"Your mistake was not simply that you strayed from the light of the Blessed Throne or were derelict in your duties, nor that you consorted with heretics and drank deep of the forbidden. Nor was it even your arrogance that you were strong enough to remain pure. No, your most grievous error was in believing that you could do these things un-seen and un-judged!"
Inquisitor Claudia Tarshek, from the Excommunication of the Witch Hunter Mokartus

A Libricar-Inquisitor executing a Chaos Space Marine

A relatively newly-fanned flame of Radicalism founded from an unexpected source in the Calixis Sector, a Libricar is a member of a faction of the Inquisition that is a relative newcomer to the clash of Inquisitorial ideologies and doctrines. The doctrine of the Libricar is one that earns its fanatical counter-reformers an often outcast status in the Holy Ordos. An extremist outgrowth of the Puritan Amalathians, for the Libricar it is not enough to preserve the institutions of the Imperium, but also necessary to ensure that those who rule and maintain them are ceaselessly watched, mercilessly judged, and made pure by bloodshed.

To a follower of the Libricar doctrine the sacred pattern of the Imperium, as divinely ordained by the mind of the God-Emperor, has become weakened from within by petty political corruption, factional strife, and beset by arrogant ideology, not least of all within the Holy Ordos of the Inquisition itself. Above all, they despise those proponents of change who presume to second-guess the will of the divine or betray their Emperor-given power and privilege for petty personal vice. For the Libricar, true order must be restored and Imperial tradition venerated and the path to this sacred goal is clear -- and if they must take it into their own hands and become judge, jury, and executioner in order to show the way, then so be it.


The Promise of Gathalamor

To understand the root causes and origins of the Libricar doctrine, it is first necessary to understand the origins and concerns of the more widely accepted and acclaimed Amalathian ideology from which it springs. The opening years of the 41st Millennium have been described by some Adepts as a brief summer of spiritual and physical resurgence for the Imperium of Man as whole, and a key part of this renewal was the great conclave held on the Shrine World of Gathalamor, at Mount Amalath. At this conclave thousands of military, political and religious leaders of every stripe and corner of Imperial space, from Sector Governors to a score of Chapter Masters from the mighty and aloof Astartes all gathered to reaffirm their faith in the God-Emperor's vision and reswear their oaths of allegiance to the High Lords of Terra. Gathalamor was the birthplace of many portentous events that followed it, from the foundation of what would become the Macharian Crusade to the final ending of the bloody Suzerain Reformation Wars, but perhaps the most subtle and widely influential was the birth of the Amalathian movement. The movement formalised a long-standing groundswell of belief held by many Inquisitors that the Imperium's structure and direction was fundamentally sound. As a salient doctrine and society of peers, the Amalathians, taking their name from the mountain bedrock on which they stood, cohered in part as a reaction against the growth of more Radical doctrines, and prospered in the groundswell of optimism and impetus the conclave had come to embody.

Large numbers of Inquisitors joined the Amalathian movement and subsequently returned to their home sectors, spreading the conviction that it was their sacred duty to protect and nurture the Imperium's resurgent strength throughout much of the Inquisition. Unfortunately as the 41st Millennium has progressed, the Age of the Imperium has grown ever darker, and much of Gathalamor's light has been since swallowed up in shadow. While many Amalathian Inquisitors have gone on to show the courage of their convictions despite this and held true to their beliefs, others have fallen by the wayside and either given up on the Amalathian principle in favour of other, more militant or more Radical doctrines. Of these the Libricar movement is perhaps the Amalathians' most extreme and bitter outgrowth, born by the perceived betrayal of Gathalamor's promise by the venal and petty corruption of the Imperium's ruling classes.

