"Lord Emperor, Father Sanguinius. We confess our unworthiness. We are unfit to stand in your name. Our blood is weak, our victories failures. In death, we repent."
- — Astorath the Grim, offering a final benediction for his stricken brothers before carrying out his grim duty
The Death Company is a specialised unit that is unique to the Blood Angels Chapter of Space Marines and all their Successor Chapters. Its members are consumed by a permanent, debilitating psychosis known as the Black Rage, which is an inherent risk for any Astartes who bears the Blood Angels' gene-seed.
Every warrior in their ranks is a boon on the battlefield, possessed of righteous strength and holy fury. Yet once the storm of war passes, madness and execution are all that await these tormented souls, driven past redemption by the curse in their tainted blood.
An Angel Falls
During the height of the galaxy-spanning rebellion known as the Horus Heresy, the epic climatic battle took place during the Battle of Terra in the early 31st Millennium between the Forces of Chaos, led by the Warmaster Horus, and the Loyalist armies of the Imperium of Man led by the Emperor of Mankind Himself.
Many Legions claimed absolute loyalty and reverence for their Primarch fathers, but few were as fervent in their adoration as the Blood Angels, and none had their master stolen from them in such a way -- even the Iron Hands, who had lost their lord to the daemon-claimed Fulgrim, knew nothing of the pain felt by the IX Legion when Sanguinius faced the Archtraitor Horus alone aboard his flagship Vengeful Spirit, and fell to the Warmaster's unholy Talon.
With the slaughter of their gene-sire by the very vessel of the Ruinous Powers, the Blood Angels Legionaries suffered a psychic backlash that wracked their very souls, burning an irreversible mark throughout their genetic coding.
When the dust settled in the decades after the Siege of Terra, the mighty Space Marine Legions were broken into 1,000-Astartes Chapters and granted autonomy from Imperial authority. Among the Blood Angels and their new Successors, it became increasingly apparent that their Primarch's death had left a last imprint that no Chaplain could have predicted, and no Sanguinary Priest could cure.
Opposing the Red Thirst -- that bloodlust that beats in the heart of every Son of Sanguinius -- their new curse was a more solemn and spiritual malady. The condition goes by several names, including the Fate, the Primarch's Curse, and the Chaplain's Vigil. But most Blood Angels know it by a bleaker title, spoken in whispers on the eve before a battle.
They call it the Black Rage.
The Primarch's Curse
Alone among the Space Marines Chapters, the Blood Angels and their Successors possess an intrinsic genetic awareness of their Primarch's last moments in the skies above Holy Terra. Such was the ferocity and psychic virulence of Sanguinius' murder that the emotional echoes of that dark deed still swim through the blood of his genetic descendants, even ten thousand standard years later.
And time has not been merciful to the Angel's sons -- the Black Rage bites deeper with every generation, stealing more warriors' minds with each passing century. Many of the warrior-philosophers born of Sanguinius' bloodline consider the Red Thirst and the Black Rage as two sides of the same coin: one afflicting the mind, the other blighting the soul.
However, resisting the pull of the Red Thirst confers a strength in its own right; for in rising above their baser urges and eternal bloodlust, the Blood Angels are forever focused on girding their souls against the temptations of Chaos.
The Black Rage offers no such hope. A Blood Angel in the grip of the Primarch's Curse is damned in the most literal sense -- all that awaits him is death in battle, wearing the colours of sacred mourning as he fights in a maddened frenzy beneath the watchful gaze of a skull-faced Chaplain.
There is no cure. There is no recovery.
The Lamenters Chapter were once thought to have conquered the curse through the diligence and tech-genius of its Apothecaries -- only for stories to circulate at the close of the 41st Millennium that the Black Rage has returned tenfold after their flawed attempts to cleanse it from their gene-seed.
The Templars of Blood do not organise those that succumb to the Black Rage into a formal Death Company. Those Astartes of this Chapter that lose the struggle with their common Flaw are left to die alone in combat. Once a Chaplain starts to notice the tell-tale look in a Battle-Brother's eyes that bespeaks the soon-to-arrive loss of control, he performs a benediction in the name of Sanguinius and the Emperor of Mankind before taking away all of the Astartes' wargear save for his Combat Knife and his Power Armour.
Should the Space Marine suffering from the Flaw survive the following combat, his company's Captain is required by Chapter tradition to honour the Battle-Brother for his exemplary service to the Emperor before executing him outright. However, the number of Astartes within the Templars of Blood who actually fall to the Black Rage is unusually low for a Blood Angels Successor Chapter, a fact that has not escaped the notice of the Inquisition or the Blood Angels.
No one knows exactly how the Templars of Blood have managed to keep the Flaw at bay. Those who think well of the Chapter, a number which includes the Blood Angels, believe that it is because of their devotion to the Emperor and Sanguinius as well as a display of iron will that is remarkable even amongst Astartes. However, the Templars of Blood's growing number of detractors prefer to believe that the Chapter's seeming immunity has its origin in a far darker secret.
