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Ghargatuloth is one of the Greater Daemons of Tzeentch, an entity that has been known by myriad names in the material realm, including the "Prince of a Thousand Faces," the "Forger of Hells," the "Whisperer in the Darkness," the "God of the Last Hunt," and the "Seventy-Seventh Masque." Countless atrocities have been committed in his name, for Ghargatuloth's true lifeblood is knowledge, the true vector of all change in the universe. With each foul deed accomplished, with every man killed, with every secret gleamed or divulged, Ghargatuloth learns more and thus becomes more powerful. The first time Ghargatuloth revealed his hand, he was a mere child in the eyes of his overlord and still it took the sacrifice of no less than three Grand Masters of the Grey Knights Chapter and three hundred of their brethren to banish Ghargatuloth from the material realm. Ten thousand standard years later, on the eve of the 13th Black Crusade of Abaddon the Despoiler, the plans spun by Ghargatuloth bore fruit and the Prince of a Thousand Faces was reborn on the almost forgotten world of Volcanis Ultor in the Segmentum Solar, far to the galactic south of the Imperium of Man's main line of defence around the Cadian Gate. Fortunately for Mankind, Ghargatuloth was confronted by the heroic Justicar Alaric who succeeded in banishing him for the second time. Nevertheless, Ghargatuloth still remains a threat, and although the Emperor's Tarot indicates that his banishment is to last for the next 1,000 standard years, who truly knows what dark plans Ghargatuloth hatches from beyond the veil?
A daemon has no real date of birth, for its essence comes from the Warp, yet Ghargatuloth was once young and in his youth he showed considerable interest in the material realm, and in particular in the species known as man. Like many of the Greater Daemons of the Ruinous Powers, he craved the new experiences and sensations of the Materium, crossing the veil whenever he found a mind of sufficient psychic power to harbour him. Escaping the Warp, he revelled in the feeling of having a physical body, from the weight of his own muscle and bone to the dullness of possessing only five senses. The material world offered him countless new sensations and experiences. Ghargatuloth used his physical body to interact with mankind, for he had emerged in the troubled time known as the Age of Strife. His words or stories were perceived as the insane gibbering of the mentally-ill amongst the petty, narrow-minded human beings he encountered. The aura of power surrounding him was such that everybody who laid eyes upon him instantly knew that he was not human. Yet in the tumultuous time of war and bloodshed that was the Age of Strife even a madmen like Ghargatuloth could become a king. It is the firm belief of the Inquisition that Ghargatuloth spent almost the entirety of the Age of Strife under various human identities. He was the brutal warlord who condemned whole worlds to burn just to satisfy his ego, and the hero whose name was venerated by millions. He was both the woman who would bathe every morning in seas of the lifeblood of her exsanguinated foes and the pirate-king who united a dozen star-systems only to let them fight each other and see which would prevail. Ghargatuloth watched as entire empires in the void rose and fell, as cities were erected and torn down. As a species, Mankind ultimately lost the ability to travel the stars, fracturing into a thousand different worlds, stellar empires and kingdoms, all at war with each other.
In countless disguises and under many different names, Ghargatuloth gathered knowledge and grew ever more powerful. He became the Prince of a Thousand Faces. Many times he knew defeat and even pain when his host's physical body was killed. The Age of Strife lasted longer than many humans could comprehend, longer even than history could properly record. Every life Ghargatuloth lived fed his lust for the pursuit of knowledge that was the true mark of every servant of Tzeentch, but after centuries of bloodshed, the truth dawned upon Ghargatuloth: he was a mere child, and the Age of Strife was his playground. For every victory he achieved, he had also known defeat. For each empire that rose to power, another fell into anarchy. Ultimately, Mankind had one inherent flaw: it was weak. However powerful, Mankind could not endure, for the slow passage of time would see it fail time and time again, for the only eternal power-- that of the gods -- rested within the Warp. Only the Chaos Gods were truly eternal and Mankind could not hope to emulate them. When Ghargatuloth realised this fundamental truth, he began to despise the species he had toyed with for so long. He still occasionally ventured into the material realm to cause wanton panic and havoc, but it was an action devoid of sense, only meant to distract him from his state of boredom. There was no knowledge to be found there, no secrets to learn, for Mankind was but a crude and ignorant animal that could never gain true, meaningful power. Until one man changed all this.
