Corvus Corax is the currently missing Primarch of the Raven Guard Chapter of Space Marines and all their Successor Chapters. After the near-destruction of his XIX Legion during the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V at the start of the Horus Heresy, Corax was desperate to rebuild his Legion. With the Emperor's permission, he and his Astartes delved deep beneath the Imperial Palace to recover the advanced genetics knowledge that the Emperor had used to create the Primarchs. Corax then made use of these techniques and a recovered original Primarch genetic template to accelerate the development of new Raven Guard Astartes. The repercussions of those actions came back to haunt him, leading Corax to eventually grant the Emperor's Peace to all the twisted, mutant spawn who emerged as the result of his experiments. Corax then vanished into the Eye of Terror in search of penance for his shame. His current whereabouts and status remain unknown to the Chapter and the Imperium.
Corax was separated from his father the Emperor of Mankind while still an infant in the Emperor's gene-laboratory beneath the Himalayan Mountains on Terra by the machinations of the Ruinous Powers of Chaos. The Chaos Gods snatched the infant Primarch's gestation chamber and flung it through the Warp half-way across the galaxy. Corax was eventually discovered on the world of Lycaeus, the desolated but inhabitable moon of the planet Kiavahr. At this time, Kiavahr was a technologically advanced Forge World, providing its city-size factories with minerals extracted from the non-atmospheric moon by legions of mine slaves.
Under the iron watch of heavily armed guards, the enslaved inhabitants of Lycaeus, who included criminals, political opponents and workers who had failed to meet their quotas, had long provided the rulers of Kiavahr with a free and unlimited source of manpower. When they discovered the pale-skinned child who became Corax, "The Deliverer" in the Kiavahran tongue, they kept him from their masters, training him in the various skills they believed a leader and warrior needed: urban warfare, close combat and demolitions as well as political and philosophical matters. Ultimately, the Primarch's abnormally fast maturation comforted the slaves and fixed Corax in their belief that he was the savior they had long waited for.
Educated to be a leader of men as well as a rebel guerilla, Corax began his task by organising the Lycaean workers into fight teams, promoting the best to squad leaders. He began building huge stockpiles of weapons, concealing them in numerous secret caches across the moon. He ordered a campaign of psychological warfare, launching riots and strikes to increase the number of followers for the workers' rebellion and to stretch the Kiavahran garrison's strength and morale to the breaking point. Waiting for the most opportune time, Corax's forces eventually launched their attack, taking key security points and destroying them by crude force or sabotage, killing every man of the Kiavahran defense forces stationed on Lycaeus.
When Kiavahr's rulers struck back, Corax was ready for them. He outmanoeuvred and ambushed their forces on Lycaeus with his battle-hardened warriors, crushing their supply lines and striking Kiavahr with atomic mining charges via a supply gravity well. Soon, their forces nearly destroyed, their vast factories unable to produce anything due to the minerals shortages, the Tech-Guilds of Kiavahr collapsed in civil war. Celebrating their victory, the inhabitants of Lycaeus renamed their rugged homeworld Deliverance.
It is said that the Emperor appeared on Deliverance that day and, after a day and a night spent with his son, appointed Corax the Primarch of the XIX Space Marine Legion that had been derived from his genome, which he renamed the Raven Guard. Nothing is known of the pair's conversation, but one condition of Corax's acceptance was the help of the Emperor in the task of bringing peace to Kiavahr. Soon the Adeptus Mechanicus stepped in to retake control over their ancient colony world and the planet was rebuilt to the benefit of the Imperium while the black tower which had once housed the Kiavahran garrison of Lycaeus became the Ravenspire, the fortress-monastery of the Raven Guard.
During the Great Crusade that reunited all the colony worlds of Mankind scattered across the galaxy beneath the rule of the Imperium of Man, Corax's talents for planning and sabotage were put to great effect and the Raven Guard, fighting frequently under the orders of the Warmaster Horus, became renowned for their unmatched ability among the other Space Marine Legions in covert operations, sabotage, guerilla warfare, infiltration and lightning strikes. But the pair never saw eye-to-eye, and after an argument, the two Primarchs nearly fought each other. Corax ultimately left Horus' command.
The Horus Heresy
During the Horus Heresy the Drop Site Massacre occurred on the planet Istvaan V when the Emperor dispatched a large force of what he believed were seven Loyalist Space Marine Legions to the Istvaan System to end the rebellion unleashed by the Warmaster Horus and the other known Traitor Legions who had turned to the worship of Chaos, including the World Eaters, the Emperor's Children and the Death Guard. The Loyalist Iron Hands, Salamanders and Raven Guard Legions were deployed in the first wave of the assault. After they secured the drop site, they were to have been followed by the other four Legions in the assault on Horus' position. The first wave secured the drop site at heavy cost.
