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Burning of Prospero

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History will say that they unleashed the Wolves of Russ on us, but history will be wrong. They unleashed something far worse.

Ahzek Ahriman, date unknown[1j]
Targetdrone.gif This article is about the battle between the Space Wolves and Thousand Sons; for the other battles, see Battles of Prospero (disambiguation).
The Burning of Prospero
Leman Russ and the Wolves of Fenris march on Tizca
Conflict The Great Crusade
Date 734004.M31[8b]
Location Prospero
Outcome Destruction of Prospero; surviving Thousand Sons teleported to the Planet of Sorcerers
Imperium Thousand Sons
Primarch Leman Russ
Captain-General Constantin Valdor
Commander Jenetia Krole
Geigor Fell-Hand
Primarch Magnus the Red (de jure)
First Captain Ahzek Ahriman (de facto)
See Order of Battle See Order of Battle
49,000 total including 23,000 Space Wolves and 23,000 Imperial Army; Severe Custodes and Sisters of Silence casualties[8c] 90% of the Thousand Sons Legion forces
30 million civilians and Prosperine Spireguard[8c]

The Burning of Prospero, also known as the Desolation of Prospero or Battle of Prospero, is the name of the full-scale invasion and planetary devastation of Prospero, homeworld of the Thousand Sons, by Imperial forces that mainly included the Space Wolves Legion, the Adeptus Custodes, and the Sisters of Silence.[1]


At the Council of Nikea the Emperor had personally declared that the deployment of Librarians and the use of psychic powers by any and all members of the Legiones Astartes was from that point on forbidden. He further threatened that any who transgressed against this announcement would be declared his enemy and suffer extreme retributive punishment. This judgement rested heavily on the shoulders of the Thousand Sons Space Marine Legion and their Primarch, Magnus the Red, who not only possessed and advocated the use of psychic powers themselves, but had felt personally unfairly judged and rejected by the Emperor at the Council, perceiving the whole affair as more of a rigged "Trial of Magnus" than anything else.[1a]

Essentially withdrawing from the Great Crusade because of the ruling of Nikea, the majority of the Thousand Sons gathered on their homeworld of Prospero. During the Council of Nikea, Magnus received a prophetic vision that his brother and the Emperor's favoured son, Horus, would rebel against the rule of their father and burn the Imperium in a galactic civil war. Magnus, assured of his own personal psychic might, believed he could stop this event from happening using his knowledge and powers,[1b] and soon after returning to Prospero he set such events in motion. He first attempted to psychically guard Horus from malign interference; when this failed, he decided that he had to immediately warn the Emperor of what had transpired. To a colossus of such psychic power and personal vanity as Magnus, using a succession of intermediaries as communicators (the normal method of galactic communication) seemed too slow and unlikely to be convincing enough; Magnus was, after all, about to tell the Emperor that his favourite son and chief lieutenant aimed to overthrow him. So, to Magnus, the most obvious thing to do was to use his abilities to appear directly to the Emperor, not only allowing the essential truth of his news to be communicated, but also showing his father how skilled he was and how right he was to advocate the use of the complex psychic techniques that (to Magnus) lesser minds referred to as sorcery. Magnus therefore undertook a great psychic journey, transmitting his astral self into the very Warp, breaching a conduit of the Eldar Webway (unknowingly allowing daemons to enter behind him), and finally forcing open and passing through the very gate of the nascent Imperial Webway itself, appearing in astral form in the Imperial Dungeon. This action, which Magnus believed would vindicate him in the eyes of the Emperor, had damned him. By using psychic techniques, he had betrayed the wishes of the Emperor, and his very actions betrayed the Emperor's hopes. Not only had Magnus's breaching of the Webway and the Imperial Gate to it irrevocably damaged the technology, killed thousands in related accidents and psychic flashpoints, and left the Imperial Palace open to warp intrusion, but his choice to and manner of doing so had forever removed him from the Emperor's plan to crown Magnus himself upon the Golden Throne, to act as guardian and guide to humanity as they moved into the Webway. As the Emperor turned to regard Magnus sadly, the Primarch of the Thousand Sons achieved horrified understanding of this doom in an instant, and vanished.[1c] Other accounts state that the Emperor became enraged at the ruination of his Great Work and ignored Magnus's warning, instead banishing him from his sight.[7] Note that Magnus had no way of knowing this ahead of time - the webway gate project was top secret.

