"Our names may be forgotten, and our bones crumble to dust, but our deaths will echo through the millennia to come."
- — Captain Saul Tarvitz, words spoken in the hours before the fall of the Loyalist Choral City enclaves during the Istvaan III Atrocity
Saul Tarvitz, known in Imperial historical texts as The Honour of His Legion, was an Astartes line officer of the Emperor's Children Legion and the Captain of its 10th Company. Tarvitz was the rare line officer of the IIIrd Legion who did not aspire to anything higher, despite being extremely competitive. Most troops that he lead greatly respected him, except his best friend Lucius, the Captain of the 13th Company, who was jealous of the attention Tarvitz received for his competent leadership.
Captain Tarvitz was supposed to be in the initial drop-assault onto the surface of Istvaan III but had traded places in the Imperial fleet orbiting that world at the last minute with the Dreadnought Ancient Rylanor. Discovering the treachery of the Warmaster Horus and his own Primarch Fulgrim, Tarvitz willingly placed himself in the line of fire by going to the surface of the planet to warn his fellow Loyalists of the betrayal that was about to befall them.
Shortly after safely reaching the surface, Horus ordered the viral bombardment of the planet, but thanks to Tarvitz's last minute warning, almost two-thirds of the Loyalist forces were able to take cover in air-tight bunkers or subterranean passageways.
Tarvitz, along with his fellow Captains from the Loyalist Luna Wolves, Garviel Loken and Tarik Torgaddon, managed to turn the rag-tag Loyalist survivors into a cohesive fighting unit. Tarvitz, a formerly unremarkable line officer of the IIIrd Legion, had transformed a planned massacre into a successful guerrilla war, confounding even the great Horus' best-laid plans. Tarvitz, along with his fellow Loyalists, apparently met their final fate during the Istvaan III Atrocity.
Saul Tarvitz was a Company Captain of the Emperor's Children Legion, respected by those who followed him and with a considerable number of victories to his name. Tarvitz was content to be a line officer and serve his Legion and Emperor in the field, and lacked the relentless ambition to succeed to the higher echelons of his Legion that was present in so many of his contemporaries. This was in contrast to his highly ambitious best friend Captain Lucius of the 13th Company, who would more than likely one day become a Lord Commander in command of one of the IIIrd Legion's eleven constituent Chapters.
Tarvitz did not care, for in his mind he was a rank-and-file officer, born to the battleline, and had no desire for elevation. He was content to glorify the Primarch and the Emperor, beloved by all, by knowing his place, and keeping it with unstinting devotion.
To crave more would have been overweening and imperfect. Tarvitz had standards, and despised anyone who cast their own standards aside in the hunt for inappropriate goals. Life as an Astartes of the Emperor's Children was about purity of purpose, not superiority. That is what Tarvitz believed that the other Legions always failed to understand about the Emperor's Children's relentless quest for perfection.
In the 203rd year of the Great Crusade, shortly after the Emperor's Children's victory against the Laer, Lord Commander Eidolon departed the 28th Expeditionary Fleet with the elite 1st Company of the Emperor's Children to take part in the reinforcement of the IXth Legion, the Blood Angels, upon the Death World of Urisarach, which was officially codified in Imperial records as One-Forty-Twenty, the twentieth world to be brought into Imperial Compliance by the 140th Expeditionary Fleet.
This world was discovered by that fleet, which was commanded by the Blood Angels Legion's Captain Khitas Frome. Unable to translate the warnings from the orbiting Interex satellite beacons that warned approaching starships to stay away from Urisarach since it was a prison world for the dangerous sentient xenos species known as the Megarachnids, Captain Frome ordered the fleet's entire contingent of three companies of Space Marines to begin landing operations to investigate and bring the planet into Imperial Compliance.
Due to the extreme atmospheric turbulence, all of the Blood Angels' shuttles attempting to land on the planet became scattered and were thrown far off-course, which left the Imperial landing parties isolated from each other. The atmosphere also affected Vox (radio) communications and made it difficult for the Imperial forces to coordinate their movements. Ground teams soon started sending garbled transmissions to the fleet's ships in orbit, reporting that the planet was inhabited by extremely hostile xenos.
As the reports continued, the large arachnid-like xenos were described as too numerous and formidable to defeat without reinforcements. Not long afterwards, the Blood Angels made urgent distress calls requesting immediate reinforcements and extraction. The last transmission received by the fleet came from Captain Khitas Frome himself, who noted through clenched teeth, "This. World. Is. Murder." The name stuck and became the Imperium's informal appellation for Urisarach thereafter.
