Coming to the end of the Fandex installments detailing the background of the Blood Drinkers; here I look at the defining feature of any Chapter born of the Sanguinius bloodline, the Flaw and the duality it weaves into all aspects of Chapter life and in some cases, death!
It's been a tricky one to lay out coherently because when you sit down and really examine the Flaw you realise it's not a single entity, but rather a conglomeration of fluff, much of it contradictory. Anyway, here is my attempt at papering over the cracks.
Angels and Demons
"For the Emperor and Sanguinius!"
Proud inheritors of the genetic heritage of Sanguinius though they are, the Blood Drinkers pride is tinged by a great sadness; for to be of The Angels bloodline is to be part of a doomed brotherhood. During their founding, despite all efforts, the gene seed for the new Chapter remained tainted; the Flaw was passed on and in the case of the mutated Omophagea organ, progressed to a new level of virulence.
Vladarius's naming of the Chapter following his vision from Sanguinius foretold of this, testament if any were needed, to the prophetic powers of the beloved Primarch; but was this prophecy a sign of divine providence or a dark omen unheeded?
The Blood Drinkers display all the outward signs of having overcome the worst aspects of the Flaw, to all appearances they have achieved an unprecedented level of control over it; but appearances can be deceptive.
The Chapter has attained dominance over the Red Thirst not by denying its hunger but by surrendering themselves to it; adopting bloody aspects of tribal practice from their homeworld and making the consumption of blood, often in large quantities, the key tenet in their rituals.
The source of this blood is unknown as is the exact nature of the rituals, for none outside the Chapter have ever witnessed these ceremonies. It is probable that it is drawn from the Battle Brothers themselves or perhaps one of the mighty predators of San Guisuga, hunted by the Marines to prove their martial prowess. In some quarters however it is whispered that the blood is that of fallen enemies, captives or even innocents and that the Blood Drinkers are on the path to eventual damnation.
Despite this secret and the as yet unfounded shadow cast by it, the Blood Drinkers are held in high regard by the other Sons of Sanguinius; their control over the Flaw granting them an equable temperament well suited to mediating between the more passionate or savage Chapters of their brethren.
And they, like the other Sons, follow the teachings of the Cult of Sanguinius; venerating the Emperor as the saviour and master of mankind and their Primarch as the paragon of humanities most noble qualities.
The Sanguinary Guard
“We cheat death from his rightful victory. No one can defeat us; we are glad to plunge feet first into hell, in the knowledge that we will rise again.” Blood Drinker Incantation of Descent.
The living embodiments of these teachings are the Sanguinary Guard, legendary warriors who hark directly back to the Chapters Progenitors the Blood Angels, when the first of their number acted as bodyguards to the Primarch himself.
Selected from the cream of the First Company’s elite Terminator squads, each is a singular individual who has mastered equilibrium over their conflicting nature. They are armoured and equipped with ancient relics from the heady days of the original Legion. Held up as examples of all that is great and glorious in the scions of Sanguinius; each Guard is the epitome of lethal nobility.
The Death Company
“We are the dead, we go into battle to reclaim our lives!” Mortifier Samael’s invocation to the Evocati.
There is however, despite all they have achieved, no absolute ward against the Primarchs dark legacy. Due to their unique resilience to the Flaw, the Blood Drinkers only appear to fall to its curse after succumbing to mortal wounds; as though at the moment of death the iron discipline caging it is finally torn open.
Each fallen marine is placed in stasis to await transport back to The Maw. There they lie in state in a Reclusiam chapel known as The Grove and the High Chaplain, the ‘King of the Groves’ maintains vigil over the bodies. Most will never stir and are eventually removed for entombment in the Catacombs of Lament; but a few brothers do rise again as fury filled monsters, the stuff of nightmares.
Overcome with madness and blood lust, they are lost to the Black Rage. The High Chaplain wielding the mighty axe Calvaria Morsus engages each in combat, chanting the Moripatris, the ‘Mass of Doom’. Attempting to reach into the brother’s tempest wracked mind and grant him salvation. Most are beyond saving and are quickly consumed by the Red Thirst. The High Chaplain must grant them release by his hand, decapitation being the only way to end their onslaught.
Some hear the words of the Chaplain and pin the fragments of their sanity to them, chaining the rage on a fragile leash; these are the Evocati, the Chapters Death Company, their minds haunted by shadows of Sanguinius’s memories and final moments ten millennia ago.
The Chapter keeps these tormented souls in the grip of cryo sleep within the Vaults of Forlorn Hope; awaiting the opportunity to unleash them in battle so that they may reclaim their honour in death. This is no easy feat, the Evocati are an almost unstoppable force, shrugging off injuries that would fell the strongest of their marine brothers and tearing the enemy to pieces in their desperate attempt to find a foe capable of besting them. For those that do not die on the field, the long cold embrace of the stasis vault awaits until another conflict and another chance of redemption.
Picture used 'Angels of Death' by Geoff Taylor copyright Games Workshop Limited 2000-2011