The Tome Keepers are a Loyalist Space Marine Chapter and successor of the Ultramarines, raised during the 4th Founding shortly after 546.M32. They call the Desert World of Istrouma home.

With tactical precision and fearless resolve do the Tome Keepers wage war on the enemies of the Imperium. They fight not just with sacred bolter and honoured blade, but with the accumulated knowledge of aeons etched in their minds, for they believe that only through truth and understanding can they finally defeat Humanity's many foes.

Every battle is meticulously planned, every foe tactically analysed and every ally carefully scrutinised to ensure that victory is achieved in the most efficient manner possible.

Then, when the battle is won and the fallen counted, all is recorded once again, the better to serve the Tome Keepers in their next war.

Chapter History

Tome Keepers Chapter Colour Scheme as displayed by the Primaris Marine Intercessor Battle-Brother Eriba, 3rd Company, 2nd Squad (battleline).

The origins of the Tome Keepers harken back to the tumultuous middle centuries of the 32nd Millennium, following the disastrous events of the War of the Beast, when the Imperium was nearly brought to its knees by the largest Ork WAAAGH! seen by Mankind since the Ullanor Crusade during the Great Crusade.

Soon after the great conflict with the xenos ended in 546.M32, following a period of mandatory gene-tithing by the surviving Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes to help rebuild the stores of gene-seed kept by the Adeptus Mechanicus, the 4th Founding was raised.

For nearly a standard century, the Imperium had descended into a period of anarchy and infighting. The newly created Chapters of this Founding were created to help restore order to an Imperium rife with civil upheaval and insurrection.

Gene-seed was taken out of cryo-storage and new samples received from all of the extant Chapters. It was from the Ultramarines' gene-stock that Chapter 281 -- later to be known as the Tome Keepers -- was born.

As with most newly-created Chapters, officers and specialists were requisitioned from the parent Chapter. Captain Caelus Viator, formerly of the Ultramarines 2nd Company, was elevated to the rank of Chapter Master and oversaw the creation and training of four hundred battle-brothers over the following two solar decades.

The new Chapter's training ground would be that of Dornak IV, a barren Death World in the Segmentum Solar. The aspirants were subjected to years of harsh physical training, psycho-indoctrination, genetic alteration and painful surgical enhancements before they were ready to become warriors of the Adeptus Astartes.

Several hundred passed the gruelling tests. Many thousands did not.

As Viator's forces came to battlefield readiness, the Chapter's assets were also assigned. Battle barges and strike cruisers arrived from far Macragge, along with armoured vehicles, aircraft, Drop Pods, Dreadnought chassis and twenty venerated suits of Tactical Dreadnought Armour.

Accompanying these war assets were thousands of Chapter serfs -- logisticians, tech-savants, ship crews, medicae personnel, fabricators, artificers, artisans, requisitioners, architects, servitors and countless others.

Supplies were accumulated from planetary tithes, ammunition was allocated, litanies were recited, and Machine Spirits were appeased.

In the year 567.M32, Chapter 281 was declared ready to serve the Emperor.

Finding a Home

Assigned to watch over the Segmentum Pacificus and the Warp routes towards Terra from the galactic west, the starships of the fledgling Chapter headed for the Sol System's Mandeville Point and made the Warp translation to the little-known Caracros Sub-sector of the Macharius Alpha Sector without incident.

The region of space was sparsely populated according to Imperial records, but teemed with alien life forms, from Aeldari Corsairs and Hrud infestations to marauding warbands of Orks.

Yet there was one planetary system, right at the heart of the Caracros Sector, that they all seemed to avoid. It was in this system, designated GB 6-77, that the Chapter decided to make its home.

Four of the system's eight planets were inhabitable. They made planetfall on the Desert World named Istrouma. The planet was wracked by constant tectonic upheaval due to its erratic orbit and bathed in the deadly radiation of the system's nearby white dwarf star.

Due to their world being constantly irradiated by the light of the nearby star the Human inhabitants of this harsh, desolate world live shorter-than-average lifespans, dying early of radiation-induced illnesses.

To preserve their history and culture the people of this world became obsessed with meticulously recording every facet of their short lives in great tomes for future generations, as they did not have the benefits of having elders among their population to teach their young.

In this way, they were able to salvage their combined knowledge and experience and ensured the continuation of their society.

Sky Warriors and Chroniclers

What the Space Marines discovered when they landed was a world that had been forgotten by the Imperium, a mere footnote in a galaxy of a billion worlds. Yet the Istrouman people welcomed the Space Marines with open arms, for they recognised them as the sky warriors of old and as great heroes of Humanity.

Chapter Master Caelus Viator and his retinue were treated as honoured guests and led to Niveneh, the world's principal city, where they were received with dignity and awe by the planetary council.

The Space Marines were told the long history of Istrouma and how its people travelled from ancient Terra millennia ago, and they were shown many great artefacts wrought by the planet's artisans.

The Astartes were told of the great tragedy that had befallen the people of Istrouma and how over thousands of Terran years, their life expectancy had fallen drastically as their technology declined, and the planet's inhabitants rarely lived past the age of thirty standard years.

Children became apprentices at a young age, working with members of their family in their chosen craft. Skills were taught quickly, and everything was chronicled in personal journals so that future generations could pick up where their forebears left off. The artefacts previously shown to Viator and his officers so proudly took on new meaning -- they had not been crafted by a single person, but by scores of artisans over many short lifetimes.

Yet the Istroumans did not begrudge their short lives, for they knew -- as they explained to Viator and his warriors -- that though their own books may close, their legends would live on through their words. Death, they said, was to be embraced, not feared.

The Space Marines were taken beneath the city of Niveneh where they bore witness to a vast library that was almost a city in its own right. Entire streets and thoroughfares were dedicated to millions upon millions of books, dataslates and information terminals. Upon those shelves lay the history of aeons. The contents of the library would shape the Chapter's future for millennia to come.

Tome Keepers

Caelus Viator believed that Istrouma and its inhabitants had great promise. He saw that the people of Istrouma were hardy and resourceful, and their accumulated knowledge was almost beyond comprehension. To the tactically minded Viator, the collection of strategic monographs in the library were reason enough to forge Istrouma into a Chapter Planet.

With the blessings of the planetary council, orbital landers descended from the clouds, and construction began on a vast Chapter fortress-monastery atop the Zaatos Mountains at the planet's inhospitable northern pole.

To honour the event, the Istroumans presented Viator with one of their greatest possessions -- a stasis-sealed volume known as the White Book. Viator returned the honour in the naming of his Chapter. Chapter 281 and its warriors would henceforth be known as the "Tome Keepers."

First Recruits

Istrouma proved to be a wise choice for the Tome Keepers' homeworld. The planetary system was rich with natural resources, and its four habitable planets provided a large number of recruits.

Many families put their sons forward for what became known by the Chapter as the "Trial of Pages" in the hope that they would become sky warriors, thereby bringing great honour to their family name.

The young hopefuls competed in trials of strength and endurance, before being taken far into the rad deserts to test their survival skills. They fought each other in specially constructed arenas, watched closely by the Master of Recruits. Many did not survive.

As the surviving aspirants became neophytes, they began the organ implantation process required to become Space Marines. Yet when the eighteenth implant -- the Progenoid Glands -- were implanted, the Chapter's Apothecaries noticed that it had a curious psychological side effect.

The previously short-lived Istroumans were now virtually immortal once they had become Space Marines, and many struggled with the dichotomy, feeling they were being denied their rightful place among their departed ancestors. This feeling was echoed by many of the Istrouman people, who began to see them not as the glorious warriors they imagined, but as pariahs.

