Fulgrim During the Horus Heresy

The Primarch Fulgrim during the Horus Heresy, holding the Daemonblade of the Laer that was the source of his downfall

Fulgrim, also known in the time before the Horus Heresy as the Phoenician, is the Primarch of the Emperor's Children Chaos Space Marines Traitor Legion. He possessed silvery-white hair and was quite vainglorious, as his entire life was dedicated to the pursuit of perfection in all things; physical, mental and spiritual. Today, Fulgrim is a Daemon Prince of Slaanesh who is believed to reside on a Daemon World somewhere within the Eye of Terror. Unknown to almost everyone, including his own remaining Chaos Space Marines, Fulgrim expressed remorse, repenting his corruption by the Ruinous Powers during the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V during the opening days of the Horus Heresy nearly ten millennia ago. Unfortunately, his soul has been forfeited, imprisoned by a Greater Daemon of Slaanesh that has possessed his body and is masquerading as him to the rest of the universe. His exact location remains unknown to the Imperium and the majority of the survivors of the Emperor's Children Traitor Legion.


Early Life

Fulgrim WIP by SelenaH

A young Fulgrim, after his installation as the commander of the III Legion

Like all the Primarchs, Fulgrim was teleported away from Terra while still an infant in a Warp rift through the machinations of the Chaos Gods, who hoped to prevent the coming of the Age of the Imperium, or at least to corrupt it so that the spread of the Emperor's Order would not weaken their power or threaten their existence. After being snatched from the Emperor of Mankind's gene-laboratory deep beneath the Himalayan Mountains on Terra, Fulgrim's gestation capsule came to rest on a resource-poor mining world known as Chemos. Chemos was a bleak, unforgiving planet warmed by a small binary star and surrounded by a thick nebula dust cloud. The result was a world that was a place forever shrouded in perpetual twilight. Chemos had been settled by humanity long before during the Dark Age of Technology as a mining world but was isolated from its neighbours by the great Warp Storms that marked the Age of Strife. The problem was that the resources of the planet were running out and its people were not producing enough food even for their own needs. Eventually, it fell to a group of fortress factories to produce all the needed resources for Chemos. The entirety of the Chemosian people had to work every hour of the day, maintaining the vapour mines and synthesisers. Recreation, art and leasure were sacrificed for survival. Chemos was dependent upon interstellar commerce for the provision of food, but the world was buffeted by Warp Storms that made it difficult for traders to reach the planet, thus condemning the Chemosians to a slow death, despite their attempts to impose strict food rationing and improvise other solutions for providing nutrients. Scouts from the fortress factory of Callax's branch of the planetary police force, the Caretakers, discovered the Primarch's gestation capsule after it plummeted to the surface of Chemos and were so impressed by the beauty of the infant within that they begged the leaders of Callax, its Executives, to spare his life, as orphans were routinely put to death so they would not further strain a settlement's resources. Fulgrim was spared and given into the hands of one of his rescuers, a member of the Caretakers, to raise as his own child.

Named after an ancient deity of the Chemosian people, Fulgrim in time became a new legend to the people of that suffereing world. At half the age at which most of the other people of Callax went to work in the vapour mines and synthesisers, Fulgrim proved able to fulfill all the obligations of an adult labourer. He came to understand the ramshackle Chemosian mining technology with an intuitive ease that allowed him to begin to modify it with his extraordinary technical acumen, dramatically increasing its efficiency. By the time he was only 15 Terran years of age, Fulgrim had risen from the rank of a simple labourer to become one of the Executives who governed the fortress factory of Callax. As a leader, Fulgrim learned of the terrible plight that faced Callax and all the other settlements of Chemos as their technology and population gradually declined in the face of their resource shortages.

Under Fulgrim's direction, teams of engineers travelled far from Callax and the other fortress factories, reclaiming and repairing many of the most ancient and far-flung of the world's original mining outposts, many of which had not been used since before the start of the Age of Strife. Mining production skyrocketed, and as resources began to pour in large amounts into the treasuries of the fortress factories of Chemos for the first time in millennia, Fulgrim supervised the construction of even more sophisticated and efficient extraction machinery. This industrial efficiency soon grew to the point that Chemos' mines were actually producing surpluses for the first time in decades, allowing the world to begin to purchase food and other needed materials in large quantities from passing interstellar traders. Fulgrim, now the recognised planetary leader, fostered the re-emergence of Chemosian art and culture, important aspects of human life that had long been sacrificed to Chemos' resource shortage and need for constant labour.

