The Golden Throne is a massive cybernetic life support mechanism utilising ancient advanced biomechanical technology dating to the Dark Age of Technology that also possesses the ability to greatly amplify psychic abilities. The Throne was modified by the Mechanicum under the direction of the Emperor of Mankind following the end of the Battle of Terra and now sustains His mortally crippled body's life functions. Even as the Emperor's slowly rotting physical form sits inert within the Golden Throne, His mind remains fully active in the Warp. There, He directs the beacon of the Astronomican that makes interstellar Warp travel possible in the Imperium of Man and combats the enemies of humanity within the Immaterium who would seek to breach the psychic wards around the Imperial Palace.
The Golden Throne is located on Terra, deep within the continent-spanning complex of the Imperial Palace, specifically in the area of the Asian continent where the Himalazian (Himalayan) Mountains once towered. The Golden Throne is located in a subterranean chamber at the heart of the Imperial Palace, the so-called Sanctum Imperialis or "Imperial Dungeon," built under what was once Mount Everest. It is a huge, baroque cybernetic life support system that maintains the life functions of the nearly-comatose body of the Emperor following His mortal wounding at the end of the Horus Heresy.
As the 41st Millennium drew to a close in 999.M41 during what many pessimistic Imperial historians have begun to call the Imperium's Time of Ending, the Tech-priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus discovered to their horror that the Golden Throne's mechanisms were slowly failing and that they lacked the knowledge to repair its arcane technology. Unless something is done, the Golden Throne's life support systems will eventually malfunction and the Emperor of Mankind will die, surrendering His spirit to the Warp and throwing all of Mankind into darkness once more -- or setting the stage for humanity's final salvation.
The Imperial Webway
The core of the device that would become the Golden Throne, whose exact origin during the Dark Age of Technology is currently unknown, was discovered by the Emperor sometime in the 30th Millennium during the Unification Wars on Terra, buried deep in sunken ruins under a huge and inhospitable desert on the continent of Asia. This was in the time before the construction of the Imperial Palace complex in the Himalazian (Himalayan) Mountains, although the exact date is also unknown. Another similar device likely used to test the technologies implemented in the Golden Throne, known as Dark Glass, was also discovered by the Emperor during the Great Crusade and He set about restoring it as well. The original use that the Emperor found for the Golden Throne (or of the core device that the Throne was later constructed around) was that it was a powerful psychic amplifier that could also serve as a portal into the Labyrinthine Dimension of the Webway based on Terra.
Prior to the outbreak of the Horus Heresy in the early years of the 31st Millennium, the Emperor had directed tens of thousands of Mechanicum Tech-priests and Terran labourers into modifying the Throne so it could be put into use as the nexus of His secret Imperial Webway Project. This project was intended to open up the Eldar Webway to Mankind by establishing a portal into its galaxy-spanning network from Terra. This would provide a means of instantaneous interstellar travel between the worlds of the newborn Imperium of Man, making navigation through the dangers of the Warp unnecessary and literally connecting all the worlds of Mankind instantaneously. This would create a truly unified human race as never before in history. The Emperor believed that this level of unity would be necessary if humanity was truly to thrive and prosper in such a dangerous universe.
Additionally, the ability to travel and communicate across the galaxy using the Webway instead of the Warp would allow humanity to dispose entirely of the use of psykers, including Navigators and astropaths. Humanity would no longer face the dangers of Warp entities and perilous travel through the Immaterium. The human population of the Imperium could then be treated with the devices that the Emperor was building called Occullum Test Stations. These would identify the latent psychic genes in the populace, allowing the Emperor's advanced genetic science to remove the psyker mutation and eliminate psychic powers entirely from Mankind. This would end forever the possibility of daemonic possession of weak-willed psykers and dramatically reduce the ability of Chaos to corrupt its human pawns. The Emperor believed that the Golden Throne offered His race its best chance to free itself forever from the dangers of the Ruinous Powers.