Back on Prospero, Magnus realised how easily and fully he had been manipulated by a great power of the Warp in this series of affairs. Devastated by his foolishness and hubris, and how completely he and his legion had been played and doomed, he decided that the only proper thing to do, the only way to retain some honour and possibly even vindication, was to passively await the punishment meted out by his father. That punishment was not long in coming; the Emperor ordered Leman Russ to lead a fleet and bring Magnus back in chains.[7]

The Veil

Magnus and his Thousand Sons assembled upon Prospero.

In order for his legion to receive "their" (his) punishment without being tempted to fight back and therefore ruin "their" (his) last chance at redemption, Magnus went to great lengths to keep the knowledge of the impending Imperial attack from them, in actuality reducing their chances of success (either in terms of fighting back or of accepting the incoming punishment) from the outset. He threw up a psychic cocoon around the entire world, blocking astropathic communication and preventing the precogs of the Corvidae from foreseeing the future. The fleet elements of the Thousand Sons were ordered into four battle-groups and to head off into various parts of the galaxy, carrying sealed orders. Not long after this, the Imperial battlefleet arrived at Beta-Garmon[8a]. Made up of ships from the Space Wolves, the Adeptus Custodes, and the Sisters of Silence, the grey, gold, and black fleet numbered in the hundreds of vessels.[1d]

News of this sanction fleet, meanwhile, had previously reached the ears of the now-corrupted Horus himself. Sensing an opportunity, the Warmaster contacted Leman Russ. Speaking with his brother, he was able to convince him that "to return Magnus to Terra would be a waste of time and effort", despite Leman's specific orders. Horus confirmed to his traitorous council of war that he believed this interjection of his into the Emperor's own decree would result in Magnus never leaving Prospero alive. To aid in this endeavor, Horus sent 5,000 Sons of Horus legionnaires as well as 12 Titans of the Legio Mortis.[8a] At this time, Horus apparently viewed this as the best course of action where Magnus the Red was concerned, in order to retain the element of surprise when he finally made his first move in open rebellion.[6a]

Before committing his forces to the attack, Leman Russ still attempted to communicate with his brother, Magnus. Believing that Kasper Ansbach Hawser was a Hidden One of the Thousand Sons, Russ attempted to speak to Magnus through him, declaring his fleet's approach and making a request to send away the civilians and surrender. As Hawser was not a Hidden One, but actually a pawn of Chaos designed to appear as one, the message was never received. Without attempting normal communication via vox, Leman Russ ordered the attack.[2a]

The Burning

The Imperial invasion of Tizca

With no fleet in orbit and under sudden attack without explanation or warning, Prospero had to rely on her orbital defence batteries as first-line protection. These stations lasted but mere moments, with torpedo-spreads aimed at them released from the Imperial vessels. Survivors of these torpedo attacks were obliterated by long-range gunfire as the fleets closed in. Imperial interdiction vessels drew up alongside and boarded all civilian traffic in the system, including taking the vessel Cypria Selene, aboard which they found Mahavastu Kallimakus, the Scribe of Magnus, a valuable capture.[2b] Taking up orbit themselves, the Space Wolves' vessels commenced saturation orbital strikes upon the entire planet. Magma Bombs, directed energy-weapons, mass drivers, and even ballistic cannons were unleashed upon the surface of Prospero, in an assault that literally changed the surface of the world forever: mountains were levelled, valleys filled with their rubble; the seas were boiled away, flashed into steam; the very bedrock of Prospero was pounded and heated into new shapes, like metal upon the anvil; boiling hot winds swept across the world, bringing with them the smell of heated metals and oils.[1e]

This bombardment was so sudden and so strong that moments after it began, only one population centre still survived on Prospero: a standing unit of Thousand Sons from the Raptora Cult kept a telekinetic shield generated over the city of Tizca. This shield, as hard and impenetrable as those generating it could mentally conceive, proved completely proof against the fearsome orbital bombardment directed at Tizca, even though sympathetic damage to the kine-shield killed several members of the cult maintaining the shield.[1e]

