|This article, Knights of Laeran, was written by Brentticorn. Please do not edit or 'acquire' this fiction without the writer's permission.|
The Knights of Laeran are a Chaos Warband devoted to Slaanesh, derived primarily from the Emperor's Children. They are particularly infamous for their tendency to infiltrate, fortify, and corrupt Imperial pleasure worlds, rather than the raiding and pillaging typical of Slaanesh worshipers. However, having recently claimed the world of Laeran as their own, they have since shifted their focus to defending this world from their arch rivals, the Knights Celestial and House Blackstone, as well as repaying the various debts they took on in order to claim it.
The original founders of the Knights of Laeran were proud members of the Third Legion, the Emperor's Children, during the Great Crusade. While they served in different capacities in their pre-Heresy days and thus can't really be summed up easily during that period, these founders all had two things in common--they were all present on Laeran at some point during the infamous Cleansing of Laeran, and they all continued to hold their belief in Fulgrim's pre-Heresy ideals of elevating all of humanity to perfection (albeit a warped, Slaaneshi interpretation of it.) Gaius, who would later become the undisputed (or at least rarely disputed) leader of the Knights of Laeran, was actually a mere Lieutenant during the Great Crusade--and not a well regarded one at that. He was notorious for questioning his Captain's orders whenever those orders put the glory of the Third Legion ahead of the overall good of the Imperium. For example in one particular instance, he directly disobeyed his Captain by lending aid and resupply to an entrench company of Space Wolves led by Captain Sven Frostfang rather than accompany his Captain in claiming victory solely for the Emperor's Children. While this directly defied orders, it also undeniably saved dozens of lives for both Legions. For this, Lieutenant Gaius was often punished by being relegated to overseeing the rebuilding of infrastructure for conquered territories rather than serving on the front lines.
Shortly after the Battle of Skalathrax that saw the World Eaters and Emperor's Children Legions shattered, a mysterious, unidentified figure known only as the "Silver Knight of Slaanesh" gathered some of the most mentally stable members of the Emperor's Children and gave them a single directive, ordered by Slaanesh herself: "Restore the lost glory of the Laer." For millennia, this was interpreted as a call to conquer and establish a world in Laeran's image, a self-sustaining Slaanesh-worshiping utopia. They would travel throughout the galaxy seeking out Imperial pleasure worlds to infiltrate, fortify, and corrupt to the worship of Slaanesh. These worlds would inevitably be discovered by the Imperium, however, and the Knights of Laeran would be forced to retreat--albeit with ships filled with new recruits and anything else of value they were able to claim, allowing them to gradually grow in strength.
Rediscovery of Laeran
All of that changed when what was originally a half-hearted attempt to get the Pentagonal Alliance to owe them a favor by sowing discord on the shrine world of Airtha revealed a startling discovery--Airtha was, in fact, the supposedly lost world of Laeran. What was once believed to be a metaphorical calling by their god's greatest champion was suddenly revealed to be a direct, literal order from Slaanesh herself, and one the Knights of Laeran were all too thrilled to obey. Without a second thought, the Knights of Laeran called in every favor they had ever collected, struck every bargain they could, pulled every string they could reach, and poured every resource they had into what became known as the Airtha Crusade, a conflict against the Knights Celestial and House Blackstone that lasted for millennia. With the sudden appearance of the Cicatrix Maledictum, however, Airtha was plunged into the newly formed Great Rift, enveloped in the energies of the Warp, and transformed into a daemon world, rendering it all but impossible for anyone other than servants of the Ruinous Powers to claim it.
Having successfully claimed Laeran, the Knights of Laeran spend the majority of their time reaping the rewards of their efforts, indulging themselves on their dream planet. However, the looming specter of rivals both loyal and heretical coming to claim what is rightfully theirs is ever present, and so they are denied the opportunity to fully lose themselves in order to remain vigilant, ready to fend off any who would claim Laeran. Beyond that, they only venture beyond their planet to either hunt down particularly hated foes or repay the many, many debts they incurred during the Airtha Crusade.
- The Airtha Crusades (650.M34-999.M41) - The Knights of Laeran have been in a state of near-constant conflict with the Knights Celestial and House Blackstone for control of a planet the Imperium of Man calls Airtha. Stricken from Imperial records in the aftermath of the Horus Heresy, this world was once known as Laeran, and was where Fulgrim first took up the infamous Laer Blade that would eventually lead to his corruption by the Chaos God Slaanesh. While the world has changed hands multiple times throughout the millennia, since the formation of the Cicatrix Maledictum, it has since been plunged into the Rift and become a Daemon World. Currently, Prince Gaius rules this world in Slaanesh's name, using his mastery over the world both to recreate a human version of the lost Laer society and to keep the planet safe from Imperial invaders... for the crusade isn't truly over, and the Knights Celestial and House Blackstone continue to look for ways to reclaim Airtha, despite the new seemingly insurmountable difficulties.
