- "From the fires of betrayal unto the blood of revenge we bring the name of Lorgar, the Bearer of the Word, the favoured son of Chaos, all praise be given unto him. From those that would not heed we offer praise to those who do, that they might turn their gaze our way and gift us with the boon of pain, to turn the galaxy red with blood, and feed the hunger of the gods!"
- — Excerpt from the three hundred and forty-first Book of the Epistles of Lorgar
The Dark Council is a group comprised of the eldest and most venerated of the Dark Apostles of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion that rule their Legion from deep within the Eye of Terror on the Daemon World of Sicarus in the name of their Primarch Lorgar. These venerable Chaos Space Marines were members of the XVII Legion during the initial corruption of the Word Bearers by Erebus and First Captain Kor Phaeron some four decades before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy in the early 31st Millennium. They have survived and thrived through the Heresy and corrupted untold billions of mortals into worshipping the Chaos Gods. The Word Bearers are one of the only Traitor Legions that still retain some of the unity they had during the Horus Heresy, and because of this, the Dark Council has been able to rule over them without the complete anarchy that now defines the operations of most of the Traitor Legions. The influence of the Dark Council and the esteem in which they are held by their reverent brethren is one of the primary reasons the Word Bearers have maintained their unity across the entire 10,000-year span of the Long War against the Imperium of Man and its False Emperor.
The Word Bearers primarily reside on the Daemon World of Sicarus within the Eye of Terror. Beneath churning clouds of pendulant fire and blood the surface of Sicarus is covered by massive temples, towering cathedrals and blasphemous monuments dedicated to the worship of the Chaos Gods in the form of Chaos Undivided. Millions of slaves toil endlessly in the construction and raising of new structures and monuments of dark devotion. New levels are built upon existing crumbling edifices which results in towering spires that reach kilometres into the foreboding sky. This results in the creation of the sprawling subterranean warren of labyrinthine passages that interconnect the various devotional structures. From this daemon planet, the Word Bearers' Dark Council, a collection of the Word Bearers Legion's most powerful Dark Apostles, is the ruling body that leads the XVII Legion in the absence of their Daemon Primarch Lorgar. The Aurelian has isolated himself in meditation for long Terran millennia within the great Templum Inficio on Sicarus, and thus has played no role in the direction of his Legion while he pursues enlightenment and an ever-deeper understanding of the mysteries of Chaos at the hands of the Ruinous Powers. The seat of the Dark Council is located within the immense cathedral-fortress known as the Basilica of the Word. This structure is crowned with hundreds of five-kilometre-high barbed spires, each studded with jagged spikes, upon which are impaled countless living sacrifices dedicated to the Dark Gods.
The Dark Council is involved in many decisions that affect their Legion. Most importantly, they decide who deserves to rise to the coveted rank of Dark Apostle in situations where the current reigning Dark Apostle is no longer fit to command their Host. A Dark Apostle may not be able to command their Host for many reasons, most commonly because he has died in the service of the Dark Gods. Whether this death is caused by someone within the Legion is irrelevant as the Chaos Gods encourage competition and "initiative" within the ranks of their servants, but in the end, the Dark Council will always make the final decision of who will become the rightful successor and take the former Dark Apostle's place as the leader of a Host of the Word Bearers.
Notable Dark Council Members
- Kor Phaeron - Kor Phaeron was the First Captain and Black Cardinal (High Priest) of the Word Bearers Legion during the Great Crusade in the late 30th Millennium. He served as a spiritual counsel and foster father during the years of Lorgar's youth on the Word Bearers' homeworld of Colchis, before Lorgar was rediscovered by the forces of the Imperium of Man. It was Kor Phaeron's influence and continuing devotion to the Colchisian Old Faith -- a faith dedicated to the Dark Gods -- that corrupted his Primarch and the XVII Legion into repudiating their oaths to the Emperor of Mankind and becoming willing pawns of Chaos. Kor Phaeron is currently involved in a millennia-long struggle with his rival Erebus on the Dark Council for control of the Word Bearers' direction.
