The Excoriators are a Codex Astartes-compliant Loyalist Chapter of Space Marines who are a Second Founding Successor Chapter of the Imperial Fists. An ancient tome of knowledge known as the Mythos Angelica Mortis lists them as one of the twenty Chapters of Astartes founded to make up the Astartes Praeses, an ever-vigilant Space Marine task force assigned to guard the regions of the Imperium surrounding the Eye of Terror. The Excoriators' Chapter homeworld is Eschara in the Segmentum Obscurus.
The Excoriators are a Successor Chapter created during the dark days of the Second Founding from the genestock of the Imperial Fists. This was done in recognition of the stalwart defence of the Imperial Palace carried out by a group of Imperial Fists during the Battle of Terra, which earned them the right to be recognised as a separate Chapter when the reforms made to the Imperium after the Horus Heresy required that all the Space Marine Legions be broken up into separate Chapters for the sake of Imperial security. The ancient tome of knowledge known as the Mythos Angelica Mortis lists the Excoriators as one of the 20 Chapters of Astartes founded to make up the Astartes Praeses, an ever-vigilant Space Marine task force assigned to guard the regions of the Imperium surrounding the Eye of Terror. Their duty of garrisoning the sectors bordering the Eye of Terror was never easy. Servants of the Dark Gods were ever ready to test the mettle of Excoriators bastions, gauntlets and cordons, and with recent misfortunes the numbers of battle-brothers holding such precarious boundaries were dwindling.
- The Defence of Certus-Minor (Unknown Date.M41) - The entirety of the Excoriators' 5th Company was lost in garrisoning the Imperial Cemetery World of Certus-Minor against the predations of the Chaotic Cholercaust Blood Crusade. Certius-Minor lay directly in the path of the Keeler Comet, an ancient blood-red comet whose strange route out of the Eye of Terror embodied the will of the Chaos God Khorne, leading the Traitors, Heretics and daemons of the Cholercaust across the stars in a celebration of slaughter for the Blood God. That was until the comet appeared in the skies of the tiny Ecclesiarchy Cemetery World in the Praga Sub-sector. The 5th Company did request reinforcement from the rest of the Chapter but had little expectation of its arrival in time to make a difference. The 5th Company sent long-range astrotelepathic requests to the regiments of the Imperial Guard's Viper Legion at Hellionii Reticuli, the 2nd Company of the Novamarines Space Marine Chapter stationed at Belis Quora and the Angels Eradicant Chapter at Port Kreel. They even sent a message to the Vanaheim Cordon where Imperial forces had gathered to face the oncoming Cholercaust, in full knowledge of its futility, for the Imperial Fists, Exorcists and Grey Knights Astartes stationed there would not leave the line of defence for fear that the Keeler Comet and the trailing Cholercaust Crusade might resume its progress on towards Terra. The Adeptus Astartes contingents stationed at Vanaheim would never leave the sacred soil of Terra open to attack to help defend a tiny Cemetery World. The Excoriators' Battle Barge Certius attempted to reach the Cemetary World to answer their Battle-Brothers' call and halt the progress of the Cholercaust, but they were delayed by strange Warp currents in the wake of the crimson Keeler Comet. Much to the 5th Company’s dismay, their commanding officer, the disgraced Corpus-Captain Zachariah Kersh, ordered them to make a defiant last stand against the invaders, and stranded his forces on the world by sending their Apothecary and their crippled Strike Cruiser the Angelica Mortis to a nearby Forge World out of the comet and the Blood Crusade’s path, taking the 5th Company's precious gene-seed with it to be used to create future generations of Excoriators after they had been slain. Kersh commanded less than half of a full company of Astartes as well as an Imperial Guard regiment of Certusian Charnel Guard against a legion of Chaotic Traitors, daemonic Bloodletters and Khornate Berserkers. Despite the odds, Kersh formulated a plan worthy of the Chapter's ancestors who had defended the Imperial Palace during the Battle of Terra, and he led a bold last stand by the Imperial defenders at Certus-Minor's capital necropolis of Obsequa City. The weight of the Khornate assault far exceeded even Kersh’s estimates, and things began to look grim for the Imperial forces. The doomed 5th Company faced their inevitable deaths at the hands of the Forces of Chaos, and in desperation sent a last, prayerful plea to the Emperor of Mankind for assistance of any kind. For a miracle. Beyond all hope, their prayers were answered. The Blood God's butchers soon became the butchered as they were completely wiped out by the timely intervention of the mysterious Astartes who called themselves the Legion of the Damned, whose mysterious vessel (more than likely the Fire Hawks' ancient Void Fortress Rapturous Rex) unexpectedly arrived to destroy the Keeler Comet which took much of the Cholercaust's warfleet with it. Yet the price was high, as all the Space Marines of the 5th Company valiantly lost their lives in the effort, save for their commanding officer, Corpus-Captain Zachariah Kersh. Kersh would go on to become Chapter Master of the Excoriators after this pyrrhic victory.
- 13th Black Crusade (999.M41) - The Excoriators fielded 8 companies against the Forces of Chaos during the 13th Black Crusade.
