"Penitence and pain are the hammers and nails of devotion."
- — Taken from an ancient forbidden text of the Angels Resplendent
The Angels Penitent is a Codex Astartes-compliant Loyalist Successor Chapter of the Blood Angels, created during the 9th Founding. Prior to the arrival of the mysterious individual known only as the "Undying Martyr," the Chapter was known as the Angels Resplendent.
While other Chapters fought for glory, faith or the sheer joy of slaughter, the Angels Resplendent had made nobility its creed. Alone amongst the scions of Sanguinius, this Chapter had been entirely free of the madness that haunted the Angel's bloodline. No Space Marine in the red and gold had ever succumbed to the Black Rage.
But while interrogating the mortal interloper called the Undying Martyr, the Chapter's Chaplains had listened to the stranger's new insights into the Imperial Creed and to his denunciation of the irredeemable corruption of Mankind and the Adeptus Astartes' complicity in the degeneration of the Imperium.
Swayed by the mortal's passionate words, a new zeal struck the Angels Resplendent, and the Chapter began what it called the "Great Purge," the elimination of all activities and items considered blasphemy under their new and puritanical interpretation of the Imperial Creed.
Fired by a burning urgency to earn redemption for Mankind's and the Astartes' collective sins in the sight of the God-Emperor, the Angels Resplendent renamed themselves the Angels Penitent. They allowed themselves to be ruled by the Crown of Thorns, a ruling conclave made up of the Chapter's Chaplains, who severely punished any brother who dared to break their edicts.
Another worrying symptom of the new order was that the battle-brothers of the Chapter are now prone to falling victim to the genetic curse known as the Black Rage. It now appears that this curse flourishes freely enough to warrant the Chapter raising a Death Company of its own.
The Angels Resplendent were once renowned for their skills in painting and sculpting, a trait inherited from their founding Chapter. However, after becoming the Angels Penitent, they began to punish any form of artistic expression with execution.
"Those who stood unblemished yesterday shall fall tomorrow or the day after, for treachery hides in our blood, cloaked in pride."
- — Proclamation from Chaplain Icharos Malvoisin
At some point in the Chapter's history, a strange individual, known only as the "Undying Martyr," came before the Angels Resplendent. The Undying Martyr was a mortal who had survived crossing the River Tristesse that served as the moat of the Angels Resplendent's fortress-monastery, Kanvolis. Few Space Marines could have mastered the crossing of the Tristesse, and so it was a mystery how a mortal had achieved the feat.
Instead of ending the strange Human's life, the Undying Martyr was brought before Chaplain Malvoisin for interrogation. The Chaplain conversed with the stranger for nineteen solar days before proclaiming him a prophet of the God-Emperor who bore terrible new insights into the Imperial Creed.
These truths were dark indeed, for he revealed that Mankind was corrupt beyond redemption and that its greatest guardians, the Adeptus Astartes, were the basest of all sinners, for they had faltered and fragmented in the war against the arch-betrayer Horus. There could be no hope of ascension into the Emperor's light, only penitence and pain for humanity's collective sins past and future. The war was already lost and the only course was to fight on in the knowledge of certain defeat.
Thus began the Great Purge of the Chapter of all activities and items considered blasphemy, including many objects once crafted by the warrior-artisans of the Chapter themselves. The Great Purge swept Kanvolis clean of beauty, yet it had left the fortress filthy, just as the Martyr's words had befouled the Chapter itself.
When traversing the corridors, one would trample through a mulch of rotting tapestries and pulverised statuary. The Undying Martyr had pronounced this effluvium of desecrated glories sacrosanct -- a mockery of treacherous pride.
Things might have been different if the Angels Resplendent's Chapter Master Varzival Czervantes had been with his Chapter during this harrowing time, but the Knight Resplendent had been absent for many standard years, campaigning with the Chapter's elite 1st Company. There had been no word of them since the Great Purge and Chaplain Malvoisin had declared them lost, though many within the Chapter refused to believe it.
The Knight Resplendent would return some day to reclaim and redeem his Chapter. In the absence of the Chapter Master, only Chief Librarian Athanazius and his Librarian brethren had spurned the Martyr's testament. Inevitably they were denounced as Heretics and soon those loyal battle-brothers who followed the will of the Chaplains obediently stormed the Librarium, driven by a hatred for their fellows that had been unmatched even in battle with xenos.
Athanazius and his followers had awaited their brothers' assault, absent arms or armour, yet shielded by a contempt that brought the zealots' charge to a standstill. The attackers waited for the frigid electric tang that presaged a psychic assault, but Athanazius spoke only a single sentence: "We will rise on burning wings."
This assault was comprised of only words, but they were the Chapter's credo, delivered with a conviction that drained the poison from many of the attacking battle-brothers. It might have been enough to stop the madness, but then Chaplain Malvoisin bellowed the new credo, the one revealed by the Undying Martyr: "The Emperor condemns!" The Angels Resplendent died that day and the Angels Penitent rose from their grave, shadow-bound and bitter.
