"You shall not enter, I bar the way. I am the walls, I am the tower. I am the bastion, the moat. I am the ward, I am the keep! I am the gate. I am the gatekeeper. This way is shut."
- — Crimson Castellans Catechism of Resolve
The Crimson Castellans was a Loyalist Space Marine Chapter of unknown origins and Founding. The Crimson Castelans became embroiled in a civil war between the members of their own Chapter after a portion of their brotherhood turned to Chaos.
However, the Chapter, both Loyalist and Renegade factions, was largely destroyed in 993.M41, when the Tyranid Hive Fleet Jormungandr unexpectedly descended upon the world of Sephrax where the Loyalists were battling their Renegade brethren.
The Chapter's homeworld of Vorl Secunda was subsequently abandoned due to the outbreak of a mysterious illness known as the Grey Phage, forcing the Crimson Castellans to become a fleet-based Chapter. Later, the Loyalists of the Chapter were forced to defend the world of Ector in the Valedan System during their decennial recruitment ritual from a simultaneous assault of a splinter fleet of Hive Fleet Kraken and the main body of Hive Fleet Leviathan. It is unknown at the present time whether the Chapter still exists in some form in the wake of the conflict on Ector.
Hive Fleet Jormungadr
In 993.M41, a portion of the Crimson Castellans was somehow corrupted by Chaos and turned Renegade, becoming a piratical warband of Chaos Space Marines. The Loyalist Castellans hunted their corrupted brethren down on the Hive World of Sephrax. But while they were engaged in battle, the Tyranid Hive Fleet Jormungandr unexpectedly descended upon the world and forced both sides to lay down their animosity to defend themselves against the swarms of bloodthirsty Tyranids that threatened to destroy the world and both groups of Astartes.
However, the Hive Fleet's sheer numbers soon overwhelmed all the combatants. The Crimson Castellans Chapter Master Sojai Antiro died in the bowels of the underhive of Hoventa Hive alongside his 1st Company Veterans, growling his defiance with his last breath even as Tyranid Raveners encircled him and tore him to bloody shreds.
The Renegade Crimson Castellans' leader, the pirate and self-styled "Arch-Commodore" Bloodspite, fled with the remainder of his forces to the lair he had established in an asteroid in orbit of Sephrax. But the asteroid and its defenders were ultimately swallowed by a Hive Ship of truly enormous size. The Crimson Castellans' Chapter homeworld of Vorl Secunda was abandoned shortly thereafter, following the outbreak of a mysterious affliction known as the Grey Phage.
Defence of Ector
There have been times when the starfaring Tyranid bio-fleets have fallen afoul of Warp Storms, never to appear again. The splinter fleet of Hive Fleet Kraken that was sent head-long into the Empyrean by the Aeldari Seers of Craftworld Iyanden had an even stranger fate.
Its bio-ships later emerged from a dimensional rift into the Valedan System (known to the Aeldari as the Dûrien System), deep in the Segmentum Solar. The splinter fleet had crossed the span of the galaxy in a matter of standard years. Worse still, it had emerged right in the path of Hive Fleet Leviathan. At this time, the Crimson Castellan Space Marines were conducting their Landing of the XIV Ascension upon the Hive World of Ector.
This was the Chapter's recruitment rite, which tradition and obligation demanded they undertake across five selection worlds every ten standard years. Yet, in the midst of this important event, Valendan's Astropath Prime Hostor Mazurn detected the first signs of the Shadow in the Warp. The coming of a Tyranid Hive Fleet is preceded by a smothering psychic signal that envelops entire star systems and disrupts all forms of Warp travel and communication.
This disruption heralded the imminent invasion and horror that was about to confront the Valedan System. It was suspected by the Crimson Castellans that this Hive Fleet was in fact a branch of Hive Fleet Leviathan. It would enter the system periphery within a solar week. They plotted its course as best they could, and believed it would fall first upon the world of Daea, then Megus, Valedor and Ector in turn.
Regrettably, the Crimson Castellans knew that the star system was already lost. They could not hope to hold the Tyranids in space, for there were too few warships in the system to mount a workable counteroffensive. There was also no time to gather sufficient reinforcements to repel them. Informing the world's Planetary Governor of their findings, they prepared for the inevitable destruction of all life and consumption of the planet's biomass.
At most, the best the Crimson Castellans could do, was lay their defences and attempt to hold back the Tyranid onslaught to evacuate as much of the population as time and resources allowed. Only seven hundred thousand out of a population of forty billion people could be saved. All Imperial servants of the higher orders were to be saved. The remainder were drawn from the women and children only, no exceptions.
