- "Perfect ecstasy, boundless cacophony, excessive agony. I must have more!"
- —Anonymous Emperor's Children Chaos Space Marine
The Emperor's Children, also sometimes known after their fall as the Lords of Profligacy, are a Traitor Legion of Chaos Space Marines who devote themselves solely to the service of the Chaos God Slaanesh, the Prince of Pleasure, though they were originally the Imperium of Man's proud IIIrd Legion of Astartes. The Emperor's Children was the only Space Marine Legion to bear the Emperor's own name and His own icon -- the Palatine Aquila -- granted to them by His hand as a symbol of the Legion's martial perfection. Few were ever so honoured amongst the ancient Space Marine Legions and given less cause to betray the Master of Mankind than the Emperor's Children. Given the plaudits and accolades accorded them, few could doubt that they were the embodiment of what the Emperor had intended the Legiones Astartes to be: noble in action and aspect, excelling in all matters, strong, civilised, firm of purpose and loyal to the core.
From this height they descended in treachery to the lowest and vilest of creatures, enslaved to pride and consumed by hedonistic desires that no natural power could fulfill. The Emperor's Children are now a scattered Legion much like their counterparts the World Eaters, their unity devoured by their allegiance to Chaos. The Emperor's Children Legion now exists only as scattered, autonomous warbands located in the Eye of Terror who are dedicated to their own pursuit of corrupt, hedonistic and usually murderous pleasures. The Chaos Space Marines of the Emperor's Children are known for possessing outlandish mutations and surgical alterations as "gifts" from Slaanesh which are designed to make them more "perfect" in the eyes of their twisted patron.
The Emperor's Children Traitor Legion exists for no other purpose but to exceed every extreme and to know every possible sensation. Its warriors are entirely in the thrall of Slaanesh, the Dark Prince of Chaos, but once, the Legion of the Primarch Fulgrim strived for perfection in all they did, and were counted as one of the most dedicated of all of the Emperor's followers. The infant Primarch of the Emperor's Children grew up upon the bleak, dying world of Chemos, a mining colony long fallen to decay and decline as Old Night claimed the domains of Mankind. Isolated from surrounding systems, the industry of Chemos had fallen silent, the mines replaced by the reclamation plants and vapour extraction facilities that kept the dwindling population from vanishing entirely. Within fifty standard years of his arrival on Chemos, Fulgrim had risen to become its leader, and it was his dream that the wonders of long lost ages might be rediscovered and rebuilt. However, it was only when the Emperor came to his world that the Primarch could begin to fully realise his vision.
By that time, it was not simply his homeworld that Fulgrim desired to see elevated to glory, but the entirety of Mankind. When Fulgrim was introduced to the Space Marine Legion that shared his genetic inheritance, he found not a resplendent host as did so many of his brothers, but a mere two hundred Battle-Brothers. An accident had befallen the nascent IIIrd Legion early in the development of its gene-stock, setting it far behind its fellows. Thus, it was necessary that Fulgrim and his warriors be integrated into the ranks of another Legion until such time as their numbers were sufficiently restored for them to take to battle on their own. The Legion to which Fulgrim and his warriors were assigned was the Luna Wolves, the Legion of Horus, and Fulgrim could not have had a better companion at whose side to master the arts of warfare.
From the earliest days of its service to the Great Crusade, the nascent Legion was recognised for its drive to attain perfection in all its deeds. It was in recognition of this drive that the Emperor granted the warriors of the Legion the right to bear the Imperial eagle upon their chest armour, a unique honour at that time. In recognition that the Emperor was the very pinnacle of the perfection Fulgrim aspired to, the IIIrd Legion was named the Emperor's Children, a title it retained even after the calamitous events of the Horus Heresy. Some would say that it was Fulgrim's impossible desire to attain perfection in all that he did that ultimately led him and his Legion into the service of Slaanesh. The exact circumstances of Fulgrim's fall are all but lost to history, but certainly, Horus must have appealed to his refined sensibilities and stoked the fire of what, in retrospect, was an increasingly disturbing quest to attain otherwise unattainable heights of sensation. Gifted with the physique and intellect of a Primarch, no endeavour was beyond Fulgrim's attainment. Having mastered every strategy and tactic of war, he sought ever more esoteric pursuits, turning his hand to every creative pursuit imaginable, from poetry to sculpture.
As his soul was slowly poisoned by the insidious taint of the Prince of Chaos, Fulgrim's passions grew ever darker and his drives ever more extreme. At the last, acting at the behest of Horus, he attempted to persuade his brother Primarch Ferrus Manus of the Iron Hands Legion that factions within the nascent Imperium were aligning themselves against him and his kin, resulting in a bitter confrontation between erstwhile brothers. Though Ferrus survived the confrontation, the reward for Fulgrim was damnation, setting him well and truly upon the road that led to the Emperor's Children siding with the Traitors at Istvaan V, and ultimately to Terra. Though the Emperor's Children were present at the assault on the homeworld of Mankind, they were not numbered amongst the formations that assaulted the mighty fortifications erected by Rogal Dorn, Primarch of the Imperial Fists Legion, to defend the Imperial Palace. While the World Eaters and other Traitor Legions launched assault after assault upon the palace, the Emperor's Children are said to have laid waste to the surrounding city, slaughtering untold thousands, perhaps even millions, of the Emperor's subjects in an orgy of unfettered cruelty. Some have even suggested that the Emperor's Children were using the unprecedented violence of the Battle of Terra to slay sufficient victims to render their vital ﬂuids into some abominable distillation, a stimulant that would grant them access to previously unheard of heights of sensation. In the end, the Battle of Terra was lifted when the Emperor slew the Arch-traitor Horus, and the Emperor's Children were driven from Terra along with the rest of the Traitors. Leaving a trail of desecrated worlds and violated populations, the Emperor's Children joined the ranks of those Legions taking refuge from the Imperium's wrath within the Eye of Terror, beginning a new and devastating series of wars against their erstwhile allies.
The history of the Emperor's Children in the period that followed the defeat of the Traitor Legions at the Battle of Terra is largely obscured from Imperial scholars, for obvious reasons. Perhaps the greatest mystery surrounds the fate of the Primarch Fulgrim himself, for it appears that he disappeared entirely. Some say that the Dark Prince of Chaos granted him apotheosis, and he assumed the mantle of a Daemon Primarch. Others claim that he was already possessed by a powerful Warp entity, and so such a fate could not have come about. There are those that claim that Fulgrim has retreated to some Daemon World of his own creation, and rules there still, overseeing such debased extremes of sensation and experience as no mortal can imagine. Some of those who revere Slaanesh regard this mythical place as the holy of holies, and spend entire lifetimes obsessively questing after it.
The IIIrd Legion was created alongside its brother Space Marine Legions during the latter phases of the Unification Wars on Terra, with many of its finest warriors drawn from the courts and blood vassal populations of Europa. The nobles of Europa selected the finest of their youth and offered them up to the Emperor of Mankind as tribute and penance for their previous defiance after their systematic humiliation in battle at the hands of the Imperial Thunder Regiments. Among them were sons drawn from each noble family, a fact apocryphally said by some Imperial savants of the time to have given the Legion its lasting name, reaffirmed in later years by its Primarch after his rediscovery by the Expeditionary Fleets of the Great Crusade. Of this tithe some Europan noble familes gave in grudging tribute, and thought of these young men as little more than hostages, while others cooperated with the zeal of true converts to the Imperial cause. House Loculus of Komarg is said, for example, to have sent all of its sons to be transformed into Astartes at the time of their capitulation to Imperial rule, and to have given the firstborn son of each generation thereafter to the IIIrd Legion willingly. In later decades, other Terran dynasties followed the example of Europa, filling the ranks of the IIIrd Legion with the flower of Terran youth who seemed well-matched with the aristocratic blood of its Initiates, forming a martial brotherhood whose ancestry in war stretched back into the lost ages of human history.
In these early wars the IIIrd Legion was used to support some of the more notable actions of the nascent Imperial Army, and in many instances to directly lead its troops in battle. This differed notably from many of the First Founding Space Marine Legion forces at this time, who were often deployed as unified commands en masse to serve as shock troops supported by heavy war machinery only. Coordinating and leading such "lesser" troops seemed a natural fit for the former aristocrats of the IIIrd Legion. They had a profound ability to understand the strengths and manifold weaknesses of the diverse armies in service to the Emperor and drew on the long traditions of Terra's military aristocracies to command with surety and purpose. The Antarctic Clearance campaign during the Unification Wars is, for example, marked as a victory for Army Group Antilles, but in truth any detailed analysis of the ancient conflict reveals that it was the IIIrd Legion which sculpted the tactics and strategy of the campaign, and led it to successful completion. Likewise, when the Bronze Host took Nadarin it was under the eye and with the aid of the IIIrd Legion, and the Fifth Raising of Jove-Sat II was done principally by their hand, though other names than theirs throng the honour rolls of the Unification. The examples are numerous, and through them all the IIIrd Legion proved their superb ability to execute and exceed the intent and expectations of their Emperor in war.
It was after the Proximan Betrayal early in the Great Crusade that the IIIrd Legion was granted the exclusive right to bear the Palatine Aquila, the Emperor's personal standard, in its own heraldry, the only Space Marine Legion allowed to display the Aquila on its arms and armour until after the Horus Heresy, when the practice spread to all the Legions that had remained loyal to the Imperium. This honour was bought in blood as the IIIrd Legion's XVIth Cohort (Chapter), assigned to the Imperial Compliance ceremonies and as the Emperor's honour guard for Proxima's formal accession into the Imperium, fought and died to the last warrior alongside the Legio Custodes, never giving ground during the insurrectionist surprise attack on that world's ceremonial plaza. By their sacrifice was the wounded Emperor, who had suffered injury through the use of a Vortex weapon by the enemy, bought time to recover and fight His way clear of the Proximan insurrectionists' trap. In recognition of this, the standard of the Palatine Aquila so fiercely fought for that day was given to the Astartes of the IIIrd Legion by the Emperor's own hand, to be their relic ever after, along with the right to end the Proximan revolt by Exterminatus and so repay the blood that was owed them. While the great Aquila in its variations signified both the Imperium of Humanity and loyalty to the Emperor as its master, and there is much allegory bound up into its form, for the IIIrd Legion it also now represented their own deeds as well, an honour never given to another Space Marine Legion before the Great Betrayal.
In situations of hazard and utmost danger, the Emperor often used members of the newly redubbed Emperor's Children Legion as aquilifers and equerries due to their singular character and mien, a responsibility the Legion was proud to carry. Bearing the palatine eagle standard of the Emperor, members of the IIIrd Legion accompanied Imperial diplomatic missions and emissaries as bodyguards and agents into the heart of the foe, and in battle bore the standard and commanded the armies of the newly conquered as instruments of the Emperor's will and judgment if needed. The sight of the Emperor's symbol carried by one of His favoured warriors was enough to keep many a wavering new ally or recently conquered human world in line. These standard bearers, and the honour guards that accompanied them, symbolically coloured their armour with lacquer of imperial purple to mark their rank and mission.
So arrayed, none could doubt that these Astartes were the chosen of the Emperor, and such was the record and esteem with which they functioned that for a time it became common for them to bear the Emperor's wishes and order to other Legions and Imperial military forces scattered across the new-born Imperium. The nature of the IIIrd Legion's psychology meant that they would carry the precise meaning and intent of any order without deviation and with their last breath if needed. In this role, the IIIrd Legion took on the mandate of the Emperor's will, and no other Legion was so honoured. Others bore His words, but at this time the IIIrd Legion were His voice. This would not change, even after the Emperor's Children were reunited with their long-lost genetic forebear and Primarch, Fulgrim.
- "Barring the miraculous, our Legion's demise not only seems inexorable, it is also inevitable. Any other conclusion is unlikely, any hope remote at this point."
- — Apothecary Fabius speaking to his vassal brother, LycaeonOne great disaster made the greatest mark upon the early decades of the IIIrd Legion's existence. This was the catastrophic loss of nearly the entire gene-seed stock of the Emperor's Children. Coming within a solar year of their great moment of triumph fighting at the Emperor's side at Proxima, it was to prove a turning point that was to forever alter the IIIrd Legion's future. As the Emperor's Wars of Unity broke the bounds of Terra, the pacification of the Selenar gene-cults of Luna and the Martian Compact allowed the Imperium to produce and equip new Space Marines at an unprecedented rate, and the Legions began to expand to meet the demands of the vast new war across the stars. As the gene-forges of Luna began to implant recruits for all the Space Marine Legions, a portion of the IIIrd Legion's gene-seed reserve was dispatched to Luna for establishment there. What happened next is not clear. Some claim that elements of the Selenite cults still resistant to the rule of the Imperium and the Imperial Truth hijacked a defence laser and destroyed the ship carrying the IIIrd Legion's gene-seed, while conflicting accounts recount that the ship lost control and crashed as it was attempting to dock, whilst others claim that it simply vanished. The loss of the IIIrd Legion's gene-seed reserve was a severe blow to the Legion's development, but it would not have endangered the Legion's survival if a second calamity had not occurred in quick succession.
Like all of the Legiones Astartes, the IIIrd Legion recovered the Progenoid Glands from those of its warriors who fell in battle. From these organs a fresh set of gene-seed implant organs could be grown and a new Astartes created to replace the fallen. This system was, however, far from perfect. The nature of battle, and the manner in which Legionaries died, did not always allow for such recovery. To ensure that there were always organs ready to implant into new Aspirants, a reserve of gene-seed for every Legion was kept safe on Terra. From this emergency reserve it should have been possible to keep the IIIrd Legion supplied with new warriors, and even with the loss of the gene-seed reserve sent to Luna the Legion would have endured and in time grown; its survival should have been certain. But in a single night that hope was obliterated.
It was discovered that a fast acting viral blight had suddenly infected several of the gene-seed vaults on Terra, its cause and origin unknown. The Bio-Magi of the Mechanicum tasked with overseeing the gene-stocks feverishly sought to hold it in check as its progress threatened to wipe out in a matter of hours what had taken a century to build, but the doubtlessly artificial, and many surmised xenos, infection defied treatment, and it was only the intervention of the Emperor's own peerless bioengineering genius that was to purge the taint. While many Legions suffered losses from this attack from an unknown quarter, the blight was found to have destroyed the remaining gene-seed stock of the IIIrd Legion in its entirety. From that moment the IIIrd Legion began to die.
While other Legions grew in size and glory as the Great Crusade gathered pace, the IIIrd Legion withered. The only way it could replace losses was from the Progenoid Glands of the dead. Without the Legion's Primarch, the Emperor and His gene-wrights could only rebuild the IIIrd Legion's gene-seed reserves with painful slowness. As the process of rebuilding crept forward, the IIIrd Legion's strength dwindled with every battle. It became clear that the IIIrd Legion would have fallen far below effective strength long before their gene-seed reserves were rebuilt. The doom of the Legion was inevitable -- and then the Primarch Fulgrim was re-discovered, and everything changed.
After being snatched from the Emperor of Mankind's gene-laboratory deep beneath the Himalazian (Himalayan) Mountains on Terra, Fulgrim's gestation capsule came to rest on a resource-poor mining world known as Chemos. Chemos was a bleak, unforgiving planet warmed by a small binary star and surrounded by a thick nebula dust cloud. The result was a world that was a place forever shrouded in perpetual twilight. Chemos had been settled by humanity long before during the Dark Age of Technology as a mining world but was isolated from its neighbours by the great Warp Storms that marked the Age of Strife. The problem was that the resources of the planet were running out and its people were not producing enough food even for their own needs. Eventually, it fell to a group of fortress factories to produce all the needed resources for Chemos. The entirety of the Chemosian people had to work every hour of the day, maintaining the vapour mines and synthesisers. Recreation, art and leisure were sacrificed for survival. Chemos was dependent upon interstellar commerce for the provision of food, but the world was buffeted by Warp Storms that made it difficult for traders to reach the planet, thus condemning the Chemosians to a slow death, despite their attempts to impose strict food rationing and improvise other solutions for providing nutrients. Scouts from the fortress factory of Callax's branch of the planetary police force, the Caretakers, discovered the Primarch's gestation capsule after it plummeted to the surface of Chemos and were so impressed by the beauty of the infant within that they begged the leaders of Callax, its Executives, to spare his life, as orphans were routinely put to death so they would not further strain a settlement's resources. Fulgrim was spared and given into the hands of one of his rescuers, a member of the Caretakers, to raise as his own child.
Named after an ancient deity of the Chemosian people, Fulgrim in time became a new legend to the people of that suffering world. At half the age at which most of the other people of Callax went to work in the vapour mines and synthesisers, Fulgrim proved able to fulfill all the obligations of an adult labourer. He came to understand the ramshackle Chemosian mining technology with an intuitive ease that allowed him to begin to modify it with his extraordinary technical acumen, dramatically increasing its efficiency. By the time he was only 15 Terran years of age, Fulgrim had risen from the rank of a simple labourer to become one of the Executives who governed the fortress factory of Callax. As a leader, Fulgrim learned of the terrible plight that faced Callax and all the other settlements of Chemos as their technology and population gradually declined in the face of their resource shortages.
Under Fulgrim's direction, teams of engineers travelled far from Callax and the other fortress factories, reclaiming and repairing many of the most ancient and far-flung of the world's original mining outposts, many of which had not been used since before the start of the Age of Strife. Mining production skyrocketed, and as resources began to pour in large amounts into the treasuries of the fortress factories of Chemos for the first time in millennia, Fulgrim supervised the construction of even more sophisticated and efficient extraction machinery. This industrial efficiency soon grew to the point that Chemos' mines were actually producing surpluses for the first time in decades, allowing the world to begin to purchase food and other needed materials in large quantities from passing interstellar traders. Fulgrim, now the recognised planetary leader, fostered the re-emergence of Chemosian art and culture, important aspects of human life that had long been sacrificed to Chemos' resource shortage and need for constant labour.
Coming of the Emperor
Not long after this great triumph the world's isolation came to an end. From the perpetually twilit sky emerged a flight of Stormbird dropships, heavily armoured and battle-scarred and bearing the Palatine Aquila, the personal badge of the Emperor of Mankind. When he learned of the Aquila, Fulgrim found his memories stirred. Chemos had no real military forces, but the Stormbirds' landing zone had been surrounded by the Caretakers, the planetary police force of the fortress cities. Fulgrim ordered the Caretakers to welcome the strangers and take them to meet with him in Callax.
In his private quarters, Fulgrim met with the heavily armoured warriors from the stars, men who represented a true civilisation that possessed all the culture and refinement that Fulgrim longed to return to his homeworld. From amongst the Astartes stepped the shining figure of the Emperor of Mankind, and with one look upon him, Fulgrim said nothing and simply dropped to his knees before his father and offered his sword in service. Fulgrim swore from that moment forward to serve the Emperor and the needs of the Imperium of Man with all his heart. The Emperor taught His son of Terra and of the Great Crusade He had initiated to reunite all the scattered worlds of Mankind beneath a single rule so that humanity would no longer face possible extinction at the hands of the galaxy's hostile forces and could claim its rightful place as the dominant intelligent species in the Milky Way. Imperial records do not indicate the exact date of the meeting between Fulgrim and the Emperor; all that is known is that Fulgrim's vast flagship, the Pride of the Emperor, was completed by the Adeptus Mechanicus of Mars 160 standard years before the start of the Horus Heresy in the early 31st Millennium.
Fulgrim returned to Terra with the Emperor to meet the IIIrd Legion of Astartes that had been created from his own genome. But Fulgrim learned to his horror that an accident had destroyed the majority of the gene-seed that had been cultivated from his DNA to implant the Astartes of the IIIrd Legion and that without access to their Primarch's genome, replacing it had proven to be a slow and labourious process. Fulgrim addressed the two hundred warriors who were then all that the IIIrd Legion could muster. There were so few that each of them bore the banner of a company of the Legion that had either perished, or now numbered only a handful of warriors. They were unbowed and stood with pride, as if in defiance of fate. The Primarch may have seen an echo of the struggle of Chemos in his remaining gene-sons. To them he gave the sacred task of bringing the Emperor's wisdom to all the stars in the sky, "You are the Emperor's chosen, His heralds, His warriors, His children, for this is only the beginning", the Book of Primarchs relates he told them upon their first meeting. On hearing of Fulgrim's words, the Emperor renamed the IIIrd Legion the "Emperor's Children", ratifying a name long known within the Legion since their defence of the Master of Mankind during the Proximan Betrayal early in the Great Crusade but now given the full legal force of Imperial decree. The Officio Militaris' College of Arms recorded the change and marked the IIIrd Legion's panoply as imperial purple with the talon-spur as their emblem and the unique right to bear the Palatine Aquila as executors of the Imperial will, an honour given only to the Emperor's Children until after the betrayal of the Horus Heresy.
Fulgrim was soon consumed by the idea that he and the Emperor's Children needed to live up to the extraordinary honour the Emperor had shown them by becoming shining paragons of the perfection inherent in both the Emperor's person and His vision for Imperial culture and civilisation. The drive for perfection soon consumed the Primarch and his Legion, from the military tactics they employed to the embrace of an unusually artistic Legion culture and a concern for aesthetics and their personal appearances that was unsurpassed by any of the other Astartes. Fulgrim embodied this pursuit of physical beauty and perfection, for long silver hair flowed down his back, his wide eyes and melodic voice welcomed all who sought his counsel and his full lips often quirked into a wry smile. Fulgrim made sure that his Power Armour was of the finest quality that could be fabricated by Imperial technology and was intricately decorated in the purple and golden colours he had chosen for his Legion. Over it he usually wore a wide variety of intricately embroidered and high-collared cloaks.
Brothers of the Wolves
Fulgrim was anxious to begin his conquest of the unknown regions of the galaxy as part of the ongoing Great Crusade, but realised that his two hundred warriors were far too few to undertake the Crusade on their own. Seeing the need to nurture the Emperor's Children's recovery now that they could create new gene-seed using Fulgrim's genome as a template, the Emperor asked the Primarch Horus to mentor his brother Fulgrim and his Legion. So it was that for over a standard decade the Emperor's Children and the Luna Wolves fought side-by-side. The bond of brotherhood and trust forged in battle between Fulgrim and Horus, unalike as they were, became unbreakable. So also did their Legions grow close. Just as unalike as their respective Primarchs were in temperament but equal in skill, both Legions and their Primarchs seemed to complement one another. Where Horus was swift and intuitive, Fulgrim was patient and considered. Where the Luna Wolves were direct and brutal, the Emperor's Children were flexible and subtle. When eventually the Emperor's Children broke away to stand on their own, they had become oath brothers to the Luna Wolves; it was a bond that treachery one day would twist into a chain that shackled their souls.
Eventually, over the course of several decades, the Emperor's Children's ranks were swelled by new Astartes who had been recruited from both Terra and Fulgrim's homeworld of Chemos, where the Legion had established its Fortress-Monastery at the old factory fortress of Callax. When the Emperor's Children were judged to have reached an appropriate size, Fulgrim was given command of the 28th Expeditionary Fleet of the Great Crusade and set off on his own course of conquest, returning dozens of human-settled worlds to the rule of the Emperor. Among them was the advanced xenos world of Laeran, where Fulgrim's fate would be sealed.
The Phoenix and the Gorgon
The brotherhood shared by the Primarchs Fulgrim and Ferrus Manus, the Phoenician and the Gorgon, was well known in the Imperium at the time of the Great Crusade, as the two superhuman leaders formed an instant connection upon their first meeting. This initial encounter occurred on Terra, beneath Mount Narodnya, the greatest forge of the Urals, where Ferrus Manus was busy toiling with the forge-masters who had once served the Terrawatt Clan during the Unification Wars soon after his arrival from Medusa. The Primarch of the Iron Hands had been demonstrating his phenomenal skill and the miraculous powers of his liquid metal hands when Fulgrim, the Primarch of the IIIrd Legion, the Emperor's Children, and his elite Phoenix Guard, had descended upon the sprawling forge complex.
Neither Primarch had yet met the other, but each had felt the shared bonds of alchemy and science that had gone into their making. Both were like gods unto the terrified artisans, who prostrated themselves before these two mighty warriors as though fearing a terrible battle might ensure between them. Ferrus Manus later told the tale to the Astartes of the Xth Legion claiming that Fulgrim had declared that he had come to forge the most perfect weapon ever created, and that he would bear it in the coming Great Crusade. Of course the Primarch of the Iron Hands could not let such a boast go unanswered, and he had laughed in Fulgrim's face, declaring that such pasty hands could never be the equal of his own living metal appendages. Fulgrim accepted the challenge with regal grace, and both Primarchs had stripped to the waist, working without pause for weeks on end, the forge ringing with the deafening pounding of hammers, the hiss of cooling metal, and the good natured insults of the two demigods as they sought to outdo one another.
At the end of three months' unceasing toil, both warriors had finished their weapons. Fulgrim had forged an exquisite warhammer -- Forgebreaker -- that could level a mountain with a single blow, and Ferrus Manus a golden bladed sword -- Fireblade -- that forever burned with the fire of the forge. Both weapons were unmatched by any yet crafted by Man, and upon seeing what the other had created, each Primarch declared that his opponent's was the greater. Fulgrim declared the golden sword the equal of that borne by the legendary hero Nuada Silverhand, while Ferrus Manus had sworn that only the mighty thunder gods of Nordyc legend were fit to bear such a magnificent warhammer. Without another word spoken, both Primarchs had swapped weapons and sealed their eternal friendship with the craft of their hands.
The weight of the formidable warhammer Forgebreaker was enormous and unbearable for anyone but one of the Emperor's Astartes. Its haft was the colour of ebony, elaborately worked with threads of gold and silver that formed the shape of a lightning bolt, and the head was carved into the shape of a mighty eagle, its barbed beak forming the striking face and its tapered wings the claw. Anyone who looked upon the mighty warhammer could feel the power radiating from within it and know instinctively that more than just skill had gone into its forging. Love and honour, loyalty and friendship, death and vengeance...all were embodied within its majestic form, and the thought that the Iron Hands Primarch's sworn honour brother had created this weapon made it truly legendary.
According to legend, Ferrus Manus was commonly referred to as The Gorgon. Some on Terra said the name was in reference to an ancient legend of the Olympian Hegemony. The Gorgon was a beast of such incredible ugliness that its very gaze could turn a man to stone. Many would be outraged at the disrespect in the implication of such a term when referring to a Primarch, but those who knew him best believed that Ferrus Manus quite enjoyed the name, because in any case, that was not where the name originated. It was an old nickname Fulgrim had given his brother after their initial meeting. Unlike the Phoenician, Ferrus Manus had little time for art, music or any of the cultural pastimes the IIIrd Legion's Primarch so enjoyed. It is said that after the two Primarchs met at Mount Narodnya, they returned to the Imperial Palace where the Primarch Sanguinius of the Blood Angels Legion had arrived bearing gifts for the Emperor, exquisite statues from the glowing rock of Baal, priceless gem-stones and wondrous artefacts of aragonite, opal and tourmaline. The lord of the Blood Angels had brought enough to fill a dozen wings of the Palace with the greatest wonders imaginable.
Of course, Fulgrim was enthralled, finding that another of his brothers shared his love of such incredible beauty, but Ferrus Manus was unimpressed and said that such things were a waste of their time when there was a galaxy to win back. Fulgrim laughed and declared Ferrus a "terrible gorgon", saying that if the Primarchs did not value beauty, then they would never appreciate the stars they were to win back for their father. After that time the name stuck, and forever after Ferrus Manus was often referred to as The Gorgon.
- "Pride Go'eth Before Abandon, Vanity Go'eth Before Weakness, Vainglory Go'Eth Before the Fall."
