- "Zeal makes all things possible, duty makes all things simple."
Sigismund was the First Captain of the Imperial Fists Legion during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy eras. Sigismund was a name that echoed through the Great Crusade even before the darkness of the Horus Heresy made him the stuff of legends.
Born on Terra and raised to the Legiones Astartes as the Great Crusade was at its height, he ascended in rank and renown thanks to a simple fact: he was a warrior of unparalleled lethality and ability. Beneath the Primarchs there has perhaps never been a more skilled warrior in combat.
Across the battlefields of hundreds of worlds and the duelling floors of every Legion he was never defeated except on one occasion, and only through treachery, when he received a headbutt to the face from the Night Lords' infamous First Captain Jago Sevatarion.
The fire of the Crusader always burned brightly in him and if one warrior could embody the Great Crusade's spirit of noble conquest it was Sigismund. Those who faced him in the circle of blades, or stood beside him in battle, speak of a fury shackled by an iron will and an inherent genius for dealing death that bordered on the supernatural. It was his skill and fire that brought Sigismund to command the Templars of the Legion's 1st Company, and the most exalted position in the Imperial Fists beneath Rogal Dorn himself.
Following the tragic events of the Heresy, the Space Marine Legions were broken down into smaller Chapters. Sigismund would go on to become the first High Marshal (Chapter Master) of the newly formed Black Templars Chapter after the Second Founding in the early 31st Millennium.
- "We will spend our lives fighting to secure this Imperium, and then I fear we will spend the rest of our days fighting to keep it intact... In the far future, there will be only war."
Sigismund served beside the Imperial Fists Legion's Primarch Rogal Dorn himself, and would fight throughout the entirety of the Great Crusade. Famously brash and headstrong, he had a tendency to attack the enemy head-on, no matter the danger or mission he had been sent to accomplish. This tendency might have been a problem if he had not been such a superb warrior who could defeat almost any opponent.
A sombre and deadly warrior, both indefatigable and remorseless in the fray, Sigismund was to onlookers less a mortal warrior but rather some unstoppable agency of the dark fates. This led none other than the Blood Angels' Primarch Sanguinius to remark of him he seemed, "...less my brother Dorn's champion, and more Death's himself..." Sigismund's skill was legendary, even among the transhuman warriors of the Space Marine Legions and none could match his instinctive talent for dealing death and finding the merest chink in his enemy's guard to exploit their undoing.
At some point, late in the Great Crusade, the Imperial Fists served alongside the brutal World Eaters Legion for a significant amount of time. During these campaigns, Sigismund became a close comrade of Assault Captain Kharn, Equerry of Primarch Angron.
The two warriors went even so far as to refer to each other as "oath brothers." These bonds were forged in the fighting pits of the XIIth Legion's flagship, Conqueror, where Sigismund made an impressive name for himself, earning the epithet of "the Black Knight."
The tradition of using chains to bind weapons to one's arms was originally started by the World Eaters, a tradition which eventually spread to the other Space Marine Legions after its popularity had extended beyond the World Eaters' fighting pits.
Sigismund took to the custom with his usual zeal, binding his knightly weapons to his wrists on dense black chains. This practice of wearing Devotion Chains would later be adopted by the Second Founding Black Templars Chapter.
The Horus Heresy
Sigismund led a squad of Templar Brethren that accompanied his Primarch in a boarding action to rescue survivors of the crippled Eisenstein, under the command of Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro, formerly of the Death Guard, who had brought word of Warmaster Horus' perfidy to Rogal Dorn following his treacherous actions during the Istvaan III Atrocity. Following these startling revelations, Dorn went into temporary isolation to take some time to absorb the gravity of such dire portents.
Once he came to a decision, Dorn ordered Sigismund to undertake a mission to the Istvaan System in order to evaluate the situation and assist any surviving Loyalists. During this period of isolation, Sigismund struggled with this terrible news of the former brethrens' treachery. He eventually met one of the Eisenstein survivors, Euphrati Keeler, a former Imagist, and now zealous adherent of the Lectitio Divinitatus.
Her faith in the Emperor would prove to be so absolute that it would provide psychic protection against the powers of daemons summoned from the Warp, and Keeler would go on to become one of the earliest Saints recognised by the Imperial Creed. Keeler informed the First Captain that the Warmaster would eventually strike out for Terra, and when he finally did, Sigismund would be forced to choose where he would make a stand.
