Argel Tal was a Captain of the Word Bearers Legion who served in the 7th Assault Company of the Serrated Sun Chapter. After the Word Bearers' chastisement by the Emperor on the world of Khur, and the subsequent "pilgrimage" undertaken by the Word Bearers' Primarch Lorgar Aurelian into the Eye of Terror, the Serrated Sun Chapter was reduced to only three active companies in number after their sojourn into the Eye.
Those members that returned from their journey, returned changed. The direct favour of Lorgar was bestowed upon the survivors, who would later become known as the Gal Vorbak (Colchisian for "Blessed Sons"), and resulted in the elevation of their leader, Argel Tal, to the post of Chapter Master of the Serrated Sun.
These "Dark Brethren" became the first of the Daemonhosts later known as the Possessed amongst the Forces of Chaos. Argel Tal would be known as the "Crimson Lord" of the elite Gal Vorbak and of a similar elite unit of Possessed called the Vakrah Jal. He would go on to take part in many major campaigns of the Horus Heresy, including the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V, the Shadow Crusade in the Realm of Ultramar, and the massacre on the World Eaters' Primarch Angron's homeworld of Nuceria, where Argel Tal met his dark fate.
Argel Tal was born in the village of Singh-Rukh on the world of Colchis, the homeworld of the Primarch Lorgar. Argel Tal's name meant "The Last Angel" in the Colchisian dialect of the southern steppe tribes, as he was the final child to be born in his family. Tal was inducted into the Word Bearers Legion of Space Marines by its First Chaplain Erebus, who at first had chosen him to become one of that Astartes Legion's Chaplains before he rejected that honour.
Instead, Argel Tal eventually became the Captain of the 7th Assault Company of the Serrated Sun Chapter of the Word Bearers. While aboard the light cruiser Orfeo's Lament alongside the former Cadian priestess and Daemon Prince Ingethel the Ascended, Argel Tal was among the first humans of the Imperium of Man to discover the Realm of Chaos that existed in the Immaterium within the Eye of Terror Warp rift while the Serrated Sun Chapter carried out the Pilgrimage of Lorgar.
While in the Immaterium, Tal was possessed without his knowledge, like many of his fellow Astartes in the Serrated Sun Chapter, by a daemon, in this case one called Raum. Unlike later possession of Daemonhosts by the malevolent entities of the Empyrean, this possession was less a brutal subjugation of the host's physical body than a symbiotic fusion of both beings on a spiritual level.
Indeed, Lorgar would later point to Argel Tal and his fellow survivors of the journey into the Eye of Terror as examples of what Mankind could become if Horus succeeded in overthrowing the rule of the Emperor of Mankind and delivering the galaxy into the service of the Chaos Gods. Tal eventually returned to his Legion after a 7-month-long subjective ordeal in the Eye of Terror that lasted only moments for those of the Legion waiting in realspace for the Serrated Sun's return.
During questioning by Lorgar, Tal detailed what he had experienced in the Eye of Terror, providing useful insight later used as the foundation for the heretical Book of Lorgar outlining worship in the Chaos Gods. In honour of his achievements, Lorgar made Argel Tal the Captain of his Gal Vorbak (the "Blessed Sons" in Colchisian) an elite cadre of Astartes made up of the surviving members of the Serrated Sun Chapter who were the first to wear the crimson colour on their Power Armour that would eventually become the standard colour called "Traitor's Red" for the entire XVII Legion after their turn to Chaos during the Horus Heresy.
Argel Tal led the Gal Vorbak on Istvaan V during the infamous Drop Site Massacre against the Raven Guard Legion and their Loyalist allies, the Salamanders and Iron Hands. Argel Tal was the only Word Bearer trusted by the Legio Custodes warriors who had been tasked with watching over Lorgar by the Emperor of Mankind after the Primarch's betrayal of the Imperial Truth on the world of Khur. This made his ultimate betrayal of them all the more poignant when he was responsible for their murder after they discovered that the Word Bearers had become Traitors to the Imperium at Istvaan V.
Sometime during the first 40 Terran years of the Gal Vorbak's existence before the battle on Istvaan V, Argel Tal become known as the "Crimson Lord" amongst the Astartes of the XVII Legion and later across the Imperium. The group of over 100 Remembrancers sent to the Word Bearers before the Drop Site Massacre already knew Argel Tal by this title, indicating that he earned it well before the start of the Heresy.
