- "We are Knights of the Emperor. We are not children in a chorus dedicated to His majesty. We fight not for the men that cower behind His name, but for the ideal that He created us for. The defense of Mankind. We are the Penitent Knights, we are a bulwark against the foes of Man, and we are guardians of His people."
- — Lord Crusader Alarac, during the aftermath of a bloody battle with the Crow’s Children Warband. (941.M35)
The Penitent Knights are an ancient and fabled Codex-Divergent Chapter with an unknown origination officially from the 3rd Founding during the early years of the 32nd Millennium bearing an extremely chivalric culture and attitude, though there is some speculation that the Chapter has a much older history. The most obvious difference from most other Astartes Chapters is that the Penitent Knights fiercely and zealously believe in defending the citizens of the Imperium, which is backed with a learned ferocity and determination. This noble and unwavering stance has many times earned them the ire of other, more cold-hearted Imperial forces. Often have the honorable Penitent Knights contested with other Imperial forces that civilian life is indeed worthy of protecting, as they point out, was their purpose: to safeguard humanity. To die fighting the abhorrent enemies of Mankind so that defenseless humans may escape death is held in the highest respect among the Knights, second only to do the same and live. Standing defiantly against the forces of Chaos in Segmentum Obscurus for many long millennia has provided them with many opportunities to earn these respects. In possession of the Aegimius System, of the Asteria Sub-sector in the very south of the Gothic Sector, very close to the Great Rift created early in M42, the Knights defended their home from frequent Chaos threats, as well as the revelation of their homeworld being a Necron Tomb World. With all of the adversity thrown at them, the Penitent Knights have become nearly depleted, spared destruction thus far by alliances with other Astartes Chapters, and by their own renowned fury.
While the Penitent Knights have a valiant record of victories and heroism to the Imperium's interests, the Chapter itself has no recollection of why or from whom they were founded. In truth, the High Lords of Terra long ago decided to withhold this knowledge from the Knights, as a "form of punishment for their deviance from the Codex Astartes, and their outspoken principles regarding the value of human life--" or so is what the Chapter itself assumes, as the High Lords have denied any questioning to their heritage. The mystery of their unknown gene-sire has created an air of despair when battle-brothers reminisce on the fact. Outside speculation would have some believe the Penitent Knights are either sons of Rogal Dorn or Lion El'Jonson, though the the sheer purity of the Chapter's gene-seed eliminates either candidate.
Many of the tales regarding the founding and establishment of the Penitent Knights are formed from sheer conjecture and light theories birthed from the innate discomfort of being bereft of answers. There exist no records of the original five high officers of the Chapter-- the original "Council of Lords", having served in any of the great loyal Legions during the Horus Heresy. It is known by most of the Chapter that the five were of such veteran age that they must have had extensive prior service. The few scholars that have delved into records thoroughly have noted reports during the Heresy of a small Blackshield group that fought against the Traitor Legions during the Siege of Terra, primarily against the hedonistic Emperor's Children. These Blackshields, hailed as the "Knights Penitent" by high Imperial authority, were led by an adept swordmaster named Lithandros. They were so effective as a small strike-team that their expertise was welcomed in the Great Scouring after the Heresy. All other mentions of the so-called "Knights Penitent" have seemingly been erased from Imperial records. Despite this, and, strangely enough, according to the records of the 3rd Founding, the Penitent Knights were officially formed by marines under the same names as those that fought during the Scouring; Lithandros, Kveldor, Graynerius, Rosefal, and Ohlssos. Perhaps equally as curious, the Chapter's own records hold no Iconography predating the campaign on the Feudal World of Lor'dra, the planet that would eventually become the Penitent Knights' sacred homeworld.
The Liberation of Lor'dra (621.M32)
- "As we disembarked from our Thunderhawk, bolters and blades raised, even in our infancy, our fury saturated the ground with the blood of mindless beasts."
- —Knight-Captain Balder Karn of the Order of the Gryphon, commenting on the Liberation
Highlord Lithandros, the first Chapter Master of the Penitent Knights, was among the small number of Chapter Masters that eschewed the Codex Astartes. Thusly, he structured the Knights not into Companies, but Orders. These Orders fulfilled the same purpose of a Company, but instead focussed on specific facets of combat and war, to be deployed alongside at least one other Order to achieve maximum effectiveness. The Orders were to be commanded by a Knight-Captain, chief amongst the brothers of his Order for prowess and a tactical mind.
Shortly after the Knights had amassed a sizable force of Astartes, Highlord Lithandros led the Chapter on a patrol through Imperial space in the Segmentum Obscurus. Eventually, the Chapter encountered a planet that was lost during the Age of Strife, and from their scans, still held human life. Descending onto the world to save the native humans of the planet of Lor’dra from an eminent doom at the hands of indigenous wildlife. These beasts were highly specialized and deadly, challenging opponents even for the Astartes of the Penitent Knights.
Lithandros pondered the fate of the humans he had saved, deciding to instead of bringing them into the Imperium as a civilized world, would make the planet the home world of the Penitent Knights, and to spare the populace from the rigors of Imperial life. Soon after, the nigh-impenetrable Fortress-Monastery of Galadhor was constructed and a massive city of the feudal humans shortly after surrounding the new home of the Knights. As to acquire the best source of recruits for the Chapter, Lithandros ordered groups of the humans to venture across the harsh and often desolate lands of Lor’dra and endure hardships likely to produce strong and promising candidates to become Astartes.
The 7th Order, the Order of the Crow, was led by Knight-Captain Daedelus during the settlement of Lor’dra. Daedelus was always eager for war, infuriated by Lithandros’ sympathy for the pitiful and lowly humans that were to be the Chapter’s new serf. Over the years following the construction of Galadhor, Daedelus and the Order of the Crow began to act against Lithandros’ wishes, often abandoning their posts in the local Aegimius System to engage in warfare with their boltguns. The Scholars of the Chapter have guessed that Daedelus discovered the shadowed origination of the Chapter's gene-seed and this led to his downfall, but it is only a rumor.
Night of the Crow (627.M32)
- "Let no tale of that day be told without mentioning the sinister evil of the Betrayer."
- —Knight-Chaplain Gorladain Calvus of the Order of the Dawn
Long before their betrayal, the Order of the Crow was notorious for being a bellicose and unforgiving company of the Penitent Knights Space Marine Chapter. On several occasions, their excesses had to be reigned in by their Chapter' s Chaplains, and on more than one occasion they were reprimanded by Highlord Lithandros himself. Led by Knight Captain Daedelus, a bellicose and malevolent soul, this battle-brother should never have risen to a position of command within the Chapter, but his prowess as a warrior and reputation as a superlative tactician were often reasons enough to overlook some of his more...extreme excesses. But following one particular campaign (which was deleted from the Penitent Knights archives) Knight Captain Daedelus and his warriors were formally reprimanded by Lithandros for their dishonourable actions and the collateral damage left in the wake of the Order of the Crow's assault, which resulted in an extreme loss of life amongst the Imperial civilians.
Instead of choosing to gravely punish Daedelus and his restless subordinates for disobeying orders, in his wisdom, he forced the Order of the Crow to humble themselves by forcing them to perform mundane patrol duties to protect the populated planets near the Aegimius System, the Chapter's Fortress-System. Unfortunately, the machinations of the Ruinous Powers are insidious, and they would not easily give up their potential prize, and so, through fate (or direct influence, though none can say for sure) when this force entered the Warp upon Lithandros' Battle Barge, Brotherhood, they were set upon by a massive daemonic incursion in the ship. Mysteriously, the Gellar Fields on many of the Penitent Knights' vessels began to fail, and soon the Neverborn began to materialise aboard their ships and began massacring the ships' mortal crews.
During the height of the fighting, the Order of the Crows turned upon their brothers and assisted the daemons in killing those aboard the Brotherhood. This slaughter started in the lower decks, the daemons appearing and killing all the crewmen and stray Knights that stood in their path. Lord Scholar Graynerius, the Chief Librarian, alerted Lithandros to the invasion of Chaos, directing the Lightbound to lock down choke points along the Brotherhood to either contain or slow the daemonic tide while Graynerius worked to speed them out of the Warp. It was at that point that the Crows turned, opening fire and throwing grenades at the backs of the Paladins of the Lightbound. However, the Order of the Lightbound raged and held off their traitor brothers and daemons for hours before the Battle Barge exited the Warp, the entire Order of the Lightbound slain during the betrayal. The Paladin Captain Fortareis was cut down saving Lithandros from a fatal blow. Their mutiny only partly successful, what remained of the Order of the Crow fled into the Warp with their new daemonic allies, to rebuild and give themselves wholly to their Dark Gods, eventually becoming the Crow's Children Chaos Warband.
