Order of the Martyred Heart
|Order of the Martyred Heart|
|Battle Cry The Litany of Sacrifice|
|Daughters of||Order of the Valorous Heart|
|Colours||Black, Red, and Gold|
An order of Aztec-themed sisters who recruit from the local populace of their homeworld instead of the Schola Progenium, putting their aspirants through a grueling contest known as the Dark Road to the Sun. The Dark Road to the Sun is also used by the Blood Jaguars chapter to recruit future Space Marines, so suffice to say these sisters are a bit tougher than most. They also have a stash of volkite weapons.
The World of Tenocit
Tenocit, homeworld of the sisters of the Martyred Heart, is a hive world unlike virtually any other, for instead of pollution-choked wastelands, the landscape of the planet is verdant primordial jungle. Tendrils of creepers and dense forest reach right up to the very walls around most hives on Tenocit, save for the planetary capital of Technochtitlan, which is situated at the centre of a vast lake. Technochtitlan Hive is separated into four sections; the Spire of the Stars being the primary spaceport, the Spire of the Sun being dedicated to the Ecclesiarchy, the Spire of Offerings houses the planetary governor and Administratum, and the Spire of the Earth is where workers live. The Hives of Tenocit are much more pyramidal than most Imperial Hives, which seems to have its roots in the cultural practices of the native peoples in the Age of Strife.
Tenocit’s unusually verdant geography owes its survival to two factors. The first is the high oxygen content of the atmosphere; around 38% as opposed to a more typical 21% on colonised worlds. This would be of little consequence if not for the second factor, which is a unique fungus, Mortem Sacco, that grows around the roots of most trees on Tenocit. This heterotroph looks unremarkable at first, save for the bulbous sack-like growths that characterise it, but it is how it produces these tubers that makes it invaluable. The fungus actively absorbs heavy metals and harmful chemicals from the soil and air, storing them in the growths it produces. When full, the sealed bulbs drop off and, protected by a tough shell, remain safely isolated for decades. The fungus does this for two reasons; the first is simply survival; by removing these harmful substances from the soil, the trees the fungus needs to grow on are more likely to survive and reach new heights. The other is that the storage of these materials is simply a by-product of the fungus taking in nutrients for itself.
The Imperium naturally has seen the value of Mortem Sacco and several unsuccessful attempts have been made to transplant the fungus to the many Imperial worlds choked by pollution. Unfortunately, Mortem Sacco requires a high level of atmospheric oxygen to survive, and on all the worlds it has been taken to thus far, it has failed to take hold. For the inhabitants of Tenocit, the fungus is considered a blessing from the Sun Emperor and the bulbs are regularly collected from accessible regions of jungle and brought to the Hives, where they are crushed and the industrial useful substances within them extracted. Collection of the bulbs can be highly profitable; one consortium has risen to the status of the nobility solely through harvesting.
Tenocit has many unusual species of flora and fauna, from the jewelled rotorbird to the mighty Onyaguara. The Onyaguara (Panthera Tenoceta) is a solitary, opportunistic, stalk-and-ambush predator at the top of the Tenocit food chain, and the Animal most commonly associated with the Blood Jaguars. A compact and well-muscled animal well adapted to Tenocit's Jungles, the Onyaguara is an opportunistic hunter and its diet encompasses at least 87 species, including unfortunate aspirants who happen to be too close to a hungry Onyaguara. An Aspirant who succeeds in escaping one is seen as marked by the Sun Emperor for great things. The Onyaguara has long been a symbol of power and strength to the nobles of Tenocit.
The Dark Road to the Sun
The path to becoming a Sister of the Martyred Heart or a Blood Jaguar is not an easy one. The Jaguars and Sisters will only commence training when an aspirant has completed a long and dangerous task known as the Dark Road to the Sun. It is as much a spiritual journey as it is a physical one, and an aspirant who is deficient in either soul or body will not complete it. It is also a hidden journey, for the Blood Jaguars only reveal the first step. The rest must be uncovered by the aspirant.
