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House Vornherr, known also by the cognomens the "Luhnborg Uhlanii" and the "Bloody Dukes" before the Battle of Calth and the "Black Lancers" afterwards, was an Imperial Knight house of the Questor Imperialis that had direct ties of allegiance to the Imperium of Man.

This Knight house hailed from the Feudal World of Luhnborg-IX, located in the Ultima Segmentum, and were known to be an honourable company of warriors with a record of distinction within the Great Crusade and had, by fortune of war, sworn to Roboute Guilliman, primarch of the Ultramarines Legion, a binding oath. This was a promise which saw the majority of the house muster in the Veridia System for the auspicious Calth Conjunction in preparation for the Imperial assault by the Ultramarines and Word Bearers Legions against the Orks of the Ghaslakh Xeno-hold, and what ultimately led to the house's terrible losses in the Battle of Calth.

When the Warmaster Horus ordered the Calth Conjunction, the Knights of House Vornherr did not hesitate to answer. Though a small contingent remained to secure their holdings within Luhnborg, the majority mustered at Calth, several hundred Knight armours marching in answer to the primarch's call.

Such loyalty was to be unjustly rewarded, for the betrayal enacted upon Calth dealt a severe blow to House Vornherr, reducing their numbers to fewer than half a centuria of Nobles. With their numbers scattered across the galaxy on secondments to other warfronts, the household issued a call for withdrawal stating their oaths to fight until death fulfilled.

Those that remained obscured their bold colours with black and set themselves upon a path of vengeance and eventual destruction. Only a few aging barons remained upon their homeworld, setting aside choleric humours for pragmatism to ensure their legacy was rebuilt once more.

House Vornherr are held as a pristine example of an honourable company of warriors, spoken of with reverence earned by a record of distinction within the Great Crusade. Wardens of the Luhnborg System, their house emerged as victors in a millennia-long conflict against rival Knight houses whose history was eradicated in the wake of Vornherr's ascension.

Chronicles penned by the hands of House Vornherr claim such actions were necessary in the face of a terrible emerging evil, though the truth of such a claim is impossible to verify. The erasure of their foes from all records is perhaps the only black mark upon the reputation of House Vornherr.

House History[]

Origins[]

Vornherr Cerastus Knight-Acheron

House Vornherr colour scheme as displayed by the Cerastus Knight-Acheron Surcease of Sorrow. This Knight was piloted by Duke Sorvak Bhaevenwulf before his death at the Battle of Calth.

The Scions of House Vornherr were renowned the length and breadth of the Ultima Segmentum, for they served with great honour and achievement, first in the Great Crusade's cause in the later Imperial Compliance campaigns of the 12th Expeditionary Fleet and subsequently in numerous operations across the leading edge of the wars of the Eastern Fringe.

In terms of their number of war engines alone, the Knights of Luhnborg-IX were counted as one of the greatest houses in the region and in bearing the most aristocratic of all their class.

Each Scion of the house was a noble of high birth, refined in demeanour and lofty in ideal, educated not just in war, but in culture, philosophy, rhetoric and all of those pursuits that would raise Mankind from the darkness of Old Night and, in time, turn Feral World savages into civilised subjects of Terra. All such intentions were to die at the Battle of Calth, however, leaving behind the remnants of a once-noble house, now forlorn and desiring nothing so less than a vengeful death.

The Knights of House Vornherr hailed from the Luhnborg System, itself part of a scattered stellar drift deep in the gulf between the galactic spiral arms. What led the colony arks of Old Earth to settle this system cannot be known and it is thought likely that the colonists who made it their home were simply washed up there by the capricious tides of the Warp.

In time, seven Knightly households rose up across the system, an unprecedented number in what little remains of the histories of Humanity prior to the Unification Wars. When the darkness of Old Night fell and consumed the galaxy, the Luhnborg System too was plunged into an era of ceaseless war.

For many long Terran centuries, the seven Knight houses of Luhnborg-IX fought bitterly against one another and against the numerous foes that descended upon their system from the cold void beyond. Whatever madness had gripped the galaxy at large must have tainted them too, for no one house ever sought to broker peace and unite as one against the foes that assailed them all. Instead, the houses vied for supremacy and a militaristic culture arose, one in which mercy was regarded as weakness and compromise treachery.

Luhnborg's wars ground on for a thousand standard years and more until, at length, one house rose from the bloody tumult and gained ascendency over the others. Rather than displaying magnanimity however, the victor claimed the lands and the Knight armours of the vanquished as its prize of war and burned their standards in a great, symbolic pyre. In a single night, six ancient Knight households symbolically ceased to exist and only the bloody scarlet and sun-fire yellow livery of the victor remained.

The colours of the defeated houses were erased from the rolls and their coats of arms defaced, whilst their sons and daughters were offered the choice of assimilation by marriage into the bloodlines of their new overlords, or exile, albeit one they must undertake without the benefit of their Knight armours. The names of the six vanquished houses will ever remain unknown; the name of the victorious house was Vornherr.

Generations later, the grand masters of House Vornherr would claim that their forebears were forced to lay their fellow houses low in this manner to end some terrible evil that had overcome them. Of course, this claim can never be verified and long has it been said that to the victor falls the privilege of writing the histories of its kind.

Having forcibly united the worlds of the Luhnborg System, coerced the defeated Scions to join its ranks and claimed many hundreds of Knight armours, House Vornherr assumed the position of a ruling aristocracy, and within the span of a handful of generations, all traces of the vanquished houses disappeared and the culture and traditions of the Vornherr supplanted all.