Some of the new Tome Keepers tended towards recklessness, seeing themselves as dead men walking, having already outlived their natural lifespans. Many more became sullen and introspective. Yet within all of them was instilled a fearlessness of death and a mutual acceptance of mortality's impermanence that surpassed even that of their own people.

Chroniclers Reborn

With careful psycho-indoctrination, the new recruits learned to harness their grim resolve, yet something still rankled within them. Many used their few solar minutes of personal time each day to write journals -- a persistent hangover from their former lives that the Chaplains, later called Orators by the Chapter, seemed unable to quell.

As the neophytes became fully fledged battle-brothers, they began to note down observations on their foes, devising new tactics and strategies for their destruction. Chapter Master Caelus Viator watched with interest. Though the Codex Astartes promoted adherence, it also encouraged innovation.

Had not their Primarch Roboute Guilliman praised the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge? As the Chapter grew to full fighting strength, Viator called for his battle-brothers to embrace the traditions of Istrouma.

Battle-brothers were encouraged to develop new skills and further their understanding of their myriad foes. Many books were written. And, over the following millennia, many books were closed.

Time of Ending

The dying years of the 41st Millennium were a trying time for the Tome Keepers. Two centuries of war with the Necron Thokt Dynasty had already taken their toll on the Chapter when the Great Rift sundered the galaxy.

The Chapter, reduced to just over two hundred battle-brothers, was facing annihilation. During one particularly dismal year, the recruitment Trial of Pages yielded disappointing results, producing just a single, successful aspirant. This was considered a sign of ill-omen by the Chapter.

Era Indomitus

Following the destruction of Cadia during the 13th Black Crusade and the subsequent formation of the Cicatrix Maledictum, the Chapter was beset on all sides by a myriad of foes. Cast adrift in a veritable sea of enemies, the Chapter was hammered even more to the point that they were whittled down to only two hundred combat-ready Firstborn Space Marines remaining.

Fortunately, the badly depleted Chapter received their salvation in the most unlikely of forms. The Primarch Roboute Guilliman was reborn during the Era Indomitus, and in his wake came the Primaris Space Marines -- a new hope against the encroaching darkness.

An Indomitus Crusade Torchbearers task force was eventually sent to reinforce the battered Chapter. These representatives of the newly instilled lord commander of the Imperium delivered a profound gift in the form of a company of existing Primaris Marine Greyshields as well as the technology for the Tome Keepers to start making their own Primaris Marines.

The Tome Keepers, for so long vilified by the Adeptus Ministorum as impious and insufficiently dedicated to their duty following the events of the Sanctimonia Conflict (see below) and shunned by other Imperial organisations as a result, suddenly found their ranks bolstered. Too many books had been closed over the course of the last two centuries. Now, many new ones were being opened...

Following the rebuilding of their Chapter with newly inducted Greyshields drawn from the Ultima Founding and newly-created Primaris Space Marines raised from their own ranks, the Tome Keepers are nearly back up to half their original strength.

Ready to take the light of the Emperor to the wider galaxy rife with unimaginable horrors, the Tome Keepers pledged two full battle companies to the service of the Indomitus Crusade. The 2nd Company joined Battle Group Oberon of Fleet Tertius as it swung past Avernia and into the Segmentum Pacificus. Chaos uprisings were rife in this region of space but were easily quashed by the huge armada. The battle group headed north to relieve the beleaguered naval base at Hydraphur.

The Tome Keepers' 3rd Company ("Godbreakers") joined Battle Group Kallides of Fleet Primus in the Nephilim Sector, now more commonly known to Imperial forces as the Pariah Nexus.

Pariah Crusade

The Tome Keepers wage war against the Necrons during the Pariah Crusade's Argovon Campaign.

Under the command of Captain Nasiem bal Tergu, the 3rd Company arrived at Argovon in the Argovon System within the Pariah Nexus to aid the Pariah Crusade. They joined forces with the Navroni 43rd and Samlech 109th Astra Militarum regiments in order to eradicate a Genestealer Cult uprising that has taken over one of the planet's primary industrial sectors.

The cult's Genestealer Patriarch was slain by the Tome Keepers, ending the year-long conflict and establishing Argovon as a staging post for further Imperial military actions in the system.

The majority of the 3rd Company quickly redeployed to Foronika. The planet was sparsely populated but rich in noctilith deposits, making it a valuable strategic resource for both the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Necrons.

Alongside Knights from House Boros, the Tome Keepers succeeded in driving the Necrons back from one of the largest blackstone deposits. The planet was far from secure, however.

Meanwhile, a second force under the command of Lieutenant Gadatas bal Nurval deployed to Hishrea -- the sixth and outermost planet in the Argovon System. The Tome Keepers, along with other Imperial forces, were tasked with the destruction of a pair of Dolmen Gates, which were being used by the Necrons to bring reinforcements into the system.

Though the approach to the gates was carefully scouted, the Imperial advance was caught entirely unawares when Necron pylons erupted from the ground and began tearing through their ranks.

Only the intervention of the Tome Keepers and Obsidian Jaguars prevented a wholesale massacre. The Dolmen Gates were finally destroyed after two solar months of gruelling warfare, but the victory proved a pyrrhic one. A Necron tomb fleet soon arrived in-system, forcing a full-scale Imperial retreat from Hishrea. The war in the Pariah Nexus would grind on.

Notable Campaigns

The Tome Keepers have fought in many notable conflicts, their honour rolls full of great victories. Countless worlds have been liberated and billions of lives saved by their selfless actions.

Yet powerful enemies have also been made.

M32 - The Founding

  • War of the Beast (544-546.M32) - The War of the Beast almost saw the downfall of the Imperium. Though an Imperial victory was eventually forthcoming, the cost in lives and resources was colossal. Frustrated by the actions of the High Lords of Terra, Grand Master of Assassins Drakan Vangorich had the majority of them assassinated, leaving him virtually the sole ruler of the Imperium. With the support of Maximus Thane -- lord commander of the Imperium -- Vangorich sanctioned the creation of a new Founding of Space Marines. The decree was passed in 546.M32 and shortly afterwards the Chapters of the Fourth Founding were raised.
  • Chapter 281 (546-567.M32) - The Adeptus Mechanicus oversaw the creation of four hundred battle-brothers using Ultramarines gene-stock. Captain Caelus Viator, formerly of the Ultramarines 2nd Company, was given command of the fledgling Chapter 281. Over the following two solar decades, Viator trained his new recruits while the Chapter's assets were mustered.
  • New Frontiers (567.M32) - The Chapter established a homeworld on the planet of Istrouma in the Segmentum Pacificus. The Chapter was named the "Tome Keepers" by its Astartes following the presentation to them of an extremely rare stasis-protected manuscript called the White Book by the people of their new homeworld.
  • Stellar Anomaly (Unknown Date.M32) - An alien construct was found surrounding the white dwarf star of the Istrouman System. It couldn't be destroyed, yet neither did it seem to pose any threat. The Tome Keepers used its airless corridors to practice void combat routines.

