- "War is little more than a thousand duels with various swords all taking place over a wide arena. And, forgive my immodesty for saying that, there is no foe I have yet to see who are as skilled in the art of the duel as we Scarlet Serpents."
- —Lord Romuald Childebrand
A Chapter of noble countenance and regal renown, the Scarlet Serpents have a long and storied history as great Sons of Sanguinius, masters of the way of the sword and defenders of Imperial citizenry since their inception. Born of the ancient 3rd Founding, the Scarlet Serpents were created with the express purpose of bolstering the tumultuous Imperial rule over the Exile Sector, the first in what would become a series of Chapters either created or settled in the region to defend its people against the nigh endless tides of xenos and heretics that plague it so. In this unending crusade against the enemies of Mankind, the Scarlet Serpents have been amongst the most venerated of their sister Chapters of the Justicarium, a loose affiliation of Space Marine Chapters who are based in the Exile Sector.
For eons the Scarlet Serpents have done battle against the legions of Chaos and the hordes of xenos, their halls of glory in the Castle Goth overflowing with trophies of vanquished foes and relics of champions past. Their blades have drunk deep of the blood of the abomination and the tyrant, and their swift interventions in both small rebellions and massive campaigns have saved the lives of countless billions of the Emperor's faithful. But a dark stain yet rests upon the otherwise glorious legacy of the Scarlet Serpents, Knights of Ainavstrast, Grand Angels of the Martyr. In spite of their nobility, utter dedication to discipline and poise, the savage bloodlust and madness of the twin curses of the Blood Angels Legion still infects them, and in a manner most vile. For, as the Scarlet Serpents endeavor so greatly to quell their curse, so it overtakes them almost completely. When a Scarlet Serpent falls, not even a trace is left of the warrior he once was. They become depraved, drinking the blood of men and beast alike, and taking to friend and foe with the blade in a savage maelstrom that the Chaplains can only hope to contain. This is the way most members of the Scarlet Serpents, no matter how honorable or grand, are likely doomed to die, blood drunk and raving, their armor slick with the vita of both the heretic and innocent as their erstwhile Brothers shoot them dead like rabid beasts. Such is the curse of the Angel, such is the fate of the Imperium's heroes.
Like all Blood Angels Successors, the Scarlet Serpents suffer greatly from the twin curses of Sanguinius, though their affliction has been mitigated greatly by their own martial traditions. Amongst their fellow Blood Angel Successors it has been noted that the Scarlet Serpents' variant of the Flaw is one of the more devastating examples. For while most who fall to the Black Rage are left in glorious illusion that they are warriors of the bygone Great Crusade and are no longer haunted by the Red Thirst, the Scarlet Serpents fall into a mad blood lust the likes of which is terrible to behold even for the most stout-hearted Space Marine. It is inferred from the mad ravings of those Scarlet Serpents who fall are bathed in visions most vile, a hunger for flesh and murder overpowering all that was once noble and righteous. Memories of mass murder and genocide that the afflicted never lived burn in their mind's eye and haunting manifestos of long dead mad men come unbidden to their lips in howling roars as they kill with abandon.
It is believed that this horrific variant of the Black Rage may come from the Scarlet Serpents' original founding members, many of which were descended from the ranks of the Legion Destroyer Squads. Thus, some theorize that the taint of the Destroyer Squads is buried deep within the Chapter's collective psyche, a lunatic urge to utterly destroy forever burned by chemical fires and radioactive charges into their very essence. Thus, the Scarlet Serpents do not look upon the Black Rage as a simple affliction of the flesh and soul, but the essence of the most vile blooded warriors in the Legion's history coming back from the dead to possess the bodies of their Battle-Brothers.