(The following section is part of the Skaventide Alternate Universe)
- The Gonara Breach Incident (002.M42) - Seeking to destroy a common foe, the Knights of Laeran disguised themselves as loyalists and heeded the call by Inquisitor Xandrian when the Gonara system was attacked by the Skaven. Unfortunately, their involvement directly lead to the campaign's failure. When their true identities were discovered, the Drakken Harbingers and Dorn's Crusaders ignored the Skaven and attacked the Knights of Laeran, forcing the Knights Celestial and Sun Serpents to protect them. While the Imperial forces fought amongst themselves, the Knights of Laeran summoned the Children of Madness and the Blood Tamers to assist them, and together they at least managed to destroy the Skaven superweapon, the Screaming Fortress, before the Skaven's ultimate victory in the system.
(end of AU portion)
- The Cacophony (142.M42) - A wildly successful ambush against the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 8th Companies of the Ordinators aboard the Battle Barge Paladin and Strike Cruisers Herald of the Sacred Wrath and Purifier as well as two escort Gladius-class Frigates - Victory of Light and To Justice Due - lead to the deaths of nearly a third of the entire Ordinators chapter. All but one of their ships were either grievously crippled and effectively destroyed or outright explode from massive plasma reactor detonations under a withering hail of lance fire and aggressive Knights of Laeran Terminator boarding sabotage teams at the cost of very few destroyed Laeran ships. Only Centurio Ulixes aboard the Purifier manages to escape after Centurio Brutus, the Master of the Fleet, orders an emergency disengagement. Less than one year later, the Stolos Omega fleet of Forge World Ferunus arrives and fights off the still-looting Knights of Laeran and rescue the ship hulks with colossal recovery ships - along with hundreds of Brother-Initiate bodies. Despite being eventually driven off by the Mechanicus fleet, the amount of Ordinators equipment and geneseed the Knights of Laeran were able to loot beforehand make this battle one of the more profitable endeavors they have ever embarked on.
The Knights of Laeran are a bit of an oddity among Emperor's Children warbands in that they actually practice a modicum of personal restraint and consideration for the long term consequences of their actions. While they aren't morally opposed to a good round of raiding and pillaging and torturing innocent people necessarily, they actually take the time to make sure that indulging something in the present doesn't prevent them from doing so again in the future. While they refuse to outright deny any vice entirely, the Knights of Laeran practice just enough moderation to ensure that indulging those vices is reasonably sustainable.
On their homeworld, the Knights of Laeran enforce one and only one law: "Do not hinder another's pursuit of pleasure while seeking your own, for doing so halves Slaanesh's praise." To this end, they seek out cultists who are willing to endure whatever it is their members wish to do, and avoid indulging their vices on unwilling victims (unless those victims are overtly enemies.) With a population entirely devoted to Slaanesh, this is easier to achieve than one might usually expect.
Unlike many Chaos warbands, the Knights of Laeran don't actually particularly care either way about the fate of the Imperium, at least beyond their tendency to get in the way. While they still look down upon the worshipers of the False Emperor, the closest thing the hostility the Knights of Laeran typically feel towards them is a mixture of sympathy and a desire to guide them onto the Sixfold Path.
Warband Home World
After the Horus Heresy, the Knights of Laeran were tasked by the so-called "Silver Knight of Slaanesh" to "restore the lost glory of the Laer." Initially they believed this meant creating a new world in Laeran's image, a self-sustaining, functional society devoted to Slaanesh. However, they eventually discovered that the shrine world of Airtha was in fact Laeran, and that the Emperor's Children's destruction of the world during the Great Crusade wasn't as thorough as previously believed. Though the so-called Airtha Crusade lasted for millennia, eventually the Knights of Laeran were able to secure it once it was enveloped by the Cicatrix Maledictum and transformed into a Daemon World. Upon claiming the planet once and for all for Slaanesh, Lord Gaius was granted the gift of Daemonhood and rulership of the world.
Laeran now exists entirely by Prince Gaius's whim, which he has used to shape the planet into the "perfect world" he has sought to create since the days when he served the Emperor. The planet was once entirely oceanic, but Gaius created large islands for the human population, and either expands them or creates more as needed. Mindbogglingly delicious fruit grows from trees that sustain themselves on the pleasure experienced by the planet's inhabitants, housing and facilities spring into existence the moment their ruler desires them to, and all that live there may do whatever they wish... so long as they don't despoil the indulgent harmony of the world and displease their Prince. Labor is performed by a mixture of prisoners, slaves, and occasional volunteers who have had the pleasure centers of their brains rewired to trigger upon completion of specific tasks. It certainly isn't a mass production powerhouse by any stretch of the imagination, but the equipment they do produce are of the finest quality, the absolute pinnacle of both aesthetics and function.
Most males on the world are taken and tested for geneseed compatibility, so the majority of the planet's civilian population is female, though enough geneseed-compatible males are cloned and reintroduced into the population to sustain population growth. This isn't necessarily enough on its own, as the sadomasochistic tendencies of the Slaanesh-worshipping population result in a death rate that nearly rivals worlds controlled by Khorne worshippers, despite a strictly enforced ban on non-consensual murder. To help remedy this, the most genetically desirable women are often gifted with surgical enhancements, through techniques taught to them by Fabius Bile at a steep cost, that convert pain into pleasure and are encouraged to reproduce as much as possible to keep numbers up.
