INDEX ASTARTES: THE AURIC BLADES
Progenitors: Raven Guard (12th Founding; Approx. late M35)
Homeworld: Athule (Feral World; Segmentum Ultima)
Fortress-Monastery: The Pinnacle (Lunar Fortress)
Combat Doctrine: Primaris Chapter / Mechanised Firefights
Successors: None Known or Acknowledged
“Breathe deep the vapours, my Brothers, and know the blessings of Valour. Feel the chemical gifts of Corax’ sons in your lungs and know the burden of Chivalry. See past these mundane and tainted stars and see your Quest, and know your Inspiration. Breathe deep the vapours, and be suffused.”
-Thirteenth Beseechment of the Codex Valourous
The Golden Knights of Athule. The Dreaming Questors. The Emblazoned. The Mad. To their allies and to history the Auric Blades have been known by many great names and lofty titles, but always they have been counted amongst the foremost of Humanity’s champions.
The coming of the Auric Blades is heralded by the roar of engines and the whine of grav-plates as the great armoured vehicles of the Chapter roll inevitably forwards. The roar and impact of the guns come next; heavy guns mounted on vehicles or wielded by long-range support squads, and lighter guns fired by Blades on the wing. As the Auric Blades close on their prey, their own voices join the cacophony as squads march up behind the battle tanks and dismount the transports and give voice to the glorious hymns of Athule. The stench of their alchemical vapours waft on the breeze from vials and censers as the Blades themselves finally open fire.
Few enemies survive much longer, and none save the most worthy or most terrible ever see the silver shine of their blades. To almost all, the Auric Blades are a sudden and lethal riot of golden armour, explosive munitions and blessed smoke.
Bound by their own strange ideals of chivalry and valour, the Auric Blades were a zealous and driven fraternity long before they were brought unto the cusp of extinction by the darkness and conflict of the Great Rift. With the gift of the Ultima Founding, the Auric Blades have been reborn as phoenixes, and now their hallowed hatred rages in a greater inferno than they have ever known before. Guided now by both their own mysterious Inspiration and by a desire to see their honour and legacy restored, the knights of the Auric Blades march once again to war against the enemies of the Imperium.
THE CULT OF VALOUR
Like all the Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, the Auric Blades are defined and shaped by their unique Chapter Cult - the rituals and practises that shape the daily life and psyche of their fraternity.
Whilst many Chapters can trace a number of their Cult traditions back to the practises of their progenitors, the Auric Blades seem far more shaped by the unusual chivalry of the Athulians than by the beliefs of Corax’ Raven Guard. There are a few elements which appear to be developments of the original cult - for example the Blades’ habit of coming-of-age hunts and totems may be a development of the Corvia of the Raven Guard - and yet for the most part the Auric Blades stand alone.
More than anything else, it is the Inspiration that defines the Brothers of the Auric Blades and sets them apart from their distant kin in other Chapters. Believed by many to be a flaw or quirk of the Chapter’s geneseed, the Inspiration manifests as strange, ritualised dreams that will guide the actions of the afflicted for the rest of his life.
The Inspiration is considered by many of the Chapter’s Apothecary to be in part a chemical shift throughout the entirety of a Marine’s body - a subtle reworking of a large number of processes, though why and to what end remains a mystery to even the most learned. However the Inspiration is most readily seen not through the chemical shifts, but through the great dreams it imparts to the Battle Brothers that are inspired.
The Inspiration creates great dreams in those gripped by it. The details of the dream will vary, but it will always take the form of a great hunt. Sometimes the hunt will be conducted alone, and other times they will hunt in great processions. The terrain might vary, as might the exact nature of their monstrous quarry, but it will always be a challenge - the age-old matching of might between Hunter and Beast.
