"To the righteous we bring hope. To the tainted we bring fire."
- — Castellan Garran Crowe
A nobler exemplar of the Grey Knights would be impossible to find -- by the measure of the Grey Knights, Crowe is a flawless soul, not so much resistant to the temptations of Chaos as immune to them.
It is well that this is so, for Garran bears a burden greater than any of his brothers: the Black Blade of Antwyr, a cursed relic of unimaginable evil that continuously brings him into both physical and spiritual peril by tempting him with Chaos' promises of power or seeking to bind his will with black sorcery.
Even so, Crowe must be forever on guard, for the sword's sibilant whispers echo endlessly through his mind, offering to add its strength to his own in the pursuit of victory. Many men would embrace such a chance, thinking their will would be strong enough to control the sword.
Yet no matter how dark the hour or desperate the battle, Crowe has never succumbed; his thoughts and actions are his own. He is the warden of the blade, incorruptible and inviolable, and will remain so until the day of his death.
Some of the Grand Masters believe that Crowe embodies a dormant strain of the Chapter's gene-seed, a piece of the Emperor that has awoken and taken root within him. It is this quality that grants Crowe a unique perspective on the world, as he does not see Chaos as others do. To Crowe, the Immaterium is as water flowing over reality, cool and deep, with daemons flitting like shadows beneath its surface.
"I am the power of death incarnate. I am the sword's edge; I hungrily cut the flesh and drink deep of the bloody well beneath. Give me your body, and I promise you glory, I promise you vengeance and I promise you immortality -- if you will only let me..."
- — Antwyr, the Sword-god
Castellan Garran Crowe is considered a flawless soul, immune to the temptations of Chaos. Garran carries a burden greater than any of his battle-brothers, for he is charged with the wardenship of the Chapter's most perilous relic: the Black Blade of Antwyr.
The sword was so named as it was unearthed by the apostles of the Blind King in the ruins of the temple of Antwyr, a cursed place dedicated to a savage and heretical god. With the power to grant the wielder control of all who gazed upon him, the blade's bearer led legions of Heretics and madmen across the Vidar, Tremayne and Darkspire sectors.
Only the intervention of all eight Brotherhoods of the Grey Knights was finally able to destroy the Daemonhost in a cataclysmic battle. As for the sword, it fell to the floor amid the blood and corpses of that terrible conflict's aftermath, only to slip out of time and space and vanish before the Grey Knights could recover it.
Over three thousand standard years later the Prognosticars foretold of the blade's return, and this time the Grey Knights were ready. On the moon of Tethys the sword was taken, its vessel slain before Antwyr could fully possess him, and was borne back to Titan.
For many solar days the grand masters debated the fate of the blade, unable to find a means to destroy it, and fearful that abandonment or imprisonment would merely give the daemon within a chance to lure a fresh host.
So it was that the Blade of Antwyr was placed in the hands of the Purifiers, as only they possessed the spiritual strength to resist corruption and ignore the malign whispers of the daemon trapped within.
For Terran centuries it has been placed into the capable hands of the Brotherhood Champion and passed down from one Purifier to the next, the order always choosing the strongest among them to bear the burden. And so it came to be wielded by Garran Crowe.
The Battle of Sandava II
Before the Blade of Antwyr came to be wielded by Garran Crowe, it was held by Castellan Merat Gavallan, Champion of the Purifier Order.
During that time, Cardinal Beatus Rannoch came aboard the missionary ship Envoy of Discipline. While surveying their cargo of relics, he discovered a singular mask. Seized with desire, Rannoch immediately sought to possess it. Despite the suspicions of the Sandava II militia's General, Vendruhn Glas, the Slaaneshi daemon Mnay'salath used it to possess the Cardinal.
When the Prognosticars alerted the Grey Knights of the threat Mnay'salath and its legions posed, the entire Purifier Order was dispatched to contain the threat. Throughout the campaign, the malign voice of Antwyr gradually wore down Gavallan's defences, reducing him to a hollow shell of his former self.
Finally, Antwyr managed to manipulate the lord governor, Otto Glas, into seizing hold of the sword. Possessing the governor within moments, Antwyr sliced open Gavallan's throat, killing him.
It was only through the efforts and sacrifice of Garran Crowe that the Black Blade was recovered and Mnay'salath defeated. Even then, Antwyr still hopes to find purchase upon Crowe's soul, desperate for the freedom it briefly possessed.
An Eternal Burden
The Blade of Antwyr is as potent an artefact as the Grey Knights have ever possessed. Some within the Chapter speculate that Antwyr is more than merely a Daemon Prince or Greater Daemon trapped by foul sorceries, and may even be the last surviving fragment of an ancient god.
Men standing too close to the wielder are driven mad by the constant whispers and lies of the sword as it twists their thoughts against them. Only Grey Knights are able to resist its words, and even then only for a time before they too feel their wills being bent and buckled under the onslaught.
Remarkably, Crowe alone seems immune to the effects of the blade, though it is known that Antwyr speaks to him too. Part of the Castellan's duty as guardian of the sword is to record the blade's words, in case there might be some piece of forbidden knowledge or clue to Antwyr's weakness hidden therein. So far, vaults filled with tomes of lies and curses has yielded little of apparent worth, though Crowe continues undaunted.
Crowe is never without the Blade of Antwyr, and always has one hand placed upon its hilt lest the weapon try and escape its captor. At first, Crowe carried the sword upon his back, or kept it sheathed and hung upon the wall of his personal chambers. More and more often Crowe would discover the sword had moved when his back was turned, or had slipped free of its scabbard.