The Space Wolves continued the bombardment of Tizca for some time, perhaps hoping to overload the mysterious shield preventing them from obliterating the city. The time this tactic created allowed the commanders of the Thousand Sons to confer and learn what was happening from Magnus the Red himself. Magnus implored his Legion to give up any notion of defence and accept their deaths with honour. Perceiving the truth of the matter, that Magnus had seriously transgressed against the Emperor's decree and behaved in such a way that the Imperial forces considered the Thousand Sons to be compromised and traitors, Chief Librarian Ahzek Ahriman realised that the legion was damned if they did and damned if they didn't. He therefore resolved to ignore Magnus's wish (in a minor reflection of Magnus's own attitude towards the Emperor's wishes) and lead the Thousand Sons in defence of Tizca and the lives of all within. The senior captains of the legion assented to his command; the Thousand Sons did not intend to perish without a fight.[1e]

The Wolves Unleashed

Wolf Guard advance.

Stymied by the city-wide kine-shield, Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves and long mistrustful of the Thousand Sons, led his legion to landfall. Landing in assault-boats on the eastern side of Tizca, their numbers were so great that onlookers on the ground confused their landing craft with grit particles cast adrift on the winds. Only when they grew closer was the terrifying truth unveiled: the Space Wolves and their allies were landing in such force that Tizca was sure to be annihilated.[1e]

The Thousand Sons, in their pride and arrogance, had assumed that Tizca would never face close-in air attack, and so there were no anti-aircraft guns to threaten the landers or Stormbirds that pummelled the ground defences. Leman Russ himself was the first attacker to set foot on Prospero, leading hundreds of Astartes into the systematic destruction of Tizca's coastline. In an extension of this attack, Thunderhawk gunships blasted clear landing zones further into the eastern part of the city, dropping hundreds of Space Wolf assault elements into the midst of the assembling citizen militia.
Tizca aflame.
While some Thunderhawks were struck from the sky by accurate defensive fire, the overwhelming majority of Space Wolves landed with no problems, immediately striking out at all around them. As these infantry waves linked up, the areas behind them, burned and flattened, were clear for armour units to be air-landed. Predators, Land Raiders, Vindicators and Whirlwinds were deployed, the first three types of vehicle assigned to methodically blast buildings into rubble and gun down all inhabitants that they saw. The Whirlwind artillery batteries were first assigned to strike symbolic targets, such as the statue of Magnus atop the Acropolis Magna, before being loosed in indiscriminate fire missions into areas of the city as yet untouched by the fighting. Loaded with incendiaries, they made sure the City of Light burned.[1e]

Land Speeder crews continued the general devastation, flashing through the city indiscriminately gunning down civilians. In direct response to these hunting packs of Land Speeders, the Prospero Skyguard mobilised their own speeders, disc-shaped craft armed with melta-weapons and missiles, and vicious low-level dogfights broke out as a result. Emboldened by this visible sign of resistance, the Tizca militia and citizenry rose up to attack the invaders in whatever ways they could. Behind these random groups and pockets of resistance, the Prospero Spireguard moved into battle, assigned positions by officers of the Corvidae. The 15th Prosperine Assault Infantry took up positions in a line between the Pyrae Pyramid and the Skelmis Tholus. Their commander, Captain Sokhem Vithara, made the Kretis Gallery, the oldest museum and art gallery on Prospero, his headquarters. The Prospero Assault Pioneers dug themselves out of their collapsed barracks and prepared to sell their lives dearly. The Palatine Guard assembled at the edge of the Space Wolves' deployment zone, their commander, Katon Aphea, positioning them with a notable tactical brilliance.[1e]

Leman Russ and the Space Wolves hit Aphea's line next and overran it within minutes. Tizca was burning.[1e]

Fire in the Streets

The Thousand Sons counter-attack.

It was at this point that the Thousand Sons marines made their presence known, their captains acting in accordance with their hastily-made defence plans. Ahriman led the Scarab Occult in to reinforce the 15th Assault Infantry. Although the Spireguard unit had some success with using the narrow streets of Tizca to their advantage, the were but mortal soldiery, and the Scarab Occult arrived just after the Wolves managed to break through. As Ahriman formed up his gun-line in front of the charging Wolves, he peered down the length of his bolter and found the precognitive thread that would guide his shot into detonating the helm of one of the Space Wolves. The significance of this moment made him hesitate, with the result that the charging Space Wolves opened fire first, smashing several of the Sekhmet to the ground. This action broke Ahriman's hesitation, and he pulled the trigger, killing his first Space Wolf mere moments before the rest of his elite company opened fire, knocking the Space Wolves back. The stunned Wolves were then struck by the various psychic powers employed by non-Corvidae members of the 1st Fellowship, with the survivors either variously being telekinetically mauled to death or burned alive. Not a single Space Wolf from this attack lived, and with clashes like this repeated everywhere the Space Wolves met the Thousand Sons, the first defensive line was formed.[1e]

