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Characters from the Horus Heresy who belong to the Legions that turn their backs on the Emperor. Tropes for the Traitor Primarchs can be found here

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The Traitor Astartes.

     III Legion: Emperor's Children 

The Legion
Number: III
Original Name: Emperor's Children
Primarch: Fulgrim

Originally created from the children of Europan nobles given to the Emperor as a tribute from conquered lands, the "Children" of the Emperor strove for excellence in all things thanks to their noble background. The 3rd Legion's early history was marked by both honor and tragedy. Honor since, after one cohort was annihilated while defending a wounded Emperor, they earned the right to bear the Emperor's aquila on their armour. Tragedy as the Legion found itself poisoned by the Blight, an affliction in their gene-seed causing organ failures, cancer and death. Eventually reduced to only a few hundred Astartes, the 3rd found its new home on Chemos, homeworld of their gene-sire Fulgrim. Fulgrim met his Legion, officially named them as the "Emperor's Children", and managed to rebuild his Legion and lead it to new heights of glory, serving alongside Horus's Luna Wolves.

Unfortunately, Fulgrim and the Emperor's Children were exposed to Slaanesh's corruption after a campaign on the world of Laer. The legion of perfectionists degenerated into a legion of sadistic, mercurial hedonists, driven mad by the search for new sensations and ever more depraved actions. When Horus turned traitor, the Emperor's Children were ready to follow him. The Emperor's Children participated in the battles of Isstvan III and V, during which Fulgrim became possessed by the daemon of Slaanesh that lurked within his sword, although he was freed some time after. Later, the Emperor's Children and the Iron Warriors travelled to the crone world of Iydris, where Fulgrim ascended into a Daemon Primarch. The Legion splintered into smaller armies for the remainder of the Heresy, each pursuing their own goals while Fulgrim idled in Slaanesh's palace. However, Fulgrim was subsequently forced to gather his Legion and participate in the Siege of Terra.

Before their corruption, the Emperor's Children were among the most honored and respected of the Space Marine Legions: born from noble houses and particularly close to the Emperor, the Emperor's Children were a Legion of perfectionists. They respected a strict hierarchy and strove to achieve perfection in all things, especially in the art of war. This made them celebrated for their most glorious victories, but also mocked as vainglorious peacocks by other Legions. In battle, the Emperor's Children were a polyvalent army able to conduct any kind of military operation with exceptional skill, although they had a particular affinity for quick and decisive assaults. After falling to Slaanesh, the Legion became a mob of twisted sense freaks seeking more depraved acts to commit, such as heavy self-mutilation, while its Apothecarion deteriorated into a group of mad scientists wishing to improve the Emperor's work through horrible surgeries. Their battle discipline collapsed, but they added to their arsenal the Kakophoni, a special group of Astartes whose surgeries allow them to use their vocal cords as sonic weapons that are lethal even for other Space Marines. The Emperor's Children typically wear purple armour with gold trim.

  • Agent Peacock: Before the Heresy, it's said that the prettiest Space Marines are either the Children or the Blood Angels.
  • Badass Army: A given, considering they are an Adeptus Astartes legion. Moreover, prior to the Heresy they are stated to have been one of the most accomplished and well regarded legions, excelling in whatever they did and even receiving praise from the likes of Rogal Dorn.
  • Battle Cry: "Children of the Emperor! Death to His foes!"
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: Whereas the other traitor legions simply became the worst versions of themselves, the Emperor's Children became their opposites. Whereas they used to be the Legion with the strictest hierarchy and exceptional levels of discipline, they deteriorated into a mob of deranged, erratic, drug-addled lunatics.
  • Bling of War: Their armour is so over-decorated and well kept that other Legions tend to snark at it.
  • Body Horror: They turn themselves into grotesque monstrosities in their endless pursuit of sensation. Before Chaos mutations became a big part of the Traitor Legions, the Emperor's Children were already becoming monstrously inhuman due to extreme body modification, including artificial mutations and implanted technology that had no business being inside a human body, provided by Fabius, and extreme self-mutilation, provided by themselves.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Purple and gold are their main Legion colours; these are both colours typically associated with royalty and nobility.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: After their corruption, the Legion will do anything to experience new sensations, including being wounded in battle. Julius Kaesoron is nearly disemboweled by Gabriel Santar during the Drop Site Massacre, and he reacts by thanking Santar for the exquisite sensation.
  • Cultured Badass: Before their fall, they were taught appreciation for painting, theatre and other forms of art.
  • Decadent Court: Fulgrim's command staff slowly devolves into this as Slaanesh's corruption takes hold; the formerly rigid and disciplined command structure disappears as all of Fulgrim's commanders start working only for themselves while trying to get the most of Fulgrim's attention and favour.
  • Fallen Hero: In spades. Before they fell to Chaos, they were considered to be examplars of what it meant to be Space Marines. Indeed, Fulgrim, Saul Tarvitz, Solomon Demeter, Vespasian and Ancient Rylanor exemplified everything that was noble and admirable in the legion before its corruption.
  • The Hedonist: They'll do anything and everything to experience new sensations.
  • Human Resources: After their fall, they start using humans as paints, decorative accessories, drugs, and toys.
  • Loves the Sound of Screaming: Many of them take up the hobby of torturing slaves, or themselves. This takes on a different, but no less dark flavor with the introduction of the new specialist troops, the Kakophoni.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Adapting the exotic and destructive instruments designed for the opera Maraviglia into battlefield weapons, by simply playing them as they were designed, led directly to the introduction of the Kakophoni troops, the first we see of what would later become the Noise Marines.
  • The Perfectionist: Their hat is endless striving for perfection in all things.
  • Sanity Slippage: We get to see in detail how the entire Legion, under the influence of a Slaaneshi daemon, transforms from cultured warrior aristocrats, to petty and self-serving Glory Hounds, seamlessly continuing into insanely depraved Sense Freaks and twisted Combat Sadomasochists.
  • Self-Harm: Becomes near-ubiquitous after their fall, with legionaries scarring themselves, adding various "enhancements" to cause them pain whenever they move, and torturing themselves to feel new sensations.
  • Wicked Cultured: They retain their appreciation for arts even after their fall, it's just that now they add Human Resources and consider pain and sensory overload to be the trademarks of good "art".

Saul Tarvitz
The Honour Of His Legion
The Captain of the Tenth Company, and de facto leader of the loyalist Emperor's Children.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: His name suggests he has some Jewish heritage, though being a loyalist of the 30K-era Imperium he certainly doesn't practice. Ironically, his gene-seed may have later been used to create the WWII Germany-themed Red Scorpions chapter.
  • The Captain: Commander of the Tenth Company.
  • Defector from Decadence: One of the very few Emperor's Children not to fall to Slaanesh.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: With Loken, Garro and the rest of the Loyalists from the traitor Legions.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Having been disregarded and fallen out of favour before Istvaan III, he becomes one of the main loyalist commanders and directs a defense that ties up four entire Legions for three months.
  • Going Native: Played with. He quickly bonds with and becomes close to the Luna Wolves, but at the same time he admits that he's always been more like them than like his own Legion.
  • Harbinger of Impending Doom: Serves this way to Nathaniel Garro, warning him of Horus' imminent betrayal just before his deployment on Istvaan III.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: If it wasn't for him, the battle of Istvaan III would have been far easier for the traitors. He knows he's going into a death trap, but decides to go anyway.
  • Humble Hero: What keeps him away from the decadence that takes his Legion. If a comrade hadn't spoken up, he'd have let Eidolon take credit for his achievements on Murder.
  • The Last DJ: He's a skilled warrior and leader who is respected by the likes of Nathaniel Garro and Tarik Torgaddon, but his humility has kept him from ascending to the highest ranks of the III Legion. It's all the more ironic because Tarvitz has technically achieved the perfection that the rest of the Emperor's Children are striving for by finding the place where he is best suited to serve the Emperor, and he has not lost sight of the true meaning of their philosophy. Unfortunately for him, his humility and loyalty to the Emperor ultimately sees him marked for death at Istvaan III.
  • Never Found the Body: Not confirmed, but it's assumed he died on Istvaan III when Horus finally gave up, pulled his forces back and wiped out the remaining loyalist survivors via orbital bombardment.
  • The Paragon: Of his legion, to a point that some even call him 'The Honour of his Legion'.
  • The Philosopher: Gives some thought to why the Megarachnids attack the Astartes with so much fervour, and he can at least recite his Legion's philosophy to Torgaddon.
  • Spotting the Thread: When he learns that Glory Hound extraordinare Eidolon isn't leading the assault on Istvaan III, he becomes suspicious enough to finagle his way into remaining in orbit while he investigates what's going on.
  • White Sheep: One of the few Emperor's Children officers that doesn't make his desire for perfection into a flaw, and the only one who doesn't seek glory and acknowledgment.

...and after. Remember, kids, heresy's not good for your skin!
Captain of Thirteenth Company and a consummate professional, he's universally acknowledged as one of the best swordsmen in the Imperium.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: A huge part of his genius with a sword is his ability to notice and analyse every detail of his enemy's fighting technique. And let's not forget that it's his analysis of Fulgrim that uncovers his primarch's possession.
    • On Murder, he's talking about what fighting the Megarachnids has taught him while his brothers are still trying to process what they've seen.
  • Broken Ace: He's a superlative swordsman and capable officer, but his ego constitutes a colossal flaw that drives him to self-mutilation.
  • Evil Is Petty: Kills Captain Solomon Demeter on Istvaan III for no other reason than because Demeter chewed him out on their first meeting.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: His Fatal Flaw and pretty much the reason he turns traitor.
  • Face–Heel Turn: At first, circumstance sees him siding with the loyalists at Istvaan III as the Token Evil Teammate (though the loyalists didn't know it at the time), but the idea of being left out of what his Legion was becoming, spiced by his jealousy of Tarvitz, gets the better of him and he gleefully betrays his side to the traitors without a second thought.
  • Heroic Willpower: He manages to stave off the madness overcoming his Legion thanks to his iron self-discipline and remains sane even after pretty much all the rest of the high command has degenerated into frothing insanity.
  • Irony: The first time Lucius is killed by Sharrowkyn of the Raven Guard, his killer feels no pleasure, seeing Lucius as little better than a rabid dog that needs to be put down. Anybody who knows the meta will know that Lucius, if killed, will resurrect if his killer feels even a moment of accomplishment, so the way he dies the first time is the same way that he would be killed for the last time.
  • Manchild: Before the Legion's fall, he was passionate, exuberant, eager to please, and playful. He greatly looked up to Tarvitz like an older brother, who found Lucius' energy endearing. He was noted during the mission on Murder to be enjoying the adventure despite the hopelessness and carnage surrounding them, and his joy and bravado were infectious to his men. But his childishness had much darker implications as well.
  • Master Swordsman: One of the best in the Imperium. He certainly considers himself to be the best, period, and only three people have ever given him a run for his moneynote .
  • Pride: Ooh, boy. He's the best his Legion has and he knows it.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: He may be a stunningly talented swordsman, but he's also incredibly selfish, childish, and petulant, with such an all-consuming need to be praised and flattered at all times that it leads to his damnation.
  • Resurrective Immortality: He died at least once over the course of the series, though how he came back—by Slaanesh's blessing or Fulgrim's—is anybody's guess. In the future he'll be blessed by Slaanesh to come back to life whenever killed, resurrecting in the body of the very person who kills him.
  • Sore Loser: He makes a big shown of besting three of the Mournival plus Erebus in the sparring cages, but when Garviel Loken clocks him with a single punch he cries foul play and spends months sulking over his crooked nose.
  • Self-Harm: His search for new sensations leads him to cutting and scarring himself.
  • Spotting the Thread: The first person to realize that something is very wrong with his Primarch.
  • The Captain: Commands the Thirteenth Company, although this doesn't count for much after the Legion's "apotheosis".
  • The Hedonist: Like all the Emperor's Children after their fall, he seeks new sensations and it nearly kills him more than once.
  • 13 Is Unlucky: The second most infamous Slaaneshi cultist after Fulgrim, he's unlucky to others rather than himself.


Lord Commander Primus (the greater of two in who appear in Fulgrim) of the Emperor's Children, Eidolon's arrogance and lust for glory see him slide into decadent corruption with the rest of his legion.
  • Asshole Victim: Is beheaded by Fulgrim in one of his many post-Istvaan V fits of pique. Virtually no one is sorry to see the last of him.
  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: For all his many faults, Eidolon is considered one of the finest warriors of the III Legion. He even notes himself that he wouldn't have reached his current rank if that weren't the case.
  • Awesome by Analysis: At the beginning of The Path of Heaven his underlings are worried about White Scars offensives at various locations, but Eidolon recognises them as decoys. What's more, he works out their true target early enough to fortify it.
  • Battle-Interrupting Shout: Thanks to Fabius's experiments making him one of the first Noise Marines, Eidolon is able to emit a mind-shattering shriek as a warcry. This proves instrumental in securing the victory to secure Istvaan Extremis, as Eidolon puts the Warsinger commanding the enemy out of action long enough to turn the tide.
  • Blatant Lies: Upon his return to the Legion after the Murder campaign, Eidolon lies like a rug to make his actions in battle seem even more glorious. Saul Tarvitz notes that he is quick to omit the fact that his lust for glory got most of the forces under his command killed because he went in without waiting for the Sons of Horus to reinforce him, as he didn't want to share the victory.
  • Body Horror: Post-resurrection he looks and moves like a zombie and has giant flesh sacs under his neck that amplify his vocal chords. The descriptions make it sound pretty gross.
  • Break the Haughty: By the end of Galaxy in Flames, Eidolon has been so humiliated in the Istvaan III campaign that he's quiet in war councils with the Legion, with the tacit understanding that if he annoys Horus any further, he'll be given over to Angron. He learns nothing from the experience.
  • Broken Ace: He's one of the the finest strategists in his Legion and is a lethal combatant to boot, but he has a colossal ego.
  • Came Back Wrong: After his resurrection by Fabius, Eidolon has the appearance and hallmarks of a zombie, including the shambling walk. Fulgrim orders Eidolon to stay behind him at all times so he doesn't have to look at what he considers ugly and unseemly. On the other hand, once we see him in battle, he seems more lethal than ever.
  • Drop the Hammer: Eidolon's weapon of choice is a thunder hammer.
  • The Hedonist: As of The Path of Heaven he's filled up to the eyes with drugs that will one day kill him, but he hardly cares. Tiring of his current campaign, he's on the verge of defying orders to find something new. As his second-in-command says, Eidolon "is always taken with novelty".
  • Glory Hound: He's obsessed with achieving glory and fame at any cost, as long as someone else is paying the bill. He leads a relief force into the grinder on Murder instead of waiting for the Luna Wolves because he doesn't want to share the glory, takes the credit for Tarvitz's ideas despite having previously dismissed them, and insists on personally leading every attack in which he's participating. The one time he doesn't take the lead is at Istvaan III, and this is such atypical behavior for him that Saul Tarvitz realizes something is seriously wrong.
  • Jerkass: Is considered this by some of his Legion and most members of others, such as Tarik Torgaddon.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: After his resurrection, his main weapon of choice becomes a sonic scream that's capable of killing an Astartes.
    • Amusingly, it means he can't voice frustration without killing mortals.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • His using his sonic implants during the assault on Isstvan Extremis clues Saul Tarvitz into what is going on within the Legion.
    • Lucius all but hands victory to Eidolon on a plate on Istvaan III and he still manages to screw it up. Instead of ordering his men to spread out and systematically take the Precentor's Palace from the loyalists holding it, Eidolon orders a full-scale attack on the centre; Saul Tarvitz takes advantage of this to set a trap, ordering the Emperor's Children to hit Eidolon's force in both flanks while they're held in place by the Luna Wolves. Eidolon's troops are driven back humiliated.
    • Another example appears in The Path of Heaven: Eidolon, expecting the White Scars to attempt to use the Kalium Gate, a Warp gate that would allow them passage back to Terra, reinforces the defences and the attack is repulsed. However, as he indulges in some Evil Gloating over a dying White Scar Legionary about how their plan was doomed to fail from the start, he is taunted by the White Scar that what Eidolon thought was the main attack was just another feint by the Vth Legion, and their true target was one of the worlds whose defences Eidolon stripped bare to reinforce Kallium.
  • Off with His Head!: Fulgrim beheads him in a fit of pique. He gets better.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Saul Tarvitz becomes suspicious about the battle plan for Istvaan III when he learns that Eidolon is not leading the first attack wave personally, when he normally leaps at the chance to win glory in such a situation. Tarvitz does some digging and inadvertently stumbles upon the traitors' preparations for the virus-bombing of the planet, explaining Eidolon's actions.
  • Red Baron: The Soul-Severed.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: In The Path of Heaven, following his resurrection, Eidolon is absolutely convinced that he could defeat a Primarch in combat, insisting that would have killed Jaghatai Khan at the Kalium Gate. One of Eidolon's lieutenants is split on the idea, thinking it's arrogance, but admits that Fabius' enhancements have given Eidolon an edge in combat. Mortarion, however, is convinced that Eidolon has brain damage if he thinks he could face the Great Khan.
  • Sycophantic Servant: In his neverending pursuit of glory, he often does what he can to ingratiate himself to Fulgrim, the man Eidolon sees as the most glorious. Ironically, it gets him killed when he insists to Fulgrim that he never betrayed him during one of Fulgrim's fits. At the mere mention of betrayal, Fulgrim goes into conniptions. Which resulted in Fulgrim beheading Eidolon, but the former ordered Fabius to restore him to life.
    • He seems to have learned his lesson. After Fulgrim ascends, Eidolon gathers a third of the Legion and prosecutes the war as he sees fit.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Fabius has to repeatedly point out that it is unwise for Eidolon to threaten the person who's keeping him alive.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Before The Path of Heaven, his ability as a commander was little more than an Informed Attribute. Now he's more deadly in person, and shown to understand the kind of tricks the White Scars play.
  • Villainous Rescue: He saves Saul Tarvitz and Nathaniel Garro from being killed by a Warsinger during the battle to capture Istvaan III's moon by overpowering one of the Warsingers with his shrieking, then cutting her head off before she can recover.

Julius Kaesoron

First Captain of the Emperor's Children, who wholeheartedly goes along with the corruption of the Legion.
  • Blade on a Stick: Wields a glaive on Isstvan V.
  • The Captain: The First Captain, no less.
  • Cultured Badass: He's an enthusiastic patron of the remembrancers, and is very skilled on the battlefield.
  • The Dragon: Was initially Co-Dragons with Eidolon at the start of the Heresy, though following the Legion's full fall to Slaanesh, Kaesoron ends up being the most able to navigate Fulgrim's mood swings, and emerges as his right hand man.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: When Santar breaks his glaive, it burns his face off.
  • Groin Attack: How he kills Santar, stabbing him in the groin with his broken blade and cutting upwards.
  • The Hedonist: He begins to get off on pretty much any strong sensation, be that a scantily clad woman or his own grief when his second in command is killed.
  • Hero Killer: Slays Gabriel Santar, his opposite number in the Iron Hands.
  • Pride: Goes with the territory, and he is livid when the Emperor's Children are put on construction duties on Isstvan V.
  • Resurrective Immortality: He becomes a daemon prince upon his death.
  • Warrior Poet: He's especially fond of poetry.

Marius Vairosean

The Third Captain of the III Legion.
  • The Atoner: To a degree that alarms some of his brothers, he seeks to redeem himself for reaching Fulgrim late in the battle on Laeran.
  • Body Horror: His ears have become gaping holes in his scalp, his mouth is fixed open in an unending scream, and his eyes have been sewn open.
  • Cursed with Awesome: He'd call it blessed, but it's nightmarish to pretty much anyone outside the Legion.
  • Death by Irony: During the battle of Iydris, he tries to use his sonic shriek to kill Ignatius Numen, an Iron Hands Morlock in his path. However, since Ignatius was rendered deaf in one of Marius's previous attacks, the shriek doesn't affect him, and Ignatius incinerates Marius with a volkite gun before he can draw a weapon to kill the Iron Hand in a more traditional way.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Yep, they're evil, and they're great big gashes where his ears used to be.
  • Instrumental Weapon: Inverted. He is the first Space Marine to appropriate one of Bequa Kynska's lethal instruments, becoming the first of the Kakophoni.
  • No Sense of Humor: He really doesn't find Demeter's bravado and joking about the gods of war funny.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Initially with Demeter, but it all goes sideways due to his masochistic urge to "redeem" himself and then his corruption.
  • Yes-Man: He becomes a sycophant to the point that it grates on Kaesoron and Demeter.

Rylanor the Unyielding
The Ancient of Rites

Also called 'The Ancient', Rylanor is a well-respected veteran of the Third Legion who was entombed following his mortal wounding in a Contemptor Dreadnought for his long and exemplary service. Deemed untrustworthy by his Primarch Fulgrim in following him and the rest of the corrupted Legion into rebellion, he was sent to die on Isstvan III, but survived the virus-bombing and rallied the other surviving loyalist Emperor's Children alongside Saul Tarvitz to resist the Traitors, determined to defy his turncoat Primarch to the bitter end and avenge his fallen brothers and legion.