- Devastation of Baal (ca. 999.M41) - During the Devastation of Baal, the Angels Penitent was among the Successor Chapters that answered Commander Dante's call for aid in the face of Hive Fleet Leviathan's assault on Baal. It is unknown if the Chapter has survived the battle.
The Chapter is now ruled by a council of zealous Chaplains called the "Crown of Thorns." They judge those amongst their brethren who they consider to have sinned against the Emperor, which includes such minor offences as creating scrimshaws honouring the Primarch Sanguinius -- for they believe that art exalted the tyranny of the sin of vanity.
Some within the Chapter still secretly harbour their distrust of the new order, clinging to the Chapter's old identity, believing they were once warrior artisans before the outsider had enslaved them. They know in their hearts that their true skills lie in arms and art in harmony, the true path of the Resplendent. But to voice such unpopular opinions are considered sins in the eyes of the Crown of Thorns.
Another worrying symptom of the new order is that the battle-brothers of the Chapter are now prone to falling victim to the genetic curse known as the Black Rage. Prior to the arrival of the Undying Martyr, the Chapter had never had a single Astartes fall victim to the dreaded flaw of the sons of Sanguinius. It now appears that this curse flourishes freely enough to warrant the Chapter raising a Death Company of its own.
"Beauty blinds the beholder, bedazzling the eye with grace or splendour and beguiling the heart with the promise of hope. The first rapture is an illusion, the second a lie, both wrought by the Archenemy to bind the soul in sweet tangles while the world sours, bleeds and burns unopposed. Those who cherish beauty flirt with corruption, but those who fabricate, disseminate and embody its deceits are among the foremost of heretics."
- —Thirteenth Psalm The Testament of Thorns
Formerly, the Angels Resplendent believed that they were a Chapter of warrior-artisans, a band of dedicated servants of the Emperor of Mankind who understood that war was an art form in itself. In the pursuit of art, the Angels Resplendent believed that they developed a discipline and an understanding of the broader needs of Mankind that reinforced their commitment to the defence of Humanity.
Following the arrival of the Undying Martyr on the steps of their fortress-monastery, the Angels Resplendent have been seized by a new devotion to a puritanical variant of the Imperial Creed that holds that Mankind and the Adeptus Astartes have become so corrupt that they are no longer redeemable in the eyes of the God-Emperor. As such, the only choice for mortals and Astartes alike is to receive unending punishment for their failure in the Emperor's eyes.
All sins must be severely punished, in particular the sin of vanity, of which art is but one expression. As such, since the Great Purge, the Angels Resplendent have changed their name to the Angels Penitent and no longer suffer their warrior-artisans to create the glorious works which once decorated the fortress-monastery and expressed the Chapter's inherent appreciation for aspects of Human life beyond war. They have become a bitter, humourless band of religious zealots, fired only by hatred for sin and the desire to castigate the sinner.
Notable Angels Penitent
- Chapter Magister Varzival Czervantes - Varzival Czervantes, known as the "Knight Resplendent" is the current Chapter Master of the Angels Resplendent. However he was away campaigning with the elite 1st Company when the Undying Martyr first made himself known to the Chapter and so was unable to prevent his Chapter from coming under the Martyr's sway. A solar decade after that event, Sergeant Montaig was the only Angel Penitent who secretly refused to embrace the Undying Martyr's teachings and held to the hope that the Chapter Master and his Veterans would eventually return. When he does, Montaig is convinced Varzival will be able to redeem the Chapter and restore them to the true light of the Emperor.
- Chief Librarian Athanazius - Athanazius was the chief librarian of the Angels Resplendent when the Undying Martyr first came upon the Chapter. He and his Librarians were the only ones to resist the Martyr's new teachings. This led them to be targeted in the Great Purge. The purge destroyed anything that linked the Chapter to its past and the Librarians' judgement came at the hands of a group of battle-brothers led by Chaplain Icharos Malvoisin. However even as the group came to kill them, Athanazius and the other Librarians did not seek to defend themselves from their fanatical brethren. Instead the chief librarian uttered the Angels Resplendent's traditional battle cry, "We will rise on burning wings!" This brought their attackers to a halt, especially Sergeant Montaig who felt his newfound self-loathing suddenly evaporate. However, Chaplain Malvoisin, who was the most fervent believer of the Undying Martyr's theology, responded with the Angels Pentinent's new battle cry, "The Emperor condemns!" This once more roused the fanatical hatred of the Astartes under his command and they fell upon Athanazius and the other Librarians. With the deaths of their Librarians, the reborn Angels Penitent felt they were no longer tied down by the sins of the Angels Resplendent's past.
- Architect Radiant Satori - A Librarian of the Angels Resplendent who died alongside Athanazius.