In ten thousand long, long years, only a single soul has "returned" from the Black Rage: the Blood Angels Librarian Calistarius; now called Mephiston -- named the Lord of Death for conquering the limits of mortality. After falling to the Flaw and allowing himself to be clad in Death Company black, Calistarius fought in the defence of Hades Hive during the Second War for Armageddon.
Some archives state that he was buried alive for seven solar days and seven solar nights beneath a collapsed Ecclesiarchy building, others conflict with that account, citing that the severity of his wounds show beyond doubt that he died beneath the rubble, and was restored by some miracle of transmogrified gene-seed.
Whatever the truth, Calistarius rose stronger -- both physically and psychically -- somehow having banished the Black Rage from his blood. If the former tale is true, then it might be possible for warriors of supreme will and psychic strength to fight through the Flaw.
If the latter is true, then a darker precedent has been set: to overcome the Black Rage, a Blood Angel must die within its grip, and pray for a resurrection that may have been nothing more than mythic misunderstanding.
The Black Rage begins with visions, with dreams of bloodshed and battle that stir the warrior's senses and linger within his mind beyond the hours of slumber. Soon, they press on the Space Marine's mind during his hours of meditation, training, and battle, painting the palette of his mind with memories of wars he never fought, and the faces of brothers that died thousands of Terran years before he was born.
Rigorous focus and mental training can suppress the onset of these waking nightmares, but the process can never be entirely halted. Once the Black Rage begins to take hold, degeneration is inevitable. It can take solar minutes, hours, days...in some rare cases, even decades, but the path always leads to the same fate.
The Black Rage boils through the sufferer's mind, infusing his senses with the mythic moments of Sanguinius' shattered past. His eyes and heart lie to him, but it is a glorious lie. Every enemy, be they alien or mutant or Heretic, all blend into a vision of the Traitors that set fire to Holy Terra. The brothers at his side are the heroes and fallen champions of that ancient age.
Soon enough, the afflicted Blood Angel is lost to all reason, needing to be restrained in his frothing blood-madness, and living only to kill the enemies of the Emperor. No longer will he train and serve with his former squad. He is surrendered into the care of the Reclusiam, bound to take to the battlefield in ritually blackened armour.
From that day forward, he fights as one of the Death Company. Death in battle inevitably follows; with no ability to follow tactics or heed the intricacies of a commander's battle plan, the warriors of the Death Company charge in a howling tide, bound -- even if only temporarily -- by the inspiring wrath-chants of their Chaplains. As in so many matters of Adeptus Astartes spirituality, it is the Chaplains that play a key role.
For many Blood Angels, the descent into the Black Rage is a sudden plummet, as brutally, tragically quick as opening one's eyes and seeing all truth warped into a long-dead legend returned to life. It is only through the never-ending vigil of the Chapter's warrior-priests that a degree of control can be maintained.
Even a berserk, delusional fury can be guided by the fervent oratory and leadership of a skilled Chaplain. In this way, the Death Company's insane rage is harnessed into a potent weapon; if they are destined to lay down their cursed lives, it will at least be in the defence of Mankind.
Just when and where these fevered hallucinations will strike can never be predicted, but the Chapter's Sanguinary Priests and Chaplains spend their solemn lives seeking any signs of taint among their rank-and-file brethren. It is common for the creeping sickness to be noticed on the eve before a battle, when the Blood Angels gather in prayer with their Battle-Brothers, and speak the Litanies of Hate before their watching Chaplains.
Every warrior kneels before their spiritual guardians, answering for the state of their soul and speaking their oaths of devotion to their brothers in the coming battle. Any slurred words or disorientation are marked by the overseers. If a Blood Angel is judged to be on the edge of succumbing to the Black Rage, he is withdrawn from the ranks as though he carried a contagion.
From that night on, his fate is sealed. In times of peace, he will be imprisoned in the Tower of the Lost within the Chapter's fortress-monastery on Baal, crying out his torment under the eternal watch of Chaplain guardians. And in times of war, he is clad in the black of loss and sorrow, seeking to cleanse the stain on his soul by achieving death in righteous battle.
On the Field of Battle
"Treat them with honour, my brothers. Not because they will bring us victory this day, but because their fate will one day be ours."
- — Astorath the Grim, Blood Angels High Chaplain
No Blood Angels commander treats his Death Company brothers with careless abandon. This is perhaps unsurprising, given the soulful nature and humanity inherent in the hearts of Sanguinius' sons. In accordance with the Chapter's merciful temperament, the Death Company are rarely deployed to be lost in useless sacrifice.
