Darius Cyaxares

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Darius Cyaxares
Darius Cyaxares.jpg
Discovered (world)


Discovered (period)






Distinguishing Traits




Horus Heresy role



Walked into the wastes of Kumul

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Darius Cyaxares was the Primarch of the Eighteenth Legion, which he named the Sand Keepers. He bore the gift of prophecy and was a formidable general, inspiring his men to feats others would have found impossible. Darius is particularly well-remembered for his heroism during the Siege of Terra, but he also played an important role during the reformation of the Imperium.


Like all of the Emperor's sons, Darius towered over mortal men and Space Marines alike. The Primarch had tanned skin and a athletic, well-muscled body. Due to exposure to the warp as a babe, his eyes are pure silver like pools of liquid metal. His face has a timeless youth, giving him an otherworldly appearance. The Primarch's hair is thick and dark, shorn along the sides of his head with the rest gathered into a pony tail that fell just below his neck. He usually wore the long loosely fitted robes of his adoptive people, the Gosheni and favoured muted colours. Darius spurned jewelry, his only ornament being golden rings looped in his hair. Yet in times of war his panoply was awe-inspiring. Darius favoured close-fitted, streamlined artificer armour in burnished gold colour, rather than the radiant gold of the Emperor and his custodes. His chosen arms were Shimti, a potent Force weapon in the shape of the Simurghian Axe, and Manāt, an ancient heavy bolter that mighty Darius wielded one-handed. He was well-accustomed to the jetpack and jetbike, but never became reliant on their maneuverability, claiming, "I have learnt to fight with my hands and feet alike."

Darius is a philosophical yet judicious man. Due to his vision and upbringing he has the bearing of a prophet, though he has cast off religion in favour of the Imperial Truth. His patience and mental discipline were astonishing, even among the Primarchs, and it is said that he never raised his voice in anger. If his character was flawed, it was by inaction. Darius' visions gave him a far greater perspective on the course of the future than any of the Primarchs - indeed, his foresight was among the most powerful of any being in the Imperium - but he was often loathe to intervene, fearing that he would cause greater troubles than those that his visions had revealed.

He enjoys visiting and counselling his brothers, as their father once counselled him. He often quotes various proverbs and challenges his brothers to think outside the box when they are presented with difficult decisions which annoyed more than a few of them. Nonetheless, he embraces his brothers' individuality. On occasion he will provide them with cryptic prophecies, though he knows that whatever he can see is already set in stone. While he tries to maintain a humble disposition, many are unsettled when they look into his warp tainted eyes, or feel he is looking down on them with his riddles. Darius' calm and even temper disarmed the normally acrid Gaspard Lumey, and the two would become close friends during the Great Crusade. Due to their close association during the Reformation, Darius and Arelex Orannis would forge a somewhat difficult friendship. Both greatly admired the other's abilities, but their manners were often at odds.


Darius Cyaxares was one of the thirty Primarchs created in the Emperor's laboratory deep beneath the Himalayzian Mountains. As he and his brothers gestated in their pods, the malfeasance of the Ruinous Powers stole away all save Hektor and sent tumbling through the Warp. Lost to the Emperor and tumbling beyond space and time, Darius Cyaxares' containment pod was damaged and the infant awakened to gaze upon the madness of the Immateria. The sight forever changed his eyes, leaving them sightless pools of shifting, liquid silver.

The outskirts of Pulvar and the wastes of Simurgh

Darius' damaged capsule crashed nearby the hive Pulvar on the planet Simurgh. Aristocrats and merchants of Pulvar were busy with their amusements and noticed nothing. The soldiers saw the light in the sky and decided it was a problem for the aviators, the aviators saw the object falling towards the ground and thought the soldiers would deal with it. Pulvar's workmen heard the crash, but were busy with their duties. It was only the Gosheni - the tinkers and scavengers of Simurgh - who came out to investigate. The band that laid claim to Darius' pod were well-pleased at their find, thinking that the valuable materials could slowly be sold off to fill their bellies. All were surprised to hear the soft cooing of an infant from within, and immediately began a discussion of to do with him. Some felt that he would only be a liability to the group. But dark-haired Bithia declared that the infant had been sent from the heavens to replace the one she had lost that same day, and those who had wished Darius gone from their ranks were too ashamed to deny her.