While the human population indulges themselves and produces elaborate equipment for their Astartes masters, the Astartes themselves reside almost entirely in aquatic bases at the bottom of Laeran's vast oceans. Each military base is located directly under an otherwise untouched Airthan floating temple to the Emperor, using these Imperial holy sites as hostages to discourage planetary bombardment. These shrines and temples are also surrounded by massive anti-orbital defense weaponry, with any ammunition the weapons require located directly beneath them, both protecting their ammunition stores from sabotage and allowing them to swiftly destroy these holy sites if needed. The primary stronghold of the Knights of Laeran is located directly beneath the waters that the ancestral fortress and home of House Blackstone float upon. Fort Blackstone is the only portion of the original Airthan constructs that the Slaaneshis are allowed to touch, and only because it serves as a residence for Lady Ursula Blackstone and her vassals.
Easily the most important strategic location on Laeran is a massive fortified structure known as the "Gellar Vault." This building is under a perpetual, high-power Gellar Field, and is used to store anything that would be rendered useless with exposure to Warp energies--namely food, water, and usable geneseed.
Recently, Captain Iulianus Tempestari of the Angels of Calth invaded Laeran with his Dark Company, posing the first genuine threat to Gaius's control of Laeran he has ever faced since his apotheosis. Fortunately for him, Prince Larsakh, a Daemon Prince of Khorne and the leader of the Promise of War Unending, was also present and able to assist his Knights of Laeran allies. However, in the process of doing so he inadvertently created a portion of the world corrupted by Khornate energies that Gaius has no ability to influence. Hypothetically, if he ever wanted to, Larsakh could invade Laeran from this spot and bypass the vast majority of Laeran's defenses. The Promise of War Unending is too small of a warband to be able to defeat the Knights of Laeran in an open battle, but their superior combat skill combined with this ability to strike without warning at the heart of the entire world's infrastructure ensures that such a conflict would guarantee the destruction of both warbands. Ironically, this mutually assured destruction has served to strengthen the bond between the two warbands and cause them to trust each other completely--after all, they both know that neither would survive betraying one another, and so their self-interests are perpetually aligned.
On the surface, the Knights of Laeran appear to be fairly organized, with Prince Gaius delegating the responsibilities of managing his forces to a council known as the Six Masters, each with distinct specialties and responsibilities. Below that, however, the structure becomes much more flexible, with Gaius allowing his subordinates to conduct their duties as they see fit. While Gaius doesn't allow subordinates to claim the title of Master through backstabbing their superiors, whether or not other positions of power below that permit such practices varies entirely on the whim of the Master leading that particular branch of the warband. The only structure Gaius demands of the Six Masters is that they have a squad of Noise Marine bodyguards protecting them, composed of Marines hand picked by him specifically.
Prince Gaius the Glorious
While the entire warband answers to Gaius, the Daemon Prince delegates most of the specifics to his trusted Six Masters. All Sorcerers within the Warband are outside of this structure, however, and answer only to Gaius himself. Unlike many warband leaders, Gaius does not keep a personal guard, instead assigning that honor to the bodyguards of whichever of the Six Masters he is leaving on the sidelines in a given conflict. In this way, he ensures that those who protect the Six Masters are loyal to him above those Masters, should any of them get any ideas.
Exalted Champion Augustan, Master of the Exalted
Augustan is a consummate duelist, preferring to fight independently rather than as part of a coherent force, but unlike Lucius the Eternal he knows how to balance this with the needs of the warband at large. This makes him perfectly suited to leading those among the Knights of Laeran whose Slaaneshi corruption manifests as egomania and a complete lack of impulse control--in other words, those Prince Gaius deems expendable, and has no qualms about sending into near-suicidal parts of the battlefield. This portion of the warband is technically considered the "highest", though only to play to the vanity of those transferred to it and stifle their objections. In practice they have no more authority than anyone else, however. The composition of Augustan's force therefore fluctuates frequently, though more often than not is will be composed mostly of Cultists, as well as those Noise Marines that forgo most of their trademark sonic weaponry in favor of the cacophony of close combat.
Lord Marius, Master of Tactics
The most mentally stable of the Knights of Laeran, Marius highly prioritizes the success of the mission over personal aggrandizement. While this has caused some to question his devotion to Slaanesh, Marius's corruption simply manifests in a compulsive need to plan and coordinate the perfect strategy, much as Gaius's manifests as needing to create the perfect society. Those who let their ambitions ruin his carefully orchestrated strategies run the risk of being dismembered by him if he can reach them before they are transferred to Augustan's command. While every Master has at least some Noise Marines under their command as personal guards, Marius commands the vast majority of them, along with the warband's Terminators, Chosen, Bikers, Raptors, Havocs, and other non-mechanized elements that are considered "typical" of both loyalist and heretic Astartes forces.
Dark Apostle Faustus, Master of Devotion
Faustus is the most skilled Diabolist of the Knights of Laeran. While he has his Noise Marine bodyguards like the rest of the Six Masters, Faustus rarely uses them as anything more than personal protection. Instead, he focuses on directly channeling the will of the Dark Prince by summoning, binding, and commanding the Neverborn, guiding the Possessed, and wrangling any unfortunate saps who devolve into Chaos Spawn. In particular, he keeps a collection of various Keepers of Secrets bound to him, who in turn have their own Daemon hordes they can summon at a moment's notice. Because of his mastery of daemonology, when a mission calls for infiltration, subtle corruption, or the surprise appearance of a Daemonic force, it will almost always be Faustus's responsibility. Technically Faustus also commands those among the Knights of Laeran whose mutations are impossible to hide under their power armor, but in practice he only leads them outside of combat, having them assist him in his sermons, devotional performances, and concerts. In wartime, however, such mutations are a significant hindrance to his usual infiltration work, so he generally lends these forces to Marius or Augustan. With the position of "Master of Renegades" being recently dissolved, Faustus has also taken responsibility for coordinating and disciplining those descended from non-Emperor's Children Legions who fight under Laeran's banner, as he is the one most likely to have converted them in the first place.
