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Bray'arth Ashmantle is an ancient hero of the Salamanders Space Marines Chapter. The armouriums of the Salamanders contain many ancient relics. Some bear proud histories of glory and honour while others are burdened with darker legends. Sokhar Bray’arth, once the Captain of the Salamanders' 4th Company, is the current occupant of the ancient relic Mars Pattern Mark IV Venerable Dreadnought known as the Iron Dragon, fashioned millennia ago by the hands of the revered Salamanders Primarch Vulkan.
The so-called Iron Dragon is a unique Dreadnought chassis, possessing uncommonly heavy armour and built with a one-of-a-kind enhanced reactor system which incorporates thermic generation technologies that are no longer fully understood. It is believed that this particular Dreadnought served as the first prototype of what would later become the Ironclad pattern of Dreadnought. The Iron Dragon itself has seen many dark and terrible wars in its time, as the echoes and horrors of the ages weigh heavily upon it, its Machine Spirit brooding with unquenchable violence.
Considered both a curse and a blessing, only in the most dire of circumstances will a fallen Battle-Brother of the Salamanders be interred within this Ancient's sarcophagus, as only the most highly individualistic, strong-willed and warlike-souls possess the remotest chance to survive during the Dreadnought's activation process. Just how many have perished in the attempt remains unspoken amongst the Salamanders.
The current occupant is Sokhar Bray'arth, the former Captain of the 4th Company. Even before his internment, this merciless warrior had earned a fell reputation as an unforgiving and temperamental commander, the fires of Nocturne burning perhaps too brightly within his soul. Bray'arth rose through the ranks by dint of his martial prowess and unflinching zeal. A veteran of centuries of warfare he grew increasingly fractious, even clashing with the Chapter's then-Master over tactics and doctrine. His name came to carry a shadow as he became increasingly swift to anger, overstepping the bounds of sense and wisdom in the pursuit and destruction of his enemies regardless of the cost in casualties.
Nearly at the end of his strength after over half a millennium of constant warfare, in 755.M41, Bray'arth saw opportunity during the Moons of Ymgarl Campaign to prove his continuing worth to the Chapter. The nightmarish tunnel warfare during that campaign would grant him that chance. Caught in a sudden counterattack in the deep sub-surface tunnels of the Ymgarl Moons, Bray'arth single-handedly held off wave after wave of the deadly Ymgarl Genestealers with his Thunder Hammer. This bought precious time for his company to fight their way free from a potential massacre, though in the process Bray'arth suffered terrible injuries. The decision to inter the mortally wounded Captain within the Iron Dragon was not made lightly, but the lords of the Promethean Cult heeded the dire portents of the future that they had read in Nocturne's deep flames, feeling they had no choice. Bray'arth's strength of will, combined with the dark Machine Spirit of the Dreadnought in which he was now entombed for all eternity made him a very potent warrior on the battlefield. And the Chapter continued to need his strength.
The Salamander's Primarch Vulkan was a master of the forge without peer. He personally carved intricate detailing on the ornately carved and segmented armour plates of the Iron Dragon Dreadnought and symbols of the Promethean Cult of Nocturne. After Captain Bray'arth's internment, the Chapter's Masters of the Forge added a highly detailed bas-relief on the Dreadnought’s shoulder armour of Bray'arth's death duel with the horde of Ymgarl-strain Genestealers. Vulkan had designed two unique arm weapons for this Dreadnought chassis that made use of Dreadfire Close Combat Arms, each of which had an in-built Dreadfire Heavy Flamer that represented the Iron Dragon’s potent and unique armament. The Iron Dragon also contains many defensive systems that others have strived to manufacture but always failed to replicate. The chassis is also fitted with a number of secondary flame projectors as well as its main armament, allowing the ancient Dreadnought to wreathe itself in flame, incinerating anything that strays too close. This is how Bray'arth earned the name "Ashmantle", whilst fighting during the 53-year-long Casvsarae Insurrection against the Black Legion Chaos Space Marines and Abhuman rebels. After pursuing fleeing enemy forces into a sub-city network, the Iron Dragon was thought lost until Bray'arth smashed his way clear of the duct workings nine days after he disappeared, so covered in the soot and cinder-ashes of his dead foes as to obscure every inch of his armoured form.
Bray'arth Ashmantle also took part in the Salamander's involvement in the Badab War, though it was with some reluctance on the part of Captain Pellas Mir'san of the Salamanders 2nd Company (who also served as the Force Commander of the Salamanders' Badab strike force) to wake the Venerable Dreadnought from his slumber. But with his understrength force about to go into combat against the Renegade Space Marines of the Badab conflict Mir'san was in dire need of the revered Ancient's formidable power, which proved itself time and again in that conflict to bloody effect.
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, pp. 171-172
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre (Imperial Armour), pp. 117-118, 252
- Forge World - Space Marine Badab War Characters Update Version 2 (6th Edition)