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It's time for Abaddon to get badass.
From shame and shadow recast. In black and gold reborn.
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Black Legion is an ongoing Warhammer 40,000 book series by Aaron Dembski-Bowden detailing the backstory of the eponymous legion and their commander, Abaddon the Despoiler.

Iskandar Khayon, one of the founding members of the Black Legion, has surrendered himself to the Inquisition. Imprisoned and bereft of sight, both physical and psychic, Khayon tells his story to a transcription servitor.

The series consists of:

  • The Talon of Horus (September 2014)
  • Abbadon: Chosen of Chaos (December 2013) - Set after the events of The Talon of Horus (and The Black Legion) but published before as a sneak preview of sorts.
  • The Black Legion (August 2017)

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Tropes featured

  • A Father to His Men: Played surprisingly straight by Abaddon. Gone is the bellicose gloryhound of the Horus Heresy novels and far distant is the megalomaniac Bad Boss of the 41st millennium. He's shown to be charismatic and empathic to the needs of his soldiers (whilst still asserting his will to achieve his goals). Khayon is especially impressed / disturbed that he knows the name and notable deeds of every single soldier he meets aboard the Tlaloc. He even manages to elicit a vague reaction from the usually unresponsive Rubricae.
  • Affably Evil: Khayon is polite and civil to most people, including his captors and people he doesn't even especially like. In the case of the Inquisition, he is actually completely sanguine about being EXACTLY where he is and why..
  • An Arm and a Leg: Khayon loses his left arm at the elbow in a duel with an Iron Warriors champion loyal to Daravek. It is replaced with an augmetic prosthesis that gradually mutates into something more Chaotic by the time he is an Imperial prisoner.
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  • An Axe to Grind: Khayon's signature weapon is a Fenrisian axe named Saern (Truth), taken as a trophy during the Battle of Prospero. The clone of Horus end up breaking it apart. Lheorvine and his World Eaters warband make use of chain axes.
  • Anti-Villain: Khayon is a lot nicer than most other Chaos space marines and even loyalist Astartes. He's troubled by the memories of the Burning of Prospero and his goal is not as much domination as it is to find a cause - and brothers - worth fighting for.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: Abaddon seems genuinely remorseful about having to kill Sigismund, despite knowing their last meeting could have ended no other way.
    Khayon: He did not answer, nor did he watch as I left. He was seeing Sigismund again, dwelling on replies he could never speak to a brother he had once admired and who had died despising him.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The Solar Priest is a personification of the Astronomican's light and appears to Tlaloc's crew as a spindly man in a golden mask. He mentions another aspect of the beacon, called the Warlord, but we don't get to see it.
  • Batman Gambit: Abaddon reveals that he sent Sargon counting on Falkus summoning Khayne and Lheor to aid him and the three of them acting just like they did, unable to resist the prize that is the Vengeful Spirit.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: In a way, this is the reason the Governess gives for liking Khayon - he's one of the few people to treat her with respect.
  • Betrayal by Inaction: Why Khayon hates Telemachon initially: Telemachon's forces were supposed to reinforce Khayon's during the Siege of Terra, but instead they broke off to join the rest of the Emperor's Children in massacring Terra's civilian population, leaving the Thousand Sons under Khayon's command at the mercy of the Blood Angels. When Khayon confronts him about it, Telemachon is indifferent, even pointing out that at least the Thousand Sons who died because of his inaction died warriors' deaths fighting to besiege the Imperial Palace, rather than being reduced to undead automatons by the Rubric of Ahriman.
    • In Black Legion, Lheor accuses Telemachon's lieutenant Zaidu of this, claiming Zaidu deliberately held off reinforcing Lheor and his men against Thagus Daravek's Death Guard.
  • BFG: Lheor takes a heavy bolter into pretty much every battle he fights.
  • Black and Gray Morality: The Emperor's Children vs. the Black Legion conflict, with the Children being Black (live only for pleasure, willing to commit the sin of cloning a Primarch), and Legion, with their Even Evil Has Standards, being gray.
  • The Black Knight: Vortigern, a Fallen Angel who has become a senior member of the Legion.
  • Blatant Lies: Sure, walking through the sorcerous gate is just like teleportation. It's not like you have to fight through scores of daemons and fight a tide on the way...
  • Blunt "Yes": When Abaddon asks why they're on the Vengeful Spirit, Lheorvine outright states that they're there to steal it.
  • Brown Note: The Talon of Horus, to anyone with psychic senses, due to the fact it was used to kill Sanguinius and mortally wound the Emperor.
    • Drachnyen is noted to be one for Khayon in The Black Legion. He tells his Inquisitorial captors that one advantage of being in their custody is that he's far, far away from it.
    • In Chosen of Chaos Abaddon is now one of these due to carrying both the Talon and Drachnyen (as well as receiving a variety of blessing from the Chaos Gods). Khayon, a powerful warp sorcerer himself, finds it difficult and unpleasant to even look at him.
    • Leaving the Eye of Terror has this effect on all the members of the Black Legion, regardless of gene type. The Astartes simply take time to adjust to corporeal newtonian physics reapplying themselves, partly because they have memories of what it was like before. The mutants and humans born in the Eye, however, have a full blown reaction to realspace because the very lack of the warp is utterly alien to them. Even Khayon, who normally wouldn't think twice about his slaves, feels a modicum of sympathy for them for this.
  • Call to Adventure: For Lheor and Khayon, Falkus' call for a meeting aboard His Chosen Son, when he outlines the plan to find the Vengeful Spirit.
  • Canis Major: Gyre takes the form of a massive Fenrisian wolf during the Battle of Prospero.