They are a tactical asset like any other, but more than that, they are a vision of an inevitable fate: every Blood Angel will one day wear the same black ceramite and charge alongside a chanting Chaplain while lost to the delusions of a mythic age. Battle-Brothers that have already fallen to such a doom are treated with respect and honour. "It is our duty," an ancient Blood Angels litany goes, "to know the difference between the doomed and the damned."
This is far from a universal truth among the Successor Chapters. More than one of the Blood Angels' kindred bloodlines are known to take a much harsher, punitive attitude to their battle-lost brothers, hurling their Death Companies into the fray with no concern for their lives and using them as a blunt instrument to break enemy front lines no matter the cost.
Flesh Tearers officers have displayed such merciless disregard many times across the span of millennia, as have the Chaplains of the Angels Numinous, the Flesh Eaters, and now-extinct Chapters such as the Golden Sons and the Crimson Legion. Every Death Company is marked by unpredictability, not least because of its warriors' melancholic madness.
When these doomed Space Marines take to the battlefield, they are usually armed with a motley assortment of wargear -- each Blood Angel bears the weapons he wielded among his former squad, so Bolters are almost as common as Chainswords. Ranking officers will bring more sacred, relic weapons such as Thunder Hammers or Power Swords, but no matter how a Death Company is equipped, they can be relied upon to tear their way through the enemy in a loose phalanx of enraged warriors.
Chapters with a less reverent attitude to their afflicted brethren frequently field Death Companies equipped with Jump Packs, hurling their black-clad brothers into the heart of the enemy army to inflict terrible punishment while the rest of the Space Marines strike force moves to capitalise on the foe's disorder.
And while many Chapters consider a benevolent perspective regarding the lost souls of a Death Company, every Blood Angels Successor Chapter can point to countless listings in their fortress's archives, citing darkly glorious last stands where these warriors in black died fighting insurmountable odds, so that the rest of the force could achieve its objective. As bleak as such a sacrifice can be, such is the burden of service in the End Times. Only in death does duty end.
For all the darkness of this curse flowing through the bloodstreams of the Angel's descendants, the Black Rage offers a certain mournful glory to those in its thrall. All sensation, all pain, is stolen from their flesh; Death Company warriors will wade through volleys of gunfire that would force even Veteran Space Marines to their knees, and fight on despite the loss of limbs and the rupture of vital organs.
Every virtue of vitality and strength within the gen-hanced soldiers of the Adeptus Astartes is magnified in these doomed Blood Angels. More than one loremaster has speculated that their Primarch's infinite nobility shines through in his sons' bleakest hours, allowing them to meet death with at least the shadow of dignity.
True enough, once the fighting is over and their fevered imaginings finally clear, many of the Death Company will finally collapse from their wounds, as their fading madness no longer sustains their broken bodies. Those who survive, for better or worse, are bound by their brothers -- either in chains or in stasis pods -- and returned to the Tower of the Lost, destined to scream the agonised death-echoes of Sanguinius' doom, until they are released to do battle in black once more.
In the darkest times the Black Rage has taken an entire strike force. Though this is incredibly rare, the spiritual sickness has been known to sweep through the minds of dozens of Battle-Brothers at once like a shadowed wind, leaving madness in its wake. If any remain untouched it falls to them to lead the rites of anointing. Sometimes there are none left to sanity, and the freshly forged Death Company must guide itself.
The few times this has happened have grown into dark legends within the Chapter. The Blood Angels Strike Force Exsanguine succumbed to the Black Rage in its entirety on the eve of the Aurorious landings. None living know what transpired in the hours before the Battle-Brothers emerged from their Drop Pods -- only that when they met the Aeldari warhost on the glittering slopes of Aurorius, a madness had spread through them like a spiritual contagion.
In an avalanche of ceramite and howling Chainswords, the Blood Angels hurled themselves into the pale ranks of the aliens, hacking apart their lithe bodies in showers of blood and gore. Even the heavy xenos guns failed to slow the Space Marines' advance, searing bolts of plasma and streams of monofilament rounds merely tearing off chunks of armour and muscle.
It had been the intention of the Blood Angels to clear and hold a landing zone for the armies of the Imperium to follow, but such was the fury of the Death Company that the Aeldari line buckled and broke before them, entire formations of Guardians annihilated by the sudden brutality of their foes.
It took five full solar days for the Aeldari forces to rally and destroy the Astartes strike force, but by that time they had been all but wiped out in their turn, having suffered horrendous losses in each engagement.
