"There are no bystanders in the war of life and death, no place the battle cannot reach; so fight it without remorse or relenting, for death will surely do the same."
- — Attributed to Captain-General Constantin Valdor
Constantin Valdor, known as "The First of the Ten Thousand" and "The Shield of the Emperor," was the first Chief Custodian and Captain-General of the ancient Legio Custodes, the elite bodyguard of the Emperor of Mankind. Under Valdor's peerless leadership during the Wars of Unification to reunite Terra and the subsequent Great Crusade launched to reclaim the lost colony worlds of Humanity, the Legio Custodes was an unstoppable force, and its warriors covered themselves in glory for Terran years uncounted.
Even amidst the civil strife that consumed the newborn Imperium of Man during the Horus Heresy, under his leadership the Custodians remained utterly resolute and unquestionably loyal, feted throughout the Imperium as the Emperor's finest warriors. In honour of his deeds, the Valdor Tank Hunter proudly bears his name.
It is said that Constantin Valdor epitomised all that it meant to be one of the Legio Custodes. Stoic, watchful, fiercely intelligent and -- when required -- a truly inspirational leader, Valdor was a true hero of the Imperium who never once faltered in his duty. It is not recorded what became of Valdor after the Emperor's withdrawal to the Golden Throne, following His mortal wounding at the hands of the Arch-Traitor Horus at the Battle of Terra. Valdor resigned the Captain-Generalcy to his newly elected successor soon after and disappeared from the historical record, his final fate unknown. But there are those who believe he serves the Emperor still...
Few warriors in the entire history of the Imperium have even come close to the martial magnificence, selfless dedication and strategic excellence of Constantin Valdor, the first Captain-General of the Ten Thousand. He was a puissant warrior and a being of supernatural stature and gravitas, such that many had likened him to one of the Primarchs of the Space Marine Legions and that he could even have matched one of the Emperor's sons in a contest of blades. Records of his existence predate any of the Primarchs' creation, as with many of the Legio Custodes, who were the Emperor's firstborn genetically-augmented warriors.
Such were his fighting skills, martial power and physical and mental abilities that there were those, even within the Imperial Court, that dared to call him "Primarch" in all but name. Yet, for all his power, Valdor was made and trained to serve a different and far more focused purpose, that of Lord Commander of the Custodian Guard, and to Valdor the petty concerns of conquest and glory, dominion and victory were as nothing when compared to his own sworn duty.
Yet Valdor's value to the Emperor was so much more than as a mere combatant. From the earliest days of the Unification Wars -- perhaps even before -- Constantin Valdor was the Emperor's staunch companion, and his loyalty to the Master of Mankind was absolute. The Captain-General would rather have taken his own life than risk that of the Emperor; Valdor's devotion to his master was such that there was no act he would not perform, no deed he would not consider, to ensure the Emperor's continued survival.
So while Constantin Valdor held a rank in some ways higher than even that of a Primarch, and sat at the centre of Imperial power on Terra, he seldom exercised his influence, save where his purview was directly concerned, and then never with ambition or aggrandisement. But should his purpose be challenged or worse yet should anyone or anything seek to endanger the Emperor or His chosen representatives, Valdor was as a demigod of vengeance made incarnate: unstoppable and unrelenting.
Constantin Valdor faithfully served the Emperor of Mankind from as early as the Unification Wars, the Great Crusade and the dark days of the Horus Heresy, in which he was active during some of the most significant events and campaigns that took place during that Age of Darkness, including the Burning of Prospero and the Battle of Terra. On Prospero, Valdor eventually faced over thirty of Magnus the Red's elite Blademasters, warriors who could predict their enemies' attacks through psychic precognition, slaying them all and receiving only a single wound in the process.
