Footsteps echoed throughout the dim corridors of the cavernous vessel, the trudging sound of ceramite on steel. Calling the Crucible of Flesh a “vessel,” was a statement of fact, strictly speaking; the vast, miles-long behemoth was indeed a vessel. And in its warp-tainted heart, it carried the full measure of the most murderous band of Chaos Space Marines in the Caluphel Sector: the Oath of Midnight, fearsome bannermen to the Night Lords Legion.
What the Crucible of Flesh was not, however, was a spaceship. It had long since transcended beyond such a mundane term. Comprised of derelict cruisers, wrecked defense platforms, rogue asteroids, half-frozen corpses of void beasts, all held together with the disambiguated flotsam of centuries of warp travel, the vessel defied categorization. To the miserable defenders of the Imperium, the craft would be called a space hulk, and would be viewed with equal parts fear and awe.
To the Night Lords, who had roosted like bats in portions of the shadowy leviathan for the better part of three years, the Crucible of Flesh was more akin to a lair. From its benighted depths, the Oath of Midnight’s scrappy fleet of strike cruisers went forth like vultures, plundering the war-torn Caluphel Sector even as the massive space hulk drifted ever closer to its destination.
Aboard the vessel, the individual squads of Night Lords burrowed deep into the darkest corners of the rotten hulk. Deranged chanting and blood ceremonies marked the passage of the days and months as Astartes warriors gave themselves over to unnatural worship and unspeakable rituals. Raptors hunted in packs in the vast zero-g sections of the hulk.
In the aft section of the gargantuan vessel, inside the crumbling ruin of a deep space smelter, and rumors persisted of hulking monsters of metal and flesh being assembled there, piece by piece in the molten forges. In the sprawling launch bay of what had once been an Imperial cruiser, row upon row of tanks and armor stood silently, waiting deployment by the Oath of Midnight.
In the halls of the Crucible of Flesh, Lord Molitor Ashmouth strode with a newfound sense of purpose. There was a quickening in the air. The destiny of the warband, which he had led for nearly a millennium, was beginning to curve toward — what? Apotheosis? Or vindication? Molitor closed his eyes, seeking the portent that had plagued his mind these last few months.
There. On the periphery of his vision, dancing just beyond his comprehension: a grinning skull, half black and half white. A clawed hand, outstretched and beckoning. And a voice, hissing and sinister, uttering a single word: “Halla…”
Molitor’s vision abruptly cleared, and he glanced around at the Astartes entourage that was accompanying on this survey through the bowels of the space hulk. They looked expectantly at him. One spoke: “What vexes you, my lord?”
”The hour draws near,” Molitor said slowly, his voice distant and distorted through the vox amplifiers built into his armored helmet. “Our oaths will be fulfilled. The path has been made known to me. Assemble the legion — we make for the Halla Abandonment!”
The Oath of Midnight
Ah, nothing like a bit of lore to kick-start the next chapter in our Caluphel Sector campaign. Last year I focused on my nascent Death Guard army, adding quite a few units and building up a huge force by the time our Apocalypse game came along in December.
This year I’m using the campaign as an excuse to build upon my beloved Night Lords warband, the Oath of Midnight. I’ll be painting up new units and vehicles, with special attention paid to a lot of the unique looking character models I’ve accumulated over the years. First up (scheduled for next week) is a post about my first five Heretic Astartes from the new Shadowspear box.
As the campaign opens, the Night Lords are aboard the space hulk Crucible of Flesh, which was first spotted last summer coasting through the outskirts of the Glouroth Sub-Sector.
Now the space hulk has drifted into the Ianthe Sub-Sector, which was detailed last summer by Paul. The idea is that the Night Lords are just passengers, and the space hulk itself is being drawn to something in the Ianthe Sub-Sector. As you might surmise from the intro lore, that “something” is a mysterious region of space within the Ianthe Sub-Sector known as the Halla Abandonment.
Our campaign GM has invited each player to submit a narrative goal of some sort to work toward over the course of the campaign. I decided to make the exploration of the Halla Abandonment the goal for my Night Lords. I have an idea of what they may find there, but it remains to be seen just how successful they are in plumbing the depths of the Abandonment. Stay tuned for more!
And if you missed last summer’s campaign, check it out here (replete with lore, painting logs, and battle reports).