On distant Terra, the cradle of Mankind, a visionary warlord had risen to power and seized control of the homeworld, a stranger calling himself the Emperor. The Emperor had something others of His ilk lacked: He had a vision, a vision called the Great Crusade. Whether He knew it or not, whether He wanted it or refused the very notion of it, the Emperor had declared every human being an automatic citizen of the newly founded Imperium of Mankind. Through violence and peaceful negotiations, the Emperor strove to reunite the scattered species and establish Mankind as the dominant race of the galaxy, a people that could rival the might of the Eldar of old. Such raw ambition piqued Ghargatuloth's interest, but the Prince of a Thousand Face refrained from interfering. For centuries, the Great Crusade conquered Mankind's scattered domains, unifying them into the Imperium. For the first time in its history, Mankind secured lasting power. The Imperium even survived the great wars of the Horus Heresy, when the Emperor's favourite general, Horus, the Warmaster, guided by blessed Chaos, turned his back on his father's plans and declared war upon Him. The Imperium even survived the loss of its founder and ruler, pushing back the forces that threatened it time and time again, vanquishing its many foes, surviving both civil wars and alien invasions. And suddenly the galaxy became interesting again. Ghargatuloth had found a new purpose: to ensure that the mighty Imperium, as all empires before it, would fall.
As one of the most powerful beings of his kind, Ghargatuloth is able to exist simultaneously both within the physical realm and the Warp. So while his physical body roamed the galaxy, Ghargatuloth's essence was able to heed his master's call when the Changer of Ways, the Chaos God Tzeentch, called for a conclave of his most devoted servants on the world of Thalassocres. These events roughly took place in the 38th Millennium, some two thousand standard years before Inquisitrice Ligeia and Justicar Alaric would discover Ghargatuloth's taint upon the Trail of Saint Evisser. Historical data show a notable increase of civil unrest, mass hysteria and daemonic possession at that time, without humanity's protectors every connecting the two events. As discovered by Ligeia, it was the gathered might of the Conclave of Thalassocres that wreaked havoc on humanity's collective psyche.
Within the Warp, the power of Tzeentch had grown strong enough to eclipse that of the other Gods of Chaos, and like the toll of a gigantic bell, Tzeentch's call gathered his followers to the world of Thalassocres, a planet deep within the Immaterium that embodied the concept of change. Every solar hour, Thalassocres' continents rearranged themselves, great mountains suddenly spilling forth from seas of nitrogen before fading away or turning into thick forest of strange growth or plains of multicoloured grass. The armies of the Changer of Ways assembled there, settling old scores or creating new rivalries as one by one the Greater Daemons that were princes of their kind arrived. As his generals competed, Tzeentch bestowed gifts upon his Lords of Change, ignoring the most able and rewarding the least gifted with boons that in centuries to come would lead to their fall. At the same time, the Lesser Daemons, Screamers and Horrors fled before the might of those ancient beings such as Bokor the Wildsman, Maleficos of the Burning Hands and Themiscyron the Star-Dragon. Last to arrive was old Master Darkeye and Ghargatuloth himself, for they hid amongst Mankind and tormented it invisibly. With their courts of daemons gathered around, these favoured few awaited the revelations their God would see fit to grant them.
When Tzeentch finally spoke, Thalossocres was devastated. The Chaos God stripped the planet of its crust and mantle, reducing it to a shoal of drifting continents revolving around a single fiery core like a miniature star-system. The weakest of the remaining daemons were thrown off, hurled across the Warp until only the strongest remained. To this inner circle, Tzeentch spoke of impossible things, of things that were and things yet to come, of the secret skeins that held together reality and the shifting destinies of entire species yet to be found or revealed. To the lesser of their number, those of a more bellicose nature, these concepts communicated little more than desolation and hatred and they revelled in these visions. In contrast, the mightiest generals of the Lord of Change glimpsed visions of possible futures they were to enact or to avoid, plots they would enact both within the Warp and the material realm. Some of the weakest Greater Daemons were even destroyed by the visions, unable to fully embrace or comprehend the divinations of the Changer of Ways, but a quite different fate awaited Ghargatuloth. The Prince of a Thousand Faces fully immersed himself in Tzeentch's message, bathing in the revelations that streamed from the God of Change in a raging torrent of white fire and pure information. Ghargatuloth gorged himself on his patron's knowledge as the other daemons looked on in awe, hatred and jealousy. Many hoped that Ghargatuloth would be destroyed, but Tzeentch had other plans for his favoured son. For days and days, even measured in the strange timescape of the Warp, Ghargatuloth received the revelations of Tzeentch. The strain on even his inhuman mind was so powerful that in the physical realm his body shuddered. When finally this communion ended, a thousand new faces opened their eyes and cast their gaze upon the Warp and beyond, for now Ghargatuloth was ready to enact the will of Tzeentch.
