priest' with more-medieval mechanicus]
[the log that incepted it all - at least two Inquisitors, truescale Deathwatch, local enforcers, cultists, etc.]