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The Ardent Swords are a Chapter of warrior-knights with a reputation for honour and courage upon the battlefields of the Imperium. For five thousand years they have cut a bloodied swathe through the enemies of the Imperium on their hunt to vanquish the one shameful stain that tarnishes their honourable service in the name of the Emperor of Mankind.
Scattered references indicate that the Ardent Swords chapter has been operating in the Imperium’s theatres of war since mid M33 leading to speculation that its creation lies during the 6th or 7th Founding. All other early Imperial records are thought to have been lost to the decays of time and the presumed incompetence of Imperial bureaucracy. The Chapter’s own once extensive archives only go back as far as M36 leaving the Ardent Swords with their first three millennia of service in the name of the Emperor unaccounted for. The loss of their records is accredited by the Chapter to a legendary battle in which the Captain of the 1st Company fell to Chaos and led a host of daemons against the Chapter, tearing the Fortress Monastery asunder. Much of what the Chapter call their history now lies in a single sacred tome, the Apocrypha Camlannae, the 'Book of Camlann'. Referred to as the 'Tome of Legends' it is one of the most revered relics belonging to the Ardent Swords.
The Battle of Camlann
The Apocrypha Camlannae accounts the Chapter’s history from a point estimated at around 050M36. The largest account within the tome’s first few chapters is the rise of Chapter Master Artair and the Battle of Camlann. Their homeworld of Camlann has been invaded three times throughout the Chapter’s history, but it is the first invasion of Camlann that has shaped the Chapter the most and a tale that haunts the Chapter to this day. It began when the vain Captain of the 1st company, Lord Morgan Medraut, succumbed to the whispers of Chaos. To this day none know how Morgan came to be turned from the light of the Emperor and for years his taint remained hidden as he worked towards his new master’s designs. When he deemed his preparations ready, he began his plot to seize Camlann and destroy the Chapter in the name of the Ruinous Powers at a time when only elements of the 1st and 6th companies were present on their homeworld.
Following his discovery of an ancient warp gate, known as Gorfannon’s Gate, within the bowels of the Fortress Monastery Lord Morgan proceeded to summon forth an army of lesser daemons from the Immaterium. The unholy horde spilled into the upper levels of the monastery and caught the 1st and 6th companies by complete surprise. After a short and costly battle, the surviving forces of the Chapter regrouped under the command of the Captain of the 6th company, Lord Erec, and fortified the hallways to the Great Hall, Librarium and Armoury. It was Lord Erec himself that alerted Master Artair to the treachery that had befallen them. Artair immediately departed for Camlann at the head of the entire Chapter fleet. With aid now on its way, Lord Erec knew it was just a matter of surviving long enough against the endless tide. The never-ending flow of daemons slowly gained headway against the valiant defenders. Running battles raged through the corridors and hallways as the forces of Lord Erec strove to keep the enemy at bay. Morgan personally led the assault on the Librarium which fell shortly and oversaw the destruction of all records there in upon a great pyre.
For three days and nights these fights raged, and on the fourth day Erec stood forth issuing a challenge of single combat to Morgan the Betrayer. Morgan emerged from the daemonic ranks, a shadow of his former glory, twisted by his deeds and masters. He answered Erec’s call by presenting the broken body of Erec’s friend, the Librarian Elandris, as a cruel taunt. They say the duel that ensued was a desperate combat harkening back to the dark days of the Horus Heresy, and ever in all the tongues of corruption did Morgan try to sway Erec, but he remained true. The end finally came when Morgan, unable to best the giant Astartes in martial prowess, resorted to using his foul sorcery to overwhelm the Captain and force him to his knees before piercing him with his blackened sword. Lord Erec fell in the final hours of the battle buying the defenders enough time to regroup once more, his death heralding the arrival of Artair and the reinforcements.
Artair and his strike force descended from the sky in drop pods, crashing through the remains of the Monastery’s spires into the midst of the daemon host. The reinforcements immediately began to stem the daemonic tide with the aid of a counter attack by the remnants of the defenders whilst Artair and his honour guard of Knights set off to hunt down the traitor. Artair came upon Morgan in the antechamber of Gorfannon’s gate:
- "Brother...what have you done?" Artair asked as he entered the ancient chamber buried below the monastery. Morgan glanced back over his shoulder, seemingly not caring about Artair's arrival before returning his gaze to the nascent portal...Look at what I have discovered Artair, the greatest labour of Gorfannon lies before us.
"What lies before us is a gateway to the realm of the Enemy! Stop this madness now and we can help you," Artair pleaded. Morgan was still his half-brother by the blood of their father and even now Artair still dared to hope that he could turn him from this dark path.
"Help..." Morgan muttered, momentarily trailing off as if gazing at something familiar beyond the portal. All of a sudden Morgan’s voiced boomed, "HELP?! I do not need your help!" he spat, gesturing with both arms open to the swirling vortex, "Beyond this doorway lies my salvation...my ascension!"
Artair grimaced at Morgan, no longer pleading with his fallen brother "Do this and you will be beyond redemption Morgan."
Morgan now fully turned to face Artair, revealing the true madness in his eyes, "I am already redeemed! Can you not see how they have blessed me!?"
Artair let out a lengthy mournful sigh, finally accepting that there was only one course that events could now take. He began to advance on Morgan, drawing the mythical sword 'Caliburn' from its scabbard, and as he approached he said with deep sorrow in his voice "Know this Morgan. You have been cursed, not blessed, and what I do now...I do for the honour of the Chapter, and for our duty to the Emperor. May he grant mercy on your soul."
- — Excerpt from the Apocrypha Camlannae, Book III, Chapter XXXI
Morgan proceeded to summon four Greater Daemons through the warp gate to slay the Chapter Master. Artair drew forward as his Knights formed up around him, standing strong and proud before the emergent Daemons; one of each foul aspect of the Ruinous Powers. He held aloft his mighty sword, Caliburn, and advanced chanting the litanies of the Emperor and led his Knights into combat first with the Keeper of Secrets.Artair charged headlong at the four-armed monstrosity and with the aid of his knights brought it down. The next to face them was the avatar of Nurgle, a beast of bloated infectious flesh which consumed five of his Knights before it fell to their righteous zeal. The Lord of Change began its assault barely as the Great Unclean One faded back into the Warp reducing another Knight to ashes. The foul creature uttered every incantation it could muster shortly before having its blasphemous head cleaved from its feathered shoulders. Last of all was the Bloodthirster. This monstrosity of Khorne was the most challenging of all the daemons to emerge through the gate. Artair stood before it with only one of his Knights remaining. The Greater Daemon wasted no time and brought its large axe crashing down in a two-handed grasp. Artair would have perished were it not for the sacrifice of the last Knight who pushed him from the axe’s arcing path, cleaving the noble warrior clean in two. The beast then turned its focus on Artair, its axe clashing time and again with Caliburn and his shield Prydwen, sparks of warp energy flaring between the two. Artair eventually managed to hamstring the great beast and bring it down upon his sword but only after sustaining a mortal wound from the creature’s barbed whip.
Artair now turned to face Morgan and the warp gate, though weary and near death himself. With Morgan in better condition than himself Artair knew he would not win the duel. Refusing to see his homeworld brought to ruin or his brethren fall he chose to sacrifice himself to destroy both the gate and the betrayer. Artair took his mighty sword and impaled it in a large stone dais before charging at Morgan. The sorrowful warrior endured the blasts of baleful warpfire that his brother flung at him and grabbed Morgan and hurled them both through the gate into the warp.
The flow of daemons was halted but the gate remained open. To the Chapter this meant that Morgan the Betrayer still lived, and yet if he lives then there may be hope for Artair and that he will one day return. On this belief was formed the reign of the Lord Regents, caretakers and custodians of the Chapter’s rule until the Chapter Master returns. The gate is kept guarded at all times and there the sword of Artair stood embedded and immovable in the sacred stone for over four thousand years, legend stating that only Artair may remove it.
The Great Hunt
Word of the large daemonic incursion and corruption of an Astartes was brought to the Ordo Malleus and the Chapter was notified that it was to undergo investigations into their purity much to their ire, with the reasons given that the loss of one of their number so completely to the taint of Chaos and their exposure to such concentrated numbers of Daemons alone warranted it. This was however postponed and ultimately forgotten for a time as the upheaval caused by Goge Vandire ushered in the infamous Age of Apostasy.