The counter-attack strategy of the Thousand Sons soon made itself clear. Long thought dormant, the Titan Canis Vertex, positioned in front of the Pyrae Pyramid like some grandiose statue, blossomed into life. Enthroned in a crystal projecting chamber at the peak of the the Pyrame Pyramid, Captain Khalophis, Magister Templi of the Pyrae and the Lord of Hellfire used his powers to inhabit the Titan, taking control over its form. Stepping down from its pedestal, Canis Vertex began to walk once more.[1e] With the Athaneans and the Corvidae able to intercept and discern the Space Wolves' battle-plans, Khalophis was able to determine where the Space Wolves were over-extending themselves. He guided Canis Vertex across the Old City area of Tizca, his pyrokinetic powers boosted by his Tutelary holding open a direct connection to the Warp. As a result of this, while the Titan's weapons worked, Khalophis was able to cause more destruction amidst the Wolves by simply bombarding them with Titan-fist sized balls of pure warpfire. The Wolves responded by directing aerial strikes against the Titan from speeders and gunships, but Khalophis was able to keep an aetherically-charged fireshield around the Titan, incinerating all munitions, dissipating energy-weapons, and melting the pilots of the attack craft into their seats if they flew too close. Canis Vertex was apparently unstoppable and the line was holding.[1f]

The Emperor's Hands

It was at this time that the first reports of non-Space Wolf attackers being present in the Imperial forces began to flash up and down the Thousand Sons' line. The Adeptus Custodes were the first to be seen, making daring hit-and-run attacks from the backs of their powerful jetbikes. While their presence was unsettling, members of the Thousand Sons swiftly discovered that, despite their formidable reputation, Custodes died just as easily as anyone else, particularly when struck by psychic energies. The officers of the legion settled into their defensive perimeters, with Ahriman holding the east, Phosis T'Kar and Hathor Maat the west, Phael Toron defending the port, and the Athaneans holding the centre. The Thousand Sons then concentrated on bringing in surviving Spireguard units and moving civilians through their lines to the safest place left on Prospero: the Pyramid of Photep, southernmost of the central pyramids.[1f]

This lull, or brief silencing of the battle-lines, was followed up by a more literal silencing of the Thousand Sons. Hard on the heels of the Adeptus Custodes came the Sisters of Silence, sliding into the defensive line in small groups or as individuals, their bizarre nature immediately dampening or nullifying the psychic powers of the defenders. While again, many members of the legion were able to overcome these supposed elite troops of the Emperor in personal combat, the disruptive effects of the Sisters were considerable, especially as Leman Russ ordered his own legion to move in alongside the Sisters to take advantage of the confusion. The Thousand Sons wavered, falling back some small distance and losing unit cohesion...until the tactic of concentrating on the Sisters themselves resulted in enough of the Null-Maidens perishing that the Sons were able to again access their psychic powers. Phosis T'Kar, Hathor Maat and Captain Auramagma then formed up a counter-attacking force and pushed a fighting wedge into the Space Wolves' own line, while the rest of their legion's forces restabilised. This wedge achieved success for a limited time, until a terrifying howl was heard around the battlefield; Leman Russ had arrived at where the fighting was thickest. Despite their so-far demonstrated superiority over the Space Wolves, the Thousand Sons fared poorly against the Russ and his retinue, dying in the scores to his own assault.[1f]

In that confused, armoured press, a place of bladed murder and where thoughts could slay, the senior Thousand Sons on the spot realised they had to eliminate Leman Russ then and there, or the day was lost. Auramagma was the first to strike, swathing himself in a shield of pure warpflame and engaging the Russ from mid-distance with concentrated lances of aetheric energy. This attack momentarily staggered the Wolf King, and the watching Sons cheered as the Space Wolves' Primarch disappeared in an explosion of light...then were silenced as that explosion seemed to reflect from the Wolf King as if mirrored, the full intensity of the attack returning to its source. His powers somehow seemingly nullified, Auramagma suffered the horror of losing his immunity to warpflame, his soul being incinerated by unquenchable fire. Screaming, the torch of an Astartes ran from the conflict, the crowded warriors parting to let the damned pass.[1g]

