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- "Now, Ravens come!"
- — Council Master Crowler
The Night Ravens are a loyalist Space Marine Chapter created in M36 during the notorious 21st Founding, known also as the 'Curse Founding', as a Successor Chapter of the venerable Raven Guard. The focus of this particular Founding was to perfect and remove the existing, identified deficiencies in flawed Adeptus Astartes gene-seed. This was done in the hope of creating far superior Primarch-like Astartes. But unfortunately, the Adeptus Mechanicus genetors proved far less-skilled than the Emperor in the genetic sciences, which resulted in seriously flawed gene-seed given to the newly created Chapters of this particular Founding. Only much later, would many of these Chapters develop unexpected genetic idiosyncrasies - mutations that strained the tolerance of the Inquisition and threatened these Chapters' very survival. The Night Ravens are one such Chapter.
The Night Ravens are a mysterious, if not oft-maligned, Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes, who, despite being labelled as one of the 'sullied' Chapters of the 21st Founding, has managed to forge a reputation for melding stealth and guile with vigilance, swiftness and perseverance. Like their progenitors, the Raven Guard, these Scions of Corax have become worthy successors as masters in the arts of stealth and speed, raising these skills to near preternatural levels. Developing their expertise over several millennia, the Night Ravens have carved a swathe of blood and ash across the void against the multitude of enemies that have assailed Mankind. But despite their loyal and faithful service to the Emperor and the Imperium, they are shunned by many of their fellow Chapters and other Imperial organisations.
- "Speak and we may listen, but loudly you must call, for our blood sings ever louder even now."
- — Excerpt from The Book of Nightshade
The exact origins of this Chapter is difficult to pinpoint, as much of the official record pertaining to their Founding was purposely destroyed. Much of the Chapter's early years are unknown, and the Night Ravens are only spoken of in official Imperial records only rarely, and even then, much of this text is coloured by the fact that what little is known, comes from the Night Ravens themselves. The early years of the Night Ravens' existence, following their inception, was recorded in the tome known as 'The Book of the Nightshade', said to have been written by the hand of the Chapter's first Council Master Haydrian Lorc. This most sacred of Chapter tomes contains the compiled wisdom of past Council Masters as well as litanies and holy rites which are held sacred to the Night Ravens. It also chronicles the early days of the Chapter and the trials and tribulations they had to overcome. Listed below is much of the Chapter's early history, as related by Council Master Lorc:
Dread Shadow (991.M35-291.M36)
Born from the cursed blood of the 21st Founding, the Night Ravens, the sickly children, were dead upon the birthing bed. The gene-meddlers, the Ice-in-the-Heart sang the doom with their needles and the Night Ravens heard and remembered until the last - the cursed Vibravit in their veins rang loud in their ears. For many a year the darkness claimed them, the gloom of loss overwhelmed their spirits and set in their hearts. The dying seemed so near, but the galaxy shared not in the mourning. The Six-Hundred-and-Twelfth Adeptus Astartes would as it seemed be lost to the list of the dead without care or memory. But fate, that which had never been kind, spoke its decree with compassion and the Night Ravens rose.
On the night world of Sapio in the darkness of the north the Night Ravens began healing. Through night and nightmare the newborn Apothecarion worked unending, bending all their youthful knowledge to the task of saving themselves. The dread shadow that fell heavy upon them at the time of their birth became the anvil to forge a new strength, and after long trial the curse of the Crow Bone began to lift; though many brothers there had perished and joyless was their victory. The warriors of that time were grim and cold, the remembrance of pain owned them and fueled them in the wars that came too soon. Few they were but many were their sins - innocent life taken by the thousands for crimes committed by others. The Night Ravens sowed what they had reaped and the universe looked upon them bitterly.
For three-hundred years the Night Ravens stalked the darkness with murderous intent, slaying all those whom they found uncaring of allegiance, their hearts shattered without a care. The first who felt the wrath of the Night Ravens were the Orks of the Razor Fields who screamed their primitive battle cries even as the void claimed them. The dust world of Coroc was flooded with blood, the Kingdom of the Platinum Child shuddered and broke, and everywhere the scions of the Imperium looked on in horror. The Night Ravens had became monsters in the dark, and on distant Terra the Administratum began to take notice.
