Kor Phaeron was the First Captain of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion and the Primarch Lorgar's spiritual counsel and foster father during the years of Lorgar's youth on the Word Bearers' homeworld of Colchis, before Lorgar was rediscovered by the Imperium. It was Kor Phaeron's influence that corrupted his Primarch and the Astartes of the XVII Legion into repudiating their oaths to the Emperor of Mankind and becoming willing pawns of Chaos. After the Word Bearers' fall to the service of the Ruinous Powers, Kor Phaeron became the Black Cardinal of the Word Bearers and one of the primary leaders of the Legion's ruling Dark Council, alongside his ancient rival, the Dark Apostle Erebus.
When the Primarchs were spirited away from the Emperor's hidden gene-laboratories on Terra through the Warp by the power of Chaos and scattered across the galaxy, Lorgar found himself cast to the world of Colchis. Following the end of the Age of Strife, a caste of priests calling themselves the Covenant helped rebuild their shattered society on the premise that a great messianic leader would one day come to deliver them from the darkness that had consumed their world. The Covenant's strict dogma was harsh, but a monolithic belief structure soon formed that permeated every facet of daily life.
Legends speak of a fiery comet smashing into the foremost temple of the Covenant which was the gestation capsule bearing the infant Primarch, whilst another tale tells of the arrival of a strange, golden-skinned child at the doors of the Covenant's largest temple, requesting to be schooled in their ways. It was Kor Phaeron, one of the Covenant's numerous priests, who helped shape the growing demigod in ways his true father, the Emperor, had not. The young Primarch came to value Phaeron's counsel above all others. When visions of the Emperor's imminent arrival on Colchis plagued the young Primarch, it was Kor Phaeron who pressed him to take his prophecies to the people. Soon the Covenant split into two factions, each deeply opposed to the others' beliefs. A holy war of horrific proportions soon erupted across the face of the world. Lorgar and Phaeron stood together through six years of sacrifice and revolution, through the holy wars that threatened to tear Colchis apart before it was reunited under the benevolent theocratic rule of Lorgar.
When the Emperor of Mankind finally came to Colchis, alongside an Expeditionary Fleet of the Great Crusade, to offer Lorgar command of the XVII Space Marine Legion (at that time known as the "Imperial Heralds") as had been foreseen in Lorgar's visions, Kor Phaeron had been far too old to receive the gene-seed organ implantations and prepubescent genetic manipulations necessary to grow into one of the Astartes. Instead, through rejuvenat surgery, the surgical insertion of costly bionics and limited gene-forging, Kor Phaeron was exalted above humanity as a sign of the value placed in him by his Primarch and was granted the rank of First Captain within the Legion. Many within the renamed Word Bearers Legion came to hate the First Captain, and believed him to be a false Asartes who was impure, a pinnacle of genetic compromise. Despite having become far more than human, Kor Phaeron had not ascended to the ranks of the true Astartes. But nevertheless, Kor Phaeron was considered first amongst Lorgar's followers and served as both the Primarch's second-in-command and the Captain of the elite 1st Company of the Word Bearer's Legion. Even in a Legion defined by its religious zealotry, Kor Phaeron stood out. Phaeron led the warriors under his command with a ferocity unmatched by any of their fellow brethren. Since Kor Phaeron also served as a Chaplain for the Legion, he advanced quickly through the ranks of the Word Bearers' Reclusiam, assimilating the holy words of their Primarch which were to be brought to all of the peoples brought back into the God-Emperor's fold in the course of the Great Crusade.
Day of JudgementEdit
Lorgar led his Legion throughout the glory years of the Great Crusade, setting out to eradicate and destroy all forms of blasphemy and heresy that threatened the Emperor's realm. The Word Bearers erected vast monuments and cathedrals dedicated to the worship of the God-Emperor whose divinity Lorgar had foreseen upon Colchis. The greatest Chaplains of the Legion preached to the conquered worlds of the Emperor's divinity. Lorgar himself delivered countless speeches and sermons, converting millions to the Emperor with his words alone. The Primarch penned the Lectitio Divinitatus, his magnum opus, which argued persuasively that the Emperor of Mankind was a divine being and worthy of the worship of the human race as their One True God, a direct contravention of the Emperor's own atheistic Imperial Truth. This holy text spawned a loyal cult following that would later give rise to the Imperial Cult and the Adeptus Ministorum itself in the centuries after the Emperor was interred within the Golden Throne following the Horus Heresy.