This was done by a random lottery, allowing everyone an equal chance, or else the planet's population would be killing one another before the xenos arrived. To compound matters, it was brought to the attention of Brother-Sergeant Yoth, the Commander of the Crimson Castle of Ector by local Adeptus Arbites authorities that there was possible xenos bioforms sightings in the deepest reaches of the underhive.
Taking the threat seriously, Brother-Sergeant Yoth and Senior Enforcer Schreck were led into the dank depths of the underhive by a pair of failed Neophytes. Guiding the two Imperials into the tenebrous depths, they encountered a Lictor, a Tyranid scout bioform, which brutally slew the Enforcer and nearly killed Schreck. Fortunately for the humans, they received assistance from an unexpected arrival. A small cadre of Aeldari warriors slew the Lictor with their advanced Shuriken Weapons.
The leader of the Aeldari introduced himself as Isarion the Dispossed, an agent of the Hand (Asurmen, the Hand of Asuryan, the so-called Phoenix King, and most powerful deity of the Aeldari pantheon). He explained that he had no quarrel with the humans, and the Aeldari were on the planet to help fight against their common foe. The Crimson Castellans were known to be highly xenophobic, and Brother-Sergeant Yoth was quite wary of trusting anything that the Aeldari had to say. After making his explanations, Isarion and his warriors disappeared as mysteriously as they had arrived.
While the Crimson Castellans and the inhabitants of the world prepared their defences as best as they could, Astropath Prime Mazurn detected the presence of another Hive Fleet en route towards Ector, the leading edge of the splinter fleet of Hive Fleet Kraken that had arrived in the system through a dimensional rift. There was little time to redeploy the world's defence grid, for much of the planet's orbital weaponry had been moved to the sunward side of the planet, which was the expected approach vector of Hive Fleet Leviathan.
Against the Kraken, coming from the other side of the world, Ector's depleted defensive stations and war satellites held but briefly before collapsing. The Kraken soon enveloped the world of Ector like a hand, as multiple tendrils encircled the globe. By this time, Brother-Sergeant Yoth reported the findings of his exploration of the underhive to Brother-Captain Raankin, explaining that they had encountered a Lictor, but the beast had been slain. He also informed the Space Marine Captain of his encounter with the Aeldari.
Yoth vowed to hunt down the notoriously devious xenos and wring the truth of their true purpose from their scrawny necks himself. Informing Yoth of a second Hive Fleet that was rapidly approaching the planet, Raankin countermanded Yoth's desires and ordered him back to the surface. Now was the time when the Crimson Castellans would test their mettle against the Great Devourer.
The scouring of the northern pole by the Tyranids took five solar hours. After this, there was no living thing larger than a snow hyrax above the planet's fiftieth parallel. The few human installation were overrun, the fires of their demise glittering upon the carapaces of a billion Tyranid creatures. With one purpose, the Great Devourer turned south. By the ninth evening of the battle, the forces of the Kraken came upon Hive Valentis, the Ice Spire, the most northerly of all Ector's city-peaks, and the smallest.
The lottery for the refugees fleeing the doomed planet was over. Those not chosen to flee their homeworld were ready to fight, propaganda broadcasts booming out of city-wide Voxes constantly, extolling their duty to the Emperor and to instill devotion to their purpose. All would fight or else all would die. At the Fire Control Center of Valentis Hive, Brother Karsikon made ready the hive city's numerous artillery and heavy weaponry emplacements. When the chitinous horde of the Tyranid swarm made their rapid approach towards the hive city, Karsikon ordered the bombardment of the swarm.
For two solar hours the guns rained a hellish barrage down upon the Tyranids. Ceasing fire after the third hour of the bombardment, Karsikon wished to see what it had accomplished. The first wave of bioforms had been utterly destroyed. But there would be others.
Seven solar weeks passed and the Crimson Castellans' vigilance did not cease. After the first attack they had been expecting the Tyranids to mass immediately for a second, larger assault. From what Brother-Captain Raankin said, their tactics were unsubtle but brutal. Karsikon was disturbed by this. It was at this time that he discovered the reason for xenos' delay. Multiple contacts were detected approaching the Crimson Castellans' position. The enemy was now at elevation.
