The Heliopolitan Ecclesiarchy

Creed and Credulity

[//Confessor Castozoff, Scourge of Morgant and Hever+]

Many witnessed Morgetheon's sermon condemning Volnoscere as a heretic.

Few would have foreseen the Arch-Cardinal then rising to lead the Heliopolean Ecclesiarchy, and hailing the Primarch as the rightful ruler of the Imperium.

None would be envious of his eventual fate at the hands of the Pentarchy...
[//Kastor Drak, the Dragon of Siklon+]

[//Imperial Hymnals MCMXXX – For we believe in the God-Emperor atop his Church +]

Forces of the Ecclesiarchy

During the War of the False Primarch, the men and women of Sectors Heliopolis and Morqub would rise up to support both the primacy of the High Lords of Terra and the Returned Primarch with equal fervour.  Massively diverse, believing hundreds of subtly – or massively – different creeds, the planetary Cults of the Ecclesiarchy were often united only in believing of the primacy of the God-Emperor. For the massed warriors of the Imperial Cult, the Emperor was a shared object of devotion; and it is thus all the more tragic that so many died in the name of whether one of his sons or the High Lords would be invested with the authority to exert His will in the future Imperium of Man.


Dramatis Personae

It is impossible to separate the importance of certain individuals from the broader Ecclesiarchical military structure, and thus a brief glimpse at some key figures is presented here. Some, like Arch-Cardinal Verashyon of the Scrutoria, are detailed in separate missives. 

Aster Morgetheon, the Cardinal-Prime

As the closest diocese to the crisis, Cardinal-Prime Morgetheon's position was in danger thanks to word of this new heresy, and he feared what might become of his flock. The Cardinal was the most highly elevated member of the Imperial Cult in the Sector, with an over-arching responsibility for the souls of those across Heliopolis – and Sector Morqub too; the sister Sector's comparative destitution meaning that it bore no Cardinal of its own.

[//Pictured on Sanctram early in the War, Morgetheon brandishes suspiciously clean 'trophy helms' of known Partisan Chapters to increase recruitment rates for the Orthodox resistance.+]

Even as the Masters of the Void Barons, Inheritors, Red Fish and Riven Lords were assembling to form the Quadrargenta, disturbing rumours of a returned Primarch were finding their way to Heliopolis. When they reached the ear of Morgetheon, the Cardinal turned to a trusted confessor, Richephanes, and tasked him with finding out about this supposed ‘lost Primarch’. Only by knowing everything about this threat could Morgetheon and the God-Emperor resist it. 

The action initially undertaken by Morgetheon was understated – mere suggestions to the sectorial priesthood to emphasise the traditions and standard texts of their worlds; and to highlight the pre-eminence of the Church in the eyes of the God-Emperor. 

As it became clear that the rumours were increasing, rather than dying away – and more to the point, agents of the Scrutoria had apparently taken an interest, Morgetheon took a more active approach to shoring up the faith of his flock, making a number of high-profile appearances and speeches; preaching of the evil of the False Primarch. Fatefully, he also began to raise an Ecclesiarchical army, hoping to thus demonstrate his dedication to the Orthodoxy. From across the sector hundreds of thousands of men and woman, often clad in little more than rags, made the pilgrimage to the arming chambers of Sanctram

Morgetheon's storied career, mutable character and eventual fate is worthy of further investigation. Further files will be made available.


Confessor Ricephanes

Better crippled in body than corrupt in mind.
[//Ricephanes, personal Confessor to Heliopolitan Primate Cardinal Morgethon+]

[//Confessor Ricephanes+]

Ricephanes' family was counted amongst the elite of Providence; a position which had granted him access to intimate knowledge of the diocese. While his form – bordering on proscribed mutation – had meant he had little chance of inheriting, family connections ensured he found a sanctuary within the Church. It was he who extracted final confession from the church's enemies and use that information for the benefit of the Ecclesiarch, feeding back all the information which his exalted but cloaked position granted him.

Little did the Cardinal-Prime suspect that the task he had given Ricephanes would be given second priority by the little Confessor. The Ecclesiarch himself, Benedin II, had demanded information, for he wished to know more than his fellow High Lords at this early stage of the war; before open conflict had broken out.

It would be Confessor Ricephanes who later contacted the Scrutoria to report on Cardinal Morgetheon's later 'conversion'. It had not taken a great toll on his conscience.


"Tell me what you know."