- — The Cantos of Proverbs, the Apocrypha Terra
A passionate intensity filled the Emperor's Children from the moment Fulgrim knelt in humility before them as their new commander. It was as if the achievements of the past counted for nothing to them, only the future mattered, a future in which they could countenance no failure. They pursued all matters with total dedication and focus, and the skills of war were chief amongst their concerns and they would accept nothing that another could better. When another Legion excelled in any detail of warfare the Emperor's Children would set out to learn those skills. They channelled themselves completely into their training and study, allowing it to consume them completely until mastery was achieved. Once mastered, a method would be evaluated and refined.
The Emperor's Children believed that the only measure of true achievement was to measure oneself against others. When another Legion was honoured, it was said that the IIIrd Legion took these accolades for their brothers as both a spur to do better and a wound to their own pride. When they failed to reach the quality of another it created jealousy. When they did excel it bred contempt for those they had risen above. And no matter how high they rose, no matter how much they achieved, it was never enough. The achievements they had gained in the past were dead to them. The Emperor's Children's hunger for perfection was without limit, and could never be sated. The atrocities that would come later demonstrated the truth of this assessment, but the signs of the IIIrd Legion's hidden darkness were there long before they fell.
The point at which Fulgrim and the Emperor's Children embraced darkness is not known. Some amongst those who serve the Emperor pointed to Fulgrim's cleansing of the dangerous xenos known as the Laer as the event that finally doomed him, as there are indications that the malign forces of Chaos used this event to ensnare Fulgrim and begin the rapid corruption of the Emperor's Children. It is believed that Fulgrim first fell from the Emperor's grace on the xenos planet called Laeran, officially designated as Twenty-Eight-Three, being the third world the 28th Expedition had brought to Imperial Compliance. Unbeknownst to the IIIrd Legion, the serpentine Laer species were corrupted xenos worshippers of the Chaos God of Pleasure, Slaanesh. Though the resource-rich Ocean World of Laeran would be of immeasurable value to the Crusade of the Emperor, its alien inhabitants did not wish to share what blind fortune had blessed them with. They had refused to see the manifest destiny that guided Mankind through the stars and had made it abundantly clear that they held the Imperium in nothing but contempt. The IIIrd Legion's diplomatic advance had been rebuffed with violence, and honour demanded that they answer in kind.
During the ensuing campaign, the IIIrd Legion's Chief Apothecary Fabius discovered upon examining some of the corpses of the Laer that the serpentine creatures had been engaged in extensive genetic engineering to perfect their species, creating a multitude of different castes who were genetically designed to best serve their intended function in Laer society. Bringing his findings to his Primarch, Fabius explained that the Laer were not so dissimilar to the Emperor's Children in their approaches to perfection. He put forward the hypothesis that what the Emperor had made was incredible, but what if it was but the first step on a longer road? Fabius suggested that if they were to look upon their own flesh they could find new ways to improve upon it and bring it closer to perfection. The Apothecary may very well have signed his death warrant by speaking so frankly, but the possibilities that might be opened up were worth any risk. To attempt to unlock the secrets of the Emperor's work in creating the Astartes would be the greatest undertaking of his life. Fulgrim inquired if Fabius truly believed that he could enhance the gene-seed of the Astartes. The Apothecary admitted that he didn't know for certain, but he believed that they had to at least try, for by doing so they would move closer to perfection -- and only by imperfection would the Emperor's Children fail the Emperor. The Primarch agreed with the Apothecary's proposition and gave Bile free leave to do what needed to be done.Fulgrim's 28th Expeditionary Fleet of the Great Crusade conquered Laeran for the Imperium, exterminating its hostile native reptilian species, the Laer. Laeran was a water world, its continents having sunk beneath its oceans' waves centuries before when all of its ice caps and glaciers melted. The oceanic world was home to a native sentient species known as the Laer who were reptilian and serpentine in form but also engaged in extensive genetic engineering to perfect their species, creating a multitude of different castes who were genetically designed to best serve their intended function in Laer society. Having no land area, the Laer, whose technology equalled or even exceeded that of the Imperium in certain areas, had moved their entire society onto hundreds of floating coral islands that circled a central nexus in the planet's atmosphere. Each coral island was held aloft by an anti-gravity generator.
What Fulgrim and his Emperor's Children Legion did not know was that the Laer were also an entire civilisation that had been corrupted by Slaanesh, the Chaos God of Pleasure and Pain. The central nexus point that all of their coral islands orbited was actually a massive temple dedicated to the Prince of Pleasure at the heart of which lay a potent Chaos Artefact, a beautifully crafted, single-edged Daemonblade, that served as the physical vessel for a Greater Daemon of the Prince of Chaos. The Laer evinced all the signs of what later generations of the Imperium would recognise as Slaaneshi corruption, including a need for constant extreme sensory inputs, such as riotous colours and constant sound, and the deriving of pleasure from only the most extreme of sensations, including their own deaths. Completely unaware of the real dangers he and his Astartes Legion faced on the Chaos-corrupted world, Fulgrim ordered the Emperor's Children and the other forces of the 28th Expeditionary Fleet to assault the planet and conquer it for the Imperium within a single Terran month, completely eradicating the Laer species in the process. The Council of Terra had decided that the subjugation of the Laer would cost too many Imperial lives and would take too long. Some estimates indicated that an attempted Imperial Compliance would take as long as ten standard years. There had even been talk of making Laeran a protectorate of the Imperium. Primarch Fulgrim would not countenance such talk, for by refusing the Emperor's beneficence, the Laer had effectively sealed their doom.
During the final slaughter of that serpentine xenos race, Fulgrim and his Astartes discovered the great temple dedicated to Slaanesh that lay on the central floating coral island of Laeran. The Imperium, ignorant of the existence of the Chaos Powers at this time and holding to the extreme rationalism and atheism of the Imperial Truth, did not realise the significance of such a find or what they had really discovered. The expedition led by Fulgrim began to be unwittingly corrupted by the temple's potent and malign influence. After defeating the temple's fanatical Laer defenders, Fulgrim discovered what the Laer were so fiercely protecting -- at the centre of the chamber of the unholy temple was a circular block of veined black stone, and embedded within was a tall silver sword with a gently-curved blade and a crude amethyst gem set in the pommel. This sword was not only a potent Slaaneshi artefact but also the physical vessel of a Greater Daemon of Slaanesh.
Once Fulgrim had claimed the blade as his own, the daemon within it began whispering in his mind and corrupting his soul towards the service of Slaanesh. He began to wield the daemonblade more often than his prior weapon, the great sword Fireblade that had been forged for him on Terra by his fellow Primarch and most favoured brother, Ferrus Manus. Thinking the whispers in his mind was only his own subconscious speaking to him, Fulgrim began listening to what it offered. Eventually, he discovered these were actually the whispers of the daemon that existed within the blade. After a lot of persuasion from his brother Horus, himself already corrupted by the Ruinous Powers after his injury on the moon of Davin, Fulgrim gave himself over to Chaos, and found his particular patron in the Prince of Pleasure, who offered the Primarch a route to the ultimate perfection he so craved for himself and his Astartes, free of all morality and dependent upon the pursuit of ultimate self-obsession.
With the end of the war on Laeran, the steady stream of wounded and dead to the Apothecarion slowed, leaving Chief Apothecary Fabius more time to devote to his researches. To ensure the secrecy his experiments demanded, he had relocated to a little-used research facility aboard the Andronius, a Strike Cruiser under the authority of Lord Commander Eidolon. Its facilities had been basic at first, but with Eidolon's blessing, he had gathered a bewildering array of specialist equipment. Eidolon had taken a personal interest in Bile's work, though he disapproved of his methods. Fulgrim had told the Lord Commander of the scale of what he was to attempt, for his work would enhance the physiology of the Astartes. Eidolon informed the Apothecary that when he returned from his more laborious duties, Bile would begin his experimentation on him. Through the Apothecary's genetic enhancements, the Lord Commander hoped to become Bile's greatest success, faster, and more deadly then ever before. He wished to become the indispensable right hand of the Primarch.
During the latter part of the Great Crusade, the Iron Hands Legion encountered a nomadic, fleet-based civilisation composed of both humans and xenos known as the Diasporex. The Iron Hands shared the Imperial Truth of the Emperor of Mankind and offered the human members of the Diasporex the opportunity to separate from their alien allies and to join the newly forged Imperium, but they declined the Astartes' offer. Their offer rejected, the Iron Hands passed judgement, and in the following months the Iron Hands fleet attempted to annihilate the Diasporex, but they proved to be highly skilled and experienced in the realm of naval warfare, and managed to easily evade crucial battles and even to severely damage the Iron Hands' Strike Cruiser Ferrum. The Emperor's Children of the 28th Expeditionary Fleet were called in as reinforcements, and so, a joint Imperial strike force composed of both the Iron Hands and forces from the Emperor's Children Legion launched an all-out assault against the willful Diasporex. Though the Diasporex knew that a powerful fleet of warships was hunting them and sought their destruction, they refused to leave the sector and move on to someplace safer. The Iron Hands' scout ships soon discovered the truth -- the Diasporex used hidden solar collector arrays to collect fuel for their vessels from a star. This was the reason why the Diasporex remained within the sector. Attacking these vital fuel stations, the two Imperial Expeditionary Fleets drew the Diasporex fleet out into open battle as the human-alien alliance sought to avoid utter annihilation at the Imperials' hands.
During the massive naval battle that ensued Fulgrim's personal gunship, the Firebird, came under heavy attack and soon found itself in trouble. Rushing to his brother's side, Ferrus Manus' flagship, the Battle Barge Fist of Iron, came rushing to the rescue of his beleaguered brother. To restore his wounded pride, Fulgrim led a brief shipboarding action where the Emperor's Children wreaked bloody havoc on the troops of the Diasporex. But ultimate victory was robbed from him when the enemy ship's bridge was taken by one of his subordinate commanders. For months thereafter, Fulgrim would resent The Gorgon's actions, unable to truly understand the altruism of Ferrus' deed and the loss of life his selfless act had incurred on his Legion. Under the malignant influence of the daemon-possessed Laer blade that he wore at all times, Fulgrim could only see self-aggrandisement in his brother's action, instead of the the heroic deed it had truly been. Ferrus' critical comments, the wounding darts that Fulgrim believed were meant to undermine him, were in actuality only jests designed to puncture Fulgrim's self-importance and restore his humility. What Fulgrim perceived as Ferrus' prideful boasts and rash actions had been deeds of courage that he spitefully dismissed as the influence of Chaos began to claim the Phoenician's soul.
Certain members of the Inquisition who have studied the fragmentary Imperial records of this time now believe that the Laeran daemonsword began to exert a powerful Chaotic influence over Fulgrim, and that the Emperor's Children forces he had deployed against the Laer may also have been tainted by their exposure to the concentrated Chaotic corruption of that serpentine race, who had fully sworn themselves to the service of Slaanesh. Even while wrestling with his own Chaotic taint, the Primarch of the Emperor's Children soon found himself at the center of the events that would bring on the Horus Heresy.
Fulgrim met with the renowned Eldar Farseer Eldrad Ulthran of Craftworld Ulthwe on the Maiden World of Tarsus, in which the Farseer attempted to warn Fulgrim that Horus had been wounded by the Chaotic artefact blade known as the Kinebrach Anathame at the hands of Eugen Temba, the Planetary Governor of Davin who had fallen to the influence of the Plague Lord Nurgle. The wounding had allowed the Chaos Gods to gain a purchase on the Warmaster's soul and he was already turning to their service as he recuperated from the nearly-mortal wound the Kinebrach blade had given him at the hands of Temba on the Nurgle-corrupted moon of Davin. Fulgrim reacted with violent outrage at the Farseer's accusations due to his close friendship with his brother Horus, as his bond with the Warmaster was second only to that he shared with Ferrus Manus, the Primarch of the Xth Legion. This outrage was further enhanced by the influence of Fulgrim's daemonblade, which wanted the Primarch to reject the Eldar's truth and it led Fulgrim to launch an unprovoked and furious attack on Eldrad and his retinue alongside his Emperor's Children Captains and his personal Phoenix Guard. In the battle that ensued, the Emperor's Children slew both the revered Eldar Wraithlord Khiraen Goldhelm and a potent Avatar of Khaine, which forced the Farseer and the other Eldar troops to sorrowfully withdraw, as they realised that Chaos had already claimed yet another of the Mon-Keigh's Primarchs. Yet they had succeeded in killing all of Fulgrim's elite personal Phoenix Guard before their departure. Believing the Eldar had proven themselves a treacherous race that sought to divide and conquer the Imperium by spreading such lies about its leaders, Fulgrim, again under the increasing influence of the daemonblade, ordered the destruction by the 28th Expeditionary Fleet of several other beautiful Eldar Maiden Worlds using hideous virus bombs.
Whilst the exact timing of this meeting remains unknown in Imperial records, it is known that Fulgrim soon met Horus in person after the Eldar had provided their warning about the Warmaster's turn to Chaos, and Fulgrim demanded a personal account of his actions. Instead, Horus, deploying every ounce of his immense charisma, proved able to sway Fulgrim to his cause and the service of the Ruinous Powers. Fulgrim's respect for Horus allowed Chaos to find its own way into Fulgrim's heart, destroying Fulgrim's once rock-solid loyalty to the Emperor, and replacing it with the burning desire to destroy the man who he now believed held humanity back from the perfection Fulgrim so craved and that Horus convinced him only the Chaos Gods could truly provide. Only when Mankind had fully embraced Chaos could it know true perfection, Fulgrim came to believe, and the Emperor and His false Imperial Truth stood directly in the way of his and the rest of humanity's attainment of that perfection. In recognition of the trust Horus put in his brother, he gifted him with the potent Chaotic blade known as the Kinebrach Anathame. Only the two brothers shared the secret of the poisoned blade's true power, as it was the weapon blessed by the Plague God Nurgle that had almost killed Horus on Davin's feral moon.
Fulgrim was next ordered by Horus to meet with Ferrus Manus, the Primarch of the Iron Hands Legion and Fulgrim's greatest friend amongst his brother Primarchs, aboard his flagship the Battle Barge Fist of Iron in the hope that he could be swayed to the side of Horus and the other Traitor Legions who now served Chaos. Fulgrim had sent the bulk of his Legion and the 28th Expeditionary Fleet on to meet Horus and the 63rd Expeditionary Fleet in the Istvaan System while he and a small force aided the Iron Hands' 52nd Expeditionary Fleet in retaking the world of Callinedes IV from Orks. Great bonds of friendship and brotherhood had long existed between them, and Fulgrim felt that he could convince Ferrus of the righteousness of Horus' cause. Fulgrim's hope proved disastrously wrong and the meeting of the two Primarchs in Ferrus' private inner sanctum in his flagship's Anvilarium did not go well, as Ferrus was outraged that his brothers would turn against their father the Emperor. The meeting ended in violence as The Gorgon made his difference of opinion over continued loyalty to the Emperor known to the Phoenician with his weapons, and he was determined to stop Fulgrim's betrayal of the Imperium before it could begin. Ferrus used his silvery necrodermis hands to destroy Fulgrim's Power Sword Fireblade, but the explosion knocked him out.
Fulgrim intended to kill his brother with his own weapon, the warhammer Forgebreaker, but proved unable to kill his oldest friend despite the promptings of the Slaaneshi daemon that now throttled his soul. When Fulgrim emerged from Ferrus' inner sanctum, he gave a signal to his Phoenix Guard who instantly beheaded all of the Iron Hands Morlocks Terminators who served as Ferrus Manus' bodyguard with their Power Halberds. The Emperor's Children also nearly slew the Iron Hands' First Captain Gabriel Santor. Fulgrim successfully fled the Iron Hands' expeditionary fleet in his personal assault craft, the Firebird, when he ordered his flagship, the Battle Barge Pride of the Emperor and its Escorts, to open fire upon the ships of the 52nd Expeditionary Fleet. This surprise attack crippled them and provided a distraction while Fulgrim and the forces of the IIIrd Legion fled into the Warp to rendezvous with the rest of their 28th Expeditionary Fleet in the Istvaan System.
With their allegiance now settled and their path forward determined, the Chaotic corruption of the Emperor's Children spread quickly throughout the IIIrd Legion, from Fulgrim to his chief lieutenants, the two Lord Commanders of the Legion, and then to its company captains and squad sergeants and finally to all but a small minority of Emperor's Children Astartes who followed the dictates of Slaanesh rather than remaining loyal to the Emperor. The IIIrd Legion's once-laudable quest for excellence and perfection had been corrupted into a desire to achieve perfect hedonism and constant, self-absorbed, sensual excess.
After another successful Compliance action was conducted on the Imperial world designated Twenty-Eight Four, Lord Commander Eidolon underwent elective augmentative surgery under the knife of Chief Apothecary Fabius. The Apothecary implanted a modified tracheal implant that bonded with the Lord Commander's vocal chords, allowing him to produce a nerve paralysing shriek similar to that employed by certain warrior breeds of the Laer.
When the Apothecary explained the nature of the new organ implanted into the Lord Commander's throat, Eidolon was outraged that Bile would implant xenos filth within him. Enraged, he ordered the Apothecary to halt the surgery and release him from the medicae table. But Fabius refused the Lord Commander's orders, for Fulgrim himself had authorised his work and Eidolon had insisted that the Apothecary work on him upon his return. The Lord Commander would later make use of this new ability whilst leading his 1st Company in concert with the Death Guard Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro and his 7th Company against traitorous forces on Istvaan Extremis, the outermost planet within the Istvaan System. Whilst fighting against a powerful Slaaneshi mutant known as a Warsinger, Garro was laid low. It was then that Eidolon took hold of the situation and employed his newly acquired abilities, destroying the Warsinger with a devastating sonic shriek. In light of this, Eidolon may potentially be considered as one of the first Noise Marines.
Following the Cleansing of Laeren, the rot of corruption had begun to spread throughout the IIIrd Legion. Lord Commander Vespasian, one of two senior commanders within the hierarchy of the Emperor's Children, staunchly adhered to his Legion's ethos of perfection of honour, refusing to allow himself to fall to the rampant hubris and arrogance that had become more common within the ranks of the IIIrd Legion. Over the course of many months, Vespasian consulted other like-minded Battle-Brothers within the Legion, including 2nd Company commander Solomon Demeter, about his growing concerns and fears for the future of the Legion.
Vespasian was present during the meeting between Ulthwé Craftworld Farseer Eldrad Ulthran and his Primarch Fulgrim upon the Eldar Maiden World of Tarsus. He had heard the dire warning presented to them of the Warmaster's corruption by the then-unknown dark powers of Chaos and the inevitable rebellion that would soon follow. The Primarch had rejected such accusations as outright heresy and ordered his delegation to attack the upstart Xenos. Lord Commander Vespasian reluctantly followed his Primarch's orders and destroyed Tarsus and the rest of the Maiden Worlds the 28th Expeditionary Fleet had recently encountered through Exterminatus. Weeks later, Fulgrim's fleet was ordered by the Council of Terra to rendezvous with the Warmaster's 63rd Expeditionary Fleet to inquire about reports of the their recent conduct and acquire information in regards to Horus's grave injuries acquired on Davin's feral moon. Vespasian was excluded from this delegation with the Warmaster, further demonstrating the growing rift between the Lord Commander and his Primarch Fulgrim.
Following this delegation to the 63rd Expeditionary Fleet, Fulgrim announced to his senior commanders that he would lead a small force to join Ferrus Manus and his Iron Hands at Callinedes IV in the Callinedes System under the pretense of clearing it of an Ork infestation. The rest of the Legion would rendezvous with the Warmaster's 63rd Expedition at the Istvaan System to halt a growing rebellion. But the IIIrd Legion wasn't to fight alone, for they were to deploy alongside the Death Guard and the World Eaters. Though the men of his Legion cheered in adulation at the prospect of fighting with their brother Astartes, Fulgrim's amusement turned instantly to sorrow as he understood that, but for Vespasian's stubbornness, a great many of these warriors would have made a fine addition to the army of the Warmaster's new crusade. With such warriors fighting for the Warmaster, what heights of perfection would have been beyond them? Vespasian's refusal to allow his men to sample the heady delights of Fabius's chemical stimulants, or to undergo enhancing surgeries, had condemned the warriors once under his command to death in the Warmaster's trap of Istvaan III. He realised he should have disposed of Vespasian much sooner, and the mixture of guilt and excitement at the deaths he had set in motion was a potent cocktail of sensations. When the killing on Istvaan III was done, the chaff would have been cut from Horus's force, and they would be a sharpened blade aimed at the heart of the corrupt Imperium.
Vespasian met his end after the operation conducted by the IIIrd Legion to cleanse Callinedes. The Lord Commander was denied audience with the Primarch, a most unusual occurrence, after numerous requests. A dark shroud had hung over Vespasian ever since the battle on the deep orbital of the Callinedes system. He felt obliged to act after he observed Solomon Demeter's 2nd Company being intentionally abandoned by both Captains Kaesoron's and Vairosean's companies. Within hours, the 2nd Company had been in transit to the Istvaan System to rendezvous with three other Legions to pacify the rebellious world of Istvaan III. Finally seizing the opportune moment, Vespasian confronted Fulgrim in his stateroom over the growing corruption and decay of the Legion's ideals that they had been founded upon. The Lord Commander discovered, much too late, the malign influence of Chaos that had held sway over his Primarch. With sibilant whispers of the daemon-possessed Laer sword urging him on, Fulgrim murdered Vespasian in cold blood by stabbing him in the neck with the Anathame.
Istvaan III Atrocity
Before Horus openly launched his rebellion to overthrow the Emperor, an opportunity presented itself that would enable him to get rid of the Loyalist elements within the Astartes Legions under his command. The Imperial Planetary Governor of Istvaan III, Vardus Praal, had been corrupted by the Chaos God Slaanesh whose cultists had long been active on the world even before it had been conquered by the Imperium. Praal had declared his independence from the Imperium, and had begun to practice forbidden Slaaneshi sorcery, so the Council of Terra charged Horus with the retaking of that world, primarily its capital, the Choral City. This order merely furthered Horus' plan to overthrow the Emperor. Although the four Legions under his direct command -- the Sons of Horus, World Eaters, Death Guard and the Emperor's Children -- had already turned Traitor and pledged themselves to Chaos, there were still some Loyalist elements within each of these Legions that approximated one-third of each force; many of these warriors were Terran-born Space Marines who had been directly recruited into the Astartes Legions by the Emperor Himself before being reunited with their Primarchs during the Great Crusade.
Horus, under the guise of putting down the rebellion against Imperial Compliance on the world of Istvaan III, amassed his troops in the Istvaan System. Horus had a plan by which he would destroy all of the remaining Loyalist elements of the Legions under his command. After a lengthy bombardment of Istvaan III, Horus despatched all of the known Loyalist Astartes down to the planet, under the pretence of bringing it back into the Imperial fold. At the moment of victory and the capture of the Choral City, the planetary capital of Istvaan III, these Astartes were betrayed when a cascade of terrible Life-Eater virus-bombs fell onto the world, launched by the Warmaster's orbiting fleet. The Loyalist Captain Saul Tarvitz of the Emperor's Children, however, was aboard the Strike Cruiser Andronius and had discovered the plot to wipe out the Loyalist Astartes of the Traitor Legions. He was able, with help from Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro of the Death Guard who was in command of the Death Guard Frigate Eisenstein, to reach the surface of Istvaan III despite pursuit and warn the Loyalist Space Marines he could find of all four Legions of their impending doom. Those that heard or passed on Tarvitz's warning took shelter before the virus-bombs struck.
The civilian population of Istvaan III received no such protection: 12 billion people died almost at once as the lethal flesh-dissolving virus called the Life-Eater carried by the bombs infected every living thing on the planet. The psychic shock of so many deaths at one time shrieked through the Warp, briefly obscuring even the glowing beacon of the Astronomican. The Primarch of the World Eaters, Angron, realising that the virus-bombs had not been fully effective at eliminating all the Loyalists, flew into a rage and hurled himself at the planet at the head of 50 companies of World Eaters Traitor Marines. Discarding tactics and strategy, the World Eaters Traitors worked themselves into a frenzy of mindless butchery fed by their growing allegiance to the Blood God Khorne. Horus was furious with Angron for delaying his plans, but Horus sought to turn the delay into a victory and was obliged to reinforce Angron with troops from the Sons of Horus, the Death Guard, and the Emperor's Children.
Fortunately, a contingent of Loyalists led by Battle-Captain Garro escaped Istvaan III aboard the damaged Imperial Frigate Eisenstein and fled to Terra to warn the Emperor that Horus had turned Traitor. On Istvaan III, the remaining Loyalists, under the command of Captains Tarvitz, Garviel Loken and Tarik Torgaddon, another Loyalist member of the Sons of Horus, fought bravely against their own traitorous brethren. Yet, despite some early successes that delayed Horus' plans for three full months while the battle on Istvaan III played out, their cause was ultimately doomed by their lack of air support and Titan firepower. During the battle, the Sons of Horus Captains Ezekyle Abaddon and Horus Aximand were sent to confront their former Mournival brothers, Loken and Torgaddon. Horus Aximand beheaded Torgaddon, but Abaddon failed to kill Loken when the building they were in collapsed. Loken somehow survived and witnessed the final orbital bombardment of Istvaan III that ended the Loyalists' desperate defence.
The few remaining Loyalists of the Emperor's Children Legion fought bravely on Istvaan III, led by Captains Saul Tarvitz and Solomon Demeter. To prove his worth and loyalty to Lord Commander Eidolon of the Emperor's Children -- and thus to his Primarch, Fulgrim -- Captain Lucius of the 13th Company of the Emperor's Children, the future Champion of Slaanesh known as Lucius the Eternal, turned against the Loyalists that he had fought beside because of his prior friendship with Saul Tarvitz. He wanted to punish Tarvitz for taking command of the defence, which had incited Lucius's fierce jealousy of his fellow captain. Lucius slew many of his former comrades personally, an act for which he was then accepted back into the IIIrd Legion on the side of the Traitors. In the end, the Loyalists retreated to their last bastion of defence, only a few hundred of their number remaining. Finally, tired of the conflict, Horus ordered his men to withdraw, and then had the remains of the Choral City bombarded into dust for a final time from orbit.
Lords of Pleasure
Throughout the final days of the Great Crusade, just before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, the famed composer Bequa Kynska of Terra had accompanied the Emperor's Children's 28th Expeditionary Fleet as a Remembrancer aboard Fulgrim's Battle Barge Pride of the Emperor. Kynska was a jaded musician always in search of further sensations to create more exhilarating and all-encompassing music, which made her an easy target for Slaaneshi corruption. After Kynska accompanied many of the 28th Expedition's Remembrancers to the temple dedicated to Slaanesh on the xenos world of Laeran, she was touched by the Chaotic corruption of that foul place and slowly sought to create the ultimate orchestral piece that she believed could capture the wondrous sounds she had heard within the Laer temple. Her ultimate masterpiece was a symphony she named the Maraviglia and which she performed for Fulgrim and all the assembled Astartes of the Emperor's Children and their support personnel within the Remebrancers' lounge and theatre called La Fenice aboard the Pride of the Emperor. To recreate the sounds she had heard, Kynska created new musical instruments whose sonic powers could also be used for destruction when employed by an individual already corrupted by Slaanesh. As the Maraviglia began, the cachophony of sound unleashed by these instruments acted as a sorcerous ritual that opened a link between realspace and the Warp and allowed the power of Slaanesh to directly touch the audience. During the "performance" it was noted that the musical instruments were able to produce effects variously disorienting, stimulating and downright murderous.