  • And I Must Scream: On top of the horrors of being entombed in a Dreadnought, Rylanor was trapped underground on Isstvan for ten thousand years, his chassis crippled, his life sustained by an increasingly worn-out life-support system as well as his sheer hatred and force of will in utter isolation and silence even as he worked on a plan to kill his treacherous Primarch.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 6. Rylanor survived one in the virus-bombing of Isstvan III at the very beginning of the Horus Heresy which sterilized all life on the planet, killing tens of billions of civilians and thousands of loyalist Space Marines. He invoked another one on the same level ten thousand years by detonating an unexploded virus bomb right in his traitor primarch's face in his attempt to take Fulgrim with him in death.
  • Defiant to the End: Even to the bitter end, Rylanor never gives up and defies both his fallen Primarch and his corruption, defiantly declaring that he rejects Fulgrim now and always even as his Daemon Primarch held him at his nonexistent mercy and offered to remake him and let him rejoin the corrupted Emperor's Children, ten thousand years later.
  • The Determinator: There's a reason why he's called 'The Unyielding'. Rylanor's pride and honour was such that it gave him the resolve to endure through the Isstvan Atrocity and its aftermath, and together with his hatred sustained him through ten thousand years of being trapped underground following the Heresy so he could plot to lure and kill Fulgrim.
  • Doomsday Device: Survived the virus-bombing during the Isstvan Atrocity, and later survived a second orbital bombardment of the planet and made an unexploded virus bomb the lynchpin of his plan to kill Fulgrim by detonating it in his treacherous, daemonic face.
  • Doomed Moral Victor: Rylanor was never going to be able to kill Daemon Primarch Fulgrim, even with an unexploding planet-sterilizing virus bomb, but he gets to finally die in the Emperor's service, inspired three Thousand Sons sorcerers to pull a Heel–Face Turn and do a Redemption Equals Death, and in defying his treacherous primarch to the bitter end and denying him his own imagined magnificence, Rylanor apparently managed to permanently wound the daemonic warp embodiment of pride and hedonism in a way no one, not even his fellow primarchs, ever managed to. As far as the story is concerned, this was Rylanor's final and greatest victory, a sentiment with which many readers agreed.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Rylanor is completely disgusted by what his Primarch Fulgrim has become when he finally swung by Isstvan III to meet him in his serpentine, corrupted Daemon Prince form. The sight of Fulgrim's monstrous appearance doubles his determination to kill his Primarch.
  • Foil: Like the rest of the Third Legion, Rylanor was prideful, but where this pride dragged Fulgrim and the rest of the Emperor’s Children into narcissism, corruption, and hedonism, Rylanor’s pride gave him an unyielding core of honour, purity, and greatness which caused him to stay loyal and gave him the strength and determination to defy and deny his treacherous brothers and father their corruption and satisfaction to the bitter end. It’s so inspiring in fact it even caused some traitors who witnessed it to pull an immediate Heel–Face Turn, followed by a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Invoked with a trio of Thousand Sons in "The Ancient Awaits" where his final fate is revealed, who were so inspired by his unyielding pride and determination and seeing nothing of value in what Daemon Primarch Fulgrim had become that they (or at least their leader) decided to help Rylanor detonate the unexploded virus bomb which he intends to use to kill Fulgrim once and for all, at the cost of all their lives as all life on Isstvan burnt once more.
  • Hero of Another Story: The short story "The Ancient Awaits" basically revolves around him luring his tainted Primarch back into Isstvan III to kill him with a rigged virus bomb.
  • Mini-Mecha: Is entombed in a Contemptor Dreadnought after being mortally wounded in exemplary service, armed with powerful weapons, protected by heavy armour, and sustained by life-support systems so reliable they lasted him ten thousand years, even with his chassis crippled and trapped underground.
  • The Magnificent: In addition to being called 'The Unyielding’, he holds the titles "Ancient of Rites" and the "Venerable of the Palatine Host"
  • The Power of Hate: As Rylanor himself noted in "The Ancient Awaits", he had nearly forgotten everything else, even his name, through ten thousand years of entombment and waiting beneath the surface of Isstvan III for his treacherous Primarch to come, and only got through it, apart from the increasingly faulty and unreliable life-support systems of his Contemptor Dreadnought, through his sheer hatred for Fulgrim. He absolutely refuses to die until he gets to take Fulgrim with him in death.
    Ancient Rylanor: So. Long. I. Have... waited... Forgot. Name. Forgot brothers. Only hate endured. Only vengeance sustained me.
  • Uncertain Doom: His damaged Contemptor Dreadnought form was last seen marching down the tunnels beneath the capital of Isstvan III just before the final bombardment which wiped out the loyalists. "The Ancient Awaits" revealed he survived the bombardment and spent the next ten thousand years trapped underground preparing a lure and a trap for his fallen Primarch so he can take Fulgrim with him in death.
  • Sole Survivor: In "The Ancient Awaits", it is revealed that Rylanor is the last survivor of the Isstvan Atrocity and the last (known) Emperor's Children loyalist in existence, having managed to survive - albeit crippled - buried beneath the surface of Isstvan following the final bombardment and spent the next ten thousand years waiting, sustained by sheer hatred and force of will, setting up a lure for his fallen Daemon Primarch Fulgrim to find so he could try and kill him with an unexploded virus bomb and finally die in the Emperor's service.
  • Taking You with Me: Ten thousand years after the Heresy, a crippled Rylanor lured Daemon Primarch Fulgrim (and a trio of Thousand Sons, though it was by accident) to Isstvan so he could kill his own traitorous and corrupted genefather with an unexploded virus bomb. His ploy technically failed, but he nevertheless finally gets to die in the Emperor's service and denies Fulgrim his satisfaction - which being a daemonic warp-being embodying pride and hedonism is essentially the entirety of his being, and thus left Fulgrim permenantly wounded in a way far worse than anyone ever had or could.
  • Token Good Teammate: One of the Emperor's Children loyalists sent to die in the Isstvan Atrocity and likely the very last survivor among them and all other Isstvan loyalists until the events of "The Ancient Awaits", where he finally gets to die in the Emperor's service trying to take out his fallen Primarch Fulgrim.

Solomon Demeter

The Second Captain of the III Legion and a loyalist.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Subverted. He finds Lucius fighting with some Emperor's Children Marines during the Isstvan III battle and helps him fight them off. It's only after they are all dead that he realizes they were loyalists trying to stop Lucius' betrayal.
  • Hidden Depths: Solomon was infamous for his straightforward and hot-blooded battle plans, which is why he keeps surprising his brothers with surprisingly deep musings on the nature of command or the effect war has on the soul.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: His first impressions of Lucius and Tarvitz is that the former has the makings of greatness and the latter is a mere line officer. After the war on Murder, he reverses his opinions, but he still never truly saw the depths Lucius would sink to.
  • Indy Ploy: In a legion of perfectionists who believed that war was a matter of having a perfect plan for battle and following it, Demeter was notably not afraid to improvise.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: He once brags that he wrote the book on charging up the center. When Marius has to launch a similar frontal assault, he muses that Demeter would be right at home there.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Fulgrim places him with the loyalists on Isstvan III, while previous depictions had him nowhere to be seen. The explanation given is that he was badly injured at the start of the battle and by the time he recovered Tarvitz was fully entrenched as the loyalists' leader. Demeter thus stayed in the background to avoid usurping Tarvitz's authority since he was, technically, the higher ranked officer.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Subverted. He tries to avenge his slain Marines by throttling Lucius with his bare hands. Lucius just stabs him and leaves him to bleed out.


An Apothecary with a sketchy grasp of ethics. We're contractually obliged to remind you that he has a lab coat made of human skin.

  • Evil Genius: He's a genius all right, it's just that his work is absolutely terrifying.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: He works on making "new men", and improving Space Marines. He also has absolutely no morals when testing his concoctions.
  • Genuine Human Hide: His lab coat, in case you somehow hadn't seen that already.
  • Human Resources: This supremely Nightmare Fuel-y lab coat of his. He also collects people and body parts for his experiments.
  • Immortality Seeker: When asked by one of his prisoners in Angel Exterminatus why he does everything he does, he answers that he just does not want to die. And then gets angry when his captive clearly does not understand it.
    Fabius: We are as mortal as any living thing, we just take longer to die. I will not have it so.
    Cassander: You want to live forever?
    Fabius: [Angry he should even ask such a question] Of course. Don't you?
  • Labcoat of Science and Medicine: Wears one made of human skin.
  • Loves the Sound of Screaming: He has machines that could shorten the entire torturing process to mere minutes, but notes that it's not as much fun as prolonging the pain and hearing the victim scream.
  • Mad Scientist: He does things like genetic engineering of monsters, reattaching severed heads and reworking already-reworked post-humans into monstrosities.
  • The Minion Master: His studies and experiments with gene-seed results in captured loyalist Marines being mutated into hideous monsters he calls the "Terata", because he's unknowingly using material sabotaged with daemon blood (a powerful mutagen) by the Alpha Legion. Feral and animalistic mutants, the Terata make for good shock troops and bodyguards that Fabius keeps on hand. One of them was an Imperial Fist of uncommon willpower that broke loose and attacked him. Fabius was okay, but most of his data and material was lost, except for a certain Hon Sou.
  • Motifs: He's often compared to a Necromancer by various, unrelated characters. It's largely due to his personal appearance conveying both a scientific bent as well as madness cruelty. By Angel Exterminatus, he even fulfills the credentials by resurrecting Eidolon.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: When Nathaniel Garro is severely injured on Isstvan Extremis, Fabius steps in and stabilizes him long enough for a Death Guard Apothecary to take over. It's specifically noted that Garro would have died without Fabius' intervention. If Fabius had known how much trouble Garro was going to cause for the traitors, he'd probably have let him die there and then.
  • Swiss-Army Appendage: He has a custom-made Apothecary toolkit with dozens of functions on his back.
  • Token Evil Teammate: For the Emperor's Children. You know things are taken to the next level when someone's a Token Evil Teammate to the bad guys.
  • Torture Technician: Among the many, many torture specialists the Children have, he's the best.


A Palatine Blade of the III Legion.

  • Arch-Enemy: Views Shiban Khan this way after their first clash.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: As a Palatine Blade, he's one of the finest swordsmen in the Legion and has the ego and attitude to match.
  • Broken Ace: He's a superlative swordsman, but arrogant, and becomes obsessed with killing Shiban.
  • Dying as Yourself: During his battle with Shiban he opts to let Shiban kill him when the daemon that's been trying to possess him finally takes hold.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: He and his fellow Palatine Blades tend to attract notice, even as the Legion degenerates.
  • It's Personal: Cario makes it this by killing Shiban's friend and second-in-command Jochi just before their second duel.
  • Master Swordsman: As a Palatine Blade, he's this by default.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Views his feud with Shiban this way, plugging himself into simulations where he fights him.
  • Pride: Deems himself the only true child of the Emperor, the only one perfect enough to deserve the honour.
  • The Perfectionist: Tries to stave off his total corruption by Chaos until he has achieved a perfect kill.
  • Resist the Beast: The beast in question being a daemon of Slaanesh which seeks to possess him.
  • Unknown Rival: As far as Shiban knows, Cario was blown up after their initial fight. Then they fight again at Dark Glass, with Cario killing Jochi before their duel begins.
  • Worthy Opponent: Cario acknowledges Shiban as this before requesting a Mercy Kill to die as himself rather than succumb to daemonic possession.

     IV Legion: Iron Warriors 
See also the Characters page for the Iron Warriors series.

The Legion
Number: IV
Original Name: None (briefly nicknamed the Corpse Grinders)
Primarch: Perturabo

The Fourth Legion, known for its relentless and ruthless approach to warfare. Its first recruits came from the savage gun-tribes of Terra, and so the Legion was known for its affinity with firearms and artillery from its earliest days. They were deployed as a workhorse Legion, and often found themselves assigned to gruelling campaigns of attrition. When their primarch Perturabo was rediscovered on Olympia and took command of the Iron Warriors, he studied their records of battle and pronounced himself dissatisfied with their performance. As punishment, he ordered decimation: one in ten Iron Warriors was to be executed by their comrades. This act of unparalleled ruthlessness left a permanent mark on the survivors, as Perturabo went on to turn the IV Legion into one of the most ruthless war machines in the Imperium. However, instead of being recognized for their successes, the Legion was pigeonholed as siege warfare specialists and often confined to inglorious garrison duty. Perturabo's resentment grew until the Primarch psychologically broke.

When Olympia rebelled against Imperial rule, an enraged Perturabo committed genocide on its population, a crime for which he decided he could not be forgiven. Perturabo thus threw his lot with Horus' Traitor Legions, participating in the Isstvan V Drop Site Massacre. However, the Legion was lured into the Eye of Terror so that Fulgrim could sacrifice Perturabo to Slaanesh. Perturabo survived and fled with his Legion out of the Eye, at which point they invaded Tallarn and were then reassigned to defend Horus' rear guard against the Blood Angels, Dark Angels, and Ultramarines. The Iron Warriors participated in the Siege of Terra, although they had to leave many warriors behind on garrison duty.

The Iron Warriors were formerly based on the rocky world of Olympia and are in many ways a reflection of their homeworld: enduring, cold, logical, and stubborn. Considering war to be a science first and foremost, their strategies are unsubtle and they win through attrition and cold calculation rather than brilliance and valor. During the Crusade, they were also nicknamed the "Corpse Grinders" because they didn't hesitate to use themselves or their auxiliaries as cannon fodder. They also have a great affinity for siege warfare, using overwhelming firepower and melee assaults as an outlet for months of idle bombardment. As a result of Perturabo's personal hatred for Rogal Dorn, the Iron Warriors also hate the Imperial Fists and consider them to be their rivals as siege specialists. The Iron Warriors wear iron-grey armour, often trimmed with hazard stripes.

  • Abusive Parents: Their senior commanders seem to be utterly terrified of Perturabo's temper. Given his Mood-Swinger tendencies, not surprisingly.
  • Arch-Enemy: The Imperial Fists, for sharing their specialisation but getting a lot more respect for it. After joining Horus, Perturabo was willing to do basically anything to hurt Rogal Dorn.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: Not the Iron Warriors themselves, but during the period between Horus becoming Warmaster and the outbreak of the Heresy, their attached forces were this - the Iron Warriors were so willing to accept casualties that Horus specifically assigned them only the most expendable units, which had a heavy bias towards criminals and slaves.
  • Badass Creed: The Unbreakable Litany, which pretty much every 40K fan, no matter their allegiance, agrees is a pretty badass chant.
    From iron cometh strength.
    From strength cometh will.
    From will cometh faith.
    From faith cometh honour.
    From honour cometh iron.
    This is the Unbreakable Litany,
    and may it forever be so.
  • Battle Cry: Iron within, Iron without!
  • Color Motif: Steel-grey, with yellow-and-black hazard stripes.
  • Combat Pragmatist: They sneer at other Legions' ostentation and grandiosity, preferring cold, ruthless pragmatism. They'll use any tool to hand to win; one Warsmith goes so far as to manufacture shorter than average entrenching shovels that will make better trench-fighting weapons.
  • Continuity Snarl: Perturabo himself. Is he a cold-hearted statistician of a general who fights war as a numbers game, or a misplaced artisan simply best doing what's asked of him using what he has? Both?
  • Crippling Overspecialisation: According to Horus, they'd be no use hunting the White Scars because they play by a completely different rulebook. This is borne out by the short story "A Game of Opposites", where a warsmith tries to outthink Jaghatai Khan himself and loses badly.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Perturabo orders his Legion to decimate itself simply because it wasn't the best of the Legiones Astartes. Later on, the Iron Warriors commit genocide on Olympia when its planetary leaders rise up against the Imperium, even killing legionaries who refuse to fire on their own people.
  • The Dog Bites Back: They repay the Emperor for years of neglect and abuse by turning against him.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Perturabo's default attitude, which influences the rest of the Legion, especially as they continue to be thrown into thankless meat-grinder campaigns with no thanks or recognition for their service. At one point, Perturabo comes up with a brilliant plan to defeat an Ork warboss who's been holding the combined forces of the White Scars and Space Wolves at bay. His reward is to be referred to as a nameless "comrade-in-arms" while Russ and Jaghatai and their legions reap all the glory.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: They're remarkably casual about casualties, to the point of briefly being nicknamed the "Corpse Grinders" due to their willingness to expend Army regiments like ammunition, but they're appalled by the Heresy-era Emperor's Children and especially by what Fabius Bile is doing to captive Space Marines.
    • They actually do have some standards regarding casualties. When a siege lost so much manpower that they could only barely take the fortress's interior, the commander of the assault was stripped of his rank. Also, artillery should never hit a friendly Astartes (they call it Iron-on-Iron, a variant of Blue-on-Blue).
    • They also love architecture and can build anything from beautiful amphitheaters big enough to hold two Legions to planet-wide trenches extremely quickly. Perturabo assembles an impenetrable bunker that is part Mobile Maze, then packs it up to reassemble it on his flagship.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Because they were never really the most beautiful or interesting legion, and given their lack of compassion, they have very little public support.
  • It Amused Me: The hazard stripes on their armor have no purpose other than that they think it's funny.
  • Metallic Motifs: Iron, strong and durable.
  • Mighty Glacier: While they may move slowly, sooner or later they will win.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Their reaction after suppressing the Olympian revolt, which is largely what encouraged them to join with Horus, as he praised Perturabo for his thoroughness. Staying with the Emperor left Perturabo facing penance he felt he deserved, while joining with Horus gave him the forgiveness he desperately craved.
  • Oh, Crap!: Everyone's reaction in the vicinity whenever Perturabo receives bad news. For good reason.
  • Only Sane Man: Compared to some of the other Traitor Legions, their behavior seems reasonable to the point that they act almost like loyalists. They're still incredibly ruthless, but they don't take joy in atrocity the way that, for example, the Night Lords or Emperor's Children do.
  • Retcon: The Iron Warriors' motivation for joining Horus initially was described as combat fatigue and sheer exhaustion from all the dirty work they'd been forced to do. As their motivations had to be expanded and explored to make good novels, it changed to resentment for doing the dirtiest and least glamorous work in the Great Crusade and being repeatedly passed over for glory, and grew to include desperation after realizing that their crushing retaliation over the embarrassment of their homeworld rebelling was unforgivably aggressive. The common thread was that their feelings of bitterness led them to go over to Horus.
  • Robot Soldier: Unique among all the Legions, the Iron Warriors incorporate a unit of Domitar-Ferrum Class Battle Automata, nicknamed the "Iron Circle", within their ranks. They serve as Perturabo's bodyguards but would be deployed separately after their introduction in the Battle of Phall. Perturabo introduced them because he believed that his own Space Marine bodyguards had failed him and wanted better soldiers.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: In some interpretations, this was the ground state of the Legion, which non-stop siege deployments managed to make worse until they snapped.
  • Shoulder Cannon: The Legion's Tyrant Siege Terminators are equipped with shoulder-mounted Cyclone missile launchers, giving them that much more destructive power against buildings and vehicles.
  • Storming the Castle: Their hat, at least in the public eye, is that of siege breakers.
    • The Engineer: They can accomplish quite amazing feats of architecture, even apart from their fortresses - for example, raising a beautiful theatre capable of sitting tens of thousands takes them two days. Such as their role in the Crusade and the Heresy, they put their skills to figuring out how to tear down and overwhelm fortresses instead of building them.
      • Siege Engines: They have lots and lots and lots of artillery. One passage in The First Wall details the many hundreds of artillery pieces they've brought for the assault on Terra.
    • Victory by Endurance: Their preferred method of taking cities: slowly batter the enemy into submission until they can bring overwhelming force to bear on what's left. It lacks flair, which explains the below.
  • The Rival: To the Imperial Fists. Both are siege specialists, with the Fists often being called upon to fortify, while the Warriors are called in to tear down, though both can fill out both roles competently. While Perturabo wants to build, the Fists often get the pleasure instead; additionally they are lauded and admired for their service, while the Warriors are often passed over altogether.
  • Training Stage: The Legion's flagship Iron Blood has a unique great hall named the Dodekatheon in which are installed many tables with simulations of known fortresses so that warsmiths can train in battle simulations and study how to pierce a fortress's defenses. They even have a simulation of the Imperial Palace, which is nigh-impregnable and which three defending warsmiths can easily hold against dozens of opponents at the same time.
  • We Have Reserves: Their habit of using attached Army forces as sacrificial pawns was so pronounced, even before the Heresy, that Horus ordered that the only units attached to Iron Warriors forces would be ones the Imperium could do without - mostly convicted criminals and slaves from difficult compliance invasions. The habit also extends to the legionaries themselves, and even warsmiths don't hesitate to throw them into the thick of battle to gain victory. However, the Legion also frowns on wasting troops and any action should result in a net gain: a warsmith can lose as many men as he wishes as long as it gets results, but expending manpower and having nothing to show for it will be punished, as was the case in Angel Exterminatus with Warsmith Harkor being demoted by Perturabo to simple brother legionary.
  • Where I Was Born and Razed: When a rebellion breaks out on Olympia, they raze the planet to the ground, killing most of the populace and enslaving the survivors.

Barabas Dantioch
I may be old but I'm not helpless.
A Warsmith disliked by his own Primarch, he commands one of the few remaining contingents of loyalist Iron Warriors.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: His genius at fortress construction comes from his ability to predict enemy movements and plan out a fortress that's nigh-impregnable.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Seems to have this attitude towards Polux, acting like a patient, mentoring brother towards him.
  • Cool Mask: Wears one fashioned into his legion's insignia to hide his Hrud-induced aging.
  • Defector from Decadence: Refuses to join the rest of the IV Legion in their betrayal of the Emperor and instead pins down a contingent of traitor Iron Warriors for over a year before joining with the Ultramarines.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: His friendship with Polux really takes off only after Curze tries to murder the latter.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: He stays behind to blow up the Pharos and keep it from falling into the Night Lords' hands, killing himself in the process.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: He used to be a rising star among the Iron Warriors, but a disastrous campaign against the Hrud left him robbed of his reputation and good standing.
  • Meaningful Name: May be a reference to Barabbas, Jesus' co-prisoner who's suspected to have led an anti-Roman rebellion.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: His Heroic Sacrifice is what alerts the Tyranids to the presence of something edible in our galaxy.
  • Not So Stoic: The only time his stoic facade breaks is when Curze is about to murder Polux. Good thing it did, because his emotions activated the Pharos' teleporter and allowed him to pull Polux to safety.
  • Odd Friendship: With Alexis Polux, a captain of the Imperial Fists, the sworn rivals of the Iron Warriors. Made even stranger by the fact that Polux hates the Iron Warriors with burning passion, but the two seem to find the common ground surprisingly easily.
  • Rage Helm: His mask gives this impression, owing to having been made in the image of the Iron Warriors' sigil.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: His assignment to Lesser Damantyne was brought about by a campaign against the Hrud where he lost half of his company and was prematurely aged into an old man by the xenos' entropic fields. It's implied that his banishment is not as much because of the former as it is because his fellow Warsmiths couldn't bear having a living, breathing proof of weakness that would take them one day nearby.
  • Send in the Clones: He's created sort of "mini-Astartes", Sons of Dantioch, who are basically his somewhat-degenerated but unflinchingly loyal clones.
  • The Engineer: He is a warsmith of the IV Legion, after all. After leaving the Schadenhold, he takes over making the Pharos operational.
  • The Stoic: He takes pretty much everything his Primarch has him endure in stride, and this attitude doesn't change when he starts working against him.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: By blowing up the Pharos to prevent the Night Lords from seizing and using it, Barabas unintentionally summoned a far far FAR larger threat to humanity than the Night Lords could have ever been: the Tyranids.
  • Younger Than They Look: He's no older than two centuries, but his encounter with the time-manipulating Hrud left him looking like a very old man. 3,000 years old, to be exact.
  • Zerg Rush: Perturabo - The Hammer of Olympia depicts the fateful battle in which he incurred Perturabo's displeasure, and it shows the battle to have been this. Dantioch's company was hopelessly outnumbered against huge swarms of the Hrud, who were ironically on the move because they were fleeing the Iron Warriors' main force. Had he not ordered a withdrawal, he and his entire company would have been annihilated.

Kydomor Forrix
I make war a science.
First Captain of the Iron Warriors and part of the Trident, Perturabo's hand-picked advisory council of Warsmiths.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: His real genius lies not in his combat prowess, but in his ability to organize and keep running the entire vast war machine of the Iron Warriors.
  • Call-Back: Forrix himself started off in canon as a secondary character who first appeared in ''Storm of Iron'', which takes place in the "present" of 40k.
  • The Captain: He's the First Captain of the IV Legion.
  • The Consigliere: Tries to be the voice of reason for Perturabo.
  • Freudian Trio: Perturabo's current Trident fills this rather naturally, if underplayed. Forrix serves as The Spock to Falk's Kirk and Kroeger's McCoy.
  • Number Two: To Perturabo, as both the First Captain and a member of the Trident.
  • Only Sane Man: Among the Trident, especially after the events of Angel Exterminatus - Falk has all but lost his identity and Kroeger is a berserker on his merry way to fall to Khorne.
  • Sour Supporter: He becomes increasingly disillusioned with Perturabo, Horus, and the entire traitor cause as the Heresy wears on, only continuing to fight for the traitors because he feels like he has no other option.
  • Straight Man: The only "normal" man among the Iron Warriors, and one against whom the rising insanity of the Legion is contrasted.

