"I carry with me an Inquisitorial Seal. It is a small, unassuming object contained in a neat box of Pluvian obsidian. It is a modest thing, relatively plain, adorned with a single motif and a simple motto. Yet with this little object I can sign the death warrant of an entire world and consign a billion souls to Oblivion."
- — Inquisitor Thraviam Flast
An Inquisitorial Rosette is a symbolic icon of the members of the Inquisition, akin to countless others worn by the servants of the Imperium, but in reality, it is so much more. Upon their ascension to their rank, every Inquisitor is presented with an Inquisitorial Rosette. This is a small amulet or icon in the shape of a stylised column. This powerful symbol is recognised throughout Imperial society, for those who bear it wield ultimate authority, and they do so in the name of the Emperor. The Inquisitorial Seal is, in a sense, an Inquisitor's most important item of equipment, and he will never willingly relinquish it. Rosettes are often inscribed with verification technology and coded encryption in order to communicate the bearer's authority to any cogitator, confirming the bearer's clearance as well as preventing forgeries.
This powerful symbol of the Inquisition is worn on an Inquisitor's clothing or wargear. The rosette can be worn by those in an Inquisitor's employ and can also be displayed on vehicles or by the armed forces being used by the Inquisitor. The rosette signifies that an individual is in the employ of the Inquisition and is enough to ensure the fearful cooperation of most adepts and citizens who know of the Inquisition’s purpose. The rosette, however, is used very sparingly, as most Inquisitors prefer to keep themselves and their Acolytes inconspicuous. The rosette is most commonly used when in the company of fellow members of the Inquisition or when an Inquisitor wishes to strike fear and awe into the common man.
The name "Rosette" harkens back to the bygone era of the 31st Millennium during the opening days of the Horus Heresy and the hunt for Battle-Brother Severian (known as "The Wolf"), formerly of the Luna Wolves Legion. He was the last surviving member of the Outcast Dead, a small group of Renegade Space Marines who belonged to the Traitor Legions and had been part of an Astartes Honour Guard known as the Crusader Host based on Terra in the days just before the start of the Heresy. When news of the Warmaster Horus' betrayal of the Emperor of Mankind reached Terra on the frigate Eisenstein, the loyalty of all members of those Legions that had sided with Horus was considered suspect by the warriors of the Legio Custodes. The Legio Custodes imprisoned these Astartes within Khangba Marwu, a vast, underground Imperial prison complex deep beneath the Himalayan Mountains also known as 'The Vault'. After breaking free and rescuing the Astropath Kai Zulane from The Vault and escaping from the prison complex, the Outcast Dead proceeded to fight their way across Terra in an attempt to escape back to their respective Legions.
Only Severian managed to survive the relentless pursuit of the hunt team led by the Seer Hunter named Yasu Nagasena who worked for the Sisters of Silence in seeking out psykers for their Black Ships. Refusing to give up, Nagasena pursued Severian relentlessly throughout the Petitioner's City, located on the outskirts of the massive complex of the Imperial Palace. Nagasena came upon a civilian woman named Escarter, who had witnessed the slaughter of a squad of Black Sentinels by the renegade Space Marine Legionary. Though initially in a state of shock and reluctant to reveal what she had seen, she eventually informed the Seer Hunter what direction Severian had escaped. To show his gratitude, Nagasena gave the young woman a gift -- a jewel-encrusted amulet -- and informed her to go to his personal estate and stay there as his honoured guest. Grateful to escape the misery of the vastly overcrowded Imperial city, the young woman took the carnation from her dress and pinned it to Nagasena's breatplate. She called it a, "Rosette for luck". Ironically, when Malcador the Sigillite was tasked by the Emperor with forming the foundations of the organisation later known as the Inquisition, Nagasena was one of the individuals recruited to become one of its founding members.
