Imperium of Man (Fidelitas Tenax)
Emerald Green, White & Red
House Vyronii (known officially by their formal title, The Ancient and Resolute Order of the Knight House of Vyronii), also known by their cognomens the Wardens of Felweather and the "Godeaters" (informal, self-referential), is a Secundus Grade Imperial Knight Household that has always valiantly stood amongst the defenders of the Imperium of Mankind for millennia. House Vyronii is counted amongst the most venerable knightly Households of the entire Segmentum, its Knights being famed for their tenacity and their uniquely sorrowful demeanour. Separated from the rest of humanity's domains for millennia, House Vyronii nevertheless stood their ground against xenos incursions and the frightful megafauna of their home planet, Damaetus IIII/II. Severely depleted by the time it was rediscovered by advanced forces of the Great Crusade, House Vyronii joined the Emperor's forces in their conquest of the galaxy and gained much renown on scores of different battlefields. Almost destroyed in the first hours of the Horus Heresy, House Vyronii was saved by the actions of the legendary Gios Jakh, whose warnings roused the Knights of House Vyronii to war and whose leadership would prove paramount in the dark years to follow.
Hailing from the Knight World of Damaetus III/II, House Vyronii was allied to the Imperium in the bitter war against the Traitors of Warmaster Horus. One of the most ancient of Knight Houses in the Segmentum Obscurus, the Vyronii shed so much of their noble blood during the Age of Strife that their numbers and resources were perilously depleted by the closing of the Great Crusade and the outbreak of galactic civil war. Determined not to become mute spectators to their own destiny, the nobles of House Vyronii swore they would stand firm against the arch-Traitor, or else perish.
The nobles of House Vyronii are noted for their uniquely sorrowful mien, a manner born of the knowledge that their ancestors’ five thousand year vigil against the terrors of Old Night might be rendered utterly meaningless or obliterated entirely at the hands of a warrior who was at one time the Emperor’s most beloved son. It is a demeanour bred into the bloodline by the lonely, forlorn moon orbiting a bloated emerald green gas giant the Vyronii call home. Damaetus III/II, found in a star system at the junction of several minor but stable Warp routes, is a world of deep twisted forest and mist-shrouded swamps, above which towers the imposing Felweather Keep, a vast fortress edifice erected from the corpse of their founding colony ark when the planet was settled.
When first discovered, Damaetus III/II was found to harbour a vast array of autochthonic life forms. Its dark forests were populated largely by cephalopod-mammalian hybrid forms, many of prodigious size, lurking in the trackless swamps or nested in the hollow boughs of colossal yet rotting trees, some of which were possessed of a malevolent, alien intelligence. These most malign creatures were capable of communication and demanded obeisance from the newcomers, like hungering chthonic deities from Mankind's forgotten pre-history, just as they had from other races and travellers that had happened upon their world before and now whose mutilated remains were sunk beneath the loam. The Knight-colonies were of a different power and temper though, and an age of war ensued, the settlers drawing upon the STC system at the heart of Felweather Keep to battle the hideous creatures that would feast upon them. When battle was joined, the swamp seas boiled and the vine-wrapped forests burned black as the two sides fought, the emerald skies turning to a night that lingered for decades until, at length, the god-things were cast down or driven into the most remote depths of the trackless wastes to become the object of noble quests by Knights yet unborn. Thus did the Knights of the Vyronii become quite literal God-slayers, the carcass of the vanquished god-beast being then served at a banquet of epic proportions (as some legends would have it.)
By then, Mankind's golden age was at an end and an era of damnation was upon the galaxy. Thoughout the long darkness of Old Night, the Knights of Damaetus stood firm against countless invasions, many by species not encountered since and which must remain nameless, other by infamously familiar enemies such as the piratical slaver-caste of the Dark Eldar and brutal Orkoid marauders. One strain of xenos in particular turned its gaze upon the Damaetus system with deadly consequence -- the Mitu Conglomerate, under whose long shadow vast swathes of the Coronid Deeps had already fallen.
For many lonely centuries, the Knights of Damaetus stood resolute against the hated Mitu. Through they cared not for conventional invasion as such, their periodic attentions brought unspeakable destruction, and when a fresh wave of alien horror descended from the emerald skies, the noble keeps built across the surface of Damaetus III/II were reduced to ruin and ashes, and soon even the mighty Felweather Keep was itself irrevocably wounded and riven. Still the Vyronii stood at the edge of the precipice, resigned to their inevitable doom, they renewed their oaths and took their places to await the attack all thought would finish them; in what they had every reason to believe was the death vigil of humanity itself.