- Erebus - Erebus held the prestigious position of First Chaplain of the Word Bearers Legion during the end of the Great Crusade in the early 31st Millennium. He was a fearsome and intimidating Astartes warrior and wore tattoos depicting sections of the Book of Lorgar across his shaven scalp to terrify his enemies. Erebus was the first of the Space Marines to knowingly turn to Chaos and he was personally responsible for helping to corrupt Lorgar, Horus and the Death Guard's First Captain Calas Typhon to the worship and service of Chaos. He is presently one of the ruling Dark Apostles of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion and has an ongoing but subtle war with Kor Phaeron for control of the XVII Legion's direction.
- Ekodas (Deceased) - Word Bearers Grand Apostle. Kor Phaeron, in his role as Black Cardinal of the Word Bearers' Chaotic faith, bestowed the title of Grand Apostle upon Ekodas, who served as the senior-most member of the ruling Dark Council of the XVII Legion after the end of the Horus Heresy. However, Ekodas was also a secret member of The Brotherhood -- a clandestine, internal sect within the Word Bearers Legion that had been formed at three different periods during the XVII Legion's history to maintain the Word Bearers' theological purity. Primarch Lorgar had ordered its formation on two separate occasions, the first during the purging of the Covenant and the old religion on Colchis before the coming of the Emperor of Mankind to that world. The second occasion was after the Pilgrimage of Lorgar during the Great Crusade when Lorgar had first gained knowledge of the existence of Chaos. With the realisation that the Chaos Gods were the true divinities of the universe came Lorgar's understanding that the Old Faith, the ancient religious beliefs of the people of Colchis that he had swept away, were true. The Old Gods, not the flawed Emperor, were the only powers that Lorgar believed were worthy of the Word Bearers' faith and worship. With the second reformation of The Brotherhood, the ranks of the XVII Legion were purged of all Terran-born Loyalists, leaving only those Astartes native to Colchis -- and thus loyal solely to Lorgar -- behind. In the latter part of the 41st Millennium, Kor Phaeron ordered The Brotherhood's formation a third time in order to overthrow the Dark Apostle Erebus, whom the First Captain felt had too much sway with the will of the Dark Council. Ekodas later led the Word Bearers' assault against the Boros Gate System but was killed by the elite Astartes of the secret Grey Knights Chapter before his duplicity could be revealed. In battle, Ekodas was able to use incredibly powerful psychic abilities through his unshakeable faith in Chaos Undivided. Ekodas commanded the Word Bearers' 7th Host, successfully leading an unholy crusade of retribution upon the Black Consuls, which succeeded in almost wiping that Successor Chapter of the hated Ultramarines from the galaxy.
- Ankh-Heloth - Ankh-Heloth was the Dark Apostle who led the 11th Host of the Word Bearers. Ankh-Heloth had risen to the esteemed position of Dark Apostle under dubious circumstances. While it was the Dark Council of Sicarus that had instated Ankh-Heloth as the First Acolyte of the 11th Host, this was only at Grand Apostle Ekodas' insistence. Less than a decade later, Ankh-Heloth ascended to the position of Dark Apostle to command the Host after his predecessor was killed under circumstances engineered, many believed, by Ekodas. Ankh-Heloth did not garner much respect from his fellow Dark Apostles of the Dark Council, many of whom regarded him as "Edokas's whipping boy."
- Belagosa - Dark Apostle of the Word Bearers' 30th Host, Belagosa was a tall and gaunt figure. In an act of devout faith, Belagosa clawed out his own eyes centuries ago. Nevertheless, he was still able to turn his head towards the direction of those that spoke to him, his empty eye sockets still far from blind, which bled red tears down his cheeks as a gift from the Dark Gods for his devotion.
