During the Battle of Molech, the sudden defection of House Devine proved to be the pivotal factor in the defeat of the Loyalist forces seeking to halt Horus' relentless advance on Terra.
The Knight World of Molech was located very close to Terra, only several light years from the Imperial Throneworld. Molech was reclaimed for the Imperium in a bloodless Imperial Compliance action by the Space Marine Legions in 869.M30. Led by the Emperor Himself, this world was visited by no less than three of the primarchs, Lion El'Jonson of the Dark Angels Legion, Horus of the Luna Wolves Legion and Jaghatai Khan of the White Scars Legion, all of whom left their mark.
Once Molech was successfully brought into the fledgling Imperium, a significant Imperial garrison was left in place. The planet thrived under the rule of House Devine, the populace of its capital never knowing the true reason why the Emperor had taken it upon Himself to lead the force that claimed it -- His desire to protect an ancient Warp Gate which led into the Immaterium. House Devine ruled over the Knight World from their mighty stronghold, the Dawn Citadel, and maintained close links to the ancient Mechanicum.
The Imperial Knight houses of Molech were supported by a priesthood of Sacristans who helped maintain their Knight walkers and were responsible for overseeing the mechanical interface of the Throne Mechanicum between the Noble pilots and their mounts. They also maintained their own military forces, in the form of the Sacristan Guard and lent their support to House Devine's Dawn Guard, their personal forces of huscarl cavalry, mechanised infantry, artillery, super-heavy tanks and cohorts of Battle-Automata.
Even before the Warmaster Horus' corruption on Davin, and long before the horrors of Isstvan III, House Devine was descending into decadence and madness. For centuries, it had held the position of High House of Molech, its Seneschals ruling the world from the spires of the Dawn Citadel, but at the same time harbouring dark secrets. Over a standard century of rule by the Imperium had largely stamped out the superstitious practices of Molech's people, principal among them the worship of the serpent god, a primitive naga deity of excess and vengeance.
Of course, the implementing of the Imperial Truth only drove the serpent god's cults underground, and into the protective embrace of their ancient sponsors, House Devine. Once House Devine had been the Seneschals of the High King of Molech, legendary First Scions of the Knight World, and they were unmatched in honour and bravery. However, when the High King's bloodline was broken and the Knight house fragmented, Devine's journey into darkness truly began.
Some whisper, well out of earshot of any members of the High House, that Devine's ancestors had a hand in the ending of the High King's line, perverted even then by the serpent god. It was certainly no accident that House Devine claimed the Western Marches and what would one day become the city of Lupercalia as their own, donning the mantle of the High House long before the Imperium ratified it by recognising them as the rulers of Molech.
Despite the poison that festered at the heart of this Knight house, it long maintained the outward appearance of nobility and honour. In fact, the last true Seneschal of Devine, Cyprian Devine, had little clue as to the machinations perpetrated by his wife and second son in the name of the serpent god. Perhaps if he had been more aware, the fate of his house might have been different, though like so many of his Noble peers he was blinded by tradition and his own bombastic sense of righteousness.
The golden age of the Great Crusade was to be cut short by the supreme act of betrayal known as the Horus Heresy, during which the galaxy was gripped by the most bitter civil war Humanity had ever seen. Across the nascent Imperium, Traitors clashed with Loyalists for the fate of Mankind.
One of the most horrific betrayals of the war occurred on Molech. As the Warmaster Horus led his armies to Terra, he left a trail of destruction in his wake hundreds of light years wide. His forces seemed unstoppable as Loyalist garrison after garrison fell before his might, or changed allegiance and sided with the traitorous commander.
It was on Molech that one of the most determined stands was to be made. Loyalist Titan Legions and over a hundred Imperial Army regiments and Knight houses stood ready to bear the brunt of the Warmaster's attack in an attempt to halt his inexorable advance. When it came, it was like a hurricane unleashed upon the verdant world.
Molech was one of several planets the Warmaster assaulted as his Traitor Legions continued their drive towards the Imperial Throneworld. Elements from the Ultramarines and Blood Angels Legions, alongside three Loyalist Titan Legions and over a hundred Imperialis Auxilia regiments and supporting Knight houses, stood ready to face the Traitor onslaught.
Unknown to the world's population, the reason such a massive Imperial garrison had been placed on such a backwater planet was that the Emperor had them standing eternal vigil to protect a hidden gateway to the Immaterium that He had utilised centuries earlier in order to obtain unspeakable power after undergoing an unforgiving ordeal when He faced the four Chaos Gods.
Horus' initial assault devastated many cities and strongholds, and amongst the victims were Molech's rulers -- House Devine. As the Battle of Molech began, Raeven Devine, the second son of Lord Cyprian Devine, seized his birthright. Raeven murdered his father and took his place as Molech's lord even as Horus himself took to the battlefield, leading his sons into battle against the massed ranks of Imperial Army troopers and single-handedly taking on a force of mighty Imperial Knights, of which only Raeven Devine himself escaped alive.
