The Chronicles of Ursh were the historical annals written by an unknown author of the pre-Imperium nation-state of Ursh, which thrived during the Age of Strife on Ancient Terra. The Chronicles were forty chapters, that detailed the rise of the savage reign of Kalagann and the wars of Ursh against the Nordafrik Conclaves. During this time, the techno-barbarians dominated the devastated planet during this tumultuous period of history. Humanity was stranded on Terra and cut off from interstellar travel or astropathic communications due to the fearsome Warp Storms that marked the period just before the birth of the Chaos God Slaanesh and the Fall of the Eldar. The techno-barbarians were humans who had no knowledge of the workings of advanced science, yet who warred ceaselessly for the last scraps of forgotten technology from Mankind's glorious past.
The Chronicles of Ursh documented the long and bloody events leading up to the outbreak of the Unification Wars, the period when the Emperor of Mankind personally, and openly, took control of humanity's destiny. The Chronicles were excessively bloody and described scenes of utter destruction wrought by the techno-barbarians. Long-forgotten cities were routinely sacked, or burned, or simply evaporated in nuclear storms. Seas were regularly stained with blood, skies with ash, and landscapes were often carpeted with the bleached and numberless bones of the conquered. When armies marched, they marched a billion strong, the ragged banners of a million standards swaying above their heads in the atomic winds. The battles were stupendous maelstroms of blades and spiked black helms and baying horns, lit by the fires of cannons and burners. Page after page celebrated the cruel practices and equally cruel character of the despot Kalagann. According to the Chronicles, some of these terrible wars made the seas run red with blood, and rent the sky with "forgottyn magiks," and "daeymons most foul woulde prowle the earth and tear the land asunder."
Fanciful logic abounded, as did an air of strained realism. Feats of arms were described that no pre-Unity warriors could have accomplished. These, after all, were the feral hosts of techno-barbarians that the proto-Astartes, in their crude thunder armour, had been created to bring to heel. Kalagann's great generals, Lurtois and Sheng Khal and, later, Quallodon, were described in language more appropriate to primarchs. They carved, for Kalagann, an impossibly vast domain during the latter part of the Age of Strife.
Conquest of the Nordafrik Conclaves
One sequence mentions the general Shang Khal, who had assembled a significant horde of irregular levies from the southern client states of Ursh, and used them to support his main armed strengths, including the infamous Tupelov Lancers and the Red Engines, during the invasion. The Nordafrik technogogues had preserved a great deal more high technology for the good of their conclaves than Ursh possessed, and sheer envy, more than anything, motivated the war. Kalagann was hungry for the fine instruments and mechanisms the conclaves owned.
Eight epic battles marked Shang Khal's advance into the Nordafrik zones, the greatest of them being Xozer. Over a period of nine days and nights, the war machines of the Red Engines blasted their way across the cultivated agroponic pastures and reduced them back to the desert from which they had originally been irrigated and nurtured. They cut through the laser thorn hedges and the jewelled walls of the outer conclave, and unleashed dirty atomics into the heart of the ruling zone, before the Lancers led a tidal wave of screaming berserkers through the breach into the earthly paradise of the gardens at Xozer, the last fragment of Eden on a corrupted planet. Which they, of course, trampled underfoot.
At the heart of the ruling zone, a ninth, minor battle had marked the conquest, almost as an afterthought. One bastion had remained, the murengon, or walled sanctuary, where the last hierophants of the conclaves held out, practising, so the text said, their "scio-mancy by the flame lyght of their burning realm." Shang Khal, wishing swift resolution to the conquest, had sent Anult Keyser to crush the sanctuary. Keyser was lord martial of the Tupelov Lancers and, by various bonds of honour, could call freely upon the services of the Roma, a squadron of mercenary fliers whose richly decorated interceptors, legend said, never landed or touched the earth, but lived eternally in the scope of the air. During the advance on the murengon, Keyser's oneirocriticks -- which meant "interpreters of dreams" -- had warned of the hierophants’ sciomancy, and their phantasmagorian ways.
