The Lost Primarchs of the First Founding Space Marine Legions are the two primarchs of the II and XI Legions who, for unknown reasons, were deliberately expunged along with their Legions from all known Imperial records and archives before the onset of the Horus Heresy in the early 31st Millennium.
Referred to as "the forgotten and the purged" it is known only that the missing primarchs and their Legions are listed as having been "deleted from Imperial records." This formal censure and erasure from official records is known as an Edict of Obliteration, also called a Damnatio Memoriae, a High Gothic phrase meaning "condemnation of memory."
This is the official Imperial policy of deliberately destroying any records, icons or other symbols or monuments pertaining to an individual or organisation, usually of the Imperial elite, who has been declared Excommunicate Traitoris by the Emperor of Mankind (before He was interred within the Golden Throne), the High Lords of Terra or the Inquisition.
In a galaxy-spanning empire that stresses fealty and loyalty to the Emperor in return for advancement, acclaim and spiritual salvation for its elites, this is perhaps one of the most severe punishments. The complete and utter erasure of all records of the II and XI Legions is considered by Imperial historians as the most successful Edict of Obliteration ever carried out in Imperial history.
A rare record accidentally placed into copies of the Astra Militarum's Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer in the late 41st Millennium recently revealed that the long-lost II and the XI Legions of the ancient Space Marines participated in the campaigns of the Rangdan Xenocides during the Great Crusade in the 860s.M30, though the scope and nature of their involvement remains unrecorded.
Note: The following section is informed but non-canon speculation based on the information provided in the listed sources. The reader is advised to make up their own mind based on the available evidence.
The Lightning Tower
In the short story The Lightning Tower, when the Imperial Fists' Primarch, Rogal Dorn, is in the falls of the Kath Mandau Precinct of the Imperial Palace and comes upon a series of pillars with plinths that contain life-sized statues of all the Space Marine Legions' Primarchs, he notes:
Earlier, less ambiguous sources go so far as to say that information on the Lost Legions and Primarchs was deleted following the Horus Heresy. The only information Games Workshop has ever released on this subject that directly addresses the mystery can be found in the Horus Heresy novels False Gods and The Lightning Tower by Dan Abnett.
This has given way to the theory that the primarch of the II Legion could possibly be the founder of the Blood Ravens Chapter. This theory, however, gives undue importance to the Blood Ravens, because, outside of the Dawn of War PC games, they are in no way a significant Chapter in the Imperium of Man's history.
This theory also does not describe why the Blood Ravens would still be present in the late 41st Millennium -- obviously their forebears had committed some terrible acts of treachery for their records to be completely obliterated, to such an extent that even other Legions present at the time presumably also had any of their own records of the Lost Legions and their Primarchs destroyed or modified.
A Thousand Sons
The First Heretic
Games Workshop has shed a little more light on this subject in the Horus Heresy novel about the Word Bearers called First Heretic. It has been established that these "missing" primarchs were erased from Imperial records at least 43 standard years prior to the events of the Drop Site Massacre that would occur on Istvaan V.
This is because only 18 of the established Space Marine Legions are referenced during the events that occurred at the city of Monarchia on the world of Khur, where the entire Word Bearers Legion and their Primarch Lorgar were formally rebuked by the Emperor of Mankind for their apparent laxity in bringing the atheistic Imperial Truth to newly Compliant human worlds during the Great Crusade.
There was also a long-standing rumour amongst the Legiones Astartes that may explain the ultimate fate of the II and XI Legions. Around the time that both these wayward Legions were expunged from all Imperial records, it was said that the number of the Astartes in the Ultramarines Legion swelled in size until it eclipsed all of the other Legions.
It is not known if this is merely speculation or it is established fact that the II and XI Legions of Space Marines were inducted into other Legions after they were officially expunged from Imperial records. Though interesting, this still does not explain what actually happened to the primarchs of the II and XI Legions:
In the anthology, The Primarchs, in the short story, "Feat of Iron," by Nick Kyme, when the Iron Hands Primarch Ferrus Manus becomes separated from his Legion and lost in subterranean tunnels, he stumbles upon twenty statues of the primarchs (though their faces are covered in masks).
Manus recognises all but two of them. Interestingly, the masks covering the heads of those two were split and almost destroyed.
Fear to Tread
In the novel Fear to Tread by James Swallow, Horus witnesses the Blood Angels primarch, Sanguinius, murdering one of his own Legionaries who had been affected by his Legion's burgeoning genetic curse, later known as the Red Thirst.