"Let None be Beyond the Emperor's Wrath"

The Libricar owe the moment of their birth as a cohesive doctrine to the aftermath of the so-called "Slighting Wars" that erupted in the Ptolemaic Reach and Crassan Sub-sector regions of the Ixaniad Sector, on the Calixis Sector's Coreward border in the late 430s of the 41st Millennium. When the Crassan governorship fell vacant, a long burning morass of bitter noble vendettas and bloody trade feuds broke out into a series of interplanetary wars and civil conflicts that saw a volume of space blessedly untouched by direct warfare for more than three standard centuries suddenly bathed in blood. The wars, though brief and swiftly brought to a crashing halt by the intervention of the Battlefleet Obscurus and the Lords Segmentum, were exceptionally vicious and saw the whole of inter-sector trade and supply in nearby conflict zones reliant on their output grind to a standstill for nearly a decade. The repercussions of this economic anarchy lead directly to the failure of the second Meridius Crusade and the loss of a dozen inhabited Imperial worlds to WAAAGH! Heart'rippa and a wave of other setbacks.

In the aftermath, the task of rooting out the guilty fell to the controversial figure of Inquisitor Claudia Tarshek, then a respected Amalathian of long standing. Given her writ of legatine authority by the Inquisitorial Representative to the High Lords of Terra in person and charged specifically to "Let none be beyond the Emperor's Wrath" in the matter, it was clear from the start that an example was to be made at the highest levels for the whole Segmentum. With Battlefleet detachments, an entire army group and thousands of Arbitrators put at her disposal, and over seventy other Inquisitors placed under her warrant, rarely has such power been vested in a single hand. In retrospect, perhaps it was too much.

The Crassan Purge lasted for eleven standard years, considerably longer in fact than the wars that had spawned it. During this time, it is said that Tarshek signed over three hundred thousand death warrants by her own hand. The principle target of the purge quickly became the Crassan Sub-sector's ancient and convoluted network of governing clans and guilds whose greed and narrow-minded arrogance had caused such ruin on worlds far removed from their own. Sickened by the political corruption and overweening ambition she found, Tarshek railed savagely and publicly against the Crassan nobility's sins. On some worlds entire aristocracies were sent to the gallows or the pyre, while on Merovincha, the primary hive city was bombarded from orbit when its rulers refused admittance to her inquest. As time passed, Tarshek strayed ever further from the spirit of the Amalathian doctrine, if not its letter, and implored repeatedly in council and in her many missives to those Inquisitors placed under her command to be as "Libricar," to use the pre-Imperial form. She desired for them to weigh the souls and the worth of those in power on the scales of their judgement, and send those found wanting to perish.

As the purge went on and on, dissent began to breed in the ranks. Tarshek's judgement began to be called into question as she began to re-visit and re-purge worlds that had already felt her anger, often finding perceived flaws and inequities in individuals she herself had formerly put in power. Matters came to a head and spurred open conflict within the Holy Ordos itself when she and her closest coterie of allies began to target members of the Adeptus Terra and even Inquisitors present in the Crassan Sub-sector not part of her purge, often accusing them of dereliction of duty in allowing the wars to occur in the first place. Not long after the publicly bloody apprehension and trial (and the subsequent escape) of the infamous Xanthite Witch Hunter Mokartus by her followers, Tarshek's personal flagship, the Lunar-class cruiser Magera suffered catastrophic reactor failure and consigned both Tarshek and much of her inner circle to fiery oblivion. Whether this was pure misfortune, or the result of the actions of the wily Mokartus, the vengeance of the Crassan nobility, or even the action of the Lords Segmentum as some dissident voices in the Inquisition have since claimed -- ridding themselves of a tool that had outlived its usefulness-- remains unknown. Certainly investigations into the matter afterward were desultory at best and the Crassan Purge was allowed to quickly die out without the impetus of its driving force and central authority.

Even though her life and the now-infamous purge she lead were ended, Claudia Tarshek's legacy was to live on. She has provided both a heroic martyr and an intellectual framework for a hardened core of disaffected Amalathians ever since. Those who are driven either through conviction or bitter experience and look to bloody and retributive measures to reassert the Emperor's chosen order and defend against damaging change view her work not as a monstrous excess but a golden standard. She has also given these self-professed "saviours" of the Imperium's traditions a name; the Libricar, and her example would become a rallying cry to them for years to come.