The Ardent Swords would spend most of this era rebuilding their strength after suffering such significant losses. Roughly two thirds of the Chapter had been lost in the gallant defence of their homeworld. It was at this time that the Chapter Librarians divined the location of another of Gorfannon’s labours, a vast vault of weapons and armour that had long been hidden and thought of as but a myth. This discovery aided in the rebuilding of the Chapter and enabled them to start on the path to reclaiming their honour. During this period the Ardent Swords devoted its remaining forces to hunting down Morgan Medraut, searching worlds and systems where rumour of him surfaced and engaging forces thought to be linked to him, staying out of the conflicts within the wider Imperium unless they laid in the path of what became known as the Great Hunt.
This Great Hunt has lasted millennia and during this, Morgan has been encountered numerous times, escaping each time with the aid of daemons, cultists, heretics and his champion, the Black Knight. The trail of the Great Hunt has thus carried the Ardent Swords throughout the Segmentum Obscurus and even into the Ultima Segmentum.
Stemming from their loathing of Morgan and his betrayal, one of the few instances where the Ardent Swords was observed to divert its forces away from the Great Hunt was when it has learnt of the location of a heretic Astartes Chapter, leading brutally swift campaigns of persecution against those that would cast aside their honour. This has led to encounters with the forces of the Inquisition and Grey Knights on several occasions, and while subjecting the Ardent Swords to close scrutiny, the two organisations have not found their purity or faith wanting. Intermittently the Great Hunt will inevitably pause and return to Camlann to reinforce their numbers and honour those who have given their lives for the Hunt in the Great Hall.
The Second Battle of Camlann
In 992.M41 one of the Chapter’s strike cruisers, the Isuelt, tracked Morgan to an area of Wilderness Space and discovered a Chaos Warfleet in final preparation for departure. The extrapolated course and readings of the Emperor’s Tarot showed signs it was heading toward Camlann. The Fortress Monastery was immediately warned and preparations were begun.
Fortunately the majority of the Chapter was already present in system awaiting resupply in preparation to; ironically, join the Isuelt in their pursuit. The Chapter fleet lead by their Battle Barges Llamrei, Passelande and Lady of the Lake positioned its vessels on the far side of Camlann’s moon whilst the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th Companies fortified their positions on the ground. The 10th Company was tasked with harrying their enemy’s flanks once they were fully committed to the battle. Morgan’s fleet exited warp space beyond Camlann’s moon and proceeded to swiftly advance. The Warfleet ploughed headlong into the orbital defences of Camlann with an utter disregard for strategy as the orbital defences opened fire and began to inflict heavy losses with its lance batteries and torpedo platforms. The Chapter fleet then emerged from behind the moon and engaged Morgan’s fleet in its rear echelons. Morgan’s Warfleet was now being systematically annihilated from all sides. However, all was not as it seemed.
The destruction of his fleet was part of Morgan’s dark plan, the vessels themselves not only holding the ship crews but also hundreds of thousands of prisoners and slaves. These poor damned souls were to be Morgan's grand sacrifice to his dark patrons. Morgan then proceeded to make planetfall with thousands of dropships amidst the ensuing chaos in orbit. As they descended through the atmosphere the Chapter’s air defences and gunships raced to blast them from the skies before they could reach the surface. Despite their valiant efforts the sheer weight of numbers was against them and as soon as the dropships landed they disgorged hordes of slaves on to the battlefield. Morgan now advanced his plan further for he had bound within the shell bodies of his slaves a vast army of daemons. He released the runes and sigils of binding and in a tide of gore and etheric lightning the daemon host walked upon Camlann once more. The daemons fell upon the fortifications of the fortress monastery like waves breaking upon mighty sea cliffs.
The 6th, 7th, and 8th Companies manned the Fortresses’ colossal walls, pushing back any daemons that successfully scaled the ancient edifices. Meanwhile Lord Tristram led his 2nd Company alongside Lord Gwain and his 1st Company with the 4th Company in a daring drop pod assault into the rear of the daemon army supported by the Chapter’s Land Raiders and gunships, attempting to prevent the daemons from breaking away and attacking the surrounding population.
As battle raged on below Lord Gwain received a telepathic warning from Master Librarian Emyrs urging him to make haste to Gorfannon’s Gate chamber. Knowing the ancient Librarian’s gift of foresight Gwain made for the bowels of the Fortress Monastery without hesitation. Emyrs’ premonitions proved true as the assault on the Fortress Monastery was revealed to be another deception by Morgan who had managed to forge his way to Gorfannon’s Gate using long forgotten knowledge of the Fortress. Upon completing his descent into the bowels of the Fortress Monastery Morgan discovered that Lord Regent Francis Parvellion had anticipated his move. Parvellion unsheathed his sword as Morgan drew closer. Once more did loyalist clash with traitor upon the very site of Artair’s final stand. The duel began and blade clashed with blade arcing off blue sparks of incandescent energy as power fields collided. The Lord Regent stood his ground but was no match for an Astartes as blessed with the boons of the Ruinous Powers such as Morgan and soon found himself on the defensive before being gravely wounded by his foe.
Morgan at that moment began his transformation to Daemon Prince with all the blood being spilled in orbit and on Camlann finally pleasing his patrons. The traitor towered over Parvellion who could barely kneel and was about to run his black sword through the Lord Regent when Lord Gwain stormed into the chamber. Before him he saw the Lord Regent on the floor and Morgan towering above him, his human features rapidly warping. Gwain courageously charged forward, desperate to save Parvellion but as he struck the traitor Morgan effortlessly broke Gwain’s blade with his own and cast him aside with supernatural ease. As Gwain came to his senses he heard a voice echoing through his mind claiming to be Artair’s sword.
Not questioning the artefact further Gwain grasped the ancient leather hilt of Caliburn and lifted it effortlessly from the sacred stone, the sword crackling with latent power. Morgan was taken aback by this, not expecting anyone to be able to remove the blade. Now, with Caliburn in hand, Gwain charged Morgan with renewed fervour. Gwain could see fear creep into the eyes of Morgan, fear of the sword of Artair and its power. He pressed his new found advantage as Morgan desperately tried to avoid the sword. The semi ascendant daemon prince cast all manner of spells at Gwain and each one was deflected by the runes inscribed along the blue blade.
Gwain closed ground quickly and as the distance decreased Caliburn erupted into ethereal blue flames and with one quick feint he pierced the Betrayer from below into his chest. The ascendant Morgan stepped back in shock, unable to grasp that he had failed once more. He began cursing Gwain in incomprehensible tongues as blue flames began to burst through his armour and he stumbled backward toward the inert warp portal shrieking in agony. To this day Gwain testifies that Gorfannon’s Gate burst into life and a golden figure in baroque power armour grabbed Morgan the Kin Slayer by the neck and dragged him through screaming before it just as mysteriously deactivated.
Following the Second Battle of Camlann the Council of Lords deigned Lord Gwain as acting Lord Regent whilst Lord Francis Parvellion resided in the Apothecarium to recover from his wounds. He was also praised as the Pendragon reborn by the battle-brothers of the Chapter for removing the legendary sword from the stone and so severely wounding Morgan. With the lull in the Great Hunt that ensued the Chapter began accepting petitions for aid within the wars of the Imperium for the first time in a millennium. Amidst all that transpired after the Second Battle of Camlann Gwain chose not to tell his brothers of the true nature of Caliburn, for concern that should the Inquisition learn of the weapon’s apparent sentience it would draw their eye upon the Chapter once more.
In 997M41 events were set in motion that signalled the return of the enemy. On the Shrine World of Arteya the 4th Company clashed with the forces of a Chaos Warband calling themselves the Company of Blood. Lord Ywain confronted their leader who made the grievously disturbing claim that his Khornate Raptors were the remnants of the Chapter’s long lost 8th Company and that they were there only to deliver a message from their new master, Lord Morgan. The message was of grim portent. He claimed Morgan was near to achieving his goal of ascension to daemonhood and would soon unleash his power against the Ardent Swords and claim Camlann as his own. The Warband having delivered their message then withdrew from battle.
Once again the Great Hunt began anew, now with a renewed fervour to hunt down not only Morgan but also the re-emergent lost 8th Company, and scour all knowledge of the taint to the Chapter’s honour from the galaxy, no matter the cost.
