"I am the Arch-fiend, the Despoiler of Worlds, and by my hands shall the false Emperor fall."
The 1st Black Crusade was the first of the great assaults led by Ezekyle Abaddon, soon to be known as "Abaddon the Despoiler," out of the Eye of Terror into Imperial space. It was the first major incursion by the forces of Chaos into Imperial space since the defeat of the Traitor Legions at the Siege of Terra almost eight standard centuries before and the campaigns of the Great Scouring that drove them into the Eye of Terror.
Its purpose was to show both the Imperium of Man and the Chaos Gods themselves that Abaddon was the rightful and worthy successor to Horus. By his actions Abaddon earned the favour of the Ruinous Powers and a potent new Daemon Weapon that cemented his standing as the new mortal champion of Chaos Undivided.
In 781.M31, Abaddon the Despoiler, Chaos Lord of the Black Legion and the chosen Warmaster of Chaos, made his first attempt to launch a new offensive against the Imperium of Man following the Horus Heresy. He initiated the campaign known as the 1st Black Crusade, which opened with the conflict remembered as the First Battle of Cadia.
Abaddon had made many blood pacts with the Dark Gods in the wake of Horus' defeat during the Horus Heresy. Following this deadly incursion, the Ruinous Powers granted Abaddon the means to further increase his already formidable power.
After the First Battle of Cadia was won, the forces of Chaos under Abaddon's command plunged the worlds of the Segmentum Obscurus into a terrible conflict that ravaged hundreds of worlds for several solar decades.
At the end of that time, on the world of Uralan in the Eye of Terror, Abaddon recovered the Daemonsword Drach'nyen after battling his way through a haunted labyrinth to the great inner chamber where the blade had languished in stasis for millennia.
The howling sword contained the bound essence of an ancient and dangerous Warp entity who had once been defeated by the Emperor Himself during the Horus Heresy and had the power to rend reality apart wherever the weapon struck.
After the recovery of the malefic sword, Abaddon's power swelled to inhuman proportions much like his predecessor Horus, and he was recognised by the Chaos Gods as Horus Lupercal's true successor amongst the Traitor Legions, the new Warmaster of Chaos Undivided.
Following the dire events of the Horus Heresy during the climactic Siege of Terra and the death of the Warmaster Horus aboard his flagship, the Vengeful Spirit, First Captain Ezekyle Abaddon and the surviving Sons of Horus broke orbit and fought their way free of the orbital battle and escaped into the void.
A time of Imperial reprisal and retribution known as the Great Scouring followed for many solar decades, and countless worlds were put to death by the Loyalists for siding with Horus, their corpses left as a warning to others. Those Traitor Legions that remained in the Imperium were hunted mercilessly and hounded across the stars by pitiless Loyalists.
Abaddon and the remaining Sons of Horus took refuge in the Eye of Terror, choosing to plunge into that maelstrom of madness rather than face extinction at the hands of the Emperor's vengeful warriors.
The Sons of Horus managed to reach the Eye of Terror with the bloodied survivors of the Scouring, but the once-mighty XVIth Legion was reduced to a fraction of its former size. Led by only a few remaining captains, the Legion struggled with its loyalty to their fallen primarch and the cold reality of their defeat at the hands of the Emperor and His lackeys.
Bereft of their glorious primarch, the XVIth Legion floundered, and in desperation sought the aid of each of the Chaos Gods in turn in their search for renewed power, inviting daemonic possession and the ever more costly blessings of the Warp.
All the while, the Legion suffered the jealous attacks of their former allies. As the Traitor Legions turned upon one another, the Dark Gods subverted and manipulated their new playthings, reshaping the Traitor Legions for their own ends and the never-ending war between the gods in the Great Game.
Abaddon abandoned the Legion; broken by the death of Horus and sick of war, he wandered alone into the Eye of Terror. Meanwhile the Sons of Horus carried the body of their primarch, preserved in stasis, further into the Eye, ignoring the wars that raged around them.
The XVIth Legion interred Horus' body within a great tomb, where many fell into worship of their fallen demigod. With their primarch dead and their Legion on the verge of extinction, the Sons of Horus stagnated.
Some captains suspected that it would be but a matter of time before they and their battle-brothers were drawn into the wars between the Traitor Legions, and so they pushed for the Sons of Horus to replace its losses by increasing the Legion's gene-seed stocks.
