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13th Black Crusade

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Targetdrone.gif The 13th Black Crusade redirects here. For the background book, see The 13th Black Crusade (Background Book).
Black Crusades of Abaddon the Despoiler 1st - 2nd - 3rd - 4th - 5th - 6th - 7th - 8th - 9th - 10th - 11th - 12th - 13th
Thirteenth Black Crusade
Abaddon Black Crusade.jpg
Artwork depicting Abaddon the Despoiler and his legions spilling from the Eye of Terror on the 13th Black Crusade[1e]
Date 999.M41
Location Segmentum Obscurus
Outcome Cadia destroyed
Imperium of Man
Forces of Chaos
Lord Castellan Ursarkar E. Creed (MIA)
Governor Primus Marus Porelska (KIA)
Admiral Quarren(KIA)
Admiral Dostov
Admiral Venesca Catallia
Lord Marshal Attica
Great Wolf Logan Grimnar
Iron Father Kardan Stronos
Wolf Lord Sven Bloodhowl (KIA)
Wolf Lord Orven Highfell (KIA)
Captain Korahael
Saint Celestine
Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl
Inquisitor Talia Daverna
Inquisitor Katarinya Greyfax
Baroness Vardus (KIA)
Captain Tor Garadon
Marshal Marius Amalrich
Eldrad Ulthran
Abaddon the Despoiler
Devram Korda
Krom Gat (KIA)
Druxus Bale
Tarraq Darkblood
Varan (KIA)
Krom Gat(KIA)
Sevastus Kranon
Daemon Primarchs (Rumored)[13b]
See Imperial Order of Battle See Chaos Order of Battle
Massive casualties, at least several trillion.[17] Massive casualties

The 13th Black Crusade of Abaddon the Despoiler began in 999.M41, and resulted in the largest mobilisation of both Imperial and Chaotic forces seen since the Horus Heresy.

Abaddon's strategy was based around the concept of The Crimson Path: by summoning enough Daemons to the surface of Cadia, he intended to overload the Pylons holding back the tides of the Warp on the planet. If he had succeeded, the Eye of Terror would have enveloped Cadia and transformed it into a hellish Daemon World, after which Abaddon would jump from planet to planet from the Segmentum Obscurus, expanding the Warp rift until Terra itself was swallowed up into the Eye.[13a]

Thirteen times shall the Traitor King go forth. In the End Times the iron fortress shall be cast down. Its walls breached and its Gate forced open. Those that dwell beyond shall spill through it. The air shall burn and the ground shall melt, The Daemon shall lie down with the machine, Brother shall slay brother with fire and sword. And the sky-wound shall pour its malice forth. The Eye shall stare unblinking at its prize, and the Traitor King shall cross the bridge of stars. He shall return to finish the Warmonger's red work, Upon holy soil shall the fate of man be decided.

The Liber Malefact[13b]



As the end of M41 drew to a close, the first signs that Abaddon the Despoilers long-feared Thirteenth Black Crusade was imminent came in the form of numerous sightings of Space Hulks emerging from the Warp around the Cadian Sector. Though some were boarded by the Adeptus Astartes and others destroyed by orbital defenses, those that got by the Imperial blockade struck strategically important worlds and naval bases throughout the sector, crippling the region's naval forces. It was then that the dreaded Chaos vessel of Nurgle, Plagueclaw appeared in the outer reaches of the Urthwart system, further spreading pestilence wherever it went. Famed Imperial Admiral Quarren would launch a hunt for the vessel but soon encountered something far more terrible. Ambushed around the Frenerax Dust Cloud, Quarren discovered, to his horror, that the Chaos Fleet was led by the dreaded Terminus Est, flagship of Typhus of the Death Guard, Herald of Nurgle. Quarren's fleet barely managed to survive the trap and escape. The Battle of Frenerax had been a costly disaster, but there was worse to come.[1a]

Now operating with impunity, Typhus's Plague Fleet spread pestilence throughout the Sector and the Officio Medicae were helpless to stop it. As the epidemic spread, apocalyptic sects began appearing on worlds afflicted, preaching that the Emperor's wrath had descended upon them and was a punishment for their sins. In what became known as the Plague of Unbelief, Chaos spread throughout the sector as the fanatical sects rioted against Imperial authorities. To compound the Imperium's problems, Plague Zombies soon emerged from the bodies of those struck down by disease. The Hive World of Belis Corona in the Agripinaa Sector was particularly affected by both the Plague of Unbelief and an infestation of Plague Zombies, and by the time Typhus's Plague Fleet arrived in the system the world was completely unable to resist him.[1a]