- The War of Broken Wings (261.M33) - A unified armada of vessels drawn from the Night Lords Legion and its myriad allies assaults the Angels Sanguine's battlefleet in high orbit above the world of Anzyra. The Angels Sanguine, fighting for their homeworld and the very survival of their Chapter, are pressed into a defensive battle to prevent mass bombardment of their fortress-monastery. To end the engagement, which records list as several solar days of protracted void war and boarding actions, the Angels Sanguine force a final resolution by offering the perfect bait: they allow their flagship, the Cruor Domina, to be crippled and boarded by hundreds of enemy Traitor Marines. While the Space Marines defend the Battle Barge to keep it from being taken as a prize by the raiding Night Lords, a full three hundred Death Company warriors are sent by boarding torpedoes to slaughter their way through the vulnerable crews of eight enemy capital ships, including the renowned Lies of Dawn of the Foresworn, and the Brotherhood of Darkness' warship Sightless Godling. The Angels Sanguine have always suffered fiercely from the Flaw, and such an assault represented a standard century's worth of prisoners within their fortress-monastery's Tower of the Lost being unleashed into battle one last time. Without Chaplains to lead them, the Death Companies were sacrificed in desperation, with no hope of recovery. It turned the tide. Suddenly, at risk of losing many of their own flagships, the Traitor warbands fought their way back to their own vessels, only to be cut down by the enraged defenders as they turned their backs and fled. Those Traitors that managed to return to their own ships were met with entire decks left as abattoirs by the rampaging Death Companies, and were forced to contend with the blood-maddened boarding parties even as they ordered their ships back from the primary assault.
- The Ghost War (811.M37) - During the long years of the 7th Black Crusade, the full might of the Blood Angels Chapter falls upon a vast Black Legion warband on the world of Mackan. Although the conflict ultimately ends in the near-extinction of the Blood Angels at the hands of Abaddon the Despoiler and his primary lieutenants -- the Sorcerer-lord Iskandar Khayon and the swordmaster Telemachon Lyras -- the Blood Angels Reclusiarch Thalastian Jorus becomes one of the few Imperial heroes to ever land a blow against the Warmaster of Chaos. With his Chapter devastated, the Chaplain endures solar weeks of hardship in the wilderness and the constant trials of keeping his crazed warriors undetected on Mackan. When the time is right, Jorus leads his Death Company in a lightning raid behind enemy lines, butchering the unprepared sworn warriors of the Despoiler's honour guard, and allowing the Reclusiarch to lock blades with Abaddon himself. It is said the Warmaster still bears the scars of that battle, even three millennia later. Whatever the truth of the matter, it is known that the Despoiler honoured Jorus once the war was over -- perhaps in mockery, or perhaps with nothing but sincerity. After Mackan, thousands of Blood Angels corpses were desecrated, their gene-seed ruined beyond recovery. Of all the Chapter, only a handful of bodies were left undefiled: Reclusiarch Jorus and his Death Company, clad in their battered and broken black ceramite, seated in makeshift thrones made from the armour of those Black Legion warriors they had killed on that fateful night.
- At Gaius Point (998.M41) - Not every incident involving the Death Company rings with morbid honour. Many are not even victories at all. During the Third War for Armageddon, the Order of the Argent Shroud bear full witness to the Flesh Tearers committing atrocities against Imperial citizens at the world of Gaius Point, when the Chapter's warriors breach the human militia's barricades and turn their blades on the very souls they were sent to protect. Soon enough, reports reach the Inquisition and the Adeptus Terra that the Flesh Tearers are a dangerous, unstable threat, and that their Chapter must be purged at once, and any survivors declared Excommunicate Traitoris. No Imperial agent sees what comes next: the reckoning demanded by the Blood Angels and their Successor Chapter cousins. Warriors from several nearby Chapters approach the Flesh Tearers' commander, Gabriel Seth, demanding an answer for the apparent transgression. Gaius Point marks one of the rare, sad instances of Astartes brother lying to brother in the name of survival, as Seth lays the burden of blame on his Death Companies. In speaking this lie to save his Chapter, he damns the Flesh Tearers' Death Companies to lives of even deeper revulsion, as even other Blood Angels Successors consider them tragic mongrels in sore need of execution, in order to keep their bloodline's darkest secret.
- The Shield of Baal (998.M41) - News reaches Baal that the Cryptan Shield, intended to hold back the might of Hive Fleet Leviathan, had collapsed. Already Lord Commander Dante had put plans in motion to defend the Blood Angels' homeworld, strike forces fighting hit-and-run battles with the Leviathan's smaller splinter fleets throughout the Red Scar. Meanwhile, the defences of Baal and her moons have been bolstered like never before; indomitable fortresses rise above the sweltering sands, and the might of the Blood Angels' Successor Chapters gathers from across the galaxy. Yet still it may not be enough, for the Tyranids are seemingly without number, and Hive Fleet Leviathan is learning the weaknesses of its prey at an exponential rate. Knowing that the consumption of the Cryptus System would open the floodgates for an unstoppable Tyranid invasion of Baal, Commander Dante takes action. At the head of a mighty strike force that comprises the 1st and 2nd Companies of the Blood Angels, Brother Corbulo, Captain Arenos Karlaen, Chief Librarian Mephiston and the bulk of Gabriel Seth's Flesh Tearers, Dante strikes out for the Cryptus System. He will see the defences shored up if such a thing is still possible, and if not will do battle with the Cryptoid Tendril directly in a desperate bid for the salvation of Baal. The invasion of Tartoros, cursed innermost world of the Cryptus System, would fall to Dante's Death Company, designated Strike Force Mortalis. It is a rare and fearsome thing for so many Death Company to be gathered together, the black-armoured warriors mad with rage and lost in their own insane delusions, seeking only the death of their enemies and their own glorious demise. Strike Force Mortalis would rip its way through the broods of hulking beasts that stalked the burning plains of Tartoros, their fury and madness driving them on under the guidance of their Chaplain. Though ultimately they would all receive the blessed gift of death they so craved, their mission was successful, and their sacrifice was not in vain.
