Nomus Rhy'tan, known also as the "Keeper of the Keys of Prometheus," and "The Voice of Fire," was the Lord Chaplain of the XVIII Legion, an important figure of the Salamanders Legion throughout the days of the Great Crusade, and Horus Heresy eras during the late 30th and early 31st Millennia.
Left behind to supervise the training and initiation of the Legion's next generation of Neophytes, Nomus Rhy'tan quite literally held the future of his Legion in his hands.
When the Chaplain-edict promulgated by the Council of Nikaea came to the Salamanders Legion, it fell on fertile grounds. Unlike other Legions of the Legiones Astartes, the XVIII Legion had to be united, having been deployed piecemeal over several different war zones during much of the early decades of the Great Crusade. The reunification with their gene-sire and Primarch, Vulkan, heralded a new beginning for the Legion where Terran-born and Nocturne-born Legionaries would come together and built unshakeable bonds of brotherhood.
In his wisdom, Vulkan had drawn from the stories and mythologies of his home planet the elements that would become known as the Promethean Cult, a spiritual discipline to federate and unite the Legion in brotherhood and direct their path as Vulkan had foreseen it. To help to spread this doctrine influenced by the teachings and culture of his adopted world of Nocturne, Vulkan created a body of chosen Legionaries versed in the teachings of the Promethean Cult known as the "Voices of Fire" or Ignax.
Nomus Rhy'tan was amongst the very first to be introduced into this caste. Little is known of Nomus Rhy'tan before he was accepted amongst the Ignax except that he was one of the newly-introduced Nocturne-born Legionaries. As an Ignax he was reputed to be a renowned orator and instructor, teaching both other Ignax and Legionaries in the way of Vulkan, but what made him invaluable to the Salamanders was his friendship with their Primarch to whom he often acted as confidante.
So it was that when the Chaplain-edict was imposed the Ignax naturally became the first generation of their Legion’s Chaplains. Rhy'tan -- always popular amongst his peers -- was unanimously voted by them to become the Salamanders first Lord Chaplain. As an outwards sign of his new responsibilities, Vulkan presented the newly-elected Lord Chaplain with a weapon he had forged himself for his friend, a mighty double-handed warhammer known as Darkstar Falling, which was rightly later regarded as one of the most treasured relics of the Legion.
The Horus Heresy
As news reached Nocturne of the Warmaster's betrayal and treachery at Istvaan III, Vulkan mobilized his Legion for a counterattack, but before departing for Istvaan V, the Primarch bade the Lord Chaplain to remain behind at Prometheus with the Legion's Neophytes and instructors as regent in his stead. With a heavy heart Rhy'tan obeyed, for he would not have abandoned his friend and Primarch so easily, but in doing so, Vulkan had destined Rhy'tan to survive, the future of his Legion in his hands.
It is likely that in the first few solar weeks of his new position as Regent, Rhy'tan carried out his Primarch's orders to the letter, supervising the initiation and training of the Legion's Neophytes in matters of war and those of the Promethean Cult. Only when the dire news of the Drop Site Massacre reached Nocturne did matters changed.
With very little information available as to the true fate of the Legion and their Primarch, Nomus Rhy'tan found himself in command of a Legion that had virtually been annihilated. Despite having ships and men at his disposal, Rhy'tan did not sally forth to aid or search for his Legion's Primarch, but chose to remain on Nocturne. Neither the news of Vulkan's unknown fate nor the rallying-cry from Rogal Dorn on distant Terra reached the Lord Chaplain.
This did not mean that Rhy'tan sat idly. The Lord Chaplain assumed that it was only a matter of time before Nocturne would eventually come under attack during the galactic civil war that had now erupted. Rhy'tan began to fortify his homeworld by establishing a series of bastions on key strategic areas of Nocturne. The Legion's forges would work night and day to craft the necessary tools of wars to equip the Neophytes whose training regime was stepped-up accordingly.
Many solar months after the events on Istvaan V, a Salamanders' Battle-Barge emerged from the Warp in close proximity to Nocturne -- the Charybdis -- which had transported Vulkan's body from distant Macragge back to his homeworld. When vessels of the Death Guard and Word Bearers appeared close behind, it was clear that Nocturne was under attack.
The Lord Chaplain immediately mobilised his meagre forces and personally joined his Firedrake-bodyguard in an awaiting gunship. Observing the orbital battle between the Charybdis above Nocturne, Rhy'tan's gunship later located a downed Salamanders gunship. The Lord Chaplain soon realized that some of his surviving Battle-Brothers had returned to Nocturne and directed his own flight of three gunships to the crash zone.
They arrived in time to save the still-unidentified survivors from the guns of a circling Fire Raptor gunship of the Death Guard Legion. As the Vox crackled into life, the Lord Chaplain learned that he had just saved the lives of First Captain Artellus Numeon and that of the Primarch himself!
