The Order of the Faithful Sword
When the Haurvat Crusade ended in 844.M36, the leader of the Order of the Argent Shround contingent, Canoness Commander Mabiné, returned to Doumah IV, the site of her sister’s martyrdom, and requested permission to establish a permanent garrison convent upon the site. Mabiné’s sister, Sahiné, had been declared a saint three years earlier for her miracles of healing during the early years of the Haurvat Crusade. The Canoness of the Order of the Argent Shroud approved Mabiné’s request; a year later Ecclesiarch Deacis III authorized the convent to separate from the Order of the Argent Shroud and form a new order. The new order was named the “Order of the Faithful Sword” and took a stylized version of her sword as its icon.
During the first decades of its existence, the Order of the Faithful Sword served primarily as a guard force, protecting the Shrine of Saint Sahiné and the Order’s convent, and providing bodyguards for Adeptus Ministorum dignitaries and Inquisitors of the Ordo Hereticus. The order was founded with just over three dozen Sisters within its ranks, growing to only about fifty Sisters during the early years. Primarily guarding the Shrine of Saint Sahiné, a site that contained the graves of both Sahiné and Mabiné, the Sisters of the Order were popularly known as the Weeping Sisters.
As recidivists, pirates, and xenos activity in the Chonma Sector began to threaten the pilgrim paths to Doumah IV, however, the Order of the Faithful Sword expanded its role to protecting the sector. Between 861 and 978.M36, the Order of the Faithful Sword established abbeys at over a dozen strategic points throughout the Chonma Sector and grew to around 700 Sisters. Regular aggressive patrols eventually restored stability to the sector. The Sisters of the Order also monitored the populaces of the sector’s planets, watching for any signs of heresy or mutation and crushing them ruthlessly. The vigilance of the Sisters ensured that the populace of the Chonma Sector remained faithful to the Imperial Cult.
The tricentennial celebration of the Canonization of Saint Sahiné took place in 236.M37, with Cardinal Irnik of Holy Terra presiding over the ceremonies. Though over a third of the Adepta Sororitas were off-planet, the majority of the Order’s Sisters were on hand in the dual role of celebrants and guardians.
The main ceremonies were held within the Celebration Square that had been constructed for that purpose. The world’s population had nearly doubled over the last few months as pilgrims flocked to the world to take part in the celebrations.
At the height of the month-long celebration, disaster struck. A baroque vessel had appeared in the Doumah system without warning, crushing defensive patrols with ease. Though betraying the tell-tale signs of corruption from prolonged exposure to the Warp, the ship was recognized as a previously unidentified Desolator class battleship and was codified as the Soul Blight.
Upon reaching high orbit and destroying the orbital defenses, the Soul Blight discharged its deadly cargo, a score of Dreadclaw drop pods. Surface-based defenses succeeded in knocking a handful of the drop pods out of the sky, but over a dozen of the craft landed within the celebration square, killing hundreds of the faithful. The drop pod doors opened and grim Adeptus Astartes burst forth, bolt weapons discharging death into the crowds.
Closer inspection of the invaders revealed the signs of mutation and blasphemous sigils burning upon their armour. As the renegades surged forward, they drew vicious mêlée weapons and carved bloody paths through the faithful, advancing upon the reliquary in which Saint Sahiné’s remains were held.
The Sisters of the Order of the Faithful Sword responded rapidly, taking up defensive formations and counter-attacking. The Sisters were surprised, however, when dozens of pilgrims in the crowd revealed themselves to be cultists, drawing crude weapons and attacking the Adepta Sororitas and faithful pilgrims alike. The surprise attack by the cultists struck down Canoness Shafirel and Cardinal Irnik, though their bodyguards succeeded in killing the majority of cultists before they, too, were brought down.
By this time, the crowds had panicked and hundreds were killed in the resulting stampede as the faithful sought refuge from the bloody reavers. The reinforcing Adepta Sororitas Rhinos were forced to crush the crowd beneath their tracks in their efforts to reach the site of the battle. Only three of the five vehicles were able to pass the crowds, though these vehicles and their passengers were quickly destroyed by the heavy weapons of the renegades.
