The Ephesian Schism
Iocanthos is a lawless Imperial Agri-World in the Calixis Sector’s Golgenna Reach Sub-sector in the Segmentum Obscurus. Iocanthos is dominated by warlords and their huge armies, which clash across its jungles, forests and plains. The planet’s importance in the Calixis Sector is defined by the fact that it is one of the few places in the Imperium where the Ghostfire flower can grow. Ghostfire pollen can be refined into the combat drugs used extensively in the Penal Legions of the Imperial Guard.
Iocanthos’ warlords (usually styling themselves “vai” or tribal prince) battle constantly for control of the Ghostfire harvest. The Ghostfire crop cannot be cultivated normally and so once a patch of it is harvested another one must be found. The warlords’ armies are therefore constantly on the move, travelling in enormous hordes across Iocanthos’ main continent and clashing violently wherever they meet. Iocanthos’ wide plains, dense, dark forests and forbidding mountain passes are studded with old battlefields where burned-out vehicles and age-bleached skeletons abound.
Every five years, a taskforce of Administratum officials descends onto Iocanthus to gather the planet’s Ghostfire tithe. The warlords exchange their harvests of Ghostfire pollen with the Administratum in exchange for weapons, vehicles, fuel, clean water and other essentials. The warlord who hands over the most Ghostfire pollen is considered the Planetary Governor and claims the lion’s share of support from the Imperium and the title Vervai (literally “prince of princes” or “king”). The title brings with it immense prestige and confirms the warlord’s position as the most dangerous and skilled on Iocanthos. The current Planetary Governor is “King” Skull, a terrifying warrior at the head of an enormous and supposedly invincible army of madmen and killers. The warlords of Iocanthus are also required to hand over their psykers as well as the Ghostfire harvest, but these are taken from them not by the Administratum but by nameless grey-uniformed men who herd the psykers onto their sleek Black Ship and take their leave.
The Administratum fully accepts the situation on Iocanthos. The Ghostfire pollen is harvested very efficiently because so many warlords’ armies battle to find every last blossom. Were the Administratum to take over Iocanthus themselves the planet would first have to be conquered by the Imperial Guard at enormous expense and the Administratum themselves would be hard-pressed to match the vigour with which Iocanthos’ warlords hunt down every Ghostfire flower. They therefore leave the warlords to do the hard work, safe in the knowledge that none of them can rebel against Imperial authority lest their supplies of guns and fuel be cut off.