Chaotic mutations ran rampant through the audience and Astartes and mortal humans alike were so overwhelmed by sensation and uncontrollable emotions that they unleashed an orgy of both sensual hedonism and the most base form of murder upon one another. Ultimately, the music summoned five Lesser Daemons of Slaanesh known as Daemonettes from the Warp who possessed the bodies of Kynska and several of her singers and joined in the slaughter. During this part of the concert, several Emperor's Children Astartes left their seats and took up the instruments to try and keep the Chaotic music playing and in the course of their untrained fumblings with the instruments discovered that they could unleash waves of destructive sonic power filled with the strength of Chaos. These Astartes became the first Noise Marines, who would eventually take to the field on Istvaan V wielding this strange, new weaponry as a new unit of the IIIrd Legion called the Kakophoni under the command of First Captain Julius Kaesoron. It was during this performance in La Fenice that the Emperor's Children finally gave themselves wholly, both body and soul, to the Prince of Pleasure as his most dedicated servants.
Drop Site Massacre
When the Loyalist Salamanders, Raven Guard and Iron Hands Legions arrived in the Istvaan System to face Horus and the Traitor Legions on Istvaan V, the Emperor's Children eagerly took part in the fighting. Thousands of Drop Pods and Stormbirds were deployed for the drop. The first wave was under the overall command of the Primarch Ferrus Manus and besides his own Xth Legion, the Salamanders led by Vulkan, and the Raven Guard under the command of their Primarch Corax joined him. Vulkan's Legion assaulted the left flank of the Traitors' battle line while Ferrus Manus, the Iron Hands' First Captain Gabriel Santor, and 10 full companies of elite Morlock Terminators charged straight into the centre of the enemy lines. Meanwhile, Corax's Legion hit the right flank of the enemy's position. The odds were considered equal; 30,000 Traitor Marines against 40,000 Loyalists. Horus was aware of the location of the Loyalists' chosen drop site and his troops fell upon the Loyalist Legions.
The battlefield of Isstvan V was a slaughterhouse of epic proportions. Treacherous warriors twisted by hatred fought their former brothers-in-arms in a conflict unparalleled in its bitterness. The mighty Titan war engines of the Machine God walked the planet's surface and death followed in their wake. The blood of heroes and traitors flowed in rivers, and the hooded Adepts of the Dark Mechanicum unleashed perversions of ancient technology stolen from the Auretian Technocracy to wreak bloody havoc amongst the Loyalists. All across the Urgall Depression, hundreds died with every passing second, the promise of inevitable death a pall of darkness that hung over every warrior. The Traitor forces held, but their line was bending beneath the fury of the first Loyalist assault. It would take only the smallest twists of fate for it to break.
The second wave of "Loyalist" Space Marine Legions descended upon the landing zone on the northern edge of the Urgall Depression. Hundreds of Stormbirds and Thunderhawks roared towards the surface, their armoured hulls gleaming as the power of another four Astartes Legions arrived on Isstvan V. Yet the Space Marine Legions of the reserve were no longer loyal to the Emperor, having already secretly sworn themselves to Chaos and the cause of Horus. The Night Lords of Konrad Curze, the Iron Warriors of Perturabo, the Word Bearers of Lorgar, and the Alpha Legion of Alpharius represented a force larger than that which had first begun the assault on Isstvan V. The secret Traitor Legions mustered in the landing zone, armed and ready for battle, unbloodied and fresh.
Though the Iron Hands, Raven Guard and Salamanders had managed to make a full combat drop and secured the drop site, known as the Urgall Depression, they did so at a heavy cost. Overwhelmed with rage, the headstrong Ferrus Manus disregarded the counsel of his brothers Corax and Vulkan and hurled himself against the fleeing rebels, seeking to bring Fulgrim to personal combat. His veteran troops -- comprising the majority of the Xth Legion's Terminators and Dreadnoughts -- followed. What had begun as a massed strike against the Traitors' position was rapidly turning into one of the largest engagements of the entire Great Crusade. All told, over 60,000 Astartes warriors clashed on the dusky plains of Isstvan V. For all the wrong reasons, this battle was soon to go down in the annals of Imperial history as one of the most epic confrontations ever fought.
Fulgrim smiled as his brother Ferrus Manus renewed his attack into the heart of the Traitors' defensive lines atop the Urgall Depression. Backlit by the flaring strobe of battle, his brother was a magnificent figure of vengeance, his silver hands and eyes reflecting the fires of slaughter with a brilliant gleam. For the briefest second, Fulgrim had been sure that Ferrus would pause to muster with the Raven Guard and Salamanders, but there would be no restraining his brother's aggrieved sense of honour. Around the Phoenician, the last of the Phoenix Guard awaited the blunt wedge of the Iron Hands, their golden halberds held low and aimed towards their foes.
Ferrus Manus and his Morlocks charged through the shattered ruin of the defences, his black armour and their burnished plates scarred and stained with the blood of enemies. Fulgrim's fixed smile faltered as he truly appreciated the depths of hatred his brother held for him and wondered again how they had come to this point, knowing that any chance for brotherhood was lost. Only in death would their rivalry end. The Iron Hands pushed through the defences, the bulky Terminators unstoppable in their relentless advance. Lightning crackled from the claws of their gauntlets and their red eyes shone with anger. The Phoenix Guard braced themselves to meet the charge, fully aware of the power of such mighty suits of armour. The Phoenix Guard answered with a terrible war cry and leapt to meet the Morlocks in a searing clash of blades. Electric fire leapt from the golden edges of the halberds and the Lightning Claws of the warriors, and a storm of light and sound flared from each life and death struggle. The battle engulfed the Primarch of the Emperor's Children, but he stood above it, awaiting the dark armoured giant who strode untouched through the lightning shot carnage as brothers hacked at one another in hatred. Ferrus had long dreamt of this moment of reckoning, ever since Fulgrim had come to him with betrayal in his heart. Only one of them would walk away from their final confrontation.
Ferrus taunted Fulgrim for his betrayal of the Emperor and siding with the Traitor Horus. He thought his brother mad, for the Warmaster was defeated -- his forces routed and the power of another four Legions would soon be brought to bear to crush their attempt at rebellion utterly. Unable to contain himself any longer, Fulgrim shook his head, savouring the final act of betrayal to come, revealing to Ferrus that it was he who was naive. Horus would never be foolish enough to trap himself like this. He pointed out towards the northern edge of the Urgall Depression so that Ferrus could see that it was he and his fellow Loyalists who were undone. Ferrus looked and saw a force larger than that which had begun the assault during the first wave of attack, mustered in the landing zone, armed and ready for battle.
Dragging their wounded and dead behind them, Corax and Vulkan led their forces back to the drop site to regroup and to allow the warriors of their recently arrived brother Primarchs of the second wave a measure of the glory in defeating Horus. Though they voxed hails requesting medical aid and supply, the line of Astartes atop the northern ridge remained grimly silent as the exhausted warriors of the Raven Guard and Salamanders came to within a hundred metres of their allies. It was then that Horus revealed his perfidy and sprung his lethal trap. Inside the black fortress where Horus had made his lair, a lone flare shot skyward, exploding in a hellish red glow that lit the battlefield below. The fire of betrayal roared from the barrels of a thousand guns, as the second wave of Astartes revealed where their true loyalties now lay. Ferrus looked on in stunned horror as Fulgrim laughed at the look on his brother's face as the forces of his "allies" opened fire upon the Salamanders and Raven Guard, killing hundreds in the fury of the first few moments, hundreds more in the seconds following, as volley after volley of Bolter fire and missiles scythed through their unsuspecting ranks.
Even as terrifying carnage was being wreaked upon the Loyalists below, the retreating forces of the Warmaster turned and brought their weapons to bear on the enemy warriors within their midst. Hundreds of World Eaters, Sons of Horus and the Death Guard fell upon the veteran companies of the Iron Hands, and though the warriors of the Xth Legion continued to fight gallantly, they were hopelessly outnumbered and would soon be hacked to pieces. Ferrus Manus turned to face Fulgrim, his teeth bared with the volcanic fury of his homeworld. The two Primarchs leapt at one anther, Ferrus wielding Fireblade and Fulgrim holding Forgebreaker. Their weapons had been forged in brotherhood, but were now wielded in vengeance, meeting in a blazing plume of energy. The two Primarchs traded blows with their monstrously powerful weapons, Ferrus Manus wielded his flaming blade in fiery slashes, his every blow defeated by the ebony hafted hammer he had borne in countless campaigns. Both warriors fought with the hatred only brothers divided could muster, their armour dented, torn and blackened by their fury.
The two Primarchs traded terrible blows, wounding one another deeply during their fierce struggle. As Ferrus pushed himself to his feet and staggered towards the wounded Fulgrim, he cried out as he brought the flaming blade towards his brother's neck. But Fulgrim lashed out as he drew the single-edged, daemonically-possessed sword he had taken from the Laer temple and blocked the descending weapon. With the power of Chaos streaming from the blade, diabolical strength flooded Fulgrim's limbs as he pushed against the power of Ferrus Manus, feeling his brother's surprise at his resistance. Fulgrim managed to surge to his feet and lashed out, his silver blade biting deep into the breastplate of Ferrus' armour, and the Primarch of the Iron Hands cried out, falling to his knees once again. Fireblade slid from his grasp as he gasped in fierce agony. As Fulgrim raised the silver sword in preparation of delivering the deathblow to Ferrus Manus, he found that he did not possess the fortitude to deliver the killing blow. In an instant he saw what he had become and what monstrous betrayal he had allowed himself to be party to. He knew in that eternal moment that he had made a terrible mistake in drawing the sword from the Temple of the Laer, and he fought to release the damnable blade that had brought him so low.
His grip was locked onto the weapon and even as he recognised how far he had fallen, he knew that he had come too far to stop, the realisation coupled with the knowledge that everything he had striven for had been a lie. As though moving in slow motion, Fulgrim saw Ferrus Manus reaching for his fallen sword, his fingers closing around the wire-wound grip, the flames leaping once more to the blade at its creator's touch. Fulgrim's blade seemed to move with a life of its own as he swung the blade of his own volition. Fulgrim tried desperately to pull the blow, but his muscles were no longer his own to control. The daemonic blade sliced through the genetically-enhanced flesh and bone of one of the Emperor's sons. The Iron Hands' Primarch fell to the ground, his head decapitated. Ferrus Manus was dead by his brother's own hand
Though Fulgrim had proved the victor, he discovered as he looked down at his battered brother's prostrate body that everything up until that moment had all been a lie. Fulgrim, as if awakened from a long sleep, was shocked by the death of Ferrus into thinking clearly about the situation for the first time since his expedition to Laeran, and he was horrified by what he had done and by the many betrayals that had led brother Astartes to slay one another. Overcome by his grief, he succumbed to a moment of weakness and foolishly agreed to the daemon's whispering suggestion that he could find release in oblivion. The Greater Daemon was then freed from the prison of the sword and fully possessed Fulgrim's body, claiming it for its own, trapping the real Fulgrim's consciousness away within a psychic prison formed within his own mind but symbolically represented by a painting of the Primarch that stood in the place of honour in La Fenice, the theatre of the IIIrd Legion's flagship, the Pride of the Emperor.
Fulgrim and the Warmaster
Following the Traitor's victory at Istvaan V, Fulgrim requested a private audience with the Warmaster. Horus was pleased as his brother presented the grisly trophy of the severed head of Ferrus Manus, as promised. Gloating at this great accomplishment, Horus wished to share this triumph with his fellow captains. But the Emperor's Children's Primarch informed Horus that Fulgrim did not possess the fortitude to fulfill his oath to his brother, so he had done it for him! The Warmaster suddenly realised that the creature that stood before him was not truly his brother Fulgrim, but some sort of doppelganger. Horus threatened harm against this false Fulgrim, informing the creature that he could break him like a straw. The false Fulgrim had no desire to test himself in such a wasteful and fruitless trial of combat. Horus glanced towards Fulgrim's waist, and relaxed as he saw that this thing masquerading as his brother had come before him unarmed. Whatever its purpose in unveiling itself, it had not come with violence on its mind. For he had come to pledge his loyalty to Horus' cause. He then informed Horus that he was actually a creature of the Warp -- a humble servant of the great power that was the Dark Prince Slaanesh. The Greater Daemon explained to the horrified Horus that he had claimed Fulgrim's mortal shell as his own, and further explained how pleasing it was to him.
Horus inquired as to his brother's fate. The daemon who now inhabited Fulgrim's body explained to Horus that Fulgrim was quite safe, residing within the body now under the control of the Greater Daemon, utterly aware of all that transpired but unable to do anything to intervene. His cries of anguish were a great comfort to the malefic creature. Horus was appalled by this turn of events, and said nothing in response to the daemon's revelations. The Daemon-Fulgrim had pledged its allegiance to his cause and it was a patently powerful Warp entity. Horus thought it best to keep the creature as an ally, for he certainly could not do without the IIIrd Legion at this juncture. However, Horus resolved to destroy the daemon and rescue Fulgrim from his torment when the time was right, for no one deserved to endure such a terrible fate. But what power could unmake a daemon? Horus and the Daemon-Fulgrim agreed to keep its true nature to themselves. The daemon had no particular desire to reveal itself and Horus was convinced that such a revelation would create many problems for him at this time with the other Primarchs dedicated to the Traitors' cause.
Four days after the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V, Horus Lupercal assembled those Primarchs who stood in opposition to the Imperium aboard his flagship, the Vengeful Spirit. They all knew the costs of the coming campaign, and their destinies within it. The Traitor fleets were underway. But after the "unpleasantness" of Isstvan, this was the first time they had gathered as a full fraternity. Eight Primarchs were present, though only half of them were physically in the room where the gathering took place. This included Fulgrim, Perturabo, Angron and Lorgar Aurelian. The absent four were nothing more than holographic projections: three of them -- Konrad Curze, Mortarion and Alpharius -- manifested around the table in the forms of flickering grey hololithic simulacra. The fourth of them appeared as a brighter image comprised of the silver radiance of brilliant witchfire. This last image was of Magnus the Red, who projected himself from afar by sorcerous means, from the Sorcerer's Planet where he was still licking his wounds from the recent Burning of Prospero by Leman Russ' Space Wolves.
As soon as Lorgar had taken his seat at the council table he could not take his eyes off his brother Fulgrim. The Warmaster grew ever more weary of his brother's inability to adhere to established planning and his lack of attention to the important gathering. Before the meeting could properly get underway, Lorgar slowly reached for the ornate Crozius mace on his back. As he drew the weapon in the company of his closest kin, his eyes remained locked on one of them, and all physically present felt the deepening chill of psychic frost riming along their armour. The Word Bearer Primarch accused the thing that mimicked his brother in physical appearance as not being who he purported to be. Before anyone could react, Lorgar's Crozius mace struck the supposed Emperor's Children Primarch. Fulgrim crashed into the back wall, his prostrate form crumpled to the ground. Turning his fierce eyes upon his other brothers he declared that this pretender was not Fulgrim. The other Primarchs that were present, advanced upon the changeling, drawing their own weapons. The Warmaster tried to placate the enraged Lorgar, his merest threat of a confrontation had usually been enough to quell Lorgar from any rash actions in the past. But as they faced Aurelian now, even Horus was wide-eyed in the changes wrought within him since Istvaan V. Clutching his mace in his crimson coloured gauntlets, defying his brothers, he warned them to stay back.
When Horus once again attempted to calm the enraged Primarch, Lorgar was surprised at the sudden realisation that the Warmaster already knew that Fulgrim was not whom he pretended to be. The Warmaster informed his fellow Primarchs that he would personally deal with the situation and dismissed them all from his chambers, with the exception of Lorgar. The Word Bearers Primarch could see the truth -- this creature was one of daemons of Chaos -- as whatever was wearing his brother's skin and armour had its soul hollowed out. Something nestled within, puppeteering the soulless body of their own brother. What Lorgar couldn't understand was how this had come to pass and why did Horus continue to protect such a dark secret? Horus explained to his brother that he had not orchestrated Fulgrim's demise; he was merely containing the aftermath.
Lorgar was perturbed that another sentience now rode within Fulgrim's body. Horus was annoyed at his brother's line of questioning, for Lorgar and Fulgrim had never been close. Why did it matter to him? Lorgar explained that it mattered because this vile intrusion was a perversion of the natural order. There was no harmony in such a joining. Not like his own blessed daemon-possessed sons, the Gal Vorbak. A living soul had been annihilated for its mortal shell to simply house a greedy, unborn wretch of a daemon. During Lorgar's Pilgrimage to the Eye of Terror years earlier, he had walked in the Warp itself. He had stood where the gods and mortals met. Lorgar knew this form of possession was weakness and corruption -- a perversion of what the Chaos Gods wished for Mankind. The Ruinous Powers wanted allies and willing followers, not soulless husks ridden by their daemons.
Using his powerful psychic abilities, Lorgar held the daemon at bay. The Warmaster cautioned that he was killing Fulgrim, but Lorgar replied that it was not their brother, but an "it" -- one that he could destroy if he so wished it. Lorgar threatened the daemon that he would learn its true name and banish it back into the Warp. The Daemon-Fulgrim was helpless against Lorgar's formidable psychic abilities. As the Warmaster attempted to restrain his brother by placing his hand on Lorgar's shoulder, the Primarch psychically commanded Horus to remove his hand. Unable to resist, Horus obeyed. His fingers shivered as they withdrew, and his grey eyes flickered with tension. As the enraged Lorgar strode away from the council chambers, Horus commented that his brother had changed since crossing blades with Corax on the surface of Istvaan V. Lorgar replied that everything had changed that night. He then took his leave and returned to his ship to contemplate what he perceived as utter foulness.
Those that served in the IIIrd Legion had no idea that their beloved leader was clawing ineffectually at the bondage of his own mind in which he was held. Only the swordsman,Captain Lucius of the 13th Company, had appeared to realise that something was amiss with Fulgrim, but even he had said nothing. The Daemon-Fulgrim had sensed the burgeoning Warp touch upon the warrior and had presented him with the silver daemonblade within which the Laer had bound a fragment of its essence, as he now wielded the far more potent Kinebrach Anathame, a gift from Horus. Though the Laer Daemonsword was now bereft of its spirit, there was still power within the blade, power that would empower Lucius in the years of death to come.
After the conclave aboard Horus' flagship, the Daemon-Fulgrim and the Emperor's Children Legion were ordered to Mars to aid the coming civil war within the Adeptus Mechanicus by the Warmaster. But instead of following his brother's orders, the increasingly mercurial Primarch decided to disobey, and instead ordered his Legion to assault an Adeptus Mechanicus crystal Mining World called Prismatica V. Unable to deal with his lord's mercurial temperament as well as his fellow senior members of the Legion, Lord Commander Eidolon questioned the Primarch's orders. This proved to be a tragic miscalculation on Eidolon's part. Unable to placate his angered lord, the few words he managed to speak on his own behalf inadvertently provoked the Primarch further. The paranoid Primarch believed that the Lord Commander was mocking him and planned to betray him. Quicker than the mind's eye could follow, the Primarch withdrew the Anathame from its scabbard and slew his once-favoured son. He then held the severed head of the slain Eidolon over the opened casks of victory wine, the viscous blood dripping from the grisly trophy and mixing with the potent drink which was then shared amongst the senior members of the IIIrd Legion's inner circle.
Far from upset at the death of the much-despised Eidolon, the ascendent champion of the Emperor's Children, Lucius, took note of yet another example of Fulgrim's increasingly capricious behaviour. Contemplating upon the change in his lord, Lucius was inspired to investigate further after receiving a series of dark dreams concerning the painting of the Primarch that hang in La Fenice, which had been cordoned off and sealed by a detachment of the Phoenix Guard after the Maraviglia had worked its corrupting influence upon the Legion. Already concerned by his lord's erratic behaviour and strange moods, Lucius proceeded to scrutinise the Primarch's every move. His concerns grew even more when he noticed Fulgrim's lack of brotherly-camaraderie and observance of Legion rituals and tradition. But what truly aroused Lucius' suspicions was the realisation that Fulgrim's swordsmanship was suddenly inferior to his own superlative skills. His Primarch was not whom he appeared to be. His suspicions were further confirmed when he witnessed Fulgrim employing powerful psychic abilities in open combat against a Warhound-class Titan of the Adeptus Mechanicus during the IIIrd Legion's assault on Prismatica V.
Lucius continued to receive the strange dreams in his sleep, and began to follow the threads implanted by these prescient visions. Breaking a standing order, Lucius defied the Primarch and went to investigate La Fenice, the theatre located aboard the Emperor's Childrens' flagship Pride of the Emperor. This is where the Emperor's Children had truly fallen to the corrupting influence of Slaanesh, awakened by the operatic symphony known as the Maraviglia. Investigating the ruined chamber thoroughly, Lucius discovered above the stage that a great portrait hung above the smashed wreckage of the proscenium. Even in the dying light, the portrait's magnificence was palpable. A glorious golden frame held the canvas trapped within its embrace, and the wondrous perfection of the painting was truly breathtaking. Clad in his wondrous armour of purple and gold, Fulgrim was portrayed before the great gates of the Heliopolis, the heart of the flagship, the flaming wings of a great phoenix sweeping up behind him. The firelight of the legendary bird shone upon his armour, each polished plate seeming to shimmer with the heat of the fire, his hair a cascade of gold. The Primarch of the Emperor's Children was lovingly portrayed in perfect detail, every nuance of his grandeur and the life that made Fulgrim such a vision of beauty captured in the exquisite brushwork. No finer figure of a warrior had ever existed or ever would again, and to even glimpse such a flawless example of the painter's art was to know that wonder still existed in the galaxy.
Gazing at the eyes of the painting, Lucius could see the horror within his Primarch's eyes, a horror that had not been rendered by the skill of a mortal painter. The perfect, exquisite agony burned in the portrait's gaze, the dark pools of the painted eyes seemed to follow his every movement. Lucius came to the conclusion that somehow, his Primarch was trapped within the painting, and that the entity that paraded around as their Legion's lord was an imposter. Determined to free his Primarch by any means at his disposal, Lucius secretly convened the Brotherhood of the Phoenix -- the exclusive warrior lodge of the IIIrd Legion that only allowed warriors of officer rank to join because of the Legion's love of hierarchy. This had to be done with the utmost secrecy, for by this time the corrupted senior officers had become powerful, volatile and self-obssessed with the pursuit of their individual pleasures. Also, many of these senior officers carried a loathing for Lucius, whom they viewed as a despised upstart. Through his skilled oratory, the swordsman was able to persuade his mercurial brothers that the Primarch was not himself. He further challenged their egos and stroked their vanity, tempting them into boldly capturing their Primarch. Shortly after, the Brotherhood of the Phoenix ambushed the Primarch, and despite taking several casualties, manage to subdue their lord by rendering him unconscious.
The Primarch was then taken to the Apothecarion of the IIIrd Legion's Chief Apothecary Fabius, where he was strapped down to one of the examination tables. Here, Fabius, Lucius, Julius Kaesoron and Marius Vairosean attempted to drive forth the daemonic entity from their lord's mortal shell through a protracted torture session known as excruciation. Fulgrim willingly submitted himself to his tormentors' ministrations, and continuously spoke of his perceptions of reality, events that were currently taking place in the galaxy as Chaos grew in power and the envisioned path for his Legion. During the torture session, Lucius suddenly realised that they had been misled. Misinterpreting the situation, they had been duped by their lord. Lucius immediately bended his knee and prostrated himself before his Primarch as Fulgrim easily tore himself free from his restraints. His fellow conspirators all bowed to their lord and master. Content that his favoured sons had learned from the experience, the Primarch did not punish them for their transgressions, for he was not the daemon-possessed shell of the Phoenix as he had allowed his Astartes to believe, but the man himself.
Fulgrim decided to share with Lucius his motives for such an elaborate ruse. He revealed that he had indeed been possessed by a daemonic entity for quite some time, an entity that had trapped his disembodied spirit within the great portrait that had hung in La Fenice. Unwilling to accept his fate, the Primarch had bided his time and used the tormenting experience to learn of Warp-craft and the infallible ways of daemonkind. He eventually was able to use this newly acquired arcane knowledge to force the daemon out of his mortal body -- swapping places with the foul entity -- and trapping it within the portrait for all time. Presumably, it was the daemon that had been sending Lucius the dark dreams in order to attempt to free itself from its prison. In an attempt to further educate his favoured champion in the unfathomable ways of Chaos, the Primarch's apparent inferiority in his sword techniques was merely a ploy to manipulate Lucius into challenging him. The Primarch went on to explain that his mercurial moods and lack of interest in camaraderie and the IIIrd Legion's rituals were a natural evolution of his nature to achieve perfection along the path laid out by Slaanesh. Fulgrim announced that he intended to go further than anyone in the realms of sensual experience, intent on pushing the boundaries of reality to the extreme. Fulgrim didn't merely want to accomplish these things for the sole acquisition of power, but to experience the journey -- a journey he wanted his sons to undertake with him. He explained that he had ordered the assault on Prismatica V to claim the crystal the Mechanicus had been mining there so that it might be used to erect a wondrous new city of mirrors dedicated to the exploration of sensual pleasure and self-enlightenment through sensation. But the next step on the Emperor's Children's path towards enlightenment through Chaos, was to rendezvous with the Primarch Perturabo and his Iron Warriors Legion.
As Horus' rebellion ground on, the Iron Warriors took the time to humble their great enemies, the Imperial Fists, upon the isolated world of Hydra Cordatus that the Sons of Dorn had recently brought into Imperial Compliance. Following their victory, word reached Perturabo that Fulgrim and his Emperor's Children Legion, wished to rendezvous with him to discuss something of great import. Though the Phoenecian had yet to reveal the true purpose of his visit, he had promised Perturabo that it was "wondrous". Perturabo knew that his brother had a flair for the melodramatic, which only seemed to have gotten worse since the IIIrd Legion threw their lot in with the Warmaster. The Lord of Iron counted none of his fellow Primarchs as close, but the Phoenician's adherence to perfection in all things had once provided common ground between the two superhuman warriors and allowed them to talk as trusted comrades-in-arms if not beloved brothers. What the Emperor's Children had sought with constant movement towards the attainment of perfection, the Iron Warriors earned with rigid discipline and methodical planning; two divergent paths to the same ultimate goal.
Perturabo believed Fulgrim's visit had something to do with the inevitable campaign to be conducted against Mars. The Warmaster needed the Martian theatre fully secured before they moved against Terra, and he believed that Fulgrim was there to seek the Iron Warriors' aid in breaking open the forge-cities of the Mechanicum. If he was right, Perturabo wanted his Legion to have a plan in place to achieve that objective. Until the Iron Warriors received further orders, Perturabo would humour his brother and listen to what Fulgrim had to say. While making plans for the upcoming campaign, Perturabo received word that the Emperor's Children had arrived, unannounced, on the surface of Hydra Cordatus. Over three hundred drop-craft had landed beyond the mouth of the valley where the Iron Warriors had made their encampment.
The IVth Legion quickly gathered in formation to honour the IIIrd Legion with a vanguard to receive them. Battalions of Thorakitai Imperial Army troops stood ranked in their tens of thousands. Before them stood two hundred Grand Battalions of Iron Warriors, fifty thousand warriors in amberdust-burnished warplate. Such a display of might and magnificence had not been seen since the slaughter unleashed upon the black sands of Istvaan V. Yet Perturabo and his senior officers looked on in awe at the gaudy cavalcade of noise, colour and spectacle that emerged from the IIIrd Legion's drop site into the valley. Fulgrim and his Emperor's Children were now completely unrecognisable from the honourable warriors that had once formed the IIIrd Legion. Perturabo knew something fundamental had changed within the Emperor's Children, but could not imagine what purpose the disfigurements and degradations its warriors now sported could possibly serve.