After assimilating so many other bloodlines, the genealogical tree of House Vornherr was a sprawling mass that by its very essence nurtured internecine rivalries and plots, and its Scions raised themselves ever higher above their subjects until they existed in a rarefied world of privilege and high culture. This was nonetheless tempered by intrigue and the need to assume a unified defence against the myriad alien horrors that would periodically assail them from the depths of the void.

Great Crusade[]

Vornherr Iconography

Official Questoris Familia crest of House Vornherr

In time, strangers appeared at the verges of the Luhnborg System who were not intent upon the destruction, enslavement or consumption of its peoples; a flotilla of scout frigates under the command of the veteran and celebrated aristocrat-explorer Rogue Trader Militant Kohnwallis pressed cautiously in from the system's borders, the leading element of the 12th Expeditionary Fleet's pathfinder units illuminating the vast, stygian gulfs between spiral arms.

Possessed of few spacecraft, none of which were capable of Warp travel and none a match for the Rogue Trader's flotilla, there was little House Vornherr could do to oppose its advance.

A veteran of a hundred such contacts, Rogue Trader Militant Kohnwallis displayed the utmost tact in his opening vox-hail setting the rulers of House Vornherr at their ease so that by the time the Imperial delegation made planetfall at Luhnborg-IX before the gates of the household's ancient manse, it was clear that hostilities were largely out of the question.

Soon thereafter Duke Khorvun Bhaevenwulf, lord of the House of Vornherr and grand master of its Knightly Order, and Rogue Trader Kohnwallis entered into talks. It quickly became clear that the two men shared many characteristics of temper and mien, and both were drawn from aristocratic bloodlines which shared certain trappings of the nobility of Ancient Terra, suggesting a common descent which provided the foundation of subsequent negotiations.

Within a solar month, those talks were concluded and Duke Bhaevenwulf announced that his house would ascend to the Imperium. Luhnborg-IX would remain independent of the Mechanicum, to start out with at least, for its size and power made a pact with any Forge World largely unnecessary, and when the bulk of the 12th Expeditionary Fleet laid over at Luhnborg on its great voyage towards the southeastern galactic fringe, Vornherr took its place amongst the crusading hosts, leaving a cadre of veteran Knight-barons behind to defend its holdings and govern its people.

Upon aligning itself to the Great Crusade, House Vornherr was present at and central to many of the 12th Expeditionary Fleet's greatest victories. Vornherr's Knights took part in the latter half of the 12th's Long March to Ultramar, where they confronted numerous xenos strains, several of which they knew of old and took immense satisfaction in scouring from the stars for all time.

Others were long known to Mankind at large, in particular the barbarous Orks, whose monstrous engines of war the Knights of House Vornherr had confronted in battle on numerous occasions before Imperial contact and soon became increasingly adept at slaying. Other foes Humanity had never encountered before and never would again, indescribable alien horrors banished from existence by the deeds of House Vornherr.

The greatest and most portentous battle the Knights of House Vornherr fought in would be the First Scouring of Jardingris. It was here on this grave-world, under the baleful light of its black sun, that the house first took to the field of battle under the overall command of the Primarch Roboute Guilliman as part of a combined force consisting of twelve full chapters of the Legiones Astartes Ultramarines, the might of the Legio Metallica, ten cohorts of the Solar Auxilia and scores of Excertus Imperialis line regiments, along with the Conquestor companies of Rogue Trader Kohnwallis.

The war against the anti-Human revenant-organisms of Jardingris was a bitter one indeed, and by its end the necrogenic xenos strain had paid for its crime of existence with its utter extermination. The victory came at the cost of a dozen Titans and a hundred Knights, tens of thousands of casualties amongst the Human infantry and almost three thousand Astartes were slain; a truly phenomenal tally for a single planetary assault, but one not unexpected given the threat.

At the height of the victory parade, carried out at the conclusion of the war amid the dust of that now-silent world, the duke of House Vornherr went down on one knee in his battle-scarred Cerastus Knight-Lancer before Guilliman's review stand, and his entire house echoed his act.

In that moment, the duke pledged his house to fight alongside the hosts of the Five Hundred Worlds of Ultramar unto death, and although detachments of Vornherr would be committed to battle under other primarchs, in particular Magnus the Red in the gruelling jungle wars of Sophias-Mors and Rogal Dorn at the costly Delta-Arbuthnot Landings, the house would hold none in such high regard as the Lord of Ultramar.

Thus when the Warmaster Horus ordered the Calth Conjunction at the Veridia System in preparation for war against the Orks of the Ghaslakh Xeno-hold, the Knights of House Vornherr were proud to answer.

In the aftermath of the Triumph at Ullanor, which the house had received the honour of attending, House Vornherr had separated into numerous detachments assigned to war zones across the Imperium, and as the Ultramarines voyaged from the Sol System to Veridia, so the scattered elements of House Vornherr mustered at their home system of Luhnborg.

There Duke Sorvak Bhaevenwulf, the heir of old Duke Khorvun, tasked some of his most trusted and experienced barons with guarding House Vornherr's ancient keep before leading the remainder of his force -- a formidable army of several hundred Knight armours and their supporting Sacristans -- to the muster at Calth.

Horus Heresy[]

Legend of the Dark Messenger[]

Within the House of Vornherr, a particular legend pertains to the cataclysm at Calth which cannot be independently verified but is taken as sovereign truth by the Scions of the house. The tale recounts that upon the very eve of the Word Bearers' betrayal at what became the Battle of Calth, Duke Bhaevenwulf had completed a review of his entire house upon the landing field at Platia City and afterwards retired to his pavilion justly satisfied by the strength at his command.