Meanwhile, the renegade Adeptus Astartes killed indiscriminately, the majority leveling their weapons upon the hapless crowd while a handful of renegades converged upon the reliquary of the saint. Throwing the bodies of Canoness Shafirel and Cardinal Irnik upon the reliquary, the renegades formed a circle around the tableau. The leader then stepped forward and placed an unholy object upon the pile. Moments later there was a blinding flash, then the reliquary and bodies had disappeared, a smoking crater remaining in their place.
When reinforcing Adepta Sororitas arrived in-system four days later, the hell-born vessel had disappeared. All of the battle-sisters that had been on Doumah IV had been massacred, their bodies savaged and displayed in grotesque mockeries of Imperial Cult parables. The Shrine of the Sisters and Abbey of the Order of the Faithful Sword had been torn down, the ruins profaned with heretical symbols. Millions of the planet’s inhabitants had also been slain and several large settlements, including all of those on the main continent, had been ravaged by the attackers. Thousands of citizens were missing, presumably taken as slaves by the renegade Adeptus Astartes. There was no sign of the renegades.
The Sisters of the Order were able to rebuild their Abbey, but the Shrine of the Sisters was abandoned since they lacked the remains of Saint Sahiné. In place of the Shrine, the Sisters of the Order of the Faithful Sword erected a memorial statue depicting the Kimbraen Sisters. This memorial remains a pilgrimage site, but is of nowhere near as much importance as the Shrine of the Sisters had been. As a result, the prominence of the Shrine World diminished greatly. More importantly, the Order of the Faithful Sword had lost two thirds of its strength and its purpose. The Order of the Faithful Sword was now a minor militant order in search of a new identity and mission.
The remaining Sisters of the Order of the Faithful Sword vowed vengeance and it was in this oath that the Order found new meaning. Henceforth, only a small contingent of its sisters would watch over the memorial to Saint Sahiné. The rest of the Order would purge the taint Chaos wherever they could find it, whether assigned to Ordo Hereticus strike forces, serving as bodyguards to missionaries, or serving in wars of faith. Though the identity of the renegade Adeptus Astartes warband was never revealed, the Order searches for the Soul Blight and intends to wreak vengeance should the vessel ever be found.
In the decades following the rebuilding of the order’s Abbey, the Order of the Faithful Sword regained strength, growing to about four hundred battle sisters. During this time, the order committed itself to its new mission, mercilessly purging any signs of heresy and mutation. Any deviation from orthodoxy brought swift punishment from the order’s battle-sisters.
The battle-sisters of the order preserved the memory of the ravaging of Doumah IV and the loss of the saint’s body. Moreover, the battle-sisters saw in the warrior cults of the Adeptus Astartes deviancy and the seeds of corruption. Ultimately, they saw little distinction between supposed loyalist and renegade Adeptus Astarts, and it was only the relative weakness of the order that prevented its battle-sisters from attacking the Adeptus Astartes it encountered. As it was, the battle-sisters of the Order of the Faithful Sword barely contained their contempt for the Adeptus Astartes and absolutely refused to fight alongside them.
When the Adeptus Ministorum declared a War of Faith on the recalcitrant Alkimeus sub-sector, the Order of the Faithful Sword sent a large contingent of battle-sisters. During the Battle of Phontaex, Palatine Ibraelle led a force of sisters and distinguished herself by slaying the enemy warlord in single combat. The performance of the order’s contingent throughout the Alkimeus Crusade was noteworthy and the order came to the attention of Saint Basillius the Elder. When Saint Basillius made overtures to the order, the battle-sisters found new purpose. Recognizing the value in the patronage of such an influential prelate, the leaders of the Order of the Faithful Sword eagerly accepted a role as enforcers of Basillius’ will.
