Located on the western edge of the Segmentum Solar, the Trail of Saint Evisser is a deeply neglected part of Imperial space, a frontier realm that has been all but forgotten by the wider Imperium. The Trail itself consists of a loose collection of star systems, which were visited in ancient times by the pilgrimage of one of the Ecclesiarchy's most obscure Saints, an individual known under the name of Kelkannis Evisser.
The Trail's official status remains somewhat of a mystery, as it does not count enough worlds to warrant the status of a Sector Imperialis and yet is not listed as a Sub-sector. Its days of glory long gone, the Trail of Saint Evisser has fallen in a deep state of neglect, which has lasted for several thousand standard years and which has left the Trail a mere shadow of its former self.
More recently, during the 13th Black Crusade of Abaddon the Despoiler, the Trail came under investigation by both the Grey Knights Chapter and the Inquisition. Led by the notorious Alaric, then a mere Justicar, this investigation uncovered a series of interlinked Chaos Cults dedicated to bringing the Greater Daemon Ghargatuloth, the Prince of a Thousand Faces, one of the most powerful lieutenants of the Chaos God Tzeentch into the material realm.
The Trail of Saint Evisser spans a dozen inhabited star systems, winding its way around nebulae and asteroid fields and marking the lengthy pilgrimage of Saint Evisser. Little is known of the Trail's history and historical data before the Age of Apostasy is at best unreliable or at worst entirely absent. For all intents and purposes, the Trail had no real existence before the famed pilgrimage of Saint Evisser, which marked the beginning of the Trail's golden age. Born on the backwater world of Sophano Secundus, the tale of the future Saint Evisser began on Solshen XIX, a planet then only recently colonised and designated as an Agri-world. Kelkannis Evisser was a simple novice Adept of the Administratum, who toiled for most of his life in the small Administratum office on Solshen XIX until the planet was ravaged by an Ork WAAAGH! that killed most of its population.
Virtually left as the lone survivor of a massacred world, the Administratum saw nothing special in Kelkannis, just a simple Adept to be reassigned elsewhere while the settlement on Solshen XIX was rebuilt. Many tales and mythologies have sprung into life around such individuals. To some they were portents of doom, men and women that had used up all their luck and that of those around them, figures to be shunned, for disaster would surely come in their wake. But for others they were lucky charms, protected by the Emperor's grace.
Seeing the touch of the Emperor's Hand in his own survival, Kelkannis Evisser refused to be drawn back into the wheels of the vast machinery that was the Administratum. The fact that he succeeded made him special. Evisser was a nobody, and it was this single fact that made him immensely popular, for it showed the countless billions of Imperial citizens that even the lowliest of them could be touched by the Emperor, that He had a plan for them. Evisser saw it as his duty to remind the Imperium of this simple truth. Many thought him mad, but Evisser was careful to prove them wrong. Evisser was more than a simple messiah, he was hope itself, hope that even the single life of a humble man or woman was ordained by the Emperor and could have a part in the Emperor's grand plan for humanity.
The populace of entire worlds called for Evisser to visit them, and every visit drew larger crowds to him. Both Planetary Governors and the Adeptus Arbites were powerless to disperse these crowds, and soon the simple folk began to talk of future Sainthood. When a virulent and unknown plague befell one of Treyptos' port hives, Evisser went into the heart of the quarantine zone and for six entire solar months, he prayed for those sick and abandoned citizens, easing their passing without contracting the disease. On the great Forge World of Magnos Omicron, the world's mutant slave-caste had risen up in arms to overthrow the Imperial yoke and threatened to take over the planet. Evisser walked unharmed through the firefight and upon meeting with the rebellion's leaders convinced them to lay down their arms and voluntarily return to work. These and many other deeds became Evisser's first miracles.
Evisser's presence also affected the Warp itself, calming the tumultuous seas of the Immaterium and easing the passage of those starships that followed his pilgrimage. Wherever Evisser went, more miracles occurred. According to legend, the moment Saint Evisser set foot on Farfallen -- on the very same spot where the great Hall of Remembrance would be built -- every flower on the world suddenly blossomed. The voyages of Saint Evisser would last for many Terran decades and ultimately forge the Trail, from the dark towers and subterranean geothermal forges of Magnos Omicron, to the great oceans of Solshen XIX, the fertile fields of Vitrix Sorona and the great fortresses of Treyptos. In the wake of Saint Evisser’s pilgrimage, the Trail became a centerpiece of the Imperial Cult, worlds building gold-domed cathedrals, countless chapels and great museums in his honour. Yet, Kelkannis Evisser was never officially canonised by the Ecclesiarchy. The title of Saint that had been awarded to Evisser had been attributed by popular acclaim, but never fully recognized by Imperial authorities.