Gazing southward across the star-lit ocean, the duke is said to have sensed a presence behind him and turned. A robed stranger had entered the tent having slipped past the house's guards and stood leafing idly through the many scrolls, maps and data-slates heaped upon the large command table at its centre.

Taking the measure of the stranger with a practised glance, the duke knew him for a messenger rather than an assassin, and demanded he be out with his missive and leave. That missive was a simple one, an offer delivered in a whisper from beneath a hooded cowl. The Warmaster Horus would bestow his favour upon the House of Vornherr in honour of its service to the Great Crusade and in recognition of its devotion to a higher ideal its forebears had shown when they had crushed the other six Knight houses of Luhnborg.

The duke's pride swelled, but he sensed duplicity and the trap of hubris and so demanded to hear the price of the Warmaster's largesse. "No price but obedience," replied the messenger, but the offer would have to be accepted immediately and in doing so, the Knights of Vornherr would be provided the means to depart Calth before the dawn.

Not a moment passed before the old duke gave his reply, dismissing the messenger with his words. Vornherr had bent the knee to Guilliman and would heed the call to war. The duke had sworn that his house would follow Ultramar, an oath it would maintain unto death.

Doom of House Vornherr[]

"Fear not the guns of their Titans nor the death they promise. We are the Scions of Luhnborg and though we may fall today, they will forever be stained by treachery and doomed to be forgotten, while our courage and honour will see our names echo for millenia!"

— Heredia Vornherr, Seneschal of House Vornherr

At the moment of the death of Calth Veridia Anchor, the bulk of the Knights of Vornherr were arrayed in a great phalanx on the muster field at Platia City, with perhaps a further quarter forming a demi-house assigned to shadow the Titans of the Legio Praesagius in the coming war and thereby mustered with them at the great city of Ithraca.

The departure of the house from the surface had not long begun and one orbital conveyor, the Iaxth-CV, had embarked its cargo of the house's war machines but had yet to lift off, two dozen Knights secured in its hold, including Duke Bhaevenwulf himself.

When the Mechanicum's planetary data-manifold suddenly fell silent, the Sacristans gathered in echelon upon the muster field set to invoking their own localised command and control net, a task doomed to failure as the darkening skies overhead filled with the contrails of burning debris already falling from orbit.

The Sacristans had all but completed their task just over a solar hour after the Campanile had struck the orbital yards, mere seconds before the Word Bearers' planetary assault squadron, led by the warship Destiny's Hand, unleashed its bombardment of the southern island cities, and even though a sudden warning pulsed outwards through the mustered household at the speed of thought, none had time to heed it, for hell was quickly descending upon Platia City.

The Destiny's Hand is said to have loosed an atomic bombardment so potent that the city and every Knight gathered at its mustering field was incinerated in a creeping barrage of inexorable nuclear fire. As if anything could possibly have survived the assault, the Word Bearers followed it up with an attack of singular, almost vast overkill, as simultaneous waves of meson-converter attacks, rad-caster saturation and pin-point Lance strikes hammered home so that the island that had been Platia City's foundation was broken into rubble, the rubble scoured from the sea bed and vast swaths of the ocean around it vaporised.

Not a single Knight of House Vornherr was left upon the Platia battlefield, nor indeed did any living organism on the entire island survive.

At the moment of the death of Calth Veridia Yard, the orbital conveyor Iaxth-CV with its precious cargo still inside had performed an emergency launch as its auguries detected the incoming wall of missiles from above, and its ponderous bulk had been rising through the skies away from the target zone as the atomics struck.

The blast blinded its pilots and the electromagnetic fury of the assault all but burned out the conveyor's command systems, and even though the damaged craft struggled valiantly to reach Ithraca for an emergency landing, a wall of fire rising behind it, the wounded craft was soon spiralling towards the turbulent ocean entirely out of control.

The conveyor overshot its destination and crash-landed off the coast of Ithraca, the wreck rapidly settling to the sea bed. Those crew not killed on impact were quickly drowned, but the Knights inside survived, their systems keeping the pilot-scions alive as the starship's hull, intended to withstand the vacuum of the void, collapsed under the pressure of the ocean.

Recovered tactical in-load archives depict the scene as the doomed conveyor's interior flooded and Duke Bhaevenwulf girded his mighty Reaper Chainfist. With a grinding downwards stroke, he tore a great slash in the hull and as the ocean crashed in and the interior cargo space was flooded, the Knights inside were able to push through the breach and into the open sea beyond.

Only fragmented battlelogs exist from which an account of the Knights' march across the sea bed can be constructed, and it is apparent from the garbled tacticae-vox traffic that passed between them that they had no way of knowing what had occurred in orbit. All they could attempt to do was head north towards the coast of Ithraca in the hope of linking up with outlying elements of the Legio Praesagius. They had no way of knowing that just over a solar hour into their sea bed trek, the remainder of their house would be gone and they would be its only survivors on Calth.

Scrolling data-tracks imprinted over the recovered pict-feeds showed at that point a sudden and drastic rise in exterior temperature and in moments the seas through which the Knights trekked were boiling. With visibility reduced to almost zero, all that could be seen was the Knights' arc-lights stabbing through churning clouds of sea-debris, and as they pushed forwards, chunks of rock were torn from the sea floor by the blast and cast along the boiling tides, striking the Knights as they fought with desperate resolve towards the coastline of Ithraca, the temperature soaring ever higher as the seas vaporised and raged around them.