The words dribbled out of Richephanes' mouth. Generations of inbreeding had misshapen his face and he struggled to get words out and keep food in. 
Richephanes was Cardinal Morgetheon's Confessor – a position he had attained through his father's 'generous donations' to the coffers of the Ecclesiarchy's regional trove. Officially, Richephanes attended to the sins of the Cardinal personally and granted him the God-Emperor's Absolution; but his lowly rank hid Richephanes' true power. His pedigree may have left him distorted in form, but it had granted him excellent connections...

It had not been easy. His men had hunted for scraps of knowledge for months before finally having success with the wretched thing before him. It had once been Bishop Nothhelm, a man who had spoken in favour of this ‘lost Primarch’. Richephanes had to admire his faith though, for he had so far withstood the worst of Richephanes’ tools.

Nothhelm screamed as Richephanes tightened the excrutiator once more.“M-mercy!" it pleaded, brokenly, "I'll tell you everything. What do you want to know?”

Richephanes smiled a wet, sinister smile.

"Tell me about him."


Forces of the Ecclesiarchy

Ecclesiarchical forces in Sectors Heliopolis and Morqub were diverse; with even less common structure than the necessarily diverse Imperial Guard. With little official recognition by the Senatorum Imperialis, the Ecclesiarchy's pocket armies had no more status than the bodyguards of the Navigator Houses or militias of the Chancellery. Where they differed was scale. The Ecclesiarchy was massively wealthy, and considerably more influential over the common denizens of the Imperium than comparable Offices of State. As a result, they could draw up vast numbers of volunteers and arm them – though this varied from simple sticks and clubs to highly sophisticated military equipment comparable to the best the Imperial Guard could muster.

[//The Cardinal world of Sanctram sits in the rimwards and spinwards (galactic north) reaches of Heliopolis. Morgant in the heart of the Abraxas Sector. +]


[//Militias took many forms, from fresh-faced innocents to the hardened fanatics above+]

The Army of Sanctram – that force raised at the order of Morgetheon – was nominally led by the Cardinal-Prime himself. Lacking in military nous – and with an understandable inclination to avoid the frontline of a potential war – the Cardinal-Prime looked to regional commanders. Suspicious to the point of paranoia, Morgetheon decided that the Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy were too likely to have been infiltrated by the False Primarch's agents, and that only the 'incorruptible Astartes' could be entrusted with the leadership of his army. 

Morgetheon therefore looked to the regional Astartes Presence. Heliopolis was a prosperous and powerful Sector, and as a result had a relative paucity of local Chapters – those that were present used their Chapter homeworlds mainly for resupply, and were more typically fleet-based, ranging far from the Sector. At the extreme Coreward reaches was the Chapter planet of Lucan, but Morgetheon did not even consider the denizens there for stewardship of his army: their relationship with the Ecclesiarchy was notoriously poor. 

Morgetheon instead turned to the more studiedly neutral 'Steel of Heliopolis' – a loose alliance of the other Chapters who occupied or haunted the region: the Iron Guard, Iron Tyrants and Star Wardens

[//Vanguard veteran Árpoly of the Iron Guard's 1st Company; alongside Veteran-sergeant Magor and Battle-brother Jakab of the 4th.+]

The Cardinal-Prime's missives went unanswered by the isolationist and utopian Iron Tyrants typically uncommunicative; and the Star Wardens dismissively responded that they were too embroiled in the anomaly corewards of Subsector Abraxas to attend. Only the Iron Guard responded. A demi-company of the stern and gleaming Chapter arrived to take command of the army, and loaded them into bulk carriers with the thanks of the Chapter Master before bearing them away with the Iron Fleet. Highly publicised, this became a propaganda coup for Morgetheon, who basked in the adulation of the crowds.

While this was later taken as proof of his culpability and treachery, news of the Morqub-based Chapters declaring their secession from Orthodoxy had yet to reach Heliopolis. As a number of Inquisitors argued on his behalf to the wrathful Arch-Cardinal Verashyon, Aster Morgetheon's actions were nothing more than a demonstration of his genuine faith in the Adeptus Astartes.

The army itself was made up of a vast horde of militia equipped with whatever could be mustered, from antique autorifles to improvised firearms and armour. It was highly motivated and with excellent morale; but suffered from inflexibility and a fervent but inexperienced corps of commanders. 

Owing to its initial muster, the army became known as the Sanctramites. The term was later used to refer only to those forces which followed the Iron Guard into the arms of the Partisan cause; but gradually became less perjorative. By the middle of the war, Sanctramites was a simple catch-all term for militias raised by the Ecclesiarchy – whatever side they fought for.


