- "No, you are correct in that. I cannot claim to be your brother as this...rabble can. I am not Lorgar's son. I am his father. You would do well not to forget it."
- —Kor Phaeron, First Captain of the Word Bearers Legion
Kor Phaeron was the First Captain of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion and the Primarch Lorgar's 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 Imperium.
When the Emperor found Lorgar on Colchis, Kor Phaeron was far too old to undergo the full implantation process to become a true Space Marine, but so favoured was he in the eyes of his Primarch that he received the most potent of the biological augments it was possible to bestow upon a mortal man short of elevation to the Legiones Astartes, and was declared First Captain of the Word Bearers Legion.
Scorned by many in his Legion as a "half-Astartes", Kor Phaeron nevertheless had the ear of the Primarch and, more than any other individual, is responsible for the corruption of Lorgar and the Astartes of the XVIIth Legion into repudiating their oaths to the Emperor of Mankind and becoming willing pawns of Chaos.
Though still aging and never having possessed the sheer potency of a full Space Marine before being infused with the power of Chaos, the First Captain nevertheless exerted great influence upon his Primarch and within his Legion, his conviction and zeal always unfettered and undiminished.
After the Word Bearers' fall to the service of the Ruinous Powers, Kor Phaeron became the "Black Cardinal" or "Dark Cardinal" and "Keeper of the Faith" of the Word Bearers and one of the most influential members of the Legion's ruling Dark Council, alongside his ancient rival, the Dark Apostle Erebus.
Priest of the Covenant
Kor Phaeron was born on the desert Feudal World of Colchis and raised in an orphanage. He eventually became a priest of the ruling theocracy known as the Covenant of Colchis, a polytheistic religion devoted to the four deities known as the "Great Powers" who were actually another guise for the Chaos Gods.
Kor Phaeron was eventually exiled from Colchis capital city of Vharadesh by the Covenant for having advocated more aggressive measures in pursuing conversions. He gathered a small band of followers in a caravan and began to preach the word of the Great Powers to the lower caste of desert nomads known as "The Declined" when he discovered that the infant Primarch Lorgar lived among them.
When the Primarchs were spirited away from the Emperor's hidden gene-laboratories on Terra through the Warp by the power of Chaos and scattered across the galaxy, Lorgar found himself cast to the world of Colchis. Following the end of the Age of Strife, the Covenant had helped to rebuild their shattered society. The Covenant's strict dogma was harsh, but a monolithic belief structure soon formed that permeated every facet of daily life.
Sensing greatness in the boy he had discovered among the nomads and seeing him as an instrument of the Great Powers, the ever power-hungry Kor Phaeron adopted him as his own in the hopes of one day using his extraordinary gifts to supplant the Covenant's ruling caste of priests.
Kor Phaeron then had his caravan members slaughter the band of desert nomads led by Fan Morgal, the Declined chieftain who had discovered Lorgar to ensure the Primarch's existence remained a secret from the Covenant. Though Kor Phaeron raised Lorgar as his own son and taught him the tenets of the Covenant's faith, he often was physically and emotionally abusive to the golden-skinned Primarch.
When Lorgar claimed to have seen visions of a divine being in bronze armour he claimed to be the One God of all Mankind, Kor Phaeron at first rejected the notion and berated his son for heresy, insisting that there were only the Great Powers. Lorgar's superhuman charisma soon began to gather new followers known as the "Godsworn" who were drawn to the tale of The One. As a result, Kor Phaeron softened his opposition to Lorgar's religious ideas.
Kor Phaeron consistently attempted to manipulate Lorgar for his own ends, primarily the pursuit of power, but Lorgar always remained intensely loyal to him. However, as Lorgar's fame and the devotion of his followers grew, Kor Phaeron's direct control over his adopted son weakened.
When Kor Phaeron ordered Lorgar beaten by the members of his caravan over a minor transgression, his own enforcers refused to carry out the punishment and mutinied against the priest. Lorgar slew the mutineers and saved his foster father's life, which surprised even Kor Phaeron. As a result, Kor Phaeron thereafter was no longer physically abusive towards Lorgar and proclaimed him the Covenant's true "Bearer of the Word."