The Great Crusade

Fulgrim & Retinue

Fulgrim and his Phoenix Guard during the Emperor's Children's campaign to exterminate the Slaaneshi xenos known as the Laer

Not long after this great triumph the world's isolation came to an end. From the perpetually twilit sky emerged a flight of Stormbird dropships, heavily armoured and battle-scarred and bearing the Imperial Aquila, the badge of the Emperor of Mankind. When he learned of the Aquila, Fulgrim found his memories stirred. Chemos had no real military forces, but the Stormbirds' landing zone had been surrounded by the Caretakers, the planetary police force of the fortress cities. Fulgrim ordered the Caretakers to welcome the strangers and take them to meet with him in Callax.

In his private quarters, Fulgrim met with the heavily armoured warriors from the stars, men who represented a true civilisation that possessed all the culture and refinement that Fulgrim longed to return to his homeworld. From amongst the Astartes stepped the shining figure of the Emperor of Mankind, and with one look upon him, Fulgrim said nothing and simply dropped to his knees before his father and offered his sword in service. Fulgrim swore from that moment forward to serve the Emperor and the needs of the Imperium of Man with all his heart. The Emperor taught his son of Terra and of the Great Crusade he had initiated to reunite all the scattered worlds of Mankind beneath a single rule so that humanity would no longer face possible extinction at the hands of the galaxy's hostile forces and could claim its rightful place as the dominant intelligent species in the Milky Way. Imperial records do not indicate the exact date of the meeting between Fulgrim and the Emperor; all that is known is that Fulgrim's vast flagship, the Pride of the Emperor, was completed by the Adeptus Mechanicus of Mars 160 standard years before the start of the Horus Heresy, sometime in the early 31st Millennium.

Fulgrim returned to Terra with the Emperor to meet the III Legion of Astartes that had been created from his own genome. But Fulgrim learned to his horror that an accident had destroyed the majority of the gene-seed that had been cultivated from his DNA to implant the Astartes of the III Legion and that without their Primarch, replacing it had proven to be a slow and labourious process. Fulgrim addressed the mere 200 Astartes that had been created for the III Legion and his speech proved so inspiring to the Imperial cause that the Emperor named the III Legion of Space Marines the Emperor's Children on the spot, and determined that only they could carve the Imperial Aquila, the double-headed eagle that was his own personal badge, upon the Ceramite chestplates of their Power Armour.

Fulgrim was soon consumed by the idea that he and the Emperor's Children needed to live up to the extraordinary honour the Emperor had shown them by becoming shining paragons of the perfection inherent in both the Emperor's person and his vision for Imperial culture and civilisation. The drive for perfection soon consumed the Primarch and his Legion, from the military tactics they employed to the embrace of an unusually artistic Legion culture and a concern for aesthetics and their personal appearances that was unsurpassed by any of the other Astartes. Fulgrim embodied this pursuit of physical beauty and perfection, for long silver hair flowed down his back, his wide eyes and melodic voice welcomed all who sought his counsel and his full lips often quirked into a wry smile. Fulgrim made sure that his Power Armour was of the finest quality that could be fabricated by Imperial technology and was intricately decorated in the purple and golden colours he had chosen for his Legion. Over it he usually wore a wide variety of intricately embroidered and high-collared cloaks.

Fulgrim was anxious from the start to make a substantial contribution to the Great Crusade like all of his brother Primarchs, but the small size of his Legion meant that the Emperor's Children were at first placed under the command of the Primarch Horus and were assigned to fight alongside his Luna Wolves Legion. Horus and Fulgrim soon grew personally close during their time together while their Legions participated in the conquest and pacification of the Eastern Fringe of the galaxy in the Ultima Segmentum. Eventually, over the course of several decades, the Emperor's Children's ranks were swelled by new Astartes who had been recruited from both Terra and Fulgrim's homeworld of Chemos, where the Legion had established its fortress-monastery at the old factory fortress of Callax. When the Emperor's Children were judged to have reached an appropriate size, Fulgrim was given command of the 28th Expeditionary Fleet of the Great Crusade and set off on his own course of conquest, returning dozens of worlds to the rule of the Emperor. Among them was the advanced xenos world of Laeran, where Fulgrim's fate would be sealed.

