"All I ever wanted was the truth. Remember those words as you read the ones that follow. I never set out to topple my father's kingdom of lies from a sense of misplaced pride. I never wanted to bleed the species to its marrow, reaving half the galaxy clean of human life in this bitter crusade. I never desired any of this, though I know the reasons for which it must be done. But all I ever wanted was the truth."
Lorgar, also once called Lorgar Aurelian and the Urizen (Colchisian for "wisest of the wise") before the Horus Heresy, is a Daemon Prince of Chaos Undivided and the former Primarch of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion.
Always determined to uplift humanity through a deep belief in the divine, once the Emperor of Mankind rejected his attempts at worship, Lorgar discovered new gods more worthy of his devotion, the Ruinous Powers of Chaos, during his infamous Pilgrimage.
"Faith is the soul of any army; be it vested in primitive religion or enlightened truth. It makes even the least soldier mighty, the craven is remade worthy and through its balm any hardship may be endured. Faith ennobles all of the worlds the soldier undertakes be they so base or vile, and imports to them the golden spark of transcendent purpose."
Colchis was a world of old gods. It was said that religion was in the air, in the touch of the sun and the taste of the dust. To its people, worship of higher powers was as much a part of them as the beating of their hearts and the crying of their children. Bound in feudal traditions, Colchis had once been a world of high technology, but those days lay forgotten in Old Night.
Life was easy for some and hard for others, and all the people knew the same truths that their fathers had known and their mothers had taught. That disease came and culled generations, but that these times would pass for nothing could remain unchanged. That war would come like rain and stain the land with blood, but there were always the promises of joy even when all seemed lost. All men died, and kings fell and new kings rose, but the gods remained.
The Primarch Lorgar vanished from the Emperor's gene-laboratory beneath the Himalazian (Himalayan) Mountains on Terra while still an infant in his gestation capsule, along with the 19 other Primarchs, who were all transported through the Warp and scattered to random human-inhabited worlds across the galaxy. His gestation-capsule came to rest on the theocratic Feudal World of Colchis. When the infant Lorgar fell from the sky, his Legion had yet to be born on Terra, and the faith of Colchis was held in the hands of a ruling priesthood called the Covenant.
A nomadic tribe of desert outcasts known as "The Declined" under the chieftain Fan Morgal found the infant's shattered capsule and took him in. They named the child Lorgar, or the "Rain-caller" in the Colchisian tongue. Seventeen local days later, Lorgar, already grown to the size of a young child, was discovered by Kor Phaeron an exiled priest of the Covenant and his caravan of exiles. Kor Phaeron had been exiled from the Colchisian capital of Vharadesh, the City of Grey Flowers, for advocating that the Covenant be more forceful and aggressive in its conversion tactics.
The predominant religion on Colchis was that of the Covenant, later known as the "Old Faith" or the "Old Ways." It was a polytheistic religion dedicated to the worship of four entities that were in fact the Chaos Gods in more benevolent guises.
Immediately sensing greatness in the boy and believing him blessed by the Colchisian gods he called "The Powers," Kor Phaeron convinced Lorgar to become his disciple and promptly killed Fan Morgal and The Declined to cover up the boy's identity. Despite enduring Kor Phaeron's vicious emotional and physical abuses, Lorgar came to fervently believe in the faith of the Covenant and researched every aspect of its theology that he could find. He came to believe that there was a single god he named "The One" that led and bound together in his being the polytheistic pantheon of the Covenant which comprised four lesser gods.
Kor Phaeron dismissed such notions initially as heresy and often abused Lorgar in an attempt to shape the young Primarch's personality and create an emotional dependency upon him. At the same time, Kor Phaeron saw something special in Lorgar and attempted to manipulate him in order to use the boy's obvious extraordinary talents to take over the theocracy of the Covenant and rule over Colchis.
Nonetheless, despite the abuse, Lorgar remained intensely loyal to Kor Phaeron and even saved his life during a mutiny by the caravan's crew after they were asked to beat Lorgar once more by his foster father for some minor transgression. Lorgar also grew close to others in Kor Phaeron's caravan of exiles, which included the mercenary captain Axata and the enslaved Covenant teacher Nairo.
Despite Kor Phaeron's abuse Lorgar quickly surpassed his master. He became a devout preacher, his skill in oratory and the power of his superhuman charisma winning him many followers, allowing him to rise to the position of Archpriest of the Godsworn as the followers of Lorgar's branch of the Covenant and believers in The One called themselves.
After saving Kor Phaeron's life in the mutiny, the priest ended his physical abuse of the Primarch and began to show him some affection. He named Lorgar the new "Bearer of the Word." Lorgar's fame spread rapidly 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.
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 once trained. They killed the monks within and eliminated 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 have turned against Lorgar, and the first Great Purge was conducted by the Brotherhood's fanatically loyal warrior-monks who had been 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 other gods of the Old Faith, but that he also believed like Lorgar that the One God was the most powerful of their number.
The Coming of the Emperor
This continued belief in the Old Faith, also maintained by many other Colchisians after the Godsworn's victory, would lay the foundation for the Word Bearers' eventual turn to Chaos. The Emperor and the Great Crusade's Expeditionary Fleet reached Colchis in 857.M30, less than a local year after Lorgar's final victory over the Covenant. As the golden-armoured Emperor of Mankind descended from His landing craft with the one-eyed Primarch Magnus the Red and two Legion Tactical Squads of Thousand Sons Astartes at His side, there could be no doubt in Lorgar's mind that he knelt before his god.
Beside him a planet knelt and believed the same. Lorgar saw this preordained meeting as the confirmation of his many visions and prophecies, and so the Primarch and his people wholeheartedly embraced the ruler of the Imperium of Man as their promised messiah and God-Emperor.
When the Emperor finally met His long lost son face-to-face, as Lorgar had foreseen, the Primarch immediately dropped to one knee in obeisance, leading the population of his world in rejoicing and worshipping the Emperor as the one, true God of Mankind. At the conclusion of these festivities, the Emperor bade Lorgar to take his best warriors and induct them into the XVII Space Marine Legion, the Imperial Heralds, who had been created from his own genome.
Lorgar gratefully took up the Emperor's purpose, expressing his deeply-held desire to spread his faith in the God-Emperor to every world in the Imperium, despite the Emperor's continuing admonishments that His Imperium was to be built on the foundation of the Imperial Truth, an atheistic, rationalist doctrine that forbade the practice of religious faith as mere superstition.
Lorgar then joined his father and his Legion on the Great Crusade to reunify the human worlds of the galaxy under the new Imperium. Lorgar appointed trustworthy regents to rule over Colchis in his absence and devoutly complied with what he believed were his father's divine commandments. That the Emperor claimed He was not divine paradoxically only further strengthened Lorgar's faith in Him, as who else but a true God would claim that He was not divine?
Every facet of the Covenant's belief structure was reorganised around the worship of the Emperor as the divine saviour of Mankind, and the people of Colchis united behind their new living god. The elaborate celebrations and displays of piety lasted for solar months, although it was said that the Emperor did not approve of this, wishing to rejoin the Great Crusade as soon as possible and being dismissive of organised religion in general. The Emperor had not begun the Great Crusade to reshackle humanity within the chains of superstition and ignorance but to spread the light of reason and science.
At the conclusion of the celebrations, Lorgar was made commander of the XVII Legion, the Imperial Heralds. Kor Phaeron survived the difficult genetic augmentation process to become an adult superhuman warrior similar to a true Space Marine and became Lorgar's chief adviser, lieutenant and the commander of the Word Bearers' elite 1st Company as the Legion's First Captain.
The Emperor as God
The belief that the Emperor was a god was not a new one. From the days of His first conquest, there were some who whispered that He was not of the mortal realm. Many of His conquered enemies were amongst the first to call Him divine. Faced with His power and the destruction of everything they had known, they called Him by ancient names, that being their only way to rationalise what had happened. Some called Him an angel, others a spirit, some a daemon, others placed His nature higher still. God they called Him, and spoke prayers to Him in the watches of the night and under the light of lost suns.
That Lorgar believed the Emperor a god is beyond doubt, and it is likely that he held this belief before he met the object of his devotion, and maintained it even after becoming the lord of a Space Marine Legion charged with purging idolatry, religion and superstition in the name of the atheistic Imperial Truth. In those first years of the Great Crusade, Lorgar hid his true conviction, never stating it openly but also never disavowing it.
In all the records of his words in that time, of which there are many, there is endless praise for the Emperor's vision and for the course He charted for Mankind, but not one word denouncing the specific belief that the Emperor was divine. The worship of idols, the practices of mystics, and the falseness of countless gods; all were condemned without measure, but on the nature of his lord and father, Lorgar remained silent.
Perhaps the most manifest display of this belief was the now infamous Lectitio Divinitatus, a document written by Lorgar during the Great Crusade expressing his belief and the rational basis for this belief in the divine nature of the Emperor of Mankind. Ironically, this document created the foundation for what would later become the Imperial Cult during the Emperor's own lifetime. The new religion would eventually emerge during the 32nd Millennium on the myriad worlds of the Imperium following the Emperor's interment in the Golden Throne to become His Imperium's state church.
It seems likely that Lorgar shared his belief with others, discussing and nursing their faith alongside his own. It might be easy given later events to say that figures such as the Legion's First Chaplain Erebus and Kor Phaeron were his chief confidants, and perhaps they were. Others though seem equally likely to have played their part. Halik-gar, High Herald of the XVII Legion and its commander before Lorgar's return, seems to have been converted by his gene-sire, and with him such devoted former Iconoclasts as Maedro Vessar, and Ustun Cho.
Through these and others, Lorgar began to change his Legion's soul. Lorgar's return to the XVII Legion did not change the Legion's nature on the surface, the manner in which they waged war was the same, but, underneath the surface, the return of their gene-father changed the Imperial Heralds in far more profound ways. The old ways of devoted service were no longer enough, devotion to an ideal was not enough, victory was not enough. The reason one fought, the fire that drove one on step-by-step on the path of truth, that was everything.
If victory was certain, and who could doubt it as stars and systems fell to the Emperor's Great Crusade in their hundreds, then the measure of true victory was not in death and blood, but in what a warrior carried within him. What one believed and the mark one left on Mankind were of the utmost importance. This sense of heightened fervour spread through the XVII Legion like fire, as if Lorgar's mere presence had raised his sons up into a brighter light.
One of the tangible changes that came with the return of the Primarch Lorgar was an increase in the importance of ceremony amongst the warriors of the XVII. The black-clad and skull-helmed heralds of the old Legion were given new authority to ensure the moral strength of their brother Legionaries. These new Legion officers, called Chaplains, would be the core of the XVII Legion's strength, showing the way of truth through word and deed, not just to the conquered but those who held the sword.
When a city burned or a people were put to death, the deed was done with the solemnity of a rite. The death notice of enemies were spoken in ritual phrases by a Chaplain, as he scattered the ashes of dead and defiant worlds over the bowed heads of warriors. New words and phrases began to enter the vocabulary of the XVII Legion, words which tasted of the dust and incense of Colchis: "apostle," "athame," "creed." Some even began to refer to the dangerous and deviant modes of thought within the XVII Legion by a name which itself came from the shadows of lost religious creeds: heresy.
Lorgar led his Legion throughout the Great Crusade, as the Word Bearers sought to eliminate all blasphemy and heresy within the new Imperium of Man. Ancient texts and icons of other faiths were burned. The construction of vast monuments and cathedrals venerating the Emperor was supervised. The greatest Chaplains of the Word Bearers produced enormous works on the divinity and righteousness of the Emperor, and gave grand speeches and sermons to the masses. The progress of the Word Bearers was slow in bringing new worlds into Imperial Compliance, but domination of the defeated was complete.
The Fires of Colchis
The change of the XVII Legion's soul took solar decades to complete. A large Legion even before it was reunited with its Primarch, Lorgar was not fool enough to attempt such a project in one stage. The golden Primarch had a genius for speaking to men's hearts, and his campaigns to win those hearts were as subtle and thorough as those fought by the likes of Fulgrim of the Emperor's Children and Roboute Guilliman of the Ultramarines on the battlefield. Bit by bit, the faith in the Emperor's divinity was spread from brother to brother.
The Chaplains, Lorgar's new vanguard of faith later copied by all of the other Legions following the Council of Nikaea, subtly altered the counsel they gave their brothers. New structures of organisation sprang up beside the old military hierarchy; fraternities that seemed to have much in common with those of other Space Marine Legions but, in truth, were devices for the propagation of the faith through the ranks of the XVII Legion.
The echo of this grand, yet slow, conversion can be seen in the steps by which Lorgar would later corrupt half of the other Legions, and pull the Imperium into the darkness from which he had once sought to raise it. It might seem strange that warriors like the Word Bearers who in the days before the return of Lorgar had fanatically fought to cast down gods would embrace those same beliefs, but this ignores the basic nature of the fanatic.
At their core they need a cause around which to build their world. What that cause is can be always be easily changed, so long as the heart of its fire fills them. In their hearts the Astartes of the XVII Legion fell into the grasps of religion because part of them had always wanted to, part of them wanted there to be more to belief than mere rationality.
The second factor which allowed Lorgar to convert his Legion to the belief in the Emperor's divinity was the nature of the Great Crusade itself. Across countless fronts the Legions fought, suffered casualties and recruited anew. As this attrition mixed the old with the new, so the blood of the mostly Terran-born Iconoclast Imperial Heralds was diluted with that of Colchis and then with dozens of worlds on the bloody edge of conquest. These were sons who had never seen the light of Sol, nor known the Legion as it had been. They accepted what was taught to them because it was the only truth offered. In the case of those recruited into the Legion from Colchis, the belief in the divine was already ingrained into their every thought from birth.
When all was done, when the final Imperial Herald had embraced the faith, when the last of the old Iconoclasts had died, then Lorgar added the final flourish of ritual to seal his victory. The Imperial Heralds would become known instead as the "Word Bearers." To the rest of the Imperium, still ignorant of the change wrought in the XVII Legion, the name reflected their part in bringing the Imperial Truth to all humanity. To Lorgar it was an affirmation of his purpose: to give humanity faith in the god at its pinnacle.
The Arithmetic of Faith
Lorgar was an unusual Primarch because he was less martial in nature than his brothers, and possessed an abiding faith that religion represented the pinnacle of human expression and a deeply-held belief that the Emperor of Mankind was actually a divine being made manifest in the mortal realm. As a result, Lorgar was determined to spread his own faith in the Emperor to every world that his Legion encountered in the course of the Great Crusade, a policy that would be in direct contradiction to the principles of the Imperial Truth.
Yet Lorgar also was never respected by his brothers, largely because he was never comfortable with his own gifts and less prone to violence than they. This caused the other Primarchs to believe their soulful, intellectual brother to be a weakling, the runt of the Emperor's litter. While other Legions left conquests like bloody footprints on the stars, the Word Bearers lingered.