For a time, Bithia boasted of the heaven-sent nature of her adopted son and her kin were skeptical. Yet the more perceptive of the Gosheni took note that Darius was perhaps even more extraordinary than his mother claimed. Just a month after being rescued from his containment pod, Darius resembled was the size of a four year-old and spoke with the fluency and insight of an adult. This swift maturation and prodigy soon convinced all who met him that the child was something supernatural. Many wondered at how his blindness hindered him little, for his other senses were extraordinarily sharp. More extraordinary still was his gift of prophecy. Darius' advice, though sometimes obscure, came to be sought out throughout Pulvar until the Hive's ruler, Ashpenaz the Golden, summoned the Primarch for an audience. Unlike the others who had requested the Primarch's advice Ashpenaz was not accustomed to asking for anything. He simply demanded that Darius serve him directly as a seer and in any other capacity the tyrant desired.

Darius rejected Ashpenaz, telling the tyrant, "It is not my fate to serve you. We shall both render service unto my Father who dwells above, although only my sons will remember your name." This drove the autocrat into a rage and he had his guards drag the Emperor's son to the torture chamber. Though the Primarch could easily have slain his assailants, he meekly put himself in their hands and endured the lash and the rack for three days. At the end, the torturers of Pulvar could only report that they now wept whenever they thought of their old craft.

Cyber-gladiator of Pulvar

Asphenaz the Golden realised that Darius could not be broken, but did not yet think himself defeated. Resigned to destroying that which he could not possess, he had the Primarch thrown into a pit of cybernetically-deformed gladiators. These wretches were driven mad with the pain of their deadly implants, and Asphenaz had long used them to gain some amusement form the disposal of his enemies. Yet when the gates were thrown open and the cyber-gladiators goaded towards Darius, they walked towards him with their weapons lowered and knelt at his feet, worshipping the being whose presence eased their torment.

As Darius laid a soothing hand on one of the mutilated gladiators, Ashpenaz felt his own heart shrink in his chest. Although the tyrant was lord of Pulvar and it surrounds, his would-be victim, clad only in the patchwork robe of a Gosheni, had shown himself the master. Ashpenaz the Golden fell to his knees and begged Darius to forgive him, but the Primarch smiled warmly in response and denied the need. It had always been their fate to come together in this way.

Under the guidance of the Primarch, Ashpenaz sought to reform his laws and military. But conspirators among the aristocracy, jealous of their privileges, rose up to overthrow the old tyrant. Darius and his Gosheni family saw Ashpenaz smuggled out of Pulvar. A small group of their followers fled to the nearby hive Yathrib, where the Gosheni were many and the laws were lax. In the depths of Yathrib, Darius and Ashpenaz (now devoted to the Primarch) trained an army of outcasts to avenge the cruelties of Pulvar. Such an endeavour could not be kept entirely secret, even from so lax a regime as that of Yathrib, but Darius won the ordinary soldiers of the hive to his cause and they were glad to stay silent for him. After three months of preparation, Darius came to the Magistrix of Yathrib and informed her that she would now rule in the name of his Father. The outraged Magistrix ordered her men to throw out the upstart, but even her bodyguards had changed their loyalty.

From the victory at Yathrib, followed shortly by a campaign against Pulvar, Darius began to unify battered Simurgh. It is said that in this time the Primarch never raised his voice in anger, let alone struck another being. His presence and the miraculous deeds he performed swayed many to his side. Those who stood against Darius Cyaxares swiftly learned that the Goshenis' lives in the hidden places of the planet's underhives had taught them much about stealth, raiding, and manoeuvre, all skills that could be applied to warfare. The Gosheni struck from beneath without warning and seemed to disappear in an instant, a feat attributed to Darius' spiritual power.