Fulgrim's Fall

Fulgrim-Aerion the Faithful

An ancient stylised portrait depicting Fulgrim of the Emperor's Children Legion

Fulgrim first fell from the Emperor's grace on the xenos planet called Laeran that was corrupted by xenos worshipers of Slaanesh. Fulgrim's 28th Expeditionary Fleet of the Great Crusade conquered Laeran for the Imperium, exterminating its hostile native reptilian species, the Laer. Laeran was a water world, its continents having sunk beneath its oceans' waves centuries before when all of its ice caps and glaciers melted. The oceanic world was home to a native sentient species known as the Laer who were serpentine in form but also engaged in extensive genetic engineering to perfect their species, creating a multitude of different castes who were genetically designed to best serve their intended function in Laer society. Having no land area, the Laer, whose technology equaled or even exceeded that of the Imperium in certain areas, had moved their entire society onto hundreds of floating coral islands that circled a central nexus in the planet's atmosphere. Each coral island was held aloft by an anti-gravity generator.

What Fulgrim and his Emperor's Children Legion of Space Marines did not know was that the Laeran were also an entire civilisation that had been corrupted by Slaanesh, the Chaos God of Pleasure and Pain. The central nexus point that all of their coral islands orbited was actually a massive temple dedicated to the Prince of Pleasure at the heart of which lay a potent Chaos Artefact that served as a physical vessel for a Greater Daemon of the Prince of Chaos. The Laer evinced all the signs of what later generations of the Imperium would recognise as Slaaneshi corruption, including a need for constant extreme sensory inputs, such as riotous colours and constant sound, and the deriving of pleasure from only the most extreme of sensations, including their own deaths.

Completely unaware of the real dangers he and his Astartes Legion faced on the Chaos-corrupted world, Fulgrim ordered the Emperor's Children and the other forces of the 28th Expeditionary Fleet to assault the planet and conquer it for the Imperium within a single Terran month, completely eradicating the Laer species in the process.

During the final slaughter of that serpentine xenos race, Fulgrim and his Astartes discovered the great temple dedicated to Slaanesh that lay on the central floating coral island of Laeran. The Imperium, ignorant of the existence of the Chaos Powers at this time and holding to the extreme rationalism and atheism of the Imperial Truth, did not realise the significance of such a find or what they had really discovered. The expedition led by Fulgrim began to be corrupted by the temple's malign influence. After defeating the temple's fanatical Laer defenders, Fulgrim discovered a slightly-curved sword with a crude ameythest gem in the pommel that lay sunken into a stone at the very heart of the unholy temple. This sword was not only a potent Slaaneshi artefact but also the physical vessel of a Greater Daemon of Slaanesh. Once Fulgrim claimed the blade as his own, the daemon within it began whispering in his mind and corrupting his soul towards the service of Slaanesh. He began to wield the daemonblade more often than his prior weapon, the great Power Sword called Fireblade that had been forged for him on Terra by his fellow Primarch, Ferrus Manus. Thinking the whispers in his mind was only his own subconscious speaking to him, Fulgrim began listening to what it offered. Eventually, he discovered these were actually the whispers of the daemon that existed within the blade. After a lot of persuasion from his brother Horus, himself already corrupted by the Ruinous Powers after his injury on the moon of Davin, Fulgrim gave himself over to Chaos, and found his particular patron in Slaanesh, the Chaos God of Pleasure, who offered the Primarch a route to the ultimate perfection he so craved for himself and his Astartes.