The Order of the Faithful Sword served with zeal in their new mission; and they were highly visible reminders of the living saint’s power. The order’s sisters watched with no small degree of pleasure when Saint Basillius judged that thirty Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes must enter the Eye of Terror or face destruction. Once the Abyssal Crusade had commenced and the Judged had entered the Empyrean, Saint Basillius commanded the Order of the Faithful Sword to purge the homeworlds of several of the Judged Chapters. The battle-sisters enacted their judgment upon those worlds with fire and zeal, decimating the populations of two Adeptus Astartes homeworld and purging one, Heranius, the homeworld of the Sanctors of Terra Chapter, of its entire human population. Little did the battle-sisters realize the consequences they would call upon their order hundreds of years later.
In the centuries that followed the Ecclesiarchal Purges of 321.M37 and the Abyssal Crusade, the Order of the Faithful Sword continued to distinguish itself in service to the Adeptus Ministorum and Saint Basillius. Most renowned of the battle-sisters was Celestian Kartika, whose strategic acumen served the order well in a score of campaigns. She later left the Sisterhood and joined the Holy Orders of the Emperor’s Inquisition, where she continued her service to the Imperium for decades before being martyred during the Dartha’atos Wars.
When word of the return of the Judged Chapters reached Saint Basillius, he immediately called the Order of the Faithful Sword to his side. For their part, the battle-sisters answered without hesitation, firmly convinced that the Judged Chapters were deviants regardless. Leaving only a small contingent upon Doumah IV, the Order of the Faithful Sword sent its full strength to defend the living saint.
The Judged Chapters, too, sought vengeance upon the Order of the Faithful Sword for the battle-sisters’ part in the destruction of the homeworld of the Sanctors of Terra as well as the damage wrought upon the homeworlds of the other Chapters. Only a handful of Sanctors of Terra Space Marines survived the ordeal of the Abyssal Crusade, and only one of these battle-brothers survived the battles against the Order of the Faithful Sword. It was to the last of the Sanctors of Terra that Konvak Lann, Chapter Master of the Vorpal Swords, granted the privilege of trial by combat. That battle-brother, Venerable Brother Mathos Bar’Akeus, slew Canoness Aknaya and avenged his lost Chapter and homeworld.
With their defeat at the hands of the Judged Chapters and the revelations about Basillius’ true nature, the Order of the Faithful Sword was severely chastened. Since that time, they have never numbered more than one hundred battle-sisters and they have primarily served as guardians of the memorial to Saint Sahiné and the pilgrim routes within the Chonma Sector, though squads are occasionally seconded to escort prelates and Inquisitors. Though humbled by the Adeptus Astartes, they have never relented in their disdain for the Space Marines and will never willingly serve alongside them.
Doumah IV was one of the earliest worlds brought back into compliance during the Haurvat Crusade, the fifth in what would become twenty-six worlds that had slipped from the Emperor’s Light during the Reign of Blood.
A large agricultural world with several settlements scattered across the three main continents, Doumah IV had become a haven for deviant and heretical cults. Recognizing the value of the world in providing food for the Imperium’s needs, the leaders of the Haurvat Crusade took great pains to preserve as much of the planet’s infrastructure as possible in the fighting to restore Imperial rule. Though the majority of the population died in the struggles of the Haurvat Crusade, the world remained relatively intact and re-population efforts ensured that the workforce necessary to plant and harvest vast quantities of agricultural products were present.
The Shrine to Saint Sahiné was established on the largest continent, Doumah Secundus, where she had been martyred during the Haurvat Crusade. It was near this shrine that the fledgling Order of the Faithful Sword erected its convent, a massive edifice adjacent to the humble chapel that housed the reliquary in which the saint’s remains were interred. When Canoness Mabine was martyred in 805.M36, her remains were interred with those of her sister, the shrine being renamed the Shrine of the Sisters.
Where Doumah Secundus had been sparsely populated previously, the presence of the Shrine to Saint Sahiné and the Convent House of the Order of the Faithful Sword resulted in an influx of pilgrims and the population required to support the Adepta Sororitas. This grew into what is now known as the City of the Sisters and is the largest population center upon Doumah IV.
In the aftermath of the attack on Doumah IV, the planet remains the terminal point of a pilgrimage, but it is a pilgrimage that few undertake since the loss of Saint Sahiné’s remains. The world’s agricultural production has regained its former levels, though many of the ruins have been left alone as they supported a population that no longer exists.