The novella was originally published as a A5 hardback novella and available in two editions: 3,000 Gold (slightly differently bound, signed and with interior art plates)1 and 3,000 Silver (simply bound and without a signature or interior art).2
After the Battle of Istvaan V, the traitor primarchs assemble to deliberate their next moves. Lorgar of Word Bearers, however, disrupts the meeting with his assusations that Fulgrim of the Emperor's Children is not who he appears to be. His uncharacteristicly confident and aggressive demeanour proving no less surprising and disruptive than his claims, the meeting is quickly adjourned by the nominal leader of the group, the Warmaster Horus.1,2
In the aftermath, Magnus the Red of the Thousand Sons confronts Lorgar about not only his new attitude, but about his blossoming psychic powers and his knowledge of the events that have led them all to thier current situation. Lorgar chooses to reveal to his brother a tale of a pivotal moment in his life; what happened when he entered the Eye of Terror some forty-three years earlier...1,2
Upon the world of Colchis, the Archpriest of the Godsworn watches from above as the City of Grey Flowers burns. The Covenant has been put to the sword, and after the night is over, he will be Archpriest of all Colchis. Despite victory in a struggle that has lasted years and the comforting presence of his Father, Kor Phaeron, the young Archpriest is melancholy. His city is burning, and he has no wish to rule. His only desire is that people see the Truth - there is but One God, and he is called the Emperor.
Part One - The Seventeenth Son
Four days after the Drop Site Massacre, Horus Lupercal assembles his brothers that stand in opposition to the Imperial Throne, the first complete gathering of the traitor primarchs. Before the meeting can get properly underway, however, Lorgar Aurelian, Primarch of the Word Bearers, suddenly physically attacks Fulgrim, Primarch of the Emperor's Children, claiming that he is not in fact their brother, but a pretender. When Horus attempts to calm the enraged Lorgar, the Word Bearers primarch is shocked at the realisation that Horus already knew that Fulgrim was in fact one of the Neverborn masquerading as their brother. Before Lorgar can explain his actions to the assembled Primarchs, Horus quickly dismisses them all except Lorgar and the subdued Fulgrim. Explaining that he did not agree to the daemon taking over Fulgrim's body, Horus convinces Lorgar that he is merely "containing the aftermath", and that their brother is dead. Punishing the daemon-Fulgrim with his psychic powers, an enraged Lorgar promises it that he will learn its true name and banish it back to the Warp. When Horus further attempts to calm Lorgar, placing his hand on Lorgar's shoulder, the Aurelian psychically commands Horus to remove it. Despite attempting to resist the compulsion, Horus finds himself unable to disobey the command. As a furious Lorgar strides from the council chamber, a suddenly tense Horus claims that Lorgar has changed since his duel with Corax upon the surface of Isstvan V...a claim that Lorgar agrees with.
Shortly afterwards, Lorgar is visited by the astral projection of Magnus the Red, transmitting (as he was to the council chamber earlier) from the Planet of Sorcerers. Magnus explains that he wishes to have a conversation of substance with his brother, in light of the tragedies that have recently unfolded, the current course of events and Lorgar's seeming centrality to it all. Magnus cautions Lorgar against such brutal employment of psychic ability as he used earlier, but Lorgar refuses to take the advice, commenting that Magnus' opinion on such matters is no longer relevant; the Crimson King is now nothing but the lord of a legion of the damned and is standing with Horus only because he was exiled. Stung by his words and curious of the mention of his legion, Magnus attempts to probe Lorgar's mind, but is psychically rebuffed. Lorgar reveals that he has gained foreknowledge of Magnus' fate; he in turn cautions Magnus to watch out for those amongst his legion who will not see the flesh-change as the gift it truly is. After a moment of silence, Magnus changes the subject to the matter of Fulgrim, revealing that he was also aware that the Emperor's Children Primarch was really a warp entity. Lorgar snaps back that they should refer to such creatures by the most accurate name - daemon. He goes on to upbraid his brother for not telling him of the existence of the things that lived in the warp back when they last had a 'conversation of substance', half a century before. Magnus claims he only did this, and advised him against going on the Pilgrimage, to protect Lorgar, in fear that his then-ignorant, arrogant, so-certain brother, would be disillusioned. Lorgar retorts that ignoring Magnus' advice has resulted in him standing as the right-hand man to the next Emperor, leader of the second-largest Legion, while Magnus is a broken soul leading a broken Legion. To this barb, Magnus points out that their actions are only making the galaxy worse; perhaps they should simply die, rather than continue to search for the ultimate truths of existence. Lorgar continues to fling bile at his brother, asking him then, why did he not accept death at the jaws of the wolf? Pretending to be amused at Lorgar's diatribe, Magnus asks if Lorgar was always secretly this bitter, or if it was what he saw during the Pilgrimage that changed him. Lorgar retorts that he merely saw what Magnus already knew of, and was too afraid to embrace - Primordial Truth. Lorgar then begins to rant of humanity's upcoming ascension to the plane of the gods and of the purity of Chaos...finally forcing Magnus to lose his temper and quell his brother with his own psychic might. Their respective positions made clear, Magnus simply asks Lorgar to tell him of what he has seen in the Warp...and Lorgar agrees.