Keeler also shared a vision with Sigismund, showing him the death of the Imperium, as well as his own. One of these choices would result in Sigismund's death. Death and sacrifice far away, under the light of an unknown star. Alone and unremembered. The other choice, would result in war without end. Before the end, his father Dorn, would need him. Deeply affected by their conversation, the usually stoic First Captain's resolve was severely shaken.
As a result, Sigismund requested that he be allowed to remain by his Primarch's side. Thus, the command of the Retribution Fleet passed to the veteran Captain Yonnad. Though the Primarch didn't understand why Sigismund would make such a request, nevertheless, he had trusted his son and acceded to his plea without question.
Return to the Throneworld
Many weeks passed since Dorn had heard and seen evidence of his brother's treachery. Sigismund remembered the rage in his father's eyes. Dorn had wanted to go and confront Horus himself, to hear the traitor's confession and bring retribution with his own hands. But duty had held him back: duty to the Emperor and the Imperium that Horus now sought to destroy. They had returned to Terra, but Dorn had sent his sons as emissaries of his anger. He had named it a Retribution Fleet. Thirty thousand Imperial Fists and over five hundred warships had struck out towards Istvaan, a force great enough to subdue a hundred worlds, bearing a brother's wrath. Now a second force from many Legions gathered to strike at Istvaan V, but no word had come from the Retribution Fleet. Though his father acceded to the First Captain's request to stay by his side, Sigismund had kept the real reason to himself, sensing that his father would not understand. Sigismund barely understood it himself, but he had made his decision. That deception had weighed on Sigismund like penitent chains ever since.
While overseeing the construction of the fortifications and defences of the Imperial Palace, Sigismund was present when Dorn received the tragic news of the Drop Site Massacre: Imperial counter-strike massacred on Istvaan V. Vulkan and Corax were missing. Ferrus Manus dead. Night Lords, Iron Warriors, Alpha Legion and Word Bearers were now with Horus Lupercal. A primarch dead. Two lost. Three Legions gone, and four gone from friend to enemy in the space of a handful of words. Just as the vision Keeler had shown Sigismund, the true beginning of the end. If four more Legions could turn against them, then why not more still? They would eventually come to Terra, and here they must stand, and stand alone. Dorn ordered Sigismund to purge any remnants of the betrayers within the Solar System. He was allowed to use whatever and whoever he needed -- take them or destroy them as he must. Following this grievous news, Dorn ordered that his sons be recalled back to Terra, even if they burned through a thousand Astropaths in order to reach them.
Later on, before leaving for Mars, Sigismund felt that he must reveal to his father his true reasons for returning to Terra and why he couldn't take command of the Retribution Fleet. He shared with his father, the truths revealed to him by the Remembrancer, Keeler. Enraged by his son's revelations, the Primarch rebuked Sigismund. They were made to serve, he explained to the First Captain, every Primarch and every son of a primarch existed to serve the Imperium. Their existence had no other meaning. Their choices were not their own, their fate was not theirs to choose. Sigismund's will was Dorn's, and through his Primarch, the Emperor's. Dorn had trusted him, and he had squandered that trust on pride and superstition, not unlike those who now rebelled against the Emperor. Shamed, Sigismund offered his blade to his father, to take his life, but the Primarch refused. He would retain Sigismund as First Captain, but none would ever know of what he had done. Dorn would not allow Sigismund's fear and pride to sow doubt in their ranks. His shame would be his to bear alone. Dorn then disowned Sigismund as one of his sons, for no matter what his future held, Sigismund would never again be one of his own. Keeler had revealed to Sigismund that he would be needed before the end. His father would need him. He must bear whatever would come. Sigismund was thankful that he was still alive, and thus, he could still serve. He vowed that he would not fail.
Mission to Mars
In the opening days of the Horus Heresy when the Schism of Mars erupted, open warfare raged across the Red Planet between the forces of the Loyalist Mechanicus and the traitors of the Dark Mechanicus. Malcador the Sigillite, the Regent of Terra, charged the Primarch Rogal Dorn with a mission of vital importance -- to secure the forges of Mars. Dorn informed the Sigillite he would send First Captain Sigismund and four companies of Imperial Fists to carry out the task. The forges of Mondus Occulum and Mondus Gamma produced the bulk of the armour and weapons of the Astartes. He would have them strike there first and when they were in Loyalist hands, the Imperial Fists would push outwards and secure the others.
Sigismund's companies landed at Mondus Occulum as the rest of the Imperial expeditionary force was fighting across the surface of Mars. After a rapid deployment under fire in the shadow of Pavonis Mons, thirteen companies of the Saturnine Hoplites regiments of the Imperial Army advanced on the lines of circumvallation surrounding the forge of Ipluvien Maximal. Further south, two companies of Imperial Fists and four regiments of Jovian Grenadiers (nearly 15,000 Imperial Army soldiers) under the command of the Imperial Fists' Captain Camba-Diaz made planetfall in the Mondus Gamma forge complex.