Over the next few centuries, the Crow's Children began to raid and pillage across the entirety of the Asteria Sub-sector, leaving only grief and rubble in their wake. The new Chaos Marines reveled in their bloodshed, taking what they pleased whenever they desired. Once, they were noble warriors of the Emperor, but by the corroding influence of Daedelus and the Ruinous Powers, they razed worlds in the name of the Dark Gods. So much did they enjoy wanton slaughter and decadence, that Daedelus offered the entire Sub-sector to the Gods, including their loyal brothers, the Penitent Knights.
Cursing his own ignorance and mourning the loss of the Paladins of the Lightbound, when Lithandros returned to the Aegimius System, he ordered that two new Orders would be formed to avenge the evil wrought upon the Chapter; the Order of the Lightbringers would honor the martyrs of the Lightbound, and the Order of the Dawn would replace the Crows and always hunt and search for their wicked betrayers, slaying them with immense abhorrence.
Battle of Sanus (863.M32)
Following years spent in the Warp with their new Daemonic masters, the Crow's Children reappeared in the Aegimius System, and immediately set to laying waste to the Civilised World of Sanus and its young Imperial settlements. Descending upon the helpless populace with their Corvian-styled jump-packs, the Children massacred all they could see, reducing cities to rubble in a matter of hours with their Warp-forged weaponry. The Penitent Knights, however, rushed to annihilate the traitors with all speed, but alas arrived days too late to save the civilians of Sanus due to the Children virtually destroying all communication from the planet. When the Knights arrived on planet, they were greeted with a sea of bones and broken buildings. But in Thadeliv, Sanus' capital, the Crow's Children erected grand effigies of the Chaos Gods from the metal and bone reaped from the innocents of Sanus. A fierce battled followed as the loyal and traitor marines engaged within the confines of Thadeliv, with great costs to both sides. Lithandros and Daedelus dueled in the throne room of the previous Planetary Governor, while the rest of the Knights fought in an almost berserk state against their traitor brothers, for both their betrayal and the devastation they had caused. Ultimately, Daedelus had eventually tired out the Highlord to the point where he was able to knock Lithandros to the ground and rip off the loyalist's left arm from his body with his power fist before himself being wounded by bolter fire from Knight-Captain Balder Karn, of the Order of the Gryphon. Subsequently, the Crow's Children retreated back into the Warp using a portal they had crafted.
After the idols of the Chaos Gods had been utterly destroyed by the Penitent Knights, Lithandros deemed that the barren world of Sanus would become the Cemetery World of Penance, an eternal reminder of the consequence of their failure to defend the innocent from the wicked jaws of the Children.
The Mourning Years (921.M32-923.M32)
- "Look upon those days, Squires, and know what almost was. How we all could have been damned, were it not for the hearts of heroes."
- —Knight-Scholar Avernus
While Lithandros had slain hundreds of enemy champions upon the battlefield, led a great many of successful assaults on raiding Chaos Space Marine and Ork forces throughout the Segmentum Obscurus, he ultimately was given a most dishonorable death, but not at the hand of a traitor or xeno. Lithandros had always despised the general disregard of human life displayed by the government of the Imperium after the Emperor of Mankind could no longer rule it. Many of the planets that the Penitent Knights found with human life upon them in their Feudal stages or below, were often spared the governance of the Adeptus Terra and either were made into recruiting worlds or were later discovered by other Imperial entities.
There was undoubtedly a single act that sealed Lithandros' fate, which was a speech the High Lord of the Chapter gave after routing an Ork WAAAGH! from the local Sub-sector. In this speech, Lithandros dared to proclaim that "The tyrants in their halls of gold and bone look upon our charges -Humanity,- and see only worthless numbers, faithful and loyal citizens of the Imperium are NOTHING to them! If the Emperor could still speak, He would be disgusted by what is done in His name!"
Not long after the Adeptus Terra was informed of the Chapter Master's angered and perhaps even traitorous words, it was decided to cleave off this problem but leave the Penitent Knights, as the Segmentum Obscurus would have been far less secure without them there. And so, noble Lithandros was killed from the shadows by a turbo-penetrator round to the head.
The entirety of the Penitent Knights Chapter grieved the loss of their great and fearless Highlord, with all of the Knights called back to the walls of Galadhor to mourn Lithandros. A grand funeral took place in the courtyard of the Fortress Monastery, the Knights assembled utterly silent for a full Terran week until a heated debate took hold of the Chapter. The Knight-Captains squabbled among themselves, along with the Council of Lords put in place by Lithandros himself: The Lord Chaplain, Kveldor, the Reclusiarch. The Lord Forgemaster, chief among the Chapter's Techmarines. The Lord Scholar, Graynerius, the head Librarian. The Lord Apothecary, Lord Executioner and Lord Admiral, Ohlssos. With all of the Penitent Knights' leadership furiously debated whether to avenge the wrong done to them by those that opposed Lithandros, the Chapter was paralyzed for two years until the stalemate was broken.
A Knight named Asterion rose from obscurity in the Order of the Winterbound and entered the Council of Lords' gathering chamber and is said to have closed the large stone doors behind him, proceeding to speak with the Lords for five days straight, shaming them for allowing the Chapter bicker and fall from their duty even for the brief time they did. When the doors of the chamber reopened, the Lords emerged and proclaimed that Asterion would become the Lord Crusader, and lead the Knights on their quest to defend humanity and find redemption in the eyes of the Emperor. Another ceremony took place soon after, in which Asterion commanded the Orders of the Chapter to end their solace in Galadhor and to reemerge with their hearts hardened with the same zeal that they carried under Lithandros.
Unfortunately, Asterion would not have reigned long as Lord Crusader among his brothers. As most of the Chapter had obeyed his directive and left to reestablish their presence among the Sub-sector, a giant Necron Tomb was opened only a few kilometers from the Fortress Monastery, spilling out the unliving xenos across the plains of Lor'dra to massacre the feudal humans. With only the Orders of the Gryphon and Winterbound, Asterion led a charge into the Necron Tomb, the following battle bloody and costly for the Knights. Weighing his own life and those of the ones he could save, Asterion ordered all of his forces to retreat from the Tomb complex, and detonated explosives at key structural weaknesses in the Tomb to collapse it. With their new Lord Crusader martyred to protect others, the remaining Penitent Knights refused to give in to their grief ever again.
Uprising of Noarilia (120.M33)
Noarilia was the center of the commonwealth System of the Asteria Sub-sector, prosperous and wealthy in its status. A perfect place to set a vile trap for the Penitent Knights, Daedelus knew. Under both the council of Peredrath and Savaathon, insurgents of the Crow's Children melded with the populace of Noarilia and waited for their time. Years past, until the Raptors of the Children descended upon the Governor's palace, violently tearing apart any PDF forces that stood in their way. Approximately an hour later, Daedelus himself broadcast a message across the entire planet.
"Denizens and wretches of the Imperium, hear these words. Your 'Governor,' is dead, his body being flayed by my brothers at this very moment. The weak Imperium cannot stand against us, blades of the Chaos Gods! Yes, you have all been lied to, nameless millions of slaves of the 'Emperor.' You know of what I speak- the nagging temptations you feel at every second, the suppressed desires you crave against the shackles of your law. NO MORE! Now, rise up, you who now know the truth of this universe! Chaos will have this galaxy, and all others! For now, that you have merely heard this simple truth, the Imperium sends its puppets to kill you all, because they fear the word of Chaos! Rise up, and deny your would-be murderers, or die like insects to their guns. The Gods accept all into their fold..."
Within hours, the agents of the Warband ensured that indeed a full Chaos rebellion took place among the cities of Noarilia, the people engaging in dark orgies of slaughter and degeneration at will. Daedelus looked down from the Governor's palace and smiled darkly as the Gods were given more sacrifices, and more to their flock. And sure enough, the Penitent Knights came again to meet their enemy upon the field of war.