Faith and Forgiveness (300.M36)
- "Hear me, birth-worlder. These sins we carry in our wretched hands are of your own making, and own them you shall. For if it is we who are the monster, you then are that thing in the darkness of which monsters are bred."
- — Nain-Sau, the Iconoclast (Deceased)
The Rotten Spring / The Dying (999.M41)
Chapter Home World
- "Curtains of darkness soon to be revealed
Declaration of death soon to be done
The triumphant of the darkness shall be ours
For we are one with the shadows."
- — The Book of Nightshade, excerpt of the holy rite known as the 'Testing'
The Night Ravens follow the tenants of The Book of Nightshade, an ancient tome believed to have been penned by the hand of the Chapter's first Council Master, Haydrian Lorc. Chronicling the early days of the Chapter's existence and the trials that had to be overcome, The Book of Nightshade speaks of the Night Ravens' most holy of rites - the 'Testing'.
Believed to have begun as a means of rehabilitation for Night Raven's crippled by Crow Bone, the Testing has, over the centuries, become an essential part of the Chapter's spiritual existence and holy testament to their endurance and strength of will. Taking the form of a several month-long fasting and mental sufferance in the pitch black bowels of the Chapter's battle ship Crow Sinister, it is said that the Night Ravens who have survived the initial effects of their gene-curse could only survive and be deemed pure once they had cured not only their bodies, but their minds. The Testing, though an integral part of the Chapter's identity, often leads to the seemingly needless deaths of brothers who would, with proper care, otherwise have survived.
Due to the nature of the Night Raven's gene-seed degradation, the Testing is in some ways a means for the Chapter to repent for their imagined failures, blaming themselves for their situation and caring little for what others would have to say on the topic.
- "We now repent for the sins of our father. One who in his guilt abandoned us, to be alone. Carry we his burden, and hope that our strength shall endure."
- — Excerpt from The Book of Nightshade
Once planned to be an adherent to the statutes of the Codex Astartes, the structure and organisation the Night Ravens now follow are a relatively textbook approach to Chapter organisation. At the moment of their founding it was noticed that the exorbitant numbers of prospect Astartes whose bodies rejected the DCXII 'Vibravit' gene-batch would lend to difficulties in the future with maintaining numbers. This caused the Night Raven's first Chapter-Master, Haydrian Lorc to conclude that a different, non-Codex approach would be necessary; employing ten scaled-down companies of exactly sixty-two Space Marines. Each company is lead by a "Council" which together with the Chapter Master, or "Council Master" as the Night Ravens would have it, form a delegation of commanders. In practice the Night Ravens have not one, but technically ten Chapter Masters, as each company was designed to operate independently. These individual companies are all but autonomous in their own right in the field and are largely exempt from the reliance on direct commands from the senior leadership of the Chapter. They are expected to deal with myriad challenges on their own if needs be, and have displayed a propensity for being extremely proficient in the performance of extended unsupported operations within hostile domains.
Order of Battle
The Night Ravens nominally adhere to the tenets of the Codex Astartes as their flaw allows, as they recognise the strictures of the Codex as a form of discipline that can be used to help offset the genetic deficiencies their flaw represents. Though each company can, and does, often fight as a separate unit, a Night Ravens strike force will often be composed of several squads from different companies, assembled in an ad hoc basis according to the mission at hand. Represented below is the composition and deployment of the Night Ravens Chapter, circa 999.M41. For logistical reasons, each squad is assumed to have a nominal strength of 6-10 Battle-Brothers, although battlefield attrition and instability brought on by the 'Crow Bone' flaw inevitably reduces this tally:
|Armoury||Reclusium||Apothecarion||Librarius||Master of the Fleet|
|Veteran Companies||Battle Companies|
|1st Company||2nd Company||3rd Company||4th Company||5th Company|
|6th Company||7th Company||8th Company||9th Company||10th Company|
- "From the depths, we rise, we rise with raven's eyes
In the shadows, we rage, we strike like infernal hate
Blackened wings in the sky, we summon the eternal night."