At the beginning of 999M41 the wardens of Gorfannon’s Gate in the bowels of the Fortress Monastery were astounded when the calm energies of the doorway flared into life and a lone Space Marine emerged through the arcane portal. Clad in the Chapter’s livery and heavily damaged armour, this mysterious Astartes proceeded to drag out of the portal another Space Marine bound in adamantium chains, Morgan the Betrayer. The wardens stood watching in awe as the Battle-brother before them proclaimed himself to be Artair Pendragon and that he had returned after finally capturing Morgan in the warp. Immediately word was sent out across the galaxy to the Chapter’s scattered forces to make all due haste back to Camlann to witness this prophesised moment.
Within two standard Terran weeks the entire Chapter had returned to Camlann with Lord Regent Gwain Leòghann and his strike force the last to arrive. Upon his return the Lord Regent could see that his fellow brothers were overjoyed at Artair’s return, as was he, for the battle-brothers of the Ardent Swords were raised with the notion that their legendary leader would return to them some day and lead them once more. In the two weeks that had passed since the Chapter Master’s return his charisma and tales of heroism had swept through the members of the Chapter and all held the living legend in even greater reverence than before. The Council of Lords was then called into session in the Great Hall. The Council discussed the future of the Chapter and agreed that the original pact of the Lord Regent had now been fulfilled and that the rank of Chapter Master should be reinstated. As the Council session ended, Lord Gwain remained behind and asked Artair for an audience. The Chapter Master agreed and once the remainder of the Chapter Lords had left the Great Hall Gwain dropped to one knee and offered Caliburn, the Chapter Master’s sword of old, to Artair. Artair paused at being presented with the ancient blade and as Gwain glanced up he could see something odd in the ancient Astartes’ eyes as he partially recoiled from the sword’s presence. Artair then composed himself hastily and abruptly told Gwain that the sword was still his to wield and ordered him to leave. Gwain left the Great Hall and as he sheathed Caliburn back into its scabbard the sword whispered to him one word, “fallen”.
Now suspecting that something was amiss, Lord Gwain sought out the two members of his Chapter that he trusted above all others, his mentor Lord Tristram and the Master Librarian, Emyrs. In the seclusion of the Librarian’s sanctum Gwain related to them all that had transpired in the Great Hall following the Council meeting. Lord Tristram weighed up his old apprentice’s account and agreed that something was not right whilst Emyrs counselled Gwain that although he must seek answers, in doing so he will bring great turmoil to the Ardent Swords. The troubled Astartes proceeded to shadow Artair over the following weeks and began to notice a strange pattern to the Chapter Master’s movements where he would vanish for a number of hours each day. All the while a split had been slowly developing amongst the battle-brothers of the Chapter. There were those who believed their fealty was owed to the returned Chapter Master as the Chapter’s beliefs dictated, however, a growing number of the Chapter felt that they owed more loyalty to Lord Gwain who had led the Chapter through its darkest times and still carried the holy sword. Gwain still possessing the sword became a great point of contention amongst Artair’s following and rumours had begun to spread that Lord Gwain had refused to return Caliburn to Artair out of jealousy.
After weeks of haunting Artair’s footsteps, Gwain was blessed by a stroke of fortune. The young Lord was able to catch sight of Artair heading down into the detention cells below the Monastery. He carefully stalked the Chapter Master down the spiralling dark stairways and witnessed Artair calmly stood before the cell of Morgan Medraut. Whilst he could barely hear the words being spoken but it was clear to him that Morgan was discussing plans with the Chapter Master. All of a sudden Artair’s face flickered and contorted, like something was squirming under skin. It then dawned on Gwain why Caliburn had whispered that word to him and the grim realisation set in that Artair had fallen and was now a thrall of Morgan’s.
Gwain attempted to leave but the two traitors became aware of his presence and Artair immediately gave chase up into the hallways of the Fortress Monastery. Gwain managed to put some distance between them despite the Chapter Master moving at an unnatural speed, and rounding a final corner suddenly found himself face to face with Morgan. The Betrayer used his foul sorcery to immobilise the Lord of the 1st Company before vanishing into the shadows. Gwain then felt a large hand grapple onto his armour as he was hefted up and dragged by Artair towards the Great Hall. As Artair hauled the motionless Gwain through the corridors of the monastery his fellow battle-brothers began to gather at the sight of the Chapter Master and Lord of the 1st Company. The ancient doors of the Great Hall were flung open as Artair hurled Lord Gwain into the ancient chamber.
No sooner than Gwain had impacted against the ground did Artair command the battle-brothers who were present in the Great Hall to apprehend Gwain as a traitor, and whilst they paused, hesitant to do so, Gwain realised that this was his only chance to prove Artair’s falsehood and allowed them to capture him without resistance. As the Chapter assembled before the podium at the head of the Great Hall Artair accused Gwain of attempting to assassinate him out of jealousy of losing Caliburn and his place as Lord Regent. Gwain then attempted to gainsay the Chapter Master’s claims, biding his time as he felt Morgan’s sorcery wearing off.
Artair simply laughed in response and many of the present battle-brothers jeered at the lurid claims. With Artair now distracted and the sorcery finally worn off, Gwain leapt to his feet, and, taking Artair by surprise thrust Caliburn’s hilt into his hands roaring “If you truly want your sword back then why don’t you take it!” A tremendous howl of pain erupted from the Chapter Master, the cries of innumerable different voices intertwined, as Caliburn burst into flame, its touch engulfing his hand in blistering fire; showing to all before them that Artair was no longer pure. As the sword fell to the floor confusion swept through the assembled Astartes and Artair bellowed the order to kill Lord Gwain as he cradled his still burning hand wreathed in blue aetheric flames. The Great Hall erupted into an almighty brawl as those who had been swayed by Artair attacked their loyal brethren who attempted to defend Lord Gwain. The fighting quickly escalated to the rest of the Fortress Monastery.
The fighting raged for two days straight with Lord Gwain rallying those still loyal to the Chapter. There were elements from all Companies fighting on both sides of the conflict adding to the confusion of who could be trusted. During the fighting Morgan had escaped from his cell and cut off all communication with the outside world to prevent Gwain from calling for aid.
On the third day Gwain led a furious counter attack on the Great Hall where Artair had set up his command position. The loyalist marines stormed the Great Hall’s entrance and poured into the defenders ranks with righteous zeal. Gwain, accompanied by Lord Tristram and his retinue of loyal Knights, fought his way to Artair and engaged him in single combat. Part way through their duel Morgan teleported into the Great Hall and joined in the melee forcing Gwain on the defensive. Gwain began to fight a losing battle against two opponents until Lord Tristram and Librarian Emyrs intervened and assaulted Morgan. With Morgan now occupied, Gwain renewed his assault on Artair but still found himself holding back. As the desperate duel continued Artair’s form began to transform, ridges and horns grew from his brow as his pupils formed into reptilian slits. Gwain felt something likened to comfort as he witnessed the changes, for now he knew with certainty that the thing before him was not Artair. Their revered hero was truly gone and the shell before him, this desecration of their greatest hero’s body, was the final straw, the ultimate insult to his Chapter. Gwain fury seemed limitless in that moment, his anger poured into every strike burning brighter than even Caliburn’s flames and so the corpse-shell was and finally forced him to its knees.
Morgan saw his plan was unravelling and immediately channelled a tremendous blast of warpfire at Lord Tristram and Emyrs which only incapacitated them thanks to Emyrs’ mastery of warding spells. Morgan then launched another blast of warpfire knocking Gwain to the ground. He approached Artair and to the surprise of both impaled the defiled Chapter Master’s body from behind, driving the hilt of Clarent as deep as it could go. The daemon within Artair’s corpse spluttered at the betrayal as its essence was drained into Clarent and fell to the side as a lifeless, desiccated husk. Finally having pleased his dark overlords, Morgan successfully ascended into daemonhood before all present. Lord Gwain paused for a brief moment and then swallowing any notion of fear, engaged in a titanic duel with Morgan the Daemon as Caliburn flared into life like never before, its blade blazing with blue flame in the presence of the daemon prince. With each strike upon Morgan’s form he howled out in great pain as the ethereal fire of Caliburn set him ablaze. In a final flurry of strikes the young Lord brought the traitorous monster down.