- Reclusiarch Relian - Relian was the reclusiarch who answered the call of Commander Dante to reinforce the Blood Angels in the face of Hive Fleet Leviathan's assault on Baal during the Devastation of Baal. While on Baal, the reclusiarch nearly struck Mephiston when he was unnaturally cured of the Black Rage, but relented and instead chose to wish that the Blood Angels' chief librarian be granted Sanguinius' mercy through an honourable death. Though the Leviathan was eventually defeated, it is not known if Relian survived the campaign on Baal.
- Chaplain Icharos Malvoisin - Icharos Malvoisin was the Chaplain who conversed with the stranger known as the "Undying Martyr" for nineteen solar days before proclaiming him a prophet of the God-Emperor. He also initiated the "Great Purge" of the Chapter.
- Sergeant Montaig - Montaig is a sergeant of the Angels Penitent. He secretly loathed his Chapter after it fell under the sway of the Undying Martyr, and hoped that their Chapter Master, the Knight Resplendent Varzival Czervantes, would return one day to restore the Angels Resplendent. Montaig found himself wishing for change, but always found an excuse to never take a stand against the new policies of the Council of Thorns himself. When the neophyte Phelion who Montaig had been mentoring was caught scrimshawing, now a crime since the creation of art was now deemed sinful by the Undying Martyr, Montaig offered to help his mentee escape into the wilds of their homeworld. But Phelion had become a fanatical believer in the teachings of the Angels Penitent and indicated that not only would he accept his punishment and likely execution, he also expected Montaig to confess his sin of knowing that his neophyte was creating art and yet doing nothing about it. Facing little choice, Montaig proceeded to kill Phelion and then lied about the crime to the Council of Thorns, claiming that he had prevented the neophyte from escaping. But Montaig promised himself that eventually, one day, he would take a stand against the Chapter's growing sickness.
- Undying Martyr - The Undying Martyr is an unknown mortal who came among the Angels Resplendent teaching a new and unforgiving interpretation of the Imperial Creed. The Martyr was massive in size for a normal Human, and had miraculously survived crossing the River Tristesse on their homeworld of Malpertuis where he had been discovered by the squad commanded by Sergeant Montaig. Despite his size, the Martyr was covered in scars and boils, and had suffered a severe and seemingly fatal chest wound, but wore an Aquila on a chain around his neck. When first discovered, the Martyr had asked, "Do I still dream?" Taken before Chaplain Icharos Malvoisin to decide his fate after Montaig decided to spare his life, the two talked for nineteen solar days during which time the Martyr declared that all hope of saving the Imperium had been lost and that Humanity's only option was to repent for its terrible sins and all its failures before the God-Emperor. He claimed that the Adeptus Astartes were among the worst of these sinners, for their failure during the Horus Heresy when so many turned to Chaos had been the event that started Humanity's cascade of sins for the next ten thousand years. Malvoisin was swayed by the Martyr's arguments and he declared the strange man to be a true prophet of the Emperor. This caused the Chapter to listen to his words and with their Chapter Master, Varzival Czervantes away on campaign with the Veterans of the 1st Company, there was no one present who could stop the Angels Resplendent from falling under the Undying Martyr's sway. He became their spiritual leader and declared the Chapter to be too prideful and vain, riddled with sin. The Martyr demanded they destroy everything that tied them to their sinful past and the so-called "Great Purge" began, which wiped away much of the Chapter's former culture and beliefs. Transformed into religious fanatics gripped by self-loathing by the Martyr's oddly persuasive teachings, most of the Angels Resplendent did as he commanded, with only the Librarians refusing to follow his orders and the Chapter's new direction. This led the Librarius to become targets for the wrath of the Chapter's fanatics and Malvoisin led the attack that killed Chief Librarian Athanazius and the other Librarians.
- Severance of Glory (Strike Cruiser) - The Severance of Glory is a Strike Cruiser of the Angels Penitent.
Prior to becoming the Angels Penitent, the Angels Resplendent wore red and gold armour with a black backpack, shoulder plates and Aquila or Imperialis on the chest.
Like their genetic forbears, the Angels Penitent's company markings differ from those outlined by the Codex Astartes in utilising blood drop symbols on the right shoulder plate instead of different coloured trim and numbers.
The right knee plate displays the colour and unique iconography of the squad to which an Astartes of the Chapter belongs.
The Angels Penitent's Chapter badge is a large white skull with a grey crown of thorns upon its brow. This is centred on a field of black with umber streaks.
- Adeptus Astartes: Successor Chapters (Limited Release Booklet), pg. 10
- Chapter Approved 2001 - Second Book of the Astronomican, pg. 117
- Codex Supplement: Blood Angels (9th Edition), pg. 31
- Requiem Infernal (Novel) by Peter Fehervari, Ch. 4
- The Devastation of Baal (Novel) by Guy Haley, Ch. 6
- Angels of Death - The Crown of Thorns (Short Story) by Peter Fehervari
- Inferno! Volume 2, Number 2, "The Thirteenth Psalm" by Peter Fehervari
- The Reverie (Novel) by Peter Fehervari, Chs. 1-2, 19