- "Honour thy word and honour thy debt, and you shall bring honour back to House Hawkshroud."
- —Krastellan motto
House Hawkshroud is an Imperial Knight house of the Questor Imperialis that has strong ties to the Imperium of Man. To the noble Knights of Hawkshroud, honour is the single most important virtue of all. So essential to their way of life is the esteem and reputation of their house that Hawkshroud's Knights will honour any call to arms from those that have earned their loyalty or respect. It is for this reason that, at any given time, almost all of House Hawkshroud's Knights are away on campaigns spread far and wide across the galaxy in support of those that have earned their respect.
Valiant and steadfast, these mighty Nobles willingly march out to war and even lay down their own lives to uphold past alliances. Though he would never admit it, the ruler of House Hawkshroud, Viscount Tudon, fears the day that his homeworld of Krastellan comes under attack. With so many Knights scattered across the galaxy, his skeleton force would need significant support to defend Krastellan against a determined enemy. But would Hawkshroud's allies come to their aid as readily to honour past bonds of friendship?
There is no knightly house more loyal than House Hawkshroud. Its Nobles have cultivated an impeccable reputation for honouring their debts and keeping their word regardless of the personal cost, and those that enter into oaths of allegiance with Hawkshroud know that when they call for support it will be forthcoming. For this reason the Knights of Krastellan are often on campaign, fulfilling the promises of their lords and laying down their lives to uphold past alliances.
This culture of oath-debt is woven into the society of House Hawkshroud's homeworld of Krastellan, where even among the peasants a man's word is his bond. An eerie, haunted place, its desolate moors and black hills stretch in all directions under skies heavy with freezing rain. While other Knight Worlds embrace a degree of advanced technology, the Nobles of Krastellan see anything more than is required for the continued operation of their Knights as an extravagance and the first step on the road to weakness. So it is that much of Krastellan remains primitive, peasants farming the damp earth and herding cattle, while the Nobles live as their ancestors did ten thousand Terran years before.
Unlike many other knightly houses, Hawkshroud's Knights often bear campaign markings, army badges and other such emblems demonstrating loyalty to those they have sworn to aid. These serve as a sign of dedication to the cause of their allies, and also act to strengthen the bonds of brotherhood between the Knights and those they fight alongside. After all, House Hawkshroud is proud to stand by those that have stood by them in the past. The house motto is, unsurprisingly, "No request for aid shall be denied."
Viscount Tudon has never refused a valid request for aid from his allies, and those that enter into oaths of allegiance with Hawkshroud know that when they call for support it will be forthcoming. For this reason the Nobles of Krastellan are often on campaign, honouring the debts of their lords and lending their considerable might to Imperial armies, Planetary Governors or Space Marine Chapters. So it has been for hundreds of standard years and so it will remain as long as the yellow banners of Hawkshroud fly above the viscount's grey granite tower, the honour of the house bought and paid for with the blood of its Nobles.
Krastellan, the Honourable Realm
Located in the northern reaches of the Ultima Segmentum, close to the Blood Angels Space Marine Chapter's homeworld of Baal, lies the Knight World of Krastellan. An eerie, haunted place, its desolate moors and black hills stretch in all directions under skies heavy with freezing rain. The Krastellian villages huddle from their perpetual miserable weather in windswept valleys and broken shorelines, their people eking out a life from herding docile heath-cattle or fishing the edges of the foaming, storm-tossed sea. On craggy rain-slick rocks ancient stone keeps are home and families live in drafty, dripping rooms by the sputtering light of open fires. While other Knight Worlds embrace a degree of advanced technology, the Nobles of Kratellan see anything more than is required for the continued operation of their Knights as an extravagance and the first step on the road to weakness.
So it is that much of Krastellan remains hopelessly primitive and pre-industrial, peasants farming the damp earth and herding cattle, while the Nobles and their kin live as their ancient ancestors did ten thousand standard years before. Woven into their society is the Krastellian culture of honour and oath-debt. Even among the peasants a man's word is his bond, and to break one's word is the highest crime imaginable.
