Heritor Asphodel was a Magister of the Forces of Chaos commanded by Archon Nadzybar during the Sabbat Worlds Crusade. Asphodel was slain on the world of Verghast in the later stages of the Crusade by Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt and the troops of his Tanith First and Only Imperial Guard regiment.
Heritor Asphodel was one of the most tactically gifted Magisters serving Archon Nadzybar. Asphodel held the rank Magister within the Archon's forces but was referred to by the honourific title of Heritor, named after his sworn intention to "inherit" all Imperial worlds in the Sabbat Worlds in the name of Chaos. Asphodel showed a predilection for deploying grotesque daemonic war engines that were dubbed "Woe Machines". Some speculate that somewhere in the Magister's past, he may have had some connection to a Forge World or even to the Cult Mechanicus itself. During the second phase of the Sabbat Worlds Crusade, known as Operation Newfound, the forces of the Imperial Crusades encountered these evil war engines when they attempted to conquer the world of Ashek II in 756.M41. The Crusade's commanders soon realised the futility of sending waves of Imperial infantry troops against Asphodel's Woe Machines. Those daemon engines had been fashioned to strip and rend flesh and bone. The Imperial Guard commanders petitioned for heavier support to meet this threat, and Warmaster Slaydo responded by providing 3 brigades of armour from the Mershan 45th and 2nd Narmenian Heavy Regiments. Significant gains were only made later when nearly a full strength squadron of Battle Titans of the Collegia Titanica arrived to support the Imperial assault. Subsequent engagements lasted for three more months, but in the end, Asphodel's Woe Machines were destroyed in brutal combat. In defeat, Asphodel fled Ashek II.
The Magister's unique brand of spite was not encountered by the Imperials again until 765.M41, on the world of Balhaut, during Operation Hell Storm. Four days into the savage campaign, Warmaster Slaydo elected to personally command the Imperial assault on the Oligarchy, the site of the Archon Nadzybar's headquarters. His landing force, the second largest single Imperial army fielded during the Crusade after Lord Militant Cybon's, cut a bloody path into the heart of the enemy. Slaydo faced intense opposition from the hosts of four Magisters, including the infamous Heritor Asphodel, and the murderous Chaos Cult army of the Archon himself. The Warmaster's final assault on the Oligarchy raged for ten consecutive days. The sustained orbital bombardment had reduced the terrain to rubble, and a series of severe storms had turned the entire region into an expanse of mud lakes. Several thousand Imperial Guardsmen perished in these deplorable conditions, sucked down into the slurry of mud or slaughtered by the Archon's forces when they became mired. On day nine, Slaydo drove his left flank into the resolute Oligarchy Gate, which was commanded by Captain Allentis of the Silver Guard Space Marines Chapter, but was devastated by the return of Asphodel's murderous Woe Engines.
The Hyrkan 8th Regiment was the first Imperial unit to reach the Oligarchy Gate and breach the enemy buttress fields and blow the gateway wide open. This breakthrough was swiftly supported by the Astartes of the Silver Guard, another Imperial Guard regiment and four armoured divisions. Following an intense assault by the Hyrkanian forces the Tower of the Plutarch fell later that day. Slaydo himself finally entered the inner precincts, at the head of 8 regiments and his personal bodyguard force, prepared to face Archon Nadzybar. On the eighteenth hour of the tenth day, Slaydo's command force encountered the Archon and his elite bodyguard on the Western Palisade. The Warmaster and the vile Archon soon joined in furiously intense single combat. During the final confrontation between the two, the Warmaster was mortally wounded, but not before he was able to deliver a lethal blow to the Archon. Fortunately for the Imperial forces, most of the Archon's brutal Magisters perished during the vicious fighting on Balhaut, though there were some lamentable exceptions. Most notably, Magisters Sholen Skara and Heritor Asphodel survived to pose future threats to the Crusade forces. Realising the untenable position of the Forces of Chaos on Balhaut, Asphodel quit the planet, possibly on the fifth or sixth day of the assault on the Oligarchy, and left Nadzybar to face the Crusade forces alone. Both Asphodel and Skara would pose future threats to the Sabbat Worlds Crusade's armies. The Heritor's ultimate fate would be unknown for several years until he later revealed himself on the Hive World of Verghast.
Having fled from the Imperial wrath on Balhaut, the Heritor's forces reached Verghast in 766.M41 or 767.M41, managing to infiltrate and entirely corrupt the population of the Hive City of Ferrozoica, one of the most dominant hive cities of that world. Stoking the hatred of the Ferrozoicans against their old rivals in Vervunhive, Asphodel led them in an effort to wipe out their former rival hive in a civil war that lasted for fifty days. Using his technological savvy, the Heritor was able to take advantage of Salvador Sondar, the High Master of Vervunhive, whose mind was cybernetically wired into the Hive's cogitator systems, giving him direct control of the Hive's defences. From his spire-like command vehicle, Asphodel was able to gradually corrupt the High Master with the constant Chaotic communications chatter that engulfed Vervunhive, and ordered him to drop the hive city's gravity shields at the most critical moment. The deactivation of the shield left Vervunhive open to a vicious artillery bombardment from the waiting Ferrozoican forces, which reduced much of the rival hive to rubble.
Asphodel was eventually slain during an infiltration mission into the Heritor's massive command vehicle led by Commissar Ibram Gaunt and his men of the Tanith First and Only and Volpone Imperial Guard Regiments, and the Vervun Scratch-Companies protecting Vervunhive. Once they infiltrated the command vehicle, the Imperial Guard troops fought their way to its command bridge, where a duel between Commissar Gaunt and Heritor Asphodel ensued. Gaunt finally managed to run Asphodel through with his newly acquired Power Sword at the same time as the Heritor shot him in the heart with a well placed shot of his Bolt Pistol. However, Gaunt's life was miraculously saved by a small metal rose given to him as a gift by a member of the noble House of Chass of Vervunhive, which blocked the bullet from penetrating his heart. The Heritor's forces were subsequently annihilated by a massed flotilla of the Battlefleet Pacificus that had arrived in orbit of Verghast to break the siege.
- The Sabbat Worlds Crusade (Background Book) by Dan Abnett
- Necropolis (Novel) by Dan Abnett