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- "I am damned: it is a truth that I cannot escape. It is the greatest pain I have ever born, but it is also the truest sacrifice I have ever made in the service of the Emperor and the Imperium."
- — from the confession of Inquisitor Lord Godella Morn, 745.M40
Born in the fires of the "War of Brass" that wracked the Calixis Sector in late M40, the Oblationist faction is an oath-sworn society of bitter fanatics who wield warp-forged weapons, bind daemons, and command the power of sorcerers with a self-hating fury that sees all in the Inquisition but their own creed as utterly impure, corrupt, and deserving of destruction. Their infamy long outstripping their numbers, the notorious Oblationist Inquisitors and their trusted servants have determined to sacrifice themselves in the cause of the protection of the Imperium, regardless of the cost. Consumed with vengeful wrath and fanatic certainty, they gather profane artifacts, hoard forbidden knowledge, and wield the powers of the warp whilst tolerating no others to use such methods. Their intolerance of all other Radicals has much in common with the most Puritanical factions; they believe that only the Oblationists may wield the weapons and knowledge of the enemy and remain true in the service of the God-Emperor. They are unbending in their belief and ruthless in all aspects of its application.
Unlike many other factions, the origins of the Oblationists can be traced back to a single individual and a single moment in time. In 738.M41, the so-called "War of Brass" erupted, engulfing the Calixis Sector in one of the worst conflicts seen since the days of the Angevin Crusade. The hive worlds of the Gelmiro Cluster fell into sedition following the charismatic leadership of a figure calling himself the "Emperor of Brass," debasing themselves into the worship of the Ruinous Powers. Heavily militarised, the renegades quickly sponsored and armed rebel groups on worlds throughout the sector. When counter-attacked, these groups revealed the hand of dark forces drawn from the Eye of Terror in their number. For five years, the entire sector was dragged into bloody warfare, and the Calixian Inquisition itself suffered heavy losses in the fray. During the aftermath, the Calixian Conclave became riven by schism and division in its own ranks.
Following the War of Brass, the chief tenants of Puritanism in the Calixian Conclave were shaken to the core by the excommunication and execution of Inquisitor Lord Godella Morn. Morn was a noted Monodominant who had based every endeavour of her long and distinguished career on unbending Puritanism and intolerance of any deviation or heresy. The event that was to trigger this crisis of belief was the discovery that Morn had been practicing sorcery and the malefic arts in secret for centuries as a secret Xanthite of fearsome ability. She had made pacts with dark forces to grant her ever-increasing power. Her denunciation before a gathered Conclave of Inquisitor Lords drawn from across the Segmentum was extraordinary: far from denying the accusations, Morn confessed that she had embraced the corruption of the Warp and used the tools of Chaos, xenos, and heretics as her own. She also, however, fiercely professed her belief in the tenants of Monodomination. She was, she said, an "Oblationist" rather than a fallen Xanthite; she had willingly damned herself so that she could act on her beliefs “in truth rather than in wishful dreaming.” Inquisitor Lord Morn faced her excommunication and execution by immersion in molten brass without flinching.
The heresy and death of Godella Morn sent a shockwave through the Calixian conclave of the day. Inquisitors of all ranks could not comprehend how such a stalwart puritan could countenance such a heretical doctrine as she had professed. Many, after reflection, came to the conclusion that Chaos is infinitely subtle and its arts can claim the brightest and most pure, and saw Morn’s fall as an object lesson and memento mori. Many Radicals secretly laughed, venturing that the truth of their philosophies come to all in time, and that Puritanism can only be indulged by those blind to the war that the Inquisition wages. The story of Morn’s fate and her professed beliefs, however, had a profound effect on a small core of Puritans in the Conclave that was both traumatic and transforming: Inquisitor Lord Morn had been of such complete dedication to her task that her words and actions could only be the product of madness. Yet Morn had shown no sign of madness. Quite the contrary, she had seemed rational and clear throughout her excommunication and went to her pyre willingly for her crimes. These Inquisitors argued that if she was not mad, then her arguments and final testament must be considered, and as they saw her consumed in molten fire, many faced the grim realisation that she must be right -- the choice they faced was between wilful damnation and ineffectual idealism. In that moment, in the death of Inquisitor Lord Morn and her challenge to the paradox of Puritanism, the Oblationist faction was born in fire, death, and sorrow.
