Re:……………………..Adeptus Custodes – Warders of the Vault of Rython
Thought: “Laws are sometimes only partially understood by the feeble intellects of humankind, but remain laws nonetheless.”
The origins of the Warders of the Vault of Rython—hereby to be referred to as the “Warders” in order to not waste your time, my lord—are lost to the uncertainties of the Age of Strife. In fact, many of the actions, deployments, and activities of this order of His guard, now known as the Adeptus Custodes remain either unrecorded or are deliberately obscured by the order proper. There is no formal record of their existence and it is rumored that those that guard Him upon the Throne keep little in the way of formal unit dispositions or companies. What little I have been able to ascertain through contacts made both in the tower and abroad in the Sol Segmentum is recorded here, for you.
Rumors of the origins of this Sodality are sparse, though the ones source I have seems to believe that they were founded shortly after or near the end of the Unification Wars, where He led his armies in glorious conquest across the surface of Terra. It is believed by this same source—who’s claims serve as the basis of most of this patchwork information—that there existed items and individuals that needed to be placed in a secure and unknown place. For what purpose or why He did not, in his infinite wisdom, destroy such objects is unknown though my contact believes that he was incapable of destroying such objects. I want to ensure you that such heresy will not go unpunished, my lord, but a certain amount of latitude was needed in order for me to complete this research.
Regardless of his reasons, my contact believes that his repository of vile things became known as the Vault. More specifically the Vault of Rython, though my contact was elusive about what Rython is or was. No records of anything related to such a Rython exists my lord, whether Rython be a name or an object. My contact believes Rython was a piece of Dark Age technology so powerful that the Emperor kept it locked away from all others and such was its capacity of destruction that the Emperor created a special Sodality with the specific intention of keeping the Rython contained. From Rython there were either created or found other objects of such power and provenance or corruption that they were also required to be safeguarded.
The exact time and location of their founding is unknown outside of the Order of the Custodes and a contact from Saturn’s Iapetus stations has informed me that few members within the Order proper know of its existence. That such a force exists beyond the remit of both the Adeptus Terra and the Custodes is a peculiarity lord, and one that should see [REDACTED].
As your humble servant, information has come to me regarding perhaps the nature of the Warders and their ultimate task to He Upon the Throne. The same contact who shared what little he knew about the vault also shared an after-action report of an engagement on Prospero. Though common knowledge and the official record both state that the cleansing of Prospero was undertaken by the glorious VI Legion, ‘Space Wolves’ of the Legio Astartes (now the Adeptus Astartes of course) this report, sealed by members of the Sigillite’s own order, details other auxiliary forces that also took place in the purge of that war. While this report could have been fabricated, the presence of certain code-signs and enhanced noospheric protections present on the dataslate—itself somewhat damaged—indicate that this report was official in some capacity, though whether or not it was merely a record of hearsay or unconfirmed information is another matter altogether. The dataslate records the forces of the VI Legiones Astartes as well as detachments of “Et unguibus Galli oculos verberavit Imperatoris.” I can only surmise the meaning of this archaic High Gothic phrase as the “Talons of the Emperor.” The forces detailed within the dataslate feature several Shield-Companies of Custodes as well as cadres of the dread Anathema Pskyana, including a cadre from the maligned Chamber of Judgement.
The most important feature of this dataslate was a datafile that detailed the primary names of many of the Custodes present, as well as those of a sodality designated only as “Custodi.Cellariis.Occludunt.” Extrapolating the meaning of this designation from sources within our own fortress complex with the help of your other servants my lord, gave me “Wardens of the Vaults.” The names here were fragmentary and corrupted but the occurrences of a few that were corroborated by other sources, I would hazard a guess, if you may grant me one, prove that the record is in fact correct though I cannot ascertain to what extent. The very nature of this order of the Emperor’s chosen guardians makes certainty impossible and though I realize you desire certainty in all things, this fragmentary and inexact record may very well be the best we could manage. I do believe that the Custodes themselves are relatively unaware of the existence of such a faction in their own ranks although it may be for reasons unknown to us.
