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A few days ago, a very special topic caught my eye and that is the possible role of Ephrael Stern, mentioned in the first book of the series.
Why that is important you might ask? Well, let’s see who Ephrael Stern is and why that could be a huge impact on the upcoming story – including some really over-the-top ideas on how the Sisters of Battle could benefit from current developments 😀 found at the bottom of the article!
Connections to Stern (Faith and Fury)
A lot of sources (f.e. SpikeyBits) state that next to the Black Templers, the Emperors Children might make a big debut in PA Volume 2, including the old four-handed Fulgrim himself! At least there is a textpart in the book, pretty much describing him:
And that’s not the first time that a gigantic, sepent-bodied entity is slaughtering everything that comes close to it. Also it would make sense to finally publish books for the World Eaters and the Emperors Children. Death Guard and Thousand Sons got the treatment a long time ago!
Anyway, the key information is that Slaanesh plays a big role in the Psychic Awakening. And that fits the whole story of the Aeldari as well. You know, dying to cheat death anyway, to finally escape Slaaneshes grip and such things … typical Aeldari-stuff.
But there is more hideen in the Books, something regarding one of the mightiest Sisters of Battle to ever have lived (like .. thrice already ^^) and that is non other than Ephrael Stern – “a female in black power armor with a white shock of hair, who was accompanied by an Eldar with two longblades on his back. The female was said to possess a psychic aura so powerful it stung the mind.” This description perfectly fits Ephrael and the Pariah.
To understand that, let’s dive into the history of Ephrael:
The Story of Ephrael Stern
While little is known about her origins, Stern was always an outstanding Sister of Battle, even as a novice, showing great potential and eventually getting promoted to a Seraphim and only 4 years later to a Sister Superia. An extremely short amout of time!
Sidenote: Ephrael was (and still is …?) a member of the Order of our Martyred Lady, the most promoted Order by Games Workshop. So it would perfectly fit to bring her back into the story!
At some point in time, she was sent to the planet Parnis to recover the lost Order Pronatus, which was dedicated to studying and caretaking of holy relics. Hints of the lost Order emerging from old scripts.
On Parnis, Sister Stern discovered a terrible secret. Without knowledge of the outside world, the Sisters of the Order Pronatus had not only studied holy relics, but also a trapped daemon of Slaanesh – the Keeper of Secrets known as Asteroth, one of the most powerful daemons ever known to the Imperium. While trying to study the daemon and find effectful ways to combat Slaanesh, it eventually freed itself and overwhelmed the Sisters, creating the Screaming Cage – a structure forged with the bodies, minds and souls of 700 flayed and tortured Sisters of Battle. Unrecognized by Slaanesh though, not only their torment and suffering was shared, but also their Faith in the Emperor.
This is an important part. Faith is not a personal thing as it seems. Its a form of power that can be combined and shared and even transfered into a person / vessel. That opens up a lot of possibilities for future developments.
Also we have this strong and terrifying connection to Slaanesh, which could easily be part of a future storyline.
At their first meeting, Asteroth managed to kill all Sisters of Battle accompanying Stern and even herself. Only the combined Faith of the 700 Sisters made it possible to resurrect Ephrael, transitioning a lot of their knowledge and power into her like a vessel and making it possible for her to come alive and flee. Unfortunately, she lost all memory of these events and was eventually imprisoned for 4 years, confused and irritated. Things changed when word was sent to the Inquisition about Stern and a corrupted Sister guarding her, was trying to kill her and hide all clues of Slaaneshes influence – the plan failing, when the already empowered Ephrael simply killed the Guard with bare hands.
The Inquisitor responsible for investigating on Ephrael Stern was Silas Hand. After many tests, he confirmed that Ephrael was not corrupted by Chaos and indeed pure, so that she was finally restored to her rank in the Order. Together, both of them with a host of Battle Sisters, returned to Parnis to find out about the events that took place all these years ago.
Slaanesh was trying to stop them by corrupting the crew of Hand’s ship and finally destroying it. Luckily, they still made it to Parnis unharmed, only to encounter a Daemon of Khorne. Stern was able to defeat him, fighting him in the Warp.
Eventually confronting Asteroth, Stern remembered all that happend years ago and the 700 souls still caught in the Screaming Cage continued their transition of knowledge and power. Of course Asteroth was trying to stop them, but the combined army of Battle Sisters and the Inquisitor bought enough time to finish the procedure. Hand sacrificed himself to banish Asteroth for the moment and all other Sisters were killed in the process or followed the Daemon into the warp. In the Aftermath, Stern was once again the only survivor, but now filled with all the knowledge about Chaos and Slaanesh that the Order Pronatus could ever collect and filled up with their Faith and might.
It was at that time, stranded once again on Parnis, that Stern wrote down all her knowledge into the Codex Stern. The word written with her very own blood to hinder mutation of the words, due to the vile knowledge they contained. Meanwhile the Ordo Malleus branded her a witch and started hunting her, resulting in an inquisitorial party approaching Parnis.
Sidenote: Many Black Templers were accompanying the party – what a nice coincidence in light of the latest rumours 🙂
Several things happened, leading to another escape of Ephrael on a pilgrim ship, only to be captured by a raiding party of Dark Eldar pirates. Ephrael was taken captive and forced to fight in the arena pits of Commorragh. (Where she eventually won by the way!)