Death in the OrdosEdit
The first generation of Oblationists to come after the executed Lord Inquistor Morn were like most other factionists; individuals seized by conviction and individual flair. Most were previously staunch Puritans -- the force of Godella Morns proclamation, that the power of the warp was utterly corrupting and that those that used it, even in necessity were damned, were taken as central pillar of the radical path they had committed themselves to. Many of the nascent Oblationists were consumed by the powers that they tried to wield -- going mad or falling into shadow and thralldom to dark gods. Those that survived were secretive fanatics of the most unforgiving kind. They fell upon each other with sorcery, occult weapons, and hatred. Each saw the other not as bound by the same creed but as a corrupt and worthy only of death. Many Inquisitors and acolytes, seen as tainted by this new brand of fanatic Radicals, were slain.
The survival of the Oblationist creed amongst the Calixian Inquisition stood for some decades on a knife edge, poised either to consume itself in its own fanaticism or grow and strengthen enough to exist beyond its violent birth. The change that allowed Oblationists to survive came in the form of a nameless Inquisitor who saw what must be done to end the bloodbath. Firstly, this unknown founder hid his identity and the true nature of his conviction beneath a mask that has never been discovered, a lesson he passed on to others. Secondly, he saw that there was only one way for Oblationists to not slaughter each other, and that was by binding them together by a common oath that put those who had taken that oath outside of the necessity of being purged. Finally, this nameless visionary saw that neither secrecy nor unity could be achieved with any who called themselves Oblationists at that time. There was only one answer: they must all be killed. One by one those who had cleaved to Oblationism were eliminated in a slow campaign of discovery and murder that spanned two centuries. In the end, the ground was cleared -- only one, nameless Oblationist still existed. That nameless one tutored others in the creed of the Oblationist and taught them the dark arts that they must wield. In so doing, each apprentice in Oblationism was bound by an oath; the Oath of Oblation. In secret, master taught apprentice and bound him with oaths, and in turn, the apprentices became masters and bound others to the Oath. Thus, through murder and secrecy, Oblationism survived.
The Purgation of the Serrated QueryEdit
Oblationism is rare and relatively new creed, and its adherents did not appear within the bounds of the Calixis Sector until many centuries after the final battles of the Angevin Crusade. One of its first acts (once it had gained some measure of stability) was to begin a secert war of annihilation with one of the oldest and most intransigent recidivist organisations within the sector -- the Serrated Query. Inquisitors Ixon and Cordul had dedicated their careers to the complete destruction of the Serrated Query. Having hunted them across the stars, the pair came to the Calixis Sector and found a royal nest of their prey. Upon arrival, they joined the fledgling Oblationist sect to seek the means to do what they had never been able to do before -- meet and vanquish the cult on its own terms. With the help of their new allies, the two Inquisitors worked in silence and shadows. They unleashed a flock of their most trusted and deadly servants and charged them with the destruction of every last member or associate of the Query. This shadow reaping occurred at the turning of the 801st year of the 41st millennium, and for several months, none within the Serrated Query would have realised that a murderous force was bearing down on them like the silent fall of a headsman’s axe. The oathed acolytes of Ixon and Cordul needed knowledge, the kind of knowledge that takes months or years to gather. Rather than waste time, they went to work obtaining it from those most likely to have it -- the Inquisitors and acolytes of the Calixian Conclave. Kidnapping, torture, theft, and the psychic flaying of truth from minds, were the primary tools employed in this pursuit. The Oblationist acolytes were so efficient that they obtained all the necessary information for the real operation whilst the Calixis Conclave struggled to respond.
The servants of Inquisitors Ixon and Cordul had all they needed and moved like a murderous ghosts through the Query’s membership and allies. Nobles, merchants, and crime bosses vanished. Merchant craft and war ships were destroyed. The corrupt pawns and secret allies of the Serrated Query went into hiding against the onslaught, only to be assassinated and hunted down in seemingly impossible circumstances. So grave was the damage to every level of the Serrated Query in the Calixis Sector that their complete extinction seemed inevitable. Then, just before the final death blow could be struck, the onslaught stopped. Overnight, the two Inquisitors and all their secret acolytes had vanished as if consumed by some great predatory beast disturbed from its slumber by their activities.