Finally deliverance came as at last they forged across the burning shoreline of Ithraca City. The lead Knights found themselves stumbling from the boiling oceans, their pict-feeds depicting not churning sea but a bank of super-heated fog from which torn and ember-hot docking cranes towered like a twisted forest.

Within solar minutes, a dozen or so Knights had emerged from the flash-boiled seas and it was clear that those not at their sides must surely have perished. What happened next has gone unrecorded, or at least the Knights' datacore in-loads returned to Luhnborg by agencies of Ultramar much later were purged in order to spare the surviving Vornherr the truth. The very last scene captured was of a mass of dark figures parting the fog, their eyes lambent with the guttering hell-light of the Warp. Then nothing.

Solar months later, a Legion recon squad of the Ultramarines operating from Arcology Epsilon-XXIV in the central massif of the Ithraca Basin came upon a scene that more resembled a deathly tableaux vivant than the aftermath of any battle they had ever witnessed.

A dozen Knights were arrayed as if in battle against an unseen foe, their joints frozen and their armour scoured, rent and pitted as if by the talons and teeth of a host of predatory animals. The Knights were mustered about a single figure -- the Cerastus Knight-Acheron Surcease of Sorrow of Duke Bhaevenwulf himself, as if rallying to him in the midst of heated battle. All were dead, their forms burned coal-black by the touch of some second empyrean fire. Of the foes the duke and his Knights had fought on that blasted battlefield, no trace remained but blackened smears upon the cratered ground.

When at last word of the fate of the Knights of House Vornherr that had joined the Calth Conjunction reached the garrison at Luhnborg-IX, all knew this must surely spell the end of the ancient house. All that remained was a handful of old barons and young squires, and in token of their fate they obscured the bold colours of their armours with black and pronounced their oath to serve Ultramar unto death discharged.

Released from their bond, they swore a new oath -- to avenge the fallen duke at any price, and in so doing go boldly to their doom. Their death-oath sworn, the remnants of House Vornherr deactivated the stasis seals on their ancient armoury vaults and equipped themselves for the final war of the house's long and glorious history.

Notable Campaigns[]

