Title: The Dread Knight House of Lorthryk
Household Rank: Primaris
Patent: Autonomous, Warrant of Ancient Domain and Arms (recognised 844.M31, ratified 846.M31)
Warden Domain: Formerly Zalith, later the Ashen Kingdom with the House's principle base relocated to Thumeria
Cognomen: The Blood Knights, the Barbed Swords
Allegiance: Traitoris Perditas
The Knights of House Lorthryk had been a proud and revered force for much of the Great Crusade, until some of its most brutal fighting dragged them into the orbit of the murderous VIIth Legion. They came to Raktra half-broken, and by his command they were reforged into something stronger than they had been before, but also far more sinister and brutal.
House Lorthryk arose on the world of Zalith in the Galactic north, establishing a firm alliance with the Forge World Vullad. For centuries they grew strong and lent their blades to the defence of the magos, until an Imperial Expeditionary Fleet made contact. New oaths were sworn, and Lorthryk marched as part of the Emperor’s armies, serving with the 3rd Chapter of the Morning Stars. While the IVth Legion changed greatly over the course of Lordryk’s service, the 3rd Chapter remained constant in dedication to their ideals even as they became Void Eagles.
As with so many of the Emperor’s armies, when the Rangdan Xenocides broke out anew the Knights of Lorthryk marched into the fires without hesitation. But such was the violence of the Rangdan that entire Expeditionary Fleets were annihilated, and many more forces were devastated. While broken Army regiments and Space Marine Chapters could be amalgamated, Knight Houses were more rigid in structure and their ranks less easily replenished. As a consequence many Houses were ground down to mere shadows of their former might or even further, leaving only Freeblades, haunted by the loss of their kin.
House Lorthryk suffered as much as any House could without falling into extinction. In the first year of the conflict, both Vullad and Zalith came under attack. Having agonised over their choice, Lorthryk abandoned their world to defend Vullad, but the sacrifice proved in vain. Vullad burned, it's forges and Danes broken beyond repair, the Void Eagles contingent all but wiped out in its defence along with the vast majority of its population. A handful of Knights, led by Baron Clegan Dalint, survived the battle to join the rest of their House, scattered elsewhere. However, there was no avoiding the fact that their future had now become deeply uncertain.
Three years into the Xenocides, the scions of Lorthryk deployed all their existing strength in defence of the Forge World Vamast. Placed alongside a war maniple of the Legio Destructor and half the strength of Vamast’s own Legio Nychus, they were assigned to hold the Forge World’s bastions in the neighbouring Quelan system. The Rangdan struck the borders of Vamast’s realm with such force that fighting raged on seven worlds simultaneously. Even as the defenders of Quelan engaged, astropathic messages told of other fortress-worlds stripped bare, and attacks on Vamast itself had to be repulsed. Dalint and his warriors gave battle in the knowledge that help would be slow in coming.
By the time a combined VIIth and XXth Legion fleet had made its way to Quelan, there was little left alive. The invaders were destroyed within a day, but the sprawl of corpses, flesh and metal, stretched to almost every horizon on Quelan. The fighting had gone on for weeks before relief came. Billions of Army soldiers, Skitarii and tech-thralls had perished, and among them lay the corpses of Titans. Only seven Legio Nychus machines had survived, the Beasts of Steel contingent and remaining Void Eagles having all been slain by the Rangdan and their war machines.
To their surprise, the Berserkers of Uran found that two dozen Knights of Lordryk still stood, fighting alongside a handful of freeblades. Yet while their machines were largely intact, something inside the pilots was irrevocably altered. Few ever got close enough to make an assessment, outside of the Berserkers’ own Mechanicum allies, but it has been suggested that the destruction of so many god-machines, on top of the loss of their fief, traumatised the machine-spirits of the Knight walkers and the souls of the House’s scions.
Regardless, the old idealism of Lordryk had been burned away with their old heraldry. What remained was bitter steel and a disgust for the weak, and the Berserkers knew they had found warriors who shared something of their worldview. Even as the war ground on, they began to rebuild the House. Retainers were transported to the Forge World Gulaka, allied to the Berserkers, there to oversee the creation of new sacred armours.
