The Church Of The Lion

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+++ Date: 7437168M39 +++
 +++ Ref: Inq/4ii62184611/GT +++
 +++ By: Explicator Fordez +++
 +++ Re: Church of the Lion +++
 +++ Thought: Suspicion is the better part of valour. +++
[Transmitted: Golius]
[Received: IQ-0XX]
[Destination: IQ-0III]
[Telepathic Duct: Astropath-terminus Jessiah]
Venerated master Salazar,
My report to you is one of failure and of shame. As you are no doubt aware, my mentor, Inquisitor Koch is now missing, perhaps dead. His disappearance - and judging by the treatment that I endured, death - is entirely my fault and I will be terminating myself shortly for this miserable failure in correctly protecting and serving him. However, that is not the reason for this message. The terrible events that occurred after our landing on Golius should not and will not remain hidden.
From the sparse records of planetary information regarding Golius, Koch was able to glean that it was in a feudal state: pitiful was the state of technology and the government. Koch was called to aid servants of the Adeptus Terra; numerous attempts to collect the required tithes from the planet's population had met with fierce, militant resistance, the simple swordsmen and archers nearly overwhelming the small contingent of armed men with the adepts. In few locations was any form of contact established without relations becoming hostile and it was in one of these areas that Koch and our forces landed on the planet. He had not come without protection, in the form of a small squad of Inquisitorial Stormtroopers and the aid of his personal retinue, including several heavily armed Servitors and accompanying Tech Adepts. This predisposition to violence is one that, upon our first contact with the locals, I deemed to be unnecessary, though I could not have been more wrong.
The region was mainly arable land, with the occasional empty space for grazing the strange, bird-like creatures that roamed the fields. These beasts, which were twice the height of a man and at least as long as a Chimera APC,Definition: Armoured Personal Carrier appeared to have developed a pair of front legs from disused wings. The concentration of the impossibly large avians increased rapidly as we neared the only sign of more advanced civilization, a large, crude fortress constructed from large blocks of roughly hewn stone. Surrounding the imposing structure, which sat atop a clearly artificial hill, was a relatively large village of wooden houses.
Our first encounters with the local villagers - mainly farmers and their families - went well, their awe at our vastly superior technology keeping them silent and respectful as we passed by. Our first meeting with one of the members of the more secretive part of the society went a little less smoothly. I will describe to you what little I can remember of the man, though this fever has begun to cloud both my memory and my vision.
He was clad in metal plating, fashioned to protect and fit his entire body, though it was not without the shortcoming of the immense weight, as you can probably imagine. The armour was marked, coated, with white, a strangely pure figure in contrast with his aggressive manner. Almost at once, he removed his helmet, showing a well-built face as he challenged Koch to a duel. It was this ludicrous proposal and unrelenting courage that was to be his downfall, as the pathetic blade that he drew failed to match the might of my master's Plasma pistol. The ensuing duel resulted in the horrific death of the challenger, who we later learned belonged to the upper group named knights.
This act instilled the utmost fear in the populace of the village, however before we could react to the new atmosphere of their dread, a great horn sounded. With this, a portcullis set into the nearest wall of the castle rose, allowing several similarly dressed knights to emerge. We prepared for battle; however their intentions were of congratulation and not of war. Nevertheless, Koch kept his guards wary as we entered the fortress, having been invited by the leader of this place to grant him our presence.
From this meeting, we learned more about this place. It followed a religion known as the Church of the Lion, which we believed at first to be a sub-sect of the Imperial faith. Their infatuation with courage and bravery was the belief that led us to that false conclusion, their removal of those deemed noble and good from the primitive society and their induction into the knight 'order' appeared to us to be a clear indication of the doings of the Emperor. Later mentions of our most holy leader cemented this belief that they were, in fact, one of the few strongholds of the true faith left upon Golius.
