"The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep."
- Robert Frost
"Death is lighter than a feather, duty heavier than a mountain"
- Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors
Commander Luis Dante is the Chapter Master of the Blood Angels and the oldest living (non-Chaos, non-Primarch, non-Dreadnought) space marine. No one outside of the Blood Angels inner circle actually knows how old he is. All that is confirmed is that he has been the Chapter Master for at least 1100 years and new novel written by Guy Haley starts in 452.M40 with Dante as a child, so we know he's over 1,547 years old. Even Logan Grimnar can't remember a time before Dante. He has kicked the asses of uncountable xenos, mutants and heretics in countless wars upon countless worlds. He is the victor of count-von-countless campaigns and his deeds are indistinguishable from legend. He even (canonically this time) one-shotted Skarbrand back into the warp. Poor thing can't get a break.
He also has long, straight White bishounen hair down to his waist (usually tucked in to his armor and golden mask when on the battlefield,) if the Blood Quest comic series is to be believed. So less Elrond and more Thranduril/Lucius Malfoy. Old as hell but pretty as hell! Just as a spehss vampire should be.
In the novels and the rest of the fluff, he's generally portrayed as a stern but kind fatherly figure to the chapter, who's a good guy and isn't afraid of anything. In an interesting bit of humanization, his Warlords info book makes it explicit that he became chapter master not because he was originally the strongest of his peers, but simply because after a campaign that left only two hundred Blood Angels remaining, he was the only senior officer that was still alive. Actually a running theme in the book, where it's stated that as an initiate competing to become a space marine, he wasn't particularly special either. He didn't achieve the most kills in the blood trials but neither did he bomb them (obviously). He was just crafty and intelligent. Traits earned from enough being a small kid born on Baal Secundus--and thriving in spite of it all. And in the golden sarcophagus, the priests feared for his sanity as he screamed incessantly through the transformation, even finding bloody claw marks from his nails coming off. And wrote him off as a future lost cause.
Yet for all that (and possibly just to spite them) he become the leader that would lead the boys in red to their most glorious time since the scouring. That said, a chapter master capable of surviving the climb to 1,100 years of experience is definitely extremely capable of laying out copious amounts of whoop-ass, and Dante has most assuredly matured with his position.
It's common knowledge as well, unlike some Chapter Masters who try to hog all the glory, Dante is more than happy to dole out praise, respect and honour where it's due with an astounding humility for an Imperial commander, let alone an astartes Chapter master. He showed it best at the Second War for Armageddon. After fighting off countless Orks for longer than anyone his age should have to. Alongside other Chapters such as the Salamanders, Ultramarines and Marines Malevolent--during which all imperial forces including Salamanders Chapter Master Tu'shan AND Marneus Calgar of the Ultramarines both bowed before Dante's knowledge and allowed him to be overall commander of the Astartes forces, he got Tu'shan up in front of all the assembled Astartes and publicly honoured him for his actions throughout the campaign. This, of course, made Tu'shan go a crimson shade of black after senpai noticed him, since Salamanders don't really care for medals or commendations, but they really fucking love being told they did a good job by their equals. Since then, the Salamanders and Blood Angels have been tighter bros than they already were, and Tu'shan actually sent a squad of Terminator-clad Firedrakes back to Baal to act as an honour guard for the fallen Captain Tycho. Salamanders were always compassionate motherfuckers towards the lesser mortals, and seeing the Blood Angels take civilian casualties into consideration during the Armageddon campaign did a lot for their Chapter brothership, unlike some other Chapters we could name...
In the new Dante book by Guy Haley it details his childhood and his ascension to where he is now. His heart is good and noble without coming off as a mary sue. He was weaker than most boys, and displayed signs of selfishness--abandoning his father in the middle of the night to cross the sand dunes of Baal Secundus and nearly dying not even half-way there. Hell, he only lived because the Sanguinor himself appeared and pointed the way to life saving water. And another kid drank the thirst water and got Indiana Jonesed to dust in a most gruesome fashion after his traveling party got altitude sickness. He even only got to Angel Falls by sheer luck after he nearly broke every bone in his body.
His biggest strength and ultimate point of character, is his heart. When it came to his final test, the High Chaplain of the time pitted him against his best and only friend. And when he found himself getting the better of him, he pulled a Luke Skywalker and threw down his staff and told the Chaplain to stuff it. To which the Chaplain gave him a pass--clearing the most treacherous test of all, one called the Trial of Horus.
