Hierophantus of Accentis, High Confessor of the 13th Episcopal District Edit
|Hierophantus has created a web of power within the great city of Accentis that could cosset him for the rest of his life. However, his ambition drives him for more: within the city, throughout the System, or even further. His competence and popularity as an orator and demagogue is without question. But it is his silver tongue and ability to recognise the motivations of men that may allow him to realise his ambitions in a world of Machiavellian politics.|
Known Associates Edit
The Blood of Martyrs Edit
The face of the Saint shone with the radiance of the sun. Her enemies were scattered, their faces twisted in pain. Gothic lettering described the triumphant battles of Saint Reila. The saturated colours of the stained glass continued for a thousand meters above them, telling a thousand tales of martyrdom and sacrifice. The bright swathes of colour washed into the vast nave, only to be choked by the swirling mists of incense, pyre smoke and industrial exhaust. The murmur of the faithful, far off in a public sacristy were just audible over the droning psalms of the cherubim, roosting on every flat surface as far as the eye could see. The glorious flock of St Kostis was the most famous wonder of the Aegean system. Pilgrims and the rich came to marvel at it from across the Carthaxian sector. The floor was slick with their droppings, despite the army of menials, forever mopping.
Hierophantus reached out and held a match to the devotional candle in his private alcove. The wax beaded around the wick, the wick blackened, glowed, then joined the match in flame. The alcove was decorated with exquisite inlay, showing thorns choking a bleeding heart. The blood flowed into a gold chalice. He had been gifted with this alcove, one of only a thousand private alcoves in the Cathedral, as a reward for his efforts in saving the souls of the poor unfortunates of Raustios. In addition to turning the coven against Rinta, the heretic ring leader, the resulting witchhunt had greatly strengthened the trading position of the Holy Order of St Kostis.
"The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Imperium, brother. In these dark times it is only the truth of the Emperor that sustains us, only His truth guides us."
Cardinal Resquis, dressed in the somber robes of the Kosticians, appeared silently at Hierophantus' side.
"Warriors of the glorious Emperor serve him as well in death as in life. The greatest miracle of St Reila wasn't the slaying of the Dark Beast of Skest, or the cleansing of the Etruscan hives. No, inspired by her relics here in Accentis, Vobochan regiments have slain xenos in Judda, crushed heretics in Thrace, founded colonies at the galactic fringe, spreading the glorious light of the Emperor."
"St Reila was not without her detractors. Heretics attempted to bear false witness against her. The righteous fury of our forebears silenced their pathetic mewling with cleansing fire. There will be those who seek too to discredit this Aeslin. These lies must be drowned before they do harm. You will direct the sword that cleaves the head from her detractors."
"It is the fate of all men to pass, and if we are fortunate, it will be in the service of the Emperor. When her time comes to be lifted into His arms, you must claim her remains on behalf of the one True way."
Hierophantus nodded imperceptibly, bowed the decreed angle for his rank, and turned to leave. A little way off Castor Pollux fell into step behind as he passed.
The Prophecy of Zaltazar Edit
Lightning forked through the black sky, piercing the vast waves of the Mare Sanctus Celestine. The ferocious spume detonating along the cliffs was briefly illuminated. The roar of thunder competed with the muffled impacts of salt water with rock. The winter hermitage of Cardinal Simeon was outlined against the flickering clouds. Castor Protus watched his brooding master with concern. The sedan chair rocked, perhaps as a servitor stumbled on the loose shale.
"Cardinal Simeon will be the next Pontiff, Castor. His influence is subtle but extensive. While the other cardinals bicker and scheme against each other, they all respect Simeon's teachings on Scripture, Law and Politics. They don't believe a hermit will stand for Office. But when the time is right, he will."
A servitor opened the sedan door, rivulets of water running down its plastic robes. Hierophantus stepped out into the rain. The two travellers climbed the last 100 meters up the steep, narrow steps to the door of the hermitage. The cold rain slashed at their faces. Quickly their robes were sodden. The door opened as they arrived, and closed quietly behind them.
The Lux Imperator burning on Hierophantus' shoulders were the only source of light save a small candle, guttering in the turbulence from the storm. From the adjoining cell a hunched figure approached.
"The Beast roared and fed and there was much suffering for the children of Cuiria and the children of Alkiya and the children of Eurazia. And they wept and tore at their hair and rent their flesh. And a mighty warrior rose up and stood before the Beast. And the Beast offered the warrior a choice. The first choice was to dual as enemies, and that battle would consume the system where they stood and each adjacent system and each proximal system. The second choice was to join the Beast and face the Coming Storm, the Devouring Mouth that Consumes All."
Cardinal Simeon's pinched face was just visible under his deep cowl. His eyes flashed in the glare of the Lux.
"Those were the last words of the witch Zaltazar. The flames around him then detonated the powder bags around his neck. For 200 years those words have meant nothing. Probably they mean nothing still. Travel to Ilithyia. Ensure that if this warrior is tempted, she does not follow the other path."
The city sprawled to the horizon in every direction. Factories, Administratum buildings, fat and squat barely visible below writhing moats of fog. Glorious temples of the Cult of the Living Emperor skewered the mists to reach for the heavens. To the south, a stream of lifters carried faithful recruits to Vobochan cruisers in high dock, soon to depart for the Alkyian subsector. The tangled mess of comms units and docking ports always reminded Hierophantus of spine bushes. Flies would be attracted by their sickly sweet smell and would dance, searching for a safe place to land, become desperate, alight on some twig and be impaled on some unseen spine. Impaled in sweet embrace and absorbed, digested where they stood.
The opulence of the spire-top mansion, with its hide furnishings, hard wood finish, discrete gold and bone detailing suggested the same sickly sweet attraction of power. Cardinal Welsleigh, the same suggestion of fatal embrace.
"So, brother," he crooned.
"You have been chosen as the envoy of Vobos to this Saint of Theklia. A powerful ally no doubt." Welsliegh refilled Hierophantus' wine glass. The wine was exquisite.
"I personally vouched for you to secure you this role. I expect that when you return with the Saint to lead the Crusade, you will not forget your friends who have offered you this opportunity. Remember the Brothers of St Liucius. We have supported you greatly. And will always be nearby."