Gholic Ren-Sar Valinov was a notorious Inquisitor formerly affiliated with the daemon-hunting Ordo Malleus before he first turned into a Radical and eventually became a Heretic. Valinov is believed to have been the principal agent of the Greater Daemon of Tzeentch known as Ghargatuloth, the Prince of a Thousand Faces, and he played a key part in Ghargatuloth's rebirth. He is also believed to be the principal instigator of the recent unrest in the late 41st Millennium that plagued the worlds of the Trail of Saint Evisser. Although arrested by the forces of the Grey Knights Space Marine Chapter and marked for execution, Gholic Ren-Sar Valinov escaped the Inquisition's high-security facility on Mimas, a moon of Saturn in the Sol System. Secretly gaining control over the Hive World of Volcanis Ultor, Valinov usurped his former identity as an Inquisitor to take command of the world's defences and use them against the Grey Knights tasked with killing him and preventing Ghargatuloth's rebirth.
Despite the vileness of his crimes, Valinov's past -- although incomplete -- is remarkably well-documented and easy to access for those with the proper security clearance. As is the case for all members of the Holy Inquisition, Gholic Ren-Sar Valinov started his career as apprentice to a far more experienced Inquisitor. Valinov's mentor was the esteemed Lord Inquisitor Barbillus, a most influential member of the Ordo Malleus, an epitome of everything a true servitor of the Emperor should be. Barbillus was an old-school Inquisitor, fighting at the forefront of Mankind's eternal war against the powers of Chaos. Countless frescos and statuaries still celebrate Barbillus' greatest triumphs, and when Imperial citizens somehow learned of the Ordo Malleus' existence, it was men like Barbillus they imagined: great, towering warriors bedecked in shining armour, whose gold filigree depicted the Emperor crushing the terrors of the Warp beneath His heels. Wielding an ornate Power Hammer, Barbillus had faced the denizens of the Warp countless times and emerged victorious. He was a soldier, a fighter, a smiter of the foul and a scourge of the Heretic. His light shone bright and his name was well-known amongst the servants of the Archenemy.
His fame prevented Barbillus from acting covertly, so the Lord Inquisitor established an extensive network of investigators, scientists, interviewers and covert operatives whose task it was to guide Barbillus to his next target. This could be accomplished by interrogating captured criminals for clues on cultic cells within the lower hive-gangs or infiltrating a target world's aristocracy in search of damning evidence. These "shadow men" were Barbillus' eyes and ears, often spending solar months or even standard years undercover before contacting their superior. Their task was a most dangerous one, and few lived long enough to rise through the ranks of Barbillus' private army of Acolytes, but Gholic Ren-Sar Valinov did. Alas, Valinov effectively purged or altered any information regarding his homeworld, but it is certain that Valinov was born on one of the teeming Hive Worlds of the Segmentum Solar, where only the most gifted and ruthless individuals ever rose above the teeming masses. What Valinov did back then to catch the eye of a Lord Inquisitor of the Ordo Malleus remains a mystery, yet his first mission in Barbillus' service is not: the purge of the naval aristocracy on Rhanna.
For the next six standard years, Valinov led Barbillus to countless pits of corruption, from the criminal empire of K’Sharr the Butcher, to the secret cults amongst the dockworkers of Talshen III or the pre-Imperial human tribes of Gerentulan Minor. Valinov proved the extent of his talent again and again. He was as comfortable mingling with the members of the Imperial aristocracy and wealthy trade-guilds as he was with the underbosses and leaders of the crime cartels that flourished on almost every human-inhabited world, for Valinov was an arch-manipulator of people, capable of both coercion and flattery. As he rose within the rear-echelons of Barbillus' staff, the Lord Inquisitor took a growing interest in him and marked him out to become a Senior Interrogator. But before his training could be completed, Barbillus was slain whilst battling the Daemon Prince Malygrymm the Bloodstained on the Agri-World of Agnarsson's Hold. Barbillus had left standing orders to annihilate the planet through the use of Exterminatus-class weaponry should he fail to banish the daemon and it was from the bridge of Barbillus' flagship that Gholic Ren-Sar Valinov watched as the Cyclonic Torpedoes launched and the once verdant world was swallowed by the magma emerging from its ruptured surface.