The progress of the Word Bearers during the Great Crusade was thorough, but slow. None escaped the Crozius or the Bolter. Entire worlds were scoured of the living for their refusal to submit to the divine will of the Emperor. Never once, in over a Terran century of faithful service, had the Emperor chastised Lorgar for his Legion's zealous idolatry, though it went against the dictates of the Imperial Truth. Yet the Emperor increasingly took note of Lorgar's apparent lack of progress during the Great Crusade, and knew that the reason was that Lorgar was spending time spreading his illegal religion to every world his Legion conquered or brought into Imperial Compliance.
The Emperor finally brought his unfettered wrath down upon the Word Bearers, and ordered the XIII Legion, the Ultramarines, to destroy the great city of Monarchia on the world of Khur, a planet brought into Imperial Compliance only six decades earlier by the Word Bearers Legion. Monarchia stood as a testament to the Word Bearers' faith in the God-Emperor, a faith that stood against everything that the Imperium had sought to stand for since the Great Crusade had begun. The Ultramarines obeyed, and gave the population of Monarchia six days to evacuate the city. At the appointed time, the Ultramarines carried out their orders and utterly destroyed the "Perfect City" and its monuments to religious faith with an orbital barrage, sending a message to Lorgar and his Legion that the worship of the Emperor as a God and the spreading of such idolatry was in direct violation of the Imperial Truth, and would not be tolerated.
A Legion RebukedEdit
On the ashen plains of the destroyed city the entirety of the XVII Legion, 100,000 Astartes in all, was gathered for a formal reprimand by the Master of Mankind following the destruction of Monarchia. The Emperor's representatives, Malcador the Sigillite and the Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman, presented themselves before the bewildered Word Bearers and their Primarch to give an explanation for Monarchia's destruction. Though Malcador attempted to reason with the Aurelian, the Word Bearers' Primarch refused to listen to him, striking the elderly representative of the Master of Mankind to the ground. Guilliman interposed himself between Malcador and his brother Primarch.
The Emperor himself intervened, teleporting to the planet's surface, surrounded by a contingent of Legio Custodes. The Emperor then psychically forced the entirety of the Aurelian's Legion of 100,000 Astartes to kneel in obeisance, in the dust of their once perfect city, rendered prone by the Emperor's very will. He then ordered Lorgar to kneel before him. Adding insult to his wounded pride, Lorgar watched as the Ultramarines rose to their feet at Guilliman's command. One Legion's warriors stood in the Emperor's presence with a Primarch's blessing, while another was on his knees in the bones of his dead city. This action was not lost on Lorgar, for it had been mimicked by his Legion on numerous worlds where they had achieved Compliance when the entire conquered population had kneeled in prayer to the God-Emperor and his "angels" from the sky. It was also a parody of the Legion's own Rite of Remembrance, a time to recall the sacrifices of lost Battle-Brothers and to reflect upon one's place in the Word.
The Emperor reminded his wayward son that he had been created to act as a general for the armies of Mankind, not as a high priest. He had been created for war and conquest, to reunite the human race under the aegis of truth, not worship and religious superstition. To do otherwise was to make a mockery of the Imperial Truth. But Lorgar railed against his father, insisting that it was the Emperor who was being untrue to himself, denying his own divinity and true nature. He argued that only the truly divine would deny their own divinity. With his immense power and wisdom, the Emperor was a God in all but name. All that remained was for him to confess it as the truth for his trillions of waiting believer across the galaxy. The Emperor calmly denied Lorgar's misguided beliefs about his "divinity," for the Emperor was forging not a theocracy but a galaxy-spanning empire of reason and truth. There was no place for faith or priests within this new order, though Lorgar stubbornly insisted that Mankind needed more than reason to thrive -- he needed faith in something larger than himself.