If such a force is confirmed to exist and their rumored purpose of such importance that they were kept secret from the majority of the Imperium then their deployment to a battlefield so far from the place of their original purposes also poses larger question: what became of their appointed tasks while they were not there to perform them? What could stretch the forces of the Imperium to the extent that a force of such importance was called off one monumental task and assigned another? Either the situation on Prospero called for the expertise of such a shadowy force or the strength of the Custodes was primarily preoccupied by another task and that a reserve force was required to contain the threat of [REDACTED]. Not to distract from the purpose of the inquiry, milord, but I did find that not one of the Custodes Tribunes were dispatched to Prospero, despite the presence of the legendary Constatin Valdor. Either the record of the battle was corrupted and the names were irretrievable or there were greater forces at work than [REDACTED].
What little is known about the Ten Thousand, it is rumored that they do not form companies in the same matter as other Imperial military formations. The reasons for this could be manifold: as not a part of the Imperium proper they are granted an immense amount of latitudinal freedom, operating only with regards to the enduring will of Him Upon the Throne. As such, the formation of this austere order can vary widely, with companies of warriors serving together before being separated, the unit dissolved entirely or being left empty until new warriors take up the mantle. While such things are not unheard of within other Imperial organizations, the rapidity and fluidity of a single Custodes movement in the order is unprecedented, and that every warrior in the order seems to move in a similarly unpredictable manner makes my appointed task all the more of a challenge.
A contact from the Outer Rim of the System, on a mining platform on the Hyperion Belt, believes the number of members of this company to be around 70. She believes that each one of the Custodes that becomes a member of the Warders is chosen from a unique group of genetically modified individuals. Who are where this group is located is not possible for me to say, but the contact seemed certain that every Custode that becomes a member of the Warders is under the command, so to speak of the Lockwarden. The Lockwarden is Master of the Dark Cells, supposedly, a repository of individuals and objects from both Terran pre-history and across the galaxy that present threats so singular and devastating that they or any knowledge of them is sequestered from the wider Imperium. My contact claimed that the Dark Cells are home to many creatures, including unbanishable Warp-entities and, if you can stomach this madness my lord, tyrants from Terra before the Emperor unified the planet. A ridiculous notion to be sure, but she seemed quite convinced. The Dark Cells themselves are nominally guarded by a sect of Custodes known as the ‘Shadowkeepers.’ The relationship between the Warders and the Shadowkeepers remains unknown. If the Warders are merely a subsect of the Shadowkeepers detachment or if they are somehow autonomous and independent of them, instead reporting to the Lockwarden directly as a separate entity, is not something any of the sources I encountered managed to have knowledge of.
The members of the shield company hail from all of the different castes of the Custodes, each member being a master of different types of arms. The Hyperion contact believed that the Warder maintained at least sizeable detachments of Tharanatoi and Hykanatoi, alongside detachments of Kataphraktoi and even the rarer Ephoroi, including the Venatari. There are at least three members of the Warders who belong to the Moritoi, but rather than remain within the Tower of Hegemon as the source claimed they normally do, these three were instead stationed on a near permanent active duty with the Warders themselves. My contact was cagey about how she came to know such information. In truth, I did wonder whether or not she was a plant: either an agent of the Order itself or perhaps someone looking for true insight into the weaknesses of them. It will no doubt please you to know that she is dead: murdered by a group of hab-workers after a disagreement over a game of cards. Thus, my tracks there are covered.
A separate source, from the Golgoth Hive on Terra itself gave a different report of the Warders. He stated that a more distinct difference between the Warders and other subsects of the Custodes is their predilection for a more concrete leadership hierarchy. Whereas it is rumored that the Custodes themselves have few leaders but rather a more rotating list of responsibility, it would appear the Warders have a stable cast of leadership, what my Hyperion source called “the Dread Council.” Consisting of ten members, this governing body is made up of one “Tribune,” six Shield-Captains, and three of the Vexilus Praetors. Although the rank of Shield-Captain is familiar to those of the Adeptus Terra, especially those of higher rank or who are in the orbit of the High Lords, the Tribune is rarely spoken of and it is believed that there existed only two. They were responsible for the command of Custodes forces where the Captain-General was not available and one has not been seen outside the Place in over 300 years. If the Warders are a force under the direct command of one of the two Tribunes or if there exists a third member of the Custodes ultimate command structure, hidden away from all eyes except their own.