The Excoriators are regarded as a Codex Astartes-compliant Chapter, as their organisation, order of battle and tactical operations adhering closely to the tenets laid down in that most sacred of tomes to the Adeptus Astartes. There are, however, several noteworthy and substantial deviations from the Codex's prescribed doctrine. Most notable among these deviations are the use of certain honourific ranks and titles within the Chapter in place of the standard Space Marine ranks, which include the following:
- Vanguard or Honoured First (the Veteran 1st Company)
- Chapter Scourge (Chapter Master’s Champion)
- Santiarch (High Chaplain)
- Lord Apothecary (Senior Apothecary)
- Corpus-Captain (Captain)
- Chief Whip (Senior Veteran Sergeant)
- Veteran Squad Whip (Veteran Sergeant)
- Squad Whip (Sergeant)
- Second Whip (Sergeant, Assistant Squad Leader)
- Helmscarl (Thunderhawk Pilot)
- Co-Helmscarl (Thunderhawk Co-Pilot)
Chapter Combat Doctrine
The Excoriators are a fairly pragmatic Chapter of Astartes, for they seek to cause maximum attrition amongst the foe while minimising their own casualties by any means necessary. Fluidity, timing and technique are all subservient to the Excoriators' simple, primordial desire to be the last men standing in any fight. To them, survival is everything. Magnificence with a Bolter or blade is worth little to the dead. Not for them the Imperial Fists’ bombastic last stands or the Black Templars’ relentless advance and indiscriminate purges. Given that their Chapter has managed to survive and thrive in such close proximity to the Eye of Terror, this approach to warfare has seemed to work quite efficiently for them for the last ten millennia.
The Excoriators' focus on resilience is such that it becomes a form of psychological warfare. When their Power Armour is damaged, the Chapter's Artificers will only repair it to the point of restoring functionality. Superficial things like scrapes, pitting, dents and small craters are ignored, and each Astartes will have the date, place and type of weapon that caused the damage carved in High Gothic next to the damage. Most Excoriators looks like they just travelled through the most hellish of places, and lived to speak of it. This is extremely demoralising to any foe who stands before them, for their appearance indicates that they have already survived far worse -- and lived to eliminate the foes of the Emperor.
Like other Successor Chapters of the Imperial Fists, the Excoriators have a morbid fascination with pain and ritual scarring. They too, possess their own unique Chapter traditions. Most notable of these are the "Rites of Castigation" and "Donning Dorn’s Mantle," the latter of which involves ritual mortification of the flesh, particularly about the neck and shoulders. When there is a breach of protocol or a laxity in their duties, an individual Battle-Brother or his entire squad may be punished by being forced for several days to forgo this ritual observance, as they are considered unfit to don the mantle of Dorn due to their dishonour. The Excoriators believe that union with the Primarch through pain is a privilege and should be denied to those whose actions have proved unworthy of his ideals. To ensure the punished adhere to their commanding officer's orders, a Company Chaplain oversees the implementation of this punishment and makes sure that none of the reprimanded Battle-Brothers seeks to find solace in pain.
Another sacred Chapter ritual is known as the Trial by the Blade. If an individual Battle-Brother has a personal grievance with a fellow Astartes or even one of his superiors, he has the right to demand to settle such a dispute through the solemn contest of a duel. Once this right is invoked by the accuser, it must be answered in kind by the accused, as only the company's Chaplain or the Chapter's Reclusiarch can call off or postpone such a duel. Such duels are usually fought with ceremonial weapons retained in the individual company's Chapel-Reclusiam, but in certain circumstances, the duel can be carried out with whatever weapons are at hand. As all Excoriators are equal in Dorn’s sight, victory goes to the warrior who draws first blood. However, as the Excoriators focus on resilience, no matter how grievous the wounds taken by either opponent, first blood can only be drawn from the face, and the duel will not end until one of the contestants manages to strike his opponent's visage. Once a clear winner is decided by the Excoriators Chaplain overseeing the contest, both Battle-Brothers will indicate their understanding and the matter is considered settled. Once the winner has been declared by the Chaplain, the loser will ritually renounce his claim or the cause of the grievance that had initiated the Trial to formally end the duel, and put a definitive end to the Trial by the Blade. The time and place of the Trial will then be recorded in the Chapter's sacred records. For the loser of the Trial, the Chapter will honour his scars as he now will honour his opponent with vindication.
The Excoriators take great pride in the facial scars they earn through self-mutilation, a practice eerily similar to the World Eaters Traitor Legion's practice of the "Triumph Rope," or Lucius the Eternal's early ritual scarification of his face. However, the Excoriators take this practice to a whole new level, in that they do not concern themselves with just the wounds of the flesh. Scratched in High Gothic lettering, adorning each nick, sword slash and bullet hole on their Power Armour are inscriptions. Their battle-plate is often covered in such markings, with each gouge and las-burn bearing its own notation, dates and location where these battle honours were earned in glorious combat. The ebon-coloured script stands out boldly on the Chapter’s cream-coloured Power Armour. In a similar fashion, when a Battle-Brother dies in glorious combat his body is laid out as Chapter custom dictates, with all the horror of his battle wounds on display.
When still a Neophyte, an Excoriator's flesh has yet to be deemed worthy of the lash; and no dents, rents or craters yet mark his Power Armour, which his Battle-Brothers revile as the ignoble sheen of combat virginity. Neophytes are trained with the Gladius, but not deemed worthy of wielding a full Adeptus Astartes Chainsword or Power Sword, nor to partake in honor-duels until they attained the full rank of Space Marine. The machete-length and cleaver-like cutting blade used by the Chapter's Scout Marines, referred to by Squad Whips as a "Scout’s-only-friend" is still a graceful taker of lives, despite being looked down upon by the full-fledged Battle-Brothers.
The Excoriators are pious, zealous and uncompromising Astartes who have a deep and abiding faith in the Emperor of Mankind and their Primarch Rogal Dorn. This Chapter is known to perform small forms of religious observance in their daily tasks. When saluting a fellow Battle-Brother or before going into battle, an Excoriator often recites the ritual prayer, Dextera Dornami, which loosely translates from the High Gothic as the "right hand of Dorn." Then they form a fist with their right gauntlet before touching their forehead with one knuckle, then their lips and then their breastplate—one Astartes heart, then the other. When a subordinate Battle-Brother is in the presence of a superior officer, they often times perform an impromptu salute by kissing their right gauntlet out of respect for the officer's esteemed rank. Even Excoriator Chapter serfs and bondsmen perform this ritual salute.