My Lord Arch-Cardinal,

Direct worship of the rumoured ‘lost Primarch’ continues to spread. While worship of the sainted Primarchs is obviously a key part of the faith, I worry what the impact of a returned Primarch would be, whether real or not. It risks the faithful seeing him as a more direct line to the Holy Emperor than even his holiness the Ecclesiarch himself. This could emerge as a threat to the authority of the Church itself.

Although the Church would often seek to stand above the petty squabbles of the Astartes, in my view this is different. I petition for further forces to be diverted to Sector Heliopolis, I am ashamed to say that this is not a task I can complete with the forces on hand.

Exquisitor Vorbis


Tempestus Iconolates and the Black Deacons

[//Pict-capture of Battle Choir Theta deployed in the ruins of Endrovae during the middle years of the war. Comprising of warrior-monks from both the Chalcean Iconolates and the Black Deacons, this kill team followed Morgetheon into switching sides post-Sanctram and started taking a heavy toll on the non-astartes portion of the Execution Fleets.+]

The Tempestus Iconolates were the Ecclesiarchy's answer to the Astra Militarum's Stormtrooper corps. Just as the Frateris Templar were modelled on the original tenets of the Solar Auxilia, the Tempestus Iconolates were Ecclesiarch Benedin II's elite Tempestus Scions. 

Warrior-monks trained from childhood, the Iconolates were the pride of the Ecclesiarchy's forces, used to prosecute religious wars and as a rapid-response force to reports of diversion from the Imperial Creed. Grim-faced and opulent, the Battle-Choirs of the Iconolates were famed for the hymnals they roared as they deployed. 

Unwavering and loyal, the Iconolates' personal faith was frequently tested during the War of the False Primarch as they were confronted by contradictory calls to battle from equally compelling masters; but the Battle-choirs showed an admirably stoic spirit in personal loyalty to their direct commanders. Many, for example, followed Cardinal-Prime Morgetheon to the Partisan cause, and ended up fighting their own comrades in later battles.

The infamous Black Deacons were not officially part of the Tempestus Iconolates, but shared much of their more militaristic trappings, and were deployed alongside them more frequently than not. As with the Battle-choirs, the Deacons were highly-trained professional soldiers.

[//A demi-Cloister of Black Deacons deployed on Sanctram in the latter part of the War. Reacting quickly to the Execution Fleet's ambush, they were instrumental in holding the line long enough for Morgetheon to be extracted by the Iron Guard. Following the formal establishment of the Morqubi Ecclesiarchy-in-exile, the bell of martyrs rang once for their sacrifice. Their bodies were never recovered.+]


The Intersuae

[//Divinartor Rylen is a relatively junior member of the Intersuae. Part of their missionary wing, his role is to travel, ingratiating himself with the populace, spreading the faith, performing readings and gathering information. Those who might dismiss him as a spy, however, underestimate his religious fervour and determination to promote the ‘correct’ interpretation of the imperial creed.+]

The Ecclesiarchy’s power comes from one simple claim: that the Church is the most direct link to the Emperor, both in understanding His will and asking for Him to intercede. 

Of course, the primary source of understanding the Emperor's will is the holy texts. The interpretation of these is a matter of intense argument and proclamation between the different theological branches.

However, when it comes to more detailed matters, the texts are often of limited value. Answers as to when crops should be sown, which day is favoured for an appointment and whether the Emperor’s favour falls upon a particular assault plan are keenly sought by the faithful to ensure success in their endeavours. Such questions are the domain of the Intersuae: specialists in divining the Emperor’s will from the interpretation of dreams, the emperor’s tarot, the flight of birds and other recognised and sanctioned methodologies. 

A powerful branch within the growing Ecclesiarchy, some Intersuae have ended up as de facto governors and generals when their advice has became indispensable to powerful individuals. They have frequently come into conflict with the Scrutoria, their directive to enforce textual doctrine butting up against the Intersuae’s interpretation of direct expressions of the Emperor’s will. 



I am deeply disappointed to hear of your request for more forces. Your failure has been noticed. Nevertheless, Inquisitor Enoch has recently convinced the High Lords to deploy substantial forces to deal with this threat. Confessor Militant Castozoff somewhat jumped the gun in declaring a war of faith, but his gathering of forces locally has proven fortuitous. The sector has frequently been a hotbed of schism and this might be an opportunity to bring those inclined to challenge the authority of the Church Hierarchy to heal.