A company of the Emperor's Children Legion under the command of Lord Commander Eidolon eventually arrived in response to the Blood Angels' distress calls. They made the same mistakes the Blood Angels had made, and had their landing parties scattered by the planet's powerful atmospheric disturbances. While the company took heavy casualties, one landing party led by Captain Tarvitz discovered a large rock-like structure that resembled a dead tree.
This "tree" had the bodies of several Blood Angels Space Marines impaled on its many branches with flying variants of the Megarachnids feasting upon the bodies. After destroying the structure, the sky above where the "tree" had been suddenly began to clear of the violent storms that had afflicted the Imperial forces from the beginning.
Captain Tarvitz realised that these structures were actually artificial weather control devices that were responsible for Murder's heavy atmospheric turbulence. The Megarachnids immediately went about rebuilding the "tree" and sent hundreds of warriors to slaughter the last few Emperor's Children who remained. There had been little honour in the initial drop to the planet's surface, amid the death and frantic nature of the combat against the loathsomely quick Megarachnid warriors. It had been brutal, intense and bloody work, and many good warriors had met their end beneath Murder's raging, bruised skies.
Thanks to Eidolon's mistakes, there had been precious little glory won until the Luna Wolves had arrived and brought their strength to bear. Just as the Emperor's Children force was about to be overwhelmed, a relief force of newly-arrived Luna Wolves Astartes from the Warmaster Horus' own 63rd Expeditionary Fleet began to land through the breach in the atmosphere. The Megarachnids were scattered and a full-scale assault on the hostile xenos of Murder began in earnest.
Ten companies of Luna Wolves, the remnants of the Emperor's Children, tens of thousands of Imperial Army soldiers, and several Legio Mortis Titans proceeded to level entire swathes of the grass stalk forests and destroy every one of the "trees" they encountered, which steadily eroded Murder's atmospheric barrier. The leader of the Luna Wolves' spearhead was Captain Tarik Torgaddon of the 2nd Company. Tarvitz and Torgaddon immediately formed a strong bond and the two became fast friends.
Tarvitz would also go on to befriend others within the Luna Wolves, finding them more like himself than most of the Battle-Brothers in his own Legion. Horus, who was commanding the Imperial assault from his flagship in orbit, was very pleased with the progress being made. Some consideration had been paid to initiating a withdrawal from Murder now that a proper landing zone was available to allow an easy extraction of the troops, when an unexpected visitor suddenly arrived.
The Primarch Sanguinius had come to the world to inspect the dead of his original Blood Angels landing force that had been wiped out early in the campaign. Adding five of his companies of Blood Angels to the Imperial invasion force, Sanguinius and his forces fought alongside the Warmaster against the aliens. Thousands of Megarachnids poured out of the forests and canyons of Murder in an endless wave.
Despite never retreating from the Imperial assault, the Megarachnids only continued to lose ground. By the sixth month of the campaign it seemed the Megarachnids would soon face extinction when the fleet deployed by the Interex arrived in-system to determine who had assaulted the Megarachnids' reservation world. Finding contact with the highly-advanced humans of the Interex to be a more pressing issue that needed to be dealt with, the Warmaster ended the campaign against the xenos of Murder.
Istvaan III Atrocity
The reconquest of the rebellious Imperial world of Istvaan III provided the Chaos-corrupted Horus with the perfect opportunity to both amass those forces loyal to him without suspicion, and also rid his own XVIth Legion and those of his closest allies of the Astartes within their ranks whose loyalties were suspect and likely to stand with the Emperor in the event of civil war.
The Istvaan System's distant location in the Ultima Segmentum and prevalent Warp Storms made it a perfect screen for the dark deeds that were to come, and orders were given for four Space Marine Legions, the Death Guard, Emperor's Children, World Eaters and the Warmaster's own renamed Sons of Horus, to rendezvous at the Istvaan System. With humanity ignorant of the great and terrible events that were about to unfold, a massive warfleet gathered at the edges of the Istvaan System as elements of four Space Marine Legions began to arrive, and the first actions of the campaign were undertaken to destroy rebel Istvaanian outposts in the outer reaches of the star system as the fleet coalesced.
