"To defeat the Daemon, you must hate the Daemon. To hate the Daemon, you must know the Daemon. To know the Daemon is to know madness."
- — Banisher Proverb
A Banisher is a specialised holy warrior who is a member of a special religious order of the Adeptus Ministorum known as the Collegia Exterminatus that was formed by the Ordo Malleus of the Calixis Sector. A Banisher is equally skilled at both delving into the forbidden knowledge required to understand the nature of daemons and eradicating daemonic forces with fire and Chainsword. Chosen at a young age from the most pious of children in the Calixian Schola Progenium, their training takes a great deal of time and effort as they earn the faith necessary to fortify their souls against the information they might uncover during their studies of forbidden knowledge. As a result, many Banishers are relatively advanced in age by the time they become Acolytes in service to an Inquisitor. The intensity of their training often leaves a Banisher with scars and augmetic replacements. Their bodies show the sacrifices they have made to keep themselves pure in the eyes of the God-Emperor.
In the eternal battle against Chaos, faith and knowledge are weapons. Few Acolytes of the Inquisition wield these weapons with greater prowess than the Banisher. Whether stalking the darkest halls of a hive city's librarium in search of omens or enacting the Rites of Dispossession on the fields of battle, daemonic lore is vitally important to the servants of the Collegia Exterminatus. Banishers in the Calixis Sector are a relatively new phenomenon. In 335.M41, a small cabal of Ordo Malleus Inquisitors came to the Calixis Sector on the trail of a prophecy regarding the emergence of a Greater Daemon. Lord Inquisitor Caidan found himself most impressed with their retinue of scholar-priests, who studied a rare copy of a book called the Liber Daemonica to learn their enemy’s nature and how to overcome their deceptions. Although the Inquisitors and their tome soon moved on, Caidan's interest in the scholar-priests only grew. The Inquisition's Calixian Conclave decreed that Ecclesiarchal resources could not be adequately spared for the task of researching daemonic threats in the vast quantities required, while most Adepts of the Adeptus Terra did not typically possess the faith necessary to fortify themselves against the information they might uncover. Thus, the Calixian Ordo Malleus began to formalise the training of the Banishers, a type of holy warrior who would be equally skilled at researching forbidden knowledge and eradicating daemonic forces. An Inquisitor would be wise to have several of these individuals among his immediate Acolytes, with many more acting behind the scenes to uncover a daemons’ dark secrets.
Though most Banishers are chosen at a young age to be trained by the Ecclesiarchy, not all Banishers are trained by the Ministorum. On many Feudal Worlds or Feral Worlds within the Calixis Sector, wise men steel themselves to study that which dwells in the dark, seeking wisdom to help them vanquish Warp-spawned entities. While these elders are not usually steeped in the doctrines of the Ecclesiarchy, they are no less devout believers in the Imperial Creed, and can be quite useful in rooting out long-forgotten omens and ancient secrets in Imperial archives. Many Inquisitors have also been known to train Banishers to combat specific daemons. Banishers hold a delicate position in a cell of Inquisitorial Acolytes. Experienced Acolytes revere them for their wisdom and temperance in the face of terrible secrets, and often owe their survival and success to the madness the Banisher has interpreted for them. Yet these same Acolytes know that no mind can understand the unknowable and walk away unscathed. Therefore Banishers are held with a distant respect and watched closely for fear that they may suddenly snap under the weight of their dark knowledge.
Though occasionally found within other Ordos of the Inquisition, Banishers are usually under the employ and oversight of the Ordo Malleus. A Malleus Inquisitor may employ dozens or even hundreds of Banishers, all working diligently to uncover the details of a daemonic incursion into the Materium. Many Banishers work in groups, though not for the sake of efficiency. There have been cases of Banishers using their knowledge to gain personal power or to traffic with daemons. Thanks to their training, however, these instances have been few, and placing them in a larger group allows other Acolytes to keep an eye on them as needed.
Becoming a Banisher
To be a Banisher is to seek out knowledge many believe is best left buried. They combine lore with faith, without failing to bring a Flamer to bear should it be necessary. Their will is fortified against the madness which accompanies such endeavours, for they must go where few dare. They must be prepared to face many horrors in their search for manuscripts, ancient legends, and even the true name of a powerful daemon. Most Banishers are raised up from those children in the local Scholas Progenium who already possess and extraordinary degree of piety and faith in the God-Emperor.
- Keramiah Tor, the Hollow Priest - A Banisher formerly serving Inquisitor Ahmazzi of the Tyrantine Cabal, Keramiah Tor is now a senior member of the Collegiate Exterminatus and one of the most experienced of his rank in the Calixis Sector. Tor served Ahmazzi for many years, and by all accounts stood on the verge of elevation to the rank of Interrogator. His peers fully expected that he would eventually ascend to bear the Inquisitorial Rosette, but sadly, it was not to be. Two decades ago, Tor was brought before the high council of the Calixian Conclave to be judged, and was found wanting. Although the Banisher was found to be free from corruption and untouched by the taint of the Warp, his mind and soul had become so entrenched and rigid by what he had witnessed in the course of his duties that the assembled Inquisitors decided he lacked the wits to progress further in rank. Ahmazzi, who had willingly submitted his Acolyte to the conclave’s judgement, was bitterly disappointed. Though he could have ignored the judgement of his peers and elevated Tor to Interrogator status, Inquisitor Ahmazzi saw that to do so would be divisive and cause certain other Inquisitors to align themselves against him. Reluctantly, Ahmazzi acceded to the council’s verdict. The Banisher himself appeared unmoved by the judgement, a fact that served to confirm the decision in the minds of the members of the conclave. Ahmazzi retained Tor’s services, for he had served stoically against the foes of Mankind for many years, and so his master sponsored his induction into the upper echelons of the Collegiate Exterminatus, where he serves to this day.
- Codex: Grey Knights (5th Edition), pg. 48
- Dark Heresy: Daemon Hunter (RPG), pp. 29, 48-49