As the Thousand Sons' counter-attack lost momentum before the Russ and this horrific sight, T'Kar ordered Hathor Maat to pull them back and reform their portion of the line further in. As Maat complied with this order, T'Kar elected to remain behind, drawing all the strength from the warp he possibly could, directing his Tutelary to engorge him with it. His powers phenomenally boosted, T'Kar burst through the ranks of the Space Wolves like a telekinetic missile, smashing aside or crushing underneath all that got in his way. Rearing up before the Russ, T'Kar's assault faced one last hurdle; the Emperor's own bodyguard, Constantin Valdor, stepped between the Thousand Son and the Primarch, calmly raising his weapon and naming his opponent as Monster. At this declaration, Phosis T'Kar realised that his over-use of his powers and warp-connection had resulted flesh-change; he now appeared as a hideous, mutated beast, instead of a proud warrior-scholar. Sadly, he lowered his defences and allowed Valdor to slay him.[1g]

The Space Wolves were able to capitalise on the direct pressure exerted by their primarch, as well as land combined Wolves/Custodes/Sisters disruption teams behind the Thousand Sons' lines. One of these teams, led by the Rune Priest Othere Wyrdmake, entered the Pyramid of the Corvidae and began to systematically burn all the texts within. Interrogating the mortally wounded Librarian Ankhu Anen, Wyrdmake learned where and when he could find and confront Ahzek Ahriman.[1f] Ahriman was at this time repeatedly trying to convince Magnus to come to the aid of his legion. The Primarch repeatedly refused.[1g]

The Power of the Warp

A Space Wolves Dreadnought assaults.

The fight for Tizca's port proved to be almost as bloody and relentless as that surrounding Leman Russ, with Phael Toron's 7th Fellowship struggling to hold back repeated assaults by the Space Wolves. Despite their outstanding accuracy, with a notable kill-count coming from headshots on helmetless Space Wolves, Toron (a conservative in thought) finally allowed his Fellowship to go powers-free in the face of a concentrated assault by around six hundred Space Wolves. His men instantly made an impact with their wild demonstrations of psychic power, but that impact was then itself diluted by a pinpoint Dreadnought assault. Toron, staring down the barrels of the Dreadnought's weapons responded by frantically linking with the warp, flooding himself with power, somehow opening up to all manner of psychic skill, not just that of his own Cult discipline. Levitating over the battlefield, striking out with bio-electric powers, the Captain of the 7th disassembled the first Dreadnought, before overriding the minds of the next two and turning them upon each other. As the 7th poured after him, Toron made his way into the Space Wolf lines, laughing hysterically at his sudden, invincible power. Shells from Predator tanks bounced off his shielded-form, while he simply crushed them in return. However, with a sudden start, he realised he could no longer properly control his powers, nor shut off his link to the Warp. His tutelary refused to respond to his commands, instead gleefully flooding him with power beyond his ability to control. With sudden comprehension that their Tutelaries were not loyal pets or assistants, but something far more malicious, Toron overloaded with warp energy and exploded.[1g]

This explosion shot a column of warp-flame vertically up into the sky, visible from all quarters of Tizca, and rocked the city with the force of a warp-core explosion. All nearby to Phael Toron were incinerated, with several sympathetic deaths occurring amongst the Thousand Sons as the explosion emitted waves of power that, when combined with their own super-charged powers, tipped them over the edge. Many others underwent forced flesh-changes as their powers grew beyond them, resulting in their horrified fellows being forced to put them down, or goad them into attacking the Space Wolves on suicide runs. Striding majestically through the Space Wolves' lines, Canis Vertex was caught on the edge of the miniature sun that marked Toron's death. Psychically linked to the Titan, Captain Khalophis struggled to disconnect himself from it before he perished either in the explosion or feedback. It was here than he too, learned that the Tutelaries were not benign entities, when his own wrested control of the Titan from him. Unfortunately it could not prevent Vertex being struck by Toron's death energies, fusing the Titan in place and toppling it. Back in the Pyrae Pyramid, Khalophis realised his tutelary had no interest in saving or protecting him any longer, and the death of the Titan fed back to him through their link, immolating him on the spot.[1g]

