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“We arrived deep in local winter and stayed for nearly a week. C complained, of course – unpredictable ground, foul weather, all the usual Voidborn grumbles. Secretly I think he was as impressed as I was by the capital. The holy statues are too vast to comprehend, even for someone used to Navy ships. More like mountains than artefacts. Went hunting in hill forests – unsuccessful but hugely enjoyable; hired snow gear from native guide, wasted a lot of ammunition. Local wildlife faster than expected!” – Travel Diary of Lucius di Firro, 575.M41
An ancient seat of nobility in the Sector, Nivalis is an inhospitable but beautiful planet just far enough inside it’s sun’s orbit to avoid the designation of Ice World. The habitable zone on the planet is restricted to a mountainous strip a few hundred kilometres wide at the Equator, with the rest of the planet locked in permanent glacial cold.
The mountains are home to a hardy, hospitable breed of Imperial citizens who greatly prize physical courage and cunning. Their favoured hobby is hunting, and anyone of birth or breeding on the planet is expected to prove their worth by tracking and killing one of the many dangerous mountain beasts. Nivalians view the wearing of furs, or jewellery made from the teeth or claws of one’s kills, as a status symbol, and tend to look down on those who do not wear them.
Nivalis is a Shrine World first and foremost, with piety driven into the very bones of the land. Travellers and pilgrims say that every valley and secluded peak boasts its own shrine to the God-Emperor and His saints. Some of the highest peaks have been carved into massive likenesses of the great Heroes of the Imperium, the greatest of these visible from distant orbit. The constant presence of pilgrims travelling to and from the planet has led to extensive development in the urban centres. The capital and many secondary cities boast all the facilities that the discerning and pious citizen might need, and there is an extensive transport network connecting the most popular pilgrimage sites. In happier times, it was said that one could walk into a cathedral in the capital and find worshippers from every world in the Sector at prayer together.
Nivalis’ peaceful existence came to an abrupt end in 584.M41. According to official records, a group of heretics disrupted the traditional annual religious festivities, leading to widespread panic and rioting. The riots spread in an uncontrolled wave across the planet, taking the meagre Planetary Defence Force by surprise and shattering the once-peaceful planet into civil chaos. The Ecclesiarchy called in the Adeptus Sororitas to suppress and control the unrest, with the Order of our Martyred Lady supplying a large operational deployment of Militant Sororitas.
While engaged in counterinsurgency and stabilisation, the Sisters reported a miracle whose echoes are still felt in the religious and political hierarchies of the Sector. Every statue of the God-Emperor on the planet, from tiny household icons to the kilometre-high colossus at the heart of the planetary capital, was witnessed to weep tears of blood. In the wake of this miracle, the Sisters engaged in offensive operations to return Nivalis to order with a bloodthirsty piety unlike anything seen before on the planet.
Nivalis fell under the rule of Cardinal-Emissarius Grulge. The ongoing civil conflict was suppressed – often brutally – the insurgency kept to a quiet simmer by the security presence of the Sisters Militant.
Despite this Nivalis was no longer the safe haven for pilgrims that it once was, with scattered groups of heretics and planetary nationalists – bitter at the long arm of the Ecclesiarchy “usurping” their government – still holding out in the rural mountain areas despite the Sorors’ best efforts.
The Invasion of Nivalis and Subsequent Conflicts – 592.M41 Onwards
In 592.M41 the Space Hulk Durovera’s Pain appeared from the warp above Nivalis, bringing multiple renegade vessels in its wake, exiting close to planetary orbit. This foul fleet made short work of the Pilgrim and System Defence vessels, and soon the orbit of Nivalis burned with the hulls of ruined vessels, in a swift four-hour campaign, the Enemy established orbital control of Nivalis.
Recognising the danger, of orbital attack the Order of his Sanguine Tears evacuated their Fortress-Covent knowing it was vulnerable to orbital attack, letting Archenemy fire destroy it while the Order made its way to the the Cathedral-City of Nivalis and reinforced there beneath its protective void shields alongside the Fidelis Militia. Insurgent Nivalian forces, no friend to the Archenemy or the Cardinal and his Allies, realizing something significant was approaching, retreated from conflict zones.
The Archenemy hordes rained from the skies sparing no one, hordes of diseased barbaric scum charged against Imperial lines, advancing from their dropsites towards the many shrines and places of worship across the planets surface. Rapid reaction forces of Sorors and Fidelis Militia swept into place swiftly, experienced veterans of the counter-insurgency efforts on the planet Ecclesiarchy forces slowed the Archenemy advance. The second wave of dropships did not hit Imperial lines however, but rather fell upon insurgent-held territories, rapidly wiping out what little resistance remained, and driving a flood of desperate refugees towards Imperial lines with fantastic tales of engaging heavily armoured barbaric warriors.
The Order of His Sanguine Tears retreated from Nivalis in 593.M41 after Archenemy Forces broken their defensive lines at the Cathedral City and ransacked it, only for Cardinal-Emissarius Grulge to return to the system at the head of a host of fanatics and fidelis militia raised from the worlds of the Prosperitas Sector declaring a holy war to retake the world from the heretics that had fallen upon it.
Since 593, Nivalis has been devastated by nearly a decade of constant conflict, it’s once-pristine shrines wrecked, it’s forests stripped barren by traitor and faithful bombardments, though there is a stable area around the ruined Cathedral City of Nivalis controlled by the Cardinal-Emissarius the frontlines of the fight shift back and forth between traitors and the faithful daily, and few pilgrims come here without anything more than the intent to join the fanatical faithful hosts on the planet to retake it from the Archenemy.