But the doom of the Vyronii never came. There was nothing but silence in the heavens until, at length, a new star appeared in the firmament. An unfamiliar contrail speared downwards to the surface of Damaetus III/II and the craft set down amidst the forests, having blasted a landing zone clear of the dense undergrowth. The Knights of House Vyronii strode out to meet it, suspicious but ready to sell their lives dearly should the end be revealed. It was however not to be, for the craft was a Stormbird of the Ist Legion, the Dark Angels, and represented an outrider of the Great Crusade in the region, which was now piercing deeper into the surrounding void having scoured the stars of the xenos Mitu Conglomerate. Had providence afforded them the luxury, the masters of the Vyronii might have considered themselves betrayed by cruel fate, denied both the glory of a last stand against and the vindication of victory over their ancient foe. The enemy they and generations of their forebears had shed so much blood simply to hold at bay was gone, exterminated with almost contemptuous ease as the Imperium swept through the Segmentum Obscurus. But instead, the Vyronii were carried up in the fire and fury of the Great Crusade, bound to a debt of liberation they believed they could never repay.
The Vyronii took their place amongst the great hosts of Mankind, adhering to the established chains of command, albeit never fully committing themselves to the ambitions and intrigues that came with them, and always maintaining a respectful and honourable distance born of countless years of isolation. They served alongside the Dark Angels Legion that had found them, then later with the Word Bearers and the Imperial Fists Legions in turn, as well as a dozen Excertus Imperialis commands. They gained great honour and the respect of their peers, if a reputation for melancholy and withdrawn reserve. Beneath the harsh lights of alien suns, the nobles of the House saw their armour for the dull ceramite it truly was, not the shining emerald green it had appeared under the reflected light of the lambent gas giant about with their home world slowly spun. So it was that crusading scions ordered their Sacristans to apply emerald green heraldry to their armours in memory of their home, a livery that soon became established as theirs sole by the Officio Militaris College of Arms as the Great Crusade ground inexorably onwards.
A period of assimilation and rebuilding began whilst the bulk of the Household was away fighting amidst the stars, during which delegation after delegation came before Grand Master Jahk of the Vyronii and his Court. The visitors' shock at the decrepit state of holdings was impossible to conceal as envoys came from the nearby domains of the Mechanicum, including Mezoa and the recently established Cyclothrathine Holdfast, as well as from Forge Worlds much more distant and illustrious such as Lucius. All desired that the House swear themselves as feudal subjects, and in return offered to replace the ancient and oft-repaired Knight armours with newly-minted war machines of more advanced and potent classes. These would-be benefactors desired more than service though, for they coveted the ancient crystal data-stacks buried beneath Felweather Keep. Scornful of the undisguised avarice of some and the strange dogma of others, Jahk sent the envoys away from his Court on the pretext of pondering their many solicitations. Even as the Grand Master considered his House's future, those nobles serving in the armies of the Great Crusade were winning untold glories across the stars. Serving across five different Expeditionary fleets in the closing decades of the Great Crusade alone, the Crusading Knights of House Vyronii fought with distinction in the costly Orthrus Extermination, the Kusarikku Nebula Suppression and the Calistaria Compliance campaign, word of each victory bolstering Jahk's position with regards to the pacts he must eventually enter into with the greater Mechanicum, whose emissaries still pressed for an audience many years now since they had first appeared. The wars fought out amongst the stars, however, garnered not just honour, but an ever more pressing need to replace those Knight armours lost in battle.
The point of decision eventually arrived, and Jahk determined that to survive, his House must finally align itself to a Forge World. Expediency determined his choice and he settled with Cyclothrathe, whose offers of materiel aid had been by far the most generous of those received. Little did the Vyronii nobles know that the hour they had picked for such an allegiance was an ill-chosen one, for it was the year 005.M31 and unknown to them, already events were unfolding at Istvaan III that would plunge the Imperium into civil war.