The elite 1st Company of the Emperor's Children Legion led by Lord Commander Eidolon fought in concert with the Death Guard Legion's 7th Company under the command of Tarvitz's honour-brother, Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro, against traitorous forces on Istvaan Extremis, the outermost planet within the Istvaan System.
Whilst fighting against a powerful Slaaneshi psyker known as a Warsinger, Garro sustained serious injuries; crushing damage to his torso and arm as well as the loss of his right leg from the mid-thigh down. He was only saved from certain death by the timely ministrations of the Emperor's Children's Chief Apothecary Fabius.
By the time the Imperial armada had moved upon the third planet in the Istvaan System, Garro was still recovering from his grievous wounds and getting used to his new cybernetic leg. His Legion's Apothecaries had not declared him fully healed and therefore Garro was deemed unfit for battlefield operations.
His command also remained on limited duty until their commander was fit to reenter combat. As a result, Garro and his Great Company would not be going down to unleash the final assault upon Isstvan III. Instead, they would be relegated to performing picket duty aboard the frigate Eisenstein during the assault on Istvaan III. This turn of events would prove fortuitous in the upcoming engagement.
The factor that Tarvitz was content as a line officer seems to have brought him disregard from the likes of Lord Commander Eidolon as a mediocrity, but history was to prove otherwise. While serving aboard Eidolon’s ship, the Andronicus, Tarvitz had discovered something amiss in the changing character of his Legion. Though he had the honour of leading the speartip of the initial assault upon Istvaan III, he made an unusual request of the Venerable Dreadnought known as Ancient Rylanor, requesting to remain aboard the Andronicus to function as Eidolon's senior staff officer.
Tarvitz was suspicious of Eidolon's motives, for it was highly irregular for one of Fulgrim's favoured Lord Commanders not to take part in the speartip. Eidolon normally never passed up the opportunity to flaunt his martial prowess and for him to appoint another in his stead was unheard of. Though an unusual request, Rylanor honoured Tarvitz's request and took the captain's place in the assault.
Upon discovering the scale and scope of the treachery that was about to unfold on Istvaan III when he learned that the fleet was preparing to unleash a viral bomabrdment upon Istvaan III while its Space Marines were still in combat, Tarvitz took it upon himself to act. He seized a Thunderhawk gunship and attempted to flee to the surface of the doomed world.
During the opening stage of the first assault wave, the frigate Eisenstein picked up an unscheduled movement in their battle sector. They received a signal from another craft leaving the confines of the Lord Commander Eidolon’s ship, the Andronicus, from the Emperor Children's Legion. At first they thought that it might be the insufferable Eidolon making an unscheduled mission flight down to Istvaan III's surface, eager to take part in the battle. But they soon realised that the lone craft was a Thunderhawk, and behind it a cluster of Raven interceptors were in an attack delta formation. Confused by this turn of events, the Andronicus sent the Eisenstein a message ordering it to destroy the Thunderhawk on sight, as it was acting against the Warmaster’s commands and was to be considered a Renegade.
At the same time, the Eisenstein also received a message from the fleeing Thunderhawk. The occupant was none other than Nathaniel Garro's honour brother, Captain Saul Tarvitz. Garro’s mind was full of confusion: a rogue Thunderhawk, the signal from Eidolon, the incredible command to terminate the fleeing vessel and the ranking Astartes officer aboard it. Garro wondered if this situation was some kind of test, a bizarre battle drill intended to assess the mettle of the Eisenstein’s command crew.
Garro also wondered if it could it be true that Saul Tarvitz had indeed turned Renegade. If it was possible for Istvaan III's Imperial Governor Vardus Praal to turn against the Emperor, then perhaps an Astartes might do the same. Tarvitz’s next message was a dire warning, telling Garro that the entire Istvaan operation was treachery. Horus had betrayed the Emperor! The fleet was going to bombard the planet’s surface -- and the Astartes upon it -- with virus bombs!
Tarvitz swore on his life that he would not lie to his honour brother. Every Astartes on Istvaan III was going to die. Saul Tarvitz was Garro's sworn honour brother, an oath sworn on the bloody fields of the Preaixor Campaign, when they had shed blood and stood shoulder-to-shoulder through the entirety of a bloody, ill-fated war that had seen many of their most beloved brothers killed. Tarvitz had earned Garro's amity and proven to him that for all the reputation of Fulgrim's Astartes as overconfident peacocks, there were men among the ranks of the Emperor's Children that embodied the ideals of the Imperium.
