Malcador the Sigillite, also known as Malcador the Hero by decree of the Emperor of Mankind, was the First Lord of Terra, who served as essentially the Emperor's Regent when he was away from Terra during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy eras. His title of "Sigillite", meaning "seal-bearer" in an ancient Terran language, was a measure of the esteem and trust the Emperor had in Malcador, for he was empowered to speak and act in the Emperor's stead with the Emperor's full authority wherever he went. An extremely powerful psyker who could communicate over long, interstellar distances, he was also a close advisor to the Emperor during the Unification Wars of Terra, and the man credited with founding both the Adeptus Administratum of Terra and the Officio Assassinorum, as well as laying the foundations of the organisations that would become the Imperial Inquisition and the Grey Knights. He also secretly served as the first Grand Master of Assassins of the Officio Assassinorum.
Malcador is also noted for having given the Chaplain Edict at the Council of Nikaea during the Great Crusade, which created a new group of Space Marines, the Chaplains, who would maintain the order and discipline of their fellow Astartes Legions. The Chaplains were intended to keep watch for deviations from the Imperial Truth and the use of psychic powers which had been banned by the edicts of the Council of Nikaea. The former violations were to be dealt with summarily, the latter to be referred to the affected Legion's Librarium.
During the conquest of Terra in the 30th Millennium, the Emperor gathered about him trusted lieutenants and gave them tasks and duties befitting men of status. Most of these servants were drawn from the ranks of the Terran nobility and the Space Marine Legions. Malcador was an exception, for he was not a warrior but a man of learning with the bearing of a priest. From the early years of the Wars of Unification he was ever-present at the Emperor's side. His origins were unknown to all save perhaps the Emperor Himself. He wore the hooded robes of a simple Terran administrator. Blessed with unnaturally long life there were many rumours about the true nature of this enigmatic figure. Some say he was a psyker, the first to have undergone the Soul-Binding ritual. Other rumours say that he was distantly related to the Emperor.
Whatever the truth, Malcador was always considered to be a man possessed of the greatest wisdom and was held in special regard, for he had earned his place alongside the superhuman Primarchs as an adviser to the Emperor. Malcador was eventually appointed to administer the Emperor's Imperial Palace and through it he managed the administration of the newly conquered Terra. As the Great Crusade progressed, Malcador's power and influence grew as he became overseer of the Imperial Tithe and the chief of the newborn Council of Terra and its related Administratum.
His opinions held the force of law for many and his words helped many of the galaxy's greatest heroes. Malcador had great respect for human history and he had a wide foundation of knowledge on the subject. His greatest possessions were ancient paintings: the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci and Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh. He displayed these ancient treasures in his personal chambers.
Malcador, First Lord of Terra
As the Great Crusade drew to a close in the early 31st Millennium, the Imperium had achieved its greatest victory yet during the Ullanor Crusade against a massive Ork empire. After Ullanor was restored to Imperial rule, the Emperor held a great triumph to recognise this highpoint of the Great Crusade and to honour all the warriors of the Imperium, mortal and Astartes alike, for their valour. The glory of this triumphant spectacle as so many of the Imperium's scattered military forces gathered in one place for the first time in centuries was to remain in the mind of every Astartes as the high-point of the great endeavour they were engaged upon. It would prove to be a bright memory to recall in the dark days of the Horus Heresy after Astartes had turned against Astartes and Primarch against Primarch. During this triumph the Emperor proclaimed that his most beloved son Horus was to be the Imperial Warmaster and the new supreme commander of the Great Crusade while he announced his own intention to return to Terra to pursue a secret project intended to benefit all Mankind.
After the Emperor's declaration, he returned to Terra and the Imperial Palace. The Emperor had much work to do, the exact nature of which he was unwilling to discuss with Horus, the Primarchs or any of his other generals. He drew to him certain advisors, chief among them Malcador the Sigillite and the Fabricator-General of Mars, and issued them new commands. The Emperor convened the first Council of Terra. Unlike the War Council, of which Horus was now leader, the Council of Terra would attend to the matters of state and the establishment and maintenance of Imperial law across the myriad worlds of the Imperium. In particular, the Council of Terra was to administrate the Imperial Tithe. Under its auspices would fall all the civil government of the Imperium.
Malcador, the Emperor's most trusted advisor, was named as the First Lord of the Council and would lead it in the Emperor's absence. The Fabricator-General, Chief Custodian of the Legio Custodes Constantin Vaz and the leaders of the astropaths and administrative divisions of the Imperium were appointed to the Council. Having established the new governing body of the Imperium, the Emperor then retreated to his private subterranean vaults beneath the Palace to initiate 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 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 this new council. Some of the more egotistical Primarchs were 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.