It should be noted that though the Excoriators venerate the Emperor as more than a man, like most Space Marines they do not believe that he is divine. An Excoriator Astartes does feel the love of their genetic father Rogal Dorn, as Dorn felt the love of his, the Emperor. The Emperor's loss during the tragic events surrounding the Horus Heresy lives on within the souls of those Excoriators afflicted by Dorn's Darkness. The Excoriators believe that the fear felt by Mankind's ignorant masses have transformed the Emperor into a God. The Excoriators despise the Ecclesiarchy and those weak and foolish "mortals" who in their trillions need the Emperor to be more than he truly is. The Excoriators know that the Emperor was only a human being. An exceptional and extraordinary human being, perhaps the most extraordinary who has ever lived, but still only human. The Emperor's deeds are his own and the Excoriators Chapter aspires to emulate his greatness and example—not appropriate it, mythologise it and worship it as a shield against a galaxy filled with doubt, dread and pain. For the honour of the Emperor, the Excoriators are willing to make any sacrifice.
Feast of Blades
As an Imperial Fists Successor Chapter, the Excoriators are known to take part in the Feast of Blades. This tradition was established and first presided over by Rogal Dorn himself, immediately after the Battle of the Iron Cage with their mortal enemies, the Iron Warriors Traitor Legion, on the world of Sebastus IV. Dorn wanted to foster brotherhood between the various Imperial Fists Successor Chapters that resulted from dividing his Legion during the Second Founding. To maintain Chapter relations, the bonds of brotherhood were to be strengthened and tempered through routine competition. Tradition has it that the Feast is a centennial tournament where each of the participating Chapters presents ten of their finest champions. A series of individual fights are scheduled and fought, until only one clear winner remains. The Chapter that claims victory in the Feast is allowed to schedule another one before a hundred Terran years has passed, in order to further capitalise on their previous success.
The Feast of Blades serves its purpose. Many pacts are created and obligations honoured amongst the Sons of Dorn – but all Astartes are bred for victory. Reigning Chapters want to build on past triumphs so that their success will echo through eternity and catch Dorn’s approving eye or ear, wherever the Primarch might be. They call the Feast to best complement their advantage – the prowess of their champions and the perceived weaknesses of their opponent Chapters. Like any Space Marine Chapter, they want to win. The recent trials the Excoriators experienced may have been a factor in the Feast’s most recent calling. On occasion a Chapter could request another take its place due to unforeseen circumstances, but a fellow Chapter’s respect is hard won. The Feast of Blades is not, however, an empty exercise. Chapter relations often bear real fruit for Imperial security. During the 816th Feast, the Fire Lords Chapter sent some of their forces to relieve the Excoriators’ beleaguered 2nd Company at Celator-Primus.
- Dornsblade - The Dornsblade is an ancient and highly revered artefact of all of the Sons of Dorn. At the end of the Horus Heresy, Rogal Dorn purposely broke the blade he had used aboard Horus' flagship the Vengeful Spirit after it had failed to protect his beloved father, the Emperor. His second sword, the weapon which is referred to as the Sword of Sebastus or the Dornsblade, emerged with the Primarch from the Iron Cage. It is one of the Sons of Dorns' most revered artefacts, a weapon carried and used by the Primarch himself. The Chapter that wins the Feast of Blades has the honour of retaining the blade and the solemn duty of presenting it at the next Feast – the contest they will host one hundred years later. The Excoriators recently won the Dornsblade for the first time at the 816th Feast of Blades when their unexpected Champion, Zacariah Kersh, defeated the more favoured Champions of the Black Templars and the Imperial Fists. The Excoriators will now be allowed to retain the Dornsblade until they choose to call the 817th Feast of Blades.
- The Stigmartyr - The Stigmartyr was the Exocoriators' sacred Chapter standard. Rogal Dorn himself entrusted his sons – the current Excoriators' ancient Battle-Brothers – with the standard over ten thousand years ago during the Second Founding. It displayed the Second Founding’s decree and was threaded with the honours of every battle fought in the Chapter's long, bloody history. It carried the distinction of the Astartes Praeses and the Excoriators' service in garrisoning the Eye of Terror. It bore the Stigmartyr – the emblem that the Chapter adopted as its own - a scarlet gauntleted fist clenching the length of a thunderbolt-shaped scar. The standard was lost upon the world of Ignis Prime, when the Excoriators' Chapter Master Ichabod came to inspect the Excoriators' garrison there. The Alpha Legion waited in ambush and attacked the outnumbered Excoriators. In the ensuing melee, nearly the entirety of the Honoured 1st (the Chapter's Veteran 1st Company) was destroyed, with the sole exception of Brother Tiberias, as well as the entirety of Ichabod's inner circle, with the exceptions of Santiarch Balshazar and the Chapter Scourge Zachariah Kersh. Ichabod was severely injured, leaving him envenomed by an unknown poison.
The Excoriators believe themselves to be pure of heart but not of blood. As former members of the Imperial Fists Legion and now as a Chapter of their own, they are not alone in their experience of genetic deficiency. The Space Wolves and the Blood Angels, as well as the brethren of other Foundings, carry the flaws of their blood heritage on to new generations. The Excoriators are afflicted by a genetic curse known as Dorn's Darkness. When Dorn's Darkness takes one of their number it might appear to the untrained eye as merely a wretched palsy: a slackness of the jaw, a tremor of the limb, a blankness of the eye. But those who survive it report the experience as a living nightmare, a sleeping wakefulness in which they relive the bottomless woe of Dorn’s most trying time—the grievous loss of the Emperor during the Battle of Terra, at least as the ancient Astartes once knew him. This is both their Primarch's genetic blessing and a curse to his sons. It is to know the possibility—for even a second—of an Imperium without the Emperor. To feel what Dorn felt. The profound misery of a Primarch. The paralysing fear that even a man as great as Dorn experienced, for himself and for humanity, over the Emperor’s broken body after the end of his battle with Horus. Whilst enthralled by the Darkness, its victims cannot speak or communicate. They cannot feed themselves or take water and seem feverishly insensible to everything happening about them.