As Chaos swept through many Imperial worlds surrounding the Agripinaa, Cadian, and Belis Corona Sectors, cults preaching that the Imperium had forsaken the teachings of the Emperor grew in number. Imperial authorities, crippled by plague, could do little to stop the ensuing chaos and mob rule that these cults unleashed. Mysterious yet brutal raiders began to strike without warning throughout these sectors, annihilating small settlements and Agri Worlds. Meanwhile, Astropaths and the Emperor's Tarot consistently produced dire predictions. On Cadia itself, the worlds mysterious pylons erupted into life and vibrated intense psychic energy. The pylons appeared to be fighting to hold back the powers of the Warp that were pouring from the Eye of Terror at an unprecedented level but they were slowly destroying themselves in the process.[1b]

Between the anarchy, plague, and vicious raids spreading throughout the Agripinaa sector, the Imperial Navy's Battlefleet Agripinaa was forced to retreat back to its bases. Yet an even greater disaster was in the making on the Imperial world of Lelithar where a powerful figure arouse amongst the raving cults and fanatics, proclaiming himself the Voice of the Emperor. The Voice of the Emperor's cult spread throughout nearby worlds and he encouraged rebellion against Imperial rule. Soon, vicious battles between the Voice of the Emperor's cult and the faithful followers of the Ecclesiarchy erupted on the streets of worlds such as Bar-El, Yayor, Amistel, and Albitern. Attempts by the Officio Assassinorum to dispose of the Voice of the Emperor proved unsuccessful.[1b]

Betrayal on Cadia

Despite the deteriorating security situation and internal strife in the Imperial territories surrounding the Eye of Terror, Cadia remained a beacon of stability. But in order to counter the increasing frequency and scale of Chaos activity around the Cadian sector, the Cadian High Command issued an order that every regiment of the Cadian Shock Troops were to muster on Cadia itself. As a result, hundreds of extra landing fields were assembled at Kasr Tyrok fields in preparation for the reinforcements. Millions of men had already been assembled when the Volscani Cataphracts regiment, considered by many to be the most hardened fighters in the sector, landed on Cadia. In honor of the reputation of the Volscani regiment, the Cadian High Command itself gathered at Tyrok Fields to personally greet the arriving forces. However this would prove to be a disastrous decision for Cadia, as the Volscani soon revealed their true colours.[1b]

The Battle of Tyrok Fields

Exchanging their Cadian and Imperial banners for those of Chaos, the Volscani forces opened fire on the Cadian assembly on Tyrok Fields and annihilated most of the Cadian High Command in one fell swoop. Only a skillful counterattack by Lord Castellan Ursarkar E. Creed, who managed to take control of the reeling Cadian forces, prevented further calamity. Now installed as Governor of Cadia due to the murder of the previous holder of the position, Creed ordered the Cadian forces to dig in as he dispatched requests for aid throughout the whole of the Imperium. The Administratum and Space Marines heeded the call, mobilizing the sector with unprecedented scale and pace. After an engagement with a raiding party of Night Lords led by the vicious Tarraq Darkblood, a unit of highly trained Kasrkin were dispatched into the Eye of Terror directly on a reconnaissance mission, desperate to find some kind of indication of where the first blow of the inevitable Chaos invasion would land. The reconnaissance mission proved a disaster when the force became stranded on the Daemon World of Urthwart and was subsequently destroyed by the dreaded ship Planet Killer. As Urthwart collapsed into itself, a Chaos fleet of hundreds of warships, Space Hulks, and transports emerged from the depths of the Eye of Terror. Accompanying them were not only the Plagueclaw and Terminus Est but also two captured Blackstone Fortresses. Imperial Admiral Pulaski mustered whatever ships he could in the Ormantep system, ready to fight and die to give the defenders of Cadia whatever time they could to prepare themselves. Though the Imperial fleet fought bravely, it was annihilated by the massive Chaos armada. Quarren, however, managed to escape with what remained of his fleet, but in doing so had left the way clear for a splinter Chaos Fleet to ravage the Agripinaa Sector.[1c]