No longer teacher and student, Kor Phaeron was named Lorgar's arch-deacon, the official who served as his chief adviser and the manager of all secular affairs, and the two now joined together to overthrow the Covenant's rule. Kor Phaeron, though he still saw Lorgar as a means to ultimate power, had now developed a genuine fondness for the Primarch.
However, he still kept many secrets from his foster son, including his leadership of a sect of the Covenant known as the Dark Heart. Kor Phaeron had no true allegiance to Lorgar's concept of The One and hoped to use the Dark Heart to one day restore the Great Powers to their rightful place as the predominant gods of the faith.
Lorgar's fame spread quickly thereafter, as he began liberating slaves held across Colchis. He slowly amassed a great army of the Godsworn that marched on the Colchisian capital city of Vharadesh, the City of Grey Flowers.
After a fiery sermon before the city gates, they opened to him. The lower priests of the Covenant within the capital presented the corpses of the ruling Covenant Ecclesiarch and Hierarchs as a gift to the city's new conqueror. After taking Vharadesh, Lorgar's Godsworn forces moved from city to city, taking them either peacefully through conversion or in some cases putting all within to the sword for their heresy in refusing the faith of The One.
After several Terran years of fighting, the last city to stand against Lorgar's army was Gahevarla, which was protected by an artefact dating back to the Age of Technology known as a "storm generator" which was capable of unleashing a raging storm front in its area of effect. In what appeared to be a miracle, Lorgar approached the raging maelstrom around the city and parted the storm, allowing his army to swarm through the gap and capture Gahevarla. With the fall of Gahevarla, Lorgar found himself the master of all Colchis and he immediately named Kor Phaeron as the High Priest of the Covenant. But without pause, Lorgar proclaimed to the faithful that they still had much to do.
However, as Lorgar grew in standing amongst the people as their religious leader, the other members of the Covenant's ecclesiastical hierarchy began to grow jealous of his popularity. Lorgar's youth had been constantly plagued by visions of a mighty warrior in gleaming bronze armour coming to Colchis, a one-eyed giant in blue robes standing beside him. At one point, the visions reached such an intensity that Lorgar claimed that the prophesied return of Colchis' one, true god was soon to occur.
He began to preach this news to the people of Colchis, causing disruptions to the theocratic rule of the Covenant as people converted to his dissident beliefs in the One God. Lorgar's enemies in the Covenant saw this as the opportunity they had been waiting for to remove the threat that Lorgar presented to the status quo, declaring him a heretic to the Old Ways.
Those of the Covenant who came forward to arrest Lorgar were killed by his followers. The Covenant split into two factions, the followers of the Old Faith and the Godsworn, the Brotherhood of Lorgar, who continued to believe in The One, and a holy war of immense proportions erupted, eventually forcing the entire population of the world to choose a side.
This conflict, called the "Schism Wars," lasted six standard years, ending when Lorgar and his supporters stormed the temple of the Covenant known as the Cathedral of Illumination in the heart of the capital of Vharadesh, at which the Primarch had trained, killing the monks within and eliminating the heart of the Covenant's conservative religious resistance to his ideas concerning the One God. Possibly as part of this conflict, or after it, one-third of the people of Colchis were said to turn against Lorgar, and the first Great Purge was conducted by the Brotherhood's fanatically loyal warrior-monks hand-picked by Lorgar.
Lorgar, now the ruling Archpriest of the reformed Covenant, promised the masses that their new god would arrive on Colchis no more than a local year after their victory and that they would know him only as "The Emperor." Kor Phaeron confessed to his adopted son that he remained a believer in the gods of the Old Faith, but that he also believed like Lorgar that the One God was the most powerful of their number.
The Great Crusade
The Emperor of Mankind finally came to Colchis less than a local year later with the Primarch Magnus the Red, alongside an Expeditionary Fleet of the Great Crusade and a contingent of Thousand Sons Space Marines. They offered Lorgar command of the XVIIth Space Marine Legion (at that time known as the "Imperial Heralds") as had been foreseen in Lorgar's visions
Lorgar deeply desired that his foster father accompany him on the Great Crusade after he assumed command of the XVIIth Legion. But Kor Phaeron was already far too old to receive the gene-seed organ implantations and prepubescent genetic manipulations necessary to grow into one of the Astartes. Instead, through rejuvenat treatments, the surgical insertion of costly bionics and limited gene-forging, Kor Phaeron was exalted above humanity as a sign of the value placed in him by his Primarch and was granted the rank of First Captain within the Legion.