The Coming of The Emperor[edit]

Unlike many of his warrior brothers, Darius did not rule in person. He anointed Ashpenaz the Golden as the Dictator of Simurgh, content with the title of "advisor". Few dared to question this regime, awed by the Primarch's power and welcoming the just rule of Ashpenaz. This enlightened despotism last until an even greater power arrived on the Hive World.

While Ashpenaz dealt with the day-to-day rule of Simurgh, Darius Cyaxares' visions of the future grew much more powerful. Storms of darkness roiled across the galaxy, clouding the light within the hearts of men. But the Eagle took flight from his nest and soared through space, kindling a human radiance to outshine the stars. Darius saw the Eagle arrayed in gold, and bearing his mighty spear and staff of office arrive on Simurgh and bear him away. And he saw hints of the Eagle in peril, but the Primarch's sight could not pierce the veil that the Adversary had placed upon this danger. The whispers of this last vision greatly troubled Darius. He spent much of his time in seclusion and meditation, attempting to finally break down the veil to the future and discover the identity of the Eagle's nemesis.

The Emperor of Mankind

The Emperor, too, was looking into the strands of fate. But His visions were focused on the fate of His long lost sons, and Simurgh came to loom large in His sight. The sign of a Primarch's hand was clear in this peaceful, obedient world, productive and harmonious yet still outside of the embrace of the Imperium. When the Great Crusade reached Simurgh's system the Emperor Himself landed upon the Hive World and went on foot with a host of his golden-armoured warriors to find Darius Cyaxares.

Ashpenaz the Golden had once been a fool, but the scales had been lifted from his eyes long ago. As soon as he heard the news of the Emperor's coming, he ordered his soldiers to welcome the starfarers and personally went to rouse Darius from his meditations, hastening the Primarch to meet the god-like being who had landed on Simurgh. The meeting was as subdued affair as was possible, with no bodyguards or courtiers present. Darius and Ashpenaz bade greeting to Hektor Cincinnatus and Arelex Orannis, who entered first as heralds of the Emperor. Darius Cyaxares' visionary sight showed him an image of Hektor at the head of the greatest army the Galaxy had ever seen, yet hollow and broken inside. He saw Arelex take wound after wound in defence of his sons, until his body was entirely replaced by machines. But when the Emperor himself entered, Darius saw no prophetic allegory. Once exposed to the healing light of his father, the Primarch's eyes returned to seeing the present world. Yet the glory of the Emperor was too much for the mortal eyes of Ashpenaz. From that day on, the old tyrant saw nothing but an after-image of humanity's master. He abdicated in favour of dark-haired Bithia, the woman who had adopted Darius, and went to his grave without a word of complaint.

There was no need for the reunited Father and son to argue. Darius Cyaxares put himself at the Emperor's disposal and the ruler of mankind was glad to appoint his son as the leader of the Eighteenth Legion, the Crimson Hawks. On their voyage back to Terra, the two would discuss many things, including Darius' troubling visions of a danger to the Imperium. Though the Emperor took his son seriously, he explained to Darius that the veil over the looming dangers was not placed there by an adversary, but represented the vagaries of fate. Whatever perils would be faced were not yet determined, and so could not be foreseen. Taking Darius into his confidence, the Emperor charged his son with preparing the Eighteenth Legion not for the conquest of the Galaxy, but the defence of that conquest against whatever peril would emerge.

The Great Crusade[edit]

See also: Sand Keepers
The Death World Kumul

Before taking command of the Sand Keepers, Darius Cyaxares travelled to the Death World Kumul and stayed in its wastes for a whole season. He disclosed his purpose only to the Emperor, and it must be assumed that the Master of Mankind had no objection to his son's activity.

