Belial is the current Grand Master of the Dark Angels Chapter of Space Marines' elite 1st Company, known as the Deathwing. The 1st Company of every Space Marine Chapter represents the apex amongst a warrior elite, and none are held in higher regard than the Deathwing of the Dark Angels. Lauded for countless victories across the millennia, the Deathwing are the epitome of Lion El'Jonson's ideals: courageous, noble, indefatigable and unwavering in their dedication.
To lead such a company requires a commander of the most exceptional ability, judgement and fortitude. Grand Master Belial is just such an individual. He commands the Deathwing in their never-ending hunt for the Fallen Angels. Belial swiftly earned the approval of the Chapter's Supreme Grand Master Azrael, as well as the admiration and unswerving loyalty of those under his command.
To be named the Grand Master of the Deathwing is to be named a lion of the battlefield, a tactician without peer and the Chapter's most loyal paladin. Grand Master Belial, to whom the title currently belongs, has earned such an honour with deeds that would fill volumes, if the Dark Angels allowed such things to be written. Belial is a warrior born -- a killer whose skill with Bolter and blade have always stood out, even amongst his superhuman brethren. His martial prowess is without style or artifice; there is no flourish to Belial's swordplay, no extravagance to his movements. Yet even as a Neophyte, none but the Masters could best him in practice. Throughout his rise through the ranks, it was noted that Brother Belial was a perfectionist -- chastising himself for a single missed shot. As a commander, Belial did not revel in triumphs, but instead, he begrudged the losses, castigating himself for the least mistake. Those beneath him came to expect that, after each action -- even the most glorious victories -- Belial would find them and assign each his own specific penitence, be it battle drills, hymnals, or arduous rites of atonement. Such discipline was not lamented, but embraced -- for it was easy to see that Belial was righteous and his success undeniable.
The Deathwing have fought in scores of battles under the leadership of Belial, distinguishing themselves in such campaigns as the fighting around the Eye of Terror during the Abaddon the Despoiler's 13th Black Crusade. Belial and the Deathwing would prove pivotal in subsequent victories over the Forces of Chaos on Crassia II and routing the Violators Renegade Chapter on the world of Terraq after a brutal campaign.
Amongst all the Dark Angels, there are none who judge themselves more abrasively than Belial. To the Grand Master of the 1st Company, leader of the famous Deathwing, every Battle-Brother lost, every foe not efficiently slain, only makes the defence of the Imperium of Man, and the path to redemption for himself and his Chapter, that much more difficult.
The semi-Feudal World of Bregundia is ruled by a number of knightly orders called Societies, and it was into the nobility of the Society of the Ebon Star that Belial was born. Son of the Society's Magister Militum, Belial was destined from birth to be a warrior and a leader and was raised accordingly. He learned to wield a sword as soon as he was able to lift one, and into his young mind were poured all the principles of Bregundian chivalry, military strategy and the precepts of command. As a recruiting world for the Sons of the Lion, Bregundia is visited by the Chaplains of the Dark Angels every few decades so that they might pick the most prominent and skilled knightly aspirants and squires for testing. Such an event happened shortly after Belial's seventeenth birthday (the equivalent of eleven standard years by Terran reckoning) but the youth's father forbade him from entering the tournament which would determine the hopeful boy's fate -- Belial was destined to become Magister Militum like his forefathers.
Stealing the armour of a lowlier knight, Belial ignored his father's command and entered the contest, keeping his visor lowered to conceal his identity. None could best him, and he was duly declared the Ebon Star's candidate to be tested as a Chapter Aspirant. When Chaplain Lamorak demanded that the young knight remove his helm to be identified, Belial refused, fearing that his father would see him and withdraw his application. Lamorak insisted and Belial again deferred, claiming that he would rather face the Chaplain in combat than reveal himself. Lamorak accepted the challenge, expecting to best the upstart squire in moments, but the duel that followed lasted a full seven minutes -- an extraordinary effort for any non-augmented human. Eventually, Lamorak landed a blow that sent Belial crashing to the floor and the youth was bested. Forced to remove his helm, he revealed his true identity. As Belial feared, his father demanded that the Dark Angels choose another Aspirant -- but Lamorak overruled the Magister Militum, saying that Belial was surely the most capable recruit he had encountered since becoming a Chaplain. The Society of the Ebon Star would lose a proud warrior and future leader, but their loss was to the benefit of the Dark Angels -- and the Imperium of Man.