Many within the soon-to-be renamed Word Bearers Legion came to hate the First Captain, and believed him to be a "false Asartes" who was impure, a pinnacle of genetic compromise. Despite having become far more than human, Kor Phaeron had not ascended to the ranks of the true Astartes.
But nevertheless, Kor Phaeron was overll accepted amongst Lorgar's Space Marines because of Lorgar's esteem for him. Kor Phaeron served as both the Primarch's second-in-command and the Captain of the elite 1st Company of the Legion. Even in a Legion defined by its religious zealotry, Kor Phaeron stood out. Phaeron led the warriors under his command with a fanatical ferocity unmatched by any of their brethren.
Kor Phaeron also served as a Chaplain for the Legion, a special rank created by Lorgar after he took over the Imperial Heralds. Kor Phaeron advanced quickly through the ranks of the Word Bearers' Reclusiam, assimilating the holy words of their Primarch concerning The One, which were to be preached to all of the peoples brought back into the God-Emperor's fold in the course of the Great Crusade.
Day of Judgement
Lorgar led his Legion throughout the glory years of the Great Crusade, setting out to eradicate and destroy all forms of blasphemy and heresy that threatened the Emperor's realm. Despite the strictures of the Imperial Truth, the Word Bearers at their Primarch's direction erected across the galaxy vast monuments and cathedrals dedicated to the worship of the God-Emperor whose divinity Lorgar had foreseen upon Colchis. The greatest Chaplains of the Legion preached to the conquered worlds of the Emperor's divinity. Lorgar himself delivered countless speeches and sermons, converting millions to the worship of the Emperor with his words alone.
The Primarch penned the Lectitio Divinitatus, his magnum opus, which argued persuasively that the Emperor of Mankind was a divine being and worthy of the worship of the human race as their One True God, a direct contravention of the Emperor's own atheistic Imperial Truth. This holy text spawned a loyal cult following that would later give rise to the Imperial Cult and the Adeptus Ministorum itself in the centuries after the Emperor was interred within the Golden Throne following the Horus Heresy.
The progress of the Word Bearers during the Great Crusade was thorough, but slow. None escaped the Crozius or the Bolter. Entire worlds were scoured of the living for their refusal to submit to the divine will of the Emperor. Never once, in over a Terran century of faithful service, had the Emperor chastised Lorgar for his Legion's zealous idolatry, though it went against the dictates of the Imperial Truth. Yet the Emperor increasingly took note of Lorgar's apparent lack of progress during the Great Crusade, and knew that the reason was that Lorgar was spending time spreading his illegal religion to every world his Legion conquered or brought into Imperial Compliance.
The Emperor finally brought His unfettered wrath down upon the Word Bearers, and ordered the XIIIth Legion, the Ultramarines, to destroy the great city of Monarchia on the world of Khur, a planet brought into Imperial Compliance only six solar decades earlier by the Word Bearers Legion. Monarchia stood as a testament to the Word Bearers' faith in the God-Emperor, a faith that stood against everything that the Imperium had sought to stand for since the Great Crusade had begun.
The Ultramarines obeyed, and gave the population of Monarchia six solar days to evacuate the city. At the appointed time, the Ultramarines carried out their orders and utterly destroyed the "Perfect City" and its monuments to religious faith with an orbital barrage, sending a message to Lorgar and his Legion that the worship of the Emperor as a god and the spreading of such idolatry was in direct violation of the Imperial Truth, and would not be tolerated.
A Legion Rebuked
On the ashen plains of the destroyed city the entirety of the XVIIth Legion, 100,000 Astartes in all, was gathered for a formal reprimand by the Master of Mankind following the destruction of Monarchia. The Emperor's representatives, Malcador the Sigillite and the Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman, presented themselves before the bewildered Word Bearers and their Primarch to give an explanation for Monarchia's destruction. Though Malcador attempted to reason with the Aurelian, the Word Bearers' Primarch refused to listen to him, striking the elderly representative of the Master of Mankind to the ground. Guilliman interposed himself between Malcador and his brother Primarch.
