Zaphkiel El'Raziel is a Champion of the Dark Angels chapter whom also served in numerous campaigns in both the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy. Born on the now-destroyed planet of Caliban over 10 millennia ago, Zaphkiel is the last loyal Dark Angel of pure Calibanite blood, a lineage kept intact through the use of stasis technology. He is a living relic of his time, having fought in the most pivotal battles the Dark Angels Legion has ever participated in, such as the Thramas Crusade, the 2nd Mortis Gate, and the fateful Fall of Caliban. His extensive service record is eclipsed only by his tactical acuity and mastery of the sword, a form of combat he has honed without compare throughout the millennia. He has since been given the position of Champion within The Lion's Gaze, a selection of highly skilled Dark Angels chosen by the Inner Circle.
Zaphkiel El'Raziel was born on the Death World of Caliban in 878.M30. Little else is known of his past, for he has shared little with Imperial scribes and Remembracers. In few cases, he has denied such information from his own brothers.
It is known, however, that he served as a Ravenwing Knight of the Calibanite brotherhood known as the Order. It is also widely known within the Dark Angels chapter that he took part in the Great Hunt to cleanse the unnatural beasts of Caliban before the creation of the Dark Angels Legion. During this time in Zaphkiel's rather obscure "pre-Astartes" history, it is presumed his unique and closely guarded blade known as the Redemptior Hominis was forged.
After the devastating events of the Fall of Caliban, the limited number of Calibanite Astartes had been set. Upon realizing this, the Grandmasters of the Dark Angels Legion began the construction of several stasis pod bays within The Rock upon its completion. These pods served one, single-minded purpose: To maintain true Calibanite bloodlines within the Legion so that the legacy of their homeworld may quite literally live on; so that the stories and tales of old may be retold from those who lived them.
This mission, however, was ultimately optional to Calibanite Dark Angels; the Grandmasters would not force their fellow Astartes to remain frozen in time when they could be fighting and dying for the Imperium they serve. As expected, most of the Astartes eligible to partake in this were both skeptical and hesitant. Most declined this "sacrifice," seeing the pods as a prison, keeping them from their fate.
Not all backed away, however. Of the thousands of Dark Angels to have called Caliban their real home, only a mere twenty-seven accepted, Zaphkiel included. Zaphkiel embraced his fate, seeing it as a vitally important mission for the sake of knowledge and for the survival of his brothers' Calibanite heritage.
After the time alotted given to the Calibanites to take up the mission had ended, the Grandmasters of the Legion finally initiated the plan. The low amount of Astartes to have accepted allowed for energy to be redirected from the numerous empty pods, thus giving those used a much longer lifespan. In addition, the surplus energy allowed for the Calibanites to leave and reenter stasis much more frequently.
Zaphkiel El'Raziel is a major war veteran within the Dark Angels for his incredibly long service to the chapter. He has taken part in many battles, from small skirmishes, to large-scale wars and crusades. Zaphkiel has fought in nearly every note-worthy battle the Dark Angels chapter has engaged in, and below is a chronological list of the wars he has partaken.
WAAAGH Skul'Thraka - 008.M31
Purgation of Isis IV: Newly made Warboss Skul'Thraka attempts to create a new Ork clan under his banner by creating a forward outpost on the arid plains of Isis IV, located deep within the Segmentum Obscurus. The Dark Angels take note of this uprising and send Zaphkiel El'Raziel and his Scout Squad to thwart Skul'Thraka's efforts. The neophytes encounter swift resistance, but utimately defeat the frontline defense and plant an orbital targeting beacon on the xenos fort. Soon after, the Dark Angels battle barge Lion's Wrath bombards the area with heavy orbital strikes, effectively halting Skul'Thraka's plans within the sector. Zaphkiel is given the rank of Legionnaire within the 5th Chapter.
Thramas Crusade - 008.M31
Tsagualsa Skirmish: After the duel with Curze and the Lion had ended, reinforcements for both Night Lords and Dark Angels arrived on the planet of Tsagualsa. Zaphkiel, along with squads Redemptio and Leviticus, gave the Honor Guards time to get the Lion to safety and ultimately saved their primarch's life.
