Interlude – M35
Deep within the Rock the Grand Masters of several Chapters descended from the Dark Angels Legion met. Most were accompanied by a handful of other officers from their Chapters. Everyone in the dark chamber was a member of the Inner Circle of their Chapter, the most senior members of each of the Chapters that were collectively known as the Unforgiven.
The Grand Masters were arrayed around the circular room, each seated upon a ceremonial chair that bore the badge of his Chapter, their officers standing immediately behind them. Guttering torches flickered around the walls, casting dancing shadows.
On one side of the circular room was a great crimson door decorated with scenes from the time of the Legion when the Primarch Lion El’Jonson led the Emperor’s First Legion in the Great Crusade. Opposite the door on a slightly raised dais was a massive throne, similar in style to those upon which the other Chapter Masters sat, but with golden arms in the shape of stylized lions. Seated upon this throne was Focalor, Supreme Grand Master of the Dark Angels Chapter and leader of the Unforgiven.
Focalor’s stern gaze was fixed upon the Space Marine who knelt before him, the Master Apothecary.
“Rise, brother Anael,” commanded Focalor.
At this, the kneeling figure stood. “My lord, he will live. His appearance is as you commanded. He will now pass for a normal man of very large stature. What little deviation there is from the corpse will be thought to be the result of the battle against the warpspawn.”
Focalor nodded and asked, “How long until he recovers?”
“Two days, lord.”
“You have done well,” answered the Supreme Grand Master. “The surgery you performed was, I think, the first of its kind that has ever taken place within the Apothecarion. You are to be commended.”
Bowing his head slightly, Master Apothecary Anael responded, “Thank you, lord.”
“Please, Master Apothecary, tend to your patient.”
At this command, Anael bowed in respect, turned, and marched from the room. Upon his exit, the great door was closed behind him.
After a few moments, the Supreme Grand Master turned to the blue-armoured warrior to his left and asked, “And were you successful in your task, brother?”
The Grand Master of Librarians nodded slowly in answer. The Chief Librarian had long ago lost the use of his voice in a struggle against the servants of the Blood God, their vicious weapons severing his vocal cords before being banished back to the Warp by his psychic might.
“And we are certain,” continued Focalor, “that none will see through our ruse?”
The Grand Master of Librarians turned his gaze upon his counterpart from the Angels of Vengeance, Kelhaek, and the two looked at each other in silence for a moment, after which Kelhaek stepped forward and knelt at the point where the Master Apothecary had recently stood. “My Lord,” he said after a moment, “Grand Master Nekraor is certain. Any investigation by the Inquisition will determine that S’oyatar’s apprentice survived the war and that the Inquisitor conferred upon him the rank of Inquisitor. The Inquisitor’s last memories of his apprentice’s face will be those that Anael crafted.”
“Most excellent,” responded the Supreme Grand Master.
The Grand Master of the Guardians of the Covenant then stood and asked, “And what of our brother?”
Kelhaek again looked at Nekraor, the two communicating in silence.
“He no longer knows himself to be our brother. He will believe himself to be the man whose face and memories he carries. Only when he encounters the spoor of those we hunt will his true identity come forth, and then only when he is alone. At all other times, he will be the other.”
“And can we be certain,” continued the crimson-robed Grand Master, “that none will penetrate this subterfuge?”
“Yes, Lord,” answered Kelhaek, “the triggers are concealed deep within. None but one versed in the exact same patterns as those we used can hope to even detect their presence. The most talented of the Inquisition’s psykers will sense the locks as nothing more than the psychic guards of one with formidable willpower, one who has faced the denizens of the Empyrean. And when his true self comes forth, he will be one of us again until he willfully reassumes the mask of the other.”
“The Grand Master’s plan will work,” he concluded.
At this, the Supreme Grand Master spoke. “Then we must make haste, brothers, for there is little time to deliver him to the appointed location. The Light of Purity
must be prepared so that it matches his memory of its near destruction, and the Inquisitor’s body must likewise be treated. Our brother will wear the armour of the Inquisition and will bear the battle blade of the Acolyte now, while we will preserve the weapon of his birthright here until he attains his goal.” He turned to the figure standing at his right and said, “Brother Ledriel, deliver him in the Sword of Caliban
.” The Master of the Ravenwing nodded in acknowledgement of the command.
Supreme Grand Master Focalor then addressed the assembled Grand Masters and their Inner Circles, “Henceforth, our brother shall be known as ‘Lionborn.’ May the Primarch grant him the vengeance of the righteous.”
“Let the Lionborn’s remaining battle-brothers join each of our Chapters. We must record their recollections of the Angels of Veneration that none will forget their brave deeds.”
The Supreme Grand Master stood and drew the great ebon blade from its scabbard, holding it horizontally before him with one hand on the hilt and the other grasping the blade. The other Grand Masters assumed similar positions with their own weapons, each crafted from the same meteoric iron. “To the Lionborn and the Angels of Veneration, brothers,” to which the others responded, “To the Lionborn and the Angels of Veneration!”
The Feast of Veneration
|Every fifty years, the Unforgiven Chapters hold a feast day. The feast is called by different names among the various Chapters. To most it is the Feast of Veneration. To the Angels of Redemption it is called the Feast of Remembrance, and to the Disciples of Caliban it is the Eve of the Forefathers. Among all of the Unforgiven Chapters, however, the ceremony follows a similar pattern.|
At the front of the feast hall will be a small altar, upon which rests a book bound in dark material and decorated with an image of a winged lion bearing a sword. Upon the book will be a metallic chalice filled with a dark liquid.
The Chaplain presiding over the ceremony will signal the beginning of the ceremony by striking his crozius arcanum upon the floor three times, at which all of the brothers assembled will stand silently. The Chaplain will then address the Chapter:
“Let us not forget those who fell, proud inheritors of Lion El’Jonson.”At this the Master of the Chapter will approach the altar. He will take the chalice in both hands and hold it high so that all can see. The Chaplain will continue the oration:
We will not forget!
“Let those who would attack us fear our wrath.”
For we are Death!
“Venerate those who died in the service of the Emperor.”
They died fulfilling their duty!
“May the blood of the Lion never be spilled in vain.”The Chapter Master will then raise the fist of his right hand to his left shoulder and conclude “We will not forget” to which the assembly will respond:To those born of the Lion!
The blood flows in our veins!
“May the heart of the Lion never waiver in its mission.”
Face the darkness without fear!
“May the hand of the Lion strike the enemy down.”
Wield the blade of justice!
The presiding Chaplain will signal the end of the ceremony with three more strikes of his crozius arcanum, at which all will sit and the feast will begin.
|Investigation of the Religious Beliefs, Rituals and Practices of the Legionnes Astartes, Balthazar van Heppel|
Death Ceremonies of the Legionnes Astartes