Now virtually defenseless, the worlds of the Agripinaa Sector were ravaged by the Plague Fleet of Typhus and his legions of Death Guard and Daemons of Nurgle. Only an intervention by the Howling Griffons Space Marine Chapter, Jouran Dragoons Imperial Guard, and Legio Astorum Titan Legion prevented the total collapse of Imperial rule in the sector. The Imperial forces, further reinforced by the Death Spectres Chapter, even managed to lay siege the world of Lelithar, the original world of the Voice of the Emperor which had since been captured by Typhus's forces and legions of crazed cultists. However, the bloody siege has cost the lives of millions and is grinding mercilessly towards an uncertain conclusion.[1c]

Meanwhile the Emperor's Children, led by Lucius the Eternal, butchered the world of Belisar while warbands of Night Lords moved onto Scarus Sector, spreading terror and fear to the Imperial Populace. Cells of Alpha Legion revealed themselves across Segmentum Obscurus, badly delaying Space Marine reinforcements in protracted struggles. In the wake of the Traitor Marines came terrifying hordes of Chaos: Mutants, Chaos Cultists, and Daemons as well as the Traitor Titan Legions of the Dark Mechanicum.[2a] Soon, every world within a thousand light years of the Eye of Terror became embroiled in conflict.[3]

While hordes of Chaos forces ravaged the surrounding sectors, the main Chaos Fleet of Abaddon the Despoiler and the World Eaters Chaos Lord Kossolax the Foresworn pushed towards Cadia itself. The Chaos fleet quickly overwhelmed the defenses on the world of Solar Mariatus, the outermost planet of the Cadian System. Here, traitor forces established a forward base of operations to launch attacks throughout the entire system. Capturing the prison world of St. Josmane's Hope, the Violators Chaos Space Marine warband managed to capture its millions of inmates and use them as slaves or conscript them into its armies. Admiral Quarren had done what he could, but the overwhelming Chaos Fleet could not be stopped and after three days of hard fighting, the majority of the Imperial Fleet in the Cadian System had either been crippled or destroyed. After overrunning Cadia's orbital bases, the planet finally stood defenseless and Abaddon's long awaited invasion of Cadia had finally begun.[1d]

The Battle of Medusa


Previous Edition Warning: This article discusses a topic from a previous edition of Warhammer 40,000 whose current validity may be in question, for details see the corresponding "Notes" section below.

Meanwhile, Abaddon launched a massive assault on Medusa, homeworld of the Iron Hands Space Marine Chapter. As the Iron Hands recruited strictly from Medusa, the Marines were forced to defend it above all else. All ten of the immense Land Behemoth mobile Fortress-monasteries of the Chapter were mobilized along with the heavily armored Planetary Defense Forces of Medusa for the defense. Assaulted by armoured regiments of the Haradni 13th Traitor Guard, the ensuing armoured clash was one of the largest in the Imperium since the Battle of Tallarn during the Horus Heresy, with the Chaos forces fielding over ten thousand tanks. The ensuing battle raged for five days, with the Traitor forces gradually pushing towards the mobile fortresses of the Iron Hands. The Fortresses, each possessing the firepower of the mighty Ordinatus war machines of the Adeptus Mechanicus, decimated hundreds of tanks with each salvo.[12]

Using this support to finally break the Traitor lines, the Iron Hands were nonetheless outflanked by enemy armour, which began to pour fire into the vulnerable rear of their mobile fortresses. This forced the Iron Hands to launch a furious counter-attack led by Assault Squads, taking heavy casualties in the process but succeeding in stopping the traitor flanking maneuver and sending them into a disorderly retreat. The Iron Hands then used their Predator Annihilator tanks to decimate the retreating Traitor forces, securing Medusa at last.[12]

The Battle for the Cadian Gate


Previous Edition Warning: This article discusses a topic from a previous edition of Warhammer 40,000 whose current validity may be in question, for details see the corresponding "Notes" section below.
Space Marines and Chaos forces battle in the 13th Black Crusade

Meanwhile, Abaddon began his long-awaited invasion of Cadia with a fierce orbital bombardment, one so powerful it shook even the vaunted Cadian Shock Troopers. Along with the bombardment came legions of Chaos Space Marines, the Lost and the Damned, Daemons, and Titans, who flooded the fortress world of Cadia in unprecedented numbers.[2a] The Cadian forces fought bravely and stubbornly, however, and were aided by the legendary Thirteenth Company of the Space Wolves.[4]