Faith in secrecy might be sincere but, ultimately, it cannot satisfy a driven soul. With the Great Crusade reaching its zenith, Lorgar was faced with worlds brought to Compliance by his Legion: broken worlds, worlds that had lived under the yoke of aliens, witches and belief in false gods, worlds that now had nothing but the cold comfort of being united with a universe that seemed to hold nothing greater than the truth they saw blowing on ash-laden winds.
How could he know the truth and deny it to these worlds? At least that seems the likely path that led him to make his crusade not one of rationality but of faith. As worlds and star systems fell to the Word Bearers, they were brought to believe in the Emperor as a god. Amidst the devastation they raised temples. Chaplains and mortal vassal preachers would go amongst the conquered to speak of the god who now reigned over them, producing enormous devotional works on the divinity and righteousness of the Emperor, and Lorgar himself delivered countless speeches and sermons, converting millions to the worship of the Emperor with his words alone.
The foundations of new cities were sunk in the embers of the old, vast monuments and cathedrals dedicated to the worship of the Emperor were erected upon the mounds of corpses belonging to those who had resisted conversion. The worlds they re-founded grew and prospered. Their people utterly loyal to the Imperium and the Emperor; they were Compliant, but they were alone in an unholy land. Though they did not see it, their piety was doomed from the moment the Word Bearers brought them to it.
The rumours came first: whispers passed between Imperial forces who had fought alongside the Word Bearers. Talk began to circulate of the ritualistic practices of the XVII Legion, of the fervour of their zeal and devotion to the Great Crusade. Some even went so far as to wonder if the Iconoclasts of old had not succumbed to the superstitious practices they had once persecuted. The rumours multiplied, but if they reached the highest circles of the Imperium, they triggered no action.
The Great Crusade was a war of expansion spread across the galaxy. Numberless fleets and hundreds of thousands of armies came into operation, separated by vast distances and joined only by the tenuous links of Warp travel and astrotelepathy. The sheer scale and dynamism of such an endeavour made absolute knowledge a rare commodity. The Emperor and the Imperium's ruling War Council did not have the time or means to do anything but trust that those who led the Crusade acted as the Emperor would wish. Rumour, hearsay and unkind suspicion were not enough to call the motivations of one of the Legions into question.
At the last, it was not talk of belief that brought the Word Bearers' wrongs to light, but the arithmetic of conquest. Conquering worlds took time and resources, but rebuilding them and bringing them to believe in the Emperor as a god took far longer again. Over the years, the Word Bearers' rate of conquest had slowed to a crawl. Where the other Legions brought dozens of worlds to Imperial Compliance, the Word Bearers would claim a handful by comparison. The disparity eventually became too much to be ignored.
The military bureaucracy that had grown up around the War Council sent expeditions to a cluster of worlds conquered by the Word Bearers. Was there some factor that had caused the Word Bearers greater difficulties than other Legions? The emissaries and expeditions found their answer. The XVII Legion had not been slowed by resistance, but because they lingered after their conquests. The rebuilding of a planet's faith and social structures took time, as did the rebuilding of cities and the raising of temples from which the faith could be maintained. And the faith gifted to the worlds they conquered was the belief that the Emperor was a god, the one, true God of all Mankind.
A Legion Rebuked
During this period, the absolute loyalty of Lorgar and the Word Bearers Legion to the Emperor and His Imperium was unquestionable. Their Compliant worlds regularly delivered tithes in the Emperor's name, and the orders of Terra were accepted without question throughout the worlds liberated by the Word Bearers. Lorgar and his Legion had successfully prosecuted the Emperor's Great Crusade for almost a standard century, and in that time the Emperor had never once admonished His zealous son or the Word Bearers Legion for their fervent worship of Him even though such doctrine directly clashed with the Emperor's policy of spreading the Imperial Truth.
But the Emperor, for all His love of His son, was deeply disturbed. He had initially tolerated the beliefs of His deeply religious son, but as the Great Crusade reached its height, the Emperor found Himself increasingly frustrated with the slow pace with which Lorgar conquered and then brought worlds into Compliance for the Imperium. The Emperor finally ordered the Word Bearers to cease their religious activities, as their mission was to reunify the galaxy under the banner of the secular Imperial Truth, not preach the word of the Emperor's personal divinity.
The Emperor had long opposed the spread of organised religion and was determined to use the creation of the new Imperium of Man to enshrine reason and science, not religion, as the true guiding light of a new interstellar human civilisation. The Emperor was particularly troubled by any notion that He should be worshiped as a god and the actions of the Word Bearers Legion in slaughtering those who refused to accept the Emperor's divinity stank of the religious excesses that had so often poisoned human history.
Once the truth was revealed, it was only a matter of time before the Emperor would be moved to censure the Word Bearers. The links of cause and effect are poorly recorded, but it seems that the Emperor waited for some time after the initial reports reached His court. That He sent missions to assay many more worlds conquered by the Word Bearers is known. We can only speculate as to why: perhaps He did not want to believe it of His son, perhaps He wanted to be sure, perhaps He was simply gathering information before acting. Some sources indicate that the Emperor confronted Lorgar during this time, that He even told him that if he persisted he would have to suffer the consequences. Imperial scholars cannot know now if this is true, too much has been forgotten, and too much more must never be remembered. What is known, at least, is that the Emperor finally acted.
The Emperor rose from His endeavours and called another of His sons to His side. Roboute Guilliman, the Primarch of the XIII Legion, had a reputation for careful leadership and unbending honesty. No one else witnessed what passed between the two, and Guilliman refused to speak of it, but it can be speculated why the Emperor chose the Ultramarines to be His tool of censure.
It seemed clear that the Emperor did not wish Lorgar or His sons broken, merely set back on the correct path. The Ultramarines Legion were a Legion with an exemplary record of victories and Compliant worlds. Ultramar was even then a growing realm of hundreds of obedient and prosperous star systems. Across the galaxy the Ultramarines had pushed back the boundaries of the Imperium with energy and a mind for what should follow in the wake of war.
They were the Word Bearers' mirror and shadow, alike in so many ways and different in so many others: a living example of what the Word Bearers could be. Perhaps that was the message carried by the choice of the Ultramarines; that there was hope for glory beyond the shame that must come. Whatever the subtleties of the message of censure, it would, however, be delivered in a manner that could leave no doubt to its meaning.
The Emperor ordered a task force composed of the entire Ultramarines Legion and accompanied by a force of his elite personal bodyguards, the Legio Custodes and the Imperial Regent, Malcador the Sigillite, to raze the capital city of the planet Khur, a world dear to the Word Bearers, whom considered its capital, Monarchia, the "perfect city" because of the intense religious devotion of its citizens and the sheer number of cathedrals and monuments dedicated to the worship of the Emperor as the God of Humanity.
Following the city's destruction by the Ultramarines, the entire Word Bearers Legion, 100,000 Space Marines strong, were ordered to assemble on the planet's surface, within sight of the smoldering ruins of Monarchia, where its Astartes were humiliated and rebuked by the Emperor Himself, who psychically forced everyone, including Lorgar, to kneel before Him in the ashes of a city which stood for all they had believed and done, and explained to them that they had failed both Him and humanity.
He was no god, and would suffer no such belief in His realm. The Emperor departed, leaving a Primarch chastised and a Legion humbled. Lorgar was stunned by his father's reproach and refusal to accept his worship, and fell into a deep melancholy. Some may say that future generations could see all that would come to pass was born in that moment.
After the razing of Monarchia, the history of the XVII Legion divides. One is the history of the Legion that the Imperium believed existed for solar decades after, the history of a Legion pulling itself from the pit of the past and embracing its true calling, a false history. The second is a shadow history, the true history that hid behind the mask of seeming loyalty. This true history can never be known, and what Imperial scholars do know of it are only distorted glimpses.
On the surface, Lorgar's response to the Emperor's censure was to withdraw. For a time his Legion seems to have played little part in the Great Crusade. When they returned, it was clear that they were a changed force. Whereas before they lingered after conquests, now they drove forward with relentless momentum. Worlds burned, civilisations were made to kneel, and a trail of swift conquest and Imperial Compliance actions stretched behind them like a bloody cloak. It is said that the Emperor was pleased that His son had understood his error and would, in time, become what he was destined to be. To every other eye, the Word Bearers seemed possessed by a penitent fury and grim resolve to burn the past. All were deceived.
That Lorgar was shaken by the shattering of his universe seems likely, but what action did it prompt? At the time some thought that the XVII Legion had withdrawn in shame, and that its return to the Great Crusade was fuelled by a wish to atone. Such a kind reading of events no longer rings true. Instead it seems likely that Lorgar's fall began after Monarchia, that the dark powers of the Warp reached out to him in his moment of doubt and offered him that which the Emperor had denied him: a higher power to believe in.
It is not known whom these voices were that counselled him, and the hands that guided him to damnation. Again much remains hidden, but a number of candidates seem likely. Kor Phaeron, Lorgar's surrogate father on Colchis and close advisor, seems a likely source of poison, as does the Legion's First Chaplain Erebus. Both were steeped in the Old Faith of Colchis, a faith that was likely tainted by the powers of the Warp long before Lorgar fell from the sky. The word "Pilgrimage" is also one of the few fragments that has emerged as linked with that time, thought its precise significance can now only be guessed at. What cannot now be doubted is that the Word Bearers who re-joined the Great Crusade after the razing of Monarchia no longer served the Emperor.
For over four solar decades the XVII Legion wore a false face of loyalty and planted the seeds that would eventually bloom into a galaxy-spanning civil war. The precise nature of their preparations is only open to supposition, but much can be deduced from Lorgar's character and the atrocities that would come later. First, it seems likely that the Word Bearers' renewed energy in the Great Crusade was a cover for its rapid growth in size, as well as the seeding of its new corrupting creed and belief in Chaos onto new worlds.
It must also have been during this time that the XVII Legion was cleansed of dissent. The last of the old Iconoclasts and Imperial Heralds, the few Terran-born Astartes still among the Legion, and those who would not embrace the new faith must have been put quietly to the sword. The corruption of much of the apparatus of the Imperium also must have occurred in this time. So it was that when Horus finally fell to the temptations of the Ruinous Powers, Lorgar had already long prepared the ground for war.
Pilgrimage of Lorgar
The idea of "the Pilgrimage," a journey to the legendary place where mortals could directly interact with the gods, was an ancient mythological trope on many human-settled worlds of the Milky Way Galaxy, including Lorgar and the Word Bearers' homeworld of Colchis. Of course, such a place, the Warp, did exist, and one could discover the Primordial Truth of the universe there, i.e. that the Immaterium was dominated by the powerful psychic entities known as the Chaos Gods.
Prompted by First Captain Kor Phaeron and the XVII Legion's First Chaplain Erebus, both secret devotees of the Chaos Gods through Colchis' Old Faith, Lorgar journeyed with his Word Bearers Legion's Chapter of the Serrated Sun to what was then the fringes of known Imperial space as part of the 1301st Expeditionary Fleet of the Great Crusade. At this time, Lorgar had not yet fallen to the corruption of Chaos, though he had turned against the Emperor of Mankind as a deity no longer worthy of his worship.
Lorgar believed that the Emperor was wrong to condemn Mankind's natural instinct to seek out the divine as an unworthy superstition and he intended to discover if there were truly deities worthy of humanity's respect. To this end, though Lorgar no longer had any love or loyalty for the Emperor, he and his XVII Legion rejoined the Great Crusade but did so only so their efforts could serve as a front for their pursuit of the Pilgrimage.
The Word Bearers were also accompanied on this Pilgrimage by 5 members of the Legio Custodes who had been set by the Emperor to watch over everything the Word Bearers did to prevent them from falling back into error once more. The Word Bearers' pursuit of any scrap of information that could be found on the Primordial Truth or the nature of the place where Gods and mortals could mingle ultimately led the 1301st Expeditionary Fleet to the Cadia System near the largest permanent Warp Storm in the galaxy, later known to the Imperium as the Eye of Terror.
The Expeditionary Fleet's Master of Astropaths advised Lorgar that unusual "voices" in the Warp were heard in the vicinity of the great Warp rift, voices that spoke directly to the Primarch as well, which were the voices of the Chaos entities within the Immaterium. It would be in the Cadia System that Lorgar would learn that his suspicions had been correct and that the shape of all of the religions across the galaxy that possessed so many similarities to the Colchisian Old Faith were not artefacts of Mankind's collective unconsciousness, but expressions of worship in the universal truth that was Chaos.
The decision was made to hold orbit over Cadia and for the 1301st Fleet's elements to make planetfall on the unknown world, designated as 1301-12. The landing force was comprised of Imperial Army, Word Bearers, Legio Custodes and Legio Cybernetica elements. The landing party, led by Lorgar, was greeted by a large number of barbaric human tribes, tribes described as "dressed in rags and wielding spears tipped by flint blades...yet they showed little fear."
Most notable were the barbarians' purple eyes, which reflected the colour of the Eye of Terror itself in the spectrum of visible light. Despite the Custodian Vendatha's protests and request to execute the heathens, the Word Bearers approached the natives. A strange woman emerged from the crowd and addressed the Primarch directly, calling him Lorgar Aurelian and welcoming him to Cadia.
This woman, the Chaos priestess Ingethel, would ultimately lead the Primarch down a path of spiritual enlightenment that actually marked the beginning of Lorgar's fall to heresy and Chaos. Later, the Priestess Ingethel of Cadia would initiate a ritual that would see her transformed into the Daemon Prince known as Ingethel the Ascended, and then lead the 1,301st Fleet's scout vessel Orfeo's Lament into the Eye of Terror.
Within the Eye of Terror, the Serrated Sun Chapter of the Word Bearers Legion witnessed the failure of the ancient Aeldari Empire first hand in the form of the Crone Worlds that had been scoured of all life that littered the Eye's region of space. Ingethel, of course, lied to the Word Bearers about how the Chaos God Slaanesh had truly been born and warned that the Aeldari had failed as a species and suffered the Fall because at the moment of their ascension they were unable to accept the Primordial Truth, i.e. worship Chaos.
They gave birth to a god of pleasure, yet they had felt no joy at her coming. Their new god, Slaanesh, had awoken to consciousness in the 29th Millennium to find its worshippers abandoning it out of ignorance and fear, and from the Prince of Pleasure's grief was born the endless storm of the Great Eye (the Eye of Terror), an echo of the birth-screams of the Aeldari's new and rejected god.
The nature of the Primordial Truth was revealed to the Word Bearers in the ashes of the Eldar empire, and Ingethel warned them that in order for humanity as a species to survive they must not commit the same sins the Eldar did, and must instead accept the worship of Chaos.
The surviving Space Marines of the Word Bearers' Serrated Sun Chapter eventually returned to Cadia and related to Lorgar all that had happened and all that they had learned within the Eye, the place where mortals and gods could meet. These Astartes had been forever changed by their experience, for they had all become fusions of mortal and daemon while within the Eye, and came to form a new unit of the Word Bearers known as the Gal Vorbak.
Following the visits into the Eye of Terror, Lorgar ordered a Cyclonic Torpedo bombardment of Cadia, wiping out the Cadians and leaving the planet abandoned so that no others could stumble upon the secret of the Primordial Truth that had been entrusted to him alone by the Chaos Gods.