Sanguinius confessed to his fellow primarch that he had been aware of the Flaw in his genome for several years, keeping the truth from both the Emperor and his fellow primarchs. But all efforts on his part to find a cure had, thus far, eluded even him.
Horus then inquired of Sanguinius why would he not seek to ask their father (the Emperor) to intervene on his Legion's behalf in order to cure it?
Sanguinius' angry retort to Horus' question implied that one of the Lost Legions might have suffered from a similar malady, and were therefore purged for their genetic impurity -- a fate that he would most definitely want to avoid.
Descent of Angels
In the novel Descent of Angels by Mitchel Scanlon, when Zahariel El'Zurias receives a history of Old Night by Brother-Librarian Israfael, he informs the young initiate that their Primarch Lion El'Jonson has nineteen brothers.
Since this novel takes place on Jonson's homeworld of Caliban in the 840s.M30, this possibly indicates that the Lost Primarchs were not yet removed from official Imperial records at this time.
We are further illuminated on the subject of the fate of these two Legions in the novels Legion and Prospero Burns. In Legion it is mentioned that a Space Marine Legion had gotten in trouble before:
In the novel Prospero Burns the Space Wolves Primarch Leman Russ discusses the inevitable execution of the Thousand Sons for Magnus the Red's performance of an act of maleficarum that drove his sorcery right into the heart of Terra and into the presence of the Emperor.
This had revealed Magnus' own supposed treachery through defiance of the Imperial edicts banning the use of psychic sorcery at the Council of Nikaea. When asked if he was concerned over the fact that the unprecedented was about to take place, namely, Astartes fighting Astartes, Russ commented that this was not an unprecedented event, implying that his Space Wolves had been called on to perform this task once before.
This might be an enigmatic reference to the possible destruction of the II and XI Legions, or it could be reference to the event known as the Night of the Wolf as mentioned in the novel Betrayer.
This was a little-known incident that occurred shortly after the massacre of the entire planetary population of Ghenna by the World Eaters Legion. The Primarch Leman Russ had been charged by the Emperor to take his Space Wolves Legion to Ghenna to bring the World Eaters to heel:
In the novel Prospero Burns, the character Kasper Hawser also states:
This statement implies that the missing II and XI Legions were already gone prior to the Burning of Prospero, and thus, prior to the Horus Heresy.
The Outcast Dead
In the novel The Outcast Dead, the character Evander Gregoras, the Master of the Cryptaesthesians, remarks that because of Magnus' violation of the Emperor's Decree Absolute from the Council of Nikaea for performing an act of maleficarum, the Emperor would have no choice but to make an example of His wayward son and the Thousand Sons Legion:
This statement further vindicates the role of the Space Wolves Legion as the Emperor's chosen executioners -- to enact His will when carrying out censure against a fellow Space Marine Legion.
This revelation indicates that the missing II and XI Legions were already lost and possibly expunged from all Imperial records by the time Corax was reunited with the Emperor on Lycaeus.
This conversation also implies that the Lost Primarchs were more than likely lost in the early years of the Great Crusade in the late 30th Millennium, as the Emperor mentions that most of the other Primarchs had already been discovered by the time he reunited with Corax.
In the novel Vulkan Lives by Nick Kyme, during a conversation between the Salamanders Primarch Vulkan and his Equerry Artellus Numeon on Kharaatan during the Great Crusade, the primarch confesses to his First Captain that he had seen the darkness in the hearts of his brother Konrad Curze, the primarch of the dreaded Night Lords Legion. Numeon questions whether it would be wise to discuss the matter with either Horus or Rogal Dorn, Vulkan replies:
Vulkan's reply infers that the II and XI Legions were sanctioned and purged for some reason.
The Unremembered Empire
In the novel, The Unremembered Empire by Dan Abnett, when Lion El'Jonson arrives upon the Ultramarines' capital world of Ultramar, his brother Roboute Guilliman pulls him aside to speak to him about his plans for an Imperium Secundus.
Located within the Ultramarines' fortress of Macragge Civitas is a chamber with twenty-one chairs, each constructed for the size of a primarch and one for the Emperor Himself. Each chair back is draped with banners, which displays the great seal of each Space Marine Legion. They are lined up at a long table draped with a pennant bearing the seal of Terra.