Once installed beneath the Imperial Palace in the Emperor's main laboratory called the Imperial Dungeon, the Golden Throne took the form of a bulky machine-like chair suspended over gigantic mechanised doors made of a golden alloy that served as the portal into the Imperial Webway extension. The doors were said to be large enough for a Warhound-class Scout Titan to walk through unbowed. The chair was linked to the portal by massive bundles of cables, wires and conduits. The whole contraption was made of the same golden metal and the throne was built at one end of a vast hall big enough to house five to six full companies of Space Marines. Even after the Throne's construction, the lab remained littered with other machines of unknown provenance and storage crates.
Hundreds of red-robed Mechanicum technicians and tithed labourers belonging to the Adnector Concillium worked in the dungeon. According to Pieter Achelieux, the Golden Throne would have required an extremely powerful psyker to operate and implied that one of the Primarchs may have originally been created to serve this role once the mechanism was in place so that the Emperor could attend to the duties of running the Imperium. The Emperor's deep disappointment with Magnus the Red's betrayal during the Horus Heresy and his inability to grasp the true dangers of dealing with the entities of the Warp suggests that the Thousand Sons Primarch had been intended by the Emperor to sit upon the throne in His place.
The armies of Mechanicum Tech-priests and common labourers sent through the portal below the Throne and into the Imperial Webway had constructed a new extension of the network linking Terra to the rest of the abandoned Aeldari labyrinth. Since the original Webway had been constructed using a psychically resistant material which the humans could not replicate, the Emperor used His own psychic powers, projected and amplified through the Golden Throne, to protect the human-built extension of the Webway from daemonic incursions from the Warp. Because of the sensitive nature of the project, the threat it presented to Chaos and fears of how the politically powerful Navigators of the Navis Nobilite might react when their monopoly on interstellar travel was rendered obsolete, the Emperor kept the construction of the Golden Throne and the Imperial Webway a secret from everyone. This included even His own sons, the Primarchs, and His Regent.
Seeds of Heresy
Slightly over two standard centuries into the Great Crusade, the Emperor of Mankind decided to leave the direct leadership of military affairs to His sons, the Primarchs, and returned to Terra to oversee the construction of an administrative apparatus that could fairly govern the new interstellar Imperium He had created. He also personally took up work on the modifications to the Golden Throne and the creation of the Imperial Webway in earnest. The whole project was placed under the utmost secrecy, and even the Primarchs had no idea of what exactly the Emperor was doing in the seclusion of His laboratoria deep beneath the Imperial Palace. This secrecy would personally wound many of the Primarchs and create a grievance that would later be exploited by the Dark Gods of Chaos.
Malcador the Sigillite, the Emperor's most trusted advisor, was named as the Regent of Terra and the First Lord of the governing Council of Terra who would lead it in the Emperor's absence. The Fabricator-General of the Mechanicum, Kelbor-Hal, the Chief Custodian of the Legio Custodes Constantin Valdor and the leaders of the Astra Telepathica and administrative divisions of the Imperium were appointed to the Council of Terra. Having established the new governing body of the Imperium, the Emperor then retreated to His private subterranean vaults beneath the Imperial Palace to complete His new secret project. But while the Emperor was locked away in His subterranean factories, political dissension began to foment.
In the meantime, Horus had set about his new duties as the Warmaster of the Imperium, commander-in-chief of all the military forces of the Great Crusade, with relish. But secretly, the Warmaster was dismayed that the Emperor would no longer be fighting at the side of His Astartes. The Primarchs were appalled at the news of the formation of the Council of Terra. The Emperor's staunchest followers felt they had been let down by their father. They were insulted that they had not been consulted on the formation of this new ruling body and that they had not been offered seats on the Council of Terra. Some of the more egotistical Primarchs were especially outraged. They felt that the Emperor had turned His back on them and given power to petty mortal administrators and the sycophantic Adepts of Mars. These grievances would ultimately be exploited by the Chaos Gods to turn Horus and eight of his fellow Primarchs to their service. The great interstellar civil war of the Horus Heresy, when Horus sought to overthrow and replace his father the Emperor, was the terrible result.
War Within the Webway
As the Horus Heresy erupted, after many long solar months with no contact with the Emperor, Malcador and the Imperial Fists Legion's Primarch Rogal Dorn were finally granted an audience with the Master of Mankind. The order to appear before the Emperor had been timely, coming as it did just as news had reached Terra of the disaster of the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V. The Emperor finally explained to His loyal servants about the existence of the Imperial Webway Project. This new human-controlled extension into the Webway would recreate the vast network of Warp Portals that had once bound together the ancient interstellar empires of the Old Ones and the Aeldari and would allow Mankind to advance at a more rapid rate, scientifically and economically, than at any other time in its history.
