"Heretics crave the cleansing fire of absolution. They need not fear for we shall deliver."
- — Axiom First, attributed to Canoness Helflax of the Order of the Argent Shroud.
The Order of the Argent Shroud is one of the major Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas, or the Sisters of Battle, founded in honour of Saint Silvana by the Ecclesiarch Alexis XXII (the long-lived successor of the great reformer, Sebastian Thor) in the 36th Millennium.
It was at that time that the Convent Sanctorum was split between the convents on Ophelia VII and Terra, founding the Orders Militant of the Ebon Chalice, Valorous Heart, Fiery Heart and the Argent Shroud.
The majority of the Argent Shroud's sanctuaries lie in the region of space that abuts the jagged mass of Warp Storms known as the Great Rift. During the Noctis Aeterna, when Chaos energies were blasted across the galaxy and the light of the holy Astronomican was temporarily extinguished, many of these sanctuary worlds were thought lost.
Screaming maelstroms enveloped entire sub-parishes, while countless other worlds under the order's watch were bathed in the warping glow of the Cicatrix Maledictum. As galactic maps were compiled and the true scale of the horror became apparent, it was estimated that as many as eighty percent of the Argent Shroud's sisters might have been swallowed by the yawning maw.
But in the harrowing years of the Era Indomitus since, the order has continued to fight against the marauding forces of Chaos without showing any signs of diminishment. The Sororitas appear without warning in raging war zones along the breadth of the Great Rift, striking with crippling speed at their unprepared enemies.
Multiple preceptories that were thought lost have since been seen in battle, and though they say nothing of the fates of their sanctuary worlds, they fight with unmatched hatred against the servants of the Dark Gods.
Like the other founding saints of the Sororitas, Silvana was one of five sisters and a member of Alicia Dominica's bodyguard when she was taken before the Golden Throne. She is noted for the many selfless acts of self-sacrifice she performed throughout her life, and sisters who have survived a battle despite terrible odds often invoke her name in thanks for deliverance from the forces of evil.
She was one of the first sisters to lead Imperial Crusades in the name of the Emperor of Mankind. Her service as head of the order was brief. Shortly after Alicia Dominica had founded the Order of the Ebon Chalice, the remaining sisters of the Convent Prioris were placed under Silvana's command -- but Silvana was struck down before launching a single War of Faith.
In the late 36th Millennium, Silvana is said to have died after being poisoned by a Death Cult assassin, and the hjournal of Ecclesiarch Alexis XXII states that her body mysteriously vanished after having laid in state for a solar week within the Inner Sanctum of the Convent Prioris.
A silvery image of her bones was left imprinted on her death shroud, which is revered as one of the sisterhood's most holy relics, and that gives the order its title. The image most often associated with Saint Silvana is that death shroud, imprinted with the ghostly image of her skeleton.
She was declared an Imperial Saint by the unanimous vote of the Holy Synod of the Ecclesiarchy. Silvana was renowned for her altruistic spirit and her stoic faith. She seldom spoke, believing that deeds on the battlefield spoke more of a warrior's devotion than any words.
The Sisters of the Argent Shroud likewise rarely speak, and they are famed for their selfless acts of heroism. As such, the Order fields a high number of Celestian and Seraphim squads, their faith a shield as strong as their silver armour and their righteousness a weapon as potent as Bolter fire.
- Gyre Crusade (Unknown Date.M36) - The Gyre Crusade as the first campaign ever undertaken by the Order of the Argent Shroud. It is said that an Argent Shroud commandery fought a raging war across the magma flats of Dvost Prime that lasted a whole Terran year, emerging with only a handful of losses and the skulls of three Iron Warriors Warpsmiths.
- Charak Persecution (Unknown Date.M41) - Under Canoness Preceptor Chrisima, the Order of the Argent Shroud enforced the pogroms of the notorious Confessor Petasus against the mutants of Charak, cleansing the streets with their holy flamers of the foul taint of genetic deviancy.