Nârik Dreygur

A Consul-Praevian of the Iron Warriors and member of the Apolakron, one of the Legion's warrior societies.
  • Brain/Computer Interface: He has a cortex controller grafted directly into his nervous system, allowing him to commune with his battle-automata directly.
  • Cyborg: He's severely wounded at the Drop Site Massacre and receives a full augmetic rebuild courtesy of the Apolakron.
  • Defector from Decadence: He turns his back on the traitor cause after he and his grand battalion are seconded to the Alpha Legion and repeatedly used as expendable cannon fodder.
  • The Dog Bites Back: He turns on the Alpha Legion after they leave him and his men twisting in the wind one too many times, securing a victory for the Imperium.
  • Heel–Face Turn: He defects back to the Imperium at the Battle of Mezoa.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: He and his grand battalion are seconded to the Alpha Legion, who use them as expendable cannon fodder and threaten to drop an orbital bombardment on them if they try to retreat. It doesn't take much of this treatment for him to snap and turn on them.
  • Red Baron: After his cybernetic resurrection, he becomes known as "the Gravewalker".
  • You Are in Command Now: He's forced to take command of his grand battalion after all the senior officers are killed on Epsilon-Stranivar IX.

     VIII Legion: Night Lords 

The Legion
Number: VIII
Original Name: Night's Children (probably)
Primarch: Konrad Curze

The VIII Legion, led by Konrad Curze and based on Nostramo. From its inception, the Legion bore a fell reputation. Its first recruits came from the underground prisons of Terra, taking the sons of prisoners interned there. These children had grown up in a savage, lightless world, where a taste for brutality and a talent for cold-blooded murder were necessary survival skills, and they would carry these skills into their new lives as Astartes. As the Great Crusade wore on, they were increasingly used in retribution campaigns against non-compliant or rebellious worlds, making examples of those who would defy the Imperium. After their Primarch was found, they made their new home on his dark and lawless homeworld of Nostramo. As a vigilante bent on terrifying the populace into obedience, Curze made his Night Lords into terror specialists, using any tactic from excessive force to cruel tortures and subterfuge alike to utterly crush their targets' spirit. Ironically, Nostramo slipped back into a state of lawlessness after Curze departed, resulting in the Legion's reinforcements being comprised of the planet's worst and most cutthroat criminals and gutter-scum.

After a campaign alongside the Imperial Fists, Rogal Dorn confronted Curze on his terror tactics and precognitive visions and was severely wounded, causing the Imperium to arrest Curze and prepare his trial. Curze broke out of his prison and escaped with his Night Lords. They returned to Nostramo, whereupon Curze saw what had become of his homeworld in his absence. Enraged by his world's backsliding, he gave the order to destroy Nostramo. His fleet bombarded the crater his gestation pod had punched into Nostramo's crust until they had destabilized the very core of the planet, annihilating it in a single cataclysmic explosion. When Imperial forces arrived in the system, they found only an asteroid field where Nostramo had once been. When the Horus Heresy started, the VIII Legion joined Horus and participated in the Drop Site Massacre. They then embarked on the Thramas Crusade to tie up the Dark Angels but were ultimately defeated, with the Legion shattering into smaller warbands. Curze was captured by Lion El'Jonson, but escaped after the Dark Angels arrived at Macragge, terrorizing the planet until he was finally recaptured, broken, and dragged before Guilliman and Sanguinius for judgment. Sanguinius winds up shoving Curze into a stasis coffin and ejecting him into space, while a contingent of the Night Lords led by Gendor Skraivok join Horus' armies for the Siege of Terra.

The Night Lords have been shaped by their perpetually night-shrouded homeworld of Nostramo and its lawless, brutal culture. The Night Lords are vicious, cruel, and sadistic, and some of them are outright mad. As a result, they are feared and hated by almost everyone else in the Imperium. According to Curze's philosophy, the Night Lords are terror tactics specialists. They are accomplished infiltrators and codebreakers and will use any trick to make the enemy powerless, ready to cower as the Night Lords perform atrocities against the population. However, they are so accustomed to not fighting fair that they have relatively poor performance against fellow Astartes. The Night Lords wear midnight blue armour, often decorated with lightning patterns and the remains oftheir kills.

  • Animal Motifs: Bats feature prominently in their iconography and decorations.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: They were recruited from the dregs of society both before and after Curze was discovered. On the flip side, the Night Lords are very good at what they do (infiltration, intelligence and asymmetrical warfare) even compared to other Legions. In Pharos, a detachment of Night Lords manage to infiltrate a space station and board a cruiser, all the while making fools of the Ultramarines commanding the places.
  • Black Eyes of Crazy/Black Eyes of Evil: Their eyes are totally black, adding to their creepiness factor. It's a feature native to Nostramo, but it just happened that their geneseed also granted this, as evidenced by the few surviving Terran recruits.
  • Color Motifs: Dark blue, which they call "midnight", and blood red.
  • Combat Pragmatist: They abhor fair fights and don't attack openly unless absolutely forced to, in part because of Curze's tactical preferences, but also because of their innate cruelty and sadism.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: One of their chief weaknesses is that they're not good at fighting fair. When they can't utilize terror tactics, ambushes, hit and run attacks, or overwhelming force, they tend to lose, and badly. They spent most of their time in the Thramas Crusade running from the Dark Angels and taking horrendous losses in the process (although the Dark Angels were aided by an entity that could jump their fleets instantly with pin-point accuracy and predict the Night Lords' movements). Nonetheless, the Night Lords always suffer unfavorable kill-death ratios when pitted against other legionaries, or even against ordinary humans who refuse to be scared of them.
  • The Dreaded: Entire worlds have been known to surrender at the mere mention of who'd shown up to get them.
  • Evil Counterpart: They share a lot with the Raven Guard, including their appearance, preference for guerrilla warfare, and affiliation with darkness, but while the Raven Guard are freedom fighters, the Night Lords are butchers and terrorists. The similarities are overt enough, though, to give Corvus Corax pause when he realizes them.
  • Gallows Humor: Seems to be popular among them, although this may be fandom extrapolating from Sevatar's behaviour.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: They prefer guerrilla combat to open warfare.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Their language is full of allusions to night and darkness where day or sun would otherwise be.
  • Human Resources: They often decorate their armour with human skins and bones to strike terror into the hearts of enemy soldiers and civilians alike.
  • Innate Night Vision: Thanks to being raised in total darkness, their night vision is even better than that of other Legions.
  • Klingon Promotion: A common practice amongst the traitor legions in the modern setting, but the Night Lords are notable in that they did this BEFORE the Heresy even started. They made sure to keep the practice secret from everyone else.
  • Party Scattering: In the aftermath of the Thramas Crusade and a disastrous engagement against the Dark Angels fleet, Sevatar decided to break the legion into six smaller fleets to avoid being annihilated. However, this move turned out to be detrimental in the long run, as the scattering became permanent, with minor warband leaders now fighting among themselves for leadership.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Even before the Horus Heresy, the Night Lords were recruited from the violent criminal population of Nostramo and whatever hypno-indoctrination they received didn't curb their bloodthirst, while the cutthroat environment they'd grown up in and Curze's obsession with fear only amplified their cruelty and malice.
  • Stealth Expert: They're quite fond of sneaking around in the shadows and can easily run rings around other Space Marines.
  • Terror Hero: Their hat is using terror to break their enemies' wills and cow civilian populations into submission. One of their favorite ploys is to torture prisoners and flood all broadcast channels with the cries of pain of their victims.
  • Token Evil Teammate: During their tenure as an Imperial force, they were the only Legion with the overtly obvious "evil" mindset and MO. Even their very small number of loyalists were still utterly devoted to their Terror Hero methods.
  • Torture Technician: The Night Lords are all skilled in torture with a preference for flaying prisoners alive. The least sadistic of the Night Lords justify themselves with I Did What I Had to Do, but most simply indulge their bloodthirst and lust for murder.
  • Where I Was Born and Razed: At Curze's orders, they blow Nostramo to splinters.

Jago "Sevatar" Sevatarion, The Condemned, Prince of Crows
He's not good at this "smiling" thing.
Captain of the VII Legion's First Company prior to Zso Sahaal, and the man who first coins the infamous phrase "Death to the False Emperor".
  • At Least I Admit It: He considers all Astartes to be living weapons enslaved to their legions, and his own legion in particular to be little more than a motley crew of genetically enhanced thugs and murderers, especially himself.
  • Badass Boast:
    • "I am Sevatar the Condemned, and I will wear your skin as a cloak before dawn ruins the sky."
    • "I am judgement! I am justice! I am punishment!"
  • Believing Their Own Lies: Altani points out that he's never been the fair punishment he believes himself to be, only a gleeful terrorist. He doesn't take it well at first.
  • Blade on a Stick: Fights using a chain halberd with a metre-long blade. And a teleportation homing device in it.
  • Blessed with Suck: He has psyker powers, which are extremely useful in battle and could be even more so if he trained to use them, but suppressed as they are, they are slowly killing him.
  • Body Horror: Implied; his brain is described as rotting away inside his skull.
  • Broken Ace: Sevatar is one of the best fighters in the Legiones Astartes. He's also just as screwed up as one would expect of a Night Lord from Nostramo especially one suppressing psychic powers. It starts to get to him during The Long Night.
  • Brutal Honesty: One of the very few people to speak like this to the Night Haunter. Rather than sweeten the truth, he spices it with heavy servings of sarcasm.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Does one to the Night Haunter himself. Sevatar questions the ruling from fear doctrine that shaped both Nostramo and the fighting style of the legion, noting that the moment the Night Haunter was gone, the planet (and people/new recruits) changed for the worse. The Night Haunter denies this, claiming it was the only way, leading Sevatar to point out all the other ways that other primarchs had made compliant, productive, and orderly worlds, all without having to broadcast the screams of flayed children over the planetary vox network. The Night Haunter doesn't take it very well.
    Curze: There was no other way.
    Sevatar: No? What other ways did you try?
  • Combat Pragmatist: Doesn't care about honour at all and will use any possible tactic to win, no matter how dirty or against the rules it'd be. He technically beats Sigismund in their infamous duel by headbutting him in the face just as the latter is about to score the finishing blow.
  • Covered with Scars: Going by descriptions of him, he's in fact much more scarred than the picture above implies.
  • Creepy Crows: Nicknamed "Prince of Crows" and certainly creepy even when he's not trying.
  • Dark Secret: In ''Prince of Crows" we learn that Sevatar's a repressed psyker in a Legion which was up there with the Death Guard and Space Wolves in terms of hating psykers.
  • Dead Man Walking: The arterial red color of his gauntlets marks him as a condemned man, living only on the whim of his primarch. He doesn't seem especially bothered.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Responds to most problems, threats, and insults with bone-dry one-liners. Even by the standards of the Night Lords he snarks a lot.
  • Dead Person Conversation: He can hear the voices of the dead, and sometimes they speak to him.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Angrily refuses to answer to Jago, and almost no-one calls him Sevatarion either.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Averted whilst he is captive on the Invincible Reason. Altani only calls him Jago.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: He's deeply suspicious of Altani's reasons for telepathically chatting with him at her own risk. It turns to bewilderment when she insists it's because she felt that he was hurting and she wanted to help.
  • Famed in Story: His fame during the Crusade era was nearly equal to that of Abaddon.
  • Faking the Dead: In Void Stalker, Mercutian confides to Octavia that he believes Sevatar is still alive, something which a number of Night Lords believe. Talos, however, dismisses the suggestion.
    • Recent fluff has seemingly given credence to this theory. Specifically, a novel surrounding the Grey Knights reveals that the founder of the Grey Knight's Eighth Brotherhood went by the name Khyron note , and is depicted on his tomb leaning casually on a halberd. Considering Sevatar was known for his lax attitude, a chain-glaive as his Trademark Weapon, and the epitaph being self-deprecating and speaking about treacheries. It is hard to deny the possibility that Sevatar actually did not die like the Night Lords thought he did.
      • Both the Horus Heresy series and the Primarch novels reveal that neither the Legion or Curze had seen Sevatar since the attack on the Invincible Reason, and he was assumed dead from that point on. The last time any Night Lord to see him alive was Gendor Skraivok, who saw him imprisoned on the Invincible Reason a few years afterwards, but this wasn't relayed to the rest of the legion, since it might have harmed Skraivok's chances of taking command. As for the Grey Knights theory, Khyron's identity has not been definitively stated but is greatly implied to be Fel Zharost, another Night Lord. So whilst Sevatar could well be alive (at least past the Heresy), it's fairly unlikely that he became a Grey Knight.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Speaks with mock cheer and courtesy the majority of the time, even when addressing a former flaying victim he intends to... finish off.
  • Flashback to Catchphrase: Coins the phrase "Death to the False Emperor!", which cultists and Chaos Marines of the modern day use constantly.
  • Flaying Alive: His preferred method of execution. He's capable of taking off long continuous ribbons of human skin in one go, despite the size and power of his chainblade.
  • Genuine Human Hide: He wears the results of his flayings bolted to his armor.
  • Heroic RRoD: Breaks down on the Invincible Reason when his long-running brain rot gets to him and Altani becomes unable to soothe the pain. He spends several weeks curled up on the floor, screaming with pain and floating in and out of consciousness.
  • Hidden Depths: For a person with an obvious personality disorder, Sevetar is surprisingly quite adept at understanding and debating his primarch's moral shortcomings, as well as actually understanding him better than almost any other being save the Emperor or Sanguinius. He's also capable of empathising with a human child, which is something even most loyalist legionaries can't do.
  • I Am a Humanitarian: Having grown up on the streets, he sometimes did eat bodies of the dead to survive.
  • I Have Many Names: Sevatar, Jago, Prince of Crows, First Captain, the Condemned...
  • I Gave My Word: Takes his oaths of loyalty to the Atramentar and his primarch with a seriousness bordering on Honor Before Reason. Pretty surprising from a self-admitted liar and murderer.
  • I See Dead People: He can hear voices of the dead. In line with this line's Trope Namer, he believes that most don’t realize they're dead.
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: We have to repeat this boast once again:
    Sevatar: I am judgement! I am justice! I am punishment!
  • Lack of Empathy: He can't understand most of the emotions other people display. Among others, he's unable to understand why people whom he's led to death hate him and why anyone would tell him "it's good to see you".
  • Leaning on the Furniture: Serves to highlight his almost universal irreverence.
  • Mark of Shame: Wears gauntlets painted in sinner's red. He doesn't view them as much to be ashamed about, however.
  • Master Swordsman: Skilled with a Blade on a Stick rather than a sword, but he managed to come to a draw with Sigismund, who's considered the best swordsman alive apart from the Primarchs. Sevatar actually won this duel, but a forehead in the face is considered against the rules.
  • Morality Pet:
    • A very mild and slightly twisted example with Flight Commander Taye. He lets her get away with talking to him with far less respect than is due to an Astartes, let alone a First Captain. The end of Prince of Crows reveals that he keeps her (and a few other people in the fleet) around because she resembles members of his long dead family. They might even be related. This said, he has no idea what to think of this, emotionally speaking.
    • And again when he is captive on board the Invincible Reason, taking great risk to hunt down and bring justice/punishment to the people who maimed Altani, the young astropath girl who soothes the pain in his head after his psychic power runs out of control.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever he did to earn his red gauntlets and accompanying death sentence, neither he or Curze are telling. The only thing we know is that Sevatar finds it funny.
  • No Social Skills: Astartes aren't known for their social interaction, but Sevatar actually has trouble joking and bonding with his own brothers in the Atramentar, actually expressing (private) envy of Sigismund for his ability to bond with his brothers in the Imperial Fists. This seems to be due to his antisocial personality disorder than any Astartes conditioning, though.
  • Number Two: Split between him and Shang. Curze associates the role with him so strongly that in his senile moments after Sevatar's death he demands his presence in war councils.
  • Only Sane Man: One of the very few Night Lords who understands the reality of their situation.
  • Pet the Dog: He punishes the man who's beaten to death the young astropath, Altani.
  • Phrase Catcher: Variations on "You're insane" are often directed at him.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Suffers from this as a result of suppressing his psyker powers. They occur more often and become more severe as the time goes on; by Prince of Crows, he's shedding gallons of blood on semi-regular basis.
  • Psychic Powers: Revealed to be a suppressed psyker in the short story "Prince of Crows".
  • Praetorian Guard: Commands the Atramentar, Curze's honor guard.
  • Red Baron: The "Prince of Crows".
  • Secretly Dying: His suppressed psychic powers are killing him slowly, but he doesn't let that slow him down one bit.
  • Skull for a Head/ White Mask of Doom: Wears a skull faced helm in the manner of Talos.
  • Softspoken Sadist: All the more jarring given how much he pisses off his enemies.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Back on Nostramo, he would talk with crows and understand what they were saying back, even though they were Nearly Normal Animals.
  • The Captain: Commands the First Company of the Night Lords.
  • The Cynic: He's a pessimist, to say the least.
  • The Magnificent: "The Condemned" and "Prince of Crows". We learn why he got the latter in "Prince of Crows": As a child, he used to bring corpses for some crows to feed on, as their wings fluttering was the only thing that could keep his psyker induced headaches back long enough for him to sleep.
  • Tranquil Fury: While killing the man who beat Altani to death.
  • The Unsmile: It's described as "hooks tugging at the flesh of a corpse". Probably related to that antisocial personality disorder of his.
  • The Sociopath: Clear-cut case of antisocial personality disorder.
  • Troll: He will not miss the chance to dick with you For the Lulz, and he's extremely good at it. He even manages to piss off Lion El'Jonson, who is notoriously difficult to provoke.
  • Undying Loyalty: He breaks the block he's willingly put around his psyker powers to save his father and never orders the Atramentar to fight battles he can't or won't fight himself. When it comes to the latter, he seems unable to believe that him not going to his death at the Atramentar's side is something that could happen.
  • Warrior Poet: Of sorts. His exchange with Corswain implies a fondness for Nostraman poetry, and his sometimes flowery dialogue seems to reinforce that impression.
  • What Is This Feeling?: In Prince of Crows he's sometimes shown feeling faintest traces of something that most people would understand as emotions, but has trouble understanding what they might be or mean.

Var Jahan

Captain of the 27th Company, and a member of the Kyroptera.
  • All the Other Reindeer: Averted, unusually. No one makes an issue of his Terran heritage or his subtly different methods.
  • The Captain: Of the 27th Company.
  • Only Sane Man: He still holds more to the VII Ith Legion's old tactics of terror with a purpose, rather than the sadism which characterises his brothers.
    • He also recognises how far the Legion has gone when, with the situation already dire, his fellow commanders are plotting to kill one another.
  • Run or Die: He anticipates Sevatar's planned assassination of the Kyroptera's remaining members. Sevatar calls off the Atramentar in the nick of time as a result.
  • Skull for a Head: As per the Kyroptera's dress code.
  • Torture Technician: In a battle described in Massacre he leads a Night Lords force to conduct the psychological torture of an entire warzone. Notably, Sevatar considers him less of a murderer than a tactician, by Night Lords standards.

Gendor Skraivok

Captain of the 45th Company, known as the Painted Count
  • And I Must Scream: At the end of The Lost and the Damned, Raldoron beats Skraivok in a duel and kicks him off the walls of the Imperial Palace. As he's lying broken and bleeding on the ground, he cuts a deal with the daemon in his sword to spare his life. Unfortunately for him, this turns out to involve being dragged into the warp for "six times six hundred and sixty-six years" (almost four millennia) to learn the true meaning of pain.
  • The Captain: Of the 45th Company.
  • Klingon Promotion: He shoots his former commander Krukesh at the end of Pharos, then kills Captain Shang in a duel to take command of what's left of the VIII Legion.
  • Red Baron: The Painted Count.
  • The Starscream: As is common with the Night Lords, he ascends to command of what's left of the Legion by backstabbing his way up the ranks. It's also revealed that, prior to the Heresy, he was actively plotting with his Nostraman relatives to undermine Curze's authority and was building up a force of Night Lords that would be loyal only to him.
  • Villains Want Mercy: After getting utterly thrashed in a duel with Raldoron, Skraviok tries to surrender. The disgusted Blood Angel shows Skraviok the same mercy he had for his victims and throws the Painted Count from the wall.
    Skraivok: Wait, I give you my surrender. You beat me. I am your prisoner!
  • You Are in Command Now: Horus recognizes him as de facto commander of the Night Lords for the invasion of Terra, since Curze and Sevatar are both MIA and anyone else who could conceivably have held the job is dead.

     XII Legion: World Eaters 

The Legion
Number: XII
Original Name: War Hounds
Primarch: Angron

Formerly known as the War Hounds, the World Eaters are the brutal Twelfth Legion. During the early days of the Great Crusade, the XII Legion was comprised of aggressive recruits who had an affinity for close quarters assault, and were split up among expeditionary fleets to serve as shock troops. At this point, they were already known for being tenacious and ruthless, though they were also famed for their strong sense of brotherhood. Sadly, it was their Primarch Angron's return that kickstarted their deterioration. Angron neglected and mocked his gene-sons, even forcing them to kill each other when they failed to live up to his standards. Eventually, he had his Legionaries turned into a rabble of berserkers by having special implants called Butcher's Nails driven into their brains. The whole legion turned into a mob of savage, bloodthirsty brutes. The War Hounds also renamed themselves "World Eaters" to honor Angron's original army, the Eaters of Cities.

When Horus turned traitor, Angron needed little convincing to join him. The World Eaters participated in the battles of Isstvan III and V, and then joined with the Word Bearers to conduct the Shadow Crusade that would complete the Ruinstorm and trap the Ultramarines on the wrong side of the galaxy. Incidentally, Angron became a Daemon Primarch of Khorne at the climax of the campaign, and his Legion soon fell to Khorne. The World Eaters then went on a mindless campaign of slaughter across the galaxy despite Horus' summons, until the Iron Warriors ultimately brought them back under Horus' nominal control. Led by Angron, the World Eaters went on to fight at the Siege of Terra.

The World Eaters are defined by their unique implants, the Butcher's Nails, which turns them into savage berserkers who cannot enjoy anything but bloodshed. As a result, the whole Legion is made of warriors barely able to contain their rage out of combat, emulating Angron's gladiators through ritual battles in arenas but otherwise being left to their own devices by an apathetic Primarch. In battle, the World Eaters only charge straight into the enemy lines, their Nails forcing them to seek the quickest way to shed blood at the cost of discipline or any pretense at tactics. However, their savagery makes them among the most fearsome close quarters troops in the galaxy. During the Crusade and Heresy, the World Eaters wear white armour with blue pauldrons, though many of them are gradually repainting it red.