This new wave of Tyranids was on the Space Marines and their allies in only minutes after their detection, streaking through the cold dawn of Ector. This Tyranid horde was composed of bioforms all outfitted with wings. Some were truly exceptional in size, Harridans with broods of Gargoyles clustered at their bellies. The Tyranids were testing their defences. This was the true attack. The Defence Lasers lit the swarm red, scores of searing energy beams striking lines of Tyranids burning from the sky. But the horde moved very fast, far faster than the terrestrial creatures that had composed the first onslaught.
Tens of thousands were slaughtered, but the creatures did not falter. They closed the range quickly. Shortly after, the screams began as the hideous chittering swarm assailed the ramparts of Valentis. Informing Brother-Captain Raankin of the hive's dire status, before signing off, Karsakon communicated his intentions to die a glorious death. Grimly, Raankin wished Brother Karsakon to meet the Emperor with honour. Within only hours Hive City Valentis fell, and all the remaining hive cities of Ector fell to the Great Devourer only a few solar days later.
With the help of Isarion and his Aeldari cadre, Chaplain Gorth, Brother-Sergeant Yoth and the two failed Neophytes, a handful of Crimson Castellans managed to make good their escape from the doomed world aboard a Thunderhawk gunship. The Aeldari soon disappeared (presumably through a Webway portal) as mysteriously as they had come.
The Crimson Castellans also managed to evacuate the majority of their Chapter Serfs and human auxilia. But despite the Castellans' heroic efforts, the world of Ector had fallen to the Tyranids, another casualty in the seemingly endless war of Mankind against the Great Devourer.
Chapter Combat Doctrine
The Crimson Castellans are masters of defensive warfare. They play to their strengths, as all wise warriors must. During the defence of the Valedan System from a splinter fleet of Hive Fleet Leviathan, they focused all their efforts on devising ranged kill patterns far superior to any that could be conceived by the mortal men of the Imperial Guard. Their efforts, largely focused on ambush tactics that assured an extremely high kill ratio, in which every Astartes traded his life for hundreds, if not thousands, of Tyranid bioforms.
Though the indigenous Imperial forces thought, at first, that the Crimson Castellans were cowards for hiding rather than facing the foe head-on as they had done, their opinions quickly altered once they witnessed the devastation wreaked upon the foe by their Astartes defenders.
Even so, the Planetary Defence Forces of the Valedan System lived longer than could be expected in the face of such an implacable foe through the aid of their Astartes allies. The time for meeting the Tyranids in savage melee eventually came, but not before the Crimson Castellans had rebalanced the scales a little in their favour through the use of such defensive-minded tactics.
The Crimson Castellans were recruited from many different worlds, ever since the Grey Phage laid waste to their homeworld of Vorl Secunda and forced the Chapter into space. The Landing of the Ascension was the name given to the recruitment rite of the Crimson Castellans Chapter by its Space Marines.
Tradition and obligation demanded they undertake five selections every ten standard years. If the Chapter failed to gather enough worthy Aspirants on one world, they would move on to the next world, and then the next, until they had recruited sufficient Aspirants, but only when the Reclusiarch or the Chapter's Master of Recruits decreed that their quota could not be fulfilled.
As a spacefaring Chapter, this right was carried out on a number of vassal worlds within the Valedan System. During the final process of selection of potential novitiates, all mortal onlookers were to remain silent as the Crimson Castellans demanded; no congratulation or cheer would be offered until the final selection was made, on pain of death. Not for their Chapter the picking of an individual here, another there.
They considered the quality of brotherhood above all others, and looked for it amongst their chosen. The Crimson Castellans believed that those who did not save a comrade were serving themselfes. Men who fought as one so that none fell served all. The Crimson Castellans prized loyalty and solidarity above all other qualities.
On every world the Crimson Castellans deigned to garrison there was a Crimson Castle. For long stretches of years the castles were mostly empty, as the Crimson Castellans were wont to spread their brothers and their men-at-arms across the worlds they protected. Often times, these garrisons contained only twenty or so Battle-Brothers along with their human servants. Higher-ranking Chapter Serfs ate with the brethren, at the same table, for such was the way of the Chapter.
All endured simple fare as the rule of the Crimson Castellans demanded, protein-laced mulch of high nutritious value and little taste. Their singular luxury was their wine, which they drank from plain granite goblets. Many Chapters sought perfection outside of war in one way or another; however, the Crimson Castellans chose to be vintners, viticulturists and oenologists. They did little else.
Following their selection, the prospective Aspirants would be brought forwards to the great hall to undergo the initiation ritual and become Neophytes, and to get their first taste of the grapes of the Chapter's sacred vine. This ritual consisted of the Aspirants being fed gallons of wine laced with pseudo-hormones that would catalyse their transformation into Space Marines by activating their gene-seed.
