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- "And what are the achievements of your fragile Imperium? It is a corpse rotting slowly from within while maggots writhe in its belly. It was built with the toil of heroes and giants, and now it is inhabited by frightened weaklings to whom the glories of those times are half-forgotten legends. I have forgotten nothing, and my wisdom has expanded far beyond mere mortal frailties."
- — Ahriman of the Thousand Sons
Ahriman is a Chaos Space Marine and the most powerful Chaos Sorcerer of the Thousand Sons Traitor Legion after their Daemon Primarch Magnus the Red himself. Ahriman seeks to gain entry into the Black Library so that he might better comprehend the nature of his patron Chaos God Tzeentch and of the force of Chaos itself and gain the unrivalled power such knowledge will bring. His action in crafting the Rubric of Ahriman, perhaps one of the greatest works of sorcery in history, would ultimately result in his banishment from the Legion he had hoped to safeguard. He remains a wanderer across the galaxy, forever seeking out any knowledge that will allow him to finally grasp the greatest of all enigmas in the galaxy -- the true nature of Tzeentch himself.
Across a thousand worlds, Ahriman has sought the keys to save what he has already destroyed. The scars of his obsession have made his name a curse in the mouths of humans and aliens alike. Scraps of lore, artefacts both obscure and profane, and rare souls draw him like a raven to a corpse. To the Eldar, he is the carrion scribe who eats the souls of their dying race for secrets, to the Inquisitors of the Ordo Malleus he is the lightning rod which brings a storm of Daemons, amongst the servants of Chaos he is a flame of power and trickery as likely to burn those drawn to his light as to illuminate them.
A master of subtle manipulation, Ahriman has seeded cults on a hundred worlds, and bent the desires of the powerful to achieve his ends. With conspiracies and plots spread across the galaxy, he coils between them, a puppet master pulling invisible strings. When such subtle means are impossible he wages a sorcerer’s war, forcing armies to kneel with visions of terror, shattering war machines with invisible forces, and ripping the souls from mighty heroes. He knows the true names of daemons, and possesses pacts which can bring armies flocking to his call. Worlds have burned at his command, billions have fallen to the hunger of the Warp, and reality has bled at the fury of his power.
Ahzek Ahriman was born on Terra in the 30th Millennium, among the wealthy techno-barbarian tribes of the Achaemenid Empire whose kings had allied with the Emperor of Mankind during the Unification Wars that reunited the Earth under the new government of the Imperium of Man. Because of this early political alliance, Ahriman's tribes were largely spared the horrors of the atomic wars and proto-Astartes invasions of the Unification Wars period. Following the Emperor's victory and Terra's alliance with the Mechanicum of Mars to forge the Imperium, Ahriman and his twin brother Ohrmuzd were selected to be inducted into the ranks of the Astartes Legions. Ahriman fought alongside the Emperor and the other Space Marine Legions at the start of the Great Crusade, but five years into the expedition the Astartes of the Thousand Sons Legion began manifesting psychic abilities, and with these manifestations began the flesh-changes. Terrible mutations gripped the entire Legion, as countless warriors succumbed and fell to the metamorphoses, many becoming hideous mutants who had to be euthanised by their fellows. Over time, the mutational problem within the Legion grew so severe that many voices throughout the Imperium began suggesting that the Thousand Sons be disbanded as they had become hopelessly genetically tainted. Ahriman even lost his own twin brother Ohrmuzd to the effects of the mutations, which instilled within the young Astartes a terrible fear of mutation and a willingness to do anything to stop it from afflicting his remaining Battle-Brothers. In tribute to his own beloved sibling, Ahriman had Ohrmuzd's prized pendant, a keepsake from their mother just like the one Ahriman wore, worked into the shoulder-guard of his Power Armour.
Eventually the Great Crusade reached the world of Prospero, and the discovery of the Primarch Magnus the Red, the Thousand Sons' genetic progenitor, could not have come soon enough. The discovery of their sire marked a turning point in the fortunes of the Thousand Sons Legion, for Magnus was able to seemingly cure the mutational effects of his genetic material and the devastation they had wrought upon his Legion. However, Magnus sacrificed much in order to achieve this victory, including the loss of his eye in the effort, which involved bargains with the Ruinous Powers of the Warp to gain the knowledge required to halt the mutations.
Little is known about Ahriman's exploits during the Great Crusade. Additionally, Ahriman was seconded by the Thousand Sons for 5 Terran years to the Word Bearers Legion, which he found to be an uncomfortable experience because of the Word Bearers' insistence on worshipping the Emperor of Mankind as a divine being in violation of the tenets of the Imperial Truth. Despite this, Ahriman still managed to strike up a friendship with the Word Bearers' Chaplain Erebus. Ahriman is also one of the few Astartes from this period who was publicly supportive of the Emperor's initiative to require civilian Remembrancers to record the exploits of the Astartes Legions and the other Imperial forces during the Great Crusade, as he hoped that an accurate record of the Thousand Sons' exploits would teach the wider Imperium to no longer be afraid of or prejudiced against psykers or the use of psychic powers.