  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: The Butcher's Nails in their heads prevent any tactic more complex than "charge straight at the enemy and kill everything in sight".
  • Band of Brothers: Who the War Hounds used to be before meeting Angron, as they were noted for their particularly strong sense of brotherhood. Made all the more ironic as their gradual fall to Chaos destroyed that brotherhood first.
  • The Berserker: The Butcher's Nails make them unable to feel pretty much anything beyond anger and bloodlust, and they find it really hard to restrain themselves.
  • Blind Obedience: Honestly, it's a small wonder that they haven't refused to follow their Primarch. It is somewhat justified in that they have a tendency for strong loyalty, even if that loyalty would be misplaced. They seem to obey him without question even when they clearly know it's a bad idea they're getting into. Even the Librarians, openly hated by their brothers and primarch, remain loyal to Angron.
  • Blood Is the New Black: The World Eaters' color scheme was initially white and blue, and there's a suggestion that the newer red scheme isn't the result of paint.
    • Throughout their appearances in the series this escalates.
  • Blood Knight: All that matters to them is fighting.
  • Chained Heat: In their duels, they often fight two versus two, with pair of warriors on the same side being chained together.
  • Chain Pain: One of their more famous habits is chaining their weapons to their hands so that they'll never be lost in the heat of battle.
  • Chainsaw Good: Their signature weapon is a chainaxe.
  • Color Motif: Bone white with blue accents.
  • The Dreaded: Entire star systems would surrender unconditionally when they learned they would be facing the World Eaters, and at times even that wasn't enough to save them...
  • Fallen Hero: They used to be one of the nicest Legions out there, but Angron's arrival has turned them into a pack of violent, out-of-control monsters.
  • Foil: They're the Blood Angels reversed. The Revenant Legion was a collective of aimless brutes who mindlessly slaughtered anything that came near them. In many cases this included their own legionnaires, and the legion was on the path to ruin until they met Sanguinius, who reformed them into noble warrior-artisans. The War Hounds were one of the most revered legions, known for their close bonds of brotherhood and heroism, until they met Angron, who proceeded to drag the legion into hell, turning them into...well, everything that the Revenant Legion was.
  • Gladiator Games: Their in-Legion duels are heavily stylized to look like this, in honor of Angron's past as a gladiator on Nuceria. They fight in specially made cages and arenas covered in sand in which armorless legionaries can duel. Despite their bloodlust, the duels of the World Eaters are relatively cordial and there are rules to make them stop at first, second or third blood.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: They casually disregard any battle plans and tactics, preferring to rush the enemy en masse. The only one who cares is Kharn and he internally laments that his once disciplined legion has devolved into a berserker mob, also noting that an opposing force stands a good chance of obliterating them if the World Eaters don't break its ranks on their first charge.
  • Meaningful Rename: They were initially named the War Hounds, and renamed themselves "World Eaters" in yet another attempt to bond with their Primarch, whose first army was called the Eaters of Cities.
  • Mental Fusion: The Librarius of the World Eaters has developed a special technique in which several Librarians merge their consciousness and psychic power into a new temporary being named "the Communion" whose role is to reach Angron's consciousness whenever he's lost in his own bloodlust. The Communion is eventually killed after Angron ascends to become a Daemon Primarch, also killing the few Librarians who've survived thus far.
  • Mildly Military: In comparison to their fellows. Other Space Marines don't usually greet a superior with the news that they killed a battle-brother last night.
  • Psycho Serum: Not a serum, but the Butcher's Nails implant that each and every legionary has. It floods the brain with the urge for violence, and triggers the reward systems in the brain when violence is performed. Once the "user" starts this cycle, it's practically impossible to reverse it or heal it without killing him. It also has the nasty side-effect of occasionally causing the users to go insane or lapse into a permanent berserk rage, though it's likely that this was intentional. It started out as a gladiator control device on Nuceria, but Angron incorporated the Nails into the fabric of his legion against the Emperor's orders. The legionaries went along with it in an effort to bond with Angron, but he still rejected them. Later traitor forces either used the implant or had a blessing from Khorne which replicated its effects to create berserkers.
  • Timed Mission: In the novel Angron: Slave of Nuceria, it is shown that Angron gives his Legion 31 hours to conquer every world they invade, referencing how Angron and his fellow slaves once conquered a city in 31 hours (this being the length of a day on his homeworld of Nuceria). If the timer reaches zero, they are to withdraw and count the campaign as a defeat.
  • Unstoppable Rage: The only way to stop a Nails-taken World Eater is to kill him dead, nothing else works.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Their relationship with Angron screams this from miles away. Pretty much everything - from adopting gladiator motifs through their rename and taking on the Butcher's Nails and up to siding with Horus - is done in hopes of finally winning their gene-sire's affection. It doesn't work.
  • Where I Was Born and Razed: They manually kill every single person on Nuceria after Angron finds out that he's treated as a villain and a coward by his homeworld.

I'm not so much angry, as I am seething with rage.
Captain of the 8th Assault Company of the World Eaters and Angron's equerry, he's one of the few people to manage keeping his Nails in check.
  • Ax-Crazy: Subverted. Because of the Butcher's Nails, he's often prone to this, but he's also known for being one of the few that can actually keep others from the Legion (including Angron) from going all out to a point of utter stupidity (most of the time, anyway). As the Heresy continues, he is also one of the few World Eaters who can keep himself relatively sane in spite of Khorne's influence.
  • Berserk Button: Pity. A captive Thousand Son offers to help removes his implants and undo the damage. Khârn beats him to death.
  • The Berserker: Interestingly enough, he resents it. It's very hard to face an entire force of highly trained and professional Astartes when your Legion is literally running everywhere without communicating with each other.
  • Blood Is the New Black: By the time the Iron Warriors come to round up the World Eaters and bring them to Ullanor, Kharn is slathered from head to toe in gore.
  • The Captain: Commands the Eighth Assault Company, though he's on par with the First Captains of the other Legions.
  • The Consigliere: The first captain not to get killed by Angron after the latter's reunited with the Legion, who tries to quench his lord's fury and turn it to more productive work. Not that it helps, but at least he tries.
  • Cyborg: Like all World Eaters, he has the Butcher's Nails driven into his brain.
  • Deadpan Snarker: His internal monologue sometimes has shades of this, coupled with copious amounts of Black Humour, presumably as a way of dealing with harsh reality.
  • Defiant to the End: By the time Sigismund deals the final blow, Kharn's been hacked to pieces, lost his arms and even the reactor in his armor is burned out, but he still has enough to spit his last words before the sword falls.
  • Does Not Like Magic: While he's unusually civil to his own Librarians, he despises the Word Bearers' invocations and the Thousand Sons. It doesn't help that psychic powers don't mix well with the Butcher's Nails.
  • Fatal Flaw: Loyalty, ironically enough. His dedication to his primarch leads to him accepting the Butcher's Nails and betraying the Emperor along with the rest of the legion.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Ends up being the body in question when he tries to speak with Angron for the first time.
  • Heel Realization: In Warhawk, during his final duel with Sigismund, Kharn rages against the cold, pitiless, and remorseless ghost his old friend has become, only to finally understand that this is what the Heresy has turned the Imperium into and that for all that the World Eaters blamed Nuceria, the Imperium, the Emperor, and anything else they could for their actions, it was their own fault all along.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Argel Tal. When he dies, Kharn goes into a very uncharacteristic Tranquil Fury and beats the hell out of Erebus.
  • Horrifying the Horror: By the Siege of Terra, Kharn is a Berserker of Khorne and a Chaos Marine through and through, but when he has a vision of the future Black Templars as soul-dead warriors marching from bleak fortresses during his duel with Sigismund in Warhawk he's utterly horrified by what he sees and rages against it to the end.
  • Missing Time: Suffers from this whenever the Nails overwhelm him, with implication being that the time he doesn't remember is spent slaughtering things. His fellow World Eaters are understanding of this, as it happens to them too.
  • Number Two: Got the position by being the first captain to survive his initial meeting with Angron.
  • Odd Friendship: With Argel Tal. An atheistic warrior and a religious zealot.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: He's unusually nasty on Prospero, which is most likely a result of the planet's immersion in the Warp. He ends up snapping and murdering the person he's trying to interrogate.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Tries to be this for the World Eaters, as Angron isn't eager to take the place.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: He tries to be the Blue Oni to his gene-sire, but has troubles with it.
  • Tranquil Fury: He's cool as a cucumber the entire time he's pummeling Erebus in their duel. Erebus himself notes that there's no angry look, no accusations, or anything betraying anger, just a bored expression as Kharn tries to kill him.
    Kharn: (after flattening Erebus again) "Get. Up."
  • Unstoppable Rage: Courtesy of the Butcher's Nails. He will. Not. Stop. It is said that by the end of the Siege of Terra, he had killed one million people.
  • White Sheep:
    • Played with. Kharn is one of the few genuinely nice and caring World Eaters, and is typically calm and rational to a degree that's a little disturbing considering those he's surrounded by.
    • Then again, when he goes into battle, he becomes as furious and berserk as any other World Eater. Possibly more so.
    • On Prospero he sets out to torture a Thousand Son and bludgeons him to death. Being on a world soaked in the Warp and up close with a psyker probably didn't help, though.


The undisputed champion of the World Eaters' fighting pits. He leads the Triarii, a company intended to guard their flagship.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: In stark contrast with Khârn, Delvarus is very competitive and proud of it.
  • Ax-Crazy: His response to a quite trivial shot to the face (it's a mortal's laspistol) is to try and gun down the shooter, who is actually his superior officer.
  • Cruel Mercy: Is served some by Kargos.
  • Epic Flail: Wields a "meteor hammer".
  • Failsafe Failure: The leader of the company that guards the Conqueror, but he leads them to fight on the surface while the Conqueror gets boarded.
  • Gladiator Games: He's the best of the World Eaters at these.
  • Go to Your Room!!: Hilariously, Lotara does this to him.
  • Humiliation Conga: Is served one for abandoning the Conqueror to go fight. First Lotara shoots him in the face, then Esca intervenes when he tries to retaliate. Then Kargos openly mocks him before Lotara delivers a "Reason You Suck" Speech and confines him to his quarters. And then in the fighting pits he is challenged again and again until he is beaten in a death match, and his opponent refuses to kill him.
  • Jerkass: Abandons his post and gets thousands of people killed, and shows no contrition over it.
  • Saved by Canon: He ends up as part of the Black Legion.
  • Token Minority: Perhaps not within his Legion, but black Astartes characters are pretty rare.
  • Wild Hair: In stark contrast to the rest of the World Eaters, who keep theirs short or even shave it so as not to tangle it up with the Nails. Delvarus keeps it long as a point of pride.

Macer Varren
Even mangy attack dogs have their loyalties.
Captain of the 12th Company of the World Eaters. Varren defects from the Legion after Istvaan III, commandeers the frigate Daggerline and flees to Terra, where he's recruited by Nathaniel Garro to become one of the first Knight-Errants of Malcador, the basis of the future Grey Knights and the Inquisition.
  • BFS: Varren's weapon of choice is a two-handed power sword.
  • Big "NO!": Varren delivers one upon learning that the traitor Hakim has had the rest of his fellow loyalist World Eaters murdered.
  • Brutal Honesty: Most agree that Varren must be loyal because he's too straightforward to keep secrets.
    "I believe Macer Varren is an honest soul. He's too blunt and forthright to hide any stripe of duplicity".
  • Continuity Nod: Characters note the similarity between Varren's flight from Istvaan III aboard the Daggerline to Garro's own escape aboard the Eisenstein.
  • Deadpan Snarker: And how...
  • Death Seeker: After learning that his erstwhile ally Captain Hakim of the White Scars and his men are in league with Horus and have used his trust to get close enough to infiltrate Terra, as well as having murdered the remainder of Varren's men as well as their compatriot, Captain Rakatio of the Emperor's Children and his men, and that he dismissed what was Chaotic corruption as merely company traditions from Chogoris, Varren decides the only way to make amends for his mistake is to hunt down and kill every last one of the White Scars, even if it costs his life in the process.
    Garro: I know your pain, I know you want vengeance, but we must pass on the truth of what is happening here!
    Varren: Then you go; take the psyker and flee. I will stalk the halls of this ship until I've found and murdered every last one of these bastards!
    Rubio: You won't last long on your own; they outnumber us three to one! And if Hakim has rallied the Daggerline crew to their side, told them we are the traitors-!
    Varren: I care nothing for odds! I am the Eater of World's gladiator son! I will stand, and fight, and avenge!
    Garro: And DIE?!
    Varren: Without hesitation!
  • Dying as Yourself: Having been killed and possessed by the daemonic Lord of Flies, Varren regains enough control over his body to grab and detonate a belt of grenades, choosing to die rather than let the daemon keep using him as a puppet.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Varren's feelings on the warrior lodges within the Legions. He makes it plain he thought it folly even before it became clear the Traitor Legions were using such organisations to determine who would side with Horus and weed out those loyal to the Emperor. He was very right about this.
    Garro: What do you know of the lodges?
    Varren: That idiocy with the Davinites?! A pointless thing; I forbade my men to participate in them. Secretive meetings in shadowed alcoves are for the fops of the Imperial court, not Space Marines!
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Well, he is a World Eater.
  • Killed Off for Real: Dies from a Neck Snap at the hands of the Lord of Flies, then blows himself up with a belt of grenades to keep the daemon from possessing him.
  • Reluctant Ruler: Varren takes leadership of the Daggerline refugee flotilla, but feels completely unsuited to leading it, given the knowledge that thousands of lives are hinging on his decisions.
    Varren: I was not cut out to lead like this, Garro; I am a killer, a meat-cutter, not a broodmare struggling to protect a clutch of weak and feeble-minded runts! I lead warriors, not common folk!
  • Roaring Rampageof Revenge: After Hakim taunts Varren with the knowledge his men are dead and orders a squad of his White Scars to kill Varren, Garro and Rubio, Varren goes berserk and hurls himself into the middle of the squad. By the time Garro and Rubio react to support him, Varren has already killed almost half the enemy squad by himself.
  • Taking You with Me: In Sword of Truth, Varren makes it plain he's willing to die, as long as he can take down the traitors who murdered his men with him.
    Varren: You may have my life, traitor; I give it freely! You need only meet the price!
    Hakim: Name it!
    Varren: You die FIRST!
  • The Berserker: Like all World Eaters, he has it as his hat.
  • Token Good Teammate: Given that most of the other Legions regard the World Eaters as Ax-Crazy lunatics whose only concept of strategy is to just hurl themselves at the enemy and who are infamous for killing any- and everything that gets in their path, it says quite a lot that many (including Nathaniel Garro, Saul Tarvitz and Garviel Loken) consider Varren an honourable man amongst a legion of blood-frenzied butchers.
    Khorarinn: You know him?
    Garro: Yes sir, by reputation. A company captain with a fearsome battle record. A frequent victor in the gladiatorial pits; a hard fighter, but said to be honourable with it.
    Rubio: A rare accolade for one of Angron's berserkers.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Touched on, mixed with a bit of Worthy Opponent, in Sword of Truth regarding Varren's partnership with Captain Rakatio, a Captain of the Emperor's Children who flees with him rather than side with the rest of his Traitor Legion. When Garro (who has been fed information that Rakatio is working as a spy for Fulgrim and Horus) questions Varren about Rakatio's loyalties, despite the fact the pair comes from two diametrically opposed Legions, Varren makes clear his thoughts on the matter:
    Garro: What of Rakatio? Does he share that sentiment?
    Varren: Do I trust him, you mean? Like all of the Emperor's Children, he's a peacock, but put a sword in his hand and he becomes a hurricane of blades. I would be dead at least a dozen times over if not for Rakatio; he found us a way out from Istvaan, lost plenty of his men doing it too. Yes, he shed blood for me- I trust him.
  • Worth Living For: Garro and Rubio break Varren out of his Death Seeker moment after the murders of his men aboard the Daggerline by traitor White Scars by offering him the chance to fulfil a greater revenge on those responsible for the Heresy and the destruction of his world.
    Rubio: Hakim will have to face his crimes.
    Varren: He'll do that at the tip of my sword!
    Garro: And will it be enough, Varren?! Your life for his?! I can offer you the chance to carry your vengeance forward, to Horus, to Angron! But you must live for it!


The former Legion Master (the rank that the Primarchs replaced upon their rediscovery) of the XII Legion, now entombed in a Dreadnought.
  • Defector from Decadence: Reaches out to the Librarians and attacks Lorgar in a bid to disrupt Angron's ascension.
  • Hates Being Touched: He is not at all happy with Vel Kheredur's attentions to his ironform. Vel Kheredur's use of pronouns probably doesn't help matters.
  • Man in the Machine: As is to be expected.
  • Only Sane Man: Having "died" before Angron was found, he was neither killed by him nor had the Butcher's Nails implanted.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Was stored in what was essentially a closet aboard the Conqueror.
  • Sealed Badass in a Can: He has spent most of the last several decades slumbering in the depths of the Conqueror.
  • The Stoic: His coping mechanism as he watches his Legion degenerate.
  • That Man Is Dead: He's quite blunt about it.
  • Tranquil Fury: This dominates his manner when fighting, in stark contrast to his brothers both living and interred.

     XIV Legion: Death Guard 

The Legion
Number: XIV
Original Name: Dusk Raiders
Primarch: Mortarion

Formerly known as the Dusk Raiders, the Death Guard are the grim Fourteenth Legion. The Legion was built on recruits from the tribes of Albia and adopted the role of heavy infantry, taking on operations in the most inhospitable theaters of war because of their exceptional toughness. They were also famed for their habit of striking the enemy at sunset, from whence they derived their original name. When Mortarion was found on Barbarus, the Primarch renamed them the Death Guard and went on to join his brothers in the Great Crusade.

When the Horus Heresy broke out, Mortarion sided with Horus because he personally hated the Emperor and believed him to be a hypocritical tyrant. The Death Guard were purged of loyalist elements on Isstvan III, then participated in the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V. The Death Guard most notably had to fight the White Scars after Jaghatai Khan met Mortarion and rejected his proposal to join Horus. The Death Guard was subsequently assigned to chase down the White Scars and though they almost cornered their target, the Fifth Legion managed to flee through the Webway. When Horus launched his final assault on the Sol System, the Death Guard went toward the capital world as a single fleet, but were trapped in the Warp by Captain Calas Typhon, who had already sworn himself to Nurgle. The Death Guard had to pledge themselves to the god of decay to escape. The Legion thus participates in the Siege of Terra as Plague Marines.

The Death Guard were originally defenders of humanity, but their contempt for ordinary humans grew as the Great Crusade progressed. The Legion is made up of dour, professional Legionaries who pride themselves on being the toughest of Space Marines. Being so tough, the Death Guard were good at fighting in hazardous environments, and used slow, inexorable waves of heavy infantry to grind the enemy down. On the other hand, they can be outmaneuvered and their simple stratagems turned against them. The Death Guard typically wear marble-white armor with olive-green pauldrons and brass trim.

  • Acquired Poison Immunity: Thanks to their homeworld, they're even more resistant to poisons and toxic gasses than other Astartes.
  • Color Motif: Muddy green.
  • Deadly Gas: Well-known for proudly using this, whereas other legions consider the use of chemical weapons shameful.
  • Deal with the Devil: They make one with Nurgle to stop their torture.
  • Does Not Like Magic: They're one of the most vehemently anti-psyker chapters, with only the Rout hating magic more.
  • Evil Counterpart: They're like dark mirrors of the Salamanders. Both legions have Primarchs that are notoriously hard to kill, both have slow yet hard-hitting styles of combat, 7 as a holy number, 7 companies and they both have green colouring to boot. The difference is that while the Death Guard are prejudiced towards Terrans and don't give a shit about people in general, the Salamanders are the legion most dedicated to protecting humanity. Another difference is whereas the Death Guard are the legion which is most well-known for using Destroyer squads, the Salamanders are the legion which banned them outright, replacing them with Pyroclasts. The Death Guard are known for wearing utilitarian, yet ugly, neglected armor, whereas Salamanders wear beautifully crafted designs. Mortarion, on the tabletop, is a walking tank that's nearly invulnerable to poison and fleshbane weapons, with your best chance of taking him down being massed Melta and Plasma fire. Vulkan on the other hand is a walking tank that literally cannot be hurt with regular plasma guns and larger Melta and Plasma weapons only rarely do more than scuff his armor, but is best handled using poisoned or fleshbane weapons.
  • Fantastic Racism: After Mortarion's arrival and the Legion starting to recruit from Barbarus, a lot of prejudice against Terrans cropped up, to the point that Throneworld-born form the majority of loyalist Death Guards.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: Their iconic appearance is that of Astartes in helmets modified to look more like gas masks.
  • Kill It with Fire: The big difference between them and the Salamanders in this respect is that the Salamanders use regular fire, while the Death Guard use significantly less pleasant chemicals; in the Horus Heresy tabletop, they have access to Chem-Munitions for their flamers.
  • Mighty Glacier: Their hat. Mixed with some Jack of All Trades. They're unstoppable and able to soak up a lot of damage, but slow. They also had a lot of Terminator armour, making them especially suited to high-risk boarding and close-quarter operations such as space hulk clearance. Mortarion ensured that they could fight under any circumstances and with every weapon. The result is that they're one of the most disciplined and well-trained legions on either side of the conflict.
  • Out of Focus: While other Legions on both sides have entire story arcs dedicated to them, the Death Guard is usually just an addition to someone else's story, to the point that fans call them under-characterized. They get the beginning of The Flight of the Eisenstein (which is more about the Knights-Errant/Terra characters) and part of Scars (which stars the White Scars), as well as Path of Heaven.
    • Back for the Finale: The very last book in the series before the Siege of Terra, The Buried Dagger, put them into focus. Fitting, since it details the voyage to Terra that led them into Nurgle's grasp.
  • Sinister Scythe: Their signature weapon, despite not being used as often as you might think. On the tabletop, a Deathshroud power scythe is a surprisingly scary weapon capable of ripping open a Terminator's armour with relative ease.
  • The Unfettered: The Death Guard was extremely ruthless under Mortarion's leadership, and they were noted for easily using extreme weapons from cyclonic torpedoes to virus bombs on worlds who wouldn't comply.
  • Victory by Endurance: Death Guard wage war by taking hit after hit after hit. Of note, in the tabletop game, both of their special units are heavily armoured Terminator variants.

Calas Typhon
I'm a bad friend. A really bad friend.
1st Captain of the Death Guard, advisor to the Primarch Mortarion and secretly a follower of Chaos.
  • Continuity Nod: Typhon will go on to become Typhus, Herald of Nurgle.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: While Typhon appears to serve Mortarion's will, in truth he has long been a follower of Chaos and has been steadily manipulating his Primarch into doing the same.
  • Evil Chancellor: Manipulates his sire into falling to Chaos.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Typhon has always been a psyker, but had to keep such powers hidden for years because of his Primarch's dislike for their kind.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Calas is a half-breed between his human mother and an Overlord father. He suffered from a good deal of prejudice from the human people of Barbarus but this has become irrelevant when he became a Legionary.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Anybody that knows about his 40k incarnation, Typhus the Herald, will also know that Typhon betrayed his father and Legion to Nurgle before the Heresy reached its high point. In the Heresy, it's still yet to occur and Typhus's betrayal is something the authors are being coy about because the plot demands his subtlety.
  • Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: Typhon has been a long-time friend of First Chaplain Erebus of the Word Bearers. It's implied Erebus was the one who introduced Typhon to the concept of Chaos and convinced him that worshipping the Chaos Gods was a road to power.
  • One-Winged Angel: Typhon's transformation into Typhus and host of the Destroyer Hive.
  • Number Two: Mortarion's chief advisor.
  • Sinister Scythe: Wields a power scythe, in imitation of his master.
  • The Corrupter: Turns Mortarion to Chaos.
  • The Dragon: To Mortarion. As a rebel leader, he used to be The Lancer to Mortarion instead.
  • The Starscream: In Flight of the Eisenstein, it's indicated that Typhon resents having to pander to Mortarion's growing understanding of Chaos, when he and others like Erebus and Kor Phaeron have known about the Ruinous Powers for years and have to act like they are learning from their Primarchs when in truth their knowledge of Chaos is far greater. Later in the Heresy, he takes a significant chunk of the Death Guard fleet and ditches Mortarion to do his own thing, mightily pissing off the Death Lord.