Those Excoriators who fell victims to the Darkness were left in the care of the Chapter's Santiarch, or Senior Chaplain. The Santiarch Balshazar offered the victims of the Darkness a spiritual treatment that either cured them or ultimately resulted in their deaths. He had the afflicted interred within a decorative stasis casket that was transported from the Chapter’s Reclusiam on Eschara. The casket was beaten from dull Adamantium and the box had the dimensions of a sarcophagus and the extravagant garniture to match. Its frontispiece featured a raised depiction of the Emperor; despite the casket standing upright, it represented him as prone, maimed and broken, as he was immediately following his confrontation with Horus at the end of the Battle of Terra. Balshazar’s solution to the affliction of the Darkness was to create a spiritual darkness of his own within the stasis sarcophagus. It was the most solitary of confinements, where no self-respecting Excoriator need look upon his own weakness and invalidity and where he might summon the strength of will to banish the Darkness of the Primarch and recover his sanity.
- Demetrius Katafalque (First Chapter Master) – A former Captain of the Imperial Fists Legion, Demetrius had once fought at Rogal Dorn’s side during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy that followed. During the Battle of Terra, it was Katafalque who bled with his men before the walls of the Imperial Palace, under the horrific onslaught of the Warmaster’s siege, putting his body between the enemy and his Emperor. He made them pay in blood for every treasonous step. Rogal Dorn designated Demetrius to become the first Excoriator; the first Chapter Master of a Successor Chapter of the Imperial Fists. He also took part in the post-Heresy Crusades of penitence against the Traitor Legions during the Great Scouring. Katafalque scribed the sacred tome, The Architecture of Agony, a treatise dedicated to devotional suffering. Demetrius favoured their Primarch’s practice for his brother Excoriators. On their Primarch’s foster world of Inwit, the winters were cold and the lash was hot. Such instruction was adopted across Dorn’s early empire and was favoured by the Primarch personally as a form of martial communion and as purification for the soul.
- Quesiah Ichabod (Former Chapter Master) – The direct predecessor of the Excoriators' current Chapter Master Zachariah Kersh, Chapter Master Ichabod was known as the greatest Excoriator to have ever lived. When Chapter Master Ichabod had come to the world of Ignis Prime to inspect the Excoriators’ mountaintop garrison of Kruger Ridge, he found a slaughterhouse rather than a Chapterhouse, and a waiting ambush in the form of an attack by the Chaos Space Marines of the Alpha Legion. It was there, barricaded in the oratorium, that Chapter Scourge Zachariah Kersh had fallen to Dorn's Darkness, failing both his Master and his Chapter, and allowing the Alpha Legion’s victory to become complete. Ichabod was severely injured during the failed assassination attempt. Though strong, the Chapter Master’s wounds were grievous, leaving him writhing in envenomed agony. The Alpha Legion’s assassination had ultimately failed, but they had employed a virulent toxin for which the Excoriators' Chapter Apothecarion had no record, nor antidote.
- Zachariah Kersh (Chapter Master and former Chapter Scourge) – As Chapter Scourge, Zachariah Kersh, known as "the Scourge" amongst his Battle-Brothers, had spent a lifetime at his Chapter Master Quesiah Ichabod’s side, fighting experienced warriors of all creeds and species, defeating the best the enemy had to send against him. It had been his singular honour to slay them before they could slay his master. Until the day Kersh failed to stop the Alpha Legion’s nearly-successful assassination attempt and crippling of Ichabod, and their theft of the Stigmartyr, the ancient and revered Chapter standard of the Excoriators dating back to the days of the Second Founding. This was a devastating blow to the Excoriators' morale, and the cause of many problems for the Chapter. These tragic events marked Kersh as a disgraced failure in the eyes of his Battle-Brothers. To make matters worse, Kersh continually found himself afflicted by Dorn’s Darkness – a condition in which he constantly relived Dorn’s darkest hour when he discovered the mortally wounded Emperor on the bridge of the Warmaster Horus’ Battle Barge, the Vengeful Spirit. While it is not clear whether the Darkness caused Kersh’s recent failures or was triggered by them, the implication is that this is not a unique occurrence, although far from the inevitable Black Rage or Red Thirst which consumes the Astartes of the Blood Angels. As punishment for his failure to protect the Chapter Master, Kersh was placed in a stasis coffin, only to find himself begrudgingly awoken by his peers when his skill as a warrior served as the Excoriators' last chance to win the 816th Feast of Blades, a desperate bid to restore some of the Chapter’s rapidly declining morale. The Chapter had decided to risk waking Kersh only after seven of their competitors had been defeated early in the tournament, and the remaining two were hopelessly outclassed by their match-ups. Kersh's premature awakening required a risky alteration of his Catalepsean Node by the Excoriators' Apothecary Ezrachi in order to bring Kersh out of the Darkness, and into something resembling a functional state. Shortly after his awakening, Kersh began to see things—a revenant in midnight black Power Armour that shadowed him at every step—and questioned the effectiveness of the procedure. Still, despite all his concerns and protests, the reluctant Kersh was pressed into fighting in the Feast of Blades by the very Battle-Brothers who still despised him for his dishonour. His superlative performance in the tournament allowed the Excoriators to win the Feast of Blades for the first time in the Chapter's history, despite a debatable move that pitted Kersh in a three-way duel with the chosen champions of the Black Templars and Imperial Fists Chapters. The victorious Kersh was scheduled to return to Eschara with the prized Dornsblade, a revered relic of Rogal Dorn that brought great honour to the Successor Chapter of the Imperial Fists Legion allowed to hold it