The first Inner Circles of the Dark Angels existed within the many Hosts and Orders of the Legion and were known to be highly secretive bodies rife with cryptic ciphers and ritual. The Inner Circles at this time were broadly divided into three categories: Those of the Orders of the Hekatonystika, those of the Hosts/Hexagrammaton, and those of conventional Chapters and Companies.
Today the Inner Circle consists of the central authorities within the Chapter, from deep within The Rock they guide the policies and plans of not only the Dark Angels but also the Unforgiven as a whole. Originally growing from a shadowy ad-hoc conclave of surviving loyalists of Lion El'Jonson who swore to hunt down the last of Luther's traitors, it has since evolved into an important clandestine organization which determines the promotion of the Supreme Grand Master. However the Inner Circle's most important role is to guard the Chapter's darkest secret, that of the history and existence of the Fallen Angels. Thus only the most trusted members of the Chapter are considered for membership within the Inner Circle, being observed and studied for many years beforehand until their loyalty is utterly assured. The Inner Circle hides its true face even from its own, taking great pains to hide the history of their Legion and only revealing the truth to its most trusted members.
To become a member of the Inner Circle, one must have served within the Deathwing and only upon their ascension to this elite force will they begin to learn the truth of their Chapter's past. However even after climbing to the Deathwing, there remain circles within circles and levels within levels, with each step accompanied by its own rituals of entry. Rising through the intricate ranks of the Inner Circle, a Dark Angel will learn more and more of the truth of their Chapter's history, each secret revealed as the Chapter's trust in him grows.
The Dark Angels have accepted the new Primaris Space Marines out of necessity, but the Inner Circle remains skeptical of their presence but they have not gone through the strict rituals and tests of loyalty present to the rest of the Chapter. The Inner Circle now debates over what to do the day one is about to be initiated into the Deathwing. At the height of the debate Supreme Grand Master Azrael staked his entire career on the Primaris Space Marine Apharan of the Deathwing, stating he was confident the Marine would pass a series of trials. Azrael personally oversaw Alpharan's trials, and in the aftermath there could be no doubt of the Primaris' worthiness to join the ranks of the Inner Circle.
- Supreme Grand Master - Currently Azrael
- Grand Master of Chaplains - Currently Sapphon
- Grand Master of Librarians - Currently Ezekiel
- Asmodai - Master of the Interrogator-Chaplains
- Apharan - Warden of the Rock
- Belial - Master of the Deathwing
- Sammael - Master of the Ravenwing
- Astoran - Master of the 3rd Company
- Korahael - Master of the 4th Company
- Lazarus - Master of the 5th Company
- Araphil - Master of the 6th Company
- Ezekiah - Master of the 7th Company
- Molochi - Master of the 8th Company
- Xerophus - Master of the 9th Company
- Ranaeus - Master of the 10th Company
- Unforgiven Chapter Masters
- Apharan - Deathwing Marine
- Sabrael - Ravenwing Black Knight
Besides these key individuals, there are often other members of the Inner Circle, such as especially loyal and capable Librarians as well as Interrogator-Chaplains. Notably Techmarines are never made members of the Inner Circle, for their oaths to the Adeptus Mechanicus make their loyalty naturally suspect.
- 1: Codex: Dark Angels (4th Edition), pg. 11
- 2: Codex: Dark Angels (6th Edition), pg. 19
- 3: Deathwatch: Rites of Battle, pg. 59
- 4: Codex: Dark Angels (8th Edition), pg. 23
- 5: White Dwarf September 2019, pgs. 29-30
- 6: The Horus Heresy Book Nine - Crusade, pg. 108
- 7: The Unforgiven (Novel) - An Unlikely Reunion