To commemorate their bond as honour brothers, the two Astartes had carved a small eagle in each other's vambraces by knifepoint, a sign of the battle debt they owed one another. Such a friendship and bond of honour forged in the hell of combat was a powerful thing and Garro knew Saul Tarvitz well enough to know that he never exaggerated and never, ever lied. To imagine that his honour brother was lying to him now was beyond imagining, but to hear that the fleet was set to bombard their Battle-Brothers was equally unthinkable.
Coming to a quick decision, Garro acted of his own volition and ordered the Eisenstein to destroy the Thunderhawk. But in actuality he altered the firing coordinates so that the frigate destroyed the lead Raven interceptor, whose explosion caught the other interceptors in its wake, due to their close formation. As Tarvitz's Thunderhawk was close to Istvaan III's atmosphere, he used the sensor disruption to slip away. Garro's men had just witnessed their commanding officer disobey a direct order from their superior. This was dereliction of duty, grounds for severe chastisement at a minimum. If the Warmaster learned of the Battle-Captain’s insubordination, it would taint them, and the entirety of the Death Guard Legion.
Nevertheless, Garro ordered the ship’s crew to contact the Andronicus and inform them that the rogue vessel had been destroyed, and the explosion had claimed their pursuit ships as well. Though some of his men were made uneasy by the Battle-Captain’s actions, Garro explained to them that as an honour-brother, Tarvitz only spoke the truth, and his words were no falsehood.
Tarvitz flew down to the doomed world to warn the Loyalists trapped there of the impending slaughter. In this he was instrumental in the survival of the Loyalists through the Virus Bomb attack and in mounting a cohesive defence against the Traitor attack, and in this perhaps also ultimately contributed directly to the outcome of the wider war.
The Loyalist World Eaters on the planet's surface were the furthest from cover and suffered the worst of the initial bombardment. Some had reached the safety of the bunkers, but many more had not. Superhuman warriors fell to their knees as the lethal virus penetrated their armoured bodies, deadly corrosive agents laced into the viral structure of the biological weapon dissolving exposed pipes and armour joints, or finding its way inside through battle damage already suffered by the armour.
Astartes screamed. The sound was all the more shocking for its very existence rather than for the horror of its tone. Even many of those Space Marines who reached the safety of the sealed bunkers following Tarvitz's warning died in agony as they shut the doors only to find they had brought the lethal virus inside with them. When the firestorm began after the initial bombardment, those Astartes who had survived the viral attack by sealing their suits of armour against biological attack found themselves consumed in flames as they desperately sought to find cover once more. But against this firestorm there could be no cover for those who had dared to brave the elements.
As the firestorm far below guttered out, as it had been designed to do, surveyor-sweeps and Auspex beams were eagerly focused downwards from the orbiting fleets with the expectation of registering the charred remains of a dead and lifeless world, but quickly shock turned to rage for Horus. Thanks to Captain Tarvitz's timely warning, perhaps fully two-thirds of the first wave of Astartes had miraculously survived the bombardment, thanks to the warning messages they received from their loyal comrades in orbit.
The Loyalists had found shelter in hastily resealed bunker complexes they had only hours before taken from the Istvaanian defenders, or found protection in the stormed bastions of the Precentor's Palace or in the kilometres of catacombs which threaded out from under the Siren Hold. Warned just in the barest of time, they had trusted to luck, to training, to wargear and the physiology of the Emperor's great design, and they had endured.
As the great rainstorms which came after the firestorm abated, communication channels crackled to life and frantic signals rippled across the surface of Istvaan III and stabbed skywards demanding answers, screaming defiance and spitting curses against those the betrayed had once called brother. Never in the history of the Space Marine Legions had there been such a terrible act of treachery and malice and the Space Marines on Istvaan III were incensed beyond reason, some driven to the point of madness by the reality that their own Primarchs had betrayed them.
The Traitor's Strike
The Primarch of the World Eaters, Angron, realising that the Virus Bombs had not been fully effective at eliminating all the Loyalists, flew into a rage and hurled himself at the planet at the head of 50 companies of World Eaters Traitor Marines. Discarding tactics and strategy, the World Eaters Traitors worked themselves into a frenzy of mindless butchery fed by their growing allegiance to the Blood God Khorne.