M33-M34 - The Xenowars

  • Valuable Lessons (Unknown Date.M33) - Following a series of raids by Craftworld Aeldari from Biel-Tan, the Tome Keepers joined an Imperial Crusade into the Segmentum Tempestus to hunt down and destroy their craftworld. They battled the elusive aliens across a dozen star systems and were dragged into conflicts with several other alien races in the process. After becoming embroiled in a three-year-long war with a nascent Ork Empire, the Imperial forces abandoned the hunt for Biel-Tan and disbanded. The Tome Keepers made detailed notes on their foes, vowing never again to be tricked by the elusive aliens.
  • The Detonation of 56-Kappa Munita (228.M34) - The munitions world of 56-Kappa Munita was the scene for the first large-scale martial engagement of the Tome Keepers Chapter in 228.M34. The planet sat just outside the predicted path of WAAAGH! Gobrok, which had already smashed through two sub-sectors. By conducting a series of fleet-based actions, the Tome Keepers were able to lure Gobrok's ramshackle starships towards 56-Kappa Munita and then engaged the Orks on the planet's surface. Though vastly outnumbered, the Tome Keepers fought only on their own terms, ambushing exposed columns, making fighting retreats and always occupying the higher ground. Growing evermore enraged at his evasive foe, the Warlord Gobrok conducted an all-out attack on the planet's city-sized munitions storage facility into which he had seen the Tome Keepers retreat. It was exactly what the Tome Keepers expected. Having already evacuated the facility's workers, they detonated the explosives they'd planted and blew Gobrok -- and the majority of his WAAAGH! -- to pieces.
  • The First Amplification (Unknown Date.M34) - On the lightning-wreathed world of Jagh, Librarian Artax discovered that he could psychically transmit the voices of others, enabling the company's Orator to be heard over the planet's violent electric storms. All future Librarians were taught this ability upon their induction into the Tome Keepers' Librarius.
  • Massacre in Black Gulch (Unknown Date.M34) - On the dark moon of Faenor, a squad of Tome Keepers were assailed by a foe that appeared to be made of shadows. As they were picked off one by one and dragged into the darkness, the two surviving battle-brothers entered the phosphor mines of Black Gulch, drawing their enemy in with them. Trapped in the darkness, they ignited the phosphor dust, revealing a nest of Drukhari Mandrakes. Though almost blinded, the Space Marines finally overcame the aliens, who had nowhere to hide in the searing light.

M35 - An Imperium Divided

  • Nova Terra Interregnum (M35-M36) - The Ur-council of Nova Terra denounced the High Lords of Terra and claimed rule of the Segmentum Pacificus, plunging the Imperium into civil war. The Tome Keepers were among the Chapters sent to quell the rebellion, which lasted over nine hundred standard years. During this time, great injustices were wrought upon the civilian populations of the Imperium, both by Renegade forces and the Ecclesiarchal armies that were supposedly sworn to protect them. Though they prosecuted their wars efficiently and pragmatically, the Tome Keepers were left disillusioned by the conflict.

M37-M39 - Censure

  • Sanctimonia Conflict (291.M37) - In 291.M37, the Ecclesiarchal world of Sanctimonia was overrun by the forces of Chaos. Within solar months, the entire sector was ablaze with the taint of Chaos. The Tome Keepers responded to the astropathic pleas for help and -- along with a Black Templars Crusade, two convents of Adepta Sororitas Sisters of Battle and eight Astra Militarum regiments -- began a campaign of cleansing the fallen worlds. The first signs of discord amongst the allied force occurred on the Hive World of Gleb when Canoness Sophira -- a vehement witch-hater from the Order of the Argent Shroud -- baulked at the presence of the Tome Keepers' Chief Librarian Eshuh and his retinue of Librarians. Her distrust of the psykers led to a much higher casualty rate than expected, particularly when telepathic communications from Eshuh were ignored by the Ecclesiarchal forces. Less than a standard year later, on the Shrine World of Bespax, the Tome Keepers under the command of Captain Saduq were forced to destroy the Mausoleum Divinito -- a vast crypt containing the bodies of over three hundred Imperial martyrs -- when a Warp portal was opened inside it by a conclave of demagogues. Incensed by the unholy act of desecration, the Adeptus Ministorum were further enraged when Saduq pointed out that the entombed had already been martyred once and that a second time would do them no further harm. On the Civilised World of Happenstance, the Tome Keepers were to join three Dephon Astra Militarum regiments in a combined assault on a Heretic-held city. The Astra Militarum -- who were accompanied by Simonius Faulke, Cardinal Palatine of Sanctimonia -- were to engage the enemy defences while the Tome Keepers conducted a Drop Pod assault on their command position. When the city came in sight, however, Faulke ordered the Astra Militarum to advance immediately and slaughter the enemy in the Emperor's name. He disregarded the battle plan devised by the Tome Keepers, deeming their prudence and caution to be a lack of faith in the Emperor's protection and divine guidance. The Dephon regiments were almost wiped out as they launched their attack, and the Tome Keepers were forced to abort their own mission to extract them. The Tome Keepers decried Faulke's disregard for Human life. In turn, Faulke accused them of dereliction of duty. The final blow came when the Tome Keepers joined the assault on Sanctimonia. As they assailed the holy capital city, the Black Templars and Adepta Sororitas made no distinction between Heretic forces and civilians, deeming that a solar decade spent on a Chaos-held world would be enough to taint even the strongest minds. Though their actions proved to be prudent in the aftermath, the Tome Keepers would not forgive their allies for what they saw as wanton butchery and the slaughter of potential innocents. The Tome Keepers departed Sanctimonia on difficult terms with both the Black Templars and the Ecclesiarchy. Though the Adeptus Astartes are not bound by Ecclesiarchal law, nor required to follow its teachings, the Tome Keepers nevertheless found themselves unfairly vilified by other Imperial organisations in the wake of the campaign.
  • Activation (Unknown Date.M37) - A stellar flare from the Tome Keepers' home star of GB 6-77 lit up the night sky of Istrouma for almost a solar hour. Unseen in the glare, the alien construct surrounding the star contracted briefly, then returned to its normal size.
  • Bellrath Crusade (182-435.M38) - The Tome Keepers joined the Imperial Crusade to liberate the Laanath Rifts. Once again, poor relations with the Adeptus Ministorum led to internal conflict, which subsequently drew the searching eye of the Ordo Hereticus. Frustrated with their supposed allies, the Tome Keepers chose to fight solely alongside the Sons of Medusa against the alien race known as the Hellgrammite.