During the final, titanic siege on Terra, the Legio Custodes fought alongside the Loyalist Legions to defend the Emperor and His palace. They showed no mercy to the turncoat Space Marines. They did not waver, even as megatonnes of explosive death rained from the burning skies, even as daemonic abominations spilled through the veil of reality and Chaos Titans hammered the palace walls with city-levelling weaponry. Valdor and his Ten Thousand fought valiantly during that nightmarish battle, driving back one offensive after another. The Captain-General was seen to reave through the ranks of the Traitor Legions as easily as their Loyalist cousins would against ordinary humans and lesser xenos.
During this final battle of the Horus Heresy, the unthinkable would happen. At the culmination of the Siege of Terra, the Emperor led a last-ditch boarding action against Horus' Battle Barge, the Vengeful Spirit, where He met the Arch-Traitor in single combat and defeated him at the last, but the cost was appalling. Though they cut down Traitors and daemons beyond count, Valdor and his fellow Legio Custodes were unable to prevent Horus from mortally wounding the Emperor, and leaving his father's mind and soul trapped in a shattered husk of a body. Grief-stricken, the Custodians bore their master back to Terra, there to be interred forevermore within the machineries of the Golden Throne. They swore a penitent's oath and donned the mourning black, consigning themselves to watching over their fallen lord for the rest of time.
Following the failure of the Warmaster's assault upon Terra, the Emperor's surviving loyal sons lead a furious war of vengeance, which came to be known as the Great Scouring, in which they hounded the fleeing Traitor Legions across the galaxy. Yet the newly reorganised Adeptus Custodes took no part in this time of violent catharsis and retribution, standing their sombre watch upon the Throneworld and contemplating their ultimate failure. Though records conflict as to how and when, it is during this period that Captain-General Constantin Valdor disappeared from Imperial histories, along with his weapons and armour, which never made their way to the Hall of Armaments. The Custodians elected Valdor's successor from amongst their ranks and continued their watch.
- The Unification Wars (Unknown Date.M30) - It is not known when the Emperor fashioned the Custodians. The truth is hidden in fragments of the past, accounts of figures appearing in crude hieroglyphs and cave etchings, stasis-locked scads of parchment and gene-sealed tomes that no man can now open. They speak of the towering demigods that strode at the Emperor's side, trusted bodyguards and respected counsellors that He took into his confidence. These crimson and gold clad transhuman warriors took part in many notable campaigns of the Wars of Unification. From the earliest days of the Unification Wars -- perhaps even before then -- Constantin Valdor was the Emperor's staunch companion, and his loyalty to the Master of Mankind was absolute.
- Battle of Maulland Sen (Unknown Date.M30) - This campaign of the Unification Wars, known also as the Battle of the Red Frost, was an epic campaign between the Emperor's newly-created proto-Astartes of the Thunder Legion, a small cadre of Custodians led by Constantin Valdor and the forces of the Priest-King of the Maullan Sen Confederacy of the Nordyc hives. Although outnumbered nearly seven-to-one, the Imperial forces were able to defeat the horde of genetically-altered warriors, witch-marked men and zealots of the Priest-King, who was captured by the Custodians. After the battle, the Priest-King was executed by the Emperor Himself. But according to detailed extant records preserved in the Trans-Nordyc Akashic archives, in actuality it was one of the Emperor's gold-clad "Custodians" who was responsible for striking the head of the confederation's tyrant-prophet from its shoulders in the aftermath of the campaign.
- Battle of Mount Ararat (Unknown Date.M30) - The Imperial historical chronicles tell of the last battle of the Unification Wars, known as the Battle of Mount Ararat, which was fought in the Kingdom of Urartu. During this final battle the remaining proto-Astartes, the Thunder Warriors, were slain to a man. The chronicles of the time recorded that the famed Thunder Warrior Arik Taranis, known as the "Lightning Bearer," raised the Banner of Lightning at the final declaration of Unity which established the rule of the Emperor of Mankind over the entirety of Terra before dying of his wounds. It was considered a measure of the Thunder Warriors' heroic sacrifice that they had all died to win the last and greatest victory for the Emperor. Unfortunately, this version of events is completely false, manufactured after the event to cover the Thunder Warriors' betrayal. In reality, during the final years of the Unification Wars, the Thunder Warriors at last realised that their creator had cursed them with short lifespans, and turned upon him for what they saw as his betrayal. Several hundred prototype Astartes of the I Legion of the newly created Space Marines, alongside a cadre of several hundred Custodians, even then believed to have been led by the legendary Constantin Valdor, stood in the Emperor's defence, carrying out a merciless culling of the obsolete, unstable and rebellious gene-soldiers. With those relic forces purged, Terra could at last be pronounced unified, and the Emperor turn His gaze to the stars for the benefit of all Mankind.