  • Character Development: It has been explained by BL authors that the named characters often are portrayed different, Depending on the Writer being in full effect. Abaddon however clearly is different from the Horus Heresy series, this due to his voyages through the Warp since Horus defeat.
  • Clone Degeneration: We get to see Fabius Bile's failed attempts to clone Horus. Then we see that not only had he succeeded, but he had moved onto the other Traitor Primarchs.
    • This is why Chaos Space Marines see cloning as a taboo: cloning an Astartes rarely works well.
  • Collector of the Strange: Abaddon has a wide collection of trophies from his centuries-old pilgrimage, from the talon of Horus to the skull of a giant serpent creature.
  • Colony Drop: Khayon lobs the Tlaloc at the Canticle City.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In ADB's previous series, Night Lords, First Claw meets Falkus Kibre and the remains of the Justaerin, noting that they reek of corruption and possession. In The Talon of Horus we find out how it happened.
    • In John French's Ahriman novels, Khayon is mentioned obliquely as the leader of the anti-Rubric faction within the Thousand Sons. He elaborates a bit more on it in Talon of Horus. By the time they meet again, hundreds of years later, the enmity has cooled off slightly; Khayon is willing to tacitly help Ahriman achieve his goal of returning to Sortiarius.
    • Fabius's own novel - "Primogenitor" refers to the events of the book a few times. It's noted as being the last time that Fabius took any authority role in the Emperor's Children and left them in disgust (whilst conspicuously not mentioning how he got out of Abaddon's custody after the battle with the clone of Horus.. The sequel - Clonelord - shows that Harmony is still around afterwards and that not every clone was destroyed in the battle, as well as indicating Fabius still holds a grudge against Abaddon for destroying his life's work and that despite destroying his facilities, the Black Legion are more than happy to take advantage of his services, though Abaddon is said to despise Fabius's "New Men" superhumans to the point of ordering them killed on sight, and plenty within the Black Legion are said to be urging Abaddon to eliminate Fabius for good. Fabius also notes that Abaddon's ascendancy is rapidly threatening the balance of power within the Eye and leaving Fabius few neutral places to practice his craft in peace.
  • Continuity Snarl: Both Khayon, Ashur-Kai, and their Rubric Marines are described as wearing the blue armor associated with 40k era Thousand Sons. However, other material (including John French's Ahriman novels) indicate that only the Thousand Son's under Ahriman underwent this change whilst the rest of the legion kept their old red colour or chose their own. It's possible that it's just a coincidental repaint.
    • The Abbadon: Chosen of Chaos short story takes an appreciable time after The Black Legion but Khayon asks Abbadon if he want's him to fetch the White Seer, which was Ashur-Kai's title, despite having long since been gone by that point.
  • Cool Starship: Vengeful Spirit, especially after Anamnesis bonds with her, if one's willing to forget about tortured souls embedded in its hull. It's enormous, sturdy and mounts truly impressive firepower.
    • Equalled by the Eternal Crusader, now revealed to be the Imperial Fists Gloriana class Battleship and counterpart to the Vengeful Spirit.
  • Cool Sword: In The Black Legion Khayon has forged one from a shard of Sanguinius' broken sword.
  • Covers Always Lie: On the cover of Talon of Horus Abaddon is portrayed in his signature topknot and with his cursed blade, Drach'nyen. In the book, he keeps his hair loose (Khayon notes it as one of the signs that he's changed), and is still centuries from acquiring the sword. Aaron Dembski Bowden lampshaded this himself, noting that because 40k Abbadon was one of the most distinctive characters of the entire setting, it would have to include him on it.
  • Creating Life: Fabius Bile engineered the attack on Lupercalios so he could steal Horus's body. Given his career, the protagonists conclude he is planning to clone Horus and that must be stopped.
    • Although the Horus Heresy novels show that he's actually been doing it for quite a while, with varying degrees of success. The eventual Horus clone is the first one that seems to be physically stable and as close to the original as possible. Mentally, it's a confused wreck due to Horus's soul being annihilated.
  • Dead All Along: Nefertari has been dead since a battle with Zarakynel, a Keeper of Secrets, and Khayon has been sustaining her existence with his psychic powers. Khayon believes if she learns about this she would die for real.
    • Played with in The Black Legion. According to Thagus Daravek, Khayon himself died at Drol Kier, and is a secret manchurian agent. It turns out to not be true ultimately.
  • Dead Guy on Display: The Black Legion are fond of doing this with the corpses of those who cross them. Averted with their treatment of Sigismund.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Lheorvine Ukris. He's like a blend of Cyrion's wit and Uzas's blunt attitude.
  • Death by Origin Story: Before he became an Astartes, Khayon lost his sister Itzara to a psychneuein attack. Although she survived, the larvae weren't removed before they consumed half her brain. He eventually gave her to the Mechanicum, who turned her into the Anamnesis.
  • Defector from Decadence: Moriana, Abaddon's pet seeress is implied, by both her own admission and Khayon's insinuations to have been a member of the Ecclesiarchy, the Inquisition or both before she abandoned the Imperium and turned to Chaos. Moriana even admits that she still believes the Emperor is a god, albeit one no longer worthy of worship.
  • Demonic Possession: After escaping the III Legion ambush, Kibre's surviving warband have become daemonhosts. Khayon later uses an incomplete version of this as one of his many, many ways of bringing down fortresses singlehanded.
    • In Black Legion, a warband of "Secondborn", known as the Riven and headed by the former World Eater Delvarus guards the Vengeful Spirit. Khayon also notes that in future battles, he forced daemonic possession on captives from Loyalist chapters to quickly create fresh troops.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Most of the founding members of the Black Legion exhibit this mindset. Abaddon brings them together and gives them the Black Legion.
