Master Zahariel was a formidable Librarian of the Dark Angels Space Marine Legion during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras during the 30th and 31st millennia. He was later corrupted by Chaos and became one of the first of the Fallen Angels.
Zahariel, born Zahariel El'Zurias, was a native of the Death World of Caliban during the period of history before the arrival of the Emperor and the Imperial Compliance of his homeworld during the Great Crusade. Zahariel left his home at the age of seven Terran years to journey to the great fortress-monastery of Aldurukh, home of "The Order," one of the most prominent knightly orders of warrior-aristocrats created to defend Caliban's people from the predations of the Great Beasts that roamed the world's forests.
These knights maintained a few aspects of Caliban's ancient technology from before the Age of Strife and wielded primitive Bolt Pistols and wore suits of simple Power Armour very similar to that later used by the Astartes that were handed down from knight to knight. Despite these technological trappings, however, Caliban remained very much a pre-industrial society whose warriors rode to war on horseback. One of the most prominent knightly organisations was known as The Order, and was made up of commoners and nobles alike, whereas the other knightly orders were drawn by tradition only from the Calibanite nobility.
During that time, The Order was led by two formidable warriors who were proclaimed to be the greatest of the age -- Sars Luther and Lion El'Jonson. Accompanied by his cousin, Nemiel, Zahariel succeeded in becoming a supplicant to The Order, and began his intense training, in earnest, that would occupy his every waking moment for the next two years of his young life. When he was finally judged to be suitable by his Master, Remiel, he was formally initiated by a panel that consisted of Lion El'Jonson, Sars Luther and the Lord Cypher, and became a full member of The Order.
Years passed, and Zahariel's standing within The Order grew. His first fight with one of the Great Beasts during a routine training patrol had almost cost him his life, but it had been the making of him. The senior Masters of the Order knew his name, and though the monster had been slain by Zahariel's hero and mentor, Brother Amadis, the knight had ensured that every member of The Order knew of Zahariel's bravery in fighting it.
Not long after, Zahariel would undertake a Beast Quest, a daunting undertaking to slay one of Caliban's many dangerous Great Beasts that were indigenous to the world. Upon the successful completion of this quest, he would be guaranteed a promotion as a fully-fledged knight of The Order. But Zahariel's quest was not just a simple hunt; his was a quest for vengeance, as Brother Amadis had been slain by a Great Beast the locals referred to as the "Beast of Endriago." The town of Endriago was the place of Amadis' birth, and it had suffered nearly two hundred dead at the hands of this ferocious mutant creature.
Amadis had declared a quest against the fell creature, but was mortally wounded in attempting its completion. Somehow, the older knight had managed to ride back to The Order's fortress-monastery with the last reserves of his strength. Before dying, he called forth Zahariel to give his final valediction. With his ebbing strength, he carefully reached for his rotary-barrelled pistol and painfully slid it from its leather holster. Lifting the pistol towards the young man, he ordered Zahariel to take it.
It was his wish for the young man to carry it with him -- his legacy -- so that he would always remember him when he fired it. As the great knight died, Zahariel gripped the pistol Amadis had given him in both hands, and hot anger filled him at the thought of the knight's killer still alive and roaming the dark forests. Zahariel declared a quest against the Beast of Endriago on the spot.
During his quest to the Northwilds, Zahariel encountered the Watchers in the Dark, a strange race of humanoid creatures of small stature who warned him against venturing into the forests of the Northwilds, for they were corrupted. But of what had corrupted them, the Watchers would not or could not say. They warned the young Knight of an evil that was the bane of all humanity -- an evil that could not be defeated, but could be held at bay for a time -- but so long as there were humans, it would exist. In hindsight, the Watchers' referral to an ancient evil that was the "bane of all humanity," was in reference to the inherent evil of the Ruinous Powers, for Caliban was a world close to the Eye of Terror, a proximity that may have been the source of the Great Beasts themselves.
Emboldened by this knowledge, Zahariel vowed he would do everything in his power to defeat the same evil the Watchers stood against. Sensing the truth in the knight's words, the Watchers accepted Zahariel's oath. With their warning given, the Watchers disappeared back into the shadows of the forest. Continuing his quest, Zahariel sought and eventually found the Beast of Endriago, a great Calibanite Lion, the most feared of all the Great Beasts. It was thought that there had been only one in Caliban's history, and that Lion El'Jonson had slain it. Now Zahariel faced a second incarnation of the dreaded and greatly feared creature.