Nothing of their mission to Mars panned out the way it was supposed to. Camba-Diaz and the Jovian regiments were embroiled in a fight for their lives at Mondus Gamma, and the Saturnine companies tasked with breaking the siege at Ipluvien Maximal's forge had been repeatedly turned back by the horrifyingly altered weapon-creatures of the Dark Mechanicus. Though the fighting proved desperate, Camba-Diaz secured the armour forges and the ammunition silos, but his company was outnumbered a hundred to one. The Traitor Chrom’s forces pushed him back to the landing fields and his losses were grievous. Sigismund knew the Imperial expeditionary force would not be able to hold the forge, but a great deal of essential supplies had been secured for transit to Terra.
Sigismund's companies had descended upon Mondus Occulum not knowing whether they would have to fight to secure the forge, but it was a relief to find that Fabricator Locum Kane still held true to the Emperor. Sigismund secured vast quantities of munitions for shipment back to Terra, including nearly 12,000 suits of Mark IV Power Armour and twice as many weapons. But the Loyalists had run out of time. Despite the locum's Servitors working at full capacity, it still was not fast enough to load the bulk transports, for Sigismund's ship masters informed him of a sizable enemy force closing in, composed of Traitor infantry, armour, Skitarii and at least two Titan Legions comprising nearly 60 war engines in all.
Sigismund's desire to wreak a bloody vengeance on those who rebelled against the Emperor warred with the mission his Primarch had given him of securing the armour and weapons of Kane’s forge. Reluctantly he knew he must stay true to his mission, for the forces arrayed against them were too many and his orders did not allow for futile gestures of defiance. Locum Kane warned the Imperial Fists' First Captain that if both the Mondus Occulum and Mondus Gamma forges fell, the Imperium would have no way of replenishing the combat losses they would sustain against the Traitors in any meaningful way.
After only a few hours' worth of fighting both Mondus Occulum and Mondus Gamma were burning, and vast swathes of machinery and manufactorum capacity had been destroyed. The loss of such irreplaceable technology and knowledge would be felt by the Imperium for millennia to come. Like comets launching from the surface of Mars, the Imperial transports fled into the heavens. Astartes and Imperial Army vessels jostled in the sky in their haste to depart the crimson world. But the mission was successful and the Loyalist Astartes had secured a large number of the new marks of Power Armour in preparation for the oncoming campaign against Terra by the Traitor Legions of Horus.
Battle of Terra
- "We began in ignorance, fighting a war that we did not understand against weapons we had never dreamt existed. We were unready, we were vulnerable; we were weak. But in those first moments our enemies gave us strength. The strength to live, to rise from the bloody fields, to march on but not to fall: all this is ours now, and was not before."
At the conclusion of the Horus Heresy during the Battle of Terra, Sigismund was chosen to serve as the first Emperor's Champion. Personally singled out by Rogal Dorn himself, Sigismund was bestowed with the high honour of serving as the personal champion of the Emperor. Though humbled by the honour, he was disturbed by only one thing -- it seemed wrong to him to obscure the sacred colours of his Legion. The Imperial Fists Reclusiarch who bestowed the sacred blessings upon his armour and wargear told Brother Sigismund to fear not, for Dorn himself had ordered it to be so. Sigismund's heraldry had been changed to black to show that he served the Emperor directly, as did the Reclusiarch and his fellow Chaplains. As such, he had been marked out in the sight of the Emperor. Reassured, Sigismund strode across the war-torn scenes of carnage, of hell on Earth, challenging any and all Champions of Chaos to single combat as well as anyone else unfortunate enough to cross his path. When Rogal Dorn accompanied the Emperor and Sanguinius in the boarding of Horus' flagship, the Vengeful Spirit, he left most of his Imperial Fists behind to look to the defence of the Imperial Palace. Sigismund was left behind in order to lead the ground forces against the Traitor Legions, until Dorn returned. Since that time, the Black Templars Chapter has continued to honour Sigismund by continuing the practise of naming an Emperor's Champion.
- "You carry the Emperor's will as your torch. With it, destroy the shadows."