- Diamor Campaign - Defence of Amethal (999.M41) - As Dante's forces made all speed through the Warp to return to bolster the defences of their Chapter homeworld, they received word from High Chaplain Astorath the Grim that a new threat had emerged in the Diamor System -- an invasion by the Forces of Chaos that could undermine the defences of the Cadian Gate. Already the High Chaplain was en route at the head of the Blood Angels' 5th Company, but greater strength would be required to defeat the traitorous foe. With a heavy heart, the Lord Commander despatched the Blood Angels' elite 1st and 2nd Companies to help bolster Astorath's force. As the two companies translated into the Diamor System, they were momentarily delayed by unknown forces. This delay saved them from sudden damnation, as the 5th Company, which arrived earlier, had been struck by Warp sorcery of some kind. The malefic attack struck at the heart of the 5th Company, causing the entirety of the company to fall to the effects of the Black Rage. Only Astorath and Death Company Chaplain Daenor, the other Chaplains on board and their Librarians -- those with psyker training or psychic defences -- survived. The rest had fallen to the Blood Angels' genetic curse. It unleashed sheer bedlam aboard the vessels of the 5th Company. First Captain Karlaen immediately despatched the Chaplains of both the 1st and 2nd Companies, as well as the Sanguinary Guard, to aid the beleaguered survivors and bring their fallen under control. Having succeeded at this task and determined the wider strategic situation in the star system, the Blood Angels wasted no time in launching their attack. They could not do so quickly enough, for it seemed as though the enemy's plans were well advanced. Crimson Slaughter warbands were present at all of the primary Mechanicus Hubs on the world of Amethal. The secret that the Black Legion sought, and that the Adeptus Mechanicus were in a race with them to seize, lay deep beneath the surface of Amethal. It was the Banshee Stone, an ancient crystalline cage for the infernal creatures of the Warp, a weapon to dwarf the Damnation Cache that had slipped through Abaddon's fingers on Pandorax. And, according to the divinations of Chaos Lord Xorphas and his followers, it was full to the brim. It required only the correct ritual to be broken open, at which point the sudden release of so many Warp entities would tear a gaping wound in reality itself. In the brutal and bloody fighting that followed, the Death Company sustained appalling casualties, losing over ninety percent of its afflicted Battle-Brothers, and Chaplain Daenor took terrible wounds when he confronted the infamous Khorne Berzerker known as Khârn the Betrayer in single combat. The loss of the Death Company brothers was acceptable, for it had always been their destiny to perish in selfless battle, and they had sold themselves as dearly as they could. In the end, Astorath extracted Daenor and the remaining afflicted brethren from the surface of Amethal, as the commanders of the 1st and 2nd Companies continued the fight against the Sorcerer Chaos Lord Xorphas. Eventually, the Blood Angels seemingly foiled his machinations. But whether true victory had been attained by the Blood Angels remains to be seen, for the Banshee Stone is full, and its cage is cracking.
Notable Death Company Members
- Death Company Chaplain Lemartes - Lemartes is a Chaplain and the warden of the Blood Angels' infamous Death Company. Under his guidance, the Death Company has reached a new level of potency and lethality. Though Lemartes himself is afflicted by the curse of the Black Rage, his formidable willpower has allowed him to remain in control of his actions, leaving him free to lead the Death Company in glorious charges that eclipse all the deeds of legend. Lemartes is also known as the "Guardian of the Lost." His stern voice can cut through even the battle frenzy induced by the Black Rage.
- Death Company Chaplain Arophan - Among a company of madmen, the Chaplain Arophan was a beacon of sanity. It fell to Arophan to guide the Death Company of Strike Force Mortalis during the Cryptus Campaign, his litanies and prayers the thin thread that would direct the doomed warriors toward their foes. As befits his rank, Arophan carries the Crozius Arcanum and wears the skull mask common to the Chaplains of the Adeptus Astartes. The only aspect of Arophan's armour that shows his allegiance to his Chapter is his shoulder plate, his sombre black armour fitting for his role as the final guide for his lost brothers. Equipped with a Jump Pack, Arophan keeps pace with his Battle-Brothers, his crozius held high above his head. Everything about Arophan speaks of his duty to his Chapter, and even though his brothers are doomed to die, it falls to Arophan to help them find absolution and an end in the carnage of battle.