There is concern that the Inquisition are using this appointment to improve their standing and expand their influence. I therefore will be travelling to the sector with this ‘Extinction Armada’ in order to command our own forces and check the ambitions of Inquisitor Enoch. Their remit must not be allowed to permit them oversight of the Scrutoria. We speak with the direct authority of the Emperor and none should be allowed to forget that.

Remember, it is better for a world to burn than a heretic to go free.

Arch-Cardinal Verashyon

[//Iconolate First-Class Seòras of the Tempestus Iconolates, Chalcean Battle-Monastery.+]


Early battles of the Ecclesiarchy

It would not be regional Ecclesiarchy forces that ordered the first conflict of the War in Heliopolis; but those under Arch-Cardinal Verashyon, in the name of Ecclesiarch Benedin II. 

This first major formal deployment of the Ecclesiarchy forces was headed by Confessor Castozoff on his homeworld of Morgant, a world that had supposedly vacillated in its devotion to the High Lords in favour of  supporting the 'Primarch'. This was in the very early stages of the War, as the Extinction Armada continued to translate in-Sector.

[//Arch-Confessor Castozoff leads forces on Morgant.+]

Castozoff had been promoted to Confessor Militant shortly before the hostilities of the War of the False Primarch broke out. Sensing an opportunity upon learning of the heresy, he was the first senior Ecclesiarch to declare a war of faith, rapidly gathering a huge force, mostly comprised of poorly-armed penitents. 

Ajudging the Confessor to be capable, Verashyon granted a portion of his forces to the effort, and personally petitioned the Pentarchy for further support. A massive symbolic strike would be launched upon Morgant, demonstrating the Arch-Cardinal's utter ruthlessness and making it clear to the surrounding Subsector of the meaning of faith.

Deployed into the Corewards Reaches of Morqub, rather than concentrating on what might be regarded as targets of military value, Castozoff focussed upon what he called 'targets of religious significance', usually wealthy worlds where the priesthood had a history of questioning Ecclesiarchial tithes.


Atrocity on Morgant

[//Morgant_//Tithegrade=Exactis Tertius/+]

Despite the planet's forces having already effectively surrendered at the arrival of the voidcraft, the Confessor landed at the Shrine of Imperial Saints in full force, accompanied by a company of Flesh Eaters. Met by thousands of fearful clergy and support staff, the Confessor began his work to weed the pious from the heretics. All were presented with the same test: to plunge their hands into the holy flame of his brazier.

'and while the hand of the pious will emerge unscathed, the hand of the heretic will inevitably burn and be unable to stand the flame.'

Those who failed the test would be turned over to the mercy of the Flesh Eaters. 

In the wash of the ascending drop ships were left four thousand heretics, as the army of the faithful carried onward. 



After Morgant

Castozoff’s Sanctramite force was predominantly poorly armed penitents, but several battle choirs of Tempestus Iconolates, the Ecclesiarchy’s new weapon against the faithless and the heretic, accompanied the rag-tag force. They appeared to have a different agenda however, as they separated from Castozoff’s fleet after Morgant and were never seen as a single force until later in the war.

In the following months, several isolated incidents occurred throughout the sector, such as the bones of St Kateyik being stolen from Ulea, Asha’s planetary governor crashing his ship in a fatal sub-orbital disaster, or the mysterious immolation of the Cathedral of the Eternal Resplendent Glory on Jio. The body of Bishop Nothhelm, who was alleged to have seen the false Primarch himself, was never found in the ruins of his cathedral. Pict recordings show a squad of Iconolates, later identified as Battle Choir Theta, operating around the cathedral shortly before the inferno.


Originally thought unrelated, memno-records later recovered indicate that the battle choirs were all operating under spymaster Richephanes’ orders. Although his goals were not always obvious, it was clear that he was seeking information about the ‘lost Primarch’. Whether this intelligence was used for the benefit of the wider Extinction Armada, or Richephanes’ position within the Ecclesiarchy is, however, unclear.

That millions of innocents died in these actions mattered little to the Iconolates, for each member of the battle choir had spent months in pre-emptive penance.