  • Long March to Ultramar (Unknown Date.M30) - Following their alignment to the Imperium and the Great Crusade, House Vornherr was central to many of the 12th Expeditionary Fleet's greatest victories, including the campaign known as the Long March to Ultramar, where they confronted numerous xenos strains, several of which they knew of old and took immense satisfaction in scouring from the stars for all time, including the dread Orks, whom House Vornherr had confronted in battle on numerous occasions and had become increasingly adept at slaying.
  • First Scouring of Jardingris (Unknown Date.M30) - The greatest and most portentous battle the Knights of House Vornherr fought in, it was here on this grave-world that the household first took to the field of battle under the overall command of Primarch Roboute Guilliman as part of a combined force consisting of twelve full chapters of the Legiones Astartes Ultramarines, the Legio Metallica Titan Legion and ten cohorts of the Solar Auxilia and scores of Excertus Imperialis line regiments, along with the Conquestor companies of Rogue Trader Militant Kohnwallis. The Imperial forces were victorious, as they wiped out the necrogenic xenos strain for its crime of existence with utter extermination. The victory came at the cost of a dozen Titans and a hundred Knights, tens of thousands of Human infantry and almost three thousand Astartes. At the height of the victory parade, the duke of House Vornherr and his fellow Scions bent the knee in their Knight suits to Primarch Guilliman, and pledged themselves to fight alongside the hosts of the Five Hundred Worlds unto death.
  • Compliance of Sophias-Mors (Unknown Date.M30) - Detachments of Vornherr Knights fought under the command of Primarch Magnus the Red and his Thousand Sons Legion during the gruelling jungle wars of Sophias-Mors.
  • The Delta-Arbuthnot Landings (Unknown Date.M30) - Detachments of Vornherr Knights fought under the command of Primarch Rogal Dorn and his Imperial Fists Legion during the costly Delta-Arbuthnot Landings.
  • Battle of Calth (ca. 007.M31) - Duke Sorvak Bhaevenwulf lands a formidable army of several hundred Knight armours and their supporting Sacristans to the Imperial muster at Calth. They were to fight alongside the XIIIth Legion ("Ultramarines") and the XVIIth Legion ("Word Bearers") as well as supporting elements from various Titan Legions, Solar Auxilia and Excertus Imperialis forces in a crusade against the Orks of the Ghaslakh Xeno-hold. The Knights of Vornherr were arrayed in a great phalanx on the muster field of Platia City, with a demi-household assigned to shadow the Titans of the Legio Praesagius at the city of Ithraca. When the Word Bearers revealed their treachery, they callously attacked the Knights of Vornherr with an orbital atomantic bombardment, wiping out all the Knights in a creeping barrage of inexorable nuclear fire. The surviving two-dozen Knights secured within the holds of the orbital conveyor, the Iaxth-CV, had not yet begun its embarkation. When the auguries of the Iaxth-CV detected the wall of incoming missiles from above, they performed an emergency launch. Rising to the skies away from the target zone as the atomantics struck, the electromagnetic fury of the assault burned out the conveyor's command systems, and the massive vessel overshot its destination in Ithraca city and crash-landed off the coast of the metropolis. Those crew not killed by the impact were quickly drowned. As the conveyor sank to the ocean floor, the Knights of Vornheer safe inside their suits survived. Led by Duke Bhaevenwulf they managed to cut their way out of the bulkhead of the conveyor and make their way across the ocean floor towards the coastline of Ithraca. As they did so, the temperature rose until the ocean flash-boiled away from the blast. A dozen or so Knights managed to emerge from the boiling oceans. What occurred next is unclear, as the pict-feeds aboard the Knights' datacore in-loads returned to Luhnborg-IX were purposely purged by the agencies of Ultramar in order to spare the surviving Vornherr the truth. Months later, a Legion recon squad of the Ultramarines came upon the grisly scene of the Knights' demise. A dozen Knights were arrayed as if in battle against an unseen force, their joints frozen and their armour scoured, rent and pitted as if by the talons and teeth of a host of predatory animals. All were dead, their forms burned coal-black by the touch of some second empyrean fire.
  • Shadow Crusade (007-008.M31) - In what would be later known as the Shadow Crusade, Angron and Lorgar, primarchs of the World Eaters and Word Bearers, respectively, led their treacherous Space Marine Legions to one world after another. At their call, former Imperial Army hosts joined in the carnage, casting off any pretence of loyalty to the Emperor to serve Horus and his bid for galactic domination. Against these rampaging forces the Ultramarines and their auxiliary forces, including House Vornherr, mustered, still reeling from the blow struck at Calth, but determined to save as many planets from the betrayers as possible and to exact revenge for the staggering loss of life during those opening battles.
    • Defence of the Three Planets (ca. 007.M31) - During the Defence of the Three Planets, in the far eastern sectors of Ultramar, House Vornherr and House Vyronii fought a campaign to rid the canal basins of Martrek V of Traitor forces. When the Traitors threatened to drive the Loyalist Knights back to their landing zones, they received aid from Knight banners with blacked-out heraldry, the newcomers driving deep into the formations of the enemy. Then, once Martrek was pacified, the Blackshield Knights turned on Vornherr and Vyronii, declaring the Three Planets for the Sons of Konor and the Crownless King, drawing the Loyalists into a long and bitter war between households.
  • Battle of Beta-Garmon, "The Titandeath" (006-013.M31) - House Vornherr took part in the long and savage Beta-Garmon campaign, which included hundreds of war zones across dozens of worlds. During this conflict, House Vornherr provided Knight support to the Legio Honorum and Legio Atarus. 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.
  • Crusade of Iron (ca. 008-010.M31) - The Shadow Crusade was made manifest, its pain and suffering bringing about turmoil in the Warp. This deadly era came to be known as "Shadow and Iron," a time marked by the Traitors' reckless hatred loosed upon the Five Hundred Worlds of Ultramar, and the Loyalists' righteous vengeance sent to meet them. It was the war within a war that arose between the Titan Legions, when gods of steel and plasma walked the Realm of Ultramar, and the doom of worlds walked with them. When the Warp opened and consumed those Loyalist Titans set to defend Calth, it revealed the true extent of the Warmaster's heresy. In the span of a single solar day, the greater sum of the Legio Praesagius was destroyed, along with millions of the Imperium's soldiers, and thousands of loyal Space Marines. Such was the scale of the betrayal that it echoed across the segmentum, a booming war cry that demanded a response. In the wake of this atrocity, the surviving princeps of the Loyalist Legio Praesagius gathered their allies, including House Vornherr and several other Knight households, and launched the Crusade of Iron across the Five Hundred Worlds to bring their betrayers to account.
    • Battle of Zarathusa Secundus (ca. 008.M31) - Zarathusa Secundus was a blue jewel within the Zagor System, its oceans teeming with life, its deepwater trenches rich in fluidic mineral deposits. The diversity of life within the planet's shallow seas drew the attention of Mars, and by the beginning of the Horus Heresy there were numerous Mechanicum enclaves dotted across its surface. It was these enclaves that would later rebel against the Emperor, and force a response from the armies of Ultramar to pacify the world once more. Aquila Atoll was the informal name given to an island in the planet's southern seas. One of the few pieces of land for hundreds of kilometres in all directions, and large by the standards of the islands and archipelagos of Zarathusa, it became a forward base for the Loyalist invasion forces. Following the defeat of the Loyalists on Espandor, the Traitors launched an invasion of Zarathusa Secundus. Spearheaded by the Traitor Titans of the Legio Mordaxis, both sides fought over the strategically important Aquila Atoll. The Traitors commenced their attack as the Loyalist forces, commanded by Princeps Krane of the Legio Lysanda, awaited extraction upon the principal landmass of Zarathusa, known as the Aquila Atoll. The Traitors seized control of both the planet's orbit and the Loyalist vox-net, masquerading as loyal servants of the Imperium until the trap was sprung. As landers approached the surface of Zarathusa, they revealed themselves not as the intended extraction ships but rather transport carrying the Titans of the Legio Mordaxis, a Traitor Legio transformed by the machinations of the Word Bearers Legion. Desperate to deny the atoll to the invaders, the Legio Lysanda and House Vornherr scrambled to form an effective defence, aware that retreat was not an option without abandoning those ground forces unable to wade through the seas of Zarathusa; seas that turned black as the battle raged and the toxins that had ravaged the Legio Mordaxis polluted the ground they walked upon.
    • Confrontation on Drooth II: Crusade's End (010.M31) - Though the Traitors had achieved many victories, Horgoth Nyr, princeps maximus of the Legio Suturvora, found his forces bloodied by the vengeful Loyalists, led by Dae Vergos, princeps ultima of the Legio Praesagius, that pursued him. As the rampage across Ultramar undertaken by the Word Bearers and World Eaters drew to a close, Nyr knew he must settle the running battle between Vergos and himself. Committing to luring his foe to him, the Traitor forces burned a dozen worlds, each an open challenge to the Loyalists that pursued them. Though it was clear such actions were committed to bait Vergos into a fight, the Loyalists had little choice if they wished to punish their enemy. Gathering what remained of those forces committed to the Crusade of Iron, the Loyalists set sail for Drooth II and the battle that awaited. Known for its burning sand-like mineral deserts, Drooth II was originally populated solely by a research station and listening outpost, placed there by the Ultramarines Legion to watch over the eastern edge of Ultramar. This outpost was quickly overrun by the Dark Mechanicum as war engulfed Ultramar and turned into a profane manufactorum capable of churning out debased weapons infused with powers pulled from the Æther. It was here that Nyr chose to make his stand against the Loyalist forces, aware that the veil lay thin and the entities within the Warp were easily called upon should the Traitors lose the advantage. In preparation for the Loyalists' arrival, the defences of the outpost were strengthened, denying approach from orbit and forcing any invader to land far from the Traitors. With