So it came to pass that when Evisser eventually died, the Adeptus Ministorum secretly buried Evisser on Volcanis Ultor where he rested for thousands of standard years. Benefitting from the relative proximity to the Ecclesiarchy's powerhouses of Gathalamor and Chiros, the Trail became a shining beacon of faith, allegedly only surpassed by the relic-trail established by the legendary Sebastian Thor himself. Every settled world harboured cathedrals or shrines dedicated to the veneration of the God-Emperor. Each world competed in works of devotion until the festivals of the Adeptus Ministorum became week-long celebrations with processions that snaked around entire continents, but this golden age could not last eternally.
By the time the Rubicon, a Strike Cruiser of the Grey Knights Chapter entered the region, the Trail of Saint Evisser was in a state of deep neglect. The signs of this neglect were many. For instance, the former Paradise World of Farfallen was by now overrun by deep forests, as were many of the Trail's Agri-worlds. The hive cities which had haboured the uncounted millions of the Trail's population were likewise deserted and now stood almost empty. It is estimated that by the 41st Millennium, the population of those worlds which comprised the Trail had decreased by 75%. The religious fervor which had once brought prosperity to its worlds had finally burned low, and even the name of Saint Evisser was now almost forgotten.
- Farfallen - In the Trails' days of glory, Farfallen was a Pleasure World famed for its beauty, a lush garden where many of the Trail's most influential people held secondary residences and palaces. As well as the most powerful officials of the Ecclesiarchy, many ruling noble houses had estates on Farfallen, the planet being used as a preferred hunting retreat where game was imported from all across the Imperium to please the desires of its wealthy patrons. It was also during this golden age that the Adeptus Ministorum erected the gigantic Hall of Remembrance to serve as the Trail's most extensive archive and repository of knowledge, especially in religious matters. Farfallen has perhaps fared the worst since the wane of the Trail's influence. With the economic decline, all patrons either abandoned or sold their luxurious mansions and estates, while the exodus in local population meant that Farfallen's carefully maintained gardens were soon overrun by wilderness. The exotic and often dangerous imported species of game and predators present on the world now roamed wild and established a new ecosystem. Farfallen's inhabitants proved too few in numbers to effectively hunt them down. By the dawn of the 41st Millennium, Farfallen had almost become a Feral World, with only the Hall of Remembrance standing defiantly amongst the thick forest that now covered the former Garden World. Unknown to Imperial authorities, a new and highly aggressive indigenous population had grown strong in the dark forests. Obviously tainted in some way by Chaos, these savage tribes massacred Farfallen's remaining population and laid siege to the Hall of Remembrance, hurling boulders at the great building with primitive siege-engines of timber and cord. With all contact lost and no Imperial forces to spare, it is generally believed that Farfallen has fallen under the sway of these barbaric heathens.
- Magnos Omicron - The only Forge World located on the Trail of Saint Evisser, the world of Magnos Omicron is an island of prosperity and industry in a much neglected landscape. Being entirely independent from the influence of the Adeptus Ministorum, or indeed the Adeptus Terra, the Forge World's fortune has continued to grow, its industrial output considered far too valuable a resource to let it decline. Magnos Omicron's output includes ammunition, weapons and armoured vehicles for the Imperial Guard, which are always needed in greater quantities. As an independent domain of the Adeptus Mechanicus, information regarding Magnos Omicron is scarce within Imperial archives, yet it would seem that the Forge World was also affected by the machinations of the Daemon Prince Ghargatuloth that roughly occurred at the same time as the 13th Black Crusade. An unknown prophet mysteriously appeared on the Forge World at the same time as the Grey Knights deployed to Sophano Secundus, claiming that the Mechanicum should turn its back on the veneration of the Omnissiah and the rigid dogma it perpetuated to embrace innovation. In short order, three forge-fanes of the world followed this highly heretical new doctrine, causing Magnos Omicron to descend into civil war. The Inquisition has confirmed several cases of infighting within the Omicran Magi but their impact seems not to have been enough to endanger Imperial control. The subsequent reduction in productivity, however, had far-stretching repercussions on ongoing Imperial wars.