While fighting for his life, Zahariel's latent psychic powers manifested. Known as "Terrorsight", this ability allowed Zahariel to gain a preternatural awareness of the world around him. His perception of the passage of time slowed down, which helped him discern future events, granting him uncanny accuracy in anticipating them. This form of divination allowed him to see through the Great Beast's defences and exploit an opening. Using a second psychic ability, Zahariel was able to phase his arm and rotary-barrelled pistol through the ghostly outline of the lion's translucent flesh as though it were no more substantial than smoke.
Pressing the pistol against the monster's heart, within the ghostly outline of the beast's body, Zahariel pulled the trigger. As reality reasserted itself, the beast died in a spectacular fashion. He then removed the lion's head -- as it was customary for a supplicant to take some portion of his quest-creature as a trophy back to Aldurukh. He had proved his ability. He had proved his commitment to The Order's creed of excellence, and he had proved that he was worthy to be a knight.
Recognising his astounding feat of bravery and perseverance, Zahariel at last became a full-fledged knight of The Order. He also garnered the respect and friendship of the Lion himself, for they both now shared a singular brotherhood that no others on Caliban could lay claim to -- they were the only two in the Order's history to have slain a Calibanite Lion. At the Lion's behest, the Order's artificers had taken one of the sabre-like fangs of the lion that Zahariel had slain and fashioned it into a sword for him. Its sheen was a pearlescent white, like a tusk, and its edge was lethally sharp, able to part metal or timber at a single stroke. As long as Zahariel's forearm, it was shorter than a normal sword, but its added potency more than made up for his reduced reach. The Grand Master of The Order presented this "lion-sword" to the new knight, which would prove to be more potent in battle than any standard blade.
Knights of Lupus
Soon after Zahariel's ascension to knighthood, The Order declared war on the Knights of Lupus, a rival knightly order that had protested against Lion El'Jonson's genocidal campaign against the Great Beasts of Caliban. Led by Lord Sartana, the Knights of Lupus rebelled against the rapid change of their world, as Jonson continued to prosecute his campaign against the Great Beasts that had long plagued Caliban. Unknown to any outside their order, the Knights of Lupus were capturing and training the beasts.
Afraid of what the future held for them in a world without these fell creatures, the Knights of Lupus wanted to maintain the status quo of their rapidly changing civilisation. The Order marshaled the bulk of their forces and made for the enemy castle stronghold of the Knights of Lupus. While The Order lay siege to the castle, the Lion launched a diversionary assault on the northern gate, while the bulk of the main attack was led by Sar Luther against another portal. The fighting proved brutal and relentless, with both sides taking horrendous casualties. But this was as nothing compared to the horror that the knights of The Order discovered once they breached the walls of the castle.
The Order's warriors found themselves in a life-and-death struggle as a menagerie of caged beasts roared as they were released from their imprisonment and charged. Sar Zahariel bravely fought as a member of The Order's swordline, and came out of the campaign both blooded as a warrior and recognised as a rising star within The Order. The Knights of Lupus retreated within their keep, content to leave the beasts to do their work for them. The knights of The Order had nothing but contempt for the knights who had fallen so far from the ideals of honour and virtue that they would stoop to such a base tactic.
After defeating the final creature the knights of The Order assaulted the keep where the Knights of Lupus were cowering. They had forfeited their right to mercy and were to be granted no clemency. When Lord Sartana was confronted, he took the coward's way out and plunged a hunting knife into his own heart. With the death of Lord Sartana, the Knights of Lupus ceased to exist. The last remnants of their order were hunted down in the corridors of their shattered keep and slain.
Descent of Angels
Six solar months after his ascension as a knight of The Order, Zahariel's destiny would change again. Shortly after the success of the campaign against the Great Beasts, the Emperor of Mankind and His Astartes scouts arrived on Caliban after He detected the psychic emanations of one of the Primarchs. From the moment the Emperor landed, El'Jonson felt the deep connection between himself and the Master of Mankind, and swore his fealty. In return, the Emperor made the Lion the commander of the Ist Legion of Space Marines that had been created from his genome.