Part Two - The Pilgrim
Forty-three years earlier, Lorgar steps out onto a world within what will one day become known as the Eye of Terror. Accompanying him is his monstrous, once-Cadian guide, Ingethel. Ingethel questions Lorgar as to why the primarch chose this world to investigate; the air is too thin and the temperature too low for even a Primarch to stand un-helmed and un-armoured. Lorgar's response is to ask exactly what kind of creature Ingethel is, that can happily exist in such a climate...and appears, to Lorgar's psychic eyes, as one without a spark of life...without a soul. Ingethel explains that, in the Warp, beings are born without souls, and out of the Warp, they are born with. The Born and the Neverborn, destined to achieve symbiosis. Furthermore, in this region of space, altering the laws of reality is far from problematical for certain people, such as Ingethel, to ensure that they can exist free of such concerns as air and temperature. Ingethel claims that, out of all of the Anathema's sons, Lorgar is the only one not born with full awareness of his powers. It claims that once Lorgar achieves understanding, he will be able to access his full powers, powers strong enough to one day reshape the realities of worlds.
Lorgar asks of the world they stand upon. Ingethel names it as Shanriatha, once a world of the Soulbroken. It explains of how the Eldar birthed Slaa Neth, She Who Thirsts, and that whilst all other souls are released into the tides of the Warp upon death, Eldar souls are drawn into the maw of the God they created; they are the Soulbroken. Lorgar finds a correlation in the description of what happens to souls upon death with what is taught of the matter in Colchisian religion; Ingethel explains it is because humanity is, at some level, always aware of the Primordial Truth, and incorporates it in their earliest attempts to understand reality. That after death, souls judged worthy will be taken into the domains of the Gods, whilst all others will be cast adrift, prey for the Neverborn. Commenting that such an arrangement hardly sounds like the Heaven that is promised by so many religions, Ingethel agrees. The daemon does, however, point out that it sounds quite a bit like any number of Hells.
Walking on, they come to a vast ruin. Ingethel explains that it is not a city, not exactly. It is the remains of craftworld Zu'lasa, which fell into ruin when the two hundred thousand souls aboard all went mad in the same instant during the birth of Slaa Neth. Sensing something in the ruins, Lorgar decides to investigate. After some time, the primarch is disturbed to witness what appears to be a damaged statue haul itself from the ground and confront him. Learning that it is an Avatar of Kaela Mensha Khaine and in effect, a divine being, Lorgar watches it struggle and threaten him for a while, before eventually choosing to put it out of its misery. Ingethel instructs Lorgar to think of this as a lesson; the divine can be as frail as a mortal, and as open to mortal failings. The Avatar was infecting the area with hatred and a failed heathen belief; in slaying it, Lorgar has helped to heal the world and bring it closer to the truth. Even a god may die. Lorgar takes note of Ingethel's words, even as he winces at their lack of subtlety. Following up on the train of thought, he asks to see how all that he knows will end.
Part Three - In War
Lorgar suddenly finds himself before the Ultimate Gate of the Imperial Palace on Terra. Refusing to answer how it transported them there, Ingethel instructs Lorgar to look upon his surroundings with his soulsight. With a gasp, Lorgar sees a profusion of ghosts, all doing bloody battle. Thousands upon thousands of warriors, chief amongst them the yellow-armoured Imperial Fists, fighting unfamiliar red-armoured Legiones Astartes who appear to be allied with Neverborn. With a start, Lorgar realises that they are Word Bearers. Questioning Ingethel, he is told that in fifty years, his legion will no longer be the Bearer's of the Emperor's Word...but of Lorgar's. Confused, Lorgar notices a larger-than-normal Word Bearer, one who appears to be no longer completely human. This champion, slaying all before him, is suddenly stopped by the arrival of none other than Sanguinus, Primarch of the Blood Angels. In disbelief, Lorgar watches as Ingethel informs him that the champion is his son, Argel Tal, and that this is how he wil die.
