This “cult”, which has strong connections to an alarming number of noble houses, is believed to have grown directly out of Malfi’s culture of intrigue. Its original architects took the concepts of falsehood and subterfuge to their limits and arrived at the cult’s guiding tenet: that nothing is what it seems. By extension, human life and the Imperium is a deceit, and Chaos itself is the truth. The Masqued believe that the “civilised Imperium” wears a mask of refinement and devoted duty, beneath which lies man’s natural affinity with the lurid machinations of the warp. They believe that it is simply a matter of time before the mask falls away and mankind’s true nature as a Chaotic species is revealed.
The Masqued revel in licentious, debauched behavior and delight in extremes of falsehood and mendacity. All cult members are anonymous and wear, at their gatherings, grotesque and colorful masks derived from the styles worn at courtly masques and entertainments. The Masqued boasts, in its membership, a shockingly large number of nobles and high-born, for whom the cult is a mere extension of their courtly world; intrigue taken to its natural conclusion. It is likely that many of them have no real concept of the dark truth lurking at the center of their compact. More a deviant secret society than an actual cult, the Masqued have avoided censure for a number of reasons: they have connections and influence, they are almost impossible to identify and target; and they offer no palpable threat as yet.
The Masqued do not seem to be striving to achieve anything: their activities are more a broad excuse for licentious, orgiastic behavior. Attempts made by the Calixian Conclave, in the most part abortive or unsuccessful, to infiltrate the order have revealed that the cult seems content to meet and worship, waiting for “the inevitable” to happen. They seem to show no desire or intent to bring about a chaotic revolution, as they regard it as a preordained fact. It is known that Caidin himself regards the Masqued as a “dilettante order”, a grouping of deviants rather than an active threat, and therefore not a priority target. However, given the potential membership of the cult, and the wealth, resource and influence that implies, if the order ever did decide to become more proactive, it would be the richest and most insidious cult in the Segmentum. For this reason, several key figures in the Conclave believe that it should be dug out and sanctioned without delay.
The range of the cult’s activity is alarming: suborders and satellite lodges have been noted on Scintilla, Sepheris Secundus, Iocanthos and many other high population worlds in the sector. Traces of it have been found as far away as Cypra Mundi and Eustis Majoris in the Scarus Sector. It goes wherever the noble houses of the Imperium have influence. Some say it has links all the way back to Terra. It is also chilling to reflect that, in the last three decades alone, four high-level operatives, each of unimpeachable character, sent by the Inquisition to infiltrate the cult, have later turned up as bonded members. It is an alluring, seductive order.
It is known to have been aided in the past by the arch-heretic Coriolanus Vestra.