Each year in the major hives, a contest known as the Ascent to Heaven is held. The objective seems simple enough; the contestants must start at the base of their Hive and ascend all the way to the very top spire. But three things make this task immeasurably harder. The first is that they cannot use any kind of transport. The second is that captured beasts from the jungle wilds are released into the Hive streets. The final is that the only weapons allowed are obsidian knives. Citizens in the Hive not participating in the contest remain either in their habs, or safely behind barricades. It goes without saying that normal life more or less ceases in the Hives when the festival is held, making the period a time of relaxation and recreation. The progress of the contestants is also eagerly followed, with live footage of their progress broadcast throughout the Hive.
Typically the finest contestants take around one week to reach the top of their Hive. When they reach the summit, the first ten to arrive find a lone figure waiting for them, clad in power armour. Typically this is the only chance that a citizen will ever see one of the elusive Blood Jaguars, and the competition for this honour is fierce. The giant will say nothing until presented with a feather, skull, or talon from a beast killed during the Ascent. If such a trophy is shown, the Blood Jaguar will speak these words and these words only: “The Dark Road awaits. You must walk it until you reach the Sun. Your first step has been taken. Seek now the Pyramids where blood was once spilled. They will lead you to your goal.”
These may seem like vague instructions, but it is not so. Nearby to each major hive is a Pyramid Altar in the jungle, typically overgrown and half consumed by greenery. Once, they were where the beating hearts of criminals were torn out and offered to the gods, but after the Long Night and the Inquisition’s arrival on Tenocit in the aftermath, the practice was deemed heretical and was suppressed. Their location is well known to locals of the Hive, but they are almost never visited, for fear of punishment by the Ecclesiarchy. Unbeknownst to the Inquisition however, the Blood Jaguars have co-opted the Pyramid Altars for their own purposes, inscribing the history of their chapter into the walls of these shrines, as well as the information needed to continue down the Dark Road.
Each altar contains information about how to reach the next Pyramid, but typically the information is only made clear if the aspirant has deciphered previous inscriptions. For example, one Pyramid tells the aspirant to “Seek out the place where rage consumed us”. These directions are useless without the knowledge that it was at the Monastery of the Gods that the Fourth Company succumbed to the Black Rage and were wiped out during the Long Night, and the location of the Monastery, both of which are inscribed on previous Pyramids.
The Dark Road eventually ends at the ruined Hive of Xolotl, deep in the wilderness. At the orders of the Inquisition the location of the Hive has been permanently removed from all records and maps due to the Daemonic incursion that occurred there, and as such it is not an easy place to find. The jungle has consumed the once mighty Hive, and now its appearance resembles that of a great outcrop of rock in the canopy, with trees, vines and creepers riddled through its structure. Inside, predators stalk along roads that once held bustling crowds, and fetid ponds accumulate in ancient cisterns. Here and there, traces of the titanic battle can be seen, but fears of lingering Daemonic forces are unfounded. The truth about what happened at Xolotl may have been suppressed, yet local superstition and folklore are not so easily covered up.
The Road is cyclical in nature. Now that the Aspirant has reached the final stage of their journey, he or she must complete the same step they took at the beginning, only this time, there is no waiting medicae to tend their wounds should they fall, and no easy pathways through the tangled maze of collapsed steel and crushing roots. Now they understand why the Blood Jaguars choose their members in this way. Just as the Jaguar themselves fought their way from the earth towards the sun, against impossible foes, so must the aspirant do the same. If the reach the top, they will emerge from darkness into the light, just as Tenocit did when C’rtez was slain. And waiting for them will be two figures. One they will recognise as a Blood Jaguar, but the other may be a mystery. Clad in power armour of a different kind, the figure is clearly female. She is a member of the Adepta Sororitas, of the Order of the Martyred Heart, and she will take any female who has walked the Dark Road with her instead. The Order considers knowledge of the Blood Jaguar’s history to be vital to understanding Tenocit and why the Order is important, and the process will have weeded out those lacking in faith. But first, aspirants of either sex face questions. Their knowledge of the inscriptions they have read will be tested, and if they are found lacking, they have failed. They may walk the path once more to gain its knowledge and try again.
