“The High Lords, the Scions of Mars, petty governors and mortals... all striving for their own goals above His. Too long has the Emperor's dominion endured strife from within, as well as without. You adjudge us guilty for choosing the path that leads away from the abyss we delve? The Imperium is fractured. Dying. We merely wished to breathe life into it once more, and for that we are damned.”
[//Reported last words of former Chapter Master Cassus, prior to his summary execution at the hands of the Inquisition+]
PrécisThe Argent Heralds are a noble and proud Chapter of Ultramarine descendents. Established during the Third Founding and given the Feudal world of Praedius to call home, the Heralds soon became known for seeking out what they saw as a darkness in the galaxy. To some of the more experienced and long-lived Chapters Astartes, the Heralds were considered over-idealistic, even naïve, if such a term could be placed upon one thousand battle-hardened post-human warriors.
If such cynicism reached the ears of the Heralds, it affected them not in the slightest. The Heralds never ceased in their quest to instil the light back into His Imperium, and it was this drive that would eventually pull them to side with the Partisans of Volnoscere. Unable to allow the constant and continuing decline of the Imperium unanswered, it was the unwarranted savagery of the Flesh Eaters during the Battle of Gurro VII that caused them to once and for all declare themselves for the Primarch Returned; in the hopes of a better future for Mankind in the Emperor’s name.
|[//Brother-Captain Mercurius Titus Decius; 2nd Company+]|
“If this is where we fall then we shall fall as heroes of the Imperium we wished to build, not ones of the shattered and broken corpse this Pentarchy of Blood represents. Fight now, Heralds! Fight for honour, fight for the Imperium, fight for the light!”
[//Brother-Captain Mercurius Titus Decius of the Argent Heralds 2nd Company+]
Warcry 'Bring light to the dark.'
Cognomen [rar.] The Silverclad
Cognomen [rar.] The Silverclad
Founding Third [+//001.M32/]
Successor Chapters [//None recognised+]
Chapter Master Praesius Auros Cassus
Homeworld Praedius (Feudal World)
Lying in the Callais subsector of Sector Morqub, Praedius lies a short distance corewards from the Tinctures. This region of space is marked by unpredictable warpstorms that make travel dangerous to and from the nearby systems. As with many of the systems in the region – most notably Crow's World – the Praedius system consists of a lone planet, after which both the star and system are named. Trade with the wide-dispersed planets of the region near the Tinctures is rarely profitable, and this has engendered a self-reliance amongst the populations of the region. The Feudal world of Praedius is no exception.
|[//ident: Praedius | tithegrade=Aptus Non+]|
The centre of the axial continent is formed of a singularly impressive range of mountains known locally as the Worldspine, running north to south. Geological surveys undertaken by the Administratum suggest that two continental plates were forced together through tectonic activity in aeons past. It is these mountains that made the planet of interest to the Imperium, being filled with all manner of precious metals, stones, and rare elements as a result of their cataclysmic formation.
Fortress Monastery Built upon the crown of one of the largest mountains in the Worldspine, the Beacon can be seen for hundreds of miles to both east and west. This is due in part simply to its elevation, but it is notable that the builders levelled and lowered any peak that might obstruct a view to the fortification from the surrounding plains. For many Chapters this would be seen as an act of hubris, fearmongering, or perhaps simple practicality of defence; but not so for the Argent Heralds.
The Heralds are an outwardly and unapologetically idealistic and hopeful Chapter and see the Adeptus Astartes as more than simply warriors of the Imperium – they are to be symbols, and what use is a symbol if it cannot be seen? Clad in silvered steel and gold, the towering spires of the Beacon catch the light at all hours of the day, reflecting it across the world for as many to see as possible – a quality that gives the fortress-monastery its name.
'Only a fool cloaks the candle they lit to see by.'
The Argent Heralds have enshrined this concept of Astartes-as-symbol into their Chapter cult and personal duty. As such the Beacon is usually skeletally garrisoned; those few battle brothers resident within the walls either recuperating or raw recruits.