The Red Scourge of Sibellus

The Libricar doctrine first gained a solid foothold in the Calixian Conclave of the Inquisition in 609.M41 during the restoration of the power and prestige of the Lucid Court of Scintilla remembered by Calixian scholars as the Sult Ascendancy. During this time and with the backing of the Calixian Inquisition, the newly inaugurated Lord Sector Larhanus Sult (somewhat ironically entitled "The Great Conciliator" by his biographers) did much to pull back executive authority to his office as well as presiding over a massive expansion of the military forces under the Lord Sector's direct control. This resurgence of power in the seat of the Lord Calixis was in no small part a reaction to a dangerous corrosion of the Calixis Sector's governance and the growing and often malign influences of a burgeoning Combine Commercia and the petty nobility. This was a rot many traced back first to the horrors of the Brotherhood of the Horned Darkness' corruption of the Lucid Court nearly two standard centuries before and the shadow war that ended it.

Sult's closest ally in the Ordos, and a growing power in the Calixian Conclave at the time was Inquisitor Drakos Monke, once an Acolyte of Tarshek herself and a staunch advocate of the then-newborn Libricar doctrine. At Sult's invitation, Monke was charged with overseeing aggressive reforms to the governance of Hive Sibellus, a task he took to with bloody gusto worthy of the Crassan Purge in which as a young man he had taken part, and soon gained Sult's respect and favour, rapidly earning himself the appellation of the "Red Scourge." As Sult's star rose so did Monke's, despite growing accusations from his peers that he had become too close to the personal clique of the Lord Sector and had lost his objectivity. For several standard decades Monke remained a potent force within the Conclave Calixis and was grudgingly raised to the title of Lord Inquisitor, based in no small part on Sult's backing. Monke further cemented his powerbase by building up an inner circle of subordinate Inquisitors, most of whom shared his doctrine to some extent, although he counted far more enemies than friends in the Conclave, particularly in the Ordo Malleus and the Tyrantine Cabal of who he seemed to carry a deep seated disdain and distrust.

When Monke died in 734.M41 (apparently of natural causes), his power and influence had long since waned as Sult himself gave way to his kinsman Marius Hax, and those who had long born grudges against Monke and his allies, (rumours of secret murder-cells used against fellow Inquisitors' operations by them had long been rife) were quick to make good on their simmering enmity. Those who did not immediately desert Monke's old inner circle and its successors quickly found themselves ostracised in the Conclave or the brunt of revenge attacks, damaging intrigues or more formal Inquisitorial scrutiny. At one particularly turbulent Grand Conclave Synod, the Libricaran doctrine and Monke's personal record was mercilessly attacked by speaker after speaker with the tacit backing of none other than Lord Inquisitor Caidin himself. The implication and result could not be in doubt; the Libricar and their doctrine were no longer welcome among the mainstream of the Calixian Conclave and those few Inquisitors that bitterly remained attached to its calling soon found themselves relegated to de facto status as outsiders, viewed with deep suspicion by their peers. Despite this reversal of fortune, the Libricar's presence in the Calixis Sector did not end. It was merely forced underground, its survival aided by the remnants of Monke's well-hidden private network and web of contacts and those that remain loyal to the doctrine are more militant than ever in their convictions.

Stability at Any Price

"No my Masters, I do not deny it. I swore my oath to defend mankind from its enemies both within and without, and defend it by blood and my will I have. You may call me Radical or Renegade, but in my heart, I know I have remained true."
— Acolyte Locos Bok, Libricar, at his trial for the murder of Prelate Quilp, later acquitted

The Libricar are a minor Inquisitorial faction, but one that has gained notoriety beyond its actual representation or influence thanks to both its vociferous counter-revolutionary doctrine and the single-minded zeal with which it pursues its targets. More a branding of like-minded zealots and extreme hard line reactionaries than a cohesive sect, the Libricar's sole aim is the maintenance of the Imperium's status quo at any price. This goal is achieved by subverting and destroying any radical or disruptive force or agency before it becomes a threat regardless of the source, or the elimination of authorities that may have become corrupt and unfit. The judgement of Libricaranism is uniformly harsh and unyielding; death to the recidivist, the revolutionary, and the deviant. Controversially, many Libricar are also of the conviction that the places that should be scoured first are the halls of the great and the powerful of the Imperium.