A human-dominated Webway would also truly unite the Imperium, preventing Mankind from ever again being divided by time and great distance as during the Age of Strife. It would also allow the Emperor to advance His plan to protect humanity forever from the Chaos Gods by eliminating its psykers. However, the Warp Gate the Emperor had constructed and the short section of Imperial Webway passage beyond required the constant expenditure of his psychic energy to hold back the intrusion of the Warp entities who sought its ruin.
At first this had demanded only a small portion of the Emperor's psychic might and so He was able to command His armies and do all that was expected of Him as Emperor. But the hideous monstrosities that ruled the Warp -- the self-proclaimed Chaos Gods -- had ever been His foes, and now conspired to subvert the Emperor's goals as they had since the day He had launched the Great Crusade.
To this end they had tempted the naive Magnus the Red with a vision intended to warn Him of the very plot they had initiated against the Emperor, the betrayal of the Imperium by Horus. Magnus had sent his psychic warning by means of a powerful sorcerous ritual and this sending had wreaked havoc upon the protective psychic shielding surrounding the Emperor's fragile Webway construct. The spell of Magnus not only allowed the foul denizens of the Warp entry to the section of the Imperial Webway the Emperor's secret army of Adepts and Tech-priests had by then constructed, it destroyed the delicate shields the Emperor had set in place.
Daemons poured into the human-built portion of the Webway and slaughtered the thousands of Mechanicum workers present there. The Legio Custodes and Sisters of Silence were left fighting a desperate battle to prevent the daemons from reaching the portal and breaching Terra itself.
This so-called War Within the Webway proved a defeat for the forces of the Emperor after Magnus' sending destroyed the psychic shielding the Emperor had painstakingly set in place. Even though at first the army of the Legio Custodes and their supporters, the Silent Sisterhood, had managed to push back the daemonic invaders, they continued to take many casualties. The Imperial forces had never had the advantage of numbers and each death weakened them, whereas the daemons appeared to have a numberless horde at their disposal. Despite thousands of daemons and their allies having been destroyed or banished back into the Warp, there were always thousands more to take their place. As the battle within wore on, the daemons began to gain the advantage. Their assaults regularly reached deep into the Imperial defences -- more than once approaching dangerously close to the human-built conduit that led to the Warp Gate of the Golden Throne. On one occasion a mighty Bloodthirster, greatest of the daemons of Khorne, fought its way through the Imperial defenders to the gate itself, and only the last minute intervention of Sister Celia Harroda of the Sisters of Silence was able to stop the beast from crashing through the Warp Gate and into the dungeons of the Imperial Palace.
Sister Celia confronted the huge daemon, her presence chilling the air around it and stifling its otherworldly power, and silently she dispatched the monster with swift strokes from her blade of frost. The effort utterly exhausted her and with the final, banishing stroke of her sword she collapsed upon the threshold between the Warp and Terra's realspace, never to breathe again. The death of Sister Celia was but one of many acts of brave sacrifice by the loyal warriors of the Emperor within the Terran extension of the Webway.
Eventually, after many long solar days of bloody battle, these deaths took their toll and the defenders were forced to draw back to within sight of the Golden Throne. Here they were bolstered by the psychic presence of the Emperor who appeared as a brightly burning star to those within the alien conduits. The Emperor drew on His vast reserves of psychic power and His star burned ever brighter; the daemons, unwilling to approach the shining nimbus, were held back. The star of the Emperor gave the defenders respite enough that many were able to cross through the portal and retreat into the Imperial Palace.
At first, all of the Tech-priests and workers of the Adnector Concillium were evacuated and then, reluctantly, the Silent Sisterhood and the Custodian Guard withdrew from the battle and into the Palace dungeons. The gate would remain closed to the daemons for as long as the Emperor was able to power it from His arcane technological throne atop the golden portal. Only the mightiest of psykers had enough power to do this and even then most would be exhausted and fail in a short time. Only the Emperor had the might to keep the gate closed permanently and even for Him the effort grew more difficult as the daemonic forces gathered about Him.