Fulgrim met with his brother Primarch in the private inner sanctum of his command bunker with an enticing offer that Perturabo could not refuse; the means to make it so that the Lord of Iron's every desire could be made real and would never disappoint, never fail to live up to his fondest expectations, and never, ever be eclipsed. Fulgrim came with an offer to unite their mutual forces in battle on a glorious quest. One that might tip the balance of the Warmaster's rebellion. Though Perturabo was suspicious of his brother's intentions, perhaps this joint venture would grant understanding through common cause. Fulgrim revealed his purpose; they were to venture to the Warp Storm that had plagued Perturabo's dreams all of his life. Within it was hidden an ancient and forbidden xenos weapon known as the Angel Exterminatus. It had been hidden in the grave of its doom, a weapon of such power that the stars themselves turned upon it rather than allow it to escape its prison.
Unknown to both the Emperor's Children and the Iron Warriors, they were being pursued by a ragtag group of Loyalist Astartes who were survivors of the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V and were determined to stop the Traitors at all costs. These Loyalist Space Marines were gathered from survivors that had fought their way out of the killing ground of the Urgall Depression on Istvaan V. They had managed to escape the Istvaan System aboard an Iron Hands Strike Cruiser known as the Sisypheum. Iron Hands Astartes and their mortal serfs formed the bulk of the warship's crew, but surviving warriors of the Salamanders and a single Raven Guard Astartes were also counted among their number. In the wake of the slaughter, escape from the Istvaan System had been a nerve shredding series of mad dashes under fire and silent runs through the Traitors' orbital blockade, culminating in a final sprint to the gravipause, the minimum safe distance between a star's mass and a vessel's ability to survive a Warp Jump. The Sisypheum had escaped the trap, but not without great cost.
The months that followed saw the Sisypheum embark on a series of hit-and-run attacks on Traitor forces on the northern frontiers of the galaxy, wreaking harm like a lone predator swimming in a dark ocean. Traitor forces seeking flanking routes through the Segmentum Obscurus were their prey; scout craft, cartographae ships, slow-moving supply hulks heavily laden with mortal troops, ammunition and weapons. Disruption and harassment were the Sisypheum's main objective until contact had been established with disparate groups of Loyalist forces that had also escaped the massacre, and a stratagem of sorts agreed upon. With the Xth Legion too scattered to function in a traditional battlefield role, its surviving commanders found their own way to fight back: as the thorns in the flanks of the leviathan that distract it from the swordthrust to the vitals.
At Cavor Sarta, an Iron Hand known as Sabak Wayland and the lone Raven Guard survivor Nykona Sharrowkyn had captured an Unlingual Cipher Host -- one of the so-called "Kryptos" -- a hybrid abomination creature of the Dark Mechanicum that had previously made the Traitors' code network a cryptographic impossibility to break. With the Kryptos, Loyalist commanders were able to finally access the Traitors' coded communications. And with this knowledge, the Sisypheum's Captain, the Iron Hand Ulrach Branthan, had ordered the Sisypheum to make the circuitous journey to Hydra Cordatus and the meeting of the Traitor Primarchs that had been indicated by the cracked communications. After learning of Fulgrim's intentions to enter the Eye of Terror and recover the Angel Exterminatus, the crew of the Sisypheum made their way towards the Warp Rift, aided by a mysterious Eldar guide with the intention of thwarting the Traitors' plan to acquire the unknown xenos weapon.
The destination of the joint fleet of Iron Warriors and Emperor's Children vessels was the lost Eldar world of Iydris, a world said to have been favoured by the goddess Lileath. Iydris was one of the legendary Crone Worlds, which once formed the heart of the lost Eldar empire before they were consumed by the creation of the vast Warp Rift that was the Eye of Terror following the birth of the Chaos God Slaanesh. The lost world was located at the heart of the Eye of Terror, somehow remaining in a fixed position keeping it from destruction in the gravitational hellstorm of a supermassive black hole that lay at the centre of the eternal Warp Storm. It was from this epicentre that the galaxy vomited unnatural matter into the void, a dark doorway to an unknowable destination and an unimaginably powerful singularity whose gravity was so strong that it consumed light, matter, space and time in its destructive core.
Their ultimate goal was within the Primarchs' grasp; the Sepulchre of Isha's Doom, which sat at the centre of the citadel of Amon ny-shak Kaelis. The citadel stood astride the entrance to the prison tomb of the Angel Exterminatus. Before launching a full planetary assault, the Iron Warriors launched a preliminary orbital bombardment around the citadel, a standard practise when preparing to assault a potentially hostile environment. A cone of fire gouged the surface of Iydris, burning, pounding and flattening in the blink of an eye structures that had stood inviolate for tens of thousands of Terran years. A barren ring of pulverised earth encircled the citadel of Amon ny-shak Kaelis, leaving its walls, towers and temples an isolated island cut off from the rest of the planet's structures by a billowing firestorm of planet-cracking force. In the wake of this orbital bombardment flocks of Thunderhawks, Stormbirds, Warhawks and heavy planetary landers launched from crammed embarkation decks. Bulk tenders descended to low orbit and disgorged thousands of troop carriers, armour lifters and supply barques. Titanic, gravity-cushioned mass-landers moved with majestic slowness as two Titans of the Legio Mortis took to the field, and this was but the first wave of the invasion. Another eight would follow before the martial power of two entire Space Marine Legions and their auxiliary Imperial Army forces had made planetfall.
Amon ny-shak Kaelis
The Traitors' assault began five hours later, despite the full circuit of fortifications still being incomplete. For all intents and purposes, the route into the citadel of Amon ny-shak Kaelis was undefended and their route unopposed. Ever mistrustful of the lack of defences, Perturabo had his Iron Warriors dug in, assuming a perfect formation outside the walls in a layered barbican that protected the Traitor Legions' line of retreat. Fulgrim's host broke apart into individual warbands, ranging in size from around a hundred warriors to groups of nearly a thousand. Each of these autonomous groups appeared to be led by a captain, though such was the bizarre ornamentation and embellishment on each warrior's armour, it was often impossible to discern specific rankings. Leaving the fortified bridgehead behind, Perturabo led his Iron Warriors and the Emperor's Children contingent into the heart of Amon ny-shak Kaelis. The Sepulchre of Isha's Doom was a monumental palace, sprawling and richly ornamented with bulbous mourn-towers and sweeping, ivory-roofed domes. As the column of Traitors pressed onwards towards the sepulchre, they were being silently and unknowingly observed by the Loyalist Astartes of the Sisypheum. Despite being outnumbered a thousand to one, the small force of Loyalist Legionaries devised a means to find another way into the massive sepulchre.
As the two Primarchs neared their ultimate goal, Fulgrim kept pressing his stern brother with curt impatience to not linger. Perturabo took the time to study Fulgrim and his assembled host. His brother was sheened in sweat, but it was not perspiration that beaded his brow, Fulgrim was sweating light. Though it was faint, it was visible to Perturabo's gene-enhanced sight that saw beyond what even Astartes eyes were capable of detecting. He wondered if Fulgrim was aware of the radiance bleeding from him and decided he must be. His brother's armour strained against his body and his features were drawn and tired, as though only by an effort of will was he still standing. His captains looked no better, like hounds straining at the leash. A number of Fulgrim's Lord Commanders' flesh was also suffused with a light similar to that enveloping Fulgrim, a deathly radiance that had no place within a living being. Perturabo did not trust Fulgrim one bit, knowing that inevitably he would be betrayed by his brother. The Lord of Iron pressed on, intent on bringing their quest to completion. As they neared their final destination at the heart of the sepulchre, the power at the heart of Iydris spasmed in hateful recognition of the followers of Slaanesh, known to the Eldar as She Who Thirsts, and awoke its guardians from their slumber.
Thousands of crystalline statues threw off their previous immobility. They moved stiffly, like sleepers awoken from an aeons-long slumber, and the gems at the heart of their bulbous heads bled vibrant colour into glassy bodies that suddenly seemed significantly less fragile. This army of wraiths were the Eldar dead of Iydris. Soon both the Traitor forces outside the citadel as well as those inside were attacked from all sides by the revenant army. Like automata, but with a hideously organic feel to their movements, the Eldar constructs emerged in their thousands with every passing second. As Perturabo was busy fighting for his life, Fulgrim slipped away in the midst of the fighting. Realising where he had gone, the Lord of Iron stepped into the green glow emanating from the centre of the massive chamber. Perturabo understood that this was no elemental energy or mechanically generated motive force, but the distilled essence of all those who had died there.
Perturabo descended downwards on an unending spiral towards a point of light that grew no brighter no matter how far he descended. The journey downwards was never-ending, or so it seemed until it ended. Fulgrim stood at the origin of a slender bridge that arched out to the centre of a spherical chamber of incredible, sanity-defying proportions. The footings of the bridge were anchored on the equator, and a score of other bridges reached out to where a seething ball of numinous jade light blazed like a miniature sun. Iydris, it transpired, was a hollow world, its core this colossal void with the impossibly bright sun at its heart. Perturabo confronted his brother, realising that there was never an Angel Exterminatus. Fulgrim confirmed for Perturabo that there was no such weapon yet, for he was to be the Angel Exterminatus. Perturabo responded that his brother always did have an appetite for rampant narcissism, but this was the grandest delusion yet. Unamused at Fulgrim's explanation, Perturabo took a step towards his brother, Forgebreaker in his hand, intent on killing him. Fulgrim spoke a single word, its nightmare syllables tore at Perturabo's brain, causing him to stumble and drop to one knee. Fulgrim revealed the reason for his brother being drained of energy.
When Fulgrim had arrived on Hydra Cordatus he had presented the Lord of Iron with a gift; a folded cloak of softest ermine, trimmed with foxbat fur and embroidered with an endlessly repeating pattern of spirals in the golden proportion. A flattened skull of chromed steel acted as the fastener. Set in the skull's forehead was a gemstone the size of a fist, black and veined with hair-fine threads of gold. As they had made their way towards the heart of the Eye of Terror, the large gemstone at the centre of the skull-carved cloak pin had changed from black to a solid gold colour and pulsed with its own internal heartbeat. This was the maugetar stone, known as the harvester, which had slowly been draining Perturabo's strength and life force. With the Lord of Iron's sacrifice, Fulgrim would finally be able to achieve apotheosis. The two Primarchs ascended upwards within the shaft of light, emerging into the chaos that was happening within the heart of the sepulchre.
Apotheosis of Fulgrim
The Primarch of the Emperor's Children hurled his brother aside, and Perturabo fell in a languid arc to land with a crunch of metal and crystal at the edge of the shaft. Blood trailed the air in a streaming red arc from Perturabo's chest. The Lord of Iron lay unmoving, his body broken and lifeless. The attention of every Astartes within the chamber was irrevocably drawn towards the Primarch, for they recognised that an event of great moment was in the offing. The Phoenician was no longer the same being as had descended into the planet. He floated in the air above the shaft, which no longer poured its green torrent up to the restless darkness above, but simply radiated a fading glow of dying light. Fulgrim's armour was shimmering with vitality, as though the light of a thousand suns were contained within him and strained to break free. The Primarch's dark, doll-like eyes were twin black holes, doorways to heights of experience and sensation the likes of which could only be dreamed by madmen and those willing to go to any lengths to taste them.
Just as Fulgrim was about to achieve his ultimate desire, Perturabo had regained enough of his former strength and rose to his feet, the maugetar stone in his hand. Perturabo walked towards Fulgrim, keeping the hand holding the maugetar stone extended over the shaft in the center of the chamber. Perturabo looked his brother in the eye for some hint of remorse, a sign that he regretted that things had come to this, something to show he felt even a moment of shame at plotting to murder his brother. He saw nothing, and his heart broke to know that the Fulgrim he had known long ago was gone, never to return. He had not thought it possible that anyone could plunge so far as to be beyond redemption. Perturabo knew that Fulgrim no longer wanted to be an angel, he wanted to be a god. He informed the Phoenician that Mankind had outgrown such beings a long time ago. Disgusted by Fulgrim's desires, Perturabo hurled the maugetar stone into the deep shaft.
Suddenly, a barrage of Bolter fire erupted and a handful of Emperor's Children Astartes were pitched from their feet. Black-armoured Space Marines bearing a mailed fist upon their shoulder guards charged towards the Traitors. It was the Astartes of the Xth Legion, the Iron Tenth -- the Iron Hands. Soon the battle was joined, as Loyalist fought Traitor within the expansive chamber. The noose of battle was closing on the two Primarchs at its centre -- Perturabo locked on his knees, and Fulgrim hovering in the air as though bound to his brother by ties not even the call of war could break. The Iron Hands were mired in battle with the Emperor's Children and Iron Warriors, zipping streams of fire blasting back and forth between them. During the battle, one of the Loyalist Astartes, the Raven Guard named Sharrowkyn, had acquired the fallen maugetar stone. He instinctively knew that if this stone was desired by Fulgrim, then it had to be destroyed. Taking a Bolter from a fallen Emperor's Children Astartes, he aimed the muzzle at the strange gold and black stone and pulled the trigger.
The weakened Perturabo was renewed with the sudden release of his lifeforce from the Chaotic relic. Fulgrim's body arched in sympathetic resonance, for the maugetar stone contained more than just the strength stolen from Perturabo by Fulgrim. It contained their mingled essences, a power greater than the sum of its parts, a power to fuel an ascent so brutal that only the combined life-force of two Primarchs could achieve it. Armour burned from Fulgrim's body, flaking away like golden dust in a hurricane, leaving his monstrously swollen body naked and his flesh blazing with furnace heat. Spectral flames of shimmering pink and purple licked around his body, a hungry fire waiting to consume him the moment his focus slipped. As the Lord of Iron finally pushed himself upright and stood fully erect, he lifted Forgebreaker onto his shoulder. Fulgrim saw his death in Perturabo's eyes and grinned, knowing that his brother had to do it. Perturabo hefted Forgebreaker like a headsman at an execution and swung the mighty hammer in a wide arc, splitting the Phoenician's body wide open. It was done.
Fulgrim's body exploded under the impact of Perturabo's warhammer, and the cry of release was a shrieking birth scream. An explosion of pure force ripped from the Phoenician's destroyed flesh, filling the chamber of towers with a blinding light that was too bright to look upon, too radiant to ignore. Like a newborn sun, the wondrous incandescence was the centre of all things, a rebirth in fire, new flesh crafted from the ashes of the old. Every eye in the chamber was turned to the light, though it would surely blind them or drive them to madness. Through slitted fingers and shimmering reflections, the survivors of the fighting bore witness to something magnificent and terrible, an agonising death and violent birth combined. A figure floated in the midst of the light, and it took a moment for Perturabo to recognise the impossibility of what he was seeing. It was Fulgrim, naked and pristine, his body unsullied by any of the mawkish ornamentations with which he had defaced his flesh, as perfect as the day the Emperor had first conceived him. Fulgrim's back arched and his bones split with gunshot cracks. His flesh, once so perfect, now ran fluid and malleable, his form moulding and remoulding as though an invisible sculptor pressed and worked him like clay upon a wheel. Fulgrim's legs, extended like the man of Vitruvius, ran and lengthened, fusing together in a writhing serpent's tail, the skin thickening and sheening with reptilian scales and segmented plates of chitnous armour. Pertubrabo took a step towards this thing being born from the death of his brother, all the while despairing that this was his brother.
Perturabo had destroyed Fulgrim's mortal shell. This was an immaterial avatar of light and energy, of soul and desire. What was being done here was an act of will, a creature birthing itself through its own desire to exist. Fulgrim's face was a mask of agonised rapture, a pain endured for the pleasure it promised. Two obsidian horns erupted from Fulgrim's brow, curling back over his skull, leaving his perfect face as unsullied as the most innocent child. Fulgrim ascended into Chaos, a prince of the Neverborn, a lord of the Ruinous Powers, the chosen and beloved Champion of Slaanesh. As the newborn Daemon Prince departed, the first of the Traitor Primarchs to achieve daemonic apotheosis, he left his brother with a cryptic message that they would one day meet again, and both brothers would yet renew their bonds. Lifting his hands into the air, a curtain of light rose up from the ground and Fulgrim and all of his Emperor's Children Chaos Space Marines disappeared in a flare of arcane teleportation energy.
With the disappearance of the Emperor's Children, the Crone World of Iydris began to tear itself apart. The force at the heart of the world was no more. The strength of the lifeforces of the dead Eldar that had kept it safe was failing, and soon this planet would be swallowed by the unimaginable force of the supermassive black hole that lay at the heart of the Eye of Terror. Across the chasm, the remaining Iron Hands gathered up their wounded and fell back from the spreading fissures and heaving ruptures opening in the floor. They looked upon Perturabo with hatred, but decided to make their way off-world from the doomed planet. They knew that they could not fight the Lord of Iron and live through the encounter. Perturabo let the Iron Hands depart. Then he led his warriors out of the crumbling citadel. Once aboard his flagship the Iron Blood, Perturabo watched the final death throes of the Eldar Crone World.
The Iron Blood strained to break orbit, but the force at the heart of the Eye of Terror was reasserting its grip on reality with a vengeance. Many of the smaller vessels of the Iron Warriors survivor fleet that had followed the Sisypheum had already been dragged within its embrace, swallowed by the black hole's powerful energies. Only the capital ships had engines large enough to resist the inexorable pull, but even they were only delaying the inevitable. Perturabo's Triarchs stood patiently around their lord, awaiting his orders. The Lord of Iron informed them that he always moved forward, never backwards. They would go into the black hole. Though his senior commanders believed that it was suicide, the Lord of Iron informed them that Fulgrim had promised that the two brothers would meet again. The Iron Warriors were not meant to die within the Eye, and there was only one way onwards. His men moved to carry out his order, and the Iron Warriors fleet plunged deep into the heart of Terror.
Flames of Rebellion
Over the next seven years that followed the massacre on Istvaan V, Horus' rebellion spread across the galaxy, consuming the entire Imperium in the flames of the horrific civil war known to history as the Horus Heresy. By the time the final Battle of Terra began, the Emperor's Children had become only shadows of their former glorious selves, wholly consumed by the desires of Slaanesh, with every trace of decency long lost. While the other Traitor Legions assaulted the Imperial Palace, the Emperor's Children instead launched themselves upon the innocent citizens of Terra, engaging in a mad orgy of rape, terror and mutilation that only barely began to satiate their all-consuming, Slaanesh-inspired hunger for hedonistic pleasure, pain and sensation. Billions of Terrans were used as human guinea pigs or raw materials in the Emperor's Childrens' constant desire to create ever more powerful stimulants, as daemonic hosts to bring Slaaneshi Daemonic Legions to the fight from the Warp or were simply slain outright to allow a Traitor Marine the fleeting enjoyment brought on by the sensation of brutal murder.
The history of the Emperor's Children in the period that followed the defeat of the Traitor Legions at the Siege of Terra is largely obscured from Imperial scholars, for obvious reasons. When Horus was finally defeated by the Emperor aboard his Battle Barge the Vengeful Spirit, the Emperor's Children left a trail of depopulated worlds in their wake as they fled alongside the other Traitor Legions into the Eye of Terror. As their supply of slaves was exhausted by their constant abuse, the remains of the IIIrd Legion resorted to raiding the other Traitor Legions for fresh meat to feed their endless perversions, and in the end were crushed by their angry brethren in a series of bloody wars known as the Slave Wars that tore the Traitor Legions apart as they lost the guiding and unifying hand of Horus. Among the schemes hatched during this time was one by the Apothecary Fabius Bile to steal the corpse of Horus from the Sons of Horus' fortress on the Daemon World of Maeleum and clone the lost leader to resurrect the Warmaster and revive the Traitor Legions' fortunes. While Bile's warbands succeeded in assaulting the fortress and reclaiming the body, their action roused Ezekyle Abaddon to reassert control over the Sons of Horus and to launch a counter-assault that ultimately shattered what remaining unity the Emperor's Children had possessed.
The newly formed Black Legion would launch an audacious attack on Harmony, the new throne world of the Emperor's Children. Despite being severely outnumbered, Abaddon's cunning plan would carry the day, as the Vengeful Spirit had been dragging behind them a derelict Thousand Sons vessel which was almost two kilometres long and weighed eight megatonnes. The Thousand Sons' sorcerer Iskandar Khayon had telekinetically dragged its empty corpse across the Eye of Terror, just as Abaddon had asked of him. And then he hurled it right into the heart of the IIIrd Legion's fortress. Less than a solar minute passed from the moment the derelict vessel entered Harmony's atmosphere to the second it struck the ground. Long enough to let the population see death falling towards them. Not long enough to do anything about it. The Vengeful Spirit 's sensors recorded tectonic unrest grave enough to send tremors rippling across the other side of the world. Harmony itself heaved with torment. In the aftermath of the devastating attack, Canticle City was no more. Abaddon and his allies later assaulted Bile's fleeing vessel, cutting down the Clone Lord's vile creations as they fought their way into the heart of the IIIrd Legion vessel. When they came upon Bile's fleshworks, Abaddon was confronted by Horus Reborn. The two fought a brutal duel, which culminated in the death of the cloned Warmaster. Utilising the reclaimed Talon of Horus, Abaddon rammed the five claws deeply into Horus's chest and out his back. As the genetic god's blood rained down to the filthy laboratory floor the Storm Bolter on the Talon's back kicked three times, burying six bolts inside Horus's exposed chest and neck. The bolts exploded, blasting the clone apart from within. Abaddon would go on to proclaim himself as Horus' rightful successor as the Warmaster of Chaos and reestablished the Sons of Horus as the Black Legion, the mightiest of the Traitor Legions in service to the Ruinous Powers. In the course of the following conflicts, the Emperor's Childrens' unity as an Astartes Legion was shattered and they devolved into a series of small, competing warbands. Because of the losses they suffered on Terra and in the Slave Wars, warbands of the Emperor's Children are rare today in the galaxy of the late 41st Millennium. This is certainly a boon for the galaxy as the Emperor's Children love to take prisoners. There is perhaps no worse way to die than at the hands of these superhuman Slaaneshi fanatics -- save for perhaps facing the tender mercies of the Dark Eldar.
Perhaps the greatest mystery surrounds the fate of the Primarch Fulgrim himself, for it appears that he disappeared entirely. Some say that the Dark Prince of Chaos granted him apotheosis, and he assumed the mantle of a Daemon Primarch -- his mortal shape transformed into a serpentine form with four arms very similar to the appearance of the Laer xenos that Fulgrim and his Legion had exterminated when he began his fall to Chaos. Others claim that he was already possessed by a powerful Warp entity, and so such a fate could not have come about. There are those that claim that Fulgrim has retreated to some Daemon World of his own creation, and rules there still, overseeing such debased extremes of sensation and experience as no mortal can imagine. Some of those who revere Slaanesh regard this mythical place as the holy of holies, and spend entire lifetimes obsessively questing after it. To this day, many of the scattered surviving warbands of the Emperor's Children and the agents of the Inquisition's Ordo Malleus seek the location of this world, but none have yet returned with that information. Following the Horus Heresy, Fulgrim was last seen in realspace fighting Roboute Guilliman, the Primarch of the Ultramarines Chapter and its Successors. During their great duel, Fulgrim proved too crafty and guileful, slitting Guilliman's throat with the toxic Anathame that had nearly slain Horus himself without the intervention of the Chaos Gods to heal him. Guilliman was placed within a stasis field and returned to the Ultramarines' homeworld of Macragge where his body became a focus for the devotion of countless generations of Imperial pilgrims, while Fulgrim retreated into the Warp.
- Proximan Rebellion (ca. 829.M30) - The Proximan Rebellion is one of the earliest recorded engagements of the as-yet unnamed IIIrd Legion. Assigned to the Imperial Compliance ceremonies and as the Emperor's honour guard for Proxima's formal accession into the Imperium, an insurrectionist trap was sprung which resulted in the IIIrd Legion's XVIth Cohort (Chapter) fighting and dying to the last warrior alongside the Legio Custodes, never giving ground during the insurrectionist surprise attack on that world's ceremonial plaza. By their sacrifice was the wounded Emperor, who had suffered injury through the use of a Vortex weapon by the enemy, bought time to recover and fight his way clear of the Proximan insurrectionists' trap. In recognition of this sacrifice, the standard of the Palatine Aquila so fiercely fought for that day was given to the Astartes of the IIIrd Legion by the Emperor's own hand, to be their relic ever after, along with the right to end the Proximan revolt by Exterminatus and so repay the blood that was owed them. While the great Aquila in its variations signified both the Imperium of Humanity and loyalty to the Emperor as its master, and there is much allegory bound up in its form, for the IIIrd Legion it also now represented their own deeds as well, an honour never given to another Space Marine Legion before the Great Betrayal.
- Praxil Compliance (Unknown Date.M30) - The Praxil System was settled by humanity in the distant past and had remained isolated for millennia. Even without Warp-capable starships the people of Praxil had still managed to flourish instead of regressing to barbarism. Though bringing Praxil into Imperial Compliance would bring the Imperium great renown, this formidable civilisation refused to bend the knee to the light of the Imperial Truth, and instead were prepared to fight to maintain their independence. Their warfleet was formidable, and managed to push back the initial invasion of the Imperial Expeditonary Fleet. But if the Praxil warships proved formidable, their warriors proved to be downright deadly. Drawn from the system's prison colonies, each was already a formidable killer and survivor. Implanted with drug glands, vat-grown muscle and bone grafts, mind-wiped and conditioned with battle-memes, they were lethal and dangerous, even to Astartes. Armoured in partially powered battle plate, bearing high penetration laser weaponry and fractally sharpened blades, they posed a grave risk to the Imperial forces. The Imperium wanted Praxil's wealth and resources to harness to the needs of the Great Crusade, and so the securing of Praxil fell to an Army-Group-sized force of the Emperor's Children, supported by selected elements of the Imperial Army and the forces of the Mechanicum. Despite meticulous planning, the campaign did not begin well as substantial losses were inflicted upon the Imperial forces. Changing their strategy, the Emperor's Children decided that instead of focusing on a systematic conquest of the system's void stations, moons and planets, they would instead focus upon Praxil's fleet. Without the ability to redeploy their strength, each of the Praxil domains would become a closed tactical problem. But the Praxil had anticipated such tactics, and instead deployed multiple strike fleets to attack the Imperial fleet. Substantial losses were incurred during this initial engagement as the Praxil took advantage and attacked the Imperial toehold on their outer moons and stations. A representative of the War Council of Terra observed that the Emperor's Children's Lord Commander Iddinam, who was charged with the command of the Praxil Compliance, would never willingly admit that he needed assistance, and therefore issued a request to Terra for reinforcements. Soon elements from the Blood Angels Legion under the command of Chapter Master Raldoron and Marshal Cazimus of the Imperial Fists arrived in-system to augment the beleaguered Imperial forces. Despite his misgivings and slight to his personal honour, the Lord Commander accepted his cousin Legions' assistance and immediately drew up plans for prosecuting the second offensive against the Praxil. Utilising the strength of the Blood Angels and Imperial Fists Legions, the Emperor's Children launched a successful second offensive against the Praxil that soon saw an Imperial victory. When the Imperium claimed its victory, however, Lord Commander Iddinam refused to acknowledge his role in effecting the Compliance of Praxil, and would later have a hand as a prime conspirator of his Legion's treachery during the Istvaan III Atrocity.
