The Keshig served as both the personal Honour Guard of the Primarch Jaghatai Khan and his subordinate commanders during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras in the late 30th and early 31st Millennia.
The Khagan's Keshig were once described as "a whole phalanx of giants in bone-white Terminator plate."
Amongst the ranks of the V Legion, the Keshig also served in a number of notable sub-formations, including the Ebon Keshig and the Golden Keshig. Most White Scars Brotherhoods included Keshig within their ranks.
This body of troops stood somewhere between a life guard for the Khagan and an elite reserve intended to bolster both the fighting spirit and tactical firepower of line troops.
Given the aggressive nature of most White Scars tactics, these units often formed the forefront of any assault, and were comprised of the most skilled and experienced warriors within a given Brotherhood.
In the 41st Millennium, the term "Keshig" is still used for the Honour Guard of the White Scars' Chapter Master.
The first Keshig was raised upon the world of Chogoris by Jaghatai Khan, the future Primarch of the White Scars. When he reached adulthood, he began his meteoric rise as ruler of his adopted homeworld. The young Khan pursued a campaign of subjugation among his own people, attacking each tribe in turn and offering them a simple choice: death or life under his rule.
There were few who opposed him, as his reputation for mercilessness rapidly spread across the plains of Chogoris to every settlement and roving tribe. In his wisdom, Jaghatai treated those who submitted freely with honour, raising many up to his Keshig to fight at his side.
His own Keshig and tribe he filled with men and women of talent from across the plains, promoting ability and loyalty to the whole over bloodlines and old rivalries, and within the span of a few short solar decades, the nomadic tribes were unified under his control, naming him the Khagan, or Khan of Khans. A short while after his ascension to the throne, the Emperor of Mankind arrived to change the Primarch's destiny forever.
After his reunification with the Space Marine Legion created from his genetic inheritance, the Khagan dispersed the Keshig he had raised from Chogoris, the core of his newly-dubbed White Scars throughout the various companies, warriors whose names would grow with the passing of years: Qin Xa, Yesugei, Hasik and others besides. These warriors he trusted to spread his teachings and to lead by example, to stand as his champions among the V Legion as it went to war in his name.
In the present day of the Era Indomitus, the term "Keshig" still refers to the Honour Guard deployed to serve the White Scars Chapter Master. Each is personally selected from amongst the Chapter's finest warriors, and they serve as bodyguards, military advisors and executors of the Great Khan's orders.
Every one of these champions has proven himself in battle a thousand times over, and they protect their liege with total devotion.
At a kurultai, or gathering of all the Chapter companies, the Keshig's elaborately worked armour and weaponry stands out even amongst the masterwork wargear of the other Chapter champions present.
Notable Members of the Keshig
- Qin Xa - Qin Xa was one of the Great Khan's most trusted advisors and, as such, commanded the venerated Keshig in battle. His sworn duty to protect his Primarch saw him lead the Keshig through many hunts, earning ever greater glory in the name of the Khagan. An exceptional warrior even before he became a White Scar, Qin Xa fought alongside Jaghatai Khan during their youth on Chogoris. Qin Xa would be one of the first members of the Khagan's Keshig to be inducted from Chogoris into the newly renamed White Scars Legion, after his Primarch was reunited with the V Legion and the Emperor of Mankind. Qin Xa was frequently described by his Primarch as one of the most formidable warriors of the Legion, having mastered the art of the hunt at a young age and bringing such skills to bear by the Primarch's side during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy that was to follow. Though few outside of the Legion spoke of Qin Xa's prowess, it was often described within the records of the Legion that he took to the battlefield as a force of nature, with a fury and strength behind his aggression that, while apparently barbaric, was tempered by a keen intelligence and an innate sense for the ebb and flow of battle. Though known for his absolute loyalty to his master, Qin Xa often questioned the decisions of the Khagan and actively encouraged those within the Keshig to question him too, to ensure that they never became followers blind in faith. Qin Xa was one of the few White Scars to actively prefer Terminator Armour, which allowed him to wield the Tails of the Dragon, two Dao-style Power Swords, with greater skill and power. Two Terran years after the start of the Horus Heresy, Qin Xa fought the Traitors at Peressimar, winning a great victory and reclaiming control of that world. Four years after the start of the Horus Heresy, Qin Xa was part of a raid on Kalium where he fought Lord Commander Eidolon of the Emperor's Children Legion at the Kalium Gate, a massive void installation many times larger than a star fort that defended a strategic Mandeville Point. Qin Xa was rescued from near certain death during the Battle of the Kalium Gate by the use of Revuel Arvida's psychic abilities. He was returned to the White Scars battleship Lance of Heaven to be treated for his critical wounds. While in the end it was determined that Qin Xa was mortally injured, he spoke to Arvida telepathically to express his fear that Jaghatai would blame himself for the failure of their raid. Arvida assured him that Ilya Ravallion, a Departmento Munitorum bureaucrat assigned to the service of the V Legion, offered the White Scars a path to return to Terra using the Dark Glass artefact, and that his sacrifice would lead to ultimate victory for the Loyalists. Qin Xa died soon after of his wounds.
- Namahi - Namahi was a consummate warrior who served as a second to Qin Xa and as a deputy of the elite Keshig. Following the death of his commander and the refusal of the honour by Jubal Khan, Namahi was made commander of the Keshig.
- Goghal Khan - Goghal Khan was a Terran-born member of the White Scars Legion during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy era. Goghal was the commander of Keshig bodyguard of Hasik Noyan-Khan. Goghal proved more loyal to Hasik than to his own Primarch, foolishly siding with him and the Terran-born members of the Warrior Lodge and their conspiracy to have the V Legion side with the Arch-Traitor Horus. However, when the plan failed, following Jaghatai Khan's return from the Thousand Sons' homeworld of Prospero following the Second Battle of Prospero, Goghal willingly surrendered himself and was taken into custody.
- The Horus Heresy Book Eight: Malevolence (Forge World Series) by Neil Wylie and Anuj Malhotra, pp. 144-145, 153, 219-220, 223
- Scars (Novel) by Chris Wraight
- The Path of Heaven (Novel) by Chris Wraight, Chs. 6, 7
- Codex Supplement: White Scars (8th Edition), pg. 22