Brother-Captain Ehrlen led the surviving Loyalist World Eaters, a warrior whose tally of victories had been long in the service of the bloody creature he now faced. With him, were a force of Loyalist Space Marines some 2,000 strong, a core of World Eaters who had sheltered with their commander in nearby garrison bunkers to wait out the storm of what they had been told by Tarvitz (for believability's sake) was an Istvaanian suicide bio-weapon about to be unleashed, the rest of their Legion contingent scattered far and wide across the cityscape.
In the resulting carnage, Tarvitz barely escaped with his life as Ehrlen and his brave warriors were butchered by the Red Angel and his berserker followers. Horus was furious with Angron for delaying his plans, but Horus sought to turn the delay into a victory and was obliged to reinforce Angron with troops from the Sons of Horus, the Death Guard, and the Emperor's Children.
Following the World Eaters assault, the Emperor's Children under their Lord Commander Eidolon were next to deploy, no doubt smarting over the actions of Captain Tarvitz and keen to redeem themselves in the eyes of the Warmaster. With typical precision and exacting patterns of deployment, the Traitor Emperor's Children selected a scorched-flat area that had once been an open market and park a few kilometres south of the Precentor's Palace for their staging area.
No sooner had Eidolon's taskforce dismounted their conveyers then he ordered his forces to immediately precede in column formation to the Precentor's Palace with the intention of taking it by storm and overwhelming what he clearly assumed would be a disorganised and broken group of survivors.
Meanwhile, further World Eaters support forces started to land, preparing for a lengthy battle of attrition, while Death Guard and Sons of Horus gunships began to conduct reconnaissance sweeps to the northwest and south of the Choral City, respectively, searching for Loyalist survivors amid the still-burning ruins, firing on targets of opportunity and dropping off Seeker Squads and outriders to hunt down isolated groups of Loyalists still reeling from the planet-killing attack. Within hours, however, it became clear that this would be no simple mopping-up operation for the superior Traitor forces.
Eidolon's column found the Precentor's Palace staunchly and expertly defended by the Loyalist Emperor's Children forces who Eidolon had arrogantly underestimated. Instead of succeeding in a storm assault, his column came under heavy fire and was blocked from even reaching the palace walls and forced to retreat, leaving dozens of damaged and wrecked vehicles in its wake. Further attempts to send infantry squads through the ruins fell afoul of hastily set-up but effective redoubts and pre-arranged ambuscades, hurling his men back bloodied and without gain.
Elsewhere, the use of roaming gunship detachments had proved equally ineffective; Auspex sweeps in the burning, tangled ruins could provide no more than a vague indication of enemy concentrations, while the vast blasted cityscape was a perfect haven for the enemy to lie in wait and loose missiles and Lascannon blasts at the low-circling aircraft, the particular vulnerabilities of which were as completely familiar to the Loyalists as they were their Traitor attackers.
The overconfidence of the Emperor's Children had brought failure, and Angron's World Eaters had dispersed into the northern city in an uncontrollable and untrackable horde. Probing sweeps by Traitor aircraft had done little but suffer casualties, and revealed the scale of the Loyalist resistance and their bitter resolve to fight. Under the command of Saul Tarvitz and other Loyalist Captains such as the newly-renamed Luna Wolves Captains Garviel Loken and Tarik Torgaddon, the Loyalists mounted a cohesive defence that saw the outnumbered Loyalists seeking to equal the strategic odds in their favour by dragging their enemies into conflicts in built-up areas and ruined landscapes where the full panoply of their Traitor foes could not be brought to bear upon them at once, resulting in running battles through corpse-strewn streets and shattered habitation blocks, blackened by fire and ash.
Again and again Eidolon's Emperor's Children attempted to take the great granite bulk of the Precentor's Palace, only to be hurled back by Captain Tarvitz and his warriors, displaying implacable resolve and tactical excellence in their defence of the shell-shot edifice and its precincts. The palace was now further reinforced with recovered heavy weapons and patch-repaired vehicles claimed from the spoils of Eidolon's first failed attacks, and with the Loyalist Emperor's Children fought the mighty Ancient Rylanor, mighty Dreadnought and Ancient of Rites of the IIIrd Legion, and to them he was like an undying icon of past glory and honour the Traitors had so hatefully cast aside.