The Emperor Himself intervened, teleporting to the planet's surface, surrounded by a contingent of Legio Custodes. The Emperor psychically forced the entirety of the Aurelian's Legion of 100,000 Astartes to kneel in obeisance, in the dust of their once perfect city, rendered prone by the Emperor's very will. He then ordered Lorgar to kneel before him. Adding insult to his wounded pride, Lorgar watched as the Ultramarines rose to their feet at Guilliman's command. One Legion's warriors stood in the Emperor's presence with a Primarch's blessing, while another was on his knees in the bones of his dead city.
This action was not lost on Lorgar, for it had been mimicked by his Legion on numerous worlds where they had achieved Compliance when the entire conquered population had knelt in prayer to the God-Emperor and his "angels" from the sky. It was also a parody of the Legion's own Rite of Remembrance, a time to recall the sacrifices of lost Battle-Brothers and to reflect upon one's place in the Word.
The Emperor reminded His wayward son that he had been created to act as a general for the armies of Mankind, not as a high priest. He had been created for war and conquest, to reunite the human race under the aegis of reason and truth, not worship and religious superstition. To do otherwise was to make a mockery of the Imperial Truth. But Lorgar railed against his father, insisting that it was the Emperor who was being untrue to Himself, denying His own divinity and true nature. He argued that only the truly divine would deny their own divinity.
With His immense power and wisdom, the Emperor was already a god in all but name. All that remained was for Him to confess it as the truth for His trillions of waiting believer across the galaxy. The Emperor calmly denied Lorgar's misguided beliefs about His "divinity," for the Emperor was forging not a theocracy but a galaxy-spanning empire of reason and truth. There was no place for faith or priests within this new order, though Lorgar stubbornly insisted that Mankind needed more than reason to thrive -- it needed faith in something larger than itself.
After rebuking His son, the Emperor looked upon the Word Bearers and chastised them, accusing them of failure to live up to the Imperium's ideals and to carry out their mission. Though the Word Bearers numbered amongst their ranks more Astartes than any other Legion save for the Ultramarines, their conquests were the slowest, and their victories rang hollow.
They lingered too long on Compliant worlds, driving the populace into the worship of a false god and erecting monuments to the lies of religious superstition. All they had done in the Great Crusade had been for naught. While other Legions continued to succeed and bring prosperity and truth to the Imperium's expanding population, the Word Bearers alone had failed in the purpose for which they had been created. The Emperor exhorted them to do better.
The Old Faith
Upon returning to his personal Battleship, the Fidelitas Lex, after the terrible rebuke on Khur, the Primarch retreated into his shipboard quarters for a solar month and refused to speak to anyone, except Kor Phaeron and the Legion's First Chaplain Erebus. Lorgar mourned the Emperor's command. Removing his Power Armour, he wore nothing but a sackcloth, his golden skin smeared with the dust from Monarchia's surface over his features with each new day. His kohl-ringed eyes were darkened further by exhaustion and narrowed by the burden of shame.
In the meantime, the 47th Expeditionary Fleet of the Word Bearers sat idly by, orbiting the world of 47-16 (the sixteenth world to be brought into Imperial Compliance by the 47th Expedition), awaiting for a command, any command, to be issued from their Primarch. As the Word Bearers sat becalmed in deep space, following the Emperor's rebuke of Lorgar's actions, it was Kor Phaeron who first gave voice to the idea that if the Emperor would not accept their worship, there were other beings in the galaxy who would.
Kor Phaeron and Erebus sympathised with Lorgar's unrequited religious longings, and felt that the Word Bearers Legion should serve gods truly worthy of their worship. Kor Phaeron understood Lorgar's need for acceptance by a divine power and he knew that the powers of Chaos turned noone away. Kor Phaeron's quest for power had long ago led him to Chaos through the Old Faith of Colchis, which had been a religion dedicated to the different aspects of the Chaos Gods before Lorgar's coming had unleashed the new faith of the God-Emperor upon the Colchisian people. Always having maintained his belief in the Old Faith through his membership in the Dark Heart of the Covenant that had never given up the Old Ways, Kor Phaeron now determined to convert his Primarch to the service of the Dark Gods.