Nathaniel Garro
The Knight In Shining Armour. The first of what will eventually be many.
A loyalist Death Guard and battle-captain of the Legion's Seventh Grand Company, he eventually becomes one of the first Knights-Errant of Malcador, the basis of the future Grey Knights and the Inquisition.
  • All the Other Reindeer: Him being Terran-born has caused some tensions with the Barbarusian portion of Death Guard.
  • Badass Boast: Gives one to Malcador while demanding that he be given a purpose in the war against Horus:
    Garro: I am an Astartes, but now I am a brother without a Legion. Alone, I stand unbroken amid all the oaths that lie shattered around me. I am the Emperor's will, but I am nothing if He will not task me!
  • BFS: Garro's weapon of choice is his two-handed power sword Libertas. It's huge even by Astartes standards.
  • Brass Balls: It helps that he can back them up with action, but it takes a special kind of courage to call out Rogal Dorn right in his face AFTER Dorn had sent him flying and dislocated his jaw with a 'warning punch'.
  • Bring News Back: He's the one to tell the loyalists what is happening.
  • Cool Sword: A Paragon Blade that's even older than him.
  • Crisis of Faith: Undergoes one because of the strain his Legion's betrayal and Malcador's underhanded tactics put him through, and it takes a visit to Keeler to pull him out and return a sense of purpose to him.
  • Defector from Decadence: Like most loyalists in the Traitor Legions. He was one of the few Terran-born Astartes in the Death Guard by the time the Heresy happened, which causes him to defect.
  • Herald:
    • He's the one to bring the news of Horus' treachery to Terra.
    • Later, collecting Knights Errant for Malcador, he brings the Call to Adventure to several Astartes.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: He dies fighting Mortarion during the Siege of Terra in order to give Euphrati Keeler a chance to escape.
  • Humble Hero: His accomplishments are due to the Emperor, not himself.
  • Knight Errant: Not only is he the first, but he eventually goes through the galaxy to find others, such as Tylos Rubio and Macer Varren.
  • The Last DJ: As a Terran-born veteran who remembers what the XIV Legion was like prior to Mortarion's rediscovery, Garro represents one of the last vestiges of the old Dusk Raiders and strives to keep the old traditions alive, which frustrates the post-Mortarion members of the Death Guard to no end. Nevertheless, his skill and experience keep him in command of the Seventh Great Company, and he's so well respected within and without the Legion that Mortarion makes a sustained effort to turn him to the traitors' side, though he tasks Ignatius Grulgor with killing him when he realizes that it's not going to work.
  • Odd Friendship: With the Emperor's Children captain Saul Tarvitz, a friendship which is strong enough for Garro to believe Saul when he tells him of the traitors' plans for Istvaan III.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: During his command aboard the Eisenstein during the battle of Istvaan III and the subsequent journey to Terra, he makes many difficult and controversial decisions. Some of his own men openly question or criticize his judgement, his apothecary even drawing a bolter on him, but Garro quickly forgives his detractors after a stern word. Most ranking Astartes would at the very least censure a subordinate for merely muttering out of turn, and drawing a weapon on any other captain would likely end in discharge if not death. Garro understands the intense stress and confusion his men are under, and is lenient with them panicking or losing their temper.
    • He also handles the news that men in his own company are lodge members very well. He is staunchly opposed to the lodges, and enraged that his men would go behind his back to join them, but says he will not force anyone to leave the lodge. He only warns them that it will be difficult them to regain his trust, should they wish to stay in his company.
  • Releasing from the Promise: Malcador frees him from his Oath as a Knight Errant when the final candidates for the first Grey Knights are selected, with Garro instead partaking in the Siege of Terra.
  • Religious Bruiser: Converts to Emperor-worship as the Heresy goes on, although he keeps it secret from his fellow Knights.
  • The Captain: His technical rank in the Legiones Astartes (though his rank is not that of a company captain by closer to a Lord Commander), and his function when he takes over Eisenstein.
  • Token Good Teammate: One of the very few Death Guard officers to remain loyal.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: He calls out Rogal Dorn for being blind to the truth about Horus out of brotherly love and nearly gets himself killed for it.

Ignatius Grulgor
Don't get too close. I think I've caught a bug or something.
Captain of the Death Guard's 2nd Company, Grulgor sides with the majority of the Death Guard when they rise up with Horus against the Emperor. He goes on to become one of the Death Guard's most powerful champions as one of the first Plague Marines.
  • Arch-Enemy: To Nathaniel Garro. Both men hate each other; Garro sees Grulgor as a glory-hunting braggart, while Grulgor considers Garro a Holier Than Thou martinet who looks down on the rest of the Legion because he came from Terra and had fought in the Death Guard (as the Dusk Raiders) before the Legion was reunited with its Primarch.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Gets a promotion to a Daemon Prince.
  • Back from the Dead: Twice; once due to Nurgle's blessing, the other time when Mortarion sacrifices the Deathshroud to Nurgle.
  • Came Back Strong: How Grulgor regards his resurrection by Nurgle as one of the first Plague Marines.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: During a firefight between Garro's loyalists and Grulgor's traitors aboard the gunnery decks of the Eisenstein, a stray bullet damages one of the stored bio-weapons intended for the virus bombing of Istvaan III. Garro and most of his men manage to escape, but Grulgor and his followers die as the Life-Eater virus begins to instantly decompose them, before being exposed to the vacuum of space when Garro orders to the deck vented to purge the virus. Unfortunately for Garro, that is not the end of it...
  • The Dragon: To Calas Typhon. Typhon has no great regard for him, but recognises Grulgor's use as an attack dog.
  • I Lied: In The Buried Dagger, Mortarion orders Grulgor to kill Typhon for leaving the Death Guard stranded in the Warp, but Grulgor refuses, despite having previously claimed he was compelled to follow Mortarion's orders, stating that his loyalty to Nurgle supercedes his Primarch's commands. Granted, Grulgor actually did kill Typhon, only for Nurgle's power to resurrect the latter almost instantaneously.
  • Jerkass: There's pretty much nothing nice in this guy.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While Typhon doesn't care for Grulgor, he recognises Grulgor's point that Garro is too loyal to the Emperor to be turned.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: After Typhon orders Grulgor to commence the virus bombing of Istvaan III and to kill Garro and his men if they try to interfere, the Eisenstein goes silent for hours without firing a shot, giving only very basic explanations of weapon and engine malfunctions for its actions. This is the first sign to Typhon that something is wrong, since he knows that had Grulgor succeeded in murdering Garro, he would not cease bragging about it.
  • Only I Can Kill Him: The main reason Typhon is able to get Grulgor on his side is by letting him fulfil, when the time comes, his long-held desire to kill Garro.
  • Red Baron: Eater of Lives.
  • Walking Wasteland: As a champion of Nurgle, he has this as something of a basic skill, as the people of Molech find out the hard way.

Crysos Morturg

Once, he was a leader of Destroyer squads in the Death Guard. After Istvaan III, he is... something else.
  • All the Other Reindeer: If you thought the Terran Death Guard had it bad, Morturg isn't even from there, let alone Barbarus. Once his psyker powers manifested, his Legion's Fantastic Racism saw him shunted out of his prestigious command into the Destroyer squads, which was both an insult and a death sentence.
  • Armour-Piercing Question: He stops Khorak in his tracks when he shows that he recognises the other warrior as a former member of the Deathshroud.
    Morturg: "You wear the armor and you carry the scythe. Has your master given you leave to have a mind of your own, then?"
  • Biomanipulation: He was brought back from the dead thanks to this, and it lets him survive a bolter round to the face.
  • Came Back Wrong: He’s the product of both forbidden technology and the sorcery his Legion once abhorred.
  • Canon Immigrant: Of sorts. He appeared in the very first Forge World book on the Heresy, and more recently appeared in a Black Library short story.
  • Cyborg: He's been put back together by a Mechanicum tech-priest.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: After killing Khorak and the other renegade Deathshroud, he loses the feeling that fighting his former brothers has any real meaning. This leads him to set a course for Terra.
  • Improvised Armour: As a Blackshield, he has to make do, and in any case, he's mostly made of bionics.
  • Made of Iron: Quite literally, and most of his body at that.
    • He also retains the Death Guard resistance to toxins. This tips off Khorak that Morturg is a former battle-brother of his.
  • Paint It Black: A heroic example; he has repainted his armor to signal that he has cut ties with the Death Guard.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Once his psychic abilities had manifested, he was immediately shunted into the XIV Legion's Destroyer corps, which was effectively a death sentence given the toxicity of their weapons.
  • Rebel Leader: Commands a warband of Astartes assembled from Death Guard loyalists, survivors of the Drop Site Massacre, and others with no clear origin.
  • Token Good Teammate: He is one of the few Death Guard who remain resolutely committed to fighting for the Throne.
  • Undying Loyalty: Literally.
  • Wham Line: subverted. When Khorak wonders how Morturg survived Istvaan III, Morturg responds: "Do not be foolish. No one survived." Khorak fails to realise that Morturg is speaking literally.


A former Deathshroud Terminator, Khorak breaks with his master after Molech and strikes out alone.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Of a sort. He abandons Mortarion when the primarch uses sorcery on Molech, regarding this as a greater betrayal than what he saw on Istvaan III.
  • Does Not Like Magic: Even more than Mortarion. When Mortarion turns to using sorcery, Khorak defects.
  • Honour Before Reason: He chooses to attack Morturg for being a psyker, even though he's abandoned the master who taught him to hate such beings. As he's surrounded by Morturg's vigilant comrades, it gets him shredded by massed bolter fire.
  • Large and in Charge: His Terminator armour means he's larger than any of his fellow renegades.
  • Made of Iron: Spends much of Blackshield hiking across a toxic world, pondering how only his kind could endure such a hostile environment. When he dies, it takes dozens of Space Marines unloading their guns into him at close range, and he still musters a parting verbal shot at Morturg.
  • Sinister Scythe: He might have abandoned his Deathshroud oaths, but he kept the traditional scythe.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Morturg regards his death as this.
  • Take Away Their Name: As part of the Deathshroud, he gave up his name. Taking back his name is the capstone on abandoning Mortarion.
  • The Voiceless: Formerly. As with his name, he gave up his voice to join the Deathshroud, and took it back when deserting.

     XV Legion: Thousand Sons 

The Legion
Number: XV
Original Name: Unknown
Primarch: Magnus
The Thousand Sons are the psychically gifted Fifteenth Legion. Originally, the Thousand Sons weren't particularly distinct from the other Legions, except that warp-storms occurred at the moment of their geneseed's conception. Shortly after their first deployments, a great part of the Thousand Sons developed psychic abilities which made them extremely powerful. This gift, however, came with a nasty downside: a curse known as the Flesh Change, which caused afflicted legionaries to mutate into Chaos Spawn. Reduced to a mere thousand by the time Magnus was found on Prospero, the Emperor renamed them the Thousand Sons and Magnus cured his Legion through a secret procedure. Now in control of their psychic abilities and taught new tricks by Magnus, the Thousand Son became a powerful Legion despite their reduced number. At the same time, many in the Imperium began to distrust psykers and moved to censure the Legion. After the Edict of Nikaea, all psykers were forbidden to practice their powers and the Thousand Sons were stuck on Prospero.

Magnus learned early of Horus' rebellion. He first attempted to stop Erebus from corrupting Horus on Davin. When that failed, Magnus tried to warn the Emperor, but his psychic projection spell destroyed the Emperor's Webway project, causing the Emperor to dismiss him and order Leman Russ and the Space Wolves to arrest him and bring him to Terra. Horus took the opportunity to get rid of him by modifying the Vlka Fenryka's orders to have the Thousand Sons exterminated. Prospero was burned, the Legion almost exterminated, and Magnus's soul was split into several shards, dispersed across the galaxy and even through time. Most of the survivors were transported to a daemon world, the future "Planet of Sorcerers". The Thousand Sons participated little in the Horus Heresy as they tried to remake their Primarch. However, the Thousand Sons eventually joined Horus' forces in time for the Siege of Terra.

The Thousand Sons can be seen as a Legion of scholar warriors, as deadly as they were enlightened. Influenced by Prospero's obsession with preserving knowledge and being confident in their psychic abilities, the Thousand Sons lived and fought to learn more, developing highly mystical habits to master their powers. At the same time, they were confident that they could enlighten their fellow citizens even further. However, they were also confident, openly dealing with daemons while believing them to be harmless. In battle, the Legion's strength is concentrated in their high number of powerful psykers whose abilities alone can influence the tide of a battle, compensating for their small number. The Thousand Sons wear bright red armour with gold trim.
  • Animal Motifs: Their cults use birds as symbols. For instance, the Corvidae is symbolized by crows, while the Pyrae is symbolized by a fiery phoenix.
  • Balkanize Me: After the Burning of Prospero, they split into many different groups, with some remaining neutral with Magnus on Sortarius, but many lending their services to the traitors and some even remaining loyal to the Imperium.
  • Call-Forward: A seer trying to discover the eventual fate of the Thousand Sons mentions a "Raven of Blood" in their ramblings. This is likely a reference to the future Blood Ravens Chapter, whose mysterious origins and psychic aptitude strongly hint at them being a Thousand Sons successor chapter. Also notable is the Thousand Sons' Corvidae cult, which had a raven head emblem and conveniently departed Prospero shortly before it was destroyed.
  • Color Motif: Their armour during this point of their history is red, which could have been chozen to signify their passion and optimism towards the Imperium and their craft. After Prospero, they would take to painting their armor blue to symbolize the complete change in temperament or their melancholy at their betrayal and lost home. This also mirrors the change in Horrors of Tzeentch, which start out as an upbeat and enthusiastic pink horrors, but when cut down change into two blue horrors, which are grumpy and sullen.
  • Cosmic Plaything: In the events leading up to the Fall of Prospero, they just couldn't catch a break. That's what happens when the god of schemers takes an interest in you.
  • Cultured Badass: They're philosophers, study psykery as an academic subject, and can have long debates as part of their training. They're also into artistic pursuits, and Ahriman even makes his own wine.
  • Dark Secret: The same flaw that turns many of them into psykers brings on the so-called Flesh Change, turning the Sons into mutated monsters.
  • Doomed by Canon: Thanks to the Rubric of Ahriman, in the future all non-psychic members of the Legion will turn into mindless Rubric Marines.
  • Doomed Hometown: Prospero, thanks to the Wolves being somewhat too... eager in fulfilling their assignment.
  • Fallen Hero: In a slightly different way to the other Traitor Legions that could have honestly been called heroic at one point. Magnus was one of the Emperor's most loyal sons, but he was forced into a situation where he would have had to choose to die loyally or survive as a traitor. For the sake of his legion, he chose the latter.
  • Familiar: Each senior legionary had a daemon known as a "tutelary" that followed them around and acted as a focus for their powers. It is unknown if these were daemons of Tzeentch manipulating the legion or if the legionaries had somehow created daemons of themselves. The tutelaries never actually betray any of the Thousand Sons, they just exaggerate the orders that they are given to the point of insanity.
  • Fatal Flaw: Hubris. The Sons' main downfall comes from the fact that they were so certain they knew better and had more valid information than anybody else meant they were blind to their own blind spots and dangerously naive in certain respects. They believed that the warp, though powerful and wild, was a force that was utterly agnostic to good and evil and could be controlled by a sufficiently disciplined mind, making them overly hopeful and optimistic towards its nature.
    • Magnus's Icarus moment came when he used ritual sorcery to warn the Emperor of Horus's betrayal from Prospero, right up until he found a capillary of the Webway blocking his path. Magnus (with a little help from Tzeentch) used so much power to break through that the psychic backlash caused extensive damage on Earth, to the point that it wrecked the Emperor's Webway project.note  Immediately realizing what he had done, Magnus fled from the Emperor out of shame without having delivered his warning, earning him the wrath of both Horus and the Emperor. The Wolves were as much a pawn of a plan of Tzeentch's, enacted by Horus, as much as Magnus was.
  • Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: They claim to have mastery over Warp and to understand it better than anyone else... but for Emperor's sake, they keep daemons as familiars and don't know about it.
  • Mage Species: Prospero and by extension the Thousand Sons were an entirely psychic society, something that's practically unheard of outside of the Eldar. The fact that their society nearly collapsed before Magnus's arrival not being due to mutation, madness, or daemons, but to psychneuein, a malignant fauna, was an enormous achievement for a human society.
  • Magic Knight: The psykers of the Legion are still trained in the use of bolters and other close-quarter weapons. Their relative lack of training is compensated by their psychic powers who give them an edge that no amount of training can match.
  • Meaningful Name/Non-Indicative Name: After the Primarchs were snatched away and the Emperor decided to found the Legions without them, he named the Thousand Sons although there were many more of them. Over time, attrition from battle and the flesh change reduced them to a thousand when they were reunited with Magnus. They would rebuild and build out their numbers, though they remained one of the least numerous Legions. However, the Rout would reduce them to a similar number again, and they would secretly build up their numbers again.
  • Mirroring Factions: With their rivals, the Vlka Fenryka. Among others, they both use psychic powers despite the ban on them, and they both have random mutations they keep secret from the Imperium at large.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The legion believes their psychic powers give them the ability, nay, the right to pursue this. There is very little of Prosperine life that isn't influenced by psychic powers. One of the early signs of the legion's hubris comes early in A Thousand Sons when Ahriman chastises a fellow legionary for using his powers to clean his bolter rather than his hands.
  • Psychic Powers: The Legion's most recognizable characteristic is the unusual amount of psykers among their ranks.
  • Rival Turned Evil: For the Rout, and that's in no small part the Rout's fault.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Opt out of being slaughtered by the Wolves via teleporting to another planet, and are yet to return as a coherent fighting force.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Prospero itself is described as having achieved a reasonable degree of utopia, with clean and wide streets, psychic powers being understood and implemented in everyday life (precog waiters, for example), and the Legion being so well-meshed with the populace that they train in psychic meditation together and Ahriman makes a hobby of winemaking. This survives for about half of a single book before crashing down.
  • Tragic Hero: The Sons and Magnus were among the most loyal of the Emperor's servants, but their overconfidence led them to take actions which would cause them to have to choose between being loyal and extinct, or survival and damnation. Magnus chose the latter.
  • Training the Gift of Magic: To help the psykers of his legions, Magnus has created five cults running parallel to the official military ranks in order to divide psykers in the different disciplines in which they are the most gifted, train them, and make them work together. He even selected specific remembrancers who were secretly psykers to have his legionaries train them. However, since the Legion consorted with daemons, they weren't as safe in their training as they thought they were. These five cults were the Corvidae, which specialized in precognition; the warp-fire wielding Pyrae; the Pavoni specialized in Biomancy; the telepathic Athanaeans; and the Raptora, which trained in telekinesis.
  • Transformation Horror: The Thousand Sons are cursed with the flesh-change, an affliction that gives uncontrollable mutation to their members should they use their psychic powers carelessly. Plus, the psychic resonance of the mutation can trigger other mutations among nearby brothers which threatened to annihilate the Legion at one point.
  • Xanatos Gambit: The victim of one. Tzeentch manipulated the outcome of the Council of Nikaea, making Magnus determined to prove the usefulness of psychic powers and sorcery. This determination lead him to trying to warn the Emperor of Horus through sorcerous means, causing him to destroy the Emperor's secret, and arguably most important project and opening Earth up to potential invasion. The Emperor sent a message to the Rout to apprehend Magnus and his Legion to be returned to Earth to answer for their crime, but the message was intercepted by Horus and altered the order for the Wolves to destroy the Sons. The Wolves and and the Sons would fight it out to the end and eliminate two of the greater threats to Horus, Or the Sons would submit to Tzeentch and gain him a wounded, but very potent set of servants in the process. Each step was set up and organized by Tzeentch.

Ahzek Ahriman
Click to see him after his fall 
One of the oldest Space Marines out there, hailing from Terra, he serves as Magnus' advisor and captain of First Company of the Thousand Sons. He's the Magister of the Corvidae who divine the future.
  • Alliterative Name: Ahzek Ahriman.
  • Blade on a Stick: His main non-psychic weapon is this, although he later switches it for a sorcerer's "heqa" staff.
  • Defiant to the End: Refuses to roll over and die when Russ and the Wolves come knocking.
  • Evil Sorcerer: While capable of delivering impressive physical beatdown, he excels at magic and sorcerous rituals.
  • Genius Bruiser: Like his Primarch, he's not just an excellent warrior, but also an accomplished academic.
  • Meaningful Name: In Zoroastrianism, Ahriman is the leader of evil spirits, just as in Horus Heresy he leads sorcerers who want to fight the Rout. For an added bonus, he used to have a brother named Ohrmuzd, which is one of the names for Zoroastrianism's god.
  • Number Two: Magnus' second-in-command in the Sons.
  • Only Sane Man: One of the few people to realise that the Imperium is not going to turn out as nice and utopian as it is planned to be.
  • Psychic Powers: The second most powerful psyker in the Thousand Sons after Magnus.
  • Religious Bruiser: Averted; despite his Legion falling to Tzeentch, he doesn't consider himself a follower of the Chaos gods and rejects Chaos altogether.
  • Seeker Archetype: In the 41st Millennium he spends his time searching for the Black Library, the Eldar repository of all Warp knowledge.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Breaks Magnus' direct order to not fight the Wolves, because he believes that it's wrong and the right thing is to fight until the very end.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Both with Ignis and the Word Bearers. Ahriman especially dislikes their methods of sorcery.
  • The Captain: Commands the XV Legion's First Company, as well as the Corvidae Cult, the most powerful sorcerer coven.
  • The Consigliere: Magnus' chief advisor.
  • Übermensch: He has little use of regular human morals, as evidenced by this quote:
    The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance.

Hathor Maat

The captain of the 3rd fellowship of the Thousand Sons and Magister Templi of the Pavoni. He is a secondary character in all books featuring the Thousand Sons and notably accompanies Ahriman in his quest to find the shards of Magnus' soul.
  • Biomanipulation: As a Pavoni, Hathor Maat is extremely adept at biomancy, the art of affecting the body through the powers of the warp, which he primarily used for healing.
  • Demonic Possession: Hathor is finally possessed by the daemon Aforgomon when Ahriman decides to give it the soul it requested in exchange for its help.


A member of the Athaneans and an extremely skilled swordsman, Sanakht is a supporting character in The Crimson King where he accompanies Ahriman in his quest to find the shards of Magnus' soul.
  • Master Swordsman: Sanakht is the best swordsman of his legion and is enough of a match for Lucius that the crazed Emperor's Child is eager to have a rematch with him even though Lucius beat him.

Revuel Arvida

"Knowledge is power."

A sergeant in the 4th Fellowship of the Thousand Sons, Revuel is absent from Prospero during the Burning, as he was among those Magnus ordered away from the planet before the arrival of the Space Wolves. He later returns to the planet with his brothers in search of answers, only for them to be butchered by scavengers from the World Eaters. Revuel escapes and is later saved by the White Scars.