The Imperials brought with them all of the advanced technology that was hailed by the people of Caliban as miraculous. Soon, the Astartes of the Ist Legion were putting potential Astartes Aspirants from The Order and the other knightly organisations through myriad martial trials and competitions to gauge their level of martial prowess and character. Only the strongest and most dedicated were allowed to pass to the next stage. Zahariel and Nemiel both took part in these arduous trials, and during one of these formidable tests of endurance, Zahariel's innate psychic powers manifested once again, an unknown third ability -- which granted him the ability to boost his own reserves of stamina and energy.
His unusual abilities brought Zahariel the attention of Brother-Librarian Israfael, who, after interrogating the young Knight, quickly deduced that Zahariel possessed an extremely rare psychic ability known as "Terrorsight." Zahariel had possessed no instruction in the use of these abilities and had manifested them instinctively, though in an unfocused manner. Zahariel next drew the attention of someone even greater than that of the Brother-Librarian -- that of the Emperor Himself -- when he was able to foil an assassination attempt intended to be carried out by rogue elements within The Order's Inner Circle who feared the changes to be wrought on Caliban by its incorporation into the Imperium of Man. In the aftermath of these events, Zahariel was personally examined by the Emperor, but his memory of this was psychically occluded by the Emperor's own powerful psychic abilities. The attempted treason that had occurred within the ranks of The Order was suppressed.
Finally, the day arrived when those individuals whose courage had been proven beyond doubt, whose stamina, endurance and strength had seen them through the Astartes trials were ready to be added to the ranks of the Ist Legion. Word had come from Sar Luther that the Astartes had made their final selection for advanced training and the gen-hancement required to join their ranks. Zahariel had successfully proven his worth and was chosen. Through the application of Imperial science and the marvels of the gene-seed, these Aspirants were transformed over the next several Terran years into Battle-Brothers of the Ist Legion, newly renamed the "Dark Angels" by the Lion after an ancient Calibanite fable.
The newly trained Dark Angels Librarian Zahariel was assigned to the 22nd Chapter of the Dark Angels. Shortly after their entry into the Great Crusade, the 4th Expeditionary Fleet of the Dark Angels reached the orbit of the planet Sarosh, which had formerly been under the perview of Shang Khan of the White Scars Legion. For whatever reason, the Saroshi appeared to intentionally put off the inception of the Imperial Compliance process they had agreed to diplomatically.
The Imperials believed that these peaceful people seemed to possess the same secular beliefs as they did as embodoed in the Imperial Truth. But the Saroshi (without mentioning it to the Imperial expedition) secretly worshipped Chaos entities in the Warp they called the "Melachim," and saw the atheistic stance of the "Imperial Truth" as nothing less than pure evil. Later, a Saroshi delegation came aboard the Lion's flaghsip, the Invincible Reason. Led by the Lord High Exalter, the leader of the Saroshi bureaucracy, they agreed to discuss the issue of Compliance with the Primarch. The Lord High Exalter then proceeded to formally denounce the Emperor to the Dark Angels' collective shock.
Meanwhile, Luther and Librarian Zahariel waited in the embarkation deck to deploy to the surface of Sarosh. Out of curiosity, Luther suggested to his Battle-Brother that they investigate the Saroshi shuttle. The commander's interest was piqued, for the shuttle was thousands of Terran years old -- a functioning relic of an earlier age. Upon further investigation, the Legion's second-in-command went utterly pale. Zahariel noticed the change in Luther, who appeared pallid and had a strange expression. The commander dismissed Zahariel, telling him to rejoin his company until he was called for.
Zahariel left the Legion's second-in-command at the door to the embarkation deck, watching as Luther stared in fascination at the Saroshi shuttle. But the young Librarian's prescience nagged at him with the feeling that something was terribly wrong, and so he rushed back to the embarkation deck. Upon closer inspection of the shuttle he discovered a dark device that had been hidden in a secret compartment of the shuttle's nose.
