The knight-world Silurum lies deep in the western arm of the galaxy. First settled during the great crusade, the world is comparable to Terra in size, and is largely temperate. The world holds two main continents, (one per hemisphere), each or which is heavily forested with deciduous woodland thousands of miles deep at the equatorial edge. These forests were ancient when mankind first arrived, and remain wild and fey to this day. As one travels away from the equator, the landscape changes as the air cools, and the mighty forests give way to grasslands, steppe, hill and dale, and it is here where human kind first settled the planet. The land changes again towards the poles, becoming more mountainous and rugged. It is these wild places that provide mineral resources to the colonists, as well as being the source of the mighty rivers that wend their way through grassland and forest to reach the distant ocean that separates the continents. This single ocean spans the world at the equator, and contains countless small islands and archipelagos which are seldom explored and certainly uninhabited from a human perspective.
Mankind first landed in four mighty ark ships, two per continent, with each ship becoming the centre of a new human settlement. These sites remain the principal areas of population in modern times, forming four autonomous and discrete city-kingdoms – Venta, Vinade, Powers and DeBarth. These city-kingdoms evolved as separate monocratic states along neo-feudal principals, each with a ruling monarchy descending from the original exploration clans responsible for guiding the ark-ships through the immaterium. These royal families are sovereign within their respective kingdoms, and maintain their own knightly households, military apparatus and governmental structures. The senior members of house each also form the planetary council, responsible for global affairs including planetary defence, management of inter-state disputes, marriages and alliances between royal houses, and trade. The council was also responsible to the Imperium of Man for matters of tithe and duty before the world was isolated during the age of strife, and remains so following Silurum’s rediscovery by the Imperium. Finally, the council is also responsible for liaising with the Imperial Navy forces tasked to safeguard the sector – space travel is one area where Silurum is entirely dependent on the Imperium, and it gains the Emperor’s protection in exchange for tithes.
The land based flora and fauna of Silurum is reasonably benign, being a mixture of arboreal mammals and large plain-dwelling reptilian or lizard like creatures that are analogous to the dinosaurs of mythical Terran prehistory. The wild woods are populated with all manner of mammalian life, including several primitive indigenous tribes of hominid. These tribes naturally dispersed as mankind established small forest settlements to harvest food and timber, and were considered of little threat or consequence. Such is the size of the forests and the limits of human endeavour in this area, these creatures were easily able to avoid human contact, and as a result they took on a mythical faery-like quality to the colonists. The larger reptilian creatures primarily occupy the open steppes and grasslands of the middle-lands, where they form a simple ecosystem of vast herbivores herds, and ferocious predators. While dangerous, these beasts also provide a vital source of nutrition for the colonists. Over time, the culling of these magnificent animals has also become a sport, enshrined in ritual and ceremony and conducted by nobles in their towering knight constructs.
In terms of wealth and military power, Venta is the most powerful city-kingdom on Silurum, ruled by the noble house of Gwrgan, with the support of twenty five lesser noble families. Situated on the northern continent, the city-kingdom forms a mighty fortress that is both populous and wealthy, with some 40 million citizens, and many mining operations to the north. Crucially, Venta also maintains some ancient but serviceable fragments of STC machinery, which enables the city to process raw materials into the items it needs, and to create surplus to trade with the Imperium, and with other city-kingdoms of Silurum. The extreme value of their STC systems has made Venta a target for many raids and attacks over the centuries, attacks which were small enough to escape the detection of the system fleet, but were large enough to pose a serious threat to the city. Fortunately, Venta maintains a highly proficient military force, one that is regularly tested in the field, and Venta possesses a highly developed marshal tradition as a result. This proved particularly important some fifty years after the knight-world was rediscovered, when agents of the machine cult laid siege to Venta after demands for STC technology were denied by Edwyn, the then lord of Gwrgan. Although a staunch supporter of the Emperor, Lord Edwyn saw no need to accede to the wishes of the Adeptus Mechanicus, and only the might of Venta kept their forces at bay until Inquisitorial intervention could be solicited. Venta remains wary of the priests of Mars to this day.
At the highest echelon of the Ventish Military is the Ventish Knightly Host. Thirty knights are reverently maintained, and they present a formidable force in their own right. Stewardship of these mighty constructs is hereditary, passing from father to eldest child, so while united under the blue and black of Venta, each knight has his own personal heraldry reflecting the family with which the knight is associated.
House Gwrgan claims five of the thirty knights, and these five are referred to as the Royal Knights. The stewardship of the principle knight ‘Gwrgan’s Wrath’ belongs to the lord himself, and is in time granted to the lord’s eldest child and heir. Three of the remaining four knights are granted to the lord’s siblings and their heirs where possible, or to more distant blood relations if necessary, to guard against the loss of the entire ruling line in a single battle, even if a full deployment of knights is ordered. The fifth ‘royal’ knight is reserved for the chief castellan of the house Gwrgan – the ‘Lord’s Castellan’. This position is unique in that it is granted by role rather than birth, and is occupied by a most trusted servant who, although not noble, is considered part of the ruling family. Tasked with guiding the incumbent Lord Gwrgan in matters of state, war and politics, the Lord’s Castellan acts as advisor, confidant, mentor and teacher to the Lord, and the succession of this position is carefully managed. The knight granted to the Lord’s Castellan is called ‘The Rock of Venta’ and is as implacable in support of the ruling house as the name suggests. The remaining twenty five knights are granted to the lords of the lesser noble families, and so on to their heirs and successors. It is extremely rare for knights to be passed to a younger sibling or for a noble house to be stripped of its knightly stewardship privileges, but such things have happened in the past, such is the nature of political life in Venta.
The knights are ably supported by the elite soldiery of the Armiger, (literally ‘Squires’), and the numerous ranks of the Militia Servus, (roughly ‘Serf-Guard’). The Armiger is formed of the many noble-born that are not in line to inherit knightly ranks within their family, and are superbly trained and equipped, so while they may lack the prestige of their knighted kin, they remain an honoured and elite fighting force in their own right. The ranks of the Armiger adopt the best armour, weaponry and support equipment available, and are characterised by their tactical flexibility, stern discipline and lightning strikes, whether by land or air. Comparable to the Militarum Tempestus, the troops of the Armiger form the vanguard and precision strike capability in any conflict in which Venta is engaged. By far the most populous portion of the Ventish military machine is the Militia Servus, comprised of men taken from the lesser families and common population. These men operate as lightly equipped infantry battalions, and are closely supported with heavy armour and artillery. Analogous to the might of the Astra Militarum, the Militia are the hammer of Venta.