  • Animal Motifs: The raven.
  • Arc Symbol: Revuel's appearances have a tendency to linger on the raven skull emblem of the Corvidae on his shoulder pad.
  • Body Horror: He has to fight the Flesh Change, a mutation that threatens to overcome him the more he uses his powers. At the end of Path of Heaven, it gets bad enough that his armour fuses to his body. By the end of that book it's flexing from Arvida swelling with mutation. In the following story it takes hours to cut away, and that reveals... let's just say that sweated fat is involved. This is negated however after Malcador fuses him with a shard of Magnus found within the Palace.
  • Brass Balls: When he holds Qin Xa at gunpoint, he probably knows he can't kill the other warrior because Xa's armour is so massive. Even if he doesn't, it takes some nerve considering that he's surrounded by the other Terminators - though by this point he could just be taking Refuge in Audacity.
  • Call-Forward: Several elements of his character call ahead to the Blood Ravens, in particular the colors of his armor, the raven skull emblem he has on one shoulder pad, and his use of the phrase "Knowledge is power". Ultimately it's a Red Herring.
  • Came Back Wrong: Not so much wrong as different. In The Last Son of Prospero, Malcador attempts to get a loyal Magnus back by fusing a shard of him (later noted to be Magnus's good qualities) with a dying Arvida; the result is neither exactly Arvida, nor Magnus, but one heavily implied to be the future founding Supreme Grand Master of the Grey Knights.
    "Know me by the name I always had," he said. "Call me Ianius."
  • Chekhov's Skill: Two skills leading to one application. Early in Path of Heaven, he notes that the Thousand Sons often didn't use Navigators, preferring to guide their ships themselves. In the short story that introduces him, he's revealed to be able to see all paths into the future. Both skills come in handy when someone has to guide the fleet through the Webway.
  • Combat Clairvoyance: Arvida's psychic abilities are primarily clairvoyance. To others, his movements in battle seem to come out of nowhere.
  • Dream Spying: He learns that his Primarch and Legion are still alive via dreams and visions.
  • Elemental Powers: He prefers to use fire in combat. His force sword burns with fire when he wields it.
  • Fish out of Water: How he feels among the White Scars, as he's declined an offer of joining the Legion and stands out both when it comes to his philosophy and powers.
  • Heroic BSoD: Has a brief one after discovering his Legion and Primarch still live. Even worse, he's seen the future that waits for the Imperium, a vision so horrific that it helped drive Horus into rebellion.
  • Heroic Resolve: He staves off the Flesh Change by sheer willpower and meditation.
  • Heroic RRoD: Days under heavy psychic stress and nigh-constant future-seeing, combined with the Flesh Change attacking him viciously, lead to him collapsing completely at the end of Path of Heaven.
  • I Choose to Stay: When guiding the White Scars through the Webway, he realizes that he could get to Sortarius and reunite with his Legion, but in the end, decides to remain with the Scars.
  • Internal Reveal: He's shocked to find out what the readers knew since Prospero Burns - that Magnus and his Legion were not wiped out, but transported to another planet.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: His reaction to Yesugei's sacrifice.
  • Red Herring: His plot seemed to be setting him up as Azariah Vidya, the legendary founder of the Blood Ravens, only for him to become what is heavily suggested to be Janus, the first Supreme Grand Master of the Grey Knights.
  • Red Is Heroic: He wears the red armor of Heresy-era Thousand Sons and is loyal to the core.
  • Seeker Archetype: After seeing the ruins of Prospero, he resolves to find out what was behind the planet's destruction.
  • The Navigator: For the White Scars when they have to cross the Webway.
  • Wham Line: One of the Internal Reveal variety.
    They are alive... they are all alive.
  • White Sheep: Unlike most of his legion, Revuel remains loyal to the Imperium, in part due to not having absolute faith in Magnus.

     XVI Legion: Sons of Horus 

The Legion
Click here to see their symbol as Luna Wolves 
Number: XVI
Original Name: Luna Wolves
Primarch: Horus Lupercal

The Sons of Horus, formerly the Luna Wolves, are Horus' personal Legion. Already noted to be excellent shock troops in their first campaigns, the Legion earned its first name in the conquest of Luna, when the Selenar gene-cults pleaded for the Emperor to "call off his wolves." At the outset of the Great Crusade, the Sixteenth Legion had the luck to be the first ones reunited with their primarch, when Horus was recovered from the technobarbarian world of Cthonia. The Legion's long history with Horus made them extremely devoted to him. Under his leadership, the Luna Wolves amassed the highest amount of honors among the Legions during the Great Crusade, all the while remaining popular everywhere they went thanks to Horus' charisma and friendship. All went well until Horus was made Warmaster, commander of the Imperium's forces, in the aftermath of the Ullanor Crusade where Horus and Emperor smashed the greatest Ork empire known to man. Horus performed well at first, but the responsibility and loss of his father stressed him considerably. Shortly after, the Luna Wolves were renamed the Sons of Horus.

The Word Bearers enacted a plan to corrupt Horus, having a corrupted planetary governor wound him with a powerful warp-blade known as the Anathame, then manipulating his captains into taking him to a Chaos cult for healing. Shown the future of the Imperium, Horus became convinced that he needed to betray the Emperor before he could be betrayed and kickstarted the Horus Heresy. Horus purged the loyalists of his Legion on Isstvan III, then decimated the Iron Hands, Salamanders and Raven Guard on Isstvan V. From that point on, Horus oversaw the entirety of the civil war, eventually empowering himself with the power of Chaos. After getting rid of the many obstacles on his path set by the Imperium, Horus has now summoned the bulk of his armies to the Sol System to besiege Terra and kill his father.

The Sixteenth Legion is defined by their loyalty to their Primarch. All the Luna Wolves are utterly devoted to Horus, as he was both a charismatic and friendly leader. As the recruits come from the gang-infested Cthonia, many of them carry on their gang culture, being warriors eager to fight and boast, as well as practicing specific rituals from the planet. The Legion also had secret Warrior Lodges, informal congregations where legionaries could interact as equals, out of the chain of command. Through these lodges spread corruption, and the lodges became Chaos cults after the Heresy started. The Legion is renowned for its excellence in all aspects of war, particularly in planetary assaults aimed at enemy leadership. As the Luna Wolves, they wear silver-white armor. When they rename themselves to the Sons of Horus, they repaint their armor in a shade of dark green.

  • The Ace: During the Great Crusade, the 16th Legion had a stunning battle record, were famed for their brilliant tactics, and feared for their ferocity. Their Primarch was the Warmaster and the first to be recovered, and they had earned the Emperor's praise while serving him directly, making them the envy of all Astartes.
  • Animal Motifs: Wolf, even after their rename. After the rename they add snakes as well. Green colouring, Horus' "Serpent scales" armour, betrayal etc.
  • Blood Knight: Another one of those "close combat monster" Legions, although in contrast with World Eaters, they're clearly enjoying themselves and don't let it get better of them.
  • Catchphrase: In their Luna Wolves days they liked to chant "Lupercal", in honor of their Primarch, as a warcry. More formally, it was customary for Luna Wolves to say "kill for the living, kill for the dead" before battle, sometimes as parting words between friends, other times split in half as a call-and-response among companies or squads.
  • Color Motif: White, then green after their rename.
  • Evil Costume Switch: As mentioned above, after they're renamed "Sons of Horus" and start on their path to Face–Heel Turn, they repaint their armour from shining, noble white to a dark, dirty green.
  • Fantastic Racism: Underplayed, but people who are "true sons of Horus" (i.e. those who bear a close resemblance to their primarch) are more present among the higher ranks and have made up the entirety of the Mournival up until its last incarnation.
  • A House Divided: Twice. The first time, the Mournival is split over whether to hand the wounded Horus over to the Davinite priests.
    • When Horus' wound by Russ reopens on Beta Garmon, the power vacuum creates a divide at the top of the Legion.
  • Low Culture, High Tech: As noted by Hastur, despite being super-soldiers fighting a high-tech war, they still retain many "tribal" behaviours, such as pre-battle rituals and scratching tribal marks onto their armour.
  • Meaningful Rename: From Luna Wolves to Sons of Horus, signifying an initially-small, but then increasingly important shift in their loyalties. In-universe, they do it to mark their Primarch's ascension to rank of Warmaster.
  • Pride: They're quite proud of being the Legion with the first Primarch to be found, the Legion of the Warmaster and generally one of the most successful Legions of the Crusade.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: They start off as the viewpoint characters with Big Good Horus and his Marines leading the Great Crusade as shining examples of the Imperium's power and nobility. Over the first couple books, they fall to Chaos (with the exception of Loken, Torgaddon, and a few others) and become the biggest threat, with many of them still alive and stirring up trouble 10 millennia later.
  • Samurai Ponytail: A Cthonian topknot is very popular among them.
  • Savage Wolves: Their reputation.
  • Scavenger World: Cthonia. It used to be a mining world, but when everything was mined out, it all went downhill until the entire planet was controlled by one technobarbaric gang or anothernote .
  • Start of Darkness: The war against the Interex. Everyone's bitter and things start to go downhill after it's over.
  • Straight for the Commander: Their hat is this tactic. They refer to it as the speartip.
  • The Consigliere: The Mournival, a four-man advisory body based on the classical Four-Temperament Ensemble. Tellingly, as the Heresy progresses, the Mournival becomes unbalanced and, during the Siege of Terra, is destroyed with the exception of Abaddon, showing just how far the Legion has fallen.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: The so-called "true sons", who have been altered by the Astartes-making process into looking much like carbon-copies of their Primarch.
  • Undying Loyalty: Seeing how they serve under the most charismatic of Primarchs, how could they not have this?

Garviel Loken
He goes through a lot.

Captain of the 10th Company of the Luna Wolves, Loken is one of the few to see the dark path his Legion is taking as they are renamed and Horus falls to Chaos. He is one of the loyalists who fights at the Battle of Istvaan III, seeming to fall after a battle with Abaddon and the last orbital bombardment, but later turns out to be alive and is recruited as one of Malcador's Knights-Errant.

  • 10-Minute Retirement: Upon his return to the Sol system after Istvaan III, he spends some time refusing to answer Malcador's summons and tending to a garden left behind by a Sister of Silence. It seems to put his mind at ease, but finally what may be Tarik's ghost reminds him that he still has a job to be done.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Known to his friends, including Tarik Torgaddon, Nero Vipus, Saul Tarvitz, Ezekyle Abaddon, and Horus Aximand as Garvi.
  • Bash Brothers: With Tarik Torgaddon and Nero Vipus, his best friends. Also with Nathaniel Garro and Saul Tarvitz.
  • Break the Badass: His ordeal at and after Istvaan III.
  • Brutal Honesty: Advised to speak his mind by Dorn and gives the same advice to Karkasy.
  • Combat Pragmatist: He knows perfectly well that real fight isn't about finesse and technique. In fact, he wins his duel with Lucius by breaking his nose.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Has his moments.
    Abaddon: Do this right, Garviel.
    Loken: I'm glad you told me that, I'd been considering making a mess of it.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Has one with Torgaddon and believes him to be just a figment of his insanity, but there are clues that it truly is Tarik's ghost.
  • Death Seeker: As Cerberus, but being as he is an Astartes, he has hard time dying.
  • Decoy Protagonist: For the series as a whole. He doesn't die but the story becomes an ensemble rather then centering on his POV.
  • Defector from Decadence: One of the few loyalists in the Sons of Horus.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The fact that he survives while Tarik didn't, combined with his Identity Amnesia, leads to this.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Becomes part of one in the Mournival, as the phlegmatic, personal and introverted.
  • Freak Out: Istvaan III breaks him pretty thoroughly, to say the least.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: When Garro finds him on Istvaan III, Loken is little more than an insane, raging beast believing himself the only loyalist left alive. He finds his sanity again with Garro's help.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: He usually uses a chainsword or power sword.
  • I Choose to Stay: At the end of "The Buried Dagger", Loken refuses Malcador's offer to become one of the first Grey Knights, choosing instead to depart with Nathaniel Garro and fight against Horus's impending invasion of Terra.
  • Identity Amnesia: After Istvaan III, he spends a long time unable - and not for lack of trying - to remember who he is, having only shreds of impressions of memories to work with. Garro eventually manages to bring him back.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: In a funny moment near the start of the series, he admits a female remembrancer into his room while stripped down to nothing but a loincloth. She's clearly pleased with the sight. As an Astartes, he is of course clueless about this.
  • The Last DJ: Loken is one of the most skilled and experienced officers in the XVI Legion and is respected by no less than Rogal Dorn himself, along with many other Astartes from other Legions. His refusal to countenance the increasing secrecy and brutality of the Sons of Horus ultimately brings him into conflict with Horus, Abaddon, Maloghurst, and other members of the Legion and finally sees him shipped off to die on Istvaan III.
  • Made of Iron: Here's a man who goes through orbital bombardment, three Legions making war at him and then a Zombie Apocalypse... and survives. That's some Primarch-level resilience right here.
  • Meaningful Rename: During his madness at Istvaan III, he calls himself Cerberus, the guardian of the underworld - fittingly, as the planet has turned into a land of the dead and he watches over them.
  • My Art, My Memory: During his retirement to a garden on Luna, he unwittingly arranges it to look like the place where he was sworn into the Mournival. He realizes this only when Tarik's ghost points it out to him.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: It's quite likely that his and Qruze's actions on Caliban are what pushes Luther into treachery.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: With Tarik. While Torgaddon is cheerful and sanguine, Loken is more phlegmatic and introspective.
  • Refusal of the Call: In The Buried Dagger, it's revealed Loken was chosen to be one of the first Grand Masters of the Grey Knights, but he ultimately chose to stay on Terra to battle Horus one last time.
  • Shirtless Scene: His first interaction with Mersadie has him shirtless, a fact she notices immediately.
  • Survivor's Guilt: He seems to be suffering this when it comes to Torgaddon's death.
  • The Captain: Commands the Tenth Company.
  • The Consigliere: Forms a quarter of Horus' advisory body known as the Mournival.
  • The Heart: The reason Rogal Dorn vouches for Loken to be part of the Mournival was that he hopes Loken's humanity would balance out Abaddon's anger.
  • The Hero: He's this for the first three novels in the series.
  • The Idealist: At the start of the story, he believes that Legion's actions are for the best, that mankind's cause is right and that one day, the Great Crusade will be over and humanity will live in peace.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Even after Garro manages to talk him back to his senses, he still has problems remembering things like the wars during the Great Crusade or faces and voices of people he knew.
  • White Sheep: One of the few Luna Wolves to remain loyal to the Emperor.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Sigismund believes him to be this, and it may be a factor in Loken's insanity after Istvaan III.

Ezekyle Abaddon
Even his official Remembrancer portrait has him pissed off.
First Captain of Luna Wolves/Sons of Horus and part of the Mournival. Follows his gene-sire into treachery.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: He begins as one of the Imperium's most celebrated heroes, wearing black. Then he becomes a case of Evil Wears Black.
  • Depending on the Author: He's considerably more level-headed when written by Abnett or French, while with Mc Neill his choleric side absolutely dominates his character.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Abaddon doesn't care much for Chaos, and really hates how Zardu Layak has turned his own brothers into slaves.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: In the Mournival, he's the choleric. Task-bound, aggressive, and extroverted.
  • Generation Xerox: His similarities to Horus are so great, he's often suspected of being his gene-sire's clone.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: He's not hard to rile up. In fact, he's almost always angry.
  • Hidden Depths: Arguably something of an Informed Attribute in the Black Library books, but he has the strategic nous to carry out large-scale campaigns alone (such as the Wolf Cull at Yarant and the Conquest of Manachea in Conquest by Forge World), and has won more victories than anyone in the Legion except for Horus.
  • Hot-Blooded: Tied with the above, he has a clearly choleric temperament.
  • Large and in Charge: First Captain of the most powerful Legion, and he's big even by Space Marine standards.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: He's this to the rest of the Traitor Mournival. Abaddon consistently shows care for his men and is disgusted by the power of Chaos, with Zardu Layak in particular managing to enrage him due to turning his own borthers into slaves. Saturnine sees this evaporate after his hand-picked squad is wiped out and he is just barely saved from death — his state in the aftermath makes it clear that this is the moment Abaddon the Despoiler was born.
  • Lightning Bruiser: As well as being huge and immensely strong, Abaddon is also inordinately fast.
  • Looming Silhouette of Rage: He tends to do this, as evidenced by Wolf Of Ash And Fire:
    Ezekyle loomed, that was his thing, and he tried to loom over Sejanus as though he actually thought he could intimidate him. Ridiculous, it was only topknot that made him taller.
  • Memetic Badass: His and Sigismund's are the two names guaranteed to be dropped when the subject of best fighters in the Legions are mentioned.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: If he and Little Horus hadn't listened to Erebus and taken Horus to the Serpent Lodge, it's likely the Heresy wouldn't have happened.
  • Number Two: As the First Captain, he's Horus' second-in-command, even more so than the Primarch's formal equerry.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: There's a certain amont of Depending on the Author, but Horus Rising plays him this way to a surprising degree.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • He's the Red to pretty much the entire Mournival and his Primarch, surpassing them all in hot bloodedness.
    • Back when Hastur Sejanus was still alive, he was the Red to Hastur's Blue and the two of them provided more balanced advice to Horus.
  • Samurai Ponytail: He wears his hair in a tall topknot.
  • Self-Made Orphan: In a flashback, Abaddon guts his own father rather than murder his "oath-companions" as part of a coming-of-age ritual. In subsequent flashbacks, it's made clear that in his subsequent exile, he has polished off the rest of his clan.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: He's willing to work with Layak, but only grudgingly.
  • The Captain: Commands the First Company, and is clearly the most senior in the relatively informal Mournival.
  • The Consigliere: While in theory all members of the Mournival are equal, after Horus' wounding he becomes his chief advisor, for better or worse.
  • Undying Loyalty: He's unflinchingly loyal to Horus.
  • Villainous Breakdown: During the Siege of Terra, after he leads his most elite and trusted Justaerin into a trap that results in him being the Sole Survivor and coming within a hair's breadth of being killed by Nathaniel Garro, he's left bleeding and weeping, begging the Mechanicum adepts who teleported him out to let him go back to die with his brothers.
    "Let me go back..." Abaddon whispered. He was weeping. "Let me go back..."
  • Violence is the Only Option: His life philosophy, to the point that Horus has to intervene to quench his bloodthirst.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Abaddon averts this trope spectacularly in Wolfsbane: rather than waste time fighting Bror Tyrfinger's squad of Space Wolves, Abaddon just orders his Justaerin Terminators to gun the Wolves down.

Tarik Torgaddon
The Tormaggeddon!

Second Captain of Luna Wolves, one of Mournival members and Garviel's good friend, he remains on loyalist side and dies on Istvaan III - not that this ends his part in the story.

  • Alliterative Name: Tarik Torgaddon.
  • Bash Brothers: With Garviel Loken, Nero Vipus, and Saul Tarvitz.
  • Brutal Honesty: While coloured slightly with jest, he always speaks openly.
  • Came Back Wrong: Erebus brings him back as a daemonhost, albeit seemingly without Tarik's soul.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Loves this, even after he's dead.
    Tarik: Well, what would I know? I had my head cut off, don't you remember?
  • Dead Person Conversation: Has a short chat with Loken over a year after he dies, possibly as a result of Erebus bringing his body back.
  • Defector from Decadence: Like Loken, he refuses to partake in treachery.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: In the Mournival, he's the sanguine, personal and extroverted.
  • Herald: To Garviel, twice.
    • Brings Loken into the Mournival, kickstarting his arc in the first several books.
    • What may be his ghost visits Loken on Luna, bringing Garviel out of his 10-Minute Retirement.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Tarik, unlike the other members of the Mournival, doesn't have his appearance discussed much, and he's always depicted with his helmet on. However, on Davin, Euphrati Keeler mentions that she thinks he's the most handsome of the Mournival.
  • Meaningful Rename: After he's brought back, daemon his body hosts calls itself "Tormageddon", which, inasmuch as it is meaningful, can be somewhat Narmy.
  • Morality Chain: Post-mortem. If it wasn't for memories of him, Loken/Cerberus would probably degenerate into total, irrevocable madness.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When Tarik starts acting seriously, it's time to be worried.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: His role in-universe. Members of the Mournival are chosen not just for their experience and wisdom but also their temperament. Ideally, the four members will complement and contrast each other to give Horus a balanced counsel. Tarik is famous for his quick wit and warm nature, and is usually the one to defuse tension with humor or say what others won't in the form of a joke.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red to Loken's blue. He's the cheerful one, Loken's the thoughtful one.
  • Secret Circle of Secrets: He's part of the Legion's warrior lodges, albeit he doesn't let this rule his life.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: On those rare occasions when he and Sejanus share "screentime", they riff off each other with gusto.
  • Spirit Advisor: Serves this way to Loken in Luna Mendax.
  • The Captain: Commands the Second Company.
  • The Ghost: While he dies in Galaxy In Flames, Loken often thinks about him.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Dies in book three out of 54. May be subverted in that he's still showing up.
  • White Sheep: While the warrior lodges are initially benign, Tarik and Nero are the only members portrayed in a positive light after Horus Rising.

"Little" Horus Aximand

Captain of the Luna Wolves 5th Company and a member of the Mournival. Sides with the Warmaster when Horus rises against the Emperor, but unlike his fellow Mournival Abaddon, Aximand appears to have reservations (albeit buried deeply) about killing his former brethren.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Comes away from his fight against Sigismund minus a hand.
  • Combat Pragmatism: When he goes to take down Sigismund, he first sics a bunch of his best warriors on him. When a wounded Sigismund gets into range, Aximand wastes no time with taunts or posturing and goes straight for the kill. If not for The Cavalry rocking up just in time, he might well have succeeded.
  • Cool Sword: Wields a custom-made power sword called Mourn-it-all.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Like the rest of the Mournival.
  • The Dreaded: Considers Garviel Loken to be this after learning he survived Istvaan III.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Within the Mournival, the melancholic one. Especially so after Istvaan III, where he becomes quiet and reserved as he emotionally withdraws into himself after killing his two of his closest brothers.
  • Hero Killer: So far he's taken down one of his former Mournival brothers, a champion of the Iron Hands and the First Lieutenant of the Imperial Fists' Templar elite.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Like all the members of the warrior lodge, Aximand considers giving the terminally ill Horus to the care of the Serpent Lodge on Davin to be this, though he is somewhat strong-armed into the decision by the likes of Abaddon and Erebus.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Loken rams a chainsword through his chest, lifts him off the ground, and revs it before decapitating him.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Aximand favours a combat shield when he gets into melee range.
    • On a meta note, when Henricos ambushes him, it's only by luck that he attacks from Aximand's shield-bearing side, allowing him to catch the blow.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Reacts this way somewhat after personally killing Torgaddon on Istvaan III.
  • Off with His Head!: Kills Torgaddon this way. And in turn is killed this way by Loken on Terra.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted, he shares his first name with his primarch and close friend, Horus Lupercal.
    • He seems to be an exception to the rule in-universe. Lots of Cthonians and therefore lots of Luna Wolves have the name, but only Little Horus uses it openly.
  • Red Baron: Referred to as "Little Horus" because of his close physical resemblance to the Warmaster.
  • Religion of Evil: A prominent member of the warrior lodges, the primary corrupting influence in turning the Traitor Legions to Chaos.
  • Skull for a Head: After his injury, this becomes the dress code for his warrior clan: skull-masked helmets dipped in gold.
  • Tear Off Your Face: Suffers this at the hands of Hibou Khan of the White Scars in a ambush. It's reattached, but people note that the process increases his physical resemblance to his Primarch.
  • Villainous Breakdown: He starts to crack after his Marines are wiped out during the failed assault on the Saturnine Wall and he's forced to flee from a rising tide of quick-setting rockcrete, but it doesn't hit him fully until he's confronted by Garviel Loken, which causes him to have the closest thing to a panic attack an Astartes can experience just before Loken kills him.
  • Villainous BSoD: Goes through this after Istvaan III, his actions apparently gaining "a mechanical, emotionless quality that was quite at odds with his once jovial personality. This behaviour indicated that he had been forced to bury his doubts about the Warmaster and his Legion's actions deep and his own personality even deeper, perhaps in a place from which it could not return". In Little Horus he throws this off after having his face reattached: all he looks like after this is "angry" and "invincible".
  • We Can Rule Together: Offers this to Tarik Torgaddon in the final battle of Galaxy in Flames, noting that while Horus ordered them to kill Loken, he said nothing about Tarik and that he can still rejoin the Legion.