However, when the Orders of the Winterbound and the Cleansing Flame arrived in Noarilia's orbit, they saw that it was not merely the Crow's Children that were their enemy, but the corrupted populace. Torn as they were never before since the death of Lithandros by the order of the High Lords of Terra, the Knights faced a situation where both civilian and traitor had to be put to the sword. For hours, they heatedly argued the next course of action, and the weight of sinning to strike down a civilian or to let this atrocity go unanswered. In grief, they deployed into Noarilia's surface.
When personally seeing the full degeneration of the twisted populace, the Knights of the Undaunted and Cleansing Flame knew that a quick death would be a far better end to them rather than to be further turned from the Emperor's light. The purgation was a slow but steady process, emptying ravaged forests of concrete after another, until both Companies stood before the Governor's palace, and at that point, hundreds of the Crow's Children leapt from the shadows and surprise attacked the Knights. Daedelus himself glided down from the tallest balcony of the palace, swinging both his power fist and daemon sword into many Knights. A fierce and bloody battle followed, but both Knight-Captains of the Orders managed to drive off the Betrayer, and thus, the Children cackled maniacally as they ascended to another portal maintained by Peredrath the Ruiner. To this day, Noarilia is still a source of great shame on the Chapter of the Penitent Knights.
- Battle of Brant (361.M33) - After two centuries of relative peace in the Penitent Knights' home System, a Khornate Traitor Marine fleet assaulted the Aegimius System. The Knights, under the command of Lord Crusader Constantor, hurried to meet the heretical fleet at the Death World of Brant, bringing their nearly all of their own fleet to bear upon the enemy. It was indeed a long and bloody battle, both above the Death World, and upon it. The Khornate forces had strangely been scouring the surface of Brant for something when the Penitent Knights unleashed their Order of the Iron Lance, their assault bike and land speeder squads employing a hit-and-run tactic to wear down the on-foot Khornate berserkers until the last traitor standing was crushed beneath the treads of their mechanical steeds. Meanwhile above Brant, the Penitent Knights' fleet broke and bloodied the heretical enemy fleet until what little remained of it retreated back into the Warp. Being such a quick and decisive victory so soon after the Mourning Years, this battle emboldened the Knights and helped solidify their morale to lead them to further glory.
- First Green Scourge (453.M33) - When a massive horde of Orks under the ambitious Warboss Griggasmasha arose from the Asteria Sub-sector, threatening to spill out to cause havoc in Segmentum Obscurus, the Penitent Knights did not hesitate to heed the call to action. Coordinating with other nearby Imperial forces, Lord Crusader Galehaut Abendor divided off the greenskin horde to be engaged individually targeted and destroyed. While Guardsmen regiments and other nearby Astartes Chapters dealt with the bulk of the xenos, Lord Crusader Galehaut led the Penitent Knights against a daring surprise attack on the Warboss on while he was trapped on the Mining World Hilsdrad. With over four of the Chapter's Orders deployed during the battle, Griggasmasha's host of greenskins was decimated and the Warboss was killed by Galehaut himself. And while the Knights could not completely eradicate the orkz, a Chapter Keep was built upon the ground Griggasmasha was slain, named "Greenward Redoubt" in honor of the battle that took place.
- Burning of Ruecarro (731.M33) - The Asteria Sub-sector is for the most part, a wild and dangerous part of the void. Long had a particular System been a den and harbor of pirates and renegades, despite many attempts to cleanse it. However, among the dark and ill-used worlds there was an Exodite Eldar world. And for reasons unknown to the Penitent Knights, the said world, named Ruecarro by Imperial cartographers, was invaded by a massive army of daemons. Having portions of their fleet nearby, the Knights mobilized and entered the System to deal with the potential threat. Though, nearly all records of what transpired in the System have been lost, other than that Ruecarro was successfully destroyed, and that some groups of pirates were allowed to stay in the System, but if they left it, they also would be destroyed. This extremely lenient decree is a source of shame to the Knights, but they are compelled to honor it, and gladly punish the blackguards that disregard it. As another outcome of the Burning, is that the Exodite Eldar survivors blame the Penitent Knights for the destruction of their homes, and have developed a deep hatred.
- Scouring of the Coven (863.M33) - There was a brief time in the thirty third Millennia when the Penitent Knights had deployed most of their Chapter to Crusades and wars away from their home System, and this time was exploited by a wicked and hedonistic Dark Eldar Kabal who raided and abducted many Lor'dranian natives from the planet while the Knights were away. This Kabal, known as Tainted Blood, were accompanied by strange fire-wreathed constructs that did their diabolical bidding like servants. When the Order of the Gryphon returned from a forgotten Crusade in the Gothic Sector, they arrived too late for many of their subjects and instead hatefully destroyed every Dark Eldar they could, before the xenos fled to the Webway with many humans as their slaves. To this day, the Knights see the grievous failure as a sin that must be removed with as much xeno blood as possible.
- Galastram’s Charge (432.M34) - Patrolling the Sector on the hunt for foes of the Imperium, Lord Crusader Galastram and his fleet encountered a grave and dire situation: a Chaos invasion. The planet of Ostaenus had forces of the Dark Gods spilling across its surface while another Astartes Chapter hanged in orbit. The Penitent Knights beamed messages to the other Chapter’s fleet, and none were returned, only the fire of their guns, destroying one of the frigates accompanying the Knights' battle barge "The God-Slayer." Shortly after returning wrathful fire onto their aggressors, they received a distress call from Imperial Guard remnants upon Ostaenus' surface. The Guard were about to be overrun and their compound full of citizens would be filled with blood by traitor Space Marines. At that moment, the Lord Crusader Galastram Traitorbane made a decision to send the entirety of the Order of the Winterbound to evacuate the desperate Imperial Guard and their charges while he, his Knight-Exemplar, and the Order of the Lightbringers would use the God-Slayer's teleportarium to enter the renegade Chapter's battle barge. And so, the Order of the Winterbound under the command of Knight-Captain Liowain deployed on the crumbling Guard compound and held their line while their own Thunderhawk transports evacuated civilian and Guardsmen alike. They faced both renegade Astartes and full Chaos Marines, but managed to close of entire corridors with the use of their Shieldbearers and returned bolter fire to their hated enemy. Galastram, his Knight-Exemplar and the Paladins of the Chapter appeared suddenly amidst the serf and Marine in the battle barge's Command Deck, immediately swinging blade and firing bolt to all around them. The host of the Chapter's elite managed to seal off the Deck from the rest of the ship while they did their work, turning the barge's guns upon its own traitorous fleet. It was at that moment that the Lord Scholar Helleburn informed the Lord Crusader of the construction of a Chaos temple upon Ostaenus' surface. Later receiving the report from Knight-Captain Liowain that the Winterbound had evacuated the Guard and innocents but had taken tragic losses, Galastram turned the battle barge on a course to crash into the arising Chaos temple, and his host was teleported back aboard the Knights' "God-Slayer." Although they had fulfilled their duty by saving the lives of many civilians, the Order of the Honored had paid a high price for their duty. Reduced to only a few squads, themselves highly battered and bloodied. Knight-Captain Liowain grieved for the loss of his brothers, and requested that those they had saved be taken as Chapter Serfs to avoid the Inquisition killing them and making his brothers' sacrifice mean something. Needless to say, Galastram agreed.
- Second Colonization (997.M35-009.M36) - While the rest of the Imperium was mired in the Nova Terra wars, the Penitent Knights were called upon to aid and escort numerous recolonization efforts to the Asteria Sub-sector. These efforts included other infant Astartes Chapters and also mere repopulation missions to suitable worlds. During these years, the Penitent Knights displayed their familiarity with their home Sub-sector, as well as their staunch bravery while fighting off native xenos races on worlds to be habituated.
- Age of Apostasy - During the bloody and ruthless reign of Goge Vandire, the Penitent Knights were among the Astartes Chapters branded as heretics for adamantly opposing the High Lord's bloodthirsty abuse of power. So soon after the recolonization of the Asteria Sub-sector, the Knights found themselves with the duty of protecting the young developing worlds across the Sub-sector from the Ecclesiarchal forces of Frateris Templar sent to punish them. Such worlds were the major Forge World of the Sub-sector, and the future home of the Astral Warriors Chapter, Asteria. Even the Knights' homeworld of Lor'dra was attacked by the Templar, though the Ecclesiarchal soldiers soon discovered that it may be a Feudal planet, there were many hidden Planetary Defense Cannons and laser installations hidden among the vast mountain ranges of Lor'dra, cutting the enemy vessels apart before any damage could be done to the Knights' serfs.
