Captain Neal Rakton:
“An endangered species.” Captain Rakton grunted, grimacing as he knelt and recited his liturgy, before preparing for his long journey. The Resplendent Knight, honoured Varsival - his liege, his mentor, his friend - had summoned him that morning.
“Our time is nearly up, Neal.” He had said, sorrow darkening his noble face. “Our veteran brothers cannot fight indefinitely without backup, without resupply and without any support from Kanvolis.”
Rakton sighed, allowing himself to remember once more that paradise which had been taken from them. News had filtered through of the desecration of the temples, the burning of the manuscripts and tapestries, the cataclysmic purge carried out on the orders of Chaplain Malvoisin (Rakton spat as he recalled the name, acid melting the tiles in front of him).
How could they have been so blinded by the strange, malevolent prophet? How could their mighty intellects entertain such an obvious charlatan?
“No, soon our numbers will dwindle to none,” Varsival continued. “The Emperor’s peace comes to us all in the end. Yet, as our noble Sanguinius taught us, in sacrifice there is glory eternal.”
“Sire,” Rakton rejoined, “It has been an honour serving with you these two-hundred years. If we are to die, let us sally forth one last time, and paint the earth with the blood of our foes, with sword and hammer and bolter!”
“Abide a little longer, brave Captain!” Varsival smiled, the benign smile of an elder to his protege. “I would have you perform a final duty for me. I want you leave us, and travel to fight in the Feast of Blades. Tell our story there, make them hear. If you can, seek support to rebuild and rescue our Chapter from the madness and tyranny of the Crown of Thorns. And, if you fall, make sure that this Haiku reaches Dante:Hail Brother Dante!
Tell all men we rose on wings
Resplendent in Flames
Inwardly Rakton cursed, but he obeyed his Chapter Master. Besides, he thought, a vengeful smile flashing across his face, if any so-called “Angels Penitent” happen to be at the tournament, they would surely taste his thunder-hammer...