If they pass the Test of Knowledge, the Test of Faith follows. The aspirant must offer up a bulb of Mortem Sacco which is then cracked open. Inside, most of the putrid chemicals and metals that the fungus has leeched out of the soil are mixed with psychotropic compounds by a Librarian. Each aspirant must then breathe the fumes in deeply. In their minds, they are transported to the past. They see the skies darken, and the screaming mobs tearing their flesh in the streets of the Hives. They see the altars running red with blood, but for each heart that is offered up, the heavens grow darker. They see the forces of the Great Enemy emerging from the jungles and the desperate battles against them. They see the Battle of the Monastery, where the Black Rage cost a Chapter its Master. Finally, they are placed in the Hive of Xolotl, on the day that C’rtez manifested. Male aspirants see themselves clad in the armour of Blood Jaguar, females as Sororitas. They must fight the battle as their forebears did, and this is no mock battle either. If you are slain in the dream, the best you can hope for is to wake up and find you have failed the test. It is not unheard of for aspirants to go insane from what they see and experience.
When C’rtez is slain and the Long Night ended, the dream ends, and the aspirants must face one final challenge, the Test of Strength. The dregs of poison in the Mortem Sacco pods they carried up the Hive are ingested. This represents the battle against corruption that any Blood Jaguar or Sororitas must face. The industrial sludge and metals will kill the weak, just as corruption will. Some fail at this final step. They will be revived and purged of the toxins, and allowed to walk the path once more. Strength can take time to gain. Perhaps with another journey, such strength can be found.
With success, the aspirant is deemed worthy. They have walked the Dark Road, and come through darkness; the forest canopy, their ignorance of Tenocit’s true history, the Long Night and the ruined Hive of Xolotl, and they have emerged into the light of the Sun. They have been reborn. Now they will be inducted into the ranks of the Sororitas or the Blood Jaguars, where their training to fight the Sun Emperor’s myriad enemies will begin. They will travel to distant stars to fight unknown foes. But always the Light of the Sun Emperor will be with them. And if they fall in His service, their sacrifice shall not be in vain. For as always, Sacrifice Brings Salvation.
Every year, many youths travel to attempt to climb the pyramid of the gods, to be chosen to become a Blood Jaguar. Both boys and girls set off, but only boys arrive at the pyramid for the rite of ascension. Stories and rumour spread from hive to hive, talking about horrific monsters that prey on those who travel in the thick jungle, or of the women being chosen by the Blood Jaguars as their brides.
The truth of the matter is a well kept secret.
On the far side of the planet from the Blood Jaguars' fortress monastery lies the small convent of the Order of the Martyred Heart, located on an island in the middle of a colossal river. The Sisters track down each girl attempting to do what none have before done, and seize them, taking them back to their convent, where they are raised and trained in the ways of the Martyred Heart. Bizarre and horrific rituals that are rumored to take place within their mist-shrouded pyramidic convent. Tales abound of the sisters bathing in the blood of their enemies on the eve of battle, and there have been several reports of them consuming the hearts of defeated enemy champions on the battlefield. While these rumors have never been substantiated, the sisters of the Martyred Heart are almost always observed taking captives in the aftermath of each battle, and loading them onto ships to be taken to Tenocit. What happens to these prisoners after they reach the sisters' convent is a matter of much speculation.
Although the deadly nature of the Dark Road of the Sun ensures that the order is almost always below-strength, the resulting battle sisters are exceptionally well-honed warriors, capable of facing many times their number in combat. The endurance and combat prowess of the sisters of the Martyred Heart is the stuff of legend, and several of their number are recorded in the annals of the Ecclesiarchy for feats that exceed even those of the Adeptus Astartes.
While the Adepta Sororitas are renowned for their combination of faith and combat prowess, the sisters of the Martyred Heart stand out for the ritualistic fashion in which they wage war. On the eve of battle, sisters superior lead the order in ancient blood rites and anoint the bodies and wargear of their sisters, preparing them both mentally and spiritually for the challenges to come. The orders Canonesses and Palatines meditate in smoke-wreathed chambers, inhaling the scent of burnt offerings as they seek the Sun-Emperor's guidance. When these esoteric rites are completed and the battle is joined, the sisters of the Martyred Heart fight using the martial and strategic arts of their homeworld; a brutal fighting style that emphasizes of incapacitating foes as well and killing them. Subjugated foes are highly prized by the order, and capturing fearsome enemies is a surefire way to advance through the ranks.
Though they may operate separately on occasion, the sisters of the Martyred Heart and Blood Jaguars are close allies, and frequently deploy alongside one another in combat. This is especially the case whenever one of them is called upon to fight Khornate forces, as both Sister and Astartes alike are eager to wreak vengeance on the servants of the blood god. When they fight together, the sisters of the Martyred Heart lay down a hail of bolt, fire and melta, suppressing the foe and allowing their Blood Jaguar brothers to close for the kill.