both sides drawn to the world, the stage was set for a battle of cataclysmic proportions. Vergos chose her landing zones accordingly, and the Legio Praesagius set down in the desert 600 kilometres from the Traitor defences, their landing shielded by the curvature of the planet. Similar landings took place all around the outpost, the Legio Lysanda and Legio Oberon taking up position along with several Psi-Titans of the Chamber Occedentalis -- the Loyalist forces keeping their distance from the dark god-engines. Upon a signal from Vergos, the Titans walked, the shimmering desert dunes shuddering to their every step. On all sides of the outpost, dozens of Titans were fully engaged in brutal exchanges of fire. With unnatural speed and strength, the Traitor Titans fell upon the Loyalists, ripping and tearing at them like savage beasts. But, unlike on Calth, the Loyalists were prepared. From amongst the ranks of the Loyalist Titan Legions the Psi-Titans let their might be felt. The darkly majestic Warlords of the Ordo Sinister unleashed torrents of psychic energy into the Traitor forces rising against them. However, the Psi-Titans were caught unawares, as the Warhound Scout Titan wolf packs of the Legio Audax attacked the unsuspecting Loyalists from their unprotected flank, pulling the larger Titans down with their deadly Ursus Claws, like a ravenous packs of wolves pulling down a bear. Though the carnage and burning Titans, Vergos' Warlord, the Pride of Konor, pulled its way into the heart of the outpost, her guns tearing apart the structure and any who barred her path. Finally, she confronted her nemesis -- Princeps Maximus Horgoth Nyr and his Warbringer Titan Mons Ingnum. But as the two princeps fought one another in a deadly struggle, Vergos realised that Nyr's Titan displayed an unnatural Warp-enhanced endurance, which allowed it to rise like a revenant risen from the dead. Seeing no other options, Vergos fired her Titan's remaining Volcano Cannon upon the magnetic locks holding the research outpost's gravity elevator in place, causing the massive structure to collapse in on itself and down upon the battlefield, killing both Nyr and Vergos. Though the Horus Heresy would drag on for years yet to come, the Crusade of Iron ended that day on Drooth II. Whatever rage had driven Princeps Dae Vergos and her followers to hunt down Horgoth Nyr died with her, and the Legio Praesagius returned to Gantz to count its losses and rebuild its strength. By contrast, the death of Nyr tore what little unity of purpose remained among the Fire Masters, and its princeps fell even deeper into the thrall of the Warmaster Horus. Not until the dark days of the Battle of Beta-Garmon, the so-called "Titandeath", and the invasion of the Sol System itself, was the Traitor Legion to gather again in significant numbers, guided by the hand of a single Grand Master. By then, of course, the Legio Praesagius had rebuilt its numbers, and hastened to join the fight against their old foes, both Titan Legions playing their part in the final battles for the future of the Imperium.
  • Imperial Muster at Beta-Garmon (012-013.M31) - For reasons only understood later in the war, the Ruinstorm that had been invoked by Lorgar, primarch of the Word Bearers, several standard years earlier during the Battle of Calth, began to abate across vast swathes of the galaxy. Loyalist high commanders were able to utilise the potent astropathic relay at Beta-Garmon to contact and recall formerly lost or stranded forces from across the war-torn reaches of the northern Imperium. The Imperial Muster at Beta-Garmon rapidly escalated into the largest gathering of Loyalist might since the early years of the war, a concentration of forces so mighty that the Traitors had to respond in kind. The resulting clash of arms would become known as the Great Slaughter, a theatre of war of such scale that it would encompass the "Titandeath" and the Sea of Fire campaigns, each major campaigns in their own right. By its end, both sides were so badly bled that their only remaining option for ultimate victory was to force a final, decisive confrontation. As history related, the final battle would be fought at Terra, but only after the weighty butcher's bill of the Great Slaughter was paid in full.
  • Scouring of Arten's World (Unknown Date.M31) - Spearheaded by the darkly renowned Scion Zholon-Kuthos of House Malinax alongside their Traitor allies of the Legio Ulicon during the Scouring of Arten's World, the scions of Knight Banner Zholon-Kuthos won its darkest honour, slaying three times their own number of Knights of House Vornherr.
  • Defence of Ryza (012.M31) - When the Dark Mechanicum moved to capture the vitally importan Ryza, one of the Imperium's foremost Forge Worlds under siege during the latter years of the Horus Heresy, several notable Loyalist Titan Legions and allied Knights households, including House Vornherr, were called upon to help in its defence. The Loyalists could ill-afford to lose this valuable Forge Worlds as Ryza was second only to Mars in power and prominence. The Traitor force's main goal was the knowledge of Plasma Weapons and engines that Ryza held, for with this information, coupled with the daemonic pacts of the traitor Tech-Priests, Horus' power could be unmatched. The Warmaster cared little as to how his allies achieved their goals and while the Arch-Traitor desired only that the world be crippled beyond recovery, the Dark Mechanicum held more sinister ambitions for Ryza, seeking the creation of a new Hell-Forge for their profane experiments.
    • Battle for Ryza Secundus: Last Stand (012.M31) - Ryza Secundus was the first to feel the wrath of the Traitors when the Warmaster's allies descended upon the Forge World. To better claim the Forge World as their own, the Traitors launched a dozen vessels far in advance of their main fleet, each one a modified cruiser laden with troops intended for Ryza Secundus. These vessels slipped into the Ryza system over a period of weeks, each one powering down their systems to avoid detection by patrolling ships. Thus concealed, the Traitor vessels slowly made their way towards Ryza Secundus, powered by momentum alone. By virtue of meticulously calculated trajectories, this vanguard fleet was in range when the remainder of the Traitor fleet transitioned into the Ryza system. When battle was joined the vanguard unleashed thousands of boarding craft upon the station, flooding its hallways with Traitor troops. Such numbers were swelled by the Knights of House Morbidia as more of the station was lost to the defenders and its defences powered down. Opposing them were a handful of Knights of House Vornherr. The Household, once great and powerful, had suffered greatly during the Betrayal at Calth, when the treachery brought forth by the Word Bearers decimated their numbers. Of those of the House that survived, many sought only vengeance and death, some obscuring the bold colours of their armours with black in recognition of the doom brought down upon their lineage. Seeking aid amongst those loyal to the Imperium, accepting the gift of new armours from Ryza in return for a portion of the House's rehabilitated strength in defence of the world. It was a dozen of these newly-forged Knights that stood as guardians of Ryza Secundus, two dozen more standing proud upon Ryza proper. For many of these Scions, the battle to come was to be their first true foray into the maelstrom of war and so too would it be their last. Alas, a dozen Knights could not hold every cargo hold and hall of the vast station and each victory they secured saw a dozen losses elsewhere. Section by section, the Loyalist forces were pushed inwards, retreating in the face of the Traitors’ implacable advance. As ground was lost, the weight of fire unleashed by Ryza Secundus dwindled as ever-increasing numbers of Traitors set foot upon the station. With the reinforcements came House Morbidia, Scions pledged to the Traitor Fabricator-General Kelbor-Hal and no other, many veterans of decades of war. Faced with such a threat, those of House Vornherr knew their death had come, outnumbered by a foe that stood their equal in all but numbers and honour. In the final hours of the fall of Ryza Secundus, communications between the planet and the station were cut off, replaced only by static, the flash of plasma batteries upon the void the sole indication that resistance still stood. Such reports that remain tell of a valiant last stand led by the Knights of House Vornherr, the surviving defenders gathered around the central control station within the heart of Ryza Secundus. Data later retrieved from the ruined forms of House Vornherr armours indicate a furious battle lasting six standard hours, a score of House Morbidia slain in return for their own lives.
    • Ruins of Prosperity (012.M31) - No longer embroiled in conflict with Legio Crucius, Legio Vulturum marched west upon the southern continent, scattering the gathered might of Legio Osedax before them as fresh reinforcements flowed from the recently captured Conveyance Terminus Nine-Omega, the Titans of the Legio Mortis amongst them. Across the Sea of Reclamation, it fell to the Legio Magna to pursue the fleeing Warmongers. To this end, the Flaming Skulls, supported by companies of tanks and the Knights of House Oroborn descended upon the forge city of Prosperity, sweeping aside any in their way. It was to Prosperity, the first city founded upon Ryza according to the Forge World's archives, that the surviving elements of the Legio Crucius had withdrawn, linking up with three maniples of the Legio Honorum and the remaining Scions of House Vornherr. Reports of the final hours of Prosperity are contradictory at best, assembled from distorted pict-recordings and corrupted vox logs. What little can be determined points to a canker unleashed upon the city's dataweb, a corruption possessed of a measure of sentience shaping the code anew. Minutes after it first made its presence known, garbled reports echoed across the vox warning of malshaped constructs emerging from the shadows, formed from the broken remains of machinery torn from Ryza's plasma-producing manufactoria and possessed of a crude form of life. As if driven by a single mind these new foes swarmed through Prosperity, slaying all who stood in their way. For a single night pandemonium gripped Prosperity, the screams of the dying fading as the night gave way to day. It fell to the Knights of House Vornherr to assess the state of the city, the Titan Legions remaining ready should the Traitors seize this moment to assail them. What accounts still exist speak of a city coated in blood, every surface forever stained red by the lives lost that fated eve. Of the foe that had wrought such slaughter no sign remained, the bodies of those slain having vanished along with them. Only a lingering taint remained within the city, a faint sense of nausea and unease gripping all who walked Prosperity's streets. Without discussion, the Loyalists withdrew, for nothing worth defending remained, leaving the now-damned city of Prosperity to the invaders.