- Purgation of Chyria (473.M38) - When called to join a small Crusade to put down a rebellious Imperial System, the Penitent Knights were hesitant to join the slaughter, but the Council of Lords concluded that they had turned from the Emperor, and they had chosen their fate, mournfully. And thus, the Orders of the Cleansing Flame and the Dawn were dispatched to the troublesome System and were met by another Astartes Chapter, the Templarii Scientiae. Together, the rebels of the Chyria System were ravaged and laid low, but ultimately spared from a much harsher fate that would be delivered by another Chapter. Only those that had taken up arms against the Imperium were killed, and any that repented for the sins of their System were allowed to live. When the Knights and Templarii besieged Chyria's Forge World, the Astartes first met stiff resistance for several days by the traitorous Hereteks, until the impatient and agitated Templarii decided to show off the contents of their armoury. As warengines of ancient design rolled once more onto the field, they brought with them merciless oblivion. Those that dared to form a resistance, soon found themselves wiped from the face of the planet, any trace of heresy was promptly annihilated. At the end, any remaining, non corrupted, technologies, forge complexes and data were handed over to the Mechanicus as was the usual process and both chapters received rewards in form of a few exotic technologies.
- Rise of Lions (753.M38) - During a seeming golden age for Lor’dra, suffering no attacks by Necron or other forces, the Penitent Knights began again to patrol the Asteria Sector. They found a young Chapter of Astartes, the Astral Warriors, beset by a foul warband of Iron Warriors allied with the Dark Mechanicus. Never ones to abandon cousin Astartes in their time of need, the Knights under the command of Knight-Captain Gaherion Morn, leader of the Order of the Gryphon, mobilized and made a decisive and quick strike against the traitor warband, the Steel Ravagers. After a day of bloody combat, naval and planetside, the Ravagers were driven back into the Warp after grievous casualties despite their evil and devious weaponry provided by the Dark Mechanicus. Before taking his force onward, Gaherion, with the Lord Crusader’s authority, declared the Astral Warriors allies of the Penitent Knights for their impressive display of valor during the battle.
- Vya Empire Extermination (080-085.M40) - Becoming increasingly active in the continuously threatened Asteria Sub-sector, the Penitent Knights heeded the call for a Crusade against a growing Xenos empire on the borders of Asteria, the Vya. Originally a campaign to be undertaken solely by the Imperial Guard, until the Vya proved themselves to be servants of the Chaos Gods, with extreme possession and daemon-summoning present among the alien race's tactics. Thus, the Astral Warriors and the Storm Zealots Chapters met the Penitent Knights' Orders of the Cleansing Fire and the Dawn at the edge of the Xenos controlled space and massed their forces for a relentless expurgation of the entire Vya Empire. Taking leadership as the senior of the three Chapters, the Knights and their allies conducted the Extermination with cold and merciless hate for the Chaos-worshiping aliens and found respect for their much younger brothers-in-arms, and the easy cooperation that flowed between the Knights, Warriors and Zealots had all fifty worlds purged and liberated from the Vya's control, though with heavy losses from the aliens' sheer depth of Chaos influence. With the Vya race ultimately destroyed, the Penitent Knights had accrued an honor roll that warranted the rare privilege of siring a new Successor Chapter, which the High Lords of Terra heatedly debated. With the recommendation from both the Astral Warriors and Storm Zealots, valiant Chapters in their own right, won over the High Lords and the Sons of Galastram were formed during the 25th Founding later in the 40th Millennium.
- Sansor Crusade (444.M40) - Greenskins are arguably the most constant threat to the worlds of Asteria, with warbands of Orks raising on the back-water planets all of the time but can be and usually are quelled by the valiant Imperial Guard. But sometimes, such monsters among the xenos arise and cannot be dealt with by the Militarum, such was the situation with a great WAAAGH! unleashed from the forgotten Sansor System, home to five planets rife with green hordes. The Penitent Knights' Orders of the Dawn and Iron Lance arrived in system and were met with fellow Astartes; vessels from the Rebutors Chapter had also come of their own accord, being on their so-called "Crusade of the Ages." The two Chapters then communicated back and forth, agreeing to combine forces to bring about a swift end to a war of besieging Ork-infested planets. Indeed, the Rebutors and Knights seemed to fight beside one another with great efficiency and comradeship and Sansor was slowly but surely crushed by the might of the Emperor's finest. During the climatic battle on Sansor III, the entire combined force of Rebutors and Knights created a deathly ambush in the jungles for the WAAAGH!'s Warboss and his green tide, where hours and hours of bloody battle was done, and the Space Marines lifted the Warboss' severed head high and his underlings ran back to their holes, to be destroyed by orbital fire. Before the Penitent Knights bade farewell to the Rebutors, they gifted to the sons of Dorn a Power Maul, with an inscription bearing the word "Retribution" upon its haft.
- Second Green Scourge (653.M40-656.M40) - Once again the Aegimius System came under siege by a great green tide of Orks in the 40th Millennium, but unlike the previous instance of massive war against the greenskins the Penitent Knights had conducted, they now faced an incredibly dangerous Klan of extremely large Orks. Calling themselves simply "Biggunboyz," the xenos were of great individual stature, and the Klan's leader, a Mekboy named Thulgrom Gravesmasha, was known to be the size of dreadnoughts of the Penitent Knights. Needless to say, this fearsome attribute observed by Planetary Defense Forces defending against the raiding Klan was enough to send for the aid of the Knights. When they had thought they would simply perform a surgical strike to slay the Mekboy Thulgrom Gravesmasha, the Knights discovered that the vile greenskin would be possessed of a mind and managed to hide from the wrath of the Astartes, making instead slowly but surely thin the alien horde, until Thulgrom appeared on the battlefield beside his biggest boyz and wrought havoc on the Penitent Knights' line. Then the Lord Crusader's Knight-Exemplar in their ten blades strength surrounded the monster and fought with their lives, being reduced to four men before Thulgrom was brought low by a power sword through his throat. Their chief dead, the Biggunboyz scattered across the Sub-sector, where they were exterminated by Imperial Guard elements.
- Coming of the Scions (812.M40) - Following their exemplary and heroic actions during a campaign against a Chaos worshiping xenos race known as the Vya, the Penitent Knights Chapter was given the honor of siring a new Successor Chapter, that being the Sons of Galastram. The Knights were heavily involved with the beginnings of the new Chapter, devoting an entire Order, or Company, to ensure that the young Astartes would receive the best training they could, even so far as to grant the Feudal World of Ostrava for the scions to call their own. Soon after the Sons of Galastram were considered ready for action they left the Aegimius System to patrol around the Gothic Sector for Crusades to join, eager to prove themselves.
- "Thou shalt not yield, thou shalt not falter, and thou SHALT send them screaming back to whatever gods they think can save them!"