Khalophis's own death released another warpfire explosion taking out the majority of the Pyrae Temple, while Canis Vertex collapsed on top of the Pyramid of the Corvidae. These triple explosions decimated the Thousand Sons in the area, tearing the heart out of their defensive lines and their will to fight, as well as eliminating what seemed like their one chance at victory. Ahriman resignedly gave the order for all Prosperine defenders to fall back, shrinking and tightening the defensive line. As they assembled in Ocullum Square, Ahriman realised just how costly the battle had been for his legion, as their numbers were now drastically reduced. He took comfort from the fact that the survivors included nearly all of the older and more experienced marines, including Sobek and Hathor Maat, as he set up the new defensive perimeter.[1h]
Leman Russ attacking Astartes of the Thousand Sons

This line was to encompass the park bordering the Great Library (now destroyed by air and artillery attacks), and run from the Athanean Temple to that of the Pavoni, once again protecting the Pyramid of Photep, lair of Magnus and where Ahriman was directing all the civilians. Setting up a gunline anchored on the surviving Scarab Occult, Ahriman expected to drive off several attacks from the Space Wolves before having to pull back. This expectation was quickly dashed at the sight of Leman Russ himself leading six thousand Astartes and Custodes in a direct assault on the outnumbered Thousand Sons' position. Ahriman realised that he only had one real tactic available to him, and so entreating Maat and Sobek to hold the line, he released his astral form, and sought his own hunter, Othere Wyrdmake. The two psykers duelled in the aetheric plane, above the materium battle below them, with Ahriman eventually emerging victorious. Mindlinking with Wyrdmake, Ahriman dumped all he knew of the tragic reasons behind the battle into the Rune Priest's mind, in an effort to make him understand that the whole fight was the result of mistakes, misunderstandings, and manipulation. Prepared to release Wyrdmake, so that the Rune Priest could bring this knowledge to his superiors and perhaps stop the battle, Ahriman paused for a moment to look over the battlefield and saw Leman Russ and the Space Wolves slaughtering his legion and destroying everything around them. Realising that no matter what he did, his and his fellows' fates were sealed, Ahriman discarded his original plan and spitefully tossed Wyrdmake's captured soul to waiting void-predators of the Warp before returning to his own body, prepared to live with the consequences of his actions and die fighting.[1h]

Duel of Kings

Do you remember what you said to me, brother? Do you remember what you said to me as we fought before the Pyramid of Photep? Do you remember the words you used? I do. As I recall, your face was tortured. Imagine that - the Master of the Wolves, his ferocity twisted into grief. And yet you still carried out your duty. You always did what was asked of you. So loyal. So tenacious. Truly you were the attack dog of the Emperor. You took no pleasure in what you did. I knew that then, and I know it now. But all things change, my brother.
-Magnus the Red, to a statue of Leman Russ, during the Battle of the Fang, M32[5]

Ahriman pulled everyone back further, to the final line in front of the Pyramid of Photep. Briefly having won time to assess his forces, the Chief Librarian realised barely 1,500 Sons still lived, and the Pyramid was crammed full with the surviving citizenry, last survivors of a lineage of scholars that descended from Old Night. With the narrower perimeter and such heavy cover, the Sons were able to briefly hold off the resurgent Space Wolves before the Wolves unleashed their terror troops, figures that the Thousand Sons at first thought were giant wolves, and then realised were part-armoured marines. The Wulfen burst into the Thousand Sons' lines, causing havoc and many deaths. With the approaching howl of Leman Russ himself echoing in their ears, Ahriman and all the others prepared to meet their deaths.[1h]

This however, would not come to pass. For Magnus, watching all the while, finally decided to enter the battle. No longer able to watch the slaughter of his children and destruction of his works, Magnus descended from the Pyramid of Photep with lighting, fire and rain, slaying the Wulfen explosively and driving the Space Wolves back with the ferocity of the deluge, spearing them with telekinetically flung shards of glass, slaying them with one baleful gaze of his eye, and detonating their armoured vehicles with bolts of energy from his staff. From where Magnus descended, the sky split asunder, the very essence of the Warp leaking into realspace. Hundreds of eyes gazed down from this crack in space/time, driving any who gazed back at them insane. As the Space Wolves pulled back before Magnus's overwhelming display of power, only Leman Russ and his two wolf companions, (presumably Freki and Geri) stood unmoved. As Magnus made to confront the Wolf King on the causeway before his pyramid, he slowed time enough to issue his last order to Ahzek Ahriman, that his Chief Librarian and most gifted student retreat inside the Pyramid and report to Amon, his Equerry, in order to receive guardianship of the Book of Magnus. Magnus had foreseen that Ahriman would survive the day, but believed himself destined to fall. With that, the Crimson King engaged Leman Russ in personal combat.[1i]