Without a second thought Gwain beheaded Morgan banishing him back to the warp once more. As Morgan’s body began to fade away his severed head whispered “You are but a player in a greater game, a pawn to a master you know nothing of and yet so willingly accept its gifts with unquestioning belief. A weapon of zeal and malice to its foes”. Gwain, exhausted from the fight but knowing there was no time to lose broadcast to both sides of the conflict news of Morgan’s treachery.
Those who had sided with Artair now realised their folly and threw down their arms, presenting themselves to their loyalist brothers for judgement. They were judged by both the Librarians and Chaplains as not being tainted but were still found guilty of their actions. Gwain chose to show mercy and formed the surviving traitors into their own nameless Order. This Order would regain their honour by undertaking a century long penitent crusade, the survivors of which would be welcomed back into the Chapter. Following the civil war the Chapter’s strength was reduced down to six hundred and twelve battle-brothers excluding those who left on the penitent crusade who numbered one hundred and fifty four. In a bid to bring the Chapter back to strength Lord Gwain declared that in such dire times that he would forego the Chapter’s traditions on this single occasion and elevated all of the Chapter’s surviving scouts to the rank of battle-brother and decreed that a great series of tournaments would be held across Camlann to recruit new neophytes in order to further bolster the Chapter’s severely depleted numbers. Finally one month after the fighting had ended the Council of Lords convened and those present voted on which battle-brothers they should raise to the rank of Company Lords to replace those that had sided with Artair. It was also unanimously agreed that Gwain be granted the position of Chapter Master and the honorific of Pendragon like Artair before him.
The Galaxy Bleeds
Following Lord Gwain’s ascension to the rank of Chapter Master at the end of 999M41 the thirteenth Black Crusade burst forth from the Eye of Terror and assaulted the bordering sectors. Heeding the dire reports of Cadia coming directly under siege the Ardent Swords’ Council of Lords chose commit the Chapter’s entire strength to the war effort against Abaddon the Despoiler. However, as the Ardent Swords’ vast fleet was en-route to Cadia they learned of the planet’s destruction. The Council of Lords convened once again to discuss all possible actions they could take now and after much debate it was concluded that they would best serve the Imperium if they were to head to Segmentum Solar and lend their aid in the defence of the Imperium’s core sectors, which were surely the true target of the Despoiler. During transit within the Warp the Chapter fleet was violently displaced back into realspace as the Cicatrix Maledictum, a vast warp tear that tore across reality from one side of the galaxy to the other, instantly cut off all warp and realspace travel to the southern half of the Imperium.
Lord Gwain and the Council of Lords gathered aboard the Battle Barge Llamrei and turned to the Emperor’s Tarot for directions. The Tarot determined that they should attempt to cross the Great Rift and so a course was set by the Fleet’s navigators. The entire chapter fleet jumped into the warp right at the edge of the Cicatrix Maledictum only for all of its vessels to be thrown back into realspace except for the battle barge Llamrei and strike cruiser Kingsblade which successfully exited the warp on the other side of the Great Rift. Unable to contact the rest of the Chapter on the northern side of the Great Rift Lord Gwain made the painful decision to order the Llamrei and Kingsblade to proceed to the nearest Imperial world. Under his command Lord Gwain now had his accompanying retinue of sixteen Knights of the Sword, Lord Bédoier and his 3rd Company, Lord Calen and thirty of the 1st Company veterans, vehicle crews drawn from the 6th and 7th Companies and two squads of Lancers from the 8th Company.
En-route to Imperial space the Ardent Swords received an Astropathic message originating from holy Terra purportedly authored by the Primarch of the Ultramarines, Roboute Guilliman, ordering all available Astartes forces to converge at Mars in the Sol System. The revelation that a living Primarch had emerged was treated with an air of both celebration and scepticism by the Chapter. Regardless Lord Gwain ordered his two vessels to head to the heart of Segmentum Solar to join the Primarch’s muster
Here are but a handful of the uncountable campaigns that the Ardent Swords have fought across the galaxy in the name of the Emperor.
M36 - M39
Varmaxian Incursion - The Ardent Swords deviate from the course of the Great Hunt to launch an assault on the Chaos Space Marine warband known as the Talons of Anathrax, one of the unfortunate Chapters that took part in the Abyssal Crusade. The Talons of Anathrax had begun raiding the hiveworld of Varmax. In response the Ardent Swords divert three battle companies from the Great Hunt to deal with the fallen Chapter. The Talons enable a massive daemonic incursion on the planet and it is only with the aid of a Brotherhood of Grey Knights that the Ardent Swords are able to repulse the daemonic horde and drive the Talons of Anathrax from Varmax.
The Orllisk Incident - The Chapter once again enters the Halo Stars on the trail of Morgan. Arriving at the world of Orllisk at the edge of the spatial anomaly Accursed Demesne, the Ardent Swords discover an ancient world scoured by raging plasma storms and covered in strange ruins. Among the ruins are strange black monoliths similar in design to the Pylons of Cadia. The Chapter fleet’s augers note that despite the planets close proximity to Accursed Demesne, the warp is perfectly calm around the world. The 5th Company finally tracks Morgan down to a pyramid complex at the Planet’s North Pole and engages his cabal in a surprise attack. Morgan, for once, is seemingly not one step ahead of the Chapter and is trapped within the walls of the pyramid. He flees deeper into the labyrinth with the 5th Company at his heels. At the centre of the pyramid Morgan discovers an ancient sarcophagus containing a silver humanoid. The Chaos Lord proceeded to open the tomb as Lord Lamiel enters the antechamber at the head of a squad of Knights of the Sword. The being within the tomb begins to awaken as its eyes illuminate with an eerie green glow. The walls of the chamber begin to shift and open up as more metallic figures emerge from an ageless slumber. Morgan slips away into the shadows as the mysterious silver skinned beings begin to attack the Space Marines, forcing them to fight their way through hundreds of the creatures that seem to repair themselves as the pyramid itself begins to come to life. Once the survivors were back on board their Thunderhawks, Lord Lamiel ordered the Exterminatus of the entire planet. The Chapter fleet let loose their entire arsenal into Orllisk and watched on as the bombardment broke the planet apart, reducing it to dust.
WAAAGH SKULLKRAKKA - The 3rd Company is stranded on the world of Orthellus after the space hulk Tide of Damnation and its attendant Ork fleet of Waaagh Skullkrakka unexpectedly exit the warp and destroy their strike cruiser. The majority of the Company is able to make planetfall and begins fortifying the planet’s capital alongside the PDF in order to buy enough time for reinforcements to come. After holding out for one Terran week aid arrives in the form of three battle companies from the Shields of Dorn Chapter, Techguard regiments from the neighbouring Forgeworld of Magrodal Prime and the titans of Legio Caelus. Seeing that the tide of battle is turning against him, Warboss Skullkrakka crash lands his space hulk into the surface of Orthellus bringing further chaos to the planet. The fighting rages in the shadow of the ever-expanding mushroom cloud as the Legio Caelus faces off against the Ork Gargants whilst the Magrodalan Techguard and Orthellus PDF engages the Orkish horde. The Ardent Swords and Shields of Dorn conduct an aerial assault in their Thunderhawk Gunships and deploy directly on to the grounded Tide of Damnation. After fifty hours of continuous fighting through the labyrinthine corridors of the hulk the Astartes force confronts and kills Warboss Skullkrakka and his Nobz, ending the Waaagh.
M39 - M40
The Hunt for Illustrious Faith - The Ardent Swords’ first petition of aid in three thousand years takes the form of a request of assistance from the Imperial Navy. The ancient battleship Illustrious Faith has vanished whilst out on patrol in the Olorodan Sector with mutiny being suspected. The Chapter assigns the strike cruisers Kingsblade and Courage of Erec alongside side a flotilla of frigates to the hunt with the battlebarge Passelande held in reserve should the battleship be found in enemy hands.
The Chapter strike force arrives at the last known location of Illustrious Faith and the fleet augurs immediately detect traces of warp activity from several unknown vessels. The strike force commander contacts the Passelande and requests it make all due haste to their location. In the Sprandor system they come upon the battleship moored in an asteroid belt. Sensors pick up no power signatures and no other vessels in the vicinity, and so the strike force begins to advance. All of a sudden, the silent battleship comes to life with unnatural speed and its lance and gun batteries open fire. The strike force is forced to break formation and loses 3 frigates in the opening volley whilst the strike cruiser Kingsblade is heavily damaged by a salvo of torpedoes from seven Iconoclast Destroyers emerging from a nebula on their flank.