Although the outside is kept gleaming and pristine, visitors find the elegance of the outside does not extend within. The towering spires, awe-inspiringly high, prove to be little more than solid heat-vacuators, missile tubes and surface defence laser barrels. The gates, likewise titanic and impressive to witness from afar, are non-functional; access being possible through smaller side-portals and tunnels bristling with defences. The halls of the Beacon are sparsely furnished and surprisingly compact, its focus on function and efficiency of defence over bombastic vaulted ceilings and beautifully-decorated chapels. Indeed, the majority of the structure is entombed within the mountain itself, where it might be more easily defended.
The Heralds have gained a near-contradictory reputation for romanticism twinned with unsentimentality. It is one that generations of Astartes have been forced to balance in their service to the Imperium; and the Beacon is a fitting symbol of both their innocence and steely determination.
Appearance Clad in gleaming silvered steel, an arrayed force of the Heralds is a sight to behold upon the battlefield. Their appearance mirrors that of the aristocratic knights of their adopted homeworld, marking them to the populace as protectors and champions of their people, and of the Imperium at large.
Their shining plate is coupled with the rich, ultramarine blue of their progenitors upon their pauldrons, and offset with Chapter iconography and squad markings in white. Rigid adherents to the Codex Astartes, the Heralds utilise the trim of their shoulder pads to mark their Company colours while squad markings are displayed upon the right shoulder, inset with black Ultramarian numerals to denote squad number.
Rank designation follows standard Codex practice. Sergeants may be identified by helms matching the blue of their pauldrons. Veterans wear white helms, and veteran sergeants wear a blue helm with a white stripe from front to back.
Across the many factional countries and kingdoms of their world, loyalties are marked by tabards, surcoats and banners worn over knightly plate; but within the Chapter, personal decoration of armour is rare. To the Argent Heralds, their plate is an important symbol of their purpose, duty and the rejection of personal vanity in service. This has varied over the centuries, with past Chapter Masters taking a stricter or more lenient line on personal decoration. As a result, the Heralds' armouries contain some exquisitely-worked artefacts by their talented Artificers – but most hide their beauty within; their outer appearance austere.
The current incumbent, Master Cassus, is a staunch proponent of purity. He favours marching to war in his Mark VII line-plate rather than the more bombastic plate of office granted to the first Chapter Master. He leads, however, by example. As a result, his officers are have authority to sanction the use of honorifics on an individual basis. Some, like Captain Androdius of the Sixth, is relatively liberal; while others, like Captain Decius of the Second, lead a force of warriors united in uniformity and largely indistinguishable beyond Codex rank markings once behelmed.
|[//The sunburst surrounding the omega symbol represents the Chapter's movements throughout space; ever-outwards in defence of the Emperor's dominion.+]|
Believing that the war they fought was not only on behalf of the true Imperium, but in its best interests, the Argent Heralds were unique amongst the Partisan Chapters in refusing to remove the Aquila from their armour. This led to them being treated with some initial suspicion, even mistrust by a number of the Partisans; particularly those more personally devoted to the False Primarch himself like the Inheritors, Riven Lords and Jade Talons.
The Silver Stars' nebulous and oblique communiques bore no mention of the practise – which was taken as tacit approval by the Argent Heralds. Indeed, in the first years of the war in which the Argent Heralds fought, a number of actions were attributed to the fact that Orthodox defenders were wrong-footed by Partisans marching under the sign of the Aquila, rather than the Caputmori.
Founding and history
The world of Praedius was a feudal world when discovered during the Great Crusade. Fought over by myriad petty kings and their heavily-armoured warrior elites, the continents of the world were split into numerous prideful throneships, dominions, and loosely-allied provinces that frequently took to war against one another over everything from mundane land and goods to personal ethics, and rivalries; or in service to particular cultural rules and values.
In the years after the Scouring and the rebuilding and securing of the Imperium in the wake of the War of the Beast, it was decided that a world with such mineral wealth as Praedius could not be left purely in the hands of mortals – yet to hand it and its wealth to the Adeptus Mechanicus would result in it being rendered into a poisoned, inert mass. Instead, it was gifted to a newly founded Chapter of Guilliman's line, the Argent Heralds, to watch over and rule as they willed.