He retained his heart (hearts?) when he became a marine. At the Tender age of ~200 or so he accidentally slew the band of survivors he was supposed to be protecting as they led him to safety--his blood rising to a boil as he fought off the advance of the Purge Chaos warband. After that he swore off the partaking of blood save for sacrimental rituals. Which doesn't sound like much. But to a chapter with the Blood Angels' particular...quirks, and the fact that the only way to temporarily sate the undying thirst inside them is to drink blood (be it mixed in wine, broth, or just really raw meat) is like a neckbeard going without Mt. Dew for an hour. And he SUFFERS for it. He has to try different things at all hours just to keep his mind off of it. Reduced to counting blood drop rubies in a bowl just to concentrate through a war council.
He also worked with a Necron army to defeat a Tyranid hive fleet. But it came to light later that while the official records say they had mutually decided not to jump each other afterwards. Truthfully the Necrons duped the Blood Angels after Dante tried to ice the Silent King. Though, in a bro-tier move, the Silent king sent Anrakyr to back up the Blood Angels, and conveniently save a dormant Tomb World but that's neither here nor there. Instead of fucking off after he got what he came for, the Traveller helped the offensive against the Tyranids by aiding the boys in red in BLOWING UP AN ENTIRE STAR SYSTEM--presumably because the Silent King isn't an idiot, and knows to be a king, you still need subjects after you've conquered.
Not only that, he made sure to stay behind and get all the guardsmen that had defended the system out first, and on his flagship he made a point to celebrate them, the humans, for the heroes they were. He treated their General and the Sister Superior like equals within the chapter council and the guardsmen like fellow astartes, and prepared a feast for them so that the blood angels could celebrate their heroism. He especially treats his personal serf and the chapter equerry like a close personal friend. Something that's rare even in the 'nice' chapters. Only The Great Wolf himself could boast the same.
Who says only the Space Wolves can throw a party.
Also, Dude's mad old. Like Reeeeeaaaaal fuckin' old.
His hair has gone all white and his face, while still Blood Angel Brand Beautiful, is more like a silver fox kind of beautiful--with many lines creasing his face from the years and stress. He's exhausted, and given more to the Imperium than anyone could be asked to give and he still does it. He keeps going because that's what it means to be a Son of Sanguinius
Logan Grimnar and Tu'Shan are the most beloved chapter masters by the common folk of the Imperium easily, because of their compassion and caring for the common man, and Marneus Calgar is the most respected by imperial commanders for...Reasons. Dante is still seen as as a figure of awe, a golden god, and the greatest simply because ~1,500 years of service speaks for itself. He is literally a man become legend, a much needed beacon of hope.
He remarks to himself in the novel that for the past 1100 years or so, he's not been himself. By taking up the mask of Sanguinius, he also took on that aspect. A symbol, a protector, in a time where they most desperately need it. The novel gives a unique spin to being the Chapter Master of the Blood Angels. To be Chapter Master means to give up oneself, to join a brotherhood of Chapter Masters that took up the mantle of Sanguinius ever since the great Angel Fell. The death mask, and the rest of the wargear, all worn by each Lord of the Angelic hosts until Dante himself had it thrust upon it. Because of it, he feels very weary, very alone and very very sad. But he keeps on carrying forward. Shoulders squared, until he is called upon for his final duty.
Did we mention he's getting too old for this shit.
Sanguinius' Vision of the End Times (AKA Why he'll always carry on)
In the plot, Sanguinius made a prophecy that there would be some great battle that would kick the asses of all others and that there would be a great, golden warrior standing between the Emperor and the darkness. Dante believes that this golden warrior is him and despite many thinking that it is pure hubris that motivates the thought--Truthfully he only clings onto it as his own personal motivator. Dante is tired, and he's seen nearly all the horrors the universe could throw at him. And he personally has almost completely run out of hope. He has seen the Blood Angels at their highest highs and their lowest lows and he knows that humanity is headed for its darkest moments, and the only thing that gives him strength to don his armour and continue to fight against the evils the universe has shat at them, is that one final duty that he feels he has yet to perform before he can kick it. In the new novel it actually got put into words
"I fear what I have seen. My visions plague me with darkness. So little of comfort can be gleaned from them. The consequences of our victory are dire indeed, as I have described in these writings, and yet there are some things I cannot bring myself to record, visions so dark that they fill my heart with despair. The dreams of my father are dead, that is certain. Long aeons await of war and suffering that would break the heart of the Emperor to perceive. He never showed any sign that He saw the dark future advancing towards us. Does He know? I cannot credit that He does not. My gift of foresight – if gift it can truly be named – descends from His, and His is more potent than I can conceive. Time and again I have asked myself, did He always know, and did He foresee all that has come to pass? Or was He, like me, taken unawares? The brighter future I once saw has been burned to ashes and a second, rotten potentiality raised in its place. I curse you, Horus, I curse you to the end of days.I have written too often on these matters. I still cannot divine the answer. I shall instead write down my dream of last night. This brought some comfort to me when no comfort ought to be expected, and is thus worthy of record. Dante unrolled the scroll, exposing the next page.