    • Khayon is traveling from place to place, working with anyone for knowledge and weapons, and almost jumps at Falkus' call for aid. As Gyre puts it, "[he's] a warrior without a war".
    • Telemachon strives for more than just raiding and the Emperor's Children's rampant indulgence, but hides it beneath a literal and figurative mask of contempt.
    • Falkus, after Horus' body is stolen by the Emperor's Children and the Sons of Horus' stronghold is destroyed, is pretty much adrift with no identity, no purpose and nowhere else to go to. He calls Khayon to help with an almost suicidal revenge plan, since his former purpose of guarding Horus' body is now ended.
  • Doomed by Canon: It's not explicit but Khayon mentions that the Black Legion invade Commoragh to wipe out a noble house there in vengeance for taking Nefertari from Khayon.
    • Another subtle example of this is that during all his musings about the present Black Legion and it's warlords, Khayon never once wonders what Lheor is doing. He also briefly mentions a battle where "his blood was running into the Tuva River on the world of Mackan." It's later confirmed in The Black Legion but Khayon states it off hand in a "As I've Already Told You" kind of commnet".
    • The Talon of Horus ends with Sigismund confronting Abaddon. Seeing that Abaddon is alive and Sigismund is nowhere to be found as of the present day, it's easy to see what's going to happen.
    • The sections of each part of The Black Legion are prefaced with rambling confessions from the Inquisitorial interrogation of Sargon, implying that he was captured and tortured to death in the future.
    • A minor aversion with Khayon himself in relation to the post Gathering-Storm plotline. He was mentioned as still being alive several months just before the attack on Terra but his fate afterwards is not mentioned.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Seems to be a Khayon family trait of a kind:
    • Along with I Have Many Names and Not Me This Time below, Sekhandur resents being called people he isn't, such as Zaraphiston, who is an entirely different person (as well as a Seer, something Khayon despises on principle) and Ygethmor, which is a title given to several sorcerers (but which he never explicitly denies).
    • Anamnesis doesn't like being called by her birth name, Itzara, as she claims that she is now both much more and much less than Sekhandur's sister.
  • Dual Wielding: Telemachon fights with two swords, adding to his Master Swordsman repute. Khayon speculates that he decided on this style because of its inherent Rule of Cool, but it works for him nevertheless.
  • Duels Decide Everything: Captains in the Black Legion use duels to settle disputes, presided over by Abaddon. Khayon notes that Abaddon does so for two reasons: firstly, it allows him to assert his authority over his subordinates in the Black Legion, and secondly, it stops his commanders taking matters into their own hands to solve grudges by murdering each other behind Abaddon's back.
  • Due to the Dead: Although they use it to send their declaration of war to the High Lords of Terra, the Black Legion do not desecrate Sigismund's body for trophies, instead according him the respect due to a Worthy Opponent and fellow veteran of the Great Crusade.
  • Dying Curse: Sigismund uses his last breath to spit one at Abaddon, remarking that his fate will be no different from Horus.
    Sigismund: You will die as your weakling father died. Soulless. Honourless. Weeping. Ashamed.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Lheorvine Ukris hates the nickname "Firefist". We learn how he got it (and why he dislikes it) when Khayon sees Lheorvine's most traumatic moment: his hands were blown up by a malfunctioning plasma cannon during the Siege of Terra.
  • Empty Shell: The Rubrics are literally this, being dusted remains of non-psyker Thousand Sons sealed in their power armor. They're barely conscious and follow Khayon's every order. By the end, Mekhari manages to regain his sentience enough to sacrifice himself to save Khayon.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The Black Legion accepts everyone, whether they're possessed, mutants, traitors to their home Legion, sorcerers or, in case of Nefertari, a xeno. Contrast this with how the Imperium shoots on sight anyone who's not gene-pure, human and an Emperor-worshiper.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even the Chaos Space Marines consider cloning to be an abomination. And that includes some of the Emperor's Children.
    Khayon: You took Horus's body. Tell me why.
    Telemachon: That had nothing to do with me. That was Lord Fabius and his laboratory ilk ranting about the promise of cloning. My warband goes nowhere near their domain, and we share none of their passion for genetic perversion.
    • Abaddon also invokes this when asked why he disappeared after the end of the Horus Heresy: he states that Horus's death made the campaign to overthrow the Emperor and claim the Imperium (the only war that mattered in Abaddon's view) a failure, and he had no desire to embroil himself in the petty squabbling over territory and resources at the core of the Legion Wars.
  • Evil Albino: Ashur-Kai Qezremah, the White Seer, although he is no more evil than any other character in the series.
  • Eye Scream: Khayon's jailers remove his sight, both physical and psychic. During the Battle of Prospero, Khayon drove a thumb into a Space Wolf's eye to start tearing his head apart.
  • Fantastic Racism: Some of the other Chaos Marines feel that Khayon's friendship with Nefertari is wrong. Nevertheless, they tolerate her and a few (such as Ugrivian) actually strike up a sort of friendship.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Being handed over to Nefertari is considered to be this, presumably because as a Dark Eldar, she can and will make your death as slow and drawn out as possible.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: On approach to Gallium, both Khayon and Ashur-Kai (who are, it should be noted, warp sorcerers and traitor space marines) are personally revolted by the fact that one of the warships docked at the Halo is called The Skinner;
  • Fetus Terrible: The unborn Primarch clones aboard the Fleshmarket, especially those which didn't succeed.
  • Five-Man Band: Done twice:
    • The creators of the Black Legion:
      • The Leader: Abaddon, whom everyone obeys.