Feudal worlds are frequently sparsely populated and with little surplus; and yet have a sufficient level of technology to rob the inhabitants of some personal initiative. As a result, feudal worlds typically make less optimal recruitment worlds for the Astartes. Not so with Praedius, where a peculiar local fecundity, matrilinear inheritance and a competitive but directed cultural milieu throws up a hard core of self-reliant, resourceful and strong-willed youth; only a fraction of which can expect to inherit lands sufficient to support them without conflict. This means those that present themselves annually at the lower hills of the Beacon Tor make for fine recruits. To the Heralds, the Praedians and their ways were a fine example of the Emperor's people; and they therefore saw little need to impose marked changes on their new home.
Constructing their Fortress Monastery in the heights of the Worldspine, the Heralds dispatched heralds to the fragmentary leadership of the world; declaring that their new subjects would maintain the feudal systems of ages past under the overall rule of the Regis Magna, the Chapter Master of the Argent Heralds. Initial misgivings were scanty when the ancestral Kings realised that the Heralds were to rule with a distant oversight; and refrain from interfering in what they felt was a successful dynamic. Kings became local lords and governors while their knights, armies and citizens were inspected for any who may prove worthy to join the Adeptus Astartes. With the eyes of superhumans upon them, the planet flourished in newly-energised and largely productive competition; as land increasingly changed hands through the traditional tournaments and pitched battles that spared the land and its people, rather than the occasionally ruinous and wasteful wars of the past. At the outset of the War of the False Primarch, therefore, the world of Praedius had changed only minimally from the state in which it was discovered.
Disposition during the War of the False Primarch
For the Argent Heralds, the War of the Beast came following five centuries of crusading across the Imperium, pushing back what they saw as the encroaching darkness of the post-Scouring era. Already understrength as a result, the struggle against the ascendant greenskins reduced the Chapter to a battered core of veterans and a handful of recruits. Forced into the unfamiliar behaviour of garrison duty and direct recruitment, the Argent Heralds entered a period of gathering their strength in the relatively stable centuries between the War of the Beast and the War of the False Primarch.
|[//Third Squad, Second Company, during deployment on Null, at the Machinedeath. Sergeant Arturius (centre) and the survivors were later to head Kill Team Aegis during the Sorrowful Years+]|
The Heralds were far from idle. They set about rebuilding their shattered numbers and reinforcing the planet and its local system. Thanks largely to the resilient and stable genestock of the native planet’s people, the Heralds were able to once more begin taking their light into the darkest places of the galaxy, waging various limited crusades and wars upon the xenos and the heretic; rarely suffering extensive losses. The Argent Heralds were thus reckoned to be at near-optimal strength during the events at distant Hong-Qi, where the Silver Stars first made their appearance.
This meant that when the Quadrargenta were assembled on Jiam Tertiary and the Partisan movement under the False Primarch became an organised reality, the Chapter as a whole was at near-full Codex strength of one thousand battle brothers. The Heralds boasted four well-blooded battle companies, a hardened and experienced 1st Company, and a well stocked series of reserve companies. The 10th Company was the only one noticeably undersized, consisting of seven squads, owing to a recent slew of promotion into the 9th Company following the conclusion of the campaign into the Arrandax Nebula, deep inside the Tinctures, to bring to heel a system that had ceded from the Imperium.
Fatefully, the warp squalls of the Tinctures expanded at this point – some Inquisitors later noting the presence of forces from Craftworld Dain-Mir immediately prior. The Tinctures engulfed Praedius and made Coreward travel near-impossible, essentially cutting the system off from the wider Sector for two decades. During this period, only Captain Maximus Severus Crassus of the Ninth Company was in contact with the broader Imperium. He had pledged his support to the Iron Guard in their war against the Cantine xenos, and were thus operating in wilderness space rimwards of Subsector Cambyses of the Heliopolis sector. He was later to prove a key witness to unfolding events, and convince Chapter Master Cassus to pledge to the Partisan cause.
As the warpstorms receded, the Chapter was startled to be bombarded with petitions from help from dozens of worlds in the largely peaceful Delphurnean League.