Regardless of the nature of the Council, the Golgoth Hive source assured me that very few inside the Ten Thousand (as they refer to themselves) know of its existence and that little to know information is widely available. The nature of the Warders purpose is such that no knowledge can escape and so they are hidden from all eyes. The irony of that belief in the face of the contact’s claim and the nature of this report does not escape me, my lord. More so, the secretive nature of the Warders informs their hierarchy: as members who are inducted are either spirited away from the main body of the Adeptus Custodes, their now secretive duty makes it unlikely for them to advance outside of this specific shield-company.
It is interesting to note however, that the Warders have little in the way of any sort of heavier support platforms. According to the dossier delivered by my source—fragmentary and corrupted as the datafiles are—there are only five vehicles that are recorded, with two being denoted as having been destroyed. This lack of armoured support is not unique: most formations of the Adeptus Custodes seem to need little in the way of armored support. Stories, mostly anecdotes, tell tales of a single Custode being able to overpower small vehicles like Rhino and Chimera APCs without any form of support outside of their weapon thralls. While there is little tangible evidence of this, the sheer physicality and outright divine origins of the Custodes themselves do little to dissuade such notions. The Moritoi themselves often serve as a heavier class of support for their living brethren—equipped with larger anit-armour and anti-personnel weaponry—but the Custodes themselves are known to employ grav-vehicles that are outside of the normal Imperial armories.
Such grav-vehicles are rare, even more so than the legendary Thunderhawk-class flyers of the Adeptus Astartes. These vehicles are highly advanced weapons platforms, being able to move with a speed and agility that my source remarked was more common to xenos factions. They are rumored to cost more than most planetary tithes and as such are rarely seen deployed. That the Warders of the Vaults of Rython even maintain a standing armory of 4 of these vehicles is indicative of their importance. Of them, two are spoken of in such a way that makes me believe that they are scouting platforms: lightly armed and armored, able to perform reconnaissance and close fire support. The other two, of which only their names survive in the record, are of unknown purpose but I believe such function could be gleaned from an approximate translation of their names: Currus Umbra and Deus Macello. A translation of Currus Umbra is something akin to “ride of shadows.” While not an exact translation of the High Gothic, I believe this indicates that the Currus Umbra was a transport-class vehicle of the Custodes. Some surviving vid-captures from Balthazar V of Custodes fighting—taken at such a distance that it occludes individuals—show three large craft moving at high speed, only to deposit some 18 gold-armored figures into the midst of a rebel formation. While obviously not the warriors of the Warders, the knowledge that such vehicles exist does provide some confirmation to the hypothesis.
Deus Macello presents us with a different problem. The name, translated down to Low Gothic means something akin to “butcher of god.” While not as clear as the Currus Umbra in explicit meaning, I am going to make several… presumptive guesses. While the implication of any deity outside of the Emperor Himself is laughable, it is well-documented that members of the Adpetus Mechanicus refer to their titan engines as “god-machines,” believing them to be instruments of the Emperor’s will. The power of such engines of destruction is surely well-known to you, lord, but what I am attempting to communicate here is that this Deus Macello may very well be in reference to such instruments. Such a weapon would be rightly feared and only an organization such as the Adeptus Custodes would have the august reputation to wield such a craft.
The fifth vehicle that I mentioned earlier is explicitly referred to as “Land’s Raider,” which I can only assume is a typographical mistake made by some serf copying the report. The Land Raider is well known to any who have made even a brief study of the Adeptus Astartes and the commonality of its existence within the ranks of the Custodes makes sense. Such a robust and powerful machine would easily be of use to such warriors. The Land Raider is often cited in a reverential term being referred to as Mortem Theloneo or, in Low Gothic, “toll the dead.” Its age seems to be of great import to the scribe who refers to it as a “primos” machine. One of the very first Land Raider’s ever developed after their discovery. Even at the time of the report the vehicle would easily be over a thousand Terran years of age and such a relic from the very dawn of His Imperium would be of great significance.
As evidenced by the very nature of the Warders and their origins and organization, records of their engagements outside of the Cleansing of the Prospero system—where their presence is as mch conjecture as fact—and a few scant rumors about “warriors of Terra in dark armor,” records of the Warders actions outside of the Tower of Hegemon and perhaps even inside it are difficult to come by. Nevertheless, I, you humble servant believe that I have managed to compile enough various records and rumors from my sources tho show a slight pattern in the probable movements of the Warders across the Imperium. Please, my lord, review these records at your leisure.