His joy quickly turned to ash upon learning of Vulkan's true condition. Despite Nocturne's isolation, rumours of the Primarch's death had reached them, although Rhy'tan would not allow hope to dictate his actions as it had for Numeon. Time would be made for talk and hope or grief, once the Death Guard had been defeated, for war had finally come to Nocturne and the Salamanders were ready to defend it.
Battle for the Draconius Gate
Located in the Arridian Plaine, the bastions of the Draconius Gate was one of the new outposts created by Rhy'tan to defend Nocturne against invaders. The Gate itself owed its name to the impressive Drake heads carved into the granite by Nocturne's inhabitants and formed two rearing half-arks leading to the sacred ground under Mount Deathfire. The outpost's defences were most impressive -- heavily decorated, fortified bunkers linked between them and were void-shielded to resist any attack.
Orbital defences and automated flamer-towers completed the static defences and made for a formidable obstacle -- as the Death Guard would soon find out. Their orbital bombardment was kept in check by the outpost's powerful void-shields. Frustrated, the Death Guard reverted to the use of concentrated viral and chemical bombardment.
While the shells themselves exploded harmlessly on the void-shields, they released their murderous payloads inside the protected area, only to be burned at short-range by the flamer-towers and incendiary-squads. Through Rhy'tan's sense of timing and superlative commands, the Draconius Gate withstood the Death Guard's orbital bombardments without a single casualty.
As the Death Guard began to land their troops, the outpost's anti-air and orbital weapons exacted a heavy toll, shooting down some of the Death Guard's Fire Raptors and Thunderhawks, while others crashed to the planet's surface, their turbines choked by the volcanic ash within Nocturne's atmosphere. But the Death Guard would not be denied so easily.
Their relentless commander, Malig Laestygon, was determined to claim the honour of being the first Astartes to truly slay a Primarch. Quickly it became apparent that the Salamanders were greatly outnumbered and outgunned. The XVIII Legion possessed only three gunships which hadn't even taken to the air and there was no heavy armour support on the ground.
Meanwhile, the Death Guard deployed several of the armoured battalions they were justly famed for -- great formations of Land Raiders and Sicaran Battle Tanks -- capable of overwhelming the void-shields through their superior firepower. However, the Death Guard soon came to realise they not only faced the gathered Salamanders and their impressive defences, but the planet of Nocturne itself.
The landing zones chosen by the Death Guard accounted for the first casualties, as gunships and Drop Pods landed in magma-trenches or vanished in opening chasms. Some of the less fortunate were cooked alive within their own battle plate or their transports were caught in searing geysers of super-heated steam which erupted from Nocturne's soil. Any warlord trying to assault a Death World was a fool, even if that warlord was of the Legiones Astartes, but the Death Guard had always vaunted themselves on their tenacity and resilience and were confident in their eventual victory.
It would just be harder fought than what they had initially anticipated. In contrast, the Salamanders knew full well what dangers lurked beneath the ground and eagerly anticipated the moment the Death Guard would realise it themselves, only too late. As the Death Guard's armoured battalions assembled, the seismic disturbance created by so many tanks awakened the aggressive fauna of Nocturne.
Soon gnarlwyrms, urdrakes, basilysks, wyverns, drakons and targons spilled forth from their earthly domains and ran rampant amongst the Death Guard formations. The more massive gnarlwyrms charged the Sicaran tanks and Land Raiders, their horns more than able to rip asunder the tanks' armour, while the fire-breathing urdrakes burned legionaries and tank armour to molten slag. By now the XIV Legion's assault had been badly mauled, just as Nomus Rhy'tan had predicted.
Seeing the Death Guard in disarray Rhy'tan ordered the void-shields lowered -- the Salamanders would take the fight to the enemy. Inviting Artellus Numeon to join him amongst the elite Firedrakes, Nomus Rhy'tan personally led the assault of eight hundred Salamanders. As the Salamanders closed with the Death Guard, the drakes of Nocturne let go of their prey, but left the Death Guard preciously little time to reorganise their ranks.
While the Draconius Gate's Thudd Guns shelled the Death Guard's rear lines, a Talon of counter-charging Death Guard Contemptor Dreadnoughts were brought down by disciplined fire from both Lascannons and Volkite Culverines. Soon hand-to-hand combat ensued between the rival Legions, as overhead, the artillery duel between the two opposing forces continued until a large magma chasm opened up and swallowed a large part of the Death Guard's artillery-train.
Meanwhile, the battle had quickly turned in favour of the Salamanders, and only Laestygon and his Terminator-bodyguard stood firm. Numeon faced Laestygon in single-combat and swiftly cut the Death Guard commander down. The Death Guard's assault had been annihilated, and soon Nocturne would swallow and destroy every sign of their enemy's presence.
"Lord of Drakes, saviour of Nocturne, glorious son of the Emperor of Mankind, Vulkan, we commit you to fire.In the heart of the mountain you shall burn eternal, a beacon for those who remain, a reminder of you teachings and wisdom. Unto the Anvil, oh Lord of Drakes! Our father and Primarch!"