until the next Feast of Blades was called. However, new orders from Chapter Master Ichabod changed things for Zachariah, as he was made the captain of the Excoriators' recently devastated 5th Company. The 5th Company was only at half-strength and lacked a captain after a mission undertaken to the world of Veiglehaven to retrieve the Stigmartyr had turned out to be a carefully planned Alpha Legion ambush. Kersh was given command of the battered remnants of a company that hated him, with only Apothecary Ezrachi, who had brought him back from the brink of madness, as an ally. To make matters worse, Kersh was constantly questioning his own sanity—due to the continued visions of a revenant Astartes—as well as his suitability for command. His first mission as Corpus-Captain was not the revenge against the Alpha Legion that every Battle-Brother of the Excoriators longed for, but a distress call from the obscure Cemetery World of Certus-Minor, in the Praga Sub-sector, where a beacon to the followers of the Blood God Khorne -- a pyramid of skulls—had just emerged from the lake. The world held no strategic importance for the Imperium whatsoever. However, ancient oaths between Certus-Minor's Ecclesiarchical administration and the Imperium, as well as the fact that a tomb of a very important Ecclesiarch and High Lord of Terra, Umberto II, was located there, contributed to Chapter Master Ichabod's decision to deploy the 5th Company to defend such an ignominious target. To make matters worse, Kersh learned that a sizeable Khornate Crusade, known as the Cholercaust Blood Crusade, was making its way to Certus-Minor trailing a blood-red comet known as the Keeler Comet which had emerged from the Eye of Terror after ten millennia. Much to the 5th Company’s dismay, Kersh ordered them to make a defiant last stand against the invaders, and stranded his forces on the world by sending their Apothecary and their crippled Strike Cruiser the Angelica Mortis to a nearby Forge World out of the comet's and the Blood Crusade's path, taking their precious gene-seed with them to be used to create future generations of Excoriators after they had been slain. Kersh commanded less than half of a full company of Astartes as well as an Imperial Guard regiment of Certusian Charnel Guard against a legion of Chaotic Traitors and Khornate Berserkers. Despite the odds, Kersh formulated a plan worthy of the Chapter's ancestors who had defended the Imperial Palace during the Battle of Terra, and he led a bold last stand by the Imperial defenders at Certus-Minor's capital necropolis of Obsequa City. The weight of the Khornate assault far exceeded even Kersh’s estimates, and things began to look grim for the Imperial forces until the mysterious Legion of the Damned made an unexpected appearance, stopping the Cholercaust's Blood Crusade dead in its tracks. Kersh was the sole survivor of the slaughter on Certus-Minor. He later succeeded Ichabod as the new Chapter Master of the Excoriators after Ichabod succumbed to the Alpha Legion's toxin.
- Shiloh Gideon (Corpus-Captain) - Following the failed assassination attempt of Chapter Master Ichabod by the Alpha Legion and the loss of their sacred standard, the Stigmartyr, the Chapter's morale was at an all-time low. Corpus-Captain Shiloh Gideon was ordered to take the Chapter's chosen champions and still compete in the centennial competition that was the 816th Feast of Blades, and was ordered by the Chapter Master to win the contest at any cost in order to salvage the Chapter's morale. Gideon ultimately made the painful decision to release Zachariah Kersh from his prison within a stasis sarcophagus to fight as the Chapter's sole remaining champion in the competition. Against all odds, Kersh managed to win the final three-way duel against champions from the Imperial Fists and Black Templars Chapters, respectively. It was the first time the Excoriators won the Feast of Blades in the Chapter's history. This greatly raised the morale of the Battle-Brothers within the Chapter.
- Thaddeus (Corpus-Captain) - Thaddeus was the former Corpus-Captain of the 5th Company before Zachariah Kersh was assigned to replace him. Thaddeus and half his company were ambushed and killed by a devious trap set by the Alpha Legion on the world of Veiglehaven.
- Tobiaz (Corpus-Captain) - Tobiaz was the former company commander of Zachariah Kersh when he was still a junior Battle-Brother.
- Bartimeus (Corpus-Commander) – Bartimeus was the senior commander of the 5th Company Strike Cruiser Angelica Mortis. With the approach of the large Khornate warhost known as the Cholercaust Blood Crusade towards the Cemetery World of Certus-Minor, Corpus-Captain Zachariah Kersh ordered Apothecary Ezarchi and Bartimeus to ensure the future of their Chapter by taking the 5th Company's precious gene-seed safely away from the doomed planet to a nearby Adeptus Mechanicus Forge World. This effectively trapped the 5th Company on the world without orbital support or the capability to withdraw.
- Tiberias (Honoured First) - Tiberias was the only surviving member of the Excoriators' elite 1st Company that was slaughtered by the Alpha Legion on the world of Ignis Prime.
- Balshazar (Santiarch) – Balshazar was the Excoriators' senior Chaplain who managed those Excoriators Battle-Brothers afflicted with Dorn's Darkness. He offered the victims of the Darkness a spiritual treatment that either cured them or ultimately resulted in their deaths. He had the afflicted interred within a decorative stasis casket that was transported from the Chapter’s Reclusiam on distant Eschara. The casket was beaten from dull Adamantium and the box had the dimensions of a sarcophagus and the extravagant garniture to match. Its frontispiece featured a raised depiction of the Emperor; despite the casket standing upright, it represented him as prone, maimed and broken, as he was immediately following his confrontation with Horus at the end of the Battle of Terra. Balshazar’s solution to the affliction of the Darkness was to create a darkness of his own within the stasis sarcophagus. It was the most solitary of confinements, where no self-respecting Excoriator need look upon his own weakness and invalidity adn where he might summon the strength of will to banish the Darkness of the Primarch and recover his sanity.