Notable House Vornherr Knights[]

  • Surcease of Sorrow - One of the oldest and most potent Knight armours in the service of House Vornherr, this Cerastus Knight-Acheron, depicted above, belonged to Duke Sorvak Bhaevenwulf himself who had inherited it from his father, Duke Khorvun. The amrour bears several key examples of Duke Sorvak's personal heraldry, of particular note the icon of the Legiones Astartes White Scars, which the Vornherr served alongside during the First Kolarne Circle Compliance. The wounds inflicted upon Surcease of Sorrow during the battle for Ithraca at the Battle of Calth were left untended and the armour itself displayed with prominence within the household’s fortress, a reminder of the vengeance owed to all Traitors.
  • Nepenthes - Nepenthes, depicted above, was a Cerastus Knight-Castigator armour piloted by Knight-Scion Ulas Karn, a kinsman of Grand Master Duke Sorvak Bhaevenwulf of House Vornherr, and a senior member of the lord's elite Lifewatch phalanx. As befitting of its station, Nepenthes was rarely seen more than a dozen strides from Surcease of Sorrow, the duke's own Knight, and the remains of both were recovered in the aftermath of the battle for Ithraca during the Battle of Calth. As with many Knight suits recovered from Calth, it was painstakingly rebuilt by House Vornherr Sacristans and daubed in black in recognition of the doom visited upon the household.