Symbol of Power
When an Interrogator (an Inquisitor's Acolyte) is promoted to the full rank of Inquisitor, he is presented with an Inquisitorial Rosette. A mark of rank, this symbol is incontrovertible evidence that the bearer wields ultimate authority, and they do so in the name of the Emperor. But such conditioning is not sufficient on its own to ensure total loyalty and obedience in every individual the bearer meets. The pampered noble may attend chapel each day, yet believe the laws that bind the lower classes do not apply to them. The underhive scum may bellow oaths to the Emperor even as he lobs firebombs at an Enforcer patrol. The feral worlder might mount the severed head of an Administratum Tithe-Prefect in a fane dedicated to the mighty God-Emperor who rules from beyond the stars.
In addition to the symbolic authority of the rosette, the Inquisitor must be possessed of a palpable ability to invoke obedience. They must be stern and ruthless, radiating an air of confidence that demands absolute deference. Inquisitors are of a rare breed indeed, able to face arrogant Imperial Governors and hardened recidivists with equal resolve, the word of the Emperor upon their lips and the Inquisitorial Rosette upon their breast.
In the shadowy world of duplicity and intrigue in which the Inquisitors operate, one would expect the rosette to be an easily abused symbol of power. It might be expected that recidivist elements might try to emulate Inquisitors in order to subvert power from Imperial organisations, or that some heretics might question the veracity of a rosette, and the right of its bearer to speak in the Emperor’s name. Indeed, there are those throughout history who have masqueraded as Inquisitors, and these have earned the very worst punishment the Inquisition can mete out. Yet, what is there to prove that a bearer of a rosette is in fact an Inquisitor?
The Inquisition is held in such fear and dread that very few indeed would even countenance disobeying an Inquisitor's orders. The adepts of the Imperium's many institutions scarcely dare even think of the Inquisition, lest some distant thought-thief discern their impure dalliances and retribution follow. Few adepts dare openly speak of the agents of the Holy Ordos of the Emperor's Inquisition, knowing full well that their utterances would be reported to a superior and those agents would come. When an adept is actually confronted with an Inquisitor, he is in all likelihood so fearful for his own life that he goes to any end to ensure the Inquisitor's demands are met. Even the most senior of the Imperium's officers, including Imperial Commanders and Sector Governors, invariably make every effort to facilitate an Inquisitor’s needs, lest they invoke the wrath of the Emperor's most feared agents.
There are subtler ways of enforcing authority, however, for on occasion an Inquisitor wishes to identify himself as such, without antagonising the person they address. This is particularly the case when dealing with those who consider themselves the Inquisitor's equal, a peer of the Imperium. When dealing with Adeptus Astartes Chapter Masters, Rogue Traders and Lords Militant, an Inquisitor calls upon a range of methods to prove their identity. Some imprint their Inquisitorial Rosette with machine-engrams able to communicate the bearer's authority to any cogitator, activating dormant sentinel-routines in the host system and confirming the bearer's clearance. Others bear psycho-activated tattoos upon their faces that are invisible until willed to appear, symbols and runes that serve as a hieratic script known only to the most highly placed within the Imperium's upper echelons of power.
In addition to these functions of the Inquisitorial Rosette, some Inquisitors have been known to apply more ingenious adaptations, often utilising the services of highly skilled Adeptus Mechanicus artificers. Some rosettes are gene-locked, meaning they can only be handled by the owner, whose genetic identity is stored within. Should another take up the rosette, or no genetic sample be provided, the rosette may administer a dose of contact poison or even detonate a miniscule, yet devastating melta charge.
Many rosettes contain data-probes that allow the bearer access to almost any cogitation network in the Imperium. The rosette's machine-systems are capable of unlocking any network, the Inquisitor's ultra high level authority bypassing any logic-gates put in place to keep intruders out. Despite the advantages granted by the Inquisitorial Rosette, not all Inquisitors bear it openly. When engaged upon a covert mission for example, an agent is likely to secret it in the most secure location possible, so that it may be produced only when needed most. Others openly comport themselves as Inquisitors, yet forego the wearing of the rosette, perhaps in an effort to put those they deal with at a disadvantage, and ignorant of their true intentions.