Pure Yet DamnedEdit
At the core of the Oblationist creed is the total conviction that the power of the warp is corrupting without exception or degree: all touched by it are damned. Yet these powers are the most powerful weapon against the enemies that conspire to consume mankind. The Oblationist sees the decision to wield daemon weapons, bind unhallowed servants, and learn the arts of the sorcerer -- or abstaining from such methods—as a choice between damnation and the sacred duty to the God- Emperor. To this choice there are two possible responses: to withhold one’s hands from the weapons of the enemy and remain pure and impotent, or to damn oneself by taking up those weapons. To the Oblationist, this is no choice at all; their own purity is nothing but a tool to be used or sacrificed in the service of the Emperor. A pure servant of the Emperor, who offers his very soul in His cause, may bend the weapons of Chaos to serve Mankind. Oblationists believe that others should not use Chaos, and that only those who sacrifice their purity to wield Chaos against itself in the knowledge that they are damned can truly serve the Emperor.
The Annihilation of SelfEdit
Becoming an Oblationist is an act of self-annihilation in which the past is burnt away, faith voided, and a new life begun in bitterness and the ashes of purity. Taking up the weapons of the enemy is an act that damns any that dare to experiment. Oblationists believe that their own damnation is an inviolable truth, and so see that in daring to take up the weapons of the enemy their lives are forfeit and their souls tainted. This is a sacrifice they gladly make in the God-Emperor's name. From the moment an Oblationist takes up the weapons of the enemy, they believe they are separated from the one thing that gives their life any meaning; purity in the sight of the God-Emperor of Mankind. They are undone, and their souls shattered by what they believe they must do. In the creed of the Oblationists, the moment at which a servant of the Emperor willingly accepts damnation, and the loss of their soul, is a moment at which they must accept that they are dead. All their hopes, fears, and dreams are annihilated in the act of willing damnation. From this moment on, all that they were is gone, and they rise reborn as a damned thing of fury and righteous purpose.
Service of the Oblationist creed is one surrounded by ceremony and secrecy, their hidden rites maintained and passed down by those few who survive long in the creed’s pursuit. Commonly, their ceremonies are surrounded with the mournful trappings of a funeral and replete with images of death and the damnation of the soul. Some Oblationist Inquisitors present their would-be aspirants with an unholy relic as a final test and expose them to powers both malign and terrible and see if they survive: pitting them against a bound daemon that can only be defeated by taking up an unhallowed weapon, or possessing their body with a daemon that they must force out of themselves. All of these ceremonies, however varied, culminate with the Oath of Oblation: an oath to suffer no other who is not “of the Oath of Oblation” and has truck with the unholy or profane, and to destroy the unclean without mercy by any means and method. Many Oblationists take new names at the point that they make the Oath of Oblation to represent the passing of what they were and their rebirth among the damned.
Those of the OathEdit
Unlike many other factions within the Inquisition, the Oblationists function as a secret cadre of Inquisitors and their most trusted servants. At any given time, there may be no more than a handful of Oblastionist Inquistors in operation in the Calixis Sector, and the majority of those are often believed dead by their former comrades in the Ordos. Others unknowingly serve Oblationists, but trust is only ever given to those “of the Oath,” and only this select number are spared the brutal judgement of the Oblationist creed. For any other who succumbs to the temptations of the warp, the heresies of the witch, or the lies of the alien are summarily sentenced to death. Even those within the Inquisition who fall to Radicalism are considered beyond redemption or toleration, even though they may use methods that Oblationists may use themselves; if an Inquisitor employs the tools of the enemy and is not “of the oath,” then they are just another heretic who must be destroyed.
It is through the Oath of Oblation and the sect’s other hidden rites that the Oblationist faction perpetuates its creed and traditions. One Oblationist Inquisitor will draw his apprentices from amongst his Oathed servants, school them in the nuances of the Oblationist creed, and—if they prove true in their service—he will raise them to the rosette and make them full Inquisitors. In time, these new Inquisitors will oath acolytes to the Oblationist creed, and the cycle continues, creating as it does a fine web of master-to-apprentice bonds that are what allows the Oblationist faction to survive and (on occasion) act to a common end.