- Exorcism of the Infected (Unknown Date.M41) - As the Death Guard’s 3rd Plague Company advances along the fringe of the Great Rift, whole systems in their wake are consumed by the disease known as the Gloaming Bloat. The infection begins to spread through the Yanthilmar System, transforming the inhabitants of all twenty six planets into swollen Poxwalkers. The system’s few survivors congregate on the moon of Yanthilmar XV. Their prayers for salvation appear to be answered when a Preceptory of Sisters of the Argent Shroud arrive unannounced from the Warp. The survivors’ hopes turn sour when they see that there are fewer than a thousand Sisters, and they are facing down whole worlds filled with Nurgle-tainted shamblers. But the Sororitas pay no heed to the cries of despair. Instead, they set about excavating a long-abandoned temple buried beneath the ice at the moon’s southern pole. After digging the temple’s antenna-like spire from the frost, the Sisters enter the inner sanctum to engage in silent prayer. After three days, a pulse of silver light bursts from the antenna, illuminating each of the planets in the Yanthilmar System one by one. Without word, the Sororitas depart the moon, travelling to each of the system’s worlds in turn. When the survivors left on the moon eventually follow the Sisters, they find only devastation. Each planet, once teeming with Poxwalkers, was now littered with mangled corpses that bore no evidence of Nurgle’s foul degradations.
- Third War for Armageddon (998.M41) - When the largest Ork WAAAGH! ever raised, led by the Warlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka, assaulted the Armageddon Sector and began the Third War for Armageddon, the Order of the Argent Shroud responded in kind. They sent seven whole companies of Battle Sisters to assist the beleaguered sector. Four companies were deployed to the Fire Wastes, whilst the remaining three companies spread throughout almost every war zone on Armageddon. In one notable incident during the brutal campaign, the order found themselves fighting alongside Armageddon militia and the notorious Flesh Tearers Space Marine Chapter. Chapter Master Gabriel Seth denied Canoness Carmina any tactical counsel whatsoever. After nearly a century in leading her Sisters to war, occasionally alongside Marine Chapters, this treatment came as no surprise. But the order's main grievance was with the way the notorious Chapter conducted themselves during the ensuing battle. The Battle Sisters struck Warlord Rukglum's army as it changed positions from shelling the mining outpost of Gaius Point, to occupying the settlement. Battered by three days' bombardment, the population of Gaius Point had dug underground and, under the careful ministrations of the order's sisters superior, were determined to form an ad hoc militia to defend their homes. The Flesh Tearers launched their attack on the Ork column when it was approximately one Imperial Mile from Gaius Point and, hitting the Orks in the rear and flanks, they drove the disorganised enemy into the Battle Sister's waiting guns. Caught between Sister and Marine, many Orks were slaughtered, with the survivors mounting their vehicles to escape with all haste. The Sisters first noticed something was very wrong when three mobs of Orks, deserted by their cowardly leaders, formed up and assaulted their front line, choosing to engage the Gaius Point militia, rather than the Sisters' deadly accurate bolt guns. The Flesh Tearers, apparently driven mad by some kind of battle frenzy, crashed into the Ork's rear ranks just as the first Orks reached the militia. The Flesh Tearers fell upon the Orks in an orgy of blood letting. Many Marines removed their helmets and, eschewing the use of pistols and other ranged weapons, set about the Orks with chainsword and knife and tooth. Canoness Carmina witnessed in mute horror, Marines ripping out the throats of Orks with their bared teeth. The raw fury and love of carnage she saw in their faces as they literally tore the enemy apart made her shudder in fear. The Orks were annihilated within seconds of the Marines' attack, but the small number of the enemy were simply not enough for the Fleshtearers who by now seemed to have been driven into a fever pitch of absolute blood lust. With no more Orks for them to butcher, they scrambled over the barricades on the perimeter of Gaius Point and smashed into the thin line of militia. Properly driven into a true battle frenzy now, the Flesh Tearers performed acts of the most debauched nature in the name of violence. Men, women and youths, all fell beneath their blades. The old, the infirm, none were spared the Flesh Tearers' crazed attack. One of the order's sister superiors later reported that she had personally witnessed cannibalistic acts committed by the frenzied Marines. The Canoness did not witness this, but she believe the sister superior's report. She ordered a hasty withdrawal of her sisters from the Flesh Tearers with all haste, before they reached their positions. The Canoness later reported the incident to the Inquisition. Her report stated that the Flesh Tearers were unstable beyond redemption and that they were not fit for duty anywhere within their mighty Imperium. The canononess firmly believed that it was evident that the Flesh Tearers had devolved far beyond any point reached by a Loyalist Chapter and requested their immediate destruction. In a separate incident, the sisters garrisoning the fortified basilica of the Temple of the Emperor Ascendant, located within Hive Helsreach, was overrun and destroyed. Many of the sacred relics of the world's first colonists were lost. Then-Reclusiarch Grimaldus of the Black Templars (one of only a handful of survivors) managed to save some of these precious relics.
