1st Black Crusade
|Black Crusades of Abaddon the Despoiler||1st - 2nd - 3rd - 4th - 5th - 6th - 7th - 8th - 9th - 10th - 11th - 12th - 13th|
|Outcome||Imperial pyrrhic victory|
|Imperium||Black Legion||Legion Host|
|High Marshal Sigismund(KIA)|| Warmaster Ezekyle Abaddon
Fleet Master Valicar Hyne Zagthean
Lord Vigilator Iskandar Khayon
|Heavy||Unknown||Unknown, presumed heavy|
The First Black Crusade began with the First Battle of Cadia in 781.M31, which signaled not only the beginning of the First Black Crusade, but also the opening salvos of the Traitor Legions' Long War against the Imperium. After the First Battle of Cadia was won, the forces of Chaos plunged the Segmentum Obscurus into a decades long war[4h], at the end of which Abaddon the Despoiler claimed the Daemon sword Drach'nyen.
First Battle of Cadia
The seeds for this conflict began shortly after the Battle for Terra, when the Imperial Fists First Captain Sigismund began to hunt down the Sons of Horus Captain Ezekyle Abaddon, for his part in nearly destroying the Imperium during the Horus Heresy. Sigismund's search lasted for centuries, but always ended in failure, until he finally discovered Abaddon and many of the Traitor Legions' survivors had fled the Eye of Terror. He was not believed though, by the High Lords of Terra and many other leaders within the Imperium, as they doubted the Traitors could have survived the many centuries since the Heresy's end within the Eye. Sigismund held firm in his belief however and used his power as the High Marshal of the Black Templars, to bring a sizable fleet from his Chapter to guard over the Cadian Gate, which led into the Eye of Terra[4a]. Not content to merely wait for the Traitors to emerge from hiding however, the High Marshal sent ships into the Eye to find them. One such ship was a Strike Cruiser commanded by Marshal Avathus, that was boarded by Daemons after entering the Eye and then crashed into the Black Legion held world of Maeleum. When the Black Legion entered the Strike Cruiser they found its crew was dead, but the ship still held a wealth of information and the Warband learned many centuries had passed for those outside of the Eye. More importantly though, they learned that Sigismund had a large fleet guarding over the Eye. As the Black Legion continued to search through the crashed Cruiser, the Sorcerer Iskandar Khayon heard a voice calling him and this led him underground to Horus' former resting place, where he discovered the exiled Inquisitor Moriana.[4b]
Though she was surrounded by the Black Legion, Moriana showed no fear and demanded to meet with Abaddon as she had much to tell him about the Imperium and his own destiny. Khayon reluctantly complied and she soon stood before the Lord of the Black Legion and told him what became of the Imperium since he had entered the Eye of Terror. She also warned that Abaddon's quest to become the new Warmaster of Chaos was at risk of failing, as the Sorcerer Lord Thagus Daravek, Abaddon's main rival during the on going Legion Wars, also sought to become Warmaster. If he was not dealt with, Moriana was certain Daravek would gain the Chaos Gods' favour and then kill Abaddon, before destroying the Imperium himself. Abaddon then asked how Daravek would gain the title of Warmaster and Moriana replied that both Daravek and Abaddon were both haunted by the same vision[4c] of the Daemon sword Drach'nyen. She claimed it lay outside the Eye of Terror and who ever wielded the sword first, would secure their position as the new Warmaster of Chaos and bring the Imperium to its knees. This revelation gained Abaddon's interest, as he had told no one of his visions and he now finally had a name for the sword that had haunted his dreams for sometime. Afterwards, Abaddon focused his full attention on gaining possession of Drach'nyen and though Daravek still lived, he could not risk his rival claiming it first and Abaddon ordered the majority of the Black Legion's fleet to prepare to exit the Eye of Terror. Though he knew the Black Templars fleet waited for his Warband outside the Eye, Abaddon vowed to destroy them and anyone else that stood in the way of his destiny.[4d]
With the aid of the Warp Ghosts Warband, the Black Legion escaped the Eye and soon confronted Sigismund and his Black Templars fleet. As the two fleets clashed within the Cadian Gate, Abaddon left command of the Vengeful Spirit to the Sorcerer Khayon and personally led a boarding attack upon Sigismund's flagship, the Eternal Crusader[4e]. Though many of the Black Legion tried to claim the High Marshal's head, they were no match for Sigismund and the Sword Brethren that fought beside him and a score lay dead at his feet by the time Abaddon finally found him. Abaddon though did not draw his weapons at first and instead tried to reason with Sigismund, who he had long held respect for, and hoped to convince the High Marshal to join them and help them reclaim the Imperium that was rightfully theirs. The High Marshal refused though and called Abaddon and the Black Legion oath-breakers who nearly destroyed, the Imperium they falsely claimed to care for. Seeing that Sigismund would not be convinced, Abaddon regretfully stopped trying to plead his cause and they both drew their weapons as their followers looked on. It was at this time that disaster struck the Black Legion as the Sorcerer Lord Daravek's Legion Host exited the Eye, having used an unknown means to track the Black Legion down[4d]. Daravek knew Abaddon was seeking the Daemon Sword Drach'nyen as well and he intended to kill the Black Legion's Lord before he could become the new Warmaster of Chaos[4f]. Now finding themselves stuck between the Legion Host and the Black Templars, Khayon was now faced with saving the Black Legion's fleet from complete destruction.[4d]