- Defence of Tranquility (Unknown Date.M30) - The Defence of Tranquility was a protracted and vicious engagement fought by the Emperor's Children on the periphery of the Dalinite Nebula region during the early phase of the Great Crusade's progress into the Galactic East. This volatile of region of space would have been bypassed by the Crusade's forces altogether, leaving its vermin inhabitants to kill themselves in their bloody internecine conflicts, but there was something present in the region that drew the conquering armies like insects to light -- the Dalinite Gates. The Dalinite Gates were part of the mysterious series of Warp Gates scattered across the stars that had been crafted by ancient and forgotten intelligent species of the Milky Way, which allowed starships to cross the vast distances of space more safely than even the finest Navigators could achieve. This particular Warp Gate, however, was believed to be a nexus point that could allow access to other Warp Gates across the galaxy, greatly increasing the ability of the Imperium's fleets to reach new targets and expand the reach of the Emperor's forces. Under the overall command of Horus of the Luna Wolves Legion, several Imperial Expeditionary Fleets were combined to prosecute a campaign to purge the Dalinite Nebula. Amongst these Imperial forces were the Emperor's Children, although at this time their fighting strength was still very limited, comprising a single Cohort of barely 500 warriors. Nevertheless, the Emperor's Children were given the important role of securing the world of Tranquility on the trailing edge of the Imperial advance. The world was utterly worthless except that a Warp Gate, designated the Tranquility Gate, hung in high orbit above the planet's pole and a forward Imperial navigation and signal relay had been constructed there. The Emperor's Children would stand vigil in case the gate was used to threaten the Imperial advance. Without warning a fleet of xenos warships emerged from the gate. Outmatching the Imperial vessels in orbit, the xenos fleet soon mounted a ground assault against Tranquility's surface. Outmatched by the numbers of xenos committed to the assault, the Emperor's Children were forced to make a tactical withdrawal into the surrounding maze of Tranquility's fissures and stacks, although in retreat the Emperor's Children were far from beaten. As the xenos advanced, the Emperor's Children pulled them onwards, striking back, feigning flight and then punishing the foe at every turn. As the xenos' losses mounted with gathering speed, they frantically attempted to sweep the surface with fire from their orbiting warships in an attempt to gain an advantage. In response, the Imperial warships executed a rapid, desperate counterattack -- a murderous, pre-planned engagement at point-blank range as the xenos directed their weapons downwards, rendering themselves vulnerable. Seven of the nine alien warships were destroyed in a matter of minutes. Unable to sustain their crushing losses, the remaining xenos craft fled back through the Warp Gate, leaving their surviving fighters on the planet's surface, dooming them to annihilation at the hands of the Emperor's Children.
- The Fall of the Lords of Gardinaal (Unknown Date.M30) - During the Great Crusade there were many human worlds, indeed in some cases petty interstellar empires, who resisted the Imperial Truth through fear, fanaticism or arrogance, and of these some number possessed considerable might of arms, enough to give even the Expeditionary Fleets of the Great Crusade pause. One such was the Gardinaal; a solar empire at the edge of the Dominion of Storms to the galactic east. Comprising eleven inhabited worlds, grown strong on industrial power retained through the Age of Strife and a warlike military aristocracy, it was deemed an ideal prize well-worthy of inclusion intact for the Imperium. In particular, Gardinaal's extensive and well-equipped armed forces would make ideal inductees into the ranks of the Imperial Army. As such, negotiations for the inclusion of Gardinaal in the Imperium were deemed the first course of action, and a full delegation with an honour guard drawn from the Thousand Sons Legion was sent to meet with the lords of the pocket empire. At first, the talks proved promising, but soon degenerated when the Lords of Gardinaal's position became laboured and obstructive, believed to be an attempt to forestall an invasion while the Gardinaal covertly readied itself for war. When the Thousand Sons detachment detected a psychic attempt to subvert the Imperial emissaries, they intervened, slaughtering the Gardinaal delegation, enabling the Imperial Expedition to flee, bringing news of the treacherous attack to the Imperium. The nearby 413th Expeditionary Fleet, under the command of Master Ulan Cicerus and his XVth Chapter of the Ultramarines Legion, a strong Imperial Army core of Marnean Armsmen and Serranic Peltasts and a demi-legio of the Titan Legio Atarus were dispatched. Initially, the Imperial forces overcame the defences of Gardinaal's outer worlds and established a blockade in space. The Ultramarines' attempt to take Gardinaal Prime with minimal collateral loss would prove disastrous, as the Gardinaal utilised powerful STC weaponry and vehicles never before seen by Imperial forces. The Ultramarines and Titans were hurled back and forced to retreat off-planet rather than fight on with no possibility of victory. Nearly half of the demi-legio was lost and the Ultramarines' casualties were just as severe, but worse, over 500,000 troops of the Imperial Army lay dead or dying on Gardinaal Prime. Repulsed and bled dry, the 413th Expedition was unable to launch another assault. Breaking from the Warp to answer the Ultramarines call for aid, at the head of a new war-host, Ferrus Manus led an armada comprised of both the Iron Hands and the Emperor's Children Legions. The Emperor's Children contingent led a diversionary attack, sowing panic and death across the world but leaving its infrastructure intact. Descending at the height of the diversionary attacks, the Iron Hands divided the task of taking Gardinaal Prime's main industrialised zones between the Iron Hands Clans. The assault of the Xth Legion was relentless and tireless, a battle fought across a thousand engagements spread over an entire world. With their domains fallen about them, the Lords of Gardinaal offered unconditional surrender to the Imperium. Ferrus Manus refused and the Iron Hands led the final attack on the capital city. The Ultramarines, desperate to reclaim their honour from their earlier defeat, requested the honour of crossing the breach into the enemy citadel. The Gorgon acquiesced to the Ultramarines' request, but the price the warriors of the XIIIth Legion paid was high, for the defenders' counterattack was powerful, sparing none of their remaining might. When the last of the Lords of Gardinaal had paid for their intransigence, Ferrus Manus spoke, his orders not a death sentence of a world, but of its reprieve: "It is done." The Iron Hands fleet left the Gardinaal System shortly afterwards, its other inhabited worlds pleased to surrender unconditionally to the Imperium's mercy. Though initially faced with famine and hardship, Gardinaal soon proved a valuable addition to the Imperium and a model of Imperial Compliance.
- Extinction of the Katara (Unknown Date.M30) - The xenocide of the alien Katara was a brutal campaign of extermination carried out against this insular Abhuman civilisation that had evolved in the Kenuit System during the Age of Strife, turning irrevocably from the purity of the human form and the fellowship of Mankind. When first discovered by an Emperor's Children fleet, the first signs indicated that the system's Imperial Compliance could be achieved without bloodshed. Initially offering no resistance, matters only deteriorated when the Katara were asked directly to formally surrender to the Imperium. Soon a lone Kataran warship arrived and destroyed the Light Cruiser Locrian before sustaining damage itself and withdrawing. So provoked, acting Lieutenant Commander Abdemon ordered the invasion of the largest Kataran city-complex the Imperial fleet's augurs could detect. Commencing an orbital bombardment which cracked open the upper levels of the Kataran city, the Emperor's Children landed, suspecting that they would face mass resistance to their invasion. Instead, they encountered lone Kataran warriors clad in strange armour made from an exotic metal who fought with leaf-bladed ceramic axes, plasma-tipped spears that burned like suns and swords of black glass that could cut ceramite with a delicate stroke. The skill in which the Kartarans wielded their weapons was dazzling even to the Emperor's Children. The Katara's diplomatic representatives came forward again after hundreds of their warriors had died in their seemingly insane, staggered attacks and requested to meet once more under truce. The Kataran diplomat brought a proposal: let the war be decided by a chosen champion from each side. At the end the victor would claim not only victory for himself but for his civilisation. Incredibly, Lieutenant Commander Abdemon agreed and said that he would enter the field as the Imperium's champion. The two warriors fought, until at last both were sheeted in blood. That is when the Imperial champion got under the alien's guard and delivered the killing blow. With their champion defeated, the Kataran representatives ordered that all should know that their people had been defeated by an enemy of equal honour but superior arts. The order given, the Kataran leaders fell on their own swords before the Emperor's Children. Across all their domains every member of the Katara followed their leaders in death and the Kataran cities became massive tombs. Though some advocated stripping the now unoccupied worlds and beginning a process of resettlement, Lieutenant Commander Abdemon and the Emperor's Children refused, decreeing that the Kataran planet would become a Mortuary World. The cites would remain untouched until time remade them, and the corpses of their makers returned to dust. Relics were collected from their dead so that the Katara would be remembered as honourable foes.
- Pacification of Schravaan (Mid-800s.M30) - This was a joint Imperial Compliance action conducted by the Emperor's Children, Iron Warriors, Imperial Fists, and the Luna Wolves Legions against the xenos Badoon on the world of Schravaan. The Iron Warriors won a great victory when they stormed the final refuge of the Badoon. They breached the defences and held while the other Legions carried the city beyond. During the following victory feast, Horus proclaimed Perturabo the greatest master of siege warfare in the Great Crusade. Fulgrim then inquired to his brother Dorn whether he thought even the defences of the Imperial Palace could resist the Iron Warriors, in which Dorn replied that he regarded the defences as being proof against any assault if well-planned. Perturabo flew into a rage and unleashed unfounded accusations against his brother. After this the two rarely spoke, and neither of their Legions served in the same campaign for the remainder of the Great Crusade.
- Compliance of Molech (869.M30) - The Compliance of the newly discovered Knight World of Molech was a monumental undertaking. Led by the Emperor Himself, the massive joint-Compliance campaign was conducted by multiple Legiones Astartes, including the Emperor's Children, Luna Wolves, Dark Angels, White Scars and several thousands troops of the Imperialis Auxilia as well as assets from the Mechanicum and cohorts of the Legio Titanicus. Cyprian Devine of House Devine was named Planetary Governor of Molech. In the presence of several of His Primarch sons, the Emperor led them to a hidden Warp portal underground, where He proceeded to enter into the Realm of Chaos to parley with the Ruinous Powers. When He returned, the Emperor appeared aged, but much more powerful. He then suppressed His sons' memories of Molech and stationed a large garrison force comprised of nearly 100 Imperialis Auxilia regiments, three Legio Titanicus cohorts, and detachments from two Space Marine Legions to protect the secrets of the Warp portal on Molech.
- Pacification of the Cheraut System (Mid-900s.M30) - Following the successful joint-Compliance of the Cheraut System by the Emperor's Children, Imperial Fists and Night Lords Legions, the three Primarchs met in celebration. After the celebration, the Night Lords Primarch suffered one of his violent fits that often plagued him, and Fulgrim rushed to Konrad Curze's aid. The Night Haunter then confided in his brother the dire visions that he had seen; his death at the hands of their father, that many of the Primarchs would die fighting amongst themselves, and that the light the Emperor brought to his homeworld of Nostramo would destroy it forever. Troubled by these dire portents, Fulgrim confided in his brother Rogal Dorn. Dorn took exception to this slight on the Emperor's name and confronted Curze. Shortly thereafter, Dorn was found unconscious and bleeding with great gouges of flesh ripped away from his torso. Crouching above his fallen brother was the pallid form of the Night Haunter, weeping. Wracked with self-loathing and guilt, Curze was taken into custody and exiled to his chambers, while his brother Primarchs discussed what actions to take against their deeply disturbed brother. Hours later, when the council of Primarchs finally disbanded, they found Night Haunter missing and the Imperial Fists honour guard watching over him butchered. By the time the Primarchs gave chase, Night Haunter had already disappeared with his Legion into the Warp.
- Cleansing of 28-3 (Laeran) (ca. 000.M31) - Shortly after the beginning of their participation in the Great Crusade on their own terms, the Emperor`s Children 28th Expeditionary Fleet encountered a hitherto-unknown serpentine alien race who called themselves the Laer. Analysis of captured scouts and envoys showed the Laer to be concentrated in a single star system on a single homeworld completely covered by a global ocean called Laeran (officially codified as Twenty-Eight-Three). Nonetheless, they had the potential to be a powerful foe. Like the Emperor's Children themselves, the Laer prized perfection in all aspects of civilisation. By the use of chemical manipulation from birth, individual Laer were adapted to their roles, whether they be workers, soldiers, diplomats, even artists. Observers from the Adeptus Administratum wondered if perhaps the Laer might be made a protectorate of the Imperium as conquering such an efficient race could prove to be a long and costly endeavour. Fulgrim refused any notion of co-operation. Only humanity was perfect, he insisted. For an alien race to hold its own ideals to be comparable to those of humanity was blasphemy in its most blatant form, and deserved nothing less than annihilation. He ordered his Lord Commanders to attack immediately, beginning a war that the Council of Terra predicted would last for decades. Fulgrim heard this prediction, and shook his head. In one month`s time, he promised, the Imperium would rule Laeran. The Emperor's Children, in concert with Lord Commander Fayle's Imperial Army regiments of the Archite Palatines, attacked the Laer in space, on the surface of their world, beneath their oceans and over the hulls of their orbital platforms. Laeran itself was a remarkable world in which the serpentine Laer had used anti-gravity technology to float massive coral platforms above their world's ocean where they chose to live after global warming had sunk all of Laer's continental masses. Everywhere the Astartes faced enemies adapted to their conditions by genetic enhancement -- warships connected directly to their crews' minds using cybernetic technology, the Laer's amphibious warriors could breathe underwater through gills, their scouts were capable of moving as fast as a Land Speeder, their gunners possessed eyesight that allowed them to target individual Space Marines miles distant. The casualties on both sides were horrendous -- it is estimated that, if not for the excellence of the IIIrd Legion's Apothecaries, more than half of its warriors would have died from their wounds. The Laer never surrendered -- their last warriors died fighting in the ruins of their capital city to protect their central temple dedicated to the worship of the Chaos God Slaanesh. One month after he had begun the attack, Fulgrim planted a standard displaying the Imperial Aquila over their corpses, leaving it the only thing standing unblemished on Laer. Over seven hundred of his men were dead, six times that number injured, but Fulgrim believed he had kept his promise. Against the most finely-honed alien warriors ever encountered, humanity had proven itself more powerful.Of course, the conquest of the Laer represented the beginning of Fulgrim and the entire IIIrd Legion's damnation and the beginning of their turn away from the service of the Emperor. Yet the Laeran System, for ten thousand standard years now, has been home to three Imperial cities and a dozen mining colonies, and all traces of its former xenos rulers and their corruption are gone.
- Compliance of 140-20 (Urisarach/"Murder") (ca. 001.M31) - After victory against the Laer, Lord Commander Eidolon departed the 28th Expeditionary Fleet with the elite 1st Company of the Emperor's Children to take part in the reinforcement of the IXth Legion, the Blood Angels, upon the Death World of Urisarach, which was officially codified in Imperial records as One-Forty-Twenty, the twentieth world to be brought into Imperial Compliance by the 140th Expeditionary Fleet. This world was discovered by that fleet, which was commanded by the Blood Angels Legion's Captain Khitas Frome. Unable to translate the warnings from the orbiting Interex satellite beacons that warned approaching starships to stay away from Urisarach since it was a prison world for the dangerous sentient xenos species known as the Megarachnids, Captain Frome ordered the fleet's entire contingent of three companies of Space Marines to begin landing operations to investigate and bring the planet into Imperial Compliance. Due to the extreme atmospheric turbulence, all of the Blood Angels' shuttles attempting to land on the planet became scattered and were thrown far off-course which left the Imperial landing parties isolated from each other. The atmosphere also affected Vox (radio) communications and made it difficult for the Imperial forces to coordinate their movements. Ground teams soon started sending garbled transmissions to the fleet's ships in orbit, reporting that the planet was inhabited by extremely hostile xenos. As the reports continued, the large arachnid-like xenos were described as too numerous and formidable to defeat without reinforcements. Not long afterwards, the Blood Angels made urgent distress calls requesting immediate reinforcements and extraction. The last transmission received by the fleet came from Captain Khitas Frome himself, who noted through clenched teeth, "This. World. Is. Murder." The name stuck and became the Imperium's informal appellation for Urisarach thereafter. A company of the Emperor's Children Legion under the command of Lord Commander Eidolon eventually arrived in response to the Blood Angels' distress calls. They made the same mistakes the Blood Angels had made, and had their landing parties scattered by the planet's powerful atmospheric disturbances. While the company took heavy casualties, one landing party led by Captain Saul Tarvitz discovered a large rock-like structure that resembled a dead tree. This "tree" had the bodies of several Blood Angels Space Marines impaled on its many branches with flying variants of the Megarachnids feasting upon the bodies. After destroying the structure, the sky above where the "tree" had been suddenly began to clear of the violent storms that had afflicted the Imperial forces from the beginning. Captain Tarvitz realised that these structures were actually artificial weather control devices that were responsible for Murder's heavy atmospheric turbulence. The Megarachnids immediately went about rebuilding the "tree" and sent hundreds of warriors to slaughter the last few Emperor's Children who remained. There had been little honour in the initial drop to the planet's surface, amid the death and frantic nature of the combat against the loathsomely quick Megarachnid warriors. It had been brutal, intense and bloody work, and many good warriors had met their end beneath Murder's raging, bruised skies. Thanks to Eidolon's mistakes, there had been precious little glory won until the Luna Wolves had arrived and brought their strength to bear. Just as the Emperor's Children force were about to be overwhelmed, a relief force of newly-arrived Luna Wolves Astartes from the Warmaster Horus' own 63rd Expeditionary Fleet began to land through the breach in the atmosphere. The Megarachnids were scattered and a full-scale assault on the hostile xenos of Murder began in earnest. Ten companies of Luna Wolves, the remnants of the Emperor's Children, tens of thousands of Imperial Army soldiers, and several Legio Mortis Titans proceeded to level entire swathes of the grass stalk forests and destroy every one of the "trees" they encountered, which steadily eroded Murder's atmospheric barrier. Horus, who was commanding the Imperial assault from his flagship in orbit, was very pleased with the progress being made. Some consideration had been paid to initiating a withdrawal from Murder now that a proper landing zone was available to allow an easy extraction of the troops, when an unexpected visitor suddenly arrived. The Primarch Sanguinius had come to the world to inspect the dead of his original Blood Angels landing force that had been wiped out early in the campaign. Adding five of his companies of Blood Angels to the Imperial invasion force, Sanguinius and his forces fought alongside the Warmaster against the aliens. Thousands of Megarachnids poured out of the forests and canyons of Murder in an endless wave. Despite never retreating from the Imperial assault, the Megarachnids only continued to lose ground. By the sixth month of the campaign it seemed the Megarachnids would soon face extinction when the fleet deployed by the Interex arrived in-system to determine who had assaulted the Megarachnids' reservation world. Finding contact with the highly-advanced humans of the Interex to be a more pressing issue that needed to be dealt with, the Warmaster ended the campaign against the xenos of Murder.
- Diasporex Persecution, Battle of the Corollis Star (ca. 001.M31) - During the latter part of the Great Crusade, the Iron Hands Legion's 52nd Expeditionary Fleet encountered a nomadic, fleet-based civilisation composed of both humans and xenos known as the Diasporex. The Iron Hands shared the Imperial Truth of the Emperor of Mankind and offered the human members of the Diasporex the opportunity to separate from their alien allies and to join the newly forged Imperium, but they declined the Astartes' offer. Their offer rejected, the Iron Hands passed judgement, and in the following months the Iron Hands fleet attempted to annihilate the Diasporex, but they proved to be highly skilled and experienced in the realm of naval warfare, and managed to easily evade crucial battles and even to severely damage the Iron Hands' Strike Cruiser Ferrum. The Emperor's Children of the 28th Expeditionary Fleet were called in as reinforcements, and so, a joint Imperial strike force composed of both the Iron Hands and forces from the Emperor's Children Legion prepared to launch an all-out assault against the willful Diasporex. Though the Diasporex knew that a powerful fleet of warships was hunting them and sought their destruction, they refused to leave the sector and move on to someplace safer. The Iron Hands' scout ships soon discovered the truth -- the Diasporex used hidden solar collector arrays hidden near the Corollis Star to collect fuel for their vessels. This was the reason why the Diasporex remained within the sector. Attacking these vital fuel stations, the two Imperial Expeditionary Fleets drew the Diasporex fleet out into open battle as the human-alien alliance sought to avoid utter annihilation at the Imperials' hands. During the massive naval battle that ensued Fulgrim's personal gunship, the Firebird, came under heavy attack and soon found itself in trouble. Rushing to his brother's side, Ferrus Manus' flagship, the Battle Barge Fist of Iron, came rushing to the rescue of his beleaguered brother. To restore his wounded pride, Fulgrim led a brief shipboarding action where the Emperor's Children wreaked bloody havoc on the troops of the Diasporex. But ultimate victory was robbed from him when the enemy ship's bridge was taken by one of his subordinate commanders. For months thereafter, Fulgrim would resent The Gorgon's actions, unable to truly understand the altruism of Ferrus' deed and the loss of life his selfless act had incurred on his Legion. Under the malignant influence of the daemon-possessed Laer blade that he wore at all times, Fulgrim could only see self-aggrandisement in his brother's action, instead of the the heroic deed it had truly been. Ferrus's critical comments, the wounding darts that Fulgrim believed were meant to undermine him, were in actuality only jests designed to puncture Fulgrim's self-importance and restore his humility. What Fulgrim perceived as Ferrus' prideful boasts and rash actions had been deeds of courage that he spitefully dismissed as the influence of Chaos began to claim the Phoenician's soul.
- Battle of Tarsus (004.M31) - Primarch Fulgrim met with the renowned Eldar Farseer Eldrad Ulthran of Ulthwé Craftworld on the Maiden World of Tarsus, on which the Farseer attempted to warn Fulgrim of the Warmaster's corruption after being wounded by a malefic Chaos blade known as the Kinebrach Anathame at the hands of the traitor Eugen Temba upon Davin's Nurgle-corrupted moon. Temba had been the former Planetary Governor of the Feral World of Davin who had fallen under the influence of the Plague Lord Nurgle. The injury caused by the poisonous blade had allowed the Chaos Gods to gain a purchase on the Warmaster's soul. Fulgrim reacted with violent outrage at the Farseer's accusations due to his close kinship with his brother Horus, as his bond with the Warmaster was second only to that shared with Ferrus Manus, the Primarch of the Xth Legion. This outrage was further enhanced by the corrupting influence of Fulgrim's Laer daemonblade, which darkly influenced the Primarch to reject the Eldar's truth and provoked Fulgrim into launching an unprovoked and furious attack on Eldrad and his retinue alongside his Emperor's Children Captains and his personal Phoenix Guard. In the battle that ensued, the Emperor's Children slew both the revered Eldar Wraithlord Khiraen Goldhelm and a potent Avatar of Khaine, which forced the Farseer and the other Eldar troops to sorrowfully withdraw, as they realised that Chaos had already claimed yet another of the "Mon-Keigh's" Primarchs. Yet they had succeeded in killing all of Fulgrim's elite personal Phoenix Guard before their departure. Believing the Eldar had proven themselves a treacherous xenos race that sought to divide and conquer the Imperium by spreading such lies about its leaders, Fulgrim, again under the increasing influence of the daemonblade, ordered the destruction of several other beautiful Eldar Maiden Worlds using hideous virus bombs.
- Battle of Deep Orbital DS191 (ca. 004.M31) - Weeks later, following the campaign on Tarsus, Fulgrim's fleet was ordered by the Council of Terra to rendezvous with the Warmaster's 63rd Expeditionary Fleet to inquire about reports of the their recent conduct and acquire information in regards to Horus' grave injuries acquired on Davin's feral moon. Most unusual, was that the IIIrd Legion's Lord Commander Vespasian was excluded from this delegation to Horus, which demonstrated an ever-growing rift between the Lord Commander and his Primarch. Following this delegation to the 63rd Expeditionary Fleet, Fulgrim announced to his senior commanders that he would lead a small force to join Ferrus Manus and his Iron Hands at Callinedes IV in the Callinedes System under the pretense of clearing it of an Ork infestation. The Primarch spearheaded the assault during the pacification of Deep Orbital DS191, leading the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Companies. During the assault, Captain Solomon Demeter, commander of the Emperor's Children's 2nd Company, found himself unsupported by the 1st and 3rd Companies as the battle-plan had laid out. Overextended and in real danger of being cut off and destroyed, the 2nd Company was only saved from certain destruction by the unplanned and timely arrival of the 10th and 13th Companies under the commands of Captains Saul Tarvitz and Lucius, two junior officers that Demeter had found himself associating more and more with as he was systematically frozen out by the IIIrd Legion's high command. A dark shroud hung over Lord Commander Vespasian after witnessing these dishonourable actions. He felt obliged to act after he observed Solomon Demeter's 2nd Company being intentionally abandoned by both Captain Kaesoron's and Vairosean's companies. It was a decision that would cost the honourable Astartes his life when he was murdered by Fulgrim himself.
- Battle of Istvaan Extremis (005.M31) - The elite 1st Company of the Emperor's Children fought in concert with the Death Guard Legion's 7th Company under the command of Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro against traitorous forces on Istvaan Extremis, the outermost planet within the Istvaan System. Whilst fighting against a powerful Slaaneshi psyker known as a Warsinger, Garro sustained serious injuries; crushing damage to his torso, arm and the loss of his right leg from the mid-thigh down. He was only saved from certain death by the timely ministrations of the Emperor's Children Chief Apothecary Fabius. Taking stock of the desperate situation, Lord Commander Eidolon made use of a hitherto unknown ability -- a modified tracheal implant bonded with his vocal chords, that allowed him to produce a nerve paralysing shriek similar to that employed by certain warrior breeds of the alien Laer. This powerful ability killed the Warsinger and helped the Astartes carry the day.
- Istvaan III Atrocity (005.M31) - The terrible campaign that marked the start of the Horus Heresy and was known to later generations as the Istvaan III Atrocity began when the Imperial Planetary Governor of Istvaan III, Vardus Praal, had been corrupted by the Chaos God Slaanesh whose cultists had long been active on the world even before it had been conquered by the Imperium. Praal had declared his independence from the Imperium, and had begun to practice forbidden Slaaneshi sorcery, so the Council of Terra charged Horus with the retaking of that world, primarily its capital, the Choral City. This order merely furthered Horus's plan to overthrow the Emperor. Although the four Legions under his direct command -- the Sons of Horus, the World Eaters, the Death Guard and the Emperor's Children -- had already turned Traitor and pledged themselves to Chaos, there were still some Loyalist elements within each of these Legions that approximated one-third of each force; many of these warriors were Terran-born Space Marines who had been directly recruited into the Astartes Legions by the Emperor Himself before being reunited with their Primarchs during the Great Crusade. Horus, under the guise of putting down the rebellion against Imperial Compliance on the world of Istvaan III, amassed his troops in the Istvaan System. Horus had a plan by which he would destroy all of the remaining Loyalist elements of the Legions under his command. After a lengthy bombardment of Istvaan III, Horus despatched all of the known Loyalist Astartes down to the planet, under the pretence of bringing it back into the Imperium. Initial attacks on the Choral City had washed away any feelings of unease, the release of the Loyalists' anger and hurt in bloodshed reassuring them that things were as they should be, and that their earlier misgivings were no cause for concern. But then Captain Saul Tarvitz of the 10th Company of the Emperor's Children had arrived with an incredible tale of betrayal and imminent attack. Many had scoffed at Tarvitz's warning, but some had immediately known the truth of it, and had fought to make their brothers realise their danger. As the monstrous scale of the betrayal sank in, the Loyalist Sons of Horus, World Eaters and Emperor's Children had raced to find shelter before the deadly viral payload struck the world intended to be their tomb. The Loyalists on the surface watched in horror as the first streaks of light lit up the sky and the detonations covered the skies in thick starbursts of deadly viral agents. The screaming of the city as it died haunted them, as they couldn't even begin to imagine the horror that must have filled the minds of those who watched as the Life Eater devoured the flesh of their loved ones, before reducing them to disintegrated hunks of rotted, dead matter. Many within the Loyalist ranks knew what the deadly the Life Eater was, and they knew that within hours the entire planet would be a charnel house. Then the firestorm had come and razed the surface bare of any signs of its former inhabitants, burning them to ashen flakes on the wind as it destroyed all in its path and howled across the surface of Isstvan III in a seething tide of flame. The Primarch of the World Eaters, Angron, realising that the virus-bombs had not been fully effective at eliminating all the Loyalists, flew into a rage and hurled himself at the planet at the head of 50 companies of World Eaters Traitor Marines. Discarding tactics and strategy, the World Eaters Traitors worked themselves into a frenzy of mindless butchery fed by their growing allegiance to the Blood God Khorne. Horus was furious with Angron for delaying his plans, but Horus sought to turn the delay into a victory and was obliged to reinforce Angron with troops from the Sons of Horus, the Death Guard, and the Emperor's Children. Fortunately, a contingent of Loyalists led by Battle-Captain Garro escaped Istvaan III aboard the damaged Imperial frigate Eisenstein and fled to Terra to warn the Emperor that Horus had turned Traitor. On Istvaan III, the remaining Loyalists, under the command of Captains Tarvitz, Garviel Loken and Tarik Torgaddon, another Loyalist member of the Sons of Horus, fought bravely against their own traitorous brethren. Yet, despite some early successes that delayed Horus' plans for three full months while the battle on Istvaan III played out, their cause was ultimately doomed by their lack of air support and Titan firepower. During the battle the Sons of Horus Captains Ezekyle Abaddon and Horus Aximand were sent to confront their former Mournival brothers, Loken and Torgaddon. Horus Aximand beheaded Torgaddon, but Abaddon failed to kill Loken when the building they were in collapsed. Loken survived and witnessed the final orbital bombardment of Istvaan III that ended the Loyalists' desperate defence. To prove his worth and loyalty to Lord Commander Eidolon of the Emperor's Children -- and thus to his Primarch, Fulgrim -- Captain Lucius of the 13th Company of the Emperor's Children, the future Champion of Slaanesh known as Lucius the Eternal, turned against the Loyalists that he had fought beside because of his prior friendship with Saul Tarvitz. Lucius slew many of them personally, an act for which he was then accepted back into the Emperor's Children Legion on the side of the Traitors. In the end, the Loyalists retreated to their last bastion of defence, only a few hundred of their number remaining. Finally, tired of the conflict, Horus ordered his men to withdraw, and then had the remains of the Choral City bombarded into dust for a final time from orbit.
- Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V (006.M31) - The world of Istvaan V was the location of the infamous Drop Site Massacre where the Traitor Legions of the Warmaster Horus redeployed following the virus-bombing of the Traitor Legions' own Loyalist members at Istvaan III at the start of the Horus Heresy. Upon learning of the terrible atrocity Horus had committed, the Emperor deployed seven Loyalist Legions of Space Marines to bring Horus to account for his actions. The Iron Hands, Salamanders and Raven Guard made up the first wave of the attack, but were pushed back by the superior tactics of Horus's maddened Chaos Space Marines. The Loyalist reserves were called in, but the four Space Marine Legions comprising them -- the Iron Warriors, the Alpha Legion, the Word Bearers and the Night Lords -- had also secretly betrayed the Emperor and were prepared to follow Horus and swear themselves to Chaos. Evidence indicates that much of the preparations for the defence of the Urgall Depression fell to the Primarch of the Emperor's Children at Horus' direct command, with the Emperor's Children themselves charged with manning the central outermost defence lines where the fighting would be at its fiercest during the initial Loyalist attack. Whether this was intended as a slight or punishment is a matter of conjecture, but regardless, the cunning, speed and skill that were invested into what must have been a breakneck series of preparations to raise up the ruins of the ancient fortress was formidable. When the Loyalists came to attack, they were met not just with fortified xenos ruins, but cunningly interwoven fields of fire, lethal kill zones, interlocking trench works, hidden approaches and all manner of ruse de guerre as deadly as any encountered during the Great Crusade. As for the Legion who manned those defences, though a brief time had passed since the Battle of Istvaan III, already many had succumbed to marked psychological changes, stigmata and deliberate mutilation, foreshadowing what was to come. The three Loyalist Legions were almost annihilated in the resulting crossfire, but several thousand survivors from each Legion managed to escape off-world, though they were too decimated to play much of a further role in the defence of the Imperium from Horus' betrayal. During the ensuing slaughter, Fulgrim came face-to-face with his former brother and closest friend, Ferrus Manus. The two Primarchs engaged in a titanic struggle, but in the end The Gorgon was mortally wounded, and with the urging of the Laer daemonblade that he always carried, Fulgrim beheaded the Iron Hands' Primarch. The civil war unleashed at Istvaan V pitched the whole Imperium into anarchy and chaos.
- Assault on Iydris (006-007.M31) - In the wake of the terrible slaughter of Loyalists at the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V, a small fleet of Astartes from the ravaged Iron Hands and Raven Guard Legions managed to flee off-world. Among these vessels was the Sisypheum, a Strike Cruiser commanded by the mortally wounded Iron Hands Captain Ulrach Branthan. Determined to continue to strike against the Traitor Legions wherever and whenever they could, the crew of the Sisypheum eventually manged to intercept the encoded communications of the Traitors and learned that the Traitor Primarchs Fulgrim and Perturabo were leading their Emperor's Children and Iron Warriors Traitor Legions, respectively, into the Warp Rift later named the Eye of Terror by Perturabo in search of an unknown Eldar weapon known as the Angel Exterminatus which could decisively tip the balance of the Horus Heresy in favour of the Traitors. The Iron Hands eventually assembled a small fleet of similar Loyalist survivors of the Drop Site Massacre and made their way into the Eye to stop the Traitors from acquiring this weapon. Once within the Eye, Fulgrim led the combined Traitor Legion forces to the ancient Eldar Crone World of Iydris, into the citadel known as Amon ny-shak Kaelis where the Angel Exterminatus was supposedly located. The Traitors were forced to repel countless attacks by the ancient Eldar defense systems and by attacks from Eldar constructs animated by the ountless dead Eldar souls of the Crone World. In truth, the entire quest for the Angel Exterminatus had been a ruse perpetrated upon Perturabo and the Iron Warriors by Fulgrim and the Emperor's Children. Fulgrim, now a Champion of the Chaos God of Pleasure, Slaanesh, sought apoetheosis to become a Daemon Prince of the Prince of Chaos. But he needed the power provided by the life force of a Primarch and the sacred energies of a place like an Eldar Crone World that was sacred to Slaanesh to complete his ascension to daemonhood. Fulgrim had given to Perturabo a cloak, to which was affixed a skull-shaped pin carrying a relic known as a maugetar stone. As long as Perturabo was within the confines of the Eldar citadel the stone slowly absorbedhis life force and fed these energies to Fulgrim. Once Perturabo discovered his brother's perfidy, the Iron Warriors launched an assault upon the Emperor's Children, and a three-way battle soon developed as the Iron Hands from the Sisypheum and its small flotilla of Loyalists entered the fray against both Traitor forces, unaware of what was truly happening. In the course of the combat that followed, Perturabo slew Fulgrim's mortal body with the great warhammer Forgebreaker, which ironically had originally been forged for Fulgrim by Ferrus Manus. But this action was only the final component in Fulgrim's ritual of apoetheosis, and his body remade itself into the twisted, serpentine form of a Slaaneshi Daemon Prince. Fulgrim became the first of the Traitor Primarchs to ascend to daemonhood, but he would not be the last. His goal achieved, Fulgrim had teleported his Emperor's Children away from Iydris and the Crone World began to collapse as the potent life forces of the dead that had long sustained it were drained away by Fulgrim's ascension. The Iron Hands and Perturabo's Iron Warriors successfully fled the crumbling planet, though Perturabo escaped by taking his fleet deeper into the black hole that lay at the centre of the Eye of Terror. For the first time, one of the Traitor Legions had turned on another, a situation that was to become all too common as the Dark Gods of Chaos tightened their grip on Horus' followers.
- Siege of the Perfect Fortress (ca. 007.M31) - During the Great Crusade, under guidance of their Primarch, the IIIrd Legion had erected the so-called "Perfect Fortress" on the world of Narsis. The "Perfect Fortress" was a military base, but also a Hive City of outstanding beauty, harbouring millions of inhabitants. Its elegant buildings and colonnades hid both administrative buildings as well as tanks and weapon depots, and every balcony was placed into a perfect firing position on pre-planned kill-zones. Taking the "Perfect Fortress" would be an arduous task, and therefore, the Emperor's Children left only a small garrison under Captain Luthris to protect Narsis. It thus came as a shock when the severely depleted Raven Guard Legion and its allies from the Therion Cohort not only attacked, but seized the "Perfect Fortress" after only four solar days of battle.
- Fall of Batzel III (008.M31) - The Legion's 39th Millennial was destroyed by elements of the Space Wolves Legion during the storming of the Vykstag Winter Palace.
- Battle of Terra (014.M31) - As the events of the Horus Heresy neared their tragic conclusion seven years after the fateful betrayal at Istvaan III, those Loyalist Legions not committed to the defence of Terra raced through the Warp, converging on the homeworld of Mankind. The Traitor Legions also massed above Terra to assault the Imperial Palace. The Battle of Terra was the final confrontation of the Horus Heresy that raged on Terra itself between the Forces of Chaos led by the Warmaster Horus and the Loyalist armies of the Imperium of Man led by the Emperor of Mankind Himself. When Horus laid siege to Terra itself, the Emperor's Children were at his side, but they took little part in the slow process of whittling down the massive defences of the Imperial Palace. Instead Fulgrim turned his Legion loose on the uncontested areas of the planet, where billions of terrified humans cowered at the sight of the followers of Chaos, suddenly stripped of the protection they had counted on from the Palace. The brutality and slaughter of Istvaan repeated itself, but on a far, far greater scale. With the concentration of Chaos around Terra, the Apothecaries and Sorcerers of the Emperor's Children drew on the power of Slaanesh to enhance their pleasures, wantonly desecrating not only their minds and bodies, but now their immortal souls as well. Daemons were summoned and set loose among prisoners, feasting on their flesh as they died, while the Space Marines themselves sought even greater excesses of carnage and carnality. Fulgrim directed the slaughter with glee, believing that his Legion were setting their victims free from the chains of the Emperor's rule, and allowing them to feel true Humanity at the limits of experience. In that time, as the Siege of Terra raged around them, the Emperor's Children are reckoned to have murdered more than forty times their number of unarmed, defenceless people in their efforts to create new stimulants to feed their addiction to pleasure. How many more died simply to sate the bloodlust of their killers cannot be guessed at. The Loyalist forces ultimately proved victorious in their defence of the Imperial Palace, though only just barely, and Horus was ultimately slain by the full psychic powers unleashed by the Emperor on the deck of his massive Battle Barge the Vengeful Spirit, though the Master of Mankind was mortally wounded and had to be interred within the cybernetic life support mechanisms of the advanced psychic augmentation technology known as the Golden Throne. Those Imperial vessels which pursued Fulgrim's fleet from Terra followed a trail of devastated worlds, where corpses were piled high, survivors pleaded to be allowed to die to escape their nightmares and, ominously, thousands more were simply missing, never seen again. Eventually, after countless atrocities, the Emperor's Children reached the Eye of Terror where they and their fellow traitors hid from the vengeance of the Imperium. According to the Inquisition's Hades Oracle, the Emperor's Children quickly exhausted their supply of slaves and playthings, and began to prey upon the only victims available: the slaves and servants of the other Traitor Legions. The resulting wars were terrible and bloody, but there could be only one eventual result, and finally the once-proud IIIrd Legion was shattered into multiple warbands, each pursuing their own self-obsessed perversions. The outcome of the Battle of Terra shaped the destiny of humanity for the next 10,000 standard years and began the Long War of the Forces of Chaos to overthrow the Corpse Emperor.
- Slave Wars (Unknown Date. M31) - The first major conflict between the most powerful servants of the Dark Gods following the Horus Heresy was started by the Emperor's Children Legion, that Traitor Legion dedicated to the service of Slaanesh, whose excesses grew more wanton and uncontrollable in the days after the Heresy. As the supply of slaves the IIIrd Legion had acquired on Terra and other Imperial worlds as they fled to the Eye was exhausted, the Emperor's Children began to assault the positions of the other Traitor Legions within the Eye of Terror, plundering their own slave stocks for use in satisfying their perverse, hedonistic whims. It is for this reason that these campaigns are collectively called the Slave Wars. One of the actions known to the Imperium that occurred during these conflicts was the Battle of Skalathrax between the Emperor's Children and the World Eaters that saw the World Eaters finally shattered as a unified Space Marine Legion. The Emperor's Children also destroyed the fortress of the Sons of Horus Legion on the Daemon World of Maeleum, leading to a failed attempt by the corrupt Emperor's Children Apothecary Fabius Bile to clone Horus and provide a new leader for the Forces of Chaos. Abaddon the Despoiler led the Sons of Horus to reclaim Horus' corpse, and destroy the primary fortress of the Emperor's Children. Abaddon returned it to Maeleum where he had it destroyed so that no further attempts to clone Horus could ever be attempted. Following this triumph, Abaddon declared himself Horus' successor as the Warmaster of Chaos and the master of the XVIth Legion. At the same time, he came to the epiphany that Horus was dead because Horus had been a weak fool, unable to complete his task of slaying the Emperor and taking control of the galaxy in the name of the Dark Gods. Abaddon swore that he would succeed where Horus had failed in overthrowing the "Corpse-Emperor" and proclaimed himself the new Warmaster of Chaos. He had the Sons of Horus repaint their viridian Power Armour black, the colour of mourning and of vengeance, and cast-off the XVIth Legion's former moniker of the Sons of Horus. From then on, they became known as the Black Legion. The Black Legion then abandoned the ruins of the Sons of Horus' fortress and left Maeleum behind, choosing to become a fleet-based Legion with scattered holdings all across the Eye of Terror. Though long, terrible, and bloody, in the end the dwindling Emperor's Children Legion faced their inevitable defeat at the hands of their fellow Traitor Legions. The Emperor's Children, like the World Eaters before them, were finally shattered as an organised Space Marine Legion and broke up into hundreds of disparate and often opposed Chaos Space Marine warbands. It is said by the adversaries of those who serve Slaanesh that during the Slave Wars the Daemon Primarch Fulgrim was himself killed by Abaddon and the Black Legion, but the Emperor's Children counter that he was given lordship by Slaanesh over an unknown Daemon World of unending pleasure, its location unknown even to many of their own ranks.
- Flesh Meets Steel (Unknown Date) - The Sensorians, a newly-formed warband of Slaanesh-worshipping Chaos Space Marines, treat with the Dark Mechanicum in an attempt to pioneer Daemon Engines equipped with suites of Sonic Weapons. In doing so they learn of the sombre Skitarii of the Forge World of Agripinaa, ancestral enemies of the Eye of Terror's machine-Hereteks. Appalled by the notion that the Skitarii voluntarily exchange their flesh for cybernetic replacements, the Emperor's Children stage a grand raid upon the planet under the cover of a Dark Mechanicum invasion. They capture several maniples of Skitarii, overloading their circuits with barrages of intense noise and deafening scrapcode, before bearing them back to the Eye of Terror. There they cut out the Skitarii's bionics and replace them with fleshy equivalents taken from mutants, from corpses, even from fallen Chaos Spawn, until barely an ounce of metal is left. These Fleshlings of Sensoria, though driven mad by the process, prove a potent asset for the Emperor's Children in the Long War.
- The Eternal Duellist (Unknown Date) - Lucius the Eternal leads a motley warband across the galaxy on the trail of the deadliest opponents his network of admiring torture-cultists can locate for him. He intends to hunt down the best melee fighters in the galaxy and beat them in one-on-one combat or die in the attempt. Over the course of several Terran centuries he defeats the Dark Eldar Archon Vraesque in cursed Shaa-dom, the Emperor's Champion of the Black Templars at Veilfate, and the Ork Warboss Two-klaws at Octarius Sigma. Eventually, on a nameless moon near Damnos, Lucius is cut down by the shape-shifting Necron duellist known only as the Phasing Sword. Not even the Necron's body of living metal can prevent the Slaaneshi Champion's strange possession-curse from taking hold, however, for the undying Necron takes a cold pride in its victory, and that is the seed of its undoing. Lucius is reborn inside his killer within solar days, the xenos warrior's necrodermis body drizzling away like molten metal to reveal the twisted swordsman, as arrogant and maniacal as ever.
- The Cacophonicum of Knaus Lambda (Unknown Date) - The warband of Revellian Thrice-Burned captures the Basilica Morbidus, centrepiece of the Shrine World of Knaus Lambda's majestic Faithful City. Six Dreadclaws slam through the cathedrum's stained-glass ceiling and disgorge their battle-hungry passengers. The Sonic Weapons of the hedonistic killers shatters priceless glass sculptures and a king's ransom in jewels. The barefoot Imperial supplicants and pilgrims that were making their devotions are shredded body and soul by the deafening cacophony, which is enhanced by the basilica's perfect acoustics. In response, the nearby Schola Progenium complex scrambles its Tempestus Scions to the site, and a gun battle takes place that sees the city filled with terrified screams. The cacophony grows so intense that reality itself shimmers and convulses, and a carnival of Slaaneshi Daemonettes joins the feast. The Faithful City is eventually reconsecrated as the Cacophonicum, becoming a base of operations that sees Revellian Thrice-Burned and his Emperor's Children reduce every one of Knaus Lambda's fortified settlements to rubble.
- Revenge of the Silver Prince (Unknown Date) - After a long and difficult journey through the Warp, the Khorne Daemonkin warband known as the Skullsworn overtake their Emperor's Children rivals on the approach to the Civilised World of Hunter's Haven. The Skullsworn launch a bloody strike three solar days before their fellow Chaos Space Marines arrive. When the Emperor's Children make planetfall, there is little left of the capital city's populace but dismembered corpses and decapitated heads stacked in pyramidal piles. Enraged by the Skullsworn's actions, the daemon overlord known as the Silver Prince leads his bodyguard of Chaos Terminators in a sorcerous strike directly at the Khornate warband's commanders. The sudden conflict escalates into a grinding war of attrition that sees both warbands sustain grievous losses; however, both sides revel in the carnage to such an extent neither will back down. The remaining citizens of Hunter's Haven make use of the reprieve to evacuate, leaving the Chaos Space Marines to fight amongst themselves.
- The Primogenitor Primaris (Unknown Date.M42) - The deranged fleshmaster Fabius Bile is upon the world of Agrathane Excellia when he witnesses a strike force of Primaris Space Marines in action. Attacking from above, a strike force from the newly founded Nemesors Chapter captures a fortified Black Legion bastion complex in the space of a solar hour. Impressed despite himself, Bile develops an obsession with the capture and dissection of these new, statuesque transhuman warriors. His intent is to blend them body and soul with the dark energies of Chaos in order to breed his own twisted versions of Primaris Space Marines.
The Emperor's Children were organised in a manner that suited the ideals of Fulgrim and their own exacting and perfectionist nature. As with every other aspect of the IIIrd Legion nothing was left to whim or chance; every action within the Legion's purview was deliberate and assessed for its aesthetic and functional value. Fulgrim was fond of remarking that if one was to excel then no detail was too small to consider, and that the quality of the whole lay in the quality of its constituents. In ordering his Legion it is not surprising then that Fulgrim favoured formality, conformity and order. The Emperor's Children took much from the structures of the other Legions when they were first created, though it also added its own layers of terminology, emphasis and balance while remaining largely true to the long-established Terran patterns for the Legiones Astartes.
A hierarchy of authority and ability existed in every part of the Emperor's Children. Every warrior, piece of equipment or officer was placed in the function best suited to their strengths and proven ability, and in that sphere they were expected to excel. Fulgrim also maintained rigid order amongst the divisions of his Legion and command hierarchy. The fluid variations in size and nature common in certain other Legions like the Luna Wolves played no part in the Emperor's Children's way of war. Any change or variation was deliberate and the outcome of careful consideration. Likewise, the appointment and rank of every warrior of the Emperor's Children was carefully delineated. Honours, symbolic representations of achievements and marks of renown abounded, but were solely gifted by a superior rather than assumed by an individual, with those honours granted by the hand of the Primarch held in higher esteem. Every warrior of the Legion knew his place and value in the sight of the Primarch and the Emperor, and this translated into a level of personal commitment and bravery that was the equal of any found among the ranks of the Space Marines, fuelled in no small part by an unshakable faith in their own superiority.
The Emperor's Children were ordered and precise; formation sizes and structure were largely uniform and where they were not it was either a temporary aberration or a deliberate variation for a particular purpose. Within this careful order the squad was the base unit that showed most variations in both size and function. Comprising a handful of Emperor's Children each squad had a particular purpose and specialisation. Squad members were expected to excel in their allotted roles and would train exhaustively to achieve the pinnacle of efficiency and unit cohesion. Notably all of the variations in squad type and equipment found in other Legions were present within the Emperor's Children, as they believed there was no sphere of warfare they could not or should not excel in. There were, however, certain beliefs held within the Legion's culture about the superiority of certain martial virtues over others. These were beliefs that had originated as the opinions and inclinations of Fulgrim and had filtered down through the ranks as ironclad doctrine that was not to be questioned.
One such virtue was the importance of speed, whether in manoeuvre, action or attack, as being of cardinal importance over strength, endurance or even firepower. The Emperor's Children believed that the decisive warrior who struck first was the most likely to be victorious, just as the moving target was harder to strike. This doctrine was made manifest on many levels, from the selection of battle plans to the choice of wargear the Legion favoured. This factor was made evident in the large numbers of Jump Pack-equipped assault units and Land Speeders, grav-attacks and Sky Hunter Squads present amongst the IIIrd Legion. In particular, Jetbike-equipped Sky Hunter Squads dominated the ranks of a number of the Emperor's Children's companies. One often quoted reason for the favour given to these units seems to be that their mode of warfare appealed to Fulgrim's nature by his own admission: swift and elegant, they captured much of the old Terran legends of noble knights and mythic champions riding to battle, their banners streaming behind them and their armour glittering in the sun. Further practical considerations for the extensive use of high speed vehicles and a reliance on manoeuvre can be seen in the fact that the Emperor's Children Legion never possessed the active numbers let alone the collective psychology required to engage in brute attrition warfare as the Iron Warriors or Death Guard did. For Fulgrim, keeping his Legion as intact as possible while achieving victory was perhaps always a consideration, albeit one seldom admitted to.
The IIIrd Legion relied greatly on thorough and detailed strategic planning and the flawless execution of its battle plans by the individual warriors of the Legion. Every aspect of battle was analysed and turned to their advantage, from terrain and weather to the availability of logistical support and reinforcement; nothing was ever left to chance. Each component of the Legion's forces as well as any allies or ancillary forces under their command was taken into account and utilised accordingly. This forethought and almost mechanistic approach to warfare had its dangers as well as its strengths however; and should an entirely unforeseen contingency occur (as unlikely as this was in most cases), or some crucial element or strategic asset be unexpectedly removed, the Legion could be wrong-footed, thrown into confusion and suffer the consequences.
The strength of the Emperor's Children prior to the Istvaan III Atrocity was approximately 110,000 Space Marines arranged into roughly thirty Millennials, as the Legion referred to the larger units that were commonly called Chapters in other Legions. Of these forces, perhaps a quarter to a third were marked for death on Istvaan III as Imperial Loyalists unlikely to stand with the IIIrd Legion when it joined the Warmaster Horus in his rebellion against the Emperor. The losses incurred there by the traitorous portion of the Emperor's Children in the battle to eradicate the Loyalists also seemed to have been high. Fulgrim may have lost as many as 20,000 warriors in the process of eliminating the survivors of the initial virus-bombing. This would place the strength of the Emperor's Children Traitor Legion after Istvaan III in the region of perhaps 50,000 combat-capable Space Marines: a substantial loss of fighting strength by any measure and a fact that anecdotally is said to have enraged Horus in the extreme. No reliable account exists of the fatalities suffered by the IIIrd Legion during the excision of the Loyalist elements, but it is believed to have been proportionately very high. To make matters worse, Fulgrim had returned from his confrontation with Ferrus Manus, Primarch of the Iron Hands Legion, having failed to sway the Gorgon to side with the Warmaster, further provoking Horus' ire.
The Emperor's Chidlren also lost an enormous number of armoured vehicles in the protracted intra-Legion battles which followed the Istvaan III Atrocity. Due to the losses, the Legion had need of every asset it could field at Istvaan V and so deployed a wide variety of types, classes and patterns of vehicle to the defence of the Urgall Depression. Given the favoured rites of war of the Emperor's Children, the most demand was placed on transport vehicles, with which the Legion could launch rapid counter-strikes and encirclements, engaging cornered Loyalists where and when they least expected it. Other types of vehicle, in particular super-heavy tanks and mobile artillery, were assigned at battalion or Millennial level to be utilised by each commander as he saw fit, given the quickly evolving nature of the battle.
The growing strength of the Emperor's Children in later phases of the war, and the increasing instability and undisciplined nature of its warriors during the subsequent course of the Heresy, may be linked to the gene-seed experiments and flesh abominations of its Renegade Apothecaries like Fabius Bile and their haste to replace these losses and bolster the Legion's strength as the war continued. Unfettered by the restraints of secrecy or fear of discovery, they would physically change the bodies of the Emperor's Children to reflect their inner, spiritual corruption by the Prince of Pleasure.
The Emperor's Children had almost no psykers in their midst and never maintained a powerful Librarium before the Edicts of Nikaea banned the use of psychic powers amongst the Astartes Legions. This was because the development of psychic powers were the result of a mutation or a series of mutations within the human genome. A mutation, a random change in the genetic sequence, implied imperfection, and no imperfection could be tolerated by the Astartes of the IIIrd Legion. Even in the 41st Millennium it is rare to see a Chaos Sorcerer amongst the warbands of the Emperor's Children.
Like many of the other Astartes Legions of the Great Crusade, the Emperor's Children operated a warrior lodge system known as the Brotherhood of the Phoenix. They had learned about the existence of warrior lodges within the other Legions from their time fighting alongside the Luna Wolves, although given the Emperor's Children's love of formal hierarchy, the Brotherhood of the Phoenix was much more formal in structure and behaviour than their brethren Legions' warrior lodges and was open for membership only to the Primarch, the Lord Commanders, and the company captains to maintain the Legion's strict leadership structure.
Legion Command Hierarchy
Fulgrim maintained clear and rigid lines of authority within the Emperor's Children Legion. The Primarch himself stood in overall command of his Legion and beneath him were ten officers known as Lord Commanders who lead the first ten Millennials (Chapters) of the Legion. Fulgrim had invested ten of his sons with this exalted rank when the IIIrd Legion was still recovering from near-extinction and the tradition had remained strong throughout the Great Crusade. Forming an inner circle around the Primarch, each Lord Commander was expected to be a paragon example of leader, warrior and noble. Two of the IIIrd Legion's preeminent officers were the Lord Commanders Eidolon and Vespasian in the latter days of the Great Crusade. The Primarch Sanguinius of the Blood Angels Legion once called these ten the "Princes of War", and to them fell the leadership of the largest and greatest campaigns undertaken by the Emperor's Children. It was common for a Lord Commander to be given overall command of forces consisting of contingents from other Legions, millions of soldiers of the Imperial Army, and forces drawn from many militant arms of the Imperium. On the rare occasion of a true failure in command, a Lord Commander was apt to take his own life in penance.
Authority in the IIIrd Legion descended through an elaborate and multi-tiered command structure which reached from the Lord Commanders through the Praetorate which in turn comprised officers known as Commanders, Lieutenant Commanders, Masters, Sub-Commanders, Tribunes Palatine and Ordinary, Captains of various divisions, to Consuls, Equerries, Ancients of various functions, further down through Centurions and Heralds to the Praefactors and Sergeants who commanded the Legion's individual squads, down finally to the Legion's line warriors. As each Space Marine of the Legion looked to his superior for guidance and leadership by example, and devotedly followed their lead in matters of style and doctrine, they created a pattern of leadership that bordered on a personality cult at every level throughout the IIIrd Legion, with Fulgrim himself and beyond him the Emperor viewed as objects of almost religious devotion. This fanaticism was well-noted by the Legion's peers (some of whom did not look favourably upon its obsessive quality in their private councils), and was outmatched perhaps only by that once held by the Word Bearers. That such fervent loyalty to the Emperor could be so readily set aside in the days before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy seems incredible, but nevertheless it proved true. Such is the potent elixir of corruption offered by the Ruinous Powers, and why men must guard against their subversion by any means necessary.
