The Death Shadows was a Renegade Chapter of Chaos Space Marines who were once a Loyalist Chapter of Astartes known as the Lionguard before they were corrupted in the 37th Millennium during their participation in the Abyssal Crusade. They were known to specialise in the use of sabotage and terror tactics against their foes.
In the late 41st Millennium, the Death Shadows withdrew to the Fortress World of Sybari after a disastrous campaign against the Ultramarines. Whilst in the planning stages of a retaliatory strike against their hated Loyalist foes, a tendril of Hive Fleet Behemoth invaded the Sybari System and consumed the planet. The warband took a heavy toll on the aliens, but despite that, the Death Shadows were still annihilated within a solar hour.
The Death Shadows were a formally Loyalist Chapter known as the Lionguard. Following the Ecclesiarchal Purges of 321.M37, a dozen star systems were engulfed by Warp Storm Dionys, its echoes rippling along the spiral arms of the galaxy as it raged through the Empyrean. Records of mutation and Chaos Cultist activity quadrupled overnight. Worse yet, it was not only the citizens who were affected by the sudden influx of Chaos.
Many of the Space Marine Chapters with homeworlds affected by the Warp Storm found that the secret imperfections in their gene-seed were writ large upon their new recruits, giving rise to a wave of disturbing manifestations both physical and psychological. The Lectors of Ixis were one such Loyalist Chapter of Astartes that had been affected by these Warp Storms.
When the Ecclesiarchy heard of this sinister tum of events, Saint Basillius the Elder demanded that all those Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes whose homeworlds had been touched by the Warp Storm be rendered unto his judgement. Such was the elder's influence with the High Lords of Terra that within a standard year this had come to pass. After a series of stringent tests and prognostications, hundreds of Chapters were deemed unaffected by the Warp Storm.
No less than thirty were found wanting. The Judged, as these fallen Chapters came to be known, volunteered for a redemptive Penitent Crusade. The most militant of their number demanded the right to purify their tainted flesh in the fires of battle, to make a noble end from tragic misfortune. To the surprise of his closest advisors, Saint Basillius agreed to this proposal. He saw it fitting to send the accused into the Eye of Terror, taking the fight for the Imperium's future to the Daemon Worlds inhabited by the Traitor Marines.
A representative from each of the doomed Chapters held an emergency Council of Dismay to discuss the proposed Crusade. After scant hours of debate, they acquiesced to Basillius' demands, for they believed that martyrdom was preferable to an existence of suspicion and doubt. The last few days of 321.M37 saw a solemn procession of Strike Cruisers and Battle Barges pass through the Cadian Gate into the Eye of Terror, relay systems dormant and heraldic colours obscured by black mag-plates.
One by one, the Chapters of The Judged disappeared into the iridescent dust nebulae that surrounded the Eye. As the massive Space Marine flotilla entered the Eye of Terror, they were set upon by a massive Chaos warfleet. The resultant battle was so fierce that the ships of The Judged were forced to retreat and were scattered to the furthest corners of the Eye.
The true account of what occurred within the Eye to the Lionguard Chapter is unknown, but most of the tales of the Chapters of the Judged ended in tragedy and sorrow. By the time they reemerged from the Eye many centuries later, the Lionguard were no more, they were now the Chaos warband known as the Death Shadows, wholly dedicated to Chaos Undivided.
- The Sybari Slaughter (753.M41) - The Chaos Renegade warband known as the Death Shadows musters at Sybari in preparation for a secret strike against Ultramar. They are isolated when the Shadow in the Warp envelops the system, and their warlord, the Sorcerer Malafor, is driven to insanity by the Tyranids’ psychic presence. Leaderless and in the midst of preparing for an assault of their own, the renegades are unprepared to defend Sybari from the swarm. Though they reap a high tally, the entire warband is annihilated in less than an hour.
- Invasion of Ultramar (999.M41) - The Invasion of Ultramar occurred when a large Chaos warband known as the Bloodborn invaded the Ultramarines' Realm of Ultramar, headed by the Iron Warriors Warsmith Honsou and the Daemon Prince M'kar the Reborn, both servants of the Ruinous Powers who had sworn revenge against the Ultramarines for the past wrongs they believed had been done to them. This Chaos invasion occurred roughly concurrently with Abaddon the Despoiler's 13th Black Crusade in 999.M41, though the Bloodborn's invasion was not officially a part of the Black Crusade's forces. The Bloodborn were comprised of a large following of multiple Chaos warbands and rogue regiments comprised of both Planetary Defence Forces and Imperial Guardsmen. These throwaway troops were used as cannon fodder during the Bloodborn's initial assaults. The rest of the Bloodborn's elite forces were comprised of Chaos Space Marine warbands which included the Death Shadows, the Apostles of MinthRas, the Skulltakers and the Claws of Lorek. The Death Shadows were not a part of the Bloodborn themselves, and unlike the other Chaos warbands and Iron Warriors detachment, they were not often seen fighting alongside the Bloodborn's main forces. It appears to be that some members of the Death Shadows had indeed survived the Slaughter at Sybari or could have been operating some place else.
Notable Death Shadows
- Malafor - Sorcerer Malafor was the leader of the Death Shadows. During the Sybari Slaughter, Malafor's sanity was burned through the signals of the Shadow in the Warp. Malafor's life was then ended with that of his warband by the Tyranids.
- Loven Valstor - Loven Valstor is a Chaos Champion and a former member of the Death Shadows warband. During his early years he clashed repeatedly with his unit’s commander whose cautious tactics limited Valstor’s potential as a new Chaos Sorcerer. He was scouting the periphery of the Realm of Ultramar when Hive Fleet Behemoth fell upon the Death Shadows’ base of operations. In the wake of this great disaster, Valstor lost contact with the rest of his warband. Rather than seek them out, he saw the opportunity to finally push the boundaries of his power and began to seek out those who could instruct him in the real secrets of the Warp. Although he has had contact with no other Death Shadows since the time of the First Tyrannic War, Valstor knows his warband is too strong and too subtle to have been shattered. Somewhere they bide their time and will re-emerge. When that happens, Valstor intends to be ready; he will return bristling with the power of the Empyrean to claim his rightful place high in the Death Shadows' ranks. Valstor currently serves the Daemon Prince of Slaanesh known as Seiyr the Bereft within the fell area of the galaxy called the Screaming Vortex, one of two massive Warp Storms which separate the Calixis Sector of the Imperium from the Koronus Expanse in the Segmentum Obscurus.
The Death Shadows wear dark blue Power Armour with black, hooded robes.
This Renegade Chapter has no known individual badge, but its Heretic Astartes wear the usual blasphemous Chaos icons and fetishes to denote their allegiance to the Dark Gods.
- Black Crusade: Game Master's Kit (RPG), pp. 8-9
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pg. 19
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pg. 20
- Codex: Tyranids (6th Edition), pg. 16
- Imperial Armour Volume Thirteen - War Machines of the Lost & The Damned, pg. 73
- The Chapters Due (Novel) by Graham McNeill