The Ardent Swords, now forced on the defensive, attempt to withdraw with the Illustrious Faith and destroyers in close pursuit. The ancient archeotech of the battleship’s superior thrusters enable it to close the distance rapidly and it annihilates another frigate with its dorsal lances. Just as all hope seems lost, the Passelande emerges from the Warp on the Illustrious Faith’s starboard. The Passelande levels its prow bombardment cannons and opens fire on the Illustrious Faith’s prow section. The raw firepower of the bombardment cannons and shrinking range allow the barrage to overwhelm the battleship’s formidable void shielding. To the surprise and terror of the Illustrious Faith’s commander the Passelande continues on its course and rams into the weakened prow of his vessel, completely obliterating it and sending a chain reaction of explosions rippling through the stricken battleship as torpedo stores and ammunition dumps are ignited and crushed. The impact also gravely damages the Passelande’s prow and sections of its port side. With the Illustrious Faith dead in the void the strike force turns and begins its assault on the Iconoclasts. Having witnessed the carnage wrought by the Passelande, the small destroyers immediately attempt to fall back but are in turn harassed by Thunderhawk Gunships and the Courage of Erec as they attempt to flee.
Meanwhile the Passelande launches its complement of assault rams carrying the Ardent Swords’ 4th Company through the void, crashing into the crippled traitor ship. The crew of the Illustrious Faith are no match for the Emperor’s finest warriors and they advance swiftly through the meandering corridors and cavernous decks. As they advance into the heart of the vessel the plasteel walls begin to change to pulsating flesh the closer they draw to its bridge. Suddenly the air starts to crackle and the smell of brimstone fills the hallways as multitudes of daemons begin to crawl out of the fleshy walls. The 4th Company is forced to conduct a fighting withdrawal back to their boarding craft as the tide of unholy warp spawn threatens to overcome them. Reinforcements arrive when Terminators of the 1st Company teleport into the fray. With the aid of the Chapter’s veterans Lord Galand leads a daring assault on the battleship’s warp core. There they discover foul ritualistic symbols carved into the hull of the vessel. The Company’s Chaplain declares the battleship is unrecoverable and so Lord Galand orders the Chapter withdraw after setting melta-charges in the chamber. Once their boarding craft are clear the Passelande opens fire with its entire arsenal on the drifting hulk as Lord Galand triggers the melta charges setting off a warp core collapse which vaporises the Illustrious Faith and its corruption.
The Night Spear - Lord Regent Godwynn Eldred and Inquisitor Gorlun are forced to ally with the Eldar Exodites of Tar-Harandel to fight Morgan and his cult as they attempt to use the artefact known simply as the Night Spear. This ancient device is believed to be the prison of a bloodthirster greater daemon of tremendous size and power and Morgan seeks to unleash it to further his master’s dark goals. Lord Godwynn duels with the Black Knight as the exodite Farseer Elendar confronts Morgan before he can shatter the Night Spear.
Morgan overpowers the Farseer and impales him with the Night Spear releasing the daemon. Lord Godwynn immobilises the Black Knight and attempts to keep the daemon at bay with his retinue of Knights as Morgan slips away with his champion. The Astartes are no match for the monstrosity of Khorne and begin falling to its axe and whip. They manage to buy enough time for the Eldar to summon their Avatar of Khaine which joins the fray. The Avatar wounds the Bloodthirster but ultimately loses as the greater daemon hews the molten iron body of the Avatar open with arcing swings of its axe. Taking advantage of the distraction Lord Godwynn grabs the Night Spear and impales the Bloodthirster in the back of its head, once again sealing the warpborne horror within the artefact. Lord Godwynn turns the Night Spear over to Gorlun who takes it back to Titan so that it may never fall into mortal hands again.
The Lion and the Sorcerer - The Chapter faces off against Morgan Medraut in 673M41 under command of Lord Garret, Captain of the 2nd Company and Sir Tristram. Tristram fights with such pride and ferocity that Morgan is forced on the retreat. The Lion of Lyonesse battled Morgan into a corner and the embittered sorcerer lashed out in a desperate attack. The mighty Lion would have fallen in that moment were it not for the noble sacrifice of the mortally wounded Lord Garret whose last words were to name Sir Tristram as his successor to the 2nd Company. Morgan vanished into a ball of warpflame before the Lion’s eyes as he swore vengeance against the traitor.
Vargrim’s Heresy - Sir Gwain is tasked with accompanying Lord Rowan of the 1st Company as the Chapter sent three full Battle Companies to halt the advance of the mad cardinal Leoditus Vargrim. Cardinal Vargrim had fallen to the temptations of Slaanesh and now led the corrupted masses and PDF regiments of his homeworld in an unholy crusade across the stars. The Ardent Swords intercepted them alongside the Imperial Guard forces of the Cadian 207th Regiment and Death Korps 90th Armoured Corp on the hiveworld of Strathos Primaris. There they waged a brutal purge of Vargrim’s corruption bringing low his followers. During the final battle Lord Rowan was separated from his main forces and overwhelmed by a tide of ravenous Chaos Spawn created by Vargrim. Too late did Gwain make it to his Lord’s side and so he sought vengeance against the Chaos Spawn and Vargrim. Gwain decapitated the possessed preacher ending Slaanesh’s hold over reality on the world. Upon returning to Camlann the Council of Lords met and unanimously agreed to appoint the young prodigy to the lordship of the 1st Company.
The Wanderer Returns - The rogue planet that orbits Cambriae and Lundein in an almost sentient manner returns to the sub-sector. It turns out to be a Necron World Engine, smaller than the one encountered in the Vidar Sector by the Imperium, but still powerful enough to begin razing the outer planet of the Lundein system. The Ardent Swords engage the Demi World Engine along with the sector’s battlefleet in the Lundein System. The Chapter takes advantage of the Demi Engine’s still awakening void shields and lands the 1st, 2nd, 4th and elements of the 6th and 9th Companies via drop pod and gunship upon the Engine’s metal landscape. Constant strafing runs from gunships and Imperial Navy bombers keeps the strike force’s flanks safe as they advance with ferocious zeal towards the command structure. With the rest of the Chapter strike force holding off the Necrons the 4th Company managed to destroy the propulsion system causing the Engine to get caught in the Lundein star’s gravity well. The World Engine descended into the star and was destroyed.
The Indomitus Crusade
Relief of Thíva - The Ardent Swords learn of the beseiging of the Shields of Dorn chapter and lead their spur of the Indomitus Crusade in the relief of the Thívan system. The Crusade fleet smashes the Red Corsairs’ orbital blockade and establishes void supremacy before deploying to the surface. A brutal three-pronged assault drives deep in the heretic astartes formations sending their foe into full retreat. At the end of the battle Lord Gwain and Grand Praetor Castor of the Shields of Dorn reaffirm the vows of honour and brotherhood between their two Chapters. As a parting gift Gwain hands over new Primaris Marines of the lineage of Rogal Dorn to the Shields of Dorn who then in turn pledge their forces to the Crusade.
The Siege of Camlann - The Ardent Swords grow worried as their librarians begin receiving nightmarish visions of Camlann. Lord Gwain petitions the Lord Commander Guilliman for a fleet of the Indomitus Crusade and Primaris reinforcements in order to return to their homeworld on the other side of the Great Rift. The Lord Commander grants the request and the Ardent Swords embark on their journey home. En-route to Camlann the Chapter learns that their homeworld is under siege by daemons and heretic astartes under the command of Morgan Medraut, now known as the daemon prince M’rau the Ascendant. The Ardent Swords begin preparations for the conflict to come.
The Crusade fleet arrived in system and ploughed directly into the traitor’s armada above Camlann, and as the vessels of the Imperial Navy opened a breach in the enemy’s blockade the Ardent Swords’ Battle barge Llamrei and attending Strike Cruisers entered low orbit and deployed their forces by drop pod and Overlord gunship. Once their cargo was unloaded the Astartes vessels returned to join the fight for void superiority. The massive Overlord gunships resplendent in the Chapter’s livery descended upon the battlefield and wrought a heavy toll upon the invaders before deploying their other deadly payload to meet the forces of M’rau in open warfare.