Thus, in the wake of the War Within the Webway, as long as the daemon horde threatened to breach the portal, the Golden Throne would be the Emperor's prison. The portal was closed but only the psychic power of the Emperor was enough to keep it sealed and He was forced to remain on the Golden Throne or find a suitable replacement who possessed the psychic power to maintain the shields against daemonic intrusion. Without such a psyker of sufficient ability using virtually all of his power and mental concentration to keep the Warp portal sealed, a permanent doorway would be ripped open between Terra and the Warp, flooding the homeworld of Mankind with the daemonic legions of the Ruinous Powers.
Later the Primarch Vulkan would come to the Sanctum Imperialis, where with the Emperor's guidance he installed the Talisman of Seven Hammers. This device acts as a dead man's switch which would destroy not only the Imperial Palace but also all of Terra should the Golden Throne fail. This would deny the Forces of Chaos from ever taking the Throneworld and poisoning the very heart of the human Imperium.
Apparently, the core of the Golden Throne device survived the disaster caused by Magnus' intrusion, or was repaired following the catastrophe by the Mechanicum's Adepts, but the Emperor's Imperial Webway Project lay in uncompleted ruins, and before the project could be restarted, the Horus Heresy erupted and the Forces of Chaos laid siege to Terra itself.
- "Behold the greatest sacrifice of our age! Malcador is Sigillite no more. Henceforth he shall always and only ever be Malcador the Hero!"
As Horus' forces began their final assault on the Sol System and the Battle of Terra began nine standard years after the Traitors had first turned upon the servants of the Emperor at Istvaan III, the Sigillite returned from his mission to recruit the first twelve members of what would later be named as the Imperial Inquisition. Only through the most artful of psychic subterfuge were Malcador and his new recruits able to pass unscathed through the battlelines and come unharmed and unseen before the Emperor within the inner sanctum of the Imperial Palace. Malcador had finally received the call and was now prepared to perform his final duty for the man he had followed for the greater part of his life.
Timing was crucial, for Horus knew that several more Loyalist Legions were en route to beleaguered Terra, and he wanted to finish affairs before they arrived. He could only do this by confronting the Emperor in person. This would force the Warmaster to act rashly, against the counsel of his closest advisors. The Emperor had to be ready to take advantage of this mistake. The Emperor informed Malcador that the Sigillite had to take His place upon the Golden Throne while he moved to confront Horus. The Emperor's original choice for His replacement on the artefact had been the Primarch Magnus the Red, but since Magnus and his Thousand Sons Legion had sided with Horus and the Chaos God Tzeentch, Malcador was now His chosen successor and the only remaining human psyker with enough strength to carry out the duty of protecting the Throneworld from the daemonic horde that lay beyond the portal into the Imperial Webway.
In the days before the final confrontation between the Emperor and Horus aboard his flagship the Vengeful Spirit, the Emperor had ordered Malcador to summon "...men of character, skill and determination" who would be tested and trained to become the elite group of investigators intended to root out treachery across the Imperium in the centuries to come to prevent any event like the Heresy from occurring again. The Emperor also told Malcador to prepare himself for the dreadful sacrifice that he would be called upon to make.
Ever loyal, the Sigillite was more than willing to sacrifice himself for his Emperor. But before he ascended to take his place upon the Throne, the Sigillite had one last duty to perform. He was accompanied by a group of twelve hooded attendants. In stern silence the Emperor surveyed the robed figures that Malcador had brought before Him, and He saw that His faithful servant had done well.
Of the twelve, four were mortal lords and administrators of the Imperium possessed of an inquisitive nature and unyielding strength of mind. The other eight were Space Marines whose abilities were as peerless as their dedication to the Emperor. Some hailed from Legions that had abandoned the Emperor's light in favour of Horus' dark promises, but these Battle-Brothers had never lost their loyalty and had fought the Heresy from within.