M41 - Time of Ending

  • A Diamond in the Rough (Unknown Date.M41) - The Trial of Pages yielded disappointing results, producing just a single aspirant. The boy was named Nasiem of House Tergu.
  • Awakening of Salax (748.M41) - In 748.M41, the astropathic choir on Istrouma received a scrambled message from the Adeptus Mechanicus Mining World of Salax on the outskirts of the Hyrakii Deeps. Suspecting an Ork invasion, a Tome Keepers task force arrived at Salax only to find the entire planet scoured of Human life. More troubling was that there were no tell-tale signs of Ork activity. Making planetfall near the mining facility, the Tome Keepers discovered signs of battle, but none like they had ever recorded before. Whole segments of the Mechanicus Research Station appeared to have been shorn off, the bare metal shining in the sun. Discarded tools, weapons and equipment lay everywhere, neatly bisected. Of the tech-priests there was no sign. As Chapter serfs began documenting the scene, Captain Ilunae led the task force into the heart of the mountain beneath the facility. As they approached the bottom of the access tunnels, a swarm of metallic creatures burst from the darkness to engulf the Space Marines. They were soon joined by far larger constructs that materialised through solid rock, their bladed limbs slicing easily through the power armour of Ilunae's troops. Despite the sudden assault, the Tome Keepers dispatched their foes and pushed on into the tunnel. What they found inside was not a series of caverns, but a Necron tomb complex, the walls lined with row upon row of stasis crypts. Necron Immortals were the first to awaken. Facing an unknown enemy, Ilunae shouted "Third Hephax" over the vox -- a battle cant that every Tome Keeper present knew by rote. As the Tactical Marines advanced fearlessly towards the enemy, bolters blazing, the company's Assault Marines skirted the flanks to come upon the enemy from behind. Chainswords screamed and shuddered as they smashed into the metal warriors, while power weapons sliced through the Necrons far more easily. As Ilunae joined the fighting, his Devastator Marines planted Melta Bombs around the complex before leading the retreat. The Tome Keepers fell back to the surface in good order as the Necron complex detonated. And so did the Tome Keepers record their first engagement with the Necrons of the Thokt Dynasty -- the beginning of a war that would last over two hundred standard years.
  • Constantinus Iconoclasm (746-759.M41) - The Tome Keepers were dispatched to Nova Terra once again, where they joined the Iron Knights Chapter in the pacification of a rebellion led by the Renegade Constantinus, formerly of the Sons of Guilliman Chapter. So great was the former Space Marine's heresy that the entire sector was eventually plunged into open war for thirteen standard years.
  • War in the Hyrakii Deeps (Unknown Date.M41) - Having eradicated the Orks in the Hyrakii Deeps, the Necrons of the Thokt Dynasty began attacking Imperial worlds. The Tome Keepers' 3rd, 4th and 9th Companies joined the Skitarii Legions of Stygies VIII and the Titans of the Legio Honorum in defending them. During this time, the Chapter suffered great losses, including several strike cruisers and a large number of armoured vehicles. Despite repeated requests for aid, the Tome Keepers and Stygians were left to prosecute the war on their own. The Necrons, relentless in their pursuit of reconquest, continued the expansion of their empire to this day.
  • 13th Black Crusade (ca. 999.M41) - Abaddon launched his 13th Black Crusade. Chapter Master Saargon bal Zakir led every warrior he could spare from his depleted Chapter towards the Eye of Terror in a bid to aid the Imperial forces. His fleet of ships arrived too late to join the war around Cadia, but aided in the defence of Chinchare and Agripinaa. More than one hundred battle-brothers and almost a score of battle tanks were lost defending the Forge World of Agripinaa, while those fighting on Chinchare were virtually wiped out by Daemons of Nurgle. Though these losses were a severe blow to the Chapter, many more worlds would have fallen without the Tome Keepers' intervention.
  • Birth of the Great Rift (ca. 999.M41) - As the Noctis Aeterna following the birth of the Great Rift plunged the galaxy into darkness, the Somnolent Seers of Istrouma began to record the strange dreams experienced by the planets' inhabitants. Thousands of disturbing accounts were recorded before the Librarians of the Tome Keepers realised the peril and intervened. The dream diaries were gathered up and burned, though it is rumoured that some were saved from the flames. As the pyres burned away to ash, a great scar -- the Cicatrix Maledictum -- could be seen splitting the galaxy.
  • Night of a Thousand Rebellions (999.M41) - Whole swathes of the Segmentum Pacificus fell to insurrection as Chaos Cults sprang up on scores of key worlds. Captain Aneser led the Tome Keepers' under-strength 5th Company to Kaillic VI, which had been taken over by the Slaaneshi Pleasure Cult of Vorlak the Everblind. A swift Drop Pod assault by the Tome Keepers made short work of the cult hierarchy, but the battle was far from over. Guided by the scent of ecstatic death, Daemonettes and Fiends of Slaanesh glid through the gossamer-thin veil between worlds and assailed the Tome Keepers forces. Though the Warp rift was sealed and the Daemons banished, over forty Tome Keepers were slain, Captain Aneser among them.
  • A Light in Dark Times (ca. 999.M41) - Rumours reached the Tome Keepers that Roboute Guilliman -- primarch of the Ultramarines and their ancestral primogenitor -- had been reborn on Macragge. Chapter Master Saargon sought confirmation from Holy Terra, but no answer was forthcoming.
  • Torchbearers (ca. 999.M41) - A small fleet of Imperial starships serving as a Torchbearers force of the Indomitus Crusade under the command of Shield-Captain Jasek of the Adeptus Custodes arrived at Istrouma. Jasek demanded to meet with the Chapter Master, but Captain Abonidas, the Tome Keepers' Master of Recruits, welcomed the visitors in Saargon's stead. Upon arrival at the fortress-monastery, Jasek proclaimed that the Chapter was to be reinforced and that a tribute of new gene-seed was to be received. The meeting lasted less than one solar hour. Jasek departed, leaving behind one hundred and twenty Primaris Space Marines drawn from the Greyshields, a batch of newly modified gene-seed and a host of medicae and Adeptus Mechanicus technical staff so that the Tome Keepers could begin to raise their own forces of Primaris Marines.
  • The Great Reordering (ca. 999.M41) - Upon his return to Istrouma, Chapter Master Saargon welcomed the new battle-brothers with open arms, though he found the lack of information surrounding their arrival curious. The Chapter was reorganised to accommodate the new Greyshield battle-brothers. The majority of the Chapter's existing Firstborn warriors were elevated to the 1st and 2nd Companies, with the 3rd and 4th Companies taking the bulk of the Primaris Marine draftees. The Chapter's Apothecaries trialed the new Primaris gene-seed on the first batch of novitiates before offering existing battle-brothers the chance to cross the Rubicon Primaris and ascend to the new status. They volunteered to do so unanimously but, fearful of losing many of the Chapter's Veterans to the unknown process, Chapter Master Saargon ordered caution. The newly promoted Captain Nasiem bal Tergu was the first to undergo the dangerous procedure and the first ascended Primaris Marine of the Chapter.

M41-M42 - Era Indomitus

The Tome Keepers 3rd Company charges into battle against the undying Necrons during the Argovon Campaign of the Pariah Crusade.

  • Indomitus Crusade (ca. 999.M41 - ca. 111.M42) - Two companies of the Tome Keepers were assigned to serve in the Indomitus Crusade. The 2nd Company joined Battle Group Oberon of Fleet Tertius as it swung past Avernia and into the Segmentum Pacificus. Chaos uprisings were rife in this region of space but were easily quashed by the huge armada. The battle group headed north to relieve the beleaguered naval base at Hydraphur. The Tome Keepers' 3rd Company ("Godbreakers") joined Task Force XI of Battle Group Kallides of the Indomitus Crusade Fleet Primus. Battle Group Kallides fought against the Necrons located in the foreboding region of the galaxy designated the Pariah Nexus.
    • Argovon Campaign (Unknown Date.M42) - This campaign of the Pariah Crusade was fought in the Argovon System within the Pariah Nexus region. The Imperial forces faced the Necron Szarekhan and Oruskh Dynasties. The campaign was spearheaded by High Field Marshal Janred Remko Hynflagger and his Task Force XI. Under the command of Captain Nasiem bal Tergu, the 3rd Company arrived at Argovon in the Argovon System within the Pariah Nexus. They joined forces with the Navroni 43rd and Samlech 109th Astra Militarum regiments in order to eradicate a Genestealer Cult uprising that had taken over one of the planet's primary industrial sectors. The cult's Genestealer Patriarch was slain by the Tome Keepers, ending the year-long conflict and establishing Argovon as a staging post for further Imperial military actions in the system. The majority of the 3rd Company quickly redeployed to Foronika. The planet was sparsely populated but rich in noctilith deposits, making it a valuable strategic resource for both the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Necrons. Alongside Knights from House Boros, the Tome Keepers succeeded in driving the Necrons back from one of the largest blackstone deposits. The planet was far from secure, however. Meanwhile, a second Tome Keepers force under the command of Lieutenant Gadatas bal Nurval deployed to Hishrea -- the sixth and outermost planet in the Argovon System. The Tome Keepers, along with other Imperial forces, were tasked with the destruction of a pair of Dolmen Gates, which were being used by the Necrons to bring reinforcements into the system. Though the approach to the gates was carefully scouted, the Imperial advance was caught entirely unawares when Necron pylons erupted from the ground and began tearing through their ranks. Only the intervention of the Tome Keepers and Obsidian Jaguars prevented a wholesale massacre. The Dolmen Gates were finally destroyed after two solar months of gruelling warfare, but the victory proved a pyrrhic one. A Necron tomb fleet soon arrived in-system, forcing a full-scale Imperial retreat from Hishrea. The war in the Pariah Nexus would grind on.