They also explained to us the trials and rituals that aspirants needed to pass and perform to pass into the order, many of which appeared to be perfectly harmless and a few of which were actually recognized methods of testing those willing to enter the Ecclesiarchy. When questioned upon the whereabouts of those that failed, all we were able to discover was that they were kept in an extensive labyrinth of dungeons beneath the fortress. Apparently, it would be against the will of their Emperor to kill them, something that we felt was a weak and accepting facet, though we did not voice these concerns.
The seeming piety and courage of these knights blinded me to the danger that I soon placed myself in. When we were offered the chance to attempt the rituals ourselves, Koch denied, though I could not contain the urge to prove myself and my faith to him. I even refused the guard of two Stormtroopers that Koch offered and it was clear that he was against it and growing rather skeptical of the Church's aims. How foolish I was to throw myself so blindly into the jaws of the Lion.
Two of the knights took me deep into the bowels of the fortress, possibly beneath the surface of the ground. The first rite was described as the hardest, though I was confident in my ability to overcome whatever challenges of my courage and bravery that they tested me with. It was also strangely described as the longest and as playing a part in every other trial. When we finally reached our destination, what I saw was, in my eyes at the time, rather amazing. This strange disease eats away at me faster every minute, however I shall not let you go unaware of the terrors that Golius contains.
A sizeable cavern greeted my eyes, the torches sitting in brackets on the walls illuminating the features of a strange, unnaturally smooth lion's head (as you know, a lion is a creature of ancient Terra), seemingly carved from the walls, though it could not possibly have been. The walls around it appeared to have been formed naturally, so how this statue managed to erupt from the wall I do not know. All that is clear to me now is that a frothing fountain of water burst from the lion's mouth, through a tunnel of pure darkness and shadow. This water was filthy and probably contained the infectious disease which is destroying me now. When the knights' purpose became clear, I almost ran, though through a combination of their restraint of me and my near-faltering courage I managed to remain.
They at once took a crude scalpel and cut open my wrist, an agonising torture made worse by their pouring of a measure of the water into the cut. At first I attempted to heal the wound, though visions of glory still blinded me. Soon after, the knights left, commanding me to stay behind in the cavern, an order which I refused to obey numerous times, having finally been locked in by the large stone portal becoming blocked by a great door of the same material. Since then, my arm has become massively infected and has begun to decompose, though strangely I still retain feeling and the ability to move it, coupled with pain. This is all that I know of the Church and the events prior to and now I pass on that knowledge to you, in the hopes that you may discover this place's foul secrets and expose them. I have sent this to Koch's astropathic adept on board his Inquisitorial Thunderhawk, I can only pray that he is not dead as well.
I remain a faithful servant of you and of the most holy Emperor, even in my dying hours.
Explicator Mathias Fordez

+++ Date: 7437169M39 +++
 +++ Ref: Inq/4ii62194315/GT +++
 +++ By: Inquisitor Koch +++
 +++ Re: Church of the Lion +++
 +++ Thought: Conquer the Daemons within before those without. +++
[Transmitted: Golius]
[Received: IQ-0XX]
[Destination: IQ-0III]
[Telepathic Duct: Astropath-terminus Jessiah]
Lord Inquisitor Salazar,
Unlike Fordez's message of urgency and warning, a selection of judgements based on his own foolishness and cowardice, the information that I bring to you now is both truthful and of great importance. I have not perished, nor have I become captured or imprisoned. I have, however, discovered that which should become the greatest sect of the Imperial faith known to humanity. This revelation of mine stems from the beliefs of the Church of the Lion on this forgotten, backwater world - Golius - and their methods of weeding the heretical and impure from the upper echelons of their society. Truly, bringing this faith to the entire Imperium is far better than to dismiss it as mere heresy.