The entirety of this careful hierarchy was lost after the end of the Horus Heresy when the Emperor's Children were scattered by their constant battles with the other Traitor Legions in their pursuit of new slaves to torment and enjoy. By the time of the 41st Millennium, the Emperor's Children Legion had fragmented into a small number of Chaos Space Marine warbands of varying size, each led by their own commander who had no allegiance or care for the other warbands in the Legion. Each Astartes had become completely self-absorbed in his own quest for new sensations and pleasures, associating with the other members of his own warband only because their numbers made it easier for these Chaos Space Marines to engage in the battles and slave-taking that were their primary sources of sensation and pleasure.
Specialist Ranks and Formations
Alongside the division of units commonly found within other Space Marine Legions, the emphasis and regard placed upon skill and excellence also notably led to the formation of a wide number of unique "elite" or veteran units within the Emperor's Children Legion. Some were highly specialised such as the "Sun-Killers" -- the Lascannon-equipped heavy support squads that were formed from the creme of the Legion's heavy weapons specialists, or who fulfilled more formal and ceremonial roles such as the Phoenix Guard whose number was set at 200 to commemorate the first days of the Legion's rebirth when there had been only 200 Astartes left within its ranks after the catastrophic losses of its gene-seed.
- Noise Marines - Those Emperor's Children who give themselves over completely to the sensations of battle become Noise Marines. Their armour slowly grows laud-hailer screamers, noise vents and organ batteries that allow them to produce ear-splitting dins, the perfect complement to the Sonic Weaponry that has made their kind infamous throughout the Traitor Legions. Even other Space Marines are deafened by the proximity of these maniac thrill-seekers. As with all followers of Slaanesh, the only focus of life for the Astartes of the Emperor's Children is the senseless indulgence of every whim and desire. This makes the Emperor's Children the most violent, sadistic, and debauched creatures imaginable. As part of their dedication to the ways of the Prince of Chaos, many of the Emperor's Children ultimately became Noise Marines. The original Noise Marines, then known as the Kakophoni, were created by the Emperor's Children's Chief Apothecary Fabius who sought to "perfect" the gene-seed of the Astartes by unlocking the secrets of the Emperor's original genetic engineering and then "improving" upon it through the use of forbidden Chaotic knowledge; due to Fabius' genetic alterations, a Noise Marine's hearing is a thousand times more sensitive than even a "normal" Space Marine's, and can distinguish between even the subtlest differences in pitch, tone and volume. A Noise Marine's enhanced hearing affects his whole mind, causing extreme emotional reactions that make all other sensations seem pale and worthless. The louder and more discordant the noise, the more extreme the emotional reaction provoked and the resulting pleasure the Noise Marine feels. Eventually only the din of battle and heightened screams of fear, pain or terror can stir a Noise Marine to feel the pleasure he so craves. The Noise Marines' name comes from their preference for weapons that use concentrated sound, including: the Sonic Blaster -- outwardly resembling a Bolter -- produced discordant blasts of sound; the Blastmaster -- a rifle-like weapon that produces different sonic frequencies that overpower senses and can even destroy flesh; and the Doom Siren, a loudspeaker surgically melded into the Chaos Space Marine's body that enhances his own screams into violent torrents of pure sonic force that can knock even the largest enemy off his feet. Noise Marines also possess an ability called the "Warp Scream". This explosion of sound dulls the sensory reactions of all those in close vicinity to them. All of this sonic weaponry is descended from the musical instruments invented by the famed composer Bequa Kynska of Terra, who accompanied the Emperor's Children's 28th Expeditionary Fleet as a Remembrancer aboard the Battle Barge Pride of the Emperor during the last days of the Great Crusade. Kynska was a jaded musician always in search of further sensations to create more exhilarating and all-encompassing music, which made her an easy target for Slaaneshi corruption. After Kynska accompanied many of the 28th Expedition's Remembrancers to the temple dedicated to Slaanesh on the xenos world of Laeran, she was touched by the Chaotic corruption of that foul place and slowly sought to create the ultimate orchestral piece that she believed could capture the wondrous sounds she had heard within the Laer temple. Her ultimate masterpiece was a symphony she named the Maraviglia and which she performed for Fulgrim and all the assembled Astartes of the Emperor's Children and their support personnel within the Remebrancers' lounge and theatre called La Fenice aboard the Pride of the Emperor. To recreate the sounds she had heard, Kynska created new musical instruments whose sonic powers could also be used for destruction when employed by an individual already corrupted by Slaanesh. During the performance of the Maraviglia, the cacophony of sound unleashed by these instruments acted as a ritual that opened a link between realspace and the Warp and allowed the power of Slaanesh to directly touch the audience. Chaotic mutations ran rampant through the audience and Astartes and humans alike were so overwhelmed by sensation and uncontrollable emotions that they unleashed an orgy of both sensual hedonism and the most base form of murder upon one another. Ultimately, the music summoned five Lesser Daemons of Slaanesh known as Daemonettes from the Warp who possessed the bodies of Kynska and several of her singers and joined in the slaughter. During this part of the performance, several Emperor's Children Astartes left their seats and took up the instruments to try and keep the Chaotic music playing and in the course of their untrained fumblings with the instruments discovered that they could unleash waves of destructive sonic power filled with the strength of Chaos. When the Emperor's Children engaged the Imperial Loyalists during the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V, many of the Emperor's Children used modified forms of these instruments as sonic weaponry and so became the first Noise Marines. They gathered under the leadership of the IIIrd Legion's First Captain Julius Kaesoron and formed a single unit known as the Kakophoni. Not all Noise Marines are members of the Emperor's Children and not all rank-and-file Emperor's Children are Noise Marines. Other Chaos Space Marine armies may field Noise Marines as part of their troops, though the original alterations are always based on the work of the Emperor's Children and Noise Marines are always devotees of Slaanesh.
- Phoenix Guard - The Phoenix Guard was the elite unit of Space Marines from the Emperor's Children Legion who served as the Primarch Fulgrim's Honour Guard during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy. The members of the Phoenix Guard followed their beloved Phoenician wherever he went as part of their duties, even when he was travelling within the relative safety of the starships of the Imperial Army and the vessels of the other Space Marine Legions. During the battle to conquer the Xenos world of Laeran, the Phoenix Guard took part in the final extermination of the serpentine Laer species. The entire unit was slain on the world of Tarsus in the Perdus Region of the galaxy after Fulgrim, already under the influence of Chaos through the Laer Daemonsword he had captured on Laeran, took offence at the Eldar Farseer Eldrad Ulthran's warning about Horus' corruption by Chaos, and proceeded to open fire on the Farseer and his troops from Craftworld Ulthwe. A new Phoenix Guard was then recruited and accompanied Fulgrim during both his fateful meeting with Horus where he finally embraced Chaos and in his abortive attempt to recruit Ferrus Manus to the Traitors' cause aboard Ferrus' own flagship where they successfully slaughtered the Morlock Terminators who served as Ferrus' own bodyguard unit. While the Phoenix Guard served Fulgrim through the Battle of Terra, it is unknown if the unit still exists and serves as the Daemon Prince's bodyguard on the unknown Daemon World he now calls home.
- Brotherhoods of the Palatine Blades - Perhaps the most famous example of Emperor's Children specialist troops whose renown spread outside their own Legion were the Brotherhoods of the Palatine Blades. These units were not permanent formations, but were formed for particular battles against foes deemed worthy, and whose membership existed outside of the usual rigid rank structure that characterised the IIIrd Legion. When such an enemy was encountered the senior commanders would draw together the finest swordsmen from amongst the forces present, a selection made easier by the relentless sparring and duelling that took place between battles to hone the Legion's skills. Armed with duelling blades, sabres and trophy weapons, the Brotherhoods would then seek out the finest warriors amongst the enemy on the field of battle. The number and quality of such squads depended on how many of the Emperor's Children were present in a given warzone and the quality of their foe. When twenty Millennials of the Legion came together under Fulgrim to destroy the Golden Kings of the Moraeb Drifts, over a hundred of the Blade Brotherhood took to the field. Amongst them were warriors who had already writ a legend among their Legion; Lucius, Akurduana, Irmandus and Fulgrim himself led them against the bodyguards of the Heretek kings.
- Roaring Blades - Long ago, during the era of the Great Crusade, the Righteous Blades were one of the most decorated and respected infantry units in the Imperial Army. Vassals of Fulgrim, the Righteous Blades provided infantry support for the IIIrd Legion. The Righteous Blades fought on countless worlds in the name of the Emperor, and won several victories. But when the Emperor's Children turned Traitor and joined the Warmaster Horus in dedicating themselves to the Dark Gods of Chaos, the Righteous Blades followed suit. The Imperium lost a proud band of warriors that day, but the Righteous Blades lost their souls, becoming pleasure-addicted acolytes of Slaanesh. These Emperor-forsaken Heretics then became forever after known as the "Roaring Blades".
Legion Combat Doctrine
In the days before the Horus Heresy and the Emperor's Children corruption, the IIIrd Legion accepted nothing less than perfection in all their endeavours, and worked ceaselessly to perfect their military operations. Each and every Space Marine trained every waking hour for his assigned task, whether it be as a foot soldier, driver, gunner, scout or sniper. Every aspect of battle was analysed and used to their advantage, from terrain and weather to deployment or reserves. Nothing was left to chance. In combat the Emperor's Children were as brave as any Space Marines who ever lived, sustained not merely by the example of their peers but by a deep individual belief in their duty. They fought to the best of their abilities in all conditions, whether the battle was a massive planetary assault or a simple patrol. It was widely believed that no Space Marine of the Emperor's Children had ever been routed in battle. Similarly, the IIIrd Legion was highly demanding of the forces allied with it. Any signs of hesitation or inefficiency in the Imperial Army units serving alongside the Legion or even amongst their brother Astartes, was not tolerated. The main guiding principle of the Legion was to lead by example, which was ingrained into every fibre of the Emperor's Children. They had little patience for any other regimen.
To the Emperor's Children, before their fall from grace, war was a matter of perfection incarnated in violence, intent and action. The IIIrd Legion took great pride both in its excellence on any battlefield, and its ability to systematically replicate any tactic or strategic deployment it needed, and execute them flawlessly on command. Of the innumerable such formations and tactics the Emperor's Children operated, one that found favour with the Legion's Praetors looking to achieve faultless victory -- and thereby glory in the eyes of their peers and Primarch -- was the Marus Skara or "Killing Cut". Named after one of the most difficult strikes in the lore of the Pan-Europic duelling cults before Terran Unification, it called for a precisely timed, rapid-moving feint designed to engage an opponent's guard so that a second, invariably fatal, blow could be dealt against it which there could be no defence from.
Chemos was once the homeworld of the Emperor's Children before their corruption by the Chaos God Slaanesh and betrayal of the Emperor of Mankind during the Horus Heresy. Chemos was the planet where the Emperor's Children's Primarch Fulgrim was discovered by the Emperor during the Great Crusade. In ancient days it was classified by the Imperium of Man as both a Civilised World and a Mining World. Following the conclusion of the Horus Heresy, Chemos had an edict of Exterminatus declared against it by the Imperium and was destroyed, as happened to all of the hopelessly corrupted homeworlds of the Traitor Legions. Since that time, Chemos has been a Dead World.
In the 41st Millennium, the IIIrd Legion now exists only as small, fragmented warbands, each adopting their own base within the Eye of Terror from which to strike out at the demesnes of the False Emperor. Rumours also persist of a Daemon World in the Eye of Terror dedicated to pleasure ruled over by the Daemon Primarch Fulgrim, although how substantial a detachment of Emperor's Children Chaos Space Marines he retains, if indeed such a planet exists, is unknown.
According to the surviving IIIrd Legion monuments seized by the Inquisition, the Emperor's Children did not literally deify the Emperor, but the strength and passion of their belief in Him was equal to that of any later adherent of the Imperial Cult. Following Fulgrim's lead, the IIIrd Legion believed that the Emperor represented the pinnacle of humanity, and that only by following His example was it possible to attain one's full potential as a human being. Any person or group who resisted this goal was below contempt, not worthy even of consideration as a fellow human. However, the IIIrd Legion's near-worship of the Emperor was extremely hierarchical. The Emperor's perfection was thought to be embodied first by the Primarchs, then the officers of the Astartes Legions, and finally the squad sergeants and the line Space Marines themselves. Normal humans were expected to try and emulate the perfection of the Astartes as best as their obviously inferior positions would allow. Inquisition theorists speculate that this belief system is why it was so easy for the entire IIIrd Legion to be corrupted following the seduction of Fulgrim and his fellow officers, as the entirety of the Legion would simply emulate the actions and beliefs of those they believed to be the paragons of perfection. If those paragons claimed that allegiance to the Emperor was now to be replaced by devotion to Slaanesh, then it was startingly easy to make this change amongst most of the IIIrd Legion's non-commissioned officers and line warriors.
The surviving records tell that, before their fall to Chaos, the Emperor's Children believed that the Emperor would eventually achieve total conquest of the galaxy, and with all hindrances removed there would remain no obstacle to the ultimate perfection of human civilisation. Whilst their studies of battle were all-important, the Space Marines of the IIIrd Legion were taught reverence for the cultural aspects of Mankind's civilisation -- music, art and sculpture among others. Artisans were brought from all the worlds of the Imperium to fashion the Legion's armour, weapons and vehicles to the highest standards. The diversity of humanity was highly prized, and there were few restrictions on the avenues of learning available to the Astartes of the Emperor's Children.
The Emperor's Children always strove to be exemplars above all others in the arts of war; paragons of martial virtue and excellence, scorning those who did not meet their own, perhaps unattainable, standards. This led them to seek perfection in war as a fluid, lightning-quick force whose battles were preordained victories brought about by a combination of acute strategic planning and flawless execution. Their attitudes and manner led some to name them as arrogant and vainglorious long before the Horus Heresy, but the Legion's warriors were always ready to answer any such slight with blood. Duelling between Battle-Brothers was a part of many Space Marine Legions' martial traditions. For some these practices were a matter of training and honing the skills of battle. For others they took on significance beyond that of practical necessity; they became an end in themselves rather than a means to effectiveness in war. The fighting pits of the World Eaters Legion are one example, the Blade Feasts of the Imperial Fists another. To the Emperor's Children, however, duelling was a fundamental part not only of their training but also of their psychology. The duel was the ultimate expression of a warrior's skill and prowess, a mirror which reflected his essence.
The weapons they used to duel with were a key part of this culture, and spoke to their aesthetic appreciation. Many of the Emperor's Children bore swords crafted by the blade-smiths of a thousand worlds. Among these, the Charnabal sabres of the Old Terran tradition were a particular mark of quality within the Legion; forged to ancient rituals and alchemical formulae each blade was a unique product of a master sword maker. The habit of taking particularly fine weapons from defeated enemies was a strong characteristic of the wider Legion. If a renowned swordsman encountered a weapon of surpassing quality in the hands of an enemy, he would take it as a trophy. The swordsman would then practise with the trophy weapon until he wielded it with more skill than its original wielder, this act representing an almost kabbalistic ritual intended to absorb and defeat the enemy in spirit. So it was that the champions of the Emperor's Children wielded Racathian glass glaives, friction axes from the Norvik Sinks, Aegisine "saintie", Tuonela mortuary swords, Terran gladii and Martian-forged power blades to name but a few. No prohibition existed against weapons taken from aliens or cultures that were otherwise worthy only for destruction; all that mattered was the quality of the weapon itself.
Perfection of the Flesh
The quest for perfection consumed the Emperor's Children in body as well as spirit. For some it was not enough to achieve the accolade of perfection, they thirsted to embody that perfection. For these warriors it was not enough that the Emperor had crafted their flesh, and shaped each with insight and knowledge no other could rival; their granted superhuman state was simply the beginning of an unfinished path. Evidence would emerge during the Heresy that many years before Horus' treachery was made manifest, a few amongst the Emperor's Children Legion believed that they could perhaps improve on what gene-seed, human breeding and the Emperor's design had made them. They tampered with implanted gene-seed organs, analysed and modified their Progenoid Glands, and undertook surgical augmentation of those willing subjects who shared their obsessions. The blasphemies of flesh this belief would birth only emerged in the darkest years of the terrible Imperial civil war that would follow after the Istvaan III Atrocity, but its root must have grown long before the Emperor's Children trod the hot ashes of Istvaan III.
The root of this folly was no doubt to be found in the Legion's Apothecaries, as the Emperor's Children's Apothecarion in proportion was considerably larger than that of most other Legions, and was both fiercely proud of its work and acutely paranoid of failure in its responsibility, spurred on no doubt by the weight of memory regarding the IIIrd Legion's past near-extinction. In time criminal and outlawed medicae-practices would spread cancerously, become Warp-tainted and swallow all of the Emperor's Children, but it seems likely that the taint of evil began with a few individuals, and possibly with just one, Lieutenant Commander Fabius, the Legion's Chief Apothecary at the time of the Heresy whose name has since become a byword for atrocity and Chaotic corruption.
It is certainly known that the Apothecaries of the IIIrd Legion performed more careful purity checks on their Aspirants and gene-seed before implantation. Did those checks stray and become "correction?" Certainly there were elements in the Emperor's Children who bore "improvements" before the Istvaan III Atrocity. Some beneath a shell of apparent superhuman normality concealed augmented senses, modified musculature, even surgical alterations to their brain structure far from aligned to the Emperor's-ordained pattern set for the Space Marines of the Legiones Astartes. Transgenic blasphemy and forbidden technology may have played its part, but above all it was the fact that many of the Emperor's Children willingly embraced such alteration that was the true corruption that went unnoticed. It seems that the submission to such procedures was akin to a secret cult within the Emperor's Children. While the warrior lodges played their part in dragging other Legions into heresy, amongst the Emperor's Children it was their own sins of the flesh and arrogant pride in their own perfection that helped them on the path to damnation.
- "Your whimpering pleas are pathetic. My ears have known songs that have made the air weep sweet blood, such was the bliss. Clearly you need greater encouragement to improve your voice."
- — Draknus Fellbane, Anointed of the Majestic Host The corruption by Slaanesh of the IIIrd Legion changed all that had gone before. Now the surviving Astartes of the IIIrd Legion seek only the pursuit of their own most base and hedonistic desires, and hold that morality itself is only an illusion. The Emperor's Children Traitor Marines believe that Chaos, and more specifically the doctrines of the Prince of Pleasure, offer a path to a new form of enlightenment for Mankind and all the other thinking species of the galaxy. While Slaaneshi devotees may seem to be simply insane and self-obsessed sociopaths to outsiders, true devotees of the Path of Pain and Pleasure know that these are only the first steps along the road to true self-knowledge offered by the Dark Prince. While outsiders would claim that the Emperor's Children are simply slaves to their own obsessive desires and the needs of their foul god, the Primarch Fulgrim once noted that ALL men are slaves to something, whether it be their own ambition, concept of morality, or even of the Emperor Himself.
The Emperor's Children are now but shadows of their former glory, and countless centuries of infighting amongst both themselves and their traitor brethren have irreparably shattered any remaining semblance of cohesion. Wholly dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure and excess, members operate alone or in autonomous groups, attacking with unabashed savagery and revelling in the havoc they wreak. This existence of constant indulgence has rendered these ruthless warriors immune to all but the most extreme sensations, and they tirelessly subject themselves to the vilest and most deplorable experiences imaginable. Some dedicate themselves to aural delights and choose to become Noise Marines, servants of Slaanesh whose brains are conditioned to respond only to deafening sound and the frenzied chords of their sonic weaponry. The Chaos Space Marines of the Emperor's Children eagerly serve any master willing to indulge their appetite for barbarous rites and decadent vices. They pursue such acts with a singular and terrifying intensity, which owes its dark genesis to their many years of rigorous training and self-discipline before their fall. Now unfettered, their repressed urges and super-human physiques offer countless possibilities of unspeakable cruelty and ecstasy in equal measure. The most vicious and imaginative of these warriors often rise to lead their own debased warbands, and the tales of their appalling atrocities and excesses serve as a dire warning to all who encounter them.
The Emperor's Children are hedonists of the most extreme kind, and revel in the pleasures of the flesh. Yet none would survive the flames of war for long outside their ancient battle-plate. Slaanesh gifts his favoured warriors with the ability to feel pleasure and pain through the layered ceramite of their armour as if it were their own skin, making every bullet or blade that rebounds from its contours a thrill of sublime pain.
Many Emperor's Children relish the cut and thrust of close combat above all, revelling in the slash of the blade and the sharp sting of the riposte. Each drop of blood shed is exquisite nectar to these specialists; some even learn to taste with their blades. Fuelled by sensation, they find pain as invigorating as any intoxicant; to land a blow upon these demented warriors is to give them a vitalising ecstasy that no mortal could comprehend.
The Long War
- "Our Father denied us such pleasures. It is only fitting we share them with his deluded followers."
- — Delorial Eum of the Emperor's Children, prior to the Unspeakable Acts at the Shrine of Saint Killian
Perfection is normally an impossible goal to achieve. Life is finite, and there is only so much that can be done through its course. Time pushes ever onward, stealing opportunities and exchanging them for failures and regrets. This is the truth of existence for all creatures in the mortal realm. There are, however, places where the rules that govern reality are suspended, where time can be slowed, stopped, or even reversed. Warp storms such as the Eye of Terror and the Screaming Vortex are such places. Within these treacherous domains, the ancient veterans of the Long War experience time differently than those who fear to enter. Time is theirs to do with as they please. They can spend it honing their skills, plotting vengeance, and practicing their deadly arts -- and as it is said, practice makes perfect. The Emperor's Children and other Space Marines whom the Dark Prince released from the shackles of Imperial dogma have had thousands of years to revel in their freedom. Like all the warriors who fought the Emperor's tyranny, these Chaos Space Marines have a burning hatred of the Emperor and His simple minions smouldering within them. Unlike those others, they have found pleasure in the intensity of this hatred, and this has shown them the value of an existence in the borders between realspace and the Realm of Chaos. There they are free to linger over an emotion, to savour the sensations of the passions they feel. They can expose themselves to delightful torments, immerse themselves in debauched distractions, and experiment with new and gratifying ways to pursue their desire for revenge. As far as they are concerned, the followers of Slaanesh believe that Khorne can be content with simply killing, or Tzeentch with his black schemes. A warrior of Slaanesh has much more interesting things to do to his enemies than merely ending their lives, and within the timeless realms he and his subjects can experience and experiment with them all.
Much is still extant in the ancient Imperial documentation of the IIIrd Legion's Founding, and from the data it is apparent that the mark of the Legion's gene-seed and its conditioning produced warriors with finely sculpted physiques, a noble bearing, and finely-controlled thought processes, with psychological tendencies driven towards personal achievement and competition to prove individual superiority. The only physical abnormality registered was the occasional incidence of albinism, and a shift in iris colour to violet in some recruits. Such minor effects of the gene-seed implantation and conditioning process did nothing to distract from the aura of aesthetic refinement that clung to the IIIrd Legion, even in the first years, and they were held up as an archetype to be lauded and by whom other Astartes were judged.
After the near-destruction of the IIIrd Legion during its Founding because of the accident involving its gene-seed, surviving fragments of the Codex Apothecarion Terra indicate that absolute excellence was demanded of the Apothecaries who handled and worked on the precious genetic material. This ethos quickly merged with the Legion's general belief in perfection, so that the Emperor's Children's gene-seed was perhaps the most pure and stable of all the Space Marine Legions before the start of the Horus Heresy. Only the finest physical specimens of male adolescence were chosen for implantation, so that the mutation rate of the gene-seed was practically zero. As the Emperor's Children were dedicated to perfection, there were nearly no psykers wihin the Legion, for such a mutation, even when beneficial, would be considered to detract from the overall perfection of the Aspirant. Every enhancement produced by the gene-seed functioned at peak efficiency, allowing the Space Marines to achieve their full potential in battle. No other Space Marine Legion achieved such a goal, and the technology and expertise required have never been rediscovered in the millennia following the Horus Heresy.
Like all the Traitor Legions, however, the Emperor's Children's gene-seed is now so corrupted and riddled with Chaotic mutations that it is functionally useless for creating new Astartes. As such, the Emperor's Children, if they could pull themselves away from their self-indulgences long enough to care, must steal pure gene-seed stores from the Loyalist Space Marine Chapters when the opportunity presents itself if they seek to increase their numbers.
Notable Emperor's Children
- Fulgrim (Daemon Primarch) - Fulgrim the Phoenician was the Primarch of the Emperor's Children Legion and later became a Daemon Prince of Slaanesh. Fulgrim regretted his corruption by Chaos and repented of his actions after he slew his brother Primarch Ferrus Manus of the Iron Hands Legion during the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V. However, the spiritual weakness produced by this moment of clarity led Fulgrim to surrender control of his body to possession by the Greater Daemon of Slaanesh that inhabited the Daemonsword he had taken from the xenos world of Laeran. The real Fulgrim became a prisoner in his own body, the state of his soul revealed in a painting kept on the Emperor's Children Legion's flagship Pride of the Emperor, while the possessed Fulgrim went on to lead his Legion to ever greater heights of nurder and debauchery in the eyes of the Prince of Pleasure. But Fulgrim used his captivity to master the ways of the Warp and ultimately cast the daemon from his body, retaking his rightful place yet having also progressed even further along the path of Chaos as set forth by the Prince of Pleasure. Fulgrim was ultimately raised to become a Daemon Prince of Slaanesh and now dwells on an unknown Daemon World in the Eye of Terror. The soul of the real Fulgrim remains trapped in a nightmare from which he can never wake.
- Eidolon (Lord Commander) - Eidolon was the first Space Marine selected by Fulgrim to lead an entire company. He was commonly regarded as the most proficient of all the Lord Commanders of the IIIrd Legion and had been a dedicated student of the art of warfare in all its aspects. He was decapitated by Fulgrim with the Chaotic blade known as the Kinebrach Anathame after he dared to question why Fulgrim had ordered the IIIrd Legion to assault the relatively unimportant Adeptus Mechanicus world of Prismatica V. In a moment of remorse, Fulgrim ordered Chief Apothecary Fabius to restore the slain Lord Commander back to life, though his resurrection had unforeseen side-effects. Eidolon would live with pain like no other, driving the Lord Commander mad with joy as a result of his corruption by Slaanesh. Every instant of life given to him would be spent in a symphony of pain and pleasure. Forever after, he would be referred to by his brothers simply as "The Risen". Unsubstantiated rumours persist that Eidolon yet lives; and that he is responsible for hundreds, if not thousands of raids upon Imperial worlds over the last ten standard millennia. Unsubstantiated evidence suggests Eidolon has served as a lieutenant to Abaddon the Despoiler, a consort to Queen Sylelle as well as a champion of the Daemon Prince N'Kari.
- Vespasian (Lord Commander) (Deceased) - One of two senior Lord Commanders of the IIIrd Legion during the Great Crusade era. Unlike his counterpart Eidolon, Vespasian was immensely likeable, for his incredible abilities as a warrior and commander were tempered by a rare humility that made others warm to him immediately. In the manner of the Emperor's Children, warriors who followed Vespasian would take their lead from him in all things, his example serving as a model of how they might best achieve perfection through purity of purpose. Following the campaign against the Laer, over time a rift soon grew between the once-favoured Lord Commander and his Primarch. Eventually, Vespasian confronted Fulgrim in his staterooms over the growing rot and decay of the ideals that their Legion was founded on. To his horror Vespasian discovered too late the malign influence that held sway over his Primarch. Fulgrim murdered Vespasian by stabbing him in the neck with his cursed sword.
