Variel, also known as "The Flayer," was the Apothecary Secundus of the Astral Claws Chapter and later of the Red Corsairs Chaos Space Marine warband. Variel ultimately betrayed the Red Corsairs to join the Night Lords 1st Claw warband commanded by Talos Valcoran, and after Valcoran's death Variel served his successor Decimus.
After the end of the Badab War and the fall of Badab Primaris to the Loyalist forces, Variel and his mentor, the Astral Claws' Chief Apothecary Garreon, worked together to heal their mortally wounded Chapter Master Lufgt Huron. Upon his recovery, Huron was transformed into the terrible Chaos Lord called Huron Blackheart.
Variel stood with his surviving brethren to form the core of the newborn piratical Chaos Space Marine warband known as the Red Corsairs, which took up residence in the Maelstrom.
In addition to the duties expected of an Apothecary, once part of the Red Corsairs Variel became an infamous specialist in torture and gained the nickname of "The Flayer" from his brethren.
When Talos Valcoran and his fellow Night Lords of the 1st Claw arrived in the Maelstrom seeking repairs, Variel's conflicted loyalties between his past and present self began to emerge. He would later betray Huron Blackheart and assist Valcoran in the theft of the Red Corsairs warship Echo of Damnation, which had once belonged to the Night Lords.
Variel continued to serve under Valcoran's command and was one of the handful of survivors of the Valcoran's Night Lords warband when it came under attack on the Night Lords' garrison world of Tsagualsa from Craftworld Ulthwé Aeldari seeking to eliminate Valcoran because their Farseer's visions indicated that he would soon become an even greater champion of Chaos.
Valcoran instructed Variel to take their Thunderhawk gunship, his valued mortal personal servant Septimus, and the pregnant enslaved Navigator Octavia off-world. Septimus and Octavia escaped Tsagualsa, leaving Variel no choice but to pursue them and to attempt to claim the Navigator's child, who had been fathered by Septimus.
He was badly wounded by the Phoenix Lord Jain Zar in the battle and lost both of his legs to her blades. After Valcoran's death, he retrieved the Night Lord's gene-seed to create a new prophet for the Night Lords.
Variel rejoined the Night Lords' 1st Claw under Decimus' command and appeared to be one of his most trusted followers alongside Lucoryphus.
- Blood Reaver (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Chs. 10, 14, 21
- Void Stalker (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Ch. 30, Epilogue Primus