      • The Lancer: Falkus, who lobbied among others to have it done.
      • The Big Guy: Lheor, who packs the biggest punch.
      • The Smart Guy: Khayon, the sorcerer with extensive knowledge of the Warp.
      • The Chick: Sargon, who leads the others to the Vengeful Spirit and whose visions convince the entire team to join up.
    • Khayon has his own Five-Man Band in the beginning of the story:
      • The Leader: Sekhandur, as the commander of Tlaloc.
      • The Lancer: Gyre, his faithful daemon.
      • The Big Guy: the Ragged Knight, insanely powerful Khornate daemon. Later replaced by Lheor.
      • The Smart Guy: Ashur-Kai, who runs the ship for Khayon.
      • The Chick: Nefertari, Khayon's "bloodward".
  • Flashback Within a Flashback: While telling his story, Khayon includes flashbacks to the Battle of Prospero and an encounter with Zarakynel. He also drops hints about (from the perspective of the story he's currently telling) flash-forwards to events that happen after the first book but before the present day.
  • Foil: Thagus Darevek to Abbadon himself. Both have very similar aims and goals but wildly different outlooks on how to do it and why. Thagus welcomes the gifts of the Chaos Gods and is happy to go along with their schemes whilst gaining control of the remaining legions for the sake of power itself. Abbadon actively resists their temptations, and only uses their blessing out of necessity as part of his goal to unite the remaining legions under one banner to take revenge on the Imperium.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The reader knows that Abaddon will succeed in creating the Black Legion, as that's what the story's about, and that Khayon will survive those events, as the whole story is his flashback. Those who recall Dembski-Bowden's previous series, Night Lords, will also know that Falkus survives, as the characters in those books meet him, millennia later.
  • Foreshadowing: Djedhor is the more responsive of the two Rubrics that accompany Khayon and Sekhandur hopes that there's still some humanity left in him. Subverted, as it's Mekhari, the less responsive Rubric, who regains his sentience just in time for a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Framing Story: Khayon is telling the story to an Inquisitorial transcription servitor and later to Inquisitors themselves.
  • Heel–Face Brainwashing: Telemachon is Mind Raped by Khayon into obedience and so is pretty much swiped up into the budding Black Legion. Later, after Khayon fixes him back, he stays.
  • Hellhole Prison: The Eye of Terror, naturally, albeit a more literal example than most. Discussed at length by Khayon, who even calls it a "convenient hell to throw your enemies into" for the Imperial perspective.
    • It's an especially unsafe place for Nefertari, as the Eye is pretty much the most dangerous place an Eldar can go. The fact she is there ought to be a heavy indication of how desperate she is to hide away from her kin in Commoragh.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Exploited by Khayon during the battle of Prospero, when he uses the fact that Space Wolves don't wear helmets to kill them.
  • Herald: Two, even.
    • Falkus for Khayon and Lheor. It was him summoning the two and telling them about his plan to find Vengeful Spirit and raid Canticle City that started everyone on the path to Black Legion.
    • Sargon to Falkus, as he surrendered to the Justaerin and told them about the Vengeful Spirit, ultimately leading them to Abaddon.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Mekhari remembers enough to stand in Horus' clone's way and protect his erstwhile friend from dying.
  • Hero Killer: Many of those who survived the entire book start dying when the clone of Horus shows up. As Khayon puts it:
    And that is when we started to die.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Telemachon Lyras looks like just another Slaanesh-worshiping psychopath at first. However, it's revealed he does seek a purpose beyond hedonism and most prominently is the first character to get the Anamnesis to show human emotion by giving a surprisingly heartfelt account of Chemos's legends.
    • Ugrivian shows this while fighting. He tries to approach the Butcher's Nails with a more intellectual degree, trying to see its effects and limits during practice.
  • Horrifying the Horror: As the nascent Black Legion rampages through Fabius's flagship, they encounter horrors of all sorts. Being Chaos Space Marines, a Dark Eldar Scourge, and a Daemon, none of it fazes them until they see what is in Fabius's laboratory: Fabius hadn't just succeeded in cloning Horus, he was starting to clone the other Traitor Primarchs. A couple of the Marines are temporarily struck by instinctive fear and awe. Nefertari is the only one that isn't horrified by this; (She saw worse in Commorragh). When coming across a pod:
    Nefertari: (genuinely confused) What is wrong? What is it?
    Khayon: (horrified) Lorgar. That is Lorgar.
  • Hypocrite: Khayon considers the Emperor's Children this; when addressing a Third Legion commander trying to exterminate Falkus and the Sons of Horus with him, Khayon points out the Emperor's Children are in no position to take the moral high ground over the Sons for fleeing with Horus's body, when theThird Legion's main action in the siege of Terra was to abandon those fighting to capture the Imperial Palace so they could indulge themselves in massacring Terra's civilian population.
  • I Have Many Names:
    • Iskandar Khayon is also known as Sekhandur Cain, Khayon the Black, and Kingbreaker, not to mention dozens of others the Inqusition has him filed under. Among the names attributed to him but that he doesn't personally acknowledge is Ygethmor (a name mentioned to be one of Abaddon's followers). Ashur-Kai is also known as the White Seer.
    • The Solar Priest calls itself several ways apart from this - the Avatar, the Astronomican, the Imperious, the Voice and the Ghost among others.