As the Black Legion's fleet fought for its survival, the duel between Abaddon and Sigismund finally ended and though the High Marshal lay dead, he had managed to bury his Black Sword within Abaddon's chest[4f]. It was a deep and deadly wound and after seeing how close to death Abaddon was, the Black Legion members near him gathered their fallen Lord[4a], as well as Sigismund's body[4g], and began to evacuate the Eternal Crusader. They were soon psychically contacted by Khayon, who told them of Daravek's attack and that Fleet Master Valicar's ship, the Thane, was nearing the Eternal Crusader to help them evacuate. With Abaddon's escape now ensured, Khayon then gave the order for the Black Legion's fleet to punch their way through the Black Templars' ships and escape into the Warp. Khayon then ordered the Vengeful Spirit to charge Daravek's Legion Host and in doing so, he hoped to goad the Sorcerer Lord into boarding the Vengeful Spirit; which would allow the Black Legion's fleet more time to escape[4f]. Daravek did not disappointment Khayon and the Sorcerer Lord quickly led a boarding attack against the Vengeful Spirit, which resulted in the deaths of many of its defenders. Despite this though, Khayon was able to kill Daravek, before the Sorcerer Lord entered the Vengeful Spirit's command bridge. The Black Legion's fleet used the time they were given well and though many of their ships were destroyed by the Black Templars, the vast majority of the Black Legion's ships were able to escape into the Warp. Now only the Vengeful Spirit and a few other Legion ships were left behind, but the tide soon turned in their favour; as faced with the Legion Host's might, the Black Templars retreated into the Warp and brought word of the invasion to the Imperium. As for the Legion Host, with Daravek's death the unification of the Warband ended and it separated into several large groups, which entered the Warp and soon began attacking nearby Imperium worlds.[4h]
With the battle ended, Abaddon was brought back to the Vengeful Spirit to heal and barely survived the wound dealt to him by Sigismund. Though they would soon need to reunify their fleet, there was several pressing concerns for the Black Legion's warleaders to deal with. The first was silencing the non-Ezekarion members of the Black Legion who had witnessed the duel between Abaddon and Sigismund; as they could not be allowed to tell how their seemingly invincible leader, had nearly met his end at the High Marshal's hands. Khayon dealt with this himself and only the Chaos Lord Zaidu escaped the purge, but this was only due to the Ezekarion Telemachon Lyras' efforts to ensure the Sorcerer did not kill his favoured warrior[4f]. With that task done, the Black Legion then formally declared war on the Imperium, by sending the captured Black Templars ship Valorous Vow, to the High Lords of Terra. The ship's database was filled with information pertaining to the First Battle of Cadia and also carried the body of Sigismund who held his Black Sword. As the slave crewed Valorous Vow was prepared to be sent on its long journey to Terra, Abaddon had the Sorcerer Iskandar Khayon carve three simple words into Sigismund's Black Sword: "We are returned".[4g]
Meanwhile, the Imperium at this time had yet to build the vast defences on Cadia and the naval port of Belis Corona, and Abaddon's invasion stormed across thousands of worlds in a mighty push to force the Emperor to bow before the forces of Chaos. Worlds close to the Eye of Terror fell into mayhem and chaos as Legions descended from the sky and Daemons tore their way into reality. On the Agri-World of Valesia, Zagthean the Broken led his warband in a orgy of violence and destruction. For his own dark pleasure, the warlord constructed a vast maze of thorns from the world's blood-rose orchards, blinding his prisoners and loosing them within its twisting tunnels, before hunting them down at his leisure. Not to be undone, Eralak and his company of Raptor's unleashed atrocities on the Hive cities of Melphia which included hanging millions of citizens from gigantic gallows.
The invasion itself was more of a blunt sword action than a wickedly sharp blade, which most of the other Black Crusades would be. It seemed that little could stop the oncoming of Chaos as world after world was burnt. The only bastion that stood firm was the world of Cadia. On the world of Urthwart, Cadian forces aided by the Imperial Fists 4th and 5th Companies defended against a Chaos onslaught led by the first Defilers. After 4 days of vicious combat, the Chaos forces were forced to retreat. While the Imperial forces eventually managed to reclaim lost territory, scores of of their worlds were shattered and the Black Legion had done much to wash away the shame of their defeat in the Heresy and restore their failing morale.
While the forces of Chaos assaulted the galaxy, the Imperium sent forth its warriors, the Imperial Guard, Adeptus Mechanicus and Space Marines (who had only recently split due to the Second Founding), who marched together and pushed Abaddon back. The distance which the Crusade penetrated the Imperium forced the Emperor to respond by building defences on Cadia and a vast naval port at Belis Corona.
- 1: Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pg. 22
- 2: Black Legion - A Codex: Chaos Space Marines Supplement pgs. 26-27
- 3: Index Chaotica - Defilers
- 4: Black Legion (Novel)