Contrary to common Amalathian doctrine which offers a considerable leeway and tolerance for the various Adepta and the Imperium's powers-that-be, the Libricar reason that this tolerance has allowed the Emperor's divine order to become tainted by the greed and ambitions of the weak and corrupt. To their reasoning, rot spreads most dangerously and does the worst damage at the highest levels of Imperial society. However, unlike other Radical factions that espouse sweeping away tradition and established power, the Libricar defend the institutions of the Imperium at all cost, especially from internal weakness. Accordingly, the Libricar espouse the viewpoint that the Inquisition is uniquely placed to police the Imperium's highest authorities more closely than it has, and indeed that it is the Emperor's will that they do so, after they clean out their own house...

Even as an ideological standpoint, it can readily be imagined just how easily Libricaran doctrine can be the cause of argument, resentment, and defamation within an Inquisitorial Conclave, particularly since some of its proponents controversially see themselves standing in moral judgement even against the Inquisition and the Ecclesiarchy itself without official sanction to do so. The most extreme Libricaran Radicals have openly called for a great purging of "disruptive elements" from the Imperial body politic and a "return to the ancient traditions laid out by the writ of the God-Emperor" that would consign as many to the grave as any Redemptionist crusade would send suspected sinners to the pyre. The difference being that if the extremist Libricar's proposals were to be followed, the victims would be members of the Imperial nobility, the Administratum, the Ecclesiarchy, and the Inquisition itself. To the Libricar mind, the Recongregator or the Istvaanian and their fellow travellers are as worthy of immediate death as any xenophile or Warp-cultist. Given the intransigence and entrenched power of those that would judge, many of the Libricar have fallen into secret plots and covert terror and assassination campaigns to enact what they see as their righteous judgement, and walk a perilous tightrope as dangerous as that of any Xanthite in risking the Inquisition's wrath. To the Libricar, the Imperium's long-term stability is a prize that is worth any price to pay, and if sacrifices have to be made at all levels of Imperial society and power to achieve the glorious will of the Golden Throne, then that too is ordained.

The Amalathian Doctrine

The Amalathian viewpoint is one of the widest-held and best accepted of the diverse dogmas and ideologies to be found present within the Holy Ordos of the Inquisition, and its adherents found across all the differing Ordos. The fundamental position of the Amalathian doctrine is that the Imperium as it stands is valid, divinely-ordained, and worth fighting for. Amalathian Inquisitors therefore strive to maintain the current balance of power and the structure of the Imperium's military, Church, and state. Change other than the slow glacial pace of history is for them an anathema and revolution an unthinkable blasphemy against the divine order. This doctrine leads Amalathian Inquisitors in scouring out and destroying any individual or agency that might destabilise or damage the greater Imperium both from without and within its domain. As a result, Amalathian Inquisitors often rank the crimes of bodily and spiritual corruption, witchery, and personal heresy as being of a lower priority for their attentions than wider threats against the status quo or ones that endanger or corrupt the standing institutions of the Imperium either on a local or interstellar level.

One marked characteristic of those that follow the Amalathian doctrine is their tendency to operate "within the system" and display a tolerant conservatism to the rights and domains of the Imperium's various arms of governance and authority (where they have not become corrupt or overstepped their bounds). This approach commonly sees them working successfully in close co-operation with the Adeptus Arbites, the Adeptus Ministorum, and local authorities such as the Imperial Governors and planetary law enforcement. They also maintain good relations with notoriously independent powers such as the Cult Mechanicus and the Navis Nobilite.

Compared to all the ideologies prevalent within the Inquisition, Amalathism has remained one of the most stable, and perhaps the one closest to the founding conception of the Inquisition; the Imperium should find strength through unity, and unity through strength. Although over the years there have been self-professed Amalathians who have strayed far from the path into Radicalism of their own accord, or have in the judgement of their peers "gone too far," they have been few true splinter doctrines from the Amalathian root. Radicals tend to react against this conservative and Puritan creed rather than adopt it. As such, the development of Libricaranism amounts to a disturbing and unexpected development in the eyes of many. Most Amalathians would prefer to see this Radical cancer cut from the body of the Inquisition.