It is assumed that a Scarlet Serpent in the throes of the Black Rage is suddenly hurled back in time, to the ancient killing fields of the darkest shadow conflicts of the Great Crusade. They become as the psychotic warriors of the Destroyer Squads were then, and the wanton devastation around them becomes as fine wine to the pallet. And so they laugh, a cackling, hollow laugh, which is shortly followed with the discharge of weapons and howling roars that only a Space Marine in the grips of utmost madness can issue. Most devastating of all is that the Flaw rarely happens in singular cases amongst the Scarlet Serpents, the sweeping, sudden chain afflictions being the norm. Usually it is a handful of Battle-Brothers, half a squad or perhaps even a pair if the Chapter is fortunate, but there have been times in the Chapter's history where nearly half of a Company has suddenly broken into a chorus of insane, hollow laughter.
Thus, the Scarlet Serpents pathologically throw themselves into discipline and self restraint, seeking poise and structure to combat every base urge and want. They deny themselves all but the most refined niceties, and regularly purge themselves of their unclean instincts via lash and pain glove in the way of their revered fellows, the Scions of Dorn. Every moment a Scarlet Serpents' mind longs to be focused on any given task, for when idle their hands may begin to tremble, and the screams of killing fields long past may roil to the surface of the mind like a terrible storm that threatens to never end.
Upon the world of Ainavstrast, the great Goth Serpent is a creature of regal renown, a hulking beast known for its poise and raw power. But it was the singular honor of the Knights of Goth, the most mighty of all known Knightly Orders upon Ainavstrast, to take up this beast as their personal symbol and have its likeness crafted upon their armor. For untold centuries, these men clad in sturdy plate fought under the banner of the serpent rampant for their people, the people of the Gothlands.
When the Scarlet Serpents first arrived in the Exile Sector, their first mission was the defense of the Feudal World they would come to call their home, fighting against the hellish forces of WAAAGH! Bludbarka. In the bloody, four year long conflict, the Chapter was all but destroyed, but they broke the back of the Warlord's forces during the Siege of the Castle Goth. Standing shoulder to shoulder with the mortal warriors of the Knights of Goth, the Chapter was left in awe with the fury of these mortal men, who fought at the side of the Emperor's Angels of Death as if they were one and the same. Though the last Knight of Goth would fall in battle, his blade consigning the Warlord himself to death, the Chapter would forever honor these mortal men by taking up their heraldry and their ways. They would become the Knights of Goth reborn, the warriors who still bore the standard of the serpent rampant. They would be the Scarlet Serpents.
Steeped in the chivalric ways of the Ainavstrastian aristocracy and the cultured mannerisms of the Blood Angels Legion of eons past, the Scarlet Serpents exist as an order of warrior artisans and poets, learned in both the ways of war and the elegance of upper class Imperial society. As each recruit is the second born of one of the many royal clans and houses of Ainavstrast, the noble heritage of the Chapter is a manner of great pride to the Astartes themselves, with each Battle-Brother bearing a small mark of his house's heraldry upon his Power Armor, a connection to the family that, though he will likely never see again, he knows he protects with his vows and the precision of his sword arm. In this way, in spite of their constant isolation within the Castle Goth, the Space Marines of the Scarlet Serpents never forget their duty to the people of the Imperium, and that their purpose is to protect and defend the Imperium from within and without.
As they are still technically nobility, many members of the Chapter still carry titles inherited by their linage, but these are more a matter of formality, as no Battle-Brothers of the Scarlet Serpents can be expected to hold and maintain the fiefs of their homeworld nor lord over the citizenry of their barony or principality of origin. Regardless, they often carry these titles with pride, a symbolic token of their connection with their beloved homeworld and its people.
Discipline and graceful efficiency is everything to the Scarlet Serpents, the perfection in every sword stroke, unerring accuracy in every shot, flawless words spoken unto the ranks. To achieve less than the maximum potential in any action is seen as a personal failure to any Scarlet Serpent, a mark on the legacy of the Primarch and the vaunted name of his Chapter. As Astartes, the Scarlet Serpents hold they have been gifted with a rare and monumental privilege to serve the Imperium, and thus will accept nothing less than their all to be given in its defense.