Inquisitors often operate alone, relying on their own acolytes and vassals, and only rarely are drawn to work together in a cell or close knit cabal. In this matter, Oblationists are no different, and in fact usually shun the company of their fellow Inquisitors and rarely become drawn into the concerns of an established cabal or conclave. Oblationists are loath to trust and are suspicious of the purity and intent of all who are not bound by the Oath of Oblation. They do, however, on occasion operate in concert with other Inquisitors who are “of the oath,” though this is often only possibly because of bonds of trust that have been hard won over time: the Oath of Oblation may bind them to abstain from destroying one another, but it does not demand the bestowing of trust.
Fury and DaemonologyEdit
Those who are bound by the Oath of Oblation are driven by a fury that can tolerate neither sin, nor deviation, nor lapse in purity. This righteous anger is fuelled by the bitterness of having lost that which others throw away. The Oblationist has damned himself and destroyed his purity so that he can serve the Emperor, while the lost and damned that he hunts have fallen not for duty, but because they are selfish, deluded, and weak. Not only are they blasphemous, but they have scorned the purity that the Oblationist craves and can never again have. The creed and nature of Oblationists offers heretics no second chances, no redemption, only judgement and death. The primary aim, therefore, of Oblationist operations is to root out the heretic, witch, and daemon and destroy it. Given that even knowing of the heretical methods the Oblationists use could in itself cause corruption, their operations are carried out in secret so that the heresy is consumed as if by an invisible inferno that leaves no trace of its passing except the total destruction of an enemy of the Imperium.
The tools of an Oblationist and his Oathed servants may wield include those of the heretic, alien, and witch. However, above all, Oblationists are masters of sorcery, binding daemons, and the wielding of warp-forged weapons against their enemies. These weapons and knowledge have been taken over millennia from the hands and minds of heretics and are passed down from one Inquisitor to another, often at the moment that they take the Oath of Oblation. Oblationists use more than just daemon swords or tomes of dark lore to achieve their ends. Many use heretics as pawns or even unwitting servants, for these individuals are simply another form of blasphemous tool that they must use to perform their duty—but in the end, they too must be judged and purged when they have served their purpose.
The Oblationists are very few in number, and adherents to their creed tend towards a narrowness of view that is like the focused blast of a lascannon; searingly bright and destructive, but brief. There are few active Oblationists at any one time, and therefore, the efforts of these Inquisitors and their acolytes are more concentrated and definite than many of those of other more numerous factions. Like many others, the Oblationists are concerned with the manifestation of the Tyrant Star. However, their focus is not that of others who are racing to understand, tame, or thwart the baleful power of the Black Sun. Instead, the Oblationists' current conspiracies focus on matters that are central to the obsession of their creed—the destruction of the corrupt within the Holy Ordos and the slaying of the greatest beast that threatens the domains of the God Emperor of Mankind.
The Annihilation of the Calixian ConclaveEdit
To a significant proportion of the Oblationists, it is a clear and manifest truth that the Calixian Conclave and its associated cabals, covens, and factions are becoming increasingly corrupt and led into damnation and disaster. The tendrils of corruption they see are imbedded deep within the flesh, minds, and souls of almost all the Inquisitors within the sector, and nothing short of a total purge will rid the taint. The true nature and cause of this slowly spreading taint is unknown to the Oblationists, but understanding it is not required. Realising that it is there is enough for them. For the most extreme Oblationists, there is only one possible solution—the Calixian Conclave must be annihilated. There may exist some few who are untainted or who do not realise they are thralled to ruination, but that is not enough to call into question what must be done. It is a bitter undertaking, but Oblationists are eaters of ash and sorrow, willing to do what must be done and pay the price of damnation and pain. Such an undertaking is not achieved swiftly, for those of the Oath in the sector are few and cannot hope to hunt down and kill all of their brother and sister Inquisitors one at a time. So, in the dark, the most fanatical and destructive of their number are seeking to bring about cataclysmic events that they hope will necessitate drawing together the conclave in one place and time. At that moment, the Oblationists will be ready to do what they must, for the sake of all.
