The Empyrion Crusade was an Imperial Crusade declared by the Black Templars Space Marines against a force of Khornate Chaos Cults on the world of Empyrion IX. The Chaos force is composed of over 4,000 traitors of the renegade Gathalamor 24th Imperial Guard Regiment along with Guryan mutineers and some cavalry. With only a force of just 30 Black Templars and not enough ammunition to hold the Heretics at bay the Black Templars commander, Castellan Athellenas, attempts to put into a motion an audacious plan that requires his troops to follow his orders to the letter, no matter how distasteful they may find them. Athellenas's second, Sergeant Valerian began to question his commander's going against everything the Black Templars believed in. He ordered his men to make a tactical withdrawal, forcing the frenzied Blood God worshipers to advance each time his forces pulls back. By denying them an outlet to satiate their bloodlust, the Heretics are driven into an uncontrollable blood frenzy. Unable to contain themselves any longer the Khornate cultists turn on themselves and begin butchering each other in their all-consuming desire to spill blood. Even their frenzied leader, a Khornate Champion of Chaos called the 'Manskinner', is unable to keep them driving forward against the foe. With the Cultists' ground forces spent after slaughtering each other, two Black Templars Strike Cruiser arrived in the system to destroy the Heretics' vessel and make sure that this particular Chaos warband of Khorne was unable to sow destruction and bloodshed across the Imperium of Man. The Crusade ended in the total eradication of the Heretics.

Words of Bood Coverart

Pict-capture - Castellan Athellenas fighting the 'Manskinner', Empyrion IX

In the battle's aftermath, Sergeant Valerian questioned his commander as to why he didn't explain his plan. Athellenas explained that he did not have to explain his actions. As commander his word was law, for he did not achieve his esteemed rank through chance. Castellan Athellenas had been judged by their Chapter to be the individual whose leadership was most likely to result in victory. His purpose was to lead his men, and their purpose was to follow. If this broke down, then all was lost. Valerian was to do as he was told, and he would not argue, for they were Space Marines. They were Black Templars. Some of the Castellan's men would eventually rise to a position where they, too, would command others from their Chapter. And then they would remember the lesson that they had learned on Empyrion IX. Above everything, above procedure and mercy, and even above the honour that Valerian held so sacred, there was victory. It was only through victory that they would truly honour the Emperor and their fellow man. To fail was the greatest shame. They had retreated in the face of the enemy, but there was no shame in that, for by doing so they had defeated the enemy. The shame belonged to the 'Manskinner', for throwing away his chance of victory by fighting alongside animals, not soldiers.


  • Words of Blood (Anthology) Edited by Marc Gascoigne & Christian Dunn, "Words of Blood" by Ben Counter

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