The Lion takes notice that two of the chairs bear blank pennants that are made of plain, bleached, un-dyed cloth. El'Johnson comments to Guilliman that it is a shame that two of their brothers (the Lost Primarchs) will never be able to come to this chamber, in which Guilliman replies:
Black Library Weekender Volume One
In the short story, Lost Sons by James Swallow, twenty Blood Angels Legionaries stand sentinel over their homeworld of Baal and its surrounding system, anxious for any word about their missing Primarch Sanguinius and the rest of their Legion which had gone missing five standard years earlier during their campaign into the Signus Cluster, by the order of the Warmaster Horus.
They are surprised by the arrival of Tylos Rubio, a former Librarian and now a Knight-Errant of Malcador the Sigillite. He bears a matte-black tube in his hand, the case for a message scroll of photic parchment.
The black scroll is a document of such rare import that it is more legend than eventuality. Twice before in living memory such messages were delivered to the homeworld of a Legiones Astartes.
This infers that both the Lost Primarchs and their respective Legions had their own homeworlds, which also implies that they had received such a message of dire import, most likely declaring their respective Legions Excommunicate Traitoris.
In the audiobook, The Sigillite by Chris Wraight, Malcador, the acting Regent of Terra and one of his covert agents named Caleb, travel to the dungeons located deep beneath the Imperial Palace on Terra.
After passing through many halls which contain relics and artefacts of Mankind's past, they finally pass by a massive door, at which point Malcador stops to dwell upon it for a moment. He informs Caleb that beyond this door was where the original lab for the Primarch Project was located until a separate location was built.
As Caleb approaches the door he noticed that it is covered in symbols, many of which he recognizes as belonging to several of the Space Marine Legions, including the Dark Angels, the Luna Wolves, the Alpha Legion, etc.
But Calab also takes note of two symbols that have been scratched out or had been worn away. When he presses his master for answers, Malcador merely brushes it off and states that no one went into this room anymore, and walked away. These were likely the icons of the missing II and XI Legions.
The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal
In The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal by Alan Bligh, on the inside cover is an ancient galaxy map depicting the burgeoning Imperius Dominatus (ca. 892.005.M31). It lists all the major worlds that are involved in the galaxy-wide conflict that comes to be known as the Horus Heresy. Every known Space Marine Legion homeworld (both Traitor and Loyalist) is shown with its respective location.
However, in the Segmentum Pacificus, there is a location listed as the "Finding of the Lost Son." This could be a reference to the rediscovery of the mysterious Alpharius, as he was the last primarch to be found during the Great Crusade, and his homeworld has never been revealed. Or it could be a veiled reference to the location where one of the Lost Primarchs was found.
There is also a table in this book labeled: "Space Marine Legions extant at the time of the Horus Heresy," which lists the Legion number, name, and Primarch. The listings for the II and XI Legions' Primarchs have been redacted.
Interestingly, the length of the black markings which redacts the II Legion's name is quite long, indicting that it is barely shorter than "Emperor's Children," while the name of the XI Legion is around the same length as the "Thousand Sons."
The name of the II Legion's primarch is quite short and is nearly as long as the Primarch "Alpharius," which suggests only a single name.
The name of the Primarch of the XI Legion is about the same length as "Magnus the Red," which suggests either a first and last name or some sort of title or appellation.
This book goes on to state:
The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre
In The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre by Alan Bligh, there is a chronological timeline entitled: "Chronicles of the Final Years of the Great Crusade," pg. 19, which lists the Date, Event and the Legion that took part. Under entries for the dates, 965.M30 and 969.M30, the events listed say, <ALL DATA REDACTED>, both of which the Space Wolves Legion took part in. Possibly, these two events could be when the Space Wolves were sent to censure the II and XI Legions, as they were known to act on behalf of the Emperor as His "Executioners" as when they were sent to censure the World Eaters.
However, in the novel The First Heretic by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, during a conversation between Lorgar and Magnus the Red that took place a mere seven solar months after the Razing of Monarchia (listed in the same timeline as 964.M40), their conversation infers that the II and XI Legions had been stricken from all official Imperial records for quite some time. If both of these sources are correct, then it provides further evidence that both Legions were still active in some sort of fashion before whatever removed them from Imperial records.
The Horus Heresy - Book Three: Extermination
In the Forge World book The Horus Heresy - Book Three: Extermination by Alan Bligh, pp. 79-80, when it speaks of the creation and early history of the XX Legion (the Alpha Legion), the information is fragmentary and often contradictory.