After rebuking his son, the Emperor looked upon the Word Bearers and chastised them, accusing them of failure to live up to the Imperium's ideals and to carry out their mission. Though the Word Bearers numbered amongst their ranks more Astartes than any other Legion save for the Ultramarines, their conquests were the slowest, and their victories rang hollow. They lingered too long on Compliant worlds, driving the populace into the worship of a false god and erecting monuments to the lies of religious superstition. All they had done in the Great Crusade had been for naught. While other Legions continued to succeed and bring prosperity and truth to the Imperium's expanding population, the Word Bearers alone had failed in the purpose for which they had been created. The Emperor exhorted them to do better.
The Old WaysEdit
Upon returning to his personal Battleship, the Fidelitas Lex, after the terrible rebuke on Khur, the Primarch retreated into his shipboard quarters for a month and refused to speak to anyone, except Kor Phaeron and the Legion's First Chaplain Erebus. Lorgar mourned the Emperor's command for a month. Removing his Power Armour, he wore nothing but a sackcloth, his golden skin smeared with the dust from Monarchia's surface over his features with each new day. His kohl-ringed eyes were darkened further by exhaustion and narrowed by the burden of shame.
In the meantime, the 47th Expeditionary Fleet of the Word Bearers sat idly by, orbiting the world of 47-16 (the sixteenth world to be brought into Imperial Compliance by the 47th Expedition), awaiting for a command, any command, to be issued from their Primarch. As the Word Bearers sat becalmed in deep space, following the Emperor`s rebuke of Lorgar's slow advance, it was Kor Phaeron who first gave voice to the idea that if the Emperor would not accept their worship, there were other beings in the galaxy who would. Kor Phaeron and Erebus sympathised with Lorgar's unrequited religious longings, and felt that the Word Bearers Legion should serve gods truly worthy of their worship. Kor Phaeron understood Lorgar's need for acceptance by a divine power and he knew that the powers of Chaos turned no-one away. Kor Phaeron's quest for power had long ago led him to Chaos through the Old Faith of Colchis, which had been a religion dedicated to the different aspects of the Chaos Gods before Lorgar's coming had unleashed a new faith upon the Colchisian people. As Lorgar brooded over the Emperor's reproach, Kor Phaeron worked subtle manipulations and whispered appeals to Lorgar's pride alongside Erebus, who had already been corrupted by Chaos also, slowly poisoning the Primarch against his father and the Imperium he led. Thus the seeds of the Horus Heresy were first sown amongst the Word Bearers. Intrigued, Lorgar demanded that the Legion find these gods, and Kor Phaeron and Erebus, both of whom had been secret devotees of Chaos for decades, proposed a sacred journey, later known as the Pilgrimage of Lorgar.
Hearing of Lorgar's inaction, the Master of Mankind was on the verge of once again reprimanding his tardy son, when news reached him that the Word Bearers had suddenly renewed their campaign with great vigour. Instead of Imperial Compliance, the embittered Lorgar only offered the doomed populace of 47-16 the sword, and in his wrath untold numbers of atrocities were committed. Pleased with what appeared in initial reports as progress, the Emperor focused on the other matters at hand.
Kor Phaeron became the Master of the Faith for the Word Bearers after their secret conversion to the service of Chaos and began the process of corrupting the entire Word Bearers Legion. With Lorgar finally embracing the worship of Chaos with enthusiasm following his Pilgrimage, it was not long before the Word Bearers were wholly dedicated to the Ruinous Powers. As before, Kor Phaeron served as Lorgar's principal spiritual adviser and led contingents of the Word Bearers in some of the most devastating battles of the Horus Heresy. Kor Phaeron was eventually defeated by the Ultramarines Legion at the Battle of Calth and was forced to flee to the Word Bearers' base on the Daemon World of Ghalmek in the Warp Rift known as the Maelstrom.