- Dardarius (Chaplain) – Dardarius was a Chaplain of the Excoriators.
- Shadrath (Chaplain) – Shadrath was the senior Chaplain attached to the devastated 5th Company.
- Melmoch (Epistolary) – Melmoch was the senior Librarian attached to the devastated 5th Company.
- Absalom (Lord Apothecary) – Absolom was a former Apothecary of the 2nd Company who was promoted to the rank of Lord Apothecary within the Chapter and tasked with coordinating the search and formulation of an antidote for the Excoriators' envenomed Chapter Master Ichabod, who was mortally wounded and poisoned during a failed assassination attempt by the Alpha Legion.
- Ezrachi (Apothecary) – Ezrachi was a Veteran Battle-Brother and Apothecary of the Chapter. The Apothecary’s right leg was a full bionic replacement and almost as old as Ezrachi himself. While robust and powerful, his bionic leg sighed with hydraulic insistence and lagged a millisecond behind its flesh-and-bone equivalent, giving him the impression of walking with a slight limp. He was responsible for the experimental procedure that shocked Zachariah Kersh out of the fugue state known as Dorn's Darkness. He was later assigned to the 5th Company as the new Apothecary of that decimated company which was tasked with defending the Cemetery Word of Certus-Minor. With the approach of the ominous Keeler Comet heralding the inevitable assault of that Imperial world by the Khornate warhost known as the Cholercaust, Kersh took desperate measures to ensure that their deaths were not for naught, for the woefully outnumbered Excoriators faced an enemy infamous for its intolerance of survivors. The Corpus-Captain had the Apothecary begin gene-seed extraction rites and harvest mature Progenoid Glands from all the Excoriators in the 5th Company with at least ten standard years’ service to the Chapter. As a Chapter of attrition fighters, the Excoriators always expected the best outcomes but prepared for the worst. If they were faced with failure in the face of the Cholercaust Blood Crusade then they should meet their doom knowing that their legacy lived on through the genetic heritage that they bequeathed to the future Astartes of the Chapter. They would do this in the best interests of the Chapter and not themselves. Kersh explained that it was not who asked this of Ezarchi, but Rogal Dorn—so that the Imperium’s future, as well as its present, might be secure. Kersh then ordered Ezarchi to transport the collected gene-seed to the Strike Cruiser Angelica Mortis and oversee its safe storage and containment. The sacred cargo would then travel on to the nearby Forge World of Aetna Phall, reachable through a series of short Warp jumps. Though it would take months for th vessel to arrive, the Adeptus Mechanicus would appreciate the importance of the valuable cargo and have the resources necessary to make sure that it reached their Chapter homeworld, Eschara. Ezrachi survived the disastrous defence of Certus-Minor because Corpus-Captain Kersh sent him with the Angelica Mortis to Aetna Phall, effectively stranding his company on the doomed planet to face their fate.
- Philemon (Apothecary) - Philemon was an Apothecary assigned to the 5th Company who lost his life to the Alpha Legion’s second ambush along with Corpus-Captain Thaddeus.
- Dancred (Techmarine - Frater Astrotechnicus) – Dancred was the Techmarine assigned to the 5th Company. Dancred died on Certus-Minor when the 5th Company was attacked by the Khornate warhost known as the Cholercaust. His position was overrun in the initial attack. His body was laid out displaying his battle wounds as Chapter custom dictated with the other casualties in the aftermath of the combat.
- Hadrach (Techmarine) - Hadrach was a Techmarine of the Excoriators.
- Contego Micah (5th Company Champion) - Brother Micah was the 5th Company's freshly promoted champion. His predecessor had lost his life defending Corpus-Captain Thaddeus on the Kruger Ridge on the world of Veiglehaven from an ambush by the Alpha Legion. Micah was young for his position but a cool, impassive Excoriator. He was a gifted marksman and took the responsibilities of Company Champion seriously. Micah was just as unhappy about Kersh’s promotion to Corpus-Captain over Veteran Whip Skase, as were all the other Astartes in the 5th, but had studied his new commander's orders and their mission brief and had volunteered practical propositions regarding the company’s security on Certus-Minor. Like many of his brothers, he was determined that the Excoriators would not fall to the predations of the Alpha Legion again—even if that meant keeping Zachariah Kersh alive. Micah was killed defending the Imperial Cemetary World from the large Khornate Blood Crusade known as the Cholercaust.
- Uriah Skase (Chief Whip) – Skase was the senior Veteran Sergeant of the 5th Company. The torn and mangled flesh of his face testifies to his Veteran status. A visible wound sat upon his face like an ugly, snarling mask, seemingly only held together by the staples, stitches and decorative rings that ran across it. Skase was a legend within the company. An Assault Squad Whip, he had more combat experience than the rest of his squad added together. He had walked away from the most grievous injuries and heaviest fighting of the 5th Company’s many victories and had been at the forefront of the Excoriators’ efforts to reclaim the Stigmartyr from the Alpha Legion at Veiglehaven. He was loved by his men, who viewed him as an indestructible force. Skase was so unrelenting on the battlefield that on the midnight plains of Menga-Dardra, a Black Legion Land Raider slammed into him with its dozer blade, ran him down and crushed him beneath its tracks, only for the mauled and buckled Skase to get back to his feet and rush back into the heart of the fighting. He had been Corpus-Captain Thaddeus’ right hand and, with Chaplain Shadrath, had held the decimated 5th Company together in the wake of the atrocities at Vieglehaven that had decimated it and reduced it to a fraction of its former strength. The surviving Battle-Brothers of the 5th have been reorganised by Skase into three full squads. He took command of the first squad, Squad Cicatrix. Squad Cicatrix had the honour of driving back the Traitor Legionaries and recovering the bodies. In doing this Chief Whip Skase and his men saved the harvested gene-seed of their fallen brothers, and the company was rightfully in their debt. Every Excoriator in the 5th had fully expected Uriah Skase’s promotion to serve as the company's new Corpus-Captain until Chapter Master Ichabod’s intervention and the promotion of the disgraced Chapter Scourge Zachariah Kersh to the position instead. Skase was slain defending the Imperial Cemetary World of Certus Minor from the Khornate Blood Crusade known as the Cholercaust.