As Lorgar brooded over the Emperor's reproach, Kor Phaeron worked subtle manipulations and whispered appeals to Lorgar's pride alongside Erebus, who had also long been corrupted by Chaos, slowly poisoning the Primarch against his father and the Imperium He led. Thus the seeds of the Horus Heresy were first sown amongst the Word Bearers. Intrigued, Lorgar demanded that the Legion find these gods, and Kor Phaeron and Erebus, both of whom had been secret devotees of Chaos for solar decades, proposed a sacred journey similar to those undertaken in the myths of the Covenant, later known as the Pilgrimage of Lorgar.
Hearing of Lorgar's inaction, the Master of Mankind was on the verge of once again reprimanding His tardy son, when news reached Him that the Word Bearers had suddenly renewed their campaign with great vigour. Instead of Imperial Compliance, the embittered Lorgar only offered the doomed populace of 47-16 the sword, and in his wrath untold numbers of atrocities were committed. Not aware of what had truly occurred in the wake of His reprimand, and pleased with what appeared in initial reports as progress, the Emperor focused on the other matters at hand.
Kor Phaeron became the "Master of the Faith" for the Word Bearers after their secret conversion to the service of Chaos and began the process of corrupting the entire Word Bearers Legion. With Lorgar finally embracing the worship of Chaos with enthusiasm following his Pilgrimage, it was not long before the Word Bearers were wholly dedicated to the Ruinous Powers. As before, Kor Phaeron served as Lorgar's principal spiritual adviser and led contingents of the Word Bearers in some of the most devastating battles of the Horus Heresy.
Kor Phaeron commanded the Word Bearers' surprise attack against the Ultramarines at the Battle of Calth. During the fighting on Calth, Kor Phaeron attempted to turn the Ultramarines' Primarch Roboute Guilliman to Chaos with a shard of the Anathame just as the Word Bearers' First Chaplain Erebus had done with Horus on Davin's moon, but Guilliman only answered by ripping out one of his two hearts in disgust, proving to be immune to the Dark Gods' temptations.
Defeated, Kor Phaeron retreated into the Warp aboard the Word Bearers' Battleship Infidus Imperator, pursued by the Ultramarines aboard their flagship, the Macragge's Honour. After luring the Ultramarines into the Warp, Kor Phaeron ordered his crew to turn about and attack, since destroying the Ultramarines' flagship was the next best thing to killing Guilliman himself.
However, the Ultramarines' fighting skill and resolve proved the equal of the Word Bearers' zealous hatred, and the Infidus Imperator was destroyed, though not before Kor Phaeron hastily cut a hole from reality into the Warp with the Chaos artefact called the athame and escaped, arriving on Sicarus, the Daemon World inside the Eye of Terror that would eventually become the Word Bearers' homeworld after the Forces of Chaos were defeated at the Battle of Terra.
Though the XVIIth Legion achieved a monumental victory of sorts at Calth, it was all a matter of perspective. Piercing the veil of the Warp, Lorgar had heard the whisperings of the Chaos Gods and had witnessed the truth for himself. Yes, Erebus had successfully conjured the massive Warp Storm known as the Ruinstorm at Calth intended to cut off half the Imperium from Terra and prevent several of the Loyalist Legions from providing reinforcements for the defence of the Throneworld.
But ultimately, Erebus and Kor Phaeron had failed to achieve their overall objectives: the Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman was still alive, the Word Bearers had lost half the fleet they had deployed at Calth to an Ultramarines counterattack, and tens of thousands of Word Bearers, including the elite daemon-possessed Gal Vorbak and many thousands of the XVIIth Legion's mortal servants and the Faithful of the Chaos Gods, had been abandoned to a useless subterranean war beneath Calth's irradiated surface while the two Word Bearers commanders had fled.
Though Lorgar was somewhat displeased, the base level of success required for the larger movement against the Loyalist forces of the Emperor by the Traitors under Horus had more or less been achieved; the Ruinstorm had been conjured and the rogue elements of the Word Bearers who were the least likely to adhere to Lorgar's vision of the future had been culled.