Other walkers were salvaged from the field of battle and offered up by the magos of Vamast, either in gratitude or out of fear of the Berserkers, and put at Lorthryk’s disposal. Thus equipped, and now fighting alongside the Berserkers and the Legio Yharma, House Lordryk endured the remainder of the Xenocides. They took further losses, but their numbers were sustained by new recruits and Knights from elsewhere who, pressed into carrying out the grim programme of bio-pogroms, found themselves with little care for the Great Crusade’s ideals.
Under Raktra’s overlordship, the old strictures of bloodline fell away. Lorthryk took on promising individuals from the Berserkers’ elite Army contingents, or those Aspirants physically unable to undergo Ascension. Gulaka and its satrapies bent their energies toward rebuilding the House, in a very different image to their original form. Gone were the green and silver of old, replaced by the ashen white, charcoal and blood red with which the Berserkers painted their armour, and the baroque contours of their sacred armours became jagged and brutal.
A decade after the end of the Fourth Xenocide, House Lorthryk had regained much of their former strength, though ever after their wars were fought in the shadow of greater armies. No more were they the proud force that had anchored so many offensives, serving instead the will of the Ashen King with grim fervour. Not only did they fight alongside his Legion, but on Uran and several of his lesser fief worlds, they became castellans, exactors of tithes and brutal suppressors of unrest. Great holdfasts were raised to house them on the Ashen Kingdom's seven principal worlds, distorted reflections of Zalith’s handsome spires. It was not uncommon to find a Knight striding the walkways of Gulaka’s forges or the manufactoria of Kaztoun, reaching out to make an example of any who forgot their allegiance or grew slack in their labour.
Outside the Kingdom and its armies, the scions of Lorthryk behaved with cold courtesy to those they deemed worthy of respect, and with outright belligerence to the rest. Often it seems that they actively sought to provoke duels over slighted honour, and these were often mortal affairs. Often the offence was so grave as to occasion mortal combat, and whether the initial intent of the Lorthryk was to test themselves or demonstrate their superiority, it seems to have become pathological. Before long, only the most restrained of Houses or those controlled by the Mechanicum would share a battlefield with them, a situation worsened by Lorthryk’s willingness to salvage Knights from other households.
As with all Raktra’s armies, House Lorthryk was reluctantly acknowledged as a potent force in the Great Crusade. They served prominently in the Taghurun War, wiping out hundreds of tanks with ravenous violence. Just as they savoured conflict with their fellow Knights, they most relished combat against war machines and beasts of similar or even greater stature to themselves. There exist several records of Lorthryk grappling with packs of Ork Stompas and fighting like pack hunters to bring down even Gargants, actions that brought both grudging respect and some apprehension at their naked battle-lust. With the Insurrection, Lorthryk followed the Berserkers into treason, and the full extent of their brutality was visited on a hundred Imperial worlds.Material Strength
House Lorthryk operated a wide range of sacred armours with Cerastus, Questoris and even Atrapos walkers featuring in their line of battle. These often strayed from standard patterning, as melée weapons were especially favoured by the House's scions, and many of those that wielded weapons such as flamesr and bolters were modified to make use of alchemical munitions as well.
At the beginning of the Insurrection House Lorthryk is thought to have operated around 260 Knights, and although it is impossible to estimate with any certainty their numbers at the time of the Blood Crusade, it is reckoned that 150 walkers participated. Certainly it is known that Gulaka continued to produce walkers in large numbers, and as during the Crusade, Lorthryk were quick to scavenge and refit fallen walkers for their own use. It is notable that they kept a smaller reserve than many Houses of similar size, as pilots were recruited from the VIIth Legion’s pocket armies as well as the old bloodlines of the House. This had its drawbacks, the House lacking but a handful of the veterans who so often anchor these forces, and often they would be commanded by a senior princeps of Yharma.
The battles around Vamast and Quelan had seen the effective annihilation of Lorthryk’s fleet. Thus in this context they were treated as an extension of Legio Yharma and the Berserkers, billeted aboard their mightiest mass-conveyors and battleships. These, dispersed among the VIIth Legion’s Hordes, proved adequate to house their entire fighting strength if necessary. Retainers war assigned to them from among the priesthood of Gulaka and the Berserkers’ vast ranks of thralls, though fighting alongside the VIIth Legion and Yharma’s Secutarii, Lorthryk had little need of dedicated support elements.
Edited by bluntblade, 01 March 2019 - 12:10 AM.