The Perfection of Self
Throughout his time as an Aspirant and a Scout, few could defeat Belial with a blade, and as he acclimated to the Adeptus Astartes' genetic enhancements and organ implants, only the most experienced warriors of the Chapter could defeat him. When he ascended to the full rank of Battle-Brother, Belial's first act was to challenge Chaplain Lamorak to a rematch -- a duel Belial won in under a minute. The teachings of the Dark Angels and the doctrines of the Ebon Star are combined in Belial, driving him to seek a state of perfection as both a warrior-noble and a Space Marine. Brutally efficient with Bolter and blade, as a warrior, Belial had few peers amongst his brethren. He applied the same drive to learning the principles of tactics and strategy, command and logistics, and though his rise was not as meteoric as some of the most famed Masters of the Chapter, Belial's knowledge and skill is wide-ranging and perhaps without equal. Motivated to learn as much from every victory as defeat, Belial would frequently impose penitence and atonements upon himself for perceived failures, and when he was promoted to Sergeant, such impositions were shared with the other warriors of his squad. No matter how small or seemingly insignificant a flaw he found, Belial was ready to atone and improve. A missed shot, a delay of seconds in responding to an order, a wayward blow or clumsy step, all were treated with the same regard as a failure. Over the decades, Belial and his squad gained renown amongst the Dark Angels' 3rd Company in which they served, and their ethos spread to other Battle-Brothers. Many of those who learned from Belial’s example went on to serve in the Deathwing, so that at one time, the 3rd Company provided twice as many warriors to the 1st Company as any other.
Furion's Black Crusade
Belial rose to prominence as a Master of the Chapter whilst fighting during the Black Crusade of Furion, a formidable Chaos Lord dedicated to the bloodthirsty god Khorne. In the ruins of the vast Temple Saturnis on the ravaged Cardinal World of Durga Principe, the Dark Angels 3rd Company were set to halt the Black Crusade of Furion. Dedicated to Khorne, Furion had already laid waste to seventeen star systems. Imperial forces including Space Marines from several Chapters, amongst them the Angels of Absolution, confronted the horde of the Chaos Champion. In support of their Successor Chapter, the Dark Angels dispatched the 3rd Company.
Master Nadael placed his warriors directly in the path of Furion's Berzerkers, planning to hold the coming attack long enough for the other Imperial forces to surround and crush the invading Chaos army. However, such was Furion’s hunger for bloodshed that he force-marched his army through the long, freezing Durga night and came upon the Dark Angels before their defences were fully prepared. As the lead elements of the Khornate host entered the Temple Saturnis, Nadael moved with his Command Squad to bolster the outer perimeter. He arrived only to find the outlying squads overrun and was himself slain soon after. Belial was the most senior Sergeant of the company left alive, and it was no surprise that the rest of the company instantly looked to him for leadership.
As they had been unable to fortify the Temple Saturnis sufficiently, the sprawling chambers, corridors and cloisters would eliminate the Dark Angels’ advantage of firepower and become a killing ground for the Khornate Berzerkers; to withdraw immediately would leave the raging pursuers free to fall upon the 3rd Company’s rear. Belial and his squad formed a rearguard to allow the rest of the company to withdraw in good order, and set off into the ruins to combat the incoming Chaos horde. Using the maze of ruins to manoeuvre and fire, Belial and his squad ambushed several Berzerker squads and destroyed them without taking any losses. Buying time for the retreat, the Dark Angels were eventually forced to hold ground at the edge of the ruins, and it was here that Furion himself led the next attack.