Recruited from many worlds, each Crimson Castellan Battle-Brother bears the look of his native planet, but each was also in likeness to his brothers: tall and powerful, a giant among ordinary men. But it was in the eyes that their kinship was most apparent.
These brothers born of a dozen star systems had eyes that were all the same: yellow, the colour of morning sunlight streaming through good, pale wine. Many mortals never noticed the other physical differences. The eyes were what people remembered of the Crimson Castellans. This Chapter is also noted for being highly xenophoboic.
Notable Crimson Castellans
- Chapter Master Caroman - Current Chapter Master of the Crimson Castellans.
- Chapter Master Sojai Antiro - Previous Chapter Master of the Crimson Castellans, Sojai Antiro died in the bowels of the underhive of Hoventa Hive on the Hive World of Sepherax while engaging Renegade elements of his Chapter. But while the Crimson Castellans were engaged in battle, the Tyranid Hive Fleet Jormungandr unexpectedly descended upon the world and forced both sides to lay down their animosity to defend themselves. Antiro died fighting alongside his 1st Company Veterans, growling his defiance with his last breath even as Tyranid Raveners encircled him and tore him to bloody shreds.
- Reclusiarch Gorth - Reclusiarch of the Crimson Castellans and overseer of the Chapter's recruitment process. Gorth was a grim character, short-tempered and dour, but possessed of a hidden love of coincidence and portent that could, on occasion, verge on the ironic.
- Captain Raankin - Master of Recruits of the Crimson Castellans Chapter, Captain of the 10th Company and Holder of the Key of the Ebon Tower. Of them all, it was Raankin who bore the most responsibility in the choosing of potential recruits. Raankin died during the defence of Ector from the onslaught of the Tyranid invasion.
- Sergeant Yoth - Commander of the Crimson Castle of Ector. He was one of only a handful of survivors of the Tyranid onslaught on Ector.
- Sergeant Philodon - Standard Bearer of the garrison banner of the Crimson Castle of Ector. Unlike his brethren, his crimson armour was mostly hidden beneath a white and gold surplice and hood. Tradition demanded it be so, and so it was.
- Andruk - Brother Andruk served the Crimson Castellans for over six decades before answering the call of the Deathwatch and taking his Apocryphon Oath at Watch Fortress Erioch. It is well that Andruk departed his parent Chapter when he did, for him and for the Deathwatch both, for the Crimson Castellans appear to have changed drastically since the Battle-Brother's days, becoming something he would barely recognise eighteen years later when, having discharged his first oath, he returned to its home world of Vorl Secundus. Andruk never once spoke of what transpired upon his first return to his parent Chapter, but whatever it was, he was soon back at Watch Fortress Erioch making his second Apocryphon Oath. Brother Andruk was known as a dour and taciturn individual, in many ways at odds with the demeanours of his Battle-Brothers in the Lux Veritatis. Some hold, however, that such a balance of natures was necessary and presented one of the main components that made the Kill-team as successful as it was. Andruk rarely spoke, even when directly addressed, yet when he did, his words cut straight to the heart of whatever was being discussed. His wisdom was much sought after, though he never explained how he had come into the often highly esoteric knowledge he seemed to have amassed over the years. Though he was not possessed of the powers of the psyker, Brother Andruk spent time with the Librarians of the Deathwatch and was known to have provided sage counsel to the incumbents of the Tower of Brass on several occasions. What knowledge a Space Marine might have that would cause an Inquisitor to seek him out remains but one of the countless mysteries that surround the Lux Veritatis.
The Crimson Castellans primarily wore crimson Power Armour. The power pack was black. The Aquila or Imperialis on the chest was silver. The black squad specialty symbol -- Tactical, Assault, Devastator or Veteran -- was indicated on the right shoulder plate. A white Roman numeral centred on the squad specialty symbol indicated squad number. The colour of the shoulder plate trim indicated company number in accordance with the Codex -- i.e. White (1st Company), Yellow (2nd Company), Red (3rd Company), etc.
The Crimson Castellans' Chapter badge was an ebony castle tower, with a large, white human skull centred over it upon a field of crimson.
- Adeptus Astartes: Successor Chapters (Limited Release Booklet), pg. 25
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pg. 30
- Codex: Tyranids (5th Edition), pp. 27, 30
- Deathwatch: The Emperor's Chosen (RPG), pg. 70
- The Last Days of Ector (Novella) by Guy Haley