During the Pilgrimage of Lorgar into the Eye of Terror, when the Primarch Lorgar followed the Serrated Sun into the Warp rift after they returned to report their experiences to him, he was shown many Chaos visions by the daemon Ingethel the Ascended of events that were soon to transpire or come to pass in a number of possible futures. This is especially true of some of the events surrounding the galaxy-spanning conflict known as the Horus Heresy, which occurred over 40 Terran years after the Pilgrimage.
One of these visions included the Battle of Terra, the final battle of the Horus Heresy. Lorgar saw in this vision Argel Tal transformed in the midst of battle into a gargantuan daemon-possessed Astartes. In his daemonic form Tal appeared quite powerful and significantly larger and taller than his Primarch.
The vision showed that the daemonic Tal would go on a bloody rampage through the ranks of an Imperial Fists squad before finally dying at the hands of the Primarch Sanguinius at the threshold of the Imperial Palace's inner Eternity Gate. Whether or not this vision came to pass is unknown, as visions granted by the Ruinous Powers are sometimes outright false or only contain a kernel of the truth.
Following the events of the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V, Argel Tal was the sole surviving original member of the Gal Vorbak, having been seconded to the World Eaters Legion for temporary duty before the Word Bearers' assault on Calth. Argel Tal forsook his oaths to the annihilated Serrated Sun Chapter and gained permission from his Primarch Lorgar to form a newly constituted formation, known as the Vakrah Jal, the Chapter of Consecrated Iron, who rose from the ashes of Word Bearers companies devastated on the killing fields of Istvaan V.
This new elite formation of Possessed Chaos Space Marines trained for solar months in the fighting pits aboard the World Eaters' flagship Conqueror. When they were finally deemed ready, Argel Tal led the Vakrah Jal in the Shadow Crusade, a joint military campaign conducted during the opening days of the Horus Heresy into the Realm of Ultramar by the Word Bearers and the World Eaters Legions.
The two Traitor Legions proceeded to lay waste to the Ultramarines Legion's stellar empire in the Eastern Fringe of the galaxy, rapidly destroying twenty-six worlds in quick succession. This campaign ensured the success of the sorcerous Ruinstorm that had been conjured by the Word bearers during the Battle of Calth, which would ultimately divide the galaxy in two, effectively cutting Ultramar off from the rest of the Imperium of Man. This was intended to make it impossible for the Ultramarines and several of the other Loyalist Legions to travel through the Warp to reinforce the Loyalist defenders on Terra.
During this campaign, Argel Tal fought alongside the World Eaters' 8th Assault Captain Khârn, whom he had developed a kinship with during the course of the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy, becoming "honour brothers" in the process. During one of the Shadow Crusade's early campaigns, the joint Traitor fleet was to assault the War World of Armatura, a vitally important planet that fed the Ultramarines Legion with recruits and munitions.
Argel Tal also took part in the massacre upon Angron's homeworld of Nuceria when the World Eaters Primarch sought to purge his hated homeworld of all life. Enraged by the lies that had been told about him over the last century, that he had abandoned his fellow gladiators out of cowardice on the day they had all been slain, Angron ordered his Legion and the supporting Vakrah Jal to kill everyone in the capital city of Desh'ea, the masters of which had once claimed to own him. Then they were to wipe out every other living thing on the cursed planet.
Argel Tal eagerly took part in the slaughter, but at the height of this bloody campaign, the World Eaters and Word Bearers were confronted by the wrathful Ultramarines Legion, led by their Primarch Roboute Guilliman. Argel Tal was ultimately betrayed by the Word Bearers' First Chaplain Erebus, who viciously stabbed the Crimson Lord in the back with his Athame dagger.
Erebus later claimed that Argel Tal's influence over his friend Khârn would prevent the World Eaters Assault Captain from embracing his fate, by becoming a servant of the Ruinous Powers, and that this would cost the Traitors the war.
The Daemon Prince Ingethal the Ascended's prophecy given during the Pilgrimage of Lorgar was thus fulfilled -- Argel Tal indeed died "in the shadow of great wings," since he was slain in the shadow of a large Imperial Aquila located on top of the Imperator-class Titan, Corinthian.
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 148-149
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