Unclear as to what had happened and unwilling to rely on astropathic communiqués alone, Cassus split his fleet, sending out a number of reconnaissance sorties. Isolated crusader squads of Argent Heralds landed on a score of worlds who reported tales of invasion, deprivation and atrocities. Such tales were all too familiar to the Master of the Silverclad. Cassus' gloomy and self-disciplinary disposition meant that he had a zealot's need to push back against those that threatened the Imperium. What staggered him, however, were the repeated reports that those instigating the assaults and invasions were Imperial Astartes, heading an armada of colossal extent against loyal worlds
Unwilling to countenance such tales and act upon mere rumours, Cassus sent his most trusted Captains to contact allies of old. Captain Decius of the Second journeyed to distant Ishim to meet with the Chapter Master Madu Iri-Abasza of the Red Fish for answers about the Delphurnean League, while Dius of the Fourth was dispatched to distant Frith, in search of his old allies, the Firebreak.
Neither was to reach their destination.
Captain Dius' craft was bracketed by Unius Kot of the Riven Lords, a Chapter with whom the Argent Heralds had little prior knowledge. Hailed warily, and with guns run out, the Argent Herald was challenged to declare himself for the Orthodoxy or the Primarch.
Unsure of how to answer, Dius demanded to speak directly to the Captain to answer for this outrage. Kot answered that no such officer was aboard; the Chapter's commandery being hard-pressed corewards by the advance of the Pentarchy of Blood across the Delphurnean League. Realising that Kot had the answers which he was seeking, Dius offered to come aboard and discuss.
Hours later, he returned to his ship by shuttle, visibly shaken. He escorted the Riven Lords' picket craft back to Praedius, where Kot was granted audience with Chapter Master Cassus. The Shieldbearer Sergeant of the Riven Lords was thus the one to break the news to the Argent Heralds of the mysterious Silver Stars; of the ruthless attacks led by Master Enoch and his Extinction Armada; and most strikingly, of the apparent return of a Primarch.
Sceptical, but swayed somewhat by the obvious sincerity in Kot's words, Cassus laid orders for the remaining Chapter fleet to gather, and demanded Kot lead him to the being claiming to be a Primarch. The Argent Heralds' otherwise rather restrained and formal Chapter cult bore an apocalyptic core; one that laid great weight on the principle that their Primarch, Roboute Guilliman, might one day return to head a return to a golden age. It was thus all too attractive to Cassus and his men that a Primarch might really have returned.
Much as he wanted to believe that this figure was his gene-sire returned, Cassus was too steeped in wisdom and a healthy scepticism to act without some measure of insurance. He therefore sent Dius back toward Frith, leading the full weight of his Fourth Company in search of some further validation from their allies.
Events at Ishim
While Kot was declaiming on Praedius, Decius had arrived at Ishim – scant days before the attack by Pentarchy forces. The Argent Herald Captain was thus present as the Red Fish were reluctantly forced to evacuate the Primarch, and in the days following, was present at the Primarch's council of war on the Inheritor's flagship as the Partisans continued their discussions.
The Argent Herald was thus present for the greatest assemblage of might that the Pentarchy could then muster. Present were the representatives of five Chapters; including four Chapter Masters: Enlil-Anu of the Marines Saturnine; Toth of the Riven Lords; the hulking Contemptor that was Solarion of the Inheritors; and Kastor Drak, the famed Dragon of Siklon and lord of the Void Barons. Brevet-Captain Qosom stood in the place of the Red Fish Chapter Master, who had been forced to return to Ishim to oversee the reclamation of the Chapter's Fortress-Monastery and direct the ongoing war.
|[//Mercurius Titus Decius+]|
Lacking an attendant Epistolary, Decius dutifully recorded his impressions himself for the Argent Heralds' archive. The fragmentary report noted:
It was at this point that the Silver Stars entered the chamber. Half a dozen of the Kapihe, warriors with the bearing of officers, entered first. They were introduced to me as Riverhead, Canticle and Breakwater; peculiar titles that I was unsure were personal names, eponyms, honorifics or titles of ranks or offices. I was later to learn, of cou[...] Besides Breakwater, who bore the Primarch's Caputmori-headed Legion banner and stood off to one side, the others moved among the assembled warriors. I noted their warmth and good humour, and despite the circumstances of this gathering – the first stages of a plan to wrest the Imperium itself from madmen and degenerates on Holy Terra – there was a sense of mutual respect, even geniality, evident amongst the Masters of the Partisan cause.