However, the planet's extremely strategic location meant that it would prove useful to the Imperium and in the 32nd Millennium Imperial colonists were dispatched to resettle the world, becoming the ancestors of the present-day population of Cadians.
Perhaps as a result of the Eye of Terror's proximity this later population of Cadians also soon developed the unusual violet-coloured eyes that had marked the first human inhabitants of the planet.
But Lorgar's enlightenment was not yet done. Having heard the report of what the Astartes of the World Bearers' Chapter of the Serrated Sun had experienced within the Eye, Lorgar was determined to meet with the Gods of the Primordial Truth himself. Forty-three Terran years before the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V, Lorgar took flight on a Stormbird gunship into the Eye and stepped onto the surface of the Crone World of Shanriatha located within what would one day become known as the Eye of Terror.
He was accompanied in his search by his daemonic guide Ingethel the Ascended. The creature inquired why the Primarch had chosen this world to investigate. Lorgar replied that he had seen the ruins from orbit, a city drowned in the rust red dust plains that reminded him of the surface of Mars. The Primarch wanted to known what kind of creature Ingethel was, to which the Daemon Prince replied that Lorgar knew what she was.
But to Lorgar's psychically attuned eyes, he could see nothing in the core of the creature's being -- a creature incarnated without a soul. Ingethel explained, in the realm of flesh, sentient life was born ensouled. In the realm of raw thought, the Immaterium, all life was soulless. Both were alive -- the Born and the Neverborn, on both sides of reality -- and were destined for symbiosis and union if the Chaos Gods had their way.
The world that they now stood upon in the Eye of Terror was where the realm of flesh and spirit met. Physical laws meant nothing there. There was no limit on what might be. That was the true nature of Chaos -- endless possibility.
Ingethel informed Lorgar that he was unique amongst the Anathema's sons, for all of his brothers were whole. Only he was lost, for his brothers had mastered their gifts since birth. Lorgar's own mastery would only come with understanding, but when it did he would have the strength to reshape entire worlds on a whim.
Lorgar then inquired as to what was the name of the world that they now stood upon. Ingethel informed him that the "soulbroken" (the Aeldari) called it "Ycressa" before the Fall. After the birth of Slaanesh, it was named "Shanriatha," which in the Aeldari Lexicon meant, "never forgotten."
Ingethel explained to Lorgar the reason the Aeldari were called the "soulbroken" amongst the servants of Chaos had to do with the birth of the Lord of Pleasure. In her genesis, brought about by the Aeldari's worship, she claimed the spirits of the entire race.
When any mortal dies, its spirit drifts into the Warp. But when the Aeldari die, they are pulled right into the maw of the goddess they betrayed. She thirsts for them, for they are her children. She drinks their souls into herself as they die.
Lorgar commented that what Ingethel mentioned matched the teachings of the Old Faith of Colchis, for it was said that upon death, the unshackled souls drifted into the Infinite, to be judged by thirsting gods. Ingethel replied that the Primordial Truth was deeply embedded in humanity's blood.
All of Mankind knew innately that something awaited them after death. The faithful, the loyal, would be judged kindly and reside in their gods' demesnes within the Realm of Chaos, while the faithless, the unbelievers, would drift throughout the Aether, serving as prey for the Neverborn. Though the Immaterium represented the Heaven promised in most human faiths across history, it was also the same Hell humanity had always feared.
As the daemon guide and the Primarch moved on with their exploration they came upon vast ruins. These ruins were not the remains of a city, but the remnants of Craftworld Zu'lasa, which had attempted to flee the birth of Slaanesh, but escaped too late and fell from the void to bury itself in the world's lifeless dust.
Two hundred thousand souls within the Craftworld had died at the moment of Slaanesh's birth. Unguided, with madness rampant in its own living Infinity Circuit core as the Prince of Pleasure devoured its souls, the Craftworld had fallen.
Investigating further, Lorgar sensed something within the ruins. As he inspected the ruins of the massive spacecraft with his psychic probing, he felt something stir beneath, burrowing upward. Something broke the surface, in what first appeared to the shocked Primarch as the statue of a dying god that dragged itself from a grave of scarlet soil.
Ingethel informed Lorgar that it was an Avatar of Kaela Mensha Khaine, the former war god of the Aeldari. Ingethel wanted Lorgar to understand the abject lesson -- that even a divine being could fall.
Almost pitying the pathetic creature, Lorgar strode forth and raised his Crozius mace and then struck the creature, ending its painful existence. Lorgar then demanded to know what the future held. The daemon informed the Primarch that it would end as it had begun -- in war. Undaunted, Lorgar ordered the daemon to show him.
The Urizen found himself suddenly transported before the Eternity Gate located within the Emperor's Imperial Palace on Terra. This was the ultimate barrier that was the portal to the Emperor's innermost sanctum, where the Emperor kept his personal genetic laboratory sealed away from his sons and servants. Ingethel refused to explain how they had been transported through space and time to appear there. Some truths could not be contained by the mortal mind. She instructed Lorgar to look upon his surroundings with an immortal's sight.
Shocked by the sudden revelation, Lorgar was granted a vision of the Siege of Terra. The Primarch was surrounded by thousands of phantasmal Astartes fighting and dying at his feet. Foremost in the thick of the fighting were the yellow-armoured Astartes of Rogal Dorn's Imperial Fists Legion. They fought fiercely against an entire Legion unknown to Lorgar, clad in cardinal red.
Lorgar finally recognised the crimson-clad Astartes for who they were -- his own Word Bearers, their slate-grey battle plate replaced by Power Armour the colour of fresh blood! Ingethel informed the Primarch that he was correct. The Legion's old colours had been cast aside to herald the changes taking hold of humanity. They were no longer the Bearers of the Emperor's Word. They were the Bearers of Lorgar's.
Lorgar continued to look on, witnessing a larger-then-normal Astartes transform in the midst of battle into a gargantuan daemon-possessed Astartes. In this daemonic form, it appeared quite powerful and was significantly larger and taller than the Primarch. The vision showed the daemonically-possessed Astartes going on a bloody rampage through the ranks of an Imperial Fists squad before finally dying at the hands of the Primarch Sanguinius at the threshold of the Eternity Gate. In disbelief, Ingethel informed Lorgar that this champion was none other than his most blessed son, Argel Tal, and that this was how he would die.
Skeins of Fate
As Lorgar attempted to step forward he suddenly found himself upon a nameless world. He had seen all that needed to be seen. Enraged, Lorgar tired of being led around by the nose into the daemon's prepared lessons. Ingethel warned the Primarch to watch his tone when addressing one of the Gods' Chosen. Lorgar replied that he was only there by his own choice and that he would leave there by the same virtue.
Calming himself, Lorgar knew that he was there to learn the truth of the gods and that Ingethel was there to show it to him. He wanted to know why he had been summoned there and why he had been shaped since birth to be brought to this place. Ingethel replied that Lorgar had been summoned because his life had been engineered to ensure this moment happened. He was here, now, because the gods wished it.
In the tangled skeins of time's web, Ingethel had seen innumerable possible futures where Lorgar had never come to them. But Lorgar wanted to known why was he brought there. Why not his brother Horus or Guilliman? They were the generals that he would never be. Why not Sanguinius or Rogal Dorn? Why not Magnus? Especially Magnus, for he was the most powerful of all the Primarchs, without a shadow of a doubt.
Ingethel replied that the Crimson King was already a servant of the Chaos Gods, whether he admitted it or not. He came to the Ruinous Powers without needing to be summoned, and without ever considering the notion of faith. He came for power, because that was why all things of flesh came to the powers of Chaos. And in five short solar decades, when the galaxy began to burn, Magnus would come to the Eye of Terror himself. With this revelation, Ingethel revealed one final vision, more than forty Terran years in the future.
With a gesture, Lorgar found himself staring at an uneven skyline that he knew instantly, for he had studied there for almost a solar decade, living among its people and coming to adore them as almost as much as he loved the people of Colchis. He was in the silver city of Tizca, the capital of the Thousand Sons' homeworld of Prospero. Upon further inspection, Lorgar saw the utter devastation; cracked spires, broken pyramids, shattered glass and fallen city walls turned into so much rubble.
Lorgar inquired as to the cause of the madness that he beheld. Ingethel informed the Primarch that Tizca would burn in the crucible of the coming war, for it must come to pass. Lorgar swore that he would not allow it, but Ingethel warned him that it must. For this was to be the final incident in Magnus' illumination -- betrayed by the Emperor, by his own brothers, he would bring his city to the Warp in order to escape final destruction. Within the Eye of Terror, he would forge a bastion for the war to come. A war Lorgar would begin, but never lead. The war to bring all the truths of Chaos to the Imperium.
Lorgar had come to find the gods. He had found them, as they had always intended. Their eyes were now turned towards Mankind. The Chaos Gods had said to Argel Tal, as they now said to Lorgar; Humanity must embrace the truths of divine reality, or suffer the same fate as the Aeldari.
With resolute clarity Lorgar realised that the Chaos Gods sought a symbiosis with life; a conjoining of the Ensouled and the Neverborn in natural harmony. The gods needed humanity, for they could not claim the material realm without them. Their power was strangled when their were none to offer prayers or deeds in worship. This was why the spread of the Emperor's atheistic Imperial Truth presented such a terrible threat to them.
Lorgar felt that the Chaos Gods had chosen poorly. He was pleased and proud to have discerned the Primordial Truth, feeling honoured to be chosen by beings powerful enough to be considered divine by the truest meaning of the word. But he would struggle to bring their light to humanity. He could not win a war against the Living God that sat upon the Terran Throne. Ingethel informed Lorgar that he would strive, and eventually he would succeed. Lorgar retorted that he only possessed 100,000 warriors, far too few to make planetfall upon Terra and overthrow the Emperor.
Ingethel told Lorgar that in the future he would attract more faithful followers, as he liberated world after world. It was foretold that after he sailed away from the Eye of Terror, his Legion would no longer spend years crafting perfect words venerating the Anathema as the God-Emperor. He would crush resistance beneath his armoured boots, and draw fresh, faithful humans into his service. Some would be slaves in the bowels of the Word Bearers' warships. Others would be Lorgar's flock, to shepherd them toward enlightenment. Many more would be taken into the ranks of the Word Bearers and bred into new Astartes.
Uneasy with these revealed truths, Lorgar asked again why he had been chosen as the gods' champion. Ingethel replied that it had to be him. Each of the other Legions would die for their Primarchs, and lay down their lives for the Imperium. But the Imperium was the cancer killing the human species. Even when some of Lorgar's brothers turned against the Emperor, they would fight to command the Imperium. Only the Word Bearers would selflessly die for the truth, and for humanity itself. Faith and steel must now be joined. If humanity became an empire instead of a species, it would fall to alien claws and the wrath of the Chaos Gods. It was the way of things. What had happened before to the Aeldari would happen again.
Lorgar then found himself more than forty standard years in the future, mere solar days after something humanity would come to call the Fall of Prospero. Magnus had fallen victim to his own arrogance, and now resided in the tallest tower of his broken city on a new world prepared for him within the Eye of Terror by the Changer of Ways, lamenting the destruction of his Legion and the death of his hopes. He intended only the best, but his curiosity saw him damned in the eyes of the Emperor.
He looked too deep, too long, into ideals the Emperor did not hold. Lorgar informed Ingethel that he would speak to the Crimson King. But the daemon warned the Primarch that he would not be allowed to stand before Magnus. Heedless of his guide's warnings, Lorgar made his way towards Magnus' tower. As the Urizen ascended to the top of the tower and finally looked upon his brother, Lorgar reconciled logic with emotion, for though he looked upon the face of Magnus -- the face of Magnus was solar decades older. In forty years, the Crimson King had aged more like a hundred.
Magnus was not surprised by his brother's presence, for the world in which he now resided held endless surprises. He wondered what incarnated hallucination he was addressing this time. Magnus thought his fellow Primarch was a poor simulacrum of the true Lorgar, for his eyes did not burn with the fire of faith only he and his sons understood. Nor did he bear the same scars. Lorgar tried to explain to Magnus that he was no mere apparition, for he was truly his brother on the final night of his Pilgrimage. Growing weary of the encounter, Magnus banished Lorgar from his new realm with a thought.
Trial of the Gods
Next, Lorgar once again found himself on Shanriatha. When he picked himself up from the sand he saw that his daemonic guide Ingethel appeared to be dying. The daemon had used its already diminishing strength to rescue Lorgar from the sorcery of Magnus. Lorgar wanted to know why his brother would not speak with him.
Ingethel informed him that Magnus was a tool of Tzeentch, the Changer of the Ways. Magnus was a creature of his own ignorance, manipulated at every turn, yet he believed that he was the manipulator. Some of humanity's leaders could be lured to the service of the Chaos Gods by offers of ambition and dominance, while others like Magnus had to be manipulated until they were ready to witness and accept the truth.
Lorgar inquired as to which kind of leader he was. Ingethel told the Primarch that he was the chosen of the pantheon, for he alone had come to Chaos out of idealism, for the betterment of his species. In this, as in all things, he was selfless.
Convinced by the daemon's prescient vision, Lorgar demanded to know his fate in the true war for Mankind's future yet to come. Ingethel told Lorgar that once the betrayal broke across the galaxy, there were countless moments in which he might meet his end. Some were likelier than others. The daemon warned Lorgar that no being may know its future written out before it; yet, on a world named Shrike, if Lorgar interceded in an argument between Magnus the Red and Leman Russ, there was a concordance of possibility that he would be slain in their duel.
If he ever drew a weapon against his brother Corax, in a battle he could never win, than he would almost certainly die.
Pushing aside information about choices he would not have to make for many years, Lorgar asked why they had returned to the dead world. The dying Ingethel explained that she did not intend for it to be so, for the daemon had used up the last of its power dragging Lorgar from Magnus' chamber with crude force, not guile. It was not her intention to show this world again.
Something else had returned them there. Something powerful. It appeared one of the Chaos Gods desired to test Lorgar's worthiness to serve as the mortal champion of Chaos. Ingethel chided Lorgar for believing that the chosen of the pantheon might be allowed to leave the Realm of the Gods without first passing their test. It had been decided that the Chaos Gods would collectively choose one representative to pass judgment upon the Primarch's worthiness to serve them.
Yet the Chaos Gods were ultimately fickle beings and one of the gods broke the agreement that all four had made, wishing to test Lorgar against one of his own servants instead. With a bestial roar, An'ggrath the Unbound materialised. The Blood God Khorne had violated the temporary accord the Chaos Gods had forged concerning Lorgar and sent forth the mightiest of his Bloodthirsters, the Guardian of the Skull Throne, to test Lorgar's mettle. With no choice, Lorgar was forced to defend himself and duel the mighty creature, and he eventually proved himself the victor, though he was sorely wounded during the duel.