Even before heeding Tzeentch's call to gather at Thalassocre, Ghargatuloth had claimed a world for himself, the uninhabited planet of Khorion IX, deep within the unexplored regions of the Halo Zone of the Segmentum Obscurus, a region of space where even the light of the mighty Astronomican shone but dimly. For long Terran centuries, Ghargatuloth had hid there, fully corrupting the world. In the wake of the revelations he received at Thalassocres, Ghargatuloth's physical body shuddered and emitted a psychic shriek that killed every living creature on Khorion IX. The scream travelled for several light-years, reaching several inhabited star systems and worlds, revealing Ghargatuloth's existence to Mankind. Knowing that eventually humanity would seek to destroy him, the Prince of a Thousand Faces gathered his mortal and daemonic followers, readying himself for when humanity's warriors would come. And come they did.
It had taken the Ordo Malleus of the Inquisition an entire standard century of intensive investigations before they tracked Ghargatuloth to Khorion IX, a world Ghargatuloth had thoroughly made his own. The cultists and demagogues that had been venerating one of the myriad incarnations of Ghargatuloth had gathered on Khorion IX to reap the rewards of their devotion: eternal life. Ghargatuloth held true to his promise, albeit not in the form his followers intended. All across Khorion IX, the Prince of a Thousand Faces erected countless torture racks upon which his still-living followers were crucified. Screaming but alive, these cultists were the literal lifeblood of Khorion IX, their blood mingling with the wood of their racks and seeping into the earth, their perpetual screams of agony thinning the veil so that Gharghatuloth's daemonic armies could cross into the Materium. The corrupting energies of the Warp steadily fused the cultists and their surroundings together, the rows upon rows of torture racks and crucified bodies becoming a living forest that grew with each season, turning their limbs into fleshy branches and towering canopies that wailed in agony with all-too-human voices, all to please the Prince of a Thousand Faces.
When the Valour Saturnum and the Vengeful, two Strike Cruisers belonging to the Grey Knights Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes -- the Ordo Malleus' Chamber Militant -- arrived in the system, the first thing they noticed was the screaming. The agonised cries of Khorion IX's tortured souls could be heard even in orbit around that dread world, their collective pain gnawing on their attackers' resolve - or it would have, had these attackers not been tempered by cries far worse than those of mere humans. In name, the Valour Saturnum and the Vengeful were under the command of Lord Inquisitor Lakonios of the Ordo Malleus, but in truth operational authority resided with Grand Master Mandulis of the Grey Knights. The two Strike Cruisers carried an impressive force: over two hundred and fifty Grey Knights led by a triumvirate of Grand Masters of their order: Mandulis, Ganelon and Malquiant. It was the best and most powerful strikeforce the Ordo Malleus could muster, and yet despite the reputation and experience of every one of these Grand Masters, its success was far from certain.
The arrival of his opponents was the signal Ghargatuloth had awaited to call forth his armies. Khorion IX's scream of agony rose in pitch, fuelled by fear, as everywhere on the planet the earth burst into great cracks, spilling forth the daemonic legions bound to Ghargatuloth. Horrors and Flamers almost immediately turned to further torturing Ghargatuloth's mortal followers, while Screamers took to the air and nestled in the crucified forest's canopy. Amongst the throng of daemonflesh that covered the earth from horizon to horizon, the Greater Daemons marshalled their forces, trampling the crucified under their feet. Soon Khorion IX's surface was teeming like an ocean, a planet covered in daemonflesh ready to repel the Grey Knights' attack, a trap to ensnare and crush them.
