The Palatine Blades, known officially as the Brotherhood of the Palatine Blades, was a warrior fraternity of the Emperor's Children Legion during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras of the 30th and early 31st Millennia. Drawn from the finest swordsmen of the IIIrd Legion, the Palatine Blades were perhaps the most famous example of Emperor's Children specialist troops whose renown spread outside their own Legion. The Palatine Blades existed outside the rigid formations of the IIIrd Legion's standard military order. They were a duelling society to whose ranks many aspired and on whom the Primarch Fulgrim looked with particular favour. At the discretion of the lords of the Legion, members of the Palatine Blades without their own command fought together in battle as well, serving as a shining example to their Battle-Brothers of excellence and perfection in the arts of war, often seeking out the finest enemy warriors in the field against which to prove their superiority.
These units were not permanent formations, but were formed for particular battles against foes deemed worthy, and whose membership existed outside of the usual rigid rank structure that characterised the IIIrd Legion. When such an enemy was encountered, the senior commanders would draw together the finest swordsmen from amongst the Emperor's Children forces present, a selection made easier by the relentless sparring and duelling that took place between battles to hone the Legion's skills. Armed with duelling blades, sabres and trophy weapons, the Brotherhoods would then seek out the finest warriors amongst the enemy on the field of battle. The number and quality of such squads depended on how many of the Emperor's Children were present in a given warzone and the quality of their foe. When twenty Millennials (Chapters) of the Legion came together under Fulgrim to destroy the Golden Kings of the Moraeb Drifts, over a hundred of the Blade Brotherhood took to the field. Amongst them were warriors who had already writ a legend among their Legion; Lucius, Akurduana, Irmandus and Fulgrim himself led them against the bodyguards of the Heretek kings.
Swords of a Thousand Forges
The weapons the Emperor's Children Leigon used to duel with were a key part of their martial culture, and spoke to their aesthetic appreciation. Many of the Emperor's Children bore swords crafted by the blade-smiths of a thousand worlds. Among these, the Charnabal sabres of the Old Terran tradition were a particular mark of quality within the IIIrd Legion; forged to ancient rituals and alchemical formulae each blade was a unique product of a master sword maker. Examples of this regard could be seen in several well-recorded incidents, such as when the Primarch Fulgrim gave six Charnabal Sabres, forged by Yelena Mordant, to the survivors of the Cyberseer Insurrection as an award of valour. While Akurdana -- before his death reckoned to be the finest swordsman of the IIIrd Legion -- fought most often with paired Charnabal sabres, it was also well known that he possessed a personal collection of 360 swords taken from defeated foes. This habit of taking particularly fine weapons from defeated enemies was a strong characteristic of the wider Legion. If a renowned swordsman encountered a weapon of surpassing quality in the hands of an enemy he would take it as a trophy. The swordsman would then practice with the trophy weapon until he wielded it with more skill than its makers, this act representing an almost kabbalistic ritual absorbing and defeating the enemy in spirit. So it was that the champions of the Emperor's Children wielded Racathian glass glaives, friction axes from the Norvik Sinks, Aegisine "saintie", Tuonela mortuary swords, Terran Gladius and Martian-forged Power Swords to name but a few. No prohibition existed against weapons taken from aliens or cultures that were otherwise worthy only for destruction; all that mattered was the quality of the weapon itself.
The Maru Skara
To the Emperor's Children, before their fall from grace, war was a matter of perfection incarnated in violence, intent and action. The Legion took great pride both in its excellence on any battlefield, and its ability to systematise and replicate and tactic or strategic deployment it needed, and execute them flawlessly on command. Of the innumerable such formations and tactics the Emperor's Children operated, one that found favour with the Legion's Praetors looking to achieve faultless victory -- and thereby glory in the eyes of their peers and Primarch -- was the Maru Skara or "Killing Cut". Named after one of the most difficult strikes in the lore of the Terran Pan-Europic duelling cults, it called for a precisely timed, rapid-moving feint designed to engage an opponent's guard so that a second, invariably fatal, blow could be dealt against it from which there could be no defence.
- 4 Palatine Warriors (Squad Members)
- 1 Palatine Prefector (Squad Leader)
- Power Armour
- Artificer Armour
- Bolt Pistol
- Charnabal Sabre - These elegant and deadly melee weapons relied on speed and dexterity rather than brute force for its lethality. These specially-forged blades were favoured by certain Space Marine Legion officers, most notably the elite Palatine Blades of the Emperor's Children Legion, who preferred these superbly crafted swords over the more "clumsy" Power Weapons.
- Frag Grenades
- Krak Grenades
Optional Wargear (Palatine Squad)
Optional Wargear (Palatine Prefector)
- The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal, by Alan Bligh, pp. 107-108, 257
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre, by Alan Bligh, pg. 219
- Forge World - Palatine Blades Squad