These same captains knew that any fortress, no matter how grand, could not hope to hold back a determined Space Marine assault, and called for more warriors to be found.
Unfortunately, the majority of surviving captains were convinced that the Warp would provide all the power they needed, if only they could master the methods of merging Daemon and Space Marine into the Possessed.
In the wake of the Great Scouring, the internecine wars between the other Traitor Legions who had sided with the Warmaster Horus during the Heresy, known as the Legion Wars or the Slave Wars, were initiated by the Emperor's Children Legion.
The conflict soon raged across the worlds within the Eye of Terror. Yet the Sons of Horus ignored the events happening around them, and continued to raise their fortress ever higher, worshipping the corpse of their primarch.
The Sons of Horus had remained largely apart from these conflicts; however, jealous eyes now turned their way. Traitorous forces gathered against them and conspired to rob them of the remains of Horus to further vile and selfish ambitions.
The Primarch Horus' body, with its potent genetic information and biological secrets, was a great prize indeed. In a sudden assault, the remnants of the debased Emperor's Children, having grown vastly in power after firmly cementing their terrible pacts with Slaanesh, easily smashed their way through the defences of Maeleum and into the central chambers of the Sons of Horus' stronghold.
Rise of Abaddon
Their fortress in ruins and their Legion decimated, the Sons of Horus stood on the brink of vanishing forever from the galaxy and fading into cursed memory.
The XVIth Legion devolved into in-fighting amongst themselves, giving in to dark despair or uncontrolled rage. The divisions between the Legion's captains turned into bitter bloodshed and murder, as order completely collapsed.
The salvation of the Sons of Horus came when one of its greatest captains, Ezekyle Abaddon, returned from his Dark Pilgrimage in time to watch the battle from afar. It was in that moment that he saw, with cold clarity, that it was Horus' failure that had led the Legion here, to them tearing each other apart in the blood-soaked ruins of Maeleum.
Finally, sickened by how far the Legion had fallen, he stalked through the ruins hunting down his fellow captains, cooling his rage with their final screams. In the end, Abaddon alone remained of the Legion's original leaders, demanding obedience from his brothers.
Some saw Abaddon as Horus' rightful successor and fell at his feet willingly, while others recognised his raw strength and bowed their heads to his might. A few turned their back on Abaddon, and were either cut down by their brothers or managed to escape into the Warp.
With his Legion brought to heel, Abaddon turned his attention to the clones of Horus; he commanded his warriors to extinguish all trace of their former primarch and free themselves from his shadow.
He then personally led an attack on the Emperor's Children that destroyed the body of the Primarch Horus and all its clones, and in so doing, ushered in a new age for the XVIth Legion.
The Traitors changed their name once more, this time in reference to the fact that their armour was now adorned black in mourning for lost Horus, calling themselves the Black Legion.
Through his actions, Abaddon re-invigorated the Legion, reviving the old notion that none could stand in their way and that they would one day inherit the galaxy itself.
In 781.M31, five standard centuries after his retreat from Terra, Abaddon returned to Imperial space at the head of a host of Traitors and Daemons.
It was the Imperium's first encounter with the newly founded Black Legion and the return of a brutal and bitter enemy many had thought lost to the graveyard of history.
Since the Great Scouring, Abaddon had remained within the Eye of Terror, rebuilding the Black Legion as a vengeful reflection of its former glory.
At last, the Black Legion and the other Traitors returned to realspace, the first chapter in their Long War against the Emperor ready to be written in the blood of Imperial worlds. Through alliance, threats and promises, Abaddon was able to muster the largest force of Traitor Legions seen since the Horus Heresy and took the Imperium by surprise.
Worlds close to the Eye of Terror fell into mayhem and chaos as Legions descended from the sky and Daemons tore their way into reality. Only Cadia, with its formidable defences, stood firm, its brave regiments fighting from the towering gates and bastions of their cities.
The Traitor Legions basked in their return from the Eye of Terror, bathing in the blood of innocent worlds and filling the holds of their voidships with new slaves. On a dozen planets, the Black Legion proved worthy of their fallen primarch and the martial prowess of the ancient Luna Wolves.
Abaddon had chosen his generals well, and each competed for glory as the Legion tore a bloody gouge across the stars. Zagthean the Broken led his Black Legion warband in an orgy of violence and excess on the Agri-world of Valesia.
For his own dark pleasure, the warlord constructed a vast maze of thorns from the world's blood-rose orchards, blinding his prisoners and loosing them within its twisting tunnels, before hunting them down at his leisure.