Battle aboard the Invincible Reason: Once Sevatar reorganized his legion, the Night Lords staged a counterattack, starting with the boarding operations of the pursuing Angels' ship, Invincible Reason. During the battle, Zaphkiel and squad Redemptio are spotted by approaching Atramentar. Zaphkiel ends the fight by dealing a critical blow to the Atramentar captain's neck with the Redemptior Hominis before his squad is destroyed, causing the remaining Atramentar to fall back and regroup. After the Night Lord's offensive is thwarted, Zaphkiel and the remainder of squad Redemptio are given multiple honors for defeating the enemy's best.
Battle of Perditas Ultima: Historical record not found. Data expunged.
Fall of Caliban - 012.M31: In response to the betrayal of Luther and the Angels on Caliban, The 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters are deployed to face their own brethren. Idaeus and squads Redemptio, Leviticus, and Barathiel are sent to escort the Lion while he makes his way to confront Luther. The Angels swiftly deal with the heretics and the duel between the Primarch and his friend begins while the escorting squads leave to join the other chapters. After the destruction of Caliban, Zaphkiel earns the promotion of squad Sergeant within what is now known as the 3rd Company.
The Forgotten Wars - 580.M31-632.M32: Record expunged
2nd Mortis Gate Campaign - 560.M33: In the midst of the massive campaign, a Chaos Marine in service to the Legio Mortis attempts to assault the bearer of the Standard of Fortitude. In order to save the unsuspecting Angel, Zaphkiel breaks from his squad and assaults the heretic, decapitating him and defending the standard bearer. This heroic act, however, cost him many lives within his squad.
Trail of Unbelief - 314.M36-334.M36
Night Lord Interference: While pursing the traitor Machius, the Dark Angels fleet is attacked by the Night Lords legion. Within minutes, the traitor legion begins boarding the cruiser, Penitent Blade. Zaphkiel and his Dark Angels quickly subdue their enemy and continue their hunt for Machius.
Battle of Black Death: Zaphkiel and the Ravenwing prevail in capturing the suspected Fallen Angel Machius on the plague-ridden world of Gronmoth during what was later named the Battle of Black Death. Zaphkiel is given several honors for his piloting skills and tactics.
Battle at Midpoint - 871.M37: Zaphkiel takes his Ravenwing brethren to encounter the invading Eldar vessels. Within minutes, the Eldar retreat with half of their armada destroyed by the Rock. Soon after, Zaphkiel is called to action by the Deathwatch and thus becomes a Vigil of the Watch Fortress Erioch for 200 years. After his service, he returns to his fellow Angels and continues his duties as a Ravenwing Knight.
Siege of Maltas - 902.M37-909.M37
Altid Crusade - 299.M38-309.M38: Leading the Ravenwing ahead, Zaphkiel made his way to confront the Fallen Angel, Zeriah. After killing several Dark Angels in the ensuing carnage, Zaphkiel manages to cut the Fallen's left knee and arm in one swift strike, mortally wounding the traitor and allowing Zaphkiel to drag his body to the nearby Thunderhawk. After his success in capturing Zeriah, Zaphkiel earns the Crux Terminatus and is given the right to serve in the Deathwing.
Hundred Planet Rebellion - 519.M39: After a series of anti-Imperial rebellions break loose, the Dark Angels and several successors are sent to dispatch a mad priest known as Alldric the Subverter. The traitor lead a wide range of planets into rebellion, leading to the Dark Angels deploying the Deathwing, suppressing their high cults. Eventually, Zaphkiel and his fellow Deathwing find the priest and eliminate him, ending the mass-rebellion. Zaphkiel was rewarded with a silver Iron Halo and multiple additional honors for his triumph over Alldric.
Siege of Vraks - 813.M41-830.M41
Assault on Vraks Starport: After the initial descent, the Dark Angels advanced upon the Vraks Starport. Using Thunderhawks and Land Raiders, the Astartes quickly devastated the city in mere minutes until Supreme Grand Master Azrael and his forces eventually fell into an Alpha Legion ambush. Azrael was then charged by Arkos, Chaos Lord of the traitor legion. Initially pummeled by the Chaos Lord, Zaphkiel El'Raziel and Terminator squad Sephias came to Azrael's assistance, forcing Arkos to retreat along with his brethren. The port had been taken with serious casualties.