The dreams, when they start to come, are vivid - as real to the Inspired as any battle or sermon or training exercise from their waking days. The dreams are analysed in great detail by the Chaplains, for the Auric Blades believe that these dreams reveal the fate and calling of the dreamers. There are a great many archetypes that recur in multiple individuals - the Dream of the Rising Leviathan, the Dream of the Hydra, the Dream of a Hungering Drake, to name a few - but these serve only to provide a starting point for the meaning of the dreams. Chaplains must study for a great many years before they are trusted to interpret a Brother’s Inspiration alone.
This fate - this new certainty of purpose - is known as the Quest. It is a call to embody some facet of the Chapter’s duty and version of blazing knighthood. The Quest is the most sombre duty that an Auric Blade can be given, and the dreams are ever a reminder of all that a Brother must be in service to the Emperor and the Primarch Corax.
Whilst not all of the Battle Brothers of the Auric Blades will be blessed by the Inspiration, once a Marine begins to dream the dreams will never stop coming to them - each time they close their eyes they will find themselves back on that surreal quest. The dreams will rarely change within an individual, and when they do it is a matter of interest not only for their own journey, but for the Chaplains that guide the Chapter Cult.
Whilst in theory there is no formal rank attached to the Inspiration, or any requirement for officers to have been Inspired before they are awarded commands, in practise the Inspiration is everything. In the entire history of the Chapter there have barely been a few dozen Captains, Sergeants and other officers who have not borne the heraldry of the dreamers, and Companies that have few or no Inspired beneath their Captain are considered ill-omened in the extreme. In the most extreme of cases, Captains have petitioned their fellow commanders to second them some of their Inspired Brothers until Inspiration blossoms within their own ranks.
Though rare, there are cases of neophytes and recently-inducted Battle Brothers becoming Inspired even there in their comparative youth. These blessed few are considered to be chosen by the Emperor, and generally enjoy a meteoric ascent through the Chapter’s ranks. It is unclear why, but these blessed warriors appear to bring out the Inspiration in those around them in usually unheard of numbers. They become something of a lucky charm for many squads, with veterans who have never been Inspired fighting all the harder to stay beside them in battle, hoping for the Dreams to come.
The Inspiration is the responsibility of the Auric Blades’ Chaplains in every sense. It is the Chalains who administer the enlightening drug-fumes before battle or meditation that allow their Battle Brothers the best chance of attaining or mastering the Inspiration; it is the Chaplains that sit and interpret the dreams of the Inspired to find their fate, and; it is the Chaplains that stand as watchers over their Brothers, ever making sure that their strange dreams never stop being Inspiration and start to become the mad whisperings of Chaos.
THE GREAT DREAMS
Whilst each Inspiration is utterly unique, there are a handful of archetypes and common images that appear with some frequency, allowing the Chaplains to create broad collectives that define the outline of the Inspired’s fate. These are known as the Great Dreams.
Some are defined by their prey-adversary, such as the Hungering Drake, in which the great wyrm represents the external crusaders of the Archenemy, or the Mists of the Selkun, where the Inspired must prove victorious through cunning rather than through simple strength of arms.
Others, such as the Rising Leviathan, denote the arena in which the Inspired will earn their renown, whilst Inspirations such as the First Quest are more esoteric still, denoting a lonely fate or painful death.
To have one of the Great Dreams, however altered, is to know one’s place in the Chapter - to know exactly what one must become to be a hero and to honour the Immortal Emperor. The stranger, rarer dreams offer no such comfort - the bearers of the more unique Inspirations must trust to the skills of their Chaplains and the whims of fate as they attempt to live their Inspiration across the fickle battlegrounds of the Imperium.
In a rare few cases (barely more than one every century or two) a Brother receives more than his usual share of Inspiration. Rather than a single, unchanging dream, these Blades instead have versions of the Great Dreams that switch and change seemingly every night. Known as “Oracles” these Astartes are believed to be even more in tune with the Inspiration than others, and their dreams are analysed almost constantly in the hope of unearthing some call to action from the Emperor to the Chapter as a whole.