Collapsing in the aftermath of his stunning victory, the Primarch struggled to stay alive, breathing blood-wet air into weak lungs. He then heard a single voice and then another, similar to the first, but somehow flawed. Lorgar looked up at the sudden appearance of another winged figure -- a grotesque avian creature with withered wings and two vulture's heads.
The creature informed Lorgar that it was the representative of all the Chaos Gods that had been sent to judge the Primarch. The avian creature identified itself as Kairos Fateweaver, the Oracle of Tzeentch. The Lord of Change had come to bring the chance for a final choice: Lorgar could have personal glory or divine destiny. This moment of truth would come many solar decades in the future, during the infamous Battle of Calth. It would be there that Lorgar had to make the most momentous decision of his life: to fight his brother Roboute Guilliman, where he would succeed in killing him and by doing so, achieve a sense of satisfaction and the respect of his brother Primarchs.
Yet by doing so he would also lose the coming war against the Emperor. However, if he chose to turn his back on personal glory and let Guilliman live, he would taste bitter defeat in his personal quest for the destruction of Guilliman and his XIII Legion that had so insulted the Word Bearers on Khur. But the chance for him to succeed in the illumination of humanity would be greater.
The Primarch had to choose whether he would stand amongst his brothers as an equal, with vengeance as his goal, or work in the name of the Chaos Gods, tasting shame in return for a far greater victory. While Fateweaver's two heads normally made two predictions, one being the truth and the other a lie, in this one instance the Greater Daemon explained that both of his heads had told the truth. Leaving the bemused Primarch with this perplexing conundrum, Fateweaver then disappeared back into the Aether.
Left alone once more with the dying Ingethel, Lorgar demanded to know how much of what he had seen was true. The daemon replied, "All of it. Or none. Or perhaps something in between." The daemon had shown him what the Chaos Gods demanded that he bear witness to, now he wanted Ingethel to show him what he wished to see. Ingethel agreed, for it was permitted.
Lorgar had seen what he must do to ensure victory. He had seen the fate of the galaxy if the Emperor's lies were not challenged. Now, the Primarch wished to walk other worlds in the Eye of Terror. If this was the gateway to the Heaven and Hell of human myth, he wanted to be shown more of it. Lorgar wished to see the possibilities in these mutable worlds, to be shown what the Warp could offer humanity, if they conceded to the merging of flesh and spirit.
Ingethel replied that she could do all of this. But Lorgar had one final wish before he returned to the Imperium, for there was one last thing he must see over any other -- the answer to the question of what would happen if the Forces of Chaos lost the coming war with the Imperium.
The Primordial Truth
This "truth" changed Lorgar and the Word Bearers forever as they were exposed to the Ruinous Powers of Chaos and slowly corrupted, the first of the Legiones Astartes to worship the Chaos Gods and become Traitors to the Emperor in their hearts. Lorgar and the Word Bearers spent the remaining years of the Great Crusade attempting to enlighten humanity about the true spiritual nature of Creation, ultimately resorting to manipulation and deception to sway nine of the Primarchs to the cause of Chaos as their Gods demanded, the most notable being the Warmaster Horus.
When it became clear that Mankind could not be enlightened by Chaos without first being forcibly weaned at a great price in blood from the Emperor's false Imperial Truth, Lorgar willingly helped orchestrate the terrible Istvaan III Atrocity and the Drop Site Massacre at Istvaan V as well as the larger Horus Heresy itself.
When Horus openly declared his rebellion against the Emperor, the Word Bearers were one of the first Legions to support him and his cause. The worlds they had conquered since their conversion to Chaos also joined the side of the Traitors, having been secretly corrupted to the worship of the Ruinous Powers in the final days of the Great Crusade.
It was the Castigation of Khur that ultimately turned the Word Bearers to the service of Chaos. Whilst Lorgar brooded over the Emperor's reproach, Kor Phaeron, his trusted lieutenant and closest friend, whispered to Lorgar of the great Chaos Gods: beings that welcomed, even demanded zealous worship and devotion, unlike the Emperor, who clearly was not divine if he refused to accept rightful worship.
Lorgar was slowly poisoned against the Emperor by Kor Phaeron, who was appointed Master of the Faith, and was tasked with converting the entire Legion to the worship of Chaos. The Word Bearers came to venerate the Gods of Chaos, but instead of throwing their support to one God, they worshipped Chaos Undivided, a pantheon composing the four Ruinous Powers.
It was Lorgar and the Word Bearers who ultimately converted the Warmaster Horus to the worship of Chaos, by introducing his Legion, the Luna Wolves, to the warrior lodges which were picked up from the world of Davin. Later, in a plot involving the Word Bearer Chaplain Erebus, Horus was manipulated to return to Davin, where he could be wounded, and in that poisoned state prove more malleable to corruption by the Chaos Gods.
The Legion kept their new devotion secret, until the Warmaster Horus declared his own faith in Chaos, and began the galactic civil war known as the Horus Heresy. The Word Bearers quickly joined the rebellion, and many of the worlds they had conquered since their conversion turned as well, having been corrupted by the Word Bearers to their new faith in Chaos during their conquest.
The majority of the Word Bearers Legion was ordered by Horus to see to the entanglement and possible destruction of the Ultramarines Legion, so that their vast forces could not be brought to bear against Horus' march on Terra. This was a task the Word Bearers took up with joy, for even as he chastised the Word Bearers for their faith, the Ultramarines had become the favoured Legion of the Emperor. The assault on Ultramar was led by Kor Phaeron, who swore to utterly destroy the Ultramarines. The Word Bearers ambushed the Ultramarines at the world of Calth, an attack which eventually turned to defeat when reinforcements from the Ultramarines homeworld of Macragge arrived, and the Word Bearers were routed from the system.
The rest of the Word Bearers were led by Lorgar to Terra, where Horus and his forces were repulsed and ultimately defeated after a fifty-five day siege of the Imperial Palace. The Legion took refuge within the Eye of Terror and the Maelstrom, vast wounds in space where the Immaterium leaked into reality, coming to rest on the daemon world of Sicarus.
The Istvaan III Atrocity
Before Horus openly launched his rebellion to overthrow the Emperor, an opportunity presented itself that would enable him to get rid of the Loyalist elements within the Astartes Legions under his command. The Imperial Planetary Governor of Istvaan III, Vardus Praal, had been corrupted by the Chaos God Slaanesh whose cultists had long been active on the world even before it had been conquered by the Imperium.
Praal had declared his independence from the Imperium, and had begun to practice forbidden Slaaneshi sorcery, so the Council of Terra charged Horus with the retaking of that world, primarily its capital, the Choral City. This order merely furthered Horus' plan to overthrow the Emperor.
Although the four Legions under his direct command -- the Sons of Horus, World Eaters, Death Guard and the Emperor's Children -- had already turned Traitor and pledged themselves to Chaos, there were still some Loyalist elements within each of these Legions that approximated one-third of each force; many of these warriors were Terran-born Space Marines who had been directly recruited into the Astartes Legions by the Emperor Himself before being reunited with their Primarchs during the Great Crusade.
Horus, under the guise of putting down the rebellion against Imperial Compliance on the world of Istvaan III, amassed his troops in the Istvaan System. Horus had a plan by which he would destroy all of the remaining Loyalist elements of the Legions under his command.
After a lengthy bombardment of Istvaan III, Horus despatched all of the known Loyalist Astartes down to the planet, under the pretence of bringing it back into the Imperial fold. At the moment of victory and the capture of the Choral City, the planetary capital of Istvaan III, these Astartes were betrayed when a cascade of terrible Virus Bombs fell onto the world, launched by the Warmaster's orbiting fleet.
The Loyalist Captain Saul Tarvitz of the Emperor's Children, however, was aboard the Strike Cruiser Andronius and had discovered the plot to wipe out the Loyalist Astartes of the Traitor Legions. He was able, with help from Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro of the Death Guard who was in command of the Death Guard Frigate Eisenstein, to reach the surface of Istvaan III despite pursuit and warn the Loyalist Space Marines he could find of all four Legions of their impending doom. Those that heard or passed on Tarvitz's warning took shelter before the virus-bombs struck.
The civilian population of Istvaan III received no such protection: 12 billion people died almost at once as the lethal flesh-dissolving virus called the Life-Eater carried by the bombs infected every living thing on the planet. The psychic shock of so many deaths at one time shrieked through the Warp, briefly obscuring even the glowing beacon of the Astronomican. The Primarch of the World Eaters, Angron, realising that the virus-bombs had not been fully effective at eliminating all the Loyalists, flew into a rage and hurled himself at the planet at the head of 50 companies of World Eaters Traitor Marines.
Discarding tactics and strategy, the World Eaters Traitors worked themselves into a frenzy of mindless butchery fed by their growing allegiance to the Blood God Khorne. Horus was furious with Angron for delaying his plans, but Horus sought to turn the delay into a victory and was obliged to reinforce Angron with troops from the Sons of Horus, the Death Guard, and the Emperor's Children.
Fortunately, a contingent of Loyalists led by Battle-Captain Garro escaped Istvaan III aboard the damaged Imperial Frigate Eisenstein and fled to Terra to warn the Emperor that Horus had turned Traitor. On Istvaan III, the remaining Loyalists, under the command of Captains Tarvitz, Garviel Loken and Tarik Torgaddon, another Loyalist member of the Sons of Horus, fought bravely against their own traitorous brethren.
Yet, despite some early successes that delayed Horus' plans for three full months while the battle on Istvaan III played out, their cause was ultimately doomed by their lack of air support and Titan firepower. During the battle, the Sons of Horus Captains Ezekyle Abaddon and Horus Aximand were sent to confront their former Mournival brothers, Loken and Torgaddon. Horus Aximand beheaded Torgaddon, but Abaddon failed to kill Loken when the building they were in collapsed. Loken somehow survived and witnessed the final orbital bombardment of Istvaan III that ended the Loyalists' desperate defence.
The few remaining Loyalists of the Emperor's Children Legion fought bravely on Istvaan III, led by Captains Saul Tarvitz and Solomon Demeter. To prove his worth and loyalty to Lord Commander Eidolon of the Emperor's Children -- and thus to his Primarch, Fulgrim -- Captain Lucius of the 13th Company of the Emperor's Children, the future Champion of Slaanesh known as Lucius the Eternal, turned against the Loyalists that he had fought beside because of his prior friendship with Saul Tarvitz.
He wanted to punish Tarvitz for taking command of the defence, which had incited Lucius' fierce jealousy of his fellow captain. Lucius slew many of his former comrades personally, an act for which he was then accepted back into the III Legion on the side of the Traitors.
In the end, the Loyalists retreated to their last bastion of defence, only a few hundred of their number remaining. Finally, tired of the conflict, Horus ordered his men to withdraw, and then had the remains of the Choral City bombarded into dust for a final time from orbit.
Drop Site Massacre
The Istvaan System's third world, comfortably close enough to the sun to support human life, was now a virus-soaked mass grave marking the anger of Horus Lupercal. The world’s population was nothing more than contaminated ash scattered over lifeless continents, while the bones of their cities remained as blackened smears of burnt stone – a civilisation reduced to memory in a single day. The orbital bombardment from the Warmaster’s fleet, payloads of incendiary shells and virus-laden biological warfare pods, had seemingly spared nothing and no one anywhere in the world. Istvaan III lingered now in silent orbit around its sun, almost grand in the extent of its absolute devastation, serving as the scarred tombstone for the death of an empire.
Ringing Istvaan V was one of the largest fleets ever gathered in the history of the human species. Without a doubt, it was the most impressive coalition of Astartes vessels, with the scouts, cruisers, destroyers and command ships of seven entire Legions. With a precision that required mass calculation, the fleets of seven Astartes Legions hung in the skies above Istvaan V. Shuttles and gunships ferried between the heaviest cruisers, while the decks of every warship made ready to deploy their warriors in an unprecedented, unified planetfall. Horus, traitorous son of the Emperor, was making his stand on the surface. The Imperium of Man had sent seven Legions to kill its wayward scion, little knowing four of them had already spat on their oaths of allegiance to the Throneworld.
Aboard the Fidelitas Lex, Lorgar's flagship played host to a gathering of rare significance. There were commanders from the Night Lords, Alpha Legion, Iron Warriors as well as three additional Primarchs; Night Haunter, Alpharius Omegon and Perturabo. Lorgar strode to the centre of the gathering of Traitors. He then proceeded to impress upon the gathering of his sons, brothers and cousin Astartes of the importance of their cause, and of the significance this day would hold in history.
The Word Bearers and their allies believed that the Imperium had failed them by being flawed to its core, imperfect in its pursuit of a perfect culture, and in its weakness against the encroachment of xenos breeds that sought to twist humanity to alien ends. And it had failed them, most of all, by being founded upon lies. The Imperium was forged by a dangerous deceit, and had eroded them all by demanding they sacrifice truth on the altar of necessity. This was an empire, propagated by sin, that deserved to die.
And here, on Istvaan V, they would begin the purge. From the ashes would rise the new kingdom of Mankind: an Imperium of justice, faith and enlightenment. An Imperium heralded, commanded and protected by the avatars of the gods themselves. An empire strong enough to stand through a future of blood and fire.
The Emperor believed them loyal. Their four Legions were ordered to Istvaan V on His misguided conviction alone. But their coalition here and now was the fruit of decades' worth of planning. It was ordained, and brought about according to ancient prophecy. There would be no more hiding in the shadows. No more manipulating fleet movements and falsifying expeditionary data.
From this day forward, the Alpha Legion, the Word Bearers, the Iron Warriors and the Night Lords would stand together -- bloodied but unbowed beneath the flag of Warmaster Horus, the second Emperor. The true Emperor. First Captain Sevatar of the Night Lords Legion uttered, "Death to the False Emperor," becoming the first living soul to utter the words that would echo through the millennia from the throats of countless Heretic Astartes. The curse was taken up by other voices, and soon it was being cried in full-throated roars. "Death to the False Emperor! Death to the False Emperor! Death! Death! Death!"
Thousands of Drop Pods and Stormbirds were deployed for the initial assault. The first wave was under the overall command of the Primarch Ferrus Manus and besides his own X Legion, the Salamanders led by Vulkan, and the Raven Guard under the command of their Primarch Corax joined him. Vulkan's Legion assaulted the left flank of the Traitors' battle line while Ferrus Manus, the Iron Hands' First Captain Gabriel Santor, and 10 full companies of elite Morlocks Terminators charged straight into the centre of the enemy lines. Meanwhile, Corax's Legion hit the right flank of the enemy's position. The odds were considered equal; 30,000 Traitor Marines against 40,000 Loyalists. Horus was aware of the location of the Loyalists' chosen drop site and his troops fell upon the Loyalist Legions.