However, the Scarlet Serpents are also famously reclusive and self reliant. To outsiders this seem to be taken as either a sign of pretentiousness, or a mark of great nobility. Regardless, the truth of the matter is much darker. Knowing well the twin curses that seethes in their otherwise noble blood, the Scarlet Serpents seek to distance themselves from others for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost is for the good of their Chapter's reputation, so that should they fall to the depraved urges of the Black Rage and Red Thirst, they will not bring shame to the name of the Chapter as those outsiders who once knew them witnesses the depths of their savagery. Secondly, this distance allows the Chapter to more readily protect their allies and keep the truth of their curses concealed, minimizing the collateral damage that is sure to follow in the wake of a fallen Battle Brother and avoiding the unnecessary shame of witnesses.
The Chapter's Flagship, Serpent King, is a venerable Battle Barge, her hull resplendent in the Chapter's colors and bedecked with countless war-trophies gathered from defeated enemy flagships. Her sister ships, Scarlet Sunrise and Just Sabre are equally formidable, macro cannon and plasma batteries bristling across their crimson hulls and the serpent rampant of the Chapter Badge resplendent upon their prows.
The Scarlet Serpents prefer a direct and decisive engagement against their foes in voidborn conflict, their fleet amassing in a tight formation in order to focus fire upon the enemy's flagship while rapidly closing for boarding actions. The Chapter has been known to deploy small packs of Escort craft prior to battle in concealed positions in order to flank and destroy vital enemy systems such as engines and external life support modules or make early deployments onto a contested planets surface, taking enemy forces planetside by surprise.
The elite Honor Guard of the Chapter Master himself, the Serpent Guard are the Scarlet Serpents' most elite force of veteran warriors. Borne of the Scarlet Serpents' ancient martial traditions and those of the Knights of Goth the sacred, serpent helmed warriors of the Serpent Guard march forth clad in shining sliver and scarlet Terminator armor, laying waste to the enemies of Man with valor and weapons befitting warriors of such legendary prowess.
Steeped in the sacred traditions of the ancient brotherhood of the Knights of Goth and the vaunted traditions of the Scarlet Serpents' First Company, the Serpent Guard fall into battle alongside their Chapter Master or in elite strike teams, Drop Pods smashing directly into the foes ranks. Armed with the traditional Greatswords of Gothii and mighty heavy weaponry, the Serpent Guard slice through the foe with an unmatched elegance and fury that is the stuff of the lost ages of the Great Crusade. The Serpent Guard fall upon the foe clad in their signature Terminator Armor, wrought in the countenance of a mighty dragon, each scale a teardrop of crimson in honor of the blood shed by their Primarch in his final battle. But most vital is a Serpent Guard's Serpent Helm. Forged in the likeness of the Goth Serpent's hissing, fanged maw, the Serpent Helm strikes paralyzing terror into the hearts of all who dare raise their hands against the Sons of Sanguinius.
The Sons of Sanguinius have kept alive this vaunted Great Crusade formation of elite veteran warriors clad in angelic armor. Armed with the mighty Glaives Encarmine and Angelus Pattern Bolters mounted to their wrists, the Sanguinary Guard of the Scarlet Serpents strikes with unparalleled swiftness and might, laying low even the most fearsome of foes in righteous duels and battling scores of lesser foes as if each man was an army unto himself. Equal with their fellow First Company members in the Scarlet Serpents in terms of raw prestige and combat prowess, the Sanguinary Guard of the Scarlet Serpents take to the field clad in righteous crimson and a trim representing the Battle-Brother's noble house of birth, descending upon the foe upon angelic winged Jump Packs like the avenging angels of myth.
As is ancient tradition within the warrior aristocracies of Ainavstrast, the commanders of their grand armies are always borne into battle upon the back of a powerful war steed. Thus the Chapter mirrors these martial practices with pride, Commandants opting to deploy to the battlefield in a unit of Assault Bikes when possible along with Command Squad.