- Death Company Chaplain Daenor - Chaplain Daenor has battled his way through some of the most horrific battles in the Blood Angels' history. Never once has his composure failed him. Never once has he succumbed to the Flaw, and this alone is enough to have seen him elevated to the rank of Death Company Chaplain. No matter how dire the circumstances or dread the foe, Daenor's icy composure never cracks. Moreover, his deep spirituality and natural leadership qualities do much to steady the warriors around him. He is a light in the darkness, a beacon of hope and fortitude amongst the smoke-wreathed hell of the battlefield, and even the most lost of his brothers follow his lead without question.
- High Chaplain Carnarvon - Carnarvon was the High Chaplain (Master of Sanctity) of the Flesh Tearers Chapter of Space Marines. He served as the warden of that Chapter's infamous Death Company. He was called the "Watcher of the Lost," for he was the lone Flesh Tearer entrusted with the sacred duty of commemorating every member of the Chapter who died in combat or ultimately succumbed to the debilitating psychosis known as the Black Rage. He alone bore the terrible responsibility to watch over the remaining 400 Battle-Brothers of the Flesh Tearers Chapter for the onset of the Black Rage. He had occupied the position for nearly 250 standard years and it was whispered by many that the strain of watching so many of his friends and comrades descend into this dreaded affliction had started to take its toll on his sanity. Carnarvon had the final word as to who was to be inducted into the Flesh Tearers' Death Company and who amongst these afflicted brethren must be permanently incarcerated in the Tower of the Lost because they had fallen so far into madness that even he could no longer control them. During the Devastation of Baal, Carnarvon ultimately succumbed to the Red Thirst and was inducted into the Death Company where he perished in battle with the forces of Hive Fleet Leviathan.
- Captain Erasmus Tycho - Erasmus Tycho was the legendary Captain of the Blood Angels' 3rd Company, and was once Lord Commander Dante's chosen successor to become the next Chapter Master of the Blood Angels. Half his face was destroyed by an Ork Weirdboy during the Second War for Armageddon. This mutilation affected his psyche, and made him wear a mask over the injury. He constantly thirsted for revenge against the Orks who wounded him. His ire was such that he was almost uncontrollable away from the battlefield. Unfortunately, he eventually succumbed to the Black Rage and was inducted into the Death Company. He finally attained the Emperor's Peace when he died seeing action during the Third War for Armageddon.
- Sanguinary Priest Aerati Lamentarios - A sacred guardian of the Chapter's gene-seed, like Arophan, he has a part to play in the redemption of the Death Company, and when they fall -- for fall they must -- he will be on hand to recover the gene-seed using his Narthecium, allowing the Chapter to recoup a measure of its strength from those taken by the Black Rage. Brother Lamentarios was sent by Dante to support Arophan as a part of Strike Force Mortalis during the Cryptus Campaign. A formidable warrior in his own right, Lamentarios would follow the Death Company into the slavering maw of the xenos swarm, his white armour a beacon of light among the sea of black ceramite. And when his brothers finally fell atop the bodies of their foes -- as surely they would -- Lamentarios would be there to make sure their essence was not lost.
- Brother Ephalos - Ephalos had struggled for many solar decades with the Black Rage, feeling a piece of his soul being flayed away in every battle by the mayhem of war. When he lost his left eye to the Ork Warboss Ripgutz, slaying the beast even as it clawed at his face, the shadows over his mind began to darken. By the time Ephalos was called upon to defend the Cryptus System the Black Rage had taken hold of him. He now fought a different foe, born in the recesses of his mind. When Ephalos landed on Tartoros it was not the spawn of the Hive Mind he saw, but instead Traitor war engines of old.
- Brother Helorius - The Flesh Tearers' genetic flaw leads to a high proportion of their Battle-Brothers falling to the spiritual sickness of the Black Rage. On Lysios, during the Cryptus Campaign, dozens of brothers like Helorius would succumb when the madness of battle finally unhinged them, robbing them of their reason. When Helorius was taken by the Black Rage his armour was painted black and symbols were daubed upon his shoulder plates and weapons in an ancient and sacred ritual. This was to show Helorius' new status as one of the damned, so that others might bear witness to his sacrifice.
- Brother Rafarri - Brother Rafarri was a Tactical Marine of the Blood Angels 2nd Company, and though he has blackened his armour he retains the weapons and wargear of his previous life. However, dozens of details signify the hold the Black Rage has upon his mind; blood drops and crimson saltires cover his armour, while even his Bolter bears the iconography of the Death Company. Purity seals are commonly seen on Battle-Brothers fallen to the Black Rage -- even more so than on normal Space Marines -- and Brother Rafarri adorned his armour with many of these sacred honours.
