- "Take me from my home, and I will sail to the stars of your empire. I will serve as a son must serve. But let Colchis stand as I have shaped it: a planet of peace and prosperity."
Colchis was the Imperial Feudal World of the Segmentum Pacificus that was the homeworld of the Primarch Lorgar and his Word Bearers Legion of Space Marines before the Horus Heresy. Colchis was a world governed by a theocracy called the Covenant dedicated to the worship of a polytheistic religion called the "Old Faith," which centred on the worship of the Chaos Gods before the arrival of Lorgar.
After the Horus Heresy, the planet was destroyed by Exterminatus, an order carried out by the forces of the Imperium as the Loyalists sought to purge every source of Chaos corruption from the Emperor's shattered realm, including the damned homeworlds of every one of the Traitor Legions of Heretic Astartes.
A Planet of Faith
The world of Colchis was one of the first worlds settled in Mankind's exploration of the stars. Located to the galactic northwest of Terra within the region of space later known as the Segmentum Pacificus, Colchis was located towards this Segmentum's westernmost region along the border of the neighbouring Segmentum Obscurus. Colchis' continental masses were dotted with strange, crumbling edifices, and no amount of exploration and research could fathom their purpose.
At three times the size of Terra, with a fraction of the population, it took almost five standard years to turn once around its merciless sun. And it turned with great patience; a day lasted a Terran week, a week lasted a Terran month. From orbit, its skin was a visage of unforgiving mountain ranges and auburn desert plains, veined by threading rivers. It was in dry lands like these that that humanity's ancestors -- the very first men and women on the world no longer called Earth -- rose in lands that would become known as the cradle of civilisation.
Mechanicum Explorators at the time of the Great Crusade in the late 30th Millennium put the date of its first human settlement sometime during the 16th Millennium, though it is impossible to be certain. Imperial scholars and historians believe that the world of Colchis was once highly advanced technologically during the Dark Age of Technology like much of the rest of human-settled space, but fell into anarchy during the turbulent time known as the Age of Strife and that its population regressed to the level of a pre-industrial, feudal society.
Few records remain of the Colchisian society that arose from the ashes of the Age of Strife. Various fragments of these records are reproduced in the Speculum Historiale, the exhaustive history of the Great Crusade penned by the historian Carpinus. In his description of Colchis, Carpinus tells of a caste of priests calling themselves the Covenant who rebuilt the shattered society of Colchis on the promise that a great leader would one day come to deliver them from the darkness their world had descended into. With harsh religious observance, the Covenant's strict dogma became a gigantic, monolithic belief structure that permeated every facet of daily life on Colchis. Colchis was a world of peace and law, and the people of Vharadesh, the capital city of the world also known as the City of Grey Flowers, respected its holy leaders above all.
Over the generations, civilisation had spread itself thin across the arid continents of Colchis, with most of its city-states clinging to the coasts. Each city-state maintained links to the others though sky trade and ocean freight, on a world where roads across the desert plains would be little more than folly. Unlike much of the emergent Imperium, Colchis was unprotected by vast orbital weapon platforms. More tellingly, it also had little in the way of the industrious space stations responsible for feeding and refuelling parasitic expeditionary fleets in their crusades through the galaxy.
Colchis at this time still bore the scars of long-forgotten greatness -- an age of wonders, ended in fire. In that sense, it was a future echo of what Khur would eventually become following the rebuke of Lorgar and his entire Word Bearers Legion by the Emperor of Mankind. The world's surface was bruised dark by the bones of dead cities, fallen in unrecorded ages, never resettled. New cities had risen elsewhere with the genesis of a simpler, quieter culture. The ancient ruins suggested a machine-driven empire had once ruled Colchis, though little evidence ever came to light regarding its destruction. The lost kingdom's legacy was evident even in orbit, where drifting, dead hulks -- locked in orbits that would still take millennia to completely decay -- marked the graves of interstellar shipyards.