Seeds of Heresy
Horus felt slighted when the Emperor retreated to Terra to work in his laboratories and dungeons rather than continuing what he felt was the more important work of the Great Crusade. As worthy as the honour of being named Imperial Warmaster was, it was nothing compared to the sense of loss Horus felt as his father abandoned him. He had done his best since then to carry on the fight and lead the glorious Crusade. But many Astartes had died and not once had the Emperor cared enough to honour them with his presence. As news filtered from Terra of the Emperor's latest pronouncements, Horus became ever more estranged from the man he thought of as his father. More and more he thought only of his mission to complete the conquest of the galaxy and bring even more glory to his Space Marine Legions.
The Warmaster joined his XVI Legion, the Sons of Horus, on the moon of Davin. The Legion had some ties to the primitive warrior-society of Davin from their previous conquest of the world decades before and it was at the request of the Davinite priests that the moon had been targeted. Cleansing the moon of its plague-worshipping cultists was a simple task for the Legion, but Horus was felled by an assassin's blade, the Kinebrach Anathame, wielded by the Nurgle-corrupted former Imperial Planetary Governor of Davin, Eugen Temba. The wound festered and the medical experts of his Legion proved unable to treat him. Horus was close to death. In desperation Horus's Apothecaries enlisted the help of the Davinites. Horus was treated by a Davinite sect. He was carried into the Temple of the Serpent Lodge a dying man and emerged some days later apparently cured and bursting with energy. None know what profane rites to the Dark Gods were performed to save him. Horus commanded that all his senior officers be inducted into the warrior lodges which had proliferated secretly through the XVI Legion in the decades following its initial conquest of Davin. Within a short time the entirety of Horus' Legion had been inducted. In the following months Horus extended the warrior lodge system to other Space Marine Legions with the blessing of those Primarchs who would later ally themselves to his cause. So it was that the seed of Heresy was first planted in the heart of the Emperor's greatest champion and within some of the most powerful military forces in the galaxy.
Horus had listened to the blandishments of the Ruinous Powers of Chaos and made his pact with them while he lay unconscious within the Temple of the Serpent Lodge. He would deliver to them the Emperor and they would give him the galaxy. It was a simple bargain and one that made sense to Horus. Humanity was under dire threat from the daemons of the Warp, though few recognised the danger. If the Emperor knew, he seemed to ignore the threat. After his sojourn on Davin, Horus was a changed man. The Warmaster drew to him those Primarchs he could trust the most. He met with each in turn and corrupted them. After he secured the loyalty of nearly four full Legions of Space Marines, he hoped to draw more forces into his web of deceit. Horus despatched his agents to other Legions and began the process of winning to his side various Imperial Commanders and Mechanicum Forge Masters. The latter held positions of authority on the Forge Worlds of the Adeptus Mechanicus. They also controlled the fearsome Titan Legions of the Collegia Titanica. With these powerful war machines at his side Horus believed that he might even be able to force the Emperor to submit to his rule without more bloodshed.
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. Praal had declared his independence from the Imperium, and practiced forbidden psychic 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' plans 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 now 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 Istvaan III, amassed his troops in the Istvaan System.
Horus had a plan by which he would destroy all 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 pretense of bringing it back into the Imperium. At the moment of victory and the capture of the Choral City, these Astartes were betrayed when a cascade of terrible virus-bombs containing the Life-eater virus fell onto the world, launched by the Warmaster's orbiting fleet. On the planet's surface had been over one hundred companies of Space Marines drawn from the Emperors Children, Death Guard and World Eaters Legions. Of these, fully two-thirds miraculously survived the bombardment, thanks to the warning messages they received from their loyal comrades in orbit. The conflict on Isstvan III became the first battle in the history of the Imperium in which Space Marine fought Space Marine. Former comrades and brothers-in-arms became bitter foes as treachery abounded. No quarter was asked for and none was given.
As the Traitors launched their orbital barrage of death on the Loyalist Space Marines on Istvaan III, Captain Nathaniel Garro of the Death Guard seized the frigate Eisenstein and fled towards Terra, to bring warning of Horus' treachery. Stranded hundreds of light years from any stretch of inhabited space, the Loyalists were eventually found by Primarch Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists Legion, and brought back to the Sol System. After arriving in the Sol System with the news, Garro, his fellow Death Guard Astartes, the Remembrancer Euphrati Keeler, and the former Luna Wolf Captain Iacton Qruze were all placed in a fortress on Luna that belonged to the Sisters of Silence while the Emperor determined whether they were truthful or were simply further pawns of the Chaos Gods.