The act of bonding between Knight World and Forge World was to take place on Damaetus III/II, before the crumbling and vine-swathed Felweather Keep. Those scions assigned to the Great Crusade who could be contacted had been recalled, and mustering in the landing zone first blasted by the 1st Legion's Stormbird years before, almost the entire Household awaited the coming of one of the High Magos of Cyclothrathe and his honour guard of House Ærthegn Knights. An hour before the appointed time, a lander plummeted from the skied belching flames and boiling black smoke from a blasted thruster. It bore the crowned skull emblem of the Vyronii, and before its engines had even cycled down, its access ramp lowered on stuttering hydraulics and a lone, limping figure emerged. The assembled nobles recognised the figure immediately, for it was Gios, eldest son of Grand Master Jahk. Gios limped across the landing zone and fell to his knees before his father's Cerastus Lancer, one world on his bloody lips -- "Betrayal". Thus was House Vyronii unknowingly plunged into the fires of Horus's rebellion. The delegation from Cyclothrathe was not an emissary bearing gifts but a strike force, loyal not to Mars but the Warmaster, and if not for the desperate bravery of Gios, its surprise attack might have been overwhelming and unstoppable. Instead, now the Vyronii were roused to war. The battle that followed was brief, but amongst the most destructive and desperate ever fought by the Knights of Damaetus. It saw the death of the old Grand Master at the hands of a murderous storm-grey Cyclothrathine Knight Aucteller. In the end, the Tagmatha landing force was driven off, but at a terrible cost, with nearly a quarter of the Vyronii fighting force shattered and broken.
In the aftermath of his father's ignominious death, it would fall to the wounded Gios to lead House Vyronii, an oath he swore in addition to exact bitter vengeance upon his father's killer. But alone, the Vyronii had no chance to strike back against a sovereign Forge World, and when news of the attack reached Imperial authorities, it was met with spurious counter-claim, forestalling action, while the rising tide of fear and war soon drowned out the Vyronii's call for justice in an affair which to many seemed a bloody squabble between equally eccentric and partisan forces. Only on the Forge World of Mezoa did they find their outrage echoed and answered, and where an alliance with Cyclothrathe had been betrayed, a similar pact with Mezoa was hastily agreed in need and the thirst for vengeance, although the Vyronii would not give up their independence in formal submission, even when faced with the very real threat of destruction. When the war came in earnest to the Cyclops Cluster, for the Vyronii the lines had already been drawn in blood long before. To the Emperor they owed a debt that could never be repaid; even though every life they had was laid down to meet it and His enemies were those of the Vyronii no matter the odds. That the hated Magos of Cyclothrathe would soon openly declare for the Warmaster would only confirm to the Vyronii that theirs was the just cause, and the Knights of House Vyronii stood bloodied but resolute amongst the ranks of the Loyalists.
- The Battle of Hive Ilium (008.M31) Caught on Manachea when the Warmaster’s invasion was launched, a handful of House Vyronii Knights Lancers stood valiantly by the side of the loyalists defenders as the Sons of Horus descended upon the planet. Although ultimately defeated, the valiant Knights succeeded in ambushing traitor elements of the Legio Tempestus, most notoriously slaying the Reaver-class Titan Raxvalian at the ambush of Block Fortress 77-4.
Notable House Vyronii KnightsEdit
- Dei-phagia - Questoris Knight Magaera of Grand Master Gios. Contrary to his father who by tradition piloted a Cerastus-pattern Knight Lancer, the severe wounds Gios had suffered lead to a break with the ancestral traditions of his House. Dei-phagia was a gift from the Mezoan Mechanicum to their new allies of House Vyronii. It is an artificer-wrought Magaera-pattern Questoris Knight whose life support systems are far more powerful and sophisticated than those of the standard armour. In fact, Dei-phagia is more akin to a Dreadnought of the Legiones Astartes than a typical Knight armour, with Grand Master Gios interred in his Throne Mechanicum like a fallen hero of the Astartes within the sarcophagus of a Dreadnought. Virtually immortal once he was interred in Dei-phagia, Grand Master Gios would fight on for decades. The armour was named in honour of House Vyronii’s ancestral war against the god-beast of their homeworld by the Magos of Mezoa prior to its delivery to Grand Master Gios.
- Artemisia - Questoris Knight Paladin of Chancellour Jasstan. Artemisia fought beside the 1233rd Solar Auxilia on the twelfth moon of Sagathi X before being recalled to Manachea prior to the Sons of Horus’ invasion. Artemisia was destroyed in the defence of Hive Ullan.
- Apsinthos - Cerastus Knight-Lancer of Scion Elsbeth Vorr. As with all the machines of House Vyronii, Apsinthos is a very old armour, a veteran of the Age of Strife and the Great Crusade. Bonded with Elsbeth Vorr for several decades, it has had both the honour of entering the closed circle of the “God killers”, those Knights having slain one of the autochthonic god-beasts of Damaetus III/II, and one amongst the selective few Knights to have been credited with the destruction of a Titan. Sadly, Apsinthos was lost at the hour of its victory against the traitor Reaver Titan Raxvalian.