There have not been any Oracles for centuries, and some believe that something about the Great Rift or the nature of the Primaris Astartes has ended the very possibility of the Oracles. However, others believe that it is simply that there is no need for Oracles at present, and that they will reemerge amongst the Auric Blades when the Emperor and Lord Corax deem them necessary.
Like a number of Chapters, the Auric Blades make a tradition and an art of heraldry, and in theory every single member of the Chapter is eligible to earn the right to wear a personal coat of arms, often opposite the Chapter’s own icon, or else on a tilt shield fitted to their armour.
However the Auric Blades are perhaps unique in how they deem a Battle Brother worthy of bearing heraldry. Heraldry is awarded to any who are struck by their Inspiration and find their Quest - upon explaining their first true Dream to a Chaplain they are taken to a Chapter shrine, giving them time to meditate whilst the Chaplains and a dedicated body of Chapter serfs - the Tireless Kamon - work out exactly what combinations of motifs, emblems and colours to gift the Inspired.
The process can be an arduous one. Not only must the heraldry not resemble too closely any design currently active within the Chapter or its recent history, but it must also reflect what the Auric Blades consider to be the underlying and eternal significance of the various aspects of the Battle Brother’s dream, and must (at least nominally) must match to the wider ‘age’ of Inspiration through which the Chaplains have decided the Chapter to currently be moving through.
As a result the heraldry of the Auric Blades is often massively varied. Whilst many bear the same heraldic motifs that appear on a number of worlds throughout the Imperium - skulls, hourglasses, candles, dragons, swords, slain monsters and daemons, and the like - they also incorporate a whole range of wider and stranger symbols. It is not unheard of to see an Auric Blade whose heraldry incorporates mundane beasts, bolter icons, Terran bolts of unity, falling stars and on occasion even rarer charges.
As it is linked so closely to Inspiration, heraldry is a key part of the mentality and soul of the Auric Blades Chapter. All of the Chapter’s officers bear the heraldry of their Inspiration, and those marked by heraldry often unofficially outrank their Brothers, marked by the favour of their Primarch and the Emperor.
WIDER CHAPTER CULT
Whilst the Inspiration serves as the focal point for the beliefs of the Auric Blades, it is far from their only point of veneration. Even when not heightened to the status of fated calling by the Inspiration, knighthood forms the beating heart of daily life within the Chapter.
Like the knights of Athule from which they are drawn, the Auric Blades hold the twin arts of swordsmanship and marksmanship above all others. Even the lowest of the Chapter practise ceaselessly to master all manner of blades and lethal edges with which they might deal death to their enemies.
However for a knight of the calibre of a Space Marine, it would be unbecoming to frequently sully his blade in the blood of an enemy unless pressed. As such the Auric Blades work to heighten their skill with Bolter and Plasma Gun and all manner of firearms. Only the worthy shall lose their blood testing the skill of an Auric Blade in melee - chosen either for a duel, or by their skill in surviving the firestorm of their gunlines. To the Auric Blades the latter is as chivalric as any honour duel, for their knighthood shall shine forever brighter by having being tested by the greatest of Humanity’s enemies.
Their wider code of chivalry is full of small touches that betray their origins on Athule, and almost all bear some mark of being transformed into ritual by the all-encompassing Inspiration. This covers everything from their archaic treating-phrases for dealing with other Imperial forces, through to their attitudes to the study of warfare and combat etiquette. Beyond the dreams of the Inspiration, however, there is perhaps no clearer sign of its influence than in the Chapter’s attitudes towards its historic heroes.
Even more so than most Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, the Auric Blades venerate their historic heroes, even going as far as to adopt titles based upon their famous victories and to pray to them as exemplars of knighthood on the eve of battle, calling upon them in the same manner as the Primarch and the Emperor. The battle cant of the Chapter is full of allusions to these heroes, and a few Brothers even take the name of one of these lost legends, believing that through emulation they might achieve some fragment of that hero’s greatness and glory.
Edited by Maatith, 30 May 2020 - 11:36 AM.