Magnus generated a lighting cage around them, so that no allies could disturb them, before blasting his brother with such energy. Apparently immune to such attacks, Russ closed with the Red Cyclops, striking enough blows on him that his breastplate cracked open. Staggering back, Magnus hit Russ with a blast of balefire that cracked his own armour and set light to his hair. Separated back out to weapons' length, frostblade met golden axe, as the two combatants duelled with each other. To all those watching, lit by lightning, drenched by bloody rain and each impact echoing with the thunder, the two kings seemed to swell with power and become as if giants.[1i]

At this time, in the nearby ruined halls of one of the cult pyramids, the Space Wolf Skjald Kaspar Ansbach Hawser found himself confronting his own personal daemon, an agent of the entity that had crafted his life for the very purpose of helping create the current events. After a tense stand-off, the daemon attempted to slay Hawser, but Hawser was saved by the intervention of several Space Wolves and a detachment of Sisters of Silence.[2c]

Back at the central battle, the rallied Adeptus Custodes and Space Wolves forces sought to circumvent the duel and enter the Pyramid, crashing across the moat in their eagerness. Magnus spotted this and with one gesture turned the moat to bubbling acid, slaying or wounding all those caught within it. Shadowy hands formed out of pools of standing water on the ground, reaching for those who returned to the moat or stayed on the edge, the wounded dragged down into the dark. As the warpstorm in the sky continued to manifest, the earth shook and split, and it seemed as if Prospero and all upon her were damned.[1i]

In the centre of it all, Magnus and the Russ continued to fight, Magnus battering the Wolf King with fists wreathed in lightning and fire. One of Magnus's mighty fists clove into Russ's chestplate above his heart, the attempted death-punch shattering it and sending ceramite shards deep into his body. Russ grabbed the offending arm and snapped it like a branch. Magnus speared his brother with a blade of pure thought formed around his other hand. As Magnus held his brother transfixed and prepared to finish him off, the two wolf companions of the Primarch leaped at the legs of the Crimson King, sinking their jaws into his flesh. Staggering back, Magnus dissipated the thought-blade, slamming his fist into the head of the black-furred wolf, bursting apart its skull and dropping it to the ground. Roaring in frustrated anger and pain, he grabbed the white-furred wolf with a thought and flung it far over the heads of the watching Space Wolves before turning back to his brother. The two wounded primarchs returned to their wrestling match, somehow levitating over the causeway. Now distracted by the combat, Magnus was unable to prevent a second wave of Wulfen from dashing through the moat, supported by groups of Space Wolves using shards of the pyramid and the stocks of their bolters to make improvised canoes. As Ahriman tried to concentrate enough to direct a force to fight off these approaching threats, a roar of agony from above, followed by a second, separate, louder one directed all attention upwards. Magnus had struck Leman Russ with a particuarly concentrated sorcerous attack, wounding the Wolf King again, but causing him to lash out randomly with his blade in response. The tip of the blade swept across Magnus's remaining eye. In the instant after Magnus reeled from this blow, all the extraordinary pyrotechnic effects surrounding the duel vanished, including the impression that both combatants were giants. leaving all to see two brothers standing staggered and in pain upon a simple causeway. Grievously hurt, Magnus called on regenerative magic to heal his arm and eye, but Leman Russ grabbed him, lifted him high, and broke his back across his knee. The sound echoed like a gunshot in the heart of every watching Thousand Son. As Magnus fell to the ground and the sky wept oily tears for his fall, Magnus mind-linked with Ahriman and revealed his last gift. As Russ brought his frostblade Mjalnar down in a fatal arc, Magnus used Ahriman as a conduit to enact the last part of a great master-spell he had prepared. With those words of power, Magnus and all the Thousand Sons instantly vanished from the surface of Prospero. Mjalnar smote the ground where Magnus had lain. Russ heard Magnus' final words as he vanished:[8a]