Ironically though, when House Devine turned Traitor, and brought down the Legio Crucius Imperator-class Titan Paragon of Terra during the battle for Lupercalia, it was not Raeven piloting his Knight armour Banelash, but Cyprian's first-born son, Albard Devine, a man once as strong and righteous as Cyprian himself. The plots and schemes of Raeven and his mother had seen Albard rejected by his Knight armour and held captive for solar decades as a gibbering wreck, tortured and tormented by his step-relatives.
During the Warmaster's invasion, Albard was able to at last escape, reclaiming his birthright and killing his half-brother, but ultimately becoming the last pilot of Banelash. However, no sooner had Albard merged his broken mind with the Knight armour, than he was subsumed by the corruption Raeven and the Dark Gods had planted there.
With a beachhead secured, the Traitor forces soon arrived in great numbers, with four Titan Legions and elements from the Sons of Horus, Death Guard and Emperor's Children -- including their primarchs -- leading the charge. Mortarion and Fulgrim both had their missions across Molech, each a key to taking the embattled world from the Imperium.
Far to the east, Mortarion fell on the city of Ophir, facing the few valiant Imperial defenders led by Lord Bolmar of House Donar, who made a desperate last stand. But their efforts were all for naught, as the Death Guard unleashed the Life-Eater Virus on the jungles of Kush in an early example of the plague warfare for which the XIVth Legion would become infamous. The Death Lord then marched on the Preceptor defence line and took it with the aid of Traitor Titans.
Meanwhile, Fulgrim's task was much more insidious. The newly transformed Daemon Primarch utilised his Slaanesh-granted daemonic powers to ensnare Albard Devine and completed the corruption that had begun solar decades earlier. The half-mad Lord of House Devine soon became obsessed with visions of a Great Serpent. Many of his Loyalist retainers followed their mad lord into treachery and madness, becoming wholly corrupted by the insidious influence of the Pleasure God.
As the primarchs completed their tasks, the Sons of Horus and their allies pushed into the heart of Molech. The Knight houses led the defence, rallying Imperial Army regiments, small forces of Ultramarines, Blood Angels and loyal Titan Legions to face the rampaging Chaos forces. Little by little, they were pushed back, the overwhelming strength of the Warmaster's armies making it only a matter of time until they were overrun completely.
Dispossessed and unable to fight back, the Knights of House Devine slowly succumbed to the temptations of Chaos. Over the following solar months, the insidious whisper of Slaanesh -- Dark Prince of Chaos and god of indulgence and excess -- spread throughout their depleted ranks.
Their officers became lethargic, interested only in their sports, using their mighty Knight suits to hunt the towering reptilian beasts that stalked Molech's lush jungles. The seductive grip of Slaanesh grew stronger, as the Prince of Pleasure bent the force of its will to corrupting the noble Devines. Soon, they met in secret cabals, performing depraved rites and ceremonies within the heart of the Loyalist camp. No act was too shameful or disgusting; the sensations of the moment became their only desire.
Finally, all of Horus' forces converged upon Lupercalia, the capital city of Molech, ironically named for Horus himself after his pivotal role in bringing Molech to Imperial Compliance earlier in the Great Crusade. The first turning point in this fierce battle was the destruction of the Iron Fist, the great mountain on Lupercalia's west flank. Horus managed to destroy this home of the world's Titan Legions in a single blow as he redirected an orbital Defence Laser to destroy the peak.
The final nail in the coffin for the valiant Imperial defenders came when the Imperator-class Titan Paragon of Terra, lynchpin of the Imperial defence, was laid low by a treacherous attack from House Devine's Knights. As the Plasma Reactor of the mighty god-machine of the Legio Crucius overloaded, it exploded spectacularly, immolating thousands of Loyalist defenders in a blinding flash as a miniature sun erupted from the Titan's core, leaving a massive smoking crater half a mile wide.
In the wake of the catastrophic blast, a spearhead of Traitor Titans marched through the gap in the Imperial lines. This gave the Traitors free rein to take Lupercalia, though Horus abandoned the ongoing battle before the end in order to complete some mysterious objective unknown to the history books. In truth, the Warmaster entered the Warp Gate once used by the Emperor and emerged even more fully empowered by the arcane might of the Ruinous Powers, the only cost being what remained of his soul.
Caught between the treacherous Knights of House Devine and Horus' rampant forces, the shattered remnants of Molech's defenders were slaughtered without mercy. They were totally defeated, the massacre so complete that only one in a hundred of the troops of the Imperial Army survived the campaign.