Many times was the Venerable Dreadnought thought lost, only to rise again from the rubble and fire his weapons to punish those who had betrayed the Emperor whose name they bore. The Traitors' attacks against the palace were further blunted by the need to guard their own flanks in the dust and darkness, as roving war bands of World Eaters, mostly Loyalist but some perhaps merely uncaring of their "allies" lives, attacked from the ruins and rubble, slaying and plundering arms and munitions before being cut down by disciplined fire or disappearing victorious back into the darkness.
Nearly two full solar months had passed on the dead hulk of Istvaan III when at last the great thunderstorms began to wane sufficiently for the Traitors to recommence significant landings of reinforcements and munitions once more. The months had seen the attacking forces bled for each city-block and kilometre of rubble they took and rough estimates put the death toll as high as 20,000 on the Loyalist side and perhaps twice as many of the attackers had been slain.
Loyalist resistance still commanded the Precentor's Palace despite the best efforts of the Emperor's Children and the World Eaters to take it by storm, while Loken's Luna Wolves still dominated the sector that surrounded the Siren Hold as their killing ground. Over this period, Tarvitz finally discovered his ambition and rose to lead the surviving Loyalists, with even fellow Captains Loken and Torgaddon deferring to him. Solomon Demeter had been badly injured in the firestorm and on his recovery Tarvitz offered to hand over command. However Demeter refused, recognising that Tarvitz held the respect of every loyal Astartes on the planet.
As the storms faded, fresh companies of Traitor Legionaries, tanks and heavy armour made planetfall on the outskirts of the Choral City in substantial numbers, and the Loyalist Death Guard enclave was the first to suffer as Mortarion poured his Legion's strength into the area. The tide was quickly turning and while the Loyalists had held out thus far, the advantage was now the Traitors' to lose. They had their former brethren outnumbered and vastly outgunned, and were able to leverage their superiority of arms at last, while every dead Loyalist Astartes was now a loss the defenders could not afford. The mathematics of slaughter had now swung decisively in Horus' favour.
Bloodied but unbowed, the Loyalists prepared to meet their deaths. Against them the Traitors massed in vast numbers and once the last assaults began the death of the Loyalists was certain. With the balance of power in their favour, the Traitor forces prosecuted their attack with renewed vigour, moving through the ruined city in a thrust towards the Precentor's Palace, relying on overwhelming force to overcome any pockets of defence they encountered on their way. Before them they sent in pave-way strikes from Avenger strike fighter wings and Thunderhawk gunships, showering areas judged to be likely strongholds with high explosives and raking cannon fire to try to pin the Loyalists in cover and prevent them from scattering or withdrawing ahead of the attack.
Thousands of the Warmaster's Space Marines, Death Guard, World Eaters and Sons of Horus, were on the move, streaming through from the landing grounds beyond the broken city walls in a vast crescent formation supported by hundreds of Rhinos, Land Raiders, and Predator tanks. Jetbike Sky Hunter squadrons and Land Speeders screamed through the air, circling the Traitors' flanks, searching for targets and wary of ambush. And looming over all came the Titans of the Legio Mortis and the Legio Audax, two full battle maniples of Warlord and Reaver Battle Titans with a dozen Warhounds in support.
At their head was the Dies Irae, an Imperator-class Battle Titan looming head and shoulders above its brother war engines, striding high above the tallest ruin in the city, its footfalls shaking the ground, splitting the tortured cityscape like thawing ice underfoot. Against such firepower, nothing could stand, and no sooner was a likely point of resistance encountered than the Titans unleashed their wrath upon it, detonating whole city-blocks in clouds of dust and flame, and melting the metal hulks of industrial plants to glowing pools of slag. Such was the awesome power of the Titans' unleashed weapons as the column advanced that the vibrant flashes of their weapons fire were visible even through the cloud layer from orbit above.
As they approached the high-sided curtain walls of the Precentor's Palace, the Titans were met with the Traitor Emperor's Children force already laying siege in an another attempt to storm the vast compound and being answered in turn with defiant volleys of Loyalist Lascannon and Bolter fire. The Princeps of the Legio Mortis had clear orders and cared nothing for which of the forces were Loyal or Traitor. With a single deafening blast of their war-sirens the only warning they gave to Eidolon's command, the Titans opened fire. The curtain walls of the Precentor's Palace had been constructed by the Mechanicum's siege-enginseers to withstand the fury of a world risen up in revolt, and though now pitted and mauled by firestorm, shot and shell they still stood, but would do so no longer.
