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The Reflection Crack'd (Novella)

The Reflection Crack'd
Author Graham McNeill
Performer Jonathan Keeble
Publisher Black Library
Series Horus Heresy Series
Pages 95
Collected in The Primarchs

Cover Description

The Emperor's Children have thrown their lot in with Horus, but their own path is taking them into the clutches of the Chaos God Slaanesh. While the warriors of the Legion descend into debauchery, Fulgrim's closest allies notice that their primarch has changed, and plot to purge the Phoenician of the daemonic influence which is clouding his judgement.


This page contains spoilers for: The Reflection Crack'd (Novella)

In the aftermath of the Drop Site Massacre, Fulgrim and his Emperor's Children Legion are ordered to Mars by the Warmaster Horus Lupercal. The increasingly capricious Fulgrim however, decides to assault a Mechanicus resource world instead, in order to further his own designs. When this change of plan is questioned by Lord Commander Eidolon, the Primarch reacts to this perceived slight against his judgement by slaying his once-favoured subordinate on the spot.

While far from upset at the death of Eidolon, the ascendant Emperor's Children champion, Lucius, takes note of the event as yet another concerning example of Fulgrim's increasingly erratic behaviour. Inspired by dark dreams, Lucius becomes suspicious of his primarch, and proceeds to study him closely. Already concerned by his random mood swings, unconvincing attempts at legion camaraderie and remembrance, and above all by the realisation that Fulgrim's sword-fighting technique is suddenly inferior to his own, Lucius finally decides that Fulgrim is not who he appears to be after witnessing him employing sorcerous powers in open combat. Following the threads planted by his dreams, he breaks a standing order aboard the legion flagship, The Pride of the Emperor, to stay out of La Fenice, the opera chamber where the Emperor's Children were awakened by the discord and potential of Chaos. Investigating the chamber, he encounters the portrait of the Primarch hung there, a portrait that has been appearing in his dreams, and gazing at the eyes of the painting, he comes to the conclusion that his Primarch is somehow trapped within and that the entity walking around as Fulgrim is an imposter.

Determined to free Fulgrim, Lucius convenes the Brotherhood of the Phoenix, the senior members of the Legion. Such an action is not without risks in the chaotic Emperor's Children, as by this time of the Legion's (de)evolution each surviving senior officer is a powerful, mercurial and above all, self-obsessed individual, and all of them carry a loathing of the upstart Lucius. However, when he makes his accusation, the swordsman learns that he is not without allies: First Captain Julius Kaesoron reveals that he already had suspicions that Fulgrim was not who he said he was, and Chief Apothecary Fabius reveals that his tests of Fulgrim's blood indicate that the Primarch is upon the verge of some strange transformation. With this knowledge, Lucius is able to convince them that Fulgrim is not himself, and tempt them into the experience of attempting to capture a Primarch. Shortly afterward, they ambush Fulgrim and, despite taking casualties, the phoenix conspirators manage to render their primarch unconscious.

Strapping him down upon a table in the Apothecarion Lucius, Fabius, Kaesoron and Marius Vairosean attempt to drive the entity possessing their master out of his body by means of excruciation. A protracted torture session takes place, with Fulgrim submitting to all the works inflicted upon him, talking all the while of his perception of reality, current events, and the path he envisages for the Legion. Eventually, Lucius comes to another shocked realisation; that he has been both misled and miscalculated the situation. Suddenly believing that the person under torture is indeed his Primarch, Lucius bows his knee as Fulgrim easily frees himself from the torture rack, contented that the game is over and that his favoured sons have learned from the experience.

Fulgrim then deigns to explain just why Lucius thought him an imposter in the first place, revealing that he had indeed been possessed by a daemonic entity for some time, an entity that had trapped his disembodied spirit in the painting in La Fenice. However, Fulgrim was able to use the experience to learn of warpcraft and the ways of daemonkind, eventually being able to use this newly gained knowledge to forcibly swap places with the daemon, trapping it in the painting in his stead. It was presumably the daemon that was sending Lucius the dreams and clues in an attempt to be freed. Fulgrim's apparent inferiority in swordsmanship was just a ploy to tease Lucius into challenging him, in an attempt to further educate the swordsman in the powers of Chaos, and his mood swings and lack of interest in Legion history and camaraderie were simply an honest evolution of his nature. Fulgrim announces that he intends to go further than anyone ever before in experience and learning, pushing the limits to their extremes, not just to gain power, but for the journey; a journey he wants his Legion to take also. The next step on the journey? To link up with Perturabo and the Iron Warriors as part of a scheme to further this goal.




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