Warpsmith Octavian, Master of Machines
On the surface Octavian appears to be the least sociable of all the Knights of Laeran, and one would be forgiven for forgetting that he is a Son of Fulgrim. However, only his lieutenant, a Hellwright who has replaced his name with a binary code, is more skilled in dealing with Chaos-tainted Machine Spirits. The only reason said Hellwright does not outrank Octavian is simply because he has no desire to deal with the politics of those who are so tightly bound to their flesh. Octavian, however, is a master of revealing as little of his desires as possible while ensuring the entire warband utterly depends on his war machines, making him unofficially one of the most influential of the Six Masters, at least in practice. The armory of the Knights of Laeran may not be as extensive as those of an Iron Warriors warband, but what they do have is lovingly cared for with a degree of obsession only found among the servants of Slaanesh. In particular, the Knights of Laeran are known for fielding a large number of Sonic Dreadnaughts, piloted by the former Lords of any Slaaneshi warbands the Knights of Laeran are forced to absorb through force rather than work with diplomatically. They also have a fair number of various Daemon Engines such as Heldrakes, Maulerfiends, and Defilers, and conventional vehicles like Rhinos, Predators, and Land Raiders. In addition to their armor pool, Octavian is also tasked with designing the extensive fortifications the Knights of Laeran put in place when conquering a new world, a skill he has mastered after centuries of studying under various sons of Perturabo before returning to his Emperor's Children brothers.
Lord Marcellus, Master of the Fleet
A position once dissolved when the Knights of Laeran claimed their own planet and were no longer a fleet-based warband, the appearance of an unexpected foe in recent times found the Knights of Laeran fleet once again doing more than merely protecting their world from crusades from the Knights Celestial. This, combined with the former Master of Renegades drastically losing favor with Prince Gaius, lead to the restoration of the position of Master of the Fleet, and the former holder of that title being dragged out of retirement. During this brief retirement Marcellus had somehow managed to indulge his gluttony to such a degree that even his Astartes physiology was unable to prevent him from becoming nearly so fat and bloated that one might initially mistake him for a member of the Death Guard, but this physical decline has in no way hindered his consummate skill in void warfare.
Lord Atius, Master of Mortals
Lord Atius is somewhat looked down upon by the rest of the Knights of Laeran, but quietly held in the greatest esteem by Prince Gaius himself, for Atius is tasked with managing the unaugmented humans and mutants that serve as the backbone of the Knights of Laeran. It is he that determines who should ascend to the ranks of the Heretic Astartes, who among the females show enough promise to mother the next generation of mortal servants and potential recruits, and whether or not someone has let their devotion to Slaanesh erode their competence and should be "promoted" to Augustan's Exalted. While he is technically in command of his branch of the warband, Atius's talents lie in human psychology and resource management rather than battlefield tactics, so he typically delegates his strategic role among the Six Masters to his highest ranking officer, the Questor Traitoris Knight pilot known as Lady Ursula Blacksoul.
The Lords of Laeran
Now that the Knights of Laeran have a home planet and established facilities, they have become a notorious and influential faction among the Forces of Chaos. With this influence, many others loyal to the Dark Gods have sought to join them. Unfortunately the vast majority of those who serve the Ruinous Powers are wholly incompatible with the particular warband culture Gaius has painstakingly crafted throughout the millennia, yet only a truly foolish Chaos Lord turns away potentially useful servants. As such, Gaius has allowed those who he feels would not do well on Laeran itself to form vassal warbands. These vassals receive the protection of the Knights of Laeran in exchange for pacts of service to Gaius and a small tithe of some sort, the particulars of which are negotiated on a case-by-case basis. Warbands derived from a Legion other the Third or made up entirely of non-Astartes are also given vassal status, allowing them to maintain their cultural identities. The leaders of all vassal warbands are given the title "Lord of Laeran", and sit on a council alongside the Six Masters to advise Gaius, make decisions in his absence, or vote on any matters he is willing to allow such input on.
- Ursula Blacksoul: Ursula leads House Blacksoul, a Questor Traitoris House founded when the oldest child and heir to House Blackstone died during her failed attempt to take over the House and corrupt it to the worship of Chaos. The oldest living heir, Ursula Blackstone, believed her older sister failed due to a combination of impatience and an unwillingness to devote herself to a single Chaos God, leading to all of them abandoning her in her time of need. When Ursula took over the traitor contigent of House Blackstone, rather than pressing her claim to the Blackstone throne, she swore her fealty to Prince Gaius of the Knights of Laeran and brought those loyal to her into self-imposed exile to Laeran. Gaius has since created a land mass on the otherwise entirely oceanic world specifically for them to rule over, and delegated the management of daily life for the unaugmented humans and mutants of Laeran to House Blacksoul. While she is technically subserviant to Lord Atius, anyone who understands the political maneuverings of Laeran understands that Ursula Blacksoul in practice only answers to Gaius himself. Atius, in practice, is merely a close friend, ally, and occasional lover, who uses his status as a Heretic Astartes Chaos Lord to shield Lady Blacksoul from those Astartes who would balk at the idea of answering to a "mere mortal."