- Assassination of Koja Zu (Unknown Date.M30) - Sometime during the early years of the Great Crusade, Constantin Valdor was assigned the dire task of personally carrying out the assassination of Koja Zu, the Minister of the Anuatan Steppes, who had committed an unforgivable crime in the eyes of the Emperor. As the Emperor's Imperium had expanded out into the stars during the Great Crusade, millions of pilgrims had began to flock to humanity's birthworld, wishing only to see their ancestral Earth with their own eyes. It was said that unsettled land on the Throneworld was already the most valuable commodity in the nascent Imperium, but this was not so. Only one resource was far more precious -- water. Minister Zu was to be put to death for the crime of stealing water. For this act, and this act alone. Her other treacheries were meaningless in the Emperor's eyes; her cleansing pogroms, her trade in forbidden flesh. The army of gene-worked detritus the minister had sequestered in the bunkers beneath the Jermanic Steppes. The prospect of her rebellion was never a threat to the Pax Imperialis. Her crimes of apostasy were nothing. She was to die for the sin of her harvester machines drinking the Last Ocean. Carrying out the Minster's execution, Valdor claimed her young son (who would later be known as Ra Endymion) for induction into the Legio Custodes.
- Council of Nikaea (004.M31) - A great Imperial conclave was called by the Emperor of Mankind upon the world of Nikaea in the midst of the Great Crusade. This consistorial court was intended to determine whether or not the use of psychic sorcery represented a boon or a grave danger to Mankind and the newborn Imperium of Man. Presided over by the Emperor Himself as final arbiter of justice, He took no part in either the debate or the voting that followed it. As always, His most faithful companion and bodyguard, Captain-General Constin Valdor was by his lord's side. Focused on his duty of protecting the Emperor at all costs, he favoured neither side. Ultimately the existence of some psykers like Astropaths and Navigators in the Imperium was sanctioned but all others were banned, including the Librarians of the Space Marine Legions. The potent and unrestricted use of psychic abilities that was defined as "sorcery" was also officially banned. The psychically powerful Primarch Magnus the Red and his Thousand Sons Space Marine Legion would continue to study such powers in secret on their homeworld of Prospero, ultimately leading to their damnation.
- Razing of Prospero (734.004.M31)- Still practicing sorcery in secret, Primarch Magnus the Red saw a precognitive vision that revealed that the Warmaster Horus, greatest of the Primarchs and the Emperor's most favoured son, had been mortally wounded upon the feral moon of Davin. The Crimson King also foresaw the pact with Chaos that the dying Warmaster had made to save his life. Finally, he foresaw the epic events that were yet to unfold in the galaxy and could prove dire to the survival of the Imperium -- the galaxy-wide conflict that would come to be known as the Horus Heresy. Troubled by the revelations of Horus' betrayal and the coming galactic civil war, Magnus risked further censure from his father by employing the use of a sorcerous spell to warn the Emperor. This foolhardy action would unmake and disrupt the psychic wards surrounding the Emperor's secret construction of a new extension into the Webway, which was secretly located deep within the subterranean dungeons of the Imperial Palace. This action would enrage the Emperor and doom Magnus and his Thousand Sons, and thus, would herald the first battle of the Horus Heresy. Constantin Valdor and his Legio Custodes were charged with leading a Censure Host to Prospero and bringing Magnus back to Terra to face His father's judgement. Since their earliest days the Custodians had always borne the Magisterium Lex Ultima, a mark of office that made them answerable only to the Emperor Himself. Yet never before had they been charged with exercising its authority for such a daunting task. Still, Valdor did not shirk from his duty. What should have been a diplomatic coup became a murderous conflict when Leman Russ, the Primarch of the Space Wolves, joined his forces to Valdor's. Goaded by Horus' cunning words and driven by an instinctive dislike for his sorcerous brother, Russ took the role not of Magnus' captor, but his executioner. Though Valdor initially resisted Russ' urgings, his hand was forced when the corruption of the sorcerers of Prospero was revealed, and so he led his gold-armoured brethren to the surface of the damned world. Fighting alongside the Sisters of Silence, whose Null powers warded off the Thousand Sons' psychic attacks, the Custodians slew many of Magnus' followers during that tragic battle. Only with the aid of Valdor's warriors were the Space Wolves able to extricate themselves from the slaughter before a howling Warp rift consumed Prospero itself.
