“Your god is dead. Faith is a lie. Hell awaits us all. Let the stars bleed!”
—found carved into the body of Cardinal Mollis, the Hematite Hill Massacre
An apocalyptic murder cult as insidious as it is cruel, the Pilgrims of Hayte have plagued the Calixis Sector for nearly three centuries. During that time, they have risen to levels of infamy unrivalled by any other. Such is their well-founded reputation for horror and atrocity with the sector’s powers that be that mere rumor of the cult’s presence in a particular area is enough to generate near-panic among the nobility and prompt immediate, and brutal crackdowns by local authorities.
The cult’s ultimate goal is a simple one---the destruction of the Imperium. More specifically, it is the tearing down of the Imperial faith and the slaying of all those who serve the God-Emperor---one soul damned and one murder done at a time if need be. To this end, the cult seeks to twist and corrupt the minds of the unsuspecting, the downtrodden, and the weak of faith and to carry out acts of mass-murder and sow despair and terror on as a wide a scale as possible. The cult’s masters, known as the False Prophets, wield the powers of the daemon and the baleful energies of the warp with fearful abandon, driving on their coteries of madmen, lost souls, and hell-spawned monsters as living weapons in their unholy crusade to destroy the rule of the Golden Throne.
Tenets, Goals, and Heretical BeliefsEdit
At the core of the true beliefs of the Pilgrims of Hayte is nihilism of the spirit, utter hopelessness, and despair for humanity’s true place in the universe as they perceive it—that of a squalling, blind creature utterly at the mercy of a deadly cosmos and a hungering warp. To them, civilization, reason, faith, love, family, morality, hope, pleasure, and honor are all lies and stillborn dreams, strangled at birth by uncaring and implacable reality. The answer, as far as they are concerned, is total destruction—the violent self-immolation of mankind’s carefully wrought web of lies and deceit. It is to embrace the madness, suffering, and despair that are humanity’s only real truth. It is to hate and kill and tear down, until nothing remains.
Those brought into the cult are selected chiefly for a seed of bitterness or resentment that they carry within them, some remembered slight or injustice—incidents only too common in the oppressive crush of Imperial society. The cult works on this flaw to erode the recruit’s inhibitions, morality, and conscience to the point where his hatred and sense of outrage and betrayal consumes him. As he progresses through the cult’s outer layers of lies and deceit, the initiate is granted hideous revelations and subjected to horrific suffering and daemonic rituals designed to further strip away his sanity and damn him completely, leaving him most likely either dead, murderously deranged, or irrevocably tainted by the corrupting influence of the warp.
Those few cultists that survive long enough, or show particular promise, are taken under the wing of a False Prophet and directly tutored in the arts of the sorcerer and the demagogue. It is then that their masters show them that even the worship of Chaos is a lie---a tool to be used, as the beings of the warp would use them. If these aspirants survive such dark wisdom and the dangers of their tutelage, then they may become False Prophets in turn, and carve their own bloody path across the stars.
Cult Structure and ActivityEdit
In structure, the Pilgrims of Hayte are considered the very epitome of what some theorists in the Holy Ordos refer to as a “cancer cult,” which is introduced to a population or locale much like a disease and spreads from a single point of infection. The machinations of a False Prophet work to corrupt an ever widening circle of victims and endanger the lives and souls of all those around them. The growth of the cult often follows a disease-like cycle as well---first the infection, then a period of secrecy while the cult slowly grows in number and power analogous to an incubation period. Finally there is the terminal stage, as the cult, having reached a critical mass, runs rampant in a destructive frenzy.
The cult’s structure, particularly in the early stages of the “infection,” is centered entirely on its charismatic leader. These False Prophets often masquerade at first as genuine pilgrims, travelling preachers, or even charitable worthies who gather the downtrodden to them. They secretly gain their first converts by appealing to those who feel betrayed or ignored by the local authorities and, in particular, the Ministorum.
With their first followers in hand, they coat their spiritual poison with honeyed words and false truths, dragging their victims down in a spiral toward damnation. Once safely and secretly established in an area, they will found a cult cell, selecting new members from the dross of humanity and those already downtrodden or embittered, fanning the flames of their victims’ hatred and preying on their grief and despair. Before their followers realize it, they have lost their souls to the cult’s lies and, so damned, are plunged into a world of inhumanity, madness, and the worship of Chaos.
Once the cell is fully established and has achieved its own dreadful momentum, the False Prophet withdraws, sinking behind levels of secrecy while chosen converts continue to expand the cult by drawing new followers to the cause. Protected by this outer ring, the False Prophet directs matters from behind the scenes while he begins his true work—the establishment of a temple to the warp where he can work his sorceries and summon foul entities from beyond to do his bidding.