Notable House Vyronii PersonnelEdit
- Grand Master Jahk - The venerable Grand Master Jahk was the ruler of House Vyronii during its reunification with the Imperium and the closing decades of the Great Crusade. He was a figure of controversy within his House, having gained much respect for his clairvoyant leadership and his steadfastness dring House Vyronii's long vigil; even staying on their home world of Damaetus to secure his House’s future rather than seek glory amongst the stars. Obviously disgusted by the avarice of the divers Mechanicum envoys, Grand Master Jahk proved a consummate politician, postponing the vital question of the House’s alignment until its reputation had considerably grown, therefore ensuring House Vyronii’s independence. However his obstinacy on the path he had chosen would leave House Vyronii vulnerable at the dawn of the Age of Heresy, the House having still not properly bonded with a Forge World, and thus ensured its resupply when the Warmaster’s shadow fell on the Cyclops Cluster. Grand Master Jahk died honourably in what was to be dubbed “The Battle of First Landing” against traitor Mechanicum forces of Cyclothrathe, which had hoped to ambush the assembled Vyronii Knights and wipe them out.
- Grand Master Gios - Eldest son of Grand Master Jahk, Hero of the Great Crusade and supreme leader of House Vyronii during the Horus Heresy, Grand Master Gios was counted amongst the most lauded rulers of House Vyronii. Through his determination and valiant actions were the Vyronii warned of the impeding attack of the Cyclothrathine Mechanicum on Dameatus III/II which led to “The Battle of First Landing”. Following in his father footsteps, the mortally-wounded Gios would eventually have to be sealed in his artificer-wrought Questoris Knight Magaera, the Dei-phagia, which would keep him alive for many years. Determined to avenge his father’s demise and exact vengeance on the traitorous Mechanicum of Cyclothrathe, Gios would prove both a competent and brave leader through the dark years of the Horus Heresy.
- Chancellor Jaastan "the Thrice-Slain" - The scion in command of the venerable Questoris Knight-Paladin Artemisia, Jastaan was a famed figure of House Vyronii. Amongst the most experienced Knights of his House, Jaastan was grieviously wounded not one or even two, but three times in the name of the Vyronii and the Emperor. Each time the seasoned warrior would live to take to the battlefield again, until he finally fell on Manachea in defence of Hive Ullan. His wisdom and experience had made him one of the most important members of Grand Master Jahk's Court, and his advice was seldom ignored.
- Elsbeth Vorr - Elsbeth Vorr is an exceptional figure amongst the Knights of the Vyronii, firstly because she is one of the few women in command of a Knight armour. Her reputation was, however, not solely built on her gender. Elsbeth Vorr is one of the few Knight known to have slain one of the dreaded god-like creature of Damaetus III/II during the 30st millennium, slaying the mighty beast on the lance of her Cerastus Knight Lancer Apsinthos after resisting its terrible psionic powers. Her formidable strength of will would continue to serve her well in the years of battle she knew amongst the forces of the Great Crusade. Her promising career ended tragically in a last charge against the Reaver Battle Titan Raxvalian of the traitor element of Legio Tempestus, which she destroyed on Manachea. Her ultimate fate is unknown, but it is widely believed that her mortal remains and the carcass of her Knight armour still lie entombed in the rubble of the shattered Hive City of Ilium.
At the time of the coming of the Warmaster to the Coronid Deeps, House Vyronii was grievously understrength. Its numbers stood as just below 100 operational Knight armours, predominantly of the Cerastus and Questoris classes. This would place House Vyronii in the lower segmentum of Secundus Grade Knight Households. As a consequence of the former Grand Master’s reluctance to forge bonds with the Mechanicum, few of its ancient armours had been replaced and almost everyone was a relic of the Dark Age of Technology and a veteran of the wars of the Age of Strife, repaired and rebuilt countless times. As such the Machine Spirits residing within each was possessed of a singular anima, at once bellicose and brooding, and this demeanour was inevitably transmitted to the scion pilots via their integration with the Thrones Mechanicum. Only later, in the aftermath of the vicious attack by the Cyclothrathe Mechanicum and its consequent pact with the Forge World of Mezoa, did House Vyronii received limited re-armament. In particular Grand Master Gios, who was mortally wounded in his brave mission to bring news of the Warmaster’s betrayal to his father ahead of the treacherous Cyclothrathe Taghmata host, was gifted by the Magos of Mezoa with a precious Questoris Knight Magaera, dubbed Dei-phagia in reference to the Knight House’s extermination of the autochthonic god-things of Damaetus III/II. The armour’s artificer-wrought systems not only saved his live, but rendered him all but immortal in a manner not unlike a hero of the Legiones Astartes interred within the sarcophagus of a Dreadnought.