Chevalier Guards are always hand picked warriors of the Company, the finest warriors under the Commandant's command and paragons to their fellow Battle-Brothers. Often the Chevalier Guards are equipped with the finest Power Sabers and Power Spears the Chapter can provide, and their Assault Bikes are awash with personal heraldry, as each Chevalier is considered a hero in his own right and to see his colors upon the field of war is enough to rally his rank and file Battle-Brothers to even greater feats of valor.
Though functionally holding no greater office than a Codex Captain, the title of Commandant is considered within the Scarlet Serpents to be more than a simple title or office of leadership. To be a Commandant is to have been hand picked by both the previous Commandant of the Company, and to have been approved the appointment by the Chapter Master himself. Thus the title of Commandant is a badge of great honor, for it is to be the first amongst equals, and to have been considered by the highest authorities of the Chapter to be an exemplar of the ideals of the Scarlet Serpents.
The Chapter's equivalent of the Sanguinary Priests of their fellow Blood Angels Successors, the Grail Knights are often paragons of piety and honor, their sacred order having served the direct will of the Chapter Master since the very beginnings of the Chapter itself. Considered more militant than the Sanguinary Priests of their sister Chapters, the Grail Knights march to war bearing their sacred Vitae Grails into battle. A variation on the sacred Blood Chalices of the Sanguinary Priesthood, the Vitae Grail is wrought of pure admantium and steel forged of the destroyed plate armor of the fallen Knights of Goth. Such sturdy construction makes the Vitae Grail as potent a weapon as it is an icon of valor and healing.
The Scarlet Serpents Death Company is unleashed in the colors of the condemned and disavowed knights of Ainavstrast, an ashen grey that symbolizes the practice of burning the outcast's banner and daubing his armor in the ashes. For the Scarlet Serpents no longer accept their afflicted as their own, their taint unworthy of the Chapter's grand legacy, their madness unbecoming of a Son of Sanguinius. Thus, the Death Company is held in contempt and disgust, considered base and revolting by the Scarlet Serpents. Those who fall to the Flaw are regarded with scorn as they clearly showed a moment of weakness, something that the Scarlet Serpents hold below any true Astartes. To err is to fail the Emperor, even if it is for a fleeting moment. For as the Black Rage and Red Thirst show, to err for a moment is often catastrophic, especially for those placed so highly by their sacred duty.
But regardless, the Chapter must admit that they too share the same blood as the afflicted, and cannot deny those who were once their honored Battle-Brothers anything less than a warriors death, either by their arms or those of the foe. Therefore, the Scarlet Serpents do not practice the usual executions of the Emperor's Mercy, but instead send their afflicted Battle-Brothers directly into the teeth of the enemy and duel the survivors honorably to the death. However, for those simply too blood drunk to be reasonably euthanized by the blade, chains and stasis chambers must suffice, preserving the sufferer until his life can be spent in combat for a righteous cause.
Thus, the Death Company Marines of the Scarlet Serpents is traditionally outfitted with twin close combat weapons and launched directly into the center of the enemy's formation via Drop Pods bearing the crimson cross of the Death Company. Said Drop Pods violently self-destruct after their deadly cargo is unleashed, intending to conceal any and all evidence that these lunatic warriors ever stood on the same field as the Chapter's honored Battle-Brothers.
A terrible specialist unit of the Scarlet Serpent's Death Company, the Ashen Knights, also known as the Poisoned, are those few afflicted by the Flaw who have convalesced and acclimated to their madness. Though certainly no less deranged than their fellow Death Company Marines, the Ashen Knights have accepted whatever delusional identities they have assumed in their madness, and thus fight with vile destructive instincts of the bygone station of the Destroyer Squads of old. Favoring heavy weaponry, outfitted with forbidden archotechnology, the Ashen Knights are only deployed in campaigns of extermination and with much secrecy. Not even the Chapter's fellow Blood Angel Successors are aware of these unfettered destroyers, and the Chapter would sooner see them put to the sword than condemn the name of the Scarlet Serpents with their savage conduct.