Battle for the Cardinal's Gate: In support of the Krieg and various Astartes forces at the final battle of Vraks, the Dark Angels tasked the Angels of Absolution to aid in the assault and to complete a classified mission. But before the order had been sent, Zaphkiel had personally requested that he and several squads of Deathwing terminators accompany the successors. The requested had been accepted and Idaeus was temporarily transferred to the Angels of Absolution's command. After a decisive drop, the Angels unleash their fury upon the traitorous Alpha Legion within the Cardinal's citadel. As instructed, Zaphkiel and the Angels of Absolution capture Chaos Lord Arkos and, with the Siege of Vraks nearly over, return to the Rock which had been stationed in high orbit. Zaphkiel earned the position of Deathwing Knight for his persistence and speed at which he accomplished his objective.
Massacre on Minoria - 832.M41: Zaphkiel and Terminator squads Sephias and Nekael are ambushed by the local population's defenders. The counterattack is quickly thwarted when Zaphkiel crushes a civilian's skull with a single hand, inspiring fear in the defenders and forcing them to surrender. With this victory, the moon's defenses had been effectively demoralized. Thus the "battle" that ensued was dubbed a massacre. Zaphkiel was rewarded multiple honors for his swift triumph. Zaphkiel was also offered the newly-made position of Honored Grand Champion for his long service and existence as one of the last Calibanites. This position is identical to a Company Champion, including the same responsibilities that come with being the guardian of his Company Master. This also gave him a place within a specialized group known as The Lion's Gaze. Zaphkiel immediately accepted this offer and was then placed within the 3rd Company for the time being.
Eneldor Campaign - c.M41
Sephlagm Rebellion - 922.M41: The Toxic World of Sephlagm rises against the Emperor. In response, the Dark Angels sent the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Companies to thwart the rebellion. Zaphkiel, along with the rest of the 3rd and 4th Companies, quickly pinned down the majority of the cultist forces while the Ravenwing support and attack squads deployed in pincer formation, rushing the rebel headquarters and opening a way for the Deathwing to defeat the traitorous leader. The victory is swift and precise, ending yet another rebellion in one fell swoop.
Storm of Vengeance - 221997.M41: During the WAAAAGH! of Ghazghkull Thraka, the Dark Angels 3rd Company deploys to purge Kadillus Harbour. Zaphkiel and his brethren charge the xenos positions. Though this came at a cost of heavy casualties, it gave Veteran Sergeatn Naaman time to destroy the Ork tellyportas, allowing the Deathwing to slaughter the alien filth. With time, the battle was won, but with the loss of many battle brothers. Nevertheless, Zaphkiel and his brethren had claimed yet another victory for the Imperial forces fighting in the Third War of Armageddon.
Zaphkiel is bound by selfless virtues of honour and duty, as most Astartes are; he retains whatever form of chivalric zeal he adopted during his long millennia of service to his Chapter. Though as time has passed, Zaphkiel grew increasingly cold and reclusive. As the number of Calibanites declined throughout the Chapter's campaigns, Zaphkiel became taciturn; his stories of old became written accounts, preferring to convey Calibanite lore in scripts to later be shelved in the archives of the Rock. It is unknown to most why his telling of tales has ceased, but some within the Librarius believe this to be a deliberate, logical choice as opposed to a decision made by a marred psyche. Spoken words may be short-lived, but written accords may stand the test of time.
Zaphkiel's secluded nature has gained him a rather unsociable aura that rivals that of Interrogator Chaplain Asmodai, although for different reasons. Whereas Asmodai is a stern, hateful figure of authority, Zaphkiel is a patient and silent warrior, one of quiet prayers and firm devotion. Rarely is he angered by those around him; his ability to control his immediate emotional and physical reactions are considered remarkable even by Astartes standards, which is credited to his many centuries of service. These traits, however, have also attributed to his seemingly antisocial personality. His still demeanor and quiet tongue generates an ominous atmosphere, making most other Astartes feel hesitant to approach him. His uncommunicative attitude has also attributed to the fact that he has not been promoted to the title of Grand Master despite his long service record. Nevertheless, his pure lineage and constancy has earned him a place within the Inner Circle.