The False Prophet orchestrates this descent into madness, thriving off this destructive spiral of Chaos worship and channeling the cult’s hatred and violence at targets of his choosing. It is then that the nightmare for the wider world begins in earnest. What may have been disquieting rumors and a rash of mysterious disappearances and suspicious events erupt into a campaign of terror the likes of which few can imagine.
Wanton slaughter, foul murder, and atrocities of every type imaginable are loosed on the world. Often suicidal attacks by insane cult zealots coincide with terrorist incidents and, worse still, the unleashing of daemonic forces against faith and state. Geared to cause indiscriminate carnage as well as destabilize any counter-attack by the authorities, this storm of violence quickly becomes uncontrollable, even for the False Prophet at its center. Like a pack of rabid beasts, the Pilgrims of Hayte savage and attack all they encounter. Now acting entirely on its own murderous drive to destroy and sow terror, the cult neither relents nor flees even if confronted with superior forces, and indeed will seemingly revel in its self-destruction, content to damage, terrify, and kill as much as it can before it is finally purged. It is at the end of this final explosion of carnage that, unless the Holy Ordos can find and kill the architect of this terror, the False Prophet will discard his insane and corrupted flock and slip away to begin the whole process again elsewhere.
The Pilgrims of Hayte trace their origin to the hive world of Malfi. Nearly four centuries ago, Malfi was ruled by the cruel House Koba and its master was Syvas Koba. His favored child, a daughter named Hyathe, was changed on her seventeenth birthday on a trip deep into space. What happened there remains unknown, but when she returned, her eyes burned with a dire madness and her heart was filled with the conviction that everyone and everything was fit only to be destroyed. Her power soon increased and she created a shadowy court of brutes, sadists and killers, becoming even more feared than her father. She worked intrigues of staggering guile and ruthlessness, destroying anyone at a whim, and the fearful and weakened noble houses took to calling her “Hayte” behind her back.
As the aging Syvas Koba finally began to lose his grip on sanity and power, “Hayte” and her supporters took over complete control of Malfi in a brief and bloody storm of excess and destruction. The noble houses rose against her, and in the blood-drenched war that followed, House Koba was utterly destroyed. Civil strife across the planet left over a billion dead and destabilized the sub-sector. It is said that it was Alizbet Belasco, a former ally of House Koba, who finally succeeded in slaying Hayte, and in so doing, elevated her house to the high rank it now holds on Malfi. However, legend persists that many from Hayte’s inner circle of protégées survived the savagery. What fate awaited these vicious exiles remains unknown, but her name certainly has continued, attached to one of the most infamous cults in the sector.
The first major incident attributed to the cult occurred on the world of Malfi, which has now come to be known as the Bloody Solstice, occurring not long after the destruction of House Koba. They are also responsible for dooming a ship, the Ardent Seeker, in the system that houses Maccabeus Quintus.
The Mace of JudgementEdit
The Mace of Judgement is a symbol of Imperial might and purity that was violated by the Pilgrims of Hayte and turned into a mockery of its original purpose. The Mace has a haft and head of dark, wrought metal topped with winged fist clasping a skull of adamantine. Charred spills of parchment inscribed with tracts from the Book of Judgement coil the mace’s length, secured by seals of thick wax. It was weapon made to demonstrate the might of Imperial law and punish those who deny its authority. The Mace of Judgement was possessed by Adeptus Arbites Judge Mielira, who was captured by the Pilgrims of Hayte while countering their activities on Vaxanide. Rather than kill their prisoner, the Pilgrims of Hayte took her weapon and bound into it a warp thing of madness and endless hate. They then set Judge Mielira free and returned her mace of authority. The cultists watched while the daemon in her weapon twisted the Judge’s own faith and conviction and made her a monster to whom all were guiltily and worthy only of death. Mielira the Bloody was finally killed by vassals of Inquisitor Astrid Skane. However, her black mace that had become the trademark of her atrocities was never recovered.
The Mace of Judgement contains a warp entity of unknown nature (WP 41). It has the Daemon Hater (see below) and Sin of Righteousness (see below) attributes.
Daemon Hater: The thing imprisoned within the Mace of Judgement loathes other daemons with a purity and fury that can only be possible from one of their own warp-spawned kind. When the Mace of Judgement strikes a warp entity or any other creature with the Daemonic Trait, it automatically may inflict Righteous Fury on a Damage result of 8-10.
Sin of Righteousness: A wielder of the Mace of Judgement gains the Fearless and Hatred (all enemies of the wielder) Talents, but also automatically gains an Acute Delusion of Righteousness for as long as the Maul is under their mastery, whether it is in their hand or not.
Melee, 1d10+5, I, PEN 5, The Beast Within, Lethality, Uncanny Resilience, Daemon Hater, Sin of Righteousness, Unbalanced, WT 4kg