Luther informed the Librarian that it was some kind of atomic weapon. The Saroshi were obviously intent on assassinating the Dark Angels' entire command hierarchy, including the Primarch. Zahariel was confused by this startling revelation and wonder why Luther had not revealed this truth earlier. Luther informed the confused Librarian that he had wanted to, but then he had thought of what could be his if he didn't: the Legion, command, Caliban. It would all be his, and he would no longer have to share it with someone whose shadow obscured everything that he did.
Zahariel argued that the Lion's deeds were great, as were Luther's. Luther explained that his deeds might have been great in another age, one in which he did not share the same span of time as a man like the Lion. In any other age, the glory of leading Caliban from the darkness would have been Luther's, but instead it had gone to his brother. He told Zahariel that he had no idea how galling it was to be the greatest man of the age and have that taken from you in an instant.
After a solar decade or more, the feelings that had been contained within a dam of honour and restraint were finally erupting, and Luther's true feelings spilled out. Zahariel had had no idea that Luther was so consumed by jealousy and ego. The commander told him that no one in the Legion did, and not even he had realised the full extent of his feelings, not fully, not until he saw the bomb placed aboard the Saroshi shuttle. All he had to do was not lift a finger and walk away, and everything that he had ever wanted would be his.
Luther had ordered everyone out of the embarkation deck and walked away, but he hadn't gone more than a few steps before he knew that he couldn't do it. Luther had come to realise that it was an honour to serve a warrior as great as the Lion, and that he was the luckiest man alive to be allowed to call him brother. With the help of Zahariel, the two Dark Angels managed to open the embarkation deck's outer doors, the shuttle and its makeshift bomb hurling into the void of space as the deck decompressed. The nuclear blast wave from the warhead's detonation only caused minor damage to the Dark Angels' flagship. They had managed to save the Lion's life.
During the uprising that followed on Sarosh against Imperial rule, the Lion led his Dark Angels to the world's surface. They soon encountered one of the dread Warp entities summoned by the Saroshi. The Melachim threatened to overwhelm the Dark Angels force, including their Primarch, with a powerful psychic assault. Libararian Zahariel would prove instrumental in defeating the fell creature, when he used his Bolt Pistol to slay the host body so that the vile Warp entity could not fully translate into their reality. Zahariel joined with the senior Librarian, Israfael, focusing his innate abilities on the foul creature. The powerful psychic attack banished the creature to whence it came.
The Lion's Judgement
No sooner had the Dark Angels returned to the Invincible Reason than they were issued with new deployment orders. A declaration from the Lion announced that the flow of new recruits from Caliban was not proceeding as swiftly as was hoped. Therefore, experienced Astartes were to return to the homeworld with all speed to ensure that the recruitment of new warriors was put back on track.
The Great Crusade was entering a new and vigorous stage, and the Dark Angels needed fresh warriors to spread the light of the Imperium outwards into new regions of the galaxy. As to the pacification of Sarosh, word had quickly spread of the knowledge that the Saroshi's god had met its demise at the hands of the Emperor's angels of death. Imperial Army units from nearby Expeditionary Fleets, as well as a demi-Legion of Titans from the Legio Ignatum, were sent to crush any last resistance.
The deployment order was given, as hundreds of loyal warriors were earmarked to return home, including Zahariel. The sense of crushing dejection was total, and though there was no outward stigma attached to their departure from the fleet, every warrior knew the truth of the matter in their hearts. Their Primarch had rejected them. The Lion did not want them with him for the remainder of the Great Crusade. Those that were to be sent back to Caliban had only made a minor contribution to the cause, so insignificant in the scale of what was to come that many of their number doubted that the chroniclers would even bother to record the short war on Sarosh. The Great Crusade would continue, though it would continue without Luther.
Fifty Terran years later, following the great success in the recruitment, training, and equipping of new Astartes for the Dark Angels, Luther and his lieutenants, including Zahariel, who had himself begun to feel something of Luther's betrayal by their Primarch, were faced with a widespread rebellion on Caliban. Following Librarian Zahariel's investigations, it was revealed that Caliban was plagued by a resurgence of the Great Beasts that had once run amok across the Dark Angels' homeworld.
This dire threat was further compounded by the insurgency raised against them which included former knights of The Order who felt that the Lion had betrayed them. At the centre of this conspiracy was a mysterious cabal of Terran-born bureaucrats who were actually Chaos Cultists and sorcerers that were somehow linked to the reemergence of the Warp-spawned beasts and hordes of undead who began to assault Calibanite settlements.
