"Even whilst we fight, we watch. Even whilst we kill, we judge. 'Midst war's full fury, still we see. 'Midst all your guards, still we strike. We are the Death Lord's icy gaze, and we are his reaping blade."
- – Oath of the Deathshroud
The Deathshroud are the original and current bodyguards of Daemon Primarch and current Edgelord Supreme, Mortarion. Other than appearances, little has technically changed from their days during the Great Crusade, of course now they have more of a Nurglite twist.
Great Crusade & Horus Heresy
Like most Primarchs, Mortarion had a Honour Guard. Great secrecy surrounded them; the Deathshroud were chosen from the rank-and-file of the Death Guard by their Primarch personally for their skill at arms, fearlessness and proven endurance; often being the sole survivor still standing when the rest of their squad has perished. As Morty wasn't one of the most social of Primarchs, his introverted social skills seem to spread to his sons as the Deathshroud's identities were basically 'unpersoned', since, after being inducted into the Deathshroud, they never spoke, never removed their helmets even in death, and were officially listed as being killed in action which is very convenient after the whole Nurgle fiasco (to be entirely fair, Mortarion was one of the few Primarchs who actually valued his bodyguards instead of seeing them as mere necessary pomp or a hindrance. He just was that bad with people).
Deathshroud bodyguards were clad in highly artificed Terminator armour that gave them a tall and barrel-chested appearance and they were armed with hand flamers with chem-munitions and like their master, they wielded large power scythes known as Manreapers. Although given the Deathguard's overall lack of care for their own equipment, their prestigious equipment was left to rot and rust away, giving them an appearance of a warrior that had been through countless battles and war. At least two of them never strayed more than 49 paces from their Primarch, a trait they would continue right into the 41st Millennium (And how convenient for Nurgle too, since the square root of 49 is 7, Papa Nurgle's favorite number. Coincidence? Who knows?).
During the event of Horus' potty tantrum, the Deathshroud along with their Primarch succumbed to Papa Nurgle's plagues like pussies and became physically twisted by Nurgle's gifts after they accepted their allegiance to the Plague Father.
The 41st Millennium
As a Daemon Prince of Nurgle, Mortarion was still accompanied by his Deathshroud ten thousand years later, notably when he confronted the Grey Knights at the Battle of Kornovin.
On top of that, the Deathshroud serve as Mortarion's representatives. While they still often fight by his side they also form the honour guard for Chaos Lords, Plague Surgeons, and other champions of Chaos which have garnered Mortarion's favor.
Their presence is a mixed blessing at best. The Deathshroud will fight with all their skill and strength in support of their assigned champion, and prove to be an undeniable asset in battle. Yet all the while the Deathshroud are judging their charge upon their master’s behalf. If the champion is deemed successful, the Deathshroud depart at the battle’s end, leaving as silently as they came. Should the one they guard fails in his duties, however, the judgement of Mortarion is swift and utterly inescapable. And almost always lethal.
|Forces of the Death Guard|
|Leaders:|| Chaos Lord - Daemon Prince - Sorcerer - Chaos Champion |
Malignant Plaguecaster - Plague Surgeon - Tallymen
|Troops:|| Biologus Putrifier - Blightlord Terminator - Chaos Spawn - Deathshroud |
Foul Blightspawn - Noxious Blightbringer - Plague Marines - Possessed
|Vehicles:||Chaos Land Raider - Helbrute - Plaguereaper - Predator - Rhino|
|Flyers:||Storm Eagle - Stormbird - Thunderhawk|
| Blight Drone - Defiler - Foetid Bloat-Drone |
Myphitic Blight-Hauler - Plague Hulk - Plagueburst Crawler
|Daemons:||Beast of Nurgle - Nurgling - Plaguebearer|
|Auxiliaries:||Cultists - Pestigors - Plague Zombie - Poxwalkers|
|Allies:||Chaos Daemons - Chaos Space Marines|