Current Conspiracies

"You have strayed and been found wanting."
—Libricaran pronouncement of death

After suffering the nadir of their influence in the Calixis Sector some standard decades ago, the small but fanatical Libricar presence in the Conclave Calixis has been slowly and carefully plotting its return and cautiously expanding reach. Until recently, the faction included no more than a handful of disparate outcasts who have either hung on bitterly after the harrowing of the late Lord Inquisitor Monke's former allies or come to the doctrine on their own. However, while few in number, the Libricar are starting to organise and meet in secret once more to affirm their accords. This quiet resurgence is in no small part due to a growing perception by some Inquisitors (particularly independents of an Amalathian mindset) that the Calixian Conclave has become ever more divided and plagued by schism and infighting over recent years, while the threats to the sector have only multiplied and grown. Although by no means a coherent movement yet, nor with any great overarching plan, these new Libricar are notably distinct from their forbears in the caution they take in how loudly they profess their cause and their immediate willingness to circumvent Inquisitorial procedure and authority to enact their judgments.

The Barsapine Project

Although the Calixian Libricar have no true leader as of yet, the front runner for the role is an up-and-coming member of the Ordo Hereticus named Constantos Trevelyan. A former loyal servant of the noted Spectarian Inquisitor Globus Vaarak (himself one of the sector's most respected Amalathians), Trevelyan came to prominence during the Tranch War where he garnered notice for his single-minded pursuit of the scattering witches and mutant rebels of the Pale Throng. It was in fact his experience with the corruption on Tranch that swung him to the Libricar cause, although this is a fact he has kept largely hidden. Charismatic and meticulous, Trevelyan has been in recent years been given the rank of Planetia Inquisitor for the minor Hive World of Baraspine after destroying a Pale Throng uprising there and executing the infamous malefic sorcerer who sponsored it. Since taking up his post, he has quietly and covertly begun the project of building up a power base there and converting a significant percentage of Barsapine's Conclavian Council to his favoured doctrine. His plan is slowly progressing, and through a diligent mix of overt and fully-sanctioned Inquisitorial vigilance and secret "Star Chamber justice" administered by a Moritat assassin sub-cult he has nurtured there, the "Barsapine Project" is bearing fruit.

The Kaede Sanction

One of the first actions of the newly allied Calixian Libricar has been to mark the flamboyant Inquisitor Vownes Kaede for death. Although nominally a Puritan, Kaede's eccentricities, cavalier attitude to external authorities, and repeated flouting of his fellow Inquisitors when it comes to spiriting young psykers away for service, not to mention his public and repeated criticism of the Libricar cause have all served to sign his execution warrant as far as they are concerned. He is the epitome of a "Rogue Agent" in the Libricars' eyes, wrongly tolerated by his fellow Inquisitors. Rather than come after him publicly and denounce him in Conclave as they might have once done, instead the Libricar have opted to slowly pick apart his organisation and leave him vulnerable for a final death stroke. As a result, several Libricar sympathisers have already moved against him and begun the task of infiltrating Kaede's support network and tracking his movements. In recent solar months one of his notoriously militant Acolyte bands was drawn out and ambushed while investigating a Heretek cult in the Sinophian hinterlands. They were slaughtered to a man, and the hot-blooded Kaede has vowed to avenge their deaths -- little realising the true nature of the culprits responsible or the trap being laid for him. Nor is his the only name on the Libricar's death list.

The Libricar and the Holy Ordos

The doctrine of the Libricar is not one that garners much by way of respect or recognition within the Inquisition as a whole, relegating its advocates to the status largely either of lone voices or small localised groups pouring out their vitriol on their fellows when the opportunity arises. This lack of influence or acceptance has made even the most idealistic Libricar Inquisitor more than a little bitter and willing to test the bounds of their authority where they can. In terms of role and placement within the Holy Ordos, their ideological isolation often garners those of this faction the role of independent Inquisitor-at-Large, whether they wish it or not. Notable exceptions to this are Inquisitors who have come to the Libricar position late in their career, managing to maintain their prior Ordo affiliation (although often earning the disdain of erstwhile friends in doing so) and small cliques of Libricar Inquisitors and their tacit supporters which have formed within the Ordo Hereticus in some locales.