[//Battle Brothers Branko and Vaustus of the Flesh Eaters stalk the ruins of an Imperial Cathedral on Morgant in search of survivors. Whether supporters of The Abomination-Unto-Him or those few loyal to the Imperium, a grisly fate awaited – perhaps those who were killed in the combat were the lucky ones...+]
[//paul_h/@the_midnightmare (Astartes) et @99_huddy (ruins)]



[//Tentatively identified as 'Erryk'. One of Castozoff's most fanatical followers. For two decades he had begged outside the chapel, hoping for salvation. Sensing his inner flame, Castozoff welcomed the kneeling pauper into his flock. Erryk has since sent many heretics to the God-Emperor with the relic chainsword reverently retrieved from the Chapel of the Buried Corpse.+]

A second notable early engagement was at Hever, a world of great prosperity ruled over by a theocracy based in the shrine complex at Bolynet. Forces led by Exquisitor Vorbis deployed in a surprise shock assault, penitent fanatics slaughtering virtually the entirety of the senior clergy and using charges of heresy to levy crippling tithes on the planet. 

While previously run as a theocracy, Hever had been known as a model of good government in the sector, its people preserving a modicum of freedom, and areas of the planet remaining protected from heavy industry. Under its new masters, however, great Cathedrals clad in shining metal rose rapidly into the skies as the wealth of its population rapidly drained away into the coffers of the Ecclesiarcy, along with their freedoms. 

The world proved a valuable source of resource and staging post for the Ecclesiarcy forces in the Extinction Fleets as they deployed into the sector – but it is also notable as one of the first places to rise up against the Orthodoxy when the False Primarch's forces made their move in the third part of the war.

[//Battle-Choir operation on Hever+]


The Nature of Volnoscere

Fighting in nearly every conflict in some measure or another, the religiously-motivated masses – both local and the extra-Sectorial warriors of the Extinction Fleets – were a key element in occupation and resistance forces. While they were occasionally well-supplied and valued by more considerate Commanders, they were also frequently left fighting with little more than their teeth and nails, and often sustained by faith rather than regular rations. 

One might assume that they fought with iron-hard articles of faith that were shared by their allies and opposed by the equally well-considered ideals of the enemy. This was not the case.

[//Aphorism: A good life is spent in pursuit of purity.+]

Armies of the Partisan and Orthodox faithful were all led by charismatic priests; many of whom embodied the worst excesses and cruelties of Imperial humanity – but not all. For every monster, there was a sincere and courageous priest who led their warriors into battle because he or she was convinced of their duty to minister to what they considered the lost. Their individual creeds and independence of specifics of faith remained as wildly varied as prior to the war. Perhaps still more so, given the pressures and circumstances to which they were forced to adapt.

The Ecclesiarchical forces that fought on both sides should, perhaps, be understood within the context of the War of the False Primarch as a microcosm of the broader philosophical questions raised by the supposed return of a Primarch. 

What was Volnoscere, the 'Primarch' of the Silver Stars? For that matter, what was the pseudolegion itself? These questions, which might once have been discussed in governments, were instead being answered on the battlefield. The urgency with which the Primarch drove forward, and the strength and inflexibility of the Orthodox resistance meant that there was precious little – if any – time for such questions to the considered, and still less for conclusions to be disseminated. Instead, each person – whether soldier, citizen or slave – was forced to confront their own fears and hopes that the rumours brought, and to come to their own conclusions. 

The famous question 'I want to know', which came to be used everywhere from graffiti to official missives, and was used everywhere from the jungles of Pao Fung to the court of Old Terra itself, was a curious unifier for those involved in the War. 

It symbolised the fact that the Primarch represented uncertainty more than anything else. It largely fell to whether duty, curiosity or romanticism dominated in a priest's heart that determined where his followers would fight and die.

[//Iconolate of the Tempestus Scions, Chalcean Battle-Monastery.+]

That the fundamental questions of the Silver Stars' appearance were thus never given prominence and centrality amongst the Ecclesiarchical forces on either side is perhaps surprising – if answered by the Partisans, it might have offered a rallying cry for their often fractious and divided elements. As for the Orthodoxy, the fact such questions were never given prominence perhaps reveals something of the underlying nature of the Imperial Church at this time. At root Ecclesiarch Benedin II was more invested in the acquisition of power, and ensuring the permanence of still-insurgent and potentially vulnerable political structures than the spiritual significance of what Volnoscere might represent.

The undoubted sincerity and courage of both clergy and laity in the field was frequently repaid with little more than treachery and exploitation by both Partisan and Orthodox factions. 

That fact in itself is a measure of how desperately matched the two sides were in their battle for mankind's future; and a mournful tragedy of great proportions.


I have returned, bearing no truth. I bear nothing but the certainty of purpose necessary for the survival of the individual amidst a universe hostile to it in almost every way.
[//attr. +REDACTED+.]