Lord Gwain personally led the counterattack on the Fortress Monastery and broke the leaguer to link up with Lord Tristram who had been leading the Chapter in Gwain’s absence. Lord Gwain exchanged a warm greeting with his mentor and informed the Lord of the 2nd Company of all that had transpired over the last one hundred years. Tristram then told how the Chapter had endured a century under siege and that it is on the verge of being brought to its knees. He revealed that M'rau intends to obliterate the Chapter utterly to destroy all traces of his true name and past.
A final push is made by the joint Chapter forces and they eventually drive the invaders from Camlann. Lord Gwain finally confronted M'rau the Ascendant atop the highest tower of the Fortress Monastery and using his true name to weaken him, banished the daemon prince to the warp with a mighty blow from Caliburn.
Chapter HomeworldThe Cambriae sub-sector lies within the sparse north eastern region of Segmentum Obscurus and is made up of only two star systems, the Cambriae system which is its namesake and the Lundein system. The Cambriae system consists of its star, Cambriae, and five orbiting planets; Llyn Dinas, Tintagel, Camlann, Cader Idris, and Ysbaddaden. Llyn Dinas orbits Cambriae at a distance of 0.387au, much to close to support human life even in hive cities, and is nothing more than a fiery molten hell. Tintagel is the systems second planet and is somewhat more hospitable than its first brother. Orbiting at 0.718au the planet has been uninhabited for several millennia and is primarily used as a training ground by the Ardent Swords. Between Llyn Dinas and Tintagel lies Tintagel’s Crown, a vast asteroid belt consisting of the leftover material from the star system’s formation. The asteroids are rich in precious minerals and have had numerous mining outposts constructed since late M38.
The Chapter makes its home on the third planet in the system, Camlann, a verdant temperate world with many mountain ranges which orbits Cambriae at 1.1au. The planet’s surface is made up from one super continent riddled with landlocked micro oceans, the currents of which enable the planet to have four distinct seasons similar to holy Terra. Currently the planet is passing through a minor ice age and the northern ice cap has expanded and now encompasses a large portion of the northern hemisphere. The population centres of Camlann are situated just below the planets equator with the Chapter’s Fortress Monastery lying further south of these. The society of Camlann is that of a feudal hierarchy with the Chapter’s Lord acting as overall ruler of the world, with various regional feudal lords seeing to the governing of the people. Each feudal lord has their own order of knights under their command and it is from these that the hopeful aspirants wishing to join the Ardent Swords are chosen. In the distant past Camlann was counted amongst the Knight Worlds colonised during the Dark Age of Technology.
The lands of Camlann are also steeped rich folklore. Most tales pertain to the deeds of heroic knights facing down giants or the Frost Wyrms of the north, but one tale speaks of an entity referred to as the Lady of the Lake or the Heart of Camlann. She is the guardian spirit of all people on Camlann and is traditionally offered prayer once a year for bountiful harvests and good rains. She is believed to dwell within a large crystal in the midst of a lake in the frozen north of Camlann. The Ecclesiarchy has met with repeated failure and often direct intervention from the Ardent Swords themselves in their efforts to abolish this tradition. This has led to the Lady of the Lake being begrudgingly incorporated as a Saint into Ecclesiarchal practices. Camlann has a multitude of flora and fauna, the most beautiful and deadly of which being the Frost Wyrms of the north which prey on the great elephant like Mamthors, all of which have grown in number as the ice age increases their habitable range. These beasts resemble the dragons of ancient Terran myth and play an important role within the Chapter’s recruitment trials.
Beyond Camlann is the planet Cader Idris orbiting around Cambriae at 1.3au. Cader Idris was once the sister colony of Camlann when both planets were presumably colonised during the Dark Age of Technology. It is evident that Cader Idris fell to the predations of Xenos raiders or other human worlds during the Age of Strife and its ruins show the use of super weapons beyond the Imperium’s current capability. The ruins themselves are both eerie and awe inspiring. It was on Cader Idris that a training group of Scouts discovered the Chapter’s three Land Raider Taranis’ in a stasis vault, ancient variants of the Land Raiders currently in use by the Adeptus Astartes at present. Recent archaeo-technological expeditions on both Camlann and Cader Idris have revealed that the planets were originally Knight Worlds prior to the Age of Strife, with a number of the discoveries being used by the Chapter's Forge Masters.
The outermost planet is the gas giant Ysbaddaden, its name taken from that of a giant in ancient Camlann folklore. Ysbaddaden is 5.21au from Cambriae and acts as the star system’s shield against asteroids and comets that prowl the void. The gas giant is parent to nine moons ranging in size from small asteroids to its largest moon, Logres which is almost the same size as Cader Idris. Logres appears to have been settled in the past and also shared the same fate as Cader Idris’ population millennia ago. The moon currently serves as a munitions storage site for the Ardent Swords and its fleet. The system’s Adeptus Astra Telepathica listening post is also located on Logres. The system is also home to a rogue moon called "the Wanderer". It bears a very estranged orbit, acting almost like it is sentient, and rarely enters the inner regions of the system. When it does it is considered an ill omen.
Knighthold is the ancient fortress monastery of the Ardent Swords. Once a bastion of the Knights of House Penthraig during the Age of Strife the keep and fortifications were claimed by the Chapter upon their arrival on Camlann after their founding. Knighthold was originally carved out of the cannibalised hull of an ancient void ship that fought in the war against the Men of Iron under the command of House Penthraig. As such much of the Fortress’ labyrinthine passageways remain unexplored or sealed off even to this day with a potential trove of relics awaiting discovery. Within the Knighthold there are several sub-structures that hold great importance to the Chapter.
The Great Hall - this is where the Ardent Swords gather to feast or perform ceremonies of enrolment.
The Grand Council Chamber – the chamber wherein the Council of Lords meet at the Round Table to discuss matters of import to the Chapter and what petitions of aid to answer.
The Reclusiam – here are housed the Chapter’s relics. It is also under the arching ceiling of this hall that the Astartes of the Chapter are regailed with the heroic tales of their forebears so that they may be inspired and driven to great deeds themselves and their stories one day be told.
The Librarium – where the vast tomes containing the Chapter’s known histories are kept and jealously guarded by the Magisters under High Magister Emyrs’. Following its previous destruction during the first Battle of Camlann the Librarium is one of the most heavily fortified sections of the Knighthold.
The Great Forge – it is here that the Chapter’s Techmarines labour to maintain the weapons and armour of their Battle-brothers.
Gorfannon’s Gate – A warp gate located in the bowels of the Knighthold. It was through this gate that Lord Morgan allowed hordes of daemons to invade the Fortress Monastery above and led to the First Battle of Camlann. Legend has it that the gate was created by Gorfannon, first Forge Master of the Ardent Swords, shortly after the Chapter’s founding. A forge smith without peer, his armour adorned all members of the Knights of the Sword and the ten Lords, and his fine weapons armed every battle brother in the Chapter. Ever did Gorfannon seek to better his previous works and it was to this end that he would create his legacy. He sought to create a weapon comparable to a great sword of local folklore, Caliburn.
He forged his sword out of the heart of a fallen star. For ten days and ten nights he slaved over his anvil, sculpting the precious metal. Once the physical form of the sword was finished Gorfannon sought a way to empower it. Using various pieces of techno arcana gathered from the catacombs of the Knighthold he crafted a machine that could channel the cascading energies of the warp through it. In secret he began the final stages of his craft. In the centre of a hidden chamber in the bowels of the fortress monastery Gorfannon placed the sword upon a large stone dais at the centre of a pool of water, and initiated the channelling process. At first the warp energy merely trickled into the sword, but suddenly the flow surged and at once became uncontrollable and Gorfannon could do nothing to contain it. He hastily destroyed the machinery and flung the sword from the dais. As the empowered sword sailed through the air the fabric of reality bent and buckled about it, until, unable to contain the confined energies no more, the sword collapsed in on itself and exploded into a mature warp gate.
Gorfannon’s Vault – an ancient vault once thought to be a legend that contained a vast store of weapons and armour crafted by the vault’s eponymous creator. Though the vault itself is now empty it is still a place of reverence for the Chapter and in particular its Techmarines. It is believed that after witnessing the creation of the warp gate Gorfannon received a vision, a dark portent of the future. He saw a man consumed of vanity and greed. Screaming skulls reigning down upon hallowed halls and towers crumbling under pillars of light. And finally, a desperate duel and a sword embedded in a stone. Gorfannon told no one of his actions that day, nor of his vision. For a hundred days and nights Gorfannon toiled in the Chapter’s forge and made a great store of weapons and armour. He had his servitors construct a secret vault and fill it with the spoils of the last hundred days, before sealing it with great adamantium chains and holy purity seals of the highest order.