During the creation of each nascent proto-Legion, each was raised first to active service in a staged process of testing and trials before the full active force was completed through mass recruitment. Each stage of creation would result in an expansion of the gene-seed implantation on progressively larger groups of neophytes. The last of these preliminary stages was, according to sources, the "Alpha" induction.
This was believed to be the first non-experimental implantation, and its purpose was to create a proto-Legion at minimum fighting strength to be field-tested in open battle. If is further stated that at this stage, it is notable that in the case of the [REDACTED] this process failed. This could infer that one of the Lost Legions failed early on due to some genetic deficiency in their gene-seed.
The same source states that there were three outstanding theories as to why the XX Legion was temporarily "side-lined" at the proto-Legion stage (1,000-2,000 Astartes) while their contemporaries underwent rapid expansion and deployment.
The second of these posits that there was suspicion that some hidden problem or potential flaw had been discovered which prevented the proto-Legion's expansion -- although this in many ways seems unlikely; for it is to suggest the Emperor was either unable or unwilling to solve such a problem and equally unwilling to ruthlessly eradicate a failed experiment as he had done before. Perhaps this is a passing reference to one of the Lost Legions -- that they were ruthlessly eradicated after having demonstrated some sort of genetic flaw in their gene-seed.
There are also veiled references, though no outright evidence, to link a proto-Legion to the Emperor's later and eternally sealed gene-craft project to create the Legio Custodes, their involvement in the Labryk Polaris incident or the aborted [REDACTED] experiment which has long been the subject of dark rumour. What this last bit of information infers is not known.
The Horus Heresy - Book Seven: Inferno
In The Horus Heresy - Book Seven: Inferno by Alan Bligh, under the list of the Space Wolves' campaign, "The Darkest War," pg. 81, it makes mention of the Rangdan Xenocides, which took place in the 860s.M30. When the Great Crusade's forces breached the Eastern Fringe of the galaxy, they attracted the attention of the Rangdan Cerabvores, a species of such macabre power and technological might it seemed, for a time at least, that the Imperium had met its doom.
The book goes on to say that the Imperial forces suffered losses that would not be exceeded until the dark days of the Horus Heresy. Whole expeditionary fleets went to their deaths without a single survivor, worlds were laid waste, dozens of Titan Legions were obliterated and by the end, entire Space Marine Legions [REDACTED SECTION] had been lost to the Imperium.
This information, perhaps, infers that possibly that one of the Lost Legions were destroyed during this brutal conflict, though much of the account of this deadly campaign was deliberately redacted and censured from official Imperial records.
The Dark Imperium
In the novel Dark Imperium by Guy Haley, while the resurrected Roboute Guilliman is having a conversation with a Ecclesiarchy priest named Frater Mathiue, he makes a passing reference to the Lost Primarchs:
Though this does not explain the exact fate of the two Lost Primarchs, it does heavily imply that they were deleted from all official Imperial records for their failure(s) for some reason that is other than outright betrayal of the Emperor.
In a later chapter, while Guilliman is having a conversation with an artificial intelligence known as the Cawl Inferior, a facsimile of the ancient Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl that bears the sum knowledge of the ancient tech-priest, it is revealed that Cawl has not only been perfecting the use of the new and improved gene-seed of the Primaris Space Marines descended from the nine Loyalist Legions of the First Founding, but he has also been experimenting with the gene-stocks of the nine Traitor Legions as well.
This also included experiments with the gene-seed of the Lost Primarchs of the II and XI Legions. This confirms that despite their erasure from history, the gene-stocks of both these missing Legions still existed, even as late as the first century of the 42nd Millennium.
When Cawl requested the right to use these questionable gene-stocks to found new Primaris Space Marine Chapters, Guilliman vehemently refused and ordered the Archmagos to halt his research into the use of those dangerous gene-seed stocks. The Cawl Inferior, the Cawl's proxy-machine replies to the enraged Primarch:
This infers that the Primarchs of the lost II and XI Legions were to blame for their respective disappearance from the Imperial record rather than the actions of their Astartes. However, the Cawl Inferior might have been making a reference to the nine Traitor Legion Primarchs rather than the Lost Primarchs.