As the events of the Horus Heresy neared their tragic conclusion nine standard years after the fateful betrayal at Isstvan III, Horus was confronted and defeated by the Emperor aboard his flagship, the Vengeful Spirit, though the Master of Mankind was mortally wounded and had to be interred within the cybernetic life support mechanisms of the advanced psychic augmentation technology known as the Golden Throne.
Though Horus lay dead at the hands of the Emperor, so high was the cost of victory that many Loyalists sought solace in hounding the fleeing Traitors across the stars rather than face the task of rebuilding the shattered Imperium. This campaign of vengeance is now known as the Great Scouring. The surviving Loyalist Knight houses with the strength to fight unanimously joined in this crusade of retribution. Believing the honour of the many to be stained by the treachery of the few, the Imperial Knights hunted down the Knight houses that sided with Horus with extreme prejudice, seeking to redeem their tarnished reputation.
Filled with righteous indignation, a combined strike force of Knights from House Cadmus, House Terryn and House Borgius annihilated the turncoats of House Devine as Imperial forces reclaimed Molech. But there were rumours that some of the traitorous Knights of House Devine went unaccounted for.
Presumably when Horus was defeated and Molech was reclaimed by Imperial forces, the survivors of this Chaos-corrupted Knight house fled alongside the Traitor Legions into the Eye of Terror, where they remain to this day.
Corrupted by the insidious influence of Chaos, many of the pilots of these Renegade Knights have long since died, their souls continuing to live on as Daemons, trapped within the shells of their war walkers. Even the Knights themselves have been "blessed" by the Dark Gods, as they now wield massive organic claws, tails and other horrendous daemonic weapons.
- Battle of Molech (009.M31) - Molech was a Knight World ruled over by House Devine ever since the Emperor Himself led an expedition to bring it into the fledgling Imperium and left a significant garrison there. The planet thrived under the rule of Devine, the populace of its capital city of Lupercalia never knowing the true reason why the Emperor had taken it upon Himself to lead the force that claimed it. Unfortunately for the citizens of Molech, the Traitor Horus knew exactly what lay beneath the city that had been named in his honour -- a Warp Gate which, it was said, had allowed the Emperor to convene with the Ruinous Powers themselves. When Loyalist forces became aware of the Traitor fleet's approach, they mustered at Molech. As well as a trio of Titan Legions -- the Legio Gryphonicus, Legio Crucius, and Legio Fortidus -- there were elements of each of the Imperium's fighting forces, including nearly a dozen Knight Houses which owed fealty to Devine. The Traitor force was equally impressive, featuring no fewer than four Titan Legions: the Legio Vulpa, Legio Interfector, Legio Vulcanum I, and the infamous Legio Mortis. As the Warmaster unleashed a massive coordinated assault, the planet's defenders were thrown into disarray when the Plasma Reactor of an Imperator-class Titan, Paragon of Terra, was destroyed. Thousands of Loyalists were immolated in a blinding flash as a miniature sun erupted from the Titan's core to leave a smoking crater half a Terran mile wide. In the wake of the catastrophic blast, the spearhead of Traitor Titans marched through the gap in the Imperial lines. At the height of the battle, House Devine revealed its true allegiance to the Warmaster, its treachery unveiled at a pivotal moment, heralding a slaughter from which only a handful of Loyalists escaped. Caught between the treacherous Knights of House Devine and Horus' rampant forces, the shattered remnants of Molech's defenders were slaughtered without mercy. They were totally defeated, so brutally that only one in a hundred of the troops of the Imperial Army survived the campaign. After his passage through the portal into the Realm of Chaos, Horus won the full blessing of the Ruinous Powers as their champion. His drive on Terra seemed unstoppable.
- Battle of Beta-Garmon, "The Titandeath" (009-013.M31) - House Devine took part in the long and savage Beta-Garmon campaign, which included hundreds of war zones across dozens of worlds. During this conflict, House Devine provided Knight support to both the Traitor Legio Vulpa and the Legio Mortis. Even before the greater armies of the Warmaster Horus reached the star cluster, the battle lines had long since been drawn, and fighting had been going on for many Terran years. It was a cauldron of battle that would consume millions of lives before its end and see the demise of entire Titan Legions, earning this campaign the dire moniker of the "Titandeath." The Beta-Garmon Cluster, also known as the gateway to the throneworld of Terra, was the last hurdle that the Warmaster Horus' forces had to overcome before they reached the Imperium's capital world. Heavily fortified by the Loyalists, Beta-Garmon would become one of the greatest and bloodiest battles of the Horus Heresy, as well as one of the longest-lasting.
Notable House Devine Knights
- Banelash (Knight Errant) - The Knight Errant mount of Albard Devine.
- Argent Sabre (Questoris Knight Paladin) - A Knight Paladin that served during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras. Argent Sabre is depicted above shortly before the fall of the Legio Crucius Imperator-class Titan Paragon of Terra during the Battle of Molech.