The battlefield of Istvaan V was a slaughterhouse of epic proportions. Treacherous warriors twisted by hatred fought their former brothers-in-arms in a conflict unparalleled in its bitterness. The mighty Titan war engines of the Machine God walked the planet's surface and death followed in their wake. The blood of heroes and traitors flowed in rivers, and the hooded Hereteks Adepts of the Dark Mechanicum unleashed perversions of ancient technology stolen from the Auretian Technocracy to wreak bloody havoc amongst the Loyalists. All across the Urgall Depression, hundreds died with every passing second, the promise of inevitable death a pall of darkness that hung over every warrior. The Traitor forces held, but their line was bending beneath the fury of the first Loyalist assault. It would take only the smallest twists of fate for it to break. The forces on the surface had been embattled for almost three hours with no clear victor. The Loyalists waited for the second wave of 'allies' to make planetfall, believing they would be reinforced for their final advance. The Traitors all knew their parts to play in this performance. They were all aware of the blood that had to be shed to spare their species from destruction at the hands of the False Emperor, and install Horus as the new Master of Mankind.
Though the Iron Hands, Raven Guard and Salamanders had managed to make a full combat drop and secured the drop site, known as the Urgall Depression, they did so at a heavy cost. Overwhelmed with rage, the headstrong Ferrus Manus disregarded the counsel of his brothers Corax and Vulkan and hurled himself against the fleeing rebels, seeking to bring Fulgrim to personal combat. His veteran troops -- comprising the majority of the X Legion's Terminators and Dreadnoughts -- followed. What had begun as a massed strike against the Traitors’ position was rapidly turning into one of the largest engagements of the entire Great Crusade. All told, over 60,000 Astartes warriors clashed on the dusky plains of Isstvan V. For all the wrong reasons, this battle was soon to go down in the annals of Imperial history as one of the most epic confrontations ever fought.
The Urgall Depression was churned to ruination beneath the boots and tank treads of countless thousands of Astartes warriors and their Legion’s armour divisions. The loyal primarchs could be found where the fighting was thickest: Corax of the Raven Guard, borne aloft on black wings bound to a fire-breathing flight pack; Lord Ferrus of the Iron Hands at the heart of the battlefield, his silver hands crushing any traitors that came within reach, while he pursued and dragged back those who sought to withdraw; and lastly, Vulkan of the Salamanders, armoured in overlapping artificer plating, thunder clapping from his warhammer as it pounded into yielding armour, shattering it like porcelain.
The traitorous primarchs slew in mirror image to their brothers: Angron of the World Eaters hewing with wild abandon as he raked his chainblades left and right, barely cognizant of who fell before him; Fulgrim of the lamentably-named Emperor’s Children, laughing as he deflected the clumsy sweeps of Iron Hands warriors, never stopping in his graceful movements for even a moment; Mortarion of the Death Guard, in disgusting echo of ancient Terran myth, harvesting life with each reaving sweep of his scythe.
And Horus, Warmaster of the Imperium, the brightest star and greatest of the Emperor’s sons. He stood watching the destruction while his Legions took to the field, their liege lord content in his fortress rising from the far edge of the ravine. Shielded and unseen by his brothers still waging war in the Emperor’s name. At last, above this maelstrom of grinding ceramite, booming tank cannons and chattering Bolters -- the gunships, Drop Pods and assault landers of the second wave burned through the atmosphere on screaming thrusters. The sky fell dark with the weak sun eclipsed by ten thousand avian shadows, and the cheering roar sent up by the loyalists was loud enough to shake the air itself. The traitors, the bloodied and battered Legions loyal to Horus, fell into a fighting withdrawal without hesitation.
The second wave of "Loyalist" Space Marine Legions descended upon the landing zone on the northern edge of the Urgall Depression. Hundreds of Stormbirds and Thunderhawks roared towards the surface, their armoured hulls gleaming as the power of another four Astartes Legions arrived on Istvaan V. Yet the Space Marine Legions of the reserve were no longer loyal to the Emperor, having already secretly sworn themselves to Chaos and the cause of Horus. The Night Lords of Konrad Curze, the Iron Warriors of Perturabo, the Word Bearers of Lorgar Aurelian, and the Alpha Legion of Alpharius represented a force larger than that which had first begun the assault on Istvaan V. The secret Traitor Legions mustered in the landing zone, armed and ready for battle, unbloodied and fresh.
The Iron Warriors had claimed the highest ground, taking the loyalist landing site with all the appearance of reinforcing it through the erection of prefabricated plasteel bunkers. Bulk landers dropped the battlefield architecture: dense metal frames fell from the cargo claws of carrier ships at low altitude, and as the platforms crashed and embedded themselves in the ground, the craftsmen-warriors of the IV Legion worked, affixed, bolted and constructed them into hastily-rising firebases. Turrets rose from their protective housing in the hundreds, while hordes of lobotomised servitors trundled from the holds of Iron Warriors troopships, single-minded in their intent to link with the weapons systems’ interfaces. The Word Bearers bolstered their brother Legions on one flank of the Urgall Depression while the Night Lords took positions on the opposite side. Down the line, past the mounting masses of Iron Warriors battle tanks and assembling Astartes, First Captain Sevatar of the Night Lords and his First Company elite, the Atramentar took up defensive positions. Both the Word Bearers and the Night Lords were to be the anvil, while the Iron Warriors would be the hammer yet to fall. The enemy would stagger back to them, exhausted, clutching empty bolters and broken blades, believing their presence to be a reprieve.
Dragging their wounded and dead behind them, Corax and Vulkan led their forces back to the drop site to regroup and to allow the warriors of their recently arrived brother Primarchs of the second wave a measure of the glory in defeating Horus. Though they voxed hails requesting medical aid and supply, the line of Astartes atop the northern ridge remained grimly silent as the exhausted warriors of the Raven Guard and Salamanders came to within a hundred metres of their allies. It was then that Horus revealed his perfidy and sprung his lethal trap. Inside the black fortress where Horus had made his lair, a lone flare shot skyward, exploding in a hellish red glow that lit the battlefield below. The fire of betrayal roared from the barrels of a thousand guns, as the second wave of Astartes revealed where their true loyalties now lay. The Loyalists' supposed "allies" opened fire upon the Salamanders and Raven Guard, killing hundreds in the fury of the first few moments, hundreds more in the seconds following, as volley after volley of Bolter fire and missiles scythed through their unsuspecting ranks. Even as terrifying carnage was being wreaked upon the Loyalists below, the retreating forces of the Warmaster turned and brought their weapons to bear on the enemy warriors within their midst. Hundreds of World Eaters, Sons of Horus and the Death Guard fell upon the veteran companies of the Iron Hands, and though the warriors of the X Legion continued to fight gallantly, they were hopelessly outnumbered and would soon be hacked to pieces. The Iron Hands had damned themselves by remaining in the field.
The Raven Guard front ranks went down as if scythed, harvested in a spilling line of detonating bolter shells, shattered armour and puffs of bloody mist. Black-armoured Astartes tumbled to their hands and knees, only to be cut down by the sustained volley, finishing those who fell beneath the initial storm of head- and chest-shots. Seconds after the first chatter of bolters, beams of achingly bright laser fire slashed from behind the Word Bearers as the Lascannon mounts of Land Raiders, Predators and defensive bastion turrets gouged through the Raven Guard and the ground they stood upon. The Iron Warriors and Word Bearers kept reloading, opening fire again, hurling grenades and prepared to fall back. The Word Bearers Legion had taken up landing positions on the west of the field, ready to sweep down and engage the Raven Guard from the flank. Three figures stood atop the roof of an ornate command tank, the Land Raider's bronze and grey armour decked out with flapping banners and etched with fingernail-fine scripture over every visible surface. Kor Phaeron, Master of the Faith, watched the distant dropsite through a desperate squint. Erebus stood at his side..
Lorgar towered above both of them, but had no attention to spare for the treacherous opening salvoes against the warriors of the Raven Guard and Salamanders Legions. He stared into the battlefield’s heart, his eyes wide even in the wind, his lips gently parted as he watched his brothers killing each other. Fulgrim and Ferrus, the fading sunlight flaring from the edges of their swinging weapons. The wind stole the clash and clang of their parries, but even in silence the duel was beyond captivating. No senses but a Primarch's could have followed such instant, liquid movements. The perfection of it all almost brought a smile to Lorgar's lips. As the Primarch watched his two brothers engaged in their furious duel, he recalled a time, long ago when Ferrus had presented him a weapon he had forged. He had crafted the fine crozius-maul, Illuminarum, as thanks for the reinforcement of the X Legion at Galadon Secondus. Snapping back to reality, the seed of doubt krept into Lorgar as he played witness to the slaughter around him. But with the prodding and reassurance of his adopted father Kor Phaeron, Lorgar ordered his Word Bearers to attack.
The Raven and the Urizen Clash
Amidst the carnage and the slaughter, the anger of a demigod was released -- beyond anger, beyond rage. It went beyond both, for it was wrath, in physical form. Lord Corax, Primarch of the Raven Guard charged into the ranks of the Traitorous Word Bearers, a blur of charcoal armour and black blades, butchering with an ease that belied his ferocity. Soon the voices of dying Word Bearers became a conflicting chorus over the Vox as they screamed for help. Argel Tal, the Crimson Lord and leader of the daemon-possessed Astartes known as the Gal Vorbak, Lorgar's "Blessed Sons," leapt forward to meet their end at the hands of a demi-god.
Meanwhile, Lorgar mirrored his brother Primarch's actions, and slaughtered enemy Astartes with contemptuous ease. Just as the Word Bearers struggled to stand before Corax, so too did the Raven Guard fall back and die in droves. Suddenly, the Urizen halted his attack. He noticed that Corax was wading through the Gal Vorbak, ripping his daemon-possessed crimson warriors apart. Given a blessed respite from the Primarch’s murderous advance, the Raven Guard were falling back from him in a black tide. They left their dead in a carpet at the primarch’s feet.
Despite the protestations of both Kor Phaeron and Erebus, Lorgar disregarded their counsel and sprinted forwards across the churned earth and dead bodies of his brother's Legion to engage in a battle he had no hope of winning. He saw his brother – a man he had barely spoken to in two centuries of life, a man he barely knew – butchering his sons in a vicious rage. There was no thought of conversion. No hope of bringing Corax into the fold, or enlightening him enough to cease this murderous rampage. Lorgar’s own anger rose to the fore, burning away the passionless killing of only moments ago. As the Word Bearers primarch hammered his way through the Raven Guard to reach his brother, he felt power seethe within him, aching to rise out. Always, Lorgar had bitten back his psychic potential, hiding it and hating it in equal measure. It was unreliable, erratic, unstable and painful. It was never the gift it seemed to be for Magnus, and thus, he had swallowed it back, walling it up behind unyielding resolve. No more. A scream of release tore itself free, not from his mouth, but his mind. It echoed across the battlefield. It echoed into the void. Energy sparked from his armour, and a sixth sense unrestrained at last, with its purity perhaps coloured by Chaos, exhaled from his core. Lorgar felt the heat of his own fury made manifest. He felt his unchained power reaching out, not only to enhance his physical form, but reaching to his sons across the battlefield. And there he stood at the heart of the killing fields, winged and haloed by amorphous contrails of psychic fire, shouting his brother’s name into the storm. Corax answered with a shriek of his own – the call of the betrayer, the cry of the betrayed – and the raven met the heretic in a clash of Crozius and claw.
In response, the Gal Vobak underwent their final metamorphosis, changing into their true Daemonic forms. Their ceramite armour had fused to flesh, layered by dense bone ridges and spines, as they sprouted all manner of razor sharp claws, talons and wings. They warped into new, bestial forms, marking them out as amongst the first Possessed Chaos Space Marines. Meanwhile, the Primarchs fought in furious combat -- Corax fighting to kill, while Lorgar fought to stay alive. During their duel, Corax hurled insults and accusations at his former brother. He wanted to known why Lorgar and his Legion had committed such treachery? Lorgar shared with his brother of the future visions he had seen of their father -- a bloodless corpse, enthroned upon a throne of gold and screaming into the void forever. Angered by his brother's lies, Corax lashed out furiously with his pair of Lightning Claws across Lorgar's face, cutting the meat of his cheeks deeply. Even should Lorgar somehow manage to escape his ultimate fate this day, he would bear these scars until the day he died.
The two Primarchs traded vicious blows, but the Raven Lord had the advantage not only speed and finesse, but of also being a penultimate warrior with decades of fighting experience. Lorgar did not, for he had always been more of a scholar than a warrior, and his lack of experience cost him dearly as Corax impaled Lorgar through his stomach, the tips of his metre-long talons glinting to the side of his spine as they thrust out his back. Such a blow meant little to a primarch -- only when Corax heaved upwards did Lorgar stagger. The claws bit and cut, sawing through the Word Bearer’s body. Illuminarum slipped from the impaled primarch’s fists. Those same hands wrapped around Corax’s throat even as the Raven Lord was carving his brother in half. Even as he tightened his grip on Corax's throat, the Raven Lord remained untroubled by his weaker brother's grip. Lorgar crashed his forehead against Corax’s face, shattering his brother’s nose, but still he couldn’t free himself. The Raven Lord gave no ground, even as a second, third and fourth head butt decimated his delicate features. The claws jerked, snagged against Lorgar’s enhanced bones. Corax tore them free, inflicting more damage than the first impaling had done. Blood hissed and popped as it evaporated on the force-fielded blades. Lorgar fell to his knees, hands clutched over the ruination of his stomach. As Corax stepped closer, he raised his one functioning claw to execute his brother. Lorgar screamed his defiance at Corax, lost in the irony that of all the sons of the Emperor, he was the one soul in twenty who'd never wished to be a soldier. And now here he would die, at the heart of a battlefield. As the claw fell, it struck opposing metal.
Corax looked to meet eyes as black as his, in a face as pale as his own. His claw strained against a mirroring weapon, both sets of blades scraping as they ground against each other. One claw seeking to fall and kill, the other unyielding in its rising defence. Where the Raven Guard primarch’s features were fierce with effort, the other face wore a grin. It was a smile both taut and mirthless – a dead man’s smile, once his lips surrendered to rigor mortis. It was Curze. Corax sought to wrench his claw free, but Curze’s second gauntlet closed on his brother’s wrist, so that Corax would be unable to fly away and escape his fate. Curze looked upon his prostrate brother and ordered him to rise from his knees, disgusted at his cowardice. Corax was not idle as this exchange took place. He fired his flight pack, burning his fuel reserves to escape Curze’s grip. The Raven Lord’s claw ripped free, and Corax soared skyward, carried on jet thrust away from Curze’s rising laughter. Curze then shoved Lorgar back towards his Word Bearers.
Around them both, the grey Legion warred with the warriors in black. Lorgar thanked his brother for saving his life. But Curze warned him that he would let him die next time. As bit out another retort, his words halted as he took in the scene of the transformed Gal Vorbak -- their armour was crimson and ridged bone. Great claws, both metallic weapons and fleshy, jointed talons, extended from bestial arms. Every helm was horned and every faceplate was split by a daemon's skullish leer. Disgusted by this horrific sight, Curze turned his back on Lorgar and commented that he was so much more than merely foul, he was rancid with corruption. Though grievously wounded, Lorgar would live. The traitors had carried the day and dealt the Emperor and the Imperium a grievous blow. As the Horus Heresy began in earnest, Horus now possessed nine Space Marine Legions and had all but destroyed three of the remaining nine Loyalist ones. The path to Terra was now wide open, and the decisive Siege of Terra and the assault on the Imperial Palace would follow after seven more Terran years of blood and terror as the Traitor Legions penetrated to the very heart of the Imperium of Man.