- Jarulek (Deceased) - Jarulek was a Dark Apostle, and served as a former First Acolyte to the Dark Apostle known as The Warmonger during the Horus Heresy at the assault on the Emperor's Imperial Palace during the Battle of Terra. He later served as the Coryphaus to the First Captain Kor Phaeron. Through his extreme devotion to Chaos Undivided, furious passion and fiery oratory, he brought countless millions into the truth of the Eight-Fold Path. Millions more who had chosen to remain ignorant and resistant to the true faith had been slain upon his orders. Jarulek was slain on the world of Tanakreg by an awakened Necron Lord after successfully recovering a potent artefact from the Necrons' stasis tomb.
- Marduk - Marduk was a Dark Apostle and the former First Acolyte of Jarulek. He was a member of The Brotherhood, the secret internal sect within the XVII Legion that eliminated all Word Bearers who failed to comply with the new direction of the Legion following the conversion of Lorgar to the service of the Chaos Gods, including all Terran-born Word Bearers. Marduk fought at Calth against the Ultramarines Legion during the Horus Heresy and was elevated to the position of Dark Apostle and leader of the 34th Host following the death of his former master at the hands of a Necron Lord on the world of Tanakreg in the late 41st Millennium.
- Mothac - Mothac was a Dark Apostle who was encased within ensorcelled daemonic armour that was a gift of the Daemon Primarch Lorgar. He was the keeper of the forbidden tome known as The Dark Creed, a thick book bound in the skin of fallen Ultramarines. This book contained the holy writings of Lorgar after the end of the Horus Heresy and the XVII Legion's flight to Sicarus.
- Paristur - Paristur was a Dark Apostle who was known for his shrewdness and savagery. He had killed the Blood Angels Chaplain Aristedes in single combat on the walls of the Imperial Palace during the Battle of Terra in the closing days of the Horus Heresy.
- Sarabdal - Dark Apostle of the Word Bearers' 18th Host. Within the elite ranks of the Dark Council, Dark Apostle Sarabdal had led his Host the longest. Sarabdal had been groomed to become the Dark Apostle of the 18th Host by none other than Lorgar himself. Raised in the scriptorums of Colchis, Sarabdal had been little more than a child when he had taken part in the brutal Schism Wars that fractured the Covenant, the dominant religious order of that Feudal World before the arrival of the forces of the Emperor in the late 30th Millennium. Impressed with the youngster's religious fanaticism for his new faith and fiery demeanour, Lorgar had taken the boy under his wing and once reunited with the Space Marine Legion created from his genome after the Imperial takeover of Colchis, had personally chosen Sarabdal as one of the first Colchisian natives recruited to join the Word Bearers. Few Dark Apostles garnered more respect than Sarabdal. Other Dark Apostles even bowed at his venerable presence.
- Sor Talgron, The Warmonger - During the Great Crusade Sor Talgron took part in bringing Forty-Seven Sixteen into Imperial Compliance. He fought on Terra during the Horus Heresy. He was known to have worn Terminator Armour with a Chaplain's Skull Helm. Once he had been amongst Lorgar's most favoured and devout Chaplains, the first Dark Apostle of the 34th Company Host that was later led by the Dark Apostle Marduk. He had fought alongside the Primarchs, and counted such exalted heroes as Erebus, Kor Phaeron and even Abaddon as his Battle-Brothers. He was also known to have fought at the walls of the Emperor's Imperial Palace during the Battle of Terra. Eventually, Talgron rose to the esteemed rank of Dark Apostle, though he was later mortally wounded in battle and interred within the chassis of a Chaos Dreadnought. Though the other warriors interred within the Dreadnoughts of the Host had long ago lost any semblance of sanity, cursed as they were and unable to attain oblivion, yet denied the physical sensations of war and blood, the Warmonger retained a coherent self-awareness, and was a source of great wisdom and council. It was his unshakeable faith in the Ruinous Powers that kept him lucid when all others had fallen to madness. Erebus believed the power and conviction of his rapturous beliefs were what kept him from toppling off the precipice into the madness that consumed almost all other Chaos Dreadnoughts, though at times even The Warmonger's hold on reality slips, and he believes he is once again fighting alongside his Primarch during the Horus Heresy.
- Word Bearers Trilogy Series:
- Dark Apostle (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds
- Dark Disciple (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds
- Dark Creed (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds