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The Brotherhood of the Knife

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Brotherhood of the Knife attacking Ultramarines vehicles[3]

The Brotherhood of the Knife is a Chaos cult in service to the Word Bearers Traitor Legion. Their name in Colchisian was Ushmetar Kaul, literally translated into Low Gothic as "sharp edge by which false reality may be slit and pulled away to reveal god".[2]

The cult played a major part in the Battle of Calth during the Horus Heresy,[1a] being largest and most effective Cultists utilized by Chaos forces at Calth.[4]


The cult formed at least years before the start of the Horus Heresy; it eventually fell under control of the Word Bearers who used it as part of their private armies. The Brotherhood of the Knife recruited its ranks from a variety of sources, including Imperial Army members.[1a] By the later Great Crusade, the cult often fought alongside the Word Bearers in compliance actions, earning a reputation as fanatical and brutal force. However, the Imperium did not yet recognize the Brotherhood's feral rituals for what they truly were.[4]

At Calth, the cult was deployed under the guise of Imperial Army light infantry formations.[4] Before the battle's start, they conducted human sacrifices to infest Calth's defenses with scrapcode and to prepare for daemonic incursions.[2] They conducted several massed attacks on the Ultramarines defending strategic positions after the Word Bearers' initial attack, including the 21st Company guarding the railway approach to Numinus City.[1a] Although they were not well-disciplined, their numbers and suicidal tactics caused several grave casualties among the Ultramarines, weakening them in advance of the assault by Chaos Space Marines.[1a][1b][1c][1c][1d] They became infamous for their atrocities committed against Ultramar civilians, and were noted for their rampant human sacrifices of captured loyalits, non-combatants, and even fellow cult members. Overall, they were a major asset to the Word Bearers at Calth, both in the military as well as occult functions.[4]

The Brotherhood of the Knife still exists 10,000 years later, and recently fought alongside the Word Bearers in the Talledus War.[5]


By the time of the Battle of Calth, the Brotherhood was split into 10 to 20 sub-sects, with each fielding about 10,000 militants.[4] Its members wore long robes, as if in parody of ancient monastic orders,[1a] and often painted or carved Chaos symbols into their skin. Despite their feral behavior, the cult's members were judged by the Imperium to be highly capable fighters.[4]

The Brotherhood appears to be obsessed with Chaos rituals, especially those involving human sacrifices, with the cult members even ritually killing themselves on many occasions,[4] considering such acts holy.[2] Using special, Warp-tainted blades, the cultists effectively feed daemons when killing their victims, thereby allowing breaches between the material realm and the Warp.[4] Many Brotherhood cultists practised cannibalism.[4]

Known members

See Also