At that time, few Imperial fleets ventured near Colchis, and not merely because of its lack of resupply capacity. Rumours circulated, citing unreliable shipping lanes, and the disappearance of the 2188th Expeditionary Fleet in a nearby region added fuel to that particular fire. Colchis seemed a world focused upon looking inwards, even backwards, refusing to clear its skies of wreckage from the Dark Age of Technology, and resisting all Imperial edicts to establish new orbital bases. The planet's one concession was to allow the Mechanicum of Mars access to those serene hulks, letting the Tech-priests plunder whatever they desired. The region was not haunted. No Imperial commander would ever give voice to a laughable superstition, when such words were holdovers from a more indecorous age. Yet still Colchis saw scarce traffic, and its resistance to supplying the Great Crusade remained inviolate.
It was said this defiance could only have come from Lorgar, the Emperor's Seventeenth Son, for no other authority would allow a planet to remain so curiously provincial. In the capital city of Colchis, Vharadesh, a golden plaque was fixed to the immense doors leading into the Spire Temple of the Covenant. This tablet marked the Primarch's supposed words -- words he had never admitted, yet never denied, speaking to his father. It was also said, by the few that witnessed such rare moments, that the Primarch smiled each time he passed those words, and reached out to stroke his golden fingertips across the etched lettering.
Colchis was hardly devoid of technology. It enjoyed the benefits of Imperial life and culture, despite its master's hesitance to supply materiel for the Emperor's war. Auspices in the skytraffic towers of Vharadesh tracked the activity in orbit, with scanner consoles lighting up at the sudden pulse of so many signals. Word from the XVII Legion's Expeditionary Fleets was constantly cycled back to Colchis, for the people of the homeworld took great interest, and great pride, in the conquests of their chosen champions.
Mothers and fathers listened in the hope some chronicle would detail the glory of a son taken from them in childhood and reshaped as one of the Astartes. Covenant clergy listened for inspiration to preach of the primarch's righteousness. This network was maintained by astropaths, sending short psychic-pulses of information back to their counterparts on the home world. Several times a week, broadcast from speaker towers across the Holy City, updates of the Legion's progress drew flocks of listeners. City-wide celebrations were declared by the Covenant, the world's religious-caste of rulers who gained control over the world after being led by Lorgar, each time a XVII Legion expedition completed an Imperial Compliance action upon a new world in the name of the God-Emperor.
On Colchis, as on many of the Imperium's dryest worlds, the indigenous life coped with the climate however it could. For the human population, it was a matter of coastal cities, immense water filtration facilities, irrigation farming, and dealing with the seasonal floods from the rushing rivers that acted as blood vessels for the arid plains.
Vharadesh, the Holy City, was the nexus of such industrious efforts. Swathes of irrigated farmland reached out from the city walls, a triumph of ingenuity over nature. Colchis was an arid, thirsty world, but the perfection of the human form showed in all things.
The Coming of Lorgar
Of Lorgar's coming, Carpinus speaks of a fiery comet smashing into the foremost temple of the Covenant bearing the infant Primarch, while Lorgar himself often made oblique references to his 'pilgrimage' to Colchis. Another tale tells of the arrival of a strange, golden-skinned child at the doors of the Covenant's largest temple, asking to be schooled in their ways. The child was taken into the temple and given the name Lorgar, growing to manhood within its walls and quickly mastering the many tenets and codes of faith imposed by the Covenant.
The truth of the matter will, in all likelihood, never be known, and though the answers may lie in the blasted words of the Liber Malum which is sealed in the deepest vaults of the Library Sanctus on Terra. Its pages must never again be opened. Lorgar became a devout member of the Covenant, taking fiery words of faith to every corner of the globe, where the power of his oratory and charisma won him many supporters. He rose rapidly through the ranks and though the people of Colchis loved him, he had enemies within the Covenant who grew jealous of his popularity and challenge to their power.
The Schism Wars
His enemies had vastly underestimated the depth of belief in Lorgar's words and the Covenant split into two factions, the believers in the Old Faith and the Godsworn of the Brotherhood of Lorgar, each deeply opposed to the other's belief, and each believing that only they could save their people.
A holy war of horrific proportions erupted, with more and more of the population forced to choose sides as the battles grew larger and spread across the planet. For six Terran years the fighting in these Schism Wars raged across Colchis and many were the atrocities carried out in the name of holy righteousness.