Such is the impact of this honour code on society that the citizens of Krastellan are very careful when they speak to one another, using a complex and formal language that outsiders can find difficult to interpret. This is in part a reflection of the painful politeness that the nobility impose upon their people, but largely so that a man knows where he stands. Words like bond, oath and promise hold much weight when used by the people of Krastellan, and more than one outsider has inadvertently entered into a life-debt by making an offhand remark or through casual insincerity.
The Nobles of Krastellan take this oath-giving to even greater extremes, and before a child is born he will be honour-bound to fulfil the debts of his family. This only intensifies as he grows older and undertakes the Ritual of Becoming. A Noble of House Hawkshroud has little say over where he will go and whom he will aid, his destiny given over to the needs of the house. It is the great irony of Krastellan that the more power a man has the less freedom he enjoys. It is said that over a hundred Terran years before Viscount Tudon was born his life had been mapped out for him, every alliance to be honoured, every war to be fought and every world he would ever set foot upon. Marriage among the Nobles is equally restrictive, the different subservient houses of Hawkshroud compelled to offer up children to each other's future generations, leading to a complex network of familial connections.
To record these oaths and debts of honour it is the duty of the Viscount to oversee the Oath Council, a group of Nobles who keep a tally of the house's pacts and promises. Only the Viscount may put an oath to the council and only he may declare one removed. It is of course a never-ending task, as for every pact completed dozens more are added. Little wonder then that Nobles do not complain when they must crusade into the stars to fight the foes of the Imperium -- far better in their minds to be tearing apart enemy war machines with their Reaper Chainswords or pulverising massed formations of infantry with Battle Cannon rounds, than have to oversee the union of their offspring or quibble with other households over ancient promises that have no bearing on their lives.
Krastellian society survives and thrives upon its rigid system of oath and honour, though for a young Noble it can be a long and treacherous path to rise to greatness with his honour intact. A wise Noble does not enter into oaths lightly, as to break his word or go back upon a debt is a greater sin than murder among the Krastellian nobility. However, the only true way for a Noble to prove his worth is by taking vows and upholding his honour and the honour of his house, his reputation becoming the currency he uses to advance in standing. Thus to be the greatest of the Hawkshroud Knights a man must be both willing to take up arms against the deadliest of foes or most vile aliens, but equally wise enough to know when giving his word upon an impossible task is the same as breaking it.
Nowhere is this more pronounced than when it comes to admittance into the ranks of the Knights of House Hawkshroud. As the oldest and most powerful house on Krastellan, it is a singular honour to serve in the Viscount's detachments. Once a Noble is accepted into the Viscount's service he is permitted to bear the Viscount's winged coat of arms upon his Knight and take the oaths of binding.
These oaths give his Knight and house special privileges and rights among his peers, for as long as he serves. Thus to reach the greatest rank within House Hawkshroud a Noble must live a life of sacrifice and honour above even that of his peers. At the turning of each solar year on Krastellan it falls to the Oath Council to judge the worth of each Noble, weighing up their deeds from the past year and the tally of victories against defeats. Family, breeding and wealth are all secondary to the Noble's deeds and reputation, the vows he has honoured and the oaths he has fulfilled either lifting up or casting him down in the critical eyes of the council.
Ritual of the Foresworn
House Hawkshroud never forsakes its oaths, but they are often "gifted" to another. Once a Terran year in the Viscount's granite tower, its grey stone dull with rain and tarnished by time, Tudon gathers his Nobles for the Ritual of the Foresworn. This is the time when he may bequeath an oath upon a Noble, or a Noble may surrender an oath to another. It is the responsibility of the Viscount to decide which oaths may be gifted in this way, but as with most things he is not above the influence of his Nobles.
Newly risen members of the house can therefore expect to be given the oaths deemed either unimportant, or lacking in sufficient glory, by their more experienced brethren, their first forays into the void taking them to remote cursed worlds and crumbling Imperial cities to fight enemies largely beneath the notice of such grand warriors. The most dangerous and difficult oaths are reserved for those that have earned them. Though the Nobles of House Hawkshroud might play at politics they are not cowards, and none would ever consider using their power and influence to spare themselves from battle.