- — Excerpt from the The Book of Nightshade
Arms & Equipment
- "Our Chapter is sick, of that there is no doubt. But with our faith and fury we shall rise above our curse, and be blessed in the light of the Emperor's grace."
- — Hadric Alistair, Chief Apothecary of the Night Ravens
Like their sire before them, the Night Ravens gene-seed bears the scars of Corax's attempt to rebuild his Legion after the Drop Site Massacre. Not only do the Night Ravens have extreme difficulty with finding recruits whose bodies can accept their flawed gene-seed, but in the time after the implantation of the second organ implant, many initiates suffer from an affliction of the bone known as 'Crow Bone'. Due to a flaw in the Chapter's gene-seed, the Night Ravens' genetic deficiencies has caused the implant known as the Ossmodula to not function properly. This small but vital organ is responsible for the epiphiseal fusion and ossification of the bones, which causes an Aspirant's skeleton to become larger and exponentially stronger. But the Aspirants' within the Night Ravens often suffer from this genetic flaw, which causes their bones appear to hollow, losing all integrity over time and finally crumble and splinter under the slightest pressure. Though these ailments of the Chapter's gene-seed have led many to believe the Chapter is cursed, the warriors of the Night Ravens themselves see their plight as a test.
Another curious idiosyncrasy of the Night Ravens' gene-seed causes a few members of the Chapter to be 'blessed' with large, raven-like pinions. Stretching out from an Astartes' shoulders, these vast dark wings of blackest feather are seen as the greatest blessing a Night Raven may ever receive, and thus, these warriors are held in reverence by all others within the Chapter. Those blessed with the 'Dark Wings' are almost assured of reaching a lofty position in the Chapter's hierarchy. Though these Astartes are held in high esteem by the Chapter, this particular mutation is not looked upon very kindly by many of their fellow Adeptus Astartes Chapter. The outward appearance of these afflicted Night Ravens confirms (at least in their eyes), that their Chapter is somehow 'tainted' or sullied. This mutation also strains the acceptable tolerances of the Inquisition, which has caused the Ordo Hereticus to cast an accusatory eye towards this 'Cursed' Founding Chapter.
Due to the difficulty of finding viable candidates that are genetically compatible to receive their flawed gene-seed, and suffering from the 'Crow Bone' affliction, the Chapter's numbers have slowly dwindled over the last few decades. Whether or not the Night Ravens will be able to overcome their genetic deficiencies and rise above them, or be doomed to suffer the long, slow agonising death of their Chapter due to genetic deviancy. Only time will tell...
The Night Ravens appear similar to their founding Legion in many ways, possessing alabaster skin and dark hair which accentuates over time. But due to the Chapter's excessively degenerative gene-seed each member of the Night Ravens becomes almost incapable of gaining any sort of body fat which results in emaciated corpse-like frames. Due to an odd custom within the Chapter, many Astartes of the Night Ravens are known to file their teeth into sharp points, though the purpose of this is unknown.
The Night Ravens have been a fleet-based Chapter since shortly after their founding, and as such their Chapter fleet doubles as a base of operations and spiritual home. Each ship in the fleet is painted as black as the void of space, with little to no telling features to define it from the surrounding space:
- Raven Song (Battle Barge) - The flagship of the Night Ravens Chapter is a vast Astartes Battle Barge modified to act more as a temple and sanctuary than a machine of war. Painted pitch black, as with the rest of the Chapter's fleet, the Raven's Song is the dark heart of the Night Ravens; containing the chamber of the Chapter Council, the Temple of Grey (a holy shrine dedicated to their gene-sire Corvus Corax) and the Initiates quarters for the Chapter's new recruits. This mighty ship is home to the past, present and future of the Chapter, and if anything were to befall the Raven's Song it is believed the Chapter would never recover.
- Frostbite (Strike Cruiser) - Nicknamed the 'Icy Tallon of the Night Ravens', the vessel known as Frostbite is the center of the Chapter's void-bound assaults. As the Chapters only strike cruiser, this ship is essential for planetary siege and void-borne assaults and boarding actions.