- Helstern, Brother of Blood - A Death Company Dreadnought who fought in Strike Force Mortalis during the Cryptus Campaign against Hive Fleet Leviathan. Like his fellow Dreadnoughts, Helstern was born of a tale of madness and earth, falling in battle and preserved in adamantium, and even then fighting on through countless battles to the honour of the Chapter, only to succumb to the Black Rage. Trapped within his sacred armoured tomb, there is no peace for this warrior, only an unending and unrelenting eternity of war.
- Metaphaes, the Fury of Ages - A Death Company Dreadnought who fought in Strike Force Mortalis during the Cryptus Campaign against Hive Fleet Leviathan. Meaphaes fought alongside Helstern and Purgerius, turning the tide of battle on the scorched plains of Tartoros, their rage driving their massive claws and heavily armoured forms against the living war engines of Hive Fleet Leviathan in the battle for the Cryptus System.
- Moriar the Chosen - Moriar the Chosen is a Death Company Dreadnought of the Blood Angels Chapter. Once known as Morleo Moriar, a Blood Angels Company Captain, he fell in battle on the planet of Clamorga, yet so great were Morleo's deeds that he was stabilised by the Blood Angels' Sanguinary Priests and placed within the shell of a Furioso Dreadnought. Unfortunately, almost immediately after being awakened, he began to experience the visions of Sanguinius during the Horus Heresy and succumbed to the Black Rage. However, Moriar survived the mental brutality of the curse and now fights alongside the Blood Angels as a Death Company Dreadnought known as Moriar the Chosen. It is rumoured that in his new form, Moriar has been claimed by the Red Thirst and that the Blood Angel armourers have modified his Dreadnought chassis so that he can quench his thirst for blood. Thus, he became the Death Company's only Dreadnought -- an almost unstoppable force in battle.
- Purgerius the Forgotten - A Death Company Dreadnought that fought in Strike Force Mortalis during the Cryptus Campaign against Hive Fleet Leviathan. Purgerius fought alongside Helstern and Metaphaes on the scorched plains of Tartaros, helping to turn the tide of battle. It is both a terrible and glorious thing to be a Death Company Dreadnought -- always striving for a worthy death in battle, but instead only finding more battle and carnage upon a field already littered with the dead of centuries.
The armour of the Death Company is predominantly a sombre black, with details picked out in red -- the reverse of the standard Blood Angels Chapter Colours. All Blood Angels Successor Chapters that maintain a Death Company, with the exception of the Templars of Blood, use the same black colours as their progenitor Chapter, save for the Angels Encarmine, whose Death Company and Sanguinary Guard are both an alabaster white, with black shoulder trim and backpack.
The origins of using the colour black traces back to the latter days of the Great Crusade. When the Red Thirst first began to manifest itself amongst a handful of Blood Angels Legionaries, they would quickly be dealt with -- honoured for their service and then summarily executed, either by the Primarch himself, or Azkaellon, the commander of the IX Legion's Sanguinary Guard.
The slain Battle-Brother would then be laid in honourable repose as a slab of inkstone from the night deserts of Baal Primus was passed over the dead warrior's armour, blotting out the crimson colour with a layer of glistening, smoky black.
The manner of the Battle-Brother's death would be forever lost to the Legion's chronicles, the existence of the growing Flaw within the Blood Angels' genetic structure kept secret. The fallen warrior would finally be able to find peace, resting in the company of death.
All the various Death Companies of the Blood Angels and their Successors have blood-red saltires painted on portions of their battle-plate, to symbolise the wounds of their beloved Primarch Sanguinius after he was slain by Horus during the climax of the Horus Heresy at the Battle of Terra.
Like other Blood Angels the Death Company usually wear their Chapter symbol on their left shoulder plate. In keeping with their inverted colours, this is displayed in white.
Saltires, the red crosses, represent the death wounds of the Primarch Sanguinius. Saltires are often placed on shoulder and knee plates but can also be found on other parts of the armour.
The blood drop remains a potent symbol for the Death Company. These symbols and tokens are often trimmed in gold and painted a deeper red to make them stand out.
Parchment and Purity Seals
The Purity Seals and parchment record the deeds of the Battle-Brother so they are not forgotten when he joins the Death Company.
Unlike normal Blood Angels, the weapons of the Death Company Astartes are painted red instead of black -- this gives them a stronger contrast against their black armour.
Relics of the Lost
Relics of the Lost are items of incredible rarity and power, each a piece of wargear once borne by a legendary hero of the Blood Angels Chapter who succumbed to the Black Rage:
- The Reliquary Armour - A grim memorial to the mortal sacrifices of the Death Company, the Reliquary Armour is decorated with the bones of Lost Brothers. Only the greatest of heroes are commemorated in this way, and it is a tragic indictment of what has been lost to the Flaw that the armour still bears the bones of over thirty different Chapter heroes. It is said that the strength and determination of those mighty warriors is conferred to the wearer of this macabre armour, along with their burning desire for vengeance upon the Imperium's foes. The wearer of the Reliquary Armour becomes a grim and unstoppable figure upon the field of battle, his presence reminding the Blood Angels of the losses they have suffered, the sacrifices their heroes have made, and the unending duty they have to honour those sacrifices in blood.
