The Spinward Arm Crusade
Dokkalgard is an Imperial planet in the Segmentum Pacificus.
When the Emperor’s forces came to Dokkalgard during the Great Crusade, they found a world rich with skilled craftsmen and hearty warriors. The surface of Dokkalgard is scarred and burned from the hundreds of active volcanoes across its surface, and the cold sun leaves the planet cold and dry, with what little water available in the atmosphere locked in ice and glaciers across the mountainous surface. The few inhabitants were hearty and strong, used to a life where every day was full of deadly hazards, and the average life expectancy was less than 30. Rival nations fought wars with primative propeller-driven aircraft carrying bombs and troops across the desolate spaces between cities. The people of Dokkalgard were quickly assimilated into the Imperium, and with the help of the Adeptus Mechanicus recovered ancient manufactorums set to work supplying the armies of the Imperium.
Enclosed cities sit in tiny temperate valleys nestled between the ice and fire, where miners find veins of metal in the constantly-reforming landscape, and manufactorums produce weapons and vehicles, including the unique Dyrnwyn Pattern Valkyrie.
The traditional method of fighting was continued when Dokkalgard was asked to raise a regiment of Imperial Guard, and the Dokkalgard Dragoons left to fight across the Imperium. Because of the short life expectancy and low population, Dokkalgard is expected to maintain their regiment in lieu of raising new ones, except in those situations in which the current regiment is lost in battle. This has only happened 9 times in the history of the planet, and each time it does, the old standard and name is forever retired, in honor of the lost sons of Dokkalgard.
Today Dokkalgard is a dichotic world. Constant volcanic activity grants abundant mineral resources that the excellent craftsman of Dokkalgard use to create astonishing wealth for such a sparsely populated world, but also claims the lives of rich and poor alike. Though life expectancy has improved dramatically since the great crusade brought the Emperor’s light to Dokkalgard, it is still a very lucky and careful Dokkalfar that gets a full head of grey hair, and the elderly simply don’t exist.
Dokkalgard’s relentless and deadly mix of earthquakes, volcanoes, avalanches, storms, ash, little available food and water, and an atmosphere that fluctuates for barely breathable to extremely poisonous, is especially deadly for the young. Only half of all children born make it to ten standard years and mere third reach 18 and adulthood. High mortality rates, especially among children, creates a necessity for high birth rates, and maternity is highly valued- no expense is spared to see to the physical needs of mother and child. Yet once born, the high mortality rates force a distant and emotionally insulated approach to child rearing. The majority of children are raised in orphanage schools scattered throughout the armored cities, staffed by dedicated teacher surrogates. These institutions teach students from an early age- first to survive, and second the skills of a necessary craft or trade.
Death is constant and close by for all Dokkalfar. A person who tried to mourn every death around them would do nothing else, and a person who feared their own death would be unable to do anything of value. Therefore, two separate holidays have developed on Dokkalgard that celebrate death. The day of Thieves, and the day of Quietus. The days of Thieves and Quietus occur on the alternating equinoxes, which tend to be low periods of volcanic activity. The day of Thieves celebrates those who have defied the fates and lived to adulthood, thus stealing life from death. When talking about their age, it is not uncommon for adults to refer to their thief age- or the number of years they have stolen. In some cases, they’ll even count the number of years they have been dead- referring to the number of times they have celebrated the day of thieves. The day of Quietus- meaning final settlement of a debt, and also death, celebrates all those who have, in the last year died.
The imperial cult has for the most part adopted the existing holidays, so that life is stolen from death by the Emperor’s grace, and Quietus is the payment to the Emperor of the debts accrued in life.