When the battle began, just as the oneirocriticks had warned, majiks were unleashed. Plagues of insects, as thick as monsoon rain and so vast in their swirling masses that they blacked out the sun, fell upon Keyser’s forces, choking air intakes, weapon ports, visors, ears, mouths and throats. Water boiled without fire. Engines overheated or burned out. Men turned to stone, or their bones turned to paste, or their flesh succumbed to boils and buboes and flaked off their limbs. Others went mad. Some became daemons and turned upon their own.
Anult Keyser himself was slain by one such daemon, which had, just hours previously, been his loyal lieutenant, Wilhym Mardol. When Shang Khal heard the news, he flew into a fury, and went at once to the scene, bringing with him what the text described as his "wrathsingers," who appeared to be magi of some sort. Their leader, or master, was a man called Mafeo Orde, and somehow, Orde drew the wrathsingers into a kind of remote warfare with the hierophants. Throughout the chapters of the Chronicles, words such as "sorcery" and "majik" were employed frequency, without qualification, and there were invocations to dark, primordial gods. Possible an early indication of the mandkind's first contact with the the Ruinous Powers.
To those raised in the beliefs of Imperial Truth during the Great Crusade, and the later Imperial Creed after the Horus Heresy, the Chronicles depiction of these wars were grandiloquent and outrageous. The account was seen by many Iterators as nonsense because of its talk of "daemons and magick," but some, such as Kyril Sindermann, an notable Iterator who accompanied the Sons of Horus Legion's 63rd Expeditionary Fleet of the Great Crusade, valued it for its historical significance, despite its obvious mistruths and exaggeration in parts. References to Kalagann's "sorcerous" powers, and the "invisibles artes" that formed a key part of Ursh's power, many readers often took them to be hyperbole.
In this squence was the first time sorcery had appeared on the page, as a kind of fact. The earth trembled, as if afraid. The sky tore like silk. Many in the Urshite force heard the voices of the dead whispering to them. Men caught fire, and walked around, bathed in lambent flames that did not consume them, pleading for help. The remote war between the wrathsingers and the hierophants lasted for six days, and when it ended, the ancient desert was thick with snow, and the skies had turned blood red. The air formations of the Roma had been forced to flee, lest their craft be torn from the heavens by screaming angels and dashed down upon the ground. At the end of it, all the wrathsingers were dead, except Orde himself. The murengon was a smoking hole in the ground, its stone walls so hideously melted by heat they had become slips of glass. And the hierophants were extinct. It is suspected that these fell creatures and sorcerers were in fact, humanity's first unexpected encounter with the Chaos Gods, their sorcererous followers as well as other minor entities of the Warp.
The Emperor eventually won the Unification Wars through the use of his genetically-modified human warriors, the proto-Astartes, or Thunder Warriors, who were created from some of the former techno-barbarians who swore allegiance to the Emperor. These warriors were the precursor to the Adeptus Astartes, the Space Marines who would initiate the Great Crusade to reunify all of humanity beneath the aegis of the Emperor and his Imperium of Man. The later parts of the work recounted the fall of Kalagann, and described the apocalyptic conquest of Ursh by the forces of Unity. Passages refer to enemy warriors bearing the thunderbolt and lightning emblem, which had been the personal device of the Emperor before the eagle of the Imperium was formalised. These men saluted with the old fist of unity and were clearly arrayed in thunder armour.
Contents of the Chronicles of Ursh
Some of the notable events and topics mention in the Chronicles of Ursh include:
- Putrid daemons (assumed to be Nurglings) that would emerge from the viscera of the young.
- Carrion fed upon the dead until they could not fly.
- The seas ran red with blood.
- Techo-barbarian leader Venshach was force to eat his own daughter, from the feet up, so she could watch.
- Mountains crumbled under the sheer force of the unleashed power of sorcerers.
- The elderly turned to snakes.
- Men went mad with the lust for blood, and turned into daemons before the eyes of their village.
- Horus Rising (Novel) by Dan Abnett