In his first years as the Legion's commander, Darius greatly reshaped the Crimson Hawks, beginning by renaming them the Sand Keepers. The Primarch assumed command from the remarkable twin brothers, Aurus and Diatus Moelia, who had been stewards of his Legion for three years. On their first meeting, he warned them that they had little time left together. This prophecy that would come to pass the next year when Diatus Moelia was slain in an accident during the Legion's relocation to the Kumul.

Darius Cyaxares' foresight was also evident in the Legion's operations. His strategies were inscrutable but infallible, allowing the Sand Keepers to perform military miracles without the losses suffered by his brothers' men. Yet their overall contribution to the Great Crusade was far exceeded by many of the other Legions. On a visit to Ciban IV, Darius offered an explanation for the Sand Keepers' slow pace to his friend and brother Primarch Gaspard Lumey: "I have built a lighthouse but the sun still shines."

Yet when the two met again on the eve of the Core Worlds Campaign, Darius saw darkness approaching. The Primarch's vision became confused. Although he was still sharp and insightful on the events of the next weeks, everything beyond that was clouded in darkness. As the months stretched on, Darius could not even be sure when the Adversary would strike, only that peril loomed. He did all he could, preparing his Sand Keepers and striving to find a compromise at the Council of Nikaea. Yet neither Darius Cyaxares nor his mighty Father could prevent the eruption of civil war and the opening of the Hektor Heresy.

The Heresy[edit]

In the eyes of Darius Cyaxares, the disaster began with the exile of the Fifth Legion in 004.M31. As Gaspard Lumey's fellow commander, he argued hard that the Fifth's actions in the Core Worlds Campaign were a military necessity and had reduced, not increased, the level of destruction. Yet few were prepared to side with him. When Gaspard himself abandoned the cause of arguing against his own censure, the die was cast. Darius confided his vision of the future to Gaspard Lumey, saying that he saw the Fifth Legion leading a great fleet to humanity's birthplace and waging a brutal war against the Emperor's most-trusted servants. Gaspard dismissed the prophecy with a smile and a brotherly embrace, then left for the far reaches of the galaxy. When the Sand Keepers themselves were ordered out to the south-east of the Ultima Segmentum just a few months after the Fifth Legion's departure, Darius was certain that a civil war was brewing. He did not doubt that Gaspard Lumey would return with arms in hand, but it remained to be seen whether the difficult Primarch came as a conqueror or liberator.

Regardless of the clouds on the horizon, Darius was determined to acquit himself well in the new assignment. Hektor Cincinnatus had dispatched the Sand Keepers to the Malluma system. The Warmaster's instructions were to regroup at Malluma and defend the newly-won Imperial worlds there from an imminent Orkish offensive, then to go on the attack and eliminate the greenskin menace at its source. Some of Darius' veterans voiced concerns that the order effectively banished another Legion from the central reaches of the Imperium. If the Primarch shared these worries, he did not see fit to protest to the Warmaster and the Sand Keepers duly moved out in accordance with their orders.

Dodu rises over Malluma

As the Legion's fleet warped into the Malluma system, their former Librarians all began to experience headaches. Darius himself found that his physical vision started to blur shortly after arrival. The fleet command as a whole were concerned that Malluma did not respond to their communications. In a brief council of war, the Sand Keepers' senior officers agreed that, in the absence of Ork vessels, the most likely explanation for the lack of signals was that the moon had been gripped by rebellion. Darius determined to lead his men to subdue the rebels and secure Malluma before continuing his mission.

Moonfall was eerie. The Sand Keepers vanguard touched down in the green light shed by the gas giant, Dodu. Fanning out to secure the landing zone for the Legion, they found hardly a trace of human beings. The moon's largest and most sophisticated facilities, including a massive ferrocrete landing pad, had vanished. Yet older monuments remained, mysterious and out of proportion to human works. Once the Primarch had his feet on the soil of Malluma, he determined to seek out and destroy whatever dangers lurked on the foreboding moon. Darius led a host of his Immortals into the largest structure, seemingly a temple or municipal building.