Malcador the Regent
During this time, the Emperor still continued to busy himself with his secret project in the vast dungeons beneath the Imperial Palace. The Emperor was seemingly oblivious to the events which would play out in the early days of the Heresy on Istvaan, Calth, Signus Prime and Prospero. He had appointed Malcador the Sigilite as Regent of the Imperium, to rule in his stead, whilst he continued to work on the secret project in the depths of the Palace. No one could guess at what was happening within the vaults. Of all the people who worked in the dungeons only Malcador was allowed free and regular access and none dared question the First Lord of Terra about the secret workings within.
Malcador did not relish his job as the Imperial Regent in the final days of the Great Crusade, and every day seemed to bring forth new difficulties. The Space Marine Primarchs openly resented his authority, constantly questioning his right to command them and refusing to maintain contact with him. The Mechanicus of Mars was restless, sending daily demands to be admitted to the Emperor's presence; even the lowly clerks and administrators of Terra appeared to need to have orders repeated to them multiple times before carrying them out. Despite all of these distractions, it had become clear to Malcador that a genuine crisis was building. Warp Storms were hampering interstellar communications and the Astronomican was weakening. Entire regions of the Imperium were cut off from Terra. Horus had not been in direct contact with him for weeks and Malcador had found it impossible to ascertain the whereabouts and well-being of most of the other Space Marine Legions.
It felt to Malcador as if the Imperium was at its weakest point for many years, and could prove to be easy prey for a determined enemy. After he learned of their arrival in the Sol System, Malcador went to Luna and approached Captains Garro, Qruze and the Sister of Silence Amendera Keel. He told them that the Emperor needed them, for they would become a part of the formation of a new Imperial organisation, outside the boundaries of the existing Imperial bureaucracy, which would utilise "...men and women of inquisitive nature, hunters who might seek the witch, the traitor, the mutant, the xenos." The Emperor had foreseen that the end of the Horus Heresy would cost him greatly, so much so that he would no longer be able to take an active hand in Mankind's survival. Yet he also knew that the threat of Chaos would not see defeat with the fall of Horus, but would continue to haunt humanity. The very nature of the Horus Heresy had proven that the Space Marines were not immune to corruption as the Emperor had once hoped. So the Emperor set his hand to plans that would win a wider victory from the ashes of a most personal defeat.
As the closest of the Emperor's servants, Malcador was ordered to scour the galaxy for those who were worthy to help save the future of humanity. This was a monumental task made all the more difficult by the anarchy created by Horus' growing insurrection. That is how the Sigillite came to be on Luna, and the fate of Battle-Captain Garro became inextricably intertwined with the future survival of all Mankind. Under the Sigillite's own seal (the future symbol of the Inquisition), Garro was tasked with finding 7 other Loyalist Astartes from amongst both the Loyalist and Traitor Legions who were utterly devoted to the Emperor and his Imperium in body and soul. These Space Marines would eventually form the core of what would later evolve into the Grey Knights Chapter of Astartes, the Chamber Militant of the Inquisition's Ordo Malleus. The Inquisition would be born in the fires of betrayal.
The Sigillite then met with the Primarch Rogal Dorn in the Imperial Palace on Terra. They discussed the portentous events that were happening across the galaxy. The Warmaster, for reasons Dorn was quite at a loss to fathom, had turned upon their father, and was committing his forces to an all-out war against the Emperor. That war would come to Terra and Mankind's homeworld needed to be ready for the assault of the Traitors. The Imperial Palace needed to be fortified. The Emperor had asked Dorn, as a personal boon, to return to Terra with his Imperial Fists Legion and oversee the preparations personally, but Dorn did not feel up to the task and feared failing his father and humanity. Using his vast wisdom, Malcador counseled the troubled Primarch, helping him realise his true fears and how to overcome them so that he would be ready when Terra and the Imperium needed him.
As the Heresy worsened, Malcador found himself afflicted by despair and felt out of his depth. His life had been utterly devoted to the Emperor's cause since their fateful meeting long years previously at the Sigillite Fortress, but he had never been a warrior or a general. His skills lay in administration and lawmaking, and although he shared a mysterious psychic bond with his master that no one else could understand or rival, even he was now denied daily access to the Master of Mankind. That any Space Marine Legion could betray their oaths of loyalty to the Emperor was inconceivable to him. He could not understand how four Primarchs could do such a thing and the question threatened to unhinge his mind with madness. But the Emperor assured the Sigillite, that as long as He drew breath, the evil that assailed them would not conquer Mankind. The Emperor would make Horus and his misguided followers rue the day that they had dared to turn Traitor and embraced the Warp.
