|Groups of Note:|
“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 is now under the de facto rule of Canoness Asenath Dinah, the commander of the Sororitas Mission on the planet. The ongoing civil conflict is suppressed – often brutally – by the Sisters of the newly named Order of His Sanguine Tears. Sisters Hospitaller from the Order of the Cleansing Water provide medical and pastoral support to the citizens of this blighted world. With the insurgency kept to a quiet simmer by the security presence of the Sisters Militant, the planet has seen a large deployment of Sisters Pronatus from the Order of the Eternal Gate. Their mission is to restore the large number of major shrines to the Emperor and His Saints damaged in the course of the unrest, and to recover sacred artefacts stolen or hidden during the riots.
Nivalis is 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. Nevertheless the main shrine-cities are largely peaceful, and it is not uncommon to see officers of the Imperial Guard and Navy visiting the planet to receive a blessing on behalf of their troops before deploying onto the front lines of the Crusade.