Chapter Homeworld

The Desert World of Istrouma in orbit of the white dwarf star GB 6-77, Chapter homeworld of the Tome Keepers.

The Tome Keepers' Chapter homeworld of Istrouma exists in a state of perpetual suffering. Scoured by baleful energy from the system's white dwarf star, the planet's surface is heavily irradiated, save for a single large continent that survives on the dark side of the world away from the star's harsh glare.

In addition, the planet's erratic orbit around its star and the gravitic pull of its two moons create tectonic upheaval that alternatively birth new mountain ranges or regularly tear open the crust of the planet to reveal seas of molten lava.

Istrouma is sparsely inhabited by Imperial standards. Small colonies of miners exist out in the barren wilderness and deep beneath the mountain ranges, but the majority of the world's population lives on the one, easily inhabitable continent.

The planetary capital is the city of Niveneh, beneath which can be found the vast libraries of the Istrouman people. The fortress-monastery of the Tome Keepers is located near Istrouma's northern pole atop the Zaatos Mountains. It is heavily shielded to protect it from the ambient radiation.

The inhabitants of Istrouma live very short lifespans due to the planet's harsh conditions and the high levels of ambient ionising radiation, rarely living beyond the age of thirty standard years.

Though the people of this world once had longer lifespans in ages past, over the millennia their technological level and thus their average life spans had declined. In effect, progress in their society is painfully slow due to people dying at young ages before they can reach their full potential.

This high mortality rate forces the Istroumans to learn their chosen crafts quickly so that they can contribute to society before they expire, and there is precious little time to pass on that knowledge from master to apprentice, from one generation to the next.

For this reason, in place of oral traditions and effective mentorship, the people of this world maintain written records of everything. When death claims an Istrouman, these detailed records enable their successor to continue where they left off, if only for a few short standard years before they too must pass on the torch to the next scientist, artisan or strategist in line.

Each Istrouman records their deeds for posterity in their own personal or family book, essentially like a journal. This, combined with their life's work and their quest to record every bit of knowledge possible, creates a colossal amount of information worthy of filling many libraries.

Once full, these completed tomes are then stored beneath the surface of the planet's capital within Istrouma's great archives.

When the Ultramarines Successor Chapter designated number 281 first landed upon Istrouma's surface in 567.M32, they were welcomed as heroes of legend. After being informed of the tragedy that had stricken the Istroumans' civilisation as their technology had declined and their greatly shortened lifespan, the Chapter was moved beyond words.

The Space Marines were further honoured with the stewardship of the Istrouman people's most revered possession -- the vast libraries they maintained beneath the surface of the planet's capital city.

This vast library was almost a city in its own right, and it contained millions upon millions of books, dataslates and information terminals. Upon those shelves lay the history of aeons.

The Astartes graciously accepted this most profound gift and swore a solemn oath to protect it forevermore. Taking the name "Tome Keepers," they have proudly borne their Chapter name ever since.

GB 6-77

GB 6-77 is the designation given to the white dwarf star that is in close proximity to the Tome Keepers' homeworld of Istrouma. It has been observed by Imperial savants that some kind of unidentified alien technology surrounds the white dwarf star.

There sits around this star an anomaly of artificial design. Much like the Ring of Iron of Mars, the anomaly takes the form of a giant continuous band that surrounds the star at the celestial equator. It orbits at a distance of approximately five thousand kilometres.

Based on the diameter of the star, the ring is estimated to be around eighty thousand kilometres in circumference. It rotates at the same speed as the star, though due to a lack of defining features, it appears static in long-range scans.

Short-range scans reveal the ring to have apertures on its outer face and protrusions on its inner face. The protrusions take the shape of truncated square pyramids and appear to have no function. The apertures open when approached by small craft.

The interior of the ring is void-sealed but lacks any kind of atmosphere, necessitating void suits be worn at all times. It is heat-shielded, suggesting some kind of power source is still operational, though there are no indications where the power source may be. There are no windows.

The interior, like the exterior, is devoid of features, though there are what appear to be control panels with crystalline viewing screens at regular intervals along the section that was explored by the Tome Keepers.

The panels do not activate when touched. The walls, like the entire station, are made of an unidentifiable metal alloy. Samples could not be taken as the metal appears to be impervious to both tools and weapons.

Attempted destruction of the anomaly has proven impossible both from the interior and the exterior. Reprisals have not been forthcoming as a result of investigations by the Adeptus Mechanicus.

The Tome Keepers have long used the construct's airless corridors to practice void combat routines.

At some point in the 37th Millennium, a stellar flare from GB 6-77 lit up the night sky of Istrouma for almost a solar hour. Unseen in the glare, the alien construct surrounding the star contracted briefly, then returned to its normal size.

For all intents and purposes, the anomaly appears to do nothing. It has been classified Xeno-Ignosis. The Tome Keepers monitor the anomaly in perpetuity.

Chapter Organisation

Pre-Era Indomitus

Before the opening of the Great Rift, like all Successor Chapters that hail from the proud lineage of Roboute Guilliman, the Tome Keepers were also strict adherents to their primarch's greatest work -- the Codex Astartes.

Upon their inception the Chapter was split into the Codex-mandated 10 companies, each 100 battle-brothers strong and led by a captain.

The 1st Company consisted of battle-hardened Veterans and was, invariably, the most powerful and skilled within the Chapter. It was also the only company capable of fielding warriors clad in deadly Terminator Armour.

The 2nd through 5th Companies were the Chapter's Battle Companies and these were composed of a mix of Tactical, Assault and Devastator Squads. Each Battle Company was a self-sufficient battlefield unit, capable of meeting any threat and defeating it. These companies formed the backbone of the Chapter and bore the brunt of the fighting.

The 6th through 9th Companies were the Reserve Companies of the Chapter and each one comprised squads of a particular type of Firstborn Astartes.

The 6th and 7th Companies were Tactical Companies, the 8th Company was the Assault Company and the 9th Company was the Devastator Company.

The 10th Company was made up of Scout Marines who were the Chapter's newest recruits. These divisions were decided upon ten thousand years ago by Roboute Guilliman and served the Chapter well in the years before the opening of the Cicatrix Maledictum.

Post-Era Indomitus

After the integration of the Primaris Marines into their ranks following the start of the Era Indomitus, the Chapter steadily began to rebuild their depleted numbers to nominal strength.

The original Tome Keepers consisting of the Chapter's remaining Veterans left their existing companies and merged into the 1st and 2nd Companies. Essentially, the Veteran Company and first Battle Company is now made up almost entirely of the Chapter's Firstborn battle-brothers.

The 3rd Company is comprised of a few squads of original Firstborn Tome Keepers, with the rest of its ranks being made up of newly acquired Greyshields, Primaris Marines raised during the Ultima Founding. The 4th Company took the remaining Greyshields and the first of the newly created Primaris Tome Keepers.

By 014.M42, the 1st through 5th Companies were back to full strength, boosted by new Primaris recruits. The 6th Company contained only thirty or so battle-brothers, who were normally seconded to other companies.

The 7th Company is currently empty, as is the 8th Reserve Close Support Company, while the 9th Reserve Fire Support Company is close to being full, having taken on all the new recruits from the 10th Scout Company (after being promoted to full battle-brother status, a Space Marine normally serves in a fire support squad before joining a battleline or close support unit).

The Scout Company is full to overflowing with neophytes at various stages of training in an attempt to rebuild the Chapter's strength.

Somnolent Seers

The Somnolent Seers are a sect of Istrouman prophets who use dreams as a form of psychic divination.

Though their short lifespans prevent the seers from becoming formidable psykers, their aptitude for harnessing the Warp has ensured that many of the Chapter's Librarians have been drawn from their ranks over the millennia.