- Black Seed (Prowling-class Nova Frigate) - Leading the Chapter's attack squadron, the 'Prowling Nova' Frigate Black Seed is perhaps the deadliest vessel in the Night Ravens' possession. Armed with a trio of prow-mounted lances, the Black Seed is the Chapter's 'harbinger of destruction'.
- Murder & Unkind (Sword-class Frigates) - Modified for greater speed and manoeuverability, the pair of Sword-class frigates, Murder and Unkind, are the mighty hammer that strikes the anvil of the Night Ravens' attack squadron when they lure their foes into a sense of false security, and then suddenly, spring their deadly trap.
- Grim Shade (Unknown Class, Scout Vessel) - The eyes and ears of the Night Ravens, Grim Shade is the preeminent scouting ship of the flock - hunting in the darkness of the void for prey - before hailing the greater fleet or swooping in to take part in the kill.
- Spark (Unknown Class, Armoury Vessel) - Known also as the 'Light in the Dark', Spark is the armoury vessel of the Night Ravens and home to Lorc's Retreat.
- Crow Sinister (Unknown Class, Medical Vessel) - Those battle-brothers who are afflicted with the genetic curse of the 'Crow Bone' ailment, soon find themselves within the dark halls of Crow Sinister, the Chapter's medicaid ship. With so many succumbing to the Chapter's gene-flaw it is imperative for the Apothecaries of the Night Ravens to work tirelessly, lest the Chapter continues to dwindle and eventually die.
- Insidious & Sunless (Gladius-class Frigates) - This pair of Gladius-class Frigates act in a defensive role and act as protection for the Crow Sinister.
Notable Night Ravens
- Council Master Haydrian Lorc - First Chapter Master of the Night Ravens Chapter.
- Council Master Ramius Crowler - Known as the Lord of Shades, Ramius Crowler serves as the current Council Master of the Night Ravens Chapter.
- Shade Captain Orfeo Kerith - Known as Lord Blackwing, the formidable warrior known as Orfeo Kerith, serves as the current Shade Captain of the elite "Occuultus" 1st Company as well as the Chapter's Master of Secrets.
- Shade Captain Kaal Summanus - Known as Blood Raven, Kaal Summanus serves as the current Shade Captain of the elite "Occultus" 2nd Company as well as the Chapter's Master of Ambush.
- Shade Captain Coran Umbris - Known as Bloody Talon, Coran Umbris serves as the current Shade Captain of the 3rd Company as well as the Chapter's Master of Relics.
- Shade Captain Baalin Adivarius - Known as the Swiftwing, Baalin Adivarius serves as the current Shadow Captain of the 4th Company as well as the Chapter's Master of the Fleet.
- Shade Captain Voldor Cornix - Known as the Ash Lord, Voldor Cornix serves as the current Shade Captain of the 5th Company as well as the Chapter's Master of the Marches.
- Shade Captain Calis Vesper - Known as 'Fell-Wing', Calis Vesper serves as the current Shade Captain of the 6th Company.
- Shade Captain Brano Altair - Known as 'Ghost Crow', Brano Altair serves as the current Shade Captain of the 7th Company.
- Shade Captain Rostrum Acutum - Known as 'Sharp Beak', Rostrum Acutum serves as the current Shade Captain of the 8th Company and the Chapter's current Lord of Blades.
- Shade Captain Alis Irae - Known as Night Wing, Alis Irae serves as the current Shade Captain of the 9th Company and also as the Chapter's current Master of the Stormborne.
- Shade Captain Sarvio Avium - Known as 'Pale Feathers', Sarvio Avium serves as the current Shade Captain of the 10th Company as well as the Chapter's Master of Recruits.
- The Book of Nightshade - The Book of Nightshade is the revered and sacred tome originally authored by the Chapter's first Chapter Master - Council Master Haydrian Lorc. Originally, it was written as a chronicle of the earliest days of the Night Ravens' existence, and speaks of the various trials and tribulations it first encountered following their inception. Over time, subsequent Council Masters have added to this tome, adding their own personal experiences and battlefield wisdom which created a sturdy but adaptable strategic framework that speaks of the fundamental strengths and abilities of the Night Ravens themselves.