Malcador the Hero
After many long months, Malcador and 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 two men looked up at the Emperor from bended knee. He was seated upon a huge chair fully ten metres above them. The chair was bulky and machine-like, fabricated of metal, gold in colour, and gigantic mechanised doors of the same golden metal blocked the strange portal behind him. Beyond lay the Labyrinthine Dimension of the Eldar Webway that would serve as a direct and instantaneous transport network between all the worlds of the Imperium if the Emperor's project proved successful. This new human Webway would recreate the vast network of Warp Portals that had once bound together the Old Ones' and the Eldar's ancient interstellar empires together 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.
The Warp Gate the Emperor had constructed and the short section of Webway passage beyond required constant maintenance lest they fall into ruin. At first this 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 Gods of Chaos-- 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 to warn him of the very plot they had initiated, the betrayal of the Imperium by Horus. Magnus sent his warning by means of powerful psychic sorcery and this broadcast 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 Webway the Emperor's secret army of Adepts and Tech-priests had by then conquered, it destroyed the delicate controls the Emperor had set in place. Now the Warp Gate he had constructed required virtually all of his psychic power and mental concentration lest it rip open a permanent doorway between Terra and the Warp, flooding the homeworld of Mankind with the daemonic legions of the Ruinous Powers.
The Emperor told Malcador that he had to take the Emperor's place on the psychic amplifier known as the Golden Throne, which provided the psychic sheath needed to protect the new, human-built sections of the Webway which had been intended to be the Emperor's final gift to humanity before the Horus Heresy had begun. The Emperor's original choice of his replacement on the artefact had been the Primarch Magnus the Red, but since Magnus and his Thousand Sons Space Marine 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.
In the days before the final confrontation between the Emperor and Horus aboard his Battle-Barge the Vengeful Spirit during the Battle of Terra, the Emperor 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 Horus Heresy from occurring again. The Emperor also told Malcador to prepare himself for the dreadful sacrifice that he would be called upon to make.
The forces of the rebel Warmaster Horus had won a great victory on the bloodstained plains of Istvaan V early in the Heresy. Almost the entirety of three Loyalist Legions of Space Marines, which included the Raven Guard, Salamanders and the Iron Hands, had been annihilated by Horus' Traitors. The Primarch Ferrus Manus was dead -- beheaded at the hands of his former brother Fulgrim of the Emperor's Children Legion. The Primarchs Corax and Vulkan were missing, also presumed dead by the victors, though their bodies had not been recovered from the corpse-strewn battlefield. Meanwhile, the war within the Webway had been going badly for the Emperor. Even though at first the army of the Legio Custodes and the Silent Sisterhood had managed to push back the daemonic invaders, they had taken 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.
The Terran Warp Gate would remain closed to the daemons for as long as the Emperor was able to power it from his throne atop the golden portal. Only the mightiest of psykers had power enough to do this and even then most would be exhausted and fail in a short time. Only the Emperor Himself had the might to keep the gate closed permanently and for him the effort grew harder as the daemonic forces gathered about him. For as long as the daemon horde threatened to breach the portal, the Golden Throne would be his prison. As Horus' forces began their final assault on the Sol System and the Battle of Terra began seven 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 foundation of the 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 to the man he had followed for the greater part of his life. Once within the depths of the Imperial Palace, the Emperor asked if Malcador was prepared to take his place upon the Golden Throne. 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 ascended to the Golden Throne, replacing the Emperor who now stood before the edifice with his loyal captains 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 Emperor directed the attention of the two mighty Primarchs, "Behold the greatest sacrifice of our age! Malcador the Sigillite is no more. Henceforth he shall always and only ever be Malcador the Hero!" At this the three figures retired from the Palace's vault and made ready to teleport onto the Battle-Barge of Horus. The task of keeping the daemons out of the Imperial Palace was daunting for the Emperor, mighty reincarnation of a thousand psykers 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 hours. When the Primarch 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 their final orders before being interned silently for the next 10,000 standard years within the modified life support systems of the Golden Throne. From there 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 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....
- Codex: Grey Knights (5th Edition), p. 6
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions, pp. 15, 46, 188, 247, 249-250, 252, 254, 260, 322-324, 359-361, 367
- Horus Heresy: Visions of Death by Alan Merrett
- The Flight of the Eisenstein (Novel) by James Swallow
- Nemesis (Novel) by James Swallow, pg. 47
- The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Age of Darkness (Anthology), "The Last Remembrancer" by John French
- Deliverance Lost (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- Horus Heresy Chapbook (Anthology), "The Lightning Tower" by Dan Abnett
- Garro: Oath of Moment (Audio Book) by James Swallow
- The Sigillite (Audio Book) by Chris Wraight