A second later, Lorgar finds himself upon a world Ingethel describes as nameless, a volcanic desolation. Angry now, Lorgar accuses Ingethel of showing him prepared visions, of leading him false. When warned by the daemon not to address it so, Lorgar responds that he is his own master. Ingethel's reply to this is but mockery. Mastering his anger at being so treated, Lorgar does what none of his other brothers would be able to do. He calms himself, sheathes his weapon, and asks Ingethel to continue showing him the Truth, and to explain why his life feels like it has been leading to this event. Ingethel explains that it is obvious; his life has been engineered to lead to this summons; Lorgar is desired of by the Gods. Nevertheless, he should be aware that fate is changeable. Ingethel talks of many possible alternate paths, ones where Lorgar died before this time; killed in the war to take Colchis, treacherously slain by Kor Phaeron, killed by Horus in revenge for the slaying of Sanguinius, executed by Konrad Curze and Leman Russ. Brushing aside these comments, Lorgar asks why it is him that is to be shown the truth? Why not Sanguinius, or Magnus? Ingethel responds that Sanguinius may already have been touched for another purpose - why would one such as the Emperor, determined to stamp out religion, breed a son that looks like an angel? And as for Magnus, he is in a sense already with the greater powers, having come without needing to be summoned. Possessed of no faith, Magnus is driven by a need for power. And as such, in fifty years time he will not only come to the side of the Truth, he will in fact come to the very world they walk upon.
Gesturing to the plains ahead of them, Lorgar is shocked to see that the skyline of Tizca has appeared...only it is ruined, blasted and violated. Informed that in the future, the City of Light will be burned, Lorgar resolves to tell Magnus immediately he returns to realspace. Ingethel urges otherwise, telling him that the Razing of Prospero will be Magnus' final illumination. It will take place in a war, a war Lorgar will start, but not lead. A war that humanity will have to undergo, lest they suffer the same fate as the Eldar. The Born and the Neverborn will need to be conjoined, as is only natural, and Lorgar will win the war. A union of power and faith under the auspices of beings genuinely divine, with Lorgar as the architect. Questioning how he would even begin to make it so with but one hundred thousand Legionaries, Ingethel tells Lorgar that in the future, he will crusade across the stars, raising secret armies, planting secret forces, and swelling his legion by half again. Shaking his head, Lorgar repeats his earlier question; why must it be him that does this? The answer is that, while other primarchs and their sons would die for the Imperium, others would fight each other and amongst themselves to rule it...only Lorgar and his Word Bearers are disposed to fight and die for no greater cause than the illumination of humanity.
Lorgar is informed that it is but days after the destruction of the Thousand Sons upon Prospero, a result of Magnus' folly in looking too long into places the Emperor had forbid. He then happens upon a Thousands Sons Legionary who appears to be hideously mutated. Swallowing his disgust, Lorgar asks the Legionary what has made him so...different. The answer is that the world they reside on is making them so; the Legionary considers it a blessing. Lorgar muses upon this, concluding that the closer one gets to godhood, the less the concerns of physical existence must matter. He is further informed that the Thousand Sons can no longer keep track of time; some of them claim to have been on the world for days, others claim the same passage of time has been months. Against Ingethel's instruction, Lorgar asks to be taken to Magnus. Ascending to the top of Magnus' tower, Lorgar finds his brother aged, scarred and yet a being of light, nor corporeality. Greeted as if being expected, Lorgar is taken aback when Magnus accuses him of being a daemon of temptation, and a poor one at that, appearing as Lorgar has not for decades. With a thought, Magnus banishes Lorgar.