The earliest surviving mention of an Ahzek Ahriman in Imperial records occurred during the Aghrou Campaign in the final years of the Great Crusade's second century, a standard action of that time in which a pre-industrial human world was brought into Imperial Compliance by the 28th Expeditionary Fleet, with aid from a contingent of the Space Wolves Legion. Ahriman risked his Primarch Magnus the Red's wrath when he lead a search team in pursuit of the Primarch after Magnus had made himself absent from his Legion, despite Magnus' prior insistence that he was not to be disturbed under any circumstances. This incident represented the first time that Ahriman was known to have mistrusted the judgement of his Primarch and then acted contrary to his expressed desires. It would not be the last. Towards the end of the Aghrou Campaign, when a contingent of Space Wolves Astartes arrived to convey a message to Magnus from their own Primarch Leman Russ, Ahriman found fellowship with the Space Wolf Rune Priest Othere Wyrdmake, during which he shared information on the Thousand Sons' psychic disciplines in what he thought was a meeting of convivial Brother Astartes, but which later proved treacherous when the Space Wolves used this conversation against the Thousand Sons' position in favour of supporting continued use of the psychic arts at the Council of Nikaea. Ahriman's relationship with the Rune Priest proved useful when both the Space Wolves and the Thousand Sons were forced to engage in combat with alien "weaponforms" similar to Imperial Titans and the daemons of the Warp before leaving Aghoru. This represented the first time that both Legions had come into contact with the realities of Chaos.
It was also at this time that Ahriman was charged by his Primarch with inducting the Remembrancer Lemuel Gaumon into the ways of the Thousand Sons. This was intended to develop Gaumon's own psychic abilities and thus through his spread Magnus' pro-psyker beliefs through the Imperium. Ahriman took Gaumon on as his Probationer, and spent a significant amount of time training the Remembrancer and teaching him the sorcerous knowledge of the Thousand Sons during the time leading up to the Fall of Prospero. This training included allowing Gaumon to accompany the Thousand Sons on combat missions during the pacification of the world of Heliosa, where Ahriman was present for the sudden resurgence of the mutational flesh-change within the Legion and the granting of the Emperor's peace to the afflicted mutant Thousand Sons Astartes by the Space Wolves' Primarch, Leman Russ. The return of rampant mutation to the Thousand Sons after Magnus had previously promised that he had banished its danger forever deeply hurt Ahriman, to the point that his feelings of betrayal were detectable even to a mortal like Gaumon.
Ahzek Ahriman was present at the great review of the Imperial military on the world of Ullanor at the conclusion of the Ullanor Crusade when the Emperor named Horus as the Warmaster of the Great Crusade. More importantly, Ahriman attended the great Imperial conclave known as the Council of Nikaea when the Emperor outlawed the use of psychic abilities within the Space Marine Legions and sorcery across the Imperium. To Ahriman the Council of Nikaea felt like a trial of the Thousand Sons. He felt betrayed once more by the Emperor's decision. Far worse was the fact that the first person to step forth and accuse the Thousand Sons of engaging in the malignant and dangerous practice of sorcery was the fellow Astartes he had believed to be his friend within the Space Wolves Legion, the Rune Priest Othere Wyrdmake. Betrayal seemed to hammer Ahriman from every side as it was also at this time that he first learned that Magnus had not only been aware of the Ruinous Powers' existence within the Immaterium, but that he had likely struck some form of malign bargain with them which had resulted in the end of the rampant mutations within the Thousand Sons Legion. Aghast at a revelation which gave some truth to the charges of the Space Wolves and the Emperor's fears of allowing the practice of sorcery, Ahriman found his trust in his Primarch further shaken, though Magnus ultimately used his own potent psychic abilities to remove the details of the deal he had struck with the Dark Gods from his Chief Librarian's mind before Ahriman could understand its full import.
Before the the Horus Heresy began, Ahriman had risen to the position of Chief Librarian of the Thousand Sons Legion, the Captain of its 1st Fellowship and the leader of the Sekhmet or Scarab occult who served as the elite Veterans of the Legion and deployed in Terminator Armour. Ahriman was also the leader of the Thousand Sons' most powerful sorcerous cult, the Corvidae, who were skilled in the psychic discipline of precognition, which was the ability to determine the likely probabilities of future events. They served as the Legion's seers, warning their Battle-Brothers of dangers before they materialised. The Corvidae Cult also helped guide the Thousand Sons Legion along the lines of Fate during times of conflict and in pursuit of their overall psychic and material growth as a Legion, as well as serving as the Legion's primary strategic planners. Ahriman had come to share his Primarch's obsession with the pursuit and preservation of arcane knowledge and the unraveling of the mysteries of the Warp.
Though they had been ordered by the Emperor to cease and desist all psychic activities and dabbling in the occult, Amon willingly went along with his Primarch's decision to continue with their studies of the Warp. Magnus was keeping a monstrous secret from his captains while he worked feverishly and alone in his private library and the vaults beneath Tizca. Amon and Ankhu Anen, Guardian of the Great Library of Prospero and member of the Corvidae Cult, had shared Ahriman's knowledge that something was wrong, but even their combined power was unable to pierce the veils of the future to see what so concerned their Primarch. Magnus had foreseen a terrifying vision of the Warmaster Horus falling from grace and dragging the burgeoning Imperium of Man into a war more terrible than any of them could imagine -- an Age of Darkness that had been prophesied tens of thousands of standard years before by the ancient Aegyptos of Old Terra. Though he did not exactly know the means in which Horus would fall, all he could perceive from his vision is that something primordial and corrupt would take root in his soul. Magnus had foreseen that the Luna Wolves Legion would soon be making war on a moon of Davin, and the fates were conspiring to fell Horus with a weapon of dreadful sentience. In his weakened and blinded state, the enemies of all life would make their move to ensnare his warrior heart. Without the intervention of the Thousand Sons, they would succeed and split the galaxy asunder. The works that Magnus had Amon researching since the Council of Nikaea held the key to Horus Lupercal's salvation. With the help of his Fellowship Captains, Magnus would project himself across the Warp and attempt to shield his brother from his enemies.