- Fallen Lord Zariel, Master of Espionage: Zophiel is a skilled (if not especially powerful) Sorcerer, and Lord of one of the first vassal warbands, a collection of the notorious Fallen Angels of the 1st Legion. Despite not even being a Slaanesh worshipper, Zophiel is also the Spymaster of the Knights of Laeran, charged with collecting intelligence on friend and foe alike, coordinating assassination and sabotage, and any other underhanded duties the Knights of Laeran require. His spy network is relatively vast for one outside the Alpha Legion, consisting of a mixture of fellow Fallen and corrupted individuals throughout the Imperium, and he has authority to conscript almost anyone he wishes to work in any of his Kill Teams when necessary. All he asks in exchange for his fealty is that any Fallen in his network be given safe haven upon Laeran whenever they wish and the Warband's assistance whenever necessary, a price Gaius is more than happy to pay. Why Gaius trusts such a vital task to not only an outsider, but one who isn't even devoted to the Dark Prince, remains a mystery to the Six Masters. They, for their part, don't trust Zophiel, but are willing to keep their hostility to themselves... at least when Prince Gaius is watching.
- Prince Remus Fabian: Remus is a former Lieutenant of the Angels of Calth Dark Company, and the result of a horrific experiment the Angels of Calth performed in order to create their own Daemon Princes. Test subjects would undergo a procedure in which their souls would be ripped out of their bodies, their bodies would be infused with Chaotic energies, and their souls would be put back into the newly empowered bodies, in an attempt to create Daemon Prince-like entities that would retain their loyalty to the Emperor and the Chapter. 50 members of the Dark Company volunteered for this procedure. Out of these, only three survived. Out of those three, two succumbed to the temptations of the Ruinous Powers. Remus was one of those two, and managed to escape his parent Chapter to swear himself to the Knights of Laeran. Ever since, he has since managed to lead small incursions into the Realm of Ultramar, tempting and corrupting Ultramarines and their successors whenever possible to form his own vassal warband. Despite being a powerful Daemon Prince, he is easily the least popular of all the Lords of Laeran, looked down upon for "cheating" his way to the apotheosis almost every servant of the Dark Gods craves.
- Muunokhoi Khan, Master of Bounties: Once he was Khan of the Tulwar Brotherhood (4th Company) of the White Scars, until the day he and his forces were sent to retake a world from the Knights of Laeran. While scouting out their enemy to determine the best way to enact their famous lightning strikes, however, they were shocked to find a planet where the citizens wanted for nothing and lived far happier, if briefer, lives than those who serve the Imperium. After a great deal of hushed whispers to determine who among his company thought as he did, Muunokhoi led the loyalists among his forces into what would have been a crippling assault on Lord Gaius's forces... had he not secretly relayed these plans to the then-Chaos Lord so he could set a trap for them. With his loyalists either purged or routed, Muunokhoi swore his fealty to Gaius and his devotion to the Laeran ideal. Among his former brothers of the White Scars Muunokhoi is considered one of the most vile traitors possible, for he willingly chose the path of Chaos before he had even a hint of Slaanesh corruption. Among the Knights of Laeran, Muunokhoi is easily the most trusted non-Emperor's Children member to ever serve in the warband, and is the only one not of Fulgrim's line that all of the Six Masters will gladly call "brother." When Prince Gaius announced that he was establishing vassal warbands, Muunokhoi's warband, the Heinous Hounds, weren't being shipped off because they couldn't be trusted on Laeran itself like his fellow Renegades. Instead, he and his were given the best wargear and supplies the Knights of Laeran could possibly spare, and were tasked with ensuring that their fellow vassal warbands kept to their oaths no matter how far from Laeran their raids took them.
Warband Combat Doctrine
The Knights of Laeran prefer to engage in diplomacy, infiltration, and corruption of their enemies whenever possible. Once a population center has been sufficiently converted to the worship of Slaanesh, extensive fortifications are put in place and manned by vast numbers of Noise Marines and corrupted PDF forces. When forced onto the offensive, the Knights of Laeran favor overwhelming firepower with large numbers of Noise Marines and Sonic Dreadnaughts, supported by a wide variety of more "traditional" Heretic Astartes such as Possessed, Terminators, and Havocs, all screened by whatever forces Gaius considers annoying and therefore expendable.
Roughly 80% of the Knights of Laeran trace their genetic origins to Fulgrim and the Emperor's Children. However, over time they have managed to corrupt individuals derived from virtually all of the Primarchs both loyal and traitor, with the exceptions of Angron, Magnus, and Mortarion. Given their homeworld's proximity to the Realm of Ultramar, this practice has lead to roughly 15% of their Marines descending from Roboute Guilleman and the Ultramarines, with the remaining 5% consisting of everything else except for the World Eaters, Thousand Sons, and Death Guard. Even among this 5%, however, sons of Sanguinius or Leman Russ are exceedingly rare.