Ghargatuloth was already on Khorion IX, his court having gathered on the site of an ancient burial ground where the planet's former inhabitants used to bury their dead. This was the Grey Knights' ultimate target. Given the tumultuous state of the Warp, a teleport-assault was deemed too dangerous, and so the Grey Knights took to their Drop Pods to deliver them to the battlefield. Each Grand Master would lead his own company of men and fight his way through to Ghargatuloth in order to banish the Prince of a Thousand Faces. Ideally, the three formations would link before facing Ghargatuloth, but this plan soon proved untenable. Grand Master Ganelon and his hundred-strong company landed well off the targeted mark, finding themselves surrounded at the heart of the daemonic legion with no hope to reach the objective. Fighting wave after wave of daemons, the Grey Knights knew they were doomed but would never give up the fight. Their defiance would ease the pressure on their brothers and let them finish the mission. As the Lords of Change gathered around them, Grand Master Ganelon himself intoned the sacred verses of the Prayer of Purification, readying his soul for his last journey. Grand Master Malquiant led an impressive spearhead of more than seventy Grey Knights against the horde, his fearsome Lightning Claws reaping a bloody toll on the enemy, his Terminator Squad around him. Through courage and single-minded focus, the spearhead concentrated much of the horde's attention, but the press of bodies and the broken ground made it near impossible for them to reach their target. The killing blow would have to be delivered by Grand Master Mandulis and his men, those who had landed closest to the barrows where Ghargatuloth resided. Mandulis' detachment comprised a number of Purgation Squads, whose firepower enabled Mandulis and Terminator Squad Martel to reach the barrow. Having delivered the chosen warriors to their objective, the remaining squads concentrated their fire to hold back the daemonic legion rushing to their master's aid.
Alongside Strike Squads Chemuel and Justinian, Grand Master Mandulis penetrated the enemy headquarters, the corruption there so vile that even the earth spewed forth the stone coffins of the ancient dead, coming back to unlife in a last effort to escape the terrible corruption unleashed by the Prince of a Thousand Faces. Under the great trees formed by Ghargatuloth's most eminent cult leaders, Ghargatuloth's personal guard awaited the Grey Knights -- a dozen Greater Daemons of Tzeentch, the Lords of Change. Disciplined Bolter-fire was answered by multicoloured lightning bolts before quickly devolving into hand-to-hand combat. The lesser armoured Grey Knights fared ill, cleaved in two by the great talons or wicked and strange-looking sword of the Greater Daemons, but Mandulis, Martel and their Terminators endured. Gigantic glowing hands emerged from the ground, grabbing the Grey Knights' legs, sometimes even pulling down one of the mighty Terminators, but despite their best efforts, these daemons could not stop Mandulis and Martel from reaching the Prince of a Thousand Faces. The true course of this battle is unknown, but the outcome was never in doubt -- through his sacrifice, Grand Master Mandulis ensured that Ghargatuloth was banished from realspace. For ten thousand standard years, the Grey Knights and the Ordo Malleus commemorated their great victory upon the forces of Tzeentch before realising they had only been manipulated. Their celebrated victory had actually played right into Ghargatuloth's hands.
The Trail of Saint EvisserEdit
- Gholic Ren-Sar Valinov - Former pupil of the esteemed Inquisitor Lord Barbillus, Gholic Ren-Sar Valinov was once an Inquisitor of the Ordo Malleus before Ghargatuloth sank his clutches deep into the man. Valinov was one of Ghargatuloth's most important agents in the Materium, and although Valinov committed countless atrocities in his master's name, his true purpose was quite different: the spreading of disinformation. Ever the manipulator, Ghargatuloth used Valinov to convey false information to his enemies. Valinov sought to make the Ordo Malleus and the Grey Knights believe that only an ancient relic weapon, the Sword of Mandulis, could destroy Ghargatuloth's physical body. In unearthing the sacred blade, the Grey Knights did not know that they were in fact playing into Ghargatuloth's hands. The sacrifice that would allow the Prince of a Thousand Faces to enter the material realm needed to be slain by the weapon which had first banished him, the Sword of Mandulis. Having accomplished his mission, Gholic Ren-Sar Valinov claimed his reward. He left the physical realm behind and was absorbed by his new master, becoming yet another identity for the Prince of a Thousand Faces.
- Missionary Crucien - "Crucien" was an immensely powerful and ancient Chaos psyker whose existence was uncovered by Inquisitrice Ligea in her hunt for Ghargatuloth. For ten standard millenia, Crucien had been living under different identities on the Feudal World of Sophano Secundus, masquerading as the local Missionary of the Missonaria Galaxica. In secret, he had corrupted every level of Sophano Secundus' society, turning it to the worship of Tzeentch and Ghargatuloth in particular. His true name remains a mystery.
- Grey Knights (Novel) by Ben Counter