While the Imperium set about to commemorate Barbillus' passing, the resources and staff he had gathered during his lifetime passed into the service of the Grand Conclave of the Ordo Malleus. Having not been ordained by Barbillus, Valinov served a second apprenticeship under at least a dozen different Inquisitors before eventually being confirmed as an Inquisitor himself. Of his actions as a loyal Inquisitor, few details remain apart from the name of his greatest victories. Evidence suggest that he was involved both in the brutal campaigns around the Eye of Terror and the eradication of a Chaos-infested xenos population within the Damocles Gulf. With hindsight, it would seem evident that Valinov had already turned by that time and purposefully erased his footsteps within the Ordo's archive. His final treachery would take place on V'Run.
Acting officially on clues that a devolution cult had seized power amongst V'Run's ash wastes and under-hives, Valinov requisitioned a powerful strikeforce of Stormtroopers of the 79th Lastrati as well as a coven of Sanctioned Psykers from the Scholastica Psykana and a full Escort-squadron of Sword-class Frigates. What truly occurred on V'Run remains a mystery, but two solar weeks after Valinov's arrival, V'Run was engulfed by a Warp Storm so localised that it must have been engineered on purpose. On that day, nineteen billion Imperial citizens died, their death screams polluting astropathic communication for light years around. This was only the first of Valinov's evil deeds, as the Renegade Inquisitor left a trail of destruction throughout the Segmentum Solar. Most notoriously, Valinov is responsible for the destruction of Port St Indra's capital, causing the city's geothermal heatsinks to overload. Further out, in the regions bordering the Nememean Cloud, bands of pirates harassed, plundered and destroyed several pilgrim-convoys and later claimed to have acted on Valinov's orders. By that time, the Ordo Malleus had retasked several other Inquisitors to track down or anticipate Valinov's movements, an initiative that was crowned with success when Valinov was located within the Gaolven Belt. Valinov had rallied with a cult of plague survivors who believed they owed their survival to the Ruinous Powers. Within a few solar weeks, Valinov transformed these cultists into his own disciplined and fanatically loyal army, and used them to garrison a fortified asteroid.
Believing that the Renegade Inquisitor had decided to prepare for a bloody last stand, the Ordo Malleus approached Grand Master Tencendur of the Grey Knights Chapter so that the punitive Inquisitorial taskforce might benefit from Astartes support. The Grey Knights were happy to comply and despatched forces to assist Lord Inquisitor Nyxos with Valinov's capture. It was during this boarding action that Valinov's later opponent, Justicar Alaric, was severely wounded. Despite these reinforcements, Valinov's capture proved to be bloody business, the Renegade Inquisitor himself gutting Interrogator Iatonn -- one of Lord Inquisitor Nyxos' most promising students -- with a slash of a Wrackblade, a weapon that incorporated a neurowhip processor. Seemingly broken and in chains, Valinov was brought back to Saturn and incarcerated on the moon of Mimas. Following his capture and incarceration, Inquisitrice Brei Ligeia discovered an extremely valuable artefact among Valinov's possessions: an original copy of the Codicium Aeterneum, the Ordo Malleus' famous compilation of knowledge on the servants of the Ruinous Powers. Without the Inquisition even noticing, it had gone missing, Valinov having stolen the text from one of its libraries, quite possibly while he was still an apprentice to Barbillus. This discovery changed things, for if she were to be proved correct, Ligeia had just discovered that Valinov had planned to betray the Inquisition and the Imperium well before becoming an Inquisitor himself. Ligeia's psychic powers as an infocyte also allowed her to identify Valinov's true master: Ghargatuloth, one of the most powerful lieutenants of the God of Change. Guided by a reading of the Emperor's Tarot, Inquisitrice Ligeia and four squads of Grey Knights under the brevet-captaincy of Justicar Alaric were despatched on the long-neglected Trail of Saint Evisser, only to find it teeming with cultic activity related to Ghargatuloth.
His knowledge being deemed important enough to help Ligeia's investigations, Valinov was spared the swift execution he had been promised, but unknowingly to the Ordo Malleus, Valinov was feeding them misinformation, manipulating them to further the goal of Ghargatuloth's rebirth; for the Prince of a Thousand Faces was the most powerful Greater Daemon ever encountered and vanquished by the Ordo Malleus. Following the daemon's banishment, the Ordo Malleus had deemed it safer to entirely raze Ghargatuloth's erstwhile stronghold on Khorion IX. The entire planet was subjected to Exterminatus only to hinder the Greater Daemon's return to the material plane. As a result, Valinov needed the help of the Grey Knights to resurrect his master: he required the weapon that had slain Ghargatuloth in the material realm -- the Sword of Mandulis -- to act as the proverbial sacrificial dagger and allow Ghargatuloth to be reborn. Yet even as an Inquisitor, Valinov had not possessed the necessary authority to order the Grey Knights to hand over such a treasured relic -- but as an enemy, as a threat to the entire Imperium, he could force the Grand Masters of the Grey Knights Chapter to deliver him the keystone to Ghargatuloth's rebirth. Valinov was ready to die to achieve his goal and allow his master to escape the Immaterium, a plot whose foundations lay ten thousand years in the past.
