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The Crusader Host

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The Crusader Host was a group of Space Marines based within the Sol System during the Great Crusade.[1] The Host was comprised of representatives from all eighteen Legions. Their exact purpose is unknown. When news of the Horus Heresy reached Terra, Rogal Dorn had all members of the Host imprisoned, save for the Imperial Fist members.[2] Some time later, several members chose to escape; this small group became known as the Outcast Dead.[1]

At the host's Preceptory was an inscription reading In Hoc Officio Gloriam ("There is honour in this duty").[5]



Following word of Horus' rebellion and before the arrival of the Retribution Fleet to Isstvan V, Yasu Nagasena (a seer hunter of the Black Ships), his retinue, 3000 soldiers (Black Sentinels, Attaman Janissaries, and Lancers), and a squad of Custodians were sent to capture and imprison thirty members of the Crusader Host held up at the Preceptory, their headquarters on Terra. The building was highly ornate, decorated to honor the deeds of the Legions, and part of the Imperial Palace. Major General Maxim Golovka of the Black Sentinels wanted to rush the fortress, but Nagasena realized that it would be a mistake and approached the legionaries to persuade them to be imprisoned. As he makes his way to the building, Atharva of the Thousand Sons steps out, wearing only robes. The two begin to speak, with Atharva pointing out that the host would be insulted by so few troops brought to take them in.[1a] It was not bloodless; some of Tagore's men were killed during the capture,[1b] and Tagore himself killed 359 men.[1d]

The Khangba Marwu prison, aka "The Vault", was under the mountain Rakaposhi and kept those the Legio Custodes deemed a threat to the Emperor. It was an ancient location with an unknown origin, and it was filled with leaders from the Pan-Pacific war, the Ethnarch of the Caucasus Wastes, an individual known as the "First Emperor", one known as "Reaper", Uilleam the Red (since executed), Kibuka (who defeated Uilleam), and others. The prison itself was being altered to create a cell that would hold Horus. The legionaries were held in Primus Block Alpha-One-Zero, whose guard was the Custodian Uttam Luna Hesh Udar. The cell had multiple points of checks to ensure only the proper individual could enter or leave, and autocannon turrets stood ready to fire upon anyone who did not belong[1b] and almost a hundred turrets that would spray fire lined the cavern.[1d]

Dorn revealed to Word Bearer 34th Company Captain Sor Talgron that all of the representatives from the Imperial Fists were freed and joined the other members of their Legion in defending the walls of the Imperial Palace. Additionally, Dorn secreted released into Talgron's custody Volkhar Wreth, the lone representative of the Word Bearers, to be sent with the 34th Company to join their fellows as part of a Retribution Fleet sent to the Isstvan System.[2a] Before they left the planet, Talgron and Dark Apostle Jarulek lured Wreth into an abandoned chamber and then sacrificed him, removing his heart and replacing it with a demon. He was then left behind to be unleashed years later when Terra was invaded. Additionally, the Word Bearers left behind explosives that would cause an overload of the psychic wards and black out the astropathic choir after causing a lot of damage and mayhem. The 34th Company then joined the other Word Bearers in their Shadow Crusade.[2c]

Outcast Dead Escape

Before the escape, Udar entered the cell block with a group of veteran soldiers from Terran forces with prisoner containment related weaponry. Udar disdained the use of humans, but knew that many of the Custodians were sent on a mission with the Space Wolves to Prospero for an unstated reason. The soldiers were used to transport a nutrient supply to the legionary prisoners. Once inside, they were met by inside guard Custodian Sumant Giri Phalguni Tirtha. Once inside, Tirtha operated a lever that allowed the soldiers to be transported via a platform across an open cavern to the cells stationed upon an island. With the right action, the island could be dropped into the depths of the planet.[1b]