- Argent Vindicator (Questoris Knight Paladin) - The Freeblade Knight Paladin mount of Leoke Argent.
- Balefire (Cerastus Knight Lancer) - Balefire was a Cerastus Knight Lancer that served during both the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras. When House Devine turned against their allies during the Battle of Molech, Balefire acted without hesitation, falling upon those it was previously assigned to defend. The Knight soon exemplified the wanton decadence practiced by House Devine. Favouring brutal strikes against an enemy household's leadership, long was the list of Knight houses that bore a grudge against Balefire and its pilots.
Notable House Devine Personnel
- Lord Cyprian Devine "The Hellblade" - Imperial Commander of Molech, Knight Seneschal and head of House Devine at the time of the Horus Heresy. Cyprian was loyal to the Emperor, but was assassinated by his son Raeven Devine.
- Cebella Devine - Adoratrice Drakina consort of Lord Cyprian Devine, mother of the twin siblings Raeven and Lyx Devine and secret occult practitioner of the forbidden faith of the Serpent god of Molech.
- Albard Devine - First scion and heir of Lord Devine, it was Albard who eventually led the house into damnation, killing his two half-siblings to claim rulership of the house during the Battle of Molech.
- Raeven Devine - First Knight and second scion of Lord Cyprian Devine, half-brother of Albard, who killed his father Cyprian so that he might rule the house in place of his older brother. Raeven and his sister were slain in turn by their half-brother Albard during the Battle of Molech.
- Lyx Devine - Daughter of Cyprian and Cebella Devine, half-sister and Adoratrice Sybaris to Albard, she was the twin sister and lover of her brother Raeven Devine and was ultimately slain by her half-brother Albard when he took back control of the house during the Battle of Molech. Lyx was an unsanctioned psyker and secret occult practitioner of the faith of the Serpent god of Molech.
Loyalist Space Marine Legions
Traitor Space Marine Legions
House Devine exhibited a distinct preference for the deployment of Cerastus Knight armours, with Divisio Militaris records indicating that the household numbered roughly 200 before the invasion of Molech, with over half that number being Knight Lancer and Knight Castigator armours, marking Devine as a Secundus-grade house.
It is estimated that, contrary to the rapid decline of many households' numbers during the Horus Heresy, the strength of House Devine actually increased during this tumultuous era. This growth can be attributed to two factors: the scavenging of Knight armours from the Loyalist households on Molech and the ready acceptance of Dark Mechanicum war machines in the household's ranks, with Devine Scions serving as test subjects for the various twisted designs produced by many traitorous Forge Worlds.
The colours of House Devine were maroon, deep purple, white and gold. Since their fall to Chaos, the war walkers of House Devine are now clad in bright pink or purple pastels, the garish colours commonly used by those who serve the Pleasure God Slaanesh.
Prior to the Imperial Compliance of Molech, the original heraldry of House Devine was a "naga" (a serpentine creature native to the planet) that stood rampant. The adopted heraldry of the entwined Imperial eagle-and-naga was incorporated following the nearly bloodless Compliance action that brought Molech into the Imperial fold in 869.M30.
This dual heraldry symbolised House Devine's equally divided loyalty between their house and the Imperium. But some of the more haughty Nobles of Molech viewed this updated heraldry as a monstrously arrogant means of Imperial control, one which seemed to suit the emergent galactic Human empire perfectly.
As the naga was also heavily utilised in symbology associated with the planet's ancient worship of "serpent gods," House Devine altered its heraldry to include an Imperial Aquila, showing it as dominant over the old ways. This alteration, first borne by many of the household's Knight armours during the Battle of Molech, was viewed as a constant reminder of Imperial control by the more hardline elements of House Devine's nobility.
Following the treachery of House Devine against the Emperor, many of its Knights removed any evidence of the Imperial Aquila, proclaiming that the household was no longer shackled to a foreign master; that many amongst the household quickly adopted the Eye of Horus or symbols of the Warp entities the Traitors called upon was a fact largely ignored by those who had long derided the Emperor.
- Adeptus Titanicus - The Horus Heresy: Rulebook (Specialty Game), pg. 72
- Adeptus Titanicus - The Horus Heresy: Titandeath (Specialty Game), pg. 95
- Adeptus Titanicus - The Horus Heresy: Doom of Molech (Specialty Game), pg. 46
- Adeptus Titanicus - The Horus Heresy: Traitor Legios (Specialty Game), pp. 74-77
- Codex: Imperial Knights (6th Edition), pp. 28-29, 102-103
- White Dwarf 190 (UK), "Epic: Slaanesh War Machines," by Gav Thorpe, pg. 27
- The Imperial Truth (Anthology), "The Devine Adoratrice" (Short Story) by Graham McNeill
- Vengeful Spirit (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Warhammer Community - Doom of Molech: What's In the Book
- Warhammer Community - What is the Battle of Molech?