During one particularly arduous psychic interrogation, Valinov let himself be beaten, feeding the interrogator the lie he had spun for the Inquisition: that only the Sword of Mandulis would be able to banish Ghargatuloth back into the Warp. Having exhausted himself almost unto death defending this lie, the gullible Inquisitors and Grand Masters of the Grey Knights believed it authentic. Believing his intelligence spent, Valinov was finally sentenced to death by dismemberment, the fate traditionally reserved for all those that committed treason against the highest authorities. Yet Valinov would escape his fate through the actions of an unsuspected ally, a Death Cultist of Ligeia's own retinue, Xiang, who would help Valinov escape both his execution and the pursuit of the Inquisitorial forces hunting them. Valinov was surprised by this outside help, and did not consider that Ligeia was perhaps pursuing her own agenda, as contemplating the ways of the Prince of a Thousand Faces may have won her over to his cause. Commandeering first a shuttle and then the Imperial merchantman Pecunia Omnis, Valinov and Xiang reached the Hive World of Volcanis Ultor to play their part in the final act of Ghargatuloth's rebirth.
Valinov and his newfound ally reached Volcanis Ultor, the most important world on the Trail of Saint Evisser which had by now fallen into anarchy. On nearly every single one of the Trail's worlds, Chaos Cults bound in service to Valinov's demonic master, Ghargatuloth, had risen up against the rule of the Imperium, save for Volcanis Ultor where the local defenders under Cardinal Rekoba expected the greatest blow to fall. Usurping his former position as an Inquisitor and using the Ordo Malleus' secrecy against itself, Gholic Ren-Sar Valinov presented himself before the gullible Cardinal Rekoba, stating that he had dire news to pass on -- that the Archenemy would shortly send its most fearsome and perverse warriors against Volcanis Ultor. He claimed these warriors were Space Marines that in cruel mockery of their once noble ideals called themselves the Grey Knights! Through lies and other machinations, Valinov succeeded in setting the defenders of Volcanis Ultor against the Grey Knights of Justicar Alaric who had been informed of Valinov's successful escape. The reason for Valinov's presence on Volcanis Ultor was simple, for here rested the corpse of Saint Evisser, an Imperial relic Ghargatuloth needed to possess in order for him to return to the material realm. Valinov's plots had already ensured that the Grey Knights would deliver to him the second holy item required for his master's apotheosis, the Sword of Mandulis, the very weapon that had banished Ghargatuloth during his last sojourn into realspace. The fratricidal bloodshed the Grey Knights would doubtlessly cause in their attempt to stop him would only ensure Ghargatuloth's rebirth.
This was precisely what happened and as Ghargatuloth was reborn, Valinov sought to claim his ultimate reward, to become a part of the Prince of a Thousand Faces, his essence and identity mingling with that of one of the most powerful daemons of the God of Change. Yet, in his moment of triumph, Valinov also encountered ruin, for through the sacrifice of Inquisitrice Ligeia and the unshakable bond of trust she had established with Alaric, the Justicar had learned Ghargatuloth's true name and now used it to weaken the reincarnated Greater Daemon while his physical form had yet to solidify. Struck down yet again by the Sword of Mandulis, the towering spiral of ever mutating flesh that was Ghargatuloth fell, weakened and direly wounded by the disciplined fire of Volcanis Ultor's Imperial defenders. Valinov's physical form, lacking his skin and hair, was vomited out onto the ground by one of the countless faces of his master's daemonic body where Justicar Alaric found him. Seizing the Renegade Inquisitor by the collar, Alaric carried out the sentence of the Conclave of the Ordo Malleus, drowning Gholic Ren-Sar Valinov in the polluted waters of Lake Rapax upon whose shores the fighting had taken place.
- Xiang - Xiang was a Death Cultist who acted as bodyguard to Inquisitrice Brei Ligeia. As one of her mistress' most trusted agents, Xiang was sent back to Jupiter to act as Ligeia's representative during Valinov's execution. None suspected that Xiang had received secret orders to help the Renegade Inquisitor escape. Becoming Valinov's right hand on his secret voyage along the Trail of Saint Evisser, Xiang abandoned him shortly after the fighting began, thus fulfilling her mistress' final order.
- Grey Knights (Novel) by Ben Counter