To explain every process by which this selection of the bravest is chosen would be fruitless and exasperating. Instead, I will describe only the one that matters. The action of committing yourself to the Church of the Lion either condemns your unworthy soul to eternal damnation, or elevates it from the shortcomings of mortals. It exposes the fearful and the cowardly for who they are and shows how the pure can overcome even the most deadly of poisonous evils. It is the simple principle of overcoming that which tells mankind to run, that which forces humans to cower and shy away from the powerful gaze of the truly righteous.
This process is the first and most relevant to the Order of the Lion's cornerstones of faith. It is the pain and suffering of which Fordez that despicable fool, wrote of. It might at first seem heretical to the utmost, furthermore it might appear to feed the evil that it is. Nevertheless, I urge you to consider the benefits of such an operation, such a test that would ultimately separate those worthy of continued existence from the already damned.
Just as how Fordez told you was the same way that I was taken to the mighty cavern. Just as he described was the fountain and the unreal, impossible statue. Just as he feared, there was pain. However, his tale of the woe and failure which is increasingly prevalent among our ranks is not my story, for I was the one who conquered the shadows and the darkness. I gained victory over the Daemons inside myself, the Daemons inside of us all. I destroyed them and tore down the barriers between the fools and the wise; the weak and the strong.
Just as Fordez spoke of, the knights who accompanied me smeared a small amount of the putrid liquid into a break in my skin which they had cut. This at once began to burn and to bruise with the agony that I strained to contain. The knights, having already passed this examination of their soul, assured me that they believed me to be fully capable of overcoming such wounds. I assume that you know of the wounds of which I am talking about: not injuries of the body, which we are all fully able to heal; this was a stab into my soul, a dagger of fear and despair. Where Fordez failed to overcome this fear; where he ran to the closed portal; where he hammered his fists on the great stone walls; where he wept in despair; where he failed completely and utterly, I did not.
I remained calm. I did not let the fear of my death overcome me. I prevented the insidious and subtle roots and branches of the gnarled tree of fear from tearing down my fortress of faith in the Emperor. Though my instincts told me to run and to hide; to flee from what it told me was my end, I stood firm. As Fordez told you, he at once began to deteriorate both physically and mentally. I felt none of this. Soon, the knights returned, bringing not only my release from the cavern but also the news that Fordez had been taken to the lowest dungeons of this fortress. It had become apparent to them and their finest surgeons, who barely have enough knowledge to be acceptable as medical officers for the Imperial Guard, that he had attempted to take his own life via a bullet to the head. The lord of despair and plague had truly taken him, however as it has been observed before, the much hated followers of the blasphemous un-god Nurgle are extremely resilient, a trait shown by Fordez's recovery.
After he had been sent to the dungeons, I was told of what became of those that fail to overcome the first challenge. They are locked in the cages and behind the bars of the cells in the dungeons, where they lie in torment for their sins until a time of war is declared, at which point they are raised from their tombs of undeath and herded into battle by members of the farming populace, those who wish that they were knights. These hopefuls are named as 'Tyrants' by the villagers, who look upon the failures with repulsion in their eyes and hatred in their voices, and as 'Aspirants' by the knights. It seems that even in the fires of battle do the knights still remain vigilant in their watch for acts of courage and selflessness.
That is the last of the information that I have gathered so far. There is, however, the shadow of the presence of warriors of the Astartes. It is barely more than an impossible suspicion, yet I still feel as if these mighty warriors might be waiting somewhere, watching over the Church of the Lion.
Inquisitor Dunant Koch.

+++ Date: 7437170M39 +++
 +++ Ref: Inq/4ii62172354/GT +++
 +++ By: Inquisitor Salazar +++
 +++ Re: Church of the Lion +++
 +++ Thought: When the heretic is blinded, bring to them holy flame. +++
[Transmitted: Emperor's Holy Gaze]
[Received: IQ-0XX]
[Destination: IQ-0III]
[Telepathic Duct: Astropath-terminus Flavius]
Dunant Koch,
The Inquisition will not rest while heretics still tread upon Imperial soil.
Inquisitor Julius Salazar

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