When Horus fell, mortally wounded by the poisoned xenos blade, known as the Kinebrach Anathame on the moon of Davin, First Chaplain Erebus of the Word Bearers Legion, who had been suborned to the Luna Wolves Legion as an advisor, saw his chance to further his own designs for the Chaos Gods. He persuaded the Luna Wolves' Warrior Lodge to allow a group of Davinite shamans -- Chaos Cultists all -- located on the surface of Davin at the Temple of the Serpent Lodge to heal him. The Luna Wolves, besides themselves with grief and the fear that their beloved Primarch would die, agreed to the suggestion, despite its direct violation of the creeds of the Imperial Truth.
During the dark rituals that followed within the temple, Horus' spirit was transferred from his body into the Immaterium. There, he bore witness to a nightmare vision of the future. He saw the Imperium of Man as a repressive, violent theocracy, where the Emperor and several of his Primarchs (but not Horus) were worshiped as gods by the masses. While this vision of the Imperial future granted by the Chaos Gods was a true one, it was ironically an outcome largely created by the Warmaster's own actions. Magnus had also travelled into the Warp via sorcery to try and stop Horus from turning to Chaos. Magnus explained that the Warmaster's vision was only one of many possible futures, but one that Horus alone could prevent. Horus, already jealous and resentful of the Emperor, proved all too receptive to the Ruinous Powers' false vision. During his sojourn across the Warp, Magnus realised the treachery ran deeper than he had first thought. It seemed the powers that sought to ensnare Horus had already claimed others who were in thrall to Chaos -- Lorgar and his Word Bearers. Now that events had been set in motion, Magnus ordered Amon, Ahriman and the rest of the Corvidae Cult to unravel the strands of the future. The Thousand Sons needed to know more of what was to come. He ordered them to do whatever it took -- whatever the cost might be.
The Burning of Prospero
- "We are the Red Sorcerers of Prospero, damned in the eyes of our fellows, and this is to be how our story ends, in betrayal and bloodshed. No...you may find it nobler to suffer your fate, but I will take arms against it."
Magnus next attempted to forewarn the Emperor of the impending betrayal of his favourite son. However, knowing that he would have to find a means of quickly warning the Emperor, Magnus used sorcery to send his message to the Emperor. The message penetrated the potent psychic defences of the Imperial Palace on Terra, shattering all the psychic wards the Emperor had placed on the Palace -- including those within His secret project in the Imperial Palace's dungeons, where He was proceeding with the creation of the human extension into the Webway. Refusing to believe that Horus, His most beloved and trusted son, would actually betray Him, the Emperor instead mistakenly perceived the traitor to the Imperium to be Magnus and his Thousand Sons, who had long suffered from a near-debilitating run of mutations because of the instability of Magnus' own genome as well as being practicioners of sorcery that brought them into constant contact with the dangerous entities of the Empyrean. The Emperor ordered the Primarch Leman Russ, Magnus' greatest rival, to mobilise his Space Wolves Legion and the witchhunters known as the Sisters of Silence and take Magnus into custody to be returned to Terra to stand trial for violating the Council of Nikaea's prohibitions against the use of sorcery within the Imperium. While en route to the Thousand Sons Legion's homeworld of Prospero, Horus convinced Russ, who had always been repelled by Magnus' reliance on psychic powers, to launch a full assault on Prospero instead even though Magnus had been entirely willing to face the Emperor's judgment once he realised he was being manipulated by the entities that called the Immaterium home.
Amon's loyalty and confidence to Magnus was severely shaken when he discovered that his Primarch had murdered Captain Baleq Uthizzar, the Captain of the 5th Fellowship and Magister Templi of the Athanean Cult, for knowing too much about the impending assault by the encroaching Space Wolves Legion. Taking Amon into his confidence, the Primarch and his former tutor traveled the Aether together in their astral forms. Magnus showed Amon the approaching fleet of the VI Legion. He admitted to his former tutor that he had been wrong about everything. All the things that Amon had taught the adolescent Primarch had been arrogantly dismissed out of hand, for Magnus presumed he already knew. He had been warned by Amon about the gods of the Warp, which the Primarch had rejected, calling his tutor a superstitious old fool. The Primarch confessed that he had done terrible things, but he tried to convince Amon that he had done them for the right reasons. Magnus had drawn a veil around Prospero. None could see out as their punishment drew closer, not even the sorcerers of the Corvidae Cult. Magnus accepted his punishment for his hubris, and would sit by and do nothing as his Legion was wiped out for their violation of the Emperor's Decree Absolute at Nikaea.
Amon could not abide his Primarch's decision, whether it was the right thing to do or not. He could not sit idly by and accept the inevitability of the Thousand Sons' pre-ordained destiny. Magnus explained to his oldest friend the reason he had not struck at the Space Wolves' because it was what the Ruinous Powers had wanted him to do since he had first come to Prospero by their design. The Chaos Gods wanted Magnus to take arms against their doom, knowing that if he did, it would only confirm everything those who hated and feared the Thousand Sons had always believed. In that moment of his Primarch's dire revelation, Amon confessed to his gene-sire that before Magnus had come to Prospero he had suffered a recurring nightmare. Amon had dreamt that everything he held dear was swept away and destroyed. It plagued him for years, but on the day the infant Primarch had arrived from the heavens like a comet, the dream stopped. He never had it again. Amon convinced himself that it was nothing more than an ancestral memory of Old Night, but it was not. He knew that now, for he had foreseen this moment in time. The destruction of everything he held dear was coming to pass.
Despite everything Magnus had done, he believed that his fate was his own. He was a loyal son of the Emperor, and he would never betray Him, for the Primarch had already broken His father's heart and His greatest creation, the Terran Webway extension. Magnus intended to accept his fate and though history might judge the Thousand Sons Traitors, at least Magnus and his sons would know the truth. They would know that they were loyal unto the end because they accepted their fate. Magnus urged Amon to do the same. Amon refused to acquiesce to his gene-sire's wishes. He would not sit passively by, waiting to die like some infirm, decrepit animal. Amon would fight for his people and his home.
After the Space Wolves' fleet translated in-system, they proceeded to destroy Prospero's orbital defences. They then commenced with a tremendous orbital bombardment that reduced Prospero to cinders, except its capital, Tizca, a beautiful city and the seat of Magnus and the XV Legion, that was at all times protected by a powerful psychic kine-shield. This shield was maintained by one of the Thousand Sons' sorcerous cults, and Magnus did not disable it, knowing that such action would alert his Legion. Because of the shield, an Imperial invasion of Tizca had to take place. A huge force of landing vehicles and support craft descended on the city, whose defences had been left mostly unmanned. Establishing a beachhead in the spaceport area, the Space Wolves began slaughtering thousands of Prosperines and burning everything in sight. Yet the Thousand Sons' rank-and-file did not share Magnus' acceptance of defeat and punishment, so they took up arms against the Loyalist invaders. The Thousand Sons managed to hold Tizca (the only surviving city on the planet) for a period of time before they were eventually pushed back.
Before Magnus reluctantly faced the wrath of his brother, Leman Russ, he entrusted Amon with a precious gift, his most prized possession, the Book of Magnus. This massive tome contained the collected knowledge of sorcery as dictated by Magnus. It was said that this work was one of the most complete treatises on psykers, witchcraft and sorcery in the galaxy, a compilation of all the knowledge and experiments gathered by Magnus during the conquests the Thousand Sons made for the Imperium during the Great Crusade. Amon was charged with its safekeeping and to ensure that it was passed on to Chief Librarian Ahriman. Magnus eventually, reluctantly, took to the battle against the Loyalist forces when Leman Russ and his Wulfen were unleashed on the last Pyramid of Tizca still standing. At the height of the battle, Magnus and Leman Russ took part in a devastating duel in which Russ was ultimately victorious. Mortally wounded, with his back broken, Magnus invoked ancient sorceries in order to escape Prospero by opening a gateway through the Warp into the Eye of Terror where a Daemon World (the Planet of the Sorcerers) had been prepared for Magnus and the remnants of his Legion by their new patron god, Tzeentch. Magnus was subsequently "rewarded" by Tzeentch by being transformed into a Daemon Prince.
Rubric of Ahriman
Following their exile into the Eye of Terror, Ahriman's love and admiration for his gene-sire had turned to hatred and contempt. When the "flesh-change" once again ran rampant amongst the survivors of the Thousand Sons and Magnus seemed to accept it, Ahriman set out to find a cure for the flesh-change himself. In his own hatred and hubris and utterly unaware of the ludicrousness of attempting to use the very energy of change to stop change, Ahriman delved into the sorcerous knowledge held in the Book of Magnus. Distilling the colossal collections of formulae, incantations and rites, and infusing the results with his own hatred of Magnus and angst at the fate of his Legion, Ahriman devised the canvas of a mighty arcane spell that would ultimately undo all the woe that had befallen his Battle-Brothers and thus protect them from the flesh-change for all eternity. Preliminary testing of the spell he called the Rubric generated great promise,but he quickly discovered that he lacked the raw power required to achieve permanent results. He then set to work gathering those amongst the remaining officers of the Thousand Sons who, like him, were disgusted by what had befallen their Legion and their Primarch. Gathering in a fell circle around Ahriman, this cabal of sorcerers lent their power to Ahriman, who then unleashed the full power of his desperate spell.
Amon was amongst those who had joined Ahriman's breakaway cabal, those who had always been the most headstrong and those with the most psychic power in the XV Legion. Those that had remained faithful to the Primarch were the second-rate, the ones who had not dared to join the casting of the Rubric. The countersorcery affected them all, preserving less than a hundred of the Legion's sorcerers and condemning the rest, the Rubricae, to dust. The majority of Battle-Brothers of the Legion who lacked the psychic gift could not deal with the cataclysmic amounts of sorcerous energy which poured into them. Their flesh burned on the spot, their bodies reduced to ash inside their armour. And yet, the energies released sealed all the joints of their Power Armour as it burned their bodies. When their souls attempted to depart their ruined bodies, they found themselves trapped inside their armour; dead, yet still alive, without a body but unchanging for all eternity.
In the aftermath of the cataclysm, it became clear that the Rubric had either succeeded beyond all possible expectations or failed abominably, depending on how one looked at it. Ahriman himself, along with most of his cabal, were horrified by the result. Their brethren were now as they had intended, protected from the "flesh-change," though they paid for this protection with the destruction of their physical bodies. It was only later that Ahriman saw the awful truth of what he had wrought. Instead of purging the flesh of ravening mutations, each of the Thousand Sons had been transformed into unliving automata. Magnus, angered beyond reason, assaulted the tower where Ahriman had gathered his coven. The other Chaos Sorcerers immediately knelt and abased themselves before Magnus' fury, but Ahriman remained standing, vindicated in his beliefs and utterly unrepentant. Before the Daemon Primarch could strike down his former Chief Librarian, the Architect of Fate, Tzeentch himself, intervened, staying Magnus' hand. Instead, Ahriman and the rest of his cabal were banished from the Planet of the Sorcerers.
- "It is by the Changer of the Ways that I have power, it is by Magnus the Red that I have life!"
- — Ahriman of the Thousand Sons
As Ahriman was exiled, so too was his cabal, but Amon was determined to find all the secrets of the Rubric and perhaps restore some of his mindless brothers back to life. Over the next one thousand standard years as he continued to amass more power, he founded his own powerful warband known as the Brotherhood of Dust which consisted of many exiled Thousand Sons. He also gathered voidships, other Chaos Space Marines, hundreds of Rubricae and a number of apprentices, who themselves became formidable Chaos Sorcerers in their own right. It was Amon's intent to see the suffering of his Legion ended, for he would undo the fell magic of the Rubric that had doomed his former Battle-Brothers to their unlife, so that he could release their tortured souls. Yet, despite all his grand schemes and designs, he still needed the wayward Ahriman, for only he possessed the necessary knowledge of the Rubric.
Amon sent out emissaries all over the galaxy chasing up rumors, no matter how minor, of the possible whereabouts of the former Thousand Sons Chief Librarian. During his quest, Amon came across other former members of the Thousand Sons. He sent his emissaries to his former brothers in the hopes of enticing them to join his warband. If they accepted, they would become a part of the Brotherhood of Dust, however, those that refused faced the prospect of annihilation -- both themselves and those that followed them. In the meantime, Ahriman had been hiding amongst a Renegade warband dedicated to Khorne, known as The Harrowing. Somehow the Brotherhood of Dust managed to track the psychic spoor of Ahriman to the warband. Amon sent an emissary named Tolbek, a former Thousand Sons Legionary and member of Ahriman's cabal. An adept of the Pyrae Cult in the long-broken traditions of Prospero, Tolbek had been one of the first to join Ahriman's cabal. Tolbek had played his part in the Rubric that destroyed their Legion and shared in their banishment.
Tolbek, escorted by a pair of Rubric Marines, went over to the warband's vessel, the Blood Crescent, to entreat with the warband's leader Gzrel. During the subsequent audience aboard The Harrowing's ship, Tolbek devised the true identity of Ahriman, who had been masquerading as a lowly sorcerous initiate named Horkos -- who was looked upon with contempt by his fellow Renegades as the lowest of the low and an oath-breaker. Recognising Tolbek, and realising his identity had been comprimised, Ahriman unleashed his suppressed sorcerous abilities against both his allies and the Thousand Sons Sorcerer. After killing the majority of The Harrowing's leaders, Ahriman was confronted by Tolbek. Ahriman telepathically invaded Tolbek's mind, attempting to devise why he had been sought out. But the cunning Sorcerer immolated his own mind, attempting to pull Ahriman's psychically-linked mind into oblivion with him. Ahriman just barely managed to escape Tolbek's insidious trap. Tolbek died as his body erupted into flames, immolating itself into a pile of ash.
Before the Chaos Space Marines aboard the warship Tolbek had arrived on realised that their master was now dead, Ahriman took the captured vessel he was aboard and fled into the Warp. During Ahriman's quest to determine who had sought him out, Amon sent numerous minions to do his bidding, including Warp creatures and a half-Daemon Prince, all of which failed to kill him. Despite Amon's best efforts, Ahriman managed to discover his former brother's location and infiltrate his fleet. Unfortunately, before Ahriman could launch a surprise assault upon Amon, he was betrayed by the mistress of the ship he had stolen, his location compromised. Ahriman managed to emerge victorious after battling against three of Amon's Chaos Sorcerers, but was badly wounded during the fighting. Amon eventually appeared in person and subdued the wounded Ahriman with powerful wards of binding and hexes, and brought him aboard his flagship, the Sycorax. While imprisoned, Amon convinced Ahriman to give him the invaluable information he desired so that he could undo the Rubric, and Ahriman finally succumbed.
Ahriman's allies came to rescue him and they managed to effect his escape, but the former Librarian was soon confronted by the angry Amon, who unleashed a powerful psychic attack. During the ensuing duel, Ahriman revealed the final secret of the Rubric to his former brother -- it was a part of all Thousand Sons, bound into their very beings -- the Rubric ran through them all, linking them, sustaining them. Its power was in Ahriman's hands. Unable to pull his mind away from Ahriman, the Chaos Sorcerer caused Amon to spontaneously combust from the powerful psychic energy unleashed from the arcane spell. Amon's armour came apart, each component pulling away from the other, spilling grey dust into the turning wind.
The vortex of power enveloped Ahriman and lifted him into the air, the separate pieces of Amon's armour aligning itself over his unarmoured, splayed body. Then, one plate at a time, they slid into place over Ahriman's flesh. Finally Amon's horned helm slipped over Ahriman's skull. The minds of the living sorcerers of the Brotherhood of Dust teetered on the edge of indecision. The dead Rubricae simply waited. Raising his hands, Ahriman summoned magical flames from the floor which engulfed the red lacquer from the armour of every Rubricae and sorcerer. Then the flames flickered blue, and the silver armour became polished sapphire. Ahriman looked across the ranks of blue armour. Slowly, he knelt and bowed his head. He assumed the mantle of leadership of the Brotherhood of Dust, including its massive fleet and army of followers. It is not known if the Brotherhood of Dust is the same warband, now known as the Prodigal Sons, that Ahriman currently leads in the late 41st Millennium.
The Harvest of Calliope
Amongst Ahriman's countless atrocities, there are those that stand as true testaments to his subtlety, power, and ruthlessness. One such incident is known as the Harvest of Calliope. Calliope was a world of lost knowledge; an entire planet given over to the archiving of records from the earliest days of the Imperium all the way to its uncertain present. Stacks of rotting parchment filled caverns extending far beneath its crust, dataspool stations ringed its orbits from pole to pole, and its cities sprawled around the Index Vaults. Every soul on Calliope existed to service the archive, from the hunters who stalked vermin in the deep parchment stacks, to the scribes who fought for control of the hundreds of contradictory indexes; all were bound to the ecology of the archive. So it had been for a time since before any could remember, and so it seemed things would continue. Until something changed.
A faction arose within the caste of indexers. This faction called for the unification of all the indexes into an endlessly extending formula. They called themselves the Summation. Where the idea had first come from none were certain, but once it took hold it bloomed like a flower in sunlight. The Summation’s power grew generation by generation until its rule of Calliope was uncontested. Centuries passed and billions laboured to further the Summation's goal. At last, they succeeded. On the day of the Emperor’s Ascension, in the High Hall of Indexes, a scribe wrote the final line of symbols to complete the formula, and in that instant Calliope fell silent.
When an Imperial voidship arrived at Calliope a standard decade later, it found a few starved people living amongst the dry corpses of the dead. None of the survivors could remember anything for more than a few seconds. Stranger still, the great archives were blank, every datastore empty, and every page of parchment bare. The only mark remaining to tell of the algorithmic seed Ahriman planted, and then harvested millennia later, was a single image, hovering in the lost memories of the survivors’ blasted minds: the image of a figure in a horned helm wreathed in flame stepping from a wound in the air.
The Death of Dianixis
Ahriman had long sought the skull of Lepidus, a dead hero of the 2nd Black Crusade, for reasons that remain his own. The skull, dipped in silver and engraved with ten thousand words of detestation, lay in the polar shrine city on the world of Dianaxis. A conspiracy to obtain the skull by guile had already failed, so Ahriman turned to more direct means. Since the end of the Scouring, countless billions have fought and died in the shadow of the Eye of Terror. For almost eight Terran millennia the remains of many of these honoured dead lay on Dianaxis. Heaps of charred bones, the serene bodies of Imperial martyrs, and the polished skulls of Space Marines all came to the mausoleum world. On the surface of Dianaxis, the plains of bones extended from shrine city to shrine city, and grew ever deeper with each passing year. The cities themselves were built from the skulls and bones of the most heroic dead. So sacred and revered was Dianaxis that a dozen Space Marine Chapters maintained honour guards and bastions on its surface. Star fortresses ringed its approaches, and millions of troops stood sentinel over the skulls of those who had died to hold the darkness in abeyance.
Across the reaches of space, Ahriman burned worlds and sent souls shrieking into the Warp. As the murdered worlds spun into alignment with each other they created an arcane pattern in the stars with Dianaxis at its heart. As the great design locked into place, Dianaxis' sun was pulled from reality, leaving a howling wound in the sky of the mausoleum world. Blood and fire spread across the heavens. The bones of the dead howled the last thoughts of their lives, and rainbow fire crawled across the ossuary towers. Daemons poured through the hole that had been the sun, tumbling onto the mausoleum world like falling stars. The Imperial defenders screamed as the children of Chaos ate their souls.
Amidst the slaughter, Ahriman appeared outlined in lightning, ringed by sorcerers and rubricae. Power rolled from the circle of sorcerers and they strode through the battle, killing the defenders and dissolving daemons with arcane fire. Space Marine Chapter Honour Guards came against him, but were reduced to ashes and silent screams with a gesture. Fire Bane, the last Warlord-class Titan of the Legio Officium, strode to war from its shrine. The cry of its warhorns echoed across the damned world, and its weapons burnt a path towards Ahriman’s circle. Drawing together the power of his fellow sorcerers, Ahriman forced the war machine to its knees, before pulling the core of its plasma reactor through its carapace. At last, Ahriman held the skull of Lepidus in his hand, as the battle between men and daemons raged around him. Raising the skull to his eyes he found the one word he sought etched on the skull's surface. Letting the skull fall from his hand, he and his forces vanished, leaving the world of bones to the howls of daemons and the cries of the dying.