At time of the Warmaster's march on the Coronid Deeps, the bulk of the House’s scions were concentrated once more on Damaetus III/II, with a handful of other Households serving in far distant Expeditionary fleets. This included those House Vyronii Knights which were known to be fighting at the Siege of Sebundapor alongside a chapter of the Blood Angels on Feron III, while contact with those Knights serving with the Death Eagles Millenial of the Emperor’s Children was lost around the time of the Istvaan III Atrocity, and it would be many years until it was re-established. As war gripped the Coronid Deeps, the Vyronii would not shirk their duty as exposed as the Damaetus System was, deploying Households to bolster Imperial Force concentration on Lascal, Manachea and Port Maw, while at least one battle group is known to have been trapped behind the closing blockade of Mezoa before the reaper’s shadow fell across the Cyclops Cluster. Of the remaining scions of the Vyronii, perhaps no more than 50 in number, each stood to defend their home world with the resolution born of generations of such dark watches against the horrors of the night, against the doom which came for it across the blackness of space.
Throughout the Age of Strife, the Knight armours of House Vyronii were uniformly cream, the natural green glow of the gas giant of Damaetus II giving their armours the emerald green sheen they would later adapt as their House’s official colour. It would only be after its integration within the armed forces of the Imperium and the subsequent expeditions under distant stars that this lack of adornment would be noticed by the Scions themselves. As of 891.M30, the emerald green and white livery of House Vyronii was officially recognised by the Officio Militaris College of Arms, and by 904.M31 it had been ratified as their sole privilege. Beside these primary colours, the nobles of Damaetus III/II favour red or gueules as a secondary colour, symbolising the blood they have shed in the defence of their home world and its people.
House Vyronii's chosen emblem is a crowned white skull on a field of emerald green born upon two crossed white lightning bolts. When fielded as a blazon, the heraldry includes the avian wings of an Imperium-aligned Knight House as supporters.
House Personal HeraldryEdit
Perhaps in contrary to other Imperial Knights Houses of the Segmentum Obscurus Extremis, such as House Orhlacc or House Makabius, House Vyronii favours a colourful and complex heraldry which incorporates countless honour badges. Some of these honour badges are more common, whilst others are only the privilege of a select few. These honour badges can take on both the aspects of pictographic emblems, as well as more abstract forms such as bands of secondary colours or other motifs to denote rank, accomplishments or vows taken prior to battle. Most notoriously, House Vyronii reveres their century-old Knight armours over the identity of its pilot; which explains why the Vyronii do not favour runes or the names of their pilots adorning their Knight’s armour. As such, the deeds of the pilot are usually borne on honorary banners or the shoulder-borne tilting shield, which is easily replaced. As a result, they can vary greatly from one Knight to another. As an esteemed badge of long services, the armour itself may harbour a campaign badge or the revered emblem of the Imperialis on its armoured cowl.
Perhaps most common is the fortified tower icon, usually rendered in white. This honour badge proclaims that the Knight has partaken in the defence of House Vyronii's ancestral domain, the Felweather Keep. Amongst the Knights having endured a particular challenging hardship, it was common to wear a raguly bend sinister, a jagged diagonal band to commemorate the deed and the triumph over a particularly challenging foe. Elsbet Vorr bore the raguly bend after her victory over the god-beast she slew.
Ranks such that of the Chancellor were denoted by the chequered red and white livery borne on the shoulder armour as it is still in use amongst numerous Knight Houses. This was the case for Chancellor Jasstan who also bore three diagonal red bands to commemorate the three grievous wounds he was dealt, as well as the three sword he adopted as "The Thrice-Slain". As it was demanded by tradition, the colour scheme on honour banners are always inverted from its depiction on the shoulder-mounted shield, creating a colourful mix of red, white and green which constitute the typical appearance of a House Vyronii Knight.
- The Horus Heresy - Book Four: Conquest pp. 52-53, 114-121