Following Horus' defeat, the remnants of the 9 Traitor Legions fled, along with the other Traitor Imperial forces that now served Chaos, into the Eye of Terror, an area of the galaxy where the Warp bled into realspace, creating a permanent Warp Storm.
From Sicarus, the Word Bearers Legion now orchestrates the vast corruption from within that the Imperium suffers at the hands of the various Chaos Cults and witches' covens that Kor Phaeron and his fellow Dark Apostles sponsor across the galaxy.
Eventually, the atrocities committed by the Word Bearers allowed for Lorgar's ascension to daemonhood, becoming the equal of a god in the eyes of his Legion. It is said his birth scream as a Daemon Prince of Chaos Undivided echoed across the Immaterium with triumphant vindication, his faith and devotion to Chaos rewarded with immortality and unbridled power. He has since isolated himself within the Templum Inficio on Sicarus where he has remained for thousands of standard years, forbidding anyone to interrupt his meditation, thus allowing the Word Bearers to be taken over by a Dark Council of the Word Bearers' most powerful Dark Apostles.
From the two primary bases of the XVIIth Legion in the galaxy, Sicarus and the factory-world of Ghalmek which is located within the Maelstrom, the Word Bearers launch twisted Wars of Faith against the Imperium in the name of the Dark Gods. These conflicts' purpose is to "enlighten" humanity by replacing its worship of the Corpse Emperor with that of the only true divinities of the universe. That this requires the death of billions of people is a price that the Word Bearers are willing to pay to bring the truth first sought by Lorgar Aurelian to the rest of the galaxy.
Since the Heresy and in the absence of Lorgar as a force in the XVIIth Legion, Kor Phaeron has become the Legion's "Black Cardinal" and "Keeper of the Faith." He was often engaged in a power struggle with First Chaplain Erebus for control over the direction of the Legion.
Concerned that Erebus has too much sway over the Dark Council and that he is leading the Legion down a self-destructive path, Kor Phaeron tried to organise the secretive cabal within the Word Bearers Legion known as the The Brotherhood to remove Erebus from power, but the former First Chaplain was tipped off about the attempted coup by his fellow Dark Apostle Marduk. Kor Phaeron then renounced all ties to The Brotherhood and kept his position of leadership within the Legion, but the animosity and distrust between the Black Cardinal and Erebus has only intensified.
Kor Phaeron's whereabouts are currently unknown, but the multitudes of Chaos Cults and uprisings around the Maelstrom lead many to believe that Kor Phaeron may have survived the Horus Heresy, and continues to spread the faith and message of Chaos Undivided to the present day.
- The Terminus Consolaris - Too old for transformation into a full-blooded Space Marine when the Emperor found Lorgar on Colchis, the Primarch nevertheless assured, through the use of gene-craft and anti-agathics, that his foster father would join him on the Great Crusade as his First Captain. Before his later transfiguration by Chaos, Kor Phaeron's aged physique was augmented in battle by a custom-designed suit of Cataphractii Pattern Terminator Armour reinforced with additional medicae, exoskeletal and life support systems known as the Terminus Consolaris.
- 2 Lightning Claws
- Digi-Flamer - Concealed within Kor Phaeron's regalia of office is a miniaturised flamer weapon which is as powerful as a full sized Hand Flamer.
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions
- Index Astartes IV "Dark Apostles - The Word Bearers Space Marine Legion", pg. 14
- Mark of Calth (Anthology) edited by Laurie Golding, "The Shards of Erebus" by Guy Haley (Introductory Quote)
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre by Alan Bligh (Forge World Series), pp. 138, 141, 143-144, 259
- The Horus Heresy - Book Five: Tempest by Alan Bligh (Forge World Series), pp. 21, 28, 51, 67, 69, 105, 108, 157, 172, 249
- The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Tales of Heresy (Anthology), "Scions of the Storm" by Anthony Reynolds, pp. 159-209
- Know No Fear (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Forge World - Horus Heresy Character Series: Erebus & Kor Phaeron
- Lorgar: Bearer of the Word (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- Macragge's Honour (Graphic Novel) by Dan Abnett and illustrated by Neil Roberts