- Silas Keturah (Veteran Squad Whip) – Keturah was Veteran Squad Whip of the 10th Company Scout Marine Squads assigned to bolster the decimated 5th Company. Out of all the company's Whips, he was the only Battle-Brother not under Skase’s influence. Silas Keturah did not allow anyone else to gain influence amongst his Neophytes save for himself. He clearly did not relish using his young charges to bolster the depleted numbers of the 5th Company under the command of the disgraced Corpus-Captain Zachariah Kersh. He was killed defending the Imperial Cemetary World of Certus Minor from the Khornate Blood Crusade known as the Cholercaust.
- Ishmael (Squad Whip) – Ishmael was one of the remaining squad leaders of the decimated 5th Company. The second squad, Squad Castigir, was led by Skase’s own right hand, Squad Whip Ishmael, an Excoriator crafted of much the same unforgiving brutality as the Chief Whip. He was afflicted by the same rage madness that many of the native Certusians had contracted and had to be put down by his Battle-Brothers.
- Joachim (Squad Whip) – Joachin was one of the remaining squad leaders of the decimated 5th Company. Brother Joachim had been recently promoted to Whip of the 3rd squad, Squad Censura, in the wake of the disaster on Vieglehaven. Joachim was younger and fresher of face than most Excoriators, but his devotion to Chief Whip Skase and his ideals was painfully clear, assuming the form of a kind of hero-worship. He was killed defending the Imperial Cemetary World of Certus Minor from the Khornate Blood Crusade known as the Cholercaust.
- Thanial (Squad Whip) – Thanial served as Zachariah Kersh's former Squad Leader when he was still a Neophyte.
- Usachar (Squad Whip) – Usachar was a squad leader and Veteran Battle-Brother who served as one of the Chapter's combatants at the the 816th Feast of Blades. He lost his match.
- Azareth (Second Whip) - Azareth was an assistant squad leader assigned to the 5th Company. He was killed defending the Imperial Cemetery World of Certus Minor from the Khornate Blood Crusade known as the Cholercaust.
- Etham (Second Whip) - An assistant squad leader assigned to the 5th Company. He was killed defending the Imperial Cemetery World of Certus Minor from the Khornate Blood Crusade known as the Cholercaust.
- Scarioch (Second Whip) - An assistant squad leader assigned to the Fifth Company. He was afflicted by the same rage madness that many of the native Certusians had contracted and had to be put down by his Battle-Brothers.
- Ashkelon (Battle-Brother) - Ashkelon served in the 5th Company, dying in the defense of Certus-Minor against the Khornate Blood Crusade called the Cholercaust.
- Basrael (Battle-Brother) - Basrael served in the 5th Company, dying in the defense of Certus-Minor against the Khornate Blood Crusade called the Cholercaust.
- Benzoheth (Battle-Brother) - Benzoheth served in the 5th Company, dying in the defense of Certus-Minor against the Khornate warhost called the Cholercaust.
- Boaz (Battle-Brother) - Boaz served in the 5th Company, dying in the defense of Certus-Minor against the Khornate Blood Crusade called the Cholercaust.
- Damaras (Battle-Brother) - Damaras served in the 5th Company, dying in the defense of Certus-Minor against the ravaging Khornate Blood Crusade called the Cholercaust.
- Dathan (Battle-Brother) – Dathan was a young Battle-Brother who had a way with a blade. He was severely wounded, losing his match during the 816th Feast of Blades.
- Ebenezar (Battle-Brother) - Ebenezar served in the 5th Company, dying in the defense of Certus-Minor against the ravaging Khornate warhost, the Cholercaust.
- Eliam (Battle-Brother) - Eliam served in the 5th Company, dying in the defense of Certus-Minor against the Khornate Blood Crusade called the Cholercaust.
- Erastus (Battle-Brother) - Erastus was a senior Astartes who helped mentor Zachariah Kersh when he was a newly inducted Astartes.
- Jabez (Battle-Brother) – Jabez was seriously wounded fighting an honour duel during the 816th Feast of Blades.
- Judah (Battle-Brother) - Judah served in the 5th Company, dying in the defense of Certus-Minor against the ravaging Khornate Blood Crusade called the Cholercaust.
- Kale (Battle-Brother) - Kale was a member of 5th Company, second squad - Squad Castigir. He died fighting against the Khornate Blood Crusade known as the Cholercaust on the Cemetary World of Certus-Minor.
- Levi (Battle-Brother) - Levi served in the 5th Company, second squad - Squad Castigir. He died fighting against the Khornate Blood Crusade known as the Cholercaust on the Cemetary World of Certus-Minor.
- Lemuel (Battle-Brother) - Lemuel served in the 5th Company, second squad - Squad Castigir. He died fighting against the Khornate Blood Crusade known as the Cholercaust on the Cemetary World of Certus-Minor.
- Moliath (Battle-Brother) - Moliath served in the 5th Company, dying in the defence of Certus-Minor against the Khornate Blood Crusade called the Cholercaust.
- Occam (Battle-Brother) – During the 816th Feast of Blades he fought well, but his effort was not enough and he was killed.
- Nebuzar (Battle-Brother) - A member of the 5th Company, Squad Castigir, Nebuzar died defending the Imperial world of Certus-Minor against the predations of the Khornate Blood Crusade known as the Cholercaust.