In spite of their unparalleled ability on the battlefield, the true reason the Ashen Knights are preserved is for the purpose of further understanding the Flaw. For while clearly insane, many Ashen Knights show considerable lucidity and calm. The Scarlet Serpents hope that by understanding the process by which these tainted souls achieve a modicum of sanity they may yet find a cure for the unrelenting Flaw. However, as of late there have been many voices of dissent, the Chapter losing faith in this dream of a cure, and the impure nature of the Ashen Knights wearing on the honor of those few allowed to know of their existence.
- "Alas, these machine hands are not as precise as mine own, but... Perhaps there is some merit to brute force."
- —Brother Thrasamund as he grinds Orks to a bloody pulp under his Siege Drill
A venerable Siege Dreadnought and honored loremaster of the Chapter, Brother Thrasamund has long been the adviser to Chapter Masters past for untold eons. Once the Commandant of the 9th Company, Brother Thrasamund was a hero in his own time, having prosecuted countless successful campaigns before his 'death' on the icy Death World of Vabhastos fighting against the forces of the Everchosen Chaos Space Marine Warband. Mortally wounded, Brother Thrasamund requested to be placed within the hull of a Dreadnought as opposed to passing on to the Emperor's side.
Thusly interred, Brother Thrasamund has become an awe inspiring figure of great legend within the Chapter, striding into battle in his noble heraldry and armed with a mighty Inferno Cannon, Hull-Mounted Storm Bolter, and Siege Drill with integral Heavy Flamer. This mighty, iron clad sage leads his Battle-Brothers forward, using his own mighty form as a shield as they charge enemy fortifications and utilizing his mighty weaponry to smite the foe with flames and biting drill.
- "Blood... Dreaded Blood... Let it rain from the Throne itself."
An ancient monster kept locked away within the Black Vaults deep beneath the Castle Goth and unleashed only when the Chapter has no other recourse, the Ashen Knight known only as Tisiphone is a killing machine the likes of which makes even the greatest of the Scarlet Serpents shudder at the very thought of. Tisiphone's identity before his fall to the Flaw has long been lost, some even say purposefully destroyed, but the beast as he is has been with the Chapter since even the most ancient Dreadnoughts can remember. Possessed of a particular cunning, even in his madness, Tisiphone has far outlived any of his fellow Ashen Knights, clawing his way through even the most suicidal of engagements without fail.
Some Scarlet Serpents consider him a living embodiment of their affliction given form, a sentient stain on their Chapter's legacy that can never be washed away. Killing with abandon with his Volkite Serpenta, Phosphex Hand Flamer, and twin Chainswords, Tisiphone is a monstrous foe, the cold flames of his insane hate scorching the battlefield. But his most terrifying ability is his apparent power to drive other Scarlet Serpents into the waiting jaws of the Flaw, his mere words triggering visions and his gruesome acts often compelling sane Battle-Brothers to madness. Furthermore, Tisiphone seems to have an innate ability to twist and manipulate both his fellow Ashen Knights and Death Company Marines, speaking in tongues which drive them into a killing frenzy the likes of which is all but unparalleled.
- "Hmmm? You seem to misunderstand, Serpent, you say we do not give the curse the respect it deserves but I quite disagree. We embrace our thirst, and in doing so release its stranglehold upon us. You however? Brother? You would try and dam the flood, and in doing so damn yourself. You hold in your rage and hate and play the good sons until you snap, and become beasts so uncontrollable you would slaughter your own brethren. You will all end as that creature you keep locked away in your crypts, have no doubt."
- —Captain Lurio of the Wings of Salvaxes Chapter
- "It does us good to be reminded that all too many of our Brothers suffer from far worse Flaws than our own."
- —Captain Drygo Caid of the Company of Justice, Sons Sanguine