Chamber of Curses
There is no person more hated by House Hawkshroud than an oath-breaker; the very thought of violating his sacred word is physically repulsive to a Noble of Krastellan. There exists in the vaults below the Viscount's tower a room sealed by heavy iron gates and guarded at all times by stern faced men-at-arms. Within its gloomy interior a man known only as the Keeper sleeps, his pallid white skin a testament to a life lived far from the light of the sun. In fact the Keeper has spent almost every day of his life in the chamber, brought there by the current Viscount as a boy to serve a very special purpose. Very occasionally, perhaps no more than once or twice in a lifetime, the heavy iron gate will creak open and the Viscount himself will enter. He will then tell the man a name, no other conversation passing between the two, before the Viscount takes his leave.
Armed with the name, the Keeper carves it into the walls of the chamber, to take a place beside only a handful of others. These are the names of House Hawkshroud Knights that have broken their oaths, and the secret of their identity will die with the old man and the Viscount. So shameful are the oath-breakers to House Hawkshroud that only when a new Viscount is elected does he learn of the chamber. With his dying breath, the Viscount's predecessor tells him that he must choose a Keeper to record the names of the oath-breakers and pass the secret on when he in turn is succeeded.
Noble oath-breakers of House Hawkshroud do not fall under the same laws as the common men of their homeworld, and are seldom executed for their heinous crimes. Rather, they are stripped of their ties to house and family and are forced to become Freeblades, never to return to their world. Some choose this path willingly as punishment for failure to honour their oaths, though many do not, for a Noble's name is as much a part of them as is their blood. Either way, they are never spoken of and their true names are destined to be forgotten. Forgotten, that is, save by the Viscount and a man who will grow old in a cold, stone room.
- Defence of Krastellan (456.M38) - Knightly houses are known to fight alongside Astra Militarum, Space Marine and other Imperial forces whenever they feel it is their duty to do so. Sometimes this will be in return for help they received when defending their homeworld against alien invasion, as in the example seen in 456.M38. The 832nd Lord of House Hawkshroud received aid against Drukhari raiding parties from the Mordian Iron Guard. The Mordian troops, under the command of Colonel Vargrif, helped defend the Hawkshrouds' stronghold against the Dark Eldar, foiling an attempt to kidnap Lord Hawkshroud's consort in the process. Since that day, the Hawkshrouds feel honour-bound to provide aid to any descendants of the Vargrif line, should they be called upon to do so.
- Gods and Monsters (678.M41) - The Khorne Daemonkin warband of Brazen Beasts go to war against the Knights of House Hawkshroud on a Death World known only as XIII. Vast war engines duel across the haunted ruinscape, rendering all to rubble. Finally, the Brazen Beasts are victorious after the great Lord of Skulls known as the "Caged God" slays Hawkshroud's Baron Arcus in a titanic duel.
- Tyros Gulf Campaign (Unknown Date.M41) - Honouring a debt that dated back to the Horus Heresy, a household detachment of Hawkshroud Knights fought beside the Imperial Fists Chapter during the Tyros Gulf Campaign. The Knights engaged Eldar from the Alaitoc Craftworld alongside the sons of Rogal Dorn in a number of crucial engagements. Most notable of these battles took place on the world of Lobas, where the canny Illic Nightspear launched a surprise attack, seeking to slay the Chapter Master of the Imperial Fists, Vladimir Pugh. The Knights proved instrumental in helping to fend off the xenos assault, earning great praise from the traditionally stoic Chapter Master. The Knights have yet to return to their homeworld, leading many to believe that they are now Oathsworn to the service of the Imperial Fists.
Notable House Hawkshroud Knights
- Covenant of War - Knight Paladin of Sir Tormund.
- Legacy of Honour - Knight Paladin of Sir Dunhand.
- Reign of Justice - Knight Errant of Sir Hanrald.
- Unbroken Truth - Knight Errant of Sir Kelmort.
- Forsworn Wrath - Knight Gallant of Sir Garrock.
- The Revered Fury - Knight Crusader of Sir Barthannel.
- Pyrrhus Angel - Knight Crusader of Sir Mattius.
- Oathkeeper - Armiger Helverin of Sir Morlian.
- Headsman - Armiger Warglaive of the deposed Duke Ritter.
Notable House Hawkshroud Personnel
- Viscount Tudon - Tudon is the current Lord of House Hawkshroud and Viscount of Krastellan.
