In the Holy Imperium Church there is a strict hierarchy of leadership that has been respected by all of its members for over a thousand years. At the top sits the Supreme Pontiff, a role held by the mysterious and seemingly all-powerful Callidus Magna who has recently combined this job with that of the Imperator of the Dominion. Even as Callidus Magna tied the highest in ecclesiastical and secular authority to himself he made certain that those who showed the proper reverence and deference to his ongoing reign were suitably rewarded with stations within the governments of both the Fourth Imperium and the Holy Imperium Church.

Immediately below the Supreme Pontiff in the power structure of the Holy Imperium Church are the members of the College of Principales. In the days before the collapse of the Third Imperium there were twenty-one Principales that oversaw vast portions of the church leadership based on the geography of where there were active worshippers. This meant that each Principale would govern over a number of archbishops and bishops who themselves would control the activities of the lower-ranked clergy in the parishes at the local level. The number of believers that fell under the authority of a Principale varied quite a bit over the centuries, but in the last five hundred years or so there hasn’t been a great deal of changes made. However, the number of Principales had dropped to only thirteen prior to Callidus Magna declaring himself the supreme sovereign over all earthly and spiritual things. In the wake of this development the College of Principales has once more been set at twenty-one members.

One of the most important roles of the College of Principales was to gather and select one of their own members to serve as pontiff when the previous ruler of the Church died. Curiously this job is no longer required as Callidus Magna has sat upon the throne of the Supreme Pontiff for over a thousand years without significant interruption. While he hadn’t been much for public appearances during much of that time, there were enough instances recorded over the centuries to verify that Callidus Magna was indeed fully in control of things. The Principales now are charged primarily with bolstering the clergy under their charges and ensuring that the believers who flock to their neighborhood chapels, churches, and cathedrals are properly instructed on the devotion to their faith as expected by the Supreme Pontiff.

Even given their daily duties and requirements there is still time for the Principales to pursue limited interests outside of their jobs. More and more the Principales are becoming defined by the nebulous term “undead” which means they do not require sleep or sustenance in order to tirelessly work on behalf of their master, Callidus Magna, and the work they do for their own interests are equally unhindered. It was during some of this “personal time” that one of the more prominent of the Principales and a member of the Diosian Lodge, a cabal of liches, the Patriarch of Fate found through his divining and scrying that there was trouble brewing for the Fourth Imperium. Specifically, the difficulties were being brewed in the region of Partum known as the Wenigzustand, or “the Little States.” Not one to share a secret willingly, it was only because Principale Abattoir, the Archbishop of Fanolania, was present when the discovery was made that placed the Patriarch of Fate in a difficult position.

The Patriarch of Fate had seen clearly that one of the upwardly mobile members of Callidus Magna’s court was facing a threat more credible and potentially disastrous than anything they had faced before. Normally the Patriarch of Fate would take immediate steps to alert the person of the peril they were in, but this time there were some extenuating circumstances that caused him to hold back. The imperiled courtier was a lich known as the Viceroy, although lately he had taken the title of the Green King for himself as he scored one victory after another for the Fourth Imperium. The Viceroy was also a member of the Diosian Lodge, and it was in that capacity that the Patriarch of Fate knew him the best. It was over centuries of being in this organization that had led many of the members to look upon the Viceroy with open disdain. There was bad blood all around for a number of reasons, but it had stung the other members when the Viceroy was able to outperform them early on and show them up as he worked to carry out the whims of Callidus Magna. Unlike the Patriarch of Fate, though, the Viceroy had nothing whatsoever to do with the Church. The Viceroy was only concerned with the political schemes of his master and executing them with ruthless efficiency and fanatical devotion. The Patriarch of Fate now held the Viceroy’s existence in his hand. If he kept this a secret the Viceroy may well be destroyed and Callidus Magna would lose his most valued minion. But if he alerted the Viceroy and spared him this end, the Patriarch of Fate would have done a good deed for a hated rival and that wouldn’t sit well, either.

Had Principale Abattoir not been there when the plot against the Viceroy was uncovered it is likely that the Patriarch of Fate would have gleefully let events play out and hopefully nobody would be the wiser that anything disastrous for the Fourth Imperium could have been prevented. But this was not to be. Abattoir was a thoroughly malevolent toady who couldn’t be trusted not to tell Callidus Magna every damned thing he heard or saw. Thus began the most intolerable exchange between two Principales in well over three hundred years.

Abattoir kept insisting that this revelation had to be shared in order to secure the Fourth Imperium from suffering harm at the hands of its enemies. Even if the Viceroy was a loathsome jackanape who didn’t deserve the lofty political heights he had reached and the acclaim that was accorded, having the Viceroy destroyed by enemies of Callidus Magna could only mean that Callidus Magna was made vulnerable. Nothing that the Patriarch of Fate could present to counter this argument would satisfy Abattoir, either. The good of the Fourth Imperium and the Holy Church of the Imperium had to come first and foremost if they were to conquer all and expand Haven as decreed by Callidus Magna.

In the end the Patriarch of Fate was forced to concede to the infuriating logic of Abattoir and announced he would tell the Supreme Pontiff of the plan to destroy the Viceroy. He refused to budge on telling the Viceroy himself, though, and ultimately Abattoir agreed to not say anything to him either. While the two Principales had to accept common ground due to their roles in the Holy Church of the Imperium, there was no reason they had to go to extraordinary measures to rescue a political rival that didn’t care about anything they were charged with defending.

Thankfully Abattoir left the Patriarch of Fate to his own ponderings and left to do whatever the hell it was that Abattoir did when he wasn’t hanging about enraging the Patriarch of Fate. This meant that the Patriarch of Fate would be on his own timetable again about who to tell and what to say. As wise as he was, it will never be understood why he didn’t think it possible that Abattoir would go to Callidus Magna and spill the beans before the Patriarch of Fate could get around to it. Why, that scenario would almost be considered impolite.