The Horus Heresy

Eudicus Assault Squad

Loyalist Emperor's Children Astartes fight valiantly against their traitorous former-allies on Istvaan III

Salvarin Tactical Squad

Remnants of Loyalist Emperor's Children battle-brothers prepare to sell their lives dearly during the final assault on Istvaan III

Certain members of the Inquisition who have studied the fragmentary Imperial records of this time now believe that this daemonsword began to exert a powerful Chaotic influence over Fulgrim, and that the Emperor's Children forces he had deployed against the Laer may also have been tainted by their exposure to the concentrated Chaotic corruption of that serpentine race, who had fully sworn themselves to the service of Slaanesh. Even while wrestling with his own Chaotic taint, the Primarch of the Emperor's Children soon found himself at the center of the events that would bring on the Horus Heresy.

Fulgrim met with the renowned Eldar Farseer Eldrad Ulthran of Craftworld Ulthwe on the Maiden World of Tarsus, in which the Farseer attempted to warn Fulgrim that Horus had been wounded by the Chaotic aretfact known as the Kinebrach Anathame at the hands of Eugen Temba, the Planetary Governor of Davin who had fallen to the influence of the Plague Lord Nurgle. The wounding had allowed the Chaos Gods to gain a purchase on the Warmaster's soul and he was already turning to their service as he recuperated from the nearly-mortal wound the Kinebrach blade had given him at the hands of Temba on the Nurgle-corrupted moon of Davin. Fulgrim reacted with violent outrage at the Farseer's accusations due to his close friendship with his brother Horus, as his bond with the Warmaster was second only to that he shared with Ferrus Manus, the Primarch of the Iron Hands Legion. This outrage was further enhanced by the influence of Fulgrim's daemonblade, which wanted the Primarch to reject the Eldar's truth and it led Fulgrim to launch an unprovoked and furious attack on Eldrad and his retinue alongside his Emperor's Children Captains and his personal Phoenix Guard. In the battle that ensued, the Emperor's Children slew both the revered Eldar Wraithlord Khiraen Goldhelm and a potent Avatar of Khaine, which forced the Farseer and the other Eldar troops to sorrowfully withdraw, as they realised that Chaos had already claimed yet another of the Mon-Keigh Primarchs. Yet they had succeeded in killing all of Fulgrim's elite personal Phoenix Guard before their departure. Believing the Eldar had proven themselves a treacherous race that sought to divide and conquer the Imperium by spreading such lies about its leaders, Fulgrim, again under the increasing influence of the daemonblade, ordered the destruction by the 28th Expeditionary Fleet of several other beautiful Eldar Maiden Worlds using hideous virus bombs.

Whilst the exact timing of this meeting remains unknown in Imperial records, it is known that Fulgrim soon met Horus in person after the Eldar had provided their warning about the Warmaster's turn to Chaos, and Fulgrim demanded a personal account of his actions. Instead, Horus, deploying every ounce of his immense charisma, proved able to sway Fulgrim to his cause and the service of the Ruinous Powers. Fulgrim's respect for Horus allowed Chaos to find its own way into Fulgrim's heart, destroying Fulgrim's once rock-solid loyalty to the Emperor, and replacing it with the burning desire to destroy the man who held humanity back from the perfection Fulgrim so craved and that Horus convinced him only the Chaos Gods could truly provide. Only when Mankind had fully embraced Chaos could it know true perfection, Fulgrim came to believe, and the Emperor and his false Imperial Truth stood directly in the way of his and the rest of humanity's attainment of that perfection.

Fulgrim was next ordered by Horus to meet with Ferrus Manus, the Primarch of the Iron Hands Legion and Fulgrim's greatest friend among his brother Primarchs, aboard his flagship the battle barge Fist of Iron in the hope that he could be swayed to the side of Horus and the other Traitor Legions who now served Chaos. Fulgrim had sent the bulk of his Legion and the 28th Expeditionary Fleet on to meet Horus and the 63rd Expeditionary Fleet in the Istvaan System while he and a small force aided the Iron Hands' 52nd Expeditionary Fleet in retaking the world of Callinedes IV from Orks. Great bonds of friendship and brotherhood had long existed between them, and Fulgrim felt that he could convince Ferrus of the righteousness of Horus' cause. Fulgrim's hope proved disastrously wrong and the meeting of the two Primarchs in Ferrus' private inner sanctum in his flagship's Anvilarium did not go well as Ferrus was outraged that his brothers would turn against their father the Emperor. The meeting ended in violence as the Gorgon made his difference of opinion over continued loyalty to the Emperor known to the Phoenician with his weapons, determined to stop Fulgrim's betrayal of the Imperium before it could begin. Ferrus used his silvery necrodermis hands to destroy Fulgrim's Power Sword Fireblade, but the explosion knocked him out.