Notable House Vornherr Personnel[]

  • Duke Sorvak Bhaevenwulf (KIA) - Lord of the House of Vornherr and Grand Master of its Knightly Order who was slain at the Battle of Calth.
  • Knight-Scion Ulas Karn - Kinsman of Duke Sorvak Bhaevenwulf and a senior member of the lord's elite Lifewatch phalanx. As such, Nepenthes was rarely more than a dozen strides from Surcease of Sorrow, and the remains of both were recovered in the aftermath of the battle for Ithraca city following the Battle of Calth.

House Allies[]

Loyalist Titan Legios[]

Space Marine Legions[]

House Strength[]

Upon taking its place alongside the crusading hosts of the 12th Expeditionary Fleet, House Vornherr was allotted a nominal house grade classification of Primus Belicosa, a rating that recognised the very high number of Knight armours the house was able to field.

While the majority of the house took its place in the Great Crusade, the preparatory stages of integration into the Imperium of Man progressed on its homeworld, leading to its eventual recognition as an autonomous domain in line with many other planets classified as Knight Worlds.

Part of that process was a thorough survey of the world's military potential, as well as its ability to produce new Knight armours, and it was during this stage that the Imperium's assayer-adepts discovered something of the wars fought across the Luhnborg System during the Age of Strife, and that the reason for Vornherr's numerical superiority was its defeat of the six other houses.

Further investigations into the matter yielded very little, for the masters of House Vornherr would not allow the assayers to make a full account of their arsenals. All that could be estimated was that the five hundred or so Knight armours fighting with the 12th Expeditionary Fleet represented the upper level of the house's available Scions, but many more armours were stasis-sealed within the house's inner armoury vaults.

Only as the bloodline issued heirs entitled to don these armours, and then trained them in the arts of war, would these reserves be drawn upon. This fact made it entirely unnecessary for the masters of House Vornherr to enter into compact with any of the many Mechanicum Forge Worlds whose envoys sought access to their vaults, and while it was never determined how many Knight armours lay within those hallowed chambers, it must have been a large quantity indeed for the house to feel secure in rebuffing the Mechanicum's advances.

It was only in the field of conveyance across the stars from one war zone to the next that Vornherr was deficient. In practice this mattered little, for the vast armada of voidships of all imaginable type that was the 12th Expeditionary Fleet was well able to accommodate their Knight armours, and after standard years of service, many of these vessels were permanently assigned to the service of House Vornherr.

In composition, the house was able to commit a wide range of Knight armour types to the field of battle and displayed a singular organisation in this regard. Unlike many other Knight houses, the Vornherr deployed their Knights into broadly homogenous wings.

The largest number were the Knights of the Line, generally equipped with Questoris class armours, predominantly Knight Errant and Knight Paladin types. Other Knights were fielded as a vanguard phalanx, invariably equipped with Cerastus Knight-Lancer and similar types of armours.

The duke himself favoured an ancient suit of Cerastus Knight-Acheron type armour called Surcease of Sorrow and he was ever attended on the field by a veteran Life Guard formation equipped with Cerastus Knight-Castigator suits.

On the eve of the Calth Conjunction, as House Vornherr mustered for review by its Grand Master Duke Bhaevenwulf, it was numbered at almost six hundred Knight armours and thus rated as the largest Knight house known to be operating along the entire Eastern Fringe. Less than a solar day later, the Word Bearers would erase that honour, along with the entire southern island city chain where they were mustered.

Before that event, the Mechanicum had maked Vornherr as a Primaris-grade household; afterwards it was reclassified as Mors Obselarus.

House Appearance[]

House Colours[]

House Vornherr's colours are bloody scarlet, sun-fire yellow and black.

House Arms[]

The heraldry of House Vornherr is a skull-headed raptor.

Livery and Honour Markings[]

The personal heraldry of House Vornherr Knights often utilised a number of motifs common across numerous Knight households, as well as several unique to Vornherr.

Where the crimson fields are rendered with a jagged edge, this is commonly indicative of deliberate erasure of some facet of the household's history, most likely in reference to the six Knight houses the Vornherr defeated and absorbed during the Age of Strife.

The dark blue check pattern is indicative that the bearer has inherited the mantle of power from an immediate forebear.

The skull-headed raptor icon of House Vornherr was often prominently displayed on the Knight's shoulder armour or guardbrace as well as the Knight's personal banner.

Other honours that were often displayed include a white band upon a red field, which indicated that a wound had been suffered, and sword symbols within the band recorded the fact that the wound was sustained in the course of the bearer's duty to the elite duke's Lifewatch.

Sources[]

Gallery[]

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