Maloghurst the Twisted

Horus' equerry, and the XVI Legion's best political operator.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Horus consistently calls him 'Mal.'
  • Badass Bureaucrat: Laid up in bed and injured, he's still busy plotting the Expeditionary Fleet's next move.
  • Career-Ending Injury: He's unable to wear armour for some time after his craft is shot down, and even after that his combat days are clearly behind him.
  • The Consigliere: He serves as one to Horus.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: He was called the Twisted on account of his scheming ways. When he gets badly injured and disfigured, he notes that people have stopped using the name because they see it as insensitive. He asks that people continue to use it; he came by the name honestly and would rather it be associated with his calculating mind than his delibitating injuries.
  • Evil Sorcerer: He learns daemonology and sorcery to deal with the daemonic influences around him. In Twisted he uses it to foil the Davinites who themselves are steeped in sorcery.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Up until his introduction in Horus Rising he was this: serving Horus in a political capacity meant that he took a lot of flack on his behalf.
  • Genius Cripple: Politically brilliant and severely injured.
  • The Grotesque: His deformities aren't nice to look at, even for another Astartes.
  • Meaningful Name: Doubly so. It begins as a snide remark about his methods, and takes on an additional, unpleasant meaning when he is disfigured.
  • Mouth of Sauron: He speaks with the Warmaster's voice and carries his full authority. Indeed, he deals with much of the administrative work involved in the Traitors' campaigns.
  • Staff of Authority: His is topped with the Eye of Horus, designating him as the voice of the Warmaster.
  • Undying Loyalty: His fealty to Horus is absolute, and is even lampshaded by a daemon.
  • Villainous Valor: He risks death and indeed dies to restore Horus in Slaves to Darkness.

Iacton Qruze

Captain of the Luna Wolves 3rd Company, Iacton is a Terran-born legionnaire who served in the Unification Wars. He sides with the Loyalists, rescues Mersadie Oliton, Euphrati Keeler and Kyril Sindermann, and accompanies Nathaniel Garro to Terra.
  • The Artifact: Is viewed as a relic by the rest of the Luna Wolves, who regard him with equal measures of affection and frustration.
  • Cool Old Guy: Having been inducted into the Legion during the Unification Wars, he is old by Astartes standards, and he refuses to follow Horus's rebellion, instead rescuing two remembrancers and an iterator, each of whom would go on to be some of the most important figures in the early Imperium.
    • Subverted in how his Legion views him, however. By the time of Horus Rising, he's something of an embarrassment and the leaders of the Legion are trying to politely move him offstage. Even Maloghurst, who Qruze personally selected to join the Legion, doesn't remember him with much fondness.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Is regarded as an old fogey (and in fairness, lives up to it somewhat) in the first three books. But when it's time to put cards on the table, Qruze proves he can still throw down with the best of them.
  • Defector from Decadence: Like Torgaddon and Loken, he refuses to partake in treachery.
  • I Know You Know I Know: His habit of speaking softly is the source of his nickname of "the Half Heard." At least, that's what he thinks. In reality, his fellow legionaires call him that because they only listen to him half the time and just let him think it's because of his volume. At least, that's what they think. In reality, Iacton is well aware of the real reason for his nickname and pretends otherwise because his sense of Legion honor has him brush off the insult.
  • In the Back: How he dies: Horus drives the Talon through his spine, ripping out both his hearts in the process.
  • Living Relic: From before Horus was united with his legion.
  • Obsolete Mentor: He could not accept that the Legion had matured and advanced without him.
  • Old Soldier: Had been a captain in the Unification Wars and could remember a time when the XVI Legion did not have Horus in command.
  • The Quiet One: Was known as "the Half Heard". Subverted in that his nickname didn't mean he spoke quietly; it meant that it was best only to half-listen to whatever he said.
  • Rambling Old Man Monologue: Was noted for giving particularly long-winded and extraneous opinions.
  • Sycophantic Servant: Was accused of being this by Rogal Dorn, and considered to be this by his own brothers. All of them turned out to be wrong.
  • When I Was Your Age...: The above rambles are apt to be this sort of thing. Case in point when he reflects on how the Emperor's Children used to fight alongside the Luna Wolves.

Hastur Sejanus

Captain of the Fourth Company and Horus' best friend. He's Mournival's phlegmatic member until his death at the start of the series, whereupon he's replaced by Gavriel Loken.
  • All-Loving Hero: Inverted; it's said that there's no-one in the Luna Wolves or any other Legion who wouldn't like Sejanus.
  • Color-Coded Eyes: His eyes are described as silver. He's a dangerous warrior, but also part of his Legion's more noble and high-minded past.
  • Cultured Badass: As well as a warrior, he's a skilled diplomat.
  • Deadpan Snarker: More than matches Torgaddon.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Before his death, his part in Mournival is the phlegmatic.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Whether Horus realizes this or not, Hastur's this for him. It's likely his demise hastens Horus' breakdown.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • In Real Life, Sejanus was a close friend to Roman Emperor Tiberius.
    • His first name is quite similar to Hathor who in Egyptian Mythology is the wife of Horus. Recall that Hastur's best friend's name is also Horus. Hathor was also the goddess of love and beloved by all. Sejanus was loved by the entire legion.
  • Muggle Best Friend: For a given value of "muggle", but Hastur's Horus' best friend and not a Primarch.
  • Number Two: Shares the job with Abaddon.
  • Pretty Boy: Loken emphatically calls Sejanus beautiful every time
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: He and Tarik seem to love engaging in this.
  • Spirit Advisor: Appears to Horus during the Primarch's healing in Serpent Lodge. Subverted in that it's actually Erebus impersonating him to push Horus toward embracing Chaos.
  • The Captain: Of the Fourth Company.
  • The Heart: While a fierce warrior, his greatest impact seems to be emotional one.
    • In Abaddon's flashback to his "interview" with Sejanus and Syrakul, Sejanus is the one who really interrogates Abaddon's character.
  • Token Minority: He turns out to be a rare black Space Marine.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Adjusted for him being an Astartes, but he'd be wildly out of place in the Crapsack World the galaxy's turning into.
  • Undying Loyalty: He'd go through hell for Horus.
  • Villainous Valour: However dark he gets, there's no doubting his courage.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: His death pretty much opens the entire series and afterwards, he appears only in one short story, The Wolf Of Ash And Fire, along with cameo appearances in Warhawk of Chogoris and The Solar War.

Nero Vipus

The senior sergeant of Garviel Loken's company.

     XVII Legion: Word Bearers 

The Legion
Number: XVII
Original Name: Imperial Heralds
Primarch: Lorgar Aurelian

The Word Bearers are the zealous and fanatical Seventeenth Legion, led by Lorgar Aurelian. Once known as the Imperial Heralds, they were specifically tasked with spreading and enforcing the Imperial Truth, the Emperor's ideology of state-enforced scientific atheism and the ban of all faith in the supernatural. The Imperial Heralds were so named because of their habit of delivering ultimatums and devastation to those who did not comply.However, the Seventeenth Legion changed greatly after they met Lorgar on Colchis. The Primarch turned them into a legion of believers who worshipped the Emperor as a god. Influenced by Lorgar's charisma and peace-minded soul, the Legion changed tack: rather than conquer and burn, they began negotiating compliances, then remained behind to convert the local population to Emperor worship rather than performing quick conquests. The Emperor was exasperated by their worship and lack of results and thus punished them on the planet of Khur. The Emperor targeted what could be considered the Word Bearers's greatest triumph, the shrine-city of Monarchia, and had it razed by the Ultramarines, all the while chastising the Word Bearers and psychically forcing them to kneel. A horrified and broken Lorgar subsequently suffered a crisis of faith.

However, his foster father Kor Phaeron reconnected Lorgar to Colchis' Old Faith, in truth worship of the Chaos Gods. Lorgar worked to learn about Chaos and accepted this awful truth, becoming the architect of a future civil war. His agents spread the worship of Chaos and tricked half the Legions into corruption, culminating with them corrupting Horus. When Horus gathered his forces and started the civil war, the Word Bearers departed for the realm of Ultramar, where they burned dozens of planets in the Shadow Crusade alongside the World Eaters, then backstabbed the Ultramarines at the planet of Calth, killing approximately 150,000 Ultramarines and destroying the majority of their fleet. As Horus mustered his forces on Ullanor, Lorgar tried to usurp Horus but failed. He was banished, but left some Word Bearers to participate in the Siege of Terra.

When they were loyal, the Word Bearers were known as peaceful and enlightened Legionaries, more preoccupied with worship than the Great Crusade. However, Lorgar's new faith completely changed them into the most devout Chaos worshippers, learning about Chaos and enacting rituals and horrible sacrifices to seek favour from the Ruinous Powers. The Word Bearers operate like a standard Legion when in battle, but have then added to their arsenal a plethora of foul rituals, chaos weapons and possessed Space Marines to bolster their ranks. The Word Bearers wear grey armour during the Great Crusade, then repaint it to blood-red at the onset of the Heresy.

  • Ambition Is Evil: Seems like there's a ton of rivalry within the Legion fueled by this sentiment, with people scheming to backstab Erebus, gain Demonic Possession and other such pleasantries, all in name of advancement in the ranks.
  • Black Magic: They specialize in Chaos rituals and are the first to codify the rules of daemonology. They manage to compensate their relative weakness as Legionaries by performing tricks with sorcery and summoning Daemons to their aid.
  • Blind Obedience: It's implied that there's something more than just mere loyalty binding them to their Primarch and that they have an instinctual need to believe in something.
  • Blood Is the New Black: To mark their change in allegiance, they paint their armour red. Guess what's the paint.
  • Church Militant: Had this as their hat in their loyalist days, thanks to being the one Legion that venerated the Emperor as a god.
  • Create Your Own Villain: The Emperor burning Monarchia, their most successful city, to the ground was a dumb, dumb move.
  • Crisis of Faith: Have this after the razing of Monarchia, ultimately leading to them embracing Chaos.
  • Demonic Possession: They venerate the symbiosis of man and daemon as the highest form of communion between them and gods, and the possessed are seen as demigods. The Word Bearers even have a special unit of Possessed Marines, the Gal Vorbak.
  • The Dreaded Dreadnought: The Word Bearers have among their fleets the most enormous battleships of the Imperium, the Abyss-class battleships that dwarf even the Gloriana-class flagships of the Primarchs and can match fleets alone. They also double as The Battlestar and can launch whole armadas of fighters. The first of these ships, the Furious Abyss, was destroyed before it could be deployed but Lorgar revealed the existence of two more, the Blessed Lady and the Trisagion, during the Shadow Crusade.
  • Evil Costume Switch: They mark their Face–Heel Turn by changing their armour colours from grey to red.
  • Faith–Heel Turn: They used to worship the Emperor as a god, then turned away from this belief after he publicly humiliated them. Then inverted (Face-Faith Turn?) when they turn to worship of Chaos Gods.
  • The Fundamentalist: It is strongly implied in the novels, and in supplementary material, that the XVII Legion were genetically engineered to be predisposed towards utter devotion towards their ideals, often in form of zealotry. When they first were deployed as the Imperial Heralds, they would zealously and uncompromisingly enforce the Imperial Truth. When Lorgar converted them to the worship of the Emperor, they would spend time on newly-compliant worlds to convert the local population to Emperor worship. After the Legion joined to Chaos, they became the most devout followers of the Ruinous powers, setting up all sorts of Chaos cults, working to corrupt the other primarchs and space marines, and being the first to research and codify techniques of daemon possession and daemon summoning.
  • Human Resources: They use tons of slaves and prisoners for their rituals and armour paint.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: What their rebellion against the Emperor essentially is, as they now accuse him of being a false god.
  • Religious Bruiser: Their hat, both before and after their betrayal.
  • Start of Darkness: The burning of Monarchia, which causes their Crisis of Faith, pilgrimage to the Eye of Terror and ultimately the betrayal.
  • The Corrupter: They have a habit of pushing other Legions into betrayal, most notably turning the Sons of Horus and possibly the Iron Warriorsnote .
  • The Man Behind the Man: They've been manipulating events for the last fifty years and continue to pull the strings of most major players.
  • The Mole: Chaos' mole in the Imperium for fifty years before the Heresy begins.
  • The Resenter: They resent the Ultramarines for the part they played in the razing of Monarchia, and get psychopathic when given the chance to exact their revenge.

I love it when a plan comes together.
First Chaplain of the Legion, Erebus is ultimately responsible for the entire Heresy and what the galaxy becomes as the one who tempts Lorgar into worship of the Chaos Gods. He sets in motion the plan which corrupts Horus, and currently maintains his position in the Legion's Dark Council.
  • Badass Preacher: As a Chaplain, he's supposed to be one, but falls somewhat short of the mark.
  • Bald of Evil: All the better to show off his tattoos.
  • Becoming the Mask: In Child of Chaos, he reflects how he became a priest of the Covenant in search of wealth and status, only to find himself sincerely reciting the prayers and reading the texts.
  • Butt-Monkey: As time goes on, he becomes less a champion of Chaos and more of a champion wannabe, mostly because of how everyone starts to consider him The Unfavorite.
  • Co-Dragons: Like Kor Phaeron, Erebus is a member of the Dark Council, and is constantly engaged in a low-key battle with Kor Phaeron for power over the Council.
  • The Corrupter: Steals a daemon weapon from an Interex museum to spark a war with them, and manipulates Horus into attacking a Nurgle-corrupted moon. This ends up getting him killed and resurrected as the Chaos gods' new favourite toy.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Pretends to be Hastur Sejanus to push Horus further towards Chaos.
    • Also, he has been doing this ever since he murdered the real Erebus back on Colchis, stealing the boy's name and identity to get himself admitted to Covenant in hopes of a more lavish lifestyle.
  • Dirty Coward: Erebus is not above cheating or leaving behind those under his command to die in order to save his own skin.
  • Enfant Terrible: The short story Child of Chaos reveals that, even as a child, Erebus was a monster who murdered an innocent, pious young man so he could steal his name and place in the Covenant.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Lorgar invokes this trope with Erebus when trying to explain why his plan to corrupt Sanguinius and the Blood Angels to their cause won't work.
  • Evil Chancellor: Acts much like one to Horus, to the point that Loken begins to worry about how much influence he has over the Warmaster.
  • Evil Sorcerer: He enacts huge rituals and uses sorcery even more than physical force.
  • Flaying Alive: He gets his face ripped off by Horus. The readers cheered, as did many onlookers.
  • Freudian Excuse Denial: In Child of Chaos, Erebus muses in his narration that some may look for some decision or choice to be regretted in his past that explains his actions, only to state simply that no such thing exists.
  • Hated by All: As the Heresy progresses, Erebus gradually loses the respect of the other Traitor Legionaires, due to his many, many flaws. And this is on top of the Loyalists also wanting him dead.
  • Hate Sink: Erebus is one of the major human architects of the Heresy alongside Kor Phaeron, who is directly responsible for the corruption of Lorgar and Horus, and indirectly for the falls of Mortarion and Angron. He personally kills the Tragic Villain Argel Tal to ensure that Tal does not compromise the Heresy and relishes in doing so. He murdered a child in his youth so he could take the boy's place in the Covenant, well before he fell to Chaos. It's abundantly clear that Erebus is not someone to be sympathized with in any manner.
  • The Heavy: Regardless of how you feel about him, Erebus had a hand in most of the Horus Heresy's major events and conflicts. He usually isn't the most important figure in the field, but he was a major kingmaker and fixer of events in the Heresy.
  • Human Notepad: Like his Primarch, he's tattooed his head with passages from The Book of Lorgar.
  • It's All About Me: Less than pleasing Chaos gods, he's about his own profits.
  • Karma Houdini: You might think that the one ultimately responsible for the Heresy would get some comeuppance, but you'd be wrong: In the 41st Millennium, Erebus is part of the Dark Council in the post-Heresy Word Bearers, alive and well. Subverted as the series progresses however, as he falls into Butt-Monkey, Flaying Alive, No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, The Unfavorite, and Villainous Breakdown situations as a result of his actions.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Ladies and gentlemen, we give you: The Architect of the Horus Heresy.
  • Meaningful Name: In Greek Mythology, Erebus is the son of Chaos. Moreover, his name means "deep darkness", "shadow", or "covered".
    • Meaningful Rename: As it turns out, Erebus isn't actually his name. It was the name of a pious young boy back on Colchis, whom the child who would become Erebus murdered to steal his identity and get in on the Covenant.
      Erebus: 'Why can't you be more like Erebus?' Now, you see, thoughts like this have a terrible power. I took her words to heart. I pondered them. And I thought to myself: why can't I be more like Erebus? I was thinking the same thing as I garrotted that young man. I might even have said the words out loud as I twisted the string and watched his eyes bulge and pop.
  • Necromancer: Among others, he brings Cyrene and Tarik (albeit not entirely) back to life, although his creations have an alarming tendency to come back wrong.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Erebus is ironically very cordial to the serfs he interacts with, seeing no need to be anything other than nice to someone who is a devout follower of the Ruinous Powers anyway.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Erebus is on the receiving end of one of these at Kharn's hands. After having been told by Lorgar Erebus was responsible for Argel Tal's death, Kharn challenges Erebus to a fight to the death in the World Eaters' gladiatorial pits. Erebus confidently expects to win; instead, Kharn puts him on his arse and draws first blood in the fight's opening seconds, cuts his hand off and nearly severs Erebus's spine with his chainaxe- Erebus only survives because he cheats and uses sorcery to escape.
  • Obviously Evil: And yet only Loken notices that something's wrong.
  • Religious Bruiser: This goes hand in hand with being a Word Bearer, but he's skilled enough to stand in the World Eaters' impromptu arena and win, at least until Kharne comes to challenge him.
  • Sinister Minister: As a priest of the Chaos Gods.
  • Social Climber: At heart, Erebus wants to keep advancing himself no matter what. While he seems to have genuine faith in the Dark Gods, his real interest is in making his life easier and more lavish, with anyone who gets in his way being a stepping stone to greatness.
  • The Sociopath: Enjoyed deception and murder even as a child. Notably, he was not raised this way.
  • Summon Magic: He can use rituals to summon dozens of daemons.
  • The Corrupter: To Lorgar and Horus foremost, bringing them over to Chaos.
  • The Mole: He's pretty much Lorgar's spy in the Sons of Horus.
  • The Unfavorite: Gradually becomes this as the series goes on. Horus and many members of Sons of Horus start to dislike him more as he tries to influence Horus. Even Lorgar, who previously saw him as one of his two closest advisors, basically hangs him out to dry after telling Kharn that Erebus was responsible for killing Argel Tal.
  • Villainous Breakdown: A short story that picks up immediately after the events of Betrayer shows Erebus having one, following the combined humiliations of Horus reaming him out for failing to kill Sanguinius and then getting his ass handed to him by Kharn for murdering Argel Tal. As of the latest releases, he's yet to fully recover from it.

Kor Phaeron

First Captain of the Word Bearers, Kor Phaeron was Lorgar's mentor and surrogate father during his youth on Colchis. A long-time worshipper of the Ruinous Powers even before the Heresy, he, along with Erebus, is instrumental in his Primarch and Legion's fall to Chaos.
  • Abusive Parents: He was viciously abusive to his adopted son, in great part because Lorgar believed in one unique god whereas there were four.
  • Badass Preacher: Even his detractors recognise his oratory skill.
  • Bald of Evil: As befitting an aged Evil Chancellor.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: During the Battle of Calth, Kor Phaeron actually had an opportunity to kill Roboute Guilliman, but instead decided to try corrupting the Primarch with an anathame blade. This led to Guilliman ripping out the Black Cardinal's primary heart while he was busy gloating.
  • Co-Dragons: Kor Phaeron is a member of the Dark Council, the band of Dark Apostles that rules the Word Bearers in Lorgar's stead, and is engaged in a low-key battle with Erebus for power over the Council.
  • Continuity Nod: Escapes the Ultramarines at the end of "Macragge's Honor" by transporting his forces to Sicarus, the daemon world within the Eye of Terror that will become the Legion's new homeworld after the Heresy.
  • The Corrupter: Serves as this, along with Erebus, to Lorgar.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Genuinely considers Lorgar his son and reacts with horror when Lorgar charges into battle with Corax on Istvaan V to save the Gal Vorbak, knowing that his protege has no chance of defeating the Raven Guard's Primarch.
    • Averted slightly in Aurelian where Ingethel reveals to Lorgar that in one potential future, Kor Phaeron would poison Lorgar at the end of the religious wars on Colchis because he feared he could no longer control him.
  • Evil Gloating: Is quite fond of this. It comes back to bite him on Calth when he spends so long gloating over a prone Guilliman about how he plans to corrupt him to the service of Chaos, that he is caught completely offguard when Guilliman rips out one of hearts.
  • Evil Old Folks: Kor Phaeron was too old when the Emperor arrived at Colchis to become a full Space Marine, but went through extensive surgery and genetic modification to make him fit for battle alongside other Astartes.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Kor Phaeron was born in an orphanage in Colchis, only to become a priest of the Covenant of Colchis then expelled for his radical views. He managed a dramatic return and ascension to power within the Covenant after he adopted Lorgar, following him to reap all the rewards he could. He then rose in the ranks of the Word Bearers and became one of the Traitor Legions' most infamous members.
  • Improvised Armour: His armor is a piecemealed suit of Terminator armor, modified to compensate for his not having the strength needed to move or use its weapons like a full Astartes would.
  • Nepotism: His becoming a sort of-Astartes did not go over well, as roughly half the Legion felt it was only because he was Lorgar's foster father.
  • Religion of Evil: Kor Phaeron was the High Priest of the Covenant, the priesthood whose theocratic rule was the chief power on Colchis, worshipping a Pantheon of deities that were in truth the Chaos Gods in more benevolent forms. After the end of the religious wars between Lorgar's monotheistic sect worshipping the Emperor and those who kept to the Old Faith, Kor Phaeron told his pupil while he still worshipped the Pantheon still, he thought the Emperor the mightiest of them. This would sow the seeds for the Heresy to come.
  • Transhuman: Notably less so than other Astartes, as Kor Phaeron was inducted into the Legion at an age that was frankly unorthodox. He received Astartes bio-implants, but he was already far too old for his body to fully adapt to them. He's effectively an old man kept in a state of relative youth.
  • The Un-Favourite: After completely screwing up on Calth ( namely by disobeying his orders to kill Guilliman and leaving the Word Bearers under his command to die in a hopeless war of attrition), Lorgar hangs Kor Phaeron out to dry, refusing to send him aid against the Ultramarines who have pursued him into the Maelstrom.
  • You Have Failed Me: In Betrayer, Lorgar flatly refuses to send reinforcements to help Kor Phaeron escape the Ultramarines hunting him down in the Maelstrom, remarking that his mentor forfeited any sympathy from his Primarch when he so spectacularly screwed up the attack on Calth.