- Baron Arcus (KIA) - Baron Arcus was slain by the Lord of Skulls known as the Caged God of the Brazen Beasts warband of Khorne Daemonkin while he and his household fought the servants of the Blood God on the Death World of XIII.
- Horan Fayne - A jealous rival of Lord Erlund Eyre, Horan Fayne plotted to take stewardship over the Eyre Castle and all its lands and holdings. He challenged Lord Eyre's oldest son Dorlund Eyre to a blood-duel. In the traditions of the mountain families of Krastellan, it was a fight to first blood. Before his father could forbid it, his younger son Tormund Eyre swore an oath to Dorlund to be his second, vowing to fight in his place if he could not. Once uttered, not even Erlund dared break his son's oath, though he understood the price it might carry far more than the younger Eyre. Horan had hatched a plot to remove the Eyre brothers as rivals for the coveted attention of Viscount Tudon and the Hawkshroud Knights. Bribing a Bondsman of Castle Eyre to poison the older brother with bile-fly sickness, he ensured that Tormund Eyre would be forced to fight in his place. Tormund was no match for the older Horan, who cruelly plunged his blade into Tormund's spine, crippling the younger Eyre brother, robbing him of the use of his legs. Erlund Eyre was enraged, though he could not make grievance with Lord Fayne for the actions of his son, as no tradition had been breached. In the end, Dorlund surrendered his chance at becoming a Knight, convincing his father to pass the Viscount's single invitation to Tormund Eyre. Despite his grievous injury, Tormund begged his father to let him undergo the Ritual of Becoming when he was old enough. The younger Eyre brother did not disappoint, as he displayed the strongest connection to the Throne Mechanicum seen in a generation. Quickly rising to the attention of the Viscount he was soon accepted into the ranks of the Hawkshroud Knights. Horan Fayne also "earned" his place among the Viscount's Knights, rising from the ranks through one scheme after another, all the while keeping to the letter of Krastellan's rigid laws. Though Horan could not compete with Tormund in knightly duels, the cruel, young Fayne Noble was quick to turn the other Knights against him, branding him with a nickname -- "the Half-Knight." While Tormund Eyre was away from his world fighting on campaign against the enemies of the Imperium, he received word that a bile-fly plague had swept through Eyre Castle, stronger than anything seen before, killing the entire Eyre family. Horan Fayne, now Lord of the Fayne family after the "untimely" death of his father, took stewardship of the Eyre estates in Tormund's absence.
- Tormund Eyre - Not all Nobles are able warriors outside their Knight suits, and Tormund Eyre, the "Half-Knight", is living proof of this. Crippled by the blade of his rival Horan Fayne in a blood-duel, he was but a youth and lost the use of his legs. However, Tormund still managed to earn a place for himself in the Viscount's personal retinue of Knights. With an instinctive understanding of his war machine and a frighteningly strong connection to the Throne Mechanicum, he has proven himself time and again as a formidable warrior, despite the limitation of his body. He has fought the width and breadth of the Imperium, crushing Heretics and destroying the multitudes of enemies of the Imperium. It was while he was away on campaign that he received word of the death of his entire family by a bile-fly plague and that his hated rival, Horan Fayne, now Lord of the Fayne household, took stewardship of the Eyre estates in his absence. Though Tormund longed to return to Krastellan and bring Horan to account for his crimes, he had accepted the mantle of the Oathsworn. Instead, Tormund made a vow to himself -- one day, when his duty to House Hawkshroud was complete, he would return and have his revenge.
- Kelmort - Even by the high standards of House Hawkshroud, Kelmort has a reputation for honour and honesty. The Noble's absolute adherence to the truth has made Kelmort very unpopular with his fellows who find his manner off-putting in a society built upon carefully worded courtesy and long-winded civility. Even worse is the effect the Noble has sometimes had on the allies of House Hawkshroud. On more than one occasion he has refused to fight alongside Astra Militarum regiments, accusing their commanders and their men of cowardice in the face of the enemy or refusing to follow the orders of Imperial Guard commanders during critical moments of a campaign. Kelmort's devotion to the truth has not always been detrimental, and on one occasion it uncovered a nest of Traitors in the midst of his Imperial allies.