Notable Warband Members
Gaius: Daemon Prince, leader of the warband. Prefers diplomacy whenever possible, and has absolutely no tolerance for any who renege on their word... which, as a member of the Traitor Legions, he acknowledges is somewhat hypocritical.
The Six Masters
Augustan: Master of the Exalted
Marius: Master of Tactics
Faustus: Master of Devotion
Octavian: Master of Machines
Marcellus: Master of the Fleet
Atius: Master of Mortals
Ursula Blacksoul: Rightful Heir of House Blackstone (according to her,) an inspiring leader and diplomat whose charisma has been greatly enhanced by Slaanesh. Pilots a Knight Dominus.
Dorothye Blacksoul: Younger sister of Ursula, an adrenaline junky obsessed with finding the ultimate challenge. Pilots a Questoris Knight.
Leupold Blacksoul: Younger brother of Ursula, a megalomaniac obsessed with asserting his superiority over the weak. Pilots a Questoris Knight.
Prince Remus Fabian: Former Lieutenant of the Angels of Calth Dark Company.
Fallen Lord Zophiel: Fallen Angel, spymaster of the Knights of Laeran.
Veneficus: Former Fists of Gorgon Librarian
Flavius: Sorcerer Lord, one of Gaius's most frequent advisors.
Lord Tonino: Chaos Lord, Admiral of the Destroyer Fleet.
Lord Saccius: Chaos Lord, Admiral of the Defiler Fleet.
Lord Petran: Chaos Lord, Admiral of the Defender Fleet.
Muunokhoi Khan: Former White Scars Captain.
Finclaire: ... sometimes.... kind of... it's complicated....
Formerly a fleet-based warband before their recent conquest of Laeran, the Knights of Laeran have collected a relatively vast armada of ships for their warband size. While their best ships date back to the Great Crusade, a large portion of it is made up of recently commandeered Imperial Navy vessels and the occasional Space Marine Strike Cruiser. In order to manage their relatively massive number of ships, the Knights of Laeran actually divide them into what is in practice five fleets.
The Dominator Fleet is primary fleet of the Knights of Laeran, where both Gaius and Lord Marcellus are typically present during naval engagements. Unlike the other fleets, which are all specialized to specific purposes, the Dominator Fleet is designed to have a relatively balanced composition, allowing them to tackle whatever situation they may come across. In large scale conflicts where the full might of the Knights of Laeran's navy is unleashed, the Dominator Fleet will often wait briefly in reserve, ready to support either the Destroyer or Defiler fleets if they meet more resistance than they can manage.
- Flagship: Fulgrim's Folly (Heavily Modified Desecrator Class Battleship): Gaius's personal ship, and formerly their primary seat of power before establishing themselves on Laeran. This ship has been heavily modified to carry more firepower and additional launch bays. While the Knights of Laeran deeply revere and respect Fulgrim, they believe he allowed his quest for personal glory in Slaanesh's name distract him from his purpose. This ship's name was meant to be a constant reminder of that, to see Fulgrim as equal parts inspiration and cautionary tale.
- 3 Desecrator Class Battleships
- 2 Battle Barges
- 4 Repulsive Class Grand Cruisers
- 2 Vengeance Class Grand Cruisers
- 6 Hecate Class Heavy Cruisers
- 4 Strike Cruisers
- 2 Devastation Class Cruisers
- 6 Emasculator Class Cruisers
- 50 Escort Squads
The Destroyer Fleet is composed almost entirely of ships designed exclusively for void combat, with the flagship itself as the only slight exception. When it's far more important to obliterate a foe (or at least batter them into submission) than to pillage their material wealth, the Destroyer Fleet is deployed to deal with it. Of all the fleets, the Destroyer Fleet actually has the fewest actual Heretic Astartes, as they typically attempt to avoid close range engagements. Those ships that are more suited to close quarters, such as their Slaughter class Cruisers, generally have more Astartes in each of their ships than the entire rest of the fleet combined.
- Flagship: Eternal Ecstasy (Modified Desecrator Class Battleship): [coming soon]
- 2 Blasphemer Class Battleships
- 3 Desolator Class Battleships
- 6 Repulsive Class Grand Cruisers
- 2 Hades Class Heavy Cruisers
- 4 Acheron Class Heavy Cruisers
- 6 Emasculator Class Cruisers
- 2 Murder Class Cruisers
- 4 Slaughter Class Cruisers
- 50 Escort Squads
While the Knights of Laeran may pride themselves on their ability to create self-sustaining worlds of endless indulgence, such utopian societies are almost no help in seeing to the practical needs of the warband. Taking control of Laeran has helped to significantly mitigate these issues, but even a Daemon World of infinite possibilities can't keep a warband that keeps creeping ever closer to Legion-size supplied when its warriors venture beyond its influence. When they need more ships, weapons, slaves, or even something as simple as food or fresh water, the Knights of Laeran must depend on raiding and pillaging their enemies as much as any other Chaos warband--more so, in fact, given the sheer scale of their forces. This is where the Defiler Fleet comes in. The ships of the Defiler Fleet are almost the polar opposite of the Destroyer Fleet, packed with as many launch bays as possible and filled to the brim with Heretic Astartes eager to board and ravage enemy ships, plundering whatever the Knights of Laeran may need (or, more likely, simply want) from those they can't barter with. Due to the predatory nature of their task, the Defiler Fleet only engages in even remotely fair conflict when doing so is absolutely unavoidable. While the Defiler Fleet has a reputation as being the less practical portion of the Knights of Laeran, those more interested in glory, loot, and other stereotypical aspects of the Emperor's Children, this is only half true. While those particular individuals certainly make up a sizable portion of the Defiler Fleet's vanguard, its leadership is actually made up of some of the most pragmatic minds in the entire Warband, eternally engaged in the solving that most precarious of mathematical equations--balancing the needs of the Warband and the risks required to fulfill those needs.