Horus ordered his front line troops to fall back, tempting the Iron Hands' Primarch Ferrus Manus to overstretch his already thin lines. Against the advice of both Corax and Vulkan, the primarch of the Salamanders, Manus led his veterans against the fleeing Chaos Marines unsupported. Manus brought the primarch of the Emperor's Children, Fulgrim, to combat.
As the two Primarchs drew their weapons, the Raven Guard and Salamanders fell back to regroup and allow the second wave of Legions to advance and earn glory. However, as they returned, they were mowed down by the four Legions that landed to support them, the Night Lords, Iron Warriors, Word Bearers and the Alpha Legion, who had secretly turned Traitor and sworn themselves to the cause of Horus and Chaos. Horus then pressed his attack and sandwiched the Loyalists between the two Traitor forces, killing most of them. Several determined groups of Space Marines from the three Loyalist Legions managed to break out of the trap and escape to the few remaining drop ships.
With his Legion severely depleted from the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V and the Imperium teetering on the brink of destruction, a critically wounded Corax was brought back to Terra in a stasis tube. Healed in body but not in soul, Corax eventually returned to his homeworld of Deliverance to rebuild what remained of his Legion
Corax's Act of Desperation
The Primarch was desperate to rebuild his forces as the Imperium was collapsing and the Emperor needed warriors that Corax could not provide. Searching for a solution among the Librarium of the Ravenspire on Deliverance, Corax discovered the ancient books of genetic research that provided the techniques used to create the first genetically enhanced warriors of the Emperor on Terra, including forbidden zygote acceleration methods and cloning processes. Despite the warnings he found amongst the old books, Corax ordered his Legion's Apothecaries to use those same techniques to create new Raven Guard Spaces Marines at a frightening rate, though at the price of the corruption of much of the Legion's gene-seed. As the Legion fought in isolation against Horus' forces during this period, isolated from the other Imperial forces, nothing is known for sure of the initial results of Corax's program, but an element of truth is found in the Space Wolves' Saga of the Weregeld, which tells of ferocious monsters lead to combat by their Raven Guard Battle Brothers. The truth is the process suffered from extremely high failure rates, causing many of the new Raven Guard Space Marines to mutate into hulking monsters if they survived the process at all. Ninety percent of the Raven Guard recruits altered in this manner were unable to hold a Space Marine Bolter let alone fire it. Of 100 recruits, perhaps one would have a genome stable enough to become a true Space Marine. Despite the inefficiency of the accelerated genetic alteration methods, the Raven Guard was able to add enough new healthy recruits to reenter the war against Horus and Chaos, despite fielding a much-reduced force. During this period, Corax led his warriors as he had always done, with small squads striking like lightning on the enemy's weak points across the galaxy.
After the Horus Heresy, Corax remained unable to forget the growling, monstrous aberrations of humanity that he had personally created. When Corax finally managed to rebuild his Legion to anywhere near its pre-Heresy strength, the Horus Heresy had ended and Roboute Guilliman's Codex Astartes edicts required that the Legion be split into smaller, more flexible 1000-man units known as Chapters. Never again would one man wield the power of an entire Space Marine Legion. Knowing that Guilliman's vision was true, Corax grudingly split his remaining forces into the new Second Founding Successor Chapters, but after pondering for hours as to what should be done to atone for his sins, he decided to administer the Emperor's Peace to the remaining aberrant Raven Guard mutants personally, praying for both their souls and his. Wracked with guilt following the executions, Corax locked himself in his personal chamber in the Ravenspire, the Raven's Tower, begging for the recently-ascended Emperor's mercy. Nobody knows if Corax received the absolution he prayed for, but a year to the day after he had locked himself into the Ravenspire, he left the tower and the world of Deliverance itself on a course toward the Eye of Terror, never to be seen again. His last recorded words were "never more."
- Corax's last word before he departed for the Eye of Terror, "Nevermore," is a reference to the well-known poem of Edgar Allen Poe, "The Raven", of which the last line is "'Quoth the Raven, Nevermore'".
- The name "Corax" translates to "Raven" in ancient Greek and is a play on the Latin word Corvus, which also means "Raven."
- Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Age of Darkness (Anthology) edited by Christian Dunn, 'The Face of Treachery' by Gav Thorpe
- Deliverance Lost (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- Index Astartes IV
- Horus Heresy: Visions of War