In The Lightning Tower by Dan Abnett, while constructing the defences of the Imperial Palace on Terra in preparation for the coming attack by the Traitor Legions, Primarch Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists Legion is walking through the Palace and comes across a corridor displaying the statues of all 20 Primarchs. The audiobook states that "an accident befell them" that may somehow be a precursor of what happened to Horus. In the novel Mechanicum a conversation between Imperial Fists Primarch Rogal Dorn and Malcador the Sigillite in regards to the war on Mars and the Heresy states:
In any case, it is unlikely that the current writers at Games Workshop could do justice to the now much-anticipated mystery of what happened to the Lost Legions and why they were deleted from the Imperium's historical records.
Following his terrible wounding on the moon of the world of Davin by the Chaos weapon known as the Kinebrach Anathame, the Primarch Horus, in a Chaos-induced vision, apparently went back in time to the Emperor's gene-laboratory beneath the Himalazian (Himalayan) Mountains and saw the incubation capsule of Primarch XI before the Primarchs were scattered through the Warp (the effect this has on the Lost Primarch is unknown). Before the Warp rift created by the Chaos Gods opened within the laboratory, Horus put his hand on Primarch XI's capsule and felt it:
Games Workshop has long explained the game play purpose for these "deleted" Space Marine Legions: they are available to help those who wish to develop their own, custom Astartes Legions.
The idea is that because there were 20 Space Marine Legions created by the Emperor, and half turned to Chaos but half stayed Loyal, these two Lost Legions would represent equivalent sources for new custom-made Space Marine Chapters and Chaos Space Marines warbands.
In the 2nd Edition Codex: Ultramarines, it states that the II and XI Legions, "...likely fought for Horus at least during the beginning of the Heresy." It also makes reference to the fact that the records of these two Legions were destroyed following the end of this conflict.
However, this conflicts with ret-conned information provided in the novel The First Heretic by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, in a conversation between Magnus and Lorgar, when they are discussing the two unknown primarchs and the death of both their Legions which occurred forty-three standard years before the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V in 005.M31.
- Codex: Angels of Death (2nd Edition), pg. 6
- Codex: Chaos (2nd Edition), pg. 8
- Codex: Eye of Terror, pg. 4
- Codex Imperialis, pg. 16
- Codex: Ultramarines (2nd Edition), pg. 7
- Horus Heresy Chapbook (Anthology)
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions, pp. 18, 20
- The Horus Heresy Book One: Betrayal (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pg. 29
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, "Chronicles of the Final Years of the Great Crusade," pg. 19
- The Horus Heresy - Book Three: Extermination (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 79-80
- The Horus Heresy - Book Seven: Inferno (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, "The Darkest War," pg. 81
- Index Astartes I, "Rites of Initiation: The Creation of a Space Marine," by Rick Priestley and Gav Thorpe, pg. 2
- Index Astartes II, "Wolves of Fenris: The Space Wolves Space Marine Chapter," by Phil Kelly, pg. 5
- Index Astartes III, "Warriors of Ultramar: The Ultramarine Space Marine Chapter," by Graham McNeill, pg. 18
- Realms of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness, pg. 241
- False Gods (Novel) by Graham McNeill, pg. 238
- A Thousand Sons (Novel) by Graham McNeill, pg. 125
- The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, pp. 260-261, 265-266
- The Primarchs]] (Anthology), "Feat of Iron," (Short Story) by Nick Kyme
- Fear to Tread (Novel) by James Swallow, pg. 19
- Descent of Angels (Novel) by Mitchel Scanlon, pg. 201
- Legion (Novel) by Dan Abnett, pg. 384
- Prospero Burns (Novel) by Dan Abnett, pp. 187-188, 208-209, 343, 379
- The Outcast Dead (Novel) by Graham McNeill, pg. 164
- Deliverance Lost (Novel) by Gav Thorpe, pp. 224, 229-230
- Vulkan Lives (Novel) by Nick Kyme
- The Unremembered Empire (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Scars (Novel) by Chris Wraight
- The Lightning Tower (Audio Book) by Dan Abnett
- The Sigillite (Audio Book) by Chris Wraight
- Into the Maelstrom (Anthology), "Hell in a Bottle" (Short Story) by Simon Jowett
- Malleus (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Red Fury (Novel) by James Swallow
- Black Library Weekender: Volume One (Anthology), "Lost Sons," (Short Story) by James Swallow
- Dark Imperium (Novel) by Guy Haley
- The Regimental Standard 2018/03/28 - Field Dressing a Lasgun Wound
|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|