Many Crone Worlds around the Eye of Terror would come under attack from Chaos forces and immortal Phoenix Lords would lead Eldar defenses in the Belial IV System, attempting to destroy a dark cathedral erected by the Word Bearers.[4] The Eldar would also engage Ahriman of the Thousand Sons after the sorcerer managed to breach the Webway in a hunt for the mysterious Black Library.[4]

Elsewhere, Lord Thybault Helican XXIII lead the defense of the Thracian Primaris system of Scarus Sector against a rising tide of deviant cultists. Many Astropaths died and the Lord Jiudiciary of the Adeptus Arbites of Thracian Primaris reported a 400% increased activity of deviant cults.[16a]

While the forces of Cadia managed to hold off the Chaos armies in a bloody stalemate, the Imperial Navy would receive reinforcements from Cypra Mundi and launch a counterattack to drive Abaddon's forces back into the Cadian Gate. Using these resources to his advantage, Admiral Quarren managed to defeat Chaos fleets many times the size of his own, allowing a flood of Imperial reinforcements to break the Chaos blockades of Cadia and the Scelus Sector. In the Belis Corona System, the entirety of Battlefleet Gothic would storm into the fray. The Imperial Navy was staking everything on this final, sector-wide retaliation; if it were to fail, the whole of Battlefleet Obscurus would be so weakened it would have no hope of repelling Abaddon's invasion.[5]

While the Imperial Navy reinforcements bolstered the defenses of Battlefleet Cadia, Abaddon would unveil the next step in his plan. The Word Bearers Legion, led by the Dark Apostle Erebus, would enact terrible rituals on the world they had captured, unleashing Warp Storms and hordes of Daemons across outlying sectors around the Eye of Terror such as Scelus and Caliban. Cut off from aid, these sectors were ravaged by the powers of Chaos. Imperial forces would not falter however, and a counterattack led by Creed and the White Scars Chapter was launched on and from Cadia, engaging Chaos forces throughout the sector in a surprise move of resolve.[6] After holding out for many long weeks of stubborn resistance, the defenders of the Cadian Gate received further aid when reinforcements from dozens of Space Marine Chapters finally began to arrive. Among them were the Blood Angels, who assaulted the largest horde of World Eaters encountered in living memory on the world of Kasr Partox and defeated the forces of Kossolax and a Bloodthirster on Agripinaa.[2b] Meanwhile, the Dark Angels under Supreme Grand Master Azrael and the Space Wolves under Great Wolf Logan Grimnar engaged the forces of Typhus on Macharia, Korolis, and Kasr Sonnen, managing to put aside their past differences and bitter rivalry.[8]

Further reinforcements across the theatre of war included the Black Templars and Imperial Fists. Lord Inquisitor Torquemada Coteaz would also appear in the waves of reinforcements, leading strike forces of Grey Knights against Daemons in the Agripinnaa Sector as well as on Kasr Holn and Xersia. The White Scars under Khajog Khan also arrived, forcing Abaddon to lift the sieges of three Cadian Kasrs before being entrapped and destroyed in a bloody fight to the end.[2c] With so many of the legendary Space Marines arriving, the Imperium was at long last able to see a real chance of turning back Abaddon's Thirteenth Black Crusade.[7][8]

However, the rituals of Erebus of the Word Bearers reached their peak shortly after the arrival of Space Marine reinforcements. Through the sacrifice of a million innocents, the entire region around the Eye of Terror was attacked by a Warp storm so intense that inter-system travel was rendered impossible and cutting the warzone off from further Imperial reinforcements. Taking advantage of this, Typhus would unleash the full strength of the Death Guard upon the Agripinaa Sector, which now was reduced to ruins.[9] The most chilling development for the Imperium however was the slow encroachment of the Planet Killer upon Cadia itself as the war entered its final stages.[8] The Imperium's problems were further compounded by xenos forces, even at this late stage in the war. A Tyranid splinter of Hive Fleet Leviathan began to encroach on Segmentum Obscurus and assault Belis Corona while warbands of Orks ravaged the Scarus Sector in what became known as the Green Krusade.[9]

Rumors persisted among Imperial sources that the Daemon Primarchs have returned at the helm of the Crusade to herald in the End Times.[13b]