The Pursuit of the Servants of TwilightEdit
Oblationists have made it their cause to hunt a quarry that they believe threatens the existence of everyone and everything within the Calixis Sector. This enemy is considered by even their fellow Inquisitors to be a phantom, a myth, or a nightmare tale told by those who are themselves things of nightmare. This quarry may have no true name, but those who whisper its legend call its agents the Servants of Twilight. The Servants of Twilight haunt the dreams of heretics and monsters, and are said to be possessed of terrible power. Theirs is the power to see your every thought, assume any form, kill at a glance, and steal the sun from the sky should they wish it. To most within the Holy Ordos, the Servants of Twilight are nothing more than a tale that has grown in the telling, and been lent credence by heretics using it as a cloak for their own designs. To some, however, the Servants of Twilight are no myth but the greatest of threats hidden beneath the absurdity of the tale. The Oblationist pursuit of the Servants of Twilight is championed by Antonia Mesmeron and her disciples, and it is for this elusive quarry that the Daemonhunter is willing to risk exposure and destruction at the hands of fellow Inquisitors. Whilst these cults are considered by most as nothing more than a story or, at best a cover for some more established threat, Mesmeron understands the terrible truth—as only one who has ripped that lore from a daemon’s lips can.
Oblationists and the Holy OrdosEdit
Oblationists are untrusting, solitary figures whose existence is likely to become threatened if their true allegiance becomes widely known in the Conclave. As a result, they prefer to pursue their own ends in isolation from their fellow Inquisitors, as public espousal of this creed courts immediate destruction at the hands of more mainstream puritans within the Holy Ordos, and the attentions of other, darker rivals. This means that most Oblationists claim no direct association with any single Ordo and pursue a lone wolf existence as roving Inquisitors which aids them in maintaining their independence of action. This is also, in part, a consequence of the implicit arrogance of the Oblationist creed which labels all others within the Ordos as either vile heretics, ineffectual weaklings, or deluded at best. Those that do not hide behind the shroud of a false death pay only lip service to wider Inquisitorial authority. They interact with Inquisitorial politics or power-play as little as possible, and seldom meet even with those of their own faction unless they see a pressing need to do so. True fanatics, they believe that diluting their sacred efforts with the concerns of other, less enlightened Inquisitors is a waste of time that is fast running out.
Of those few Oblationists that do maintain association with one of the Ordos of the Calixian Conclave, most can be found within the Ordo Malleus or more rarely the Ordo Hereticus, but keep their true creed a guarded secret from their fellows. The Malleus Oblationists view threat of Chaos as the Great Enemy that stands above all others in the path of human survival. The destruction of daemon-cults is an obsession for these Oblationists that overrides other lesser hatreds, and of course the resources of the Ordo Malleus also offer them opportunities to obtain new and greater weapons to wield against the enemies of the Imperium. In the past, a handful of Oblationists who are particularly concerned with the corruption of their brethren find their seat amongst the witch hunters of the Ordo Hereticus. There are, however, a few Oblationists who see the enemy without as a force of subtle corruption and as a powerful threat. These Oblationists turn their daemon-forged blades and creed of bitterness against the conspiracies and dark legacies of alien races both living and dead.
The Oblationists and other Inquisitorial FactionsEdit
The Oblationist creed only allows for any in the wider Holy Ordos who have not taken the Oath of Oblation to be considered either feeble and wilfully blind to the truth, or corrupted and damned by their radicalism. As such, the relationship of the Oblationist faction to any other within the Inquisition is at best one of contempt on their part and usually one of antagonism, if not outright hostility. The two factions that can easily be counted as the Oblationists' most obvious and violent enemies are the Monodominant Puritans and the Xanthite Radicals. Oblationists share Monodominant fanaticism and intolerance of all forms of sin, corruption, and deviancy. To Monodominants, however, the Radical methods of the Oblationist make them just as corrupt as any other Radical, and their professions of sacrificing their purity are nothing but the excuses of a heretic who lies even to himself. Oblationists, in turn, are wary of Monodominants, but see them as well meaning but naive children who cannot see the sacrifices that serving the God-Emperor requires. Xanthites, by contrast, are corrupt and vile things who claim to be able to wield the powers of the warp and remain pure. To the Oblationist -- who is eaten by the bitterness of having sacrificed his purity -- the arrogance and blindness of Xanthites provokes as much anger as their methods. Ironically, these methods are much like those of the Oblationists themselves.