Order Combat Doctrine
Without fear or doubt, the sisters of the Argent Shroud throw themselves into the deadliest conflicts, marching boldly against overwhelming enemy numbers and into hellish battlefield conditions. They avoid formulating grand stratagems and rarely communicate intended tactics to their allies, to the ire of many Imperial generals.
Simply put, the order places its trust in the divine guidance of the Emperor more than in the carefully orchestrated plans of His fallible servants. The results achieved by the Argent Shroud soon put paid to any misgivings. Spearheads of silver-clad warriors race towards teeming xenos throngs, and invasion cathedrums hurtle onto worlds writhing with Chaos energy.
With swift surges the Sororitas smash through the defensive formations of far-larger armies, destroying monstrous artillery batteries stationed behind the front lines, and permanently silencing the demagoguery of heretical enemy commanders. Lightning-fast assaults are followed by rapid withdrawals, and as the foe reels in confusion, the Sisters of the Argent Shroud reform and strike again.
By committing themselves so boldly to these offensives, the warriors of the Argent Shroud often leave themselves cut off from support, surrounded and outgunned. But it is in such dire circumstances that their faith shines brightest. The sisters cry out to Saint Silvana for protection, knowing that their fallen saint watches over them in battle -- incoming salvoes ricochet off their gleaming armour, brutal enemy blades fail to find their mark, and blasts of malefic energy veer miraculously off course.
Filled with divine conviction, the Sororitas fight on against impossible odds, standing strong amidst the carnage as they drop their foes one by one. Those sisters who fall often save their entire squad from annihilation with their dying action, throwing themselves into the line of fire just as their Matriarch would have done.
There are countless legends in which the sisters of the Argent Shroud emerged from battles that Imperial logisticians had calculated to be unsurvivable.
The most famous of these was the opening assault of the Gyre Crusade, in which the order was first deployed to war. It is said that a commandery fought a raging war across the magma flats of Dvost Prime that lasted a whole Terran year, emerging with only a handful of losses and the skulls of three Iron Warriors Warpsmiths.
Due to their propensity for hit-and run assaults, the Sisters of the Argent Shroud have some of the deadliest and most experienced shock troops of all the Adepta Sororitas. Many of the order's commanderies boast large contingents of Dominion Squads, who are deployed en masse to break through the defensive lines of unsuspecting enemies, or are sent in small numbers to infiltrate fortresses, macro-bunkers and command centres in hostile territory.
These Dominions are also leaders in many of the Order’s rites of worship, their prayers on the battlefield often being the first intoned before being echoed by the other Sisters.
The Order of the Argent Shroud teaches that deeds have more power than words when it comes to purifying the spirit and purging the taint of corruption from the Imperium. This belief is derived from the example of Silvana, whose acts of bravery and faithfulness were well recorded during the Age of Apostasy, yet not a single word spoken by her is recorded in any surviving transcription from the time.
Her sisters emulate this by speaking very little and by entering long periods of complete silence whenever they engage in training. This limitation of speech does not preclude them from prayer or worship, and like the members of other orders they still chant hymns of wrathful purgation as they march into battle.