The most notable household is House Mahru.

Triumvirate of Truth

Company Ancient Kae Bal Zhune, Orator Sephax and Epistolary Lykandos form a Triumvirate of Truth on the battlefield.

The Librarians of the Tome Keepers are, like those of other Chapters, well versed in psychic disciplines, from pyromancy and geokinesis to divination and technomancy.

Yet the vast majority of Tome Keepers Librarians specialise in telepathy, using their minds to send vital battlefield communications, inspire their allies and confuse their foes.

One telepathic power the Tome Keepers Librarians have developed is the ability to psychically boost and empower the voice of another, enabling them to inspire and embolden their battle-brothers across great distances and to heightened effect.

It is because of this ability -- known as Amplification -- that a company's Ancient, Orator (Chaplain) and Librarian will often congregate together on the battlefield.

As the Orator reads from the Ancient's weighty tome, the Librarian will imbue his words of wisdom and knowledge with psychic energy before sending them booming directly into the minds of the company's battle-brothers, driving them to greater acts of courage.

Unique Nomenclature

  • Orator - The Tome Keepers refer to their Chaplains as Orators.
  • Page - The Tome Keepers refer to their neophytes as Pages.

3rd Company ("Godbreakers") Order of Battle

The 3rd Company of the Tome Keepers is known as the "Godbreakers" and has gained much fame as part of Battle Group Kallides of the Indomitus Crusade Fleet Primus.

Its current strength is known to include the following order of battle.

Company Command

  • Captain Nasiem bal Tergu, Keeper of the Key
  • Lieutenant Gadatas bal Nurval
  • Lieutenant Sanduq bal Kudana
  • Company Ancient Kae bal Zhune

Specialists

Squads

Company Dreadnoughts

Company Armoury

Company Fleet

Chapter Recruitment

Trial of Pages

The selection process for Tome Keepers aspirants is known as the "Trial of Pages."

Held on Istrouma on the first day of every calendar month, aspirants are gathered from across the system and brought to the planetary capital of Niveneh, where they are pitted against each other in trials of strength, endurance and survival.

Only the most determined have any chance of becoming sky warriors and only the very best aspirants are chosen by the Chapter's Master of Recruits and High Orator (Reclusiarch).

Successful aspirants are known as "pages" until they complete their training, whereupon they become full battle-brothers.

Chapter Combat Doctrine

The Tome Keepers display their usual patience and wisdom while fighting against a foe.

Where other Chapters may rely on aggression or overwhelming firepower to secure victory, the Tome Keepers place a heavy emphasis on clinical battlefield discipline, relying on superior tactics and an understanding of the enemy's capabilities.

Alongside their everyday training, battle-brothers are required to conduct in-depth studies on the enemies they will face, to analyse all of the Tome Keepers' major engagements and to become proficient in the Chapter's battle cant.

With this knowledge, a battle-brother will know what strategy is being employed and his role within it in just a few short words.

Each battle-brother is also encouraged to keep a journal of his own battlefield observations and learnings, thereby furthering the knowledge of the Chapter as a whole and enabling the constant development and employment of new tactics and strategies.

Chapter Beliefs

"There is a history in all men's lives..."

— From Richard II, authored by the Old Earth dramaturge Shakespire, ca. M2

The Tome Keepers' Chapter cult places strong emphasis on the cultural traditions of Istrouma while upholding the teachings that science and reason should prevail over superstition and blind faith.

As a whole, the Chapter's warriors are scholars almost as much as soldiers. They are considered to be thoughtful, measured, and somewhat humanitarian by Imperial standards and will often put civilian lives before their own.

The Tome Keepers are a Chapter that is fixated on history. They are comprised of warriors who are also archivists, scribes and librarians charged with maintaining repositories of books and information. The exact reason for this obssession with obtaining and recording knowledge is not well known to those outside the Chapter.

However, it has been noted by Imperial scholars that the Tome Keepers possess a higher than usual number of Librarians within their ranks. This could be due to their homeworld's proximity to the nearby white dwarf star, whose radiation could be the cause for so many of the Istroumans suffering genetic mutation and the creation of psykers.

Due to the sacred oath the Chapter swore to protect Istrouma's most sacred texts stored within their world's massive library, combined with the short lifespans of the planet's population, the Tome Keepers feel obligated to uphold the traditions of their homeworld.

Therefore, every Tome Keeper battle-brother keeps his own account of his deeds and day-to-day activities recorded within their own books for posterity. It is not uncommon for these warriors to carry a copy of these books into battle (as books are not particularly suited to the rigours of war), therefore these symbolic versions of the original are firmly secured on their belts or kept amongst their personal effects.

They are updated after each battle, the battle-brother noting down observations on the foe or tactics and strategies that worked particularly well. In this way, the Chapter is able to continue the cultural practices of their homeworld while accumulating vast amounts of knowledge and information on the galaxy's many threats.

However, the constant recording of everything they see and experience is often a point of contention between the Chapter and those they often serve alongside, since the Tome Keepers have a tendency to see and record things that others might not want them to. These tomes are unusually uncensored within their own ranks, which in effect strengthens these Space Marines' morality compared to more bellicose Chapters.

However, such unsolicited observations could easily see the Chapter come into conflict with other Imperial institutions such as the Inquisition and the Ecclesiarchy if they are not more careful.

As of yet, the Chapter has managed to avoid such contentious entanglements. However, it has been noted that in the past, when the Chapter has gone into battle alongside another Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes, they have almost come to blows over a difference of opinion or something done by the other Chapter that they shouldn't have observed.

Due to the augmented lifespan of the Tome Keepers, this has become a source of conflict with the local people of their homeworld, whose culture is shaped by the shortness of their lives.

Rather than revering the Space Marines as demigods, they view their Astartes masters as untouchables -- unnatural outcasts whose genetic enhancements upset the normal cycle of life and death. Even the Tome Keepers themselves are conflicted between their duty to serve and their natural place among the deceased.

Dreadnoughts are highly venerated by the Tome Keepers, for they have endured hundreds, if not thousands, of standard years of warfare, thereby accumulating vast knowledge and battlefield experience.

Though formidable fighting machines in their own right, the Chapter's Dreadnoughts will often offer tactical or strategic advice to the strike force they are fighting alongside and, in some cases, have even led task forces where their field of expertise is of particular relevance.

For the Istrouman-born Tome Keepers, Dreadnoughts hold a special significance, for they see them as the ideal balance between death and duty. Upon interment in a Dreadnought's sarcophagus, the battle-brother's book is closed, signifying their passing and enabling their soul to take its rightful place in death alongside their ancestors.

Yet through ancient technology and a Dreadnought chassis, their mortal remains continue to fulfil their duty to the Chapter. It is an idealised fate that many Tome Keepers aspire to.

Closing of the Book

The Tome Keepers have adopted several traditions from Istrouma, including the "Closing of the Book" ceremony. When a battle-brother is slain, their personal tome is retrieved by an Apothecary along with their Progenoid Glands.

Following the engagement, one of the warrior's peers will write the final chapter in their tome, detailing their heroic death. A ceremony -- officiated by the company Orator -- is then held to celebrate the deeds of the fallen battle-brother.

During this ritual, his book is ceremonially closed and wrapped in red ribbon, signifying his sacrifice. In time, the journals of the fallen are all returned to Istrouma and the library of Niveneh.

Purity Seals

Like most Loyalist Space Marines, the Tome Keepers often adorn their armour with purity seals to show they are not tainted by Chaos.

In addition, each battle-brother is permitted to add a strip of parchment to a purity seal inscribed with the names of those who have died fighting alongside him.

It is said that when Chapter Master Sabium finally fell in battle, his purity seals had over eight hundred names recorded on them, every one written by his hand.