Argel Tal
When he's human... ...and when he's not 
Captain of the 7th Company of the Serrated Sun Chapter during the Great Crusade, he becomes a Crimson Lord of the Gal Vorbak, the so-called "Blessed Sons", after going through a pilgrimage in the future Eye of Terror.
  • Arc Words: "We die in the shadow of great wings".
  • Apologetic Attacker: In the seconds before the Dropsite Massacre commences, Argel Tal asks an approaching Raven Guard captain pulling back to the second wave's position to forgive him before ordering his men to open fire.
  • Back Stab: A victim of this (both literally and figuratively) at the hands of his old mentor Erebus.
  • Big Red Devil: In his mutated form after Raum's possession takes hold, he becomes a towering, muscular being with long horns, razor-sharp claws, cloven hooves, bulging muscles under reddish skin, and giant leathery wings, in addition to having his crimson armor fuse with his body.
  • BFS: After killing Aquillon, he takes to using his massive sword.
  • Blade on a Stick: Also takes to using another Custodian's halberd.
  • Body Horror: When taken over by Raum, his body literally fuses with his armour.
  • Brass Balls: In Betrayer, when Angron starts mouthing off about Cyrene, Argel Tal bluntly says Angron is not worthy to speak of her. That's right, he told the Primarch of the World Eaters to essentially shut his piehole to his face! And when Angron continues pushing his Berserk Button, Argel Tal goes for his weapons. Granted, Angron stops him, but the Primarch is amused more than anything that Tal had the nerve to try.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He has his moments. The example below is an exchange between Argel Tal and Jago "Sevetar" Sevetarion, 1st Captain of the Night Lords:
    Sevetar: You are late.
    Argel Tal: How perceptive. You can read a chronometer.
  • Demonic Possession: He's possessed by a being called Raum during the Pilgrimage, and his body becomes twisted into a towering demonic form as a result. Raum considers the two of them to be Blood Brothers in his own twisted way.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: To an extent, his death is this. Having expected (like most of the readers) to die fighting the Blood Angels Primarch Sanguinius at the Siege of Terra, he is instead murdered by his old mentor on a backwater world in a far-flung corner of Ultramar.
  • Dual Wielding: He fought with twin swords of red iron, passed down to him from the previous company captain, before breaking them.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Kharn. They're fighing partners in World Eaters' gladiator games and as close as it's possible for Astartes from two different Legions to be.
  • Just Following Orders: With a combination of Undying Loyalty. He explains that only cowards would say that his own acts were based on simple orders, thing is, he is part of the Word Bearers Legion that have a strange connection to Lorgar, and seemly cannot deny any command of their gene-father.
  • Morality Pet: Cyrene and, to an extent, Kharn are this for him, helping the daemonhost keep his humanity.
  • Odd Friendship: Him and Kharn, a Word Bearer and World Eater.
  • Painful Transformation: It's bad enough before Isstvan, when his flesh fuses to his armour. During the battle, the two meld completely, and the pain is so severe that this Space Marine tries to kill himself.
  • Partial Transformation: He can transform part of himself, like turn his arms into knives or mouth into maw.
  • Prophecy Twist: It is prophesised in The First Heretic that Argel Tal would "die in the shadow of great wings". This prediction (along with a vision seen by Lorgar in Aurelian) leads him and others to assume he would die in battle with Sanguinius. His actual death fulfils the prophecy's wording, but in a way no one expected...
  • Religious Bruiser: Like all Word Bearers, he's fiercely devoted to his faith.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: As time goes on, it becomes harder for him to return to his human form. By Betrayer, he's pretty much always in some stage of transformation.
  • Talking to Themself: The way he communicates with Raum.
  • The Captain: Of the Second Company, as well as of the Gal Vorbak.
  • This Cannot Be!: Argel Tal invokes this trope when Erebus fatally stabs him at the end of Betrayer. Argel Tal (along with Lorgar and most of the readership) insists he couldn't die there, as he had assumed the prophecy regarding his death meant he would die fighting the Primarch Sanguinius. Erebus however points out that the murder is being committed in the shadow of an Imperial Aquila atop a downed Titan, fulfilling the prophecy's condition that Argel Tal would "die in the shadow of great wings".
  • Token Good Teammate: Sort of. He's fully aware that everything he's doing damns him, the Imperium, and his Legion for eternity. He considered himself a coward in the sense he never once tries to stop these events, all because he's Just Following Orders.
    • To a point that of all Word Bearers the only one Aquillon, who was responsible for watching the Legion's atonement, trusted at all was him. The other Custodes and many soldiers were somewhat fond of him as well.
    • Not only that, but he also made friends with Kharn of all people (though the World Eaters captain is far more benign during the Heresy).
    • This is why Erebus kills him and Raum. His nature would somehow cost the Traitors the Battle of Terra in every timeline where he survives.
  • Tragic Villain: He goes through a Crisis of Faith that shakes his entire world, complies (or is forced) to make a Pilgrimage through the warp, gets fused with a demon, has to kill his brothers to survive, goes on to witness Cyrene's death, sees her seemingly die a second time as the ship she's on gets shot down, and then is killed by Erebus.
  • Transformation Horror: His changes between human form and Raum-form don't seem pleasant.
  • Undying Loyalty: He would never disobey Lorgar.
  • Weapons-Grade Vocabulary: When an Ultramarine resists him for longer than he can be bothered with, Argel Tal uses this to disarm his opponent.
  • White Sheep: One of the few honestly good Word Bearers. To the extent that he recognises the harm he inflicts.


Chaplain of Argel Tal's company.
  • The Corrupter: Becomes this as the Word Bearers sow the seeds of the Heresy. In particular he is sent to work on the Iron Warriors.
  • Daemonic Possession: Experiences this along with the rest of the Serrated Sun.
  • Evil Wears Black: Even among the Word Bearers, this marks him out.
  • Foil: To Argel Tal, embracing the new way of the Word Bearers as Argel Tal is dragged into it.
  • The Fundamentalist: He absolutely embraces the Legion's new creed.
    • Standing by his tomb, Argel Tal reflects that Xaphan was the most zealous Chaplain the Legion ever had.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: So hard his ribcage is blown inside-out.
  • Sinister Minister: One of the first Dark Apostles.
  • Torture Technician: He refines the method by which the Word Bearers block the Custodians'astropath (torturing other astropaths and binding daemons into their bodies).

Zardu Layak

Master of the Unspeaking Chapter.
  • Blood Is the New Black: He ritually douses his armour with "scalding blood."
  • Canon Immigrant: In a way, as his first appearance is not in a Black Library book but in the Forge World book Tempest.
  • Crisis of Faith: He experiences a low-key one, growing uncertain about just what the Ruinous Powers really want.
  • Evil Mask: With horns, three pairs of eyes, hooks that attach to his face and strange daemonic properties.
  • Face–Heel Turn: On Ullanor he abandons Lorgar, pledging the Unspeaking to Horus.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Only his blade-slave bodyguards are permitted to look upon his face, by the will of the gods.
  • Identity Amnesia: His memory of his past has progressively diminished, resulting in a Loss of Identity.
  • Leave No Survivors: It's noted that Layak's Chapter carried out some of the worst civilian massacres during the Betrayal at Calth.
  • Magic Staff: He wields a force staff.
  • Red Baron: The Crimson Apostle.
  • Smug Snake: During the Siege of Terra, Zardu Layak has Horus' favor, relatively speaking, and Horus has forbidden anyone from killing Layak. This leads to a few conversations where Layak annoys Abbadon and plays the wiseman privy to the designs of the gods.

Barthusa Narek
The one that's trying to help.
Once a Vigilator of the Word Bearers, Barthusa Narek gets wounded at Istvaan V by the Raven Guard and reassigned to the command of Dark Apostle Valdrekk Elias. Less fanatical than his brethren and not as certain about the recent religious revelations in the Legion's ranks, Narek keeps himself apart from the worship of the Chaos Gods until events force him to choose a side.

Due to his character arc taking a lot of twists and turns, this is likely to be spoilerrific even if you don't highlight spoilers.

  • Army Scout: "Vigilator" is a fancy name for a ranger.
  • Badass Boast: Combined with "The Reason You Suck" Speech, Narek gives an epic one to two Possessed Word Bearers who help him reach Macragge without realizing exactly why Narek wants to go there:
    Narek: I believe in the Word of our Primarch and I believe that Word makes us loyal to the Emperor. We are of the Word, and thus we are of the Emperor. It was ever thus. I despise the steps my Legion-kin have taken to embrace the Outer Dark. Too many steps, too far.
    Barbos Kha: What are you saying, Narek?
    Narek: I'm saying receive my thanks.
    [Blows Barbos Kha's head clean off with a few pistol shots, and kills Ulkas Tul at close range with a sniper rifle.]
  • Cold Sniper: Narek lives this trope. He is one of the best shots in the entire series, with plenty of evidence in each of his appearances, and openly admits that he prefers to kill quietly and from a distance. He's also a cold unfeeling Knight Templar bastard.
  • Defector from Decadence: He refuses to partake in his Legion's fall to Chaos, making him the only known loyalist Word Bearer in the entire series.
  • Friendly Sniper: Averted. Narek is cold and unfriendly to those who he actually speaks to, which isn't many people.
  • Good is Not Nice: At times, you have to work hard to convince yourself that he is, indeed, a good guy.
  • Heel–Face Brainwashing: Malcador infuses him with a soul of a Librarian to create an artificial identity of "Kaspar Hecht" for him, convincing Narek that he's a Knight Errant. It works for a time.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Switches sides partway through Vulkan Lives.
  • Heel Realization: Has two of them. The first time comes on Traoris and has him defect from the Word Bearers. The second time comes after he has touched the Emperor's Fulgurite and has him affirm his ultimate belief that the Emperor is God and he is on a mission from him.
  • Identity Amnesia: He briefly forgets who he is at the start of Deathfire. It's more than partially engineered.
  • Just Following Orders: Averted. Narek defies the theory that the Word Bearers cannot disobey orders from Lorgar by keeping himself apart from worship of the Dark Gods and later turning on his Legion.
  • Knight Templar: Do not stand in Narek's way or he will kill you. Even if you are a Primarch who serves the same Emperor that Narek worships, he will end you if you get in his way.
  • Manly Tears: Cried these when he saw Monarchia destroyed by the Emperor.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: He's arrested and set for execution for Vulkan's murder, even though it's John Grammaticus who does the deed.
  • Mook–Face Turn: Rejects his Primarch and defects from his Legion.
  • Plot Armor: Sometimes you can't help but wonder if there isn't some truth to his claims.
  • Religious Bruiser: Turns into downright fanatical, albeit for the Emperor rather than Chaos.
  • Split Personality: In Deathfire he spends a long time believing himself to be Knight Errant named Kasper Hecht, and after the lie is revealed, he spends some time wrestling with two personalities before finally reasetting himself as Narek.
  • Token Good Teammate: Both played straight and averted. By dint of what he wants to achieve, Narek can be called a good guy. But he does not associate with the Loyalists and is willing to murder them and innocent civilians, both of which he does multiple times, to get closer to his goal of killing Lorgar.
  • Walking Spoiler: Well, duh.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: What he wants, Lorgar's death, is something that no Loyalist can argue against. What he'll do to get it, take part in an attempt to murder Vulkan in exchange for a weapon capable of killing Lorgar, is where other characters take exception.
  • White Sheep: So far, the only Word Bearer not to fall to Chaos.
  • Wild Card: Even when his and your goals are the same, you can never be sure if he's really on your side and how long he'll remain on it.

     XX Legion: Alpha Legion 

The Legion
Number: XX
Original Name: Alpha Legion
Primarch(s): Alpharius and Omegon

The Alpha Legion is the extremely secretive and inscrutable Twentieth Legion. The history of the Legion is shrouded in secrecy and what is known about them is usually contradictory. Probably formed in secret to perform unusual operations such as counter-espionage, assassination and sabotage, the Alpha Legion was reunited with Alpharius and Omegon at an undisclosed point of their history. The twin Primarchs increased the Legion's specialization in subterfuge and special operations to weaken the enemy to the point the final assault would be comparatively effortless, perhaps as a way to compensate for their Legion's short history. Alpharius was contacted by the Cabal at one point and preemptively learned of the Horus Heresy, choosing to side with Horus so that at the end, the traitors would win but Horus would destroy the Imperium in the process, saving the galaxy from Chaos.

The Alpha Legion joined Horus at the start of the civil war, participating in the Dropsite Massacre on Isstvan V. They then performed a number of secret operations to keep a delicate balance between the loyalists and the traitors. This double play ended when Alpharius led an assault on Pluto and was killed by Rogal Dorn, at least apparently.

The Alpha Legion is a force of consummate professionals who prefer to operate in the shadows rather than performing straightforward assaults. The Legion behaves more like an army of spies and commandos rathers than soldiers as they infiltrate enemy organizations, perform surgical strikes against critical targets, cause civil unrest, and deploy many stratagems to confuses their targets. Their secrecy goes to the point all the Legionaries of the Twentieth claim to be Alpharius. The Alpha Legion's standard color scheme is teal with silver trim, but they are also known to wear black, blue, purple, and the colors of both traitor and loyalist legions.

  • Adaptational Dumbass: For some reason, Dawn of War used the Alpha Legion as The Usual Adversaries. In the game Alpha Legion warlords are portrayed as Chaos-mad lunatics rather than the mysterious schemers they are in the tabletop game. Not totally impossible considering they're Chaos Marines, but still out of character compared to all of their other portrayals.
  • Alphabetical Theme Naming: Pretty much everything, from their Primarchs to ships to battle lingo, is named with the letters of the Greek (or "Grecon") alphabet.
  • Agent Provocateur: They are fond of using human operatives to incite rebellion and unrest on a target planet and then swoop in and take it.
  • Animal Motifs: The hydra, symbolizing the fact that their Primarch Alpharius is actually two people, that many members of the legion routinely impersonate him, and their ability to strike from the most unexpected angles.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Hydra Dominatus!"
    • "I am Alpharius."
    • "For the Emperor!" note 
  • Balkanize Me: It's implied that the Legion's decentralized command structure worked against it after the Heresy ended. It has apparently splintered into many disparate groups with very different goals and ideologies, to an even extent greater than the other Legions that splintered into warbands.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: During the Drop Site Massacre, the Alpha Legion planted sleeper agents within the Salamanders, Raven Guard, and Iron Hands by impersonating dead legionaries. The Alpha Legion selected corpses, grafted their faces into agents, and had the agents eat the dead's brain matter to absorb their memories.
  • Devious Daggers: Alpha Legion training highlights knife combat. One of the "Alpharius"es infiltrating the Raven Guard almost blows his cover when he uses a knife trick involving switching hands during a sparring session. In the actual game, the Alpha Legion has access to power knives, which are rather weak for an Astartes weapon, but have the potential to punch right through power armor with a skilled strike.
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: They join Horus, but in reality stay loyal to the Emperor, but actually work for the Cabal, while in fact they work only for their Primarchs. Or they might truly work for any of the above. Add to that the fact that many don't know who they really work for, one or both siblings might've fallen to Chaos, or one might be working against the other and pulling part of the Legion with him, and the true loyalties of the Legionnaires are pretty much impossible to discern.
  • False Flag Operation: Pretty much their hat; it's implied they've been masquerading as other Legions for decades prior to Alpharius' arrival.
  • Hidden Army Reveal: While there were well-founded rumours of a "Ghost Legion" operating before their Primarch publicly took command, and a XX Legion contingent offered aid to Lion el'Jonson during this time, the full-strength Legion still seemingly sprang into being out of nowhere after Alpharius was reunited with them.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja: Inverted. While their teal and silver armor is hardly inconspicuous, they rarely operate without covering it up with disguise or camouflage.
  • I Am Spartacus: They identify themselves with the phrase "I am Alpharius" when asked who they are.
  • Master of Disguise:
    • The Alpha Legion has mastered the art of impersonation. Internally, many Legionnaires have had plastic surgery to resemble Alpharius, and they even have a ritual where drinking their Primarchs' blood and a little psychic manipulation can cause them to actually believe they are Alpharius, and Alpharius on one occasion does the reverse to infiltrate into the Sol system as one of his Legionnaires.
    • Externally, they have been known to use plastic surgery or full face transplants to Kill and Replace members of other legions, both traitor and loyalist.
    • Used on a larger scale at the very beginning of the Heresy. The Alpha Legion fleet appears to be huge, able to pose a credible threat to both the Space Wolves and White Scars fleets simultaneously. Characteristically, they achieved this by building "dummy" (meaning unarmed mock-up) warships to make their fleets seem larger than they actually were, in order to delay the White Scars until the real Alpha Legion ships were able to finish off the Space Wolves.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • After a fashion. In Imperial terminology, "alpha legion" is one that's going through first-tier tests at the momentnote , which implies that they've been taken out of the regular Legion-creation process after its very first stage.
    • As the XX Legion, their designation is a Historical In-Joke which alludes to the UK's Double-Cross System (or XX System), which was an operation overseen by {=MI-5=} dedicated to rooting out and flipping Nazi spies on UK soil.
  • The Mole:
    • They specialize in subverting personnel, creating usefully-placed operatives and spy networks, even amongst their allies. Their future iteration heavily relies on founding entire networks of Chaos cults to create allied forces out of loyal Imperial citizens.
    • Even with nominal enemies in their back pockets, the Alpha Legion are not shy about sending Legionnaires into the thick of it to lay groundwork for operations or preparing a battleground.
    • They even send Legionnaires into the ranks of their allies to better serve the Alpha Legion's interests.
  • Motive Decay: As the Heresy goes on, their motives become more and more fuzzy.
  • Open Secret: Within the Legion, it's well-known that there are two Primarchs.
  • The Resenter: They resent the attention and honours the other Legions receive, while they're forced to work in shadows.
  • Secret-Keeper: They keep up the pretense of having only one Primarch in front of everyone else.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Nothing's known of where they come from, what they're actually doing and what their true loyalties are. Even where they recruit from is a secret.
  • Shrug of God: Prior to Alpha Legion members, including Alpharius and Omegon taking on narrative perspectives in the Horus Heresy, the Alpha Legion's signature was covert actions and secrecy to the point that the writers deliberately fleshed out very little about them. As the series rolls on, this is becoming less and less the case as we learn more about them, though much of the 'verse still remains ignorant about them.
  • Trigger Phrase: The Alpha Legion has planted many operatives in advance in the Sol System, and all of them were hypno-indoctrinated into responding to several trigger words. For instance "Xenophon" makes it so they'll work for the Emperor while "Sagittary" triggers the opposite effect. They also had trigger words for hundreds of other situation if needed.
  • Unknown Rival: To Ultramarines, thanks to Roboute Guilliman criticising their tactics and the Thirteenth being much more accomplished and rubbing this fact in the Legionnaires' faces.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: The Alpha Legion's double play becomes so intricate that they may even perform attacks on each other, as Omegon orders a strike on a special Alpha Legion facility.
  • Youngest Child Wins: They're the ones to get two Primarchs.

Sheed Ranko

Captain of the Lernaeans, the elite force of the Alpha Legion. Also a trusted agent of Omegon's, performing operations that require absolute secrecy and advising his lord(s) whenever necessary.

  • The Captain: His rank among the Alpha Legion.
  • Easy Impersonation: All he needs to do is to drink some of Omegon's blood and keep his helmet on.
  • Elite Army: The Lernaean are this, as are the task forces he usually works with.
  • False Flag Operation: Specializes in those.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Takes Omegon's place in mission to Tenebrae, knowing that nobody's coming back from it.
  • Lightning Bruiser: While one may suppose Terminator armour doesn't allow it, when out of it he can be lightning fast.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Wears his helmet at all times when pretending to be Omegon.
  • Number Two: Pretty much serves this way to Alpharius and Omegon, especially the latter.
  • Suicide Mission: His last mission turns out to be this. He knew about it from the start.
  • Take Me Instead: Switches places with Omegon on a suicide mission.
  • The Infiltration: Another of his specialities.
  • The Reliable One: He's known to be the man to go to when something covert and secretive has to be done, and Omegon trusts him a great deal.
  • Walking Spoiler: The details of his demise via heroic sacrifice are a huge spoiler for The Serpent Beneath, one of the most Mind Screwey stories in the entire Horus Heresy.
  • Willing Channeler: He willingly accepts Omegon's memories and behavioral patterns to imitate him better.
  • Undying Loyalty: There's nothing he wouldn't do for his Primarchs.


One of the many, many agents the twins send among the Raven Guard to ensure the Legion remains incapable of contributing to Imperium's defense. He doesn't remember his true name - like with all other moles, it was erased and replaced with "Alpharius".

  • All the Other Reindeer: He certainly feels like an outsider among the Raven Guard, thanks to his unique perspective and the fact that, well, he's an Alpha Legionnaire. The fact that this feels wrong to him is a source of some distress to him.
  • Anti-Villain: Sympathethic in his motifs, and kind of sorry for what he has to do, but nevertheless committed to his goals.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Impersonates a dead Raven Guard to infiltrate the Legion.
  • Eat Brain for Memories: How he acquires memories of the man he impersonates - for an Astartes, human brains possess memories that can be extracted by eating them.
  • False Flag Operation: Does his covert assignment by pretending to be his enemy.
  • Friendly Enemy: He grows fond of the aspirants he has under his care as Raven Guard instructor and pities the fact that in the end, they must all die.
  • Glamour Failure:
    • He doesn't know everything and sometimes has to think on his feet to keep this from happening.
    • Inasmuch as he can alter his appearance, his gene-seed is that of Alpharius, not Corax, which means that a cursory DNA test can out him.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Gives up his identity and memories for the good of the universe.
  • I Am Spartacus: He's one of several dozen Legionnaires with identity of "Alpharius" implanted into his mind.
  • In the End, You Are on Your Own: Inverted; he starts off having no idea which one of his fellow legionaries is another covert operative, but they find each other by the end.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: He has his memories and identity of an Alpha Legionnaire completely erased save for the part where he knows who he truly is, what the stakes are and whom he serves and why.
  • Lost in Character: He has moments of forgetting he's an Alpha Legionnaire and immersing himself a bit too much in his role as a Raven Guard. He finds it troubling.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: He's one of very few "grunt" P.O.V. characters in the stories.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: His mission is to do this to the entire Raven Guard Legion by spilling daemon blood into their gene-seed and thus causing them to self-destruct.
  • No Name Given: Neither the name he had before becoming "Alpharius" nor the one he assumed as a fake Raven Guard are given in narrative.
  • Surgical Impersonation: Apart from memory-eating, his disguise hinges on the fact that he has taken a Guard's face via surgery.
  • The Mole: Legion's mole in the Raven Guard.
  • The Resenter: He sometimes shows shades of this, noting that while other Primarchs were welcomed with open arms and great celebrations to their honour, Alpharius-Omegon's arrival was more of "there you are at last, now get down to work", and the Legion was never given a proper "rebirth", as if rather than the apex if the Crusade, finding the last Primarch was just an afterthought.
  • The Quiet One: The personality he's assumed was known to be rather introverted and he's more than happy to continue with this image, as it reduces the chance of Glamour Failure.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: He wholeheartedly believes that Alpha Legion's cause is right.

Kel Silonius

Harrowmaster of the Legion.

  • The Captain: Harrowmaster is one of the few formal ranks the Legion employs.
  • Dual Wielding: Hangs on to the two blades he awakens with. They turn out to be parts of the disassembled Pale Spear.

Armillus Dynat

A Harrowmaster of the Alpha Legion

  • The Dreaded: He's said to be one of the most feared commanders of the Alpha Legion, based primarily on his successful invasion of a forge world defended by a Titan legion and an entire grand company of loyalist Iron Warriors.
  • Drop the Hammer: He uses a thunder hammer as one of his primary weapons.
  • Dual Wielding: He dual wields a power sword and thunder hammer in battle.
  • Facial Markings: His official illustration and Forge World model both depict him with a hydra tattooed across the right side of his face.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: He's known as the "Griefbringer", and his name is said to be a construct from several old Terran languages which translates roughly to "the fallen prince/false prophet who destroys with power".
  • Red Baron: The Griefbringer.
  • Shock and Awe: This is his preferred battle style; he uses armored assaults backed up by close air support to shatter enemy formations before destroying them in detail.