- War Within the Webway (004-014.M31) - When Magnus foolishly utilised sorcerous means in order to warn the Emperor of Horus' corruption and the inevitable conflict that would ensue, the Crimson King's actions were more dire than simply violating the Emperor's Nikaean Decree Absolute. He had also undone the Emperor's secret work -- the Imperial Webway project -- a lost portion of the Eldar Webway on Terra. It was the Emperor's hope that he would be able to utilise the Webway in order to free humanity of the burden of utilising the Immaterium to travel great distances. This would also have freed Mankind from having to expose themselves to the malevolent entities that made the Warp their home. With Magnus' sorcerous intrusion, he had broken many of the wards that had been put in place, in order to hold the hordes of the daemons behind the skein of reality. It is ironic that while the Space Marine Legions battled furiously against one another -- and the Imperial Army and Mechanicum tore themselves to shreds with internecine conflict -- the Legio Custodes would be strangely absent for much of the Horus Heresy. The few records that survive from that dark time provide only hints as to why that might have been, alluding to the existence of another, terrible war that took place beyond the sight of the wider Imperium, one that only the Legio Custodes had any chance of winning. The Emperor and His Custodian Guard were actually engaged in their own desperate conflict, fighting upon a trans-dimensional battlefield the Emperor once sought to tame for Mankind's use. Tragically, this existential war kept the Custodians from exacting the Emperor's vengeance upon His wayward sons. The Ten Thousand would not take a major role in the battle for the Imperium until the foe was beating at the very gates of the Emperor's palace. As the majority of the Custodian Guard were occupied with the continuing War Within the Webway, Captain-General Valdor assumed a position on the Terran War Council alongside the Imperial Regent, Malcador the Sigillite; Primarch Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists; Fabricator Locum Trimejia of Mars; Kaeria, Oblivion Knight of the Silent Sisterhood; and the Loyalist Fabricator-General Zagreus Kane. These six souls would decide the fate of an empire in the wider conflict to come.