In combat, this could have proven disastrous if another had laid hands upon the weapon, turning them into the next sword-host. Even other Purifiers are not permitted to touch the blade. This has forced Crowe to fight with the weapon in battle, unable to take up another weapon for fear of the sword's escape.
The Black Planet
Daemons are creatures of vindictive hatred, and their endless schemes are spun out over eternity as they fight for the souls of mortals. Antwyr is an ancient being, and no stranger to the servants of the Dark Gods, having crossed them many times in its long existence.
So it is that when Crowe faces a champion of one of the Ruinous Powers, the blade sometimes recognises his foe. This often prompts Antwyr to try and aid the daemon in slaying its captor, renewing its struggle against Crowe or whispering secrets learned from long years of watching him fight. Sometimes, however, the blade meets an old enemy it would see sent back into the Warp. In these cases it will offer up aid to the Grey Knight, hoping to see an ancient score settled.
Crowe never heeds the daemon's advice, knowing that truth from such a creature can carry an even higher cost than lies. However, the castellan will take the recorded ramblings of the blade to the Prognosticars that they might be able to glean useful knowledge from them.
One such thread of malice from Antwyr led to the Battle of the Black Planet in 888.M41, where the blade tried to thwart the plans of Skulltaker, one of its ancient rivals. The Khornate daemon had chosen the planet after being drawn there by the miasma of violence lingering upon it.
The world had been almost depopulated after a year-long raid by the Drukhari, its billions of citizens reduced to a scattering of half-starved tribes hiding in the ruins of their once-proud cities. Skulltaker knew the planet was ripe for the Blood God and began a ritual to see it cast into the Warp where daemons would feast upon the souls of the living and dead alike.
After the Prognosticars informed him of the impending daemonic incursion, Supreme Grand Master Geronitan chose Crowe to lead the assault, forming Strike Force Iron Helm to thwart Skulltaker's plans. Teleporting from low orbit, the Grey Knights arrived on the planet's ruined spaceport to find a vista of carnage, headless bodies piled in mounds as far as the eye could see. In the centre of the corpse-choked platforms and landing pads stood an arena crafted from the bones and skulls of the slain.
Unopposed, the Grey Knights entered the arena to the howls of daemonic spectators and the sight of Skulltaker standing in the middle of a sea of severed heads, his servants dragging away his latest victim to the mounds outside. Antwyr screamed and cursed upon sensing the presence of the Khornate daemon, even as hordes of Bloodletters descended upon the Grey Knights.
Crowe knew that only he could hold back Skulltaker, perhaps buying time for his brothers to break the daemonic host bearing down upon them. The sword exuded eager bloodlust when Crowe decided that single combat with the prideful daemon was the only way to prevent it from killing his battle-brothers. Though he was loath to act in a way that pleased Antwyr, Crowe called out a challenge to Skulltaker.
Before the Khornate Champion could charge, Crowe used a gift given to him by Geronitan for this very purpose: a vial of the crystallised tears of the Emperor Himself. The blessed tears consecrated the ground around Crowe, robbing Skulltaker of a measure of his power. Even with this advantage, it was all Crowe could do to counter the daemon's blows and resist the unholy strength powering them.
Antwyr hammered at Crowe's mind, crying out for release and promising a swift end to Skulltaker, if only the Grey Knight would accept. The castellan stoically ignored the screams of the blade. For solar hours, Crowe and the Herald of Khorne duelled until Skulltaker noticed its form fading as the Warp weakened across the planet.
Totally focussed on slaying Crowe, the daemon had ignored the actions of Strike Force Iron Helm as it purged the world and sealed the rents in reality. With a final curse and a promise of grim retribution, Skulltaker vanished, leaving only the hollow, mocking laughter of Antwyr in Crowe's mind.
Keeper of the Blade
For most Purifiers, the burden of holding back the tendrils of the Warp is natural and instinctive, their minds shielding them from the darkness and casting back its hungering gaze. Even so, there are things that press in upon the souls of even these most incorruptible of Grey Knights, horrors from beyond that scratch incessantly at the door to reality.
The Blade of Antwyr is such an object, a scar upon the face of reality. Such is the power of this cursed blade that wherever Crowe carries it the taint of the Warp stains his surroundings. On Titan the champion must keep to the Chambers of Purity, often in isolation.
Occasionally other Purifiers will meet with him, but even these brothers cannot be allowed to stand in the presence of the Black Blade for long. When Crowe travels across the Imperium on the secret missions of the Chapter, he is likewise cloistered away, only venturing out when called upon to enter the fray.
The Castellan spends his time away from war ceaselessly training, the vicious curses of the daemon always in his mind. For years he has suffered Antwyr's insults in silence, his scorn a shield against the furious rantings of the dead god.
Antwyr at first tried to overcome Crowe with sheer strength of will, battering against his mind for years, hoping to break down the Purifier's defences and possess him. When it became clear Crowe would not yield, Antwyr tried a different tactic, offering him untold power, yet still the castellan resisted.
However, the blade's promises become ever more specific to the castellan the longer the two remain together, and it hopes one day to find a chink, however small, in Crowe's formidable mental armour.
- Artificer Armour
- Black Blade of Antwyr
- Storm Bolter
- Frag Grenades
- Krak Grenades
- Psyk-Out Grenades
- Iron Halo
- Codex: Grey Knights (7th Edition), pp. 29, 59-63, 95, 98, 139-142
- Codex: Grey Knights (5th Edition), pg. 42
- Castellan (Novel) by David Annandale (Cover)
- Warden of the Blade (Novel) by David Annandale