  • Insistent Terminology: Throughout the book, Khayon insists that the Black Legion are not the same thing as the Sons of Horus. He has a lot to back up his claim. After the Emperor's Children took Horus's body as plunder, the Sons of Horus were informally disbanded, and Abbadon used what remained of them and elements from other Legions to form a coalition force called the Black Legion. In addition: they reject Horus as a failure; the Black Legion incorporates forces from other Legions, traitor chapters, and chaos warbands; and the Black Legion never fought in the Emperor's name. Hurting his claim are the facts that they use a number of former Sons of Horus assets, their symbol is the Eye of Horus, and their battle-cant is Cthonic.
    • In a similar way, Khayon hates it when his psychic powers are referred to (usually by Lheor) as magic or sorcery, despite the fact that he knowingly summons demons, creates warp portals, and fully acknowledges the existence of the Chaos Gods.
  • Jumped at the Call:
    • Khayon becomes a wholehearted supporter of Falkus' plan from the moment he hears it and after Children's first attack, he becomes the driving force behind the search for Vengeful Spirit.
    • After hearing about Vengeful Spirit from Sargon, Falkus is immediately willing to go find it, despite low chances of success.
  • Just Before the End: Invoked in that the story is set at the very end of 999.M41, the most advanced stage in the story-line GW reached at the time of publication, The Time of Ending. The most recent edition of the game does advance the timeline by almost 200 years, showing that both Khayon and Abbadon's plans have not succeeded...yet...
    • Khayon implies a more literal version of the trope when he tells his captors that not only do the Black Legion know the Golden Throne is failing, but that the Imperium is gradually losing wars on all fronts and whole fleets are going missing due to flickers in the Astronomican. The first book ends with him promising that the Imperium will not survive the imminent and impending Crimson Path.
    Khayon: I will meet the dying Emperor's empty eye sockets and tell him the war is almost over. At last, after ten thousand years of banishment in the Underworld, his fallen angels are coming home...These are the end times. None of you are destined to survive the coming of the Crimson Path. The Imperium has been losing the Long War since it was first declared, and now we enter the endgame. I will tell you everything, Inquisitor, because for you, it will change nothing.
  • Kidnapped by the Call: Telemachon is taken prisoner by Khayon and as Sekhandur jumps at the call, he's kind of pulled after him. He does embrace the call in the end, though.
  • Laughing Mad=/=Go Mad from the Revelation: After Moriana reveals to Khayon, Telemachon and Amurael that in their absence, the Imperium now worships the Emperor as a god, Telemachon bursts into hysterical laughter at the fact the Word Bearers have gotten the last laugh for Monarchia.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: At one point, Khayon notes that the Inquisitors listening to him would like him to cut to the juicy parts of the story - the Drach'nyen, the kneeling of Traitor Primarchs and the Black Crusades - without a proper introduction to the tale. Replace "Inquisitors with "readers" and you get Dembski-Bowden's tongue-in-cheek commentary on fan's expectations.
  • Leave No Witnesses: After the First Battle of Cadia, Khayon personally eliminates any surviving witnesses to Sigismund and Abbadon's duel, the Ezekarion having decided it was too dangerous letting anyone outside their ranks know how close Abbadon came to dying in that battle.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Every member of the nascent Black Legion when they realise that not only did Fabius successfully clone Horus, he's fully grown and equipped with his old armor and Worldbreaker.
  • Master Swordsman: Telemachon is this, being capable of facing a powerful demon of Khorne alone. Bonus points for Dual Wielding swords, a difficult feat both in Real Life and in-universe. He's later Abbadon's personal champion and the undisputed best duelist in the Black Legion.
  • Meaningful Name: Nefertari means "Beautiful companion" in Prosperan. Khayon says that she called herself like that without his imput, but wonders what she meant by it. Khayon is actually a little relieved that Abaddon doesn't know her true name, as it means he isn't omniscient.
  • Mind Rape: Khayon reaches into Telemachon's mind and rewrites it so he cannot feel pleasure without Khayon's permission. He reverses it after witnessing the swordsman's Hidden Depths.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Abaddon's view on why the Traitor Legions turned on the Emperor, given that he would have done away with the Space Marines as he did the Thunder Warriors before them once they'd conquered the galaxy for him.
    Abaddon: "This Imperium is ours. We fought for it. We built it with blood and sweat and wrath. We forged it with the worlds we took. The empire is built upon foundations of our brothers' bones...We didn't rebel out of petty spite, Sigismund. We rebelled because our Lord and master played us false. We were useful tools to bring the galaxy to heel, but He would have cleansed us from the Imperium the way He purged the Thunder Legion before us, wiping us all from history like excrement from His golden boots."
  • Mundane Utility: A justified example in The Black Legion. Khayon is a very, very powerful warp sorcerer and psyker. He can command hundreds of Rubric Marines, use his powers to great effect on a battlefield, and is a sufficiently skilled ship captain. At one point, Khayon states that Ahriman (universally heralded as the most powerful psyker in the Chaos Legions) claimed that Khayon was only just below him in terms of strength. And what does Abbadon use him for? An Assassin. But as Khayon himself notes, an assassin is often far more useful than whole armies.
  • Museum of the Strange and Unusual: Abaddon's collection in the Hall of Titans aboard the Vengeful Spirit looks like this. He even gives Khayon and the others a tour around it. While the Talon of Horus and Abaddon's own terminator armour hold the places of honour, he's also got the skeleton of a whale-sized serpent that tried to kill him (apparently its jaws are big enough to swallow a Land Raider tank whole), Guardian Spears left by Adeptus Custodes who died during the Siege of Terra, and the remains of an aborted experiment trying to synthesize Warp energy. Khayon later calls it a "monument to madness".
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently something happened at Drol Kheir to make everyone think that Khayon died there. Apart from reassuring everyone that he's very much alive, Khayon doesn't say another word about it. It gets lampshaded as part of a rather disturbing plot point in The Black Legion.