Regardless of his outward persona, Zaphkiel is still a revered member of the Dark Angels for reasons obvious to his brethren. Aside from his extensive service record, Zaphkiel's prowess in battle and unwavering, stubborn devotion to his role as Champion is unmatched. His sociable faults become a sinister boon against his foes on the field; his grim aura and baleful visage strike fear and despair into his enemies. Despite this, Zaphkiel's presence in combat zones has had mixed results amongst his allies. Most within the Unforgiven are inspired by the sight of such an ancient figure aiding them in combat, even though his appearance outside of combat is less inviting. Some of those of other Chapters whom fight alongside him are wholly unnerved, yet still hold him in respect as an Angel of Death.
Although the reasoning for Zaphkiel's secluded nature is mostly understood by the majority of Astartes in the Unforgiven, others would have it another way for a variety of claims, the most notable of which are linked to the expunged records of the Forgotten Wars. During this time, Zaphkiel had virtually vanished; no one that had participated knew of his whereabouts, not even the Inner Circle. By the end of the campaign, he had returned, his armor scarred and damaged just like any other veteran who had taken part. Most ignored his supposed absence as circumstance; vox transmissions were unstable at best, and thus his signal could have simply been skewered in the battles that raged on Cocytus I. As the records of the Wars had been "lost," so too had most of the suspicions surrounding Zaphkiel's disappearance.
Not all had been silenced, however. Some Dark Angels of the 4th and 5th companies at the time believed Zaphkiel had not taken to the field at all and was instead assigned to something quite different. Most of those claims had been baseless rumors, though some did hold merit. However, this controversy was not exclusive to Dark Angels of that millennia. Some Grand Masters in the Inner Circle still place their inquisitive eyes on Zaphkiel. They believe he had abandoned his brethren during the fighting on Cocytus I for his own reasons. Some accusations lie within ludicrous extremes, believing Zaphkiel had made contact with Cypher himself before he had vanished.
These rumors are just that, however. None that lay claim to these controversies have yet to openly accuse Zaphkiel of them, nor would they wish to do so. Zaphkiel remains a venerable figure of his Chapter; to accuse him of such heinous charges with little to no merit or physical evidence would serve only to incur the judgement of the Interrogator Chaplains. Thus the few within the Inner Circle who have some belief in these rumors keep it hidden within their thoughts, discussing it only amongst themselves.
Phobos Pattern Bolter: A weapon perhaps as old as its wielder, the Phobos Pattern Bolter has always been a favorite of Zaphkiel's. Though it may not be as advanced as the later models of Bolter weapons that supersede it, the ancient and finely-crafted Phobos Bolter serves as a reminder of both the glorious Great Crusade and the terrible Horus Heresy. In the hands of the Lion's Champion, the Phobos Pattern Bolter is an extremely potent and reliable weapon that has continued to hit its mark since the beginning of Zaphkiel's service.
Death's Grace: This Phobos Pattern Bolt Pistol once belonged to Gaghiel El'Abdas, a Calibanite Dark Angel whom served with and was a close friend of Zaphkiel. Gaghiel met his fate at the hands of the Atramentar when the Night Lords boarded the Invincible Reason in 008.M31. Zaphkiel, crucially wounded by the Night Haunter's elite, reached for his brother's blood-sprayed bolt pistol and landed a death-dealing blow to the head of Gaghiel's killer, giving Zaphkiel enough to time to muster the strength to defeat the Atramentar's captain. One Terran day after the boarding actions had been thwarted, Zaphkiel etched Gaghiel's name along with the words "Mortibus Gratia" around the barrel of the weapon, signifying Gaghiel's vengeful bond to the weapon and the fiery death it delivers to those who had spilled his blood.
Blade of Darkness, Champion's Blade: The Blade of Darkness is a Blade of Caliban gifted to Zaphkiel by the Inner Circle upon earning the rank of Champion. It stands around 8 feet long from tip to pommel, and its hand-crafted design bears some very impressive heraldry. Although it's sheer size and mass requires two hands to wield effectively, Zaphkiel has no trouble using it with only one hand if necessary.
Redemptior Hominis, Last Sword of Caliban: Of all the wargear within Zaphkiel's possession, perhaps nothing is as valued or prized as the Redemptior Hominis. Forged from the rock and iron of Caliban, this blade was made for Zaphkiel during his training as a Knight-supplicant of the Order. It is one of the last blades crafted from Caliban, by a Calibanite. Thus, the Redemptior Hominis is Zaphkiel's most guarded possession, for it is the last remnant of his home.