- Flagship: Infinite Indulgence (Modified Desecrator Class Battleship): [coming soon]
- 2 Battle Barges
- 3 Despoiler Class Battleships
- 2 Furious Class Grand Cruisers
- 4 Retaliator Class Grand Cruisers
- 3 Styx Class Heavy Cruisers
- 3 Hecate Class Heavy Cruisers
- 4 Strike Cruisers
- 4 Devastation Class Cruisers
- 4 Lunar Class Cruisers
- 50 Escort Squads
The smallest of the Knights of Laeran fleets, the Detector Fleet is primarily an infiltration and observation fleet. Mostly composed of smaller, stolen Imperial vessels, this fleet is primarily charged with scouting the Imperium for potential corruption targets, infiltrating loyalist armadas, and engaging in occasional acts of piracy when between these particular roles as needed. While Renegades who aren't descended from a Traitor Legion aren't strictly required to be part of this fleet, most of them end up either here or in the Defiler Fleet.
- Flagship: Shield of Justice (Strike Cruiser): The former primary ship of the Angels of Calth 4th Company, this ship was Prince Remus's gift to Lord Gaius when he fell to Slaanesh and joined the warband. It has since served as the primary vessel that most Renegades who join the Knights of Laeran call home, at least initially.
- 2 Lunar Class Cruisers
- 1 Inferno Class Cruiser
- 15 Imperial Navy Escort Squads
- 5 Chaos Escort Squads
A fleet completely unlike any of the others, the Deceiver Fleet is used when the Knights of Laeran receive a credible tip from the Detector Fleet and need to move through Imperial territory in a large force. The fleet is entirely composed of ships that were stolen in a historic ambush upon the fleet-based Blades of Morkai, but is constantly repainted and redecorated so they appear to belong to whatever loyalist Chapter the Knights of Laeran are posing as. Unlike every other fleet controlled by the Knights of Laeran, it is kept out of warp storms such as the one their homeworld resides in as much as possible to avoid any outwardly obvious corruption, and any mutations that manifest are immediately removed. The fleet was once significantly larger, but the Blades of Morkai recently managed to retaliate for this ancient stain upon their honor, and either destroyed or reclaimed the majority of them once again.
- Flagship: Blade of the Dread Wolf (Battle Barge): When the Blades of Morkai were first ambushed by the Knights of Laeran the entire crew of this vessel, down to the last serf, volunteered to lead the ships that would stay behind to hold the Chaos fleet off while the rest of the Chapter's fleet could escape. In a deliberate, spiteful mockery of this heroic past, it continues to lead the same fleet it did then...
- 2 Battle Barges
- 10 Strike Cruisers
- 40 Escort Squads
The most recently established fleet of the Knights of Laeran, and the only fleet to never leave Laeran unless absolutely necessary, the Defender Fleet is primarily responsible for fighting off those who would attempt to take their homeworld. Before being plunged into the Rift, Laeran changed hands far too often for warrant establishing such a fleet, but now that both Laeran's location and its nature as a whole makes it all but impossible for Imperial forces to take it from Gaius, the majority of their armada is relatively free to handle other affairs, as the only serious threats are other Chaos warbands that might be able to claim Laeran for their own. The Knights Celestial still conduct crusades to retake the planet when they can, but the Rift has granted the Knights of Laeran such a massive "home field advantage" that typically the Defender Fleet along with the established planetary defense systems can hold them off until one or more of the other three fleets arrive. Notably, the Defender Fleet is the only Knights of Laeran fleet to frequently utilize Daemon Ships.
- Flagship: Airtha's Legacy (Space Hulk): Less of a "ship" per say, Airtha's Legacy is a Space Hulk orbiting Laeran like a moon. Unlike most Space Hulks, this one was deliberately constructed by the Knights of Laeran, using the ships of those who attempt to attack Laeran (Imperial, Chaos, and Xenos alike) that either don't manage to escape or are too damaged to be truly salvageable once captured. These vessels are rarely if ever cleared of survivors, but the Hulk is completely overrun by Daemons, and not merely Slaanesh ones. The majority of the mangled conglomeration of ships is a constant battlefield as surviving enemies of the Knights of Laeran compete for what meager resources they can find to survive while fighting off--or, occasionally, creating pacts with--the various Neverborn hordes that also fight one another. For this reason, it's controlled more through coordinating isolated footholds in key locations rather than as a single unified vessel. The only times the Knights of Laeran bother to intervene in these internal conflicts is when enough forces manage to establish non-hostile contact to threaten to take over the Space Hulk (typically Imperials, but occasionally various Chaos warbands can pull it off if enough of them can bind the roving Daemons to their cause.)