    • There's also Khayon's mention of how the surviving Traitor Primarchs came to accept Abaddon's place as Warmaster. Khayon only relates that some accepted it more willingly than others, that Magnus had to be forced to his knees before he would and Mortarion tried to kill them.
  • Not Me This Time: The Inquisition attempts to pin a load of aliases and crimes on Khayon whilst he is in their custody. It should be noted that he doesn't deny committing acts of mass genocide but that he mildly resents being accused of things he didn't do.
  • Not So Different: Despite his hatred of Ahriman for destroying and enslaving his legion, Khayon acts in a similar way by binding Telemachon to him and removing all his ability to feel. Abbadon calls him out on this, and Khayon is self-aware enough to realize that not only would Ahriman point out the hypocrisy, but that the most galling thing is that Ahriman would be right. Khayon does reverse the process despite being aware Telemachon may try to murder him.
  • Odd Friendship: The Black Legion is the story of making brothers of the brotherless, and we get some strange friendships along the way.
    • Lheor and Khayon, considering that Lheorvine is from the Legion of berserkers who traditionally hate psykers and sorcerers with a passion, and Khayon is from the Legion who has psykers and sorcery as their hat.
    • Gyre, a daemon, and Nefertari, a Dark Eldar Scourge. One would think that they'd hate each other, but Gyre has been forbidden to slay Nefertari (and doesn't show any particular inclination to want to anyway), and as a daemon, Gyre offers no sustenance for Nefertari. A friendship formed around not being able to kill each other could only happen in 40k.
    • Ugrivine and Nefertari, coming from races that hate each other fiercely, become sparring partners and later strike some kind of kinship.
  • Old Soldier: Sigismund. Whilst plenty of traitor marines are, technically, as old as him, Sigismund was verified as being close to 1000 in realspace verified years - not warp-dilated time. Abbadon struggles to beat him in spite of this.
  • Panthera Awesome: After losing Gyre, Khayon's next Daemon familiar, Nagual, takes the form of a Prosperine lynx, an extinct apex predator from Prospero the size of a horse, with canines the length of short swords capable of biting through Space Marine armour.
  • Patricide: Abaddon kills the clone of Horus, who still has memories of the original, in the finale.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Uttered by Abaddon right before He kills Horus' clone.
    I am not your son.
  • The Power of Hate: Khayon attributes this as the reason why Sigismund had lived for almost a thousand years after the end of the Horus Heresy: because he knew the Traitor Legions were still out there and he refused to die without confronting them again.
    Khayon: He burned with life...and I realised then just how it was that Sigismund still lived after all this time.He had survived for a thousand years because he refused to die. He hated us too much to sleep in his grave with his duty undone.
  • Properly Paranoid: Sigismund is implied to be the only Imperial commander who believed the Traitor Legions might have survived following their retreat into the Eye of Terror, and when the High Lords of Terra dismissed his fears as groundless, believing it impossible for anything to survive in the Eye for so long after the end of the Horus Heresy, Sigismund took it upon himself to stand vigil at the Eye's perimeter with a significant force of Black Templars in case they ever returned.
  • Reality Ensues: Lampshaded and deconstructed as part of Khayon's explanation of Chaos Legions to the Inquisition. Despite the enormous power given by sorcery, god-blessings, deamonic allies, experience, and corrupted technology, Chaos Astartes are..well..chaotic and this has huge disadvantages - they have no formal supply lines, no dedicated manufacturing ability save for Dark Mechanicus forge-worlds that tend to serve single patrons or themselves, and very little ability to build, repair, or rearm their fleets within the Eye. Khayon emphasises this by saying that the Chaos Legions can't even feed their forces because they don't have any real agriculture or food production.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Abaddon delivers one to Thagus Daravek when the latter demands a meeting after their failed attempt to escape the Eye of Terror. Since neither side wishes to fight a pitched battle that will leave the victor in no condition to face the Black Templars waiting for them outside the Eye, Daravek demands a humiliating list of concessions for his Legion Host to spare the Black Legion. Abaddon throws the offer back in Daravek's face and makes his thoughts clear...
    Ezekyle Abaddon: I will give you NOTHING! Shall I tell you what I believe, Thagus?...I believe you are likewise trapped in the storm. I believe the Warp aided your pursuit of us, then cut you adrift in our wake, leaving you becalmed and with no idea why. I believe that the malignant essences we call Gods have brought us together in the heart of this storm to play out a game of kings and pawns, just to see where their favour should fall...I believe, most of all, that you are frightened of us. You fear us because despite your raving speeches that we are betraying the Legions, and despite your petty crusades to destroy us, we not only survive, but THRIVE. We grow with every conflict. The icons of the failed Legions are sheared from ever more suits of armour, and the colours of shame are eclipsed in numbers no other warband can match. You fear that we are right and you are wrong. You fear us, more than any other reason, because you had to chase us. Because we were here first. Because we are the ones on the verge of breaking free, despite all your attempts in these last decades to hinder us. We have been working towards this fate, while you have done nothing but seek to stop us. We've fought for true unity, all brothers beneath the black banner, while you've fought against it in the guise of preserving the old, failed ways. We, Thagus, have acted. You have reacted. And here we stand at our prison's edge. Even now you have no answers to give your men. Instead, you force this meeting with us, praying you can glean insight into our plans and scavenge victory through threats. You'll lose this war, Thagus. You'll lose because you desire the Gods' favour and you fear it falling upon anyone else.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Lheor and Khayon. Lheorvine is red - hot-tempered, always wanting to fight and outspoken - while Khayon is blue: more inquisitive, introspective and nostalgic. They even have appropriately-coloured armour.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Khayon flat out admits that a large part of their plan to attack Harmony was essentially this. After all, who would've expected that less than two hundred warriors - 130 of which are Rubrics - would even consider taking a Chaos Space Marines' stronghold?