- Barthannel - The living example of House Hawkshroud's motto, "No request for aid shall be denied," is Sir Barthannel. A well-voyaged Baron, he has honoured requests from across the galaxy, and fought alongside Astra Militarum regiments raised from over one hundred different planets, and no fewer than twelve Chapters of Space Marines. Barthannel's Knight Crusader is the Revered Fury. It bears regalia from only the most memorable of his many campaigns, most notably the Brotherhood Honours presented to him by the Great Wolf Logan Grimnar of the Space Wolves himself. Because of his dedication to his duty, it has been many solar decades since Sir Barthannel has returned to House Hawkshroud's homeworld, Krastellan. Now, though, having received word of the peril facing his Noble house, Barthannel makes haste to return at last and lend his might to the battle.
- Mattius - Sir Mattius is a Crusader Knight of House Hawkshroud, a vassal of Sir Kenrick and one of his chosen lance-brothers. Sir Mattius marches to war in the Knight suit known as Pyrrhus Angel, a relic of the Dark Age of Technology. Over the millennia it has been refitted several times and now bears the armament of a Knight Crusader: the Rapid-Fire Battle Cannon, Ironstorm Missile Pod and Avenger Gatling Cannon. While Sir Mattius is a shining exemplar of honour and valour, his Knight suit earned its name for a less than honourable action. It's said the ancient war machine was once the instrument of hundreds of civilian deaths, a necessary precaution to prevent them being used as sacrifices for a daemonic incursion. Some believe their lives could have been saved, others not. Regardless, Pyrrhus Angel 's Machine Spirit (artificial intelligence) will never forget the high cost of victory. When a Noble inherits Pyrrhus Angel, the Knight suit will imbue him with a great sense of morality and compassion during the Ritual of Becoming in the hope such atrocities will never occur again. As the latest pilot of Pyrrhus Angel, Sir Mattius excels at long-ranged devastation. Every target is carefully picked out and every firing solution meticulously calculated before he brings his firepower to bear. Death will come to those who deserve it, never to those who don't.
- Dunhand - Third sons seldom become Knights, as most are too old to undertake the Ritual of Becoming by the time their older siblings perish. Dunhand is one of the few third sons of Krastellan to rise to command a Knight suit, although he has never truly known acceptance from his lance-brothers. Despite his ability with blade and cannon, as well as his unflagging bravery in dozens of battles, he bears the stigma of being a third son, and not becoming a Knight pilot in the traditional manner. Years of this treatment has made Dunhand bitter toward his peers, and what began as an attempt to prove his worth in battle has turned into the venting of his seething anger upon the foe. Dunhand is a brooding, joyless man who lives with the knowledge that his dead brothers have long ago stolen his glory. Even the name of his Knight, Legacy of Honour, has become an unpleasant reminder that he is merely honouring their memory. To ease his own pain and quiet the incessant whispers of his siblings from the Throne Mechanicum, Dunhand throws himself into war with a singular fury.
- Garrock - Garrock serves as a knightly vassal to Baron Raptallious, and has proudly answered his liege's call to war many times. He is one of the "Oathsworn," a warrior sub-culture unique to House Hawkshroud. These Nobles develop such strong bonds with the Imperial forces they fight alongside that they stay on campaign far beyond the length of service that was initially offered or requested of them. In doing so the Oathsworn are, in essence, walking the path of the Freeblade Knight. Unlike true Freeblades, however, these lone Hawkshroud Knights continue to proudly bear their house's livery, and eventually seek to return to Krastellan, where they will be welcomed with honour.