Fall of Cadia

Though the Volscani attack and the wave of chaos that swept through Cadia after it caused much damage, after several months of fighting the Imperium had reestablished its hold on the Fortress World and many considered the worst of the crisis to have passed. Most of the major Kasr fortress-cities of Cadia had been retaken and Chaos fleets had been scattered across the Cadian Gate. Such was the confidence of many Imperials that victory celebrations were already being actively planned. However in truth, the attacks so far were merely the first wave in Abaddon’s grand campaign.[27a] Opposing him were the shattered remaining Imperial defenders consisting of Creed and the Cadian Shock Troops including the Cadian 8th, Space Wolves under Orven Highfell and Sven Bloodhowl, the Dark Angels 4th Company under Korahael, Black Templars of the Cruxis Crusade under Marshal Marius Amalrich, the Order of Our Martyred Lady under Eleanor and Genevieve, House Raven under Vardus, and various other hodgepodge surviving formations.[16a]

The first indications that something was amiss was when a Imperial picket fleet under Admiral Quarren detected a massive Chaos armada exiting Warp space near the Cadian system. The Chaos fleet was of unparalleled size and included such infamous vessels as the Terminus Est. Worst of all however was a massive Blackstone Fortress, the Will of Eternity, aboard which Abaddon now made his command center. While Quarren led a valiant defense from the Emperor Class Battleship Might of the Faithful, the Imperials were annihilated after only 77 minutes.[27a]

Creed, still the commanding officer on Cadia, responded to the disappearance of Quarren’s fleet by immediately holding a new council of war alongside the likes of Wolf Lord Sven Bloodhowl, Master Korahael, Inquisitor Talia Daverna, Canoness Eleanor of the Order of Our Martyred Lady, and Magos Klarn. However, despite Creed’s best efforts to create a unified command to counter the coming attack, the various Imperial factions present still proved too stubborn and rebellious. Creed lamented that he did not have one true army from which to defend Cadia, but many smaller independent forces with their own agendas.[27b]

Saint Celestine appears on the battlefield

Meanwhile, Trazyn the Infinite's collection on Solemnace is devastated in upheavals. This provokes him into action, and using the Celestial Orrery he traces he disturbances to the Eye of Terror. Trazyn is moved to resolve the crisis by going to Cadia. At the same time, Mechanicum Magos Belisarius Cawl was instructed by the Harlequin Shadowseer Sylandri Veilwalker to investigate a long-abandoned planet devastated in the 4th Black Crusade. On the world he discovered the presence of Pylons much like Cadia and is then instructed by Veilwalker to head to Cadia. The Imperials also had reinforcements heading to Cadia in the form of the Phalanx, which had just defeated a Chaos invasion of its own.[16a]

As Creed planned what move to make next on Cadia, Bloodhowl and his Firehowlers Great Company alongside many other Space Marine Chapters struck directly for the Will of Eternity itself and launched a bold boarding action. While the Marines were able to penetrate deep into the fortress and even attack Abaddon himself, they were no match for the Warmaster’s might and Bloodhowl was forced to lead a retreat. During the withdrawal, Bloodhowl’s boarding craft was shot down and plunged into the Blackstone Fortress.[27b]

After defeating the boarding attempt Bloodhowl, Abaddon immediately positioned the Will of Eternity over Cadia and prepared to use its massive Warp gun to destroy its many Kasr fortresses. He also ceded to the demands of his half-daemonic Khornate Chosen Urkrathos to be allowed to lead the Hounds of Abaddon in a surface assault. Their main objective was to disable the Pylons emitting null-fields around Kasr Kraf, which would interfere with the Warp Gun of the ‘’Will of Eternity’’. Urkrathos and his warriors slaughtered their way across a citadel of the Sisters of Battle near Kasr Kraf while the bulk of his army besieged the Dark Angels inside their own cruiser. Meanwhile, Krom Gat led an attack to pin the Imperial armies at Kasr Kraf in place, coming into direct conflict with the Iron Wolves Great Company.[27b]