Their Exorcists are also unique in that, rather than sounding like pipe organs, they make an eerie high-pitched sound similar to an Aztec death whistle. The Order of the Martyred Heart are also known to possess a small stockpile of the incredibly rare Volkite Weapons, dating back to the Great Crusade itself. These weapons are seen as symbols of the Sun-Emperor's divine judgement, and are both weapon and holy relic to the Sisters.
Order Conviction: Blood Rites
Empowered by their bloody rituals, the sisters of the Martyred Heart sacrificially annihilate the enemies of the Sun-Emperor.
When resolving an attack made against a unit with this conviction, an unmodified wound roll of 1 or 2 always fails, irrespective of any abilities that the weapon or the model making that attack may have. In addition, if an ORDER OF THE MARTYRED HEART CHARACTER destroys an enemy CHARACTER, then you may roll an additional die when determining your Miracle die at the end of the phase and choose which one to keep.
Stratagem: Remember The Long Night
The sisters of the Martyred Heart know well the dark history of their homeworld, and remain eager to mete out vengeance for it whenever possible.
This Stratagem costs 1 Command Point. Use this Stratagem when an ORDER OF THE MARTYRED HEART unit from your army is chosen to attack in any Fight phase. Each time you roll a hit roll of 6+ for a model in this unit during this phase, it can, if it was targeting a CHAOS unit, immediately make an extra attack against the same unit using the same weapon – you generate extra attacks on rolls of 4+ when targeting KHORNE units. These extra attacks cannot themselves generate any further attacks.
Warlord Trait: Warrior Priestess
This leader has intimate knowledge of the bloody rituals of their order.
At the start of the battle, roll a D6 on the Sacred Rites table on page 76 of Codex: Adepta Sororitas and apply the result for as long as the Warlord is on the battlefield. If you get a rite that is already active for your army, re-roll the result.
Relic: The Sun-Emperor's Wrath
The Order of the Martyred Heart maintains a small number of rare volkite pistols which they dispense on an extremely limited basis. Ancient beyond compare, these volkite weapons were crafted in a time before the Imperium, and each is a priceless relic whose power is matched only by their rarity.
ORDER OF THE MARTYRED HEART CANONESS with bolt pistol only. The Sun-Emperor's Wrath replaces the model's bolt pistol and has the following profile:
|The Sun-Emperor's Wrath||12"||Pistol 2||6||0||2||Each time you make a wound roll of 6+ for this weapon, the target suffers a mortal wound in addition to any other damage.|
Order Creation Traits
While this order wasn't created using the Sisters of Battle Order Creation Tables, this section details where they land on them in order to give a concise overview of the Martyred Heart.
Order Originator: Order of the Valorous Heart
Purpose of Founding: Standing Force
Order Flaw: Bad Ecclesiarch Relations. While the order doesn't necessarily have a bad relationship with the Ecclesiarchy, they have deviated from the Imperial Cult in a number of significant ways.
Order Demeanour: Uphold the Honor of the Emperor, the sisters of the Martyred Heart are very ritualistic even by the standards of the Adepta Sororitas.
Order Homeworld: Tenocit, a jungle-shrouded hive world.
Influence Over Homeworld: None, the existance of the Order of the Martyred Heart is kept secret from all on Tenocit, save their brothers in the Blood Jaguars chapter.
Order Organization: Unique Organization
Order Strategy: Ranged combat
Order Divergence: Personal Charm / Rare Imperial Weaponry / Preferred Fighting Style. The sisters of the Martyred Heart are adorned with numerous tattoos of ritualistic significance, and their armor is also uniquely decorated. The order is also well-known for their stash of archeotech volkite weapons which they dispense on a limited basis. While they are fully capable of killing their foes, their fighting style emphasizes taking certain enemies alive to be brought back to their fortress-convent.
Order Method of Worship: Death Cult; it shouldn't be too hard to guess why.
Order Size: Under powered; while the Dark Road of the Sun only offers a limited recruiting pool, the subsequent battle sisters are exceptionally well-honed warriors, and they rarely suffer heavy casualties.
Order Allies: The Blood Jaguars space marine chapter.
Order Enemies: The thralls of Khorne.