- The Guardian's Blade - The Guardian's Blade is a powerful Glaive Encarmine. This ancient sword was crafted at the height of the Blood Angels Legion's power, and is said to have once belonged to the personal armoury of Azkaellon himself. After the IX Legion divided, and Azkaellon vanished from Chapter records, The Guardian's Blade was passed to only the most worthy heroes of the Blood Angels -- until one day its former bearer fell to the Black Rage and died in service as a Lost Brother. After this tragedy, the sword was interred in the Forbidden Armoury and issued in sorrow only to the afflicted heroes of the Death Company. The Guardian's Blade is famed for its powerful razor-sharp edge, which can cut through the most robust armour in the galaxy. Those foes that face its wielder cannot hope to stop the sword from cutting them down.
- The Blood Shard - A strange spiritual energy flows from the crimson gem known as the Blood Shard. It fills the Blood Angels with a ferocious desire to tear their foes limb from limb. Accordingly, the Blood Shard has a dark reputation. Some even say that it is a distillation of the curse, that the flecks of blood within the stone were scraped from Sanguinius' armour at the very hour of his death and contain all the bitterness and soul-rending hatred of that moment. Yet it is the perfect tool to deploy amongst the ranks of the Death Company, for the Lost Brothers infused with its energies simply become more deadly than ever when caught up in its aura of uncompromising wrath.
- Baal's Vengeance - Baal's Vengeance is a Hand Flamer equipped with a unique and deadly payload. It sprays forth a highly radioactive fluid, distilled from toxic underground lakes beneath Baal's post-apocalyptic surface. Victims find their flesh boiling within their armour, teeth dropping from rotting gums and bones blackening and warping in the intense radiation. Mere proximity to this lethal substance is a death sentence, but this does not concern its wielder, who is cursed with death no matter what weapon he carries.
- Fyrestorm - When the trigger of this masterwork Inferno Pistol is pulled, microgenerators around its barrel project an arcane energy tunnel down which the weapon's super-heated fury is channelled. Created in the Chapter's distant past by the finest Blood Angel artificers, the weapon is said to embody the wrath of Baal's lethal star. A shot from Fyrestorm leaps out like a lance of fire, leaving a searing line of light in the air as it connects with its target. Armour vaporises in microseconds. Flesh and blood explode into ashen clouds. Complex machinery is reduced to glowing remnants. As the beam from Fyrestorm dies away, all that remains of its victim is a blackened husk.
- The Gilden Crozius - It is said that, in the eyes of the Lost Brothers, the Chaplains of the Blood Angels Reclusium appear as glowing golden figures whose words of command cut through the madness of the Flaw. He who wields the Gilded Crozius has a greater effect still upon his lost brethren. The mere presence of this weapon and its wielder seems to redouble the valour and determination of the Death Company, driving them on through wounds that should spell their bloody end. Some have called this miraculous. Others -- servants of the Inquisition most of all –- look upon it with deep suspicion. Whatever their true nature, there can be no denying that the energies that spill from the Gilded Crozius drive warriors on to the extremes of endurance and beyond.
- Black Crusade: Angel's Blade (7th Edition)
- Blood Angels Painting Guide - Sons of Sanguinius, pp. 36-49
- Codex: Adeptus Astartes Blood Angels (7th Edition), pp. 37-40, 75-78, 100-101, 108-109, 125-128, 133-134
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 33, 55-56, 121, 127-129, 131-133, 135, 255, 320, 322, 324, 326, 328, 330, 332, 334, 336, 338, 352, 360, 366, 415, 470-472
- Codex: Blood Angels (4th Edition), pp. 8-9, 12, 15, 18
- Codex: Blood Angels (3rd Edition), pp. 6, 10, 13, 19, 21
- Codex: Angels of Death (2nd Edition), pp. 21, 29, 49, 55, 86
- Deathwatch: The Achilus Assault, pg. 54
- Index Astartes - Death Company (Digital Edition), pp. 2, 4-8, 9-12
- Shield of Baal - Exterminatus (7th Edition), pp. 187, 233-236, 238-247
- Fear to Tread (Novel) by James Swallow
- At Gaius Point (Short Story) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Torturer's Thirst (Novella) by Andy Smillie
- Angels of Death - The Fury (Short Story) by James Swallow
- Advent Day Nine - Astorath The Grim: Redeemer of the Lost (Short Story)
- Advent Day Sixteen - Gabriel Seth: The Flesh Tearer (Short Story)
- The Devastation of Baal (Novel) by Guy Haley, pp. 380-384, 385, 425-435, 440-443, 493-496, 497