- Wars of Unity (M29-M30) – Records from a number of officials of old Boeotia declare the arrival of “ebony and gold clad giants” who laid waste to a sector of their capital city’s ghetto in pursuance of an unknown foe. A single “thunder gun” is recorded as having been discovered by a Quintitus Androfeda, and turned over to Imperial forces after the fall of the nation to the armies of Unity.
- The Great Crusade (798.M30-005.M31) – Although the deployment of the Custodes was more common during the first century of the Great Crusade to refound the Imperium, their appearances nearer the end of the Crusade and the beginning of the dread Heresy that followed are more scant.
- The Trident of Bones (799.M30) – A record of the pacification of Neptune records and engagement between the XIII Legiones Astartes and a “horde of mutants.” The original inhabitants of Neptune had been reduced to strange mutant population during the terror of Old Night and it became the purview of the XIII Legion—then the “Warborn”—to end them. During a battle of one of the mutants final mining platform superstructures, the Warborn stumbled across a giant trident-like sepulcher, constructed entirely out of bone. Just before ordering the destruction of the construct a voxcast alerted the XIII Legion commanders of the appearance of a Legio Custodes craft in near orbit and an order to evacuate the mining platform. Following the orders, the commanders of the XIII Legion watched as several Talion gunbships descended to the platform, with one remarking their color as “strangely ebony” before taking off again. When they were cleared to reboard the mining structure to clear the remaining mutants, all trace of the construct of bones was gone.
- The Sedna Campaign (803.M30) – Eight complete Legions of the Legiones Astartes are deployed to undertake the destruction of the artificial nemesis world on the outer edge of the Sol System. Though “Sedna” is lost to Imperial auspices, there exist reports of several detachments of Legiones Custodes also taking part in the conflict. During the deciding battle, an Astarte commander describes “dark armored giants of His wrath” appearing in a teleport flare and dispatching a lord of the foul Xenos.
- Mysteries of Osiris (830.M30) – After the successful and bloodless compliance of the Osiris System, the following revolt some 26 Terran-standard years later made the mysterious Osirian Psybirds on eof the young Imperium’s most fearsome foes. Shortly before their extinction by the Lord Gulliman in 833.M30 a salvage station in the nearby Nemion cluster reported and catalogued the arrival of a heavily damaged Imperial vessel name Trimenedes. While no record survives of who crewed a vessel the Trimenedes is reported to be destroyed during the Seige of Terra 200 years later and is catalogued as a Legio Custodes vessel.
- The Death of Liones (840.M30) – The Forge World of Liones was discovered early in the Great Crusade and was hoped to be an important component of the Imperial war effort after the signing of the Treaty of Mars. However, the Forge World was soon overtaken by a Separatist group of Tech-Adpets who begun to work strange and Dark Technologies. Upon hearing these reports the Admiral of the 129th Expedition Fleet deigned to make all haste to Liones to see these dark wonders set to right. Upon arriving in-system however, the admiral finds only a series of dead worlds orbiting the systems blue star. Taking a Arvus lighter down to the surface he finds the charred remains of the forges, all destroyed and immolated. His inquests into this matter are curtailed when a Custode ship joins the fleet and the admiral is executed. A new commander is appointed shortly afterwards and the 129th expedition fleet moves on. Of note is the surprise in a commander’s report that the Custodes wore “a dark wine armor, golden with filigree.”
- Rangdan Xenocides (860s.M30) – During what is only described in fragmentary records as “the Siege of the Labyrinth of Night” the Emperor himself took to the field alongside several detachmnets of Custodes. Frewas Gantaliion, a Knight- Aucteller of the legendary House Orhlacc during the conflict, is reported to have boasted that he shed blood alongside the Custodes during the siege where a group of “dark armored brutes” single-handedly turned back an enemy counter attack using weapons of a provenance he did not know. While this record is anecdotal and hearsay, it is believed by some that there exists within House Orhlacc’s vaults a shattered Misericordia, upon which is an unfamiliar seal. >>
Edited by Shield-Captain, 14 May 2020 - 07:45 PM.