Furion was carnage incarnate, tearing into the Dark Angels without pause. Belial met the Khornate Champion face-to-face even as the rest of his squad battled Furion's personal guard. Matching discipline against pure rage, Belial eventually managed a bloody victory by slicing through Furion's leg and placing two bolt rounds into his corrupt hearts as he fell. The death of Furion threw the Chaos army into disarray. The 3rd Company were able to pour fire on the Khornate horde from their new positions, and with their leader dead, the Black Crusade splintered and was destroyed over the following months. Returning to The Rock, Belial was promoted to the rank of Master of the 3rd Company. To mark his achievement against Furion, Azrael himself presented Belial with the Sword of Silence, one of the fabled Heavenfall Blades. This blade has traditionally been gifted to the most lethal close-quarters combatant in the Chapter. It was forged from the same meteorite as the Sword of Secrets, and by some trick of its making, the weapon seems to swallow nearby sound, absorbing it into its energised obsidian blade. It has been Belial's badge of office and honour ever since.
A Demanding Master
Despite his victories, Belial's quest for perfection continued as he became accustomed to his new role. The 3rd Company was turned into a benchmark of discipline and lethal efficiency. Never once giving thought to defeat, Belial fought in dozens of campaigns, most notably against the Ork Warlords Ghazghkull Thraka and Nazdreg on the world of Piscina IV during the campaigns surrounding the Third War for Armageddon in 998.M41. Despite suffering near-terminal injuries, Belial went on to command a successful holding action against the Ork invaders, saving the capital Kadillus Harbour from repeated attacks. When Grand Master Gabriel was slain leading the Deathwing aboard the Space Hulk Charnel Shrine during the events of the 13th Black Crusade in 999.M41, there was only one candidate for his replacement voiced by the Inner Circle of the Chapter. Belial's reputation as a hard but fair taskmaster, coupled with his personal prowess, made him the obvious successor. Becoming Grand Master of the Deathwing did not soften Belial’s demeanour in any respect. He leads from the front of every campaign, setting an example to his warriors that has further heightened the expertise and dedication of the Dark Angels' 1st Company.
Though other matters demanded his attention, and he had not been in command at the time, Belial was driven to atone for the Deathwing's defeat on the Charnel Shrine. He was Deathwing, and their reputation and his were one and the same. The mark against the company was a dishonour that gnawed at Belial, and when he was granted the opportunity, he requested that he lead the Deathwing back to the Space Hulk to correct the previous failure. Knowing that such a thorn can work terrible injuries in the mind of one such as Belial, Azrael granted the 1st Company commander any resources required for the mission. Belial turned down the assistance of any other company, saying that it was the Deathwing alone that would pass judgement on the denizens of the Charnel Shrine.
The Space Hulk was an enormous conglomeration of dozens of different vessels, stretching over twenty cubic miles. It was inhabited by both a large brood of Genestealers and an Ork tribe, which occupied opposite ends of the massive structure. They seemed oblivious to each other's presence, and having discovered the Orks in the previous engagement, it was the unexpected appearance of the Genestealers that had doomed the first attack. Gabriel's initial plan had been a targeted strike to reactivate a plasma reactor on one of the dormant vessels, which would initiate a chain-reaction detonation to destroy the Hulk. Belial eschewed this strategy, preferring systemic cleansing, corridor by corridor, chamber by chamber. By this means alone would he be satisfied that every foe had been slain. In a campaign that was waged incessantly for seventy-three solar days, the Deathwing launched assault after assault, driving the Genestealers out of their brood-nests towards the Orks, whilst simultaneously purging the Ork settlements to force the Greenskins into the Tyranid bio-constructs. The inevitable conclusion was fighting between the two alien races, draining their strength further.
Like a predator stalking its prey, the Deathwing cleansed the passages and rooms, eliminating the survivors of both alien species, advancing deep into the Hulk with Belial always at the forefront. The final engagement aboard the Charnel Shrine took place around the Plasma Reactor previously selected by Gabriel. Assured that the xenos inhabitants had been corralled on this one component-vessel, Belial led another strike team accompanied by several Techmarines. The reactor was brought back on-line and forced into overcharge. Under bombardment by the Dark Angels vessels in attendance, the Orks and Genestealers were prevented from escaping while the Deathwing teleported to safety. The resulting explosion ripped apart the Hulk, destroying everything that remained. Never one to overlook any detail, Belial sent search-and-destroy teams into the remnants for a further eighteen solar days, until he finally declared the enemy wiped out and the company's honour restored.