Fulsome in his approval of the selection, Malcador the Sigillite then ascended to the Golden Throne, replacing the Emperor who now stood before the edifice with His loyal Primarchs Rogal Dorn and Sanguinius. Malcador could not speak, such was the concentration he had to bring to bear in order to control the tempestous forces at his call. The task of keeping the daemons out of the Imperial Palace had been daunting even for the Emperor, the most powerful human psyker ever to live, with millennia of experience to call upon. Though he was a powerful psyker in his own right, Malcador was still a mere human, his mental powers nothing compared to that of the Emperor, and this task proved overwhelming, consuming him body and soul in a matter of only solar hours.
The Emperor's Ascension
- "Friend Khan, the Emperor is in peril still. Alone against the Arch-Traitor Horus did he battle and though he triumphed over him, now lies close to death. We must get him to the Golden Throne - 'tis the only device that can save him."
At the height of the Battle of Terra, Horus lowered the Void Shields of his flagship, the Vengeful Spirit, as a personal challenge to the Emperor. The Emperor of Mankind rose to the challenge, leading members of His elite personal guard, the Legio Custodes, the Primarchs Sanguinius and Rogal Dorn, and several companies of Imperial Fists and Blood Angels Veteran Space Marines in the assault and teleported aboard the Vengeful Spirit. Horus used his Chaotic powers to scatter the Emperor's force throughout the massive warship when they teleported up through the Warp. Each fought a series of battles against the elite Forces of Chaos aboard the corrupted starship, attempting to link up with their comrades and confront Horus. Eventually, after what seemed like an age of fighting, the attacks upon the Loyalist forces ceased and the ship was still. Rogal Dorn and the last few remaining Loyalist survivors rushed to the command centre, the great chamber within which the Emperor and Horus had fought, and despair overcame them.
When Rogal Dorn brought the mortally injured ruler of Mankind back to the Golden Throne after he had defeated Horus, Dorn found Malcador sitting wasted, psychic energy lashing across his shriveled body, tortured by the psychic bombardments of the collapsing Imperial Webway. He was almost dead when the Tech-priests made the exchange -- disengaging Malcador from the strange machine even as they moved to modify it to support the Emperor's crippled life functions indefinitely. As Malcador was removed from the device, the last flicker of life left him and the dust of his corpse blew across the stone floor. Yet Malcador managed to prove one final time his loyalty and love for the Emperor, for despite his ordeal and agony, he still managed to gather what remained of his wasted power, and willingly forsook it to feed the Emperor and allow his master to survive.
Malcador's final sacrifice allowed the Emperor to awake from His coma briefly and give His servants -- including the Primarchs Rogal Dorn and Jaghatai Khan, their final orders before being interned silently for the next 10,000 standard years within the modified life support systems of the Golden Throne:
"Poor, brave Malcador the Hero. He reserved a fragment of his strength for me. It gives me little time to pass final orders to you. If you do as I ask then I shall not wholly die, my spirit at least will survive. My injuries are severe, more so than I had hoped but less than I feared. My psychic powers will return to me in time but my body will never heal. I shall never walk amongst you again. I am now bound to this machine for all time. My faithful bodyguard and attendants know what is required. You must do as they request!
"Dorn and Jaghatai, you have much work to do. Though the head of the serpent has been destroyed its coils still choke the safety of Mankind. You and your loyal brothers must fight on. Cleanse the taint of treachery from our stars. Never again must we allow the Ruinous Powers of Chaos to have such a chance. Now all of you go! You know your duties. Execute them well. The universe has many horrors yet to throw at us. This is not the end of our struggle. This is just the beginning of our crusade to save Humanity. Be faithful! Be strong! Be vigilant!"
With this final proclamation, the Emperor spoke no more, a silence that was to last for the next ten thousand Terran years.
From the Golden Throne the Emperor would maintain the psychic beacon of the Astronomican as a replacement for the now-lost Imperial Webway project and do His best to shield Humanity --particularly Terra -- from the worst terrors of the Immaterium. Through the sacrifice of Malcador, Mankind would live on, and its people would face the growing darkness of the Age of the Imperium that was about to dawn with a single chant upon their lips -- the Emperor protects.
The Golden Throne Hungers
By 989.M36, as the Eye of Terror and other Warp rifts visibly expanded, the Tech-priests that serviced the Golden Throne demanded an increase in the number of psykers needed to fuel the Emperor's growing appetite. The Black Ships increased in number and frequency of their harrowing voyages. According to some records, today four times the number of psykers are sacrificed daily to maintain optimal levels of power to the Golden Throne and the Astronomican as were originally required in the days immediately after the Emperor's Ascension.