After hours of heavy fighting, Urkrathos was able to push through the determined Ecclesiarchy defense and claim the Sororitas Shrine. The act proved the final push to allow for the warrior of Khorne to ascend to Daemonhood, and he merged with his Daemonic familiar Artesia. The newly elevated Daemon of Khorne then led the final attack against the Sisters of Battle, grievously wounding the twin Cannonesses Genevieve and Eleanor. While the Chaos forces were successful in claiming the shrine and allowing the Will of Eternity to begin its bombardment, the Iron Warriors under Krom Gat were pushed back at Kasr Kraf by the Iron Wolves. It was now obvious that Kasr Kraf was Abaddon’s chief target, and as a result most Imperial forces across Cadia began to congregate there. Urkrathos was undeterred, and led a massive offensive against Kasr Kraf.[27c]

After many long grueling battles, the Black Legion-led assault was finally able to reach the gates of Kasr Kraf. This was aided in no small part by Urkrathos, who was able to raise his own dead and reinvigorate them as mindless blood-crazed warriors of Khorne. The Chaos forces took grievous losses in the faced of disciplined Kasrkin, but their sheer supernatural might allowed them to ultimately prevail. Meanwhile, Abaddon’s intelligence chief Cacadius Siron was able to consume the brains of a recovered Cadian trooper, discovering that large amounts of Space Wolves remained aboard the Will of Eternity and were heading towards the vessels Void Shield generator region.[27d]

By now, the Kasrkin at Kasr Kraf were killing 1 Berzerker for every 30 of their own, losses that were unacceptable to any Space Marine force. Even more problematic for the Chaos forces, more powerful Daemons like Bloodletters could not manifest so close to the Null-array. Urkrathos was thus only aided by Flesh Hounds when a counterattack by the Black Templars under Marshal Amalrich emerged from their defenses. Covertly, Trazyn the Infinite by this point had landed on Cadia and was secretly aiding the Imperial defenders with his own Deathmarks. Trazyn and his warriors were even able to disable a Chaos Baneblade discreetly. Amid the chaotic fighting at the gates of Kasr Kraf, Eleanor and Genevieve reappeared to attack Urkrathos. In the ensuing battle, Urkrathos was finally able to kill both of the Cannoness’. Meanwhile, aboard of the Will of Eternity, Abaddon’s adoptive “daughter” Morkath led hunting parties to try and stop the Space Wolves.[27e]

By now, Urkrathos had finally reached the Null-Array of Kasr Kraf, slaughtering Mechanicum troops before him and destroying the infernal device which was poison to his Daemonic kin. Just then, Saint Celestine emerged to attack the Khornate warrior directly. While Urkrathos was defeated in the renewed attack led by Celestine, he welcomed his temporary banishment to the Warp as he knew Abaddon would soon open fire with the Warp Gun of the Will of Eternity and annihilate his killers.[27e][27g]

Meanwhile aboard the Blackstone Fortress itself, Morkath and Siron were able to reach the Space Wolves but were shocked to find that the Legion of the Damned had arrived to aid them. The Chaos counterattack would have been pushed back had Abaddon not arrived, using his might to defeat even the ghostly warriors. Abaddon mortally wounded Sven Bloodhowl, but it soon became apparent that he had fallen into the Wolf’s Lord trap as the ‘’Phalanx’’ appeared and unleashed a punishing salvo at the ‘’Will of Eternity’’. Abaddon and his lieutenants were forced to teleport away. The ‘’Phalanx’’ was able to disable the Will of Eternity and clear Cadia’s skies of hostile aircraft. While Kasr Kraf was secure for the time being, the Inquisition judged the situation doomed and recommended Virus Bombing Cadia to spare it from the Archenemy.[27e][27f]

Creed held a new council, this time with new faces from the ‘’Phalanx’’ present like Belisarius Cawl , Tor Garadon, Baroness Vardus of House Raven, Ruis Tracinto and his Crimson Fists, and now even Trazyn. Such was the desperate situation for the Imperium that they even agreed to a temporary alliance with the Xenos construct. Cawl laid out his plan to amplify the Cadian Pylons, pushing back the Chaos horde and perhaps even weakening the Eye of Terror itself.[27f] However as they made their preparations, Abaddon was able to identify the position of the Imperial council and personally led an assault with his elite. As the Imperials desperately evacuated Creed via Valkyrie gunship, his faithful standard bearer Jarran Kell gave his life staying behind to hold back the enemy. The valiant Cadian fell personally battling Abaddon. The Chaos forces next drove towards where Cawl and Trazyn were working, forcing the two scientists to personally sweep aside the enemy as Creed arrived with fresh Vostroyan reinforcements to lead a counterattack.[27e]

