The Deathshroud were the elite Space Marines of the Death Guard Legion who served as the Primarch Mortarion's mute Honour Guard during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy. Great secrecy surrounded this elite cadre. Their numbers were chosen from amongst the ranks of the Death Guard Legion and each member was singled out and personally selected by their Primarch for the bravery and valour they had displayed in combat. Once chosen, the selected Battle-Brother would foreswear his former life as a common rank-and-file Astartes of the XIV Legion, and would swear binding oaths of secrecy as a new member of the secretive Deathshroud. Each member of the Deathshroud would be listed as killed in action to allay any suspicions as to their true identity, and they would forever conceal their faces behind heavy enclosed helmets, masks or hoods. Each Deathshroud Astartes' identity was known only to their Primarch himself, even after their deaths.
The Deathshroud wore Artificer-crafted Cataphractii Pattern Terminator Armour of the highest quality, which presented a foreboding appearance. Like their Primarch, each member of the Deathshroud wielded a large Power Scythe known as a Manreaper. It was the Deathshroud's sacred duty for at least two of their number to never stray more than forty-nine paces from Mortarion. These stoic warriors' presence was quite intimidating as when not in motion they would stand uniformly at attention, still as statues. But in battle they were equally frightening, for whatever the odds, they always moved inexorably towards their target, as unerring as the automated killing machines employed by the Legio Cybernetica. Their fate after the end of the Horus Heresy remains unknown.
In battle, when not fulfilling their role as bodyguards, Deathshroud squads consisting of two to ten members are typically used to assail the most heavily defended objectives and secure them for the advance of other allied forces. Deathshroud squads sometimes make use of Land Raiders as transports in order to achieve this role.
- Khorak - Veteran Sergeant Khorak and his squad had the privilege of serving as part of their Primarch's silent honour cohort during the Isstvan V Drop Site Massacre and as such took part in numerous counter-attacks against the first wave of the Loyalist assault. The most bitterly fought of these were against the leading edge of the Salamanders Legion attack, where pure flame met noxious chem-cloud in a confrontation that left many Death Guard, but many more Salamanders, slain. At the height of the massacre, Squad Khorak fought beneath the gaze of their Primarch himself, and were girded to redouble their bloody efforts and to redouble them again. In the face of such redoubtable power, not even the elite of the Legiones Astartes could stand.
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions, pg. 229
- The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal by Alan Bligh, pg. 263
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre by Alan Bligh, pg. 49
- Flight of the Eisenstein (Novel) by James Swallow, pp. 19-20, 30, 57, 59, 67, 72
- Forge World - Death Guard Deathshroud Terminators