I stood apart, still uncertain and wary. Stepping back from the hololiths of the enormous planning tables, it was the Void Baron who turned to me. As I saluted politely, Drak's saturnine expression broke into a hideous grin. He told me the following,
'You shouldn't believe everything you hear in the mess, Herald. Decide for yourself.'
It was at this point that Volnoscere entered the chamber. I had intended to meet the 'Primarch' sceptically, remaining standing, but as he approached I felt myself kneeling unaccountably, bowing my head in unfamiliar submission. I have fought against the Oneirokritiks of O, and the Eldar of Dain-Mir, both famed for their psychic prowess – but this had none of that aspect. I confess that this was a simple shock; a reaction I believed had been long purged from the table of my humours.
As though in a dream, then, the Primarch stood before me. A pitted gauntlet, redolent with age and an unplaceable, though not unpleasant, briny odour gripped me lightly. I felt myself being drawn to my feet before the Primarch stood back and appraised me. Indeed, all turned to look at me, though I could do little more than face forwards, as though stunned. Volnoscere removed his helm, and – incredibly as it now seems – bent his knee to bring his head level with mine. The Primarch's expression – indeed, his dark, tanned face – was hidden to all save me. Forgive me, but I find it difficult to describe beyond the most vague of terms. I am left merely with the sense of fatherly eyes and a restrained, sad smile.
The words that passed between them were unrecorded.
Heralds of the Primarch
Captain Decius' craft intercepted the Chapter fleet en route to Ishim, and was thus able to prepare Cassus to meet the Silver Stars officer known as Riverhead. The Primarch himself, the officer claimed, had to prepare his muster and oversee the entire Delphurnean League theatre – a herculean task beyond the capabilities even of the Astartes – and thus had sent his proxy. Cassus listened with an open mind to Riverhead's claims; but was unwilling to declare for the Primarch at this point. The Argent Heralds Chapter master felt an unfamiliar and unwelcome sense of indecision.
At last, he decided that his first loyalty was to the Emperor; not his proxies. Whether he were to declare for High Lords or Primarch – or remain aloof entirely – Cassus would not abandon the people of the Imperium. While he granted Decius' request to take the Second Company back to Ishim alongside Riverhead and the elite of the Silver Stars to assist the Red Fish in reclaiming their homeworld, he would not take the remainder of the Chapter to their aid, instead opting to head to Frith in search of Captain Dius and the Firebreak, with whom the Argent Heralds had longstanding ties.
|[+Squad Titus, pictured during the Delphurnean League campaign//]|
By the time they Chapter broke warp, they found Frith burning. Liaising with Dius, himself injured during the battle, the Captain explained what had happened to the Firebreak's homeworld at the hands of the Carcharadons. Outraged and pledging help and vengeance for the Firebreak against the Carcharadons, Cassus resolved to pursue a limited, defensive war until proof one way or the other could be determined regarding the nature of Volnoscere.
He therefore moved his fleet towards Acylus via Choreopsis, aiming to meet the Carcharadons in their movement towards Heliopolis. In fact, the Carcharadons had headed more directly to the Nonesuch Rift, skirting Hong Qi. The Argent Heralds found themselves instead embroiled in the Delphurnean League conflicts. Unwilling to order direct attacks against the Extinction Fleets ravaging the region, Cassus instead declared a number of nearby systems under his protectorship, resolving to fire upon any aggressors – whatever their supposed inclinations.
The Death Eagles (II), had been deployed here to anchor this part of the region for the Pentarchy, but they had been engaged and suffered substantial losses at the hands of the Jade Talons, Void Barons and Riven Lords as they made for Heliopolis. As a result, Caassus and his men found themselves facing only the conventional forces of the Extinction fleets, soldiers who, while respectably brave and capable, were little match for the Argent Heralds.
Home to roost
As Cassus' forces stalled, the war reached new heights. The worlds under the Argent Heralds protectorship were fortunate indeed to be spared the worst excesses of the war – but as the Errant Companies of the Argent Heralds met their brethren on Acylus, they bore tales that eventually tipped the scales.
Decius returned from Ishim with the battered remnants of Second Company, having fought his way across a dozen worlds of the Delphurnean League. His eyewitness report of atrocities and massacres committed by the Charnel Guard and Flesh Eaters could not be ignored by the Chapter – and his words in defence of the Silver Stars and other Partisans were balanced but praiseworthy of their efforts in preventing the Pentarchy's war being unleashed on worlds beyond the region.