Deathwatch Service

Since the Chapter's inception, ninety-six battle-brothers have been seconded to the Deathwatch, their understanding of xenos races and their meticulous records on such subjects proving a massive boon to the alien-hunting elite.

Their ongoing conflict with the Thokt Dynasty Necrons has already proven invaluable in the war for the Pariah Nexus.

Notable Tome Keepers

  • Chapter Master Saargon bal Zakir - Current Chapter Master of the Tome Keepers, Keeper of the Truth and planetary governor of Istrouma.
  • Chapter Master Sabium - Sabium was a former Chapter Master of the Tome Keepers. He took part in his Chapter's tradition of adding a strip of parchment to a Purity Seal that was inscribed with the names of those who have died fighting alongside him. It is said that Sabium had over 800 names hanging from his Purity Seals when he finally fell in battle.
  • Chapter Master Caelus Viator - Patriarch and first Chapter Master of the Tome Keepers, Caelus Viator was formerly a captain of the Ultramarines 2nd Company and veteran of the War of the Beast in the 32nd Millennium. He was elevated to the rank of Chapter Master and given the command of his own Chapter during the 4th Founding. He was responsible for overseeing the initial creation and training of his Chapter's first initiates.

Captain Nasiem Bal Tergu, Keeper of the Key, commander of the 3rd Company.

  • Captain Nasiem bal Tergu, Keeper of the Key - Primaris Captain of the Tome Keepers' 3rd Company ("Godbreakers"). Born Nasiem of Istrouma's House Tergu, he later became the only aspirant of his cycle to pass the Tome Keepers' Trial of Pages. Captain Nasiem was a Firstborn Chapter Veteran who served for several standard centuries in various companies before rising to the rank of Terminator sergeant in the 1st Company. When the first Greyshields joined the Chapter, he was awarded the rank of captain and given command of the newly forged 3rd Company. To better understand his new Primaris Marine charges, he chose to cross the Rubicon Primaris and become one himself, emerging stronger and more powerful than ever before. Following his transformation he later took part in the Argovon Campaign as a part of the Indomitus Crusade's Battle Group Kallides' Task Force XI. As the war against the insidious Necrons raged, Captain Tergu served on the task force's senior command staff as a representative of the Space Marines. His armour includes the pauldrons he wore in the 1st Company, while his Crux Terminatus hangs from an aiguillette across his chest. His injuries have yet to be documented, but they clearly show that he often leads his warriors at the forefront of any battle. His axe is a Chapter heirloom crafted many thousands of standard years ago by his ancestors and held in the Chapter Armoury. The Tome Keepers put great stock in the work of their forebears, and bal Tergu's ancestors were clearly weaponsmiths of great renown. Due to their short lifespans, dozens -- perhaps hundreds -- of them helped forge this axe. Nasiem also carries a dog-eared book on his belt that recounts his life's work.
  • Captain Abonidas, Master of Recruits - Abonidas is the current Master of Recruits for the Tome Keepers Chapter. He was on their homeworld of Istrouma when the Torchbearers fleet of the Adeptus Custodes Shield-Captain Jasek arrived. The shield-captain demanded to meet with the Tome Keepers' Chapter Master, Saargon bal Zakir, but as he was off-world at the time, Abonidas met with Jasek instead. Before he later left, Jasek gifted the Tome Keepers with the ability to create Primaris Space Marines and 120 Greyshields of Ultramarines descent that greatly helped the under-strength Chapter begin to rebuild.
  • Captain Ilunae - A captain of the Tome Keepers.
  • Captain Aneser - Aneser was the captain of the Tome Keepers' 5th Company when the Night of a Thousand Rebellions began. As whole swathes of the Segmentum Pacificus fell to insurrections by Chaos Cults, Aneser led his understrength company to put down a rebellion on Kaillic VI. Once there, they successfully destroyed the Pleasure Cult of Vorlak the Everblind. However the scent of the cultists' ecstatic deaths caused Slaaneshi Daemonettes and Fiends to appear through a Warp rift present on the world. Though the Tome Keepers were able to eventually seal the rift and banish the Daemons, Captain Aneser and over forty members of the 5th Company were killed in the process.

3rd Company Ancient Kae bal Zhune, Bearer of the Tome Empiricus.

  • Ancient Kae bal Zhune - Known as the Bearer of the Tome Empiricus, the 3rd Company Ancient Kae bal Zhune hails from the barren tundra world of Kastix on the outskirts of the Istrouma System. A man of few words, his dour appearance belies a paternal streak that has seen him take many of the newer members of the company under his wing, instructing them in the ways of the Chapter. Implacable on the advance and indomitable in defence, he was Nasiem bal Tergu's first and only choice for Company Ancient. Into his care was entrusted the Tome Empiricus, a book of valuable knowledge and tactical insights from which the Tome Keepers can draw great wisdom. Though Kae traditionally bears the book atop an Aquila standard, he has been known to carry it into battle so that Orator Sephax can read inspirational passages from it. Like his captain, Kae crossed the Rubicon Primaris during the Great Reordering. He still wears his Sternguard Veteran pauldrons, the Crux Terminatus a mark of his Veteran status within the company.

Orator Sephax, "The Young Fury".

  • Orator Sephax - Bombastic and full of righteous fury, Sephax, "The Young Fury," is the spiritual heart of the 3rd Company and the second-in-command of the company after Captain Nasiem bal Tergu. Drafted into the Chapter as a Greyshield Chaplain, Sephax is young by Space Marine standards at barely forty standard years of age, yet he quickly made a name for himself on the battlefield as both an inspirational rhetor and a brutal fighter. Indeed, Sephax's Crozius Arcanum takes the form of a huge double-handed mace that he wields with relative impunity, every swing pulverising the flesh and armour of his foes. It is little wonder that the Orator is often found fighting alongside the company's close-support elements, leading devastating charges to break the back of the enemy army, all the while bellowing out the tenets of the Tome Empiricus. Since joining the Chapter, Sephax has taken to writing his own battlefield journal, a practice that he has encouraged other Greyshields to adopt.

Epistolary Lykandos, "The Truthseeker".

  • Epistolary Lykandos, "The Truthseeker" - Where Orator Sephax is outspoken and voluble, the Epistolary Lykandos, known as "The Truthseeker," is quiet and sullen, a virtual recluse within the Chapter. Recognised as a latent psyker when he was a novitiate, Lykandos endured great pain and suffering during his training as a Greyshield Librarian, and he was left badly scarred by the experience. To this day his skin appears pale and waxen, his eyes forever haunted by things that no sane mind should witness. Yet with experience came understanding, and Lykandos undertakes his duty with great solemnity, for he knows that now, more than ever, Sanctioned Psykers are required to safeguard the security of the Imperium. As an epistolary, Lykandos is a gifted telepath primarily responsible for battlefield communications. However, his quiet demeanour is not to be underestimated. With a simple gesture he can shatter the mind of an unguarded foe, or even force them to do his bidding. Only the strong-willed have any hope of resisting his powers. Lykandos is attached to the Tome Keepers' 3rd Company.
  • Lieutenant Sanduq bal Kudana - Lieutenant of the 3rd Company. He served in the Argovon Campaign with Task Force XI of Battle Group Kallides, which saw the Tome Keepers do battle with the Necrons.
  • Lieutenant Gadatas bal Nurval - Lieutenant of the 3rd Company. He served in the Argovon Campaign with Task Force XI of Battle Group Kallides, which saw the Tome Keepers do battle with the Necrons. During the campaign, Nurval led the Tome Keepers forces that fought on Hishrea. He was among the forces that advanced upon the Necrons in order to topple the two Dolmen Gates the xenos were using to bring reinforcements to the world. However to do that, the task force had to pass through Hishrea's Nurtheos Shore, which was held by the Necrons. In the battle that followed, Nurval sighted the commanding Necron Lord and the lieutenant immediately led his Bladeguard Veterans against the xenos commander. The outcome of their battle is not known, but the Imperial forces succeeded in destroying the Dolmen Gates. However Hishrea was later ordered to be evacuated by the commanding Admiral Archibalda Tansk after a large Necron fleet arrived in orbit of the world.
  • Apothecary Kelam bal Nureem - Apothecary of the 3rd Company.
  • Techmarine Rabash bal Raetut - Techmarine of the 3rd Company.
  • Eriba - Intercessor of the 3rd Company, 2nd Battleline Squad.
  • Zerin - Vanguard Infiltrator of the 6th Company, 5th Squad.
  • Venerable Dreadnought Dhumat, "The Shield Eternal" - Venerable Dreadnought of the 3rd Company.
  • Dreadnought Kasaad - Ironclad Dreadnought of the 3rd Company.
  • Dreadnought Inevah - Redemptor Dreadnought of the 3rd Company.
  • Dreadnought Nadinusur - Redemptor Dreadnought of the 3rd Company.