Four solar days after the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V, Horus Lupercal assembled those Primarchs who stood in opposition to the Imperium aboard his flagship, the Vengeful Spirit. They all knew the costs of the coming campaign, and their destinies within it. The Traitor fleets were underway. But after the "unpleasantness" of Istvaan, this was the first time they had gathered as a full fraternity. Eight Primarchs were present, though only half of them were physically in the room where the gathering took place. This included Fulgrim, Perturabo, Angron and Lorgar Aurelian. The absent four were nothing more than holographic projections: three of them -- Konrad Curze, Mortarion and Alpharius -- manifested around the table in the forms of flickering grey hololithic simulacra. The fourth of them appeared as a brighter image comprised of the silver radiance of brilliant witchfire. This last image was of Magnus the Red, who projected himself from afar by sorcerous means, from the Sorcerer's Planet where he was still licking his wounds from the recent Burning of Prospero by Leman Russ' Space Wolves.
As soon as Lorgar had taken his seat at the council table he could not take his eyes off his brother Fulgrim. The Warmaster grew ever more weary of his brother's inability to adhere to established planning and his lack of attention to the important gathering. Before the meeting could properly get underway, Lorgar slowly reached for the ornate Crozius mace on his back. As he drew the weapon in the company of his closest kin, his eyes remained locked on one of them, and all physically present felt the deepening chill of psychic frost riming along their armour. The Word Bearer Primarch accused the thing that mimicked his brother in physical appearance as not being who he purported to be. Before anyone could react, Lorgar's Crozius mace struck the supposed Emperor's Children Primarch. Fulgrim crashed into the back wall, his prostrate form crumpled to the ground. Turning his fierce eyes upon his other brothers he declared that this pretender was not Fulgrim. The other Primarchs that were present, advanced upon the changeling, drawing their own weapons. The Warmaster tried to placate the enraged Lorgar, his merest threat of a confrontation had usually been enough to quell Lorgar from any rash actions in the past. But as they faced Aurelian now, even Horus was wide-eyed in the changes wrought within him since Istvaan V. Clutching his mace in his crimson coloured gauntlets, defying his brothers, he warned them to stay back.
When Horus once again attempted to calm the enraged Primarch, Lorgar was surprised at the sudden realisation that the Warmaster already knew that Fulgrim was not whom he pretended to be. The Warmaster informed his fellow Primarchs that he would personally deal with the situation and dismissed them all from his chambers, with the exception of Lorgar. The Word Bearers Primarch could see the truth -- this creature was one of the daemons of Chaos -- as whatever was wearing his brother's skin and armour had its soul hollowed out. Something nestled within, puppeteering the soulless body of their own brother. What Lorgar couldn't understand was how this had come to pass and why did Horus continue to protect such a dark secret? Horus explained to his brother that he had not orchestrated Fulgrim's demise; he was merely containing the aftermath.
Lorgar was perturbed that another sentience now rode within Fulgrim's body. Horus was annoyed at his brother's line of questioning, for Lorgar and Fulgrim had never been close. Why did it matter to him? Lorgar explained that it mattered because this vile intrusion was a perversion of the natural order. There was no harmony in such a joining. Not like his own blessed daemon-possessed sons, the Gal Vorbak. A living soul had been annihilated for its mortal shell to simply house a greedy, unborn wretch of a daemon. During Lorgar's Pilgrimage to the Eye of Terror years earlier, he had walked in the Warp itself. He had stood where the gods and mortals met. Lorgar knew this form of possession was weakness and corruption -- a perversion of what the Chaos Gods wished for Mankind. The Ruinous Powers wanted allies and willing followers, not soulless husks ridden by their daemons.
Using his powerful psychic abilities, Lorgar held the daemon at bay. The Warmaster cautioned that he was killing Fulgrim, but Lorgar replied that it was not their brother, but an "it" - - one that he could destroy if he so wished it. Lorgar threatened the daemon that he would learn its true name and banish it back into the Warp. The Daemon-Fulgrim was helpless against Lorgar's formidable psychic abilities. As the Warmaster attempted to restrain his brother by placing his hand on Lorgar's shoulder, the Primarch psychically commanded Horus to remove his hand. Unable to resist, Horus obeyed. His fingers shivered as they withdrew, and his grey eyes flickered with tension. As the enraged Lorgar strode away from the council chambers, Horus commented that his brother had changed since crossing blades with Corax on the surface of Istvaan V. Lorgar replied that everything had changed that night. He then took his leave and returned to his ship to contemplate what he perceived as utter foulness.
Crimson King and the Urizen
Aboard Lorgar's flagship, Fidelitas Lex, the Primarch was visited by a projected phantasm of his brother Magnus the Red composed of silver witchfire. The Red Cyclops wished to discuss some urgent matters in private. The Thousand Sons Primarch was trying to gauge his brother's reactions in light of recent events as well as the skeins of fate that all seemed to intertwine and converge towards Lorgar, who stood at their nexus. Lorgar explained that he had seen the truth on the very Pilgrimage his brother had demanded that he never make. And after Istvaan V, a veil had been lifted from his eyes. There was no longer any need to hold back, for if they restrained themselves, they would lose the war, and humanity would lose its only chance at enlightenment. The Crimson King cautioned Lorgar against the careless and blatant use of his psychic abilities in such a primitive and brutal manner, for he was inviting the presence of dangerous warp entities into his midst. Lorgar brushed off his brother's advice and retorted that his opinion on the matter was moot, since he had delved too deeply in the powers of the Immaterium and brought down the wrath of the Wolves upon his homeworld. He was now a lord of a traitorous Legion that had been damned in the eyes of their brother Legions and only stood on the side of the Warmaster because they were now exiles.
Curious about references to his Legion, Magnus attempted to subtly probe his brother's mind, but was strongly rebuffed and warned by Lorgar never to seek to pry into his thoughts again. Magnus was astounded at Lorgar's powerful new abilities. Lorgar revealed to Magnus that since his abilities had grown more powerful, he had been able to delve deeply in the skeins of fate, both past and future. He forewarned Magnus that his Legion was not free of the 'flesh-change' his Legion had once so-feared. Lorgar warned him to beware those amongst his sons that failed to embrace it as the gift that it was. The Crimson King then decided to change the subject and began speaking of their brother Fulgrim and the terrible fate that had befallen him.
Lorgar then chastised his brother Magnus for not telling him the truth five solar decades earlier and for trying to keep him from taking the Pilgrimage where he finally discovered the truth about the Primordial Annihilator and the other things he had discovered about the true reality of the Warp since then. Magnus claimed he had only done this to protect Lorgar from his own self-righteous certainty and arrogance in his beliefs. Lorgar tersely replied that he stood at the right hand of the new Emperor, commanding the second-largest Legion in the Imperium, whilst Magnus was a broken soul, leading a shattered Legion. Perhaps he hadn't been the one that needed protection, or the one whose arrogance lead to his downfall. Magnus could not claim the same, for they both knew the truth, but only one of them had faced it. Lorgar grew angry, calling Magnus a coward for knowing the Primordial Truth yet failing to embrace it. Chaos was only grotesque because they had seen it with mortal eyes, but when they ascended, they would be chosen children of the Gods. Magnus interrupted his brother's diatribe, lashing out angrily with his psychic abilities. The Crimson King had grown weary of Lorgar's petty banter. Magnus challenged his brother, that if he knew the truths behind their reality, then to show him. Tell him what he had seen at the end of his accursed Pilgrimage.
Lorgar informed his brother of everything that occurred many decades ago. The Crimson King knew that what his brother had spoken of was true, but one lingering question remained: would Lorgar face their brother Roboute Guilliman at Calth? The Urizen's response was enigmatic, as he explained to Magnus that although some of his Word Bearers would indeed go to Calth, some would not. He would only reveal his plans to the Red Cyclops when he had committed himself fully to the Warmaster and his cause. Following their private exchange, Lorgar once again attended the Warmaster upon the Vengeful Spirit, this time in the company of Angron, Primarch of the World Eaters. When he inquired to Horus what was to befall their brother 'Fulgrim', the Warmaster brushed off Lorgar's inquiry. Enraged, Lorgar refused to follow Horus's plans for his Legion, instead informing the Warmaster of his intentions to follow a plan he had concocted earlier -- to take the bulk of his Legion to the galactic east, to the realms of Ultramar. The Warmaster informed his brother that they had argued over this proposed plan many times, pointing out that if Lorgar split his forces as planned, they would not have enough Astartes to achieve what he proposed. Lorgar angrily retorted that his apostles were prepared to sail into Ultramar. They had made pacts with divine forces Horus still struggled to comprehend. Daemons of the Warp would answer their summons. The Word Bearers cargo holds heaved with the bodies of faithful mortals, taken from the worlds the XVIIth Legion had conquered for they had not been idle these many years. The Warmaster pointed out that Lorgar needed Legionaries. Lorgar retorted that perhaps Horus should lend him a few of his companies, to accompany him to the east? Horus promised his brother that he would give him more than that. He would give him another Legion.
Lorgar Confronts Fulgrim
Only one last order of business remained. Lorgar traveled down to the surface of Istvaan V to seek out and confront "Fulgrim." When the Daemon-Fulgrim tried to forestall Lorgar, at a signal, his Astartes of the XVIIth Legion teleported aboard forty-nine Emperor's Children vessels, holding their commanders hostage at gunpoint.
Once Lorgar had made his point, he demanded to speak to the Daemon-Fulgrim alone. Following their conversation on the surface, the XVIIth Legion recalled their strike teams via teleportation. Fulgrim and Lorgar teleported from the surface as well.
Once together, the Urizen asked after the fate of his brother Fulgrim and whether or not he was still alive. The Daemon-Fulgrim took Lorgar aboard the IIIrd Legion's flagship Pride of the Emperor. Lorgar was escorted to "La Fenice," the former lounge and theatre of the Remembrancers of the 28th Expeditionary Fleet, where the Emperor's Children had undergone their final apotheosis as true servants of Slaanesh during the performance of the Maraviglia.
Lorgar regarded the devastated theatre. Whatever last performance had taken place there had been one of supreme decadence. Bodies, already gone to rags and bones, slumbered in cadaverous repose across the chairs and aisles. Discarded weapons and broken furniture lay strewn across the scene. Nothing was unmarked by the black stains of old blood.
The Daemon-Fulgrim led Lorgar to the stage and gestured behind a thin, silk curtain revealing an exquisite portrait of the Phoenician. The painting stole Lorgar's breath for a long moment, and he was complicit in his awe, glad to let it do so. Few works of art had moved him as this one did. Fulgrim, triumphant in this rendering, wore his most ostentatious suit of armour, as much Imperial gold as IIIrd Legion purple.
He stood before the immense Phoenix Gate leading into the Heliopolis chamber on board his flagship, a vision of gold against even richer gold. At his shoulders, reaching out in angelic symmetry, the great fiery pinions of a phoenix cast burning light against his armour, lighting the gold to flame-touched platinum and enriching the purple to a deep tyrian hue.
The Daemon-Fulgrim indicated the painting and explained that he had upheld his end of the bargain, for Lorgar had now seen his wayward brother. Thinking himself being mocked, Lorgar reached for his Crozius, threatening violence. The daemon-Fulgrim told the Word Bearers Primarch to look closer at the painting and he would see the truth.
This time, Lorgar let his eyes slip across the image, seeking no details, merely drifting until they rested where they chose. He met the image's soulfully-rendered eyes, and at last, Lorgar breathed through the faintest of smiles and greeted his brother. The daemon asked if Lorgar now saw the truth. Lorgar replied that he saw more than the daemon realised.
Facing his brother's captor he informed the Neverborn that if he thought to relish all of eternity while playing puppeteer to his brother's body, than he would find himself fatally disappointed one night. The daemon said that the Urizen spoke with the lies of a desperate and foolish soul.
Lorgar merely laughed and smiled at the daemon sincerely, replying that the creature's secret was safe with him and to enjoy his stewardship of Fulgrim's body while it lasted.
Returning to the Fidelitas Lex, Lorgar convened the Council of Sanctity to speak once more of his plans for Calth. Then in the hours that followed, he summoned Argel Tal and his most trusted subcommanders, to speak of other, more secretive plans. For Lorgar's most trusted son, like him, had other wars to fight even as the Calth System burned.
Battle of Calth
When the Warmaster Horus turned his back on the Imperium, swore his allegiance to the Ruinous Powers of Chaos, and began the Horus Heresy, his first act before making his break with the Emperor of Mankind open was to lure away as many Loyalist Legions from Terra as possible. Horus ordered Guilliman to lead an expeditionary force to the world of Calth in the Veridian System in the Realm of Ultramar to prepare for a campaign in the Eastern Fringes of the galaxy, where, Horus claimed, an Ork WAAAGH! was massing. Horus expected the Ultramarines to await the arrival of the Word Bearers who would join with the XIII Legion in prosecuting a camapign against the Ork menace. Unknown to Guilliman, XVII Legion had long before turned Traitor in service to the Chaos Gods, and its Primarch, Lorgar, gleefully accepted Horus' orders to close the trap on his Legion's long-hated rivals. Lorgar ordered his two most trusted advisors, First Chaplain Erebus and the Dark Apostle Kor Phaeron, to unleash their wrath against the Realm of Ultramar. This was done in retaliation for the humilation the XVII Legion had been forced to endure by being forced to kneel in disgrace before the Emperor and Roboute Guilliman and his Ultramarines on the world of Khur by the XIII Legion at the Emperor's orders during the Great Crusade.
The Word Bearers' sudden attack decimated Guilliman's Legion fleet, and the Ultramarines' ground troops quickly found themselves impossibly outnumbered by their former allies as the infamous Battle of Calth erupted. The Word Bearers slew their Loyalist foes in droves in the early stages of their surprise attack and pushed them back over huge stretches of territory. The Traitors rejoiced at the terrible blows they were inflicting upon the Legion that had once aided the Emperor in humiliating them upon the world of Khur decades before the start of the Heresy when they had been taken to task for repeated violations of the atheistic philosophy known as the Imperial Truth. Unknown to them, Guilliman's flagship, which had survived the initial Word Bearers' attack on the Ultramarines fleet, effected emergency repairs and regrouped with the other surviving Ultramarine starships in space. Having taken stock of his remaining forces, Guilliman sent an immediate astropathic distress call to Macragge.