It was then that Abaddon emerged before Cawl and Trazyn, rapidly turning the tide of the battle in the favor of Chaos. Trazyn then uses his many Tesseract Labyrinths to summon a whole army before him, including the Heresy-era Lieutenant Commander Cerantes of the Ultramarines. After being forced to kill Cerantes, Abaddon renewed his advance but found that Cawl and Trazyn had escaped. The Warmaster then was assailed by the combined might of what Creed had arrived with, including Kasrkin, Space Wolves accompanied by Wulfen, Black Templars led by the Emperor's Champion, and the Adeptus Custodes. Trazyn continued to summon new slaves from his collection, including the missing Inquisitor Katarinya Greyfax. Saint Celestine arrived at the head of a new Sororitas host, diving into battle against the Despoiler. Under this combined assault even Abaddon began to weaken and he took immense damage. Cawl and Trazyn were able to reactivate the Pylons, causing Abaddon’s daemonic allies to vanish before its effects and also weakening Celestine, allowing Abaddon to finally best the Living Saint. Abaddon then moved next on his original target, Creed, and an unequal duel broke out. As Abaddon was able to strike down Creed, a wounded Celestine stabbed the Warmaster through the back. The wound forced Abaddon to teleport away, knowing that soon the reactivated pylons would strand him on Cadia.[27h]

Cadia dies

Back aboard the Vengeful Spirit, Abaddon received word from Morkath aboard the Will of Eternity that she still lived and was preparing to use the Fortress to conquer Cadia and eventually Terra itself. However Abaddon had other plans, and betrayed his own creation by using the Vengeful Spirit to push the Will of Eternity into Cadia’s gravitational pull. The Fortress smashed into Cadia’s causing massive destruction and forcing many Imperials to begin to evacuate.[27i] The Imperial evacuation plans had been worked out at the time of the 2nd Black Crusade, however, and were often completely outdated, confused, and just not feasible.[18a] Regardless, many Cadian units tried to follow the orders as well as they could, fighting through enemy lines to reach evacuation points. In the orbit, Imperial Navy ships desperately struggled to pick up survivors, even as they were beset by Chaos vessels and the expanding Warp due to the collapsing pylons.[18a][18b] In contrast, the forces of Chaos simply abandoned most of their armies on Cadia, leaving millions of Traitor Guardsmen and cultists to die.[18a]

Meanwhile, with the pylons failing, Celestine was back at her maximum power and led a withdrawal of Imperial forces from doomed Cadia. As Creed and parts of his Cadian 8th held the line against the returned Daemonic legions, the Imperials fled Cadia as the planet was dragged into the Warp. The Phalanx led the surviving Imperial vessels out of the system.[16c] Aboard the Vengeful Spirit, Abaddon was told by one of his seers that Cawl has a precious artifact aboard his vessel. What the artifact was was not known, but Abaddon considered it of immense importance and he began an attempt to capture Cawl's ship. The Black Legion's warships assailed the Imperial evacuation fleet just as it was about to jump into the Warp. Cawl's ship was captured just as the Phalanx and Imperial warships jumped into the Immaterium. Aboard Cawl's vessel, the Magos and Inquisitor Greyfax were guided by Celestine's vision to seek salvation on the outer planet of the system, Kalisus. Fleeing the Black Legion fleet, they arrived on the prophesied world and landed on it with Cawl's artifact. Accompanying this force were Black Templars and Tempestus Scions.[16c]

The surviving Imperial defenders are guided by the Eldar into the Webway

However the Imperials were followed by the Black Legion, and Cawl fled with his artifact as the Black Templars led by the Emperor's Champion fought a rearguard action. Just as the Imperials seemed doomed, Celestine led the Black Legion into an Eldar trap led by Eldrad Ulthran. Drawn from Ulthwé, Biel-Tan, and other Craftworlds as well as Wyches, the Black Legion was ultimately forced to retreat. After the Eldar saved the Imperials, they guided them into a Webway Portal.[16c]

Secondary Invasions

Main article: Diamor Campaign

Although the majority of the 13th Black Crusade was fought near the Cadian Gate, the general chaos of the incursion allowed several splinter fleets to break off from the forces spilling from the Eye of Terror, and wreak havoc much farther afield.[11a]