- Hanrald - Before he was born, Hanrald was betrothed, the pairing carefully considered for the alliances it would bring and the quality of the progeny it might produce. For Terran years he trained in the martial disciplines of his house until he was fit to undertake the Becoming -- only once the sacred ritual was complete would he be considered worthy to meet his future wife, Miriam. Unfortunately for Hanrald he was called to war only solar days after earning his place on the Throne Mechanicum. Though he had not met her, Hanrald vowed to honour his betrothal to Miriam and return to her. For years Hanrald was absent from Krastellan, scouring the Pretorus Nebula of Aeldari Corsairs and earning a bloody reputation among the Imperium's crusading forces there. Unknown to Hanrald, while he brought the fire and death to the enemies of the Emperor, Miriam had died, struck down by a wasting fever, never having known her betrothed. By the time Hanrald returned to Krastellan, a veteran of the Pretorus Crusade, Miriam had been years in the ground. Overwhelmed by anguish and renewing his vows to his dead betrothed, he set off back into the void to vent his rage upon the enemies of Mankind. For many solar decades Hanrald has fought the length and breadth of the Ultima Segmentum, becoming a pitiless and bitter old man. Other Hawkshroud Nobles often find Hanrald's presence to be an ominous sign in a battle, the sense that he bears some manner of curse having grown from rumour to full-blown superstition over the years. Many Nobles also find Hanrald's methods disturbing and skirting the edges of honourable combat for one of their kind. Hanrald has become known to wound foes so he might take his time killing them. Rumour has it that Hanrald has forsaken everything but his vows to Miriam, including his honour. In recent years his behaviour has become more erratic, to the point that Viscount Tudon has forbidden him from returning to Krastellan until he can fulfill an oath debt to House Hawkshroud. Secretly Tudon would like Hanrald to take the mantle of a Freeblade or forsake his ties to Hawkshroud, but Hanrald remains at least partly devoted to his house, perhaps out of some lingering respect for Miriam's family. Whatever the case, Hanrald continues to fight with a ferocity and anger born of years of living with the injustice of Miriam's death.
- Morlian - Piloted by the sure-sighted Sir Morlian, the Armiger Helverin Oathkeeper has slain fourteen enemy aircraft to date.
- Ritter - The deposed Duke Ritter vents his anger and resentment at his loss of position by beheading the war engines and monsters of the enemy in his Armiger Warglaive Headsman.
The colours of House Hawkshroud are yellow, black and white.
The heraldry of House Hawkshroud is held in great reverence by its Knights. To bear its image on their Knight suits is an ambition to which every young Noble on Krastellan aspires. Indeed, to have one of their number inducted into the ranks of House Hawkshroud's Knights will bring a family both wealth and respect. For this reason, the mightiest dynasties on Krastellan will do everything in their power to ensure that their sons are accepted into the knightly order, thereby securing the future of their lineage. Failure to do so has been the ruin of many great families over the millennia.
The primary reason that House Hawkshroud's heraldry inspires such pride and devotion in its Nobles invariably comes from their disciplined upbringing. From an early age, the children of Krastellan are taught to honour and respect their fellows. Kindness is remembered and returned tenfold to those who offer it, and no request for aid is ever denied. Thus is House Hawkshroud famed for answering any call for aid, even if doing so will leave their own forces woefully understrength. As a result of this zealous sense of honour, Hawkshroud's Knights are well-versed in fighting battles against the odds.
Livery and Honour Markings
Hawkshroud adopted black as the sign of their allegiance to the Imperium, and so carry this shade and the associated Aquila on their suits' minor plates. Like many knightly houses, all members of this family have broadly similar personal heraldry. The strict code of honour with which the Nobles of House Hawkshroud are raised often results in many of its Knights being spread far and wide across the galaxy in support of those that have earned their loyalty and respect.
Unlike many of the other knightly houses, Hawkshroud's Knights often sport campaign markings, army badges, Space Marine Chapter symbols and other such emblems as a sign of respect for those they have sworn to aid in battle. This not only serves as a sign of dedication to the cause of their allies, but acts to strengthen the bonds of brotherhood between the Knights and those that they fight alongside. House Hawkshroud has some of the most unusual banners for a knightly house of the Questor Imperialis. While they retain their crest at the top of the banner, the lower section features the insignia of their allies, typically enclosed in a scroll motif.
- Codex: Imperial Knights (8th Edition), pp. 30-31
- Codex: Imperial Knights (7th Edition), pp. 44-45
- Codex: Imperial Knights (6th Edition), pp. 30, 43, 64-69
- Codex: Khorne Daemonkin (7th Edition), pg. 29
- The Imperial Knight Companion (6th Edition), pp. 13, 16, 19, 54-63
- White Dwarf Weekly 66 (02 May 2015), "Parade Ground," pp. 57-58