- Solshen XIX - Solshen XIX is both an Ocean World and one of the Trail's most important Agri-worlds. In the distant past, before even the rise of Saint Evisser, Solshen XIX was invaded by Orks who butchered almost the entirety of the planet's population. In the wake of this invasion, Solshen XIX was repopulated with colonists drawn from elsewhere within the Imperium. The Agri-world had fared better than most planets invaded by Greenskins, but quickly fell to Chaos when an unknown Chaos Cult led by the Planetary Governor's own son overthrew the local government. The Governor was hanged on the cliffs above his villa by a noose made of his own flesh while the cult summoned forth daemons and soon the entire planet was deemed lost. The loss of Solshen XIX's agricultural output also meant that thousands of inhabitants of the Trail's hive cities were condemned to starve to death.
- Sophano Secundus - Sophano Secundus is a Feudal World located on the Trail of Saint Evisser. Discovered so long ago that no archive contains the world's entire history under Imperial rule, human civilisation on this drab and barren world resolves itself around a few feudal kingdoms that formed on Sophano Secundus' only habitable continent. Apparently, the Missionaria Galaxia has maintained a presence on Sophano Secundus since the late days of the Great Crusade, when the Emperor was already worshipped as a god, which was the only reason why there were any records at all of this remote world. Somehow overlooked by the Administratum, no colonisation effort was made to further civilise Sophano Secundus, and thus the planet remained in the custody of the Adeptus Ministorum, which kept only a small mission on the world. Given the native population's reluctance to accept new technologies, Sophano Secundus was deliberately kept at the level of a Feudal World, ruled over by a selected nobleman who took the title of Allking and held court in the planetary capital of Hadjisheim. Official records indicate that the Adeptus Ministorum deemed the faith of Sophano Secundus' people stable, but the Imperial Creed had failed to totally evict the heretical practice of ancestor worship. Yet even this was revealed to be a lie when the acting Allking Rashema the Stout tried to murder Inquisitrice Ligeia, who had come to Sophano Secundus to investigate the presence of a dangerous daemon, Ghargatuloth, the Prince of a Thousand Faces. However, not only the Allking himself, but also his entire army as well as the Missionary Polonias –- who proved to be a powerful Chaos Sorcerer –- had been entirely corrupted by Chaos. This scale of corruption warranted a swift counterattack, and so the Grey Knights deployed to the surface. Ambushed by the Allking's army, the Grey Knights had to fight their way clear, Grey Knights Terminators charging and defeating Tharr-mounted cavalry. In the end, mere numbers could not hope to stand against the vastly superior firepower of the Grey Knights, their Power Armour and Terminator Armour proving almost impervious to the Secundian weapons. Slaughtering their way into Hadjisheim, Alaric and his Battle-Brothers confronted Missionary Polonias and the daemons he had summoned, while Ligeia's Death Cultists slew the Allking and his mutant bodyguards. The thorough corruption of Sophano Secundus was inexplicable, until it became evident that Polonias was in fact Crucien, the original Missionary who had settled on Sophano Secundus in the 30th Millennium and corrupted it to the service of Chaos from the very beginning. This meant that Ghargatuloth had laid the foundations of his plan ten thousand standard years before, before he was even banished by Grand Master Mandulis. The purge of Sophano Secundus marked the beginning of a period of turmoil that soon engulfed the entire Trail of Saint Evisser. Chaos Cults affiliated with the Prince of a Thousand Faces unleashed their wrath simultaneously on almost every world of the Trail, heralding Ghargatuloth's rebirth. Sophano Secundus was subsequently purged by local troops and Hadjisheim destroyed by orbital bombardment.