In the meantime, a shadowseer of the Aeldari Harlequins had taken notice of Ephrael, sending a disgraced Harlequin to find her. This Harlequin is later referred to as “the Pariah”, also known as Mensha Luyet-Kyganil, Askar or Gavrish. It was his task to find her and bring her to the myth-enshrouded Black Library for her safe-keeping and also to archive the Codex Stern. The Shadowseer saw a potent countermeasure to Chaos in Stern.
Again, this is a very strong connection of the Aeldari to Ephrael Stern and maybe from Part I of the Psyhic Awakening to Part II. And it is also not the first time that the Black Library is mentioned in the latest 40k campaigns!
The following events got even crazier, when the Pariah helped her to flee, they got cought by non other than Ahriman from the Thousand Sons who tortured them (unsuccessfully) to get informations about the Black Library and finally a host of Grey Knights arrived to combat Ahriman. Long story short, Ephrael was once more freed, but trapped between the parties that wanted to capture her for no good. In final despair she killed herself with a dagger to end this story, leaving her dead body behind, later captured and returned by the Grey Knights while the Pariah can flee.
After Sterns funeral at a hospitaller convent, the Pariah reemerged and waited at her grave for her second and last resurrection. It was some Month later that Inquisitor Hand’s old apprentice, Inquisitor Fazael arrived at the convent to exhume Sterns body, only to find her wondering around barely-conscious, working as a healer and working wonders on the battlefields. She was revived by the gift given to her by her fallen sisters, “a light of the warp but not of the warp”. Confronted by Fazael, the Pariah rescued her once again and led her to the next webway portal.
It was after her second death that she finally started comprehending her new powers and decided not to flee anymore, but stand and fight. She became the Daemonifuge, a weapon of light and sourge of Chaos. But still, she was hunted by Inquisitor Fazael and he got a Culexus Assassin at his disposal to make sure no psychic powers would help her this time. Little did he know that Stern proved stronger than even the Assassin and finally blowing his body apart. Turning to Fazael, she pointed out that they were on the same side and his energy would really be better spent fighting Chaos than her. Nevertheless, he vowed to pursue her to the end of days as she and the Pariah departed.
As it seems, Stern and the Pariah were on their way to the Black Library, but have not been seen since. That is until the Psychic Awakening … It is important to mention, that the Ordo Hereticus has issued orders to destroy her, but some of the Order secretly belive, that she is humanity’s greatest hope fo survival since the legendary Primarchs.
While the story of this lady is both awesome and overwhelming, there has been a lot of discussions about her canonicity. Here is a Quote from 1d4chan about it:
Although GW republished Daemonifuge in 2016, its canonicity has been a subject of much debate. Those in favor of it being canon point out that, despite it’s age, there’s very little in the story that conflicts with the current state of things in 40k, and much of that is simply outdated aesthetics. They also point out that GW would not be publishing it if it wasn’t intended to be canon. Those who disagree point to Stern’s lack of presence in other books (the fact that she’s so obscenely powerful and yet is never mentioned or appears in any codex or other Black Library books is a little strange) as well as the age of the story leading to some questionable events (overloading a Culexus assassin, for example).
She unexpectedly made a cameo appearance in Psychic Awakening, in which Yvraine promised Stern the support of the Ynnari in exchange for the Pariah’s aid in finding a Solitaire willing to join the Ynnari. So for now at least, she’s canon.
With that in mind, don’t take her story as set in stone for now. But she may be fully introduced in the PSychic Awakening and at last be made canon offically – let’s hope for the best!
A new Era of Saints – Getting a little crazy …
So here we are, with a good idea of who Ephrael Stern is and how she is connected to the Aeldari, to Slaanesh and to the Psychic Awakening. And of course how she came to her incredible powers – which might actually exceed those of Saint Celestine herself. Or at least be on the same level.
But there is a huge difference between those two. It is the way they got their powers, how they were resurrected. While at the same time, they share a lot of abilities. They can ressurect (even though it is said that Stern came alive for the last time), they act wonders and they are extremely powerful fighters, both in physical and psychic battles – Stern even being able to cast psychic powers.
Ephrael shows the possibility to power-up Battle Sisters into extremely powerful beings, nearly as powerful as the living saints. And that by sharing and channeling their Faith. What if the Sororitas actually find a procedure that allows actively “creating” such living embodiments of Faith? Sisters nearly as strong as Ephrael Stern?
The Psychic Awakening is all about growing psychic abilities, so perhaps it will soon allow a procedure to form holy warriors out of the most devoted Sisters of Battle. That is an idea that struck me, when looking for more female units in the GW range to convert and play around with. I saw the female Stormcast Eternals. What if they were not only a first version of Praimaris Marines, but also some Holy and Faithful Warriors of the Emperor?
Here are some other ideas of what the Psychic Awakening could bring for the Sisters of Battle.
The Space Marines got their Primaris, I want my Faith-Powered-Up Super Sisters of Holy Rampage! xD
What do you guys think? Would you like the idea of an apperance of Ephrael Stern and the Pariah? And what would you think of some “Primaris Battle Sisters“? Let me know in the comments!
May the Emperor protect you.