Chapter OrganisationThe Ardent Swords maintain the standard 10 companies dictated by the Codex Astartes but have over time diverged from its tenets in a
number of ways.
The Pendragon and the Knights of the Sword
The Pendragon is the honorific bestowed upon the Chapter Master of the Ardent Swords. Aside from being the title of Chapter Master Artair it is unknown whether his predecessors also carried it. The title itself is derived from the name of the world’s ruling house of Martian Knights from the early millennia of the Age of Strife, House Penthraig.
With the rule of the Lord Regents the title of Pendragon was forbidden to be taken by any individual again, for the Ardent Swords still believed that Artair lived. However, following the great Chapter War that ensued the Council of Lords unanimously agreed to grant the young Lord Gwain the rank of Chapter Master, and with it the title of Pendragon following his removal of Caliburn from the sacred stone and the defeat of Morgan Kin Slayer twice in battle.
The Knights of the Sword are an order of knights existing outside of the Chapter’s companies and form the Chapter’s equivalent of an Honour Guard. Veteran Space Marines of the 1st company and even the other Companies are eligible to join the order after centuries of heroic deeds in service of the Chapter. Along with joining the order they are knighted in a ceremony in front of the other members of the Knights of the Sword and given the title of ‘sir’. Entrance into the order can be given due to countless acts of selfless heroism going beyond what the Adeptus Astartes are normally capable of. In times of great need the Knights of the Sword are grouped together into units and equipped from the Armoury’s most ancient vault with artificer armour, a power sword crafted in the likeness of Caliburn, a bolt pistol and storm shield.
Lancers are a unique unit for the Ardent Swords. They are thought to be based on the traditions of jousting tournaments held amongst the populace of their homeworld. Lancers are Space Marines mounted on lesser wyrms that are bred for the Chapter by the surrounding feudal lords and armed with a power lance and storm shield. Lancers make up the entirety of the 8th Company replacing the roles of the standard Codex Assault Company. Typically, the Lancers will operate in squads of five members, however they are trained to be deployed in larger formations. To become a Lancer an aspirant must form a close bond with one of the lesser wyrms before it will allow them to mount it. Once the bond is formed these creatures are utterly loyal and will never abandon their riders. Conversely a wyrm that has lost its rider will never accept another. Following the incorporation of the new Primaris Marine units into the Chapter, some units of Inceptors have been trained with modified Assault Bolters and power lances to create the new Primaris Lancers.
Knight Pattern Dreadnoughts
Knight pattern dreadnoughts are another unit unique to the Ardent Swords. Whilst the Ardent Swords make use of the standard patterns of Dreadnoughts available to the Adeptus Astartes, a select few of their fallen Battle-Brothers are interred in a more unique form of Dreadnought. The Knight pattern of Dreadnought is produced by the Chapter’s own Forge Smiths and aesthetically resembles the Contemptor pattern Dreadnoughts of old, exemplifying the Chapter’s combat doctrines and the individual Astartes’ martial prowess when he was counted amongst the living. Most often it is the members of the Chapter’s Honour Guard known as the Knights of the Sword or the Chapter’s Lords that are housed within the Knight Dreadnoughts for their experience and skills in the art of war are something that the Chapter cannot afford to lose. Armed with a weapon known as a Greatsword and a large shield called an Aegis, the Knight Dreadnought is a match for any foe in close combat and will only be called upon in when the Chapter knows it will be facing a truly testing battle.
The Green Knight
The Green Knight is a living legend on Camlann. It is the sole surviving Imperial Knight of the House Penthraig, the ancient ruling house of Camlann from the lost histories of the time before the Great Crusade when Camlann was a Knight World. Over the course of the Age of Strife the valiant House of Penthraig and its subservient Houses slowly fell one by one to the constant xenos invasions and daemon incursions that plagued humanity until only one mighty Knight remained. That lone Knight still stands and now serves alongside the Ardent Swords on the battlefields of the 41st millennium. The noble house of Penthraig has a unique relationship with the Ardent Swords. They are not bound by the Pact of Lords to give up their first born to the Chapter. Instead their first born, be it male or female, is trained to one day become the pilot of the Green Knight and serve the Ardent Swords in this manner. In recent years House Penthraig has begun to rebuild is numbers.
The Chapter believes in honour upon the battlefield. Through this they seek to avoid employing stealth tactics unless victory cannot be secured otherwise, believing it to be a form of cowardice to not face the enemy directly.
The Chapter therefore favours more direct assaults as its preferred modus operandi. A typical assault begins with orbital bombardment or strafing runs from the Chapter’s gunships if more precision is required. These are then followed by drop pods and Thunderhawks to deploy the Chapter’s forces on to the battlefield. After the initial strikes have established a beach head and their heavier has been deployed the Ardent Swords will then make use of an armoured spearhead to break through the enemy lines. At the head of the formation and on the flanks ride the mighty Lancers. These Battle-Brothers are mounted on lesser Wyrms, mighty dragon-like creatures, and armed with power lances and ride on into their foe’s formations to break them up and allow the heavy armour behind to pick out targets with ease. Following the incorporation of the Primaris Marines into the Chapter and the 8th Lancer Company, the Inceptor units have been trained as jump pack equipped Lancers which has allowed for the full encirclement of the enemy as they deep strike into the target’s rear echelons whilst their Wyrm riding brethren assault the front and flanks.
In the wake of the missing Imperial and Chapter records the Magos Biologis of the Adeptus Mechanicus have divined that the gene-seed of the Ardent Swords is most likely of Ultramarine or Dark Angel ancestry despite the Chapter’s longstanding claims to be sons of Dorn. Evidence for this comes from the 10% stability rate present in tithe samples and the fact the Chapter’s gene-seed does no suffer from the mutations of the Imperial Fists’ and their successors. It should be noted that the Chapter’s organisation of Knightly orders, use of sword and lion motifs, and certain unit formations have lead observers to lean more in favour of the First Legion being this Chapter’s primogenitor. The gene-seed was deemed stable and free from taint after the Inquisition and Adeptus Mechanicus investigated it over five centuries as a possible source of Morgan Medraut’s fall.
The Ardent Swords chapter recruits its aspiring neophytes from their homeworld of Camlann. The most common source of recruits comes from the winners of a series grand combat and jousting tournaments held every year in the cities of Camlann in the southern hemisphere, and also from the Knights serving the regional Feudal Lords. Another way of entry into the Chapter’s ranks is from the noble families of Camlann who by ancient pacts with the first Council of Lords must give up their firstborn sons to join the Chapter’s scout company.
Once an aspirant has proved himself worthy of becoming a fully-fledged battle brother after their time in the 10th Company they must face one last challenge known as the Final Quest. The scout must don a ceremonial suit of armour and travel into the cold northern mountains to seek out and slay a mature frost Wyrm with nought but a simple broadsword and bring back its head as proof off the deed. The task is no easy feat as the creatures grow to the size of a Land Raider and greater still, and it is not unknown for an aspirant to never return. When a neophyte returns with his prize he is then presented with his power armour before the Captain of their new Company and their fellow battle-brothers.
Notable Ardent Swords
- Chapter Master Artair Pendragon – the near mythical first recorded Chapter Master of the Ardent Swords. With the loss of their records prior to the time of Artair he is regarded as their founder who lead the Chapter to many heroic victories until his disappearance at the end of the first Battle of Camlann.
- High-Smith Gorfannon – A Master of the Forge from the lost histories of the Chapter. Long ago Gorfannon received visions of the Chapter’s destruction and so laboured for a hundred days and nights to create a vast store of armour and weapons to aid the Chapter in the future. Gorfannon’s Vault faded into legend until it was rediscovered following the catastrophic betrayal of Morgan and the first Battle of Camlann.
- Lord Gwain Leoghann – The prodigy who under the tutelage of Lord Tristram rose to become the current Chapter Master of the Ardent Swords, the first since the time of Artair almost six millennia ago. Lord Gwain was able to remove the ancient relic sword Caliburn from its sacred stone and used it to defeat Morgan when he returned at the second Battle of Camlann.