Volcano Cannons roared and Turbo-Laser Destructor clusters spat arcs of searing light and the battlefield was engulfed in a bellowing fog of black smoke and roaring flames. Into the darkness the gargantuan war machines, like wrathful primordial gods, armoured in sable and deep crimson, poured their combined fury and the Space Marine Legionaries around them could do nothing more than hold back from the fearful display and wait for the storm to pass. When the deafening barrage ceased at last and tumbling dust settled over the attackers like a fall of grey-black snow, the destruction the Titans' weapons had visited was revealed.
The great curtain wall facing them was gone and a jagged spill of smouldering debris was left in its place. Beyond the broken walls the great dome that covered the inner precinct had crumbled and fallen, and the towers and manses within were toppled and crushed like broken toys. The Titans howled again in triumph, and this time were answered from the massing packs of the World Eaters as Angron bellowed the ordered to charge. All that remained for the Loyalist survivors trapped in the ruins was to sell their lives as dearly as they might.
During the long, drawn-out war of attrition, the Loyalist Emperor's Children Captain Lucius had come to resent his friend Captain Tarvitz's role in their success against the enemy and the respect he commanded from the other Loyalist Astartes. With deceit in his heart, Lucius contacted Lord Commander Eidolon and promised to deliver Tarvitz -- and break the Loyalists' defences -- for the Warmaster in return for being accepted back into the good graces of the corrupted IIIrd Legion. Eidolon accepted the swordsman's proposal.
In an act of the basest betrayal, Lucius slaughtered a group of 30 Astartes who were defending the Loyalists' lines to open the way for the Traitors' final assault against their former brethren. Lucius succeeded in this assassination with the aid of Captain Solomon Demeter of the 2nd Company of the Emperor's Children, who had also remained a Loyalist and realised too late that Lucius had tricked him into attacking a group of fellow Loyalists. Lucius slew the wounded Demeter just after he realised with horror the full extent of his mistake and Lucius' betrayal.
With his place restored in the ranks of the Traitors, Lucius then challenged Tarvitz to a one-on-one duel to finally determine who was the better warrior. Tarvitz emerged the victor, but Lucius fled the battle and returned to the arms of his Traitor Legion, having fulfilled his side of the bargain. Tarvitz took some small measure of revenge on Eidolon however, leading an ambush on his exposed flanks and ruining the Traitor's plan to seize the stronghold on his own terms. True to form, Eidolon failed to recognise that he was being punished for his arrogance.
Captain Saul Tarvitz's fate is ultimately unknown, but it is generally assumed that he did not survive the final assault on the Precentor's Palace. If by some miracle he had, he more than likely perished during Horus' final orbital bombardment of the Choral City that levelled the once-proud capital of Istvaan III to so much rubble and ash. There were conflicting reports that following the bombardment of the Precentor's Palace, Ancient Rylanor was seen taking off into the depths of the subterranean tunnels. He was never seen again.
There were rumours that Tarvitz had made mention of something that the Venerable Dreadnought was guarding. It was said that some kind of underground hangar had been found, but if that was the case, then it is unknown why the corrupt Imperial Governor Vardus Praal did not use it to escape the world when the Legions arrived to reconquer Istvaan III. Whatever the Dreadnought's purpose, it mattered little, for it is believed that he -- and anyone accompanying him such as Tarvitz -- would have been buried beneath thousands of tonnes of radioactive slag.
- Artificer Armour
- Sniper Rifle (Modified Bolter)
- Bolt Pistol
- Charnabal Broadsword
- Frag Grenades
- Krak Grenades
- Refractor Field
Sault Tarvitz's rank as a Captain of the Emperor's Children Legion has been a constant throughout the Horus Heresy novel series. However, depending on the book, the company of the IIIrd Legion which he commanded differs.
In False Gods, Tarvitz is only described as a Captain, with no company assigned. However, in Galaxy In Flames and Flight of the Eisenstein Tarvitz is mentioned consistently as the First Captain of the Emperor's Children, implying that he commanded its 1st Company. However, in Fulgrim that honour is assigned instead to Julius Kaesoron, with Tarvitz now in command of the 10th Company.
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions by Alan Merrett, pp. 75, 230
- The Horus Heresy: Book One - Betrayal (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 48, 261
- Horus Rising (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- False Gods (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Galaxy In Flames (Novel) by Ben Counter
- The Flight of the Eisenstein (Novel) by James Swallow
- Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill