A Dark Apostle is the Chaplain and one of the de facto leaders of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion, second in power and command only to the Legion's Primarch Lorgar. The Dark Apostles rule the XVII Legion through the instrument of the Dark Council that is comprised of the most senior of their membership. Like all of the Chaos Space Marines of the Word Bearers Legion, the Dark Apostles worship all the Dark Gods in the form of Chaos Undivided rather than any single one of the Chaos Gods. Even before the Horus Heresy, the Dark Apostles had gleefully redirected the XVII Legion's fanatical zeal from the preaching of their flawed version of the Imperial Truth which held the Emperor of Mankind to be the one, true God of humanity to howling the praises of the Ruinous Powers.
Dark Apostles serve the Word Bearers in the role once filled by the Chaplains of a Space Marine Legion. They lead their Battle-Brothers in sermons and litanies worshipping and praising the Chaos Gods during both peacetime and war. A Dark Apostle of any Word Bearers Host is a seasoned summoner of daemons who is capable of summoning several in quick succession from the Warp, though at the cost of damage to the daemon's physical being, thus shortening the amount of time that the daemon can spend on the physical plane. Dark Apostles are said to be aloof, mysterious and charismatic as well as a step above the Battle-Brothers of their Host. The only person with equal rank within one of the Word Bearers' Hosts to the Dark Apostle would be the Coryphaus, the primary combat commander in the Host and the person who serves as the bridge between the Dark Apostle and the rank-and-file Chaos Space Marines of the Host.
Dark Apostles still carry their ritual Crozius Arcanum as they did before their fall, although the resulting Accursed Crozius has long since been corrupted and debased into a deadly icon dedicated to the service of the Chaos Gods. Not only does this make them lethal close assault weapons, it also marks the bearer as receiving the dark favour of the Ruinous Powers, granting him protection from his enemies and allowing him a much deeper connection with the denizens of the Warp. Dark Apostles are said to be served by a senior warleader and an apprentice in each Host they command. The senior warleader is called a Coryphaus and leads the Word Bearers Host in battle. His orders are second only to those of the Dark Apostle. The apprentice of the Dark Apostle is named as the Host's First Acolyte and will inherit a portion of the Host when the Dark Apostle and the Dark Council see fit to allow it.
The oldest and most venerated of the Dark Apostles are those that sit on the Dark Council. These venerable Chaos Space Marines were members of the XVII Legion during the initial corruption of the Word Bearers by Erebus and First Captain Kor Phaeron decades before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy. They have survived and thrived through the Heresy and corrupted untold billions of mortals into worshipping the Chaos Gods. The Dark Council now rules the Word Bearers from the Daemon World of Sicarus in the name of Lorgar, and only the Dark Council can appoint a new Dark Apostle should one of their number fall.
Dark Apostles start their career as a standard Chaos Space Marine and must earn the right through their deeds to be elevated to the rank of Dark Apostle. First, they must show their unfaltering devotion towards Chaos Undivided by earning the Mark of Chaos Undivided. Only such a successful Chaos Champion will be considered for possible promotion. Second, they must earn the favour of the current Dark Apostle of their Host, and become their First Acolyte, serving as the factotum to the current Dark Apostle. If he is not slain in battle, or killed by his master, a First Acolyte will eventually rise to the rank of Dark Apostle. The Acolyte can either bide his time and wait for the current Dark Apostle to fall in battle, hoping to secure the position by the edict of the Dark Council, or he can be more proactive, and kill his mentor himself and await the Dark Council's appointment as the new Dark Apostle. In any case, the First Acolyte will need the Dark Council's blessings to become a Dark Apostle, and it is not unheard of for the Dark Council to decide to purge the whole ruling cadre of a Host when a Dark Apostle dies. Usually the untimely death of a Dark Apostle is marked with weeks of rituals and ceremonies held in his commemoration, while during that time the Captains of the dead Dark Apostle's Host are summarily executed for allowing such a thing to happen. The remains of the Host are either absorbed into the ranks of the Host of a more able Dark Apostle, or a Dark Apostle is appointed from somewhere else in the Legion to become the new leader of the affected Host. Thus, a promising First Acolyte will sometimes be promoted to command of his own Host without inheriting the position of his former master, or slain outright for failing to safeguard his master. The will of the Dark Council is the sole judge in this outcome, and their actions will be directed by the will of the Dark Gods.
Dark Apostles in Combat
When Dark Apostles go to war they are terrifying to behold, for the Apostles are fueled by their indomitable faith, daemonic blessings and the super-human might of a Space Marine. Few can stand and fight against a Dark Apostle and live to tell the tale. The Dark Apostles (and all of the Word Bearers for that matter) hold a certain hatred for the Adeptus Ministorum (the Ecclesiarchy) and all those who ally with it. They take great pleasure in destroying Imperial temples, burning Imperial Cult religious banners and above all killing Missionaries, Sisters of the Adepta Sororitas and if possible Ordo Hereticus Inquisitors.
In battle Dark Apostles are skilled demagogues, able to exhort followers to greater acts of bravery and depravity. Their strategies sometimes border on prescience and enemy commanders have often found out to their cost that the only way to truly blunt an attack by such fanatics is to either remove the Apostle, or destroy each and every Word Bearer facing them to the last superhuman.
The main armament of the Dark Apostles is a corrupted Crozius Arcanum known as an Accursed Crozius, a perverted version of the Adeptus Astartes' primary weapon for Chaplains but the weapon still still serves to show their faith in the Ruinous Powers of Chaos. Although they have unlimited access to the Word Bearers' Armoury, they commonly prefer customized Power Armour and a very ornate Bolt Pistol. A First Acolyte or Dark Apostle will also commonly employ a daemon-possessed weapon, likely a Chainsword or Chain Axe and a standard Bolt Pistol. A few of the Dark Apostles or First Acolytes will sometimes make use of other weapons beside the Crozius Arcanum or a daemon-possessed weapon, swapping them for heavy duty weapons such as a Heavy Bolter or use a different form of a melee weapon.
Notable Dark Apostles and First Acolytes
- Kor Phaeron - Kor Phaeron was the First Captain and Black Cardinal (High Priest) of the Word Bearers Legion. He served as a spiritual counsel and foster father during the years of the Primarch Lorgar's youth on the Word Bearers' homeworld of Colchis, before Lorgar was rediscovered by the Imperium of Man in the late 30th Millennium during the Great Crusade. It was Kor Phaeron's influence and continuing devotion to the Colchisian Old Faith -- a faith dedicated to the Dark Gods -- that corrupted his Primarch and the XVII Legion into repudiating their oaths to the Emperor of Mankind and becoming willing pawns of Chaos.
- Erebus - Erebus held the prestigious position of First Chaplain of the Word Bearers Legion at the end of the Great Crusade in the early 31st Millennium. He was a fearsome and intimidating Astartes warrior and wore tattoos depicting sections of the Book of Lorgar across his shaven scalp to terrify his enemies. Erebus was the first of the Space Marines to knowingly turn to Chaos and became the chief architect of the events that led directly to the Horus Heresy. He was personally responsible for corrupting his Primarch Lorgar, the Warmaster Horus and the Death Guard's First Captain Calas Typhon to the worship and service of Chaos. He is presently a member of the ruling body known as the Dark Council of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion and has an ongoing but subtle war with Kor Phaeron for control of the XVII Legion's direction since Lorgar has spent the last 10 millennia in communion with the Ruinous Powers.
- Ekodas - Ekodas is a Word Bearers Grand Apostle. Kor Phaeron, in his role as Black Cardinal of the Word Bearers' Chaotic faith, bestowed the title of Grand Apostle upon Ekodas, who served as the senior-most member of the ruling Dark Council of the XVII Legion after the end of the Horus Heresy. However, he was also a secret member of The Brotherhood -- a clandestine, internal sect within the Word Bearers Legion that had been formed at three different periods during the Legion's history to maintain the Word Bearers' theological purity. The craggy-faced holy leader of the Legion's 7th Host, Ekodas led a holy crusade of retribution against the Black Consuls, almost wiping that cursed Chapter, a successor of the Word Bearers' rivals the Ultramarines, from the galaxy.
- Jarulek -Jarulek was a Dark Apostle who had served as a former First Acolyte to the Dark Apostle known as The Warmonger during the Horus Heresy during the assault on the Imperial Palace at the Battle of Terra. He later served as the Coryphaus to First Captain Kor Phaeron. Through his extreme devotion to Chaos Undivided, furious passion and fiery oratory he brought countless millions into the truth of the Eight-Fold Path. Millions more who had chosen to remain ignorant and resistant to the true faith had been slain upon his orders. Jarulek was himself slain on the world of Tanakreg by an awakened Necron Lord after successfully recovering a potent artefact from the Necrons' stasis tomb.
- Marduk - Marduk was a Dark Apostle and the former First Acolyte of Jarulek. He was a member of The Brotherhood , an organisation secretly formed within the XVII Legion which, in the years before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, eliminated all those Word Bearers who failed to comply with the new direction of the Legion following the conversion of Lorgar to the service of the Chaos Gods, including all of the Terran-born Word Bearers. Marduk fought at the Battle of Calth against the Ultramarines Legion during the Heresy and was elevated to the position of Dark Apostle and leader of the 34th Host following the death of his former master at the hands of a Necron Lord on the world of Tanakreg in the late 41st Millennium.
- Ankh-Heloth - Ankh-Heloth was the Dark Apostle who led the XVII Legion's 11th Host. Ankh-Heloth had risen to the position of Dark Apostle under dubious circumstances. While it was the Dark Council of Sicarus that had made Ankh-Heloth the First Acolyte of the 11th Host, this was only at Grand Apostle Ekodas' insistence. Less than a decade later, Ankh-Heloth ascended to the position of Dark Apostle after his predecessor was killed under circumstances engineered, many believed, by Ekodas. Ankh-Heloth did not garner much respect from his fellow Dark Apostles of the Dark Council, many of whom regarded him as "Edokas' whipping boy."
- Sarabdal - Sarabdal was the Dark Apostle of the XVII Legion's 18th Host. Within the elite ranks of the cadre known as the Dark Council, Dark Apostle Sarabdal had led his Host the longest. Sarabdal had been groomed to become the Dark Apostle of the 18th Host by none other than Lorgar himself. Raised in the scriptorums of Colchis, Sarabdal had been little more than a child when he had taken part in the brutal Schism Wars that fractured the Covenant, the dominant religious order of that Feudal World before the arrival of the Emperor of Mankind. Impressed with the youngster’s religious fanaticism for his new faith and fiery demeanour, Lorgar had taken the boy under his wing and once reunited with his Legion after the Imperial takeover of Colchis, had personally chosen Sarabdal as one of the first Colchisian natives to join the Word Bearers. Few Dark Apostles garnered more respect than Sarabdal. Other Dark Apostles even bowed in his venerable presence.
- Belagosa - Dark Apostle of the XVII Legion's 30th Host, Belagosa was a tall and gaunt figure. In an act of devout faith, Belagosa had clawed out his own eyes centuries ago. Nevertheless, he was still able to turn his head towards the direction of those that spoke to him, his empty eye sockets still far from blind, which bled red tears down his cheeks as a gift from the Dark Gods for his devotion.
- Sor Talgron, The Warmonger - Though he had risen to become a Dark Apostle, Sor Talgron had once served as the Captain of the XVII Legion's 34th Company during the Great Crusade. He took part in bringing the world designated Forty-Seven Sixteen into Imperial Compliance. He was stationed on Terra during the Horus Heresy. He was known to have worn Terminator Armour with a Chaplain's Skull Helm. Captain Talgron fought at the walls of the Imperial Palace during the Battle of Terra. Eventually, Talgron rose to the rank of Dark Apostle. Talgron was mortally wounded in battle and interred within the chassis of a Chaos Dreadnought. However, he has managed to retain most of his sanity through the willpower instilled by his dark faith, though at times his hold on reality slips, and he believes he is once against fighting alongside his Primarch during the Horus Heresy. Since his interment within the Dreadnought's sarcophagus, Talgron has only been known as "The Wamonger."
- Mothac - Mothac was a Dark Apostle who was encased within ensorcelled daemonic armour that was a gift from the Daemon Primarch Lorgar. He was the keeper of the forbidden tome known as The Dark Creed, a thick book bound in the skin of fallen Ultramarines. This book contained the holy writings of Lorgar after the Horus Heresy and the XVII Legion's flight to the Daemon World of Sicarus within the Eye of Terror.
- Paristur - Dark Apostle Paristur was a member of the Dark Council, the ruling body of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion. Shrewd and savage, he had killed the Blood Angels Chaplain Aristedes in single combat on the walls of the Imperial Palace during the Battle of Terra.
- Angra Mainyu - Angra Mainyu was a formerly favoured Dark Apostle of the Word Bearers who fought at the infamous Battle of Calth against the hated Ultramarines Legion. Though Angra was gravely wounded several times leading these assaults, he was miraculously healed. Angra Mainyu had been chosen by the Ruinous Powers of Chaos as a favoured servant for his dutiful worship of their ways. They, in turn, protected him from harm, and he began to walk the path to daemonhood. Over the millennia, Angra became megalomaniacal and insane, maddened by the unholy power of his faith and his own perceived failings. Angra Mainyu’s transfomation into a Daemon Prince came to fruition just before Abaddon the Despoiler's 13th Black Crusade into the Imperium in 999.M41. It was during the 13th Black Crusade that Angra Mainyu lost favour with his patron deities. Angra's growing insanity had led to extremely foolish assaults on the forces of the Imperium that had cost the Forces of Chaos dearly, even though Angra believed that the Chaos Gods favoured him still. The Ruinous Powers are fickle and he soon fell from grace, and was transformed into a mindless Chaos Spawn as punishment. Draas assumed control of his former master's Host, which willingly swore allegiance to its new Dark Apostle.
- Draas the Red Pilgrim - Draas formerly served as one of the three lieutenants to the Dark Apostle Angra Mainyu. He fought at the infamous Battle of Calth as one of Angra's three lieutenants. With the death of Horus, the Word Bearers Legion fled to the Daemon Worlds of Sicarus and Ghalmek within the Eye of Terror and the Maelstrom, respectively. Draas counseled caution to Angra, but by then that Dark Apostle had become thoroughly maddened by the unholy power of his faith and his own perceived failings during the attack on Calth and he lashed out at Drass, banishing him from his sight. Draas assembled his own Host and went about preaching the dark faith to the Imperial worlds near the Eye of Terror. Soon his Host swelled to become a sizable force, and Draas became known to his followers as Draas the Red Pilgrim. Meanwhile Angra had fallen more and more into insanity as his road to daemonic ascension came closer to completion. Angra Mainyu’s transfomation into a Daemon Prince came to fruition just before Abaddon the Despoiler's 13th Black Crusade into the Imperium in 999.M41. It was during the 13th Black Crusade that Angra Mainyu lost favour with his patron deities. Angra's growing insanity had led to extremely foolish assaults on the forces of the Imperium that had cost the Forces of Chaos dearly, even though Angra believed that the Chaos Gods favoured him still. The Ruinous Powers are fickle and he soon fell from grace, and was transformed into a mindless Chaos Spawn as punishment. Draas assumed control of his former master's Host, which willingly swore allegiance to its new Dark Apostle.
- Leyak - Leyak, known as Leyak the Devourer, was a Dark Apostle who led a vast mutant horde numbering in the millions that assaulted the vital Hive World of Hermetica, the capital of the Chonma Sector in the Segmentum Solar in 659.M41. Due to the sheer scale of the Chaos attack, the system's outer defences were soon overwhelmed, and the hive cities of Hermetica itself swiftly became battlegrounds on which its beleaguered defenders fought desperately against the tide of damned horrors that assailed them. The Minotaurs Chapter was the first outside force to respond to Hermetica's strangled pleas for help. The Minotaurs' assault was both devastating and indiscriminate, smashing the capital city's cathedral district's plazas and temples heedless of the cost. The Minotaurs' advance was relentless as they drove the enemy before them along with thousands of trapped civilians. Finally, a Terminator assault force led by Chapter Master Asterion Moloc penetrated deep into the cathedral complex where Leyak was hiding. Moloc slaughtered Leyak's daemon-possessed bodyguard and struck a mortal blow to their hulking, toad-like master, but before the Chapter Master could deliver the final blow, the Dark Apostle fled into the Warp through the use of his black arts.
- Eliphas the Inheritor - Eliphas the Inheritor was a Dark Apostle and the Chaos Champion who lead the Forces of Chaos during the Dark Crusade on Kronus in the late 41st Millennium where he was defeated and slain by the Blood Ravens Space Marines. He was resurrected by the will of the Dark Gods to gain his revenge upon the Blood Ravens and left the Word Bearers Legion behind to ally himself with Abaddon the Despoiler and the Black Legion following his return to life.
- Maloq Kartho - Maloq Kartho is a former Dark Apostle. During the Horus Heresy he took part in the attack on the hated Ultramarines on the world of Calth, where he was eventually slain by Captain Ventanus who used a small flint dagger known as the Shard of Erebus. Rewarding his dark devotion to the Chaos Gods for the bloody slaughter he had wreaked on Calth, Kartho was resurrected as a Daemon Prince named M'kar the Reborn. In his new incarnation, M'kar has been a great bane to the Imperium of Man for over ten millennia.
- Ashkanez -Ashkanez was once the First Acolyte to the Dark Apostle Marduk. Icon Bearer Burias Dark'Shal grew bitter and resentful at the elevation of First Acolyte Marduk to the position of Dark Apostle of the 34th Host. Expecting to rise in power with Marduk to the Dark Council, Ashkanez was elevated instead to the position of First Acolyte of the 34th Host. Seeing his resentment towards his former master, Ashkanez took advantage of Burias' spite and turned the Icon Bearer against Marduk. He then inducted him into the ranks of The Brotherhood, who was now composed of a large number of Word Bearers who were loyal to Kor Phaeron rather than Erebus in the internecine political conflict that was dividing the XVII Legion in Lorgar's absence. In a conspiracy to overthrow Marduk as the Dark Apostle of the 34th Host, The Brotherhood revealed their duplicity openly, following the Battle of Boros Gate, and fought Marduk and those who remained loyal to him in the 34th Host in a massive internecine battle. First Acolyte Ashkanez and his fellow co-conspirators were ultimately all annihilated when Marduk emerged triumphant.
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 13, 35
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition)
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, Revised Codex)
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions, pg. 153
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War, Part Two, pg. 109
- Only War - Enemies of the Imperium (RPG) (Forthcoming)
- Dark Apostle (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds
- Dark Disciple (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds
- Dark Creed (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds
- Dark Apostle: Chaos Showcase by Jason Errington (AU)