- "...for we, blessed of Chaos, vow to deliver the Materium unto our Dark Masters, to salt the earth of a thousand worlds and water it with the blood of the unbeliever..."
- —Darksworn Battle-Chant
The foremost of the splinter warbands that make up the forces of the Dark Covenant, the Darksworn are the elite warriors led by the Coryphaus Errant himself, Xaphuris. Battle-seasoned veterans of the Horus Heresy, these former Word Bearers have been molded into a potent strike force by the Arbiter of Chaos, their dark fanaticism tempered by their leader's tactical ability, making them formidable opponents on any battlefield.
(MORE TO COME)
Even amongst the zealous ranks of the Covenant are the Darksworn considered to be the most devout, though not in the sense one would think. Rather than conduct lengthy sermons or pray during occult rituals like their former Word Bearer brethren, the Darksworn take their prayer to the battlefield, conducting thunderous sermons while simultaneously bringing the wrath of the Dark Gods upon their foes in the form of massed bolts and blades. To them, actions speak of greater depths of devotion than simple words, which is why they function as more of a military body than a fanatical host of crusaders, much to the surprise and dismay of many an enemy.
Because of this there is an almost cult-like sense of brotherhood amongst the ranks of the Darksworn, strengthened only by the fact that many have been battle-brothers-in-arms since the days of the Great Crusade. In fact, most of their number are veterans, and more still have been under Xaphuris' command since his first days as Coryphaus, and as a result this not only ensures that the Darksworn react to his commands almost instinctively and without question, but ensures their absolute obedience. For indeed, any one of these unholy crusaders would kill or be killed while fulfilling Xaphuris' orders.
However, despite the Darksworn's segregation from the other children of Lorgar, some of their influences still remain. For example the Darksworn still retain the crimson-and-silver colors of the Word Bearers despite having long ago having forsaken the Legion. Besides the usual marks and fetishes of Chaos, verses from the Book of Lorgar can be found etched into their armor or even tattooed into their flesh. Xaphuris allows these influences to remain due to the fact that allowing his chosen warriors to honor their Primarch raised morale, and because Xaphuris himself finds no fault in his genefather's leadership, only that of the Dark Council that lords over the Word Bearer's in His absence.
OrganizationDue to their small numbers, the Darksworn do not adhere to the standard unit types followed by most Chaos Space Marines. Rather, each member of the Darksworn in a unique unit in his own right, armed with whatever wargear best serves their personal fighting style. However at the same time all of said Chaos Marines are well-organized, grouped into small Squads of ten to twelve lead by the most experienced and battle-hardened of their number, who goes under the title of Sergeant.
At the same time, members of the Darksworn with similar preferences are often grouped together into the same squads, in order to increase their overall effectiveness. Amongst their ranks it is very common to see Havoc-like squads laden with heavy weaponry marching alongside Jump Pack-equipped assault Squads or warbike-riding raiders, thus is the variety of the Darksworn, one of their greatest strengths.
Because of the myriad types of Darksworn are rarely at a disadvantage during combat, due to the tactical flexibillity that it affords them. However, the one thing that the Darksworn do lack is heavy armor, as they have precious few tanks amongst their number being mostly made up of infantry. To make up for this often work in concert with other warbands of the Dark Covenant, serving as elite shock troops and commanders while in combat.
Most of the Darksworn's members were once part of the Chapter of the Osseous Throne, a Chapter of the Word Bearers Legion that excelled in infantry wave assaults, and thus their tactics have only evolved since. While they are open to many different forms of attack, the Darksworn's most reliable tactic begins with a massed charge of hard-hitting fast attack units such as Bikers and/or Assault Squads. Once the enemy lines have been successfully broken open, the enemy is rushed by a second wave of massed Chaos Space Marines, backed up by weapon-laden Havocs and the rare Squad of Chaos Terminators, both of which provide fire support to aid in utterly crushing the enemy.
Over the course of their many engagements the Darksworn have been observed using a variety of tactical stratagems, some based off of their standard wave infantry tactic while others are so far removed from said tactic that many commanders have questioned whether or not the enemy they are facing are in fact the Darksworn, often just before the Crusaders of Chaos obliterate their forces. This is due to their leaders influence, for under Xaphuris' direct command, the Darksworn exercise numerous combat strategies formulated by the Coryphaus Errant himself.
Base of Operations
With the Dark Covenant being a Fleet-Based warband, the Darksworn themselves maintain their own base of operations aboard the Desolator-Class Battleship Righteous Blasphemer, which serves as their main barracks and primary place of worship. Within the gloomy halls of the Blasphemer lie numerous darkened shrine-armories in which the Darksworn prepare themselves for yet another conquest in the name of the Dark Gods.