- Lord Tristram – Lord Tristram is the Captain of the 2nd Company. Known as the Lion of Lyonesse, he is renowned for his indomitable spirit and peerless martial prowess. He was the illegitimate son of a nobleman of Lyonesse whose wife declared the young Tristram to be their firstborn so that her own son would not be subject to the ancient Pact of Lords, whereby the eldest son of each noble family must join the Ardent Swords. His tale within the pages of the Apocrypha Camlannae began with the completion of his Final Quest, when he returned from the frozen north with the head of not one but three Frost Wyrms. From that moment his superiors knew he was destined for great deeds in the centuries ahead.
- Grand Magister Emyrs – Emyrs is the current Grand Magister of the Ardent Swords. It is under his and Lord Tristram’s tutelage that Lord Gwain Leoghann has advanced to become the leader of the Ardent Swords. Emyrs' gifts of foresight have served the Chapter well over the centuries. He and Lord Tristram are regarded as the oldest and wisest members of the Chapter who are not entombed with the hallowed sarcophagus of a Dreadnought.
- Sir Olwen Wyrmbreaker and Frostmaw – Olwen came from humble beginnings and through sheer perseverance and ceaseless training he managed to enter the ranks of the 10th Company. After proving himself worthy he was allowed the chance to undertake the Final Quest. For weeks Olwen scoured the frozen north in search of a worthy quarry against which he could prove himself and Eventually he came across the nest of a Frost Wyrm matriarch. The great beast was larger than a Thunderhawk and instantly set upon the Scout. After a desperate struggle Olwen beheaded the beast and prepared to depart with his prize. Before leaving he heard a noise from the back of the cave and stumbled upon a young juvenile Wyrm, no bigger than his forearm and most likely the brood runt. Olwen took pity on the creature and brought it back to Knighthold. On his return he was elevated to the rank of Battle-Brother and within months had managed to break in the young Wyrm, naming it Frostmaw and earning himself the honorific of Wyrmbreaker. As time drew on the beast grew at an alarming rate under Olwen’s care and soon outgrew his quarters. No longer the runt of the nest the adolescent Frost Wyrm has served alongside Olwen on many battlefields. Within a century Olwen and Frostmaw joined the ranks of the vaunted Knights of the Sword. Olwen now rides atop Frostmaw, now nearly the size of a Rhino, in service to the Chapter and Emperor.
Spending a lot their time engaged in the Great Hunt has required that the Ardent Swords maintain a larger than average fleet. The fleet consists of 3 Battle Barges along with 9 Strike Cruisers, and 20 Rapid Strike Vessels. These numbers allow the Chapter to separate and follow different trails on the Hunt yet still maintain enough firepower to deal with anything they discover.
- Lady of the Lake
- Lance of Lyonesse
- Wyrm Stalker
- Courage of Erec
- The Green Knight
- Morgan's Bane
Caliburn – the mythical sword of Chapter Master Artair. For millennia the sword lay embedded within the sacred stone dais in Gorfannon’s Gate chamber. It wasn’t until the Chapter’s hour of need that Lord Gwain Leoghann was able to remove it from the stone and defeat the fallen Lord Morgan Medraut at the Second Battle of Camlann. The sword resembles an ornate ancient broadsword with runes inscribed along the blade. When in the presence of a foe the sword ignites into blue ethereal flames that burn all but the bearer and their allies. The flames grow even stronger when in the presence of a servant of the Ruinous Powers. Caliburn appears to be sentient although this is known only to Lord Gwain. Whilst the sword has refused thus far to reveal it’s true identity, it makes no secret of it’s hatred for the forces of Chaos.
Apocrypha Camlannae – this ancient tome is arguably one of the Chapter's most important relics, second only to Caliburn. The weathered pages of the Book of Camlann contain the Ardent Swords' oldest histories and texts and was the only record to escape the destruction of the Librarium during the First Battle of Camlann. Within it's hallowed pages are told the tales of Artair's rise to Chapter Master and the deeds there after of all the Chapter's greatest heroes and campaigns. It is from this book that the Chaplains, known as Lorekeepers, give their sermons to their battle brothers inspiring them to great deeds that will one day be added to this most prized relic.
Prydwen – this ancient storm shield once belonged to Artair Pendragon, first Chapter Master of the Ardent Swords. The exact age of the shield cannot be divined by the Chapter’s forge smiths however it is clear that the systems that lie within in it are more advanced than the standard patterns of similar shields, affording a greater level of protection against all blows.
Stormbreaker – a massive archaic thunder hammer that first saw service in the hands of Lord Erec, Captain of the 6th Company at the time of the First Battle of Camlann. This weapon has through the ages slain many foes in the name of the Great Hunt and the Emperor and now finds itself in the hands of Lord Tristram, Captain of the 2nd Company. The hammer is so massive that even regular Astartes struggle to lift it. Lord Tristram, like Lord Erec before him, is larger in size and strength than his brothers enabling him and him alone to wield this mighty weapon.
Lion’s Fang – the wrist mounted storm bolter of Lord Tristram. This weapon has been tinkered with numerous times over the centuries by the Chapter’s forge smiths and is capable of putting out more rounds than the standard storm bolter pattern along with more penetrating power.
Clarent – an ancient ceremonial sword that was long ago used in the Knighting ceremonies for both the Knights of the Sword and the elevating of a Scout into the 9th Company. The sword was stolen during the First Battle of Camlann by Lord Morgan and has since had a Bloodthirster of Khorne bound to it and is now wielded by the Black Knight. One of the Chapter’s goals is to reclaim this artefact and purge the corruption from it’s form.
The Ardent Swords primarily wear gunmetal silver coloured power armour with the exception of the top of the helmet, shoulder pauldron trim and both poleyns (knee guards) being gold in colour. The Aquila or Imperialis on the chest guard is also gold in colour.
Unlike most Codex-oriented Chapters, the Ardent Swords prefer to make use of unique heraldic livery to designate company assignment, which is located on the right shoulder pauldron. A white colour squad specialty symbol (Tactical, Devastator, Assault or Veteran) displays an individual battle-brother's assigned battlefield role. A black coloured roman numeral stenciled on the center of the squad specialty symbol indicates squad assignment. A white coloured roman numeral stenciled on the right poleyn also indicates squad assignment.
The Ardent Swords identifies their Sergeants by adding two vertical red stripes on their helmets. Veterans are identified with a single, large red vertical stripe down the centre while Veteran Sergeants add two additional vertical white stripes outlining the central red stripe. Lieutenants bear a red crowned helmet with a gold colour faceplate and Commanders gain a large gold coloured vertical stripe with a smaller vertical white stripe down the centre of this.
The left shoulder pauldron inset is deep red and prominently displays the Chapter's livery. The Ardent Swords also allows their Astartes to display personal heraldry to their armour. An individual battle-brother is either gifted with a livery shield or they can add their personal heraldry to their left poleyn.
The Ardent Swords' Chapter badge takes the form of a golden coloured greatsword with the tip pointing downwards, crowned by a half-iron halo, centred upon a field of deep red.
M'rau the Ascended - The daemon prince M'rau the Ascended is known to the Ardent Swords as Morgan Medraut, the Kinslayer and the Betrayer. Formerly the Captain of the 1st Company, he rebelled against the Chapter and enabled a massive daemonic incursion on their homeworld resulting in the First Battle of Camlann. Since that dire event Morgan has spent the millennia serving his dark masters, plotting his ascension to daemonhood and has been the architect of many of the Chapter's woes. Time and time again have the Ardent Swords stopped his schemes but with the birth of the Cicatrix Maledictum Morgan saw his opportunity and finally attained daemonhood during his third invasion of Camlann in M42. The Ardent Swords we not able to deny him this victory but the culmination of the Siege of Camlann saw Lord Gwain Leoghann banish the now daemon back to the warp. Once again the Chapter stands ever vigilant and ready to hunt down their greatest foe.
The Company of Blood - a warband of Khornate Heretic Astartes Raptors. These foes first came to the attention of the Ardent Swords at the end of M41 when they engaged the Chapter at the command of Morgan the Betrayer. Their identity has become a closely guarded secret following their claims to be the survivors of the Chapter's 8th Company that was lost before M34. When reports of their appearance in the Imperium are received the Ardent Swords mobilise with great haste to them hunt down and bring swift retribution to the stain on their honour.
By the Ardent Swords
About the Ardent Swords