What truly tipped the balance, however, were the words of Severus Crassus of the Ninth Company. His ragged Company, so long separated from their homeworld and brethren, had been fighting alongside the Iron Guard in wilderness space. They had heard the summons of Master Enoch and Chapter Master Velghor of the Pentarchy upon their arrival in Heliopolis. Indeed, the Company had respectfully parted ways with the Iron Guard, whose xenocidal campaign was winding down, in order to attend to the Pentarchy's summons.
Severus Crassus had been confused by the lack of regional Astartes response to the summons. The Iron Guard understandably demurred the summons, citing their ongoing war with the Cantine, but neither the Star Wardens, Iron Tyrants or Spacewolves delegates were present at the gathering. A mere handful of Astartes from extra-regional Chapters unknown to him, including the Centaurs and Doom Eagles, had answered the call.
Deployed as reserves for the Pentarchy, Severus Crassus' Company has initially joined the invasion, moving rimwards with the Death Eagles II and Charnel Guard, but they were taken aback by the savagery the Pentarchy Chapters unleashed.
Already appalled, it was the atrocities unleashed on Gurro VII by the Flesh Eaters that proved the breaking point for the Argent Heralds. Decrying the wanton slaughter or the Emperor's loyal citizens and destruction of Imperial property, Severus Crassus broke ties with the Pentarchy after the Gurro campaign and headed for the Nonesuch RIft, hoping to slip by both sides and make their way home to Praedius to seek counsel from Chapter Master Cassus.
It was fortunate indeed that his shipmaster detected an Argent Heralds beacon on Acylus, where he was able to find his brethen and report. His account, together with that of his brother-Captains in the Fourth and Second, convinced Cassus that it was not merely the Carcharadons acting egregiously, but that the entire Pentarchy – and by extension, the High Lords themselves, that were corrupted.
For the Heralds, Volnoscere came to represent the best hope for the Imperium to regain lost ground in the wake of the Scouring and War of the Beast. Despite its great temporal power at the time, they saw the Imperium as a dying empire, declining slowly but inevitably in an uncaring galaxy – but with the potential to be born again and rise from the ashes.
It was with thus with few misgivings that Cassus and the Argent Heralds finally pledged themselves to Volnoscere. Many amongst their ranks had long been privately convinced by events that in the Partisan cause had been born the promise of light in the darkness; a rebirth or regeneration of the Imperium. They claimed that Volnoscere Enthroned would wipe away the bureaucracy and malignancy of the Imperium, and heralding him as the 'last true son', they marched to war alongside the other Partisans as welcome allies and a symbol of the new dawn they hoped to bring to the Imperium by removing the 'corruption' at its head.
This considerable injection of manpower, war materiel, and experience at this critical juncture lent Volnoscere’s forces a much-needed boost in the wake of the onslaught and ahead of some of the formative battles of the mid-stage of the war, including the Qorabbas Retribution in which elements of the Firebreak, Argent Heralds and Riven Lords made an attempt upon the Flesh Eaters' Chapter Master – and de facto leader of the Pentarchy. They played a critical role in the broader defence of the Delphurnean League, earning the personal thanks of Volnoscere, and gave a good – if pyrrhic – account of themselves during the Machinedeath of Null, fighting against the godwalkers of Legion Validus and Legio Punica.
As the Sorrowful Years approached and the flames of battle briefly dimmed, Chapter Master Cassus found himself at the head of a mere six hundred surviving Astartes – but each and every one stood proudly and boldly at the side of the Primarch; true believers in the Partisan cause and determined that the High Lords should be toppled in favour of the last true son.
“You have my apologies, cousin. We were summoned to battle by an Imperium that I can no longer recognise. If we have come to the day where those most bestial of Sanguinius’ line are sent to sanction the Iron Guard, then that is an Imperium I no longer recognise. I intend to bring the Heralds to the side of Volnoscere; we have a chance to fight for a better Imperium, to bring back those halcyon days of the Great Crusade instead of merely enduring our current darkness. Will you join me?”[//Praesius Auros Cassus to Lord Castellan Ljunge Blégos of the Iron Guard, following the Battle of Gurro VII+]