Though the XVII Legion achieved a monumental victory of sorts at Calth, it was all a matter of perspective. Piercing the veil of the Warp, Lorgar had heard the whisperings of the Chaos Gods and had witnessed the truth for himself. Yes, Erebus had successfully conjured the massive Warp Storm known as the Ruinstorm at Calth. But ultimately, Erebus and Kor Phaeron had failed to achieve their overall objectives: the Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman was still alive, the Word Bearers had lost half the fleet they had deployed at Calth to an Ultramarines counter-attack, and tens of thousands of Word Beaers, including the elite daemon-possessed Gal Vorbak and many thousands of the XVII Legion's mortal servants and the Faithful of the Chaos Gods, had been abandoned to a useless subterranean war beneath Calth's irradiated surface while the two Word Bearers commanders had fled. Though Lorgar was somewhat displeased, the base level of success required for the larger movement against the Loyalist forces of the Emperor by the Traitors under Horus had more or less been achieved; the Ruinstorm had been conjured and the rogue elements of the Word Bearers who were the least likely to adhere to Lorgar's vision of the future had been culled.
The inevitable conclusion of the dark events of the galactic civil war finally played out with the death of Horus at the hands of the Emperor aboard his Battle Barge Vengeful Spirit during the Battle of Terra that ended the Horus Heresy. Following Horus' defeat, the remnants of the 9 Traitor Legions fled, along with the other Traitor Imperial forces that now served Chaos, into the Eye of Terror, an area of the galaxy where the Warp bled into realspace, creating a permanent Warp Storm. From the Daemon World of Sicarus, the Word Bearers Legion orchestrates the vast corruption from within that the Imperium suffers at the hands of the various Chaos Cults and witches' covens that Kor Phaeron and his fellow Dark Apostles sponsor across the galaxy.
Eventually, the atrocities committed by the Word Bearers allowed for Lorgar's ascension to daemonhood, becoming the equal of a god in the eyes of his Legion. It is said his birth scream as a Daemon Prince of Chaos Undivided echoed across the Immaterium with triumphant vindication, his faith and devotion to Chaos rewarded with immortality and unbridled power. He has since isolated himself within the Templum Inficio on Sicarus where he has remained for thousands of standard years, forbidding anyone to interrupt his meditation, thus allowing the Word Bearers to be taken over by a Dark Council of the Word Bearers' most powerful Dark Apostles. From the two primary bases of the XVII Legion in the galaxy, Sicarus and the factory-world of Ghalmek which is located within the Maelstrom, the Word Bearers launch twisted Wars of Faith against the Imperium in the name of the Dark Gods. These conflicts' purpose is to "enlighten" humanity by replacing its worship of the Corpse Emperor with that of the only true divinities of the universe. That this requires the death of billions of people is a price that the Word Bearers are willing to pay to bring the truth first sought by Lorgar Aurelian to the rest of the galaxy.
Since the Heresy and in the absence of Lorgar as a force in the XVII Legion, as he pursues communion with the Chaos Gods, Kor Phaeron has often engaged in a power struggle with First Chaplain Erebus for control over the direction of the Legion. Concerned that Erebus has too much sway over the Dark Council and that he is leading the Legion down a self-destructive path, Phaeron tried to organise the secretive cabal within the Word Bearers Legion known as the The Brotherhood to remove Erebus from power, but the Dark Apostle was tipped off about the attempted coup by the Dark Apostle Marduk. Kor Phaeron then renounced all ties to The Brotherhood and kept his position of leadership within the Legion, but the animosity and distrust between the Black Cardinal and Erebus has only intensified.
Kor Phaeron's whereabouts are currently unknown, but the multitudes of Chaos Cults and uprisings around the Maelstrom lead many to believe that Kor Phaeron may have survived the Horus Heresy, and continues to spread the faith and message of Chaos Undivided to the present day.
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions
- Index Astartes IV "Dark Apostles - The Word Bearers Space Marine Legion", pg. 14
- The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Tales of Heresy (Anthology), "Scions of the Storm" by Anthony Reynolds, pp. 159-209
- Know No Fear (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Forge World - The Horus Heresy Character Series: Kor Phaeron & Erebus