But the sisters of the Argent Shroud believe that it is more righteous to provide their service to the God-Emperor than it is to ask for His holy favour.
A peculiarity amongst the Order of the Argent Shroud lies with how they treat their dead. Where the members of other orders cry out when a comrade is slain, reciting prayers to guide the fallen's soul to the Emperor and oaths of holy vengeance against the enemy, the sisters of the Argent Shroud say not a word.
Amongst their ranks, death is met with silence. Certain Ecclesiarchal scholars attribute this to a belief within the order that martyrdom is a luxury, a reprieve from sacred duty that should only come when there are no more enemies left to slay.
Yet the dead Sororitas are still handled with great care and solemnity after the fighting has finished. The martyrs are removed from the battlefield in sombre processions, their wounds cleaned and dressed, their armour repaired and polished, and they are laid to rest for seven solar days in the sanctuary in which they served.
After that, the bodies are removed, though what becomes of them after this point is not known by anyone outside the order.
Relics of the Argent Shroud
- Simulacrum of the Argent Shroud - The Simulacrum of the Argent Shroud is cut from the same cloth as that which was laid over the body of Saint Silvana, the Matriarch of the Order of the Argent Shroud. It is carried by the sister designated as the Spirit of Silvana when the six chosen members of the Orders Pronatus escort Saint Katherine's remains to battle. As the chosen sister reads aloud the many deeds of Silvana, an image of the saint appears in the shroud, revealing its miraculous nature for all to see.
Notable Sisters of the Argent Shroud
- Saint Silvana - Silvana is the patron and founder the Order of the Argent Shroud. She was one of five companions of Alicia Dominica, the patron and founder of the Adepta Sororitas. She was one of the first sisters to lead Imperial Crusades in the name of the Emperor of Mankind. In the mid-to-late 36th Millennium, Silvana met her fate at the hands of a Death Cult Assassin. Her remains disappeared whilst lying in state at the Convent Prioris. She was declared a saint by unanimous vote of the Holy Synod.
- Canoness Dissenta - An overzealous Canoness who attacked the forward bases of the Angels Vermillion Space Marine Chapter whilst the Order was under her leadership in 822.M41.
- Prioress Sindal - Sindal the leader of the 97 battle-sisters who guarded the Temple of the Emperor Ascendant during the siege of Hive Helsreach in the Third War for Armageddon. Despite her advanced age, she fought alongside Reclusiarch Grimaldus and the Black Templars Space Marine Chapter until the Temple's destruction by the Orks. She, along with every Sister stationed at the Temple, perished during the conflict.
As the name of the order suggests, these Sisters of Battle wear silver power armour coupled with white cloaks that have red linings.
The weapons that they bear are also red.
This order's iconography is that of an ebon skull with an Iron Halo.
- Codex: Adepta Sororitas (8th Edition), pp. 26-27, 39, 45
- Codex: Adepta Sororita (6th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 13-14
- Codex: Sisters of Battle (2nd Edition), pp. 19, 35
- Codex: Witch Hunters (3rd Edition), pp.6-7
- Helsreach (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, p.405
- The Inquisition (Sourcebook), p.65
- White Dwarf 293 (UK), "Liber Sororitas - Matriarchs of the Sisterhood," by Andy Hoare, pg. 56
- Third War for Armageddon Worldwide Campaign - Forces Disposition, Imperial Forces: Order of the Argent Shroud
|Adepta Sororitas Orders Militant|
|Orders Majoris||Order of the Argent Shroud • Order of the Bloody Rose • Order of the Ebon Chalice • Order of Our Martyred Lady • Order of the Sacred Rose • Order of the Valorous Heart|
|Orders Minoris||Order of the Black Sepulchre • Order of the Blue Robe • Order of the Crimson Oath • Order of the Bleeding Heart • Order of the Fiery Tear • Order of the Glowing Chalice • Order of the Thorn • Order of the Iron Veil • Order of the Ashen Shrine • Order of the Wounded Heart • Order of the Golden Light|