- —Lord Crusader Graythorne leading his forces against the Crow's Children in the feudal city of Lor'dra
- Red Dawn (999.M41 - 003.M42) - After many years of relative uneventful and relative peace on Lor’dra, a new threat emerged from the red plains. Untold millions of Necrons emerged from their tombs under the command of the Necron Lord Luxthoris, the Granted. This unliving scourge destroyed all in its path and massed for a siege on Galadhor. The Orders of the Lightbound and Cleansing Flame had taken the duty of recuperating from war and manning the sacred Monastery and fought with hate in their hearts, and a thousand fold more when their ancient nemesis, the Crow’s Children, appeared from the Warp and descended on Stormguard. Lord Crusader Graythorne Crowslayer, took forces from the Orders present, commanded by Paladin-Captain Vitalleus Fortareis and Knight-Captain Derrius Kveldor, and hurried to the defense of Lor’dra’s civilians while the remaining Knights held their Monastery. By the time Graythorne’s forces reached Stormguard, the heretical traitors had already begun to inflict horrors upon the people, with Daedelus at the center of the carnage. The Knights began the task of cleansing the colossal city of their foe while the Lord Crusader fought the Betrayer in single combat. This duel is said to have lasted hours before Graythorne emerged from the smoke with the severed head of the ancient Chaos Lord. His weapons and armor rent, he fought and slayed all remaining traitors before Paladin-Captain Vitalleus found him to inform him that the city was saved, but Galadhor was near to fall. The defending Knights, under the command of the Lord Chaplain Marsidias, had signaled their off-world brothers and allies, the Avengers of Arathor and the Astral Warriors, for aid. Even after the Lord Crusader’s force returned to the Monastery, it was nearly broken. The Knights bitterly fought and did not dare give the Necrons ground before the reinforcement arrived. However, the defenders of Galadhor were reinforced by the returning Order of the Iron Lance, which deployed it's entirety of Knight-Hussar biker squads, landspeeders, and tanks onto the surface. Over the span of days, the mobile force continued to harass and destroy key elements of the Necron forces to alleviate the pressure on the Knights manning the Fortress Monastery, before allied ships tore open the Warp and emerged above Lor'dra's orbit. With the combined forces of the Astartes Chapters, and the Avenger’s new Primaris marines as well as Primaris intended for the Knights themselves, Luxthoris was forced to retreat back to the Tombs below. The next few years were spent destroying and driving back the remaining necron forces scattered across the world. Battered and nearly devastated, the Penitent Knights struggled to rebuild both their ranks and the city of Stormguard. Weary of their losses, the Lords convened to discuss the future: Would they accept the new Primaris forces offered by Guilliman. Under the advice of Chapter Master Aponatus of the Avengers, the Knights opened their ranks to the Primaris marines. However, the Necron armies did not simply disappear. Taking their new "brothers" of the Primaris and light forces granted by their ally Chapters, the Penitent Knights spent the next few years completely exterminating what was left of the xeno host. This included skirmishes against the larger Necron armies, assaults on outposts established after their awakening, and the detonation of numerous Tomb complexes. They had lost most of their numbers, but in the end, the Penitent Knights had survived the bloody Red Dawn of the Forty Second Millennium.
- Defense of Vaeturn (006.M42) - With the Cicatrix Maledictum torn open and the galaxy split in twain, the Penitent Knights began efforts to reinforce the Aegimius System against the horrors pouring out of the enormous Warp Rift. With the entirety of the Chapter's fleet defending the Fortress-System, the minions of Chaos were held at bay for a few brief years until a host of Chaos Marines broke through a weakness in the Penitent Knights' void patrols and were poised to assault Aegimius' Forgeworld Vaeturn. And thus, the Primaris of the Orders of the Winterbound and Gryphon were given their first challenge in a hurried support of the Forgeworld. However, due to the seeming dour nature of the Primaris Knights, unit cohesion was much more difficult between the new and old guard. Moreover, the Primaris Knights argued that it was best they focus on protecting solely the crucial factorums and leave the hab-blocks undefended, to the deep chagrin of their older brothers. While most of the Primaris accepted their orders, Primaris-Sergeant Alissar abandoned his quarter of civilian housing to reinforce the factorums, leaving the mortal workers to be slaughtered in their homes by Chaos' minions. When after days of continued war, Vaeturn was successfully defended, Alissar was shown the thousands of innocents slain by his disregard for them. And so, in shame and guilt, Alissar became the first Primaris Justicar, to mete out death to the Chapter's enemies armed with only a power sword to atone for deeds committed.
- Rift Bridge Salvation (015-20.M42) - In a joint operation with the Space Marine Chapters of Sub-sector Asteria, the Penitent Knights and their allies began securing a path through the Maledictum with a great congregation of Astropaths and Librarians. With the forces of the Astartes Chapters, the Imperials spent years successfully defending the constructed void station that oversees the Rift Bridge. And so, the Asteria Sub-sector had a more reliable way of crossing the galaxy-splitting Warp Rift.
- Ambush at Storl IV (102.M42) On direct orders from Lord Crusader Graythorne, the Order of the Winterbound under Lord Executioner Calavain Hilderic, which was still bolstered by large portions of Primaris Knights, was commanded to investigate strange reports of the Enemy was seeking to lay claim to the faltering Storl System. The famed relentless Order arrived at the borders of the Planetary System posthaste, and immediately were beset by a surprise assault made by Chaos Marines of frustrating familiarity, a Crow's Children Warband under the command of a Champion of Khorne, Halakhar. Undoubtedly guided into the ambush by Peredrath the Ruiner, the ruthless traitors assailed Lord Calavain's Strike Cruiser, Asterion's Ram, and forced the craft to land upon Storl IV, an Uninhabited World. The marines of Calavain's entourage had little respite before the Crow's Children then came at them from the ground, Chainswords and bolt pistols sounding wrath, with Halakhar himself charging at the fore of his brethren. Calavain, while being a master swordsman, was gravely wounded by the Blood Champion's double-bladed Chain Axe, he was spared death by the intervention of two Primaris Knights- Justicar Alissar and Primaris-Sergeant Caralon. Alissar, still ashamed of his sins during the Defense of Vaeturn, fought off Halakhar before also falling to the blood-crazed Champion. Caralon, who had been chosen by the Lord Executioner to accompany him, defended his wounded Knight-Captain with Chainsword before carrying him and a few other brothers back onto Asterion's Ram and taking command of the vessel, even after the ship returned to the rest of the separated void force, uniting it under the banner of vengeance for Calavain, for Lor'dra, thus fully securing Storl after a week. The Primaris-Knight's heroics were recognized as essential to the Order's objective and proved himself a capable leader in the act. The Lord Executioner's injuries, however, were unfortunately so severe that he was committed to the fate of a Dreadnought, but before entering the sarcophagus, he declared that should the Lord Crusader found it acceptable, Caralon would be a fine replacement for him. Unexpectedly, the Penitent Knights' Chapter Master agreed with his friend, and Caralon was given the high of honor of ascending to the Council of Lords.
As the Penitent Knights are heavily inspired by the culture of medieval warriors, much of their terminology is derived from chivalric societies. The Knights also disregard the Codex Astartes in favor of their own tried and true methods and systems, barring the practice of Legion building. Instead of Companies, the Chapter is made of Orders, each specializing in a specific form or kind of battle, such as close quarters combat, vehicles, or the use of flamer and melta weapons.
Of the many honors achievable to the Penitent Knights, to be named among the Knight-Exemplars and directly serve the Lord Crusader as his honor guard, is the highest many hope for. Very carefully selected personally by the Lord Crusader, Exemplars are given specially made masterwork arms and armor, sometimes even Chapter relics, and protect their Chapter Master with their lives or to take command of failing squads should the need arise.
The esteemed leader of an Order of the Chapter, Knight-Captains embody the ideals of the Penitent Knights, noble of heart and wrathful in battle. Once a Knight of an Order to appointed to Knight Captain by the Council of Lords, he inherits the relics and trappings of his predecessor.
- Lord Admiral (Master of the Fleet)
Supreme commander of the naval forces of the Penitent Knights' fleet, the Lord Admiral is a battle-brother of venerable age with a gifted mind of strategy. When the entire Chapter and its Orders engage in battles in the void, they are coordinated by the Lord Admiral, to both keep as many of their brothers' lives and to take the enemy's.
- Lord Forgemaster (Master of the Forge)
Exemplary in all they craft and maintain, Lord Forgemasters are elected to the Council of Lords based upon the quality of what they create, and for their dedication to the Chapter and its goals. Often artificer grade power swords or pieces of power armor are fashioned by the Lord Forgemaster, centuries of practice of their craft and thousands of years of careful preservation of schematics and knowledge making the Lord Forgemaster a most worthy asset.
- Lord Scholar (Chief Librarian)
Arduously selected for extreme resilience to the beings of the Warp, and for great study done of the Chapter's full history, Lord Scholars are revered among the Knights of the Chapter. So great is the retention and knowledge of the Lord Scholar displays, that they are entrusted with the most sacred tome of the Penitent Knights: the Arcana Clerica.
- Lord Apothecary (Chief Apothecary)
Guardians of the sacred gene-seed of the Chapter, Lord Apothecary trains and recruits battle-brothers to the role of Apothecary, to mend their injured brothers and retrieve the gene-seed of the fallen. Responsible for the well being of all Knight-Brothers of the Chapter, the Lord Apothecary is a true master of healing, whilst also no stranger to killing with blade or bolter.
- Lord Chaplain (Reclusiarch)
Tasked with overseeing the purity of the Chapter's Orders, Lord Chaplains are required to be truly fervent in their faith of the Chapter's duty and the righteousness of their deeds. When the Lord Chaplain is not reinforcing the spirits of the battle-brothers, or gathering promising recruits for the Chapter from their feudal recruiting worlds, he can be found almost always by the side of the Lord Crusader.