Learning of the Warmaster Horus' rebellion against the Emperor and the start of the Horus Heresy, Luther decided that in the best of interests of Caliban, he was compelled to declare their world's independence in opposition to both Terra and their Primarch alike. Zahariel vehemently disagreed with this course of action initially, but the more he learned of Caliban's dark past and its connection to the Warp, the more he agreed with Luther. Finally, after defeating the cabal of Chaos Sorcerers and their walking dead with his own psychic abilities, Zahariel knew there would be no turning back for Caliban due to the Edicts of Nikea and he decided to join Luther in secession. Zahariel went on to become one of the first of the so-called Fallen Angels.
Later on Caliban, Zahariel was running through a collapsing tunnel before he was buried beneath its falling mass, left for dead by the Lord Cypher during an expedition against more of the Chaos forces that had afflicted Caliban. While trapped beneath the stone, his mind drifted to the past about an old cave with a wizard before awakening again. Moving through an opening, he came upon the undead who he dispatched with his psychic powers, causing them to withdraw.
He quickly looked for the worms that they battled when they fought the Ouroboros and found a psychic void that was growing that he determined was an emanation of the Ouroboros itself, a sentient Warp device deeply hated by the Watchers in the Dark, who feared its Warp-tainted power. With the sudden realisation that he was inside of the worm and cut off from his psychic power, Zahariel blacked out. Later when he finally returned from beneath Caliban, his personality had been changed by the experience and exposure to the Ouroboros, becoming darker and more resentful. Zahariel now insisted that the Ouroboros was actually the embodiment of Caliban itself and not an enemy of the Dark Angels.
This belief brought Zahariel into conflict with the Lord Cypher who wished to maintain his influence over Luther. Later, when Zahariel learned of the death of his cousin Nemiel at the hands of the Lion, Zahariel became even more embittered against the Dark Angels Primarch and this contributed to him leading a purge against a group of recently arrived Legion Loyalists on Caliban led by Belath.
Through the power of the Ouroboros, Zahariel saw Cypher as a green man, a man born of a tree and thus embued with the essence of Caliban's world-straddling forest. The two sides disputed the nature of the planet. He then confronted Cypher, and was surprised by the man's true identity before killing him. Following these events, Zahariel was elevated by Luther as the new Lord Cypher.
While all this had been transpiring on Caliban, the rest of the Dark Angels Legion had been spreading the Imperial Truth across the Eastern Fringe of the galaxy when word reached them of Horus' treachery against the Imperium. It is known that the Warmaster ordered the Night Lords Traitor Legion to intercept the Dark Angels and prevent them from aiding the Emperor on Terra as part of the campaign remembered as the Thramas Crusade, but ultimately without success.
As the Dark Angels were in transit to Terra alongside the Space Wolves Legion, so too was the Ultramarines Legion, who had also thwarted Horus' best efforts to keep them from Terra after the Battle of Calth. The three Legions would ultimately arrive too late; Horus had already been defeated and the Emperor grievously wounded, His shattered body placed within the life-support mechanisms of the arcane Golden Throne.
Grief-stricken, Jonson returned to Caliban. Upon the Dark Angels fleet's arrival in orbit above their homeworld, they were fired upon from the surface. Pulling back the fleet, El'Jonson tried to find out what had happened, and discovered that Luther -- who had become embittered by what he perceived as El'Jonson always taking all of his glory -- had poisoned the minds of the Dark Angels garrison and the new recruits that had been left on the planet against their Primarch. Correctly believing that Luther and the planet-side Dark Angels had actually been tainted by Chaos, an infuriated Jonson ordered that Caliban be bombarded from orbit, destroying the planet's defences.
In the ensuing apocalyptic battle between the Lion and the Arch-Heretic Luther, the Fallen Angels, including Zahariel, were scattered throughout space and time, and Caliban tore itself apart under the strain of the Ruinous Powers' assault. The only portion of the planet remaining intact was the rock on which stood the fortress-monastery in which Luther and the Lion had duelled. The Dark Angels entered the shattered monastery and captured the broken Luther; of El'Jonson himself, however, there was no sign.