In addition to the power the rosette grants to the Inquisitor bearing it, a degree of authority is passed on to the Inquisitor's agents and companions, by way of association. One who claims authority in the name of an Inquisitor, such as an Interrogator, is said to "Bear the Seal". Such individuals do not literally carry their master's rosette, but few would afford them any less respect than their master, and for the very same reasons. To many, there is no difference between a Inquisitor and any of their agents, for merely invoking the power of the Inquisition is sufficient to inspire total obedience.
Wielding the Rosette
The greatest gift an Inquisitor can grant an Acolyte is the right to wield the Inquisitorial Rosette in his name. For much of an Acolyte's work he will never identify himself as a member of the Inquisition and even when he does, it is usually at the behest of his master. Much rarer are the times when the Acolyte uses the raw power of the Inquisition to get the job done, for example commandeering vessels or pressing soldiers into service. A Rosette is more than a mere medallion of precious metals bearing the mark of the Inquisition (the Inquisitorial "I"), notated in the Calixis Sector by the mark of the Ordo Calixis (the Chalice). Each one is a sophisticated means of identification specifically keyed to an individual Inquisitor. "Fooling" a Rosette is no easy feat as a complex system of bio-recognition and DNA scanning technology ensures that it only functions in the hands of its rightful owner, or those who are deemed worthy of its use. For an Acolyte to be granted a copy of their master's Rosette (and the sanctioning to use it), shows great trust on the part of the Inquisitor and as such, it is a rare occurrence. Only when an Acolyte ascends to the station of Interrogator is he usually granted this honour. Other tokens of authority, such as a Legate Investigator's Sigil of Question or a Excoriator's gilded bolt shell, are sometimes granted by the Acolyte's Inquisitor, though usually only for the execution of specific tasks. Such items are more commonly given, while the Rosette is reserved for those who have earnt the faith of their Inquisitor. After all, when an Acolyte uses the Rosette his actions are not his alone, ultimately it is their Inquisitor who must answer for abuses of power. In such cases, the Inquisitor may well survive the outcome, unlike the unfortunate Acolyte.
Bearing the Seal
The Inquisition may offer its servants a number of means by which they may be identified. Most often this is in the form of the Rosette, a stylised symbol of the Inquisitional “I” accompanied by a skull. An Inquisitor may entrust his Acolytes and Throne Agents with a smaller rosette or similar “seal of the Inquisition” with which they may prove their authority should it come into question. Other than the Rosette, some rarer forms of this authority may take the form of a heraldic ring, an electoo, a letter of authority, or an illuminated scroll. Whatever its shape, the seal of the Inquisition demands respect, and only the most obstinate or single-minded would dare to ignore such. When an Acolyte or Throne Agent presents the rosette, it is a message saying “This individual is on the business of an Inquisitor. Stand in their way at your peril.” Thus do the servants speak with their master’s voice to do the business of the Inquisition.
Failing the Inquisitor
Using the influence of the Inquisitor they serve can be greatly beneficial to the Inquisition's Acolytes, but comes at the risk of angering that Inquisitor. Some Inquisitors prefer to see their Acolytes succeed on their own merits, but even one who encourages his servants to wield his authority openly cannot abide damage to his reputation, which has likely taken solar decades -- or longer -- to build. If the Acolytes repeatedly misuse or harm his influence through their actions, an Inquisitor should take action to show his disapproval and remind his Acolytes of the consequences for repeated failure. The forms this may take are as varied as Inquisitors, but some possible punishments include:
- Stripping one or more Acolytes of the ability to use the Inquisitor's influence and the power of the Inquisition.
- Ceasing all direct communication and support.
- Removing a finger, toe, eye, limb, or other body part, possibly with the promise to replace it once the Acolyte has redeemed himself.
- Sending an Assassin or Kill-squad after the Acolyte as a warning to improve his or her service.
- Consigning the Acolyte to excruciation or an act of dedicated penance.
- Codex: Daemonhunters (3rd Edition), pg. 21
- Dark Heresy: Ascension (RPG), pp. 166-167, 183
- Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 281
- Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG) (2nd Edition), pg. 270
- Dark Heresy: The Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG), pp. 212-213
- The Inquisition: An Illustrated Guide, pg. 75
- The Outcast Dead (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Wolf Hunt (Audio) by Graham McNeill