The 13th Black Crusade
- "Knowledge is power, but power is nothing without purpose. You may hold in your hand the power to remake all things, but if you do not know what you would change, then you hold nothing at all."
- — Ahriman of the Thousand Sons
In his quest for the forbidden knowledge of the Eldar's Black Library, Ahriman is known to have breached the Eldar Webway twice, both times during the 13th Black Crusade in 999.M41. In the first instance, Ahriman was able to gain access to the Eldar Webway using knowledge extracted from the captured Inquisitor Bronislaw Czevak. Czevak had been the only human ever invited by the Eldar to be a "guest" of the hidden Eldar Craftworld that is the Black Library -- in reality he had been used by the Eldar as bait and a foil for Ahriman. Ahriman subsequently entered the Webway through a long-forgotten portal that was discovered by his minions on the world of Etiamnum III, a planet bequeathed to the care of the Imperium by the Eldar of Craftworld Altansar before that Craftworld had been lost in the Eye of Terror millennia before. This intrusion was considered a major setback by the Eldar Farseers who had failed to foresee it, and none other than Eldrad Ulthran himself, the greatest of the Eldar Farseers, had to be summoned from Ulthwé to lead the Eldar defence against the breach. Ahriman was eventually repulsed, and the Webway gate he had used to gain entry was sealed, never to be opened again. The secretive Order Psykana, which consists exclusively of Blood Ravens Librarians, was also called to help defeat the Traitors but arrived too late, and they subsequently took over the protection of the Imperial Reclusium that housed the portal.
A short time later, Ahriman's prodigious psychic and occult powers allowed him to foresee a rip in the Webway inadvertently caused by the Blood Ravens Librarian Rhamah near the planet Lorn V during the Chapter's operations on that Ice World. Accompanied by a warband of Thousand Sons Sorcerers he called the Prodigal Sons, Ahriman approached the planet under stealth, and used his sorcery, the aid of daemons, and the transdimensional rip caused by Rhamah to find a Webway portal to Arcadia, the Eldar Planet of Law. The world was the exclusive domain of Harlequins, and contained a masterfully concealed Eldar settlement including an extensive Librarium, a repository of Eldar history and technology. Ahriman utilised a book that was considered a myth, The Tome of Karebennian, which he had taken from the Eldar Solitaire of the same name, to attempt to find one of the Arcadian Webway portals leading to the Black Library. He additionally sought to steal an artefact known as the Sword of Lanthrilaq, a potent weapon used by the Eldar aeons ago against the C'tan, during the War in Heaven, which was held by Arcadia's Great Harlequin. Ahriman and the Prodigal Sons had also captured the Daemonifuge and former Sister of Battle Ephrael Stern, who he intended to use against his rivals following his conquest of the Black Library. Despite summoning a Leviathan, a giant flying Warp beast similar in size and shape to a manta ray, and inflicting horrendous casualties on both sides of the conflict, Ahriman was ejected from the Webway with his goal unattained.
Following the end of the 13th Black Crusade, Ahriman's star is once again on the rise with the Thousand Sons' Daemon Primarch Magnus the Red, mostly due to the great chaos caused by his battles against the Eldar within the Webway, the prowess he displayed in capturing Inquistor Czevak, and the extraordinary knowledge and ability required to even come close to entering the fabled Black Library. It is rumoured that if Ahriman ever gained entry into the Black Library, he could use the information contained within it to become a new and powerful Chaos God within the Warp.
Ahriman refuses to acknowledge either Tzeentch or Chaos itself as his master. Across the ensuing millennia he has become a scourge of the Imperium, raiding ancient museums, librarium, scholaria and reclusia, places of learning, religion and contemplative thought. He seeks to acquire artefacts, data, or even persons he believes can lead him to master the way of the sorcerer. He fosters Chaos Cults on dozens of worlds at a time, providing the cults' magi with sorcerous power until such time as they have acquired some antiquarian trinket or satisfied another of Ahriman's demands before turning the wrath of his Thousand Sons' warband of Chaos Space Marines, the Prodigal Sons, upon them and seizing all they have for himself.
Across a thousand worlds, Ahriman has sought the keys to save what he has already destroyed -- the Thousand Sons Legion. The scars of his obsession have made his name a curse in the mouths of humans and aliens alike. Scraps of lore, artefacts both obscure and profane, and rare souls draw him like a raven to a corpse. To the Eldar, he is the carrion scribe who eats the souls of their dying race for secrets; to the Inquisitors of the Ordo Malleus he is the lightning rod which brings a storm of daemons; amongst the servants of Chaos he is a flame of power and trickery as likely to burn those drawn to his light as to illuminate them.
A master of subtle manipulation, Ahriman has seeded cults on a hundred worlds, and bent the desires of the powerful to achieve his ends. With conspiracies and plots spread across the galaxy, he coils between them, a puppet master pulling invisible strings. When such subtle means are impossible he wages a sorcerer’s war, forcing armies to kneel with visions of terror, shattering war machines with invisible forces, and ripping the souls from mighty heroes. He knows the true names of 9x9x9 daemons, and possesses pacts which can bring daemonic armies flocking to his call. Worlds have burned at his command, billions have fallen to the hunger of the Warp, and reality has bled at the fury of his power.
Ten Terran millennia have passed in the realms beyond the Eye of Terror, and still Ahriman walks his path of exile towards the promise of a distant salvation. Perhaps Ahriman has already tried to undo the damage of the past and failed, but, as the light of the Imperium gutters, his steps take him ever closer to the answers he has sought for so long. The shadow of secrets, lost since before humans ever stared up at the stars, lingers on the horizon in the elusive Black Library, calling Ahriman ever on, down the road into the future. Flames light that road, and the bones of the dead and the ashes of murdered worlds pave its course. None, except perhaps Tzeentch, who watches all and laughs the song of fate, know what awaits Ahriman at the end of that road, but if he should reach its end, the universe will tremble.
Wargear and Abilities
- "The fool, the coward, and the ignorant proclaim that the warp is a realm of unknowable peril and indescribable terror, that it is the hell of countless ancient myths and legends. This is a lie, told by those whose authority is based on lies, to keep the masses terrified of the unknown. The warp is limitless in power and its secrets are infinite; it is knowledge and strength, life and death, and the untapped potential to make and remake worlds. It takes only the discipline and the will to shape it; those who lack that clarity of purpose are liable to be shaped by it instead."
Ahriman is a true master of sorcery and one of the most powerful psykers in the galaxy. His knowledge of the dark arts is rivaled only by the Greater Daemons of his patron Chaos God, the terrible Lords of Change. In addition to the multitude of Chaotic psychic powers he can call upon, Ahriman is armed with the Black Staff of Ahriman; an ornate Force Weapon which provides a potent focus for his psychic energy. He also carries an enchanted Bolt Pistol that fires powerful Inferno Rounds similar to the weapons used by the Chaos Space Marines of his Thousand Sons warband.
Ahriman, known also as Angra Mainyu and also Aŋra Mainiiu, is the name of the "destructive spirit" or Satan-like figure of the dualistic Zoroastrian faith of ancient Persia. The name Ormuzdh, also Ahura Mazda, Ohrmazd, Ahuramazda, Hourmazd, Hormazd, and Hurmuz, is the Avestan name for a higher divinity of the Old Iranian religion who was proclaimed as the uncreated God by Zoroaster, the prophet and founder of the ancient dualistic faith of Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism was the primary religion of the Persian Empire until the Islamic conquest of the 7th century AD. Ahura Mazda is described as the highest deity of worship in Zoroastrianism, along with being the first and most frequently invoked deity, while Ahriman would be his equal and opposite. Many scholars believe that the Judeo-Christian concept of Satan or the Devil traces back to the Zoroastrian Ahriman, an influence enacted upon the Jews during their sojourn in Babylon as part of the Persian Empire after the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II in 587 BC.
In the novel A Thousand Sons, there are many references to ancient historical Terran texts or curios related to the occult within Ahriman's private sanctum, including:
- Visconti-Sforza Tarot Deck - This is a 15th century AD Tarot deck and one of the oldest known to exist. It had a significant impact on the visual composition, card numbering and interpretation of modern decks. The surviving cards are of particular historical interest because of the beauty and detail of the design, which was often executed in precious materials and often reproduce members of the Renaissance Italian Sforza and Visconti families in period garments and settings. Consequently, the cards also offer a glimpse of noble life in Milan, which the two families called home since the 13th century AD.
- Voynich Manuscript - This is an illustrated codex hand-written in an unknown writing system. The book has been carbon-dated to the early 15th century AD (1404–1438), and may have been composed in Northern Italy during the Italian Renaissance. The manuscript is named after Wilfrid Voynich, a book dealer who purchased it in 1912. Ahriman was said to possess a translated copy of this ancient text amongst his collection.
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pg. 60
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition) pp. 50-51
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex), pg. 62
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 1st Codex), pg. 26
- Codex: Chaos (2nd Edition), pp. 106-108
- Daemonifuge (Graphic Novel Series) by Kev Walker and Jim Campbell
- Index Astartes I, "Psykana Librarius: Space Marine Librarians"
- Index Astartes III, "Masters of Forbidden Knowledge - The Thousand Sons Space Marine Legion", pp. 62-69
- Warhammer 40,000: Warlords of the Dark Millennium - Ahriman, pp. 3-4, 6-12, 25-29
- White Dwarf 267 (US), "Index Astartes First Founding: Masters of Forbidden Knowledge, The Thousand Sons Space Marine Legion"
- White Dwarf 258 (UK), "Psykana Librarius: Space Marine Librarians"
- White Dwarf 230 (US), "Bitter and Twisted: Ahriman"
- White Dwarf 227 (US), "Chapter Approved - Ahriman: Chaos Sorcerer, pp. 73-80
- White Dwarf 202 (US), "The Sorcerer: Tzeentch, Ahriman", pp. 9-14
- A Thousand Sons (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Blood Ravens: Dawn of War Omnibus (Novel compilation) by C.S. Goto
- Atlas Infernal (Novel) by Rob Sanders
- Ahriman: Exile (Novel) by John French