Part Four - Chosen of the Pantheon
Reappearing on Shanriatha, Lorgar finds Ingethel to be dying. The daemon reveals that it cost much of its already-diminishing strength to save Lorgar from Magnus' sorcery. Ingethel goes on to explain that it will not die in the sense of ceasing to exist; the Neverborn are also the Neverending. It informs Lorgar that Magnus would not hear him or believe him as the Crimson King believes himself master of manipulations, despite being manipulated himself at every turn. Claimed by the Changer of the Ways, Magnus is not capable of seeing the Truth as Lorgar sees it; honestly, and with idealism. This is why he is the chosen of all the Gods. Believing in the daemons' foresight, Lorgar demands to know how he will die. Ingethel responds once more with possibilities; if Lorgar interferes in an argument between Leman Russ and Magnus on the world of Shrike, there is a chance he will be slain. If he draws a weapon on Corax, there is a high chance of his death. Pushing aside such useless information, Lorgar asks why they are back on the dead Eldar world. The dying Ingethel explains that it did not intend it; it used up all it's last power in saving him from Magnus; something else brought them here. It appears one of the Gods desires to test Lorgar itself...
With a mighty cry, An'ggrath the Unbound materialises; Kharnath has violated the treaty surrounding Lorgar. Given no choice, the Word Bearers primarch is forced to duel the mighty Bloodthirster, eventually proving the victor, although seriously wounded. Slumped in the aftermath of the duel, Lorgar looks up to notice the arrival of another daemon; an avian beast with two heads. Announcing itself as Kairos, also known as Fateweaver, it brought Lorgar a choice; to seize personal glory or divine destiny. The moment such a choice is to be made will come at the Battle of Calth. In the future, Lorgar will wish to kill Roboute Guilliman; if he were to fight him at Calth, he would succeed in killing him, achieving personal satisfaction and the respect of his brothers...at the likelihood of losing the war. If he were to turn his back on such glory, however, the chances of eventually succeeding in enlightening humanity would be all the greater. Leaving Lorgar struggling with this vision of potential futures, the Oracle of Tzeentch departs.
Alone once more with the dying Ingethel, Lorgar demands to know how much all of what he has seen is true. "All of it. Or none. Or perhaps something inbetween", is the answer. Lorgar asks to see one last thing; a free choice using the last of Ingethel's power. Ingethel agrees, and shows Lorgar what he asks to see. He shows him what happens if their side should lose the upcoming war.
Part Five - Crusade's End
Four days after the Drop Site Massacre, and Magnus thinks over all that Lorgar has said. He remembers banishing his brother from his tower but days earlier, and knows that all Lorgar has said is true. One question remains to him; will Lorgar face Guilliman at Calth? The reply is enigmatic; some of the Word Bearers fleet will go to Calth, some will not. Magnus will be informed of all the plans in motion when he chooses to side with Horus fully.
Lorgar then attends upon the Warmaster, in company with Angron, Primarch of the World Eaters. Becoming infuriated when Horus dodges the question of what is to be done with Fulgrim once more, Lorgar refuses to follow Horus' plans for his legion, instead restating an earlier plan to take them all into Ultramar. When Horus points out that, if Lorgar splits his forces as planned, he will not have enough Legionaries to defeat the Ultramarines, Lorgar angrily snaps that perhaps Horus should lend him a few Companies. Horus nods at Angron and replies that he will do greater than that; he will provide him with a full Legion...
One last thing remains. Traveling to the surface of Isstvan V, Lorgar finds and confronts Fulgrim. When the daemon refuses to acknowledge that it is anything other than his brother, Lorgar reveals his masterstroke; at his command, strike teams of Word Bearers teleport onto the bridges and command decks of forty-nine Emperor's Children vessels, placing their captains at gunpoint. Lorgar's point made, Fulgrim agrees to talk truth with him. Taking him to the Pride of the Emperor and La Fenice, the daemon shows him the painting in which he has trapped Fulgrim's soul. Staring at the painting intently, Lorgar suddenly turns to the daemon and tells him that its secret is safe with him; however, it should enjoy its stewardship of his brother's body while he can...
Returning to his own flagship, Lorgar begins the motions of not only Calth, but other, more secret projects. He calls for Argel Tal...
- Horus Lupercal - Primarch of the Sons of Horus
- Lorgar Aurelian - Primarch of the Word Bearers
- Magnus the Red - Primarch of the Thousand Sons
- Fulgrim - Primarch of the Emperor's Children
- Angron - Primarch of the World Eaters
- Damas Axalian - Captain, 29th Company
- Horus Heresy Series
- Black Library