[align=center]The Immortal Man[/align]
Four hundred years ago, a reclusive Cawdor street theologian living within the titanic bowels of Hive Primus emerged after a long session of fasting, flagellation and meditating over old tomes. His name was Chaddakus Korois, and he had once lived a quiet life of introverted zeal as a wandering beggar and cheap learned man, sustained by the charity of the devout poor and by donations from slightly wealthier people who were in search of answers for dilemmas of scriptural dogma. That was before the gutter scholar Chaddakus had discovered the Meaning of Man, a writ of the Imperological school, one tome among many thousands of contradictory pieces of pauper scripture that circulated in the streets of Hive Primus and other Necromundan cities. Applying esoteric numerology to the convoluted writings, the learned man uncovered a secret of the faith and emerged with fire in his eyes to spread the word.
With damning speech and swaying revelations, the Emperor-touched fanatic quickly gathered a following amid the habs and recyclatory industries of House Cawdor and founded his own sect within the Redemptionist movement. During a mass sermon in Crucible Square with twenty thousand believers attendant, Chaddakus Korois declared that it was the duty of the righteous to recreate the God-Emperor’s intended destiny for mankind by an endless cycle of sacrifice. According to street-preacher Chaddakus, He on Terra had been about to bestow the gift of fleshly immortality onto His sacred species, but for the sins of men He was instead felled in treacherous combat on high and ascended His Golden Throne as a divine saviour of humanity’s souls, leaving their sinful flesh to the ravages of death, only to be cleansed by faith and fire.
While this opening of the sermon clashed with some Redemptionist doctrines yet agreed with other strata of commonly adhered scripture, it did not cause an uproar. Instead, it was the next claims of preacher Chaddakus that rent a violent schism through the local Redemptionist movement, until the bloody convulsions of religious strife settled down and this new sect was accepted among the older ones by virtue of its baptism of fire, free to spread abroad.
What Chaddakus Korois revealed to his congregation was the mystery of the One Man, a spiritual entity to be formed by communal sacrifice of limbs and devout conduct, a being at the same time of spirit and flesh (the Achieved Unachieved) that is kept immortal by the constant adherence to dogma within the inner circle of believers, supported by the prayers of the outer circles of faithful. The purpose of the One Man is to kneel before the divine majesty of the Master of Mankind, and throw himself into the eternal fires of the dreaded hells, where the One Man burns forever in redemption, or at least for as long as the faithful continue to bleed and sacrifice of themselves to keep the One Man immortal as their ambassador of pain. In these flaming pits, the suffering of the One Man stands for the death of humanity’s intended worldly paradise for the sake of the sins of man, yet is likewise a sign of true redemption among the righteous, who have realized in the higher plane their God-Emperor’s original plan for man, only to sacrifice this perfect destiny, of immortal man made manifest, into the fires of hell. For while the punishment of mortal men is excruciating in the hells, it is a lesser form of pain and chastisement compared to the burning in hell of immortal man. Only by offering the manifest realization of our ultimate potential to the flames can mankind make true penance for its abominable sins.
Chaddakus then ended the public revelation of holy mystery by instructing his listeners of the correct practices to create the One Man and maintain this entity, all while drawing a chaindagger to miraculously cut off all of his limbs and then his head despite having severed both of his arms. This strong-willed demonstration upon himself of the new sect’s practices ended with Chaddakus Korois’ most faithful disciples flaying their master’s saintly form, casting his flesh to the pyre while consecrating the blood-dripping bare bones as relics in front of twenty thousand chanting devotees. Then, the six foremost male disciples of Saint Chaddakus each recited litanies and self-mutilated one extremity each to mimick part of their sect founder’s example, having the open wounds cauterized with red-hot iron. By a miracle, the body of the apostle who beheaded himself still lived when a devout Cawdor techman locked a domed relic, the Bronze Head, onto the holy man’s throat stump, whereupon the maimed one rose with a spark of light and prayed with metallic voice along with the rest of the vast congregation. The sect known as the Sacrificial Men had come into being.