- 1 Battle Barge
- 1 Desecrator Class Battleship
- 3 Executor Class Grand Cruisers
- 3 Hellfire Class Heavy Cruisers
- 2 Strike Cruisers
- 4 Carnage Class Cruisers
- 50 Escort Squads
- Alpha Legion
- Black Legion
- Red Corsairs
- Angeli Antiquis
- Servants of the Truth
- Iron Claws
- Pentagonal Alliance
- Children of Madness
- Iron Hands
- Knights Celestial
- House Blackstone
- Blades of Morkai
- Angels of Calth
- Drakken Harbingers
- Ashimar Nova Guard
- Katryna Vreiken
- Ashen Maulers
- Iron Wardens
- Fists of the Gorgon
- Battlefleet Lokus
By the Knights of Laeran
- "Do not hinder another's pursuit of pleasure while seeking your own, for doing so halves Slaanesh's praise."
- — The One Law of Laeran
- "Trust is the most precious resource possible amongst the Legions. Those sworn to the Dark Gods are so prone to betrayal, it is by Their will alone that we didn't all kill each other in the first days of the Legion Wars. Not that you would know, Son of Guilliman. You weren't there. You weren't on Skalathrax, where we turned our Kakophoni upon the World Eaters, warriors we had only years prior called 'cousin' and fought beside on Istvaan. You weren't in Cantacle City, weren't forced to watch the man we had bet the entire future of Humanity on killed a second time by his own, most beloved son. You didn't watch everything you had ever worked for, literally sold your soul for, tear itself apart just to experience one more blissful sensation, with no regard for future experiences. I have spent the last 10,000 years building a very specific reputation, Remus. A reputation for keeping my promises, only betraying my allies when absolutely necessary, not letting the quest for momentary indulgence endanger our future capacity to serve Slaanesh... and keeping those who serve me by the same standards. That requires that those who serve me be absolutely, unquestioningly obedient to me. And make no mistake, Remus. You. Serve. Me."
- — Prince Gaius
- "HERE'S YOUR FRAKING DONUT!""
- — Prince Gaius, to Finclaire
- "I am personally responsible for the deaths of 3,219,401,216 humans, not counting any Xenos, Daemons, or Astartes. 4,279,936 of those were during the period that you call the 'Horus Heresy.' And I swear by Fulgrim himself that, were it someone other than myself in the positions I was in, that number would be at least six times what it is. Ever since Horus's failed rebellion and my brothers' descent into short-sighted indulgence, I have done everything within my power to keep whatever Emperor's Children I could true to Fulgrim's vision for humanity and direct the worst of our excesses into a productive direction. I have saved more human lives than those traitors to the Third Legion who occupy your planet ever could. The galaxy is far more complicated than your corpse-god would ever let you understand."
- — Prince Gaius, to Rissah Blackstone
About the Knights of Laeran
- "Filth of the lowest order. Traitors to the God-Emperor from the first. Only their disinclination towards rapine gives me anything approaching tolerance for their repulsively hedonistic and nihilistic lifestyle. They have murdered my brothers, and that is a pain I will visit upon them in kind until my dying day. I only regret I could not cut down Gaius himself as I cut down his concubine-witch in that terrible moment of his descent into a Neverborn. Should I be so blessed as to have another chance at killing him, I shall not fail. I will kill him, or I will die trying. "
- —- Centurio Iovannius Ulixes, Master of Justice and 8th Close Assault Company Captain of the Ordinators
- "Subject "Knights of Laeran" macroassessment indicates threat level beta-2. Heretic Astartes which pose risk to ally alpha, Adeptus Astartes chapter, Ordinators; due to significant void combat capability and frequent usage of warp entities to augment Astartes capabilities and equipment. Individual "Prince Gaius" assessed as primary target for potential Sicarian elimination given integral role in maintaining coherency among the heretic warband, to be executed in future Directive 9-95-Delta-Black-181. If homeworld bears even 51% probability of connection to world of [archival retrieval] Laeran [/archival retrieval], termination order is appraised at 95% necessity. Corruption of the 16 Universal Laws rampant and unabashed. Recommended course of action: retrieval of stolen gene-seed for analysis and return to Mars, destruction of fleet, physical destruction of homeworld, and complete and utter termination of all ascribing membership within the group. "
- —- Arch-Magos Dominus Nikes Galanos, Commander and Data-Compositor Alpha of Macroclade Psi, Legio Omega, Forge World Ferunus
- "They helped us once. Far be it from me to understand why, but they helped fight off another warband. Afterwards, we thanked them. At gunpoint."
- —4th Company Captain Pevros Puvlis of the Ashen Knights
- "Wipe them all out, and all who would debase themselves by associating with the bastards of the Third Legion!"
- —Chaplain Thortes of the Iron Wardens, upon setting foot on a world infiltrated by the Knights of Laeran
- "Well, it made things interesting, I guess. Throne, clearing out that ritual site, I saw some things there I'd never wanted to see and now can never unsee. In just one day, between that and talking to you now, I think I've seen enough heresy to last me a lifetime."
- — Trooper Uriah Sakel, Ashimar Nova Guard
- "May your false gods grant you protection from our wrath, for the Blades will never rest until we have your head!"
- —Last words of Sven Frostfang, Chapter Master of the Blades of Morkai during an engagement with Lord Gaius of the Knights of Laeran