(See Main Article: Book of Nightshade)
- The Sword of Mist -
The power armour of the Night Ravens is predominately soot black with ash gray lined insets on the shoulder pauldrons. The Aquilla or Imperialis, though rarely worn, are the same soot black as the armour. Tactical markings are marked in white on the right poleyn (knee guard), with squad numbers sometimes engraved in deep red in the lower right hand corner of the inset of the right shoulder pauldron or below the squad specialty symbol on the right poleyn. Optionally, sometimes both squad specialty markings and squad number are displayed on the right greave. Company numbers are shown, etched on the left poleyn or greave, which is painted deep red and written in the ancient language of their lost home world of Sapio.
Another common sight amongst the warriors of the Night Ravens is the dark blue pictographic markings painted on the surfaces of their armour. These icons represent many things to the warriors; blue marks on the helmet denote veteran status, while marks on the shoulders and arms are usually carried by those who are highly skilled in their arts. The symbols are most frequently the shape of bones (Long bones painted on an Astartes' greaves mark him as a survivor of the dreaded 'Crow Bone'), though other shapes are not uncommon - teeth, claws, celestial signs and even tracts from The Book of Nightshade have been sighted on the battle-plate of this Chapter's warriors.
The Night Ravens' Chapter badge is a stylised black-coloured raven facing forwards, blood-red crescent moon behind it, centered upon a field of deepest black.
- "Our Void Ravens kin epitomise our gene-sire's First Axiom of Stealth - to be other than where the enemy believes you to be - for they walk the shadows as if born to them. They are adept at moving silent and unseen through the shadows and attacking as and where they will, bringing silent death to their enemies."
- — Shade Captain Orfeo Kerith, Lord Blackwing, Master of Secrets of the Night Ravens' elite 1st Company, commenting upon their allies, the Void Ravens
By the Night Ravens
Feel free to add you own.
- "Mingle my dust with the burning brand,
Scatter it free to the sky
Fling it wide on the ocean's sand,
From peaks where the ravens fly."
- — Excerpt from The Book of Nightshade, the Last Words of Haydrian Lorc
- "There are those who think our wings are just for cosmetic appearances. Rest assured, not only do they carry us aloft in battle, but can just as easily deal a mortal blow to an enemy. My pinions are a part of me, and I, them."
- — A Night Ravens Shade Warden of the elite 1st Company, responding to the query of a curious Reaper Talon of the Crimson Scorpions Chapter
- "Foes of the Imperium, fear me! For I am death! My wings are a hurricane! My weapons are my wrath!"
- —Shade Captain Coran Umbris, 'Blood Talon', 3rd Company
- "It is not pleasant to come upon Death in a lonely place at midnight."
- —A Night Ravens Sergeant revealing himself from the shadows, to a doomed group of Chaos cultists
- "It has fallen upon me, now and again in my sojourns through the universe, to ease various evil men of their lives."
- — Reclusiarch Bran Cordivol, Night Ravens Master of Sanctity
About the Night Ravens
Feel free to add you own.
- "Captain, I am scoping Space Marines, some of which seem to possess..avian wing-mutations. I am moving to intercept."
"Belay that Brother, I know these Astartes. Stand down and continue to observe, they are loyalists all."
- — Vox-contact between a battle-brother and Lophess Ovair of the Obsidian Blades Chapter.
- "Emaciated, albino, pointy-tooth, gothy mutants? Wow, Corax's hatchlings haven't changed a bit in the last ten thousand years."
- — Calios Kottel, Lord of the Void Sirens
- "Wings, seriously? Okay, that tops sparkly skins, it may even top bursting into flame."
- "How are these Marines still alive? Their very bones rebel against their purpose. "
- — Inquisitor Jacob Flux
- "So, do you use those wings to carry off your prey or are they just for show?"
- — Reaper Talon from the Crimson Scorpions
- "Birds of evil, death and night are but fables taking flight. Their cackle mocks their evil myth, their curse is nothing but a gift."
- — Unknown Mortarchs Serpentia Astartes
- "Blight be your being, for you only possess an immaterial grasp, like that of a cloak, of your sinful shell."
- — Gustav Adolfcus of the Imperialists Chapter