  • Running Gag:
    • In the first parts of the book, various people tell Khayon "I heard you died at Drol Kheir" and varieties of it. He lampshades it by the third time. It becomes rather less of a gag in The Black Legion.
    • Lheor being called "Firefist" and telling people that he hates it. Becomes somewhat less funny once you learn where does the nickname come from.
    • Lheor calling Khayon's psyker powers "magic" and Khayon getting annoyed by it.
  • Scary Black Man: Lheor. Being a heavy of the World Eaters with Butcher's Nails in one's brain can make a person pretty scary.
  • Screw Destiny: Khayon has a strong distaste for prophecy and clashes with his mentor, Ashur-Kai Qezremah, who dives deep into all forms of fortune-telling. Ten thousand years of living with Ashur-Kai, Sargon, Zaraphiston, and Moriana (who he despises more than the other three) have made his distaste even worse. His distaste started out with divination being more of an imprecise art than anything else, heavily dependent on subjective interpretation that Khayon finds pretty useless; his main reason has shifted because he's never met a seer who didn't try and steer things towards their own personal gain over collective goals.
    Khayon: No soul is as self-righteous as one that believes it gazes into the future.
    • Khayon also claims that this is Abbadon's underlying purpose - to break the control the Chaos Gods have over the lives of mortals, so they can forge their own path. Given what his true purpose is though..
  • Seen It All: Lheor reminisces about the Siege of Terra, mentioning offhand that he's seen greater battles since then. Seeing as the Siege of Terra was fought by over half the Astartes in the Imperium, the largest fleets ever assembled, teeming hordes of ancillary units, and utterly wrecked the Solar System, one can only imagine what he's seen since.
    • Similarly, Khayon offhandedly mentions that after Legion Wars, there's little that may surprise a Chaos Astartes.
  • Self-Made Orphan: By the end of the book, Abaddon is one, having killed the clone of his gene-father, Horus.
  • Sense Loss Sadness: After Khayon's Mind Rape strips Telemachon of emotions, he mostly stands in one place and stares blankly at the walls when the sorcerer is not nearby, and compels him to be loyal to the man who allows him to feel again.
  • Sequel Hook: The Talon of Horus ends with Khayon talking of the duel between Sigismund of the Black Templars and Abaddon in the First Black Crusade, the events of which are shown in "The Black Legion".
  • Shadow Walker: Gyre can use shadows to walk through walls and travel over short distances. Nagual also shares this trait, preferring to use the shadows of enemies to attack from.
  • Shout-Out: It's uncertain whether it's deliberate, but Sargon is the name of one of the gods in The Eye of Argon.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Sigismund does this to Abaddon after the latter tries to justify why the Traitor Legions turned on the Emperor.
    Sigismund: You lost the right to speak for the Imperium when you brought it to its knees. If you loved it as ardently as you claim, Ezekyle, you would not have pushed it to the brink of ruin... You keep speaking, Ezekyle. Do I look as though I am listening?
  • The Sixth Ranger: Zaidu and especially Vortigern and Ilyaster. The latter two join the Ezekarion between books and early on in Black Legion, respectively.
  • Spaceship Girl: The main body of Anamnesis, Tlaloc's "mind", is Khayon's sister, Itzara, kept in suspended animation. She gets more lively when Anamnesis is connected to Vengeful Spirit and takes a new name, Ultio.
  • Stepford Smiler: Telemachon. Beneath an exterior of your typical indulgent, contemptuous and self-righteous Emperor's Child, he's Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life and remembers times when his legion was much more.
  • Supernatural Eyes Of Gold: Abaddon's eyes are colored gold, which he claims is a result of staring into the light of the Astronomicon.
  • Tactical Withdrawal: During the First Battle of Cadia, with the Black Legion locked in battle with the Black Templars, Thagus Daravek's Legion Host emerging from the Eye of Terror behind them and Abaddon missing and feared injured or dead, Khayon takes command of the Black Legion fleet and orders them to scatter in all directions. He freely admits it was hardly the Black Legion's finest moment, but notes that it served its purpose; instead of being trapped between two armies, the Black Legion escapes, the Black Templars have to face a fresh army of Chaos Space Marines while Abaddon's forces escape into the wider Imperium, and Daravek has to waste time fighting the Black Templars, losing his chance to destroy the Black Legion in one fell swoop. After the battle, Abaddon commends Khayon's choice, admitting the situation is not ideal but affords more opportunities; the Black Legion, though scattered, is more or less intact, the Imperium will dismiss the inevitable attacks that come from Black Legion forces on worlds near the Eye as the work of pirates and raiders, not a cohesive army and thus its military response won't be as extensive as it might have been (freeing Abaddon to pursue his secondary goal of claiming the daemonsword Drach'nyen) and with Thagus Daravek killed in the battle, what's left of his armies will be more willing to consider joining the Black Legion.
  • Taking You with Me: Sigismund dies trying to do this; knowing that he is in no condition to defeat an Abaddon who (thanks to the Eye's influence) is still in his prime, Sigismund leaves a gap in his defences that he knows Abaddon won't fail to see, and when Abaddon goes for the killing blow, Sigismund retaliates with a final strike. Though Sigismund fails to kill him, Abaddon is seriously injured by the blow, requiring a long period of recuperation, as well as freely admitting Sigismund came the closest of any foe to killing him.