The Hunt for the Fallen
As well as campaigns against xenos, Heretics, mutants and the Forces of Chaos, Belial has been instrumental in the hunt for the Fallen Angels. His temperament of ruthlessness and efficiency intersects well with the more flamboyant approach practised by Grand Master Sammael of the Ravenwing. Recent plans to capture the Fallen combine Sammael’s daring and creativity with Belial's thoroughness and persistence, and the Interrogator-Chaplains have been kept busy by their efforts over the latter decades of the 41st Millennium. To Belial, every Fallen yet to be captured is a stain upon the Chapter's honour -- and his own -- and their continued existence is an affront to his nature. To the Grand Master of the Deathwing, the quest for redemption and the search for perfection are one and the same.
Under Belial's austere and exacting leadership, the Deathwing continues to earn praise in the fighting around the Eye of Terror, winning victories on the marshes of Crassia II and routing the Violators on the planet Terraq after a brutal campaign. It was Belial who arrived in time to save his fellow Grand Master Sammael from the crushing death grip of Marbas -- cutting the Fallen Daemon Prince's hand off with the Sword of Silence. Alas, he could not finish the job, however, as the lion-headed foe won free and escaped, his loathsome claw-hand regrowing anew even as he took flight. In all his long service to the Dark Angels, the only other foe to have bested Belial in close combat was the Ork Warlord Ghazghkull Thraka on Piscina IV. Such memories of failure still cause Belial pain.
- Master-crafted Terminator Armour - To represent his venerable status within the ranks of the Chapter, Grand Master Belial wears master-crafted Indomitus Pattern Tactical Dreadnought Armour into battle.
- Storm Bolter
- Thunder Hammer - When leading the Deathwing to war, Belial is known to wield a Thunder Hammer. Favoured by those wearing Terminator Armour, this formidable melee weapon releases a terrific blast of coruscating electromagnetic energy when he strikes his foes.
- Iron Halo
- Storm Shield - Used in conjunction with a Thunder Hammer or the Sword of Silence, Belial's Storm Shield provides additional protection when fighting in close quarters. The shield's energy field generator is very useful in close combat where it is capable of deflecting almost any attack, even blows from Power Weapons.
- Sword of Silence - In times of need, Belial wields the famous master-crafted Power Sword known as the Sword of Silence. This sword is one of a quadrumvirate of legendary swords collectively known as the Heavenfall Blades. These formidable weapons are only carried by the highest-ranking members of the Inner Circle of the Dark Angels. The Chapter's lore states that these blades were forged from the core of a meteorite that struck The Rock in orbit around the Feral World of Al Baradad. The mightiest of these blades is the Sword of Secrets, carried by the Supreme Grand Master of the Chapter, and the current wielder of that sword is Azrael. The blades wielded by the Master of the Deathwing and the Master of the Ravenwing also utilise small amounts of the obsidian taken from the meteorite in their working. It is also said that a small portion of this meteoric substance was despatched to each of the Dark Angels' Successor Chapters, so that the senior members of the Unforgiven's own Inner Circles would also bear the same heritage forged in steel as those borne by the Masters of the Dark Angels. The Sword of Silence has traditionally been gifted to the most lethal close-quarters combatant in the Dark Angels. The Sword of Silence seems to swallow nearby light and sound, absorbing them into its glowing obsidian blade.
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Dark Angels (8th Edition), pp. 48, 77
- Codex: Dark Angels (6th Edition), pg. 56
- Codex: Dark Angels (4th Edition), pp. 42-43
- Warlords of the Dark Millennium: Belial (Digital Edition), pp. 3-9, 22-26
- Master of Sanctity (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- The Unforgiven (Novel) by Gav Thorpe