In addition, the Darksworn maintain a second vessel, an Idolator-Class Raider known as the Infernal Aegis. The Aegis is primarily used as a support craft during void combat, but also serves as a meeting place for Xaphuris and the most elite of his chosen warriors, so that they might disscus private matters away from prying eyes.
Raidrius the IconoclastThe former First Acolyte of the the 5th Host, Radrius was once destined to become a member of the Word Bearer's dark priesthood, until Xaphuris arrived. After he slew the Dark Apostle that commanded him, Radrius expect Xaphuris to be rewarded for ridding the Legion of such an incompetent fool, only to watch as he was condemned. Furious at the judgement of the Dark Council, Radrius threw away his future as one of their number to save Xaphuris, and in turn became one of the first members of what would eventually become the Dark Covenant.
Living up to the name he earned during the Horus Heresy, Radrius in indeed an Iconoclast, taking great joy in defacing and defiling the shrines and holy icons of the False Emperor. However, ironically the Iconoclast serves as the Darksworn's resident Icon Bearer, entrusted with carrying the daemonic banner Tenebrus Gloria, a ten-foot tall standard of rune-etched adimantium and skin-woven cloth whose unholy power instills supernatural dread in all enemies who look upon it, and inspires greater heights of fanaticism in those who march under it. The Gloria can even be used as a weapon, it's spiked base being sharp enough to pierce ceramite.
Armand KrellOnce, Armand Krell was a man who enjoyed everything he did. He enjoyed falling upon the loyalist in the name of the Dark Gods, tearing and rending their flesh with bolt and blade with the words of Lorgar upon his lips. He delighted in it, exulted in it, until an ill-timed Phosphrex bomb nearly robbed him of his life on during the Siege of the Imperial Palace. Critically wounded, Krell was placed with the adimantium sarcophagus of a Contemptor Dreadnought, alive but forever bereft of all the sensations he had coveted. Bitter and extremely angry, Armand became a literal engine of destruction, one of the last of the Word Bearer's Annunake, bound to serve the will of the Dark Council forevermore until he defected alongside the rest of his Host to join the Coryphaus Errant Xaphuris on his Dark Crusade.
The only Dreadnought within the entirety of the Darksworn, Armand is perhpas one of the few of his kind that has not gone completely insane from the years of confinement within his metal carapace. Rather, Armand now focuses his passion for battle through the only means he has left; his voice. His oratory skill is awe-inspiring and yet utterly terrifying, blasphemous prayers and reality-rending syllables constantly spilling from his vox-speakers even as he charges towards the enemy like the Juggernaut that he is. In battle Armand Krell wields a massive Power Sword in one mechanical hand, scything his foes into shrieking meat or pulverizing them with his other hand, a mighty Dreadnought-Class Power Fist equipped with an inbuilt Plasma Cannon to cut up any that might flee his devastating attacks.
Crusaders until the end, the Darksworn cover their crimson armor in all manner of Chaotic iconography and fell symbols, in order to show their allegiance to the Dark Gods for all to see. Scripture from the Book of Lorgar is also quite common amongst their ranks, dark verses etched into their armor, weapons, and even their very flesh.
The Darksworn use the symbol of the Dark Covenant as their many icon; that being the twelve-pointed cross somewhat reminiscent of an ancient Terran crusade-symbol. Variations of this symbol are commonplace and can often be seen amongst their ranks.
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- "Praise the Dark Gods, the Pantheon of Dread, for the faith they instill within us! Praise Lorgar, the Bearer of the Word, for the truth that he brought us! Praise Xaphuris, the Arbiter of Chaos, for the strength with which he leads us! Glory to Chaos, glory to the Covenant!"
- —The dark preaching of the Dreadnought Armand Krell
- "Faith alone is not sufficient. To know Chaos in all it's glory, you must stride on to the battlefield and prove your devotion through the blood you spill and the pain you inflict, through the havoc you wreak and the lives you take. Maim, kill, burn and pray till the Warp itself reverberates with the sum of your conquests, and thank your Gods for the chance to serve them in every battle whether you live or die. The first of my followers know this as the simple truth of devotion, which is why they shall always be my chosen warriors."
- —Xaphuris, on the Darkworn
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- "These Heretics try to outpace us brothers! Let us show them how swiftly our wings can take us, and make them rue the day they ever tried to match us on mounts of steel."
- —Eulitus Ephrain of the Wings of Salvaxes
- "I am the stench of death, carried by the black winds of war. Their bikers cannot outrun me. Their havocs cannot fell me. I will cleave a bloody path through their waves and revel in the lamentation of their remaining brothers. "
- —Mahdiler the Pale[src]