Chapter Fleet

  • Legerin Heqite (Excelsis-class Battle Barge) - The crowning glory of the Tome Keepers' fleet is the Legerin Heqite, an Excelsis-class battle barge that can trace its history back to the Great Crusade. It is rumoured that the Primarch Roboute Guilliman once walked its hallowed corridors, and it is hoped he will do so once again now that he has been reborn. The starship's Istrouman name roughly translates as "Seeker of Truth."
  • Hariwok (Strike Cruiser) - The Hariwok is a strike cruiser that served as a base of operations for the Tome Keepers' 3rd Company during the Indomitus Crusade and took part in the Argovon Campaign of the Pariah Crusade.

Chapter Relics

The Tome Keepers' most sacred relic, the White Book.

  • White Book - The so-called White Book is considered the most sacred and important relic of the Tome Keepers. This ancient tome is securely stored in the Chapter's collection of knowledge within their fortress-monastery. It is not guarded, but then neither is it easily accessible. In fact, it is impossible to get close to it at all, for it is contained entirely at odds with the design of the rest of the Chapter's Librarius. Where those cloistered halls are constructed out of granite and bedecked with carved wooden shelves, the stasis chamber containing the White Book is of dark metal, old and pitted. Scans reveal the temporal distortion of the stasis field containing the book to be approximately nine thousand standard years, which predates the creation of the Chapter. The White Book is visible through a small observation window akin to an armoured porthole. It floats above a suspensor lectern, held perfectly motionless by the stasis field inside the chamber. The book is roughly four hands tall by six wide (three hands per page) and the pages appear to be made of pseudo-paper as opposed to parchment or vellum. It lies open and faces towards the viewer, making it impossible to analyse the cover, which most assume is white given the name of the book. The clasp is visible, however. It is made of silver or a silver-like material, and chased with geometric patterns. The spine of the book seems to be broken by the way the pages fall open, and there are clear signs of fire damage, though nothing substantial. Bookmarks protrude from several pages, though there is no way of telling the significance of them. The book is open close to the centre on page one hundred and forty-four. It is not know if this was done deliberately to balance the book, or if there is a particular significance to those pages. The transcription is legible, written in High Gothic in a steady hand. It makes mention of discovering the truth in all things and that knowledge should be valued above all else -- nothing that a keen observer would describe as heretical. Indeed it is a maxim espoused by those who work for the Emperor's Inquisition. However, the knowledge contained on these visible pages ends on a monumental cliffhanger. One can only imagine the frustration of the Chapter's Librarians being unable to access the knowledge inside.
  • Tome Empiricus - The Tome Empiricus is a relic of the Tome Keepers' 3rd Company and contains the records of its greatest military feats. The tome hangs from the company standard carried by the 3rd Company's Ancient and it accompanies them when they go to battle. Though copies of the Tome Empiricus exist, it is still treated with great reverence and is protected by a powerful coruscating force field.
  • Relic Power Axe - Captain Nasiem bal Tergu of the 3rd Company carries a Power Axe that is a Chapter heirloom crafted many thousands of standard years ago by his ancestors and held in the Chapter Armoury. The Tome Keepers put great stock in the work of their forebears, and bal Tergu's ancestors were clearly weaponsmiths of great renown. Due to their short lifespans, dozens -- perhaps hundreds -- of them helped forge this axe.

Chapter Appearance

Chapter Colours

Tome Keepers tactical specialty icons.

The Tome Keepers wear power armour the colour of ancient vellum with black shoulder pauldron trim.

The Chapter symbol is proudly displayed on their left shoulder plate, while the black tactical specialty insignia -- battleline, close support, fire support, Veteran or command -- is displayed on their right shoulder guard.

Company colours are the same as those prescribed in the Codex Astartes but displayed on the Aquila or Imperialis on the chest instead of as the shoulder guard trim.

Tome Keepers company colours as displayed on the Aquila or Imperialis on the chest plate.

A small, white Low Gothic numeral is stenciled into the centre of the tactical specialty icon which indicates a battle-brother's assigned squad.

Company squads number 1 though to 10. Additional units added to the company adopt the numbers 11 to 20 consecutively, with the first additional unit being 11, the second 12, etc.

The Tome Keepers' black shoulder pauldron trim and tactical specialty symbols represent the ink used to record the Tome Keepers' experiences and accomplishments in their great tomes.

Rank markings are shown on helmets, with the colour of the helmet displaying the rank of the battle-brother as shown below, though there are a few deviations from the Codex Astartes.

Instead of white helmets, Veterans wear black faceplates.

Veteran sergeants also possess black faceplates but with a red helmet, as laid down in the Codex.

The most notable deviation from the Codex is the lieutenant's helmet, which is a reverse of the Veteran sergeant's colours.

A Tome Keepers' captain typically displays the traditional bone of the Tome Keepers' armour, but with the addition of a skull or laurel.

Personal heraldry is also allowed.

The Astartes of the 1st Company wear white or silver.

Chapter Badge

The colour of the Tome Keepers' helms indicates their rank within the Chapter.

The Tome Keepers' Chapter badge takes the form of a stylised black tome with a white, four-pointed star in the centre, sitting upon a bone backdrop.

Known as "The Tome Celestial," this symbol reflects two parts of the Tome Keepers' background -- their reputation as chroniclers and historians, and the special significance of the white dwarf star that their homeworld orbits.

The star represents GB 6-77, the white dwarf star around which the Chapter's homeworld orbits. The book symbolises the acquisition and recording of knowledge.

It sits open to show that knowledge is infinite and that understanding is more powerful than blind faith. A Tome Keepers book is never shown closed unless in memoriam.

Sometimes a variation of the Chapter's main badge is worn. A bone or white skull is featured in lieu of the four-pointed star, which represents the Chapter's fixation with mortality.

This symbol is usually worn by the Chapter's sergeants and Veterans.

Trivia

An Astral Hounds Primaris Marine.

Both the Tome Keepers and the Astral Hounds Chapters were created by the 2020 staff of White Dwarf as potential candidates for a staff-created mascot Chapter for the magazine.

Ultimately, the Tome Keepers were chosen over the Astral Hounds, although many of the concepts created for the Astral Hounds were later re-used and incorporated into the Tome Keepers' lore.

Another interesting fact is that the names of the characters for the Tome Keepers were drawn from the Royal Library of Ashurbanipal, named after the last great king of the Assyrian Empire.

The Royal Library is a collection of thousands of clay tablets and fragments containing texts of all kinds from the 7th Century B.C., particularly from the Post Neo-Babylonian era.

Sources

Gallery

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