The Libricar's detractors in the Inquisition see their doctrines as hopelessly simplistic and reactionary, and the rallying cries and denouncements of the few Libricaran Inquisitors are viewed by many moderates as divisive demagoguery of the most dangerous sort. However, some on either side of the Puritan/Radical divide have taken delight in using the Libricar's unsubtle ideology and lack of broad support as a lever to make its proponents cat's-paws in their own rivalries, vendettas and intrigues.

The Libricar's greatest enemy in the wider Holy Ordos, and the principle reason its membership is largely ostracised and kept on the fringe of Inquisitorial affairs, is the strong antipathy presented to them by many of the Puritans of the Amalathian creed from which the Libricar themselves spring. Many Amalathians see the Libricar doctrine as a dangerous corruption of the true way; a naive folly that would do infinitely more harm than it would good for the Imperium, risking creating the very anarchy and schism it would claim to prevent in its heedless stampede. Worse still for the Amalathians are those Libricar who go beyond merely raising riot in Conclave or disrupting the steady rule of an Imperial world with an unwarranted "fishing expedition" against political corruption. Some Libricar covertly or overtly step outside the bounds of the Inquisition's authority to pursue their doctrine. Unsanctioned assassination pogroms, disguised sabotage campaigns, and even black operations against fellow Inquisitors; all these charges have been laid against Libricar agents in the past. In every case, it is the Puritan Amalathians who are among the first to call for inquest and declare the culprits' lives forfeit if evidence of guilt is found.

The Libricar and other Inquisitorial Factions

Without exception, all the major Inquisitorial factions considered Radical by the mainstream are as openly contemptuous of the Libricar as they themselves are of the other Radicals, seeing them as petty and spiteful counter-reformers, mindless fanatics unworthy of an Inquisitorial Rosette. Nor do they garner much open support from the Puritan mainstream as a whole, with the Amalathians in particular singling them out for antipathy. The Libricar, for their part, have a strange relationship with their ideological forbears. This ranges from disgust at their weakness to a burning desire to "prove them wrong," while they also have little time for what they see as the deluded ramblings and wishful thinking of the Thorians. Of the other Radical factions, all are considered woeful and worthy of the Libricar's ire for the simple crime of attempting to "second guess" the will and divine plan of the Golden Throne. In particular, the Recongregators are singled out for the Libricars' righteous fury, as they are the arch-proponents of revolution and change.

In the Calixian Conclave, the disdain and outcast status the Libricar suffer has long become almost institutionalised to the point where even some known Radical Xanthites are likely to get a fairer hearing than a known Libricar. This in turn has lead some of those who have come to embrace the Libricar doctrine to almost revel in the role of Inquisition outsider, and the strange freedom and enforced self-sufficiency such a position can bring despite its dangers. Other Libricar equally have learned to keep their own councils with the like-minded in secret.

Acolytes of the Libricar

The Libricar pick their Acolytes by no selection criteria other than the love of the God-Emperor and the willingness to embrace wholeheartedly the faction's doctrinal standpoint on what must be done to preserve the Imperium. The assumption of the Libricar doctrine may also be arrived at naturally regardless of an Acolyte's master or their own past leanings, as the answer it offers can easily appeal to those who have been forced time and again to confront the paradox of defending a system but despising the weakness and corruption of those who populate it. Within this broad base can be found Acolytes of every calling and speciality. The Libricar emphasis of justice without favour and the strict adherence to the Emperor-ordained traditions of Imperial power speaks most readily to those with a background in the Adeptus Arbites, members of the more independent orders of the Adeptus Ministorum, as well as idealists and bitter pragmatists regardless of their origins.


  • Dark Heresy: The Radical's Handbook (RPG), pp. 98-103
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