- Treyptos - The Civilised World of Treyptos has always been the ancestral seat of power within the Trail of Saint Evisser. At the height of its might, Treyptos had been an exclusive Fortress World, reserved for the wealthy and mighty of the Trail's aristocracy. It was then no surprise that the Inquisitorial Representative on the Trail would choose Treyptos as its principal base of operations to watch over the ranks of the Imperial Navy, the Imperial Guard and the Ecclesiarchy. The Trail's decline hit Treyptos hard, as the fortified suburbs were gradually abandoned until the only site of activity was the Inquisitorial Fortress in the hands of the Ordo Hereticus. The keep took the form of an impressive granite fortress whose thick battlements hid planetary Defence Lasers and orbital missile bays, but even there the signs of abandon and neglect were many: large parts of the fortress had been left to decay, especially the fortress' archives, which gradually succumbed to rot and humidity. In the 41st Millennium, a single Inquisitor, Lamerrian Klaes, still held court on Treyptos, his agents spread across the Trail, but even the fortress' staff had gradually dwindled. The fortress' infrastructure was also beginning to crumble, Cogitators breaking down and lumen globes burning out. However, in the wake of the events on Volcanis Ultor, it is quite possible that the Inquisitorial Fortress may be restored to its former glory.
- Villendion (Agri-World)
- Vitrix Sorona - Located within the Vitrix System, Vitrix Sorona was once a prosperous Agri-world until the Trail's decay set in. Crime soon flourished on Vitrix Sorona, and the Arbites gradually had to relinquish control of the entire planet to focus their efforts on the Imperium's most valuable possessions. In itself this evolution was utterly unremarkable, until Vitrix Sorona came under closer scrutiny by the Inquisition in the wake of a Chaos-related insurrection within the city of Theograd, Vitrix Sorona' second largest settlement. While the insurrectionists had already been trapped within Theograd's Administratum complex by the local Adeptus Arbites, the Arbites were lucky to receive off-world reinforcements in the form of the Grey Knights of Acting Captain Alaric. Storming the building and having to confront Tzeentchian daemons, the Grey Knights discovered that the insurrectionists were in fact a full-fledged Chaos Cult. Worse yet, by their attire, the cultists had obviously once been Administratum clerks. Further investigations would confirm that the Cult's activities stretched back several decades, having used its hold on Vitrix Sorona's criminal elements to loot places of worship and steal Imperial relics. The Cult had even conducted murders and harvested body parts from their victims, but their actions had appeared too random to make for a comprehensible plot until the involvement of Inquisitrice Ligea, who was able to confirm Ghargatuloth's influence on the Cult.
- Volcanis Ultor - Volcanis Ultor was once the Trail's most prominent Hive World, second in authority only to Treyptos. While nominally independent, the Adeptus Ministorum has always shown much interest in this world and effectively ruled it as part of its domains. Since the rediscovery of its existence, many scholars have suggested that the Ecclesiarchy's interest may be traced back to the burial of Saint Evisser on Volcanis Ultor. However, since the Trail's decline, Volcanis Ultor's fortunes have waned. By the 41st Millennium, Volcanis Ultor was a strange mix of abandoned and overcrowded hive cities, the remaining inhabitants huddling together for security. In the wake of the destruction of Sophano Secundus, a hidden sect took control of Hive Tertius' geothermal heatsinks and overloaded them, engulfing many of the hive's underlevels in nuclear fire. This act of open aggression motivated Cardinal Recoba, an esteemed figure within the Trail's clergy, to declare the Planetary Governor, Livrianis, unfit to rule and seize power for himself. Calling for reinforcement, the Ecclesiarchy acted with atypical rapidity, despatching a Preceptory of Sisters of Battle from the Order of the Bloody Rose to Volcanis Ultor as well as rerouting two entire regiments of Imperial Guardsmen –- the Methalor 12th Scout Regiment and the Balurian Heavy Infantry -- to reinforce the struggling Hive World. For the most part, these reinforcements were deployed in defence of Hive Superior, although some forces were also detached to contain the civil unrest within Hive Tertius, where some popular messianic movement had taken over many of the hive's lower levels. Unfortunately for the Imperium, the Cardinal would let himself be duped by the Renegade Inquisitor Gholic Ren-Sar Valinov. Following Valinov's counsel, Recoba deployed his best troops and the bulk of Volcanis Ultor's Planetary Defence Forces on the shore of Lake Rapax, which also was the burial site of Saint Evisser. Ghargatuloth would need to possess the Saint's body to enter the material realm. Unable to prevent the mighty daemon's rebirth, the Grey Knights under Acting Captain Alaric succeeded in banishing the daemon back to the Immaterium through great sacrifice, thus thwarting Ghargatuloth's plans to open a second front for Chaos at the rear of the Cadian Gate.
- Grey Knights (Novel) by Ben Counter