In the 41st Millennium
Following the Emperor's mortal wounding by the Warmaster Horus at the end of the Horus Heresy, His ravaged body was placed within the Golden Throne, after further rapid modifications accomplished at the direction of Rogal Dorn in order to prevent His death. Acting as a complex life support machine, the Golden Throne now holds the dessicated and slowly decaying body of the Emperor in stasis, and preserves His mind and will, which originates and guides the psychic beacon that is the Astronomican within the Warp. He is also said to constantly struggle to keep the forces of the Ruinous Powers of Chaos at bay so that humanity can flourish even to the extent that it has in the galaxy.
It is not known whether the Emperor's ability to protect individual human beings from the powers of Chaos is related to the destroyed Terran portal into the Imperial Webway or to the arcane device at the heart of the Golden Throne itself. It may instead be that like the Chaos Powers themselves, who were created and given form in the Warp through the collective psychic beliefs and fears of humanity and the other sentient races of the galaxy, humanity's collective faith in the Emperor has empowered His spirit within the Warp. It also allows this power to be drawn on by those people whose faith in the Master of Mankind as a divine being is unusually strong.
The Golden Throne is seen by a very rare few of the Emperor's servants. In fact, the majority of the people who see the Golden Throne are either about to have their life force absorbed into the machine's mechanisms, or are the elite core of the Adeptus Custodes, the Emperor's Companions and bodyguards. The Custodes are bio-engineered transhuman warriors like the Space Marines, but their bodies have been altered to a much greater extent and these warriors are even more powerful than the average Astartes. As the Emperor's personal guards, the Custodes protect His revered but decaying body.
The Astronomican requires the sacrifice of large numbers of psykers daily for it to continue to function, and also for the Emperor to be kept alive on the Golden Throne. The Throne is maintained by members of the Adeptus Mechanicus, although as time passes the duty becomes increasingly difficult.
It was revealed in the time after the end of the 13th Black Crusade on 986.999.M41 that many mechanisms of the Golden Throne have developed technological failures beyond the current ability of the Tech-priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus to repair. Because of this, it seems possible that the Emperor's body will die at some time in the near future. Depending on the many myths and fevered predictions that have come to dominate the Imperium's "Time of Ending," this unwelcome event will either destroy or actually save the Imperium of Man, and the galaxy as a whole, from the inevitable destruction brought by Chaos.
With the discovery of the Golden Throne's deteriorating state, a dozen contingency expeditions have been launched by the Cult Mechanicus, including a Xanthite war procession of the Inquisition sent through the Exhubris Portal into the Webway. The Xanthites fought through Harlequin troupes and daemon hordes alike before reaching their intended destination. In the grave-cold oubliettes of the Haemonculi beneath the Drukhari city of Commorragh, a sinister bargain was struck.
Not long after the birth of the Great Rift, perceiving the dangerous ignorance of the Mechanicus as a manifest threat to the Emperor's safety -- and thus falling beneath the purview of the Adeptus Custodes -- Shield-Captain Heraclast Vadrian consulted with Captain-General Trajann Valoris, the Chief Custodian, and received permission to seek a solution to the failing mechanisms of the Golden Throne. He gathered a band of his finest warriors aboard the Cruiser Scion of Argo, and set off following a lead that pointed to the lost Forge World of Morvane.
- Codex: Adeptus Custodes (8th Edition), pg. 32
- Codex: Cult Mechanicus (7th Edition), pp. 39-40
- Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition), pg. 135
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), "The Far Future," IX, pp. 134, 137-139, 158, 160, 165, 168-170, 225, 234, 403
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (5th Edition), pp. 101, 129
- The Horus Heresy: Collected Visions (Artbook), pp. 322-328, 350-351, 359, 367
- White Dwarf 342 (UK) (July 2008), pg. 15
- A Thousand Sons (Novel) by Graham McNeill, Ch. 25
- Deliverance Lost (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- The Path of Heaven (Novel) by Chris Wraight, Ch. 22
- Master of Mankind (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Warhammer 40,000: Relic - Halls of Terra Expansion (Board Game) (Golden Throne Picture)