- Execution Force (005.M31) - After learning of Horus' perfidy on Istvaan III, the Sires and Siresses of the various secret Imperial Assassin Clades were tasked by Malcador the Sigillite, the secret Grand Master of Assassins, with the daunting task of slaying the Arch-Traitor Horus, for if they could accomplish this monumental undertaking, they could effectively crush the nascent rebellion against the Emperor before it could inflict further damage upon His Imperium. Invited by the Master of Assassins to the secret council of assassins, it was Valdor who suggested that an assassin from each Clade operate as a team to assassinate Horus, rather than act alone as was the standard mode of operation. This was the catalyst for the creation of the first-ever Execution Force. When the Imperial Fists Primarch, Rogal Dorn, learned of these events, he challenged the Captain-General, claiming that by leaving the Arch-Traitor alive, they had been granted the boon of knowing how predictable his actions were, but cutting off the head of the Heresy wouldn't stop it, as someone more predictable would simply take Horus' place. Valdor argued that, in the end, they all wanted to achieve the same objective; to preserve the Master of Mankind. Dorn countered Valdor's argument by pointing out that it was the Captain-General's role to safeguard the life of the Emperor while Dorn himself, and the Astartes of the Loyalist Space Marine Legions' was to safeguard the Imperium. Though the Executioner Force uncovered valuable information, ultimately, their mission was a failure, as Horus was tipped off about the attempt on his life and had sent a proxy in his place, who was killed by the assassins. Later, Dorn and Valdor would continue to passionately debate about the merits of utilising such tactics, with Dorn pointing out that in order to preserve the Imperium, they must do so by standing by a moral code. Valdor countered Dorn's argument by citing that to match the Warmaster's evil that they must not stop at utilising underhanded tactics. However, their debate was eventually settled, when the Emperor had the last word, stating that there would be no more shadows and no more veils.
- Battle of Terra (014.M31) - After nine standard years of brutal conflict, the Traitor Legions finally launched an all-out assault in order to strike at the heart of the Imperium and kill the Emperor. During this titanic siege, the Legio Custodes fought alongside the Loyalist Legions to defend the Master of Mankind and His Imperial Palace. Valdor personally led the Ten Thousand who fought valiantly during this nightmarish siege, driving back one offensive after another. Despite their heroics, and to the eternal shame of the Legio Custodes, they failed in their ultimate duty. Whether some sliver of his old self remained, and sought to derail the Dark Gods' plans, or perhaps he simply wished to face the Emperor before the end, and to strike his father down by his own hand, Horus foolishly lowered the shields on his orbiting flagship, the Vengeful Spirit. The Emperor immediately gathered an elite force of Primarchs, Space Marines and Custodians, and led them in a teleport attack against Horus' unshielded ship. The battle that followed was horrific, the Emperor's force scattered throughout the tainted ship and forced to fight for their lives. Sanguinius, Primarch of the Blood Angels, fell to Horus' talon, but worse was to follow. Despite the best efforts of Valdor and his fellow Custodians, they could not overcome the unnatural might of Horus. Only the Emperor was able to defeat His rebellious gene-son, but the victory came at a terrible cost. Horus' powers shattered the Emperor's body, leaving him a ruined husk. The Master of Mankind would be consigned to the Golden Throne forever more, its sustaining technologies keeping him on the threshold of life. So enthroned, His immense psychic power continues to guide and protect the loyal people of the Imperium -- should he ever perish, Mankind would surely follow soon after. Constantin Valdor resigned the Captain-Generalcy to his successor soon after, his final fate unknown.
- The Apollonian Spear - Believed to be crafted by the hand of the Emperor Himself and once wielded by His own hand in battle as far back as the Unification Wars during which He rose to power on Terra, the Apollonian Spear was given to Valdor upon his accession to the mantle of Chief Custodian, and it has served no other since. Like the signature armament of the Custodian Guard, it incorporated both a Power Weapon and built-in Bolter, though in both cases these were of a potency far exceeding those even the Emperor's other elite carried into battle.
- Custodian Armour
- Iron Halo
- Digital Lasers
- Plasma Grenades
- Krak Grenades
- Codex: Adeptus Custodes (8th Edition), pp. 6, 9-11, 20, 30, 36
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions (Artbook), pp. 29, 236-241
- Imperial Armour Volume One - Second Edition: Imperial Guard, pg. 148
- The Horus Heresy - Book Seven: Inferno (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 14, 20-25, 28-29, 35, 41, 46-48, 50-53, 57-61, 63-64, 68, 101, 116, 256-257
- Nemesis (Novel) by James Swallow
- Tales of Heresy (Anthology) edited by Nick Kyme and Lindsey Priestley, "Blood Games" by Dan Abnett
- Prospero Burns (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Master of Mankind (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Forge World Webstore - Constantin Valdor, Captain-General of the Legio Custodes