- — Lord Chaplain Nomus Rhy'tan, The Passing of Vulkan
With victory secured, Nomus Rhy'tan could finally address the more pressing matter of Vulkan's fate. Artellus Numeon found the Lord Chaplain in prayer before Vulkan's golden casket. Nomus Rhy'tan bade Numeon to stay, for he did not believe that Vulkan could be resurrected. As his pupil, Var'kir before him, Rhy'tan lacked the belief that Vukan's state was anything other than the eternal slumber of death.
He had heard of the miracles by those few of the Pyre, but did not believe them. The Circle of Fire’s lessons of immolation and rebirth were only spiritual, but by laying Vulkan to rest in the heart of Mount Deathfire, another leader could emerge -- Artellus Numeon, as Vulkan reborn. Should he wish it, Rhy'tan would not challenge Numeon's claim of leadership over the XVIII Legion. Numeon however refused, his faith in Vulkan's rebirth unshakable.
Despite his misgivings, Nomus Rhy'tan agreed to conduct the proper burial rituals for his Primarch for he was wise enough to see that the Legion -- or all that remained of it -- was in dire need of a sense of closure. So it came to pass, that the last sons of Vulkan -- by now fewer than 800 in number -- witnessed his passing. Each and every one of them had received the brander's mark that would commemorate the death of their Primarch. Armoured but unhelmed, their drake-hide capes fluttered occasionally in the heat, the Salamanders bore witness to the bier carrying Vulkan to his final resting place.
Vulkan was borne to the heart of Mount Deathfire on a bier of granite with Dawnbringer, his mighty warhammer, still clenched in his grip and the Fulgurite spear that had claimed his immortal life on Macragge while in battle with Konrad Curze still jutting from his chest, for none had been able to remove it. Ceremonial chains had been wrapped around the Primarch's arms, legs, torso and neck to bind his spirit to his body, allowing both to be consecrated to the flame.
The bier advanced to the monotonous beating of hammers on anvils, and the gathered Salamanders struck their breasts in unison. Before the bier, his head bowed in supplication, marched Lord Chaplain Nomus Rhy'tan. Reaching the mountain's caldera, Rhy'tan raised his fist and silence fell over the chamber before the Lord Chaplain started to recite the traditional verses in the old tongue of Noturne.
A cadre of four Firedrakes gathered around their Primarch, holding him aloft while the chains that would let him descend into the heart of the furnace were pulled taut enough to hold him. With the final words of Rhy'tan's speech still ringing in their ears, Vulkan's body was lowered into the caldera.
As the Primarch's body disappeared into the magma, the Salamanders daubed their fingers into burning ash and traced the Nocturnean sigil for rebirth on their bare foreheads. Then the Firedrakes let go of the chains and Nomus Rhy'tan destroyed the bier which had borne Vulkan this far with a strike of his mighty warhammer. Thus it was done -- Vulkan had been consigned to the fires of his homeworld.
Nomus Rhy'tan's ultimate fate remains unclear, though he still played an important role within the Legion. Upon seeing that his faith in the Primarch's resurrection had not been answered, Artellus Numeon again withdrew into isolation in order to grieve, leaving Nomus Rhy'tan to organise the Legion and their world for the oncoming Time of Trials.
Vulkan had not risen again, and with Numeon indisposed, this left only Rhy'tan fit to lead. The Neophytes had reacted well to their training and had been blooded in battle, and so seven detachments had been formed from their numbers, and it was the hope of all to be able to join the Emperor on Terra and fight for the survival of the Imperium.
Speculation ran high whether it would be Artellus Numeon or Nomus Rhy'tan that would claim the title of Legion Master and lead them on this mission. This speculation ran rife right up until the day Artellus Numeon was discovered missing.
His armour, weapons and even Vulkan's Sigil were later discovered entombed in the golden casket that had housed the Primarch's body. Soon afterwards, a lonely figure, unmistakably a Salamander, was found, weak but alive, wandering in the ash wastes around Mount Deathfire. Soon, news reached every corner of Nocturne, from the Sanctuary Cities to the Legion's outposts to the fortress-monastery on Prometheus that their hope against hope had been rewarded -- Vulkan lived once more!
But of Rhy'tan, and his role in the Primarch's resurrection, there was no sign.
- Artificer Armour
- Iron Halo
- Mantle of the Elder Drake
- Bolt Pistol
- Frag Grenades and Krak Grenades
- Darkstar Falling - Rather than carrying the more common Crozius Arcanum that was usually carried by Legion Chaplains to denote their rank, Nomus Rhy'tan carried one of the most treasured relics of the Salamanders Legion, an artificer-wrought double-handed warhammer forged by the hands of Vulkan himself. Symbolizing the strength and resilience of the Promethean Cult, the warhammer's head had been crafted from a single block of an unknown obsidian-like mineral the Primarch had wrestled from the gravitational vortex of a dying world. Strange and little understood energies slumbered within, representing the Legion's fury, which made Darkstar Falling a treasured relic as well as a potent weapon.
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pg. 253
- Deathfire (Novel) by Nick Kyme