There shall come to pass days of great darkness, when mankind is diminished and all the lights of the world shall be extinguished, and the final scraps of hope torn away. I dreamed I was upon a plain of black sand studded with diamond stars. In the dream there was a great hunger that pervaded all time and space, a more terrible and consuming appetite than the thirst that dogs my sons. It rose from the east of the night, and swallowed the moons of Baal that coursed across the unfamiliar sky. Before Baal Secundus was consumed, a bright light flashed upon it and sped away, outpacing the shadows.The hunger spread rapidly, bloated by its meal of my home. Fortified by the blood of Baal, the formless hunger took shape, becoming a ravenous dragon that consumed the stars in great mouthfuls, until the only light was the memory of their glory, trapped in the diamonds on the sand. As the last star was eaten, the hellish Octed of the traitors burned through the western sky, writ in fire on the starless void. Then this too went out, and I was alone in the dark.
Shadows swirled and parted. The vision lost its disguise of metaphor, and I looked upon a scene that may be a true echo of the future. I saw my father. Ruined. Broken. I knew it was Him, though His body was little more than a corpse, for I could feel His mind. His power was much reduced in potency, and I could feel no sense of consciousness there, merely raging, ungoverned power that threatened to obliterate my sleeping mind. This living corpse of my father was trapped in machinery that fed His soul the essence of others. I do not know if I should commit this to paper, even in my private writings. He cannot ever know of this fate, if He does not already. Or is He aware, and makes this choice between that life in death and the utter destruction of mankind? If so, my respect for my father grows. As the guns of the Warmaster pound at the walls of the Palace, perhaps this miserable reality is the best that can be hoped for. Perhaps this is what I must die to ensure. The hunger came for my father. The puppets of the Dark Gods clashed with the hunger for the pleasure of killing Him. There was a warrior in gold before the throne, surrounded by my father’s Custodians and other heroes who, mighty though they were, paled next to the lords of our days. There they fought, and there they died. The vision ended as the devourer of flesh and the devourers of souls closed in on my lord and creator. There was despair only, despair and more despair. But before I woke something more. I sensed stirring in the warp, and the touch of my father, His mind made anew, and the knowledge that all might be well.
As I am fated to, so too did this golden warrior lay down his life to protect my father. The precious seconds he bought with his blood could change everything, or they could change nothing. Maybe the vision is false. I pray the future is mutable, and so it has proved in the past. All but the moment that draws near, the reckoning when I must face my brother. That I cannot avoid. I do not know who this golden warrior was. He appeared similar to my Herald, and I saw my own face depicted upon his mask, but he was not me, and he wore a form of armour I do not know. It is certain that he was one of my sons, and whether his sacrifice will prove to be in vain or not, I know this: that he was a noble warrior, true and purer than any of his age, and I love him for that, for it means that my works for the Emperor, at least, have not been undertaken in vain, and that my unavoidable death might also prove fruitful."
On the Tabletop
8th Edition Dante!
Commander Dante himself, one of the big three, and damn does it show. As of 8th Edition, he's has changed. First off, his ability to hit or shoot anything on a flat 2+ is a great buff, but when combined with his Chapter Master ability which allows him and other units with the Blood Angels keyword within 6" to reroll failed hits, he and any force he accompanies quickly become a terror to behold. His Death Mask now inflicts a -1 modifier to enemy leadership for units within 3" of him. Keep in mind that the day one FAQ released says that these penalties stack, so slap him with a 5-man Sanguinary Guard squad all with death masks, and you have enemies suffering from a -6 penalty to their leadership holy shit.
As befitting of the oldest and most fabulous space vampire, he is no slouch in combat and has some great equipment. He comes with an inferno pistol that still has a 6" range, but it's an AP-4 weapon with D6 damage that gets to shoot while in melee. The Axe Mortalis has completely changed from seventh edition. It is now a S+2 AP-3 axe that does D3 damage and can reroll failed wound rolls against characters. Throw him at enemy characters and laugh as you tear them down while rerolling failed hit and wound rolls. Did I mention he has 6 attacks now? With lucky rolls, that's a potential 18 damage inflicted on one character or 6 elite units being struck down by this stone cold pimp.
Sadly, this article has nothing to do with the titular writer of The Divine Comedy. Just because you wrote the first self-insertion fan-fiction does not mean that you get your own article on /tg/. Though he did inspire the modern version of hell, which lends itself to Planescape, Monstergirls and the Warp.
It also has nothing to do with the protagonist of the Devil May Cry series, who despite being the most awesome thing since sliced velociraptors, is both a Demon and a heretic by Imperium standards. Maybe a mutant, too, given the white hair. Never let the Inquisition near your video game collection, is what we're saying here.
Taking on a freaking Avatar of Khaine like a boss...