The Loyalist Marines on Calth, Ultramarines all, had been forced into a fighting retreat, but soon occupied fortified positions. Many Ultramarines had been born on Calth, and proved more resolute than the Word Bearers anticipated. In space, Guilliman's vessels began hit-and-run attacks on their over-confident enemy. Guilliman assessed his ground troops' positions and broadcast clear, concise orders to each pocket of defence, coordinating them into a cohesive force. One Ultramarine force led by Captain Ventanus led a breakout and retook Calth's Defence Laser silos, aiding the sorely-pressed Ultramarines fleet from the surface of Calth. Guilliman's depleted forces slowed the Word Bearers down long enough for the remainder of the Ultramarines Legion to arrive and rout the Traitor Marines from the system, though at a heavy cost. The Word Bearers turned Calth's own orbital defence platforms on the Veridian star, stripping away the outer layers of its photosphere and destabilising it, ultimately rendering the surface of Calth uninhabitable.
At the same time, the Word Bearers had used the battle taking place on Calth to summon a massive Warp Storm called the Ruinstorm, that was intended to cut off Ultramar from the rest of the galaxy and prevent the Ultramarines from providing any reinforcements to Terra as Horus made his assault upon humanity's homeworld. The eruption of the Ruinstorm cut off Calth from the main body of the Ultramarines Legion and left the Astartes of the XIII Legion trapped on Calth locked in a brutal subterranean war with those Word Bearers units that had also been left behind when their Legion retreated from the Veridian System. Yet Roboute Guilliman and a large portion of his Legion had remained off-world as a result of the Word Bearers' devious assault upon the Ultramarines fleet. Bloodied but unbowed, the Ultramarines received the orders of Malcador the Sigillite, the Emperor's Regent, while he was indisposed pursuing the secret Imperial Webway Project, and prepared to meet the needs of the Imperium's defence against the Traitor Legions as best they could.
Cull of the Word Bearers
Unknown to Erebus and Kor Phaeron, their Primarch had also had a secret objective in mind when he had sent his two most zealous sons to Calth. After their humiliation at Khur, thousands of World Bearers within the Legion detested the Ultramarines. The Urizen ordered a great gathering of his Legion while their fleet was already en route to Calth. The Primarch called for Argel Tal, the leader of the Gal Vorbak, and one other Word Bearer officer who would eventually become commanders and apostles amongst the elite Vakrah Jal. The Primarch wanted their counsel on what to do with those amongst their Legion he no longer trusted. The Word Bearers had culled their ranks down through the decades, removing such unrepentantly Loyalist elements such as the Terran-born warriors of their Legion, but had carried out no purge like the Istvaan III Atrocity that Angron was so proud of. Lorgar knew that the loyalty of his own Legion to both him and his vision of Mankind transformed through an embrace of Chaos was never in doubt, but competence was another matter entirely. Lorgar asked what should be done with those warriors of the XVII Legion he felt were no longer reliable. Those whose hatred burned brighter than their sense. For tens of thousands of them -- whole companies, whole Chapters -- their rage was no longer pure. It was decided that these suspect elements of the Legion would be gathered into a single host and ordered to undertake the "sacred" mission to Calth to assault the Ultramarines that they had so craved. They were led by Erebus and Kor Phaeron and were expected to martyr themselves in glory. The other Traitor Legions such as the Emperor's Children, Sons of Horus and the World Eaters might have purged their own ranks at Istvaan III, but the Word Bearers had proceeded to purge their own at Calth.
Though the XVII Legion had achieved a monumental victory of sorts, 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 Ruinstorm at Calth. But ultimately, Erebus and Kor Phaeron had failed to achieve their overall objectives: Roboute Guilliman was still alive, the Word Bearers had lost half the fleet at Calth to an Ultramarines counter-attack, and tens of thousands of Word Beaers, including the Gal Vorbak and mortal servants, had been abandoned to a useless subterranean war beneath Calth's irradiated surface while the two Word Bearers commanders had fled. This meant that the Word Bearers left behind were left to die, never to be reinforced. Never to be recovered. All those Gal Vorbak who had spent months of their lives fasting, praying, scarring their flesh in preparation for a chance to taste the Divine Blood, they had simply been lost for no real gain. Though Lorgar was somewhat displeased, Erebus had more or less achieved the base level of success required of him; the Ruinstorm had been conjured and the rogue elements of the Word Bearers had been culled. Now it was time for Lorgar to further his own plans and complete the campaign against the Ultramarines he had come to call his Shadow Crusade.
Simultaneous with the Word Bearers' assault on Calth, Lorgar and the more reliable Word Bearers under his command launched a second offensive, a joint Shadow Crusade with his brother Angron's World Eaters Legion into the rest of the Realm of Ultramar, laying waste to the Five Hundred Worlds with reckless abandon, slaughtering twenty-six worlds in rapid succession. This was to ensure the success of the sorcerous Ruinstorm, which would ultimately split the void asunder, dividing the galaxy in two and rendering vast tracts of the Imperium impassable for centuries, effectively cutting Ultramar off from the rest of the Imperium. This prodigious Warp Storm would deny needed reinforcements to the Loyalists as Horus drove on Terra in an attempt to overthrow the Emperor of Mankind. Nothing from Terra would get in and nothing would get out. Not even an astropathic whisper would be able to pierce this storm of Warp energy bleeding into realspace.
During this campaign of destruction, Lorgar had come to realise that over the course of their Shadow Crusade, Angron's temperament and mental stability had steadily grown worse. His cybernetic neural-implants known as the Butcher's Nails were killing him faster than Lorgar had originally imagined, faster than anyone realised. The rate of degeneration had accelerated very quickly in the months after the Battle of Calth. The implants had never been designed for the peculiar genetics of a Primarch's brain. Angron's physiology was trying to heal the damage produced by the implants as the Nails bit deeper. To save his life, Lorgar convinced the Lord of the World Eaters to go back to his homeworld of Nuceria. The overlords of the gladiatorial games on that world who had first hammered the foul device into Angron's skull would know more of the implant's function than the Traitor Legion's savants and the Dark Mechanicum. The two Primarchs would learn all that was known about the Nucerians' insidious cortical implant technology, and then they would burn that loathsome world until its surface was nothing but glass. Angron would finally take the vengeance he pretended to no longer desire. Whether Angron fought him, hated him or trusted him, mattered little to Lorgar, who intended to drag Angron into the immortality that he deserved before the Dark Gods whether he wanted it or not.
Guilliman's retribution fleet, which had been tracking the rest of the Word Bearers Legion in the wake of the Battle of Calth, finally caught up to the Traitors upon Angron's homeworld of Nuceria, which the World Eaters Legion were preoccupied with wiping clean of all life in vengeance for the treatment the Nucerians had merited out a century before to Angron. The XIII Legion warship Courage Above All, Guilliman's temporary flagship, broke Warp at the system’s edge, at the head of a large void armada consisting of 41 vessels. The Ultramarines armada looked wounded, cobbled together from separate fleets. It was not a dedicated interdiction war-fleet, but clearly a ragtag strike force, a lance thrust to the enemy’s heart. Guilliman himself had done the best he could with limited resources. The XIII Legion's Cruisers and Battleships ran abeam of the enemy fleet for repeated exchange of broadsides, offering targets too big and powerful to ignore, while the rest of the Ultramarines fleet used calculated Lance strikes from safer range. The armada then divided its assault potential, doing its utmost to destroy Lorgar's flagship Fidelitas Lex, and attempted to take the World Eaters' flagship Conqueror in a boarding action.
But the Ultramarines' warships not only fought a void war, they also attempted to take the fight to the surface of Nuceria, for this attack was personal. The Ultramarines had come for revenge against Lorgar and the Word Bearers, just as they had pursued Kor Phaeron all the way to the Maelstrom on the other side of Ultramar. Several Ultramarines warships attempted to make a run on Nuceria, haemorrhaging Drop Pods, landers and gunships, forcing planetfall by any means necessary. The Ultramarines fleet swept over and against the Traitors like an insect horde. But the tenacious commander of the Conqueror, Lotara Sarrin, put up a difficult fight and destroyed a number of Ultramarines vessels that attempted to make a run for the surface. Though the World Eaters' flagship transformed a number of the smaller vessels into flaming wreckage, the Ultramarines eventually punched through her tenacious defence and managed to land troops on the surface of Nuceria.
Meanwhile, the Fidelitas Lex was already a ruin, its armour pitted and cracked, its shields a memory. The cathedrals and spinal fortresses barnacling along its back were gone, laid waste by the Ultramarines’ incendiary rage. The XIII Legion's armada attacked in strafing runs and protracted exchanges of broadsides, trading fire with the superior warship and accepting their own casualties as the cost of bleeding the bigger vessel dry. Each assault left the Lex weaker, firing fewer turrets and cannons, taking punishment on its increasingly fragile armour. But she fought on. Crawling with smaller ships, the Lex lashed back with its remaining Macrocannons, rolling in the light of its own burning hull. Guilliman guided the battle from the command deck of Courage Above All, and had decided that the Lex would die first, killed in the death of a thousand cuts and swept from the game board, while the Conqueror would be boarded and killed from within. In the course of the battle in Nucerian orbit, the Conqueror could not rise to its sister-ship’s defence. Both Traitor Legion flagships fought alone, starved of support and suffering the endless attacks of the XIII Legion’s ragged armada. Salvation Pods streamed from the Lex’s sides and underbelly, along with heavier Mechanicum craft and bulk landers. With the Legionaries of the Word Bearers already on the surface, the ship’s human population fled in the vessel’s final minutes. And still the great vessel fought -- rolling, turning, raging. The Ultramarines Cruisers that drifted past burned as badly as the warship they were killing. This void battle was a form of dirty fighting between warships, too close for the neat calculations of ranged battery fire. Instead, it was an up close and personal slugfest.
The Ultramarines Battle Barge Armsman intercepted the Conqueror and came abeam, launching Assault Carriers and Boarding Torpedoes. While the World Eaters flagship was busy repelling boarders, a number of smaller XIII Legion vessels slipped past her defences and launched Drop Pods, gunships and troop carriers. The first Drop Pods hammered home on the planet's surface. Sealed doors unlocked and the first Ultramarines poured forth, Bolters raised, moving in perfect and well-trained unity. But the World Eaters were waiting for them. Those not lost to the Butcher's Nails at once had the presence of mind to note that these Ultramarines weren not the pristine cobalt-blue warriors they had previously faced on the War World of Armatura. These Legionaries of the XIII wore cracked Power Armour, still scarred and burnwashed from some horrendous battle weeks or months before. These were hardened veterans of the Calth Atrocity. They burned with a cold intensity to carry out the vengeance in their hearts, and were intent on getting to grips with the Word Bearers.
As was their way, the Ultramarines established footholds at defensible positions, clearing room for their reinforcements to land. For every position they held, another was overrun by the World Eaters in a storm of roaring axes, or lost to the Word Bearers' chanting, implacable advance. The XII Legion crashed against the XIII in rabid packs, showing why Imperial forces had feared to fight alongside them for decades. Uncontrolled, unbound, unrestrained, they butchered their way through Ultramarines strongpoints, enslaved to the joy of battle because of the Butcher's Nails cortical implants sandwiched within the meat of their minds. The XVII Legion also met their Loyalist cousins, replacing ferocity with spite and hate. The Ultramarines returned it in kind, hungry for vengeance against the vile Traitors who had defiled Calth and damaged its star. Word Bearers units marched, droning black hymns and chanting sermons from the Book of Lorgar, bearing corpse-strewn icons of befouled metal and bleached bones above their regiments.
As the fighting raged, the burning shell of the Fidelitas Lex cut through the clouds into the planet's atmosphere, shuddering on its way east, rolling ever downwards, achingly slow for something of such scale. The weight of the Lex's massive plasma engines dragged the stern down first, colliding with the Nucerian ocean's surface far from shore. In the meantime, the demigod in gold and blue had finally found the object of his obsession amidst the clamour of war. Guilliman confronted Lorgar, possessing the advantage of two weapons, but Lorgar's Crozius gave him a reach his brother lacked. When they first met, there was no furious trading of frantic blows, nor were there any melodramatic speeches of vengeance avowed. The two Primarchs came together once, Power Fist against War Maul, and backed away from the resulting flare of repelling energy fields. Their warriors killed each other around them both, and neither Primarch spared their sons a glance. Lorgar flicked the clinging lightning from the head of his Crozius, shaking his head in slow denial.
Both Primarchs fought without heeding their warriors, their godlike movements an inconceivable blur to the Space Marines fighting around them. None had ever imagined the heroes of this new age would take the field against each other, nor could they have predicted the wellsprings of spite between them. Guilliman confronted Lorgar for what his Legion had done across the Five Hundred Worlds of Ultramar. In his righteous anger the Ultramarines Primarch struck Lorgar with one of his fists, battering the Word Bearers Primarch's sternum. Lorgar repulsed him with a projected burst of telekinesis, weak and wavering, but enough to send his brother staggering. The Crozius followed, its power field trailing lightning as Lorgar hammered it into the side of Guilliman’s head with the force of a cannonball. Both Primarchs faced each other beneath the grey sky, one bleeding internally, the other with half of his face lost to blood sheeting from a fractured skull.
As the two Primarchs were locked in their furious life-and-death struggle, they were oblivious to the destruction being wrought around them. Suddenly, Angron burst forth from the Ultramarines ranks, his armour a shattered wreck, and both of his Chainswords spat gobbets of ceramite armour plating and scarlet gore. Angron was plastered with the blood of the slain after hours in the crush of the front lines of intense combat. On his chest hung a bandolier of skulls taken from the mass grave at Desh’elika Ridge. Blood painted them as surely as it marked Angron. Even through the constant pain generated by the Butcher's Nails, that pleased him. He wanted his deceased brothers and sisters to taste blood once more. He had carried them with him across Nuceria, letting their empty eyes witness the razing of his former, hated homeworld. The World Eater launched himself at Guilliman with murderous hatred. The two Primarchs fell into a seamless, roaring duel where Lorgar and Guilliman had abandoned theirs. Guilliman found himself forced back by the storm of Angron's blows.
Once on Nuceria, Angron had paid his respects to his fallen brothers and sisters amongst the Nucerian gladiators he had once fought beside, whose bones now lay exposed to the elements on the Desh'elika Ridge where they had died. The painful memories of that day, long ago, were too much for the Primarch to bear. After paying a visit to the city-state of Desh'ea to see who ruled the Nucerian city-state that had once claimed to own him, he became enraged when he was told the tale of how he had fled at the Battle of Desh'elika Ridge, and the subsequent massacre of the rebel army in the mountains. The rebels had died to a man in his absence. Enraged by the lies that had been told about him over the last century, Angron ordered his Legion to kill everyone in the city. Then they were to kill everyone on the planet. At the height of the final battle against the last city on Nuceria, Lorgar was confronted by his wrathful brother Roboute Guilliman, who had been chasing him and the XII Legion since the destruction of Calth. As the two Primarchs fought, Guilliman gravely wounded Lorgar and was about to deliver a killing stroke to his wretched brother. But Angron had seen Guilliman's assault upon Lorgar and intervened, facing the Lord of Ultramar in single combat.