Thus began the infamous Cawdor gang known throughout Hive Primus as the Immortal Man. This Redemptionist warrior group consists of the inner circle of six mutilated holy men, surrounded by unmaimed juves and adults who act as apprentices and attendants to these revered self-sacrificers. This inner circle is always kept at six in number, for whenever one of them falls, a willing attendant who has not previously lost any limb takes the fallen’s place by self-mutilating whichever extremity the deceased one lacked. Should he survive this ordeal, the God-Emperor is seen to have judged him worthy and pure of spirit. If not, another follower is selected by the gang leader for self-mutilation. Upon becoming a holy maimed man, a sect member forsakes his former name and identity, losing all ties of kin and former obligations in society in order to transcend to his sacred role in maintaining the One Man by his own living sacrifice, thereby taking up the proverbial mantle shouldered by one of Saint Chaddakus’ six original apostles.
Outside the fanatic sect of the Sacrificial Men, Redemptionists and infidels alike whisper of the great many failed self-beheadings which precedes any one succesful installation of the faceless Bronze Head upon a bleeding disciple. Indeed, many of the schismatic attacks on the first generation of Sacrificial Men were caused by rival sects considering the revival of the self-beheaded one to be stark, utter blasphemy and nothing short of necromancy. Though the sectarian feuds have mostly ceased, it is generally believed (by those who do not view the Bronze Head’s working implementation on a body to be a miracle) that the ancient device functions by striking the lightning spark of life into a corpse, thus raising the dead to a form of unlife more base than that of a servitor. Others speculate that the Bronze Head relic is the left-over remains of an outcast heretek’s baleful experiments upon live captives, from before Hive City Enforcers busted his Underhive death lab seven hundred years ago. Or they say it is a forbidden remnant from the Dark Age of Technology, its heinous purpose shrouded in mystery. Whatever the truth of the matter, the followers of Saint Chaddakus’ creed view the Bronze head as a unique vessel of holy wonders, and further point to the lack of optical instruments in the featureless Bronze Head as further proof of this sacred device’s miraculous nature, for how could something fully know its surroundings without eyes? Nevertheless, a leather mask with openings for eyes that are not there adorns the Bronze Head, as is demanded of any member of redeemed House Cawdor.
The six inner circle members of the Immortal Man gang each take their name from the bodily extremity which they themselves have discarded. Five of them are known by the names of Head, Right Arm, Left Arm, Right Leg and Left Leg. The sixth member is known as Hand, by way of a euphemism which accidentally mirrors speech in Terra’s truly ancient past. The gang leader is always the one who have been part of the inner circle for the longest time, with the exception of Head, who can never lead the Immortal Man. Furthermore, each inner circle member openly carries the bundled relic bones of that extremity from Saint Chaddakus’ maimed body which they themselves are known for. Hand carries Saint Chaddakus Korois’ pelvis bone. The gang leader is identified by the back-mounted reliquary which hosts Saint Chaddakus’ ribcage and spine. There is never a shortage of recruits to the outer circle of juves and attendants, for it is seen as the highest honour among the Sacrificial Men sect to be chosen as attendants for the Immortal Man.
With the exception of Head, no inner circle member may ever replace his lost body parts by bionic replacements, however crude. Instead long metal peglegs or crutches are used by Right Leg and Left Leg, while the Arms sometime have chains attached to their respective stumped shoulder, with which to swing globular censer bearers filled with counterfeit incense, or else chains with which to swing spiked mace heads, flails, hooks, blades or other crude weapons; but never chainblades or other machine-powered weaponry. The detailed ban on bionic prosthetics mean that firearms are never mounted Servitor-like on the stumps of any inner circle member, while two-handed firearms are instead supported at all times by shoulder straps or rigs on Right Arm and Left Arm. Likewise, both Arms of the inner circle tend to sport custom-made solutions to the problem of reloading trickier weaponry and handling other equipment.
The peculiar gait of these self-mutilated holy men add to the bizarre appearance of these nigh-legendary crusaders against the unbeliever, the mutant and the witch, as do their dependence on reverent apprentices, who accompany the inner circle of the Immortal Man into battle. All the masked Cawdor gangers of the Immortal Man are insane fanatics of the Redemption. They are often said to fully compensate for their missing limbs by sheer displays of faith unyielding in combat, yet the odds given by shady bookmakers in Hive Primus would seem to run contrary to this popular claim…