- Lord Crusader
Revered by the Knights and infamous among the ranks of the enemy, the Lord Crusader is the Chapter Master of the Penitent Knights. A master strategist and legendary warrior, Lord Crusaders have been known to change the course of entire wars and the very future of the Chapter, harkening to the legacy of Asterion. A uniqueness to the rank is that it has other names given by the Lor'dranian peoples, including "King of Aelm," referring to the last feudal civilization that managed to survive the horrors of Lor'dra long enough for the Penitent Knights to arrive on the planet, and save the endangered humans.
- Forgemaster (Techmarine)
Charged with the upkeep and the manufacture of arms and armor for the Penitent Knights, Forgemasters are equally at home inside their armories in Chapter keeps as they are on the front lines of battle to both maintain and protect their Knight brothers as well as the Chapter's machines of war.
- Scholar, Polymath, Savant (Epistolary, Codicier, Lexicanium)
As their name suggests, Scholars are tasked with both the preservation of the Chapter's accumulated knowledge, and to use their psychic powers to bring doom to enemies that threaten their brothers and humanity. Nearly all Scholars are armed with force staves as well as sacred tomes of the Chapter, in which they have memorized every detail to heart. Scholars also record and detail events the Chapter takes part in, and actively seek knowledge about the origins of the Penitent Knights.
Whereas most of the ranks of the Penitent Knights are made solely for heavy combat, and rightly so, Consuls have another role. Mainly seen on expeditionary missions or far away Crusades, Consuls are appointed to play the part of diplomat to other Imperial forces, and always accompanied by a squad of Crusaders and Knights.
- Squire (Scout)
Recently inducted battle-brothers of the Chapter take the role of Squire, with their own Order of the Aspirant. This Order serves to teach, mold, and harden the fighting skills of the Squires while also making the young battle-brothers familiar with the lore, machinations, weaponry, and fortifications of the Chapter. The Order of the Aspirant stations between twenty to thirty Squires at one of the Chapter's keeps on dangerous planets, such as Greenward Redoubt on the planet Hilsdrad. These Squires will be overseen by either the Chaplain of the keep, or a veteran Knight who had volunteered to impart his knowledge to his new brothers. When time comes for the Squire to be knighted, he and the rest of his similarly ready brothers are taken to the Fortress Monastery of Galadhor, where either the Knight-Captain or a selected representative will choose them based upon a proclamation of his oath of duty to Chapter, Order, and Emperor.
- Knight (Tactical)
As one might expect, Knights are the standard unit of the Chapter, equivalent to that of a Tactical Marine. These warriors make up the backbone of the Chapter's fighting force, with the expertise of the individual Knight being shaped by the Order to which he was knighted into.
- Knight-Banneret (Devastator)
The experts of heavy weaponry, Bannerets are the equivalent of Codex Devastators. However, Knight-Bannerets are not the youngest of the Chapter's marines, recently Scout Marines. Instead, Bannerets act as Sergeants in the Orders of the Gryphon, Cleansing Flame, and the Dawn, their disciplined minds and skill with large firepower are used as both beacons and examples for their less experienced brethren. They are also utilized by the Order of the Winterbound, but mostly as heavy support units.
- Knight-Crusader (Assault)
Perhaps the most common aspiration of a young and upcoming Squire is to one day catch the eye of the Knight-Captain of the Order of the Winterbound to become a Crusader. These particular Knights brandish melee weapon as extensions of their own bodies, also with the deft swordplay needed to truly make the deadly weapons fearsome. Crusaders, unlike other close-quarters focused formations of Adeptus Astartes, Knight-Crusaders do not rely solely on the pure hatred of their foes or their proficiency at arms to carry them through a battle. Indeed, quick thinking, controlling the battlefield, and martial prowess are required of the Crusaders, lest they shame the Chapter with a disgraceful death.
- Knight-Hussar (Bikers)
Utilizing the lightning-fast speed of assault bikes and land speeders, Hussars wield Power Sabers or even Power Spears, themselves seldom used by any Astartes Chapter, to batter the enemy force so that their mount-less Knight brethren find them easier to eradicate. Often are the more reckless and adventurous spirits of the Penitent Knights find themselves seated on the saddle of an assault bike with spear in hand.
A unique role employed by a few squads of the Orders of the Gryphon and the Dawn. These marines arm themselves with a boltgun and a Breacher Shield, sacrificing their accuracy for the ability to form a wall and give protection to those behind them. These proud and stalwart Knights are utilized in any scenario demanding as much protection or battlefield control as possible, and due to their specialize nature, they are selected by their respective Knight-Captains.
When a Penitent Knight has committed a grave wrongdoing but is judged to not be executed, he is placed in a solitary vigil for an extended period of time, and has the chance of emerging from his sentence as a Justicar, eschewing the use of any weapon but a two-handed power sword or chainsword, which he uses to find redemption in the eyes of the Emperor, often in his death.
- Paladin (Terminator)
To common Knights, to fight alongside a Paladin is the equivalent of their Knight-Captain himself shedding blood with them. Paladins are the esteemed Terminators of the Penitent Knights, their mere presence inspiring to other battle-brothers. Recruitment to their Order of the Lightbound, occurs within the veteran squads of the other Orders, new Paladins themselves assembled into squads from different Orders to create versatility.
Order of Battle
The Chapter's order of battle as of late M41 is as follows:
|Veteran Order||Battle Orders|
|1st Order||2nd Order||3rd Order||4th Order|
|5th Order||6th Order||7th Order|
- "We may bloody and slay the foes of the Imperium across the stars, but remember where thou wert born- for it is half of the reason thou wert deemed worthy to join the Emperor's finest."
- —Knight-Chaplain Dagovale
Located within the Segmentim Obscurus, Asteria Sub-sector, the Penitent Knight homeworld of Lor'dra is a large planet with its native human population still in its Feudal stages, the population made divided into five major kingdoms with their own cultures and beliefs. The majority of the populace of Lor'dra has grown distant from their Astartes Lords since the Red Dawn, having formed many different religions that all find their origins in the Aegimian Cult, the faith of the Penitent Knights Chapter. Lor'dra is at most times a harsh planet, with only the continent upon which Galadhor was built, Kainan, being the lone area of acceptable fertility to grow edible flora. The other continents of the planet are mostly barren and desert-like, of extreme cold.
- "These obsidian walls have stood since the Thirty Second Millennium, brother. These walls have stood against nigh-civil war, vile slaves of the Ruinous Powers, uncounted hordes of Necrons. These walls are the Chapter, for we are the wall protecting our mortal charges. Galadhor is both our home, and our promise."
- —Knight-Captain Bendryn Ohlssos, commenting on Galadhor
The Fortress Monastery of Galadhor itself is located among the Eversilver Mountains, its fortified and nigh-impregnable walls of the palace spanning between the peaks of numerous mountains. The path to walk up to the grand fortress-palace is perilous, the journey upward haven being undertaken only a handful of times by the feudal citizens of the Knights, to glimpse their ancient saviors, or to give them offerings. Inside the Monastery, there are several Halls dedicated to each of the Chapter's Orders, as well as a sprawling tower known as Scholar's Epitaph to serve as the Librarius, and of course the obsidian-wrought Keep of Knight's Vigil, the Reclusiam, and where the Council of Lords convenes.
At the base of the Mountains was the single settled city of Lor'dra, Stormguard, as the natives called it. Constructed of stone and built into the side of the rising mountains and out onto the grassy plains, where most of the city's food was gathered. But now, after the Red Dawn, there are many different kingdoms sprawled across the surface of Kainan, the only continent habitable to humans.
- "By the grace of Emperor’s Light, the Shield of Aelm, and the Sword of Avalon, I offer mine own self willingly in service of the Imperium, and its people. Mine own blade will stay the foe of our charges by the march of mine own boots, in worlds near and far. The declaration of thy faith rings true, and by the royal decree of the Emperor of Mankind and my appointed lieges, I will serve."
- —Mantra of the Aspirant
As per the ancient proclamation of Highlord Lithandros after the Liberation of Lor'dra, various warrior groups spread across the surface of the world, often pitting themselves against the remnants of the bestial horrors that once almost killed off the humans of Lor'dra. These warrior groups would retain their feudal culture and interact with each other as to not bear incestual children. Each seventeen years, a Knight, Chaplain, and Apothecary visited each warrior clan and glean the promising youths to become Squires of the Penitent Knights.