On Angron's chest hung a bandolier of skulls taken from the mass grave at Desh'elika Ridge. Blood painted them as surely as it marked Angron. Even through the haze of pain created by the Butcher's Nails, that pleased him. He wanted his former brothers and sisters, the Eaters of Cities, to taste blood once more. He had carried them with him across Nuceria, letting their empty eyes witness the razing of the high-rider cities. As the two Primarchs fought, Guilliman landed a glancing blow, his fist pounding across Angron's breastplate. One of the skulls of Angron's fallen kinsman that hung from the chain worn across his breastplate was partially shattered and scattered across the ground. Guilliman stepped back, his boot crushing a skull's remnants to powder. Angron saw it, and threw himself at his brother, his howl of wrath defying mortal origins, impossibly ripe in its anguish.
Lorgar saw it, too. The moment Guilliman's boot broke the skull, he felt the Warp boil behind the veil. The Bearer of the Word started chanting in a language never before spoken by any living being, his words in faultless harmony with Angron's cry of torment. Lorgar enacted his dark plan to save his brother's life, summoning the Ruinstorm to the world of Nuceria, tearing the sky open and unleashing a crimson torrent, formed from the ghosts of a hundred murdered worlds, raining blood. Lorgar focused his concentration on the triumphant form of his mutilated brother, calling for the Neverborn, the entities men called daemons, to answer in kind. He locked Angron’s muscles, setting fire to the synapses in his brain. The first spasms wracked their way through Angron’s sinews, turning his blood to quicksilver, then to lava and at last to holy fire. His cries of thwarted rage were tainted by an agony beyond comprehension. His body started tearing itself apart, growing, rising. Perfecting, after a lifetime of broken torture. This was the moment of Angron's apotheosis into daemonhood.
The World Eaters Librarians, those few who had never received the deadly Butcher's Nails implants which were inimicable to psykers, sensed the fey powers summoned by Lorgar from the Warp. In an attempt to halt the Urizen's dark plans, the 19 remaining Librarians harnessed their collective psychic powers to manifest a psychic entity known as the Communion, the gestalt consciousness of 19 psychic minds. In the midst of Lorgar's incantations, the Communion pulled the soul of the Primarch from his body. The two psychic entities confronted one another within the Warp, locked in a deadly contest of wills, each convinced that they were the one responsible for saving Angron. But ultimately, the Communion failed, for Lorgar was just as powerful in the Warp as he was in the material universe. After Angron's completed metamorphosis into a new Daemon Prince, the Daemon Primarch turned his attention to the Librarians. The creatures that had pained him for decades. The warriors that had made the Butcher's Nails sing and his brain bleed just for the sin of standing near them. Now they moved against his brother, hurling their foulness at Lorgar, who crouched one-handed and wounded, down on his knees.
The Daemon Primarch's rage killed the remaining Libarians, each of them tasting a different doom. Angron killed the last of the Librarians, expunging his Legion of the weakness that had plagued his gene-sons since his reunification with them a century earlier. The Librarius of the World Eaters, the last fragment of the War Hounds within the XII Legion, was no more, a fact which greatly pleased the Blood God Khorne, who would not brook the existence of any psykers amongst his chosen servants. Lorgar had offered up the XII Legion to the whims of the Blood God as his loyal servants. Now there would only be blood, an ocean of blood carried on a tide of eternal slaughter.
The gravely wounded Guilliman escaped from Nuceria, unable to face or even fully comprehend what both of his brothers had become through their corruption by the Ruinous Powers. The World Eaters completed their purge of Nuceria until not one human life remained on the benighted world. Angron, now the very embodiment of the Blood God's Eight-Fold Path, shook the dust of the world from his feet and did not think of it again. Lorgar believed that he had "saved" his brother. In his mind it was the only way, for he alone had sought to save Angron from the implants that were killing him by degrees. Only Lorgar had found a way to free Angron from an existence of unrivalled agony, and he alone had acted to save his tormented brother. Now the Shadow Crusade could move on from Ultramar and rejoin Horus. The next target for the Traitors would be Terra itself.
Following the Shadow Crusade, Lorgar began to believe that Horus was too weak to lead the forces of Chaos to victory over the Emperor. He was disgusted by Horus' refusal to submit to the power of the gods, and had foreseen that Horus would ultimately lead the Traitors to defeat. Lorgar became secretly committed to killing Horus and taking his place as the Warmaster of Chaos and the anointed champion of the Dark Gods.
Lorgar made his move following Horus' fall at Beta-Garmon, coming to Horus' flagship the Vengeful Spirit with one of his loyal Astartres, the Dark Apostle Zardu Layak. Though Horus was comatose, he agreed that the Traitors' needed to be assembled at Ullanor in preparation for the final drive on Terra. However, not all of the Traitor Primarchs could be found nor were they all obeying the summons. Thus Lorgar proposed that Perturabo journey to find Angron while he sought out Fulgrim.
Using an oracle disciple of Cyrene Valantion named Actaea as a guide, Lorgar, Layak, and a small force of Word Bearers entered the Webway in search of Fulgrim. They successfully navigated its treacherous corridors to enter the Eye of Terror where they eventually entered the Realm of Chaos and soon found themselves before the Palace of Slaanesh itself. Within they discovered Fulgrim and the daemon N'Kari engaged in debauchery. Fulgrim refused to leave his delights and return to the war effort, forcing the two sides to battle. As Lorgar held off Fulgrim, Zardu Layak uttered the True Name of the newly ascended Emperor's Children Daemon Primarch.
Layak had learned the name during a ritual Lorgar had conducted but due to the total amnesia it would eventually curse the name's bearer with, he had given the information to the Dark Apostle instead. Fulgrim was bound to Layak's will by the name's utterance, and Lorgar now had a powerful pawn with which to slay Horus. After gathering the disparate Emperor's Children together, the two Legions arrived at Ullanor for Horus' muster.
Horus had by this point recovered thanks to the sacrifice of his longtime Equerry Maloghurst, and Lorgar revealed his plan to usurp the Warmaster. After sacrificing large numbers of mortal servants, Lorgar planned to unleash a psychic scream that would disorient Horus, then have Zayak order Fulgrim to attack. The Word Bearers and Emperor's Children orbiting Ullanor would finish off the Sons of Horus Legion, leaving Lorgar in total command of the Traitors' war effort.
However Lorgar's coup quickly fell apart, as Actaea had already warned Horus of Lorgar's planned betrayal. Upon meeting Horus on Ullanor, Lorgar was immediately attacked before he could unleash his psychic assault, and Zardu Layak betrayed Lorgar by freeing Fulgrim from his bindings instead of ordering him to attack.
Lorgar was beaten mercilessly by Horus, who threw him his weapon and demanded he stand and fight. Lorgar refused to fight, and instead expressed pity at the monstrosity Horus had become since his recovery, as Horus had gained an ever-shifting form with a maw of dark Chaos energy at its core.
Horus ordered Lorgar to leave his sight, pledging to kill him if he ever returned. The 5,000 Word Bearers of the Chapter of the Unspeaking under Lorgar's command who had followed their Dark Apostle Zardu Layak in his betrayal of Lorgar would continue to serve Horus and campaign with him on Terra. Lorgar left for destinations unknown, proclaiming that Horus was doomed to failure due to his weakness.
As the Word Bearers battled across the Ultima Segmentum, those of the XVII Legion led by Zardu Layak participated in the Siege of Terra, where Horus and his forces were repulsed and defeated after a fifty-five-solar-day siege. After the death of Horus, the XVII Legion ultimately took refuge within the Warp rifts of the Eye of Terror and the Maelstrom, vast wounds in space where the Immaterium leaked into reality.
After the Heresy
Eventually, the atrocities committed by the Word Bearers led to Lorgar's ascension to daemonhood. He became the equal of a god in the eyes of his Legion as he transformed into a Daemon Primarch in his own right. 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 the Daemon World of Sicarus where he has remained for thousands of Terran 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 (the Word Bearers' equivalent of Space Marine Chaplains).
Unlike many of the other Traitor Legions, the Word Bearers have remained a unified, if loosely organised, military force that has not split into separate warbands all vying against one another for power and control.
The main ruling body of the Word Bearers is still the Dark Council, though the council is dominated by two major factions constantly striving against one another to dominate the Legion's future. One is led by the Dark Apostle and former First Chaplain Erebus, the other by the Keeper of the Faith Kor Phaeron.
From the two primary bases of the Legion, 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.
Lorgar temporarily broke his isolation to aid his Word Bearers against a monstrosity that was hunting them. The creature was eventually revealed to be the Loyalist Primarch Corvus Corax, who had become mutated by the powers of the Warp during his quest for vengeance against the Traitor Primarchs.
Lorgar and Corax engaged in a duel once more, with the Ravenlord dominating the engagement and forcing Lorgar to withdraw through the Warp portal he had arrived in. As the portal between them closed, Corax stated that he now had Lorgar's scent and would hunt him down.
After ten thousand years of seclusion in the Warp, Lorgar is finally rumored to have returned to lead his Legion in the field at the close of the 41st Millennium following the birth of the Great Rift. It is said that he has been seen walking the mortal realms in terrible splendor, preaching the word of Chaos at the head of a massive Word Bearers army.
Sorot Tchure, a Word Bearers' Captain who took part in the Battle of Calth, confided to his friend, Honorius Luciel of the Ultramarines, that Lorgar had been a burden to his own Legion for many Terran years. Though Lorgar was every bit as brilliant and charismatic as the other Primarchs, he could also be moody and mercurial.
Roboute Guilliman echoed this negative assessment, after a brief conversation with Lorgar, when he said, "He is so...changeable. He is so prone to extremes. Eager to please, so quick to take offence. He's so keen to be your best friend, and then, at the slightest hint of an insult, he's angry with you. Furious. Offended. Like a child."
Even after suffering the worst effects of the Word Bearers' treason at Calth, Guilliman said he felt his brother's pain, and believed that Lorgar had been manipulated by forces beyond his control.
However after the Drop Site Massacre and his duel with Corax, it was said by those around him, including Magnus, Horus, and Guilliman, that Lorgar had changed and became a different person. Dubbing himself the "Minister of Chaos Absolute", he became more accepting of the necessity for war and violence.
He began to create his own grand strategems and practice the arts of manipulation. His growing closeness to the Chaos Gods granted him new power to enhance his once subpar combat performance and his psychic mastery of the Warp rapidly outpaced that of Erebus and Kor Phaeron who began to realise they could no longer control him through the use of their emotional manipulations.
Lorgar was bitter over his existence as a Primarch, believing himself to be a soldier bred for nothing but war. As Lorgar had always dedicated himself to exploring the true nature of the universe and building a society that would embody these universal truths, Lorgar never mastered the arts of combat and military strategy like his brothers and even looked down on acts of conquest.
Because of his interest in aspects of human existence beyond warfare, he often found solace with his brother Magnus the Red, whose personality and mindset most closely resembled his own. Much like Magnus, Lorgar ultimately developed his psychic abilities in preference to his purely physical prowess.
Magnus once criticized Lorgar for being "selfless" and later, the emmissary of the Chaos Gods during the Pilgrimage of Lorgar would say he had been chosen by Chaos to serve as its mortal representative because of his capacity for putting aside his own ego in the pursuit of a greater cause.
While most who served the Dark Gods did so for power or other selfish interests, Lorgar entered their service as a true idealist who only wanted the best for Mankind, and believed the future could only be found in an embrace of Chaos.
Lorgar was long considered physically the weakest and least capable in combat of the Primarchs during the Great Crusade. Yet, after he openly revealed his allegiance to Chaos, his strength dramatically improved such that he was able to face Roboute Guilliman as an equal during the Shadow Crusade.
Yet, despite this improvement, Lorgar continued to rely on his growing psychic strength as his most important asset during combat. By the time of the Battle of Calth, he was able to telekinetically vaporise several Space Marines at once with but a glance.
During the Pilgrimage of Lorgar, the Greater Daemon of Tzeentch Kairos Fateweaver, capable of telling the truth from both heads for once in history, foretold that Lorgar could kill his hated foe Guilliman during the Battle of Calth and all the other Primarchs would finally respect him as a great warrior.
However, if he gained the satisfaction of this revenge, the Traitors' rebellion against the Imperium would fail. Kairos also foretold that Lorgar would not survive a battle against his brother Corax.
- The Armour of the Word - Lorgar's battle plate is a customised suit of Artificer Armour based upon the Mark IV Maximus Pattern, incorporating a defensive energy field generator and graven with ancient Colchisian sigils of protection and Lorgar's own words of anathema from the Book of Lorgar.
- Illuminarum - This ornate sceptre-maul was fashioned for Lorgar by the master weaponsmith Ferrus Manus, Primarch of the Iron Hands Legion, in a rare display of filial support. Perfectly balanced for Lorgar's strength and size, it is a formidable weapon and apocryphally seen as the pattern on which the Chaplain's Crozius was later based.
- Archaeotech Pistol - An Archaeotech Pistol is an ancient sidearm dating back to the Dark Age of Technology. This classification of pistol can be found firing a variety of projectiles, be they micro-atomic munitions or searing kill-rays that draw power from a planet's magnetosphere. Archaeotech Pistols were often the sidearms to high-ranking Imperial and Space Marine commanders during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy.
- Frag Grenades- A Frag Grenade is an anti-personnel grenade commonly used by the military forces of the Imperium of Man. It produces a blast of shrapnel that can shred unarmoured troops. The blast has the tactical advantage of forcing the enemy to duck into cover to avoid damage. In effect, the blast of a Frag Grenade neutralises any movement advantage held by an opposing force by pinning them to their position.
- Codex Heretic Astartes - Chaos Space Marines (8th Edition), pg. 40
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 13, 69
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 2nd Edition), pg. 43
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 1st Edition), pg. 38
- Codex: Chaos (2nd Edition), pp. 13, 39, 51
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 89-90
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions
- Index Astartes II, "For the Emperor - Space Marine Chaplains"
- Index Astartes IV, "Dark Apostles - The Word Bearers Space Marine Legion"
- The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pg. 230
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 41, 136, 138-143, 148, 152, 258-261
- The Horus Heresy - Book Five: Tempest (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pg. 16
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (6th Edition)
- White Dwarf 270 (US), "Index Astartes: Dark Apostles"
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (6th Edition)
- False Gods (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Tales of Heresy (Anthology) edited by Nick Kyme and Lindsey Preistley, "Scions of the Storm" by Anthony Reynolds
- A Thousand Sons (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Demski-Bowden
- Aurelian (Novella) by Aaron Demski-Bowden
- Know No Fear (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Betrayer (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Lorgar: Bearer of the Word (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- Sons of the Emperor (Anthology), "Shadow of the Past" by Gav Thorpe
- Slaves to Darkness (Novel) by John French
- Dark Apostle (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds
- Dark Disciple (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds
- Dark Creed (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds, pp. 9, 111, 184-185
|Loyalist Primarchs||Lion El'Jonson • Jaghatai Khan • Leman Russ • Rogal Dorn • Sanguinius • Ferrus Manus • Roboute Guilliman • Vulkan • Corvus Corax • Lost Primarchs|
|Traitor Primarchs||Fulgrim • Perturabo • Konrad Curze • Angron • Mortarion • Magnus the Red • Horus • Lorgar • Alpharius Omegon|