Ferrus Manus vs. Fulgrim

Fulgrim versus his former brother Primarch, Ferrus Manus amidst the chaos of the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V

Fulgrim intended to kill his brother with his own weapon, the warhammer Forgebreaker, but proved unable to kill his oldest friend despite the promptings of the Slaaneshi daemon that now throttled his soul. When Fulgrim emerged from Ferrus' inner sanctum, he gave a signal his Phoenix Guard who instantly beheaded all of the Iron Hands Morlock Terminators who served as Ferrus Manus' bodyguard with their Power Halberds. The Emperor's Children also nearly slew the Iron Hands' First Captain Gabriel Santor. Fulgrim successfully fled the Iron Hands' expeditionary fleet in his personal assault craft, the Firebird, when he ordered his flagship, the battle-barge Pride of the Emperor and its escorts, to open fire upon the ships of the 52nd Expeditionary Fleet. This surprise attack crippled them and provided a distraction while Fulgrim and the Emperor's Children fled into the Warp to rendezvous with the rest of their 28th Expedition in the Istvaan System.

With their allegiance now settled and their path forward determined, the Chaotic corruption of the Emperor's Children spread quickly through the Legion, from Fulgrim to his chief lieutenants, the two Lord Commanders of the Legion, and then to company captains and squad sergeants and finally to all but a small minority of Emperor's Children Astartes who now followed the dictates of Slaanesh rather than the Emperor. The quest for excellence and perfection had been corrupted into a desire to achieve perfect hedonism and constant sensual excess.

The few remaining Loyalists of the Emperor's Children Legion fought bravely on Istvaan III, led by Captains Saul Tarvitz and Solomon Demeter, but were eventually overwhelmed when they were betrayed by Captain Lucius in order for him to rejoin the Legion and to punish Tarvitz for taking command of the defence, which had incited Lucius' fierce jealousy of his fellow captain.

When the Loyalist Salamanders, Raven Guard and Iron Hands Legions arrived in the Istvaan System to face Horus and the Traitor Legions on Istvaan V, the Emperor's Children eagerly took part in the fighting, joining in the slaughter of their former brethren during the Drop Site Massacre. During that terrible engagement, Fulgrim and Ferrus Manus met once more and had their final and fateful duel, this time with the full intention of taking each other's life. Fulgrim proved the victor, but discovered as he looked down at his battered brother's prostrate body that he could not bring himself to take his brother's life. At that moment, the Greater Daemon within Fulgrim's daemonblade fully exerted its growing influence over the Primarch and forced his hand, beheading the helpless Ferrus Manus. Fulgrim, as if awakened from a long sleep, was shocked by the death of Ferrus into thinking clearly about the situation for the first time since his expedition to Laeran and he was horrified by what he had done and by the many betrayals that had led brother Astartes to slay one another. Overcome by his grief, he succumbed to a moment of weakness and foolishly agreed to the daemon's whispering suggestion that he could find release in oblivion. The Greater Daemon was then freed from the prison of the sword and possessed Fulgrim's body, claiming it for its own, trapping the real Fulgrim's consciousness away within a psychic prison formed within his own mind. From that moment until the present, perhaps once of the greatest secrets of the Chaos Space Marines is that the true Fulgrim remains alive, but all of his actions and his very identity have been usurped by the Greater Daemon of Slaanesh.

Over the seven years that followed the massacre on Istvaan V, Horus' rebellion spread across the galaxy, consuming the entire Imperium in the flames of the horrific civil war known to history as the Horus Heresy. By the time the final Battle of Terra began, the Emperor's Children had become only shadows of their former glorious selves, wholly consumed by the desires of Slaanesh with every trace of decency long lost. While the other Traitor Legions assaulted the Imperial Palace, the Emperor's Children instead launched themselves upon the innocent citizens of Terra, engaging in a mad orgy of rape, terror and mutilation that only barely began to satiate their all-consuming, Slaanesh-inspired hunger for hedonistic pleasure, pain and sensation. Billions of Terrans were used as human guinea pigs or raw materials in the Emperor's Children's constant desire to create ever more powerful stimulants, as daemonic hosts to bring Slaaneshi Daemonic Legions to the fight from the Warp or were simply slain outright to allow a Traitor Marine the fleeting enjoyment brought by the sensation of murder.

