"The Emperor condemns!" (Currently) / "We will rise on burning wings." (Formerly)
Knight Resplendent Varzival (Presumed Lost)
Black with Umber Streaks
- "Penitence and pain are the hammers and nails of devotion."
- — Taken from an ancient forbidden text of the Angels Resplendent
The Angels Penitent are a Codex Astartes-compliant Loyalist Successor Chapter of the Blood Angels, created during an unknown Founding. Prior to the arrival of the mysterious individual known only as the "Undying Martyr", the Chapter was known as the Angels Resplendent. Many amongst this Chapter were once fine artisans, echoing their genetic forebears. While other Chapters fought for glory, faith or the sheer joy of slaughter, the Angels Resplendent had made nobility its creed. Alone amongst the scions of Sanguinius, this Chapter had been entirely free of the madness that haunted the Angel's bloodline. No Space Marine in the blue and gold had ever succumbed to the Black Rage. But while interrogating the mortal interloper called the Undying Martyr, the Chapter's Chaplains had listened to the stranger's new insights into the Imperial Creed and to his denunciation of the irredeemable corruption of Mankind and the Adeptus Astartes' complicity in the degeneration of the Imperium. Swayed by the mortal's passionate words, a new zeal struck the Angels Resplendent, and the Chapter began what it called the Great Purge, the elimination of all activities and items considered blasphemy under their new and puritanical interpretation of the Imperial Creed. Fired by a burning urgency to earn redemption for Mankind's and the Astartes' collective sins in the sight of the God-Emperor, the Angels Resplendent renamed themselves the Angels Penitent. They allowed themselves to be ruled by the Crown of Thorns, a ruling conclave made up of the Chapter's Chaplains, who severely punished any brother who dared to break their edicts. Another worrying symptom of the new order was that the Battle-Brothers of the Chapter are now prone to falling victim to the genetic curse known as the Black Rage. It now appears that this curse flourishes freely enough to warrant the Chapter raising a Death Company of its own.
- "Those who stood unblemished yesterday shall fall tomorrow or the day after, for treachery hides in our blood, cloaked in pride."
- — Proclamation from Chaplain Malvoisin
At some point in the Chapter's history, a strange individual, known only as the "Undying Martyr", came before the Angels Respeldent. The Undying Martyr was a mortal who had survived crossing the River Tristesse that served as the moat of the Angel Resplendent's Fortress-Monastery, Kanvolis. Few Space Marines could have mastered the crossing of the Tristesse, and so it was a mystery how a mortal had achieved the feat. Instead of ending the strange human's life, the Undying Martyr was brought before Chaplain Malvoisin for interrogation. The Chaplain conversed with the stranger for nineteen solar days before proclaiming him a prophet of the God-Emperor who bore terrible new insights into the Imperial Creed. These truths were dark indeed, for he revealed that Mankind was corrupt beyond redemption and that its greatest guardians, the Adeptus Astartes, were the basest of all sinners, for they had faltered and fragmented in the war against the arch-betrayer Horus. There could be no hope of ascension into the Emperor's light, only penitence and pain for humanity's collective sins past and future. The war was already lost and the only course was to fight on in the knowledge of certain defeat.
Thus began the Great Purge of the Chapter of all activities and items considered blasphemy, including many objects once crafted by the Warrior-Artisans of the Chapter themselves. The Great Purge swept Kanvolis clean of beauty, yet it had left the fortress filthy, just as the Martyr's words had befouled the Chapter itself. When traversing the corridors, one would trample through a mulch of rotting tapestries and pulverised statuary. The Undying Martyr had pronounced this effluvium of desecrated glories sacrosanct -- a mockery of treacherous pride.
Things might have been different if the Angels Respendent's Chapter Master Varzival had been with his Chapter during this harrowing time, but the Knight Resplendent had been absent for many standard years, campaigning with the Chapter's elite 1st Company. There had been no word of them since the Great Purge and Chaplain Malvoisin had declared them lost, though many within the Chapter refused to believe it. The Knight Resplendent would return some day to reclaim and redeem his Chapter. In the absence of the Chapter Master, only Chief Librarian Athanazius and his Librarian brethren had spurned the Martyr's testament. Inevitably they were denounced as Heretics and soon those loyal Battle-Brothers who followed the will of the Chaplains obediently stormed the Librarium, driven by a hatred for their fellows that had been unmatched even in battle with xenos.
Athanazius and his followers had awaited their brothers' assault, absent arms or armour, yet shielded by a contempt that brought the zealots' charge to a standstill. The attackers waited for the frigid electric tang that presaged a psychic assault, but Athanazius spoke only a single sentence: "We will rise on burning wings." This assault was comprised of only words, but they were the Chapter's credo, delivered with a conviction that drained the poison from many of the attacking Battle-Brothers. It might have been enough to stop the madness, but then Chaplain Malvoisin bellowed the new credo, the one revealed by the Undying Martyr: "The Emperor condemns!" The Angels Resplendent died that day and the Angels Penitent rose from their grave, shadow-bound and bitter.
The Chapter is now ruled by a council of zealous Chaplains called the Crown of Thorns. They judge those amongst their brethren who they consider to have sinned against the Emperor, which includes such minor offences as creating scrimshaws honouring the Primarch Sanguinius -- for they believe that art exalted the tyranny of the sin of vanity. Some within the Chapter still secretly harbour their distrust of the new order, clinging to the Chapter's old identity, believing they were once warrior artisans before the outsider had enslaved them. They know in their hearts that their true skills lie in arms and art in harmony, the true path of the Resplendent. But to voice such unpopular opinions are considered sins in the eyes of the Crown of Thorns. Another worrying symptom of the new order is that the Battle-Brothers of the Chapter are now prone to falling victim to the genetic curse known as the Black Rage. Prior to the arrival of the Undying Martyr, the Chapter had never had a single Astartes fall victim to the dreaded flaw of the sons of Sanguinius. It now appears that this curse flourishes freely enough to warrant the Chapter raising a Death Company of its own.
Formerly, the Angels Resplendent believed that they were a Chapter of Warrior-Artisans, a band of dedicated servants of the Emperor of Mankind who understood that war was an art form in itself. In the pursuit of art, the Angels Resplendent believed that they developed a discipline and an understanding of the broader needs of Mankind that reinforced their committment to the defence of humanity. Following the arrival of the Undying Martyr on the steps of their Fortress-Monastery, the Angels Resplendent have been seized by a new devotion to a puritanical variant of the Imperial Creed that holds that Mankind and the Adeptus Astartes have become so corrupt that they are no longer reedemable in the eyes of the God-Emperor. As such, the only choice for mortals and Astartes alike is to receive unending pubishment for their failure in the Emperor's eyes. All sins must be severely punished, in particular the sin of vanity, of which art is but one expression. As such, since the Great Purge, the Angels Resplendent have changed their name to the Angels Penitent and no longer suffer their Warrior-Artisans to create the glorious works which once decorated the Fortress-Monastery and expressed the Chapter's inherent appreciation for aspects of human life beyond war. They have become a bitter, humourless band of zealots, fired only by hatred for sin and the desire to castigate the sinner.
The Angels Penitent's Power Armour is black with streaks of umber. Prior to becoming the Angels Penitent, the Angels Resplendent wore blue and gold armour. The Imperial Aquila or Imperialis on the chest is gold. Like their genetic forbears, the Angels Penitent's company markings differ from those outlined by the Codex Astartes in utilising blood drop symbols on the right shoulder plate instead of different coloured trim and numbers. The right knee plate displays the colour and unique iconography of the squad to which an Astartes of the Chapter belongs.
The Angels Penitent's Chapter badge is a large white skull with a grey crown of thorns upon its brow. This is centred on a field of black with umber streaks.
- Chapter Approved 2001 - Second Book of the Astronomican, pg. 117
- Angels of Death - The Crown of Thorns (Short Story) by Peter Fehervari