Countless inhabitants spent their final terrifying hours listening desperately for the sounds of pursuit, their flesh bleeding from dozens of thorn cuts and their lungs filled with the sickly sweet scent of the blood-rose.
Not to be outdone, Eralak and his company of Raptors brought a bloody nightmare to the floating hive cities of Melphia. Killing millions in their rampage, Eralak's warband sent dozen of cities falling from the sky as he tore out their complex suspensor arrays and vented their plasma reactors onto the farms and fields below.
Fashioning giant floating gallows from the remaining, ruined cities, the warlord hung millions of Imperial citizens, their swaying corpses forever doomed to drift across the skies of Melphia, a terrible reminder of the power of the Black Legion.
The Black Legion's greatest achievement was not only its brutal victories, but also the unity it had managed to forge among the Traitors and their daemonic allies.
This was the Legion of fear and domination Abaddon had wrought, and it was to be an ominous sign of things to come for the Imperium.
The Tower of Silence
As the bloodshed of the 1st Black Crusade reached its frenzied heights, cities burned and worlds were stripped of people to feed the dark desires of the Traitor Legions. Leaving his Black Legion to continue their brutal reprisals and raids against Imperial worlds, Abaddon pursued his own plans.
Using the howling souls unleashed into the Warp by so much death and destruction, he made a secret daemonic bargain. In payment for the feast of despair, pain and anguish Abaddon had created with his Black Crusade, the Dark Gods gifted him with knowledge of the secret location of the Tower of Silence on the world of Uralan.
Cloaked in the shadow of the Eye of Terror, Uralan was whispered of in daemonic lore as a place where the gods themselves locked away their secrets. Following strands of fate unravelled by his cabal of Chaos Sorcerers, Abaddon had discovered a concealed path through the Warp and across the shifting sea of worlds beyond to reach Uralan without needing to breach the Cadian Gate.
With a cadre of the Black Legion's elite warriors, each one a brutal veteran of a thousand battles, Abaddon set foot on Uralan and entered the Tower of Silence. Almost at once, the tower's guardians set upon them, ancient constructs of dark energy that shifted and flickered, their claws tearing at the ragged edges of his warriors' souls.
After the bitter battle, Abaddon climbed down into the mirrored heart of Uralan. There, Abaddon wandered the massive haunted labyrinth for what seemed an age, fighting off the spirits of the dead that threatened to add him to their ranks.
Eventually, Abaddon made his way towards the centre of the labyrinth where a shard of shifting darkness hung suspended in the air. Reaching out into the void, Abaddon felt the cold hilt of a blade meet his palm and he pulled it into reality; the Daemonsword Drach'nyen took terrible shape before his eyes.
After the recovery of the malefic sword, the new Warmaster of Chaos became nigh unstoppable. Whole cities were burned in sacrifice to the ever-hungry Daemons of Chaos, and entire armies were torn apart by gibbering Warp entities.
Abaddon's power swelled to inhuman proportions as the gods of Chaos rewarded him lavishly and he undertook acts of fiendish bravery which horrified those who stood against him.
In what would become a festering thorn in the side of the Imperium, the Traitor Legions, often led by the Black Legion or even Abaddon himself, would repeatedly spill out of the Eye of Terror to burn and pillage entire sectors in the years following this first major incursion into realspace.
In the light of dying stars and flaming cities, the Black Legion would indulge their hatred of the Imperium, indiscriminately killing the servants of the False Emperor and tearing down anything they saw as a symbol of the Corpse-God.
During these so-called "Black Crusades", whole star systems would be destroyed in conflicts that would drag on for standard decades or centuries until, as suddenly as they had appeared, the Black Legion would retreat into the Eye of Terror, their holds filled with slaves and plunder.
The Segmentum Obscurus suffered terribly in these endless wars against the fallen Space Marine Legions, but in truth nowhere was safe from their treacherous reach.
This was something the Black Legion proved time and again as it cemented its infamous reputation among the armies of the Imperium as a pitiless foe.
- Codex: Chaos (2nd Edition), pp. 20, 98
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 1st Codex), pg. 22
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex), pp. 8, 44
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 24, 46
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 20, 22, 57
- Black Legion - A Codex Chaos Space Marine Supplement (6th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 26-28, 65
- Liber Chaotica: Khorne, pg. 82