However, in recent times and with the establishment of numerous feudal kingdoms across Lor'dra habitable surface, the Knights have taken to sending envoys across the kingdoms, or even are sent potential recruits through the preachers of the Aegimian Cult, which the Penitent Knights helped establish upon the planet.
The holy gene-seed of the Penitent Knights is said to be an enigma. While it has been noted for bearing "perfection" in its lack of any mutation or flaw, it is unknown from whence or whom it came. This unknown has long caused discomfort and even grief to the brothers of the Chapter, but it is borne as one of the many burdens the brothers must bear to atone for past sins.
Primarch's Curse: Eternal Penance
- Level 1 (Spectral Shame)- No living Penitent Knight can truly say from whence the weight of the Chapter's shame comes from, but what they feel is that in their unworthy state they must atone for the old sin in blood, theirs or the enemy's.
- Level 2 (Legacy of Sin)- The Battle-Brother in question begins to lose hope for the Chapter's future, warranted or otherwise, and will hold despair in his heart. They will beseech and pray for the Emperor's forgiveness and favor constantly.
- Level 3 (Atonement in Death)- The final stage of the curse is where the Knight eschews every single glory and honor offered to him, but demands that he becomes one of the Chapter's Justicars, sworn to die on the battlefield against the champions of the enemy and dedicate their death to the God-Emperor.
- "Trust thy brothers to grind them to dust, as they trust thee to guard their flank!"
- —Knight Sergeant Carlican
The Knights follow a doctrine adhering to a extremely versatile philosophy of battle with the Orders of the Chapter alternating between varied specialties of combat, always deploying alongside at least one other in battle. In battle, the Orders will effortlessly form joint squads with each other, overseen by Knight-Captains who oversee the control of the battle. While they fight in ranged engagements with stern determination, the Penitent Knights greatly enjoy close quarters combat, brandishing power weapons with learned righteous ferocity. When the enemy force has been withered or shows signs of weakening, the elite Order veteran squads enter the fray and utilize their superior weaponry and experience to demolish the enemy.
The culture of the Penitent Knights follows many doctrines of a knightly order, valuing honor and valiant service in the highest regard. Last names for Battle-Brothers of the Chapter are reserved for the more distinguished Knights, usually for those that achieve the rank of Knight-Sergeant, or those who display grand acts of valor and courage. The act of receiving a surname is a sacred ceremony for the Knights, a Chaplain will have the honored Knight kneel before him and touch each of the brother's shoulders with crozius twice and bid him rise, and bestow the second name upon him. Sometimes said name is reminiscent of the Knight's heroic deed, or the name of a hero of old Lor'dra.
The Knights of the Chapter share a special bond with their Serfs. All Knights are taught to not look down on their human servants, and to treat them with courtesy and generosity. Occasionally, Chaplains and Forgemasters will mingle with the Serfs, telling them tales of noble Knights of old and present and guidance for their duties. On the rare times when Galadhor comes under siege, the Serfs gladly take up arms to fight alongside their masters. The Serfs hold rank, much like the Knights themselves. These ranks are “Labourer, Hand, Servant, and Page.” Pages, being the most regarded of the Serfs, have the opportunity to become a Squire, if they can survive another Squire in a contest of Melee for three minutes without being knocked unconscious.
Even the way of speaking for the Chapter regressed to medieval forms, sometimes causing slight confusion for any allied forces fighting alongside the Knights.
The Penitent Knights have a three tone color scheme with a black helmet, shoulder-pads, hands, and feet. The chest, legs, arms and backpack are grey, with yellow knee-pads, shoulder trim, and backpack exhausts. The ranks of Veteran and Sergeant are distinguished by a red face-plate for Veterans, and a full red helm for Sergeants, while Lords and Knight-Captains don silver helmets.
The Chapter's Symbol is a white lion against a black shield, a red line running diagonally upwards in the left direction. The Scholars of the Chapter have concluded that the origins of the emblem was a an embroidered banner gifted to Highlord Lithandros by the feudal humans of Lor'dra after the Liberation.
The mythology of the lion, known to the Lor'dranians as "the Lion of Aelm" is one of a stalwart guardian and warrior, and the red stripe through the lion is to symbolize that each Knight's oath to defend the domain of the Emperor is bound by the blood in his veins.
The Penitent Knights long debated the idea of the Emperor of Mankind being a deity, and often ask themselves- is better to serve the god of humanity, or a man that could challenge gods? Thus, for a long time the Knights had maintained a neutral stance on the Imperial Cult, until the days of the Fortieth Millennium. A new sect had arisen in a neighboring Planetary System, one affected by the long-ingrained humanitarianism of the then venerable Chapter. Soon this version of the Imperial Cult eventually was introduced to the Penitent Knights after fending off an Ork warband, and priests of the new sect praising the Knights and their actions. When conversing with the present Knight-Captain, the priests requested that they spread their faith in the sanctity of all human life to the Chapter's home system, and they were granted. Surrounded by their subjects proclaiming that the Penitent Knights were quite literally doing the Emperor's appointed task for them, the Chapter grew warmer to the idea of their Emperor as a god, and became quite commonplace among the Knight-Brothers.
As the origination of the Penitent Knights' gene-seed is a mystery as ancient as the Chapter itself, they revere all of the loyal Primarchs respectively for the traits they personified. Lion El'Jonson as a commander and knight, Jaghatai Khan for his tenacity and desire to unite humanity, Leman Russ for martial skill, Rogal Dorn for honor and stoic zeal, Sanguinius for nobility and sacrifice, Ferrus Manus for championing the strength of humanity, Roboute Guilliman for tactics and statecraft, Vulkan for his stalwart and honorable nature, and Corvus Corax for cunning and precision.
The Arcana Clerica
Arguably the most treasured artifact in the possession of the Penitent Knights alongside the sword Avalon, the Arcana Clerica is an ancient tome of the Chapter that bears the entirety of the Knights' history, tales of far past exploits, records of wars long forgotten perhaps from the Horus Heresy itself, the dictates of Highlord Lithandros, and many other such topics. As one might surmise, the Arcana Clerica contains thousands and thousands of pages, the size of the tome itself growing over the many Millennia since its creation, with each new addition penned by the Lord Scholar of the Chapter in the book's Index Penitent, the section which details campaigns and wars, their outcomes and secrets learned from said exploits.
But the Arcana Clerica does not merely hold the records of the Chapter. Indeed, it is akin to the Codex Astartes in that the tome contains battle stratagem in the Tacticum Penitent penned by Highlord Lithandros himself. One important excerpt from the passages that the Knights proudly adhere to is: "In accordance with the specialties and proficiency of each Order of the Penitent Knights, never shalt one Order fight alone in wars near and far. Trust in thy battle-brothers, those that may hold sword whilst thou may incinerate the enemies of the Imperium with flamer, or vice versa. Always will we Knights fight in unity, with brothers familiar and distant."
Another section of the Clerica that continues to grow is that of the Record of the Honored which, as the name implies, displays the names and deeds of heroes of the Chapter, and even later on, those of the Sons of Galastram. For the Lord Scholar to record these battle-brothers, he has deemed that they cannot be allowed to fade into the obscurity of myth or forgotten. Instead, they shall live on through the sacred pages of the tome.
However, there is one particular theory penned by an anonymous Lord Scholar, featured in the book that states that even in his time, the Penitent Knights did not know the origins of their Chapter, but that rumor amongst the Lords was that, quoting:
"Considereth for a few passing moments, that we noble of mind and deed, mayhap be of an origination not entirely so. Forsooth, we of the Emperor's finest, of no father and no Legion, art an enigma amongst our brethren. Our sympathies for the timid and those whom cannot defend themselves sundreth us from many of our kin, whilst we do not share the mutations plaguing the noble Salamanders of Vulkan.
Alas, in mine own visions gifted by the aether, I see Astartes clad in purple; an eagle's screech of betrayal and rage. I see lamenting of fooled warriors, of depravity engulfing a legion of nobility. And lastly, I see a fiery phoenix rising from darkness."
- Paragon Blade "Avalon"
A weapon so treasured and valued as to almost be a symbol of the Chapter itself, this incredibly rare artifact has been wielded by many Lord Crusaders, having claimed thousands upon thousands of xenos, traitors, and daemons. Currently, this exalted sword that has stricken down foes as if they were driftwood, is in the care of the Lord Crusader Graythorne. A weapon so ancient as to have been Highlord Lithandros' personal weapon, but Avalon is a dangerous thing to wield, and is very capable of killing a weak-willed user. Indeed, one of the final trials to become Lord Crusader of the Penitent Knights is to take up the ancient weapon and display their mettle by surviving with the sword.