Months had passed since first being taken, and Atharva was secretly able to use his psychic powers to monitor the attempts to remove information from Kai Zulane's head placed there as a result from the attempt by Magnus the Red to commune with the Emperor regarding Horus' betrayal. Atharva also communed with the human soldiers sent into the prison, slowly swaying them to his will. Knowing that he had to escape to unlock the message in Zulane's head, he tapped into the mind of the guard Natraj from the Uralian Stormlords.[1c] The cave became chilly and rain began to fall within the prison, and Tirtha revealed the superstition to Udar that it rained once before when the only prisoner to ever escape did so. When they returned their attention, the soldiers delivering food, including Natraj, had a mishap with their cargo and began to fight. Udar elasticized both, and Udar went on high alert, unsettled by the omens.[1d]

Udar brought the soldiers to feed Tagore first, who was angrily pacing like a beast, feeling the effect of the butcher's nails. Udar then approached Atharva, who was standing with his lips moving. Udar brought his guardian spear up and realized that Atharva's eyes were changed, prompting him to call for the soldiers to retreat. Before Udar could move, Tirtha was blasted by Natraj who used a plasma gun, and Udar then killed Natraj. Others began to fire on Udar, and the Custodian quickly dispatched them but they were highly organized and working together. One managed to hit Udar with a sticky substance that slowed him down and bound his spear arm. Before he could kill the last, the soldier Tejas Doznya of the Uralian Stormlords used Tirtha's ring to unlock Tagore's cell. Tagore went to fight Udar as Doznya fried Atharva. Atharva then cleaned the ring of the Custodian's blood, absorbing knowledge from it, then had Doznya open five of the twelve remaining cells.[1d]

Udar and Tagore fought, and Tagore managed to break the guardian spear during the brawl. The match was originally in Udar's favor, being armored, but Tagore's rage allowed him to overcome the pain of blows and beat Udar into submission and opened a hole in his chest. Before Tagore could finish it, Atharva tried to stepped in, having need of the Custodian to escape. However, Tagore still pulled part of Udar's spine through the hole. Atharva was forced to remove Udar's head,[1d] and the weapons of the cavern began to fire upon them. Atharva entered into Udar's mine, seeking a way to stop the weapon fire, reanimating the dead Custodian with the power of the warp. He then altered his own cell structure with his powers to mimic Udar's, and he was able to use the knowledge to order the guns to disengage with Udar's voice.[1e]

Atharva led Tagore, Asubha, Subha, Gythua, Kiron, and Severian from the facility after Tagore and Subha made weapons from the broken guardian spears while Severian took a blade from a dead soldier. Tagore questioned how they escaped, and Atharva hid his psychic powers and feigned just being a good mimic. Once they made it from the island, Atharva had to use Udar's head once more to get past the autocannon turrets, ordering the guns to be destroyed once they temporarily powered down. Coming to a final door, Atharva was able to use the last of the preserved life in Udar's head to open it. Once escaped, they headed to free Zulane to complete Atharva's mission.[1e]

War Within the Webway

As the War Within the Webway was failing and the Emperor's forces withdrew to the Impossible City, the Custodians recruited reinforcements. Due to his injuries, Blood Angel Zephon was not imprisoned like the others and was allowed to continue his duties recording the dead. Custodian Diolcetian recruited him on recommendation of the Sigillite, and together they traveled to the Seberakan Isolation Compound where those who fought for the Warmaster were kept imprisoned.[5]


Only 14 of the Crusader Host were held in the Khangba Marwu prison according to Atharva, and, of those, only seven escaped.[1d] One, the Word Bearer, was secretly freed on order of Dorn, but he was probably not counted by Atharva, and the two Imperial Fists were not imprisoned with the others.[2a] Cayne later served as a Knight-Errant after being freed from the prison,[3a] and Crius was sent to recruit other Iron Hands after the same.[4] Below are the known members of the Crusader Host at the time of the Horus Heresy according to the Praeceptoria roll dated 788005.M31 of the Crusader Host.[2b]

The list includes their eventual fates where known, but only 12 were fully identified and accounted for, 7 were left imprisoned after the Outcast Dead escaped with only Cayne and Crius being identified and Wreth having been freed before then, and 13 are completely unknown as to where they were held. Only 12 were members of the Traitor Legions, leaving only 3 of the Traitor Legions unaccounted for: