The Scythes Essential Reading Guide


I have been playing catch up with all the Sothan activity that has sprung up of late in the last 18 months (stated 2015) . For a hobbyist whom has played the Scythes of the Emperor Astartes for 20 years – it has been heedy times indeed.

In an effort to reflect my readings and provide a resource for all my Sothan brothers; below is a list of must read short stories by Richard Williams and L J Goulding, two men shaping our Chapter’s future by chapters among mentions in works by Dan Abnett and Guy Hayley. Personal notes and observations below, including colour panels where appropriate.

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Black Library Reading List (In Order)

‘Unremembered Empire’ – Dan Abnett (Horus Heresy series novel; Sotha origins)
‘A Safe and Shadowed Place’
– Guy Hayley (Horus Heresy series novel; Sotha beacon causing a hidden Chaos fleet troubles)

The Heart of the Pharos - L J Goulding, Audio Drama
‘Pharos’ – Guy Hayley (Horus Heresy series novel; Sotha beacon is set upon by the Night Lords)
‘The Aegidan Oath’ – L J Goulding
The Shadow of the Beast’ – L J Goulding
‘The Blood of Sotha’, Renegades of the Dark Millenium -L J Goulding

Heloth
– L J Goulding

‘Slaughter at Giants Coffin’ L J Goulding, the defining last stand of the Scythes on Miral.
Orphans of the Kraken – Richard Williams (Additional review here, and background here)
‘Reclamation’ – L J Goulding (One of print for limited run, still seeking a copy.)
‘Daedalus’ Audio Drama, Battle on Miral L J Goulding (Additional review here and here.)
‘Terminal Velocity’ L J Goulding, short fiction (Additional review here)
‘Last Watch’ Deathwatch Xeno Hunters - L J Goulding
Dark Millenium – Guy Haley

The Scythes, A Factual History- A studied document on the Scythes, before any new background. Produced and written by Andrew Taylor and Sebastian Stuart, 2009. It was an effort to coordinate all Scythes fiction, which then became research and backdrop used by Richard Wiliam’s ‘Orphans of the Kraken’

Extensive character and historical notes can be reviewed on the excellent resource at Lexicanum, Scythes of the Emperor.

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The Books
(Spoilers ahead – Read only for background notes)


The Unremembered Empire
Robute Gulliman sets up a second Imperium, using a strange beacon discovered on Sotha to guide all allies to Ultramar.

Key things of note:
Excerpts and paraphrasing – From: Dan Abnett. “The Unremembered Empire.” Pg. 35, 36

Initially overlooked during the Great Expansion era of the Imperium, Sotha was finally colonised 127 years before the Horus Heresy.

Robute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines, led the expedition fleets of Ultramar to Sotha, which he had always considered a curiosity: if there was one geo-type almost guaranteed to have been settled during the outward expansion of the Great Age of Technology, it was the rare and precious Terra-comparable planets. There was no evidence that any human presence had reached Sotha, not even a colony that had been established and then died out.

Considered a jewel of a world, one of the few Terra-comparable ecosystems discovered so far out in the galactic east. It possessed living oceans and densely forested, mountainous landmasses. There were lower-level animal-forms, avians and insects. Curiously, there were no higher forms, nor any obvious trace of attempted xenos visitation or colonisation.

Then the surveyors learned the truth about Mount Pharos, the tallest of all the peaks in the planet’s majestic mountain ranges. Plans for full colonisation were put on hold. A small agri-colony was approved instead, to be based on Sotha in support of a survey mission of archaeologists and xenoculturists assigned to Mount Pharos to study ancient quantum pulse engines which later revealed to be communication nodes and beacons which could illuminate other planets, such as the warp storm shrouded Utramar at this time, with possibility of more nodes to be found throughout the region of space.

Origins of the Scythes:
A dedicated company of Ultramarines, the 199th (Aegida Co.), was assigned to Sotha as permanent protection, and the world was given the classification ‘restricted’. The astartes took pride in their duty and later adopted a symbol upon their pauldron related to those they protected, the scythe wielding agriculturalists of Sotha, upon the slopes of Pharos. (Page 37)

A ritual of clearing the area about the research site on Mt Pharos for over a century was the precept for the use of the Scythe symbol:

“This simple, rural tradition, dating back over a hundred years, had given rise to the protection company’s choice of icon.”(Page 42)

Cultural Notes:
Early sothans used psaltery instruments, a form of horizontal harp and violin cross-instrument.

Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team

A Safe and Shadowed Place
Renegade Marines return to their favourite hideaway in the Sothan system; discovering the power of the Beacon first hand.

Key things of note:
We see that the energy pulse, moving faster than light (but consisting of light) damages sensors, wipes servitors and causes humans much pain, the Renegade marines get headaches and even nose bleeds. This short story of recovering scattered Night Lords, looks set to lead into an invasion story surrounding Sotha.

Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team

Heart of the Pharos
Young Oberdeii and Tebecai, Scouts of the Ultramarines 199th Company, descend into the depths beneath Mount Pharos in search of a dark truth… though it may haunt them for all time.

 Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team


Pharos
Roboute Guilliman, still Master of Ultramar, has convinced his brother that Terra has fallen and that the mysterious Mount Pharos on Sotha now holds the key to mankind’s future. But the Night Lords, those cruel and pitiless sons of Konrad Curze, have been watching from the shadows, and make ready to launch their long-planned attack on the Pharos itself.

Key things of note:

Local militia made of members of the League protected the surrounds of the Pharos. They fight alongside the Ultramarine Legion that is set as ward over the Pharos device.

Origins of the Scythes: WIP

The Crossed Scythes is a campaign badge for the 199th Ultramarine Legion to signify the repulsion of the Night Lords attack which ended in their destruction, but also the end of the Pharos beacon. This final energetic burst would be noted by the Tyranid hive fleets and eventually bring them down upon Sotha (Kraken).

Cultural Notes: TBA

Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team


The Aegidan Oath
Centuries after the Great Heresy, the Ultramarines return to Sotha to erase Roboute Guilliman’s greatest mistake, by dealing with the venerable Captain Oberdeii once and for all…

Key things of note:

Sothopolis is an ordered coastal coastal city, some kilometers away is a freight terminals of Odessa.
Pharos is very prominant on the skyline, looming larger than the Blackrock ranges.
Locals farm Quarians and live about the surrounds of the Pharos. The forests are full of Quicktrees and the ground still tremors.

The Aegida Castellum sits on the upper slopes of Pharos, built during the Horus Heresy, ravaged by traitor assault (Night Lords) and never fully rebuilt since.

The Emperor’s Watch is a Promintory off the upper peak of Pharos. From here you can see the Blackrock ranges, forests and past Odessa onto the Chrepan region.

Origins of the Scythes:

This uncovers the origins of the Sothan Chapter and the final task of Brother-Captain Oberdeii,  Warden of Pharos and commander of the Ultramarines Aegida Co. (A phantom 11th Co. of the reorganised Ultramarines Chapter post heresy) He is the sothan scout we have followed in many stories. Now known as the Old man on the Mountain his tanned form bearing crossed scythes in golden tattoo across his chest. Oberdeii sees himself as the Last Lightkeeper (Of Pharos’ beacon) and an Oath to Roboute Gulliman.

A farmer (Benvis) who guide Ultramarine envoy, comments the last Scout to train here were many years ago when he was a younger man. Implying it could be 40-50yrs since Oberdeii had Astartes company.

The Chapter icon is further remarked as: “..the noble Sothan martyrs that it represented, the soldiers who had been farmers, and who always intended to be so once again.”

Chaplain Segas and Brother Wenlocke with 72 veterans of the Orlan Conquest would make up the Aegida Chapter, successor to the Ultramarines during the third founding. Regardless Oberdeii is wary of Roboute waking to find this new Chapter and his oath broken. He also puts word for all of Sotha to raise swords and join the Chapter.

Barabas Dantoichs’ Skull Helm resides, enshrined within the Pharos Mountain tunnels.

Cultural Notes: 

Sothans are quite independant and rather irreverant to authority, they respect it but are not enthralled by mere presence. Personally I suspect an element of laconic attitude, dry wit and sharp observation. This is not unlike the Spartans where this attitude was so name after (Laconis).

Sotha is largely a pastoral world with a rudimentary but skilled militia and local legends about Pharos and the war that was waged within, it has been kept this way on purpose not to draw attention to the Pharos then and even now.

 Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team

Shadow of the Beast
We meet Fifth Company Captain Theodosius.

We are shown ‘The Salute of the Reaper’, Right fist over primary heart, then arm extended outward. The protective nature of Scythe Astartes to their honored Chapter serfs and Security. We also see how the Scythes learned how to fight the Tyranids the hard way, and the sheer scale of the invasion coming for Sotha; ensuring a grim toll indeed. Sotharan League planet Egottha mentioned.

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Blood of Sotha:

The thoughts of Brother-Captain Vosok Dali, Lord Executioner of the Scythes, 8th Company; whilst an assassin lurks upon their escaping ship.

Notes:
Aegida, a major Orbital above Sotha.
Mount Pharos (first introduced in Unremembered Empire) now holds training grounds for Sothan neophytes.
Landing Fields are at the capital of Odessa.
Two Handed Power Scythe is a Weapon of Office for Company Captains.
A Power Falx is in use by a Scythes Astartes.

Sothans are noted for a perceived arrogance toward Sotharan League off-worlders, neophytes recruited and intially trained at Tributary Outposts throughout the Sotharan League Worlds. This has strong tones of the Spartan attitude to conscripted warriors of the Greek States about them and even their own militia. Personally I wonder if LJ Goulding is gaining some inspiration from this history, given the strong Greek themes about the Scythes.

Named Worlds:
- Radnar
- Beremin (Bastion in the Icy Highlands)(Bronzed Power Axe a weapon of choice)
- Egottha (Scythes’ First Chapter Chaplain Segas is enshrined there)

Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team


Heloth
Scythes of the Emperor Marines of the Second company fallback from an attempt to secure the fallen Hiveship, Heloth, on the Death World Miral.

Key things of note:
The Second Company, their banner pictured in Tyranid Attack imagery, uses a rider upon the horse, Conabos, before a checkered field. In Greek history Conabos (Tumult) was a horse of four that pulled Ares’ chariot in war. (Alongside Aithon, Phlogios and Phobos). Could this be a indication of Company banners using Greek Horse companions as Company motifs? (Edit: Confirmed as of Slaughter at Giant’s Coffin)

We also learn of power falx again, and the quickly initiated Scythes (An Apothecary appears to be but ten years out of the Scout (10th) Co.) In addition, reverence is given over to ‘The Horsemen of Sotha’, possible agricultural references and warriors of ancient Sotha, ala Pharos period.

Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team


Slaughter at Giant’s Coffin – L J Goulding
We witness the defining moment of the Scythes at Giant’s Coffin on Miral.

Key things of note:

239 Known Scythes Astartes arrived in Miral post Sotha. (with exception to Chapter Master Thorcyra’s Expedition 1st+2nd Co.)

The Scythes were running recruitment and training operations on Miral for the last nine cycles, before the recall to Sotha pre-Kraken attack.

We read Thorcyra has a slight glory glitch, often choosing fatalistic directions for the Scythes. When many say consolidate and fall back, he believes they can endure and set up on Miral, despite evidence to the contrary. Many marines are despondant and even some outright going feral. It is an interesting story exploring the limits of respresenting marines on the back foot. Personally I have mixed feeling about how far Astartes can be pushed into depression of mania due to heavy psychological and even biological conditioning.

There is a lot of information about how under strength (if it mattered) Sotha was due to several companies being away crushing a Genestealer cult uprising. Also there is much illusion to an sub plot involving Forgemaster Sebastion. This could be working toward the 40 veterans being sent to the Deathwatch event in trade for geneseed. I will post more on Slaughter at a later date.

Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team



Orphans of the Kraken – Richard Williams

The Scythes investigate a dying hiveship seeking any lost Astartes within. Read more here.

 Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team


Reclamation
Reclamation is a short story by L.J. Goulding. It was published in Space Marines: Angels of Death (Anthology) in October, 2013.

We meet Bokari, a neophyte as he brings salavged armor to Forgemaster Sebastion, they discuss the finds amidst Sebastion’s workshop and even discard useless elements. Of note there are three operational Terminator suits and a fourth under construction after Bokari finds a torso and arm. It is an interesting piece showing the thoughts of the New Blood into the Chapter and a alternate view on recycling and throwing back what they find into the face of the Tyranid.

Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team


Daedalus
An Audio Drama penned by L.J. Goulding.

When a lone Apothecary is stranded with vital supplies of gene-seed that could secure new generations of the Scythes of the Emperor, a squad of his battle-brothers enact a daring mission to save him and safeguard their future. It’s a daring, dramatic tale of airborne action featuring the devastated remnants of the Scythes of the Emperor as they struggle for survival.

Key things of note:

We get to hear about how desperate and jury-rigged things are becoming for the Scythes. We learn of a Scythes War ship that has survived the Fall of Sotha. Some insight into Marine drop operations and the knowledge of their Tyrannic foes. A Scythes neophyte character makes a return appearance, now a full Initiate of the Scythes.

‘Daedalus’ Audio Drama, Battle on Miral L J Goulding (Additional review here and here.)
‘Terminal Velocity’ L J Goulding, short fiction (Additional review here)
piece which ties into Daedalus, as we learn the fate of a Scythe during the mission in the drama.

Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team

Last Watch
On the world of Phirus a lone Lictor lurks, aware it is being hunted..

A deep knowledge in Tyranid biology is shown. We meet Brother-Sergeant Marek Angeloi of the Deathwatch and an eagerness to return to the his Chapter to continue the fight waged upon the chittering hordes.

Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team

 

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About the Author

Site owner and creator, Sebastian has been updating and maintaining the Scythes of the Emperor webpage since 1997.