- Anteus (Lord Commander) - Lord Commander during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras.
- Cyrius (Lord Commander) (Deceased) - Following the Horus Heresy, Lucius finally met his match in swordsmanship, when the two Emperor's Children Astartes dueled. His agonising death was an experience of transcendent pleasure, but Slaanesh was loath to let such a promising protege slip into the realm of death. Over the following weeks, the artificer armour Cyrius wore began to warp and change. His hair fell out in clumps, and dark lines appeared under his flesh, slowly pushing through his skin as a maze of scar tissue. Soon, Lucius emerged completely, and all that remained of his executioner was a screaming, writhing face, subsumed for eternity into Lucius's armour.
- Iddinam (Lord Commander) (Deceased) - Lord Commander Iddinam was the commander of an Army Group of Emperor's Children charged with bringing the Praxil system into Imperial Compliance in order to acquire its vast wealth and resources without damaging the delicate infrastructure. The Emperor's Children were supported by selected elements of the Imperial Army and the military forces of the Mechanicum. Despite meticulous planning, the campaign did not begin well, as substantial losses were inflicted upon the Imperial forces. Changing their strategy, the Emperor's Children decided that instead of focusing on systematic conquest of the system's void stations, moons and planets, they would instead focus upon Praxil's fleet. Without the ability to redeploy their strength, each of the Praxil domains would become a closed tactical problem. But the Praxil had anticipated such tactics, and instead deployed multiple strike fleets to attack the Imperial fleet. Heavy further losses were incurred during this initial engagement as the Praxil took advantage and attacked the Imperial toehold on their outer moons and space stations. A representative of the War Council of Terra observed that Lord Commander Iddinam would never willingly admit that he needed assistance, and therefore issued a request to Terra for reinforcements. Soon elements from the Blood Angels under the command of Chapter Master Raldoron and Marshal Cazimus of the Imperial Fists arrived in-system to augment the beleaguered Imperial forces. Despite his misgivings and the slight to his personal honour, the Lord Commander accepted his cousin Legions' assistance and immediately drew up plans for prosecuting the second offensive against the Praxil. Utilising the strength of the Blood Angels and Imperial Fists, the Emperor's Children launched a successful second offensive against the Praxil that soon saw an Imperial victory. When the Imperium claimed its victory, however, the Lord Commander refused to be present during the subsequent Compliance ceremonies or acknowledge his role in effecting the Compliance of Praxil afterwards. Iddinam would later have a hand as a prime conspirator of his Legion's treachery during the Istvaan III Atrocity. He gave himself over to the horrors of the Warp before finally being destroyed by the Loyalist Iron Warriors Warsmith Auric Saxton at the Battle of the Harrow Ravening.
- Illois (Lord Commander) (Deceased) - Killed during the Great Crusade
- Teliosa (Lord Commander) (Deceased) - Hero of the Madrivane Campaign. Killed during the Great Crusade
- Abdemon (Lieutenant Commander) (Deceased) - Abdemon was the Lieutenant Commander of the IIIrd Legion who prosecuted the xenocide of the Katara, as recounted above. It is said that Abdemon and members of his Cohort trained and fought with the weapons of the Katara, and bore these relics throughout the rest of the Great Crusade. Abdemon himself is believed to have died on the traitorous blade of one of his own captains on the field of the Choral City during the Istvaan III Atrocity.
- Fabius (Lieutenant Commander; Chief Apothecary) - Fabius Bile, now called the Clone Lord, was the Chief Apothecary and a Lieutenant Commander of the Emperor's Children Legion. After the Horus Heresy he left the IIIrd Legion and the path of Slaanesh behind to pursue his own agenda to unearth the secret genetic engineering knowledge that the Emperor of Mankind had used to create the Astartes. He is known to have unleashed genocide and hideous genetic experiments on countless worlds across the galaxy.
- Azael Konenos - Azael was a Consul-Delegatus of the Emperor's Children during the 30th and 31st Millennia. During the Horus Heresy he commanded Battlegroup Jewel Shard from his command vessel, the Avenger-class Grand Cruiser Ravisher. Following the events upon the Crone World of Iydris within the Eye of Terror, where his Primarch Fulgrim achieved apotheosis as a Daemon Prince, Azael followed Lord Commander Eidolon into further debauchery, self-mutilation and sadism which now consumed much of the corrupted III Legion. He later took part in the harrowing of the White Scars' fleet, and in the Battle of the Kalium Gate and the Battle of Catallus, where he was offered as a sacrifice by his own Apothecary Von Kalda and was subsequently possessed by the Keeper of Secrets known as Manushya-Rakshasi. The vile Greater Daemon would go on to possess the crew of the Emperor's Children Legionaries aboard the vessel Proudheart. Manushya-Rakshasi was ultimately slain by the Primarch Jaghatai Khan. Azael's fate is unknown.
- Flavius Alkenex (Prefector) - Flavius Alkenex was a formidable warrior and prominent officer within the Emperor's Children Legion. He served within the upper echelons of the IIIrd Legion's organisation as a member of the elite Phoenix Guard Millenial of the Legion.
- Grythan Thorn (Decanus) (Deceased) - Decanus Grythan Thorn was a known figure outside the IIIrd Legion, serving as Equerry to his Primarch Fulgrim during the Kobal Compliance campaign. Thorn was known to have been slain during the botched commandeering of the heavy cruiser Sunstone in the early stages of the Istvaan III Atrocity.
- Julius Kaesoron (First Captain) - Commander of the elite 1st Company. After Slaaneshi corruption consumed much of the IIIrd Legion, Kaesoron submitted to the surgical modification experiments of the Apothecary Fabius Bile and was transformed into one of the first Noise Marines. He gathered the other Noise Marines of the IIIrd Legion around him before the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V and formed the infamous unit that became known as the Kakophoni.
- Solomon Demeter (Second Captain) (Deceased) - Solomon Demeter was a Captain of the 2nd Company of the Emperor's Children Space Marine Legion during the Great Crusade and opening days of the Horus Heresy. Unlike most Astartes of the Emperor's Children, he displayed the qualities of individualism, an exacting and perfectionist nature and recklessness that set him apart from his peers, making him stand out amongst the senior officers of the IIIrd Legion. During the opening days of the Horus Heresy, he remained loyal to the Emperor and the tenants of the Imperial Truth, and so was fated to be sent to the surface of Istvaan III, in what would become known in Imperial history as the Istvaan III Atrocity, to die alongside the other Loyalist elements of the Space Marine Legions under the direct command of Warmaster Horus. Though he survived the initial bombardment and was gravely wounded, he, along with other Loyalist survivors, fought a protracted campaign of attrition against the Traitor forces of the Warmaster. In a dark twist of fate, Demeter was betrayed by one of his own Battle-Brothers, dying at the hands of Captain Lucius.
- Marius Vairosean (Third Captain) (Deceased) - Marius Vairosean was once the third Captain of the Emperor's Children Legion during the latter days of the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy in the late 30th and early 31st Millennium. He was present during many of the most infamous campaigns of the Heresy, including the Istvaan III Atrocity and the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V. Marius' own quest for perfection would lead him and his entire Legion along the foul path of Chaotic corruption. Due to the influence of Slaanesh and the hideous ministrations of the Apothecary Fabius Bile, Vairosean was soon consumed by the corruption of Slaanesh and became one of the very first Noise Marines in service to the Prince of Pleasure. He eventually became the leader of the Kakophoni, the Noise Marines unit that formed within the Traitor Emperor's Children Legion after their fall to Chaos. During the joint expedition undertaken by both the Emperor's Children and the Iron Warriors Legion into the Eye of Terror to seek out the forbidden xenos weapon known as the Angel Exterminatus, Vairosean was killed by the Drop Site Massacre survivor Ignatius Numen, an Iron Hands Morlock.
- Saul Tarvitz (Tenth Captain) (Presumed Deceased) - Commander of the 10th Company and staunch loyalist. Tarvitz was a file officer whom did not aspire to anything higher, despite being extremely competitive. Most troops that he lead greatly respected him, except Lucius, who was enraged the attention Tarvitz receives for his competent leadership. Captain Tarvitz was supposed to be in the initial drop-assault onto the surface of Istvaan III but had traded places at the last minute with the Dreadnought Ancient Rylanor. Discovering the treachery of the Warmaster Horus and his Primarch Fulgrim, Tarvitz willingly placed himself in the line of fire by going to the surface of the planet to warn his fellow Loyalists. Shortly after safely reaching the surface, Horus ordered the viral bombardment of the planet, but thanks to Tarvitz's last minute warning, some of the Loyalist forces were able to take cover in air tight bunkers. Tarvitz, along with his fellow Captains from the Luna Wolves, Garviel Loken and Tarik Torgaddon, managed to turn the rag-tag Loyalist survivors into a cohesive fighting unit. Tarvitz, a formerly unremarkable line officer, had transformed a planned massacre into a successful guerrilla war, confounding even the great Horus' best laid plans. Tarvitz, along with his fellow Loyalists apparently met their final fate on Istvaan III.
- Lucius the Eternal (Thirteenth Captain, later Lord Commander) - Lucius the Eternal is the current Chaos Champion of the Chaos God Slaanesh and a Lord Commander of the Emperor's Children Traitor Legion. Lucius is also known as the Soulthief, Fulgrim's Champion, and the Scion of Chemos. Lucius has been blessed by Slaanesh so that when he is slain, no easy task in itself, his killer will eventually transform into Lucius if he takes any pleasure or satisfaction from the killing. Lucius was once the Captain of the Emperor's Children Legion's 13th Company. He served alongside his friend and fellow Astartes officer, Captain Saul Tarvitz of the 10th Company, during the Great Crusade of the 31st Millennium. Lucius' friendship with Tarvitz often displayed those character flaws that lead to Lucius' ultimate damnation. Where Tarvitz was a grounded and mature Astartes, Lucius was often childish and egotistical, but already known within his Legion as a superlative swordsman. Lucius's character changed greatly during the early days of the Horus Heresy. The most obvious change was the appearance of the scars he carved ritually into his face, changing him from a flawless Space Marine into a corrupt tyrant who gloried in the sensation of dealing out pain. The reasons recorded for this disfigurement have varied. Some claim they express Lucius's "devotion and piety" towards the Chaos Gods, others that they were intended to deflect comments that he looked more like a boy than a warrior. In reality, Lucius met Slaanesh-corrupted Remembrancer and painter who accompanied the 28th Expeditionary Fleet named Serena D'Angelus. After showing Lucius her hideously scarred forearms, she explained that each scar was a memorial to one of her victims. Lucius, who had had his nose broken by Garviel Loken of the Luna Wolves, understood that his appearance would never be flawless again, and so scarred his face without remorse. After this meeting he added a scar to his body every time he met a worthy opponent, such as before duelling with his former comrade and best friend, Saul Tarvitz. Lucius' descent into the clutches of Chaos only deepened during the Battle of Istvaan III after Horus betrayed the Loyalists within his own Traitor Legions to cleanse his troops of any who remained beholden to the will of the Emperor. Originally forced to fight on the side of the Loyalist Astartes during the three-month-long battle on that devastated world because his friendship with Tarvitz had made the Legion's leaders believe he would not support their decision to betray the Emperor of Mankind, Lucius' pride and jealousy eventually overwhelmed him. Lucius came to resent Tarvitz's role in their success against the enemy and the respect he commanded from the other Loyalist Astartes. Lucius contacted Lord Commander Eidolon and promised to deliver Tarvitz -- and break the Loyalists' defences -- for the Warmaster in return for being reaccepted into the Legion. Eidolon accepted the proposal. Lucius slaughtered a group of 30 Astartes who were defending the Loyalists' lines to open the way for the Traitors' final assault against their former brethren. Lucius succeeded in this assassination with the aid of Captain Solomon Demeter of the 2nd Company of the Emperor's Children, who had also remained a Loyalist and realised too late that Lucius had tricked him into attacking a group of Loyalist Astartes. Lucius slew the wounded Demeter just after he realised with horror the full extent of his mistake and Lucius' betrayal. With his place restored in the ranks of the Traitors, Lucius then challenged Tarvitz to a one-on-one duel to finally determine who was the better warrior. Tarvitz emerged the victor, but Lucius fled the battle and returned to the arms of his Traitor Legion, having fulfilled his side of the bargain. Lucius returned to his Legion and ultimately led the other senior officers of the IIIrd Legion in a rebellion against their Primarch Fulgrim after Lucius came to believe that Fulgrim's body was possessed by a daemon of the Warp. In the course of these events, Lucius learned that while Fulgrim had been possessed by the Slaaneshi daemon that had once inhabited the Primarch's Laer daemonblade, that Fulgrim had reasserted contol over his own body and banished the daemon to imprisonment within the portrait of the Primarch that still remained in La Fenice, the ruined exhibition hall of the Battle Barge Pride of the Emperor. Awed by Fulgrim's perfection, Lucius then swore his allegiance anew to his corrupted Primarch. After these events, Lucius eventually rose to become one of two of the remaining Lord Commanders of the Emperor's Children, after that Traitor Legion had been cemented in thrall to Slaanesh. Lucius did not obtain that position easily, however, for he was actually slain during an Emperor's Children gladiatorial game by the Chaos Space Marine he had challenged for the rank, Lord Commander Cyrius. Lucius' death was described as an experience of such "transcendent pleasure" that it caused Slaanesh himself to intervene and to reincarnate Lucius within the body of the previously victorious Cyrius; the latter's soul became a trapped, screaming face within Lucius' Artificer Armour by the will of the Prince of Pleasure.
- Hellespon (Captain) - Captain during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras.
- Tyrion (Captain) - Captain during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras.
- Xiandor (Captain) - Captain during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras.
- Odovocar (Captain) - Legion Standard Bearer
- Charmosian (Chaplain) (Deceased) - Chaplain of the 18th Company, and one of the senior-most members of the Legion. He acted as a member of Fulgrim's honour guard during the latter stages of the Legion's corruption. He was killed by Lucius at Istvaan III when the pair dueled.
- Gaius Caphen (Lieutenant) - Second-in-command to Captain Demeter of the 2nd Company. Died of his wounds before the traitors land on Istvaan III. (Deceased)
- Lycaon - Equerry to First Captain Kaesoron of the 1st Company.
- Abdle Comendius (Apothecary) (Deceased) - Apothecary Abdle Comendius was a native of Chemos and staunch Loyalist of the Emperor and the ideals of the Unification. He was betrayed unto his death alongside his Legion's first wave during the Istvaan III Atrocity, fighting valiantly in the defence of the Precentor's Palace of the Choral City against the Traitors.
- Azeal Konenos "The Silent" - As a mere Centurion, Konenos served as Lord Commander Eidolon's second-in-command during the ground assault against the Emperor's Children Loyalists during the Istvaan III Atrocity, leading repeated attacks and sustaining multiple injuries while doing so. This included the destruction of his voice box and larynx which were later replicated by a crude augmetic as self-inflicted punishment for his failure. He would forever after be known as "the Silent" after the Istvaan III Atrocity. Like his master, Konenos quickly embraced the Legion's new philosophy, altering his body further to become one of the most proeminent Noise Marines. Eidolon's continued favours made that Konenos would eventually be promoted to the rank of Legion Consul, rising in parallel within the ranks of the Kakophoni to become one of their first Orchestrators.
- Solathen (Sergeant) - Solathen commanded Squad Nasicae during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras.
- Raths Luastus (Decurio) (Deceased) - Decurio Raths Luastus was a Terran-borne Astartes of the IIIrd Legion and staunch Loyalist of the Emperor and believer in the cause of Unification. He served in one of his Legion's Jump Pack-equipped assault companies. Luastus was slain during the initial Istvaan III attack by a rebel Istvaani "War-singer", a Slaaneshi battle psyker.
- Callion Zaven (Deceased) - Callion Zaven was a Terran-borne veteran Legionary of the Emperor's Children Legion during the Great Crusade who fought in the earliest campaigns to reconquer the Sol System. He saw fighting on Jupiter during the early years of the Great Crusade where he was gravely wounded, before the discovery of his Primarch Fulgrim on the world of Chemos. By the time he got out of the apothecarion, his Legion had already moved on without him and he soon found himself reluctantly serving as his Legion's emissary in the Crusader Host, and would do so for many decades, until the Warmaster's betrayal was revealed at Istvaan III. With Horus' treachery revealed he was imprisoned in Khangba Marwu with the other Crusader Host Legionaries, but eventually had his sentence commuted by the Malcador the Sigillite, and was offered a place within the ranks of his Knights-Errant. He was killed aboard the Sons of Horus' flagship, Vengeful Spirit, during the failed assassination attempt on the Warmaster.
- Ancient Rylanor, "Ancient of Rites" (Venerable Dreadnought) - Ancient Rylanor was a venerated hero of the IIIrd Legion and its "Ancient of Rites" who was mortally wounded battling the Eldar decades before the Horus Heresy and was interred within the adamantium shell of a Dreadnought. Rylanor was only part of Fulgrim's honour guard through tradition, though he was increasingly troubled by the direction the IIIrd Legion moved in after the assault on Laeran. He traded places for the combat drop onto Istvaan III with Saul Tarvitz, who was supposed to go instead as one of the Emperor's Children Loyalists marked for betrayal and death. Rylanor fought against the Traitors during the Battle of Istvaan III but it is unknown whether he met his ultimate fate at the hands of his former brothers.
- Ancient Sarancos (Dreadnought) - Sarancos was a former champion of the 9th Millennial before being interred within the adamantium shell of a Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought. Sarancos was a part of Lord Commander Eidolon's Traitor command, and he is thought to have survived the battle on Istvaan III, although he became mentally unstable owing to a combination of battle damage and trauma.
- Ancient Thordorian (Dreadnought) - Thordorian was a Dreadnought of the Emperor's Children during the Great Crusade era.
The Emperor's Children are known to have possessed the following vessels in their Legion fleet at the time of the Horus Heresy:
- Pride of the Emperor (Gloriana-class Battleship) - Flagship of Primarch Fulgrim and the IIIrd Legion.
- Firebird (Assault Ship) - Fulgrim's personal, custom-designed Assault Ship.
- The Agony and the Ecstasy (Battle Barge)
- Callidora (Battle Barge)
- Proudheart (Battle Barge, modified Dictatus-class Battleship) - Flagship of Lord Commander Eidolon.
- Erewhon (Emperor-class Battleship)
- Ravisher (Avenger-class Grand Cruiser) - During the Horus Heresy, the Ravisher was the flagship of the battle-group Jewel Shard, led by Legion Consul Azael Konenos, Orchestrator of the Kakophoni.
- Andronius (Strike Cruiser) - The Andronius harboured Chief Apothecary Fabius' personal laboratory in which he first began his experiments to "improve" upon the Astartes' genetic template which would ultimately lead to the creation of the very first Noise Marines and countless other atrocities. The Andronius was destroyed by the Sisypheum while trying to dock the Iron Hands vessel in order to board it, its hull torn apart as the Sisypheum rammed it with phenomenal speed.
- Longinus (Strike Cruiser)
- Stealth (Strike Cruiser) - A vessel sometimes used by Fulgrim.
- Aquiline (Cruiser, unknown Class) - With the Proudheart, the Aquiline, Excessive, Infinite Variety and Mortal Splendour formed the heart of Lord Commander Eidolon's fleet at the Battle of the Kalium Gate and the track for the Vth Legion.
- Excessive (Cruiser, unknown Class)
- Infinite Variety (Cruiser, unknown Class)
- Mortal Splendour (Cruiser, unknown Class)
- Suzerain (Cruiser, unknown class) - IIIrd Legion vessel charged with the protection of the Memnos convoy which came under attack from the White Scars Legion.
- Fulgrim's Virtue (Escort)
- Golden Mean (Escort) - Escort of the Callidora.
- Infinite Sublime (Escort) - Escort of the Callidora.
Many of the Emperor's Children's vessels were known to launch smaller interceptor craft or fighters known as Raptors. Imperial records are unclear as to the nature and role of these small vessels.
- Blissgiver - This long-tongued whip can render those who feel its sting insensible with indescribable pleasure. Even those who put aside gratification for a greater duty find their oaths and promises forgotten, washed away in a tide of sensation that drowns the mind completely. So it is to feel the kiss of Slaanesh. Though their lives are cruelly torn away almost immediately afterwards, for a few short moments, they truly know ecstasy and agony entwined.
- Bolts of Ecstatic Vexation - Fired with a shrill howl, these strangely shaped mass-reactive bolts contain not explosive charges, but a peculiar cerise gas. Any who catch so much as a whiff of this vapour are driven into a hallucinatory fugue state where all their dreams and nightmares mingle together into a kaleidoscope of intense sensation. Even the most fortified bunker or sainted sanctum is of little protection, for the winding tendrils of the pinkish hallucinogen seek out sane minds as a hungry felid seeks out fresh meat.
- Endless Grin - This fleshy mask is the still-living, flayed face of a man who begged Slaanesh to fulfil his wish to live forever. The Dark Prince was only too pleased to oblige, gifting the unfortunate soul immortality but also forcing him to present his face to the Chaos Lord Shixe. After murdering the supplicant, Shixe wore that face as a prized reminder of the occasion for several standard centuries. The Endless Grin has since exchanged hands many times, but the potency of its anguish has never diminished.
- Intoxicating Elixir - This concoction is so valuable that even a minute drop is worth a fortune. Some say it was brewed by the master fleshcrafters of Commorragh, others that it is nectar from Slaanesh's pleasure gardens, or that it is the blood of Fulgrim himself. The liquid is self-replenishing, and one who partakes of it harnesses dark physical power. The Emperor's Children channel it into dispenser arrays so they can dump it into their bloodstream by the pint.
- Shriekwave - This ornate Doom Siren emits a thunderous bass boom and a hypermodulated scream powerful enough to shatter diamond. The sheer deafening power hits with a physical impact, blasting away all cohesive thought in an instant. Only those with a tremendous strength of will can hold mind and body together -- those who let their minds be swept away find their flesh, bone and gristle alike reduced to shuddering pulp by myriad resonant frequencies.
- Soulsnare Lash - This fleshy whip has been marinated in the sweat of six Keepers of Secrets during their forbidden strife-rituals. Barbed hooks run along its length, and its coils are warm yet unsettling to the touch. Should it ensnare a victim, the poor fool is consumed in aetheric fire that burns the soul from his body, snatching it away for an eternity of anguish in the six circles of Slaanesh's realm.
Before their corruption at the start of the Horus Heresy, the Space Marines of the IIIrd Legion symbolically coloured their armour with lacquer of imperial purple and gold to mark their rank and mission as the Emperor's chosen, with the Emperor's own standard -- the Palatine Aquila -- the golden double-headed eagle, worn upon their chest plates, granted to them by His own hand for their ancient victory during the Proximan Betrayal. While this is now a common decoration for Astartes armour in the late 41st Millennium, during the days of the Great Crusade, only the Emperor's Children were allowed to display the Aquila as a sign of their favour in the eyes of the Emperor of Mankind. This bolstered their already considerable pride to the point where Horus' flattery and Fulgrim's obsessions took root all the more easily, eventually leading to their downfall.
As if to mark a break from the wars of the past, the armour that the first warriors of the Space Marine Legions went to war in was cast in storm cloud grey, and bore only the thunderbolt and lightning marks of Imperial Unity. Over time the different Legions gained their own marks of distinction and character, as well as iconic names. Like their brother Legions, soon the Emperor's Children began to decorate their personal armour with honours that reflected notable skills and deeds. Their armour displayed the typical aesthetics and complex heraldry that was a hallmark of the IIIrd Legion. For example, a helmet crest denoted status within the Legion's organisation. White enamel inlay on an individual warrior's armour was used to denote rank and heraldry and was an older Legion tradition dating back to before its unification with the Primarch Fulgrim. Seal papers carried "Oaths of Moment" commending the wearer to fulfill specified duties or ordinances at any cost. During the latter stage of the Great Crusade, the Emperor's Children's wargear and panoply included considerable personal adornment and customisation of their armour. A primary example of this would be an Eye of Horus emblem prominently displayed to denote service with the Warmaster and possible involvement in the Legion's warrior lodge, the Brotherhood of the Phoenix.
During the Heresy, the Emperor's Children repainted their armour in those colours which honour Slaanesh -- pastel colours such as pink and black; they also favour bright, garish, clashing, sensuous colours for decoration and no two Emperor's Children Astartes will have the same colour patterns on their Power Armour. They also make wide use of Noise Marines in their forces. An excellent description of what an Emperor's Children Astartes looks like in the 41st Millennium is here recounted:
"His armour was enamelled with garish hues, eye-watering purple and squint-inducing gold, and encrusted with garish decoration and filigree like a tree choked with vines run amok. What flesh that could be seen within the armour was pale white, and studded with piercings, needles and rings of all varieties. The eyes which gazed out of that white skull seemed deadened and numb, the pupils so wide and dilated that scarcely any iris was visible. These were eyes that had seen too much and never quite recovered. It was a condition that was like the opposite of blindness -- rather than milky orbs that could see nothing, these were black eyes that could see everything, and could never look away."
The Emperor's Children Legion badge during the Great Crusade consisted of a golden eagle's wing that ended in a talon. This was part of the symbol of the Aquila, the Emperor's personal heraldry, which the Emperor's Children were the only Legion authorised to wear at the time. The officers of the IIIrd Legion wore a larger and more elaborate variant of the taloned eagle's wing that was crafted out of precious metals, usually a gold wing and talon that clutched a purple jewel.
Once the Horus Heresy began, the Emperor's Children began to decorate their garish Power Armour with the blasphemous symbols and sigils of Slaanesh, the Prince of Pleasure, as well as the eight-pointed Star of Chaos, an oft-incorporated Chaotic icon used by all of the Traitor Legions.
- Angel Exterminatus, Chapter 21 (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Black Crusade - The Tome of Excess (RPG), pp. 16, 22, 25-26, 28-29
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 9, 13, 22, 47, 62-63
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 12-13, 22, 47, 52-54, 73
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex), pp. 29, 39, 56-57
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 1st Codex), pp. 17, 27, 31
- Codex: Chaos (2nd Edition), pp. 15-16, 32, 44, 93, 102-104
- Codex Heretic Astartes - Chaos Space Marines (8th Edition), pp. 47-49
- Traitor Legions - A Codex: Chaos Space Marines Supplement, (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pg. 123
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 79-80
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions
- Index Astartes I, "Children of the Emperor - The Emperor's Children Space Marine Legion"
- Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness, pg. 263
- The Horus Heresy Book One: Betrayal by Alan Bligh, pp. 102-119, 256-261
- The Horus Heresy Book Six: Retribution by Alan Bligh, pp. 30, 38-44, 233
- White Dwarf 291 (US), "Innocence Lost: John Thompson's Emperor's Children"
- White Dwarf 255 (US), "Index Astartes - First Founding: Children of the Emperor"
- White Dwarf 150 (US), "'Eavy Metal: Epic Daemons - Fulgrim: Primarch of Slaanesh", pp. 68-69
- False Gods (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Galaxy in Flames (Novel) by Ben Counter
- The Flight of the Eisenstein (Novel) by James Swallow
- Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- A Thousand Sons (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Prospero Burns (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Aurelian (Novella) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- The Primarchs (Anthology), "The Reflection Crack'd" by Graham McNeill
- Fabius Bile: Primogenitor (Novel) by Josh Reynolds
- Fear to Tread (Novel) by James Swallow
- Sons of Dorn (Novel) by Chris Roberson
- Angel Exterminatus (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- The Damnation of Pythos (Novel) by David Annandale, pg. 97
- Imperfect (Short Story) by Nick Kyme
- Chirurgeon (Shorty Story) by Nick Kyme
- Vengeful Spirit (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- The Path of Heaven (Novel) by Chris Wraight, pp.17-30, 57