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The Red Templars waxed powerful in the Elysium sector. Although the sector is vast and holds more than one chapter of Astartes, the Red Templars became well-known due to their practise of offering protection to pilgrims in the sector.
Along with the worlds they dominated politically, Red Templar astartes and chapter-owned ships would ply trade routes, seeking out and destroying pirates and other menaces to the good order of the sector.
It was to this settled way of existence that Abaddon the despoiler’s Fifth Black Crusade struck like a charging beast.
Scattered around numerous systems in addition to the planets they held sway over, the Red Templars found it difficult to respond in strength. Abaddon’s forces struck hard not just on planets but in space. The Red Templars and their allies were repeatedly outwitted, beaten back, or outright destroyed in these interstellar engagements.
Makeshift craft broke through the Red Templars cordons and disgorged hordes of shrieking chaos cultists onto the sacred worlds of the Imperium. The Red Templars thus found themselves giving aid to a multitude of planets, unable to bring their strength to bear.
Where the Red Templars did have strength, they found Abaddon’s forces stronger. Knights’ Rock, as an unpowered asteroid in orbit around its parent star, was vulnerable to assault, and it was here the chaos Astartes struck in force, intent on wiping out the chapter’s leadership. At heavy cost they were beaten back, but fully two-thirds of the Loyal Circle lay dead, along with a full company of marines.
While the main thrust of the Black Crusade was directed elsewhere in the sector, many Red Templars sites were targeted, and the Red Templars found their secret dig sites repeatedly targeted for attack. These attacks included a core of traitor Astartes, and many Red Templars fell in these nameless battles across a score of worlds, fighting to defend whatever holy relics lay there.
Abaddon’s forces were thrown back to the Eye of Terror, but the Red Templars chapter was shattered by the Fifth Black Crusade. The years following were spent painstakingly removing the last taints of chaos from various worlds. Two thirds of the chapter’s strength was gone. Chapter Master Athel resigned his post, took a one-man craft, and headed into the Eye of Terror, there to bring the Emperor’s Justice to the heretic, until death.
To this day this time of spoken of as the Chapter’s shame and there is no figure more hated to the Red Templars than Abaddon the Black.
That the chapter survived at all is probably due to their weakness at the time; an inability to gather their strength in one place. Two other Astartes Chapters in the sector, the Venerators and the Warhawks, were utterly destroyed by Abaddon, who lured the two chapters into a deadly trap.
In the ashes of ignominy a new version of the Red Templars emerged. The chapter would henceforth govern no more than 5 planets, and though they still focused on the protection of pilgrims, three companies remained ready to gather in strength at need. This new structure would serve the chapter well for their next challenge.