    Abaddon: The only way to kill me was to welcome his own death, and he did it the moment the chance arose.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Khayon and Telamachon, considering they hate each other. Telamachon is initially only going along with Khayon because being near him is the only way that he can feel any emotions. He later joins the Black Legion cause wholeheartedly, although Khayon mentions (in the Abbadon: Chosen of Chaos short story) that they have both subsequently tried to kill each-other several times.
    • Also to be expected when warbands dedicated to opposing gods fight under a single banner. In Black Legion, Telemachon and Lheor nearly wind up fighting a duel when their two respective forces (Telemachon's Slaaneshi warband, the Screaming Masquerade and Lheor's Khornate force, War God's Maw) start blaming each other for who screwed up more in a joint battle they fought against the Legion Host.
  • The Hedonist: Telemachon, like all Emperor's Children, is addicted to pleasure and sensation, to the point that he nearly breaks down when Nefertari teases him by refusing to touch him. He gets better after Khayon strips him of emotions and then gives them back to him.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Khayon recalls that he obliterated Eyarik Born-in-Fire by dismantling him at the molecular level. Mind you, he was in no condition to actually fight the VI Legion champion at the time.
    • Later, there is the nascent Black Legion's method of attacking the Canticle City: they send the abandoned Taloc on a ballistic approach towards the planet, annihilating it completely.
  • Time Skip: Few months pass as the Tlaloc makes its way towards Gallium, then another few when it travels to the edge of the Eye, and yet another two as the heroes fly to the Canticle City. It's pretty helpful in establishing just how huge the Eye is.
  • Token Evil Teammate: The main characters all somewhat fall under this, given they're all Chaos Space Marines with a long list of atrocities and war crimes to their name, but top prize must go to Zaidu, a former Night Lord who serves as Telemachon's second in command, an unrepentant Jerk Ass who delights in baiting his compatriots, safe in the knowledge that if any try to challenge him to a duel, Telemachon will fight it in his place, if only because letting a member of a rival warband humiliate or kill Zaidu would be a stain on Telemachon. Telemachon also order Zaidu spared from Khayon's purge of any surviving witnesses to Sigismund and Abbadon's duel.
  • Token Minority: Lheorvine is one of precious few black characters in Warhammer 40,000, and the only one in The Talon of Horus.
  • Token Nonhuman: Nefertari is the only xeno among the main characters and Gyre is the only daemon.
  • Truce Zone: Gallium maintains its neutrality in the face of the Legion War. Mistress Ceraxia and Valicar the Graven will repair, rearm, and refuel any ship in exchange for suitable payment.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Despite all his claims to be only telling the truth and revealing a huge amount of information to the Inquisition, it should be remembered that Khayon is a chaos marine and one of Abbadon's lieutenants.
  • Two Girls to a Team: The only female members of the Villain Protagonists ensemble are Gyre and Nefertari.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: While talking about the other ships at Gallium, Khayon offhandedly confirms the existence of the Fallen to the Inquisition (something the Dark Angels and their successors have spent ten thousand years trying to prevent) and moves on without a second mention of it.
    • In The Black Legion he goes one further, revealing that a Fallen Angel was and possibly still is one of the Black Legion's commanders.
  • Villain Protagonist: This is the story of how one of the main villainous factions in Warhammer 40K earned the title, so it's kind of a given. Notably, Khayon, the narrator, doesn't shy away from feeding his slaves to his friend or mind raping in his rival, and Falkus, who, given the setting, is actually an idealist, eats people.
  • Villain Respect: The impending duel between Abaddon and Sigismund has Abaddon show this to Sigismund before they fight, Abaddon bowing to the first High Marshall of the Black Templars with nothing but respect. The Black Legion reveals this to be UTTERLY onesided - Abbadon even partly pleads with Sigismund to join him and to avoid having to kill him. Sigismund makes it very clear that he doesn't care what Abbadon thinks.
  • The Voiceless: Sargon is this initially, having lost the ability to speak due to a throat injury he sustained in the siege of Terra. By the time of Black Legion, his armour has mutated to compensate for this, his pauldrons forming into two daemonic faces that speak in unison for him.
  • Waif Prophet: Relative to the other characters, who are all battle-worn, Sargon has the smooth, youthful appearance of a freshly-promoted neophyte, despite being a veteran of the Siege of Terra. Moriana takes over the same role in The Black Legion.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Sargon's psychic powers compared to Khayon. Khayon has a massive edge in raw power and overall mastery, but Sargon is able to achieve incredibly subtle effects with a great degree of control.
  • Wetware CPU: Itzara Khayon / the Anamnesis as the control core of the Tlaloc and later, the Vengeful Spirit.
  • What You Are in the Dark: When Khayon is in his psyker-coma, Telemachon spends long hours standing in his room with a sword and considering whether to kill the sorcerer for the Mind Rape. In the end, he doesn't, although Khayon believes it's more because Telemachon was afraid of Gyre and Nefertari ripping him to shreds if he tried something like this.
  • Winged Humanoid: Nefertari is a Dark Eldar Scourge, albeit one with the training and armory of an Incubi.
  • Worthy Opponent: Sigismund to Abaddon.
    Abaddon: He is the embodiment of all we are fighting against. He is ignorance incarnate, a puppet held up by strings of blind loyalty to the deceiving Emperor. But I cannot hate him. Is that not insane, Khayon? There stands the avatar of all we seek to destroy- an Imperial legend- and yet I admire the man.
  • You're Not My Father: In the climax of The Talon of Horus, Abaddon kills clone-Horus while saying the reverse of this, as seen in Pre-Mortem One-Liner.

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