One such splinter fleet, under the command of Warmaster Varan the Undefeatable, made for the planet Perlia, Varan having learned of the existence of the Shadowlight, an immensely powerful xenos artifact that could awaken the powers of latent psykers and, worse, could have triggered the expansion of the Eye of Terror that Abaddon sought. Varan came to the planet on the Despoiler's orders, having pledged to retrieve the artifact.[11b]

The artifact was being kept in a Mechanicus shrine under the joint control of the Mechanicus and the Ordo Xenos, but the planet as a whole was woefully undefended. However, at the center of the Imperial forces were the faculty of the Schola Progenium, which included battle-hardened veterans from the Imperial Navy, the Guard, the Celestians of the Adepta Sororitas, and, last but not least, the celebrated Hero of the Imperium, Commissar Ciaphas Cain. These veterans were able to muster the citizens of Perlia into a halfway competent PDF, and drilled their own students into a surprisingly effective fighting force, in conjunction with the Mechanicus and Inquisitorial soldiery at the shrine.[11c]

During the final defense of the shrine, Cain and his aide, Ferik Jurgen, defeated Varan in hand-to-hand combat, and his force was annihilated by the surprise appearance of a Necron scouting force. The Imperial forces were able to evacuate before the Necrons arrived.[11d] Although the Shadowlight was lost to the Necrons, Inquisitor Amberley Vail conceded that this was preferable to the disastrous consequences of allowing Abaddon to possess it.[11e]

Another splinter fleet, under the command of Urkrathos, Chosen of Abaddon, was dispatched to the Dark Mechanicus Forge World of Chaeronia[14a], to retrieve an ancient Castigator-class Titan, along with an army of lesser Titans, but these were destroyed first by a small strike group of the Grey Knights. Urkrathos razed most of the planet to the ground in fury, but was forced to withdraw empty-handed.[14b]

Another major invasion took place in the Diamor System, where the Black Legion Sorcerer Xorphas led an invasion of the System in the intent to expand the Crimson Path.[Needs Citation]

Other Battles


Of the population of Cadia, only around three million survived the planet's destruction and Lord Castellan Creed was missing and presumed dead.[16c] But far worse was the aftermath of Cadia's destruction. With the planet destroyed, the Pylons holding back the Eye of Terror faltered and the first step of Abaddon's Crimson Path apparently succeeded.[13a] This is one of the key theories for why the Great Rift formed and subsequently divided the galaxy in two with a series of massive Warp Rifts.[19] After Cadia's destruction, the Black Legion continued to rampage across Imperial space, coming into conflict with Ultramar in the Ultramar Campaign.[20] Black Legion forces collected the remains of Cadia's shattered Pylons and stored them aboard their warships, using the Warp-negating effects to try and cut off Warp travel to Terra by dropping them at strategic locations along the Throneworld's Warp routes. Nearly all the Warp routes to Terra were closed, but the Black Legion's plan was foiled by the Adeptus Custodes and Sisters of Silence at the Battle of Vorlese.[25] As for the Despoiler himself, he was not seen again until the War of Beasts on Vigilus.[21]

Around the same time as Cadia's destruction, Roboute Guilliman was reborn thanks to the temporary alliance between Imperial forces and the Eldar.[20] After the Terran Crusade, he managed to reach the Imperial Throneworld and resume his duties as Lord Commander of the Imperium.[20a] The Great Rift created in the wake of the 13th Black Crusade ravaged the Galaxy, with even Terra itself coming under assault from Daemonic forces.[22] The newly reappointed Lord Commander Guilliman was able to organize the Indomitus Crusade to reclaim territory, particularly beyond the cut-off region of Imperial space now known as Imperium Nihilus. Belisarius Cawl and the new line of Primaris Space Marines were key in the Imperial counteroffensive.[23]

The end of the 13th Black Crusade and the subsequent formation of the Great Rift were significant enough to herald a new age in Imperial history known as the Age of the Dark Imperium.[24]

Forces Involved


The Thirteenth Black Crusade was the background to the worldwide Warhammer 40,000 Eye of Terror Campaign, which resulted in a minor victory for the forces of Chaos and gave Abaddon a foothold in the Cadian Gate, though he suffered grievous losses to his fleet.[26]

In 2017 Games Workshop released Gathering Storm: Fall of Cadia which retconned much of the lore and status of Cadia and the 13th Black Crusade as a whole. It established that Cadia was destroyed and the status of many of the characters and forces from the earlier campaign are left unresolved.