- Novah (Battle-Brother) - A member of the 5th Company, Novah was Brother Toralech’s hasty replacement as company standard bearer when he was killed at the outset of hostilities on the Cemetery World of Certus-Minor, by a Bloodletter of Khorne. Like the 5th Company Champion, Brother Micah, he was young but quiet and uncertain. Micah assured Corpus-Captain Kersh that he was a first-class warrior, as both had originally fought in the same squad, and that he was one of the few brothers that Kersh could trust. He died fighting against the Khornate Blood Crusade known as the Cholercaust.
- Salamis (Battle-Brother) - Salamis was a Battle-Brother assigned to the 5th Company. He died in the defense of Certus-Minor against the ravaging Khornate Blood Crusade known as the Cholercaust.
- Simeon (Battle-Brother) - Simeon was a Battle-Brother assigned to the 5th Company. He died in the defense of Certus-Minor against the ravaging Khornate Blood Crusade known as the Cholercaust.
- Torolech (Battle-Brother) – Torolech was a Battle-Brother and Standard Bearer of the decimated 5th Company. He was killed at the outset of hostilities on the Cemetery World of Certus-Minor, by a Bloodletter of Khorne.
- Tycharias (Battle-Brother) - Tycharias served in the 5th Company, dying in the defence of Certus-Minor against the ravaging Khornate, warhost, the Cholercaust.
- Zurion (Battle-Brother) - Tycharias served in the 5th Company, dying in the defence of Certus-Minor against the Khornate Blood Crusade called the Cholercaust.
- Iscarion (Scout Marine) - A Scout Marine of the 10th Company attached to the decimated 5th Company to help augment their number. He was killed defending the Cemetery World of Certus Minor from the Khornate Blood Crusade known as the Cholercaust.
- Kush (Scout Marine) - A Scout Marine of the 10th Company attached to the decimated 5th Company to help augment their number. He had been briefly seconded to Squad Cicatrix during training rites on board the Angelica Mortis. There he had been exposed to the full hatred the Excoriators' 1st Squad felt for their new commanding officer. Kush, in turn, had brought these opinions to his fellow Neophytes, who had swiftly begun to revel in similar derision of the unfavoured Zachariah Kersh, his loss of the Chapter's Stigmartyr and his affliction with Dorn's Darkness. He was killed defending the Cemetery World of Certus Minor from the Khornate Blood Crusade known as the Cholercaust.
- Omar (Scout Marine) - Omar was a Scout Marine of the 10th Company attached to the decimated 5th Company to help augment their number. Brother Omar was thought to have been killed by blood-frenzied Certusians on the Cemetery World of Certus Minor. They were affected by the malign influence of the strange blood-red harbinger of the Blood God, known as the Keeler Comet, which heralded the world's inevitable doom with the coming of the Khornate Blood Crusade known as the Cholercaust. He was discovered alive later, crawling through the Forces of Chaos during their first attack on Certus Minor, slashed accross the stomach area by a fellow Battle-Brother, Ishmael, who fell to the blood-rage of the comet. Zacariah Kersh carried the Scout Marine from the battlefield and managed to save his life, though Omar lost his legs in the process. Omar ended up assisiting in the final battle against the Cholercaust by marking targets from a high tower for his fellow Scout Marine sniper. He was killed when he took his own life with a grenade, killing multiple flying daemons in the resulting explosion.
- Taanach (Scout Marine) - A Scout Marine of the 10th Company attached to the decimated 5th Company to help augment their number. He was killed defending the Cemetery World of Certus Minor from the Khornate Blood Crusadeknown as the Cholercaust.
- Old Enoch – Enoch was Zacariah Kersh’s human seneschal, a Chapter serf who served as the caretaker of the ceremonial "lash" of the Chapter Scourge and overseer of his master’s devotional mortification. Aside from basic servitude, Enoch and his two children were tasked, above all else, to excoriate the flesh of their master and purify him of weakness so that he might achieve endorphic communion with the Primarch. He died fighting alongside his Excoriator masters on the world of Certus-Minor fighting the Khornate Blood Crusade known as the Cholercaust.
- Oren - Oren was Enoch’s son. He was barrel-chested and possessed the thick arms of a scud-wrestler. It was Oren’s solemn function to administer "the Purge" with all the devotion of which he was capable. His father supervised the ritual, his eyes burning in disappointment that his own son had not been honoured with the tissue compatibility required to serve as an Astartes and live a life beyond that offered to mere mortals. He died fighting alongside his Excoriator masters on the world of Certus-Minor facing the Khornate Blood Crusade known as the Cholercaust.
- Bethesda – Bethesda was Enoch’s elfin waif of a daughter who was both gaunt and grim. Bethesda was Zachariah Kersh’s Absterge. She was charged with the routine cleansing and dressing of the Astartes’ ceremonial wounds. She died fighting alongside her Excoriator masters on the world of Certus-Minor facing the Khornate Blood Crusade known as the Cholercaust.
- Amos - Amos was Brother Simeon's Chapter serf who died fighting alongside his Excoriator masters on the world of Certus-Minor facing the Khornate Blood Crusade known as the Cholercaust.
The Excoriators' Power Armour is painted a cream colour with silver Aquila and trim. Each gouge and las-burn in their Power Armour has the dates and locations where these scars of battle were earned meticulously inscribed into the battle-plate in High Gothic script. The Power Armour of Excoriators Space Marines is often covered in such markings.
The Chapter's badge is taken from their lost Chapter standard, the Stigmartyr. This adopted emblem is a scarlet gauntleted fist shot through with lightning bolts that protrude both in front and behind the fist like wicked spikes.
- Codex: Eye of Terror (3rd Edition), pg. 16
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