- Relic Blade "Edictus"
A highly peculiar sword resembling that of a blade forged by the Black Templars; its source remains unknown. It is a blade of holy flame, sported with inscriptions and an ornate hilt. It is said to match the power of Avalon, yet this is simply a rumor. The blade has the power to create a wake of flame in the air to be manipulated by the swordplay of the wielder. Currently, this famed blade is and has always been in the hands of the revered Derrius Kveldor, Knight-Captain of the Knights' 3rd Order.
- Combi-melta Boltgun "Fury"
A venerated combi-Boltgun of mastercraft make, forged by the Lord Forgemaster, Glungorias. Truly, a weapon that could rival those of the Mechanicus. Currently wielded as a secondary weapon alongside Avalon by the Lord Crusader.
- Modified Thunder Hammer "The Grey Fist"
One of the most vaunted weapons of the Penitent Knights, this mighty Thunder Hammer in the shape of a great fist smashes its targets asunder, like the fury of the Emperor. The current wielder of this hammer is the esteemed Lawbringer Captain, Vitalleus.
- Phobos Pattern Bolter "Protector"
The Penitent Knights, especially those of ranged expertise, venerate this holy boltgun that can be traced back to the Avengers of Arathor Chapter, who gave this as a sign of respect. The Knight who bear this weapon is Knight-Captain Bendryn Ohlssos.
- 20 Suits of Mark IV Maximus Power Armor
- 5 Suits of Mark III Iron Power Armor
Deep in the inner sanctums of Galadhor, in chambers known only to the Chaplaincy, Scholarship, and the Council of Lords, the Penitent Knights contain tragically tainted relics and items that their number have once used or come to contact with, to be locked away until a solution for their corruption can be undone.
- Hollow Lament - Back to the dark shameful days of M33, when the Dark Eldar Kabal of Tainted Blood abducted and plundered from many worlds under the Penitent Knights' jurisdiction, the xenos also stole a once vaunted sword from a Chapter vault. And for six millennia the crime went unpunished until the Kabal reappeared in Imperial space and were attacked by the Order of the Dawn's fleet, then boarded. After killing the heartless aliens, the Knights found a few relics that once belonged to them, one being Hollow Lament. The once holy power sword had been twisted and tainted by the exposure to the agony and suffering inflicted upon the Dark Eldar's victims and to this day remains an uneasy and disconcerting presence to all near it.
- Brotherhood (Battle Barge)
- The God-Slayer (Battle Barge)
- Spear of Lithandros (Battle Barge)
- Pride of Alarac (Strike Cruiser)
- Asterion’s Ram (Strike Cruiser)
- Myrmidon (Strike Cruiser)
- Last Hope (Strike Cruiser)
- Charlemagne (Strike Cruiser)
- 15 Unnamed Frigates
Notable Penitent Knights
- Lord Crusader Graythorne Crowslayer
- Lord Scholar Arath Graynerius
- Paladin Captain Vitalleus Fortareis
- Knight-Captain Derrius Kveldor
- Knight-Captain Bendryn Ohlssos
- Lord Chaplain Marsidias Ashbringer
- Lord Forgemaster Glungorias Grauth
- Justicar Kynthelor Viros
- Venerated Dreadnought Claudius the Enduring
- Highlord Lithandros
- Lord Chaplain Kveldor, the first Lord Chaplain
- Paladin-Captain Fortareis, hero of the Night
- Lord Scholar Graynerius, the first Lord Scholar
- Lord Admiral Ohlssos, the first Lord Admiral
- Knight-Chaplain Gorladain Calvus
- Knight-Captain Balder Karn
- Justicar Vortihad Thentre
- Forgemaster Galarch
- Lord Crusader Asterion the Hero
- Consul Kainell
- Lord Crusader Galastram Traitorbane
- Greenward Redoubt - Mining World Hilsdrad, Aegimius System
- Caer Foross - Death World Brant, Aegimius System
- Galadhor, Fortress Monastery - Lor'dra, Aegimius System
For their chivalric belief in the protection of the small people of the Imperium, the Penitent Knights have developed less than favorable relations with both the High Lords and the Inquisition, as well as any Astartes Chapters that treat common humans with clear disdain. Though, they have been known to fight alongside commonly mistrusted Chapters due to mutations in their gene-seed, leading some to question the purity of the Knights. However, Chapters that share their kind view of normal humans will find fast friends in the Knights.
By the Penitent Knights
- "My armor is my shield, my flamer is my hate, my duty is my soul!"
- —Mantra of the Cleansing Flame
- "Sure and furious as the northwind, shudder before your death!"
- —Mantra of the Winterbound
- "Bow thy heads, Knights of the Emperor. For unbridled hell and vileness awaits us all. But despair not, for if we sons of Lor'dra are destined to die fighting this eldritch chasm in the galaxy, then we will die with blade and bolter in hand, and surrounded by the corpses of our foes. Valor burns away corruption!"
- —Lord Chaplain Marsidias Ashbringer, on the Cicatrix Maledictum
- "Look to me, guardsmen! Gaze upon a Knight of the Emperor, and know that His eyes are upon us! Make me proud to fight alongside you!"
- —Knight-Exemplar Bruloas Moriam
- "Hast thee pondered whom our father could be, brother? The Ultramarines now have their Primarch returned to them, whilst we do not even know whom ours is. And even if we knew the truth, would he even care for us, and what we have done? Perhaps not, but surely the Emperor would..."
- —Knight-Brother Gorleon
- "They cleanse the wicked. They cull the evil. Under my command, these specially trained Knights show no mercy unto the enemies of the Imperium. In the name of the Emperor, soothly, they shalt unleash their purifying flames against the fiends of the galaxy. The flames of Lor'dra speak, brothers. They speak through US."
- —Knight-Captain Derrius Kveldor, on the Order of the Cleansing Flame
- "The Crows are now dead, their traitorous and abominable souls sent screaming to their "Gods." While we, true servants of our Emperor, stand still, bloodied and battered. Honor and redemption are ours, brothers."
- —Lord Crusader Graythorne Crowslayer
About the Penitent Knights
- "To thee, O' divine warriors from the heavens, we are indebted for eternity. To thee, O' wrathful saviors from great metal birds, we shall forever exalt. To thee, O' knights from the stars, we shall pledge service to thee for the rest of our days. Take thy right, and we of Aelm shall be yours."
- —Feudal human to the host of Penitent Knights during the aftermath of the Liberation of Lor'dra (062.M32)
- "Trust me, we've explored all avenues open to us to find corruption within the ranks of that Chapter. From the Third Founding, yet deviant from the Codex Astartes, and their misplaced loyalty to commoners? You would think they would slip up, and we would find the skeleton in their closet, per se. Yet, we could nought but discover that a single man lacks an official Imperial record. That's nothing to go on. The only thing relating to the matter of corruption was millennia ago, and as some would say, redeemed. But, I will keep my eye on them. Those 'Penitent Knights,' have earned my attention."
- —Unknown Inquisitor
- "Thank the God-Emperor Himself that when vile Orks sought to to pillage and loot our Hive that His angels, the Penitent Knights, were nearby! I remember a few of them holding down a Hab-block while evacuating people to the inner parts of the Hive. They gladly took greenskin fire to save even a handful of us mortals. Bless the Knights, and bless the Emperor for not sending one of their cousins like... I believe the Malevolent Marines? Something along those lines."
- —PDF Commander Steveus Sova
-Feel free to add your own-
While the Penitent Knights are less than favored by the Inquisition, the Chapter's presence in their dangerous place in Segmentum Obscurus has amassed a long experience fighting the forces of Chaos and several xenos races. There have been Knights that have been called to the service of the Deathwatch, although their Chapter's morality can sometimes clash with other members of their Kill-Teams. However, there even have been some Lord Crusaders that have answered the call of the Inquisition, even Graythorne himself.
If you find a glaring issue with canon lore in anything I've written, or an idea to expand on the ol' Knights, feel free to drop me a message about it or leave a message on this article's talk page. Please, do the same if you feel interested in having the Penitent Knights interact with your own Chapter, for better or worse.