- — Verses of Sigismund, Book CIV, Verse 1
Emperor's Champion Sigismund, the First Captain of the Imperial Fists Legion, was chosen by his Primarch as the first High Marshal (Chapter Master) of the newly created Black Templars Chapter during the Second Founding. The Chapter took upon themselves the black and white panoply of Sigismund's personal heraldry. Chosen as the Emperor's Champion for his fervent faith in the Emperor and his undying devotion to Mankind, those zealous warriors who became Black Templars sought to emulate their former First Captain's heroic example. Seeing the strife that beset the Legiones Astartes during the days of the Second Founding, he determined that a gesture of supreme faith was needed. As High Marshal of the Black Templars, Sigismund swore a mighty oath that upon leaving Terra, he would prove his loyalty, never resting in the prosecution of his duties against the enemies of the Emperor. It is an oath that every subsequent High Marshal has renewed, and so the greatest and longest Space Marine Crusade in Imperial history was begun, a Crusade that has continued unbroken for ten thousand Terran years.
- "You will die as your weakling father died. Soulless. Honourless. Weeping. Ashamed."
In 781.M31, five standard centuries after his retreat from Terra, Ezekyle Abaddon, now the Warmaster of Chaos known as Abaddon the Despoiler, returned to Imperial space at the head of a host of Traitors and daemons. It was the Imperium's first encounter with the newly renamed Black Legion and the return of a brutal and bitter enemy many had thought lost to the graveyard of history. This was the first of the thirteen Black Crusades.
Since the Great Scouring, Abaddon had remained within the Eye of Terror, rebuilding the Black Legion as a vengeful reflection of its former glory. At last, the Black Legion and the other Traitors returned to realspace, the first chapter in their Long War against the Emperor ready to be written in the blood of Imperial worlds. The new regents of the Imperium, the High Lords of Terra, did not expect the Traitor Legions' return, and so were unprepared to face them, but not all of the Emperor's servants had forgotten its wayward sons.
During this first incursion into Imperial space, Abaddon faced the ancient Templar-king, Sigismund, the High Marshal of the Black Templars Chapter. By this time, Sigismund was a Veteran of more than a thousand standard years. Age had ravaged him, yet he burned with life. Sigismund informed Abaddon that he had sought the former First Captain as Terra burned in the fires of Horus' Heresy, hunting for him day and night. Always lesser men had blocked his way. Always they died so that he might live. He also told Abaddon that he had never stopped searching for him, not through all the long years.
Then the two ancient warriors raised their blades -- the Primarch-slaying Lightning Claw known as the Talon of Horus and the ebon-bladed Black Sword as both warriors prepared to fight one another to the death. Sigismund badly wounded Abaddon and drove the Black Sword through the Warmaster's chest, but the Despoiler proved the ultimate victor, disembowelling and slaying the High Marshal with the Talon of Horus.
Abaddon claimed Sigismund's corpse and delivered it upon a captured Black Templars frigate to Terra with a short message declaring the start of the Long War of the Heretic Astartes against the servants of the Emperor:
We are returned.
Sigismund was a sturdy, thickset Astartes, his hair a dark blonde with a patrician face that echoed the same austere lines as his liege lord, Rogal Dorn. His face was only marred by a scar from under his right eye that ran down his cheek all the way to his jawline. His eyes were coloured a bright, sapphire blue that matched the colour of the ocean.
- Artificer Armour
- Iron Halo
- The Black Sword - The Black Sword was a paragon blade of unknown provenance which took the shape of an ancient two-handed blade of lustreless black metal. The Black Sword was able to cut through stone and metal without effort or mar to the blade. In the hands of a warrior such as Sigismund, the Black Sword was deadly beyond belief, and alien warlords and mighty warriors without number fell before it.
- Master-crafted Bolt Pistol
- Frag Grenades
- Krak Grenades
- Chapter Approved 2003, "The Emperor's Champion", pg. 76
- Codex: Black Templars (4th Edition), pp. 4, 6
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 52, 116
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 38-39, 56
- The Horus Heresy - Book Three: Extinction (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pg. 270
- Horus Rising (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Mechanicum (Novel) by Graham McNeill, pp. 286-287, 320-323
- Flight of the Einsenstein (Novel) by James Swallow, pg. 257
- Shadows of Treachery (Anthology) edited by Christian Dunn, "The Crimson Fist" by John French
- Butcher's Nails (Audio Book) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- The Horus Heresy: Templar (Audio) by John French
- The Crimson Fist (Novella) by John French
- The Silent War (Anthology) edited by Laurie Goulding (Cover Image)
- The Talon of Horus (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, pg. 190
- Black Legion (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Forge World - Sigismund, First Captain of the Imperial Fists
- The Horus Heresy - Siege of Terra Website, Book 1 - The Solar War (Image)