The Sand Keepers fanned out through the dark complex, sensing that their enemies lurked within. Despite the warriors' skill and equipment, the unnatural shadows confused their navigation and the Immortals ended up scattered. Alone, Darius Cyaxares faced a terrible presence that spoke to him. The entity named itself as the Shadow in Time and explained that it had granted Darius his visions of the future in order to guide him to this place. Shadow in Time went on that it, like Darius, was greatly concerned for the fate of the galaxy and slowly attempted to persuade the Primarch into a pact. Yet the entity's suggestion that the Emperor himself might be a threat was a terrible error in its argument, for Darius knew that his visions had always pointed to his Father as the hope for humanity.

Refusing Shadow in Time was the right course, but it was not easy. The entity blinded Darius and tore at him with its talons. The Primarch swung back in vain, mighty Shimti sailing wide of its mark. As even his miraculous vitality began to ebb, Darius struck the chamber's floor in desperation, shattering it and sending himself and Shadow in Time tumbling downwards. Trapped beneath the rubble until his wounds healed, Darius could do no more than listen. The entity mocked him for his folly and its laughter masked running footsteps, but Darius recognised the approach of faithful Brother Caelinus Titus, the Terran-born Immortal who had carried dying Sasian Terca from the battlefield of Hezuno and repeated his last words to the Legion. Shadow in Time slew Caelinus Titus effortlessly. Yet more footsteps followed. Sergeant Penuel Eliyyahu, the first Sand Keeper of Gosheni blood to be inducted into the Immortals, and with him his squad; Valerius Aelianus (the son of a Merican warlord), Khaliq Abdullah and Ayman El-Hashem of Sarianidi, and the most recent inductee of the Immortals, Esaias Gad. Still badly wounded, Darius reached out to his gene-sons and fortified their weapons with his powerful mind. Only Khaliq Abdullah had time to start firing before the squad was dead. Then came squads led by Themaseb Afeghana and Keamaar Nafhchea, their bolters roaring in vengeance. Shadow in Time vented its fury on the Marines but Immortals poured into the chamber, determined to defend their gene-father and fortified by his will. Aurus Morelia's booming voice raised above the thunder of massed bolter fire. "None shall escape their fate!"

The Sand Keepers do not boast. Whatever manner of being Shadow in Time was, it could not withstand the onslaught of the Immortals. Darius Cyaxares, still blinded and struggling to heal the wounds inflicted by the entity, was helped from the complex by his faithful bodyguard. Outside, chaos had erupted. Unspeakable Things had emerged to slaughter the valiant Sand Keepers. Only the former Librarians, sensing that they faced beings vulnerable to their own powers, were able to stem the tide and allow the Legion to withdraw intact. No punishment was meted out to the men who had defied the Emperor's decree, for Darius was among them. Sensing that the hour of decision was at hand, the Primarch ordered his forces to withdraw from doomed Malluma and set course for Terra.


Many monuments were raised in memory of Darius Cyaxares. The most famous of them is the cenotaph Qyzqapan on his homeworld Simurgh, which is frequented by many citizens of the Imperium. On the Death World Kumul is Ashtur, the humble Karaan that the Primarch dug with his own hands. Although mere mortals cannot hope to survive a pilgrimage to Kumul, many among the Adeptus Astartes find the time to visit. The Sand Keepers and their successors favour the site more than any other line, but Space Marines who know Gaspard Lumey as their gene-sire often come to pay their respects to his beloved brother.

The Primarchs of the /tg/ Heresy
Loyalist: Alexandri of Rosskar - Arelex Orannis - Brennus - Gaspard Lumey - Golgothos
Onyx the Indestructible - Roman Albrecht - Shakya Vardhana - Tiran Osoros
Traitor: Aubrey The Grey - Cromwald Walgrun - Hektor Cincinnatus - Inferox - Johannes Vrach
Rogerius Merrill - The Voidwatcher - Tollund Ötztal - Uriel Salazar