After the Heresy


The Primarch Fulgrim as a Daemon Prince

When Horus was finally defeated by the Emperor aboard his battle barge the Vengeful Spirit, the Emperor's Children left a trail of depopulated worlds in their wake as they fled alongside the other Traitor Legions into the Eye of Terror. As their supply of slaves was exhausted by their constant abuse, the Emperor's Children resorted to raiding the other Traitor Legions for fresh meat to feed their endless perversions, and in the end were crushed by their angry brethren in a series of bloody wars that tore the Traitor Legions apart as they lost the guiding and unifying hand of Horus. Finally, in the course of these conflicts, the Emperor's Children's unity as an Astartes Legion was shattered and they devolved into a series of small competing warbands. Because of the losses they suffered on Terra and in the period immediately after the Battle of Terra, warbands of the Emperor's Children are rare today in the 41st Millennium. This is a good thing for the galaxy since they love to take prisoners and there is perhaps no worse way to suffer one's own death than at the hands of these superhuman Slaaneshi fanatics--save for perhaps facing the tender mercies of the Dark Eldar.

As for the Greater Daemon who possessed Fulgrim, it was elevated by Slaanesh to the rank of Daemon Prince and it mutated the Primarch's body into a serpentine form with four arms very similar in shape to the Laer species that Fulgrim had led the extermination of when his fall to Chaos had begun. This Daemon Prince now rules over a Daemon World within the Eye of Terror that is a planet of unending, unlimited pleasure--and pain. In fact this entity is still the possessing Greater Daemon, while Fulgrim's true mind remains locked away forever in its fleshy prison, its countenance sometimes allowed to view the world from the frame of an ancient painting of the Primarch from before the Heresy that still displays his once grand perfection. To this day, many of the scattered surviving warbands of the Emperor's Children and the agents of the Inquisition's Ordo Malleus seek the location of this world, but none have yet returned with that information.

After the Heresy, Fulgrim was last seen in realspace fighting Roboute Guilliman, the Primarch of the Ultramarines Chapter and its Successors. During their great duel, Fulgrim proved crafty and slit Guilliman's throat with a poisoned blade. Guilliman was placed within a stasis field and returned to the Ultramarines' homeworld of Macragge, while Fulgrim retreated into the Warp.

Phoenix Guard

The Phoenix Guard was the elite unit of Emperor's Children Space Marines who served as the Primarch Fulgrim's bodyguard during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy. The members of the Phoenix Guard followed their beloved Phoenician wherever he went as part of their duties, even when he was travelling within the relative safety of the starships of the Imperial Navy and the vessels of the other Astartes Legions. During the battle to conquer the xenos world of Laeran, the Phoenix Guard took part in the final extermination of the serpentine Laer species. The entire unit was slain on the world of Tarsus in the Perdus Region of the galaxy after Fulgrim, already under the influence of Chaos through the daemonsword he had captured on Laeran, took offence at the Eldar Farseer Eldrad Ulthran's warning about Horus' corruption by Chaos, and proceeded to open fire on the Farseer and his troops from the Ulthwe Craftworld. A new Phoenix Guard was then recruited and accompanied Fulgrim during both his fateful meeting with Horus where he finally embraced Chaos and in his abortive attempt to recruit Ferrus Manus to the Traitors' cause where they successfully slaughtered the Morlock Terminators who served as Ferrus' own bodyguard unit. While the Phoenix Guard served Fulgrim through the Battle of Terra, it is unknown if the unit still exists and serves as the Daemon Prince's bodyguards on the Daemon World he now calls home.


  • Index Astartes I
  • False Gods (Novel) by Graham McNeill
  • Galaxy in Flames (Novel) by Ben Counter
  • Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill
  • A Thousand Sons (Novel) by Graham McNeill
  • The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • Prospero Burns (Novel) by Dan Abnett
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