Holy confessor, defender of the Imperial Creed … evangelical zealot, fanatic, madman—the decriptions of his Holiness, Confessor Guidonis Bernard, are many and paradoxical.
Born to a wealthy merchant family on the Cardinal World of Opelia VII, Bernard grew into a hot-tempered, narrow-minded, but deeply religious young man. He took holy orders at the Synod Ministra and underwent four tumultuous years of study, entering into heated arguments with his teachers over theology and actually accusing one professor of heresy.
It quickly became clear that Bernard did not have the disposition—and perhaps the sanity—to assume a traditional priest’s posting on a peaceful Cardinal World, so his superiors sent him on a pilgrimage to the Segmentum Ultima. Essentially sent into exile, Bernard embraced the path of the Confessor—and pledged himself to the task of rooting out heresy and blasphemy wherever he found it.
Alas, he found heretics and blasphemers wherever he went—irregardless of whether they existed or not.
Always in search of a problem that didn’t exist, Bernard would make landfall on a world, stir up the populace with his fiery zealotry, and launch a pogrom against the heretic. Then he’d move on.
Needless to say, Bernard’s methods left a trail of worlds in turmoil and civil unrest, and the Adeptus Administratum has begun to follow the Confessor’s movements with great interest—and no little dread.
• Purge of the Witch of Trulescent (718.M41)— Arriving on the Hive World of Trulescent, Bernard enters the underhives of the capital city in search of a woman rumored to wield magical powers. In the one undisputed act of responsible service, the confessor uncovers a pskyer and Chaos cult and attacks with a vengeance: The “witch” cult leader is executed with a shot from a newly acquired plasma pistol by Bernard himself, and her followers are burned at the stake.
• Service with the 117th Valhallan Regiment (723-724.M41)—Joining the newly formed regiment as it begins a Crusade of Repentance, Bernard seeks to inflame the religious ardor of the guardsmen as they fight across the Oxidios Subsector. Although willing to face danger with the troops on the front lines, the confessor quickly proves unpopular as he constantly finds fault with the piety of the men.
As troop morale plummets, Bernard is firmly “invited” to leave the regiment by its senior officers—before he becomes victim to wayward friendly fire.
• Burning of Governor Navius (727.M41)—Arriving on the peaceful and benevolently ruled world of Zarkon, Bernard stirs the masses with his fiery rhetoric. Corrupt political leaders see an opportunity to rid themselves of their honest governor, Attus Navius, and begin spreading rumors about his fielty to the Emperor.
Not bothering to look deeper into the accusations, Bernard leads what is essentially a revolt against the local Imperial government. Preaching to 100,000 citizens gathered in the capital square, he whips the crowd into a riotous horde that descends on the Governor’s Palace.
The palace guard attempt to hold back the crowd, but gunfire breaks out, and the violence spirals into rioting and looting that kills at least 8,000 over the next 10 hours.
Dragged back to the square, Gov. Navius is tied to a stake and burned before a rapturous crowd of maddened citizens who believe they’re serving their Emperor.
The traitors who inspired this violence take advantage of the governor’s demise to seize power, declare martial law, and replace enlightened rule with a brutal and draconian government. Bernard is showered with honors by the new leadership and then awarded his own small space vessel so he can “root out heretics on other worlds.”
• Crusade of Penitence (729-733.M41)—Traveling across the Obsideon Sector, Bernard visits half a dozen worlds in an five-year campaign seeking to encourage Imperial citizens to display repentance for their sins against the Emperor.
Although Bernard successfully destroys a number of cults and even a Genestealer infestation during his travels—all of which adds to growing fame—his fiery exhortations also spark rioting, rebellion, and general civil unrest.
His campaign ends over the world of Trulor, where the Adeptus Administratum calls upon a nearby Imperial Navy flotilla to intercept Bernard’s ship as it enters orbit. The confessor is refused permission to land—and is threatened with being shot out of the sky unless he leaves the star system immediately.
Cult of Red Redemption
During his early years of exile from Opelia VII, Bernard was introduced to several followers of the Cult of Red Redemption, a particularly fanatical cult whose zealotry, intolerance, and homicidal activities are extreme even for members of the Imperial Cult.
According to one description¹ of the Adepta Ministorum-sanctioned cult, “They teach that only through pain, cleansing fire, and the complete rejection of anything that does not show total and utter devotion to the God-Emperor can a citizen hope to be saved from damnation and the touch of the Dark Gods.”
Although Bernard does not describe himself as a Redemptionist, he is a kindred spirit, whose stated beliefs and actions are fully aligned with those of the Red Redemption.
Arrival in the Corvus Cluster
As Bernard’s fame has spread—and the consequences of his worldly visits become known—the leadership of the Ecclesiarchy in the Ultima Segmentum has been divided about how to deal with this disruptive, even incendiary, priest.
Recently, the Adeptus Ministorum has found a potential solution. By secretly arranging for rumors to reach Bernard’s ears—about heretics, xenos, and other foes of the Emperor—they have begun to influence his travels.
Why, exactly, Bernard has been diverted to the Corvus Cluster remains unanswered. Perhaps the Ecclesiarchy hopes he will investigate the sightings of Typhus and Voloh Gudag in the Cluster. Or perhaps they see the Cluster as a backwater region where Bernard’s actions will have no larger consequences.
In any case, now he is active in this region of space—most recently appearing on the world of Dozaria where the Blood Angels are fighting an outbreak of the Kassig Plague.
What is known, in his own words, are his intentions: “We are in the midst of a holy war … to rid the galaxy of the heretic, the traitor, the xeno, the mutant. We will rage war with flame and sword and bullet. We will scourge the Corvus Cluster of all who are unworthy in the Emperor’s eyes.”
Emperor’s Wrath—Crafted by the finest artisans of Trulescent, this plasma pistol was awarded to Bernard on his arrival on the planet. The weapon became famous across six sectors after it delivered the Emperor’s judgement against the psyker known as the Witch of Trulescent.
The Emperor’s Flame: When this nearly three-meter-tall brazier is lit, its promethium-fueled flames act as a banner to lead the hive mobs into battle (really just riots) designed to root out heretics. On occasion, Bernard has been forced to wield the brazier as a club, which when swept around the trash-filled alleys of the underhive, occasionally lights a conflagration that kills as many as his rioting hordes.
Book of Heretics: Included in its vendor pages is a long list of heretics executed by Bernard—or who died because of the civil disorder sparked by his orations. Bernard is very proud of this death list, and it would never occur to him that the vast majority of names are those of innocent citizens victimized by the mindless mob violence the confessor stoked.
TheGM: As I paint incessantly to bolster the ranks of my half dozen or so armies, I occasionally add to the painting table the occasional character—in hopes that I can add to the interesting “players” who will determine the fate of the Corvus Cluster.
Confessor Bernard is the latest to be completed. As the above description makes clear, I’ve decided that my new priest will become an unpredictable, if dangerous, element in the workings of the Cluster. Bernard is brutal, fanatical—essentially a grenade thrown into a crowded room.
There is no limit to the damage this priest can do if he decides to descend on a world. Civil disorder, troop mutinies, riots, political crises—I can’t wait to see what trouble he creates.
By the way, if you reverse Bernard’s name, you’ll find that Bernard Guidonis—also known as Bernard Gui—was a 13th century French inquisitor of the Dominican Order and wrote a self-help work for inquisitors: Practica Inquisitionis Heretice Pravitatis (Conduct of the Inquisition into Heretical Wickedness).
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.
Categories: People of Interest