You are a sword in the wrong hands, my brother. You have severed an innocent neck, and it will plague you forever.[8a]

The Space Wolves had won, but the Thousand Sons had escaped execution.[1i]


The effects of the Burning of Prospero were far-reaching. Magnus himself managed to transport 1,242 surviving Thousand Sons to the Planet of the Sorcerers (the sum of the digits in 1,242 happens to be 9, the holy number of Tzeentch), where they would later join Horus in the Siege of Terra. Magnus became a being of aetheric energy and servant to Tzeentch, but was shattered in the process.[1i]

Meanwhile, on Prospero, the Space Wolves slew all remaining Prosperine inhabitants regardless of civilian status and destroyed the entire surface of the planet[1], though at least one underground structure remained intact[4]. Some members of the Thousand Sons who were away from the world at the time of its destruction would return to find it a dead world, as was the case with Menes Kalliston and his forces. Upon their withdrawal from Prospero, the Space Wolves were beset by the Alpha Legion and nearly destroyed at the Alaxxes Nebula.[9]

Later during the Heresy, traitor and loyalist forces would clash upon Prospero's surface once more.

Order of Battle


Thousand Sons
10,000[1] to 62,000 Total[8a]

Notable Personnel


Forces Involved
Notable Space Wolves Personnel
Notable Adeptus Custodes Personnel
Notable Sisters of Silence Personnel
Notable Mechanicum Personnel
Other Notable Personnel

See also


External Links

Battles of the Horus Heresy
005-006.M31 Battle of Isstvan IIIFirst Battle of ProsperoWar Within the WebwayBattle of the Somnus CitadelUnrest on CalibanSchism of MarsBattle of DiamatDrop Site MassacreBattle of the Rangda SystemFirst Battle of ParamarManachean WarSignus CampaignTreachery at Advex-MorsSiege of CthoniaBattle for Felweather Keep‎
007-008.M31 Battle of PhallBattle of RavendelveRuin of MaerdanBattle of the Alaxxes NebulaPale Stars CampaignBreaking of the Perfect FortressChondax CampaignSecond Battle of ProsperoFirst Siege of Hydra CordatusBattle of the Furious AbyssBattle of CalthBattle of ArmaturaBetrayal at IthracaDeath of CanopusShadow CrusadeCrusade of IronDoom of BorminaDefence of TyrosDefence of the Three PlanetsBattle of UlixisAmbush at EspandorBattle of Aquila AtollBattle of Drooth IIPercepton CampaignBattle of IydrisThramas CrusadeFall of Baztel IIIBattle of VannaheimSecond Battle of ParamarBattle of Constanix IIMezoan CampaignBattle of BodtBattle of DwellErellian SubjugationSiege of Baal
009-010.M31 Battle of MolechBreaking of AnvillusXana IncursionCarnage of MoroxSangraal CampaignBattle of ArissakBattle of PerditusBattle of SothaDrussen AtrocityScouring of Gilden's StarBattle of NyrconBattle of TallarnCataclysm of IronBattle of NocturneWar of DrakesBattle of PlutoSiege of InwitBurning of Ohmn-MatBitter War
011-014.M31 Reaving of the Xibana ReachesLorin Alpha CampaignSubjugation of TyrinthMalagant ConflictBattle of the Kalium GateBattle of CatallusAxandrian IncidentBattle of the Haddon SystemJarrazr IncursionBattle of TralsakTarren SuppressionBalthor Sigma InterventionBattle of AbsolomScouring of the Ollanz ClusterBattle of ZepathSecond Battle of ZaramundBattle of AnuariBattle of PyrrhanSecond Battle of DavinArgolian MassacresBattle of TrisolianBattle of YarantBattle of KradeBattle of DelugeBattle of Heta-GladiusBattle of the Aragna ChainBattle of KallethBattle of the Diavanos SystemBattle of DesperationBattle of Beta-GarmonWar for AgaropsDefence of RyzaBattle of ThagriaPassage of AngelsThassos IncidentBattle of Zhao-ArkhadSerpent's CoilSiege of BarbarusForicaan CampaignBattle of VezdellBurning of VrexorDawn of DesolationDeath of ChemosBattle of Luth TyreYdursk IncidentFall of TenzebarSolar WarRaid on LunaSiege of TerraGreat Scouring