The Arrival of the Emperor
With the end of the war, the people awaited the arrival of the divine being prophesised by their saviour Lorgar, and less than a year after the final battle, a mighty, sky-borne vessel descended to the temple on a trail of fire. The Apocrypha of Skaros tells that the Emperor and the Primarch of the Thousand Sons Legion, Magnus the Red, descended to Colchis with two squads of Thousand Sons Astartes, to meet its mighty war leader.
Lorgar dropped to one knee, immediately recognising the Emperor from his visions, and swore his undying fealty to him. Under Lorgar's rule, every facet of the Covenant's belief structure was devoted to the worship of the Emperor and the population of Colchis rejoiced, united behind their new and wondrous god.
The arrival of Lorgar had brought with it both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because the Primarch's presence later brought the world into the fold of the Imperium, a curse because his arrival signed the planet's death warrant many hundreds of standard years later. Under Lorgar's brief rule the planet prospered, but when the Emperor came to Colchis and put Lorgar in command of the XVII Legion, who Lorgar renamed the Word Bearers, those officials of the Covenant Lorgar left behind to govern the world allowed the planet's civilisation to fall into decline.
The Fate of Colchis
Following the end of the Horus Heresy, the Imperium of Man launched a retribution crusade, known as the Great Scouring, to drive out the remaining Traitor Legions and those forces still loyal to them. Following this period of bloody vengeance and violence, around 032.M31 the Ultramarines finally took the fight to the Word Bearers' Legion home world of Colchis, in retribution for what the Word Bearers had done to Calth during the early years of the Horus Heresy.
When they arrived they found a devastated world, its industry in ruins and its people clinging desperately to civilisation. Given Lorgar's treachery and the Imperium's fear that his Chaos taint had spread throughout the population who had converted to the Word Bearers' heretical faith in the Ruinous Powers, the newly-formed Inquisition ordered the planet to undergo Exterminatus, and following a planetary assault of the planet, the Ultramarines' Battle Barge, Octavius, bombarded Colchis with Cyclonic Torpedoes.
The geological structure of Colchis was highly unstable and the resultant seismic activity caused by the torpedoes' detonations split the planet apart. Nothing now remains of Colchis and where it once existed is still a closely guarded secret by the Inquisition.
For the other forms of life on Colchis, lacking the capacity to affect their own environment, adaptation and evolution went hand in hand. Many plants in the drought-wracked scubland had leaves with a layer of fine hairs to catch and hold more moisture from the infrequent rainfall, and as a defence against the wind's drying touch.
Colchis demanded much from its native life. These forms of plant life had been catalogued by Imperial scholars over the years, and promptly ignored. All except for one wildflower growing in the alluvial deserts -- a flower that couldn not be dismissed so readily when it meant so much to the Colchisian people.
The moon lily bloomed with leaves of silver, white and grey -- all to reflect more of the sun's harsh light, stunting its own photosynthesis in the name of survival. Fragile, beautiful, the moon lily was a gift between Colchisian lovers, a decoration at weddings and festivals, and those trained in its breeding and care were as respected as teachers and priests among the populace.
Across balconies throughout the capital city, especially on the spires claimed by the Covenant, great hanging gardens of white and silver blooms contrasted against the tan stone walls. Vharadesh was the Imperial designative name for the capital city, and in the ruling caste's religious sermons, it was referred to with passion and pride as the Holy City. But to the people of Colchis, Vharadesh would always be the City of Grey Flowers.
Colchis was an ancient kingdom of the Caucasus located on the coast of the Black Sea in what is now the Republic of Georgia. In Greek mythology, Colchis was the country where King Aeetes kept the famed Golden Fleece which Jason and the Argonauts had to recover to put Jason back on the throne of Iolcos. Lorgar Aurelian's name could therefor be a reference to the Golden Fleece.
- Index Astartes IV, "Dark Apostles - The Word Bearers Space Marine Legion"
- The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal by Alan Bligh, Inside Cover Map
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre by Alan Bligh, pg. 138
- The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Demski-Bowden
- Aurelian (Novella) by Aaron Demski-Bowden