Other Puritan factions such the Amalathians or Thorians view the Oblationists as crazed and supremely dangerous fanatics who are blessedly a minor feature of factionalism with the Inquisition. In turn, the Oblationists barely see the concerns of these factions as worthy of comment. The same indifference cannot be said to exist between other Radical factions and the Oblationists. Most Radical factions who make use of proscribed knowledge, blasphemous allies, or forbidden technology view the Oblationists with a mixture or fear and contempt. They have fought a number of vicious battles for survival against an Oblationist's onslaught, Xanthites being the faction’s favoured prey above all. The philosophies and designs of the Recongregators and Istvaanians are less inflammatory to Oblationist -- not usually being tainted with direct manipulation of the powers of the warp or xenos profanity -- but this makes them, to the Oblationists mindset, merely the weakest form of heretic, still worthy of cleansing for their sins but hardly priority targets in the main.
Acolytes of the OblationistsEdit
The Acolytes of Oblationists can be divided broadly into two camps: those who have taken the Oath of Oblation and those who have not. Those who are not of the Oath may know that they serve the Inquisition as Acolytes but are ignorant of the secret Radicalism of their master or mistress. These Acolytes operate in cadres that usually resemble those of a Puritan Inquisitor and will include those of staunch faith in the Emperor, heroic nature, and who have no tolerance of that which is heretical or corrupt. These Acolytes are kept separate from their Inquisitor’s other, more trusted brethren who have taken the Oath of Oblation and wield forbidden weapons and knowledge. In time, should the unknowing Acolytes prove to be of the correct rigour of faith and dedication, they too may be chosen, and the truth revealed to them.
The second variety of Oblationist Acolyte are those bound to their master’s Radical creed and have taken its cause as their own. Formed into groups called Oathed Cadres, these groups act as the Oblationists' strong right arm. These cadres are made up of holy warriors clad in warded armour and bearing daemon-bound weapons, sallow priests who study the profane and wield the powers of sorcery, and fanatic assassins and burnt-out savants all but crippled by the secrets they have bear. To most Oblationist Inquisitors, the men and women of their oath-sworn cadres are both their loyal apprentices and unflinching comrades in arms, individuals worthy in their master’s sight who have followed him willingly into damnation out of duty to the God-Emperor—not mere disposable servants to be sacrificed or squandered without cause.
Beyond both the unoathed and sworn Acolytes of an Oblationist, the faction is often apt to use unwitting hirelings and mercenaries as both agents and, where needed, cannon fodder. These ignorant servants are nothing to the Oblationist Inquisitor but an expedient set of tools with which he can accomplish an end. Favoured minions in this regard include hired guns, criminals, and even heretics, mutants, and witches. Their real master's nature unknown to them, each is led to believe that he serves instead a powerful criminal faction, noble house, or even a cult rather than the Holy Ordos. Although these recidivists and mercenaries may be the service of an Oblationist for years, even decades, they are ultimately expendable. Once their usefulness has ended, most will be simply eliminated by the Oblationists' Oathed Cadres or betrayed to the authorities. After all, the cause they serve does not excuse their crimes.
- Antonia Mesmeron - Antonia Mesmeron is a follower of the obscure Oblationist school of Radicalism. She believes that the powers of the warp, the weapons of the alien, and the devices of the unclean are utterly corrupting and any who truck with them must face the ultimate sanction. Yet to the Oblationist, only through the weapons of the enemy can the enemy be defeated and so those of pure soul must embrace the damnation and sacrifice themselves for the future of the Imperium. Her unknown master passed this doctrine to Mesmeron long ago, and her conviction in its truth has only deepened in the years that she has roamed the stars seeking out the weak and misguided who have fallen to the temptations of the warp or the whispers of the alien. Her approach is that of a righteous executioner who rips out heresy root and branch when it is discovered without remorse or distinction of innocence. Wielding weapons of unspeakable horror and sorcerous power, she usually personally removes the root of a heresy and instigates a storm of purges that removes any possibility of corruption remaining. Then, as quickly as it began, the storm passes and Mesmeron is gone.
- Dark Heresy: Disciples of the Dark Gods (RPG), pg. 185
- Dark Heresy: The Radical's Handbook (RPG), pp. 111-116